The Wall, A Powerful Memorial

On May 17, 1969, CPT David R. Crocker Jr. was killed in action in Viet Nam. His widow Ruth recounts her life with CPT Crocker in her book Those Who Remain. She details attending a reunion of her husband’s unit years later when she is invited to visit the JuneMarie-VNMW-flickrViet Nam War Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. with the Soldiers he led in battle. As she approaches and walks along The Wall, she relates memories of her David in various assignments and contrasts them with how she thinks combat veterans she is there with think about their memories of the war, each other, and their beloved commander.

I made a trip to The Wall a few weeks before reading Ruth’s account of her first time to the memorial. Unlike Ruth, it was not my first trip. As I walked along the increasingly tall black stones, the first thing that struck me is how rude some people can be. After suggesting to a younger man that his cell phone argument should be completed elsewhere, I returned my attention to those engraved slabs. MarionOSullivan-VNMW-flickr.jpgI found myself contemplating each name that caught my eye. I wondered how my brain selected some names to look at while skipping over others. My thoughts wandered to my own combat experiences. I mentally compared my experiences to those who fought in Viet Nam and eventually to every other war.

By now I found I completed enough steps so the stones were over my head. I noticed the reflection of my battle buddy on the surface of the stone, himself a combat vet in a different place and time from me or those whose names appeared before us. Like me, he would focus on some names and skip others. Unlike me, he remembered his childhood neighbor heading off to Viet Nam. He never returned. Today he searched for his neighbor’s name. As I remembered this visit and my other visits to The Wall, I conversed with my friend about his experiences at The Wall. After reading and considering Ruth’s description I started to realize why The Wall is such a powerful memorial.

There are several war memorials on the nation’s Mall. There are even more in the D.C. area. Many are large signifying the importance those wars play in history. Others are smaller, almost unseen and forgotten like many of our nation’s conflicts. While it is true these smaller wars and monuments are less known, they are no less important for those who served and those who died in those conflicts. Yet the Viet Nam Memorial is a most powerful monument to our fallen heroes.

The Wall is a powerful memorial because it allows people to project their own thoughts, feelings, and memories about war, their loved ones, and their experiences. JuneMarie-Etch-VNMW-Flickr.jpgThat is why a Gold Star Wife can accompany a veteran wearing a Combat Infantry Badge and feel connected. Each brings their own stuff, projects it on the tall, cold, black stone and The Wall, like a black hole, absorbs it all. Visitors do need not know any one person of the 56 thousand inscribed on those black shiny panels to project their stuff on to it. The Wall accepts everything just as the service members whose names appear on The Wall.

Other monuments and memorials of war are different. They have more conventional shapes. Each is a different size. Their materials and colors change across each individual monument, yet seem to copy from each other. Each of these attributes deflect projection. I cannot see my battle buddy’s reflection living or dead in those other memorials. Those memorials are about their war only. Thoughts, memories, and other reflections ricochet off their surface the same as a 5.56 does on hard surfaces. The Wall accepts them all.

The purpose of memorials are to allow people to remember the past, and make a connection with those who came before them. War memorials are more so by remembering the selfless sacrifice of those who served our country, defending freedom and liberty. In order to connect, one must develop an understanding of how those memorialized events affect their lives today no matter how long ago they occurred. Laura-VNMW-Flickr.jpgThe Wall, even with all those names carved into the otherwise flawless surface is a blank slate, enabling all to search for meaning. Like the classroom blackboard each person can write the story of how events years ago changed the world and their place in the world. Each finds meaning.

The meaning they find may have nothing to do with those on The Wall. It may have not relate to Viet Nam or any survivors. Their meaning found in those dark slabs is unique to each individual. Meaning not only about the terrible cost of war, but also how death of loved ones hurt no matter the cause. They may achieve an answer to a random act of violence. They may develop a reason for suffering PTSD. The Wall accepts it all reflecting back each individual’s reality.

The other monuments are what they are. WWII.JPGIt is hard to make the colossal statue of Lincoln something else. The size of the World War II Memorial is like the war, massive, so massive it is hard to take in all of it and understand, even after the passing of time. person-people-monument-statue-army-sculpture-1026122-pxhere.com.jpgThe Soldiers marching at the Korean War Memorial are always on patrol, frozen in time, with little room for any other interpretation. Only The Wall absorbs our feelings and casts back what we need to develop understanding.

I’ve learned that sometimes the most important thing to understand is war is war and things sometimes happen for no reason. Tim O’Brien said often people expect a war story to end with a moral, but war stories are just war stories. Like war, they are what they are. Few end with a moral and fewer end happily ever after. Every war story is important to the teller. The teller may never know why, but something in that story changed their lives. Lots of things happen in combat. Only a few are remembered. The Wall captures each story, every memory. In time visitors may gain understanding of recollections from The Wall.

For those who experience war, detail of stories fade as time marches on. They never go away. This essay is about war and remembering war. In school we learn every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. War stories definitely have a beginning, though the beginning may vary by the teller. War stories have a middle, the part where the action occurs. The end however can be tricky because there is always something that happens next. Maybe that is why few war stories have morals, they never really end. That is why we need memorials like The Wall, to help make sense of the senseless, and maybe that is why The Wall is such a powerful memorial. The Wall allows everyone to find their own sense in the confusion.JasonBrookman-VNMW-flickr.jpg

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Photo Credits

June Marie – flickr.com — Creative Commons Attiribution.

Marion O’Sullivan – flickr.com — Creative Commons Attiribution.

June Marie, ibid

Laura — flickr.com — Creative Commons Attiribution.

Author — Creative Commons Attiribution.

pxhere.com — Creative Commons Zero

Jason Brookman — flickr.com — Creative Commons Attiribution.

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Show Me, Bring Action to Your Training

music-light-people-crowd-concert-audience-870980-pxhere.com.jpgKen Blanchard spent many years working to improve leadership, training people tactics and habits gleaned from successful leaders. His philosophy is tell them, show them, let them, correct or redirect or praise them, and repeat (Be, Know, Do. Blanchard). In an earlier training article, I discussed whys to improve knowledge transfer in the telling stage using checks on learning. This article focuses on the show them stage. Having more methods to teach people ensures you connect with as many learners in your class as possible. If you only tell them things, visual and kinetic learns are left behind. There are several ways to show people. This article discusses three methods of showing; pictures, videos, and demonstrations.

Slides are a common classroom method of sharing information. Text based slides are telling, not showing. Slides with nice pictures for the sake of having pictures are also telling, not showing. nextPicture based slides showing stances, methods, screen shots, and other action are showing. Pictures may contain text for the purpose of showing finer points. You may want to add an arrow for direction of action, or to show points of attention. The image shows how and what to do saving thousands of spoken and written words.

I discussed finding lots of high quality low and no cost photos and images in an earlier blog. Check out the information at this link: https://christopherstcyr.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/one-thousand-words/. There is generally no requirement to use images as they were taken or created. Using image manipulation software allows you to edit the image to meet your needs. Photoshop is a high end answer. GIMP, short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is a free, open-source graphics editing program. With such software, you can create the image you wish you had by cropping, tweaking colors, making something black and white, with a single color for emphasis, creating a new background, deleting ugly utility poles, or anything else that make the image tell the story you want to tell. Learning to use graphics editing software seems intimidating, however YouTube has lots of videos showing how to do anything you want to with GIMP and other graphics software.

A great way to show how to do something is with videos. camera-vintage-antique-wheel-retro-old-804975-pxhere.com.jpgIf you create a video, do not simply transfer the classroom lecture to the screen. Use video showing someone doing the skill you are teaching. Sound is not required. You can narrate the action for the class. Consider inserting pauses in the video allowing discussion.

Editing video is not as easy as editing pictures. PC World picked Shotcut as the best free video editing software for 2018. Shotcut offers several tutorial videos. Like GIMP, YouTube offers plenty of additional tutorial videos. As with GIMP, you can use Shotcut to customize an open source or public domain video from the web, or create your own content.

Use caution when using videos from others. Copyright law offers protection for using small amount of video (or any other copy righted material) for educational purposes. If you use a whole video produced for the purpose of education and requires a fee for classroom use you may receive legal process. Copyright laws are intended to protect intellectual property, but they allow fair use. Richard Neil has good information about copyright and fair use on his website: http://www.leotrainer.com/copyright.html.

