Tag: personal development

How To Avoid Death By Powerpoint – (while still using it)

credit: Hugh Crumley

Like most people, I have been subjected to death by PowerPoint over the years, one memorable occasion was when a one hour Health and Safety presentation overran by 40 minutes and consisted of 75 slides with full of closely spaced text.

Don’t get me wrong, I love PowerPoint and use it a lot.  I grew up in the era of overhead projectors so anything that moved me on from flip frames and dusty lenses had to be a vast improvement.

The problem is, many presenters get sucked into the technology and end up hiding behind it.

So here are my top 10 tips to avoid sending people to sleep and making your presentation instantly forgettable.

  1. Use photos not clip art and credit the photographer where possible.  Full screen photos are really effective, catch people’s attention and provide a connection with what you are saying to help people remember..
  2. Use a remote control to avoid breaking eye contact during the presentation.
  3. Position the laptop or tablet where you can see it while still looking at the audience to avoid looking at the projection screen snd breaking eye contact.
  4. Use PowerPoint like a flip chart – build up diagrams, models and flow charts as you speak.  This increases your credibility and allows you to control the speed of information.  If the slide is full of information people will read that rather than listen to you.
  5. Switch the screen off to  hide the slide once you have made the point – keep people’s focus on you not the screen. Most remote controls have a blackout switch.  If they don’t presssing ‘B’ on the keyboard will turn the screen black and pressing ‘W’ will turn it white.
  6. Avoid noisy and distracting animations – keep transitions simple.
  7. Use as little information on slides as possible.  When people are reading, they’re not listening to you.
  8. Keep to no more than 2 fonts or text colours and keep words to a minimum.  Your audience will read whatever is on the screen and distract themselves from the main event – you.  Worse than that, you will read what’s on the screen out loud.
  9. Blue and white lower case letters are the easiest to read – think about motorway signs that have to be read quickly and easily.
  10. Be flexible –  keying a number and ‘Enter’ will take you to that numbered slide.  Print out a copy of the slides as handouts, number them and change the odrer as necessary, or refer back to the right slide as you answer questions

Powerpoint is a great tool – but that is all it is.  It helps you to get your message across more effectively and should be the supporting medium, not the main feature.

To find out more information on how to leverage your presentation visit fulcrum presenting

 

 

When should you take charge of your own personal development?

At the beginning of our lives, the responsibility for our development belongs with other people. Our parents and our family decide what we should learn and how we should learn it.

Then the Education System joins in and we are led towards knowledge and skills that the wisdom of the time decides that we will need.

The longer we stay in education, through school, college and university, the more we get to choose our own path but we are still within a system; a system that caters for millions each year.

In fact, society largely decides what we should learn and how we should develop and for most of us, focused development stops when our formal education stops.

But at that stage, many of us still have questions that we haven’t yet answered. What do we want to be? Who do we want to be?

Take charge of your own personal development

And at that point, we move from being educated to having a career. We stop having classmates and start having colleagues. Our classroom is now an office, and often we have no teachers.

Is it any surprise that many of us drift from job to job without a coherent career plan? If we stay in one job, is it a surprise that any training we get or advancements that we make seem to be at the whim of the company?

The problem, the challenge and the opportunity is that we are all unique individuals. NLP helps us to see this, in ourselves and in others. It helps us gain insights about ourselves and use insights into others to build mutually beneficial relationships. NLP helps us to see clearly who we are, where we want to go and how we might get there.

So, when should you take charge of your own personal development?

  •  When you are at a point in your life or in your career, that you have decided that you want to be happy, confident and successful.
  •  When you are ready to decide where you want to be.
  •  When you are ready to look closely at where you are now.

You answer those three questions and we can help you answer the next one, which is: What personal development do I need to get there?

Our NLP Business Practioner courses have helped hundreds of individuals achieve personal and professional goals.

We can help you take charge of your life. Let’s do that now.

Phone 01872555939 or email martin@evolution-development.com

Be Careful What You wish For. . .

Be Careful what you Wish for – The Class of 53 story:

The story, as told by lots of consultants and coaches (and it appears in a huge number of books) , goes like this: In 1953, researchers surveyed Yale’s graduating seniors to determine how many of them had specific, written goals for their future. The answer: 3%. Twenty years later, researchers polled the surviving members of the Class of 1953 — and found that the 3% with goals had accumulated more personal financial wealth and success than the other 97% of the class combined!

The problem is – it never actually happened.  According to consultants debunking website www.fastcompany.com there is no evidence from the university or the class of ‘53 to support the story.  No one was involved in any research study looking at goal setting at any point.

But goal setting IS important.  By setting a goal, you are programming your brain to filter information you take in to help you notice things, people and opportunities  that will help you achieve the goal.

An example of this filtering is what I call ‘New Car Syndrome’.  Have you ever bought a car and suddenly seen lots of cars the same as yours?  This isn’t a conspiracy, the owners haven’t colluded and all gone out and bought the same car as you, they have always been there, you are just noticing them because you have decided at some level that the car is important to you.

You may call this a coincidence – but there’s no such thing as coincidence.

I introduce Well Formed Outcomes on my NLP Business Practitioner course with the caveat that, once you use this process – if it feels right at the end, you WILL achieve your goal, so be careful what you wish for and what goals you set for yourself.

Seven years ago I set myself a goal using this process.  In five years time, I was going to sing and play guitar in front of an audience at the St Agnes Hotel, in the village where I live.

The problem was – I couldn’t sing and I didn’t know how to play guitar.

I started guitar lessons and progressed well, until I realised that although I had a really good sense of rhythm, I was never going to be a fantastic, finger picking Bluegrass guitarist, or a string bending rock lead guitarist.  So I started playing Bass guitar.  The problem with the Bass is that it isn’t really a solo instrument.

I met up with a friend who I’d known for ages but didn’t know he was a drummer and we chatted and decided to get together and jam occasionally.

At my 50th birthday party we were talking to another couple of friends who, it turned out were guitar players and could sing.  We decided at that point that we would learn some songs, get together and mess about – just for the fun of it, no gigs, just for fun.

At our first jam, we finished our first song, looked at each other and said “when’s the first gig then?”

This was the 29th November 2011.  We played our first gig on New Year’s Eve, our first pub gig in the Driftwood Spars in January 2012 and have gone from strength to strength.

the first gig - January 2012
the first gig – January 2012

We played our first Gig in the St Agnes Hotel five years after I set my goal, and although I wasn’t singing – I was playing in front of an audience.

St Agnes Hotel first gig
St Agnes Hotel first gig

Since then, we have lost one member, changed our name,  supported one of my early heroes Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel and have just recorded our first album.

Supporting Steve Harley
Supporting Steve Harley

I had a well formed outcome which may not have come true exactly as I planned it, but it has worked wonderfully for me and I’ve achieved the right outcome.

If you’d like to try well formed outcomes for yourself, and achieve some amazing goals, try our free software – or if you’d like to understand more about how NLP can help you visit NLP

 

What Colour is Your Black Belt?

By Carl Fitzsimons.

Carl is HR Director: UK, Ireland & Netherlands at John West Foods.

Carl Fitzsimons

 

Carl sent me this piece he wrote recently and I wanted to share it with you – he kindly gave me permission to do so.

What colour is your black belt?

A strange question? Perhaps.

For some five years now I have been taking my children week in week out to learn Shotokan Karate. They have learned well, as all children do of course, given the right environment.

As an encouraging [my kids might even venture ‘pushy’]  father on the sidelines, I spent the first few years sitting watching, offering unwanted advice [clearly an expert critic from the chair] and I enjoyed how expertly our 7th Dan Sensei Keith Callaghan, and his team built their confidence and discipline in this martial art.

From my comfy seat I watched my children learn the basic sequence drills (Kata), take part in safe sparring (Kumite) and then perform well at various team and individual competitions… and in turn develop their skills to move through the various coloured belts on their hopeful quest for their own black belt, one day.

As I was sat watching my children for 2-3  hours each week taking part in a highly engaging and challenging activity which was doing wonders for their fitness, my time on the sidelines allowed me the opportunity to make 3 interesting observations, endure 3 uncomfortable thoughts,  find  2  key Learning Points and ultimately enjoy 1 moment of inspiration :

Observation #1 :

I was actually spending the same amount of time each week as my children at the Karate Dojo (Classroom) but whilst they were getting fitter, taking part and enjoying learning a new sport, I was becoming an armchair critic. Why wasn’t I joining in too?

I knew the answer:

Uncomfortable thought #1: I was fearful. Not, as you might think fearful of the potential of physical harm in a martial art –  the club is very well run, with good ‘spirit’ and clear guidelines on personal safety etc.    –  the fear of the physical side really didn’t enter my head. No, my fear was more profound than that,  I was fearful that I just wouldn’t be very good.

Uncomfortable thought #2 :- If I joined in I would be the most junior student here, at 40 years of age – I would be outranked by 5 year olds…I would be stood with the youngest children at the end of the line (in the Dojo the belts stand in rank). I may even have to be taught by my children at some point. Wow, this really didn’t appeal.

