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Presentation Skills

October 2016
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Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing. Tom Peters


Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. —Jack Welch

Escape the Fear of Presenting!


Most people walk into presentation skills class with fear and trepidation yet it is a critical skill to have in today’s business world. They dread the feeling of being put on the spot; the judgement from the fellow participants; stumbling and not recovering; counting crutch word; heart palpitating, palms and armpits sweating. Most of these are just in our mind. We bring these issues upon ourselves. The truth is that people want you to succeed. They are rooting for you. They want you to walk up to the front of the room or sit at a conference table, open your mouth and present your content with confidence.  Speeches are about stories, tell yours.

“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.” – Alexander Greggcartoon-1.jpg

The one thing I like to remind my students is that “Practice makes Practiced”. There is no perfection involved. Perfectionism is a mind trap. Those so called nerves are really butterflies which will diminish after 3 minutes into your presentation. Everyone gets them, even the most seasoned professional. It just what you do with them that counts. Never let them see you sweat doesn’t mean you won’t. Take some deep breathes, practice positive self-talk, drink some water, introduce yourself to the audience as they enter the room and familiarize yourself with your setting.

As you continually practice presenting so will your confidence develop.

Where do we get a chance to practice?

  1. Big presentations
  2. Client presentations
  3. Sales call
  4. All hands meeting
  5. One-on-ones with boss, client or colleague

“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” –Dale Carnegie

I was ask to speak for Office Depot WebCafe. I wanted to know how many people would be on the conference call. They said it was the most they ever had 5,400. My mind went to fear, then I quickly thought I only had to speak to one person not 5,400.  I had a vision of the perfect conference call participant and the butterflies went away. The conference call was a success by practicing positive self-talk.

Build your confidence through presenting and the issue areas above will diminish. People want your confidence above all else, so give it to them. You will be seen in a positive light. Good presenters move up further and faster in their career. So enroll yourself in a class or practice in-house with team members or colleagues. As Nike says “Just Do It”.


Check out Paragon Strategies, Helping You Grow Yourself, Your People and Your Business, Powerful Presentations Class on August 26th in San Francisco at or 415-310-9894

About Jerry Ervin: CEO and Founder of Paragon Strategies. Driven by a desire to help organizations and individuals reach their highest potential, Jerry is a skilled trainer, coach and consultant. As a widely-sought after trainer, he makes sure that his customized instructional style is always a dynamic fusion of fun, theory and experiential learning – the key elements that guide the philosophy of Paragon Strategies. As a keenly perceptive executive coach, he is adept at guiding professionals in overcoming behavioral barriers by carefully examining and challenging the assumptions that underlie their behavior. As a consultant, he draws on his extensive industry experience to analyze existing business problems and assist companies in developing sound business plans that are designed to amplify the bottom-line.   415-310-9894

Training Sale through August 15th

I want to share Paragon Strategies 2016 Fall Training Schedule.. As you know training works to keep your team engaged and feel valued.

According to SMART Briefs Leadership, one of the top three non-financial motivators, 76% of employees want opportunities for career growth. Many studies have found that certain non-financial motivators can be just as effective, if not more, than monetary rewards. Employees are looking for learning and development offerings that will help them on their professional journey in the long run.

“If you want great team members, you have to give them a great boss.”
Andrea B – Weber Shandwick

For the past 15 years our programs have helped new and existing managers to manage and present effectively with more confidence; and junior team members to manage up.

“The Manager Academy was very informative and I know it will help me
both long-term and in my day to day managing.”
Brady K – Antenna Group

As a special we are offering a $150 off booking any class through August 15th. For more information about our training classes feel free to contact me at 415-310-9894 or check out our website at

August 26th – Powerful Presentation Skills
September 23rd – Manager Academy
October 21st – Managing UP



Training * Coaching * Consulting

PS: Hurry as time is running out!

What to Expect from Your Off-Site Meeting

Bottom Line: Workshops in another setting can provide employees with a valuable means of thinking critically about their company’s vision.

Whatever you want to call them — strategy retreats, away days, off-sites — out-of-office group meetings have become ubiquitous in the business world. In exchange for the cost and resources required to pull them off, top executives and analysts expect workshops to deliver tangible strategic benefits and the type of team bonding experience that enhances employees’ focus and productivity.

Image result for off site meeting

But the jury is still out: Are these away days truly valuable or just an excuse for employees to cut loose from their usual routines and enjoy lunch on the company? Many businesses see workshops as a necessary way of allowing employees to step back from the daily grind and ruminate over larger issues. Others say off-sites lack an overriding goal and send mixed messages to the participants. The few empirical studies of the effects of off-site meetings have been inconclusive, small-scale case reports. What’s more, previous research has typically judged retreats mainly by whether they contribute to sweeping organizational changes within a firm.

A new study from a team of researchers in the U.K. surveyed those who collectively participated in more than 650 company-led workshops conducted in a wide range of settings. The study provides a more nuanced appraisal of the impact of strategic retreats.

The authors did indeed find that off-sites leave few long-lasting, overarching effects on firms, and that success stories — such as the case of Philips Electronics, which shifted from the semiconductor industry into the burgeoning health technology sector largely as a result of the discussions held at board retreats — are relatively rare.

However, that doesn’t mean managers should dismiss the potential of workshops out of hand, the authors write. Instead of looking for company-changing results, managers should look deeper for meaningful workshop-related outcomes, particularly those that affect “soft” aspects of corporate culture, such as employees’ interpersonal dealings and their comprehension of the firm’s strategic approach.

In examining the results of extensive surveys of middle- and senior-level managers at firms of various sizes, from small localized companies to multinationals, the authors found that several basic design elements of workshops determine their effectiveness. These elements include how clearly organizers articulate the purpose of the off-site, the level of detachment from everyday routines, the duration and scheduling of meetings, the number and variety of stakeholders invited, and the extent to which participants challenge existing strategies.

The aftereffects of corporate retreats trickle down into three areas of corporate culture and performance, the authors found. Wide-ranging organizational outcomes, the most difficult to achieve, include impacts on a firm’s strategic direction, including its business plan, internal processes, and overall values.

Far more common, given the emphasis on team building predominant during many off-sites, are interpersonal outcomes — takeaways from workshops that help colleagues share knowledge and support with one another. Also prevalent are cognitive outcomes, or how much better executives, managers, and employees understand the firm’s strategic positioning and objectives, as well as its place in the wider marketplace.

The main difficulty is in turning the discussions and activities of a workshop into practical solutions once everyone’s back at the office. For example, one of the fundamental characteristics of strategy retreats is their disengagement from the day-to-day routine. Conventional wisdom suggests that this temporary remove helps managers break free from their habits and allows them to stimulate innovative brainstorming. But this very aspect could also mean that the creative thinking that happens away from the office is difficult to bring back into regular organizational processes. Indeed, the authors found a negative association between the level of detachment from normal rituals and the ability of managers to implement ideas thought up on a retreat.

Supervisors, therefore, should look for more ways to integrate takeaways from workshops into the everyday fabric of the company. For example, scheduling off-sites as a series of events boosts the likelihood that firms can translate the takeaways from workshops into concrete cognitive and organizational improvements. According to the researchers, serializing meetings requires employees to spend more time and effort considering strategic issues and affords them the ability to reflect on their ideas and think of ways to implement them.

Similarly, the more that employees from different areas of the company participate in off-sites together, the more their interpersonal relationships will flourish back at the office. Small group workshops were especially instrumental in allowing employees to bond with one another.

Because the authors found relatively small effects resulting from off-sites in general, they encourage managers first to establish clear goals for what they want to achieve during an off-site, and then to undertake objective evaluations of workshops to determine whether they’re worthwhile and cost-effective. These measures could include tallying the number of new initiatives that stem from a particular retreat, tracking the amount of time spent on challenging the status quo, or monitoring changes in communication patterns and in-office meetings among participants.

Source:Off to Plan or Out to Lunch? Relationships between Design Characteristics and Outcomes of Strategy Workshops,” by Mark P. Healey (University of Manchester), Gerard P. Hodgkinson (University of Warwick), Richard Whittington (University of Oxford), and Gerry Johnson (Lancaster University), British Journal of Management, July 2015, vol. 26, no. 3


Having an off-site? Let Paragon Strategies Strategic Results Forum be your guide to a successful event. Check out for more information.

The Highs and Lows of Telecommuting

While public sentiment about telecommuting tends to be largely positive, the science based on its ultimate outcomes shows a more complex picture of the policy as a tool that requires the right strategy for each organization.

Monday, October 26, 2015

While many talent experts agree that allowing employees to work remotely can boost recruitment and retention efforts — as well as contribute to greater work/life balance for workers — a new academic article seeks to move past popularly held ideals to discover what scientific research says about the real impact of implementing telecommuting.

