The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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Page 72 of 124

72 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 { enological education } YEARS AGO, DURING a sales training for a major Champagne house, I witnessed the seminar leader stretch a scheduled two-hour session into four hours through lack of planning. After the leader lost our attention and we mutinied, I told myself that when it was my turn to teach, I would structure my seminar appropriately to show respect for my audience. I've been to more bad wine seminars since then and, grimacing through the pain, have learned how to improve my own teaching as a result. This starts with your presentation itself: Instead of reading the text on PowerPoint slides aloud—proven to be ineffective—presenters should write a script to rehearse and learn as the primary method of telling their story. Text and images on slides are important but secondary, as their purpose is to amplify your script. On that topic, text-heavy slides can compete for the attention of attendees. As much information as possible should be detailed in the script rather than onscreen, but if presenters have a lot of critical text for one section, it should be placed on more than one slide so the text can be more visible. This will keep the presenta - tion moving and the audience engaged. When a presenter places tiny images on slides, their impact is squandered. Find dra - matic images to support your script and make them as large as possible—prefer- ably full-page with necessary text overlay- ing the image. If a section warrants multiple images, each should get its own slide: It's unnecessary to linger on them for more than a few seconds, but they become more powerful in sequence. Finally, regarding those fancy branded borders on projected slides: They remain fashionable, but they reduce your usable slide space and make it too busy. Clear the field by using just a small logo in the corner ; for some slides, you can leave the logo off entirely. Don't worry: Guests will still remember who you are and where you're from. I've also been in dreary, sleep-inducing sessions where the presenter mentions a tantalizing story . . . and then never tells it. Good stories are vital to a successful seminar : Whether it's the 30,000 women who wove the baskets wrapping Chianti bottles, the Sicilian winemaker who spied workers adulterating her wine, or the first use of "bacon" to describe a Côte-Rôtie, anecdotes bring broader topics to life and, as a result, make teaching more effective. I once had a seminar leader talk for 45 minutes straight and then look up, seeing us attendees as if for the first time, and say, "Oh, go ahead and start tasting." To avoid a similar disconnect, don't front-load all of your teach - ing before you begin tasting; instead, parse it out between the wines. The audience will get the entire picture by the end. Respecting Your Audience HOW TO AVOID GIVING A BAD WINE SEMINAR by Paul D. Poux, CSW Wine seminar leaders can dramatically improve their presentations by removing branded borders, making images full-screen, and placing only the most critical text on top of the image. Only a small logo is needed for branding. before af ter

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