Tag Archive for 'The One Minute Presenter'

7 things to know about how new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella communicates in public

Satya Nadella is the new CEO Microsoft. No doubt we’ll be hearing more from him over the years. But how does he fare as a smart and engaging communicator? Here are seven points to consider:

1. He’s a subject matter expert. When you listen to his interviews and keynote talks, you’ll be left in no doubt that Satya is a tech guy. He’s knows his stuff. You’ll hear him talking a lot about the cloud.

2. He looks the part. Satya is very well dressed and exudes the look of a business leader without looking too slick. He has presence.

3. Good energy. While not at the over-the-top energy levels of former-CEO Steve Ballmer, Nadella certainly brings good energy to his public talks. He has a clear voice, a good physical presence and cuts a dynamic figure. He brings good energy to the room.

4. During keynotes, he tends to speak a little on the fast side. Added to his high energy style this can become a little overwhelming after a while. His delivery can seem a little one tracked and one paced at times. A few pauses to break up ideas would help the audience digest his ideas. A shifting between energy states to create difference responses from the audience would improve his delivery.

5. He falls into the trap of a technical professional. He leads with content and forgets to have a message. If you stopped his keynote speech after five minutes and said, “Okay, so what was that about?”. You’d struggle to easily pick out a message or takeaway idea without retelling his ideas. Without a headline message, all the data points, process and buzzing ideas will be quickly forgotten.  As he becomes the figurehead of Microsoft, this will likely change. Why? See the next point.

6. I love the fact that he describes himself as a learner.  Satya defines his motivations as “Family, curiosity and a hunger for knowledge. “  This desire will make him a quick study and I’d expect we’ll see a very different public persona from Satya – especially to general and non-technical audiences – over the next 12 months.

7. He loves cricket. And if he can explain cricket to people who didn’t grow up with it – then there’s nothing he can’t explain!

To learn more about Satya Nadella, visit my Scoop page with articles from multiple sources. Click here.
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The Engaging Speaker is aware of the changing energy in the room

Surviving an Ironman race needs control of your energy

I’ve completed the grueling Ironman Triathlon which is a race involving a 3.8km open water swim, 180km bike ride and finishes with a marathon, back to back all on the same day. The race has a cut off time of 17 hours and I finished my last one in around 12 hours 30 mins. Needless to say, it’s a long day and your energy levels change throughout the day. Nervous excitement before the swim. Steady rhythmic effort to complete the swim. A burst of energy on the bike before settling into a long ride with ups and downs, trying to hold on to your pace in the final 60km while holding back enough for the run. The marathon starts at a lively pace. It’s the final segment and if everything falls apart, you can always walk. You hold a pace, keep it ticking over. Everything seems good until half way through, muscles start to cramp, pain comes. Your pace drops a bit, you fight it to keep going. From 30-38km, you’re in complete pain, you think about quitting or walking. Somehow you keep your body moving forward quietly encouraging yourself and feeding off the energy of the crowd’s cheers. Finally you hit 38km, you realize that in 2km it’s only 2km to go. You perk up. Your pace rises. You find a new wind. You’re going to finish. The final one kilometer, you’re hitting euphoric levels as your endorphins kick in. You finish the marathon practically sprinting, fall over the line and break down into a heap. Before standing up with a warm painful glow of completion. Success.


Energy levels change through a presentation

The Engaging Speaker is aware that energy levels change through a presentation. Shorter presentations are easier to plan. Longer full day sessions require more detailed mapping. Remember people are fresh in the morning so get right into the content. Keep things moving along. Set the tone for starting and ending breaks on time. Plan your afternoons particularly carefully. Participants energy levels tend to dip around an hour to two after lunch, especially if they’ve had a big hotel buffet lunch. During this time period, move towards more physical exercises. Add higher impact team activities. Move things around. Shift venues. Keep things moving, changing and adapting. Finish strong. Have a clear conclusion to the day. Keep a couple of short energizers in your pocket in case the energy plunges. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Ask the participants what they’d like to do to pick up the energy.