The results of research analyzed in a new article in Psychological Science in the Public Interest are mixed, showing that telecommuting can provide some of its purported workspace benefits — though the magnitude of the effect, in many cases, such as its capacity to mitigate work-family conflict, was relatively small.

The extent of telecommuting plays an important role, the article indicates, with some studies suggesting that job satisfaction is highest among those who telecommute moderately.

In other research reviewed, though, more extensive telecommuting was connected to greater commitment to an organization and lower turnover intentions. Researchers also reviewed how the extent of telecommuting affects relationships between telecommuters and supervisors, coworkers and family — and a resulting effect on job satisfaction. The article highlights research that suggests more extensive telecommuting has been associated with improved relationships with leaders but poorer relationships with coworkers.

Study author Tammy D. Allen, psychology professor and area director for University of South Florida’s industrial-organizational psychology doctoral program, says she sought to rein in the scientific findings on a broad expanse of telecommuting effects, from organizational concerns to environmental issues.

While public sentiment about telecommuting tends to be positive, Allen says the science around its outcomes shows a more complete picture of the policy as a tool that requires the right strategies.

“I think back to the situation when Yahoo disbanded telecommuting,” Allen says. “Marissa Mayer caught a lot of flak for that. I’ve been doing research on flex-work arrangements and work family issues for many years and knew it was not a panacea for individuals to better manage work and family lives.”

Other tech giants, such as Google, have moved away from work-from-home policies in favor of creating sometimes quirky but amenity-rich campuses where employees are likely to strike up conversations, Allen says.

“They really value those spontaneous interactions that occur amongst employees,” she says. “They think that’s where innovation happens. If you read his book (The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and our Lives), Eric Schmidt talks about how [Google] does everything possible to keep employees there — from feeding them to offering on-site laundry.”

Allen’s research also considered similar questions about telecommuting’s role in professional isolation and its relationship to job performance, again revealing that a balanced approach often is most productive.

According to one study Allen reviewed, employees who spent more time telecommuting showed lower job performance as a result of professional isolation than those who spent little time telecommuting. In another study included in the article, extensive telecommuters with “high-quality” supervisory relationships exhibited the most commitment, job satisfaction and job performance.

For HR executives, Allen says, finding the right fit involves tailoring to suit organizational needs and individuals’ roles and personalities.

“We still think that, by and large, telecommuting can be a strategic business practice and there are a lot of benefits to telecommuting,” she says. “Our message is that there needs to be sound management practices implemented. That goes along with the idea of making sure employees are carefully selected, trained and provided proper equipment and that there are processes to make sure they still stay connected to the workplace to improve career development.”

Carol Sladek, a partner and work/life consulting leader at Aon Hewitt, says the journal article shines a light on one of telecommuting’s most difficult aspects: the difficulty in measuring outcomes.

“We see the benefits of workplace flexibility and telecommuting as the ability to attract talent and to keep talent engaged when they’re in the workforce,” she says. “It’s not a magic answer for everyone. The right level of telecommuting really does depend on the individual’s job and responsibilities. Some lend themselves better to working offsite, and it greatly depends on the individual themselves.”

The tactic won’t change unrelated, existing problems, she adds.

“If you take a below average performer and put them in the telecommuting situation, it rarely gets better,” Sladek says. “But if you take a high performer, who is equipped and trained to telecommute, you may see better performance and increased productivity.”

Some companies set a minimum productivity criteria, Sladek says, but those standards should not be multiplied for employees working remotely.

“However you’re measuring performance at your organization, it should be the same,” she says. “The only change is, sometimes, you have to work a little bit harder to communicate with each other.”

Telecommuting, when properly implemented and balanced to meet the needs of a company, remains a worthwhile talent strategy, says David Lewis, president and CEO of Norwalk, Connecticut-based OperationsInc.

“The missing link we see in this area consistently is that companies are not training managers,” he says. “The problem we see in this space is that managers establish a higher benchmark and standard of behavior. You turn good macro managers into micro-managers if you’re not careful.”

Employee isolation, especially in cases where an employee might be working several states away and never comes to an office, poses another challenge, he says.

“‘Out of sight out of mind’ is a big problem,” he says. “You have to get managers in tune with how to go out of their way to include those individuals. If there’s an impromptu meeting, it should include a webcam.”

Aligning with some of the newly compiled research, Lewis says striking the right balance must be part of any telecommuting strategy, Lewis says.

“The knock on telecommuting is not on the strategy associated with telecommuting,” he says. “It’s purely and succinctly tied to poor execution because of lack of training and poor pre-thought.”

