5 Easy Ways to Discombobulate a Presenter

Definition: verb (used with object), discombobulated, discombobulating.

[dis-kuh m-bob-yuh-leyt]

- To confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate: feeling disconnected or unbalanced.

E.g., The speaker was completely discombobulated by the hecklers.

The purpose of this article is to ensure that people responsible for organizing presentations are made aware of some of the problems that can be caused by a lack of psychological training in this area, and its application in the real world, so that they can take appropriate action to ensure that the presentations they are responsible for are successful.

In previous articles, I have talked about how everyone involved in a communicative event, be it a presentation, training course, meeting, etc., arrives with preconceived ideas and expectations about what will happen, the location, the type of interaction, the people, unspoken norms of behaviour (both verbal & non-verbal) and many other elements. All these are based on their previous experience, knowledge, education, culture, etc. When these expectations are not reached – especially in a presentation context, it can seriously affect the clarity of the communication and the perception of the presenter and their message.

This was brought home to me last week when I attended a series of three presentations in the headquarters of a major telecommunications organization in Spain. The speakers were worldwide Subject Matter Experts in their areas of specialization. I must declare that I am a friend of one of the presenters in this event.

The main discombobulators in this event were:

(1) Room set-up.

- The initial site chosen for the presentations was a “standard format” room: The presenter at the front of the room and the audience in front of them. There was a full range of audiovisual support available and was what I believe to be a typical presentation set up. This is the “traditional” type of room where many presenters have accumulated much of their experience and generally tend to expect this type of venue.

In the case used as an example in this article, the room was perceived as being too small for the expected audience. So, at the last minute it was decided to change the presentation site to a different room which was an unusual design.

To give you an idea of the room set-up The screen was in the centre of the room with a wing on either side which restricted the vision of the presenter to the audience immediately in front of them, unless they moved so far forward that they were almost among the front row of the audience.

(2) No computer in front of the Presenter, only behind them.

The computer which the presenters were to use was on a lectern at the back of the stage which, had it been used, would have made it impossible for the presenters use orientation, proximity, gaze and other non verbal elements to enhance their communicative competence with the audience. All three presenters decided NOT to use it and as a result they were continually looking at the screen to see what was being shown and not focussing on the audience and reading their non-verbal communication.

There are three possible options to resolve this problem:

1. Have a monitor on the floor in front of the presenter so that they can see the screen easily.

2. Have a monitor suspended from the ceiling for the same reason as in #1.

3. Have a laptop computer on a table placed where the presenter wants it NOT where it is most convenient for the organization. This is the easiest, low-cost option!

(3) Focus on the screen and NOT on the Presenter.

The attitude of the organizers appeared to be that it is the screen that is the be-all-and-end-all of the presentation and that the presenter was a mere adjunct to the material instead of the other way around. This attitude was reinforced by the fact that there were two large screen monitor directed towards the audience located on each wing of the room.

It is the presenter and their verbal & non verbal communication that are the most important parts of the presentation. The content on the screen are known as “Visual Aids” – The word “Aid” should not be confused with “substitute”!

It might be more productive to have the presenter on the monitors instead of their slides!

(4) Wifi / Cloud storage / problems.

There were problems with the wifi system. It appeared that one or more of the presenters had intended to use a presentation located in the “cloud” – However, in the first presentation, the problems were sufficiently serious to interrupt the flow of the presentation and discombobulate the presenter. Based on this experience, it is worth reminding everyone that it is better to take your presentation with you in a pen drive rather than trust that you will have the ability to access it in the cloud.

(5) Timing, Seating & Problem solutions.

The session was scheduled to run from 17:00h to 21:00h. Normally, one would expect a break after each presentation or half-way through so that both the audience and the presenters can relax somewhat, stretch their legs and psychologically process the content / messages communicated during the presentation which generally leads to greater retention of the content. A short break also allows the following presenters to find solutions to the problems they have identified during the previous presentation(s).

As an aside and on a personal note, the seats were also uncomfortable, especially for four hours!

Consequences:

1. The first presenter was walking up and down the width of the auditorium like a caged lion; frequently turning to see what was on the screen, turning their back on one side of the audience and then on the other. In general, their non-verbal communication (gaze, orientation and posture) were not a true reflection of their skills.They appeared to be producing extremely high levels of adrenalin, testosterone which results in lower levels of cortisol due to the stress caused in this environment.

2. The second and third presenters were more anchored in their preferred presentation point which meant that the audience were more focussed on them so that the content of their communication (visual, verbal and non-verbal) entered into their subconscious mind via their peripheral vision. However, it appeared that both presenters were discombobulated by the environment. This resulted in the audience members seated on both sides had greater problems seeing the presenters.

It must be stated that ALL of the Presenter did an excellent job bearing in mind the unexpected and unnecessary problems encountered in the presentation site. I am sure that in a “normal” presentation site where the organizers are aware of, and have taken steps to ensure the correct application of, the psychological elements related to presentations, the presentations would have been much better.

There are many other elements that can discombobulate presenters, trainers, meeting leaders, facilitators, etc., for additional information, please feel free to contact me.

How To Profit From Negotiation – Part I Of II

INTRODUCTION

Organisations are constantly seeking ways to increase revenues and margins whilst reducing costs. A question that is often raised is how the development of human resource skills can best be aligned to achieving these objectives.

All organisations’ efforts toward realising key objectives are characterised by communications with colleagues, suppliers, customers, shareholders and other stakeholders. The fact remains: individuals can no longer decide whether they would like to negotiate, they can decide only how well they would like to negotiate.

One of the most accessible and powerful mechanisms available to accelerate the achievement of your organisational growth objectives is optimising your organisation’s negotiation efforts.

WITH THE ACHIEVEMENT OF EVER-INCREASING TARGETS ON THE AGENDA, WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO PROCEED?

The challenge is how to achieve profitable revenue growth whilst keeping a tight reign on expenses through quick improvements in operations.

Many organisations have come to the realisation that traditional growth tactics supported by initiatives such as pure play sales, marketing and purchasing training have run out of steam. This is due in large part to the era of ‘best practice standardisation’. Just as manufacturing organisations have embraced the implementation of proven best practices, so organisations across the spectrum have implemented best practices in the sales environment (typically through the formulation of a sales strategy and the implementation of a formal sales methodology) and the purchasing environment (typically through supply chain optimisation, strategic sourcing and supplier management initiatives). This has had the effect of leveling the playing field with most organisations deploying sales and purchasing strategies and processes that are similar in nature and design.

To achieve superior revenue & margin growth in a ‘standardised’ market environment requires a fresh approach. Deployed effectively, Negotiation Training will act as a catalyst to facilitate the continuance and entrenchment of competitive advantage.

Before exploring the best ways to deploy negotiation training to optimise returns, it is useful to consider why negotiators typically fail to achieve optimal returns from their negotiation efforts.

BUSINESS NEGOTIATIONS

At the highest level of abstraction, negotiators fail because they don’t negotiate in a ‘whole brain’ way. Research has proven that our actions and communications are most effective when they occur in a holistic, whole brain format. In the context of business negotiations, this means that negotiators must guide their actions and communications effectively by focusing on four core areas of negotiation:

Value

Business negotiators must ensure that they have an acute understanding of the facts that underpin any negotiation. Failure to gather & understand the relevant facts that support optimal deal making results in failed negotiations or negotiations where value is left on the table.

Process

Any negotiation without a robustly defined negotiation process and management infrastructure runs the risk of resulting in a sub-optimal outcome. A framework within which to operate is required to provide an environment within which risks can be pro-actively managed. A robust negotiation process ensures positive momentum and provides a referential framework that mitigates unforeseen complications & risks.

Relationship

Agreements can only be concluded between people or organisations represented by people. It goes without saying that the way we interact with other people is a critical determinant of negotiation success. The importance of relationships within a negotiation context is amplified when we find ourselves in an environment where ongoing partnerships and longstanding relationships results from our business interactions.

Vision

To achieve a collaborative deal frame, it is necessary that parties to an agreement have a shared vision of the losses and benefits associated with any agreement. It is only by having an understanding of all parties to an agreements respective vision that we can understand their driving motivators or interests. A key part of negotiation competency involves the ability to generate options that will serve the needs & interests of all parties.

World class negotiators develop their skills & competencies in each of the 4 main areas, thereby empowering themselves to deal competently in areas that would fall outside of their natural areas of ‘preference’.

NEGOTIATION SKILLS TRAINING

Effective negotiation skills training can be implemented in two ways:

  • Generic leading practice based (off the shelf)
  • In house training format
  • Public access open course training format
  • Verticalised & customised (suited to industry & organisational specific challenges, needs & strengths)
  • In house training format

The most effective negotiation skills training interventions will be preceded by the definition and/or design of a negotiation strategy and supporting process. This will ensure the establishment of a negotiation capability at an organisational level, equipping the organisation with a key competency in negotiation, which will result in competitive differentiation.

To ensure optimal positive impact, any negotiation training programme should cover the following key areas:

  • Individual negotiation preference & competency profiling.
  • Individuals must get an understanding of their preferences, negotiation style and negotiation competencies in the context of business negotiations.
  • A proven understanding of strategic sourcing and the approaches taken by buyers to negotiate purchases.
  • Sales negotiation training programmes should be built upon a strong foundation of understanding the procurement and purchasing functions within organisations. This is a critical element which will ensure that delegates are equipped with the skills to apply ‘mission specific’ negotiation strategies & tactics.
  • Provide delegates with a practical, simulation based environment within which to learn & deploy negotiation skills.
  • Research has proven that learning is accelerated by a practical learning environment.
  • Make provision for delegates to demonstrate their understanding and acquisition of new negotiation skills by means of a post course assessment.

Too many training courses don’t achieve their objectives because they don’t provide a post course assessment environment that encourages delegates to internalise the skills acquired.

Provide delegates with an individual Personal Development Plan based on their demonstrated preferences & competencies. It is hardly likely that one or even two negotiation training interventions will provide sufficient time for each delegate to fully develop their negotiation skills. It is therefore of critical importance to provide each delegate with a personal development plan that will assist them in the continued development of their negotiation skills.

To read about developing a personal negotiation development plan find my article entilted “Key Steps To Becoming an Advanced Negotiator” on this website or EMAIL ME FOR FREE

Sending Presents This Christmas

It seems that Christmas adverts are starting to creep on our screens earlier and earlier every year, even at this time of the year shops are filled with Christmas promotions and products. It seems the nation goes into frenzy in the early months of autumn and winter trying to buy there presents earlier than ever. Also as the holiday season approaches many high street shops start raising their prices as they know people will be hammering the stores as soon as the Christmas adverts hit our screens, but there are many ways you can save this Christmas.

One of the main problems with people starting their Christmas buying early, is that the postal service’s start getting rammed as early as October. However there are many solutions to getting your presents around the world reliably and on time and comes in the form of parcel delivery couriers. In the last few years the amount of online parcel companies offering personal and dependable services has increased rapidly. You no longer have to rely on the royal mail to send gifts to your friends and family, or have to wait in hour long queues at the local post office. With parcel couriers you can expect only the most superior service as they know the needs and wants of their customers. With many families having friends and relatives living abroad these days sending their presents via parcel delivery companies is almost essential during the busy seasons.

Sending your presents and packages ahead this Christmas is a clever option as not only will you have ease of mind that your gifts will arrive on time, but the prices of delivery are also a lot cheaper. There will be millions of people looking to send their parcels, cards and letters at Christmas time especially late December so prices will rocket above the norm, and you could end up spending a small fortune just getting your presents to loved ones, before the excess spending on food and decorations. Parcel delivery will be considerably cheaper if you send them earlier. There are so many benefits of using parcel delivery couriers this Christmas, including parcel tracking, personal pickups and even insurance. With so many parcel courier companies now offering service online, you don’t have to look far to find a service that is great for you. Let this Christmas be stress free and sue a parcel courier to send your packages to loved ones around the world.