Uncomfortable thought #3

If I failed – I would have to return red faced to the sides again to take up my position as “watcher”,  how would I look to the other parents, the club officials, most importantly my family…the guy who just couldn’t hack it …How could I or anyone face this ?

My Ego was shouting very loudly “THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA CARL, LET IT GO. BE VERY CAREFUL HERE – YOU COULD BREAK US”

 

These thoughts sat with me for a while, weeks in fact and they burrowed away. Here I was a reasonably successful person with a lovely family, worried about failing at something that no-one in the world actually expected of me. The only person judging me here was me…annoyingly for me I was a tough judge.

My Learning Point #1  :

“The fear of failure is not simply an immobilizer – it doesn’t just stop you – it actively holds you down.”

So, here I was annoyed at myself for failing at not starting something. How bizarre.

As a relatively tolerant person – someone who often has to defuse tensions between others (I work in HR after all!)  I realized I had to do something – even if the rising tensions suggested the fight coming was only with myself. I really didn’t like this feeling of letting myself down. I had to do something.

So I devised a simple plan – I would be able to talk myself either into or out of the decision – by finding out more about the topic.  An interesting tactic here – If in doubt – delay – use the opportunity to find out more…but nevertheless, the feeling of unease lessened, I was doing something.

I started reading around the topic of Karate, its history, its meaning, its techniques, its systems. It was a hugely fascinating read by the way, one I would recommend, but that’s for another time.

Observation #2 :

During this period of research – I also noticed something quite interesting at the time of the various classes and gradings my children were attending. The hugely positive effect that gaining and holding the next coloured belts had on the confidence levels of all of the students

I learned that the Coloured belts system in Karate is actually a relatively modern day invention dating from the early part of the last century, previous to this time, graduating martial arts students may have been presented with a certificate at best  – they would not openly wear any insignia that showed their level of competence. It simply wasn’t done.

The Belt system, even today can vary between associations, my childrens Karate club used a system which progresses through 10 levels (or Kyu’s):

White, Orange, Red, Yellow, Green, Purple, Purple & White, Brown, Brown & White and then Black.

The Sensei’s decide at what point individuals progress through his/her ranks at formal Gradings

For the uninitiated – a Grading is quite a grand affair – it’s a time when all students young and old have to formally demonstrate their new skills to their sensei, each other and their family and friends – a chance to prove they have what it takes to wear the next and higher belt. It’s a pressurized experience yes, but a supportive environment – if you are entered to grade – you have the skills, your Sensei presents you for grading when he/she knows you have the ability  – the challenge here simply is to show the world what you can do.

For my kids – I always looked forward to these events (they didn’t!)  – as it was their opportunity do justice to  the new skills they had acquired. If you fail to perform on the day, you don’t grade… a good life lesson here I thought for my children …you need to step up when it matters.

At the end of a grading the various students who achieved their standard are presented with a brand new coloured belt to signify to others their skills, the belt is so new and starched it can hardly be tied in a knot.

At each grading there are bags full of brand new belts presented to an array of smiling faces, belts of all colours including new black belts for those students attaining the first summit of achieving their Dan grade. Understandably these students usually wore the biggest smiles

Observation #3:

What struck me as really odd though – was this…despite the ready and available supply of new black belts at these Gradings – all the senior Sensei’s wore Black belts that were actually quite threadbare – the colour of black hardly recognizable, the dye worn and the once tough cotton, now soft and frayed. They looked scruffy almost.

Was this some odd cost saving measure? – were Black belts more frugal than most ?

Maybe it was a trust thing…you only get one belt – so don’t lose it, right?

If I was a Black belt – wouldn’t I want to look as smart as those newly appointed to my ranks?

Why were the senior Dan grades not proud enough to want to look their best in front of their students and the watching public?

These simple questions intrigued me.

The single answer to them all –proved to be hugely insightful, an epiphany almost – an insight into the philosophy underpinning Karate which changed my entire outlook on the sport – my personal fear of failure and in truth altered my approach to any future challenges I now take on.

Let me share what I learned.

There is a very clear reason for the condition of a Senior Sensei’s belt. It is based on traditional Japanese thinking and it goes to the very heart of learning, leadership and personal growth.

