Presenting a Battle Plan to the Pentagon

When presenting a battle plan to the Pentagon the presenter must understand that the Pentagon has some of the most advanced war planners in the history of mankind. Most of these Pentagon war planners have read nearly every book written on military history and battle tactics.

Most of these war planners have not only been in combat in the heat of battle when chaos and controversy rule the day, but they have also beaten their opponents and enemies whether they were actual or war game simulated enemies.

Therefore it behooves the presenter to have their facts straight and be able to have contingencies for hundreds if not thousands of what if type questions. The presenter of a battle plan to the Pentagon must also know their facts and not simply rely on the old CIA data for the region or country where the future battle might take place. Real Intel is paramount and Internet based information is as good as hearsay.

And when presenting a battle plan to the Pentagon the presenter must have high self-esteem and talk with authority and have lived enough days to have experienced the reality of life and traveled enough to know what they’re talking about. Some of these old generals, commanders and admirals did not fall off a turnip truck and you can expect some of their IQs to be in the neighborhood of 150 plus.

When presenting a battle plan to the Pentagon the presenter must understand the new paradigm of war in the net centric battle space, as well as being versed in guerrilla warfare tactics of Colonel Boyd and the lessons learned in Iraq. Please consider this in 2006 when presenting your battle plans to United States Pentagon.

How to Improve Your Business Presentation Skills – Part1

Many moons ago, when I first started presenting in front of groups of people, I used to wonder with awe at those seasoned presenters who seemed to just ‘have the gift’ of being able to stand in front of an audience and effortlessly present their ‘message’ or ‘ideas’. To hear them talk, I’d swear they were natural born ‘presenters’. Well guess what….they weren’t. In fact, even the world’s top presenters all began their public speaking careers as rank amateurs. I then learnt that, along with most things in life, it’s all down to practice.

It’s amazing what practice produces – in all areas of your life and business. The very best presenters today once all started in the same place. That first presentation, reading from notes and being terrified to try presenting without notes (we’ve all been there). It’s all down to confidence.

In a nutshell, the idea is that for any skill – from such a simple thing as tying your shoelaces to presenting in front of a group – there are basically four levels:

1st Level – Unconscious Incompetence – you don’t know that you can’t do it!

2nd Level – Conscious Incompetence – you now know that you can’t do it!

3rd Level – Conscious Competence – You now feel ‘confident’ at doing it but you’re still thinking about it!

4th Level – Unconscious Competence – You are ‘highly confident’ – striving to continuously improve and become an expert in your field. Most of the basic actions you employ are now automatic.

We all begin new things as incompetents – that is, we ‘don’t know what we don’t know’. Recognising this incompetence, however, is the first step in the learning process. Feeling OK about it is the next. It is only when we are willing to demonstrate our ignorance – to ourselves and others (without fear of failure) that we can move through this stage to a level where we can perform a task with a certain amount of competence. Can you remember as a child trying to tie your shoelaces? Wasn’t it so complicated the first time? How many times do you even consider thinking about that now? It has become totally automatic has it not? This is the same with ANY new skill that we learn.

Imagine that it could take about 500 hours of practising a skill to become really competent at it. You might radically reduce or ‘fast track’ that time if you have the advantage of good feedback. One of the most rewarding areas I have experienced when working with businesses is the radical acceleration of the business growth by implementing tried and tested methods that are already proven, rather than the business owner going alone and trying to ‘re-invent the wheel’. Many people are happy with being what they consider as ‘competent’. If they see themselves as “ok”, they stop practising. Others would like to be ‘outstanding’ – to be widely known as an expert in their field. It may, however, take even longer to go from being competent at something to being a real expert in your field.

So why would you want to be more than ‘ok’ in the field of presenting? Here’s 3 reasons:

1. The satisfaction of doing something very well.

2. To be rewarded accordingly (both socially and financially). To stand out above the competition.

3. There are two crucial areas in any business. The first is being able to deliver your ‘product’ with outstanding consistency. The second is being able to sell yourself to your prospects. To achieve this will requires a honed and well practised presentation. You can have the best product in the world, however if you have a poor presentation you simply won’t sell it. At best you will have a low conversion rate from prospect to client.

The 5th level – Excel at what you do. It’s more than ‘Unconscious Competence’. More than ‘just practice’. It is a level that only the really determined will ever achieve. Add passion and perseverance in the face of all odds. It also allows you to ‘niche’ your business and your pricing accordingly.

