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    Entries in clarity (4)

    Tuesday
    Jun032014

    Less stuff, more happiness

    Graham Hill is a designer and his TED Talk on having less stuff and more happiness is a quick and inspiring watch at just five minutes.  


    As he spoke, I sketched some visual notes… and distilled his key points to a less than 90 seconds sketch video. You can watch the video by clicking on the image below...

     


    So that's a five minute talk, distilled to a one pager of visuals, and to a 90 second video. 

    Distil, distil, distil.

    Too many leaders waffle on, give the l-o-n-g story every time they speak, send a lengthy bullet-pointed blah-blah email or share a thick PowerPoint pack of 'stuff'. Oh yawn!

    You might be in love with it but you're fighting for attention from the people you're trying to engage with. 

    Keep your teams happier and help them get to meaning quicker by delivering short messages and clear compelling, 'made-by-a-human' visuals.

    Be sure your communication has less stuff… and you and your teams will have more happiness!

    Sunday
    Apr212013

    Bright lights, big production

    You know the scene : big arena, 10,000+fans, stage set for a live concert, pre-concert music playing...

    Then the lights go dim and the artist hits the stage. Bam! They're on!

    Usually at a large concert there is an oversupply of lighting, mini fireworks, massive visual extravaganza and all other sorts of visual effects. It's part of how it's done these days. 

    But last night at the Bryan Adams concert, things went a little more 'old school'. 

    Celebrating 20+ years in the business, he had a string of recognisable hits to pump out. And it was a brilliant concert. 

    What impacted me so much was the 'pared back' staging and production. It was the band, on the stage with some Marshall amps. The so-called visual extravaganza was a large screen behind the stage, showing footage from three roving camera crews. And the footage was tinted with a sweet sepia, black and white tone. 

    This style gave the audience a look at the gig from all angles. It was so simple. And it so worked. It was very smooth and it let Bryan's lyrics and the band's music be the star. 

    I was reminded of Leonardo Da Vinci's quote : Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. 

    So true. It was simple, clean and clear. It was sophisticated. The clarity of what this gig was about was crystal clear. 

    Pare back your own production extravaganza this week.

    Delete the elements that aren't really needed.

    Get rid of the fluff, the fireworks and the pizzazz that you think you need to dress up your message.

    Pare it back to get to the clarity of the message, the content and the bigger picture. Simplicity is the best gig of all. Rock on!

     

    Thursday
    Dec132012

    You are a leader. Prove it. 

    There are a lot of announcements going on at this time of year in business – reshaping, reshifting, rearranging, budgets cut, departments changing and roles shifting.

    But there always will. No matter the time of year.

    There will always be things that leaders need to say. Not just write it in an email, hit send and hide. But say it, speak it, announce it and deliver it.

    Here is an announcement for leaders: Stop the Spin.

    Stop the waffle-laden, couched-in-uncertain words and riddled-with-vague-descriptions announcements. Stop it. They’re not listening and they don’t believe you.

    Stop the spin.

    Stop the ‘we’d better say it like this or else….’.

    Stop the ‘hush hush’ meetings where you’re supposedly ‘framing’ or ‘positioning’ information before you say it.

    Admit it. You are spinning.

    After my previous career in communications and public relations I know a good spin when I see it or hear it.

    Leadership communications –  announcing good news and bad - needs three key things:

     

    Humanity.

    It comes first. You’re dealing with people. Not ‘resources’, numbers, EFTs or heads.

     

    Clarity.

    You’re confusing people with your long-winded sentences, waffly phrases and ‘I can’t quite say it how I want to say it’ speeches, riddled with workplace catch phrases that send minds into orbit and off topic.  

    Get clear. What is the message? In normal speak. Say it like that.

     

    Elegance.

    This is different to spin. It means something has style and good taste. It is concise. Take your normal speak message and give it some elegance.

     

    You are a leader. You are a communicator.

    Prove it.

    Every time you open your mouth. Speak like a leader.

    1. Show humanity first.
    2. Be clear with your message.
    3. Present it elegantly, concisely and with style.

    Delete waffle, long sentences, boring phrases and work-speak.

    Be original. Be unique.

    Everything about a leader speaks, especially when they speak.

     

     

     

    Monday
    Dec032012

    Allow warm-up time 


    It was a Friday night and the live band started playing in front of the audience. I remember one person in our group of friends said to me ‘come on, get into it’ ... as in, 'start enjoying yourself now, would you?!'
     
    But the music had only just started and it was taking me a little while to get over the busy Friday at work, the phone calls and conversations and to ease in to the evening of socialising and entertainment. I couldn’t ‘get into it’ at the click of her fingers. I needed time to shift from one environment to another.
     
    The same happens when you bring people together for a meeting, conversation, workshop or discussion. You can’t announce ‘start collaborating..... now!’ or 'OK folks, come up with your best ideas - now!’
     
    Too often I see team or workshop leaders who haven't created a suitable environment or allowed time to help people ‘get into it’. 

    So when you bring a team together, do these things:
     

    • Refresh and shift. Help people get out of the environment they've just been in. Offer a cool drink, a hot tea, tell a story, ask how they are...
    • For the set up and opening, take it slow. If you rush now, you won't get the best out of the group. The group will achieve more with a great environment where it’s comfortable to participate. And yes, sometimes this is anti-rush; people rush in to a workshop or meeting and will want to rush out; that doesn't mean your session needs to be a rush too. Set the tone, pace and environment.
    • Explain: why they are there, what's the purpose, what's the outcome you're driving towards, what's the bigger picture, what you're hoping to get from them. 
    • Give the group clarity about what will happen in this session. 'We'll hear from Tim about the history of the project, then move on to discussion about the obstacles getting in the way, then identify what we can do to meet the customer needs on the service'. A few points on an agenda, a process outlined or a structure for the session is crucial. This helps people settle in.

    And throughout the band's set of songs, I certainly ‘got into it’, singing along, dancing, cheering and applauding. Woo hoo!

    At the end, the musicians didn’t rush off the stage. And nor should you or your team. The band waved, thanked, cheered, clapped the audience and bowed. Make sure you wind up, close and wrap up the session or workshop – spend time at this stage so that actions are clear, next steps are articulated and people are acknowledged. 

    Avoid the 'rushed meeting of the invisibles' as I call it: strangers in a cold environment, rushing to try and make wonderful things happen. It won't happen.

    Spend time to set the scene and help people shift - the investment will be worth it.