15-minute Presentations Don’t Have To Be 100% Lecture

New hire orientation often consists of a rapid-fire series of lectures by various departments.  But how much do you remember from any of your own new hire orientation experiences?  There are ways to make even short presentations memorable, meaningful and engaging.

I’ve led several presentation skills workshops recently with people who have been invited to speak in hospitals for 15-20 minutes as part of a new nurse orientation program.  The challenges raised by my workshop participants included:

  • “We only have 15-20 minutes – maximum – to speak.”
  • “Often we get the slot right before lunch, right after lunch or at the end of the day when they new nurses are mentally done with the day.”
  •  “Though this is ‘new nurse orientation’, there are times when experienced nurses are in attendance because they have transferred to this hospital from a different hospital. And they’re already familiar with the basic content we have to present in these 15 minutes.”

After spending half a day walking through some various concepts from adult learning theory and dialogue education, my workshop participants felt that all of this information made sense… in theory.  But how could it be put to use in a short presentation like a new nurse orientation?  The best way I knew how to answer this question was by allowing them to experiment with these ideas of adult learning theory.  Workshop participants were given a little over an hour to work in small groups and design a 15-minute presentation that wasn’t lecture-based.  When they delivered their practice 15-minute presentation, they were evaluated by their peers as well as the lead facilitators using this observation form.

Here are some of the ways that novice trainers who were newly exposed to adult learning theory designed short, interactive and meaningful new hire orientation sessions after only an hour of preparation time:

  • One group distributed a set of post-it notes and asked participants to put various steps to a specific process in order. 
  • One group listed a set of seemingly random numbers on a flip chart and asked their participants to see if they could decipher the meaning of those numbers over the course of the presentation. 
  • One group asked newer nurses to simulate a conversation with a patient’s family while they asked more experienced nurses to play the role of patients’ family members (since they’ve had experience in these types of situations before, they could offer realistic patient family responses) – engaging both new and experienced nurses in a meaningful way over the course of 15 minutes. 

Every group allowed a dialogue to happen.  Not a single group felt the strategy of just telling the audience what they need to know and then to be done with it was a constructive use of their time or their audience’s time.  And the #1 ah-ha moment for attendees that was captured in the post-training feedback form: even short presentations can be engaging, meaningful and memorable.

Leave a Reply