The Pilot’s Always the First One at the Crash

It usually happens like this…

The phone rings and someone says, “We need you to facilitate a public meeting. We have to do it; our managers have already decided the time, place and how it should be done. We know it’s gonna be bad but we need you to control the crowd.”  
Here’s my analogy to this kind of call: Hello, we’re plumbers and we’ve decided to build an airplane. We rode in one once so we know that it’s not a hard thing to do. Our managers had us make it out of wood and masking tape. We know that the wings are too big and that the engine is too small, but we don’t have time to fix it or redo it now. We don’t plan to ride in in this plane but we need you to fly it from here to Denver. We’ll wave when you leave and, oh, if anything bad happens, it’s you’re responsibility.

It’s the same call that I get from different people all too often, and my boilerplate response is usually “thanks, but no.” We facilitate some very tough public meetings, but it’s truly stupid to go out of your way to make them tougher than they need to be.
It’s sometimes difficult to explain to normal people what facilitators actually do, but my friend and colleague Bea Briggs at the International Institute for Facilitation and Change may have actually done it:

I hope that spring has made it to your house…see you again in a few weeks.     

That’s Not What I Meant

It’s common human arrogance to expect that what you say will be interpreted exactly as you intend it to be interpreted. The meanings of written and spoken words are constantly lost in translation. And to boot, we’re not very good at judging our own performances!

The best recipe for a persuasive presentation calls for a savvy mixture of problem, consequence, passion, imperfection, surprise, humor and a dash of wonder:

Or, if you’re looking for the fast food version of what works, here are six fundamental keys to making your presentations better:

Take my wife…Please! You might think that this next idea is on the lunatic fringe, but there’s some wisdom here. 
Great presentations have a lot in common with great stand-up comedy. Consider these eight pearls of wisdom…it’s an homage to one my heroes, the late great Jonathon Winters:

No News Isn’t Good News

For my government pals: I thought you’d be interested to know that Pew Research has found that only three percent of TV newscasts are now devoted to government and politics. This is down from seven percent in 2006. Forty percent of newscasts are now about weather, sports and traffic. And, it’s reasonable to assume that this three percent is mostly about government shenanigans and crises of some kind. 
The decrease in news coverage is the result of shrinking newsrooms. Cable news is now mostly cable talk, and legitimate journalism is increasingly demonized:
And, if you’re disinclined to comment about your problems, consider the following:

Wondering about Weiner

Popular Tweeter and former Representative Anthony Weiner is back in the news: he’s off and running for Mayor of New York City. Erstwhile South Carolina governor & famous Appalachian Trail hiker Mark Sanford is rebranding. And then there’s Lance Armstrong…

These apologists present us with an interesting set of questions:

  • Can they truly redeem themselves?
  • Are they really remorseful or just crafty?
  • Are we gullible?
  • Most importantly, does anyone really care?

It also begs the question as to whether apologizing is all that it’s cracked up to be, or whether there is remedial power in just holding a grudge.

If you’re interested in this subject, you’ll find the following collection worth reading:

Making meaningful apologies:

The power of apology:

Why not apologizing is a whole lot better for your ego:

Is it reasonable (or even healthy) to forgive and forget?

Training and Coaching Workshops for 2013

Public anger, opposition and mistrust have changed the rules of engagement. The two-day Emotion, Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation workshop is hands-on, effective, and has never been more important. 

The IAP2 Public Participation Certificate course is for people who manage public involvement. You’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, why and what to do about it. Please join us for one of these:          

IAP2 Public Emotion and Outrage class:

  • NEWLY ADDED July 1/2 in Denver/Longmont
  • September 5/6 in Chicago
  • October 10/11 in Calgary

IAP2 Certificate class:

  • July 22 – 26 in Milwaukee
  • October 28 – November 1 in Chicago

We customize these workshops for your in-house group to give you the cultural change, strategy and tactics necessary to move your project forward. Call me for details.

For existing U.S. class registrations click on:

For existing Canada class registrations click on:

For custom workshops call 602-266-5556

A newly discovered favorite quote:

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Please pass this on to someone who you think might benefit from one of these workshops or would like to start getting this newsletter (we never SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy).

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