Category Archives: Communication
It’s true. My last CEO did a great job of making me sure I wanted to leave.
He officially joined the company in January of 2008, but I personally never saw him being active until the middle of February. In those first 6 weeks, he went around the rest of the world on a very expensive road-trip, visiting every branch of the company, talking with as many people as he could to find out who they were, what they wanted, how they operated and what was important to them.
When he finally arrived in Belgium, he did the same thing with most of our staff, including me. His approach, it seems, was always the same: He would ask a few questions, listen a lot and then say what he had to say. When he spoke, everything made sense. With me, it even made me decide to leave.
What he did was the finest form of active empathy and it allowed him to better understand his people and better communicate with them. When listening to me, he got an idea of who I was, what I was trying to achieve, my career aspirations, turn-ons and turn-offs. Listening attentively, he picked up on what really got me buzzing. And he quickly understood that what he wanted to achieve was not in-line with what I wanted to achieve. In no uncertain terms and in a way that made perfect sense to me, he outlined his strategy and what would be the place for my function. I understood I wouldn’t fit in and together we looked for ways to help me move on. Perfect!
Communicating in this way is an art and if it is done well, it is not a bad thing when other people who understand you decide to get off the train. It is a much better result that staying on the wrong train thanks to manipulative or bad communication.
If you want to align with other people, you need to do the same as my last CEO:
- Listen first. Ask lots of questions and drill down for more information.
- Try to get a sense of the situation, values and needs of the other person.
- Speak to people on their terms, using words they understand and align to their needs wherever possible.
- Don’t bullshit. Get to the point and speak clearly.
- Answer the only 3 questions that count.
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Several years ago, my wife’s company invited its employees and family to “Roi Baudouin Stadium” in Brussels to see Johnny Hallyday in concert. Now, I’m not going to mention his name again, or (dare I say it in Belgium) mention how terrible that entire experience was for me. But I would like to say something about his support act, Yannick Noah.
Noah was a tennis player first, but now makes music. Opening for Johnny, he was wild. Hs music was full of energy and so was he. And then it happened: With his cordless microphone in hand, he jumped off the stage and ran into the crowd of 60,000 people, running around singing IN the crowd. I’ve never seen anything like it. 60,000 people and he still jumped in. It was awesome!
Now, I don’t think this was a pre-thought strategic move from him. i think he did this out of pure excitement. It not as if he was greeting his fans – they were there for Johnny (or because they were Belgian, or out of some kind of “wifely work obligation”). But what he did was brilliant and a good lesson for any presenter: Get in there. Be with your audience. It breaks boundaries, creates dynamism and connects you to the people you are talking to.
Here are a few simple ideas to try out the next time you speak in public:
- Don’t stand in the same place all the time. If you read “What you can learn from Dora-the-Explorer about presenting” you already know that movement can reinforce presentation structure. But it can also improve audience relations. Movement will change the room dynamics, the connections you have with one or other audience member…
- If you are presenting to a large audience (a big room, say 200 people) use whatever you can from the room layout to add dynamic movement to your presentation. If you can walk up an aisle to get closer to someone who asked a question, do it.
- Don’t forget that movement goes up and down as well as left and right and back and forth. I like very much to squat down or perch on the edge of a table when listening to a long comment or group discussion during a presentation in a small room. I’m trying to send the message that its not about me anymore, so I get a bit more out of the way.
- Meet people at the door. I’m sure if Yannick Noah could have shaken hands with the 60,000, he would have. The last time I spoke at a conference as part of Epsilon2012, I shook hands with every one of the 200-odd people coming into the room, looked them in the eye and thanked them for coming. Get in contact with your audience!
Almost every presentation you never see is either exactly the same as the last one, or a minor upgrade in terms of performance. Try these tips to make a mark on your audience and really connect.
i’m currently researching for more content for my e-book “Build and Deliver Awesome Presentations”. What else should I include? Please leave me a comment with ideas…
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Follow me on Twitter
So, you’ve been on Twitter but you’re not sure of the best way to proceed. You thought about buying “The Twitter Book” but don’t have 20 euros to spend before Christmas/the end of the world/your next paycheque (choose appropriate). You can’t seem to find the free downloadable introduction to “Twitter Power” by Joel Comm.
Never mind.. just read on and follow these instructions for a great start to using Twitter. If you have questions, Tweet Me!
Choose a good Twitter handle
Take a little bit of time to choose your Twitter name (“handle”) well. Although you can change how your actual real name looks on your profile, you won’t be able to change your handle. Chances are your actual real name doesn’t exist anymore, so what can you do?
- Beware the addition of cheap numbers after your name. Who wants to be @johnSmith6875? If you can find a creative way to use numbers, go for it…
- If you are on Twitter to sell a product or service on Twitter, use your Twitter handle to reinforce your brand(name) – example @babybrussels
- If you are tweeting for or from your place of employment, be careful to not badly use their name in your Twitter handle
- Creative name creation is great. I use @BoyTurnsTurtle for non work-related tweeting and nobody said you actually have to use real words
- Be careful with other wierd characters – you may want to communicate your Twitter handle orally, so don’t use odd characters – I think my own handle @dan_steer is about as non-letter/number as you might want to go
- Make sure it is not too long. Twitter is limited to 140 characters and if you want people to “mention” you, you don’t want your long Twitter handle eating into their tweets – this will only annoy them
Take the time to make your profile good and complete
Along with your tweets, your bio is one of the first things people will see. Spend a moment on this…
- Write something about yourself in the bio and make sure to Be FAB to Be Heard
- Be consistent with other platforms – my original Twitter Bio is in line with my professional slogan: “I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating infinite learning opportunities”.
- Include a URL to your website, LinkedIn profile, book etc..
- If you are working on something specific or mid/long-term, you can consider having your bio as a kind-of static tweet. At the moment, mine is about the conference I will speak at in May 2013 – this will not change for a month or so
Background, colours etc..
- Again, updating the default settings is a minimum to show you are not a robot and actually care about your Twitter profile. Here is a simple background image that works quite well.
- You can get free and custom backgrounds for Twitter at http://www.twitrbackgrounds.com
- Consider creative uses of image, like here, to create brand consistency or a web-feel
- Check out this great free tutorial for Twitter background design
Use your Twitter photo
- Not having a photo/logo just looks sad – don’t be the guy with the wierd default Twitter egg. Fix it.
- If you use a personal photo, make sure we can actually see you. People like faces. But you can still do something a little different like I did.
- If you have a product or company logo that can look good as a Twitter logo, go for it
- Be consistent with other branding
Create 1 or 2 first tweets before you do any more
Its a chicken and egg thing: Should you start tweeting first or start following first? If you tweet first, no-one is following you, so its pointless. But the first reaction of many people you follow will be to look at your profile to see who you are and what you share. If there is nothing there they might not find you interesting and not follow. So, write 1 or 2 tweets before you follow people.
- Its OK to write something that announces your arrival on Twitter, but please don’t write the classic “So, this is Twitter. What is all the fuss about?” – its getting old…
- Include something useful in your first tweet that sets the scene – this could be a link to your own website or could already be a resource that is on-brand or related to your own area of expertise
…then start following people
Twitter offers you a bunch of ideas of who to follow. Personally, I think you should follow in the following order:
- Start with people who are on-brand with regard to your own interests (personal or professional) – in my case, this would be learning people
- Add only the famous people that won’t make you look stupid or bad. Sometimes your new visitors will look to see who you follow, in need of inspiration of a final push to follow you. Hopefully they won’t see porn-stars, random Justin Beibers or other odd people.
- By all means let Twitter use your contacts list to invite people to follow you, but think first if this is just going to be more spam in their inbox or if they are actually going to be interested in your tweets. Filter your list to include only the right people.
- Follow people who follow you?? There are lots of thought on this topic. Should you follow everyone or not? Personally, I have switched between “follow everyone who follows me” and “only follow people who tweet interesting things” without having ever decided. To meditate on…
What should I tweet?
The first answer to this question will always be “Whatever interests your (potential) followers” but to add a little weight to that I advise you to read points 5, 6 and 7 of my “9 must-remember guidelines to succeed with social media marketing”:
- Remember The Golden Triangle of Networking
- Stay on brand
- Blend your content
Personally, I try to offer as many relevant resources as possible via my Twitter account, mixing in my own ideas (like this blog) with those of others. I like to mention people and I try to make every tweet work as a stand-alone tweet when possible. Every now and again, I slip away from reference sharing to social or personal commentary, but this is quite rare.
Technically, HOW do I tweet?
If you like what you just read, the only thing now is to know how to ACTUALLY do it. Here’s a few simple ideas to get started with:
- If you see something interesting elsewhere on the internet, tweet it – example
- If you see something interesting on Twitter, retweet it – just click the button ..or “quote tweet” and use the letters RT if you want to add something to it yourself, like I did here
- Mention people with @ + their Twitter handle
- …you might “cc” them, just to say “hey, this is interesting” like here
- ..you could say “I got this (on Twitter) via @name” like here
- ..or if you included them in your own work, why not state it, like here
- ..or maybe ask someone a specific question, like here
- ..and thank people for retweeting/sharing your tweets/work, like here
- If replying to tweets, remember that your followers won’t see “the full picture” without extra effort – when I look at the Twitter streams of people who regularly have bits of conversation with people on Twitter, I get annoyed to not understand anything and my first impression is never “Here is someone who is useful for me to follow”.
- Favourite things you want to look at later, or to show you “like” the tweet
- Use a hashtag # to show that your tweet relates to a specific topic. As a general rule, place this at the end of your tweet, like here… unless you use the hashtagged word as part of your tweet sentence, like here.
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A short overview of the “community management” training programme I created for French speaking government organisation….
Objectif de la formation = « Savoir comment gérer efficacement une communauté afin de la faire vivre »
- Une prise de conscience de temps, ressources, enjeux et « best practices »
Une offre de formation créée sur mesure et focalisée sur vos besoins
Les participants ont besoin de conseils d’un expert et attendent une formation « classique ». Cette offre propose une expertise externe sur le sujet, tout en prenant conscience de vos besoins réels, ainsi que la situation de chaque participant. Pour cette raison, la formation est un mélange de théorie, discussions et exercices dans le cadre d’un « strategic training workshop ».
Avant la formation
- Les participants seront invités à compléter un questionnaire via www.surveymonkey.com . Cette démarche a pour but de connaître leurs propres perceptions sur la situation existante (ce qu’ils trouvent facile, difficile..), ainsi que de rassembler d’autres informations supplémentaires (quelle communauté, quels utilisateurs…)
- Chaque participant est invité à étudier à l’avance deux ou trois courtes références sur le sujet, afin de pouvoir profiter au maximum du temps « en classe »
- Le formateur se présente et explique en quelques mots le contenu et l’approche de formation via vidéo (YouTube)
- Les participants sont invités à compléter une étude évaluative du succès de différentes communautés et à partager les résultats avec DAN STEER
Pendant la formation
Approche = workshop « stratégique »
Après leur formation, les participants doivent bien agir pour bien gérer leurs propres communautés. Etant donné leurs différents objectifs ainsi que leurs situations existantes, il sera important d’adopter une approche stratégique. Pour cette raison, la formation même suivra l’ordre nécessaire pour créer de la stratégie, en 4 parties :
- Définition de l’objectif des participants / communautés
- Définition de la situation existante en comparaison avec l’objectif en prenant compte des différentes possibilités d’une communauté «online »
- Recherches des opportunités et actions prioritaires à mettre en place afin d’attendre l’objectif
- Création d’un plan d’action
Ceci n’est en aucun sens un coaching de groupe. Pendant chaque étape de la formation, le formateur offre son expertise, des conseils et les connaissances requises afin de savoir comment gérer efficacement une communauté pour la faire vivre. La discussion est néanmoins utilisée comme un outil pédagogique afin de partager les attitudes et stimuler de la motivation.
En suivant cet ordre, chaque participant partira avec un plan individuel à mettre en place.
Ce qui suit donne une idée à titre indicatif de différents sujets abordés lors de la formation. Les idées sont présentées dans l’ordre du workshop stratégique décrit ci-dessus.
Première partie = Définition de l’objectif
- Que veut dire « communauté ?
- Les objectifs « SMART »
- La marque d’une communauté (« community branding »)
- Le rôle du gestionnaire de la communauté
- Les clés générales du succès
A définir / discuter :
- Quel est le sens général de votre communauté ? Que voulez-vous pour les membres de votre communauté ?
- Quels sont vos objectifs?
Deuxième partie = Définition de la situation existante
- Quels sont les indicateurs d’une communauté « réussie » ? Quels sont les 3 points-clés à mesurer ?
- Exemples des communautés réussies (et non réussies)
- Le « chiffre de Dunbar » et ses utilisations
- La « pyramide d’engagement » et les différents rôles dans une communauté
- Votre audience, ses besoins, son comportement et ses habitudes
A définir / discuter :
- Les résultats actuels de votre communauté
- Votre situation actuelle en tant que gestionnaire de communauté : temps disponible, attitude…
Troisième partie = Recherches des opportunités et actions prioritaires
- Comment motiver de l’activité et le triangle d’or d’une communauté
- Création de trafic et « cross-pollination » sur différentes plateformes (on + offline)
- Techniques de modération
- Création et gestion de contenu on-line en fonction des besoins et des envies de différents profils/membres
- Création et gestion d’évènements (on + offline)
- Votre propre niveau d’activité
- Les différents défis et comment les surmonter
- Actions régulières à prendre
A définir / discuter :
- Choix d’options à implémenter
- Quelles fonctions utiliser dans votre propre outil
Dernière partie = Création d’un plan d’action
Pendant cette partie de la formation, chaque participant est invité à décider formellement ce qu’il va faire, comment et quand. Ces promesses pour « aujourd’hui », le court et long terme sont documentés afin de former la base d’une évaluation concrète de la réaction, de l’apprentissage, de l’activité et des résultats des participants.
Après la formation
L’apprentissage ne se termine pas à la fin de la formation.
Après la formation, un email est envoyé à chaque participant avec des références et ressources liées au contenu discuté.
Pendant les semaines qui suivent la formation, les participants sont invités à :
- Evaluer la formation en termes de leurs propres réactions et le contenu fourni – ceci est fait via www.surveymonkey.com.
- Partager :
- .. leurs propres réactions via un groupe fermé LinkedIn ou sur le site www.wallwisher.com *
- .. des exemples d’actions prises ainsi que leurs résultats.
* un exemple d’un « mur » de ce site peut être trouvé ici : http://wallwisher.com/wall/effectivepres
Sur base des réactions des participants, les actions prises et les résultats obtenus après la formation, DAN STEER reste ouvert à la possibilité de faciliter un coaching de groupe plus ou moins 3 à 6 mois plus tard.
If you are already managing a community, think about how you feel about all the above topics. Are you comfortable? What works? What doesn’t work? Where do you need help?