Archive for the ‘Personal Marketing’ Category

The LinkedIn “headbutt”

August 11, 2020

LinkedIn Tips

It starts with the “connection request” from someone on LinkedIn – after a quick glance over the person’s profile I make a decision whether I will accept or not.

As I keep saying to people in our social media training courses these are not wedding proposals, so my own approach is to give the person the benefit of doubt, thank them for connecting and hopefully they will be another person in your ever extending network that you have had a positive interaction with.

Of course, some people will connect with you with the objective of selling us something – I have no issue with that really as in truth most of us want to make good connections, which hopefully could lead to more awareness and even a good business lead at some point.

I always say to people that in a world of social media there should be no need for “cold calling” and instead think of it as a place for “warm calling“.

Connect with someone relevant, try to have some positive interactions with them, build up some rapport and when and if the time is right gently introduce your services to them.

However, with many that idea just floats high above their heads and instead of taking the “warm calling” approach you get what I call the “headbutt“.

Boom…you didn’t see it coming, right into the forehead and you are left dazed – and you want to do business with me??

I connected with this guy just the other day (XXX is where his name was) and this is what I immediately got back, complete with getting my name wrong:

 Hi Grey

I’m XXX.

My client can bridge funds for your New or Ongoing Business. Do let me know when you receive this message for further procedures.

I am available. Thank you for your anticipated response.

Regards,

XXX

On what planet am I going to do business with this person?

Social media is brilliant for making valuable connections for you and your business – Use it to “warm call” and not to “headbutt”!

Greg

Greg Canty heads up the Digital Marketing team at Fuzion Communications and as part of our suite of digital services we offer social media training and social media consultancy, both face to face and online

 

 

Remote Meetings – Rules of Engagement

May 19, 2020

Over the past few weeks from toddlers to elder lemons, we have all had a baptism of fire when it comes to remote meetings.  

While we are well used to them at this stage you can see already an A to Z of how people are great or not so great using them so I thought it was worth writing this as we can all get a little bit better – it’s all about Communications!

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, so I have some tips that have helped me through this new way of working and could help you as well.

For us at Fuzion, it gives us the opportunity to say that we are very much open for business, sleeves up and ready to help. And it’s working for us – we even have won new business for the first time ever without ever having met the client face to face!

When the lockdown was announced first, we thought that was the end of all of our Social Media and Media Training as well as our Brand and Communications Workshops, but we quickly adapted and we have been busier than ever thanks to Zoom.

Remote meetings will never replace the valuable face to face connectivity but if we can get remote meetings right, think of the time we can save, not to mind the benefits to the environment and our pockets. 

It could mean that when the world “reboots” if we embrace remote meetings we will be far more productive and effective as individuals and as organisations and we might even win back some more quality of life.

Here are some of my learnings since conquering the fear of my laptop camera!!

  1. Be mindful of your image

Treat remote meetings as if you are all in the same room.

Wear work appropriate clothing and be mindful of your backdrop. If you have a home office, how about using one of your company’s pop ups, or if that’s not feasible either have a blank wall, or a backdrop that is clutter free.

The first week I just wore my gym gear – who cared…. It turns out I did. 

Part of my ability to thrive and not just survive during this time is keeping to my rituals and that includes giving myself time to look well every day – that way, if there is a last minute meeting – well I’m ready for my closeup!!!

  1. Turn your camera on – don’t hide

Pre Covid the majority of people kept their camera off and blamed the wifi! Now it’s becoming less acceptable to have your camera turned off.  

Now most people almost resent it where people leave their camera off.  You almost feel that they are hiding something, or that they don’t want to engage with you fully.

In most cases no one will say anything but they will see you (or not at all!) in a different light if you are the hidden one.

  1. Have the right light

Don’t sit with your back to the window or to strong lighting – all people will see is your silhouette. Use soft natural light to illuminate you in front or to the side. 

If you don’t have good lighting, invest in an LED Ring Light – They are great value, can plug into your laptop and offer a variety of lights and strengths depending on the natural light in the room.

In my room, I work with the light behind me, so I have positioned my laptop on books to the side with one of these LED lights behind the camera, so when I’m on a Zoom call, I turn the light on and it really softens the lighting.  

  1. Frame the camera correctly

Try out a number of positions/locations for the camera – which may also change during the day depending on light. 

Show all of your face. Place the camera at eye level or higher. Looking up at the camera makes you look more engaged (so they say!!)  And look into the lens, not at the screen. That’s where the people are, and that is how you make eye contact.

I have been on one or two meetings, where the other person’s camera was pointed at the ceiling, which is definitely worse than not having the camera on at all!!!

  1. Drown out noise

If you are in an environment where there are other people working near you, or there might be other distracting sounds you might consider using headsets. They could be the typical ones that come with your phone.

I’m working in an office on my own so I find the mic and the speakers on my laptop work fine, however some colleagues that run workshops and webinars prefer to use headphones or a headset with a mic.

Click this link that I found on the Zoom help resources on best cameras and headsets

  1. Sit up straight and proud

Don’t slouch, sit on a chair, rather than a couch if possible, so it feels more like a meeting setting. Don’t move as much as you might during an in-person meeting, and stay within the camera frame.

Saying that, I work from a couch, with cushions supporting my back as I work. 

I have my laptop to my side, connected to a big screen on a coffee table in front of me and my cordless keyboard on a tray on my lap. Very comfy as as it makes room for my new work colleagues – my dogs Honey and Bert either side of me!!! 

When it comes to meetings, I lean toward the edge of the couch, sit up straight, turn towards the camera which is to the side, so that the backdrop is the wall rather than all the cushions surrounding me. It keeps me focused sitting at the edge of the couch and I have my cordless keyboard and mouse on a tray, so I am able to access the screen if I need to.

  1. Look engaged

Remember it’s not a mirror, so don’t go fidgeting with your hair, or don’t click away on your computer keyboard while someone is talking. If you really have to click away or if there is any external noise like the dogs (or the kids) acting up, then mute when you are not speaking.

I was at a meeting the other day, where one of the ladies kept on tying her hair up and then down. She forgot that everyone could see her.

I think I preferred her hair down lol!!!

  1. Be on time

And that means joining the meeting a few minutes before the start time, to make sure your connection is working OK.

It’s sort of like getting the meeting room ready for the meeting. When I worked in the office, I’d always make sure the room was in order before the meeting and this is my way of making sure I create the best possible impression by being on time and that everything is working properly.

  1. Keep Meetings Short

Some people find remote meetings more draining than face to face meetings. So try and keep them to less than an hour. After the meeting walk around for a few minutes, grab a coffee or give the dog (or kid) a treat for behaving during the meeting!!

I find that I have to focus much more during remote meetings. I want to be sure I hear what everyone is saying and that I’m 100% engaged. So afterwards I feel really drained, but I find it helps keeping them to under an hour if at all possible.

  1. Go Zoom

I know there were some security issues regarding Zoom during the first week or so of the lockdown, but we find this platform really reliable and the quality of audio, visual and screen sharing functionality really good. 

It’s free to use to host meetings if they are under 40 minutes and it’s also free to use if you are just joining in on a meeting. You just need to download the app the first time you use it.

Their website is really great as well for tips on how to use the platform as well as general help with organising webinars, meetings or just working from home. Click here for a blog post from them I found really useful – tips on how to meet like a pro while working from home.

The biggest reason for using Zoom at this stage, is that it is quickly becoming the standard. People are becoming very familiar with it and if it is a meeting, a training session or a webinar make it as easy as possible for them and don’t place any barriers to entry, such as another platform they may not know.

So, that’s all from me – I hope you find these simple tips really useful, and you never know I could be meeting you soon, on Zoom or even better in person!  

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

LinkedIn – Group Hug!! (Are you joining groups?)

April 1, 2020

LinkedIn Groups - Social Media Training

From my experience most LinkedIn users are not using the very useful ‘Groups‘ facility on the platform.

For your industry or your business community there is more than likely a group set up with like minded individuals who have already joined.

These could provide you with the opportunity to interact with like minded people, discuss topical issues, solve problems, demonstrate your expertise, get information or these could easily help you to identify useful connections for your business or organisation.

If you do a search right now…Dublin Chamber, Cork Chamber. UCD Alumni, Marketing professionals, Hospitality professionals in Ireland – you are likely to find a group that matches your search.

Groups will have a filter process for members depending on how they have been created – you will need to request to join or be invited to join by an existing member and an administrator somewhere will decide whether to let you in or not.

If it is a group for a membership organisation it is very likely that they will not grant you access unless you are a member.

When you create a group you have a number of options including:

  • Name and description
  • Industry types (up to 3)
  • Stated rules for the group (how members should use and behave within the group)
  • Whether the group is visible or not: you could for example make it a “closed” group for your organisation so it won’t appear on searches
  • If you allow existing members to invite others to join
  • Approval setting for posts within the group.

New Feature: Messaging

The functionality is always changing so how you can use them is always changing. For example LinkedIn have just now given members within groups the ability to send a message to other members, without being connected to them (and without having the paid version of the platform).

These messages will come into you just like a normal message on LinkedIn.

So…look for a group today that could work for you and your business, click that ‘Join’ button and off you go!

Or…maybe you could be the one to create that group?

What are you waiting for?!!

Greg

Greg Canty heads up the Digital Marketing team at Fuzion Communications and as part of our suite of digital services we offer social media training and social media consultancy, both face to face and online

 

 

 

Show Me The Money!!!!!

July 31, 2019

Show me the money

My poor colleagues (you know who you are!) over the last few days have had to put up with me and a gripe I have re certain Social Media Influencers.

Working in communications, I know that Social Media Influencers can be such an important part of the marketing mix and such an effective way to reach target audiences. We work with celebrities and influencers constantly and achieve great results working in partnership with them and they deserve to be rewarded for the work they do for clients – it’s their livelihood!

But for me, a professional in this industry a long time, I think sometimes with certain influencers, when there is budget involved, it often comes across as inauthentic and mercenary.

An typical example – say we have a client organising a sports day – we pick an influencer that we know has a keen interest in this particular sport; pay them a four figure sum to participate in the event – and then we are told that their limit to social media engagement is “One static Instagram Post”!!

So basically they are saying, even though it is something that would be of interest to them, they won’t (really) engage digitally with the event, or the client or the people attending the event, who could be followers or potential followers. 

I think by not connecting authentically and being so rigid, in the long term it will cost these influencers in revenue, clients and followers.

It reminds me of the days back before social media.

We were working with an amazing Danish female fashion brand, who had really beautiful collections, totally current fashion, which were available nationwide. The brand provided us with high quality fashion and product images every season and budget to spend on advertising and PR. We got amazing PR coverage for the brand as the images as well as the price points were really attractive.

We had a five figure sum to spend with one of the high end fashion magazines, but for many seasons the title never took any fashion or product shots or editorial from us for the brand – but the title was more than happy to publish the full page adverts our client were paying for.

I spoke with the editor to see if there was anything she could do, to be told that the brand didn’t suit their editorial content, so I advised my client to pull the advertising!

Basically, the editor was telling me that my client’s brand was not of interest to their readers, and obviously we were fools spending the advertising budget there as well.  

Of course that was before the economic crash and the age of digital – when print titles perhaps could afford to act like this.

For me this Social Media Influencer is saying the same thing as the magazine did.

By only agreeing to do “One Static Instagram Post”, they are saying that my client’s event is not really relevant to them or their followers. 

I don’t expect or want them to bombard their followers with lots of posts and updates about the event, but it would be nice to think that they would want to tell their followers that they were going to attend , perhaps on their Instagram Story, share a live update while they are there and then post some nice photos of the special day out, meeting their followers and new people at something that is relevant to them.

If it’s just “One Static Instagram Post” then forget it!

They are saying to me clearly that they really are there just to collect the money, not to engage digitally with the brand or the people attending on the day.  

I’m at this too long now to compromise. 

I really want to work with authentic people and brands and that includes the third party suppliers and influencers we introduce and recommend to our clients.  We always go the extra mile for our clients and we expect the people that we recommend to do likewise.

So, in this case I advised our client not to go with this influencer and instead to work with Influencers who have already connected with the brand organically, who have shown that they are connected and willing to really be part of a very special day. 

My client’s four figure cheque will be addressed to one of them if I have anything to do with it……

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Should your celeb ambassadors stay at home?

July 7, 2019

Should your celeb ambassadors stay at home?

That sentence might seem like a contradiction, coming from someone who works in public relations.

Raising awareness for worthy causes is part of my job when working with charities. Utilising the high profile and credibility of a celebrity is a good way to do that, right?

The answer is yes, sometimes.

Reputation is the foundation of the work I do. I know only too well how easy it is to damage a reputation and how difficult it is to build that reputation back up. I also know how easy it is for labels to be attached to the collective public mind and how difficult it is to change minds once an idea takes hold.

That is why everything I do in my role as a communications professional has to be strategic. It is my job to boost, but more importantly, to protect a reputation.

