Category Archives: Habitudes

Habitudes Chapter Summary (Part 4 of 4)

This is the final post in a four-part series as I read Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes. Click here to read the first post in this series, here to read the second, and here to read the third.

Chapter 13: The Encore Effect
The premise of this chapter is to give audiences more than they expect or to surprise them with something as attention is waning. In my work, I try to save a dynamic new tech resource or a lively discussion (e.g. talking about “homework” never gets boring) for after lunch. I know they’ve been busy all morning and now that stomachs are full, attention starts to slip. This is a good time to either introduce something with a “wow” factor, show a great video, or start a lively discussion.

Chapter 14: Seasons
This is an interesting metaphor: to use the idea of “seasons” throughout your presentation. I have often noticed that there is a point in my work when “flow” seems to happen. There is an excited buzz in the room, people understand the research and are excited to start diving into applying it to their work. I have learned to trust that this will happen…I suppose this is my “summer” or even fall “harvest” season. I have learned to patiently wait through the spring period of the presentation as people warm up to the ideas and begin to make connections. I had never thought of these stages as seasons, but I really like the metaphor.

Chapter 15: Golden Hour
This chapter encourages speakers to not robotically go through notes and scripts, but to instead watch the audience (or students) for that “golden hour” when they are ready for the most challenging part of your presentation or when they are most ready to hear the highlight of what you have to say.

Chapter 16: Skinny Chef
This final chapter focused on credibility. When I work with teachers, which I often do, one of the first things I talk about is a brief description of my background as a classroom teacher. I find that the audience first needs to know that I was an educator and that I have classroom and leadership experience before they are willing to listen to what I have to say.

My overall impression of this little booklet is very good. It’s a quick read with memorable messages and pictures. I think one of my first goals as a result of reading the book is to focus on the entertainment factor of our presentations. I think they could use some updating.

My next book for my personal learning goal will be The Learning Edge: What Technology Can Do to Educate All Children by Alan Bain & Mark E. Weston. Stay tuned for summaries & reflections.


Habitudes Chapter Summary (Part 3 of 4)

This is the third of four posts as I read Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes. Click here to read the first post in this series or here to read the second.

Chapter 9: Foyer to Basement
This chapter talks about the importance of making the first four minutes of your presentation compelling enough to entice people to stay for further details. In our work, we have many reasons to pay attention, but some of the most compelling “stories” to consider are the current drop-out rate (~30%), how society and our day-to-day life has changed but much of “school” has not, and forecasts of skills & knowledge our students will need when they leave us.

Chapter 10: Facebook or TV
This chapter focuses on the need for human, social interaction rather than sitting & listening to a speaker for 6 hours. I’ve gotten so much better at this from when I first started, (which is odd, considering that I was never a “lecturer” as a teacher), but I still have room to grow. It never fails that I watch so much learning happening as I walk around and listen to conversations or watch teachers work with a new technology and begin to create something they will use in their classrooms. I believe that lectures are fine to give quick snippets of new information or to orient the audience to the topic at hand, but it is the social conversations with the new information that cement the learning. I think this is important to remember with our students as well.

Chapter 11: The Thomas Nast Principle
I tied much of this chapter to what I’ve learned from reading Made to Stick by Heath & Heath and Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. Images speak more powerfully than words. Provide information on a handout or website, but use your presentation for powerful images.

Chapter 12: Bottled Water
This was an interesting chapter. It seemed to focus on the fact that audiences (and students) have changed. Whereas we may have once been more compliant to simply sit and listen, we now have a multitude of devices that allow us to look up a term or idea that the speaker has mentioned that we don’t know as much about. Or we may be sharing something we find of particular importance to our social connections. Accept that this is a new way of participating and create opportunities to use it. In my own work, I feel hindered when there is no wireless for me & the participants or when they don’t have their own devices. I feel much less able to use “teachable moments” in a paper-only environment and feel that there is little choice than to stick to a script. I imagine the audience must feel much the same.

Habitudes Chapter Summary (Two of Four)

This is the second of four posts as I read Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes. Click here to read the first post in this series.

Chapter 5: Find Your Mom
This chapter focused on tricks for overcoming nerves when speaking in public. I used to picture an audience full of people I knew would be supportive. It’s so easy to think of a room full of your nay-sayers…this is a sure-fire way to come across as nervous or defensive. Picture your “fan club” (so to speak) and you will appear more personable, confident, and approachable.

Chapter 6: The Faded Flag
Remember that the audience hasn’t been thinking about the topic to which you have paid so much attention. Keep your message simple and clear. Summarize your “big idea” and keep it at the forefront of your presentation. I sometimes have to remember that the people to whom I am speaking don’t live and breathe “CITW” everyday. I have to find ways to show how this work connects to their current initiatives.

Chapter 7: School Yearbook
Every audience member will question “What’s in it for me?” Make sure you give them opportunities and time to answer that question. I try to think about this quite a bit in my line of work. I talk about the importance of the research, but teachers in the audience most often want to know what it is I’m suggesting that they do and what they (or their students) will get out of it. This is important to address throughout our time together.

Chapter 8: Polka-dotted Pig
This chapter focuses on making your message memorable. I was pleasantly surprised to see Karl Fisch, a fellow Coloradan and creator of the Shift Happens presentation, referenced here. The most valuable part of this chapter, I thought, was the list of suggested activities to help presenters “jump-start” their creativity. I plan to revisit this list often. I had a great professor in my Master’s program who would bring music, don costumes, and assume characters to get his point across. Whenever I run into him now at conferences, I instantly smile because I remember how refreshing it was to be entertained as I was learning…an important thing to remember as a teacher and presenter.

Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits & Attitudes (1 of 4)

As part of my personal growth plan, I am reading Habitudes: Images that Form Leadership Habits & Attitudes by Dr. Tim Elmore.  I first came across this book when my supervisor forwarded this video (Every Presentation Ever: Communication Fail) from Growing Leaders to our team. (Funny and painful; I highly encourage any presenters or teachers to watch it.)

Always interested in becoming a better presenter and leader, I perused the Growing Leaders’ website and found that there was an accompanying book. The basic message of the book is that the key to better leadership and presenting to others is to constantly focus on your communications skills. This book provides reader-friendly, engaging advice to help you do that. In the next few blogs posts, I will provide a brief chapter summary, but I recommend anyone focusing on communication, especially presenters and educators, to buy the book ($15 on the Growing Leaders website). I should note that I first sent a draft of my post to the Growing Leaders organization and received an OK to provide these.

Chapter 1: Windows and Mirrors
The premise of this chapter is that, if you provide a window into your own humanity, your audience will see themselves in you (the mirror) and will better connect with you as a leader. The chapter has a nice chart that compares “public speakers” to “communicators.” Public speakers focus on their own image and message; communicators focus on their audience and making an impact.

Chapter 2: Number Three Pencil
Some presenters think that if they talk over the audiences’ level, they will appear more intelligent. The truth is, the best presenters (and teachers) make very difficult concepts appear easy. They make it accessible to their learners. KISS (keep it simple, sweetie) is my one-word summary for this chapter. I especially appreciated how the author described Winston Churchill’s brilliant communication methods to help the British through WWII.

Chapter 3: House on Fire
Take time to talk about why your topic is urgent before you launch into the details. We tend to use a similar quote in my work: “The audience won’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Chapter 4: Movies or Meetings
Instead of running your session as a meeting, consider what makes movies so engaging (conflict, resolution, drama). Use these components to communicate more effectively.

I will summarize chapters 5-8 in my next blog post.