Presentation Skills and Professor Lupin – What Harry Potter can teach us about Public Speaking

Mary Donné public speaking
Does Fear of Public Speaking make you feel like this?

Professor Lupin taught Hogwarts students to banish the terrifying boggarts by chanting the spell, “Ridikulous!” accompanied by a loud crack of their wands.  This caused the boggart to assume a funny, no-longer-terrifying appearance, and thus lose its power to scare.  

Now if you don’t know Harry Potter, this probably won’t mean a lot so, in summary, the principle is that you cannot be scared of something that appears silly or daft.  Things are only terrifying when we give them the power to be.  Or in the famous words of, President Roosevelt, ‘the only thing to fear, is fear itself.’

Andy McNab, talking to Dr Kevin Dutton, in the marvellously named “Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success” discusses someone being scared of heights. He points out that such a person would easily stand on a piece of board on the ground, six feet long and two feet wide.  But take the same board and turn it into, for example, a diving board above a swimming pool, and they would be terrified. The board remains the same size – it is their mind which has created the fear and given the (diving) board the power to terrify.   Continue reading “Presentation Skills and Professor Lupin – What Harry Potter can teach us about Public Speaking”

In Praise of the Mere Manager

When I type the word ‘leadership’ into Google, within a nanosecond my screen is full of blue headlines like:

“Study for a High Impact Leadership Course”

“Leadership Development”

“Future Leaders Get Ahead Now!”

“Authentic Leadership …”

Screenshot 2019-06-07 at 17.27.12
Captain Mainwaring from Dads’ Army – one of TVs most famous managers!

If I just search for, ‘good leader’, Google nearly explodes.  But if I type in, ‘good manager’ then very little comes up, with the exception of the rather dismissive, “7 Things Great Leaders Always Do (but Mere Managers Always Fear)” – mere managers, eh?

Even when I studied for my MA, I spent a whole semester studying and writing about ‘leadership’ – though my actual degree was in ‘management’.

Why are we so obsessed with turning managers into leaders and when did this happen?  

Continue reading “In Praise of the Mere Manager”

What’s the Problem? 5 Questions to ask an Underperforming Employee

We all have days like this at work!

One of the most challenging tasks for any manager is how to handle employee underperformance.  This could be a general team issue where the whole group seems to be demotivated and underperforming.  More likely, however, the issue will relate to one or maybe two particular individuals.

Difficult Conversations at Work

Most managers would prefer not to have to sit down and have what can potentially be a difficult and even emotional conversation.  In this vein, the usual starting point is to try and rationalise the individual’s behaviour, and work out why they are underperforming.   Continue reading “What’s the Problem? 5 Questions to ask an Underperforming Employee”

Help! What do I do with Unpaid Workers?

8 Strategies for Successfully Managing Volunteers

Whatever you choose to call them – volunteers, interns, work experience students, or helpers – at some point most organisations will have unpaid workers on the premises and need to think about volunteer management. For example:

  • Schools – parent helpers on trips out or special events such as school discos.
  • Religious organisations – the ladies and gentlemen who help out at the refectory after service and tidy the place of worship.
  • Youth organisations – your child’s Saturday morning football or coach or match referee, or their Sunday School leaders.
  • And most businesses these days will provide work experience and internships for people interested in a new career, with some choosing to utilise their services more than others.

Continue reading “Help! What do I do with Unpaid Workers?”

5 Top Tips for Terrific Employee Training Plans!

5 ways to get the best out of your employee training programmes and staff development plans.

This is probably the single area I get asked about more than any other.  Most employers know that an employee training plan is  important. As well as being a given expectation for Millennial employees, it is an effective way of creating employee engagement.  But what exactly is a proper employee training plan (ETP)? And how do we make one? Here are some ideas to get you started: Continue reading “5 Top Tips for Terrific Employee Training Plans!”

Banter, Banana Peel, and Snowflakes

The Shifting Sands of Employee Expectation

If you saw the news this weekend you will know about the incident involving football player, Raheem Sterling, at Saturday’s Chelsea v Manchester City game.   The monstrous footage shows a group of middle aged men, faces contorted in anger and hate, screaming alleged racial abuse at the young player.  Sterling, 24 (Saturday was his birthday), has been widely praised for his calm and professional conduct during it all.  He has said, “I just had to laugh at the abuse – I didn’t expect any better.” 
Continue reading “Banter, Banana Peel, and Snowflakes”

Plus ça Change, Plus ça Doncaster

If only all AI were this cute!

The Guardian published an article a few weeks ago about how Doncaster, once a coal mining heartland, then a waste-ground, has now reinvented itself as a hub for distribution centres.  Fittingly, it has three of the beauties just for Amazon – the website which has been accused of destroying high street retail. Continue reading “Plus ça Change, Plus ça Doncaster”

Does Public Speaking Spook You? Six Strategies to Exorcise your Fears

No.2 Fear: Public Speaking!

As it’s Halloween week, when everyone’s thoughts turn to things that scare them, it seems topical to think about the fear that is number two on the list of common phobias – glossophobia, or fear of speaking in public.

I was reminded of this recently when I spoke to a delegate who shared that the thought of standing up and speaking in front of people was his absolute nightmare.  This gentleman was a senior manager and openly admitted that while he enjoyed his job, liked and trusted his colleagues, he would mentally freak at the thought of having to give a presentation or a speech in front of them.  An acquaintance who dreads public speaking described the fear as, “paralysing” or “petrifying”.  He didn’t necessarily mind explaining a point in front of a meeting group, but he froze the second he thought he had to stand up on stage in front of people.  Continue reading “Does Public Speaking Spook You? Six Strategies to Exorcise your Fears”

What Gareth Southgate can Teach us about Authentic Leadership

It is almost a cliché to admire Gareth Southgate’s leadership of the England football team.  The Daily Telegraph have praised his “integrity” and “quiet dignity”.  The BBC among many others praised his “compassion” for consoling Colombia’s, Uribe, who missed his penalty in the last 16 game and put England through to the quarter finals. These are not normally words one associates with football managers, or perhaps even managers generally!  So what takes us out of the realm of mere people management and into the bask of great leadership? Continue reading “What Gareth Southgate can Teach us about Authentic Leadership”

Egos and Expectations – can HR teach the England Football Manager about Running a Team

England Football Manager World Cup Football Russia
Can Gareth Southgate do the impossible this year?

The  job of the England football manager is sometimes referred to as ‘The Impossible Job’.  Football managing careers usually end in failure.  In the memorable words of words of  Howard Wilkinson (former Leeds United manager) ‘there are two types of manager, those who have been sacked and those who will be sacked in the future’. Continue reading “Egos and Expectations – can HR teach the England Football Manager about Running a Team”