Book focuses on real (though fictional) business presenters

February 6, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Presentation, The Orderly Conversation, Training

dale_ludwig_hi-res_colorGreg and I are excited that soon The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined will no longer be a work in progress. It’s in the editor’s hands now. Just a few more months to go.

In this post I want to introduce you to one of the features of the book that really sets it apart from others on the market. One of the first decisions we made was that this book had to be as practical as we could make it. It had to focus on the nuanced application of the skills and techniques we were talking about. Barbara, our editor, calls this going beyond the “what” and the “how” to focus on the “why.”

To do that, we decided to create eight fictional business presenters, representing the wide range of businesses and individuals we work with. Through the course of The Orderly Conversation, readers will observe as these eight people, each from a different company, go through a Turpin two-day presentation skills workshop.

We also decided to keep our two voices separate. I am responsible for the sections focusing on how we’re redefining business presentations. Greg is responsible for talking about how the eight presenters respond to and apply those ideas.

Terry is one of eight presenters you'll follow in "The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined"

Here’s a quick introduction.

  • Terry is the new Director of IT at his company and needs to find ways to be concise, especially when speaking to senior executives.
  • Dorothy is in market research and presents to a wiggly group of internal sales people.
  • Michael sells energy bars and delivers seated presentations to distracted buyers.
  • Jennifer suffers from severe nervousness, and her new role requires monthly presentations.
  • James founded his business 30 years ago and is just now hearing that his presentations are disorganized.
  • Sophia has been training internal groups for years and doesn’t understand why her manager sent her to this class.
  • Luis is a young entrepreneur who needs guidance on his pitch to venture capitalists.
  • Elaine works for a real estate development company and presents sometimes-controversial plans at town hall meetings.

Jennifer is one of eight presenters you'll follow in "The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined"As you can see, they are an interesting and diverse group.

  • If you suffer from nerves during your presentations, you’ll benefit from getting to know Jennifer and Terry.
  • If you’ve participated in a presentation training program that really didn’t help, you’ll appreciate what Luis and Sophia are going through.
  • If you sell across the desk in one-on-one situations, you’ll enjoy observing Michael’s progress.
  • If you’ve ever been surprised to learn that you’re hard to follow, you might sympathize with James.
  • Dorothy and Elaine have to learn to manage cranky or hostile audiences. If you do too, you’ll appreciate their frustration.

Greg will be writing more about all of our presenters in future blog posts.

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

Helping Employees Gain Respect by Improving Their Communication

May 14, 2012 in Author, Delivery, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Posts for Buyers, Preparation


greg 200x300As a communication consultant working with presenters, facilitators, and trainers, I have a lot of interesting conversations with business leaders about their employees.

The conversations may go something like this: “Greg, I know John is smart. He has great ideas and is always willing to put himself out there, but in meetings he doesn’t communicate clearly. He’s erratic, talks in circles, and apologizes for having an opinion. I’ve seen this happen a lot, and it’s causing his manager and peers to lose respect for him. How can you help me help him?”

Sometimes the conversations are like this: “When Mary and I talk in my office she’s confident and clear. But when she presents at meetings she falls to pieces. Mary is a high-potential employee, but her inability to speak to a group is holding her back. Can you help her?”

In both situations people have lost the respect of co-workers because of their poor communication skills.

Another scenario:
A few weeks ago I was working with a woman who is the Administrative Assistant to the CEO. “Jan” is roughly 50 years old, very well-dressed, and in charge.

At the beginning of the class, Jan participated fully in the conversation that I was facilitating. From the comfort of her seat she spoke up, listened attentively to the others, and responded clearly and confidently. She displayed a great sense of humor too.

But then things changed.

Later in the class we were doing an exercise in which everyone gets up in front of the room and introduces themselves to the group. Jan was last to volunteer. While this exercise always generates a few butterflies for people, Jan was a mess. She was very nervous and had tied herself into knots. She shifted her weight and looked down at the floor. Her voice was shaky, she became soft-spoken, and it sounded as if she were speed-reading through a script. Her sense of humor was gone. So was her personality.

Afterwards, she described herself as having just had an out-of-body experience.

When I asked her if she remembered seeing anyone’s face, she responded, “No, not at all.”
When I asked her if that was a common experience, she confessed, “Yes.”

Jan had turned her focus inward.

In her attempt to defend herself against the presence (or even the hint) of nervousness, she made the situation worse. Much worse. She forgot that she was speaking to real people, turned her focus inward, and had a complete meltdown. Suddenly she was not the articulate, confident person I met earlier, but someone else entirely.

Jan’s experience is not unique.

If you’ve ever experienced anything like that (and who hasn’t) you know it’s real. And it’s debilitating.

The good news is that debilitating nervousness is not a permanent condition. In the brief time we had together, Jan learned to speak as clearly and confidently to the group as she normally does in low-stakes conversations.

The key is to think of presentations as conversations that are taking place with real people in real time.

When Jan was nervous, she was speaking in a vacuum—unaware of her listeners and focusing solely on what she had planned to say. My solution was for her to turn her focus outward and speak to the individuals in the room. She needed to look people in the eye and actually SEE them. She needed to recognize their reactions and see how they were responding to her. When she did that, she was able to connect and respond.

The level of engagement that Jan achieved—something that happens automatically in everyday, low-stakes conversations—plays a crucial role in presentations. Although the people in the room are the cause of nervousness, presenters should not think of them as passive viewers whose sole responsibility is to judge. Presentations, like everyday conversations, are an exchange of information that can’t ever be perfect. When presenters focus on engaging their listeners, they’re able to break through the barrier of nervousness, turn their focus outward, and manage the process. This, in turn, makes them feel (and look) comfortable, confident, and in control.

Jan did that, and her improvement was astonishing. She became a person who would be respected in any presentation situation.

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