I haven’t written much lately, despite having so much to share about my new collaborations in work and the thriving community life here in Aireys Inlet. Life has been full to brim and we have managed to keep a healthy balance between work-family-community-play.
I have just spent a couple of hours reading through my favourite 3 blogs … all written by friends and colleagues. You should check out what Viv McWaters, Johnnie Moore and Chris Corrigan have been writing about recently … because you won’t find too much recent stuff here! That’s about to change as I rediscover my passion for sharing the stuff I notice and learn!
Mark (@herdmeister), a former hot-shot London advertising planner, came to the conclusion that advertising needed to worry less about the usual buzzwords swishing around the industry, and more about the hard science of human behavior.
He calls it “Herd Behavior”. People are hyper-social creatures who behave en masse, not individually. And there’s a lot of new science to back it up.
Which renders a lot of old-school, command-and-control ideas about marketing and business rather misinformed at best, completely wrong at worst.
Marketers love to be lazy, love to think that humans beings are predictable… that if you only say the right thing in a sweet-sounding and clever enough voice, people will magically fall into line. Like some magic lever, just waiting to be pulled. Alas.”
In my own consulting work with clients this “Tyranny of Control” remains a pervasive force and one I find myself challenging constantly. When it comes to my practice of designing for and facilitating group conversations … there is no mechanical lever that sets off a nice, neat set of predictable outcomes. Viv McWaters and Johnnie Moore have written some great stuff on this and they call it the Tyranny of the Explicit. Here’s a little of what Viv has to say …
“Building your commitment muscle takes a leap of faith, often into the unknown. If you need to know what it will be like before you commit (which on the face of it seems reasonable) you will be forever stuck in what Johnnie and I refer to as the Tyranny of the Explicit – needing to know yet more information before acting.
Trailblazers, leaders, innovators all share a willingness to commit without knowing the outcome, without knowing if it will be worth it, without having done a risk analysis. They bust free of the Tyranny of the Explicit.”
So what are you trying to control at the moment? I’ve a got a few thing I need to ‘let-go’ of myself
I have started playing around with Storify again. I am going to introduce some school teachers to Storify during a session this Thursday at my local school. The topic will be on knowledge curation and the social web. I can imagine how useful Storify could be to a teacher.
Please let me know of any other useful tools that teachers can learn to use. Something that helps to store, curate and publish information/ideas/stories/knowledge.
Here is a Storify story that contains the basic content of my session …
There are few forces on earth as powerful as the ocean swells and tides. In response to lunar forces and weather patterns, they shape our coastlines and have the power to transform whole dune systems overnight.
Down here along the coastline of south western Victoria, the vast Southern Ocean plays her tune. She’s unpredictable and only fools dare not respect her power. Pulses of swell travel thousands of kilometers to reach our shores. Each pulse of swell forms a unique wave, different to every wave before it.
The sands along our beaches shift and move beneath the water surface continuously – nothing stays still and everything is moving. When the sandy bottom forms banks of the right shape, the waves on the surface break in long, pleasing lines. This is what brings a smile to face of surfers who call the coast home. When such banks appear on a section of beach, the rumors between locals spread and swarms of wetsuit-clad surfers converge to surf the incoming waves.
The reefs are a more consistant proposition for surfers. The impact of the waves erode and change the reefs over hundreds of years – barely discernible over the career of a surfer. But, like the beach breaks, every wave that breaks across it’s rocky surface is different. The swell size, direction and frequency together with the wind speed and direction are features that all surfers build an understanding of. When all of these factors line up in the sweetspot, everything gets put on hold. Builder’s tools are downed, consultant’s computers go into sleep mode and even some shops will say “Closed, back from surf in 2 hours”. Surfers will happily drive interstate on weekend to catch waves likes theses …
My home town of Aireys Inlet has its own surfing culture and history. There are local’s breaks and secret spots. The one thing that every surfer has respect for is the ocean. Her power and unpredictability. From beautiful and inviting one moment to ugly and menacing the next! Knowing your limits as a surfer and learning to read local conditions are prerequisites. Respect for fellow surfers and an understanding of the culture is just as much a part of it.
Good friends of ours in Aireys grew up in the most south-western coast of Victoria in Portland and Cape Bridewater. They grew up with Adam Robinson and his family and Adam’s incredible surfing skills on on full show in this video. Enjoy the surfing the delights of Cape Bridewater …
Giving your ‘stuff’ away is the new economy. We have moved way beyond a world of production and protection where we sell everything to consumers. Most of us now produce stuff … we share it (for free) … we consume and remix stuff from others. Here is a classic example …
A few months ago I drew this picture – it’s simply a network of how I use and visualise my knowledge flows and social media.
And then someone (Laura Pearle) spotted it on Twitter. Laura had a presentation to give at a conference about uses of social media for personal archiving and she requested to use it. “Of course” I said. So a few months later Laura sent me a link to her presentation. Check out slides 7 and 8. Laura used my picture to ask her audience a question about their own map of personal, online archiving. So my little picture has come back to me in within a context that I can now from. That’s the Gift Economy right there!