Videos supplement your lesson. Videos do NOT replace you. You may have videos that show in exacting detail how to rebuild a carburetor, but you are the expert in the room. Impart the little tricks and secrets you know from your years of completing the tasks you train. If you show nothing but videos, your students figure they could watch them from home or their work location online. Anyone can push the play button. Be the expert and add to the information shown in videos you select for your training.

Demonstrations allow students to see a task executed first hand. Whether you are milking a cow, or creating a bench hook, watching someone do it helps learners understand the task better. Ideally the instructor should conduct the demonstration. Sometimes instructors team up; one talks about the task while the other executes. If you select the two person demonstration, coordinate with the other person. You both need to practice the demonstration ensuring the narration matches the action. A firearms instructor trainer I know cautions student instructors to practice drills they plan on teaching their students. If the instructor cannot execute the task accurately and correctly 99.999% of the time, he looses his expert power. Students walk away from the demonstration convinced the instructor is a wind bag because he cannot be execute the task. If you cannot complete the task in a training environment, how are students going to execute the task in the real world? Practice your demonstrations and drills so you appear to be the expert you are.

Repeat your demonstration more than once. Change the way you stand so everyone in the class in able to see what you are doing. Tell the class you will be moving so they can see the finer points of the demonstration from all angles. Repeated demonstrations are especially important in larger classes. Move to a different part of the training area. Use live streaming video for work on small tasks such as setting coupler height on a model railroad car, or showing the angle of a file while sharpening a saw. Unlike the magician Magicianpuking cards-pxhere.jpgwho only shows a trick once to prevent others from learning how he did the trick, your goal is for students to leave your training knowing the tricks and how to perform them. Repetition ensures your students understand and improves their skill.

Showing students how do accomplish a new skill is an important in any high quality training. Showing turns knowledge into action. Three common methods to show others are use of photographs or drawings, showing the skill performed using videos, and live demonstrations by an instructor or skilled assistant. Each has advantages and drawbacks. Pictures are easy to put together. They are static. After a few slides students become bored, however stills may show better as a series of images. Videos provide action. Videos are abundant on the internet but may not show exactly what you want shown. It is more difficult to create original video content than static slides. Demonstrations seem like the perfect solution. They provide action, allow the instructor to narrate and point out fine details, but the demonstrator must be skilled to ensure flawless execution. Some tasks are difficult to demonstrate to a group such as how to land an airplane, or the proper application of explosives to safely collapse a snow drift to avoid an avalanche. Learn to use each method at the right time for the right audience. Showing turns ideas into action and improves retention. It is the second step in teaching new skills. Add a few shows to your next lesson. Your students will walk away smarter.

 

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Additional Resources

Ken Blanchard Companies:  https://www.kenblanchard.com/

GIMP Official Website:  https://www.gimp.org/

ShotCut Official Website:  https://shotcut.org/

Use official websites of open source software to avoid potential unwanted software and malware.  Carefully read the installation windows.

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References not incorporated in the article

PCWorld article: https://www.pcworld.com/article/3240982/software/the-best-free-video-editing-software.html

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Photo Credits

Light Show – pxhere.com  CC Zero license

Next Slide — Author

Antique Projector — pxhere.com

Magician — pxhere.com

 

 

Maximize Return on Investment for Training

Companies spend large sums of money to sending employees for training to improve performance. When employees return, they resume ineffective habits. Ken Blanchard says in his book, KNOW, CAN, DO, that he is frustrated people do not implement the changes he teaches. The point of leaders sending employees to training is to develop to new, effective behaviors in employees and become better people. Here are some ideas how leaders effectively help employees implement behaviors learned at training increasing their return on investment (ROI) on training.Man_taking_notes-PXHere.jpg

Require employees to take notes during class. Note taking improves retention. Hand written notes are better than typed notes in the classroomi. When they return to work make them then sit down and type those notes. Typed notes are better than handwritten notes after the class. Typing notes requires the student to revisit the material again providing an additional opportunity to learn improving training ROI. It also provides a readable copy of the notes which will be more useful a few years from now. They understand the type written notes better than their hieroglyphs taken in class. Typed notes should include the title, location, and date(s) of the training, the name of the employee completing the notes, the name of the presenter, and a website for additional information. Typed notes are necessary for a later step in this process, sharing learning with others.

