Speaking the wrong body language

12 Sep

Have you ever been in a meeting and wondered why someone just won’t look you in the face? Before you leap to conclusions (they’re ignoring me, there’s something they’re not telling me, is there something on my face?!) some new research suggests the cause could be something you’re may not be expecting…

New research presented at the British Science Festival this week has found that rather than being a sign of boredom, poor social skills or disinterest, someone not looking at you when you are speaking could actually be because they are searching for what to say.
When I came across these results in a national newspaper this week, it got me thinking- how much interaction do we actually misinterpret? How frequently do we get it all wrong?
Of course there are some body language signs which are crystal clear, but if these results suggest anything it’s that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. It’s all too easy to internalise feelings and convince ourselves that there’s more to a situation than there really is, especially in a business environment. But at the end of the day there’s nothing quite like sitting back and waiting for further indications before jumping to conclusions.
What body language gets you in a muddle?

4 errors to avoid online

28 Aug

As virtual as it may be, online/virtual presence is just as important as real life. In the same way as the way people are now shopping, seeking entertainment and socialising with their friends online, so they are also turning their business enquiries to this forum.

With this in mind, the importance of delivering the same consistent, high quality service and demeanour on- as off-line has never been greater. Here are my top errors to avoid across your online platforms; 

  1. Ignorance is futile: I recently read that ignoring a comment on Twitter is the same as hanging up on a customer… but with the added element of hundreds of other customers knowing it. It’s true that not every comment warrants or indeed needs a response; but whenever possible, make sure to at least respond. The individual tweeting your company has made the effort to do so, failing to reply speaks volumes in terms of your efforts at customer relations.
  2. Disregarding contact information: You have a variety of information channels and streams for a reason; to drive traffic to your website. So why ignore them? Include links to all (relevant) social media streams on your contact us page to encourage engagement. Make it clear which method is best to be used for each query – for example, sorting by the types of questions asked – and ensure all emails provided enable clicking-through or highlighting. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to use two different browser emails to mentally remember the address you need!
  3. Being bland: They say a picture speaks a thousand words… so let it! By using images, videos and graphics you can easily spice up what may otherwise be a dull tweet/post/website page to the outside world. Give your message the support it deserves by embellishing it with exciting content.
  4. Saying the wrong thing: You wouldn’t send the same email out to everyone in your inbox, so don’t treat every communication channel in the same way either. What may be relevant for your website, might not be so for Facebook, and visa versa. Imagine every means of communication as a different programme on a TV channel – yes, the channel needs consistency to remain appealing, but each programme has a different story to tell, to a subtly different audience. Similarly, be mindful of when information is shared. Monitor social media channels and website data to see when your content is viewed the most, and share accordingly.

How to tweak your tweets

14 Aug

Contrary to what some may believe, PR is about more than just pushing copy out into the world. Where words may be our greatest tool, taking them in is just as important (if not more so) than pushing them out. 

Communications is a conversation – just as it takes two to tango, one can’t converse alone.

A great example of this in practice is Twitter. Often a vital channel for sharing news and ideas, it’s just as important a space for learning about others. Whether those others are publications, journalists, colleagues or competitors, it’s important to learn and consider what they find interesting, before you stand a change of making your own tweets interesting to them.

Just as we all have our favourite phrases and approaches to conversations, it can be all too easy to fall into habits when tweeting. Where personality and style are important, the problem when things become habitual is that you run the risk of sounding… well, boring.

Keep it fresh and investigate new ways to engage followers (and gain new ones) on a regular basis. Keeping an eye on what others in your field are doing is often a great place to start. As an extra help, here are a few ideas for shaking up your Twitter habits that you may not have previously considered: 

  • Facts: By their very nature, facts are direct and to the point – the perfect match for Twitter! Either gather together company data to search for unique facts, or share a point of interest from a relevant source (e.g. trade magazine) – don’t forget to credit the source in the tweet!
  • Survey: Listening at its very best. Ever wondered what your customers like best about your product? Or why they were first attracted to your service? Ask them – you never know what you may find!
  • Quote: A few inspirational words from your company’s CEO or Director can be just as rousing as a line from a philosopher. 
  • Hashtag: Start your own trend with a unique hashtag. Communicate the tag to your followers to generate a conversation, and involve colleagues to get it trending.

Digital language you forgot you’d forgotten

6 Aug

As the world of social media evolves, it seems more and more words are coming into existence every day. Just a handful of years ago, if you’d have said you were a regular ‘tweeter’, anyone would’ve thought you were passionate about birdwatching.

The thing about language is that is is constantly changing. But as we welcome all of these new words, initials and phrases into our lives, it can be all too easy to forget those we used to use. 

One great example is good old ‘TB’. Back in the days when texting was one of the most popular ways to instantly communicate, it seemed almost a requirement to instruct another person to text back (TB). This was the mobile phone equivalent of ‘I look forward to hearing your response’ – only far less subtle and way less patient. 

Then there’s LOL, the phrase we all used to denote when something was amusing or funny, but also what your Mother would mistakenly put at the end of the message to send you lots of love. ROFL. 

As the years go by, the word list keeps growing. But come the next decade, will planking be an act of the past? Will ‘#ff’ be something of a distant memory? 

I’d love to know your favourite modern words – both of the moment, and even of a few years ago. So go on, dust them off and share them with me!

