Influencing

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Linking and building to successfully influence others

In today’s business world of cross-functional initiatives, matrix structures and virtual teams the ability to influence others is becoming even more essential if you want to succeed. And no matter what your influencing style is, to effectively influence somebody you need to connect with them. If you’re trying to influence somebody it means that you have differing opinions and ideas. One of the simplest ways to influence somebody is by “linking and building”: Find and focus on the agreement … and then build on this. Most people are open to sharing and discussing their opinions and ideas – and most of us are aware that our ideas are not the only ones valid. What we want is to be taken seriously and feel listened to.  This is where “linking” comes in – if you link your ideas to their ideas it clearly shows you have listened to and understood their thoughts and feelings.  And when you build on somebody’s ideas it means you are validating their contributions.  This builds rapport and relationships WHICH then makes the process of influencing so much easier...
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 5 things to keep in mind

1. Is the link already there?Do you just need to draw their attention to it? Or will you need to build the link step by step? If so you need to find some common ground – this could be a shared goal, a previous experience or perhaps the two of you are seeing the same current challenges?  Open questions like “Where do you think we need to go?” or “What are your thoughts?” work well here …

2. When you find your “link”, be explicit about what you like / share about their views, opinion, drives etc. For example. “It’s clear to me that we both want to make sure any changes we make don’t cost people more time” or “What I really like about your approach is that you’re considering the end-user first. I feel the same way”

3. Focus on positives and use positive language. Most people are very rarely completely wrong, just as you are very rarely completely right.  Understanding this means that it is always possible to approach something by looking for the “right” ideas e.g. “What I like about your suggestion is …” thereby creating a positive spiral and rapport – as opposed to focusing on what you don’t like e.g. “ I can’t imagine this working” thereby creating a downwards negative spiral (source – George Prince – The Practice of Creativity).

4. There are going to be differences. If there weren’t you wouldn’t be trying to influence each other! But make an effort to delay focusing on differences until some bridges have been built. When you turn to them, link back to the shared elements you’ve found and be explicit about your reasons. “It seems that we agree on the causes of the problem and we have different ideas about what needs doing. Why do you think this is?” Don’t assume the everything is obvious!

5. And finally as you progress do continually clarify. Use language like “So what you’re saying is …” and “Let me just check I’m understanding you … “. This shows your understanding of their views, ideas and thoughts AND actually ensures you do actually understand. Build your bridge on concrete foundations.

Linking and building is just one of many practical techniques from our influencing seminars that can help you successfully influence others. And it starts with getting all parties to face in the same direction. Please contact if you’d like to know more.

 

What is active listening, how do I develop it and should I be making little noises?

business across cultures

Listening skills are an integral part of many of our training solutions, e.g.  Influencing, Managing Conflict and Facilitating meetings all include practical components on listening skills. However, we had a rare request from a pharmaceutical client seeking training focusing solely on active listening for their senior managers.  The new board member strongly believed that improving her manager’s listening skills would have a major impact on the quality of relationships and the effectiveness of her team. And she was right … the seminar started and almost immediately, one manager asked me, “Active listening – that’s just when you make little noises, right?”


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What is active listening?

Our tactful answer was “not quite”.  Active listening (as the name suggests) is when you actively and fully concentrate on what is being said, rather than just passively hearing the words.  Communication theory breaks what is being said into two elements – the content and the context. Content is the what – the data, the facts, the information etc. Context refers to everything else that is going on when somebody speaks with you – the relationship, the background, the situation, the emotions etc.  Active listening involves paying close attention to the content being shared AND the contextual components between the listener (the receiver) and the speaker (the sender). Skilled active listeners can hear the what PLUS interest, emotion, concern, energy and other contextual factors from the speaker’s perspective. And they can hear what isn’t being said.

Why invest energy and effort in building your active listening skills?

The benefits of active listening are many.  To start with you’ll hear more … much more. You can enrich your understanding through gathering information and understanding the emotions. You will ask better questions through noticing the speaker’s possible intent, and not only their words. It helps you avoid or diffuse conflicts. Better listening means that solutions and discussion are stronger. Active listening is a building block for open, trusting and accountable relationships.

7 practical tips for active listening

Pay attention

I mean REALLY pay attention to what is being said. Put aside distracting thoughts, try to block out environmental factors (side conversations, people watching etc) and listen holistically.

Know your obstacles to listening

Everyone is guilty of having “inner conversations” when listening – and whether it be judging, dreaming, solving or rehearsing what you want to say these common obstacles get in the way of active listening. Check out this blog post for more information or download the .pdf version here.

Develop countermeasures for your obstacles

Self talk to interrupt your distraction and refocus and internal paraphrasing can help. Basically, this sounds like you telling yourself “Stop it and focus on them not you

Listen for context

Approach a meeting with listening tasks such as learning the interests of others in the room and listening for the valued being created in the conversation.

Dialogue approach

Listen with a mind to understand what is being said and not judge what is being said.

Listen with your eyes

Listen to what they are saying, how they are saying it, “listen” to their body language and “listen” to their eyes.

Provide feedback

It is incredibly difficult not to filter, assume or judge when we listen. As an active listener your role is just to listen. Reflecting, restating and asking questions are essential – just make sure you are doing this to check you are understanding the content and context and not to discuss, negotiate, argue, influence, correct etc.

So should I be making little noises when I actively listen, or not ?

Of course we also send messages when we listen IF we listen actively and affectively. In western cultures we expect some feedback from our listeners that indicates interest, from non-verbal messages such as nodding, smiles, eye contact and posture to small verbal comments like “uh huh” or “ “I see”. Do keep in mind thought that not every culture listens in the same way – and likewise not every individual listens in the same way.  A lack of “ums” and “aahs” doesn’t always mean somebody is not listening.

To wrap up

Active listening helps you to create an environment that supports deeper, more honest and authentic communication. Whether you are managing people, negotiating, discussing, influencing, problem solving, why wouldn’t you invest the energy and effort in becoming a better listener?

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Book review: How to win friends and influence people

I’m sure a number of you have either heard of, or read, Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.  It has been in circulation since 1936 and there is good reason for that. I know a lot of people say “Ah, that’s too American rah! rah! for me.” or “That is a bunch of self-help nonsense and should only be read by depressed salespeople!”  The fact is that the book is rather “human”. A lot of what is said applies to basic, human interaction and feelings that we all experience each day. That is the main reason this book has been around for so long as it relates to those both inside and outside of the business world.  Sure, there are some points made that are a bit of a stretch, and some that aren’t universally applicable, but once you sift through those there are a lot of great ideas from which business people can benefit.

Some interesting points from the book

There are many other great points in the book that relate to daily business situations. Here are just a few. (In this “Secret to Success” download, there’s a full overview of Dale Carnegie’s 30 principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, and the principles from “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”.)

Talk in terms of other people’s interests

People love to talk about themselves.  Ask a few questions to get people talking about what they like, attentively listen, and then you will be surprised at how much they like you.  Do a little research on what the other person you are trying to influence likes and show some genuine interest before diving into the business issue.

Don’t criticize

It is easy to immediately tell someone they are wrong when they make a mistake.  This may lead to resentment or possibly hatred towards you.  Next time, take a minute to try to understand where they are coming from and why they see things the way they do.  Don’t point out your colleagues mistakes each time, but ask some questions and allow the person to come to the conclusion that it could be a bit better on their own.

Say a person’s name

Everyone likes to hear their name. Take time to learn people’s names and remember them no matter how “unimportant” they may seem to your immediate needs.  By knowing people’s names and saying hello in your client’s office, it could help you close the big deal as you would be surprised how valuable the opinions of others in a company are.

Smile

I know, you don’t want to walk around smiling all the time because you will feel fake and uncomfortable.  But try it a few more times a day when you normally wouldn’t and see how others respond.  You may be surprised.

Begin in a friendly way

Many times we start a discussion, call, or email with the issue we are trying to solve.  Take some time and make some small talk or say something complimentary before conducting business.  It will take people off the defensive and make it easier to have difficult conversations.  Next time you want to file a complaint or negotiate a lower price, reiterate the positives you have experienced with that company before asking for something.  Many people will be happy to help someone they perceive as being friendly and not aggressive.

Admit if you are wrong quickly

This is hard to do at times, but it goes a long way in getting the other person to see where you are coming from and then softening their stance when it comes to a disagreement.  If you know your boss is angry about a mistake you made, don’t try to come up with excuses but instead come right out and admit the fault and what you should have done.  They will respect you for it and most likely be less hard on you.

 

 

 

5 simple assertiveness strategies (for teddy bears and tortoises)

We all know the feeling. You come out of a meeting, negotiation or a conflict discussion with a difficult team member, and say to yourself, “If I had only said or done this.” Or “Was I too hard on my report?” For whatever reason, you aren’t asserting yourself and addressing the issue.

What do we mean by assertiveness?

listening skills target trainingBefore going any further we ought to agree and be clear what “being assertive” is. We have all experienced managers, experts who have the ability to set people on the right course, give negative feedback without breaking the relationship, or make a tough point without being offensive or hurtful. They handle substance and people equally well …and that is true assertiveness. These people have good communication skills, are blessed with social and emotional intelligence and have reached the fourth level of “conscious competence”.

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Very quickly, here’s the fourth level, explained in more detail:

Level 4 – unconscious competence*

  • the skill becomes so practised that it enters the unconscious parts of the brain – it becomes ‘second nature’
  • common examples are driving, sports activities, typing, manual dexterity tasks, listening and communicating
  • it becomes possible for certain skills to be performed while doing something else, for example, knitting while reading a book
  • the person might now be able to teach others in the skill concerned, although after some time of being unconsciously competent the person might actually have difficulty in explaining exactly how they do it – the skill has become largely instinctual
  • this arguably gives rise to the need for long-standing unconscious competence to be checked periodically against new standards

*Taken from http://www.businessballs.com/consciouscompetencelearningmodel.htm

But this takes time, experience and maybe innate ability. So what about us mere mortals lower down the food chain who struggle with the substance/people balance?

Assertiveness starts with knowing our rights and responsibilities

In the world of learning and development we understand that being assertive is being aware we have rights and responsibilities. In other words, we have the right to assert our position, but (especially as a manager) we have the responsibility to be fair and to respect our reports and colleagues. This easier said than done. Furthermore it is often those who tend to play the teddy bear (accommodate), or the tortoise (avoid conflict) who need most support and coaching. People who tend to be pushy, or even aggressive (the sharks), normally feel quite good about themselves. So here are 5 strategies for teddy bears and tortoises.

5 communication strategies that work

Scripting

If you have a difficult discussion coming up, then write down your key arguments, how you can best convince the other party. Script how you address the issue, how you formulate what you want, how you word criticism and other sensitive issues. Unless you are very experienced, just relying on intuition and ‘seeing where the moment will take you’ can be costly.

SPIN

When you want something out of the ordinary from a team member or colleague, then script using the SPIN formula: Situation – Problem – Impact (of the problem on the business) – Need. In other words involve the report by briefly describing the context. Involve them and treat them as adults.

Saying no

As a manager you have the right to say no. If you want to say “No”, then say it but give a reason and maybe provide an alternative. If you want to say “Yes”, then say that too. We have all come across people who appear to say “No” on principle. This might be useful in a negotiation, but counterproductive when dealing with staff.

Broken Record

Sometimes your opposite number just refuses to take “no” for an answer. Provided you are 100% clear on your position, then it’s time to play broken record. Like the old-fashioned vinyl LPs with a deep scratch, you simply repeat yourself, NO plus reason, always using the same wording: e.g: “As I said I cannot give you a pay rise, as there is a freeze on salaries.”, then “I understand your position but as I said ……” and so on. Using this strategy takes courage and should be used sparingly and only with difficult people. Even the most obstinate will get your point after three rounds.

Buy Time

People are not stupid. If they want a favour or a concession, they will approach you when you are under pressure, with no time. This can mean you are unprepared and certainly unscripted. So if you are at all unsure about your response, then buy time: “Let me get back to you when I have finished this.” You will come to regret shooting from the hip and start kicking yourself, “Why on earth did I say that?”

Most of us cannot be assertive on command

Our behaviour is determined by our fight, flee or freeze instincts. Assertiveness is a conscious way of thinking and acting. These five simple strategies will help you develop your assertiveness. But, as with nearly everything, it takes practice.