Once your employee has completed their note typing, have them report to you the big concepts taught in the class. Ask them the one or two take always they think are most important to implement in their work behaviors. Work with them to develop an action plan or goal. There are a few other blogs here on goal setting and developing personal improvement plans. As the leader, you have the responsibility to periodically check in with the employee to monitor progress. Employees require your guidance to overcome obstacles and provide encouragement. Set aside 30-60 each week in the first few weeks after class to meet with the employee and measure progress.

One great way to improve learning is teaching. Have the employee present what they learned at your next staff meeting. There are several advantages to having employees present after training. One is you increase your return on the investment you made on that training event. Every employee learns something new, not just the employee who attended the training. Second, the employee becomes the teacher and for a short time, the subject matter expert. This puts them in the spotlight. Everyone craves recognition. This is a great method allowing employees to shine in front of their peers. Third it provides you an opportunity to discuss why the behaviors learned in that training are important. You reinforce for staff what new behaviors you expect from all of them. The message about expected new behaviors comes from a peer. Peer pressure is strong. Use it to your advantage.

Remember those typed notes? Copy and distribute them during the short training session. The notes should include the name and email address of the employee who took the notes. Having the employee’s name and email on the notes provides contact information for others. When other employees have questions, they are able to contact the company’s subject matter expert and receive answers; another opportunity for the subject matter expert to shine.

It may sound a bit overboard to provide all kinds of recognition to an employee returning from training. In some organizations, training is viewed as punishment. People in those organizations think the only reason the company would send someone to a training event is because they messed up something. The training is the company’s way of telling the employee and others about your mistake. Highlighting the positive impacts from training encourages others to want to attend and learn. It is the basis of a learning and improving organization.

Since your employee returned from training, you worked hard to groom him or her into a subject matter expert. You allowed them to share their new knowledge with others. You developed a plan encouraging them to implement changes in behavior learned at the training. Now reap the rewards. Appoint your self-grown expert as a mentor. trusted_rock_guide-andrew.PNGAssign a protegee to the mentor who is dealing with performance problems. Often we think of performance problems as coming from problem employees. Frequently though performance problems come from inexperienced people, or people assigned new tasks without appropriate background or training. Use your subject matter expert to teach this person how to improve. As they work with the newer person, they may find a need to refer back to their original class notes. Good thing they typed them so they are legible! Because you modeled goal setting with your employee, they use that skill to help their protegee set goals. Your newer, inexperienced person benefits from the training provided to the mentor weeks or months ago, another return on your investment. Instead of sending this person to the same training to learn the basics, you book them for something different. When they return, repeat the process and you have a new expert on a different topic.

As time passes, you find many of your people have gone to a wide variety of training. Some learned to become effective leaders. Others learned how to improve customer service. All attend regular training about advances in your company’s field of expertise. Every employee is up on the latest in each area because they benefit from the micro trainings each new subject matter expert provides after an off-site training opportunity. Your people acquired lots of information boiled down in carefully typed class notes. Many have become strong leaders. Eventually people move on to other activities in life. Because you took the time to train everyone about a wide variety of issues from leadership, to cutting industry trends, and building strong networks ensuring customer needs are met, you have no problem replacing leaders. Someone is ready to step into the role. This is the final pay off from that training investment perhaps years ago. You have the right people in the right places with the right training and experience so when someone leaves, no one misses a beat.

Sending employees to an off-site training is a big investment. Good leaders understand how to leverage the learning of one person so that everyone on the team learns. Using these skills the ROI on your training investment. Employees use a training event to help other employees develop goals changing behaviors, the objective of training. Good leaders spotlight the employee’s learning and behavior changes by helping them become subject matter experts. Good leaders set the stage for people to want to go to training because they understand you want them to stick around for a while. You developed a library of knowledge in the typed class notes which is available for everyone. Employees have contact information for subject matter experts. Employees mentored others learning to lead. You influenced change. You influenced others to effectively improve behaviors and accomplish the organizational mission. You maximized the return on the company’s investment on training. Next time someone comes back from training, put them to work so everyone becomes better and maximize ROI on your training investment.

