Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Requires Initiative


This fourth chapter of the book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” by John Maxwell covers the fourth principle of connection, namely, “Connecting Always Requires Energy.”    John Maxwell explains that interaction with others is not the same as connection.    You can interact with others in a way that is totally self-centered which does not connect with others; you need to keep your focus on your audience in order to connect with them.

In the last post, John Maxwell talked about the four unpardonable sins of a communicator, being

  • Unprepared
  • Uncommitted
  • Uninteresting
  • Uncomfortable

He also relayed 10 tips on how to successfully connect with people from communication coach Susan RoAne, author of the book How to Work a Room.     In this next series of five sections from this chapter, John Maxwell discusses five proactive ways to use energy for connecting.    Proactive means not reacting to, but doing something first which then elicits a reaction from the audience.

The first of these five proactive ways of using energy for connecting is … Connecting Requires Initiative … So Go First!

1.  Engage the Audience

Rather than just getting up in front of an audience and greeting them with something bland like, “it is a pleasure (or honor) to speak in front of you today”, or by stating the purpose of your speech, and seeing whether the audience warms to or not, why not try an opening to speech which engages them right from the start?   Here are some examples from Patricia Fripp, an award-winning speech coach …

  • I wish you could have been there … (transports the audience into a different time and place)
  • I’ll never forget the first time … (lets the audience know that you used to be in the place they are now)
  • Have you ever … (relates the experience of the speaker with the experiences of the audience)

For more instructive and instructional videos on improving your public speaking ability, you can go to her website at http://www.fripp.com.

2.  In a Small Group

If you are not talking to a large audience, but to a small group or team, then you need to offer help to others.   You can initiate conversation, but then DO NOT take it over … let the other person speak, and follow their interests and comments.   Too many times I have listened to a radio interview where the person being interviewed answers a question, and then the interviewer says “great” in a lackluster tone, and then goes onto the next question.   It is clear that the interviewer did not really process the information given, because they are not reacting to it with a follow-up question or a statement that relates it to their own experience.   They are just saying “great” or whatever as a filler word, before they go on to the next line in their script, which just happens to be the next question.

Have you had the experience where a person is obviously waiting for you to finish your statement, and then pounces on it like a jaguar going in for the kill to a helpless gazelle?    During the time they are talking, they are rehearsing what they are going to say, rather than listening to what you are really saying.    The problem is, their comment may be reacting you said before, but you may have changed the topic, so their response is disconnecting with what you are talking about right now.

My brother studied acting in college and I asked him how actors keep saying the same lines of a play over and over without getting bored.    He says it takes the skill of active listening so that, although they know their next line, rather than rehearsing it in their head, they allow themselves to listen to the words, and observe the facial movements and hand gestures of the other person so that they react to them as if they are hearing or seeing them for the first time.  Then their reaction to the line is a natural reaction based, naturally, on the words they have to say next in the play, but they are fueled by the emotional reaction to those lines which occurs when they are present in the moment of the play.

Ideally we should listen to each other in that way as well.    However, although you follow up with active listening, you can start by actively initiating the conversation.

3.  Getting Rid of Awkwardness through Empathy

Most people in a new social situation have some concern about making a mistake.   In fact, that’s the basis for the fear of public speaking, because it is the same social awkwardness people have when speaking to individuals writ large by the fact that you are speaking to an entire group of people at once.   But just remember, that the audience member has some concern as well.   Are they going to enjoy this speech, or will they have to be bored for 5-7 minutes and then clap politely afterwards?     Whether they paid money to attend your speech or not, they did spend at least their time when they could be doing something else listening to you instead.   So you deserve to give them your best effort.

If you are nervous meeting a group of strangers at a networking function, just remember … everyone else is probably nervous but they may not visibly show it.    The only person’s nervousness you will probably be intimately aware of is your own.   But because you are feeling that way, so are the others in all likelihood, so you owe it to them to help dispel some of that nervousness by taking the first step.   They will be grateful to you, and you will begin to develop that mysterious attractive essence called “charisma.”

So don’t wait for the audience to come around to your way of looking at things–go to them first and help them to really see what it is that you are saying.    Start where you are, but go to where they are–that’s the secret of connection.

The next post will cover the next proactive way of connecting namely, Connecting Requires Clarity, so … prepare!

 

 

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Requires Energy


This fourth chapter of the book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” by John Maxwell covers the fourth principle of connection, namely, “Connecting Always Requires Energy.”    The reason why this particular chapter is important to me is because I am, by nature, an introvert.    This means that the process of going and interacting with people is something which requires energy.    Extroverts gain energy by going and interacting with people, and so I thought that they had the natural advantage when it came to connection.    However, John Maxwell shows that interaction with others is not the same as connection.    You can interact with others in a way that is totally self-centered which does not connect with others.

In this first post, John Maxwell specifies what the phrase “connecting requires energy” really means.

1.  Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator

John Maxwell’s professor in college once presented a list of the “Four Unpardonable Sins of a Communicator”, which were being

  • Unprepared
  • Uncommitted
  • Uninteresting
  • Uncomfortable

Overcoming the first three require advance preparation, and thus require effort or energy.

2.  10 Tips for Minglers

Another list that John Maxwell presents is that of communication coach Susan RoAne, author of the book “How to Work a Room,” who lists the following 10 tips for those who want to learn to mingle in a crowd and connect with others.

  1. Possess the ability to make others feel comfortable.
  2. Appear to be confident and at ease.
  3. Have an ability to laugh at themselves (not at others).
  4. Show interest in others; they maintain eye contact, self-disclose, ask questions, and actively learn
  5. Extend themselves to others; they lean into a greeting with a firm handshake and a smile
  6. Convey a sense of energy and enthusiasm–a joie de vivre
  7. Are well-rounded, well-informed, and well-mannered
  8. Prepare vignettes or stories of actual occurrences that are interesting, humorous, and appropriate
  9. Introduce people to each other with an infectious enthusiasm (there is no other kind) that motivates conversation between the introducees
  10. Convey respect and genuinely like people–the core of communicating

Seven out of these 10 tips require energy, which requires focused attention.

In the next post, John Maxwell presents the first of five proactive ways to use energy for connecting.   Connecting requires initiative, so you need to go first.

10 Reasons to Like the New Toastmasters Educational Program


On Thursday, I listened to a webinar sponsored by Toastmasters International regarding the upcoming rollover of their new educational program, which will replace the current educational program in the course of the next few years.

The purpose of this post is to list 10 features of the new program that I like, and why I hope to be an enthusiastic ambassador for the new program as the upcoming Area Governor for my area.

1.   The New Educational Program is Comprehensive

The current educational program consists of two tracks, an educational and a leadership track.   The educational track consists of four levels starting from Competent Communicator going up to Advanced Communicator Gold, and the leadership track consists of three levels starting from Competent Leader going up to Advanced Leader Silver.    You become a Distinguished Toastmaster by completing both tracks.    Each of these components was developed at a different time, so the entire program was built like a series of building blocks

The new program, with its new tracks and levels, was designed together in an integrated way.    This means that more thought was put into how they all fit together to improve the member’s competence in the various areas they cover.

2.  The New Educational Program is Modular

One thing to note about the current educational program is that everyone goes through the exact same pathway to become a Distinguished Toastmaster.    The only variation comes in what advanced manuals you use to complete the Advanced Communicator levels of Bronze, Silver, and Gold.   The new program is tailored more to individual needs and will offer not two tracks, but five, including:

1.  Public speaking

2.  Interpersonal Communication

3.  Managing a Project

4.  Facilitating Meetings

5.  Leading Strategically

These are the categories as I remember then in the notes from the webinar; the exact wording may differ.   The first two cover communication, and the last three cover leadership, but each track covers a different aspect of that over-arching theme.    To get a DTM, you will choose two out of the five possible tracks to pursue.

3.   The New Educational Program is Individualized

How do you choose which of the tracks you want to pursue?   You will take a interest survey online when you first become a member, or if you are already a member and want to enter the new program.    This will determine what your preference is in terms of what strengths you perceive you already have and what weaknesses you want to eliminate.    So rather than “one size fits all”, the educational pathway you pursue is the one that is right for you.

4.   The New Educational Program is Relevant Technologically

The new educational program will be introduced with an online survey, as mentioned above, but once you determine what tracks you want to pursue, the materials to help you pursue those tracks will be found online, rather than in paper manuals as they are today.    This is not only economically and environmentally sound, but is pedagogically sound as well.    Some people learn better with words, some with pictures, some with stories, and all of these are better accommodated in an online format where a concept can be introduced with text, illustrations, and video examples.    Rather than three or four levels, each track will have 5 levels, so that the leap from one level to the next is not so great–this encourages people to keep progressing through the tracks so that they complete the program.

5.  The New Educational Program is Relevant Socially

The projects that you now use to complete the Competent Leader award are those having to do with club events; in the future educational program, the projects will be more relevant to real-world situations, having to do with the workplace, with community outreach, etc.    Therefore the experience you gain in Toastmasters will gain even more currency with employers of corporations and even non-profit organizations.

The points above have to do with the contents of the new program.    Of course, the fact that the new program has great content makes me excited about participating in it.   But as an Area Governor, I will have to be the liaison between the Educational Ambassadors, who are officially assigned to spread the word about the programr, and the club in my Area.   The way that the rollout or introduction of the new program is being executed was of concern to me, because that is going to affect the acceptance of the new program by the rank-and-file members.

6.  The Rollout was Initiated Properly

As a project manager, I was amazed to learn that all the right notes were hit when the project was being initiated.   There was an identification of the stakeholders of the project, if you consider the project the development and introduction of this new educational program.    Of course, the members of Toastmasters International would be considered primary stakeholders of the project, because they, after all, will be the users of it.   However, “stakeholders” in a project are not necessarily just the end users of the end product of the project, but also any individual or organization that would be impacted by the project.    This would include companies that not only have Toastmasters clubs on their premises, but also companies that consider Toastmasters experience as a positive attribute for potential employees.   It would include the academic community in the communications field.   All of these, and more, were consulted during the initiating process.

The result was a program with the features outlined above.    One of the problems whenever you make a change within an organization, however, is the fact that many people are allergic to change because they are comfortable with the current program.    It is ironic because being a Toastmaster is all about getting out of your comfort zone with respect to public speaking; nonetheless, many people find a program which challenges them, but only to a limited extent, and this becomes their new comfort zone.   The new program will be more challenging, because it offers more choices of tracks, and more levels within each track, so many people will be resistant.    That is why it is important to have the Educational Ambassadors coordinate closely with the District, Division, and Area leadership.   To that end, Toastmasters International wisely invited BOTH of these groups to the webinar, because the more widely the information is disseminated, the more quickly these groups can influence the members that the new program will be even BETTER for them than the current one.

7.  The Rollout was Planned Properly

The initiation phase took about 2 years, from 2010 to 2012, and the planning phase took about 2 additional years, from 2012 to now.    Here is where the rollout plan was developed, with various important milestones along the way.  Here are the milestones as currently understood.

  • July 2014-December 2014:  Educational Outreach regarding New Program
  • January 2015-June 2015:      Beta Testing of New Program
  • July 2015-June 2017:             Introduction of New Program

If certain criteria for success for each phase of the project are not met, then it is possible that the schedule listed above may slip.    In some projects, of the three constraints of time, scope, and quality, time is sometimes of the essence, and quality may have to be sacrificed in order to complete the project by a deadline.   However, it is a wise decision by Toastmasters International that the quality of the new program is the operative constraint, and so if the deadlines above have to get moved to assure that quality, then so be it.    So, the above is the current deadline according to the plan.

8.   The Rollout of the New Program is coordinated with the Phaseout of the Old Program

It turns out by happy accident that I will be finishing the DTM program by June 2015, which is just right before the new program starts in July 2015.    That will mean I can start in July 2015 with the new program and work on getting a new DTM under that program.    However, what if you’re halfway done with the old program in July 2015.   Toastmasters International has thought of that, and is going to allow people to continue for the two-year period of the introduction of the new program to complete any of the levels under the two tracks of the old program if they desire.    Also, just like getting credit at a university for academic work done at a community college, those who have completed certain educational awards under the old program will be able to convert that experience into credit under the new program.   The details of this have yet to be worked out.

9.   The Rollout Uses Progressive Elaboration

One of the things you realize about progressing as a Toastmaster is that you learn to be an imperfectionist, meaning that you don’t wait to try a challenge until you feel you are 100% ready.    Why?   Because it is a safe environment to fail, meaning that if you try something and it doesn’t work out, you still win because you learn something from it, and your fellow club members do too.    In a similar way, Toastmasters is deciding to go ahead and let people know about the program although all the details have not yet been worked out.    Imperfect knowledge is better than pure speculation.    People should be reassured that the large outline, meaning the soundness of the educational program as a whole, has been thoroughly investigated.    Filling in the details is important, but it was important to get the outline of the forest right before planting all the trees.   So the planning is going through progressive elaboration, meaning the project is going forward without 100% of the details being worked out beforehand.    This can seem unnervingly to beginners like someone trying to lay down the train tracks while the train is barreling down the tracks towards you, but it is not uncommon in today’s busy world to do this, and TI is taking advantage of this project planning methodology and moving forward with the project.   Again, there are fail-safes built into the system to stop if the key milestones are not being reached to the satisfaction of the project planners.