The answer is this :

The coloured belt system exists only to satisfy the ego of the Karate student. As the pupil gets stronger in the art, he/she has their ego rewarded by the ‘outward’ trophy of another coloured belt – one closer to the black belt they ultimately crave. The colored belt tells the world the student’s  level of proficiency, their skill, at best it’s a reference point for further improvement , at worst it can even serve boastful tendencies

However – when the black belt is finally achieved – the individual transitions quickly from pupil to teacher. This is an important change.

As a Sensei they are deemed to have acquired sufficient knowledge that they are now trusted to teach others. From this moment on – the Sensei’s purpose should be devoting their time and attention to build the capability of others.

And so, over time, as the Sensei ties and reties their belt to teach, the colour and texture of their shiny black belt begins to fade and wear…until eventually, over many hours and years of teaching their black belt loses its colour and slowly returns  to the colour white.

For the Sensei this is a good thing as a threadbare white belt serves as a symbol, a constant reminder, that he/she was only ever a white belt all along.

An honourable and experienced Sensei needs no further trophy to acknowledge their progress. Ego no longer is a driving force for the individual; they have no truck with it. Energy must now be invested in others.

Becoming a successful Black belt is actually an object lesson in humility.

 My Learning Point  #2

How often do we as Leaders in our various worlds, stop to reflect that as we get closer to the pinnacle of our profession, our industry, that our single greatest challenge is actually to adopt humility? Our focus should move from achieving our own ambition to helping others achieve theirs.

The humbleness required for a leader to become a “capability builder” in others, before they have reached their own personal career goal – is quite a remarkable challenge. But the rewards, for all here, are immense.

In fact, in Karate, humbleness does still lead to recognition, its just that it’s seen as a by-product rather than a fixated goal or promise. The highest Dan Grade in the sport ( 7th to 10th Dan) are actually honourary leadership grades achieved not through an individual’s self-promotion or technical capability but rather through the ambition others hold for them. The energy of the senior ranks the Sensei has humbly trained around them becomes quite considerable and it is this group that then publically pushes to formally recognize and acknowledge the individuals service to the highest accolade in the sport.

So how do you make a start on becoming a humble great leader?. I humbly offer that maybe the first step to becoming a great leader is to recognize that we never have the right to think of ourselves as one.

If you are a leader worthy of note, others will decide this for you, in time.  In short, our ego has no role to play in this debate.

Challenge yourself to remove your reliance on your ego. Sure, it has comforted & supported you so far, but the final steps on the journey must be made alone. Remove this reliance and anything is possible.

My Epilogue (and inspiration):

So here I sat…watching my family in the Karate class with the personal insight that the very thing that was holding me back, my ego, was the very thing this martial art sort to remove.

“THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA CARL, LET IT GO. BE VERY CAREFUL HERE – YOU COULD BREAK US”

We needed to be broken.

Next class I lined up, at the far left end of the line, with a 5 year old red belt to my right, who slowly looked me up and down from head to toe and then told me “you look funny, and you’re too big and old to be stood here”.

 

My ego’s first test.  I bit my lip, smiled and suppressed the urge to walk.  I persevered.

2 years on…my Children have both achieved their shiny Black Belts and are comfortably making the transition into teachers. My teachers. There is plenty of time for their colour to fade.

Me? I am immensely proud of their journey and I am enjoying my own. I have stuck it out, I was poor at the start and then I got better, slowly, week by week. Not great, but better. I get better each class.

I now stand in the middle of the lineup, proudly at 4th Kyu (Purple & White belt)…I enjoy the training, I even enjoy looking foolish occasionally as I turn one way, at the wrong time, only to find the rest of the class all facing me and smiling at my error.

I have even managed to win a shiny medal or two at the odd tournament (ego still being nourished a little we note!)…but more importantly I am just enjoying the ride, learning to learn again. I have learned to be taught with and by many different people, often with my own children being my toughest and most critical of teachers.

At work – well, I now actively try to promote and push others in my team, my peers and business to develop, to trust their inner voice to take a risk and do something new. Their progress can be startling at times, even humbling.

As a senior leader in my business my “Black belt” is still quite new, but hopefully the fading process is starting.

Carl Fitzsimons FCIPD

HR Director of John West,

Autumnal blues

tn_IMG_8097This week has been characterised by grey skies, chilly evenings and rain here in Cornwall and these autumnal blues mean my social media networks have been populated by misery laden updates mourning the end of summer and the rapid onset of winter.

