Monday, May 31, 2010
I’ve been thinking about presentations as I begin to prepare for our upcoming seminars. I want to insure that everyone is engaged and is passionate about creating WoW moments even before they leave. When you think about seminars how many do you recall when you walked out saying WoW!? If you are like me, even though you may be very selective, the WoW sessions are few and far between.
During my years as a training manager I had the opportunity to not only speak to many audiences, but also watch many presentations, those with educational content and those delivering a message. I believe these 7 steps can help everyone deliver a WoW presentation. As you prepare write these steps down and then write how you will accomplish each step.
1. Know your audience! Always remember you are not the star, you’re audience is. They have come to learn from you, but in order for your message to resonate it has to be relevant. Focus on one topic and have three key takeaways. Engineers typically need visuals and diagrams, sales people need energy and movement.
2. Prepare! No matter how professional and experienced you are you must know your content inside and out. Once you understand your audience research their demographic and be able to weave it into the presentation. Practice and hone your delivery. No one wants to listen to a scripted presenter and if you know your content you can move through with the tempo needed for any given audience. Body language matters! If you are most comfortable standing behind a podium insure you have movement in the tone of your voice & presentation. If you like to “dance” on the stage find marks to stand for at least 2 – 3 minutes. Dancing around on stage is distracting and takes away from your message.
3. Connect! Every presentation that I remember started with an emotional connection. A moving or funny story, a connection to the association or group you are speaking to, a mention of the city or company. Find a way to connect. Always remember why would someone sit up and WANT to listen. Be interactive with your audience as appropriate. A show of hands in the middle of a presentation can really break things up. This gains ownership and keeps the audience thinking, maybe he is going to ask another question.
4. Be Passionate! If you are not passionate about your topic, don’t present. You must show emotion and be passionate. If the topic you’ve chosen or have been given is simply boring, mix in a relevant story or anecdote. If you are tired, do five minutes of aerobic activity and deep breathing prior to starting.
5. Stay Focused! Share your agenda with the audience up front; let them know what you are going to talk about and what your key points will be. This keeps you honest as you must deliver. Keep a list of bullet points you must address, and in order, on a note card or on the podium. You need to know this like the back of your hand. Do not rely on Microsoft PowerPoint™. Use a flip chart if this keeps you on track. Have someone in the front row flash time cards in fifteen, then ten, then five minute intervals with a time is up card to insure you finish on time.
6. Q&A! If time permits always end with at least two or three questions. The most important thing about Q&A – repeat the question! This not only insures the audience hears the question, but more importantly it lets you hear the question once again to insure you answer the question. At all costs do not go into a long story or answer. Be as succinct as possible so you can stay focused and so others can ask questions as well.
7. Thank you & Contact Information! Always remember to thank those who’ve invited you and the audience. Remember to direct everyone to a place where they can find your contact information.
It is amazing, isn't it? The elements of creating a WoW Presentation are actually very similar, if not the same, as creating WoW moments in any envirornment! Remember it is always about the customer - in this case the audience!
Wow Customer Experience Group
Every Moment Can Be A WoW Moment!
Sunday, May 9, 2010
The man who says he hasn't eaten or drunk for 70 years: Why are eminent doctors taking him seriously? | Mail Online
There are few people, however busy their lives, unable to remember the last meal that they consumed. But Prahlad Jani is one of them.
And the reason is that the last morsel of food that he says passed his lips did so in the early years of World War II.
‘I can’t recall exactly what it was,’ the 82-year-old Indian admits. ‘It was such a long time ago.’
During the 70-odd years since, Mr Jani says he has eaten not so much as a single grain of rice nor consumed a drop of water. And while such an extended gap between meals might be expected to have a fatal impact on the activities of one so deprived, this octogenarian says he’s never felt better.
Tests: 83-year-old Prahlad Jani has twice attended hospital to be watched round the clock by eminent doctors
‘Although I walk 100 or 200 kilometres in the jungle, I never sweat and don’t feel tired or sleepy,’ he says. ‘I can meditate for three, eight or 12 hours — or even months.’
No food? No water? Superhuman strength? One straitjacket (size zero) for Mr Jani, please.
It is, of course, more than tempting to dismiss this Hindu holy man and his claims as the stuff of absolute nonsense.
Medical science tells us that human beings rarely survive more than a week without water, and a couple of months at most without food. To even suggest otherwise is ridiculous, and also potentially dangerous.
Practitioners of extreme starvation diets can cause serious damage to their bodies, leading to death. And yet, despite all that is known, there is a growing bandwagon that says Mr Jani and his incredible claims should not be dismissed entirely out of hand.
On Thursday afternoon, he emerged from hospital in the Indian state of Gujarat, where he had spent 15 days. He was monitored around the clock and, according to the medics who oversaw him, consumed no food and no water whatsoever.
No human should be able to survive such conditions unscathed — the lack of water alone should have killed him. But Mr Jani apparently suffered absolutely no ill-effects at all.
Hindu: Mr Jani is one of countless from his religion to make claims of unworldly feats
Attending a press conference at the Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad, he said: ‘I am fit and strong today and even the doctors agree. They ran every test possible for 15 days and proved that I do not need food to keep me strong.
'I am strong and healthy, because it is the way God wants me to be.’
So what is the explanation for his ability to endure such privations? No one knows for sure. But over the next three months, the medics will attempt to come up with some answers as they study the results of a battery of tests.
Military scientists drawn from India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation believe that Mr Jani could hold the key to understanding how humans can be taught to survive for long periods without sustenance.
‘It is possible that it will be able to help save human lives during natural disasters, high altitude, sea journeys and other natural and human extremities,’ said a spokesman for the team.
‘We can educate people about the survival techniques in adverse conditions with little food and water, or nothing at all.’ He added: ‘If his claims are verified, it will be a breakthrough in medical science.’
By any standards that is a very big ‘if’. For starters, the doctors are considering only the two weeks during which Mr Jani was under their supervision. His claims not to have eaten for the preceding seven decades can and will never be
verified. The same goes for much of his early history.
According to his version of events — and there is no other — Mr Jani left his home in Rajasthan at the age of seven, and went to live in the jungle.
When he reached the age of 11, he underwent a religious experience during which he became a follower of the Hindu goddess Amba. In her honour, he chose to dress as a female devotee, wearing a red sari-like garment, nose-ring, bangles and crimson flowers in his shoulder-length hair.
In return, Mr Jani believes that the goddess has sustained him ever since by feeding him with a lifegiving, invisible ‘elixir’, which has supposedly given him the strength to continue without food or water.
For at least the past 40 years, Mr Jani has been living, hermit-like, in a cave in the jungles close to the Gujarati temple of Ambaji. He rises at 4am, spending most of the day meditating.
While well-known locally, for many years Mr Jani was no more famous than the millions of other Hindu holy men — sadhus or yogi as they are known — in India.
Mystical figures, these individuals renounce normal life for one on the margins of society, focusing every waking minute on the spiritual. They often assume austere or extreme practices — standing on one leg or refusing to talk for years on end.
Like Mr Jani, many sadhus regularly undergo lengthy periods of fasting. But the claim that his fast had endured for decades caught the public imagination and first propelled him into the limelight.
Challenged to prove that he could survive without food or water, in 2003 he underwent his first hospital investigations. Then, as now, he was placed under the care of Dr Sudhir Shah, a consultant neurologist from Ahmedabad who specialises in studying people with seemingly ‘supernatural’ powers.
Doctors had prepared a special glass-walled room equipped with CCTV cameras to monitor Mr Jani for ten days. The toilet was sealed to test his claim that he had no need to urinate or defecate.
The only fluid allowed was a small amount of water, to use as mouthwash. This was collected and measured in a beaker when he spat it out, to make sure that none had been drunk.
Scans revealed some urine accumulation in his bladder, but this seemed to be re-absorbed by the body because it was never passed.
In every other respect, clinically, Mr Jani was found to be perfectly normal.
While the results secured him an international following, they failed to offer any concrete answers. As a result, Dr Shah and the military team decided to repeat the experiment this year.
'We may never know the truth, but until he is exposed as a fraud, perhaps we should enjoy suspending our disbelief and give Mr Jani the benefit of the doubt'
So, on April 22, Mr Jani re-entered the hospital for 15 days of tests. They ended on Thursday afternoon with doctors admitting that they were baffled by what they had seen.
Presenting their preliminary findings, Dr Shah was joined by biologist Dr Ilavashagn, director of the Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), a heavily-funded department of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The doctors announced that despite apparently living on thin air for two weeks, the holy man was more healthy than someone half his age.
Blood tests, hormone profiles, MRIs and angiographs (imaging tests of the blood vessels) all pointed to the conclusion that Mr Jani had not needed to eat, drink or use the toilet once.
Dr Ilavazhagn said: ‘Clinical, biochemical, radiological and other relevant examinations were done on Prahlad Jani and all reports were within the safe range throughout the study. He is healthy, his mind is sharp.
