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Finland returns to work

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Autumn
Well, the summer break in Finland is pretty much over and autumn is just around the corner. The kids have gone back to school and everybody has had the chance to catch up with their emails. Now is the time to get your English language web pages and other assorted documentation checked for perfect spelling, grammar and style. It’s so important to look good out there in the international market.

We offer extremely cost-effective and professional copy-editing and proofreading services at a budget €30 per thousand words of original text. You know it makes sense.

Click HERE for more details.

Presentation Tips 6 – What is the benefit?

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"Right guys! I have this idea. We need to go to the moon." You can bet that this idea needed some selling. The benefit was getting there before the Russians and staying on top. So what was the problem?

“Right guys! I have this idea. We need to go to the moon.”
You can bet that this idea needed some selling. The benefit was getting there before the Russians and staying on top. So what was the problem?

This is the critically important point that needs to be emphasised as part of your introduction.
How does your product, idea or proposal benefit the listeners?

Everybody who stands up in front of an audience to speak is really selling something – be it a product, an idea, a process – even just information. When I give a presentation about, for example, using emails more effectively, to an auditorium full of busy business people, many of whom perhaps were invited to attend (rather than signing up by choice), I’d better not waste their time.

Right up front I need to clarify what the problem is and how this problem is making their lives more difficult. I need to get them to relate to the problem and to realise that they are, in fact, suffering because of it. I then need to swiftly point out that I have a solution, and this solution is going to improve their lives. This involves me actually believing in what I am saying. It involves me actually getting excited about what I am saying. It is going to involve using strong positive adjectives and superlatives. I have to grab my audience’s attention by telling them what a huge benefit my ideas will be to them. Otherwise, they have no good reason to listen, or care.

This is a short extract from my ebook “How to Create and Deliver a Great Presentation“.

A few corporate tips

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Happy staff are the lifeblood of a company

Happy staff are the lifeblood of a company

1. Mission and vision – social responsibility – environmental issues – team spirit – lead instead of manage. Every company website seems to sing the same song, but the shop-floor reality can often be very different. Corporate culture doesn’t start from the company website – the company website should reflect the company, not just provide inspiration.

2. This includes creating and maintaining a company-wide “Well done!” culture where employees are regularly praised for good work, and where inevitable mistakes are calmly accepted as part of the learning process. If everyone simply puts their heads down and looks busy when the boss comes in, there is something wrong. 

3. Everyone should know exactly what they are supposed to be doing, and how to evaluate for themselves how well they are doing it. Responsibility and empowerment lead to the feeling of satisfaction from a job well done. Rewards for hard work, such as bonuses, should be received in the next pay packet, not at Christmas.

4. If you want to improve processes, first ask the people on the shop floor for their ideas, they’ll probably have some pretty good ones. After all, they are the ones who are actually doing the work eight hours a day. They understand the challenges and, given the chance, will know how to fix them.

5. Treat your staff as you would like them to treat your customers.

 

Are your staff instructions setting the right tone?

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This is just a quick post to get you thinking. Messages from management and staff, be they notices or emails, are an important communication channel that can bring you closer to your staff and create a team spirit. However, if they are written badly, they can put distance between colleagues of different levels. The days of ‘top-down, us and them’ management are pretty much over, but do your messages reflect this?

You probably speak to those you supervise in a friendly, we’re-all-on-the-same-team kind of way, with a friendly hand on the shoulder and a personal, “Can you help me out and do this for me?” Notices and other messages should be the same, using the same, equal-level words. One particular message brought this whole subject to my mind the other day. It was to do with front-line, customer service dress codes and although it was trying to be friendly, the choice of words created distance.

The notice read: “Please make sure that shirts and trousers are cleaned and neatly pressed.” The writer has fallen into the trap of using the ‘official’ language of notices – he or she would not say this to a friend. This may seem like a small thing, but look at the message itself. Even the supervisors themselves do not have their clothes cleaned and pressed, they wash and iron them like the rest of us. Only the very top people get their laundry ‘done’. Are you one of these top people? Or are you actually a member of the team?

Presentation Tips 5 – Say it thrice

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This is a very important rule as regards giving presentations. By the way, ‘thrice’ means ‘three times’, as ‘twice’ means ‘two times’ – I hoped the word would catch your eye and your interest. However, it is rather an old word, not much used in modern English. Whoever you are giving your presentation to, you will need to repeat important points and, if possible, use different words each time, so any misunderstood word can be replaced by a more familiar one. This is what you must do also if you really need to use technical or other uncommon words. Again, it is back to remembering your audience. Anyway, the main message of your presentation, and any other important points too, need to be repeated.

The presentation itself should be in three parts: introduction, body and summary or conclusion. This ‘rule of three’ works on smaller levels too, so in your introduction the main message should be introduced, expanded on a little and then summarised. In this way, the audience will:

1. Be able to locate the main message.
2. Catch up, if they weren’t paying attention.
3. Remember the message.

All important points should be treated in the same way. A presentation is not like a book, where you can flick back a couple pages when you realise that your mind had wandered off into the forest for a bit. Don’t expect your audience to be totally focused on you all the time. I’ll bet that you have had the same problem when listening to someone else giving a presentation.

We have a lot on our minds these days, and it is rare that we are totally focussed on anything for long. The mind drifts off, you check your watch, then you think about the next appointment and what you should have prepared for it, then you remember the gas bill that needs paying … oh yes, and what did the speaker just say? It sounded important. Don’t have a ‘they should be listening’ attitude – have an ‘I’ll get them to understand if it kills me’ one.

As a presenter, you need to keep a close eye on your audience. Watch out for the glassy eyes of the chap who’s lost his concentration for a moment. Get his attention back and summarise for everyone what you just said. You are giving the presentation, and it is entirely up to you whether the audience gets the message!

Watch out for fidgeting, this person may have lost interest – try and get it back.

Watch out for yawns, they can simply indicate tiredness, but they also show when someone didn’t understand something a short while back. Part of the brain is still back there, analysing and trying to grasp the point, while the rest is trying to focus on the words currently being spoken. It can be as simple as an unfamiliar word – go back and say it in another way.

Watch out for the folded arms of someone who may not agree with your point. You could even politely single them out and ask their opinion. This provides you with another tool to use to repeat your message.

So, remember the rule of three and say it thrice.

This short extract has been taken from my eBookHow to Create and Deliver a Great Presentation“.

We are open for business the whole summer!

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proofreading

Do you need an English text or web-page checked in a hurry?

Do you want to make yourself and your company look good while the boss is on holiday?

We offer reliable and cost-effective proofreading services – and we are not on holiday.

Click HERE for more details.

Abbreviations – mike or mic?

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Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

This little puzzle came to my attention today and got me thinking – is mike or mic short for microphone. Well, in common usage, both are correct. Pubs advertise ‘open mike’ and ‘open mic’ – but publicans are not so often also grammarians, so lets have a look at this sticky problem.

If one is going to be pedantic, and I often am, ‘mike’ is the short form of microphone, and ‘mic’ is the abbreviation of it (used a lot in the audio world). ‘Mike’ is a word, ‘mic’ is not. Bicycle is shortened to ‘bike’, and definitely not ‘bic’ (the latter being a generic name for a ball-point pen).

Which is right and which is wrong? It depends on the world you are working in and writing about. Was that helpful? Probably not. Language is not a science …

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