Why Good Presentation Matters

Does good presentation matter? History suggests that strong communication skills play an important part in success. For example, have you noticed how often a person you thought you knew as the inventor of something turns out not to be the first person to come up with the idea. The person you know as the inventor is often the person who was best able to communicate the idea to others; the one who persuaded others to invest in the idea or convince people of its benefits; the one who could get their ideas heard and their key messages received and understood. Good presentation matters.

It’s funny how what we are willing to accept as good presentation appears skewed in different situations. When we go out for a meal with family or friends we expect good presentation. It doesn’t have to be Michelin star quality, but if the food is just thrown together on the plate it looks unappetising and we find it much harder to enjoy the experience and in more extreme situations just feel unable to eat the food. On the other hand, food that is well presented is far more likely to encourage us to enjoy the experience and seems to taste better.

When you are out shopping, the way products are presented to you has a significant impact on the choices you make and the products you buy. The science behind retail merchandising (presentation) is fascinating. If you walk into a shop and feel the displays are untidy and product is scattered all over the place you may well walk straight back out. Interestingly, if you are in an antique shop, you might actually really enjoy the seemingly random presentation as it gives you a sense of excitement that you might find that hidden gem and be able to retire to your own private island.

Every day, we are presented with examples of why good presentation matters. So why do we not carry that principle over to our business presentations? Goodness knows that presentations are now a major feature of business life. The internet is awash with suggested numbers of daily PowerPoint presentations. 30 million a day appears to be the most common, before you add in Keynote for Apples users and Prezi for cloud users, and the myriad of other software choices available. We don’t need to debate the numbers. It is fairly reasonable to accept that the number of presentations given every day is huge. The real question is how many of them are good presentations? Instantly, you will all know from personal experience that the number is likely to drop dramatically.

Our experiences as audience members are frequently not a good ones. The common presentation pitfalls persist, such as far too much information, too much detail, font sizes designed for an opticians chart, too many slides, bullet point overload, reading the presentation, monotone delivery style. The list is endless. Why do we appear to accept this poor standard of presentation when we know how much good presentation matters? Generally, time pressure is one of the most common excuses I receive. We typically work in a fast paced, pressurised environments and much like the poor food example mentioned earlier, our presentation ingredients are thrown together using the tried and tested ‘cut and paste’ technique. We also believe our wisdom is self evident and so our audience can’t fail to ‘get it’. Of course, if that were true, retailers would not need to throw so much time, money and effort at how their products are presented.

Good presentation really does matter. It is one of the key skills that helps successful people stand out from the crowd. It doesn’t need to be an all singing and dancing extravaganza. All it takes is the consistent application of clear and straight forward principles and approaches.

Salary Negotiation Recipe

The interview is going well, you’ve jumped through the hoops, and it’s time to talk about salary before concluding the deal. What should you do? Simple: take the following 6 steps and get more money and greater respect from your future employer.

1. Accept Negotiation

You have to accept that salary negotiation is a normal part of the interview. There are several reasons you might not want to negotiate: you feel uncomfortable talking about money or trying to put into money terms just how great you are. Or, you might need the job badly, and don’t want to risk not getting it by asking for too much money. However, if you negotiate, and do so with the right attitude (step 6 below), your employer’s basic human nature will make it more likely that you will get hired, and hired for more money.

So what is the basic human nature of your employer? First off, people who are in the position to hire anybody negotiate already all the time. They won’t think negotiation is inappropriate or in bad taste. Secondly, negotiating about your salary shows confidence in your skills and in your person, and the employer will simply consider you a better candidate because of it.

Think of the negotiation in real money terms: the work that you are doing when negotiating, a few simple minutes of conversation, could mean thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary over the span of a few years of your career. It’s all there, you just have to have the courage to ask and initiate the process.

Finally, go into the negotiation with a concrete idea of what salary you would like to get. Do research on what they company pays, or what comparable positions pay, and specify to yourself a definite number that would make you happy and that you think you have a chance of getting. Otherwise, it’s easy to quit at the first offer and say to yourself, it’s acceptable. A definite goal will make you try just a little bit harder during the negotiation.

2. Get the Employer to Make the First Offer

You’re past step 1: you’re willing to negotiate. What do you do when they ask you, “What do you expect in terms of salary?” Simply, try to deflect the question. Get them to make the first offer. Tell them that you don’t really know how much they pay, and that you wish they would tell you what they think is a fair offer.

If they make the first offer, you might be surprised by how good it is. If the offer is low, lower than you expected, you should bracket: make a counter offer that is as far away from your target salary as the offer that they made (for example, you would like to earn 75K, they offer 70K, so you suggest 80K). Many people feel that splitting the difference is the fair thing to do, so even though they might scoff at your high offer, you will wind up with the amount you were hoping for.

In case of a low offer, you can also complain and plead without making a counter offer. Say that you’re surprised and you think what they’re offering is really low – you don’t know what the true salary is, but you couldn’t accept the job at this rate. Make this simple statement, then shut up. Let them pick up the conversation, and they will usually come back with a better offer.

Finally, quote some competition. Whether or not you have other offers, you can give them a concerned look and say, “I really like this position, but I have to tell you I think the salary is low. I was offered [some amount] just last week at [some other company]“. Again, make the statement, and let them take up the negotiation.

3. Otherwise, Give Your MPP

Sometimes, the employer refuses to make the first offer. He might be a seasoned negotiation hound, or might have some other stubborn reasons. What to do when you are absolutely the one who has to go first?

In this case, you should start with your maximum plausible position (MPP). The MPP is the highest amount you could possibly ask for with your qualifications and for the position you are applying for. How can you know what this is? Again, do some research beforehand. Talk to friends. Chances are, the MPP is much higher than you think it is.

An important thing to add is that, when your MPP is uncertain, you should make the offer with an implication of flexibility. Say something like, “From everything I know about what [company X] pays for [position y], I think [some amount] would be fair”. Making the offer in this way, even if it is too high, makes it possible to negotiate further.

4. Make Other Trade-Offs

In case the salary gets stuck at a level that you think is low, and you feel that there’s no hope of making the employer budge, you can still force other concessions that can make the overall package better. First off, say that the offered salary is less than you expected. Add that you are willing to accept it at present, if the employer is willing to agree to negotiate a raise in 3 months. You can also ask for reduced responsibility, for less working hours, or for other benefits like a paid phone (in case you don’t already get it), a gym membership (if the company offers it otherwise, but not to you), or that they should consider your commuting costs as part of your working time.

It’s critically important to accept their offer conditional on these other concessions. If you accept the offer first, the employer has no incentive to give you anything more.

5. It’s Smart to be Dumb

Play dumb during the salary negotiation. Specifically, take time to think things over, ask for explanations, ask for things to be repeated, show your surprise at low offers, and plead naively for a higher salary. If there’s no satisfactory agreement in the end, ask for time to consider the offer instead of making the decision on the spot.

You’ve already proven your expertise for the job. Not being authoritative during the salary negotiation won’t hurt; in fact it will help. First off, it will diffuse the competitive spirit that comes along with negotiation. Second, it will give you more time to think, and to get into the negotiation rather than nervously accepting any offer because you want to appear confident. Finally, it might make it easier to negotiate by getting into a bit of play-acting.

6. This is the Right Attitude

Finally, when you make your salary demands, be firm, be convinced, but don’t be arrogant, and don’t get combative. It’s important to maintain this attitude even in the face of possible theatrics that the employer might put on. When they roll their eyes in disbelief at your MPP, or they seem to get angry that you are challenging their offer, ignore this – it is as much a part of the negotiation game as all the things you are doing. Ignore the emotional displays, and focus on the offers and concessions that are going across the table. Keep working towards the amount you set out for yourself, and you’ll soon have a new job with a better salary.

Christmas Presents: How To Buy Gifts That Will Be Treasured

Buying Christmas presents can be a very daunting task. After all, no one wants to come across as thoughtless or unappreciative of their relationships with people.

Here are some tips to help you come up with more thoughtful Christmas gift ideas, so that your presents will be cherished and treasured.

First off, you should definitely plan early. As Christmas gets closer and closer, stores sell out of merchandise and last-minute shoppers are stuck with leftovers. You don’t want to come across as thoughtless or unappreciative of your relationships with people, so planning your Christmas gift ideas ahead of time is an absolute essential.

Another one of your primary thoughts to consider should be your relationship towards the gift recipient, and what your budget is going to be. It might sound simple, but it really will help you focus on your Christmas gift ideas.

Think about your recipients’ interests. If you’re not sure, then pay attention when you talk with them. Put effort into listening to the little things that they casually say, and you might come up with some amazing Christmas gift ideas.

For example, if they offhandedly mention that they are going to a basketball game, take note of it. Basketball-related merchandise might be a great present choice that you would have otherwise not thought of.

If possible, go shopping with the recipient. Even if they are shopping for somebody else, this can be very beneficial. Take stock of the things that they look at and mentally mark them in your head. This is one of the easiest ways possible to come up with Christmas gift ideas.

Ask people. To begin with, you can ask the recipients’ friends or family. They might be able to tip you off to some great Christmas gift ideas, or possibly even want to pool their time or money together with yours and upgrade the present.

You can also ask salespeople. These are the people that deal with the public on a daily basis, and likely know the Christmas gift ideas that are popular with certain demographics. Even if you want to get a personalized present, this can be a great way to get some Christmas gift ideas.

There’s also the option of asking your recipient. Have you ever heard the saying, “A good surprise lasts for five seconds, but a good gift lasts forever”? A lot of people will appreciate being asked; not only does it make things easier for you, but they know that they are getting something that they actually want.

When you put some of these ideas into action, it will become a lot easier to come up with more thoughtful Christmas gift ideas. After all, you do want your gifts to be cherished and treasured by the ones you love.