2 minutes to change your life

Ok so perhaps I am being melodramatic. Or maybe not. Fly faster than light and explore the largest sky map ever created thanks to those clever scientists at Berkley working on the BOSS project.

We are really, really, really, really, really small. Really.


Truthiness and pictures

“Truthiness is a quality characterizing a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.” Wikipedia

For those of you who may not know, “truthiness” was coined by American satirist Stephen Colbert in 2005. It is the appeal to emotion rather than reason. What you feel is right rather than what the facts of evidence tell us. Now a student from the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand has been looking into how pictures affect it with a rather cunning experiment.

The conclusion: pictures rock. And if you don’t believe me, here is a picture of Stephen Colbert to convince you.

“Holy presentation nonsense Batman” – The Dr. Fox Lecture

According to Aristotle, you need 3 things to convince people:Ethos – people need to like and respect you; Pathos – you need to appeal to their emotions; and Logos – you need to appeal to their reason.

As it turns out however, Ethos and Pathos might just be enough.

In this 1976 experiment, Batman actor Michael Fox, in the guise of Dr. Myron L. Fox, presents absolute nonsense to a group of experts… and fools them. Fifty-five psychiatrists, psychologists, educators, graduate students, and other professionals all gave him overwhelmingly positive reviews. How did he do it?

I’m not a great fan of anyone speaking nonsense, however the Dr. Fox Effect illustrates just how important Ethos and Pathos are. If you cannot connect with your audience AND appeal to their emotions, your presentation will probably be boring, ignored or forgotten.


Brain Rules for Baby

I’m a big fan of Dr. John Medina, developmental molecular biologist and author of the New York Times bestseller Brain Rules.

With his Brain Rule #10 Medina gave us excellent insights into creating presentations which speak directly to our brains (hint: vision trumps all other senses), but he is also a great speaker and puts into practice what he preaches.

With that in mind, check out his recent video Brain Rules for Baby where he exposes many of the myths behind raising children.  Not only can you get some great advice on parenting and how your baby’s brain works, but also on presenting.  Watch how he uses humor, bad examples, passion, enthusiasm and even a quiz to make sure his message sticks in your brain after-wards.

Many people can present, however few people can really get their ideas remembered long after-wards.  It has been a while since I first watched these yet the content is still with me.

Prisoner, Vacationer or Professor – which one are you?

Try to rememer the last workshop or training course you had. Got it? Great. Now try to remember how did you feel about being there.  Were you happy to get some time away from your “normal job”? Or perhaps you would rather have been doing more productive work- catching up on email, making that important call or preparing that report?

In the McKinsey report Getting more from your training programs  the authors cited three types of people who attend training course; prisoners, vacationers and professors. Prisoners would rather be somewhere else yet have been forced to go. Vacationers are effectively “on holiday”. Professors want to show off how bright they are.

In the process of setting up presentationgym, I have had the opportunity to talk with many trainers and coaches, and these generalisations seem to hold true. The one group however which demands the most attention. The prisioners. These are the sales people who would rather be closing deals. The busy people who don’t see the point in being taught stuff they already know (while their in-boxes fill up). The people who have forgotten most of what they learned at the last workshop and have no reason to believe the next one will be any different. Not a great starting point.

Prisoners illustrate clearly the problem of Return on Investment. Not only is the training investment less likely to „stick“ and provide a return, but the company also looses an employee for the course duration. Time when they could have been doing productive work.

This is one of the reasons behind the revolution in learning which is currently going on. Training needs to be relevant, timely, accessbile and whenever possible, fun and challenging.  It is also one of the reasons why we started presentationgym. To give people the tools, support and inspiration to train their communication muscles. Whenever and wherever they are. Whatever their current skill level.

I am fascinated about the process of giving people the discipline and tools to put what they learn into practice. You can check out the report at their site. You may need to log in, however there are worst places to get information than from the McKinsey Quarterly. Personally, I think it is worth signing up.