Want to Make Your first Step Toward Effective Public Speaking? Try these 3 Proven Methods.

“Unique connections, even if there are 1 or 500 people in your audience, are purposeful, personal, and passionate. Your message needs to be relevant and responsive to the audience needs and interest.” -Coach Mark

We all know that a lack of effective communication skills (public speaking) will seriously harm your career and relationship prospects. Whether you are a project manager, frontline employee, or CEO, your ability to communicate in a clear and compelling manner will be important component on how successful you will be. If you can not communicate and connect with your different shareholders your great ideas and intellect will not matter.  So how do you go about making a positive impression and gain credibility with any audience.

1.  Your audience will respond warmly if you remember to not just talk or lecture at them but find creative ways to connect and engage with them.

My first rule of sticky presentations is “NO Connection = NO Interest.”

This is plainly intuitive, if you have sat through a boring presentation, you disconnect because the presenter does not take your needs into consideration  and does not make the message relevant to your problems, needs and interest.  So the question is, “how to effectively connect with your audience?

a. The easiest way to create a connection is to meet as many people 1 to 1 before you walk on stage. Then, use some of the information you have gathered in your “meet and greet” conversations to salt into your opening remarks. This technique provides a valuable time for you to get to know people and gather information that makes your present come alive to the audience.

b. Create audience member engagement and involvement. Your audience does want to be a passive vessel for you to empty your message into; they want to be an active and engaged part of  your presentation. Right at the beginning of your presentation, pose a challenging question or use a quick activity like an audience survey to find out their needs and interest in your topic; this kind of activity always works because the audience now feels that you care about them and you have provided an opportunity for them to think about and provide input into the presentation design. This method provides content so that your message can be customized to their interests and questions.

The question or activity, must align with the audience members current reality, needs and issues to get and hold their attention. If I am presenting to a group that has been told, “You HAVE to be in attendance to receive CPE credits or other reasons. I might ask “What would they rather be doing  than be at this presentation?” Or I might ask the audience to tell another member what would make this a great presentation. After their short discussion I will conduct a shout out session to get some feedback on their discussions.

Having created some engagement through involvement we can link this to the subject of the presentation like this, “Knowing you are interested in “A”  let’s begin by discussing why “A” is important…”

My second rule of presentation skills is, “No Competence=No Confidence”  

I have seen competent people lack confidence in presenting and confident people lack competence (nothing is as dangerous as a confident fool!).

When coaching people to feel confident to present well, I use the Cognitive Behavioral Technique of Mental Rehearsal that when confronted with anxiety or performance confidence issues. This CBT technique encourages  finding a trigger of something you are already confident doing such as playing the piano, or shooting a foul shot in basketball etc. and tap into this past experience and feeling of confidence so that you can access this feeling in your mind and body before presenting. For some people this lack of confidence or anxiety about presenting is a “double bind” that we must feel some confidence to attempt to present well and only when we do this will we gain the competence; and with competence comes confidence! An effective presenter is also competent in the subject matter of their presentation. Sometimes this just means you are competent to share your perspective on a limited piece of information.

So when getting ready for your presentation learn everything you can about the topic and subject to be discussed by doubling the amount of prep and practice compared to the allocated length of your speech. For example, for a  1 hour speech put in at least three hours of prep and practice time.You may only speak about 10% of what you know but your competence will show when you can make your subject matter clear, concise and compelling.

This brings me to my third rule, “No Compelling Message No Memory or transfer by Audience to Action ”

People will only remember one or two or three points from your presentation, so plan your presentation so that those 2-3 points will stick with them. Techniques for making a point stick include:

  • Repetition – remember kinder garden and repeating your ABC’s over and over.
  • Gestures or Actions – get the knowledge from the mind into the body with a powerful physical trigger.
  • Visuals or Video – we live in a multimedia world so use powerful graphic or short videos to create a visual link to your sticky points.
  •  Story Telling– powerful personal stories engage the audience and are great memory triggers for your message.

