5 Questions About … the Communicating with Power & Presence Workshop
Communicating with Power & Presence is one of TAI’s longest running programs. Senior Coach Sam Carter shares with us the history of the workshop and his experiences in this edition of 5 Questions About.
How did Communicating with Power & Presence (the P&P) come to be?
In its formative years, The TAI Group helped people realize their most authentic and impactful selves through workshops such as “The Mastery” and the “The Creative Dynamic.” Individuals were given an intense, experiential course of learning that allowed them to connect to their deepest intentions, passions and desires and make those manifest to the world in a result-oriented way.
Cathy Kramer (of the Kramer Institute in St. Louis) participated in three-day Mastery workshop led by now CEO, Gifford Booth. After the weekend, Cathy related that she had had a very powerful experience in the session, but had a lingering question. Could this work be re-tailored for a more corporate audience? A collaboration began that would realize that goal of bringing an essence of the Mastery to the corporate world. The workshop offered a “tools-based” approach – giving practical and repeatable techniques delivered in a forthright way over two days. Initially called “Stand and Deliver,” the program was re-titled “Communicating with Power & Presence” in 2005. The P&P program, initially led by Gifford and Cathy, was taught and passed on to the TAI senior coaches, the first “travelling army” of P&P – taking it across the globe with workshops for The Boston Consulting Group in Europe and for IMD in Lausanne. The “Crafting Tool” was redefined and honed over this period of time as was “The Book” – a compendium of coaching techniques used in the workshop.
11 years after Cathy Kramer’s initial question, “Communicating with Power & Presence” has evolved to become The TAI’s group’s best-selling program and a flagship for our work with companies all over the world.
Who should participate in the P&P?
The P&P can be tailored very successfully for a wide variety of groups. We have crafted and delivered P&P workshops for C suite employees in Fortune 500 companies and for entry-level managers within that same company. We’ve worked with non-profit groups, colleges and universities, and businesses of all kinds. Most interesting of all is having a mix of professional levels within one room –two individuals from upper management joined with 8 other people from their teams all in one workshop. In our open access workshops, people at different professional levels from an array of industries and organization create space for directed observation and reciprocal feedback as they learn from one another. In short, it’s for everyone – the creative element happens as TAI learns more about the potential participants and begins to meld synergies and places of common focus that can bring about significant results for the group over the two days, and beyond.
What is it about the P&P that speaks to you as a coach?
The workshop has a highly practical tools-based approach to improving participants as communicators and as leaders. At the same time, it is still being quietly moored to the deepest tenets of our work. The workshop affords a pathway for personal, lasting change as a leader, one that is guided by an individual’s personal compass and values. Most business people tend to shut off information coming from that compass when they enter the professional world. P&P is a shot in the arm that says yes, that compass can guide you again, and here are some powerful tools to help you start to move there.
Can you describe the participants’ experience in the workshop?
People are always surprised by the power of P&P. A very frequent comment is, “I was dreading this because I thought it was going to be just another presentation skills training, but I found something infinitely more powerful”. The first day of the workshop includes experientially based exercises that can sometimes put people strongly outside their comfort zone, leading to questions like “How does this relate to my professional life?” and “How do I apply this?” There is great a-ha! moment on the second day as we take the tools from day one and inject them into the actual business presentations. Participants see how deeply and powerfully the tools fit inside their real-world scenarios and that creates a great sense of continuity for the two days.
Will you share one or two of your favorite P&P moments with us?
I teach a huge number of international students in English, and a frequent comment from many of them when attempting this work is, “oh! But if you would only let me speak my own language, then I would be brilliant!” A few years ago I led a very diverse group in Lausanne Switzerland that comprised individuals from India, China, Australia, Brazil, Turkey, France, Finland, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Great Britain and Japan. The final two presenters of the day were the Brit (whom I’ll call “Nigel”) and the Japanese (whom I’ll call “Toshi”.) Nigel, whose command of English as a native speaker was impeccable, launched into a very long, dense, un-connected, rambling speech about a moment that he had roused his team to greatness that the room found cold, distracted and largely unfathomable. He had placed no stock in seeing or connecting to the people in front of him and as a result his speech fell totally flat with the audience. Toshi (also charged with telling a story about rousing his team to greatness), possessing perhaps at best 500-1000 words of English, conversely placed all his emphasis, energy, and intention on the listeners in front of him and invested deeply, using the techniques of the workshop, in having them understand his point of view, and the point of view of his employees in the story.
A large factory that he was in charge of had suffered a terrible industrial fire that killed two of his workers. He spoke about addressing his workers the morning after the fire, and in one of the simplest and most deeply felt communications I have witnessed, said
“Their faces were white, white with pain
There was no color, only white and eyes so large with tears.
As we stand in front of the factory, I say to them
Go home to your family
Go take your family in your arms. This is the most important thing.
Do not come back until your family says go.
And I will be here. And if it is night, I will hold a candle at the factory and wait. And if it is day, there will be sun, and I will wait.
And when you return, our work will begin again.
Our work will begin again.”
In 25 simple words, Toshi had stunned the room with a powerful story that revealed volumes about his deepest values, his vision of management and his heart as a leader and as a man. In recapping to the group with him in front of the room I said, “Toshi’s intention, focus, and generosity for us as an audience today shows how far the power of simplicity can take us. This workshop is about creating change as a leader, and we’ve just witnessed the stuff that potentially moves mountains…”
Toshi nodded quietly beside me, there was a moment of silence in the room and I asked him if there was anything that he wanted to say in closing. He reflected thoughtfully for a moment and then said,
“Yes, Sam-San…I am so sorry for my English.”