Texting Do’s and Don’ts in the Workplace

Texting may be acceptable when you:

• Want to schedule a meeting or check someone’s availability.

• Are asking or answering a simple, single question, espe- cially when only a yes or no answer is required.

• Have an emergency that has kept you from work.

• Will be late for an appointment or meeting.

Don’t text when you are:

  • Having a long, two-way conversation. You should pick up the phone or talk face-to-face.
  • Writing long, complex questions or long answers.
  • Angry, aggravated, annoyed, or upset—the messages you send could be misunderstood For example, what does it mean if I include this emoticon 🙁 in my text message? Am I sad, upset, angry, or irate?


Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 4: Business Writing. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Powerpoint – 7 Tips

Although Microsoft PowerPoint is a useful tool and the standard for most presentations, its overuse can do more harm than good. Avoid common pitfalls by following these suggestions:

  1. Use separate slides to emphasize your key points.
  2. Include no more than two-dozen words per slide.
  3. Never read directly from your PowerPoint screen. Don’t use the words on the screen as a crutch.
  4. Choose a font large enough for your audience to read without binoculars.
  5. If you have a lot of details to convey, provide a separate document (printed or electronic) after the presentation.
  6. Don’t overload your PowerPoint presentations with links to videos, cartoons, music, or other graphics. If you include any of these features, thoroughly test the technology and have a solid back-up plan if the internet connection fails.
  7. If you turn off all the lights, your audience may nod off. Instead, turn off only the lights nearest the screen, so the en- tire room isn’t dark.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 5: Public Speaking & Presentation Skills. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

The Best Resource for Mastering Public Speaking

When it comes to mastering public speaking, there is no greater resource than Toastmasters International(TM).

Toastmasters International offers its members a venue for practicing communication and leadership skills. Clubs meet regularly and members fulfill different roles at each meeting. There is a proven curriculum of increasingly more challeng- ing topics, techniques, and formats. Fellow club members evaluate speeches for each other. They also give support and encouragement to speakers of all abilities. Toastmasters In- ternational has grown to 14,650 clubs in 126 countries since its founding in 1924.

I encourage you to join Toastmasters. Each club has its own personality, so visit several clubs to find the one that best suits you. Visit the Toastmasters International website to find a club near you.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career

Practice Your Delivery of a Speech or Presentation

Practicing a speech or presentation is the key. Here four tips for improving your delivery.

  • Practice a full-length speech using a video recorder at least ten to twenty times. How many times should you practice? The answer is simple: As many times as it takes to master your content.
  • Ask someone to count the “ums,” “ahs,” and “likes” you use. These are filler words and they can kill a good speech. Be comfortable with the sound of silence. Or, use a video/voice recorder and count the filler words. You may be surprised.
  • Visualize your audience and the room in which you will de- liver your speech.
  • Prepare for possible interruptions and distractions such as a ringing cell phone, a microphone or PowerPoint failure, or people who arrive after you’ve started.

This is Part 2 of a post about public speaking and presentation skills. Read Part 1 here.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career

Why Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Matter to Your Career Success

You may be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t speak effectively, no one will know it. Your managers, peers, colleagues, customers, clients, and investors will judge your skills and abilities by the way you speak.

If you are one of those people who are deathly afraid of public speaking, you are not alone. Many studies say that people rank the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of death. Jerry Seinfeld said it best: “At a funeral, the average person would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy.” You may say that it isn’t fair or accurate to judge a person’s professional abilities by the way they speak in public, but that’s the way it is. Many things in the working world aren’t fair. Like it or not, you will be judged by the way you speak.

You might hope to avoid public speaking as part of your job. If you chose to be an accountant, software programmer, or in- vestment banker because you believe that as long as your debits and credits balance, your software functions, or your deal closes, you won’t have to speak in public. That could not be farther from the truth.

Job function doesn’t matter. Your role in an organization doesn’t matter. Your ability to express your ideas, thoughts, and opinions verbally will have a great impact on your career. You will still need to sell a product or service to a customer, rally your team to take action, persuade a business partner to adopt your viewpoint, convince an investor to invest, or argue your case before a jury.

Next week, read Part 2 of this post, “How to Practice and Improve Your Delivery”

This is an excerpt from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career

Reading List – The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition by Strunk & White

Why read this book? Truth be told, you probably won’t read this book cover-to-cover, but it is an invaluable reference tool. This is the standard reference tool for all English-language writers. Consider keeping a copy in your desk. There is a related online resource at Bartleby.com that allows you to search for rules by key word or browse the full contents of the original 1918 ver- sion of this book—all for free.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 4: Business Writing. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

Handwritten Notes in a Digital Age

Handwritten notes are simple, inexpensive tools that ca help you establish and strengthen business relationships. This tool is effective because it is so rarely used. Your hand-written note will get noticed because it’s likely to be the only one a person received that day (or month)! A handwritten note is memorable. And after all, isn’t that the point?

Following are some key points, especially for handwritten notes:

  • Use good quality stationery. A monogram is fine, as long as it’s professional.
  • Use your best handwriting.
  • Make the note personal, within a business context.

When is a handwritten note appropriate?

  • To thank a co-worker or peer for extra effort on a project.
  • To congratulate a customer or a client on a personal milestone such as the birth of a baby, a child’s graduation, or a promotion.
  • As a follow-up to an email thank you. It’s nice to also send an additional, handwritten message that arrives one to two weeks later.
  • After meeting someone at a networking event, industry program, conference or trade show.

In our highly digitized world, using hand written notes will help you be noticed.

How many millions are in a trillion?

Do you know how many millions are in a trillion? According to Econ4u.org (Employment Policies Institute), only 21% of the people in a national poll answered the question correctly. That’s not good. You definitely want to know the answer to this question and here’s why. . .

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/4428480]

Read more

Teamwork – There is no “I”

In November of 2012, I wrote a blog post about the culture associated with Tough Mudder– the obstacle courses designed by British Special Forces to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie (see A Muddy Corporate Culture). I also discussed the need to understand the culture of your organization.

This past November, I participated in my first GORUCK Light. Fellow Georgetown alumnus, Jason McCarthy is a Special Forces veteran and launched GORUCK events to prove the quality and durability of the rucksacks he was selling. The story of how Jason built this company is very interesting, especially for entrepreneurs (or entrepreneur-in-training). Read more

15 Things Successful Professionals Do: Part 3 of 3

And here’s the final installment of the 15 point list. . .

11) Persevere – You will encounter many challenges in your career.  Your response to those challenges will say more about you than your successes.

Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try. ~YODA, Jedi Grand Master

12) Communicate with confidence – Communication via the spoken and written word are one way to demonstrate your professional abilities.  Practice public speaking and perfect your writing skills, until you far surpass your peers—the bar is usually not that high.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. ~Mark Twain

13) Display humility – Demonstrate humility and personal accountability in your career and you’ll never go wrong.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self. ~Ernest Hemingway, Author

14) Be flexible – As a recent graduate or new professional, be flexible in your career path.  Build career skills that transcend your current function, role and industry make you invaluable in the marketplace and provide more opportunities.

Change is the only constant. ~Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

15) Make connections – Networking is a key professional skill.  If you focus on what you can do for others, networking won’t feel like a chore.  Your efforts will be rewarded in what you’ve given and what you will receive.

Dig the well before you are thirsty. ~Chinese Proverb