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How to create a memorable presentation? 

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Presentation, even to fellow colleague can be nerve wrecking. Therefore, in addition to all the practice and rehearsal of the presentation, which we must do, here are some tips on how to make the presentation much more memorable. It’s all about the content.

While they’re not the star of a presentation – you are – slides are there to give you visual aid and help your audience retain key points of your story.

With that in mind, here are some of our tips to make them truly useful:

  • Less text. Keep it to a maximum of 2-3 lines per paragraph. Use a generous amount of white space.
  • Pick the right font and colors. Make sure your content is easy to read, even from a distance and pick colors that are a match to your message and audience.
  • More visuals. Visual elements boost knowledge retention and are powerful ways to inform your audience. Try to use high-res images only.
  • One key idea per slide. Don’t clutter slides with several different takeaways. Make each slide simple and captivating.
  • Tell a story. The order in which you present things is important: if you can arrange your message in a dramatic arc, even better!
  • Make it personal. Make it your story, your presentation and inject little comments and remarks that allows you truly engage with your audience.
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Tips on preparing a financial plan for a business plan

  • Do the number crunching yourself.  Even if you are not skilled at finances and have expert advice, take the time to build an income statement and balance sheet. You’ll learn a lot about your business in the process. It is relatively easiest part of the this process. You can learn on this through online sources such as bookboon or by YouTube. Come to think about this, a lot of this I do learnt through YouTube.
  • Document your assumptions and the sources for your numbers whether they are economic forecasts, industry statistics, or your own rational guesses. Also as best as possible try to stress test your assumptions and number. How to do this stress-testing? Well maybe I’ll describe in detailed in future post.
  • Pay close attention to cash planning. Although most people think of profits first, cash flow can be more important for a startup venture.

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How to develop a business case?

Below are the simple steps on how to develop a business case –

(1) Define the opportunity. Describe the situation and the business objectives your proposal will impact.

Defining opportunity can be done in the following steps.

Identifying the problem

The first step in building a business case is identifying the problem you want to solve or the opportunity you want to seize.

The first step in building a business case is identifying the problem you want to solve or the opportunity you want to seize. Even if your boss develops an idea and asks you to build the case for it, you still need a solid understanding of the issue in order to prepare a solid business case.

Craft an opportunity statement

Once you identify the problem or opportunity, develop a statement that describes the benefits that will be realized by solving the problem or seizing the opportunity, this is called the opportunity statement. In other words, try to answer the question: “How will my group, unit, or organization benefit from spending resources to address this issue?”

Therefore, it is important to remember that when drafting your statement, address the situation as an opportunity rather than a problem. Also avoid the common mistake of defining the opportunity by describing your preferred solution.

Identify relevant business objectives

Once you’ve written your opportunity statement, identify the business objectives your opportunity supports. Try to go beyond the obvious financial gains such as cost savings or increased sales, consider how seizing the opportunity you’ve defined will enable your organization to achieve other important goals, such as better employee turn-over or better customer satisfaction, etc.

To find out what your organization considers important, examine the key business metrics it tracks and reports such as revenues, costs, employee morale, customer loyalty, environmental responsibility, and so forth.

Even if some of your organization’s key objectives are difficult to measure in dollar terms for example, improved employee satisfaction, don’t shy away from considering them. Your final list should include all the key objectives that could be relevant for your proposal.

(1) Prioritize objectives

To determine which objectives to prioritize, consider whose support you would need and who would be affected if your ideas were put into action. Investigate what business results are most important to these stakeholders. Depending on the scope of your initiative, you may need senior leadership’s approval. If so, you’ll need to align your case with their strategic priorities.

(2) Assign metrics

The next step is to identify metrics for each of the objectives you’ve defined. Once you’ve determined your alternatives, you’ll use these metrics to measure the impact of each alternative on your selected business objectives.

You can identify many potential metrics for any single business objective. In addition to the financial and nonfinancial metrics described above, consider metrics based on:

  • Time
  • Quality
  • Work habits
  • Employee development

(2) Explore options. Brainstorm multiple approaches and choose three or four to analyze.

When building a business case, it is critical to brainstorm a set of alternatives rather than latching on to the first one or two good ideas you consider.

Among the pitfalls which prevent you from developing a complete list of alternatives usually include –

  • Having a limiting mindset, such as believing that “consultants should never be used” or that “consultants should always be used”
  • Having a strong preference for a particular solution at the outset of the process and therefore failing to explore additional possibilities. Therefore, it almost never a good idea to fall in love with your own idea.
  • Failing to consider the status quo (the current condition) as an alternative. This is a reality check to ensure that the proposal is not actually making thing worse. At time, sometimes the best option is actually to do nothing

(1) Assemble a core team

Remember that you cannot build a wholesome business case alone. You need the opinions, viewpoints, and knowledge of people across your organization and maybe beyond to create a solid case.

Therefore in order to ensure that you have a comprehensive view of your business case, assemble a cross-functional team. This team should include:

  • A finance representative. A finance professional can help you establish current costs and benefits and make accurate projections. Forecasting on your own can lead to incorrect assumptions about important factors like industry dynamics, ROI calculations, and personnel costs.
  • Include a stakeholder from each group that would be affected if your business case were realized. If you’re proposing a product fix, engineering may be your primary internal stakeholder. But be sure to include others, like salespeople, who may benefit from your idea.
  • Customer-interface team members. If the proposed solution affects customers, consult with team members who have deep knowledge of customer concerns or at minimum, employees who can ask customers about their concerns. This person may be an account manager, a customer service representative, or a marketing person who conducts customer surveys.
  • External experts. If your organization doesn’t have in-house expertise, ask outside experts for recommendations.

Once you know what types of team members you need, choose individuals with whom you already work well. Target individuals who you expect will be generous with their time and information. However, in order to maximize efficiency, keep the core group to no more than six people, if possible. Small, focused teams tend to work out solutions more efficiently than larger groups.

(2) Hold a brainstorming session

Once you’ve selected your team, bring team members together to brainstorm possible alternatives.

In order to hold a productive brainstorming session, you need to

  • Look outward for solutions. Encourage team members to look beyond their own units to consider how other parts of the organization have met similar needs. Also try investigate what other companies especially competitors have done as a benchmark.
  • Avoid constraints. Let your team “think out loud.” Limit the flow of ideas only once the team develops a comprehensive list of options.
  • Think broadly. The focus of the brainstorming session is to come up with a high-level solution to recommend. Don’t get caught up in details. Once you’ve narrowed your options, you can gather specifics. Just let the ideas flow at first.
  • Keep your options open. Often a popular idea is presented at the very beginning of your session. Try not to fixate on that idea, even if it was a suggested by your most senior stakeholder or has been adopted by industry leaders. To conduct a thorough analysis, you need to consider a wide range of options.

(3) Consider the status quo

A solid business case predicts what will happen if you take a specific action. But you also need to consider the consequences (or relative benefits) of doing nothing. When developing a business case, always include a “do-nothing” option to demonstrate the business need for taking action.

Sometimes doing nothing is a viable or the best option. If the costs of doing nothing aren’t high, stakeholders may choose to maintain the status quo rather than invest in change especially when the ROI are marginal.

(4) Meet with Other Stakeholders

After generating a list of alternatives with your core team, meet informally with additional stakeholders to get new insights into the possibilities you’ve generated so far. They will likely ask questions and raise issues you may not have considered.

Additionally, by engaging with stakeholders at this stage of process, you are more likely to gain their support when you need it while instilling a sense of ownership of the idea in them.

Your goal in these meetings is not to present the business case but simply to discuss it. Therefore, in this meeting try to uncover:

  • The opportunities and issues most important to them
  • What are their strategic priorities
  • What they care about
  • How will they benefit from your idea?

Also consider talking with trusted advisers and mentors in your network. Ask them to identify any gaps. It’s better to get input on your plan’s shortcomings now than have them pointed out later in the process.

Revise your case based on the input you receive.

(5) Narrow your choices

Once you receive input from stakeholders, narrow your list of alternatives to the two or three options for further consideration and analysis. In addition to the status quo that best address your business objectives and key stakeholders’ needs.

Strategies for narrowing your choices could include –

  • Combine alternatives that could reasonably be implemented together.
  • Eliminate elaborate, high-risk options or low-return options.
  • Favor the easy-to-implement solution over the complex and difficult.

Don’t spend much time on this step. Trust your intuition about which choices seem the most feasible and are most likely to meet objectives. At this stage, rely more on your experience and professional judgment than analysis of each alternative.

(6) Set a time frame

Once data and input gathering are completed, estimate a time frame for implementing each of your proposed alternatives. Also consider how long it will be until the project delivers its estimated benefits which could typically be a year or more.

To set a time frame, ask questions like:

  • When would the initiative get under way?
  • Would it be phased in over the course of one year? three years? more?
  • Would it be synchronized with calendar years, fiscal years, or other initiatives?
  • Would all benefits be generated by a defined end point?
  • Proposing a time frame requires a lot of estimating.

(7) Document everything

When you make estimates, document your sources and assumptions. Use project management software, if possible, so you can communicate your reasoning to others with minimal effort.

Recording your estimates and assumptions also helps you evaluate information you gather later in the process. When you document electronically, you can easily compare new information against your original analysis, and make necessary changes.

In any circumstances, also remember to record and documents the lessons learnt during this phase.

(3) Analyze alternatives. Examine how your options will affect the business objectives and choose one to move forward with.

STEPS IN ANALYZING THE ALTERNATIVES

Step 1: Identify costs

Start by identifying all the costs associated with each alternative, including up-front costs and those you expect in the future. Think beyond the obvious financial costs such as purchasing equipment or paying salaries. Consider the business objectives you chose to evaluate and how each alternative will impact them. For example, will the alternative impact employee turnover? How can you quantify it?

Step 2: List the benefits

Identify the benefits you anticipate resulting from each alternative and describe how these benefits could impact revenues. For example, can you demonstrate the correlation between improved customer satisfaction and an increase in sales? Additional revenues might come from gaining new customers or from increased purchases from existing customers. Consider any costs associated with obtaining these revenues and add them to the cost list you identified in step 1.

Step 3: Determine cost savings

Describe how implementing each alternative could save your organization money. Cost savings can be difficult to recognize because they result from many sources. Will fewer people be required to do a job because of your project? Will your project reduce the time it takes to complete a task, therefore allowing for more work to be completed or more products to be manufactured?

Step 4: Estimate cost and revenue timing

Estimate when you expect to realize the costs, benefits, and cost savings for each of your alternatives. Remember that costs and revenue increases will probably occur incrementally. Completing this step now will help you create a more accurate implementation plan later.

Step 5: Determine un-quantifiable benefits

Most business cases aren’t built on numbers alone. Depending on the business objectives you chose for your analyses, you will likely have qualitative factors to consider.

For example, describe factors like:

  • How well each alternative fits with your organization’s mission
  • How a particular action could trigger an increase in community goodwill
  • Your organization’s ability to take on the new opportunity without losing focus
  • Your likelihood of success given market conditions

Step 6: Conduct financial analyses

Once you have a list of costs and benefits for each alternative and have quantified as many factors as possible, start your financial analysis. Depending on the metrics you have chosen, consider calculating the return on investment (ROI), payback period, or net present value (NPV).

You might also consider conducting a break-even analysis and determine the time when each alternative begins to be profitable. If you don’t feel comfortable doing such analyses yourself, ask someone in the finance department or a knowledgeable peer for help. During this financial analysis stage, please do not sugar-coat the figure.

SELECTING THE BEST OPTION

Once you’ve compared your alternatives, select the best possible solution and justify your choice.

Some companies track how various metrics affect their overall financial performance, such as how customer satisfaction influences sales. If your company has this information and you can attach dollar figures to your metrics, your selection process may be as simple as adding up all the numbers and making a comparison.

In most cases, however, you won’t have this information. So you’ll need to come up with a strategy for making your choice. Rely on your intuition, best judgment, and input from others. Document your rationale and assumptions so you can explain it later.

(4) Assess risk. Evaluate how you will mitigate risks associated with your recommendation.

WEIGH THE RISKS

Once you select an option, identify its potential risks or downside related to the options:

  • The implementation of your idea. Do you have the right people to accomplish the necessary tasks? Can you meet the schedule with your resources? What would happen to the organization if you can’t meet your goals and timelines?
  • Your peers and organization. What would happen to your peers and the organization if you don’t achieve your desired financial goals?
  • What are the possible career consequences if your alternative fails? Depending on the size of the project and the amount of resources you need, your performance rating might be affected, you could lose credibility, or you could even be let go. This could include worst-case scenario simulation.

CONDUCTING SENSITIVITY ANALYSIS

Every business case includes variables. Complete a sensitivity analysis to assess your organization’s tolerance for risk (as well as your own). Ask a colleague in the finance department to help you analyze what would happen if you changed any of your assumptions or estimates.

A simple way to conduct a sensitivity analysis is to describe a worst-case and best-case scenario. Share both scenarios in your business case. Make all the involved partie

STRATEGIES TO MITIGATE THE RISKS

Consider how to mitigate the risks you identified. For example, could you use a pilot to test your assumptions before launching a full-scale implementation? Also, determine how much control you have over the risks associated with your alternatives. Make sure there is a plan on how to manage the identified risk and how to minimize the risk.

REVISIT YOUR PROPOSAL

Revisit your original proposal and determine the outcome’s desirability. Think about how likely the stated outcome is to occur, considering both the number of risks you identified and your or the organization ability to control them. In light of these factors, you might find that another alternative or combination of alternatives is actually the most desirable. Therefore, be flexible enough to change your proposal if required.

Any alternative that requires an increase in headcount or budget dollars is inherently risky because your request for additional resources could be denied. Prepare another option, even if it seems less appealing. Clearly define the negative impact and missed opportunities that would result if resources are not allocated toward your project.

(5) Create an implementation plan. Identify, at a high level, how you will achieve your goals and who will be accountable for each milestone.

DEMONSTRATE FEASIBILITY

Your implementation plan should lays out your process for tracking your progress and measuring the success of your proposed solution.

Most people think of implementation plans as lists of action items, due dates, and the people responsible for them. While decision makers reading your business case will want to know this information, they’ll also want to know about the ~

  • The primary milestones
  • The individuals responsible or accountable for each milestone
  • The resources required to reach each milestone
  • Dates when the company will see the benefits of your recommended course of action
  • Impacts on the company’s expense and human resources budgets
  • Increases in revenue
  • Your plan for demonstrating that the solution’s intended results have been realized

DETERMINE YOUR MILESTONES

To draft your implementation plan, list your high-level milestones which is the major steps needed to carry out your solution.

When listing your milestones, remember to

  • Keep it simple. Avoid details of how you will accomplish each milestone.
  • Include notes describing how you plan to address risks you identified earlier.
  • Adopt a phased approach. If there are definable phases to the project, list your milestones by phase.

COMMUNICATE WITH DECISION MAKERS

When you present your milestones to decision makers, please

  • Anticipate negotiations about the time frame. Expect that they will want the project done sooner than your estimated delivery date.
  • Be prepared with a backup plan. Describe an alternative scenario in which phases are completed more quickly. If this is not feasible, develop an argument that shows why accelerating the project implementation would be too risky and wouldn’t achieve the intended results.

Depending on the size of your proposal, consider establishing checkpoints with decision makers at the end of each phase to assess progress toward your stated goals.

IDENTIFY NECESSARY RESOURCES

Think about each phase of your project. Which resources will you need to accomplish each one? Show any movement of budget dollars and headcount in your implementation plan, or decision makers may assume you will fund the initiative from your current budget.

CLARIFY RESPONSIBILITIES

Many implementations are unsuccessful because leaders don’t assign accountability for milestones or fail to gain commitment from the necessary individuals.

In your implementation plan, name the individuals (specific) who will do each phase of the work. Also indicate who will be responsible for ensuring that each phase of the project realizes its intended results in terms of costs, revenues, benefits, and deliverables. More than one person may share this responsibility.

Decision makers will also want to know what burdens they’ll have to shoulder to ensure your proposal’s success.

ESTIMATE PAYOFF DATES

Decision makers reviewing your business case want to know when they can expect your solution to generate the promised benefits. To answer this question, examine your data and identify the results you expect to see during implementation of your idea.

In estimating payoff dates, remember to plan for a gap between when results occur and when they are officially recorded. Though your plan might generate the expected results during the expected period, those results may not get recorded in your company’s performance management system until the next period.

TRACK RESULTS

If your recommended course of action is approved, your organization will ask you to report on the project’s successes and shortfalls regularly. By keeping track of estimated due dates versus actual delivery dates, as well as estimated benefits versus actual benefits, you generate the data you’ll need to garner support for your project through each milestone.

Whether your results prove better or worse than your expectations, identify the causes behind any major deviation from your business case proposal. By understanding what worked and what didn’t, you can learn what to do differently or what successful practices to continue in the future.

(6) Present your case. Create a document, a presentation, or both, to sell your recommendation to decision makers.

UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCE

When presenting your case, deliver a short, focused sales pitch, and not a lengthy lecture even if your written business case contains rich detail.

Ensure that your presentation is specifically targeted to the people who will decide on your proposal’s outcome (key decision makers). Before you present your case to decision makers, make sure to be clear about:

  • What you want them to do. What do you want from each person in your audience? Do you want that person to approve resources?  Persuade others to support your proposal? Clearly state your need.
  • What they value or care about. Do they care about ROI? Customer satisfaction? Some other measurement of business performance? You identified your stakeholders’ business objectives early in the process of building your business case. Now tailor your pitch to highlight the expected results and metrics that are most important to decision makers in the room.
  • What they stand to gain. Explain how your audience will benefit if your idea is implemented.
  • Their level of risk tolerance. Demonstrate that you’ve considered the risks inherent in your proposed course of action, and explain your plan for mitigating them.
  • How they like to receive information. What does your audience or your company require for written business cases in terms of format and level of detail? Do they want cases summarized in three slides or in a two-page, single-spaced document? Will they require a copy of your case before meeting with you to hear your presentation?

BE A SAVVY PRESENTER

Decision makers in your audience will likely have different agendas. Some will focus on ROI, while others will scrutinize your risk assessment. Regardless of their preferences, use proven strategies to keep decision makers engaged throughout your presentation.

Be succinct

Review each slide, providing only information that supports the major points of your business case. But be wary of the common trap of simply reading your slides to the audience. Make sure that only one key idea are presented per slide.

While reviewing the proposed solution, explain other alternatives that were considered but dropped. Briefly discuss these alternatives and move on. Don’t go deep into details yet. Mention risks only at a high level. Avoid the common trap of elaborating too much in an attempt to head off doubts. Decision makers will request more information if necessary in which case you can speak directly to address their concerns.

Story telling

To keep your audience engaged in your business case, tell it like a story. Research shows that managers who have mastered narrative techniques are more likely to get and hold others’ attention, which will boost your chances of success.

Draw stakeholders into your presentation with vivid imagery. Consider your presentation as a journey: you are taking stakeholders to a new place to demonstrate how your idea can solve a real problem for your organization. If you transform your business case into a series of mental images, stakeholders will have an easier time connecting with your presentation and remembering it long afterward.

Bring your story to life further by inviting stakeholders in the audience to comment. You might say something like “Because the product hasn’t lived up to expectations, sales is having a hard time” and then ask someone in sales to describe what’s happening in the field. Or ask a finance person to comment on current shortfalls. Involving key stakeholders in your presentation helps build their commitment and allows them to showcase their support in front of their peers.

In order to build a compelling business case, you need to complete each step. However, the depth of analysis and extent of documentation necessary to support your case will vary depending on the initiative’s scope, costs, organizational impact, and risk.

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Simple Money Lessons From Tun Dr Mahathir

Here are some lessons you can learn from Dr Mahathir’s outlook on wealth, saving, and spending less from Ringgitplus.

From his RM12 Bata sandals to his preferred Pilot Ball Liner pen, Malaysia Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been lauded on social media for his seemingly austere manner of living. Some have questioned whether his frugal habits are all a façade, but Dr Mahathir has now addressed these questions in-depth in an interview with The Malay Mail.

As Dr Mahathir delivers some insight into matters of his personal wealth, here we can take a few notes from the 92-year-old Prime Minister’s financial lifestyle and views which of course would be of some benefits to those whom willing to learn.

Tip #1: Be frugal

The most basic way to stretch your income is to save. Dr Mahathir shared that he saved his pay the entire time he was in public office, and that was how he accumulated quite a lot of money over the decades. Here, the Malay peribahasa “sikit-sikit lama-lama menjadi bukit” comes to mind, and it’s a great adage to adopt if you want to maintain a healthy bank balance.

It also helps if you practice a modest lifestyle and a frugal mindset. “I don’t waste money or buy things that I don’t need,” said Dr Mahathir. “I am very careful about how I spend my money; I’m naturally like that.”

This lifestyle is exemplified with the first of several photos of Dr Mahathri that went viral online, where he was pictured in a Baju Melayu and a pair of Bata slippers. For such a powerful icon to be seen in such humble items of clothing, it was a classic show of contrasts to the previous prime minister – and one that endeared him to the rakyat (Malaysian).

(Image: Bata and Azran Shah via Business Insider)

Tip #2: Invest, but wisely

It is considered good financial sense to create some passive income through investments if you have the means. The Prime Minister revealed that he too has made some investments with Tabung Haji and unit trusts in Permodalan Nasional Berhad.

However, the nature of investments is that they entail some degree of risk. You should always be prepared to shoulder any losses should your investments go south, so make your decisions wisely. Diversifying your investments is also important, with a mix of investments that have varying levels of risk.

That way, you protect yourself from losing too much money should there be losses in your portfolio. Dr Mahathir himself confessed to investing in things that garnered no profit, and if you ask around you will find similar narratives by those who have made less-than-favourable investments.

Tip #3: Avoid debt where possible

Among all his tips, this is my favorite. Dr Mahathir was very adamant against the idea of being in debt and borrowing money. “Borrowing money is not my way. If I borrow, I feel a burden that I have to repay – I don’t want any burdens, so I don’t borrow.”

Most of us cannot be entirely debt-free – we either have student, car, or home loans to pay off in different stages in our lives (sometimes even all three at the same time!) But while debt may be unavoidable, making sure you don’t take on more debt than you can manage is very important. Take time to manage your finances and identify your commitments before taking the plunge on a car or a house.

(Image: Marina Mahathir)

Tip #4: Don’t be greedy

Sometimes, you may find yourself in a situation in which you stand to gain considerable profit by stepping outside the lines of integrity. Dr Mahathir shared that there were instances in which he found himself in this position when he was in office as Prime Minister previously.

“For example, I wanted to declare Langkawi a tax-free island,” he said. “I was the only one who knew. I could have bought a lot of land and then declared Langkawi tax-free. In those days, one relung of land, which is about less than half an acre, would only cost RM200. Now the price, as you know, is about RM5 million per acre. I could have been rich. But I didn’t do that.”

Tip #5: Know the power of compounding effect

Living a humble lifestyle and being prudent with savings leads to surprisingly positive outcomes in the long run. By having a habit of consistently saving a portion of your salary every month, the compounding effect of the interest you earn can be as good as a stable, low-risk investment in the long run. When it comes to earning money, it’s always a marathon, not a sprint.

“I didn’t think about enriching myself because I find that I am already rich,” said Dr Mahathir. As the Prime Minister’s housing, living expenses, and transportation were provided for while he was in office, he did not have to pay much and so saved all his money. As such, with his income and moderate lifestyle, he managed to snowball his savings over the decades.

Final Words

Tun Dr Mahathir’s lifestyle is a classic example of a humble lifestyle. Despite moving through the ranks in the country’s political hierarchy, Dr Mahathir’s lifestyle barely changed despite the massive strides ahead in spending power. For the young rakyat chasing the luxuries of life, Dr Mahathir’s moderate ways is a great reminder that sometimes, less is indeed more.

Source: ringgitplus

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Tips for dealing with difficult team members

Difficult team members can prevent your team from doing its best work. Here are some tips for dealing with team members whose behavior stands in the way of successful collaboration.

Below are some suggestion relative to the type of difficult team member that you might experience:

  1. The show-off type. Offer a compliment, then switch focus to another team member. “Jeff, that really worked well for you;” (switch) “What have you found to be successful, Dan?”
  2. The overly helpful person type. Make sure to praise them for their contributions, then ask someone else to take a turn. “Sofia, thank you for your great work on that spreadsheet. Janet, can you share your findings?”
  3. The negative commenter type. Deter this behavior by challenging them to come up with a positive alternative. “Nick, you’ve made it very clear that you don’t agree with the decision. Can you offer an alternative?” Make them understand that if you are not part of the solution, don’t be part of the problem.
  4. The person who won’t let go type. To avoid going down a road that has little value, be assertive. Take the blame and redirect the conversation in order to move on. “I’m sorry, Jack. I must have defined that issue poorly. What we’re really talking about here is…”

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Tips for a better Web conference

Most organization prefer web conference more than physical meeting in an effort to reduce operational cost while maintaining and achieving the desired result. In addition, current technology would offer such solution at remarkably affordable price.

  • Provide multiple ways for people to connect to a meeting, such as office phone, computer, and various mobile devices. But make sure to handle the echo well.

  • Make sure team members know how to contact a technical support person for prompt assistance in case they experience technical difficulties.
  • Take charge. Make your agenda specific and stay on schedule. Keep participants engaged with frequent questions.
  • Establish meeting etiquette. For instance, ask people to say who they are each time they talk or say “I’m finished” when they’ve completed speaking, so participants don’t talk over one another.
  • Increase participation by using remote conference technologies that provide virtual meeting rooms for small group discussions.

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Email Etiquette and “AAAA”

  • Be clear

    • Limit to one topic per email. Send a separate email for each topic. That makes it easier for recipients to respond and file or delete the message.
    • Use the subject line wisely. Use the subject line to make a clear statement or specific request. This helps your message stand out in a recipient’s crowded inbox.
    • Structured your email in the order of priority. Put the most important content at the beginning. Recipients don’t always scroll down to the end.

 

  • Be efficient
    • Make it brief. Make your email brief, focused, and specific. Deliver the most information in the least space.
    • No more than 3-4 lines. Keep paragraphs no longer than three or four lines. Attach files if you need to send something longer or you need to use headings, bullets, tables, graphics, and other formats.
    • Update & recheck CC-list. Don’t overdo or underdo copying. Copy only people who have a need to stay in the know. But do copy everyone who needs the information.

 

  • Be professional
    • Don’t write angrily. Never write email when your emotions are out of control. Anger and sarcasm often come across more strongly in text than they would in a face-to-face communication. An email is a permanent record that can come back to haunt you.
    • Don’t use all CAPITAL letter and red fonts. Avoid using all capital letters. That looks like you’re shouting. And also please avoid using red colored fonts.
    • Email is not a meme. Avoid using inappropriate humor.

 

Always review your message before pressing Send. Think “AAAA”: Be sure your message contains (1) the correct address, (2) the correct attached files, (3) a suitable attitude and tone, and (4) a statement of the action you want the recipient to take.

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How to train employees to have difficult conversation

This is one of the best Ted Talk I found which discuss on the importance of training employees on how to have and deal with difficult interactions.

 


The Speech Transcript

We live in a world where the collection of data is happening 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This data is usually collected by what we call a front-desk specialist now. These are the retail clerks at your favorite department stores, the cashiers at the grocery stores, the registration specialists at the hospital and even the person that sold you your last movie ticket. They ask discreet questions, like: “May I please have your zip code?” Or, “Would you like to use your savings card today?” All of which gives us data. However, the conversation becomes a little bit more complexwhen the more difficult questions need to be asked.

Let me tell you a story, see. Once upon a time, there was a woman named Miss Margaret. Miss Margaret had been a front-desk specialist for almost 20 years. And in all that time, she has never, and I do mean never, had to ask a patient their gender, race or ethnicity. Because, see, now Miss Margaret has the ability to just look at you. Uh-huh. And she can tell if you are a boy or a girl, black or white, American or non-American. And in her mind, those were the only categories.

So imagine that grave day, when her sassy supervisor invited her to this “change everything” meetingand told her that would have to ask each and every last one of her patients to self-identify. She gave her six genders, eight races and over 100 ethnicities.

Well, now, Miss Margaret was appalled. I mean, highly offended. So much so that she marched down to that human-resource department to see if she was eligible for an early retirement. And she ended her rant by saying that her sassy supervisor invited her to this “change everything” meeting and didn’t, didn’t, even, even bring, bring food, food, food, food.

You know you’ve got to bring food to these meetings.

Anyway.

Now, that was an example of a healthcare setting, but of course, all businesses collect some form of data. True story: I was going to wire some money. And the customer service representative asked meif I was born in the United States. Now, I hesitated to answer her question, and before she even realized why I hesitated, she began to throw the company she worked for under the bus. She said, “Girl, I know it’s stupid, but they makin’ us ask this question.”

Because of the way she presented it to me, I was like, “Girl, why? Why they makin’ you ask this question? Is they deportin’ people?”

But then I had to turn on the other side of me, the more professional speaker-poet side of me. The one that understood that there were little Miss Margarets all over the place. People who were good people, maybe even good employees, but lacked the ability to ask their questions properly and unfortunately, that made her look bad, but the worst, that made the business look even worse than how she was looking. Because she had no idea who I was. I mean, I literally could have been a woman who was scheduled to do a TED Talk and would use her as an example. Imagine that.

And unfortunately, what happens is people would decline to answer the questions, because they feel like you would use the information to discriminate against them, all because of how you presented the information. And at that point, we get bad data. And everybody knows what bad data does. Bad data costs you time, it costs you money and it costs you resources.

Unfortunately, when you have bad data, it also costs you a lot more, because we have health disparities, and we have social determinants of health, and we have the infant mortality, all of which depends on the data that we collect, and if we have bad data, than we have those issues still. And we have underprivileged populations that remain unfortunate and underprivileged, because the data that we’re using is either outdated, or is not good at all or we don’t have anything at all.

Now, wouldn’t it be amazing if people like Miss Margaret and the customer-service representative at the wiring place were graced to collect data with compassionate care? Can I explain to you what I mean by “graced?” I wrote an acrostic poem.

G: Getting the front desk specialist involved and letting them know

R: the Relevance of their role as they become

A: Accountable for the accuracy of data while implementing

C: Compassionate care within all encounters by becoming

E: Equipped with the education needed to inform people of why data collection is so important.

Now, I’m an artist. And so what happens with me is that when I create something artistically, the trainer in me is awakened as well. So what I did was, I began to develop that acrostic poem into a full training entitled “I’m G.R.A.C.E.D.” Because I remember, being the front-desk specialist, and when I went to the office of equity to start working, I was like, “Is that why they asked us to ask that question?” It all became a bright light to me, and I realized that I asked people and I told people about — I called them by the wrong gender, I called them by the wrong race, I called them by the wrong ethnicity, and the environment became hostile, people was offended and I was frustrated

I remember my computerized training, and unfortunately, that training did not prepare me to deescalate a situation. It did not prepare me to have teachable moments when I had questions about asking the questions. I would look at the computer and say, “So, what do I do when this happens?”And the computer would say … nothing, because a computer cannot talk back to you.

So that’s the importance of having someone there who was trained to teach you and tell you what you do in situations like that. So, when I created the “I’m G.R.A.C.E.D” training, I created it with that experience that I had in mind, but also that conviction that I had in mind. Because I wanted the instructional design of it to be a safe space for open dialogue for people. I wanted to talk about biases, the unconscious ones and the conscious ones, and what we do.

