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Becoming A Stellar Games Industry Manager, Part 2: Effective Presentations
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Becoming A Stellar Games Industry Manager, Part 2: Effective Presentations


July 10, 2007 Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next
 

Arguably one of, if not the best game ever made, Sid Meier’s Civilization is a complex turn-based strategy game that requires you to manage every aspect of leading your people from inconsequential settlements to domination of the world and beyond.

Along the way, you decide how to handle your diplomatic relations with friends and foes. What seems like a simple gift to a neighbor can turn into a blackmail scheme that plunges you into war. You need to be aware of how other civilizations feel about you and how your people feel about you. In other words, you need to learn how to manage Influence.

If You Talk, Will They Listen?

Being able to communicate effectively one-on-one is an important skill but so is being able to get your message across to a larger audience. That could be your team of four or it could be an auditorium full of conference attendees. Regardless of the size of your audience, you need to hit the ground running and keep them interested from beginning to end.

Before the days of multimedia and “sound bytes,” people were more accustomed to listening to a speaker without more than the usual distractions of side conversations, coughing and making shopping lists in their head. Today you’ve got to compete with laptops, cell phones, text messaging and an audience that fidgets mentally as well as physically, so unless you’re a brilliant stand-up comedian, it’s wise to do a little prep work.

The importance of managing influence is not restricted to the real world. The venerable board game Diplomacy was released in 1959, and since then has been played on table tops, by mail, in fanzines and on computers. If you chose Russia, you had the power to influence world events from the very start of the game. Vanguard’s focus on Diplomacy (one of the game’s three “spheres,” along with Crafting and Adventuring) provides players with a chance to acquire benefits like items and money and exert – yep, influence.

The First 10 Seconds

People respond positively to well-organized, well-presented proposals. You need a “hook” to catch people’s interest from the start either with humor, drama, a really good slide or something that will take their mind off the million other things they’re thinking about while they’re waiting for you to start talking.

Your presentation will have more credibility if you’ve done your homework. If you want to convince your manager to implement a new procedure, ask her beforehand what she likes about the current methods. Her answers will tell you what she thinks needs to be preserved and what needs to be scrapped. It also alleviates the annoying technique of preening about how management just loved your idea. Bragging about your in with management is a sure-fire way to irritate your co-workers and embarrass yourself (and your manager!). Let management speak for itself.

  • Engage – Start strong and work to hold their attention

  • Inform – Describe the facts in an interesting way

  • Explain – Talk through complicated parts of process but don’t explain what they can read about themselves

  • Project – Visualize the result in terms of your audience

Try to make everyone in the audience feels like you’re talking directly to them Ask them to imagine ways in which they could apply your ideas and benefit from them, or what they can do to help avoid a crisis. At a GDC many years ago, a woman got up to go to the ladies room. If your audience is small and intimate, and the atmosphere warrants it, address certain people directly as long as you don’t embarrass them or imply an inappropriate relationship.


Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next

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