Archive for the 'Presenting' Category


I’m back at my Meisner acting class. Barbara likes to say:

an actor without an opinion is like an athlete without a game plan!

It’s a powerful idea. Actors who have strong opinions have presence. You can’t take your eyes off them! Their scenes are compelling.

Is it a powerful idea in business? An opinion could be a vision, mission, strategy or a value. But opinions sound like they are more personal, less corporate. Personal opinions have a stronger influence on behaviour – in acting, in business and in life.

Should leaders have stronger personal opinions?  Is this what makes them so effective? I often wonder if we are developing  a cohort of senior managers in leadership competency, only to find they don’t have a personal opinion on what leadership means to them. Their leadership understanding and knowledge doesn’t translate into compelling action. I think leadership should start with a strong personal opinion on life.

Perhaps also, it is easier to trust people with strong opinions?  You may not agree with their opinion.  But strong opinions make people more purposeful, have a stronger presence and more predictable in their behaviour.

Strong opinions may be powerful, but they may also be dangerous. It obviously depends on what the opinion is. But more dangerously, opinions start to define how you see and experience the world in ways that reinforce themselves. Always dangerous in a rapidly changing world.

Perhaps we can all have strong opinions that are loosely held? Is that possible?


Less is More

A quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery.

“You know you have achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add,

but when you have nothing more to take away”


Push Me Pull Me

I recently spotted some interesting research by Ronald Friedman and Jens Forster. They’re a couple of social psychologists.

In 2002 experiements the found that ingrained in our brains is an association between the act of pulling and positive feelings. While the act of pushing is associated with negative feelings.

I think it’s fascinating how interconnected the mind and body are!

Also it’s fascinating that the current business trend to greater consumer pull (rather than organisational push) has a foundation in neuro-physiology! Is this why pull works better in business and organisations?

Applied to communication ‘pull’ is less about pre-designed messages and channels and more about listening, empathisising, provoking, and engaging in the moment. It’s more about letting meaning emerge. It’s less about leading and more about meeting.

Well sometimes anyway.

Improv Wisdom

I’m enjoying Patricia Madson’s quick book at the moment. Improv Wisdom – don’t prepare just show up!

Here are her 13 maxims for life.

  1. say yes (to everything).
  2. don’t prepare.
  3. just show up.
  4. start anywhere.
  5. be average.
  6. pay attention.
  7. face the facts.
  8. stay on course.
  9. wake up to the gifts.
  10. make mistakes, please.
  11. act now
  12. take care of each other.
  13. enjoy the ride.

Sounds like a great manifesto to me. But I think it takes a lot of preparation to be unprepared. Just as it takes a musician years of practice to be unprepared and jam.

My top 8 communication principles

I’m distilling my work in coaching communication into what I think are the most useful principles for effective communication. Here’s my top eight.

  1. Be flexible. The person with the greatest communication flexibility has the greatest control over their results. If you’re not getting the results you want, change your communication.
  2. Seek first to understand (Covey).Communication is all about perception and perception is driven by perspective. To be an effective communicator, seek first to understand …. other’s perspectives!
  3. Have something to say. Know who you are and be clear on what it is you want to say in your world. What do you want your audience to … think, feel and do!
  4. Keep it simple. If you can’t communicate it in 90 seconds, you won’t be clear after 90 minutes or longer.
  5. Be bold. The first challenge is to get people’s attention. Make the communication stand out. Do the unexpected. Be unpredictable.
  6. Use emotion. Emotion is that personal force that drives (or hinders) our achievement of the significant things in our lives. Learn to use it to reach others hearts as well as their heads.
  7. Be yourself. Once you find out eactly who that is! It’s usually enough.
  8. Get out of your own way. Let go of personal agendas and ego.

Would you change these? Add others?

Tales of Passion

Here’s a great example of the power of emotion. Author and activist Isabel Allende delivers  tales of passion. What I love about this is that Isabel has you laughing one moment and sad the next. The video runs for 17 minutes, but you’ll see what I mean by 5 minutes 02. It’s quite a performance.

Also I think we need more NZ’s that meet her requirements for good characters – mavericks, dissidents, outsiders, adventurers and rebels. Those with a passionate heart.

Tailoring the message

I had to smile today as I walked past the preacher on Lambton Quay. He has been there since I can remember. His message is usually along the lines of – we are all sinners, repent before it’s too late, etc. He never seems to get much traction with the passing foot traffic.

Right at the moment, the world seems to be impoding internationally due to the banking crisis. Today his message was – smile, it’s not that bad! At least he’s thinking about his audience. I didn’t stop today but will next time and talk to him about his apparent change of heart.

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