Get an enforcer if you are serious about those resolutions

If you are a speaker or presenter, embrace silence. It helps your audience. And it helps you gather your thoughts without recourse to the ums and ers and other vocal tics we use to buy ourselves time for thought.

Leadership lessons from the ballroom

Good business really is like good dancing. Establishing the strategic direction is a good start – but is everyone absolutely clear? Is there potential for confusion? Few would confuse the raunchy mambo and the sophisticated foxtrot. But you can dance the sexy rhumba to the same music as the cheeky cha-cha. Are you sure your followers know your intention exactly?

Santa gets help from the White Ho-Ho-House

Are you a little apprehensive about raising a seasonal toast, or speaking at a Christmas party? Here are a few tips, courtesy of Santa – with some help from members of the White House Writers’ Group. Santa called the other day. “I need a speech and right away! It should sound new, but somehow old; …

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Time to upgrade those tired old introductions

by Halina St James In the last week I attended two business functions, each a small group of 10 to 20 people. The organizer inevitably called upon us to introduce ourselves and tell the group what we do. Elevator speech time. One by one everyone got up and dutifully followed a familiar formula: name, company …

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Do words really count for only 7% of your message? We review the ‘Mehrabian myth’

The more your body language and tone of voice are out of sync with your words, the less likely the audience will truly hear, understand and be persuaded to act on your message.

Humour is risky; dumb is deadly

Here we go again. Another confident and articulate speaker opens his mouth and jams both feet deep inside. This time it’s British writer and television celebrity Jeremy Clarkson. He has a huge fan following among motor sport enthusiasts, who appreciate his opinionated outbursts. But he’s in trouble today.  He was asked on a television talk …

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Cain’s blather: why his words fail to connect with audience

Another burst of blather from beleaguered US presidential hopeful Herman Cain. Cain is the Republican wannabe who has spent most of his campaign doing damage limitation after a series of allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour. Trouble is, his damage limitation causes more damage – because he’s seen as fudging his message. He has a reputation …

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Show a little respect when communicating bad news

Mark Timney, president of healthcare giant Merck, sat down recently to write to staff about some bad news: the company needed to get rid of 13,000 jobs. But Timney didn’t want the news to sound too gloomy. So he decided to avoid words like ‘layoffs’, or even ‘jobs’, in his 550 word memo. In fact …

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