Preparing for DisruptHR [Part 1]

I’ve spent the last two months thinking about my upcoming presentation for Disrupt HR Chicago where I and 10 other speakers will have a chance to speak on a disruptive HR related topic. Speakers have  a total of 5 minutes on to speak on a topic with a total of  20 slides, slides advance every 15 seconds automatically. This is a rapid-fire type talk with an audience of about 300 people. My final slides were due yesterday and there were many steps along the way to get to completion.

I started with a general sketch of what I want to talk about. I also know how I’d like the audience to feel when I’m finished, and I know the important takeaways, the a-ha moments.  In thinking about my approach to my talk I’ve noticed a few ideas that have helped me start to craft my presentation:

Sketch ideas on paper first

Revolutionary idea here folks. I made the mistake of starting to design my talk in PowerPoint first and found that having to design a presentation from a blank slide is scary. I never realized how much starting with a logo helps to get the creative juices flowing so without them I felt lost. The idea to start by writing out our ideas on paper first echo’s what Garr Reynolds from Presentation Zen writes about. I received similar advice from DisruptHR Chicago Co-Founder Nicole Dessain. Nicole added that when sketching out your ideas on paper add a short theme to each slide and draw an image that could fit for what you want to convey. Below are my 20 slides with theme on each slide – this is where I started. I chose to sketch using a Sharpie Marker to focus on ideas rather than getting all the words down. As Gary Vaynerchucnk would say… “Now is not the time to get fancy”.




Mash Two Ideas Together

Each speaker is fortunate enough to have a call with an expert in storytelling  and I was lucky enough to connect with Beth Nyland from StoryStudio Chicago. When I talked to Beth I had a dilemma, I wanted to talk about three topics and wasn’t sure how I could fit all three into 5 minutes without sounding disjointed. She asked questions that made me rethink my approach. Beth asked “Have you thought about mashing two of the three ideas together?”. I obviously hadn’t thought of that and once she said it my entire presentation started to click. She showed me ways I could take two of the three topics and mash them together in a way where I would be able to connect all three. The mashing technique allows me to have a coherent talk and showed me a different way to convey my ideas.

Thoughtfulness Takes Time

Five minutes is not that long to convey a message that has meaning and will make an impact on the audience. 15 seconds per slide is barely anytime so every single word needs to really count when you only have about 600 words to use.  I’m glad I’ve given myself the two months to let my thoughts and ideas marinate and wander. Some ideas have lasted while others no longer make sense for what I want to talk about. The “think time” has been invaluable to craft and shape my message.

I’ll post Part 2 as a follow that will detail how I practice my speech.