If you hate presentations, you’ll love this…

The hog and the boy

Have you been handed an awkward burden?

You’ve been handed a burden, which seems to have already decided where it wants to go: yes, someone’s dumped a presentation on you, and if you’re really unlucky, they’re filled with the words and slides of another.

Your stomach feels like a cement mixer as you’re launched into the pit of anxiety that threatens to swallow you up.

Actually, a certain amount of nervous energy can sharpen the senses but you want to control them, not have them control you.

So here are 7 ways to make nervous energy work for you and make presenting – dare I say it – enjoyable.

Numbers 2 and 7 can be particularly useful in life, not just presentations: not that presentations are part of something other than life.  You’re not sailing on the Styx: just speaking to a bunch of people, for heaven’s sake.  You can do it.

Read on if you want to save your heart rate for the gym.

Someone else contolling your presentation?

Someone else contolling your presentation?

  1. Don’t be someone else’s glove puppet – got someone else’s 76 tedious slides to deliver? Define the key message, make sure you make maximum 9 points to support it, then chuck, change or skip the slides you don’t need. Your job is to communicate a message, not be a mouthpiece for someone for a bad messenger.
  2. Reframe – when asked to do a presentation, many consider this a huge bane. After all, it’s not the core part of their role, unless they’re a professional presenter. So tell yourself: ‘I do not do presentations. I do dialogues, with one person speaking most of the time.’ We all know how normal that kind of conversation is.
  3. Breathe – when you’re nervous, your breathing may tend to go up to your chest, this ‘upper thoracic’ pattern generates more adrenalin, which can make you short of breath and increase anxiety further. By breathing from the stomach, or ribs around the centre of the torso, you’ll achieve greater calm.
  4. Dump the script – trying to remember a script can not only makes your presentation a stressful experience but can also make you look and sound rather wooden. You need some spontaneity in there so using a mind map, showing your points and how they relate to your main message, would give you a clear pathway through your content
  5. Not a herd of heads, but humans – chatting with members of your audience beforehand means that you’ll already have a connection amongst those faces. As a result, that anonymous sea of faces disappears and is replaced by what it really is: a group of individuals who really want to listen to you. And I know this for a fact because it’s pretty questionable that anyone would want a speaker to be unengaging, unless they need to catch up on their sleep.
  6. Don’t introduce yourself – you may not have to do this anyway, if someone is introducing you, but in the spirit of a normal conversation, it’s uncommon for a stranger to approach you with ‘Hi, my name is Jo Bloggs and I’m the R&D Director for Sky-high Ltd.’ You’d forget the name anyway because there’s too much processing going on in our minds when we first meet people. Have you ever gone out and started talking to someone, then half an hour later it dawns on one of you to ask the other’s name? What you did was engage, just like in a natural conversation. To do this in a presentation, you can use the Spice Rack, techniques of engagement. These include a picture, prop, anecdote or quote. Then, and only then, introducing yourself would be timely.
  7. Transfer an experience – when speaking in public, you may need to tap into a sense of confidence. Sometimes, it might be something like a feeling of freedom or control. Once that the emotional quality has been pinpointed, recall a time when you felt this. By summoning up the atmosphere and senses around this experience, you can then use a physical trigger to immediately invoke that sensation.





Are you guilty of these 3 common team pitch mistakes?

A pitching team you'd buy from?

A pitching team you’d buy from?

Some team pitches look like they’re been fronted by The Three Stooges.  Each one does a fine job of messing up for the others.

If you have to pitch with at least one other person,  it’s vital you look like a team and not a bunch of individuals from different departments,  blindly patching it all together.

Actually, that isn’t fair.  Sometimes teams get to patch it together on the 30 minute taxi ride to the client.

So here we go with top 3 oversights in a team pitch:


1. Guessing games for the customer

One person often ‘does an intro’,  then you get other members of a pitching team standing there like skittles.

During a monologue about how John Mcdougall was inspired to start up Dynamic Dynamos from staring at a bevelled paperweight in 1952,  the client is pondering who that bloke is with the red brogues.  While the audience is wondering who does what too much of their attention is left behind.

The team needs tie that curiosity up at the top,  by saying right upfront:

i)  who does what;
ii) how they help with the end product / service


2. Not referring back to others

Brynne from Business Development talks about her department.  Jake then  discusses IT.   Neither of them reference how they interact with each other.  So is there a commercial view of the technology?   Who knows.   Let us try and play ‘fill the gap’  with the content.  No,  let us not,  because it’s too much effort.

To look as if you’re cohesive,  picking up on what someone else in your team has said gives the impression to the potential client that not one but several of you have got their back. You’re a project that a collective has deemed worthy of their attention.

It takes just a few touches to give the client that warm glow of a customised solution but this is one often overlooked.


3. Not knowing what the members of your team are going to say

Naturally,  this ends badly.   No one needs curve balls from their own team mates.   Here are the 3 manifestations of these nasties:

i) Omission
you thought someone else was covering that point. Since that point may deal with the customer’s doubts about scalability,  that’s going to be lingering in the air and it needs to be dealt with sooner or later.

ii) Duplication
Probably the least awful as repetition can be used to emphasise a point.

iii) Contradiction
The worst.   Contradicting team mates in front of potential customers is a form of psychological pugilism.   This is not good for harmonious relationships back in the office although it is excellent for perpetuating distrust from the client and between the team.   If that’s what you want,  way to go.

If you care not for this kind of disharmony,  a mind map or list of content for everyone to cover, could save some shame.

Not only can you validate each others’ content but you’ll also be able to cross sell services and increase the likelihood of a buy.


So what specific problems can you add to team pitches?
Sharing is caring so please let us know.
Of course,  sharing may just be offloading and that can feel good too.  So go ahead and vent / share…

3 reasons you blank and what to do about it



If blanking had a picture…

Blanking during a presentation is the mental equivalent of your clothes falling off in front of the audience.  It’s the moment you stop speaking, as does your ability to think.  I don’t mean, ‘think clearly’, but actually the ability to think at all.


This is sometimes accompanied by the disturbing sensation of floating out of your skin to watch your ‘other self’ helplessly freeze in front of the audience.




The reasons we blank

Here are the three most common reasons for this brain-jam:

  1. Awareness of being looked at:
    sudden awareness that we’re being watched by countless pairs of eyes,  judging performance and personality.
  2. Trying to remember a script:
    the total stress of trying to remember lines, when bullet points acting as ‘landmarks in the road’ would have done fine.  Unless you’re a politician or giving police reporting on the progress on a crime, ditch the script.  It’s a security blanket.
  3. Unnatural introductions:
    beginning a presentation with your name often feels like the equivalent of opening your coat to reveal a target: ‘you know who I am now, so you know who to hit’.

According to reviews in Scientific American, research has recently discovered that stress impacts on the pre-frontal cortex.  The pre-frontal cortex aids short-term memory, concentration on the task in hand and choosing appropriate actions.  It’s the command centre of the brain.

Under stress, the captain of the command centre can misread a situation as one of danger, triggering the hypothalamus, the primitive part of the brain.  The hypothalamus will, in response, release adrenalin causing a ‘fight or flight’ response.

This isn’t very useful if your audience want to understand how the new IT change programme is going to support the company strategy.


How to deal with ‘blanking’


I’ve read ‘Tell yourself you’re fab/the audience loves you/your presentation is amazing”, and other such nonsense.  Well, I’ve had stage fright and I can tell you this: you can’t tell yourself anything because that part of the brain is out for lunch, given up, shut down.  Dog gawn.


  1.  Gesture:
    Gesture to draw out words from your head – something will occur to you until you find the next point.
  2. Move your feet:
    Move from one position to another. If you move you’ll breathe, and this will clear the thought process, buy you time and make you look more confident.  As this action usually builds in a natural pause, it will add presence and control, even as your mind is flipping like a Roladex.
  3. Mentally shift:
    Do what you do when you lose your house keys: retrace your steps.  Recap what you said when the pre-frontal cortex was in control and it will lead you to pinpoint what to say next.  You can do this aloud: the audience will often help you! As it happens to everyone, it actually helps you to become more engaging.  (Please note, however, I’m not encouraging you to make a habit of this.  There are other ways to be engaging!).


Now, when you look at the reasons for blanking, such as scripting, there are many ways to avoid it in the first place.

Using theatre improvisation techniques is essential for confident presenting: very little will phase you as the command centre of the pre-frontal brain will always be in control, increasingly unphased by the unexpected.  It won’t go AWOL: you can avoid brain-jams and out of body experiences.

The habit of risk taking in this way, breeds a sense of calm and trust that won’t be read as a disaster situation but as an opportunity to make your point and let your personality shine through freely.



How to stop shaking when you present

Get shaky arms and legs when presenting? Here’s how to stop the quivering and feel freer.

10 Myths of Presentation and Public Speaking

  1. images[2]I’m better off winging it
    The problem with improvisation is that it’s terribly haphazard!  You’ll need some landmarks to stop you going off track.  A mind map can help to plan points without scripting.
  2. I need to write out my full speech before I speak
    Do you?  What a hassle!  A script can take longer to write than notes and is much more difficult to edit.  Even more importantly, we don’t speak as we write:  the language may be different and sentences are usually shorter
  3. …and then memorise it
    Hence the cause of crippling nerves and blanking out!  Make life easy on yourself: remember where you’re going and where you’ve been and you’ll find it easier to know where you are now without having to memorise anything
  4. Nerves are bad for Presentations and Pitches
    Actually, if you can control your nerves instead of letting them control you, the nerves become adrenalin.  In time, you’ll learn to enjoy the freedom of speaking in public (yes, I did say ‘enjoy’!).   Techniques to do this, include breathing, anchoring and visualisation.  More about this in future blogs.
  5. Make eye contact
    Merely looking up from your cue cards or taking a break from your PowerPoint is not making eye contact.  Getting a response from people by looking at them is.
  6. Begin with a joke
    Unless you are a comedian, try something a bit safer.  There are other, surer ways to make your audience comfortable and get a response, like those on the spice rack in this brochure.  Humour is often in integral part of a familiar situation but shouldn’t be treated as a technique of its own.
  7. You can’t change your voice
    Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint.  But you can change it by enlarging its scope in range, speaking on different pitches, making it resonant and using different rhythms, and clarifying your articulation.  It takes training and practice.
  8. Always introduce yourself at the beginning
    Think of how many times you’ve been out  and got talking to someone.  10 minutes later, you realise you don’t know each others’ names.  A presentation or pitch works the same way:  first grab attention, then say who you are.  It also makes you calmer as it reflects what we naturally do when chatting to people.
  9. ‘He’s a natural.’
    Just because a person has the ability to get up and talk before a group of people does not necessarily make this person an effective speaker.  If a speaker is effective, s/he has most likely prepared over a length of time, gathering creative, pertinent material that have personal importance.  Then s/he puts orders those thoughts clearly, using methods to engage an audience.
  10. Squeeze your buttocks
    OK, maybe this isn’t a common myth but I heard someone suggesting this during a radio interview. How I wish he’d been on television so that we could see him walking around like he had a bad case of haemorrhoids.  The rationale for buttock squeezing is that it stops women getting shaky legs when speaking and men should squeeze their thighs, for the same reason.  The speaker obviously wasn’t a performer otherwise he’d have used some more useful methods.

If you want to know how to stop shaking limbs, you’ll find the answer right here!

Give them a Wallop!

Sock it to them!

Sock it to them!

Getting cut short in your prime

You get in front of senior management, having prepared your 30 minute presentation, having practised your body language, eye contact and tricks to engage the audience.  You’re ready to go: all psyched up and beating with adrenalin.

OK.  That’s what you imagined.  One participant on my 2-day Knock Out Presentations course asked:

“What happens once in the Board Room when they’re running late, like they always do.  You’re 10 minutes from the end of the meeting and you’re asked to spit out your message there and then”

Here’s what you can do:

  • Tell them exactly what you want – but without the rationale you’re more likely to get refused;
  • Whizz through your slides, talking twice as fast.  You’ll sound like Mickey Mouse on amphetamines and they’ll take in nothing.
  • Chuck your handouts across the table – if you’re lucky they’ll go through them before forgetting about the contents. The worst scenario is that the pages will be made into paper planes flying towards the recycling bin.


Walloping the Board when you’ve little time

Instead, try this technique, ‘The Wallop, Down, Up, Please’ approach. Before I explain, I would love to take the credit for this but must, reluctantly, give this to Andy Bounds author of the ‘Snowball Effect, Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable’. My pride is dented but I hope to get Karma points for not saying it’s my own original invention…

Here we go:

1. Wallop – Give the impact of the situation, usually negative. This hits the ‘pain’ button, telling the audience the impact of not doing something;

2. Down – Make the situation worse (“And, as a result, this will also happen…”);

3. Up – Give the alternative that improves the situation;

4. Please – Now make your request



And an example:

1. Wallop – We’re spending £230,000 per month on X

2. Down – Even worse, the number will increase over the next couple of months. Projected needless waste will cost £2.8 million this year. This will increase to over £5.6 million in the next couple of years.

3. Up – We can reduce these costs by over 75% – that’s a potential saving of over £4 million – by implementing x (Spend 2-3 minutes explaining your proposal, using ‘What, Where, When, How)

4. Please – Given that successful implementation could deliver £4 million of savings, please can I ask you to Action X?


(Thanks, Andy, for your example. You may nick my model below for your next book).
A similar model is the PROEP, so you’ve got two tools you can use when they say “Sorry, but could you just give us a quick overview. We’ve run out of time.”

You can find the PROEP structure here.

What do you do when you need to get your point across quickly?

Got a request you want to wedge into this structure?

Let me know in the comments!

8 ways to get what you want from presentations

follow uupYou’ve just finished a fantastic presentation and people are gurgling with joy about you/your content/your services.

You get back to base expecting the phone to ring, your diary to be heaving at the seams and working out whether you need an office in New York and Hong Kong.

But it all falls flat as a pancake. Nothing. Nichts. De Nada. And you think ‘Was I imagining that enthusiasm?’

It’s very likely you weren’t but we’re goldfishes: as soon as we come away from the context of the talk, we remain with the shadow of the impact, not the full-on spirit of the moment. This means that you need to be proactive, if you want to pick up on opportunities to:

1. gather support for a plan;

2. acquire further knowledge or spread your own;

3. win business;

4. build networks of influence.

What I’ve gathered here are 8 ways you can create opportunities to get what you need.

The presentation may feel like a main course but often it’s the starter: the prelude to actually doing business. In conferences, you may have so many speakers that they all blend into each other.

Make yourself stand out and keep in the minds of your audience and influencers. Here are several ways that you can do this:

  1. use to post slides to them (the transcript of the slides appears underneath);
  2. post a survey. can do this easily and send it out to social networks;
  3. send an opt-in form to register interest in products or services. Research has shown that by getting people to indicate interest before you start ‘the sell’, sales can increase by as much as 50%;
  4. write a blog or, even better, have a member of the audience write and post one for you if you don’t have time. Sharing your knowledge with the audience, means that you can then catch it in your own blog, in the time it takes to buckle a belt;
  5. offer a follow-up webinar with a small group, individuals who want to go further into the details;
  6. arrange one to one’s with interested individuals or individuals you’re interested in meeting up with (scanning the audience list for opportunities before the presentation will allow you to catch your prey);
  7. catch names of attendees and have them on your mailing list so you can keep them as warm leads, instead of waiting for them to go ‘cold’;
  8. set up and invite attendees to a forum – online or offline – to exchange ideas and opinions about your content;

One or any combination of the above can help you to benefit from the opportunity of presenting so, no matter what happens on the day, you can still seize the moment and maintain the momentum, and who know: New York and Hong Kong may just be starting points…next, The World!


