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I can’t do that now

The NLP wave rises and falls and, frankly, I’ve lost track of whether it is near a popularity peak or a sceptical slump.  Of all the ideas that managers use, this is the one that comes in and out of vogue most often – on a two or three year cycle, it seems to me.

Why does NLP peak and trough so much?

Many practitioners do NLP no great service in making some extravagant claims for what it can achieve, whilst others doggedly push away at the very real benefits of improved communication, processes and insights that an understanding of its models can offer us.  The world becomes exhausted by and cynical of the excessive zeal of some trainers, then recovers, as other trainers help build a new cohort of learners who can see real benefits.

Gillian Burn’s NLP Pocketbook is a contribution to ‘real benefits’ end of the spectrum, and has a nice take on one of the most powerful NLP models.

Logical Levels of Change

This model has many uses, so let’s pick one: let’s say that you ask someone to do something.  Let’s further assume that your request is reasonable, and that your relationship with them is good, so you have every reason to expect them to comply.  So it comes as a surprise when they say:

‘I can’t do that now.’

Handling Resistance

This sounds like resistance, so rule number one is to respect the resister and assume that their reason for resisting is a good one.  But what is it.  On the face of things, their statement gives you no clues; but if you listened very carefully, they probably told you exactly where the problem is.

Listen Carefully

What you are listening for is where they put the emphasis of their statement.  It may be very subtle, but can be remarkably obvious.  They may have said any of these statements:

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘there is a problem with the time or place.’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I have a problem with what you want me to do’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I don’t have the ability to do it’

‘I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘I don’t believe I can do it’

I can’t do that now.’
Meaning: ‘this is not something I can do’

Once you know where the problem lies, you can tackle it more confidently.

What else?

Could there be another reason?  What if there appears to be no emphasis.  The Logical Levels model suggests a sixth possible level, deeper than the five we have seen.  If we characterise these five as:

Environment – Action – Capability – Belief – Identity

… the sixth level is Purpose, or meaning.

People need a Purpose

We all need a meaning to our lives and a purpose for doing something.  In their mind, they are possibly asking ‘why?’ If you are unable to supply a good reason, then you should not be surprised to encounter resistance.  One of the powerful words we looked at in an earlier blog is because.’

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The NLP Pocketbook

The NLP Pocketbook
is full of easy to follow descriptions and examples from the best tools that NLP has to offer.

NLP, by the way, stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming

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There is also a chapter on the NLP model of communication in:

You might also like:

So here’s the deal

Listen carefully when people resist you, act on the information you gather: not your assumptions, consider the powerful tools NLP can offer you.

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The Power of a Single Word

There are some words in our language that seem to have special powers that elevate them above the ordinary day-to-day words.  They are a bit like super-heroes and super-villains, in the world of mere humans.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: A man dressed as Clark Kent poses as Melburnians participate in a Guinness World Record attempt for the most number of people dressed in superhero costume at Federation Square on May 29, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. The event was organised to mark the 75th anniversary of DC Comics. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Because

What would encourage you to do someone a favour? Helen Langer, Arthur Blank and Benzion Chanowitz did an experiment asking 120 students if they could jump the queue to use a library photocopier. The experimenter asked in three different ways:

  1. May I use the machine?
    Giving no reason
  2. May I use the machine, because I have to make copies?
    Giving no real reason
  3. May I use the machine, because I’m in a rush?
    Giving a reason

When the request was a small one – with only five sheets to copy – 60% of the students asked obliged without hearing a reason (Request number 1). With a reason (Request Number 3), 94% agreed. And with no real reason (Request number 2), 93% were prepared to oblige. The reason is clearly not important; what was important was that there was a reason – the students heard the word “because” and that was enough.

Why

Why is like one of those super-heroes who can turn super-evil at times.

The Good:  Ask the question ‘why?’ about a problem enough times, and then ask why about the answers you get, and then keep repeating.  You will almost always find your way to the root cause of the problem.  This is the basis of the ‘Five Whys’ method.

The Evil:  Ask me ‘why did you do that?’ and you will usually get a defensive answer.  ‘Why?’ feels like an attack on our very values that direct our decision making, so we react against the question and rarely give a resourceful answer.  A better question might be: ‘what were your criteria when you chose to do that?’

But

‘I like your new suit, but…’ As soon as we hear the ‘but’, our brain thinks ‘aha – here comes the truth.’ We switch off to what we have just heard, making the first half of the statement almost invisible.  Better to say ‘and’‘I like your new suit, and if I’d have been choosing, I would have preferred a blue one for myself.’

You

Another super-hero/super-villain.  When I talk about you and what you want and what I can offer you, you feel like I am giving you all of my attention.  ‘You’ has the power to make a reader or listener feel special.

When I use ‘you’ in describing a wrong action or assigning blame, I will trigger your defence mechanisms that start to create conflict.  ‘You never do the washing up.’  ‘You make me so angry, when you….’ Better to say ‘I really prefer it when the washing up is done.’  ‘I get angry when I feel I can’t influence…’

So here’s the deal

Pay attention to the words you use – they really do matter.

What other words have super powers?
Contribute yours to the comments section below.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

Impact & Presence Pocketbook

Communicator’s Pocketbook

Influencing Pocketbook

Handling resistance Pocketbook

Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook

Coaching Pocketbook

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: A man dressed as the Incredible Hulk poses as Melburnians participate in a Guinness World Record attempt for the most number of people dressed in superhero costume at Federation Square on May 29, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. The event was organised to mark the 75th anniversary of DC Comics. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

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How Good is your Business Card?

If you are self-employed or own your own business, then networking will be one of your most important activities.  And just as you would not expect a carpenter to turn up to a job without a full set of chisels, so you will need the tools of your networking craft.

By the way – if you get your business card given to you and cannot influence its design, skip down a bit and enjoy the links to some of the most imaginative business cards you’ll ever see.

A Sharp Business Card

If business cards are to networking what chisels are to carpentry, then what does a sharp business card look like?  One way to get a feel for what makes a good or a bad business card is to look at loads.  I never throw a business card away, and from time to time, I try to draw some lessons from them.

Business Cards

Five Lessons for Great Business Cards

  1. Keep it simple
    Don’t have more than three zones of content.  Each zone is a compact block of text or graphics that works together, for example, a logo, or a logo and strap-line may be one block; your contact details may be another.
  2. Make sure that the style gives the right message
    We all read something from style, so make sure that people read the right thing from the style of your card.  Run off a number of mock-ups and give them to friends or colleagues and ask them: ’what does this card say about me?’
  3. Colour is important
    Colour conveys a message about you, so choose it with care and, unless you are using full colour images, keep the number of colours down.  While colour conveys a style, don’t rely on it to convey important information, which should be in a strong dark colour for maximum readability.
  4. Make sure it says what you do
    If I take your business card, I will want a prompt to help me remember what you do and why I found you so interesting.
  5. Use the back
    A standard business card has two sides to it.  One way to get more content or more creativity onto your card is to use both sides.  For the marginal extra cost, you get a lot of extra real estate.

The Sixth Lesson for Great Business Cards

There are no rules to good design, and the best designs follow no rules.  Here are five blogs with wonderful business card designs.

42 Awesome Business Card Designs

Cool business card designs

18 Smokin’ Hot Business Card Designs

Cool Business Cards

100 (Really) Creative Business Cards

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

In The Networking Pocketbook, Jon Warner cites the statistic that 90% of us don’t have a calling card.  I suspect that’s mostly the 90% who don’t really need one.  However, far more worrying are his statistics that, of the remaining 10%, 35% show only name, address, and phone number, and 40% are out of date or have incorrect information and therefore have to be amended by hand every time they are given out.  My collection does not quite bear out that statistic, but there are certainly a good handful that have scribbled comments names, numbers or addresses on them.  It looks bad.

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You may also like:

The Personal Success Pocketbook

The Meetings Pocketbook

The Impact and Presence Pocketbook

The Salesperson’s Pocketbook

The Key Account Manager’s Pocketbook

So here’s the deal

Take a critical look at your business card.  Is it time for a refresh?

If no, take a look at some of the cards in the links above and enjoy being awestruck by the creativity.

And, if you have a card you are proud of, or some advice on how to create one, let our readers know by adding a comment below.

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If it sounds too good to be true …

The old saying goes: ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’.  But there is another possibility: ‘if it sounds to good to be true, then you haven’t done your homework’.

Catching out the best negotiators

Sometimes in negotiations, you will be caught off guard by an unanticipated comment, statement or offer.  There is very little that is more disconcerting than an offer that is better than you were expecting.  This is because even the best negotiators rarely prepare for this scenario.

The cautious response is to ask yourself: ‘where’s the catch?’ and proceed delicately.  But there may be no catch; the offer may be genuine.  So whatever you do, don’t risk giving offence by challenging the offer.  Unfortunately, when we get caught out, we often respond in an unguarded manner.

What else could be going on?

If there is no catch, then there are two further possibilities:

  1. the offer is a fair one
  2. they know something you don’t and the value is higher than you thought

What should you do?

Obviously, the lesson from this example is to prepare for even this scenario.  As Patrick Forsyth says in The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, ‘successful negotiators do their homework’.

But if you are unprepared, then you certainly don’t want to just jump on the offer.  So, do what you would do with any offer: make a counter offer, by asking for a little more.  What you do not want to do is quickly accept the offer and leave the other person wondering if they have over bid.  If they do that, it can lead to buyer’s remorse – a sense of disappointment with the deal that they have struck, which can lead to them later reneging on the deal or not doing further business with you.  Worse still, you don’t want to accept a great offer that you could have improved still further.

If you sense the offer is a fair one – just a little better than you had anticipated, then your counter offer can be a little higher.  If, on the other hand, you think they know something more about the value than you do, either go considerably higher or, if you can, take a time out to do some more research.

So here’s the deal

There is no substitute for being prepared before you go into a negotiation: both in command of the facts, and mentally prepared to deal with the unexpected.

What are your tips for negotiating, from your own experiences.  Let us and our readers know, by contributing your own comment.

The Negotiator’s Pocketbook

In The Negotiator’s Pocketbook, Patrick Forsyth sets out a seven step process for your negotiation preparation.  This Pocketbook really is full of fabulous insights and tips.

The Handling Resistance Pocketbook

Okay, so we’ve not been talking about resistance but in the forthcoming Handling Resistance Pocketbook (due in the autumn), you’ll learn a great process, called ‘SCOPE the resistance’ to deal with the kind of surprise this blog talks about.

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Read the Handling Resistance Blog at www.handlingresistance.com

Other Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy

The Influencing Pocketbook

The NLP Pocketbook

The Salesperson’s Pocketbook

The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

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In Praise of Flip Charts

A recent experience led me to think about the use of visual aids in training.  Two training companies were described as being like ‘chalk and cheese’.

Chalk and Cheese

In this case:

  • one company’s courses are scripted and PowerPoint driven, and trainers appeared to treat participants’ questions as a nuisance.  Hmm.
  • the other company’s trainers welcome interaction and dialogue, and mix PowerPoint with a range of other ways to get their message across.  That’s better!

Visual Aids

It led me to think about the term ‘visual aids’.  Aids to whom?  Some trainers seem to consider that their slides are there to help them in their role as trainers.  Perhaps they need to re-think.  Visual aids should help the learners to learn, participants to understand, and the audience to remember.  And PowerPoint and its kin can be magnificent at this – when used well.  We’ll hold that thought for another day!

Flip Charts – the trainer’s friend

I will come out of the closet: I am a real flip chart lover.  I love them as a consultant, working through ideas and solving problems; I love them as a facilitator, capturing and sharing ideas; and I love them as a trainer, to explain, clarify and illustrate learning points.

PowerPoint is linear and pre-programmed: flip charts are infinitely flexible.  So here are some of my tips and techniques for getting the most from this fabulous tool.

Flip Chart Tips and Techniques

Wings
Lots of flipcharts these days have wings – extendable arms that allow you to fasten a finished sheet to either side of the main display.  This is great for displaying participants’ work when doing a review or even for creating wide screen HD flip chart displays.

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Pre-prepare
If you want to create complex images or drawings that you are not confident to draw ‘live’ then prepare a sheet with the drawing in light pencil (a 2H lead is ideal).  It will be invisible to your audience, but clear enough for you to follow the lines and appear to draw a fabulous image free-hand.  Ruled pencil lines also allow you to write in straight lines if this is not something that comes naturally.

Better, still, practise your drawings on a whiteboard.  Do them over and over until they become second nature, then you won’t have to pre-prep your flip charts!

Laminates
A great way to great more dynamism and use more powerful images is to create full colour printed images and get them laminated.  You can then attach these to your flip chart with blue tack and build up your image more quickly and more stylishly than you could draw it.  For example, create six coloured images of hats for when you want to facilitate a discussion about Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats, or illustrate different team dynamics for when you are explaining Tuckman’s model.

StickyNote Sticky Notes
You can use the oh-so-useful sticky notes in a number of ways.  A simple trick is to use them as marker tabs to help you quickly find a pre-prepared sheet quickly.  A favourite use is in exercises where you want participants to identify, then classify items.  If they write their ideas on the notes, they can then place them on the table or grid you or they have created on the flip chart.

Fonts and colours
For large amounts of text, lower case is easier to read, as long as your writing is very clear.  But do ask yourself: ‘are large amounts of text really appropriate?’ They rarely will be.  So upper case is often clearer.  Text should be in strong colours to create good contrast, and do use lots of colour in your diagrams to make your images interesting.

Caution – do not rely on colour contrast to make distinctions that matter.  Around one man in ten has some limitation to their colour vision.  It is rarer in women.

Pens
Good flipchart pens are a must.  Most trainers (including this one) prefer chisel tip to bullet tip.  When you arrive at a training room (if you’re using their pens) or before you leave for the training venue (if you use yours) test all your pens and throw away any that are no longer at their best.  Always travel with your own set, and a back up set if you expect to rely on your own.  Three excellent brands for clarity/strength of colour, range of colour and life-span (and all are chisel tip) are:

  • Berol Flipchart Markers
  • Edding 40
  • Mr Sketch scented markers

Display
Brighten up your training room by putting flip charts up on the walls at breaks.  It creates a stimulating environment, with visual reminders all around, of what participants have been learning.

So here’s the deal

If you don’t already do so, look for more opportunities to use flip charts.  Make time to practise using them well, and use good quality pens to help you do it well.

. . . and, most important, please add your own tips to the comments at the foot of this blog, to share them with others.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

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How high is your “Feedback Credibility Barometer?”

You should never take acceptance of your feedback for granted. Creating the conditions to encourage acceptance requires work and focus. Here are some thoughts from Feedback Pocketbook author, Mike Pezet’s presentation at the recent UK HRD conference in April 2010.

Manage your credibility barometer

Many managers underestimate the impact their credibility has on the value, interpretation and acceptance of their feedback.  Credibility is broadly composed of a manager’s perceived competence and trustworthiness.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/ell-r-brown/ / CC BY 2.0

With a high credibility barometer

· The feedback has perceived value

· The feedback will be more readily
..interpreted as intended

· The feedback will be accepted more readily

With a low credibility barometer

· The feedback has limited value

· Interpretation will be wide and may
..focus on motives for the feedback

· The feedback may be difficult to accept

How to drive up your barometer reading

Here are three things that Mike recommends you can do to increase the level of your credibility barometer and improve the acceptance of your feedback.

