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April 13, 2011 / jasonpinto

Coffee, Walking, and the Worst Presentation Ever

Coffee Spill

Monday morning’s at 21 Concord Street provide the most stressful hours of an average week for me. For one, I may be having a tough time letting go of a great weekend. But also, I have a Weekly Planning Meeting each Monday morning. Typically, it lasts two hours. The conversation is often tense due to the subject matter. (Priorities, problems, etc.)

To ensure that I am on top of my game for the meeting, I often pound as many coffees as possible in the office before the meeting starts. In fact, as soon as my current cup hits the halfway mark, I’ll start walking back to the kitchen to prepare for a refill. During my brisk walk, I’ll work on finishing what’s in the cup.

Well, if you can imagine this — walking fast and drinking coffee does not always work out well for me. Nearly every time I do this, coffee manages to spill down my chin onto my shirt.

Yep, that’s a multi-tasking failure on my part.

Multi-Tasking Your Way Through Important Items

One of my roles in the marketing department at interlinkONE involves creating presentations that our sales and management teams will deliver.

Recently, I turned in one of the worst presentations that I had ever made. In my submission email, I did explain that it was only a draft… and I just wanted them to give it a glance and to do a quick review. But that did not matter. The presentation that I had created was looked at with disgust for the following reasons:

  • The content was not very compelling
  • The outline and flow did not exactly match what the organizer had been promoting
  • The layout was inconsistent and sloppy

While it never feels good to hear that your work stinks, I knew right away why I had let my team down in this case: I did not focus intensely enough when building this presentation.

The speaker delivering the presentation was going to be talking for 5 hours; so, there certainly were a lot of slides and stories that I needed to create and bring together. However, I  failed to allocate enough time for putting together a presentation that was to last that long. I had treated it similarly to a presentation that would have an allotted time of 45-60 minutes.

But aside from not giving it enough time, I also found myself distracted throughout the process of creating the presentation. I read too many articles that were not specifically supporting the topic I was working on. I checked email, Twitter and Facebook a few too many times. I allowed fellow employees to grab my attention at will for other non-related questions.

Yes, I tried heavily multi-tasking through a presentation that demanded absolute focus.

Guess what? I failed.

Re-Focusing, Adjusting, and Getting the Right Things Done

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to convert my first draft into a presentation that received the focus and attention that it needed.

During that time, I hid from the online and offline worlds quite a bit.

Sure, I missed out on some things as they were happening; but to do get this priority task done successfully, I had to do it.

Moving forward, I know that this experience will stick with me for quite a while. I certainly do not have a magic formula as to how I’m going to deal with clearing time on my schedule when there truly are multiple tasks that need to be accomplished right now in a small window of time. I know that I’ll always have the urge to read the latest eNewsletter that’s appeared in my inbox, or to catch up on the latest round of informative blog posts and conversations that are happening on Twitter. I know that I’ll have to put on a scowl so that my co-workers pick up the signal to leave me alone 🙂

Yes, it won’t always be easy to take the steps to focus on tasks and projects that demand absolute focus and intensity.

But the feeling of turning in poor quality work is like spilling coffee on my white dress shirt —- it’s no fun, and I really don’t want it to happen again.

 

 

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4 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Cheri Allbritton / Apr 13 2011 10:35 am

    You’re not alone. I changed my whole schedule of when I focus on “focus” items throughout each day but especially on Mondays and Fridays when Twitter & blogs really Rock! I do make it a point to always make sure customers and assignments with deadlines always take precedence as they are the true reason my company still issues my paycheck. 🙂

    • jasonpinto / Apr 13 2011 11:06 am

      Cheri,
      Thank you so much for checking out the post and for leaving the comment. The general idea of this post had been spinning around in my head for a little while — but when I had the experience with the presentation last week, it pushed me to the edge! I knew it was time to focus on focusing 🙂

      Jason

  2. Aaron Rains / Apr 13 2011 10:54 am

    I like the honest truth, that can be difficult for people to admit when they’re slacking and not paying attention to details. Sometimes we need a break from all the distractions. Great Post.

    • jasonpinto / Apr 13 2011 11:06 am

      Aaron,
      Thank you very much for this comment. Even though I was going to be exposing my failure/slacking in this post, I needed to do it!

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