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Graham Neil discusses should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

At the start of any new year we all make resolutions, promises to ourselves, and commitments we mean to keep. Sadly, by the end of January, more often than not, we've managed to break most of our resolutions, and carry on throughout the year in a similar routine to the previous.

While most social habits such as quitting smoking, or reducing alcohol intake, cutting out chocolate, or mid afternoon snacks can prove too great for all but the dogged determined, the beginning of a year is a time of opportunity, of planning and goals.

It's a time and opportunity to break bad communication habits, and clarify yourself. To find greater meaning in work. And also the time where after returning to work, you may well feel the need for change, for greater and new challenges. But where should you start? And how can you employ the basics of presenting to help you reach your professional goals for the year ahead?

Presentation Article and Advice about Communicating Your Message

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Graham Neil, Presentation Consultant,

Mind over matter

We've all been there one year or another. Returning to work after the holidays and thinking, "I need a change". And whilst for many those first feelings and thoughts are often put to rest after a couple of hours, days, or even weeks. Perhaps one should first ask why?

In many situations we learn to trust our instincts. To rely on our "gut feelings".

And yet in other ways we try to ignore what our minds are telling us and put it down to mental unrest or just one of those things that happens every now and then.

Though I hate to say this, Donald trump once said something intelligent. Saying, "People always ask me what's the most important thing in business to become a success?" Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with sculpting a unique hair cut like Donald himself, or Don King to gain instant recognition. No it was something far deeper. He said, "If you don't like what you do. If what you do doesn't make you happy. Quit. You can't be successful at something that doesn't motivate you to be successful." And to think for years all I thought that motivated Donald was a young blonde with an eye for thick wallets.

In all seriousness, he is absolutely right. And this principle is not only true of your vocation and position.

Big is not always beautiful and certainly never enough

I was once at an International Business Conference, when approximately mid-way through the agenda, a speaker from one of the world's largest consulting companies took the stage to talk about people management.

The speaker took to the stage and introduced himself. A very well spoken and articulate gentleman, the immediate impression given was one of an educated professional, and his voice made his words seemingly weighted and important.

However, as he entered his presentation, he began to skip through slides saying things such as, "and this slide...erm...we can just skip through this one", and "here's some more information about the effects", clicking through hurriedly not allowing the audience to view the slide.

Within ten minutes of his presentation the audience became unsettled, so much so that people around me began muttering and individuals began to talk amongst themselves, and the whole notion of the presentation was more for community building than people management.

As the speech ended, the host for the event took to the stage to request a round of applause for the speaker and present the opportunity for questions. The applause was muted and all hands remained down.

What happened? Well let us first examine the situation, what started as an opportunity to address a very attentive audience, ended in a one-man show addressing where his audience was simply himself. The speaker did not communicate with his audience, he never took the opportunity to relate to them. He appeared instead to be thinking out loud, "and this slide...erm...we can just skip through this one".

Added to this was the stigmatism, and the position he retained in working for one of the world's largest consulting groups, his attitude in parallel with his voice projected an arrogance. An arrogance and stance of his audience as superfluous, as incidental.

In short the speaker not only alienated himself from his audience, he further appeared to patronize and condescend them, turning their attention, trust, and optimism away.

For love or money?

If a friend or colleague of the speaker was honest to him, and asked "Why do you speak about this subject or to audiences you don't care about? It's obvious you don't like this, or are uninterested in doing this". What do you think the response might be? And what do you think the underlying motivations for this speaker to address an audience really are? Because he is made to by his boss? Or because he is paid to?

Whatever the reason, we can be sure it is not because he wants to.

In this start of the New Year, let us hope that this individual re-evaluates his position, re-examines his professional goals, and has the strength of character to follow his instincts.

So let us for a moment believe that this individual was in fact similar to you or I and that we in addition exert similar qualities to our professions. What should we do? Should we believe in Mr. Trump and resign, and do what one distant friend always seems to do. Walk out on his or her job and "travel" for a year, or go to the Himalayan mountains and stay with a group of Tibetan monks?

For those I'm afraid I can offer little advice beyond that of good travel insurance. But for those uncertain in their current position, thoughtful of the future, and perhaps even contemplating a change, lets try to use our basics as presenters and communicators to help us resolve our thoughts and clarify our goals.

