Tuesday, January 31, 2017

TED videos: Do they really make one a great presenter?

Just watching TED videos, if one could have been made a hell of an impactful presenter!, then we would have long left the data point that “Speaking in Public is the No. 1 Fear”.

And probably it would have been close of business for many of us who specialize in training and coaching people on Hi-Impact Presentation Skills.

So what happens when one does watch TED videos regularly?
My 2 bits coming from having many training & coaching relationship with aspiring presenters is that many of them who watch these videos regularly, end up just becoming good if not great  ‘mimics!’.

Because consistent watching of TED videos (as the environment is completely different from an organisational setting) you may tend to pick up styles that large group speakers use in such open forums.  You may love the pizzaz and the oration they use, but frankly, can you really use these mannerisms back into your workplace and what if you end up using such oration in client presentations. Rather than ebing an enabler, it may just end up being a derailer.

So then, why would we advise watching of TED videos?
To be honest, how many videos from the business side are really available in open space and then, can they be really made available? I mean, any competitor worth his salt, would have to just watch these videos and viola!, you be able to gauge strategies and execution plans biengo.

And, what about insider trading laws? Recent videos of reviews, proposals, plans, ideas, launches etc. may give the viewer soo much inside information that one can go make a killing in the stock market.

So, why then? The amazing element in TED videos is that there are people with loads of passion and high energy that led them to their goals and/or vision, many are corporate honchos, well attired & groomed and they yes, speak to a ‘live’ audience. Most of them use slides (calling them ppt’s is a no-no) and their slide decks are visual delights! (I hear some of them get the decks made by designing professionals). And yes, some of them do really have great presentation skills and make mesmerising presentations.

Now with many TED chapters around the world even if say (just for e.g. sake) 1% of the presentations are great, we still have a sizable no. of videos available. And, before I forget, the very fact that these videos are OPEN to DOWNLOAD, let alone SEE!, makes them an amazing library of Presentation Videos.

So, if you want to be the next GREAT PRESENTER, what should you really lookout for when watching these Videos?
A few tips:
1.       The Start!  How does the speaker begin? What powerful ‘hook’ are they using?
2.       The Engagement! How does the speaker engage with the audience? The verbal and the non-verbal reactions and/or responses they generate that moves the presentation from a monologue to an interactive dialogue.
3.       The Framework! What’s the structure of the presentation? Is it the classic Tell 3 (according to me a boring old school style) or maybe the speaker has used impact framework such as PCS, PPF, AIDA, P&C (more on frameworks in the next article).
4.       The Closure! How did the speaker end? Was it Drib with a “That’s It” or maybe ended with a Flourish (audience genuinely applauded)
5.       The Speakers Body Language! How’s the Posture? How did they move on stage? Did they?
6.       The Oration! How was their voice? Feeble or with baritone of power?
7.       The Eyes! Did the speaker look to the whole audience? Or just to one side of the room or maybe one person. Or maybe just to the camera (this would mean bad eye-contact)?

The sad part of TED Talks is that there are no Questions from the audience. Whereas,  in reality, in organsiations, the Questions form the pillars (maybe not in town halls) of organisational presentations. These can make or break your presentation.

So next time you watch a TED video…
Observe intently for the performance points above, reflect, think of your own presentation and start applying the choices you wish to, so that you really become a High-Impact Presenter and not just a Mimic.

Your style, Your Way!

Ajit Kamath CPF is the Principal Trainer & Facilitator at WizTalks primarily working out of India. He has been in the field of #Lecturing, #Training & #Facilitation since 1993.His flagship program in the initial years of training was “The Fascinating World of Public Speaking” and “POWER Presentation Skills” having trained in Companies like Philips, National Stock Exchange, Castrol and others.  He delivers programs primarily for senior & mid-level Leadership Teams across industries. He has had experience in the Theatre field that he integrates seamlessly into his training & facilitation. He is also a Story Teller and Certified Professional Facilitator using Group Process Facilitation techniques. He can be contacted on wiztalks@gmail.com, tweeter: @AjitWiz

Saturday, January 21, 2017

“Let the Games Begin”: Exploring whether Applied Improv is Gamification?

Wikipedia explains that Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. Gamification commonly employs game design elements which are used in non-game contexts to improve user engagement, organizational productivity, flow,  learning, crowdsourcing, employee recruitment and evaluation, ease of use, usefulness of systems, physical exercise, traffic violations, voter apathy, and more.

If I go with the above definition, then yes!, improv is gamification. 

So what is improv?
Improv is a short form of the noun improvisation
o   the action of improvising.
"she specializes in improvisation on the piano"
extemporization, ad-libbing, spontaneity, lack of premeditation; 
"some of the best things in the film came out of improvisation"
o    something that is improvised, in particular a piece of music, drama, etc. created spontaneously or without preparation.
plural noun: improvisations
"free-form jazz improvisations"

And then, what is Applied Improvisation?
Scripted unto the website (http://appliedimprovisation.network/) of Applied Improvisation Network (AIN), it says, Applied Improvisation uses the principles, tools, practices, skills and mind-sets developed in comedy, jazz and theatre and utilises them for non-theatrical or performance purposes.

Now my understanding is that improvised comedy, jazz and theatre is all about fun and enjoying in the moment. Games are too about fun and enjoying in the moment too.

For me, just as we say application of improv is Applied Improvisation, I see Applied Games as Gamification.

Both have loads of movement (physical and/or mental), unpredictability, agilty  and , off course high energy. The only thing that Applied Improv doesn’t have is competition to make people move ahead in the game.

I have been a Facilitator for both: since 4 years I am facilitating simulations for a Gamification Co. and since 6 years, I have dabbled in Applied Improv (on the other hand, I have been using theatre-based activities in my trainings since 20 odd years).

I find that Gamification needs a powerful debrief to connect it back to the organisation, behaviours and how the learnings can be translated back to the workplace. It is reflective and yet, I have seen participants struggle to see context, and many a times putting the ways they gamed (as a blame) to that they played differently today unlike what they are in real life or that today they wanted to have fun by taking a deviant position in the game or some other reason/s to defend why they couldn’t make a cut or win. Break-time is all about such peer conversations.

On the other hand, the Tools of Improv are pure application and not hypothetical. The basic grounding of Applied Improv  can be put in an interesting P.L.A.Y. model (van Driel, 2013) that builds Presence, Leap, Adaptiveness, Yes, And, Impact. The debrief is part the Improv itself, one senses, thinks, feels and starts reflecting whilst enjoying the play. I find it powerful and interesting the way it starts moving into behaviours within the time-space of the facilitation and by the first tea break you see participants actually using the tools in the peer conversations.

So then, in conclusion, is Applied Improv Gamification?

My humble opinion is “Yes, …And it is much more than Gamification…. Improv is Life!”

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

'Nautanki' or Powerful Learning Tools

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Make them M-O-O-O-V-E

"Can you move a bit",..... "a little bit".  
With much reluctance and irritation did I move. All of 7 or 8 years, travelling in a BEST Bus in Mumbai, half-ticket (half price), I was mad that some Uncle or Aunt would move me so that they could park themselves along with their kid (3 in a 2-seats). And how I hated this m-o-o-o-v-e!

Surprising, my methodology, of training & facilitation, since the time I started 21 years back,  is all about movement ... and one of the often repeated instructions that I give is "Let's m-o-o-o-v-e". Ha! Ha!

So what makes me ask learners to move?

It's all about energy. Sitting for long periods of time which usually happens in ILD (Instructional Led Delivery) also known a Classroom Training can be very taxing. Especially when it comes to Adults... they just can't sit and listen for a long period of time. So what should an Engaging Facilitator / Trainer / Lecturer do? 

Make the class m-o-o-o-v-e. Easier said than done!

Most learning environments i.e. design of a classroom doesn't allow movement. Really? Maybe we need to be a bit more innovative here. Even in fixed seating classrooms there can be lots of planned movement... only if you "Think" of it.

I was reading a few session synopsis from the Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy 2011 and was 'hit' by a particular session description by Beverly Evans, Health, Human Performance and Recreation, Southern Missouri State University. She interestingly mentions "Attaching treadmills to desks in college classrooms as suggested by Brain Rules (2008) by author John Medina being impractical for most". However she speaks of the link between physical activity and cognitive functioning and refers to 2 instructors who researched using movement in 3 different classes with a goal of enhancing the student learning experience. She also refers to Spark: The revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain by Ratey J. & Hagerman. E (2008) as a case in point. 

I was not present for the Conference so I cannot give more insights into her paper.However, it validates my personal view that movement enhances learning.

In the world of facilitation, I clearly hear Rhonda Tranks rhonda@illumaconsulting.com.au mention about the power of movement in facilitation in her session at the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) www.iaf-world.org Asia Conference 2011 in Bangalore www.iaf-india.org, and m-o-o-o-v-e did we, all because of her. 

As a delegate, it enhanced my understanding of the process and allowed me to build my content to the discussion that was taking place. I loved the Rating Scale Method wherein all of us individually rated on certain statements and then she put the scale on the floor and asked us to take our position.... and then we had an enriching debate on our positions... later after much churning we were asked to think whether we had now changed our position or was it the same. Wow! It made me look at my opinion, debate on it, hear others with different perspectives and then I could change my opinion or let it remain... all about me and my choice! Reflective!

For me, m-o-o-o-v-e is the lifeline in all my programs: it builds energy, improves concentration, makes the learner agile, open to collaborate, connect and explore many viewpoints. I integrate Drama, Applied Improv www.appliedimprov.com and many other Facilitation processes www.iaf-methods.org that has movement at the center of the processes.

I am careful about not over-doing movement as at times people do need to rest their bodies, therefore it is important to plan and execute. It's part of the design. I have stopped doing ad-hoc energizers (for movement), rather I design the movement as part of the process. I am mindful when I am dealing with elderly audience as they at times resist movement just because their bodies don't support.

So friends, what's stopping you... Make them M-O-O-O-V-E

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Making Silent participants SPEAK out!

One of the challenges I have faced in my training & facilitation career is how to make timid participants speak! There are few who are ready to voice and at times dominate; there are many who 'get in the groove' with churning questions, however there are those who just keep "mum" even with the best of my efforts.

One way I still got many to participate, is by flip-charting answers to questions and then probing further and deeper. The learning was high and interaction was great too.

However deep in my heart, I knew that there were the miniscule few who had not been heard. Slowly I learnt to leave them to themselves (come on!, possibly I couldn't really make everyone contribute). And that became a mindset.

And then I discovered process facilitation. Not that I was not facilitating whilst training however the truth was that it was still loaded with content and at the back of my mind I had many agreed (With client) learning deliverable to cover.

Process facilitation has some amazing methods that can make even the timid voice their opinion however mind you, in small (safe) groups. Divergence brings about processes that build safe conversations in safe environments and Convergence collates the 'voices' from those safe diverged groups. And it can be integrated beautifully with the training workshops.

And this was magic! Get to know more about facilitation, check out www.iaf-world.org.

The India chapter of IAF (International Association of Facilitators) actively meets in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dealing with late-comers in workshops

One of the challenges every Facilitator / Trainer has to deal with is the learners coming in late.

My advise:
If more than half of the expected learner group are in the room, I kick-off my program. 

When the late-comers arrive, I acknowledge them with 'eye contact' - at times integrate them with a quick recap of what I have covered.

If less than half are in the room, then I ask the sponsor (HR / Business) what should be done? - most of them advice a wait of at least 15 mins. We then announce this to those present - so that they can have coffee or maybe catch up on a call or two.  In the meantime the sponsor starts calling/texting the no-shows to find out what is happening. After the extended time lapses, we just start.

I won't be harsh with penalty because in most of the India cities, traffic can be unpredictable.

In certain regions of India (where late-coming is seen as okay), I would start with a fun/intro/ice-breaker activity which takes about 15 to 20 mins. - this engages the on-time ones and the late-comers don't miss out important content to the workshop.

Few observations from my all-over-India experience (the major cities where I have trained):
Mumbai - usually on time if the venue is external. If internal then late by about 15 mins. Attitude: apologetic.
Delhi/Gurgaon - usually late by 30 mins. and more . Atttitude:  Attitude: it is okay, I had to travel from the other side of town
Chennai - usually on-time (never started a program late). Attitude: apology and nervous
Bangalore - 15 mins. usual delay (whether venue internal or external). Attitude: apologetic.
Pune - delay of 30 mins - Attitude: it is okay, I had to travel from the other side of town.

[ the above are my experiences based on my clientile - other's may have a complete different experience)

Quotation of the Day