This month’s post
Criticism is useless
One of the unconventional aspects of the Najberg Milne ‘system’ is the fact that criticism plays no part in it – neither from the course leaders, nor from fellow participants. Some might think that “in order to improve, we need someone to point out what we’re doing wrong, right?”. Well…no! The way we see it is that individuals are not defined by their defects or shortcomings. We each possess unique assets that will enable us to excel in all we undertake… as long as we give ourselves the means to do so! Analysing what successful people do – whether in the arts, sports, or business, whether famous or not), we observe a common trait: the ‘best’ focus almost exclusively on their strengths. They know what they are, they acknowledge them, and are passionate about developing them. They do not identify with their weaknesses: they’re simply not interested.
And the beauty of this approach is that these so-called weaknesses then fade away by themselves, overpowered by the formidable energy of the confidence that grows with every success.
Presenter of the month
When ‘everywoman’ captivates an audience…
Listen – and listen again – to Margaret Heffernan in the video below. She’s magnificent, for at least two reasons. First of all, she speaks with passion of a phenomenon called “voluntary blindness“, which lead us to close our eyes to the problems, the injustices or the crimes that touch us in private as well as in public. And secondly, she’s the living proof that you don’t need to ‘put on a performance’, speak fast, use punchy sentences or special effects to captivate your audience and hear a pin drop.
What’s in it for you?
The metaphor: a tool to understand each other
When designing a presentation, we advise you systematically to employ metaphors. This isn’t just a matter of style. The metaphor is, truly and literally, a “bridge across two worlds“*. It creates a space where those who don’t think the same “are able to meet up”*. And let’s face it: most of us, on this planet, don’t think the same!
When talking to someone, our main concern is to be understood. Yet if we just use factual or technical language, we often get stuck within an analytical dimension that rarely enables us to transmit the essence of a project, initiative, or issue.
Ultimately, as our listener remains detached and uninvolved, he or she fails to understand what’s at stake and doesn’t feel like paying attention.
In contrast, metaphors rely on images, symbols and analogies that speak to us all and enable each of us to engage with the ideas and feelings conveyed by the speaker. They are the “bridge” that allow us to join that speaker, understand her and feel involved.
* From: La métaphore, voie royale de la communication by Gérard Szymanski, InterEditions (2014).
It happened to them first
When we work on the voice with our participants, we are aware that beyond improving the ease with which they speak, the quality and power of their projection or their professional credibility, something much more fundamental is going on. To wit, the exercises in which we require them to engage systematically trigger giggles of embarrassment, distressed body language or a sudden burst of emotion.
In his magnificent book ‘Le Chant de l’Être’, Serge Wilfart explains that “when we leave adolescence to enter adulthood, we do so with a voice that isn’t our own, but the reflection of a fake personality“. The reason for this is that from infancy we’re subjected to innumerable pressures and sources of anxiety that effectively push “the ball of breath-sound energy, usually located in the belly” to move up to the neck, giving us a much higher-pitched and stop-start voice than our natural one.
Working on the voice, then, means not only to correct a physiological stance, but also to interrogate a psychological one. Through the vibratory effects of the exercises, which create deep resonances, we also get physically close to a more authentic personality that life normally forces us – to a smaller or greater extent – to keep under wraps…
And although our approach to voice training is gentle, the sessions are often experienced by participants as the first step in a liberating, awareness-raising process, the repercussions of which go far beyond presentation skills!
* From: Le Chant de l’Être by Serge Wilfart, Collection Espaces libres, Albin Michel (1994).
Wake them up!
For your next presentation, why not practise using a hook that will intrigue your audience? Take this opportunity to test a variety of genres: try a very short anecdote linked to your topic; a stunning statistic; a statement that goes against received wisdom; a dash of humour tailored to your audience; a topical issue that resonates with the themes to be addressed; an enigmatic sentence (to be elucidated later); an engaging – though not embarrassing – question… Have a go, play, experiment… And choose the most compelling version for you and your audience!
And what else?
Frugality – the new prosperity?
For this Frenchman born in India and living in the US, the future of mankind comes down to two ideas: (1) it’s preferable to want better than to want more and (2) man’s ingenuity knows virtually no obstacle when tasked to resolve his problems.
With his concept of frugal innovation, Navi Radiou invites us to re-visit our psychological limitations and socio-economic rationales in order to get on track for a healthier development.
Najberg Milne news
This is it: this month sees the launch of the new Anglo-French Najberg Milne site! Come and have an imaginary drink in our virtual home, and browse our new online abode to discover how we can contribute to your business.
Link of the month
What gets you up in the morning? It’s never too early to write your bucket list. Check out these two: