Trump 2I have been using a picture of Donald Trump as an example of Authenticity for years. Every time his picture came up next to the word authenticity, audiences laughed. But the truth is whether you liked him or not, you always knew who he was, what to expect and what he thought. He never behaved out of character. That is why his brand is doing so well with potential voters.

Audiences are becoming more and more attuned to inauthentic and manufactured speakers, whether they are on the campaign trail or at a conference. That is why Authenticity is the cornerstone of anyone’s speaking style or leadership style for that matter.

Don’t try to “Present like Steve Jobs” or to lead like your favorite boss. Be authentic. Be yourself. That is at the root of confidence. Anything less and you’ll fall short of your goals.

Same languageJust because you speak the same language, doesn’t mean you speak the same language.

I was in London recently. I lived there for years and am familiar and comfortable with the common phrases and dry tone. However, I was travelling with some others who were not and it got them into some trouble. Not just because they got a few words wrong, but because their way of communicating seemed a bit off putting and pushy to the British. They were at a loss to understand how they were creating issues. “We’re speaking English for goodness sake.” This got me things about how often this happens at work.

I am not talking about cross-cultural communication now. I am talking about challenges within companies where everyone speaks English. I often find that a CIO and a CMO, for example, might have the same strategic goals for their organization. But, because they speak completely different mental languages they may find themselves at odds or believe the other to be following a different path.

Because they both speak English and because they have the same corporate goals, they think the other is being difficult or does not respect their team’s contributions. The truth is they are speaking different languages. The language of a technical mind and that of a creative mind process and innovate differently.

Be aware and learn the language of those sitting at the table. You may find that you pick up enough to make your point of view clearly understood.

Virtual Comm tools

Every day more companies rely on phone, email and WebEx to conduct business both internally and externally. The phone has been a part of business for decades, but the problems of ‘virtual communication’ have only recently been discussed. Why is that? Why should email or Skype provide better communication? Well, it doesn’t! For some reason people have been lead to believe that email, text and especially video conferencing is virtually as good as being there, but it’s not.

It is better than no communication certainly, but it is hardly virtually as good. There are too many factors lost, too many variables and too many things that can undermine the effectiveness of communication to ever consider these tools ‘virtually’ the same.

There are 3 main factors to keep in mind when communicating via something other than face to face.

  1. Tone – In person our tone of voice accounts for 38% of how we are perceived. But when others have no visual cues to help them put context to our tone i.e. virtually, it accounts for up to 82% of how we are perceived. That means your calls and emails can be sending unwanted signals to their recipients that you may not intend. Your tone is everywhere in your writing and certainly in your voice and can override the actual words on the page.
  2. Energy – you can call it a vibe or sense or setting the tone for the meeting. However, whatever you call it, energy plays a big part in communication. Someone with high energy might engage a room one-on-one. However, over the phone they can sound like a blowhard and not let anyone get a word in edgewise. A low energy person can still make their presence felt in a room, but might blend into the beige background on WebEx.
  3. Distraction – It would be crazy to believe that we don’t get distracted in face to face meetings. We all do. However, the likelihood of distraction is much higher in virtual communication. We’ve all been on a call and heard someone typing in the background or glancing up as someone walks by while on Skype. It is just human nature. There is just something about getting caught being distracted that doesn’t really happen virtually.

No one can argue that having meetings face to face isn’t always more effective. Nor am I saying that we shouldn’t use Virtual Communication tools. It is important, however, to always remember that it is not virtually the same. As a result you need to give it more attention, not less. Take the time to prepare more carefully, be more present and take the time to gauge the listener engagement. You may find virtual conversations less challenging and more productive.

 July Corp.

AskIf you read my last two blogs you have your value established and articulated. But now, you have to ask. This is something most women are not comfortable with and I will be honest, I am one of them. But until you ask you will get nothing.

Just imagine you are your boss. Budgets are tight, your boss is on you about productivity and line items. Why would you wake up one day and say ‘Hey, I think I’ll give Suzi a raise.’ I’m not saying that there aren’t smart, proactive bosses who don’t do just that, but we all know they are in the minority. (Remember that when you become a boss).

