When Tension Is High, Start With Some Good News

Sometimes the success or failure of your company hangs on your results. When the stakes are high, you might want to think about going to the movies. Specifically an old-school, action movie, like Indiana Jones.

A big reason audiences enjoy an action movie is that they are reasonably sure from the onset that they will like the ending. They are sure that the hero will triumph, and the wrongs will be righted.

There is a temptation to use a dramatic style when presenting the results of your work because you naturally want to tell a story that builds in excitement and drama and finishes with thunderous applause. That is a fine thing to do, but it works much better if you tell them very early in the presentation that all will be well. Then the audience can relax and enjoy the ride. So start your talk with something like this:

With the current configuration, we will not be able to handle the upcoming peak. However, I’ve identified the bottlenecks and I have workarounds to propose for all of them. Let me show you what I’ve found.

I have seen presentations, without this early calming statement, go badly. When the presenter was about half way through the list of all the serious problems ahead some participant will start angrily demanding something like:

Are we screwed?!?
Please Tell Me There Is a Fix For Some Of This?!?

This is not what you want. Whenever possible, lead with the good news that there is a solution to all the problems you have discovered. When you don’t have a solution for a problem, at least tell them that you’ve found the root/cause of the problem they are currently having. People need hope.

Other helpful hints on presenting your results, as well as capacity planning and load testing, can be found in: The Every Computer Performance Book which is available at Amazon, B&N, or Powell’s Books. The e-book is on iTunes.


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