Presentation Disasters and 5 tips to help YOU not make them by Matthew Hill

 

Plug into the audience and let the electricity flow

The gap between a person’s brain, intellect and expertise and their ability to communicate even a small part of this wisdom to an audience can be wider than the Grand Canyon. I remember meeting one of the deepest thinkers on educating people that the UK has ever produced. He was also one of the worst public speakers an audience has ever had to endure. This irony continues to buzz around my mind.

Below are 5 ideas that you can apply to make sure no one says about YOU, “They seem to really know their stuff. It’s a pity their attempt to convey it to the audience is a total failure!”

Smiling newscaster during broadcasting. And here is the news…

  1. It’s not about you – whilst you are the star, standing under the light, mic in hand and dressed to kill, the point of the presentation is to align your information and message to the desired outcomes of the majority of your audience.

Useful questions before you present might be, “What is their level of knowledge?” “What do they expect today?” “What do they want from this session?” And, finally, “What do they really need?”

Before you write a word of your presentation, ask these questions and be mindful of the answers. Also implied in their response is bonus information – What they absolutely DON’T want you to speak about.

Verschiedene Portraits einer blonden Frau

  1. First impressions last – I once tripped over on a stage in Milan in the style of Charlie Chaplin and raised an embarrassingly large laugh from the audience. Unfortunately that was not my intention and things did not flow smoothly from that point on.

An audience will have read your profile and possibly check you out on LinkedIn. They are making an active and tough judgment of you based on your physical appearance. If you are scruffy, ill-prepared to deal with technology, hesitant and showing non-verbal signs of stress, anxiety and fear it is no wonder that the audience will disengage from your private greatness and let their minds wonder to other topics (probably sex and shopping.)

What does it take to make a fantastic first impression?

Dressing one level smarter than your audience, dry cleaning your dark suit, investing in a decent haircut, considering replacing your glasses with contact lenses, practicing Amy Cuddy’s power poses and firing your BIG GUNS first. All of these represent a good start.

Seat on fire

  1. Pleasure or pain? Related to 2. The audience will amalgamate all of the information you are consciously and unconsciously broadcasting and rank you on two exclusive scales.

Power and dominance – your tone, stern look, square shoulders, booming voice and content of doom laden scenarios and facts may give you an impressively high dominance score. Is that what you want?

Likable and trustworthy – A high score on the opposite scale is achieved by displaying charisma, charm, humour, self-deprecation, honesty, integrity and demonstrating your ethical values to the audiences.

Only you can decide which scale is more appropriate your next presentation – Is it time to practice non-verbal charm in the mirror or to rev up your sergeant major impression?

bubble of communication

  1. Words Words Words With everything you say you are either engaging more with the audience or distancing them. You may think that filling your presentation with intellectual complexity, esoteric jargon and obfuscating argot will do the job. Wrong – The simpler you are the more you will connect with the audience and the more they will buy what you are selling.

Speed trumps caution

Many presentation coaches warn that excessive speed of presentation will be perceived negatively. This is not the case (with the caveat that you need an audience speaking the same language as you.) As long as you are clear and loud enough your audience will be taken away by the speed at which you deliver your wisdom. Unlike complexity, speed is perceived as a sign of intelligence.

Fluent slick and smooth

Unsurprisingly, a smooth radio delivery will impress an audience. On occasions it will increase your ratings even when you are having an off day, your brain is addled with tiredness or your mind can only manage to operate at half power.

Listening. “Tell me more”

  1. Everyone loves a story – Every presentation coach is asked what is the best structure for delivering a presentation. It can be a best man speech, a professor’s keynote address at a conference or thanking people at your retirement do. The best way to package information is to give it a familiar dramatic structure – beginning, middle and end, a “V” structure – unleashing tragic chapters that shock your audience followed by an inspiring twist and uplifting ending, or a WW structure like a Dr. Martin Luther King speech that repeatedly takes the audience from the difficult present to a better envisioned future.

Men don’t like emotion.

Whilst there are some coal mining villages where men can only cry if they are one kilometer underground, most humans, irrespective of gender, enjoy having their feelings taken for a spin. It is diverting and stimulating and always will be.

Human Rights

Please respect the human right of your audience not to be bored within an inch of their life. Practice practice practice until you are fluent and can lose yourself in a story that entertains even you, the speaker.

And if you are not a natural comedian, a presentation is not the place to begin your new stand-up career.

Good luck with the next presentation. I hope you WOW the audience and they give you a standing ovation.

Senior Sales and Culture Trainer Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill

Matthew Hill is an Intercultural Trainer, Author, Speaker and Coach working with international audiences to help them uncover their deeper potential and shine in public.

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What knowledge and skills do intercultural trainers need and how can they acquire them?

An opinion piece by one of the most experienced intercultural trainers in the UK – Adrian Pilbeam of LTS in Bath

A recent SIETAR UK professional development event run by Cathy Wellings and me was on the theme of ‘Developing your career as an intercultural trainer’. About 30 trainers of varied experience attended. We started with a group activity organised around the responses to four questions. The first was ‘What knowledge, skills and experience do intercultural trainers need?’ The answers included knowledge and experience of other cultures, knowledge about the intercultural field, skills to be able to design and deliver intercultural training, and skills as a facilitator and trainer. A second question was ‘What practical steps can you take to improve your knowledge, skills and experience?’ In terms of knowledge and skills, attending training courses and workshops was one of the responses.

For trainers with only limited experience as intercultural trainers, often coming from fields such as foreign language or management communication training, attending a structured train the trainer course should equip them with the necessary tools to begin to be able to plan and deliver a range of intercultural courses, The alternative is attending talks and short workshop sessions spread over months and even years, picking up information and ideas in a rather piecemeal fashion.

The word Culture. Vector banner with the text colored rainbow.

What should such a structured course for intercultural trainers include?

Firstly there should be an overview and review of some of the key concepts about intercultural communication – what we understand by culture, the effects of perceptions and stereotypes, different cultural values and practices, and some of the key theories. But what is important is that these concepts should be introduced in an engaging and interactive way, using a variety of activities and exercises that the participants can later use themselves in their future courses.

A second important component is to become familiar with, try out and practise using a wide range of activities and exercises – simulations, role plays, critical incidents, case studies, group and pair work exercises, use of video/DVD/YouTube clips, and the use of artefacts and realia. They need to know when to use them, how to set them up and how to debrief them.

Finally, they need to know how to combine concepts and activities into a course, which means they need to know how to analyse a client’s needs, and then go on to design an appropriate course and deliver it in an an appropriate style.

When I started out as an intercultural trainer, it took me quite a few years picking up ideas and techniques in a very piecemeal fashion, which is why ten years ago I decided to offer a structured train the trainer course to shorten and compress the learning process. The result is a 5-day course called ‘Developing intercultural training skills’ that we have now run more than 60 times, as well as a more advanced, follow-up course called ‘Designing and delivering intercultural training’. For more details, see www.lts-training.com/ICTTcourse.htm or contact adrian.pilbeam@lts-training.com.

Adrian PilbeamAdrian Pilbeam, Author, Trainer and Trainer of Trainers

How to be a Really Bad TRAINER

A light-hearted summer article (please choose not to be offended by any of the content. We have all behaved like this at least once at some stage in our training and coaching careers!)

Intercultural Training

Intercultural Training

Falling on Deaf Ears – we trainers are in a trusted position sat in the training room in front of sometimes vulnerable delegates. Our job is to gradually encourage them to open up like delicate flowers and tell us their thoughts fears and doubts.

Is it then bizarre for a coach or trainer to have successfully qualified in the training process and become a content expert as well BUT to be a chronically poor listener.

Instead of an impressive demonstration of fully empathic active listening, trainer competes for the prize of being right. He itches to insert his next personal story or opinion into the conversation, or, to survey the world from an ivory tower of knowing all things (The Demi-God.)

Death by presentation – a short blog post does not have the space to list all the trainer crimes committed in the name of presentation abuse.

There is the Monotonous trainer – droning on like a background radiation counter taking the participant into a soporific hell where they silently beg for lunchtime or at least the temporary release offered by a fire alarm going off.

Last year I heard of a trainer who sat at his desk and read out the wordy contents of his power point slides all day long to an increasingly frazzled audience. Luckily there were no sharp objects readily to hand and fatalities were kept to a minimum.

There are the Whisperers (the Ghost Train-ers), the Mumblers, and the Read Out the Whole Book trainers. The latter will remind you of those strange tour guides in foreign towns that are witty elegant and erudite as they bring a script to life but when challenged to deviate from the path they seem confused, annoyed or resentful.

For some, their strict upbringing has convinced them that education can never be enjoyable and the mantra “no pain no gain” is a valid teaching principle.

Finally, some groups have experienced initial delight that turns to horror as the Perennial Storyteller dips into their battered brown leather briefcase to extract another no-longer-relevant and stereotype filled family story.

Who owns the material? – There is a famous trainer who puts out content as a medina merchant promotes their carpets and rugs – the more square metres you give the customer, the happier they will be. I remember, many years ago in Paris, assisting somebody who seriously proposed starting the training day at 7 in the morning and finishing at 7 at night! As the young and enthusiastic assistant, I took my place standing to attention at the side of the training room – Like a soldier on parade – What a bad strategy. As the day went on I was surprised that no one claimed their human rights and sent off a quick appeal to Strasbourg.

Related to this is the Training Fundamentalist for whom there is only one truth. This teacher thinks they are the proprietor of the only story. Any challenger is dealt blows of withering fundamentalist insistence.

Unconscious Unconscious Bias – The children of dentists may have bad teeth. The shoemaker’s children are badly shod and Baggage Carrying trainers employed to promote international respect leak their many biases and prejudices into the classroom. A little of this last example can be endearingly human but as this ironic phenomenon accumulates the delegates soon realise that the training is smashing against the very principals aimed for on the course.

As you blush and relate to a few of the archetypes above or fill in the names of the anti-heroes you have witnessed committing training and coaching crimes let me leave you with a positive reframe told to me by one of my first and more colourful bosses;

“You can learn just as much from a bad person as from a good one.”

Wise words. We wish you a continued happy summer 😉