Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Work-life Lesson 4: Learn how to give first-rate presentations so that the message you’re trying to deliver is the same one the audience receives

By: Glenn Remoreras, in collaboration with Ira Fialkow and Ivy Remoreras

No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters. 

Is there a secret formula for success in business – and in your career?  Probably not. But I believe it makes sense to learn from the people I respect and who have been successful themselves. 

Case in point: Ira Fialkow was the Executive Vice President for Shared Services at CEMEX, until recently. His career spans 25 years and he is a highly respected leader in his field. This series marks the culmination of 25 business lessons documented and developed by Ira over the past 25 years of his career. Ira used to distribute these lessons to the team every year. In this series, I will endeavor to share the 25 business lessons that I’ve learned from Ira and our shared services team. 

This is part four of the series: 25 Lessons for Work (and Life!) – 3-Minute Coaching Sessions 

Nowadays, having good presentation skills seem to be a no-brainer.  In fact, there is plenty of information out there about how to give good presentations – for example, how to be a good speaker, which gestures to use, correct posture, how to capture your audience’s attention, etc.  However, I think it is just as important that the message of each presentation is delivered concisely and effectively.

First of all, if your audience doesn’t get your message, then you didn’t deliver it.  This is part of accountability – a common theme in all these 25 work-life lessons. The audience must be considered first.  It is your responsibility to ensure that the message your audience receives is exactly the same as what you intended to deliver. Secondly, if you are not able to deliver your idea or solution, then there is no innovation – the second repeating theme on these work-life lessons. No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters.

Make sure your message is the one they receive

Before you even create your presentation start with the end in mind by asking yourself: With what message do I want the audience to leave?  Business leaders that develop exceptional presentation skills do it by analyzing both their audience and their purpose for presenting. This message needs to be the exact message the audience receives.  To do this, you will need to consider  how your audience best processes information. For instance, will a story that relates to the solution you are offering going to engage your audience, or will it make them impatient?

In discussing this with Ira, he mentioned that whenever it came to issues related to change management, he would always try to engage the audience with a story that they can relate to. The story should be relevant to the current situation and help explain the “Why behind the what?” For people to engage in change, they first need to understand the need for the change. Without that understanding, there will be no desire to hear the message.

In giving a presentation to executives, usually they know the “why” and are primarily interested in the “what”, “who” “how much” and “by when”. However brief the presentation is, that too  needs to have a good story flow, but delivered in a much more summarized manner.

The success of your presentation is best measured by how well the audience understands or appreciates the subject matter after you finish speaking. Naturally, presentations will be very different depending on the target audience and the message being delivered. Your presentation should have a logical sequence and the message should tell a story that can be readily retold by the audience.  

Be brief. Be bright. Be gone.

A 2009 report on American consumers, published by the Global Information Industry Center of  the University of California – San Diego, stated that the average American receives about 33.80GB or more than 100,000 words of information per day. (Bohn & Short, 2009)  That’s a lot of information to process! If you want your message to be heard and understood, keep it short and relevant. Studies show that the average adult’s “undivided attention span” is roughly 30 seconds. So even if you have the most interesting topic or are the most exceptional presenter, you still can’t keep the audience’s undivided attention for so long. That’s why our advice in this lesson is, “be brief be bright, be gone.” The story or message needs to be brief and focused — compelling and worth retelling for it to stick. Everybody is busy and you have to be able to cut through the clutter.  You need to be able to present your idea concisely. We call it the “elevator speech” – a 30-second presentation you would give to your audience (such as your CEO) if you found yourself alone in an elevator with them (and you have their undivided attention).

Secondly, your message needs to be memorable. This is what “be bright” means. Your presentation needs to be impressive enough to cut through all of the other information that your audience receives. And finally, after you have delivered your message concisely and memorably, finish your presentation, and “be gone”. There’s nothing worse than having a drawn out presentation. For this, you need to assess your audience and determine if the message has been received or if more information is required. Remember that the closing part of the presentation is what the audience will remember the most. Repeat your purpose statement. By doing so, you deliver your key messages one final time.

Work-life Lesson 4 Takeaways: 

  • Know your audience. Each presentation must be tailor-made for the audience.
  • No matter how insightful, or powerful, innovative or fantastic your solution or idea is, if  your target audience doesn’t “get it”, then none of it matters.
  • Make sure that your message is the one they receive.  Your message should tell a story and it should be one worth retelling.
  • “Be brief, be bright, be gone”. It is important that you deliver your message concisely and memorably.

Link to Previous Lesson: Set your performance standards high and never give in to “good enough”. Be your own toughest critic.


About the collaborators:

Ira Fialkow is the SVP of Member Services at Peeriosity. Peeriosity is a confidential network of leading companies from across the world committed to collaborating openly with each other in a completely secure environment with interactions free of consultants and vendors. Prior to Peeriosity, Ira was EVP of Shared Services at CEMEX and Rinker Group (acquired by CEMEX is 2007) from 1990 through joining Peeriosity in October 2010. Rinker Group was the initial recipient of the Best Mature Shared Services Award in 2003. Ira lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida and has been the champion of his fantasy football league in three of the past five years.

Glenn Remoreras is an IT Manager at CEMEX. He brings over 12 years of experience as an IT director, business processes manager, project leader, and consultant. He has focused on enabling business solutions through the use of IT capabilities. Glenn has been involved with various international post merger integration projects.

Ivy Remoreras is a marketing professional with eight years of extensive experience, particularly in product management, communications and promotions as a manager, university instructor and consultant. She believes in constant learning and has a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA). Having resided in Europe, Asia and North America, she speaks four languages.

Photos courtesy of Jscreationzs and Pixomar.

Advertisements

Collaborative Research: Smart Use of Peer Networks to Improve Efficiency and Spur Innovation

On my article about Social Shared Services, I examined the possibilities of adopting social media practices and social collaboration toolsets as part of the shared services offering and communication channel. The “social media adoption model” I referred to does not apply only to shared services organizations but also to any other services organizations looking to harness social media.

If you read my article on Social Shared Services, I cited  “external collaborative research” as one of the six components of the social shared services model. It refers to the interaction of organization’s members with peers in other companies through “social” media and collaborative channels. This interaction results in collaborative research, benchmarking, enriched studies and shared best practices. This artcle aims to give a concrete example of how organizations can participate in forums and collaborate with external parties.

Peeriosity, an Example and Success Story

There are existing platforms in the internet that allows “social” or collaborative engagement using advanced Web 2.0 toolsets. Take for example, the website Peeriosity. It is already used by many shared services organizations and companies worldwide. Peeriosity uses innovative platforms to enable collaborative communities and facilitates the sharing of experiences and best practices. This type of collaboration brings together a broad number of individuals with different areas and levels of expertise. When collaborating with peers, you want a wide selection of qualified individuals to work with. This platform allows organizations to engage peers beyond their internal ecosystem and to participate in forums, webcasts and research. Each research area includes live webcasts featuring leading experts and recognized peers on key topics. Participants can actively ask questions and share their perspectives and experiences.

The tool in Peeriosity that I best like is  iPolling. If you have an idea or a problem in your office environment, you typically look for co-workers within the company to discuss it. It is the same with iPolling except that you can confer not only with your co-workers but also your peers in other companies. With iPolling you can create your own poll in just a few minutes. Peeriosity then professional reviews it and distributes it to peers who have the most interest and experience in your specific topic. Poll results include a summary chart and the underlying detailed results. I think it’s a great way to get feedback from your peers about topics you care about and engage them in direct poll discussion and comments.

Benefits of Peer Networking and Collaboration:

Here are some benefits that I see for companies participating in cross-company and cross industry collaboration:

  1. Organizations can construct and enrich innovative ideas by leveraging the diverse and expansive expertise of the collaborative network.
  2. Attain benefits of scale through effective collaboration with peers across geographies and across industries concerning a topic of interest.
  3. Drive continuous learning in the organization by allowing its members to participate in webcasts and online forums.
  4. Maximize collaborative research efficiencies and reduce consulting costs.
  5. Drive employee engagement and performance by optimizing flow of good ideas.

Interaction with an “extended” peer network can have a profound impact on creating a learning organization that can adapt, collaborate and innovate. I view new collaborative platforms like Peeriosity and other similar services online as an extension to collaborative channels already available to you. This is the same type of engagement you would experience when attending annual industry conventons and personally meet professionals in the same industry or practice. I personally don’t believe these types of platforms are possible replacements for traditional conventions, forums and training programs but instead, it allows you to continue the same level of meaningful interaction with your peers long after the event.

I will leave you with the following questions: Is it time for your organization to adopt social networking practices and tools? How can you build a more collaborative and innovative organization? How can you promote patterns of collaborations that will allow your organization to become more efficient, innovative and engaging?

Image courtesy of www.peeriosity.com

Stories and Leaders

September 28, 2010 1 comment

The senior vice president of the shared service organization that I work with is retiring after 25 years of service to the company. In a farewell gathering last week to honor his years of service and great accomplishments, 25 selected employees (old and new) took turns to share 25 business lessons learned from our retiring boss. Many of those 25 employees who stood and spoke about the 25 business lessons accompanied them with remarkable stories. They were stories that in many ways embodied the values and meaning of each of the business lessons. Being relatively new to the organization, I felt that the hour and a half of stories and messages provided me a glimpse of the organization’s founding stories, its key tenets, culture and identity. I felt a stronger sense of belongingness and understanding that I know will only help me in how I interact and collaborate with my colleagues.

Stories are powerful messages that shape the organization’s understandings of relationships and of how members deal with the mix of harmony, successes and failures that are always present in the workplace. These are past events that people talk about internally—and even externally. In some cases, leaders choose what stories to tell and immortalize. They are stories that best represent the organization’s values and culture.

Stories can also be critical experiences, major incidents, conflicts and problems that the members of the organization experienced together. The way leaders and members approached, worked through and solved critical experiences help shape the group’s dynamics. The daily actions and decisions of leaders and managers signal appropriate responses to wide-ranging issues. Because of social influence, leaders are the single most important factors and determiners of organizational culture.

Organizational culture is influenced by the leadership style. In other words, the personality, philosophy and experience of the leaders get embodied in its group’s culture. Leaders facilitate the development of organizational culture through different embedding mechanisms that align culture with the organization’s common goal and strategy.

The New York City and Facebook Analogy

You can never have enough of New York City! We made our trip to the Big Apple for the second time in less than a year. Last week I spent a grueling — but rewarding — five days there with my wife, Ivy, and her family. We went on several sightseeing tours, bay cruises and museum visits. The tours brought us to a number of boroughs in the city and historic places where great residents have lived (often proudly mentioned by tourist guides). Those great names have, in one way or another, contributed to the major development of the city. New York City, for many decades now, exerts a powerful influence over global commerce, finance, media, culture, art, fashion, research, education, and entertainment. 

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

While traversing New York City, one thought kept coming back to me. I wondered how it came to be that scores of great people and so many great things came from this city. Why is there so much celebration and life in the Big Apple? 

I listened to the song Empire State of Mind — I heard it everywhere I went, fueling my thoughts even more… 

“New York! Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York!  These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you….”  

Unknowingly, the answer to my question was waiting for me at home. I got the answer when I came across an enlightening article from the New York Times entitled “Yes, People Still Read, but Now It’s Social.”  I will quote the part of the article that struck me and provided response to the questions in my mind. 

“It’s no accident that most of the great scientific and technological innovation over the last millennium has taken place in crowded, distracting urban centers. The printed page itself encouraged those manifold connections, by allowing ideas to be stored and shared and circulated more efficiently.”  

Echoing the author’s sentiment— I think it is no accident that crowded  and buzzing metropolises (like Rome in Italy, Paris in France, Berlin in Germany, New York in the United States, Tokyo in Japan, Mexico City in Mexico and many others) were cradles of human society’s progress. Great minds from all walks of life converged in crowded cities that provided a “natural” environment for mass connections and collaborations. 

Natural Facebook – Using People as Platform

Now, I see big cities like New York, as a “natural Facebook” that seamlessly permits several magnitudes of connections and allows residents a fast-paced and persevering lifestyle. New York provides a unique environment to push innovations and inventions forward by harnessing community forces- using people as platform

In big cities like New York there are so much things going on and so much stuff to do that you can’t possibly concentrate on one thing; therefore, you work on loads of “focused items” by multitasking your way and leveraging people and connections. You build on the “popular highlights” of important things. I think that’s how New Yorkers succeed!

Photo courtesy of Ivy Remoreras Photography.

Branding IT Organizations

Recently, I was involved with the redesign of a newsletter for our organization. I have always believed that communication is an integral part of any service organization – including IT. What we communicate is our story and our promise. This creates a perception to our internal customer about who we are and what we are about. At first glance, IT organizations and branding seem to be mutually exclusive.  However, I disagree. 

Branding in General

First, let’s talk about branding in general. Many professionals confuse the term “branding” as synonymous to “advertising”, “communications”, and “marketing”. They use it interchangeably. This confusion is costing companies a lot of money. Companies that market their products or services without first establishing their brand identities are not likely to achieve their objectives. Branding is about the customer’s perception of your product. It is the image of your products and services in relation to your organization.

Now how about branding in an IT perspective? This goes in line with the general concept of branding. IT branding is finding and knowing your IT organization’s identity. In many small- to medium-sized companies, internal customers only interact with IT when they have computer and IT application issues. This shapes their understanding and perception of the kind of IT organization they have. Branding for these IT organizations is getting their users to think that they are the sole solution to their IT-related problems. Once your IT is perceived as “only”, there is no place else to call.

How to Grow your IT Brand

The IT organization’s brand grows as the company expands. The IT organization’s brand evolves as the enterprise matures through the different levels of Process Culture maturity. Take time to revisit the article that I posted last year on Process Culture. As your organization’s Process Culture evolves and IT takes on a more important role, your IT brand grows with it. The IT organization’s identity is linked to this Process Culture maturity. 

Just like the most popular ones in the market today—Apple, Coke, Marlboro, Google, the business has to strive to grow and improve its IT organization’s brand. It is important that the IT organization must have a good understanding of the internal customer segments in order to position its services appropriately. In small IT organizations, this means positioning support so as to solve more IT computer issues and improve internal customer service. In more mature organizations, IT can position services to create more business value. IT branding will help your organization become the partner of choice internally.

I like the article Russ Aebig wrote about branding for IT organizations, entitled “Attraction of Identity”. He started with some very good questions and I am sharing it here because I want to end this article with the same questions: “As an organization, who are you? What is your internal and external story? If you cannot crisply define yourself in a few words you likely have a problem on your hands.”

Photo courtesy of ignitionblog.

%d bloggers like this: