In this new series, WBC Quick Reads, we bring you short flashes of inspiration, motivation, information and ideas that will fire you up and give you a burst of energy to get you out there pursuing your projects. These little injections of genius are Mark's way of reminding you about the most important ideas that will create a shift in your thinking and behavior, and contribute to your success. Read on for a healthy dose of sanity - Anisa.
** Many years ago, I was a strong proponent of debate and even heated arguments during meetings.
My colleagues and I would do this while we hammered out new ideas or when we reviewed freshly completed creative product prototypes and advertising campaigns.
Our thought on the matter was simple: If your idea or criticism was good, you should be able to fight for it. We also believed that a meeting involving a lot of dialectical argument would effectively, organically eliminate the weaker ideas and strengthen the stronger ones.
Much of this thinking came from the classical mentor-mentee relationship. The apprentice would perform, then the master would correct. Sometimes harshly.
I fully believed in that approach and my peers did, too.
Eventually, a friend and colleague forced me to experience an entirely different way of running a meeting. It was one where all participants were free (and, in fact, encouraged) to say whatever they wanted to say with one exception: They were forbidden from criticizing anything in any way.
At first, it seemed to me an absurd, new-age, and flimsy concept. I was confident it wouldn't work at all.
Less than 90 minutes later, I had realized that this way of communicating in meetings was substantially better than the contentious method I had been using for so many years.
I was so impressed with the experience that another friend and I developed a system that applied these rules to reviewing and commenting on editorial and advertising copy. We called it the Peer Review.
A common criticism of this approach is that it requires wearing rose-colored glasses. That one must fake compliments or constructive comments. However, this is simply untrue. The method works because it facilitates conversation rather than shutting it down. It also gives more reserved reviewers a chance to enter the conversation.
If your meetings currently consist of intense argument and criticism, I absolutely suggest making the shift. When I did, it improved immeasurably the outcomes of meetings.
As I've built my wealth, I've had good success investing in private businesses. But when I first got into the stock market (in the early 1980s), my experience was less than stellar.
The difference between my success with buying private companies and my failure buying public ones was all about rules.
When I invested in private companies, I adhered to about a half-dozen conservative rules I had learned from starting and running private companies. But when I invested in stocks, I had no rules. If the story sounded exciting. I bought it.
I made some money here and there. But the vast majority of those stories ended badly-with me losing money.
That's why, when I went back into the stock market after the 1987 crash, I forewent individual stocks. Rather, I favored no-load index funds that aimed to track the markets.
Today, I'm out of index funds and have that portion of my assets allocated to the Legacy Portfolio. The portfolio is a collection of big, safe, cash-flowing businesses that I hold forever and which I buy more of when their prices dip.
I do this because it allows me to use the same set of rules for buying stocks that I used for investing in private companies.
Two of those happen to be the same rules Phil Fisher wrote about in a very good book called Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits.
Fisher was a West Coast money manager with a fabulous track record. (His son, Ken Fisher, went on to become a billionaire money manager.)
Phil Fisher had an uncanny knack for buying and holding stocks that would turn into massive winners.
Fisher wrote that book in 1958. Warren Buffett credited it with making him a better investor.
You see, when he was in his 20s and 30s, Buffett had a habit of sometimes buying too quickly and selling too early. But reading Fisher's book changed his entire approach. He became an investor in long-term, huge winners.
The two rules Fisher followed then and which I follow now are concisely expressed in this one sentence from his book:
If the company is deliberately and consistently developing new sources of earning power, and if the industry is one promising to afford equal growth spurts in the future, the price-earnings ratio five or ten years in the future is rather sure to be as much above that of the average stock as it is today. So whether you are investing in a private or a public company, you would do well to ask these two fundamental questions:
Is the company growing its earnings, and is at least some of that growth coming from new products, media, or markets? Is the industry strong enough to be around indefinitely, and is it dynamic enough to provide possibly significant growth spurts in the future? If the answer to both questions is yes, then you've found yourself a potential long-term winner…
Mark recently wrote to me about something fun he has been up to.
As a birthday present, his friend Paul enrolled the two of them in a BMW driving program. While a day of driving is not really Mark's idea of a good time, he found it to be both fun and educational.
This is what he wrote:
A series of lanes, loops, and obstacles (rubber cones) was set up in a vast parking lot next to the Hialeah racetrack here in South Florida. Professional drivers taught us how to deal with every imaginable driving challenge. It included such skillful maneuvers as extremely fast braking, changing lanes at full speed, and driving slalom without swerving or skidding.
I learned a lot. But the most valuable lesson was this: There is something about the way our brains are wired that compels us to steer a vehicle in the direction of our vision.
Let's say you are going forward at 60 miles per hour and need to make a 90-degree turn at a moment's notice (perhaps a truck has suddenly pulled into your lane). You will crash unless you force yourself to look away from the obstacle in front of you and toward the turn.
This is very hard to do. Because the obstacle in front of you will tend to hold your focus.
It occurred to me that a similar phenomenon exists in the realm of ambition - when you are “driving” toward some desired goal.
Like the driving course, life throws us curves. It also puts roadblocks in our way without warning. Our natural tendency is to focus on the obstacles. To spend time and energy wondering how they got there and how dangerous they are and why we don't deserve them. But that kind of thinking is counterproductive. It directs attention to the negative instead of what could be positive in the future.
If we allow ourselves to focus too long on the obstacles, we “crash” into them. Instead, we must, through force of will, mentally redirect toward the path that can still lead us safely to our goal.
A hoped-for project fails. A business partner cheats you. A government agency fines you. A key employee quits. You cannot, of course, ignore such obstacles. But the sooner you can return your full attention to your objective, the more likely you will be to survive and prosper. I was particularly inspired by this message from Mark because I am currently reading this message from one of the other most-inspiring figures I know, Seth Godin.
Now, as you know I have taken a book-a-week challenge. A few weeks ago someone told me about one of Seth Godin's book: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
This book gives you exactly the support you need to make big decisions - whether it is the decision to stay or leave.
While Seth is a wildly successful entrepreneur, I believe his advice is going to enrich my life in many ways.
And I want to pass these incredible ideas on to you - soon I will also write to you about the most important messages I learned from the book.
Editor's Note: We think of communication as a tool to interact with other people, a social tool that allows us to engage with fellow earthlings. But we forget that it is more than that. It is intricately connected with what we know and what we can do. You could possess all the knowledge in the world, but if you are unable to communicate it well, you are left out of the limelight. This is true especially in the business world - whether you want to sell, buy, negotiate, hire, get hired, or get ahead in any field, you must be able to communicate effectively.
Yet we rarely put serious effort toward expressing ourselves well. Then we wonder why our efforts and achievements fail to resonate.
At the Wealth Builders Club, we believe that communication, whether speaking or writing, is key to success at the workplace and in life. We have created a series to help you develop the critical communication skills that will propel you further on your journey. Let us know what you think about the series and about any communication skills you would like to learn more about…
We do it, for the most part, all day long. We do it at home and at work. Most of us do it from morning through night. It's as much a part of our lives as eating and sleeping - and like sleeping and eating, we're not all naturally good at it. Just as we might struggle with balancing our diets and finding restful sleep, we might struggle with good communication.
Good communication is fundamental for success. It affects your relationships, both at work and at home, and eventually reflects where you are in life, whether you are able to get what you want from the world.
But before I show you how to win at communication, a little request…
I have some friends who run a national sports center. They invite athletes from different sports to participate in national competitions, and they select these athletes by going around the country and holding smaller local competitions.
At one of these events, they couldn't find anyone to compete in wrestling. After an intensive search, one fellow came forward. Ecstatic, they brought him to the center for the national games.
At the qualifying round, within two and a half seconds, the boy was down. My friend was astounded.
'Didn't you prepare for this?'
'I've been preparing for days,' the poor boy said. 'I've watched at least a hundred YouTube videos.'
Which brings me to my one condition for the success of these methods: You have to try them.
You can't just nod along as you read and think to yourself, 'that makes sense'. You can't just watch it happening when you see others talking and say, 'yes, yes, there's the method I read about'. You have to consciously decide to try at least some of them when you're actually in a conversation.
If you're feeling brave, maybe try starting a conversation with a stranger. On a train. In a cafe. And try the methods to see what happens…
Like any sport, winning at communication takes practice.
And I do see communication as a sport. As a competition. Whereas we often think about communication as a give-and-take (which it is), it is also about winning and losing.
If you come out of a conversation - a negotiation, a sales pitch, an interview - getting what you want, you've won.
It's like a game of tennis; each player can win points. But in conversation, the person with more points has the more power. A good communicator is basically a person with more power.
Note that this is NOT the same as winning an argument. An argument is where you come away feeling like you one-upped the other guy. Like you taught him a thing or two, got him to give up. It's a great ego boost, but it is bad for communication, bad for relationships…and honestly, bad for you.
An argument is a good place for you to learn a new perspective, get new information, understand how another person thinks. You need not agree, but you need to listen. And to listen, you need to shut up. Which brings us to the first step in how to win the game of communication…
Soldier Image Source: Pinterest.com
'Seek Not to be Understood, but to Understand.' Most people think of communication as getting heard, getting your ideas across, getting the message through. They think it's about speaking clearly. So they focus on articulating themselves. Even when the other person is speaking, they're thinking about what they want to say next or how they want to respond. Instead of listening, they're waiting for the other person to stop talking.
When actually they should be entirely focused on the other person… Know when to keep your mouth shut and your ears and mind open. To be better at conversation, you need to be the person who does more listening, less talking.
Because communication is not a back and forth. It's a circle. There's talking, there's listening, and the most important step that closes the loop, is understanding. Without that crucial step, you might as well not have been part of a conversation.
'The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.' - George Bernard Shaw.
A good communicator naturally focuses on understanding what is being said, rather than on being understood. If you come away from a conversation really understanding what someone else was trying to say, you come out ahead.
Nod and Smile (or Frown) You might be the best listener, or understander (that should be a word) in the world, but that won't help you if you can't encourage people to open up and talk to you. Luckily, this is not that hard to do. All you have to do is:
Nod occasionally when someone is talking and smile when appropriate. This is called visual acknowledgement. Say 'uh-huh' at regular intervals or make other appropriate noises to give verbal acknowledgement. Repeat/paraphrase what you hear. This is an extremely powerful tool. Simply repeating the last few words a person speaks will encourage them to go on. We love to talk about ourselves. Everybody, even introverts. They just don't feel comfortable doing it so much. Your job is to provide the space for people to say their piece without judgment. How do you judge whether you are doing okay? In your next conversation, pay attention to how much of the time you are talking compared to the other person. If you are talking less than 50%, you are doing okay…30% and you are truly a great listener.
Let Your Body Speak for You Do you notice what your body is saying to others? Because even when you're not talking, your body is. Body language counts for more than 55% percent of personal communication.
You know that song, tum inta joo muskura rahe ho, kya gham hai jisko chhupa rahe ho. What sorrow are you hiding behind your smile, it asks.
How do we know when a smile isn't a smile? We think of a smile as something we do with our mouths, but a good smile isn't just symmetrical lips and perfect teeth. To really communicate a smile, you need to bring your eyes into the game.
And that goes for every gesture - facial, physical - every posture, movement. You can choose what you communicate by learning the nuances of body language.
When your hands are crossed across your chest, you are sending a different signal than when they are hanging by your sides, clasped behind your back, or stuffed in your pockets. Where are your hands now?
Say It with Feeling You know I said 55% of all communication is body language? Well 38% is the tone of your voice, how you speak. That leaves only 7% for what you say. So you see, you can communicate with 93% effectiveness without even saying a word. And how much effort do you put into these elements of communication?
Next time you catch yourself in a one-on-one conversation, think about the way you are speaking. Are you enunciating, speaking clearly, emphasising the words that matter? Are you saying 'umm' a lot or singing your words like a child instead of speaking with authority? Are you varying your pace or coming across as monotonous? You can control your volume, pace, and pitch to speak with a vibrant, powerful voice.
Evoke the Power of Words The impact of words in personal communication is considered only 7%, and yet words have the immense power to hurt or heal. To encourage or discourage. To support or sequester. This video says it best…
Use your words to draw pictures, to evoke emotions, to reassure. Use positive imagery to tell a story: For effective communication, tell stories and use words that give hope.
When Narendra Modi was campaigning, he focused on 'Achhe din aane waale hai' … message of hope that spread across the country … like an 'ugta hua suraj'. He never focused on 'desh ki haalat kharaab hai', which is the same message, but the words are not positive and instead of hope it evokes visions of poverty and corruption.
In the video above, the words on the sign evoked the depressing thought of a blind person, a thought everyone wanted to avoid - no one wants to deal with that while they're going about their busy lives. When the words were changed - they evoked a beautiful day, brought smiles to peoples' faces, softened their moods, and had them reaching for their pockets.
Soldier Image Source: AmyJalapeno.com
Communication is greater than just the exchange of words - it is the sharing of ideas, the development of thought, the building of relationships, and the shaping of societies. Good communication can mean the difference between success and failure. Practice these communication skills to win in conversation and in life.
Use These Body Language Tips to Communicate Power, Confidence, and Openness Expand your body and open up When you are happy and proud, we say that 'chhati chowdi ho jaati hai', which means your chest expands and you puff up with pride. Although this is a figure of speech, it is based on a real physical reaction. Conversely, just by expanding your chest, you feel more confident. If you are slouching as you are reading, try this: Sit up straight, open up your shoulders a little (not too far back), jut your chest out, lean back with legs apart, and lift your chin slightly. You will immediately feel better, no matter what the context. Your mind registers your body movements and reacts accordingly. You will also seem more approachable when your body is open to someone. Make sure to angle your body towards the person you are speaking to.
Nervous hands can give you away Any nervousness or stress immediately shows up in your hand movements. They swing uncomfortably or you crack your knuckles. If you are standing or talking to someone, keep your gestures open, keeping your hands in an open hug. If you need to keep your hands from making you look agitated, rest them on your hips - a powerful pose.
Say it with your eyes Have you ever tried to talk to someone whose eyes keep flitting around or keep switching between you and their cell phone? How does it make you feel? Diminished, I imagine. Unimportant. Do you feel like talking to this person? Opening up? Do you feel like giving them what they want? Probably not.
If the idea of being plonked down in a room full of strangers…and not only talking to them but making them like you and want to work with you…sounds both impossible and nightmarish, you're not alone.
Most people - wealth, fame, fortune aside - get nervous at the thought of talking to strangers.
But…you can learn how to walk into a room and talk to anyone with confidence. The art of confident conversation has the power to change your life - personally and professionally - in a dramatic way. And once you master it, never again will you think twice about accepting an invitation, walking up to someone you admire…or even someone you know nothing about…and making a real connection.
The key to connecting with anyone is to build rapport, or a state of trust and confidence with the other person. We usually trust people who are like us. This is why early in the conversation people often discuss where they are from. If someone is from the same place as you, the chances that you will connect with them are higher.
If someone went to the same school (college, gym, beach, club, etc) as you, that also helps you to trust them. It is the same reason why iPhone users get along, Shahrukh fans can form a club, Congress supporters flock to each other - because they have good rapport based on a common interest or experience.
Soldier Image Source: www.vinh.Iv
So how do you build rapport with a complete stranger you know nothing about? People look for indicators in others to build a connection. If you have similar tattoos or both have 'Proud graduate of St Mary's High School' stickers on your car…then you got really lucky. If not, here is another powerful method you can use to build rapport…
Mirroring is an effective tool to create a rapport with your listener. In the last article in the effective communication series, I talked about the importance of body language and how it helps you communicate even when you are not speaking. Mirroring is a simple body language trick you can use to connect with other people.
Mirroring is the practice of matching your tone and actions with the other person's. For example, if someone tends to use a lot of gestures, when you are talking to them, you should also use gestures. But if they have their arms crossed, do that. If a person is soft-spoken, use a soft voice to communicate. If they are loud, match their tone. When you are mirroring someone's tone, tempo, speed, actions…they subconsciously start feeling 'yeh mere jaisa hai' and become more comfortable with you and more open to your message.
This may sound a bit awkward, and you wonder if they will notice and think negatively of you. In actual fact, the opposite happens. Naturally good communicators automatically do this. As you practice this method, it will begin to come naturally to you, making you a better communicator. In the image below, you can see how natural mirroring looks when two people have a connection.
Soldier Image Source: Coaching and the journey Wordpress
Image Source: Coaching and the journey Wordpress
Straight in the eyes: This may sound a little filmy, but your eyes are the windows to your soul…your most powerful asset in communication. They can convey happiness and sadness…seriousness and falsehood. When talking to someone, look into their eyes. We trust people who can hold a steady gaze. If you look down, you may come across as diffident. If you look away, you can seem disinterested. A confident gaze is a steady gaze.
If you haven't consciously tried to look someone straight in the eye in conversation, you might find it difficult, and you may struggle with the urge to look away. But there's a trick for that too.If it's too difficult to hold their gaze, look above their eyes at the bindi spot, which makes it seem as though you are gazing into their eyes. Looking into someone's eyes will make them feel connected to you. They will automatically nod their heads…and maybe even subconsciously start mirroring you. When they do, you know you have made a connection.
What to actually say: You can start conversation around safe topics, like the weather, travelling, and any shared experiences that might come up. Avoid talking about divisive ideas like politics or religion. Don't talk too much about yourself, and don't ask direct and personal questions. The most interesting conversation to people is the one where they get the chance to talk. That means you need to be an active listener (see this essay for active listening tips) and give the other person the chance to open up.
Get up-close and personal: We tend to get very defensive of our feelings. We build walls around ourselves guarding our deepest fears and greatest desires like some khazana. But your fears and desires are not that different from everyone else's. Unique as we may be, human beings are motivated by the same basic emotions - fear, vanity, greed, lust, and so on…
If you let your real emotions come through in your communications, chances are people will see the honesty in you and connect with your thoughts. But don't try to fake it. We know what real emotions look, feel, and sound like… We all feel them. So unless you're Aamir Khan, faking won't work. As Maya Angelou said, 'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'
Above all, make the other person feel comfortable. Through mirroring, active listening, and honest conversation, you can build rapport with anyone.
And once you have, you can take the connection deeper. Whether you want to sell, negotiate, or interview, building rapport is your first and most important step.
For the next steps, stay tuned…
In this essay, I will write on that important aspect of communication that is at the heart of the business world: emails. To iterate just how important email is and will continue to be in the future of business, here's an interesting fact revealed in the 2014-2018 Email Statistics Report: 'The average number of business-related emails sent and received is set to soar, from 121 each day now to at least 140 each day in 2018.'
As the number of emails we write each day increases, so will our share of stress and chaos… People will write more…write faster, but in the bargain even offend some at the workplace. As has already been seen in a survey by Sendmail: '64% professionals cited email as the main source of workplace confusion and resentment.'
To avoid confusion in email, there are several dos and don'ts. Let's divide emails into two categories - email you send and email you receive. Now let's look at what we need to do for each…
WHEN SENDING EMAILS Make the subject clear Start with a clear subject line that states exactly what your email is about. Everyone's inbox is full, so you need to make sure yours doesn't get deleted because of ambiguity. The subject line should be as specific as possible. For example:
Re: Our meeting on the future of the telecom industry, dated 24th December 2016
Exploring a collaboration between company ABC and company XYZ to boost retail sales
These bring out a sense of urgency and clarity, compelling the reader to open the email and respond.
Start with a greeting 'Dear Sir/Ma'am', 'To whom it may concern', and 'Dear Mr/Ms (Surname)' or 'Dear (first name)' are common ways to address your recipient. (Note that titles like Mr/Dr are only used with the surname while the first name is used without a title. So 'Dear Salman' but 'Dear Mr Khan'.)
You can follow your greeting with: 'Hope all's well with you' or 'Hope you are having a good day.'
Introduce yourself If you're writing to a recipient you know personally, you won't need to introduce yourself. Otherwise, you will need to introduce yourself based on the purpose of the email and perhaps remind them how you met. For example:
'If you recall, we met at the traders symposium in New Delhi.'
'I am writing to you regarding your ad in the newspaper for the role of a marketing manager in your company.'
This will set the tone for the rest of the email and help you get started on your topic without wasting much time.
WHEN RECEIVING EMAILS Read the entire email I used to have a habit of responding even before I finished reading the whole mail. I didn't want to waste any time replying, so I'd scroll and address each part of the email as I read.
But I've realised it's better to read the whole mail once or twice before you even begin to respond to it. This helps you comprehend it better and gives you more time to structure the response in your mind before you respond.
Timing is key The general rule is to respond to business emails within 24 hours. That is, unless you are travelling, in which case you can put an Out of Office (OOO) autoresponder and respond upon your return.
Some emails will give you a timeframe to respond by. They may state 'urgent' in the subject line, in which case you should reply to them at the earliest. Promptness is the cornerstone of business communication.
Assume best intentions The tone of the emails you receive may be ambiguous. After all, business communication tends to be terse and to-the-point. In any case, give the sender the benefit of doubt and maintain a polite tone in all your communications.
But when it doubt, it is okay to respond asking for clarification. For example:
'I'm not sure what you meant when you wrote…'
'It would be nice if you could elaborate further.'
'Could we discuss this further on the phone?'
Now let's look at the factors to keep in mind while writing just about any professional email:
Grammar: Pay attention to the language in your email. Ensure it is grammatically correct. If you feel you need to draft it on Microsoft Word or Notepad, that's fine. Poor grammar reflects badly on you professionally. Many professionals think they can use short forms like they do on instant messenger platforms, but you should avoid this if you want to be taken seriously in the work world.
Spelling: Do a spell check before you send your email. And make sure you spell the name of the addressee correctly!
Smileys and emoticons: Do not use emoticons in emails unless you have already built a good rapport with the recipient. Similarly, avoid colloquialisms like 'cool' or 'cheers' till you know the person well.
Proofreading: Don't press the send button until you have proofread the whole email at least once.
Check the tone: Stay as polite as you can on email. By its very nature, email can be misread in many ways. So make sure you word it well. For example, instead of writing, 'Where is your submission for the week?', you could say, 'This is just a follow up for the work assigned to you at the start of the week.'
Create structure: Your email should flow, one point leading to the next. So consider how you wish to place your various points and structure them accordingly.
Be precise and quick: Emails should be as brief as possible as they are but one part of business communication. They often lead to concalls, video calls, or in-person meetings, so you may not need to elaborate much. Five shorts paragraphs is the maximum recommended length for longer business emails. Otherwise, follow the KISS theory: Keep It Short and Simple.
Be politically correct: Avoid personal bias. Be sensitive to others…not just the recipient. As a rule, it is best to only address the issue at hand. Remember: emails are considered proof by the law, so write each word carefully.
Close the loop: The last few lines of an email should sum up what exactly you would like the other person to do. For example: 'I look forward to hearing from you at the earliest.' This is your 'call to action'.
Use closing words and sign your full name: Use phrases like 'Yours sincerely' or 'Best regards' and then sign off with your full name. If you have created an official signature with your name and contact details, this should come after your closing words.
One of life's terrors for the uninitiated is to be asked to make a speech. - George Plimpton
Public speaking can be daunting, especially for those who are introverted by nature. Knowing what to say in your mind is one thing, but delivering it with engagement and keeping your audience on their feet is another skill altogether.
I enjoy attending presentations and talks, it's a great way to keep learning about new ideas and experiences… More so, when it's a topic of interest and when the speaker keeps you so hooked that you don't need to look down at your phone or your watch. Yes, there are some extraordinary speakers who do manage to do that.
Public speaking or presentation skills are increasingly becoming the need of the hour. They are becoming tools that can take your cause or enterprise further, take your career ahead and ultimately help you gain more confidence in your own abilities and ideas. So here I list some rules you can use for your next pitch, presentation or public stage appearance.
Tell a Heart-Touching Story Marketing gurus Chip and Dan Heath say, that: 'After a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories. Only 5% remember statistics.' And this is almost becoming the norm, where storytelling is becoming a primary tool to engage and reach out to audiences. If you've seen any of the TED talks online, you'll see how presentations have almost converted into performances. A performance that will have a neatly drawn out beginning, middle and end.
Tell a Heart-Touching Story Every presentation will have a central idea or topic, it will then give a background to the organization or issue at hand, and talk about the people involved. A good presentation also explains what you've set out to do, how it's been effective and what challenges you've faced. Finally, ending with your plans or strategy for the future. Like storytelling, presentations too should be told and not read out from a script. All you need are a few points, which you can make on small cards, to ensure you don't get stuck while talking.
Create a visually wow PPT A PowerPoint presentation gives people something to look at while you talk. And when you fill it with colourful pictures, it brings your story alive. People can start visualizing what you're telling them, they can get more involved and it gives them the occasional bit of relief from just listening to your voice.
Add what you can to your PPT - research interesting statistics and make them bold; highlighting data that people don't already know gives them something to chew on. Create charts or graphs to substantiate a point.
Better still insert a video, because when you need the break, it helps to have someone else take over. But don't make the PPT too busy. Management guru Guy Kawasaki has a 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, which suggests using a maximum of 10 slides, taking approximately 20 minutes to present and using a font size of 30 in your design.
