The dread of delivering a presentation dogs many of us. There are few who actually relish the prospect of public speaking. Nevertheless, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be brilliant. We mustn’t mess up, must be the expert, must be impervious to doubt, and meet any challenge with a flawless response. Intellectually we recognise that these are unrealistic aims but we still pressure ourselves to be perfect. This striving for perfection is not helpful for myriad reasons, not least because it puts you at the centre of every situation; and guess what? You’re not.
Whenever you’re delivering a presentation you are the least important person in the room.
A couple of weeks ago I offered a playful connection between physics and communication. In this post, I intend to offer some insight into how to use Space and Time to improve the quality of our communication.
Before I do, though, it’s worth mentioning that this is tsp-uk’s one hundredth blog. In little over 18 months this community has produced a phenomenal range of content and insight. From the philosophical to the highly practical this space continues to be a dynamic and exciting forum to share ideas. Here’s to the next 100!
Now back to the topic in hand. My intention is not to give a class here, or offer some “top tips” but to explain how these concepts relate to my work and a couple of the ways I apply them in my practise.
What is it that gives other people confidence in you?
What is it that defines you as a credible, confident, authoritative communicator of ideas and vision? Gives you gravitas? Says to people that they should take you seriously?
It’s pretty simple really. It’s all about space and time.
In (not quite) the same way physics brings space and time together to form the space-time continuum, so it is that how we bring together our personal relationship to space and time will define our impact as communicators. A Communication Continuum, if you like.
Last week I had one of the most extraordinary experiences of my training career. Through RADA in Business I was engaged to train speakers taking part in the BBC’s commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchedeale.
Thus, I found myself in Ypres working with a group of almost 40 serving military personnel, actors and descendants of people who had died in this bloodiest of battles; an incredibly diverse group of people, all of whom would be reading on live television.
This is set in the context of remembering a battle that took the lives of tens of thousands of men and the intense emotions that evokes. If you saw either of the two programmes on the BBC you will understand what a humbling and tragic event we were focussing on.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent some time working with a regular client. They are an innovative and creative mid-sized company based over three countries.
While the training was very much focused on how they engage with their clients, one thing in particular struck me about what a great company they are. the range of people on the course.
The small group consisted of one person with “Executive” at the end of their job title, who had been in the organisation for ten months, as well as someone with “C” at the beginning of the theirs and who had been there for many years.
While the training wasn’t designed for a specific management level, I was surprised when I learned how senior that one participant was. The training itself was incredibly successful and the dynamics within the group open, free and courageous. The C-level employee told me how she had pushed to get on the course. She was trying to balance her desire to learn and improve while not taking a valuable place on a small and intensive learning experience really aimed at lower levels.
It’s been a while since I’ve directed a play. I miss it. I miss the freedom to be creative, I miss watching something take form, I miss seeing other people create performances around me. I miss realising a vision.
This last point is one that really interests me. Directing a play is about the most immediate and swift creation of a product I can think of.
Having spent a fair amount of time over the last couple of weeks in the air I’d like to ask you a question: how many times when you fly on a plane do you ask yourself, “might this be my last flight?” I know for me it’s at least four. Not including turbulence. Now I’d like you ask yourself how many times you ask the same question when you get behind the wheel of your car, or for those of you who don’t drive, when you sit alongside someone who is? Virtually never?
I drive a car far more than I fly, and while I know the statistics say that I’m far more likely to die in the car than the plane, logic and rational thought make no difference. No matter how many times I fly I still have the thought, this might be it. It’s illogical, it’s pointless and yet I can’t help it.
As President Trump, as he is now called, took centre stage on Friday 20th January I watched his inauguration speech I was struck again by his hand gestures. Earlier in the campaign Trump’s hands were the subject of attack from his opponents but like so much with this Teflon-coated politician, the bad stuff doesn’t seem to stick. Things that reduce other candidates to rubble, Trump somehow survives.
Calling all Apprentice fans. I’ve decided to lift the lid on that ‘exercise’ and explain how it helped finalist Courtney Wood shine in his final pitch.
We were asked to be part of ‘The Apprentice’ final but ended up with more airtime on the ‘You’re Hired’ programme following it. If you saw it you’ll know that one exercise in particular became a running theme with Rhod Gilbert, the ‘You’re Hired’ presenter, who even made it part of his opening segment.
I’m lucky enough to be spending two weeks on holiday with my wife and six month old son in Sardinia. I’ve learnt many things during the first months of becoming a parent. One thing to emerge from the last couple of weeks, though, is that very little reading can occur on a holiday with a young child in tow.