Posts Tagged ‘Strategic Communications’

Gina London – The Message is clear: Soft skills are a critical part of success

September 3, 2017

Back to school

It’s back to school time for the kids!

While we prepare to deal with the school-run surge in morning traffic, my daughter Lulu and the rest of Ireland’s students are (blessedly) preparing to sling on their book bags again.

Which reminds me, I spoke last Tuesday to a high level group of HR directors from an assortment of top tech companies.

Why do these professionals remind me of schoolchildren? – because we grown-up employees have a lot in common with not-yet-grown-up pupils!

The HR directors shared some of the biggest issues employees say they’re facing.

Top concerns centered around well-being and communications. They’re connected – and they’re issues children face as well.

When I lived in Italy, Lulu went to Aliotti, the most progressive primary school in town.

There, under the guidance of director Donata Baroni and English instructor Pavlina Checcacci, students are taught so-called ‘soft-skills’ alongside other subjects as part of core curriculum.

You can’t teach only knowledge anymore,” Pavlina says. “Twenty years ago, you went to university and studied a subject like engineering. The methodologies didn’t change for about every 10 years. Now it’s every five years. So, when you get out of school, what you learned is already out of date. Today, we need people who can communicate. That makes the difference.

If two people have the same amount of knowledge, yet one also has soft skills and the other one does not, the difference in their success is significant. Your success in business starts in primary school,” Pavlina says.

Likewise, here in Ireland, John Doran, guidance counsellor at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge, is championing his own approach called ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘, which, he says, “encourages students to adopt a growth mindset and to communicate with confidence“. It is currently being taught in 120 schools in Ireland and Europe. “If we don’t consciously teach young people to communicate, find their voice and create a literacy around emotional intelligence, we may end up with a generation in a fast-changing world that is unemployed, under-employed, or unemployable” John states.

Here in the business world, it’s high time to get serious about soft skills.

They’re not soft, they’re critical!

Let’s compare some student approaches to what we can do in our own professional lives:

1 Learn to give and receive constructive feedback

Here’s an example from Aliotti: Each child draws a picture. The artwork is put up on the wall. Each child is given a Post-it note and instructed to write one thing they like about the picture, one suggestion of what to do differently next time and then another thing they like.  The classic “compliment sandwich”.

At an early age and with a distinct twist, the children aren’t allowed to simply write something they “don’t like” in the middle. They must frame the criticism as a suggestion for the future.

Each artist reads the feedback aloud and thanks the writers.

This approach is structured and it’s a big deal – Imagine how more effective our business meeting debriefs would be if we had all learned, as children, how to organise our thoughts this way.

Productivity would surely increase if we spent less time getting personally offended and defensive from feedback. Learning not to punish the past but empower the future is a trademark of effective communicators.

2 Learn to work in groups

The HR directors who gathered at McKesson Cork’s remodelled offices, checked out the new “collaboration pods” – designed to get employees away from individual work stations and come together as teams.

More and more firms are updating work environments this way.

Similarly, John’s ‘Ways to Wellbeing‘ programme encourages group sharing for his students and Aliotti’s Pavlina says they’re committed to stop requiring children to work quietly alone.

When in your life will you sit in a room of 30 adults and not take opportunities to discuss things? We can’t prepare kids for a reality that doesn’t exist.”

3 Learn to be kind to others and yourself

Studies show the number one factor in team effectiveness is emotional sensitivity to the others.

Learning empathy is key because effective teams make sure everyone speaks and contributes to get a lot of ideas on the table and build consensus around the best idea.

‘Ways to Wellbeing’, stresses techniques to help develop more positive and constructive relationships. “We help them change their emotional state from one of fear and anxiety to one of effort and application” says John.

4 Learn how to learn from your mistakes

Aliotti concentrates less on grades and more on the process of problem-solving.

Pavlina puts it this way: “Life is all about the mistakes and errors and learning from them. So, we don’t just correct tests, we ask questions like ‘What did you do? Why did you do that? What can you do differently next time?’

We find the child who gets perfect grades and never makes mistakes may actually have difficulty as they get older. Children who learn how to try again and again may have an advantage.

Top university business schools like Stanford and Harvard are also adding highly interactive classes and exercises to develop these types of people to people skills. Your place of employment can introduce them too. After all, we’re all students in this school called life.

It’s time to learn soft!

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

Five great tips to ensure you can remember names

April 13, 2017

Tips to remember names

Oh, I’m terrible with names.” How many times have you heard that? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. As self-fulfilling

How many times have you heard that? Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. As self-fulfilling

Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. As self-fulfilling prophecies go, this may be one of the easiest to fall prey to. If you tell yourself you’re not good at remembering names, you probably won’t be.

I, on the other hand, am good with names. I’m not bragging here. I really am. I may not be great – I do occasionally have to be reminded of one – but I am good.

Recently, I was the featured speaker at the Enterprise Start-up Awards in Limerick. I was introduced to dozens of people in rapid succession.

I met contestants, academics, and some very high-profile people, including one with a famous family name of perhaps the most influential entrepreneur in Ireland. But all people matter, so all names are important.

I remembered them all!

Especially, Jerry, the technician, to whom I was introduced during the set-up, long before the event began. Later, during the program when my mic wasn’t working properly, I looked up to the control booth and asked for him by name: “Jerry, is there another microphone?

Smiling, Jerry zipped down with a new mic in hand. I then introduced him to the audience and asked everyone to give him and the other stagehands a well-deserved round of applause. An opportunity to recognise the efforts of someone made stronger due to the fact that I remembered his name.

I don’t deploy Derren Brown-style “memory palaces” or other fancy mental gymnastics to partner a person’s name with a rhyme or an object.

Like ‘Fancy – Nancy’ or ‘Burt in the Red Shirt’. No way. I am not that clever nor quickly creative.

But, simply, here is what I do. I find it really works.

1 FOCUS

Slow down and really focus on the person’s name. Chances are when you’re introduced to someone, you may have other things on your mind. Turn that off for a moment. Make the moment matter. Genuinely look at the person’s face and let their name sink in.

2 REPEAT

Silently say the name over and over in your head while you’re looking at them. I’m not talking a mindless repetitive mantra here, say it to yourself in a thoughtful way. Find meaning in the name.

Is it a name of someone you’ve met before, perhaps a relative or a dear friend? Jerry happens to not only be the name of the technician, it’s also the name of my step-dad for whom I have enormous love and admiration. That helped the memory stick.

3 SPEAK

Say the name back to the person. Don’t let yourself off easy, with a simple “nice to meet you“. Add “nice to meet you, fill-in-the-person’s-name-here.”

Of course, you don’t want to over-use the person’s name as an obvious measure to remember, but here is a great opportunity.

4 LEARN

If it’s an unfamiliar name, take the time to try to learn it properly; don’t simply nod and gloss over the introduction. In today’s global marketplace, this is especially important.

Here in Ireland, I am learning that names written in Irish, “Caoimhe” for instance, are said differently than I may first have thought. I also do a lot of work in Africa and am learning a range of great new names there as well.

The wife’s name of a business associate in Nigeria, for instance, is Olaseyi. It is pronounced “Oh-lah-SHAY-ee” and it also has a lovely lowering in pitch on the final syllable.

Where does your work take you? Wherever you go, the point is not to create a fuss about a new name, but to demonstrate your sincere interest in expanding your horizons – embracing the new – and getting it right.

This can build rapport with the person in addition to solidifying your recollection of that person’s name.

5 ENQUIRE

Take a moment to ask a question of the new person. Try to learn something about them. In your mind, repeat their story along with their name.

Rather than overloading your memory, this gives the name a story to stick to which makes it easier for you to recall the name when you need it.

After the awards ceremony, the head of the Limerick Institute of Technology Foundation, Kieran McSweeney, wrote to me: “It was an absolute pleasure meeting you yesterday. The inspiration of your talk was only surpassed by the warmth of the sincere friendship you extended to everyone.”

Thanks, Kieran, I credit that, in part, to taking the time to remember names.

It’s a good place to start to build a relationship – Business is built on relationships.

On Tuesday, CPL Resources, Ireland’s largest recruitment agency, held a conference in Cork to feature its latest research on ‘The Future of Talent‘.

It showcased how the best companies are getting the best people. Why jobs are being lost to machines – machines, like my iPhone, which are programmed to “know” your name.

Hello, Siri.”

Hello, Gina.”

Don’t let a machine beat you at having the human touch. I still believe people are the future of talent and if you’re a person, you can be better than Siri.

