3 Invaluable Soft Skills For The Workplace

Soft skills or people skills are the driving force behind any company. Gone are the days when a resume was the ‘end –all’ for the job and a person’s academic and professional qualifications were all that mattered. In today’s business world, where markets are more global and the world has become a smaller place due to media and technology, credentials and qualifications don’t cut it any more. Today a company needs ‘people skills’, ‘relationship skills’ or more popularly called, ‘soft skills’. Hence soft skills training is highly sought after by corporates.

In this blog we will look at the 3 fundamental types of soft skills necessary for the workplace:

Efficient Communication

This is probably the most valuable of the soft skill topics that companies are looking for. The ability to efficiently and effectively propagate ideas across the spectrum sets an employee apart. Good articulation in speech along with being an excellent listener goes a long ways. Appropriate use of body language also counts toward this.

Self-Confidence

While nobody likes an obnoxious know-it-all, a person who has a good degree of self-confidence and self-esteem is certainly seen as an asset. The ability to believe in oneself regardless of the situation or people around us is a strong trait that companies find particularly appealing. This will also determine the confidence with which one troubleshoots or resolves conflicts that may arise unexpectedly. Of course mere self-confidence devoid of any actual skills or knowledge is definitely counter productive.

Team Player

And that of course brings us to a very important soft skill – the ability to get along with others. Soft skills after all have to do with people and if one cannot get along with coworkers, the concept of people skills becomes a moot point. Not to mention, having the ability to work closely and efficiently with people develops a sense of camaraderie and unity that is healthy for any organization. This is often the crux of professional development training that companies invest in for their employees.

Soft Skills Training is an important aspect of corporate training which helps to develop invaluable skills sets within an employee such as those listed above that will help to enhance and improve their abilities and efficiency at work.

For further information on Soft Skills, please visit:

The Cost of Clarity in Communication

How Business Etiquette Really Matters

 

The Cost of Clarity in Communication

Communication is probably the most important of skill that humans are endowed with and need to improve upon in order to relate with his fellow beings. Communication can be of various forms – oral, written and non-verbal (physical), but all of which serve one purpose – the transmission of ideas and thoughts. Business communications also operate with the same fundamental principle except with the added facet of protocols and socially acceptable dynamics that need to be in place for a more professional form of communication.

Communication Skills Training  is a fundamental part of equipping employees to become great communicators and leaders within their respective organizations.

Within businesses even, communication spans over various forms – emails, faxes, memos, notes, meetings, presentations are all conducted and handed with the express purpose of communication. Whatever the medium may be, there are some key elements to communication that are fundamental to the proper transmission of ideas. In this article we will focus on just one of these aspects – Clarity. This is probably the most important aspect for effective communication in business. ‘8 Ways to Improve your Communication Right Now’  tells you how stepwise which  is easy to comprehend.

Whether one is writing an email or giving a presentation, the ultimate objective is to convey a message that is persuasive to the person on the receiving end of the message. This is the most effective of communication techniques. But this will not happen if the message is not clear in the first place. The onus is on the presenter or sender of the message to be clear in his or her transmission of the agenda. Ideas must be defined and extrapolated for clarity and presented in a simple and easy to understand manner. Vague or ambiguous words that may skew or distract from the core of the message must be avoided for the communication to be effective. When beginning an email or a lecture, begin with a clear and well-defined purpose. If you as the presenter do not know where you’re going with the correspondence, there is no way that the receiver is going to know where you’re going either. This is the key to improving communication.

Minimizing the body of the communication to its most core ideas or purpose keeps the correspondence lean and avoids any unnecessary language or ‘fluff’ that distracts from the main idea or objective of the message. This is the key to good communication skill.

