Believe it or not, influence is not synonymous with persuasion.
Many of us who played sports growing up relied on a coach to motivate us, correct our actions, hone our skills and develop our abilities. As an adult, this changes profoundly. No longer is a coach standing on the sidelines stretching us beyond what we imagined possible. We are on our own.
Even the most seasoned communicators can find themselves in a variety of demanding and difficult situations. What sets you apart from others is the ability to handle these situations while maintaining your confidence and credibility as a communicator. Here are a few examples of demanding situations:
- You are sharing information that is debatable or is a “hard truth” for the audience.
- Your audience is skeptical or unfriendly to you, your organization and/or your topic.
- Your audience is “checking out” of your presentation via a side conversation, a cell phone, checking e-mail or simply nodding off.
- You are not able to effectively convince or sell your audience on your ideas or position.
- You have one or more detractors in the audience who are interrupting you, discounting your information or posing questions before you are finished.
Situations like these sometimes occur so it is important to be prepared in advance should you find yourself faced with a difficult audience. Here are a few tips that can help you prepare.
- Buy yourself some time to think. Pose clarifying questions such as “Can you specify why you are opposed to this?” or “When did you observe this?” Ask for examples or details to help flush out their opinions giving you time to pull your thoughts together.
- Disengage from detractors. Acknowledge the disagreement without judging. Remember, it is your job to present information without getting into arguments with one person at the expense of others. You can also open the discussion up to a wide audience; chances are somebody else will argue your point for you.
- Give audience-focused answers. People care about how things impact them or their beliefs, and not so much you or others. Phrase your answers to questions in such a way that audiences see benefits to them.
- Mirror your audience. Validate their question or comment, but bridge to your answer with phrases such as, “I hear your concerns. We are confident our approach will work,” or “That is an interesting concept, but we are taking a different path.”
- Know your material from both sides. In advance, play devil’s advocate in an effort to prepare yourself for expected opposition. Prepare what some of the responses will be and how you plan to answer them.
- Establish a protocol for questions. At the start of your presentation, request that people raise their hand before commenting or questioning or designate time at the end for questions. If someone does interrupt, tell them you will address their point shortly, but stick to the main points of your presentation. If dissenters insist on questions, let them know you’ll be happy to speak to them privately afterwards or during a break.
What tricks have you learned to think on your feet quickly? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet us using the hashtag #mcgblog.
The complexity of today’s business environment requires solid messaging strategies. If companies are not dealing with financial issues, they likely find themselves challenged by a changing regulatory and political environment, scaled back workforce and fewer resources. Yet, customer expectations are higher and the demand for transparency is stronger.
Leaders are leaning on PR professionals, both inside and outside their companies, to help develop effective messages for a wide variety of situations that resonate with a growing list of stakeholders, not just shareholders.
It is tempting to rely on traditional approaches to messaging that worked well in the past when the more linear model of communication ruled the day. But in today’s world, communication often occurs without the involvement of the organization itself. Compounding the complexity is the exploding number of digital channels that have given rise to countless new communities and further enabled 24/7 conversations about companies.
Too often, messages are designed to respond to a current situation, falling far short of communicating what organizations need and stakeholders demand. Developing a more strategic approach to messaging can help ensure communication will resonate with stakeholders and accomplish the organization’s larger goals. The following is a sampling of points to consider when crafting organizational messages:
Align messages with organizational goals
- What are leadership’s goals with stakeholders?
- What are the needs and interests of stakeholders that must be fulfilled?
- How do leaders believe they are doing in the eyes of stakeholders?
Consider the context
- What are the relevant issues in the larger business environment?
- Is something similar happening to competitors or just your organization?
- Was this something we caused or that happened to us via external forces?
Anticipate reaction / acknowledge different viewpoints
- Who thinks differently than you do on this issue?
- How will detractors criticize us?
- Is there common ground to be found?
Preserve relationships with key stakeholders/ Earn trust through timely response
- Who needs to be communicated with and in what order?
- When should you respond?
- What is the opposition doing?
- How available and prepared is your spokesperson(s)?
Present a credible and reasonable voice to stakeholders
- Who are your subject matter experts?
