1 Website, 2 Interviews in India about The Orderly Conversation

October 18, 2015 in Dale Ludwig, Greg Owen-Boger, News, Posts for Buyers, The Orderly Conversation, Training, Uncategorized

indezine-logoThe Orderly Conversation is getting around. This time it’s in India where an online publication, Indezine, has interviewed co-authors Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger about the book and the writing process they followed.

We’d like to thank Geetesh Bajaj, editor at Indezine, for his insightful questions.

GeeteshGeetesh: Compared to other presenters’ books, The Orderly Conversation is a book that’s not so much about a sequential series of improvement steps one needs to take. Rather, your book is filled with your personal experiences — and it is these experiences that are valuable since they help others overcome so many problems. Can you share some thoughts about this observation?

dale_ludwig_hi-res_colorDale: You’re right, The Orderly Conversation grew out of our experience working with many different presenters with many different challenges. Over the years, we realized that there is no single path for improvement appropriate for everyone. “Rules” of delivery, for example, only work when the right “rule” is used to fill a very personal need. And everyone’s “rules” are slightly different.
Read the rest of Dale’s answer.

greg_owen_boger_300Greg: Over 40-plus combined years, Dale and I have worked with people from many different industries and at all levels within their organizations. There is one common theme among them. Through their business communications, they are attempting to get business done; they need to be clear and persuasive so that their listeners buy, agree, align, or learn. This also means that they need to create the conditions for a fruitful and efficient dialogue to take place.

Often the first objective (that of achieving the goal) is missed because of failure on the speaker’s part to manage the give-and-take process. We believe that this happens because business people are using the wrong set of tools to do that work.
Read the rest of Greg’s answer.

Geetesh: How did this book evolve – and what roles did you and your co-author play in its creation?

Dale: When I started writing, I was going to be the sole author. After I had written a few chapters, I showed them to Greg. (He and I have been delivering workshops together for about 20 years.) Greg’s response to the chapters was that they were theoretically sound, but did not focus enough on the practical application of the theory. To solve that problem, we decided we would share the writing responsibilities in a unique way. Greg would write about a fictional group of business presenters going through one of our workshops (people with very typical problems and strengths).
Read the rest of Dale’s answer.

Greg: Originally, I wasn’t going to contribute to the book at all. However, after reading an early draft, I suggested to Dale that it was lacking practical application. In other words, the theory was rock solid, but I doubted whether readers would be able to apply Dale’s recommendations to the variety of situations they face at work. I’m a huge fan of Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, in which he uses character and story to bring his leadership concepts to life. We decided to do the same, and since I have a background in theatre and storytelling, it made sense for me to take on this new concept and weave narrative into the text.

To do that, we created eight fictional, yet very real characters.
Read the rest of Greg’s answer.

[Tweet “The Orderly Conversation debuts in India. Thank You, Indezine and @Geetesh!”]

Three ways to deliver better presentations more easily

September 23, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivering Your Presentation, Preparation, Presentation

dale_ludwig_hi-res_colorIf you’re a business presenter, you know that the presentations you deliver serve one purpose—they help you get business done. Your presentations aren’t big speeches. They aren’t TED talks. They’re practical, necessary, and far too often time-consuming and frustrating. If you’re like most presenters you probably spend too much time worrying that you’re over- or under-prepared, wondering if the slides you’re using will do the job, and struggling to follow the rules of delivery.

What if things could be different? What if your next presentation was a comfortable interaction between you and your audience, a kind of conversation that gets business done smoothly and efficiently? It can be if you turn away from the speechmaking strategies you’ve been taught and approach your presentation as if it were a conversation.

[Tweet “#Presentations serve one purpose—they help you get #business done.”]The problem business presenters face is fundamental. The assumption—reinforced in school and training classes—has always been that a speech and a presentation are essentially the same process, the difference between them measured in degrees of formality. Speeches are formal. Presentations less so.

This assumption encourages business presenters to bring the wrong tools to the job. It’s like using a sledgehammer to hang a picture on the wall—not only awkward but a little dangerous as well. This mismatch in approach has real-life consequences. Among them, increased nervousness for presenters, wasted preparation time, stilted delivery, and a tendency to blame PowerPoint for every presentation ill.

So let’s look at a new way to do things. If you approached your next presentation as a type of conversation, not a type of speech, what would you do differently? What adjustments would you need to make?