So, don’t tell yourself or others that you’re no good at remembering names.

It’s a blow-off comment that doesn’t get you off the hot seat. Take a breath and discipline yourself.

Try. You can remember names.

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina

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

This column is part of ‘The Communicator’ series that Gina writes for the Sunday Independent

 

The importance of remembering people’s names

April 12, 2017

Remembering names

Early on in my professional career, I learned how important it is to get names right and here I will give you my simple tips to help you get them right too.

My first job in Washington was on Capitol Hill in a Congressional office. The Chief of Staff’s first name was Christopher.

It’s Christopher. Not Chris,” he corrected me after I erroneously referred to him in the more casual manner.

Christopher wasn’t being fussy. He simply preferred his name how he preferred it. We went on to have a very solid working relationship. I always respected him for reminding me. Nothing wrong with that.

Our names are possibly the most important part of our identity.  

Later on, when I began working in television news in Washington at WTTG, I carefully made it a part of my job to learn and remember the names of everyone I met. I even made a little spreadsheet – listing names, positions and something cool or interesting about each person.

One day, about a couple of months in, I passed a producer in the editing hall whom I had probably met only once or twice before. “Hey, Mark,” I tossed out as I walked by. I won’t tell you his last name, but the cool thing I had listed was his ponytail. Very un-Washington-like!

Hey,” he turned, “You’re new, right? You clearly make an effort to remember names.

He went on to leave WTTG to become the producer for The McLaughlin Group, one of the best-known and longest-running current affairs panelist talk shows in US television.

I never forgot Mark. Or Christopher and to this day, I try not to forget names.

Last week, I traveled to Shannon to work with a group of directors from an aviation company. One of the directors’ first names was “Iarlaithe.” I have learned plenty of great new names here in Ireland, but this was a new one for me.

You probably haven’t heard my name,” Iarlaithe said to me. “It’s unusual.”

Yes, it is. It even says so when you Google it.

An unusual Irish name that means ‘earl’ or ‘tributary lord,’” reads the citation.  The name is also Irish for the St. Jarlarth, who, research shows, was noted for his piety and his teaching ability as he founded a school in County Galway.

The current Iarlaithe I met last week is known to me for his ability with numbers and that he likes his curry very hot!

I find the more I focus taking a genuine interest in people and their personalities and stories that surround them, the more I will remember the names that go with them.

I’m not perfect, mind you. Last summer, when I spoke at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Conference, I tried to show-off and go around the large ballroom and name everyone to whom I had been introduced. I got 99 percent – notoriously missing one gentleman I had been having a wonderful talk with before I came up on stage!

Thankfully, he forgave me. And I’ll keep trying to focus more!

Tune in for my next blog post, a copy of an article that I have written for my column “The Communicator” in the ‘Your Work’ business section of the Sunday Independent where I will share some simple tips that will help you to remember better.

If there’s a career communications topic you would like to me to cover in an upcoming column, or if you would like me to help you or your organization – please drop me a line at gina@Fuzion.ie

Great communications equal great relationships!

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina

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

How do you tell your story?

March 26, 2017

Gina London - Fuzion Communications

At the beginning of this month I had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies for the first Cork University Business School (CUBS) conference.

The theme was “Shaping Ireland’s Future” and the list of impressive speakers included top business leaders, entrepreneurs and broadcasters. From Marissa Brown, one of Ireland’s most successful business women and creator of Cocoa Brown to Harry McCann, the founder of the first digital youth council of the world. Each person sharing their vision, their journey and their story.

And it’s precisely how they tell their story – how well they communicate – that will largely mark each one of the speakers as the successes they are.  Research shows that when you line up people with equal competencies, the better communicators will always have the competitive edge.

As a former CNN reporter and anchor, I first learned the power of communications the lens of journalism: how to write compelling copy that hooks a viewer. After my days at CNN, I managed international campaigns – for politicians – like the first female parliamentary candidates in Iraq and opposition parties in Egypt – and on issues – like increasing immunization awareness in Cambodia.

Today, as a strategic consultant with Fuzion Communications, I see communications as a solid combination of style and strategy.

What does that have to do with you?

Quick!

Without any further preamble from me, find someone and shake their hand.

What did you get? 

