Invited to a division “meet the troops” today. Concept is a good one — help people understand where things are and where they are going. Throw in some free food and you’ve got the trappings around a good event. But you still have to communicate. Uh oh.I like to watch the audience at such events. They start out engaged, but after a parade of managers trying to pass out kudii and do something they’re not typically good at (presentations), it quickly becomes a heavy-eyed doodlefest. People can only stay attentive to facts so long.Here are some of the nuggets I heard today:

  • Am I going to talk to that?” (looking at fellow managers after a question)
  • I can’t keep this stuff straight” (trying to explain a new initiative — THAT’s motivating)
  • none of us have any paper“, “who’s next?” (when the agenda got a little out of whack)
  • I just wanna put one more thing out there” (after announcing they were a few minutes over)
  • what I’m really here to talk about…” (right after an opening joke salvo — which was funny)
  • I was told I only had three minutes, but that’s tough, because I’ve got the mic” (what’s really tough is trying to stay awake through a presentation that ran too long)
  • I’m supposed to recap what?” (when the meeting opener was handed the mic to close)

Nothing horrid, and most quite typical. But not things that drive a bunch of enthusiasm from the troops. Another element that needed attention was the use of the microphone. This audience was in the neighborhood of 200 folk, and several times the presenter had conversations and jokes with those on the front row, but the rest of us only heard one side of it through the mic. Either drop the mic and banter, or repeat everything for the larger audience.

Connect with your audience like you vote in Chicago — early and often

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