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Easy to duplicate = Easy to learn.

Easy to duplicate = Easy to learn.

There is a call I’ll occasionally get from my host or hostess just prior to my presentations which goes something like this:

“Hi Rosa, I’m doing a last minute check on the set-up requirements for your session, and I noticed that you only asked for flipcharts. I’ve added a screen etc so you can do your PowerPoint.”

“That won’t be necessary; I won’t be using PowerPoint.”

Surprised silence. Then, with some hesitation, “Oh. Um, are you sure?”

“Yes, quite sure.”

“Do you need someone to help you with it?”

“Thank you for the offer, but no, that’s not the reason. I know how to use it. I choose not to because I don’t need it. In fact, my coaching is much more effective without it.”

“Really? Well, uh… okay.”

“Listen, if it’ll make you feel better, give me the set-up hooked in with internet access, and I’ll add a couple of visuals for you.”

If they go ahead and do so, I teach them more web-savvy during the session breaks or afterwards. I show them my websites, how to use them as an on-going resource, and why they should be reading more business blogs. But PowerPoint? No.

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All the presentations I do encourage quick action and putting lessons learned into immediate practice as soon as possible. If someone gets inspired by what I’ve taught them, I want them to be able to repeat it and teach it right away; we all retain and learn better when we have to turn around and coach or mentor someone else. Thus my issue with PowerPoint is that it is not easily and immediately duplicate-able; it takes too much prep time, and too much equipment.

I love to use flipcharts, because I coach my Managing with Aloha concepts by drawing quick, bold, colorful visuals and diagrams that are very simple and uncomplicated. The leaders and managers in my classes can copy and duplicate them easily, and with the talk-story lesson which accompanies the picture. If it is in the least bit involved, I will stop, flip to a new blank sheet, and have someone come up and do it with their own embellishment and creativity right then and there.

Session over, I do assign homework, and it’s always the same:

“Before the week is over, draw up your own whiteboard or flipchart lessons about what you’ve learned today and are excited about. Duplicate it, teach it, talk about and get your team involved in personalizing and engaging with it. Put your signature on it, and make it your own.”

After a recent morning session, I walked into a deli on the first floor of my client’s office building to grab a quick bite to eat. I saw one of the managers who had been in my class drawing on a paper napkin for his assistant while they had lunch on one of the café tables there. He was recreating the flipchart I’d drawn about two hours prior on the difference between vision and mission, because the picture had made a distinction between the two memorable for him. What a rewarding moment that was for me!

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That kind of near instant gratification, where you see the impact you’ve made on someone by sharing valuable learning, doesn’t usually come with PowerPoint, no matter how slick, polished and professional it may be.

More importantly, the managers I know don’t use PowerPoint every day. They need simple, quick, and effecive tools to get their jobs done and their message across, and for them, pen and paper becomes the killer app.

You needn’t be a speaker like me, just a coach at heart. It might be in a meeting, within a project huddle, or just in a passionate conversation with your peers. Draw a picture that connects to your words. Make it easy to duplicate, and you’ll be so much closer to seeing it happen.

Related Articles:

Play to Teach and Coach: Draw it!

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Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. For more of her ideas, click to her Thursday columns in the archives, or download her manifesto: Managing with Aloha on ChangeThis.com.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: Appointment bookends: Use ‘em.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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