Friday, May 20, 2011

Multiple Intelligences: Is Formal Education Needed for Everyone?

To me, it is cruel to treat children and adults like they are stupid or morons because they didn’t or don’t do well in school.  Oftentimes, people who have a tough time in school start to identify themselves as dumbasses because they have been told such since grade school.

Yet, the world is filled with famous, successful, and happy people who did poorly in school or never finished grade school let alone earn a high school diploma.   

Today we are told that only with a college degree do we have a chance to succeed; yet, even with only a high school diploma, there is very little hope.  However, we have heard many examples of famous, successful, happy people who never went to or completed college: athletes, movie stars, musicians, outdoorsmen, artists, builders, contractors, salespeople, etc.

Why is that?  

Why can people do so well without a formal education when we are told that we cannot succeed without such education?  The world is full of examples.

The reason is Multiple Intelligences.

For all those who were told you are an idiot, a moron, a dumbass, a loser, can’t focus, can’t apply yourself, lazy, just don’t get it, a waste of space, etc, I have good news for you. Those people who told you such things were just plain wrong.   

Failing or just barely getting by in school is no sign of a poor intelligence, nor a predictor of future success.  Schools just don’t teach to your intelligence.  It’s not your fault.  Our education system is way too far behind.

According to Psychologist and Social Scientist, Howard Gardner, seven intelligences are identified:

1.     Musical: The brain controls perception and production of music

2.     Bodily-Kinesthetic: Control of body movement
          Logical-Mathematical: The process of problem solving and scientific inquiry 

4.     Linguistic: The gift of language and the skill in understanding syntax, semantics, and grammar

5.     Spatial: Required for navigation, visualizing objects from different angles, and playing chess

6.     Interpersonal: A core capacity to notice distinctions among others

7.     Intrapersonal: Knowledge of the internal aspects of a person

The core curriculum of our schools is based on only two intelligences: Logical-Mathematical and Linguistic.  Therefore, if you are not skilled or interested in these two intelligences, you may be labeled stupid, lazy, and all the bad labels I mentioned above. 

The problems with this labeling are plentiful: it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, and we identify ourselves as being useless.  Oftentimes, we then behave as a lazy person, a black sheep, a castoff, a bad person, a bad citizen, etc.

What about the people who are good at selling, playing sports, repairing cars, machining parts, cleaning buildings, growing plants, developing ideas, understanding others, navigating ships, rescuing lost hikers and skiers, exploring new frontiers, etc? These things are not taught in school.  

 Sure, there may be a class or two; however, if you don’t succeed in the main two intelligences, then you just don’t cut it!

To be sure, learning, practicing, and developing the other skills of music, sports, orienteering, selling, customer service, are important; however, our culture puts a premium on only two intelligences.  Yes, we could be spending that time developing the other intelligences and succeeding at a young age with a healthy self concept and esteem.

I for one am happy to have discovered Gardner’s work.  It has let me rethink my identity and let me explore my own intelligence which led to teaching a subject that isn’t even taught in grades K-12—communication studies.

Source: Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice by Howard Gardner (1993)  BasicBooks A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Speak Up Speak Out

In order for our democracy to work, there must be a place at the table for everyone.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  Even the Framers of the Bill of Rights left out the slaves, Native Americans, and anyone else who wasn’t white. 
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.  That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”—Barack Obama quoting the Bill of Rights in his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
This notion is what makes America great; however, in reality, it has been a tough road for all those who have come before us.  We now stand on the shoulders of all those generations of good hard working Americans trying to live the American Dream by doing the right things; and those Americans filled with prejudice, discrimination, and hate.  Even with the bad folks, we are still better off every generation.  The American Dream works for many; but, not all—yet.
Forty plus years later after Robert Kennedy observed, “In forty years from now, it will be possible for a Negro to be elected President like my brother” in response to the change brought by the brave Freedom Riders of the early 1960’s.   Even though it rattled many of the Freedom Riders and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Kennedy’s observation became prophetic.  And, as President Obama says, “My story can only happen in America.”  Yet, we still have a ways to go.
We have a Black man in the White House; this fact shows we have come a long way since the First Continental Congress, the Civil War, Selma, Birmingham, Memphis, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964; however, we still don’t have everyone at the table.  We still deny some Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, Women, Gays, and Lesbians.
Personally, to my disappointment, I have no powerful emotion/passion to any of these causes because even though I grew up in a poor neighborhood, my parents still provided what we needed, I was always safe, and I was taught the American work ethic.  In the 1950’s though we still had the prevailing feeling was “at least we’re not black.” I have never experienced discrimination.  I never bought into that feeling.  People are people was my thoughts; however, over the years, I’d catch myself being a product of my environment and caught myself perpetuating prejudice behavior.  It took a workshop called the Color of Fear to get down to my innate biases.  This started my introspection to change my behavior.
Despite my sheltered upbringing in a “white” world, I do have a powerful passion for justice.  I just didn’t know how to channel it.  The terms “Liberty” and “Justice” mean different things to different races and ethnicities.  However, the Bill of Rights says, “All men are created equal.” 
As I experience and observe racism and hate in our beautiful Country, I wonder, where is the justice?  When I see a Black man go to jail for life over petty crimes because of three strikes laws, then I see a 20 year old white male blast the life out of 4 adults by running a red light because he is high on marijuana even admitting to the police that “I am pretty high” and he receives less than eight years, I wonder, “It’s 2011! Where is the justice?”
Game Change for Me
Because of this passion for justice in our society, I decided to teach people to stand up and speak so they can take their rightful place at the table.  I was always afraid to stand up and speak because of stage fright and a reluctance to “get involved.”  However, when I read the Letters from the Birmingham Jail written by Martin Luther King Jr., combined with my education and observations, my energy and passion began to come together for my cause—a cause that was lacking in my life: Teach others to speak up speak out for justice. 
Those words paraphrased here are part of what has driven me since 1990 to do something to make a difference.  The meaning I understood from King follows: “I’m not concerned with the bad people who do bad things, I am concerned about the good people who witness bad things and do nothing.”  (Again, these words are paraphrased because they stick in my mind better.)
I looked for a way I could get involved with passion. Since I had no passion for any societal issues—sure I had opinions and feelings about abortion, the death penalty, drunken drivers, seatbelts, a clean environment, battered women, elderly care, the U.S. Budget, notions of Republicans and Democrats being enemies, red states, blue states, divisive rhetoric, campaign contribution laws, Unions, the Supreme Court, gay marriages, wars, crime, etc; however, I never did anything about them.  Since there was no tragedy in my life or in the lives of anyone close, I didn’t have that fire to stand up and do something.  My life has been blessed with relative peace since I was born.  I can’t remember a time when the people around me didn’t have my best interests in mind. I was a good person who did nothing!
The bad people have shown themselves to me.  The people who tell others there is no place at the table for them are exposed.  The Church that tells my Mom they don’t have a place for her gay relative, the people in Tennessee who tell the Muslims there is no place for them in their town, the bureaucrats  who tell the Native Americans we didn’t really mean it when we signed those treaties—“we thought you knew that,” the jock sniffer who hands out wads of cash to hang with a black athlete then shuns him when his playing days are over, the young black, Latino, and Asian kids that get stopped by the police because “they must be up to something bad,” and the Latino’s who get asked for their “papers” to prove they are Americans.  Even our President was forced to show “his papers.”  Liberty and Justice for all?  I don’t see it yet.
I teach people to stand up and speak up speak out for their place at the table.  I have found that demanding doesn’t often work; however, in the style of President Obama, persuasion does work.  Demanding respect, justice, input, being part of decision making, understanding, etc does not work.  We have to learn to persuade the people at the table to give everyone her/his rightful place. America has a place for everyone—no exceptions.
This skill I teach is public speaking.  I know a lot of people are afraid of public speaking; but, our ideas, input, innovation, critical thinking, etc are too important to hold back because of our personal fear of public speaking.  We have to take the focus off ourselves and place it on others that need our help.  Everyone must take their place at the table for his/her cause.
I teach people to manage the fear, to analyze the others at the table, and persuade those others to offer everyone his/her rightful place.
We need all of you to step up.  Don’t stand around and stay uninvolved. If you do, then you have to take what you get.  If you get involved, speak up speak out, then the ideals of the Bill of Rights will become reality. It can’t happen without all of us. I can help you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Do you take Introducing a Speaker too lightly?

