Category Archives: Articles

Surviving Q&A

This deep dive discusses how to handle audience questions. What you do … and don’t do … with them has a critical impact on your results, often more than the overall message content itself. Here are some ‘Do & Don’t’ Best Practices to help you Survive and Thrive during the Audience Q&A. Read More »

Do Your Emails Suck?

They might if you ignore the reality that every note you send a customer, colleague or manager can project your image of professionalism, competency and courtesy — or detract from it.  So, if you don’t want your emails to suck, just avoid these worst practices: Read More »

Elevate Your Elevator Speech

Elevator Speeches … 30 Second Commercials … Shameless Self-Promotions. They’re our typical response to the often asked ‘What do you do?’ We all use them at networking meetings and other professional group events. But, most of us don’t do them with enough focus, flexibility and finesse. As these events increase with warmer weather, it’s time for your annual Elevator Speech Upgrade. So, enjoy these simple and easy strategies to Elevate Your Elevator Speech (ES). Read More »

Brainstorming Brilliance

When was the last time you held a team brainstorming session to identify a name for a new product, solve some problem or even a come up with a location for the next staff volunteer day… and you got nothing?  You asked for input, but only a few spoke up and others criticized or made fun of those ideas. Most people just sat there silently starring at their blank sheets of paper … or, phones. One person had enough courage to tell you that you’re the boss and you’ll do whatever you want anyway, so why bother with this waste of time?

Hmmm … doesn’t sound like a very empowered or dynamic team, now does it? But, not to worry. These five simple Brainstorming Brilliance strategies can improve your results the next time you need creative input from your team. Read More »

Slay the Impromptu Dragon!

Has this ever happened to you? Maria arrived at work early, got a cup of coffee and settled into tackling her highest priority task of the day. When, out of nowhere, her boss Tony approached her cubicle and asked the question that strikes fear in the hearts most of employees, ‘Hi Maria … you busy?’

Without waiting for an answer, he indicated that some of the executives from Glitztronics were in for a project status review meeting. Andy, the team lead, had just called in sick, so Tony asked her to fill in and do a five-minute quickie overview for them … right now. ‘After all’, he said, ‘you’re the senior member of the project team anyway.’

Instant stress, panic and fear would overtake most people in a similar situation. They couldn’t say no, but would be terrified that they’d blow it and look foolish in front of their clients … and their boss. Not Dragon-Slayer Maria … she’s a real pro at workplace presentations.

Impromptu presentations can be the workplace communicator’s worst nightmare … if you let them. But, having a ‘what if’ plan for just such emergencies can save the day.

Here’s what Maria did to Slay the Dragon:

First, she took a deep breath, smiled at Tony and told him she’d be happy to help out with a tone of confidence, even appreciation.

Maria then asked him what three or four brief talking points he wanted her to discuss and who specifically would be in the room.

She jotted down some quick notes and followed him down the hall.

Tony briefly introduced Maria, indicating she was filling in for the absent Andy and turned the meeting over to her. And she had them at ‘hello’.

She welcomed the clients, said she was delighted to give them a brief project status and discuss its background, current activity and next series of milestones.

Then, Maria did a very smart thing … she asked them if that agenda worked for their needs and if anyone had any specific questions they wanted to make sure got addressed.

Since she hadn’t even seen Andy’s slides, she didn’t use any.

She simply did a brief review of the project and asked if they had any other questions. In her quick summary, Maria thanked them again for the opportunity to work with Glitztronics and said she looked forward to their next meeting.

So, you can all learn from a pro like Maria and Slay Your Impromptu Dragon. Have a basic structure in mind that can quickly adapt to most any topic and quickly decide on content points and support facts as you walk down the hall. Project confidence, enthusiasm and enjoyment, especially if you’re faking it, and never let them see you sweat.

Hey … it worked very well for Maria. She got applause from the clients and glowing comments from Tony, who didn’t forget her stepping up at performance review time. 

The Fear Factor Revisited

(As an executive presentation coach, the most useful and valuable skill I can share with anyone is how to manage their Presentation Anxiety. So, consider this KISS version of a longer piece a holiday gift from me to all of you.) 

How many of you experience pain when you deliver presentations at work? How many hate speaking in public? I see a lot of hands up, so let’s briefly discuss five simple strategies for managing your Presentation Anxiety. Read More »

Time to Make-over Your VM Greeting

I’m getting  really tired of ranting about this issue in ‘Communicate ‘Confidently!’. Unfortunately, the problem still exists and I wonder if I’m the only communicator who cares. So, here I go again … and don’t try to stop me.

Talk about making a good first impression! Often, the first exposure your customers, prospects and colleagues have of you and your business is what they hear in your voice mail greeting. Is it caller-centric, clear, focused, helpful, lively and professional? When was the last time you listened to it?

If you’re not sure, call in and hear what they hear. If you like what it says about your business values, style and personality… fine. Leave it alone. If not, it might be time for a make-over. Read More »

Mastering Holiday Event Small Talk

(With many business groups holding holiday parties or events this month, it made sense to re-run this piece on small talk – timing is everything. Best wishes for successful schmoozing!

A reader recently asked about using small talk at networking events or meetings. My simple response – just say ‘NO’ to small talk. It doesn’t help you that much. Go for ‘Big Talk’ instead. The rest of my rant … Read More »

Surviving Q & A

As workplace presenters, you have two basic strategies for handling audience questions – holding them until the end or handling them anytime. Both approaches work, but each has some disadvantages. 

There also are two hybrid strategies that involve the best features of both approaches. So, here’s how you can easily survive Q&A and even enjoy the process. Read More »

Five Simple Phone Tactics to Overhaul Your Image

Most small businesses facing the challenge of improving their image in the marketplace are starring at major investments of time and money. Properly planned and launched, those investments can earn significant positive results.

But what about the rest of us with similar needs but no deep pockets to pull all that off? Are we doomed to endure the mediocre or amateurish image we’ve created by what we’ve done or not done since we started our businesses? Read More »