Did every single one of you deliver a warm, firm embrace? Fingers curling around the other person’s hand with the pads of your fingers making contact with their hand in a meaningful way? Did you clasp for a full second or two?

Or did some of you find that you shook hands with a limp, dead fish!? Or who got the arm wrestler – the squeezer of death?

Why do I make a big deal about a handshake?

Because it’s often the very first thing we do when we’re introduced to someone – and for many of us – we don’t have any idea about whether we’re doing it right – or even if there is a right way or a wrong way.

But make no mistake – how you shake hands does send a message.  Think about it. What does shaking hands with the arm wrestler or the dead fish say to you?  Every time you interact with someone – you are communicating something – either by design or by default.

Whether I am working with clients or participating in a business conference like the upcoming CUBS event, I constantly witness that:

“Communications is not a soft-skill,  it’s a critical skill.”

Thankfully, communications is also a skill that can be learned – and put into action for better results – in every part of your lives.

Any time you have what I call a “communication event” – you are either moving your relationship forward or backward with that other person – or people – in your work and in your personal life. I mention both, because we aren’t two different people – we don’t have a professional life and a personal life – we just have a life.

For instance, applying skillful communications is critical when you first have a big idea. How are you going to pitch your product, platform or service? Even more than the market research and the projection numbers, the story you tell will either connect or not connect – with your intended audience.

How do you take the kernel of an idea, or, as you mature in your field, the depth of your knowledge and best communicate that kernel or knowledge -to various audiences? It takes emotional intelligence and communications training.

This past spring, the University of Florida officially announced a new translational communications centre dedicated to making science and tech better understood by all. They understand the importance of training scientists how to communicate to a lay audience.

There are two main facets of any communication event: content and delivery – and there are teachable strategies around each.

Before you create any content, you need to apply an AIM strategy. This is devised by Stanford University as 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 or both? Do they prefer Elvis or the Beatles? Tea or coffee? PC’s or Macs?

Every audience is different. Try to get inside their heads. What are their hopes, dreams and fears? 

I sometimes ask clients to write their agenda. Then write a second agenda from their audience’s point of view. Then I have them throw out their agenda and begin again from the second one!

2. INTENT. Your intent is never simply to inform. If you’re just doing that, then 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 deliberated points 1 and 2 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 organizing 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 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!”

Next! Now that you’ve crafted content, How do you deliver your message?

Think of presentation delivery as three legs of a stool, – words, para-lingual and body language.

1. WORDS. Use powerful, colourful, imaginative words. Don’t waffle or equivocate. Be bold. Choose active verbs not flat ones. Go for it in your word choice! Have you heard those people who say words are only 7 to 10 percent of communications?? Try watching a foreign film without subtitles and tell me if you understand 90-93 percent of what’s going on!! The words do matter!

2. PARA-LINGUAL. This mouthful just means the way we say our words. The tone, the pace, the volume, the pitch. These are tools we naturally vary when we’re talking to family and friends, but often get left behind when we deliver “business stuff.” When we don’t use them, they leave us sounding robotic, rote, dull and lifeless! You got ’em for football and rugby matches. Don’t leave them at home when you go to work!

3. BODY LANGUAGE. Whether we like it or not, unless we’re master poker players, our bodies are always “leaking” our emotions. And people are always reading us. How we hold our arms, our hands. Does your listening or concentrating face look interested or disinterested? Other people notice, so, take some ownership and get retrained to appear more engaged.

As we look to the future of Ireland’s economy, business leaders too, must learn how to improve their communications. Across vertical silos. Across countries and oceans too.

Like it or not, Brexit proponents and Donald J. Trump discovered how to break down and communicate potentially complicated messages in a simple way to reach their targeted audiences.  While critics may argue that those simpler messages also played on a constituency’s anger or fear, imagine what can happen when one creates simple, captivating messages that seek to inspire and motivate people to positive action?

It’s not too soon – or too late – to get started getting deliberate about your communications. Great communications equals great relationships in business and in life.

Thank you CUBS for such a fantastic event!

Gina London - Fuzion CommunicationsGina

Gina London is an award-winning former CNN correspondent who now serves as director of Strategic Communications at Fuzion Communications with offices in Dub;in and Cork, Ireland.

How you shake hands sends a message

March 13, 2017

Trump Handshake

“How you shake hands sends a message – Every interaction communicates something”

Last week, I had the privilege to be master of ceremonies at the first Cork University Business School (CUBS) conference.