'What is truly astonishing, and something we have no explanation for, is that he has not passed stools or urine. To my knowledge, that is medically unprecedented.’
There will be many who maintain that the latest tests prove nothing — and that Mr Jani’s survival is down to nothing more mysterious than trickery.
That’s the view held by the Indian Rationalist Association, an organisation which publicly campaigns against superstition and spiritual fraudsters.
It has attacked the Indian Ministry of Defence for even agreeing to take part in the tests, accusing them of being ‘taken in by the absurd claims of a village fraud’.
Sanal Edamaruku, the association’s secretary general, told the Mail: ‘I asked to be allowed to send an independent team to survey the room where this test is taking place, but I was repeatedly turned down.
'It is ridiculous to ask people to believe that any man can go 15 days, let alone 70 years, without food or water.
Seven decades: Mr Jani claims he had a religious experience as a teenager
‘Dr Shah has been in charge of three similar investigations over the past ten years, and he has never allowed independent verification.
'In 2000, he was asking for funds to investigate a man he claimed got his energy from the sun, just like plants do.
‘In 2003, he even approached NASA for funds to investigate Mr Jani, claiming astronauts might benefit from the research. This particular hospital, led by this particular doctor, keeps on making these claims without ever producing evidence or publishing research.’
Mr Edamaruku is convinced that Mr Jani must have had access to food and water at the hospital, and does not believe that he was kept under strict supervision around the clock.
He says that whenever the Rationalist Association has investigated individuals making similar claims, all have been exposed as frauds.
In 1999, they investigated a woman who claimed that she was the reincarnation of another Hindu goddess. For five years, she had remained alone in a small closet where it was claimed she had not eaten nor passed any urine or faeces.
In co-operation with the police, investigators from the association searched the room, finding a toilet hidden behind a shelf and a disguised hole through which she received food. Blood tests revealed the presence of glucose, indicating the intake of food.
To further prove the case, a gas was released into the room that made the woman vomit. The contents of her stomach were found to include pieces of recently-eaten chapatti and potatoes.
'I am strong and healthy, because it is the way God wants me to be,’ says Prahlad Jani
Mr Edamaruku is concerned that by publicising the activities of individuals such as Mr Jani, others will be encouraged to copy.
‘The Hindu religion is a belief system that’s all about magical thinking, about great things happening that are not understandable to the ordinary person,’ he explained.
‘These claims are very dangerous, because people try to follow these holy men and can end up hurting themselves.
‘In any other religion there’s a priest who requires a lot of training and there’s a structure which means people can’t just make up their qualifications.
'In Hinduism, anyone can become a guru overnight. You just decide that’s what you are, dress the part and become it.’
Perhaps he’s right. Doesn’t logic and common sense dictate that Prahlad Jani must be tricking the world somehow?
And yet, there’s a part of all of us that would love to believe such a human ‘miracle’ could be true.
After all, isn’t a consultant neurologist staking his reputation on these tests being entirely watertight?
We may never know the truth, but until he is exposed as a fraud, perhaps we should enjoy suspending our disbelief and give Mr Jani the benefit of the doubt.
After all, wouldn’t life be boring if everything was rational?
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1274779/The-man-says-eaten-drunk-70-years-Why-eminent-doctors-taking-seriously.html?ito=feeds-newsxml#ixzz0nPmFSopW
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Change management initiatives are necessary for organizations to remain competitive in our rapidly evolving economic climate. These initiatives are extremely important, yet the majority of them are considered failures.
Recent surveys of chief executives from major corporations say up to 75 percent of their organizational change efforts do not deliver promised results. Overall, a full two-thirds of change management initiatives fail all together.
Since the pace of change in organizations is increasing daily, there is no better time to understand how organizational change initiatives can become more effective. The short answer is stronger leadership.
According to leadership expert and author John P. Kotter in his book "Leading Change," there are eight common errors firms make when implementing change:
1. Allowing too much complacency
2. Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition
3. Underestimating the power of vision
4. Undercommunicating the vision by a factor of 10 or more
5. Permitting obstacles to block the new vision
6. Failing to create short-term wins
7. Declaring victory too soon
8. Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture
None of these errors alone would be all that consequential in a slower-paced, less competitive environment, but since the speed of change will only continue to increase addressing these concerns is of extreme importance.
All of these reasons for failure can be summarized by a lack of strong leadership. In fact, "ineffective change sponsorship or leadership" at the executive level was cited as the primary reason for failure in numerous research reports by Prosci,Harvard Business Review, McKinsey Quarterly and others throughout the past decade.
