As a society, we tend to fixate on each individual’s intelligence, showing off IQ numbers like scores on a final exam. But there is another, perhaps more accurate indicator of one’s success, particularly in business: emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), also known as emotional intelligence (EI).
What is Emotional Quotient (EQ)?
While IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, is a standardized score that measures human intelligence, EQ measures:
How well each individual can identify and understand different emotions (in the self and others)
How one can best manage and control certain feelings and emotions
How to use emotional information to lead, adapt, or affect certain situations for the optimal outcome.
Emotional quotient is less about knowing facts and statistics, or about keeping up with current news. Instead, EQ is all about our understanding emotion, the various ways it presents itself, and how it can be used as an important tool to achieve one’s goals.
Why is emotional intelligence important for success?
Everyone has their own image of what success means for them. For some startups, it might be national or international recognition after staying independent for so long. For entrepreneurs, it could be the satisfaction of introducing a unique solution to a market problem or just the sense of creating a coherent, well-supported team.
Although intelligence and high IQ are ingrained into our society’s mindset as the ultimate keys to success, for many personal and professional goals, emotional intelligence in business is a far more valuable asset. Here’s why:
Emotional intelligence helps forge strong relationships. No matter what industry you’re in, it’s not always about what you know, but who you know. Even if your agency is only a year old and has very few experts on the team, you still have a major advantage over other startups if you have solid connections to clients, partners, mentors, and other people that can help. These relationships aren’t built on IQ, but an understanding of each other’s emotional habits and personality.
Emotional intelligence affects your physical and mental wellness. Emotions aren’t just how we feel, they tend to manifest themselves both physically in our body and in our minds. When we’re frustrated and stressed out, our body feels tense, and our mind is clouded in judgment. When we master our emotions, we can take control of any situation.
Emotional intelligence can resolve disputes and conflicts. As much as we try to keep business professional, as long as humans are involved, it will always be an emotional ordeal. Ego, greed, jealousy, and other dangerous mentalities can sometimes take over.
Although emotional intelligence is an important skill for everyone to learn, leaders should invest their time in better developing their own EQ. Here are a few reasons why:
Better team management
Leaders with high emotional intelligence are equipped to gauge their team morale, as well as the individual wellbeing of each team member. That can be a powerful tool in either motivating the team to push harder or in providing a sense of rest or relaxation. Humans aren’t robots, and leaders that remember this are able to get better performance out of their teams.
Internal awareness and self-regulation
It’s not just for gauging other people too. Leaders that have strong emotional intelligence can also better understand their own emotions, allowing them to see when their personal biases get in the way of objectivity and professionalism. They can catch themselves before getting angry at a team member. They will notice when their own personal issues are preventing them from working efficiently.
The better you can understand another person’s viewpoint, the more you can enrich your life and business. We all go through our personal battles, but developing the patience and understanding to see another person’s desires and pain points can be empowering. Emotional intelligence in the workplace can be particularly influential in how people conduct their work.
Knowing what other people think and feel can take a lot of stress away. Instead of worrying about the worst-case scenarios, you develop a sixth sense that allows you to view problems from a more human, more sensitive outlook. This can be freeing not just for you but for your entire team as well.
EQ vs. IQ: The difference between emotional quotient and intelligence quotient
Definition: IQ is a measure of intelligence. EQ measures one’s ability to identify, assess, and control emotions.
Skills and Abilities: IQ measures how much one knows, and the application of knowledge in certain situations (like understanding math in accounting). EQ is the ability to recognize emotional reactions and understand how to best use emotional information in a given situation (such as negotiating a new deal).
Application in business: IQ is useful in conducting research, analysis of large data sets, and objective tasks like managing finances. EQ is more subjective and involves human concerns, such as teamwork, leadership, and negotiation.
Relevant traits: IQ emphasizes logic, knowledge, and memory. EQ emphasizes intuition, creativity, and empathy.
With all this talk of EQ, one might get the idea that it’s substantially better or completely replaces IQ. That’s not the case. IQ still plays an important role in helping identify individuals who are able to use logic and reason to make vital decisions. But it’s not the only way to measure or evaluate one’s contributions. Think of EQ as the other side of the coin, or a different lens- it’s not necessarily better, it just evaluates completely different aspects of a person.
Can EQ be changed?
Absolutely. Just as we have learned to express ourselves in more nuanced ways since birth, we have also learned to analyze and interpret emotions in more detail. This skill is not something one is born with, it’s something that must be learned over time, through daily interactions, and through regular self-reflection. But first, people have to be open to the idea of improving their EQ.