Be aware that you create the energy in the room, not the audience

If you looked at your last talk or upcoming presentation in terms of creating energy, what would your energy chart look like? Would it be high at the start and then gradually falling away to nothing? Would it be low at the beginning, peak in the middle and drift off? Or would it look like a read out of a healthy heart with regular peaks and troughs. A good presentation should start and finish strong but should allow time to reflect, time to pick things up and a time for interaction.


What energy map are you creating?

Map your presentation’s energy chart. Is it in line with your message? A rallying sales meeting will start high and finish higher. A senior management crisis talk will have moments of low before building up momentum towards the end. The Engaging Speaker sets the tone for the talk and creates the energy, the enthusiasm, the experience for the audience.

Big mistakes executives make while communicating

Speak without a clear message

Executives from technical disciplines, such as finance or engineering, often have a misconception that technical ability is more important than communicating effectively. The very skills that make technical experts successful actually prevent them from being promoted to senior management. They focus too heavily on process and small details when the situation requires something more concise. Unlike junior managers, a senior executive’s main role is to communicate a clear and compelling message.

Executives with presence understand how to tell the story behind the numbers, correctly balancing big-picture with small details. The best executives, such as Steve Jobs, communicate effectively using simple and concise language that conveys powerful and memorable messages. Jobs has honed this skill over the years and his product launches contain such gems as, “Today, Apple reinvents the phone” from the 2007 iPhone launch. This ability to express a situation in its simplest terms is often overlooked by technical executives. However, all effective executive communicators have mastered this art.

Here are some examples of four word messages which can be used as an “umbrella” message or overall message for a pitch, presentation, change initiative or campaign. Once you have an umbrella message, each supporting section would also be given a short message to summarize that section of information:

Better city, Better life” from Shanghai Expo 2010.
“The best-run businesses run SAP”from SAP Advertising campaign.
“Stay hungry, stay foolish” – Steve Jobs commencement address at Stanford, 2005.
“Real Estate for Your World” from Century 21.
“The Ultimate Driving Machine” from BMW.
“The Company for Women” from Avon Products, Inc.
“Expect More. Pay Less.” from Target Corporation.
“Photonics in the Fast Lane” from Thor Labs.
“The Miracles of Science” from DuPont.

Taken from the book “Speaking with Purpose: “How to present ideas that matter in 18 minutes or less”. Learn more about the workbook here.

About the Author

Warwick helps C-level executives, working in multinational companies based in Greater China, who need to become more confident and effective in their spoken communications. Warwick helps the executive project a clear message allowing them to express their opinions powerfully and gain respect from senior managers even when under pressure.”

Warwick is the author of “The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world”.

Buy The One Minute Presenter here.

Why are technical presentations so boring?

Well it depends who’s listening.

Obstacles when giving technical presentations to non-technical people:

  • Don’t adjust to audience’s level of understanding
  • Fear of exposure
  • The presenter’s style
  • Lack of skill in showcasing numbers
  • Forgotten storytelling skills


Don’t adjust to audience’s level of understanding

Giving a technical presentation to fellow technical people is easy. They see the world in a similar way to you. They understand your thinking and your acronyms. They know the context of your explanations. In short, they are much like you. It’s easier to be understood by people like us.

But what happens when you’re presenting to senior managers? I’ve seen this happen countless times. The technical presenter – whether from IT, engineering, quality assurance of finance – assume that the senior executives understand them. In fact, they often assume that because they’re senior managers they know the material BETTER than the technical presenter.

This is mostly not the case. Often the higher you go in an organisation the more distance a manager is from the heart of the technology, or techniques. A good presenter will adjust their content to match the audience’s level of understanding.


Fear of exposure

After ten years of working around Asia with technical professionals, I’ve come to believe that a trait of a technician is “I say too much because I know too much”. I think that these very intelligent people suffer from a fear of intellectual exposure. If they don’t show how smart they are on their subject matter expertise then they will be judged.
Often the opposite is the case. The reason why we like TED talks so much is because very intelligent people are talking on very technical topics and making them so very accessible for everyone. I think to use the analogy of you should be able to express what your presentation is about to an intelligent ten-year old. In today’s world you’re rewarded for saving people time and energy. Don’t worry we know you’re smart!

The presenter’s style

In my experience as a presentation skills educator, I’ve observed thousands of presentations from technical executives. I’ve noticed that they tend to be very process-driven. They start at the beginning and they end at the end, often going into excruciating details along the way. They tend to be deliver with a very steady and on-the-low-side energy level. They’re often completely focused on the data. This is largely due to the style of the presenter. Technical presenter’s love this style. Most audience’s don’t.

Lack of skill in showcasing numbers

Technical presentation need numbers. Often in detail. But does this mean that all the numbers should be shown all at once on one slide!

No. But why do so many presenters do this? I think it’s risk-aversion (another trait of technical presenters!). The thinking is “if I put all the numbers up, the audience will work out which ones are important”. But the presenter needs to shape the meaning. When working with numbers the law of contrast and comparison needs to be used. Presentation of numbers need to be simplified so that the data supports a particular message. This is simple to understand once you know the techniques. By judging from the amount of slides I see crammed full with charts and data tables, it’s not yet fully and widely understood.


Forgotten storytelling skills

What do stories have to do with technical presentations? Well, a lot. If you want to engage and hold an audience’s attention these days, you better learn story telling skills. Learn how to pace and adjust your voice and your energy levels. Learn the flow of a story. How to create tension or curiosity. And importantly how to have a morale (or message) to your story. You have to tell the story behind the numbers. That’s your job!


Ask us about “The Technical Presenter” Workshop which helps technical professionals communicate concisely, engagingly and memorably to non-technical audiences. Your meeting productivity will shoot up!

Warwick John Fahy and The One Minute Presenter Team


About the Author

Warwick helps C-level executives, working in multinational companies based in Greater China, who struggle to get their point across and influence their key stakeholders. Warwick helps the executive project their message with confidence allowing them to express their opinions powerfully and gain respect from senior managers even when under pressure.”

Warwick is the author of “The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world”.

Now available on Amazon.com.

Sign up to “52 Tips to more confident public speaking” newsletter at www.warwickjohnfahy.com

8 links to business articles that executives need to read

This week I have selected 8 links for business articles that I have been reading over the National Golden Week Holiday in China:

1. Why Business Meetings Are Often a Waste of Time — and Productivity

2. Do Like Steve Jobs Did: Don’t Follow Your Passion

3. Asking Better Questions Leads to Clarity and Develops Employees

4. Fall of a Hero. Why you just can’t trust anyone in elite cyclying to tell the truth

5. If I Read One More Platitude-Filled Mission Statement, I’ll Scream

6. Leadership Communication Is Key to Successful Change

7. Business Is Sweet. Godiva Chocolatier is enjoying double-digit growth, thanks in part to innovative chocolates and expansion in Asia, says CFO Dave Marberger.

8. CFOs: Do you find yourself feeling uncomfortable when asked to present to the Board of Directors?

 If you need to boost your leadership capacity, then learn more about Warwick’s services here.

Talk less, say more: three ways to becoming more influential

Today’s topic: Talk less, say more.

“Talk less, say more” is the title of a book by Connie Dieken. It’s an easy to read book with three broad steps and plenty of quick tips on how to be more effective as a communicator in today’s distracted world. The message is very much inline with the philosophy of The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to more successful business presentations in a short attention span world. 

The three steps or habits are:

  1. Give people what they want and value so they’ll tune in
  2. Use portion control to get your points across with clarity, not confusion
  3. Create commitment to influence decisions, actions, results. 


Connect: Managing Attentions

I’m a big believer that the major communication obstacle we all face today is shortening attention spans. Station 4 in The One Minute Presenter is called Create your Connection and this first habit is all about how to connect. Connie gives good suggestions around Staying in their Moment which is all about listening carefully. She also introduces a concept called “Frontloading” which means you quickly find what’s relevant to your listener and communicate what matters most to them first. This helps the audience stay connected to you and your message. Another technique involves been more candid. Connie suggests that you don’t sugercoat and do your best to create a candid culture. This is a good idea. However, for those of you working in Asia, you may need to adjust what candour means for your audience. You may be able to be direct with an American colleague in a stronger way than with your Chinese boss. 


