Why not put an end to boring communication?

Here is where I share my ideas and comments about human to human communication. I am mainly interested in communication in a organizational setting. My primary focus is on presentation design and delivery. But I will also be exploring storytelling, writing and some basic design principals. These seem to be undervalued areas of communication in our organizations.
 
I focus on sales presentations at my Win Your Presentation site. So if you are selling an idea, product or service you may want to check that site out as well.
 
I belief that organizations that communicate better perform better. Boring ourselves, our clients or customers is not OK anymore. Please let me know what you think. I am always interested in new perspectives.

Joe Pops

R2BB

An inspiring reason why you need to show the world what you believe in.

 
Three men walked up to the medals podium at the 1968 summer Olympic games in Mexico City. They were about to receive their medals for the men’s 200 meters. All three men were wearing The Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badge on the left side of their jackets. Wearing unapproved emblems is not allowed in the Olympic Games. They defied that policy.
 
Two of the men were Tommie Smith and John Carlos of the United States. They show an additional act of defiance by giving a Black Power salute during their national anthem. They were protesting both racial inequality and black poverty. What’s often not seen is that they were not wearing shoes on the podium to symbolize poverty.
 
In his autobiography Tommie Smith later said that the salute was not a “Black Power” salute, but a “human rights salute”. The action they took on the podium is one of the most impactful political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.
 
Smith and Carlos’s actions caused an uproar in the US. Both men were sent home from the Olympics and severely ostracized. Death threats are made against them and their families. Their act of defiance makes headlines across all the US news media. But today both are widely accepted as heroes for standing up for what they believed in. They amplified the message of the civil rights movement on a world stage.
 
But what about the third man? He wore the The Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badge on his jacket as well. What happened to Peter Norman (the silver medalist) from Australia?
 
It’s not well known but there was also a civil rights movement in Australia in the 1960s. Aboriginal and non-aboriginal activists were campaigning for equal civil rights for indigenous Australians. They were fighting for the repeal of laws which deprived indigenous Australians of their civil liberties. By wearing the OPHR badge on the Olympic Games podium Peter Norman also showed an act of defiance. A white Australian man stands up for what he believes in on the world stage. You see, Smith and Carlos didn’t ask him to wear the badge, before the ceremony he asked them if they had another one.
 
Like Smith and Carlos, Peter Norman was ostracized for his act. For the act of wearing the OPHR badge on the podium that day. He made headlines across the Australian news media and is “unofficially” black balled from his sport. He is denied a spot on the 1972 Australian Olympic team even though he qualifies at a number of pre-Olympic events.
 
John Carlos later stated that “If we were getting beat up, Peter was facing an entire country and suffering alone.” Banned from the sport he loved Norman makes a living coaching. Throughout his life he has problems with drugs and alcohol and dies in 2006 at the age of 64. At his funeral Smith and Carlos are among his pallbearers.
 
It takes the Australian government 44 years before they officially recognize Peter Norman. In their apology they state, “The Australian Parliament apologizes to Peter Norman for the treatment he received upon his return to Australia, and the failure to fully recognize his inspirational role before his untimely death in 2006.”
In an interview in 2012 John Carlos says “ There’s no-one in the nation of Australia that should be honored, recognized, appreciated more than Peter Norman for his humanitarian concerns, his character, his strength and his willingness to be a sacrificial lamb for justice.”
 
On October 1968 he wore a simple badge on his jacket. A badge that demonstrated what he believed in.
 
Peter Norman is still the Australian 200 meter record holder.
R2BB

The remarkable reason why so many presentations are boring.

I climbed to the summit of Mount Stupid on October 15th 2007. At the time I was attending a course on presentation design/delivery sponsored by IBM. I was looking for some “tips” to improve my presentations. But I didn’t believe that the course would offer much. After all, I had been presenting for years. I was very confident I was a good presenter. And yet, by the end of the first day of that course, I fell into the Valley of Despair (see below). I realized, even after all the years of experience, I knew almost nothing about giving presentations. I was a living breathing example of the Dunning Kruger effect.

(Graphic and terminology adapted from the Xonitek blog, Lessons from Mt. Stupid)

When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.                                                                                  Dunning and Kruger

David Dunning and Justin Kruger first observed the effect in a series of experiments in 1999. They were psychologists in the department of psychology at Cornell University. They found that people can grossly overestimate their ability in some skill areas. This phenomenon of over-estimating competence was seen in a wide range of skills. This included things like the practice of medicine to playing chess. I believe the Dunning-Kruger effect is also seen in giving presentations.

Surveys of participants of my “Win Your Presentation” workshops show evidence of the effect. The surveys often show a good level of confidence in their presentation skills. This is often contrary to the level of training and knowledge in these same skill areas. Also, surveys show presenters rate the majority of presentations they attend as audience members as only OK or even boring. Again, this is in contrast to how they rate themselves. These contradictions are seen across a wide range of presenting experience.

The Dunning – Kruger Effect could be a major barrier to improvement for many presenters. Presenters under the Effect, may be the cause of the infamous “death by PowerPoint”. They don’t know what they don’t know. And since they don’t know, they have no way of assessing their own skill level.

Since that day in October of 2007 I have been climbing the Slope of Enlightenment. The goal of my “Win Your Presentation” workshops is to help others reach the summit of Mount Stupid. They can then descend to the Valley of Despair. It’s only then they can begin their climb up the Slope of Enlightenment. The result being a knowledge and skill level where they can go out and win their presentations.

See you on Mount Stupid?

Joe Pops
R2BB