New year, new skills: public speaking
The thought of public speaking usually conjures up one of two things for professionals: terror or acceptance. It rarely seems to be something anyone looks forward to or enjoys unless you’re blessed with natural stage presence, witty repartee, and profound confidence.If you’re looking for a new challenge, learning how to overcome your fears and/or make improvements to your overall presentation style could be one of the best things you do for yourself this year. Not only can it be a huge benefit in your career, but it can also help with life in general – enabling you to speak with confidence and eloquence in situations that may be challenging.Soft skills such as public speaking are highly sought after – and are vital in leadership roles. With dedication and practice, it’s possible for anxious or shy people to finesse their presentation skills and learn how to deliver to any audience. William Hagerup, President of the 104 London Debaters, has been involved with Toastmasters for more than 10 years. He took up public speaking initially for his work which led to it becoming a hobby and passion. At the London club, he mentors people in the art of debate – an exciting challenge for those who have already mastered the art of public speaking.Q: How transformative can public speaking skills be in the workplace?A:In the workplace, the ability to speak confidently and present in a convincing way can be powerful.Good communication skills can encourage people to get on board with your ideas, regardless of your role. For example, speaking well can make all the difference if you need to sell a product or your own skills in a job interview.Q: Ahead of a presentation, aside from testing any equipment, what key things should the individual do to help their confidence?A:It’s very important to understand what makes your presentation successful, to help you gain confidence."As part of your rehearsal, it’s worth recording your presentation. Watching yourself can be painful, but it’s a useful exercise to help you spot habits or ticks."William HagerupClub President of Toastmasters' 104 London Debaters clubAs part of your rehearsal, it’s worth recording your presentation. Watching yourself can be painful, but it’s a useful exercise to help you spot habits or ticks – I used to have a tendency to move my head too much. If you’re far away from the audience people may not notice these things, but if you’re projected on a big screen, or in an online meeting, the camera magnifies you which can be very distracting for the audience.It’s also useful to get feedback from a trusted mentor, friend, or colleague who is more experienced, and who can give you some honest feedback.Q: Introverts and extroverts – can they master public speaking in the same way?A: It’s often easier for extroverts to stand up in front of people, but it’s okay to have different presentation styles if you don’t have that confidence. The important thing is to find your voice and a way that you can be yourself in front of people without being too nervous, finding peace in being just the way you are.Extroverts, like me, have one disadvantage in that we can sometimes have an unsubstantiated self-confidence which can lead to a lack of focus, and perhaps not communicating in the best way.The introvert tends to be much more careful with their preparation, making sure they have everything clear for the audience, with their PowerPoint and with what they say. I’ve often seen examples of this with the nervous, wobbly-voiced introvert outshining the confident extrovert whose presentation is rushed or disjointed.Q: Handling nerves – what to do when your throat goes dry before you’ve said a word?A: If your nerves are debilitating so that you just can’t deliver, you should practise well in advance.I’ve found breathing slowly and deeply really helps just before you start, and then look away from the audience. Perhaps the introduction is being given before you speak and your heart is pounding – use the moment to look out of the window to distract yourself, just don’t look at the audience.Once you take the podium and you're in the focus, look over their heads and scan back and forth, so you only pretend to look at them – fake it till you make it.Gradually your confidence will build because you’ve realised the sky didn’t fall down and no one is throwing things at you. But still don't look at the audience because sometimes if you’re nervous and start looking at people’s faces for reassurance, it can put you off your stride, especially if they’re not very receptive. Only when your nerves are under control should you start to make eye contact, if you wish.Q: Delivery – can you share any tips for keeping to a designated time slot?A: Preparation again is the key. Run through it a few times and use a timer.A good rule of thumb is to use about 100 words a minute, which is a fairly slow speaking pace but a good one to help the audience follow you. Also, it gives a bit of leeway so that if you do improvise and add things that come to mind as you’re speaking, you have enough space to do that."You should never read from your PowerPoint slides or from a script as it’s really boring. Only refer to them for key points, graphs or pictures that will help engage the audience."William HagerupClub President of Toastmasters' 104 London Debaters clubYou should never read from your PowerPoint slides or from a script as it’s really boring. Only refer to them for key points, graphs or pictures that will help engage the audience and jog your memory if you need it. If you run through that a few times with a timer, you can give a fluent presentation without speaking too fast.If you do need notes to hand, print them large enough that you don’t have to peer at the paper as you’re speaking. You can just have them as a reminder. Index cards are a good idea because you can hold them without fumbling with a big piece of paper, which can act as a barrier between you and the audience. If you are inexperienced or very nervous, write down the main points.Q: When the tech goes wrong – how should you regain composure when the PowerPoint fails?A:It’s good to prepare a joke in advance. If you’re able to say something funny when something goes wrong, it takes the edge off the situation. Perhaps just have an ‘emergency’ question ready to put to the audience or ask if they have any questions.If your presentation depends on you showing some graphs or papers, you might have some print-outs ready to share rather than waiting for something to be fixed, which may take a long time.I think it’s generally better not to rely too much on just one technology. Always think of backups. Q: Presenting online – what common pitfalls are there to avoid?A:The basics are having good light so your face is bright. The sound is very important and should be tested in advance, perhaps with a friend. It might be worth investing in a slightly better microphone which can make a big difference. And then I’d say the position of the camera is important. You don’t want it too far up so that people are looking down at you, and not too far down, because then it looks like you’re standing over them like a strict headmaster.Speakers sometimes get concerned that they need to look at the various screens and look at people’s faces, but audience members often turn off their cameras. I just ignore that a little bit and write my keywords on a document placed on the screen underneath where my camera is, so I’m looking in the direction of the camera. It's not noticeable to the audience because my eyes are in that direction, so they think I'm looking at them. So that’s quite a nice way of doing it and once I finish, I can just take the notes away and more fully engage with people. I also often ask if it’s possible for everyone to turn on their cameras because it’s a bit disconcerting talking to a blank screen or staring at their avatars. And it’s easier for them to zone out and start doing other things and not really pay attention when their cameras are off.Q: Q&A time – what if you don’t know the answer?A:I’m quite strict on this so I would say you should’ve done your homework better. I don’t think one should show up for a presentation if you haven't researched your subject thoroughly. There’s no real excuse for lack of preparation – you’re either showing disrespect for your audience or complete ineptitude if you’re not ready to answer any relevant question.Of course, if it’s not relevant, it’s perfectly fair to say, “I'm sorry, I don’t think that's relevant. It’s not something that is specifically to do with what I said, so I’m not going to be able to answer that one now, but we can talk about it perhaps afterwards or in a different setting”.If something comes up unexpectedly that you ought to have researched, you’re going to have to be honest and say you haven’t explored that in-depth but will be happy to go back to them with an answer through the contact details of the meeting organiser.Looking for a new challenge in 2024? Get in touch with one of our expert consultants today.
The evolution of the CIO: an evolving role
Technology has become ingrained in almost every part of business life – no matter the industry or sector.As employers have learned to survive in unstable market conditions, they’ve come to realise the value of having an innovative and business-focused chief information officer (CIO).With technology advancing at an unprecedented pace, the traditional responsibilities of the CIO have expanded, with their role becoming increasingly important to the success of an organisation. In today’s business world, CIOs are required to not only manage IT infrastructure and systems, but also to drive forward and align technology initiatives with overarching business goals.The changing roleHistorically, the CIO's primary focus has been on overseeing the implementation and maintenance of technology systems within an organisation. However, as businesses have become more reliant on technology for their operations and growth, the role has evolved to encompass a broader set of responsibilities.Today, CIOs are expected to be strategic business partners who are there to help enhance operational efficiency and leverage technology to create competitive advantages – maximising the return on the company’s investment in technology. In other words, it’s now essential for a CIO to focus not only on cost savings, but on using technology to add value and increase revenue for the business.CIOs are now required to collaborate closely with other c-suite executives to align technology initiatives with overall business objectives, identify opportunities for digital transformation, and mitigate potential risks associated with technology adoption. It’s an exciting era, as CIOs now have the chance to be transformational leaders who can harness technological advancements and data to consolidate their tech stacks and gain efficiency.Challenges in staying up to dateStaying current with the latest technological developments can be a considerable challenge. The rapid pace of innovation, coupled with the proliferation of widespread AI technologies, presents a daunting task for CIOs looking to stay informed and ready to address the potential impact these technologies can have on their organisation.According to digital adoption platform, Userlane, and leading consultancy, PwC, almost two thirds of CIOs surveyed were concerned that the state of the economy will affect their digital transformation plans. But at the same time, 62% plan to deepen their investment in technology, illustrating just how important technology integration now is at leadership level.One of the biggest challenges is offering digital services that are safe and secure for the consumer, which makes cybersecurity a number one priority for the majority of CIOs; their responsibility is to protect the systems and data that shareholders and stakeholders entrust them with.As cyber threats become more sophisticated, CIOs must continually evaluate and implement robust security measures to safeguard their organisations' data and infrastructure.Understanding the capabilities of AIGiven the uptake in generative AI across the workplace, it’s no surprise that AI is expected to shape the future of business. Large language models (LLMs) will continue to play a part in generating documentation on business processes, designing training programmes, and writing and rewriting code.AI has been hotly anticipated by technology departments for a while, but has only recently reached a point where its potential benefits, capabilities, and enhancements, have become clear. CIOs are being asked to learn what AI is capable of and how it can be harnessed to competitive or strategic advantage across the business – similar to the adoption of any other technology.More recently, generative AI is offering an entry point for companies looking to spearhead investment decisions. Rather than manually researching information, CIOs have the ability to use generative AI to summarise markets, telling them where to look and where to harness department energy.Managing business needsThis transformation now sees CIOs juggling evolving responsibilities, to shape their departments. This requires a thorough understanding of their organisation's strategic objectives – helped by their c-suite role – as well as the ability to identify and prioritise technology initiatives that will best support those objectives.As the role grows, it’s important for CIOs to develop and maintain strong relationships with other business leaders and departments, gaining insights into their challenges and opportunities, and leveraging technology to address them. As a company grows, so does the amount of data, which makes having an innovative leader and strong IT department even more essential.We’re seeing CIOs steering the ship, promoting continuous improvement within their teams, while further encouraging the exploration of new technologies to drive meaningful change to stay competitive, relevant, and secure.The sooner companies realise the true value of the CIO position, the better their chances of success.To find a talented tech professional for your company, or to take the next step in your career ,contact our specialist technology recruiters now.
What are soft skills?
Worried that your lack of skills is letting you down?Soft skills are important in a range of different roles, helping you do everything from negotiating and selling to managing your schedule. You probably have several attributes already that you’re simply not using to your advantage. You just need to learn how to back them up.To find out how to make the most of them, here’s our guide on soft skills – and how they could help land your next job.What are soft skills?Soft skills are general attributes that aren’t specific to a job or industry.They’re usually self-developed, meaning no training is needed to build them. And because they can be applied to many different roles, soft skills are always desirable – no matter what field you’re working in.List of soft skills Soft skills are a combination of many different things, including social skills, character traits and employment qualities. As a result, the number of soft skills is almost endless. Some of the most common examples include: Communication skills Leadership Problem-solving Critical thinking Team working Flexibility Resilience Negotiation skills Why are soft skills important? Although hard skills might be important in some industries, soft skills are important in all of them. They’re what help us bond with other people around the business and fit well within the company culture. Without them, even someone with the right qualifications could end up alienating themselves in their role, or not having the right mindset to do their job effectively. They’re also what help distinguish us from other potential candidates when we look for a new position. What are the advantages of soft skills? One of the biggest advantages of soft skills is that they don’t limit you to working within one industry. They are transferable skills, allowing you to demonstrate your personality and effectiveness to prospective employers, even if you have limited experience in their field. For example, your excellent communication skills may have made you good at selling. But many other sectors outside of sales require people who can communicate well – whether it’s by attracting new customers, building relationships with suppliers or working effectively in a team. Also, everyone has some form of soft skills. They require no formal training and are usually picked up through previous positions or experiences – meaning you might already have some great attributes you can use to your advantage. What are the disadvantages of soft skills? Although they’re valuable, soft skills won’t always be enough to get you the job. Some industries require more formal qualifications or experience to get your foot in the door, and without these prerequisites, your soft skills may not be enough. Soft skills are also extremely difficult to measure, meaning some employers don’t appreciate their true value until you’ve actively been able to demonstrate them. How do I demonstrate soft skills on my CV? It’s never enough to say you have soft skills – you need to back them up. When it comes to writing a CV that means adding practical examples to show times when you’ve put your soft skills to good use. For example, stating you have good problem solving skills sounds fine. But saying ‘good problem solving skills, demonstrated when I successfully overcame X’ will come across much better to employers – not to mention add value to your CV. And the best part? A list of desirable skills will already be provided for you in the job description. All you need to do is prove them. If you struggle to think of good examples, use the STAR technique to help get you started. Can I learn soft skills? Soft skills are self-developed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be taught. There are a wide range of courses out there to help you improve everything from your organisation skills through to your public speaking. So, even if it’s not something you’re particularly strong on right now, there’s no reason you can’t get better. Figure out what skills you think you need to improve, find a course and get started.
How to juggle a side hustle with a full-time job
Pursuing personal interests and supplementing income are often key drivers for entrepreneurs, however the challenge lies in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. With the lines increasingly blurred for many between work and personal life, it can be difficult to switch off, especially as our indispensable smartphones often play dual roles in private and business use.Whatever happens, never let your side hustle impede your ability to do your main job, even if it is not your main passion. If you give it a chance, it may even turn into your dream job. Here's how to seamlessly manage both:Establish boundariesThe first step to successfully balancing a side hustle with a full-time job is to get organised and establish clear boundaries. Create distinct spaces for your job and side hustle, both physical and digital. This separation helps in switching between roles without feeling constantly pulled in different directions. Divide your workspaceInvest in a dedicated workspace for your side hustle, whether it’s a co-workspace or even a corner of your home. This physical separation can serve as a visual cue, helping you mentally transition into your side hustle, after coming back from your day job. Let tech take the strainUtilise technology to create digital boundaries, creating specific folders, calendars, and apps for your side hustle. This is a very important step. It will sharpen your focus when the time is right, reducing the risk of being distracted by work-related notifications. Manage your timeConsider allocating specific time slots for your side hustle, and make sure it doesn’t and cannot bleed into your work hours. This disciplined approach will ensure that you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Adjust your schedule for better efficiencyTime is your most valuable asset and optimising your schedule is crucial to managing both job and side hustle effectively. Here’s how: Prioritise tasks Identify your most critical tasks and prioritise them. This will help avoid the stress of having to meet simultaneous deadlines in your main job and side hustle. Use your peak productivity hours to your advantage Determine your peak productivity hours where you can work at your best, and reserve them for high impact tasks. This will ensure that you’re making the most of your focused energy on both fronts. Learn to delegate Recognise when it’s appropriate to delegate tasks, whether at your day job or working on your hustle. Effective delegation can make your workload easier, which contributes to a more balanced lifestyle. Can a side hustle get you into trouble with your employer?Balancing a side hustle with a full-time job requires a delicate dance to avoid potential conflicts. Here’s how to ensure that you’re not jeopardising your career or compromising your wellbeing. Review your employment contract Before you even think about starting a side hustle, you need to carefully review your employment contract, as some companies do have strict policies regarding side businesses. Understanding these restrictions will ensure you avoid violating any agreements. Be transparent with your employer Honesty is always the best policy. If your side hustle aligns with your skills and doesn’t conflict with your job, then you could in fact discuss it with your employer. Having transparency can foster trust and potentially lead to more flexibility in your schedule. Manage conflicts of interestEnsure your side hustle does not and cannot compete with your main job, as this can create situations where your loyalty is divided. Clear communication and ethical considerations are essential in avoiding these potential problems. It’s crucial to understand the legal aspects of having a side business, no matter the size. If you still don’t understand or are in doubt, please seek legal advice as this could be the difference between running a successful business or running into problems which could cost you both jobs. Additional strategies for successMake sure you establish realistic goals for both your job and side hustle. This will ensure you do not overcommit, as if you do it can lead to burnout and decreased overall productivity. Many people dismiss their wellbeing when they're busy, but it's important to take regular breaks, eat well, exercise and relax in order to recharge and prevent burnout in the long term. Balancing a side hustle with a full-time job is no easy thing to do, but with strategic planning, good organisational skills and a mindful approach, it is fully achievable.While you may only consider your main job as a means to pay the bills, never forget the invaluable experience it provides, perhaps in communication, teamwork or discipline. These sought-after skills will stand you in good stead for running any future enterprise. Looking for professionals with an entrepreneurial spirit for your business? Or perhaps you’re seeking work with a forward-thinking, flexible employer? Get in touch with one of our consultants today.
