Category Archives: Articles

Why I Hate “Work/Life Balance”

This month’s rant is about a cliché we all hear and many of us use – ‘Work/Life Balance’. I understand and love the concept …  but I hate the words used. So please, humor this incurable wordsmith a little.

The connotation implies that ‘life’ is the opposite of ‘work’ and must be balanced with it. Conversely, ‘work’ is the opposite of ‘life’.

There’s also the negative inference that work and life are somehow not connected or inter-related and that ‘work’ must be bad because it’s the opposite of ‘life’, which is a good thing.

No question about the importance of having enough time and energy to enjoy a life outside of the workplace. I’d just like better and more accurate words. While ‘work/personal life balance’ is a little better, it does suggest individual over family and is clunky. ‘Home life’ is also a little better, but doesn’t suggest travel, recreation or a social life.

So, here’s a solution to this semantic problem that I can easily live with. Wait for it … ‘Work/Non-Work Balance’. It’s clear and logical.  You’re either at work or not at work. The two sides of the equation are implied to be relatively equal and neither term is negative or judgmental.

I do hope you learn to love ‘Work/Non-Work Balance’ as much as I do.  Don’t thank me, it’s what we wordsmiths do.

Concise Beats Wordy

As business leaders, we spend a lot of time each day writing and talking. We should all add the title ‘Workplace Communicator’ to our business cards. And we often write or say more than we need. Those extra – and unnecessary – words can even get in the way of our focused and clear messages. 

What follows is a quick review of techniques to KISS  Wordy Goodbye – for making every word count and counting every word. And, to help you ‘Keep It Short & Simple!’ Read More »

Help … I Suck at Communicating

A prospect recently reached out looking for help. He said he sucked at communicating at work and desperately wanted to change that. So, here’s a summary of our conversation and Action Plan strategy that might help if you think you also suck at workplace communication.

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Communicate Corporate Culture Clearly

As hard to do is it is to say three times real fast. So, let’s simplify the process for entrepreneurs who need to communicate the culture of their organization to prospective employees. Break it down into smaller chunks. Read More »

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 »