Daily Quote and Self-Coaching Challenge–Want to go from GOOD to GREAT as a Presenter Communicator: Focus on Your Strengths

 

Daily Quote:  “One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence.  It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”

 Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Management  

 

Reflection: I don’t think Dr. Drucker is suggesting that we  should avoid identifying and addressing areas for development, but we tend to make weakness and improvement of problem areas a priority at the expense of ignoring or taking for granted our strengths. We need to remember that on any given day we only have a certain amount of  time and energy. So in focusing on weaknesses or problems as the priority we have little energy or time to emphasize and use our strengths to tackle our duties and responsibilities, and I believe that a greater emphasis on amplifying successes is more efficient, more effective, and more fulfilling for living a more meaningful and constructive life.

And the more presentation coaching I do, the more convinced I am that people are better served by seeking to build on their strengths than by seeking to overcome their weaknesses.  As a coach, I have been amazed at the over emphasis in presentation coaching of observing and pointing out weaknesses of what I call “technique rather than substance”. For example, the trainer who focuses on negative things like poor eye contact, hands in the pocket, fill speech (eliminating Uhh’s and Um’s), low energy or just overall nervousness impacts presenters in a negative ways.  We know from research that positive feedback at the ratio of  3 positive to 1 negative comments increases motivation and the probability of positive behavioral change.

One of my fundamental assumptions as a presentation coach is that each client has the potential and abilities within to learn how to be “great”.  They just need to observe and concentrate on their strengths, like their great smile, their positive and contagious passion for their message and ability to challenge and engage the audience. To do this it is essential for the training program to use video feedback techniques like “interjective coaching and self-discovery” tools. When training techniques encourage participant’s active involvement in learning it brings out  insights, strong motivation, and resourceful creative ways to build on strengths. From my perspective nothing is wrong or broken, and there is no need to fix the client,; they just need to belief in and practice what they are best at.  The only problem is that presentation training programs have often focused on “fixing” the presenter rather than helping them find and use their strengths. The challenge here is that people often seek coaching precisely because they or their managers believe that something IS “wrong” or “broken” and something needs “fixing.”  It’s essential for the coach and client  to collaborate on identify strengths and develop an alternative perspective that focuses on the client’s strengths, because their capabilities–their belief, their resourcefulness for seeing their strengths-are the qualities that will generate going from “good to great” as public speakers.

Self- Coaching Challenge:  Since I believe that a greater emphasis on amplifying strengths and successes is more efficient, more effective, and more fulfilling in changing behavior I am offering a FREE NO CHARGE ANALYSIS of your presentation skills. Over the next thirty days,  just send me a u-tube video or home video of your last presentation or of a practice session that you would like feedback on. I will provide a one page presentation evaluation checklist that we will use to observe and identify your speaking strengths and you will be well on your way to becoming a GREAT presenter.

Want to Deliver Memorable Presentations: Pay Attention to Audience Needs and Learn to be Spontaneous and Flexible

Daily Quote:  “Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much..if the presenter sends a message that the receiver does not see as relevant to their needs and doesn’t understand the point of the speech – then who needs to change?”
Robert Greenleaf

 

In this utube, we hear and see one of Hollywood’s great story tellers talk about how to be more spontaneous and flexible, so as to connect with the audience. Many time presenters to not pay attention to audience feedback during a presentation and miss the opportunity for changing the direction or the emphasis of some content over the canned speech. Picking up on questions and body language provides clues of what to emphasize to match audience needs.

The perceived effectiveness of your presentation is many times dependent on your ability to pay attention to what is going right in front of you.

Self-Coaching Challenge: Add to your presentation skills by learning to be more spontaneous and authentic take an Improvisation Seminar or Acting class. Remember the key to being a great presenter is to be awake to the audience needs. So instead of finding excuses to not becoming a better presenter learn to use and say the first Rule of Growing and Improv–is to ‘just say YES … 

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  

Unique Connect # 2: Setting Clear Expectations and Checkpoints

“Clear expectations help us forge positive connections with others. It’s a state of mind and a way of being that act as a catalyst for unique connections”. MWH.

