New Book Redefines Presentations as Orderly Conversations

August 26, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Greg Owen-Boger, News, The Orderly Conversation

The Orderly Conversation is a groundbreaking book for business presenters who need to get business done.

(MINNEAPOLIS)

The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined, by Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger, is a book that promises to change the way business presenters think about the everyday presentations they deliver. The authors, communication experts with Turpin Communication (Chicago), offer a revolutionary approach that turns the old “Public Speaking 101” model on its head.

“The 101 model has been causing trouble for business people for years,” said Ludwig. He should know. He taught Public Speaking courses at the University of Illinois early in his career and has been working with business presenters since 1989.

“Traditional methods focus on ‘speechmaking.’ Speeches are a type of performance, something that can be rehearsed and perfected. Business presenters need something fundamentally different because delivering a speech will not help them close a complex deal, reach alignment with a team, or gather feedback on a broken process.”

What business presenters need, say the authors, is a new way to think about how they prepare for and deliver what they call “Orderly Conversations.” Developed through years as presentation trainers, this change in approach dramatically improves and empowers their clients’ communication skills.

“Most presenters knew they weren’t delivering formal speeches, but the assumptions they were making and strategies they used didn’t reflect that,” says Owen-Boger. “Thinking of presentations as conversations changes everything: from preparation and delivery, through managing interactions, to how you judge your success when it’s all over.” [Tweet ““Thinking of #presentations as #conversations changes everything.””]

Published July 15 of this year, The Orderly Conversation has already begun gaining momentum. “Spread the word, gentlemen. If I had my way, your text would be required reading in every business school in the land,” wrote Robert Lane, Director, Aspire Communications.

Granville Circle Press calls their latest offering “eminently practical; real-world advice for the real world of business.” The Orderly Conversation is available now at www.theorderlyconversation.com, amazon.com and other online book retailers.

ABOUT GRANVILLE CIRCLE PRESS

Granville Circle Press (Minneapolis) publishes works in the communication arts, including “Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference,” selected by Kirkus Reviews “Best of 2012.” info@granvillecirclepress.com [website link] The Orderly Conversation, ISBN 978-0-9838703-2-6 $21.95

ABOUT TURPIN COMMUNICATION

Turpin Communication (Chicago) was founded in 1992 to provide the best presentation and facilitation skills training available anywhere. Since then it has helped business presenters in a broad range of industries and organizations focus on the skills and techniques that help them succeed. Authors Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger are available for media interviews, keynote addresses, and to speak at conferences and corporate meetings. http://theorderlyconversation.com/wordpress/speaking/

Contact

Kyle Carlson
Granville Circle Press
+1 612-229-8896
Email

Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger
Turpin Communication
773-239-2523
Email

What We Can Learn (and Not Learn) from Michael Bay

January 9, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Myths Debunked, News, Preparation, Presentation, The Orderly Conversation

You might have heard about the public speaking nightmare film director and producer Michael Bay experienced at the Consumer Electronics Show January 6.

A word of warning, though, if you’re sensitive to watching someone have a meltdown and walk off stage without delivering his message, prepare yourself. I found it really painful. And it’s only 80 seconds long.

The responses to this that I’ve read online have focused on Bay’s need to rehearse more, his over-reliance on the prompter, and the fight or flight instinct he followed. You can read an article by Nancy Duarte (of Slide:ology fame) and others’ responses here.

Be Careful, Business Presentations are not Speeches

As someone who works with business presenters, I think the responses to Bay’s situation are a great opportunity to reassert a distinction we always emphasize in our workshops—the distinction between speeches and presentations.

  • Don’t assume that what would have helped Bay will help you. Remember the presentations you deliver are not speeches. They are Orderly Conversations. As such, they require an entirely different approach. Bay was trying to deliver a scripted message that was intended to sound conversational, not really be a conversation. While extensive rehearsal may have helped him, it won’t help you. The presentations you deliver are far too unpredictable for that.
  • Bay’s performance is a good warning for people who believe in scripting or memorizing the beginning of a presentation. Your presentation’s introduction is an important time. During that first minute, it’s your job to bring the audience into the conversation by responding to them and the environment you share right now. This cannot happen when you’re scripted. Even if you can appear to make it happen (which requires acting skills), you will not be fully engaged in the moment. Because of that, it’s really difficult to respond appropriately to the unexpected.
  • Bay trusted the prompter and it failed him. You need to trust yourself. Managing the unexpected—something business presenters face all the time, speechmakers not so much—requires staying engaged and giving yourself time to think. I’m sure when Bay watched the video of his performance, he knew exactly where he went wrong and what he should have done instead. We see this happen all the time reviewing participant videos in our workshops. It’s easy to know, after the fact, what should have happened. So it’s not a matter of coming up with something new when you’re stressed. It’s a matter of settling your thoughts so you can tap into what you already know.

