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Communication Skills Articles

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Everything you need to help participants improve their communication skills, covering things like effective questioning, active listening and effective use of skills such as summary and clarification.

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10 Top Tips for Successful Networking

Article Overview:
In this article, Sandra Beale provides her top tips for effective networking.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Sandra Beale provides her top tips for effective networking.

Opening Words:
1. Recognise the importance of networking.
Ask any successful business person and they will tell you that above all else networking skills are absolutely vital to growing your business. Networking can increase your market share, help you gain new ideas, provide work and give new perspectives on life and business. Speaking to one person can potentially give you access to over 200 clients and suppliers.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to get the most from their networking opportunities.

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Active Listening

About this Article:
In this article Tony Atherton explains why good listening is such hard work and discusses the characteristics and techniques used in Active Listening.

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About this Article:
In this article Tony Atherton explains why good listening is such hard work and discusses the characteristics and techniques used in Active Listening.

Opening Words:
Good listening is hard work! Very often when we listen to someone we only half pay attention; talking is much more fun than listening so we start thinking about what we will say when it’s our turn. What we want is a conversation where we put in at least half of what is said, if not more. We are not looking for hard work.

The phrase active listening has crept into management jargon. It is a good phrase though because good listening is not the passive action it is sometimes thought to be. Good listening requires active participation by the listener.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who needs to listen. Especially useful for those in a coaching or sales role.

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Beyond Plain English

Article Overview:
In this thought provoking article, Martin Shovel questions the demand for plainer and plainer English and argues for the need for more evocative, poetic language in order to provoke a reaction in others.

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Article Overview:
In this thought provoking article, Martin Shovel questions the demand for plainer and plainer English and argues for the need for more evocative, poetic language in order to provoke a reaction in others.

Opening Words:
How would your colleagues react if you turned up at the office one day in your pyjamas? Chances are, you’d struggle to get them to take you seriously. And if you tried to carry on as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening, they’d probably begin to question your sanity.

What you wear and when you choose to wear it matters greatly because in most social situations nudity is not an option. In the world of work, for example, the suit is an emblem of neutrality, but you’d get a very odd reaction if you wore one to bed.

When we express ourselves in language, our thoughts are like naked bodies and our words are like the clothes that dress and display them to the world. How you say what you say is as important as what you say – in fact, the two are inseparable. Which is why I have a bit of a problem with the idea of 'Plain English'.

Useful Reading For:
A fascinating read for anyone looking to add impact to their presentations or get their communication noticed.

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Building Resilience in Your Career

Article Overview:
In this article, Simon North and Penny Gundry take a look at resilience to define what it is and identify how we can increase our resilience to enable us to learn, adapt and to move forwards given any situation.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Simon North and Penny Gundry take a look at resilience to define what it is and identify how we can increase our resilience to enable us to learn, adapt and to move forwards given any situation.

Opening Words:
We should ask two questions about resilience. Firstly, what is it? In most dictionaries, it is defined as the power to revert to original form after compressions. Secondly, is there really something to consider in this resilience issue? In the context of careers, there most certainly is.

In the UK, a PWC report for 2011 estimated that absenteeism cost to the economy was £32 billion. A similar cost was A$30Bn in Australia. Figures for the costs of absenteeism, insurance, costs of cover and lost productivity are huge in the US. In terms of days absent in the past three years, the figure in the UK is 6.5 days per employee a year and in Canada was 7.7 days.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone.

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Congruence

Article Overview:
Fiona Reed says that if she were allowed to leave three messages as her legacy to the world, one of them would be that she would love it if we were all striving to be congruent. In this article, Fiona explains why she considers congruence (which is commonly associated with counselling and assertiveness training) to be so important.

About

Article Overview:
Fiona Reed says that if she were allowed to leave three messages as her legacy to the world, one of them would be that she would love it if we were all striving to be congruent. In this article, Fiona explains why she considers congruence (which is commonly associated with counselling and assertiveness training) to be so important.

Opening Words:
If I were given three messages to leave as my legacy to the world, one of them would be that I would love it if we were all striving to be congruent.

Congruence is a term familiar in the world of counselling which, when offered along with empathy and a positive regard for the client, it is argued, will create the prime conditions for personal development.

So what is it? It's sometimes put that congruence is 'being the same on the outside as you are on the inside', that is a rare form of honesty.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone. Especially those looking at counselling skills or assertiveness.