References

i Doubek, James , and NPR Staff. “Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away.” Weekend Edition Sunday. April 11, 2016. Accessed March 09, 2018. https://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/474525392/attention-students-put-your-laptops-away.,

and

Mueller, Pam A. “Take Notes by Hand for Better Long-Term Comprehension.” Association for Psychological Science. April 04, 2014. Accessed March 09, 2018. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/take-notes-by-hand-for-better-long-term-comprehension.html.

Helpful Links

For coaching skills from Ken Blanchard Companies: https://resources.kenblanchard.com/whitepapers/coaching-skills-for-leaders-the-missing-link

Good SlideShare summary of Know, Can, Do:

https://www.slideshare.net/ramadd1951/know-can-do

For more information on goal setting:

https://www.slideshare.net/ChrisStCyr1/goal-achieve-cycle

For a goal setting worksheet:

https://www.slideshare.net/ChrisStCyr1/sample-goalsworksheet.

Photo Credits

Note taker from pxhere.com.

Climbers by Andrew St. Cyr used by permission

Check Learning to Verify Knowledge Transfer

“Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told them.” The idea is  something heard three times is more likely to be remembered.auditorium-pxhere There is a better way to make sure your student learn material and for you to know they learned what you taught. Conduct checks on learning during and at the end of your training. Checking learning ensures they heard and retained what you taught. Two simple ways to check learning are simple exercises and questioning.

An exercise that allows students to work through a problem using information provided verbally or in writing allows them to develop skills from their new found knowledge. A short story with a series of questions to answer modeling your lesson reinforces your teaching. Students work alone or in cooperative learning groups and report back to the the class their results. The exercise can be harder by asking students to work through a problem without the prompt questions. For example they are given a scenario. They are expected to explain which widget is the best for the situation and why. They also are expected to explain how they would use the widget. The back report reinforces the lessons with the whole class one more time.teamwork-pxhere.jpg

The easiest check on learning is questioning. Ask the students a group of questions. They parrot back the correct answers if they memorized the material. Ask questions that require students to explain concepts like, “Who can tell me when a widget is the best choice?” or “What is the best way to use a widget in the following situation…?” require students to think about their responses and apply what they learned in their response. These questions demonstrate understanding versus simply knowledge.

A spin off of the questioning check on learning model requires each student to write a question about the lesson on one side of an index card and the answer on the back. Use the cards as questions in a quiz show like review at the end of class. Student contestants will be able to challenge the ‘correct’ answer provided on the card. Award bonus points for the team if they successfully challenge the ‘correct’ answer. This process allows the class to correct misunderstood information and research correct answers further embedding new found knowledge and skills.

Relay-pxhere.jpgStudents and trainers come together for the purpose of transferring knowledge and skills to students. Each has a responsibility to enable learning. The trainer’s responsibility is to ensure the knowledge and skills are received, understood, and usable when students leave the training. Checks on learning completed throughout the lesson provide necessary feedback on the success of the transfer. Conducting a review at the end of class by repeating what you previously said is easy. Completing an in-depth check on learning as a review is harder, but shows what has been learned. Students and instructors can leave the training environment confident the new knowledge and skills have been passed and are ready to be used upon returning to their daily assignments.


Photo Credits

All photos from pxhere.com a website offering Creative Commons Zero License images.  No photographer information was available for any of the images.

Road Map for Your Life, Creating a Personal Development Plan

The last few years about this time, I wrote about ways to achieve goals and accomplish New Years resolutions. Recently I read a something that made me thing beyond individual goals. When you accomplish a goal, yet the feeling is of failure, not achievement, then your goal and values are not aligned. This idea made me think about goals in a broader way in life.

steppingstones-pxhere.jpgWhen setting goals, task steps are the pavers on your path to accomplishment. Accomplished goals are the cobblestones of your road of life-time achievements. Your achievements define who you are as a person.

