Skimming and sliding in Greenwich: my first lecture to PR/journalism students

Hazy day, the DLR seems to be skimming towards the Cutty Sark, and I’m light-headed, forgetting to breathe as I punch in the finishing touches to my presentation. Breathe. Breathe! Man, I’ve left this until the last minute.

It’s my first day back at uni – at least it is since I graduated. As it goes, I’m pretty psyched, having been invited to speak about consumer PR to some second year students in the Business School at Greenwich Uni. Why not?

So psyched, in fact, that I’ve gone totally, absolutely overkill on my presentation. Like using  a tank to kill an fly, I’ve got 70 slides for, uh, 50 minutes of presenting. And that’s after chainsawing out an entire section. I vomited slides into that deck. Now, wearing rubber gloves and a head scarf, I’m still frantically mopping it up before applying final polish.

I’ve just tried to cram way too much in. Yet there just seems to be much cool stuff to share. It’s got me like a kid with Lego, this presentation: I want to tip enough blocks to fill the floor and get everyone to play with it. Interaction, interaction, how do I get in more interaction…? Fuck it, no more time, train draws in.

At least my travel timing is good. I can saunter through the atmospheric streets of Greenwich. The Business School is in the old Naval College, a world heritage site. Can you believe it? World heritage site, every inch of it well deserved and preserved. Broad, easy vistas greet me, inviting me to amble into statuesque buildings. There’s a rich patina here, like invisible energy. I’m vibing off it, and feel welcome, not intimidated. Hope I don’t have a rude awakening when I face the audience, 100 eyes staring back at me. Will they be vital or dull,  engaged, or far away, interested or bored?

As it turns out, the students go incredibly easy on me. They laugh in some of the right places. They respond to some of my appeals to interact. They’re a nice bunch facing an uncertain future. Generously, they gave me a round of applause. First blush for a little while. They send me off with some wine and a homemade mug. Second blush. Vigorous shaking of hands. Muchos gracias, homies. I wish I had a flying shitake shroom, sounds like a sweet way to buzz home.

Despite the presentation appearing not to bomb, I didn’t manage to do what I wanted with it. That said, I think I achieved the goal of being relatively useful to the students. And that’s the priority.

Here’s what I’d like to change in future:

  • Aim for 30 slides and keep a couple of games/exercises under my sleeves
  • Send the AV media in advance to test (2 out of 3 videos failed, running off a slow PC), or run everything off my laptop
  • Build in much more interaction – had some good ideas on original (very scruffy, barely legible) mindmaps for this, but didn’t prep them
  • Allow more time to offer an insider’s view of how to get a start in the industry, and the value of specialist courses
  • The cases worked really well – could afford to have fewer but expand on them (there’s just so many good pieces of work out there – unlike advertising, the worst PR work  never gets seen, having little or no way of buying its way in)
  • Actually create a pres better tailored to this audience – as I’d defintely like to help students out more, seems like a nice thing to do

Anyway, here’s the Slideshare pres, unfortunately with all the agency-sensitive, interesting and risking copyright-infringement content stripped out.

And some of the original mindmaps that I’ll hopefully plunder in future.

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