Convey: Managing Information 

I love the concept of portion control. What a great idea! Especially as I see this as a major problem inside businesses today.  Too much information being dumped on the audience without any clear point. It’s lazy presenting. Connie’s tips include reminding us that the eyes trump the ears; use visuals when they convey the message more directly than words. Talk in triplets is another reminder; the rule of three is a useful technique to use while presenting. Also the power of stories are lauded as a way to engage your audience more than a fact-attack.

Convince: Managing Action

This habit is all around how to influence people’s behaviours, decisions and actions. This is often the most challenging skill for people to master. Sounding decisive is a good start. Connie suggests that you contribute to meetings and voice your opinions with sincerity. As many managers realise this is often an area that is missing in many business meetings. Having the ability and confidence to speak up is a sure way to increase your visibility inside your organisation, and assuming you’ve got something useful to say – a good way to career progression. Another tip is to adjust your energy to help boost your likeability, an important ingredient to influence others. Adding warmth your voice and energy to your face can help. Seek role models in your company and also on TV to help you see how to increase your energy range.


One second survey: What format do you prefer to receive?

Do you prefer reading, listening or watching your information? Please help me adjust this newsletter into a format you like with this one-second, one-question survey. I’m considering offering this in audio and video versions and would love to hear your feedback. It will only take a second! Here’s a link to the survey. 


 Working with Warwick

I’ll be working around Asia this year and if you need to boost your leadership capacity in your China operations, then you can see an introduction to my service areas here. I especially work with technical executives and business development teams to help Chinese managers become more competent and confident in their leadership presence.

Influencing in China: Adapting to culture

I recently read an article on Harvard Business Review’s web site about giving effective feedback across cultures.

The three tips were:

  1. Learn the new cultural rules
  2. Find a cultural mentor
  3. Customise your behaviour


Learn the new cultural rules

I agree that it’s important to understand as much as you can about the culture you are operating. It’ll help you build rapport and not make too many gaffes if you can navigate the basic ground rules. There are some useful models you can use like Hofstede and the GLOBE research. However, one caveat you need to bear in mind is that all these studies are conducted at the macro level and make grand generalisations. The reality of being a manager and leader is that you are dealing with individuals not cultures.


I disagree that cultural rules will help you manage and lead effectively in a multinational in China today. The main reason is that “rules” are viewed very differently from one culture to another. Over many years working with leaders in China I’ve noticed that when people do not wish to change they will use a couple of common excuses like “My English is not good enough to understand my manager.” or “It’s a cultural difference. I can’t work with X because he/she is a foreigner.”


While I agree that culture influences the relationships, it also gives an easy way out if a person does not wish to adjust their behaviour. In the vast majority of cases I found that there was another issue or a deeper concern which was the real reason. If you are a leader or manager part of your role is to manage change through people. Better advice in the China context is Learn the human side of motivation.


Beyond monetary incentives are you aware of what makes your team tick? Are you able to align your feedback to their motivations? Build a good one-on-one relationship with your team. In a Confucian culture your interest and desire to help them develop their skills and career will be greatly appreciated. How you are able to implement this effectively will depend on how good your judgement is on what motivates your people.


Find a cultural mentor

I agree that a supportive mentor will be an asset when adapting to a new culture or overcoming problems that occur with culturally diverse teams. Some companies have mentor programs which offer some informal support.


Finding a good match for your mentor is essential. I’d suggest you have a range of mentors, rather than just one person. You might find it easier to communicate with someone from a similar background who has deep experience in your industry. But they might also have similar blind-spots. You could find someone from the home culture to offer insights and suggestions. It could also be a good idea to have a mentor from outside your organisation and who can give insights free from political considerations.


One downside of a mentor is it’s informal and relatively infrequent nature. Most mentor relationships do not have specific objectives. An alternative solution could be an experienced advisor or coach who has experience working with similar situations or industries. A coaching relationship has more accountability and can be used when situations arise unexpectedly and urgently.