So while Bay’s performance is a cautionary tale for speechmakers, for business presenters it’s an excellent reminder that your first responsibility is to initiate a conversation with your audience. Once that conversation has begun, it’s easy to bring what you have prepared into it.

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

Rethinking the Visual Component of Your Presentations (Part 4 of 4)

September 24, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Preparation, Presentation

Part 1Part 2, Part 3

This is the final article in a series focusing on the need to take a fresh look at the visuals you use in your presentations. This article focuses on visuals intended to bring emphasis or emotion to the conversation. This type of visual might be a photograph (a completed project or happy employees, for example), a simple graphic (an arrow pointing up or down), or a trigger added to emphasize part of a more complex image (a circle around a single bar on a bar chart).

Because these visuals are used for emphasis and clarity, let’s call them punctuation slides. When used well, they make your message easier to understand and remember.

While punctuation slides can be very effective, there are two things to consider before using them.

First, will they be appropriate? As you know, it’s often hard to predict what will happen during an Orderly Conversation. The mood in the room may not be what you anticipate during preparation. A visual meant to communicate optimism might fall flat with a group of listeners feeling something else. So it’s important to anticipate how the visual may be received and interpreted by your audience.

Second, are you prepared to deliver them well?

  • Timing: If you’re using a slide to spark emotion, it needs to come into the conversation at the right moment and, once there, be allowed to do its job. For the presenter, that means knowing precisely when to advance to that slide and pausing long enough for the visual impact to be made.
  • Acknowledging: Just because the image on a punctuation slide is easy for listeners to understand, doesn’t mean you can ignore it during delivery. Often, presenters struggle to know what to say when they’re using this type of slide. But, just like any other, punctuation slides need to be acknowledged and explained. For example, “I’m really excited to show you how well this project turned out. Before we get into the details, here’s a photograph of the team at our last meeting. It’s easy to see the pride on all those smiling faces.”
  • Matching the emotion: When your slides communicate emotion, you should too. If your slide communicates optimism, happiness, or celebration, your audience needs to hear it in your voice and see it on your face. If they don’t, you’re sending a mixed and confusing message.

Like the framing and content slides discussed in the last two articles, punctuation slides serve a specific purpose during your presentations. Knowing what that purpose is and what it means for delivery will help you use them successfully.

Part 1Part 2, Part 3

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

Presentation Skills Training: REDEFINED. (Part 4 of 5)

March 12, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Training

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts focusing on the skill-building approach business presenters need.

As I said in the first post of this series, if you find yourself in a presentation skills workshop where you are not working on preparing and delivering a real-life presentation, pack up your things and leave the class. I feel comfortable making this assertion because improving your skills as a business presenter is all about nuance and flexibility. Neither can be fully appreciated unless you’re working with content that’s real to you.

When I was teaching Public Speaking 101 to college students I was frustrated by the fact that my job was to teach students about public speaking, not developing their skills in public speaking. Granted speeches were delivered in class, but they were almost always merely another academic exercise for the students. For the most part, they didn’t care all that much about the topic they spoke about. They were interested in getting a decent grade.

You certainly can’t blame the students for that, but each grade had to be determined by behaviors that were objectively and fairly measured. This leads to standardization, prescriptive delivery, and speeches that very rarely had a demonstrable effect on audience or speaker alike.

Business presenters need something very different than that.

When you deliver a presentation, you’re doing something that is very much a part of your job. Your audience is equally invested in the presentation and its outcomes because it’s their job to be that way. What needs to happen during a presentation skills workshop, then, must recreate that environment as fully as possible. That begins, of course, with the topic of the presentation each person is working on.

When training opens up to an examination of real-life topics and audiences, the workshop can focus on subtleties like these.