The light bulb went off as I started working on a strategic three to five year plan for my organization. I realized people need strategic plans also. Having a personal development plan helps you select goals to complete life fulfilling achievements. Like goal setting, a personal development plan is a cyclic process.

First, identify and clarify your values. On the surface this seems simple. As you work through it you may find it more difficult than you imagined. There are plenty of exercises to help you identify your values. Simon Sineck’s START WITH WHY is a great resource to reveal your values.

theLight by Anne_Llse HeInrichsNext, figure out what you desire to accomplish in your life. Stephen Covey talks about what you want your obituary to say. Unless you have reason to believe it is likely you will die in the next three to five years, perhaps thinking about what you want people to say about you in five years may be a better example. As you think about your accomplishments remember the many facets of your life. The facets in your life cause you to focus on events and opportunities in different ways. Some facets of life include personal, family, spiritual, health, community, and professional. A goal that covers multiple areas of your life will feel more fulfilling when accomplished.  General people can only focus on fewer that four big goals at anytime.  Aligning large and small accomplishments in each area helps improve opportunities for success.

In the third step, write down what what and when you want to accomplish goals in each area. You do not need to complete all the detailed planning for each goal at this time. You do need to identify general activities you need to complete to move towards your vision in step two.

The fourth step of your personal development plan involves the detailed planning of the first goals you need to complete. This step is the goal setting cycle I described in Reflect, Plan, and Act https://christopherstcyr.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/time-to-reflect-plan-act/. As you move along your road in life, you accomplish goals and find it is time to plan the next goal. That next goal is defined in your personal development plan.

Plan daily activities from the task steps in your goal setting tool. Putting your task steps on a calendar increases the likelihood you will do those things you say you want to do. Remember life is what happens when you are busy making other plans, so plan on set backs and side trips. Just because you were unable to make vacation reservations today because your furnace melted down does not mean you failed. It means you fix the furnace and reschedule the time to do your vacation planning.roman-road_patrick-gantz_pxhere-cropped.jpg

No matter where in life you find yourself, a personal development plan is the map that helps you figure out which road to take next. Your personal development plan should include an assessment of your values so your achievements are aligned. You should look out three to five years in all aspects of your life, personal, family, spiritual, health, community, and professional. Your plan should have basic goals for your journey, flushing out details as you move along in life. A personal development plan helps you become the person you want to become, achieve accomplishments important to you, and experience life in your terms. Take time to create your road map for your life today.

 


Photo Credits

Stepping stones from pxhere.com  Creative Commons Zero License

The Light by Anne_Llse Helnrich from flickr.com Creative Commons Attribution License

Road Pavers by Patrick Gantz from pxhere.com Creative Commons Zero License

 

Showtime!

You spent hours preparing your outline. You used an equal amount of time making sure every slide was perfect; lots of pictures, few words. You know exactly what message you want to deliver. The only thing left is to make the presentation. hand-wood-alone-close-up-speech-shape-418328-pxhere.com.jpgWhether it is a sales pitch to a valuable customer, a strategy about a change in business practice for your boss, or a training for a group of employees, you know you are about to shine. The lights come up and it is show time. At the end of your presentation, you realize things could have gone better. You ask yourself, “What went wrong?” The answer is you failed to rehearse. Rehearsals are an overlooked preparation, separating professionals from amateurs. No actor would ever step foot on stage without rehearsing; neither should you.

Rehearsing is important before any presentation. hand-screen-man-working-coffee-technology-722541-pxhere.com.jpgRehearsals are like proofreading a document. Few professionals would send out their first draft of a letter. The best have others look over the content, for spelling and grammar. A presentation rehearsal accomplishes the same thing. It allows you to find errors before your audience sees the product. Steve Jobs was notorious for rehearsing dozens of hours before any presentation. TED speakers rehearse hundreds of times before appearing on the red spot.

Here are three rehearsal tips:  rehearse with a clock, practice using your media, and perform in front of a camera. Each has pros and cons. You should rehearse using more than one method.

sand-silhouette-light-white-glass-clock-910835-pxhere.com.jpgTime yourself. Practice with the time counting up and counting down. There are plenty of mobile applications available to help you meet your time hacks. You should know where you need to be in your presentation at particular points in time. Move quickly through your introduction. Quick introductions all time to present main points. Leave at the end to fit a quality conclusion. There is an old adage, “Tell them what your are going to say; say it; tell them what you said.” A rule of thumb for an introduction and conclusion is about 10% of your time for each. That leaves at least 80% of your time for the supporting points of your thesis. End a little short of your allowed time is better than running a few seconds long. The best way to nail your time is rehearsing.

Practice using your media. If you have slides, practice with just the slides. Slides reinforce the points you make verbally. They are not teleprompters. If you have video and audio, make sure they work. Always bring speakers suitable for the room. Practice writing your points on chart paper or boards. Neatness is important.

music-night-celebration-show-space-theatre-905766-pxhere.com.jpgRecord your rehearsal; watch your recording. Reviewing your recorded presentation allows you to edit. By the time you are on stage it is too late. Recording your presentation allows you to hear the pace and volume of your speech. You observe mannerisms, good and bad. You hear words that work well, and not so much. The recording allows you time to fix the bad and improve the good.

Your presentation is all about the story. Rehearsing ensures your story is heard, understood, and acted upon by others. Practicing reveals flaws in your presentation permitting corrections. Practice reinforces your strong points. Failing to rehearse before a presentation is like sending out a first draft of a written product. Your audience sees all the flaws. Time rehearsals. Use the media you intend to show. Record and watch yourself. Taking time to rehearse polishes your act. You present a professional image. Before your next presentation, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.


Photo Credits

All photos from pxhere.com.  No individual attribution provided.  CC0 license.

The Right Questions

You just finished briefing your boss on the latest proposal. You and your team spent hours hashing over details. You ensured you presented the big picture, highlighting critical points for understanding. You ask for questions and find your boss has plenty. schoolofathens.jpgYou wonder where you went wrong. The truth is you did a great job. Your boss understands the importance of asking critical questions about everything in the organization. The knows to verify things that appear to be one thing to ensure they are not something else. With experience, the boss learned the right questions to ask related to a host of issues and situations.

Using questions to stimulate discussion and analysis has been called the Socratic Methodi. The questions focus on learning information in areas of interest for the questioner. Quality answers are supported by proof in the form of an accepted fact, expectations based on analysis, data from test results, or another accepted proof. Challenging proof and conclusions occur next in the Socratic Method.

Puzzle-OlgaBerrlos.jpgSocratic questions that stimulate discussion and analysis may include:

– What is the risk related to that decision?

– How do we reduce the risk?

– What proof exists to demonstrate risk reduction?

– What impact will the decision have on … ?

– How does the organization deal with that impact?

– What other ideas did you explore and why were they not presented?

– What is the most important consideration and why?

– Are there examples of following a course from history; if so, what happened and why?

– What are your measures of success and how did you determine those measures?

– What are the costs in terms of money, influence, credibility, etc.?

These are only ten possible questions inspiring critical discussions and analysis issues or topics. They are a starting point. Use critical thinking questions to test your theories before presenting an idea to others. Ask someone to challenge your assessments with the Socratic Method. The more you practice, the better your assessments. Your ability improves by responding to challenging questions asked by others.

Experienced leaders develop core questions used in every analysis. Core questions stand the test of uncovering important information repeatedly. Experienced leaders develop questions for particular situations. Sometimes they are developed as the situation unfolds or come from preconfigured questions developed for different situations.

PuzzleSolved-OlgaBerrlos-mod.jpgWhether you are developing a course of action to market a new product, or deciding where to go on your next vacation, learning to ask the right questions helps you make better decisions. Questions that challenge conventional thinking allow decision makers to identify alternative courses of action and determine if they would be effective. Allowing others to challenge your conclusions with Socratic questioning improves your logical thinking. As you step into your next leadership position, or prepare a briefing for the boss, take time to think about questions to uncover the best solution to any situation.

Endnote

ihttp://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/socratic-teaching/606

Photo Credits

School of Athens by Raphael, 1509-1511 – photo by Frans Vandewalle from Flickr.com

Puzzle Pieces by Olga Berlos from Flickr.com

Puzzle Assembled ibid (modified by author)