10.   The Rollout is Engaging the Membership

Rather than keeping the details of the project secret, Toastmasters International is taking the chance of releasing the partial details of the program with the understanding that some of them have not yet been worked out.   This has the risk of creating confusion.   However, the opportunity gained by doing this is that resistance against the new program will be worn down by the leadership explaining that the changes are being made literally with the end users, i.e., the Toastmasters International Club members, in mind.   That’s how the program was designed, and that’s why the rollout is being done over a two-year period, to get the organization’s leadership engaged, like was done at the webinar last Thursday, and then to have the leadership engage the membership.

This is not “my way or the highway”, or a top-down leadership mentality.    Rather, it is a recognition that if you are on a journey of self-improvement, and the end seems to keep stretching out in front of you, at some point you realize that the end is the journey.    The purpose of the new educational program is to make the journey to self-improvement and the resulting increase in self-confidence an even more enjoyable experience than it was before.

To that end, I look forward to the introduction of the new Toastmasters Educational Program!

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Beyond Words (6)


In this third chapter of his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell discusses the various components that go into connecting with others.

1.  Summary of Sections 1-5

In the first part of his chapter, which I covered in the last past, he stated that words, whether written or spoken, only represent a part of what is communicated, and a small part at that.   It turns out that the visual and non-verbal (gestural) components not only represent the other parts of what is communicated, but they represent the MAJOR parts of communication.   These three parts of non-verbal communication connect with people through thought, emotion, and a call to action.

In the second section, John Maxwell presents his Connection Checklist, which I relate to the three categories of thought, emotion and action-related communication styles presented in the previous section.    There is a fourth category of communication style which John Maxwell does not mention, and that is the process-related style.

INTEGRITY–Did I do my best?

EXPECTATION–Did I please my sponsor or my audience?

RELEVANCE–Did I understand and relate to the audience?

VALUE–Did I add value to the people?

APPLICATION–Did I give people a game plan?

CHANGE–Did I make a difference?

In the third section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability to connect with people visually.

1.  Eliminate Personal Distractions

2.  Expand Your Range of Expression

3.  Move with a Sense of Purpose

4.  Maintain an Open Posture

5.  Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

In the fourth section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability connect with people intellectually and this requires you to know both your subject and yourself, in particular, what your preferred communication style is.   Once you know what your preference, you have to learn how to use all of the other communication styles as well, so that you can cover the preferences of everyone in your audience.

In the fifth section, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability connect with people emotionally.

1.  People Hear Your Attitude

The exact choice of words you use is important, but not as important as the energy, intensity and  conviction with which you use them.

2.  Charisma is Attitude, not Personality

John Maxwell thinks that charisma, the presence people have which cause others to be drawn to them, is not a function of one’s personality, but rather of one’s attitude.   People who have this presence are so comfortable with themselves, and have such a positive, unselfish attitude that they are able to focus all of their energy on others.     This is a very hopeful statement, because people think that charisma is just something people are born with, and if you don’t have it now, well, you’re out of luck.   No!   You just need to develop a positive attitude, which everyone can do.

How do you do this?    This is not in John Maxwell’s book, but what helped me to develop a positive attitude was a 21-day program put together by psychologist Shawn Achor.

Watch his TED talk

https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work#

and then read my summary which describes his program in more detail

https://4squareviews.com/2012/06/04/21-days-to-a-positive-mindset-a-ted-talk-by-shawn-achor/

The remaining of the post, the sixth section of the third chapter, will talk about how to increase your ability to connect to people visually.

2.  Connecting Verbally–The Power of Words

Of course, the power of words is an extremely important part of connecting with others.    But the power comes not just from the denotation of the word, or the literal meaning, but the connotations of the word, or the words, ideas, and images which are associated with that word.

Other powerful forms of words are quotations which are sayings which have become famous due to their emotional power and verbal resonance.    “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”   If President Kennedy had just said “Ask what you can do for your country”, the basic idea of service would have been stated, but by using the words as he did, where one half is an inverted, mirror-image of the other, you get a resonance which makes the quotation not just powerful, but memorable.

The other thing that makes a word, phrase, or passage memorable is its originality.   What we think of as classic English, namely the language of Shakespeare, is to a large extent his own invention.  He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original, according to http://www.shakespeare-online.    This is why his work is so rich, because of the 800,000+ words used in all of Shakespeare plays and poems, 43.3% of these words were invented by Shakespeare, and of these about half were only used once!    

3.  Connecting Verbally–The Power beyond Words

Words should convey confidence:   confidence in yourself but also confidence you have in the audience.    Ask them to do the action items you give in your speech–dare them to greatness!

