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SMART rules & reward goals

Topic 4 from the “Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics” series

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Here we are at topic 4 already – the title is “SMART rules and reward goals”…

In this 3 pack episode (meaning this blog, plus the original video and the podcast), we talk about an old favorite of many – the SMART goal setting tool. Still, we incorporate a more modern flavor, leveraging off the gaming world and what has made this phenomenon so popular with the millennials and iGen groups.

And remember that we are using this approach in the context of delegation – i.e., how to get buy-in and positive, sustainable action towards the achievement of those delegated tasks or projects.

There is much debate today about whether the SMART approach to setting goals still works with our younger generations.

So during this episode, we’ll explore that concept a little deeper and identify how we can utilize the SMART structure while modernizing the method to still be useful in today’s business.

Let’s start with a review of our target…

The aim here is to delegate our Priority 3 and 2 tasks to a motivated, capable and engaged team in a way where the effort is sustainable – every leader’s dream, right?

If you have been with us since the beginning of this series, you should be starting to realize that there isn’t one single, fast cure-all in this equation.

Rather it’s a combination of carefully coupled actions (i.e., basic leadership skills) that enables the leader to excel. And a large portion of that success revolves around your team’s performance.

So in topic 2, “Motivating your future team,” we spent time exploring 7 key triggers for motivating each individual.

In topic 3, Creative Delegation Techniques, we took one step further and spoke about assessing each task’s complexity and the teams’ skills before deciding which tasks were best suited for which team member.

And do you also recall in topic 3 that we were careful to add those “activities of choice”?

We wish to take this journey one step further by establishing the requirements for each and every delegated activity.

Typically this is where we introduce our SMART acronym, and we still do, but understand that it’s just the starting point.

So let’s move onto this traditional tool and take a closer look at the pros and cons.

SMART is made up of 5 words…

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound – although in peak performance, we talk about the need to stretch and challenge the individual. Therefore, we prefer to use the word Ambitious instead of attainable. In itself, SMART forms a great guide to work through with employees as you assign their tasks..

Note, however, that we need clear determinability (meaning we must identify if the “objective is achieved or not achieved”). This is really of central importance.

There must be a criterion that allows everyone involved to clearly and unmistakably make that determination.

Remember, throughout this process, the secret lies in communicating your expectations concisely and allowing the team member to speak and express their thoughts. ” Based on the employee’s personal behavior motivators and skills, you would also include discussing the level of support and review that should take place throughout the activity.

At this moment the leader should…

Take the time to make clear that some additional rules apply as well as those just mentioned above;

  • If the achievement of the objective is endangered, the employee must provide early timely feedback to the leader.
  • The agreed objectives are documented.
  • The leader helps the employee to help themselves.

If you remember our earlier discussions, you will recall that we said all 4 of today’s working generations appreciate communications, clarity, and feedback, so no real issue so far. If this part is done correctly, it should be a positive and exciting experience for everyone involved.

However, the outcome is still somewhat predictable.

Now we want you to cast your mind back to Topic 3…

Yes, we introduced delegation, but in particular, something a little extra – the weekly meeting to discuss your project and progress.

This was an important step as recent studies have confirmed that the psychological effect of “making progress” is critical to sustained motivation. It encourages even higher levels of effort and opens the window to innovation.

When coupled with the team or peer collaboration, you have the chance of unlocking epic and creative performance improvement. A simple yet effective trigger is to ensure we are showcasing the various projects and discussing each person’s progress while obtaining support and feedback from the team.

So why do we bring this up now? Simply because you have the opportunity right here and now at this stage of setting the goals, setting the rules, and setting the periods for feedback, to tap into this powerful realization – your ability to design the work to be inherently motivating

You have the foundations laid. They are solid, based on everything we have covered to date. Now it’s time to look at your progress and development of SMART rules and reward goals.

Ask yourself if you have created that environment that enables and sustains great work. Have we bridged the gap between the old ways and the future needs? The gap which academics refer to as Constructive Discontent

Have we enabled the employee to do their work and therefore make the all-important progress? Have we designed the work to be inherently motivating?

To explore this, we will examine closely the way that game designers are thinking. How have they attracted an estimated 2.35 billion online video gamers worldwide collaborating by choice with each other?

It’s worth noting here that more than half of those are based in the Asia Pacific. In business, we know that today the rules of engagement and buy-in of our employees have changed. Therefore, we will explore what makes this gaming revolution so attractive to the millennial and iGen workforce.

How can we learn from and tap into this phenomenon to make our workplace activities equally enticing across all 4 generations?

Essentially game designers work on three elements – goal-driven, challenge intense, immediate feedback, all to provide a rich experience.  

Sounds somehow familiar, right – so are we really that far from a solution. The great realization is that we are very well positioned for this next quantum leap if we have already acted on the previous steps from topics 1, 2 & 3.

The gamer’s rewards are inherent from their success, based on their own skill and performance – the potential carrot and stick are there. Still, it’s much more intrinsic in the background, driven by a personal desire to do well and receive instant gratification and feedback based on ability and performance.

Have you picked up on that one missing element in most businesses today – it’s the removal of latency. Gamers receive instant feedback on their performance.

By contrast, many employees have no idea how their performance is seen until the annual performance review.

Did the light bulb just come on – do you now see the connection between the weekly progress and team collaboration meetings?

So let’s summarize what we have introduced in this topic 4 episode…

  • You must already action the learnings from Topics 1, 2 & 3. These form the basis for building a strong and successful team and turning your leadership from good to great.
  • We now add to that repertoire by establishing the task framework, expectations, and ground rules – using the traditional tool called SMART – ensuring that the targets are a stretch and challenge. This is an opportunity for you to sit with each of your team and discuss the project in detail, identifying support and resource requirements.
  • AND then, the extra element – we introduce as part of this planning an agreement to participate in weekly meetings to “establish that clear sense of progress.” This is done in collaboration with the team as each project is reviewed – for anyone familiar with the project management technique called Agile, you will see similarities here with sprints and regular update meetings
  • This then enables the “piece de resistance,” the icing of the cake, the “game-changer” from the past, incorporating the missing item – through that weekly meeting, employees receive that almost instant gratification and feedback as experienced and wanted through the gaming world.

And you probably expect it by now; there are secrets to how we need to offer this feedback. For gamers, it’s very black and white. Succeed and win, fail you lose!

Do we or should we take a similar harsh approach with our employees and their projects when they aren’t going so well – typically not! In fact, that goes against what we have already introduced. Instead, we offer feedback that doesn’t become stuck on the problem and reasons why not by turning our attention to what needs to be done to get the project back on track and completed.

More on this in our next topic, “Feedback strategies,” where we look forward to having you join us again for this vital and final step in establishing a high-performance team through genuine leadership.

These are basics skills but are coupled with the latest best practice learnings and studies in neuroscience. If you can put them in place, then you will truly separate yourself from the pack.

Remember to subscribe if you haven’t already and ;

Watch this video on our YouTube channel Mentors Rant

Listen to this podcast episode on Stitcher or iTunes or

Right-click here and “Save As” to download a copy of this podcast.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aH2Ppjpcho – various random experiments

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lhVUedc1a4 – connection

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YPW5QGErSs – self leadership

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2015/11/01/new-managers-6-tips-for-holding-employee-progress-review-meetings/#2bfee7e1502b – progress blog Forbes







https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQPShOARgAY – dr Jason fox – epic change

https://www.vgvids.com/join-online-gaming-revolution/ – blog article

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTACQSsKhdk – the rise of fortnite

The necessity for Change

“Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics.”