How to get an irrational person to listen to reason

The first thing you need to do to get an irrational person to behave rationally is to calm yourself down so that you don’t escalate the situation with your own irrational and emotional reaction.

If you’re viewing a person as irrational, it means they’ve already succeeded in getting you upset enough to take something they’re doing or saying too personally when you shouldn’t. When that happens, a part of your middle emotional brain called the amygdala will hijack you away from thinking rationally and responding accordingly. It does so by blocking you from accessing your upper rational brain to evaluate the situation.

Thinking of someone as irrational can mean you’re feeling as if they are intentionally acting in some way just to get you upset — and then you react by becoming upset. Alternatively, if you view them as merely not rational, and don’t take their behavior personally, you will be able to take your emotionality out of the equation.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” To a not-rational person, the world looks like whatever they perceive and then believe it to be, which then in their mind justifies their reaction. If, for instance, they grew up in a highly critical or even abusive home, your merely being direct with them can cause them to think you are attacking them.

Having been defenseless and powerless to protect themselves from the criticism or abuse as a child, it’s not irrational to promise themselves that they won’t put up with it when they’re an adult. But they’re not pausing to see that your directness is not about criticism, it’s about just getting stuff done, especially when time is of the essence.

After you’ve accepted the possibility that they’re not taking it out on you personally, it’s time to utilize the FUDO approach that I talk about in my new book, “Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life,” to help that person become rational. FUDO stands for: Frustrated, Upset, Disappointed, Outcome. Here are the steps to using it.

recite-mqmt4rStep 1: Frustrated. After you have told yourself to not take what the other person is saying or doing personally, and not react emotionally, let them vent or complain or whine or even try to bully you verbally (don’t put up with physical bullying, ever). Then say to them, “Wow, you really sound frustrated. What’s that about?” You use the word “frustrated” because most people will not become defensive about it, whereas if you were to say to them, “Wow, you sound really angry, etc.” many people will think you are criticizing and shaming them and will escalate.

Let them answer your question, and then employ conversation-deepeners when they use an emotionally charged word (usually an adjective or adverb spoken with hyperbole) and respond with, “Say more about [that word].” Let them vent or complain some more, and then go even deeper by inviting them to talk more with, “Really?” By doing this, you’re enabling them to get more off their chest and you won’t be defensive because you’re in charge of the conversation and you have a process (FUDO) that you’re following.

Step 2: Upset. After they’ve expressed much of their frustration, say to them, “And you also seem upset. What’s that about?” Then as in Step 1, employ conversation-deepeners to enable them to get their upset off their chest. Upset is a more palatable place to help them get their anger out where, again, they won’t be defensive about it.

Step 3: Disappointed. Wait until they have calmed down at least 50% after expressing their frustration and upset feeling. Then, pause, and in as empathetic and compassionate a tone of voice as you can use, say to them, “I’m guessing you’re also feeling disappointed either in the situation (or person) you just told me about, or maybe even disappointed in yourself if this is something that seems to happen too often. What might you be disappointed about?”

Again, apply the conversation-deepeners and you will hopefully watch them become much calmer. They may even tear up as the pain underneath all their frustration, upset and disappointment has a chance to break through.

Step 4: Outcome. This is the tipping point in the conversation where you get them to become more rational. Say to them, “Given everything you just told me about and also given the fact that you can’t change the past, what outcome would you like to happen now?” Let them answer, and when they finish, say, “This is too important for me not to fully understand where you’re coming from. Why that outcome?”  uploads_8c6ec232-10de-a104-6c03-6093356c8e54

Often, just using the word “important” can have a dramatically calming effect, because they are often frustrated and upset because they view the world treating them as if they’re unimportant. Let them explain whatever it is and respond with, “What do you need to do starting now to have the best chance for that outcome to happen, since doing anything to frustrate or upset other people is unlikely to make them want to help you, just like you didn’t want to do anything positive when you were feeling frustrated and upset?” From there, proceed to brainstorm with them on options and likely outcomes from each.

If you’re the one who tends to act irrationally to others, you can use the FUDO approach on yourself. If you do, don’t beat up on yourself for needing to do it. That will just get in the way of you becoming the rational person you always wanted to be.

By the way, you’re not alone if this does apply to you. The good news is that it’s never too late for any of us to grow up. And if we do, the people around us will be so grateful that we finally did it, you and I shouldn’t worry that they’re going to rub our faces in it.

But if they do, we can just FUDO them.

Mark Goulston is founder and co-CEO of the Goulston Group and author of “Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life (Amacom). Contact him at