A New Way to Look at the Orderly Conversation

June 4, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Preparation, Presentation, The Orderly Conversation

Greg and I had a meeting with our publisher and book designer yesterday. We’re getting very close to finalizing every image, sidebar, and pull quote (before we began this process, I had no idea what a pull quote was). We also talked about the back cover of the book. Along with the text included there, we’re including this image.

back cover 6-3-14

This image does a good job illustrating one of the core principles of The Orderly Conversation. The work you do in advance, during the planning stage, should bring order to the conversation you anticipate. It’s all about looking forward. Once the presentation begins, though, the plan must serve the conversation that’s actually taking place. That means bringing something created in the past into the present.

The challenge presenters face is balancing the two. Too much attention paid to the plan leads to stilted, scripted delivery. Too much attention on the conversation leads to a loss of order and focus. Successful presenters manage this process by staying fully engaged in the conversation and trusting the plan to keep it on track.

During your next presentation, keep the balance between these two goals in mind.

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

Resolution Season: NEW Private Coaching Service

January 7, 2014 in News, Preparation, Presentation, Training

We hope your new year is off to a great start. One of our goals this year at Turpin is to make it easier for workshop participants to receive follow-up coaching when they need it most.

If you’ve been through one of our workshops, you know that our goal is to make presenting easier. We provide practical recommendations you can take back to work and use right away.

The challenge for you is applying what you’ve learned (1) in the variety of situations you face and (2) when you have a lot of other things to think about. This is especially true when you have an important presentation coming up.

Coaching for Your Next High-Stakes Presentation
To help you succeed when you can’t afford to mess up, we’re offering a new follow-up coaching service. Starting this year, for an additional fee, workshop participants will have the opportunity to sign up for a private coaching session after their workshop.

How Does It Work?

  • Coaching will be delivered virtually. No travel required.
  • The session will last an hour. Long enough to be productive, short enough to give you time to do other things that day.
  • You decide when your coaching session takes place and what it will focus on.
  • You know your coach already. Whenever possible, your coaching session will be with one of the instructors from your live workshop.
  • We’ll do our homework. Before the coaching session we’ll ask you to email your presentation to us. We’ll review it and prepare feedback before coaching takes place.
  • Immediately after coaching, we’ll email you a summary of the work we did.

Who’s It For?
Coaching is available for all workshop participants, no matter when your workshop was held.

How to Sign Up
Just contact Dana Peters for pricing information and to schedule a session.

We’re excited to offer this new level of support for our clients.

How Do You Want to be Perceived?

October 21, 2013 in Author, Greg Owen-Boger, Preparation, Presentation, Talent Development, Training

greg_owen-boger_hi-res_colorAs Workplace Learning & Performance Professionals, this is an important question to ask ourselves. Just how DO we, as an industry, want to be perceived?

Almost every workshop we conduct and speaking engagement we lead starts with a group discussion around this question. Answers are charted and discussed. Once the chart is hung on the wall for all to see, we can start to look at ourselves through this lens and identify two things:

  1. What are we doing to support this hoped-for perception?
  2. What are we doing that’s preventing us from reaching it?

Here’s an example: I recently presented a session called “Engaging Learners in the Orderly Conversation” to a group of highly engaged learning professionals at a local ASTD chapter. The chart we made included a lot of great words, but the two that spoke the loudest to this group were “respected” and “relevant.”

Our conversation that day eventually turned to the use of icebreakers. The group was fairly evenly split. Some love icebreakers, others don’t. There was passion on both sides of the argument. Eventually I asked the group if the use of icebreakers supported their goals of being respected and relevant.

“No.”

“Yes.”

Eventually someone said, “Only if the icebreaker supports the learning and is relevant to the group.” Finally the group was in agreement.

When we work with trainers and instructional designers, we encourage them to scrutinize everything. Every module, everything they do and say, every exercise and facilitated discussion needs to support their goals. If they don’t, they should be tossed out or restructured.

Making these changes is a difficult thing for people to do. It’s hard to let go of long-held beliefs, habits, and industry trends, but it’s a necessary thing.

By Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation”

Youthful Skepticism

June 10, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Introduction, Preparation, Presentation

Last week I spent three hours working with a group of people just starting their careers, all in the non-profit sector. It was a real break from the usual business audience we work with in a couple ways. First, they were very young, many of them fresh out of college. So they had no problem challenging what I had to say.

Second, although their presentations were delivered to community-based organizations, their topics were very much like those we see in for-profit businesses. They focused on serving people better, being more efficient, and improving technology.

Before meeting with me, this group all took our online course. As part of that, they prepared a presentation and sent it to me. This gave me a chance to prepare feedback for them. Before I dove into their presentations last week, I asked if anyone had questions or comments about the online course.

A couple people in the group did, and it wasn’t exactly the kind of feedback I was expecting. They said they found the structure we had asked them to follow, especially the introduction to their presentations, very restrictive and regimented. “I would rather just start talking with my audience when I start. I’d give them an agenda, but that’s it.”[Tweet “Clarity, context, and relevance are necessary for every presentation, regardless of audience.”]

I probed a little and asked if the organizational structure felt like a straightjacket. “Yes,” they said.

We hear that a lot from class participants. People often feel we impose a strict structure for introductions, one that cramps their style.

After working with a few introductions and talking through the nuances of each, the group last week began to see that an introduction is just a framework, a framework listeners need. Further, while the goals of every introduction are the same, presenters are free to reach those goals any way they want. So there really isn’t a straightjacket, just goals to be met.

What struck me about this group of presenters is that they assumed there was a disconnect between our approach (all business) and their needs (all community-based-non-profit). What they wound up seeing was that clarity, context, and relevance are necessary components of every presentation, regardless of audience or purpose.

I’m looking forward to going back to this organization next year. It was good to work with a group of eager yet skeptical young people.

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

“I took a public speaking course.”

August 13, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Myths Debunked, Presentation, Training

I went to the theatre last night to see a performance of “Here Lies Henry,” a play by Daniel MacIvor. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the company producing the play. But don’t worry, this is not a plug for this production or the company producing it. Rather, this is about something that happens in the first few moments of the play, something that makes me laugh and cringe.

One of Henry’s first lines is, “I took a public speaking course.” He then starts listing what he learned, “One, don’t say ‘um.’ Two, never apologize. Three, don’t say ‘anyway.’” Henry can’t remember the fourth thing he learned, which causes him to flounder, say “um,” apologize for it, and then say “anyway.” The audience laughed as Henry broke every rule and struggled to untie the knots his training left him in.

This was a funny bit in the show, but Henry’s experience is a pretty fair representation of what happens in a lot of public speaking courses. That’s what makes me cringe.

Henry and many other real-life presenters have been taught to focus on the symptoms of their nervousness. This leads to an obsessive concern with the number of ums they might say or the types of gestures or movement they use. The underlying assumption with this approach is that there are some things presenters should always do and other things they should never do.

If you’ve ever participated in one of our workshops, you know that one of our goals is to put an end to this. We encourage people to throw out any rule that gets in the way of the conversation that must take place during a presentation. We ask presenters to focus their energy on the skills that work for them, not the symptoms of their nervousness. Once they’ve done that, the conversation starts and nervousness—along with its symptoms—goes away.

The class Henry took had it backwards—a good reminder to all of us that improving your presentations is all about knowing where to start.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication