10 Presentation Crimes That Your Audience Will Not Forgive – and What YOU can do to stay F-R-R-E-E-E by Matthew Hill

Be Arresting. Don’t Get Arrested!

Having just sat through 20+ presentations and talked to fellow audience members at a Congress in Dublin the other week, I thought I would turn the sometimes tortuous challenge of staying calm sitting in the audience into a What Not To Do List and provide better ways of catering for your audience’s basic Human Rights.

Presentation Skills Course Matthew Hill

Sorry, Urh, hang on a minute…

BTW – More than 65% of the presenters were good and about 10% were excellent – However (always a warning word) however, some seemed to be living in the ‘90’s before TED and all those great YouTube videos that clearly spell out how to get audience engagement and knowledge transfer RIGHT.

10 Crimes – The Charge Sheet

1, The Presenter Panicked and Ran – Whether thrown off balance by technical issues, a late start of not having rehearsed against the clock, many presenters, including Key Note Speakers managed to get into a sweaty nervous panic during their talks. When you speed up at the end of your slot, your audience know something is amiss. When you admit that time has got away from you and then do not adjust, the audience become anxious on your behalf and when you say, “I will stop now!” 4 times without finishing, the audience will condemn you to presenter hell in your presence. The cost to you of presenter panic is having an audience close their minds with a slamming sound as the barriers drop preventing any transfer value. What a pity. What a waste. What a misspending of all that preparation time.

ANSWER

If you rehearse against the clock you can measure your content against the allocated time and therefore regain control. Additionally you may have a section that you can jettison if you experience a time scare. Not right at the end but 50 or 60% of the way through. Also keep your piece simple enough for the time allocated. A 90 minute monologue simply doesn’t work in 2017 and 20 minutes is not enough time to outline splitting the atom or finding a cure for world hunger.

When you feel scarcity – SLOW DOWN – This will give you time to think, look cool in front of your audience and present the appearance of being in control. We will repeat this later – Your Audience wants you to SUCCEED.

2, Voice Crime. There is nothing worse for the speaker or the audience than someone sat at the back shouting, “We can’t here you”, ”Please speak up” or, “We can’t hear you at the back.” Beside thinking that they should have got here earlier and found a better seat, this will distract you from your delivery, dilute your message and divide the audience into those who join in the bullying and those that start to pity you. Both groups are not doing you any favours. Add to the crime sheet the monotone presenter, the mutterer or the huddled script reader and you have a case ready for prosecution.

ANSWER

Singing lessons – Yes, I am serious. If you wish to project your voice, if you wish to raise your volume, if you wish never to loose your voice again during a presentation, join a choir or take individual singing lessons. It will do wonders for your voice quality, your confidence and your connection with the audience.

3, Technical Failure To Appear – In Dublin we were treated to the latest and the best equipment but – the presenters with older computers did not have an HDMI slot, the corporate trainers had not all worked with touch screens before and the new Prezi users did not all have enough practice with the application (presumably because they had spent all of their allocated tech time figuring out how to MAKE their first Prezi presentation and had not left enough to practice their show in realistic conditions.) The results were PREDICTABLE. Embarrassing faffing, asking the tech crew for help, delaying the start of the show and demonstrating the presenter’s flaws to the audience before they had managed to accumulate enough credit to afford to appear vulnerable.

ANSWER

Keep your technical level of presentation one level below your technical level of competence. Have a Plan B and back up your data. And don’t expect your venue to have usable WiFi, don’t expect to run YouTube clips live – record them and load them as MP4’s. That way they will run on just about anything. It is the most inexperienced presenters that tend to be the most technically ambitious. Those that have given a few webinars know to expect the unexpected and are able to manage the disruption in technical service with a cool head, an even voice and a smooth transition to the next section of the show.

presentation skills coach matthew hill

Too many words… take him away.

  1. Murder by Slides. The Geneva Convention states that PowerPoint slides must not have more than 20 words on them. Despite this, we saw endlessly wordy, small font decks with no visuals, no colour and no useful transfer potential to them. The audience could either ignore the slides or ignore the presenter and start reading the slides for themselves. A lose-lose.

