Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TEAM Insights From TEENS

I recently spent 3-days working with 80+ High School juniors, and a few dozen fellow members of the San Diego Rotary Club, teaching the students about business and the free enterprise system (program named, “Camp Enterprise”).  The students—from a wide variety of schools, academic progress and socio-economic levels—were placed into 9 teams of roughly 9 students, along with 2 Rotarian facilitators, and a college Rotaract Club member.  The deliverable on the third day was a team presentation of their business idea (including defining the product, the market, management and staffing plans, money issues, and what the business planned to do to “give back”) to a panel of judges who would select which Team would receive (symbolic) funding.

My role was to move from team to team during their work sessions to support the facilitators and ensure everyone was on-track.  This role gave me a fantastic window into the minds of teens, as well as the unique ways in which teams evolve.  Join me for some of my favorite overheard samples:
Another problem right now is that whole Gas-thing.”(while brainstorming potential business ideas, and building off-of the “find the pain” marketing concept.  Gas in CA over $4.00 at the time.)
Who goes to the MALL???  Like, really OLD people.”(while deciding whether to go bricks-and-mortar or internet-based.  Who knew the mall wasn’t cool anymore?)
Facilitator asked, “You want to go with conservative numbers, or ambitious?”  The ENTIRE team responded in unison, “Ambitious!” (love the optimism!)
In their final team session—which occurred after their team presentation, but before the “winners” announced—they shared what they were thinking about…what they had learned during their Camp experience:
In the beginning, it was just…AGGGGHHHH!  Now, it’s AHHHHH…”
“Thought we weren’t gonna get through it…but we DID!”
“I’m stubborn.  It’s hard working with other stubborn people.  I’ve got to compromise, and be less stubborn.”
“So much fun…so much difficulty.  But…I think it worked out in the end.”
“I usually work alone…but, I liked the team.”
“Accomplished a LOT.  Couldn’t have done it without you guys.”
“I learned that with teamwork—you can do ANYTHING.”
“These have been the longest 3 days of my LIFE!”
“If we lose, we lose…BUT—we are still RED SQUAD!!!”
(persuasive case for the identity and connection potential of a team!)
It was an honor to work with these creative, persistent, curious and hard-working teens (as well as the talented and dedicated Rotary and Rotaract Club volunteers!).  Perhaps the most compelling insight I overheard was the one below—and the one that adults would do well to heed for themselves, as well:
“I usually just say what I want.  But, now I think about how the other person will HEAR it.”

[to SEE the Camp Enterprise experience, go here http://clubweb.rotary33.org/gallery83.html for photos of students participating in Camp]

Friday, April 1, 2011

Taking "Know Your Audience" to the Next Level

One of the prominent themes in Public Speaking courses is the idea of “know your audience.”  It is typically shared as a means to help you connect with--and identity with--your audience.  Are they engineers?  Scientists?  Sales professionals?  Mostly female?  Male?  Long-tenured employees, or new hires, etc.  I’d like to propose another layer of understanding your audience—one which can help you to better connect with, and engage, your audience from the beginning—one that attempts to get in their heads a bit more.
Once you know who the audience members are—30,000 ft view—it is helpful to begin to think about how they feel about things.  Here are a few questions to consider when preparing to be in front of the group:
*  What might they need from me?
*  What fears or concerns might be on their minds?
*  What biases might they have that could cloud their ability to hear my message?
*  What is at stake for them in regards to my ideas/changes?  What might they want to protect?
*  What might a successful outcome of my presentation look like from their point-of-view?
Of course, answering the following question is key, as well: What is the purpose or point of my presentation?  When I finish my delivery, what do I want the audience to be feeling, thinking…or willing to do as a result of my presentation?
The more clear you are on your answers to the questions above, the more able you will be to craft an Opening and content that will resonate with the audience, and minimize mental distractions on their part.  Your audience will thank you...