Category: Training

Making Training Stick

Our clients often ask if CORE’s workshops are offered in a modular format; for example, two hours every two weeks. Cited is the need to minimize time away from the job.

The answer is “Yes.”

The dilemma? Ensuring that learners learn and your organization maximizes its ROI.

Over the years we’ve learned a number of tricks (that apply to longer programs too!). Here are 5 of them:

  1. Roll out a simple communiqué to ensure that potential participants and their leaders understand the program purpose and its key deliverables, before registering.
  2. Facilitate a program overview for the participants’ leaders. Explain how to reinforce new behaviours. Give them a Coaching Tip Sheet.
  3. Ask participants to do a quick prework assignment. Some ideas: reading, assessment, or identifying real life scenarios to work on during the program. This readies the learners and maximizes team activities during the session.
  4. Assign learning buddies; someone with whom they can share key successes and challenges after the program.
  5. Ask participants to pinpoint 2-3 opportunities where they can apply what they have learned. Encourage their managers to discuss these action plans with them.

For more tips to make training stick, call us!

How to Manage Your Presentation Anxiety: Strategy #1

Any situation in which we think we are being personally evaluated can trigger anxiety and impair our ability to be successful. Examples are giving a presentation, receiving feedback and facilitating a training session.

Extensive research has been done to show the connection between the fear of being evaluated negatively and social anxiety. (More recent research shows that even the fear of positive evaluation can contribute to social anxiety.)

How can you overcome this anxiety? In this first of three blogs, we will explore some key strategies to help you achieve the outcome you want.

Strategy #1: Put the situation into perspective

Realize that what is being “evaluated” is your idea, company, products or services – not you as a person.  To take a more realistic perspective, ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that can happen?”  Chances are if you fumble your PowerPoint or the audience doesn’t agree to your request, your career will not be derailed. Your faux pas are always more apparent to you than to the participants in your presentation. And many in the audience will be naturally empathetic because they “have been there” or “will be there”.

Stay tuned for Strategy #2.

How to Manage Your Presentation Anxiety: Strategy #2

Feeling anxious about your upcoming presentation? In our last blog we explored Strategy #1: Put the situation into perspective. Here is a second strategy for calming those butterflies.

Strategy #2: Reframe those negative self-statements.

Negative self-statements are thoughts and feelings such as:

“I’ll never get them to agree.”
“My boss knows more about this than I do.”
“I’m not going to be able to handle their objections.”

Negative self-statements fuel anxiety and undermine your ability to convey your expertise and confidence. In reality, most audience members come to presentations with a neutral attitude, not planning to throw you under the bus. If you’re lucky you may even have some participants that are in your corner.

Research shows that people who make positive self-statements increase their likelihood of success.

Turn your negative self-statements into positive ones, such as:

“I’ve done my homework on this topic, I’m well-prepared… they have to say yes.”
“I’m excited, not nervous.”
”I’m looking forward to handling their tough questions.”

What negative thoughts are you having? What emotions are associated with them? What positive self-statements can you make to replace your negative self-talk?

Stay tuned for Strategy #3.

How to Manage Your Presentation Anxiety: Strategy #3

Have you had an opportunity to test out our previous two strategies? In this, our third blog on managing presentation anxiety, we explore another issue that often derails presenters.

In past presentations have you ever felt like the proverbial turtle, withdrawing into yourself? You’ve become acutely aware of your breathing, tone of voice and thoughts. Some self-monitoring is positive; it helps you evaluate your audience’s reactions so you can tweak your approach. When self-monitoring becomes excessive it can disengage your audience and fuel your anxiety even more.

Strategy #3: Stop Excessive Self-Monitoring

To ensure you don’t disconnect from your audience:

  • Be present, focus on what is happening in the moment.
  • Vary your eye contact among your audience members.
  • Observe their facial expressions and body language to gauge their responses.
  • Ask questions to engage them: “What is your reaction to this idea?”, “How do feel this will help you?” “What questions do you have?”
  • Use pauses to build excitement and enhance your humour; watch their reactions
  • Remind yourself that this is their meeting and you are privileged to be the centre of attention.

CORE offers presentation skills coaching in both English and French for individual and team presenters and conference moderators. If this is of interest, please call or email us for details.

Yes, Build on Your Strengths BUT….

In hundreds of workshops and coaching conversations, leaders have heard me say:

“You’ll be more successful and satisfied if you build on your strengths — rather than turning yourself inside out to develop a skill in which you have neither aptitude nor interest.”

Validated by many scientists and management gurus, this is the key message in  the runaway bestseller StrengthsFinder by Tom Rath, designed to help people identify their top five “talents”. Its companion assessment and personal report are very compelling. I found my own results very accurate — although admittedly  I relished the absence of criticism!

BUT (as much as I abhor that word…)

Some individuals have morphed this concept into believing that all they need to do to be successful is find a career or role that plays to their strengths and ignore their weaknesses. Wrong!

Revealed in the 360° results of leaders I’ve recently coached, they’ve had weaknesses such as:

  • Lack of self-awareness: doesn’t know himself/herself well, e.g. impact on others
  • Poor command skills: reluctance to take charge when the going gets tough
  • Coaching direct reports: doesn’t push people to grow, learn and develop
  • Interpersonal skills: poor relationship-building and conflict management skills
  • Presentation skills: lack of audience analysis and ability to manage anxiety

What did the 360° respondents have to say about the impact of these development needs?

They described these weaknesses as career stallers and obstacles to their career progression.

So when I advise my clients to build on strengths I always follow up with this statement:

  • Make sure you know yourself: your weaknesses and your blind spots
  • Determine if these are impacting your current results
  • Validate your perceptions with others whose opinion you value
  • Take action where your weaknesses are negatively impacting your performance/career progression
  • Armed with this knowledge, evaluate future opportunities and roles: What areas play to your strengths? What areas could be a liability? What can you do to mitigate the impact? In what context can you be most successful?

CORE offers customized 360° surveys and individual coaching by highly experienced, ICF-certified coaches. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

5 Reasons Why Meetings Fail

How much time will you spend in meetings this year? Research shows that leaders spend an average of 80% of their work hours in meetings. And most complain that they are time sucks. Why?

5 Reasons Why Meetings Fail and 5 Tips to Make Them More Productive

  1. No clear meeting purpose. Is your goal to share information, solve a problem or make a decision? In your invite, make the why clear and recap it at the meeting kickoff.
  2. Wrong participants. Once you’ve determined the purpose of the meeting, decide who really needs to be there. How many can be eliminated by sharing the summary afterwards?
  3. No agenda. If you are responsible for leading the meeting, determine in advance the structure you need to achieve the meeting objective. Failure to do this is guaranteed to result in socializing, discussions off topic and missed input from key individuals.
  4. Lack of action planning. Summarize decisions, actions, etc. before transitioning to the next agenda item. Recap and capture next steps at the end of the meeting. Email this summary to all participants and others as appropriate.
  5. Dysfunctional participant behaviour. George dominates the discussion, Mary gets off on a tangent and Ahmed keeps repeating the same points.  Take charge of these derailers. (More in my next blog….)

As well as these tips, do a quick evaluation of your meeting effectiveness at the end of each meeting. Ask participants: “What did you like about this meeting?” “What can we do to make these meetings better?” If you would like the tool that our clients have used successfully, let me know.

If you are keen to learn more about CORE’s services, we would love to have a conversation.

Take Charge of Dysfunctional Meeting Behaviour: “The Talkers”

How many times have you left a meeting and overheard the participants say: “That was a great meeting! We got a lot done.” Rarely would be the honest answer.

My experience as both a facilitator and a coach indicates that many meetings get ambushed because most leaders have difficulty taking charge of dysfunctional meeting behaviour, especially The Talkers.

We’ve all met “George”.  He dominates discussions, raises off-topic issues, interrupts and doesn’t listen to others. His behaviour frustrates the group and shuts down participation.

Here are 5 techniques to help you effectively manage The Talkers.

5 Techniques for Managing “The Talkers”

  1. Ask George: “How does this relate to the topic we are discussing?”
  2. Use a parking lot to record unrelated issues. Then come back to them at the end of the meeting.
  3. Avoid making eye contact with George. If he persists in talking, slightly raise your right hand in his direction.
  4. Acknowledge his opinion; then ask others to contribute. “Thanks, George for sharing your perspective. Deborah, what thoughts do you have about this issue?”
  5. Speak to him privately during a break. Ask him to actively listen to others’ opinions. Offer to have an offline discussion following the meeting.