For more information on Communication Skills Training, please refer to the following articles:

The Art of Tactful Business Communication 

Communication – A Leader’s Trump Card 

 10 Tips for Effective Workplace Communication

 

 

 

 

3 Tips To Preparing For A Good Presentation

There are numerous books and resources on ‘How to give a presentation’ and mastering effective presentation skills. While these are extremely good and useful, there are numerous things that a speaker can do ahead of his or her presentation that will help tremendously in setting them up for success in giving a good presentation. In this blog we will look at some vital preparatory work that needs to be done to pull off an effective presentation.

 Presentation Skills Training  is an important aspect of corporate function that deals with equipping their employees with the right skills sets to be good and engaging communicators. Below are some techniques used by organisations for effective presentations:

Holding Attention

It is important to remember that getting the audience’s attention right at the beginning of the presentation is a vital aspect to sustaining their attention. Most people within the first 30 seconds of a speech have already subconsciously decided whether they’re going to enjoy what the speaker has to say or not based on his or her opening statements, enthusiasm, conviction, voice modulation and body language. When preparing your notes, make sure to start with an engaging story, illustration or anecdote to grab their attention. Starting with a ‘bang’ is always the best way to start.

 Clarity

Most audiences want to know what they’re getting into or what to expect at the beginning of a speech or presentation. Indulge them accordingly. Prepare notes that clearly outline the objective, highlights, vision and summary of the presentation so the audience knows what to expect. Dragging on endlessly into a body of unending monotone lecture is a sure way to lose your audience. Keep it simple, clear and to the point. ‘Captivate Audiences with Powerful Presentations’  is an article which will help you have your audience enthralled.

 Visual Aids

People tend to think in pictures or images. It is an intuitive action that happens almost subconsciously within the mind of the listener. A good presenter must tap into that. Telling them that the annual revenues ‘far exceeded’ that of the competition is not as effective as showing them a strikingly visual and colorful graph or chart that depicts the scenario. Visual aids go a long ways in emphasizing or enhancing the poignancy of the message or fact that is being conveyed in the presentation.

For more information on Presentation Skills Training, please refer to the following link:

How Effective are your Presentation Skills? 

Presentation Training – A Key Component of Corporate Coaching

 

 

 

How Effective Are Your Presentation Skills?

Here is a story of how a young boy’s life was changed when he was given Presentation Skills Training by the TED team containing some simple techniques.

How Effective Are Your Presentation Skills?

Some time ago, Richard Turere, a 12 year old boy from Kenya got the attention of the TED team who were scouting for stories of interest near his village. Little Richard grew up on a farm that raised cattle and protecting them from lions was a task that consumed all the family’s time. He told the story of how lighting torches didn’t help in keeping the lions away but when he walked to the boundary of the field with a torch, they would stay away. TED found his story so fascinating that they flew him down to the TED conference. There was only one problem – Richard had almost no presentation skills or public speaking experience. But that didn’t deter the team. With a little help from the organizers at TED and a little practice, Richard took to the TED stage at Long Beach, California and gave his talk, despite his shy and introverted personality. When he finished, the crowd gave him a standing ovation!

What embodies good presentation skills? If a 12 year old boy from a Kenyan village could give a TED worthy lecture, is it possible that we might be able to pull of a good one ourselves? There is often the misunderstanding that presentations have to be charismatic, full of bravado and sophisticated in order to keep the listeners attentive. But this is far from the truth. Presentation skills are more than that; it is about speaking from the soul, being true to oneself, while at the same time straddling the line of data and narrative with finesse and poise. Obviously in order to give a presentation one must first have something to showcase. But we must be wise to remember that human beings love stories. And a major aspect of giving a captivating performance is to take the audience on a journey – a journey of story telling mixed with information and emotion mixed with intellect. A successful presentation can be gauged by how differently the audience sees the world when you are done. In short, a great presentation begins with the subject, shows why you as the speaker care about it so deeply and ends with making the case for why the audience must care about it just as much as the speaker does.

