Cartoon, Quote and Parable to the Rescue

Saved By a Cartoon
The Six Blind Men and the Elephant

Props provide a powerful way of enhancing presentations. Verbal arguments aren’t enough to convince people of your message. Try using visuals such as charts or cartoons, or physical props such as products or tools. Verbal props come in several forms: quotations from famous people, anecdotes, plays, poems or even questions.

The following is a true report of how I used my new-found communication skills and a combination of props to get me out of hot water with my company’s auditors.

The auditors had submitted a report suggesting that I, as the chief supply manager, had exceeded my purchasing approval authority. I strongly disagreed and tried explaining to them the difference between our use of approval authority and implementation authority within the computer system. They did not buy my explanation – that is, until I had a chance to meet with them.

The meeting seemed to take forever. Tension clouded the room, because the auditors intended to remain firm on their “observation” and everyone knew my position.

Finally, it was my turn. I started: “I offer the quotation from George Bernard Shaw who said, ‘In the right key you can say anything, in the wrong key, nothing.’ So to help set the right key I ask you to look at this cartoon and parable that I am passing out.”

There were some raised eyebrows at this point, but no one objected to my strange approach – yet. After everyone had a copy of the handout I continued:

“This cartoon shows the parable of the six bind men and the elephant. The six blind men went to see the elephant, but being blind they had to examine the elephant with their hands. Each touched a different part of the elephant and noted their observation. For example, the first clutched the swaying trunk and said, ‘The elephant must be a snake.’ The next grabbed the tail and noted, ‘The elephant is really like a rope.’ Another fell against the side and exclaimed, ‘Oh my, this elephant is like a wall.’ Hugging the leg the next argued, ‘The elephant is like a tree.’ The fifth, while holding the tusk, stated, ‘You are all wrong, I know it is like a spear.’ And finally, the sixth felt the flapping ear and noted, ‘This elephant is surely like a fan.’”

The nervous laughter dissipated the tension and now the people were more relaxed. Then I explained how the computer system we were using was very big and complicated, like an elephant, and that we had poor documentation. Therefore, it was unreasonable for any visitor to fully understand the workings in a two-week period (this was the duration of the auditors’ visit). The heads nodded in agreement at this point. Then I showed a flowchart of our approval process – emphasizing that the “approval” they were focusing on was only “an approval to print”.

The bottom line is they understood my point, and the audit report was changed. It is important to know that the facts were unchanged from my earlier discussions with them, but this time I packaged my sale and they bought it.

When was the last time you had a proposal or idea turned down? Could it have gone better if you had taken more care to sell it? To deliver a powerful message understand your audience, be clear on your purpose, plan your approach – and use props!

© George Torok delivers inspirational keynotes and practical seminars. He trains managers and sales presenters how to present to win. Arrange for George to work with your people by calling 800-304-1861.

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Think on your Feet

Think on your Feet

Do you wish that you could think on your feet? Have you considered that it might not be a good idea to think on your feet? My advice to you is that you should not think on your feet.

I repeat – you should NOT think on your feet.

You should speak on your feet – but you should not think on your feet. Why? Because people who attempt to think on their feet usually do not think – they simply speak on their feet without thinking.

Many people who attempt to think on their feet often embarrass themselves because they speak without thinking. Speakers who you believe to be thinking on their feet are simply finding familiar patterns and selecting from past experience or prepared statements. That’s the secret.

Please do not think on your feet. Instead, you should think before you speak on your feet.

How do you avoid thinking on your feet? Prepare. Consider all the possible questions and interruptions before you speak. If you think before you speak, when you stand up to speak all you need to do is select on your feet. Select from the possible outcomes that you previously considered and select from the responses that you rehearsed.

Most people are not good at thinking on their feet. But it is a lot easier to select (multiple choice) on your feet. If you have thought about possible questions and possible answers before you speak then it is simply a matter of selecting from the options that you already prepared.

The best speakers and negotiators plan for all the possible issues before they speak. Think and rehearse before you speak. Then when you stand up to speak you don’t need to think on your feet. You can speak and select on your feet.

Thinking before you get on your feet will result in far more successful presentations for you.

Think – rehearse – stand – then speak.

Do not think on your feet.

George Torok
Business Speaker
Speech Coach for Executives

Presentation Skills Trainer

Public Speaking World Champion

Public Speaking World Champion

Every year Toastmasters International holds its World Championship of Public Speaking. And unlike the World Series of US baseball this is truly a world series of public speaking. Toastmasters from around the world compete and for 2007 the winner of the World Championship of Public Speaking is from India.

As reported in

USA: Indian Student Crowned World Champion of Public Speaking
By Max Rasquinha - Houston Aug 20:

A handful of Indian Toastmasters watched with pride and honour a twenty-six year old M.I.T. scholarship Graduate from India being crowned as a World Champion of Public Speaking in the presence of more than 3000 Toastmaster delegates that gathered at Phoenix, Arizona for an Annual Toastmasters Convention at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Hotel.

There were total ten top finalists from the world over that displayed their talents on behalf of nearly 10,500 Toastmasters Clubs scattered in more than 90 countries. What a fantastic reward for Mother India to display the talent before the world leaders and prove ourselves as a nation moving well ahead in the world of progress.

India has about 90 Toastmasters Clubs so far, but in all probability this strength will multiply in the year ahead fostering all the possible opportunities for young men and women to prove themselves that they too can make a difference in the world of Communicators and Leaders.
India has all the ingredients to create at least another 500 new clubs in the years ahead. India can enhance all the good image in so many paths of progress. God bless Vikas Jhingra in all his future pursuits of life and may God bless India in every future opportunities that can bring a positive image all over the world.


MIT engineering student seeks public speaking championship
Elizabeth Knox, News Office Correspondent August 15, 2007

An MIT doctoral student who devoted the past seven years to detailed research on offshore drilling will have just seven minutes to make his mark in the Toastmasters International World Championship of Public Speaking, starting today (Aug. 15) in Phoenix.

Vikas Jhingran, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical and ocean engineering, is one of 10 candidates competing in the three-day public speaking contest.

Jhingran's seven-minute speech for the Toastmasters championship is titled "The Swami." Using humor and broad gesture, he narrates a story of how he found the answer to unlocking his full potential through a visit to a neighborhood wise man, who asked him the provocative question "Who are you?"

Jhingran has been involved with Toastmasters for four years, and he credits the nonprofit public speaking organization with improving his confidence and transforming how he presents his research.

George Torok
Speech Coach for Executives
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The Fear of Public Speaking

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