Saturday, May 3, 2014

P3P - The Precise 3 minute Presentation

This is a guest post by Nathan Roarty, an experienced systems engineer and accomplished presenter in the technology space.


In discussing how to encourage the members of the community to share with the group, we began to consider what the format should look like. Professionally, people are often confronted with topics that they don't feel a passion for, making it difficult to impart a compelling story and leaving the presenter and audience feeling indifferent to what was shared.   On the other end of the spectrum, often we are so excited by a story that we don't impart the details coherently, missing an opportunity to share something interesting with our audience.

Many meet-ups use popular formats; elevator pitches, lightening pitches, or the longer TEDtalk format.  Each of these formats have their strengths and weaknesses but none of them really seemed to fit. It was time to come up with our own format, and so, the P3P (pronounced pep) the Precise 3 minute (and 33 second) Presentation was born.

The idea of P3P talk is very simple, encourage members of the group to stand up and impart a short story.  The length of time is intentionally short, three minutes and thirty-three seconds, to make it less intimidating and to encourage the story-teller to focus on a few salient points.  Key to the P3P talk is to give the audience enough information to get them interested, enough to want them to follow up with the presenter.

The P3P format is easy to follow; within three minutes and thirty-three seconds, the presenter will impart a few pieces of information. the following are guidelines on what we believe the presenter would want to cover:

1. What's the need?  For the first part of the P3P, the presenter will provide the background on the need that they identified. 

Most fairy-tales will identify a need as something like, 'rescue the princess from the dragon'.  Specifically to technology it might be a gap in the market, such as, 'the ability to send messages cross-platform using data-services not SMS' (WhatsApp).  This is the opportunity for the story teller to grab the audiences attention and set the context for their P3P.

2. What's the solution? This is where the presenter has the opportunity to tell the audience how they met the need. 

Using the fairy-tale metaphor "I used a silver tipped arrow to kill the dragon and rescue the princess" This part of the P3P is optional, sometimes the story-teller might not know what the solution is, they may understand the need but haven't quite figure out how to address it yet, so they may be asking the audience for their ideas and inputs how to go about meeting their identified need.

3. How was it solved?  Sometimes the solution isn't as interesting as the journey, this is the opportunity for the story teller to describe how they managed to go from the need to the solution. 

Using a different metaphor, the Lord of the Rings wouldn't have been have nearly as interesting if the journey had been left out.  This section, like the solution, is also optional.  It's possible that the story teller has an identified need and a solution but doesn't know how to get there so it's a chance to pose the question to the participants to canvas ideas to get from need to solution.

That's it, we are currently trying to decide what happens after the P3P, do we give an opportunity for questions?  It would appear convenient to offer a P3P presenter a slot of five minutes, they can cover their P3P with time for one or two short questions.  Regarding time keeping, we haven't yet been keeping strict time for those presenting at the meet-up, we've had the luxury of time to allow people to run over, but moving forward the intention is to tighten things up.  We're also looking at developing some tools to help P3P presenters prepare, more on that to follow.

written by Nathan Roarty @njr_itarchitecht