If you go to McDonald’s and stand at the counter they won’t just give you food. You need to ask. The same is true a work.  If you want a raise, a promotion or maybe to take the lead on a new project, you need to ask.

The secret to remember is that asking isn’t just saying ‘I want a raise’ or ‘This is what I think I’m worth.’ Asking comes at the end of a strong argument and valid thinking about what the organization needs and why you are the one to help them get it. This will show that you understand where they are, what they need  and why they will value what you bring to the table.

UndersellOne of the challenges women have when negotiating for themselves is they often undersell their skills, abilities and expertise. We are genetically programmed to ‘do it because it needs to be done’. So we sometimes end up taking on more work, additional roles and new challenges without feeling comfortable asking for more. I actually had a client say to me. “The work just needed to get done and I knew my boss wouldn’t give me a raise, so it was just easier to just do it. Once the project is complete, I will go to my boss and ask for a raise.” Why?! By taking on the extra role for no extra money, my client communicated to her boss that ‘I will take on more work and work harder for the same money’. She is telling her boss she doesn’t need to spend any additional money. That’s great for her boss. Why would she ask to be paid retroactively? If she had had the discussion with her boss when her role was changed, she would have had the leverage and sent a message that ‘I am happy to take on extra responsibility, if you pay me for it’.

This is not uncommon, unfortunately, and I am guilty of a version of this myself over the years. But until we put a dollar value to everything we do, we will not get paid what the market says we can get.

So do your homework and find a number the market shows is fair. Then realize that it’s what you are worth. Own it. Stand by it. Expect it. It’s not that you will be lucky to get it. It’s that they will be lucky to get you.

NegotiationThere are many articles written and studies done about women and negotiation. These studies have shown that women out negotiate men when they are negotiating for others or if they are negotiating for a group of which they are a part. However, we fall down when we negotiate for ourselves.

There are hundreds or articles and dozens of books about this dilemma, but few recommendations on what to do about it. Learning how to negotiate well for yourself can’t be learn quickly and certainly not by ready one short blog post, but here is one tip to start using that may make a difference for you.

Bundle!

Just like cable and car companies have come to realize that we will pay more to get what we want, we can do the same. When you are preparing for a negotiation, feel free to write out everything you do or bring to the organization and put a value to it. You can prepare by line item.

However, once you walk in to negotiation, bundle. Show them all the value you bring and let them know everything you want. Don’t break it down into parts. For one thing, it looks like you are trying to justify yourself. This is a challenge because it can make you look insecure and unsure of your true value. Secondly, they may not value each line item the way you do and may question your judgement.

So negotiate the whole package and you may find you come out ahead.

Lose CredibilityIt is very common to see presenters, speakers or entrepreneurs filling the time with as much information as they can get into the few minutes they have. They mistakenly believe that by providing more, they will look smarter, give more value or engage the audience more fully.

They’re wrong!

Stuffing your speech with too much information kills credibility, overwhelms the listener and disconnects the audience from both you and your message.

Credibility – A speaker’s credibility is essential to a successful presentation or speech. You can have great content, but if they don’t trust you, it makes no difference. Going on and on with details which show that you know your industry or market or establish you as an expert, can actually have the opposite effect. Using technical terms and jargon can make you seem insecure and wanting to show off. Not unlike a child tries to use big words to seem older. It is a dead giveaway and makes you seem less credible and untrustworthy.

Overwhelm – The truth is an audience, however interested they are in your topic, product or service, can only remember one main point every 10 minutes. Yes, that means that in a 30 minute presentation they may remember only 3 things. So if you are giving them 15-20 key points, they will be lost. They won’t know what is most important so they are less likely to remember any of it. Instead they will remember that you presented a lot of information and they couldn’t quite follow your thinking.

Disconnect – Now that they don’t find you credible and you have swamped them with details, your audience is likely to starting thinking about lunch, checking their phone or thinking about the things they aren’t getting done because they are in this meeting. None of these are thoughts you want them to have and it is almost impossible to get them back.

So edit your speech, pitch or presentation carefully. Decide what is most important to remember and leave the rest for next time. Your audience will appreciate it and more importantly, will remember you and your message in a positive light.

Corporate Deck - June Image

Deck - June Image