Wednesday, 15 June 2016


On Friday this week I'm attending the CIPD Northern Area Partnership Conference, more usually referred to as #CIPDNAP16.  I'm delivering an Ignite presentation on the theme of "Amazing Workplaces" which the conference is structured around.

It will be my first Ignite presentation although not my first speech of any sort obviously.  I'm really pleased to be contributing to #CIPDNAP16 and have enjoyed putting together my Ignite speech.

Withouth spoiling too much of it, its obviously on the subject of Amazing Workplaces and is a kind of Ignite-Max formula, lasting 10 minutes with slides advancing every 30 seconds.  My brief is to take any angle on this I choose, with only the words "Amazing Workplaces" to go on.

I didn't need to look too far for inspiration on this, as my time at GGHT gave me a tremendous insight into what an amazing workplace is supposed to be - so I'm drawing heavily on my experiences there, and adding to it with some lessons from other workplaces too and some things I'm doing in my current workplace too to make that amazing.

The Ignite format means that I have to pace myself well and means that I have to practice as much as possible to get my speech to sync with the progression of the slides and to finish exactly on time.

This works well for me.  My MBTI type is ISFJ, which for normal presentations and speeches is not necessarily a good combination.  I'm highly introverted which means I usually need to feel exceptionally comfortable before speaking to anyone, and need to do a lot of preparation and invest a lot of energy before opening my mouth.  I'm also highly structured which means that I struggle to deal with unanticipated situations and prefer to work within known environments that I can plan for myself.

And yet I'm alright at public speaking, although people are usually surprised - if their first interaction with me is seeing me on stage, they often can't equate that with the very quiet and shy person they see afterwards. And if people's first interaction with me is with the very quiet and shy person, they don't understand how I can stand up and talk to hundreds of people.

And yet speeches do play into structured introverts hands.  If they can prepare thoroughly, and familiarise themselves totally with their material, and if they can structure it in a way that makes sense to them - they can do it.

This is also why I often struggle in interview situations but excel in the presentations that often accompany them.  The presentation I can prepare for, structure myself and practice until its almost perfect.  I'm in control of that.  But the interview, unless I've been lucky enough to get the questions in advance which one interviewer I know always provides, I can struggle with.  I get asked questions that throw me because I'm not always expecting them, and am expected to give an instant answer.  If I could take five minutes to think about it and THEN give an answer, I'd get every job I was ever interviewed for.

Is five minutes thinking time such a bad thing in an interview?

Maybe.  Maybe not.

But in a presentation, on stage, you get no thinking time.  You have to do your thinking before you get up.

So that's just what I've done.

On Friday, I'm going to do something different at Ignite.  I've had five months to think about this, and I've used the time well.  I've structured, practiced and done all the things an ISFJ is supposed to do.

In hindsight, maybe the organisers of #CIPDNAP16 shouldn't have given me this much time to get ready.  I might have let myself get carried away.

But then, if we're talking about Amazing Workplaces, and if there's an Ignite presentation to be done, maybe it deserves something unusual.  Something different.

Let's see.  It might blow up in my face, and no-one might like it, and I'll just look silly.

Till next time...


PS after this Ignite speech, the next speech I have to write is my wedding speech.  There'll be no slides, no auto-advancement, and only a very small audience, but I'll probably be more nervous delivering that than any other speech I've done!

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