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

May 6, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Facilitation, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Training

A Discussion of Turpin Communication’s Core Principles:
The Presenter’s Role as Facilitator

Part 1Part 2, Part 3

Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin CommunicationThis is the fourth and final post focusing on Turpin’s core principles. In the first three I defined the Orderly Conversation, Default Approaches and what it means to be engaged in a genuine conversation. In this post I’ll talk about how delivering a presentation, regardless of its purpose or setting, requires the skills of a facilitator.

When we think of facilitation, most of us think of the discussions that take place in the training room, during problem-solving meetings, or brainstorming sessions. Facilitators in these situations are skilled at moving a group of people toward a specific goal. They help people understand new information, find solutions, and share insights. Their job is to (1) encourage the process to ensure a genuine conversation takes place and (2) control the conversation to keep it appropriately focused on the goal.

This isn’t easy, of course, because the first goal always competes with the second. When the conversation really gets going, the facilitator has to be astute enough to rein it in without stifling it altogether.

Facilitating Your Presentations

The same thing needs to happen during your presentations—even if you’re the person doing most of the talking. Your audience wants to feel they have the opportunity to participate, even if they choose not to take it. They also want to feel that you’re capable of managing the twists and turns of the conversation, even when they are the people pulling you off track.

Many presenters—especially those who are under the stress of nervousness, are new to their role, or feeling intimidated by the audience—are too controlling. Their focus on the orderly part of the process makes them appear uncomfortable, impatient, defensive, or domineering. They don’t trust the audience or the process enough to let the conversation breathe. Audiences sense this, of course, and pull away. Sometimes they simply shut down and wait for the presentation to be over. Sometimes their frustration leads to more open resistance.

The most successful presenters are those who understand that they can’t get the job done without the audience. They trust the group and the process to make a necessary, though not always easily managed, contribution. They know that without it, a genuine conversation never takes place.

So that wraps up my discussion of Turpin’s core principles. The common theme? By redefining business presentations as Orderly Conversations, the real-life challenges you face and the strategies you need to manage them come into sharper focus.

Part 1Part 2Part 3

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

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

Presenter Stands on a Chair?

August 27, 2009 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, FAQs


One time my company brought in a guest speaker who stood on a chair for the entire presentation.  I suppose he thought that would make him more memorable, but all I remember is that he stood on a chair.  He’s become the joke at every conference since.  What do you think?

If the presenter’s goal was to be remembered, he succeeded.  Just not in the way he hoped.  I assume that there was no practical reason for him to stand on the chair.  That is, he wasn’t doing it to be seen or heard better.  And he wasn’t delivering a presentation about the strength or durability of the chair he stood on.  So whatever the presenter’s purpose, it was lost on the audience, and the fact that he stood on the chair became so distracting that his message didn’t come across.

I think there are a few lessons to take away from this.

  1. Gimmicks don’t work.  Don’t assume that your audiences need or want you to use techniques that are far afield from your message.  Stick with your message and make it relevant to them.  Greg wrote an entry about this.
  2. Stay engaged.  If this presenter had been in tune with his audience, he would have realized that standing on the chair wasn’t working.
  3. Explain yourself.  Let’s say that there was a good reason to stand on the chair.  In this presenter’s situation, then, standing on the chair wasn’t his mistake.  Failing to explain why he was doing it was.  Don’t assume audiences will make connections you think are obvious.  Take the time to explain what you’re doing and reinforce it throughout the presentation.

Finally, if you’re considering doing something during your presentation that feels a little questionable, don’t do it.  Presentations are unpredictable enough all by themselves.  Don’t add to the risk.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Help! I`m Long-winded!

September 30, 2008 in Assessing Your Default, Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Engaging Listeners, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Handling Questions, Managing the Orderly Conversation, Presentation

When you’re delivering a presentation and the thought crosses your mind that you may have said enough, you probably have. Move on to your next agenda item. Your listeners will appreciate it.

But what if the thought never occurs to you that you might have said enough? Well, for one thing, your listeners will tune you out as you drone on and on. When that happens, you’ll have a tough time getting them back. That is, if you even notice that they’ve tuned out. (If you’re rambling on, there’s a fair chance that you’re too much in your head and not paying enough attention to your listeners.)

So, the issue here is not that you’ve said too much – it’s easy to talk a lot about your topic when you know a lot about it. The key is to recognize that you’ve said too much and make the conscious decision to move on.[Tweet “If the thought crosses your mind that you have said enough, you probably have.”]

If you know us, you know that we’re always talking about the benefits of pausing. This time is no exception. Pausing is critical for many reasons.

  • It helps you gather your thoughts.
  • It helps you regain control of your nerves.
  • It helps you engage your listeners.
  • It gives your listeners time to digest what you’ve just said.

And it even helps you recognize that you’ve said enough, and that it’s time to move on.

As I often say in class, pausing is your friend.

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