At first glance, Garr Reynolds’ new book, The naked presenter, is another entry in the “how to deliver presentation” genre. But as I read through the book, I found myself making notes. The notes were not about how to improve my presentations, but about how I approach change management.
As an organization development practitioner, I spend my time working with change management. This morphs through training – to teach something new, facilitation – where knowledge and ideas are exchanged, and, communication – designed to inform, motivate, and effect behavior change. Reynolds writes about all of this and more. He integrates information from interpersonal neurobiology, personal observation of his surroundings, and jazz musicians.
He does write about making effective presentations and improving public speaking skills. But the most important idea I encountered in the book is that “lessons are everywhere.” It is up to each of us to inquire into everyone and everything we encounter, asking how it impacts who we are and what old and new lessons we take away.
Each of us has many opportunities to connect with others. Knowing who we are and what matters is the foundation. Knowing why we are speaking, along with how and what we are communicating, allows us to build and effect change.
If you like to walk around the neighborhood block backward, seeing the roof lines and landscape from a new perspective, I recommend reading this book and watching for patterns that reach far beyond presentation design.
From standing in the break room exchanging stories to the new electronic “break room,” I appreciate staying connected with colleagues. Here is a story from today’s break room experience:
“Guess what happened last night …” said Marty
“Just tell me!” replied Mary
“One of my friends posted a Facebook update during class. He wrote, ‘Unbelievable! Death by Power Point. It’s one created by the textbook publisher. And, the prof is reading the slides to us. Just print the slides and hand them out. I can read!'”
In unison, “Ugh!”
While a classroom isn’t a TED presentation, it’s difficult for me to imagine that learning happened – not even getting close to integration of information.
Over the weekend, Nancy Duarte wrote an article about presentation fatigue. This follows the news that an officer in Afghanistan had been fired from his post after voicing his frustration with military slide presentations. In the article, she follows her own communication rules, beginning with why this matters:
Why does this matter? Because presentations decide elections, military strategies and multibillion-dollar business deals; they educate our children and they spread the ideas that shape society’s most important goals and directives. … For professionals and citizens in every strata of society, true literacy now includes the ability to communicate effectively through presentations.
I agree with her assessment. The ability to communicate clearly, tell a compelling story, use visuals that maintain audience attention, and ultimately lead people to a new understanding is essential. Don’t miss her great stories and examples. Then check out my review of Resonate.
Stay tuned, Friesen Group is getting ready to announce a presentation workshop that will take you beyond bullet points.
Nancy Duarte’s new book, resonate (sic), landed on my porch yesterday. A quick read-through showed that in the new book, she is building on her work in slide:ology (sic). The main point? Even a well designed PowerPoint or Keynote slide will not connect with the audience unless the speaker has a compelling story to communicate.
The book delivers a review of story design techniques. I appreciate the case studies and process descriptions that make the material practical. Even more importantly she asks each person to reflect on how and why they communication (p. 216):
Passion for your idea should drive you to invest in its communication.
I have experienced first hand the power of story to connect people and groups, to form networks, and to create something that didn’t exist in the past. This book is worth reading if you want to consider how you communicate – whether or not you stand in front of a group to do it.
Stories with Wings
How much do you remember from your last meeting or training session? There’s a story in the New York Times Magazine about a new technology called Livescribe. As someone who recorded lectures and then fill in class notes from the recording, a pen that records the audio lecture and automatically links it to handwritten notes is revolutionary.
Years of research demonstrate a strong correlation between academic achievement and detailed note taking. The best students are able to take notes and mentally process the information. They take the information and process it through working memory, while integrating it with what they already know to determine most important points.
Even the most intelligent, fast note taker has difficulty keep up with a speaker. So do we all need “smart pens?” Buried in the article are two important concepts that go beyond technology. Further research by Kiewra at the University of Nebraska looked at teachers who provide handouts with concepts along with blanks for students to fill in during the lecture. They found that “students using partial notes capture a majority of the main concepts in a lecture, more than doubling their usual performance.”
The second set of research looked at using handouts of the lecture notes. Findings? “Those who heard the lecture and took (their own) notes scored 51 percent on a subsequent test, while those who only read the instructor’s notes scored 69 percent.”
What does all of this research have to do with organization development? Every organization I’ve been involved with has meetings and many have training departments. Giving complete handouts that can be reviewed before and after the meeting or presentation, taking and distributing good meeting notes, and even simply providing a written agenda that covers the key points with space to fill in the discussion have the potential to improve understanding and communication.
Read the entire article: The Pen That Never Forgets and let me know what comes to your mind about how to implement these ideas in your organization.
In the age of Facebook, Twitter, texting, and e-mail, I appreciate being reminded of the power of face-to-face communication. Here’s a quote from Chris Anderson:
There’s a lot more being transferred than just words. It is in that nonverbal portion that there’s some serious magic. Somewhere hidden in the physical gestures, the vocal cadence, the facial expressions, the eye contact, the passion, and the kind of awkward British body language, the sense of how the audience are reacting…. There are hundreds of subconscious clues that go to how well you will understand and whether you are inspired.
See his entire talk on giving presentations at TED. Then read Garr Reynold’s comments on the power of presentation.
If your organization is involved in giving presentations either internally or externally, it’s worth reflecting on whether your presentations are effective. Garr Reynolds posted the following link and information on his blog, Presentation Zen:
Thanks to Tim Longhurst (The TED Commandments – rules every speaker needs to know) you can see the list in an easier to read format below.
- Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
- Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
- Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.
- Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
- Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
- Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
- Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
- Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
- Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
- Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.
And if you don’t know about TED, you should! You can find inspiration by clicking here.
Idea for reflection – 2