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Drawing People In

Article Overview:
This is a great article from Martin Shovel, that explains why pictures are so important in communication, and how that knowledge can help the trainer.

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Article Overview:
This is a great article from Martin Shovel, that explains why pictures are so important in communication, and how that knowledge can help the trainer.

Opening Words:
Imagine this nightmare scenario… You're caught short in a foreign city, many miles from home. You don't speak the lingo and they don't speak yours. You're desperate to find the nearest loo. What do you do?

A recent mobile phone TV ad came up with an elegant solution. Before going on your trip, you load pictures of everything you might need onto your mobile camera phone. So now when you feel the urge, relief is at hand. All you have to do is flash a picture of a toilet at a passer-by.

In a situation like this pictures leave words standing – they are the ultimate lingua franca because they resemble the things they represent. In some circumstances a picture can even fool us into believing it is the thing itself. Think of one of those hyper-realistic trompe l'oeil paintings. You know it's only a picture but suddenly a painting of a bowl of fruit makes your mouth water and you're tempted to reach out for a non-existent strawberry. The brushwork looks for all the world like a real strawberry's blood brother but turns out to be a stranger – a case of mistaken identity.

Useful Reading For:
All trainers.

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Email Etiquette

Article Overview:
This handy article from Bryan Edwards provides a simple list of tips and recommendations for sending and reading emails.

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Article Overview:
This handy article from Bryan Edwards provides a simple list of tips and recommendations for sending and reading emails.

Opening Words:
When sending:
1) In character, email is somewhere between an informal telephone call and a formal letter, but an email can be easily kept as a permanent record – a phone call is more difficult. Avoid slang, careless writing, thoughtless comments, too many dots or exclamation marks.
2) Consider the recipient – who really needs to know? Is it ‘nice to know’ or ‘essential to their job to know’?
3) Talk to your boss about the types of information he/she needs to be copied in on.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone that sends or receives email - that's everyone then! :-)

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Falling on Deaf Ears

Article Overview:
In this excellent article, Sheila Williams looks at the importance of the recipients willingness to listen for feedback to be effective.

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Article Overview:
In this excellent article, Sheila Williams looks at the importance of the recipients willingness to listen for feedback to be effective.

Opening Words:
Feedback offers us an opportunity to gain insight into how others perceive and experience us and yet, on occasions we resolutely refuse to hear it. This can happen when we have a knee-jerk response to something that hurts us. Yet, given time, we may bring ourselves to consider the view put forward. However, outright refusal to listen and reflect on feedback also occurs when it contradicts or is not consistent with strongly held beliefs we hold about ourselves, about others or about our view of the world.

This was the case for Richard who was unsuccessful in his application to go on his organisation’s leadership development programme. After the selection process, he was given feedback that suggested he needed to focus on developing his communication and inter-personal skills. A specific comment related to the dismissive way he dealt with ideas and contributions from colleagues. When talking this through with him he was quite scornful about the feedback, seeing it as carping criticism. He felt that his organisation did not want “charismatic leaders” as he considered himself to be.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone - whether giving or receiving feedback.

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Feel the Fear and Draw it Anyway!

Article Overview:
In this article Martin Shovel looks at the benefits of being able to use pictures during training in order to get the point across, and asks why trainers don't use this skill more often.

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Article Overview:
In this article Martin Shovel looks at the benefits of being able to use pictures during training in order to get the point across, and asks why trainers don't use this skill more often.

Opening Words:
It's well known that public speaking is top of the 'greatest fears' pops. Incredibly, most people would literally rather die than stand up and talk to an audience.

My experience of teaching drawing has revealed another little-recognised but widespread terror capable of reducing its victims to a blubbering jelly within seconds – the fear of drawing, especially in public.

But trainers speak in public for a living – surely, pens and flipcharts don't faze them? Wrong! Even the most confident trainers blanch and gulp loudly when invited to perform with a pen.

Useful Reading For:
All trainers, especially those who use or are thinking about using images in their training.

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How Am I Doing?

Article Overview:
This is an excellent article from Ian Clarke - the first of three on feedback - that considers the need to think about how you are going to ask for, and gain meaningful feedback.

About

Article Overview:
This is an excellent article from Ian Clarke - the first of three on feedback - that considers the need to think about how you are going to ask for, and gain meaningful feedback.

Opening Words:
This is the first of three articles about working with feedback. The second article is entitled “If Feedback is so valuable why do we keep it to ourselves?”. The third article is entitled “Who do you think you are?”.

The following story illustrates that getting useful feedback needs a little more thought than just asking, “How am I doing?”

It was the first working day of the new month and Matt Turner realised it was his monthly review meeting with his boss, Jenny Machin, that afternoon. Matt prided himself on being well prepared for these meetings so he checked his figures for the previous month, his year to date achievements, his plans for the coming month, his staff issues and achievements and his forecast for the remainder of the year.

Useful Reading For:
Managers in particular, but anyone who wants to develop their ability to obtain valuable and meaningful feedback from others, or anyone wishing to develop a culture of feedback and coaching.

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How Important are Business Writing Skills?

Article Overview:
In this article, Rod Webb considers the importance of writing skills in today's business world. The article goes on to explain why business writing skills are so important, and what trainers need to consider when developing their colleagues' writing skills.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Rod Webb considers the importance of writing skills in today's business world. The article goes on to explain why business writing skills are so important, and what trainers need to consider when developing their colleagues' writing skills.

Opening Words:
Many of us brought up in the UK in the seventies and eighties received little formal training in the use of English language. In those ‘enlightened’ days the emphasis was placed less on the differences between nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, and more on individuals’ abilities to get their ideas down on paper. Content became more important than the quality of the writing. Ironically, the first time many were seriously exposed to grammar, was when they tried to learn a foreign language.

As someone who spends much of his time training individuals to release their creative potential, and bemoaning the fact that creativity is not properly developed as a skill, you might think I’d be an advocate of a relaxed attitude towards English grammar, and writing skills in general. Experience has taught me however, that a basic understanding of grammar, and an ability to write effectively, are essential business skills.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone.

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How to Become a Charismatic Speaker

Article Overview
This is another great article from Martin Shovel, the author looks at the common mistakes people make when speaking, and the value of using pictures and imagery to encourage the audience to 'feel' the message.

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Article Overview
This is another great article from Martin Shovel, the author looks at the common mistakes people make when speaking, and the value of using pictures and imagery to encourage the audience to 'feel' the message.

Opening Words:
In extreme cases – I'm thinking of Gerald Ratner’s infamous "total crap" speech – it has been known for a Chief Executive to open his mouth and bring his company crashing to its knees. Fortunately, catastrophes on this scale are rare. Far more common, however, is the plethora of boring presentations and tedious speeches that drain an organisation of its lifeblood – good communication.

For instance, last week I was invited to a high profile product launch at a swanky London venue. As the Managing Director rose to his feet to say a few words before introducing a well-known guest speaker, I noticed that the people in the audience who worked for him visibly winced. He got off to a bad start by telling us all the things he wasn’t going to do in his speech...

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to learn how to make their presentations more engaging and impactful.

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Lifting the Lid on Obama

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel looks at the moment that Barack Obama seemed to stumble over his words and asks if it's right to expect great speeches to be spontaneous.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel looks at the moment that Barack Obama seemed to stumble over his words and asks if it's right to expect great speeches to be spontaneous.

Opening Words:
Something shocking happened to Barack Obama on Thursday 5th June, 2008. He was addressing a meeting of the local community in Bristol, Virginia, when in this midst of his usual rhetorical flow, the wheels of his speech suddenly flew off and he ground to an inarticulate halt.

Here's a transcript of Obama's slip up: "Everybody knows that it makes no sense... that you send a kid to the emergency room for a treatable illness like asthma, they end up taking up a hospital bed, it costs... when... if you... they just gave... you gave up a hospital bed, it costs... when... if you... they just gave... you gave 'em treatment early and they got... some treatment... and... er... a breathalyzer... or an inhalator... not a breathalyzer... (audience laughter)... I haven't had much sleep in the last forty-eight hours or so..."

What had gone wrong? Had lack of sleep really caused Obama's muse to nod off momentarily? Apparently not, what had happened was that his autocue had broken down for a couple of minutes."

Useful Reading For:
Anyone interested in developing their presentation skills and anyone, in particular who feels overawed by great speakers, who like us need good back up systems - like practice or, in this case, an autocue that works.

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Memories Are Made Of This

Article Overview:
This is another excellent article from Martin Shovel in which he explores what makes things memorable. He compares two stories reported by the BBC about Sudan and asks why we remember one so clearly and not the other.

About

Article Overview:
This is another excellent article from Martin Shovel in which he explores what makes things memorable. He compares two stories reported by the BBC about Sudan and asks why we remember one so clearly and not the other.

