Bruce Springsteen and Employee Engagement!

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What does Bruce Springsteen and Employee Engagement have in common? 

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The answer in a second. But first. Quick! Close your eyes and imagine your all your organization’s various processes as an expensive golden chain link bracelet.  Gorgeous.

Now, keep your eyes closed: Which link in your organization’s process is Communications?

For too many, it’s in one of the last positions.

Is your Comms team brought in only after a new employee rewards system or human resources policy or pick any type of idea or change has been decided upon and is ready to roll out? You know, the situation in which the Chief Marketing Officer or the Chief Information Officer or the Chief Whatever Officer calls in the Director of Communications and says, “Tell everyone this is happening” type of approach?

No. no. no!

Put Communications foremost in your strategy at every stage!

Instead, consider what might occur if management brings the Comms Director to the table at the planning stage. Your Comms Team should be experts in crafting and guiding strategy to drive Employee Engagement.

Last Friday, I was fortunate to lead a “Lunch and Learn” session with the super-committed Communications Team from Ireland’s electricity company, ESB Group. We explored and discussed a variety of ways to better connect the company around ideas of efficacy and activation.

For instance, consider:

  • How can you reduce the work-load from first reports and get employees to comply with a new policy – on their own accord –and happily??? 
  • Who are the various department influencers out there beyond supervisors who could help promote the new idea internally? 
  • Conversely, who are the known naysayers and what can be done preemptively to help bring them on board to champion an idea? 
  • What will it take to properly socialize your new idea? 
  • Is there a way to incrementally roll out the new idea in controlled phases and make it fun? 
  • How do you socialize the new idea? 
  • Is there a way to gamify the new idea? 
  • How can you create a friendly competition with real prizes around the new idea? 
  • What’s the #Hashtag around the campaign on social media?

It might be as simple as a popular ESB competition going on right now to winBRUCE SPRINGSTEEN tickets which, I’m told, has awesome employee engagement behind it and proves you don’t have to be “Born in the USA” to love the Boss.

Good Communication ideas aren’t simple. They’re strategic.

Employees often fear change, because it sounds like a code-word for MORE WORK!  So, bringing in your Comms Team at the planning stage (and throughout the entire process), can help your organization better strategize, plan and implement change.

Think of your Comms Team as People Strategists! And since any organization is comprised of People (NOT “HUMAN CAPITAL” – Blech, what a term), you need those People Strategists at the onset of any new idea, not merely in the implementation phrase!

It’s the human way and it’s the right way. Research (duh, not surprisingly) shows that employees who have fun, feel valued and therefore are more productive!

Get Real and Get Going!

Here’s to engaging employees in the real way, Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

Details Matter! Don’t put your hands in your pockets!

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What you do sends a message to your audience – even before you open your mouth.

I’ve trained thousands of people on how to take more responsibility for their body language.  (Here’s my previous post on Body Language.) Among one of the more frequent questions I get is,

“When presenting, what do I do with my hands when I’m not gesturing?”

That question came up again last week as I worked with a dynamic group of senior leaders from a large multi-national company.

My answer, of course, depends on the situation and your comfort levels. For instance:

1. Let one arm rest loosely by your side while you gesture broadly with the other.

2. Allow both arms to rest by your sides if you’re going to lean in with your upper body to “confide” something to your audience.

3. My favorite suggestion is to “make a diamond or triangle” by lightly interlacing or touching your fingers of both hands.  As performed by yours truly here:

What I don’t ever suggest however, especially for men, is to put your hands in your trousers’ pockets.

Gents: Do not put your hands in your pockets!

This invariably sends a negative message.  You may be simply uncomfortable or nervous. But to your audience you probably look at best – too casual or maybe fidgety, at worst – cocky, or disrespectful.

The client who asked me about this  – really took it to heart.   He took the extra effort to send this illustrative email to his colleagues:

As he indicated, his email included that photo of me I posted up above.  And here’s the contrasting “Hands in Pockets” look he referred to from when Irish Rugby player Ronan O’Gara met Queen Elizabeth back in 2009.

I didn’t live in Ireland when this took place so I missed the outcry his body language sparked. But a quick Google search found the media labeling him everything from a “lout,” to “disrespectful,” to a “disgrace.”

Turns out, according to subsequent interviews, O’Gara apparently was just very relaxed and went on to later smile and shake her hand politely. But that didn’t prevent the maelstrom his pockets hands ignited.

So! To avoid such pitfalls when you are next speaking before an audience, or perhaps lining up to meet with the Queen, please, please, remember that seemingly small details can have large consequence.

Thanks to my client for taking time to write such kind words and thanks to you for taking time to read!

Til next time, let me know what you do with your hands when presenting!

 

Gina

Sibling. What a clunky word.

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Sunday was National Sibling Day.

What it is about the word “sibling”?? I don’t like it.  It doesn’t strike me as familial and warm.  It sounds more detached and stilted.

Like some sort of a mutant fish living at the bottom of the ocean’s largely uncharted Mariana Trench:

Fisherman off the coast of Guam today, discovered the body of a ghastly looking sea creature tangled in their nets. Scientists say it’s the rarely seen deep sea cucumber known as the “SIBLING.”

Or maybe a twig off of the branch of physics known as quantum theory:

 Stephen Hawking today will be lecturing on the inexplicable quantity of SIBLING photoelectron effects.”

Whatever you call them. They’re those people you teased, fought and played with as you grew up.  You may share good and/or bad childhood memories with them. Campfire songs. Parents hugging. Perhaps parents fighting. Christmas. Hanukkah. Ramadan. Whatever.

You may have grown up and grown apart. Physically and/or emotionally. Hopefully you have managed to maintain at least the latter connection.

Life is busy and hectic and sometimes it takes an official day on a calendar to remind me to stop and say thank you to a few of the most influential people in my life. Then and Now.  My brother, Brad and my sister, Andrea. (yep, that’s them above and below – with mom and dad and me – missing my two front teeth.)

So, as much as I don’t like that clunky word, “sibling,” I am ever so grateful that I can call them a word I feel that does sound appropriately gracious and genial.

While we’re on the topic, I am extremely grateful for the other incredible people in my life who may not be biologically my siblings and who may not be able to recite all the words to John Denver’s song, “Grandma’s Feather Bed” like Andrea and Brad can – but who, through their laughter, listening, encouragement (and sometimes wine), can certainly be classified with that word that goes much deeper than the ocean and cannot be dissected by even the top quantum scientist.

So, to all of you out there as I have grown up and away from Indiana, to Florida, Washington, Atlanta, Cairo, Bucharest, Paris, Arezzo and now here in Cork, Ireland: A hearty and heart-felt thank you to each of you I am proud to call much more than the word “sibling” – but as “friends.”

In gratitude, 

Gina

The future of leadership…

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Amidst the backdrop of the US Presidential election, it only seems fitting that I will be participating in not one, but two “Future Leadership” events in coming days.

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Ireland’s national spring conference of Junior Chamber International (JCI) will take place Saturday overlooking the lovely River Lee here in Cork City. American President John F. Kennedy once reflected on JCI saying, “Harvard gave me an education, but Junior Chamber gave me an education for life.”

I’m looking forward to being surrounded by JCI people in their 20s and 30s  who believe in…

 creating positive changes in their communities”

(as excepted from JCI’s press release on the event).  These committed participants will be, among other things, taking part in a public speaking competition.  As a veteran CNN correspondent and now communications consultant, I am honoured to be one of the judges.

Later in the week, I’ll be heading up to Kildare to the historic Carton Housewhere Dublin City University will be holding a conference to launch its newLeadership and Talent Institute.

Committed to analysing and sharing the best research on how organizations can promote personal and professional growth, I’ll be serving as compère for notable speakers like Joe Schmidt, Head Coach of Ireland; Unilever’s Chief HR Officer, Doug Baillie and Dr. Jack McCarthy, Director of Boston University’s Executive Development Roundtable.

Of course, there’s already so much punditry and discussion these days about what is and isn’t the best leadership style.  Most experts agree that positive leadership is compassionate, empathetic and understanding. Without naming names, it goes without saying that some leaders, while effective, are certainly not positive. 

While a sheer-forceful leader may get initial results, the lasting legacies will bring about a true reflection of the approach.

President Kennedy also said that “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

I know I learn something every week from the wide range of incredible executives and professionals I consult and work with.  And I’m sure there will be much to be learned from the lessons the 2016 American presidential election.

In the meantime, I look forward to learning from the young leaders and researchers whom I will be soon meeting.  Those committed to changing their organizations and communities in positive ways.

I also look forward to sharing what I learn with you too!

Kindly,

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

Lifting the Uplifters!

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I was fortunate to work with the HR department of one of the world’s largest beverage companies this past week.

They were preparing to launch an employee recognition program that is AMAZING!

Simply put, each employee- from top to bottom – will receive 100 points every six months that are redeemable for vouchers like movies, shopping, travel, sky-diving, etc.

That’s not so amazing, you may be thinking.  Lots of places do that.  That’s just a rewards card.  BUT!  In this program, you don’t get to redeem your own points. You award them to a peer whom you see doing something that personifies the company BRAND.

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It’s Cool.  It’s “Pay It Forward” codified by a company.

Unfortunately, due to proprietary reasons, I can’t give you the details. Yet.  As soon as this pilot program is successfully ticking along, I plan to absolutely seek a thumbs up from them to tell you – and anybody else who will listen – about this great motivating idea!

What I can tell you is that although this new program was the result of years of internal surveys and had already been socialized in smaller groups, my HR team knew how incredibly pivotal their presentations would be on the official day of the launch.  They wanted to leave nothing to chance.

They know we’re all a bit skeptical of change.  Especially something that feels “too good to be true” like this program almost does.

Therefore, it was imperative that this plan was announced with a great amount of passion, conviction and genuine connection to the employees in their audiences.

We spent a great deal of time discussing the mindset and backgrounds of the audiences, refining the goals and intent the team had for how their presentation should be received, and of course, an equally great deal of time rehearsing and coaching around the content and delivery of the presentation.

Here, then, is the email I received soon after our session, for which I am grateful:

Many thanks for the session on Monday – I really enjoyed it and just wished that we had longer with you!

 We did a full rehearsal yesterday and it was amazing how different our delivery was after our time with you. I’m feeling more relaxed about tomorrow than I expected to after you gave my confidence a lift.  So thank you!”

It was a pleasure and an honor to work with people who are truly committed to innovating ways to inspire and motivate others.

And for you out there:  Where are you on this spectrum? Are you a naysayer? An innovator? An encourager? Or perhaps even a “Lifter of the uplifter?”

Thanks for the opportunity, folks.  Because even the uplifters need a boost now and again. Maybe especially.  Here’s to them.

Kindly,

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

Crisis Communications: Lessons from Lanzerote

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I train and consult around a range of business communications topics including how to prepare, avoid and handle Crisis. I was recently in Singapore discussing this very issue with some managers from a large multi-national.  But I was personally unprepared during my visit this week to the tiny island of Lanzerote.

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My eight-year-old daughter and I joined another mother and her three children on what was supposed to be a care-free week of mid-term holiday fun on one of Spain’s sunny Canary Islands.

Yet, two far-from-care-free events reminded me that careful and consistent preparation is the number one way to avoid Crises – business and personal.

I’ll share our story along with these pointers as a refresher for us all.

“We’re stranded!”

Our first mishap was the very afternoon we landed last Saturday.

The travel agent had booked us a private shuttle which was supposed to deliver us to the doorstep of our villa. Instead, after the driver deposited us, our kids and our luggage– and departed – we noticed a stranger basking at what we thought was our pool.

While he was kind, he also insisted this was his rental villa. A group of local cleaners who were onsite tidying agreed. His paperwork all checked out.

They took one look at the paperwork my friend showed them and shook their heads. Our destination’s typed address proved a puzzle.

Yes, this villa is number 20.  Yes, “Playa Blanca” is the name of the town we were in.  But! The street name on the sheet was from a town that was apparently a 40-minute drive north. Yikes! For good measure, they observed that the zip code listed didn’t even exist in Lanzerote. Terrific.

Neither of the two phone numbers typed on the information sheet connected to a live person.  One wasn’t working at all and the other said to call back during regular business hours Monday through Friday.

Fortunately for us, the cleaners stayed to help us try and put the pieces of the puzzle together.  Since they spoke fluent Spanish, they managed to contact the shuttle service which, in turn, managed to track down a someone from the property management company who revealed that our villa was actually number 26. Six doors down.  No explanation was provided for the error.

All this, after more than an hour being stranded with four understandably confused and cranky kids.

What if we had arrived later and no one had been there to help?!?

1. Share the plan/Make sure you know the plan – It’s important for businesses and leaders to share and get buy-in around a vision.  Likewise, it might have been a good idea for the travel agent to send a copy of our villa address and other information to me, not just to my friend.  In the same vein, I should have requested a copy, but I didn’t.  I don’t know that I would have noticed the errors with the address. But at least being aware of the plan is a responsibility when you’re part of a team.

2. Verify information – Did any of us think to test the phone numbers on the paperwork before we needed them?  Routine testing beforehand might alert that something is amiss.

“There’s been a break-in!”

Our second mishap unfolded as we returned after dinner in town to our number 26 villa Tuesday night.

Upon entering and turning on the light, we saw once-tidy clothing and papers scattered about the first two rooms.  There’s been a break-in! But strangely, we then noticed that my laptop and a child’s tablet had not been removed.  Could we have interrupted the intruder?  Was he still inside?!?

My friend immediately called the police. We gathered the shaking children. And left.

About twenty-minutes later, four police officers arrived and we went back in with them.  No more intruder – but a broken window latch downstairs.  He opened it from the outside – even though we thought we had it locked from the inside.

The police guessed the intruder was only after passports or cash.  We had those with us while we were at dinner.  So the would-be robber took nothing, but gave us all a big fright.

We took the children’s mattresses from the downstairs bedrooms and huddled together upstairs for the remainder of the night.

The next day, our Irish travel agent contacted the property manager who sent a handy-man to fix the window.  Nothing more.  No words of compassion or caring.

3. Check your systems. Along with routine testing of numbers in our case, or processes in business, it’s critical to check and re-check to see what can be improved upon.  We could even have checked the windows and doors ourselves – from the inside and out – before we left.  This, clearly, should be the responsibility of the property manager. But, I don’t think I’ll passively depend on that again. Knowing that we were staying in an unfamiliar place, we could have insisted with our travel agent that all the locks on the windows and doors had been recently serviced.

 4. Be Compassionate. This one is aimed at the property manager. My friend and I are can-do mommies and we did get to the beach and see the sights. But this was definitely not the mid-term holiday that we – or our kids – had imagined.

 The fact that the property manager didn’t even offer to reduce the fee for our stay – or move us to another villa – or even send us a box of chocolates or a pizza for the kids as a sign of caring, is NOT the way to keep customers and gain business.

We are all safely aboard the plane back home as I type this with, of course, the beauty of hindsight.  But it’s hindsight that I vow to turn to foresight.  I pledge to hold myself to the high standard that I encourage my business partners to undertake.

Just as soon as I’m finished here reminding myself of what I could do better next time to avoid a crisis, I will be writing to our travel agent to avoid the property supplier who did NOT prevent crises for their customers  – and as a result – themselves.

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Here’s wishing crisis-free travels for us all.

Very kindly,

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

 

How to Practice Presentations. 3 Top Tips!

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Developing an outstanding presentation takes time and organization.

It’s a combination of crafting compelling content designed to connect with your audience’s hopes, dreams and alleviate fears and then delivering with the right blend of para-lingual and body language techniques.

Last time, I addressed, WHY it’s good practice to practice.  Today, we’ll focus on HOW practice.

(Next time, I’ll write about content creation, so stay tuned.)

I’m often asked how to help get rid of nervousness for a presentation.  My number one piece of advice is: “Practice!”

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And by practice, I mean three things:

1) Speak aloud.   Don’t quietly memorize your script to yourself.  Do practice aloud and in full volume. Also do not be boring.  Do not be monotone.  Along with volume, pay attention to the emotion that is behind each word or phrase and make sure to add pitch, inflection, tone and/or pacing to help convey each meaning.  Consider emotions like surprise, enthusiasm, frustration, disappointment, imagination, hope and many more.  There are so many great ways to play with the sound of your voice.  Practicing aloud is where you can begin to hear the difference.

 2) Stand and use gestures and expressions.  Along with aloud, I also urge you to stand up.  Standing up allows your lungs to better be filled with air which provides you the breath support you need to project.  Standing is the more commanding and authoritative way to present. If you’re one who wants  to appear folksy and approachable, I would probably still encourage you to consider standing instead.  Command that room. (Oh, and get away from that dang podium. You don’t need it and it’s just a barrier between you and the real humans in the audience.)  Standing also allows you to incorporate important hand gestures.  Make broad gestures – even incorporating the whole body at times. Don’t flail your arms at the elbow like a seal.  And please, please, please – tell your face that you are delivering some emotion too. Engage your eyes. Hold a smile.  Take a pause and really look at the eyes of your audience. Engage!

3) Get in front of a mirror (or while recording video).  All of this practice will be more effective if you see how others see you.   Stand up and deliver in front of a mirror.  Look at yourself. Do you look like you care about your audience?  Are you smiling broadly when you are talking about how proud you are about this quarter’s earnings?  Are you leaning in when you are encouraging your team that you know they can boost the numbers to reach projections?  If you can hit record on your phone or have someone else record you, better still.  There’s nothing like watching yourself played back, to help correct areas where you may be flat.

Okay! Those are my top three tips for practicing.

 I’m also asked, “How many times should I practice?”

The answer:

“As many times as you need to do get extremely comfortable with the material.”

You must be solid on your introduction and closing.  You should also know the middle well enough to not have to look over your shoulder to read your slide deck – Grr!  The more comfortable you are with the presentation, the more comfortable you will be with your audience so you can react and respond in real time with them.

And remember, as with any presentation, it IS all about THEM.

Here’s to great practicing.

Cheers,

Gina

P.S.  Last word on nerves: While you may never be perfectly calm when speaking before a large crowd, if you discipline yourself to regularly apply careful preparation and practice, you can transfer that extra adrenaline into energy that will make the delivery of your rehearsed script a powerful  – and engaging – performance!

Copyright 2016 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

Gina’s recipe for Pear Scones

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I know I regularly write about how to improve business communications, but since I firmly believe we don’t have a professional life and a personal life – we just have a life – I am taking this moment to share something from my life – that I find pretty tasty!

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Since moving to Ireland, I have discovered scones are an integral part of life.  If it’s morning time and you walk into a café, a coffee shop or a diner, there will be scones.  One of the companies I am consulting with at the moment has a monthly communications meeting from all the department heads.  Before the employees walk into the conference room, they pause to take a scone from the heap of them on the long table out front.  The typical trifecta of flavors are “Brown” with wholewheat flour, “Fruit” – which usually translates as raisins or currants, or “Plain,” uhm, which is plain.

Scones are served with fresh whipped cream, Irish butter or jam to be slathered on.  And they’re not just for breakfast, either.  The first time I met someone for afternoon tea, the waitress asked me, “Would you like a scone with your tea?”

I like the scones here.  They’re not the dried out, flattened biscuits that are passed as scones in other parts of the world.  They’re dense yet still moist.

Interestingly, I have never had a pear scone here in Ireland – that I didn’t make myself.  I’ve been baking mine for about four years from some recipe I found online when we lived in Italy long before I ever imagined I would be moving to Ireland. I don’t remember the official source, since I hand-copied the recipe and the slip of paper now lives in my recipe box.  So, I don’t claim to have created this recipe, but I am happy to share it with you as “mine.”

Without further ado, here is my recipe for Pear Scones! Slainte!

Gina’s Pear Sconesscones

2 Cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ Cup white sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¾ Cup diced fresh pear

5 tablespoons cold butter

1 Cup cream (or half regular milk and half vanilla yogurt, which I have substituted when out of cream – and it worked great!)

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter until tiny crumbs.  Stir in diced pear and the liquid. This dough is pretty sticky – but that’s fine. Turn out onto floured service and lightly knead.  I put it then into an 8 inch cake pan and cut into 8 wedges.  Sprinkle top with white sugar –(I prefer caster sugar, which is really fine white sugar you can get here in Ireland/UK easily –  if you have it.)

Bake at 220C/400 F for 12/15 minutes

I cut mine in wedges although all the scones here are round.  I suppose you could easily cut the dough with an overturned and lightly floured glass if you’d prefer the round shape.

Et voila! I hope you like them.

Cheers, and happy life!

Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London.  All Rights Reserved.  

Practice makes Perfect. Or Does it?!

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For the first time in the twenty years that I have been leading communications training programs, I got push-back that:

 Practice Makes Perfect.”

I was in Singapore just over a week ago working with a group of twenty managers from all over the region (photo above is me obviously after the training). I was recording each participant as he or she delivered a message. An executive questioned my practice recommendation saying:

 I don’t know. I think I lose the true emotion of what I am trying to say. I think the spontaneity is gone.”

I welcome all challenges. Good dialogue helps us learn more about each other’s perspectives. It also compels me to reflect and reconsider my approaches and opinions. So, we put it to the test. I doubled back to the participant who had just completed his first round video recording and had him give it a second go on-camera.

He edited his content from his previous attempt which made his wording tighter, more concise.

The group agreed that his second time was stronger. But what about his “emotional spontaneity”?

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Don’t give up! You can do it! Practice!

Did he give up some of his initial extemporaneous expressions for those of a more contrived nature? My loyal adversary watched the recordings a couple days later (I give all my participants copies of their video clips to keep) and emailed me that to him, there was a natural and emphatic “blink in the eyes” that you couldn’t have repeated on command with the same impact.

Without debating the impact derived from a single blink, let’s broaden the topic to consider overall impact from a lengthy speech. What are the benefits of practice? Here are some of my reasons:

Why Practice?

1. You will KNOW your material. More than anything else, practice will prevent you from losing your train of thought or completely omitting a point. I don’t have to toss a stone too far on this one to hit Sarah Palin’s recent rambling ad-lib-a-thon US presidential endorsement of Donald Trump.

(This, of course, presumes you have actually written a script or an outline or something on which you can practice. We can’t make that same presumption with Palin.)

2. You will get rid of FILLERS. This is connected to Reason Number 1, but I list it separately to remind you that fillers are killers. When we don’t know precisely what we want to say next, many of us unconsciously add “uhh”, “you know”, “uhm”, “eh” or any other number of distracting – and unprofessional – utterances. These interrupt the smooth flow of our messages and can be completely disruptive to a highly expectant audience.  I was told of a performance professional who once counted a whopping 37 of these during a presentation made by someone who had eschewed his urging to practice. Speaking with fillers is a sure-sign that you are a rookie and will undermine whatever it is you’re trying to say.

3. You will be more CONFIDENT. Whenever anyone asks me the best way to reduce nervous butterflies, I encourage them to practice more. When you know what you are going to say, in the order that you are going to say it and have practiced doing so OUTLOUD several times, you WILL gain confidence.

4. Knowing your structure gives you FREEDOM. The confidence you have in knowing what you are going to say, allows you the freedom to be in the moment with your audience. I don’t advocate strict and unwavering memorization of a text. I encourage you to know it well enough that you can relax and have a genuine conversation with your audience. Think about the actor who explores a well-known role. Presentation delivery should be like a pianist playing a concert.  You know the piece so well, you are in the moment. You know what emotions your words are conveying. Don’t be a robot. Experience what you are saying with them. Watch their faces for verbal cues and give a little more or edit a bit depending.

5. Your Audience will APPRECIATE your professionalism. When you are comfortable and confident, your audience will be more so too. Nobody wants to watch someone ramble. You’re wasting their time.

6. Your MESSAGE will be MORE clearly understood. As with Reason Number 5, it’s frustrating for an audience to have to try and follow someone who doesn’t have a clear path. Audiences have other things on their minds. It’s up to you to make sure you’re easily understood and remembered. Don’t forget to tell them what’s in it for them!

Okay! There are six reasons why it’s beneficial to practice your next presentation. To help round out this topic, next time, I will outline some helpful tips for HOW to PRACTICE.

I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences with practice. When you did it to perfection and when you didn’t. What happened? What could have happened??

One quick follow-up from my loyal opposition: he has since emailed me that he is going to change his approach and try to practice more. I love that we’re engaging deeper on this issue. That’s how progress is made! He added in his last email that he’s “not a good repeater. Even if I do the same presentation several times, I use different words.”

That’s okay. As I mentioned above, you do not have to memorize your entire presentation word for word – to repeat it exactly the same way every time.  I do encourage you to have your introduction and your final closing lines pretty close to memorized. That ensures your message is solidly delivered. But again, the confidence you have from practicing your overall structure, will allow you the freedom to act within that structure.

The more your practice, the more you can really explore!

Cheers! Gina

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved. 

Networking Master Class.

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Real tips that work. Not theoretical ideas that don’t.

That’s the approach I strive for no matter what I train/coach/consult around.  But especially personally important for me is the concept of “networking.”  After all, I have lived and worked and met new people in such far-flung places as Cairo, Paris, Denver and now Ireland.

Last night the Cork Chamber hosted me before a gathering of some 70 business leaders as I led a “Master Class” on how to meet people at these types of contrived gatherings.

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I break it down this way:  BEFORE, DURING, AFTER.

BEFORE

1. Be Google-worthy!  Make sure when someone Googles you they find something! And the what they find is current, friendly and relevant.

Linked In. If you’re not on Linked In, do it.  This is your virtual office that you can invite people to.  I’m not going to go into details, but at the very least, make sure you have a photo in your profile, your summary is a compelling story of you, not some boring CV listing, and add photos, articles, clippings, etc.  And yes, post, post, post! This is where you can really come alive.

Twitter. This is your online “email” system. People can follow you. You can follow them back and then you can DM. Just like email but faster.  It’s lively and I find more and more professionals are using it as a way to instant meet-up.

All the rest. Facebook is like your online living room. I don’t know. Do you want everyone in there with you? Do you have a professional account and a personal account? Up to you.  Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Periscope, Snapchat (Obama’s doing it now…).  Do any and all of the rest as you have time and inclination. But at the very, very least – do Linked In.

2. Register, Research, Reach-out! Most networking events offer online sign-up and registration lists. Virtual communities to engage with even before you go to the event- or conference – or whatever.   If you research the lists, you can find people you can reach out to beforehand – Remember, you should be able to find them on Linked In or Twitter, right?  I asked around at my meeting and a few hands went up with stories of how positively this had worked for them.  The President of the Chamber was, in fact, going to have a coffee with a new person he reached out to via the registry of an upcoming conference  – before the  actual conference takes place. Good stuff.  However, the large majority of the room admitted they have never done this.  Now is the time!

DURING

1. Go early. Go alone. If you don’t know anyone, you can always find the host if you come a bit early. If you come with a friend, you may be inclined to stick to your safe person. That may limit you.  Stand up tall in a “power posture” and then talk to the registration people, the photographer, the drinks servers. Ask them to introduce you to someone. If you’re early, they probably will have time to help guide you.

2. Don’t work the room. Don’t be a dork. Zipping along from person to person and handing out cards is meaningless. Better to have a nice conversation with the host or one other person who is a veteran in the group than to flutter around aimlessly.

3. Ask. Don’t tell. Yes, be ready to say what you do in about 4 seconds. But it’s much friendlier to take an interest in the other person. Be curious. Ask questions. Ask follow-up questions.

4. Offer to help. Some call this section, “Add value” – but in the spirit of keeping it real and not sounding so businessy, I just say, “”try to find ways to help.”  If you know of a book that might be a good read for someone, recommend it. Likewise if you know a good plumber or some other product or service that me be relevant to the person you may be speaking with.

AFTER

1. Follow-up and follow-through. If you did recommend a book, add the link to where that book can be bought in your follow-up email.  You should follow-up as quickly as possible. The next day if at all possible.  Be friendly, don’t be desperate.  No matter who these people are, you are another human so don’t overly genuflect. Just be nice.

There’s much more that  we covered last night, but these are some good starters.

barry and me edit

As they say, “You really had to be there” to get the full impact of our role-playing, Q&A and other lively interactions.  But,  I hope you pick up a tip or two, but more importantly, put them into action to work for you!

 As a final word of tried and true wisdom, If you want a friend, be a friend. “

Copyright 2016 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

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