Add to Technorati Favorites

Building Business Value | Corporate Management Strategies

Does Your Audience Trust You? Effective Communication is Key!

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Dec 01, 2015 @ 14:12 PM

According to Nick Morgan, one of America's top communications theorists and author of "Trust Me, Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma", every communication is really two conversations.  There are the words we use, and the body language. When those two conversations are aligned, we can be effective communicators.

And when they're not aligned?  Well, says Morgan, people believe the body language every time.  Let's say your're giving a speech and you're just a little nervous.  Your body sends out unconscious signals of danger, and the audience responds by sending unconscious danger signals back.  The result is they can't take in what you're actually saying, and no communication happens.

Morgan talks about four steps to mastering this unconscious communication process. The first step is to be open, because nothing can happen between two people unless they're open to one another.  The second step is to connect, because once they're open they can begin to connect.  And the third step is to allow the passion for the content to come through.  The fourth and last step is to listen, because every communication is two-way.

Morgan says that if you put these four steps together, you can be an authentic and charismatic communicator.  I'd say Morgan is spot-on.  We've all personally seen "unconscious" communication undermine a leader's impact.

What are you doing to be more authentic?

Tags: communication, trust, authentic

Crafting Your Message - How to Communicate Effectively!

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 @ 15:11 PM

Imagine you have a really brilliant idea and your customer says that he's going to clear his calendar tomorrow so you can pitch it to him - and you'll have all the time you need.

Or picture going to your boss's office, uninvited, to discuss a great client opportunity that just came up. The boss looks up at you and says "Come on in. We'll spend a couple of hours brainstorming an approach."

Never happens, right? The world we live in is measured in 140-character tweets and 30-second soundbites. Most likely, you're going to have a minute or two walking down a hallway with your customer, and you'll need to convince your boss via email that you should pursue that great client opportunity.

How can you communicate effectively amidst the frantic pace of today's business world?

Crafting Your Message: The Basics

When you're ready to craft your own messages, keep these three basic principles in mind:

Have a single clear cut objective. Know what you want to accomplish with this communication. What's your goal, your purpose, your destination? Think about what you want your audience to know, believe, or do - and then make sure that's what comes through in your message. Be simple and concrete.

Know your audience and what they want. Target the go-to person -- I call him the "get-er done" guy -- who can get you to your destination. And know what that person is going to want from you, so you can talk about what's in it for them and why they might want to act on your message.

Develop a well-formulated approach. My suggestion is to have a simple and direct sentence that's going to keep you on track. Don't get all flowery. But do tease before you tell. That means you talk about the possibilities -- for example, what the world might look like if you do this, or what the project might look like if you do this -- and then you tell them how to do it. The idea behind this "tease, and then tell" approach is to first get your audience excited about something so they're moved to take action.

Tags: effective management, communication, objective

Tools for Better Understanding - Behavior and Attitude Assessments

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 @ 11:11 AM

Expressions-1.jpgThere are a number of tools that you can use to understand how and why people operate the way they do.

These are various types of behavior and attitude assessments.  If you take one of these assessments, you can understand yourself better.  And when results are shared across teams, it can help people understand one another better and work together more effectively -- help leaders lead with more impact and know how best to approach people and diffuse difficult situations.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (also know as the MBTI) has been around for a long time.  It focuses on illuminating the way you think and deal with information internally and how you think about the world around you.

Another effective tool is the Core Values Index, or CVI.  It's an assessment tool that measures your combination of intrinsic core values in order to get at who you are and how you handle issues such as conflict.

You can also use Strengths Finder 2.0. Developed by Tim Rath of the Gallup organization, it helps people begin to determine what natural talents thay have; whether they're being applied properly; and, if not, how to begin to leverage them.

DISC, another popular tool, is often referred to as the universal language of human behavior.  We use DISC a lot in my organization so I'm going to dive into a bit more detail on this particular tool.

People often decscribe DISC as what it's not.  It's not a measurement of emotional intelligence or personal intelligence or education or training.  It's also not a measurement of your experience or your skills or your world view.

But what it does measure is how you do what you do.  It's a measure of your own observable behaviors.  These are presented in neutral language, meaning there's really no good or bad behavioral styles in the DISC method; it just is what it is, and it's the reason I like this method so much.  It allows you to deal with other people more effectively and deal with their potentially challenging behaviors - without getting personal.


Tags: goals, assessments, behavior

What Makes a “Sticky” Point? Effective Communication!

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 @ 15:11 PM

Effective CommunicationMany factors play into success at getting your point to stick with your audience.  First of all, there needs to be a sense of urgency.  Yell "Fire!" and people will get that point fast and make for the nearest exit. Offer to develop a study on how to manage the eventuality of a fire and you have much less 'stickiness'.

Your point will also be more likely to stick if it conveys consequences. For example, tell people that bad things will happen if they don't do something and they'll be more likely to sit up, take notice and take in your message.

If your point inspires fascination - if it feels like that next shiny object - it can also take hold more effectively. Similarly, it can stick if it generates excitement - that is, if it makes people feel they have to have that ... or do that ... or be part of that.

A point or idea that's relevant now - that is important to the audiences's life right now and may even require action - will also get traction.

And, you'll sometimes hear someone say that "it just resonates with me." Your idea can also come on stronger and stir an emotion of some sort. Even better is a personal connection: This is when someone hearing your idea doesn't feel like you are talking to a roomful of people -- they feel you are talking directly to them.

So, when you're prepping for your next important communication - whether it's leading a team meeting or having a one-on-one with your boss -- think about these different ways you can make your point really stick.  And remember this: You have very little time to engage people and keep them engaged.

Tags: Speaking, urgent, communication, purpose

Bambi and Jaws

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, Nov 03, 2015 @ 10:11 AM

You should try to wrap up all the elements of your message into a story. What do I mean by a story? I like this definition from How to Write Your Best Story, by Philip Martin: “A story goes somewhere. It follows, with purpose, one or more characters through a series of events. By the end, it arrives at its target destination, fulfilling its reason for having been told.” When you tell a story, it’s easier for your audience to follow, remember and repeat it to others – and get them to act on your idea.

One of my favorite stories came from, of all places, the Department of Natural Resources in North Carolina. A number of years ago, North Carolina experienced shark attacks off its coast so the department wanted to come up a communication that wouldn’t discount the attacks but would put them in perspective, because they were, in fact, quite rare. So they came up with a fabulous story, the gist of which is that more people in North Carolina are killed by Bambi than by Jaws. It was engaging and its point stuck with me. And it stuck with a lot of people, because many folks still hit the beaches in North Carolina that summer (given current conditions on the beaches, it may be a good idea to roll this promotion out again!).

If you think about great communicators in general, they’re good story tellers. They have this of way of weaving their point into an anecdote that people can relate to their life experience and remember. Great orators of history – from Cicero to those of the current day – communicate via stories.

Tags: communication, story

Embracing Interdependence

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Mon, Oct 05, 2015 @ 09:10 AM

It does take some life and work experience to really understand the concept of stakeholders – and their potential impact on everything you do.

Think about how, in our personal lives, we only gradually perceive how this all works. As little kids, we’re very dependent; just about everything is done for us and given to us. Then we enter adolescence, and we feel very independent and very sure that we know everything. Then, eventually, we come to a point in our lives when we realize that we are all interdependent: I rely on you for some things; you rely on me for some things.

Our interdependence in the workspace is a reality we have to embrace and manage. As you clearly identify, understand and prioritize your stakeholders, the concept of ‘interdependence’ will be your test. Are you and your stakeholders truly interdependent?

Tags: stakeholders, interdependence

Three Keys to Building a Great Stakeholder Leadership Plan

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Wed, Sep 30, 2015 @ 13:09 PM

Most of us can identify our stakeholders, make sure we really understand their needs and desires are, and scope out a general approach for prioritizing and dealing with each stakeholder. To become really effective at stakeholder leadership, you’ll need a specific plan of action, based on what they need or want from you and how you will satisfy that need or want.

Now, I’m guessing that this is pretty easy to figure out when you’re thinking about your number-one stakeholder. You can probably do it in your sleep.

