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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A children's story and it's hidden meaning!

I guess you know the story of the 
tortoise and the hare ….

The tortoise challenged the hare to a race. The hare, being quicker, was over-confident. So he stopped for a quick nap. Unfortunately for him, he overslept and the tortoise plodded along to victory.

The moral: slow and steady wins the day.

But, here’s the sequel…

The hare realised his error. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. This time he didn’t go to sleep, and sped along, winning easily.

The moral: fast and consistent is better than slow and steady.

And so the tortoise re-challenged the hare. But, this time, the tortoise chose another route to race along. One with a stream in the middle. The hare reached the stream first, but – unable to cross it – had to stop there. The tortoise plodded across, and won.

The moral: play to your own strengths/your competition’s weaknesses, and you’ll be successful.

But, by now, the hare and tortoise had become good friends. So, they decided to run the race together. This time, the tortoise rode on the hare’s back, who sprinted to the stream. They then swapped, and the tortoise carried the hare across the water. Once safely across, they swapped back, and they sped to the finish line, achieving a record time.

The moral: when working in a team, use each other’s strengths to win well, and win quickly. It’s often the only way to do so.

And the moral of todays post?
Well, it depends on your situation, and what you apply it to. But, in my experience, pretty much everybody can learn pretty much something from one of these stories:

  • Not left enough time to prepare a communication? Such that you have to wing it on the day? Slow and steady prep is better than none at all
  • Have some days when you sometimes communicate well, and others which aren’t so good? Be more consistent. Work out simple communication techniques you can embed, so you always do them – whatever the day, whatever your mood
  • Want to make the most of an opportunity, but have to beat the competition? Play to your strengths, not theirs. Smaller than them? Talk about how nimble you are. New to the industry? Talk about how you can bring best-practices from outside. When David fought Goliath, he didn’t go hand-to-hand. That would have been stupid. Instead, he stood a distance away – where Goliath couldn’t reach him – and hurled stones at him. That way, Goliath was bound to lose. He was a sitting duck
  • Working in a team? Find what everyone’s individual strengths are, and allocate jobs based on those. If there’s a ‘strength gap’, find someone new who has those strengths, rather than allocating the job to someone who isn’t good but happens to be available. Remember: availability is not a skill

Action point

Identify which of these lessons you can apply to your next communication. Then apply it.

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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

2 steps to overcoming any objection

Last week’s post explained how to get more 'yeses' by using your BO (Benefits/Options).

This week we go further, by explaining how to reduce the chance they’ll say 'no'. You achieve this by removing their objections.

These objections aren’t objectionable. They’re real to them. You must proactively address and resolve them, in ways that make you both feel comfortable.

The first step is to focus on the value your proposition will bring to them. The more they see the value to them, the more likely you’ll get that 'yes'.

The second step is to remove their objections:

  • Create a 2-column table. List all their likely objections on the left-hand side, and – on the right – your responses
  • From the table, choose their biggest 1-2 objections. Pre-empt and remove them by including them in your communication. So, you bring them up. Don’t wait for them to. “If I was you, I’d be concerned about the cost, given how tight budgets are. Well, let me outline why the return from this proposition outperforms our other options.”
  • For all the other objections, prepare and practise persuasive responses. This is better than the only alternative: making up your responses on the day, before their eyes. This just never goes well.

Action point

  • Identify your next key communication where it’s important you get a 'yes'
  • Structure your content, so it makes it clear how your proposition brings value to them. Ensure you finish with a persuasive BO
  • Tabulate their likely objections to your content, together with your responses. Incorporate the main 1-2 in your communication, using “if I was you…”
  • Practise your responses to the other objections, so you’re ready should they raise them.

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

2 Steps to more yeses - instantly!

You have to be good at persuading others to say 'yes'.

These 'yeses' could be big (“please invest X million €'s in Y”). They could be small (“please do Task Z”). But, the better you are at triggering them, the quicker you’ll succeed.

There’s no proven way to get a 'yes' 100% of the time. But some techniques significantly increase your chances. One is to use 'BO':

  • BBenefits – explain why your proposition will help the other person in ways they – not you – perceive to be valuable. This shows them a 'yes' is in their interest 
  • OOptions – give them 2-3 choices as to how they can accept, and ask which they’d prefer. This helps turn their thinking from “should I agree?” to “how should I agree?”

So sentences like “you’ve heard our proposition. Would you like to invest X€'s?” contain no benefit; and also allow ‘no’ as an easy answer. A more compelling script is:

(B) “We can help you achieve your objective of doing X this year. So how would you like to proceed? (O) “We could either do the full programme we discussed; or start by doing Phase I, then deciding next steps?”

BO works on anyone – even the boss:

(B) I want to get your report out before close of play. I just need five minutes to run through a few questions. (O) Have you time now, or shall I come back in an hour?”

And, remember the Golden Rule of Persuasion: when they say 'yes' to one of your Options, stop talking!

Action point

  1. Identify your next key communication where you need a 'yes.'
  2. Script your BO: explain why a 'yes' will Benefit them, and devise 2-3 Options that both you and they will feel comfortable with.
  3. Practise your BO, so it flows naturally on the day.

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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Are you the Wicked Witch of the West?

Remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz where the witch sends her winged monkeys to capture Dorothy?

You know the one – she says something like “Fly… fly my pretties.”

In effect, she’s saying “Go and do this thing I want you to do, while I stay here in my castle doing lots of magic stuff” (OK, I admit it: their script’s better than mine).

I was reminded of this scene recently. A team’s leader said to me: "I want you to help my team be better at networking. They need to get out more. Meet more people. Get our name known in the marketplace. We need to be front-of-mind with our target market."

So I asked him what networking he did, how he did it, and where he’d like them to do it.

His response: he said he didn’t have time, which was why he wanted them to do it.

But that’s the Wicked Witch Approach: “Fly… fly my pretties. Go and do this thing I want you to do, while I stay here in my castle doing lots of magic stuff.”

As leaders, we can of course delegate to others. And it’s essential we do.

But it’s also essential to role model the behaviours we want to see in them (in other words, don’t be hypocritical).

  • Want your team to turn up to meetings on time? And have done the pre-work? Then you should – every meeting
  • Want them to change their behaviours to reflect the new strategy? Then you should – as early and as visibly as possible
  • Want them to engage with the training programme you’ve invested in? Then you should – brief them beforehand, attend it yourself (with your phone off), role model what you learn, keep doing so after the course
  • Want them to stop emailing as much? Then you should send less… and don’t email them to tell them you’re doing so

The minute you don’t – even if it’s because you had lots of magic stuff to do in your castle – you give them the perfect excuse to stop.

And, as for their (or your) concern ‘I don’t have time’… well, the good news is that time’s never about time. It’s about priority. There’s always time – if something’s important enough.

Talking of which, I’m now making time to sit by the phone, waiting for the Hollywood scriptwriter’s call. I’m sure it’s coming any day now…

Action point

Think of the last thing you asked your team to do that they didn’t. Do you role model it enough?

Now think of what you’re going to ask them to do today. How will you role model that?

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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

6 steps to captivating your audience

Have you ever delivered a presentation and thought, “My audience isn't engaged. They’re not responding. I’ve lost them.”

Never pleasant.

And, when you’ve 32 slides still to go, it’s even worse.

Research shows most audiences are similar in what they like/don’t when receiving communications. Most like interactivity, stories, clarity, quizzes, humour, brevity. Most dislike irrelevance, no variety, text-filled slides, waffle, repetition, sloppy delivery.

So, use this research to make your presentations more audience-friendly. When you finish preparing your content, highlight the areas they’ll find fun and interesting. If there are long periods with no highlights, insert audience-engaging activities in there – for example:

  • identify questions you can ask to make it interactive
  • include a story – personal or funny works well
  • show a different-looking slide – maybe a picture, graphic, or cartoon
  • tell a joke

Do this and you’ll enjoy it more.

And when you enjoy it more, they will too.

And when that happens, your presentation is more likely to work.

Action point

For your next presentation, highlight where they’ll enjoy it – interactivity, stories, quizzes etc. If there isn’t enough highlighting, insert more interesting stuff.

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