Training stories and anecdotes

by ltconsulting on August 1, 2011

Our presentation courses are planned to significantly improve presentation skills to allow delegates of all levels to be able to make powerful presentations.  The presentation seminars that we provide are packed full of presentation tips and techniques that demonstrate strategies which will show delegates how to reduce nerves in presentations and to allow them to present confidently when presenting to clients or colleagues. Our presentation skills workshops are designed not just to show delegates how to make a simple presentation: they are designed to show delegates how to create a successful presentation also maximising the applications of PowerPoint to make great presentationsPresentation training will allow delegates to build on their presenting skills; make better presentations; enjoy making presentations and teach delegates how to present successfully.  Delegates who have taken our Presentation Courses have expressed how much they enjoyed the variety in our presentation skills training and now feel confident to present in any situation.

 Training stories and anecdotes

Great presenters have always relied on the use of stories to highlight a point; make the presentation more interesting; or just to get a difficult audience’s attention. We all have stories that we use from our own personal experiences and these mixed with analogies and case-studies are great ways to make a point or illustrate business lessons. Stories, examples, fables and research references add colour and substance to presentations and reports and reinforce learning of all types.

All of the stories we have used make specific points and can be used in many business settings; to emphasize an important issue during a team meeting or to allow colleagues in conflict to gain a better perspective of a situation. Some of these stories are ironic and so can best be used to illustrate pitfalls and vulnerabilities rather than best practice. We hope you enjoy them, but more importantly we hope you have the chance to use some of them to add value to your own communication.

“We’ve always done it that way…”

A quality management consultant was visiting a small and somewhat antiquated English manufacturing company, to advise on improving general operating efficiency. The advisor was reviewing a particular daily report which dealt with aspects of productivity, absentee rates, machine failure, down-time, etc. The report was completed manually onto a photocopied pro-forma that was several generations away from the original master-copy, so its headings and descriptions were quite difficult to understand. The photocopied forms were particularly fuzzy at the top-right corner, where a small box had a heading that was not clear at all. The advisor was interested to note that the figure ‘0’ had been written in every daily report for the past year. On questioning the members of staff who completed the report, they told him that they always put a zero in that box, and when he asked them why they looked at each other blankly. “Hmmm.., I’m not sure about that,” they each said, “I guess we’ve just always done it that way.”

Intrigued, the consultant visited the archives to see if he could find a clearer form, to discover what was originally being reported and whether it actually held any significance. When he found the old reports, he saw that the zero return had continued uninterrupted for as far back as the records extended – at least the past thirty years – but none of the forms was any clearer than those presently in use. A little frustrated, he packed away the old papers and turned to leave the room, but something caught his eye. In another box he noticed a folder, promisingly titled ‘master forms’. Sure enough inside it he found the original daily report pro-forma master-copy, in pristine condition. In the top right corner was the mysterious box, with the heading clearly shown …. ‘Number of Air Raids Today’.

Spellchecker Poem

I halve a spelling checker,
It came with my pea see.
It plainly marks four my revue
Mistakes I dew knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait aweigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the era rite
Its rarely ever wrong.

I’ve scent this massage threw it,
And I’m shore your pleased too no
Its letter prefect in every weigh;
My checker tolled me sew.

The Rocks In Bucket Time Management Story

Use this time management story to show how planning is the key to time management.

Start with a bucket, some big rocks enough to fill it, some small stones, some sand and water.
Put the big rocks in the bucket – is it full?
Put the small stones in around the big rocks – is it full?
Put the sand in and give it a shake – is it full?
Put the water in. Now it’s full.
The point is: unless you put the big rocks in first, you won’t get them in at all.

In other words: Plan time-slots for your big issues before anything else, or the inevitable sand and water issues will fill up your days and you won’t fit the big issues in (a big issue doesn’t necessarily have to be a work task – it could be your child’s sports-day, or a holiday).

Rocks In The Bucket Story – Alternative Funny Version

A lecturer at a university is giving a pre-exam lecture on time management. On his desk is a bag of sand, a bag of pebbles, some big rocks and bucket. He asks for a volunteer to put all three grades of stone into the bucket, and a keen student duly steps up to carry out the task, starting with the sand, then the pebbles, then the rocks, which do not all fit in the bucket.