Customise your behaviour

I agree with the article’s suggestion that you don’t need to go native to be successful. In the case where the German manager had a very direct style of feedback, some adjustment was needed to not alienate staff but also importantly the new style had to feel natural to the German manager.


Given the increasingly likelihood that you will need to work with a diverse range of cultures, it’s a good idea to build your own global style. I’ve lived abroad for 19 years and although I retain my British style I’m happy to be regarded as a global citizen who can relate and communicate with a broad ranges of cultures from Asia, Middle East to Europe and Americas. A couple of adjustments I needed to make included slowing down my vocal speed, reducing phrases and idioms that only work if you’re a native speaker. Learning to listen very carefully to the context as well as the words and gestures in a communication. Remembering to check my understanding before responding. Not assuming that my way is the only way. Nor assuming that everyone sees the world the way I do.


Becoming proficient as a leader or manager in a multi-cultural environment requires you to be yourself but to also become aware of how others like to communicate. It’s more about listening and observing than speaking.



Giving Feedback Across Cultures



Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness Research Project


7 mistakes made while selling professional services to clients

I’m lucky to work with a diverse range of industries, companies and people and sometimes I notice similarities that thread through these companies. One thread is when companies sell business-to-business professional services like engineering, audit and taxation, advertising creative, event management and consulting.

They often rely on a pitch from the business development team with a technical expert. These high stakes presentations have hundreds of thousands or millions of euros on the line. Here are some frequent highly correctable issues that companies face selling their professional services:

1. Business development and technical team mates don’t work together to “present an unified front ” to the client.This leads to the client seeing cracks on the surface of your pitch and leads them to wonder whether the actual service delivery will be equally disjointed.

2. They present with the assumption that clients understand and interpret data the same way as they do.This leads to information delivered but not digested. It means that you have not taken the client’s perspective enough to see the world from their point of view. It means that your message is not understood in the way you intended. Ultimately, you lose all rapport with the client.

3. They don’t predict and prepare for tough questions in key face to face meetings. This leads to moments in the meeting when there is uncomfortable silence, shifty gazes between team mates and shuffling of papers. This is usually accompanied by clearing of throats and a keen interest in looking down at the table. Clients don’t expect you to know everything but they do expect a robustly detailed preparation around their main issues. You can make or break your credibility on how you handle questions in a high stakes meeting.

4. They haven’t spent the time to create an umbrella message This leads to a download of data, PowerPoint slides, a lot of talking about your history, products, clients and services but without any clear idea bringing it all together under one umbrella. The umbrella message is a short concise one line message that sums up the pitch of your competitive advantage for this specific client. It’s not your company slogan but a tailored message for this client. All your presentation content can tie back to it and it leaves a clear idea in the client’s mind about why they should hire you.

5. Business development team mates don’t lead the meeting like a  “conductor leading an orchestra”. This leads to situations where the client talks directly to your technical expert and puts the expert on the spot. From the client’s perspective this is understandable. While the business development guy has the charm, the technical guy has the know how. From your perspective, you need to filter and protect your technical experts who may not be as fast on their feet as their business development colleagues. The BD needs to take the first bullet, interpret the question, set it up from his colleague and summarise afterwards so that the client gets their answer and the technical experts get their time to think.

6. Technical experts lack the presence to hold their own in meetings and conference calls. This leads to your credibility taking a pounding and hinders your overall pitch. It drags the overall positive impact you wish to make on your potential client. You need to know which one of your technical experts is competent in front of clients and who is not. Then you must make a decision whether to develop them up to an acceptable standard or have them focus on project delivery. It’s an important choice to make as clients always want to meet the people doing the work as early as possible in the relationship. The impressions your technical experts leave with the client will the impression they have of your services.

7. They miss opportunities to drive home their unique selling points that separate them from their competitors. This leads to an instantly forgettable pitch. While it’s important you know how you compete against your competitors, it’s equally important that the client has a view in their minds of why they should choose you. Why you are perfect for this project. Make sure your presentation has one umbrella message and two to three very strong and compelling selling points that position your offering favourably against your typical competitors.