547 confusing graphs – yippee!

graphThe Devil’s in the Detail

It’s so easy to get trapped in the detail when that’s how you earn your money.  So when presenting to an audience, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a financial analyst, engineer or consultant, PowerPoint can easily become an onslaught of bullet points, dry data and confusing graphs: all qualities that muddy your message.


When a picture says a thousands words – or numbers

Research has shown that ideas are much more likely to be remembered if they are presented as pictures instead of words or pictures paired with words.

Psychologists call this the Picture Superiority Effect (PSE), the point of which is thus:


If information is presented orally, people remember about 10% of the content 72 hours later. That figure goes up to 65% if you add a picture.


Visuals that work

A picture saves a thousand words:


Suzanne, the IT Director of a national retail organisation, knew her audience of in Marketing and Business Development where going to be challenging.  She flashed up her slide of huge white rhino.


“So often,” she began, “The IT department are seen like this rhino:  thick-skinned, short-sighted and charging all the time.”.

A barrage of data versus one point

If you’re presenting to those dealing with data every day, seeing more of it in a presentation, can give that audience sort of  data death.  If you’re not there to persuade your audience to act on something, then it’s a report, not a presentation.  Your audience want to see the key message, the one point.

One utilities company that I was training, needed to do a presentation to their investors.  Their point: invest in us: we’re on the up, and you’ll see returns, guarded against risk.

It was a team ‘performance’ to a very financially astute crowd.  They had this brilliantly colourful slide of a ship and lifeboats, a dynamic cartoon, which was a great metaphor for the way they were operating.

We crafted a message around this picture that had such an impact on the audience, that the share prices shot up (so it wasn’t a picture of the Titanic, that’s for sure).

Numbers were mentioned in a way they got remembered but there wasn’t a bar graph or pie chart in sight and the investors loved the refreshing and memorable way this team conveyed a message clearly, with humour and the evidence to prove their success.

There’s nothing to prove so put it away!

If you feel that you need to put so much data on your slides, ask yourself if there’s perhaps a little urge to prove that you’ve done your homework as an analyst/number cruncher?

By shoving so much detail in your audience’s face, they are not only more likely to forget what you’re talking about but why.  The information you give to your audience needs to make a difference to the world in which they function.

If people want more detail, wave your report at them, but don’t give it out until the end.  That way, they’ll know you’ve done your homework, and that they can get to the nitty gritty when they want, but you won’t be hearing the rustling of pages while you present your message.

When you give the facts that your audiences need to make the changes that will impact their world, you’ll be seen as an expert and a trusted advisor.


What’s the best use of visuals you’ve seen?  Comment below and we’ll swop tips!

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‘You’re a fake: you’ll go far’

Stress levels and power poses


Strike that pose!


Amy Cuddy a social psychologist lecturing at Harvard Business School, has proven that you can fake it until you become it.  In experiments conducted with Dana Carney, she proved that striking ‘power poses’ for just 2 minutes before an interview, can increase the projection of self-confidence and the chances of being hired.  This is basically how the experiment went:

1)    Subjects had to prepare a 5 minute presentation about their dream job before a job interview, in which they were to be evaluated, filmed and hired on the strength of how they appeared on camera.  At this point, some people develop shingles…

2)    They then had to convince 2 evaluators why they thought they were suited to this dream job without lying or misrepresentation.  If you think this is stressful, hold on, it gets worse.

3)    The evaluators were trained to show no non-verbal expression.  This would usually spike the stress hormone, cortisol.  For many, this is like sinking in ‘social quicksand’;

4)    The interview was filmed and watched by two further evaluators who assessed the performance of the interviewees, or masochists, whichever term you find more accurate.