ANSWER

Separate out the desire to present and the need to transfer data and make some tough decisions before you get to the venue – What will you project with your voice and what data will you MAKE AVAILABLE AFTERWARDS in the form of a hand-out / appendix or further reference materials? Understand that slides can be pretty placeholders, a mechanism to reinforce your message with visual people and a good place for graphics, a pie charge or a simple model. However…nobody wants to multi-task during the show so STOP torturing them and plan your information flow more considerately.

 

  1. Methodology Overdose – Closely related to the point above, in a non- academic context there is ZERO need to reveal the statistical significance of your raw research. The audience have one question for you; WIIFT? What is in it for THEM? How can they apply your experience for their benefit? END of.

ANSWER

As above – offer an appendix, a data hand out or a lab session demonstrating your methods, approach, analysis and technical findings. AND – in your short presentation tell them the interesting bits. How it worked, what the conclusions are and how it can be applied for gain.

 

  1. The Presenter Got High – Audience Altitude – Finding their Level. There are two crimes here – going too high or staying too low. Both ways will crash your presentation vehicle. If you pitch it too low for too long you will build up an irritation in your audience that will come out in people leaving your talk with a noisy banging of doors or firing sarcastic questions at you that interrupt you and undermine your credibility.

It you pitch it too high the crowd will turn into a Zombie Apocalypse before your very eyes. Take this as natural feedback telling you that you failed to do your homework, identify your audience segment and that you omitted to refine your message enough to hit the target.

ANSWER

Do your homework, speak to some people, interview the organisers and don’t take general answers for the truth. Your job is to engage, inform and entertain. Your job is to tell a story. Your job is to move people intellectually and emotionally. Your job is to prevent suicidal thoughts rippling through the front row.

 

  1. If It Pleases Your Honour – Time Management – We have dealt with the panic of starting late, not checking the length of your presentation and of lying about when it will end. This aspect is more about the cultural differences in the perception of the flow of time and gaining explicit permission to tell your story. At the beginning of your talk you have 30 seconds to win the hearts and minds of your audience! If you fail, then the rest of your talk can only do damage – to the hopes and dreams of your audience and to your REPUTATION. When you win their support quickly, you will be given 5 minutes grace … to win their enthusiasm for the next 15 minutes! Do you see how it works?

ANSWER

Hit them hard at the beginning – fire a big gun – a moral question, a challenging fact or a brutal prediction – engage your audience and ask, “Do you want to hear more?” They will then award you explicit permission to continue. Really. This psychological contract will become stronger the more they engage with you – the great presenter.

 

  1. Straying From The Straight And Narrow – There are two ways to leave the path here – audience drift and speaker drift. The former consists of being caught out or taking a side bar because of an audience intervention – through being nice and respecting the audience or the influence of a strong personality sat in the second row, you drift off and ANNOY everyone else. Pleasing a strong personality is not a winning strategy for the whole audience. OR you get on to your pet subject, leave your own path and start busking (the phrase for making it up as you go along) much to the irritation of the linear focussed listeners in front of you. When you start entertaining yourself you automatically disrespect the sensibilities of your audience.

ANSWER

Learn to assert yourself and police your audience – Putting a hand up and saying, “Let’s get back on track” is normally enough. If you are likely to wander away from your presentation pathway, build in milestones to remind yourself of the key points that you must make. If you find yourself drifting too wide of those marks, apologise and return to the point.

 

presentation crimes matthew hill

Out of Date Material – Arrest that presenter!

  1. Criminal Exhibit A – Old Material – The older your material, the greater the chance that the audience will have encountered it before or, and worse still, they will have encountered you before, saying the same thing. There is a famous Dutch father of culture who basically has one keynote speech. What ever you engage him to speak about, out he will come with his one keynote speech – And it is difficult to get a refund sometimes.

ANSWER

Read, listen and watch. Be present to developments. Watch out for shifts in the direction of your specialist subject and keep your presentation approach fresh, present and alive. It is not a crime to renew your perspective, challenge YOUR OWN beliefs and treat your audience to something EXCITING and challenging.

 

  1. Old Lag – You Are Not Enjoying It. The voice in your head starts to unsettle you, “Are they really listening to you?”, “ Do they believe a word you are saying?”, “Do they think you look pretty / handsome?” We can develop all sorts of complexes or simply become bored with our own style or topic when we have been presenting too long and need an upgrade – even the best can suffer from imposter syndrome, delusions of paranoia or become completely immune to the charm of their own material and certainly doubt its power to impress.

And. If you are not enjoying the show as a presenter, you can GUARANTEE that the audience are suffering too. Is it time to hand yourself in to the authorities?

ANSWER

At the beginning of any performance it is a safe bet to assume that the audience want you to DO WELL. They are actively looking for signs that you are relaxed, comfortable and up for this. They want to you to win. At the beginning you can assume that most of them LOVE you. All you have to do is not let them down (too badly.)

It is time to work on your material, work out who your ideal and appreciative audience will be and to work on your delivery, presence and voice so that YOU enjoy the show and THEY benefit from listening to you? Is this the time to seek professional help – a presentation advocate to defend your actions and get you off the charge of being a criminal presenter so that you can walk into your next speech a Free Person?

presenting

I sentence you…

The Judge’s Summation

With a little planning, anticipation and rehearsal you can avoid cabbages and rotten eggs flying through the air, the tarnishing of your reputation as a speaker or hearing negative mumblings as you leave the building.

Remember presenting represents the single most powerful opportunity to engage with and impress people that you have never met before. Please respect the audience’s patience, attention span, their need for structure, their appreciation of a good story AND their desire for a confident performance from you – THE SPEAKER (defendant.)

I wish you well with you next presentation…

I sentence you to 10 hours Community Presentation Practice – You are free to go…

 

About the Author – Matthew Hill is a Presentation Skills Coach (amongst other things) He works with ambitious professionals who need to impress and desire to be better. Contact Matthew on; 07540 65 9996.

 

5 Ways To Get A Speaking Engagement And, 1 Way NOT To.

5 Methods for More Gigs and More Work One of the best converters of your sweat into paid work is by giving speeches to a warm, cosy and qualified room of decision making, budget holding corporate executives fascinated by your … Continue reading

Matthew’s New Year Webinar – Getting Growth in 2017

What will you achieve in 2017?

We have 3 Questions for you – What are the Biggest barriers STOPPING you growing your trainer / coaching business this year? Where does it continue to go wrong? AND How can you get it right?

Group Of Young Business PeopleWill you grow in 2017?

These barriers block critical activity, necessary organisation and positive dynamism (we fall into the trap of doing stuff that PREVENTS rather than produces growth.)

  1. ACTIVITY– What did you do in 2016? Send your profile / CV out to known training providers, put up a basic (non optimized) LinkedIn profile and attended local chamber events with other service providers where you failed to engage with business decision makers? And what results did you get? – A new sub contract relationship that provided 7 training days? A two day training or 3 new coaching customers? AND – Was that enough growth for you?

With your energy invested in more proactive and interactive methods you will generate interest, passion and action – the phone will ring, live opportunities will land in your inbox and your business will grow – You will experience meaningful cash-flow, more hour’s and day’s work, a boost in your charge out rates and the choice to take or decline work, along with the self-confidence and business freedom that comes with knowing how to market and sell yourself effectively and comfortably.

  1. ORGANISATION – How was 2016? You added 74 connections on LinkedIn, collected 47 business cards and put them in your desk draw and found the physical address of 9 companies. – Did this provide the momentum you needed for your dynamic business growth in 2017?

When you know what to do and execute clever marketing and social media moves, you will gain presence, currency and relevance with actual decision makers (and- they will LIKE and RESPECT you). They will ask your advice, do as you advise and pay what you ask because they value your input and take you seriously as a coaching / training professional. AND it will have been your marketing activity that has made the difference and lead them to a positive conclusion about you and your services.

  1. DYNAMISM – How was 2016? Sitting by the phone waiting for incoming calls, checking every e mail ping and generally living on Hopium (the expensive drug that favours hope over action.)

