The Voice for Insightful Leadership with Shelley Row, P.E.

Posts tagged "workplace"

You’ve been there: a dull presentation; a pointless meeting; a boring training program. And, maybe you’ve given a tedious presentation, presided over an unenthusiastic meeting or provided training when no one seemed engaged. It doesn’t have to be that way and the fix is surprisingly easy. Here are four steps to creating engagement and retention in your audience.

  1. Purpose. In my experience, far too little time is spent clarifying purpose. For a meeting, what is the one action you want from the meeting or the participants? For a presentation, what difference have you made for the audience one week or one month later? For training, what difference have you made for the audience one year later? Maybe they leave with their perspective shifted in a meaningful way, or they behave differently, or they conduct their work in a new way. Whatever it is, the key to successful engagement is clarity on the outcome.
  2. Knowledge. Once you’re clear on the purpose, what knowledge does the participant need to achieve the purpose? They may require specific education, awareness of key facts or development of core skills. Identify the essential elements of learning they need to achieve the purpose. Furthermore, make this part exciting. For example, if your presentation requires the knowledge of a specific location, make the map of the area one to remember. Using websites like you can make maps online to tailor your presentation needs, to make the potentially boring element of the presentation in fact the most interesting one.
  3. Application. Here’s the one big difference between what you did in the past and this new approach. For each element of knowledge from step 2, how can you help the participants (whether in a meeting, presentation or training) apply it in their work world? What questions can you ask to pique their interest? What discussion can you engage in that will cause them to think about application? When you present or run a meeting, it’s easy to think that you are the key person; however, the action is in the heads of the participants. Your job is to get them to think. Learning happens in their heads when they apply the new idea to their world. Retention comes from application.
  4. Reflection. It seems counterintuitive but an excellent way to increase engagement and retention is to provide a few minutes of quiet time at the end of the presentation, meeting or training. Don’t misunderstand. This is not nap time or time to check emails. This is intentional time for the participant to think about their new understanding. Questions may include: What does this new knowledge mean to your work? What will you do differently? What new realization do you have about yourself or your world view? These questions make your content personal to them. When it’s personal to them, they care, and they remember.

The next time you have an important meeting, presentation or training, try these steps. It is guaranteed to create engagement and retention because they do the thinking and that means they remember.

brain and heartHoliday shopping. Holiday cooking. Holiday travel plans. Holiday decorating. Holiday visitors. Holiday hubbub. It’s easy to get lost in the holiday this-and-that. In the midst of the holiday bustle, I challenge you to also reflect and plan but in a different way. Instead of cataloging accomplishments, reflect first on what you accomplished, then on how it felt as you worked toward those accomplishments. You might discover insights that impact your 2019 goals and how you work toward them.

For example, as I reviewed my 2018 accomplishments and considered my 2019 goals, I mused at how (or if) infotuition applies here. You’re thinking, “Infotuition?” Infotuition is the integration of thinking and feeling in leadership and life. Infotuition leads me to realize that it matters both what you do and how you feel as you do it.

Try this. Identify the goals you accomplished in 2018 of which you are most proud. You may want to separate them into work, personal, community and your spiritual life. Now, consider how you felt as you worked toward these goals. Be honest. Notice what the answers tell you. Here’s what I discovered.

Shelley’s 2018 work accomplishments: earned my Certified Speaking Professional™ designation, was named an Inc. magazine as a top 100 leadership speaker, created the Insightful Leadership brand, produced a new demo video, and engaged new clients.

As I worked toward these goals I felt: Proud and pleased with the growth of the work but busy. Really, really busy. Stressed and frazzled on some days. Barely enough time to serve clients and contribute to my community service goals.

My take-away? While I’m proud of my accomplishments and want to accomplish more in 2019, I intend to approach it differently so that I create more space in the day to be creative and to devote some time to other interests, too.

Now it’s your turn. Go ahead….list your accomplishments. There’s a space here.

My accomplishments at work are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals? (Relaxed, exhilarated, inspired, peaceful, realistic, frantic, proud)

My accomplishments in my personal life are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals?

My accomplishments for my community are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals?

My accomplishments in my spiritual life are:

How did I feel as I worked toward these goals?

What did you discover? Are you over-extending in some areas at the expense of others? Is the price you pay for accomplishment too high? Infotuition teaches that it’s just as important to consider how you achieve your goals as what you achieve.

With this in mind, write your 2019 goals together with how you’d like to feel along the way (relaxed, exhilarated, inspired, peaceful, realistic, proud or rested). Let that clarity color the approach you take to your goals and guide the atmosphere with which you surround yourself. Now that’s infotuition!

Photo Copyright : Jan Hruby

Years ago, when I led an office at the Department of Transportation, we invested in a 360 assessment for the top managers and me. I looked forward to the results because I appreciate getting others’ perspectives.  Or at least I thought I did— until I got the results.  The results showed me as two different people. Seen through the eyes of my peers I was similar to how I saw myself.  But the view as seen through the eyes of my staff was not pretty. I learned that I was great at staying focused on achieving our goals…at all costs. However, the staff, through their scores, showed me that the office atmosphere was like a cattle drive (go, go and go until we get there). The staff craved attention, connection and a sense of family. Work just wasn’t fun. I suspect it isn’t just my office that’s like that. Fun is not at the top of the list of most work environments. And yet, research shows that humor is a powerful tool in the workplace. Here’s why.

  1. Task perseverance. Research indicates that humor provides the brain a respite that reenergizes it for the next task – even tedious tasks. Consider this research. In a study conducted by Australian National University management professors David Cheng and Lu Wang, they found that people who watched a funny video clip before a task spent approximately twice as long on a tiresome task compared with people who watched neutral or positive but not funny videos.[i] Would your office benefit from a two-time increase in persistence with just a short break to watch something humorous? It’s time to rethink a few minutes for a YouTube break.
  2. Morale boost. A good laugh feels good. It’s a simple as that. Laughter can make a long, arduous and stressful day a little less arduous and stressful.  Imagine what it would be like to have a joke of the day at staff meetings or funny video of the day. Within a few minutes, people are smiling and feeling reenergized.
  3. Feeling of connection. Laughing together creates a shared experience that fosters connection. I recall one of my staff meetings that happened shortly after the movie “Up” came out. In that animated movie the dog, Dug, is happily talking (yes, talking) to his new friend when he sees a squirrel that jerks his head to the side (Google it… you’ll laugh…promise… cross my heart). In the staff meeting, I described the scene and did an imitation of the “squirrel” moment. I wasn’t trying to be funny but I still remember the laughter. We felt like a team for that moment – all from sharing a good laugh.

What can you do to cultivate laughter in your office? Give a prize for the best joke; show a 2-minute funny video once a week; delegate humor to the staff to find and share?  What about sharing the silliest selfies? Use your imagination to find ways to bring a good laugh into the workplace.  You’ll reap the rewards of connection, improved morale and enhanced focus on work. And enhanced focus will help to guard against the next “squirrel” distraction!


[i] Cheng, D and Wang, L. (2015) Examining the energizing effects of humor: The influence of humor on persistence behavior. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30, 759-772.

Copyright: warrengoldswain / 123RF Stock Photo