Interviewee Preparation:

5)    Apart from the requirement of remaining conscious throughout, the interviewees prepared the speech and were then split into two groups.  There was the control group and one that performed 2 minute ‘power posing exercises’, holding 2 such postures for a total of 180 seconds.

All exercises were performed before the interview, rather so that interviewees weren’t labelled insane…


Those that were chosen by the evaluators, who were totally unaware of the interviewee preparation and control group, were those that stuck the power poses before the meeting.  Now, that doesn’t mean that the power posers walked in like cowboys or Wonderwomen.  What happened was that they simply manifested a comfort in their own skin, and real zest.

It is these latter two factors, that further research has shown, that are the sole qualities that can win pitches.  Content matters of course, but it pales into less significance in the presence of a lack of awkwardness and the presence of enthusiasm.

What this means for your Pitches, Presentations and Interviews:

Preparing for even 2 minutes before a pitch, presentation or interview can change your behaviour.  Here’s how you do it:

  1. Before an interview: stand up in the waiting room.  Moving around will help with the nerves and when you’re being fetched, you’re not peering over your I-Phone, hunched and looking up like an abandoned puppy, but you are literally and metaphorically on the same level as your interviewer, from the start.
  2. Ensuring that you do a posture check, checking that you’re shoulder are low, back straight, eyes straight ahead and torso open will make you feel more confident than when you’re hunched and looking down.
  3. Space, power and status are related:a)  in a presentation, you can control your nerves rather than have them control you simply by moving around.  This releases energy, ridding you of shaky voice, hands and legs, as well as projecting an appearance of self-assurance.  Weirdly enough, you start to feel that self-assurance.b)  in an interview, pressing yourself against the desk like in the picture below can make you feel like you’re in combat with the interviewer.

    It can also give your the appearance of a school child hauled up in front of the head teacher.   Your breathing will also more likely to be around the chest area, which generates adrenalin, making it more difficult to control nerves and shakiness in the voice and body:

    The position below will help you to breath deeper, giving you a steadiness and confidence:officechairanddesk2You’ll also have the room to be more physically expressive, avoiding whacking the desk when you need to use gesture.  For panel interviews, simply move the chair back further from the table for the same reason and so that you don’t have to turn your head 180 degrees like some horror film puppet in order to address the panel. And lastly….

  4. Smile.  Even a fake smile, such as the one you make when you hold a pencil between your teeth, will generate serotonin, the feel-good hormone.  It also gives your voice a lift when speaking so you sound more upbeat as well.  Instant feedback to which you and others will react.


These small tweaks will create big changes in your behaviour, which in turn, will create different outcomes, so your body language can, in the most subtle of ways, change your life.

For more information and illustrations of power poses, see Amy Cuddy’s 17 minute video below.  At 11:11 mins, she talks about the interview experiment.

Sticking Your O.A.R.S. In

A gentle steering vs. a harsh kicking


Trenton Oldfield, the protestor who jumped into the River Thames disrupting the annual Oxford/Cambridge race in 2012, must have been extremely grateful for the skillful steering of the boat and the beady eye of the cox, that helped him to maintain his head, even though his brains had obviously sunk somewhere deep into the River Thames. 

This clever negotiation of obstacles appears in Motivational Interviewing, which is based on the skill of using O.A.R.S.,  that look slightly different to the ones that negotiated their way around Trenton’s head.  O.A.R.S. stand for:

Open Questions, Affirmative Responses, Reflective Listening and Summarising.

Motivational Interviewing (M.I.) is not so much a zip in a power boat but more a gentle steering to get someone to change their behaviour, or as, in Trenton’s case, keep his head.

There are times are times when a sharper kick may be called for as in a ship-building yard for an oil company: “Get your hard hat on!” is best delivered as a curt reminder than woven into a half-hour feedback session.

Getting a colleague to be more ‘team spirited’ may need a lighter hand. More recently, I was told to help a director in IT consultancy to be more available to his staff. Tricky business, commanding people when you have to keep rapport, so here are the fundamentals of M.I., a management skill that can help you gently transform behaviour.