“The is an analogy of poor time management,” trills the lecturer, “If you’d have put the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand, all three would have fit. This is much like time management, in that by completing your biggest tasks first, you leave room to complete your medium tasks, then your smaller ones. By completing your smallest tasks first you spend so much time on them you leave yourself unable to complete either medium of large tasks satisfactorily. Let me show you..”

And the lecturer re-fills the bucket, big rocks first, then pebbles, then sand, shaking the bucket between each so that everything fits.

“But Sir,” says one student, slouched at the back of the theatre “you’ve forgotten one thing..”

At which the student approaches the bucket, produces a can of lager, opens it and pours into the bucket. “No matter how busy you are,” quips the student with a smile, “there’s always time for a quick beer.”

A Story About Communications and assumptions; The Stranger And The Gingernuts Story

At the airport after a tiring business trip a lady’s return flight was delayed. She went to the airport shop, bought a book, a coffee and a small packet containing five gingernut biscuits. The airport was crowded and she found a seat in the lounge, next to a stranger. After a few minutes’ reading she became absorbed in her book. She took a biscuit from the packet and began to drink her coffee. To her great surprise, the stranger in the next seat calmly took one of the biscuits and ate it. Stunned, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything, nor even to look at the stranger. Nervously she continued reading. After a few minutes she slowly picked up and ate the third biscuit. Incredibly, the stranger took the fourth gingernut and ate it, then to the woman’s amazement; he picked up the packet and offered her the last biscuit. This being too much to tolerate, the lady angrily picked up her belongings, gave the stranger an indignant scowl and marched off to the boarding gate, where her flight was now ready. Flustered and enraged, she reached inside her bag for her boarding ticket, and found her unopened packet of gingernuts…

A Story About Communications, And Men And Women

A man and his wife had been arguing all night, and as bedtime approached neither was speaking to the other. It was not unusual for the pair to continue this war of silence for two or three days, however, on this occasion the man was concerned; he needed to be awake at 4:30am the next morning to catch an important flight, and being a very heavy sleeper he normally relied on his wife to wake him. Cleverly, so he thought, while his wife was in the bathroom, he wrote on a piece of paper: ‘Please wake me at 4:30am – I have an important flight to catch’. He put the note on his wife’s pillow, then turned over and went to sleep.

The man awoke the next morning and looked at the clock. It was 8:00am. Enraged that he’d missed his flight, he was about to go in search of his errant wife to give her a piece of his mind, when he spotted a hand-written note on his bedside cabinet.

The note said: ‘It’s 4:30am – get up.’

The Brewery Story

A very old traditional brewery decided to install a new canning line, so as to enable its beer products to be marketed through the supermarket sector. This represented a major change for the little company, and local dignitaries and past employees were invited to witness the first running of the new canning line, which was followed by an buffet and drinks.

After the new line had been switched on successfully, and the formalities completed, the guests relaxed in small groups to chat and enjoy the buffet. In a quiet corner stood three men discussing trucks and transport and distribution, since one was the present distribution manager, and the other two were past holders of the post, having retired many years ago. The three men represented three generations of company distribution management, spanning over sixty years.

The present distribution manager confessed that his job was becoming more stressful because company policy required long deliveries be made on Monday and Tuesday, short deliveries on Fridays, and all other deliveries mid-week.

“It’s so difficult to schedule things efficiently – heaven knows what we’ll do with these new cans and the tight demands of the supermarkets…”

The other two men nodded in agreement.

“It was the same in my day,” sympathised the present manager’s predecessor, “It always seemed strange to me that trucks returning early on Mondays and Tuesdays couldn’t be used for little local runs, because the local deliveries had to be left until Friday..”

The third man nodded, and was thinking hard, struggling to recall the policy’s roots many years ago when he’d have been a junior in the despatch department. After a pause, the third man smiled and then ventured a suggestion.