The speakers included top business leaders and entrepreneurs, including Marissa Brown, one of Ireland’s most successful businesswomen, sharing their visions and their stories.

And it’s precisely how they tell their stories – how well they communicate – that I imagine will largely mark each one of the speakers as the successes they are.

Research shows that when you line up people with equal competencies, the better communicators will always have the competitive edge.

As a former CNN reporter and anchor, I learned the power of communications through the lens of journalism. I later managed international campaigns for politicians like the first female parliamentary candidates in Iraq and opposition parties in Egypt, and on issues like increasing immunisation awareness in Cambodia.

Today, in my current role with Fuzion Communications , I see communications as a solid combination of style and strategy.

What does that have to do with you? 

Without any further preamble from me, find someone and shake their hand.

What did you get?

Did you deliver a warm, firm embrace, fingers curling around the other person’s hand with the pads of your fingers making contact with their hand in a meaningful way?

Did you clasp for a full second, or two? Or did some of you find that you shook hands with a limp, dead fish? Or who got the arm wrestler, the squeezer?

Why do I make a big deal about a handshake?

Because it’s often the very first thing we do when we’re introduced to someone and many of us don’t have any idea about whether we’re doing it right.

But, make no mistake, how you shake hands does send a message. What does shaking hands with the arm wrestler or the dead fish say to you? Every time you interact with someone, you are communicating something either by design or by default.

Communication is not a soft skill, it’s a critical skill

Thankfully, communications is also a skill that can be learned – and put into action for better results – in every part of your lives.

Any time you have what I call a ‘communication event’ you are either moving your relationship forward or backward with another person.

For instance, applying skillful communications is critical when you first have a big idea. How are you going to pitch your product, platform or service? Even more than market research and projected figures, the story you tell will dictate whether or not you connect with your intended audience.

How do you take the kernel of an idea, or, as you mature in your field, the depth of your knowledge, and best communicate to various audiences?

It takes emotional intelligence and training.

Content and delivery

There are two main facets of any communication event: content and delivery, and there are teachable strategies around each.

Before you create any content, you need to apply a strategy for your audience, intent and message – in that order.

Here’s what you should consider:

1. Audience – Who are you addressing? Are they new hires or veterans? Senior management or the executive board? Women, men or both? Do they prefer Elvis or the Beatles? Tea or coffee? PCs or Macs? Every audience is different. Try to get inside their heads.

I sometimes ask clients to write down their agenda and then write a second agenda from their audience’s point of view.

Then I have them throw out their own agenda and begin again from the second one!

2. Intent – Your intent is never simply to inform. If you’re only doing that, 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, so define your goal very clearly. Too often I see this one overlooked and the goal becomes too broad or 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 OK. Be very specific.

3. Message – Only after you have deliberated the first two points should you move on to craft your message. Like intent, this must be clear too. Write it down in one sentence.

Here’s the definition I learned from organising campaigns: A message should be ‘brief, memorable, repeatable, emotional and data-backed’.

Your message is your “call to action“, your spoken declaration of your written intent. State it clearly and state it often. Don’t assume your audience is getting it.

The delivery

Once you’ve crafted your content, how do you deliver your message?

Think of a presentation as being supported by three legs of a stool: words, para-lingual and body language.

1.Words – Use powerful, colourful, imaginative words. Don’t waffle or equivocate. Be bold. Choose active verbs not flat ones.

For people who say words are less than 10% of communications, try watching a foreign film without subtitles and tell me if you understand 90% of what’s going on! Words matter.

2. Para-lingual – This mouthful just means the way we say our words – the tone, the pace, the volume, the pitch.

These are tools we naturally vary when we’re talking to family and friends, but they often get left behind when we deliver “business stuff”.

When we don’t use them, they leave us sounding robotic, rote, dull and lifeless.

3. Body language – Unless we’re master poker players, our bodies are always ‘leaking’ our emotions – and people are always reading us.

How do you hold your arms or hands, and does your listening face look interested or bored? Other people notice, so take ownership and get trained to appear more engaged.

Reaching your audience

Like it or not, both Donald Trump and Brexit proponents discovered how to communicate potentially complicated messages in simple ways to reach their target audiences.

