Posts

Communications and Negotiations

Contrary to the belief of many, negotiations actually serve as a stepping stone to a potentially long-term, mutually beneficial alliance. Fair-minded negotiations are not the one-and-done actions played out by those who lack the skills and temperament to look beyond the moment, but are in fact, an interaction to ignite a satisfying, enduring relationship. In business it typically means that the people negotiating have come to an equitable agreement on terms for the outcome and where the “win-win situation” happens. For example, this could be product delivery, cost, quality, warrantees, and follow-up service… really anything one or more parties want to provide or to purchase. Creating relationships that are conducive to “everyone’s a winner” can be done, but is not always easy.

The Unbalanced Negotiation

The best outcome of a negotiation is when the end-result is mutually beneficial for all parties, but what happens if that is not a sentiment felt by everyone involved? You may be faced with a situation where a negotiation is, simply, not worth your time and effort. When one party’s demands create a “win-lose” scenario, it will hurt both parties in the long-run. When you concede more than you can realistically provide it may potentially diminish your ability to deliver on what you agree upon. In this instance, both you and the demanding party will lose. This can happen when a negotiator’s focus is unilateral with disregard to the other parties involved. This type of interaction should send up a red flag and alert you to the tenure of the negotiation which you can either walk away from, or re-steer to focus on what will create an equitable outcome.

Keep in mind, you have arrived prepared to discuss your points and substantiate your position. If you allow another party to dictate your negotiating posture, you’ve in essence relinquished control of your position and allowed the other party’s tactics to control the outcome. It’s fine to be flexible, and to a certain extent you should expect to be, but you need to do this without compromising your position and losing sight of what you envision to be an equitable outcome. Balanced negotiations set the stage for a win-win outcome and open the door to compromise and communication without anyone being affronted in, both, the short and long-term.

Negotiating Up

There will always be instances when negotiations are not conducted on a level playing field. We have all been in discussions with someone whose position, power or financial resources intimated or out-classed us. This is going to happen and sometimes our first experience at negotiating up begins at an early age (i.e., children negotiating for a higher allowance.) In a business situation, this doesn’t mean you should expect a negative outcome, but it does mean, you need to be better prepared and remain confident in your strategy. Research and preparation are two critical keys when presenting a solid case, but not just when negotiating up; these two practices should be present in all negotiations.

And always keep in mind, you are in the midst of a negotiation because you belong there. The value of your contributions has been recognized and you’ve been given the opportunity to put your complement of listening and speaking skills to use.

Can You Hear Me Now

The communications do not need to be hostile, but obviously opinions will differ or be contradictory in nature during conversations about how everyone can come out a winner. In large respect, this is a form of negotiation and negotiating with skill is not a science, but an art.

As with most interactions, becoming angry and loud is not as effective as remaining calm and deliberate in your delivery. Professors at Stanford University conducted a study to determine the effects of how anger can enhance or harm someone’s delivery during times of negotiation. What they found was, the presence of someone being non-temperamental, but pointed in her argument, was much more effective than when anger was used as a negotiating tactic. The feedback from the participants revealed that outbursts of anger were viewed as ineffective rather than a calculated use of language and guile. On the other hand, coming across as an automaton is not a recommended approach, either. It’s fine to show bridled emotions to tactically accentuate a point or to gain and give better understanding. Of course, timing will be a factor when using emotions as a tactic, so be sure to understand how this comes across both audibly and through your body language.

It’s Not Rocket Science

Maintaining a level-head, being confident and focusing on what you want to gain by the end of the negotiation will help you stay on track. Simple techniques such as: being prepared with facts and figures to support your comments and rebuttals, having a checklist to stay organized, compartmentalizing each of the items to be discussed to add applicable value to each discussion point at the correct time, deciding upfront what you ideally want at a minimum and what you are willing to relinquish (remember, negotiations are a give and take), as well as remaining patient, calm, and even finding humor in the discussion will help ease a potentially tough interaction.

When Recruiting Improves Candidate Communication

“Do you hear the phone when I call?

Do you feel the thud when I fall?

Do you hear the crack when I break?

Did you lock the door when it shut?

Did you see the knife when it cut?

Do you keep your ear to the ground?

For the kid in Lonely Town…”

—Brandon Flowers, Lonely Town

Work. There comes a time when we reflect on whether or not to defect. Of whether we stay the course of a complicated, even painful relationship that does not reinvest to retain, or if we close our eyes and leap.

We see these reflections as a possible jumping off points, opportunities to start anew and find:

  • An employer that maybe, this time, will celebrate all that we bring and reward us accordingly.
  • A job where we can do what we do best – the work we love to do and that we’re the most loyal to.
  • Meaningful work that generates a positive prismatic return for us and for those who employ us.

Its one of the most difficult things we do in the modern age: apply for employment. From hourly contract work to salaried jobs to management and executive positions, it’s a highly personal journey of putting ourselves out there to be assessed, reviewed and ultimately judged as to whether we’re deemed worthy of working for an individual, a team, a company.

The recruiting and hiring process from employer to employer can vary so dramatically, with only a few providing a more positive candidate experience than the many, the path from pre-application to even onboarding for those who get the job can eviscerate the hearts of even the most hopeful.

Which was how I felt five years ago. I remember going through a job search with a high-visibility firm. That combined with my industry visibility at the time made me feel even more vulnerable, especially considering that I made it to the final selection process, and I had much more than pride on the line; I had to provide for a family.

Considering the industry they were in, they should’ve known better, the best practices of recruiting and hiring. Instead, I was left with inconsistent acknowledgement and no closure. And even though I didn’t get the job, of which the other primary candidate definitely had the edge on me, I was led to believe that there were other opportunities. It took weeks to know I wasn’t hired and longer still to hear there weren’t other opportunities.

I know. Maybe I’m being melodramatic. I mean, not everyone gets the job and the employment trophy, right? It’s a messy business, this world of work. Stiff upper lip and all that. Of course, I survived and joined the global non-profit research organization called The Talent Board that highlights the good, bad and the in-between of recruiting and candidate experience via the Candidate Experience Awards and Research (CandE). We survey both employers and candidates about the recruiting process, from pre-application to onboarding.

The CandE winners know it’s a constant work in progress – those companies that have improved their recruiting experience for candidates. They are raising the bar and sharing compelling stories as to their talent acquisition journeys of making candidates their number one customers. They know that candidates themselves want to be valued and have an engaging and transparent experience. How they’re treated has a direct impact on employer brands. In today’s digital age, where people share experiences online, a poor candidate experience can be bad for business and translate to millions in lost revenue annually.

When I read through the candidate open-ended survey responses, I empathize viscerally; we’ve all been there; we’re all perpetual candidates. Here are a few paraphrased and sanitized examples (and these were the nicer ones):

  • If there is anyone I could speak with about where my application stands, I would appreciate it. I put my heart into applying for that job. 
  • They should have been more specific as to why I wasnt selected and given me some constructive criti 
  • I did not hear anything until I received a notification that I was not hired two to three months after my interview. 
  • It took a week after I followed up with HR to receive an automated message saying that the position had been filled.

Tens of thousands of similar responses. Yes, progress continues to be made year after year since the first report was released, and the 2015 North America Talent Board Research Report is now available to download. (Companies interested in participating in the 2016 survey research can register here.)

However, there has been a bit of a backslide:

  • 2015 results show an increase in the number of employers not contacting candidates post applica
  • Overall, the percentage of organizations that acknowledge applications with a “thank you” correspondence dropped from 89.5 percent to 85.3 percent
  • The percentage of recruiters required to respond dropped from 49.3 percent to 39.6 percent, which is too bad since, at the very least, talent acquisition systems today are more than malleable enough to accommodate hundreds of disposition codes and better personalize automated messages.

And then every once in a while you come across a positive one, even from those not hired:

I thought the hiring and recruitment managers both did a fine, professional job in conveying this information to me at the conclusion of their process.

Amen. So I wish the true wish of every candidate and current employee around the world: the hope for consistent and personable acknowledgment and closure, knowing that you may not be the chosen one.

When recruiting reflects on its effects, and then improves its candidate communications and follow-up and through, it can retain the relationships outside and in that impact the brand and the business.

And then it may just be a happier year for some of you who start anew.

Why Marketing to Your Boss and Co-Workers is Essential

Maybe you’ve fantasized about quitting, but you’re not ready to give up your steady paycheck, 401k, or insurance.

There is a quick alternative. Transform your current job into a job you love by engaging with its full potential, marshaling the resources around you, and seizing the opportunities that are there for the taking.

An essential step in transforming your job is learning to market to your boss and co-workers, as I suggest in “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love…Without Quitting.”

Marketing is ultimately owning the effectiveness of your messages. Let me explain …

The Moment I Knew Marketing to My Boss and Co-Workers is ESSENTIAL

Ever considered why some messages you write or speak either:

  • resonate and compel others to action, or
  • create a misunderstanding or fall flat?

Marketing your messages also means taking responsibility for the outcome. It’s not what you say, it’s what people ultimately hear that often determines the success of your communication.

Here’s a personal example. We were in the final stage of a major contract and going all in as an organization. The contract meant either a flood of new growth or a major loss of business. I was on the negotiation team and desperate for seven of our company locations across the U.S. to confirm whether they could deliver on the customer’s demands.

We were in a crisis time crunch, so instead of telephoning I sent an email with this message in the subject line: “Please Respond ASAP.”

An hour passed. Only one location responded, probably because she was a friend of mine.

Everyone knew how important this was, and I couldn’t believe the delay. In my anger, I sent another message with this headline: “Your Job and Mine Could be at Stake.”

I received responses from all locations within minutes, and we confidently closed the deal.

In that moment, I understood the importance of owning my messaging.

Market to Your Boss, and Help Your Career

I struggled to write this article, because of my corporate roots. In organizational life, we don’t market to each other well. We rely on job titles, authority, and sheer goodwill to persuade others to act.

These tactics can get the job done in the short term, but over time they lose their effectiveness.

Escalating demands up the organization chart becomes a bit like the boy who cried wolf. Escalate too many times, and before long, people stop responding.

Far more advantageous and empowering is to direct your marketing toward the boss and co-workers. Developing this skill gains you more influence and the capacity for a much greater impact within the organization.

Own the Effectiveness of Your Messages

Joseph explained that no one listened to him at the office. He’s a leader in his field, and has been the resident expert for well over two decades. He’s dedicated and truly cares about his company.

He knows what should be done to make things better, but no one seems to listen.

For years, he’s been telling everyone how to fix things, but nothing’s happened, and in many cases, they’re heading in the wrong direction.

He’s frustrated, burned out, and ready to hit the eject button. He’d pretty much given up making any difference in his current position and was contemplating moving to another company, although without high expectations.

Although Joseph’s situation sounded bleak, we discovered something that worked for him. In place of the same old story of “I’m not being heard,” he shifted to “I’m not getting my message across.”

He began to think like a masterful marketer in how he framed the problems and solutions. This simple shift put him in control, and things began to change when he became the player, instead of the victim.

Imagine if everyone at the office began owning their own communication, and taking charge of who hears the message and how well it’s understood.

Things would change!

The next time you find yourself feeling frustrated at the office, ask yourself, “How can I more effectively get my message across?”

One Simple Marketing Question That Reduces Anxiety

When I get stuck on a project or anxious about a big talk, I go back to that simple question: “How can I more effectively get my message across?”

Just reflecting on it calms me, reminds me why I do this work, and propels me forward.

Answering this question takes your thoughts instantly away from your ego and back to your capacity to help others. It’s like standing on stage and shifting the spotlight back onto the crowd. You relax, and you’re able to compose a more effective message to reach the intended audience.

Action: Apply this question when planning the introduction to your next meeting. Write out the question, along with a few ideas in response, addressing how the meeting serves the attendees. Share these ideas with them when you kick things off. Notice how much the message you’ve crafted resonates. Note: If you can’t think of any ways that the meeting serves the audience, consider canceling it.

How to Market to Your Boss and Co-Workers to Get What You Want

To craft even more effective messages for the boss and co-workers, employ these three additional marketing strategies:

  • Meet them where they are. Consider the audience before writing an email, leading a call, or presenting, or your message may fall flat. How does your message address a problem they’re currently facing? This is critical, especially in creating an email subject line or presentation title. Otherwise, you’ll lose your reader and your audience before you begin.
  • Lead with WIFM. It’s incredibly helpful to assume that the audience is always wondering, “What’s in it for me?” (Tagged WIFM in marketing circles.) Instead of making them guess, offer the answer upfront to build engagement and interest, no later than the third sentence of any conference call or presentation. And include the answer in the reference line of all emails. You’ll probably notice an immediate difference in the responses you get. “Please Respond ASAP” had no WIFM. “Your Job and Mine Could be at Stake” put it out there directly and won a much quicker and complete response.
  • Prioritize the call to action. I read a lot of emails and sit through presentations and conference calls that do not present a clear next step or even ask people to do anything. For better results, begin your next email or meeting by asking yourself what you want people to do afterwards, and work backwards from there.

Pay For Your MBA with OPM

Sometimes packaging your message well means avoiding the need for negotiation altogether, even when you’re asking for something big. When I first thought about asking my company to pay for my MBA, I thought about it as a negotiation. Remarkably, the success I had was more about how I owned my message and identified it as a marketing opportunity.

My organization had never paid for anyone’s MBA before, and attending classes would limit my travel schedule. I was prepared to make significant concessions with my job and even my salary, but I never had to go there.

The end result was the organization agreed to pay most of the MBA costs and to support my taking time off to attend class and team projects. I continued to deliver results at work while I went to school. I had a great experience and even laid the groundwork for my co-workers to do the same.

Here’s how I applied these marketing strategies to get the results I wanted:

  • Meet them where they are. Before I made this request, I thought about it from my boss’s perspective. What would his concerns be? Who would he have to persuade? What experience did he have with this type of request? What would be most important to him? I knew their primary concern would be whether I could maintain my current workload and deliver a return on their investment in the MBA. I made sure to address those points when I presented the idea.
  • Lead with WIFM. I imagined that my boss was sitting there thinking “What’s in it for me,” so I led with WIFM, despite the temptation to start my presentation with how important it was to me to obtain an MBA. I led with the benefits for the boss and the organization, and I never mentioned how it would benefit my career (although they probably understood that). I did my research to understand the curriculum and talked to alumni of the program. It was easy then to link the MBA to enabling me to contribute more and make a bigger impact in my current role. I even pointed out school projects from the curriculum that I could complete in a dual capacity to deliver savings for our organization.
  • Prioritize the call to action. Although we reached a verbal agreement by the end of the meeting, the details were still fuzzy. I anticipated this result, so I drafted a letter of support in advance that only required a signature and to write in the amount they would contribute. At the end of the conversation, I made the call to action very simple: I pulled out the letter and asked my boss to sign. We hadn’t figured out all the logistics of making the payment, but I walked out of the office with an agreement in writing. I felt great, and he did too.

How to Test Marketing in Your Workday Right Now

You can try this idea in your workday right now and evaluate its effectiveness for yourself. Open your email and look at the last three emails you’ve sent.

Do these messages meet them where they are, lead with WIFM, and include a clear call to action? If not, consider resending and notice any difference in the responses.

This article is an excerpt adapted by Ben Fanning from his forthcoming book, “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love….Without Quitting.”

Ben Fanning is Chief Engagement Officer at BenFanning.com, where he helps employees transform the job they have into the job they love. This article is an excerpt he has adapted from his forthcoming book, “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love….Without Quitting.”

Photo Credit: Natalini Cristian via Compfight cc

Leaders Communicate THIS Way

I’ve written before around my frustration with people (prematurely) proclaiming things are dead and email it seems is the most common victim of this technology bashing. Why in the world are there so many marketers and leaders ready to say “down” with email?

There are a few reasons:

Overload

So many people are overwhelmed with the size of their inbox, they can’t even see straight. In fact, an entire lexicon has built up around the corporate email swamp. Heard the terms “inbox zero” or “autoresponder” or “canned response”? These are all responses to the vast amount of email that people send and receive every day. Every day a new solution is proposed. Try this.

Social

Social has become an acceptable way to communicate in virtually any situation. Formerly mocked as a Gen Y only method of getting information back and forth, I regularly find myself communicating via Facebook message, Snapchat, Skype and Twitter DM with analysts, CEOs and even HR professionals. Can’t social just replace email? Well, Facebook tried that.

Intranets

Why haven’t tools like Hall, Yammer and other social internal collaboration tools eliminated email? If email is the scourge of the planet as posts like this claim it to be, then why aren’t people ready to give it up? This post claims it can cut down on email but not all of it.

Because EMAIL works.

Email-Wanted-Dead-or-Alive6

 

How do you manage email in your workday? Do you think email is dead? Do products like Yammer, Slack and Basecamp make email less a part of your life? More? Let us know in the comments!

 

How Good People Can Deliver Bad News at Work

Written by Sarah Colomé

Something has gone terribly wrong at work. (It happens.) You’re terrified about telling your manager. (That also happens.) Breaking bad news to your boss can feel like you’re the designated driver on girls’ night out — while it’s not easy, someone has to take the hit.

