How not to close a presentation...

(A true story)

If you say...

"... thanks for that presentation. In just a second, we'll be opening the buffet. But first, an announcement: the 8.30 meeting tomorrow is not in Building A, but in Building F. Now let's eat!"

They will hear:
"... thanks for that presentation. In just a second, we'll be opening the BUFFET... announcement... YEAH! .. meeting... FOOD! ... building something ... FOOD! Now LET'S EAT!"

Remember Maslow's pyramid? It was a ranking of the things which motivate us, from basic physiological needs at the bottom, up through security, friendship and achievement and on to creativity and the rest of the self actualisation crew. Here's a diagram if you've forgotten, or never cared. Click on it to - hey presto! - enlarge.

Important point: normal people who are busy with high-brain activities towards the top of the pyramid are really, really easily distracted by issues lower down - because they are more fundamental.

This is why your top creative team can't have great ideas if they are worried about their jobs. It's why you don't carry on mowing the lawn if the guy next door drops his pants and jumps you.

And it's why you should never
ever mention the imminent opening of the buffet until you have got the important business issues well and truly out of the way.

I experienced this live and in terrifying Stampede-o-rama last week, exactly as described above. As soon as the word "buffet" was out, jackets were being grabbed, chairs were scraping and conversation had started. What followed was not just drowned out, it was ignored by 100 lizard brains who could already smell the steaming flesh. And nobody - nobody - was at Building F the next morning. Oops.

So do say....
"... thanks for that presentation. Here's an announcement: the meeting tomorrow has been moved from Building A to Building F. Got that? We moved the meeting. Now the buffet is open, so let's eat!"

More on the best structure for presentations here.

Hungry man pic by misterbisson at flickr.
Pyramid from Wikipedia.


Rick Knowles said...

So true. At the point food or breaks are announced, everything else might as well be shelved.

"Steaming Flesh" - excellent.

Adam said...

Thanks Rick! It certainly was a primordial moment...

Jon Thomas, Presentation Advisors said...

Yes! Very insightful post and not often thought about. One of those things where I thought to myself, "You know, that makes PERFECT sense!"

I'll make sure I pass this advice along.

Adam StJohn Lawrence. said...

Thanks Jon! :)

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