Living Proof That Excellent Communication Means More Results

It’s hard to believe 2016 is almost over. What a year it’s been!

I can honestly say I’m looking forward to a few days off over the December holidays to rest and recuperate from the whirlwind of 2016. Except that over the holidays, I know I’ll be working on the workshops already lined up for January and February…

This year has been wildly successful for me, and since I’m in the business of effective communication, I took a few moments to reflect on whether there is a correlation between my success and my communication abilities and strategy.

The only possible answer is YES!

As you read my articles from the past three years, you may have noticed several constant themes:

  • Know your audience
  • Build trusting relationships
  • Communicate the impact of doing or not doing something
  • Ensure your key messages resonate with your audience
  • Inspire others into action to create positive change

I could go on…

The bottom line for me is that if you deeply understand your (potential) business partner, then you can serve them more effectively. What do I mean by this? Know what a day in their life looks like, what keeps them awake at night, what their needs and goals are.

And then give them what they need to help them get better results and be more successful.

How did I increase my turnover by 100% this year?

  • By communicating with my clients and potential clients with regular frequency to build and nurture a trusting relationship. This means having face-to-face conversations in meetings and giving industry presentations, calling clients and people I met in my business travels to catch up, and sending my newsletter/blogging on a regular basis.
  • By giving them proven strategies and techniques that help them, their teams and their organizations. From writing and presenting to interviewing and negotiating, I tailor each workshop to the client’s environment, industry and current pain points.
  • By going the extra mile, by delivering quality, and delivering results.

My goal has been and will continue to be to empower international professionals to communicate more clearly, concisely and persuasively… every single day.

So as this year comes to a close – and I know we are all working diligently to complete our tasks for the year – I ask you to take a moment and consider how your communication skills have affected your results and ultimately, your success this year.

If you decide you need to enhance your communication skills in 2017, then read some of the great books out there, participate in a workshop, or get yourself a coach. Start learning some new ideas so you can add to your communication skills “tool basket”. And then take action to put your new skills into practice!

My secret tip for success: taking imperfect action, even in my communication. It moves me and my business forward every day. So don’t wait for the perfect time, the perfect email or the perfect presentation. You’ll spend far too much time waiting, and far less time reaping the rewards of your, and their, action.

Here’s to successfully wrapping up 2016 and to even more results in 2017!

All the best,

Tracie Marquardt

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Deliver a killer presentation with these strategies

Several times a year, I deliver a workshop called Preparing Powerful Content for Presentations. It’s a two-day workshop where we look at strategies, techniques and insights on how to create a killer presentation. Essentially, the workshop is all about what you can do from the point you are first asked to give a presentation, to when the slides are finished.

In the workshop, pushback inevitably comes when participants are asked to take a step back and rethink the concept and create a storyline for their presentation based on what they’ve learned. I get responses like ‘I can’t change it. I’ve already delivered the presentation’ or ‘But I’m just preparing the presentation, I’m not delivering it.’

These responses will NOT help to create positive change in your organization.

Trying new concepts to create ‘more’

And so I encourage my participants to start from scratch. Yes, restart the whole thing. Are they happy to do that? Maybe 30% are ready and excited to jump in and start all over again.

But let me tell you, after we finish, 100% of the participants are glad they did!

Something magical happens when you turn off and tune out old ideas, preconceived notions, and perceived limitations. And it’s a joy to see the final result.

Some of the key learning points from my Preparing Powerful Content for Presentations workshop are:

  1. Know the goal

Know exactly what action you want the audience to take when they leave your presentation. Because if you don’t know, they won’t know either. There should always be an action, so push yourself to identify it. I guarantee there is more to your presentation than just ‘informing’. (Can’t figure it out? Get in touch and I’ll help you.)

  1. Create a gap

Create a gap, a pain, an opportunity, between the current situation and the future that could be, if only they take the action you are proposing. Because there IS a gap, there IS a pain point, there IS an opportunity. Otherwise what you want to tell them is of little value.

  1. Show multi-level benefits

Include the benefits of doing something and the risks of not doing something. At each of these levels: society and the environment (possibly), the organization, the department, the individual making the decision. Make sure to address each of those in your presentation content and strategy if you’ve assessed that it’s relevant for your audience.

  1. Get personal

The old adage goes, ‘People buy from people they know, like and trust.’ I take it a step further: People buy from, support, champion, recommend, refer, help and promote people they know, like and trust. Add anecdotes from your experience, empathize because you used to do their job, or show in some other way that you know what it’s like to be in their position.

  1. Inspire action

Inspire your audience with what is possible to be/do/have in the future. Many people are just fine with the way things are, thank you very much. So asking people to take on change can be tough. But if you believe in the change, in yourself, and in their ability to be successful with the change, you can lead them to a better position: in work and very possibly, in life.

Unlimited possibilities

Here’s what you can create:

  • A presentation with an active, compelling concept
  • A clear understanding of who the audience is and what they need from the speaker
  • An engaging storyline that keeps the audience’s attention and takes them on a journey
  • A slide deck that with key messages and supportive images that resonate
  • A clear and explicit action that the audience should take

Create more – for your audience and for yourself. Let us know how these strategies work for you.

Wishing you every success as you prepare powerful content for your presentations!

All the best,

Tracie

Quality Assurance Communication

Create a communication playbook to get better results

“Tracie, I’m frustrated. At meetings, I need to get agreement from my business partners, and it’s just not happening, or the process is lengthy and painful. How can I get better results from my meetings?”

This was one of the questions that was posed to me at the beginning of my Global Communication Competence workshop last week. Almost every workshop participant was nodding their head in unison as Mark asked the question.

It’s a common pain point: We spend so much time in meetings, discussing back and forth, often not really hearing what the other is saying. And as a result, no one actually gets ‘their’ desired outcome.

There is a host of things you can do before, during and after a meeting to support an outcome that suits all or most stakeholders. One of my favorites is making sure your communication playbook is updated and in order before the meeting. That way you can reference it during the meeting exactly when you need to.

What is a communication playbook?

An easy way to understand a communication playbook is to think about a sports playbook. If you’ve ever watched an NFL football game, you’ll be familiar with the concept.

A playbook is a collection of ‘plays’ or tactics that cover possible situations that the team wants to execute or react to on the football field. The plays in the book include common plays that are used quite often, and other plays that are used less frequently but are useful to get the football down the field in tricky situations.

Your communication playbook should include tactics and strategies for common communication interactions and challenging situations that might arise.

In Mark’s case, his communication playbook should include how to prepare for meetings where he has to get agreement with stakeholders, whether that agreement is on recommendations, audit findings, or next steps.

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What should you include in your communication playbook?

Your personal communication playbook is just that: personal. You decide what to include and in how much detail. You decide if it is written in a notebook, on your computer, on the back of an envelope, or is only in your head.

At a minimum, I recommend addressing common communication interactions in your communication playbook, as in Mark’s case above.

To help Mark get started, I proposed he add the following aspects to each play in his communication playbook, and then add relevant questions for each aspect. I’ve given you a couple of examples to get started:

  1. Stakeholders
    Who are the stakeholders in the meeting?
    What do I know about each stakeholder? Include both personal and professional details.
  2. Objectives
    What is my objective for the meeting?
    What do I think their objective is?
  3. Positioning
    What is my position?
    What do I think their position is?
  4. Objections
    What might their objections be? List each objection.
    How can I overcome each objection?
  5. Team
    Who is on my team with me?
    What role will each of us play?

How can you benefit most from your communication playbook?

Prepare for each situation by first looking at existing plays in your communication playbook to determine which would best apply. But don’t forget that every communication interaction is slightly different: different business partners, different topics, different goals, different conditions and different consequences.

It’s a good idea to consult your playbook and then reflect on this particular situation. Decide how you might use the identified differences to create a different strategy, and likely a better outcome, than if you apply the same strategy to every communication interaction.

Wishing you every success as you develop and use your communication playbook!

All the best,

Tracie Marquardt

Quality Assurance Communication

P.S: Start 2018 the RIGHT way! Mark your calendar: My open webinar How to Write a Persuasive Audit Report will take place on January 9, 2018, at 18:00 CET. You’ll learn strategies and techniques that I’ve shared with thousands of audit professionals around the world. So save the date in your calendar TODAY. A registration link will follow in my next Up Your Impact newsletter.