Keep technology in its place

“The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.” Edward R. Murrow The media is there to support you and your message in a presentation – it will NOT do the job for you. Your audience does not just want to hear what you have to say and look at your PowerPoint slides – they also want to get a feel for who YOU are. The presenter who relies on overloaded slides, complicated visual support and confusing special effects is placing the technology in the spotlight and not the person. Here are our top ten, simple to apply tips that will enable you to make a real connection to your audiences AND use technology the right way: 1. Feel comfortable with equipment: check out and test BEFORE the presentation starts so that you can control the technology (and not the other way round). 2. Keep slides simple (less is definitely more): hold attention with one main message per slide, a cohesive graphic style, some visual variety and a few simple transition and animation effects. 3. Plan to use a media mix: combine hi-tech with low-tech by occasional use of a flipchart or white board to answer questions or emphasise an important point. 4. Practice the opening: get off to a good start by knowing exactly what you want to say at the beginning and deliver the first few sentences confidently WITHOUT slides. 5. Let them see you: deliver your...

Networking: Be your own best advocate

“The medium is the message.” Marshall McLuhan The contacts made in business networking will be useful in a number of ways such as growing your business, reaching new clients or in reinforcing your own professional reputation. However, like all marketing tools, for business networking to deliver a return you have to invest time and energy, polishing up some skills or perhaps even acquiring new ones. In order to be remembered for all the right reasons, it is especially important to hit the right note when you meet new people or when you are offered the chance to make a short pitch to the group. In business networking, the medium is you! Your name /your company: (essential of course…) What is special about you /the company: (awards, qualifications, experience…) What you offer: (in a few sentences with strong focus on the benefits for the customer…) What you are looking for: (referrals, new opportunities, meetings…) The sign-off: (repeat or emphasise a point you want the listener to remember…) It is important to practise and be able to deliver this pitch confidently at the drop of hat. However, remember that networking is not just about referrals and very rarely will a first meeting result in an immediate sale. Our advice is to approach networking as a chance to get to KNOW others: Look to build relationships rather than attempting to make a sale. Use positive and welcoming body language to maintain rapport. Be enthusiastic and friendly towards fellow networkers. Give people your time and show interest in what they do by asking questions. Follow-up on any promises you make. When it comes...

Generate multiple options with questions

When you want to coach for innovation, your challenge is to resist the natural tendency to voice an immediate solution or to give advice. Instead, start an exploration process. Move from telling to asking questions that encourage the other person to refocus their attention and tap into their own potential to generate options and find new, unique solutions. The three main focus areas for your questions are: 1. Information Gathering: explore the background of the problem or issue. 2. Causes: consider what led to the problem or issue in the first place. 3. Goal & Fixes: check the goal and generate options to solve the problem or issue. Find out more about how to generate multiple options with Coaching for Innovation (2014, Palgrave Macmillan) by Maureen Steele and Cristina...

Communicating “with heart”

During a briefing session with a client last week to prepare for a presentation training programme for his team, I asked the question, “What should the participants be able to do (or do better) after the training, that they cannot currently do?” His answer was that they should be better speakers and presenters, able to get their message across and able to do it with heart. I probed a little so that we could set some specific goals – especially about what he meant by “with heart”. It became clear that he knew exactly what he meant but found it difficult to find words that precisely expressed what he had in mind. A few adjectives were used such as “lively” and also the phrase “speak directly to the listeners”.  Having reflected now for a few days, I think what he really means is “be able to connect”, not just at a content level but more importantly at the relationship level. Both are important in communication. Truly connecting is best achieved by being authentic and having the courage to open yourself up. It means “letting go of who you think you should be to be who you are”.  This quote comes from a very inspiring (and funny talk) by Brené Brown, to be found at TED Talks. I encourage you to watch – especially if the ability to make the connection and communicate “with heart” has so far eluded...

New Year, new job?

January is the time for resolutions – perhaps yours is to move on and find the ideal next step up the career ladder; or perhaps – in these difficult economic times – the decision to look for a new post is not even your own choice; or maybe you are a recent graduate looking for an internship or your very first professional position. Whatever the case, completing your application and preparing for an interview are critical and integral parts of this process, requiring both excellent written and face-to-face communication skills. If you want to be a successful applicant, you will need to revisit your CV and brush up on your interview technique. What do YOU find the most challenging about this process? Is there anything in particular YOU would like to get some tips on? Send us a message or post a comment – some of our next posts will give you tips on putting your CV together, writing a great cover letter and how to shine at...

The networking way to introduce yourself

The contacts made in business networking are useful in a number of ways such as growing your business, reaching new clients or in reinforcing your own professional reputation. It is especially important to hit the right note when you meet new people  in a networking situation and have to introduce yourself or when you are offered the chance to make a short pitch to the group about your business. Prepare and practise a few sentences  and be able to deliver this pitch confidently at the drop of hat. 1.    Your name /your company: essential of course. 2.    What is special about you /the company: awards, qualifications, experience. 3.    What you offer: in a few sentences with strong focus on the benefits for the customer. 4.    What you are looking for: referrals, new opportunities, meetings. 5.    The sign-off: repeat or emphasise a point you want the listener to remember. How to be great networker is Tip 19 in “52 Brilliant Communication Tips” by Maureen...