  • When you prepare your presentations, are you able to focus on the audience’s need to understand what you’re presenting or are you simply focused on the information itself? Focusing on audience understanding is not intuitive for most presenters because it requires a hard look at familiar content from another’s perspective. That’s a necessary, but not always easy process.
  • Another issue concerning preparation: do you tend to over-prepare because you’re after absolute accuracy or do you tend to under-prepare because you understand the content so well? Understanding and adapting to what comes naturally to you is crucial for improvement.
  • During delivery, how does your familiarity with your content affect your ability to explain it to someone else? Do you go too quickly, making too many assumptions? Do you go into more detail that anyone needs? Are you able to adjust to the level of knowledge or interest of audience members? These questions can only be answered through practice and feedback using real-life content during the training process.

These are some of the issues that need to be surfaced during your training.

In the final post in this series, I’ll discuss how the coaching you receive during your training must focus on what you bring into the class as much as what you take away from it.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 5

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

What We Can Learn from the Oscars

February 26, 2013 in Assessing Your Default, Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Facilitation, FAQs, Myths Debunked, Presentation

I watched the 85th annual Oscar telecast on Sunday. I usually watch the show, and this year I actually stayed awake until the end. What I like about the Oscars is not so much who wins, but what people say after they’ve won one. I don’t know why, but there is something really enjoyable (and not necessarily in a kind way) about watching someone experience an incredible career high and immediately have to speak to an audience of millions about it.

The pleasure is greatest with the acting categories, of course, because the contrast is so great. Here are people who can deliver amazing performances on film and then struggle just like the rest of would during the acceptance speech.

For business people it reinforces just how challenging delivering a presentation actually is.

Because when you think about it, an acceptance speech—in terms of how it’s prepared and delivered—is not that different than a presentation. They are both in their own ways, Orderly Conversations. I’m sure every nominee, even if they thought they had no chance of winning, had a plan. They thought about what they wanted to say and the order in which they wanted to say it. Some of them thought about the message they wanted to get across (Ben Affleck’s was that when you get knocked down in life, “All that matters is that you gotta get up.”)

Beyond those basics, though, there are other similarities. So here is a list of statements that are true for both the presentations you deliver and Oscar acceptance speeches.

  • Scripting doesn’t work. The best thing about this year’s show was that no one I saw pulled out a piece of paper, unfolded it, and started reading. When winners read a script like that they are never engaging or interesting.
  • People are nervous but they work through it. It’s interesting to go back and watch the acceptance speeches online. What you notice is that almost everyone is nervous at first (usually having a hard time catching their breath and saying a lot of ums and uhs), but they pause, breathe, think, and then settle down. Adele was the only winner who never fully gained her composure during her acceptance. The good thing is that she also made fun of herself for it. Which brings me to this comparison.
  • When they make mistakes, they laugh at themselves and move on. What did Jennifer Lawrence say after she fell walking up the stairs? “You guys are just standing up because you feel bad that I fell.” That’s a perfect recovery.
  • Speaking quickly when you’re running out of time doesn’t help. Ben Affleck tried that last night before he got to the closing I quoted above (which was very well delivered). When he was speeding along he lost control and got into trouble with his “marriage is hard work” remark.
  • The best ones feel spontaneous. It doesn’t matter if acceptance speeches aren’t perfect. Those of us in the audience don’t want to see perfectly planned performances. The acceptance speech is one of the few times the public sees actors as they really are (or as close as we’ll ever get to it). We want to see them in the moment, responding to what’s happening in a genuine way. The same can be said for your presentations.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

20-year Milestone for Turpin Communication

August 27, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Posts for Buyers

This week marks Turpin Communication’s 20th year in business. Although we’ve had 19 anniversaries leading up to this one, most of which have gone by unnoticed, this one feels different. This one feels like it needs to be acknowledged, even if it is only in this blog. So here it is.

First, I want to say a big thank you to two groups of people. To our clients, thanks for trusting us to deliver what you need. Whether you’re a buyer bringing us in to work with your team or a participant in one of our workshops, you’ve given us your time, invited us into your business life, and believed in us.

To the people who have been part of the Turpin team, thanks for your brains, talent and very hard work. These people are Greg Owen-Boger, Sarah Stocker, Mary Clare Healy, Karen Ross, Milena Palandech, Jeanne Cotter, Anne Linehan, Lora Alejandro, and Seth Kannof. Turpin has been very lucky to have all of you.

I started Turpin in 1992 with some very strong ideas about what presentation and facilitation skills training should be and a whole lot of questions about what makes a business successful. Since then, with the help of others, we’ve answered many of those questions. I can also say that there are a few things we got right from the beginning.

From a business perspective:

  • Stay focused on what you do better than anyone else. The temptation to branch out into other types of training, into areas we know less about and feel less confident delivering, has always been present. We’ve resisted and are better off because of it.
  • It’s okay to turn down work. Especially if success feels uncertain or the potential client feels like a bad fit.

In the training room:

  • The worst thing you can do in the training room is waste time. Respect the learner. Adapt to their individual needs. Keep the goal in mind. Be flexible. Never condescend.
  • Training is not meant to be fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time in class. You will never hear a Turpin trainer say, “Okay everyone, let’s shift gears a little bit and have some fun!” The work is first and foremost. When learners realize that you’re not going to waste their time, you earn their respect. When that happens, they relax, open up, and the process becomes not just fruitful but enjoyable as well.

What’s coming in the next 20 years?

  • We will continue to help business presenters plan and deliver their Orderly Conversations.
  • As new technologies emerge, we will continue to find the best way to successfully blend face-to-face and remote learning.
  • This year we rolled out Find Your Focus Video. This service is built on what we learned developing our own online courses. While this is brand new for us, it doesn’t break the “stay focused” maxim I mentioned above. Our tag line says it best: “Find your focus. Be yourself. Only better. (and now on video).” Learn more about it here.

So Happy Anniversary, Turpin Communication, and thanks again to everyone who has made it happen.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Walking Out of a Presentation

June 4, 2012 in Author, Delivery, Facilitation, Greg Owen-Boger, Presentation, Training

greg 200x300I’ll admit it. I’ve walked out of more presentations at conferences than I can count.

Have you ever gone to one of those big industry conferences and been jazzed by the title of a session only to be disappointed because the speaker didn’t meet the expectations they set forth in their session title and description?

Yeah, me, too. Many times.

False advertising makes me mad, and given how many people walk out of these sessions, I have to believe that I’m not alone.

Of course, people walk out of sessions for other reasons, too. I conducted an informal survey of people who walked out at an international conference I recently attended. Here are a few reasons they gave:

  • Speaker did not deliver what was promised
  • Speaker had poor facilitation skills
  • Tired of those silly “turn to your neighbor” techniques
  • Speaker was boring
  • Speaker was too enthusiastic
  • Speaker was condescending
  • Speaker was selling
  • Speaker’s ego got in the way
  • Speaker threw things at the audience (I’m not making this up, I walked out of this one, too)

I can’t figure out why speakers do this to themselves. It’s an honor to speak at a conference. It’s an opportunity to showcase expertise and build thought leadership. But if people leave a session disappointed or frustrated, the opposite has been accomplished.

I also wonder why conference organizers don’t do something about this. Is it that difficult to find effective speakers? Are they aware of the problem? Do they pay attention to how many people walk out?

I used to think that I was alone in my reaction to these things. After all, I’m a presentation and facilitation coach. But I’m not alone. I know this because I’ve begun sitting in the back so I can see people exiting.

So, what are your thoughts? Have you been disappointed by a speaker? Have you walked out? Share your story below.

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

Presenting Information Persuasively (PART 1 of 2)

May 19, 2009 in Author, Introduction, Mary Clare Healy, Preparation, Presentation


Question:

I know you said in class that we should think of all presentations as persuasive presentations. And that makes sense to me most of the time. But what do you do when you really are just presenting data? I’m not trying to get my audience to do anything. They just need to be informed.

Answer:
We get asked about this quite often.  The answer has two parts; one focuses on preparation and the other on delivery.  I’ll cover preparation this week.  Next week, I’ll follow up with delivery.

If you deliver a lot of data-heavy presentations, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and approach each of them with the same goal, “I just need to deliver the information.”  Even if you only occasionally deliver informative presentations, you might be tempted to assume that the data speaks for itself and that its usefulness is obvious.  The problem, though, is that when you assume your presentation is solely about the data, you aren’t doing anything to make it relevant or important to your listeners.

The next time you’re putting together an informative presentation, assume that your goal is to motivate your listeners’ interest.  Getting your listeners to want the information you’re presenting will put a persuasive edge on your presentation.  Here are some ways to do that:

  1. When you set the goal for your presentation, focus on what you want your listeners to think or feel about the information when you’re finished.  Let this goal guide you.  It will help you approach the presentation with a specific audience reaction in mind.
  2. Name your audience’s Current Situation to create context for the information you’re presenting.   This can be as simple as referring to why they’re in the room, a quarterly meeting or project review, for example.  Whatever the context for the presentation, articulating it clearly up front helps put everyone on the same page and draws attention to the reason you’re delivering the data and why they should be interested in receiving it.
  3. Clarify the benefit of understanding the data you’re presenting.  How will your listeners be better off when your presentation is over?  This is very much like discussing the benefits usually associated with persuasive presentations.  Only in this situation, it’s the benefit of understanding something, not doing something.

As we recommend with most presentations, it’s usually a good idea to assume a little skepticism from your listeners.  Doing so encourages you to work a little harder to get and keep their interest.

In my next post I’ll offer some ideas about delivering data-heavy presentations.

by Mary Clare Healy, Trainer at Turpin Communication

Are Hands in Pockets OK?

May 5, 2009 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Engaging Listeners, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Myths Debunked

Question: Is it OK to put my hands in my pockets when I present? I’ve heard it’s a bad thing to do.

Answer: The short answer is yes, it’s OK to put your hands in your pockets.  Just make sure that it doesn’t become a distraction to your listeners.

It’s not so much about hands in pockets as it is about what to do with your hands in general.
In everyday conversation we gesture naturally, rarely thinking about what our hands are doing.  But when we stand up in front of a group of people, things change.  Some people say their hands feel like clumsy, foreign objects.  So, to make things feel more comfortable, they put their hands in their pockets (or clasp them behind their back or in front of them).  If your hands are confined and out of sight they won’t do anything embarrassing, right?  Well maybe, but if you deliver your entire presentation with your hands locked in any position, they will eventually become a distraction to your listeners and an obstacle to you.

So, the thing to do is to treat the discomfort you feel with your hands as a symptom of a larger issue, the fact that you’re a little uncomfortable and nervous.

Go back to your engagement skills.
Look the individuals in your audience in the eye just as you would in everyday conversation.  Pause to give yourself time to breathe and think about what you’re saying.  Before long you’ll be engaged and comfortable.  Once that happens, your hands will do what comes naturally.  Seems too easy, I know.  But give it a try.

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

Should I Apologize for Bad Slides?

January 15, 2009 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Improving Your Visual Aids, Preparation, Presentation

Question:
I’m stuck having to present some pretty bad slides.  They are too complicated and present more information than I need for my presentation.  I can’t change them for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into here.  I’ve heard that you shouldn’t apologize for things like this by saying something like, “I know this is hard for you all to see,” but in this case I feel like I should.  What do you recommend?

Answer:
You’re not alone.  A lot of people are stuck having to present difficult, overloaded or poorly thought out slides.

You face two distinct challenges.  (1) As you prepare, you have to weed through the clutter and find the story you want to tell, and (2) you have to find a way to deliver that story – and have it make sense to your listeners – when the slide isn’t giving you much help.  Here are a few recommendations.

Challenge 1: Weed through the clutter
I’m afraid I can’t be of much help with this part of the dilemma, other than to encourage you to keep the big picture in mind.  Find the story you want to tell and stick with it.  You don’t have to talk about all the details on the slide if they don’t support your message.

Challenge 2: Help your listeners
When a busy slide comes up, your listeners’ eyes will go to it and try to figure it out.  Ideally they should be able to look at the slide and get a pretty clear understanding of it.  But if the slide is too complicated, they’re likely to give up.  Your job, then, is to help them through it.

  • Use the slide title
    If the title of the slide frames your story, use it to your advantage.  “As this title says, this is the sales forecast for Q3,” or “As you can see, we’re looking at the new workflow for project X.”
  • Acknowledge instead of apologize
    In your question you asked if it was appropriate to apologize.  First, I don’t think you’re breaking any sacred rule by apologizing for a difficult slide.  But moderation is key.  If you end up apologizing too much, your efforts won’t mean much.  Try shifting your thinking a bit.  Instead of apologizing for a busy slide, acknowledge it instead.  Use phrases like, “I know there’s a lot on this slide. I’d like to pull your attention to the upper right corner” or “Let’s focus right here,” as you point to that specific area on the screen.
  • Use triggers
    If you can, add triggers to direct attention to specific areas on the slide.  Triggers are things like arrows, circles or bold words.  Triggers tell your listeners that even though there’s a lot on the slide, you’re going to focus their attention on certain parts it.
  • Print handouts
    If listeners can’t see the detail on the screen, print the slide and give it to them as a handout.

In summary, you’re responsible for making sure listeners understand your message.  Even when you’re handed a difficult slide, do what you can to make sure that happens.

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