These 7 mistakes give you a flavour of the typical mistakes made when pitching for professional services contracts. The good news is that they are fixable. We work around China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea to help companies polish their business development teams. To learn more please contact us for more information here. Or reply to this email. We wish you a prosperous 2013!

Stop wasting your time. Start rehearsing effectively

Rehearse Like an Actor: What Executive Presenters Can Learn from the world of theater

 Stages to move through to be well-prepared for every high stakes presentations.

 1. Script read through

2. Run – throughs

3. Tops and Tails

4. Cue-to-Cue

5. Dress rehearsal


One of the most common excuses that executives use before they deliver presentations is that they didn’t have enough time to prepare. Picture this scene. The board of directors are filling up the meeting room before the annual strategy review session. The financial director walks up to the front of the room, plays with some pieces of paper, coughs, looks down and then says he doesn’t think he is prepared for the presentation.

No doubt you have seen variations of this presentation opening. What impact does this have on his credibility? It immediately sows seeds of doubt in the minds of senior managers. Perhaps, after all, this director is not capable of higher positions.

Business presenters often spend hours preparing PowerPoint slides only to deliver a low-energy dull presentation in front of the people who will be deciding their promotion prospects later in the day. While you don’t have to become an actor to be a good presenter, you can certainly learn from the stages that each actor goes through to be totally ready.



Stage 1: Script read through

At the start of rehearsals, actors read through their scripts, first alone, and then with the other actors. Script mastery is just the first step in their performance preparation. Most business presenters struggle to complete even this stage, often unable to express coherently what their talk is all about. Every presentation must have a clear overall message with content clearly separated into distinctly different ideas. An opening that sets the context and engages the audiences by addressing their most pressing concerns. A body that divides the content into separate sections or to use a theater word “scenes”. A closing that brings all the content together into a clear outcome, reinforces the overall message and moves the audience into the next part of the meeting, often the question and answer session. An important tip to remember is that at this stage the outline does not need to be perfect. There is still opportunity to modify during the next steps. This stage is ideally done with pen and paper. It should take you no longer than 30 minutes to outline your talk.

Stage 2: Run – throughs

With an outline in hand it’s time to have a run through. This should be rehearsed until the content is memorized. Find blocks of rehearsal time. Instead of going to a restaurant at lunch, grab a sandwich and take a walk in the park. While walking around, talk through the presentation without looking at notes. Speak it out while driving into work, or book a meeting room to practice the delivery. The key here is that it should be spoken aloud as new ideas will arise while the delivery becomes smoother. Don’t use a computer or any slides at this point. The aim is to be 100% comfortable with the flow and content. Modify your outline as ideas come up. Add supporting points, rearrange sections. You should be able to stand up and deliver a speech without looking at any notes or without any supporting visuals. This stage might take a day for familiar material or up to a week for a high stakes meeting. This is the stage where you build up your confidence.

Stage 3: Tops and Tails

The two most important parts of a presentation are the opening and closing. Both parts attract the greatest audience attention and are the best opportunities to deliver a takeaway message. They are often delivered with a higher level of authority and punch. Take the opening two minutes and rehearse it as a stand-alone section. Record it and while listening to the recording, look for ways to make the delivery more impactful. Use crisper and sharper words. Make a closer connection to the audience with words they relate with. Likewise, repeat this approach with the closing. This is the final chance to convey the message and leave the audience with a positive impression. The opening and closing sections can be scripted word-for-word for very important talks, however, never read from notes. It lessens your impact. This stage should only take around 30 minutes because by this stage you are very familiar with your content and message.

Stage 4: Cue-to-Cue

The biggest stress is often caused by projectors so always plan a technology check for all your presentations. For smaller conference room presentations, go at least a couple of hours before to connect your computer to the projector, test the sound and video and ensure the mouse clicker works. For larger settings, arrive the day before and work with technicians in the venue. Spend time on the stage and walk around planning where to start, how to move on the stage and where to finish. Rehearse a couple of sections of the presentation with a microphone to hear what volume is needed to fill the room. Once you are set-up do your best not to move anything.

