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Increase the effectiveness of your training.

When it comes to learning, it has been shown that the more senses that are involved, the better you learn – regardless of your so-called “learning style.” For instance everyone learns better when they’re moving. Motion engages more parts of the brain. So does emotion. Showing, telling, doing, storytelling, visuals, sounds, smells all aid in the learning process.

There were studies done where the researchers separated subjects in a room into three groups. The first group got information through one sense only – example, hearing. The second group was limited to another sense, say sight. And the final group was exposed to both sight and sound. This third group always did better. They had more accurate recall, and their problem-solving skills improved. The combination of senses was always greater than the sum of their parts. Here are a few ways to engage the senses.

The use of stories in training.

Roger Shank, a cognitive scientist, says that humans are not set up to understand logic; but are set up to understand stories. Facts are readily available on the Internet as well as in your workshops. What matters, according to Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind, is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.

Facts and suggestions, no matter how logical or practical they may be, are frequently ignored or forgotten. But include these same facts in a true story or example, enriched with emotion, and people can immediately relate, remember, and frequently put into practice. Stories are essential to the learning process.

Demonstrations aid the learning process.

Demonstrations, especially when they actively involve the participants, are effective teaching tools. For example, when explaining prioritizing and the 80/20 Rule, I sometimes make the point by tossing 80 one-dollar bills and 20 twenty-dollar bills on the floor. (I use phony “Dollar Store” money; but if you’re wealthy, the real thing has an even greater impact.)

Then I tell a couple of volunteers to pick up all they can in 5 seconds, picking up only one bill at a time. Most people zero in on the twenties. But they don’t actually do that in their own jobs or personal lives when it comes to the important projects & tasks.

Know your participants.

Getting individuals involved even before the actual training, generates more interest, lends credibility to the training, and assures that you deliver information and strategies relevant to their needs.

If training people in time management, for instance, you might develop a time waster checklist or a survey sheet to identify their problems, and ask for their objectives in taking the program.

For a more complete discussion of this topic, refer to my eBook, “How to increase the effectiveness of your training,” published by Bookboon.com.

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Procrastination or intentional delay?

In a regular chess game you would be foolish to make it lightning fast move when you have the time to think over the possible repercussions of such a move. But in hockey, deliberating for any length of time over whether you should pass or shoot could mean a lost opportunity to score. There are situations that call for quick action and ones that call for delay.

In hockey, you wouldn’t call the lost opportunity to score due to passing instead of shooting, procrastination. It might be better described as an error in judgment or even a wrong guess. But in either case, the player’s action was a result of an earnest intent to get a goal for his or her team, not the result of inertia, disinterest, a lack of motivation or fear of making the wrong decision. Perhaps an older, more experienced player would make the correct decision; but then again, a younger more experienced goalie might stop the park regardless.

Similarly in business, there is a time for action and a time for delay. But if you delay in responding immediately to a derogatory or sarcastic email rather than snap back with an equally unflattering response, you wouldn’t call that procrastination. You would call it intentional delay. There is a time for quick action and a time for delay, depending on the situation. Launching a new product before first doing adequate market research is not procrastination. Neither is editing a manuscript before submitting it to a publisher or rehearsing a sales presentation before visiting a prospect. Delay is sometimes essential to success.

Probably more problems are caused by making decisions too quickly than by waiting too long. This is especially true in this digital age of speed, when we are being urged to think fast, act fast and make split-second decisions.

This “act now or else” mentality puts one under undue stress – the consequences of which could far exceed that of a lost sale or other missed opportunity.

Frank Portnoy, author of the book, “Wait: the art & science of delay,” not only believes that technology is speeding up all our decisions in an unhealthy way, but also has researched the impact of delay and has found that people are often happier and more effective in their decisions when they do delay – and even when they procrastinate.

I’m not in favour of procrastination if you define it as putting off something that requires immediate attention. But there’s nothing wrong with intentionally delaying something if you feel it would be to your advantage to do so.

It’s important for us to think before we react so that we are at least aware of the possible consequences of our actions. It also gives us time to “cool down” (such as the case of replying to an infuriating email message) and to have peace about our decision. In other words, be effective, not reactive.

Being impulsive and cause problems – especially in this hyper-connected world where people can become addicted to speed.  Practising self-discipline, on the other hand, can improve over time.

Continually putting off an important decision, even though you already have sufficient facts to make an informed decision, is procrastination. Even if there are no dire consequences of doing so, it produces a certain degree of anxiety, and delays any benefits derived from the decision. And delays in this case are likely motivated by an unwarranted fear of making the wrong decision or being overwhelmed by busyness or simply not wanting to do what the decision would require one to do as a result.

But there is nothing wrong with leaving something until a more convenient time if it’s not imperative to do it now. That’s simply intentional delay for a good reason. Don’t put yourself on a guilt trip every time you do this.

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Let the rest of your life be the best of your life.

Every goal you set, by definition, is in the future; but life occurs in the present. Don’t be so focused on what you are aiming to accomplish that you miss the joy of living in the now. There is an old anonymous saying, “The work will wait while you show a child the rainbow; but the rainbow won’t wait until you do the work.”

Life is a precious gift. What a shame if you’re too busy to fully unwrap it. Don’t let “Enjoy life” be the last item on your “To do” list. What’s the sense of having it all if you only have time to enjoy a little of it?

Susan Pinker, (www.SusanPinker.com) author of the book, “The village effect,” is a developmental psychologist who is spent 25 years in clinical practice and teaching psychology at Dawson College and McGill University. Her research concluded that our human connections have a huge impact on our well-being and physical health – even to the point of extending our lives. She claims that women live an average of six years longer than men because they tend to prioritize spending time with friends more than men do.

The full benefit is only achieved through person-to-person contact, not through social media, email or texting. Pinker says that face-to-face interaction (even making eye contact, shaking hands or giving high fives) lowers your cortisone levels and releases dopamine, making you less stressed and giving you a little high.

One of the most important things in finding true happiness and meaning in our lives, according to author Emily Esfahani Smith (“The power of meaning”) is a sense of belonging – having people in your life who truly love and care about you.

Staying socially engaged affects your cognitive functioning and keeps your cells from aging too fast. Research indicates that the more social connections you have, the greater your ability to fight infection and keep your cells from aging too quickly.

Relationships are protective against dementia and Alzheimer’s, lengthens your life, and help you cope with traumas such a serious illness or loss of loved one.

Isolation, on the other hand, can have a negative impact on your health, and people who feel lonely are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The very things that make us thrive – relationships, nature, exercise, and healthy eating – are at risk if we continue to focus on creating a better life for ourselves and not leaving ample time to enjoy the one we already have.

The best time of your life should be right now.

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Customer service in the age of speed

In one the first books I wrote over thirty-five years ago titled “Making time to sell,” I told the story of how a successful advertising salesperson explained his secret of selling advertising space by saying that he was a “six-minute salesman.” In those days, at least, a major hurdle was just getting to see the prospect. He would do so by promising the prospect that he would only take six minutes of his or her time. “Seven,” he would add, “if you ask questions”. The prospect was usually impressed. He didn’t really want to see the salesman, but this he had to see!

When the appointed time came, the salesman would walk into the prospect’s office, place his wristwatch on the desk and start his presentation.

The salesman claims the time urgency put him in control of the meeting. It also forced him to pare down his presentation and make every word count. The prospect was indeed impressed, appreciated the respect being shown for his time, and generally took more than the six minutes just asking questions. In fact, the prospect would usually detain the salesman well beyond twenty minutes – yet would not have agreed to see the salesman at all if he had actually asked for twenty minutes or more of his time.

Selling skills have increased dramatically during the last thirty-five years, while time management skills have remained the same. There are certain principles in conserving time just as there are basic principles in selling. They may not be applicable to all selling situations, but it may pay you to review them. There are hundreds of books on effective time management, including a few of my own.

A poorly organized, unplanned, rambling presentation eliminates some of the inroads made by the company through advertising and promotion, thus wasting the company’s time and money.  And the prospects themselves may be missing a great opportunity to increase profits, cut costs or improve service.

If you are a professional or operate a business where the customer comes to you, don’t keep them waiting. A certain amount of waiting can’t be avoided – especially in the case of doctors, lawyers, accountants and so on. But research shows that customers perceive waiting time to be less if there are signs to read in your waiting room – or anything else that will keep them occupied. Always have something to read such as current magazines and signs as well as Wi-Fi. If appropriate, TV and a play area with toys for kids would also be a plus.

Waiting time also seems shorter if customers have someone to talk to. Paco Underhill, in his book “Why we buy,” recommends taking care of the customer within two minutes. This is not always possible; but any waiting without contact over a minute and a half creates time distortion in the minds of the customers.

Time waiting after initial contact seems to go faster than the same amount of time spent waiting before the interaction. So acknowledging that the customer is waiting tends to relieve time anxiety. It is a good idea to acknowledge the customer when they first arrive and at least every five minutes thereafter.

Even giving the customer an estimate of the waiting time is better than nothing. Underhill claims that being told the wait would be about two minutes makes an actual four or five-minute wait go faster.

In a supermarket or in some retail store situations, a single line leading to the cashiers ensures that people are served in turn. And impulse items placed where the line forms, not only distracts from the wait, but is also smart merchandising.

Customers hate waiting in line, and stores with long line-ups at the check-outs frequently encounter abandoned carts containing merchandise.

This “want it now” syndrome was evident in the studies described in Martin Lindstrom’s Buyology book. Students were offered either a $15 Amazon gift certificate right away or a $20 gift certificate in two weeks. They chose the $15 certificate. The students’ brains were scanned as they were made the offers, and the “$15 right now” offer caused an unusual flurry of stimulation in those areas of the brain responsible for our emotional life.

This could explain the popularity of such services as overnight delivery, instant Kindle book downloads, and express checkouts. So keep in mind that it might pay you to use priority mail for shipping, for example, where the packaging is provided. Or courier – even though it’s more expensive to do so. You could also build the shipping cost into the price of the product.

Time does make a difference to the customer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reading this article could kill you.

Not really. But it did get you to at least read the first line, didn’t it? And did I detect a sigh of relief as you did so? Some people’s curiosity exceeds even their fear of death.

This illustrates the importance of a title when writing a book, article or promotion piece.

Even a weekly blog article deserves a well thought out title. Many of us, myself included, will tack on anything that even hints at the topic – assuming people will read it anyway. After all, once they start reading they’ll realize the value that’s awaiting them.

Not so. Unless you’re some famous expert on the topic closest to their hearts, which you and I probably aren’t, they won’t give it a second glance. There are too many articles out there and too little time available. And if you spend an hour or more writing an article or a day or more writing and e-zine or a month or more writing an e-book, why would you not spend at least a fraction of that time ensuring that your product at least gets read?

The heading or title should do more than simply grab their attention. It should identify the contents to convince the readers to keep reading. Ideally it will be concise, informative, and convey the essential message of the text that follows.

As Karel Rakusan of the University of Ottawa suggests in an editorial on the importance of titles, carefully weigh every word as though it were a $5 million, 30-second commercial during a Super Bowl, costing $167,000 per second.

In the case of a blog post, your title is the most important marketing tool you have. It is what will appear in search engine results, links, and social media sites.

In books, a title is also a marketing tool. It could grab the attention of the publisher and ensure your book is read and ultimately accepted for publication. In the case of self-published books, the fate of the book could be determined in large part by its title. It’s the first thing potential buyer sees upon spotting the book in the bookstore or on your website.

If you do work with a publisher, don’t pressure too much to have your own working title accepted. Publishers have more experience than the rest of us on what would generate sales. “Gone with the wind” might not have been as successful as the original title, “Tomorrow is another day,” and “The great Gatsby” might have bombed as “Trimalchio in west egg.” I had my original 1981 book titled “Managing yourself with respect to time“ since it more accurately defined the essence of time management. But with the publishers changing it to “Making time work for you,” it became a Canadian bestseller.

If your title can be read and understood quickly, contains a benefit or promise to the reader in an area of obvious interest, and is composed in such a way that it is unique or at least “catchy,” you have a great title.

If you can trigger emotion as well, it is a winner.

Techniques available to you include posing a question, being controversial, and using power words. To do all of the above and still keep your title brief is a challenge. But don’t forget, you still have the use of a subtitle as a backup.

But never forget that your article or book has to deliver whatever the title promises. So this article just didn’t make the cut.