Hypnotizing Chickens

There is an art to giving a presentation when your personal goals are:

– Deliver exactly what is requested, expending the least amount of effort necessary to do so.

– Impart confidence in your audience that you know what you are doing.

– Walk away with ZERO follow-up responsibilities.

This morning i was on the hook to give a presentation to a working group of scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds, including the high-level corporate drone whose presence had my Director digging his boxers from his butt-crack last week.

One of my favorite, and most effective, tricks is to toss out some sort of verbal-visual analogy or joke early on – so that the audience has a fine chuckle, relaxes and likes me from the start.  From that point forward, they pay virtually no attention to whatever else i say…

Looking over my presentation while the previous speaker was finishing up, i realized i had nothing prepared… On my way to the podium, i decided on the fly to focus on the word that gave some of my colleagues fits last week.

While performing a technical area assessment, deciding where to invest the research and development funding, it’s important to look at all possible concepts – including those that are “not invented here”.  For this program, to capture the fact that we are perfectly willing to select concepts that are not homegrown?  We used the words “assess, harvest and develop”…

My use of the word “harvest” pissed off the scientific purists in my organization last week, and they argued to remove it, saying “Never use the word ‘harvest’ in regard to research – it degrades the effort and is offensive”.  i thought about it, and decided to hold my ground… 

Explaining the goals of the program this morning, i said “We do not choose these words lightly.  The use of the word “harvest” is quite deliberate – despite the fact that it conjures images of waking up in a bathtub full of ice with half of your kidneys”.

The audience was successfully hypnotized, and heard nothing else of substance from that point forward.  Many smiles and comments during the break about my ‘organ theft’ reference. 

Bottom line:  Once again, i managed to skip through a corporate minefield with the least amount of responsibility possible.   If it didn’t require effort?  i could teach classes in this…

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28 thoughts on “Hypnotizing Chickens

  1. A common trick for the speaker to ease her nervousness is to picture her audience naked. Did you do that?

    Oh love love love
    That’s like hypnotizing chickens
    Well I am just a modern guy
    Of course I’ve had it in the ear before

    Can you name that tune?

  2. savannah – i am truly looking forward to the day (7 years, 28 days) when i no longer have to be a suit and deal with other humans in a paid capacity… i don’t wanna work, i just wanna bang on my drum all day!

    unbearable banishment – naked? the dinosaur brigade? AAAAAAAARGH! never, NEVER! and i think that was some sort of Iggy/Bowie collision, wasn’t it? i’d have to look it up… and that would be work, and i’m kinda drunk from the ‘post game analysis session’ in a friends suite…

  3. some sort of Iggy/Bowie collision…

    You are GENIUS! It’s from Lust for Life. Pretty goddamn funny lyrics when you consider they used them for a number of years as the theme for Carnival Cruise Lines.

    Here comes Johnny Yen again
    With the liquor and drugs
    And the flesh machine
    He’s gonna do another striptease

    Yeah, the first thing I think about is a family vacation.

  4. I would totally take that class. My technique was always to blind them with the vision thing. One of my co-workers used to ask me to come to meetings and “do that crazy-talking thing you do.” It was sort of like watching 2001: everyone agreed it was meaningful and pleasant, but there were really no followup questions.

  5. unbearable banishment – really? REALLY?!?!? Carnival Cruise Lines? Where have i been… oh, wait. killing multiple bottles of booze in a suite with multiple colleagues… it was ugly. i’m going to dig that up as soon as i’m able to figure out how to google again…

    chris – i can do that one too, but i have to conjure up The Stage Voice, which makes them think i’m telling them Something Really Important, when in fact, i’m spewing pablum and platitudes and things that make them feel all tingly in their basement… which mean absolutely nothing. Wanna be an adjunct instructor if i ever get “Bullshit Academy” off the ground?

  6. OH MY GAWD, I would love to have a captivated audience instead of one held captive.

    Science rules, food industry drools.

  7. Harvest is a cool word. Like that Metallica song Harvester of Sorrow back when they used to make good music. Just flash those science purists a scythe and explain if they speak out of turn again it will be their asses on the banquet table next.

  8. tammy – the topic for this meeting is so dry that any glint of amusement is welcomed as if it’s a brilliant comedic moment… makes it easy.

    syncopated eyeball – not really all that smart, but i’ve developed survival instincts in my little corner of the world that serve me well…

    nursemyra – it is an image that would work in your world as well!

    carlae – a teeny tiny bit of humor can go a long way for a captive audience. with the exception of a few of the planning committee ‘dinosaurs’, NO ONE wants to be here…

    tysdaddy – i really like the way you think! fire! FIRE!

    renalfailure – i just asked them to come up with one other single word that means the same thing. and the answer was “ummm…..”. and yes, a scythe would make it work. along with a soundtrack…

  9. Excellent. I hated giving presentations since most of the time the audience didn’t feel it had got its money’s worth unless they made my life a misery with pointless questions and extra – equally pointless – assignments.

  10. I like your style Daisyfae. I have made “low responsibility” the theme for my life, well, until I had a child, but I figure in a year or two he can take care of himself and I can get back to keeping it ‘low’!!

  11. kyknoord – but i barely know you!

    jon – that would be what happens at scientific research conferences. if they can’t ask a question to embarass the speaker? the value of their own work drops by half…

    manuel – then my purpose in life has been partially fulfilled!

    FJ – thank you. if we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane…

    ruby – with each successive day, i am divesting myself of the hard stuff. helps to get the spawn outta the house!

  12. dolce – my thoughts exactly!

    blaiser – these are not the edible kind of chickens. they smell funny, lay eggs, and peck at your toes…

    dolce – definitely different chicken speak…

  13. I think I’d like to hear one of your presentations, at lease the hypnotic bits.

    It’s easy to hypnotize chicken. All one needs is a chicken and a straight line.

  14. s.le – i try to keep it entertaining, informative and brief. sometimes, i add shadow puppets if things are grim… yes, scientists and chickens have much in common!

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