Browse Category: Corporate Narratives

Mixed Message

Mixed Messages Screw Up Your Story

Mixed Messages Ruin Good Stories.

I had a friend at university who would lose his tiny temper halfway through a film because the film has shown a different plane landing to the one that had taken off earlier in the film. We all thought he was just being ridiculous and annoying – as well as interrupting the film – and he usually got abuse and a beer bottle thrown at him. But for him the inconsistency of that tiny detail screwed up the whole story.

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Keeping cool when technology lets you down

Technology is not a faithful friend – What do you do when technology lets you down

Technology is the lazy presenter’s crutch. Good presenters are able to survive and win even when technology goes AWOL. When I was A Conservative Party Association Chairman I attended a National Convention meeting of the great, the good and the pompous at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. Stephen Gilbert, who now works in No. 10 and who probably hasn’t had a holiday since May 5 2010, was set to give a presentation in huge theatre to an audience of around 1000 “senior party activists” – an audience not famous for being forgiving or understanding.

He was presenting data, polling, statistics and strategy. Powerpoint was poised to help and underpin his presentation. I was quite far back in this huge room full of harumph-ready impatience so I couldn’t see whether the guilty piece of technology was the projector or the laptop. But something failed, the title slide disappeared and Stephen was in the middle of the stage in front of an audience of 1000 diverging opinions. He was armed with a handful of papers.

He didn’t skip a (visible) beat. He didn’t lean over the laptop and mutter. He didn’t apologise for the problem or make a joke about technology. Hardly appearing to ever refer to his notes he started his presentation with just his voice and what was in his head.  He spoke fluently and at length to the audience – brushing off the technology betrayal with impressive nonchalance. After the presentation everybody was speaking about what he wanted them to speak about – the technology failure was forgotten. Perfect result.

How did his presentation survive the technology failure?

I have never spoken to him about it. But he survived and won because he knew his stuff backwards. Most presenters would have crashed and burned – and then blamed or tried to kill the IT guy instead of blaming themselves for lack of preparation.

Stephen knew his message, the data, the strategy, the polls. You could almost argue that he was more fluent without the Powerpoint as some visual aids confuse rather than aid.

This video is quite fun – it is a Fox News weather man living the advice of “just keep going and don’t panic when things go wrong.”

P.S. I wrote for @CityAM on which visual aids you could, or should, use in speeches and presentation. You can read the article here.

MessageCraft Graeme Wiliams

Corporate Photos and Video from MessageCraft®

MessageCraft Graeme WiliamsCorporate photos and video are now more important than ever. But they need to be good.

I am delighted to announce that Graeme Williams has joined the MessageCraft® team. Graeme is a wizard with photos and videos and is ideal for political and corporate work. He is a Conservative activist and has become a friend and a colleague. He is unusual because he has huge C-suite business experience as well as his photographic and video skills.

Graeme has been in the photographic and imaging industry his whole life starting at Kodak where he gained a huge amount of experience in both business and photographic technical skills. He spent 5 years as a Kodak technical instructor – teaching photography, film processing and printing for labs and retail photo.

He also worked for the Kodak sales team and travelled extensively throughout Europe training the sales force. In the mid 80’s he moved to the company’s offices in Dubai and ran the companies lab businesses in the region before taking on a turnaround assignment in Pakistan where he was General Manager. He then became VP of the sixth largest company in Switzerland, Gretag, before being headhunted by Hewlett Packard to help set up their retail photo team where he helped develop product and strategy globally, later heading up the EMEA region for this team as VP for Hewlett Packard.

After 20+ years in top management positions within the photographic industry, Graeme is now a successful freelance photographer specialising in corporate work and political work. He has done photos for me recently and also did this video which will be going on the Home page of my website soon. He is fun to work with and knows what he is doing. Give him a call and see what he can do for you. All my recent pics have been done by him as well as my corporate video. Graeme William – graeme@corporateheads.uk

 

How to be more persuasive in a pitch

Pitching to a group of people is not easy, being persuasive is even harder. Knowledge and belief in the product or service that you are offering only gets you so far, being able to persuade and win over an audience is essential.

Here are some tips on how to be more persuasive in a pitch:

  1. Be clear-cut

Focus is key when being persuasive. Know your message well and keep on track. Sounding unsure or timid will give off the wrong impression. If you can’t explain your message in a 20 minute meeting that it is unlikely you will be able to explain it in 2 hours.

  1. Solve a problem

Start your pitch or presentation by outlining a problem, maybe use surprising figures or unexpected images. Then build up to explain how this problem can be solved. By explaining what benefit you can bring or what problem can be solved your argument will gain context and purpose.

  1. Looks matter

Consider what the first thing your audience will see when you start your pitch or presentation. Think what impression you want to give off. Dressing the part will make you seem more confident, therefore more likely to be persuasive.

  1. Understand your audience

Do your research; which elements of your pitch will appeal to the audience the most? Pitching is never a copy and paste technique that you can use over and over again on different audiences – you need to tailor your pitch to your audience. Maybe your audience are financially minded, then you should emphasis the cost saving benefits of what you are proposing.

  1. Prepare for negativity

You cannot expect all of your audience to be on your side and willing to agree with you, no product or service is that perfect. Respond with negative feedback with honesty, do not try and make your product sound like there are no drawbacks, this will be very transparent. Instead demonstrate how you have considered every aspect of what you are offering and try to explain how the positives outweigh the negatives.