Comic Relief recently announced that it will stop sending celebrities abroad after BBC presenter Stacey Dooley posted a picture on Instagram with a young Ugandan child, along with the caption “;OB.SESSSSSSSSSSED” and a picture of a broken heart.

The post sparked outrage and Dooley was accused of ‘white saviour complex’.

Stacey Dooley Comic Relief post

But what was wrong with the image?

To begin with, it appears self-serving, the perception being that Stacey is using a child to push a charitable image of herself. In turn, this adds to the idea that countries such as Uganda are poverty-stricken lands that need to be ‘saved’.

Stacey’s refusal to apologise and her remarks that she “couldn’t care less what people think,” didn’t help to diffuse the situation that Comic Relief found itself in.

I have worked in several humanitarian organisations. I have sent a number of celebrities abroad to major crises such as Ebola and Syria. It makes sense, doesn’t it? The crises that are ongoing globally need to be highlighted.

Human suffering is occurring at a scale never before seen, yet organisations are finding it more and more difficult to get their message out there. Who better to help raise awareness than a celebrity?

Stacey is giving up her time and showing compassion in a difficult situation. Isn’t that a good use of her fame?

It is a complicated issue.

Yes, these crises need to be highlighted and reported on, but it must be done in a strategic and informed way.

Stacey Dooley appeared to be uninformed on what constitutes inappropriate behaviour. She lacked the strategic knowledge of the damage her fame could do and the powerful potential of broadcasting an inappropriate message to her huge following on Instagram.

Brand ambassadors who are under-prepared and unprepared can do untold damage to more than just the organisations they represent. The well-meaning work of Bob Geldof and Live Aid is a classic example.

Bob Geldof did put Ethiopia on the map in Europe and the U.S., but for the wrong reasons.

Today, the country’s reputation is one that is synonymous with the “flies on the eyes”, the “swollen bellies” and dry dead earth and it is holding Ethiopia back.

This kind of imagery has been used by the press to tell the story of African countries for nearly 35 years and it has led to the stereotyping of an entire continent as poverty-stricken, disease filled and desperate. This has a social and economic knock on effect.

Three years ago I travelled to Ethiopia to report on the effect of climate change. My colleague explained to me how, even now, his country is still defined by a famine that happened 33 years ago. He told me about how visitors come to Addis Ababa expecting to find a broken, grieving and barren country, and how they are shocked when they see motorways and skyscrapers.

There is no doubt that poverty is still a devastating problem in sub-Saharan Africa, but the image and reputation of the region has been irreparably shaped since 1984. Changing that stereotype and reputation is going to take a lot of work.

It is very difficult to move the public enough to donate to a charity.

I personally have heard arguments from countless members of the Irish public saying they won’t donate to the Syrian Crisis because they have seen many refugees with mobile phones who don’t appear to be “that poor”.

The temptation for a communications professional in that sector then is to only show the sympathy-grabbing, tear-jerking “fly-in-the-eyes“imagery. Shocking imagery is not balanced coverage of the continent’s more successful side.

Dooley using a photo opportunity with a child in Uganda and using them for likes or a photo op is not only insensitive, it continues the narrative of this stereotype. It is suggesting we need to “save them”, and we don’t.

The Mission Statement of most Humanitarian and development organisations is to inevitably go out of business, that the country will no longer need the organisation, to empower the people for whom they work, and to safeguard their rights and well-being post crisis and create a thriving economy that is sustainable.

Unfortunately images such as the image Stacey Dooley posted, does not empower anyone. It continues to empower a reputation so many Sub Saharan Countries have been working tirelessly to counteract.

It doesn’t matter if the action was well-intentioned, it is the impact that matters. 

Ciara Jordan - Fuzion CommunicationsCiara Jordan

Ciara Jordan is an Account Director with Fuzion Communications, a full service agency who provide Marketing, PR and Graphic Design Services from offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland.

 

The end of the Business Card?

July 3, 2019

Business Card etiquette

I was having a chat yesterday with a businessman who was saying how LinkedIn was his new business card – that when he meets a new business contact, instead of handing them a business card he connects with them on LinkedIn, so he has that electronic connection.

This is a perfect use of social media tools for business, but I think he is missing a big point of the business card.

For me my business card is an opportunity to showcase my brand to a new contact “Look who I am and where I work”, ““Look at what we can do”, “Look how well we look”.

