Why so last minute "lah"

That’s how my fellow country men and neighbors would say it. Some people call it the Last Minute Syndrome, and some Friday Afternoon Syndrome. But generally, this is usually called Procrastination.

Everybody procrastinates, even the most diligent of all. Speakers at technical events and marketing people generally are guilty of it repeatedly. In almost all the events I’ve seen or have been a part of, if you do not have deadlines and milestones, everything will be done the day before.

I know, you might say that there are more urgent things that need to get done and you still have a lot of time to build content for your session, it can wait. Right up to the day before the event when you go, “Oh, damn. I have a presentation tomorrow. Need to prepare” and take valuable time off from yourself, friends and family. I’m personally guilty of this too having to cobble presentations together, and sometimes deleting slides when I don’t know how to explain certain things.

A good approach is what John Perry calls Structured Procrastination. Esp. this part:

The observant reader may feel at this point that structured procrastination requires a certain amount of self-deception

You’d basically have to elevate these workloads temporarily to tell yourself to spend time to work on it. Which is pretty interesting, but you’ll run the risk of everything being elevated. I was a victim of this 6 months ago when I had so many urgent items in my mailbox, everything was flagged RED. Then I had to resort to leaving all important red flag items as BOLD and Unread. Guess what, my mailbox ended up with too many unread mails.

I guess the key here is pace. You need to be able to spread the workload across the time allocated to you. For instance, if you had 2 months to build a presentation and demo, you’d like to pace out the workload, set internal milestones and finish your first draft in 2/3s the time given. (Somewhat like building software). Let me take a quick stab at the process of building a technical session. (if given 2 months)

I’m assuming a typical session runs 75mins, with at least 50% of the session demo oriented.

1.      Vision Statement – State goals of presentation and audience: 1 day

2.      Session Structure and Content: 3 days

a.       Structure of Presentation Slides

b.      Demo Concept and Specs

3.      Slide & Demo Development: 1 month

a.       Spread into 4 builds – 1 /week

b.      Ensure that flow of presentation is smooth and story is intact

c.       Build presentation content including artwork

4.      Slide & Demo Beautification: 2 weeks

a.       Insert into template (if any)

b.      Think of better ways to present data visually / aurally

c.       Create Demo script

d.      Create video walkthrough of demo

5.      Practice, Practice, Practice: 1 week

a.       Set yourself 1 hour a day during that week to record your own presentation onto a WMV file using FRAPS or CAMTASIA.

b.      This will allow you to view your own presentation and modify and smoothen the delivery and impact of the demo.

c.       NEVER EVER do a presentation without at least delivering it once. This allows you to do it in your own time and privacy.

To be fair, event managers can help by building more milestones into their content plan so that speakers have no choice but to conform and follow. So instead of allowing speakers to submit content 1 day before a monthly milestone, you force them to submit content to you weekly.

So there you have it, my personal stab at how one can provide “structure” and yet continue to procrastinate AND get high scores in speaker ratings.



Great Links about improving Presentation Impact:




Comments (2)

  1. peterty says:

    Hello Loke, nice to find your blog! I am the DE from Hong Kong and we met before in US, hope that you still remember me.

    I surely understand what you are talking about, but time management can always be a problem if many heavy workload would come in an ad-hoc manner, planning helps, but not an assurance.

  2. BlitBlog says:

    Hey Peter, yes I do remember you. how’s things in HK? Will you be participating in MEDC China or Taiwan?