Stage 5: Dress rehearsal

This covers your on the day preparation. Regardless of what time the presentation is due to start, schedule a time for a dress rehearsal. Rehearse in the same room if possible using all the technology planned and microphones needed. You will speak the entire presenation aloud word-for word. This final run through boosts confidence for the live version. The second delivery of the day will be smoother and you will appear more natural.



90% of the executives I work with don’t know how to rehearse adequately. They waste time on inconsequential parts of the presentation while ignoring their personal impact. By going through these five stage of preparation you will feel more confident and be more relaxed to deliver a powerful presentation that influences your audience.


Do you or your team need help?  We work with executives on the “how tos” of more natural and influential business presenting. Feel free to contact us at any time to learn about the step-by-step approach we have taught thousands of executives around Asia. 

Wise Words to become a more influential presenter

I was recently delivering a workshop in Kuala Lumpur and over the course of the three day workshop, a few insights became clearer on how to be a clearer, more influential communicator:

1. How to learn soft skills. “Play it. Don’t tell it. Get inside the character or role. Act it out.”

When it comes to soft skills like communication, leadership and management, the best way to learn is to become an actor and step inside the role and try out the skills in real time. Most people tell you what they would do. They don’t learn the skill. They know the skill but they can’t use it. Take a situation and become the character and play with the scenario. I use improvisational activities to help manager develop these skills. It’s fun and effective.

2. Attitude to learning. “The way you do one-thing, is the way you do everything.”

People are quick with excuses. They justify their actions by saying that if the situation was different, or the audience more high profile or the presentation more important, they would do it differently. In reality, they will do it the say way. One of the challenges in a workshop is a closing presentation or role play. Even after a day or two of trying out skills and learning new tips the majority of people go back to their old habits. My role as a trainer is to intervene so that they shift from old skills to new skills. The people who perform the skills in a workshop are often the ones you will apply them in the workplace.

3. Learning by re-doing. “Step outside your comfort zone by making small adjustments.”

By definition, to learn something, you have to try out something new. This involves stepping outside your comfort zone and feeling uncertainty. This is a not a nice feeling and most people avoid it. The best learners realise that they only have to make small adjustments on a continual basis to really see a big improvement. Don’t look for massive changes. If you are looking for something mind-blowing and totally new, you will probably spent most of your time disappointed. Take action now with the things you do know. Chances are you not implementing all the good tips and techniques you know. Pick a focus area and target small – and ongoing – changes.

4. Expertise is not enough. “It’s not only what you say, it’s how you say it.”

I have talked before about the trap of technical experts. They know too much, so they say too much. Another trap with subject matter experts is that they believe the content is all they need to shine. Unfortunately, it’s not. You are not unique in the world. There are many other people doing exactly the same thing you are doing somewhere else in the world. And that’s fine. The world can accommodate this. So what this means is that you need to inject your own personality into your communicating and influencing. Be yourself, and always look for ways to better connect and relate to your audience.

5. Influence is precise. “Use precision tools, not blunt objects when communicating”

Being precise and specific while communicating and influencing is tremendously difficult for technical people. They are great when it comes to being precise about numbers, statistics, processes and standards. To achieve mastery in soft skills needs taking this precision and transferring it to the field of human behaviour. You need to be an excellent listener and observer to see what impact and change your presentation or speech is having on the audience. Learn how to test their level of engagements. Is that person bored because they are looking at their watch or do they just want to check the time?  Drill down. Being “confident” is a destination not a process. What does a confident person project? How is their posture, they voice and gestures. You can learn these micro-behaviours and add them to your arsenal to becoming a more proficient influencer.

Warwick John Fahy runs workshops around Asia which help managers and senior managers from technical backgrounds to become more influential in business situations.

Warwick is author of The One Minute Presenter: 8 steps to successful business presentations in a short attention span world. Read Warwick’s blog and download an e-version of The One Minute Presenter at http://www.oneminutepresenter.com/

Warwick is Asia’s leading business presentation coach working with business leaders who need to influence clients, investors, shareholders and team members. His results-driven approach and deep cross cultural understanding make him a sought after business presentation coach throughout Asia. Download a free report “10 Warning Signs Your Leaders Lack Executive Presence” at http://www.warwickjohnfahy.com/