How To Present A Cheese Board

There are many ways to serve a cheese board to get the best of your cheese selection.

Obviously the first thing to do is to choose a few cheeses that go well together. It’s probably best to group them by theme such as region of origin or milk type. Don’t forget that the weather can influence the sort of cheese that people want to eat – warmer weather lends itself to fresh tastes such as goats cheese and colder weather lends itself more to mature flavours such as strong cheddar and blue cheeses.

Once you have a selection you will need a cheese board to present them on. There are many materials that the board can be made from slate to wood and marble to glass. They come in all shapes and sizes so choose something that you will be happy using time and time again and make sure that the board has enough room when filled for guests to cut the cheese.

Wood is great to serve on because it looks beautiful with the pattern of the grain, and the natural oil content of the wood kills bacteria. Each board is unique because each piece of wood is unique.

Slate is nice to use because you can write the name of each cheese using chalk so that your guests can find out what they are eating. One downside is that the noise of cutlery scraping on it is very unpleasant to some people.

Don’t put the cheese on the board too late. Get it out of the fridge about 2 hours before you want to serve it. This allows the process of aromatisation to occur which brings out the fullest flavour.

You can have fun with the way you arrange the cheese. It’s a good idea to put crumbly cheeses in the middle though. Consider turning wedges up on their end because it creates a dramatic impression. Make sure that you keep the cheese separate from each other though to avoid the flavours contaminating each other.

Depending on how you have cut the cheese you will need different cutlery. a block will need a knife to cut it but slices will need a fork or tongs. Spoons are a good idea for very soft cheeses.

To accompany the cheese on the board you will need a few crackers or some bread. also consider adding some fresh or dried fruit and some nuts.

However you choose to serve you cheese board you are sure to enjoy the flavour, textures and aromas that the cheese has to offer.

Win/Win! – The Art of Negotiating Conflicts

Win/win is an attitude, not an outcome.
- Don Boyd

As long as there is life, there will always be conflicts to resolve. This truth is both universal and infinite!

Out of the crib and into the grave…conflicts do exist and it is the way of mankind to resolve our differences and learn and grow from them.

Some conflicts often do not have immediate solutions and the parties involved more often than not go through multiple stages of conflicts and their negotiations.

Months or years before you were born, your life was already a subject of discussion. Most certainly, your parents discussed what hospital to rush to for your delivery and discussed this with your mom’s doctor. Dad and Mom also talked about options with respect to the available finances anf resources. They also discussed with the doctor the possibility of a normal or caesarian delivery. In all these, the doctor and your parents might have different opinions and preferences. They all were after the best options according to how they saw it.

You thought that’s the end of it? Deciding your name became the next subject of negotiations. Everyone, including grand parents, aunts, even the next-door neighbors, and business associates, had their own say. After agreeing on your name, the date for christening followed, along with where and how the event would be celebrated. All these involve small negotiations – and you weren’t even born yet!

There’s no end to all the discussions and differences in opinion; and this is just infanthood. What about childhood, school life, adolescence, and young adulthood?

Even on the deathbed, the relatives of a dying person discuss what funeral service to hire, what burial rites to perform, etc. Life from start to finish is accompanied by discussions, differences of opinion, and final decisions. As long as these things happen, conflicts continue.

4 Stages Of Conflicts And How To Detect Them

The number one goal in resolving a conflict is to make sure both sides maintain their self-esteem. This is one phrase that should remind you of the overall objective in a conflict.

Conflicts differ in intensity. They are composed of four stages:

Stage One:

These are very mild discussions geared towards seeking quick and pleasurable solutions in problem solving. Opinion poll is taken from all possible sides, especially from those involved. Often, those who talk are the ones really involved. Others are contented to merely listen. In this stage, there are no heated arguments. The conflict can be resolved quickly and in a spirited mood. Examples of this type of conflict are choosing what clothes to wear, what movie to see, what hobby to do, or who to go out with on dates. Beware though. This conflict, though light and pleasurable, may develop into the next level if unchecked.

Stage Two:

Fiery words, emotional outbursts, and booming voices are just some of what you can expect in the second stage. Discussions can get hot and may extend for a certain period. This stage involves some loss in property, time, dignity, and principle.

A series of meetings or discussions may be needed, which may or may not result to conflict resolution. This may accelerate into the next stage of conflict if unresolved, or decelerate into the first stage of conflict and ends well as a result. The situation may get out of hand to the extent that more persons or events outside the main players (people really involved) may be dragged into it. It may be said that this stage is a half-blown stage of conflict.

Stage Three:

Aside from the issues in stage two, this may involve a loss of life. The situation is marked by a full-blown conflict and the parties involved find themselves at the verge of chaos.

The problems could be resolved, but solution calls for tolerance and some compromises on principles. Either or both parties will have to give in for negotiations to proceed and progress. The situation can revert to stage two depending on the results of the negotiations. It could escalate into a breakdown or total collapse of the situation. This could lead to a permanent strife between parties.

Stage Four:

When negotiations bog down and the players find themselves face to face in court, we have a stage four conflict. This is an expensive stage to be in. The attorney’s fees alone can be very shocking. As a champion negotiator, we don’t want to reach stage four. We want to keep things within stage one or two.

What Is A Negotiation?

The word “negotiate” has Latin roots: NEG which means “not” and OTIO which is translated to “leisure” and originally meant “to conduct business.” Negotiation is really a people process.

Negotiation is a process of trying to make opposing parties come to a middle ground where they can meet eye-to-eye, talk about their conflicts in a better light, and aspire for a win-win resolution to conflicts. Conflicts tend to keep involved parties at the opposite ends of the pole. They establish their own separate territories far from each other, and then dig deep into their turfs. This situation is no different from building their own separate war camps, with foxholes, shelters, artillery and arms depot, where they shoot at each other until one of them yields.

But yielding does not always mean the end of a conflict. It may just be a temporary surrender to enable both camps to consolidate and strengthen positions. A fresh conflict may again start soon. If negotiations fail, opposing parties may take up the case in court; or worse, deal with the case violently. As a champion negotiator, your job is to settle things out of court and without any violence. Just a few seconds ago, you have seen that negotiations ensue from birth to death. Every stage of your life involves some form of discussion or argument that needs efficient decision-making.

Now are you up for a simple activity? Drift yourself back through time and recall actual negotiations you were involved in. Do the following life situations look familiar? Have you been a witness to any of the following situations that clearly involved negotiations?

1. Child and parent negotiations on buying a toy. (Can you guess who normally wins?)

2. Negotiations between or among playmates on what, how, and where they should play.

3. Going to school everyday, especially the “waking up early” part.

4. Arguing with Dad on whether to go camping/outing or not.

5. What school to go to in high school or junior high.

6. A class report where you try to convince everybody of what you have researched.

7. What clothes or shoes to buy.

8. Who to go out with on a date and where.

9. Who to choose as boy or girl friend.

10. What college course to take and where.

11. What company of friends to join.

12. What organization to work for or what business to undertake.

13. Who to marry.

14. How many kids to have.

15. What house to settle in with your family and where.

Discussions of differences in opinion and how to settle them halfway are the courses of life. We often encounter such situations first with our parents and relatives, then with our playmates, then with our schoolmates, then with our spouse, boss, clients, and colleagues in office or business. Later in life, you will even have to negotiate for your health and life. Dying people are known to negotiate with God for a second chance at life or for a quick, painless death. Indeed, prayer is really a negotiation.

Any form of communication is part of negotiation. Saying “Hello” upon picking up the phone is an invitation to a discussion. Then you ask, “May I speak with Kurt?” In that instant, the possibility of a simple negotiation can get under way. But am I willing to speak or do I want to elude you or…has the conflict just begun?

Presenting to a Multi-Generational Audience

These can be challenging times for speakers and corporate trainers. The children of Baby Boomers are beginning to flood into the workforce and for the first time ever organizations are faced with the need to manage four different generations in the office. Those generations – Matures, Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials (also called Generation Y) – each poses a different challenge for those charged with informing and educating them. They’re an extremely diverse audience that can stymie even the most experienced and dynamic speaker.

The Mature or Silent generation, born before 1945, displays a loyalty to the company that places duty before pleasure. These are the folks who survived the great depression and fought in World War II. Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are known as workaholics with a love-hate relationship to authority. They have been known for being both idealistic and optimistic, but somewhat impatient at times.

Gen Xers — the MTV generation — came into the world between 1965 and 1979. They often demonstrate independence and results orientation, but they are also known for their skepticism. Generation Y – the Millennials — was born between 1980 and 1999. They grew up in a time of economic expansion and unprecedented prosperity; until recently they have never experienced a downturn. This generation has seen more at an earlier age than most members of previous generations, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine shootings and the tragedy of September 11. Exposure to these events through 24-hour media has brought the world to them instantaneously. This is a techno-savvy generation for whom multi-tasking is second nature.

Obviously, speaking to a multi-generational audience can be challenging. How can you meet the unique needs of each audience member while keeping everyone “on the same page?” Many speakers resort to visuals – handouts, videos and PowerPoint slides – to make their presentations livelier and hold audience interest. That seems logical, given that each generation has experienced an explosion of more new, sophisticated media than the generation before. The fatal flaw in this approach, however, is that adding traditional visuals to your presentation may turn off, rather than inspire, your audience.

A more effective approach would be to follow the Five Rules of Engagement….The Multi-Generational kind.

1. Get over yourself. Leave your ego at the door and remember it’s a privilege to speak.
2. Keep it short – Present content concisely. Your audience members are used to receiving information in sound bites and capsule summaries.
3. Create an “experience”. Touch as many senses as you can, never forgetting the power of music and visuals.
4. Tell stories. Remember that you are not always the main character and no age group should ever be stereotyped in your presentation.
5. Switch it up. Try new things and novel approaches. Same-old, same-old becomes staged and insincere.
These rules speak to the presenter’s need to go beyond bullet points and avoid information overload. They encourage speakers to win the ‘hearts,’ as well as the ‘minds’ of their audiences. These tips are less about style than they are about content … more about capturing the audience’s imaginations than just filling their ears.

In addition to the Rules of Engagement you may also want to consider these strategies to keep every audience member involved, no matter what generation they’re from:

o Focus on “take home” value – This is more a function of these demanding times than of generational differences, but members of all four generations appreciate it when you get to the point and make it practical.
o Employ multiple technologies – Extensive PowerPoint presentations are so “yesterday.” Today’s audiences (especially Generations X and Y) will expect you to refer them to websites for more information and practical tools they can put to use. This will not only hold their attention … it will merit their enthusiasm.
o Solicit feedback through technology – Post-presentation feedback forms may suffice for Matures and Boomers, but Gen Xers and Millennials will prefer to blog, chat, text and tweet in response to your presentation. Set up the technology as necessary and encourage them to give you feedback as they desire. It’ll keep them engaged and may well yield more valuable feedback for you.

One thing is clear … today’s speakers face multi-generational audiences that challenge their skills and effectiveness. However, by delivering a fresh topic with passion and incorporating some multi-generational strategies into your presentation, you can ensure that your audience is fully “tuned-in” and that you’re achieving your goals.