Pecha Kucha report – MMU Didsbury 27 Sept

I’d just like to thank everyone who contributed in some way to PK night earlier this week. This is the third one I’ve done so far and the quality of storytelling, delivered with such feeling, is testament both to the presenters AND the Pecha Kucha style.

Interestingly, we had a PK-themed Speakeasy session the other day in Manchester, with 2 presenters test-driving their talk (you can use Speakeasy to test-drive any presentation you’ve got on the horizon). One theme we explored was that of authenticity. Because PK explores what’s personal to the presenter, it rates highly on the authenticity scale and I feel this is something we can all learn from in business.

Too often we come across people who have this mask of infallibility. They’re just too perfect! But this often generates feelings of envy or downright distrust! If you believe in the principle that people are really buying YOU, it’s crucial they know who you really are. Explaining to people how wonderful your service is is all very well, but we like to know what YOUR part in this is; how did you come to be doing this; what lessons have you learned along the way that make you more experienced and wiser? It establishes your connection with what you do and gives us more confidence in who we’re dealing with.

The other point about this is that there’s strength in admitting weakness. If you admit to some mistakes along the way (some angst or uncertainty on your journey) that can work in your favour BUT (and this is crucial) in telling that story you’ve got to show how much stronger, wiser, more capable you are as a result of your experiences. You establish your credibility in your field by showing what you’ve done for clients, how you’ve turned things around for them, how you’ve got better and better over time and now you’re providing a terrific service.

So congratulations to ALL the presenters from Monday:

Jeremy Cobb, Jeremy Waite, Juan Grange Yanez, Mark Jones, David Taylor, Jeremy Dent, Mark Ashmore, Tony Brammer

I was thrilled because they’ve all benefited from the Speakeasy process in one way or another. And several are now providing some great advice and mentoring to others about the power of storytelling.

I would like to change something about the next PK though…some WOMEN presenters please! I don’t really seek people out to present – they normally approach me. So if you’ve a good story to tell – a rant, personal journey, social enterprise or strange hobby, let me know! I’m looking to run another PK w/c 29 Nov but will confirm in due course.

FINALLY, I’d like to describe what I think was the highlight of the night. David Taylor talked really well about his work as a mentor for the Prince’s Trust and at the middway break he took me to one side and said he had a surprise visitor. No, not HRH! But one of the young lads who’s benefited from the programme came along and spoke really well about his journey and the benefits he’d enjoyed from the likes of David and others at The Trust.

It was wonderful, and if he reads this I’m sure we’d all join in saying “WELL DONE!”

Oh, and a special thank you to Freya Marshall and all the team at MMU Didsbury for making us so welcome.

Here’s to next time – please let me know if you’d like to attend and/or present.

What can a round of golf reveal about us?

I had the pleasure of meeting Ant Etherton last week. More than that, I spent most of the day with him, and a fascinating experience it was. We share similar experiences and interests – acting, journalism, golf, cooking (well, not the cooking) – but Ant has devised a innovative leadership training tool, using a round of golf as the medium.

In truth, it’s not really about golf at all, but the game tells us so much about ourselves. Of course, Ant’s skill is his ability to draw insights and lessons from the experience – things like how we allocate tasks, make decisions, give instructions, the way different personality types interact, use of language (both verbal and non-verbal), creative thinking and problem-solving.

We spend proportionately very little time swinging at the ball during the 4 hours a round of golf takes, so it lends itself to conversation and relationship-building. But I liked the way Ant devised a specific task for our four-ball, adding a new dimension to the experience and revealing much about our leadership styles.

If you’re looking to develop the leadership potential of your team, you should speak to this man. Take a look at his FORE web-site. Fascinating stuff!

The importance of being YOU on stage

Dale Carnegie was a smart guy. He knew how to win friends and influence people (the contents of his seminal book still ring true today) and his ideas on effective public speaking are equally insightful.

Reading about the public courses he ran in the USA during the 1930′s, I was struck by a term he used – ‘enlarged naturalness’. He stressed the importance of being yourself as a presenter. You are in a theatrical situation when you’re addressing an audience. But rather than ‘acting’ in the sense of pretending to be someone else, enlarged naturalness is about being a bigger version of your normal self.

It’s not appropriate or necessary in a normal conversation but when you’re speaking on a stage you’ve got to fill the room with your energy. You have to pour your heart and soul into what you’re presenting. The audience has to understand how strongly you feel about your topic, and that means letting yourself go a bit.

The trouble is people normally go the other way when they present. They’re nervous and worry about being ridiculed or doing something wrong. That means they CONSTRICT and give a poor performance, ironically because they’re trying to be perfect!

You might lose your way, stumble over some of your words, but audiences will be drawn in by your enthusiasm and passion. They don’t want to see slick and polished. They want YOU! Let them in.