Running Effective Meetings is A Critical Leadership Skill

Last year I attended a leadership session at my work to grow leadership capacity in the face of the grey wave sweeping our organization.   Admittedly, I’m a leadership geek. It’s grabbed by attention since before I ought to have cared.   I  remember watching national convention speeches on TV with a Slurpee in one hand and a comic in the other when the other neighborhood kids had divergent interests.  Therefore, I was surprised when a particular leadership topic caught me off guard.  It was the idea that one of the most critical skills a leader can have is to run an effective meeting.

bad meeting

This meeting is likely not run by an effective leader

The reason it resonated with me was that I absolutely agreed and didn’t see it until then.  However, I have a theory that most hiring managers and up-chain folks are ignorant like I was.  I’ve suffered though too many bad meetings, and I’ve deducde that these could have been avoided if running good meetings wasn’t too often treated like an afterthought when filling leadership positions.

Recently, I was recruited to lead a half-day professional development session, and  the topic of effective meetings immediately sprang to my mind.  Spending  3-4 hours on running a snappy meeting is exactly what I think many aspiring leaders need but are too afraid (or naive) to ask for.

blue steel

Awesome leaders have many finishing moves like including how to run a killer meeting

My plan is to attack it from before (planning), during (delivery) and after (reflective & follow-up) perspectives.  I chose the title “Effective Meetings for Really, Really, Ridiculously Smart People” to prime participants that I prefer to spice professional development with a dash of levity.  After all, when we’re temporarily de-chained from our desks, why not make learning enjoyable?

I would love your feedback.  What do you think of this premise? How about the workshop title?  What are some key items you think I should cover?


Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

Posted in Continous Learning, Practice Work, professional development, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Travel Tips for Really Really Smart Folk – Guidebook Love

I love to do it yourself (DIY) travel.  That means when I roam, I like to make my travel arrangements myself.  Nothing against travel agents, they offer awesome service to many people I know and I will likely use them someday as well.  However, I get tremendous enjoyment out of researching my own accommodations and transport options and consider it part of the adventure.

A few days ago, a good friend of mine was crowd -sourcing for travel tips and I realized I have lots to give, way more than I can flame up in a social media comment thread.  Therefore, I figure it’s time to share. In fact, in writing this post, I realized have way more to give than I can fit into a single blog; therefore, you’ll have to bare with me as I explore the topic over a series of posts.

In this offering, I’ll deal with one of the first travel resources to consider:  travel guidebooks.

Get Thee a Trusty Guidebook
Paying $35 dollars for a book you may only use once is not easy for all.  I’m a thrifty guy and I have trouble buying things period but thirty five bucks is a whole lot of money for a meager public servant.  However, I’ve rapped my mind around to the point where I consider it a small price that makes possible substantial returns on much larger travel investments, such as airfare, accommodations, admission tickets, and food.

Furthermore, a guidebook makes my trips more enjoyable and rewarding, in addition to boosting their cost effectiveness.  Being more knowledgeable unlocks adventure.

Get your guidebook from the library to save $ but be careful about autograph seekers

Get your guidebook from the library to save $ but be careful about autograph seekers

Tightwad tip (takes one to know one) consider loaning your travel guidebooks from your local library.  After-all, what’s a book on Italy that has never actually been to Italy.  If you do this, consider wrapping the cover in brown packaging paper or wrapping paper so you don’t look a tourist geek (like me).  And be careful of little old ladies that will rip a guidebook out of your hand to find a page with their picture on it and autograph it before you can blink.

There is a Rome travel guidebook in the Prince George Library collection that is defaced in just this way.  Don’t tell.

Find Your Brand
Another thing to consider is to find your brand. When I first started travelling, I would check-out multiple travel guidebooks for the same destination because I figured they were all competing with each other to find unique items that the others would not mention.  I thought the more information I had, the better.

I love Rick Steve's quirky humor & budget travel philosophy

I love Rick Steve’s quirky humor & budget travel philosophy

However, travel research is a lot of work and combined with all the compressed effort you have to exert to be able to get away, both at work and at home,  I suggest you think differently.  I had to put my self-diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder aside and trust one franchise that best alighted with my travel philosophy and the things I enjoy during travel.

For Europe, I have gone with the Rick Steves brand because I like his folksy humor and emphasis on walking tours and food.  He also has introduced me, painlessly, to many an art museum, and I like his backdoor, budget way of travelling.  I don’t always use his recommendations, ask me about my Three American Tourists in Positano story, but I almost always consider them.

