Last Tuesday I had to give a presentation on the use of KanBan for personal and self-development. Now I have done many events, public speaking and taught many classes in the past 20 years and as it happened, just 4 days earlier I had given a similar course on the use of KanBan to entrepreneurs with a fairly positive feedback. This should have been a piece of cake and just like another.
However this was not so.
For a start the request for this presentation had come from someone else and while the title was as it mentioned, I had been informed along with another colleague a different requirement. While I generally double check these with clients and fully clear the objectives and make sure that we are all aligned of what is to be expected, delivered and learnt, I failed to do my due diligence and communication.
The next issue was that one of the pre-requisite for this job was that it had to be a 4 hour long lecture! I already felt a little uneasy about this. If we are talking about a tool that’s supposed to help you better plan your day and not waste time, spending four hours on a subject that should be no longer than 60 to 90 minutes is already contradictory, a waste of time. I had talked to a colleague who was supposed to be co-presenting this session with me and together we had decided that he was going to dedicate sometime to explaining the benefits of scrum framework and uses.
Finally just a day before, my colleague asked if I could take over the presentation for both parts. From one point it would have been easier, as I could control the flow but from another aspect I had to now read through his presentation and deliver it on his behalf.
The day arrived and after many hours of preparation, arranging slides and working out how to make it all flow, I joined the online session where the presenters started the session by asking two questions, reading it out at the speed of light and asking the participants to respond in the chat.
As he was speeding through these questions I felt an uneasy chill going through my body that this is not going to go so well. I took over by asking everyone to let me know what their expectation was from the course and much to my disappointment there was an additional disconnect as some people were looking at the concept from a business point of view.
We were already mis-aligned about the requirement and expectation, and now I had to address a disconnected and muted audience through a camera with some power points that were not suitable for this crowd.
I took a few minutes to reorganize my thoughts, if this was an off line presentation, I could have kept them engaged by asking them more questions and doing more practical hands on, however here all I had was a power point presentation. As the session progressed into the first fifteen minutes most of the attendees turned off their video and from there on, I was just talking to myself. I had some feedback from one or two participants and by the time we had reached half time I could already feel that I could not carry on. I suggested a short 15 minute break to help me pull my thoughts together and prepare myself to dive into to some practical use of the program and how to implement it, but as we started the engagement was almost at zero. I ploughed through different examples and by this knowing that I might as well be talking to myself. After a about 45 minutes to 1 hour of practical demo and use case, I stopped and asked if anyone wanted to know more or had any other questions. Apart from some basic questions, all other participants had already switched off, probably gone cooking or cleaning.
As I closed the session an hour earlier than the scheduled and required minimum time for the session I already knew that this was probably the worst presentation I have done so far. I could not see my audience and even if I wanted to engage with them they had already disengaged from me. I remembered the book “Do no harm” by Henry Marsh the famous British Neurosurgeon whose many operations had also gone terribly wrong. He had done his best, under the circumstances but the result was one were the patients would die earlier or were left paralysed. I pondered upon this session; I had done my best, despite the challenges and circumstances.