Managing Your Career (Essential Managers)

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Most organizations will evolve at the speed of their industries and competition, with outside forces ultimately governing that speed. And in all of this excitement, turmoil, and advancement, managers will still be managing. Yet, those striving to remain relevant, particularly individuals at the front-end of their careers, must work deliberately at developing the skills that fit with the trends that will shape tomorrow.

There are at least four critical areas where managers must invest in growing and tuning their skills. Technical Agility. Even formerly creative domains such as marketing are increasingly dominated by quantitative-focused technologists.

There is no room for avoiding technology. Seek every opportunity in your work life to gain training on the latest programs and applications. Work in your personal life to understand and participate in the latest technological trends. Results Only. Quality of work is becoming increasingly important. Managers are going to have to focus on workplace environments that encourage employees to produce quality work. Every employee wants to do a good job. And when they do a good job, employees want recognition from their bosses. Unfortunately, few bosses do much in the way of recognizing and rewarding employees for a job well done.

The good news is that there are many things bosses can do to recognize employees that cost little or no money, are easy to implement, and that take only a few minutes to accomplish. No matter how difficult the problem, there is always a quick solution, and leaders are happiest when they are devising solutions to problems. The trouble is that, in our zeal to fix things quickly and move on to the next fire, we often overlook the lasting solution that may take longer to develop. Although it's more fun to be a firefighter, the next time you have a problem to solve in your organization, deal with the cause of the problem instead of simply treating the symptoms.

Without a doubt, running a company is serious business. Products and services must be sold and delivered, and money must be made. Find out who is talking before and after you, and what they are focusing on to avoid repeating their content. Make sure you have time to present your key points. If you feel the topic is too complex for the time frame, suggest an alternative. Others are much looser, with any panelist permitted to interject, or add remarks or questions at any time.

No matter how informal the structure, always take the time to develop your key messages in advance. Sometimes, the content you need to convey will fall more naturally into one type of structure rather than another. There may also be an element of personal preference—you may simply feel more comfortable with one type of structure than another.

But however you choose to organize, the end result must achieve your communication goal. In other words, content always dictates form, not vice versa. Setting out the basics All presentation structures share three high-level elements: the introduction or opening, the body or main content, and the conclusion or close. It should tell them what they are going to hear, and why it is important. This section needs to get their attention and give them a reason to keep listening. Sustain interest by keeping the opening promise in mind, and making sure every element advances that goal.

Remind the audience of your key points and clearly articulate where they lead, or conclusions that can be drawn. An effective close demonstrates your conviction about the action you are suggesting or the position you hold. While you should spend no more than 15 percent of your presentation time on the close, remember that it will probably be the section that your audience remembers most clearly.

Whatever you want them to remember, say it now. These observations suggest that the opening and closing parts of your presentation have particular importance. It pays to practice getting these moments right—making them clear, powerful, and engaging. Greet them warmly; ask them how they are enjoying the day. Opening powerfully The opening to your presentation serves many functions: it grabs the attention of your audience, establishes your credibility, and sets the stage for what is to come.

Your audience needs to buy into you in order to buy into your message. In order to keep your credibility throughout, you will need to show that you want to communicate, and are prepared to work to do so. Your preparation and readiness will speak volumes. Opening and closing 17 Capturing attention Elevating endings Be yourself at your most engaging.

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End with a summary of your key points, or deliver a call to action resting on those points, which will make sure they are remembered—in other words, make sure your ending addresses the objectives you had when starting out. However you choose to end your presentation, make it meaningful and memorable.

Keep these printed materials concise and relevant to the presentation—too wide a reach can be off-putting. Your success as a speaker depends on your delivery of the message, and this cannot be separated from your choice of words, forms of expression, and the mental images that you conjure up as you bring your words to life.

It will help you command attention, and provide better breath and voice control. Persuasive speech, or rhetoric, asks that an audience goes beyond passive listening. Aristotle, for example, relied most heavily on logic to support his arguments, but also recognized the importance of ethos and pathos. You may not understand the reasoning, but you trust the speaker. Often personalizes the argument. This would include evidence and reason. Creating moments Beyond the use of clear structure and good narratives, there are many verbal techniques to help your audience remember what you say.

Jobs often fuels his public appearances and speeches with some personal anecdotes that allow those who are outside his industry to understand and be inspired. They provide a showcase for the presenter to demonstrate real passion and grasp of the issues, particularly if the narrative resonates on a personal level.

Crucially, they—like no other device—will captivate the listener. Learn to use stories effectively, by reading and listening to accomplished storytellers. Draw on your own experiences and practice honing them into stories by telling them in informal situations. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. To increase the likelihood further that your audience will retain your message, distribute a printed handout to supplement your oral presentation.

It may be a simple reprise of your presentation; it may contain additional information, elaborating on points you have made; or it may be a list of additional reading. A handout is a useful tool essential in academic environments , as long as it is thoughtfully structured—it should not just be a place to dump your additional research. Always explain the purpose of your handout to your audience, and never assume that it will be read—it is no substitute for your oral presentation. TIP Preparing to impress Visuals are of little value unless they clarify and illustrate your message.

Consider what kind of visuals will help you communicate your information and where you can use them in your presentation to greatest effect. Will maps help your audience get a handle on locations? Props can also Business found retention rates of be passed around the audience to verbal-only presentations ran at engage their senses of smell, about 10 percent. Combining touch, and even taste. Use props verbal with visual messages sparingly, and integrate them well increased retention rates by nearly percent to 50 percent.

Introducing visual aids 23 Making images work The most common presentation tools today are the slide or digital projector, which can carry text and graphics, and the video player. Each needs to be used thoughtfully and sparingly; if you bombard your audience with slide after slide, chances are they will retain very little, and a long video presentation is the perfect time to grab a nap.

Remember that the audience needs to be inspired and gain your perspective on the subject. You can only provide these yourself. When using an image to make a point, cut down on narration and allow the audience to discover the message for themselves. Even a simple photograph of a building will generate more impact than a verbal description alone. Think very carefully before using video. Most people are used to high production values and as such anything less could work against you.

Anything over a couple of minutes of clips and it will appear that your speech is just a distraction for the main event— the video clip! But using these tools to communicate effectively is a bigger challenge. For example, slides are not the best way to present lots of data handouts are much better , but they are effective for showing the relationships between data sets. What your slides can do is reinforce your points, drawing attention to them as you present. Choosing the cues When you elect to use multimedia projection tools, use them for what they are good at—showing rather than telling information.

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This means that you should let images do their own talking, and keep text minimal. Streamlining your content Less is more. Use your slides to emphasize key points in your presentation rather than as a security blanket— they have far more impact when used sparingly. Some presenters tend to load their slides with bulleted lists, then deliver their presentation by expanding upon the points. This approach fails to engage the audience; rather than recapping bullet points, try replacing them with intriguing keywords that invite your explanation.

The key—as with text—is to keep things simple, and stick to one, consistent graphic language. Limit yourself to two fonts and two type sizes for the presentation, and use the same conventions throughout—for example, bold text to denote a heading, and italics for quotes. Resist the temptation to present every graphic you have access to: use no more than two images on one slide, and no more than three separate curves on one graph. Be imaginative with your images. Balance the illumination in the auditorium so that you can still see your audience, and vice-versa. A good guide is to add 2 in 5 cm of character height for every 20 ft 6 m of distance between your slide and the audience.

It will encourage you to make slides that are for you rather than your audience. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Beware of gimmicks, such as animated transitions between slides. Movement is very distracting when processing information, and such effects should be used sparingly. OW TO Show slides only when you are talking about them. Spend no more than two minutes addressing a slide. Direct your audience to a slide using a hand gesture. Walk your audience through each slide following natural reading patterns left to right, top to bottom in Western cultures.

When presenting a complex slide, allow the audience some time to absorb the information before you talk. Getting the best from virtual delivery methods involves combining conventional presenting skills with a new range of techniques.


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The presenter may talk over a telephone line, pointing out information being presented on screen, or audio may be incorporated into the software package. It saves time, travel, and expense, and it appeals increasingly to generations of business people for who the computer has always taken center stage. The meeting may be referred to as a webcast, where there is little or no audience participation, or a webinar, where participation is encouraged—via the web, phone, or email.

Podcasts can deliver messages that can be viewed on handheld devices or cell phones. All these technologies are increasingly being used to reach staff, investors, and the media, but should always be considered as additions to face-toface presentation, rather than a replacement. The biggest challenge is keeping your audience engaged when you are not physically present.

The stage needs to be set, the props and costume put in place, lines learned, and delivery rehearsed. Identify your strengths—storytelling or humor—and put them to good use in your presentation. Practice as much as possible; your audience deserves a presenter who can make the material fresh, understandable, and relevant. These apparently natural characteristics need practice, too. You need literally to deliver your presentation out loud and, if possible, to a test audience that can offer constructive feedback.

Autonomy, Trust, and Communication

Run through the presentation in the same or similar room or auditorium where you will deliver the real thing, rather than in the car or in your bedroom. It will give you a new perspective on how you look and sound to others. With experience, presenters naturally develop their own style of delivery. Some have a talent for keeping an audience engaged with questions or exercises; others excel at helping an audience understand issues through narrative.

No single structure serves all presenters in all circumstances, so it pays to try out many different approaches. Before your next presentation, There are many real-life situations select one area—narrative skills, where you can develop your skills. Ask their attention? Tell them in advance, for your attention and which do not? A presentation that starts and ends on time gives a strong impression of competence. Preparing notes A formal presentation or speech is the wrong place for an original thought.

Effective communicators plan, prepare, and practice their material. Most presenters use notes. Treat them as prompts rather than a script. Notes are most useful when they are accessible at any point during the presentation. Use numbered sheets or cards, ensuring that your numbers match up with handouts or slides.

Take a moment, review your material, and continue. Your audience will take the pause in their stride. Your audience will thank you. If you are running out of breath, slow down your delivery. Compensate by erring on the side of less material, rather than more. The presenter, not the technology, should set the pace. If you would, hold your questions and I will address them after this section. But building in opportunities to digress from the main path of your presentation allows you to shine in front of your audience, making you appear the master of your material, and so helping to retain attention.

Making room for digression r y. Move from behind the desk or lectern, and make eye contact with the audience as you speak.