ENT presentation

Today was that of our ENT presentation. This single, 10-minute presentation represents 30% of the marks for the subject. The concept is simple; our lecturer plays the role of a venture capitalist, and we’re trying to sell him on a startup idea. Any idea we like. Our group was of course borrowing from Rob & I’s (ah-ha, take that years of monotonous correction!) engineering project, the autonomous UAV thingy. Some other ideas presented included a corporate life-style consultancy, an extremely generic information security outfit, some kind of wannabe craigslist, and so forth. Six presentations, all up.

So of course, our group voted that we should get all dulled up, which came as little surprise (I didn’t get a vote, for the record… apparently I lucked into only non-voting stock). Although, I was less adverse to suits than I was – largely because I’d forgotten how uncomfortable they are. Now that I’m freshly reminded, I’m once again hardly inclined to go in for them. Of course, we have to present a similar thing again for EMT on Wednesday. More suits there. I guess I’m not so adverse to them now… just like I’m not so single-minded on drinking alcohol or similar things, these days…. I just don’t have any good reasons to do so.

And I wore my nice blue shirt, because I like it and think it looks good, while everyone else wore white shirts. Ha! At least one of us has some semblance of individuality. :D

Apparently there was some unanimous decision to wear white shirts and blue ties, but I seem to recall someone suggesting blue shirts – ’cause they’re warmer – and pleasant but dull ties. Really, I do. Anyway, I did actually bring a white shirt with me, but left it in the car. Once I’d walked down to Hooper LT in my stupid shoes – that type of shoes that are not sneakers, ergo not comfortable, and who’s name totally escapes me – I was certainly not going to walk all the way back just to change shirts. No one else was so motivated to do so on my behalf, either, so I guess the shirt issue wasn’t that big a deal.

Nonetheless, I think we looked pretty good, all up, as far as Suits go. The presentation went pretty well, too… Rob & Ed were the only speakers, of the five of us (10 minutes only, remember) and both did well. They were a little nervous, and made a few mistakes as you do, but nothing significant. The whole thing came off pretty well, although it did sound well rehearsed (in a bad way)… Rob in particular took to inserting random pauses every three or four words, in the style of someone trying to remember an entire speech verbatim. That or he just really wants to play Captain Kirk in the next Star Trek movie. ;) Although to his credit he was better in this regard, I felt, in the actual presentation than the rehearsal beforehand.

And since he reads this, I’ll just put that in context, by saying that giving a good presentation is bloody hard, and I wouldn’t presume to be able to do as good let alone better. But the first person to say “how can you criticise if you don’t do better” gets an Acme brand 10 ton weight dropped on them… they can’t complain, because they’ve never dropped a 10 ton weight on anyone.

Anyway, that was a minor issue, really. Our presentation didn’t really have the whiz-bang feel that you’d (or at least, I) expect from a good business proposal, but it was certainly better than most of the others; many of those were mind-numbingly boring, and sadly demonstrated a wide-spread lack of understanding of the term “market turbulence”.

Although I did realise while listening to the other groups that you really get very little out of a “normal” business proposal. Everyone wants that one in a million idea that instantly lights up people’s faces when introduced, but the laws of probability dictate 999,999 other presentations must be made inbetween those. And for those, you really need to know the details of the project, and get to know the people involved. To base a decision on a crappy 10 minute Powerpoint is just pointless, being arbitrary and virtually random.

Getting off that tangent and back on track, one presentation, for a company called “Orbital”, was given by a lone guy who was doing the subject for the second time. Perhaps that explains why his slides were three years old, and thus his two year projection of revenue ended in December 2005. Whoops.

I’m actually wondering if he even wrote the presentation… hmmm.

While we won’t know our final marks for a week or two, Mario (the lecturer) did say that everyone passed… I guess it’s pretty hard to fail someone just because they’re presentation wasn’t appealing, although certainly I wouldn’t be giving many extra marks to some of the groups. The purpose of the class isn’t just to learn how to give business presentations, so one could certainly be bad at that while still doing well on the other topics.

It’s worth noting that Mario specified at most eight groups, out of the whole class. He said he didn’t care how many people were in a group, or who spoke; everyone in the group would get the same mark, whatever that turns out to be. This resulted in a few mid-size groups; a pair, a quartet and our own party of five – counterbalanced by two large groups – one of 13 people, another of 20 or so. That seems a bit ridiculous, really… in the largest group only three people spoke. While many in the group did dull up in some minimal manner, some didn’t at all. Now, while I’m not big on suits, I’m certainly well enough inclined to still dress neat and relatively formally for things such as this. Some of these people weren’t.

I guess I’m just jealous that they got out of wearing a suit and I didn’t. ;)

So, this marks the fourth occasion, in my entire life, that I’ve worn a suit. The first was of course the school deb, the second was Sarah’s uncle’s 50th (urgh…. “but you’ve got to wear a suit! Everyone else will!”… of the dozens of people there, about five wore suits), and Bobo’s birthday… 18th, perhaps? I can’t recall. It was at Davies, anyway. I did get to wear a balaclava as well though, so I guess that was a compromise. ;)

Yep… all in all, a reasonable day. I went and got a haircut beforehand, too. That took about two hours. No one ever believes me when I describe the length of my haircuts, except those who’ve cut my hair. To them, I’m known as a very bad return on time investment. :)

And I’m committing to trying to “texture” my hair – i.e. use gel – from now on. Otherwise it does look a bit plain, as short, I know. I even bought the $29.95 crap to do it, so now I have to or else I’ll feel poor. We’ll see how that goes, of course.

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