Five years of imparting corporate trainings in the areas of public speaking, presentation skills and charisma have taught me many lessons. Based on all the feedback I received at the end of the sessions, here are 10 of my biggest lessons learned. As always, all my views are of subjective nature. We all have to find our own ways and styles. Feel free to comment and share your lessons learned.
1 Create your own content
If you use second-hand information, you better be a rock star cover band. But – will any U2 cover band ever come close to the real U2 experience? Original content beats copied content. Don’t be a cover band; be U2!
2 Be one of them
The Romans called it primus inter pares – first among equal. Yes, you’re the master of ceremony. Yes, you rule the agenda. Yes, you are the facilitator of change. But – if you want them to inhale team spirit, first you have to exhale it. Sit with them, not apart. Have lunch with them, not alone. Go for an after beer with the team. Be one of them.
3 Participate in the exercises
An ethos (credibility) super booster is to participate in the exercises. Again, you’re one of them. But there’s more to it. By participating you show vulnerability. You’re not perfect and people love to see perfect imperfection. Walk the talk and participate!
4 Do short breaks
Thank you for smoking. A great movie and an inspiration for my agendas. I do several short breaks instead of a few long ones. For the smokers. The few smokers that are left in this world just love me. There’s another reason. After 30 to 45 minutes the level of concentration goes down like the stock market on Black Tuesday. Short breaks are the Red Bull of attention.
5 Play music in the breaks
I love music. All sorts of music. During the breaks in my trainings I always play music. With Spotify I can easily create playlists that speak to the hearts of the training participants. Abba, U2 and Queen are always a safe choice. Younger teams, more modern songs. More experienced teams, some Bruce, Beatles or Eagles here and there. And Hollywood theme songs never fail with anyone.
6 Reduce the use of slides
Theory is good, practical exercises are better. Kick out those content-driven slides that hardly anyone wants to see. Use more storytelling, more interaction, more action. I do use PowerPoint. But I use it more for visualizing certain aspects. For my 15 steps to greater speaking I use 15 Hollywood images, e.g. Here’s looking at you kid for eye contact.
7 Use flip chart
Better than slides, for me, is the use of flip chart. It’s more tangible, more creative, more energetic. You can draw flow charts, images or use acronyms and explain one letter after another while completing the words. Be creative; use more paper and marker.
8 Be a pain in the a***
Always smile; always be kind, always help, but never stop being a pain in the a***. The word No doesn’t exist. Good training means comfort zone destruction. It’s not easy for people to leave their comfort zones. You are the facilitator of change. Once you allow a No all your motivational power goes down the toilette. The next one will step back as well. Be pushy, incisive, demanding, cruel at times. Never accept a No as an answer. Be that smiling pain!
9 Give positive and constructive feedback only
On this planet, in this universe, people will never grow with negative feedback. Negative feedback is poison for personal growth. It keeps people small. It chains people to their current self. Only positive PLUS feedback and constructive PLUSPLUS feedback will boost personal growth. You can turn any negative feedback into PLUSPLUS comments. For example, I didn’t like how you… into I would’ve like it more if you had…
10 Be energetic at all times
When I was a teenager I used to work during the summers to earn some extra money. Three times I worked for a construction company in my Northern Bavarian hometown Coburg. I’ll never forget how two of us had to carry up concrete steps of a staircase to the fifth floor. Each one of them weighed 60 kg (132 lbs). It took a massive amount of energy to keep carrying those concrete steps up to the top floor. Your training participants are those steps. Without energy you cannot carry them anywhere. Be energetic when you move; be energetic when you speak, be energetic when you explain, be energetic when you write. Even when you are silent, be energetic. Be energetic at all times!