I just love the Chinese and Japanese culture around business cards, how it is considered rude not to present your business card properly and then to examine a business card respectively and carefully when you are presented with one.

They almost have a ceremony around business cards – how they present it with two hands and you are expected to receive it in both hands, study it and put it beside you if you are at a meeting with them. The business card is considered to represents the person.

I remember 20 years ago when I first started Fuzion Communications, I didn’t have a fancy office, I was working with a borrowed laptop, but I invested in my branding and my business cards, as out and about meeting people, my business cards were my shop window!

Even in our digital age, I still like to present my business cards – and I always watch how they are received. I think it’s a great way to judge if someone is actually engaging with you, to see how they react when you hand them your business card.

So next time you present a card to someone, see how they receive it – and when someone gives you a business card, accept it with honour – you never know, they might have read this blog post too!!

Deirdre Waldron, Fuzion Communications, PR ConsultantDeirdre 

Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Tackling that age-old question in our modern marketplace

November 27, 2017

Old and young

When it comes to age, I’m a firm proponent of “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.

Recently a journalist who was interviewing me asked me my age. I get it.

I used to be a newspaper reporter and I know it’s traditional to write, “So-and-so, age blah-blah, did fill-in-the-blank.” But I also know it’s not a hard and fast rule.

There are plenty of stories these days that don’t include a person’s age. Therefore, I politely said to the reporter, “I prefer not to give the number as it’s not germane to the story.

She accepted that and the story was printed no problem.

Likewise, if you’re in the jobs market and are of a certain age, you may find yourself struggling to overcome other people’s preconceived notions around your particular number.

Unless you’re a 102-year-old who swam the English Channel or a 12-year-old who graduated from university, age shouldn’t be the leading factor.

1 Stop referencing your age

At an event, a very lovely female participant came up to me and complimented my shoes. Then she lamented,”When I was your age, I could wear heels. But it’s been forever.

Another time, I heard a man say to colleagues at a project meeting, “Give that task to Peter. I’m too old.

How often do you reference your age? How often do you draw unnecessary attention to the distance between your age and that of your audience?

At first glance this might seem aimed at older folks. But the same goes for younger folks too. The whole, “Oh, I wasn’t even born back then” crowd.

It’s fine to talk about age with your best friend, but if you want to stay vigorous or be taken seriously in the workplace, then cease your own ageism. You might be your worst enemy.

Interviewers aren’t allowed to ask you your age. So, don’t out yourself.

Sure, put your universities and degrees on your CV. Just don’t put the dates.

2 Mine your contacts

A reader from western Ireland wrote to me saying he’s a 64-year-old former sales professional frustrated because he hasn’t found work in four years.

He’s convinced his age is part of the reason his CVs are not getting traction. He says he’s sent out more than 200 of them over the years but landed nothing.

But he also tells me that in four years he has probably only reached out to ‘two or three’ of his former contacts. So, I am working with him to strengthen his strategy.

Think about the wide-range of people you have met over the years. Talk to them. Ask them for people you can call. Cold resumes don’t result in jobs nearly as much as warm referrals do.

3 Mix it up

In addition to tapping into your friends and contacts from throughout your career, you can also network with people younger than you. Is there a business incubator you can join? Is there a project they’re working on that could benefit from your experience?

You might want to think less about a full-time job and more about piecing together consulting work.

4 Power up your profile

You don’t have to have a zillion followers, but, you should immediately set up a LinkedIn profile and a Twitter account. We can chat Facebook and Instagram and whatever else later. For now, let’s focus on these two.

First, I recommend Canva.com to create a polished header for your social media accounts. Then you should spend some time crafting words about you and your experience that are strong, punchy and engaging.

Also be sure to Google professionals you admire to see what they’re doing.

Don’t completely plagiarise, but do borrow ideas, formatting and/or a few keywords from others. Don’t be afraid to be creative. You can always adjust your copy.

But if you write the same old, same old, you’ll sound the same as everyone else and, well, “old”.

In short, if you’re not online, you’re not relevant.

5 Shape up

If you’re not eating right and exercising regularly, do not blame your age alone for gaining weight. Your physical health is connected to your mental health.

This is a scientific fact and it’s also the perception of many potential employers.

The more fit you are physically, the more you will be perceived as someone who is fit for the job.

The same goes for your wardrobe and grooming. Wear something sharp and current. And for heaven’s sake, if you have hair growing out of your ears, get rid of it!

We can be put in a box once our number becomes the lead of our story.