So in Summary, here are my 3 Rules for Making Sticky and Effective Presentation Skills

1.  No Connection = No interest

2. No Competence =No Confidence

4. No Memorable Message = No Transfer to Action  

Announcing the “SPARK” Framework for Self-Coaching available in 2014

 S.P.A.R.K. Framework and Underpinnings: The Fully Functioning Person

” The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change…If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.” Dr. Carl Rogers

Dr. Carl Rogers, father of Client-Centered Therapy (1961), believed that every person could achieve their goals wishes, and desires in life. When they did so self-actualization took place. This humanistic approach for Rogers was based on the belief that most people when provided the right conditions, support and structure are able to become more self-directed learners, self-aware, and self-actualized. These person’s were called fully functioning persons. This means that the person is in touch with the here and now, their subjective experiences and feelings, their strengths and weaknesses and a belief in continuous learning, growing and changing in life.

In many ways Rogers, regarded the fully functioning person as an ideal and one that people do not necessarily or ultimately achieve.

It is wrong to think of this as an end or completion of life’s journey; rather it is a process of always becoming and changing.

Rogers identified five characteristics of the fully functioning person:

1. Open to experience

    : both positive and negative emotions accepted. Negative feelings are not denied, but worked through (rather than resort to ego defence mechanisms).

2. Existential living: in touch with different experiences as they occur in life, avoiding prejudging and preconceptions. Being able to live and fully appreciate the present, not always looking back to the past or forward to the future (i.e. living for the moment).

3. Trust in feelings: feeling, instincts and gut-reactions are paid attention to and trusted. People’s own decisions are the right ones and we should trust ourselves to make the right choices.

4. Creativity and Openness: the ability to adjust and change and seek new experiences.

5. Fulfilled life: person is happy and satisfied with life, and always looking for new challenges and experiences.

For Rogers, fully functioning people are well-adjusted, well-balanced and interesting to know. Often such people are high achievers in society. Critics claim that the fully functioning person is a product and myth of Western culture. In other cultures, such as Eastern cultures, the achievement of the group is valued more highly than the achievement of any one person.

Announcing an exciting personal and leadership development modules for 2014:

The Self-Coaching Guided Mastery Process: S.P.A.R.K.  

 

 S--tructure withProcess and Plus-One Approach for personal development

Purpose for living a Meaningful and fulfilling Life  

Awareness of Inner and Emotional Self 3 through Awareness

R-elationships with Self and Others

Know and Do what you need to do to reach full potential

** Stay tuned I am going to be rolling-out the S.P.A.R.K:  Structure with Process methodology and Modules for Self-Coaching in the first quarter of 2014.

 

Self-Coaching: Power of Questioning for Connecting

“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think…true knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing. Socrates

Have you ever experienced the Socratic way of learning–and self-discovery? You begin by asking your inner-self questions to challenge your present thinking and behaving. This produces more self-awareness and understanding of who you are and what you want to become in living a life of making difference. It also can support your teaching and presentation style by challenging learners to think and discover questions that can then make your communication or presentation more relevant to their life.

This method of Socratic questioning illuminates the importance of questioning in self-awareness and clear thinking.  Socrates stated that questioning was the only defensible form of teaching. It illuminates the difference between systematic and fragmented thinking. It teaches us to dig beneath the surface of our ideas and not just memorize stuff for a presentation or interpersonal communication. It teaches us the value of developing questioning minds to cultivate deep learning. The Art of Socratic questioning is intimately connected with learning because  questioning is important to the excellence of thought.

The word “Socratic” adds to the art of questioning because it signals depth and interest in assessing the truth or information about our self and others in the situations they are confronting. Many people are afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant, or unsure. They like to give the impression that they are decisive and in command of the relevant issues. They fear that asking questions might introduce uncertainty or show them as uninformed or incompetent. They like being perceived as the expert. In fact, asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions of themselves and many different people to show they are aware of different points of view and that they do not have all the answers. Some people are in such a hurry to get things done that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down. They risk rushing headlong into making poor decisions and then taking the wrong actions in complex situations.

As politicians, peers, friends, family members, colleagues, or managers how do we avoid making these split second  decisions? One technique is to stop and check assumptions, weigh the alternatives and potential consequences by first asking questions. Start with very basic, broad questions then move to more specific areas to clarify your understanding. Open questions are excellent – they give the other people a chance to weigh-in and open up the discussion, so as to arrive at a better decision. Examples, of open questions are: • What obstacles keep the government from bailing out home owners? •  What are the factors that caused our recent economic melt down? • How can we reduce a further melt down of the economy? • Where does an individual or bank’s authority and responsibility end and government authority through regulation begin to override risky individual choices• Tell me more about your personal experiences in securing a business loan? Questions for a meaningful conversation need not be scripted because as we actively listen and tune-in to responses we can spontaneously formulate more in-depth or probing questions. Be patient in your responses and never interrupt the speaker. The desire to state our ideas, insights, points of view and wisdom is hard to resist. The method of asking questions to deepen our understanding and provides more clarity of the issues before identifying the root issue in making critical decisions and taking action.

Asking questions is a very effective method to build trust and shows your interest in getting other people’s viewpoint of the problem and finding the best alternative for constructive action. A word of caution-questions maybe be perceived as an interrogation and threatening rather than as a friendly way to connect unless you show interest in the responses. Try to pose each question in a calm way so that the learning climate is experienced as positive by all those involved in the discussion. Be especially cognizant of your non-verbal symbols such as, finger pointing or  jab your index finger like the “critical parent”. Try to speak and use positive and welcoming hand jesters, such as open palms.

Try to practice asking more opened questions in conversations will make a person feel understood and indicate that you care what they have to say. Instead of telling someone what you think or immediately providing advise – ask them a question and you will be perceived as caring, open, and engaging person.

Questions help us to teach as well as to learn. If you are open too new thinking and renewal the lesson’s life offers will enhance your ability to develop and grow your decision-making processes and effectiveness. If it is obvious that asking questions is such a powerful way of learning why do we stop and asking questions? For some people the reason is that they think that they have learned all there is to know on a subject–the “know-it-all style or they see it as a WAY OF SUCCEEDING STATUS TO OTHERS THUS TAKING AWAY THEIR INFLUENCE OR CONTROL OF THE SITUATION. Others like to hear themselves talk or thinking leading is dominating the conversation. Some people become bored, lazy or worn down by fighting the same battles for change year in and year out. They want to maintain their comfort level by holding onto old and tried and true “mental maps”, assumptions and solution or ideas which they believe are correct and unchanging. For example, cutting taxes leads to a strong economy. They try old solutions that might or might not fit the new circumstances.This approach leads them to be stuck in the past. And many times they end up failing by trying to maintain the status quo and their comfort level.

Self-Coaching Challenge: This week spend time with your team in reviewing the importance of questioning and practicing it when discussing an important issue. Ask yourself about how this changed the discussion? What went differently? Did asking questions improve your team’s collaborative behavior? Was the outcome of the decision-making process better or about the same before you institutes and rewarded more questioning?  Remember–Being able to ask yourself or your team tough questions and then to forge an answer everyone can live with increases self-awareness, personal growth and team effectiveness.

 

Sticky Presentations: Five Process Secrets for Connecting with Audience

” Before your message can stick, your audience has to want to hear about your idea and you need to believe in it”. 

Clear, concise and well prepared content and message is critical for a successful presentation, and yet this not enough. A speaker must also be able to deliver the message in a compelling way in order to connect with the audience. Together these factors are essential for presenters to capture the audience attention and interest. Knowledge is shared and curiosity is raised in the hope of moving the audience toward change in opinions and a commitment to action. In this process the presenter wants to be seen and experienced as an effective and authentic communicator.

So what are some effective and proven methods you can use to  accomplish this goal of being perceived as interesting and a compelling presenter:  

1. Showing-up, Being present and Believing . Open with confidence, energy and strong presence. Focus on the audience needs and by providing interactive elements.

Presentation experts call this taking command of the room. I call this moment being present. This method will help you overcome nervousness, if it is combined with a powerful quote, compelling statistic or story. Another way is to use interactive elements 
in your opening.
Break down the wall between speaker and audience. Step out from the podium and ask the audience a question and have them answer by a show of hands or have them face a partner and interact. People will put up with a nervousness and  stumbling in your presentation if you are involving them.   This approach sets the stage for an effective presentation by demonstrating empathy and raising curiosity of audience members.

2. Provide a “roadmap” for the presentation. This technique signals to the audience what topics are to be covered. Many presenters use this technique to ask audience members if there are any other ideas they would like to learn about or do some of the topics not meet their expectations. Using this approach says to audience members you are willing to be flexible and provides a great opportunity for audience involvement and engagement. Some presenters are anxious about using this technique because they think they will lose control. Trust me this techniques works and you have the ability to say no new topics and it provides more information about the audience needs which provides many benefits for you as a presenter.

3. Be quick on your feet—be aware of audience members body language and non-verbal cues during the presentation so you can assess how you are doing. Don’t ignore negative signals.
Pick up on sagging energy in the room, audience frowns, or arms folded etc.
Make sure your body movement matches your message. If you’re trying to be convincing, your hand gestures should be symmetrical. But don’t make them too rehearsed; your physical motions should be driven by emotions and words. If you keep your hands down at your sides, you tend to look scared. Aim to have you hands more level with your chest, on what Samuels calls the “passion plane.”

4.  Engage audience by designing parts that play to different learning styles —Include a visual, auditory and kinesthetic experiences by surprising them with different activities. People learn differently so if you include all three types of information you’ll connect and engage more audience members.

5. Give the audience AHA moments.  This presentation technique provides and leaves the audience with  ideas, insights and memorable moments. Maybe you’ll hand something out to the crowd (self assessment quiz)  or bring something surprising on stage. An AHA moment can be most effective at the start or end of a presentation but can be used through the presentation to capture audience attention, interest and engagement with the presenter and topic under discussion.

 Remember, make  sure you have a strong and energetic opening, message deliver and close.

We often start strong but don’t think about where we want the presentation to go. Do you want everyone to stand up in the end? Do you want them to say something simultaneously? Plan even the last couple minutes in advance. Don’t just say for example, “well that’s it for now” and start to pack-up to leave.

Improving Meaningless Meetings- Learn to Establish Norms and Improve Collaborative Skills

Part I Team Development–Unlocking The Power of Team Norms and Collaborative Communication Skills To eliminate Toxic meetings 

Team norms represent the behavior expectations that support the core concepts of trust, sharing, belonging and respect and cooperation. Collaborative skills are the specific ways in which team members are expected to behave in order to achieve accepted norms and ways to productively work together. After team norms have been developed, collaborative skills are assessed, prioritized and taught.

Collaboration Team Communication Skills and Norms 

Team norms represent the behavior expectations that support the core concepts of trust, sharing, belonging and respect and cooperation. Collaborative skills are the specific ways in which team members are expected to behave in order to achieve accepted norms and ways to productively work together. After team norms have been developed, collaborative skills are assessed, prioritized and learned the team is better equipped to discuss, share, problem solve and brainstorm opportunities for taking the next steps forward through constructive action. 

Over my 30 +  years of facilitation and team projects and discussions, I have developed a growing and non-exhaustive list of collaborative skills that are supportive of effective and productive team interaction, efficiency and effectiveness.

Here is the list of behavior and possible norms to review:

Ask questions, Actively listen for understanding-Start a conversation-Ask for help-Ask a favor – Cooperate by joining-in an activity Be engaged Pay attention-Accept feedback Accept criticism Apologize-Give a compliment-Make others feel important-Follow suggestions or directions Say Thank you Acknowledge others effort-Say Yes-Say No Accept situations Give-up control- Say you don’t know- Clarify Summarize-Restate- Reflect other people’s feelings State and own your feelings and emotions Show empathy-Know and recognize feelings- Be observant Be open to negotiate-Express sympathy and sadness for others –Own your feelings and actions-Take time-outs to cool down- Ignore distractions- Take turns speaking and listening- Take responsibility and accountability for actions-Remind others to be flex and open to other view points- Play devil’s advocate-Influence and convince others with strong factual arguments-Deal with Other’s overreactions and anger – Deal with fear and anxiety – Stand-up for your rights- Be assertive- Respond and accept teasing or sarcastic put-downs- Deal with failures and embarrassments- Learn to problem solve and complete in-completions- Don’t run away from unresolved conflicts- Set priorities for action. 

