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MonthNovember 2017

Presentation Writers Block? Get Unstuck with Upside Down Thinking

Great presentations, often start with great ideas, but what do you do when the new ideas aren’t flowing? How do you overcome presentation writers block?

We recently met Haiku Deck Pro subscriber, Forbes contributor, and business transformation consultant Patricia Cotton,  who has devoted her career to helping individuals and organizations unlock their creativity using a unique method she calls, Upside Down Thinking.   Using this method and presentations created with Haiku Deck, she facilitates Upside Down Thinking business retreats and workshops, keynote speeches and creative consulting. We asked Cotton about her method and advice she gives to leaders on change management, presentations, communication, and more.

What is Upside Down Thinking?

Upside Down Thinking is a mindset that helps individuals and organizations to transform new ideas and intuitive knowledge in reality, by fostering new ways to manage change & creativity. Although turning one’s thinking upside down is rather an unnatural and even painful process, it may unleash innovation, leading to unexplored, creative and also more authentic solutions.

It sounds like a big part of change management has to do with the way leaders communicate change to their organization. What are the most common mistakes you see leaders make when they communicate with their teams and what should others do to avoid the most common pitfalls?

It’s very common to see leaders assuming that new ideas will be embraced organically by their teams simply because they make logical sense for the business. However, one should not disregard the crucial power of human emotions, including the voices of fear, cynicism and judgment which tend to appear in change moments. Since telling is not selling, one should communicate any new strategy followed by an emotional link and reward, dealing with doubts, engaging with resistance and managing emotions. In a nutshell, leaders should move from the head to the heart when communicating with their teams.

How can Haiku Deck users apply upside down thinking to improve their presentations?

First of all, I would recommend inverting the natural flow of your presentations by focusing more on fostering emotional connection rather than sharing hard data. After establishing a certain level of trust, I’d suggest playing with the “sacred cows” of the industry, company and/or field of to which the audience belongs, questioning their crystallized (and probably limiting) beliefs, and reframing them in the opposite way. This can be a fun and unexpected way to unleash innovative thinking, reaching deeper levels of reflection and engagement. In order to support this process, it is worth checking out the open source tool Reframe.

What steps do you take to prepare for success in giving talks and running workshops?

Well, first of all, I do certain things in order to create time and space for preparation, such as getting rid of urgent and mundane tasks, meditating and being on my own at home. After creating the conditions to have a certain level of peace of mind, I start immersing into the workshop/talk topic, looking back on what I already built on it, as well as doing some new research and seeking for inspiration in random and non obvious sources.

Last but not least, I use Haiku Deck to inspire and organize my thinking. Haiku Deck is a support for all of my business presentations such as workshops, corporate talks, consulting reports and institutional presentations.It has always made a big difference to boost the quality of my presentations as well as the quality of my thinking, since it provokes me to nail the essence of things so that I can better communicate it.

What advice can you offer to Haiku Deck’s community as they think about their talk or workshop?

Being simple = being effective.

In Forbes you describe how optimism, risk-taking and self-confidence are extremely beneficial as change drivers. What advice do you give to leaders who are trying to show these traits when effecting change in their organization?

Be aware that these qualities can be highly contagious if shared and practiced with consistency over time. Also, bear in mind that is possible to spread and sustain these traits by building a courageous culture that is less risk-averse and more open to innovation. All this combined will probably foster the necessary organizational resilience to support you and your business in change moments.

Patricia Cotton is a Corporate Marketing & Business Transformation Consultant with fifteen years of experience in Strategic Marketing, Corporate Branding and Change Management, working across Real Estate, Cosmetics and TV. Patricia holds an MBA in Creative Leadership from the Berlin School and Marketing from ESPM, Rio de Janeiro. She also holds a B.A in Communications from PUC-Rio, Brazil, and University of Leeds, England. Visit her web site to learn more about Upside Down Thinking

Career and Leadership Coaching Presentations: Q&A with Polly Chandler

Polly Chandler is a Tiburon California-based coach and facilitator that specializes in leadership development and career transitions. Before starting Chandler Coaching, she coached and taught students and faculty at Antioch University New England, where she served as Program Director for the MBA in Sustainability and Chair of the Department of Management for 10 years. An early Haiku Deck Pro subscriber and advocate, Polly recently shared her thoughts on coaching presentations, storytelling, and how effective presentations make a difference for her practice and her clients.