10 team skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Welcome to CHANGE or at least the “Necessity for Change.” As you can see from my appearance, we leave no stone unturned to re-enforce this message – visually and informatively.

We plan to paint a convincing picture of why your relationship with change is such a formative part of your Leadership credentials during this video. And how you can help others understand and follow your lead during what can be a highly dynamic and, therefore, challenging process to fulfill at work.

We have already aligned your chances for success in advance through the earlier topics introduced, so this exercise is just an extension of those learnings. While you may not realize it, we are living a life of constant daily change.

The only difference between change at work and change in your private life is that we may not always be in control of making the change at work, and therefore we become concerned by the uncertainty & potential impact. Let’s take a closer look at this concept as we launch into the topic. 

What age are you now? – in my case, I’m nearing 60, and as I cast my mind back to the earliest times I can recall – maybe around 3 or 4 years of age, I can see that things were quite different then compared to just five years later when I started playing competitive sport.

During those five years, of course, there was constant change as I developed and learned exponentially. Then the next ten years, moving from primary to high school (freedom!) These first 15 or so years were so formative, influencing my thoughts, my values and offering experiences that created my beliefs and shaped my behaviors. Ah, the memories …. But of course, it didn’t stop there; change continued during the next ten years – experiencing girls, cars, the beach, sport and introducing this thing called a job. And then a further ten years – the feeling of responsibility kicks in, with the addition of family, on top of work pressures.

Whatever your age or images, I’m sure you can see that until today your life has been in a constant flux of change – some of it planned and intentional, some forced and some unexpected. During this time, we reacted and responded, but we survived and most likely are stronger in our minds as a result.

On a personal level, technology has had a significant influence on the changes in my world – the use of calculators only came into practice towards the end of my high school years—computers a few years after that. I purchased my first desktop in 1986 with a DOS operating system and 20MB hard drive for AUD 5000. Ten years later, I read a book written by Bill Gates called Crossroads. He predicted that in five years, we would all be walking around with our world in our back pocket  – while his prediction was a little ambitious, it was an image that certainly painted a picture of significant change ahead. Today as we shoot this video, we are entering another significant moment in history where change is reshaping our lives – the technical convergence of AI, IoT, Internet 3.0, 5G, Quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, and the list goes on. I look at my five-year-old daughter, and I can’t help but wonder what her teenage life will be like ten years from now.

So, as we shift that image of constant change occurring everywhere in our personal lives across into the workplace, we need to ask why it becomes such an emotional process.

We know that all business, profit or non-profit, exists to provide a product and service to the customer which addresses their pain.

These pains (needs) change, and therefore a company’s solution also needs to change right. And we have witnessed countless examples over the decades where once-dominant companies in their field have disappeared entirely.

Why for the simple reason that they didn’t understand or ignored those changing needs. So the message is that a company that fails to keep pace with the changes happening all around it will soon be extinct.

Naturally, there is a range of considerations for all companies during any change process. What is the impact on employees? To the customer and with the systems and procedures? And importantly, the company culture?

We’ll be exploring a number of these elements as we delve deeper into this video.

For now, see if you can recall some industry titans from the past couple of decades that no longer exist or forced into a different direction? And by contrast, who are the current day titans (those dominating the landscape).

Past companies such as Kodak, compared to the Amazons, Microsoft, Apple, and Google who are presently shaping much of our current and future lives – history will tell the story, whether all of these will survive 20 years from now.

And then we have fewer examples of those mega-companies such as Disney that have been able to weather the changing storm and continue to dominate decade after decade. What is the secret to their success? I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a fascinating topic.

Where to start in unraveling some of the reasons? We have decided to introduce first the neurological aspect, as we’ve touched on this already with the Motivational discussion. It’s the fundamentals of what drives our emotions and subsequent behaviors.

We can explain this simplest by showing either the 5 stage Kubler-Ross Change Curve depicting morale & competence or using a more vivid example through the Claes Jansen Change House model.

The Kubler-Ross model illustrates five stages along a curve. Kubler-Ross places denial, frustration, depression, experiment & decision at different locations on the curve, measured across a time axis. In our graphic illustration, we have overlaid the curve onto the house to give you some resemblance of how this might work.

Typically, we start from the status quo (from contentment where everything is proceeding as normal, and we feel relaxed, comfortable there’s no sign of any storm looming – you might say the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

Suddenly, the environment encounters a change. I’m shocked and in denial of the need for such a change. As time progresses, we move to frustration and anger.

If not dealt with correctly, people may get stuck here. The best practice is to allow those involved to express their annoyance as part of the healing process.

After which, the realization starts to set in, and we often see depression or general apathy towards the situation. The good news is this is the turning point, and if you, as the leader, are present and supportive, we begin to climb out of the negative situation.

However, the next phase is that enter a state of confusion which is often the greatest challenge. Something may feel wrong, but we’re not sure what to do to make things right.

We could be tense with feelings of inferiority and doubts – this is where we will start to experiment with the new changes. To develop our understanding further and grow in our confidence about accommodating and using them.

We need to be conscious here that the new environment might not suit everyone. There is a risk that people may not accept the situation instead opting to leave and seek a different setting rather than stay. Finally, with more time, experience, and guidance, we reach the final stage or room – we make the decision to accept the changes and start to embrace them: they rebuild their ways of working. Only when people get to this stage can the organization begin to reap the rewards of the change initiative.

As you may imagine, there is a large degree of preparation and careful planning required to have any chance of success during any change initiative. Clearly understanding where you are today and what the future state looks like through both mindset and behaviors.

Give due consideration to your stakeholder’s reactions (whether it’s your team, customers, suppliers, etc.) and make this based on their motivation, attitude, and abilities.

And then finally, being able to think through the entire implementation process and communicating with clarity. By demonstrating your belief in the changes and leading from the front, ensuring that the necessary supporting systems, tools, or procedures are available and working. And exploring the need for additional stakeholder development, coaching, and guidance to enable implementation. You can see illustrated on the screen the four broad steps mentioned in this entire change process. We are now going to explore the requirements of the last two steps, starting with WHAT & HOW.

We focus on Mindset and Behavior Change using the “from-to” tool before introducing the implementation guideline technique called BCM or Behavior Change Model. And how to incorporate the Change Story for more powerful communications. 

With every Change initiative, clarity of purpose is extremely important. Starting therefore with the exercise to define “What is the current status and what is it we desire for the future” 

This definition then enables us to explore the stakeholders’ current related mindset. Changing the mindset to align with that defined future state is perhaps the most critical factor in achieving success within the change process.

It’s foundational in being able to reshape behavior, and so we introduce here a simple 3 part tool, which Leaders can utilize together with their stakeholders, and we start by identifying where they are today – i.e.

What is the current status? How do current behaviors and their underlying mindset support this status – which we list in the “From” column.

The tool provides us with powerful insights, as we have already defined our desired future state, and therefore we can now determine what our mindset and behavior need to look like to achieve that state.

Hence in the “To” column, we list these new thoughts, beliefs and rules, and necessary activities as a consequence. Based on this realization, we can then develop the necessary actions to drive that change in mindset and behavior from today to the future vision.

And therefore, the time has arrived to start making the change a reality. We consider the actions needed to implement this Change initiative and to be successful.

For those familiar with John Kotter’s famous 8 step Change model, you will notice some similarities in the model we are about to introduce. There are numerous models available to you, so feel free to utilize what works best for you.

In our case, we are going with a simple and visually easy four-quadrant model, referred to as the Behavior Change Model. Our four quadrants cover the actions required “Creating understanding,” Being a role model, aligning systems, and Building capabilities.

To create understanding, we need to focus on our Communications skills mentioned a little earlier. Ensuring that every stakeholder has clarity around the change reason. It’s the starting point where we provide the rationale – introducing the big picture and zooming in to the local level, outlining timing, approach, systems, training, etc.

Then address what I’m required to do as a result and what’s the impact. Later we introduce the “Change Story” technique to support you here.

From this, we move to quadrant 2. We explore the required actions for leaders to demonstrate their belief in this change.

You essentially want to illustrate that you champion the initiative and will lead the way with adoption. Don’t underestimate this step – the stakeholders will be watching you closely to gauge your buy-in.

Quadrant 3 & 4 help us consider the supporting systems, tools, processes, and training associated with this change. Are they available? It is part of the change involving new technology that replaces existing legacy systems and will generate extra workload to introduce resistance. Whatever the case, you need to have considered carefully the actions required and the resulting reactions. Rigorously, working through each of the four implementation stages will greatly increase your chances of success which in itself a significant achievement considering that 70% of all Change Initiatives fail.

And finally, to put the icing on the cake – let’s ensure that you can celebrate that success by providing all of your communication throughout the process are effective and engaging. To do so, we introduce easy to remember five key elements in developing our Change Story.

  1. Have the right parts and structure – i.e., make it personable, stating the BIG REASON WHY change is necessary. Paint the vision, the goals, what will they be doing differently in the future? What is expected of them, and what are the next steps?
  • Tie your story to a strong analogy – introduce a theme or fable which can be easily associated back to this change initiative and is enticing and motivating.
  • Grab the stakeholders’ attention with a teaser. – create some buzz and excitement within the story around the change process using something relevant and enforceable.
  • Spark emotions – the story should stir up emotions. Remember the motivational methods covered in Topic 2

And finally, as made famous by Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits – always have the end in mind. Make the ending of your story positive, and the recipients wanting to know more.

Something to keep firmly in mind throughout this entire Change process, and I’ll quote John Kotter again here – “Do not declare victory too soon.”

The secret is to remember the Change Curve and the reality that change is a process that takes time. People need the opportunity to work through their emotions, and while they can be supported and guided, not forced! So this brings us to the end of this topic, “Necessity for Change.” We hope you have gained a brief insight into the “Why What and How of Change?”

Our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world today requires that we not only understand this change need but that we leaders must also champion the process.

As we move into our next and second last topic, “Pitching your value-based strategies,” we’ll take a peek into the need for balance between performance and values and the impact of strong culture based on diversity and inclusion.  How does this guide your approach in the pursuit of strategic objectives? Until then, stay safe and keep learning. Bye for now!

Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

10 skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques”

written by Wayne Brown

Hello again, and welcome to our series called Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics – and you’ve already reached topic 3 – Creative Delegation Techniques.

We now have 2 big topics behind us “Understanding your place in the team and Motivating your future team. But I’m very happy to say that we are still just getting started, and today’s discussion is equally important and challenging…

In this 3 pack – video, podcast, and associated blog, we’re going to break down our delegation process under 3 broad questions – WHY delegate, WHAT to delegate and HOW to delegate.

With the first question, “WHY delegate,” – we’ll identify that there can be multiple reasons but explore 3 which are key;

  • The first is to enable us to address stakeholders’ expectations. As discussed in Topic 1, we have numerous Stakeholders with far too many expectations, which we almost certainly, don’t have the capacity or perhaps even the necessary skills to cope with. 
  • Secondly, we have potentially 4 generations and considerable diversity in our workforce today whom we need to motivate and cultivate. 

We spoke about the need and ways of motivating from a neuro-science perspective in Topic 2. We also realize that many of our team are experts in their field and capable of working under pressure and coming up with practical new ideas, leading to positive outcomes.

  • And finally, we simply need time to give adequate attention to doing our job as a leader. To work on those critical tasks such as strategic planning, growth, managing the business, reporting, and team/s, to name just a few areas.

Suppose you recall the conversation about work-life balance from Topic 1. In that case, you will remember that we need to find a long-term solution to managing our workload rather than coping with everything as this isn’t sustainable. 

When adopting the wrong approach, we eventually give inadequate focus, time, and effort to all 3 mentioned areas and thereby fail to reach a successful result more often than not.

So, this covers our question on “WHY delegate.” Next, we turn our attention to the question of “WHAT to delegate.”

This second question starts with the realization that we can’t and shouldn’t delegate everything just for the sake of it. 

Hence, before delegating we need to make a conscious decision about:

  • the skill and willingness of the employee to take on the task,
  • the complexity and urgency of the task,
  • the amount of support we will need or be willing to provide,
  • there’s even the need to avoid delegating some tasks,

So, the leader really must be aware of and consider these questions fully from the outset.

And to assist us with this we introduce two models which come with simple tools as support.

And to assist us with this, we introduce two models which come with simple tools as support. 

The first is from the 34th American president. A gift to business called the Eisenhower matrix, and the second is the skill/will matrix from Blanchard and Hersey.

Before moving onto these areas or tools, we need to first explore a little on the reasons behind some managers’ reluctance to delegate. 

A number of these reasons may sound trivial, or perhaps a few will even sound familiar, but most are common among managers.

Here are 10 limiting statements which we have heard and even seen being played out by various managers – you notice we don’t use the term Leader in this discussion. 

Aside from the fact that we should already be clear that you don’t have sufficient time to do everything – and even in the situation where you work long hours, we know that it’s not sustainable. 

And in all instances, there are actions you can take to alleviate your concerns. 

As usual, you will find links throughout our blog to additional material, which will help deepen your learnings where needed. 

However, if you still need more convincing, please refer back to the beginning of this topic and review 3 key reasons WHY we delegate.

  • With that clarity, let’s examine the Eisenhower matrix – we use it to help us group our tasks before selecting which ones to delegate. 

Typically, we agree that Quadrant 1 tasks are for the leader or manager to handle due to the urgency and importance. 

These pressing tasks often preclude you from having an employee do it UNLESS the employee is already an expert in this area. 

However, it may be a good idea with non-confidential or sensitive tasks to have a team member work on the job with you as a means of developing their skills for the longer term.

  • From the Eisenhower matrix and your groupings, the best area to select tasks for delegation comes out of Quadrant 3. Besides, it will also be useful to choose from Quadrant 2 for specific items.

If you’re unsure how to use this tool, check out the link provided here to a great site, which steps you through the process. 

And we’ll outline under the final category in this topic, “How to delegate” – what to do with this list and how to distribute the chosen tasks among your team. 

Please be aware that there are sometimes where we agree that it’s not appropriate to delegate. The following tasks are examples where we would normally not delegate and are typically leadership and management tasks: 

• Employee evaluation meetings  

•  Strategic planning

•  Team development

•  Final decisions

•  Personnel selection

•  Tasks that have been delegated to you explicitly 

Not surprisingly, you will find most of these tasks in Quadrant 1 or perhaps Quadrant 2. And of course, as mentioned before, it does not mean that you can’t include some of your employees here to assist you and learn from you in the process for future support.

A manager needs to consider one further critical question: the level of support, focus, or control that the task and a team member would require. 

For the task, we should consider the;

  • complexity, urgency, and consequences if it is delayed or not completed correctly. 
  • And for the employee, we need to consider their qualification for the task and motivation to accept the assignment. 

We’ll now introduce our second model to help us address some of these concerns.

Starting with the model called the Skill / Will matrix.

The matrix can be used to assess your employee’s skill and willingness to perform a specific task or project. 

Based on that assessment, you can choose how to best manage the employee towards success. Note that an employee is seldom in one quadrant all the time but is likely to fall into one or more quadrants depending on the task.

Some of the supporting questions you might ask in parallel with your assessment are;

  • Does the employee have the necessary time and resources available? 
  • Does the employee have the essential professional qualifications to be able to successfully accomplish the task? 
  • Does the employee have the required overarching competencies? 
  • Would this task entail an increase in the capability and personal development of the employee? 
  • Does the job to be delegated accord with the employee’s motivation? 
  • How will the team / other departments react if the employee takes on the task? 
  • Will it be seen as fair if the employee is awarded this task? 

We’ve reached the final category, “HOW to delegate,” and until now, we have given you a lot of material, but not really anything new or creative. So that’s about to change!

Let’s first do a pulse check to ensure you’re clear about the tasks you have selected for delegation – if not, these should be sitting in the Eisenhower matrix you prepared. 

Also, you have considered the level of support, focus, and control needed for each task, plus determined with the aid of the skill/will matrix and your earlier work using the SCARF model which employees to delegate to which task.

If you are good with all of these, we’re now ready to go back to your Eisenhower model. Next to the quadrants, if you have not already done so, make a list of all your employees. Beside each of their names and at the top of any delegated tasks, write the words “Activity of Choice  TBC.” 

For the next step – send your team a group communication and invite them to join a meeting – at a date and time of your choosing, provided it’s not too far off. 

As part of the communication, you explain that this meeting will become a regular weekly or bi-weekly event. For the first meeting, each person should prepare at least one work-related activity they would be really passionate about and love to work on – they have the freedom to decide what it is. Still, they need to introduce the topic at the meeting, and it will be voted on and agreed upon by the group.

To open the meeting, you introduce the concept and purpose of this and future meetings. You advise that each team member will be allowed to develop their skills through various tasks or projects that you will be assigned to them. Also, they have their “Activity of Choice” – provided it makes the cut.

Moving forward at these future meetings, each team member will discuss the projects they are working on, the current status, and the next actions. 

By doing this, everyone in the team becomes aware of each-others work and will be required to discuss or contribute ideas to those projects.

Once each new “Activity of choice” is agreed on by the group, the project leader will have the time and resources allocated (after final approval with you, of course).

During that first meeting, you will ask each person to write their desired activity on the whiteboard and briefly introduce it to the group. 

As a group, you discuss the idea, the likely resources, and the time allocation needed? What value might it bring to the group and the business overall? If any other group member has a similar interest and would prefer to forgo their project to work on one of the others, they can do so. 

By the end of this first meeting, there should be a decision about who is working on what activity or project.  

Following this meeting, you meet with each person to detail the activities/projects / or tasks, and we’ll cover that process in our next topic – “SMART rules and reward goals.” 

For all future meetings, one final step – at the beginning of each meeting and before moving into the activity reviews, you have a compulsory “check-in” session where all team members share stories about what they did during the last weekend? 

This takes the degree of team connectedness to the next level and softens the relationships from being “all business, all the time.”

Do you recall our 3 whys for delegating – sharing the workload to satisfy your stakeholders, providing opportunities for team development and growth, plus freeing you up to focus on the tasks you need to do as a leader! 

In addition to achieving these goals, can you envisage the power of what you have unlocked through this final step in the process?

By allowing each generation to work on something they are passionate about, rather than only working on those activities delegated to them, you empower your people and create a sense of contribution, perhaps even unlocking untapped potential. 

By keeping the activities visible to the whole group, you ensure transparency, accountability, and engagement, even a sharing of learnings. This, in turn, should minimize conflict or, at worst, bring issues to the surface quickly so they can be openly discussed and resolved. 

So, who would have thought that this simple act of delegation could bring so many real team benefits?

Well, were making great progress. Hopefully, as we conclude each topic, you find an opportunity to practice what has been discussed. 

You should already start to see some fairly dramatic changes in your teams’ engagement and performance if you have been.

Our next video introduces us to the Virtual Gaming world as we tap into the secrets behind its popularity and apply this to our more traditional approach of managing by objectives. 

The title is “SMART rules and reward goals” – as always, we are looking forward to having you join us. Bye for now.

Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics

Ten skills at the heart of every leader’s arsenal.

“Topic 7 – Problem Solving Situations”

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Congratulations on turning back into this next topic which deals with problem-solving around your stakeholders and projects. Wayne here again, and I will host you through this episode.

Until this point, we have focused on building the team dynamics and disrupting the traditional ideas or approaches in areas such as motivation, delegation, and feedback.

The 1st portion of this episode will deal specifically with creating self-awareness around your leadership style in managing conflict and how to respond to team challenges or difficult conversations. We shall broaden this perspective for the remainder of the video to look at how to engage the stakeholder in Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Creative Thinking constructs. 

It`s a fascinating and incredibly insightful leg of the journey, as it’s one of the “basics” areas practiced least often by leaders. Therefore we can’t wait to share these ideas with you, as we know the learning and subsequent outcome for you and your team is enormous. 

So please get comfortable, take a notebook in hand & focus your energy as we step through this topic called Problem Solving Situations.

If you have followed the steps introduced in our previous six episodes, you will have greatly reduced the likelihood of dealing with argumentative stakeholders, particularly those in your team. And if you recall, during topic 5 Feedback Strategies, we introduced a few models for successfully delivering feedback – using FAST, BOOST, and SBI, which are among the more popular methods today. 

So, it’s probably no real surprise that when you are the leader introducing change, the recipients may not always be on the same page as you. Nor will they always agree with your opinion or actions. Whether the change relates to a new process, systems, or tools, offering constructive feedback, or any number of other diverse situations. 

The learning here is that this is a natural part of leadership, as everyone is an individual. While they may, for the most part, be loyal team players, cooperative colleagues, understanding bosses, or considerate clients, they will still hold unique personal values, beliefs, and perspectives. These may not always align with the working environment, situation, or discussion.

Therefore, as a starting point in this episode, we want you to reflect on your conflict handling style. This self-awareness of your style preference will greatly enhance your ability to handle different scenarios (if you choose to utilize it) with various stakeholders more effectively and avoiding unintentional escalation of the matter. 

