Managing Flow Part II: Scalability

Last week, I introduced the concept of eliciting to gauge your audience’s level of flow.  Another key component in managing flow is scalability.

Scalability means adapting to increased demands.  As presenters and teachers, we must design our presentations to adapt to our audiences’ increasing demands for the right level of challenge in our seminars and classes. Continue reading

Managing Flow Part I: Eliciting

Last week, I introduced the concept of keeping your audience in a state of flow by actively managing the difficulty of your seminars and classes.

Designing your presentation with your audience’s skill level in mind is a given.  Problems arise, however, when you can’t get accurate information regarding your audience or you simply misjudge the difficulty of your own material.

We all know the situation:  you start presenting and quickly realize that your material is too easy, and your audience’s attention is evaporating.  Or, on the other hand, it’s too difficult and the audience is filled with blank stares.  The worst thing to do is to plow on through your material, ignoring these cues.  Eliciting is the first step in resolving (or, better yet, preventing) this problem. Continue reading

An Introduction to Flow

A while back, while reading an article about game design, I stumbled across the concept of “flow.” Flow is an optimal state of motivation. We’ve all experienced it before: that page-turner that you couldn’t put down or the project you worked on for hours straight, forgetting about basic needs like eating and drinking. Continue reading

Wear Your Passions on Your Sleeve

So, you’ve been doing presentations over, and over, and over again, but you are still struggling to be comfortable in the public eye. Well, here’s another tip: talk about what you love.

If you have a choice of what to present or teach, make sure that you select something that you are passionate about—something you know and love. Doing so can turn an arduous presentation into a chance to evangelize something you believe in. Talking about something you love minimizes any rote memorization and eliminates nerve-racking uncertainty. Additionally, handling questions and answers should come as naturally as having a fireside chat with your audience. Continue reading

Avoid Assumptions About Your Audience

One of my first clients as a business English instructor used to be a constant source of anxiety. Although they seemed to enjoy their class and were fun to teach, they didn’t seem to take it very seriously. Their attendance was sporadic and their homework performance was no different. Upon hearing that I would have to have a meeting with the company president (and that he would sample my class), I feared my teaching days were going to come to an abrupt end. With the students behaving as they were, naturally, their English was not improving very quickly. I was positive the president wouldn’t be satisfied with their progress (and therefore my performance). Continue reading

“Why Should I Attend Your Presentation?”

As you prepare for your next class or presentation, imagine your audience asking the aforementioned question. If you can’t answer this, you are wasting your audience’s time (and they’ll be sure to remind you of that with their feedback).

Think carefully about how you can add value to your performance. If you are teaching a language, make sure that you are constantly providing phrases, expressions, and grammar that aren’t included in the lesson materials (provide content with full-sentence examples for extra utility). If you are giving a seminar or presentation, make your presentation interactive (if possible), so that the audience can experience what they are learning. Continue reading