This article is based on the webinar delivered by David Smith, a global director at Virtual Learning Solutions and Virtual Gurus. It can be viewed here.
Author Archives: Wendy McAuliffe
This article is based on the webinar delivered by bestselling author Carmine Gallo, which can be viewed here.
Apple co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, was an extraordinary presenter. He brought theatre and storytelling to the dry world of computing, and transformed presentations into an art form, complete with narratives, props and visuals. Years before TED Talks made their foray online, Jobs had already risen the bar for what audiences could expect from a presentation.
“For example, in 1984 when he launched the Macintosh for the first time (some time before PowerPoint and Keynote), it was like a Broadway production,” says communications advisor, Carmine Gallo. “The ability to communicate your ideas persuasively is the single greatest skill that will set you apart in the world of global competition.”
Gregory Berns, professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University, writes that “a person can have the greatest idea in the world, but if that person cannot convince enough other people, it doesn’t matter”. According to Gallo, Jobs made use of three key techniques to persuade and convince his audiences, which helped his ideas to stand out and be memorable…
He used emotion to help his presentations come alive
Steve Jobs wore passion on his sleeve. This passion didn’t necessarily stem from the computers and devices that he developed, but rather the ways in which they could be used to unleash creativity. Within his presentations he would use the word “passion” quite frequently. “It’s okay to share your enthusiasm, and tell the audience what you’re excited about,” says Gallo.“Passion is contagious.”
Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy, writes within her book called ‘Presence’: “we tend to put our faith in people who project passion, confidence and enthusiasm; these traits can’t easily be faked.”
A study by the University of Minnesota found that when an individual meets or hears people who are genuinely passionate and excited about a particular topic, it rubs off on them and changes the way they feel about a particular topic. Presenters, therefore, need to be clear on what they are passionate about, and transfer that passion to their audience. According to Gallo, the best tool we have to achieve this is the art of storytelling.
Storytelling is in our DNA, he says. It began around a campfire 400,000 years ago, and neuroscience has taught us a lot about storytelling over the past few years. Princeton University has been studying the subject, and has found that when two people are engaged in storytelling, a psychological process called neural coupling takes place, when the stories synchronise the listener’s brain with the teller’s brain. Furthermore, when captivated by an emotionally engaging story, chemicals are released in the brain: cortisol which makes you pay attention, dopamine which makes you feel good about the speaker, and oxytocin which is the “love molecule” or empathy drug. So when two people are engaged in storytelling, they have empathy, which is important as it makes the listener more likely to back an idea or a cause.
Bryan Stevenson, a US civil rights attorney, generated the longest standing ovation of any TED Talk in its 30 year history for his talk entitled “We need to talk about an injustice”. It’s received more than 3m views, and according to Gallo, 65% of the content falls under what Aristotle would call “pathos”; i.e. storytelling and emotion. Within it, Stevenson told three short personal stories which related to his theme of injustice; anecdotes of things that had happened to him. These are often called ‘signature stories’, which refer to the one story you can tell about a brand or about yourself, which is repeatable, and which is core to who you are which advances your organisation’s mission, values and strategy.
According to two Berkeley professors, Jennifer Aaker and David Aaker, signature stories are “almost always far more effective and impactful than communicating facts”. So according to Gallo, when you’re giving your next ‘presentation’, think about the signature stories or personal anecdotes you can refer to which will help build some emotion and authenticity into what you are saying.
A notable example of a signature story relates to a Mr Fred Schultz, who in 1961 got injured on the job. He had no health insurance and his family found it difficult to make ends meet. His son, Howard, was only 12 years old at the time. That’s why, several years later, Howard Schultz was one of the first CEOs at Starbucks to offer full time health benefits to part time workers. Howard Schultz has never got tired of telling this story, and writes “the more uninspiring your origins, the more likely you are to use your imagination and invent worlds where everything seems possible.”
“A signature story tells you so much more about the values of a company than 50 PowerPoint slides could,” argues Gallo. “When people know the story behind a product or a brand, there’s a meaningful connection established, making them more likely to buy into it.”
In 2005, Steve Jobs famously delivered his Stanford University commencement speech. He opened with the following introduction: “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal.” The three stories focused on critical moments within his life, such as when he received his first cancer diagnosis, and shared the impact that these moments had on him. The speech is well worth listening to as a lesson in how Jobs built emotion into his public speaking.
He created a sense of novelty
“All great stories need to have a twist. In neuroscience, we call it ‘violating expectations’,” says Gallo.
Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, employed this technique within a TED Talk in 2009, where he unleashed a swarm of mosquitoes into the audience, to explain how malaria is spread. The video went viral. “If you do something that people don’t expect, they’ll remember it,” Gallo argues.
“Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out, something that looks delicious,” says Dr A K Pradeep, author of The Buying Brain.
Gallo suggests the idea of using a prop, for example, which will help to create multisensory experiences. When Jobs launched the iPad for the first time, on stage he had the replica of a living room complete with a leather sofa. Central to his presentation was the message that the iPad was more powerful than a smartphone, but more intimate than a laptop. To bring this to life he wanted his audience to be able to visualise the intimate setting where they would be using the product themselves in the future, and he created this through theatre.
Elon Musk, co-founder of Telsa, last year gave a presentation on a new battery he was creating that could store sunlight and convert it to energy. At the end of the presentation, just before leaving the stage, he revealed that all of the lights and electricity in the room were powered by this battery, which took his audience by surprise. A quote by a blogger at The Verge, T.C Sottek, following the event, said “dude’s selling a battery and he still managed to be inspiring”.
Gallo says to ask yourself what novel moments can you create within your presentations. This will undoubtedly require some thought and creativity, but Steve Jobs relied on this surprise element time and time again.
He made it memorable
Gallo explains that the human brain craves meaning before detail, and processes information quickly by looking at the bigger picture.
Richard Branson once said: “if your idea can’t be explained on the back of an envelope, it is rubbish”. Gallo suggests thinking about your big idea as a tweet, and considering how you could convey it to an audience in no more than 140 characters.“A great leader is able to strip things down to their essence,” says Michael Moritz, investor at Sequoia Capital.
When Steve Jobs launched the MacBook Air in 2008 for example, he did so via a single slide with the headline: ‘The world’s thinnest notebook’.
When the Apple Watch was launched, the media coverage that followed repeatedly referred to it as “the most personal device we’ve ever created”. This happened because it was the way in which Tim Cook consistently spoke about it, in every presentation and interview.
Gallo asks, what is the one thing your audience wants to know? He advises to always begin a presentation with this one thing, but beyond this, give the detail that people crave. Stick to the rule of three he says, that being that with short term memory the human brain can only remember three pieces of information at any one time.
Another memory trick, he says, is to make your data meaningful and put it in a context people will remember. Steve Jobs was already doing this back in 2001. When he launched the iPod in 2001, it came with 5Gb of storage, which at the time meant very little to the average consumer. So Jobs put this data point into a context that people would understand and want, saying “5GB = 1,000 songs in your pocket”. Apple continues to do this today. How thin is the new iPad? “As thin as a pencil”. How heavy is it? “It’s as light as pad of paper”. Take a data point, and use one more sentence to make it relevant. It’s a technique that good journalists use all of the time.
Gallo advises to also make sure that there is a visual component to your narrative. “If information is delivered verbally, people remember about 10%. But if a visual reminder is created, retention of that information will soar to 65%. So you can either create this through an image, or create a visual in the mind’s eye,” he explains.
For example, the Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, Canada, consumed more than 877,000 acres of land. When the story hit the news, few would have appreciated the scale of it, so one news outlet put it in context saying the size of the fire was 4.5 times bigger than New York City, which of course made sense to listeners.
Gallo also shares that K-Cups in the US came under widespread consumer pressure to make its coffee pods recyclable, after one reporter claimed that if the nine billion K-Cups sold every year were placed end to end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times. The analogy was picked up and referred to in hundreds of following articles. It made the data point tangible to the general public, and the story went viral, leaving K-Cups with no choice but to make its product recyclable.
There is much that we can take away from the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs. He was way ahead of his time, using master storytelling and theatre to capture the attention and imagination of his audiences, and ultimately persuade them to buy into his products or write about them favourably. See him in action here, in one of his most memorable presentations, utilising minimal slides, and listen to the audience reaction he receives…
It was back in 2013 that Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, published her seminal text Lean In – Women, Work, and the Will to Lead which encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their career goals. It examined the barriers holding women back from taking on leadership positions, such as discrimination, sexism, and sexual harassment; and crucially, demonstrated how men could be supporting women more, both in the workplace and at home. “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes,” she argued.
As someone who’s worked virtually (and independently) for many years, one of the biggest benefits that comes with this way of working is the autonomy that I have in how I structure my working day. Providing I am consistent in meeting my client obligations and deadlines, it’s entirely up to me how and when I work. I have no corporate expectations such as fixed office hours or daily team meetings, which means that providing I am organised and self-motivated, I can be far more productive within my virtual environment.
Mindfulness…everyone seems to be talking about it, and it’s a word that can create mixed feelings. While some see it as a New Age, trendy but useless concept, others believe firmly in its ability to create happier and more productive employees and leaders.
Over the past few years, Google, Intel, Adobe, Apple, LinkedIn, Goldman Sachs, the NHS have brought mindfulness and meditation to the workplace. In our fast-paced, high-tech world, it seems companies are increasingly turning to mindfulness to help employees cope with the growing stresses and pressures surrounding them.
I don’t know about you, but now’s the time that I begin to research my summer reading list. It’s an annual task that I really look forward to doing, and throughout the year I’m forever adding books to my ‘want to read’ list on Goodreads. Primarily I listen to the recommendations of like-minded friends and peers within the industry, but I also like to keep track of literary awards and take note of books that have been well reviewed. Bill Gates’ reading list, for example, is a continual source of reading inspiration, and particularly when I’m looking for non-fiction or business suggestions.
In his 2008 book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness,” for a person to become very good at something. Quick calculations of my own reveal it would be highly possible for an individual to attend 10,000 meetings throughout the course of their career (based on starting work at 18 and retiring at 65), averaging at slightly less than one meeting a day. So in theory, by the age of 65, we could have become world-class meeting experts!
Goldman Sachs made headlines recently for a two-day technology conference in London it was organising where 76 people were scheduled to speak, but just five of them were women. Of the five women speaking, only three of them were Goldman Sachs employees, one of which was drafted in at short notice to replace a male speaker. The gender disparity was quite shocking, particularly within a business that runs a 10,000 Women program, which invests in and trains female entrepreneurs.
While ultimately it is the responsibility of a company and employees to welcome onboard a new member of staff, there are also some important steps an individual can take within the first 30 days of a new job, to ensure it’s a smooth and positive process. Of course it’s common to feel nerves and excitement in equal measures, combined with the renewed enthusiasm and aspiration that come with a fresh career start. It’s great to convey the fact that you’re raring to go, but it’s important to temper this with the acknowledgement that you’re a new entrant and have a lot to learn about the organisation and culture, regardless of your level of seniority. This will help to earn the respect of your colleagues over a period of time, and ensure that you find your natural fit within the business.
The dream of a four-day, 30-hour working week is something that many of us aspire to achieving one day. But the reality is that few companies offer such flexibility, despite rising preference among employees for a better work-life balance. Furthermore, in many places there remains a stigma attached to those opting to work reduced or part-time hours, which could have repercussions for those wanting to continue their climb up the career ladder.
Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, has risen in prominence over the past couple of years owing to the growing social conscience of today’s consumers. Nowadays, the rising generation of buyers would prefer to spend their money on a brand, service or product that displays strong ethics, is tied to worthwhile charitable causes, and takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. Similarly, up and coming businesses and entrepreneurs are showing preference for investing in tools and services provided by socially conscious businesses which share similar values to their own, over and above a big corporate name.
Those who are entrepreneurial-minded are never short of business ideas. Often it can be a case of having too many, and not knowing which idea to pursue first! But getting a new business idea off the ground can be extremely tough and rife with challenges, and if this is your first business, knowing where to start is often the most difficult bit.
Establishing a healthy work-life balance is something that I continually struggle with. I work from my home office which can be very difficult (impossible) to get away from; but also, since I am self employed, I rarely stick to a rigid 9-5 routine. Of course this isn’t a problem unique to home-workers. Having worked for large companies too I remember how unusual it was for myself and my colleagues to leave the office on time. If we managed on the odd occasion to get all of our work done within our contracted hours, it was a rare and wonderful thing.