For this, we introduce a very popular tool called the Thomas-Kilmann model of Conflict Management. This model compares our chosen level of assertiveness against our willingness to cooperate in a conflict situation and defines five different conflict styles which we can and do adopt as a result. 

Ranging between a win-win outcome through collaboration on the one hand and total avoidance of the issue at the other end. In between these two extremes, we also have three different styles; 

  • Competing, where you are highly assertive with little willingness to cooperate, tends to create a win-lose outcome. 
  • Accommodating, where you are highly cooperative, however normally at your own expense. Of course, this might be intentional, for example, where you wish to preserve the relationship. 
  • And lastly, through Compromise, such as in a sales negotiation process where there is typically give & take, it can also be considered a lose-lose situation as neither party achieves what they desire. 

Depending on the stakeholder and the situation in conflict, you may elect to use any of the five styles. Even selecting a combination of more than one of these options. 

We’ll go deeper into conflict management in the Advanced series. Still, we will include several links to videos and articles to help with your self-awareness and understanding of how you can utilize this knowledge during future conflict situations. 

We would encourage you to complete the questionnaire included in the episode blog on our site amentorscouch.com and practice using the five styles.

And back to our reality that all leaders should expect this conflict scenario to present itself at some stage. It’s important, therefore, to prepare ourselves (by knowing our default styles) and learn to allow the stakeholders to air their grievances, voice their concerns, and state their thoughts without you reacting inappropriately. 

It’s pleasing to know that we can predict with a degree of accuracy (based on numerous studies in this field) when conflict arises during team feedback sessions, the types of pushback to expect. Knowing this enables us to be somewhat prepared ahead of the communication. 

Typically, the recipient will express one or more of these four responses if confronted about an issue. 

  1. They deny that the situation exists, so you need to support the claim with facts and examples.
  2. They may trivialize the scale of the situation, stating that it’s not a big issue – in this situation, you support your claim with an outline of the impact and why it matters.
  3. They may try shifting the blame onto others. Here it would help if you allowed the recipient to detail the situation as they see it and explain the causes. Dig into the problem to find the root cause.
  4. Shifting blame onto a lack of personal knowledge or skill – here, you would explore together which capability is missing and agree if this is truly the cause. If so, decide on a solution together.

In the end, it’s important to reach an agreement on a way forward with concrete actions, the nomination of the responsible persons, and clear timeline milestones.

The more you expose yourself to this challenge, the better you will handle the situation and manage your style. Of course, you utilize the tools provided and practice the communication methods already highlighted. 

Remember to be factual and base the feedback on your observations, not hear-say, park your emotions, allow time for input from the recipient and work towards solutions, don’t get bogged down in the issue or problem. Keep moving the discussion towards the solution.

But what if we encounter a more complex problem with a larger group? The issue will require a somewhat different approach. 

Let’s consider that your company is working on a large project and have encountered a significant problem that could jeopardize the completion date and financial outcome. 

People start becoming emotional, the atmosphere is heated, and the blame game is rampant. How can we calm down the situation and move things towards a solution? The obvious step would be to call the team meeting, paint the picture, and demand cohesion and joint effort.

We see this approach repeatedly and with a similar outcome – most often with little change in project performance or success.

Thankfully, it’s possible and relatively easy to disrupt this mentality by introducing a little logic and process to the equation – we kick start this with our Problem Solving mindset and later elaborate on the process with Critical and Creative Thinking techniques. 

We were referring to earlier these steps when we said that most managers fail to utilize the group’s collective genius to identify and solve complex problems fearing that the process takes too much time or, more often, that they don’t know how or what to do. 

So let’s unpack this approach in greater detail, understand more about each component, and examine some supporting tools. And we start with the traditional Problem Solving methodology.

Starting with an understanding of this term Problem Solving and the realization that many companies have developed their practices to incorporate one or more problem-solving methods as standards in their daily work activities. You can see the definition and a small sampling (10) of common problem-solving techniques/tools on the screen. It is not an exhaustive list as there are many approaches, but most share a common theme.

This problem-solving approach became very popular in the automotive industry around quality topics in the 1980s and utilized many of these assessment tools. It has since spread to all business areas and usually with a simplified methodology such as Constructive or Inductive Reasoning techniques and perhaps PDCA – plan do check act – to name a few. Links to these and other methods will be in the blog. 

To help you understand better, we would like to introduce a simple but effective method, which relates to the concept and how our problem-solving theory applies in your business practices with stakeholders and major projects.

The approach covers the principles adopted in the majority of methods while utilizing a simple 6 step model. Hence the reason I prefer this, particularly when working with groups that are not familiar with traditional problem-solving techniques. 

Each of the six steps has multiple characteristics, which we adhere to or question during that stage, plus at the same time, we’ll incorporate various tools or techniques for drilling deeper into the problem. 

The process starts with step 1, “Defining the problem.” In this step, we look to diagnose the situation to focus on the problem, not just its symptoms. For this stage, we introduce the end-to-end process review in the form of a flow diagram to ensure we are clear about what happened across the entire activity.

Next, in step 2, we “Determine the root causes or causes.” Meaning, what is it that is causing us to wind up with this problem or situation? We use tools such as the cause and effect diagram and the 5 Why questioning technique to explore the linkage further.

In step 3, we need to “Define alternative solutions” – typically using lateral thinking exercises such as brainstorming; we try to identify all possible answers. We are considering everything which may be helpful.

Then in Step 4, we “Select a solution or solutions” after grouping, prioritizing, and considering the possibilities before choosing the one/s which you believe will resolve the matter.

Implement the change” is the next step. Implementation can be a simple or complex process and may involve multiple sub-steps depending on the scale of the problem. 

And finally, in Step 6, we continue to monitor and evaluate the results after the implementation.

We could, of course, stop here as this Problem Solving approach alone will result in a high degree of success over most problems and resolve most disagreements. But, we want to make sure you have a fully endowed knowledge base along with an arsenal of tools. Therefore we’re going to incorporate the applications of creative and critical thinking. 

These two separate elements are highly powerful as stand-alone topics and could have had an episode devoted to each. Still, in our case, we want to highlight merely their value add & show how to couple them together for greater problem-solving effectiveness.

Let’s start by introducing creative thinking to expand the range of our solutions, particularly during step 3 of our Problem Solving exercise. 

The concept of creative thinking and using outside of the box, innovative thoughts helps move from convergent to divergent ideas. 

You are looking for alternative solutions rather than only one correct outcome. To create the right stimulation for this creative thinking process to occur, you need to establish the right environment and combine the right ingredients – such as a diverse group of people with different roles, different backgrounds, different cultures, age, gender, expertise, and so on, as and where appropriate. Plus, be sure to define the game rules for the creativity exercise clearly.

With this in place, we can call on different creative thinking tools and techniques. There are many tools to select from –Brainstorming, Mind mapping from Tony Buzan, Six Hats from Edward Debono, plus some less known approaches such as SCAMPER. 

These tools can be supported by following more abstract and remotely practiced suggestions from people like Balder Onarheim and the use of pre-practiced activities such as “continuous practice.” You train your mind to think creatively, use dream sleep to solve a stated problem or use randomness to trigger abstract connections to the problem. Whichever you select, the aim is to enhance the solution ideation. 

