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Verbal Dexterity: Talking the Talk » 2008 »

Archive for December, 2008

New Year’s Resolutions For The Successful Executive, Manager & Employee

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

Yes, it’s that time of the year.
The time to assess the good, the bad and that ugly sweater that, even though it was on sale, you should never have bought.
The time to promise that we really do need to lose those extra 15 pounds, visit Tahiti and read that massively boring book that has been sitting on our shelf for months.

Whatever your personal resolutions are, these are the ones that all ambitious and capable businesspersons need to embrace.
Yes, that means you.

Paste these to your fridge, observe them religiously and contact me when you get promoted or land the big deal.

Here we go:

  • I will not use my Blackberry during a meeting, a meal or when anyone else is speaking.
  • I will memorize the names of everyone in the room and use their names when addressing them.
  • I will take that extra minute to double-check my clothing and attire for holes, stains, wear and odors BEFORE I walk out the door to start my day.
  • I will show up to meetings on time and take notes that I will actually be able to read and understand tomorrow.
  • I will not talk about others behind their back (no matter how tempting).
  • I will deliver projects on time or early.
  • I will take the blame alone, but share the credit with others.
  • I will publicly acknowledge and praise those that deserve it.
  • I will actually read resumes that get sent to me.
  • I will serve as a mentor to someone younger.
  • I will volunteer to work on a project.
  • I will work on improving my listening skills.
  • I will not agree with everything my Boss says and explain so, in respectful and persuasive language.
  • I will try to be the most prepared person in the room.
  • I will not add needless cc:s to my e-mails and will not automatically hit “Reply All.”
  • I will offer to pick up a lunch bill every once in a while.
  • I will surprise my colleagues by bringing in donuts and coffee.
  • I will arrive to work early and leave late.
  • I will develop a workable filing system and keep my desk uncluttered.
  • I will say “thank you” and “yes”more frequently and “no” less often.
  • I will zig when others zag.

    Today’s Tip: The end of a very tough year has finally arrived. 2009 will have new challenges and a new rhythm. You can’t control everything—just yourself and your approach to work. You can start by “raising your game.” Others will notice the new you…and that may make all the difference.

    Just remember, you always have Verbal Dexterity!

    Be well, be happy, be healthy and have a great 2009!

  • The Pliant Client: How To Properly Host A Client Event

    Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

    Everyone loves tickets to the “big event.” Think Super Bowl weekends, Broadway shows, the Circus, NASCAR, etc. It’s fun, exciting and a great milieu in which to build and enhance business relationships.

    Unfortunately, some well-intentioned Hosts don’t think things through and end up alienating, rather than astounding, their guests.

    I have been to dozens and dozens of these events and have noted what impressed and what annoyed the other invitees.

    Hope that these tips help:

  • The little things matter: splurging for a big ticket but not taking care of incidental matters like transportation & parking can annoy your guests.
  • Don’t just give them a seat: if you want to really do it right, have a gift bag waiting for them and take care of their food & drink during the spectacle.
  • Family Affairs: don’t limit the guest-list to the big shots. Invite their families and you will be on the right path to winning them over (just ask any Executive parent that has heard their kid say “Mommy, that was soooooo much fun”).
  • Have name badges available so that your other clients can identify and talk to each other.
  • Never put a Host employee in better seats than a client. Never.
  • Make sure that all invitees clearly understand start times, locations and agenda…and remind them just before the event.
  • If you are going to provide food (e.g. in a corporate tent or Executive Suite) make sure that most dietary preferences are covered and that the food is consistent with the message that you are trying to convey. Also, make sure that you never run out of food. Nothing screams “cheapskate” like an empty sterno tray.
  • Every item served should reflect a consistent message. For example, don’t serve lobster and lamb chops and then cheap out on the wine.
  • The food should also mirror the event: items should be on the same level (hot dogs and soda are a fine match for a ball game but not for the Opera).
  • Have representatives in user-friendly locations to provide directions and assistance to your attendees.
  • Always provide a memento or “souvenir” that reflects their attendance and will remind them of you and your company (e.g., binoculars with the corporate logo).

  • Today’s Tip: The rule is simple. If you are going to spend the time. effort and money to host a client event—do it right. Make it fun, festive and with lots of good quality food and drink. Also spend lots of time thinking about every aspect of your guest’s experience (from initial arrival to final departure). It will make all the difference.

    Your Mont Blanc Pen Says “Yes”, But Your Eyes Say “Get Me Out Of Here”–How To Recognize A Disinterested Audience

    Thursday, December 4th, 2008

    We all tend to believe that we are worth listening to. Unfortunately, we are not all correct. There are some business leaders and speakers out there (and they may not know whom they are) that just drone on and on and on.

    For some reason, I tend to have lots of meetings with these individuals.

    While they are numbing their audience into submission (be it in a small meeting or at a large conference), their listeners are completing their “chores to do” list and trying to draw a doodle that looks like Obama. During a one-on-one meeting or interview these oblivious “babbling brooks” (think 1950’s insurance salesman) have no clue that their prospective client has mentally checked out of the conversation minutes or even hours ago.

    So, what are the signs to look for that can give you, future speaker, insight into where your audience’s head and ears are?

    Here are some tips:

  • Work on developing great peripheral vision. You need to engage and include all listeners in your speech and notice and account for their reactions as well.
  • Observe their body posture. A slanted or slumped body means disinterest, disrespect or boredom.
  • Focus on the listener’s eyes. It will be hard for them to not look at you while you are looking at them. Their indirect eye contact, even for a few milliseconds, may reflect their desire to find a literal and figurative “exit.”
  • A listener’s lips can also unconsciously reveal anger, interest or faked neutrality. People show teeth and subtle smile lines when they are engaged.
  • If you are close enough, listen to their exhalations. Slow exhaling through their nose or more audible releases through their mouth can demonstrate a lack of patience with the speaker or the topic.
  • Excessive self-caressing (rubbing hair or arms) by the listener signals uncomfortability.
  • Numerous leg crosses reveals nervousness or a desire to change the topic.
  • Arms folded is a conspicuousious gesture that screams “keep your distance, buddy!”
  • Audience members looking at their wrist watch are not hoping that you will talk longer.
  • Attendees spending most of their time looking at their Blackberry instead of you are not thinking about giving you a standing ovation.
  • Ok. So your audience is about to fall asleep. What can you do?

  • Vary your voice volume, inflection, speed and pentameter. If your voice bounces, so will your audience.
  • Move around while you speak. If the audience has to follow you, they won’t zone out.
  • Don’t make it a one-way communication. Engage the listener. Ask personal questions and opinions. People love to talk about themselves.
  • In the middle of your spiel, clap your hands or purposely drop something on the table. The noise will jolt them out of submission.
  • Have chocolate or coffee nearby. Caffeine always helps.
  • Have a humorous anecdote or joke at the ready. Laughter improves blood flow and keeps the audience on your side.
  • Give the audience an exercise to complete or participate in. Physical and mental stimulation can keep their juices flowing.
  • Have something interesting to say, with great transitions.

  • Today’s Tip: Don’t just talk in a vacuum. Pay really close attention to your audience and their eyes, body language and gestures. They are giving you instantaneous feedback on how you are doing. Sure, they can fake it here and there, but not during your entire speech. If and when you see that you are losing them, shake things up with your voice, body and, of course, really good content.