  1. Demonstrate awareness and appreciation for the challenges people face in their jobs, and the activities they undertake
  2. Notice and draw attention to what people do well
  3. Discuss the feedback relationship before you try and give your feedback

Manage your judgements

Another important aspect of your credibility and having people accept your feedback is the reliability of the judgements you make.  Overestimating the accuracy of your judgments is easily done, but inaccurate feedback won’t be recognised and accepted.  It may even cause people to re-evaluate your credibility.

Our judgement broadly focuses on two types of cause:

  1. Environmental causes
    You assess me in the light of things I cannot control, such as events and other people
  2. Personal, or internal, causes
    Aspects of who I am and the things I can directly control, such as my character and personal style

Here are four things you can do to become a better judge and encourage acceptance:

  1. Suspend your judgement!
  2. Consider the range of causes of their behaviour
  3. Enquire into and explore their perspective of the situation
  4. Review and evaluate the objective evidence

So here’s the deal

Above all, develop co-ownership of your feedback, by creating a feedback contract and discussing the feedback relationship.  Then, ensure that you base your feedback on the soundest possible judgement – always stay critical of your own judgement process.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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Is This Relationship Going To Work?

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we wouldn’t necessarily have chosen, working with people who aren’t our natural soul-mates. Whether the relationship is Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, or two colleagues sharing an office, conflict is probably going to arise at some point in the relationship.

Messrs Clegg and Cameron are both assertive and persuasive individuals who are used to winning the argument. But if they are going to work successfully together they will need to use a range of styles to manage potential conflict between themselves and their party members.

Five Approaches to Managing Conflict

Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann describe five approaches we can take to handling any particular conflict:

Compete – we aim to win.

Accommodate – our priority is to keep the other person happy.

Compromise – we do a deal. It’s not perfect but we can both live with it. At least in the short term.

Avoid – we take the view that it’s better not to open the can of worms, so we don’t address the issue.

Collaborate – we look for a solution that fully meets our needs, and also satisfies other person. A true ‘win/win’.

Which One To Use?

Looking at these five styles, you would think that the ‘right’ approach to conflict would always be to collaborate. However, there are a couple of problems with collaboration:

  1. It can take a long time – you have to sit down, explore the other person’s position, analyse the underlying needs and concerns then try to thrash out a resolution. It’s great when you have the time (and the energy) to do this. But sometimes there’s a deadline. Sometimes the markets are showing signs of impatience.
  2. It isn’t always possible. For example, when you and your colleague have fundamentally opposing views or values.

The trick is actually knowing which type of approach is most appropriate in any situation, and consciously adapting your natural preference for one of the five styles.

T-KStyles

So here’s the deal

One of the secrets of handling conflict successfully, whether it’s in a shared office or the House of Commons, is choosing the right strategy.

Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

TacklingDiffConvsFor more on handling conflict, and coping with difficult conversations generally, take a look at Peter English’s new Pocketbook, The Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook.

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Other Pocketbooks you might like include:

You may also be interested to know …

The Thomas-Kilmann model is also available as a self-scoring psychometric instrument. For global sales, check out the CPP website, or for UK sales, check out OPP’s website.

Author: Peter English

This article was written by Peter English, author of:

The Tackling Difficult Conversations Pocketbook and

The Succeeding at Interviews Pocketbook.

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What can Pocketbooks Teach our Politicians?

Thursday is polling day in the UK and on Friday, we’ll get a new Government. It may be a new version of the same one, a combination of the same and something different or some flavour of different perspectives.

Whatever happens, the world won’t change overnight – even for those of us in the UK.  I say this because one of my earliest memories is the terror my parents expressed at the implications of a change of Government when I was a small child.  Yet the next day, everything seemed just the same to me.

What’s new this time?

The big change in this election is the increase in focus on party leaders at the expense of a forensic analysis of their parties and of their parties’ policies.  Like it or loathe it, this change is probably with us to stay.

So we’ve been trawling through our collection of Pocketbooks, looking for wisdom and advice for the party leaders who will compete in the UK’s next General Election (which will be any time between summer 2010 and spring 2015).

