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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Do you ever find it difficult to remember to keeping in touch with the important people in your life? Try these 5 simple steps!

You have lots of important people in your life.

Do you speak with them enough?

As much as you want to?

As much as they want you to?

If not, here’s a simple technique to make sure you do…

People tell me they usually contact people because of an event. Examples:

  • You and your partner have a lovely meal out, after the event of them pointing out you’re working too hard
  • A supplier shows wonderful customer care, after the event of a complaint
  • You hold your first team meeting for a few weeks, after the event of them falling behind target

And, of course, that’s good. Events should cause things to happen.

But there are two problems if we rely on events as our trigger:

  • There might not be one. That means you won’t speak to these important people for ages; plus
  • People begin to realise that – every time you get in touch - something bad has probably happened!

So, try this instead – the KITE approach. Where KITE stands for ‘Keep In Touch Every’. Here’s how it works…

  • List. Create a list of all your ‘important’ people. This shouldn’t take long. Just look at the contacts in your phone, and identify who you should speak to regularly
  • KITE. For each person, write how often you should talk with them. So, should you Keep In Touch Every week, month, quarter, year?
  • Group. Group all the ‘weeklies’ in one list, ‘monthlies’ in another, etc
  • Diarise. Put in recurring diary entries, reminding you to get in contact with them. So the ‘weeklies’ would have a recurring weekly diary entry; the ‘monthlies’ a recurring monthly one, and so on. 
  • Do. When the diary entry appears, contact them

And, when you do get in contact, remember - Person #5 doesn’t know what you’ve said to Person #4. So, you can often use similar messages to all the weeklies, tweaked slightly so each feels personal to them.

KITE means you never forget anyone. After all, your diary’s memory is much better than yours.

Also, it means you’re in control – not the occurrence (or not) of external events.

So, do you keep in touch with people as often as you should?

Action point

Do your KITE five steps.

If you’ve got 20 minutes now, do them now.

If not, identify now when you’ll do it later. It’ll only take 20 minutes. But, once your recurring diary entries kick in, you’ll always be proactively contacting them, rather than reacting to events. Better for both of you.

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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

A VERY simple way to make your next presentation interesting and interactive

Most people hate one-way presentations.

You know the type of thing – the presenter talks; the audience listens (or doesn’t).

But everyone prefers it when it’s interactive. It’s easier for the presenter – they don’t have to do all the talking. It’s miles more engaging for the audience.

So, interactivity is good.

But here’s a question for you: on a scale of 1-10, how interactive are your presentations?

Any score under eight is too low.

You want your audience more involved than that. Here's how to bump up your score…

Remember: if you want presentations to be interactive, your audience has to say something.

And that’ll only happen because of one of two reasons:

  • They proactively chip-in; or 
  • They answer your questions 

The trouble with the first is… they might not.

So, the only way to guarantee your presentations are interactive is to ask good questions.

So, when you prepare, as well as doing slides and run-throughs, you also need to script and practise the questions you’ll ask.

And aim for at least one question on every slide.

These questions should be both First Questions and Second Questions (where you probe into their answers to your Firsts).

For example, one of my customers recently delivered a sales pitch which contained a slide “The four main benefits of choosing us”.

It was a beautifully-crafted slide, packed with compelling benefits… But, until I intervened, they were planning to show the slide, read the benefits, and then hurtle to the next slide.

So, we scripted and practised questions. And, on the day, this slide was up for over ten minutes. And their questions went like this…

  • So these are the four benefits that we see. What do you think of them? 
  • And have we missed any? 
  • Which of these benefits is most important to your business? 
  • Why’s that? 
  • So how quickly would you like to get that benefit? 
  • Why’s that? 
  • We can jump on that immediately for you. Have you got the capacity to work with us on it now? 
  • That all sounds great. But do you have any concerns about how this might work? 
  • I have a few thoughts as to how we could overcome that. But, before I share those, what do you think we could do about this? 
  • Why’s that? 
  • How about if we also did X? 
  • So, we’ve agreed the main benefit is XXXX. What do you think is the next most critical? 
  • Why’s that? 
  • And so on 
As I said, this slide was up for over ten minutes. Read all these questions out loud and it takes one minute max. That means the audience was talking for nine of the ten minutes. Fully interactive. Fully engaged.

And you’ll never guess what…

… my customer won the business. The feedback they got: “We absolutely got the benefits you’re bringing us, how quickly they’ll happen and our role in ensuring they happen. It was a no-brainer choosing you.”

If you and I were chatting now – rather than you reading this post – I would have scripted and practised this question to ask you now – “when’s your next presentation that you can use this technique?”

But we aren’t chatting. So…

Action point

Identify the next presentation you’re doing, where you could incorporate more questions.

Then, script and practise them – both First and Seconds. Such that these questions feel as comfortable to you as your content.

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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

How much detail should you include in your next communication?

In the story of the Three Bears, Goldilocks liked her porridge 'just right' – not too hot, not too cold.

Just like the people you speak to. They want your comms to be 'just right' – not too detailed, not too brief.

But what’s the ‘just right’ amount of detail?

Well, I’ve no idea.

It depends. On all sorts of things – the topic, what you think needs including, what they think does.

So how about this: next time you’re preparing a communication for someone, ask them in advance what level of detail they want. Some examples: 

  • Asked to create a proposal? Say "Before I write it, let's quickly agree on the content you’d like in there. That way, it'll contain everything you need without boring you with stuff you don’t” 
  • Asked by your boss to write something for her? Ask her in advance what the main headings/sections should be, and the level of detail she wants 
  • Running a meeting for your team? Ask them what they want in the agenda, and the level of detail they want 

I know, I know... this Tip is hardly the most ground-breaking thinking, is it?

But just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it happens.

Ask yourself: last time you prepared a communication for someone, did you ask them in advance what they wanted?

And, if you didn’t, did the communication achieve what you wanted?

If not, you know what to do next time.

Action point

Today, someone will ask you to create a communication for them.

So agree in advance what’s to go in there. You want to agree at least two things: (1) the headings plus (2) level of detail.

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

This could be costing you and your company a fortune in time, money and energy

Why is it that companies have rigorous processes and sign-off procedures for agreeing to a 200€ expense… but none whatsoever when people do something much more expensive – call a meeting?

Because meetings cost a lot…

  • What percentage of your job do you spend in meetings? Multiply that percentage by your salary – that’s the cost to your company of you attending them all 
  • But the cost is more than that. Now add on all the profitable, productive work you would have done if you hadn’t been at all those meetings 
  • Now do the same exercise for every other employee in your company – that’s how much your company spends on meetings 
  • But it’s more than money… 
  • Now add on all the time absorbed in these meetings 
  • And then there’s the negative impact some meetings have on people’s energy and motivation 
  • One more: with recurring meetings, people often just go through the motions. This stifles creativity, thought and discussion – another huge cost 
  • Oh, and then there’s hire of rooms and equipment; the cost of refreshments, and so on… 

This list shows how much it costs your company to have so many meetings. If you’re a team leader, you can make it more personal to you – multiply the costs/time/energy sap/Stifling Costs per person by the number of people in your team – that’s the impact on your team’s productivity and happiness.

Now, some meetings, of course, are worth their weight in gold. But, for the ones that aren’t, here’s the link to this post's title again:

This could be costing you and your company a fortune in time, money and energy 

It could be. It’s right up there, that’s for sure.

So, what to do about it? Well, I can think of three obvious things you could do right now:

  1. For all your brilliant meetings – the ones that everyone truly values and enjoys – don’t change a thing. They’re brilliant as they are. Carry on 
  2. For all the rubbish, pointless meetings that achieve absolutely nothing? Stop them. Now. It’ll do no harm if you do this. After all, they’re rubbish and pointless 
  3. And for all the meetings that are somewhere in between – they do have a point but could be more productive and enjoyable – improve them 

And to improve these meetings, remember my PALM technique:

  • Purpose – identify your meeting’s purpose – what you want to happen as a result of it. Usually, this will be one of two things beginning with A – you Agree on something and/or there’ll be some Actions 
  • Agenda – once you know your purpose, work backward from there. What are the only things you need to decide, to achieve this purpose? That’s your agenda 
  • Limit the time – don’t schedule meetings for one hour because Outlook is split into one-hour chunks. That’s just ridiculous. If a meeting can be done in ten minutes, put it in for ten minutes 
  • Minimal attendees – the more attendees, the slower/worse the decision making. So, only invite the people who need to be there, to achieve the meeting’s purpose 

Remember, if you attend eight one-hour meetings every week, that means you spend a fifth of your job in meetings. And, unless they’re all brilliant, that’s way too much. 

Action point

Look through this week’s diary. Label each meeting as:

  1. Brilliant 
  2. Rubbish 
  3. Somewhere in between 
And then, for each one:
  1. If it’ll be brilliant – attend it. You’ll love it 
  2. If it’ll be rubbish – if you’re the owner, cancel it. If someone else is, decline it (politely of course. Oh, unless it’s your boss’s boss’s boss’s meeting… in which case, maybe just go!) 
  3. If it’s somewhere in between, improve it with PALM

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

No tech is sometimes better than high tech

Over a recent long weekend away, I saw something weird…

It was a family of four, sat around a square table in the hotel. All were staring intently at their own smartphones. They weren’t looking at each other. Weren’t speaking to each other. Nothing.

The group I was with finished breakfast then popped back upstairs to freshen up and then we walked back past the restaurant on the way to the reception.  And, I noticed the family were still there. In exactly the same position. Staring at their phones. Ignoring each other.

Then it suddenly dawned on me: you see this sort of thing all the time.

Like, when people arrive at a meeting, and the first thing they do is put their phone next to them. Face up. This suggests to me they think “someone more important than you might contact me. If they do, I’ll interrupt you, to see what they want.”

Or when someone misses something important in a meeting/presentation, because they’re looking at their phone. And they then expect you to repeat it! (To me, this suggests “this person on the phone who I can’t see is more important than you, who I can.”)

I’ve even heard that, when some people wake up, they roll over to their phone first, not their partner (this suggests “anybody is more important to me than you.”)

Now, of course, smartphones are brilliant.


For example, I really need mine. It means I can get back to my customers super-fast.

And, let’s face it, you’re possibly reading this post on yours!

But real life is better than virtual life.

Real people are better than virtual people.

And the person who’s speaking to you – the person who has gone through all the effort and emotion of preparing what they’re saying – is more important than any virtual person who isn’t there.

So here are some things to consider:

  • Download the App “Moment”. It shows how long you spend on your phone each day. This is very useful (and potentially alarming!) to know 
  • Go and see your colleagues. As in, actually, walk to their desks and have a conversation with them 
  • In a meeting? Leave your phone in your bag 
  • Speaking to your team? Ban everyone’s phones from the meeting 
  • Away from the office? Spend time away from your phone 
  • Going out for dinner? Leave your phone at home (I remember taking my teenage son Jack and three of his friends out for pizza. When we sat down, his friends took their phones out. I said, “if you expect me to pay for this, the least you can do is speak to me”. Jack thought that was a fair enough request. They were amazed. I doubt they’d ever heard something like that before) 
  • Going to bed? Leave your phone outside the bedroom. If you need it for an alarm clock, buy an alarm clock 

And the next time you find yourself with a group of other human beings, talk to them, engage with them, show an interest and have fun...

…because they are more important than anything else.

No matter what your phone says.

Action point

Spend less time on your phone.

Encourage your team to spend less time on theirs.

And that’s it.

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