Speaking of Six Sigma

When I’m asked to do a presentation, for corporate training or national conferences, I always try to present in a style that reflects how we practice lean six sigma.

How do you gain buy-in in any change process? By having the group participate in the discussion or decision! So, I add interactive segments into my presentations wherever possible.

At one conference I was caught by surprise -I thought my presentation was scheduled for 40 minutes and made my slides accordingly, but when I arrived and checked the official schedule, my time slot said 75 minutes. Oops! I’d already submitted my slides months before, with timing that allowed for some interactive Q&A during the talk, and the handouts were already published. What could I to a) fill the time slot while b) using the 40-minute slides I’d prepared and c) looking as if it was planned that way all along?

I decided to add interactive segments in addition to the pre-planned Q&A sections. After each part of the presentation, which focused on using6S in the clinical (hospital) laboratory setting, I asked participants to “buddy up” in twos or threes to discuss what issues they had in their labs related to each S. It turned out that almost every lab had a “junk room” (the better to practice sorting), cabinets and drawers that weren’t labeled (the better to practice straightening), etc. After each buddy session, I would ask the group for examples of what had been discussed. These worthwhile conversations had the effect of energizing the group, made the time fly (and I ended right on time), and as an added bonus, my talk received high scores on the evaluation form. I was even invited to give the presentation again at this year’s conference.

Handpicked Content:   American Standard - Six Sigma

Do you use a similar tactic when giving a presentation or training? I’d love to learn about more examples from our expert speakers and trainers out there!

Comments 3

  1. michael cardus

    Interactive presentations lead to higher scores as well as higher retention. This is something that is intuitive, I often wonder why we must sit through a power point death presentation and presenters feel that the audience is stupid to sit there.

    IF we looked at the defect analysis of presentations we would find high results! Put the DMAIC process into your presentations and use the data to lower defects (people not really getting it 6S) and realize that higher success lies with hands on experience – mixed with theoretical talks.

    Interactive and multimedia presentations have that “Sticky” process creating a learner based presentation. Great Post and thank you!

  2. GaryPCox

    Hi Sue, Another good posting!

    I agree with the previous comment, interactive presentations make for more memorable experiences by the attendees. I too engage the attendees with open ended questions and encourage dialogue with neighbors from time to time.

    Real life examples are great too, not only those that fit your specific industry. I try to show both and thus let attendees appreciate that LSS is not only for industry but in volunteer work, home, schools… wherever.

    There is one factor that you didn’t mention, but as you were invited back I’d say you have it; that is the presenter must have energy, passion and be a good oral communicator. I’ve seen many presentations with great content and format only to be delivered by someone who was darn right dry! Both are needed.


  3. Sue Kozlowski

    Thanks Michael for your post. I promised myself early on that I would never put up a slide that I would have to apologize for. Well, I’ve broken that promise but just a couple of times! And I hope we all know the dangers of encountering Professor Boring, in the Darkened Room, with the PowerPoint Presentation.

    I also experienced a lot of lectures in college from people who were geniuses… somewhere… but not in the classroom. I love the phrase I learned while working at Wayne State University in Detroit – the instructor has a choice to be the "sage on the stage" or the "guide on the side." In other words, are they there to ensure that there is teaching? or to ensure that there is learning? You may argue that the concepts are circular, but I’ve seen some people who only care that they are in the limelight. Others, with passion as Gary suggests, are the teachers who we remember throughout our lives.

    Thanks to both of you for your comments!

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