As a leader your ability to facilitate your team’s progress in solving problems and making decisions will contribute to your leadership effectiveness.

For more presentation and training strategies, please reach out to us at CORE.

Take Charge of Dysfunctional Meeting Behaviour: “The Critics”

Who else besides The Talkers has the potential to derail your meetings? The Critics.

Daniela is a critic. She constantly challenges others and makes derogatory comments. Her body language conveys hostility.

How can you handle Daniela both respectfully and effectively? Tempting as it is to argue with her, she likely will become even more contentious.

Here are 5 techniques to handle the Critics’ behaviour:

  1. Acknowledge her position. “Daniela, it seems that you have a different perspective.”
  2. Ask her to elaborate. “Can you tell us why you feel so strongly?” This will help clarify her opinion and reveal her agenda.
  3. Summarize and confirm your understanding of her view. “What I hear you saying is that you feel we should …. is that correct?” Ask the other meeting participants: “Does this resonate with anyone else?”
  4. Transition to the next agenda item if the other meeting participants disagree with her input.  “Thanks, Daniela. I think we now understand why you are opposed. I’m happy to take this offline if you would like to discuss it further. Let’s now move to the next topic…”
  5. Ask questions and reinforce comments that are on target with your agenda.

If you are faced with challenging meeting behaviours and would like some on-one-one coaching, please contact us at CORE.

Assess Your Presentation Skills

Do you want learn how to deliver a dynamic, impactful presentation to any audience – from your senior leadership team to external customers? What are your strengths as a presenter? What skills do you need to improve?

Although feedback from others is invaluable, start by completing a quick, candid assessment.

For each statement below, jot down the number (3, 2 or 1) that corresponds with how frequently you demonstrate this behaviour.

3 = Usually  2 = Sometimes   1 = Almost Never

  1. Before I start developing a presentation, I do an audience analysis.
  2. I structure the presentation to address the audience’s key needs.
  3. I feel relaxed and confident when I am giving a presentation.
  4. I feel comfortable when an audience member interrupts me.
  5. If someone asks a difficult question, I handle it skillfully.
  6. At the beginning and the end of the presentation I describe the “call to action”.
  7. I am often complimented on the quality and impact of my presentations.
  8. After the presentation, I feel that I did a really good job.

Then total your score.

21-24: Congratulations! You have mastered the key skills to achieve your presentation goals.

15-20: Room for improvement. Pinpoint your specific needs and consider hiring a coach.

8-14: Oops! If you regularly give presentations, there are lots of tools to help you that will fit your learning style and budget. If you would like to discuss these options, please call us.

Thanks for your continued support!

What I learned from a horse and a neurosurgeon

On a ranch in stunning Tucson, Arizona, I recently experienced an amazing “equine inspiration” with the Harvard-trained neurosurgeon Dr. Allan Hamilton. Dr. Hamilton wrote the award-winning book Zen Mind, Zen Horse and is cited for his ground-breaking work in using horses to train surgeons.

Dr. Hamilton explained that horses are hyper-aware of our emotional state and react to what’s in our hearts and not our heads. He encouraged me to engage my right brain’s intuitive function, while silencing the dominant left hemisphere’s analytical inner voice. He assured me that this would give me a unique opportunity to feel my emotions mirrored back.

Hoping her name wasn’t a reflection of her spirit, I selected Pepper. With Dr. Hamilton’s coaching, I learned:

  1. How my initial trepidation prevented Pepper from cooperating with me, which was apparent from her flaring nostrils and shaking head
  2. How to connect with Pepper through eye contact, posture and movement
  3. The power of patience, especially when you are limited to non-verbal communication
  4. The importance of alignment between telling, body posture and visual aids (in this case, a lead rope and a whip)

Working to quiet my analytical brain and harness my intuition, I began grooming Pepper. I directed her to back up, move forward, turn right and finally led her in a fast-paced, thundering gallop around the paddock. I was thrilled with my success with this majestic creature.

What does this have to do with leadership? When we:

  • adjust our limiting behaviours
  • attend to the subtleties in interpersonal communication
  • demonstrate patience in leading others

we become more connected to others and more effective as leaders.

For more information about CORE’s services in helping clients build leadership capability, contact Joan Hill directly at: or
(905) 990-2515