Obligatory Sports Metaphor Blog Post

May 6, 2015 in Barbara Egel, Delivery, Managing Nerves, Nervousness, Preparation, Presentation, Training

As I’ve been coaching both new and seasoned business presenters, two particular athletic analogies have proven really useful. (Full disclosure: I know stuff about sports, but it’s hardly my pastime of choice.) See if these resonate with you, and use them to help with the emotional / mental preparation you do to get ready to present.

To deal with nerves and manage energy. Nervousness with presentations seems to manifest itself in one of two barbara_egel_132_BWbroad ways: Either people’s nervous energy takes over and they lose control of their voices and bodies—talking too much or too fast, running out of breath, making unwanted facial expressions, and/or moving their feet in odd ways, among other things; or, they pull inward as though their whole bodies have been Botoxed—they forget how to smile, their voices retreat into inaudibility, their arms are glued to their sides, and they speak in a monotone.

Our engagement techniques—eye contact and pausing—help immensely once the presentation begins. But in the moments before you get up to speak, think about athletes. If you play(ed) a team sport, remember that moment between leaving the locker room and taking the field? The coach has pumped you up, you and your teammates are of one mind, your muscles are warm, and you are ready to explode into the game. You have nervous energy, sure, but it’s a good thing. It’s what will keep you pumped up but in control, jazzed enough to run up and down the court and steady enough to sink a three-pointer when the ball comes your way. This is the feeling you want just before you present. Turn that nervous energy to your advantage to keep yourself engaged, loose, and playing your best game.[Tweet “Remember that moment between leaving the locker room and taking the field?”]

To get comfortable with eye contact (or pausing, but mostly eye contact). Some of our learners have taken public speaking classes in the past and were told things like, “scan the room” or “look at the tops of people’s heads” so it appears you are making eye contact. To be truly engaged, you must make real eye contact and connect with your listeners. Often, when I prescribe eye contact as someone’s primary engagement technique, they tell me they understand in theory how it can work, but it’s really uncomfortable to do. This is when I talk about baseball (or golf or tennis).

When you’re a kid messing around in your backyard, all you do is grab the bat and stand kind of like you’ve seen on TV. If you’re naturally athletic, you might hit it pretty well, and you’ll keep that batting stance because it works for you. If you then start to play Little League and meet up with a batting coach, it’s highly likely he will change your stance—bending your knees more, moving your hands down on the bat, holding it higher or further from your body than you’re used to. Initially, you balk at this because it feels weird. You won’t have any power or control, your wrists hurt, and should you really be feeling your butt muscles this much playing baseball? Over time though, you get used to the new stance and discover you not only have more control but you get better distance, speed, and height on the ball.

Eye contact and pausing work the same way. At first, it feels weird and like all the stuff that’s worked okay for you in the past is being taken from you. But over time, you’ll discover that you’re getting noticeably better: more in control, more engaged, more conversational.[Tweet “Over time, you’ll discover that you’re getting noticeably better.”]

And you’ll be knocking it out of the park on the regular.

By Barbara Egel, Presentation Coach at Turpin Communication and editor of “The Orderly Conversation”

Why We Do What We Do (Part 1 of 4)

April 3, 2013 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Facilitation, Posts for Buyers, Presentation, Training

A Discussion of Turpin Communication’s Core Principles:
The Orderly Conversation

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Dale Ludwig, President & Founder of Turpin CommunicationThis post and the three to follow will focus on Turpin’s core principles. For those of you familiar with the work we do, this will be a review of ideas and processes you’ve already heard about. For other readers of The Trainers’ Notebook, these entries will describe what differentiates us from other presentation and facilitation skills training companies. Or, to put it another way, this series will answer the question, “Why do we do things the way we do them?”

I’ll start at the most fundamental level. Our first core principle is that a business presentation is an Orderly Conversation. This term became part of Turpin’s methodology several years ago. We adopted it because the term “presentation” is used to describe many different things, and the resources available to business presenters fail to differentiate among them.

That has left business presenters struggling with issues that can be traced back to the type of communication they’re involved in. Recommendations designed for a keynote address or a TED Talk, for example, are not those a business presenter can or should apply. The communication process itself is too different for that to work.

We’re trying to correct that by helping business presenters understand the unique challenge they face. Presentations succeed when presenters initiate a conversation with their audience and keep that conversation focused, efficient, and easy to follow. What makes a presentation a Conversation will always compete with what makes it Orderly, but the tension between the two is also what makes a presentation succeed. This applies to the whole range of communication situations business people face—live presentations, virtual meetings, training sessions, and even performance reviews.

The good news is our new way of looking at presenting has resonated with our clients. Once presenters know exactly what they’re dealing with, lots of other issues fall into place. How that happens has helped us answer some very important questions. Among them:

  • Why do individual presenters improve along different paths?
  • What’s the best way to manage nervousness?
  • What’s the difference between an interactive presentation and a facilitated discussion? What’s the best way to manage them?

I’ll talk about each of these questions and their influence on our core principles in the upcoming posts.

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

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