- Who has credibility with stakeholders?
- Are there third party spokespersons you can use to add a new dimension?
What kinds of challenges does your team face in creating compelling messages? Let us know what has worked for you – and what hasn’t – in the comments section below. You may also tweet us your thoughts on Twitter at #mcgblog.
A mentoring program can have a major impact on an organization through the strategic development of its people. It is designed to benefit the participants significantly by facilitating a broader sense of community, enabling greater sharing of knowledge and best practices, helping employees become integrated in the company culture and its processes, and enhancing the ability to development knowledgeable, confident and capable employees.
When we train or teach others, we tend to use our own natural learning style. But most people won’t share that method and, in fact, there are at least eight different learning styles.
Figuring out how to integrate different learning styles into your trainings is the key to successful results. Here are the eight most common learning styles and what helps them succeed.
- Visual learners remember best what they see and learn best by reading and writing. Help these people by providing charts, graphics and visual aids, and provide written instructions to assignments. Allow for writing time during your training.
- Auditory learners remember what they hear and focus on listening during presentations. Ask questions of these people during training to monitor their understanding and provide verbal instructions to any tasks or assignments.
- Active learners are hands-on people who understand and remember information by doing something with it. They work best in groups and benefit by explaining the material to somebody else.
- Reflective learners like to let new information soak in for a time and prefer to work alone. Give them time to think, take notes and process the information. Too many details can be information overload to reflective learners, so don’t pack too much into any time frame.
- Sensing learners like facts and well-established methods. They like hands-on work and don’t like training that has no apparent connection to the real world. They need time to brainstorm practical information for concepts taught, and they prefer specific examples of concepts and procedures.
- Intuitive learners prefer discovering possibilities and relationships. They are good are grasping new concepts and are comfortable with abstracts, but dislike memorization, repetition and routine calculations. They are interested in the theories behind the procedures, so explain the reasoning behind processes.
- Global learners absorb material almost randomly, and then suddenly get it. They may be fuzzy on details, but are great at grasping the big picture. Allowing them to skim over material before training is helpful, as is focusing on material in large blocks of time.
- Sequential learners use instruction that follows logical steps. They learn and solve problems in linear steps, so they have trouble learning material that skips steps or bounces around.
Incorporating all these styles into one presentation is difficult, but the more you attempt and the more you connect with your audience, the more successful you will be.
What tricks do you use to teach groups with a variety of learning styles? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet your responses at #MCGblog.
Every employer wants a workforce that's on fire – filled with people who are passionate about the business and focused on achieving company goals. In the day-to-day demands of work and life, however, employees can lose their enthusiasm for the cause.
For many people, pubic speaking tops their fear factor list, even more than death and divorce. But giving a presentation or speech doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. By following a few simple steps, you can make your presentation more effective and memorable.
Here are seven tips that will help.
- Get to the point. Make a statement of impact at the very beginning. There’s no need to meander into your presentation. Hit your audience with the reason you are there.
- Tell a personal story. It can be very effective to share a personal story or experience, but it must have relevance that demonstrates the point you want to make. In some instances, stories about what children say or do can be both entertaining and are particularly effective when audience members are parents or grandparents.
- Use a rhetorical question. This technique is one of the most effective ways to get your audience thinking. For example, “We all want to provide the best customer service possible, don’t we?”
- Project into the future or look into the past. Ask your audience to imagine with you about how things could be different going forward or to illustrate how much things have changed over time.
- Use humor. Using humor is very risky. Even the best presenters can come off as sarcastic or insensitive. If you do attempt humor, make sure the story or joke has a point. If you don’t, you have no business telling a joke. And make sure the story is appropriate and will not offend your audience.
- Metaphors. These fabulous tools will bring your language to life, but be careful. Do not make the mistake of mixing or misstating your metaphor.
- Quiz your audience. Everyone likes to test their own knowledge in an entertaining way. Throw out a question and let them shout out guesses.
What process have you used to prepare for a public speaking engagement? Tell us how you overcome nerves and make your presentations memorable in the comments section below. You may also share your thoughts on Twitter at #mcgblog.