If you are persistent

persistent-consistent-tracie-marquardt

Tracie Marquardt

Quality Assurance Communication

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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

Write Executive Summaries Like a 3-Michelin-star Chef

I recently spent four days in Brussels working with 15 international auditors from the banking industry on how to write effective, action-oriented audit reports. One of topics of this integrated workshop was Executive Summaries. This topic is often a pain point in writing workshops: What to include? How much to include? In what order? Can I just do a quick copy/paste from the detailed body of the report?

During the workshop, participants learned how to craft an executive summary and the importance of identifying stakeholders and their needs before starting to write. When participants add a dash of good language and a pinch of critical thinking, their executive summaries will be something their stakeholders enjoy reading. (Or at least won’t get indigestion from.)

Create a fine-dining experience for your reader

Something clicked for me after this particular workshop: an executive summary is, or should be, similar to the tasting menu we enjoyed during an extravagant fine-dining experience one evening in Brussels.

A tasting menu is the perfect opportunity for a chef and a restaurant to demonstrate their culinary expertise. It allows the chef to use the finest ingredients while creating a higher-value offering for guests.

By choosing the tasting menu, a guest knows they will dine on unique and delicious food they won’t eat anywhere else. It’s more expensive, but it’s exclusive.

A tasting menu creates an opportunity to forge a deeper connection with the chef, and have a memorable dining experience overall.

So, what is a tasting menu?

A tasting menu is a selection of small plates or dishes with a fixed number of courses for a set price. The number of courses and what is offered on each plate is determined by the chef.

All dishes are smaller portions so guests can sample the best without having to eat too much. According to dining experts, these small plates tells a story, with each course seamlessly flowing from one to the next.

How does this relate to executive summaries?

  • An executive summary should contain the highlights of the detailed work you documented in the body of your report. If your reader wants more, they can refer back to the detailed report.
  • The content and structure within the executive summary should tell a story, with each section flowing logically to the next based on relevance to the stakeholders.
  • The executive summary should showcase your professionalism: the quality of the work you performed should shine through, and your critical thinking skills should be evident.
  • The reader is guided through the executive summary with concise bites of key information via subtitles, bullet points and conclusions.
  • The conciseness of your writing ensures the stakeholder invests an acceptable amount of their most precious resource: their time.

Evaluating return on investment

A restaurant must evaluate the return on investment when offering a tasting menu. Are the portions too big? Too small? Does the story told by the plates develop the character of the experience? Does that experience provide enough value for money?

Just as the vision for the menu comes from the chef, you create the content of the executive summary.

The content and the level of summarization should give the reader exactly what they need, in just the right amount. The reader should not be left hungry for important information, or feeling like they are missing key information within the story. If the reader wants ‘seconds’, they can dig into the detailed body of your report.

Sharpen your skills

Remember that 3-Michelin-star chefs studied, trained and practiced their craft, usually for years, before being awarded those stars. So keep learning, practicing and improving your executive summary skills.

Get feedback from your stakeholders, get coaching from someone who knows, or take a course to learn more. You might even try modelling your summary after one that has already been recognized by senior management as hitting all the right notes on being clear, concise and persuasive.

Wishing you every success in writing your next executive summary!

All the best,

Tracie Marquardt

Quality Assurance Communication