How to host a successful webinar

30 Jul

There’s no denying that the way we communicate is changing. The need for straightforward sharing of information, coupled with the shift of our attentions towards online space, mean webinars are becoming a popular tool.

The beauty of webinars, I believe, is in their simplicity. You can attend and host sessions from your desk – an attractive prospect in the increasingly busy working day! But just because the practice is simple, doesn’t mean your approach should be.

As with most things, time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted. The more time you spend planning the session, the more targeted it is, and the more fruitful the results. 

I’ve put together a series of points to consider when considering your next webinar:

  1. Be attention-grabbing: You won’t be the first to put on a webinar, and you won’t be the last either! First impressions always count, so be sure to grab attendees attention from the get-go; be it with a showstopper fact, or triking infographic.
  2. Use the opportunity to engage: They’ve attended your webinar, now it’s best to make sure both parties get the most from it. Why not pepper the session with a few multiple choice questions? It’s a great way for you to gain some feedback for future sessions/outreach, but also stops attendees idly listening and instead encourages them to get involved.
  3. Choose your topic carefully: Webinars aren’t an excuse to lecture. You may believe a topic is really interesting, but when you think about your customers do you really believe it’ll be of interest to them? Why not make the topic more current by tying it in to a recent news story or event, or even frame it all around a burning question you feel they want answered? 
  4. Maximise awareness: If you’re putting the effort in, make sure you get the news out too! Share details of the webinar before and afterwards via social media, LinkedIn and your company website. Also bear in mind that some people who weren’t able to attend may still be interested in learning about the topic, so why not circulate brief notes after the session too. With any correspondence, always make sure the call to action is clear – do you want people to sign up to your enewsletter? Call with questions? Or register for the next webinar? Make the next step straightforward and simple.
  5. Practice: You wouldn’t give a business pitch without practising what you’re going to say, and this should be no different. Not only is it important to get your words right, but checking the technology itself works for users on other PCs and phones is crucial to avoid embarrassing slip ups. If you’re hosting a Q&A, it’s often a good idea to have colleagues ask you some practice questions so you can rehearse  what it’s like being put on the spot.

Of course, there are lots more tips where these came from. Colourful images on screen will help focus attention, and asking colleagues to sit in on the webinar also aids conversation. But following these core pieces of advice, are certainly a good starting point for those with limited resources.

Please let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments box below, or by tweeting me at wise_judy.

The Royal Baby: A brand new opportunity

23 Jul

It had to be done – a blog post about the newest arrival to the Royal family is a must given the media excitement sweeping the UK (and indeed the world) this week.

In an age where bad news seems to hog the headlines seemingly every day, whatever your feelings are on the monarchy, it is a welcome relief to see some good news in the press. Even if it is absolutely everywhere. 

A true sign of the change in times since Royal babies past, the news swept across Twitter and other social media sites in a matter of seconds – no longer was the easel at Buckingham Palace the bearer of all news. 

Just as with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement and wedding, this is again a time when brands and instructions across the country capitalise on the good news with their own campaigns. The brand new baby has presented the ideal branding opportunity for many organisations to boost sales during the long, hot summer. So to mark the occasion, I thought I’d share one particular campaign to have caught my eye. 

The Royal Mint is to celebrate the birth of the new Prince by gifting all babies born on the same day a ‘lucky’ silver penny. It’s likely that around 2,000 babies will receive the gifts, and parents can register each child on the institution’s Facebook site to ensure their little darling doesn’t miss out.

Amongst all of the frenzy for commemorative memorabilia, this campaign struck me as a suitably simple, humble celebration for, what I can see, a humble and grounded couple. With a nod to social media as the main channel for the project, the campaign is kept modern and fresh – the perfect mix of tradition with modern communications.

Have any particular Royal baby campaigns caught your attention? Let me know your thought by commenting below!




Summer survival: Why a little goes a long way

17 Jul

It’s finally here – the Great British summer. With it comes long days of endless sunshine, ice cream cravings and that all important sun tan. But much as I love summer, it’s not all plain sailing. Welcome the moaning about it simply being too hot, inability to read one’s screen properly when the sun seems to be on it all day, and sometimes questionable takes on summer-appropriate office wear. 

The truth is that in spite of it being the sunniest time of year, it doesn’t always bring out the sunniest side of personalities. We all get a little hot and bothered sometimes, and it seems to me like summer is one of the most important times to try to make everyone’s lives that little bit easier.

So rather than producing a link of what clothes to try on in the summer (avoiding the much debated ‘flip flips in the office’ debate), I thought I’d collect some thoughts on ways to make summer a breeze (in the corporate sense)…

  1. Detail holiday leave wherever possible: If you’ve a deadline coming up, make sure you know if someone you need for sign off will be unavailable. This way you can either prioritise what needs to be done or take steps to find out who else you should contact
  2. Layer up: Office temperature is as much a debate in summer conditions as it is on cold winter days. You may be sun-worshipper, but that doesn’t mean those around you are too. While you try to reach a compromise, make sure you come to work armed with layers of clothing so you’ll be comfortable air-con or no air-con
  3. Group hydration: Drinking water is hugely important when the weather’s warm – we all know this. Rather than all taking countless trips to the kitchen and back, why not keep a jug of water in the office? 
  4. Enjoy it!: We don’t get to bask in this glorious weather often, so when it arrives, make sure to make the most of it. Sunshine is a great mood booster, so try to get at least a 10 minute stroll in it during the work day. It’ll work wonders for your productivity!