The Mindful Powers of Hiking

The Mindful Powers of Hiking

It is clear that hiking is now an extremely favoured fitness trend; even expected to surpass the popularity of yoga in 2019. With health, fitness, mindfulness and general wellbeing firmly taking centre stage in all aspects of our life, we want to understand why and how this activity can have a positive impact on us both physically and psychologically.

What do you do to relax? What activity makes you happy? How do you practice mindfulness?

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Consumer & Design Trends can help fix the High Street

Consumer & Design Trends can help fix the High Street

Community.

What does that mean to you?

Our lives are influenced by many aspects of modern life. Over the past 2, maybe 3 years our desire to be a part of a community has been growing and deepening. It might be an online community, a local one, an interest group, a cause; the one constant is the deeply rooted desire to be a part of something that connects a group of people together. And perhaps unexpectedly, young people seek this sense of sharing in a community more than most.

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How to increase Sales, Profits & Shareholder Value

How to increase Sales, Profits & Shareholder Value

Mention Trend Forecasting to most people and the majority are unsure what it’s about; and those that have heard of it, well they mostly associate it with color forecasting.

In reality, there are very few business tools/support services available that, if used well, will improve your company’s results quite so much and in a sustainable way. The more broadly that Trend Intelligence is integrated into a company’s business strategy, the greater the improvements will be. Uplift can be achieved in production efficiency, sales revenues & profits increase, creativity, PR success, product ranges can be smaller, the number of ‘slow-moving lines’ reduces and overall relative costs go down. All this because insights & Intelligence about future consumer and design trends for the interiors sector can ensure your product & service developments match the wants, needs & desires of your customers. Ultimately leading to better profits and more shareholder value.

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How to Make a Good Presentation

It’s as if seminars, speeches and conferences are the ‘in way’ to attract new business today and that must be inducing a lot of stress in a lot of people.

Or has the celebrity culture made the proliferation of such opportunity a ready-made platform for fame?

Are there a mass of us in the wings, just waiting to be given the chance to stand at the podium, on the stage, or just ‘at the front’ with a ready-made, captive audience at whom we can now speak about ‘something’?

Some years ago, as I was just starting my time with the Mars group, it terrified me to learn that each month I’d be expected to make a presentation to the area management team about my own team’s results and forecast.

There were only 10/13 people in the room, I knew all of them really well, they had to do it too, they felt nervous as well. The only one of us that didn’t, was the ‘smug one’ who for that month was top of the sales league. It wasn’t that he/she had acquired excellent public speaking & presentation skills along with the sales result – just that they could at this time get away with murder, wearing their protective coat of ‘achievement’!

In the years that have followed I’ve been given lots of advice about ‘How to Present/Speak Publicly’, attended perhaps 15 courses on the subject (each one run by a world expert of course), and see the same advice/training all over the web even now.

What surprises me then, is the general standard of presentations and public speakers that I now go to see and listen to. Who am I to talk you ask? Well, I am not putting myself forward as the world’s best in this area, but I can still read, and do, all of the advice, notes, training books, and web content at my disposal. It’s easy to then evaluate the offerings against all of this.

Have you experienced any of these presentation/public speaking gaffes:

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The presenter stands in front of the screen on which is displayed information I should see

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  • The text on the slides is so detailed I can’t read it.
  • The colours used make it tough to read, they clash, are weak, don’t match the context.
  • I don’t believe it – he/she is reading the slide to me!
  • “Well, 10 minutes in and I haven’t a clue what it’s about.”
  • Should I take notes or will there be hand outs?
  • When should I ask my question?
  • Crikey, 30 mins gone, how long is it going on for? I wish he/she’d said, I’ve got to go.
  • This presenter didn’t have a clear idea of what they wanted me to take away from this.
  • Please. Please don’t hop around like that, stay still…just for a bit.

Too many people it seems to me, are placing themselves in front of audiences as the expert in their field without having given much thought to what expertise they have in the actual subject of making a presentation. It might just be me but I then can’t help but focus on what is not good about the presentation itself rather than focusing on learning something of value from a person who most likely really knows their stuff.

What a waste for us both!

Now, before you switch off thinking that I will now preach the ‘Dreamweaver’s Guide to the Perfect Presentation’, don’t, because I’m not. There are some really good tips and training documents on the subject available for free via Google. And as usual, there are already lots of people out there who can’t actually do it, but will sell you some training for you to be good at it.

What I will move onto is to express some more ‘views of an audience member’ as I have masses of experience as one. But before I do, let me say that if you want any tips on how to prepare, deliver, and then improve your skills in this area, for goodness sake send Victoria or Shelley an email requesting as such (victoria@scarletopus.com / shelley@scarletopus.com). They have delivered dozens of seminars around the world (literally), never have a spare seat in the house, and always get excellent feedback. Of course, they did have the opportunity to learn from an excellent trainer!

Now, consider this when you are in the position of delivering a presentation or speech next time…firstly, all the points I mentioned above, they are very annoying habits and will detract from your event. Now from the stalls I say this:

“Are we in the right room?  I haven’t heard a single word about how to effectively sell to women … have you?”

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  • Did you need to wear that? It’s all I can concentrate on.
  • If all you have to say is word for word what’s on the slide, please be quiet, I’m reading!
  • Is this presentation delivering what it promised, or am I in the wrong room?
  • Why is the presenter looking at the screen instead of us, doesn’t he/she know what’s coming up either!?
  • That must be industry jargon, I’ve no idea what it meant; am I the only one?
  • LOL I bet they wish they’d checked all the equipment before now!

Public speaking can be such a powerful way in which to engage with prospective clients, or entertain existing clients; they are a great way in which to establish credentials as an industry expert – the ‘go to’ industry expert; they can significantly increase your profile, confidence, and popularity.

Public speaking can also make you the last person that people go to listen to in less time than your speech takes to make.

If you go to the trouble of seeing & hearing your presentation / speech as your audience will, then you stand a great chance of it, and you, being a success.

…and, if you have any time & coffee left, here is a double ‘Dreamweaver Bonus’ for you. A brilliant video of how to make a great presentation, and excellent advice on how to be creative; starring John Cleese.

This brilliant example was brought to my attention by my US buddy ‘Whittemore’! Also a tower of knowledge for anyone. Follow her on Twitter @CBWhittemore & check out her website www.simplemarketingnow.com

How to be a Good Communicator

The title of this posting has, I now realise, put me under pressure to get my opinion across in a coherent way; how stupid was that!

How we communicate with each other has been at the front of my mind over the past few months.  For example, do you ever think about, or get surprised at, networking events, by how few people seem to have taken the time to think about why they are there, what they are going to say and how to say it?  And even fewer people keep quiet as a result of their lack of preparation but rather, spend the event practising and honing their ‘elevator pitch’.  Might just be me, but isn’t their timing a little out!

Have you recently noticed our written communication?  Dickens would despair and ask what have we done with our language skills?  Modernisation and evolvement are good and new words should be adopted; but some of the emails and letters (do you still receive this ancient method of keeping in touch?!) coming across our desks leave a lot to be desired.

Text language seems to have permeated all written forms of communication and in itself is not the problem; our main concern should be that it appears to have not only made the hand lazy, but the mind as well.

When I began my working life fortune gave me a mentor (from about age 18) called Graham Petty – a communication genius.  In those days (the 20th century!) text and email were but a candle flicker in the mind of their inventor.  Letters were the leading method of communication in business, followed closely by the telephone.  (As an aside, an article in a business journal I read regularly online, referred to a survey claiming that 55% of communication made with a mobile/smart phone is text, 35% is email … and 10% is speech.)  These then (letters and phone remember) were the tools that one had to learn how to use well.  To actually practise using a phone and constructing letters was a part of everyone’s early work life.  Graham taught me that to write a good letter, you must write from the reader‘s viewpoint all of the time.  In this way you will keep the reader interested, pleased that you have thought so much of him/her; and because you do this you are much more likely to get what you are seeking.

To demonstrate his teaching Graham drew this for me:

This pearl of wisdom ensures that whatever you are writing about is made interesting to the reader by virtue of the fact that it is written with the reader at the forefront of everything.  Forcing you to consider, what about your subject is of value to the reader?  There seems to me to be no reason why emails could not be written using the same great lesson and good manners.

One of the biggest saboteurs of good communication is that foe of the ages – ‘in-house’, ‘professional’, ‘industry’ jargon.  If we don’t take the trouble to use the same language as the person(s) we are communicating with, then why would they leave with a complete understanding (or at least the same understanding) of what has been said and what is expected next?

3 Examples

1. You visit a carpet shop and you are not a carpet expert.  The salesperson (unfortunately mostly men – sorry guys its true) tells you about the weight (in something referred to as ounces) of the carpet, the pile height, the tufting, the brand name, and that it costs a unit of your local currency per square yard/metre.  You wanted to know how does it feel under bare feet, does the colour go with your scheme, is the quality good enough for use in the room being re-carpeted, and how much will it cost to have the chosen carpet in the room you want it in. Although one is speaking ‘jargon’, and the other the more common local language, the answers fit the questions … But who would know?!

2. I (excuse me!) used to sell canopies to filling station owners, both independent and Oil companies.  The canopies stood on stanchions, had overhangs and underlining.  I knew all that there was to know about the product I was trained well to sell.  When speaking to an architect or oil company engineer we had no problems with the above.  However, when speaking to the filling station owner with 30 years’ experience retailing, and zip in steelwork construction, care had to be taken to talk about: the roof that would go over his forecourt to keep the rain off his customers and give them light in darkness whilst putting fuel in their cars; that the legs would go between his petrol pumps; the roof would extend far out from the pumps; and the underside of the roof would be white to reflect the light down!

3. And finally for fun: A friend of mine told me how she had recently fallen foul of the use of  jargon and acronyms.  To her severe embarrassment she had shocked a doctor on a train when asked what work she did.  Karen (real name Ellie!) said, “I do PR”.  In medicine PR stands for ‘per rectum’ – a very personal examination!

So take care to remember the language you ‘pick-up’ at work is not impressive language to anyone who has no clue what you mean.

 

I could carry on for pages about this subject as it holds a high degree of interest for me, and what it is supposed to do is?  That’s right!  Hold a high degree of interest for YOU!  So, the following few points that have been good to me will, I hope, be of interest to you.

To help you be a better communicator:

  • Always think about what you are going to say.
  • Write, read, review, re-write, and re-read before hitting ‘send’ or letting go at the post box!
  • Write using everyday language, avoid the pitfall of writing as policemen speak.
  • Use language common to you and the reader/listener.
  • In conversation, constantly check that what you have said is understood as you meant it; this can be done by asking, “so what I mean is…”, or, “what do you think of that…?”
  • Always listen more than you speak and know when it is time to listen and when to talk.
  • Do your best to keep emails and letters to no more than one side of A4 paper in length.
  • Remember life’s common courtesies.  It’s always nicer to communicate with a person who is polite and courteous.
  • Observe the communication style of others and adapt your’s to connect with them.
  • Be honest, open, and transparent.
  • Know that the phone is an interruption to the receiver, so ask if it is a convenient time (as you would do knocking on someone’s office door).  Time on the phone is exaggerated if you pause as your facial expressions are not visible, smile, it shows in your voice.  Prepare a phone call thoroughly.

I’d love to hear your views and learnings on improving communication so please leave a comment or send them to me at phil@scarletopus.com