Potential Uses for using the list for Team Development:

1. To assess a team’s readiness for problem solving and opportunity finding.

2. To evaluate a team meeting session from the point of view of satisfaction with the interaction

3. To measure a team’s group stage for effectiveness.

4. For identifying skill areas for team training and development in collaborative and supportive behaviors.

5. Efficiency of team’s ability to maximize time management.

 

Self-Directed Coaching Framework: Grounding Principles and Truths

CORE PRINCIPLES AND TRUTHS:

Quote : “You cannot teach a person anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” – Galileo

1. It is not the circumstances, but our thoughts about the circumstances that create our experience.

2. We cannot control everything in the world. So decide if you control a situation and if you do and do not like what is happening chose to do something different to change the feeling or situation; if you can not control the situation or events choose to let go of the need for control and move on.

3. Nothing outside of us has the power to make us feel good or bad. It is our choices that determine how we feel and behave.

4. We are driven and motivated by what we choose to think about.

5. Emotions are triggers that lead to action.

6. We can’t permanently change our habits or results without changing our thinking

7. We don’t have to get anything in a material sense to feel better; we have the power to feel better right now.

8. Being conscious and choosing our thoughts is the most important component to feeling better.

Exploring and expanding on the Self-Directed Coaching (SDC) principles–Flushing-out  Principle #1

Change the way you think and you can change how you feel and act. So every time you think of something, you choose the feelings that are associated with it. If you have a negative thought you are guaranteed to have a negative feeling associated with that thought. So the question is, “How do you feel when you think that thought?” This approach will help you sort out that things happening in your world (a difficult situation  or a pressing problem or decision to be made) that they are supposedly causing your feelings. The truth is that the negative or positive thoughts you choose not circumstances or problems cause your attitude and feelings.

Supportive Comfrontaion and Feedback: Finding out Reasons People Do What they Do.

 
 
“The real hell of life is that everyone has his reasons for the way they behave.” Jean Renior 
 
Regular, specific and face-to-face caring feedback can create a climate of openness for people and reduce arguments and misunderstandings. As a leader-coach, it is your responsibility to hire the best person and then support them in achieving organization tasks and personal goals for reaching their potential. If your hire fails in their job you own some of the responsibility for that failure.  Therefore, one of your critical responsibilities is as a developer of people. A readiness to offer timely and honest feedback makes all the difference to your employees. Rather than being taken as a negative, such input shows concern for the development of each individual. This works for the management team, as well. While at times the focus needs to be on the gap between what is expected and what you are doing wrong, the best feedback focuses on the gap between what you are doing well and what you can be doing even better. David Bradford and Dr. Cohen in their book Power Up describe an approach to difficult conversations and feedback interventions through a process called Supportive Confrontation. I have found the book  outstanding and well worth your time  since I have often posted about the conversational tool of Caring Confrontation. Dr. Bradford and his associates outline 4 basic approaches that make-up Supportive Confrontation and I have added a 5th approach from my experiences.
 
5 Step Approach:
1: Specific and clear feedback—“State in concrete and clear ways that the other person’s behavior is having a negative effect on you.”

You provide feedback and describe to the other person the barriers and annoying behavior that are having a negative impact on you.  This approach is not easy to provide because of the fear that doing this will jeopardize the relationship or that the other cares about what we have to say. These type of assumptions make the confrontation more difficult because it isn’t made on solid evidence but on us “making stuff up” this can lead to a defensive reactions. In giving feedback of this type we may feel vulnerable which often causes an uncomfortable climate for discussing issues between us.  But I’d argue that what we fantasize to be true isn’t necessarily so–it’s our truth. Many people really do not have awareness or insight that they’re causing problems, and pointing out these feelings and observations can be a wake-up call. When confronted in a caring and support way many may choose to the information with more interest of about our perceptions and be motivated to work on changing their behavior. The technique for getting the other person’s attention without becoming defensive is to calmly, concisely and directly present the observations without judgment.  However, as Bradford and Allen write, “This approach works only if [your] reactions cause [the other person] to want to change.  But something else is needed if [the other person] is defensive, and tells [you], ‘That is your problem, not mine,’ or even worse, labels [you] as weak or over-sensitive.” So on to…

2:  Is this working for them–“Your behavior is not meeting your apparent goals or intentions.”

Just as people are often unaware of how their behavior affects us, they can be equally unaware of how their behavior affects their ability to achieve their goals or how it deviates from their stated intentions.  We observe others’ self-defeating behaviors or inconsistencies and imagine that they’re irrational or hypocritical, but the truth is they simply may not have the data that we have by virtue of our outside perspective.

If someone’s not going to be motivated to change because of their impact on you, perhaps they’ll be motivated by their impact on themselves.  The key here is linkage, a term that comes up frequently in Bradford and Cohen’s work.  They regularly emphasize the importance of leaders linking team members’ personal goals to the goals of the larger group, and here they talk about linking your goal (i.e. getting the other person to change) to their goals, whatever they may be.  But what if their goals are being met, despite (or even because of) their behavior?  How can you induce a desire to change then?

3. “Your behavior may meet your goals, and still be very costly to you and in the end can decrease your likability and connection with others .”

This is another type of blind spot–a person’s inability to see what is being lost in their efforts to achieve their goals.  Some people are so focused on reaching the finish line that they just can’t see how many problems they’re creating while running the race.  Again, sharing data that you have from an outside perspective about the costs of their behavior can provide a powerful motive for change.

This can be a variation on Approach 1, in which you don’t simply describe the negative impact of other person’s behavior on you but show how it affects them as well.  If in Approach 1 you’d say, “Your behavior is really bothering me,” in Approach 3 you’d add, “…and as a result, I’m a lot less motivated to support and help you succeed.”

4) “In what ways am I contributing to the problem of poor communication between us.?”

The first three approaches in Bradford and Cohen’s framework are presented almost as sequential alternatives: If Approach 1 won’t work, try Approach 2, and then move on to Approach 3.  But I don’t believe that Approach 4 should be regarded as the final step in this sequence, the last resort if all else fails.  Rather, it’s a tool that can be used to complement all the other approaches at any stage of the process.  And given that most of our working relationships are systems in which our reactions to the other person’s behavior affect and modify that behavior in turn, it’s likely that we are part of the problem at some level. This approach needs to come from the truth as you experience and see it. Don’t use this approach as a way to fool or try to manipulate others.  If you’re completely confident that you’re not part of the problem, don’t ask this question just to seem nicer or genuine or to manipulate the other person. The consequences of not making a genuine attempt to see your part in the difficult situation will be that the other person will see through your false persona and this will only increase their view of you as a person not to be trusted because your phony.  And yet I have come to realize that when I’m having a problem or conflict with another person, it’s pretty unusual to not have some ownership and responsibility for some of the difficulty and trouble we are experiencing.

5. Use a positive Pygmalion to encourage the art of possibility. Catch people doing things right and reinforce it ignoring the negative behavior. Positive reinforcement and high expectations can sometimes change the other person’s behavior without a direct confrontation. We have enshrined failure and weaknesses by sending negative messages and telling under-achievers that they are a loser because they got an F and the over-riding message from getting F’s is your dumb. Your goal in using this technique is to provide hope and support the other person’s desire for improvement. 

Conclusion:

My take away from this material is to not make assumptions about another person’s intentions or motives because they enviable lead you to the wrong conclusions. Make you observations and state how their behavior affects you and then ask if the other person is aware of this and how it is working for them. We will never know what they are thinking unless we confront the situation from a more empathic and understanding way. Most people will be open to share their view of the world , if we are willing to listen and not try to force them to see it our way.