ASTD's 2012 Annual Review of Workplace Learning and Development revealed the following statistics for 2011:
• $156.2 billion = U.S. spend
• $1,182 = spend per employee
• 30.5 hours = time per employee
How will you invest time and money on your employees?
At Sally Williamson & Associates, we know how to get the most out of corporate dollars and employee time.
With Your Money: Each workshop is customized to fit the common speaking situations of your group, and exercises are designed to give participants hands-on experience in situations that are common to their work environment. So, participants leave with concepts and tools that have been tested and applied to situations they will face right away.
With Their Time: SW&A workshops combine classroom techniques with one-on-one coaching so that each participant can adapt skills to his/her individual style. We use videotaping to raise awareness of existing habits and show the impact of new choices. Overall, our approach goes beyond learning new skills to changing individual behaviors.
Let us tailor your 2013 development programs to maximize your spend and leverage your employees' time.
Coaching could be the most important personal goal you set for yourself in 2013. Regardless of whether you are delivering presentations, leading meetings or mentoring individuals, your success depends on your ability to communicate effectively.
Take the Test:
1. Have you received objective feedback about your strengths and weaknesses as a communicator?
2. When you develop presentations, do you outline a message first or do you create visuals and then craft your message?
3. What do you consider to be the most important part of a presentation?
4. When you lead meetings, do you build consensus and ensure that each member of your team is heard?
5. When you give feedback, do you spend more time listening or talking?
1. Awareness is the real benefit of coaching. When you understand your unique strengths and weaknesses, you become much more aware of making choices that impact how an audience hears and sees you. Deliberate choices in personal style lead to a connection with the audience and buy-in to your message and supporting ideas.
2. The core message and main ideas should always be developed first. Many presenters pull visuals from other presentations and try to build a message around them. This is a mistake because when visuals come first, the presentation tends to be a series of individual thoughts rather than a central message supported by cohesive ideas.
3. An audience reacts to the presenter’s style and either engages or disengages quickly, so without a doubt, the most important part of a presentation is the first two minutes. During this time the presenter grads the audience’s attention with the opening, sets the direction with a key message and frames up the flow of the entire presentation.
4. SW&A polls show that employees rarely think meetings are run effectively. Leaders need to know how to facilitate discussion and reach consensus in meetings. In order to get results, meetings should be conducted in a discussion format that includes every attendee rather than a format that simply pushes information out.
5. Effective feedback sessions require an employee to take ownership for actions and next steps. Employees seldom make long-term changes based on direction; instead, they make changes when they have input toward the solution. As a general rule, managers should spend 40% of their time talking and 60% of their time listening to the employee during a feedback session.
At Sally Williamson & Associates, our coaching process evaluates your natural strengths and weaknesses and develops a personalized coaching plan with goals that match your business deadlines. Over a series of sessions, we build the fundamentals and tailor techniques that will help you establish credibility, commitment and connection with any and every audience. Check out more details of our coaching services.
The need to identify and develop leaders is more urgent now than ever before. In January 2012, organizations saw a 107 percent increase in executive turnover over January 2011 totals.
The Institute for Corporate Productivity wanted to find out what were the most effective tools for assessing leadership potential. The survey revealed 360-degree assessments to be the most popular and used by 77 percent of responding organizations. Considered the best tool for getting a read on executive potential, the assessments were also rated to be either highly or very highly effective by 40 percent of respondents. However, the report notes that no assessment tool is designed to be used alone.
At Sally Williamson & Associates, one of the services we provide is conducting verbal assessments for a variety of clients. A verbal assessment can be an integral part of a 360-degree assessment. We can help you gain insights into individuals who are potential leaders or leaders who need a little coaching to get to the next level. We’re also using verbal assessments to help teams work more effectively together and to gather informal perspectives and insights to build stronger customer relationships. Although it’s a more informal evaluation, this type of assessment provides perspective, perception and specific examples that help shape expectations.
We would be glad to assist you in evaluating the potential of one of your greatest resources…your employees!
Interviews with politicians seem to dominate the media in an election year, but corporate executives are fair game for the media at any time of the year. The big interviews, like the ones with “60 minutes” usually stay within the confines of the C-Suite and probably the CEO’s office. However, more and more company leaders and functional managers are talking to public groups at trade shows, customer conferences and industry events. Whether it’s a five-minute interview or a 30-second conversation at a company booth, the following skills are essential to creating quotable content and building confidence and credibility behind the words.
Message Development: Far too many executives view an interview as a response. They view their role as reactive, and they don’t invest the time to think about what they want to get out of it. Success in any Q&A situation is based on preparation…thinking through what you want to say and developing the sound bites and examples to support it.
Stories, Stats & Examples: The goal of any interview is to give out memorable information. Messages have to be supported with data and anecdotes that help any listener understand the concept and remember it.
Bridging Responses: It’s hard to remember in the heat of the moment that a journalist can’t make you say anything…but it’s true. The blunders are moments we all have to take responsibility for. A journalist…or assertive listener…can box you in. Learning how to bridge a response to a broader concept or a narrower fact helps executives learn to maneuver through the tough spots.
Example: Isn’t it true that your company has laid off 20% of your workforce in the last six months?
Broader: What’s true is that our industry has laid off 25% of employees in manufacturing jobs. In the last six months, thankfully, we have fallen below that average but we have had to eliminate some jobs on our slower shifts.
Example: It seems that the real estate market is bouncing back and producing more sales for everyone.
Narrower: I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you that our company has bounced back with a sales increase of 20% in the first quarter. We think that’s based on our ability to help companies transition quickly to office space that better suits their needs.
Delivery Skills: Personal style and presence is critical if you are expecting results from these forums. Most employees are pretty comfortable working a trade show booth and view their interaction with potential customers or journalists as just casual conversations. That’s dangerous. Because while trade shows are a great way to generate leads for your company, they’re also a great way to generate leads for your competition. And the company that gets remembered out of all the booths, presentations and short interviews, is the company that can create lasting impressions.
Recently, CEOs confirmed social media is here to stay in corporate America. The 2012 IBM CEO study interviewed 1,709 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries who said within the next 3-5 years social media will be the No. 2 engagement method while traditional communication will plummet to the bottom.
Business leaders are forging closer connections with customers, partners and a new generation of employees by using social networks. The study also found the top 20 percent of surveyed companies in revenue and growth were the more social companies. While social media is replacing email, phone and fax, there is one thing it can’t replace and that’s the No. 1 engagement method: face-to-face interactions.
In the business arena, communication becomes critical when we’re trying to move a relationship along, close a new opportunity, establish consensus or deliver feedback. Spoken communication has always been a more effective way of doing this. It takes interaction and connection for the listener to make a decision, agree to a solution or sign off on next steps. Social media is growing in influence, but eventually you will have to sit across the table from someone and look him in the eye to close the deal.
Effective spoken communication requires confidence, commitment and connection. Confidence is about physical presence and coming across as having the right to be part of the conversation. Commitment is about speaking with authority to express passion and interest in the topic. Connection is about engaging the listener and it is the real magic in a spoken communication situations.
Executives we coach at Sally Williamson & Associates say they can outsource a variety of written communication activities that fall into the social media realm such as writing blogs, tweets and posts on LinkedIn and Facebook. However, they can’t outsource spoken communication activities. Leaders establish a presence and motivate audiences when they speak to people in person.
The bottom line – ramp up social media activities, but make sure your communication strategy includes a variety of spoken communication opportunities as well!
How long should your presentation be? Is there an ideal length? Or, can any presentation achieve results?August 09, 2012
New research from Maureen Murphy at the University of North Texas suggests 20 minutes is the ideal length of a presentation. It makes sense that shorter is better in our fast-paced, technology-distracting, multi-tasking work environments. But sometimes the content requires more than 20 minutes. Do you sacrifice content for length?
Our strategy for creating impactful presentations doesn’t have anything to do with the length, but has everything to do with framing the content. Utilizing a framework helps you expand or shorten the presentation like an accordion. Ultimately, the length depends on the amount of content you have. Organizing your content will help your audience follow the presentation and remember the takeaways. The framework we like to use is Situation, Solution, Next Steps/Impact.
Most people begin a presentation with their Solution or recommendation. After all, that is what you’ve researched and is probably the impetus for your presentation. However, the Situation is where you establish your credibility by demonstrating your ability to understand a challenge, a gap or a need. You also prove that you can think through how to solve it.
The Solution is an explanation of your recommendation. It might include features, benefits, processes or outcomes. It answers the question, “How can you help solve the gap or need?” that was identified in the Situation.
Impact/Next Steps discusses the results from your solution. What is going to change or improve as a result of implementing your solution? Or answers the question about what is the next step that needs to happen to get the process started.
Those three elements: Situation, Solution, Impact/Next Steps make up the structure of a presentation framework. It is a great tool to help narrow down the content into a manageable amount. If we are being honest, not having enough content is rarely a problem for our team or our clients. If you’ve ever sat down to draft a presentation, you know what I’m talking about. It is easy to gather information and much more difficult to decide what content to leave out. The presentation framework can help with solve that dilemma. We talk about the framework in much more detail in our Winning Presentations workshop. Come join Sally Williamson & Associates and learn how to create a presentation that gets results regardless of the length.
