Monday, December 4, 2017

TED TAlks Part 3

TED Talks
Part 3 The Preparation Process
Should we use visuals? Well, according to Chris Anderson author of TED Talks, that’s up to us. One-third of TED speakers don’t use slides. But, two-thirds do. Slides are good when using the revelation tool of sharing ideas. They’re also good for explaining. And of course there is the aesthetic appeal. However, beware, no slides are better than bad slides. If we really want to use them, we might want to get professional help with our slides.
Some things to be aware of when using slides is that even though a picture is worth a thousand words because it shows and tells; we should limit each slide to a single core idea. Also, don’t put bullet points on slides because people will mentally leave us and read ahead. Instead, do something like putting a question on a slide, or a photograph, or video, maybe even some animation or perhaps just some key data will do nicely.
As mentioned earlier, visuals have aesthetic appeal. It’s actually okay for us to show a lot of images to help increase the audience’s delight. Some speakers even have a system that shows a new image every few seconds as they’re talking. If using pictures, remember that a black background will make it look like we are using a black border and will really help our images pop.
Here are some things to beware of. Don’t use multiple type effects in the same line. Don’t use bullets or dashes. And resist underlining and italics. Don’t put too much on one slide. Instead, let’s use feeds. It’s wiser to build onto the slide through clicks. Also use 24+ font size. We can use context photos, but have to be careful that they don’t look like year book photos. And we shouldn’t show videos longer than 30 seconds. Nor, show more than 2-4 videos. We should also avoid fancy transitions. It’s better to just go to cuts. And remember, with graphics, less is more. Finally, we need to always practice on the equipment that we’re going to use.
Should we script or not script? Or use some sort of combination of the two? Anderson believes that scripting can help us make the best use of our time up there on that stage for those short 18 minutes. But, scripting also has the danger of sounding like we are reading it. And even if we go the extra mile of fully memorizing the speech it can still sound off. Like it’s not real or authentic. Anderson calls this awkward place the, “uncanny valley”. The bottom line is that the best speeches come off as if the speaker is sharing his or her ideas for the first time.
It’s almost best to go somewhere in between scripting and not scripting. Write the speech. Make an outline. Memorize the opening and the closing. Then have a few notes for everything in between. Don’t worry. The audience won’t mind if we take a peek at our notes from time to time. A good way to do this is by taking a sip of water and glancing over at our notes before we continue our talk.
However we approach preparing for our speech, the most important thing is to practice, and practice a lot. The practice isn’t about trying to memorize our speech, it’s about becoming more comfortable with being up on that stage and in front of that crowd. When we’re more comfortable, our audience is more comfortable too. And that’s a good thing.
Anderson also expresses to always prepare a speech that is 9/10 of the time that we are given. Prepare a 54 minute speech for a 1 hour presentation. And a 16:12 speech for our 18 minute TED Talk. This gives us time to pace ourselves, pause, screw up a little bit, milk the audience and basically have some breathing room. This breathing room will add to our level of comfort and thus add to the level of comfort and joy our audience is experiencing.
Now, not to put any more pressure on ourselves, but we need to remember that in this modern era there is a tug-o-war for people’s attention. This is especially true in online formats like TED Talks where people can just click away. Our first words really do matter. So, let’s not waste them away with small talk.
A good way to open our speech could be with a dose of drama. Think about the movie industry. How would they approach this subject in the opening minutes of their movie? Another good strategy to open with is to ignite their curiosity. The best way to do this is by asking a surprising question that creates a knowledge gap our audience’s minds fights to close.

A third approach to opening our speech could be as simple as just showing an impactful slide, video or object. Finally, one can also open with teasing the audience a little bit by using words that excite curiosity like, “reveal”. This strategy encourages our audience to go on our journey. However, beware, if we tell them everything in the first 30 seconds they will have no reason to go on our journey with us. So, do tell them with some hints of where we’re going with this little talk, but don’t immediately tell them everything in your opening.
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

TED Talks Part 2

TED Talks
Part 2 Talk Tools
Our first idea building tool is connection. According to Anderson, author of TED Talks, to make a connection as a speaker we have to go to where the audience is and win them over. We do this by not rushing into our speech, but by taking a moment to smile and make eye contact. It also helps to show a little vulnerability. It’s okay to be nervous. The audience will see our humanity and root for us to succeed. Our nervousness pushes their empathy buttons. Also, let’s try to make them laugh at least once. But no corny jokes. Laughing breaks the tension and makes everyone feel like they are on the same side. Laughter is a great tool for connecting and gets everyone to listen closer to us.
Narration is our second idea building tool. Narration is simply a good story. So, let’s tell a good story. Anthropologist and professor Wiessner shares that ancient campfire stories played a crucial role in helping expand people’s abilities to imagine, dream, and understand the minds of others. Basically, our minds co-evolved through storytelling over many, many campfires. We can’t help but like stories. It’s in our DNA. And every one of us gets something out of stories because every one of us has some level of understanding, regardless of where we are on the age spectrum, experience spectrum, or intelligence spectrum. There is something for everyone in a good story.
Telling our own stories is the simplest talk to give. But, beware. According to Anderson, there is a danger to taking this simpler road. The majority of talks that TED Talks turns down are talks people have about themselves because they lack a central idea that ties the narrative together. Remember the take-away has to be obvious for everyone in the crowd.
Overcoming the curse of knowledge may be one of the most important things we can do as speakers. Making the speech as simple as it can be, but no simpler is how the best speakers use the third tool of building ideas through explanations. For the explanation method to be effective it has to start where the audience is. Build curiosity. And it has to be delivered piece by piece with metaphors built in to show how it all fits together with clear and easy to follow examples.
The best explainers say just enough to let people feel like they’re coming up with the idea themselves. The best speakers bring in new concepts and describe them just enough so that the prepared minds of the audience can slide these concepts together into place for themselves. This strategy is time efficient for speakers doing the short 18 minute TED Talk, and it’s deeply satisfying for the audience members who like to feel clever.
One more thought on explanations. According to Anderson, sometimes it helps to clear the muddy water by beginning our talks with what it isn’t. By sharing what it isn’t with our audience we make it easier for them to close in on what we have in our mind of what it is.
Our fourth tool for speakers to build ideas in others’ heads is persuasion. Persuasion is the act of replacing someone’s world view with something a little better. This won’t be an easy thing to do, however. People cling to what they think they know because it’s the only way they know how to make sense of their world at the moment. No one wants to live in a senseless world turned upside down. To be effective in the art of persuasion, a speaker has to have the element of reason as a central building block of their persuasive speech. Reason is best accomplished through intuition pumps or a detective story approach. Adding some humor early on, adding an anecdote, offering vivid examples, using 3rd party validation, using powerful visuals and other plausible priming devices helps one persuade others to their vision of a better world.

The fifth talk tool of a speaker trying to build ideas is the revelation. The revelation is the most direct way of gifting an idea to an audience because it just simply shows something new to them. However, let’s not simply just walk our audience through bullets in a power-point presentation. That’s boring. Instead, let’s figure out a way that engages, intrigues and enlightens our audience. This route will bring some wonder and delight. Some of TED Talk speakers have achieved this wonder and delight through “Wonder Walks”. Others have done it through Dynamic Demos. Some have even done it through “Dreamscapes”. Ultimately, what we want to do as speakers is to paint a bold picture of the future. And we want to do this in a way that will make them desire that future!

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ted Talks Part 1

TED TALKS: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris Anderson

Part 1: Foundation

  
          Every piece of human progress has happened because humans have shared ideas and the collaborated to make it happen. We need people to step forward out of the shadows and share their ideas on today’s problems. Thankfully, we have the avenue of public speaking to do this. Speaking is an ancient art that is wired deeply into our human minds. And now thanks to the Internet, our campfire talk is open to the whole world. We all have something valuable to say. And as along as we say it authentically, in our own unique ways nobody can argue that point.
Speaking successfully and authentically could start for many of us as early as our school years if our schools would just resurrect “rhetoric”- the art of speaking effectively. Schools should make speaking effectively the 4th R. Many would agree that today presentation literacy has the potential to make the biggest impact. It could do the most good going forward for our youth and our society, especially in this new multi-media digitally connected streaming world.
A talk can open doors and transform a career. And yes it’s scary! But, fear can be a good thing in that it will help us have the energy and will to prepare. It can be done! Everywhere we look, we can see people who have overcome their fear of public speaking from Eleanor Roosevelt to Warren Buffet to Princess Diana. If we can talk to a group of friends over dinner, then we can speak publicly and even go as far as to give a TED Talk.
The central thesis of Chris Anderson’s book, “TED TALKS: The Official Guide to Public Speaking” is that anyone with an idea worth sharing is capable of giving a powerful talk. Confidence doesn’t matter. Stage presence doesn’t matter. Neither does being a smooth talker. The only thing that truly matters is having something worth saying. The good thing is that we all have far more worth sharing than we’re presently aware of. We all have a blind spot and can’t easily see what’s unique and special about ourselves. Asking those who know us best will help us uncover the shining star that we all have hidden somewhere deep within us. 
Now, if we think we might have something special worth sharing, but are afraid that we don’t know enough about it yet, don’t sweat it. Anderson has a solution. And it’s a simple one. Let’s just put ourselves on a mission to find out more about what we have that might be worth sharing. And if we find ourselves dragging our feet on it, then let’s just simply sign up to give a speech on it. The fear that will immediately follow will be enough to get us moving, get us learning, and get us growing again.
Focusing on what we want to give our audience and starting where they are at is a great foundation for building our speech. However, when building our speech we need to be careful that we are giving and not taking. NO SALES PITCHES! No rambling either. The audience’s time is valuable. Let’s not disrespect them by not thoroughly preparing our speech and then wasting their time through our own rambling. Also, let’s not talk just about our organization; no matter how interesting we may find it. I guarantee you that others won’t find our job or place of employment as interesting as we do. They can’t love it like we do because they don’t work there and aren’t familiar with it like we are.
Since the point of our talks are to say something meaningful, Anderson shares that it helps if our speeches have a throughline that ties together each narrative. Think of a throughline as a strong rope that we attach each element to that are parts of our ideas we’re building in others’ heads. We want to make the audience’ take-away obvious. And we make it obvious by knowing our audience and not trying to jam too much stuff in too short of a time. Cover less and the impact will be more. Anderson encourages us to plan our 18 minute TED Talk and then cut it in half. And then cut it in half again. Hmm…

Once we have a throughline in 15 words or less, then it’s time to plan what we’ll attach to it. Some of the tools that speakers use to build ideas are connection, narration, explanation, persuasion, and revelation. Most speakers use one of these idea-building tools or a mix of them. We’ll explain them more in the next section. 
Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.

Monday, September 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 6

The Age of Individuals Continued
Another interesting company that is doing some really ground-breaking stuff according to Rose in his book, The End of Average, is Morning Star. Morning Star has a self-managing philosophy. There are no managers. There is no hierarchy. Morning Star does everything it can to promote the power of the individual. Employees can even modify their own jobs however they want to as long as they can convince employees affected by the change that it’s a good idea.
Believe it or not, this can be the new win-win type of capitalism when individuality is taking seriously instead of the Robber Barons and every employee is transitioned into an independent agent. The new empowered employees are tasked with figuring out the best way of doing his or her job and contributing to the company in a meaningful way rather than being disengaged and having one foot already out the door. Remember, the 2013 Gallup Survey found that 70% of employees disengaged. And Walmart has a turnover rate of about 50% annually. That means that Walmart has to replace about a million people a year. Just think about the enormous costs of doing that…
Western Governors University is breaking out of the traditional Taylorism system of education where high schools and colleges are controlling almost every aspect of their students’ lives and forcing their students to be just like everyone else, but only better. In addition, students are paying more and more for this kind of maltreatment as well. Western Governors University has on-line self-paced classes with competency exams. This University only costs $6,000 for as many classes as one can finish in two semesters.
More than 200 schools are now exploring competency-based forms of evaluating performance. And many are doing away with traditional grades. Even MIT is offering several credentialing programs because it offers more flexible and finer-grained level of certification of one’s skills, abilities and knowledge than the typical four year college diploma. The State of Virginia is also offering credentialing instead of the four year college programs where they have a shortage of qualified candidates.
In short, students should be able to take courses anywhere and stack credentialing from all over, according to Todd Rose. Students should be able to learn the material at their own pace, and even for free if they can figure out a way, like maybe going to the free public library, for some of their education. In addition, with self-determined competency-based credentialing there will be fewer penalties for experimenting in order to discover what one’s true passion really is. This would also create better matches between students and employees because credentials would adjust in real time. Rose doesn’t want to do away with colleges, he just wants them to change to meet the needs of today’s students.
A good fit with our environment, whether it’s a classroom, cockpit or corner office, creates opportunity to show what we are truly capable of as unique individual human beings. But one must remember that equal access is not the same as equal fit. Equal access helped move us forward as a more fair society during the Industrial Age. Today, it’s different. Today, only equal fit creates true equal opportunity.
Back in 1931, James Tuslow Adams coined the term, American Dream in direct response to the growing influence of Taylorism and the efficiency movement, which valued the system, but had no regard for the individuals to whom alone any system could mean anything. The American Dream wasn’t about the white picket fence or being rich. Rather, it was about having the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest, as well as being appreciated for who we really are.
Unfortunately, averagarianism has corrupted the American Dream, and has made it more about economic success than anything else. This corruption of our American Dream has caused the fabric of our society to change, as well as the way we view each other, and view ourselves.
The principles of individuality presents a way to restore the American Dream, and even better, the chance for everyone to attain it in their own unique way. It’s time for all of our institutions, especially our schools, to embrace individuality and to adopt equal fit instead of equal access. We can break free of the tyranny of averagarianism and standardization by choosing to value individuality and get the American Dream back again by being the best we can be and living a life of excellence as we define it by ending the age of average.

