Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Energizing a room

While presenting at ProjectWorld yesterday, I was reminded again that energy in a room does not require extraordinary presentation skills or deep, wide information. Whenever people have a chance to make positive connections, to other people and to hope for the work they do, energy thrives.

Think about that the next time you are looking at a room of people on another rainy day during typically difficult circumstances. Most of the time we are not in crisis: we are just tired and grumpy and frazzled. Most of the time, we have spent too much time away from the sun and too little time feeling engaged. We mean well, and we lack energy.

The best way (I believe) to start is with a story. Stories are a beautifully inconspicuous way of waking up the senses and making connection feel like a good thing. A roomful of people listening to a story unwind some of the tension in their minds and find themselves strangely relaxed and focused.

Follow this up with a chance for people to share their own stories within clear limits and I guarantee the energy in the room will rise. The sharing of stories is always good, but the limits help because they allow everyone to anticipate that the sharing will be fair and that the demands on their attention will be manageable. Limits create focus and sharing stories creates engagement.

Presenters don't have to be amazing to do great work: they just need to nudge their audience towards feeling amazing.

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