Tag Archives: business practices

Women in Business: Does our communication style hold us back?

Posted in Executive Insights, Sheri's Posts

The recent appointment of Virginia Rometty to CEO of IBM received a lot of attention, primarily because it placed her in a very exclusive group. She’s joined 12 other women as the only female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

In spite of the fact that women hold more than half of the management and professional jobs in the United States, we are a rare sight in the upper echelons of businesses. A recent Harvard Business Review story cites “Old Boys Network” as a significant stumbling block to advancement. But, it goes on to point out that our communication style, which tends to be less self-promotional, may be the underlying weakness that is holding us back.

What do you think? Do you actively promote your accomplishments at work and advocate for your career?

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2 Comments Posted on by Sheri Johnson

The Three Elements of Persuasive Presentations

Posted in Best Practices, Executive Insights

Many people put presentations together by opening PowerPoint and starting to type. They add a lot of details, and poof – a presentation.

While that may work for building a basic deck, it leaves something to be desired if you’re building a persuasive presentation designed to help you win a new client or gain more business. In an effective presentation your promise to the audience brings the story to life. When the presentation is done, if all goes according to plan, you will have fulfilled that promise.

It can be harder than it looks so I’ve boiled down some tried-and-true techniques to help you build a solid presentation.

 “What not to do” - courtesy of intuitive.com 

It starts with the right content.

Steven Covey teaches us to begin with the end in mind. So after you leave the room, and the people you are pitching talk about you, what do you want them to say? Plant those words and concepts in their minds by what you say and how you say it. This is the “what” of your presentation.

Now you are ready to craft a story that is clear, focused and distinctive. The “what” of your presentation should focus on why you are your prospect’s best choice. And remember, it’s not what you want to tell the audience; it’s what they need to hear.

Use plural pronouns (we, not I), focus on the benefit (not the attribute) and provide both philosophical and strategic arguments combined with objective proof points (macro – micro) as a model.

Pull from your high school English class – just like in an essay, tell them what you’re going to tell them (the promise slide), tell them (the core of your presentation) and then summarize it in slightly different words (restate the promise). This construct helps people follow along as you move them through their decision-making process.

Next, consider the context.

After you’ve outlined your content you’re ready to infuse the context. Most presentations involve a team of presenters. Here is where you focus on introductions, transitions and developing “threads” between presenters ( … as Mary already mentioned, I will provide an example of the ABC …).

Other techniques include planned interruptions and the art of asking great questions inside a presentation. At this walk-through stage, you validate that the key points are being made – in the right place and in the right order – as you work on finalizing the flow of your presentation.

This is where we also focus on visual aids. Screen imagery should serve as wallpaper or anchors to your talk track. A sea of bullets invites people to tune out and read your slides but not listen to you. Also give thought to your props (boards, handouts, mockups) and if you need to leave materials behind for further review.

The effort you make on the context helps ensure your message is reinforced through every element (what they hear, what they see, how you connect the dots…).

Finally, leverage theatrical techniques to add life and drama.

The best performers understand how to vary their tone, volume and pitch. Excellent presenters also know how to work the room and appropriately involve the audience. This is where your presentation comes to life with vibrancy and drama. Today’s audience expects to be both educated and entertained. Leave the stand-up routine to the experts, but incorporate a few self-effacing comments or simple techniques (such as, flipping the board backwards until you use it … everyone will be interested in the package before they see it). This keeps the audience focused on you and your message.

We are proud to help so many leaders win more business through effective, persuasive presentations. These techniques are time-tested and proven to work in dozens of situations. Think of the most persuasive presentations you’ve experienced and put those practices to work for you. And you’ll win more business.

Onward and upward.

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Comments Off Posted on by Eric Morgenstern

First Who, Then What

Posted in Community Leadership, Illumination Sessions

Yesterday, Morningstar Communications hosted “Sharing a Century of Knowledge,” where we connected an impressive panel of leaders and a room full of smart business people all over the city.

Each panelist works for a company with a legacy of a hundred years or more. Pretty impressive, especially these days when so many businesses don’t make it to the decade mark.

Morningstar Communications just celebrated our 14th birthday this October, which is pretty impressive in its own right, if I do say so myself. But getting the opportunity to hear from companies that have weathered all kinds of business climates was eye-opening.

The piece of wisdom that resonated with me was the central focus of the discussion – “it’s all about the people.” Companies can’t survive, much less thrive, if they don’t value their people. Culture is different in every company, but at the core are always the people who make the wheels turn.

We embody the brand and extend the values in hopes of making a positive impact. Happy 14th Birthday Morningstar Communications. Looking forward to our great (great) grandkid’s participation at the 2097 version of “Sharing a Century of Knowledge.”

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Comments Off Posted on by Rachel Spear

Coping with Surveillance Society

Posted in Best Practices, Executive Insights

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/hWTQhK

Note:  This is the second blog post in a three-part series where Eric Morgenstern, CEO of Morningstar Communications, examines three macro trends transforming society: transparency, privacy and connectivity.  In this post, Eric discusses the disappearance of privacy.

300.  That is the number frequently cited for how many times a Londoner is caught on camera on average each day.  In the U.S., surveillance cameras are also rapidly expanding today with the purpose of fighting crime.  The Huffington Post reports more than 10,000 cameras in Chicago alone.  Cameras may be filming you while you are at the grocery store, bank or simply walking down the street.  While the purpose of the cameras for our safety, many worry that surveillance cameras—like other devices in our technological society—are too invasive and encroaching on our privacy.

The Internet is another constant source of privacy concern. Google recently got hammered by the press for Google Buzz, a program that made g-mail user’s e-mail contacts public without asking first. The Google Maps street view feature also received complaints about being too invasive for showing up close images of houses and even people on the street.  Google responded by blurring the faces of people present in the images.  New technology is not only bringing  widespread capabilities, it is also bringing widespread privacy concerns.

Living in the last generation of privacy

You know the drill:  when you post pictures on Facebook, you put the attractive pictures in and leave out the unflattering pictures.  If someone else posts an unattractive picture of you, there is the untag button.  However, there is no “untagging” most of the records that may exist on the Internet.

If I wanted to find my dental records from when I was a kid, it would be very difficult to track down.  However, children born in the Internet Age will likely be able to look up their electronic medical records from the day they were born.  Records are no longer just sitting in dusty file folders, they are digitally archived and easily retrieved.

George Orwell’s 1984 warned of a big brother watching our every move.  Have we come to that point? The ACLU is fighting back against what it terms our “surveillance society.”  The ACLU “fights the trend toward a surveillance society and works to guarantee that individuals, not governments or corporations, determine how and when others gain access to their personal information.”  While there is some resistance to the current trend, there is likely no backpedaling to more privacy controls.

Taking control of our privacy

In terms of social networking, we can make the personal choice whether or not to have a blog, Twitter account, Facebook account, etc.  We can choose whether or not to divulge details about our love lives, our families and our trials and tribulations on social networking sites.  These choices are up to us.  However, we have less of a say when it comes to whether or not our medical records are digitally archived, our faces are caught on cameras, or how our internet searches are archived.

You can run, but you can’t hide

What does this mean for businesses?  It means that there is never any hiding.  Records aren’t easily expunged, and they are easier to retrieve.  Every bit of information is fair game.  Therefore, companies should strive to always make ethical decisions. Once a mistake is made, it is now easier for the public to find out and harder to expunge from the record. The solution should be to embrace a company culture of doing good.  Be good so that you don’t have to hide records, because records are getting harder to hide.

Privacy is disappearing.  That is the way of the world today and we can’t stop it.  However, as one of my favorite quotes by Khalil Gibran states, “You can’t control the waves but you can learn how to surf.”  We can’t change the way society is shifting, but we can ride the waves.  The best way for businesses to adapt to “surveillance society” is to strive to make ethical decisions each and every day.

We hope that this three part blog series will provide you with insight into how to best approach your marketing and communication programs in 2011. Click here to read the first post in the series.

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2 Comments Posted on by Eric Morgenstern
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