“Don’t Rely on the Clicker to Save You If You Lack Social Intelligence.”

There certainly is something about a clicker.  Those helpful little clickers that we hold in our dear hands while giving a speech to a room full of onlookers .  Oh, the security that clicker brings when it is time to stand up in front of a crowd and give a presentation is only slightly comforting but what about when the speaker is devoid of any social intelligence?  Many of us have had horrible experiences with public speaking either by being unprepared ourselves or by being subject to someone speaking who is unprepared.  I myself have sang, preached and presented over 100 public speaking presentations and in the last 20 years I feel have improved my delivery only modestly.  Bring on the Intellectual methods!!

My first time in front of a real crowd was in 1999 when I marched up in front of a local church and sang a special song.  The song was called Born Again by Dorothy Love Coates.  My throat was so tight I thought I had swallowed a small car.   At that pivotal moment in my young life and with trembling fear, I tried to dig deep into my bravery and croon out that good ol’ gospel melody as planned.

The music started and I belted out the first line of the song.

Let me tell you about the comforter 
That the Bible said would lead you on……..

Well, guess what happened next? I forgot the next line.  Yes, I froze right on up and could not remember the words to the song.  I had practiced it for days.  I desperately looked at the minister and he just smiled at me as if to say “I don’t know what you are going to do but, let’s just stare at each other, awkwardly.”   I was mortified.  😦

By the time the main chorus rolled back around, I chimed back in with the lyrics and closed my eyes as tightly as I could to finish the song.  As I sat down, I was soaked in perspiration and I swore I would never do that again!  Well, I did.  Several times over may I add.  What I would not have given that day to have had a nice teleprompter and a clicker in my hand while taking the leap of faith to stand in front of that crowd during that first Sunday morning debut.  Enter, Preparation.

Fast forward sixteen years later and we have certainly improved in how we prepare ourselves to speak for a crowd, especially in the workplace.  Haven’t we?   Now-a-days, we spend hours creating fancy Powerpoint and Pretzi© presentations to present to detatched corporate executives who in many cases, are only listening to half of what is really being said.  Why is that?  It is not that our material is uninteresting.  It is that our social intelligences are rather dull. (and because we have a new appendage called a smart phone attached to our extremities).

Men especially are harder to keep focused than their female counterpart mostly due to their preoccupied personal agendas and the fact that they are not typically accustomed to multi-tasking.  It is the women in the Work Space that tend to personalize their role with more passion and when it comes to listening and teaching in most offices, women are the majority head count.  (Sorry guys.  I just call it like I see it.)

Social Intelligence is a new concept.  Briefly, may I add, that the social intelligence hypothesis states that social intelligence, that is, complex socialization such as politics, romance, family relationships, quarrels, collaboration, reciprocity, and altruism, (1) was the driving force in developing the size of human brains and (2) today provides our ability to use those large brains in complex social circumstances.  (*Cite Wikipedia for the italics).

What many presenters fail to realize is that unless you make a real sociable effort and notice what the audience is doing, saying, or feeling the moment you step up to the podeum, your presentation may fall a bit short of any hand claps and your efforts to educate are LOST.  And listen, for women in the work space, we get really irritated when we have spent hours staying late at work and making a nice presentation for all to enjoy, only to be ignored or snubbed by those parties that left the office at 3:45 during the week and brought nothing to the table by way of socialization in order to meet company goals.

In so many office settings today, our professional presentations consist of nothing more than less-than-thought-out red tape rhetoric and corporate vs. consumer driven propaganda and are stale in comparison to a good time.  And if you are one of the lucky ones who work in an ultra-controlled industry such as banking, staffing or healthcare, the last thing on the poor employees minds are what new standards the administration will drop on their already full plates.  This leaves presenters presenting to nothing more than to a room full of unhappy drones drying out in the desert sun seeking water from some crusty old well. Exit, the Dragon.

Presenters, use your keen sense of perception when trying to deliver material to others!  You are on stage to make connection with your fellow comrades and we all know that work spaces are in desperate need of lighter delivery of unpleasant rules and regulations.  Oh, and by the way, did the person who asked you to present the material take in consideration your social intelligence challenges before dumping their flat and misguided guidance into your lap to disseminate?  Are you sure your even cut out for this?  Make sure you have what it takes to read the audiences’ body language and you may just be able to turn boring reform material into fun and interactive progression.  It is as simple as adopting some of your own fantastic body language techniques, (along with some jokes) when delivering your communication.

Although I am still freezing up when it comes to any type of camera presentations, I am learning to find ways to increase my social intelligence.  I am taking classes to monitor my stage presence and better yet, to increase my brain size.  I enjoy standing in front of a live audience with lots of personal interaction but that is because I am a very energetic person and I love to see how people react to all sorts of spoken material.  But make no mistake.  I can still finding ways screwing up a very simple presentation because of my unwillingness to learn about social behaviors from the past.  I am merely human.  What I am learning, it is how you handle the embarrassing moments when you forget your line and there is not a clicker in site to save you.  Those moments are the ones that sets your prayer wheel in motion for the next big event.  People may not recall what was on slide number 13 but they will remember your sociable personality and that my friends, is another whole story.

(And next week we will discuss who has the bigger brain??  Men or Women.)

Jazzing up the Work Space for Women,

Holly Goodyear

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