Tag Archives: soft skills brussels

Effective Professional Writing: Clarity of Message


By David Rose – Director, LACS Training Brussels

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Unclear or straightforward text?

Question: What is the primary flaw with a significant quantity of professional texts, whether briefings, position papers, reports, emails or otherwise?

Answer: A lack of consistent clarity – the messages they outline don’t always come across to their target audience(s) in the way the writer actually intended

As I’m sure you already know, clear and audience-focused messages form the cornerstone of effective communication.

But what really happens if your key points are not consistently crystal clear for your intended audience?

Results of lack of consistent clarity

Perhaps at this stage you’re thinking “Yes, but I already know this…” – acknowledged. However, there is very often a significant gap between theoretical awareness and its consistent application in practice…

…which explains why two common problems with clarity keep regularly appearing in the government, institutional and corporate documents, I work with:

1) ‘Buried gold’

2) ‘Sentence breakdown’

So, let’s get straight down to business – by having a look both at concrete examples of these problems and the techniques you can employ to avoid them… Continue reading

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Voicing: 4 Tips for Better Public Speaking


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

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How your voice engages or loses your audienceConsistently effective public speakers have, together with a range of other skills, a voice that helps engage, inform and influence their audiences.

Question: Which three ‘voice ingredients’ do they all use?

Answer: Pausing, variation and projection

So, let’s have a look at the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of each of these in turn:

Speed and pausing in public speaking and presentations

 

 

Caution: Most speakers’ commonest mistake is not pausing regularly and systematically, especially in the crucial first minute when their adrenaline-fuelled nerves are at their highest.

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Effective Professional Writing: How to Be Concise (in 6 steps)


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

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Definition of Conciseness in writing

Is the quote above from the latest best-selling book on effective professional writing skills?

Perhaps surprisingly, no.

It’s actually from a memo a British Prime Minister sent his cabinet of ministers about 70 years ago.

This quote serves to clearly illustrate one crucial point: conciseness or economy of words is – and has for a long time been – a central feature of professionally effective written English.

A longer, more ‘wordy’ construction is not more formal or professional.

It is, unfortunately, simply clumsy and often unclear: counterproductive to clearly communicating your intended messages and with little or no impact.

“Ah” you might say, “I work in an international environment where most of my audience is made up of capable but non-native speakers of English. Isn’t that quote only relevant to exclusively English native-speaking audiences?”

In a nutshell, no.

Bearing in mind the majority of your audience might well have English as a second (or perhaps third?) language… it is even more important your text communicates your intended messages as clearly as possible, while of course still respecting the required level of formality and diplomacy.

You have to avoid unnecessarily overcomplicated or overloaded phrases that need to be re-read to be fully understood.

Equally – and self-evidently – if your text is representing your organisation to an external audience, it’s also essential it projects a suitably positive, professional image.

On its own, however, this ‘what and why of conciseness’ doesn’t actually help you in practical terms to be more concise in your writing, does it?

You also need the ‘how’.

Recognising English favours a more concise style, how can you achieve an improved level of conciseness in your writing?

Well, here are six practical principles you can apply to help you produce consistently more concise – and consequently clear and influential – text: Continue reading

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LACS Training Blog: So Far…


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

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…Summer’s here…

So why not take the opportunity to review the 18 articles on presentations and public speaking, professional writing, meeting skills and language support currently waiting for you on the LACS Training Blog?

I wish you all a good summer break and look forward to helping you and your organisation with your training needs in September 2012.

I’d also invite you to take a look at our 2012 training catalogues to see the full range of services we offer.

Presentations and Public Speaking Structuring your messages
Signposts and transitions
Pausing and emphasis
Body language
Effective PowerPoint design
Dealing with nerves
Good examples of public speakers 1
Good examples of public speakers 2
Professional Writing Core skills 1: audience, organisation and conciseness
Core skills 2: precision, tone and language
Linking words
Effective proofreading and editing
Meeting Facilitation Dealing with different personality types
Chairing meetings: 5 tips to do it better
Language Support Tense map
Prepositions map
Fixed verb patterns
Links to consolidate your skills

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How to Deal with Nerves in Presentations and Public Speaking


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

Link to LACS Training Services

 

Quote about nerves in presentations and public speaking

Presenting or speaking in public – as you will likely have experienced – makes people nervous… In fact, it’s one of the commonest social fears.

