The tale of the worst presentation ever…

Next year’s European Capital of Culture will be the Ruhr Metropolitan Area, which I live in. Actually it’s the city Essen and the metropolitan area, because only cities (and not regions) can apply to be a Capital of Culture. But it’s basically going to take place in the whole area. There will be a lot of exhibitions, projects, festivals and all kinds of cultural events. So there will be lot of things going on and a lot of people from other parts of Germany and abroad will come to visit. I thought (and still think) that it could be fun to not just visit those events but to also be a volunteer and help out at various events. Getting to talk to all kinds of people from everywhere and to help promote this metropolitan area as a great place to live and work and visit.

So I applied as volunteer, had a short “job interview” and went to the volunteer training, which we all have to attend. I’m looking forward to being a volunteer next year, so I also was looking forward to this training. To meet others who were doing this for the same reason I did. To get some more information about next years events and about the job of a volunteer and all.
But if this volunteer thing didn’t interest as much as it does, I would have taken back my application yesterday, because this was the worst training / seminar I ever had to attend. I had to get up at 6 AM to be there on time, it lasted about 6 hours and it was such a waste of time! Ugh! I’m still not quite over it. The people in charge didn’t ask for feedback at the end of the seminar, which in itself is also a sign that it was a lousy seminar. I send a long mail with various complaints last night, because I was so pissed about having my Saturday stolen from me for this.

Why was it so lousy? The people in charge hired a trainer/speaker, who was supposed to give us all the information. Even though it’s all just about volunteering and not about anything “professional” I don’t think it’s too much to expect a skilled speaker, who knows what she is talking about. Who knows what she is doing. How to present information. How to give a speech. How to get the audience interested. How to motivate them. But this woman just didn’t know anything. Not. A. Thing! Just writing about me makes my blood boil again.
She brought a powerpoint presentation of approx. 120 slides. Some with a lot of information, some with just a headline and some keywords. After only a few minutes it was obvious that she hadn’t worked out the presentation by herself and even worse, that she hadn’t looked at the slides in advance. She sat down, looked at the screen of the laptop and read out what was on the slide. Word for single word. 120 slides. No, I’m not kidding. I wish I were…
I googled her name later on, because I wanted to know what kind of training she had herself to be doing this job. She had none. At least none that I could find. I didn’t find her name in any training / consulting or that kind of work related context.I found her on a website doing some esoteric and traditional healing stuff a few years back. That wouldn’t necessarily disqualify her as a speaker at volunteer training (but it definitely doesn’t qualify her either). But how can in this time and age anyone give a presentation and disregard the few basic rules there are for giving powerpoint presentation.

You don’t just read out what’s visible on the slide. You talk about what’s visible. And even that’s actually pretty lame and bad. You are supposed to talk about what you think is important and merely use the powerpoint presentation to highlight some points or to give some visual example of something. You don’t just read out loud what’s on it! Ugh! And even if you don’t know the slides in advance, anyone with a brain should be able to take a 2 second look at the slide, capture the basic information and tell those to the audience in your own words. If there’s a slide with the headline “guidelines for communication with deaf visitors” and 5 bullet points stating one item each, you should be able to present them like “When you talk to a deaf visitor, you should make sure that you do “item 1” and you also have to take care of “item 2” and “item 3,4 and 5″ are important as well.” The speaker didn’t say anything like that. All we heard her say was: “Guidelines for communication with deaf visitors. Item 1. Item 2. Item 3. Item 4. Item 5.”

Yes, it was really as bad as it sounds. Maybe even worse. Seriously, I could have done a better job of this. Anyone who has ever given a presentation, held a speech, presented a paper could have done a better job. There were a couple of other things of this training which was just as bad, but at least they only lasted for a few minutes, while this presentation lasted most of the day. This so totally wasted Saturday. I guess, I’m still not quite over it….

2 Comments

  1. The fact that it was for a volunteer opportunity makes it even worse in my mind. At least if it’s for something like a job, you’d be getting paid to sit through something.

    Plus study after study shows that people retain only about 10% of information if delivered in the manner you had to sit through. Of course, making it terrible in your situation is that she wasn’t even giving you useful info. Blech!

  2. I’d say about 10% of the information was useful to me, because I already know a lot about the Capital of Culture, events and such. These 10% I could have read myself in about 15 minutes. *headdesk*

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