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Powerful Communication – The Power of the Purpose Pyramid

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listening skills target trainingThe purpose pyramid is one of the simplest and yet effective communication models for introducing a presentation, opening a meeting or organizing your thoughts that there is. It is so simple, in fact, that no one seems to take credit for it though you will find it in the work of many communications gurus. The four questions in the pyramid aren’t special by themselves, but together they offer a powerful way to connect what you want to do with the goals and needs of your organization, no matter what business you are in or function you perform. Why? + What? + How? + Who? = Alignment. The Purpose Pyramid makes it easy for you to structure your communication – in any situation.

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pyramid

Why?

Why is where you share or remind your team about the deeper meaning and purpose of the organization. This is the reason that energizes you and your colleagues as well as your customers. What’s your why? Your purpose is best when it brings the energy of your team together and they can all see themselves in it. It should also attract internal and external customers to your work.

A band plays music, by definition – but wouldn’t you rather see a band whose purpose is to give you high energy and a memorable musical experience?

At a more nuts and bolts level, you can also apply the why to day-to-day interactions and situations. An example could be to state the purpose (why) of a meeting on the agenda for everyone to see. If there is a question about being on track, the team can refer to the mutually agreed purpose of the team.

What?

What refers to the tasks you and your team need to get done to contribute to making your purpose a reality. At their best these tasks are things you can track and observe easily so all can know when it is accomplished. For example, to have better meetings is not a clear task. Having everyone contribute to the meeting is a clear task. The SMART principle is a great model to use, just remember they should in some way contribute to achieving your purpose.

An example could be to make task identification a two-step process. Instead of automatically identifying who should complete a task at the same time as identifying the task, outline just the tasks first. Going through the how before identifying who will help team members to know what they are committing to.

How?

How is where you turn to your method, approach or process, How will you get your tasks accomplished? For example, sticking with the “better meetings” example, if my task is to have everyone contribute to a meeting, I could tell the team members I expect them to contribute and hope for the best or I could use a polling technique in the meeting to give each attendee the space to speak uninterrupted.

If a task is complex, the “how” could be a process or procedure that helps to complete the task effectively and efficiently. If you have standard operating procedures in place, this is the time to stress their use.

An example could be to identify the resources and process necessary to complete a task before asking who will do it. Leaders get a chance to offer support to the team and may encourage team members to accept a stretch task because they know how they will be supported.

Who?

Who refers to the individual and collective commitments or expectations that match your team to the tasks at hand. In most meetings the who stage tells how well we’ve done the other stages. If team members recognize and connect with their purpose, the necessity of a task and the process and resources to get it done, it’s a lot easier to agree to do them. With the clarity you’ve built earlier, it is easier for you to ask for what you want while committing to do what is necessary to support your team. A great question at the end of a meeting is “what have we agreed to do?” to check agreements without sounding like a task master.

Browse our blog for more tips and tricks

And/or let me know of any other useful communication tools that always work for you. I look forward to hearing from you!

Giving and asking for recommendations

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Giving and asking for recommendations

Have you ever wanted to recommend a person, their services or even a good restaurant to someone else but didn’t know how to do it? Have you ever wanted someone to recommend you to others? Maybe you have a special skill that you’d like others to know about. You might have heard about a position, but need someone to recommend you in order to apply. Perhaps you just want to share some useful information with others and want them to know how much you liked it. All of these situations require us to give or ask for recommendations. Below you’ll find some examples of how to do this.
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Asking for recommendations:

  • Could you put in a good word for me?
  • Could you let others know about this experience?
  • Could you pass this on to others?
  • Would you mind sharing your experience?
  • Would you add me to your contact list?

Giving recommendations:

  • I highly recommend using this product / service.
  • This person is highly trained / very skilled / very professional.
  • We found the information presented very useful.
  • I only have positive things to say about this product / this person / this service.
  • I would be happy to give you their contact information.
  • Please mention my name when you contact them.

Here are some examples:

Employee / colleague asking for a reference:

I am writing to you since we have worked on many projects together. You always seem very pleased with my ideas and the way that I deal with problems that come up, so I would like to ask you to share this information with a potential new supervisor. As you know, I am applying for a position in the [name] department and I need a recommendation from someone who has worked with me. Would you put in a good word for me?

Response to the request:

You are right, I am very satisfied with the work that you have done in the past. I’d be happy to act as a reference for you since I think that the [name] department would also benefit from your skills. If they contact me, I’ll definitely pass your name on as a potential candidate.

Possible reference statement:

I would be happy to recommend [name] for the position you are trying to fill. [He / she] is very highly qualified and has always successfully dealt with the topics we have worked on together in the past. I only have positive things to say about [him/ her]. Please mention my name to them if you decide to shortlist them for an interview.

Try it and tell us about it

Now that you have some ideas about how to ask for and give recommendations, why not try it out by asking a colleague for feedback on a presentation or a project you have recently completed?

Maybe you can do someone a favour by recommending them to others. Or perhaps you want to let us know what you think of the information presented in our blog? Please feel free to use our comments box below.

 

 

Storytelling in Business – Why Not? Part 1

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The power of storytelling in business

Storytelling is again a topic of interest in the business communications world.  Conferences and speakers around the world are praising the power of storytelling and attracting audiences. My question is, why? Humans have told stories since our earliest beginnings. We all tell stories.

“Storytelling comes naturally to humans, but since we live in an unnatural world, we sometimes need a little help doing what we’d naturally do.” ― Dan Harmon

It was part of our survival and development. Stories are all around us, from campfires to multimillion dollar movies, so why do we have to make a case for it in a business environment?

Generally, I think the answer is fear. We are afraid to “lay an egg”, reveal too much of ourselves, show too much emotion or not be taken seriously at work. After all, work is the activity in which most of us invest most of our waking hours so there’s a lot at stake.

This two-part blog post covers five things we learned when preparing a seminar about storytelling in business. Our storytelling seminar gives participants the skills and determination to tell more stories and better stories in the workplace.

5 Lessons about storytelling in business: Lessons 1-3

What does your listener want?

Lesson 1

What attracts audiences to the telling of a story?  It comes down to three things:

  1. emotion
  2. energy
  3. authenticity

Telling bedtime stories to children is a practical example of the standards adults have for stories as well, though many may not say it. Children will demand expressions of the energy of the characters, the emotion of the plot and telling the story “like you mean it”. Adults need these things too to be engaged.

What makes a good story good?

Lesson 2

As Aristotle observed, a good story starts with a character in trouble. The character is one the audience can identify with–not too good to be in trouble and not too bad to deserve the trouble to come.  The story progresses with the development and deepening of the trouble to create a sense of fear in the audience so the resolution of the problems leaves the audience with a sense of relief.
Aristotle referred to the stages as pity, fear, and catharsis. Stories from Greek tragedy to Toy Story follow this model in one way or another.
In the workplace we can tell stories about problems, consequences and solutions to reflect Aristotle’s model.

Crafting stories that fit

Lesson 3

The STAR Model is a basic and effective format for telling stories in a business environment. The model fits the needs of business audiences as it sets the scene, describes the action in it and talks about what happened to resolve the situation. This model is very effective in behavioral interviewing, answering questions about past performance and offering a status update.

Situation – clearly explain the facts and assumptions that make up the context of the action.

Task – detail the task to be completed or the goal to be reached.

Actions taken – describe all relevant actions taken to complete the task.

Results achieved – describe the immediate outputs and eventual outcomes of the actions taken.

Make sure to check our site for part 2 next Wednesday. See how Target Training provides skill development seminars about Storytelling and many other communication skills to increase your effectiveness in the workplace.

Let us know if you have any comments on the first three lessons below.

Giving feedback using the DESC model

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Giving feedback effectively will have a real impact on your business

Everybody understands that performance feedback should be constructive, focused and to the point. Effective feedback can resolve conflicts, overcome problems and improve individual and team morale. It doesn’t really need mentioning that ineffective feedback often accomplishes the opposite. Or that if you are skilled at giving effective feedback, your team will be more motivated, which leads to better performance.

While feedback should focus on behavior, performance feedback is still a personal conversation between people about people. Emotions always play a part in interpersonal communication. Effective feedback is as much about bringing the right message(s) across as it is about how your message is interpreted.

No matter how skilled the feedback giver is, if the receiver isn’t interested in hearing or taking the feedback, nothing will get through.http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/03/05/douglas-stone-the-importance-of-feedback-in-business-communications/

The more difficult the feedback, the more the giver needs to consider the the emotional impact of the feedback. Giving positive feedback is easy.
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DESC is simple and it works

In our skills-based Leadership training, we use the simple 4-step model DESC for structuring feedback. Participants in our “Practical Toolbox for Managers” seminars often highlight DESC as one of the most valuable tools they are taking away. This model is designed to help you to get your message clear and it can even take the stress out of the feedback conversation for those of us that weren’t born with effective feedback-giving skills.

DESCRIPTION

Give an objective and concrete description of what you have observed using “I” statements.

EFFECT

Explain the effect or impact it had on your business, the team or its members. If the effect was an emotion, name it. Your body language and tone of voice will already be showing your elation or frustration – putting them out in the open can help you move things forward.

SOLUTION

Build the solution through a directive (“What I would like you to do next time is …”) or a participative approach (“What do you think we can do to avoid this next time?”).

CONCLUSION

Build a “contract of commitment”. Check your understanding of what has been agreed, and get commitment for the future.

Further Leadership resources:

Someone Late for Meetings?: 3 Questions to Ask

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When someone is always late

Effective meetings can be tough to manage when everyone is on time.  What about when someone is always late for meetings?  Everyone in an organization knows that lateness can be a problem, but the topic of what to do if someone is consistently late for meetings is rarely discussed. Here, the key word is consistently. Everyone can be late at one time or another, but it’s when someone is predictably, consistently late that problems begin to pile up. Before we get to the questions you should ask your chronically late colleague, let’s take a look at the questions you shouldn’t ask.

3 questions you shouldn’t ask your colleague who is always late for meetings

  1. Is your watch broken?
  2. Did you forget how to tell time?
  3. Where the hell were you?

Time management strategies don’t include learning how to tell time or buying a better watch. Experts in the field agree that if someone is consistently late for meetings, it’s their attitude that’s to blame. Changing time habits in relation to meetings means changing the colleague’s mindset, incentivizing being on time and not punishing colleagues for being on time. Yes, you read that right. Very often, meetings are postponed to wait for late colleagues, effectively punishing those who come on time.

3 questions you should ask your colleague who is always late for meetings

1.  Do you think you have a clearly-defined role in this meeting?

A clear role means having a specifically-defined function in the meeting. Some examples of roles: moderator, organizer, minute-taker, timekeeper and participant. Participant is the generic name for anyone at a meeting, but a participant has responsibilities at the meeting as well and should be held accountable for fulfilling them. Examples of the responsibilities of a meeting participant are: being active in brainstorming sessions, contributing to discussions and helping create the agenda for future meetings.

2.  You’re going to keep the minutes for the next meeting, right?

Keeping and distributing the meeting minutes isn’t exactly the most glamorous or enjoyable task. One way of encouraging participants to come on time might be to give them a small penalty (for example, maybe they have to keep and distribute the minutes for the next meeting, make a small donation to a charity or supply coffee for everyone at the next meeting). Naturally, the penalties should be light-hearted, but the cause should be taken seriously.

3.  Do you have any feedback about the quality of this meeting?

Being on time is important, but lateness can sometimes be a symptom of dissatisfaction with the meeting itself. If your colleague lacks a clear role, feels that their voice isn’t heard in the meeting or finds the meeting pointless, it can lead to carelessness regarding the ground rules your meeting participants agreed on (one of which should definitely be: we start and end on time).

3 benefits of considering these points when someone is consistently late for meetings

  1. You ensure all colleagues have a clearly-defined role in the meeting.
  2. You ensure that chronically late arrivals are punished for their tardiness, not the other way around.
  3. You accept responsibility for the quality of your meeting and give the participants a chance to give feedback. An anonymous feedback form made available on the company intranet might be one way of allowing colleagues to give constructive feedback in a comfortable manner.

As we can see, being late for meetings can be an indication that someone has a broken watch, but it can also be a reflection on the quality of your meeting in general. Taking a moment to reflect on the underlying reasons behind a behavior can be a chance to make sure your meeting is running as efficiently as possible.

Presentation Conclusions: Signal to the End

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Strong start, strong finish

A good presentation conclusion is a very important part of any presentation, and often not given as much attention as it should.  Many people focus on starting strong with a good introduction, and then delivering good content.  There is nothing wrong with this as long as they finish with the same strength with which they started.  Many times I have seen presentations end awkwardly, which can leave a bad taste in the audience’s mouth.  A good presentation conclusion will have an effective summary, recommendation or call to action, and an opportunity to address any open issues through questions.  A part of a presentation conclusion that often gets forgotten is a clear and effective “signal to the end”.  A signal to the end is a one sentence phrase that is designed to show your audience that you are going to start your presentation conclusion.  It should be said right before you get into your summary, and should act as a clear sign to your audience.

