Monday, April 20, 2009

Authenticity Rules #4 – Know Your Tools


Authenticity Rule #4
The Surgeon Rule - Know Your Tools.


(Review AR #1 – Know Thyself, AR #2 – Know Your Content, AR #3 – Know Your Audience, AR #6 – Know Your Enemies)


You are in the unfortunate position of needing surgery.  Its not the favorite chapter in your life, but you know you have to go through it. 

You are on the table. Everybody is ready to go.  Right before they put you under, the doctor comes in and you hear her say to her staff, “What does this thing do?   How do you turn this one on?  What are those numbers for?” 

The last thing you remember thinking before you slip off to la-la land is, “Goodnight room.  Goodnight moon.  Goodnight life.”  You are scared to death you will not wake up.  You have been given a rookie surgeon.


This scenario will, of course, never happen.  Unless our modern health system goes entirely off-course, surgeons not only know how to use the tools of their trade, but they will be complete masters of them.  You wouldn’t even consider going to a doctor that didn’t have hours of experience and absolute confidence using their tools.  So, why would any presenter ask their audience to sit through a presentation where the speaker didn’t know how to use their stuff?


Authenticity Rule #4 states:  Your authenticity can show through more powerfully when your presentation tools become natural self extensions.

Here is a quick, non-comprehensive list of this “equipment”:

  • Microphone
  • Music
  • PowerPoint
  • Projector/Laptop
  • Handouts
  • Flipcharts
  • Tape/Pins/Velcro (anything you are using to secure visuals to the wall)
  • Props
  • Room set-up
  • Interaction techniques with audience
  • Interaction techniques with co-presenter(s)
  • Stories


What are the downsides of not having total command of your tools?

  1. Damages Credibility – Trust between you and your audience is the foundation of everything.  The moment you are vulnerable because of a lack in competency, that foundation begins to crumble.   We don’t care if you are perfect, but we do expect you to care about being close.
  2. Distracts – You can only have your focus on one thing at a time.  That one thing should be connecting with the audience.  If you are wasting your “one thing” on how to get your laptop to talk to the projector, someone in the room is getting ignored.  Plus, you want your audience’s attention to be on the message and how it applies to their life, not on the flipchart that keeps falling down because you didn’t think ahead of time to bring push-pins with you.
  3. Drains Time – Your audience has chosen to give you two of their most valuable resources – their time and attention.  If you don’t spend time before the presentation getting your tools right, you will have to waste time during the presentation doing it.  This is disrespectful to your audience and is the same as saying to them, “My time is more valuable to me than your time.”  Not good.

How do you get better at using your tools?

  1. Learn Great Techniques – Read some books, blogs, tweets, etc. written by ninja level presenters.  Seek these people out personally and ask them how they use ____ successfully.  Here is a great portal for finding great presenters – Speaking Alltop.
  2. Practice – After you learn good techniques, practice them.  The best speaking practice is in front of an actual live audience.  In front of the mirror is better than nothing, but not the best practice.  After you finish a presentation, sit down right then and do a Plus (what you did well), Minus (what you didn’t do well), Delta (what you are going to change or find out how to change) list. 
  3. Do Recon Work – Call ahead and find out what the room is going to be like.  How is the audience going to be seated?  Are there tables?  What are the walls like?  Can you put things on them?  Do they have a screen, projector, wireless microphone, corded microphone, podium, etc.?  Everything about the room impacts your presentation and should be included in your “tools list.”
  4. Start here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Also having a back up plan when something does not work. Nothing more painful than watching someone fumble through getting a machine to work, if its not working then quickly go to plan B and stop torturing us!

Dr. Letitia Wright
The Wright Place TV Show