Pay attention to body language Body language or nonverbal communication plays a big role in any form of communication, accounting for almost 55% as per research. In presentations too, it helps display your confidence and build a rapport with your audience. As a speaker, you may get a podium or you may simply be in a conference room, addressing people sitting around a table, either way use the space effectively, walk around if you need to, don't feel forced to stay in one place, do what comes to you naturally. Standing straight and not slouched shows alertness; some public speaking trainers also recommend tucking in your tummy a wee bit before you start. Other important aspects include making eye contact with your audience, acknowledging their answers with nods, using gestures when needed, sometimes even enacting certain aspects of a talk to describe size or scale.
More tips on body language here.
Be clear in your communication From the moment you begin till you end, the words you use and how you say them play an important part in a presentation. It's a good idea to memorise the starting and finishing lines of your presentation as they leave maximum impact. Also, consider practising important sections of your presentation that you don't want to leave to chance or bank on your extemporizing skills for. Practice where you want to add emphasis, and make sure you convey the right meaning. In this picture you can see how simply changing your emphasis can change the meaning of your message.
Tell a Heart-Touching Story Keep the focus on your message. Keep coming back to the central idea and use only relevant examples. And, don't sweat on correctness of accent or pronunciation, if your message is effective, the rest will fall into place. Focus instead on stressing on the right words, make adequate pauses while talking to the audience for them to absorb what you're saying, and involve them by asking questions and making them a part of the experience.
Make an impact by connecting When you're filled with self-belief, when you have immense passion for the subject on hand, and when you're completely centred in the moment, making a connection with the audience is a natural outcome. Thus, getting vested in your audience and understanding what they want and how they respond is pivotal to your presentation. They will also trust you more, open up and participate if you share your own stories. Occasionally, lighten the moment with humour, get them warmed up by an exercise or throw in an experiential activity. And please don't worry about stage fright - it's a common belief that some amount of nerves are good, helping you work harder and practice more. If not, you have these hacks… So get armed, go out, start speaking and pack some punch into your presentations.
And if you ever get a chance, read Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds.
Your Rolodex and/or address book contains all the numbers you may eventually need to call. But you need another book - a very special book - to keep vital information on your success network.
Your success network comprises all the powerful people you know who can make a positive difference in your future. They are supervisors, consultants, competitors, and colleagues who have the resources and connections you lack. They are bankers, lawyers, marketers and entrepreneurs. They are your bosses and your bosses' bosses. They are the wealthy neighbours and powerful businessmen you play golf or tennis with. They are the most successful people in your industry - and, especially, the people who do what you do, only better.
Take a half-hour and write out your power list. Then transfer these names to a separate “little black book.” All personal details - including spouse names, sports interests, birthdays, etc. - should be included.
Over the course of the next week, continue to add names. (Hint: Ask yourself who is the most influential individuals are in your (a) department, (b) business and © industry.)
How to use your little black book Man is a knot, a web, a mesh into which relationships are tied. Only those relationships matter. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Go through your new address book quickly and select one person whom you haven't been in touch with recently. Send that person an e-mail or a handwritten note.
Hint: If you know the person very well, an e-mail will do. If not, a handwritten note is better. Ironically, the less familiar you are with someone, the more effective the personal note will be.
Also, remember the idea I gave you earlier: to write notes to industry experts whose published articles you may have read and admired. If you haven't already done so, today is a good time to start.
Write Someone a Note…
When you send a note, record what you said in the address book or in a separate ledger. This may become important later.
It will take only a few minutes, but the rewards will come - and they will eventually be very big.
What is the Optimum Number of Contacts to Have in Your Success Network? Is there a useful limit to the number of people you can have in your success network? Someone asked me that today and I've been thinking about it. I guess it depends on what you want from those relationships.
The aim is some sort of amiable access, isn't it? You want to know that you can call the individual pretty much whenever you want and have your call received. If that's the criterion, the number should be large. It would be very helpful to have a fat address book filled with the names and numbers of helpful and influential people.
Could you maintain so many relationships? I think so.
Since most successful people are busy with their own lives, they don't require a lot of your time. It's enough to hear from you now and then - to hear something positive or pleasing. To maintain this kind of useful relationship, you probably don't have to make more than one contact a year. If you write one personal note per day (as I do - it's very easy), that's more than 300 relationships of this sort that you can keep.