Tuesday, April 23, 2013

IT Pros Who Speak Up Move Up

One of the best ways to stand out in an organization is to become proficient in the language of
public speaking. If you can communicate complex ideas in a series of concise examples, spoken in plain language and with a persuasive delivery, you will see your star start to rise within your team.

The goal is to persuade, not just inform
. There are things that IT professionals do that don’t always translate well to an audience. One characteristic of a technical, analytical mind is to start at the very beginning of a problem and test each step sequentially to the conclusion. That’s fine if you’re writing a set of instructions to carry out a computer program, but an audience is made up of people who may not understand or want all the details.

A CEO listening to your presentation will want to know
how much will it cost, how will it benefit the company and how long will it take to get it done. You need to understand how to take the very most technical aspects of your job and adapt them so that an audience filled with non-techies can be persuaded to go forward with your idea. How do you do that?

WIIFM: What’s in it for me? Using examples, illustrations and speaking in plain language, you will be able to quickly capture your audience’s attention and explain the benefits of the idea that they’re trying to communicate. In plain language:  How will it save money? Save time? Eliminate waste? Increase productivity?

(Plain language: Jargon-free free language absent of things like acronyms, software program names or equipment specifications.)

Know what it is that you want to say—and get to the point quickly.
Technical professionals often have a tendency to feel that content is more important than presentation, which is often not the case from the audience’s perspective. For the best chance of persuading your audience, present more examples of specific points, as opposed to more specific points with fewer examples. In other words, less is more. If you try to do a data dump by just heaving more and more information on top of your audience, you’re going to have less of an impact.

Now put it in context. Great public speakers like to tell stories or provide examples. It’s not enough to open with a great topic sentence. Follow it up with a “For example,” so that the audience understands the context of the main point.

Repeat yourself in a different way. At any given time people’s attention will be drawn away from the speaker by either internal distractions or external distractions. People often want you to repeat, just to make sure that they understand, but they don’t want you to repeat it the same way. There is an old saying that can serve as a template for driving home your point in three different ways:

“Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em.”

To summarize some thumb rules for public speaking:

  • Know your audience and speak in plain English
  • Speak to the needs of your audience (“What’s in it for them?”)
  • Persuade by explaining benefits
  • Know what you are going to say and get to the point quickly
  • Put the main points in context with examples
  • Repeat the main points in different ways at the conclusion of your presentation

Unfortunately, many good ideas and IT professionals get overlooked in the business world because of poor public speaking skills and lackluster verbal pitches. IT professionals who stand up and communicate their ideas to diverse audiences will advance in their careers. Everyone from the CEO and CFO to shareholders and advertisers are ready to listen. The question is, will you speak up?

Do you have a presentation coming up that you want to be interesting and professional? I can help!
For more information contact Don Gabor at            718-768-0824       or don@dongabor.com.  

Don Gabor Conversation Arts Media Dongabor.com Don@dongabor.com 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Networking at 30,000 Feet Can Pay Off Big Time

If you are like a lot of road warriors you spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes. But you can turn high-flying travel time into a goldmine for meeting new people and making valuable additions to your professional network. Here’s how:
When you first to board the plane take this opportunity to set a friendly tone with the passengers seated around you. Say hello to your neighbors as soon as they “move in.” This is an easy way to break the ice and establish how receptive they may be to conversation. If your seatmate cracks open a book or pulls out some work, be patient. Chances are, you’ll have an opportunity to chat later on in the flight.

If you get the green light to gab from the person, open the conversation with small talk. I often ask, “What takes you to …?” If I get a positive response I pursue it further.

For example, on a recent flight I said “Hello” to the passenger seated next to me and added, “I’m happy to be heading home! Which way are you going—home or away?” Her smile and friendly response, “I’m traveling for business,” was all I needed to continue the conversation. “What kind of business are you in?” I asked. She said, “Selling stuff but my real passion is mentoring girls and young women for scholarship pageants.” After I learned that the contestants have to make short speeches I said, “I’m a professional speaker. Maybe I can help your contestants.”

Through the course of our conversation, born from a simple “Hello,” we each made a business contact and expanded our professional network.

Here are some more tips for Networking at 30,000 feet:
  • Say “Hello” to your seatmates right away.
  • Show an interest in where they are going and who they are.
  • Keep your conversation light—don’t try to push a business-related conversation until you know that he or she shares your business interests.
  • Be patient and respectful if your seatmate appears busy or not interested in chatting.
  • If you do share a business interest, introduce yourself and offer to exchange business cards.
  • Keep your voices low. It never hurts to be even more courteous than usual—extra manners go a long way in tight spaces!
  • Follow-up within a week via email, telephone or social media.

You never know who you are seated next to on an airplane until you start a conversation. Of course, every situation is unique and judgment plays a large role when you network at 30,000 feet. Some passengers plan certain tasks to do while they are in the air, and it would be rude to disturb them. But if you’re looking to network with other professionals there are few other places with a more diverse collection of business people than on an airplane...all waiting for you to say “Hello”!

Do you have a “networking at 30,000 feet” success story you’d like to share? If so, please use the comment box. If it’s good I might use it in my next book (and give you the credit!)
For more information about how Don Gabor can speak at your upcoming meeting please contact him at 718-768-0824 or don@dongabor.com.  

Don Gabor Conversation Arts Media Dongabor.com