Inadequate Time Frames: When to Say NO!

Last week, I was approached by a Fortune 25 company to train 15 interns for their final presentation before a business unit Vice President and his leadership team.

High-Stakes Presentation

This presentation is high-stakes for both the company and the interns.

The Company Concerns:

  • Did we choose the right interns or was it a miss? A miss regarding time, energy and expense.
  • To who, if any, will we extend a Full-Time-Position (FTP)?

The Intern Concerns:

  • How can I prove to the hiring authority they made the right choice?
  • How can I secure a FTP?

Fit vs. Format

This company approached me because I have successfully trained hundreds of interns for Fortune 500 companies under these exact circumstances, dating back to 2002.

  • Fortune 500 company
  • High-Stakes Presentations
  • Transform Interns

It sounds like a perfect fit, right?

I turned them down.

While the fit was perfect, the time frame was impractical.

My Fortune 500 clients typically give me from 1 to 3 days to prepare interns for executive presentations. They want the interns to do their very best. Also, they don’t want to waste the executives’ time.

Under this format, my team can assess the interns’ strengths and weaknesses.  We’re able to able to drill, practice and rehearse. Moreover, most importantly, build the student’s confidence.

This Fortune 25 company wanted me to work with their raw, inexperienced, albeit intelligent, young people in one hour, the day before the executive presentation!

“Most organizations severely underestimate the time it will take to properly train their employees.”

Train fifteen students in one hour for a presentation that will have a significant impact on their careers… in one hour, the day before their presentation.

I realize that many of you who follow me are speakers and trainers. You have techniques, tips, and tricks, and a good handle on what you can accomplish within an hour.

I do too.

However, just because I can train 15 people in an hour, does not mean I should! Not if I want to keep my streak of being rehired again and again, since 2002.

The customer is not always right.

In this case, they are flat-out wrong! The timeframe is wrong! The decision that such an important presentation can be prepared in this timeframe is wrong!

The expectation is unrealistic!

I am an expert on this subject. This is my superpower!

I must gently guide the customer to a better decision that will achieve the outcome that they desire; or simply walk away!

They have the right not to hire me.

I’m okay with this because one of the bedrock principles of my business is:

“There is enough business to do it the way I want to do it, so I don’t have to do it the way others want me to.”

In other words, since I am the subject matter expert, I will recommend how to produce the results.

Have you ever had others tell you how to do your job when they had minimal expertise on the subject? Just go to social media. You will find plenty of non-experts.

Back to the Interns

The Fortune 25 company has decided that someone internally will give them a 1-hour lecture on presentation skills, complete with a slide deck.

There are several problems with this approach:

  1. The Illusion Of Learning: The number one purpose of training is behavior change. Having an individual in the front of the room lecturing with a deck of slides can be a learning hallucination. It gives the illusion of learning, when in fact, it is a data-dump. Everyone feels good that we’ve done something. But was it the right “something?”
  2. Is the person in the front of the room qualified to train? Are they educated in adult-learning techniques and strategies?
  3. How do you tell if the students have learned anything?
  4. What is the reinforcement plan?
  5. How do you keep the learning going long after the lecture is over?

Train for Results:

As I said earlier, Training is my superpower.

Yes, I won the World Championship of Public Speaking.

Yes, I’m a Certified Speaking Professional.

And what I’m great at is training. If there were a world championship of training, I’d love my chances!

If you have to train people as a part of your role, join Darren LaCroix and myself at

If you’ve never trained before, you’ll go from novice to capable in two days. No, you will not be an expert in two days. I want to be realistic about expectations, given the timeframe.

If you’re already a trainer, read what a seasoned veteran said about our course:

“I’ve been teaching for 40 years…and every time I come I take away more.”

– David Leong


Join us June 7-8, 2018, in person on online:


About Ed Tate:

Ed Tate is an award-winning international Keynote speaker, trainer, and author. Worldwide he is known as “The Speaker Who Energizes, Educates, and Entertains.”

Using the principles, he teaches, Ed Tate won the “American Idol of Public Speaking” and became the 2000 World Champion of Public Speaking. This award is Toastmasters International’s most prestigious speaking award among its 332,000+ members.

In 2008, Ed earned the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association. It is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform skill. It is an honor bestowed on less than 12% of its members.

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