Delivering a Webinar on BPM: How I am preparing to give this presentation


Last year, Modern Analyst asked me to conduct a business analysis webinar (scheduled for February 25, 2016); see Modern Analyst webinar page for details on the BPM Webinar. They gave me the freedom of selecting the BA topic with the time constraint of 1 hour including a Q&A period. Given adequate lead time, I gladly accepted. Although I have written many articles and authored a book, my process for developing a presentation is a bit more involved. It stems from a lesson I learned over 45 years ago.

During this endeavor, I decided to document my preparation process thinking it may be useful to others given the frequency project managers and business analysts conduct presentations. Note, I have provided a mindmap of my February 25, 2016 webinar in this article.

Lesson Learned

Never use formal notes in giving a presentation. I rely on memory. As a backup plan, I only have a list of bullet-points to remind me in case I have a senior moment (memory lapse).

I learned this rule of mine during my very first management presentation. It was over 45 years ago prior to becoming ambivert; I was a dominant introvert and relied mostly on the written word for communication. Today, I have matured to being an extrovert in most situations.

Unfortunately back then, I was also a poor typist. I typed full presentation notes using an actual typewriter. Perhaps you have seen one in a museum or an old movie. Believe it or not, the machine actually strikes letters forged on metal dyes onto paper utilizing real ink on a ribbon. The type was permanent – no backup function, or cut and paste here. For errors, the best you had was something called “white-out” or a rough white eraser wheel with a black attached brush which for me always seemed to tear the paper.

Since I made many typos, my god-send was “onion paper.” This paper was very thin and easy to erase print.

On the day of my first presentation, I was a bit nervous. However, I had my crutch – typed presentation notes. I started the presentation fine until a very assertive (perhaps aggressive) manager asked a question early in my talk. I answered the question with no problem, but then looked down at the podium; I dropped the use of podiums later. Alas, in my nervous state I had placed my sweaty palm flat down on my notes. I lifted my hand, and to my dismay, I now had a mirror image of my notes on my palm which left the “onion paper” blank. Somehow I got through my presentation with no notes. I guess it’s true, “What does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Since then, I have relied on my memory instead of notes. As a wonderful side benefit, this helps me deliver a presentation in a casual story telling style, ad-libbing comments, and interjecting humor plus being physically active walking and using hand motions; I don’t deliver webinars sitting. This reliance on memory, of course, means spending as much time on the delivery as developing the presentation itself. In doing this, I use different techniques to document the presentation that assist me in the memory delivery.

Preparation Process

As in previous efforts, I selected a topic, in this case Business Process Management, and then developed an initial outline of talking points. I then iteratively build a slide deck (PowerPoint) with text that explains the ideas and images that stimulate the imagination on the concepts. With the slides done, I develop formal text on each slide along with estimated delivery time. This is what I called my baseline deck. See Illustration 1.

I use the baseline for requests for slide deck copies. With the baseline, the requester receives the slides in PDF format. Note, the PDF does not provide the formal text and timing for each slide in the form of presentation notes.

Illustration 1. Example of Baseline PowerPoint Notes Page 2

However, the baseline text is not what I use for oral delivery. I create a copy of the baseline deck and then replace the formal text with a set of bullet-points. I call this my narrative deck. This narrative deck is what I refer to during the oral delivery to ensure a conversation tone. If I use the baseline deck, I tend to read the text in a monotone fashion; not good. The narrative deck sets the stage for casual delivery with room for ad-lib comments, storytelling, and humor.

Illustration 2. Example of Bullet-Point PowerPoint Page 2

But, this is not what I use to rehearse the delivery. I create a mindmap again from the baseline deck. The mindmap is what I use to train my mind for a smooth delivery. It contains a central theme and radiates associated thoughts on the subject through key words, colors, sizes, and pictures. My end-goal is to be able to deliver the webinar without any notes. The narrative deck is only for backup during the presentation. See Illustration 3.

Illustration 3. Mindmap for BPM Webinar

Do I ever mess-up and forget a talking point? Of course I do; these are the consequences of being human. But more important than missing a talking point is striving for a smooth delivery that promotes easy comprehension and that’s the whole purpose of the webinar. Hope to have you attend on February 25; you may wish to print out my BPM webinar mindmap and follow along.

Summary of the Steps (all steps are iterative)

  1. Select topic
  2. Develop initial outline of talking points
  3. Build a slide deck with text and images
  4. Write baseline text (PowerPoint slide notes) and estimate delivery time for each slide – Baseline Deck used for audience PDF copies
  5. Copy the baseline deck and replace the baseline text with a list of bullet-points for oral delivery backup – Narrative Deck used as a speaker reminder during actual webinar
  6. Draw a mind-map using baseline text – used for training memory (i.e., rehearse)

P.S. Later in my career, I dropped the use of a podium when giving a presentation to an audience physically present. I have found the delivery is much more egalitarian when there is nothing between me and the audience.

Never have a barrier between you and the person when you are conversing. You do not need protection. Have you ever noticed how many managers have their office desk between them and their visitor? Why is that? Do they need protection?

Author: Mr. Monteleone holds a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in computing science from Texas A&M University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP®) by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), a Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®) by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) by the Scrum Alliance. He holds an Advanced Master’s Certificate in Project Management (GWCPM®) and a Business Analyst Certification (GWCBA®) from George Washington University School of Business. Mark is also a member of the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE) International and the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).

Mark is the President of Monteleone Consulting, LLC and author of the book, The 20 Minute Business Analyst: a collection of short articles, humorous stories, and quick reference cards for the busy analyst. He can be contacted via –

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