Like, “She looks great for 45….” Or “He appears much younger than 50….

Whose opinions are these? Why can’t it just be, “You’re doing great“, period? It can.

A 65-year-old client of mine, who is right on top of each of my suggestions, told me this week that a friend of his remarked, “I have never seen you have so much energy!

That’s a great report. And it can be yours too. Your experience combined with applying these strategies actively will make it so.

Is your age holding back your career?

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Expressing what you think of others online

July 4, 2017

Trump

Sometimes when you make your feelings known about others it can end up saying even more about you than it does about them:

Trump tweets

Be careful what you say online..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Social Media Consultancy from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

Emojis and other informal communications: Why you must say it with feeling!!!

July 3, 2017

EmojisRecently, US President Donald Trump visited Israel’s holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. Having visited there myself, I remember it as heart-wrenching experience.

Trump signed the guest book, “It is a great honour to be here with all my friends. So amazing and will NEVER FORGET!

The short message touting “all my friends” with the unlikely upbeat “amazing” adjective angered some, with it being described as adolescent or thoughtless.

Media outlets contrasted it with a variety of more eloquent notes written by US government officials who visited in the past.

When you write a thing like that in a place like that, it’s permanent. But so, too, for those of us whose jobs haven’t put us in the White House!

If you write as a habit without thought or intention, it can become a liability. You don’t want to communicate unconsciously. But that is precisely what many of us do.

Let’s explore two sides of the coin:

1: Uber-informal  – I made up that term, but you know what I mean.

A new business contact sent me an email on Wednesday. It has one, two, three, four smiley face emojis and one thumbs-up emoji. (And yes, I had to look it up, the preferred English plural for emoji is emojis.)

I use emojis too. Generally, however, I reserve them for casual emails to friends or social media posts.

For business writing, while I always aim for a friendly and warm tone in my word choice, I probably wouldn’t pop in an emoji unless I know the client very well and believe they are the emoji type.

To be fair to the person who sent me that emoji-filled email, we had met briefly face-to-face at an event I spoke at recently and since I have an amiable, energetic style of delivery, he must have presumed – correctly – that I would welcome them.

Decide what works for you. For instance, I can’t bring myself to use “LOL”, but I unapologetically roll out an exclamation mark when I want to add enthusiasm to the written word. Compare, “It was great to meet you yesterday.” with “It was great to meet you yesterday!

Sometimes, I even go for more than one. But never five out of respect to author Terry Pratchett who wrote that five exclamation marks is the “sure sign of an insane mind”.

Our written style of business communication is changing. Don’t be a dinosaur and dismiss new forms of expression as a “fad” – like an older member of the Sunday’s Marian Finucane Show panel I sat on did as we discussed social media. The influence is real. If you want to be relevant, consider social media writing style tools.

2: Uber-formal  – The other side of the business-writing coin is devoid of emotion.

One of my clients, preparing to establish a new company-wide email protocol, sent me a sample email to review. Without revealing who it’s from, here’s my review. “Dear all, IT will be changing our printer in the morning to badge print setup. Instructions are below on how to use the badge printing. ‘Bob Smith’ will also be around in the morning to answer any queries. I have also left some leaflets on the stationery press for your reference. Best regards,”

At face value this is fine. It’s a straight-forward “informative” business email. It delivers information. Nothing else.

But, if you consider the themes we have been exploring in my column for the past several weeks – employee engagement, leadership warmth, kindness, and building a sense of one-team, there are a variety of things that could be applied here.

1 Salutation/Greeting: A desire to establish a protocol around emails may include a single, directed salutation. “Dear all” for every e-mail is fine. Realise however, that over time, no one sees this anymore. The reader’s eyes simply move directly to the next sentence. Consider an agreed upon range of salutations, or deliberately allow salutations to be customised for the reader.

2 Body: This is very straightforward, as I mentioned. I wonder if the body would change once the audience’s reaction is considered. Does everyone understand what is happening with the printers? Do they know this change is coming? Will anyone possibly be confused by this? What will happen next when someone reads this? If there are concerns that could be perceived before writing, then referring to concerns in the body would demonstrate care.

3 Sign Off: Same as with the salutation. The way a written correspondence is signed off can become so rote as to have people not even see it. Even within protocol, here’s another opportunity to connect in a thoughtful variety: “Have a great rest of your day”, “Kindly”, “Cheers”, etc.