How will 2017 be different? Will you hone your identity statement to perfection? Will you be super CLEAR about what you offer? Will you build your BRAND promise to a level where you are taken seriously? Will you know your Marketing AVATAR? Will you learn to write SUPER-COPY? Will you SEQUENCE your marketing communication to be maximally effective? Will you be ready to launch your informational attention grabbers on Social Media? Will you build a quality DATABASE with high value business contacts? Will you be networking like a HUSTLING pro? Will you master NEW SALES? Will you create a CORE MODEL that describes your offering? Will you generate enough REFERRALS to make a significant difference to your income and business growth?

AND

Will you look back on 2017 and say, “I learnt, laughed and lead my company to profitable GROWTH. What a great year?”

Join us for this 45 minute energy boosting webinar (with 10 – 15 minutes Q&A and get your business growing in 2017)

To Register click on; https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7327277808881017091

The webinar is on Tuesday, 7th February 2017 at 7PM Paris time, 6PM London time.

Thanks and see you there

Group of diverse designers in their modern officeWe are growing!

 

Living with the Culture Shock of Brexit – Then and Now – A personal piece written by Nadège Welsch

Then and Now…

London Skyline at Dusk with City Hall and Modern Buildings, Rive

Part 1 – THEN – 27th June 2016

“This weekend, with news of the results of Brexit spreading across the world, has been a very challenging time for a lot of People, and I would like to share not only what I went through but what some of my fellow European and pro-Remain British friends may have gone through too.

I am an Intercultural Consultant. I help expatriate and global managers adapt to their new environment. In facilitating their adaptation I always refer to the Culture Shock curve and its five stages: Excitement, Denial & Depression, Culture Shock, Acceptance and Acculturation. The last time I experienced the Culture Shock curve for myself was moving to Singapore 10 years ago!

Over the course of this weekend I moved through the first two phases and am now heading, at some speed, towards culture shock.

The excitement phase was before the Referendum results, I think most of us were positive that the UK would vote remain and thus demonstrate that we are a strong Europe and that Europeans fit naturally along side British folk. When the results came in on Friday morning, as I woke up at 5:30am, I couldn´t believe that Brexit had happened. I was in complete denial, I just couldn´t wrap my head around it although I had an aprehensive feeling that it might happen, but again, my excitement was stronger. I found myself accepting the decision of the British public, as I live in their Country, and I need to accept their wishes but, trust me, I still felt out-of-place especially going heading out for dinner that evening. The atmosphere felt colder than usual, but I put this down to my own projections.

Tears in the morning

The rest of the weekend was set aside for the depression phase – waking up in tears not knowing what the future will bring, especially working as a freelance Consultant and delivering Trainings to, mostly, European expats – teaching them how to integrate into the UK, so that was a big shock ! What will I do? I thought I would spend the rest of my life here, I have friends which are now part of my Family, I have a home that I bought, I have a car, what will that mean? What does the future hold?

I also had a few talks over the weekend with a few Young British People and asked them what they thought of Brexit and a lot were shocked and angry. They said they were “Europeans” and not British citizens, what will happen for their future and their kid´s future? They won´t have the opportunity to have work experience abroad, travel, learn languages and go abroad to train themselves, so, overall, a big shock all round.

When I spoke to European friends and colleagues most felt betrayed, stabbed in the back, not welcomed and also fearful for their future.

We now know that nothing major will happen over the next two years and that, as Europeans, we will be able to stay. What will be the conditions after though? I think the acceptance phase after the shock sounds like, “One way or another if there are no Jobs, I/we will have to move back to Europe”. I think this is what our culture shock is about, leaving a beautiful country, our friends, our lives.

For now, however, we need to wait and see and try to get out of the shock phase to get on and live our lives.

Part 2- NOW

6 Months post Brexit:

Panorama of a big summer field

Six months have passed since the Brexit Referendum vote. What has happened up to now? How do I feel? And, how do we as Europeans feel in the UK?

Since the announcement of the referendum and even after Brexit was voted into reality, many of us, in the intercultural world and in broader Training and Development have noticed a significant slowdown in business. A colleague of mine mentioned that some of his programs had been canceled, another said that some clients were backing out of training committements and that they wanted to wait for the New Year. Why is that so?

Unfortunately there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, Brexit was one major event and shock in 2016. This was closely followed by the election of Mr Donald Trump, and now we can hear, throughout Europe, the loud voice of right wing movements, Austria was close and France will be the next test. What will happen there? At the pace we are going, everything is possible!

