In Business Communications, Sharpen Your Writing Skills and Presentation Skills by Being Concise

“Public speaking is the art of diluting a two-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary.” John F. Kennedy

I like what JFK had to say for a couple reasons. First, if you can’t stand up and say it in 15 or 20 minutes, then keep your rear end planted in the chair. When it comes to business communication skills, ponderous length doesn’t impress; it alienates. We’re all busy, and we all have limited attention spans. FOCUS your message and never forget: Brevity is clarity.

In business communication, the same rule applies whether you’re trying to sharpen your presentation skills or writing skills. Keep your audience or readers uppermost in your mind — stifling the urge to pontificate — and they’ll be there with you. The last thing you want them to do is examine the insides of their eyelids when you’re halfway through your speech.

Of course, keeping it concise isn’t necessarily the easiest way. Many times I recall returning to the newsroom as a reporter with a notebook full of facts and juicy quotes from a homicide scene or a contentious city council meeting, only to hear my editor say: “We’re putting it on the front page, but keep it short. We’ve only got 10 inches for it.”

Ouch, I’d think. I don’t have time to write short. Now I have to decide what NOT to use. But remember: It’s worth it. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was 278 words, and it took him only six or seven minutes to deliver the magnificent 701-word Second Inaugural Address. No, you’re not Lincoln. But you are capable of distilling your thoughts and stifling your ego.

Second, I’ve got some advice for anyone frightened at the prospect of stand-up business communication, meaning a presentation or a speech: Think about it as a conversation between two intelligent people who care about effective communication. That way, you’re not an actor all alone up there on a stage. Instead, you’re in a dialogue that takes on energy and depth thanks to partners who listen and work with you.

In a conversation, avoiding eye contact would be rude, wouldn’t it? So why would you lower the lights and keep turning away from your listeners to look at a PowerPoint presentation on a screen behind you?

Any good conversation is two-way, a give-and-take, a natural form of effective communication skills that benefits both parties. Of course, with a speech, you have to start out by doing most of the talking. But everything you say should be directed at encouraging questions from audience members and a conversation among them. If you start by standing up and speaking, then find yourself facilitating a lively discussion, congratulate yourself. You can add public speaking to your growing list of communication skills.

Quality Time With Some Talking Seals

Not long ago, I did some writing training and presentation skills training for seven bright young SEALs, the Navy equivalent of Special Forces. When they’re not “operational” in South America or Bosnia or Afghanistan or Iraq, these seven guys test new weapons and tactics at the Naval Special Weapons Development Group in Virginia Beach, Va.

Having covered the Pentagon for Business Week magazine, my expectations were low when it comes to military writing skills — jargony, acronym-clogged, even pompous-sounding language. I was in for a pleasant surprise. To be sure, the SEALs were a bit wordy, but they quickly grasped the key to any workplace writing: Get to the point. Tell me what you want. Persuade me to adopt a new policy or spend money, analyze a complex situation, or explain a new development. Then tell me why I should be interested, what’s in it for me. From there, you support that idea with details.

What’s more, respect me, and all readers, by being concise. Quoting the English poet Robert Southey: “If you be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams — the more they are condensed the deeper they burn.” That’s quite a leap from modern-day elite warriors to a Romantic Age poet, isn’t it? Still, it’s all about deploying the language we share to achieve effective communication, using words wisely and economically and with conviction.

I heard something else from the SEALs that makes me think all is not lost when it comes to military writing today. Their superiors have introduced them to a writing organization concept called “bottom line up front.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? Get to the point. Unfortunately, that leaves us with the acronym BLUF. I wonder if the powers-that-be would like to rephrase that.

9 Ways to Grow Your Business Online With No Money

Creating a successful business online requires a lot of effort and time. Even if you don’t have the large marketing budgets you can still create traffic and hits and online action to your web page and here’s how:

1) Create a website that clearly defines what you do and what you offer. Make it very easy for a consumer to know exactly how you can help them or what you can provide. Write using the terminology that your consumers use, use the right keywords and Meta tags within your site. SEO start with the main page, so make sure the copy on your core website is written effectively.

2) Write effective company articles – This is the PR for your business. It is very important that when you write your articles you spell correctly and use good grammar. In writing articles, this is all about giving the reader some information about you and what you offer.

3) Write product reviews- Aside from articles that are more on a PR Press Release or informative format it is very important that you also write product reviews or service reviews on how your product is used or how a product you sell can help the consumer. Use good copy and tell a great company story.

4) Don’t forget about your blogs – It’s easy to put up a blog, post a blog and then never write another one again. Or maybe a few months go by before you write and post to your blog. Choose a day and time in your schedule and post to your blog. A lot of companies these days are hiring writers like me to update and post to their blogs. But if you feel you have the writing ability to manage this, pick a day like every Friday at noon and post to your blogs. This is all about increasing and growing your business.

5) One Blog, Two Blog, Three Blog…More – Pick blog heading and titles that best describe your products or services. Most companies offer more than one product or service, so dedicate a blog to each of those. You can include a list of all your other blogs on each of those blogs and interlink them. But don’t just settle with one, in this case more is better. Use blog titles that are relative to your key words.

6) The Blog Website – Blogs are now coming with pages, they are created more like websites. You can create an About Us page, a Services Page, contact, whatever you desire in your web pages, and this can be in addition to your current site or possibly be your main page. Utilize it. WordPress and Blogger both have this feature available now.

7) Comments – Comments are a great way to share a thought or opinion as well as who you are. Post comments and always leave a signature about yourself. Your name, website and contact info.

8) Submit your site or sites – Don’t forget to submit your sites to Search Engines, Directory lists, Ezine’s, and any and all publishing services you can find. This goes for your website, blogs and blogs that you may host with Blogging providers. Your articles can be submitted to thousands of SEO friendly directories and ezines out in the web. Set a goal to do a batch each month

9) Twitter – If you don’t already have a twitter account- set one up immediately. Twitter is a great way to drive clicks to your website, web pages, squeeze pages, articles or blogs.

All these internet marketing strategies cost no money, but simply your time or maybe someone else’s time for money and you will find reasonable rates for writers to manage these blogs and write your articles for you. And don’t forget that when you submit your articles, you leave a signature with the website you want to drive consumers to. Happy Selling!

5 Tip-Offs Your Counterpart is a Better Trained Negotiator Than You Are!

Nobody likes to be snookered, to be taken advantage of, and this especially so when we’re negotiating.

If we’re hoodwinked or conned when dollars and cents and promotions and salaries are at stake, it’s especially painful.

Before you rush off to that next job interview or performance evaluation, or you race to bargain for that new car or enticing house, open your eyes and take the measure of the people you’re negotiating with.

It may save you money, embarrassment, and even your career!

Here are 5 tip-offs that they may be more skilled at the game than you are:

(1) IS HE TOO DUMB TO BE TRUE? That car dealer that seems to be the village idiot may be simply playing Lt. Columbo with you. You remember him, the TV detective who mumbled and bumbled his way to solving case after case, ensnaring the most evil and, get this, the cockiest and most over-confident bad guys in the world! Playing the bozo is a smart move, according to a consensus of negotiating pro’s. By asking questions and appearing un-slick, you gain several advantages, not the last of which is you listen more than you talk, you fact-find, uncover their negotiating ranges, and you induce the other party to make damaging disclosures while avoiding the perils of blabbing. There was only one job interview where it paid for me to appear smart, and that was when I sought college teaching positions. So, exceptions exist, but they’re rare.

(2) IS SHE THE NICEST PERSON YOU’VE MET IN MONTHS?

Nice people are disarming. They offer us a glass of water, hold doors open for us, smile, make pleasant eye contact, compliment our attire, and put us at ease. And in doing so, they get far more from us, through tit-for-tat, our desire to reciprocate, than they would ever extract through bullying. The “hard negotiator” exists, the one who seems to put his bulldog personality before all else. But he isn’t nearly as effective, in most cases, as that flawlessly polite and congenial person that seems to REALLY LIKE US! Beware of them.

(3) DOES SHE CONFESS THAT SHE HAS LIMITED AUTHORITY?

This is one of the oldest gambits in the book. If I have limited authority, I can’t seal a deal all by myself, which means if you can, what you promise is binding, but what I “think I might be able to do,” is always tentative. This means you make concessions without a stop-loss, and I haven’t conceded a thing. I’ll leave the table with all of my options open, always promising to “see what I can do,” but only getting final approval much later on, after you have caved in on point after point.

(4) LIKE A GREAT FOOTBALL COACH, DOES HE KNOW HOW TO PLAY THE CLOCK?

Effective negotiators seem to speed up and slow down the pace of the game, nearly at will. When a sense of urgency suits them, you feel pressure to answer their questions, provide commitments, and make concessions on the spot. When they find it valuable to slow the pace, to heighten your frustration and to tweak your need for quick closure, suddenly, they have to take a break or are called into another meeting or have to take a call and get back to you later. The Master of the Clock is typically a negotiation master, as well.

(5) JUST WHEN YOU THINK YOU HAVE A DEAL, DOES SHE NEED JUST ONE SMALL FAVOR OR ADDITIONAL ITEM?

A “nibble” is a tiny morsel that your counterpart asks for just as, or even some time after you think your terms have been agreed upon and are final. The smart buyer says to the car dealer, “Of course, you’re going to make sure to give me a full tank of gas, aren’t you?” Depending on the model, that can be a $50 nibble, or much more, if you’re buying a Winnebago. Is any sane seller going to refuse, to watch his commission scamper away over a measly few dollars? Yes, some will, who resent nibblers, but most won’t.

Looking at the bright side, now you know five of the most typical negotiating gambits, and of course, you can use them too, when you encounter someone with even LESS training!