Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Presenter Pointers #2: First Learn, Then Teach

Every Sunday (or Saturday), Sabhaologists are on the field monitoring, observng, and analyzing presentations. This new series brings to light their observations and points of improvement in a bite-sized blog post.

First seek to understand then to be understood: the age-old adage on how to communicate.

Since presenting is nothing more than communicating to the audience a memorable message, we must ask ourselves, "What have we gained from this presentation?" We've noted earlier how important it is to guide our audience towards a goal. Thus, we must understand that goal before we can even begin to present!

Common sense, we think, but when we have a syllabus to guide our presentation, we often tune out our inquiry and curiosity. The syllabus is a great tool but like any tool it needs to be used correctly. Have you ever tried to drive in a nail with a screwdriver - we have it works but not well. The screwdriver is designed for screws. The syllabus in the same way is to help us understand. It is full of great information and ideas that we need to read with our curiosity filter open. We need to think about the different aspects of the topic and delve as deep as we can to understand the topic. For example, friendship, yesterday's topic in kishore/kishori sabha, may seem drab on the surface but can be analyzed in different ways:

  • What did Maharaj teach us through His friendships?
  • Are friendships always beneficial?
  • In our life, do we have different types of friendships?

When we fail to learn from a presentation, we let an opportunity go - an opportunity to bring our audience closer to Maharaj and Swami. Sure, it may require a bit preparation, but that's why we need two weeks to research and refine our idea.

Thus, let's seek to understand the topic then to expect the topic to be understood by our audience.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Presenter Pointers #1: All Points, No Proof

Every Sunday (or Saturday), Sabhaologists are on the field monitoring, observng, and analyzing presentations. This new series brings to light their observations and points of improvement in a bite-sized blog post.

In kishore sabha last week, we heard a presentation on desh/kaal. The syllabus listed the eight factors of influence as mentioned by Shriji Maharaj in the Vachanamrut: place, time, action, company, mantra, scriptures, initiation, and meditation. The presenter figured simply listing them would do the job.

Reality check: The audience tuned him out as quickly as they heard him say, "Here's factor #1..."

What did he miss? He lacked stories/examples to breathe life into each of these eight factors. Point after point reduces a topic to technicality and leaves the audience behind in boredom.

Part of preparing entails finding these stories/examples. For instance, seeing others sneeze can affect our thoughts. In describing company, we can certainly pique someone's interest.

So let's remember, prasangs propel the points into our audience. Without 'em, our points go nowhere.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Talker's Block

A guest post by fellow sabha.ologist  who says we should just get going already.

Imagine you’ve just been told by your sanchalaks that you’re doing a talk. Eager to start, you go on your laptop and pull up Microsoft Word. While thinking of the topic, you sit there, deep in thought (or so it seems), while your cursor blinks away on the blank Word Document.

Ten minutes pass...

You get a quick snack to recharge yourself...Nothing is coming....  Is it writer’s block? Is there such a thing?

Seth Godin doesn’t think so. He compared writer’s block with talker’s block.

He says, “No one suffers from talker’s block. No one wakes up in the morning, and discovers he or she has nothing to say and sits quietly, for days or weeks, until the moment is right, until all the craziness in his life has died down.”  

Seth’s point is, we should write like we talk. The best way to speak in sabha is to start speaking and/or writing your thoughts down, then refine them. “Writer’s block” is due to the censor part in your brain. To start preparing, we must forget about judgement. Just start writing. Out of your nonsense and ramblings, believe something good will come.  Using the three step success model, you can get your presentation going in no time!
  1. Synthesize your personal statement
  2. Start with a shakeup (something unexpected)
  3. Support the simple statement with stories filled with concrete details and validity.
Additionally, each time we prepare for a presentation, Maharaj & Swami have given us a change to delve deeper into the topic, select related prasangs, and gather up appropriate research so that we can draw connections, insights, and simple statements that can benefit everyone in the sabha.

Lastly, it’s important to realize that we don’t have to give up hours each day just to make one effective presentation. It only takes about 10 minutes a day to make one, especially if we begin the week it is assigned!

One great schedule format that could be used to prepare for a presentation was presented in Karcons across the nation, and is shown below: