Author Archives: Phil Stella

Lose Lame Lines

An often-overlooked element in any workplace email or memo is the simple little Subject Line. Depending on their content, they can add to the message or detract from the workplace writer’s image of competency. So … here are a few tips to Lose Lame Lines:

  • No Subject’ – the absence of a subject line is really lame. That says the writer was too lazy to think of something or too unimaginative. While either could be true, neither reader assumption helps the writer’s credibility. So … anything is better than nothing.
  • ‘Meeting’ – at least better than ‘no subject’, but not much. It does tell the reader something about the message. Less helpful if the reader attends lots of meetings, however. Read More »

Create Positive Ties With Former Employees

A business reporter recently asked for my thoughts on building positive ties with ex-employees, so I turned my interview comments in to the piece  below. As you’ll see, the answer is simple to understand, but complicated to accomplish.

The solutionis to create positive relationships with all employees from the moment they accept your job offer. This concept must be a credible core value and a visible part of your workplace culture:

  • Also maintain a positive employee performance culture. Clearly define expectations, regularly evaluate.
  • Create a proactive employee communication commitment from the top down and be one of its champions.
  • Also maintain a positive employee performance culture. Clearly define expectations, regularly evaluate performance and fairly reward results.
  • Be more than their boss; be their Success Coach and Mentor. Embrace the philosophy that you can’t succeed in your job until you help all of your team to succeed in their jobs. Read More »

Slow Down … You Talk Too Fast!

(Now that many organizations have returned to in-person presentations and pitches, it’s time to polish up those delivery skills that may have gotten rusty with lack of use during the pandemic. So let’s consider that most workplace presenters talk to fast … )

That’s right, it’s time to slow you down.  An important component of vocal delivery, your pace or rate of speaking can impact your audience’s attention, interest and opinion of you along with your ability to pause effectively.

Slow Down

Just as audience members tend to perceive a soft-spoken speaker as lacking in confidence or credibility, they react similarly to a fast-talking speaker. It doesn’t matter if this perception is accurate or not, because their perception is your reality. You are what they think you are.

Each of us has a normal comfort zone range of speaking rate, influenced by varying physical, psychological and cultural factors. And for some people, that comfort zone is too fast for the typical audience. It makes listeners work too hard to keep up with them. Since they don’t like to work hard, they often tune out and turn off. They also can perceive fast-talkers as insincere, nervous or inept. Read More »

It’s ShowTime!

Many entrepreneurs and business owners use business expos and smaller local trade shows to market their products and services and network with prospects, clients and colleagues. If that strategy works for your business, here are some Best Practices to help you maximize your experience, ROI and value by Asking the Right Questions.

The Attendee Experience

Business show attendees are usually in a hurry and most attend for specific reasons. They’re looking to connect with providers of products or services they may need. They cruise the isles quickly, looking for what they want, or good SWAG or … as in my case, snacks.

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Introverts Arise!

Now that many organizations are returning to in-person events, people are getting back into the networking game. I recently got a call from a reader who admitted to being very introverted, but still wanted to improve his networking results. I thought other introverts might benefit from what I shared:

1.   Introverted people have the potential of being better networkers than extroverts … really.  They talk less, but listen more.  They’d rather ask than tell. These are great qualities for a networker who wants to make the best possible first impression when engaging strangers. Extroverts tend to talk too much and mostly about themselves.  They can’t listen effectively when they’re talking all the time.

2.  Introverts should create and practice a simple elevator speech response to the often-asked question at networking events – ‘What do you do?’  They can practice it with friends they’re comfortable with until it is short, focused, engaging and interesting.

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Communicate with Style

(A reader recently commented that her written style and verbal style are often different. My reply … )

Lots of people feel that way and communicate accordingly. However, that doesn’t need to be the case in the contemporary and more casual business culture many of us work in. If you view workplace writing as ‘people talking to people on paper’, then you value and use a more conversational style. Read More »

Do Your Emails Definitely Suck?

Last month’s piece on email ‘worst practices’ really hit home with several readers who asked for even more content. I love it when that happens. So … your emails will definitely suck if you:

  • Use ‘cc’ that displays a long distribution list instead of concealing the names with a ‘bcc’.
  • Don’t keep it short and simple so the whole message can fit in a single screen without scrolling down. Read More »

Maximize Your Trade Show ROI

The Covid-19 restrictions are lifting in many areas and many sales professionals and entrepreneurs are considering using expos and trade shows again. Properly managed, they can be an effective strategy to market products and services and network with prospects, clients and colleagues. If that strategy works for your business these days, here are four Best Practices to help you maximize your trade show experience, ROI and value. Read More »

End Strong

Last month’s piece on presentation intros generated some gratifying positive buzz and requests for more. So, let’s go to the end of the message and ‘tell ‘em what we said.’ Audience-Centric presentations should end, not just stop. And they should End Strong. Your intro is critically important, but so is your summary or conclusion. You can also ‘Get Them at Goodbye!’

While the audience may be influenced most by what they hear first, they usually remember most what they hear last. So, a powerful ending can ‘close the sale’. You can quickly restate your Main Point in terms of audience-centric value, remind them of the Sub-Points you shared to ‘prove’ your Main Point and let them know what’s next. Just as with your Introduction, that’s a lot of important work to do in a very short time, so every word must count here, too. What follows are 10 Best Practices for your Power Ending:

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Get Them at ‘Hello’

The first few minutes of any presentation are most important minutes. Start strong, powerfully, engaging and immediately so you don’t blow your intro. And never start with a joke unless you were hired as an entertainer and the only goal is to be humorous. Jokes rarely work in typical workplace presentations.

What does work is thorough planning and careful crafting of your opening comments. Introductions should generally be 10 % of the running length – or less – and accomplish a lot of important tasks:

  • Engage the audience immediately with a question, fact, stat, quote, etc. Stories work, but they have to be very short and connect directly to the message … and most aren’t. Read More »