Want to help your presentation stay focused on your message? Then try setting clear goals that link directly to the relevance of your topic and audience expectations. Then pay attention to how engaged the audience is in the ideas you are presenting and get feedback during the presentation on how the audience is receiving and responding to your message. If things are not going well be quick on your feet to change directions and show your responsiveness to their verbal and non-verbal feedback. Besides using a checkpoint during your presentation try getting more specific feedback after the presentation on what worked or didn’t work in your presentation and what audience members are taking away from the conversation.  You’ll know you’re communicating good enough when audience members  answer these questions without hesitation:

  • What was the main message of the presentation?
  • Did the presentation meet your expectations?
  • The information provided makes you want to change a point of view or behavior?
  • How will I know or measure my change in attitude or behavior?
  • How will I know when I have made a difference with this new information and ideas?
  • How will I give feedback to the speaker on what I am now trying to change?
  • Good luck with your next presentation and don’t miss our posts on –How to design and deliver a powerful opening and close.

 Good luck with your next presentation and don’t miss our posts on –How to design and deliver a powerful first impression and close.

 

 

 

Learn More Persuasive Presentation Techniques–10 Secrets of Steve Jobs.

“People with Passion and Perseverance can Change the World” Carmine Gallo

If you are interested in seeing why Steve Jobs was such a great presenter don’t miss these tips. Ten ways to Sell your ideas the Steve Jobs Way. This video will provide many new ideas on how to repackage the old presentation methods by highlighting the many different persuasive ways Steve Jobs presents the vision behind their companies. In this talk, Carmine Gallo demonstrates how extraordinary leaders such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others communicate the vision and the value behind their service, product, or brand.

10 Secrets of Steve Jobs

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Death by “boring” presentations and how to Eliminate them

“Speech is power. Speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” Ralph Emerson

 When you have a captive audience take advantage of the opportunity, do not bore them to death. Presentations are critical in promoting your ideas and advancing your career. Presentations are a wonderful platform for capturing people’s attention, interest and changing their point of views. It is one of the few mediums that if used properly contain the human interaction  necessary for changing and promoting new ideas and behaviors. Yet with the innovation of PowerPoint and other presentation templates the opportunity to make a ” unique connection” is generally lost or squandered on uninteresting and boring lectures.  

Most presentations today could be finished in five minutes by simply handing out your deck of slides.  Most rules of “adult learning” are violated in boring presentations. For example, some speakers try to influence you by “telling and selling” rather than engaging and connecting with the audience needs and wants. These type of presentations end-up being speaker and content centered rather than audience-centered.

So the question becomes if presentations are so boring and unproductive, why do we continue to have meetings and presentations that are obviously a waste of time and resources?

Continue reading “Death by “boring” presentations and how to Eliminate them”

Two New Commandments for Sticky Presentations

Most presentations go bad because the presenter didn’t design or prepare well enough. I have gleamed three tips from my presentation coaching clients that might helpful for you in when designing or preparing for your next presentation. In fact, so important are these ideas that I’m going to elevate them to my 10 Commandments of Great Presentations hand-out at my next seminar.

The Presenter’s  Playbook for Stickiness.

1. Embrace the challenge of the presentation and opportunity to show your best.

2. Trust and believe in your message and ability to deliver it in a memorable way.

3. Get out of worrying about acceptance and results and into the process of connecting with the audience

4. Be audience-centered and focused not self-centered and arrogant.

5. Be prepared to accept surprises and be confident  that nothing will upset you on the platform.

6.  Learn to be flexible and open and ready to change at moment by reading your audience and listening for non-verbal feedback

7. Don’t just “wing it”  learn to enjoy planning, design and practice.

8.. Love your message and audience–don’t effort or try so hard be authentic and play to your natural strengths

9. Respect audience attention span and learning capacity.–Don’t over load them with facts , figures and information. Focus on one important thing and keep the message simple.

10. Remember — Perfection is a killer to spontaneity so be  present in the moment and  have fun doing it. Be your own best friend.

Follow these two new Commandments you will find that the audience will remember — and maybe even act on — your message. After all, the purpose for giving a presentation is to inform and change the world.

Commandment One: Focus on Audience needs and expectations—Duarte Rule Know Thy Audience.