What will this mean for the world…for Europe?

What we can see is that there is mistrust of politics in general and a fear of the unknown and its consequences for peace, employment and our way of life. All of those participating in racist actions, protest votes and the results they are generating are people that want CHANGE . They are asking – who else can give them change? Noone but those who run against the existing political system.

We need to bring back trust and respect for one another. It is through cultural consciousness that we may avoid further conflict and make sure that our children grow up in a peaceful world, where citizens are respected, have a job and can practice their religion without challenge.

So, where am I then, after these last 6 months? I think I am still in the shock phase. And there is hope. I am edging toward the acceptance phase. we need to wait and see, and to see past what the press is telling us, go past what politicians are trying to sell us (from their own position of confusion, choas and fear) and make sure that our objective is for harmony and making sure that we engineer the conditions that allow for all of us to live together in peace.

welschAuthor Profile – Nadège Welsch

Nadège is Franco-German starting her career with a major German Telco based in Munich where she worked with Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa.

She expatriated to Singapore for a year and half before immigrated to the UK to pursue her passion for culture. With an MSC in Business Psychology she created Be-a-Chameleon seven years ago, training individuals as well as groups in cultural awareness, working effectively across cultures and working effectively in multicultural teams.

Nadège speaks English, French, German and Spanish and is a passionate advocate for cultural consciousness.

sky and hands

What is a citizen and how do I become one? by Daphne Laing

We are all global citizens now, but what does this actually mean?

If we accept that an individual can have multiple non-opposing identities, it would logically follow that it is possible to have multiple citizenships, as indeed many of us do…yet this multiplicity seems only to mean that we can use different passports to facilitate travel from one political system to another….and has nothing to do with sharing values, rules etc. Having looked at the questions for the UK citizenship test and scored a big fat zero on history, just scraping through, I am having an(other) identity crisis…… a UK passport holder born, brought up, educated and tax paying in UK for most of my working life, having taught English, acculturation and intercultural communication for 35 years, I am somewhat surprised at the criteria for citizenship of “my” country.

multiple non-opposing identities

Memories of Communication

Multiple non-opposing identities

For the first time I ask myself “Do I want to be a citizen?” Though I feel a strong connection with my home culture and I understand that on a deep level I probably make assumptions and bear prejudices that would link me to membership of a group of “people like me”, I have long preferred to introduce myself to “others” as a European- thus avoiding the Westerner (i.e USA) or the British (i.e. football hooligan) labels. I am proud of the values which underlie the formation of and continuance of EU, and believe passionately that the institution, for all its faults, has gone a long way to building bridges, to signalling a third way of “doing things”; an alternative to purely money or military oriented politics…. And a clearly stated definition of citizenship.

Yes, I like that…….

To note the ease with which I can explain my choice of association and acknowledge the possibility of duality here may go a long way to explaining my utter bafflement at recent events; but does this also indicate that EU citizenship as a concept is doomed to be more divisive than inclusive? A Them or Us sense of belonging which by its very nature hints at republicanism?

This brings me to a third model: global citizenship, whose qualities seem to be espoused by international NGOs like Oxfam and which is defined as a quality a person demonstrates whose identity is linked more with a common humanity than with any political or other allegiance- but if citizenship means to be held to account by a system; history; shared values, how can any of us possibly call ourselves global citizens except as representing an academic intellectual stance?….

Recent developments have forced me to reflect on what it means to belong….to an organisation at odds with my personal values; to a country hurtling towards xenophobia and isolationalism……

Am I the only one to feel like le Petit Prince?

“To establish ties?”

“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
― Antoine de Saint-ExupéryThe Little Prince

About the Author – Daphne Laing is a renowned education professional in the field of culture, language and citizenship.

daphne-laing

Independent Trainer Mini Series – Trust based Marketing – Blog Post 5 by Matthew Hill

A little Marketing magic goes a long way

The word marketing can make us dizzy with its many different meanings – and no one should claim to understand them all.

Notepad with word marketing concept and glasses

For the purposes of this short and pithy post, marketing refers to the information you put out there in the web-o-sphere (technical term) to influence and inform your potential customer base of your offering, your persona and the value of your work to them.

