Positive Words – Business Communications in a Positive Way

Strategy Plan One

June 11, 2012 

positive wordsPositive Words in your Communications

The use of terms and tone in the business can change the conversation.  Using negative tone and terminology will get you nowhere and most likely, you receive negativity back.

 

 

Changing the conversation to use positive, constructive words will keep parties engaged in conversation, and the creative feedback will continue to roll out.

From reviewing a cross-section of personal development and positive thinking views, here are some positive terms forming the following Positive Words Cloud.

champion intelligent brilliant creative motivator

passionate encourage empower balance dedicated

organized responsible accountable calm controlled empathetic

sympathetic worthwhile valued valuable synergy synergistic energetic

caring unbiased informed inclusive team diverse abstract colorful

dynamic persuasive determined ambitious professional clear concise

meaningful upbeat willing able share passion constructive

 forward-thinking kind lead volunteer carry mobilize

developing building leader strategist

 

Coincidentally, some of these terms match up with traits and characteristics of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders.  Can you think of terms to add?

Pull down a word out of this cloud and insert into your discussions with staff, colleagues, partners, investors, and clients.  Think more on the positive, constructive side when discussions are going off track.  For instance, you may want to respond to a team member that provided an off-base suggestion with, “thanks for your creative suggestions that may inform our decisions moving forward” or “thank you for your valued input”.

Remember to use respectful dialogue, use manners, and just be all-around nice in communications.  There are strategies to handle communications, whether those communications are constructive or just difficult.

The recommendation to use positive, constructive words would build into the notion of supporting and encouraging open communication in your organization, and that all feedback is encouraged.  If open, the ideas, suggestions and recommendations will continue to be cranked out by all, and some of those off-base suggestions may soon turn into dynamic game-changer recommendations.

Relevant blogs and articles you may find interesting:

Positive Words, Positive Communications links:

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© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Presentation Tips for Business Meetings and Interviews

Strategy Plan One

May 30, 2012 

presentation tipsPresentation Tips

Whether you are going into a business meeting, interview for job, or to pitch an idea to an investor or financial institution, there are certain tactics that could push your presentation from mediocre to brilliant.  It’s not necessarily the gadgets, techie presentation tools you bring along to illustrate your points, but rather how you present and what you do in the presentation to convince the crowd.  Here are some tips to assist in your presentations.

Knowledge is King

Ensure you are well versed in the subject matter.  If you are pitching an idea in an industry, know that product, industry and markets inside and out.  Conducting deep research and digging into as much information prior is going to make you look like you know your stuff… and that will impress the audience

If you are going into an interview, know the information around the position, company, and industry.  Chances are you will be slammed with knowledge questions in the interview and your presentation of answers should demonstrate your deep knowledge in the subject matter.

Presentation Tip – Be Clear and Concise

Oral presentation can be stressful, and that stress can cause some to ramble on with too much speech, or technical babble that would throw off the audience.  Going into a meeting well prepared through practicing your presentation, ensure you get your message right down to the exact clear points to the audience.  Speak with clarity on the topic, illustrating the benefits you want and need to present, that would be relevant to the audience.  Keep the non-relevant stuff off the discussion.  As you remember who your audience is, keep the technical or operational specialist information to a minimum if the audience isn’t at that technical level.  If technical questions are asked, then it opens the door for that detailed discussion.

presentation tipsPresentation Tip – Confidence

You will need to exude a high level of confidence in front of the Boards, partners, or employers.  Confidence is high when you know your stuff, have a great track record, know that your personality is right fit.  With high confidence you should not be sheepish in promoting yourself, your strengths and your great ideas.  External interested parties gravitate to persons with a high level of confidence as that will transfer over to other aspects of business life.  Once parties are confident in you, they will be confident in your ability to lead projects, lead organizations, achieve goals and company objectives.

Be Strong, Composed and Limit Emotions

Interviews and business meetings are pressured, stressful situations.  These parties may use interviews or business presentations as a tools to see how well you react under pressure.  Business presentations and interviews can be full of questioning that is trying to draw out behavioral responses from you.  It is best to stay strong and composed to adequately answer questioning.  In staying composed in the stressful situations, you are limiting those emotions that may alter or hinder your ability to make decisions or achieve a goal under pressure.  Parties will take positive notes on your ability to handle high pressured situations with ease.

Ability to Adapt

As you move forward in your discussions and presentations, gauge your audience. How well is it going?  Don’t be afraid to stop at points and ask the questions, “Was that point clear?” or “Is further discussion or detail required on that point?”.  As an astute presenter and speaker you may need to revise your speech, your presentation methods on the fly to get a differing response or to motivate the crowd in another way.  If you are getting negative responses in one area or topic, switch gears to adapt to discuss the constructive positive points or benefits, or have the ability to discuss the alternate pathways to mitigate those negative points.

Preparedness with Contingencies

Along with having a solid knowledge base and that strong confidence level, you will need to show how well prepared you are for situations, and how well you plan.  For interviews or business presentations, you need to undertake a high level of preparation in advance.  Thinking along the lines of business scenarios that may arise.  Not only must you prepare for the known circumstances, but you must be a pro-active planner around the unknowns or the what-ifs.  Demonstrating that you solidly analyze scenarios and develop action plans and contingencies will win you big bonus points.

Articles and blogs you may be interested in:

Communication and presentation information:

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Use of Social Media for Marketing, and Those Other Marketing Activities

Strategy Plan One

May 4, 2012 

Use of social mediaUse of Social Media for Marketing

Gone is the traditional method of advertising in the newspaper and radio and in with current social media marketing and advertising platforms.  Or are those methods gone?

For sure social media is in and it continues to grow exponentially.  Just when you thought user bases were leveling out, a new interest in a platform keeps the level of growth consistent.  It seems every week a new wave of more interesting social media platforms emerge.  However, business owners must not forget the other forms of marketing that would add value to the marketing mix.

Social media marketing involves the promotion and attention of your business, and engagement between users of social media platforms and your business’ products and services.  The use of social media for marketing would be the purpose of gaining traffic and attention to your business.

Whether through short bursts of information using Twitter or detailed Facebook or LinkedIn pages, the absolute benefit to businesses using social media, is that information can be shared quickly across massive audiences.  It has been a business to consumer and business to business trend over the past era, but not known if this marketing trend will be long-lasting.  If it will be long-lasting, social media marketing may evolve as fast as the whole social media industry itself is evolving.

Marketing Activities – Considerations other than Social Media

Marketing plans could be chalked full of a mix of marketing activities, new and traditional forms.  An entrepreneur should dig into developing activities that would be applicable to promoting and getting out the appropriate message on their own product and service mix.  Yes, social media may work to a certain extent, but may not be the best avenue for local, personal marketing for example.  Entrepreneurs may have to consider forms of advertising and that promote products and service in person, such as trade shows, and promotional events.  Differing from social media marketing, trade show events give you the ability to showcase products and services to masses of potential customers, with colourful, interactive displays manned by representatives (actual people) promoting the business.

Marketing Plans

When developing detailed business and marketing plans, consider the mix the marketing activities based on your intended audience, and what type of method you will use to effectively engage with your audience and raise attention.  You may find social media works well in junction with other forms of marketing activities.  Carefully weigh your options for marketing activities and measure results from activities.  Best results may occur when revising your marketing activities mix.

 

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Color and Design – Factors Influencing Commerce [Infographic]

Strategy Plan One

April 14, 2012 

Color and Design

Many factors influence how, when, where and what we buy in the marketplace.  Marketing plays a key role in tapping into these cues, and utilizing them out front to build a more richer, more powerful message to the consumer.  Making the powerful message resonate with the consumer more will result in a deeper connection, relationship and eventually sales and revenue.

This infographic from KissMetrics digs deep and illustrates color and design, and other factors that influence our purchase decision-making process.

Color and Design Facts

Interesting facts to note from this infographic on color and design influences:

  • 93% of consumers place visual appearance as the primary factor in purchasing
  • 85% state color as the primary visual factor
  • Color influences brand recognition by 80% (confidence factor)
  • Online shopping – 42% based an opinion of a website on its overall design
  • Webpage load time factor / correlation:  longer load times result in decreased sales
  • Different colors have different effects/purposes: Blue – security/business, Red – Sales, Yellow – optimistic/youth

color and design

When developing your marketing plan and marketing activities, use the appropriate color and design for maximum impact and benefits.  You may have to complete some market testing with color and design in your products and services.

 

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

The Right Body Language and Attitude Integral to Success

Strategy Plan One

April 6, 2012 

reading body languageReading Body Language

As an entrepreneur, business owner or professional, body language and attitude become critically important in face-to-face meetings.  It can be the difference between success and failure.  In reading body language, physical cues and tones in speech  can signal a leader, partner or customer a certain way and trigger a response accordingly.

It is best to create and to exude a positive image and body language, which will in most case, trigger more positive responses than negative ones.  On the flip side, you can imagine what type of response you will get from a partner or customer reading body language that is unfriendly, appears uninterested, full of inappropriate gestures, and is all around negative.

Body language will tell people, for example, if you are interested, alert, attentive, happy, relaxed, angry, aggressive or bored.  Body language is one of the non-verbal signals that you will give off to create or not create a great impression.  Body language from some reports accounts for ~ 90% of all communications between parties, and hence the importance when reading body language of individuals.

reading body languageReading Body Language – Body Language Signs

First impressions are everything.  A leader, investor or partner will observe your initial behaviours, immediately reading body language you exude.

It may not matter who you are, but how you behave in a professional manner in an initial meeting.  A leader or investor may be looking to meet with you to determine what type of person you are, how professional you are, and how you fit in to meet common objectives and goals.

Carefully observe and be cognizant of how you are in a meeting.  Closed body stances such as cross arms or postures pointing away from clients are problematic and show behavior hinging on avoidance, non-acceptance and non-openness.  Appropriate upright body stances towards the participant help in saying you are interested in the person, topic, goal, and that you are genuine and there to assist or join in.  If you are slouched over, leaning to one side or using the advantages of ergonomic chairs to lean way back, chances are you are giving the wrong signal in that you are not interested, you are not serious, or that you are not listening and engaged in conversation.

Reading Body Language – Eye Contact

Eye contact with the in-house audience is critically important in making a connection with the people there.  Good eye contact will inform the audience, leaders, and partners that you are genuinely interested.  Great eye contact strengthens the communication and connection between two people, and creates a richer communication experience.  If you don’t maintain frequent eye contact, parties may be receiving a signal that you are not interested.  It is also distracting when speakers or listeners’ eyes and body wander all over the place.

Reading Body Language – Hand Gestures

Watch and ensure appropriate hand gestures are made by you.  Hand waving and arm flaying motions may set a negative cues, whereas slight hand movements emphasizing points may be appropriate.  Another blog could be written on appropriate hand and body gestures applicable to in business environments where the culture is different that North America.  Be sure you seek advice about conduct in face-to-face meetings in other countries.   Selfgrowth.com has some additional great tips on body language.

Reading Body Language – Attitude

Go in with a positive attitude, even though is some circumstances you may not agree or want to be there.   As mentioned staying positive will rub off on others and you will most likely receive a positive response.  In some cases, you may even experience a constructive, negative response which may be as good as a positive response.  Coming in with a negative attitude will spell immediate failure in negotiations, handling difficult challenges, or in building relationships.

In some cases, you need to be a good actor, for the good of the company and your fellow colleagues.  You may need to exude the positive, as your actions may impact many others in the organization…remember that.

Reading Body Language – Tips for Body Language, Attitude and Presence 

  • Be prepared and be professional for first impressions
  • Look and act interested
  • Engage in conversation
  • Be polite, be courteous
  • Showcase your best and what you have to offer as a person and professional
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion
  • Facial expressions – anything neutral to slight smiles signals the positive
  • Keep an upright stature, whether sitting or standing
  • Do not slouch, lean, rock, swing in chairs
  • Provide slight body and hand gestures; aggressive motions – negative
  • Use slight gestures to emphasis points
  • Watch you tone in speech and watch language
  • Ensure you use the right body signals, language for the right cultural environment

In the global, highly competitive world, you as an aggressive entrepreneur need to make positive immediate impacts with customers, partners and other successful business owners.   Similar to business planning processes, plan in your head how you will act and behave in face-to-face meeting to successfully negotiate and win over people.

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Mommy Blogger Domination [Infographic]

Strategy Plan One

March 29, 2012 

The big business world of Mommy Blogging is illustrated brilliantly in this infographic below, courtesy of infographicsarchive.com.

Mommy blogger huge numbers:

  • 4.2 Million Mommy bloggers and growing  
  • 33% of bloggers are Moms
  • Social Media – 79% of Moms are active on social media
  • Over 81 Million women active in social media on a weekly basis
  • US Moms spend $2.1 Trillion per year

mommy blog

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Strategies for Handling Difficult Conversations

Strategy Plan One

March 28, 2012 

difficult conversationsDifficult Conversations

As leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners, we have all encountered scenarios, difficult scenarios, where the conversation with staff, partners, customers or contractors has been rough or will be rough.

 

Certain techniques will help in alleviating difficult conversations and pressures and get everyone back on track with meeting goals and objectives through productive business methods.

 

Here are some strategies and techniques in handling difficult conversations:

  1. Establish mutual ground rules at the beginning of the discussion; ensure there is a mechanism and a procedure to fall back on if things get off track
  2. Ensure there is a goal and purpose to the conversation; make the scenario valuable with an intended outcome
  3. Don’t make it personal – set the mutual ground rules up front and state the goal is to resolve the issue and not make it a personal attack
  4. Create an environment where everyone can speak freely and in an open manner
  5. Make sure that other parties know their feedback and discussions are valued
  6. Be genuine, truthful and create an environment of trust
  7. Hit on the positives where there are significant negatives; positive reinforcement works
  8. Be constructive in your conversations
  9. Offer solutions not barriers or roadblocks
  10. Think and bring to the table alternatives if the current pathway isn’t working
  11.   As a leader, be an active listener
  12.   As a leader, be a learner; learn from the experience
  13.   As a leader be available, and engage parties frequently
  14.   Raise a third-party or theoretical example if points need to be supported
  15.   Ensure all parties have access to information, especially when it comes to rules and regulations and that line must be focused on

 

Extreme Difficult Conversations

Where you do have serious circumstances that require the most difficult conversations, you have the ability to speak directly and openly about inappropriate behaviours or non-performance issues.  You could approach the scenario by recommending some solutions to get everyone back on track with meeting objectives.  It may also be in the best interest to ask the other party what they need leadership to do.  Their feedback for issue resolution is important.

 

Third party mediation or seeking outside sources to help resolve may also be options when the one-on-one discussions are not going anywhere.  Third parties or mediation can help take the pressure off the affected parties.  A third party or mediator may take neutral ground, observing both parties’ positions and offering up independent recommendations that will work.

 

Positive Outcomes to Difficult Conversations

The end goal needs be a positive one, with satisfaction to all parties involved.  Whatever tactic you choose to handle difficult conversations, think and act systematically and strategically, with end goals in mind.  It is sometimes an easier pathway to find solutions than riskier, costly pathways such as litigation.

 

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Lessons Learned … From Your Own Employees

Strategy Plan One

March 26, 2012 

 

organizational developmentEmployees Have the Ground, Intelligence Wise

Your business has been successful and booming for a long period of time, and you as the leader / entrepreneur, have been busy in your management duties.

You may be far removed from the ground level operations, not having to grind it out on the floor or crank out code, or deal directly with customers.  However, you are not that removed from your employees who have the greatest wealth of knowledge of the operational level.

Much can be learned from employees who know what is and isn’t working at the operational level, who know what the customer’s actions, thoughts and feedback are, and what other employees are saying behind the management lines.

Engaging and Interacting Frequently with Employees

As a manager, leader, and entrepreneur, engage and interact well and frequently with your employees.  Make it well known that you are openly interested daily about what is taking place on the floor.  It should be a part of your daily routine, either through inspecting your place of retail or office space.  The employees will feel more at ease when the management team is readily and physically available for open discussions.

Grab Intelligence from Employees

Setting the stage with frequent engagement and interactions will assist in your employees openly providing you with a wealth of information to improve operations and/or improve client and customer relationships.  These professionals in your organization may provide valuable recommendations and will look to you as the leader to implement some solutions from issues they encounter.

Make employees feel valued that they can share information and that you, as a tuned-in entrepreneur, are listening and willing to embrace recommendations for approval.

Encourage Continuous Improvements From Employees

To stay on the cutting edge and at the top of your industry, you will need your employees to think and act innovatively.  The best practices and solutions do originate from team actions, and so would innovative practices.

Empower your employees to develop ground-breaking practices that would set the units, team, and business far ahead of the competitors.  Create an environment that is rewarding and promotes recognition for achievements.  Depending on your budgets, you can develop incentive programs for high achievers and for employees that bring innovative solutions to the table.  You may be surprised at the untapped intelligence from all of your professional staff.

Strategy Plan One

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Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

Successful Conferences and Working Group Meetings

Strategy Plan One

March 23, 2012 

conferences and working groupsConferences and Working Groups

Physical, face to face meetings at conferences and for working groups may be the best opportunity to build capacity and relationship with teams, while fitting in some essential training for your organization.  If designed well, individuals and businesses will achieve maximum value from attending and participating in these events.

While you, as an entrepreneur or business leader, may have goals for your business in hosting this conference, be aware of the needs and how this conference appears to participants to make sure the conference is a success and not a bust.

Successful conferences are ones that are rich in an experience, with a variety of topics, speakers and activities.  You will note how successful a conference will be by how well the participants are engaged and participate in sessions.  Attendance is also a key indicator on how well conferences and working group meetings are going.  If the topics are lively and can relate to participants, members will actively participate and add value to the experience.

If your purpose in hosting and having the conference is one of a mandatory purpose (i.e. safety training), you can add in experiences that allow participants to be active participants.

conferences and working groupsHere are some helpful tips to conferences and meetings for working groups:

  • Develop the objectives
  • Develop the budget
  • Engage input from a wide variety of stakeholders
  • Involve staff in the development of sections and topics of the conference
  • Encourage staff to take the lead
  • Develop a working group to develop the agenda and to work out the logistics
  • Develop an agenda that has short bursts of presentations, both educational and interactive
  • Share drafts of the agenda in advance to obtain valued feedback
  • Revise agenda as needed
  • Ensure agenda and all printed materials are developed and ready in advance

PowerPoint & Media at Conferences and Meetings for Working Groups

  1. Variety of media is a key factor
  2. Use these in a limited fashion to illustrate points, graphics, charts
  3. Use points only and never fill up a screen with more than 50 words as no one can read that much on the screen
  4. Make the participant focus in on you as the speaker as that is the richest experience
  5. Break up slide with interactive activities at the table
  6. Look at the size of the audience and ensure all participants can see the slides & media; be cognizant of the audience’s perspective

Speaking at Conferences & Meetings for Working Groups

  • Speakers & presenters need to be prepared in advance and should know you’re their subject inside and out
  • Speakers need to present clearly and directly with the audience
  • Ensure presenters have microphones and that the audience can hear them
  • Wireless microphones give the speakers the ability to get closer to the audience, to walk around and have the audience focus in on the presenter
  • Ensure audio visual equipment is adequate and that technical staff are on standby for fixes

Venue Specifics for Conferences & Meetings for Working Groups

  1. Choose a venue that is centrally located & not difficult to travel to
  2. Choose a venue that is the right fit, right size and room for participants
  3. Ensure that the room is capable for all of your Audio Visual needs
  4. If the conference or meeting for working groups is longer than a day ensure that information on accommodation packages are readily available and could be added into the conference package
  5. Design and layout of tables is important – “U” shape or table format is good for members to interact and engage in face to face discussions

Strategy Plan One

http://strategyplanone.com

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

5 Attributes of Modern Leadership

Strategy Plan One

February 8, 2012 

Leadership has changed with time and with varying economic and environmental circumstances.   Early to mid 20th century, leaders often invoked a militaristic or autocratic leadership approach, and to most the extent, this worked for many successful companies and big corporations.

In the current age, the workforce is better educated with more rights.  Values and ethics are important, and company and personal values and ethics need to align to achieve common goals.  In order to compete on a global scale, leaders need to motivate and influence teams of valuable employees to thrive and survive.

 

Collaboration with team members

Leadership today is obviously quite different, with globalization, competition, values and ethics and people’s rights making big impacts on how leaders lead.  The global economic climate is challenging and is multi-faceted.  New leaders today need the ability to navigate through challenging environments, with multiple layers of complexity.  A new leader must be able to collaborate with professionals adequately, and to be able to adapt quickly to changing environments.

 

Engaging others

Twenty to thirty years ago, businesses relied on manual analysis of localized information.  Today, teams and leaders must competently analysis massive amounts of global information quickly.  Where leaders lack capacity, leaders must be able to source and acquire capacity to assist in meeting organizational goals and objectives.  Leaders need to have the skill to interact with, motivate and empower team members.  Effective interaction with employees leads to better buy-in of goals and objectives.  Frequent engagement tends to make the employees and teams feel valued.

 

Activating Efficiency

Today leaders must accomplish more with fewer resources.   In order to stay competitive in global markets, leaders must stay on top with efficient operations.  Leaders must have the ability to maximize results and benefits with decreasing levels of resources.  Leaders must seek ideas for efficient operations from their teams, as these valued employees are the subject matter experts.  There are several mechanisms to implement to achieve efficiencies, from empowering employees to take the lead, to compensatory mechanisms.

 

Ability to Vision

Experienced leaders thoroughly observe and analyze the past and present.  A great leader can envisage a successful way forward.  They are able to see an end goal and objective, and pathway to achieve the objective.  Only a few have this innate ability; most develop the skill through experience in operations and management.  This valuable trait may be the result of many years of experience leading to the ability to look forward, and some of it through trial and error.  Leaders with vision understand why they are in the business and why the company’s products or services are valuable or needed by the consumer.

 

Effective Communication

Effective leadership involves a high level of rich communication.  A great leader engages with others and can communicate the vision to the team.  With powerful, transparent communications, leaders will need to be influential on others, with the ability to convince and encourage the team to follow and buy-in.  The level of acceptance is a good indicator of the leader’s communication and influential effectiveness.

 

Strategy Plan One

© 2012 Strategy Plan One

Business information, resources and tips for the entrepreneur