Opening Words:
Why do we remember some things effortlessly and yet struggle desperately to remember others? It’s as if some experiences are covered in Velcro, while the rest are coated in Teflon. What makes this even more frustrating is that many of the most important things we have to remember are resolutely non-stick. Can an understanding of these differences help us make what we say – and write – more sticky?

One of the stickiest and most widely read internet news stories of 2006 came out of Sudan. It instantly caught the public’s imagination when it was first reported on the BBC News website. Even today, some two years later, it’s still being picked up by various web forums and being emailed across the world.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to make sure their communication has impact and is remembered.

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Move Closer

Article Overview:
In this article Martin Shovel suggests that showing our own vulnerability in the classroom may be no bad thing - an all-knowing, flawless trainer may be just the opposite of what a diffident learner needs.

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Article Overview:
In this article Martin Shovel suggests that showing our own vulnerability in the classroom may be no bad thing - an all-knowing, flawless trainer may be just the opposite of what a diffident learner needs.

Opening Words:
Brains can be shy, emotional creatures when it comes to learning. If they don't feel secure, they'll stay curled up inside the safety of their skulls, spurning the advances of the outside world. Successful learning is not just about managing information or knowledge, it's also about dealing with feelings – our feelings and the feelings of those we work with in the training room, lecture theatre or classroom.

Openness to learning is about sharing vulnerability. Some people feel almost naked when they go into an unfamiliar learning situation and are often convinced that they are the only ones in the group protecting their dignity with little more than a fig leaf. An all-knowing, flawless trainer, or teacher, might just be the opposite of what the diffident learner needs.

Useful Reading For:
All trainers.

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New Light On PowerPoint

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel considers why "PowerPoint Presentations that Changed the World" ranks so highly on the list of books that will never be written.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel considers why "PowerPoint Presentations that Changed the World" ranks so highly on the list of books that will never be written.

Opening Words:
Why does PowerPoint Presentations that Changed the World rank so high on the list of books that will never be written? Perhaps the clue is in the title. PowerPoint has been with us for over 20 years but during that time it has gained more of a reputation for sending the world to sleep than changing it.

Great orators, past and present, have managed to weave their magic with words alone. Would Nelson Mandela’s statement at the opening of his trial have been more powerful, or Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech more moving if they’d been delivered as PowerPoint presentations?

Useful Reading For:
All trainers and coaches who use Powerpoint.

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Obama's Magic

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel considers Barrack Obama's success as an orator and the impact they had in the run up to his election.

About

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel considers Barrack Obama's success as an orator and the impact they had in the run up to his election.

Opening Words:
There is one supreme gift that marks out truly great speakers from the rest: it’s an unerring ability to make us care about what they’re saying, whatever the topic. Up to now, Barack Obama’s greatest achievement has been to make the people of America care about politics. Armed only with words, he has miraculously transformed the vast desert of political disaffection into a fertile plain where the litter of broken dreams has been replaced by seeds of hope.

Obama’s words have cast their spell in a series of stirring campaign speeches; speeches that have excited and inspired people around the globe. But what is it that makes these speeches so special? And is it possible to begin to understand how they work their magic?

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to improve their presentation skills or their ability to influence others through words.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes...

Article Overview:
In this interesting article, Martin Shovel looks at the nature of language and the way we categorise things. He shows why basic level words and concepts are so important when trying to communicate effectively.

About

Article Overview:
In this interesting article, Martin Shovel looks at the nature of language and the way we categorise things. He shows why basic level words and concepts are so important when trying to communicate effectively.

Opening Words:
In the Marx Brothers’ film, Duck Soup, there’s a scene in which Rufus T. Firefly (played by Groucho Marx) is handed a Treasury Department report while attending his first-ever Cabinet meeting as leader of the fictional country of Freedonia.

When asked if he finds the report clear, Firefly replies, “Clear? Huh! Why a four-year-old child could understand this report.” He then turns to his secretary and instructs him to “run out and find me a four-year-old child. I can’t make head nor tail out of it.”

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to be able to develop their ability to communicate powerfully through presentations or writing.

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Performance Coaching and Training in the Workplace

Article Overview:
This article from carol Wilson looks at:

1) What is coaching?
2) What coaching does.
3) What coaching managers do.
4) Where did coaching come from?
5) What is a coaching culture?

About

Article Overview:
This article from carol Wilson looks at:

1) What is coaching?
2) What coaching does.
3) What coaching managers do.
4) Where did coaching come from?
5) What is a coaching culture?

Opening Words:
A sea of confusion surrounds the term ‘coaching’ in business today. The expression has not even made its way into dictionaries yet, where ‘coach’ is defined simply as ‘tutor’ and yet there is nothing new about the practice other than its name. Socrates was the earliest identified exponent, when he wrote:

“I cannot teach anybody anything – I can only make them think.”

This quote relates to the underlying principle of coaching, termed self-directed learning, sometimes described as self-managed learning.

Coaching helps people to communicate more clearly and in a way that is simply more comfortable. In this modern world of change – the seemingly constant buying, selling and merging of global corporations – and virtuality – teams working together while spread over different parts of the country or indeed the world – communication can be the oil in the wheels or the rust that stops them from turning.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone interested in developing their understanding of performance coaching or wishing to implement a coaching culture within their organisation.

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Picture This

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel, looks at the value of using pictures in coaching. He argues that using pictures, an abstract word such as 'leadership' can be transformed into something palpable and rich.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel, looks at the value of using pictures in coaching. He argues that using pictures, an abstract word such as 'leadership' can be transformed into something palpable and rich.

Opening Words:
Imagine being asked to conduct a coaching session in total silence. Would it be possible to make it meaningful, or would it feel as pointless as listening to a switched off radio?

Conventionally, words are the medium that support the coaching experience and make it possible. To most of us, the idea of a silent coaching session is about as useful as a waterless swimming pool.

Now let's imagine the same situation again, but this time you're given pencils and paper and told that you and your client can communicate using drawing, as long as you both agree not to supplement your drawings with written words. A film with no soundtrack is a much more familiar, and attractive, proposition than a soundless radio. /p>

Useful Reading For:
All trainers and coaches.

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Playing To Your Personal Strengths

Article Overview:
This interesting article from Sheila Williams, looks at personal conflict in the workplace and looks at how our preferred behaviours can bring us into conflict with others who have different preferences.

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Article Overview:
This interesting article from Sheila Williams, looks at personal conflict in the workplace and looks at how our preferred behaviours can bring us into conflict with others who have different preferences.

Opening Words:
In a week of battling against the winter elements I have also been exploring conflict of a different nature – person to person. The type of interpersonal conflict that can for no apparent reason (at least to the warring parties), spring up in the workplace. Part of this has led to an exploration of how we deploy our personal strengths and whether over-use of these, in certain circumstances, can tip them over into becoming weaknesses.

We develop behaviours that, when used to good effect, over time, become our preferred way of doing things. We consider them as our personal strengths. However, the more we use them and the more success we have with their use then the more we can slip into auto-pilot mode, with an expectation that their use will always produce success. In this way, we sometimes overlook the fact that using a particular personal strength may be inappropriate to the context or situation in which we find ourselves.

Useful Reading For:
Line managers and trainers.

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Speed Reading

Article Overview:
This article by Clare Forrest, a reviewer and columnist for the Training Journal, considers the benefits of speed reading, and explains the techniques for saving time and improving comprehension. It also provides an opportunity for readers to test their own reading speed.

About

Article Overview:
This article by Clare Forrest, a reviewer and columnist for the Training Journal, considers the benefits of speed reading, and explains the techniques for saving time and improving comprehension. It also provides an opportunity for readers to test their own reading speed.

Opening Words:
Reading is much more than just recognising words. It is a complex process that enables us to identify, assimilate, integrate and absorb the material we are reading. If you want to become a faster reader then you need to be prepared to practise frequently until you have gained the skill. Speed reading is not a gimmick. It is a proven technique and it works.

Almost anyone - and that includes most dyslexics - can double their speed of reading and at the same time improve their comprehension. Reading is about understanding but it is not about retention, though there is no doubt that learning to speed read also improves retention - more of this later. Slow readers read less, retain less and understand less.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to know more about speed reading.

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Telling Tales

Article Overview:
In this interesting article, Martin Shovel compares the value of stories and arguments and explains why he believes both are important for persuasion.

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Article Overview:
In this interesting article, Martin Shovel compares the value of stories and arguments and explains why he believes both are important for persuasion.

Opening Words:
Can the use of a story in a serious presentation ever be justified as anything more than ornamental – a sprinkle of sugar to help the pill go down?

