Presentation Skills Training: REDEFINED. (Part 5 of 5)

March 19, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Talent Development, Training

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This is the last article in a series about the characteristics of successful business presentation training. The question I’ve set out to answer with the series is “How do I know I’m getting presentation skills training that will give me the skills I need to succeed on the job?” In the last entry, I focused on why real-life presentation content is a must. In this post I’ll focus on why understanding what you bring to the workshop is just as important as what you take away from it.

As I said before, your response to the content you deliver must be taken into consideration. When it isn’t, training becomes an academic exercise, one that may be interesting, but ultimately not that useful.

This same idea applies to your improvement as a whole. Your personal responses to the challenges of presenting have to be taken into consideration. This begins with the surface-level, but it doesn’t end there. Only by digging a little deeper, to find out what’s beneath what you’re feeling and thinking in the moment, can real improvement be achieved.

For example, nervousness is a common response to presenting. It is also a complicated response, unique to everyone who experiences it. Some presenters are nervous about what they’re saying, not quite sure if they will be able to stay focused on the plan. Others are nervous when they’re the center of attention. Still others are nervous about the audience or a particular person in the audience. Once the cause of your particular type of nervousness is found, you can be coached to focus on the behaviors that will help you manage it. Without understanding what’s behind the nervousness, coaching is hit or miss.

Another example involves presenters second-guessing themselves. Many of the people we work with tie themselves up in knots of self-doubt. They worry that they aren’t making sense or that some point or other didn’t come out the way they’d hoped. Coaching these presenters begins by figuring out if what the presenter is feeling is accurate. Are they really stumbling? Sometimes they are. But most of the time they aren’t. When that’s the case, the presenter just needs to understand that it’s in their nature to monitor themselves a little too strictly. And that means they can trust themselves more than they think. When they do, their confidence and comfort increase.

We always tell the people we train that we want them to be themselves. They don’t need to change who they are to succeed. My point here is that being yourself begins with knowing yourself. Success begins with an understanding of your visceral response to the challenges of presenting. On this level, there are no right and wrong responses. There is simply your response. Training should help you understand what that is and what you can do to manage it.

So to wrap up this series, remember that successful presentation skills training has these characteristics:

  • It focuses on presentations, not speeches. They are not the same.
  • It builds skills from the inside out.
  • It focuses on the nitty-gritty challenges of real-life content.
  • Coaching begins with an understanding of your unique response to the challenges of presenting.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

A Book Worth Reading

July 9, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Preparation, Presentation

Earlier this year I read Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference, by John Capecci and Timothy Cage. This book is written for people who tell their personal stories to advocate for a cause or organization. One of the examples from the book is a woman who advocates for heart health after having a heart attack. Another is a cancer survivor who advocates for Gilda’s Club.

One of the terrific things about Living Proof is the authors’ insight into the challenges advocates face. They know that it’s incredibly difficult to get up in public and tell personal, often emotional stories. This sensitivity is balanced, though, by absolutely practical recommendations about what the advocates need to do to succeed.

 

LivingProofOne of my favorite parts of the book talks about two types of stories that don’t work as well as they should: raw stories and canned stories. The reason raw and canned stories fall short is because they draw the listener’s attention to the advocate and away from the story. With a raw story, the speaker seems fragile or out of control. With canned stories, the speaker seems overly prepared or slick. In both of these situations, the point of the story is lost because the advocate was either not controlled enough or too controlled.

As I read this book I couldn’t help thinking about its business applications. In our workshops, we talk about every presenter’s Default Approach. The Writer Default relies a little too much on what has been prepared. The Improviser Default tends to wing it. Managing your Default requires the same balance of flexibility and control that advocates need to use, especially when you go into a presentation that you know will be difficult. Capecci and Cage focus on the same tension in Living Proof, giving all presenters, not just advocates, a new way to think about what they do.

Here’s a link to the Living Proof website. I encourage you to check it out.

www.livingproofadvocacy.com

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Setting Up Training Exercises: Be Clear and Specific

May 7, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Facilitation, Greg Owen-Boger, Preparation, Training

Last week, Greg and I were teaching a workshop for a group of Subject Matter Experts getting ready to deliver training to people new in their roles. It’s one of my favorite types of classes to teach because the challenges for an SME/trainer are so clear.

During the last segment of the workshop we were practicing how to set up the exercises that are part of the training the SMEs are delivering. These exercises were relatively simple things: round table discussions about a particular topic or maybe practice applying new information in a real-world situation. Pretty typical stuff.

One of the main points that Greg and I were trying to get across is that trainers have to be very clear and specific when telling learners what to do during an exercise. Something as simple as “Group 2 should work with Group 1 on this exercise” can cause a major disruption when people stand up and struggle to figure out where they should go, what they should take with them, how long they should work and what their goal should be.

Then Greg said something that I thought was really insightful. He said,

When I was fresh out of school, I directed children’s theatre. The type of theatre where the kids are the actors. When I was giving directions I was taught to say, “All right now, everyone look at me. (pause and wait until they do) Now, when I say ‘go’ and not before, I want all the boys to go over by the piano and stand in a group facing me. (pause to let that sink in.) All of the girls should go over to the table and stand in a group facing me. (pause to let that sink in) OK… go.”

Greg acknowledged that the SMEs weren’t teaching children, of course, but the same level of clarity about what people should do and when they should do it can be applied in every training situation.

The take away was the SMEs should always anticipate confusion and do their best to avoid it by:

  • Standing still when delivering directions because it’s easier to get and keep every person’s attention that way.
  • Delivering directions before asking learners to do anything. If you’re asking people to move across the room, don’t get them on their feet and expect them to stay focused on what you’re saying.
  • Keeping in mind that adults are out of practice when following very simple directions, especially when they’re in groups. Kids, because they do it every day in school, are much better at it. Adults require more patience.

So the next time you’re setting up an exercise or asking a group of people to carry out a simple task, borrow some of the techniques that people working with children use all the time.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

It’s so difficult to keep everyone focused on conference calls and web meetings. Any pointers?

February 13, 2012 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, FAQs, Preparation, Sarah Stocker, Virtual

I agree. Keeping people focused on a conference call is a challenge. Here are a few ideas to make it easier.

First, make sure everyone is aware of the ground rules. Do you want to be interrupted? Do you want everyone’s phone on mute? Do you want everyone to introduce themselves? Letting them know what you expect, and that their involvement is welcome gives them some ownership over the content, which makes them more likely to stay focused. This recommendation is, of course, not going to be appropriate for ALL things, but it’s something you should consider.

Second, create an agenda for your call and share it with everyone. Creating an agenda will help you think through what you want to talk about and create a clear message. The clearer your message, the easier it is for your listeners to stay focused. Plus, an agenda provides your listeners with a framework for the call, much like the introduction to a presentation. In fact, you can use our 4 part introduction strategy for conference calls and web meetings as well as presentations.

Third, once you get into the content of the meeting, spend extra time making sure that everyone is looking at the right thing. If it’s a web meeting, make sure you set up each of your slides carefully. (Assume that attention has wandered and that people won’t realize that a new slide has come up.) If participants are advancing through your deck or handout on their own, be sure to tell them when to move forward and what slide you’re on. If their minds have wandered, hearing something like, “moving on to slide 4” will get their attention and give them the opportunity to tune back in.

Finally, do all that you can to keep your energy up. Make sure you are speaking loud enough for everyone to hear you easily; they can’t stay focused if they can’t hear you. If you can, stand up and deliver the presentation speaking and gesturing as you would to a live audience. That may give you the boost in enthusiasm you need to keep everyone with you.

by Sarah Stocker, Trainer and Workshop Coordinator at Turpin Communication

Common Presentation Challenges

October 28, 2010 in Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Myths Debunked, Nervousness, Preparation

Greg Owen-Boger, Vice President of Turpin Communication

In a LinkedIn discussion recently a question came up about the most common challenges facing business presenters.

Many people claimed nervousness, lack of knowledge, unexpected questions, PowerPoint, sentence structure (?) and so on. These are challenges people face, for sure, but these simplistic responses fail to get to the heart of why presenting is so challenging for so many people.

Here’s how I responded:

As a presentation skills trainer/coach, I think one of the most common challenges people face is that they prepare for a speech instead of a presentation. Speeches are scripted, rehearsed and performed. Presentations (which is what most of us deliver day-to-day) need to, of course, be organized well, but they need to be delivered in a flexible, spontaneous, conversational way.

So the challenge I see most is that people know how to prepare for a speech, but they don’t know how to prepare for a presentation. This leads to anxiety, nervousness, analysis paralysis and boring, stiff, unengaging and unsuccessful presentations.

In our work, we help presenters make adjustments to how they think about the process and this makes all the difference.

Faithful readers of this blog know that we consider presentations to be Orderly Conversations. Here are some related articles:

Follow Greg on LinkedIn

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication