How Effective Are Your Presentation Skills?

Here is a story of how a young boy’s life was changed when he was given Presentation Skills Training by the TED team containing some simple techniques.

How Effective Are Your Presentation Skills?

Some time ago, Richard Turere, a 12 year old boy from Kenya got the attention of the TED team who were scouting for stories of interest near his village. Little Richard grew up on a farm that raised cattle and protecting them from lions was a task that consumed all the family’s time. He told the story of how lighting torches didn’t help in keeping the lions away but when he walked to the boundary of the field with a torch, they would stay away. TED found his story so fascinating that they flew him down to the TED conference. There was only one problem – Richard had almost no presentation skills or public speaking experience. But that didn’t deter the team. With a little help from the organizers at TED and a little practice, Richard took to the TED stage at Long Beach, California and gave his talk, despite his shy and introverted personality. When he finished, the crowd gave him a standing ovation!

What embodies good presentation skills? If a 12 year old boy from a Kenyan village could give a TED worthy lecture, is it possible that we might be able to pull of a good one ourselves? There is often the misunderstanding that presentations have to be charismatic, full of bravado and sophisticated in order to keep the listeners attentive. But this is far from the truth. Presentation skills are more than that; it is about speaking from the soul, being true to oneself, while at the same time straddling the line of data and narrative with finesse and poise. Obviously in order to give a presentation one must first have something to showcase. But we must be wise to remember that human beings love stories. And a major aspect of giving a captivating performance is to take the audience on a journey – a journey of story telling mixed with information and emotion mixed with intellect. A successful presentation can be gauged by how differently the audience sees the world when you are done. In short, a great presentation begins with the subject, shows why you as the speaker care about it so deeply and ends with making the case for why the audience must care about it just as much as the speaker does.

Presentation Skills Training is an important program of our soft skills training that companies invest in heavily to equip their employees with the right tools and resources to be able to communicate ideas and agendas confidently and efficiently. To see how companies do this, refer to this link: http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/05/18605.html

Read some of our recent blogs that gives you more information on Presentation Skills:

1. The Science of Non-Verbal Communication 

2. How Presentation Skills can be like a Movie Screenplay?

 

Creativity and Appetite for Risk – Is Jeff Bezos a fool or a leader?

As I read about the octocopter drones in the newspaper yesterday morning, I thought I was watching a science fiction movie in my dream. After pinching myself to reality, I raced to the Internet and watched Jeff Bezos of Amazon being interviewed on 60 minutes.

I was entranced by the octocopter but even more mesmerized by Jeff Bezos who has the courage to take such a huge risk. Bezos stated that the time between receiving the request from the customer and delivering the product to the customer is shortening everyday and if the innovations are not targeted in this area, the business dies. In his quest to keep his business fresh and listening to the voice of the customer, he has revealed that Amazon has invested in the research and development of the octocopter which is a GPRS driven electrical device that will deliver packages (of maximum weight of 5 pounds) within a 10-mile radius in a window of 30 minutes. The description of ‘fast’ needs to be rewritten in the dictionary!

“A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.”― Albert Einstein

As a leadership trainer, people who push the limit and are willing to take the fall always fascinate me. Managers who are conservative and cautious are becoming obsolete in today’s market. The ability to explore unexplored paths and make imagination a reality are core competencies of a leader today. In the 19th century, business encouraged people to be risk-averse but today people have to risk-hungry. Situations that are risky are seen as an opportunity for creative thinking and growth.

Corporates that focus on leadership development should be asking themselves some key questions – Are we encouraging creativity, innovation and risk-taking in our people? Are we rewarding these qualities and is it a part of performance management? Are we talking about these qualities only for the top management or are we creating this environment for people as soon as they join the company?

The leadership programs conducted by MMM Training Solutions focuses on the core competencies of a leader that are essential for success in the 21st century. Some of the distinguishing features of our program are – duration of 3 to 6 months, combination of individual coaching and group training and individual assignments that help the participants to put the learning into practice.

Sachin Tendulkar – The Epitome of Self-Leadership

While the world bids adieu to one of the greatest stars of world cricket, it is hard to stay away from the emotion of it all. I grew up watching Sachin Tendulkar. I enjoyed watching him play. However, to us, he represented something more than a talented cricketer- he represented ‘hope’. When he was at the crease, anything was possible – a valuable leadership lesson. A leader needs to make his team believe, that no matter what the odds, every challenge is an opportunity. A leader needs to be able to shift limiting mindsets.

A friend of mine who had watched Sachin at a cricket camp when recovering from a ‘tennis elbow’ injury, remarked at how focused he was in doing the exercises that the physiotherapist had recommended. He would perform the same exercise for hours on end just to ensure he recovered faster. At that time the doctors were unclear if he could recover from this severe injury. However, Sachin did not focus on the opinion of the doctors but focused on his ‘knowing’ that he would recover. His undying courage and positive belief  turned his ‘knowing’ into reality.

Sachin constantly strived for excellence as was seen by the hours of practice and his ability to never resting on his past laurels – a leadership lesson that Sachin has effectively taught us. This unique capability is something that I constantly talk about in our sessions on effective leadership skills training

As I watched his final innings it was not his stroke-play that caught my attention (although it was as good as ever), it was a moment at the end of the first day of his 200th test match. He was not out at the end of the day and as he was returning to the pavilion, he paused and waited for his batting partner (a much more junior cricketer) and walked back with him. Although, the whole world had its eyes on him, he showed respect for his fellow cricketer – a strong character trait of Sachin Tendulkar, the sportsman. Sachin Tendulkar’s heartfelt final speech in which he paid his respects to his family, friends, supporters and well-wishers showed how much he valued the people ‘behind the scenes’ who enabled his success. His message to his teammates was about valuing the opportunity of playing for the country and respecting the game.

As he paid his respects to the cricket pitch and walked back leaving his footprints in the sands of time, his messages to the world are an age-old formula that form the essentials of leadership skills and self-leadership that we, at MMM Training Solutions , believe in – Respect your fellow-men, strive for excellence and always, always – ‘believe’.

Courage – A Leadership Essential

‘I’ve had my ups and downs,’ he says. ‘My fair share of bumpy roads and heavy winds. That’s what made me what I am today. Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection.  A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics and a mindset to master the most epic of splits.’Jean-Claude Van Damme

Volvo released a commercial ‘The Epic Split’  on Nov 14th, 2013, in which Jean Claude does an amazing feat – does a split between two Volvo trucks. The commercial brings out the precision of the Volvo trucks with perfect clarity. But to me, as an Executive Coach, what was even more fascinating is the feat done by Jean Claude.

As I studied about his life, the two values that he embraced from age 11 were Consistency and Courage. At the age of 11, his father took Jean Claude for martial arts lessons because he was physically weak. At the age of 15, Van Damme started his competitive karate career in Belgium. From 1976-1980, Van Damme compiled a record of 44 victories and 4 defeats in matches.The application and dedication to the sport has contributed significantly to an enviable Hollywood film career for him.

Jean-Claude  has struggled with substance abuse and mental illness for a significant period in his life. He had reached a point when he had strong suicidal tendencies. 1997 was a turning point in his life when started to pull things back to normalcy in his life.

As I read about Jean Claude’s life, I was impressed with the way he kept his singular focus on martial arts through his difficult times. This focus gave him the ability to deal with the other circumstances.

As leaders, do you have a purpose, which gives you direction in your life? “A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder.” Rudder is the smallest part of a ship without which a ship is directionless. It takes courage to have a purpose and even more courage to hold on to this purpose through challenging times by consistently altering our mindsets. May we have more leaders like Jean-Claude!

Shifting Limiting Mindsets – A Leadership Essential

Shifting Limiting Mindsets – A Leadership Essential

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  – Mary Engelbreit

At the age of 26 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating and progressive neurological disorder. By age 42 I had to use a wheelchair. The first few years of my life in a wheelchair were an absolute misery. I felt less than other people; I felt that I could not compete in the real world; I felt that my life had come to an end. I was bitter, angry and resentful. I was exhausted and sick.There was nothing that could help me to see the brighter side of life. I saw the wheelchair as a curse.

One significant day in my life, I was having a conversation with my father. I cried to him about the way my life had changed and wept about my stagnancy. My father was a quiet man of very few words. He did not have many motivational conversations with people as he always saw facts and not possibilities. But on this day he saw the possibility that changed my life; he said, “If President Roosevelt could rule America for 12 years in a wheelchair, what is stopping you?” I am not sure that it was earth shattering when he said it but as the days went by it permeated every cell in my being and I went from being in bed for 22 hours in a day to where I am today – traveling the world by myself in a wheelchair doing the work I love. I am an Executive Coach and a Leadership Trainer. I started MMM Training Solutions from my bed 8 years ago and today we have an enviable client list.

The wheelchair I once saw as a curse I now started to see as a blessing. Nothing had changed except my thinking. I moved from a Victim Mindset to a Creator Mindset.

There are two primary mindsets that we can all identify with – the first one is the Victim Mindset where a person with this mindset constantly feels victimized by his circumstances, his work pressures, his boss, his family – just about everyone and everything in his life. The victim mentality sucks the life out of innovative energy and has an excuse for every situation. Victims are addicted to complaining. They spread negative energy and want others to take on the same victim mentality that they are attached to.

The second one is the Creator Mindset where the mind is constantly looking for possibilities and has a single-minded devotion, diligence and dedication to what it wants to achieve.  Such people are energized by challenges as they welcome the learning that they get from it.

The fundamental difference between these two types of mindsets is on where the person places their attention & focus:

  • For victims the focus is on what they don’t want. People who see themselves as victims feel victimized by everything – the economy, the pollution, lack of time, an illness in the family, a bad childhood…the list just goes on and on and on. Such people rarely rise to new heights in their organization. Most successful leaders have looked into the mirror, recognized a victim mindset, taken steps to shift theirs to a creator mindset and have gone on reach dizzying heights in their personal and professional lives.
  • Creators place their focus on what they do want. They ask the questions – “What outcome do I want? How do I get there?” Their goals, targets and purposes are crystal clear. They do not leave this to memory but they write it in significant places, they talk to significant people about it and plan their life around it. This helps them to push through all the vicissitudes of life with their eye on the goal. This is the only mindset of leaders.

 “Limitations can only be true as long as we believe them. Believe in yourself instead. Amazing things will happen.” Doe Zantamata

The Pursuit of ‘Goodness’ – Is It A Choice?

Things that are bad for you seduce you easily; you run towards them impatiently. But things that are actually good for you fail to attract you; you shun them creatively, finding powerful excuses to justify your procrastination…”

– Mythical character ‘Raavan’ as quoted by mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik in the Times (Times Life, July 4th 2010)

I cannot but agree with king Raavan as far as the above quote is concerned. Many times in my life I have been seduced by what was not good for me. Be it that tasty fried dish, that extra hour spent watching television instead of going to bed, lying about something so as not to lose face and all the other pleasures of materialism that come with being human.

A number of times I have shunned what was good for me – the cleaning up of a room, the exercise that I always wanted to get but never seemed to make the time for, the vegetables that were lovingly kept on my plate, being bold enough to swallow my pride and take responsibility.

How do I rise above this? How do I chase after what is good for me with a greater interest than what I show to all that is material?

The only answer I have found is ‘shifting my intentions’. Choosing to do the ‘good’ things; the ‘right’ things. I chose to eat more vegetables. I chose to take more responsibility. I chose the good. Surprisingly, it was not as hard as I thought it would be. It was by no means an overnight process but the power of a determined mind can take one to levels that a strong body cannot.

Good and bad exist within all of us. I believe that what you give power to (the good or the bad) is what will determine your path in life. Today, ‘goodness’ is something that I chase after. Today, the ‘truth’ is something that I constantly chase after. The challenge is separating the ‘truth’ from ‘subjective truth’. It is an arduous journey, yet one that I believe is the path of higher learning.

As an person who conducts extensive amount of both executive coaching and leadership training, I strongly believe that it is this path that will allow me to be a candle that will spark the learning of those around me.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…”

“…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. – Mariam Williamson (Spiritual activist and author)

Below are some of our blogs that have been well received by our readers:

  1. What It Takes To Develop The Leader In You
  2. Creativity and Appetite for Risk – Is Jeff Bezos a fool or a leader?
  3. Sachin Tendulkar – The Epitome of Self-Leadership

Follow your heart – Courageous Leadership

On December 1, 1955, when a White person got into the bus, Rosa Parks, a 42 year old Black woman refused to give up her seat at the front of the bus and move to the back. Today the action seems simple but not in 1955, when black people were treated like slaves and second class citizens by the white people. This action created a major uproar and Rosa Parks was put in jail overnight. When in jail, she got up to get herself a glass of water and she was informed by the jail warden that the water fountain was only for white people. This was the straw that broke Rosa Parks’ back. She decided that she would do what it took, even at the risk of losing her own life, to attain liberty for Black people from this oppressive situation. She joined forces with Martin Luther King and was one of the key people responsible for the Civil Rights Movement which released the Black people to a life of freedom.

Now what would prompt a woman who was a seamstress in a local department store to take a brave stance of this magnitude? I think that she had a clear vision for success that was propelled by her passion. “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” John Maxwell quotes.

What Rosa Parks did was not an act that was planned with a specific personal objective. In fact, what she did was spontaneous, triggered by her quest for equality and her rejection of racial discrimination. The loss of a job or even the loss of her life didn’t deter her from continuing her quest for equality. Leadership takes courage – courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and explore unknown territory. Rosa Parks did just that.

Are you willing to constantly challenge yourself to go beyond what you think you are capable of?

Follow your dreams!