While critics may argue that those simple messages also played on constituents’ anger or fear, imagine what can happen when one creates simple, captivating messages that seek to inspire and motivate people to positive action?

Gina London - Fuzion PRGina London is an award-winning former CNN correspondent who now serves as director of Strategic Communications at Fuzion.

Donald Trump and Simple Messages that connect

November 9, 2016

Donald Trump

What in the name of God is MAGA?

Of course it is an acronym for “Make America Great Again” used for hashtag purposes by Donald Trump with his social media posts.

This phrase is that one thing, that tag line if you will, which his whole campaign was built around – it is that one message that he kept pumping out over and over, in every speech and in every social media post.

Functionally when he uses #MAGA or any hashtag it pops out at you as it appears in a different colour and when you click on it you will see a listing of all of the social media posts where that was used. This makes it easy to track all of the posts.

People are bewildered about the success of this brash, uncouth, abrasive and insulting man who is now incredily the “Leader of the Free World“.

How is this possible?

While it is unbelievable I have a simple theory that I think partly explains the Trump pheonomena.

Here goes …

In this fast paced internet age where we are being assaulted 24/7 by messages and news via many media platforms it is very difficult to focus one’s attention properly.

As a result our attention spans are tiny and if you have a message that you want people to grasp then you must have one simple, clear message that is memorable and used consistently over and over.

This can be really effective because most people do not have the time or the inclination to dig deeper, to do their own research and properly inform themselves of all the facts about issues that are important such as who becomes the next President of the United States.

This key message should become your tagline and if possible it should be capable of being used as a hashtag in your social media posts.

BREXIT - We want our country back

For example in the recent BREXIT campaign the ‘leave’ campaigners put out a consistent campaign about “getting our country back“.

This simple message was pumped out over and over resulting in a majority of voters opting for ‘leave‘. What was clear afterwards was that many of these voters admitted that they had no idea about the consequences of their vote as will definitely be the case in the United States.

The ‘stay’ campaign had no clarity about their message so they made it easy for the opposition and with Hillary Clinton it was the same as “Stronger Together” just lacked enough punch and enough reasons for people to connect with it and vite for her.

A key learning for all of us in this ‘short attention span era‘ is that a simple clear message that connects with your audience used consistently will most definitely help you to connect and win.

I’m worried ….

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Strategic Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

What we do when no one is looking…

October 17, 2016

Cafe Velo - Cork

Rob runs Café Velo, one of the loveliest breakfast and lunch cafes here in Cork, Ireland. When I’m there, it’s as if I’ve walked back in time to when I lived in the 15th arrondissement in Paris.

Pastries are arranged behind the counter glass with artistic flair. The servers are just the right blend of warmth and chatty and the tea is served in delicate china.

I ran into Rob unexpectedly this week downtown – in a rare moment when he was not in his cafe. We stopped and chatted a bit and I casually asked about the single large book I glimpsed in the white shopping bag he was holding. Rob smiled and told me the book was for an elderly customer.

The man, in his eighties, reported in to Velo every morning for his daily scone. Except for this week when he suddenly did not appear. Rob inquired and learned the customer had had a stroke. And was in the hospital.

The man has no family to speak of. So Rob went out of his way on his own time to buy a book he thought the man would enjoy during his recovery. Now Rob was off to the hospital to pay the man a visit.

I was touched by the story and asked if I could write about it. Rob looked at me a bit embarrassed, but said, “Sure, go for it.”

So here it is!

I want to contrast a man like Rob with another man.

Rob was simply doing a kind thing. Without, in our day of Social Media marketing, even posting about it. Doing a kind thing when no one, he thought, was looking.

Donald Trump and his lewd comments

Compare that with that now notorious video, of a certain person running for US president objectifying women when the women weren’t present. Then he steps out of the van and “politely greets” one of the same women he had just talked so horribly about.

What we do when we think no one is looking says a lot about our true character, doesn’t it?

Not all men are the same. Rob’s act when he thought no one was looking was kind. And it was more than caring for a regular paying customer, it was caring of a fellow human being on this planet.

The more we can strive to get past race, religion and gender, and consider that we’re all just people together on this planet, perhaps we can all be a little kinder too.

Thank you, Rob, for a lesson all of us can learn from.

Gina London - Fuzion PRGina London

Gina London, a former Emmy award winning CNN anchor is a Strategic Communications specialist with Fuzion


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