Here is a gift from my beautiful neighbours. They lovingly created a 40th birthday message across our front doors at home. I felt honoured (and a little emotional) when I arrived home to see this after a birthday weekend away with family.
And YES, I have just turned 40 … and YES, 1 of my nick-names is “TEDDY”.
‘Story of Name’ as a group process
‘Teddy’ is a nick-name that came from an spare-class that my dad took when in year 9 at High School. Somehow, he let slip that I still slept with a teddy (and yes I admit to that as well!) and then ‘teddy’ stuck as a nick-name. 2 decades later ‘teddy’ has returned as a nickname in my home town.
This is the story that I usually tell when kick-starting a group process known as “Story of Your Name”. I am always moved by people’s stories and surprised at the way this activity connects people together.
Viv McWaters and I use ‘Story of Name’ a when we run our Insanely Great Slideshow Presentations training. The purpose has been to demonstrate how stories engage an audience and how stories (and therefore people’s names) are so easily remembered. I have now discovered another way to use this process.
Naturalness when presenting
When we tell the story of our name, we know the content intimately and we don’t need prior rehearsal or a script – we improvise and allow the story to emerge. I am willing to bet that if we gave participants time to plan and script their name-stories, they would be dull and less engaging. In the moment of the activity, there is no room or time for being clever or trying-hard to be engaging or funny.
Let’s go to the videotape!
A few weeks ago I decided to raise the stakes and video the stories-of-names with a group. These participants gathered to learn how to design and deliver slideshow presentations, so it served a purpose. Despite the increased pressure an iPhone recording their every word, participants managed to do what they always do … tell compelling, short stories about some aspect of their name.
I then played the video back to everyone and invited them to observe themselves and others in relation to their own story and individual delivery styles. Most people recognised themselves as “just being myself”. And quickly, the group realised that “just being ourselves” is not only accessible for everyone, it’s also effective and engaging.
Our Natural Game!
I work with many people who have done training programs to hone their presentation skills. They have been taught about making eye contact with the audience … not to fidget and pace … do this … don’t do that … etc etc.
After having rediscovered Tim Gallway’s ‘The Inner Game’ series of books recently, I was reminded of the Inner Game practices I used when playing state-level tennis years ago. In Inner Tennis, Tim uses simple activities to improve the mind’s ability to focus on what matter’s most. He introduces games like ‘bounce-hit’ to help quieten the conscious/egotistical mind (known as Self 1) and allow our ‘Natural Game’ to surface (known as Self 2).
Our natural game is restricted when Self 1 is focussing on the expert-coach’s instructions like ‘watch the ball’ … take the racket back low … put your right foot forward … grip the racket like this … don’t move your head … stand side on … AAARRRGHH!
When presenting, it’s nerve racking enough. My advice, do what we do when telling the Story of Our Name … BE YOURSELF and KNOW YOUR STORY. Your natural-ness is your greatest gift.
Naturalness when presenting
I am reading Garr Reynolds’ book The Naked Presenter and enjoying it immensely. Here are some thoughts about naturalness from Garr that add to my ideas above …
“… the fundamentals of what makes an effective presentation today are essentially the same as they ever were, and naturalness in delivery remains a key”
“This naturalness is not something that can be forced. The legendary Dale Carnegie said ‘To be truly effective, you must speak with such intensified and exalted naturalness that your auditors would never dream that you have been trained”
The Fear of Failure and on overactive Self 1
I written much about the ‘fear of failure’ and when we give presentations, the it is amplified for many of us. Our inner voice (Self 1) says things like … you won’t remember (so we script notes and add bullet points) … what will my boss think? … I must remember to to do this … do that … etc. In response to fear we burden ourselves with too many instructions and ideas and tips from the training!
“Presenting naturally is hard because we are not in the habit. But it hasn’t alway been that way. When we were younger and performed ‘show & tell’ at the front of the class, we were honest and engaging. It was real. We told great stories and we were only 6!”
Then Garr writes about the fear of failure …
“One reason we are so dull as adult presenters is because we are overly cautious. We are afraid. We want everything to safe and perfect, so we overthink and put up a great many barriers. We’re afraid so we retreat, however unconsciously, and play it safe by hiding behind a stack of bulleted lists in a darkened room in a style void of emotion.”
When tell the ‘story of our name’ to other workshop participants, we are being ourselves (no matter how nervous we are feeling). We also know our story – our name is part of who we are. The story of your name is also part of a conversation with the group and it’s alway engaging and emotional. Best of all, we don’t even need powerpoint slides to get the story across.
In Sum …
Tell a story that you know well
Look at your presentation like it’s a conversation – not a 1 way speech
Remember that ‘who you are’ is what the audience will connect with, not the ‘highly trained and polished’ you. We learn from the world of Improv Theatre then to Put Down Your Clever & Pick Up Your Ordinary