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Assess Situation

A human resources manager was to be one of many speakers at a three-day management retreat. His slot was at 4 P.M. on day two. His job was to renew interest in the employee suggestion program, not a high-interest topic. After reviewing his planned presentation and finding it to be dry, information heavy, and weighty with busy charts, the review team predicted severe Slumbersville and headed him back to the drawing board to liven it up. ("You mean it's O.K. to have fun?") He came back with a totally transformed presentation: a much snappier opening, simpler content, punchier visuals, and a more spirited delivery. His presentation was rated one of the best at the conference.

For the finale of a three-day national conference, we all gathered for an extended happy hour, then filed in for dinner, with wine at every table. The emcee started the program about 8 P.M. First came all the attaboys for the hard work done by each of the committees, then a series of sectional leaders all told about their activities, then a couple of awards were given out. He introduced the keynote speaker at 10:30 P.M. He launched into a talk that went on for 45 minutes, with lots of details. The audience soon started fading, some sneaking out of the room, others with glazed eyes, a few actually snoring. The speaker seemed totally oblivious of what was happening. The only people listening after the first five minutes were the emcee, the speaker's spouse, and me, taking notes incredulously. He finally called for support of an important cause, but alas, only a few heard it.


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