Master Presenter Strategies

7strategiesI am involved with public speaking and/ or board meeting presentations often. This is a craft in which I feel I’ll always be learning. In preparation for an upcoming event, this month I re-opened my book of “Seven Strategies of Master Presenters” by McRea and Brooks. The seven strategies are:
Strategy 1: Know Thy Audience
Strategy 2: Prepare Outstanding Content
Strategy 3: Use Superior Organization
Strategy 4: Develop Dynamic Delivery
Strategy 5: Make It Memorable, Actionable and Transferable
Strategy 6: Manage Yourself, Difficult Readers and Difficult    Situations
Strategy 7: Total Quality Improvement

Here’s a golden nugget strategy for any presentation:
1. Make a point
2. Tell a story
3. Repeat

People love a great story. Learning how to tell a great story is key. I like seeing people smile, so for myself I look towards a story that has humor. Getting a chuckle out of an audience increases their ability to learn and absorb more by elevating their senses. My goal is to get my message across.

Here’s an a quick snapper from the book, all though a bit dated, this one made me smile and laugh:

Not long ago I was flying to Las Angeles, where I was scheduled to speak at a conference. I was at Kennedy Airport in New York, standing in line to check my bags, and the guy in front of me was giving the baggage checker a difficult time.

He was being terribly, obnoxiously abusive. I didn’t say anything – the man was not only upset, he was big. After he moved away from the curb, I expressed my sympathy to the checker for the verbal bullying she had taken.

“Do people talk that way to you often?” I asked her.
“Oh, yeah. You get used to it…”
“Well, I don’t think I’d get used to it.”
“Don’t worry…After all, the customer’s always right.”
“Well, I don’t think he was right in this case,” I said.
“Don’t worry.” The checker repeated. “I’ve already gotten even.”
“What do you mean”…
“He’s on his way to Chicago…but his bags are going to Japan.”

Have Courage: The Importance of Taking Risks in Leadership

courageOne of the perks of being in a different country is the great variety of new resources. On the flight from England to Northern Ireland I picked up the magazine in the seat pocket and read a great article by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. Both authors have written dozens of award-winning leadership titles. Their article was on entrepreneurs and the importance of having courage in the role they play as leaders.

The following resonated with me, “The ability to face adversity without being overcome by fear is courage. Like grit, it involves the capacity to persist under extremely challenging circumstances but includes the additional element of fear. Not everything that requires grit requires courage, but everything that requires courage also requires grit.”

Owning and growing a business requires true courage with a healthy dose of grit. Not all ventures will be successful. It takes courage to make the tough decisions whether to stay in or get out, speak up or stay silent, say yes or say no. Your choice is not right or wrong but what is important is that you pursue the noble cause or aspiration that comes from within. Next time you are feeling the pressure of your business, approach it with a capital “C” Courage and remember that with no risk (fear), no gain.

Know Your Client to Deliver Your Best

This month I delivered two training sessions regarding the same subject matter. Both were boutique sessions between 6 to 10 participants.

selkirk-saintsThe first group was a more junior, inexperienced group of professional peers. The second group was all folks with 25+ years experience, in fact one of the attendee’s and I used to play on the same Selkirk College soccer squad together in 1988 (check out that handsome #10 fella – he he he).

Although the subject matter was the same, I knew my audience was vastly different, consequently preparation for both events was vastly different. In some respect, it required more of me to train junior folks because the field of questions was much broader.

When working with your clients, it is critical to “know” them as best you can. Because if you are not, I assure you someone else is

Kicking the Dirt with Peers to Raise the Bar

This past month I volunteered to organize and tour a group of professional peers as part of a learning opportunity for the broader community. We looked at dry-belt Douglas-fir management within the Kamloops Timber Supply Area. This involved coordinating a field trip into the woods to look at specific management practices that we are employing, much of which I am involved with as part of a management role on behalf of the Logan Lake Community Forest. The event was well attended with over 25 participants representing more than a 10 different organizations.

Kamloops TSADuring one of the stops I put on my “Coaching Hat” for a quick opportunity to do a bit of team building. I took the group through a small process that my daughter Lindsay had shared with me from her soccer academy in school.  I could tell by some of the awkward looks and comments afterwards that I had stretched the “comfort zone” of a few of the participants.  From my perspective this is exactly what I was looking for. As a group we entering a phase of professional forest management that demands more from us both individually and collectively. The exercise gave me great insight towards peoples behaviours and I look forward to working very closely with them all as we move ahead.

Sometimes we have to deliver a message in order to get the message. I now understand where I can focus my attention and the whole day was incredibly valuable on so many levels. What have been some of your learnings from a time when you volunteered?

Why are Manhole Covers Round?

Last fall I read the book on how Amazon grew into the giant that it is today. Part of the story focussed on how Amazon hired new employee’s, with the mantra of “only hiring the absolute best and smartest out there”. This included unorthodox interview questions such as “Why are manhole covers round?”
The character trait that Jeff Bezo’s was looking for was fast thinkers and problem solvers. He was drilling down to how the candidates thought process worked, specifically their deductive reasoning and lateral thinking skills. Growing your business takes systems but ultimately it takes great people to develop and work within systems to be successful. Focus on the people that you surround yourself with to make a real difference in your business.

Other typical questions they use:
How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?
How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
Explain a database in three sentences to your 8-year-old nephew.

By asking brain teaser questions, Amazon got a first-hand look at what type of person they were recruiting and allowing into their business.  The next time you recruit into a new position what questions will you ask?

Cross-cultural Awareness in Business

“So are you religious?” asked Lenny, a Blackfoot First Nation elder who had leaned over and looked me in the eye.  Lenny and I were chatting about the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after my presentation to the group of 13 Plains Tribes.

na-1407-1crowfootThe cross-cultural session had spent much time sharing historical stories of the local Indigenous culture and that of “Settlers” (folks like me). Clearly spirituality and religion played a huge role in both of our cultural ancestral trees.  We were looking for the common ground between Western Science and First Nation cultural perspective over land use.

I have been involved with First Nations through my entire career. I do my very best to keep an open mind and open heart to other perspectives. Here I learned more about the powerful use of oral tradition in passing on life and spiritual lessons through the 600+ songs in the “Beaver Bundle” of the Blackfoot.

When I flew home, I listened to Stephen Hawkin’s Universe in a Nutshell on the airplane. How do I juxtapose these two vastly different perspectives on things like the night sky? What science has “proven” and what First Nation’s “believe” and where neither can explain the other.

I don’t have the answer to my own questions. Probably won’t either. And I’m okay with that. At the end of the day, I feel that I am making a difference and am part of the solution moving forward. Regardless of religious, spiritual or scientific ideology. The most important choice I make is how I respond today to the challenges that were created from the past.