So here’s a thought or two:

  • 1) When you present yourself and your business – consider THREE areas where you have reached level 2 i.e. you are currently ‘consciously incompetent’. List THREE things you could do to get you level 4 i.e. ‘unconsciously competent’ in all three areas.
  • 2) When you present yourself and your business – list THREE areas where you have reached level 4 i.e. you have become ‘unconsciously competent’. Now list THREE things you could do to further add passion and improvement…
  • 3) Then the important part! Do something today to ensure that you act on just one of your six new ideas…

Look out for Part 2 on ‘How to improve your business presentation Skills’

Presentations – Delivering a Better Presentation – Seeing the Point

A client, Bill, recently came to me to help him sort out a problem he was having with his presentations not being understood by the audience. Bill is a highly respected executive manager for a large international finance organisation here in Belgium, and he has many presentations to give, so this was a serious problem and he was very concerned about the situation. In fact it was his boss that had pointed out the problem to Bill in the first place. Bill knows exactly what the message is he wants to get over in his presentations, but his audience was ending up confused because he spoke too quickly.

Some Cutting Remarks

Making a presentation is about delivering a clear, coherent, concise message to the audience. Its about communicating. Its a bit like laser eye surgery! The laser in eye surgery is an incredibly precise cutting instrument. Its purpose is to make incredibly fine, accurate and precise cuts in the eye in order to alleviate or remove impediments to clear vision.

When a laser beam is focused, it cuts precisely, neatly and cleanly. It does this because the beam of light it sends out is coherent, its all going in the same direction at the same time. If the beam is not focused, it does not cut, it simply acts more like a torch and illuminates an area of the eye. The unfocused light beam is said to be incoherent when it is in this unfocused state, the beam is not tight, it is scattered.

After talking a while with Bill about the problem it soon became apparent that speaking quickly was just a symptom of a deeper issue. It turned out that Bill was not really ‘focused’ on the presentation. His focus was scattered, he was so keyed up he kept looking forwards to what were going to be the expected outcomes of the presentation during the presentation. So just like the incoherent laser, Bill, illuminated a great deal of what was being presented, but failed to make the precise, accurate cuts that a coherent presentation would have made. In other words Bill’s incoherent presentation was coming from the simple fact that he was not 100% ‘present’ to the delivery of the presentation, he was, at least partly, in the future somewhere with a bunch of expected outcomes.

Not being 100% present to the presentation came through as the sped up delivery and the audience picked this up. If you’re not ’100% present’ to deliver the presentation why should your audience be there?

Being Present – By being 100% present to what you are doing, you become more authentic, genuine about the thing you are engaged in doing, in this case delivering a presentation. There is a very simple but powerful technique that I use in order to develop this ability, its called conscious breathing, and here’s how to do it.

  1. To start with you’ll need a quiet place where you will be undisturbed for 4-5 minutes. When you are there and sitting or lying comfortably then;
  2. Close your eyes and simply focus your attention on the physical sensation of your breathing. Allow your self to become 100% focused and aware of the cool air moving into your body on the in-breath and the warmer air moving out of the body on the out-breath.
  3. Do this for 4-5 minutes.

Its OK if you go off focus from your breathing. As soon as you’re aware that you are off focus, just gently bring your attention back to the sensation of your breathing.

You may find that your breathing wants to speed up or slow down, become deeper or shallower, that’s all OK, just let the breathing do what it wants to do, try not to control it at all. Similarly the body too may want to relax, so just let it. All you have to do is stay as focused and aware as you can of the physical sensation of your breathing.

This is a great technique to do regularly. I suggest that you do this for example just after waking up in the morning and just before going to sleep at night. Of course you can do this where ever and as often as you want, in fact the more you practise this simple technique, the more you will find yourself doing it automatically during the day.

Of course, take a few minutes to do this before a presentation, and then notice the difference in your delivery.

Bill practised twice a day for a week and started to see some real positive benefits from the technique. His presentations are now being delivered at a normal, slower and more relaxed pace. This in turn is being felt by his audience who are relaxed by his calm approach and equally engaged with Bill’s material and presentation skill. His audience is now starting to see the point Bill wants them to see.

Two or three weeks into the using this technique Bill told me of other changes that the technique had allowed him to make, most significantly is his calmer, more mindful approach to his work, colleagues and his family. He is getting feedback from his colleagues and most importantly his boss about how much better things are, and Bill attributes this to the conscious breathing technique.

The Point

Breathing this way actually brings us incredibly close to the present moment. Our breathing is a very intimate, here and now process that we have been doing, largely unconsciously, since we were born.

Being in or close to the present moment makes us more like the coherent laser beam, we can simply be with what is, rather than de-focusing to the future or past. When we are present to what we are doing, we do it with greater clarity, presence, authenticity and mindfulness. So breathe yourself to clearer, sharper, authentic, coherent presentations and be open to the other benefits that this technique will bring you.