I recently attended a brutal three-day continuing education seminar. It was brutal for me and many others because it included a great deal of calculating math, statistics, and probability. I don’t know about you, but triangulation, standard deviation, and the coefficient of determination have NOT been a part of my vocabulary in a LONG time! Actually, probably never.
Two of the presenters were excellent. They used humor (really), stories, and class interaction to explain very complicated material that the bulk of the class would be testing on. The first presenter, unfortunately, really struggled to connect with the audience. She was very knowledgeable but not very well trained in presenting. I overheard many notes of dissatisfaction during her sessions and I know she didn’t receive high marks on her evaluation.
More importantly however is who her responsibility was to. As a presenter, our duty is to our audience. In this case, there were many exam takers who didn’t get the value they should have and that could hurt them when taking the test. This blog is not the place to go detail by detail, but suffice it to say, there were many missteps. If you are a presenter of anything, you have an obligation to your audience to send a clear message. Make sure you are constantly improving this very important skill so your audience will benefit and find value.
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Yesterday my family and I took a trip to Wal-Mart after church to pick up some quick items. As I got in my Suburban, I noticed a piece of paper underneath my windshield wiper. When I got out to examine I found a free-hand note stating “Your passenger-side tire is very low”. Upon further inspection, I was horrified to find that not only was it very low, it was VERY, VERY low. Fortunately, Wal-Mart has a tire service place open on Sundays because I’m not sure how I far we would have been able to go. Turns out the culprit was a screw I ran over. To make matters worse, the front tires were no longer legal for road use, so I had to replace both of them!
Two things to learn from this; first I’m very thankful to my Good Samaritan who left the note. How often do we walk by a situation like that and don’t take the time to leave a note. I could have been down the road a mile or two with my wife and daughter and been involved in an accident.
Second, be prepared. I had let my tires become hazards and if it wasn’t for a wayward screw I ran over, may have found out the hard way.
The last word – what a great form of communication. We sometimes spend so much time focusing on our verbal skills, that we forget how important any type of communication, especially written is.
I’ve been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember. The first football game I remember watching was in 1975 when Larry Csonka and the Miami Dolphins beat the Minnesota Vikings. Booing has always been a form of communication in sports. Some fans, like in Philadelphia, are known for it. When you boo Santa Claus, you earn that claim to fame!
I will admit, I have done my share of booing in my life. As I have grown older though, I have made a conscious decision not to. I’m not sure if that has come around due to coaching high school basketball for six years, but something has changed me. The recent booing of Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks has prompted me to write this article.
Shaun Alexander has nearly 10,000 rushing yards in his career, which places him in elite company. He is a former league Most Valuable Player. Even if he slows down to average numbers for the rest of his career, he is more than likely a candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And, he has played his entire career with one team, which in this day and age is unique.
Due to recent injuries and an overhaul of his offensive line, Alexander has had less than sterling numbers. The Seahawks “faithful” has been riding him hard and have actually booed him the past two weeks. I don’t get it. Alexander has been a hero for this community and led our once doormat team to the Super Bowl. Not only that, he has been a sterling contributor to our community with his charitable work. How soon we forget. In this society which thrives on “What Have You Done For Me Lately”, it’s not surprising. I’m sure the fans who do the booing would never accept it in their line of work.
Final thought – the Seahawks fans are famous for raising the “12th Man” flag prior to each game. Seattle Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki just did the honors last Sunday. That means we are part of the team. What part of “team” does booing honor? Aren’t we suppose to pull for OUR team and be encouraging? Unfortunately, we here in Seattle are closer to the Philadelphia model of “team” than we might like to believe.
Speaking of my presentation at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and my daughter…
It turned out to be fortunate that she was home. My PowerPoint presentation included a 4-minute video clip of a program I’d given a few months ago. The clip was going to be an example of a point I wanted to make. Unfortunately, I forgot that in order to transfer the sound from the video, it needed to be packaged on to a CD. Big time bummer!
Technology to the rescue…I called Kelli on her cell phone and she went down to my computer, found the file, and e-mailed it to me. I was able to log on to the hotel’s free Wi-Fi and VIOLA! How did we ever get by without cell phones, WiFi, or thumb drives?
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation to the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. After the event, I was talking with several attendees as they were leaving, and one gentleman happened to catch my eye. I noticed that his name badge said “Weedin”. Not seeing too many people with MY last name, I took a closer look to see what his first name was. To my surprise, it said “Kelli”. Why was I surprised? Well, because that’s my daughter’s name!
Turns out this man’s name was “Kelly” and he was rushing in as the event was starting. The lady at registration asked his name and he said “Kelly”. Well, my Kelli was originally going to come with me, but was sick and couldn’t come. She had a name tag all set for her. You can guess what happened! The registration lady peeled off “Kelli Weedin” and gave it to this gentleman who wore it the entire time without realizing it. We shared a good laugh about that one. I told him that the story would definitely end up in a speech somewhere, and of course in my blog.
P.S. Thanks to all of you who attended the Seattle Chamber function. You were a great audience and I appreciated your hospitality.
“Dad, you said something right today.” Now, if you’re a parent of teenagers like me, you don’t get to hear that very often. I was shocked when my daughter Kelli said this to me as I was driving her to school. Her car is in the shop so I’ve been playing taxi driver getting her from high school to the college where she does Running Start and then back to the high school again. Turns out she found out the directions I gave her earlier did result in a faster and easier commute between the two schools. Hmmm…chalk one up for the old man!
It’s funny how a small compliment can make someone’s day. This one came in the form of a statement that makes it sound like I rarely say anything right, but I’ll take it. Think about the last time you received a compliment. Better yet, think about the last time you gave one. In fact, I bet you’re like me and more likely to give compliments to people other than your closest family and friends. Here’s a challenge for you…see if you can say that one nice thing to a family member or close friend. Not only will it make them feel good, it will do wonders for you, too!
P.S. Would you like someone to compliment you on your next presentation? Register for my Panic to Power Boot Camp and learn how to give edge of their seat presentations. The Early Bird Special deadline is quickly approaching. Click here to register today!
Sometimes you find inspiration in the strangest places. While attending a fundraising luncheon for the local community college, I heard a wonderful speech from a young woman who was a student. It was unpolished yet beautifully and sincerely delivered to a room of about 400 people or more. Sometimes I wonder if we work too hard to deliver the “perfect” presentation when simplicity will do just fine thank you.