Jim Stone's blog on issues relating to creating professional presentations for the technology industry.


The Blackberry Index

Posted in [All], [General], [Miscellaneous] By Jim Stone

How many times have you given a presentation where the attendees either have a PC open or are sneaking a look at their Blackberry’s?  What, every time you present!  Well, it is a fact of life that it happens; but that does not mean you need to accept it.  To help guide you, I have created the “Blackberry Index”.

First of all, let’s talk about multi-tasking.  What that means that a person is either doing two things badly or focusing on one thing while they pretend to also be doing something else, like listening to your presentation.  Multi-tasking is a myth; you are really shifting from task to task with a ramp-up time each time you shift tasks.  Research shows that people who multi-task actually take 50% longer to complete the tasks.

The Blackberry Index

So here is a little guide.  Next time you present, see how long before someone starts doing email or sneaks a peak at their Blackberry. 

Level 1 – 0 to 10 minutes.  You are in trouble!  You can’t start over so see if you can change the pace and if possible, introduce a new speaking point. 

Level 2 – 11-20 minutes.  Well, you got off to a good start but you are losing them.  Try asking some questions or have some type of interactive exercise.    

Level 3 – 21-30 minutes.  You have been doing pretty well but the natives are getting restless.  Certainly you can keep up the interaction or very deliberately start summarizing key points and actions.  That will get them back on track. 

Level 4. – Over 30 minutes.  You are a star, but don’t press your luck.  Wrap it up and take questions.  Just because you had an hour doesn’t mean you have to talk that long.  

If you are really worried about losing them, talk about the Blackberry Index at the start of your presentation and make them embarrassed to sneak a peek.

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