In conversation with Adelina

Hello and welcome to 'In conversation with Adelina' - a new series of blog posts - designed to share my training knowledge with you. 

The posts will be loaded with tips, handy hints, commonly shared problems that I solve daily and other information that will help you get the outcome you want from your next presentation.  Like all my work, it's results driven and loaded with practical advice. 

It's created like a conversation and written by Tracy Wilkinson, my work colleague, as we dissect the work we do to extract the best nuggets of advice to share. 

We know you are busy people so each post will be short and digestible.

I'd be delighted to hear from you if there are any topics you'd like me to cover.  After all, this is 'in conversation' and dialogue is what I thrive on.  Talk soon...

What Investors Want? Series - Insights from Steve Elsom

posted 17 Apr 2015, 01:09 by Adelina Chalmers   [ updated 17 Apr 2015, 01:28 ]

What Bank Managers look for when you ask for a Business Loan?
Insights from Steve Elsom, Area Director, SME Banking, Lloyds Bank

Angel Investors or Venture Capitalists are a way of getting the investment you are after for your business, but they will want equality in your company in return. If you don't want to give away company equity, perhaps a bank loan may be more suitable. Preparing for the meeting you have with the bank is crucial if you want to get a loan.

Steve Elsom is the Area Director for SME banking for Lloyds Bank heading up a team of over seventy relationship managers across East England. Working closely with the local business agencies, Steve devotes much of his time to help support and develop businesses to be better prepared, better informed and more confident when they approach a lender to request borrowing facilities.

I asked Steve what he expects from an SME approaching their bank for a loan.

An obvious first question will be "tell me about you and your business". This is your opportunity to talk with energy and enthusiasm, to demonstrate your knowledge of the market, to convey the direction of the business and your future plans’. The Lloyds manifesto for SME’s is titled ‘Helping Britain Prosper’ and we are committed to provide £1bn of net new lending to SME’s every year, as well as helping 100,000 new ventures start up.

First impressions are very important to Steve. ‘Depending on what author you follow on the subject, we are likely to make our mind up on someone in less than a minute. Remember your parents saying to you ‘you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression? Its true’.In order to build rapport and get a positive outcome from your meeting, you have to generate interest and excitement in the banker's mind. They will be interested in your passion, but passion alone won't be enough: they want to see your energy, enthusiasm and your plans to make your business a success.

Here are the sorts of topics you should cover in your explanation about your business in a meeting for a business loan

  • talk about your expertise and your passion and why you think this business will be a success
  • explain where your idea comes from
  • explain your chosen market and its size
  • talk about the potential product range
  • describe the formation of the business ie shareholder agreements, share holdings etc
  • give them assurance and confidence regarding affordability using interest rate iterations to look at different scenarios.
  • convey your expectations and forecasts for the short (6 months), medium (12 months) and long (3 years) term including what ‘bumps in the road’ you may encounter
  • think about some questions for the bank and be prepared for "what if" questions like: what would happen if interest rates went up by 2%? 
  • make sure that you have practised your ‘pitch’ before you meet the bank. Practise it with friends and family and get feedback. Don’t try to ‘wing it’ on the day.
Steve goes onto say ‘its about preparation, its about that first impression, its about the confidence and articulation, its about a viable business idea and its about you. We genuinely want to help and sometimes that will mean helping at the ‘pre meeting’ stage so as to ensure that you give yourself the best possible chance on the day. We provide start up and ongoing mentoring and can help signpost individuals and businesses through our network of contacts, to deliver a win:win outcome for all’.
If you'd like help to prepare for your upcoming meeting about a bank loan, speak to Adelina Chalmers on how to make a compelling pitch. 

How to present without memorising your talk

posted 23 Mar 2015, 02:44 by Unknown user   [ updated 23 Mar 2015, 02:46 ]

When you give a presentation that is in the style of 'tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you have told them', it means that you have to remember a list of abstract things that you want to convey to the audience unless you use PowerPoint as your crutch and write everything down on slides, typically boring everyone to death.

Alternatively, the best thing you can do is to work with what comes naturally to the brain which is to tell a story.  So all the content of your presentation - no matter how technical it is - should be wrapped up in a story about how you came up with it, why it's important and what a difference it makes.  If you really understand these three concepts about the information you are trying to convey, it will come naturally to you.  

Another practical thing that I do, is organise the content in a story structure and then I write this story outright, a couple of times. Then, I try to say it naturally a couple of times.  I don't look at it again.  I don't memorise it.  I just say it outright.  And then I bullet point the key stages that move the story on from one part to the next.

Once you have done that, I guarantee that you won't have to memorise anything.  It will be very clear in your mind what it is you are trying to convey.  And that will come naturally if you have sorted out the story already.  It's because our brains are wired to tell stories and the best thing is - your audience is wired to receive stories and remember them.


Terrified of public speaking?

posted 18 Mar 2015, 06:11 by Unknown user   [ updated 25 Mar 2015, 02:49 ]

If your heart beats faster than ever, your palms are sweaty, your hands are shaking and you have butterflies in your stomach before public speaking, you are not alone.  

Did you know that Richard Branson had the same problem?   He decided that the best way to get over his fear was to image the audience as his friends and he is having a chat with them in his living room.  

This correlates with the advice I give my students about telling a story in presentations.  If you tell a story you don't have to worry about remembering abstract data, which means that it is very unlikely that you will freeze.  But also, if you imagine you are telling your friends a story you'll note that your brain is very used to that.  We tell hundreds of stories every day.  By contrast, your brain is not used to being put on the spot in front of, say 300 people.  

So, turn it around.  Imagine being in your living room with your friends telling them your story about the topic you want to convey.

How to build credibility with your audience

posted 11 Mar 2015, 03:43 by Unknown user   [ updated 23 Mar 2015, 02:57 ]

A common error in public speaking - particularity in the academic world - is to list the people you have worked with and the projects you have worked on.  Instead, sprinkle information about these throughout your presentation. People don't remember lists, they remember stories.

To build credibility try these two steps :

Step One
Think about and write down your answer to ...
What you are trying to achieve by presenting to this audience?
What impression are you trying to leave in the audience's mind?

Step Two
Think about and write down your answer to ...
Who is the audience?  
What do they want?  
Why are they listening to you?
What information can you give them to make you credible and to leave the impression you want?  

If they are in industry they are going to care about other players in their industry you have worked with, the cost savings you made for them or how easy it was for them to implement your proposed solution.  They are not going to care about academics you have worked with, for instance.

By contrast, if they are academics they are going to care about other universities you have done work with, papers you have written, or journals that have published your work. They are not going to care, necessarily, about the industry you have worked with.  So, it's always about the audience and what you are trying to achieve by talking to them.

Start your presentation with a sweeping statement or a few interesting sentences or questions relating to the problem you are solving in your presentation by saying some shocking results you got during your research or project.  That will give the audience a very quick idea if  you are worth listening to for the rest of the presentation.

Answer 3 questions to help you decide what to include in your presentation

posted 4 Mar 2015, 09:37 by Unknown user   [ updated 16 Mar 2015, 03:38 by Adelina Chalmers ]

In every training session I hear people saying, "I’ve got so much to say, how could I possibly condense this into a ten minute presentation?"

In reply, I suggest they answer these three important questions:

1. What is it I want to achieve as a result of delivering this presentation?

2. What is it my audience wants to get out of listening to my presentation?

    Who are they and why are they here at this event listening to me rather than being somewhere else doing something fun.

3. What information can I give them to make them do what I want?

If, for example, your audience is made up of academics, they will be interested in the thoroughness of your methods, in how you found out the information and your results.  If you are talking to industry, then they want to know how much money your work can save them.  How much faster is this going to be compared to what is done currently and how easy is it going to be to implement it in their current systems?

Your presentation might have two different audiences – fellow academics and industry, for instance.  Naturally, they won't be interested in the same information.  If they make up the same audience, you have to decide which group you are going to talk to – one or the other.  You can’t speak to both at the same time because you won’t speak effectively to either of them.  You might as well not bother.

How to make a successful VIVA presentation

posted 2 Mar 2015, 01:39 by Unknown user   [ updated 16 Mar 2015, 03:37 by Adelina Chalmers ]

Adelina enjoys training university lecturers, professors and PHD students to hone their presentation skills and works regularly at Cranfield and Cambridge Universities.  Her sessions with PHD students are frequently about helping them get great results from their VIVA presentation and there are some common mistakes that appear time and again.  

These common mistakes made delivering VIVA presentations are:
  • they don't start with originality - explain why this research is original
  • they use generalities, the assessors are interested in specifics.  For instance, talk about the techniques you've developed and how much faster they are than the current ones.
  • they don't give a before/after scenario - if you don't have consistent results, you could say 'in the best case' we achieved an improvement of X times in speed/growth/cost/time, giving specific examples of what you did and what you achieved by doing it.
  • they don't describe the methodology - explain how you got those results because your audience wants to understand their validity before you tell them. 
These points might help you adjust the emphasis of your VIVA presentation, after all, you only have on average 10 minutes.  You have to be selective with what you include.  I hope this helps you do just that.  Good luck.

Networking for Introverts – Tips to Save you Time and Energy

posted 2 Mar 2015, 01:21 by Unknown user   [ updated 2 Mar 2015, 06:33 by Adelina Chalmers ]

The traditional advice on networking is “talk to as many people as possible and gather as many business cards as you possibly can in the shortest amount of time”. I am an extrovert and I played that card for many years – for me this is fun and it fills me with energy – but it does not necessarily create deep, meaningful work relationships. Plus, if the scenario above feels like your worst nightmare, it’s probably because you may be an introvert.

What is the difference between an extrovert and an introvert?

An extrovert loves (and is energised by) being out talking and interacting with people most (or all) of the time; many concepts they have in their mind are not real until talked out with someone else.

An introvert is almost the opposite. If you find that talking and being with people all the time drains you physically and mentally, if you like to think things through for yourself first and don’t necessarily feel they have to be validated by talking them out with other people, if you are energised by being alone and prefer sitting in a quiet room reading a book rather than being out with other people, you are definitely an introvert!

See the difference between the two? Then, if you are an introvert, how on earth are you going to network, to get yourself and/or your business known if being out and talking with lots of people drains you?!

There are some tricks you can use to not only survive, but succeed as an introvert in an extrovert’s world.

Your first priority should be conserving your energy. Without it, you can’t do anything else anyway! The way you conserve energy (when it comes to networking as an introvert) is by changing the way you meet and network with the people relevant to you and the way you manage relationships to suit you:

1.     Instead of networking blindly at a meeting and exhausting yourself, focus on meeting Connectors – those are people who know a lot of people relevant to you and your work and for them networking is a hobby, not a drain! If you get to know 5-10 connectors you won’t need to meet many other people as these connectors will be able to put you in touch with pretty much anyone you need to know. This means instead of talking to 30 people and feel like you are going mad, you only have a lunch here and there with 5 people who are key! Connectors usually have over 500+ connections in LinkedIn and/or perhaps over 2,000 followers on Twitter.

2.     There are also ways you can meet lots of people without it being socially demanding, without you having to go out and meet them.

Here are a few tricks:

Make a Blog about your area of expertise: this way you can become known to a community of people who will know you and may even approach you at events.

Write articles in trade magazines: find a few magazines in your area of expertise that you are interested in and start sending them articles, in time you could become a regular writer and another group of people will get to know you.

Public Speaking: give as many presentations as you can, every time someone asks you to speak, take the chance! You will become known by the people who are interested in the sort of work you do. If they come to talk to you immediately after the speech, suggest arranging a time/day to discuss another time being it by email, phone, or whatever your preferred form of communication is – so that you can carry on the conversation on your own terms, and when you have the energy to do so. If you want tips on public speaking as an introvert, read these articles, or come and practice for free at a Terrified of Public Speaking Workshop organised by Presenting Good Practice & CUTEC.

If going to a networking event and you know there will be a few people you’d really like to meet, there are 4 things you can do:

1.     Start the conversation with them before the event online via social media or email. This means when you meet face to face you have a “history” and you already seem familiar to them.

2.     Read as much as you can about them beforehand: their LinkedIn profile, their Twitter feed, Facebook page and/or (do they have a) blog? All these may give you insights into the world from their perspective, the things they are concerned with or what they may need at the moment, their future plans or places where they’ve worked in the past that perhaps you may have in common? All of these are potential conversation starters and it could mean you can predict most of the topics of your conversation with them.

3.     Make a list of questions you’d like to ask them and perhaps the key points you remember about them, this way you can remind yourself of these a few moments before you approach them face to face and you feel less anxious about talking to them.

4.     Start the conversation by saying: “Hello, I’m John (state your name), we were in touch via email/Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn”. 

As an introvert, you may prefer to go to networking events (or conferences, seminars etc) as a last resort, so if you DO have to go to an event and you don’t know who is going to be there but you want to meet a few people, here are a few tricks you can use:

1.     Don’t go in the crowd to meet people randomly, it will exhaust you! Instead ask the Connector to introduce you to people of high value to you. Tell them a specific issue you have or specific type of person you’d like to meet.

2.     If you don’t know a Connector yet (if you are reading this article, you know one already, I am one!),like a wolf attacking a flock of sheep, look around the room and see the people who are alone, not talking to anyone and perhaps standing in a corner, looking a bit lost. Approach them by simply saying: “Hello, my name is …”. My husband is an introvert and when we went to a TEDx conference together he was shocked how I went around meeting the whole crowd simply by approaching each person with “Hello, I’m Adelina Chalmers”. He started copying my approach and discovered it also works for introverts! When you approach them like this, people naturally feel obligated to tell you their name and start the conversation. If you are both introverts (and probably if you start talking to the person standing alone in a corner, they are very likely also an introvert) you could find yourselves spending the rest of the evening talking and finding out quite a lot about each other, thus building a lasting, deep working relationship, not just a cold business card exchange where no one remembers the next day who that person was.

3.     Don’t immediately go for kill and ask “what do you do?”. Instead ask them how they heard about the event or something else that could spark common interests.

4.     Instead of networking with lots of people at the same time which will drain you, invite people out for lunch or a drink one by one. This way you can get to know them better and find out about their work in more depth and instead of a simple contact, you will develop a deeper professional relationship.  This does not mean that every single lunch you have available you should invite someone out as you soon will find yourself exhausted mentally and physically and it will be worse than networking in big groups.

5.     If you’ve had a lot of conversation but feel you need to stay for longer although are feeling a bit drained, there is nothing wrong with escaping to somewhere quiet (even a toilet) for a few minutes to have a break.

Remember, you should always try to use your strengths to achieve any goals! This means that if meetings and talking to lots of people exhausts you, there is no point forcing yourself to do it and network “the old fashioned way”. Be smart and use your strengths, as an introvert you may enjoy more writing or reading than talking, so use those skills as a way of networking and meeting people suitable to you and your work. Good luck!

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