Lisa McInnes-Smith

Elite Property Manager - - Contents - LISA MCINNES-SMITH reg­u­larly inspires peo­ple to take ac­tion, change, and grow. For more in­for­ma­tion about Lisa visit lisas­

WE CHANGE when we re­ally want to. We change when we dis­cover it’s more dif­fi­cult to stay the same. We change when we love some­one.

I teach a course on pre­sen­ta­tion skills, but tend to teach from a very dif­fer­ent method­ol­ogy than most. I am look­ing for rapid change and there­fore make strong rules around the be­hav­iour that takes place in th­ese classes. Let me give you an ex­am­ple.

I re­cently un­der­took to teach two groups of mid­dle man­age­ment who had to make a pre­sen­ta­tion to their se­nior lead­ers about each of their ac­counts. They knew their con­tent and they knew the essence of their mes­sage; how­ever, there was great anx­i­ety

about their per­for­mance and how they would per­son­ally be judged on their abil­ity to present their ideas.

My first re­quest was to with­hold all neg­a­tive think­ing out of this space. Each per­son was only to fo­cus on what they did well and on what oth­ers did well. There would be no cor­rec­tion; there would be no con­struc­tive crit­i­cism. All we would be do­ing is build­ing on their strengths. We were go­ing to turn each as­pect where they were strong into some­thing ex­cel­lent!

For so many of them this felt like the slow method. They thought they would learn faster if we could re­move their faults and give them im­me­di­ate feed­back on all the ar­eas in which they were weak. It’s amaz­ing how of­ten peo­ple think their per­for­mance will go up if you tell them what they are do­ing wrong. In­stead, I was sell­ing them on the rapid abil­ity to trans­form per­for­mance by fo­cus­ing on their strengths alone.

Each group had about twelve par­tic­i­pants and the group dy­nam­ics were very dif­fer­ent. One man sat back in his chair with his hands be­hind his head and im­me­di­ately re­leased a flow of neg­a­tive words; he thought he was be­ing funny, but not ev­ery­one was amused. I asked him if he came from a foot­ball club cul­ture and he ac­knowl­edged that that was a huge in­flu­ence in his past. It was in­ter­est­ing that he thought that his be­hav­iour was ac­cept­able in a busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and in a pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment ses­sion.

The first ses­sion be­gan with fun and games and lots of laugh­ter. Each per­son was asked to share some per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that oth­ers were un­likely to know about them. It was amaz­ing how fas­ci­nated the room was with each par­tic­i­pant’s story, con­sid­er­ing that th­ese peo­ple had worked to­gether for some time. It re­vealed to me that they didn’t re­ally know each other and there­fore had judged one another on very su­per­fi­cial ex­pe­ri­ences and in­for­ma­tion.

When the boss got up to share about his

stint in the South African army, you could have heard a pin drop. They could hardly be­lieve that this story of ad­ver­sity and dan­ger­ous ad­ven­ture be­longed to their im­me­di­ate se­nior. I think they found a new level of re­spect right there and then. He was a good boss and they al­ready knew that he was good at his job, but now they were learn­ing that he was good at do­ing life out­side the work­place.

Some of the other sto­ries were just as mov­ing, but trav­el­ling in very dif­fer­ent direc­tions. There was the pur­suit of a part­ner on the other side of the world. There was over­com­ing a fam­ily tragedy and there was an un­ex­pected ad­ven­ture from a per­son who seemed much less ad­ven­tur­ous at work. Ev­ery­one con­cluded that it was eas­ier to like and re­spect peo­ple when we knew more about them and we wanted to en­cour­age him or her. Vul­ner­a­bil­ity and trans­parency built con­nec­tion rather than sep­a­ra­tion.

We moved onto funny sto­ries next. Some were sil­lier more than funny, but we all laughed and the mood in the room was very re­laxed and com­fort­able. While each had been shar­ing their sto­ries, we had been iden­ti­fy­ing the strengths of each presenter. Most peo­ple could think of some­thing dif­fer­ent to say about the speaker, which meant that each per­son dis­cov­ered that they had a dozen speak­ing strengths when many of them con­sid­ered them­selves very anx­ious and ill-equipped in the pub­lic speak­ing area.

The mood was now one of great op­ti­mism and most could start to see that they were bet­ter than they thought they were. We are tough judges of our­selves and can be just as tough on oth­ers. How­ever, when the need for judge­ment is removed it seems that there is space for peo­ple to truly see their as­sets and tal­ents in a new light.

We talked about open­ings and closes, props and hu­mour, but ul­ti­mately we talked about them and how good they were be­com­ing. They all went on to present their best busi­ness pre­sen­ta­tions ever. The shift was sig­nif­i­cant!

There is al­ways a bet­ter way, even if it’s only one per cent bet­ter. Let’s get bet­ter to­gether!


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