Thursday, July 28, 2016

Speaking: When a Content Marketing Strategy Beats Hard Pitching

Many conferences and events are undermined by speakers who insist on trying to sell from the stage. Very often this is banned or discouraged. even when it is allowed it is still a very bad idea.

What works much better is to take a content marketing approach. Instead of simply trying to sell your product or service try instead to give a useful talk on a topic related to your business -- something that is useful for the listeners without a direct commercial message.

This works because most people do not want to hear your sales pitch -- if they had wanted that they would invite you to pitch at your company -- but they will listen to an interesting talk. Say something relevant and people will listen, they will remember you and they will have a more favorable opinion of you, your company and your products.

You are also much more likely to be asked to speak again. Perhaps the original speaking slot came as part of a sponsorship deal and the organizers had no power to veto weak ideas. But by delivering a product pitch you just guarantee that you will always have to pay to speak. Speakers who are interesting are invited back, they are invited to new events, they get asked for comments by journalists.

If you are not sure what to speak about ask a few friends what they would like to know more about your business, look at the trending stories in the news and perhaps ask the organizers if they have any inputs. Maybe there is an overall theme that you can connect with, or maybe in their research for the event they actually polled the attendees to find out what they want. Delivering an interesting talk that is closely aligned with the theme of the event is the surest way to get a reputation as a desirable speaker.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking and other communication topics contact Andrew Hennigan on 0033 6 79 61 42 81 or 0046 730 894 475 or

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How to Become a More Eloquent Speaker

Not everyone who attends speaker workshops and coaching is aiming to become a TED/TEDx speaker or start a new career in politics. Quite often they just want to be able to speak more eloquently in one-to-one conversations, in meetings and anywhere else where success depends on an ability with words.

Speaking eloquently, finding the right words at the right time, is a skill that anyone can learn and this learning can be boiled down into just three key activities.

Building Passive Language Skills: When your brain is transforming thoughts into words it relies on ideas, words and phrases that you know already. Only very rarely will anyone coin a new expression in real time. To ensure that you have these raw materials handy in your memory you need to read and listen to quality content. Listen to TED and TEDx talks, listen to talk radio, listen to audiobooks, listen to live speakers and attend panel discussions or debates. Don't just listen to people on your side of any argument. There are good speakers on all sides and listening to a broader spectrum of styles is more useful to you than living in an echo chamber. You will also learn many useful ideas, words and expressions through reading, so spend some time reading quality longform journalism. Use downtime in your schedule to read another article from the Atlantic, Aeon, New Yorker and other quality sources.

Develop Active Language Skills: Just having plenty of words, ideas, phrases and structures in your memory doesn't automatically make you a good speaker just like having a piano doesn't make you a pianist. It helps, but you need to practice using these mental resources so that when you need to speak the idea you have in your head is translated into words effortlessly, in real time. There is only one way to practice and that is to speak. Never miss a chance to speak in front of an audience, never miss a chance to have conversations with interesting people and never miss a chance for a complicated conversational opportunity where a group of quick thinkers are all sitting round a table. If your own job doesn't give many speaking opportunities look for non profits where you can volunteer, join the local debating society or maybe get involved in local politics. If you aren't having conversations with people you are not honing your speaking skills.

Prepare for Predictable Surprises: Finally, having both strong passive and active speaking language skills is not the whole story. Those people you see speaking who seem to be able to talk without preparation and always find the perfect comeback in milliseconds are almost certainly preparing. You can and should prepare in advance for unplanned speaking opportunities and conversations. Everyone should be able to present who they are and what they do without any warning. And if you are known to be working on a project you should be able to talk about that without warning, too. Make a list of the things you might be asked to speak about and prepare at least an outline of what you would say. For one-to-one conversations and meetings you can also anticipate conversations and prepare in advance. Scan the news headlines every day because that will suggest topics likely to come up in a general conversation. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you might say about the issues of the day. And monitor the social media "undertalk" to see what the people you are going to meet are likely to talk about. You get valuable clues from social media about what they have read, what they think is important and what they think about them. Be ready to talk about these topics, checking the background with Wikipedia just in case.

Build your passive language skills by listening and reading, develop your active skills by practicing and prepare in advance and your speaking can only become more eloquent.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching & Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about public speaking and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan on 0033 6 79 61 42 81, 0046 730 894 475 or

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Why Asking Other People Sometimes Beats Googling

In networking workshops I always tell people that networking is important not just for finding jobs. Among other things it is also a key part of any influencing effort and it is very helpful for obtaining information. With a strong network you will receive useful and timely information that you never thought of asking, and you will find it easier to get answers to your questions.

But both in workshops and in Q&A forums like Quora people often ask why anyone would ask questions to other people when there is Google? Can't you get the same information yourself by searching? Doesn't asking people annoy them? There are some simple factual questions where asking a connection would be overkill. Want to know which city is the capital of Finland? That's clearly a job for Google. But there are some compelling reasons for asking your network in plenty of other everyday cases. Here are the top five:

Google just gives the sources, not the answer. There are some trivial cases where Google actually pulls out an answer from a source like Wikipedia and presents it in a box next to the search results. But in many cases it just provides links to documents that might contain the answer but you have to read hundreds or thousands of words to find the thing that you are looking for. Sometimes it really is quicker to post a question on social media or send a quick message to someone in your network. Even some apparently simple "facts" like why an airplane wing generates lift turn out to be more complex than people think.

