The Buddha’s advice

The Buddha

Evon requested a copy of the quote from the Buddha that I shared at our meeting yesterday. Here it is:

“If it is not truthful and not helpful, don’t say it.

If it is helpful but not truthful, don’t say it.

If it is truthful but not helpful, don’t say it.

If it is truthful and helpful, wait till the right time.”


Break the ice


For those of you interested in using icebreakers in your meetings, here are some resources:’s list of icebreakers

more icebreakers

Remember names


Check out these article for strategies to remember names:

Remembering Names Through NLP

Games Can Help With Remembering Names

Read good books!

 Read a lot of books

David McCullough is one of the nation’s great writers of history and biography. And his voice is prominent, too. You’ve probably heard him narrate a documentary or other film. He was the narrator of Ken Burns’ amazing Civil War series, and he was the narrator of the film Seabiscuit.

Read his commencement address at UConn, and you will be challenged to pick up great books and start reading. I dare you to read at least two books this summer. You will be surprised at how much down time you will actually have. To quote from McCullough’s speech:

“To carry a book with you wherever you go is old advice and good advice. John Adams urged his son John Quincy to carry a volume of poetry, ‘You’ll never be alone,’ he said, ‘with a poet in your pocket.'”

Be a great presenter

“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world”

John F. Kennedy.

Change the world

I have a particular interest in presentation skills and presentation design. Okay, call it a bit of an “obsession.” I prefer “passion.” But how many presentations have you sat through, including classes, that truly had an impact on you…that changed your life in some way? I can’t think of many myself. This summer you will be giving presentations every day, sometimes multiple times a day. While they mostly will not be formal, prepared speeches, you will be challenged daily to be an effective and enthusiastic communicator in front of audiences as large as 700 people and as small as a dozen people.

My presentation guru is a guy named Garr Reynolds. He used to work for Apple computer. He lives in Japan now where he’s an instructor and expert in “presentation design.” Check out his presentation tips and bookmark his blog.

Chris Thompson’s dirty dozen


Chris Thompson is a wise man. Learn from him.

ML: What tips do you have for a successful first meeting with your group?

CT: The first meeting goes by very quickly, so try to get as much out of it as you can. All I did was a brief icebreaker, and went straight into telling them about what was going to take place over the course of the day. Then, I tried to leave some time for questions before they went over to listen to speakers.

ML: What tips do you have for a successful evening meeting with your group?

CT: The evening meeting was very hit or miss for me. There’s not a whole lot of awkward silence time in the morning meeting because there just isn’t time. Hopefully they are interested and asking questions, but this was not always the case for me. Try to have something to talk about at all times and really let them know that you are there to talk about what they want to talk about, not your own interests. If it’s not going so well you can always get started on your group cheer a little early.

ML: How did you encourage discussion in your meetings?

CT: By taking questions from them and turning them into questions for them. See what they did in high school and what they might want to do in college. Everyone has their thing, but you’re not going to get across to everyone so just do the best you can to let them know about their options. The best thing you can do is show them you actually care about what they’re interested in.

ML: Did you use icebreakers, and, if so what did you use?

CT: I’m not really into the whole icebreaker thing. Ask my teammates and Adam Gobin to help you with that.

ML: Any tricks for remembering names?

CT: Not really. Looking back, I think the best thing to do is to be honest and tell them you will try really hard to remember their names and faces, but you will not remember them in the fall. If they assume you don’t know their name and you do somehow remember it they’ll think you’re really swell.

ML: What surprised you about leading small groups?

CT: It’s not rocket science, but it can be tough. The truth is that most kids really do respect what you have to say and value your opinion. They may not ever tell you that, but it’s true. Just keep the conversation flowing and talk to your teammates to see if they have some great trick you never even thought about.

ML: What would you do differently in your group if you got to do it over again this summer?

CT: I’m not sure. Maybe have the kids write down questions in the morning and talk about them in the evening. Try some different things and you’ll discover what works best for you. Don’t try to be like somebody else; do whatever helps you best connect to the kids in your group.

Whitney’s advice: It is so hot…

For the kids

Whitney Amos, “double-sticks!,” shares her suggestions for successful small groups at Orientation.

ML: What tips do you have for a successful first meeting with your group?

WA: Be energetic and enthusiastic! The morning meeting sets the tone for the rest of the day and plus most of them are very quiet and tired, so it is important to wake them up and get them ready for a long day. I always went through the schedule of the day, played a short ice breaker get to know you game, and told them about group pride and they were in the greatest group ever…DOUBLE STICKS!!! A lot of groups I made them tell me nicknames or tried to make them up and then call them that throughout the day and it was a big success.

ML: What tips do you have for a successful evening meeting with your group?

WA: This was my favorite part of the day because you get to really talk to the students and answer questions. I always gave encouraging tips and pointers to them from an upperclassman viewpoint, and also told them to set goals and work hard to achieve them here at UGA. This is also a great time to have fun and play likes and dislikes of the day to get them to start talking. At the end of the meeting I always left about 5 minutes for the group cheer and took a picture before we went in for the OL performance. Remember this is the time to show your personality and the message you want to give to first year students.

ML: How did you encourage discussion in your meetings?

WA: In most of your groups you are going to have a few outgoing people and a lot of students who are either shy or scared. Reach out to all of them because you are normally their first interaction with any student on this campus. I always talked to my groups about likes and dislikes of Orientation, read them an inspirational quote, and answered any questions. If I got stuck or had a less talkative group you could always encourage conversation by asking them about worries or fears in coming to college because they all have those.

ML: Did you use icebreakers, and, if so what did you use?

WA: Yes, I tried to switch it up one time and it did not work out for me. Stick to what you are comfortable with and as the summer goes on you can always make changes and get ideas from your other teammates on what works for them. At the night meeting I always played the Starburst game where they had a different question for the different color wrappers out of their bag. I stuck with this all summer, and it worked great for me; but don’t be afraid to change things up.

ML: Any tricks for remembering names?

WA: I am horrible with names, and, honestly, it is really hard with so many freshmen coming each session. The best advice is to try the nickname thing and to continually talk to kids in your group throughout the day and always take a quick glance down at their neck wallets. You can always try to repeat their names over and over, and that helps sometimes.

ML: What surprised you about leading small groups?

WA: I remember last year I was nervous about small groups, but they actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of Orientation. At first they may be a little stressful because you have to remember stuff on testing and get used to the schedule, but after a couple of sessions you will be a pro. Another tip would be to really not give up on the “too cool for school” kids and reach out to them, because when they would come back to my evening group they normally ended up being very talkative and great with the group cheer. Also don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself or be goofy because getting them laughing and allowing them to feel comfortable helps with your meetings.

ML: What would you do differently in your group if you got to do it over again this summer?

WA: I honestly don’t think I would have changed the structure of my small groups. I stayed consistent and felt that I normally always had great conversations with the freshmen and tried to give them helpful advice. If one session you don’t feel like you had an outstanding group meeting then learn from any mistakes, and I promise you your next group could be completely different. One thing to remember is that your small group meetings will probably be completely different from your teammates which is fine, but stay true to what fits with you the best.