Blog feed CGFeedMaker 1.0.15 on CMS Made Simple (Michelle Tafili) The New Finance Mandate - But Can the Leopard Change his Spots? It's wrong to generalise. And stereotypes are very much out of fashion these days. So forgive me if I generalise for a moment about a stereotype! The FD. The traditional FD is an accountant who focusses on the past performance of the company - as defined by numbers - tax liabilities, compliance requirements, and cost efficiencies. They're intelligent, numerate, meticulous with an eye for detail, but also err on the introspective side. And can be positively shy and retiring when it comes to speaking and presenting. Over the last few years, the role of Finance has been changing. While retaining the traditional areas, there is now a growing list of new, less familiar, responsibilities such as the digitalisation of the business, the development and deployment of solutions which drive business transformation - and the need to build relationships and cross-functional talent and teams in the process. All of this is reframing the Finance function as a key driver of future business development and corporate strategy. The change of emphasis is putting the finance leader into a central leadership role in promoting, articulating and enabling growth, and how the company creates and preserves future value. But there's a problem. The Finance lead may have a new focus but can the leopard change his spots? Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:29:53 +0100 The New FD: Can the leopard change its spots? Finance directors can improve their personal impact and confidence through developing soft skills, says Simon Cannon, director of communication training firm Professional Voice. Feature by Simon Cannon, Professional Voice appeared in Financial Director on March 25, 2019   Mon, 25 Mar 2019 12:19:07 +0000 New Year, New Challenge, New Program As we get in to the new year, executives are engaging in the challenge of operating in a fast-moving environment where quality and speed of communication is paramount. Thu, 07 Feb 2019 14:59:13 +0000 Creative thinking in persuasive speaking and presenting Do you have a conference coming up? A kick-off meeting? A TED-style talk? You might even have a Dragon’s Den style meeting... And want to give it a fresh approach, a bit of sparkle? A little ideation may be the answer! But what does to ideate mean and how do you do it? Tue, 06 Nov 2018 15:59:57 +0000 "Smile - You're on Camera" The power of body language in leadership communication Have you noticed how little you take in at the very beginning of a talk or presentation? Ever wondered why that is? Wed, 25 Jul 2018 18:15:18 +0100 The Power of Words Leadership Communication Words, words, words. We are surrounded by them on every device, beit an iPad, smartphone, desktop, radio or TV. A deluge of words is created every day in the form of news, blogs, vloggs, videos, tweets - you name it. As of January 2018 there were 1.3 billion websites on the internet. Global traffic on the internet is now being measured in zettabytes and yottabytes - in other words, overwhelmingly large amounts of words. And all these words, all these messages, are jostling to be read, to be heard, and to be noticed. So how can you make your words work harder?   How can you make your words more meaningful to customers, employees and to your management team? Fri, 13 Jul 2018 22:33:23 +0100 The Coffee Machine: the Most Dangerous Place in the Office? Handling Q&A How many times have you been stopped in your tracks by an unexpected question? Who was it from? And where was it? When you were just leaving the office? In the lift? Or at the coffee machine? The coffee machine is potentially the most dangerous place in the office. The CEO might just be passing, see you and ask for a quick update on a project you're working on. Or the FD might want to know the reason for the variance in your actual spend v budget this month. No problem - if you're prepared. But what if you're not? Fri, 15 Jun 2018 15:14:19 +0100 Building Your Leadership Brand Leadership Communication A brand is what you are known for - your reputation, your image. It's what people say about you. People make remarks about their team members, colleagues, clients and managers all the time. And these remarks can be positive or negative: "He's a great guy". "She's very ambitious." or "He's very slow to get things done." "She's over-meticulous." A person's brand is also often reflected in how they are introduced to others, for example to new recruits or to stakeholders, or externally to clients or a conference audience. Here's an example of how Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Cola was introduced at the outset of an interview: "She’s a leader. Visionary. Competitive. Tough-minded. Caring. Indra makes things happen.” So what do your colleagues say about you - and is it important? Fri, 23 Mar 2018 16:17:43 +0000 Is your conference talk internet ready? Speaking as a Leader Increasingly conference speeches are being filmed and then posted on the internet, either on a corporate website or on one or more social media platforms. This means that the business speaker has 2 audiences: the 'present' one in the room, the local audience and the global, international audience watching you through the camera lens, the 'remote' internet audience. So what do you need to do to take this 'remote' audience into account? How can you make your talk internet-ready? Here are some thoughts on creating and delivering a talk which works for your global audience. Sun, 11 Mar 2018 12:18:03 +0000 Are you still using an 'Agenda' slide? Messaging Skills for Driving Change Too many presenters are still using a meeting style 'Agenda' slide at the beginning of their presentations (which looks something like the one illustrated below). This immediately sends out all the wrong signals: that the presenter is going to talk about a random set of information, at best unstructured - and at worst dull. Here are a few ideas on how to make an agenda slide which works for you - rather than against you. Tue, 13 Feb 2018 11:34:08 +0000 Professional Voice celebrates 20 years of supporting business professionals "Every client is individual; every speaking situation unique", says Marie Lester, co-founder of Professional Voice. Sun, 11 Feb 2018 06:24:57 +0000 The Mighty Metaphor Executive Voice and Communication Skills The best communicators use words to paint a picture so that people can ‘see’ what they mean. Ways to help your audience to imagine, visualise and understand the very essence of your message include analogy, simile and metaphor (also types of analogy).  But what is in business vogue at the moment? Thu, 27 Jul 2017 16:48:29 +0100 Structuring a Successful Business Message Executive Voice and Communication Skills Everyone knows that if you build a house without a foundation and supporting walls, at some point it will simply fall down. The exact same principle applies to building a message - whatever the audience, context or audience size. A message of any type - whether it's a presentation, speech or response to a question - needs a structure to enable us to select and arrange the most appropriate content effectively. So why do people forget or simply not use structure? Thu, 20 Jul 2017 11:02:14 +0100 Beginning and Ending a Presentation Leadership Communication Skills Do you begin your presentation with stock phrases such as 'Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to attend this presentation' or 'In the next half hour, I'm going to update you on...'? And in so doing inadvertently communicate to your audience that they'll be lucky if they hear anything engaging in the next 30 minutes! Sun, 02 Jul 2017 15:52:22 +0100 Framing Effective Messages Leadership Communication Skills The content you select for your message, the words and stories you choose, and even the way you deliver your message are all forms of framing meaning. Tue, 14 Mar 2017 12:15:16 +0000 BT Speaking Clock Competition on the BBC News Professional Voice on the judging panel to find a new voice for the BT Speaking Clock Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:46:41 +0100 The Story of Change Leadership Communication A great many presentations in corporations are about making a case for change. But very often the reasoning isn't easy to understand. But by using a very simple structure, the story of change can be told clearly and persuasively... Mon, 06 Jun 2016 21:52:14 +0100 Adding Flow and Focus to Your Message Leadership Communication Once you have created a clear structure for your message and have built your business case, consider how you will lead your audience through your message. There are certain phrases which will both help the flow and make the message more coherent.  Mon, 06 Jun 2016 15:35:59 +0100 Building a Business Case Leadership Communication In a typical presentation, people compile a set of information in order to try to persuade or influence their listeners. But this is seldom effective. Audiences need to understand a logical flow of points brought to life by credible examples, research and relevant stories. They will only engage with an argument if it becomes real in their minds or relates to their personal experience. So how do you go about building a persuasive case? Sun, 05 Jun 2016 12:57:24 +0100 The Importance of Positive Thinking in Leadership Leadership Communication Attitude affects Behaviour which influences Culture - the ABC of positive thinking. Wed, 06 Apr 2016 09:32:55 +0100 How to Build Executive Presence Leadership Communication Executive Presence is not a quest to find the Holy Grail. It is not innate. Executive Presence is the result of successful leadership communication and alignment is central to that process: Tue, 17 Nov 2015 16:32:36 +0000 Mastering Impromptu Speaking Leadership Communication Many people find impromptu speaking, or more colloquially 'speaking on the fly', a scary prospect. This is because it represents the unknown - and people think that you can't prepare for the unknown. Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:55:16 +0100 Pronouncing the Definite Article 'the' International Business English If you are a non native speaker of English, there are a few useful things to know regarding the pronunciation of the definite article 'the'. Wed, 29 Jul 2015 07:55:05 +0100 International Business English Speaking English like a Native If you're a non-native speaker of English and want to improve the way you sound, you will need to know the contracted and weak forms that are commonly used in spoken English. If you don't use these forms then you may not be understood (even if your English is fluent) and the clarity and impact of your communication won't be as effective. Tue, 14 Jul 2015 08:59:39 +0100 International Business English Making Yourself Understood Do you find that people are confused by something you've said, that your listeners haven't fully understood your meaning, that your message didn't 'land' quite as you expected? You know that your English is correct but something else isn't working as it should.  This could be related to the 'tune' you are using. Thu, 09 Jul 2015 12:28:35 +0100 Financial Times and What you need to know about delivering an important presentation. Presenting is not my strength. How can I develop my confidence and get my message across effectively, as well as keep my audience engaged and manage my nerves? Marie Lester, Executive Communication coach at Professional Voice, says: Steve Jobs was probably the nearest thing the business world had to a pop star. He made presenting look effortless, but what was the secret to his winning style?    Thu, 25 Sep 2014 12:38:49 +0100 Management Communication Managing Teams Remotely Remote working is increasing, and with it the challenges of managing people remotely. One of the biggest problems is making people feel that they are connected that, as their manager, you are interested in them and that they are working in the right direction, aligned to agreed business goals. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:58:15 +0100 Leadership Communication Harnessing the Power of Words The best leaders have always been able to engage their employees, persuade their management teams of the benefits of their ideas, and convince the company to follow their vision. And words are usually the most powerful tool for doing this. Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:17:15 +0100 Small Talk, Big Deal Effective leaders know the value of informal communication The art of making conversation is not usually a focus of executive communication development - presentation, negotiation and influencing skills tend to take precedence. But in business, relationships are crucial and it would be a mistake to underestimate the role of informal communication (or small talk) in building relationships. Just because it’s small doesn’t mean it can’t have a big impact. Mon, 20 Jan 2014 17:05:28 +0000 Leadership Communication Influencing Individuals and Organisations All leaders would relish the epithet of ‘great manager’ or ‘charismatic leader’. But in practice, how do we achieve these lofty heights?   Wed, 01 Jan 2014 12:15:22 +0000 The Art of Public Speaking Speaking Effectively in Public How often do you get your ideas across to your own satisfaction in public? How successful are you at convincing a crowd of the validity of your concept, the wisdom of your plan or the sense of your proposal? Sun, 04 Aug 2013 18:15:03 +0100 Just Beat It! Making An Effective Corporate Film Everyone should have at least one corporate film – or should they? Corporate films are now created and put on Facebook, Vimeo and intranets. But are they serving their purpose? Many corporate films and videos do not impart a clear message. They are hard to watch, they don’t engage and the people speaking on them look stiff and uncomfortable. So what has gone wrong? Can we learn something from the music industry?   Fri, 26 Jul 2013 12:55:20 +0100 The Art of TedTalk Talking Voice and Communication Skills: Voicing Your Views   How often do you get your ideas across to your own satisfaction? How successful are you at convincing others of the validity of your concept, the wisdom of your plan or the sense of your proposal?   Mon, 15 Jul 2013 18:20:04 +0100 Have YOU got it? Executive Presence "You've either got it, or you haven't", you hear people say. Can you really develop 'Presence' or is it something you are born with? At Professional Voice, we know that you can develop it - through effective vocal delivery, body language and eye contact.  Take a look at our style guide... Wed, 26 Jun 2013 12:08:47 +0100 Developing Your Corporate Image Telephone Speaking Your corporate brand is communicated in many ways: through your letterhead, correspondence, through your company literature and your website.  All your visual commmunications clearly make an impression on your clients. But when a potential client speaks to someone at your company on the phone, what impression do they have then?  Sun, 16 Jun 2013 11:01:45 +0100 How Should You Begin A Presentation? Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Presentations The beginning of your presentation is an opportunity for you to engage the audience’s attention and ensure they are listening before you get into the main content of your presentation. A presentation which starts 'my name is...' is a safe way to begin but may send a message to the audience that they are NOT going to be surprised by what you have to say. Likewise, an agenda slide listing 10 items normally heralds the beginning of another information-driven 30 minutes or so.  So what can you do? Fri, 24 May 2013 08:43:56 +0100 Mastering Meetings Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Meetings So much emphasis is put on developing skills for presenting that sometimes how we interact with others in a meeting is neglected, although it is one of the key skills for management.   Fri, 18 Jan 2013 11:30:59 +0000 Are You Getting Your Message Across? Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Presenting Facts and Figures Presenting a lot of facts and figures can be a difficult task. In the worst cases the message can be entirely lost. No more so than in the example of the reports presented prior to the Colombia space shuttle disaster in 2003. In a study conducted afterwards looking into the causes of the disaster, a technical report presented in PowerPoint was held partly to blame for causing the crash. Fri, 14 Sep 2012 12:50:44 +0100 Counting the Cost of Clichés Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Using Expressions We all have our favourite expressions and phrases – whatever nationality we are. Fri, 14 Sep 2012 10:34:52 +0100 The English Language: Going for Gold? Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Figures of Speech If public speaking were an Olympic sport, would you win a medal? How would you perform? And, most importantly, what criteria would the judges use? Tue, 07 Aug 2012 19:53:43 +0100 Do I Make Myself Clear? Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Style Clients have often said to me that they find native English speakers harder to understand than their colleagues who have English as a second language. Why is this? Surely native English speakers are easier to understand... Fri, 13 Jul 2012 10:38:23 +0100 Capturing Hearts and Minds Voice and Communication Skills Top Tips: Influence Have you ever wondered what the expression ‘capturing the hearts and minds’ really means? It has been used for years to describe the goal of successfully winning over an audience during a presentation, speech or briefing.  Sun, 20 May 2012 13:19:55 +0100 Financial Times Deutschland Tue, 15 May 2012 15:22:08 +0100 Public Service Magazine Masterclass: Learning simple vocal techniques will enable a speaker to maximise the effectieness of a speech or presentation, says Simon Cannon, Director of Professional Voice Tue, 01 Nov 2011 16:02:43 +0000 Pharmaceutical Field Magazine - London "We're letting you go"How to break bad news effectively Mon, 01 Jun 2009 13:37:59 +0100 The Sunday Times Speak easy: it's a skill you can learnVoice coaching can help you to address large groups or communicate better with staffLIZ LIGHTFOOT Sun, 20 Jan 2008 13:39:53 +0000 The Mail on Sunday You could talk your way to success Use a voice coach andyou could be speaking the same language as your bosses;DUNCAN FARMER Sun, 01 Jul 2007 13:43:30 +0100 Financial Times Deutschland Giving Managers a VoiceSABINE MEINERT Tue, 21 Nov 2006 13:45:07 +0000 Capital Sun, 15 May 2005 15:23:07 +0100 Axion People and business development in the legal professionPartner patter Thu, 13 Apr 2000 13:47:58 +0100 PR Week Perfect Pitch: Expressing yourself clearly has much to do with voice control as what you are saying... Fri, 02 Jul 1999 12:48:26 +0100 The Independent on Sunday Speaking Naturally and Confidently "Most people when they feel uncomfortable, tense up and their voice tends to stick to one tone. They add hand gestures to compensate for this and quickly hit an impasse: the voice is trapped. They start to sound dull, and lifeless. And people stop listening. Sun, 28 Mar 1999 12:46:55 +0100 The Times City Success Spreads by Word of Mouth "Managers reach a level where they are thrown into the limelight to make speeches in front of hundreds of people and possess none of the necessary skills... Sat, 06 Mar 1999 12:45:29 +0000 Sunday Business Put some backbone into how you speak "It is well known that any speech or presentation requires good content and visuals and there are countless courses in presentation and selling skills," says Marie Lester, Director of Professional Voice. Sun, 22 Nov 1998 12:52:34 +0000 Financial Times Now You Hear Me at the Back! What's it like to have voice coaching? We sent newly appointed chief executive David Harker along to Professional Voice to find out. Tue, 30 Jun 1998 12:49:40 +0100