The need for cultural intelligence in the workplace
The topic of cultural intelligence is receiving increased focus. Managers must appreciate and honor the different cultures in their teams, made up of people from diverse backgrounds.As more and more people are working overseas, professional environments are becoming increasingly culturally varied. It's important for employers to recognize that the unique viewpoints of their employees can contribute to the company's success.The ability to understand, communicate, and collaborate across different cultures is vital for business expansion and the attraction of talented professionals.Understanding Cultural IntelligenceCultural intelligence means being able to interact well with different cultures. In a global setting, workers need to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds, promoting clear understanding and communication.Professors P. Christopher Earley and Soon Ang identify four key components of cultural intelligence (CQ). These are:Drive (motivation): the capacity to focus attention and effort towards understanding and operating in multicultural contextsKnowledge (cognition): encompasses the broad range of general cultural knowledge an individual possessesStrategy (metacognition): pertains to an individual's mental ability to gather and assess cultural knowledgeAction (behaviour): it is the ability to use knowledge and show appropriate words and actions in different cultures.Bear in mind, cultural sensitivity is vital for shaping your employees' perception of your company culture. To comprehend and value diverse cultures within your team, bridge the divide between traditions, customs, disciplines, and nationalities. This will facilitate teamwork, enhance productivity, and elevate your organization's reputation.Why is it significant in the workplace?As per a research conducted by School for CEOs, 76% of high-ranking business executives lack cultural intelligence. They struggle to make their teams feel included and a sense of belonging if they fail to understand different cultures.CQ is crucial in business as it aids in team building and fostering diverse viewpoints. Here are some of the primary reasons why cultural intelligence is significant in the workplace:Enhances productivity and innovationCultural intelligence plays a vital role in enhancing productivity and promoting creativity. When team members comprehend each other, they collaborate effectively, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.This cultivates a positive work environment where individuals contribute a range of ideas and perspectives. This diversity aids in addressing intricate problems by utilizing their varied experiences and viewpoints.Promotes effective communication and collaborationCultural intelligence improves communication in the workplace, especially in large organizations that might neglect individual perspectives and suggestions.Those possessing cultural intelligence are adept at closing communication gaps, preventing misinterpretations, and fostering trust in the workplace. This is essential in a global economy, where businesses often engage with international partners, clients, and stakeholders.CQ empowers employees to build stronger relationships with a diverse range of stakeholders. This leads to improved business results, lasting partnerships, and a reduced chance of communication errors.Enhance client relationsAs businesses expand and their strategies surpass local confines, they must cater to a diverse customer base. Cultural proficiency is vital in understanding and meeting the needs of varied clients.Recognizing different cultures and their requirements enables teams to provide superior services, leading to happier and more loyal customers. Cultural proficiency allows companies to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes that could jeopardize client relations and damage their reputation.Promotes inclusive work environmentsIt is crucial for businesses to adopt diversity and inclusion. Establishing workplaces that are inclusive and where every worker feels appreciated and respected necessitates cultural awareness.Companies can nurture a setting that values diversity and encourages individuality. Fostering a sense of acceptance and understanding accomplishes this. This supportive environment subsequently leads to enhanced employee satisfaction, engagement, productivity, and retention.Cultivating Cultural CompetencePromoting cultural diversity in the workplace requires everyone, especially those in leadership roles responsible for strategy and innovation, to develop cultural intelligence.Here are some strategies to foster and encourage a multicultural viewpoint:Helping employees grasp the basics of different cultures, such as values, beliefs, customs, and etiquette.Observing and mimicking how people from various cultures use their eyes, body, and personal space.Practicing empathy and curiosity when interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints.Seeking feedback and learning from mistakes in cross-cultural situations.Providing opportunities for cultural interaction and collaboration, like mentorship, training, and social events.Are you looking to attract top-tier talent to your organization, or considering a career change? Connect with one of our seasoned consultants today.
