Need Advice On Prsenting Y2K To Large Groups : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I've got two presentations coming up in about a month. First is at a local community college and is being advertised to about 2000 small businesses. (Hopefully 3 will show up!)

Second is to a statewide ag growers group. Membership profile is mostly larger, aggressive growers with fairly heavy use of computer systems. (In other words, we're not talking about Uncle Billy Bob and his three pigs!) They usually have 300 to 400 that attend this meeting.

Can anyone give me some advice as to best method to approach the presentation. Is it better to "ease" them into it; or better to shock them into reality? I've had plenty of experience with company to company presentations about Y2K, but not large groups.


-- Greg Sugg (, October 24, 1998



If you've done this before, there shouldn't be much difference with a larger group. Small groups are more likely to interact with you during the presentation, but you are still talking to individuals.

Here's the way I see it: The folks you are addressing should know how heavily they depend on computers internally. That means you can lay out the problems that are likely to occur in different areas, such as mainframes, midranges, desktop PCs, other automated systems. They can judge their own exposure for themselves.

Once they've had a chance to think about their own business, you can start to talk about everyone else's businesses - their partners and suppliers. Inevitably, this leads to a discussion of the possible failures in public utilities and other services. By the time you move on to contingency planning they should be thinking not only about their own business, but also their entire community, and their family and friends. (If someone told me that there was a chance that the power could go out for a week or two, I'd think about my family right away. I can lock up the business for a while, but we have to continue life at home.)

The shock treatment may put them into denial right away, and then they'll ignore the rest of the presentation. Just my 2" worth - I hope it helps. Good luck.

-- Mike (, October 24, 1998.

Anyone who is planning a presentation may want to review the excellent tips on using visuals and the quick general advice on this site:

Good Luck, Greg! Go get 'em!

-- Faith Weaver (, October 24, 1998.


Just pretend everybody is naked.

-- James A. Jones (, October 24, 1998.

When I speak to large groups, I focus on one person at a time, and personalize it to each person.

(The trick of imagining everyelse naked is useful in calming one's one fears about speaking. Of couse, if you image everybody else naked, it may help focus your attention on the other person, but it doesn't seem to help me keep my mind on my information.)

I prefer to stay busy BEFORE the presentaoin going thorugh all the what-if's and aw-shits: no power cord, can't find the light switch, wrong light switch turned off, no power plug, missing slides, or missing mouse (if powerpoint), wromg PC DOS/Windows version, wrong PowerPoint version), missing log-in, etc. Ampifier missing, microphone off/wrong volume, no power, etc.

Assume you're going to use Steve Hartman's Power Point presentation. It's very good, very thorough, availavle, and doesn't require you do learn anything "new" or lose time time making up soemthing. Keep it simple, use what's been done already.

So go through all your stuff in several dry runs first. DON'T change the PPT presentation with any last minute changes or add to-the-last minute updates, editorial changes won't matter that much, and the audience won't know enough to know what you missed or added. won't matter that much. Start by yourself after powering down and rebooting your preentation software and PC from scratch - unplug everything and make sure it all works from a dead plug startup.

Then go to the site EARLY, and do it again. If you are going to use their equipment, go over EVERYTHING phyiscally the day before, including loading actually getting a display on screen. If they won't support you, plan on bringing your own screen, wires, plugs, adapters, mouse, extension cords, etc.

That way, if their equipment doesn't work, isn't compatible, use that as as illustration of the level of difficulty in solving the problem, and pop up your monitor on the podium and go from there.

During the presentation itself, I recommend focusing on several people in different sections of the room - assigning them "roles" as I talk to them retorically: "Assume (looking directly at person 1) you are at the power company, what have you done? Who will you respond to? How have you tested what software? How have you tested the system (grid) interfaces?

(Looking at person 2, assinging her the "role" of government EMS), ask what will you do if power is out for 12-36-48 hours? What are your contingency plans? How have you planned to interface with (pointing to person 1) the power compnay to restore (pointing to person 3) her services at the sewage plant? What happens if his (person 4) at the water plant are lost for 2 days, 2weeks?

You now have several targets in the audience who are visual aids - so each time a question comes up, you can relate it to the interfaces (billing, emergency service, riots, food prepraration and storage (without electricity), fixing programs later, etc. between the people present. Keeps the answers simple that way. And by keeping the answers "theorectical" (at an obvious role-playing level), you avoid getting the "real players" irritated. The "water system" person can't start talking about her "flower shop" business not being affected by Y2K because you have her think about answers to power, sewage, water, air conditioning, transporation, refrigeration, customer availability (no cash, no gas, no ATM (?), no job), and delivery (no phones/poor phone long-distance phone service that do affect her florist shop.

You will

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, October 25, 1998.

Sorry, that last should be:

Be confident, (as demonstrated), anybody can (and will) goof.

So I'm absolutely confident you wil goof, and that you will also do just fine. Far better in fact, that you would have believed.

In this audience, since you have a passion for the subject, have proved your ability to learn and communicate here, and have a good chance to practice beforehand, you'll do just fine.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, October 25, 1998.

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