When writing a book, a speech, a song, or blog or any type of communication to members of the community, the presentation can make or break your message.  Picture a Lobster dinner with pasta and a lovely green vegetable.  Can you see it on the plate?  Are you starting to drool?  What happens when you take the lobster meat, the butter, the pasta and the lovely green vegetable and throw it in a blender 1st.  Is this something you want to eat?  YIKES NO!!!!  The presentation of the food is what opens up our senses of smell and sight and gets our salivary glands working and our tummies prepared for a marvelous feast.

You first have to capture the imagination.  You have to make people curious enough to take the next step…take a bite, turn the page, get out the notebooks, get out the checkbooks.  In Toastmasters master speeches, they say something loud or shocking, or present a question to the audience; then they introduce their topic with a few tantalizing statements and finally say, “Mister Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and honored guests…”  The writer has an opening line, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…”  The song writer starts with an introduction.  Even if you are writing a text book, your tester needs to be captivated on opening the book.  If you bore the teacher, the class will fall asleep.

I went to a seminar on mentorship.  What catchy opening were we, the audience, expecting?  I don’t know.  Some were expecting a story about how the speaker met his mentor.  Some were expecting a statement or a story about why mentoring is important to seek out.  Some were thinking they might get some how-to tips on how to mentor other people.  The expectations were all over the field.  We were surprised.  He opened up with his background, where he lived and where he grew up.  It didn’t serve any purpose except give us information about him that was not germane to the topic.  That lasted nearly 5 min and it was supposed to give us some insight into his background so we could connect.  At this point, some of us were not sure we wanted to connect with this guy.  He hadn’t said anything that would make us want to turn the page.

He then spent a good 10 minutes on the first section of his hand out.  He was using the 6 human needs that Tony Robbins teaches in his seminars.  He had them divided into 2 columns, and he had 1 word and its “mystery” companion on each row.  The companion word just had a first letter followed by a set of blanks and he spent a good deal of time trying to get us to guess the word he was thinking.  “Think of a word of 7 letters that starts with V and is the opposite of Certainty.”  He was in a room full of Toastmasters.  We know a plethora of ‘V’ words that could be used as opposites for Certainty.  So after a minute of so of guessing, he finally gave us the word. He then did the same thing with Connection.  The last word, Growth, he wanted a word starting with C that would enhance the meaning of the word.  He did the same exercise in the Toastmasters meeting he was invited to the next day.  One person actually guessed the V word because she was a crossword enthusiast.  He was surprised.  This tells me that NOBODY guesses the words.  What was the point of the guessing game?  Was it to improve our vocabulary?  Was it to change our perspective?  Was it to bring out a point in mentoring? It did none of those things.  In fact, 2 days later, people who’d gone to the seminar did not remember the words.

The second part of his presentation had to do with actions teams should be able to do to be successful.  The most interesting thing about one of his points, trust, was in the 5 levels of trust.  That wasn’t on his worksheet.  He then did an exercise in edification. He played the part of the intermediate manager and had a new low level manager that was just learning the ropes and had questions and the top manager who’d been in the business for a long time.  The first conversation was between him and the low level manager where he edified the top manager.  He then introduced the low level manager to the top level manager and then said, “Go.”  What is the point of introducing a low level manager to the upper level manager?

  1. It gives the low level manager the feeling of being valued
  2. It breaks down the wall between the low and high level manager so they see it’s a team effort
  3. It gives the high level manager a feeling for the newest member.

What he didn’t do is give these objectives to the upper level manager.  She didn’t know what the ultimate goal of the introduction was.

  1. You want to take in the qualities of the newest manager.
  2. You want them to go to their immediate manager instead of bypassing them to get the best information and clogging your day with things that could be handled further down the line.
  3. You want the intermediate manager to take a leading role in teaching and mentoring this new manager.

When he introduced the lower manager to the upper manager, she thought she was supposed to answer all the questions of the lower manager.  She didn’t, therefore, edify the middle manager and actually did the opposite.  The assumption of the lower manager was then that the middle manager didn’t know anything and just passed questions up to the top dog and was a middle manager because he didn’t qualify to do anything else.  Would this lower manager be more or less likely to go to the middle manager for wisdom and knowledge?  As far as the presenter was concerned, this upper level manager completely failed in the exercise.

He ran out of time on the third part of his presentation.  We never did get the connection between what he presented and mentoring.  He did not make clear the use of the worksheet in mentoring.  There were no examples or stories about how this information applied to mentoring.  Did I take notes?  Certainly.  Will I use this information?  I have to fix it first.