Making a Good Impression

Making a Good Impression

When delivering an important message, a leader can follow a simple checklist for creating the right impression with the audience. Once the basic content and structure of the message is decided, shifting focus toward creating the right impression is a big part of ensuring that the message is well received and leads to prompt action. The following are three elements that you can add to your own checklist: channel, tone and observable behaviours. 1. Choose the right channel Leaders have an understandable tendency to use email to communicate some of their most important messages. The reasons are obvious – instant circulation, immediate impact and consistency across recipients. But that may not be enough when you have to communicate something really significant. Before you deliver a crucial message to your team, ask yourself whether the idea is to inform, engage or persuade. Which method is the audience likely to prefer? Email and other electronic tools make it faster to share information (inform). However, if you need to impress your team as a leader, it is best to communicate in person and follow up, if necessary, with something in writing (engage / persuade). In a large organisation, where face-to-face meeting with every employee is not possible, you could consider a webcast as an option. They are easy to arrange, cost-effective and more personal than email messages. 2. Choose the right tone To strike the right tone when communicating, every leader has to walk a fine line. At one end of the spectrum, you risk sounding too “macro”, falsely optimistic or too assertive. At the other, you can come across as obsessed...
Using Assertion to Influence Others

Using Assertion to Influence Others

The best way to influence others is to put yourself in their shoes. In our last post, we covered the persuasion cycle, which helps you to outline the statement, value and evidence for adopting your recommendation. In an ideal world the other person should be able to understand when a solution that is in their best interests, but that is not always the case. If the other person is having a hard time responding to you best use of evidence, emotion and rational appeals you may want to try being assertive. This is the concept of saying “do this” constructively, while maintaining a positive and friendly tone. After all, if your aim is to continue working with the other person, you do not want to jeopardise your relationship. The key difference between persuasion and assertion is the use of time, tension and ownership. Assertion is a six-step process: 1. Define and own the problem This is a crucial first step. Do not proceed unless you have clearly defined and assigned “ownership” of the problem. This eliminates the likelihood of people later denying there is a problem, stonewalling or getting side-tracked. It does not matter if you own the problem or the responsibility is jointly shared, but it must be stated up front. For example, if the company is not serving clients to the best of its ability, admit that this is a problem. Once that has been done, it is time to focus on the solution. 2. Identify a solution This can be done unilaterally, such as by suggesting that the sales team needs to have more face-to-face contact...
Using Persuasion to Influence Others

Using Persuasion to Influence Others

Why do we sometimes fail in our efforts to influence the other person? It may be because we are not focusing our attention on the right thing. The natural tendency is to look at every situation from our own point of view. We consider first the ways we need help, believe our own recommendations are best and set agendas that cater to our personal priorities. In other words, when dealing with other people we are usually thinking: “What’s in it for me?” When two people approach a conversation with this same mindset, it is not surprising that the chances of reaching agreement diminish. To get someone to accept your advice or opinions, you need to put yourself in their shoes. In doing this, you must speak their language and talk about the values or potential benefits that will mean the most to them. For example, if you want a colleague to back a new strategy for client contacts, it would be better not to focus on what it means to you. Instead, concentrate on how the proposed strategy will help your colleague and the rest of the team. You might start by saying you need their support, and then point out how the reorganisation will create more opportunities to cross-sell and that other companies have been able to increase revenue by 15 percent using a similar process. The Persuasive Cycle: Statement, Impact and Evidence This approach uses a “persuasive cycle”, which should contain three main parts. The first is the “statement”, which outlines in your own terms the main idea, recommendation or initiative. In the case above, it is...
Structuring the Meeting

Structuring the Meeting

All of us have attended team meetings that turn out to be a waste of time and money. This happens even when considerable effort has been made to organise things and fix an agenda. The goals may be lofty – redefining human resources policies, brainstorming about a marketing plan or reviewing budgets and forecasts – and getting people together may seem the best way forward. However, many business meetings are unable to achieve any results and even end up creating more problems than they solve. A lot of this has to do with how the meeting is structured and managed. When planning, it’s important to go beyond agenda setting, and depending on the circumstances, the process can take anything from a few minutes to a few months. Here are 9 recognised steps for making meetings more effective:   9 Key Steps Audience analysis – understand who will be present and who is critical to the meeting’s success. Set an objective – be sure about the desired outcome. Research – understand the issues to be discussed, decided, solved and acted upon. Create a structure – establish the agenda and the order of tackling issues in the time available. Get attention – start the meeting by focusing attention and explaining the relevance of the meeting. Follow guidelines – conduct and control the meeting so as to keep things on track. Summarise and confirm – make sure everyone understands the outcome and what they are supposed to deliver. Document and distribute results – ensure other interested parties know about the key decisions. Review the process – after the meeting, ask yourself what...

Make Your Message Compelling

As a leader, you are responsible for giving a clear direction to your team, department or company. One of the key skills for a leader is to align people and get them working towards common goals. This is done by combining two essential facets of leadership: communicating a clear and compelling message about corporate goals and exemplifying the company’s values in one’s own words and deeds. The best leaders realise that this helps them inspire and energise employees to achieve a higher level of performance. It also makes it easier to implement change and increase the overall competitiveness of an organisation. Delivering the Message Too often, leaders assume that calling for a meeting and making a statement is all that is needed to get the message across. They forget good employees are paid to think, and are not inclined to follow instructions blindly. Do not fall into the trap of expecting subordinates to respond as robots. Make sure your comments are compelling – on both a rational and emotional level. Talk about results and benefits. Be specific at all times because employees rarely pay attention to generalities. Also, if you think the audience might overlook certain crucial points, highlight the relevance of such points. That is a part of your job. Even a leader should be prepared to substantiate an argument. Seniority does not automatically allow you to speak with unquestioned authority, so you need relevant facts and figures to prove any point. You can also use stories, case studies, visual aids or anecdotal evidence. Since people tend to be sceptical, especially when faced with impending change, there is...

Give Your Message Context

Have you ever left a meeting where you discussed a new strategy or restructuring issue and thought, “That was nice, but where do I fit in?” It happens often and demonstrates why a leader’s communication can miss its mark. The problem is that the communicator is focusing on what management wants and not on what the audience needs. If individuals do not have their questions answered, they have little reason to take goal-oriented action. As a leader, the first thing you should do is create a context for your message. Start by giving people a reason to listen and make sure they identify with it. Everyone should understand why it is important for them and what they will get out of it. Once you have engaged their personal interest, move on to the intellectual reason or business rationale for what you have to say. Many leaders make the mistake of starting with the rationale, launching into details about market changes and the need to increase revenue. This will not win over an audience. Next go on to the “how” part, detailing the process and action points that the team must now implement. Finally, cover the expected outcome, showing what the future holds and how the team assesses its rate of progress. By focusing on the “why”, “what”, “how”, and the “outcome”, and by explaining their relevance, you will establish a personal connection with the audience. Any talk at the water cooler or in the lift will be about what you said rather than about what you did not...