Trainers: Establish Context and a Reason to Participate

January 23, 2017 in Greg Owen-Boger, Posts for Buyers, Talent Development, Training, Video

In this video, produced by the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Greg Owen-Boger, Turpin’s VP, discusses why providing context and reason to participate is important.

 

Have you ever been sitting in a meeting, a presentation, or a training session and wondered what am I doing here? What are we trying to accomplish? Of course you have and it happens all the time. And the reason for it is because the leader of that communication event just didn’t take the time to set the context for you.

So my colleagues and I always recommend stating what may seem painfully obvious to you. Here’s an example: Hey, thanks for coming out to the meeting today. We’re going to be going over the budgeting process so that when it comes to planning for next fiscal year, you’ll understand why the leadership needs so much detailed information so early.

So as you can see, it only takes a quick moment to provide that context and reason to participate. And trust me on this, it’s time really well spent.

Click to learn more about our training for trainers.

Your Presentation Is Not An M. Night Shyamalan Movie

January 3, 2017 in Author, Barbara Egel, Delivery, Preparation, Presentation

Your presentations key point shouldn't be a mysterySometimes, we get a little too excited about the material we’re presenting. In those moments, when the sales data is good beyond all expectations, the research findings uncovered lots of opportunities for growth, or the team has come up with the perfect solution to a client’s problem, the impulse is to build the story for maximum dramatic impact and present our big, climactic TA-DAAA! at the end. This is what a writer might do in a novel or story.

The problem with this approach is that your audience isn’t reading—where they can flip back to earlier pages or chapters and take notes—they’re listening to get business done. Therefore, suspense is not a great technique. Starting with the details and building to your conclusion is not only emotionally unsatisfying for your listeners, it also risks losing their attention or confusing them. You’re asking them to keep the facts straight as you gradually make the connections for them.

Instead, right after your introduction, start with your key point—the big a-ha, the jewel in the crown. This way, not only will listeners be emotionally satisfied right away, they will be eager to hear how you reached that conclusion. The support points will flow from your key point in a logical and easy-to-follow fashion.

So for your next presentation, save the suspense and make understanding as easy as possible for your listeners.

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

Give the Gift of Better Business Communication This Year

November 23, 2015 in Dale Ludwig, Greg Owen-Boger, News, Posts for Buyers, The Orderly Conversation

Give the gift of The Orderly Conversation30% Off Your Entire Order

We’ve been told time and again: “I wish I’d had this book earlier in my career.”

So… no matter where your friends, family and co-workers are in their career, why not give them something they can really use?

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Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what others have put in writing:

Where was this book when I was starting out?!?”
Pamela Meyer, Ph.D., Author, “From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing for Dynamic Engagement”

“I’m buying several copies for my colleagues.”
Nick Rosa, Managing Director, Sandbox Industries

“Spread the word, gentlemen. If I had my way, your text would be required reading in every business school in the land.”
Robert Lane, Director, Aspire Communications

“I wish I’d had this book earlier in my career.”
Blaine Rada, “America’s Greatest Thinker,” The Great American Think-Off

“You will use what you learn in The Orderly Conversation in the office, at home, and really anywhere the stakes are high and you need to get business done.”
Antonia Fico, Director, Performance Solutions, US Cellular

Keep these 3 things in mind when using PowerPoint in informal settings

March 11, 2015 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Meetings, Preparation

Here’s a question I found intriguing on LinkedIn. It’s from a woman named Alexis.

We do mid-year meetings with our customers, to review the services we’ve delivered and make sure expectations are being met/exceeded. In the interest of consistency, we’ve developed a PowerPoint template with key topics to include – the expectation is that it be customized based on the customer. Often, we don’t project, but rather use the slides as a handout, to ensure all key points are being met, and to leave the customer with a takeaway in writing. Some of our employees are naturals at referring to slides when needed, in whatever order the conversation goes, but a few are struggling with using PowerPoint and not just following through, slide by slide, letting the presentation dictate the conversation (rather than the other way around). I would be grateful for any tips or articles anyone has that might help these folks.

dale_ludwig_hi-res_colorAlexis:

First, I really like the way this question is phrased. It’s clear that you know these meetings are conversations, not one-way presentations of information. The challenge you’re talking about—centering on how a slide or a handout should be used during an informal meeting—is common. In some ways, these sorts of meetings are more difficult to manage than a formal presentation to a larger group because the chances are very good the conversation will go off in an unexpected direction.

Here are a few best practices.