However, if you take a closer look at this situation, you may find it’s a blessing in disguise for your career.

Employers are looking for contributors who know how to think on their feet, adapt quickly and  communicate effectively. If you reframe a work nightmare by offering timely, useful, well-researched solutions, you’ll demonstrate that you’re not only a smart thinker, but also a doer with management potential.

So, when that moment strikes and you have to break bad news to the person who decides your fate, consider these three strategies:

1) Bring the whole story to the table

Rushing to squeal that the keynote speaker for your annual conference just dissed your company on social media isn’t going to improve the situation.

Before you make a move, consider your source of information. Is this a credible individual or channel? Repeating uninformed, disruptive information only adds to the chaos. Research the facts (quickly!) so you can provide decision makers with relevant context. Your extra legwork can help them make an informed choice about how to proceed.

Knowing details helps frame the situation, allows for a better decision making process and makes you look like a mature, level-headed colleague rather than an reactive tattletale.

2) Think and speak objectively

Taking sides and passing blame does nothing to solve the problem. Instead, you’ll only paint yourself in a negative and self-serving manner — the complete opposite of what you want.

While this doesn’t mean you should hide pertinent information you have about the problem, you also don’t need to wrap a particular person up in a bow and pin them to a bull’s eye.

Pointing fingers isn’t necessary to solving the immediate problem. If necessary at all, it should be set aside until a solution has been found. Focusing on the fixing the problem helps you avoid looking like you’re stepping on another employee to make yourself look good. Plus, you’ll protect your working relationships with all parties involved — including the idiot who ordered 200 bottles of pineapple juice instead of Pinot Grigio for the donor banquet. Besides, if someone on the crew is truly inept, their actions will speak for themselves.

3) Offer problem-solving options

Showing up empty-handed to announce bad news accomplishes nothing. You need ammo. Prepare to suggest possible next-step ideas, so you’re less likely to become the target of a manager’s negative reaction.

Your goal is to avoid adding more stress to a difficult situation, by being ready to offer viable options. Research alternatives that save time or money, and assess the likely outcomes, so you can help determine a workable plan of action.

But keep in mind that offering effective solutions requires more than just a Google search and a few thrown-together spreadsheets. No solution can be implemented without investing employee energy, so assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for each path. This approach can help your manager avoid costly missteps — while simultaneously portraying you as a proactive, strategic thinker.

Delivering bad news is never easy, but reframing a negative work situation into a positive professional opportunity can be beneficial both for you and your company.

The next time someone accidentally sends detailed employee compensation data to everyone in your company, don’t fret. Get the whole story, be objective and come with a solution in hand.

Have you stepped up when there was a melt-down at work? How did you deliver the news — and did it help you grow in your career? Share your experiences in the comments area.

Sarah Colome (2)(About the Author: Sarah Colomé, M.S. is an educator, advocate and the SOARS Booking Director for A Long Walk Home, Inc. Based in Chicago, Sarah has traveled both nationally and internationally as a competitive collegiate public speaker. She teaches on topics related to social justice and diversity, health education, sexual violence and persuasive speaking. Connect with her on Twitter.)

(Editor’s Note: This post is adapted from Brazen Life, with permission. Brazen Life is a lifestyle and career blog for ambitious young professionals. Hosted by Brazen Careerist, it offers edgy and fun ideas for navigating the changing world of work. Be Brazen!)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with others in the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events every Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)


Image Credit: Mugley via Flickr

Recruiting + Mobility = Perfect Match? #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for a full collection of highlights and resources from this week’s events? Read the #TChat Recap: “Recruiting: Going Mobile by Demand?“)

Are you reading this post on a smartphone or tablet? If so, you’re among 35% of TalentCulture visitors who interact with us via mobile devices. And those numbers are growing fast — in only the past 6 months, the rate of mobile TalentCulture visitors has increased by more than 100%.

But this big mobile shift makes us wonder what the impact is on “people-oriented” business processes like recruiting.

Just how rapidly are employers integrating new communication channels into the hiring process? And what issues and opportunities are arising from all of this innovation?

Mobile Recruiting Trend Snapshot

Participants at the recent Mobile Recruiting Conference (MREC) confirmed that job candidates are increasingly connected while “on the move,” and recruiters recognize the implications. For example, according to Talent HQ Mobile Recruiting Insights:

•  62% of passive job seekers use a mobile device to research potential employers
•  61% have a better impression of a brand after a favorable mobile experience.
•  62% of recruiters say that mobile recruiting is the top trend for 2014

According to industry analyst Josh Bersin, companies like LinkedIn and Prudential already attract more than 50% of their candidates through mobile channels. Yet, other organizations seem to be lagging behind. Talent HQ reports that only 16% of U.S. talent acquisition “leaders” have optimized their career sites for a mobile audience — including only 26 of the Fortune 500 companies.

So, what does this mean for today’s changing world of work? That’s what we’ll explore this week at #TChat Events, with two well-known talent acquisition experts:

•  Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, Founder and Chief Blogger at Blogging4Jobs and
•  Rayanne Thorn, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at Technomedia, global talent management solutions provider.

Recently, Jessica framed the topic in a brief “sneak peek” Hangout with me. Watch now:

What are your thoughts about the emerging role of mobile technology in finding and hiring top talent? Join us this week to share your ideas and opinions!

#TChat Events: Mobile Devices + Recruiting = Good Match?

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Tune-in to #TChat Radio

#TChat Radio — Wed, Oct 30 — 6:30pmET / 3:30pmPT

Our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman talk with Jessica Miller-Merrell and Rayanne Thorn about the changing dynamics of recruitment. Tune-in LIVE online this Tuesday afternoon!

#TChat Twitter — Wed, Oct 30 7pmET / 4pmPT

Immediately following the radio show, we’ll move this discussion to the #TChat Twitter stream, where Dr. Nancy Rubin will moderate an open chat with the entire TalentCulture community. Everyone with a Twitter account is invited to participate, as we address these questions:

Q1: Does mobile recruiting enhance an employer’s value proposition?
Q2: What is keeping some employers from adopting mobile recruiting?
Q3: For candidates, has mobile job search reached critical mass?
Q4: Is mobile recruiting mostly about hiring young candidates?
Q5: Look ahead 10 yrs. What tools will drive recruiting?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.
We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

#TChat Communication Tools: You Can't Use Them ALL

What’s your morning communications, social media routine like? Mine’s getting more complicated every day. Personally, just email requires checking at least three accounts on three devices. At least one is Gmail, so I green-light Gmail chat and also Google+. Then it’s on to open a Skype window – many clients, friends reach me through Skype instant message. And to make sure I’m truly open, AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo Messenger are active, too. They’re a bit old-school, but a few of my clients still use them, so it’s not really negotiable in my world.  Then it’s on to Yammer to check up on the latest and greatest with my teams.

Twitter comes next. Hootsuite, Old School “regular” Twitter, and TweetChat  helps me monitor multiple Twitter streams and also makes it simple to cross-populate Facebook and LinkedIn with content. Another communications tool I’ve been checking out is the open-source Trillian, which automates the  management of multiple chat clients on both desktop and phone.

When it comes to corporate communications, it’s a whole new ball of wax, Facebook page admins, several WordPress log-ins, all the email and communications platforms like MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber and more. There are even ways to communicate via song (Spotify) and visual interest (Pinterest). Granted, not all of these apply to professionalism, but in our connected world, they sure do influence it.

The new tools can also be overwhelming; it’s a matter of choosing and experimenting. But when do we finally just pick and stop experimenting? What works best for workplace collaboration and productivity? Do you stop communicating? Ever?

Actually, no. Facebook is saved for stolen moments between calls and meetings on my end. I’m trying to use it more frequently, and in a way that does not make my friends have to deal with all my tweets (always a work in progress). Let’s not forget Facebook messaging – again, I’m trying to make it work into my weekly routine. And LinkedIn – the ole social standby – is a great business communications tool, so there’s always a browser tab open for it. Mind you, this is all before my first cup of coffee.

Does your social blend in a way that feels comfortable and consistent yet? Do you sense a theme emerging here? I think many people are trying to determine the very best way to manage communications tools both for  business and for pleasure.

The irony: in this flurry of activity, there hasn’t been  a single F2F social interaction, not even a cat sitting on the keyboard. Over the past year, actual live phone conversations have dropped off a tad. I’ve been making a point to schedule more meetings in person and to call people via Skype, Google Voice, or cell. Sometimes there is simply no time for in-person meetings. I live my business and social life, increasingly, in the world of social media. Some days it doesn’t seem healthy. Some days it feels just right. Some days I wonder how I ever existed without it. Some days I long for more IRL “In Real Life” contact with people.

