Posts tagged 'business':

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

January 16, 2014

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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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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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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

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!




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 »

Cabbages to Colanders…

May 1, 2012

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From cabbages to colanders, cricket bats to cucumbers and rubber chickens to cotton wool, the jury is out on whether props prove a positive addition to your networking pitch.

Whether we love them or hate them the serial networkers amongst us will have all seen our fair share of artefacts aimed at illustrating the essence of a business pitch.

Well, today I was asked my view on what benefits props add to the occasion and whether it is ever a good idea to wear a silly hat when networking.

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Only smarties have the answer…

January 19, 2012

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As 2012 gets underway and the difficult times of 2011 fade into the background (for some at least), our thoughts turn, inevitably, towards the new business year and to wondering what it might have in store for us?

With media sceptics predicting another financial dip and news reports reinforcing that message I started to ponder what it might take to ‘turn things around’? What could be done to set the economic wheels in motion once again? Who really could make a difference to the current situation?

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