Leadership is About Effective Handling of Change

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

Change is an inevitable part of life. But it is not easy to either change or to deal with change. There are two important factors for effective change: First, our perception of the situation and second, our attitude to embrace rather than resist the change. In short, change should first happen inside each one of us.

Let me narrate an interesting story…

It was Pete Gray’s dream to play baseball in the Yankee Stadium one day. At the age of twelve he was an excellent right-handed pony baseball player and represented his school in the game. And then one fateful day his dreams came crashing down…….

While doing chores on the family’s Pennsylvania farm, Pete slipped and fell off his father’s pickup truck. This completely crushed his right arm without which it was virtually impossible to play baseball. Anyone else would have given up their dreams but not young Pete!

The Adidas ad says, “Impossible is Nothing” – a slogan that Pete entirely embraced. He taught himself to bat, bowl and field with his left hand. His speed, strong throwing arm, and excellent athletic ability allowed Pete to perform this miracle quickly enough to be a solid, dependable outfielder.

Against all odds, by the 1944 season, the one-armed outfielder had a batting score of 333, stole 63 bases, and won the League’s Most Valuable Player award. Baseball fans were astounded!!!

One year later, in 1945, the one-armed outfielder, Pete, achieved his boyhood dream when his team, the Browns, played against the Yankees. The Browns defeated the Yankees, and Pete played a major role in his team’s victory.

As Robert E. Quinn rightly said, “One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change. Personal change is a reflection of our inner growth and empowerment.”

Perhaps that is why Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see.”

Is Leadership About Following Your Heart?

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam summarized the essence of Leadership Training when he gave a regaling talk to an enthralled audience at a “Times Avenues” event on career options. [Kalam Tell Students To Follow Their Heart, Times of India – June 23rd, 2009]

Speaking in his typical anecdotal manner, Kalam doled out advice on issues ranging from current prospects for aeronautical engineering to the need for reform in appointment of primary school teachers.

The key point he made to the students was to follow their heart. It had the audience both amused and inspired.

I completely agree with Kalam’s viewpoint. Following one’s heart is the most vital ingredient of success to all that we do. It is possible to achieve both success and happiness by pursuing the kind of life, career or hobby that we are deeply interested in. Recounting episodes from his childhood, Kalam stressed that he was able to succeed in what he did because of his passion for what he did, that automatically tied to the will to succeed.

Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.
~ Shigenori Kameoka
(Director of the Japanese Shinto Moral Training Society)
You need to find your seed of success and nurture it to growth. There maybe instances when weeds threaten to hamper the growth of your dream, but you should remain steadfast and strong, not stopping until the goal is achieved.

So always remember to do something that is close to your heart. In doing so, there is no coercion, and all your energy is effortlessly harnessed towards achieving what you set out to achieve. This will lead to happiness and fulfillment in life.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
~ Confucius

This is the underlying theme of all the soft skills training programs that are run by MMM Training Solutions. None of this training will be useful or impactful unless each one of the participants nurture a strong desire to change.

Here are a list of blogs that we have published on various topics:

  1. Is Your Feedback Constructive?
  2. 3 Tips To Improve Creative Thinking
  3. Essentials of any Leadership Training Program

Road to success for Leadership

The Road to Success

There are numerous values that are essential to achieving success. Over the next few months I will be addressing these values and asking some tough and controversial questions. These values are the focus in our soft skills training programs. The first value is Character. What is Character? This question is powerfully answered by two dynamic and influential people. “Character is the sum total of a person’s values, beliefs & personality. It is reflected in our behavior, in our actions. It needs to be preserved more than the richest jewel in the world.” – Shiv Khera I would like to ask a very provocative question (especially to my fellow Indians), “Does lack of punctuality reflect poor character?” In my opinion the answer to this question is a simple, “Yes.” The intense uptake of breath indicating surprise is audible to me. The reason for this response is that if you consider other people’s time to be as valuable as yours, you would never be late. So could this relate to your values and belief systems? I often say, “It is not the perception that you have of yourself that matters but the perception that other people have of you that is important.” I conduct leadership programs for people holding middle and upper management positions in multi-national companies. The above statement initially arouses disagreement but as it is processed in the group the participants start to see the wisdom. Let us now apply this to punctuality. If you are a project manager and you have been late the last three times for a meeting with your client who is paying a considerable amount of money for the project, what is the client going to think of you? Regardless of the fact that you have done a great job on the project, the client is going to question your dependability. Once this opinion is formed, it will be very difficult to change it. All your achievements will be measured against this yardstick. What a wasted opportunity! Character can only be achieved when we make the decision to be concerned about others more than we are about ourselves. This is not an easy life but it is worth the sacrifice. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.” -Helen Adams Keller