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