Rip it, Rip it Good
Rick Steve, who I might have a tiny man crush on, recommends to rip up your book into sections and only take the parts you want.  He even has a short video on this.  I haven’t been able to do this yet but here are a few other tricks I use to save bulk and weight:

Rip your books to save space and weiight

Rip your books to save space and weight

Only take one guidebook per destination.  Don’t laugh, my first trip to Europe I had a 2-3 books per place from competing brands so I wouldn’t miss out.  It was a load off when I learned to find my brand (see above).

  • Photocopy or scan the guidebook pages you want, but be wary  provoking the copyright police.
  • Purchasing an online version of your book and access it on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop.  If you go this route, consider packing an extra battery since your device will be activated for much longer in a given travel day.
  • Take notes and save them on your device or use an online storage service like Dropbox.

Travel guidebooks are the first great travel resource that a traveler should employ. Finding one that suits your travel style and finding a way to reconcile the mass, cost, and bulk of these books are worthy considerations.  Stay tuned for my future posts on other travel tips.

What are your thoughts on travel guidebooks?

Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

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Travel Prep. For Really, Really, Smart People – Part 1 of X

Wait for it – Coming soon.

I published when I wanted to safe a draft to those handful of truly awesome people that have made the choice to subscribe to my little corner of the net.

It will be about my DIY form of travel research, inspired by a friend who is travelling to Iceland.

Thanks for subscribing,

Greg

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Petcha Kutcha 101

PechaKucha is the Japanese word for “chit-chat.”  It has a variety of pronunciations.  Put “How do you say PechaKucha?” into Youtube and you will get my drift.  I’ve mashed together and delivered three of these babies so far, with another one on the way; due on September 15, 2015.

Greg Jonuk at PG PechaKucha Night Vol. 3 speaking on the thrill and value of travelling off the beaten path.

Greg Jonuk at PG PechaKucha Night Vol. 3 speaking on the thrill and value of travelling off the beaten path.

In this blog post, I will share with you what a PechaKucha is, why I PechaKucha (taking the liberty of calling it a verb), and how how to bring one into this world.

What is a PechaKucha?  PechaKucha is a presentation format where a series of speakers show 20 slides and talk on each for 20 seconds.  It originated in the Japanese design community as a way to have creative types share their awesome ideas in a crisp and concise manner.  From the original event in Tokyo in 2003, it has grown globally to over 800 communities, including my very own town of Prince George, BC, where PG PechaKucha Night Vol. 5 is right around the corner.

Why do I PechaKucha?  I have 3 reasons why I dabble in this saucy stuff:

  1. It’s challenging.  Designing and delivering a 6 minute and 40 second presentation is not for the faint of heart, nor the verbose.  I can be comfortable on stage and find it difficult sometimes to meet a rigid time budget.  I’m learning on how to do this better by using this format.
  2. It’s social.  Several years ago, I stumbled across a discount bin book titled Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnum.  The author explained how the fabric of our communities has been unravel ling for decades and introduces a term he refers to as “Social Capacity.”  I’ve been mindful of finding ways to do my part to increase the social capital of my community ever since and a PechaKucha event with its conversation, its learning, and its networking and fellowship is an fabulous way to do this.
  3. It’s fun.  I get that speaking in front of a room full of strangers is not for everyone, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld; after all, once said that most folks would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy.  However, I get a rush out of cobbling together my ideas and sharing what I’m super-pumped about with others.  It’s my dirt cheap, mostly harmless, drug of choice.

How to PechaKucha?  Here are my steps to preparing a PechaKucha:

  1. Generate a topic.  Luckily, it’s typical for each event to have a theme.  This gives me focus that I can use to pick something to talk about.  Once I have a topic, I’ll right it down in a sentence that includes both my general objective (enteratain, educate, inspire, inform, etc.) and specific objective (what do I want the audience to feel, think or do after listening to my talk?)
  2. Create a slide deck.  Next I create a slide deck in MS Powerpoint and automatically set up each slide to advance after 20 seconds.

    Adding a headline title and some notes on the visuals you are looking for lets you rehearse before a complete slide deck.

    Adding a headline title and some notes on the visuals you are looking for lets you rehearse before a complete slide deck.

