Here are 6 keys to engage the reader when you ask for some help via email:
Indicate the social connection between sender and reader – where did you meet? who put you in contact? “We met at the Foundum Unplugged conference 2 weeks ago”
Understand the readers perspective – what context (background information) does the reader need to take a decision/act upon the email? This is often best provided as a url link to supporting information so as to keep the email body short.
Explain why the reader was specifically selected as a source of potential help. “I am contacting you because you have over 8 years of experience in the industry”
Show that you have already made some effort to understand the domain before asking for help. “I have spoken to X and to Y, I have read Z book.”
Keep it short. Many emails are much too long – the sender has no edit process before sending the “draft” email. (Here’s a nice email policy called three.sentenc.es)
Clarify exactly what is wanted: No effort to clarify what you are asking for. ”Help” is too vague. What do you want the reader to do when they finish reading? “Meet next Monday”; “Call me to set up a site visit”; “Forward the email to John”.
Chris Anderson, Owner of TED
Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing. Read More
The Inconvienient Truth about Change Management –
McKinsey & Company
Conventional change management approaches have done little to change the fact that most change programs fail. The odds can be greatly improved by a number of counterintuitive insights that take into account the irrational but predictable nature of how employees interpret their environment and choose to act. Read More
11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader
All 11 concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Read More
5 Models for Leading Change
In this article we introduce five models for leading change. No single model isright. However, they all have something valuable on offer and can help us to navigate our way through complex organisational situations or circumstances. Read More
Chiara Ojeda who writes the Tweak Your Slides blog has recently posted a new set of visuals called Presenting As Yourself. It has powerful visuals. It provides great reminders of the important aspects of communicating with impact; communicating in a way that engages the audience and lets your message stick.
Presenting As Yourself
What are your favourite books, blogs, youtube videos, general resources on presentation delivery?
I wrote “Give a TED talk” on my bucket list 4 years ago, today I feel happy to see the idea come to fruition. It is not a TED Talk per-se, i.e. it is not up there on a stage, but in my mind almost better – a lesson from my class, and a concept that is very important today. We are increasingly overloaded with information, but need to be more and more careful how we trust this information. We want to connect to the meaning behind the information. As the lesson says “Ethos and Pathos are missing”…
What Aristotle and Joshua Bell can teach us about Persuasion
Imagine you are one of the world’s greatest violin players, and you decide to conduct an experiment: play inside a subway station and see if anyone stops to appreciate when you are stripped of a concert hall and name recognition. Joshua Bell did this, and Conor Neill channels Aristotle to understand why the context mattered.
Lesson by Conor Neill, animation by Animationhaus.
View the full lesson, additional resources and the quick quiz on the TED Education website: here
Joshua Bell, “Poet of the Violin”
Often referred to as the “poet of the violin,” Joshua Bell is one of the world’s most celebrated violinists. He continues to enchant audiences with his breathtaking virtuosity, tone of sheer beauty, and charismatic stage presence.
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher ofAlexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics,government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato’s teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality, aesthetics,logic, science, politics, and metaphysics.
Aristotle’s Rhetoric is an ancient Greek treatise on the art of persuasion, dating from the 4th century BC. The English title varies: typically it is titled Rhetoric, the Art of Rhetoric, or a Treatise on Rhetoric.
As we communicate, there are 3 separate processes at play:
what we say,
what we mean when we say it, and
what we accomplish by saying it
A rhetorician would call these 3 separate processes: 1) locution, 2) illocution, and 3) perlocution. In my courses we use the shorthand “Point X” to refer to the perlocutionary effect. This is where effective persuasive communication must begin.
Speech Act theory was laid out by the philosopher J. L. Austin in his small book “How to do things with Words”.
Words that Change the World
One difference between gods and men is that a god’s words directly change the world, whereas the words of men depend on action of others to cause the change. A god might say “let there be light”, and the sun appears. A man might say “can you turn on the light?” and another person hears, understands and reaches his hand out to the switch.
However, we do have occasions and rituals in which a man’s words do cause a change in the world. These occasions the speech is called “performative”. Consider the following statements:
1a) Conor says, “James and Sarah are married.”
1b) A judge says, “James and Sarah, I now pronounce you man and wife.”
2a) Conor says, “That ball was on the line!”
2b) The umpire says, “Point to Rafa Nadal. Game.”
The a) statements communicate information. These are non-performative utterances. The b) statements directly change the state of the world. The statements of the judge or the umpire are performative utterances.
Performative utterances are not limited to judges, umpires and gods. Consider:
3a) Conor says, “I would bet on New Zealand to beat England”
3b) Conor says, “I bet you €10 that New Zealand beat England today”
This third examples show the establishment of an verbal contract. Legal codes in many nations hold these verbal contracts as valid on a par with written contracts. Performative Speech acts include promising, ordering, greeting, warning, inviting and congratulating.
Types of Meaning
John Searle gives the following classification of illocutionary speech acts:
assertives = speech acts that commit a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition, e.g. reciting a creed
directives = speech acts that are to cause the hearer to take a particular action, e.g. requests, commands and advice
commissives = speech acts that commit a speaker to some future action, e.g. promises and oaths
expressives = speech acts that express the speaker’s attitudes and emotions towards the proposition, e.g. congratulations, excuses and thanks
declarations = speech acts that change the reality in accord with the proposition of the declaration, e.g. baptisms, pronouncing someone guilty or pronouncing someone husband and wife
Politicians often speak in a manner that treads a fine line between performative and non-performative speech. They make statements that sound like assertive promises, but if you listen exactly to the words, they avoid the full commitment. We hear the promise, but if later their statement is fact-checked, it can slide by as a non-performative.
This has led to a great distrust in any sort of vague speaking. If you mean to make a promise, it is important in today’s environment to state it in clear and non-ambiguous terms.
Remove “maybe”, “try” and “might” from your vocabulary. They turn a performative utterance into a vague, grey mush.
For your words to change the world, be concise and direct with your performative statements.
“We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings.” says Jeff Bezos.
Staff meetings at Amazon begin with 30 minutes of silent reading.
Powerpoint is easy for presenter, hard for audience
“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a powerpoint presentation, some type of slide show. In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points. This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience. And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo.”
All meetings are structured around a 6 page memo
“When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”
Why don’t you read the memos in advance?
“Time doesnt come from nowhere. This way you know everyone has the time. The author gets the nice warm feeling of seeing their hard work being read.”
“If you have a traditional ppt presentation, executives interrupt. If you read the whole 6 page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on on page 4 that question is answered.”
And so that is what we do, we just sit and read.
“Think Complex, Speak Simple”
I love this idea. In our communications courses we talk about “think complex, speak simple”. It is hard work to prepare well enough to be able to speak simple. Most presenters are figuring out what they really want to say as they are presenting. This is a terrible waste of an audience.
This video is “The Single Most Important Ingredient in Becoming Influential”:
[friedice5005] Powerpoint isn’t the problem. It’s a very useful tool to augment information you are trying to get across. The problem is people people who are bad at it using it as a crutch. Powerpoint should basically be an outline of what you’re talking about with MAJOR discussion points and any images or graphs you need to show. It should not be blocks of text that you read verbatim.
[via Yajirobi ] if you dont integrate people into it, they just sleep. Forcing them with made up questions is a bad idea too. Getting random questions from the audience is the best way to do it. Its a GIFT. They make the presentation good for you, without any effort from your part.
[via EngineerVsMBA]I experienced this system, and I loved it. I will use it in every job from here on out. Let me explain why:1.) It requires meaningful preparation by the presenter. They cannot hide behind pretty slides, and you can’t use the usual confusion tactics. If you can’t fit it in six pages, you didn’t prepare enough.2.) You know everyone is going to read it.3.) These meetings are intense! The participants can’t just sit back and relax. They are digging into it. If you are the presenter, you can use that time to send some emails, or do some other work.4.) People with poor communication skills can’t suck the life out of a meeting. It allows good ideas to come out. There is always that guy that talks too much, and this meeting shuts him up.5.) This isn’t for the every-day meeting. This is for the multi-million-dollar business deal. Anything you would typically reserve for an hour-long power-point presentation.Power-point is for selling a concept or an idea. The written word is for discussion. Anyways, a good exec will print out the power points and make notes on those anyways. Might as well tell him exactly what you think instead of letting him interpret your spoken word.