#71 The Pygmalion Effect in Platform Presence and Mastery


Today we launch into a new format. Instead of producing 3 X 5 minute podcasts each week, we are going to now produce one 25-30-minute episode a week. In addition to making each episode more content rich, we are also going to enter the ‘guest interviewing’ arena, inviting seasoned professionals to come and share their wisdom, knowledge, and expertise.

In this way we are able to learn through their experience and expand our relentless focus on helping you become platform masters.

Today, we are switching it up and switching it on as we take Epic Thought of The Day to a new level of engagement in your development of the mindset of the platform master.

I look forward to your feedback. If you like what we are doing here, spread the word. Share the podcast amongst your colleagues.

Okay, let’s get into Episode #71, The Pygmalion Effect in Platform Presence.


Have you heard of the Pygmalion Effect?

For those of you who have heard of it before, you are probably asking, “What’s it got to do with business pitching and presenting, or public speaking?”

That’s the question I’m going to answer today. But before I got there, let me quickly provide context for those that aren’t familiar with the Pygmalion Effect.

In the story told by the Roman poet Ovid, Pygmalion is a sculptor who falls in love with a statue he has created. In time, Aphrodite’s festival day came, and Pygmalion made offerings at the altar of Aphrodite. There, too scared to admit his desire, he quietly wished for a bride who would be “the living likeness of my ivory girl.”

When he returned home, he kissed his ivory statue, and found that its lips felt warm. He kissed it again, and found that the ivory had lost its hardness. Aphrodite had granted Pygmalion’s wish.

So, what does all of this have do with being a platform master?

One word, Expectation.

We’ve been engaging in a conversation around the question, “What does it take to be a compelling platform master?” In the last episode, we talked about how to become a compelling platform master through creating anticipation with your audience using inductive language, as opposed to deductive language.

Today, we look at the second element of being a compelling speaker, which is – How to Create Expectation…. Or the Pygmalion Effect in Platform Presence and Mastery.

Let me set the scene for you.

A compelling speaker ‘expects’ the audience to engage with them and as a result, they carry themselves differently.

They walk with a confidence and an authority.

Their belief system acts like a catalyst, a propulsion channel for your confidence and presence.

The audience expects you to engage with them.

They expect you to be warm, inviting, comfortable in your skin, confident in your capability.

They believe the speaker is attractive because the speaker believes they are attractive.

This is the Pygmalion Effect in action.

 

Now, let me fill in some of the gaps.

A psychologist by the name of Robert Rosenthal and school principal by the name of Lenore Jacobson coined the term Pygmalion Effect to describe the striking results of an experiment they carried out in a California school in 1965. Students took a test that was said to be able to identify “bloomers,” or those who were poised to make strides academically.

Teachers were given the names of pupils who were about to bloom intellectually — and sure enough, these students showed a significantly greater gain in performance over their classmates when tested again at the end of the year.

One particular teacher, Beverly Cantello, would go on to comment in the Discover Magazine, December 2015 edition, that she didn’t appreciate being misled — at least, not at first.

Cantello was 23 years old and just starting out in her teaching career when Robert Rosenthal came to her elementary school. The principal announced that she’d given Rosenthal permission to administer a fancy-sounding new IQ test to the school’s students that spring.

Shortly thereafter, Cantello was told that Rosenthal’s Harvard Test of Inflected Acquisition revealed something remarkable: Small groups of children in each classroom were poised to “bloom” academically.

And indeed, over the next school year, the designated students at Spruce Elementary School in South San Francisco excelled, just as predicted. The youngest of them made the most dramatic gains: On average, these first-graders increased their IQ scores by more than 27 points.

It wasn’t until the end of the year that Cantello and her colleagues were told the Test of Inflected Acquisition was really just a standard IQ test. The “bloomers” had been chosen at random. It was the teachers’ belief in their pupils’ potential, not any innate advantage, that spurred the students to achieve.

Rosenthal struck gold with his now-famous findings.

His study survived an extraordinary storm of controversy to become one of the most inspiring and widely cited breakthroughs in the history of psychology.

“The bottom-line is that if we expect certain behaviors from people, we treat them differently — and that treatment is likely to affect their behaviour.”

The one liner that underpins their research results goes like this, “What one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

When Rosenthal and Jacobsen conducted their experiment in 1965, they arrived at four conclusions because of the expectation the teachers had of the students.

1. The teachers were more welcoming, nicer, warm, and friendly, because they expected the ‘bloomer’ students to have a higher capacity for learning.

2. The teachers gave more material and more hands-on, one-on-one time to each of the ‘bloomer’ students.

3. They were open to more interactive discussions, engaging the ‘bloomer’ students in more dialogue in the place of monologue.

4. The fourth finding was the quality of feedback. The teachers gave more positive feedback and praise to the ‘bloomer’ students.

The power of expectation.

Since Rosenthal’s breakthrough experience, the Pygmalion Effect has been tested in a number of different experiments.

For example, there is the Combat Training Experiment

The Israel Defense Forces wanted to answer the question, “Do expectations affect performance and, if yes, how exactly.”

105 men were selected for the combat experiment with 4 supervisors assigned to them. The supervisors were told the 105 trainees had been divided into groups each consisting of soldiers with high, average and low potential.

In the weeks that followed it turned out the Trainees performed to expectation. Those of whom high was expected… performed highly. Those with low expectation, performed lowly.

However, that was not the main surprise of the experiment. The Pygmalion Effect on supervisors rather than subordinates turned out to be far more interesting.

When interviewed a few weeks after training the Trainees of whom high performance was expected reported being treated differently to the others. They also reported that the supervisors stepped up their game. They performed higher. Those tagged with low expectation, were treated like little was expected of them and the supervisors performance declined.

The power of expectation.

So, let’s connect this to platform mastery.

When you walk on to a stage, or into a boardroom, or even a lunch room where you are going to talk about your business, share an important message, or pitch an idea or a concept you want to be compelling. One of the essential elements is the ability to create expectation… create a Pygmalion Effect.

Let’s borrow from Rosenthal’s experience findings to create our Expectation Model for Platform Mastery. We will look at four specific, yet connected elements: Climate, Content, Interaction, and Frame.

We have a download for you at The Expectation Game Plan of what I’m about to guide you through.

CLIMATE

Close your eyes and imagine the climate of the room. I’m not talking about the air-conditioning or the temperature. I’m talking about the climate between you and the audience.

Do you want the climate to be exuberant or amiable? How about empathetic or energetic, sincere or unassuming? Perhaps a compassionate and considerate climate that builds into ambitious and courageous?

In the Expectation Game Plan Template, which you can download, you will be asked to craft a 21 word or less, statement that clearly defines the steps you will use to activate a ‘desired climate.’

CONTENT

Content that creates expectation that is built around these four elements:

It is personal. this means it’s something you feel passionately about and your sense of purpose creates an energy boost for both you and your audience.

Take’s the audience on a journey. The content moves the audience along a pathway, or a process of realising how you’re going to get to the desired outcome… not just telling them about the desired outcome.

It’s concise. Because ‘Less Words = More Message’, every word counts. This one element is what separates an average platform speaker from a platform master.

It feels important. Almost every speech presents an “ah-hah!” that recounts with great intensity what it feels like to break through a problem, or a mindset. The problems themselves are often weighty — but even when they’re not, hearing about a breakthrough moment makes the speaker and the audience reach a ‘mutually owned conclusion’ that something big is at stake

INTERACTION

A platform master will create interaction with the audience inside the first 60 seconds of opening their mouth… and they do this by letting the audience know they will be engaging them mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Let’s break these three down a little more.

Mental Engagement
This links back into one of our previous episodes, # 61 – Persuading With Logic. In this episode, we talk about using words your audience can relate to and avoiding technical jargon, plus more.

