Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for September, 2016

Interrupt the norm—Nix the slides for a change.

I had the best time presenting at a leadership conference last week. I was invited to facilitate an hour-long concurrent session on Emotional Intelligence. Based on registration and the size of the room I was presenting in, I was told to anticipate between 150 and 175 attendees, and well over 160 attended. Most important presentation tool of the day? —A wireless mic. Nothing more disengaging than having to yell across a room to be heard….Can you all hear me!???

Understanding that a slide deck has become an expected element of a “presentation”, I took a few days to decide…Slide deck or no slide deck? Based on the topic (i.e., Emotional Intelligence—The ability to be attuned to our own emotions and reactions, and the emotions and reactions of others) I was leaning strongly towards…no slide deck. My objective was to genuinely engage participants to contribute ideas, while I provided some valuable information, ideas, strategy and food for thought. My plan was to create handouts that helped them learn, participate in an exercise, and take notes. I finally decided to nix the slide deck, and simply connect with the audience. Somewhat of a risk, I realized, but I was steadfast in my decision.

After offering a few opening remarks, I brought the audience’s attention to the blank wall behind me and asked: “Did you notice? No slides.” I heard an acknowledging murmur of “yes” across the room. They had noticed. I very briefly explained my decision which was based on wanting to be fully present with them. “Disappointed?” I asked. They responded enthusiastically in unison…. “noooo!”. I was immediately relieved and pleased with their reactions and my choice. We went on from there and shared a great exchange.

I wondered later about the audience’s positive reaction to my not using PowerPoint. Did they relate to the goal of genuine interaction? Or, was it simply that it was different from what they’ve come to expect. I think both may be true. Yet, I’m convinced that making some small change to the status quo once and a while will interrupt the mundane or expected, and raise interest and engagement.

I’m certainly not recommending that you remove PowerPoint from your tool box, but I am offering these considerations:

– Once and a while, less just might provide more.
– A shift in the norm may be a simple way to generate a different level of interest and attention.
– What norm or way of doing business might you shift a bit when working or meeting with your team—or your clients?
– How might you noticeably shift a typical team meeting, for example, to better engage your team’s interest, curiosity, or creativity?

3rd Time’s a Charm—The Power Behind Active Delay

Originally posted in 2007…Posted again in 2010…Six years later, still a simple, meaningful, and powerful tidbit.

———-2010 Post: Active Delay Revisited

Once and a while, I’m reminded of a past blog entry because of its acute applicability in the here and now. This one is from the Summer of 2007. I’m reminded of it because of the increased volume of emails that we’re all receiving on a daily basis, that generate action on our parts. Following the advice in this entry may help you maintain a reputation of dependability, even while you find yourself falling behind. So, here you go, posted in July, 2007, and again for you, today . . .

———-2007 Post:Active Delay

Interestingly, in just the past few days, several people have mentioned to me that they’re frustrated with people not returning their calls and/or emails promptly. Perhaps it’s the season. Summer in the northeast—being so short—tends to slow things down a bit. I’m one of those people who, short of an email or voice mail falling through the cracks, will call you back even if I don’t have anything to tell you. Which leads me to what I want to share with you today.

Perhaps you’re not prepared to return an email because you’ve not had an opportunity to complete what’s been asked of you. Or you’re not quite sure of the answer you want to provide to a question asked. Or maybe you’re simply swamped with higher priorities. —All of which understandably may cause a delay in your responding.

Why not offer an active delay? A quick voice mail or a one-line email (or text) acknowledging the other person’s outreach and your intention to respond as soon as you’re able, or prepared to, is a powerful piece of communication. Consider offering a specific target date for when you will respond, and then stick to the plan.

Promptly returned messages offer us an immediate opportunity to service our clients, colleagues, and internal and/or external customers. It says: I hear you, and you matter. And everyone wants to be heard and to matter.

So when you find yourself setting aside an email or message because your ability to fully respond may be delayed, why not offer an active delay? Even in the midst of high demands, you can be building trust in your reliability.