Coffee to Sex and Marriage

BTW – this is the first rule of marketing – be as provocative as you dare to grab people’s attention – if they don’t read you, you don’t exist for them.

The phrase “coffee to sex” refers to the pathway of engagement. At each stage there is an appropriate interaction for them to expect from you or for you to offer to them. Mess that up and you end up looking foolish.

Trust based communication

Linked the pathway of engagement is the trust ladder. If I am low on your trust ladder I cannot ask you for much. If we are both high on the trust ladder we can exchange value for mutual gain – this is witnessed in the exchange of ethical and sustainable business.

“Know, Like & Trust”

The social media marketing guru, Penny Power OBE, coined the phrase and wrote a book describing how a consumer of information behaves and what they need to receive in order to become a healthy, happy and profitable customer of yours.

*Know – Here we move the unsuspecting prospect from a position of not knowing you exist to knowing that you both exist and have something to say that they need to hear. You also need to grasp the audience’s attention. Your well expressed purpose in a punchy headline will normally work a treat. (See the previous post 2. on Identity.)

*Like – Now you get the chance to express your wonderful and warm personality in print, via video and in person so that the audience can fall in like with you and see your true and authentic self. Being funny, offering wise insights, providing stories that entertain and inform – all add to the emotion of liking you.

Two modern entrepreneurs partners doing thumbs up gesture for celebrating business success. Successful modern businesspeople outside. Positive elegant man and woman smiling and looking at camera.

We buy from people we like

*Trust – Trust is a real thing – ABI – Ability, Benevolence and Integrity – You top the charts when you consistently demonstrate your depth of knowledge with solutions and skills that match your promise. When you over deliver with kindness and a positive attitude you will be perceived as benevolent. And, when you keep your word, under-promise and over-deliver you will gain a tick in the integrity box as well.

The Secret of Sequencing

Putting the various marketing communications together whilst sticking to the pathway of engagement and incrementally building awareness and trust is the magic formula that will result in an enriching flow of incoming new business enquiries.

Next

For more ideas on how establish and grow your Independent Trainer Business we invite you to join us for the Independent Trainer Consultative Selling Webinar 3 – GOING FOR GROWTH, on 5th October 2016, 6PM London time, 7PM Paris time. Register now at;

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8107589113940386817 

Benidorm - mirador del mediterraneo

Don’t forget to check out the Lisbon Bootcamp details at the top of the page.

 

 

How Europeans could relate to Life in 2016: Beauty can be the key to belonging. An inspiring post by Carmen Barnhoorn

Words of hope

There are no easy answers to great problems, even though some of us are willing to give them. And easy answers don’t help either to internally stay on track, although it might feel that way. The world is not a simple place, but like the human being, infinitely complicated. We all have come to know that now, I suppose.

Disconnected

“Is this still my world?”, you might ask yourself, looking back on the recent attacks in Europe: Paris, Brussels, Nice, Munich — unfortunately this is not the end of the list.

breaking wall

Is this still my world?

It is sad but true that the ugly face of modern violence seems to unite all of our magnificent European cultures at the moment through our grief, anxiety and pain. And at the same time the deep beauty of each and every culture might offer us the possibility of an escape out of our feeling “unheimisch”, estranged or disconnectedness.

The Italian psychologist and philosopher Pierro Ferrucci describes in his book Beauty and the Soul (2009) what happens when we feel empty, discouraged and worst of all, out of place. We are closed in in our own inner world, feeling disconnected;, we are ‘under house arrest’. This happens often when other people are not behaving like we think they should, when we feel a lot of pain, or when we are tired. When we aren’t relating to the other persons’ way of thinking any more.

Experiencing Beauty

It is vitally important to release ourselves in moments like this from our own house arrest and to open up again. Ferrucci underlines the relative ease of experiencing beauty as a way to elevate ourselves in this way. “Experiencing beauty is a victory over discouragement”, as he puts it.

Beeren Früchte Erdbeeren Himbeeren Blaubeeren Blätter von oben

Experiencing beauty is a victory over discouragement

In our disorientation we might tend to think that it is wise to counter evil with goodness, if we have the energy, to neutralize its damaging effects. But there are very wise people (the Russian writer Dostoevsky for example) who say something else: Beauty counters evil.

Experiencing beauty is also in my opinion the most personal and easy way to be elevated from heaviness, from injustice, and to create mental space. It also leads us to celebrate life and still be good to other people.

European reservoir

What a comfort that we have so much of this precious stuff in Europe. What a reservoir full of medicine for our discouragement!

So I sincerely hope that these days you are able to experience the beauty of the green grass under your feet in the United Kingdom, the beauty of the magnificent buildings in Paris or the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea in Nice.

I do hope that you are moved by the beauty of the attentive face of a good friend in Munich, that you see the beautiful colours of the good food in Italy and enjoy the beautiful ironic atmosphere of Brussels.

And that you do think in these moments what I think when I see the huge Vermeer-like clouds in The Netherlands:

“Yes, I do belong! This is still my world.”

carmenbarnhoorn[1]Author Profile – Carmen Barnhoorn MSc is an ICF international qualified coach, psychologist and facilitator, based in both Leiden, The Netherlands and in Rome, Italy. She works with individuals and groups to enable significant growth in her participant’s ability to relate to others and to themselves. She is passionate about her topic and how it connects to current social developments.

Please contact Carmen via www.carmenbarnhoorn.com: & LinkedIn: Carmen Barnhoorn

Sources for the post;

Ferrucci, P (2009) Beauty and the Soul: The extraordinary power of everyday beauty to heal your life. New York, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.

Campbell, J. The Hero’s Journey (2003) , Joseph Campbell on His Life and Work, Novato, New World Library.

Dostoevsky, The Idiot, (2013), Amsterdam, Van Oorschot.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Being a Mature Student by Maria Creisson

An optimistic Piece 

There are many reasons people decide to return to education at a later time in life. Often none of these reasons seem sound to other people and they are seldom fully understood. Why would a person opt to become financially poor, or leave a perfectly good job and why don’t older people just leave education to the young who are believed will have much more of a future after education.

Mature Student Maria Criesson

Entrepreneur and Mature Student – Maria Creisson

For me, though I can’t claim financial wealth, I had a fairly good job by some people’s standards. But for the longest time I held the feeling that I was not living up to my potential. I remember experiencing the need to express my abilities but thinking I was boxed in and limited because I did not have the appropriate academic background. I knew I could do more!

“Improvement is impossible without change”. Jon Maxwell.

I have just completed my undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management BA Hons. (I found out today as I am writing this piece – I have achieved a 1st Class Honours degree.!) I couldn’t be happier and as I write I am scrambling to remember the fears the doubts, the character, the personality of the woman I was at the start of my degree. I am a different woman today. I don’t know how best to articulate the benefits of being a mature student because I have felt them to be more profound than words can describe.

I guess the first was that for me I was old enough to claim to have some life experience. This was so useful in being able to relate to some of the academic content and put it in perspective. This experience was something I could also use to help my younger student colleagues who had only ever been in the education system and were curious about life in the ‘real world’. This helped us “mature students” develop stronger bonds with younger people rather than work separately in our own silo. Being amongst them all I also found kindred spirits and developed lifelong friends. Finally after some years I can say I have started to discover my life’s calling and that as a mature student it was enough to understand the true implications and applications of the knowledge I was gaining to better myself and fulfil my potential.

“Commit yourself to lifelong learning. The most valuable asset you will ever have is your mind and what you put into it”. Brian Tracy

I went to university and discovered myself and what I’m capable of. Whilst we all know that life itself can be an education, University is but one place you can exist as a mature student. In these modern times we now know that education in its many forms is a lifelong journey. At university or within your career, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, at whatever stage in your life as long as you are open and keep learning you will experience the benefits of your efforts in work and in living with yourself.

 

About the Author Maria Creisson – “Maria is a recent graduate of Human Resources Management and has a passion for developing people.  Her interests include training, coaching, writing and speaking”.