Mental engagement means to be stimulating and you do this by not doing things in a predictable, boring way. For example, the first words out of your mouth cannot be “Thanks for the invitation…” Instead, open with a stimulating, question that arouses the curiosity of the audience and starts to direct them towards an important message or idea.

Emotional Engagement
A platform master will emotionally engage an audience with their language. By language I mean the actual words used in the content.

A platform master will use vivid, sensory words. For example, “the touch of your father’s flannel shirt” or “the aroma of your grandmother’s kitchen”, always creates an emotional engagement faster, clearer and longer lasting than just saying, fabric and smells. You have evoked emotions which, depending on your audience, probably generates fond memories.

Physical Engagement
Your body is the single most obvious, visual tool used to connect with your audience. If you are not effective in delivery, then you cannot interact with your audience.

By delivery I mean matching the delivery to the emotion. This involves voice, hands, eyes and movement. We will be covering the subject of using delivery as an engagement strategy in a future episode, as it deserves more time.

 

FRAME

A platform master will create expectation with the audience be making sure their critical messages are framed appropriately.

Imagine you and I are walking across the desert with a single canteen. You’re thirsty and ask me how much water we have left. I look and tell you not to worry, we have plenty. The canteen is half full. You take a drink.

Or… scenario number two, you ask me for a drink, I look at the canteen and with a worried expression tell you the canteen is half empty. You decide to wait a little longer for your drink.

In either case, there was the same amount of water in the canteen, however the ‘frame’ the message is positioned in will direct the audience to the desired conclusion.

My response to your request has the power to alter your next step, or your decision..

In establishing a Frame for your key point, or critical message, you can answer the following four questions:

1. Have I positioned this question or message to arrive at the right position for my desired outcome?
2. Have I used inclusive language for this message to create a shared moment of engaging imagery?
3. Have I designed a physical delivery strategy to enhance this frame?
4. Have I got a planned exit from this frame into the next part of my message?

Before I close out on Frame, let me leave this thought with you. It is always best to compel your audience with a ‘conversation frame’ instead of a ‘presentation frame’.

A conversation frame is inviting and inclusive while a presentation frame separates your audience and supports them being spectators not engaged partners.

 

Let’s summarise what we talked about today…

In 1965, a psychologist by the name of Robert Rosenthal and school principal by the name of Lenore Jacobson coined the term ’Pygmalion Effect’ to describe the striking results of an experiment they carried out in a California school. Students took a test that was said to be able to identify “bloomers,” or those who were poised to make strides academically.

The one liner that underpins their research results goes like this, “What one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

A platform master will also create a ’Pygmalion Effect’ when they create an Expectation Game Plan that is based on four specific, yet connected elements: Climate, Content, Interaction, and Frame.

Climate is about the atmosphere between you and your audience. Do you want the climate to be exuberant or amiable? How about an empathetic or energetic or sincere and unassuming? How about a compassionate and considerate climate that builds into ambitious and courageous?

Content that creates expectation that is built around these four elements:

1. It is personal.
2. Take’s the audience on a journey.
3. It’s concise.
4. It feels important.

A platform master will create interaction with the audience inside the first 60 seconds of opening their mouth… and they do this by letting the audience know they will be engaging them mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Finally, we talked about framing. A platform master will create expectation with the audience be making sure their critical messages are framed appropriately. For example, is the glass half full or half empty. How the message is framed, or positioned, will direct the audience to the desired conclusion.

Here’s the action point of the day.

Download the Expectation Game Plan Template and use it as your template for creating the Pygmalion Effect with your audience. When you do, you are moving on your journey towards being a platform master.

Next week, we explore the constant factor of Passion and its role in platform presence and mastery.

If you would like to explore further any part of this episode today, get in touch with me by emailing me, eugene@eugenemoreau.com

As always, there is more to come.

About the author: Eugene Moreau

Eugene Moreau is a Certified Master Coach, Author and Corporate Consultant with over 30 years experience. He is a Master Presenter and developer of the 13 Box Presentation System and The EPIC Presenters Masters of Influence programs.

You must be logged in to post a comment.