Checklists… I love’em !

I have to deliver or facilitate a few training sessions every month. That is my job, no problem.

Let me restate this : I have to deliver or facilitate a few different training sessions or events every month. Oh !

I currently deliver and facilitate more than 15 different courses/events in a given year. Half of those are delivered once or twice a year. A third are designed and delivered only once. All of them require props, handout, speakers, accessories, tools, pens, flip charts, index cards etc. I write a delivery scenario for each of those courses, speeches, or event. That scenario follows a strict timing that dictates when to use the thing. I use special visual cue in my slide-show to help me remember all this.

But then, this is the « now » of the show…what about the « before » ?

I remember fondly a time when everything was simple…I would walk in the classroom or presentation auditorium with my speech in mind, deliver it flawlessly, enjoy the massive standing ovation, walk out, take my check et voilà !

Not really.

This never happened.

 

EVER!!

A typical event rather included (this list is not exhaustive!)

  • the wrong handout,
  • a non-functioning projector (obviously, this occurred AFTER the start of the presentation in front of an executively impatient audience !),
  • a burning projector (yep…really.)
  • a computer crash (this was before I switched to a Mac !),
  • a previous – and incomplete – version of my presentation being shown,
  • a non-functioning computer,
  • no flip-chart,
  • a U-shaped room when I required a classroom setting,
  • no attendance sheet (in an organisation that craves for that check mark next to the names of their employees),
  • no session evaluation (when my client wanted proof that my sessions were good !)
  • and a missing prop that was supposed to be the ultimate way to convince people to change their behaviour.

Oh, I forgot….

the magic trick that transforms you into a complete idiot,

AND the defective animation in PowerPoint that mutates you into a red-faced-balloon-attached-to-that-great-pure-silk-red-tie-that-was-supposed-to-look-so-good-with-that-white-shirt….

My humble solution : the check list.

Create one for every course, presentation, speech etc. EVERY single one. Build it as you design your presentation. Add crude cues in the presentation draft version. Once the content is completed, review the presentation to refine the delivery and copy your crude cues in a simple table in a text document (Word, Pages etc). A table is great because it is simple to create, simple to use and simple to RE-use.

My current check lists now include five columns :

Column 1 : The item . A prop, a handout, pens etc.

Column 2 and 3 : To Prepare. I split this one in two : To do and DONE. I simply add a check mark for those items to be designed, photocopied, folded etc.

Column 4 and 5 : To buy. Again I split this one in two : To buy and DONE.

I found that separating the Prepare and Buy items helped me plan ahead.

Lastly I add the check marks OR the initials of the person responsible for it. Some clients have clerical help who I can rely upon. Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to work with a great administrative assistant. Those are the initials you put there. You then only need to follow up on them to add the DONE check marks at the end.

Print this. Review it. Use it a few days prior to the commitment…and you are done !

I have never forgotten anything without it since the day of illumination.

And that includes back-ups of my presentation slides : one on a USB flash card, one printed form (my speakers notes and timing), one on drop box and one on my mobile device ( with the proper connector in case this need to be your main device…yep, even a Mac could , possibly, against all odds and statistics , fail… but Iphone DO NOT FAIL!)

Bonus : Bring it with you and review it when you leave the premises. This will remind you to bring back your laptop and power supply, speakers, props and evaluation forms !!

The conclusions :

1- Plan ahead

2- Plan ahead…that includes creating a check list.

3- Plan ahead …review and use that checklist.

4- Plan ahead…when it is time to go back !

The only way to predict the future is to create it, said Peter Drucker ( ok, I know, the guy is dead , but that does not make him any less smart!!!)

….and to use a checklist !

 

Originally published a long time ago in a public blogging site.

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