Being a Good Conversationalist May or May Not Lead to Effective Presentations

April 7, 2015 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Presentation, The Orderly Conversation, Video

Ever wonder why your excellent conversation skills don’t necessarily translate to delivering effective presentations?

Watch this video to find out why.

Many presenters like their presentations to include lively dialogue. If you’re one of them, you see the value in letting people have their say and you don’t mind hopping from topic to topic. That’s a good thing. Comfort with that level of spontaneity is a strength not everybody has.

Unfortunately, your ability to improvise may be getting in the way of your success as a presenter. Because you thrive on the connection you have with your audience, you’re spontaneous, responsive, and unafraid to make last minute changes. If you rely too much on these strengths though, you might be making your audience work too hard.

To make the process easy and efficient, you need a good plan and you need to trust the plan to keep you on track. Otherwise, you risk confusing your audience. That’s not to say you shouldn’t improvise, it just needs to be done within a framework. We call that Adapting to your Default Approach.

Read the book, The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined, to learn more. Available now at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Itasca Books and this website.

Another 5-Star Review for “The Orderly Conversation” at Portland Book Review

April 1, 2015 in Book Reviews, News, The Orderly Conversation, Uncategorized

Review originally posted at the Portland Book Review

The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined by Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger

Portland Book Review

 

 

 

Approaching presentations as conversations leads to more engagement, which is necessary to successfully keep business moving forward. Authors Ludwig and Owen-Boger walk the reader through the steps in planning and delivering the ordered conversation following the structure of their training workshops. From getting engaged to framing the conversation, from presenting the information to managing interactions, seasoned and new presenters alike will benefit from this relevant and organized text. Some long-standing presentation rules are debunked as performance tactics, while valuable techniques such as pausing, eye contact, and directing attention are discussed and validated. Through the experience of eight workshop participants, the authors effectively show readers differing personalities and various presentation scenarios then present the adaptations each participant makes to achieve an ordered conversation. If, for example, one’s default presentation approach is to improvise, the tendency to be long-winded and get off track lends importance to using framing slides and prompts to stay focused. If one’s default approach is to script the entire presentation and practice to perfection, one risks performing and disengaging from the conversation.

Included in this text is a self-assessment to assist the reader in determining their default approach. Readers will likely recognize themselves in one or more of the workshop participants. Ever get nervous when presenting? The authors share how to manage that nervousness. Prefer to put the slides together, than to actually present them? That’s addressed. Have trouble figuring out where to start with visual aids? Authors Ludwig and Owen-Boger lead readers through four steps in defining the content and structuring the framing slides for a presentation. While readers won’t have the benefit of the videotaping and playback of presentations that workshop participants do within this book, it would be possible to follow this prescriptive and answer the questions shared to further improve presentation skills. The Orderly Conversation is a must-read for anyone looking to hone their presentation skills.

Reviewed by Lisa Ard

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Why We Do What We Do (Part 3 of 4)

April 29, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Facilitation, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Training

A Discussion of Turpin Communication’s Core Principles:
Engagement

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4

Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin CommunicationThis is the third in a series of four posts focusing on Turpin’s core principles. In the last entry I talked about how every presenter brings a Default Approach to the process and that understanding what it is focuses your improvement. In this post, I’ll focus on what it means to be engaged in an Orderly Conversation.

It seems that everyone is talking about engaging people these days. Businesses use social media to keep customers engaged. Managers want their employees to be fully engaged. Trainers want to engage learners. Each of these uses of the word have to do with how someone else (the customer, employee or learner) responds to something you do. It has to do with motivating them or maybe just keeping them interested.

We use the term to describe what happens when a two-way interaction begins. When presenters engage in conversation with their audience, they are not pouring information into passive listeners. They are not merely grabbing that person’s attention. An engaged presenter initiates a genuine connection with the audience. Both presenter and audience member share a moment in time, both equally engaged.

This level of engagement brings the audience into the conversation, of course, but it also affects how the presenter feels and thinks. Engaged presenters are able to think and speak spontaneously because they are reacting to the people they are speaking to, just as they do in everyday conversation. This, in turn, makes presenters feel confident and comfortable.

It’s for this reason that all presenters, especially nervous presenters, need to take command of the skills that help them engage. Once the conversation begins, the anxiety, self-consciousness, and second-guessing associated with nervousness melt away. You are able to stay focused and rein in the discomfort and distraction of nervousness.

So by focusing on engaging listeners in the conversation, we accomplish two things. First, we help presenters develop the skills they need to work through their nervousness. Second, we release presenters from the generic, prescriptive rules found in traditional training classes. Engaged presenters trust themselves to be confidently self-aware and in control.

Part 1Part 2, Part 4

by Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Greg to present at the Greater Detroit ASTD chapter January meeting

January 11, 2013 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, News, Presentation

Join Greg Owen-Boger on January 16, 2013 at the Greater Detroit ASTD chapter January meeting in Troy, MI. Greg will be presenting Engaging Learners in the “Orderly Conversation” – Tried & True Techniques for Engaging Today’s Learner.

Program Summary:

As trainers, we need to stay relevant in today’s tough market and take responsibility for moving participants from ho-hum observers to engaged learners. But how?

One way is to conduct training sessions as if they are “orderly conversations.” An orderly conversation is one that is (a) carefully organized, well-designed and documented and (b) flexibly executed with lively participation and input from the entire group. When trainers and facilitators engage learners in this fashion, learners are more likely to invest in the learning outcome and apply what they’ve learned back on the job.

The tricky part is that we each thrive with one side or the other: the orderly or the conversational. In other words we each have a “default approach.” While the influence of a trainer’s default is felt throughout the process, it is often too subtle and unconscious to be noticed. This highly interactive session will help you explore what your default means for you and what you can do to manage it to your advantage in the classroom.

Participants will leave the session with:

  1. A clear understanding of what it means to conduct an orderly conversation.
  2. An understanding of their default approach and how they can capitalize on their strengths and improve their weaknesses.
  3. An action plan for moving learners from ho-hum observers to engaged and passionate learners.
  4. Learn new language for coaching SMEs.

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

Successful Presenting Starts with Understanding Your Default Approach

April 19, 2010 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Preparation

One thing that sets Turpin apart from other presentation skills training companies is that we think of presentations as Orderly Conversations, because they share characteristics with both writing and conversation. Like a written document, a good presentation is thoughtfully prepared and structured. It is clear and accurate. Like a conversation, it’s also spontaneous, interactive and unpredictable.

Defining presentations in this way helps us answer some of the most fundamental questions presentation skills trainers face:

  • How do you explain why techniques that work for one presenter don’t work for others?
  • Why is it that the old maxim “Practice makes perfect” isn’t always true?
  • How is it that someone can be a dynamic speaker, but after listening to them you have no idea what their point was?
  • How do you deal with the fact that people approach the presentation process with totally different assumptions?

Questions like these have been ignored for too long.
The answers lie in accepting every individual as they are and building the training process around each presenter’s Default Approach. Participants come to a presentation skills class with various levels of experience, different educational backgrounds and unique personalities. All of these things influence the way they think about and execute the presentation process. Their combined influence results in a unique Default Approach, their gut response to the idea of preparing and delivering a presentation. While there’s nothing wrong with anyone’s Default, presenters need to be aware of them if they want to improve. Here’s a quick description of the two basic defaults, Writers and Improvisers.

First, there are the Writers.

Writers thrive with preparation and organization. They are naturally thorough and often feel there is never enough time to prepare. Writers incorrectly assume that the success of a presentation lies in what they do before they deliver it.

The Downside
Because of this, Writers tend to stick to their plan regardless of what’s happening in the room.  Unfortunately, things never go as planned, leading to an inflexible approach and high levels of anxiety.

Adjustments
During preparation, Writers need to remind themselves that their presentations will never be perfect, no matter how much they strive for it. They need to simplify their slides and focus on what listeners will gain from the information they’re presenting, not simply the information itself.

During delivery, Writers need to focus on the big picture instead of the details, and stop trying to say things perfectly.

The Results
When they make these types of adjustments they will naturally feel that they haven’t (1) said things as well as they could, (2) provided enough detail and (3) demonstrated their knowledge. The good news is that even though Writers may feel this way, they’re probably doing just fine. And their listeners will appreciate their clear, concise conversational delivery.

On the other side are the Improvisers.

Improvisers thrive with the conversational connection they create with listeners. Chances are good that they are fairly comfortable presenters and don’t worry too much about preparation. But, Improvisers incorrectly assume that they can trust themselves to be clear and concise.

The Downside
Unfortunately their confidence leads to ineffective preparation, and rambling presentations. Some Improvisers delay or avoid preparation altogether. The result can be a set of slides that don’t quite hit the mark. Once the presentation starts, Improvisers tend to lose their focus, go off on tangents, forget about their slides, and confuse their listeners.

Adjustments
An Improviser’s improvement starts with the realization that a well-prepared presentation is not a straitjacket. Instead, preparation should result in a strong, flexible framework for the presentation. This is especially important for the introduction, a time when Improvisers really need to set clear direction for the rest of the presentation. Also, Improvisers will do themselves a huge favor by using slide titles that focus on the main point for each slide.

As they deliver their presentations, Improvisers need to refer to their slide titles to remind them of their point. When they’ve done that, they’re free to improvise.

The Results
When they make these types of adjustments, Improvisers may feel that their slides are getting in the way of the conversation, maybe even that the slides aren’t really necessary. In spite of this, though, Improvisers should remember that listeners need structure. It’s the job of every presenter, no matter how engaging he or she may be, to make listening and understanding as easy as possible. And that means paying attention to what’s on the screen.

Be Yourself

When presenters recognize and successfully manage their Default Approach, the preparation process will be more efficient and their presentations will be more comfortably and effectively delivered. Helping presenters understand and manage their Defaults is one of the ways Turpin has redefined presentation skill training. And, it’s another way that our training helps presenters be themselves…only better.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication