What makes a presentation interesting?
March 13, 2012 11:25 AM   Subscribe

I've been asked to do a presentation to the new college hires that will be joining my department once they graduate. I've been given an hour, and told that I could pretty much do whatever I wanted with them, as long as I spend around 15 minutes talking about what it's like to work at our company and what they should expect for the first 3 months. I'd love to hear some input about how I could make this presentation awesome, and use the 1 hour effectively.

So I work in Software QA and these are new college hires that have accepted their offers. I was in their shoes ~7 months ago and I still feel new to the company, so I find this a little intimidating.

I'd love to hear some ideas about how to make my presentation and time with them interesting. I didn't get to go to a new college hire immersion day, but I got to see the presentation that was made last year and it didn't impress me at all. I don't want to treat them like 5 year olds and have a slideshow that explains what I do on a typical day - last year's presentation did that and it looked boring. If I was in the audience I would have felt demotivated.

Instead I'd like to do something a little different. I do want to present to them about what it's like at the company, but not with a "I wake up, I get to work, I make coffee, I check my emails" kind of slideshow (because that's what was done in the past and it wasn't very good). So any ideas?

Additionally, I can give stuff away. My company prints things (if you look at my answer history you will see who I work for), so we have all sorts of stuff in the office I could give away. I could also probably afford a ~$20 give away if I did something where that was necessary. But there should also be a good incentive for me to give things away - you know?

So yea, looking for ideas with regards to:
- How to make a cool ~15 minutes presentation about what it's like to be working at my company, and how their life at the company is going to be like.
- How to spend the rest of the ~45 minutes I get with these college hires (I can involve whoever I want within the company as well - like other people in the QA department).
- Cool things to do with them that won't bore them, but won't make them feel like they are treated like children.
- Any other cool ideas.
- Tips on what makes a presentation interesting.

There's a lot of pressure on me from my managers to really use this time effectively. Also, hire ups in the organization will be at this presentation so it's a time for me to present myself to the management as well as to the new college hires. This will take place in a conference room, and I don't plan on taking them out of the conference room.
posted by carmel to Work & Money (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would set aside the last 15 minutes for a Q&A session.
posted by DoubleLune at 11:34 AM on March 13, 2012

I suggest a bit of a team building exercise so everyone knows a little bit about eachother. I know that sounds cheesy but in all my jobs I enjoy learning more about others without the awkward choose- a -nickname- where- the- first -letter -starts- with- the- first -letter- of -your -name type thing.
You could do the whole Boiler Room conversation where you through your car keys on the table and talk about all the cool things you can buy now.
You could do a scare tactic where you tell them things they do that will get them fired. (I find that more comical than helpful.)
You could also tell them about organizations in your company that may do social service work. To feel like you are part of the community. Or talk about the fun events like Holiday Parties you will have.
Presentations to me are always boring unless there is group interaction.

Good Luck!!
posted by redandblue at 11:36 AM on March 13, 2012

I assume they are undergraduates, not graduate degrees?

How about ;
Intros - who are you, and who are they
a 'what's important to know' sheet. HR, key people (dev, business), phone numbers, email addresses
a 'what is it we do here?' talk. What is the core industry? (for new developers in financial services, I typically give them a 15 minute 'crash course' in trade processing, for example)
What is the role of QA overview - where do they sit in the SDLC workflow? Is it an Agile shop or waterfall? Both?
"5 things I struggled with / was new to me / I learned my first 3 months"
and Q&A.
posted by rich at 11:37 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it's useful to answer common questions for people who are new to your workplace -- tips for avoiding social screw-ups. What should I wear day-to-day? What's the organizational culture like - do we call everyone by first names, or are higher-ups Mr So-and-so? Does most of the internal communication happen by email or some other method? (Not saying you need to answer these in Q-and-A format - but you could convey the social norms through a video showing people dressed in the expected way, behaving in the expected way, be sure that you introduce higher-ups at the meeting using the expected form of address, etc.)

Try to think back to other questions you might have had before you showed up, nuts and bolts questions like: what will I actually do in a given week, in concrete terms? how long to projects last? how do I receive new assignments, who do I check in with each day, how big will my team be, etc.

And "What are the top 5 things I can do to prepare before day 1?"

I think people will want you to be giving them actual information - so figure out what information will be useful to them, and only then figure out how to make it fun or entertaining.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:38 AM on March 13, 2012

If they are new to the area, you could give out a little map or something with some lunch spots, parking available, etc on it. Or even a floorplan of the office for that matter: locations of printers, bathrooms, areas where each department sits, etc.
posted by halseyaa at 12:01 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Having been through a few of these, here are some ideas:

- Make a printed welcome package with things like org charts, key contacts, maps of the building, local restaurants. Then you don't have to waste any presentation time with material that's better off as a handout.

- Spend some time on the big picture. What's is the company's overall position in the market and its long-term strategy? Who are its competitors? What are the flagship products? Help the new hires contextualize their company in the broader world. It will reduce the feeling of disorientation.

- Some form of interactivity is a must or else the presentation will be death, no matter how good you are. A neat activity I did at one company was to brainstorm a new product. We were split into teams and drew three attributes out of a hat - they defined the target demographic, type of product, and medium or platform, more or less. We had ten or fifteen minutes to think about it and put together a visual aid display, and then gave a 3 minute pitch. Some really fresh and surprising ideas came out of that session. Plus, we all left with a better sense of what the company's market and products looked like.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:02 PM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try very hard to not powerpoint them to death. Lots of data and content is great, but without context, it gets forgotten very quickly.

Try very hard to make them feel excited and interested in the work they will be doing. Let them know what you have done and how you have contributed and not just been a cog in the wheel. Give them a vision as to what they can accomplish.
posted by seppyk at 12:49 PM on March 13, 2012

This may not be necessary advice, but -- NO GOSSIP.

And by "gossip," I mean "Do not say anything in that meeting that you are not comfortable with everyone in your company knowing that you said." As much as you might want to warn them off of Judy in HR because she talks about her goddamn cats when you just want to check your vacation days or that the bathroom on the third floor is always filthy, don't do it. Too much chance of Judy or the custodian plopping down at your desk one day and saying, "So, I hear you're telling all the new people that I suck."
posted by Etrigan at 12:56 PM on March 13, 2012

I agree with LobsterMitten. Other things to tell them
- what's the actual plan around vacation policy? Do most people give 2 months notice for a week off? Should I send my vacation calendar notice to the whole group or just to the five people I work with daily?
- Is it ok to work 11-7 instead of 9-5? Does this vary wildly by manager?
- what do I need to do to get a good review/promotion this year? When you say 'Tom was a great new hire' what kind of things feed into that? If you can't say this for a generic group, where do they go to find out for themselves?
- What did you do in your first 3 months, and what could you have done that you didn't know about?
posted by jacalata at 1:00 PM on March 13, 2012

I've been in several situations recently where I had to represent the company, one to a group of undergraduate and graduate students (for campus recruitment at a prestigious university) and on several other occassions.

Does your company do any social media, in particular video? Having a well-done video that covers a public relations-aspect of your company can help keep attention and is sure to be remembered longer.

Agree that team-building or other interactivity between them can help the parallel learning opportunities. How about 'speed dating', where everyone meets everyone else for 3 minutes to find out as much as possible from the other, and after only 1 round you could have each pair 'report' what they learned abou the other to the group. (Many variations of this - you could even go through all the pair-wise combinations if you so choose.) Another variation would be topic-centered, where each pair is given a topic / problem to work on, and then as a pair report back after 5 minutes of working on it together.

Another suggestion would be to somehow tie in whatever passion / hobby / avocation each person has and how they could somehow connect that to what your company does or what your department works on.
posted by scooterdog at 1:15 PM on March 13, 2012

Kids are gonna be bored as hell by the time they get to you. Tell them genuinely amusing anecdotes to get them excited for working with the company, or provide specific examples of behavior that has led to promotion for yourself or your peers
posted by MangyCarface at 2:24 PM on March 13, 2012

stay positive. don`t leak secrets about long term company strategy, or what direction you want the org to take. i was in training once where the trainer dropped hints as to the direction the org might take. im sure they thought they were being subtle.
posted by Yowser at 5:00 AM on March 14, 2012

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