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Legally Speaking

One of the benefits of Idea Mapping and Mind Mapping that initially attracted me almost 20 years ago was its ability to simplify complicated issues. I’ve just started a new Idea Map that I cannot share with you because it’s of a legal document. Short of the story line for “Lost,” there aren’t too many things more complicated than a legal document! I sometimes wonder if legal documents’ complexities are just to inflate lawyers’ fees!

I’ve started mapping a legal document just to help me understand all of the details that are obfuscated by all of the legal jargon. While this won’t help me understand the legal field any better, it does help me comprehend what the document is really saying. If you’ve got a document/paper/article that’s difficult to “digest,” you may find that an Idea Map breaks it down into more manageable, bite-size pieces.

SMEs as Trainers/Instructors

Given the current economy, many organizations are eliminating professional trainers from their salary rolls. While I understand the decision (not agree with, but understand), I worry about it. Too many SMEs are unskilled as presenters and facilitators at best, or unwilling participants at worst!

Man hidingThey’ve become SMEs by focusing on their chosen fields and not on the fine art of message delivery. When it comes time to present their content, they rely on what has gotten them where they are; their technical skills. At times they can even hide behind their erudition which further disconnects them from the audience they should be concerned about.

Unfortunately, the people who pay for this decision are the employees who need the training to do their jobs well. Good training content poorly delivered is no better than poor content well delivered.  It ends up being another example of organizations looking only at the “cost” side of cost/benefit and not enough time looking at the “benefit” side.

Top 7 Reasons to Idea Map

If you’re looking for a good reason to start (or continue Idea Mapping), here are 7 of them (top ten is too passé):

7. People will now wonder what you’re doing during business meetings instead of wondering why you’re sleeping

6. Drawing pictures can be considered a part of your note-taking and not just idle doodling

5. You’ll be seen as “creative” because … you use more than one color!

4. You can flatter your boss’s boss by telling her that you are using an accelerated learning/memory tool to take notes on her presentation

3. Organizing your ideas can happen in real time (sorry, nothing witty here, just fact!)

2. You can really confuse people by telling them that you’re “I.M.ing”

1. You can write off those cool colored markers as a business expense

Assuming Can Be Good

If you’ve ever done a tele-presentation (or something similar) during which technology prohibits you from getting feedback from your audience, you may have found yourself doubting your effectiveness. You may have even started feeling like the presentation is going horribly. I know that’s how I felt during my first tele-presentation!

The fact of the matter is that the presentation like this is set up to force you to make an assumption about how it’s going. You can’t get immediate feedback. Since you have to make an assumption, you might as well assume that it’s going well. When you make that assumption, you have more energy and exude more of your natural personality. You also gesture more frequently, which adds more inflection to your voice! So go ahead and make that assumption; I promise that when you “assume” you don’t always make an “ass out of u and me.”

Adding PassionTakes Practice

It’s one of my favorite times of the year – The National Football League is getting ready for it’s season. At the end of a disappointing season last year, Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips vowed that he would change his approach and be less passive. He’s apparently also trying to be more passionate. During this year’s “State of the Team” speech, Phillips said, “It’s football time” and then slapped the table twice.

While I applaud Phillips’ attempts at being more passionate, his table slapping was mis-timed and had no effect on his vocal intonation.  The effect was that he sounded artificial and insincere in his attempt to be more passionate; his gesture of table slapping was an afterthought. Many of the local sports talk show hosts here in Dallas have been poking fun at Phillips weak attempt at emphasis.

This is a good lesson for anyone who delivers presentations. If you want to be more passionate when presenting, your gestures should precede the words you want to emphasize and you should practice your delivery, instead of just winging it!