1. Prepare a frame, not a script
Conversations are spontaneous processes. Someone speaks as someone listens, back and forth. The same thing happens during a business presentation, the difference being there is someone in charge, someone leading the conversation. And that person, the presenter, has a goal that can only be reached through the conversation.

So how do you prepare for that? Not by scripting because that prevents the conversation from taking place. Not by ignoring preparation altogether because that leads to confusion and frustrated audience members. The solution is to build a frame for the conversation to take place within. A solid frame assures your audience of four things: you have a plan, you know what you want, you understand their perspective, and there is a reason for them to care about what you’re talking about.

The first few slides in your presentation should emphasize the frame you’ve built. Use an agenda slide, a slide that identifies your audience’s current situation, and maybe include a slide that lists the audience’s takeaways from your presentation. The number and type of slides really doesn’t matter as long as you communicate the frame. While the frame doesn’t communicate a lot of content, it does establish you as someone who has the audience’s need for clarity and efficiency in mind.

2. Bring content slides into the conversation, because they’re more than “visuals aids”
The conventional wisdom about the visual component in presentations holds that slides must be as simple as possible, images are more persuasive than bullet points, and presenters should never, ever read what’s on the slide. I might be able to make a case for each of these ideas if we were talking about speeches, but we’re not. So let’s take a closer look at how content slides should be used in a business presentation.

I’m fairly sure that many of the slides you use would not pass the scrutiny of a professional designer. There are a two reasons for this—your audience and the amount of time you have. First, your audience may want and need to see the details, the data, the spreadsheet. Information like that can’t be designed into a beautiful slide. Your job, then, is to bring that information into the conversation, and (just as important) make it understandable and useful. Second, you probably don’t have the time to create well-designed slides anyway. So there’s no point beating yourself up about it. Just be sure that when you’re talking about a complex slide you communicate the point you need to make. Don’t just talk about the details on the slide.

3. Initiate the conversation, don’t strive for perfect delivery
When your presentation begins, it’s your job to bring the people you’re talking to into the conversation. That requires focusing on conversation skills, not delivery skills. Here’s the difference. Delivery skills are about appearances. They are about how you look and sound to your audience. Delivery skills are developed through rehearsal and lead to a type of performance.

Conversation skills are used to initiate an interaction and keep it going. They do more than make you look and sound good. They help you establish a genuine connection between you and your audience. When that happens, your natural communication instincts will kick in and your nerves will be under control.

What are the most crucial conversational skills for presenters? Eye contact and pausing. Eye contact helps you connect with your audience. You can’t have a good face-to- face conversation without it. Pausing helps you think on your feet and stay in the moment. This may sound awfully simple, but it takes conscious effort to calm your mind and focus on others when you’re feeling the stress of presenting. So at the beginning of your presentation, focus on one of these skills, whichever one works better for you.

When it’s time for your next business presentation, turn away from traditional speechmaking and embrace the essential, conversational nature of presenting. When you do, you’ll get business done more easily.

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

Why Redefine Business Presentations?

July 21, 2014 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Greg Owen-Boger, The Orderly Conversation

In all of our workshops, a certain amount of unlearning has always taken place.

Over time, we realized that everything we were helping presenters unlearn came from the world of speechmaking. Although presenters knew they were not delivering formal speeches, the assumptions they made and the strategies they used didn’t reflect that. They were simply working with the wrong tools, like using the handle of a screwdriver to pound a nail into the wall. If you worked at it long enough, you might be able to do it, but why bother when there’s a hammer in the toolbox?

We should stop calling these things presentations. We should call the conversations. That's really what they are.At some point, probably during a debrief after a workshop, one of us said, “Do you think we should just stop calling these things presentations altogether? Everyone gets hung up on that word. Wouldn’t it be easier to just call them conversations? That’s really what they are.”

So that’s what we did. We redefined business presentations as Orderly Conversations.

We brought the idea that business presentations were a type of conversation, not a type of speech, into our workshops. Soon, we realized we were heading toward a major overhaul. From preparation and delivery, through managing interaction, to how you judge your success when the presentation is over—all of these things are affected when you begin with the assumption that what you’re dealing with is a conversation.

To succeed, business presenters need to make these adjustments.

Instead of…

 

You should:

rehearsing for perfection  prepare to be flexible
following the rules of delivery  engage in a genuine conversation
following a one-size-fits-all approach  adapt to your Default Approach
keeping visuals in the background  bring them into the conversation
controlling group interactions  create the conditions for a fruitful discussion

The Orderly Conversation explores how each of these adjustments are made.

The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined is available now on this website and at Amazon and Itasca Books.