Tips to work on your emotional intelligence
Study your own emotions. If you want to get better at reading other people’s reactions and feelings, start with your own. Often, we aren’t aware of our feelings until they subside. Pay close attention to changes in your mood, and consider writing them in a journal or diary.
Get some external feedback. As humans, we’re limited in our capacity for self-reflection. Sometimes, it’s just too difficult to accurately understand why we feel a certain way when we’re the ones experiencing it. Consider asking family, friends, mentors, or even professional counsel about your reactions and emotional states. You may find their feedback illuminating in your own progression.
Analyze common triggers, patterns, and remedies. Over time, you’ll come to realize that certain personality types tend to follow emotional patterns, usually caused by common themes or concerns. Listen carefully to what others say, to how they behave, and you will soon be able to preemptively recognize similar patterns in other people’s behavior.
Help others. The best way to put emotional intelligence into practice is to use your knowledge to help others. Find the team members struggling with their work and see if you can assist in any way. Empathy is at the core of EQ, and can only be truly demonstrated when you can help someone without getting something in return.
Practice active listening. One of the most effective techniques for improving empathy is just by improving your listening habits. Take the time to really look at a person when they talk, and understand the things they are saying explicitly and implicitly (such as through their body language or subtext). The more present you are while listening, the better you can understand their current disposition.
Be approachable. Leaders that offer ample opportunities for their team to reach out will forge stronger and more durable connections with their team. Allow your team to email or call you easily, and remove any barriers that may impede, prevent, or deter people from communicating with you.
Respond to conflict. Arguments can be learning opportunities for everyone. Instead of stifling arguments, encourage healthier argumentation that doesn’t involve direct or personal attacks.
Use empathy in your judgments. You don’t need to be in someone’s shoes to understand where they’re coming from. Remember to develop your empathy for others, so you can better see their point of view without having to experience the same events.
In a world where much of our communication is increasingly digitized and abbreviated for the Internet, true emotion can be difficult to identify and control. But the leaders who undergo emotional intelligence training will find that they have more mastery and control over their situations than those who ignore EQ. How will you apply emotional intelligence skills in your business?
To learn more about becoming an effective entrepreneur or applying useful skills in the workplace, follow Novel Coworking’s blog today.
As the world shut down in 2020, companies were forced to experiment with new ways of working together. For some, that meant working remotely, and for others, it meant having to close their offices indefinitely.
Now, as the national population becomes vaccinated and offices open back up, companies are continuing to re-evaluate their policies, adapting their work environments for a post-pandemic normal. That’s precisely why hybrid office spaces are currently in high demand— they provide the flexibility that many companies need right now.
What exactly is a hybrid office, and what are its benefits? Why are they becoming so popular with different types of businesses? We’ll explore the answers to these questions and more in this article today.
What is a Hybrid Office?
A hybrid office is a type of office that accommodates both remote workers and office workers. Hybrid offices are ideal for startups with flexibility requirements, for tech companies that predominantly work remotely, or for growing businesses that want to offer a variety of options for their employees. Because it can cater to remote workers (and telework is now becoming a perk for employees), the coronavirus’s impact on the workplace greatly accelerated the demand for hybrid office spaces.
Also worth noting that hybrid offices may be called flex office spaces or flex spaces. Usually, this refers to a mix of both traditional office space and industrial spaces, like garages or warehouses converted to accommodate multiple work styles.
Hybrid Workspace Productivity
Hybrid offices offer high potential for greater productivity, due to the flexibility and customization options available. In fact, according to one study, a majority of companies believe that the productivity gains from remote working will be sustainable beyond the pandemic. In other words, remote working isn’t going anywhere. Instead of solely relying on remote work, or forcing employees to come into the office against their will, hybrid offices allow more flexible work hours, cut down on commuting, and reduce overhead costs.
Because employees are given the option of when and where they work through hybrid offices, employers will also notice employee attrition decrease as engagement increases. With more time spent with families or doing things outside of the workplace, people can invest their time and money beyond commuting or eating out as well. Overall, that translates to a more pleasant work-life balance. It’s no small wonder that companies are continuing to update employee guidelines when it comes to the workplace.
Hybrid Office Design and Amenities
As our use of technology and office spaces naturally evolves, so too will the design of the spaces themselves. While large private office spaces and cubicles may have been the standard twenty to thirty years ago, today, particularly in a post-pandemic world, the office is changing to be more flexible, while amenities become on-demand.
For example, the conference room used to be a staple for every business with an office. Today, companies are realizing that they only need the conference room on an as-needed basis, so instead of paying for it every month, they are more comfortable paying for it by the hour.
Similarly, phone booths and private offices are offering the same level of privacy and utility that conference rooms once provided. Need to jump on a quick virtual conference? Simply hop in a phone booth, equipped with an electrical outlet, ample lighting, and sound-dampening acoustics. It’s more cost-effective, convenient, and sustainable in the long run.
In the future, hybrid offices will act as a social and cultural space— a place for meeting and holding events, rather than a 9-5 setting for all employees.
Hybrid Office Furniture and Effects
In addition to the design, hybrid offices are also showcasing the future of furniture and the need for customizable arrangements. It turns out that for most office spaces with short and long-term leases, only a certain amount of furniture is required- desks, whiteboards, chairs. The rest can be added as needed by the tenants that come and go. The goal is to maximize the office layout space, minimize office noise and distractions, and keep workers focused on their task at hand.
One essential piece of hybrid office furniture is the standing desk. Many computer users are reporting severe neck, spinal, and wrist pain after prolonged sitting. Standing desks allow users to continue working while they stand, allowing your body to stretch the muscles that tend to naturally atrophy when we’re hunched over low screens. These days you can find standing desks almost anywhere, but UPLIFT offers some serious, high-end, feature-rich standing desk options.
Sustainability is also at the forefront for many designers and workers, now more than ever. Energy-efficient buildings and furniture are designed to minimize power usage without sacrificing output and tend to use sustainably sourced materials for construction. Learn more about the impact of energy-efficient buildings at the Department of Energy.
Hybrid Offices v. Coworking Offices v. Private offices
Now the question that may be on your mind: which type of office space is right for you? Between hybrid offices, coworking spaces, and private offices, which one is ideal for a startup or growing business?
As we’ve discussed, hybrid offices are designed for flexibility, for both remote and local teams. They can be found at affordable prices for simply needing a common office space each month, through an on-demand model.
The most affordable option for solopreneurs or startups. Coworking spaces offer access to the local entrepreneurial community, freedom to choose where and when you work, but sacrifice the privacy of a separate office.
Great solutions for scaling businesses or enterprises. Companies can demonstrate their prestige with a logo on the front door, or with the amount of space they rent out. If you want to show brand power through your office space, a private office or even an office suite is best.
The best option really depends on the needs and wants of your particular business. If your company, like many others during this time, are looking for something flexible that caters to both remote and in-person office workers, then you can’t do much better than the hybrid office solution.
The world has looked significantly different over the past two years, not just at home but in our offices. The way we look and understand our work environments may change in the coming years. Short term, this means companies may be revisiting their policies and investments in real estate. Long term, it may give way to a completely new model that supports both remote work and in-office lifestyles.
In this post, we’ll explore what the future of real estate and coworking trends look like this year and in the coming years.
Flexible Office Spaces
Though it’s easy to think the pandemic has put a halt in the growth of coworking, the opposite is true. More companies are signing up for flexible workspaces and flexible leases than ever before. According to one survey of major companies, 86% expect to use flex space as part of their strategies moving forward, up 73% from a year prior.
If you’re not familiar with the flexible office space, think of it as any office that encourages freedom and customizability— either in the cost structure, in the environment, or in community collaboration. This might include a hybrid office model (such as a shared office space used by both remote workers and in-office workers), and coworking spaces. It may also include offices with flexible leasing agreements, allowing companies to rent monthly or on an as-needed basis.
As the vaccine is rolled out across the country, companies will begin to revisit their offices and take stock of the essentials. For larger companies, they may decide that they are overspending on giant office buildings where only half their team can access it at any given time. For startups, a more relaxed lease agreement may be necessary for their survival.
Benefits of Flexible Office Spaces
Flexible agreements – Although the world is gradually returning to normal, the uncertainty lingering from the previous year will make some businesses more cautious about undertaking long-term lease agreements. Flex offices will be in high demand as companies test the waters of sending their workforce back to the workplace.
Change of pace – Remote workers stuck at home will most likely feel fatigued from all the Zoom meetings and working from home. Flex office spaces will provide a welcome change of scenery.
The sense of community – True networking has to happen in person. Whether it’s your next partner, employee, or client, you may just find the right person in a flex office space.
Hybrid Office Space
During the pandemic, many employers saw the need to have a majority of their workforce work remotely. From Facebook to Twitter, companies saw the value in updating their work policies to accommodate both in-person work and remote work. This led to an increase in searches for hybrid offices.
The hybrid office space isn’t a new concept, it combines the benefits of the existing open office space model and private offices model. It even features many traditional office amenities, such as printing and fax machines, conference rooms, and so on.
Rather, the biggest pull with a hybrid office is the option: do you want to work from home or in the office? Allowing your workers to choose can create a greater sense of autonomy and freedom. Expect to see more companies updating their policies to cater to both remote and in-office workers.
Benefits of Hybrid Office Space
More freedom – Instead of being forced to work in the office or stuck working remotely, a hybrid setup caters to both worlds. Pop in for a quick meeting or client consultation, then finish the rest of your work abroad or at home. That level of freedom is hard to come by in more traditional setups.
Affordability – Hybrid offices tend to be far more affordable than traditional office spaces. When not in use, space can be shared or rented out to another client, keeping your overhead at a minimum.
Collaborative opportunities – When remote workers and office workers have a common space to work together, creativity and collaboration naturally arise. It simply isn’t the same when attempted over a virtual conference call.
Companies Moving to Coworking Office Space
Even before the pandemic, large corporations were adopting the coworking model in droves. Some of Novel Coworking’s enterprise clients include Grainger, Monster, Mozilla, Aflac, State Farm, and Accenture.
These companies and many others realize that coworking provides their brand with more real estate at a fraction of the cost. According to one figure, coworking spaces can save companies 20-40% in costs compared to traditional offices. Combined with the hybrid office model, companies can allow their employees to work remotely and come into a satellite office on an as-needed basis.
Besides the cost-effectiveness, other coworking space benefits for big companies include greater access to entrepreneurial communities within major cities. Although San Francisco is known for its tech scene, cities like Kansas City, Charlotte, and Seattle are quickly developing reputations as entrepreneurial hotbeds. The potential partnerships and inspiration gained from working around startups are immeasurable.
Benefits of Coworking
Budget-friendly – Coworking is a lot cheaper compared to the cost of any other office because the cost is split between all coworking members. This is perfect for solopreneurs, startups, or satellite offices.
Networking – Without any walls or barriers, you can meet other professionals within the space more easily. The entrepreneurial community is something that cannot be seen in a cubicle-type setting.
Amenity-rich – Coworking members get access to incredible perks, from unlimited coffee to printing and faxing services. These would be far more expensive if paid for separately.
Staying Connected with Remote and Distributed Teams
These days, it’s not uncommon for businesses to have team members scattered around the city or even the world. The modern company is increasingly becoming distributed. It helps to have a single hub or location to meet up or remotely manage your team.
Nothing beats communicating in person. That’s why businesses are starting to rent out hybrid offices or coworking spaces in major cities, where international workers can access easily from the airport, and where local workers can commute using the rail or bus system.
Benefits of Remote Work
Flexibility – Remote workers enjoy greater flexibility when it comes to where and when they choose to work.
Cost-effective – With hybrid offices and coworking spaces, you can use your office only when you need it. Instead of paying for a large office space or building, your company can invest in a few rooms that can be used whenever a remote worker feels the need to come in. This saves you money on overhead expenses like utilities, cleaning, and maintenance.
Work-life balance – Balance has become a key issue in the post-pandemic world. People are placing greater emphasis on family and personal time. Companies that cannot accommodate that need must update their standards to remain competitive.
Increased worker productivity and engagement – With remote work capabilities comes a greater sense of responsibility to the company to perform well. In one Stanford study, remote work has shown to increase productivity by up to a full workday. This demonstrates that personalization, freedom, and flexibility are actually conducive to more efficient work.
Tools for Remote Teams:
Asana – A clean and colorful take on project management. Offers a variety of views, including calendar, kanban, to-do lists, and much more.
Slack – Imagine if the customizability and richness of email met the immediacy of instant messaging— then you get Slack. At this point, it’s become an industry standard for team communication.
Toggl – Tracking time is essential to get paid. Toggl’s interface matches the minimalist feel of both Asana and Slack.
Mavenlink– A more comprehensive and detailed version of Toggl and Asana combined. Allows timesheet reports, project creation, and data forecasting.
Zoom– 2020 turned Zoom into a household name, and for good reason. The video conferencing app is still the easiest way to invite people to talk without the need for a login.
Google Drive – Gone are the days of forgetting to save and losing all your work. Google Drive allows you to store your documents in the cloud as well as collaborate with others in real-time.
The Future of the Office Space Industry
2021 will be a year to watch to better understand the direction of the office space industry. Already, it seems companies are straying from traditional office environments and leaning towards more hybrid office models.
A big trend is an increasingly fragmented market. Where coworking and traditional offices may have dominated in the past, today the split is more evenly distributed, with hybrid offices, virtual offices, and even shared offices gaining market share.
Although office space costs will be difficult to predict, expect to see more flexible, customized plans based on the company’s needs. Long-term leases will undoubtedly be more cost-effective, but companies may opt to sign for short-term leases in case they decide to move elsewhere.
Satellite offices will continue to be used by major corporations and enterprises. The benefit of having a prestigious address combined with a meeting place for local professionals is a value that cannot be replaced.
Finally, there will be a greater emphasis on live-work-play communities or areas where offices are also in proximity to homes, apartments, and local recreational attractions (such as restaurants, bars, parks, and so on).
Smartphones have become part of our everyday lives, yet so many businesses today continue to neglect their mobile strategy. Failing to update for mobile can have severe business consequences, including missed business opportunities. According to Google over half of all web traffic comes from mobile. By simply having an app or mobile site designed for your customers, you could be opening up your business to a completely new audience.
Today we’ll explore why a mobile-first approach is essential for your business, as well as the steps you can take to improve your mobile strategy.
Why Mobile First?
Mobile-first design is a philosophy that prioritizes mobile development and responsive design before working on a tablet or desktop version for a product or website. This is because mobile versions tend to be harder to develop, have more restrictions and requirements, and translates better to desktop than the other way around.
But why should companies develop mobile apps or websites at all? Here are a few reasons why:
Customers demand faster load times
According to a study of over 1000 customers, nearly 70% say page speed impacts their decision to purchase a product or service. Nobody wants to wait around for a page to load. And as traditional web developers continue to bloat websites with flashy animations and unnecessary scripts, users have flocked to mobile apps and websites for more responsive experiences.
Mobile use continues to rise
Not only has mobile overtaken website traffic, but it has also been more successful in capturing people’s attention for longer periods of time. One study by Zenith shows that the average mobile browsing time per user each day in the US has increased to 252 minutes in 2021, up from only 45 minutes in 2011.
Mobile-first indexing by Google
A few years ago, Google announced that it would begin using the mobile version of content for indexing and ranking. Before the announcement, the desktop version was predominantly used in evaluating relevance to a query. If you want your website or content to rank higher or more quickly, consider adopting a mobile-first approach.
Mobile personalization drives more sales
There’s a lot of data that can be learned from mobile users, from their location and usage rate to their previous searches and habits. According to Google and Ipsos, 63% of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies “whose mobile sites and apps offer them relevant recommendations on products they may be interested in.” You may notice this in apps like Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram, which serve up content based on what you enjoy searching.
Before You Begin Mobile First
Assemble your mobile engineering team. Creating a mobile app or website requires a cross-functional team of developers, artists, designers, writers, QA testers, and many more specialized individuals. Be sure to do your research on development teams by looking through their portfolio and completed projects.
Conduct customer journey mapping to understand how the customer will move through your app or site. How will the user find out about you? What will they do on the first page of the app or website? What UI elements will draw them towards the next action, and then the next one? All these questions will help you better understand the actions and flow of the user journey, allowing you to better design your mobile-first strategy.
Review the relevant regulations on data. The regulations on data protection are becoming more and more stringent, from GDPR (EU’s regulation) to the California Consumer Privacy Act. Do your due diligence on the laws surrounding data protection and regulation to avoid getting hit with complaints or even lawsuits.
Developing for mobile isn’t as easy as the press of a button, you must also think about how the content must be designed for a smaller screen, and a potentially lower internet speed. For developers, this means balancing mobile responsiveness and mobile design. While it’s important to have a beautiful and eye-catching design, it should never come in the way of speed and responsiveness. The slower the speed, the more likely the user will tap away.
Great developers also know to prioritize great content. With so many apps and websites online, useful and engaging content is what draws people organically. The fewer barriers in the way (such as login screens, ads, loading times, or steep learning curves), the faster people can access the content they want, and the more likely they are to stick around to engage even more.
In addition to great content, developers should design around clear calls-to-action or CTAs. What do you want your customer to do? Perhaps you want your customer to make a purchase of a product, or to try a freemium version of a service. Or maybe you would like to collect their email address for further correspondence. Or maybe you just want them to download your new app. No matter the conversion that generates your bottom line, you must design around this CTA, making buttons visible and copy engaging enough to motivate users to act.
Don’t expect people to flock to your mobile website or app once it’s complete— just like any other product or service you have to market.
If you’re marketing an app, you’ll want to do research on app store optimization. Similar to SEO for websites, this involves tweaking your app store page to maximize the rank higher in the app store search engine: things like keywords, description, reviews, and more. Check out Apple’s page for app store optimization to learn more.
Mobile analytics tools can also lend you important insights in helping you better understand your audience and market your brand. Metrics such as geolocation, keywords searched, device type can all be collected from users visiting your website. Or if you have an app, you can have users opt-in to send analytics data for improving the product. Remember to be transparent— failure to disclose data collection could land you in trouble with regulatory authorities.
Before (and even during) your marketing campaign, ensure you have robust mobile testing strategies. Putting out half-baked apps or websites will only lead to negative reviews, and potentially leads lost forever. Take the time to properly beta test your mobile site or app, even hiring QA (quality assurance) testers to try and “break” your app through normal testing. If all goes well, your customers shouldn’t even notice that your app works flawlessly.
Interested in learning more about companies that have done mobile-first strategy right? Here are a few examples from some of the leading companies in the industry.
Learning a language can seem like a daunting task, but when it’s presented as a game on your phone, it can be something you turn into a habit. That’s what language education company Duolingo found out early on. By developing its app with gamification elements such as achievements, levels, and experience points, students don’t feel like they’re stuck in a class but rather like they’re playing and having fun. Today, Duolingo services over 300 million students.
Investing, banking, and other financial services are crucial to one’s success, but few people take the time and effort in understanding how it all works. SoFi simplifies everything, allowing you to view it all in one place— your loans, your stocks, even your credit score (for free!). SoFi even offers complimentary advice and community support for all their customers. Currently, they have over 1 million members.
That’s right, in case you weren’t aware, Novel Coworking has an app for our clients! In one place, you can manage conference room bookings, check on packages, order snacks from the Honor Market, and interact with your local Novel community. It’s the perfect companion app for working in our spaces.
Mobile will no doubt continue to be an important part of a company’s online presence in 2021 and beyond. If you’ve long neglected to revisit your website or app, now is the time. Don’t miss out on potential traffic or customers. How can you update your content to better serve an ever-increasing mobile audience?
Even as our lives continue to migrate towards the online sphere, the art of public speaking will remain as important as ever. From pitching a new startup to selling products to customers, public speaking remains irreplaceable as a form of communication and persuasion.
But public speaking doesn’t come easy to everyone. Some have such an intense fear of giving speeches or large audiences that they tend to freeze up, vowing never to do so again. It’s a shame because that mentality can close off so many doors, particularly to entrepreneurs or business owners.
Today we want to share a few tips that will help you in your presentation and speaking skills so that the next time you’re called up on stage, you’ll feel excited rather than anxious.
Tips on Public Speaking
Start with a theme or throughline. Ask yourself, “why am I talking about this at all?” and “why should anyone care?” If you’ve ever gotten bored at listening to someone talk about something, chances are it’s because they have no theme or idea that connects all of their ramblings together. A single theme or throughline is all you need to stay on track and focus on the important pieces of information. Better yet, create an outline for your speech to keep you from meandering around.
Think of it less like public speaking, and more like public storytelling. Stories all have something in common: they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is an overarching conflict, a hero or idea worth rooting for, and lessons learned in the end. Study the greatest and most popular stories, from The Bible to Star Wars, and you’ll have a better idea about the ups and downs that make public speaking entertaining.
Conduct audience analysis. Know who you’re speaking to. When you have an idea about what your audience is like, what they care about, and what they aspire to be, you can formulate your speech around them. That makes your words more engaging and interesting, compared to speaking to an anonymous audience.
Show personality. No one wants a robot reciting words. Inject some of your own personality and voice into your speech. Add emphasis on ideas you care about, or humor in more serious moments. The more that people see an actual human being is behind the spoken words, the more likely they are to listen.
How to Calm Nerves Before a Presentation
Presenting in front of any audience can be a nerve-wracking experience. Instead of focusing on what we need to say, it’s natural to play out the worst-case scenarios— stuttering, embarrassing one’s self, forgetting what to say, and so on.
Although you may never completely get rid of the fear of presenting, by practicing certain techniques, you can feel more confident each time. Here’s how:
Meditate. Practice breathing techniques before, during, and after speaking. Taking deep inhales and exhales through your nose will help lower your heart rate, regulate your breathing, and calm your mind. It’s no surprise that professionals from Olympic athletes to politicians use meditation as a way of visualizing their success and calming themselves.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. If you study various acting techniques, you’ll notice one thing they have in common: repetition until perfection. Actors and actresses have to memorize lines, often with limited time, and then convincingly deliver those lines in front of an entire cast, crew, and sometimes a live audience. That’s why they use every minute they can get to practice.
Here’s actor Jim Parsons discussing how he uses a system that involves note cards and muscle memory to learn his lines:
Speak slowly and take your time. Don’t rush through your presentation just to get it over with. Instead, take the time to properly say each line with clarity and intention. Not only will your audience appreciate the more deliberate pace, but they’ll actually have the opportunity to understand what you’re saying. Give particular emphasis to important sentiments or powerful sentences. As you continue to present, speaking slowly will help you control your thoughts and ensure each idea gets its proper spotlight.