We’re brought up to believe that stories and arguments are two fundamentally different ways of thinking and making sense of the world. On the one hand, small children are soothed to sleep with bedtime stories, not arguments. On the other, a board of directors is persuaded to adopt a new strategic objective by a series of rigorous arguments, not stories.

Of course, stories and arguments are different forms of discourse, but experiencing them in action recently at a conference for senior health service managers convinced me that both have a critical role to play in high-level thinking and communication.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to develop their influence and persuasion skills, and particularly those interested in making their presentations more impactful.

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The Joke's On You

Article Overview:
Another interesting article helping readers to improve their presentation skills from Martin Shovel. In this article, Martin looks at the role of jokes in presentations or speeches and considers when they are valid and when they are an unnecessary risk.

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Article Overview:
Another interesting article helping readers to improve their presentation skills from Martin Shovel. In this article, Martin looks at the role of jokes in presentations or speeches and considers when they are valid and when they are an unnecessary risk.

Opening Words:
With fifteen minutes to go before delivering a speech, Tony Blair would often begin a desperate last-minute search for jokes he could use in it. One of his speechwriters, Philip Collins, said it was as though Blair thought that jokes come entirely disembodied from the process of writing.

We all know that telling jokes is a risky business at the best of times, but Collins’ observation suggests there may be deeper reasons for thinking twice before using them in a speech or presentation. Collins' remark reminds us that, if a speech is to work as a coherent whole, its various elements – arguments, stories, images, metaphors, etc. – need to evolve organically from the process of writing it. But adding a last-minute joke to a well-crafted speech involves taking an entirely unnecessary risk – it is rather like going to a fine restaurant and sprinkling your own mix of seasoning onto the great chef's signature dish.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to develop their presentation, or public speaking skills.

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This Metaphor Ain't Dead, It's Just Restin'

Article Overview:
In this article Martin Shovel discusses the use of the metaphor in everyday language and questions the condemnation of these phrases by the Plain English Campaign.

About

Article Overview:
In this article Martin Shovel discusses the use of the metaphor in everyday language and questions the condemnation of these phrases by the Plain English Campaign.

Opening Words:
Judging from a list of the 'most annoying cliches' in the English language compiled by the Plain English Campaign - one of the greatest examples of modern oratory might never have seen the light of day, if they'd had anything to do with it.

For the most part their 'most annoying cliches' list is unexceptionable. It contains many of the usual linguistic suspects: words that are misunderstood and misused; words and phrases that are used as fillers to bulk up the vacuous and trivial - like literally and the fact of the matter is; euphemisms - like to be perfectly honest and I hear what you're saying; professional jargon that has spilled over into everyday use - like the economist's value-added; slang expressions that have been flogged to death - like awesome and 24/7; and confusing slang - like diamond geezer (confusing because in US English geezer means an old person, especially an eccentric old man).

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who has to compile letters/emails or communicate an idea in writing.

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Tools of the Trade

Article Overview:
This article was first published in Training Journal in September 2007. In it, Carol Wilson considers the need for coaches to add new tools to their toolbox and gives an overview of models like Situational Leadership and Myers Briggs.

About

Article Overview:
This article was first published in Training Journal in September 2007. In it, Carol Wilson considers the need for coaches to add new tools to their toolbox and gives an overview of models like Situational Leadership and Myers Briggs.

Opening Words:
Coaching is fundamentally a simple process: A way of being and communicating that is aided by a small number of guidelines and rules. It is perfectly possible, and indeed quite common, to deliver a session which can literally change the course of someone’s life or business using no more than the foundation coaching skills of listening, questioning and clarifying, supported by structured coaching models like GROW and EXACT for goal setting.

After mastering the basics, coaches usually start to discover other tools, which may be nearer or further away from pure coaching but which can be useful when applied in conjunction with it.

How this often happens is that new coaches come up against various challenges in their first few months of sessions, so they research, read or talk to other coaches and hear of methods and techniques which have helped others in the same position. Extra training seems called for but it is not cheap, and few of us have an abundance of time these days to do courses, never mind practise to become proficient, in which case the new learning will soon be all forgotten. So how do we decide which of the many tools available we should choose to follow up?

Useful Reading For:
Coaches and anyone wishing to develop their coaching skills further.

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Video Killed the Radio Star - Or Did It?