Advice for the Leaders from Management Pocketbooks

The Leadership Pocketbook tells us that leaders need:

  1. Enthusiasm – show genuine interest
  2. Energy – be lively
  3. Engagement – make it interesting

The Presentations Pocketbook tells us there are three ways to deflect an unwanted question:

  1. Ask the audience for their views
  2. Pass it to a colleague who is an expert
  3. Ask the questioner their opinion before answering

The Influencing Pocketbook tells us that people will say yes when your ideas meet their view of life in one of three areas:

  1. Principle and values
  2. Beliefs and opinions
  3. Needs and wants

And finally, if our politicians end up having to do deals in a balanced Parliament, The Resolving Conflict Pocketbook tells us three steps towards principled negotiation:

  1. Don’t take a position – it will only lead to an argument, so hear people out and look for a joint solution
  2. Separate the people from the problem – personal style is not the substance of the matter and attacks on it are fruitless
  3. Focus on interests – ‘what do you want to achieve?’, rather than ‘what are your ideological roots?’

… and we have to apologise to one leader for the failure of the Pocketblog to provide all the help he needed.  When, on 13 April, we advised:

  1. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off when someone comes to the front at the break, to ask you a private question
  2. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off before you head out of the room, walking right in front of a speaker
  3. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Please turn them off before you take a comfort break

… we should perhaps have added:

….4.   Beware clip-on radio microphones
.…..….Always

So here’s the deal

The real test of how effectively you can communicate your message is: ‘would a small child understand it?’  Politicians have been busy simplifying their message.  You may admire or deprecate this trend.  We’ll see the outcome soon!

And …  Why not share your own favourite advice from one of the Management Pocketbooks in the comments space below.  Feel free to contribute, whether you are a reader or an author.  Finally, any takers for a new PPC – prospective pocketbook candidate? The Politician’s Pocketbook.  Now there’s an idea!

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The Pocketblog Guide to Exhibitions and Conferences

On 21 and 22 April 2010, Management Pocketbooks will be on stand 571 at Olympia, for the annual CIPD HRD Conference and Exhibition.

We hope to see you there.  If you are coming to this one or going to another; whether you are attending an exhibition, an exhibition and conference, or are exhibiting, here are our top tips for making the best of your networking and learning opportunities.

Tip 1: Use your time effectively

Exhibitions and conferences are exhausting and time consuming. Your reason for going may be pleasure but for most of us, it is business.  So make sure you plan to capitalise on business opportunities.

  1. Research who will be there. Are there any of your clients, suppliers or prospects? If there are, check where they will be and go prepared.
  2. If you can do so, arrange to meet people at the exhibition. You’ll both be there and both be in need of a cuppa from time to time.
  3. Tour the exhibition hall systematically. Talk to people on stands that interest you – regardless of whether you sense a business opportunity. Let random connections create unexpected opportunities from time to time.
  4. Allow time to stop and have a break. You’ll need it and it will give you the time for an unexpected conversation.
  5. Schedule any conference events into your organiser to ensure you don’t miss them.

Tip 2: Practise the art of influence

A simple way to be more influential is to be seen as an expert. To speak with real authority, find something specific you can really specialise in. Ironically, the narrower your specialism, the more you will be seen as an expert. Try it:

  • ‘I specialise in training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training for SMEs’
  • ‘I specialise in leadership of change training for high tech SMEs’

While we are on the subject of authority; remember to dress the part. Rightly or wrongly, we judge each other by the clothes we wear. Dress to impress – let your clothes reinforce your authority; not undermine it.  And don’t forget a big stack of business cards – not just for the fishbowl competitions: for doing business too.

Tip 3: Make your exhibit count

Make sure you let people know in advance that you will be there, and where you will be (we’ll be on stand 571).  On your stand, it makes good sense to appoint someone to co-ordinate your activities and also direct good practice.  For example:

  • Take an interest in the people who take an interest in your stand.  Playing it cool and chatting nonchalantly with your colleagues will not impress and may intimidate.
  • Ask people question when they come onto your stand.  If you bombard them with your pitch, you have a one in a thousand chance of saying the right thing.  Questions will help you figure out what they want to know about.
  • Don’t use your mobile on the stand.  If you need to make or take a call, step away from the stand.
  • Don’t put your freebies and brochures on the edge of the stand.  If a delegate is just ‘stamp collecting’ then the give-away has no value to them or you.  If they really want what you have, making them ask will give you a chance to engage with them.

Tip 4: Get the most from the Conference

Three colleagues went to a conference.

  1. Chris thought it was just as expected: all either familiar ideas or irrelevant rubbish
  2. Vic thought it was just as expected: all the talks were interesting and everything was brilliant
  3. Sam thought it was just as expected: a lot of the speakers had one or two real nuggets to take away and think about, with a few surprising insights from unexpected places

Who got the most from the conference?

So here’s the deal

Plan your time, prepare your personal pitch, use your stand well, and tune your radar for unexpected nuggets of insight and opportunity

The Essential Conference-goers Management Pocketbook Collection

There is no Conference-goer’s Pocketbook or Exhibitor’s Pocketbook – yet.  So in the meantime, take a look at the following Pocketbooks to prepare yourself:

  1. The Influencing Pocketbook
  2. The Networking Pocketbook
  3. The Negotiator’s Pocketbook
  4. The Customer Service Pocketbook
  5. The Learner’s Pocketbook

If you don’t own any of these, you can buy them at a £1 discount on stand 571 and, if you buy five Pocketbooks you can get one free.  How about:

….…6.  The Positive Mental Attitude Pocketbook

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A Strong Authoritative Voice

Having a strong, authoritative voice will win you instant respect.  On the other hand, a weak and feeble piping speech sound will undermine your credibility.  We are programmed to hear deeper, steadier voices as more commanding.

Change your voice

Politicians hire vocal coaches to help slow their speech, lower the pitch of their voice and deal with unwanted regional accents.  Professor Yuki Sato at Hosei University in Japan has a simpler way – use software.  He has found a way to process recorded speech to make it sound different.  It’s not what you would describe as the perfect solution, but try it for yourself.  Here are two voices from his website:

The original sample of Miss Sugimoto

The sample modified to make her sound more ‘manly’

Recordings only

As New Scientist reported in a 2002 article, Sato’s work has so far only been able to modify recordings.  So this is not the solution to boost your performance in your next platform speech at your company’s annual conference.  For that, you will need to work a little harder.

Vocal Skills

An effective voice has three things, says Richard Payne, author of the Vocal Skills Pocketbook:

  1. Vitality
    How to sound really  interesting by using really good words and a varied voice to build rhythms and patterns
  2. Audibility
    Being heard.  Sorry, being heard
  3. Clarity
    Not mmmbblnnng

Hmmm, still much to learn for me then.

VocalSkills

I’ll try again …

  1. Vitality
    A few deep breaths before you start, regular pauses to catch your breath and create emphasis, and a well crafted script can bring your speech to life
  2. Audibility
    Good breathing and posture can help you to project your voice at the right volume.  If the room is too big for you, use a microphone.
  3. Clarity
    Taking your time and rehearsing will help you get your words and your overall message across clearly.  Practicing some of Richards Vocal Exercises will improve the way you pronounce tricky vowel or consonant combinations.

A Pocketful of help

This book really is an excellent help for anyone contemplating public speaking, with 26 speech exercises that will certainly help develop your skills.  But here are three extra tips from my experience sitting in conference rooms at break times:

  1. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off when someone comes to the front at the break, to ask you a private question
  2. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off before you head out of the room, walking right in front of a speaker
  3. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Please turn them off before you take a comfort break

So here’s the deal

Public speaking is a challenge, so prepare for it by preparing your most important tool.  Chefs sharpen their knives, carpenters hone their chisels, and engineers calibrate their micrometers.  So too should a speaker rehearse their voice.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg17523521.600-get-a-voice-to-rouse-the-masses.html
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