Fun with UNESCO and a National Demo Tour

Published on 2011-10-30

Source: dcmaster@flickrBE CAREFUL WHAT YOU wish for! These were the first words which sprung to mind when the announcer at Shenzhen airport informed those of us waiting for the flight to Beijing that, due to bad weather in the capital, we would not be taking off for at least another 4 hours. Truth be told, those were not exactly the first words that occurred to me upon receiving this news, but as this is a family friendly blog I shall leave the details to your imagination. Besides, (and how is this for a good bit of reframing) it has given me a great opportunity to write my monthly blog. So, back to my warning about wishes.
As part of UNESCO’s ‘Decade of Education’ programme, UNESCO in Hong Kong have been holding a series of lectures/ seminars for selected school children from different schools around the island. ClarkMorgan were quick to offer assistance in this as we saw it as a perfect opportunity to give something back to the community. These 3 hour, voluntary training sessions are aimed at introducing new ideas and skills to children in the areas of communication, leadership and creativity. The best thing about them is that they also happen to be a lot of fun to host.
Part of the training which I lead yesterday focused on making a good first impression and the importance of confident body language. I suggested to the 90+ audience of teenagers that in order to improve their awareness of how much information we project with our gestures and posture, they should take time out to just watch people in the streets and see if they could guess the mood of the people they saw. I added that the best place for this was airport waiting lounges. I said that as I was lucky enough to travel a lot around China, I got to play the people watching game a lot. I now refer you back to the opening sentence of this blog. I can tell you, my words have come back to haunt me. I now have more ‘people watching’ time than any presentations expert could ever wish for. My only concern now is that I may not get back to Beijing before I turn 40 in January.
The UNESCO event was enormous fun. The audience of 15 and 16 year old school children certainly represented a different demographic to my usual senior management level trainees, but they offered the same levels of enthusiasm and energy. The 3 hours flew by and Hong Kong’s UNESCO chiefs have now offered me an open invitation to host more of these events whenever I find myself in Hong Kong. I shall take them up on this at the very first available date.
I was in Hong Kong on the final leg of my 4 city demonstration seminar tour. This trip, presenting a meeting skills demo entitled ‘Earn Your Place at the Table’, gave me a wonderful opportunity to catch up with ClarkMorgan’s target audience around the country. It has been interesting to see how trainees from the 4 cities respond to different training approaches and stimuli.
The Beijing and Shenzhen crowds, whilst different in ethnic makeup, (the Beijing crowd was 15% European and Shenzhen was 100% Chinese) offered the same amazing energy. I was delighted with their readiness to experiment with new ideas and their response in terms of feedback was very flattering.
The audience in Shanghai responded best to a slightly lower key delivery of the training. The end result of this more serious and trainer- led delivery still produced high levels of participation and energy, but the style of training used in Beijing and Shenzhen would not have elicited such a positive response in Shanghai. It was an excellent reminder that ‘one-size’ does not fit all’ and that adaptability is a key skill in training delivery.
The final demo in Hong Kong required yet another training approach change. The audience was similar to Beijing and Shenzhen in terms of energy and enthusiasm, but as the crowd was much smaller, the training activity design changed. A smaller sized audience gave me a better chance to connect with the trainees individually and we were able to spend more time on the practice and evaluation aspects of the training.
I cannot pick a favourite from the demos in the four cities. Each city was different in one way or another, but each group gave me new ideas. I am extremely grateful for the experience that the tour has given me and simply cannot wait for my turn again.
So now, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I shall click my heels here in Shenzhen and keep repeating the phrase ‘there’s no place like home’ until the plane for Beijing takes off, with me on it!