Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two pieces commissioned by a conference company . . .

Here are two pieces - one on the art of (re)presentation per se and one with presentation tips, a version of which was already published on this blog. They were commissioned from a conference company to help speakers. Enjoy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Learning vs. Training

In the course of a recent spate of client assignments in which I was retained to do Business Development and Presentation Training it struck me that we might need a new word for "training." Training implies learning a narrow group of skills in a single context. Learning, on the other hand, implies a wider group of capabilities that are inspired in a client. These abilities tend to cross contexts.

Sometimes my clients refer to me as a Presentation Trainer, yet as I interact with those who run businesses, those with products or services geared toward industry or the Enterprise, business school representatives, and expats seeking Executive MBAs in cultures not their own, what I've noticed is that none of my clients really want "training." They want to learn business techniques, and they want those in their charge to learn as well.

The difference is in the creativity and curiosity one sustains and carries, again, across contexts.

The topics might be different, but the goal is the same. How do you make connections among resources that will meet business and monetary challenges, both now and in the future?

Here's a formula that will help anyone perform better in business:

1. Inspiration is the meeting point between emotional and intellectual insights. Everyone feels so much better (and accomplishes so much more) when they can invoke it.

2. The best way to get inspired is to stay curious. Curiosity can be a bridge to creativity. (do you agree with that?)

3. Curiosity is sustainable if feelings are allowed. Your emotional reactions are as important as your thinking. In fact, innovative thinking couldn't exist without feeling -- inspiration is that meeting point, after all.

4. The most effective communicators evoke a desire to accomplish, know, perform. When my clients remember why they care about their topic, so do their listeners.

5. It's not magic, but it feels like it. Getting people to communicate that effectively an extraordinary challenge, and it's thrilling when my clients make it work. Sounds simple, and all it requires to get listeners to feel something new takes practice and the right kind of feedback.

This goes beyond training -- anyone got another word?

Either way, I feel very lucky to do this work.

Thoughts on Presentation Among Media

I was brought into a project recently that made me keenly aware of the similarities between what marketers (like me) do to improve both written and in-person presentation.

This is a (continuing) research project -- a literature review for an international marketing symposium. The subject was erudite and technical, but it became immediately apparent how to work on the outline and structure, despite my unfamiliarity with the topic. The more my intermediary and content expert described the context in which the material would be read, the more insight I was able to give on how to present the information in a way that would be credible and clear to a reader.

It reminded me of my work with CEOs of companies coaching client and investor pitches. I don't have to understand the in's and out's of specialty data as long as I understand the audience. The more insight I have into the effect the presenter must have -- in writing or in person -- the more I can help the speaker or writer be effective at getting the point across.

Marketers sometimes get a bad rap for window dressing rather than creating substantial (read: measurable) value for companies. But the deep structure we create for companies with content of all kinds has an emotional impact on whomever comes across the information.

And these so-called soft-skills are as much a part of winning content as the data itself.