Sing when you're winning

As presenters we address our audience. We usually prepare a subject, topic, or related conference theme that is relevant to an event or situation.

In much the same way that Eminem would never be able to sing Puccini's Nessun Dorma, he would if perhaps forced, try, and to the audience, the results would be far from interesting or worthy of attention. As a result, Eminem doesn't "do" opera. Nor indeed does he do country, soul, or rhythm and blues. Eminem is by default a rapper, and what Eminem does best is rap. What he does second best, is sing everything else which is why you are only asked to purchase Eminem's rap CD and DVD's.

So to the question could Eminem be as successful, as widely popular, and regarded today if he were singing only covers of Simon and Garfunkel be true? We can all safely assume the answers to be a definite no no.

If we apply the same thinking to ourselves, and consider what it is that motivates us most when we speak, are you comfortable with your current rap? Or are you being forced to sing some Verdi here and there? Perhaps you're in actuality a soprano forced to sing ABBA?

Whatever your situation, if at the start of the year your feelings leaned more towards, thoughts of the future, and contemplation for change, you are more likely not selling out stadiums or hitting number one.

Simple adjustments in considering what themes or topics motivate you most and generate most passion are ones to detail as subjects you wish to communicate to audiences.

Good communication is good business

I remember giving a speech last year, and I heard the general secretary of the main sponsoring organization say to her president on the front row, "My god, he doesn't even use cue cards".

The speakers before me followed their PowerPoint presentations, or read slyly from their cue cards at the podium. But such was my enthusiasm for my designated subject of discussion that I traversed throughout the audience with a cordless microphone. No cue cards. No PowerPoint. Just a genuine love for the subject and a passion for communicating my observations and knowledge with my audience. After all it isn't always possible to motivate a large group of people by simply standing behind a set of microphones and talking to them. Ask any president with a brother whose a governor.

And what was the result of my passion and unexpected speech? I was asked if I would consider a consulting role by over 29 organizations that day. And if I were a business man, would I want my presenters to be able to generate that much interest in my products and services, or would I want my presenters to generate the kind of feelings felt after our well spoken gentleman at the International Business Conference?

Doing what you don't like will never make you good. It will always leave you incomplete. Doing what you're good at, is what makes you good.

Would the real Slim Shady please stand up

As this new year begins, consider what it is that you are good at? If you're not doing it at work then ask yourself why not? Could you speak with your boss and explain what it is you are good at and what you could do for your organization if you were allowed to communicate these strengths?

A good employer will always want to bring the best out of his or her employees and colleagues. But if you never set aside the time to sit with your employer and clearly state your case you will most likely be having the same "gut feelings" this time next year.

There has never been a time before in our global economy where information has moved faster, distances grown shorter, and opportunities made greater.

Individuals like Eminem have made success through their observations of culture and society, and rather than sing of love and peace, have chosen to speak these observations through rap music to their audiences. These observations and messages have been absorbed, acknowledged, even exalted in extreme instances. But such has been the success of Eminem's communication that his audience await with anticipation and hang on every word of his lyrics.

Like J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter book series, such is her audiences eager anticipation; titles are pre-ordered months in advance of completion.

Eminem never started life as a rapper. J. K. Rowling never started life as an author. Neither had illusions of grandeur and wealth either. Success has brought its own rewards. And perhaps if Eminem had never followed his instincts he would now be working down at your local 7 Eleven, still angry and opinionated, but with no channel to express himself. And if Miss Rowling had never followed her "gut feelings" and taken the financial loan that enabled her to write her first novel, perhaps the world would never have heard of Hogwarts and Quidditch?

So perhaps 2008 should be a year of change? Perhaps it's a year to present your thoughts to your employer and express your strengths and needs to focus upon them? Or perhaps 2010 is a year like any other year? Merely a year where the dreams of what you feel you could be doing are struck down by the thoughts of what such implications would be involved?

Whatever 2010 has in store, let us hope that it is one where the subjects you discuss are one's which can motivate and inspire you, and the topics of which you communicate are one's that will enthuse your audience.
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