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I had a friend ask me the other day how to “make the most” of a short presentation to a room full of potential clients. “I have 15 minutes” she said.

This is a tough brief because in such a short time anything is possible.  But in my opinion 15 minutes is an ideal time to do well – if you prepare properly and keep your feet on the ground.

Here are some suggestions that will increase your chance of success:

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I have recently done a couple of posts on confrontation and thanks to those who asked for more,  here is another one!  How about what to do if you must confront someone you care about – in particular, spouses, teenagers, friends and family? It is difficult when emotion gets in the way or if there is a history or approaching each other or arguing in a particular way.  The following may help you step out of the pattern.

State the issue in one sentence

Give an example of the behavior you want to change

Describe how you feel about it

Tell them what you think is at stake if the behavior doesn’t change

State how you may be contributing to the problem

State your desire to resolve the issue

Ask them to respond.

Here’s how it might work in practice:

1.‘John, I really want to talk with you about the effect your behavior is having on some of our friends’

2.’I found out at the party last weekend that you drank too much and were rude to Karen about how you think she is not strict enough as a parent and spoils her kids’

3.’I am embarrassed and concerned about the consequences’

4.’If you can’t control your drinking at our parties I am worried that our friendships could be at stake’

5.’I feel partly responsible because I could have stopped filling your glass so often or had a word with you earlier’

6.’This is what I would like to resolve, John. You are drinking too much and the aggressive behavior is the result’

7.’I want to understand your perspective and what you think is going on.  Please talk to me.’

It can be frustrating to get stuck reacting the same way to someone you care about.  Especially if you don’t/can’t communicate what you really mean.  Try this next time.

When it comes to making decisions – business or personal – we are all human: we make mistakes when ‘reading’ others and feel ‘as if we should have seen it coming’.  Life is a constant effort to align different versions of the truth – your version and someone else’s.  The closer the versions get, the more likely we are to have a good or peaceful relationship.  Conversely, when we get it wrong, people enter our lives who do not add anything – or worse, drain us. The key is to avoid making the same mistakes, or to notice when you have made one and get out of it quickly.read more

I spent this morning working with a client to prepare for a very brief, but important presentation to a group of investors.  The most important message that he had to get across in the short time available, was that the investors believed they made the right decision to invite him to the meeting and they would allocate more time with him to obtain the detail.read more

Certain people just know how to push your emotional buttons – and they do.  Often at the most inconvenient times or when you least expect it.   My friend asked me the other day about how to ‘park emotional distractions’ in the moment with her young son.

How can you successfully put aside your emotional distractions and give a grown up response when you need to? The million-dollar question!  I don’t believe you necessarily have to go back to the root cause of the emotional hot-button, rather, try something you may not have tried before that is practical, physical and in the moment.

Park your emotional distraction with a behavior that can take its place.   Here are some things to say and do:read more

Borage is to tomatoes as empathy is to communication.  What? Well, Borage is known as a ‘companion plant’ to tomatoes and its presence in the garden enhances the life and taste of the tomatoes. It is the same for communication. The presence of empathy in your communication enhances its quality and authenticity.

I was reminded of this over the past few months as I have been making some public presentations and enjoying lively question and answer sessions and follow up discussions.   I am glad to report, I sense people generally are tired of ‘slick and polished’ performances and respond positively, more than ever before, to communicators who are relevant and authentic.

So, what does this mean to you?  It means that your communication Mojo  – your ‘magic charm or spell’  is not going to come from that new piece of presentation software or because you memorized your speech word for word or because you are the world expert on something.  Instead, it will come from empathy – your ability to ‘identify and understand another person’s situation, feelings or motives.’   There, the seed is planted!

Information mismatches are a bit like red cars.  Until you are aware of them you don’t realize how many of them there are around you every day. An information mismatch happens during a conversation when the other person’s understanding of what you are talking about is different from yours – and you both think you are talking about the same thing. It is such a common occurrence to both speak and listen without full information or the right information it is a wonder we get on at all.read more

A dear friend posted a comment the other day on my blog entry ‘Quality Listening.’ She said that even with the best intentions it is often challenging to listen as well as she would like to. “How do I improve my chances of doing it better in the moment and not fall into the same old traps?”read more

Eyjfjallajokull is giving virtual meetings a new life and also reminding us how relatively bad we are at conducting them.

Over the last several days I have heard stories about friends and colleagues stranded around the world, flotsam in the jet stream in an effort to get home.

Many of these same people have been involved in a hasty last minute reorganizing of face to face company meetings into virtual meetings. Audio, video, webinar, interactive meetings and chat.  After hearing about their experiences I think it would be useful to mention some guidelines for running a good virtual meeting just in case of another volcano:read more

Good listening has a kind of character to it.  You know you are doing it.  You may end up learning about yourself, either by how you feel at the end of the conversation – refreshed, relaxed, energized – or because you see your own situation in a new way. In business situations you may notice that the time it takes to gain agreements is reduced because you seek the underlying  reasons/motivations/feelings that may block success later on. Sounds good!

So what are some things you can do to improve your listening?read more

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