Presentation Skills Training is an important program of our soft skills training that companies invest in heavily to equip their employees with the right tools and resources to be able to communicate ideas and agendas confidently and efficiently. To see how companies do this, refer to this link: http://www.inc.com/articles/2000/05/18605.html

Read some of our recent blogs that gives you more information on Presentation Skills:

1. The Science of Non-Verbal Communication 

2. How Presentation Skills can be like a Movie Screenplay?

 

What Can Aladdin’s Genie Teach you on Communication Skills?

Even as the world mourns the death of Robin Williams, I couldn’t help but think of my most favorite rendition of his – playing the Genie in Disney’s ‘Aladdin’. Genie’s introduction and intro song is sheer animation brilliance wrapped in vintage Williams. The bravado performance begins with a flashy song full of fire-works, multiple manifestations of Genie himself and colorful dancers. But it is more than just visual stimulation – along the way, Genie tells Aladdin that he is the boss, everything that Genie can do for him and simply how life can just change for the better for Aladdin. Well all this is nice and cartoony! But what in the name of ‘flying carpets’ does this have to do with Business Communication?

What Can Aladdin’s Genie Teach you on Communication Skills?

Like every other form of communication, effective communication skills lies in not simply transmitting information but in doing so in a persuasive manner. While some people resort to the KISS formula (Keep It Simple, Stupid), it sometimes pays to pull out all the stops and just go over the top to make a good impression. At the heart of this communication technique lies the intuitive knowledge that humans are emotional creatures and we often associate the memory of a product or service, not with the details or specs but with the emotions that we felt about it at the time. So what does this look like?

First Impression – Just like the Genie, we want a mind-blowing opener as a communication strategy. Anything that will grab the listener’s attention by the eye-balls! Colorful themes, special seating and theme music can all make for a memorable walk-in experience. Audiences are feeling good and looking forward to it before the show has even begun!

Know your audience – Genie knew that he had to dazzle in order to get the attention of an ordinary street boy like Aladdin. Customize your communication according to the caliber of the audience. Putting up a presentation for the advertising team will look entirely different from putting one up for the CEO and board of directors.

The human element – Genie, although a spiritual entity, appealed to everything human in order to attract Aladdin. At the end of the day, it is you giving the presentation and not your slideshow. Look confident, speak up and smiling alone will give you an edge that will carry you part of the way through your presentation. Communicating your idea powerfully and with clarity is more than sufficient to close the deal. This is communication skills 101.

For information on Communication Skill Training for companies, please refer to the following article – Why Communication Skills are the Epitome of Human Progress

Why Communication Skills are the Epitome of Human Progress

Why Communication Skills are the Epitome of Human Progress

Good communication skill does not just mean the ability to be understood, it means more than that. Effective communication skills can help humans convey their emotions that may be hard to discuss.

Since the beginning of time, what has set humans apart from animals has been our cognitive faculties and the depth of our Communication Skill. Like animals we too have the basic senses but we have something extra – self-awareness. And not only do we have self-awareness but we have always been able to communicate that when needed. Modern commercials and advertisements pick up on this subconscious ability and play to its strengths. All one has to do is watch a commercial of Calvin Klein (CK) or Apple. In the CK commercial you will immediately notice that the product itself is almost never shown. Instead they sell you a ‘mood’, ‘attitude’ or a ‘personality’. CK understood intuitively that often what a product makes you feel or think is more powerful than the immediate image of the product itself. The subconscious feeling one gets when watching a CK commercial is not even centered around the product but instead about feeling, ‘adventurous’, ‘sexy’ or ‘dominant’. Similarly Apple commercials rarely drone the watcher with close-ups and technical specs of their products. Instead they show you a montage of clips of how diversely their products touch people’s lives. From a five year old in a classroom to a seventy year old at home, from the medical labs of Harvard to a cottage in rural China, Apple commercials show how their products bring joy to people all over the world. They’re not selling you a product, they’re selling you a ‘life-style’. This is how to communicate effectively!

Even in the corporate world, communication skills are the brain, heart and blood of a company all at the same time. From casting the vision, to formulating a game plan, to planning a methodology all the way to the execution and gauging of the process, it is communication that drives the entire corporate engine. The corporate world is now looking at helping its employees in the process of ‘how to develop communication skills.’ All types of communication skills intuitively take into account the following:

• Clarity of Objective – No one wants to hear a muddled message. Yet most communicators fall into the trap of getting lost in ‘their’ story. Good communicators usually ensure their presentations, conversations and e-mails have single themes. They keep their meetings to the point and ensure that their communication follows Stephen Coveys principle of ‘beginning with the end in mind’.

• Practical Impact – Often in an official presentation, it is assumed that merely presenting the data and numbers will tell the story for itself. But actually, showing how those numbers have real-time effects on the company and consequentially on an employee will have a more personal and powerful effect on the listener.

• Vivid Expression – With the advent of media and graphics in presentations, the effects of decisions made can be shown in a more graphically intuitive manner that gives the listener a sense of realness. For example, showing how the net profit can blow past the previous years’ profits by implementing the current plan of action using graphics and animation can be more effective than just showing the adjusted figures.

Communication Skills Training is an important facet of corporate operations and management.It is the only medium that serves as the nerve center for the healthy exchange of ideas and feedback between the management and employees and even amongst themselves. Even Fortune 500 companies constantly work on improving this facet: Read related article in Forbes.com

For more information on Communication Skills Training, refer to this article: Is Communication Skills A Part of Soft Skills Training

Handling Difficult Conversations – A Leadership Essential

Handling Difficult Conversations – A Leadership Essential“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Recently I conducted training on Performance Dialogues for the leadership team of a world-renowned pharmaceutical company. As good communication is a critical contributor to performance, one of key areas that we focus on in this leadership training for middle and senior managers is on the skills of Handling Difficult Conversations.

The theme for one of the role-plays was a manager giving feedback to a team member about his ‘not-upto-the-mark’ performance. The team member played the role of a defiant team member. Within minutes they forgot that it was role-play and played out a real life situation. The manager resorted to the style of coercion that he was used to and the team member displayed anger and frustration about not being heard. Resolution did not seem to be option. Hence the role-play was discontinued and feedback was given. Once the participants owned the feedback, they were given the skills that were needed to handle the situation better.

Below is the list of the skills that were focused on:

  • Inquire – ask open-ended questions and be curious to know more about the situation from the other person’s perspective
  • Summarize – listen intently and ensure that you summarize at frequent intervals which helps to clarify the message and allow the other person to know that you are listening
  • Advocate – when voicing your point of view ensure that you do not state it as a definite but rather as a suggestion for which you are getting the other person’s thoughts

The role-play was then rerun. The trainer was actively involved in the role-play to ensure that the three skills of Inquiry, Summarizing and Advocacy were being used effectively. The participants showed dramatic improvement.

Below are the highlights of the comments from the observers and the participants in the role-play:

  • “The manager was genuinely interested in knowing about the details of the from the employee’s perspective.”
  • “When suggestions are offered without the mandate that it has to be followed, it gives the listener the freedom of choosing to use it or discard it. This amplifies the buy-in.”
  • “Recapping the conversation helped to clarify misunderstanding at an early stage which enhanced the efficacy of the message.”
  • The team member, “I felt that my point of view and my well-being was important to my manager. This made me want to contribute more.”

“A beautiful thing happens when we start paying attention to each other. It is by participating more in your relationship that you breathe life into it.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

We, at MMM Training Solutions, conduct training on ‘Handling Difficult Conversations’ which is an integral part of any leadership development program. Please contact us if you would like more details on this program.

Softskills Training Modules for Aspiring Trainers

In today’s scenario the only solution to stay ahead of the competition for any organization is to develop the skills-sets of its employees on both domain knowledge and ‘Soft Skills’. One gets to acquire domain expertise through formal education or knowledge gained through experience.

But how does one acquire ‘Soft Skills’ and do ‘Soft Skills’ really matter?

On many occasions we have encountered situations where we have to call the customer service department of a telephone service provider to lodge a complaint.  The response given by the customer service representative leaves us with a delightful, satisfied or bad experience. If the customer service representative not only supports you in sorting the problem but takes a very professional approach in handling your call, they will leave a lasting impression in your mind. On the contrary, if the representative displays apathetic behavior towards your complaint, it leaves you with a bad experience.

Any organization that is into a client-servicing business has to ensure that all its employees are trained well in ‘Soft Skills’ to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction. Companies have started to train their employees of different levels starting from blue collar employees like office assistants, chauffeurs, and cleaners to white collar employees from different functions like administration, human resources, marketing, customer service, purchase management, finance etc.

Organizations seek the support of both internal and external trainers to train their employees on Soft Skills. The trainers buy the Soft Skills training materials developed by experts in the industry and customize the material according to their requirement.

These training materials are created based on extensive research and experience gained through the success of training programs delivered by the training experts. They bring together the content which has worked well across industries and achieved the desired learning objectives.

The training materials have both facilitator and participant guides to help the trainer to deliver the training seamlessly. Each slide of the PowerPoint (PPT) is explained with notes for the trainer, which can be used to explain the concept. These materials support the trainers immensely as it gives them a clear layout and the trainer needs to do very little to tweak the content as per their training needs.

MMM Training Solutions have developed training materials on various topics in the area of ‘soft skills’. The trainer can purchase these materials online, and the materials are sent via e-mail immediately on receipt of payment. The materials contain a PowerPoint presentation of the topic, facilitator guide, participant guide and handouts (if any). Apart from training modules the trainer can also purchase training objects like case studies, games, activities and role plays that can make their training experiential.

To know more about the training materials offered by MMM Training Solutions please visit: http://www.mmmts.com/training_materials.htm

Communication Starts With The Wonder Called Mother

As the world celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday of May every year, it is time we looked into what goes into the making of this symbol of pure love.

As a resort to understanding what makes mothers special, I realized that an important aspect of motherhood is communication.

Mothers teach children how to deal with everyday life. They teach children how to communicate. They are taught words and told when to listen. This amounts to verbal communication.

Mothers watch as their child draws the first doodle, and helps them to write while they are in school. They understand their child’s unspoken words and understand what it is going through. This amounts to non-verbal communication.

So in the end of it all, when you look at the whole concept of motherhood, you begin to realize that the epitome of effective communication essentially begins with the mother!

We wish all women a Happy Mother’s Day, and celebrate their ability to make a difference to tomorrow by being here today; for the countless opportunities and the infinite challenges that make them what they are!

“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
~ Tenneva Jordan

Avoiding Gaps In Communication – An Anecdote

Here is a humorous story that throws light on effective communication skills:

A man feared his wife could not hear as well as she used to and thought that she might need a hearing aid. Not quite sure how to approach her, he visited a doctor to discuss the problem. The doctor thought for a while and explained that he could perform a simple test to evaluate the extent of hearing loss.

That evening, the wife was in the kitchen cooking dinner when the husband came in. He thought to himself, “I’m about 40 feet away, let’s see
what happens.” Then in a normal tone he asked, ‘Honey, what’s for dinner?”

No response.

So the husband moved to closer to the kitchen, about 20 feet from his
wife and repeats, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

There was still no response.

He then walked up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away. “Honey, what’s
for dinner?”

Again there was no response.

As a last attempt, he walked right up behind her and asked, “Honey, what’s for dinner?”

To which the wife answered, “Sam, for the fourth time, we are having CHICKEN!”

The learning point in this anecdote is easy to see – always consider closing any communication gap that may arise before coming to conclusions.

Communication gaps arise due to many factors. They may be extrinsic – like noise or clutter; they may be intrinsic – lack of focus or preconceived ideas. Always keep an open mind during any form of conversation and aim at reducing the impact of uncontrollable factors. By consciously taking the effort to indulge in effective conversation, you can really go a long way in forming better relationships in the workplace and in your personal life.