The French Paradox, Part I: “Oui…mais…”, By Anke Middelmann

“Oui…mais…”, or,”Finding the Perfect Solution”

In the early years of my teaching and training career in France, I was often confronted with comments from such as: “All the French do is talk—but there’s no action” (Anglo-Saxon, North European, Indian, Chinese); “they’ve agreed to something and then change their mind at the last minute” (German managers), “they overcomplicate everything” (British), and more general remarks that “they contradict everything”, “always disagree and complain”, “are disorganized” and “cannot be relied upon”.

Man drawing a picture of Paris

Determined to find satisfactory answers, I had to look no further than the French Enlightenment philosopher René Descartes (1596-1650). And was delighted that all the above could, in some way, be linked to his theories, specifically his anti-thèse. Eureka!

Just how does it work? One of René (“I think, therefore I am”) Descartes’ main premise is that thinking should be driven by logic and rationality. His argued that “doubt is the origin of wisdom”, and that, in seeking the Truth, “it is necessary… to doubt, as far as possible, all things”. Moreover, to find this Truth (i.e., the perfect solution), “it is important to have a Method“—known as the thèse – antithèse – synthèse.

Still today, this Cartesian “method” is applied in all situations. The starting point (thèse) is straightforward—it’s the problématique, or proposition, situation, problem, or project to be dealt with. It’s the second stage, the anti-thèse, the process of figuring out the solution, that is tricky and that confounds non-French counterparts. While the British generally come up with an objective, devise a way forward, and change course if necessary, and the Germans develop, and follow, a structured approach, the French do something entirely different.

This is where Descartes’ “doubt”, or “scepticism”, comes in. Since the anti-thèse requires that everything be questioned, the French consider all aspects of an issue by “dividing each difficulty into as many parts as is feasible and necessary to resolve it” (Descartes). It means dissecting, questioning, and possibly rejecting, all angles, knowledge and facts; it is important to decide not necessarily how or whether something will work, but rather why it might not, and if an existing or initial approach is indeed best. It leads to: “Yes, this might work, but…”; “What happens if we do/don’t do it this way?”; “How about this instead of that—or something else entirely?” In working through the anti-thèse, one may retain some initial elements, but discard others, inject new facts, develop new possible approaches, and subsequently review everything (thereby repeating the whole process!) to ultimately agree (often at the last minute) on the solution—the synthèse!

To onlookers, this contradictory back-and-forth thinking process, changing minds and plans, especially at the last minute, the lack of action until a solution is considered finite, the seemingly critical oui…mais, is time-wasting, exhausting and unnecessary intellectual acrobatics. However, to the French, not leaving any stone unturned implies doing a sloppy job. As one Frenchman observed: “We cannot work otherwise, even if, in the end, we go back to our first idea.” Although complex, complicated, contradictory and seemingly disorganised, the “Cartesian Method” can be highly creative and has made France a technologically and scientifically innovative power house: the high-speed TGV train, the Ariane space rocket, Minitel (a Videotex online system that predated the internet by several decades), the Eiffel Tower, the morning-after pill, to name just a few, are all innovations achieved through the Cartesian approach.

How to practically deal with the anti-thèse on a daily basis? Understanding goes a long way: international students and managers say that just knowing that everything will take longer, involve discussion and difference of opinion, makes things less frustrating; a German manager said he now sits back, patiently observing the commotion of the anti-thèse, and reorganising his time accordingly. Non-French university teachers adjust class content to give students more time to discuss their ideas. Others are delighted that their French counterparts’ frequent oui…mais is nothing personal. And yet others see the process as a worthwhile exercise to hone their own observational and thinking skills, and to develop new ways of seeing the same issue.

I’m not saying it’s easy to adapt; just like the process itself, it takes time, patience, and mental agility. Personally, I’ve learned to listen for the oui—without the mais—to know we’re ready to go.

Anke Middelmann was born and raised in Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium. She spent most of her working life in Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the United States, before moving to France in 2004.

anke middlemann Anke Middelmann – intercultural trainer and coach

She is Lecturer in Multicultural Management at Skema Business School, and Director of two of Skema’s International MSc Programmes.

As an intercultural trainer and coach, she provides training and coaching on a range of multicultural and intercultural issues. She regularly provides training on “Living and Working in France” and the complexities of Franco-German working for Air Liquide, Eurosport, AXA, Valéo, Bayer, Areva, Thales, Adeo Services, Dassault, among others.