Virtual Public Speaking
In today’s current climate, many presentations are being held virtually. While the basic presentation principles remain the same, the stage on which people present has changed completely. Here are a few presentation tips for your next Zoom or livestream.
Dress up professionally. Of course, you can still opt to present in your pajamas, but it won’t carry the same level of professionalism. Take the time to groom yourself, find a nice suit, dress, or dress shirt, and give yourself a check in the mirror. Your clothing should help make the case for whatever you present on.
Clean up or find a professional background. Your office room is now your stage. Be ready to be judged on whatever books, artwork, or furniture you have in the background. Clean up as best you can, and try to keep your background simple and organized. You may also want to look into getting a virtual background, perhaps an office or blank background so it doesn’t stand out too much.
Minimize interruptions and distractions. If you have any pets, you may want to keep them in separate rooms. You should also give your roommates, friends, or family members a heads up that you will be presenting, and not to disturb you. It’s one of those things that should go without saying, but always need to be checked off just in case.
Test your connection and equipment. Technical mishaps happen almost everywhere. Make sure your Internet connection is stable for a call, that your webcam is operating properly, and that your mic picks up sound clearly. You may even want to start a practice Zoom call just to ensure everything is working in proper condition.
Use sticky notes in the corners of your monitor. The one advantage that a Zoom presentation offers is that no one will notice your makeshift prompter. It’s a good idea to keep notes handy just so you know what to discuss next, or the right questions to ask. Keep them brief and short, and don’t spend too much time trying to read them.
Light your face clearly. Your face should be front and center of the presentation. Use lamps and natural light to ensure your face is illuminated clearly, and that your background doesn’t appear too dark or obscured. The better the lighting, the more professional you will appear.
2020 was the embodiment of change, self-care, and introspection. 2021 will be about maintaining and building on those values. As businesses slowly open up their doors and the world returns to a new normal, entrepreneurs must look deeply both within themselves and at the companies they run, and look for new ways to grow in the new year. Here are just a few ideas to help you get started on developing you and your company this year.
Learn Something New
Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school, it’s a lifelong journey. No matter your level of education, you can always learn something that enriches your life, both professionally and personally. Whether it’s a skill tied to your business or a hobby you’ve long wanted to try, there are countless ways to expand your knowledge without having to take out a student loan. Check out our list of free online classes you can take.
Join a Business Organization
No entrepreneur is an island— regardless of the industry or expertise, entrepreneurs can always find value in joining trade networks or business organizations. You never know, you may just find your next employee, partner, supplier, or client through one of these associations. Fundera has developed a comprehensive list for 2021 here.
Just because you can’t meet in person, doesn’t mean you can’t meet other professionals. Virtual networking has soared in popularity in recent months thanks to apps like Zoom, Clubhouse, and Discord. Even as people venture outside their homes this year, networking events won’t look the same. Online networking will continue to provide a safer, and in some cases more efficient, alternative.
There’s been a boom in podcast production in the past decade, propelled by major streaming services and names like Joe Rogan, Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Koenig, and many more. Podcasts are great ways to learn new information, gain different perspectives, or simply keep up with your interests. Check out our list of top ten podcasts to listen to this year.
We don’t always see the ways our community benefits us, their contributions impact our business directly. That’s why we have to do our part and contribute back to our community, whether it’s through volunteer work, fundraising, mentorship, or some other activity that enhances the people in our local network. How can your business leverage its power and influence to help those around you?
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there are bigger things than what we do for work. Family, friends, and personal well-being are all aspects of our life that we tend to ignore or sideline in favor of getting more work done. But in reality, these are pillars that only serve to strengthen and enrich our lives. Focusing on the balance between professional and personal responsibilities will also serve the employees within a business, as they build a greater sense of trust and appreciation for companies that look out for their best interests.
You can always strive to be a better leader. In fact, it can be argued that striving to be better is an essential part of leadership itself. Companies will undergo many changes throughout this year, and the one constant to carry them forward is the action taken by resolute leaders. Read our post on leadership styles during change.
Improving Their Business
Delegate Tasks and Roles
As a leader within a company, it’s easy to get wrapped up in micromanaging people’s work, making sure things go according to plan. But the more this happens to you, the more it takes you away from the crucial parts of work. Delegation is key. Make sure you choose the right person for each task, give them the power and autonomy to finish it on their own, and focus your attention on more pressing tasks. Not only will you have more time, but your team members will feel more trusted and valued with the work.
Creativity can help solve problems much faster and more efficiently than hard work or money ever could. And in a time where there is so much uncertainty, creativity can help keep a business alive. Just take a look at Moriarty’s Gem Art, a gem shop run by Steve Moriarty. At the start of the lockdown, Moriarty launched a livestreamed gem show to supplement his income. Now, more than 1000 people watch the two-hour show that airs every other Wednesday and has resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. Creativity kept Moriarty’s family business alive.
Improve Flexibility and Adaptability
More than ever, businesses need to be nimble and adjust to constantly changing environments. This may take shape in the form of remote working policies, new (or altered) product or service offerings, or adjusting other company standards to better fit the current climate. It may be a difficult decision to make at first, but it may open doors to greater opportunities down the road.
Focus on Company Culture
Salary, work opportunities, and company outlook might entice someone to join a company, but culture and benefits are what compel them to stay. Now that work-life balance is becoming a priority for workers around the world, companies are revisiting what makes their culture unique, and how it can translate into perks such as paid time off, health insurance options, and philanthropic or volunteer opportunities. This year may be the time to revisit what makes your company tick, and how you can better serve your employees through culture.
No matter how old the company is or what they do, there will always be fires to put out, project pipelines with bottlenecks, and uncertainty about the future. It wouldn’t hurt to talk to key leaders within a company and interview them about the problems they face, and take their suggestions for improving the company processes. You never know, you may be instrumental in bringing innovation and creativity to their problem-solving process.
Think About the Future
Improve Goal Setting
Goals are the north star of any business initiative. Sometimes it’s poor planning and goal setting that can hold a company back, instead of its people or process. To make better goals, consider applying the SMART principle, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These are the elements that ensure a goal is simple enough to be completed but challenging enough to yield actionable results. Try applying it to both low-hanging fruit (daily tasks and check-ins) and to overarching strategies.
Research Policy Trends
Regulations around industrial practices change almost every day, and leaders would only benefit by researching how these updates affect their business. Back in 2018, the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law that oversees how companies handle data of EU citizens. Yet even with strict penalties in place, companies repeatedly failed to comply with GDPR, either out of ignorance or by not taking it seriously, resulting in fines worth over $126 million. Failure to research changing policies in your industry may lead to similar consequences.
Revisit Customer Data
On the topic of customer data, now might be an opportune time to evaluate your existing customer’s information. For one, simply looking at the data can spark new ideas for marketing or product development. But more importantly, the past year has demonstrated how easy it is for hackers to breach and access sensitive data, from credit card details to personally-identifying information. Make sure you avoid this catastrophe by revisiting your company’s privacy and protection guidelines.
Try New Platforms
New apps or software can streamline business processes that are too slow or need refreshing. For example, Zoom has completely changed the way companies do video calls, as it does not require a login and can support hundreds of people. Some restaurants are relying on food delivery apps like Grubhub or Uber Eats to maintain their revenue requirements. Consult your team on what tools may need updating for the post-Covid normal.
What Entrepreneurs Should Avoid
Failing to Update the Company’s Thinking
Don’t keep bad ideas around, no matter how great they may have been at the time. Every so often a company should not only revisit its processes but the thinking and logic behind those decisions. For example, a company opposed to having a strong digital presence (i.e. a website or social media) may want to reconsider its value in 2021, a time when people’s online engagement has never been higher.
Jumping into New Ventures Too Quickly
Risk avoidance is crucial to a business’s long term growth, and nothing is riskier than pushing the company into uncharted territory without research. This may include (but is not limited to) product launches, new markets, experimental technology, or just following the latest online trend. Be sure your company does its due diligence and consult experts/thought leaders before taking on something it has never done before.
Ignoring Cash Flow
Without adequate cash flow, a business simply cannot survive. It only takes a few sound strategies to improve a business’s situation. One way is to improve the terms of payment with suppliers and partners. Send out invoices early, and use electronic payments whenever possible. You may even consider applying a discount for customers or clients that pay their bills early. To learn about other strategies, visit Investopedia’s page here.
Lack of Accountability
Leadership begins with taking responsibility for everyone’s actions, good or bad. Once leaders stop placing blame on other people, that sense of accountability trickles down to every single level, and the team rises as a single unit. This notion of accountability and ownership is explored deeply in Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s book, Extreme Ownership, a philosophy they applied to their military unit during the Iraq War.
Customers and partners will tell you upfront how to improve your business, you need only listen. From Twitter threads to online reviews, to even customer complaints, there’s no shortage of places to learn about how people feel about your products and services. Consider also running focus groups, surveys, polls, or interviews to better understand the particular pain points and aspirations of your buyers, and you can turn those insights into better, stronger offerings.
Growth and success is surely something that differs from person to person. But the entrepreneurs that find ways to improve themselves and their habits will notice their company take on a similar spirit of improvement and wellbeing. What will you do this year to better serve the company you run?