Presentations are about their audiences, not their speakers. Before you write anything down, or commit anything to a Power Point slide, you must give some thought to your listeners. So ask yourself obvious — but easy to forget — questions like, what time of day am I speaking? How many people will be in the audience? Will they just have eaten, or will they be looking forward to a meal? Will they have heard a number of other speeches, or are mine the only one? The answer to each of these questions should affect the length, style and content of your presentation.

People have more energy and more ability to hear complex ideas early in the day; later in the day their energy flags and they don’t want to entertain as many new ideas. Larger audiences demand more energy from the speaker and want to laugh more than they want to cry. The worst audience (from the speaker’s point of view) is a tired, fed, slightly inebriated audience. That audience needs President Reagan’s rule for after-dinner speeches: 12 minutes, a few jokes, and sit down before the audience stands up.

But the really interesting things to know about audience members are, what do they fear? What are their dreams? Where do they want to be led? And what have they had recent cause to like or dislike? Only once you understand the emotional state of the audiences are you ready to begin to design a presentation for them. Far too many speakers make the mistake of believing that one size fits all. I have seen executives give the same speech about the financial state of the company to investors, to the general public, and to employees — with very different results.

Rule Two: Focus on the Message —Tell Them One Thing, and One Thing Only

This is a difficult rule for most presenters to follow. But it’s essential. The oral genre is highly inefficient. We audience members simply don’t remember much of what we hear. We’re easily sidetracked, confused, and tricked. We get distracted by everything from the color of the presenter’s tie to the person sitting in the next row to our own internal monologues. I’m afraid the company’s not in very good shape. That comment that Joan made last week. Maybe I should dust off my resume. Now, what was that guy up front saying?

So you’ve got to keep it simple. Many studies show that we only remember a small percentage of what we hear — somewhere between 10 – 30 percent.

But when a speaker gets in front of an audience, the urge to tell ’em everything you know is very hard to resist. Far too many speakers perform a data dump on their audiences at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, we can only hold 4 or 5 ideas in our heads at one time, so as soon as you give me a list of more than 5 items, I’m going to start forgetting as much as I hear.

Against this dismal human truth there is only one defense: focus your presentation on a single idea. Be ruthless. Write that one idea down in one declarative sentence and paste it up on your computer. Then eliminate everything, no matter how beautiful a slide it’s on, that doesn’t support that idea.

Follow these two rules and you’ll find that audience will remember — and maybe even act on — your speeches. After all, the only reason to give a speech is to change the world.

Sticky Presentation factors–Connecting through the eyes “One thought to one Person” and Pause.

Want to connect with your audience and reduce nervousness–Deliver one thought to one person in the room. Think about the physiology of vision.  Light enters the front of the eyeball, hits the rods and cones at the back of the eye, and creates an electrical impulse that shoots around the optic nerve to the optic lobe at the back of the skill.  Your brain then takes the better part of a second to decipher this electrical Morse code.  While the act of turning the electrical impulses into light, color and contrast is an unconscious brain activity, putting the shapes into a comprehensible context is a conscious brain activity.

Problem Explored

Eye contact or shifting-this is where we create a problem for ourselves as speakers. It is perfectly natural to look rapidly around the room when first standing in front of an audience.  This rapid eye movement creates visual over-stimulation.  It forces our brain to process incoming visual stimuli on a conscious level.  When speaking to a group, we have another conscious activity that is trying to occur simultaneously . . . the delivery of our prepared topic!  Our brains do not do two things at once very well, on a conscious level.  This is why our mind will sometimes go blank during the delivery of our prepared topic — to allow our brain to catch up on the processing of visual stimuli.

Solution to “shifting eyes” problem

Speakers naturally solve this problem by looking at ceilings and floors, where there is usually a blank space with little visual stimuli to process.  This works!  It would also work to close your eyes, as a speaker, to limit incoming visual stimulus.  For obvious reasons, closing your eyes would not be a good choice.  The most productive way to limit visual stimuli is to stare at the eye of an audience member.  (If you’re far enough away from your audience, you can stare at both their eyes at once.)  There are three advantages to limiting visual stimulus this way.

The benefits of controlled eye contact:

First, you can “read” the response from your audience as you deliver a whole thought to one individual.  Second, direct eye contact conveys sincerity in all cultures across the world.  Third, as a speaker, you get the advantage of limiting visual stimuli so you can think more clearly and reduce your nervousness. It is always nice to find a friendly face to interact with during the first few moments of your speech..

When pauses are added to this controlled eye contact technique, you enhance your  effectiveness and authenticity.  The pause packages your words into one cohesive thought at a time for the audience.  It also adds emphasis to the key points you wish to convey as a speaker.  Also, when you can’t think of what to say next, this pause buys you thinking time without giving away to the audience that your mind has gone momentarily blank. The mastery of this controlled eye contact technique + pause is the foundation skill for successfully talking to a group of people.

Assignment

For your next speech get it video taped or have a colleague checkout your eye movement and provide feedback on its effectiveness. Using this principle will help you in both delivery and connection with the audience. Good Luck.

Summary Technique process–Remember the technique–One thought One person. Pause and then turn your body and deliver another complete thought to another person. Have that moment of unique contact. Eye contact used effectively helps you connect and the more you can use it the more momentum and the less resistance you will have from the audience to your message..

Finding out what makes the difference in Presenting impactful Technical Presentations.

Technical presentations are loaded with facts and evidence to the point of diminishing returns if the  amount of information is not targeted and transmitted  in a relevant and meaningful way.  The audience even though they are ground in the subject matter , such as high cholesterol, diets, or financial planning can get lost if your message is not clear, concise and compelling. So what are the best and more effective ways to make the desired goal of transmitting information and change audience behaviors?  Checkout one of my most visited blog post on this idea–https://thewick.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/

The Presenter’s Mind–10 Commandments of Great Presentations.

“Knowing yourself and being present and sensitive to others needs is the beginning of  “greatest”. MWH

I teach people how to achieve greatness in performance activities such as  presentations. In a world where communication effectiveness is key to success at interpersonal interactions it critical to your quality of life to always be improving.. In essence, my vision is to change the world of presentation one performance and one person at a time. The way I teach it varies from engagement to engagement. Some of my teaching is one on one coaching, sometimes in small groups and some times to large audience trying to model and demonstrate effective engagement and connection strategies and tactics.I like to thoroughly understand who I am talking with and identifying what they want to accomplish to become better communicators.

The Presenter’s  Playbook for Greatness .

1. Embrace the challenge of the presentation and opportunity to show your best.

2. Trust and believe in your message and ability to deliver it in a memorable way.

3. Get out of worrying about acceptance and results and into the process of connecting with the audience

4. Be audience-centered and focused not self-centered and arrogant.

5. Be prepared to accept surprises and be confident  that nothing will upset you on the platform.

6.  Learn to be flexible and open and ready to change at moment by reading your audience and listening for non-verbal feedback

7. Don’t just “wing it”  learn to love planning, design and practice.

8.. Love your message and audience–don’t effort or try so hard be authentic and play to your natural strengths

9. Respect audience attention span and learning capacity.–Don’t over load them with facts , figures and information

10. Remember — Perfection is a killer to spontaneity so be  present in the moment and  have fun doing it. Be your own best friend.

Do you want to up your game in making “sticky” presentations? Checkout these 4 proven tactics

Daily Quote:  ” Certain things in which mediocrity and ordinary are hard to take,  such as poetry, music, painting, public speaking. Show your uniqueness and and be natural and you will never be boring”

I have been thinking about how to get to your ideal performance state So here are some tips  to quicken the “learning curve”