Are you willing to do your part in finding and obtaining your American Dream?

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 5

The Age of Individuals
In the Taylorist averagarian system of standardization and hierarchies where the system prevails and the average employee is expendable, a 2013 Gallup Study found that 70% of employees felt disengaged from their job. Google and Costco have turned away from this system of Taylorization and have now been named to the list of “Top Places to Work” due to their new philosophy toward the individual. If you hire great people, give them good wages, treat them with dignity, and give them an honest path for a career, great things will happen.
Costco truly believes in finding a good fit. One of Costco’s strategies to finding good fits is by identifying students from local colleges who are already working part-time for them who are a good fit. They hire these people for fulltime work when they graduate. Costco finds this strategy much more beneficial than actively seeking out and hiring graduates from prestigious universities. Costco also gives their employees great benefits and pays them 75% more than Walmart does and has still been profitable every single year since they went public. A lot of Costco’s success has to do with employee loyalty and low employee turnover costs. This is helping them beat Walmart at their own game of low costs and efficiency. Walmart has any extremely high employee turnover costs due to its Taylorization system.
Another interesting case is Zoho Technology Corporation of India who took on the behemoth Microsoft. In the beginning Zoho couldn’t afford to hire the kind of talent that Microsoft could, so Zoho had to look for talent in different ways and in different places. Amazingly, even against all these odds, Zoho quickly became known for creating great stuff with a talent pool that none of their competitors would have hired.
Zoho’s founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu found that there was little or no correlation between grades and perceived quality of diploma and on-the-job performance as computer programmers. This made him wonder why all the Big Boys were wearing blinders and made the narrow pathway of college a pre-condition to be hired in their companies. Zembu decided to cultivate talent himself by creating his own Zoho University where he would not only give raw, unproven kids a shot, but he would even pay them to go to his school. His school was self-paced, had no grades and used feedback based on projects. And guess what? It’s working! Vembu has hired some amazing unknowns from some of the poorest neighborhoods in India from his university program who have gone off to do great things.
Since Vembu doesn’t agree with evaluating people based on averages, Zoho doesn’t have performance reviews. There are no score cards. There are no employee rankings. If a manager has a concern with an employee, they have a one-on-one discussion so the manager can address it and help that employee right then and right there rather than several months later at a nerve-racking performance review.
Zoho pays fair wages and great benefits. It identifies talent and nurtures it. And that talent responds by being fully engaged and extremely productive. Zembu says that if you treat individuals with respect, as individuals, you will get more out of them than what you put into them. These simple common sense strategies based on individuals over the system is how Zoho can compete with the Big Boys while using a talent pool that the Big Boys would never even look at, let alone consider hiring and working with.

So, what are you capable of doing with your people?

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 4

The Principle of Individuality Continued
People change according to the circumstances they find themselves in. The often used trait theory and existentialist thinking does a bad job of explaining human behavior because it ignores the second principle of individuality called the context principle. Trait-based tests assume that you’re either one thing or another thing, like an extrovert or an introvert. However, Yuichi Shoda, a top researcher in child development showed that people are really both, an extrovert and an introvert depending on the context that they find themselves in. And similar to Molenaar, people also accused Shoda of promoting anarchy.
The bottom line is that we rarely see the diversity of contexts in the lives of our acquaintances, so we make judgements about who they are based on limited information. Knowing contextual if-then signatures (if this happens, then she does that) helps us make better decisions about people. Asking “Why” people are behaving that way in that context helps parents, teachers, counselors and managers help their people succeed and builds positive relationships. This strategy can also be applied to oneself and can produce some great results.
People change according to the circumstances that they find themselves in. Thus, we all end up walking the road less traveled. However, Averagarianism thinking dubes us into believing that not only are there ‘normal’ brains, bodies and personalities, but there are also ‘normal’ pathways that lead us to the one right way to learn and obtain our goals. We can thank Fredrick Taylor and Edward Thorndike who promoted a standard career track within hierarchical organizations, which then trickled down to education, for this faulty kind of thinking about pathways to success.
This faulty kind of thinking is very limiting. These temporal norms originally designed to maximize factory efficiency has unfortunately turned into invisible pace-setters for all aspects of our personal and professional lives. We all have come to believe that we’re either on the right track for success or not.
The cold hard fact that there really isn’t a single normal pathway for any type of human development, biological, mental, moral, or professional forms the basis for the third principle of individuality called the pathway principle. This principle makes two important affirmations. First, for all aspects of life, there are many equally valid ways to reach the same outcome. And two, the particular pathway that is optimal for you depends on your own individuality.
According to psychologist Kurt Fischer there are no fixed ladders of development, but only webs of development where each new step opens up a whole new set of possibilities according to our own individuality. You see, we assume that way to success is to follow a well-blazed trail. But the fact is that we are making our own trail. Thus, we need to spend some time understanding our own jaggedness and if-then signatures because that’s the only way to judge if the path we are on is the path that fits our individuality. There will always be more than one pathway available to us, and the odds are that the best one for us is the one that is less traveled.

So I must ask now, are we judging others too quickly, and have we been climbing a ladder to success or a web to success? 

Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The End of Average Part 3

The Principles of Individuality
The first principle of individuality is jaggedness. Something is jagged if it contains multiple dimensions, and these dimensions are weakly related to each other. In the language of mathematics this would be called a weak correlation. Unfortunately, according to Rose, one dimensional averagarianism thinking has caused us to believe weak correlations mean something that they do not.
A (0.4) correlation between two dimensions means that we have managed to explain 16% of the behaviors in each dimension. Do we really understand something if we can only explain 16% of it? Well, if our ultimate goal is efficiency and the system, then 16% appears to be enough for most people since Quetelet started applying his astronomy math to human beings. However, if our goal is to identify and nurture individual excellence, then wouldn’t you agree that a 16% correlation isn’t enough to be basing decisions about ALL human beings?
Initially, Microsoft, Google and Deloitte evaluated individuals by ranking them. They too fell into Galton’s belief that if someone was good at one thing, then they must be good at most things. But, they soon discovered that talent can’t be boiled down to one number and then compared to the average because it’s one dimensional thinking.

When organizations embrace jaggedness, like these companies above eventually did, they often feel like they have found a way to uncover diamonds in the rough or to discover hidden talent. However, the real difficulty is not in finding new ways to discover talent, but it is in getting rid of the one-dimensional thinking blinders that prevented us from seeing it all along. And even more importantly, Rose believes that the blinders that we need to take off the most are the ones we use when looking at ourselves. When we recognize jaggedness, we are not only better able to open doors for our own children, students, athletes, and employees, but we’re also able to open doors for ourselves… And that’s a good thing, wouldn’t you agree?


Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker and educator. To learn more about Dan please visit his website at: www.DanBlanchard.net. Thanks.