Monthly Archives: May 2013

First Lesson from the Apprentice – the Art of Followership

Yes it’s back – a new series of the Apprentice and immediately it brings a lesson to mind – although I have a feeling this will not be the last!

The first episode of this series showed the two teams getting on with their first task except everyone wanted to show they were the best leader  – and consequently none of them made good followers.

If you’ve seen my “How to Talk to Aliens” presentation you may remember the grid of characteristics based on the original work by Merrill and Reid [1].

The common perception is that the Driver is the obvious leader but here is plenty of scope for different personalities styles to lead. Perhaps more importantly good leaders have an ability to spot when to practice good followership and let other people come to the fore. This is particularly important if you’re the boss and want your staff to work on their own initiative and without constant reference to you. Following is an excellent way of helping your staff develop with a little security from your support.

It may be surprising how powerful the characteristics, we don’t normally associate with leadership, can be.  Particularly the listening, relationship building and supportive skills are excellent for helping your staff grow and ultimately make you life easier.

For me being an effective follower can bring just as much success as being the leader.

So how did our Apprentices score – Nil Point!

[1] Personal Styles & Effective Performance : David W. Merrill , Roger H Reid
ISBN-10: 0801968992  ISBN-13: 978-0801968990

My Top Tip – Record Everything

It was great fun delivering my workshop on “Competitions – the driver for excellence” at the Division B contest a couple of weeks ago. One of the best parts of having to dredge through your experience to come up with your top reasons for competing is that it reminds you of the tips you’ve learnt, that have been so valuable, and yet you do them so instinctively now that you don’t always think of them. One such tip, for me, was record everything.

I was very fortunate when I started out in Toastmasters that the first club I joined was run by a top international speaker, Frank Furness. Frank was then and is still today a wonderful source of encouragement and support and when I decided to join the world of professional speaking the first thing I did was sign up on Frank’s Boot Camp which gave me a supercharged view of the speaking world, a resource of tools and templates that I still use today and loads of tips on how to get started.

However before I got to that stage the first thing Frank told me was that if I was serious I should get a voice recorder and record my speeches. What a fantastic piece of advice. Of course I complied and bought my first voice recorder straight away. It was useful far beyond I imagined and I see its three main uses as :

  1.  It lets you listen back to  everything you do. Not only does this help you understand the different   qualities that you possess in your speaking but you will also be able to  hear the audience reaction to your humour. In general video is best for  recording yourself as you get the visual and audio stream but it’s not  always convenient to set up a camera when you’re performing, but you can  always pop an audio recorder in your pocket and clip the microphone on  your jacket/blouse and pick up excellent audio. See below for my suggestions on which recorder to look for.
  2. Library
    Once you’ve got into the habit of recording everything you can build your  own library of all your speeches which is incredibly valuable. After I’ve finished each speech I create a folder containing any research notes  I used in developing the speech, a  “Speech Map” which is like a mind map (Tony Buzan’s IP) but runs vertically down the page, the original recording and an MP3 version, any feedback I received and any notes I gave out. This is then a complete record of everything I’ve done for that speech.  Then if I’m asked to deliver a talk I did for someone two years ago I just listen to the MP3 while reading the speech map and almost straight away it all comes back to mind. Since I rehearse my talks using all three senses (see point 3) then the recall is easy. You spend a lot of time working on each new speech so don’t throw it away by having no audio record of the talk.
  3. Rehearsal
    When I’m in rehearsal mode for a speech I record myself rehearsing as soon as I’m happy with the content and structure. Then I put the recording on my MP3 player and on a CD in my car. In the gym or in my car I have the talk playing. I don’t really learn it as I don’t actively listen in either  location, but the repetition in the background seems to install the content in my mind by a sort of osmosis. Couple this with writing my speech map (I’ll tell you how I do that in a later posting) and I’ve engaged my visual, audio and kinaesthetic senses in rehearsing the speech and ingrains it in my mind rather than it being a learnt string of text.

Which recorder should you get? Well that depends a great deal on what you want!

I use a Sony digital voice recorder. Mine is a very good quality and cost around £120 but I use that because I publish them afterwards and I want to record in near broadcast quality. However just for listening back to your speeches and saving them (see later) then you don’t need that quality and there are a whole range of them at Amazon if you follow the link below.

Sony Voice Recorders

If you look at something like the Sony ICD-BX112 for £22 I think it’s excellent value. It records in MP3 which is fine for just listening back to. Mine uses a special recording code to produce the broadcast quality and that’s what costs the money.

You will also need to pay around £7-£10 for a clip on mike. If you look beneath the Sony ICD-BX112 you’ll see a recommended Speedlink clip on mike for £7 which again will be fine. AT its highest quality, which I suggest you use, you’ll still get 22 hours of recording which should be ample!

You’ll also find that some smart phones have voice recorders built in but I’d check that they’ll stay on for the full length of your speech before you use them in anger.

Whatever you decide to use doesn’t  matter as long as you always RECORD IT!

I hope you find this helpful.

Best Wishes

Bob