  •  The opening should be about 2-3 minutes, and have a “hook” to get people’s attention.  An audience member decides in the first couple of minutes whether to keep paying attention or whether to checkout .  Use a memorable personal story, quote, surprising statistics, demonstrations, provocative statements, or audience involvement or whatever it takes, to create rapt attention and a positive first impression. Don’t hem and haw or apologize for not knowing how to use the mike.
  • The body should have a significant overriding objective (SOO) or purpose and 4-7 clear themes, each supported with credible facts, examples, anecdotes, stories, experiences, and whatever it takes to depart from the merely general power point deck. Stories and examples are powerful tools to “bring home” a point and connect through emotion and relevance.. The body should consume about 90% of your talk.
  • The end should have a summary and call to action, and last no more than 3-5 minutes. Let people know how you expect them to think or act differently. Never end on questions and answers. Save your summary and ending for the absolute conclusion. And make your final sentence loud and strong.
  • Use an outline with bullet points, which you’ve rehearsed. Never read a speech. This will ensure that you’re conversational and natural. Glancing at your bullet point notes is fine-never memorize a speech.
  1. Be careful with humor and sarcasm sparingly and always in a self-deprecating manner. It’s always all right to use yourself as the butt of a joke, and never all right to use anyone else. Don’t use generic stories or stories you heard someone else tell. Think about funny things that have happened to you, and incorporate them, not for belly-laughs, but for a smile along the way.
  2. If you’re taking questions, designate a specific period so that you’re not constantly interrupted. Repeat, respond to, and review each question. Repeat it so others can hear it clearly and give yourself time to consider your answer; respond to it, with an example, if possible; review with the questioner whether or not you answered the question to his or her satisfaction. (If you have a heckler or malicious question, then skip step three and immediately turn to someone else or continue your remarks.)
  3. Never lose your temper or your cool, even if waiter drop dishes or two participants are talking while you are. Most members of any audience want you to succeed. They’re with you unless you deliberately alienate them.
  4. Finally, prepare carefully, deliver with enthusiasm, and then go home. Do your best and forget about it. The future of civilization as we know it is not riding on your performance. Cut yourself some slack.

Want to make presentations more engaging and interactive–Create “flow ” experiences”

” People who learn to control inner experience will be able to determine the quality of their lives ,  which is close as any of us can come to being happy”. Milhaly CsikszentmihalyiFlow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990

Dr. Milhaly Csikszentmihalyi  coin the word “autotelic” experiences which means self purpose in Greek. He identifies that in such an experience the goal is self-fulfilling; and the reward is intrinsic in the activity. Later in his research he coined the word “flow” to describe these optimal moments of experience.  No external recognition or reward is need to encourage you to continue the activity or task. During the activity time passes without notice and focus is extremely high.  When a person is involved in such a task they seem to be in a trance, time passes without notice and self-consciousness and distractions dissolve from awareness.

Milhaly identifies the following key attributes of the flow or fun experience:

  • Clear goals and feedback
  • A challenging activity that requires skill and know how
  • The merging of experience, awareness and action
  • Concentration on the task at hand
  • The loss of self-consciousness through focus on an important goal and task
  • The time passes fast and without notice.

When was the last time that a training session, business offsite meeting or presentation contained all these elements for you?  Well, most of the research shows that when you get to be in charge is probably the time when this state of flow is experienced by most people. The result of such an experience is often seen as fulfilling, fun and like play not work.  They get to be listened too. They get to draw people out and the connection  seems unreal..  The participants are involved at a high level and they get to decide what happens next. You get to think on their feet, to rise to the occasion, and to surprise themselves with their “flashes of brilliance” and competence.

Let’s look in more depth at Csiksentmihalyi’s list, we see that yes, something very much like flow or play is taking place. Thinking on their feet, surprising themselves with their competence, feeling challenged, using their skills, intensely aware and actively engaged, focused, , and blissfully unaware of how long they’ve been interacting.

On the other hand, the phenomenon we are exploring here is that rare and wonderful event when a meeting is fun for everyone and meets the objective of sharing information and creating a climate for learning.

Clearly, when we contemplate making meetings fun and productive we are talking about something beyond pizza and balloons. Sure, we can give everyone something–a super-duper pen with a logo or ad on it,  or other incentives to listen. We can feed everyone. But these things don’t make the meeting itself into a flow learning experience.

Reviewing Csikszentmihalyi’s attributes one at a time we have what proves to be an effective framework for making presentations and meetings reach for the flow experience.

1. Clear goals, for example, may be established through clarifying expectations and setting a clear road map or agenda for the meeting. To make sure that the goals are clear, the thought-leader-facilitator needs to first make sure that each and every agenda item is understood and can be accomplished within the time framework of the meeting. This is more likely to take place when everyone is involved in the creation of the agenda before, or even during the meeting.

2. Provide clear, concise, and compelling feedback.  The clearest feedback comes from being clear on what you have to say and checking to see if the audience received the message. Another powerful technique used to ensure learning is to use periodic checkpoints during the meeting to see what has been learned or get feedback on what is still confusing or misunderstood. Also, reviewing how practices can be incorporated into the participant’s home setting.

3. The problems or opportunities  to be concise, clear and challenging. Not so challenging that it is beyond anybody’s knowledge to respond effectively. Questions and topics need to encourage dialogue and active engagement. If a topic requires expertise that is greater than the combined expertise of the group, or information that is not generally available to the participants, the chances are that there will be a lot more silence, boredom, and distractions than “flow”.  Similarly, if the agenda item covers things that everyone knows, or demands participants to come up with “the” right answer or required response, the meeting will be one way communication and experienced as boring.

Summary framework for Flow.

Given clear goals and feedback and challenging topics and questions that require attentiveness and engagement, everything else follows. People are energized so interaction and awareness become merged. They are concentrating on the challenge, on giving their best. They are not self-conscious because they are too busy thinking and responding. And, when the hour or so is up, they are satisfied that so much information and knowledge was exchanged in such little time.

Perhaps the most encouraging insights that come from examining the flow quotient of meetings is that: 1) meetings can be satisfying and productive for everyone, and 2) when a meeting is productive, usually it is fun and learning has taken place. This is a sign that it was a good meeting, a meeting well worth the time and effort, and a meeting that was both productive and meaningful.

In your next presentation take the time to get feedback and begin to adjust the meeting activities to increase your “Flow Quotient”.

Want to “nail next presentation? Try Faking until you make it and other tools…

  1. Fake it till you—make it. Don’t focus on nervousness, such as hands shaking  or dry mouth. Focus on task at hand providing compelling information and meeting audience need’s expectations.
  2. Be enthusiastic and passionate about your topic and ideas.  Ask the question—Does this speech have a SOO (significant overriding objective) that meets the audience WIIFM question: What is in it for me to listen.. How can I make the point stick and make it concrete, useful and memorable?
  3. Take a positive “visualization trip” let your imagination run freely for 5-10 minutes. See yourself succeeding and audience clapping.
  4. Risk self-disclosing by telling stories and providing examples from your life
  5. The best teacher for learning presentations is presenting or speaking itself.  When combined with specific behavioral modeling and meaningful feedback “practice can make perfect”.
  6. Make message concise focus on the 20% that can make a difference and leave the fluff home. Challenge your self by presenting concepts that follow the 80/20 rule.
  7. Stop-Think Smart-Choose technique—that says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  Try to figure out what priorities you want to spend your time and energy on—your 20%;  then choose at least three HIGH PAYOFF topics that meet or exceed audience expectations.
  8. Learn to Relax—Use that shot of adrenaline to eliminate self-doubt, judgment and need to be

Want to be “sticky” in Presentations? Eliminate “Fill Speech”

They are eloquent who can speak low things acutely, and of great things with dignity, and of moderate things with temper.” Cicero

When you have trouble with fill speech, this is when you try to get your mind to catch up with the words you want to convey. For example, huh! huh! Or other fillers as you try to get the right words. President Obama does this out loud ‘ self-talk” when he is speaking from note cards or off the cuff. It is a bit of a stutter as you try to find the words to explain a concept or idea to others. It happens most often when the speaker is answering a question. The solution for this problem is to pause or you silence as you collect your thoughts and words to best express yourself.   Silence is never merely the absence of words. . . . Rather it is the pause that holds together— and makes sense of—all the words, both spoken and unspoken. Silence is the glue that connects our attitudes and our actions. Silence is the fullness, not emptiness; it is not absence, but the awareness of a presence. Silence is the element that holds everything together. Entering into silence means to enter into a space of connectedness as we wait for the void to be filled. To encounter silence is to add to your presence and confidence as a communicator.

Want “Sticky” Presentations–Try Using Experiential Activities

“A  ” Sticky” presentation is a sequence of experiences , examples and stories  that when seen and experienced as a holistic event form a compelling argument to change. Let your audience discover the answers to powerful questions, get them engaged in the material and remember that audiences remember only a third of what they read, half of what you told them, but 100 percent of what they discover and experience..”  Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D

If you apply Aristotle’s rules of rhetoric–verifying and testing the Ethos, Pathos, and Logos of your presentation–and if you hone your delivery with practice, you may not make people march, mobilize policy changes, save a your company, but you’ll make a presentation that states your position with clarity and strength and keeps your audience’s attention. Focus here is on Pathos or making an emotional and meaningful connection with your audience. Pathos is captured well in this quote from the Dali Lama ‘RESPECT for Self, RESPECT for Others… RESPONSIBILITY for All your Actions”

Pathos is best explored through conducting experiential activities during your presentation or training session.  The major barrier or disadvantage I have seen with experiential exercises is that they can be seen as artificial or gimmicky. To over come this obstacle it is important to design the activity to mirror reality to the workplace as possible. Many times you will here from participants that is was a fun activity to build a tower together out of index cards and tape, but was the point and what was I suppose to learn? As a presenter-facilitator your role  must be to help the participants see not only the value in the activity, but help them process how the experience relates to them and their real lives. You must relate the activity to real life or risk the possibility that participaants will perceive the activity as a waste of time or just fun and games. In addition, taking the time to process the learnings and experiences  can provide an opportunity for participants to discover and discuss  their unique learning from the activity.    Now let’s review the stages for designing and presenting a powerful and valuable experiential activity.

1. Planning

2. Preparing and presenting

3. Unpacking or processing learning experience

Planning. The critical issue in planning an activity is to make sure the activity is aligned with learning objectives.  Answering questions like–Why are we doing this activity and Where are we going with this activity will help you keep the learning mission on track.

Preparing and presenting. The major questions addressed in this stage are: What are the participants being asked to do or experience that can help them achieve and master the learning objective? What is it that the participants will need in order to accomplish the activity. In the presenting phase make sure your instructions are clear, concise and include all the steps required to perform the activity. Presenting requires you to set the stage and create a comfortable environment for learning. Make sure the groups have all the materials necessary to complete the activity. Be very specific in outlining the steps in the activity, checking with groups to see if they are understand what is required to conduct the activity. The facilitator needs to set specific timelines for completion of the activity and be involved in managing the activity by walking around the room to observe the groups and make sure they are on task. and if need be refine your instructions to support their successful completion of the activity.

Processing or unpacking an experiential activity. This is the most important stage of conducting an experiential exercise. Once the activity is completed, the facilitator needs to take the time to bring closure and get feedback from the groups on their learning experiences. Your role is to help clarify and make sense out of the experience. A facilitator must resist the temptation to tell learners what they should have learned. So in unpacking an activity the facilitator needs to ask a series of opened questions to help participants interpret their experiences. You always want participants to reflect and answer the questions–What just happened and what did they experience during the activity and what does it all mean to them and their life?

So next time you want to conduct an experiential activity make sure you pick an exercise that is appropriate to your group’s learning activities, make the exercise goal clear and always take time to process the activity so important training and learning connections are made.

Want to be more effective as communicator and presenter? Try these nine techniques…

“You are perceived as effective and inspiring as a presenter by connecting with the audience needs, expectations and aspirations. You win them over by caring.” M.W.Hardwick

  1. Fake it till you—make it. Don’t focus on nervousness, such as hands shaking  or dry mouth. Focus on task at hand providing compelling information and meeting audience need’s and expectations.
  2. Be enthusiastic and passionate about your topic and ideas.  Ask the question—Does this speech have a SOO (significant overriding objective) that meets the audience WIIFM question: What is in it for me to listen.. How can I make the point stick and make it concrete, useful and memorable?
  3. People  remember a third of what you read to them, half of what people lecture and tell you, but 100 percent of what you feel.” So use interactive activities to engage and get get people involved in their learning.
  4. Risk self-disclosing by telling stories and providing examples from your life
  5. The best teacher for learning presentations is presenting or speaking itself.  When combined with specific behavioral modeling and meaningful feedback “practice can make perfect”.
  6. Make message concise focus on the 20% that can make a difference and leave the fluff home. Challenge your self by presenting concepts that follow the 80/20 rule.
  7. Stop-Think Smart-Choose technique—that says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  Try to figure out what priorities you want to spend your time and energy on—your 20%;  then choose at least three HIGH PAYOFF topics that meet or exceed audience expectations.
  8. Learn to Relax—Use that shot of adrenaline to eliminate self-doubt, judgment and need to be perfect. Focus on the audience not your nervousness. Take a deep breath and then begin.