Category Archives: Career

How to be an effective communicator

 

Communication is an important skill to learn, whether you’re in public relations or finance. It’s vital to know how to get your point across without upsetting or offending someone else in the process. Being an effective communicator will take you far in life. You’ll need it to ace that interview and land your dream job or influence your employees.

Here are key ways to improve your communication skills in the workplace.

Listening skills

Lisa Kirk, an American actress, was quoted as saying, “A gossip is one who talks to you about others, a bore is one who talks to you about himself, and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.” Listening is crucial to communication in the workplace. No one likes to speak to someone who dominates a conversation and thinks their opinions are the only ones that count. We’ve all had experiences with one-uppers, the people who always try to top your story. If your dog can do ten tricks, theirs can do 20. Listen to what others have to say and you’ll likely be able to see things from their perspective.The easiest way to be a great conversationalist is to enhance your listening skills and give your colleague your undivided attention.

Listening is a skill needed, whether you’re starting out as an intern or you’re the CEO of a major corporation.

Constructive criticism

Nobody likes to be criticised, but if it’s constructive it can help you. Criticism can go a long way into making you more productive, enhancing your skills and building your character. Be open to what others have to say and you’ll advance in the workplace. It’s important that when you make mistakes, you learn from them.

Presentation skills

At some point in time, we’ll all have to give a speech in public. It could be at a wedding or at work. And it’s a skill we should try to enhance. Some people are compelling speakers and others need tools to help them become better. Practice makes perfect. When you have to do a presentation at work, make sure you practice your speech in front of others at home first. If you fill your whole speech with um’s and ah’s and you fumble through your notes, it’ll come across as if you’re unprepared and lack confidence. And you may just find yourself wishing the ground would open up and swallow you because your presentation isn’t going as planned.

Respect

You may get into a disagreement with a colleague at some point but, even if you feel the other person is wrong, it’s important to remain respectful to create harmony in the workspace. For example, if you’re a leader and you’re rude and disrespectful to your employees, you’re not likely to influence or motivate them. Yelling and screaming at your employees will only humiliate them and make them less productive. Make sure that your tone is calm and you never raise your voice.

Remove distractions

When someone is talking to you, don’t fiddle with your phone or look around the room. The person you’re talking to could interpret your behaviour as rude. Your body language communicates a lot and may be sending a message you don’t want to convey. For example, if you talk with your head down or cross your arm or legs, you may be sending a message that you don’t want to be there.

Open mindedness

In order to be a great communicator, you have to be open to what others have to say. If you’re not open to listening to what the other person has to say, it defeats the point of the whole conversation.

Appreciation

As a leader of a group, you need to show gratitude to your employees. Showing your appreciation to your employees will motivate them to work harder and give you their absolute best.

Wording

When sending out an email at work, be careful of how you construct it. Use exclamation marks only when necessary and be careful with humour because it can easily get lost in translation. Always respond to emails in a timely manner.

Different styles

We are all unique and that’s why you should learn different styles of communication to cater for everyone’s needs, especially if you’re a leader. There are visual communicators, auditory communicators, kinesthetic communicators and auditory digital communicators. A good leader has to know how to communicate to each person in order to be an effective communicator.

Communication can be tricky because we all come from diverse backgrounds and there can easily be breakdowns in communication. It’s important to develop communication skills as they help build a successful company. Excellent communication skills will help you whether you studied a sales and marketing course or want to make a speech at your sister’s wedding.

 

Tips on public speaking

Some people would rather have the flu than speak in public. The thought of standing in front of a bunch of people is enough to give them endless sleepless nights and make their stomachs turn. If you fear public speaking, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

There’s a point in everyone’s life where they’ll find themselves in a position where they’ll have to give a speech. It could be giving a toast at a wedding or doing a presentation at work. Your knees may tremble and your palms may sweat and you could wonder how you’ll get through an entire 20 minutes of speaking. But with the right tools, you could give a speech that could get you a standing ovation.

Here are six ways to improve your communication skills.

Eye contact

They say you should imagine your audience is wearing nothing but underwear to ease your nerves and help you look in the eyes of everyone in the room. Whether you choose to use this trick or not, just remember looking people in the eye is a powerful tool you could use to engage with your audience. When your eyes wander around aimlessly or you constantly look at your notes, it shows you’re unconfident and uncomfortable. If you’re nervous about looking at people straight in the eye, focus on other parts of their face. You could look at their lips or their nose.

It’s not about you

Lisa Kirk was an American actress who was quoted as saying, “A bore is one who talks to you about himself and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.’ It’s not about you, it’s about your audience. Cater to your audience’s needs and that will create a desire for the product you’re trying to sell. Ask them questions throughout your presentation to keep them engaged.

Preparation

The term for the fear of public speaking is glossophobia. And the best way to overcome your fear is to prepare in advance. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.The more in control you feel, the more you’ll be able to give an outstanding speech. If you’re unprepared you’ll be all over the place and you may forget important points you wanted to make in your speech. Your speech should flow and if you’re not fully prepared, you might find yourself fumbling through notes and adding ums and ahs to fill in the gaps.

Interesting content

During your last presentation, your audience could have started yawning, scrolling through their phones or looked at you with blank stares. This could be because maybe they were tired or your presentation was too long and bland. People have a really low attention span, which is why you should make sure your content is interesting and straight to the point.

AIDA is a term used in marketing that stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. You could use AIDA to create a presentation that’ll draw the attention of your audience. Graphs, illustrations and captivating stories will create a desire and interest for the product you’re trying to sell. Short videos are also a powerful tool to send a message across to your audience and they make your presentation stand out. There‘s a reason why YouTube is a success, it’s because people love videos.

Toastmasters

Practice makes perfect. No one has mastered a skill overnight, it takes practice, dedication and perseverance to conquer anything you want in life. Toastmaster is an educational organisation which was established to help people improve their communication skills. It’s a perfect way to meet people and learn to be a strong communicator. And it’s also a safe zone because you’ll meet other people like you in the meeting. Toastmasters will help you to ease into public speaking through your own pace. On the first day, you may be so nervous that all you can utter is, “ Hi, my name is Sam.” But after much-needed guidance, tips and tools you’ll be a pro in no time.

The truth will set you free

Watching yourself on video could be painful. But recording yourself is a good way to analyse all your mistakes and to find ways to improve them. For example, you’ll be able to see if you look down a lot instead of engaging with your audience.

Some people have the gift of the gab and speaking in public comes naturally but for some, it’s a hurdle they struggle to overcome. Learning to speak in public should be a skill learned by all individuals because you never know when the opportunity will present itself. Whether you have studied marketing or an hr management course, you’ll probably need to speak in public at some point. Public speaking can be challenging for you but by following these simple steps you can be good at it and you may even grow to love it.

 

How to set up your team for success

Do you have a new team or are you starting a new project? Most teams rush straight into the work without having clear agreements in the beginning about where they are going or how they want to get there. The key ingredient for a successful project is clarity. If you want to set your team up for success, you should be clear about your project’s objectives and each team member’s role and responsibilities.

Don’t wait until you hit a bump in the road and then be forced to work out agreements in the midst of frustration and confusion. This is when conflict can arise in teams. Therefore, it’s important to clarify your expectations upfront to set up your team for success.

To lead a team effectively, you should try to establish rapport with each member. The most successful managers build their relationships on trust and loyalty, rather than fear or the power of their positions.

Here are a few ways to set your team up for success.

Start before your team does

The first thing you should do, before sitting down with your team, is to clarify your project’s objectives. This step, which is essential to successfully complete the project, is likely to be dictated by the client. Or if the project is an internal initiative, by your company’s management. It’s best to create a resource plan before starting the project. This plan should include details of the budget, hours needed for the project, the number of people included and the required skills necessary to tackle the work.

Many team members may work only part-time on the project, stealing time away from their regular responsibilities. If that’s the case, speak to their line-managers first before the project begins. That way you’ll have some understanding about what to expect from  each team member.

Clarify the roles and expectations

Try to reach out to each individual team member and nurture a relationship. Do this before the team’s first meeting. In doing so you’ll be aware of each member’s personality type and skill set. As a project manager, you should try to make the lives of your team members easier. While they are working on their individual tasks, you can clear obstacles from their path. Help them to meet deadlines, look for more resources or find more time to complete the project, if you must.

If your project involves both the business and technical side, make sure both share the same goals. Different agendas and opposite expectations often delay the progress of the project.

Set the right tone

You will play a big part in explaining the work tone of your team, especially at the beginning. You should talk to your team in a way that makes a positive impact. Remember that negativity can poison a team’s mood and effectiveness. Try to strive for an upbeat team spirit and an undivided team attitude. As the well known French author, Alexandre Dumas, said: “All for one and one for all.”

Having a sense of humour in a team is key. A fun environment can prevent a stressful situation. It’ll also help to get the most out of your team members. Instead of focusing on the problems why not turn your focus to the solutions? It can go a long way in maintaining a cheerful and positive atmosphere.

Foster the right behaviours

It’s important that you show your team how you expect them to work with your own good habits. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”. A lot of obstacles will arise and you should overcome them calmly and openly. That way your team will learn the right way to respond to difficulties. You should have a life outside work to maintain a sense of balance and calm. There will come times when you have to work overtime to support team members to meet stressful deadlines. You should do things the way you’d like your team to do it. Try to set an example.

Deal with individual team members

If problems arise, don’t deal with the team as a whole. Instead, talk to team members individually. Some people will need hand-holding while others hate it. Some team members respond to a strong push in the right direction and others go into a mild depression if you’re too hard on them. It’s important that you know how to deal with each team member individually. You can do a project management training course to learn how to deal with different types of personalities you can find when working in a team. This course will also teach you about team management.

Being a project manager is quite a big role and you should be ready for what’s coming. And it all starts with getting your team ready. Together with your team, you should set goals in order to reach your full potential and make a success of the project.

Why you need to improve your writing skills

You might think that you don’t need to be a writer. But the truth is, we’re all writers now. Every email, text message and social media caption shows your friends and colleagues what kind of writer you are. And there are two options. The kind of writer who makes an effort to create copy that’s error free and the kind who’s happy to send out content which is riddled with mistakes.

You might not think that writing is important. There are so many other things you need to think about every day. How can you possibly find the time to worry about whether your writing is up to scratch? The reality is that every piece of communication you send out says something about you. It tells the world how much effort and pride you put into your work. It speaks to your professionalism and how seriously you value your career. Every single email you unquestionably dash off or text message you bash out says something about you. So it’s important that you know what it is you want the subtext of your written communication to be.

Impact of bad writing on your career

Still aren’t convinced? There’s a study and statistics to back this up! Consider a Grammarly study of 100 LinkedIn profiles. Each of the employees looked at had worked at no more than three employers during the first decade of their careers. Of these, half were promoted to director level within this time. The other half were not. What were the differences between these profiles? Here’s what they found:

Those with few grammar errors in their profiles were promoted to higher positions. Those who didn’t progress to director level in this time had 2.5 times the number of grammar errors in their profiles when compared to their peers who had been promoted.

Fewer grammatical errors correlated to more promotions. Professionals with only one to four promotions in this time period had 45% more grammar errors than their colleagues who were promoted six to nine times.

Fewer grammar errors are associated with more frequent job changes. The reality is that if you’re changing jobs often and looking out for promotion opportunities, you’re going to be looking at your LinkedIn profile more often. This means these professionals were able to look out for errors and make changes more often. People who stayed in the same job for longer periods of time often overlooked their profiles and didn’t catch the errors.

According to Grammarly, writing skills are indicative of a person’s work performance in these ways:

  • People who care about their writing show that they have the skills of credibility, professionalism, and accuracy in their work.
  • Knowing how to structure a grammatically correct sentence is a signal that they can analyse and explain problems a complex nature.

Says Grammarly chief executive Brad Hoover: “People with better grammar may be more ambitious in their search for promising career opportunities.”

It’s clear then that bad writing can have a negative impact on your career and future job prospects.

