Be the Center of Attention

No public speaker wants to be known as the Official Presenter of the National Sleep Foundation (unless you actually work for the National Sleep Foundation) but I expect that you’ve heard candidates that could compete for the title. This month you’ll find some hints that will keep you out of that group.

Stay Curious,


Present It Like You Mean It  

My buddy Gene is a big individual — large in the sense that people have mistaken him for a vending machine with a head. If his job required making presentations (which it doesn’t) then he’d be hard to ignore. In spite of how you might like to believe that the content of what you have to say is all that matters, it’s not.  If you want people to pay attention to you, consider the following:

Public speaking causes anxiety for a lot of us, and everyone has their own peculiar apprehensions. Here’s a list of a lot of them and what you can do to calm your nerves (ask me about the Zipper Incident the next time we see each other)…

The Zipper Incident wasn’t a complete disaster, but there have plenty of situations since that could have been minor catastrophes. Like almost all crises, you won’t be judged by the bad thing that happens as much as you will by your reaction to the bad thing. Read on:

News Media is like Professional Wrestling  

There’s a lot of discussion about the popularity of fake news right now. According to Buzzfeed, top fabricated election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than the top true election stories from 19 major news outlets combined during the months leading up to the November election.

If bogus news sites that tell you exactly what you want to hear are your preference, then you’ll be happy to hear that there’s no foreseeable end to them. It’s much like going to your drunken uncle Bob for advice about your chest pains rather than your doctor. Here’s a nice analysis of how online information sharing has changed news:

According to a study reported by the Associated Press from a few months ago, 90 percent of Americans say it’s very or extremely important that media gets its facts correct. The remaining 10 percent that don’t much care kind of worry me — but with only 6 percent of the population saying they have confidence in media, trust in the Fourth Estate simply needs to improve…

It’s been a while since we talked about nailing your media interviews.The following story is a nice, concise overview of how to tell your side of the story well:

And while we’re on the subject of media interviews, even seasoned spokespeople can develop bad habits and vocal tics.  Here are a list of words and phrases to lose:

In Communication We Trust  

You are an expert in what you do. In fact, you know so much about your area of education and expertise that it may be impossible for you to imagine what it’s like not to know what you know.  You have a problem…you suffer from the Curse of Knowledge:

Now, knowing that you’re knowledgeable (got that?) and there’s an accompanying curse, here’s a short course on what to think about when communicating with regular people:

In the public sector, connecting with the citizens that you work for builds trust and helps your career and future job prospects. A lot of what happens in public service isn’t exactly thrilling, but making it meaningful to the people who are paying for it is more necessary now than ever before…

If you’re paying any attention to the news these days, then you’ll notice that the news analysts are all hyperventilating over every President-elect tweet, utterance and grunt without really knowing what any of it means.

Speculating can make you crazy (and rattle the stock market), which some analysts suggest is part of the new administration’s plan. But if you’re actually trying to communicate, then make your intentions clear:

Conflict Resolution Strategies & Conflict Resolution Techniques

Our job is helping you do yours. The Participation Company (TPC) partners facilitate, consult, coach and train public- and private-sector people with their community conflicts and public engagement programs.

Open registration International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Phoenix, AZ:  January 23 – 27
* Arlington, VA: February 6 – 10
* Austin, TX: March 27 – 31
* Orlando, FL: May 1 – 5
* Denver, CO: June 5 – 9
* Chicago, IL: June 26 – 30

IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation 2-Day Course:

* Austin, TX: April 27 – 28
* Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ: July 27 – 28
* Chicago, IL: August 17 – 18
* Denver, CO (pending)
* Arlington, VA (pending)

Click on to join us and watch for more courses IAP2-branded and other original courses in 2017. We continually work with a variety of clients to customize in-house training for their specific challenges.

You’ll also find lots more original ponderings from Debra Duerr, Wendy Lowe, Marty Rozelle, Doug Sarno and me at

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

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Remember: We waste our time scanning the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to…


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