In this week’s TalentCulture World of Work #TChat – brought to you through the wonders of social media, of course – we’re looking at the good, the bad and the ugly of social communication and workplace collaboration tools. The beauty of  Twitter Chats are clear – hundreds of people worldwide can have a discussion in real time, regardless of physical location – but it’s not clear which other social and workplace communications tools deliver a similar value.

And we have a hashtag where people can show up and share content, insight and fun with us 24.7. It’s become a unique online community and we look forward to continuing the conversation this year. We are going with the connection flow and enjoying every moment.

So let’s come together to explore which communications tools add value and which merely distract us from being productive. Because you can’t use them all. Or can you? Join us Wednesday night on #TChat The World of Work January 18th from 7-8 pm ET (6-7 CT, 4-5 pm PT), where social media and communication topics are in the hot seat. Join meKevin GrossmanMaren Hogan, Sean Charles and Kyle Lagunas for a very special #TChat.

Questions we’ll be discussing this week are here:

 

 

Audience Requests For Our Keynote Speaker

Dear Keynote Speaker,

For a variety of reasons, I’m sitting in the last row of your keynote speech. Sitting in the back of your presentation is no reflection on you. Seriously, the presentation title looks great, and your bio? I can’t believe the awards you’ve won! Wow! This should absolutely be the perfect keynote to open the conference. Just what we need to hear!

Only problem is, it turns out your perfectly-titled keynote speech has nothing to do with those of us in the audience. Kind of makes it hard to take notes about your presentation which will be of any benefit later.

So since you’ve elected to leave us, the audience, out of your presentation, the least I can do is share the notes your keynote presentation DID prompt me to take.

And no surprise…all the notes are about YOU, keynote leader – your favorite topic! Here YOU go:

  • Don’t have all the lights turned off and do your presentation in the dark. Your videos may look better, but you’ve become invisible before you’ve even started.
  • Don’t pass on using a microphone.
  • Don’t neglect to set up and explain what you’re going to be talking about today.
  • Don’t have so many slides about your resume. You’re the keynote speaker. I trust the conference organizers to have picked somebody who’s qualified.
  • Don’t let it appear you typically type up your presentation right before you start.
  • Don’t make us feel like we’re on the outside looking in during this self-exploration of your own career. BTW, there’s a more descriptive word for “self-exploration” I chose not to use. But I think you know what I’m talking about.
  • Don’t talk over the talking in the video you’re playing. Now there are two things going on that make no sense.
  • Don’t use such small type or put your main messages at the bottom of your PowerPoint slides. This room has a really low ceiling, so none of us in the back of the room are seeing any of your most important points.
  • Don’t tell me about things so specialized that I can’t ever do them, ever dream about doing them, or even ever learn something usable from you talking about them.
  • Don’t fail to at least articulate the lessons you’ve learned if all you’re going to do is talk about yourself.
  • Don’t forget to involve the audience. At this point, asking us questions would really help your presentation pull out of this tailspin. Yes, trust me – it’s in a tailspin. I just peeked at the horrendous things people are already writing on the sheets they gave us to rate your presentation.
  • Don’t tell me how important emotion is and then not convey ANY emotion in your presentation. Or show an excruciatingly long video you claim credit for which is totally bereft of emotion as well.
  • Don’t forget to be human. And humble. And funny is not so bad either. Be ALL of those things in your next presentation.
  • Don’t be surprised we’re sitting here, in the dark, frustrated out of our minds in silence.
  • Don’t make me do all the work to figure out what your presentation is about.
  • Don’t get through your whole speech with nothing for the audience to take away and use.

That last comment probably wasn’t fair. Because looking back, I did take a lot away: this lengthy list of things to never do as a presenter.

The amazing thing though is I’d bet a lot of money you’d never suspect you were guilty of any of these. But you were. And I’d guess it’s not the first time…and you’re definitely not the first person to do any of them.

Yet, I can’t remember anyone doing ALL of them at the same time in one presentation. So congratulations on that! Maybe you could add that accomplishment to your resume slides.

Better yet, how about taking these admonitions to heart and really embracing them (okay maybe a couple – let’s start small) the next time you do a keynote presentation? If you do that, I’ll know at least someone got something they could use from the 50-minutes of wasted time all of us had to sit through today.

The best from back here in the dark,

Mike

IMAGE VIA: batmoo