Friday 30 May 2014

9 Tips to Look Your Best When Your Presentation is Filmed

This week, I was on the road facilitating train-the-trainer sessions. The evening before my first workshop, I scanned an email outlining the logistics for the meeting. The last point read, "The film crew will arrive at 8 am."
Filming the sessions was news to me and my first reaction was, "Oh." Being filmed can be intimidating because your environment changes; people are pointing equipment at you and there are limits to where you can walk and how quickly you can move. It feels like presenting to two audiences at the same time. 

I had been filmed the week before at another client's event so this unforeseen detail didn't distract me for long. I knew what to do.

Here are some tips on how to present yourself on camera:

  • Watch recorded presentations on the internet to see what techniques you like and dislike
  • Check yourself in the mirror just before you are filmed ‒ video is forever and something like an upturned collar will distract your audience ("Look, his collar is out of place, I bet he doesn't know)
  • Don't look at the camera ‒ it makes you appear as distracted as you are, sometimes even more so
  • Be conscious of the placement of equipment ‒ they are obstacles that will distract your audience if you bump into them
  • Present in one spot ‒ roving presenters are hard to capture and cause the crew to move around, distracting your audience
  • Keep your wardrobe consistent ‒ if you begin with a jacket on, wear it throughout the session ‒ a wardrobe change can distract the video audience (Didn't he just have a jacket on?) and may suggest that the video was shot over multiple sessions
  • Focus on your audience and what you are helping them to do ‒ it is the best way to look like you are not being filmed
  • Post the session, if you are asked to be interviewed on camera, always ask for multiple takes ‒ you will never know if your first take is the best unless you take at least one more
The workshops and the filming went well. The participants and I forgot that the camera crew was there. Perhaps that's the best tip of all. 


Friday 23 May 2014

12 Business Travel Tips to Help You Be Your Best When You Are on the Road

I think of George Clooney every time I navigate an airport. His character in Up in the Air was a business travel pro.

For over eight years I traveled most weeks. I learned many tips by practice or watching people like George's character do their thing. 

As my international travel is ramping up again, I started a list of past lessons.  Here are my first twelve:

  1. Pack your wrinkle-proned clothes in the F1 Spacepak bag, its air vacuum system minimizes wrinkles and there is a zippered compartment for used items. I read an interview of the actor Jason Sudeikis who said he never travels without his and now I know why
  2. Book hotels as close to your destination as possible - it reduces risk of lateness, minimizes travel time and removes one logistical step - within walking distance is best
  3. Check Google Maps to explore your hotel's neighbourhood - places to eat, shops and interesting sites can be noted before you leave
  4. Never check your luggage - it encourages you to over-pack and a plane change or transport mistake can disrupt your trip
  5. Never board a plane hungry or without a meal packed in your carry-on bag - runway delays or turbulence can stop you from being served in-flight meals
  6. Unpack as soon as you get to your hotel - it keeps you organized and minimizes wrinkles
  7. Buy meals and snacks from grocery stores - it's fast, cheap and usually healthier than restaurants
  8. Request a wake-up call even if you don't think you need one. Always have a backup
  9. Always be courteous even if you are in a difficult situation - it's the right thing to do, lowers your stress level and people treat you better and are more willing to help or bend the rules
  10. Always ask a representative what he or she would do when you are in a difficult situation - they are experts of their businesses and know all the shortcuts
  11. Thank people by name - they will appreciate it and you will most likely see them again
  12. Collect loyalty points on everything possible - they are small thank yous to your family for being away
Business travel is like riding a bike: You remember how to ride as soon as you push off.

I am storing my travel tips on Evernote so I can add them on my phone. I anticipate more to come, even as soon as next week.


Friday 16 May 2014

Remembrance of Things Past: Good or Bad?

While grocery shopping this week, I saw something that reminded me of my past: fiddleheads, the coiled tips of new ferns that are only sold in the spring.

As a kid, I used to go "fiddleheading" with my family, led by Uncle Carl who traded a bottle of whiskey for access to a farmer's riverside land. New ferns thrived there and we would harvest them by the bucketful

I remember my mom and Aunt Betty cleaning large green garbage bags full of these vegetables. They would freeze meal-sized portions that would feed us for the year. 

Helping to clean them was a time consuming, dreaded chore. Funny how I didn't think of this part of fiddleheading when I placed some in my cart. Don't you find that most memories aren't specific; they are just good or bad.

I bought the fiddleheads although I knew that my family doesn't like them. I tried to indoctrinate them years ago with no success - "They are gross". Perhaps having them was more important than eating them. 

Many people facing change act in the same way. They reach for symbols of the past that remind them of the 'good ole days', when things were simpler, predictable and 'good' (at least how they remember them).

Some leaders are wary of these sentiments assuming that people want to return to the past. I see things differently; I believe they want to pay homage to their past and hope for a future that will give them the same feelings. 

The best way to support people through change is to honour their treasured past and build a bridge from it to the future. For example, the values or capabilities that were alive in the past can be enlisted to build a better future. 

Not honouring the past can either leave people stuck in their remembrances or fearful of the organization's future - both lead to poor adoption of new ways of thinking and working.

I only bought 11 fiddleheads this week ‒ not enough for a meal. Was I really intending to eat them or was buying them the point? 

I won't be buying more fiddleheads until maybe next year. A nod to a memory that is important to me is enough.


