Archive for: June, 2023

Present Parents: How Our Kids’ Ability to Be Present Can Help Our Marriages

Jun 08 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

Children live in the now. A truism, right? Obvious to parents and anyone else who clocks a chunk of time with kids, especially wee ones.

After spending more daytime hours with my daughter, S, recently than I usually do in the workweek, I’ve been reminded of that truth yet again.

I’ve also been thinking about the ways in which my 3-year old’s immediacy about pretty much everything–”Mommy, look at that butterfly!” “Mommy, I have an owee on my foot,” “Mommy, I want a snack!”–is a gift to me and my relationship with my wife, J.

My daughter’s present-presence has invited me, during work hours no less, to let go of familiar distractions–like writing this post, like attending to client emails–and just sit on the floor and do puzzles with her, join her in impersonating Buzz Lightyear (“To infinity and beyond!”), watch her proudly, as she insists that I”don’t touch” the sand-cake she’s pouring onto a plate in our backyard.

Don’t get me wrong, I remain aware of the tug of other responsibilities, still know my to-do list hovers at the back of my brain. Yet every time I’m with S, I not only notice her ability to live in the right now, but believe it’s my responsibility–to her, me, our family–to meet her where she is.

What does any of this have to do with my relationship with J? To be honest, it’s taken me close to 3 years as a mom to realize that, if my child’s natural aptitude for living in the moment–a talent many of us lose with time–is a boon to my being more present to her and myself, it’s also a gift to my marriage…if I choose to make it so.

Obvious, right? Right! Easy, right? Um, maybe. After spending hours “in the present” with my daughter on Friday, she succumbed to a nap. What did I do with that precious downtime? Naturally, I checked my email. And found this message from the wife:

“My sibs are throwing a birthday party for my sister next month and none of them has seen S in a year, so how about we head to Texas for a few days?”

Having basked in the glow of living in the present for hours-nay, days-how did I respond?

“Grumble, grumble; my mom will have just left after visiting us for two weeks; I have to be on a plane the following week; I’ve missed a lot of work lately; plane tickets are expensive; yada, yada, yada!” (Never mind that I’d just told J we have tons of frequent flyer miles banked or that I actually love spending time with her family!)

Granted, there’s a difference between being in the moment playing with my daughter, and being present to J when she’s inquiring about doing something in a few weeks.

Still, I’m convinced I could have used the gift of my daughter’s “nowness” to serve my relationship better and, specifically, to respect what I knew was my spouse’s excitement at the possibility of seeing family, of watching S with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins at an all-too-rare reunion!

Here’s what I wish I’d said:

“Honey, I hear this is important to you and I’m going to do my best to try to make it happen.” Ah, the wonders of 20-20 hindsight.

The good news is, I might have forgotten how to stay present when I first responded to J’s email, but I’m not forgetting now. Which is why I’m going to send her this post, before I post it for you.;-)

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Presentations – One Antidote to PowerPoint Poisoning – The UR Rule

Jun 06 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

PowerPoint poisoning is rampant in presentations today. Busy, overdone, hard-to-read visuals with questionable value is so commonplace that many speakers and their audiences have become complacent, just accepting the less than idea status quo. Yet there is an antidote to PowerPoint Poisoning. Here is one great solution: Apply the “UR” Rule.

A great strategy is: Apply the UR Rule. If every presenter applied the UR rule to every slide, he or she would find that (a) they could probably get rid of about half their planned slides, and (b) the slides that were left would be purposeful, clear and easy to read. What is the “UR” rule? The letters stand for “Understand” and “Remember.” Ask yourself: “Does this visual help my audience Understand or Remember anything?” That’s the primary purpose a visual should serve. Otherwise, what good is it?

Seriously. Why else would you have visuals? If they’re cute, or clever, or creative, or have sound effects or flying graphics, you might have a good “slide show” on your hands. (Remember 35 mm slides and how you moaned when the in-laws wanted you to watch the slide show of their Mount Rushmore vacation?) But what do you want to accomplish with your presentation? Do you want to entertain with creative graphics? Or would you rather get a point across or explain a status or influence the group’s decision? Given that, indeed, most presentations have that kind of objective, then how can your slides help you serve that function? If, and only if, they pass the “UR” Rule.

 So which of the following slide content would satisfy the “UR” Rule?

1. Some clip art of a computer screen when the speaker is talking about computer technology

2. A “wall of words,” so crammed full of verbiage, the audience can’t read it

3. A list of bullet points that are long, complete sentences forcing the audience to read through it all instead of just grasping it

4. A graph with all axes labeled and explained, several lines intersecting it, and lots of background copy explaining all the points

5. Simply the words: “Tips for PowerPoint”

The correct answer is… none of them. Slides that are too busy or complex in any way invariably mean that the audience either can’t read them or else have to take a lot of time to read and comprehend them (which means, by the way, they’re not listening to the speaker). Certainly this is not going to help them understand or remember any points. A slide with a cute graphic on it, say an hourglass when the speaker makes a reference to time, contributes in no way to the understanding of the message. A slide that just has a “title” on it (“The Advantage,” or “Thank you,” or “Questions”) doesn’t help the audience remember or understand a darn thing. Even transition slides, “Step Two,” don’t satisfy the UR rule. You don’t need a visual to make transitions — you can be the transition. 
So ask the UR question for every slide you think you want to use. Make your goal to reduce both the number of slides and the amount of content on each slide. And appreciate the value of a black slide inserted from time to time to let the focus be on you instead of the visuals. If you can apply the UR rule, you’re so much farther along in your goal to have your visuals support and enhance your presentation instead of detracting from it.

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Ballet Christmas Presents – Start Your Shopping List Now!

Jun 06 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

For those who have ballerinas and men in ballet in their lives, there are ideas for ballet Christmas presents that go beyond new leotards, books and movies. Though, I am sure those items would be well received, the following shopping tips may help you choose (or ask for) a slightly different but relevant holiday dance gift.

- a book about reflexology for muscle relaxation

- a book about trigger point therapy for muscle conditioning

- a book about foot massage for those pointe shoe aching feet

- a DVD on high intensity weight training for men in ballet

- a book about guided imagery in dance training, for a ballet teacher

- a book about healthy eating for dancers – for the cook in your house!

- a better television on which to enjoy ballet films!

- a home ballet barre for the serious ballet dancer in your family

- ballet class music to help practicing at home

- scrap-booking kits and supplies for the busy ballet (grand)mom or (grand)dad (or sibling)

- a digital video camera for the budding choreographer in your life

- a whirlpool type of foot bath for foot and soul (okay, lousy pun!) relaxation

- a beautiful journal for the dancer who loves to write

- an exquisite dance calendar for the new year

- a subscription to a dance magazine

- a compact daily calendar for the busy dance student/teacher/pianist/parent

- relaxation music for unwinding

- any electronic gadget or software for time management (for homework even)

- bath salts or aromatherapy for muscle recovery (throw in some beautifully scented non-polluting candles)

- decorative ballet art posters for inspiration

Start looking for deals, and combine a couple of Christmas presents with routine purchases to save on shipping, or whatever ‘buy more’ discount your on line shopping site is offering.

It may seem early to write about ballet Christmas presents, but the pumpkins are out and in a wink we will see Christmas decorations! Happy shopping!

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Overcoming Fear When Doing A Presentation Part 2

Jun 04 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized


Naming your fearful thoughts

In many primitive societies, there is a naming myth. It revolves around the belief that if you call a demon by its name, it can no longer hurt you. Perhaps this is a metaphor for the power of language, or just a useful problem solving technique.

One way of getting “outside” of your fears and seeing them with perspective is the process of having a name for them. A good name helps de-mystify the process.


Perseveration is an uncontrolled repetition of a behavior, such as fearful thoughts, long after the reason for the thoughts has vanished. It is a natural process which repeats old behavior long after the reason for it has ceased.

Next time you find your mind fearfully looping over and over again, disengage from the process by reminding yourself, “I’m just perseverating again.” You are merely engaged in a thoughtless nervous process. Claim your power.


When we let down the facade to reveal who we truly are, we are more interesting and persuasive. No longer is the audience’s “phony” radar activated. Seeing a natural and vulnerable presenter, audiences are more forgiving and receptive.

How can you be more authentic?

Divert a small rivulet of energy away from attempting to satisfy the “powerful others,” and focus on speaking from your natural, vulnerable self. With time the false self melts away and you find numerous ways to be more genuine and interesting.

Authenticity elicits buy in.

From your true self you speak unhindered – - unfiltered. This spontaneity is invigorating and infectious. Energized and unfettered, you can naturally incorporate the ease, grace and wit you enjoy with your closest friends. The energy required to fulfill perceived expectations is now yours to use. You uncover your individual style.