  1. Frame the Conversation: At the beginning of the meeting, the presenter (I’ll call that person the “presenter” even though this is an informal conversation) should take control of the conversation by quickly establishing context, a goal for the meeting, and the takeaways for the audience. Include this information on the first slide in the deck. This will build a framework for the conversation. As the conversation proceeds, the presenter simply needs to be aware of how what is happening spontaneously fits (or doesn’t fit) into the frame. They should also refer to the frame by saying things like: “We’re meeting today to talk about how things have been going in the last couple months …” and “Should we move on to my next point?”
  2. Bring Visuals into the Conversation: As the conversation moves along, be sure to draw attention to the visual when appropriate. It’s important to let the customer know when they should look at the visual and what they should be focusing on. For example, saying something like: “Let’s jump ahead to the third slide in the deck. As you can see across the top, we’ve been doing well meeting the deliverables we discussed last fall.” This will help presenters take advantage of the focus and clarity the visual is there to provide.
  3. Be Aware of Your Default: You mentioned in your question that some of the presenters are comfortable going with the flow of the conversation, bringing the slides into it as needed, and that others move forward slide by slide by slide. This is extremely common. People approach these sorts of conversations differently. We’ve come up with labels for the most fundamental distinction and found that most people fall somewhere between them. We call the first type “Improvisers” because they thrive on the give and take of the interaction. We call the slide-by-slide people “Writers” because they are most comfortable when there is a plan they can follow. Neither Default is better than the other. Just different.
    • Improvisers: It’s easy for an Improviser to get the conversation going and then … get lost in it. The good thing is their level of engagement with the customer is high and they’re very responsive. The down side is that they often get caught in the weeds. Improvisers need to trust the plan they have created to help them stay focused. For an Improviser, doing well often feels like they’re being restricted. While that might be slightly uncomfortable for them, it’s usually a good thing because it means they’re more focused and concise.
    • Writers: Flexibility within the frame is crucial for Writers. Having a plan is a good thing, but it shouldn’t be allowed to squelch the conversation. Before the presentation, Writers should take a step back and consider how the information they’re delivering fits into the frame. At this point don’t worry about the details, just the overall shape of the presentation. Imagine delivering content in a different order, in response to a specific question, or with a different emphasis. Doing so will help a Writer look at the content in different ways and build flexibility.

As you know, there is no perfect presentation or perfect meeting. Unexpected things happen during a lively conversation. The thing to do is to have a strong plan and be ready to adapt it on the fly.[Tweet “There is no perfect presentation or perfect meeting. “] [Tweet “Unexpected things happen. … have a strong plan and be ready to adapt it on the fly.”]

Thanks for the question, Alexis!

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

New Book Offers Game-Changing Approach to Instructor-Led Training

July 15, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Greg Owen-Boger, News, The Orderly Conversation, Training

Granville Circle Press announces the July 15, 2014 publication of “The Orderly Conversation,” a groundbreaking resource for business communication.

News Release – PDF

Granville Circle Press announced today the publication of “The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined” by Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger, a book that challenges some long-held beliefs in the corporate training world about engaging adults in the learning process.

“Corporate training’s purpose is to help move business forward,” write the authors. “When it’s done well, attendees learn what they’re there to learn and return to their jobs.” Training should be efficient, relevant, and earn the goodwill of trainees. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Too often trainers fail to connect with their learners, miss opportunities, and rely on classroom activities that miss the mark. “It’s not the trainer’s fault,” says Owen-Boger, “most of the time they’re simply doing what they themselves have been trained to do. That’s where the problem lies.”

The Orderly Conversation sets out to change that by focusing trainers’ efforts on learner engagement and creating the conditions for fruitful learning. “When trainers engage their learners in a genuine conversation,” says Ludwig, “when they’re willing and able to adapt their approach on the fly, the path to success is much clearer.”

The first step, say the authors, is to turn away from techniques associated with “speechmaking” or entertaining and focus on the give-and-take that must take place between speaker and learner. “It’s all about letting the conversation take place without losing sight of your training goals,” says Owen-Boger. “When you do that, you earn the trust and goodwill of your learners.”

Developed through years of Turpin Communication’s presentation workshops, this change in approach dramatically improves how trainers and instructional designers approach their work. “… As an instructional designer who specializes in developing communication skills, I have certainly had to scan many of the old fashioned ‘do this, don’t do this’ self-help guides… The Orderly Conversation is miles beyond, said Matt Elwell, CPLP, President and CEO of ComdeySportz of Chicago. “This text explores what is really happening between a presenter and an audience… I can’t say enough how much more powerful this book is than any other one I’ve seen on the subject.”

The Orderly Conversation takes readers through a clear and accessible process, inviting readers into one of the authors’ workshops where you observe eight fictional, but very real, presenters. One of these class participants is Sophia, a trainer at a credit union. She enters the class with some troublesome ideas about training. Lou Russell, from Russell Martin & Associates (and celebrated training industry author) calls these ideas “edutainment and trickery.”

Throughout the workshop, Sophia learns that these troublesome techniques were actually having the opposite effect of what she intended them to have. She also realizes that initiating the training conversation should be her first priority. When she does that, she’ll do her part to move the business forward.

Granville Circle Press calls their latest offering “eminently practical; real-world advice for the real world of business.” The Orderly Conversation is available now at http://www.theorderlyconversation.com, Amazon, and other online book retailers.

ABOUT GRANVILLE CIRCLE PRESS
Granville Circle Press–“Communicating Good Ideas.”, including “Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference,” selected by Kirkus Reviews as a “Best of 2012.” info(at)granvillecirclepress(dot)com The Orderly Conversation, ISBN 978-0-9838703-2-6 $21.95

ABOUT TURPIN COMMUNICATION
Turpin Communication (Chicago) was founded in 1992 to provide the best presentation and facilitation skills training available anywhere. Since then it has helped business presenters in a broad range of industries and organizations focus on the skills and techniques that help them succeed. Authors Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger are available for key note addresses and to speak at conferences and corporate meetings.

Contact

Kyle Carlson
Granville Circle Press
+1 612-229-8896
Email

Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger
Turpin Communication
773-239-2523
Email

This news release was originally published here.

New Book Offers Game-Changing Approach to Business Presentations

July 15, 2014 in Dale Ludwig, Greg Owen-Boger, News, The Orderly Conversation

Granville Circle Press announces the July 15, 2014 publication of “The Orderly Conversation,” a groundbreaking resource for business presenters.

News Release – PDF

Granville Circle Press announced today the publication of “The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined” by Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger, a book that promises to change the way business presenters think about the everyday presentations they deliver. The authors, communication experts with Turpin Communication (Chicago), offer a revolutionary approach that turns the old “Public Speaking 101” model on its head.

“The 101 model has been causing trouble for business people for years,” said Ludwig. He should know. He taught Public Speaking courses at the University of Illinois early in his career and has been working with business presenters since 1989.

“Much of what’s taught about business presentations needs to be replaced,” says Ludwig. “Traditional methods focus on ‘speechmaking.’ Speeches are a type of performance, something that can be rehearsed and perfected. Business presenters need something fundamentally different because delivering a speech will not help them close a complex deal, reach alignment with a team, or gather feedback on a broken process.”

This practical, realistic approach to business communication is one that turns away from “speechmaking” to focus on managing an “orderly conversation,” the type of lively interaction that thrives on the natural give-and-take between presenter and audience. Developed through years of Turpin Communication’s presentation workshops, this change in approach dramatically improves and empowers their clients’ internal and external communication.

pull-quote-1“This could change the way people do business! Where was this book when I was starting out?” said Pamela Meyer, Ph.D., author of “From Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing for Dynamic Engagement.”

“Most presenters knew they weren’t delivering formal speeches, but the assumptions they were making and strategies they used didn’t reflect that,” says Owen-Boger. “Thinking of presentations as conversations changes everything: from preparation and delivery, through managing interactions, to how you judge your success when it’s all over.”

The Orderly Conversation takes readers through a clear and accessible process, inviting readers into one of the authors’ workshops to learn how to

  •     Frame a presentation as an extension of what came before
  •     Craft compelling visual aids that prepare you for the moment the conversation starts
  •     Engage listeners in a comfortable, flexible, and persuasive conversation
  •     Create the environment for productive interaction while maintaining control over the message
  •     Be clear and concise when thinking on your feet

 

“Most books on the subject stress how to look good speaking at people,” said Blaine Rada, professional speaker and management trainer named “America’s Greatest Thinker.” “’The Orderly Conversation’ shows how to truly connect with people, so you can stop performing and start engaging.”

Granville Circle Press calls their latest offering “eminently practical; real-world advice for the real world of business.” The Orderly Conversation is available now at http://www.theorderlyconversation.com, Amazon, and other online book retailers.

ABOUT GRANVILLE CIRCLE PRESS
Granville Circle Press–“Communicating Good Ideas.”, including “Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference,” selected by Kirkus Reviews as a “Best of 2012.” info@granvillecirclepress.com The Orderly Conversation, ISBN 978-0-9838703-2-6 $21.95

ABOUT TURPIN COMMUNICATION
Turpin Communication (Chicago) was founded in 1992 to provide the best presentation and facilitation skills training available anywhere. Since then it has helped business presenters in a broad range of industries and organizations focus on the skills and techniques that help them succeed. Authors Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger are available for key note addresses and to speak at conferences and corporate meetings.

Contact

Kyle Carlson
Granville Circle Press
+1 612-229-8896
Email

Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger
Turpin Communication
773-239-2523
Email

This news release was originally published here.

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”

“There’s No Soul in Perfection”

April 3, 2014 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Myths Debunked, Video

american-idol-logoI’ll admit it. I watch American Idol. I suppose I have a little bit of … something… in my heart for those kids. I used to be a young performer. I dreamt of stardom too.

Now that I’m older and have worked that dream out of my system, I’m far more interested in the coaching the contestants receive than the performances themselves. Last night’s show, Season 13 – Top 8, was a coaching bonanza.

greg 200x300Harry Connick Jr’s advice to Sam was to make a connection, look at a single person (or the camera) and connect. He’s right about that. And it’s good advice for business presenters too. It’s not enough to say words, no matter how clear or persuasive (or pitch perfect) you are. You need to say them to someone. Make a connection. Make sure you’ve been heard and understood.

Immediately following Harry’s advice, Keith Urban told Sam, “There’s no soul in perfection.” He wants Sam to let loose, get a little dirty, rough it up. The same is true for business presenters.

[Tweet “”There is no soul in perfection” @KeithUrban #deep”]

We’ve posted a lot about the downside to striving for presentation perfection. It puts too much pressure on you and it takes you out of the moment. You can’t be “in” a conversation and reciting what you’ve rehearsed at the same time. It just doesn’t work. A presentation audience wants to feel as if the words are coming out of your mouth for the first time. They want to feel as if they can add to the conversation rather than observe as you talk.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be prepared. You should be. But you also need to react in the moment to what’s happening around you. Let the conversation get a little messy. Rough it up. Make a connection. That’s when the heart and soul of a business presentation shines.

Here are some other posts that talk about perfection, nervousness created by the desire for perfection, and the downside to practicing too much.

Practice Makes Perfect… or not.

Dealing with Presentation Nerves

 

Presentation Myth: I have been told to Practice Practice Practice. What do you think?

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

More About When and How to Ask Questions During Your Presentations

April 1, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Introduction, Meetings, Presentation, Training

The article we shared on Facebook last week, Do you really expect me to respond to that?, sparked a question from Barbara.

Hey Dale, could we have a post soon on questions that aren’t manipulative? That is, how/when to place a question that helps you gauge your audience and gather information? For example, “How many of you switched to the new software at least a year ago? Within the last six months? Haven’t switched yet?” I can see that the information could be useful to the presenter in tailoring their talking points, but I can also see it as kind of annoying. So, best practices?

Barbara’s question is a good one for anyone who has ever gathered—or attempted to gather—information from audience members during a presentation or training session. As she points out, learning more about your audience’s knowledge or perspective really does help you tailor the information you’re delivering to their needs.

The challenge is to gather information in a way that doesn’t squander the audience’s good will.dale_ludwig_hi-res_color

Before I list a few best practices for this type of interaction, let me emphasize the fundamental issue involved: when you ask your audience to take an active role in the conversation, by answering a question or participating in a discussion, you are asking them to do you a favor.

In some situations, you are also asking them to take a risk. For example, “How many of you are struggling with the new software?” may be a question people may not want to respond to in public. They may fear they are the only person struggling or maybe they have been avoiding the new software for months and would rather not admit it.

Gathering information, then, needs to be managed in a way that makes the audience feel they are participating in a safe, necessary, and fruitful discussion. They need to believe you have done your homework, there is a reason they should respond, and you respect their time and effort.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Earn the right to ask for participation. As I said in my previous post, don’t begin with a question. Create context and establish the right tone first.
  • Explain why you need information from them. Will it make the conversation better? More efficient? Quicker?
  • Acknowledge that by responding to you, the group is helping you do your job. Just because they came to the meeting doesn’t mean they are ready to respond to your questions. Make it easy for them and be genuinely appreciative.
  • Don’t condescend. If all you’re doing is fishing for the “right” answer to a question, you’re misusing the interactive process and treating adults like children. This often happens during training sessions. The questions you ask should not feel like a test. Instead, they should lead to deeper understanding. For example, instead of saying, “Okay, so we’ve gone over the four steps necessary for this process to work. Who can remind the group what they are?” it’s better to say, “Does everyone feel comfortable with these four steps? If so, we’ll move on. If not, how can I help you be more comfortable?”
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, use the information you gather to shape the rest of the conversation. If you don’t, you’re not only wasting an opportunity, but you’re also disrespecting the effort the audience made to participate.

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

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”