10 strategies to boost your business in 2024
No matter if your business is new or established, it's important to assess how well it did in the previous year. Moreover, setting goals for the forthcoming year is equally significant.A checklist can help guide you through the challenges and opportunities of starting fresh.By crafting a yearly strategy, you can ensure that your business is ready for success and longevity. An effective plan aids your business in enhancing efficiency, adapting to market trends, tackling obstacles, and capitalizing on opportunities.Getting ready for the forthcoming year instills a sense of commitment and devotion in your team. You achieve this by working together towards a shared objective and vision. It helps you track your plan, evaluate performance, make smart choices, and find ways to improve.It also fosters enthusiasm within your team about the future and the project you're collectively working on.Use the following checklist to evaluate your current status and ensure the upcoming year is a success:Reflect on the past yearBefore moving on to the next year, it's important to thoroughly assess how well you did in the past year.This includes analyzing sales and revenue figures, scrutinizing customer feedback, and assessing any other important metrics.Revisit your goals from the start of the year, and identify which strategies were successful and which ones were not. This review is crucial for learning and helps you create your goals for the next year.Establish accurate goalsIt's crucial to establish well-defined objectives for the upcoming year. You can utilize SMART objectives, an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For instance, rather than simply saying "enhance sales," you can set clear goals and aim to augment sales by 10% in the initial quarter. Implementing these goals will steer your company's actions and choices, leading to superior results.Formulating well-defined objectives for the forthcoming year is vital. You can employ SMART goals, which represent specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.For example, instead of expressing "enhance sales," you can aim to augment sales by 10% in the initial quarter. These goals will offer direction for your company's actions and choices, culminating in superior outcomes. Moreover, they will assist in managing resources and making decisions concerning time, finances, and resources for optimal outcomes.Build a strategyAfter you have clearly defined your goals, you can begin to outline the steps needed to achieve them. This could involve launching new products or services, breaking into new markets, or improving your customer service. Your strategy should act as a roadmap to achieving your goals.Manage your financesFinancial management is crucial for businesses. Review your income and expenditure from the previous year, and create a budget for the upcoming year. This is a vital task for the new year.It's essential to account for all potential costs, including salaries, marketing expenses, and operational costs.Conduct market researchGaining insight into your prospective customers and competitors is vital for shaping your business's marketing and sales approach.Studying the market enables you to make informed decisions, positioning your business for future success.Assessing hazardsEvery business faces hazards, whether they're financial, operational, or related to the market. By identifying these, your company can formulate plans to mitigate their effects.By adopting a forward-thinking approach, you can overcome challenges and sustain business activities.Invest in team developmentAllocating resources to your employees' training and development enhances their skills, boosts morale, and increases productivity.This is vital in 2024 as numerous firms are struggling with a skills shortage. Enhance your team's abilities to bridge gaps and facilitate your employees in acquiring new skills for career progression.Improving customer engagementMoving forward, it's essential to adopt strategies that not only captivate your customers but also enrich their experience.This might include improving your customer service, launching loyalty programs, or enhancing your online presence. Starting a conversation with customers and asking for their feedback on what they want is a good first step.Review and update business processesEfficient business processes can enhance productivity and reduce costs. The beginning of a new year is a perfect time to reevaluate existing processes and pinpoint possible improvements.By adopting new technologies or streamlining procedures, you could transform the way your business operates. Visit the resources and tools section on our website for valuable tips, tools, and guidance that could help with this.Prepare for unforeseen circumstancesUnanticipated events can interrupt your business. That's why it's crucial to have a contingency plan. This will aid you in managing these obstacles and maintaining seamless operations.This could involve setting up an emergency fund or developing a crisis management plan.Remember, an effective plan is flexible and adaptable. Regularly check and change your plan to make sure your business stays on track for success next year.Need a skilled expert for your team or want a new job? Contact our experienced advisors right away.