Delivering the Professional Introduction
The Speech of Introduction
Introducing a speaker is a much overlooked skill.  While speaking on a circuit this winter and spring, I noticed that about 1 person at every 15 speeches I gave introduced me properly.  I even wrote out an introduction for every event; however, only a few tried to use it while adlibbing and 2 people actually read it. The only two introductions that set the tone properly were those same two readers.
My name is Rod Mattson; however, I have been introduced as Todd, Ron, Rob, Ned, Ted (and just about any other three letter name); also, the speaker, this guy, do you want to come up now, go ahead and finish eating—I guess I don’t have anything else so do you want to come up now?  You get the idea.  Most of the time, I end up introducing myself.
Most people think it so easy they can do it in their sleep and no preparation is needed or it is not important.  WRONG!  This is such a big part of the program that professionals practice several times before introducing a speaker. Being in an informal setting is no excuse.  If you are expecting the speaker to show respect by being prepared and keeping your audience engaged, then you too should be prepared too.
It is not a hard task to master; but, it does take know how, preparation, and practice.  In my experiences, it has not been the fault of the person doing the introduction because I don’t believe they were taught how, or vastly underestimate its importance.
In the following, I will show you how to systematically write a speech to introduce a speaker in 5 easy steps. It will make you look like a professional speaker—even if you simply read it—and gain the respect of the audience and the speaker.  You can compose your speech using this booklet; then, you can write out your introduction speech on the inside covers of this booklet, and simply read it too the audience.
The speech of introducing a speaker sets the tone for the speaker and helps the speaker with getting the attention of the audience.  It also shows you and your organization's commitment to professional excellence. 
Note: It is critical to know the pronunciation of the speaker's first and family name.  People's names are very important and if you can pronounce their names properly, you will gain the respect of the audience and the speaker.  How many times have you heard the person introducing a speaker by saying, "I am not sure of the pronunciation of his/her name, but here she/he is."  How about seeing the one introducing the speaker look over to the speaker and asking how to pronounce his/her name? 
The time to ask for help in pronunciation is not in front of an audience.  The speaker deserves better respect.  If you think mispronouncing people's names is no big deal, then go visit any town or city and you will see streets, buildings, and hi-ways named after them.  These dedicated people worked hard and spent their life building their character and reputation while contributing to their communities.  Let's honor these folks starting with the proper pronunciation of their names.
The main point to learn here, is "practice" your introduction as much as you would for any speech. Practice on introductions, giving awards, or receiving awards is every bit as important as a keynote address. 
The following are 5 steps for introducing a speaker.  It is best to introduce a speaker in this linear fashion and be brief.  Do not try to speak about the speaker's topic and steal his/her thunder.  And, one more thing to remember, the audience did not come to listen to you, they are there to listen to the guest speaker.
Step One
Topic:  Simply state the topic first (do not introduce yourself).
Step Two
Benefit—Tell the audience the benefits of listening to this speaker:  Answer this question, why is this topic important to the audience?  You must relate to the audience how the speaker can help them get what they need to know or expect to learn.  The speech must have something in it for the audience. Answer some or all of the following questions:  How will the audience be better off after the presentation?  What can the audience take back home or work after listening to this presentation? 
You have to make the connection for the audience on what benefit they will receive by listening to this speech.
Note: Be very careful that you don't build up the speaker to the point that the audiences expectations will be impossible to meet.  For example, if you are introducing a comedian, don’t say, “Alana is the funniest person in the world.” Who can live up to that?
Write why the topic is important to the audience here.







Step Three
Present the Speaker's Credibility:  Tell the audience the answers to some or all of the following questions:  Why should the audience listen to the speaker?  What credentials related to this topic does the speaker possess?  How long has the speaker been involved in this topic? What awards, certificates, or experience does the speaker have relating to this topic?
Note: If the speaker has many credentials, do not list them all.  A couple will do just fine.  Have you ever listened to someone go on and on about the accomplishments of a speaker?  It’s too boring to the audience and most won’t remember anyway.  Two or three that relate to the occasion or the audience are fine.
Write the Speaker’s credibility here.




Step Four
Welcome the Speaker by Name:  You can use any of the following phrases:
Ask the audience…
·       To show appreciation
·       To help you welcome
·       To give a warm reception
·       To give an enthusiastic welcome
·       To give a rousing round of applause
·       To give it up
·       To give a (name of organization) welcome
Then say the speaker’s name. 
Make sure your language choices are appropriate for the occasion. In other words, a speaker introduction at an MTV awards show would be much different than an introduction at a business convention of accountants or at a service club.
Note:  Give the Speaker's name very clearly.  Look at the audience when saying the speaker's name, not the speaker.  The speaker already knows her/his name.  It is good to have a pause between the first and family name.  One way is to look at one side of the audience when stating first name, then look to the other side and state the family name.  You can also do this technique by looking at the front row of the audience for the first name, then the back of the audience the family name.
The key here is to not say the name so fast it runs together in the audiences’ minds.  State first name clearly and enthusiastically, pause, look to the other side and say the last name clearly and enthusiastically.
Write the speaker’s name here and write “pause and look to the other side of the audience” between the two names to remind you.

Step Five
Lead the Applause: After stating the speaker's name with correct pronunciation, you face the audience and lead the applause (hand clapping).  Then, you pivot to the speaker and continue your applause for a brief few seconds.  This shows respect for the speaker.  You then pass the speaker in a pre-arranged fashion i.e. you shake hands, you smile at each other and pass on the right, you hug, etc.  Whatever you do is fine; however, plan it ahead of time and practice it at least once.  This will avoid the awkwardness of bumping into each other because one was passing on the right, and the other passing on the left. 
Things that can cause awkwardness:
·       One holding out a hand for a handshake, and the other is so caught up in the moment s/he does not see to accept the handshake
·       One planning on a traditional business handshake, and the other going for the bumping of closed fist knuckles
·       Some other cultural style of handshake the other isn’t expecting. 
The type of handshake or hug is not important; however, both knowing and using the same type is important.  Practicing for proper performance will add to the credibility of both and avoid any awkwardness in front of an audience.  The goal is for the audience not to notice any kind of mistake or awkwardness at this point.
The introduction should be written by the speaker and given to the introducer far enough in advance for the introducer to have time to practice. 
Introducers, please call the speaker as far in advance of the presentation as is possible so you can get all the information you need to give a nice respectful introduction.  This way you will have ample time to prepare and practice. 
Speakers, please do not make it difficult for the introducer. Give the person introducing you the above information so he/she can practice.  Otherwise, the audience can feel uncomfortable if the introduction is rough and clearly not practiced.  It shows a lack of preparation and respect by you and the introducer towards the audience.
Write your plan here for bringing the speaker to the podium.





The following is an example of one of the introductions I send ahead of time to the person who is going to introduce me.  I send an introduction for every speech and amazingly, most people do not follow it. 
When done properly, it sounds smooth and sets the right tone:
Our Topic tonight is Conflict Management
It is important to all of us as we all have conflict in our lives.  It causes unnecessary stress and anxiety.  Conflict can be found in relationships at home, at work, in clubs, and any other social situation.  All of us are interested in solid advice on how to manage conflict better
Rod Mattson is the CEO of Mattson Communication Training and an Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies at Green River Community College
Please help me welcome
Rod (pause and look to the other side) Mattson
Lead the Applause.
Read my introduction out loud.  You get the idea.  See how easy this is to write and say.  It will make you look like a great communicator.
Now, write your introduction using this booklet, and transfer your written introduction to the inside cover of this booklet after you tear out the pages.  Fold it backwards and put it in your pocket.

Copyright 5/2011 Rod Mattson
Mattson Communication Training

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Made to Stick

When giving instructions as a manager, or when speaking to groups, it is important to follow six principles.  All the statistics, charts, and graphs in the world won’t “stick” in people’s minds even close to the effectiveness of these principles.  And, that is our goal right—to say things in such a way that the listeners remember?
Chip Heath from the Business Graduate School of Stanford University and his brother and Dan Heath a former researcher at the Harvard Business School have documented these principles in their in depth studies on ”the stickiness factor” of getting audiences to remember what you say.

Principle 1:  Simplicity. Get your idea down to a one sentence statement
Principle 2.  Unexpectedness. Violate peoples expectations, do something they don’t expect.
Principle 3.  Concreteness. Make your idea clear.
Principle 4. Credibility. Get People to believe your idea.
Principle 5.  Emotions.  Get people emotionally involved in your idea.
Principle 6.  Stories.  Relate your ideas into stories people can connect to in their minds.  Use a narrative.

These principles can be remembered using the following mnemonic:  Succes.
I have found that fitting all these principles into my presentations and giving instructions has vastly improved my effectiveness.  It will for you too.

Source: Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath Random House New York 2007.    
Rod Mattson May 2011