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3 reasons to include a signal to the end in your presentation conclusion

  1. Wake up the audience.  Many times the audience loses focus and is daydreaming towards the end of the presentation.  This shows them that things are ending soon, and it is time to pay attention again.
  2. Reset your own focus.  Sometimes it is easy to go so in-depth on topics we know well that we lose focus on what our audience wants to hear.  The signal to the end not only wakes up the audience, but the speaker as well and allows them to deliver a strong presentation conclusion.
  3. Clarify your structure.  Presentations need clear structure so that the audience can focus on key points and follow along.  When you use effective transitional phrases such as a signal to the end, it creates clarity in your structure and helps the audience stay with you.

3 phrases to use as a signal to the end in your presentation conclusion

  1. This brings me to the end of my presentation.  To summarize my main points,…”
  2. Well, that is all I have for today.  Let me now summarize what I talked about…. ”
  3. I have now come to the end of my presentation.  In summary, I spoke about…”

3 results of using a signal to the end in your presentation conclusion

  1. Get your points across a final time.  At the end of a good presentation, you will have mentioned your main points in your introduction, your body, and finally in your conclusion summary.  A good signal to the end focuses the audience’s attention one last time, so that you can mention your main points again as well as your recommendation.  People tend to remember what they hear at the end of a presentation more than at the beginning or middle.
  2. Set yourself up to finish strong.  By clearly defining you are starting your conclusion, it will help you focus and go through the correct steps in your conclusion.  This will leave your audience with a favorable impression of your speech.
  3. Be a better public speaker.  So many people give poorly structured presentations, and especially end their presentations on a low note.  Having a clear structure will help you to look more professional and get the results you want out of your presentation.

Having a strong presentation conclusion will leave your audience with a focused, positive view of your message and a good signal to the end is key to starting it well.  Let us know of any ideas you have in the comment areas below.  Want more on presenting with impact?  Click here.

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Presentation Techniques: Speaking in Threes

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Presentation techniques: tripling

There are hundreds of presentation techniques, and some are more common than others. One example is that people find it easy to remember things in threes, and building on this tendency (known as tripling) is one of the simple presentation techniques that work in all presentations.  You’ve probably already seen or heard people doing it…

“Veni, Vidi, Vici”  – Julius Caesar
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen …” –William Shakespeare
“Government of the people, by the people, for the people” – Abraham Lincoln

Of course you don’t need to be a great public speaker to make this work for you in your business presentations.

3 simple tips on presentation techniques for speaking in threes

1. Use three items that fit together to make an impact

Come back to the same item each time, hammering home the point:
  • We can retain customers by reducing our reaction time.
  • We can retain customers by offering round the clock support.
  • And we can retain customers by delivering spare parts within 48 hours.
  • Three items that act in sequence to reach a desired goal. e.g. “If we reduce our reaction time, offer round the clock support, and commit to delivering spare parts within 48 hours we will retain more customers.”
  • Three key themes that together cover a wide area. e.g. “We need to retain customers, we need to expand into the BRIC countries and we need to acquire smaller local competitors.”

2.  Use rhetorical questions

  • Ask a rhetorical question e.g. “So what is our new customer support strategy?”
  • Offer a simple, even minimalistic, response  e.g. “It’s called One Service.”
  • Then drive this home with three related words or phrases to grab attention, encapsulate or summarize. e.g. “One Service will form networks, it will promote best-practice sharing and most importantly it will make us even more effective.”

3.  Use your voice to leave a lasting impression

  • You can connect the three items by rising or reducing the pitch of your voice for each one.
  • Going up with your voice increases emotion, going down brings a sense of finality and certainty.
  • You may also want to put your most important point last – and then pause before it to make an additional impact.

Give it a go. Using presentation techniques such as speaking in threes will make your key messages simple. It will also make them clear and, above all, it will make them memorable. Let us know what you think in the comments area below.  Also, click here to see how Target Training’s seminar can help even the great presenters get better.