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Presentation Genius is here (more or less!)

IMG_1037Well, I’ve got my copy! ;)

I must admit I’m remarkably proud of it… even just flipping through it again I found there was stuff in their I’d forgotten I’d included but smiled about ‘cos it’s handy stuff.

It’s available from July 30th, 2015 and I really, really hope it’s useful to you. (I also hope I sell a million copies and get rich, but that’s less likely! :) )

There’s a whole brand new, shiny website dedicated just to Presentation Genius (where I’m posting bigger, longer and more heavyweight blog articles than I do here, but less frequently) so it’d be great if you popped over and had a look.

If you sign up to the mailing list their you’ll be kept up to date with Presentation Genius offers, courses and offers. Obviously there’s not going to be any spammy passing on or abusing your email address (that goes without saying, right?) and there aren’t many messages, so you’re not exactly going to be over-run with a flooded inbox – don’t worry! :)

If you want to get yourself a copy, you can drop me a line and get it from Amazon. Feel free to get it directly from the Amazon site, but it would be great if you went to Amazon via the link here: Why?  Because I get 6% of the cover price if you do (and there’s no catch for you, so live a little!) :)

All the best


Preparing for an interview – getting your evidence in order

We’re often (and recently) asked how to prepare for interviews. Obviously the main interest from our clients is how to make the best presentation possible but there are a lot of other things to take care of, too. How you can use your evidence/experience to it’s best advantage is one of the most common ones – particularly when it comes to being ready for questions. We’ve developed a simple (but fairly messy!) process. It breaks down what you need to do into various simple, individual steps.

Step one

Write a list of all the things you need to illustrate in your interview, one above the other, in big writing – we recommend one or two items only on each sheet of A4 and arrange them on the floor, in order of importance. The most important things right at the top, with the ‘should also have’ things in the middle and the ‘nice to have’ things at the bottom. It’s probably a good idea to have a break here, so that you’re not influenced by writing this list when you do the next stage. Alternatively, get someone else to look at the job specification for you and do this first stage instead of you.

Step two

Get a set of Index Cards (or postit notes or similar) and write on them – one thing only per card – evidence. By evidence, we mean things you’ve done that you’re proud of or are noteworthy. For example, you might jot down “spoke at conference X” or maybe you “organised event Y”. Do it without any regard to step one at all and keep going… and going… when you think you’ve finished stop and take a break, then start again. You’ll be amazed at how many things you can think of if you keep coming at it fresh.

Get a friend to help you if you can: people often see differently and better than we see ourselves for this kind of work. For example, if you’re working in a foreign country you might not realise how impressive this actually is, precisely because you’re doing it. That would count as evidence of ‘ability to cope with different and changing circumstances’ perhaps, or ‘able to learn quickly’, and almost certainly it counts as ‘proficient in several languages’. Your friends won’t take this kind of thing for granted, but you might.

Once again, take a break so you come at things with a fresh eye later.

Step three

When you come back to it, simple put your ‘evidence’ cards in rows next to the ‘requirements’ sheets that you created in Step One. Put each one next to the ‘requirement’ it suits best and lay them out in rows, so that you can read each card, not on top of each other. No doubt some of the things you’ve got on your ‘evidence’ cards can be used in more than one place, but for now, just put them where you think they’re strongest.

Step four

Have a look at the pattern. If you’re typical, you’ll have some things that have lots of evidence for them and other things where you’re weaker. Now is the time to start moving your cards around.  Remember that some of your evidence cards could be used in more than one place? What you should do now is look for those which are aligned with the ‘requirements’ that you’ve got a lot of other evidence for. Be brutal: no matter how strong the evidence is for your first requirement, if it’s the only evidences you have for your second requirement, then that’s where it should go!

The aim is to cover all your requirements.

Obviously you should pay attention to the order of how you laid out the requirements – from the top to the bottom – and if you are short of evidence, make sure whatever evidence you can show covers the things at the top more than the bottom. After all, people only care about the ‘nice’ things if you’ve already covered the ‘necessary’ things!

Step five

This isn’t a real step, but we suggest coming back to the pattern you’ve laid out after a bit of a break. Firstly, you might want to change things when you’re fresh and have thought about things for a bit – and secondly, the process of coming back to things helps you memorise it.


That’s it! Simple. Like a lot of things, the only hard part is remembering it and having the self discipline to do it.

Obviously we’ve made it sound more simple than it probably is for you in theory, so use some common sense around this framework. Think about the questions you might get asked, too – you can use the same process for ‘assigning’ evidence to the probably questions but obviously this is a less sure-fire process, because you might not get asked the questions you expect and so not get the chance to pull out your killer bit of evidence.  Use your common sense and think about just bringing out the big guns for the first question.

And good luck with your interview!

T-Shaped learning curves

Being good at what you do doesn’t make you a good manager or leader at it. Tough but true. As Tim Brown IDEO’s CEO says “They have a principal skill that describes the vertical leg of the T – they’re mechanical engineers or industrial designers”. He was talking about the people who design user interfaces, but the principle is valid for anyone moving ‘up the scale’ of promotion.

T_curveYou can be a great accountant, for example (the vertical of the T) but as soon as you get promoted and become in charge of accountants, that’s only the narrow fulcrum where the horizontal line balances on the vertical line of technical skills. In other words, you need to broaden out, pretty darned fast. What’s on the rest of the horizontal is the kind of stuff we training (obviously!).

So what’s on the horizontal? The obvious… anything to do with people… motivation, delegation, performance management, making presentations, time management, being emotionally intelligent, dealing with conflict, prioritisation… you get the idea.

But as the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy famously said “Don’t panic”. A lot of these things are things that ‘normal people’ have experience of. Anyone who’s tried to coax kids into doing their homework or instrument pracice will understand motivation and performance management. The only difference is that when you’re dealing with adults, a lot of this kind of thing goes out of the window and we forget what we know. We fall back on fear-based approaches designed to cover our backs and minimise the damage if things go wrong.

But that’s now how we raised our kids, is it!?  We didn’t (just) try to stop them screwing up… we tried to help them fly.

Why is leadership of adults different in any way except that you can use longer words and that kids are often more sensible than grown ups….? ;)