5 Ahas of LinkedIn

July 27, 2012 by

LinkedIn is a brilliant marketing tool. Many business owners have a Linked-In profile but their only interaction is to occasionally invite (or to accept an invitation from) someone they’ve recently bumped into. Unwittingly they are providing loads of information for their competitors. Fortunately, not many of their competitors understand how to tap into that data!

Here then are 5 Ahas of LinkedIn aimed at helping you get a bit more from this wonderful resource.

Aha #1 – your profile should be like an elevator pitch

Your profile needs to be engaging and written in a way that succinctly describes how you help people. You have just 160 characters in your “Professional Headline” so make them count!

Business Owner, Director, Managing Director etc. are not effective ways of describing what it is that you do (they are merely job titles.)

Treat your profile as an”elevator pitch” and focus on the benefits that your customers get from working with/buying from you by telling a story.

Ensure you have a profile picture that show you in a good light – smiling and not too quirky.

To edit your “Professional Headline”:

  • Log in
  • Click ‘Profile’ then ‘Edit Profile’ then the ‘Edit’ alongside your name.
  • You will see ‘Professional Headline’ a few lines down (it’s a box that at first glance doesn’t include the full description.

Make sure you have links from your LinkedIn Profile to your web page and your twitter account.

Offer something to people who find you – a free half-hour of consultancy, a fact sheet, a sample of your product etc.

Aha #2 – use LinkedIn to Build Rapport – NOT to SPAM

Don’t just broadcast! Get involved.

Scan the activity reported toward the bottom on your home page. Say “Hi” “Congratulations” “Great Link” “Thanks for that” etc!  Share interesting relevant material with others.

Ask for recommendations from people you know well, satisfied customers and the like.

Better still give recommendations to your own service providers, customers and others in your network. Be genuine.

Join relative groups and join in the conversation.

Don’t spam. If all you ever do is publicise your events, products and services people will see you as a spammer. PLEASE  don’t spam people!

Aha #3 – LinkedIn’s great for finding potential clients

Use the Advanced Search facility to target specific prospects. You might be looking for specific industry sectors, people who hold specific positions within an organisation etc.

Go to ‘Advanced Search’ at the top right of the LinkedIn screen and tick as many boxes as relevant. I would also limit the search to 2nd degree and Group Connections. Use the post code box to set a geographic limit (if necessary) and when you’re done click ‘search.’

Look through the results and from the list look to begin a conversation with just one or two people a day.

You could do that by following them on “Twitter” (if they show a link to their twitter account) and begin the conversation.

Ideally, for 2nd Degree Connections, pick up the phone to the contact that links you and ask them to put you both in touch. I wouldn’t recommend using In-mail to make a ‘blind’ approach. It would be like a cold call – not impossible – just improbable.

Aha #4  – Tagging your connections is a great way of getting focussed!

Use Tags to segment your connections. This means you can send selected, targeted communications aimed at specific segments. This is much better than copying in everyone on all your communications. That (as I am sure you’ll appreciate from the experience of others doing that to you) just gets irritating for people who are likely to disconnect from or ignore you.

LinkedIn automatically assigns some tags (friends, partners, group members etc.) dependent on how you LinkedIn with the connection.

To assign your own tags:

  • Click on “Contacts” from the menu bar
  • Click on “All connections”  in left hand column – this brings up your contacts in the box.
  • Select a number contacts and assign a “Tag”… might be “accountants” or “potential clients” “influencers” etc. Only you can see the tags that you have assigned.
  • You create a new tag by clicking “Edit tags” which opens up a box – type in the “tag” you wish to assign to these connections.

To send a message to all members of a “tagged” group of your contacts simply click the “Tag” in the left hand column  and then send message in the right hand column.

You can choose specific members from a number of groups simply by ticking their name. This will add their names individually to the list. Again just click send message and your away!

Aha #5 – you can choose how you are found

Firstly you need to decide on how you would wish to be found. It’s a bit like deciding the key words you’d choose for your website.

Say you want people to find you as “hypnotherapist.” Then you need to ensure this word crops up as many times as possible in your overall profile.

The word count is what determines how high up in the returned search results you feature. A word of caution – ensure that in an effort to increase the word count that you do not turn your profile into an unintelligible mess!

You should get your chosen search terms into your professional headline, within your current and past positions, in your summary and within the section that details your experience too.

There you have it – my 5 ahas of LinkedIn. These tips are a small sample of ways in which you can make a big impact upon the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile.

If you would like to find out more – then get in touch with me, Ken Norman at New Tricks Training!

Pitch Perfect – Tuning the Perfect Pitch

July 27, 2012 by

I was delighted to be asked to present at this year’s Venturefest in Oxford a couple of weeks ago.

Venturefest is a networking event held annually and focused on business creation. Over the day entrepreneurs seeking capital to start or grow their businesses network and give 15 minute presentations to an audience of investors – both venture capital companies and high net worth individuals actively seeking to invest. I was asked to give some guidance on pitching:

Some Dos:

Plan and prepare your pitch with the audience in mind – put yourself in their shoes: they are thinking “What’s in it For Me.” Point out what they get (rather than what you’re looking for!)

Structure your presentation well:

  • Overture (Many operas and symphonies begin with an attention grabbing start.) Open with a statement that motivates the audience to keep listening. (An overture to an opera includes snippets from the work that is to follow.) Share with your audience what’s coming up.
    (The content of the main body of your pitch will vary but may include “Finances, Competitors and Marketing Plan”) Suggest 3 “Acts”  (but no more than 5.)
    • Act 1
    • Act 2
    • Act 3
  • Finale (Reprise your main points)
Rehearse (Practice makes Perfect) A musician would never dream of going into a performance without rehearsing.
Create visual aids that are VISUAL (i.e have images, charts and graphs) and aid the audience understand the points you make.
Rehearse again.
Smarten up your appearance. Polish your shoes, do up your flies, if wearing one, tie your tie correctly, check your hair, remove dangly jewellery – remove distractions.
During your performance SMILE and make eye-conact with your audience.

Some Don’ts:

  • Read to your audience
  • Use PowerPoint as an auto-cue
  • Be “I” focussed. Too many pitches begin “I want…” “I am looking for…” ” I am seeking £45,000…” etc.
  • “Wing it”

Going Viral

July 19, 2012 by

Big Society Video Ken NormanLast year I had spectacular success using Social Media to highlight a concern at Chipping Norton Lido where I was a trustee. I made a four-minute long video detailing my experience of and reservations about “The Big Society” which I posted to YouTube. I then used my “Twitter” account to promote it.

One Friday afternoon I cleaned and tidied my office, positioned my web cam to achieve an “interesting” angle (i.e. not square-on to the computer screen) and spoke (in a one take) into the lens. To keep me on track I had some cues on post-it notes stuck up round the camera and on my desk (you can see me glance at them every now and then.) Using Apple’s “i-movie” I edited out the odd pause and added photos to illustrate the key points I was making (and to mask any really obvious stumbles over my lines!) Using the superbly simple apple mac software, I added titles and some intro music, and within an sixty-minutes I had uploaded the edited video onto YouTube.

I sent out a few tweets during the day  (generating 25 or so views from my own followers) and rescheduling the tweet (using Hootsuite)over the next 24 hours generated another 200 views.  It was truly exiting to see more and more people re-tweeting (or RT-ing) and watching the video over that weekend. By Monday I’d had 650 views and I thought it’d be good fun if I reached 1,600 views (the significance of this number we become clear if you watch the film!)

I then unwittingly  unleashed the extraordinary reach of Twitter. I simply used Twitter’s “search” facility to find other folk who had tweeted on “The Big Society”

I noticed tweets by Sunday Times journalist, India Knight, Dr Ben Goldacre and comedian Marcus Brigstocke all articulating their concerns (i.e. having a go) about Mr Cameron’s ideology. I replied to their tweets and in my reply included a link to my own little rant. “Brilliant point there Marcus! Have you seen this vid about The Big Society http://link.” These three wonderful people retweeted the link (they have 200,000 followers between them) and within two weeks my video had been viewed 9,000 times. India Knight said, “Watch Mr Angry of Chipping Norton make a fair point about The Big Society”. One of Iher followers was Alan Rusbridger (The Guardian’s Editor ) and he retweeted, “Watch this strangely compelling video” to his own 40,000 followers.

The results were astounding.

Marcus Brigstocke Twitter Feed

Marcus Brigstocke’s Twitter Feed

The video has now been seen by  12,600 people. The virility of the video also meant that it made page 1 of Google for the search term “Big Society” and that meant that I was bombarded with enquiries from journalists, researchers and the like. I’ve raised £1,250 of sponsorship from many who followed the link to my everyclick fundraising page included in the YouTube video. Mind you I had to run the Great North Run into the bargain.

Some people  pointed me to funding streams that proved useful, others just sent good wishes and moral support. As for The Lido we’ve had interviews with the Banbury Guardian, The Daily Mirror, The New York Times, BBC Radio 5 Live and The Guardian. Jeremy Clarkson wrote about us in his Sunday Times column one weekend. French Canadian Radio Television included in their film (due to be broadcast this September) The Lido as an example of The Big Society in action. All marvellous profile.

So, based on what I learned, here are my top tips for making and promoting a YouTube Video?

  • Plan and rehearse what you want to say
  • Include a call to action
  • Prepare to be contentious
  • Wear your heart on your sleeve
  • Be passionate and animated when speaking to camera
  • Use post-it notes as key word cues
  • Don’t worry about the odd verbal slip-up (I appear unable to say the word “thousand!”)
  • Set up the camera and room to look interesting
  • Add pictures, titles and music if possible
  • Add tags and links to the video description
  • Respond to comments
  • Tweet about it
  • Schedule different tweets at different times of the day
  • Identify others with an interest in your subject
  • Tweet them and ask for their view.
  • Be prepared to defend your view.
  • Thank people for their advice, views and/or recommendations.

If you’d like help constructing a video presentation, help with filming or editing – just give me a call on 0845 003 8175.

I’ve just witnessed a beige presentation…

March 6, 2012 by

Oh dear.

The speaker has just sat down and I am confused. I think it might have been interesting for some of the audience, there’s a brief ripple of applause. There again I think they’re just being polite. I’m not really sure what he just talked about. He’s overrun too, so there’s no time to ask a question. Everyone’s leaving.

He’s just underwhelmed me in a number of ways.

Firstly, he doesn’t seem terribly enthusiastic. Dale Carnegie once suggested that you should only speak about something for which you have a passion. This chap’s voice is flat and monotonous. He looks miserable too!

Secondly, he’s not really shared anything that was of use to me. No insight, no advice, no warning, no apocryphal tale, no heart-warming story, no tip, no offer… nothing. Just fact after fact after fact about his business – whatever it was.

Finally, he just finished rather abruptly.  He didn’t conclude his talk well – had he done so I might have had a fighting chance of letting you know what I’ve just been listening to.

That was a really “beige” presentation. I prefer mine kaleidoscopic!

  • Only speak about something for which you have a passion
  • Smiling helps convey enthusiasm (not a fixed grin though!)
  • Work at getting some variety in your voice
  • Share something of use with your audience (you may need to do some research to work out what that might be)
  • Conclude your talk by summarising your key points, and
  • Please finish on time.

If you’d like some help with putting together an interesting talk or presentation just get in touch!

Presenting is Distraction Management

March 2, 2012 by


I once ran a presentation skills course for The National Trust  on which one of my delegates was a forestry warden. In the presentation that he delivered he described forestry as being about “light management.” That phrase made me think about presenting in a different way. When you stand up to present – what is it that you have to manage?

Distraction… Presenting (it dawned on me) is about “distraction management.”

There are a myriad of ways in which your audience can be distracted.  Your role as a presenter or speaker is to limit the potential for these distractions to steal your audience’s attention away from you. Some distractions may be outside a speaker’s control but many are, unwittingly, caused by the speaker. Here then are the main distractions of which speakers and presenters fall foul.

1. Not being introduced or not introducing yourself properly. When people in an audience sit down they have many unanswered questions flying around their brain – one of which is, “Who is this?” and ” Why are they qualified to speak to me?” It’s an excellent idea to tell the audience your name (don’t just rely on PowerPoint or the printed programme) – most people don’t bother reading it. Qualify your experience in a short sentence or two. Don’t brag (I once saw a presenter who used PowerPoint to animate his qualifications  – one at a time –  after his name. This didn’t endear him to the audience. So, something along the lines of, “Well hello, Ladies & Gentlemen. Thank you so much for inviting me to speak today. My name is Roger Faraday and I have been practising employment law for the last 30 years…” If someone else is to introduce you – supply them with a script! (Otherwise they might say something that undermines you or what you have to say.) NEVER apologise for being the speaker: “I’m really not used to speaking in public…” or, “Our Managing Director has been called away on urgent business, so I’m afraid you’ve got me….”  are not phrases that an audience warms to and are ultimate distractions!

2. The audience not understanding, “what’s in it for them.” If someone in the audience doesn’t think the presentation you are about to give offers them something worth staying awake for, they’ll go to sleep. Not necessarily with their eyes shut but, they’ll be away with the fairies, day-dreaming about something more important. Early on in your presentation you need to motivate your audience to stay alert. Tell them what they’ll get out of your presentation. “So, by the time I’ve finished you’ll be able to….”

3. Not telling the audience for how long you’ll be speaking. People get twitchy if they don’t know when they can next go to the loo, have a fag, drink a coffee, hear the next speaker. etc. So, tell them for how long you’ll be speaking. Be specific. Nobody wants to hear, “so, in the next hour or so I’ll be covering…” or even, “Hopefully my presentation will last between fifteen and twenty minutes.” Hopefully is not a good word to use in your introduction! Having said how long you’ll be speaking for make sure you finish when you said you would (see number 8*.)

4. Typos in PowerPoint. Some people are incensed by spelling mistakes and other errors on your slides. For them this is a huge distraction and the only thing they’ll remember.

Flying low – distracting

5. Wardrobe malfunctions. If your flies are undone, or if your skirt is tucked ion your knickers, it’s very doubtful that many of your audience will hear much of what you say. Other wardrobe distractions include: dirty shoes; holes in the soles of your shoes;bulges in pockets; creased trousers/jackets; clashing colours; flamboyant ties; trailing threads; ties tied to the wrong length (see my blog The Tie as a Giant Arrow to discover the correct length); frayed cuffs; dangly, jangly jewellery. In a similar vein there’s unkempt hair (especially if there’s a bit sticking up) which can keep an audience fascinated for the duration of your talk.

6. The Gestalt Effect.  This is all about the little things that can visually annoy the hell out of people: crooked pictures on the wall; torn curtains on a stage; your slide show not being square (or worse still – spilling over the screen.) Before you start have a good look around and have a tidy up!

7. Other PowerPoint faux pas  We’ve looked at typos but there are a host of other ways in which PowerPoint can distract your audience:

  • too many words (20 a slide should do it)
  • slide numbers (it’s not good for an audience to read  “Slide 4 of 89” fifteen minutes into your twenty-minute presentation
  • being read to (audiences hate this and will hate you to if you turn your back to them and read what they can read for themselves
  • the phrase “as you can see” when they clearly can’t
  • the phrase “don’t bother reading that” – they’ll wonder why you couldn’t be bothered to edit it
  • animations for animation’s sake (especially when accompanied by the sound effects of type-writers or screeching tires.)

8. *Overrunning This drives an audience around the bend. Unless you’re Lee Evans, Ken Dodd or Billy Connelly, and the room is full of your adoring fans, they’d rather you finished on time. Honestly. Finish early and they’ll love you!

9. Fiddling It’s not a good idea to play with your jewellery; jangle the keys or coins in your pocket; keep pushing your sleeves up; twiddling your hair; scratching etc. You get the picture.

So, before you take to the stage, or the front of a boardroom, or even making a video for YouTube think about how you’re going to keep your audience’s attention and do all that you can to minimise any distractions.

In the meantime please share any stories about the ways in which speakers have distracted you? I’d love to hear about them!

Remember, remember…techniques for remembering your presentation

February 24, 2012 by

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

In my last blog post I looked at some techniques to help you out should you lose your place or simply “go blank” when giving a presentation. In this blog post I’ll be sharing a technique that I use to help me remember a list of up to ten things very quickly. The technique I want to show you is called “pegging.” The more you use the technique the better you get. I use it regularly to remember the headlines of my talk or the order of jokes for my stand-up routine.

The idea is that (in your mind’s eye) you “peg” what it is you are trying to remember to a number. There are three stages to this:

Stage 1

The Rhyming Pegging System

Substitute numbers with something visual. I use a rhyming system whereby each number from 1 – 10 is replaced with something that rhymes with it. Hence:

1 = Run
2 = Zoo
3 = Tree
4 = Door
5 = Hive
6 = Sticks
7 = Devon
8 = Gate
9 = Wine
10 = Hen

Most people can master Stage one in a matter of seconds.

Stage 2

Decide on the ten things you need to remember, (this could be headings for your presentation.) List them alongside the numbers. Here I’m going to use a list of random words:

1 = Marketing
2 = Car Wash
3 = Bathrobe
4 = Money
5 = Map
6 = Fountain
7 = Lifeguard
8 = Banana
9 = Valentine’s Day
10 = Treacle

Stage 3

“Peg” or link your word to the number substitute by visualisation.*

1. So, you need to link your word Marketing to the word Run. Picture yourself running along through a busy market handing out Marketing leaflets. You’re wearing a running vest that says “Marketing” on the front. There you get the picture (forgive the pun.) Now when you think “One” the word Marketing should pop into your brain.

Continuing with the list

2. Picture elephants at a Zoo – washing cars with their trunks.

3. Visualise a Bathrobe hanging high in a tree.

4. In your mind’s eye open a door and imagine the joy of finding a large sum of money behind it.

5. Imagine a group of bees studying a map – they’ve lost the way to their hive.

6. See a fountain with huge jets of water shooting up into the sky. You notice a bundle of sticks being held up in the air by the force of the water.

7. Picture laying on a sandy a beach in Devon. A lifeguard meets your eye!

8. There’s an ornate wrought iron gate with a banana impaled on each of its spikes

9. Visualise a wine bottle – on it’s label there’s a huge heart symbolising Valentine’s Day. See yourself enjoying a glass of the wine with your Valentine.

10. Picture a hen having difficulty walking. She’s stuck in a river of treacle.

Simply recall the number rhymes and you’ll recall the pegged “answers”

*Tony Buzan the master of memory suggests that you do more than visualise – that you employ as many senses as possible when linking the number rhyme to your object. So. Hear the hen clucking furiously as she struggles to get out of the treacle.

Seems mad! But it’s almost impossible to forget your list once you’ve learned it. I find it tremendously useful when delivering a presentation. I hope you do too.

For Fear of Forgetting… what can you do if you forget your presentation?

February 17, 2012 by

Comedians write on their hands…

When you stand up to speak at a seminar, conference or even at a team meeting, do you ever worry that you’re going to forget what to say? That’s not surprising – it’s a key concern that most people have and often cited as a common side effect of nerves.

Unfortunately, the way in which most people find their way around this problem, ends up working against them… PowerPoint. Yes, most people type out their script, using PowerPoint as an auto-cue, and then proceed to read it to their audience.  Let me tell you… audiences hate being read to. You should avoid this approach.

So, the problem remains – how do you ensure you won’t forget the content of your talk? Over the next couple of blog posts I’ll be sharing with you some of the strategies that great speakers use in order to solve this little conundrum.

The obvious answer is to learn your material. Rehearse it over and over again.  Not just in your head, but, out loud. We learn things “parrot fashion” and the act of constant repetition definitely helps.

But even then, nerves alone can make you “go blank.”  It can happen to anyone. You just need to find a way out of the problem should that happen!

Frank Dick OBE

I once had the privilege of working with Frank Dick OBE – the former British Athletics Federation’s Director of Coaching. Frank is much in demand and is a brilliant motivational speaker. Travelling with him between venues I said, “Goodness, you have a fantastic memory. You never forget your material.” He replied, “I often forget my material! When I do, I make out that I’ve just thought of something funny – I stop and I tell a little joke (I have loads I keep up my sleeve) and as I’m telling it I wander back to my notes. As the audience laugh at the punch line I sneak a peek at my notes and… I’m off again.”

So, have your notes to hand. Notes you can call on should you lose your place, or forget your lines. Best not to have these written on your hand (a trick adopted by many a stand-up comedian) as they are evident to the audience and don’t look terribly professional.

If you are speaking from a lectern you can have an A4 pad before you, but personally  I like to use index cards. Viewed side on they are quite unobtrusive and they fit nicely inside a pocket.  The secret though, whatever you choose, is to write just key words as notes. Use only a few key words to keep you on track.  If you write out your script in full the temptation will be to read it. To connect with your audience you need to maintain eye-contact– reading does not help! If you do “go blank” you need to find your place quickly. You do not want to read through an essay in order to get back on track. Keep your notes short.

Index Cards best for notes

I keep my notes in my inside jacket pocket. If I lose my place I’ll sometimes admit it (we are all human – it’s going to happen every now and then.)  I’ll say, “Ladies and Gentlemen… do you ever get half way through a sentence and completely forget what you’re going to say next? Well it’s just happened to me now! I haven’t a clue what comes next… just bear with me…” I calmly take out my notes slowly look through them till I’ve found my place say, “Ah, yes of course…” and simply continue. Most people don’t even register what happened.

In my next blog post I’ll be sharing with you a memory technique that I use for learning things quickly. I serves me really well, not only when I’m out and about delivering keynote talks but also if I find myself without paper and pen but I need to remember what I’ve just heard or even thought.

In the meantime If you have some tips or tricks for keeping your presentation on track please share them here – I’d love to hear them.

Are Rain Makers born or are they made?

February 10, 2012 by
Rain Making

Rain Making?

There are many clichés and adages in sales training; “People buy from people they know, like and trust” is one of my favourites – because it’s so true.  The key job for all of us who have a product or service to sell is to become known, liked and trusted in our market place.

There are many ways in which you can do this, including:

  • writing blogs and articles
  • giving presentations
  • staying in touch with clients after the job is done
  • developing questioning and listening skills
  • becoming astute at spotting opportunities
  • and networking.

Ford Harding, the man who coined the phrase “Rain Making” to describe the processes needed to generate good quality leads, recommends all of the above. A “rain maker” brings in more business to her firm than she can service herself. Any business would love to have more Rain Makers in its employ.

Harding makes the point in the introduction to his book “Rain Making” that “whilst many firms offer in-house training on technical issues… marketing & sales training is…” and I quote, “…spotty.”

Out Networking

Working the Room?

When we go networking we see that not everyone is good at it.  Many actually undermine their likeability, trustworthiness to a point where people just don’t want to know them! It’s often because they put too much pressure on themselves to sell. They don’t. They get frustrated. They give up.

At New Tricks we train people to network properly… we help to create Rain Makers.

Our top tips for Networkers include:

  • Rather than focussing on generating business, first focus on becoming known, liked and trusted.  It’s unlikely business will flow until those qualities are established.
  • Develop a succinct “elevator pitch” that describes how you help your clients– rather than just listing what you and your firm do!
  • Get there early – it’s much easier to introduce yourself to new arrivals.
  • Smile, say “hello” and ask lots of questions
  • Target yourself to meet at least five new people and to find out what they do. Look for a co-incidence
  • Make an effort to remember and use people’s names in conversation – it impresses and really help establish rapport
  • Follow-up with people you’ve met – a “follow-up cup of coffee” is a more realistically achievable outcome than a bit of business.

For other blog posts on Networking see How to remember People’s Names and Are you Networking or Just Connecting

I recommend the latest edition of Ford Harding’s book Rainmaking: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field – here’s what others thought.

Please buy it from your local Independent Bookshop though. Mine’s Jaffé & Neale

I say, I say I say… What did the presenter learn from the comedian?

February 3, 2012 by

In the past year I have, with a good friend of mine, Dave Arnold, set up the very successful Cotswold Comedy Club. We’ve run 8 gigs and seen twenty five excellent comedians. As a presentation skills trainer I watch them intently and I always learn from them. Here then are the Ten Top Tips that presenters can learn from stand-up comedians!

Your audience

1)   The “performance” begins from the second an audience claps eyes on you! Comedians work on their approach to the microphone and ooze confidence. They eyeball the audience, smile (unless it’s Jack Dee of course) and start with a welcoming “Hello” “Hiya” or “Good evening.” They then… wait for it… wait for the audience to say “Hello” back! Presenters should do the same.

Ed Aczel

2)   Comedians don’t bother with PowerPoint. Neither should you (unless you really can’t explain something without it!) Ed Aczel uses a flip-chart, badly (intentionally) for comedic effect. Most presenters use PowerPoint as an autocue – comedians don’t.  Some write on the back of their hand (that doesn’t look too professional) but most just learn their material and rehearse lots. Presenters take heed.


3)   The very best comedians engage with their audience. They ask questions, they allow the audience to interact. The audience has a say in where the act goes. Yianni Agisilou banters with his audience but maintains control of the flow and direction of his act. Presenters should engage their audience too.

Gary Delaney

5)   The best comedians pare down the words in their act to an absolute minimum. Gary Delaney has mastered the one-line gag format in a really economical way – there’s no “fat” in his act. A presenter should work at simplifying their message and cutting out anything extraneous. Gary is also adept at tip number six:

6)   Read the feedback from your audience; adapt and change your material accordingly.

Jonny Aswum

7)   The comedians that go down well with our audiences are those who are, smiley, enthusiastic and seem genuinely pleased to be there. Jonny Awsum is a tremendous example. Presenters should be enthusiastic – if not passionate about what they are presenting.

8)   Comedy is a serious business and those who are serious about getting on perform as many gigs as they can and learn from every one. If a comedian is any good it’s because they’ve had hours in front of an audience. It’s the same for presenting.

Milo McCabe
Chris McCauseland

9)   Two of my favourite comedians Milo McCabe and Chris McCausland are masters of the… “pause.” Pausing allows the audience to catch up, reflect on what’s just been said and gives you thinking time too.

10) Great comedians rarely outstay their welcome and often leave the audience wanting more. If things aren’t going well – they get off quick! Presenters should do the same.

The A-F of Time Management

December 7, 2011 by

Time Management keynote TalkWe recently spoke at a meeting of the Association of Accounting Technicians on the subject of time management.  We’ve run many training sessions over the years on this subject but this talk was based upon the system that we use ourselves generated by our own experience and with elements of systems proposed by others, in particular ‘Getting Things Done’ by productivity consultant David Allen.  Business is not getting any easier and so, it is now more vital than ever to squeeze the most out of every minute and to do that you do need to have a system in place. Ours is as easy as ABC… DE and F and this is a synopsis of the presentation.

A is for A system. Find a system that works for you and stick with it. Much has been written on the subject. There are some great thoughts within Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, John Adair’s “Effective Time Management”, Brian Tracey’s “Eat that Frog” and of course “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. You’ll find on the internet a proliferation of blogs and websites on the subject. We particularly like the collective knowledge and thoughts within Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done” primarily because we are so familiar with one of the key tools within the system. Back in our days working in a bank every branch ran like clockwork by virtue of 43 Folders.  In the Sub-Manager’s filing cabinet was a diary system consisting of these 43 folders. There is a folder for each one of the 31 days in a month and another for each of the 12 months adding up to 43 folders in total. When deferring your stuff you literally put it into one of the folders! Then on the relevant day (or better still the day before) you get out your stuff and Do it on the due date! Brilliant.

Dave Allen’s prescribed flow-chart for dealing with your stuff is really easy to follow and you’ll find it in his book.

B stands for bucket, because one of the most important elements of effective time management is that you work on one thing at a time and do not have a desk littered with items that you flit between.  To achieve this, everything needs neatly storing and prioritising in buckets – well if not actual buckets, files & folders, both real & virtual. The first and most important ‘bucket’ is your in-tray.  This is the starting point for all the ‘stuff’ that you have to deal with. Once your life is under control it will only contain items that have arrived that day but to start with it could be a towering heap that needs tackling using The System.  You may actually have two in-trays; one on your desk and a virtual one on your PC but the way that you move stuff along remains the same. Some people print out their e-mails and place them in the live system.

Let’s look at the first three buckets which are for stuff you are not going to action:

The Waste Bin – Seriously, if you are never going to action or refer back to an item, bin it.

The Tickler File – This is for things that you might do one day. Put them all in one place off your desk and clear it out regularly.

The Reference File – This is the place for information items which require no action but which you wish to keep for future reference. File them in a logical way so that you can retrieve them when you want them.

The 43 Folders system requires one drawer in a filing cabinet and more of that later.

There – the desk looks better already!

C is for Consciousness! Be conscious of time passing. Make sure you can see a clock! Better still use a timer to set yourself deadlines! Put yourself under pressure to get things done quickly. So, be conscious of the passage of time and how quickly it takes you to do things. Log how long it actually takes you to do things and cross reference with your plan. This will make you better at judging how long tasks take.
C is also for Chunking… i.e. break down big tasks into bite-sized chunks… “By the yard its hard, by the inch it’s a synch!” Within Dave Allen’s system this is about deciding if a particular task is actually a project – which needs planning. Once planned and “chunked” into smaller tasks – then these are put back in the system for processing and actioning.

D is Do, Delegate or Defer. Now, looking at what is left in our in-tray we need to make some more decisions.

If we can deal with something in 2 minutes or less, just do it. Simple

If there is a task which we should delegate, then delegate it using all the rules of good delegation, in particular remember that we delegate the work and not the responsibility.

There will almost certainly be some items that need to be done but not today. In order to get these off the desk you need a good diary system – the 43 folders. If today is 1 December and I have something that I need to action on 10 December it goes in the “10” folder.  If I decide to defer it until January, it goes in the January folder.  At the end of December I simply empty the “January Folder” and move the items into the folder appropriate for the day it needs to be done.

We are now left with the items to be tackled today and these can be prioritised and worked through efficiently because all the clutter has been removed.

E is for Eliminate or, as we prefer: EXTERMINATE! Get rid of tasks that you do but don’t need to do. They might be fun but unless they are helping you achieve your Aims & Objectives then they are just wasting your time. Tidy up! Throw out all paper you haven’t touched recently! File your heaps into their appropriate buckets and remember to recycle where possible. It’s a great feeling getting rid of paper! And don’t forget to use the trash-can that comes with your e-mail programme. Set yourself a target of dumping 10% of unwanted e-mails every day!

F is for Frog. Yes frog. With thanks to another great book, this one by Brian Tracey called “Eat That Frog!” The point is here that in everyone’s life there are things that they just don’t like doing. For most of us that will include eating Frogs! In work terms it means that task which keeps getting put off because you don’t want to do it. For many people that could be planning and preparing for a presentation that they don’t want to give. Because it gets put off, it is often rushed and, as a result, is not a triumph so the whole thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may not want to do it but if the frog has to be eaten, do it, get it out of the way and you will feel so relieved to have it behind you. If you have two frogs on your desk, eat the ugly one first!

So, there you have it – our A-F observations on time management – just scratching the surface of a huge subject. If we could add another letter it would be O as in “Oh for Objectives” making sure your objectives are absolutely clear will enable you to assess the relevance of much of the “Stuff” you start off thinking you have to do!

If you’d like to see what we have to say about “Tie Management” then that’s another blog!