My boss likes to jump in and take over. It’s embarrassing. What can I do?

May 29, 2012 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, FAQs, Handling Questions, Preparation, Sarah Stocker

The answer to this question has everything to do with your relationship to your boss. You may not be able to do anything about this behavior.

If you feel that you can, talk about it with the boss before your next presentation. Maybe the boss doesn’t realize what s/he is doing. So maybe, in an attempt to keep your presentation focused and on track, you’ll agree to ask for input when you need it. Or the boss will politely ask if it’s all right with you when s/he feels the need to interrupt.

If your boss isn’t satisfied with these options, perhaps you can meet a few days before your presentation and give him/her an overview of what you’ll be discussing. This will let your boss see where you plan to take the conversation and give him/her the opportunity to provide direction in private. Knowing what you’re going to discuss may make it easier for him/her to let you lead the conversation.

All of these solutions would preserve your position as the person in charge of the presentation without eliminating the boss’ input.

By Sarah Stocker, Trainer and Workshop Coordinator at Turpin Communication

They Won’t Speak if You Don’t Listen

April 16, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Facilitation, Preparation

One of the biggest problems facilitators have is very basic: failure to stay in the moment to listen and respond to what people have to say.

When we work with facilitators in our workshops, we always say that there are two primary goals in every discussion. (1) Facilitators need to encourage the conversation. They need to get people talking about the topic at hand. (2) They need to control the discussion once it begins. They need to be good managers and as efficient as possible.

What often happens is that facilitators spend too much of their energy on the second and not nearly enough on the first. The result is that the people in the group don’t really feel heard. This discourages participation. Individuals won’t exert the effort required to say anything—or anything substantial—if they feel the facilitator isn’t genuinely interested. If you’ve ever lead a discussion that never really got off the ground, this could be the reason.

Good listening requires giving the person you’re listening to your full, un-preoccupied attention. That person needs to feel not only heard, but that what they’re saying has the power to influence the discussion as a whole. If that doesn’t happen, sooner or later, they’ll shut down.

How can you prevent this from happening?

  • Be patient. Don’t interrupt. Look interested. Think about what people say.
  • Probe beneath the surface and be interested in nuance.
  • Don’t listen for simply the “correct” response, the one you expected or hoped to get. This turns the discussion into an exercise that’s all about you.
  • Your plan is not the most important part of the discussion. Be flexible.

Facilitating a discussion is an act of faith. Facilitators need to trust the people in the group and the process of interacting with them. Successful facilitators expect things to get complicated and to go off track. And they also trust themselves to be able to manage the process when that happens.

Read the follow-up to this blog at Encouraging Discussion.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication