Posts tagged 'business':

How To Keep Things In Perspective – Public Speaking Nerves

July 24, 2014

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perspective

Butterflies in your tummy, sweaty palms and a dry mouth can become things of the past if you follow these few simple steps to turn your public speaking nerves on their head.

Glossophobia, the fear of speaking in public as it is better known, is regularly listed as the most common of all phobias and many books have been written about how to overcome this state of mind.

In my work it is often the one thing that motivates people to make contact with me and frequently turns out to be masking of an altogether different emotion.

Indulge me if you will…

I want you to imagine you have been invited to deliver a presentation to a group of important officials about your absolute field of expertise. You have had a fortnight to prepare and the presentation is written and rehearsed (finally). You will be speaking for 20 minutes and will be handling questions at the end of the session (time permitting). You know precisely where you will be meeting and what you are going to be wearing and someone else is sorting out the IT for you (hooray).

An added pressure is that your overall ‘performance’ will determine whether or not you gain a long overdue promotion at work which will attract a hefty pay rise (and I mean a seriously hefty pay rise). You have to deliver the presentation tomorrow and, if successful, will start your new job on the first of next month so those extra pounds will soon be in the bank.

So, how have you been feeling?

  1. Have you been suffering with an upset tummy (butterflies), sleepless nights and heart palpitations?
  2. Have you convinced yourself it will all be a disaster, that you will forget everything you want to say and make a complete fool of yourself and?
  3. Have you started to think you should never have put yourself forward for this stupid promotion in the first place and stand no chance of success?

All of the above are perfectly reasonable emotions and would be experienced by many in the same situation but what if we took some time to listen to what is REALLY going on here? What if we could ‘re frame’ our feelings and come up with some strategies and techniques to concentrate on making your presentation a HUGE success and that ‘hot shot’ promotion a reality?

So, what have you been feeling?

  1. What if the emotions you are experiencing are not ALL based around fear?
  2. What if the world becoming your oyster is almost too incredible to bear and you are feeling the exact emotions you felt as a child when you secretly hoped for a Scalextric, a new Chopper bicycle (the link takes you to a Chopper Owners Club!) or a Tiny Tears that really cried?
  3. What if these physical symptoms are not, in truth, a fear of messing up with the presentation but are in some way related to the fear of not being able to spend those extra earnings on holidays, houses or pension provisions?

We forget that the physical symptoms of anxiety and excitement are incredibly similar. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood these emotions become confused and ‘fear’ becomes the dominant label.

So, how can you change your perspective?

  1. How would things feel if you chose to embrace the excitement?
  2. How much more engaging and ‘real’ would you be in the delivery of the presentation if you used the excitement positively?
  3. How much easier would it be for the interview panel to make the ‘right’ decision’ if they could see how excited you were about the job in hand.

They say a change is as good as a rest so next time you start to feel ‘anxious’ stand back, change your perspective and leave the rest to success!

Bye for now.

Heather 

Customer Service – are you missing the point?

May 6, 2014

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image

As business owners we invest an awful lot of time in considering how to deliver the best levels of customer service and spend even more time putting procedures in place to deliver on these great ideals.

So why is it, inspire of these efforts we sometimes actually make matters worse?

Take for example Ryanair. Last week a truly hilarious and very cleverly written letter of complaint was addressed to Ryanair by a less than happy customer, Mr James Lockley. The letter was posted on Social Media Site Facebook and soon went viral. (Click here to read the letter in full, it is pretty clever).

In essence, Mr Lockley arrived for his flight a little later than planned. There then followed a sequence of events which not only led to Mr Lockley missing his flight but resulted in additional cost for replacement flights and taxis, an unplanned overnight stay and missing the wedding reception he and his wife were flying to attend.

Each of these things in isolation would have been infuriating enough for even the calmest amongst us but it was the way that Mr L was treated that made the whole situation worse.

No doubt, Ryanair spend an awful lot of money on creating their brand and defining their place in the market. Budget airlines receive quite a bit of bad press but let’s not forget they are, and always will be, budget airlines.

However, where in the rule book does it say that budget has to mean poor customer service? Budget may mean ‘no frills’, it may mean ‘basic’ but it should never mean poor quality. After all, we wouldn’t expect a budget airline to use poorly maintained aircraft so why is it acceptable for us to be given an inconsistent message and less than polite staff. I imagine it is this in particular that will prevent many of us from flying with Ryanair.

Moving a little closer to home, just a couple of weeks ago my husband and I decided to visit a lovely pub, that we know well, for a very late lunch or very early supper (it was 4.30pm, you decide). We hadn’t booked a table as it was a last minute decision to eat out (mind you the pub in question doesn’t take ‘same day’ bookings so we turned up on spec).

The pub wasn’t at all busy but most of the tables were marked as ‘reserved’ and laid for evening meals. Each table had a little card that said the time of the booking and stated the table could be used until that time. However, neither my husband nor myself felt comfortable sitting at ‘someone else’s table’ just in case they arrived early or we left later than planned. We were clearly not alone in this as there were 2 other groups of people doing the same thing.

Anyway, we kept looking and eventually spotted a lovely table that was waiting to be cleared from some earlier diners. We enquired whether we could sit at the table in question but were asked to wait while the waitress wandered off to speak to another waitress who checked in a book to see if and or when the table was needed again.

Eventually, after loitering like a couple of interlopers and almost deciding to walk out with embarrassment we were granted use of the table. Hoorah!

Now, you may think that I shouldn’t blame the staff for simply trying to ‘get ahead’ of themselves for the evening shift and in many ways I don’t but imagine if there was a different way of achieving the same result for everyone without making us feel like unwanted and unwelcome customers.

Imagine a situation where all of the tables are laid for the evening sitting but without the ‘reserved’ cards. Imagine having just one member of staff standing at the entrance to the dining area. Imagine one side of a conversation that goes a bit like this:

‘Good Afternoon, can I help you?’

‘Are you looking for a table for 2, 4, 6 …?’

‘We are just in between sittings but we do have a few tables available if you think you will be finished by 7.00pm, 7.30pm, midnight…?’

‘Would you prefer to sit near the window or near the fire?’

‘Please take a seat, here are a couple of menus, I’ll be back in a few minutes to take your drinks order’.

This way, we are happy, we get a warm welcome, we understand we are on a time limit, we accept the situation and can relax and view the menu.

This way, the staff are happy, they get to keep their tables ‘under control’ and can be sure that we will be leaving on time and if we look like we are outstaying our welcome, they have every right to politely eject us.

This way, we are full of happy memories and feel able to return again to enjoy the warm welcome and great food in the future. Perhaps with friends or family.

So, next time you are pondering what good customer service really looks like, take a moment to think of what really matters to your customer, consider what their ‘must haves’ really are and save yourself time in doing just a  little bit less and achieving a whole lot more.

 

 

 

A Very Good Place To Start For Speeches That Really Sing.

January 16, 2014

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SoundofMusic

From important telephone calls to presentations and speeches we can all learn a lot from Maria in The Sound of Music.

Rather sensibly she advises us to begin at the beginning, which, it turns out is a very good place to start.

Taking the time to think about what we are going to say is a habit very few of us actually manage to do but I guarantee  just a few minutes careful consideration before making even the simplest of phone calls, or simply allocating ten minutes quiet time before you start to pull together your presentations or a speeches will not only keep your audience engaged but will help you to feel more confident and in control of those horrible nerves that so often get in the way of  what we want to say.

There are various techniques you can use to focus your thoughts such as MindMapping (one of my favourites) or Brainstorming which, contrary to popular belief can be done solo.

When you think about it, the more clear you are in what you want to say, the more clear you are going to be in saying it. It’s not rocket science but surprisingly many of us find ourselves ‘winging it’ which isn’t always the best plan. In fact, it’s not a plan at all.

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It’s A Matter Of Opinion

November 21, 2013

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WorldDomination

Those who know me will understand why I am so incredibly excited to have been invited to judge the next Youth Speaks Competition which takes place at Oswestry Library on Tuesday evening.

Being a confident speaker is a skill which, despite popular belief to the contrary, can be learned and whilst I work with many adults on this particular skill set I have set myself the challenge of developing this subject for all youngsters regardless of which school they attend, what their parents do for a living andor where they live. Naturally, I have to start somewhere so my first quest is to share public speaking skills and techniques with students across Shropshire and I’m working hard on that one already. Next step, world domination.

But, why do I care? Well, I recently found myself in conversation with a Head Teacher at a state school who informed me that a child does not need a private education to be a confident speaker and naturally I agreed. Until, that is, he added, ‘For instance, we have many students in school at present who are incredibly confident indeed’. And therein lies a tale.

What is it that makes a confident speaker? Somewhat surprisingly for some it’s not so much about what you say but what you don’t say.  It has little to do with knowledge and much to do with passion. It has even less to do with the words you speak and more about the way you speak them.

If you have a subject you believe in, can find a way to connect with that subject and persuade others to do the same whether for a moment for a minute or a lifetime you are half way there. The other elements such as planning, preparing and performing can all be learned. Simple as that. So step 1 is finding that gem that motivates you to speak with enthusiasm, with passion with a purpose then you can take time to work on nerves, breathing and taking the limelight. If I can learn to do it, anyone can learn to do it.

Of course I shall look forward to seeing the youngsters of Oswestry and surrounding areas speak next week but fear the majority of schools represented will be private. And so my quest continues.

If you would like to know more about the Youth Speaks Competition please click here and if you would like to find out more about speaking opportunities for your child or have any thoughts on how to get more youngsters involved please contact me on 01691 700800.

 

 

Award winning? Me?

November 4, 2013

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Young Enterprise AwardHaving recently bought a whizzy new laptop for the office I was sorting through the mountain of emails that we all seem to accumulate these days when I came across this photo and realised that I hadn’t mentioned it here.

One of my main passions is that of personal development and in particular helping members of our teenage population to grow and flourish as they so often fall into an abyss and are tasked purely with trying to gather academic qualifications whilst their personal development (that is the development of themselves as a person) is neglected. I think this is really sad.

One of the great initiatives I support is Young Enterprise and I work with youngsters from a local secondary school to support them in the running of a company for a year. We have weekly meetings where I offer support and guidance to the weekly board meetings and find the whole process hugely rewarding.

Seeing how young minds think and watching these young people develop across an academic year is reward enough for me but imagine my absolute gobsmacked joy when the members of Blue Gecko at The Marches School in Oswestry nominated me as the Business Advisor of The Year.

Here I am collecting my trophy at the end of programme awards dinner earlier in the year. I was literally bursting with pride.

If you want to find a way of  ’giving something back’ or ‘paying it forward’ as I like to think of it, you can find out more about Young Enterprise by clicking here.  It is a hugely rewarding experience.

The wrong trousers…

July 22, 2013

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OversizedSuit

We wouldn’t allow our colleagues loose to promote our business and services dressed in someone else’s suit so why on earth do so many companies  set their representatives free to speak on their behalf equipped with someone else’s presentation?

I was recently asked to deliver some presentation skills training to an organisation that was embarking on a targeted promotion of their products and services and so brought me in to train their team on how to present the business in an appealing and consistent manner.

Ultimately, they wanted to be certain that nothing was overlooked when it came to promoting the wealth of services on offer.

Nothing wrong with that, I hear you say, and of course, I would agree. We do need to be certain that our staff not only understand what it is we have to offer but must ensure we equip them with the necessary skills to achieve this confidently and clearly. A bad presentation and a bad presenter can cause untold damage to reputation.

Some may think that creating a universal Powerpoint presentation which sums up the offerings and ethos of a business and then handing it to representatives as a marketing tool is ‘doing them a favour’, helping them to achieve consistency, enabling them to ‘keep on track’. Sadly this isn’t the case.

Effective communication just doesn’t work like that. If we are to be believable, credible and convincing we need to be using our own presentation style to convey the key messages and for that there is no shortcut, no time saving technique, no magic spell.

Put simply, any organisation that is serious about promoting itself through presentations and pitches should follow these three basic rules:

  1. Take time to communicate and get ‘buy in’ from your team as to the key benefits on offer. Satisfy yourself that they really understand what they are promoting.
  2. Invest time in getting to grips with the key messages that will motivate your audience to ‘take action’. Use a fresh pair of eyes to focus on what you may no longer be able to see.
  3. Allow the individuals the freedom to hone those messages into a presentation that works for them. A presentation that looks and sounds authentic. A presentation that helps to marginalise nerves and therefore maximises engagement.

All of the above is easily achievable and will add to the success of your face to face marketing activity. Not entirely convinced? Ask me how.

Contact Heather Noble on 01691 700800 or via email heather@salt-solutions.co.uk

How much bang do you get for a buck?

April 15, 2013

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Nowadays most businesses have some kind of online presence be it a website, a smartphone app or an entry on a directory site. Mix in some social media activity and it is hard to deny that these tools have considerable value in showcasing the products and services we have to offer.

Add to that a blog, some well placed PR and the use of some creatively designed marketing materials and you would think a business could have all bases covered.

But do they?

Using these platforms to promote your business has become almost second nature, a must have a ‘no brainer” but no matter the size of our marketing budget we should feel confident that we are maximising how much bang we are getting for our buck. We need to be sure we are achieving a maximum return on investment and that we are reaching the widest possible audience.

So, why is it that we happily spend out on a shiny new website, a glossy brochure and a few well placed press releases but pay scant attention to the things we say to potential customers?

Getting your message across clearly, concisely and creatively takes practice. It takes focus and it takes time. Developing a natural, powerful and memorable ‘pitch’ is the key to expanding your reach.

A more important and somewhat harder thing to do is make sure you are speaking directly to your target audience, you are speaking their language and you are saying the words they want to hear.

So, whether we (or one of our team) is pitching to a tender panel, presenting to a potential client or simply engaging on a one to one basis, making sure we know what it is that our client wants to hear, understanding common objections and knowing how to overcome them, and, most importantly, being able to recognise buying signals, will all ensure we get the loudest bang possible from each and every buck!

If you or one of your team needs help in crystallising the messages for your business and incorporating them into a simple, practical and easy to adopt way of working why not take a look around our site and find out more about how we can help you to achieve precisely that?

Please feel free to leave your comments below or contact Heather on 01691 700800 for an informal chat and, if you know anyone who might find this blog interesting please forward a link directly to them with my thanks in advance.

 

Are you for real?

October 4, 2012

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When it comes to building rapport, we need to get real.

Whilst you would never think it to look at me, I drive a 150 mile round trip just to get my hair done. It’s a long story but, for the past 8 years or so, I have driven from my home in North Shropshire to Cheltenham every 6 weeks or so to be primped and preened.

Last Saturday was one of these days and for some reason I had booked my appointment for 11am, so a nice early start was on the cards.

I don’t know about you but, for me, the greatest dilemma when driving early on a Saturday morning is deciding what to listen to as I drive. My CD collection, whilst eclectic, isn’t always what I need  as I traverse Junction 8 of the M6 after a long working week.

Last weekend I decided, as usual, to give Sounds Of The Sixties a miss and opted instead for Radio 4 until Brian Matthew had finished sharing his magical mystery tour of that particular decade with us.

As I approached Cheltenham city limits and following John McCarthys fascinating tour of Martello Towers of the south coast  Saturday Live welcomed a very effusive Italian called Gianni Golfera who was being interviewed about his role as a memory man extraordinaire. He was sharing some tips on how to store information so that when we need to recall it, on demand, we don’t suffer those embarrassing moments when our memory simply refuses to produce the name of the person in front of us who greets us like a long lost friend.

Gianni mentioned one particular tip that I try to use when meeting someone for the first time. When introduced, and as soon as I have been given their name I immediately (at lightening speed, or as fast as my brain allows) try to visualise someone else that I know with the same name and connect the new acquaintance with that other friend, family member, colleague or client.

If, like Gianni, they have an unusual name or come from somewhere that I have never heard of, I increase my chances of remembering it by asking them to spell it for me. For me, this helps the name to stick in a similar way that writing things down often makes them easier to remember.

Gianni explained that this technique centres around emotional attachment and the fact that, at the point of communication, only 31% of what we receive resonates with our logical brain but, remarkably, 69% connects with our emotional brain, our inner being, the real person. I found this statistic not only fascinating but reassuring in that my preferred communication style is to connect with the emotional side of my audience.

Whether professionally or personally, and those who know me will testify, I am interested in the reality of a given situation, the real issue, the real person, the true emotional connection, whatever that might be.

In any form of communication, if we can connect on an emotional level, however deep that might be, we are more likely to make firm, lasting and valuable relationships with family members and colleagues, friends or business associates.

My message to you would be to recognise and harness your strengths, know what motivates and inspires you and use that enthusiasm to connect with your target audience.

Keep it real!

Heather

x

 

Motivate yourself to succeed…

August 3, 2012

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Will the 2012 Olympics provide you with the opportunity to motivate yourself to succeed?

In previous years the Olympic games has usually passed me by with little more than a gentle breeze as it wafted through but not this time, not in 2012, not for the London games.

If I’m honest, I genuinely have no inkling of what it is that makes me feel different about the Olympics in 2012. I don’t feel it is purely because we are hosting it in London. I’m not entirely sure it is solely due to the electricity that surrounded Bradley Wiggins and team in the Tour De France. I can’t even be certain it is because I’ve reached the age where it is too late for me to even contemplate emulating the sportsmen and women competing as if their lives depended upon it.

So, what has really captured my imagination with London 2012? Regardless of  your political views, your musical taste or your opinions of the cost of it all, it would be hard to convince me that the national pride surrounding the Olympic Flame was anything less than immense. That the opening ceremony was anything other than pretty blooming impressive or that ,despite the distance from London, the energy and enthusiasm appears to be present in most circles.

Instead of lamenting the fact that little of the ‘main event’ has touched Shropshire or Mid Wales I  started wondering what I could I choose to take from these Olympics for my own benefit.  How could I utilise the energy and determination of the world’s best athletes and all the hard work of the London 2012 Olympic Team so that it could benefit me and my business?

For what it’s worth, I chose to focus on the following strengths that they all possess and hope that I can carry at least some of them through into my business. Wouldn’t it be a shame for all of the efforts, enthusiasm and patriotism to fade and not leave as much of a legacy as is humanly possible.

Why not join me in seeing how long we can pay forward the efforts of everyone involved?

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Going back to my roots…

May 11, 2012

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Business Networking Roots

I’ve been networking all my life and didn’t even realise it. I think it’s fair to say, I was an early adopter.

None of this occurred to me until recently when I was heading south on the A49 to Hereford to the place of my birth (well near enough) in order to deliver a workshop to the Royal National College for The Blind on how to achieve maximum results from networking opportunities. Read more »

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