Category: Communication

Key skills for speaking on behalf of your organisation

It should go without saying that an organization should get its spokespeople media trained, according to Robert Taylor in his book Media Interview Techniques: A Complete Guide to Media Training. Journalists conduct interviews day in day out, so if your spokespeople have never had any training or practice they’ll immediately be at a big disadvantage, just as someone who has never learned to cook will probably make a hash of preparing a meal for a dinner party.


How expensive consulting firms create their presentations

Where do the most compelling strategy presentations come from? The answer, of course, is from top tier management consulting firms, according to Dave McKinsey in his book Strategic Storytelling: How to Create Persuasive Business Presentations. So the author uses slide decks prepared by McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Accenture to demonstrate his principles, bearing in mind that strategic storytelling is mostly about what you do before you actually speak to a group.


A handy way to make your speeches more engaging

There are several common problems with business presentations, including failure to relate the message to the lives of the audience, failure to prepare adequately, and trying to cover too much information in too little time, according to Luis Cubero in his book Business Storytelling Guide: Creating Impactful and Compelling Business Presentations Using Storytelling Techniques. Each of these problems can be addressed by taking a storytelling approach to the presentation.


Things to consider before you send your next internal memo

Last century the communications environment was typified by hierarchy, information control, broadcast and audience passivity. In the current century, communications are characterised by interconnectedness, speed, transparency, surveillance, and diversity, according to David Cowan in his book Strategic Internal Communication: How to Build Employee Engagement and Performance. The book aims to provide advice on internal corporate communications in the new information space.


How to communicate complex ideas

Every day great ideas fall by the wayside because they were not properly explained, according to Frank Pietrucha in his book Supercommunicator: Explaining the Complicated So Anyone Can Understand. To be successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace, you need to articulate a clear and easy-to-understand message to all relevant parties. The book aims to show how to communicate complicated ideas in a society where complicated material is abundant.


How to control your body language

Power in human communications and relations is determined largely by the interplay of our unconscious minds, according to Nick Morgan in his book Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximising Your Personal Impact. If you can understand how that unconscious interplay works and exercise some control over it, you may become more effective in the ways you relate to other people.


How to give your clients difficult advice

Extremely intelligent, skilled advocates can be terribly uncomfortable in the counsellor’s role – unclear, insensitive or less than candid – according to Marjorie Corman Aaron in her book Client Science: Advice for Lawyers on Counseling Clients Through Bad News and Other Legal Realities. Clients are fully informed only when they understand and accept the legal realities and feel full trust and confidence in their lawyers’ advocacy, competence, motive and respect.

It is relatively easy to deliver good news to a client, but complications arise in delivering bad news, particularly in dealing with the client’s emotional reactions. The author suggests strategies for:

  • Adopting behaviour, tone and language suitable for conveying bad news
  • Prompting the client to raise the likelihood of bad news
  • Delivering the bad news in a sensitive but direct manner so that it is clearly understood
  • Avoiding the temptation to distort reality by softening the blow
  • Making sure your voice and body language do not send false signals
  • Retaining the client’s confidence in your competence and commitment
  • Avoiding statements which might threaten the client’s ego and identity
  • Avoiding placing blame on the client
  • Helping the client understand that risks are real, rather than just abstract
  • Persuading the client that legal reality does not necessarily equate with perceived fairness

The book provides plenty of insights into the difficulties of translating legal concepts into language which clients can understand; the emotional reactions which clients experience and how they increase the difficulty of gaining an objective comprehension of the legal realities; predictable ways in which people behave irrationally and how they can be addressed; and the use of non-verbal forms of expression in conveying advice accurately.

Any experienced legal practitioner will be able to confirm that some lawyers seem to be able to win and retain the confidence of clients, while others fail to do so, and the difference often has very little to do with legal ability. Some lawyers have natural abilities in relating to clients, whereas others do not. In my view this book provides a host of helpful insights into the reasons behind the difference, and gives very helpful advice on improving client relationship skills.