Dissertation Presentation

presentation structure

Yesterday i gave my dissertation presentation on ‘Social CRM in Irish SMEs’. This was the most important presentation i’ve ever given, on paper at least. So how did i get on stuck in a room with lecturers for 50 minutes?…

Not as intimidating as you think

I said before the presentation would be in front of two lecturers, both of whom i’d had for several modules over my 4 years in DkIT. One was my supervisor for this dissertation so they knew pretty much everything i was going to talk about.

It was in a small ‘meeting room’ as they call them. Basically a room with a few chairs, a desk and a computer. When i first heard we’d be presenting in that kind of environment, i didn’t know what to think because in my entire 4 years in DkIT, all of my presentations (individual or group) have all been in a lecture room or class room with a projector and with an audience, or at least an audience with plenty of empty chairs. So i knew this new ‘intimate’ setting was going to be very different and although it was a move made to deliberately try and take the pressure off us, we’d still all be presenting our the most important presentation of our lives in a ‘new’ environment.

Just to fan the pressure flames further, we had to dress formally to show we were ‘taking it seriously’. That meant suit & tie attire. Completely unnatural to most of us college students, but it’s what the lecturers demand even though technically you can’t have marks taken off you for wearing jeans and a tshirt. You’d pay for that in other ways though, perhaps with some tougher questions during the presentations 🙂

On the day, i arrived in about 11am so i had a good 3 hours to prepare. I was debating whether to go in to college late or early but i’m glad i went in early… i like being prepared and being early for things. I was focused 100% on the presentation by 2pm.

The Tube Map

The day before, i read an article about tube strikes in London. Don’t ask me why i was reading that rather than focusing on my presentation, but then i had a lightbulb moment….

Up until that point one of my opening slides (which outlined what i was going to talk about), consisted of a series bullet points. I’ve previously voiced my hatred of bullet points so i’m constantly trying to get rid of them whenever i have to give a presentation. Typically, my skeleton structure will consist of nothing but bullet points but i then gradually replace them with keywords or images.

This tube strike article gave me the idea of creating a ‘tube map’ design for my presentation. It was creative & different, so i ran with it and here’s what one of the opening slides of my dissertation looked like;

my dissertation presentation outline slide

Does that beat bullet points? Hell yes. It destroys them. There’s so much going on here that as a student i’d probably get so hung up on this idea that i’d completely forget about the content of the presentation. But that’s ok, because i forget about most presentations anyway after i leave the room… this tube map idea may seem to be completely ‘off topic’ (to Social CRM) but it’s not…. it can have several meanings…

For example, my conclusion was that all businesses needed ‘strategy’ before they could go off and get stuck in to social media. This tube map is strategy. There’s goals & objectives. There’s a clear bath from a to b, b to c etc… The passengers & drivers know how the system works, it’s all transparent… will everything go according to plan? Maybe, we hope so… we hope it’ll take 20 mins to complete but there maybe be delays or i might be the person stuck under the train if my presentation goes poorly… but without a plan of action we may never get from start to finish. The objective will never be realised.

Not happy with simply giving them this ‘map’, i had to take it one step further and ‘update’ the map as we ‘stopped’ off at every section. Some examples can be seen below…

you are here

you are here

you are here3

I did of course have ‘content’ in between these tube map slides. Generally i had 2/3 slides between each ‘stop’. But the map did the job perfectly. It kept me on track… hopefully it showed the lecturers i had a plan and there was ‘structure’ to the presentation. In the marking scheme, there were marks going for ‘structure of presentation’ and ‘adherence to time limits’ so the tube map wasn’t just there because it looked good either.

Other Custom Designs

It’s really difficult not to just search google images and pull the first thing you see and pass it off as ‘your’ idea. Even if i see a presentation with images & full credit to the creators i still have it in my head that the guy presenting has done all of the work him/herself.

So although i could easily have used images from around the web, i decided to create my own. I don’t get extra marks for that, i didn’t even mention that in the dissertation or presentation but i just feel it’s the ‘right’ thing to do, even though these (along with the tube map) took me literally hours to create…

social media in ireland April 2011

social crm iceberg


I’m usually pretty accurate at marking myself in exams but when it comes to presentations i really have no idea. I passed it and i can say with some degree of certainty i got above 60%, but beyond that it’s really tough to grade myself simply because i don’t know what other people thought about it. It’s mainly all subjective and for all i know one of the lecturers could have hated the tube map idea or thought it was completely off topic or irrelevant. Or the ‘iceberg’ conclusion slide, maybe they just didn’t think it was appropriate or thought i didn’t nail the explanation of it. There’s lots of variables so for that reason i’ll put this down as a 60%+ and we’ll see what i get when the results come out this time next month.

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