LinkedIn has recently undergone a big refresh, bringing its newsfeed far more in line with Facebook and other social networks, showing trending stories that are curated by human editors and algorithms. Users can un-follow and hide posts easily (just like Facebook), but interestingly, Pulse, its daily news and publishing platform, is now more tucked away than ever it seems, although also available as a standalone mobile app. This makes it even more important to seek out the influencers worth following, so that you will never miss a post by them.
This article is based on the webinar delivered by online expert, author and futurologist, Gihan Perera, which can be viewed here.
In 2016, the workplace underwent a dramatic change as 3.6m Baby Boomers retired, one-fourth of millennial workers rose up to take on management roles and Generation Z had just begun to enter the workforce. The demand for a more flexible work environment continued, along with the desire for greater autonomy and a healthier work-life balance.
There’s some irony in the fact that taking the decision to delegate decision making can sometimes be a tough one, and particularly within a small company where autonomy has generally rested with you. It can be a time-consuming process and often requires a mindset change on your part, along with a willingness to let go of a certain amount of control. It can sometimes be tricky to find the right balance but when managed successfully, the delegation of some decisions brings with it great benefits and can be highly worth the investment of time.
This article is based on the webinar delivered by speaker and president of Webinar Success, Ken Molay, which can be viewed here.
Do you ever feel like you’re spinning plates, rapidly switching between one unfinished task to another, putting in a burst of effort to keep one task ‘spinning’, hoping that none of the other plates crash to the floor in the meantime? It’s an exhausting, stressful and ineffective way to work. Only when we’re able to prioritise and give our single, undivided attention to the task in hand can we keep focused and productive, and have the freedom to think creatively.
Our brains are designed to handle just one cognitive task at a time, but today’s hyper-connected culture combined with our assortment of tech devices creates the growing temptation to try and do several things at once. We might be working on an important presentation, but at the same time we will check our emails, hop onto Instagram, reply to a text message and also have our favourite Netflix series playing in the background. It’s this constant task-switching that neurologists say is having a detrimental effect on our productivity, as well as our wellbeing.
This article is based on the webinar delivered by organisational development expert, leadership coach and author, Lynne Copp, which can be viewed here.
In Japan, where there’s no legal limit on working hours, there’s an accepted phenomenon called ‘karoshi’, which translates to ‘death by overwork’. The Japanese government compensates families who have lost loved ones due to employment-related exhaustion or suicide. According to Labour Ministry data, claims for compensation for karoshi rose to a record high of 1,456 in the year ending March 2015, however it’s believed the true figures could be 10 times higher than official records.
The number of individuals taking on part-time freelance work, on top of their full-time job, is sharply on the rise. According to a recent study by LinkedIn, “side-gigging” (as it tends to be called in the US) is growing more than three times faster than full-time freelancing. Furthermore, the share of users within top professional fields who are undertaking top-up freelance work has more than doubled in the past five years.
January is one of the best times of year to begin a job search. After the Christmas shutdown, key decision makers have finished their vacations and are around for hiring, new yearly budgets are available and fresh projects and clients are beginning. For these reasons and more, now’s the time to be getting your CV out there if you’re looking for a change of role or career in 2017.
If you’re fortunate enough to be interviewed by Richard Branson one day (hopefully on Necker Island!), don’t expect to hear questions about your career history, strengths or weaknesses. He’s not a fan of the traditional job interview, and in his book “The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership,” the Virgin Group founder explains the importance of hiring individuals who are a good ‘personality fit’. Focusing conversation on academic and professional achievements, and talking through a CV, would in many ways be a waste of time, he argues.
This article is based on the webinar delivered by business consultant, author, futurist and speaker, Gihan Perera, which can be viewed here.
This article is based on the webinar delivered by psychologist, author and CEO of Equilibria Leadership Consulting, Dr. Nicole Lipkin, which can be viewed here.
This article is based on the webinar delivered by David Smith, a global director at Virtual Learning Solutions and Virtual Gurus. It can be viewed here.