Work the Virtual Room

March 14, 2014 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Meetings, Virtual

To guard against sounding tired or uninspiring when leading a virtual session, I always recommend standing whenever possible. Being on your feet allows you to move around the room, keep your energy up and your voice bright.

As you can see in this photo, taken during a session I led for Training Magazine Network called Virtual Presentations that Work: Breakthrough to Engage Clients and Staff, I have the room set-up to help me stay on my toes during the session.

In the photo, you can see I’m wearing a phone headset and there are three computer screens. I’m logged in as a presenter on the laptop to my left. The big screen TV on the wall, which I look at most of the time, is projecting the same thing. The computer on the right is logged in as a participant, which gives me a sense of how much lag I’m dealing with.

The flipchart directly behind the laptop on the left is for my notes—used mostly to help me remember key information:Work the Virtual Room

  • The name of the session (yes, that’s something I might forget).
  • The names of my hosts.
  • A couple key phrases and leading questions, should I need them.
  • The time I need to be done.

You can also see that I have a hard copy of my presentation on the conference room table behind me. It’s there just in case something goes wrong with the technology and I have to wing it.

You may not have the luxury of a private room when presenting virtually, but I hope you’ll be able to borrow some ideas from this approach.

What ideas do you have for staying energetic and working the Virtual Room?

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

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”

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