4 Bonus: What if you make “new email protocol” a campaign? Have people submit their top three “Greetings and Sign-offs for internal and external emails. Announce all the entries. Then announce and reward winners. Introduce some fun and engagement.

You can align your written communications to reflect your professional corporate brand. Becoming a more deliberate communicator means learning to tailor your communications style to the appropriate audience and platform.

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon

Take AIM at your audience and make them like you

May 24, 2017

LikeableToday I am going to talk about likeability.

It’s something you should strive for when you’re presenting in a business setting. Practically every business communication event involves selling something. If not directly a product or service, then at the very least, a point of view.

You are likely hoping to persuade your audience of something or trying to motivate them to do something, aren’t you? Therefore, finding a way to demonstrate that you care about the people with you in the room when you present is precisely the way to encourage them to care for you and your position.

Last week, when I emceed the Irish Centre for Business Excellence conference, keynote speaker, psychologist, and author, Owen Fitzpatrick, reinforced this idea as he explained how influence is best achieved when you spend time asking questions of and taking an interest in the other person first.

In short, we teach people how we want to be treated.

For many, this “be likeable” notion might not come naturally. Instead, we focus on our proof points and logic to carry us through. Sorry, folks, because I do want you to like me but, blech – that is often super boring.

But knowing some need a structure to dial up on “likeable”, I teach my clients to apply a logic-based methodology.

Derived from communications lecturer JD Schramm of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, this approach helps you get systematic in your presentation preparation – especially if you’re not naturally inclined to consider others.

Gina London - Fuzion Communications

The methodology is boiled down to three simple letters: AIM.

Audience. Intent. Message. In that order.

1 Audience

Take a moment to consider who is in your audience.

Are they new-hires or veterans? Senior management or the executive board? Women or men? Both? Other? Do they prefer Elvis or the Beatles? PCs or Macs? Coffee or Tea? For my Irish audience, Barry’s or Lyons?

When CNN first promoted me to anchor, they sent me to an anchor-training school in Dallas, Texas.

I didn’t realise there was such a place. There is. One thing the trainer told me back then in Texas particularly stuck with me.

He said that no matter how dry or dense a story may seem, someone out there watching will be emotionally affected by it.

Every story has a ‘hope, dream or fear’ attached to it,” he said. It’s important to try to see the pictures inside their heads.

I sometimes ask clients to write their presentation agenda.

Next, write a second agenda from the audience’s point of view. Then I have them throw out that first agenda and begin again from the second one.

This is what I mean by truly considering the others’ points of view.

2 Intent

Your intent is never simply to inform.

If you’re just doing that, then you might as well simply put your information in an email and hit the send button. You must be trying to motivate or inspire your audience to some sort of action.

Define your goal very clearly. Too often I see this one overlooked.

The goal is too broad and ill-defined. What is it exactly that you want your audience to do after you’re finished speaking? Even if it’s just to agree to another meeting. That’s okay. Be very specific.

3 Message

Only after you have dealt with points one and two should you move on to craft your message. Like intent, this must be clear too. Write it down. One sentence!

Here’s the definition I learned from organising campaigns:

A message is “Brief, Memorable, Repeatable, Emotional and Data-backed“.

But it’s not only the data. While supportive, taken stand-alone, data dumps, as I already mentioned, are often dry and boring.

Your message is your ‘call to action‘ – your spoken declaration of your written intent, your motivation!

State it clearly and state it often. Don’t assume your audience is just “getting it“.

If you know your AIM, before you start writing, you will be better at framing and outlining your talk.

A client wrote to me just this week proclaiming that he now realises “this isn’t going to be an easy fix. It will take serious effort“.

He’s right!

Here’s a prime example from one of the readers of my column:

The 82-year-old writer shared that he learned how “to think and speak more clearly” through communications training.

He applies the training all the time, including just last Saturday when he said a few words at his 80-year-old sister’s birthday party in London. “Communications training has become a way of life.“, he wrote.

To my client and you lovely people reading today: Exactly.

Applying AIM and becoming deliberately more likeable to your audience will take time. But I promise, it is worth it.

From presentations, to one-on-one scenarios, from spoken to written if you have a question about communications that you would like me to deal with in my column in the Sunday Independent please send me an email at gina@fuzion.ie .

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina London

Gina London is a former CNN anchor and international campaign strategist who is now a Strategic Communications director with Fuzion Communications. She serves as media commentator, emcee and corporate consultant. @TheGinaLondon


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