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8 Ways to Stop Presenting and Start Connecting

8 Ways to Stop Presenting and Start Connecting

If you are a professional presenting in business today, it’s likely that you will focus on delivering facts, knowledge, insights, and information. That sounds perfectly reasonable, of course; after all, isn’t that the point of business and all we need to present to succeed?

Ordinarily that would be fine, but the world we live in today is extraordinary, so it’s not enough. We have all spent the last 20 years living in the information age where it’s never been easy to get the facts, knowledge, insights, and information for ourselves. As the relentless drive to share information continues, we are entering a whole new age.

I call it the connectivity age.

Every week, I speak with professionals who tell me that they are overwhelmed with information. That information is coming from endless meetings, presentations, and emails which absorb so much of their time that they can’t do what they are paid to do: work. As bad as that may sound, what is far worse is the fact that many end each day feeling numb. They used to feel stressed, frustrated, and tired, but now they leave worked just dazed.

When it comes to presenting and communicating with each other in meetings, professionals in businesses all over the world are crying out for a revolution.

Yes, they want the information.

Yes, they want the facts.

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Yes, they want knowledge.

Yes, they want insights.

That will never change, but the time has come when they want all of that wrapped up in something very few presenters are currently offering.

They want you to help them to feel something. They want to connect with you on a human, emotional, and personal level.

Dumping data on colleagues and clients has become the organisational plague of the 21st Century, and it has to stop now.

If you want to play your part in leading the revolution, then the process begins by focusing on connecting instead of presenting.

The journey begins here.

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1. Start with the end in mind

Whether you are presenting a quarterly update in your management meeting, giving a team briefing, or making a sales pitch, the very first question you need to ask and answer is, “What do I want my audience to feel?”

2. Lighten up

Being professional doesn’t mean you have to be deadly serious all the time. Lose the “corporate spokesperson” and lighten up a little. No one likes a “slick” presenter who is so polished they have memorized and acted out every word. Take your message seriously, but focus on relaxing too by using a little humor and crafting a conversation instead of a lecture.

3. Change the way you look at things

I once heard one of my favourite speakers, the late Dr. Wayne Dyer, say, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I believe that when many professionals are presenting, they often see:

  • Their audience as predators and themselves as prey
  • Fellow employees from the marketing, finance, IT department, etc.
  • The boss and senior management
  • Clients

The best way to connect with your audience is to see beyond their roles and positions and see them as:

  • Someone’s son or daughter
  • Someone’s brother or sister
  • A mother or father
  • Someone with hopes and dreams
  • Someone with fears and anxieties
  • Someone who wants you to help them
  • Someone you care about and want to help

4. Imagine this

Before you open your mouth to speak, take a deep breath, pause for a moment, and imagine every single person in the audience wearing a big bright neon badge.

The badge holds the letters PPPMMFS.

Those letters stand for: Please, Please, Please Make Me Feel Something.

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5. Put yourself in their shoes

Empathy is the key to connecting with your audience emotionally as well as intellectually. The route to making that connection is through stepping in their shoes for a while.

Spend some time thinking about:

  • What it could be like to be in their roles
  • The challenges, pressures, and difficulties they face
  • What they worry about the most
  • What working in an industry and business like theirs must feel like
  • What they are desperate for to make their lives easier or better
  • If they could ask you for one huge favour what would it be

6. Give them the gold

Instead of trying to show your audience how clever you are, how much you know, and how hard you’ve worked, just give them the gold.

In other words, don’t make them dig through the data and bullet points to find the little nuggets of gold that will make a real difference to them. Do the digging for them and just give them the valuable nuggets they came for.

7. Make it personal

There is nothing worse than a generic presentation which basically offers a plethora of information that could apply to anyone or any business. Make sure that everything you say and every slide you choose to show is personal, relevant, and of value to your audience. The sanity check is asking the question, “So what?”

Whatever you choose to share with your audience, keep in mind that if anyone stops you to ask “Thank you, but so what? Why should I care about that?” you have a good answer.

8. Lose the “head stuff”

When it’s not the content, the message, or the purpose of the presentation which numbs the audience, it’s the speaker’s very own “head stuff.”

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Here is what I mean by “head stuff”:

  • What if they don’t like me?
  • What if they ask me a question I can’t answer?
  • I’m so nervous and such a terrible speaker.
  • I feel like a fraud because I’m sure they know more than I do.
  • What if I freeze?
  • My entire reputation depends on this.

If all the while you are presenting to your audience with some of these thoughts running through your head, you are doing both yourself and your audience a huge disservice.

Do whatever it takes to stop the noise by using breathing techniques, meditating, visualizing, or challenging these thoughts.

The more you focus on yourself, the more you are telling your audience that your presentation is all about you rather than them.

Lose the “head stuff” and make it all about your audience.

The future of high-impact presenting

We’ve had “death by bullet point,” we’ve had the monotone voice and the “data dumps,” and some of the biggest and most successful brands in the world are still seeing them all every week.

The future of high-impact presenting entails making an emotional connection. Those who continue to simply present information without helping their audience to feel something will be left behind.

Following these 8 tips will go a long way to helping you to make your audience feel something.

Featured photo credit: Elen33 | Dreamstime.com via dreamstime.com

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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