There is no simple answer.  There are many unambiguous questions where there is a single answer and any respectable search engine will find that answer very quickly. You would be unwise to trouble a connection with questions like this or they will start to ignore your messages and calls. But there are also many questions where there isn't a simple answer and you need an expert opinion. Even an apparently simple question like which is the best video editing software for my needs really requires an expert human analysis. Just Googling "best video editing software" will find many articles on the topic and you have to read them all to find the answer, which might also be out of date. Someone up to speed on video editing tools can probably ask a few questions then confidently give a useful answer in seconds.

Google has too many answers. In many other cases the problem is not that Google doesn't find anything but that it finds too many things, leaving you with the problem of identifying the best with imperfect information. What makes this so difficult is the level of noise in search engine results coming from aggressive search-engine manipulation. Try, for example, searching for a good hotel and you will be swamped with results. Ask the same question to your network and you will get accurate answers from sources that you can trust. Where's a good place to stay in Aix en Provence? Someone who has lived there can give an answer that factors in not just the quality of the hotel but also the location. Anyone familiar with the unusual anticlockwise traffic circulation around the center of town can quickly work out where is a good place to stay depending on where you want to go and taking into account the traffic.

Usually Google just answers the question. For most questions a Google search might find the answer to the question you asked, but a human will often do more than that, answering a question that perhaps you never thought of asking but which you would have if you had thought of it. In a recent conversation with a luthier about guitar design for a lecture I am preparing he answered my questions about guitars but also added an interesting parallel from violin design that I had never thought of. Another time I asked a museum about their policy on visitor photography for an article. One museum spokesperson answered all my questions but then volunteered another point I had not thought to ask -- evidence that in spite of all the bans many people take photos anyway.

Asking your network strengthens relationships. Assuming that you have a good reason for asking the question in the first place, asking your network also tends to strengthen relationships. First of all, just by asking you give people an opportunity to help you, so you are grateful to them. By accepting this help you actually make them happy, too. This might sound counterintuitive but accepting help is also a great way to strengthen bonds. At the same time by asking and accepting help from someone else you make it easier for them to ask for help, shifting your network more towards a collaborative community which benefits everyone. You might also discover some unexpected side effects. Ask about hotels in some place and people might ask why you are going there, leading to interesting conversations.

By all means use Google to answer simple, uncontroversial factual questions, but for other things consider asking your network. Someone you know maybe knows a better answer than you thought you wanted, or perhaps they know the person who can help.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about networking, influencing and other communication topics you can contact Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Why You Should Make Media Contact Info Easy to Find

Here's an interesting experiment to try. Ask someone not familiar with your company -- maybe the new intern or a friend -- to find the media contact information on your website. Did they find it? How long did it take?

If it seems to take a long time or -- the worst case outcome -- they can't find any useful media contact information then you have a problem. Yet this is a problem that is surprisingly common, even for businesses and organizations that should know better.

When someone just has to write about your company or whatever they have to try through other channels --  sometimes I have resorted to asking through Twitter or Facebook -- but very often they just need to talk to someone in your business. If your media contact information is missing or hidden they just ask someone else and you miss the opportunity.

It also matters how you provide contact information. What most journalists are looking for is an email address and a phone number for those urgent requests where only a phone call will be fast enough. And the email has to be an email address that someone is watching. Far too often messages are answered only when the article is already published and the request is moot.

Ideally what journalists would like to have is an immediate confirmation that someone has received the email and that they are working on it. This is also a good time to clarify the deadline. If there isn't going to be a response to the questions for some reason then it's useful to have a brief "Sorry, no." message. After you have promised to send a response make sure you do it on time. Better a poorer response on time than a perfect one that is too late.

Avoid using web forms because they are unreliable and very often people faced with no choice but a webform will just go elsewhere. The problem with webforms is that you don't know what is happening, where the messages go and if anyone will ever see your questions before it's too late. With an email address you at least know if it was delivered, even if the account is monitored by different people.

Sometime social media can also be a great way to get a fast response, but the problem with using social media is the uncertainty. There are companies that monitor their social media accounts very carefully and respond in minutes to a Twitter inquiry. But there are also some companies that seem to have a one-way approach to social media, posting scheduled content and ignoring responses. That's why people often prefer trying email first. Make sure it works and make sure that people can find it quickly!

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about communication topics you can contact the author Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Influencing: Learning from the Everglades Airboat Case

Since the 1940's the characteristic airboats of the Florida Everglades have been carrying tourists and hunters through the grassy swamplands of the state's southern tip. But when the Everglades National Park was expanded by a new law in 1989 there was a provision calling for the use of airboats to be phased out to reduce damage to the park ecosystem.

Restricting any popular activity is complicated because many people will oppose the ban, and in any democratic regime opposition will at the very least delay plans if not actually derail them.

Dealing with opposition is the key problem in any influencing case and the Everglades Airboat Case is no exception. If the regulators simply ban the use of airboats in the expanded park area where people have been airboating for decades they can expect some vocal opposition. What they have chosen to do is instructive and an interesting lesson for students of influencing.

According to reports in the media, the way that the law will be implemented is to restrict airboat use to anyone who was over 16 and a regular user in 1989. Any of those airboat users who apply now will be given a lifetime permit that expires when they die and then no more permits will be issued. As nature takes its course the number of permits and thus the number of permits will gradually decline, achieving the gradual phase out included in the 1989 law.

This approach cleverly turns the only likely opponents into allies. When anyone is trying to sell an idea it is often the opponents that decide the day. Even if you have many people on your side just a few opponents -- sometimes just one -- is enough to block your plans. In theory airboat operators are likely to be opposed to the restrictions, but by giving them permits you turn them into allies -- in return for accepting that their descendants won't be riding airboats they obtain a lifetime permit.

Turning opponents into allies is one of the most effective influencing techniques available and it has been used in many cases. Stockholm's congestion charge, for example, was implemented partly thanks to the very clever move of exempting car rental and taxi companies -- two lobbies that would otherwise have opposed the scheme. Not only did that eliminate their opposition it also turned them into positive allies, since by reducing private traffic it benefited their businesses.

What we can learn from the Everglades Airboat Case is that at the heart of effective influencing there is the analysis of the landscape identifying the players and bringing opponents onto your own team, or at least to dial down their opposition. A little creativity in doing this will solve the most challenging influencing problems.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about Influencing and other topics you can contact the author Andrew Hennigan on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81 and by email at

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Asking Help from Online Strangers? Better Fix Your Footprint

Like many people I have no problem with helping strangers who reach out through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora and other social media provided that the request is reasonable and polite. But I realize that there is another factor people consider: your online footprint.

Since I don’t know you all I have to go on is your online reputation, and most of the time I am not going to Google someone just to see who they are. The first place I will look is the profile on the site where they tried to contact me. Quite often people contact me on Twitter, Facebook or Quora who have no biographical information, no links to other profiles and sometimes even no photo. This is a deal breaker. Why should I make an effort to help someone I don’t know if that person doesn’t even identify themselves? This is the digital equivalent to approaching me in real life with a paper bag over your head, asking for a favor without revealing who you are. Not many people feel the urge to help in these circumstances.

What this means is that if you want to approach people you don’t know and you want these people to take time to help you it is vitally important to make sure that your online profile is well defined. You will also need to formulate the request in the right way – that’s probably a good topic for a future post – but your online footprint is equally important. There are some spaces online where people use pseudonyms and anonymity, but in the professional space this doesn’t work. Nobody hires anons, nobody works with anonymous freelancers. At least not in legit business.

To maximize your chances of getting help your first priority is to make sure that you have a helpful profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora and so on. For Facebook you might find it useful to have a public profile with your real name with real biographical information. At the very least people want to know who you are, what you do and where you are. Ideally there should be a link to your landing page where there is more information and it helps to link together your social profiles so that people can find easily the others if they want to.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about communication contact Andrew Hennigan at or by phone on 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Three Ways Social Media Helps Recruiting

Why should a company use social media as part of the recruiting process? There are at least three good reasons that are valid both for small businesses and large organizations.

Probably the most common way that companies use social media is simply to raise awareness of job opportunities. Since social media has, in theory, global coverage by posting to LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter you reach a much greater population than traditional job advertising. If you craft the post so that it is very appealing random people will also share it to their network, making it even more visible. That's the reason why a job ad should never be boring. But there are two obstacles to this: there are no truly global social media -- you might need to use multiple channels to reach your target demographics -- and some people spend very little time reading content, they just post their links then move on.

Where social media really helps companies to find better talent is in social network data mining. Back in the day you would advertise a job, some people would apply, you would sort through hundreds of CVs, interview the most promising candidate and then make the choice. Today you can get a premium LinkedIn account and simply search for all the people with the qualities you are looking for then reach out to the ones that look most interesting. The advantages of this approach are that you reach even people who maybe are not thinking of a new job and that the whole process is much simpler, faster and cheaper. You don't reach everyone this way, though, because there are still a few people who refuse to use LinkedIn, but maybe you don't want someone unfamiliar with the business tools of our century anyway.

But there is also another reason for using social media in your recruiting, A well-managed, professional looking social media campaign can foster a favorable climate for the recruiting by creating a favorable image of your company.  Most young people and many older people would be deterred from applying for a job at a company that appears to be clueless about social media. This is sometimes viewed as an alarm system that the workplace still has a 1990s feel or worse. By demonstrating an understanding of social media practice the company will look much more attractive, even if the position is actually filled in some other way.

Managing social media effectively is neither difficult nor expensive. Anyone can learn to manage the process and to operate the social media machinery with simple workshops and courses. But since the technology is continually evolving you also need to keep up with new developments to be effective.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching, Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing about social media and digital marketing you can contact the author Andrew Hennigan by email at or by phone at 0046 730 894 475 or 0033 6 79 61 42 81.