This famous quote from Rudyard Kipling’s “If…” poses the question so many of us face on a daily basis in our work lives but also at home as the stresses and strains of domestic life pull us and push us sometimes to breaking point.
How do some people seem to remain calm so much of the time?
Some people look forward to them as a welcome relief from having to hold court alone and have the chance to enter into a more natural dialogue with their audience. For others there is a very real fear that questioners may be challenging or even hostile or, quite simply, leave the speaker completely at sea as to how to respond.
As trainers we spend our days handling questions and challenges. If we dreaded them we couldn’t possibly offer the high level of interactivity that we do, and all discussions would be fraught with tension. The stress level would be ghastly.
Questions are Vital
But questions are vital to the way we work. They mean people are awake (which is always a good sign) and engaged.
So we actively encourage questions and apart from a few sticky moments here or there where we have to get creative, on the whole, we enjoy sharing ideas and exploring different ways of looking at the world.
Our mission is to help people feel so good about asking questions that they all ask even more!
A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end – but not necessarily in that order.
So says Jean-Luc Godard. And he’s good at telling stories.
In the many Presentation Skills courses that we have run over the years I have met some great people with huge knowledge and enthusiasm for their work.
There are other equally interesting people who come with a doom laden sense that their subject is very dry and boring to any sentient being. Of course if they believe that to be the case then they will undoubtedly be proved right by the audience reaction.
So time and time again I find myself asking:
What’s the point?
For anyone about to make a presentation or a pitch this is the single most important question you must ask yourself before you begin. If you don’t know the answer then to be honest I wouldn’t bother to go ahead.