According to this research, the top three reasons for failure with change initiatives were:
1. Ineffective change sponsorship or leadership from executives
2. Employee resistance
3. Poor support and alignment with middle managers
Before any organizational change effort is initiated, it is vital for the leader to fully understand the scope of his or her commitment and involvement. Organizational change efforts succeed only when the leader is 100 percent committed and thoroughly embraces the effort required for its success.
Kotter's eight-stage process for successful change initiatives is a solid blueprint for leaders to model. To succeed the leader must follow each of these stages and stay fully committed and present throughout the process.
A 2002 McKinsey Quarterly study of 40 banks, manufacturers, hospitals and utilities titled "Helping Employees Embrace Change" revealed that of the companies that were successful in their change initiatives, all shared the following attributes:
• All levels of the organization were involved from the very beginning
• Responsibilities were clear
• Reasons for the change were clear to everyone
Change takes time because employees need to move through their own stages of denial, resistance, exploration and finally commitment. Management must therefore be patient and recognize that every employee needs to go through each phase at his or her own pace.
This may seem to contradict the sense of urgency required to bring about change in the first place, but not if everyone is involved from the very beginning. Resistance from employees diminishes in direct proportion to the openness from upper management. By keeping all employees aware of the plan from the start and by giving them a clear and compelling vision of the future, a leader can help bring them on board with the change.
Most of us don't like change of any kind and it is natural to resist because change often brings on anxiety by disrupting the status quo. This is true in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. However, change is inevitable and therefore we must all find ways to enable effective change to succeed.
Leaders must be extremely vigilant in every step of a change initiative because they most directly determine whether it is successful or not. Their guidance and stewardship throughout the process is more important than anything else.
Friday, May 7, 2010
Yesterday, a CIO said to me: "It's time to increase the IT-smarts of the rest of the business. They are demanding more direct control and they are ready for it."
To which I replied, "Congratulations and condolences. Get ready, for an uphill climb."
Boosting IT-smarts is a change-management challenge. But classic change-management approaches often fall short because they focus on the logical, rather than psychological, aspects of change. Behavior and decisions are driven not only by rational but also irrational factors, including behavioral norms, old patterns and short-term gratification. There's a wonderful article published by McKinsey last year entitled, "The Irrational Side of Change Management," that sheds light on the elements of human nature that often stymie successful change.
This CIO, and any CIO or IT leader interested in fostering IT-smarts, should consider this research as they define their change program. To jump start this definition, here are eight steps that I believe are critical to creating an IT-smart enterprise:
- Assess current performance
- Make sure the IT house is in order
- Focus where the pain is worth the gain
- Tell a good story
- Target people who like to change
- Use action-based versus classroom learning
- Deliver tools that empower self-sufficiency
- Incentivize the right behaviors
In this post, let's tackle the first four. We'll tackle the rest in the next post.
1. Assess current performance. Survey business and IT leaders to assess how they perceive the importance and value of IT, manage the IT asset, and view the quality of the IT-business partnership (if you would like a copy of my survey, click here). Use the results of the survey to understand strengths and weaknesses and identify opportunities, then use them as a baseline to gauge progress going forward.
2. Make sure the IT house is in order. Don't expect the other parts of the business to get smarter about IT if the IT organization isn't already smart about the business. At a minimum, make sure that transparent IT planning and prioritization processes are in place, everyone understands what services are delivered and how to submit requests, and IT has a solid track record for delivering on commitments and running efficiently.
3. Focus efforts where the pain is worth the gain. Find out where Pareto lives and target your IT-smart efforts accordingly. What systems are used across the organization? What systems impact your external customers? What key initiatives are planned or underway that are critically important to the business? Don't work in the background, but demonstrate the impact of IT-smarts in the foreground, where the results will have impact and be noticed.
4. Tell a good story and make sure that it is written collaboratively. Stories are one of the best ways to capture and retain attention, but only if they resonate across a broad audience. To write an effective story, sketch the outline, leave a lot of white space, and get others engaged in filling in the details. Make sure the story balances issues of the past with promises for the future, benefits the external customers, and taps into the hopes, needs, fears, and conflict that exist within the business.
At this point in the process, the CIO/IT leader has identified the high impact opportunities for increasing IT-smarts (and if there are soft spots in IT that need to be shored up, is addressing those first.) In addition, he has built a coalition for change by crafting a story that resonates up, down, and, across the organization. He is now ready to define the tactics to translate the strategy into action.
In the next post, we will discuss the final four steps to help CIOs transform the company into the very model of the modern, IT-smart enterprise.