The elements that you can to communicate emotions beyond the actual contents of the words you say are:

  • Tone–tone is the emotional element in one’s speech–it is warm, friendly, inviting?
  • Inflection–this can refer to the raising and lowering of the pitch of one’s voice, which can alter its emotional resonance with the audience
  • Timing–is the opening of the speech slow enough to engage the audience’s attention?  And is the closing of the speech done at a slower pace to signal the end of your speech?
  • Volume–does the loudness of your voice vary depending on the emphasis you are making?   Sometimes saying the most important part of a phrase in a soft as opposed to loud voice actually can create emphasis as well, because it forces the audience to listen in and zoom in to what you are saying.
  • Pacing–do you use PAUSES effectively as ways to signal the transition from one point to another?

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

You need to develop your own style of speaking which connects beyond words; although you can certainly try out certain styles of others on an experimental basis, you cannot make them your own unless they truly fit your own personality, attitude, and experience.

You need to connect

  • visually
  • intellectually
  • emotionally
  • verbally

if you are to create a presentation that truly resonates with people, that is, that connects with them.

Think of the sitar, the Indian musical instrument, which consists of a set of two sets of strings, one of which is flat against the main board or neck of the instrument, and one of which is strung over that first set.   The person playing the instrument ONLY plays the top set of strings.   The strings underneath vibrate in sympathy with the strings that are played, and that is what creates that sing-song, resonating quality that the instrument has.   In a similar way, you must be like the sitar strings that are played in such a way as to create the corresponding strings of the audience to vibrate in sympathy.    In that case, you truly are connecting, and making music together!

 

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Beyond Words (5)


In this third chapter of his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell discusses the various components that go into connecting with others.

In the first part of his chapter, which I covered in the last past, he stated that words, whether written or spoken, only represent a part of what is communicated, and a small part at that.   It turns out that the visual and non-verbal (gestural) components not only represent the other parts of what is communicated, but they represent the MAJOR parts of communication.   These three parts of non-verbal communication connect with people through thought, emotion, and a call to action.

In the second section, John Maxwell presents his Connection Checklist, which I relate to the three categories of thought, emotion and action-related communication styles presented in the previous section.    There is a fourth category of communication style which John Maxwell does not mention, and that is the process-related style.

INTEGRITY–Did I do my best?

EXPECTATION–Did I please my sponsor or my audience?

RELEVANCE–Did I understand and relate to the audience?

VALUE–Did I add value to the people?

APPLICATION–Did I give people a game plan?

CHANGE–Did I make a difference?

In the third section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability to connect with people visually.

1.  Eliminate Personal Distractions

2.  Expand Your Range of Expression

3.  Move with a Sense of Purpose

4.  Maintain an Open Posture

5.  Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

In the fourth section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability connect with people intellectually and this requires you to know both your subject and yourself, in particular, what your preferred communication style is.   Once you know what your preference, you have to learn how to use all of the other communication styles as well, so that you can cover the preferences of everyone in your audience.

In this next section, John Maxwell gives tips on how to increase your ability connect with people emotionally.

1.  People Hear Your Attitude

The exact choice of words you use is important, but not as important as the energy, intensity and  conviction with which you use them.    Actors who are skilled can give the same words different readings that convey a whole range of different emotions, from which the director must choose the one which corresponds with his or her version of how the scene will play out in the movie.

2.  Charisma is Attitude, not Personality

John Maxwell thinks that charisma, the presence people have which cause others to be drawn to them, is not a function of one’s personality, but rather of one’s attitude.   People who have this presence are so comfortable with themselves, and have such a positive, unselfish attitude that they are able to focus all of their energy on others.     This is a very hopeful statement, because people think that charisma is just something people are born with, and if you don’t have it now, well, you’re out of luck.   No!   You just need to develop a positive attitude, which everyone can do.

How do you do this?    This is not in John Maxwell’s book, but what helped me to develop a positive attitude was a 21-day program put together by psychologist Shawn Achor.

Watch his TED talk

https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work#

and then read my summary which describes his program in more detail

https://4squareviews.com/2012/06/04/21-days-to-a-positive-mindset-a-ted-talk-by-shawn-achor/

The next post, the last one on this third chapter, will talk about how to increase your ability to connect to people visually.

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Beyond Words (4)


In this third chapter of his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell discusses the various components that go into connecting with others.

In the first part of his chapter, which I covered in the last past, he stated that words, whether written or spoken, only represent a part of what is communicated, and a small part at that.   It turns out that the visual and non-verbal (gestural) components not only represent the other parts of what is communicated, but they represent the MAJOR parts of communication.   These three parts of non-verbal communication connect with people through thought, emotion, and a call to action.