1. Why do we get nervous?

When we are faced with a dangerous or difficult situation our body’s automatic “fight or flight” response kicks in, pumping adrenaline into our bloodstream.

In its most extreme form, it produces a condition psychologists term ‘glossophobia’ – where the sufferer literally freezes and can’t speak.

For most of us, it’s thankfully not so severe. We just get any combination of the more typical, ‘milder’ symptoms:

2. How does it affect our performance?

Here, we need to consider three key questions:

A) When does your audience judge you – deciding you’re a ‘good’ presenter with an interesting message for them (so you’ve got their attention)… or vice-versa (so they switch off)?

Answer: in about the first ten to thirty seconds

B) When do nerves affect us the strongest?

Answer: in about the first thirty seconds

C) How often do speakers recover after a ‘nervy’ start and fully recapture the audience’s attention?

Answer: very rarely, if ever

So, we have a crucial coincidence of the peak of a speaker’s nerves and ‘instant’ audience judgment together with the fact that if you don’t start well, you’ve lost an ‘ideal’ level of audience interest and impact you will most likely never fully recover.

With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that after your presentation or speech you might feel like…

… you’ve underperformed…

…not kept the audience’s attention as you wanted…

…not had the impact you hoped for… Continue reading

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Presentations: Tips for Effective PowerPoint Design


Do your PowerPoint slides help engage your audience…or just switch them off?

By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

Link to LACS Training Services

 

I came across a really pertinent quote recently that summed up my experience of sitting through lots of presentations…

How does this connect with your experience? Have you ‘suffered’ PowerPoint presentations over the years where your attention simply started to fade after a few minutes?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence. But why does it happen?

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are a wide range of specific skills that contribute to consistently effective presentations.

I’ve previously published a series of articles on these key ingredients: structuring, transitions & signposts, emphasis & pausing and body language [have a look if you haven’t yet done so].

However, even with strong, conscious command of these four techniques, you’re still missing a crucial element to avoid your audiences getting that ‘long’, ‘boring’ and ‘deadening’ feeling…

appropriate and well-designed PowerPoint slides.

Question 1: Which role should PowerPoint slides take in your presentation?

Should slides be fully comprehensive ‘speaking notes’, short and simple bullet points or limited to one or two key messages only?

Worst case – they contain every word you are going to say, so you basically ‘read’ them to the audience, most likely with your back to them or standing side-on and therefore not making much eye contact… i.e. giving them every reason not to listen to you and either just read the slides themselves or switch off and read the (lengthy…) PowerPoint handout afterwards…

Best case – they summarise you main messages, with you ‘expanding’ on them orally while actively facing the audience and maintaining eye contact – so giving them a reason to listen, engaging them and keeping their attention.

Importance of Effective PowerPoint Design

Question 2: Which core guidelines should you follow in designing your slides?

There are six main steps to ensuring your PowerPoint slides provide the right platform for an effective presentation:

1) Making your main message clear through limiting content

2) Ensuring simplicity and consistency of layout

3) Choosing graphics carefully

4) Maximising graphs, charts and diagrams

5) Paying attention to colour, fonts and text size

6) Using animation selectively

So, let’s now take a look at each of them in turn:

Continue reading

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Chairing Meetings: 5 strategies to do it better than most


By David Rose

What is an effective chair? Arguably something that we don’t always see in meetings…

1. Why are meeting chairs often not effective?

Considering the central role meetings play in our day-to-day working life, why indeed?

Well, let’s consider a parallel.

I’m sure many of you give presentations in your work. None of you would dream of giving a presentation without planning it carefully. Additionally, if you give them at least reasonably regularly, you’ll probably be given or choose to follow some specific training or coaching, recognising presentations is a learnt, technique-driven skill.

Chairing meetings effectively also requires a specific skills set that equally needs to be learnt and developed over time.

Surprisingly, many organisations that provide presentations training for their people then expect them to chair meetings with little or no training support at all

So, I’d argue the inconsistencies we often see in the ‘quality’ of meeting chairs are due not to a lack of motivation or effort on their part, but simply a lack of technique.

2. What should an effective chair be?

Continue reading

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