Article Overview:
In this article, Jackie Jarvis considers the impact of the internet on the traditional sales role. She argues that just as video didn't replace the radio star, there is still very much a need for personal contact in the sales process. But she does explain why sales people need to adapt to ensure their survival in a changing world.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Jackie Jarvis considers the impact of the internet on the traditional sales role. She argues that just as video didn't replace the radio star, there is still very much a need for personal contact in the sales process. But she does explain why sales people need to adapt to ensure their survival in a changing world.

Opening Words:
In the 1980's we believed that the radio would fall by the way-side as emerging video technology opened our eyes to new forms of entertainment. In the 1990's the debate concerned the redundancy of paper when the Internet allowed documents to be viewed online and transported from one side of the world to the other with one click. Now, in the new Millennium, the latest debate is nearing its final stages: e-business versus people-business.

But video did not kill the radio star. Instead, radio producers had to adapt what they offered; and find out what it was that they did best. Radio didn't die; it transformed.

Useful Reading For:
Anyone involved in sales.

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Virtual Communication in Business

Article Overview:
In this short, and highly practical article, Clare Forrest provides ten tips for effective communication by email, phone and fax.

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Article Overview:
In this short, and highly practical article, Clare Forrest provides ten tips for effective communication by email, phone and fax.

Opening Words:
1. In the first line of a first-time e-mail or fax, say who you are before you tell them what you want.

2. Jargon and abbreviations don't travel well, virtually. For example, do you know how many interpretations there are of SME? Try http://www.acronymfinder.com to find out.

3. Rather than trying to impress with long words - and maybe using them wrongly - read widely and build up your vocabulary and your knowledge of punctuation. Remember that if you communicate internationally the receiver may well have a very clear grasp of the English language - and they will not be impressed by your errors. You only get one chance to make a first impression with your writing

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who has to communicate via email, phone and fax.

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What Coaching Is and How It Works

Article Overview
In this article Carol Wilson explains the essential coaching skills and the five levels of listening. This is a really good introduction to performance coaching from a well-respected author.

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Article Overview
In this article Carol Wilson explains the essential coaching skills and the five levels of listening. This is a really good introduction to performance coaching from a well-respected author.

Opening Words:
Although the use of the term ‘performance coaching’ is a relatively new development over the last 20 years, there is nothing new about the skills themselves and they can be identified as far back as in the writings of Socrates, who said, “I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think”.

Performance coaching (which expression includes life, career, fitness, business, executive, finance and any other category of coaching in the modern sense of the word) is about communicating in a way that enhances understanding, clarity, awareness, responsibility, self-belief and productive relationships.

The essential coaching skills are:
• Active listening.
• Questions that enhance self-directed learning.
• Clarifying.
• Goal setting.
• Shifting perspective.
• Holding the coachee accountable.
• Effective feedback.
• Creating trust and empathy....

Useful Reading For:
Anyone who wants to learn about using performance coaching in a work environment for the first time.

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Word Power

Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel looks at the power of Words and how they can influence, using examples from a recent speech by Barack Obama to illustrate his point.

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Article Overview:
In this article, Martin Shovel looks at the power of Words and how they can influence, using examples from a recent speech by Barack Obama to illustrate his point.

Opening Words:
"Words are sparks of light that create an illuminated space inside our heads we call ‘consciousness’. They make it possible for us to move beyond simply experiencing things, to consciously thinking about them and then being able to share our thoughts about them with others, if we want to.

But words also wield their power in the darkness too. In the shadows, beyond the light of conscious awareness, they are able to influence us without our knowing what they are getting up to."

Useful Reading For:
Anyone interested in delivering a message persuasively and/or developing their presentation skills further.

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Words That Catch Fire

Article Overview:
In another fascinating article, Martin Shovel considers the importance of imagery in language, using Martin Luther King's famous 'I have a dream' speech' to illustrate his point.

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Article Overview:
In another fascinating article, Martin Shovel considers the importance of imagery in language, using Martin Luther King's famous 'I have a dream' speech' to illustrate his point.

Opening Words:
The words of a skilled speaker or writer create light in the minds of others. We instantly ‘see’ what they mean, we are enlightened. Their words grab our attention by stimulating our imaginations and touching our hearts. How is it that some people can do this while others leave us stumbling about in the dark wondering what they’re talking about?

The other day I listened to Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech and immediately fell under its spell. His language is full of imagery. His words spring into life as a series of tableaux that tell a compelling story about the African-Americans’ struggle for social equality. It’s clear that King recognises the persuasive power of imagery.

Useful Reading For:
Everyone.

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