It’s often been said that apart from bereavement, public speaking is the most stressful experience we can have. If you’re fretting about making a presentation then here’s some great advice from ancient history. Greek philosopher Aristotle talked about three concepts: ethos, pathos and logos. Here’s our take on his top tips on how to improve your presentation skills. We believe that these will help you make maximum impact with your audience.
This is all about having credibility with your audience. You may have über-confidence in your own abilities and believe what you have to say is game-changing for your audience. However they need to believe in you.
All too often speakers fail to get their audiences interested in why they should listen. Make sure your build in some reasons why people need to listen. However, avoid going over the top with your credentials so they become a turn off rather than a turn on.
A critical question to ask yourself is ‘What’s in it for them?’. Do you want them to do something or just be informed? Start with your objective in mind and work backwards.
This is all about emotion. Think back to the presentations that have persuaded you to listen, be influenced and take action. I am sure that the speaker’s passion inspired you in some way.
Make sure that the presentation is your own. Presenting someone else’s slide-deck is never recommended. If you don’t believe in your message then how can you expect others to? Faking it rarely works.
Your message needs to be compelling. That starts from within. Whether your extrovert or introvert it doesn’t matter. Sincerity is key. Be yourself. That’s what sways people.
Logic and information is vital. It’s often debated whether we decide using logic to justify our emotional decisions or vice versa. What is clear is that you need data to present your argument in a logical way.
Remember to avoid information overload. Use the 80:20 rule for decide which 20% of your information will have 80% impact. Audiences who feel overloaded will soon be reaching for their mobile devices to check their emails or even order a taxi home.
Finally, remember that information can be beautiful. Use bar charts, pie charts, photographs and other images that will make your presentation memorable for all the right reasons. ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ really does ring true.
Of course schoolboy errors such as reading out your slides word for word do need to be avoided. However, using ethos, pathos and logos really does work. Engage your audience by engaging yourself.
Director and senior consultant, Beyond Theory
Our blog in March focused on listening skills. This blog focuses on the attitude needed to listen effectively. In essence, the difference between listening to understand v listening to respond.
Take a look at the video clip below which was live on television just a week ago. Make your judgement – are these people listening to understand or listening to respond? Or maybe are they listening to each other at all?
Now pause yourself for a moment and listen to yourself very carefully. What do you hear? My guess is that there is a voice in your head making sense of what you’re experiencing. You’re already having an internal conversation with yourself.
Having this voice is helpful. It helps us make judgements that keep us safe. However this voice can also get in the way. Particularly when listening to others. Often words are said that trigger a response. Our response is likely to be formed from our views and experiences. We can be tempted to respond very quickly and with the best intention. Unfortunately this quick response can often shut out what the other person is wanting to tell us. If we hold back and even ‘park’ our response we may understand the points of view being shared.
My tip is to use your pause button. Resist those temptations to jump in with your immediate solution. Not easy when we’re time pressured and expected to come up with immediate solutions.
But pausing is worthwhile. Whether dealing with an employee, a team member, your boss or a customer make a real effort to listen to understand what is being said. Set aside any conscious or unconscious bias you may have against the person or the topic being discussed. Instead work hard to understand what is being said and how it is being said. Use empathy to respect and see the other person’s perspective. You don’t have to agree. You only have to understand.
Once you have listened to understand you can then be in a better position to respond. Your point of view may have altered. Maybe your point of view may not have changed. However your relationship with the other person may be stronger as a result. These are the benefits that listening to understand v listening to respond will bring.
Paul Beesley, Beyond Theory
What to do when things go wrong? Last week’s eviction of Dr. David Dao from the United Airlines flight went viral. Not the kind of publicity that is welcome. Whatever the reason for the passenger being removed the whole episode proved to be a serious public relations gaffe that damaged share price as well as reputation.
United have since apologised. Dr. Dao has been patched up in hospital. The airline has now reviewed its policies on overbooking passengers and accommodating additional flight crew. So now that the dust has settled what lessons can we draw?
Our advice to United Airlines or anyone else caught out when things go wrong is quite simple – use the 3 R’s. Here’s what we mean:
- Regret. Waste no time in apologising. Speed is of the essence – particularly in our networked world where social media spreads stories quicker than wild fire. Make sure your apologies are sincere too. The higher up the apologiser is in your organisation the better. Remember to choose your words carefully – if you’re not old enough to remember the comments made by Gerald Ratner in 1992 then search them out and read about their devastating impact.
- Reason. Apologising is not enough. Make every effort to explain the reasons for why things happened the way they did. Be as honest as you can and resist any temptation to hide behind excuses. Trying to fudge the issue or dodge the bullet will run the risk of making things worse. Again, choose your words carefully. For example use ‘apologise’ rather than ‘sorry’ as this will convey more sincerity when you provide your explanation.
- Remedy. Again it is important to act as fast as possible to provide a resolution. Don’t let your customer live with the pain of their complaint any longer than they need to. Taking swift action will enable everyone to move on to better things. Handling a compliant well by showing regret, providing the explanation and then providing the remedy may even result in enhancing your reputation rather than just rescue and recover the situation.
Gaffes and blunders are not just the property of big companies. Reputations take ages to build yet can be destroyed in just a few moments. Applying our simple yet effective method will help you deal with those tricky situations that may catch you out.
Paul Beesley, Beyond Theory
Giving employees a voice is a recognised driver to increase employee engagement. People need to feel they can contribute ideas and improve things that aren’t working. Listening, rather than just hearing, is therefore essential.
Encouraging employees to give their views can be done in many ways. Here are a few:
- Annual employee surveys
- Appraisal interviews
- 1:1 meetings
- Daily check-ins
In addition to these traditional methods more and more companies are now using online communications platforms such as Slack to share ideas, present challenges and provide feedback. This is something we already do here at Beyond Theory.
However, whichever method we choose we need to make sure that these opportunities are not hijacked by ourselves as managers. For example whether a survey, online or face-to-face our communications need to remain two-way. This is easy to say yet hard to do when managers are pressured for time, eager to get things done and distracted by other things. It’s tempting to think that one-way communication is the quickest way of getting things done.
So what can we do to make sure our employees are listened to? Here’s a checklist to help you to actively listen rather than just hear:
- Look to see and understand things from the other person’s perspective – demonstrate empathy. You may not feel the issue being raised as important. However, for the employee this may well be a different matter. Avoid making assumptions. You don’t have to agree to empathise.
- Take in and acknowledge ideas, suspending your judgement and responding appropriately. As the manager your expertise may be undeniable but sometime different angles can offer different options. Be prepared to put your ego to one side.
- Avoid distractions. This point relates to emotional as well as physical distractions. Put the phone away, close the computer screen and if necessary shut the door. Focus on the person you are with rather than the person you’ve just dealt with or your next appointment. Be present and in the moment.
- Pay attention to body language and tonality, how things are being said rather than just what is being said. This means your body language and tonality as well as their’s. Our physiology not only gives of huge communication signals but also impact how we communicate verbally. Be upright and alert rather than laid back and casual.
Listening is not always easy. It takes time and effort. But it’s important to ignore. Time and time again employees complain that they are not listened to.
These tips will help you engage with your employees. Your team and your customers will thank you. Higher levels of employee engagement are proven to increase service levels, productivity and profitability. Listening to and acting upon employee voice will help.
Paul Beesley, senior consultant, Beyond Theory
This headline is a direct quote from the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) published by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) in January 2017. This report goes on to say that a 1 point increase in employee engagement is likely to give a 0.41 point uplift in customer satisfaction. And we know how well customer satisfaction improves profitability..!
The UKCSI report states that many companies and organisations are now performing better in some of the essential elements of customer service. However the report highlights that challenges still remain to convert better customer service into tangible customer loyalty and advocacy.
The report identifies 6 key areas for companies and organisations to focus on to help develop an improved customer experience strategy. These areas are recommended to deliver sustained business performance through generating loyalty and recommendations:
- Make experiences easier for customers.
- Prevent problems at source.
- Be consistent across all channels, especially telephone and email.
- Deliver seamless, fast and efficient service with proactive, empathetic help and advice.
- Recognise that prioritising customer satisfaction means prioritising employee engagement.
- Understand the broader context of your customer’s relationship with your company and organisation.
The report provides a list of the top 50 companies and organisations in terms of delivering customer satisfaction across the UK. Top of the list is Amazon.co.uk. with ASOS.com, John Lewis, M&S (Food) and Waitrose making up the top 5.
The UKCSI report also shows what separates the top 50 from the rest of the 244 companies and organisations who took part. The biggest difference is how:
- Complaints are dealt with.
- Telephone experiences are handled.
- 85.6% (on average) of customers said their experience was right first time with the top 5. This figure reduces to 76.5% (on average) with the rest.
- When using the telephone the competence of employees rated 8.4 out of 10 on average in the top 50 compared to only 7.6 on average with the rest.
So what does the UKCSI say about increasing employee engagement. Here are the report’s top 6 recommendations:
- Bring your company’s or organisation’s vision and values to life.
- Acknowledge the critical role of first line managers and equip them accordingly.
- Have authentic, regular and relevant communication.
- Provide genuine opportunities for employee voice.
- Enable and develop all employees.
- Provide recognition across the board.
If you are a business leader or an HR manager who would like to learn more about how employee engagement impacts customer service then why not attend our free seminar in Northampton on 21 March 2017. Click here for details.
For a copy of the UKCSI report please contact Institute of Customer Service our ourselves at www.beyondtheory.co.uk/contact
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