Because now I know that when you engage people in the why, it challenges their perspective, and it changes their attitudes. Now I know that data that we have at the front desk translates into research that eliminates disparities and finds cures. Now I know that teaching people transitional changeinstead of shocking them into change is always a better way of implementing change. See, now I know people are more likely to share information when they are treated with respect by knowledgeable staff members. Now I know that you don’t have to be a statistician to understand the power and the purpose of data, but you do have to treat people with respect and have compassionate care. Now I know that when you’ve been graced, it is your responsibility to empower somebody else. But most importantly, now I know that when teaching human beings to communicate with other human beings, it should be delivered by a human being.

So when y’all go to work and y’all schedule that “change everything” meeting –remember Miss Margaret. And don’t forget the food, the food, the food, the food.

Thank you.

Thank you.


 

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The persuasion triggers

Persuading others can be overwhelming especially when you might consider to remember a long list of techniques which might be helpful. However, I would suggest for you to consider using a select few “triggers,” or mental shortcuts, to streamline the process which I believe is much easier. Here is a list of 8 persuasion triggers which include — contrast, liking, relationship, reciprocity, social proof, commitment and consistency, authority, and scarcity. This persuasion triggers can make all the difference if properly, and ethically leveraged. Activate a mix of these triggers to help ensure the greatest chance of success in your next persuasion attempt.

(1) Contrast

When people make decisions, they often look for a benchmark on which to base their choice. This benchmark is usually used as an anchor for the basis of their decisions.

In order to activate the “contrast” trigger, create a benchmark to “anchor” the judgments of the person you need to persuade, preferable to a well-known or at least commonly known benchmark. Many salespeople do this by first showing the most expensive item in a product line. This makes a mid-priced item seem much more affordable. Maybe we will discuss this in greater details in future posts.

(2) Liking

People tend to accept the ideas of people they like, it is our natural favoritism. Liking arises when people feel esteemed by another person and when they share something in common with him or her. A manager might choose an inferior deal from a supplier’s representative over a better deal, just because he likes the first rep and they share a common interest in football.

To activate the “liking” trigger, create bonds or rapport with others by informally discovering common interests such as music, children, pets, or sports. Demonstrate your liking for others by paying genuine compliments and making positive statements about their ideas, solutions, abilities, and qualities. And your efforts to activate the “liking” trigger must be sincere. While insincerity is likely to undermine your persuasion efforts and drive people away. Nowadays, it seems easy to spot a fake person.

(3) Relationship

People are more likely to adopt a proposed idea if the individual advocating the idea is someone with whom they have a relationship, even if it’s just something in common and the person makes them aware of that relationship. In a study conducted on a college campus, charity solicitors more than doubled their success by preceding a donation request with these five words: “I’m a student here, too.”

To activate the “relationship” trigger, point out the length of your connection with the person you want to persuade. Note things like “We’ve been at this together for three years.” Identify shared interests, experiences, and goals. Sprinkle your messages with words like “we,” “our,” and “us.” Create an illustration of ‘us versus them’ mentality.

(4) Reciprocity

People feel a deep urge to repay favors in kind. To activate the “reciprocity” trigger, give before you ask for something. In considering what to give, look for solutions that meet other individuals’ interests and needs. Hence, it is reciprocity which lead to the expression “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch”.

(5) Social proof

People are more likely to follow another person’s lead if what that person is advocating is popular, standard practice, or part of a trend. Just look at the widespread use of celebrity endorsements in advertising.

To activate the “social proof” trigger, make a connection — yourself, your organization, your product to individuals and organizations admired by those you’re seeking to persuade.

(6) Commitment and consistency

People are more likely to embrace a proposal if they’ve committed to it through their own choice and have done so publicly; for example, by announcing it or in writing. Researchers noted that nine out of 10 residents of an apartment complex who signed a petition supporting a new recreation center later donated money to the cause.

To activate the “commitment and consistency” trigger, get others’ voluntary, public, and documented commitment.

(7) Authority

Many people are trained from childhood to automatically obey requests from or support the ideas of authority figures such as parents, doctors, and police. Authority comes from a combination of position and its associated credentials.

To activate the “authority” trigger, make sure the people you want to persuade are aware of the source of your authority.

(8) Scarcity

When something is in scarce supply  such as information, opportunities, resources will inevitably influence people to value it more. In one experiment, wholesale beef buyers were told that they were the only ones who had received information on an expected beef shortage. Their orders jumped 600%.

To activate the “scarcity” trigger, convince your listeners that they’re being offered something rare or something that at surface value appear rare.