“I think I remember now,” he said, “It was the horses….. During the Second World War fuel rationing was introduced. So we mothballed the trucks and went back to using the horses. On Mondays the horses were well-rested after the weekend – hence the long deliveries. By Friday the horses so tired they could only handle the short local drops…”

Soon after the opening of the new canning line the company changed its delivery policy.

Two Brothers And The Geese Story; A Story Of Initiative

Two sons work for their father on the family’s farm. The younger brother had for some years been given more responsibility and reward, and one day the older brother asks his father to explain why.

The father says, “First, go to the Kelly’s farm and see if they have any geese for sale – we need to add to our stock.”

The brother soon returns with the answer, “Yes they have five geese they can sell to us.”

That father then says, “Good, please ask them the price.”

The son returns with the answer, “The geese are £10 each.”

The father says, “Good, now ask if they can deliver the geese tomorrow.”

And duly the son returns with the answer, “Yes, they can deliver the geese them tomorrow.”

The father asks the older brother to wait and listen, and then calls to the younger brother in a nearby field, “Go to the Davidson’s Farm and see if they have any geese for sale – we need to add to our stock.”

The younger brother soon returns with the answer, “Yes, they have five geese for £10 each, or ten geese for £8 each; and they can deliver them tomorrow – I asked them to deliver the five unless they heard otherwise from us in the next hour. And I agreed that if we want the extra five geese we could buy them at £6 each.”

The father turned to the older son, who nodded his head in appreciation – he now realised why his brother was given more responsibility and reward.

Tickle Me Elmo: A Story About Training And Communications

This allegedly took place in a factory in the USA which makes the ‘Tickle Me Elmo’ toys, (a children’s plush cuddly toy which laughs when tickled under the arm). The legend has is it that a new employee is hired at the Tickle Me Elmo factory and she duly reports for her first day’s induction training, prior to being allocated a job on the production line. At 08:45 the next day the personnel manager receives a visit from an excited assembly line foreman who is not best pleased about the performance of the new recruit. The foreman explains that she is far too slow, and that she is causing the entire line to back-up, delaying the whole production schedule. The personnel manager asks to see what’s happening, so both men proceed to the factory floor. On arrival they see that the line is indeed badly backed-up – there are hundreds of Tickle Me Elmos strewn all over the factory floor and they are still piling up. Virtually buried in a mountain of toys sits the new employee earnestly focused on her work. She has a roll of red plush fabric and a bag of marbles. The two men watch amazed as she cuts a little piece of fabric, wraps it around a pair of marbles and carefully begins sew the little package between Elmo’s legs. The personnel manager begins to laugh, and it is some while before he can compose himself, at which he approaches the trainee. “I’m sorry,” he says to her, not able to disguise his amusement, “but I think you misunderstood the instructions I gave you yesterday…. Your job is to give Elmo two test tickles.”

Get In The Wheelbarrow

The story goes: upon completing a highly dangerous tightrope walk over Niagara Falls in appalling wind and rain, ‘The Great Zumbrati’ was met by an enthusiastic supporter, who urged him to make a return trip, this time pushing a wheelbarrow, which the spectator had thoughtfully brought along.

The Great Zumbrati was reluctant, given the terrible conditions, but the supporter pressed him, “You can do it – I know you can,” he urged.

“You really believe I can do it?” asked Zumbrati.

“Yes – definitely – you can do it.” the supporter gushed.

“Okay,” said Zumbrati, “Get in the wheelbarrow…..”

Excellent presentation skills give you a platform to demonstrate your sales skills, leadership qualities, communication skills, influencing abilities and promotion potential. Our objective over the two days is to teach you the skills and techniques that will give you both the confidence and competence to enjoy making presentations in all situations. We will be giving action points to sharpen your image; reduce nerves; allow you to appear both confident and competent and increase your credibility in the eyes of colleagues and clients.

PowerPoint presentation skills, Advanced Presentation skills and Presentation skills are three of the courses trained by Total Success Training, a training consultancy specialising in communication training and management skills in London and throughout the UK. Other related courses include sales presentation skills, training the trainer, assertiveness skills, selling skills, negotiation skills and communication skills for managers. Click here if you need more information regarding presentation skills course information or contact Total Success who will be delighted to talk to you via e-mail.

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