Join us for three FREE webinars! Spring has sprung and it's that time of year for freshening up your communication skills. SW&A's consultants for these upcoming webinars:
Executive Presence - Tuesday, May 8th from 2:00-2:45pm
In today’s competitive job marketplace, individuals strive to establish career differentiators. Executive presence is one of the top qualities evaluated in a potential leader and is often the missing component that limits promotion. This Webinar introduces the essential qualities of executive presence and how to deliver a message with confidence and credibility. Click here to register!
Winning Presentations - Tuesday, May 15th from 2:00 - 2:45pm
Everyone is a presenter whether you're on a stage, across a conference table or on a video conference. While many people know what they want to say, few people are really good at leaving the audience with one clear message. This Webinar reveals the framework for creating a presentation that both engages and informs the audience. Click here to register!
Leading Executive Conversations - Tuesday, May 22nd from 2:00 - 2:45pm
Conversations at the C-level are unique. More than any other listener, an executive wants to know the bottom line benefit or decision that needs to be made right up front. This Webinar will discuss messaging, the executive perspective and the framework of a successful executive conversation. Click here to register!
These webinars are a taste of the open enrollment classes being held as scheduled below:
Leading Executive Conversations
Somebody needs to tell the senior executive who spoke at your fill in the blank (employee meeting, sales conference, industry tradeshow) that he fill in another blank (is not engaging, moves around too much, is monotone, stiff or talks too fast). If the executive will be speaking at future events where you are responsible, the person who needs to give him or her feedback is you!
Feedback is hard to give to any employee much less a senior executive who is significantly higher up on the proverbial corporate ladder. So, how do you do it?
The short answer is to share the wealth. Instead of trying to figure out how to give feedback to just one executive, give feedback to all executives as part of the event wrap-up process. A conversation that might be awkward with one person can become an accepted learning tool when prescribed for a group.
Giving feedback on personal style can range from raising awareness of speaking habits to helping an executive change those habits. And while it is easy to spot mistakes, it is not easy to help someone break a bad habit. A good rule of thumb is not to take apart something that you don’t know how to put back together. If you have any concerns about how to effectively give feedback on personal style, it is best to bring in an experienced coaching team such as SW&A. An outside perspective can be the objective voice of the audience and eliminate the need for a potentially awkward conversation between you and the senior executive.
From our experience, incorporating the following three elements into the feedback is what makes it successful: videotaping the presentations, a personal style assessment and coaching notes for the future. Videotaping allows the speaker to have a visual of the event. The style assessment reveals the impressions that the speaker had on the audience. The coaching notes provide strategies and tactics that can be practiced and incorporated into future speaking events.
We’ve done group speaking assessments for senior executives at companies large and small. Once the process begins, most executives are interested in getting feedback. The employee who hires us is always appreciative. If you think about it, it is a win-win for both parties: senior executives who are effective speakers and company events that engage, inform, and inspire.
We are only a phone call away…and we’ll help you tell the senior exec in your life!
For the last two weeks Jeremy Lin has been the biggest name in sports. His moment to shine came when New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni exhausted all his options at point guard and put him into a game. The rest is history. He skyrocketed to popularity leading the Knicks to seven wins in just as many games.
After solidifying a win this past Tuesday night with an amazing three-point shot and .5 seconds left on the clock, reporters peppered Jeremy about the game. What did Jeremy want talk about? The team. Winning games. How the team is gelling together as a cohesive unit. The focus was not on him, his abilities and rapid rise to fame, but on the strengths of his teammates. The focus was on “we.”
It’s a classic leadership lesson, but when you see it played out on the national stage or shall I say national arena, it bears repeating. Any successful leader has a team of people who support, assist, counsel and encourage. The strength of the team is greater than the strength of the individual. Whether in the public eye or a corporate setting, recognition of the team efforts bodes well for the team and the leader. Critical to remember in the moment.
But each individual contributor has to bring to the table his own set of skills and experiences. Jeremy Lin was undrafted and waived by two teams prior to joining the Knicks. And yet, he persevered. He practiced. His game was in the perfect place to step into the role of leader. It was his moment.
Preparation is key. Aspiring leaders take note. Have you gotten feedback that identified areas of improvement related to spoken communication? What is it going to take for you to be prepared to step into a larger role in your company or a new role in your industry? Are you prepared for your Jeremy Lin moment?
We help people prepare for those moments through specialized workshops and executive coaching. The more personalized approach is executive coaching. We provide support in two key areas: personal communication skills as well as content and message development.
Personal communication skills includes style coaching on issues such as personal presentation, personal appearance, voice energy and authority, posture, body language and listening skills.
Content and Message development includes defining a clear objective, creating a listener-focused message, analyzing an audience, preparing for a meeting, delivering feedback or handling Q&A.
You never know when your Jeremy Lin moment will happen. Let us help you prepare!