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Showing posts from August, 2016

Few, Simple Messages are the Key to Effective Speeches, Presentations

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In my role as speaker coach I have noticed that increasingly often people are confident and competent presenters but they are let down by the material. To be successful in speaking you need to get two things right: you need to be able to deliver your content effectively and you need to have content that is worth delivering.

All of the people I coach one-to-one know their topic and they have interesting things to say. The only problem lies in selecting and organizing this material.

My experience is that the best way to address this task is to start with the result. Rather than collecting information then trying to organize it, what usually works better is to start with the end result and work backwards. There are three steps in this process.

Choosing the Key Messages. First of all you have to define exactly what you want the audience to think at the end of the presentation. Remember that if this is not clear in your head then it will be difficult to plant a clear idea in other people&#…

Best Practices for Writing Leak Resistant Emails

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In a recent post I wrote that anyone using email should remember that the enemy is listening, and that you should assume that everything you write might be leaked and write accordingly. Since then many people have asked for more practical guidelines about exactly how you should do this, so here are five essential best practices. You cannot stop emails being leaked but at least you can minimize the fallout.

Don't write more than you have to. Most people write a lot more than they have to. This extra information slows down readers and makes misunderstandings more likely anyway, so re-read every message before you send it and delete anything that isn't needed. This is good practice anyway, but also limits the damage when a message is leaked. That extra, unnecessary content could be the part that embarrasses you or could add context that makes an otherwise oblique message much clearer.

Maintain a polite, respectful and calm tone. Sometimes it's not so much the content but the t…

Networking in the Workplace: Collecting the Low-Hanging Fruit

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Effective networking usually takes a certain amount of effort, but there are some situations where there are plenty of opportunities and it would be a pity to waste them. One is when you are studying -- former classmates form a solid core of your network if you handle it correctly -- and the other is your workplace. Unless you work alone you are potentially in contact regularly with tens, hundreds or even thousands of people. How many of these people do you know well enough to ask for help? How many of them even know who you are? Working with other people is an outstanding opportunity to get to know people. Don't just connect to everyone you hear about on LinkedIn because this has very little value. Focus instead of building a reputation for being helpful and trustworthy. This is actually much simpler than it sounds and consists of three basic activities. Networking in your workplace is not just about collecting contact information. This has essentially zero value. What you shoul…

Influence: Dealing with the Unexpected

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Back in the days when GPS navigators were almost unknown in vehicles I had to produce a video showing how they were used. With an employee of the vendor at the wheel and a video camera operator in the front passenger seat we drove around for a while, following the spoken route instructions.

"Turn left", the navigator would say, and we turned left.                          
"Turn right", the navigator said, and we turned right.

But then I asked. "What happens if we disobey the instructions?". Apparently nobody had asked that question before. The driver had no idea. "Let's try!".

So the next time the voice said "Turn left" he completely ignored it, driving straight ahead. I half expected an angry voice to tell us we had missed the turn, but no. There was just a moment of silence then it just said calmly "Turn right".  Unfazed, it had recalculated a new route starting from the new position.

With hindsight this seems like a…