What makes your approach to leadership and career coaching unique?   

My approach is strengths focused, I support people in understanding their strengths so they can build from where their talents, values, interests, and even passions intersect.  I work with people to see that most of their challenges come from misapplication of their strengths, 70% of weaknesses are just an over or underuse of a top strength.  This is a powerful construct for people to use.  I focus on high energy and high performance.   I also do team trainings and integrate experiential learning and outdoors as much as possible

How do you use Haiku Deck in your practice? 

I use Haiku Deck to illustrate key concepts in a strengths based approach.  I have a series of decks that I develop based on a client’s goals.  For example, when I was working with First Five, I selected photos to tell the story of strengths through images about children.  When I work with healthcare, I select photos to tell their story.  Haiku Deck allows me to design customized decks that unfold as stories.

(Here’s an example of a Haiku Deck Polly used to help a group start thinking about how we would be working together)

Imagine it’s January 2017 – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

How has Haiku Deck made a difference for you and/or your clients?   

It’s easy to keep my role as a facilitator, not a lecturer.  I use the slides to open dialogue and conversation.  I believe that best learning happens with content and discussion, not just content.  I design decks so people learn to think about presentations as a story and conversation, not just a list of facts.

Before becoming a full-time coach, you were Chair of the Department of Management at Antioch University. How has your role as a teacher and department leader impacted your approach to coaching? 

One of the reasons I left Academia, was because I found my greatest energy and performance came when I was coaching students and faculty. I had talents and strengths in this role and I loved it.  I decided to spend more of my time doing what I loved most.  This is a great story to share with clients as I encourage them to leverage their strengths to do more of what they love.  My goal was to have more “best days at work”.  I also was determined to find a way to work outdoors as much as possible.  I do most of my coaching outdoors.  I do not have an office.  I prefer to meet clients in person outdoors.  If it is phone call coaching, I work from outdoors in a park or other beautiful setting.  Today, I sat on a bench overlooking San Francisco Bay.   If there are children playing, birds chirping, or other outdoor sounds, I just explain that I work where it gives me energy.  I try to encourage others to do the same.

When you coach leaders, what advice do you give to help them craft and deliver more effective storytelling to their teams, partners, and clients? 

Be a guide and storyteller.  People get overwhelmed by facts.  Design and deliver slides that weave together a story of facts, impressions, learnings, and insights.  Be a guide on the side.  Form a relationship with the audience through images that speak a common language.  Build a connection with the audience by building on shared knowledge.  Be a slide guide and customize all your presentations to meet the needs of your audience.  Never give the same talk twice.  Don’t give canned talks. They sound tired.  Come up with new ways of delivering every presentation to meet the needs, strengths and passions of your audience.

You mentioned that you’ve been an advocate for Haiku Deck. How do you describe Haiku Deck to others?

I ask people to tell me…What was your favorite children’s book? (Or if they are a parent, what is your favorite book to read to your child).  I then ask, why was it your favorite book.   Nine times out of ten the response is, the illustrations were so wonderful and there just was not a lot of need for words.  To me, that is Haiku Deck.  Finding excellent images to tell the story with as few words as possible.  I find I love building the decks now that I am out of the PowerPoint platform.  PowerPoint did not have the same creative potential for me, unless I decided to spend a lot of time learning.  Haiku Deck was easy, fast and I have had great success with audiences.

To learn more about Polly and her coaching practice, visit  www.pollychandlercoaching.com.

Are you a coach using Haiku Deck to deliver impact with your clients? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line at team@haikudeck.com.

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