In our Presentation Skills training, we normally advise presenters to be wary of using slides. Even large and professional organisations too often use their slides simply as a place to write everything that the presenter is going to say. The audience is left peering at impossibly-small text and unable to really listen to or appreciate the presenter. We teach ways to present without slides at all, or to design slides that are punchy, visually appealing, and add to (rather than detract from) the presenter.
We enjoy keeping up with innovations in presentation styles which depart from this thinking, in a really exciting way. Have you heard of PechaKucha, for example?
A client recently showed me a list of top 10 tips she'd been given for delivering presentations. Number one on the list was "keep hold of the lectern".
This got me thinking that I don't ever recall seeing a charismatic or effective public speaker who was holding on to the lectern.
Effective speakers move around, make gestures and even abandon a lectern altogether. So why was she (and others) being given this advice?
In the last few years, the use of YouTube, webinars and podcasts has created a very credible rival to class-room based training. For a long time, many people engaged in soft-skills training (communication, leadership, management skills etc.) fought a defensive battle arguing that these skills could only really be delivered face-to-face, since they are, at the core, skills to do with people interacting with one another.
However, as we work more with distributed teams and use these technologies to communicate, lead and manage, then surely our training environments can, and should, adapt in line with these new methods of communication? I look at my own team, which includes a network of many associates, none of whom are co-located with me. We rarely meet up in person, doing the vast majority of our interactions through a mixture of media and communication channels including Skype, telephone, email, webinars, teleconferences, video-conferences, Facebook etc.
There is a place for both face-to-face training AND the use of new media to deliver soft-skills training. I personally took some persuasion. As a self-confessed Luddite I have long resisted the use of YouTube as a learning vehicle. However, increasing evidence of its importance to those around me convinced me that if I am to appeal to all learning styles effectively, then it was time to stop my ostrich impression and start to embrace the possibilities that are constantly emerging.
In our recent programme, From Crisis To Clarity, designed for professionals facing a career change, we created a fully-blended environment, involving:
- live interactive webinars including both teaching new material and live coaching of participants.
- recordings of the webinars made available to listen to offline.
- discussion forums to allow participants to interact with each other.
- confidential real-time messaging to allow participants to discuss their personal progress in private with the tutors.
- face-to-face meet-ups to allow participants to work together in person.
- a variety of video recordings of interviews with relevant experts.
- audio recordings of coaching exercises so that participants could listen and work through the exercises at their own pace and in their own time.
- written material available on-demand to support the learning process.
For a technophobe, I've certainly come a long way! What new ways of learning and communicating have you integrated into your own leadership and management? I'd love to hear about your experiences.
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A miscellany of articles and opinions on communication, leadership and management topics.