Tips to improve your writing skills

Some people think they aren’t good at writing. They convince themselves that they aren’t a writer and so don’t need to improve their writing skills. They don’t make any attempt to become better. They’re fine with just being okay at best and shoddy at worst. But the reality is writing is a skill which can be improved over time. It takes practise and work, and it’s worth it. Writing is something which can be taught and learned. There are many courses available online, whether you’re interested in improving your report writing skills or merely your general communication skills, you’re sure to find one which can assist.

If you’re in need of a few quick tips, here they are:

Keep it simple. Never use five words when one will do.

Know what you want to say. And be clear about it.

Put the most important information at the top. Cut the rest.

Keep your sentences short. Alternate between long and short sentences to create rhythm.

Reread and rewrite. Never send anything out without checking it over first.

Writing is something which can be improved over time. And the most simple way to improve your writing is to read. By reading more often, you’ll be exposed to examples of both good and bad writing. It’s important you are able to take these in and tell the difference between the two.

Pros and cons of studying online

People come up with dozens of excuses as to why they can’t study further. They may have too many things going on and feel they don’t have the time. Or it could be they don’t have enough money. Well, studying online could be the perfect solution as it makes it easier for you to study while holding down a job.

Studying further can help you enhance your skills, better your chances of career growth and bring you closer to getting your dream job. In general, it will help you achieve your goals in less time. But it’s not easy, especially when you’re working to support yourself. Which is why you may be considering studying online.

The thing is, studying online has both its pros and cons and you should consider them carefully before you enrol.

Pros
Flexibility
Studying online provides many benefits and makes life easier for a working professional.You won’t have to deal with being late for classes because you’re stuck in traffic after work. Some lecturers at university penalise you for missing classes, resulting in you not being able to write your exam. If you study online you get to be flexible with your time. If you’re working part-time, it’ll make life more convenient for you because you won’t have to drive straight from work and rush off to class. You can do the work in your own time.  

Versatility
Working and studying simultaneously can be extremely taxing. Both require you to invest a lot of your time. If you’re working, you may not have the time to attend classes. Online studying provides the tools for you to continue working and still pass your modules. Your work doesn’t have to suffer because you can study how and when it suits you. Online studying caters for working professionals and allows you to set your own learning times and be versatile with your schedule.

Cheaper
Online studying is much cheaper than enrolling in a traditional university. As a working professional, you might have a lot of expenses already. You may have bills stacked up that have to be paid, such as rent, petrol and groceries. And online studying will benefit you greatly because you’ll have the opportunity to study but at a much more affordable rate.

Limitless
You’ll have the option of studying wherever you want because all you need is the internet and a computer. You can study in the library, on the train or – if you don’t feel like being indoors – you can just go outside with your laptop and work in the garden. You’ll have the freedom to study in the manner that suits you best.

Convenience
You can study online while still in your gown, with a bowl of cereal next to you. You aren’t restricted to a classroom.

Variety of courses
There are many online courses to choose from. You can study online sales and marketing courses, finance, project management, the list is endless.

Cons

Deadlines
If you are juggling a lot in your life at one time, then you might find it hard to meet deadlines. Studying online takes a lot of discipline and willpower. And if you mix that up with the demands of work, you might find yourself overwhelmed. It can be hard to juggle both working and studying. You need to plan everything you have to do and be organised at all times. A set schedule will help you become more organised and help you stay on top of things.

Less personal
In class there are usually discussions where everyone can participate and put up their hands to either ask questions or contribute. Talking about a topic in more detail usually helps you understand it better. With online studying, there is a lack of face-to-face interaction, which could be challenging.
When you’re studying in the traditional way, you get to interact with your peers and tutors on a daily basis. And the interaction can help you tremendously because you’ll have the opportunity to solve problems with your peers, swap past papers and get extra information from them..  

The goal might be to advance your career and take it to new dimensions.
Studying online has made life easier for many working professionals. You get the best of both worlds – the ability to make a living but still study at the same time. You get to study where it best suits you and when.

But studying and working aren’t for the fainthearted, you may have to say goodbye to your social life for a little while. And learn to be very disciplined. You could end up feeling overworked so you need to learn to balance everything you do and make sure that you are able to manage your time. But the sacrifices will be worth it in the end.