In the second section, John Maxwell presents his Connection Checklist, which I relate to the three categories of thought, emotion and action-related communication styles presented in the previous section.    There is a fourth category of communication style which John Maxwell does not mention, and that is the process-related style.

INTEGRITY–Did I do my best?

EXPECTATION–Did I please my sponsor or my audience?

RELEVANCE–Did I understand and relate to the audience?

VALUE–Did I add value to the people?

APPLICATION–Did I give people a game plan?

CHANGE–Did I make a difference?

In the third section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability to connect with people visually.

1.  Eliminate Personal Distractions

2.  Expand Your Range of Expression

3.  Move with a Sense of Purpose

4.  Maintain an Open Posture

5.  Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

In the following fourth section of the chapter, John Maxwell gave tips on how to increase your ability connect with people intellectually and

1.   Know Your Subject

Know your subject.   You have to speak from personal experience with the subject matter, or else the speech will not seem sincere or authentic.    You have to know the material so well that you can speak without notes.

When I first was writing about project management on my blog, I was doing it from a standpoint of having studied for and passed the certification exam.    I knew the subject intellectually.    But gradually, as I used project management for my own personal projects, as well as using it for planning purposes for Toastmasters, and then at my volunteer work for the Project Management Institute, I wrote from a deeper place of personal experience.   Project management was no longer just a subject, but a vocation and a way of life.

 

2.  Know Yourself

It is not just WHAT your are saying that is important, but you also have to be able to express it in such a way that it will connect with the audience.    This means that if you are a mathematically inclined person, like I am, you may have to explain a technical subject to a non-technical audience, which means you may not be able to rely on your preferred style of explication, namely, using equations or mathematical symbols.   You may have to explain it using pictures or stories that people can relate to.    When Albert Einstein introduced his Theory of Special Relativity in 1905 to a scientific audience, he used equations.   But when he was trying to introduce the subject to a non-technical audience, he used images involving riding trains, something that was part of the everyday experience of his audience.

The next part of the chapter deals with how to connect with people emotionally, and that is the subject of the next post.

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Beyond Words (3)


In this third chapter of his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell discusses the various components that go into connecting with others.

In the first part of his chapter, which I covered in the last past, he stated that words, whether written or spoken, only represent a part of what is communicated, and a small part at that.   It turns out that the visual and non-verbal (gestural) components not only represent the other parts of what is communicated, but they represent the MAJOR parts of communication.   These three parts of non-verbal communication connect with people through thought, emotion, and a call to action.

In the second section, John Maxwell presents his Connection Checklist, which I relate to the three categories of thought, emotion and action-related communication styles presented in the previous section.    There is a fourth category of communication style which John Maxwell does not mention, and that is the process-related style.

INTEGRITY–Did I do my best?

EXPECTATION–Did I please my sponsor or my audience?

RELEVANCE–Did I understand and relate to the audience?

VALUE–Did I add value to the people?

APPLICATION–Did I give people a game plan?

CHANGE–Did I make a difference?

In the following third section of the chapter, John Maxwell gives tips on how to increase your ability to connect with people

1.  Eliminate Personal Distractions

For starters, be well groomed and wear the right clothing for the occasion.    Make sure you eliminate behaviors that may be distracting to the audience.   Since you may be unaware that you are doing these things, the best way to uncover these “visual tics” is to record yourself on video.

2.  Expand Your Range of Expression

Facial expressions should become more exaggerated when you are trying to emphasize points, particularly if the audience you are speaking to is larger.   And remember to small.

3.  Move with a Sense of Purpose

Move quickly and confidently onto the stage, because that conveys the impression that you are energetic and are looking forward to talking with the audience.   Move around the stage, but don’t do it randomly–move when you have a change in topic so that the movement adds to the meaning of what you are saying, and doesn’t detract from it.

4.  Maintain an Open Posture

Step out from behind the lectern, and get out towards where the people are.    Decreasing the physical distance between you and the audience will help decrease the emotional distance.

5.  Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Make sure you check out your speaking area (the space between you and the audience), the lighting, and the sound system before you get on stage.   You need to eliminate any surprises BEFORE you get up on stage, so that you are comfortable as if you were speaking to the audience from your own living room.

Let me reiterate the point that John Maxwell made about recording yourself on video.   If you don’t have that luxury, then have people evaluate your speech and ask them if there are any gestures you make that you may be unaware of that they think could be distracting.

For example, when I started speaking at Toastmasters, I would move my hands around in a style that was energetic, but almost to the point of being frenetic.    I didn’t even know I was doing it!    I thought to myself, I need to control this.   I reasoned that what was happening was that I was nervous, but rather than channeling that nervousness through my voice, that nervous energy was being channeled into the motion of my hands.    The problem was that this energy was not very well controlled because I was not even consciously aware of it.

So I made it a point to keep my hands ABSOLUTELY STILL during the next few speeches.   Now people said, “your content is fine, but you’re a little stiff. ”   At first, I was frankly a little taken aback.   “Make up your mind, first you said I was moving my hands too much, and now you say I’m moving them too little!”    But again, upon reflection, I realized that I was now aware of the hand movement, so that much is good.    It’s better than NOT being aware of it.  And I was making a conscious effort to control it.   Again, that represented some progress.  However, I was controlling the hand gestures to the point where again it seemed unnatural to the audience, but from the other direction.

Here’s how I struck a balance.   You know how in plays there are stage directions in parentheses like this:  (he walks towards the left side of the stage).    When I wrote my speeches, I first wrote them out word for word.   Then I would go back and visualize myself doing the speech or sometimes I would actually perform it.   If there was a point that needed a gesture that emphasized the meaning of a particular word, phrase, or a transition in the story, I would write it down as a stage direction in the script.    Then I would perform it over and over again the same way until it looked like it was happening naturally.

Then I would make sure that the gestures I made were confined to those that I had scripted.   And the audience, in other words, those fellow Toastmasters clubs members, now said my hand gestures looked natural.   They in reality weren’t natural, they were scripted, but they looked natural, and that’s all that mattered.

The next post will deal with connecting intellectually.                    

 

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Beyond Words (2)


In this third chapter of his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell discusses the various components that go into connecting with others.

In the first part of his chapter, which I covered in the last past, he stated that words, whether written or spoken, only represent a part of what is communicated, and a small part at that.   It turns out that the visual and non-verbal (gestural) components not only represent the other parts of what is communicated, but they represent the MAJOR parts of communication.   These three parts of non-verbal communication connect with people through thought, emotion, and a call to action.

In this section, John Maxwell presents his Connection Checklist, which I relate to the three categories of thought, emotion and action-related communication styles presented in the previous section.    There is a fourth category of communication style which John Maxwell does not mention, and that is the process-related style.

1.  INTEGRITY–Did I do my best?

This is the sincerity test–did the words, gestures, and phrasing all connect to your passion for the subject being presented?

2.  EXPECTATION–Did I please my sponsor or my audience?

What objectives did you have for the speech?   If these were not provided to you by the sponsor, what did you imagine them being from the audience’s point of view, and did you achieve those objectives?

3.  RELEVANCE–Did I understand and relate to the audience?

Did you give the audience information that was useful to them?    And before you gave that information, did you try to connect to the audience as people?   If they care about you, they will care about your message.

4.  VALUE–Did I add value to the people?

Did you give them ideas, stories, or action items to take away from the presentation?   Were they related in such a simple, compelling way as to be memorable?

5.  APPLICATION–Did I give people a game plan?

Will the information you presented actually be useful to people in improving their own lives and the condition of the environment they live in?

6.  CHANGE–Did I make a difference?

Will people’s lives be improved by the presentation?

The “thought” preference for communication is something which can be related to its VALUE and its ability to CHANGE their lives by virtue of the power behind those thoughts.

The “emotion” preference for communication is something which can be related to the EXPECTATION of the audience and the RELEVANCE of the presentation to their everyday lives.

The “action” preference for communication is something which can be related to its APPLICATION.

The preference for “process” in communication, the fourth style of communication, is related to the INTEGRITY of your communication in that it determines how the presentation holds together.

Since a lot of the communication is non-verbal, it is important to create a good first impression when doing a presentation.   The next post will discuss the techniques that John Maxwell recommends for doing so.

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: Connecting Beyond Words (1)


In this third chapter of his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”, John Maxwell discusses the various components that go into connecting with others.

In the first part of his chapter, he states that words, whether written or spoken, only represent a part of what is communicated, and a small part at that.   It turns out that the visual and non-verbal (gestural) components not only represent the other parts of what is communicated, but they represent the MAJOR parts of communication.

1.  Thought, Emotion, Action

John Maxwell starts this first of the chapter with an interesting statistic:

  • What we say accounts for only 7 percent of what is communicated
  • The way we say it accounts for 38 percent
  • What others see accounts for 55 percent

Therefore, when we want to connect with others, we need to include the following three components:

  • Thought:   what we know
  • Emotion:  what we feel
  • Action:  what we do

2.  The 4 Communication Styles and the 3 Components of Connection

These three not only need to be present in your communication, but they need to be consistent and reinforce each other.    There are four communication preferences which people have, which correspond to

  • People
  • Ideas
  • Action
  • Process

How do these styles map on to the 3 Components of Connection?   Those that prefer ideas are those for whom thought is the most important component.   Those that prefer people are those for whom emotion is the most important component.   And of course it goes without saying that those that prefer action are those for whom action items are the most important component.    How does the preference for process relate to communication?    A communication needs to relate to itself, meaning it has to have a certain structure:   a beginning, middle, and end, and these have to reinforce each other.