Individual style

Individual style is authentic. Your individual style flows out of your personality, that quirky amalgam of choice and chance.

Your presentations, when suffused with your natural expression, are enlivened by your personality.

How do I uncover and develop my individual style?

The key is AWARENESS.

To develop your awareness we employ:

- Instructor feedback and coaching

- Feedback from your audience (your peers)

- Self-evaluation based on your experience presenting

(immediately following a presentation)

- Self-evaluation based on watching a videotape of your


- Targeted exercises


Take a couple of long moments now to see yourself presenting. Imagine giving the EXACT kind of presentation you want – however that looks to you. If you want to try some gestures during this part of the visualization, you will gain an even deeper kinesthetic preparation.

When you are done imagining yourself delivering your presentation, hear in your mind’s ear the enthusiastic applause of your audience. See faces that are pleased, moved and touched by what you’ve done.

For as long as possible, keep experiencing that feeling of triumphal success. Perhaps you will imagine shaking hands with people as they congratulate you. As you notice that they seem to want more, allow yourself to wallow in the audience’s warmth.

Repeat this process as many times as possible. Use the fearful feelings and thoughts to trigger your memory to visualize yet again.

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Improper PowerPoint Presentation Results in a $300,000 Verdict Being Thrown Out

Jun 03 2023 Published by admin under Uncategorized

The Appellate Division recently vacated a $300,000 jury award in a personal injury lawsuit due to plaintiff’s counsel’s improper use of a PowerPoint presentation during his closing argument. In this matter, Anthony Romano filed a lawsuit against Michael Stubbs in connection with an altercation which occurred in the Bergen County Courthouse on February 23, 2006.

On that date, Stubbs was in court for a hearing in connection with a domestic violence complaint filed by his wife and a determination as to whether a temporary restraining order should be made permanent. While in court, an officer approached Stubbs and told him that a warrant had been issued for his arrest due to his alleged violation earlier in the day of the temporary restraining order. Romano, who was an officer in the courtroom, assisted in arresting Romano after he resisted arrest. During the altercation, Stubbs fell on top of Romano forcing Stubb’s elbow into the ground. Stubbs ultimately pled guilty to a petty disorderly persons offense for this altercation.

Romano alleged that as a result of this incident he sustained an injury to the ulnar nerve in his elbow which required surgery. Additionally, Romano claimed that he injured his neck warranting a spinal fusion. Romano in turn filed a negligence lawsuit against Stubbs.

At issue in this case was plaintiff’s counsel’s use of a PowerPoint presentation during his closing argument. During the recess between defense counsel’s closing argument and the start of plaintiff’s counsel’s closing argument, it was disclosed for the first time that plaintiff intended to use a PowerPoint presentation during closing. Defense counsel objected to plaintiff’s counsel utilizing the PowerPoint presentation at that point. The trial judge permitted the use of the PowerPoint presentation finding that plaintiff’s counsel would not be projecting anything he would not say in his argument.

During his closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel utilized the PowerPoint presentation to support his argument that Stubbs decision to proceed to trial reflected a bad character and his refusal to accept responsibility for the happening of the incident. Additionally, plaintiff’s counsel argued that Stubbs and his attorney were acting in concert to blame Romano. Also, during the presentation, plaintiff’s counsel projected words indicating that Stubbs was a criminal, had a propensity for violence and that the jury needed to “send a message.” Ultimately, the jury returned a verdict of $300,000 to compensate Romano for his injuries.

In reviewing this matter, the Appellate Division noted that generally closing arguments based on the evidence are permissible, but arguments that “shift the jury’s focus from a fair evaluation of the evidence to pursue instead a course designed to inflame a jury, by appealing repeatedly to inappropriate and irrelevant considerations are not.” The Court recognized that while “counsel has broad latitude to passionately advocate their clients’ cases in summation, there are some clear boundaries.”

Taken as a whole, the Court found that plaintiff’s counsel had made improper arguments through the use of his PowerPoint presentation. The Court found that arguing and projecting words that: (1) the jury needed to send a message; (2) Stubbs was a violent person; (3) Stubbs was a criminal; (4) Stubbs decision to go to trial was evidence of a bad character; and (5) Stubbs and his counsel were “working” to blame Romano, constituted improper arguments. As such, the Court found that “the cumulative impact of multiple transgressions in plaintiff’s closing argument leaves us with no confidence in the fairness of the damages awarded.”

Accordingly, the damage award was vacated and the matter was sent back to the trial court for a retrial on damages.

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