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”

Virtual Presentations That Work

March 25, 2013 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Preparation, Presentation, Talent Development, Training, Virtual

greg 200x300It’s one thing to be clear, concise, and in control of your message when you’re speaking to a group of people in a live conference room setting. It’s an entirely different thing to keep audience members attentive and engaged when presenting virtually.

It’s not just learning how to run the meeting software. That’s the easy part. The real issues are (1) getting people to want to participate and (2) communicating well using the technology so that what you say is actually heard and understood.

I led a webinar last week for CASRO, which is a professional organization serving the market research industry. In the session, we explore the skills and techniques it takes to communicate effectively in virtual settings no matter whether you’re conducting meetings, presentations, research results or video conferences.

Topics include:

  • Transferring face-to-face skills to the virtual environment
  • Engaging people you can’t see
  • Keeping people focused
  • Keeping things interesting
  • Developing visual aids for online delivery
  • Planning and executing interactions that people want to participate in
  • Using video conferencing tools
  • Pros and cons of muting attendee phones
  • Using tools such as polls, chat, hand raising and more
  • Using a host to manage the technology so that you can focus on content

What thoughts do you have about virtual delivery?

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

Do you really expect me to respond to that?

March 26, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Myths Debunked, Preparation, Presentation

Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s because of the work I do, but one thing that bugs me is a presenter who expects active participation from an audience without earning it. This can take many forms, but I’ll talk about a couple of really obvious ones.

First, the obvious opening question. It might sound like this, “Good morning everyone, before I begin let me just ask you to raise your hands if you’ve ever…” This is usually followed by something that few could disagree with, like “… been frustrated by inefficient processes?” Some of the people in the room politely raise their hands, but if you’re like me you’re a little annoyed.

The second example is the demand for an enthusiastic greeting from the audience. This is the “Good morning, everyone!” from the presenter followed by a polite “Good morning” from a few of the people in the room. Then the presenter says, “Oh, you can do better than that … I said GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE!” The group’s response is usually louder the second time around. Not necessarily enthusiastic, just louder.

In the first example, the presenter’s goal is to get a response from the audience to kick off the presentation. We all know, though, that the presenter isn’t really interested in what we think because the question has only one answer. In the second situation, the presenter expects the audience to be enthusiastic simply because he or she asks them to be.

In both of these situations, the presenter is shirking his or her responsibility to begin the presentation in a way that (1) sets the appropriate tone and (2) provides context. Instead of doing what’s necessary to earn the audience’s attention and enthusiasm, they expect the audience to make the first move, to respond before there’s anything substantive to respond to.

Remember, presentations are work for everyone involved, including the audience. If you want people to make the effort to participate in the presentation—fully participate, in a thoughtful way—presenters need to show that they’re willing to work for it. So the next time you’re delivering a presentation, take responsibility for setting the right tone and provide context for the discussion before asking your audience to actively participate.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

A reader’s question about this topic led to another article; read it here: More About When and How to Ask Questions During Your Presentations