I wrote How to Add Action to Your Next Presentation in September of 2019. It was before COVID-19, before I and many others have self quarantined. Wednesday, I’ll be presenting to a group of 12 managers on handling stress. I will not be in their office. They’ll be seated at the conference table and I’ll be on their large screen presenting virtually.

While reading this post one last time before publication I asked myself, “Is the advice I offer still good advice even if the presentation is virtual?” My answer was not only does it work but it may be more essential than ever to add action to your words.

Last summer I spent an hour sharing some of my thoughts on leadership with a diverse group of business and community leaders. The group included CEO’s, senior VP’s, educators, law enforcement, and others. At the beginning of my presentation, I explained I was going to use a shotgun approach and shoot multiple ideas at them from basic leadership to more advanced concepts.

I explained my goal was for each to pick one technique, and only one, that they would commit to implementing.

How many meetings, training seminars, and planning sessions have you sat through inundated with great ideas only to realize later that little was done or accomplished? And how many times have you conducted, led, or facilitated the same without creating a plan of action? Ideation is important, but what good are ideas without action?

What Do You Want to Accomplish with Your Presentation ? 

If you’re conducting a training session, giving a presentation, or facilitating a meeting the action process begins with understanding what you want to accomplish. Begin by asking yourself what action you hope as the take away from your seminar. What do you want to actualize? Here are a few examples:

  • Strategic planning
  • Identifying problems and opportunities
  • Team building and motivation
  • Education
  • Delegating and task assignment
  • Creating a vision
  • Developing a mission
  • Goal setting
  • Organizing
  • Information sharing
  • Time management

These are only examples, the purpose of your session might or might not be listed above; the key is to know what you want to accomplish. Begin planning your presentation by determining what you want your audience to take away from it. What’s your purpose?

Set the Stage

Once you’ve identified your purpose set the stage by announcing your objective.

  • Purpose – Begin your talk by sharing your purpose, but not only verbally. Use action sheets * (a one pager listing action ideas), power point, video, or other media to appeal to multiple senses and drive your point home. *I’ve emailed an action sheet to the mangers in this weeks virtual meeting. 
  • Goal – Next, let your audience know your goal is for each of them to commit to a plan of action.
  • Talk about the importance of note taking – Not only will note taking keep participants engaged it’s a valuable tool to help pick an action plan.

Share Actionable Suggestions  

Remember the goal and stay the course. Offer activity suggestions and ideas throughout the presentation.

  • Explain how to choose an action – Tell the participants that you will share actionable ideas throughout your presentation, and they may pick any of those, combine them, or create their own.
  • Remind the attendees of their assignment to choose one action to follow.
  • Offer a suggestion list or include it in the action plan sheet.

Gather Actions

At the conclusion of the meeting ask each for their action plan. Depending on the size of the group I like each to announce their plan to the group.

Follow Up         

At this point a purpose has been shared, actions suggested, and commitments made. However, without follow-up, it could all go for naught.

  • Set dates for follow up.
  • Don’t wait until completion to check progress.
  • Set a completion date or designate the action as ongoing.

Is it Time to Stop Talking and Start Acting?

At the end of my presentation with the leadership group I went to each individually and asked what they choose to implement. Everyone had something they were willing to try and many were eager to get started.

Adding action to words begins with a thought process, a belief that talk, planning, and discussion are critical to taking action, but are only part of the process that leads to action. Talk alone isn’t the process. I may be beating a dead horse but until you completely accept that talk isn’t action, nothing will change. The conference room, board room, and class room will remain places that stuff is talked about yet little is done.

If you’d like to read more on how to add action to your next presentation go here, You Can’t Talk Stuff Done. 

How Can I help You?

I’d love to meet you and your team virtually. I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. I’m also available to conduct training.

Photo by Benjamin Child on Unsplash