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Welcome to

The Standup Trainer Newsletter

October 2005  

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. But we're betting you'll change your mind by the time you get there.)

Welcome to all new and continuing subscribers!

Coming soon to Albuquerque!
A dynamic, interactive, 2-hour workshop:

Dealing with Difficult People

Conducted by Dr. Ellen Dowling
November 14th, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
at the MCM Hotel Elegante
(on Menaul just east of University)

$59 per person (includes lunch and handouts)
Visit www.standuptrainer.com to register (or for more information)

In this issue:

1. Presentation Horror Story of the Month
Whoops! Did you see that slide? What slide?

2. Presentation Hall of Shame
The eyes, they say, are the windows of the soul. Is that why so many presenters don't want to look at their audiences?

3. Presentation Skills Book Review
Yes, but will it sell in China?

4. Useful Online Resource of the Month
Speak the speech I pray you, trippingly on the tongue . . . .

1. Presentation Horror Story of the Month

[Editor's Note: Have you a good story to tell about the time SOMETHING WENT WRONG at a presentation you were giving (or attending)? We are soliciting submissions for this segment of our newsletter. If your story is chosen, you will receive a FREE copy of either of Ellen's two books, The Standup Trainer or Presenting with Style (your choice). Simply send your story (just a couple of paragraphs will be fine) to edowling@standuptrainer.com.]

The winner of this month's contest is Matthew Zamora, Customer Service Representative Coordinator for Charter Bank and a student in Ellen's "Presentation Skills for Trainers" class, offered by UNM Continuing Education's Training and Development in Instructional Technology certificate program.

I was giving a presentation about how to use the Bank's new Online Product. The meeting was set-up as a "brown-bag" overhead projection session, meaning employees could come to the meeting at their leisure and learn about the new product during their lunch hour. It just so happens that the President of the company (Owner as well) decided to attend this particular session.

Part of my presentation was to demonstrate how one can view images of checks and/or deposits that have cleared their account. For security and privacy reasons, I used an internal (company) account. In my excitement, I neglected to review the images (for content) that had cleared this particular account. The first image I clicked on, which happened to have the highest dollar amount from the list of items, was made out to the Owner of the company and his family!!!

I immediately looked over and noticed the President of the company was busy eating his lunch and did not notice the large image on the wall of a very large check made out to him!!! In my panic, I ended up closing the browser session and taking some questions to prevent anyone from catching on . . . Especially the President . . . .

2. Presentation Hall of Shame

A long time ago I saw a cartoon which depicted a woman standing behind a podium and hiding her eyes with her hand as she delivered her presentation. The caption read: "To overcome her stagefright, Ms. Thistlebottom was advised to imagine that her audience members were all naked. Now she can't look at them at all!"

There are apparently many such fearful presenters in this world, timid souls who are afraid to make eye contact with their audiences and who would rather that everyone, well, just go away and let them present to an empty room. It's understandable, I guess: Eye contact is so powerful a connection that many cultures consider "staring" into another person's eyes to be the height of rudeness.

But how can you gauge your audience's reaction to your presentation if you don't look to see what sort of body language they're giving you? The trick, then, is to practice the art of "panning" the room (as a film camera might), stopping only for a moment to catch an eye and then moving on. It's not an easy technique to describe, but it's an easy one to practice, especially after you've been videotaped making a presentation so you can see how well you "pan" as you speak.

And about that stagefright thing: If you're really nervous at the beginning of your presentation, make eye contact only with the people who are smiling at you until you gain enough confidence to deal with the others.

3. Presentation Skills Book Review

Next spring, I [Ellen] will be traveling to China to teach a business communications class to Chinese business executives working towards their MBAs from Beijing University. (Is that cool or what?)

One of the text books for the class is Loud and Clear: How to Prepare and Deliver Effective Business and Technical Presentations, by George Morrisey, Thomas L. Sechrest, and Wendy B. Warman. This 1997 publication is a very basic and basically thorough overview of all the skills one needs to make a polished, professional presentation. There's not much new here, but what makes this book so interesting to me is that it seems very much designed for AMERICAN readers and I will be using it to teach CHINESE students. Will it work for them as well?

Here are my questions:
Will my Chinese students appreciate the title of the book? Will "loud and clear" seem perfectly appropriate for a successful presentation, or will it seem pushy and arrogant (especially the "loud" part)?

The "Audience Analysis Audit" provided in the book (a useful tool overall) includes this objective: "Identify your audience's expected benefits and positive outcomes, to satisfy your audience's WIIFM ("What's in it for me?"). Will my Chinese students understand this concept? Or will it seem very foreign and strange to them?

Will I have any difficulty explaining this exhortation from the book, "Remember, it's not what's taught but what's caught!" How does this translate into Mandarin?

The book advises speakers to use humor to make their presentations interesting. (They must have read MY book, LOL!) What will Chinese humor be like? Will they think I'm funny? Will they laugh at my jokes and stories just to help me save face?

What about stagefright? Do Chinese presenters suffer from it, too?

And don't get me started about body language: "Facial expressions should be lively, varied, and appropriate to you and your message," says Loud and Clear. How much feedback will my Chinese students give me (and vice versa)?

Of course I am planning to learn as much about my students as I can before I ever get to Beijing, but if anyone reading this has taught in China and can give me some tips on interacting with Chinese students, I would be most appreciative! (And of course after I return I'll share with all of you what I learned.)

4. Useful Online Resource of the Month

If you've read Ellen's book, Presenting with Style, you know that one of the 5 styles she talks about is the Orator. This style is most frequently employed when one is called on to deliver a prepared speech (as opposed to a training session, say, or a briefing). If you want a wonderful site from which to access the top 100 greatest American speeches, visit http://www.americanrhetoric.com/top100speechesall.html

Number 1 on the list is (no surprise), Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream," followed by John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Address. You can access any of the speeches in their written form, or you can listen to them by means of audio streaming. What a wonderful resource for the Orator in you!

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) 883-9070