Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Heart Rate Test (Story-time part III)

You might ask how heart rate relates to leadership and inspiring others.

As an extremely active person, my heart rate can fluctuate from as low as 36 at rest to over 170 during a good run. While each of us has an optimum rate at which our performance peaks as leaders, there are also subprime rates.

There was a time in my career when I attended multiple day, corporate functional council meetings. They required travel to a common location, two or three days of PowerPoint presentations by well intentioned task teams, a dinner event and a massive meeting notes summary. During the best presentations, people were engaged and decisions made. The worst times resulted in attendees doing a conference room version of the “high-G pullout”. You’ve seen them – slow nodding progresses to full head drop with immediate recovery. A fellow colleague that was not a fan of these sessions used to ask me what my heart rate was during “that” presentation. A few times I checked and categorically I found that the driest of presentations usually equal a heart rate below 40.

From this experience we started an informal “heart rate test” where potential presenters were asked what the purpose/objective was and what heart rate they would like their audience to achieve. How did they plan to capture attention, make their points and create action?

How have you helped your team take a potentially dry presentation and made it something of significance?


Jarrett said...

Having just attended a 3-day offsite, I was impressed by the use of Insights (a sort of personality test) that was used to tie the presentations together. Suddenly everyone started saying that because their insights was a certain color that they now acted in a way that was associated with the colors or chalenged others thinking based on the insights colors. I was glad to see that we weren't staring at 3-days of metrics and value score cards. I would give the overall offsite a quick walk to a run heart rate. But, just as a run needs a good cool down, I thought what was lacking was the continuation of the motivation generated during the off-site, was not carried back to the on-site.

Anonymous said...

"High-G Pullout" is a new one for me. I have seen it, but never heard it called that.

The best of meetings don't have any of those 'high-G pullouts". Great meetings and presentations have people getting out of their chairs to write on boards or paper. Excitement means a higher heart rate.

John Bishop said...

Thanks for the insight Jarrett and fantastic to see you back on-line and back in the country. Can't wait to hear all that you learned.

Remember the feeling you have coming out of the 3-day session you have described. It is very likely some people put a lot of thuoght into how to keep the session as engaging as you experienced. When it is your turn to design/host such a meeting - you owe your participants the same.


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