Sunday, 14 December 2014

Paths and Perceptions - Day 15

Day 15
15 - players in a Rugby Union team
Picture by André Lhote , 1917
Famous rugby players include: Sean Connery, John F. Kennedy, Richard Burton, 
J.R.R. Tolkein, Bill Clinton, Geirge W. Bush, Russell Crowe, Meat Loaf
Richard Harris and Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
1st game of every World Cup to date has been started with the same whistle. 
Andrew Jacobs is the talented soul who composed today's offering. I first met Andrew through social media, when he was working for the London Borough of Lambeth, the area I represent as a public governor for Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. It was an honour to be invited to be a speaker at one of his last leadership events. He has recently moved jobs and is now the Talent Management and Organisational Development Manager at the London Borough of Lewisham. Andrew writes an excellent blog, Lost and Desperate, which is rated by the Centre for Management and Organization Effectiveness as one of the top 50 most socially shared L&D blogs. Andrew is active on Twitter, you can follow him via @AndrewJacobsLD. He is a popular member of the London Tweet Up scene.


Path and Perceptions.

Someone asks you to speak at an event because
“I* saw you speak at another event and you were very good”

*Someone I know saw you

You accept. Why wouldn't you?

The path. It's mapped out.

Synopsis by this date.  Please.


Photo by this date.  Please.


Content by this date.  Please.


We WILL film you. Are you OK with that?
There’s a perception...I see your videos. You're very good.
In reality, I can't watch them, my own voice repels me and I just think about what I could have and should have.

2 minutes later.

Or so it seems.

White lights.

Lights so bright that you can’t see the audience.

A lectern.

You look down at your notes, trying to memorise the first minute of the presentation.

There’s a perception that you’re not engaging with the audience because you’re making sure your content’s right.

The reality is you’re nervous and don’t want to let it show. Is it OK to show nerves?

You look around, trying to regain your composure. You can’t you look at your notes again. You shake. You feel yourself sweating and people believe you’re focusing, preparing yourself mentally.

What happens is your throat tightens, your mouth goes dry, you struggle to control your heart rate and breathing.

You hear an introduction. It describes someone you don’t recognise. Have you really done all those things? What will they expect of you now?
They think you are confident and in control.

You think that it can’t be good to be thought of like this. You’re humbled by the kind words and unsure of how to respond you start to speak. Why are the first 3 seconds always so tough?

You tell a joke - it’s meant to lighten the mood. Most people laugh.
They think you’re a humorous person. You amuse people.

You relax for a millisecond, relieved the funny line you’ve used a dozen times before works again. A millisecond later you hope you’re not being thought of as a comedian.

Your images, 12 feet high behind you, work their magic. The audience is enthralled.

You must spend hours finding the right images.

You spent hours finding the right images.

The audience is silent. Are they engaging?

They’re listening. Intently.

Audience - photo by Max Alexander
Are they waiting for you to make a mistake?

Your slide doesn’t advance. Without skipping a beat you fix the problem. You’re so well versed in making this work.

They haven’t seen you crash and burn so many times before that you now know YOUR slides in YOUR device work well.

Why should you trust other people’s equipment?

Your content is slick. Your delivery professional.

They haven't seen the hours of practice round your living room, on trains,  in the shower,  in bed,  whilst washing up,  between meetings.  Is it a reasonable price to pay for the stress it will cause on the day?
Demosthene S'Exerce a la Parole (Demosthenes Practicing Oratory)
by Jean Lecomte du Nouy
Hand-coloured photogravure published by Goupil in 1884
The obligatory question time afterwards is straightforward and all the questions get answered fully. Your topic knowledge is extensive.

Or is it that you were asked a similar question last time? Why is it always the same questions? The presentation must be missing something if the same questions keep being asked. You have to vary what you do next time. If there’s a next time.

You hear applause. They appreciate you.

Is that applause as loud as last time?

People congratulate you. They say nice things.

You don't hear the praise and seek out the criticism.  Why is criticism easier to accept and manage?

They loved the content and that it was tailored to that specific audience.

You spent hours making sure you crafted varied content, tailored to that specific audience.  Don't they realise you spent 6 hours putting that together?

A week later.

Feedback sheets are full of praise.

You are a great speaker.

The eloquent Mr. Pickwick
Illustration from Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens (1812-70)
coloured engraving by Cecil Aldin

You agonise over the fact that some people didn’t feed back.

Do they want to say something critical but don't have the willpower?

You receive another speaking request.

You are going to set off on another path,  agonising over content,  your neuroses,  your exposure.

It's a good job you enjoy it. Why wouldn't you?

Paths and perceptions.

Theodore Roosevelt - an excellent orator
This classic picture of him on the stump originally appeared
in the New York Times in 1912, the photographer is unknown.

40 inspirational speeches in 2 minutes
spliced from various movies by Matthew Belinkie

1 comment:

  1. An interesting reflection on our inner vulnerabilities versus our outer perceptions Andrew - thanks indeed