And then, of course, once we have these new, untested thoughts, how can we assess them? And that’s our bridge to the use of Critical Thinking in our problem-solving process. 

So what is critical thinking – it can be defined as a developed skill acquired through practice, enabling us to think clearly and rationally and understand the logical connection between ideas. 

It refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment. Critical thinking involves evaluating sources such as data, facts, observable phenomenon, and research findings. 

Good critical thinkers can draw reasonable conclusions from a given set of information and discriminate between useful and less useful details to solve a problem or make a decision. 

Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. 

So, if we reflect on our 6-step problem-solving process, we have already utilized Creative Thinking during step 3 to enhance and broaden our possible solution pool. 

In step 4, while selecting the most effective solution, we can apply our critical thinking to challenge our rationale, based on the data provided in steps 2 & 3. The outcome will be concise, well thought through reasoning, which sits behind the solution selection process.

And there we have the complete approach – we started with the simple feedback situations and encountering individual disagreement or resistance. Learning about our conflict management style and then broadened our perspective to more complex issues affecting larger projects and groups. 

For these, we introduced a simple 6 step Problem-Solving methodology that encapsulates both Creative and Critical Thinking practices.

And I want to share a highly effective example of addressing a problem that combines all three elements. Problem-solving combines creative and critical thinking through a systems thinking model referred to as a “collaborative visualization” approach. 

Addressing the problem through this systems model and using drawings of images on sticky notes or pads, arranging them in the correct sequence expands on the end-to-end process flow through group collaboration. It produces a visual frame of reference offering both clarity and alignment. 

Tom Wujec demonstrates the approach on his website called DrawToast and his Wicked Problem Solving™ toolkit. 

Having facilitated workshops where groups used the approach, I can vouch for its effectiveness. We will include a link to this website and TEDTalk to gauge the method’s effectiveness for yourself.

And so to conclude and introduce the next topic. We have now provided you a 3 part mini-series related to feedback, celebrating success, managing conflict, and solving problems with this topic closing. Applying the learnings from these three videos alone will stand you apart from most leaders. 

Therefore, please do yourself a favor and review them again if there is anything you are unclear about and remember to visit our site called amentorscouch.com to access each transcript which contains all of the topic-related links.   

With only three videos remaining in this Basics series, you have reached the business end of proceedings. Up next, topic eight dealing with the Necessity for Change. I have a little surprise lined up for you in this episode, but you’ll need to wait until we release it to see more. 

The final two topics cover “Pitching value-based strategies” and “Running with your game plan.”

In these three episodes, we bring into scope “Self-Awareness.” An MIT Sloan Management Review article cites self-awareness as the most important capability for any leader. While self-awareness, similar to communication, has always been a foundational part of this program, it will become a more visible component in our discussions as our attention turns towards you more so than the team or other stakeholders. 

I can’t wait to bring the Change story to you, but until then, stay safe and be careful driving—cheers for now.

*** difficult conversations

difficult conversations  – it’s ok to include

difficult conv. Mistakes

**** great starting video – opens the reason why people disagree



blog about difficult situations – 9 rules


additional blog and perspectives


3rd blog on difficult conversations 

Problem Solving

  *** (problem-solving intro)

(too long and heavily focused on quality)

 **** (a great video that can support the concept)

  • Group models work much better than individual


IDEA model – looks at multiple tools for each four steps



Problem-solving skills – Mind Tools


using a 4 step problem-solving method


3rd article on problem-solving

Critical Thinking

 *** (short intro to critical thinking)

(tedTalk on three questions to encourage critical questions)

 *** critical thinking five tips



critical thinking blog


critical thinking blog # 2

Creative Thinking

 *** creative thinking – good video

brainstorming video

mind mapping – Tony Buzan

original thinkers – not bad



creative thinking blog # 1


creative thinking blog #2 – add the characteristics


Brainstorming blog by Mind Tools


mind mapping blog

 “Topic 7 – Problem Solving Situations

Video content framework:

Part 1:   Difficult conversations:

– continuation from feedback

  • Why is it needed, and why are some employees more difficult than others?
  • Simple process – can include BOOST and other models
  • Offer likely employee response and your reaction

Part 2:   Problem Solving for difficult situations

  • Define it and when would we introduce it – build on team development to date.
  • Introduce various models but focus on simple ones

Part 3:   Critical Thinking – an acquired skills

  • Define it and when / how to introduce it – build on the past two parts
  • Consider this a new skill that could be useful for leaders and teams to learn.
  • Introduce the process and specific characteristics of a critical thinker 

Part 4:   Creative Thinking – icing on the cake

  • Define it and when/how to use
  • Introduce the practice of brainstorming and mind mapping
  • Value of creative people in the team (original thinkers- procrastination vs. procrastination) 
  • procrastination is a vice when it comes to productivity but can be a virtue for creativity.

Summarize and intro next topic – create the link from this topic and the methods we introduced to the practice of being successful with change. 

“Leaders need to excel in the basics_EiB_104.1”

couchTALK: Coaching our elevator-escalator global tribe

“Constant change requires leaders to excel in the basics”

10 skills at the heart of every leaders arsenal.

  • Video 1  –  Understanding your place in the team
  • Video 2  –  Motivating your future team
  • Video 3  –  Creative delegation
  • Video 4  –  SMART rules and rewarding goals
  • Video 5  –  Feedback strategies
  • Video 6  –  Achievement reviews
  • Video 7  –   Problem & solution solving
  • Video 8  –   The necessity for Change
  • Video 9  –   Pitching value-based strategies
  • Video 10 –  Running with your game plan

Hello and welcome to couchTalk episode – 104. This time we are helping to launch a new 10 video program on our YouTube channel called Mentors Rant.

The progam focuses on the coming changes through technology and the need to get centered with the basic skills surrounding Leadership in our elevator-escalator global tribe.

In my article titled “10 Essential Leadership Skills for ’2019-20 – Our final opportunity to get the basics locked-in”, I state;

The age of Industry 4.0 is upon us and with it comes Big data, IoT, quantum computing, AI, Internet 3.0, 5G, Augmented reality and much more.

Individually each of these breakthroughs will, are changing our lives. With the convergence of these technologies however they will completely re-design the way we live and work in the near future.

For leaders to maintain their edge and to stay abreast of these immense changes to the way our people think, behave and perform, we must have at the very least, a set of basic leadership skills firmly embedded in our DNA. And without trying to over dramatize the situation …  

“There isn’t a lot of time remaining for each of us to prepare for this gravitational shift – a digital quantum leap as such!”

Experts are predicting that in less than 5 years from now we will be living and working entirely different from our norms of today. With this in mind let’s move on to review the 10 basics covered by our videos.

You can also find this podcast on Stitcher and iTunes;

Right click here and “Save As” to download a copy of this episode to your computer

What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Highly effective presentations for every leader”

  • Video 1.01 – Preparing to present like a Pro
  • Video 1.02 – What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in
  • Video 1.03 – Leaders that chunk, link, recall and review, win
  • Video 1.04 – Leaders need to learn how to close

Welcome back to “Highly effective presentations for every leader” – have you already complete episode # 1.01 – Preparing to present like a pro? 

As this is a series of 4 episodes, it will make it much easier to watch them in sequence. However, don’t despair; if time is short (and isn’t for everyone), we will start here with a summary of episode 1.01. 

So, it seems you’re about to get started with episode 1.02. 

Here we identify what leaders need to do during the crucial opening moments. 

In the final two episodes, 1.03 & 1.04, titled “Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win” and “Leaders need to learn how to close,” respectively, we’ll investigate how to structure great presentations and then the methods for closing on a high.

5 key considerations from the previous episode – “Preparing to present like a Pro.”           

  • # 1: Know your audience
  • # 2: Structure your presentation
  • # 3: Create great visuals
  • # 4: Powerful questions & engaging activities
  • # 5: Prepare through practice

From episode 1.01 – Preparing to present like a Pro, we covered these 5 key considerations.

– and said to remember that preparation helps you to stay Participant Centred throughout the presentation. 

Let’s quickly recap on what we have covered so far.

#1 Know your audience 

  • meaning know who will be participating and how experienced they are on the subject 

#2 Structure your presentation 

  • by this, we mean actively chunk topics and create links or bridges between these topics, using the rule of 3 and incorporate stories.

#3 Create great visuals 

  • – remember simple is best, so they are easy to read and understand. 65% of adults have a visual learning preference. 

#4 Prepare powerful questions and engaging activities 

  • do some research on questioning techniques such as “funneling and develop simple activities.

#5 Prepare through practice 

  • experts say there are typically 3 presentation versions for every eventual delivery – Each individual needs to develop their own method which works best for them.

7 concepts of memory (listed in order of importance)

Primacy, Recency, chunking, linking, record & recall, review & revisit and outstandingness. 

# 1 in order of importance is Primacy – covered in this episode

# 2 in order of importance is Recency – covered in episode 1.04

# 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 – covered in episodes 1.03 & 1.04.

Before jumping into episode 1.02, we would like to give you a short intro to the 7 concepts of memory (listed here in order of importance) – Primacy, Recency, Chunking, Linking, Record & Recall, Review & Revisit, and Outstandingness.

As stated, # 1 is Primacy – i.e., the thing our participants remember the most from your presentation is the opening (particularly if it stinks).

The second most important is how you close – i.e., Recency

– the last things we hear, do, or say before completing the presentation 

– we address this item in episode 4 of this series.

Whilst #’s 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 (the remaining 5 concepts) we’ll cover in episodes 3 & 4.

So, it’s clearly important if we want people to retain the experience and learnings from our presentation that we turn our focus to these 7 concepts in the remaining 3 episodes.

Let’s now begin with episode 1.02.

Episode 1.02: What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in.”

Starting now with the 3 vital considerations specific to our second episode – “What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in.”

– 1st captivate “From the very beginning.” 

– 2nd nailing those “opening comments.” 

– 3rd “Engage through Story.” 

Consideration # 1:            From the very beginning 

  • Dress to impress 
  • Communicate through body language 
  • Standstill – don’t rock or prowl

Consideration # 1:            First impressions are critical, so fromthe very moment you appear, the clock is running, and your audience is making their judgment about you and the likely presentation.

Therefore, make your actions and expressions purposeful 

  • approach the podium confidently, 
  • pause in silence, 
  • scan the room, 
  • raise your eyebrow 
  • and smile. 

People connect more with the top half of your face than the bottom, hence the eyebrow movement but smiling is infectious, so don’t miss it.  

Dress to impress – meaning neatly, regardless of dress code 

– if it’s stated that the dress code is smart casual on the smart side. If more formal, make sure you are clear on the requirements – NEVER underdress.

Use of body language for successful engagement 

> 50% of your communication occurs through your body language. 

  • Standstill – don’t prowl excessively – in the beginning, move more from the hips and plant your feet. 
  • Avoid rocking backward or forward or swaying. 
  • Keep hands visible in front of you. Use them to emphasize a point but don’t become the flag bearer waving wildly.

Consideration # 2:            Opening comments 

  • Remember the “WHY”   
  • Remember the “HOW” 
  • Voice control 
  • Graphic visual image

Consideration # 2:            Opening comments 

– use a powerful intro to give the subject substance & connect to the audience 

When we say “Remember the WHY,” – consider that we are all presenters at some stage in our career. 

The audience is there because they are wanting to hear and learn something new. Ensure your opening confirms their trust in you and reason for listening. 

“Remember the HOW” – by demonstrating through words your Honesty, Authenticity, Integrity, Love – or HAIL, as Julian Treasure refers to it in his 2013 TED Talk on “How to speak so that people want to listen.” 

Julian further defines HAIL “as to greet or acclaim enthusiastically.”

Additionally, lock the audience into you with your voice control 

  • don’t speak too fast or too speedily, 
  • ensure the right tone, 
  • volume and pitch. 

If you have a voice like me, use aids to assist you.

Introduce the subject using words that paint a graphic, visual image. 

  • Explore and express the subject in a way that the audience will connect with. 

Consideration # 3:            Engage through Story 

  • Use stories to link yourself
  • Be relatable
  • And have fun!

Consideration # 3:            Engage through Story 

  • and understand the difference between telling me and showing me a story. 

Learning to become a storyteller is one of your most powerful aids as a presenter. 

Discover how to unpack a story by taking the time to detail and explore details and living each moment.     

Where possible, link yourself into the subject through this story as a means of self-introduction and introducing your background.

Be careful to stay relatable – authentic by being yourself, relaxed, engaging, enthusiastic. If the story is too unbelievable, then more likely that it won’t be.

And finally, remember to have fun 

  • enjoy the moment regardless of whether the topic is serious and dry or humorous and comical.

Consolidation of the 3 key considerations

  • # 1 From the very beginning 
  • # 2 Opening comments
  • # 3 Engage through Story

So that covers the 3 key considerations in this episode # 2.  What leaders need to  achieve initial buy-in.”

Remember that the opening seconds/minutes set the scene for the success of your presentation. In this episode, the 3 key considerations we spoke about were.  

# 1 From the very beginning – we need to approach the podium confidently, pause in silence, scanning the room, raise our eyebrows, pause again, and then smile.

# 2 Opening comments – use a powerful intro to give the subject substance & connect to the audience. Paint a graphic picture through your words.

# 3 Engage through story – and understand the difference between a “telling me & showing me” story.

Thank you for listening to this 2nd episode called “What leaders need, to achieve initial buy-in,” from our series “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” 

We look forward to you joining us as we continue our journey with episode #3 called Leaders that chunk, link, recall, and review, win”!

Preparing to present like a pro

transcript written by Wayne Brown

Highly effective presentations for every leader”

  • Video 1 – Preparing to present like a Pro
  • Video 2 – What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in
  • Video 3 – Leaders that chunk, link, recall and review, win
  • Video 4 – Leaders need to learn how to close

Hello, I’m Professor Wayne, and I’ll be your Mentor for this video, podcast, and blog series called “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” Welcome to this the first of 4 short modules

The title of this episode is – Preparing to present like a Pro, where we will deep dive into the necessary preparation steps that ensure your presentation runs smoothly

In the following three episodes, we turn our attention to the presentation delivery focusing first in episode 2 on the opening. In episode 3, we explore the content, structure, and maximization of retention with chunking and linking. Finally, we round out the series in episode 4 by identifying how to close your presentation on a high.