When you do are doing a speech, let’s say, you will have your own preference, and this means that you will never leave out this component, because it is what you yourself prefer.   However, your audience will consist of those with the other three preferences, and you need to include those elements as well in order to make that everyone gets something out of speech, in other words, that you connect with everyone in the audience.

In the next post, I talk about the next part of the chapter, where John Maxwell introduces the Connection Checklist, which shows the six elements you need to keep in mind when communicating with your boss or your sponsor.

Toastmaster’s High Performance Leadership Program–5 Project Components


In the previous post, I outlined how the Toastmaster’s High Performance Leadership Program, which is essentially an introduction to project management, is one of the three requirements for obtaining the Advanced Leader Silver award, the highest level on the leadership track of the Toastmasters educational program, the other two requirements being that you

–serve a term as a District Officer, including being an Area Governor

–serve as a Club Sponsor, Club Mentor, or Club Coach.

The High Performance Program consists of completing a project with five components, which are listed below.

Part 1:  Learning About Leadership

In this part, you do the following:

  • Learn about the vocabulary and concepts involved in the study of leadership.
  • Take a quiz to make sure you have mastered the material.
  • Take an assessment of your current leadership skills, identifying those strengths you already have and what weaknesses need to be overcome.
  • Plot your leadership profile based on the assessment you did in the previous step.   This is a visual depiction of your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Brainstorm for project ideas.
  • Recruit your guidance committee, and set up an initial meeting.

Part 2:  Choosing Your Objective

In this part, you do the following:

  • Create a vision–what is the result or change that you want to come about as a result of your project?   In other words, why are you doing the project?
  • Create a mission statement–what is the project going to accomplish?
  • What are the core values of your project?    If you are going to create a product, a service, or a result, what are the features that it will have for those whom it will benefit?
  • Communicate your vision, mission statement, and core values.
  • Create a speech which encapsulates the communication you outlined in the last step.
  • Invite your guidance committee to your club, and present the speech to your club members and the guidance committee.

Part 3:  Winning Commitment to Your Objective

In this part, you do the following:

  • Develop a list of stakeholders–identify those within Toastmasters or within the community who have an interest in the project or who will be affected by its result
  • Divide the stakeholders into the potential helpers, and the potential resistors.
  • Contact your potential helpers.   From these you will create your action team, from as few as 3-4 people to as many as 8-10.
  • Hold a meeting and invite your action team.
  • Create an action strategy for your team.    This will consist of the deliverables that the team will have to produce in order to accomplish the project.
  • Create an action plan for your team.    This will consist of the action items that the team will have to perform in order to produce the deliverables mentioned in the previous step.
  • Create roles for the action team, goals or milestones to be achieved on the way towards completing the action plan, and develop a timetable for the action plan.
  • Meet with your Guidance Committee to go over your project action strategy, action plan, and project schedule.

Part 4:  Working the Plan

In this part, you do the following:

  • This is where you are accomplishing the various goals and milestones of the action plan.
  • Hold periodic progress review meetings.
  • Deal with obstacles, setbacks, and problems.
  • Deal with people problems and resolve conflicts.
  • Periodically reevaluate the overall project plan.
  • Get feedback from your action team.
  • Re-evaluate your leadership skills–have they changed from the initial valuation done in Part 1?
  • Meet with your guidance committee to discuss the progress on the plan, any problems or setbacks, any people problems and how they were resolved, the validity of the original plan, and the feedback from your action team.

Part 5:  Analyzing and Presenting Your Results

In this part, you do the following:

  • When the project is completed, you present your results to the club.
  • Complete the Leadership Excellence Award Application.
  • Have the guidance committee sign the application.
  • Have your club’s Vice President Education sign the award application.
  • Mail the completed form and the completed Evaluation Guide to Toastmasters International.
  • Toastmasters International’s World Headquarters will send you the Leadership Excellence certificate.

In the language of project management, parts 1 and 2 are the initiating process, part 3 is the planning process, part 4 is a combination of the executing and the monitoring & controlling process, and part 5 is the closing process.

For those who are project managers, the process will seem natural.   For those who are not, it is an excellent place to learn the skills required to become a great project manager!