Friday 9 May 2014

When Every Second Counts, Each Minute Has 60 Possible Victories

My doctor, a fellow runner, said that you run your first marathon to see if you finish, you run your second to see if you can beat your first time and who knows why you run your third. 

Last Sunday, I ran my third marathon. I signed up because my wife, Barb, was keen to run her second. It didn't take long for me to think about how I could beat my best time. There is something addictive about making progress, especially when measurement is in seconds.

I knew I had to run differently if I wanted to beat my last time of 4 hours, 8 minutes and 12 seconds - my goal was under 4 hours. My first two marathons were plagued with leg cramps and lost time seized up in thesecond half. Training harder would have made things worse.

My plan was to run smarter with a lighter stride to save my legs, to run continuously for the first half and save my breaks for when I needed them, and to better fuel and rest before the race.

The race started well and I exceeded my half-time goal of 1 hour and 50 minutes by 40 seconds (every second counts).  Another good sign was that I had no cramping. Things were going as planned.

At the 15 mile mark, I got my first tingle in my left leg. It happened 6 miles after it did in past marathons, which was a good omen, but I knew it was only a matter of time before it would get worse. I started taking 60 second breaks to stretch and walk. It felt counterproductive knowing the clock was ticking but I knew from past experience what would happen if I didn't. 

By 20 miles, both legs were intermittently tightening but I could still run. By 22 miles I felt like I had to walk. Slowing down, however, made them cramp (and hurt) more. I realized that to avoid more intense pain and seizing I had to run on medium pained legs. It was a strange feeling knowing that staying in pain would save me being in greater pain.

At 24 miles, my right leg locked. I knew that if I stopped moving it would spasm so I kept running with one normal leg bending and the other tapping on the ground like a broomstick. I heard one onlooker say, "Get it going, get it going!" Within 30 seconds I was back to running with medium pain - a relief. 

With 500 metres to go and the finish line in sight, I though to myself, savour this moment, it might be your last marathon. I did my best to look around at the wonderfully supportive crowd. I even managed to sprint for the last 50 metres, something I couldn't do in my first two races.

I crossed the line at the 4 hour, 6 minute and 44 second mark; I had knocked 90 seconds off of my personal best time. I didn't reach my goal but I made significant progress. 

After recovering for a few hours, I assessed the changes I had made to get a better result. Here is what I wrote down:
  • Changing my stride - it helped preserve my legs but it didn't eliminate my cramping problem 
  • Running continuously versus intervals - It was more fun, not sure if it helped me
  • Limiting weekly training miles - I didn't get injured prior to the marathon, but I probably cut too many miles
  • Running more preparation races - this helped with first half speed
  • Seeing a physiotherapist - hard to tell
  • Managing what I eat - who knows?
  • Getting more rest - didn't happen
Barb achieved a personal best too (16 minutes!). It took us about 20 minutes before we committed to running this race again next year. There are more changes to come and many seconds to be won. 


Friday 2 May 2014

When Free is the Price of Success: Thriving in the Connection Economy

My introduction to how business works was in my first year university economics course. The assigned textbook was called Economics by Lipsey, Sparks and Steiner. It is hard to forget since it was the first business tome we were exposed to, cost a fortune and weighed a ton. Over the years I have asked people who took the same program if they remember Lipsey, Sparks and Steiner. They all do.

New economic models have been created since then. For example, the internet has changed the rules of the game on marketing. Social media has provided opportunities for small business to earn the exposure and influence once reserved for large and better resourced companies. 

Customer relationships are changing too. Seth Godin coined the term "connection economy" to describe the connectivity provided by the internet and how spreading ideas across communities of like-minded people is the pathway to success. Valuable Ideas make strong connections that lead to trust and loyalty. Other business leaders, including Chris Brogan and Michael Hyatt, have expanded on this concept and proven its success. 

Seth Godin's 'Free Stuff!' Web Page Invitation

A core belief of the connection economy is that the most effective way to spread your ideas is to give your content away for free; the more you share, the more value you create and the greater trust and loyalty you earn. When you do offer something for sale, people in your community will buy it because they are confident in its value and want to support the relationship.

I have had the opportunity to practice this belief, both with Change with Confidence and my speaking engagements. Blank templates of the tools I included in my book are available for free downloading on my web site.  Also, the slides I use in presentations are available for free to all participants and are posted on Slideshare

My latest give-away will be an ebook of "how-to" articles and blog posts on change management. Topics will include "The First Thing Leaders Need to Do When Leading a Big Change" and "Why Confidence is so Important When Leading Change and How to Build It". 

The creative process has already begun. My next steps are to: 

  1. Reread the 170 articles I have written and select the ones for the e-book
  2. Create an outline to organize the articles into a logical order
  3. Work with Krishan Jayatunge and Laurie Barnett to create the design and layout. I am looking forward to working with them, especially after seeing their work on An Honest Living, an excellent book by Melodie Barnett and Luisa Girotto.
My e-book will be given to everyone who signs up for the Change with Confidence newsletter. It will also be a gift to everyone who is receiving it now or who reads my blog. It could be available for participants who attend my speaking engagements too. The possibilities seem endless.

I am excited by my new project. It's a chance to build something new, which is always thrilling. It's also a chance to grow a community of like-minded people who value what I have to say. 

That sounds like success to me. Lipsey, Sparks and Steiner might also agree.