  3. Storyboard the message. At the top of each slide, I write a headline title that summaries what I want to say during the 20 seconds that each slide is displayed.   I may also label the structural element of the speech that that slide represents, for example: “Body, main point 1: Why make pie? – I’ll give you 2 reasons.”  After, I’ll start writing the specific text I might want to say in the notes field at the bottom. I’ll go back and edit this several times as I rehearse and practice the talk.
  4. Add visuals. If I have a visual that comes to mind, I’ll add it for each slide.  If I don’t have one at the ready, I may add a description of what I am looking for.  For example:
    “<<Insert photo of a airplane>>.”
    I strive to use slide presentation software for what it was designed for: displaying horizontally orientated photographs and/or graphic images.  As such, I try to minimize text and wholly subscribe to a “no bullet point” school of design.
  5. Rehearse the timing.  I like to get an early start on rehearsing before I put all the visuals together.  If you like to procrastinate, this is especially important because many a presenter has devoted nearly all of their time on the slide deck and not nearly enough on preparing for the delivery.  Don’t fall for this trap.  Also, by rehearsing before the deck is complete, you will find it an iterative process where images are changed and swapped and moved and tinkered with.  While more time is needed for this method, I find it leads to a better product and it’s a lot more fun as well.

Now you know pretty much what I know about this invigorating storytelling format.  If you have never played around with it, I encourage you to explore it for yourself  and maybe make your very own.  Or, if  presenting is not your cup of tea, go to a PechaKucha Night in your community and get your chit-chat on, strictly as an audience member.

What are your great thoughts or experiences about this presentation format?


Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

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Step-by-Step: A Strategic Movement Method When Delivering a Presentation

I recently read an article that inspired me to experiment.  It was in the The Toastmaster Magazine,  a publication that comes complementary with membership. I generally read it cover to cover because each issue has awesome tools that I use to boost my communication and leadership skills.

The bit that caught my eye was a suggestion to stand in a different part of the room for different parts of a presentation.  I decided to do this during my next speech because. so far in my speaking practice, I haven’t strategically used the speaking area (or stage) and I was inspired to explore this approach.

Here was my plan of attack:

  1. Script it.  The first thing I decided to do is to write movement cues right into my speaking script.  I brainstormed a few different way to do.  I  could draw a map of the speaking area with an X where I would speak during that section.  I could have drawn an arrow prompting me to move in a particular direction for that next part of the speech.  Or, I could have added a narrative prompt such as:
    <<Move to the right side of stage.>>.”
    I chose the latter because it was the most explicit and easiest to include.

    IMG_4360

    I used tape to help me to remember to speak from 3 different speaking spots during my talk.

  2. Prepare it.  Since I often don’t glance at my script/notes unless I really need them, I often forget them at my seat.  Therefore, I realized that I needed another tool to help me remember to use this strategic movement approach.    Putting a roll of masking tape in my presentation bag is what I decided.The tape prompted me to prepare my speaking area when I arrived at the meeting venue by placing tape on the floor in the three places I wanted to move to and speak from.
  3. Do it. No rocket science with this step.  I wanted to remember to follow-through with my plan under the hot stage lights of real life, which can be easier said than done when delivering new material for the first time.
  4. Measure it.  The last step is to ask my self a few key questions, such as:
    • “Was my technique noticed?”
    • “Was it effective?”
    • “Was it worth the effort?”
    •  “Should I do it again?”

    The audience did notice my strategic movement and folks thought it solidly emphasized the transitions between my main points.  It wasn’t much effort because I was well rehearsed; therefore, I had lots of “on-stage” brain-cells to devote to implementing this technique.

    When using this technique with a slide show, more preparation is required to test and adjust for obscured sight-lines.

    When using this technique with a slide show, more preparation is required to test and adjust for obscured sight-lines.

    A few tricky items were that some people found it momentarily distracting when I walked in front of the projector screen to move to my next speaking location and one person mentioned that their view of the screen was obstructed by my body during one of my spots.  If I try this technique again with a slide show again, I will add more preparation time because each speaking location will  need to be tested for audience sight-lines.

Bringing it together, I plan to fiddle with this technique a few more times to be fully comfortable with it.  I hope you consider it for your next presentation.

What do you think should be paid attention to with this presentation technique?


Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

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Working Well With Humor – 3 tips to boost the levity factor of your next presentation

Humor is a tricky thing to master and an incredibly valuable communication asset to get your message across and have fun while doing it.  Here are 3 tips to boost your jocular acumen:

  1. Give it pause.  Often, humor needs space to germinate.  Anticipate where in your speech you might get a positive response and plan for a strategic pause at each of those points.
    Harvest your laughter by adding well-placed pauses

    Harvest your laughter by adding well-placed pauses

    Assuming where you might get laughs also allows you to account for the time it takes; this is especially important when you have a finite period to speak.  However, if you get reaction in places you didn’t assume you would, get ready to adjust by pausing and soaking it up.  No hubris here, you respect your audience by not trying to talk over their response.  I call this technique “harvesting your laughter.”

  2. Test it out. If you are not sure if something will generate giggles, stop wondering and start ooching.  To ooch, an apparently common expression in Southern US States,  is to construct small experiments to test an idea, concept, or hypothesis. Clip-out those potential funny bits and try them out on unsuspecting test audience members at the water cooler, dining room table, or community market. Deliver a micro-portion of your speech, pay attention to the reaction; then, call a time out and ask them what worked, what didn’t and how you could do better.  On second thought, drop the time out.  That would just be silly.
  3. If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit. Not all of us have a
If your humor doesn't fit your audiences' taste to the hilt - discard it!

If your humor doesn’t fit your audiences’ taste to the hilt – discard it!

mainstream sense of humor.  My mind is in gutter, or other more twisted places, more often than I would care to admit.  That’s why I ask others if what I’ve produced is appropriate for my intended audience.  Avoid confirmation bias by seeking out the opinion of multiple people from diverse perspectives.  Asking your soccer team buddies about the F-bomb infested limerick you just came up with may not give you the insurance you are looking for.  If opinion is divided on a sample of your humor, consider amending it or discarding it.

Your levity should fit with a clear majority of your audience, if it doesn’t, discard it like an Audrey Hepburn glove with a blown finger.

What are your tips to boost humor in a prepared presentation?


Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

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Step Into It – Being Deliberate About When to Sit

A few months ago I read an article about how sitting is like the new smoking.

Since then, I’ve been trying to do a better job of being deliberate about when and where I sit. I discovered that much of the time that I typically spent on my tush was not necessary and I’ve been working on finding ways to reframe these situations.

At meetings. I’ve been been striving to be more strategic on where I set up camp around the meeting room so I can stand, stretch, or even exercise while the proceedings are ongoing. Paying attention to where I’m located reduces how I might distract others. I find that the added activity has kept me more alert, especially  in the afternoons when my body slips towards siesta mode.

Exercising during meetings is a great way to stay active, engaged, and awake

Turn a projector on, dim the lights, and my head drops like a drop of drool off a dog’s jowl (I did some of that that too).  An added bonus is that at breaks, I’ve now got a built in conversation starter sign on my forehead: “Why exactly are you wiggling for?”

At airports (& parks). My teenage daughter hates this but I have been shamelessly lunging in public.  My current exercise routine involves three sets of calisthenic exercises a day. I used to think time spent waiting in an airport terminal was the perfect time to whip out the smart phone and catch up but now I have another option: public displays of exercise.  Sure I stand out, absolutely I likely look a little odd. However,  I figure like Derek Siver’s first crazy dancer, eventually I’ll start a movement and I’ll just be one gyrating fool out of many.

Amy Cuddy promotes power-posing as a way to be more confident at work

Amy Cuddy promotes power-posing as a way to be more confident at work

I’ve also been enjoying my thing at a park nearby my office. This type of bold activity is not for the self-conscious, but in addition to the obvious physical benefits, I figure all this power posing will give me a leg up in my working life as well; if you take Amy Cuddy’s work on body language to heart.

In front a screen. Right now, as I’m typing this, I am walking on the spot (which likely explains all the spelling and grammatical faux pas). To loose weight, I’ve been squeezing more activity into my life and stepping where I used to sit or sofa dwell has been my alternative.  I’m conditioned now to walk or job on the spot while I’m plugging in or tuning out.  In the age of Netflix, everyone in my house watches TV alone so If I’m not being social, I might as well get physical.  I wonder if this will catch on at movie theaters where people can guzzle their popcorn and pop – guilt free- knowing that they are burning it off with every frame of film.

If you see me wiggling at a meeting, an airport,  or in front of a projection screen near you, now you know why.  It likely won’t make me look any less strange but at least you know I’m mostly harmless.  And, if things go according to plan, my oddness will be temporary because if my extra-efforts catch on, I’ll just be like everyone else.

What are your awesome comments or questions about this unusual activity?


Comment below, tweet me @gsjonuk, or email me at thejonuks@shaw.ca

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