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Sometimes Opportunities Don't Feel Like Opportunities

i’ve always been a presenter….but recently i’ve dramatically increased the number of presentations i’m giving to test new ideas i want to share with people. several things happen when you step out in front of people with ideas, programs, yourself, your soul.

here’s a short list of things that are happening to me:

* i am getting better at designing presentations

* i am getting better at giving presentations

* i am getting a chance to try out new material and see if it flies

* i am getting feedback – some of it not very good, some of it glowing

* i am getting puzzled . . . which provides an opportunity for introspection, discussion, and opportunity.

the most recent presentation i gave at a whole foods store was either a smash hit or a dismal failure (or some of each). i’ve been trying to figure it out ever since that fateful night. 4 people walked out before it was over, two people contacted me afterwards and asked me to be their coach–and that’s a big commitment (financially and emotionally). as i was leaving the building one of the cashiers called me over to talk about the class. he was interested because two women who went through his line were raving about it. but i later learned that a couple of people slipped their unfavorable evals into the coordinator’s mailbox.

wow, what to do with this mixed bag? lose sleep? yes a little. what in the world did i do that so divided the responses of this group? that’s the burning question. i talked it over with my sister and an intuitive friend. i’m looking at this as an opportunity, though it doesn’t feel like an opportunity. it’s been on my mind and i’ve felt some pain as snippets of the presentation float back to me. ouch, i could have done that better. the gift is that i have an opportunity to become a better presenter.

what i think i’m learning so far:

* i’m content driven. i enjoy attending content-rich presentations and get annoyed if there’s too much touchy-feely group interaction. i basically want great content and to move on. efficient, fast, good content. consequently that’s the way i design many of my presentations. i have to stop and think real hard about how to make them more interactive. (action step: group interaction components need work … look for ideas and resources–maybe partners who can chime in). yes, i love content but i don’t want to just dump content into people’s heads and i don’t want people to do that to me (yucky stuff). what i want is some great content that is compassionately, interactively delivered and received. a great goal, yes?

* as i’m developing the presentation, i think about what would be of interest to people. i think through exercises, quizzes, q/a. i usually feel very good about my content. (action step: design a "new class model" that consists of three components: a pilot/beta version on the phone to see what people’s biggest interests/obstacles are, a live class incorporating what i’ve learned about their interests/obstacles, and a follow up class to see what they’ve implemented and how their goals are materializing around the new content.)

* when content is king………..these are the negative things that can happen: people don’t feel heard, they get bored, they feel you’re being condesending, they don’t feel connected. (action step: take the time to connect from the heart to the class without putting people off with woowoo. ask them what they MUST get from the class to feel that it was a worthwhile investment of their time, energy, and money.

If it’s a big class, open it up for general discussion vs asking each person to response.) a presenter has to keep track of a lot of things: assess the crowd and their response to the material and the flow, move the discussion along but not rush it, be thoughtful and thought provoking, be sensitive to individual members’ expectations for the class, make it enjoyable and experiential, inspire action, let them know who you are, etc. whew! a lot going on. even so, it’s still pretty cool. just gotta keep it in perspective.

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