[first] chairman’s chat

Chairman’s chat

For other posts about the 2014 FIRST conference, see the index page.  (written on my iPad; please excuse typos)

On stage were mostly coaches and mentors. There were also a few students and a 14 year Chairman.s judge. It makes sense to be mostly adults since they were with the team when they won. The format was all Q&A. Here are the points I found most interesting.


  • Become a better team by submitting because causes reflection on team culture. The process is the key.
  • Make sure everyone on the team knows what is in your written submission
  • how can make the world a better place. Globally, not just in community?
  • Try crazy ideas. Some work, some don’t

What were your presentation styles

  • created theme and used posters during presentation to give structure to presentation
  • miss daisy spent a lot of time on vidego, showed video during presentation after intro and then verbally highlighted some parts, then q and a. Made it like video w as a fourth person in the room
  • tell story so emotional connection
  • be memorable – used recipe listing what did and dressed as chef – onem inute for intro, one minute to describe each bowl and one minute to conclude
  • judge noted what seen: no single right way. What matters is what you did for the 12 things asked. Theme based on teams skills; doe sn ot have to relate to team name. How you can best tell your story
  • might need different presentation at regional vs championships. There gional judeges may already know story from being in commmunity or having heard it before

How convey community outreach and showing chairman’s worthy (vs engineering inspiration)
[A lot of silence]

  •  don’t look at it that way. Are you trying to change team, school, community,etc
  • about sustained excellence. Focus on different things each year and eventually have enough


  • See what your story is
  • Watch old winning videos to get ideas
  • used to be professionally made, no longer allowed to be. But still helps create a concise, coherent story
  • Paul Lazarus has tips on creating video

What do to get judges to remember yourself

  • what you say matters more than how look . Need to tell in a way that isn’t the same as everyone else. Everyone created FLL teams. How did you do it? How did it benefit others?
  • numbers still matter
  • handouts. Leave something with the judges. Fun swag plus something informative about what done
  • practice your presentation, be good at it

Can you re-use the theme?

  • yes. Technotics did dance every year. Judges remembered brand from repetition as well
  • know your material in case get asked about it

How respond to cookie cutter approach to chairman’s (start x teams, do y hours of community service)

  •   one of the questions is about how innovative/creative. Another isa bout how many teams started. Both parts are important. You need the numbers and to be special
  • it is like cooking. How beat serve your community and cook for them
  • never say no when asked for help or someone has an idea

Do chairman’s and engineering inspiration judges talk to each other?

  • separate deliberation. Talk at end about top few for all awards to get more input.
  • does team act they way describe it?

Essay more factual or emotional

  • need to find a balance
  • picture your team when announced at an event if win. What would be said about it. Daisy submitted a booklyet “daisy by the nubmers” to show calculationsa bout where numbers come from.
  • tell it from the point of view of a person so have perosn behind numbers
  • numbers come first. Teams dont make upth ings but do exagarate. judges notice and reject team
  • who is best to present,. Think about who conveys passion when speak

How balance past vs current activities.

  • both matter. Here is what we are doing
  • chairman’s is about sustained excellence. Emphasize last five years. Judges repeat for a long time. If you say you plan to do the same thing every year and dont get to it, looks bad. More emphasis on what actually did vs what plan to do
  • facts can be both quantitative and qualitative
  • the internet is a great tool. Google yourself and see how many hits. Shows how w ell message spread
  • numbers addup. If on the local news, how many people see it?
  • knocked down numbers ten percent so didnt over estimate

How much do judges look at supplemental materials?

  •  helps to go back to written material within panel
  • there are multiple judging panels helps when discusss with other panels so they can see

How best answer questions in interview

  • no one best way
  • be concise, factual, passsionate
  • nice when can point to answer on posterboard

On use of visuals

  •  a few presentations were good without visuals
  • visuals generally help
  • visuals are a problem if waste time
  • not good if standing in front of judges not sure who would say what
  • photos are good. Don’t just repeat what you are saying

My impressions:
Despite mentoring a team for 5 years (that has won regional Chairman’s several times), I didn’t really know what the Chairman’s award was about. I think that is because a lot of things “just happen.” Which is good – the point of Chairman’s is to have that culture. I think it would be useful for everyone on the team to read the 12 questions (in the manual) that go into Chairman’s.

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