Note that the elements that make up M.I. can be used in any order.

The Elements of Motivational Interviewing (M.I.)

Open Questions

Closed questions can be useful and open ones, which provoke answers fuller than one word responses, build momentum and help to explore change more fully.  For example, ‘Do you feel you deserve the promotion?’, will provoke a different level of answer than ‘What makes you feel that it’s time for a new role?’


  • Uncovers hidden agendas
  • Discloses blocks

Examples of Open Questions:

  1. What’s been happening since we last met?
  2. ‘What triggered this meeting today?
  3. How can you help yourself with…?

Affirming Responses

These are statements and gestures that recognize a person’s strengths and acknowledge the desired behaviours or moves towards those behaviours, no matter how big or small.  By emphasising the positive attributes, you build up the individual’s confidence to change.

Advantages of Affirming Responses:

  • Affirming Responses can help build trust. If you are trusted, you are more likely to get to the bottom of issues and tackle the oft-underlying issues that lurk between the surface and are the foundation for the ‘stated’ reasons.
  • Such responses can make are encouraging and show recognition of a person and their abilities and/or efforts. If you’re trying to change behaviour.
  • The use of ‘Affirming Responses’, will be more likely to create that transformation.

Examples of Affirming Responses are:

  1. You’ve clearly made a lot of effort.
  2. I appreciate you were willing to share that with us.
  3. If I were in your shoes, I don’t know if I could have managed nearly so well.
  4. You’ve tried very hard to make things happen.
  5. I’m really impressed by the way….

Reflective Listening

At its simplest, Reflective Listening simply means repeating key points or phrases.  You may think that parrotting back what’s just been said could sound a bit moronic but, unless you overuse this method, it will rarely seem so because it prompts the speaker to either reconsider what they’ve just said or elaborate on it.

Rephrasing, paraphrasing and reflecting back feeling, are also forms of Reflective Listening.

Advantages of Reflective Listening:

  • Builds up empathy in the conversation by showing understanding
  • Ensures you don’t react to something that you’ve misinterpreted but getting clarification
  • By demonstrating recognition of the current situation, you’ll be helping the other to commit to change.

Examples of Reflective Listening are:

  1. So you feel…
  2. It sounds like you…
  3. That must be…/What a….!

Summary Statements

You reinforce what has been said, and prepare the conversation to move on to another subject.

Advantages of Summary Statements:

  • Verify your facts or get agreement to action.

Examples of Summary Statements:

  1. This is what I’ve heard. Tell me if I’ve missed anything.
  2. So if we look back at what’s been happening so far, would it be fair to say…
  3. You mentioned…and how…have I got this right?

Sealing the Commitment to Change

The statements below are examples of ‘change talk’, where the person knows that a change is necesssary:

  • It can’t go on like this.
  • I wish things were different.
  • I really need to look at how we’re going to reach those targets.

If you hear this kind of talk you can use:

Methods for Evoking Change Talk:

* Asking evocative questions
“What worries you about your current situation?”

* Using the importance ruler (also use regarding client’s confidence to change)
“On a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 is unimportant and 10 extremely, how important would you say it is for you to_____?

* Exploring the decisional balance
“What do you like about your present pattern?” “What concerns you about it?”

* Elaborating
“What else?” Ask for clarification, an example, or to describe the last time this occurred.

* Questioning extremes
“What concerns you most about? What are the best results you could imagine if you made a

* Looking back
What were things like before?”

* Looking forward
How could you improve the way things are?

* Exploring goals and values
“What things are most important to you?”

Ultimately, instead of going in for the kill with advice, or threats (thinking of an ex-boss here!), the other person will have been directed to ‘own’ their solution. We’re more likely to change if see, feel and state that need rather than if someone tells us. Encouraging that dynamic, can be draining for managers: it sets up the interaction of disciplinary parent to their naughty child. Put the time in on your O.A.R.S. for the boat to gain it’s own momentum and allow you to get on with other things.