It’s the stakeholders on the periphery who are more challenging. These might be people you haven’t even spent much time with. But suppose you’ve gotten into some problems on a project and this one stakeholder’s concerns have to be addressed. If you haven’t thought much about this stakeholder, you may be in for a bumpy ride.

When you’re trying to make specific plans for satisfying a stakeholder’s needs, there are three key issues to consider:

Form. What form of information do they need to receive? Is it a report, is it you swinging by and speaking to them. Also, are they expecting some kind of blueprint or document or physical deliverable?

Periodicity. This is really just a fancy way to say how often you have to meet with them. How often do they have to see results from you? Do you need to submit a report at the end of every day, or every week, or every month? How often do they need to make contact with you?

Tags: leadership, stakeholders

Serving Everyone and Serving No One

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 @ 12:07 PM

I recently gave a keynote address to a mid market construction company and to wrap up the speech, we conducted a stakeholder leadership exercise.  While I was wandering around the audience during the exercise,  I came across a project manager who was struggling with the concept of prioritizing his stakeholders and what was even more challenging, he was struggling with the idea that he could not have ten #1 priorities!  He had four customers listed, his division VP, the CEO of the company, two estimators and two supervisors.  They were all #1 priorities! Right?  Wrong!

Let's think about that for a minute.  Can you really serve ten stakeholders at the same level? And even if you had ten #1 stakeholders, would you be able to exceed their expectations?  Probably not.

Stakeholder leadership forces you to make choices.  To choose your stakeholders, prioritize those stakeholders, fully understand the needs of those stakeholders and to choose a realistic plan to meet those stakeholder needs.

Can you serve everyone?  Learn to make tough choices!  It doesn't mean you're blowing some of your stakeholders off, it does mean you've made a business decision on who to focus on and when.


Tags: priorities, leadership, stakeholders

Are You More Comfortable Selling or Serving?

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 @ 13:07 PM

Whenever I ask a technical or engineering group, or in fact, almost any group of workers that are not sales professionals the question - "Are you more comfortable selling or serving?", the answer always leans to "serving". Many of us feel that "selling" is actually a four-letter word!  I do my job, I do it well, I give everything I have to the customer - and then some.  Don't ask me to 'sell' anything!

Let's relook at this question through the eyes of a customer that really trusts you.  The most trusted advisors are motivated by doing the next right thing for their customers.  These advisors have a strong competitive drive, not so much aimed at the competition, but in finding new ways to be of greater service to the customer.  They have enough self-confidence to listen to their customers with out pre-judging.  Also attributes of a world class sales professional!

Think about your role as a trusted advisor.  If your customers trust you, they probably also trust the products and services your company offers. It is really your responsibility to show your customers more of those trusted products and services - to help make them more effective and efficient in their markets.  You see you are not really selling additional products and servies -- you're sharing with your customers, procucts and services you trust that will make their lives better.

So are you more comfortable selling or serving?  Sometimes they are the same thing!


Tags: perspective, sales, trusted advisor, customer

Building TRUST

Posted by Marty O'Neill on Tue, May 19, 2015 @ 14:05 PM

Creating a 'culture of ownership' can sometimes seem like a full time job in itself.  The signs of growth; initiative, accountability, team spirit and external focus should be regularly monitored.  The more you understand the signs, the better you'll be at creating the environment where everyone on your team 'gets it'.  But the benefits to you, your team, your customer and your company are tremendous!

As you make your way around the workplace this week, as you talk with peers, bosses and team members, take the pulse of your culture.  How are you doing as a leader?  Do you need to teach more?  Do you need to reward differently?  Do you need to unconditionally support more?  Do you need to share more information?  Are you as trustworthy as you can be?  Think TRUST!

Tags: corporate culture, leadership, trust, Reward Systems

Subscribe to this Blog

"Defying Gravity"

25 Mistakes Your Company Could be Making Right Now ~

Click me

Marty O'Neill

Marty O'Neill




Keynote Speaker

Corporate Seminars

Marty O'Neill is available for keynote presentations at corporate events and conferences nation wide.

About Marty O'Neill

My Books


The Power of an Internal Franchise


Building Business Value


Act Like an Owner