The LSE ‘Killer Presentation’ Workshop

I was at the London School of Economics on Thursday morning to spend time with around 40 very talented students from LSE, King’s College London and Cass Business School who were all competing for the LSE’s annual business plan competition. They were at LSE for 3 days competing on a variety of challenges and one of their non competitive events was a workshop I conducted on behalf of RealAcad.

Regulars here will recognize the title. I’d done a similar workshop 3 months ago at my alma mater, NUS. As a result, I saved myself some time in the preparation as I was comfortable about the content. Over time, I’ve learnt that the best workshops are where I do as less talking as I can get by with. And this workshop was modeled on the same philosophy. And hence, the takeaways of such a workshop are very dependent on the participants. And, as it is the case with such an experience, I had a multitude of learnings to share.

First things first though. I’d like to ensure all the relevant links are available.

Short Version of Slides: Up on This is a very short version and hopefully, conveys the essence of the flow.

Photos: The photos are up on bEPIC’s Facebook Page

Video: The entire workshop is up on video. Part 1 is I trust you’ll find the rest of the parts in the related videos/by clicking on the bEPIC channel. There are 9 parts – Very roughly, the parts are as follows –
1-3: Activity
4-5: Core part of the workshop. We had 14 people present. (We did not video the break outs in between)
6: My content
7-9:   More content and closure .

Overall, the workshop was rated an 8.7/10. And some of the feedback would be part of my learnings. I decided to post this a few days later so as to have a complete list of links (photo, video etc) and also to have some time to reflect on my biggest takeaways.

Also, to acknowledge credit where it is due – Fantastic work by the LSE bEPIC team led by Imla and PK, who were fantastic throughout. They were very responsive in the preparation phase, very good on the day and excellent in the post workshop follow up.

Over to my big learnings –

– Google form preparation. Prior to the workshop, participants received a link to this form. I find it critical to understand their expectations from a workshop. This is massively helpful as it helps me tailor my message.

Love the new format. I am really liking this new format of workshops where I have the participants involved for the most part. The rough split for this one was 30 mins activity, 1 hour participants content, 15 mins my content and 15 mins closure. Not too bad.

In war, I’ve found that plans are useless but planning is necessary. I remembered this quote as there were many things that went different from plan. For example, the activity was designed for 15 minutes but since we still didn’t get it, I didn’t feel it right to stop. The other surprise was to have 14 folks volunteer for self introductions. Last time I did this, I barely had 10 (which was the ideal number). And here again, I decided to go ahead with all 14 as I didn’t want to deny an eager participant the opportunity.

Practicing what I preach. It’s easy to discuss great presentations. It’s hard to learn how to prepare for one. And one of the essential requirements in approaching a ‘killer’ presentation is being thorough. This was the mental battle I fought as we were on the clapping game activity.

I was running behind time but I decided to persist. What crossed my mind then was that the key factor in
approach is being thorough and if we were to skate over the lessons from the activity in the interest of time, then I would be practicing something very different from what I preached. In retrospect, I think it was the right choice to make.

Embrace everyone, especially those that do not conform. I had a very enthusiastic young friend at the workshop who was bent on making himself heard. And, it was a learning process to channel his natural enthusiasm for the workshop. In this case, I decided to embrace him as my best friend i.e. person I picked out most often during the workshop. :)

And he did a fantastic job and energized us repeatedly with his energy. I’m glad for that.

Contrasts between NUS and LSE. I had some interesting observations here. The overall rating for the workshop was almost identical. But, the feedback differed
In my previous workshop, a lot of the discomfort was caused by the air conditioning which I didn’t notice thanks to my attire. In this, however, it turned out to be being seated on the floor. I noticed a lot of discomfort among participants and their feedback told me as such as well.
I made this choice as the setting is ideal for working on flip charts and adding a bit of variety but I was part pained and part amused to see 18-22 year olds in such pain. I’m not sure if it’s a cultural thing i.e. sitting on the floor.

The other big difference was the energy. I struggled to get 10 volunteers at NUS while here, I had 14 the moment I asked the question. I felt a higher level of energy all through. And interestingly, I came out of the workshop feeling more energized than drained, in spirit.

Both of these are observations and I don’t know what to make of it. I’m eager to hear of any insights on these in the comments..

– Giving it 110%. At the end of the day, it was about what happens on the day and it’s only your effort that you can control. I think it came out alright. I’ve never been able to score above an 8.8/10 in a workshop of this nature and I’m glad this turned out to be at the higher end.

I like seeing the feedback right after the workshop as it’s nice getting a pulse of how people felt. I realize I still get that knot in my stomach when I see a rating of 6/10 right after giving it my all for 2 hours.. but I’ve learnt to accept that people have very different learning styles and it’s hard to cater to all.

That’s work in progress. And, with every attempt, I hope get better. :)

Finally, I just wanted to say Thank You to everyone involved – the LSE team, the fantastic group of students and to RealAcad. 
I learnt a lot from the experience and I hope everyone involved did too. Looking forward to your comments. :)