Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More unplugged please

I love images in presentations. I love the Keynote (Apple's power point) software. I love high quality carefully selected, conceptual images, as a picture does paint a thousand words.

AND...try presenting without any!

In a high tech world, a low-tech approach could make the difference.

Try this next time you present, pitch or attempt to engage a group...

  1. Put up one big slide with either a montage of images or a series of statements, graffiti style on the screen. Don't look at it, don't refer to it just let it be a backdrop to your fabulous presentation.
  2. Draw a diagram with your body. If you have an X Y graph or a 4-box quadrant model, animate it with your physicality as you move across the stage.
  3. Tell more stories.
I have a friend, Peter Sheahan who is a world class presenter and he uses a graphic tablet to draw his models so that they have an unplugged vibe, but work in large audience environments.

Unplug your technology to plug in your audience. You might be surprised with the results!

Matt Church

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pattern recognition as a leadership skill

Pattern recognition is a key skill used by futurists. My friend Craig Rispin is Australia's leading thinker on 'Tomorrow'. He has written a brilliant book called How to Think Like a Futurist . It is this issues gift to all readers.

One of the Futurist skills that I think all leaders can develop is the ability to recognise patterns .
In his latest best seller How to Love , Psychotherapist Gordon Livingston MD explains that when choosing partners in business and life, we need to see the clusters of peoples behaviours and what they indicate, rather than reacting to the single incidents. He makes a case for the challenges of reacting to peoples ‘stuff'.

My friend Lorna Patten is a relationship expert who teaches people the power of getting above the content in communication and understanding the context of what is going on in any relationship dynamic. This is pattern recognition . It is about treating causes not symptoms.
One exercise you can use to develop this ability is to recall several turning points in your life and explore what meaning you have attached to those events. You are looking for repeating patterns. Once you understand the pattern, you get to choose new responses.
You ask yourself, ‘what have I made that incident mean?' You then get to rise above the incident and get to the real issue behind it. In mediation, conflict resolution and any communication dynamic this is an essential skill. It breaks deadlocks, shifts behaviour and helps replace confusion with clarity.

Think in levels
  1. What happened? the content or stuff
  2. What am I making that mean? the concept or meaning
  3. What is it really about? the context or big picture
For example, you may think
  1. What happened? A staff member does not meet a deadline for a project.
  2. What am I making that mean? They are not reliable.
  3. What is it really about? Trust.
Don't get bogged down in the stuff, but try to understand through step 2 what they are making it about.

For example, they may be thinking
  1. What happened? Did not meet a deadline.
  2. What are they making that mean? Was not given as much direction by my boss and did not feel confident I could ask for it.
  3. What is it really about? Support
If you keep having the TRUST conversation, but your staff is having the SUPPORT conversation in their head, you will have a failure to communicate.

Leaders are adaptable and if you choose to be the leader in any situation, you are choosing to be the one who changes their approach to move or shift people toward a better future.

Look for patterns and address the patterns instead of the stuff.

Matt Church

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The importance of authenticity

Leadership authenticity requires amplification. Leaders are in the spotlight, their actions, comments and responses to almost everything are put through a filter. It's like living under a microscope.

A senior business leader friend of mine went through intense scrutiny a while back and every email, every report was put through a high level of analysis. He is a man of great character and so nothing was amiss, it was a witch-hunt.

The thing I most understood, after watching my mate from a distance, was how important it was for his actions, words and deeds to be truly his. Without that consistent character, that genuine authenticity, there would have been a terrible outcome. I don't think we will all have to go through a trial by fire like my friend, but we can learn from his example.

  1. Know who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
  2. Be strong in your weaknesses. Own and be OK with what you are not good at.
  3. Make no promises you cannot keep.
  4. Be impeccable with your word.
  5. Encourage truth, trust and transparency.

This last point was taught to me by another friend and teacher David Penglase. He teaches many things, including leadership and ethics. His test is a simple one. If kids were watching you do something, would you be OK still doing it? As a dad this one strikes home.

As a leader, you need to amplify your authentic self. Turn up YOU when you turn up.

Matt Church

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Subject Matter Experts

Subject matter experts are those people in your business with knowledge about how to do things better. They have something to offer an industry or a sector. They make a difference on your projects as what they know has a direct impact on how others do things in your business. They are your Thought Leaders.

They are innovators and original thinkers!

Often they don't realise that they are and even if they do, they don't always have the skills to communicate those ideas in a way that others get them.

In a recent study by Rainmaker, the online platform for sales and marketing professionals, they placed speaking at conferences and tradeshows and producing white papers as some of the best ways of selling any product or service. The thinking is that people trust people and that expertise and authority are true business currencies.

How are you developing your expertise or nurturing the talent in your organisation to stand up and be regarded as Thought Leaders?

Matt Church