In reality we are barely at the beginning of autumn and there is still the potential for some sunshine before the clocks change and the nights really start to draw in.  So this is probably a good time to take stock of our emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Psychologically, autumn is a time when people start to withdraw and become less sociable and more inward looking.  In evolutionary terms this is an entirely understandable phenomenon; if we look at the agricultural model summer was a social time when the big jobs, like harvesting, were shared amongst large groups of people.  Produce was taken to markets in the larger towns and farmers took the opportunity to catch up on gossip, meet friends and generally let their hair down.  As autumn progressed the working days became shorter, crops were sparser and people didn’t linger in the fields but hurried home for warmth and safety.  Livestock was brought inside as there was no grass to graze and travel along muddy, rutted lanes became impossible.  There was little option to do anything other than retreat from the world.

Despite the fact that most of our lives are no longer governed by the availability of natural light or the agricultural calendar, we still have this innate tendency to retreat.  This can have a profound effect on people and, left unchecked, this inward focus can lead to a depressed mood and a “can’t do” frame of mind.  We are not talking about clinical depression here or even SADS, just the kind of low mood which affects us all from time to time and can have a negative effect on our motivation our social lives and our work.

However, a negative outcome is far from inevitable and there is much which can be done to counteract the effects of the autumnal blues.

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Personal

At a personal level there are a number of things that you can do to keep the blues at bay:

  • Spend as much time outside as you can; windy walks can be incredibly invigorating and you are still exposing yourself to natural daylight.
  • Notice and appreciate the beauty in the changing landscape; autumn leaves, dramatic skies, reflections on wet pavements etc.
  • Eat brightly coloured fruit and vegetables so that food looks appetising and cheerful as well as tasting good.  Add a bit of spice – chilli is known to raise your mood.
  • Get some exercise – you might not want to go for a run in the rain but why not go to the local pool for a swim?
  • Be sociable; arrange to meet regularly with family and friends and take part in activities which use energy and make you laugh – bowling, a walk in the forest kicking up leaves or, if you really don’t want to go out, play active computer games like Wii sports.
  • Enjoy the quiet time that dark evenings allow you; light a fire, read a book, watch a great film that makes you feel good.
  • Create a mindset that says “autumn is a good time for me” and list all the reasons why.
  • Be creative; use the evenings or wet weekends to make something – take up painting or sewing, carpentry or knitting.  If you don’t know how – attend an evening class.

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Business

If you run a business which employs people then you have a vested interest in helping to raise mood and avoid a mass slide into the autumn blues.  Think about the changing seasons as just one more element of change that you need to manage.  Consider the following:

  • The working environment:  Maximise natural light; keep blinds up and consider the use of daylight bulbs if you don’t have many windows.  Keep rooms warm but well ventilated – being cold or too hot and stuffy is not likely to lead to an improvement in mood.  Introduce some bright colours by hanging pictures/posters, introducing plants etc.
  • Working Hours:  Just as farmers didn’t want to linger in the fields in the autumn, your employees don’t want to stay too late in the office; encourage people to manage their hours properly.  Make sure people take regular breaks away from their desks – preferably outside.
  • Increase social interaction:  Hold regular team meetings, make them focussed and productive and use the opportunity to let people know how much you value them.  Encourage lots of work-based interaction – set team objectives, organise collaborative projects (internally and with other businesses).
  • Lead by example; be cheerful, smile at people and say hello every morning, be positive in your communication – you set the tone.
  • Have fun; make your business an enjoyable place to work.  If you don’t know how to do that ask your staff for their ideas.
  • Engage with your community; this will help your employees to be more outward looking and to feel better about themselves and it will also increase your standing locally.
  • Think about your customers; it’s autumn for them too.  Engage with them, use your social media platforms and face to face encounters to raise their spirits and put a positive spin on the weather.  You don’t have to sell wellies to embrace the rain.

If you take care of yourself now and maintain a positive outlook then you and your business will be in great shape when winter really kicks in.

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New Funding Available For Personal Development

By Martin Crump.

Martin is a Director and co-founder of Evolution.  He is a certified NLP Master Trainer with a wealth of experience of working with organisations of all sizes and types across the UK.

 

 

The new Leadership & Management Advisory Service aimed at supporting the senior leaders of businesses with the potential for high or fast growth is launched on 1st April 2011.

Through the Service, owner managers and senior leaders of businesses and social enterprises with plans and potential to achieve high growth have a great opportunity to develop their leadership and management skills.

Up to £1,000 in grant funding is available to help pay for the individuals’ development – this grant will pay for 50% of the fees excluding VAT up to the maximum amount of £1,000.

For further information read the flyer below

LMAS Funding Flyer

This means you could learn skills to dramatically improve your performance at work.

To learn how NLP can help improve your performance visit the NLP AT Work conference in September 2011

conference details

 

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