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Pressure is on for engineers to communicate face-to-face

October 30, 2009 Leave a comment

MIT created this undergraduate program focused on “people skills” in response to industry pressures to produce engineers who are as skilled at communicating face-to-face as they are at writing complicated computer codes on their own.

A great industry example of why the courses in myLearning are VERY applicable to your job!

Read the report here.

KristinMeezHeadshot66x66

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You Don’t Know How to E-Mail

October 27, 2009 2 comments

I’d say my biggest gripe at the office is our persistent and abundant inability to effectively communicate via e-mail.  I say “our” because I’m guilty of this, too. Two things got me thinking about this today:

  1. I received an email with a blank subject line
  2. Then I received an email sharing Erik Goodlad’s “5 min/20 Slides” presentation at Ignite Boise about managing emails

Hear me for a minute: if you’re swamped with emails, so are your co-workers, manager, and most importantly… your clients and subject matter experts.  By following some of the tips from Mike Song’s book, The Hamster Revolution, you’ll communicate better and do a better job managing your emails.

Check out Erik’s presentation, too:

What’s The Cost of Misinterpreted Messages?

“What’s the cost of misinterpreted messages?  Like a serve and return, innovation has two core foundational elements:  learning and communication.  New processes and discoveries must be learned and continuously better-communicated. ”  Mike Koper

Read the full article here:  11 Tips on Talk, Improving Communication Improves Human Performance.

What is an example (work or personal) where a mis-communication was costly?  What is your estimate of how much time or money it cost you or your organization?

Your Title is NOT an Exemption

September 1, 2009 3 comments

Nothing frustrates employees more than supervisors, and particularly an org’s top leaders, who feel as though they are above the standards they set for others.  Managers who think this routinely drop the ball on projects, see a high turnover of staff, and often wonder why the team isn’t performing to its potential.

Examples I’ve personally experienced include:

  • asking subordinates to work late on a Friday to meet a deadline… and promptly leaving at 3:15 for “coffee”… and not coming back to the office until Monday at 10am.
  • scheduling “mandatory” meetings to get a project moving forward, only to schedule something else at the same time and attempt to play double-duty in both meetings. (Please don’t ever attempt to “run” meetings you don’t plan to attend!!)
  • making every request seem like a critical fire that needs immediate attention… and you work your butt off only to find out that it was only critical b/c the boss dropped the ball a few weeks ago by not passing the information along to the team at the appropriate time.

Read more from LeadStar:

Lead Star | News and Insights | On Our Minds | Title is Not an Exemption

~Kristin

All Things Workplace: Four Ways to Help People Learn

August 12, 2009 2 comments

Handling a promotion | IT Leadership | TechRepublic.com

August 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Recently promoted and ready to make some changes

I was recently promoted and now oversee the team that I’ve been a part of for 3 years. I’m glad to have the opportunity and want to make some changes of responsibility to increase our overall results. Additionally I know this isn’t going to sit well with a couple of individuals who will feel that they’ve lost some of their power (which is true). I want these changes to be as well received as possible and don’t want to create a bunch of negativity which might have the opposite effect. Suggestions?

– Cheryl in Sarasota, CA

This kind of problem is my favorite, because it’s all about human beings, and it can be resolved quickly, unlike a profit shortfall or major technical failure, both of which would usually require a lot of money, time, and committee meetings.

There are many books on the topic of leadership, but they go in and out of fashion with the frequency of teen girls’ clothing trends. I rarely come across one with real “nuts and bolts” tips to help someone move smoothly into a new job, but I think Kenneth Blanchard’s Leadership and the One Minute Manager holds up well even 10 years after it was written. It may provide you with some inspiration.

In most management situations, a lot of the hassles can be avoided if the boss would just take some time to treat team members with a little dignity and empathy. Unfortunately, most bosses are not that mentally honest. They avoid having the “tough discussions” hoping that people will get over it. But, that just makes things worse.

I suggest that you deal with this potential issue head-on: That means laying the groundwork and doing some pro-active damage control before making the general announcement. Schedule a time to talk one-on-one with those who are going to lose some of their scope. Let them understand that it’s non negotiable, but that you still value them and want their suggestions about how they could make the best contributions going forward. You might be surprised with their suggestions; some may even be really good.

Importantly, by talking to them beforehand, you show that you’ve got leadership skills and aren’t afraid to face challenging issues. Others will hear about what you did, and it will reinforce your new role. You’ll feel good about how you dealt with it, which will make you stronger. It’s a circle-of-success thing.

Congratulations on the promotion Cheryl. And now, as you’ve realized, it’s time to show why you deserve this new leadership role.

—————————

If you have a leadership question or need some advice on a leadership topic, email John at enews6@techrepublic.com with “Leadership Coach” as your subject line.

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.

How to Give a Killer Online Presentation | The Corner Office | BNET

By Steve Tobak on July 30, 2009

As an early adopter of WebEx (now owned by Cisco) about a decade ago, I grappled with the unique challenges of presenting without being able to visually connect with your audience. Training, virtual, sales, multinational, board of directors, webinars, more and more meetings are done via the Web. So when I received an email (excerpted below) from a reader the other day, it got my attention:

My normal presentation venue is an online meeting without video conferencing – other than PowerPoint and screen sharing. While reading your post, How to Give a Killer Presentation, I kept thinking about the difficult challenges online meetings present such as the inability to read body language, not knowing when participants are having side conversations, and all the associated challenges that arise when you cannot see and visually interact with your audience.

So, do you have advice for giving killer online presentations using service providers such at GoToMeeting and WebEx?

Jerry Anderson

I sure do. Here are 7 Tips for Giving a Killer Online Presentation:

  • Gratuitous analogy. Movies can direct viewer’s attention using the camera. Theater doesn’t have that luxury, so stage actors use voice and other tactics. Online presenting isn’t much different. To direct your audience’s attention and get them to engage without the benefit of visual cues, you have to go a little over the top.
  • Keep your energy level up. It may feel a little exaggerated at first, but you’ll get used to it. Be animated. Make big verbal gestures, statements, or rhetorical questions from time to time. Being a little funny or dramatic will help people remember what you’re telling them. It’s surprising what holds people’s attention.
  • Tell anecdotes. I know, if it’s a technical or training presentation that may seem odd or out of place, but it’s not. People passionate about a subject or experts in a field can usually point to an engaging teacher in their youth, and it usually involved funny or dramatic anecdotes or stories.
  • Modulate your voice. If it doesn’t come naturally, learn to modulate your voice and practice. Take a voice class if you have to. Ask associates to sit in on your presentation and be critical. Tape it and listen for yourself.
  • Ask engaging questions. Ask unusually engaging questions. I’m not kidding. Come up with a few zingers the night before and use them. Also use out-of-the-blue analogies to different industries or activities (like I did here with acting … you think it’s easy engaging an audience just with words?). If your audience isn’t in “speaking” mode, then rhetorical questions work just as well. But stop short of standup comedy, okay?
  • Pause for emphasis. Nothing’s worse than a presentation where the speaker drones on and on from point to point, slide to slide, without pause. Pause is the most dramatic way to emphasize a point. Practice getting comfortable with it.
  • Avoid “slide show” speak. Direct the audience’s attention conversationally, sort of like this, “there’s a cool diagram on slide 8 that attempts to explain …” instead of the usual, “on the next slide …”

Well, the blog experts say I’ve lost your attention beyond 500 words, so I’m done here. But I’m sure all you online presenting experts can help Jerry and everyone else out with some of your own tips, so fire away.