A puppet giraffe and jackal talk about the meaning of love

What is love? A noun? A verb? A feeling or need? It is the BIG question which has occupied some of our greatest minds from Shakespeare and J-Lo to Haddaway.

Join the American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg and a couple of puppets props to find out…


How do you perform under pressure? Take the test and find out.

When I first started playing concerts with bands or doing amateur drama, I got scared. Really scared. Throwing up scared. In fact I still remember the sheer terror of being chosen to sing “In the deep mid-winter” at our school assembly at the age of 9. The stuff of nightmares. Perhaps these may be feelings not altogether unfamiliar for you. As I spent more and more time on stage however, the feelings of nervousness and apprehension slowly disappeared. I got used to the stress and could handle the pressure.  But did I actually perform better?

What has always intrigued me is how our mental attitude affects performance.  And of course, what we can do to improve things. One of the most studied areas of performance under pressure is the world of the top athlete and the psychological skills they put to their advantage. Great for them, you say, but do these techniques actually work? Or more importantly, what tips or tricks can we use to help us perform when we are giving a presentation, interviewing for that dream job, or closing that sale?

If you are equally curious as to the answers to these questions, and what indeed works for you, then I suggest that you head over to the BBC Lab where you can find out.  Not only do you get your performance analysed by none other than Michael Johnson (sort of), but you get to be part of actual science. Hooray!

Measure Your Procrastination Level

„Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do the day after tomorrow“. Mark Twain

One of the challenges I come across with scary regularity with my company presentationgym is procrastination.  (presentationgym is a bit like a normal gym, but it is your communication skills rather than your muscles which get the workout). The problem is this. Just like a normal gym, you need to do the work. You need to go. You need to put the effort in. People REALLY want to find the time to practice and prepare, they understand the benefits of doing so, and even the risks of not doing so, however, they delay things up until the last-minute and use adrenaline to get the job done. Sound familiar?  It should do.  95% of people have a problem with it, with over 15% admitting it to be a very serious problem. That means 1 in 5 people.  Now think. Do you know anyone like that? Is it perhaps you?

I find procrastination fascinating. Primarily because it used to be a problem for me (I was the sort of student who would work through the night in order to meet the morning’s deadline). For that reason, I try to keep on top of the science behind procrastination. Now….

Dr. Piers Steel is one of the world’s foremost researchers and speakers on the science of motivation and procrastination. He is also the author of the best book I have read to date on the subject – The Procrastination Equation. But before you all rush out and buy his book, why not first find out how bad a procrastinator you actually are by taking his survey here……


Warning – This is not a „for entertainment“ survey, but actual science you are contributing to. Therefore there are over 100 multiple questions you need to answer and it took me about 15 mins to complete. As a reward for doing this you will receive a personalised procrastination profile, along with 3 scientifically proven tips for you to put into practice. Cool stuff.

Alternatively of course, you could put it off until tomorrow……….

“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.