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Welcome to

The Standup Trainer Newsletter

January 2008

Brought to you by Ellen Dowling, PhD ("The Standup Trainer") and the fine folks of Dowling & Associates, Inc.



This newsletter is guaranteed certifiably useful as well as amusing. (If you are not completely satisfied, there are unsubscribe instructions at the end.)

In this issue:

•  An Icebreaker

•  Advice on Careers in the Presenting Biz

•  More About Teaching in China

1. First, a letter from one of our brilliant readers (is there any other kind?), Dr. Joan Coff:

One of my patients attended a communication styles class for management at his company and brought back this idea for warming up the attendees:

The presenter passed around a roll of toilet paper, explaining that it was chilly in the room, and allergy season was upon them, and who hadn't used TP for a tissue now and then. He then asked each participant to take some off the roll in case they needed it as there was not a box of tissues in the whole conference center. He told them to stand up and tell the audience one thing about themselves for each square of TP they had. Other participants were instructed to raise their hand when they heard something that they had in common with the speaker.

My client tells me there was a lot of giggling and whoo hooing going on through this event, and it did warm the class up!

Thank you, Dr. Joan! [Anyone else want to share an unusual icebreaker or other activity? Please let us know!]

2. And now, a request from another brilliant reader:

Dear Dr. Standup:

I am currently between jobs after working in the hospitality business for many years as a manager. I really enjoyed the facilitating training sessions part of the job most and believe I did a good job at it from the responses I received.

The challenge I have now is trying to find work in that arena with 90% of the job concentrated on giving presentations in any field. I enjoy health-related topics as well as sports, and love working with people.

Can you give me any pointers about what I can do to build a career that uses my presentation/facilitation skills?

Time for a Change

Dear Time:

I'm going to answer your question with another question: Are you trying to find a salaried position that will allow you to make presentations and/or facilitate groups 90% of the time? Or are you looking to set up your own business as a speaker/consultant?

Let's assume you want to stay “internal.” It strikes me that the best place for a person with your talents would be in the public relations department of a company. The title “spokesperson” definitely comes to mind. As such, you would be able to showcase your presentation skills by conducting press briefings, press conferences, and the like. You might also be asked to assist other head honchos in the company when they are asked to give a “talk,” say, to the local Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce.

Likewise, your company might turn to you as an “internal consultant” to help facilitate such events as board retreats, conferences, and brainstorming/problem-solving meetings. If you are planning to follow this path, you definitely should look for postings highlighting these kinds of job titles:

•  Public Relations

•  Media Relations

•  Internal Consultant

If you'd rather choose the road less taken, you could become a professional speaker/facilitator. (Your motto could be, “Have podium, will speak.” Or, “Have flipchart, will facilitate.”) In this case, you would need to focus on a list of marketable topics. “Health-related Things,” is not good. You'll need something like, “The One-Minute Brain Surgeon” or “The All the Chocolate You Can Eat Miracle Diet!” or “Extreme Croquet: A Total Body Work Out.” (Just kidding, but you know what I mean.)

You might want to consider joining a group like the National Speaker's Association, where you can hone your after-dinner-talking skills and learn how to market yourself on the speaker circuit. You might also want to read, Yes You Can!: Behind the Hype and Hustle of the Motivation Biz , which will give you an extensive behind-the-scenes look at the billion-dollar-a-year professional speaking industry. (Of course, most of that billion was earned just last year by former President Bill Clinton, who—I hear— gets around $150,000 per speech . OK, so maybe you should run for president first, and THEN start up your own company. Candidates for president get LOTS of public speaking time.)

You can get a lot of help promoting your facilitation skills by joining the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) or the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), where you won't make a lot of money (in fact, you won't make any directly) but you may be able to locate some good contacts for future gigs. And while you're waiting for those lucrative gigs to kick in, you could always volunteer your facilitation services to your church, your community center, or that loud quarrelling family just down the block from you. (“Hi! I'm your friendly neighborhood facilitator. Is there a problem here I can help you solve? Could you just move your stockpile of weapons for a sec while I set up this white board?”)

3. Bulletin from Beijing :

I am back again in the People's Republic of China (my sixth time here) and as always, my MBA students are amazing. I'm teaching four different “Executive Communication” classes here this time, which is my excuse for why there was no December issue of this newsletter (mea culpa).

My students are now finishing their classes and I am evaluating their final group presentations. Today I saw the following topics presented:

“How to Live a Healthy Life,” with “before” and “after” examples of a formerly obese woman, “Faaat Cao,” and a previously emaciated man, “Weeaak Li,” both of whom changed their diet and way of life and found success and happiness. (Faaat is now a glamorous movie star/cover girl and Weeaak is the new center for the L.A. Lakers.)

“The I-Spy Collection,” a series of gadgets that we certainly cannot live without, including a belt that beeps when an attractive single person approaches (the wearer, of course, being also single and looking) and also locates your car when you lose it in the parking lot. (I personally want one of these.)

“The Be a Beijing Billionaire Show,” in which the Chinese versions of Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera co-hosted a TV show where two billionaire wannabes competed to see who could come up with the best marketing plan for a local hotel. (The winner gets a billion dollars. Or maybe it was a billion yuan?)

“Help Us Help a Migrant Worker School,” a plea for assistance (both personal and monetary) to help improve the conditions at one of Beijing 's many elementary schools for the children of the migrant workers who are here building the Olympic venues. (This one was a real tearjerker.)

They were all fabulous. Indeed, they were light years better than in their first round of presentations, several weeks ago. And most of them were speaking in their second language. (There are only four native English speakers out of more than 80 students.) It is such a joy to see your students succeed. Ah, yes, another idea for our “Time for a Change” questioner: Why don't you consider becoming a teacher? You can be a speaker AND a facilitator in the classroom.

That's it for this month! If you enjoyed this newsletter please do pass it on to your friends. (Or send them to www.standuptrainer.com to get their own subscription. Why should YOU have to do everything for them?)

If you have a suggestion for something we could do to make this newsletter even MORE useful as well as amusing, please contact us:

Dowling & Associates, Inc.

Ellen Dowling, President

(505) 307-1700