 

Image courtesy of photoraidz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cut the Jargon

ID-100186396Have you ever discussed the strategic importance of thinking outside the box, pushing the envelope, and giving 110 per cent? Then you may be victim of business jargon.

A survey conducted by the Institute of Leadership and Management has found that management jargon is used in nearly two thirds of work places, with almost a quarter of workers considering it to be a pointless annoyance. So maybe it is time to cut the jargon.

This should make us question whether business jargon is worth using at all. Unnecessary jargon muddies the clear water of your message. It can create a barrier between you and your audience, impeding your ability to connect with them. In some industries there are complex issues which are difficult to break down into simple terms, but that does not grant anyone permission to use complex and completely redundant language.

There are many reasons why people use this terminology. Sometimes people feel the need to dress up language to cover a lack of knowledge or self-confidence. Some may use it to bury the truth on an issue. While others may simply use it as it is part of the language they hear every day at work.

Communication is key. If you are using language that hinders your ability to communicate or get your message across in a clear, concise, and interesting way, then it shouldn’t be used. A lack of clear communication can result in missed opportunities; clients may be lost, promotions missed out on, or job interviews unsuccessful.

 

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (Part 4 of 4 – The Deed)

Ok – so this is the 4th and final episode in the series of 40 questions to ask yourself BEFORE you chuck in your job.

You might be unhappy with your job and thinking of chucking it all in, sabotaging your colleagues work or throwing something at your boss? Or are you contemplating quietly walking out, leaving the country and going to live a simpler life on an island? Thinking of changing jobs is normal for everyone – you have no monopoly on any of these thoughts – but doing it right, whatever that is, is important.

Career progression means changing jobs by definition – but why and how you do it can improve your life or totally screw it up. Changing jobs at the right time for the right reasons and in the right way may seem obvious – but emotions and feelings and irrational thought get in the way and can seriously mess up your career.

I have changed jobs and made a few career changes in my life and some were cleverer than others!

So before you start booking plane tickets, selling the house, moving to or from the big city, emigrating or physically throwing stuff at the boss, why not balance out the loud emotional voices of your feelings with some sober, boring logical stuff.

Once you have realised that the problem is the job, the only way to fix it is to quit, and you know where you are heading is the deed; actually quitting. This can be a difficult process especially if you are leaving somewhat reluctantly. But it is the final necessary step to getting a new job.

Here are 10 questions to answer to decide How To Do The Deed before changing jobs:

  1. How would your departure leave your company and the jobs and security of your colleagues?
  2. How are you going to tell them?
  3. Do you need a reference?
  4. What notice are you going to give them? What day will it be – the day after payday?
  5. How and when is the best way to tell them? Blurting it out may get it off your chest but if you are that wound up you will probably screw it up.
  6. Are you going to offer a handover – what should be in the handover?
  7. How likely are you to see your current team and boss in your new role?
  8. How important will they be to your future?
  9. What do you want them saying about you? Do you care?
  10. Will you do this in a way that will make you proud in retrospect and that shows some class?

This is the final part of a 4 week series. Previously in this  (really exciting) career-based mini-series:

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Problem)

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Fix)

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Decision)

 

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (Part 3 of 4 – The Decision)

The Decision

Are you unhappy with your job? Thinking of chucking it all in, sabotaging your colleagues work or throwing something at your boss? Or are you contemplating quietly walking out, leaving the country and going to live a simpler life on an island? Thinking of changing jobs is normal for everyone – you have no monopoly on any of these thoughts – but doing it, whatever that is, right is important.

Career progression means changing jobs by definition – but why and how you do it can improve your life or totally screw it up. Changing jobs at the right time for the right reasons and in the right way may seem obvious – but emotions and feelings and irrational thought get in the way and can seriously mess up your career.

I have changed jobs and made a few career changes in my life and some were cleverer than others!

So before you start booking plane tickets, selling the house, moving to or from the big city, emigrating or physically throwing stuff at the boss, why not balance out the loud emotional voices of your feelings with some sober, boring logical stuff.

Once you have decided that you need to change job for whatever reason next comes the decision. Quitting the job is a difficult decision to make, deciding where to go next is even harder. Maybe you are looking for a simple job change or maybe you have decided to change career and explore a new industry. Either way you first need to understand where you are going and how you are going to get there.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to find out what decision to make after changing jobs:

  1. If you are thinking of changing your profession – what would you like to do? Why? How will it be different?
  2. Have you spoken to head hunters or specialist agencies in your field or in the proposed new field?
  3. Have you spoken to your family? Have they seen you become unhappy at work?
  4. Have you spoken to your friends? Have you changed recently?
  5. Have you cash in the bank and what are your commitments?
  6. How long could you exist before you start visiting friends at meal times?
  7. Have you assessed the job opportunities in your current profession? Availability of jobs, salaries compared to yours, qualifications and experience of the people in those jobs?
  8. How are you doing compared to others? If you are ahead – what’s the real problem – if you are behind what do you think is the reason? (Be honest here – it’s just between you and the piece of paper.)
  9. What do you need to make the change in terms of training, investment? A lawyer I knew chucked his promised career in with a Magic Circle law firm and bought a pub. Same hours – much more fun. It was a big decision with a big investment and he “threw away” a pristine career CV. But he seems happy.
  10. Could you take a sabbatical and test drive a new career? How could you test whether it works for you?

This is part 3 of a 4 week series. Previously in this  (really exciting) career-based mini-series:

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Problem)

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Fix)

Coming up next week:

10 questions to ask yourself before changing jobs (The Deed)

 

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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