First, now to defining the difference between facilitating and presenting.   

       Facilitation     VS     Presentation

       Facilitation + Presentation = Training

A couple of items to clarify before commencing with the video of the preparation. Let’s first clearly define the difference between presenting and facilitating as the two are often confused.  

Facilitation in the purest sense and as defined in the Cambridge dictionary, “is the act of helping other people to deal with a process or reach an agreement or solution without getting directly involved in the process, discussion, etc. yourself.” 

– a typical example might be if we are chairing a meeting or workshop.

Presentation at its most basic level “is a platform for communicating information and ideas.” 

– there are many examples where we present, but in our case, we’ll be stick with meetings, conferences, public speaking events, or workshops.

While the difference between the two roles is quite clear, it’s also possible to combine Facilitation & Presentation. 

– there are occasions when we need to overlap the two activities, and this is most often seen with people that deliver training as they need to play both roles simultaneously.

Presentation framework and context

Presentation duration – 60 minutes

Target audience – executives 

Presentation subject – focus on Leadership.

One further distinction is to provide some context to this video series and place a framework around the type of presentations we will be discussing;

Any single presentation has a given duration – it can be extremely short, perhaps just a few minutes, or the other extreme can last several hours.

And, of course, anywhere in between. 

In our instance, we’ll suppose a typical 60-minute presentation.

As this series is developed for executives and leaders of our ELEVATOR-ESCALATOR TRIBE, we will target a similar audience group for these 60 min presentations.

The presentation subject is not as important, but again for the sake of this series and for any Use cases introduced in the episodes, we’ll focus on the subject of “Leadership.”

So, let’s look at the 5 specific areas of consideration related to our first video – “Preparing to present like a pro.” They are:

# 1 – Know your audience

# 2 – Structure your presentation

# 3 – Create great visuals

# 4 – Powerful questions & engaging activities

# 5 – Prepare through practice

Consideration #1:       “Know your audience.” 

adjust your presentation,  preparing the timing and flow,   where is the “power” is sitting

Consideration #1:             Know your audience – meaning know who will be participating and how experienced they are on the subject. This helps you stay “Participant Centred” by; 

  • Being able to tailor or adjust your presentation – with both content and your questions. 
    • It also enables you to gauge the timing and flow of the presentation so that you can maintain interest and engagement. 
    • Plus, and very importantly, particularly in meetings, to understand where the “power” is sitting in the room.

Consideration #2:       “Structure your presentation” 

  • clear objectives & include only the key points,
  • focus on participant needs – “think, feel & do.”
  • utilizing the “Rule of 3” and include a story 

Consideration #3:       Create great visuals

; remember simple is best, so they are easy to read and understand.

– this lets the participant digest the message quickly and then return their focus to you. 

For slides – minimize the text (preferably one or two items per slide) together with a grabbing image. Keep the text in the top half of the slide for ease of reading.

For handouts – keep them short, simple, and well-formatted. Use graphics to help illustrate so that the information can be skimmed rather than studied.

For flipcharts, wall charts, or other supporting graphics, they should bring to life the points rather than just restate what you’re saying.

Remember that approximately 65% of all adults have a visual learning dominance or preference. Don’t risk eliminating 2/3 of your audience from the start as a result of poor visuals…

Consideration #4:              “Powerful questions & engaging activities”        

  • Use funnelling technique, 
  • Closed questions for confirmation & closure,
  • Incorporate engaging activities

Consideration #4:             Prepare powerful questions and engaging activities.

– this is such a critical component and yet the area least practiced.       

To assist you here, do some research on questioning techniques such as “funneling.” The method helps you to extract greater involvement through open-ended questions before confirming the situation and then closing the discussion. 

In addition, as adults, we learn best through experience; therefore, if you can incorporate simple, quick activities to re-affirm to key messages you want the participants to grasp, then this is highly effective.

Consideration #5:             Prepare through practice 

– prepare the presentation script, convert the script into key points, practice the presentation,

Consideration #5:       Prepare through practice 

– experts say there are typically 3 presentation versions for every eventual delivery 

  • the presentation you prepare, the presentation you practice, and the final presentation you deliver. 

Each individual needs to develop their own method, which works best for them, but here’s how I do it depending on the level of importance and complexity.

  • Start by preparing the presentation script in detail and edit this until you’re happy when reading it out aloud. 
  • After reciting the script multiple times, convert this detailed script into clustered topics, utilizing techniques such as mind mapping to outline the structure and key points.
  • Finally, find a quiet location or location (somewhere preferably with a mirror) and practice the presentation repeatedly, including the stories. Try to anticipate questions and practice your response. Even better if you can record your delivery, then listen and watch for areas to improve. 

Consolidation of the 5 key considerations

#1 Know your audience

#2 Structure your presentation

#3 Create great visuals

#4 Powerful questions & engaging activities

#5 Prepare through practice

Episode 1 summary            

And that wraps up our 5 key considerations for this topic of “preparing to present like a pro.” 

– remember this preparation helps you to stay Participant Centred throughout the presentation

Let’s quickly recap on what we have covered so far.

#1 Know your audience

  • meaning know who will be participating and how experienced they are on the subject.

#2 Structure your presentation

  • by this, we mean actively chunk topics and create links or bridges between these topics, using the rule of 3 and incorporate stories.

#3 Create great visuals 

  • – remember simple is best, so they are easy to read and understand. 65% of adults have a visual learning preference. 

#4 Prepare powerful questions and engaging activities 

  • do some research on questioning techniques such as “funneling and develop simple activities.

#5 Prepare through practice 

  • experts say there are typically 3 presentation versions for every eventual delivery 
  • each individual needs to develop their own method which works best for them.

Thank you for listening to this first episode, “Preparing to present like a Pro.” from our series “Highly effective presentations for every leader.” 

If you enjoyed it, please hit the LIKE button below and be sure to join us for episode #2 called What leaders need to achieve initial buy-in.” 

We’d love to receive your comments, and if you want to be notified of future material, please subscribe below.

Until next time, stay safe and prepare well. Bye for now.

50 year LEGEND of the industry: Dr Rory Smith

50 year LEGEND of the industry Dr Rory Smith sharing adventures, insights and learnings from his career.

transcript written by Wayne Brown

50 year LEGEND Dr Rory Smith

Welcome to the first in our “Legend” episodes. We start with a pioneer in technology and a real gentleman: our 50 year LEGEND of the industry Dr Rory Smith. His career spans many countries, cultures and he remains fully engaged in our industry today.

Introducing Dr Rory Smith

Hello, I’m really excited to bring this episode to you, where I speak with Dr Smith. We first met back around 2005-2006 on a major project in Shanghai. I’ve had the pleasure of working on numerous projects with him since. As I my own career enters it’s 42nd year, I can honestly say that I have never met or worked with a more genuine person.

Please join me as we explore his diverse career, spanning multiple companies, countries, cultures and topics.

One issue becomes clear to me after concluding this interview: We are loosing far too many great people from our industry. And with them goes knowledge, skills and experience which can not be replaced through books and study alone.

This is a re-affirmation for me to push even harder with my aim and purpose from this site and through these podcasts, blogs and videos, where we are looking to capture and share insights from great legends such as Dr Rory Smith.

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Your podcast host Wayne