Word Cloud of this blog entry generated using Tagcloud.com
Sometimes, you can’t find the right visual to use during your presentation.
Why not try a “word cloud” – a visual representation for key words used on a website, in a speech, or other intact use of language. Most of us are used to seeing word clouds on a website, and they make a fabulous fall back when you just can’t find the right picture. OR, you are introducing a specific group of terms, ideas or concepts to the audience.
According to Wikipedia (the font of all knowledge!), a word cloud typically consists of single words, normally listed alphabetically, and the importance of each tag is shown with font size or color. This format is useful for quickly perceiving the most prominent terms and for locating a term alphabetically to determine its relative prominence.
There are several word cloud generators on the web, and each one is just a little bit different. Most are easy to use, free and may require a username and password. Check out Wordle, TagCrowd, Taxedo, Word It Out or ABCya. You might also be interested in Techmynd which quickly scrambles words.
And yet Jerry, the main performer was singing to the rafters. In a full theatre, singing to the “cheap seats” is a great strategy. It makes the entire room feel included. However, with such a small group, he never connected eyeball-to-eyeball with the audience. We were sitting in the third row (GREAT seats!) and he never looked in our direction. Not once.
People like to feel included and the best way to do that is to look at them. I’m not talking about staring. Just look at someone for a second or two, and then go find another friend in the audience and connect with them. Make sure you cover all the major quandrants of the room – in no particular order – and just have a conversation with your eyes!
The premise goes something like this: In order to innovate, you must first “copy”. I don’t like “copy” as a stand alone word, but it really means to “become fluent in the language of our domain – and we do that through emulation.” In the copy phase, you spend hours mastering the basic principles of your craft – typically by “copying” others to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding. Then once you have solid grounding in the fundamentals, creativity kicks in. You can create variations – which Kirby calls “transformational.”
So where does the notion of “copying” fit in with professional speaking? I have been noodling about this for the last few days.
As a professional speaker and as President of the National Speakers Association (NSA), we really discourage others from “copying” stories, speech patterns, brands, ideas, etc. And yes, it does happen. According to the filmmaker, Kirby Ferguson, I guess it HAS to happen. Neophytes will unintentionally copy (literally) someone else’s speech. At the Global Speakers Summit in Holland this year, I cringed in my seat when one of the mainstage speakers started channeling Dr. Wayne Dyer – without attribution!
But a PROFESSIONAL speaker is NOT a neophyte nor a book reporter. A professional speaker has already gone through the painstaking process of “copying” the fundamentals of their topic and techniques – reading, discussing, speaking, testing the theories, principles, methodologies, mechanics and such. When your ideas become transformational and unique to you – that’s when you should you move into the professional speaker space.
But if I think about it, most professional speakers had to start somewhere. Where “copying” was encouraged, tutored, mentored and even taught – in an ethical way. I caught the speaking bug when I was certified by Franklin Quest (before it merged with Covey to become Franklin Covey) to teach a FABULOUS time management course. I was licensed to copy. I was then certified to teach Total Quality Management (TQM) Principles and Tools by Organizational Dynamics, Inc. (ODI) – which gave me even more confidence.
And then I fell into the rabbit hole. I had been asked to facilitate a process improvement team, putting the TQM principles into practice – and I made every mistake in the book! Vowing never to let that happen to me again, I read everything I could about team/meeting facilitation. And I mean everything. Good news is that this is back in 1990, and there really wasn’t that much on “facilitation” as it was a new field!
Transformation comes from a mix of fundamentals matched with a desperate need. And so I invented a Team Facilitation Skills workshop – it is uniquely my own and has evolved over time. It still serves as the basis of my facilitation training and practice. Where appropriate, I still attribute the original thoughts to the masters who have gone before me, and I have brought new insights into the mix.
Theoretically, at this point, my work is ripe for a “breakthrough” – a combination of diverse ideas. And so I spend my weekends reading and researching other ideas. You just never know when creativity and breakthroughs will occur!
But then comes the slammer. I don’t want to be spoiler, but the interesting thing about invention is that several people might be heading toward the same path you are on.
So where are you on your presentation journey? A neophyte working at mastering the fundamentals and finding your own voice? A transformer where you have created original material or a breakthrough artist? I’m reaching for the breakthroughs – where presentations are more of a conversation with the audience. What about you?