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Monday, April 4, 2011

Sometimes motivational seminars can damage your health. A day out at the NEC.

I am shattered.

I have just returned from a Motivational Conference/Seminar at the LG Arena at the NEC. My first and probably last. An exercise in showing you how to “Get Motivated” may have achieved the reverse.

The mission statement was "... to ignite that inner passion in yourself...initiate that first step toward powerful change."

Have you ever attended an open-air meat market where the butcher sells his stuff from a van with a microphone-aided commentary? It is a mixture of jollity, irritation, embarrassment and naffness. That is the impression I took away today, after listening to over half a dozen motivational experts at the top of their game.

A surreal day started with a performance by a West End artist, brought up to deliver three of his songs. A backdrop of simulated fireworks completed his contribution. Impressive, but a bit out of place so soon after breakfast. And no connection to what came afterwards.

Our expert motivaters were a mixture of Bruce Forsyth game host bravado and machine-gun staccato delivery. No room for subtlty or reflection here. Key quotes were displayed on large backdrop screens. These gave a hint of sophistication to complement alpha-male stage performances below.

Our presenters then encouraged embarrassing rituals ie getting one to ask a question of your neighbour, shake their hands or give them a hug. I thought this type of delegate engagement went out in the 1960’s with Dale Carnegie.

Soundbite cliches were delivered at a gallop ie “ Is the juice worth the squeeze?” and their impact lost amidst the barrage of rules to achieve success.

Christine Hamilton’s outline of her family’s recuperation after her husband’s political downfall caught the eye. This owed much to her idiosyncratic style. A rollercoaster life is interesting to hear and there was a story to tell. Henry Kissinger’s famous maxim “When options are reduced, it clears the mind wonderfully.” was never more apt.

Effective communicators know about reading audience dynamics so that their listeners do not have the energy sucked out of them. This well-intentioned day did the reverse and a Virgin train home was a relief.

Makes you realise that the best presentations are subtle, encourage dialogue and are not drenched in testosterone.

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