An Effective Negotiator is a Good Manager

A management opportunity occurs when two or more people have a conflict . Whether it is a barroom brawl or settling a dispute those who take the initiative will typically prevail. Unlike a fight where blows are thrown, in a negotiation the combatants typically must feign civility and control. In the absence of absolute power, initiative and leadership are among the most reliable tactics used to win.

Those involved in a dispute comprise a small group and respond to group dynamics. They need to be managed. Mediators are effective in settling disputes because they have the mantle of authority. They take control and manage the settlement process. Negotiators should adopt certain mediating techniques.

How does one take control of an informal group? By exerting influence and demonstrating leadership traits. This can be done by initiate the call to arrange for the meeting, offering to host the meeting where you will have the ability to perform administrative tasks through your staff for the group, and preparing and presenting (or have on the table) an agenda for the meeting. These seem like small things but they demonstrate your confidence, your can-do attitude, and your control of the environment. All that is left is for you to control the discussion. That is not as easy. But you will have made a good start.

Managing a negotiation requires you to delegate responsibilities not only to your co-negotiators, if any, but to the other side. This delegation of assignments serves not only to get the job done but also to give everyone a vested interest in the outcome. A mediator advances the process by directing and delegating the participants in a mediation. This process serves to make both parties valuable to the process, more equal in their respective statures, and, ultimately, more likely to be able to come to reach an agreement.

In a negotiation, group participation can have a similar impact. That is, by getting both sides involved in working together, the resulting ‘attitude’ should be more supportive of reaching a mutually viable accord. To get two people openly at odds to work together start with simple tasks that are unrelated to the primary issue. Suggest the other person come with you to the coffee room to help get the coffee, cream and sugar. Another approach may be to suggest methods of sharing information, “If I can explain to you how I have valued the property will you demonstrate to me your cost basis?” This gets the parties involved in valuing a piece of real estate by working together. It calls upon each to be an expert in their own right.

Managing the negotiation process will enable you to settle more conflicts. People, for the most part, want to be led. That is human nature. By making small decisions easier for them, they will be inclined to go along with you. In the process, you are becoming an informal group leader. That leadership role should pay off when you have reach the final decision and need to get the other party to sign the agreement document or commit to the deal.

Presenting Baby Gift Baskets

Thinking what baby shower gift to present to a baby shower is a bit challenging, especially if you are a newbie or not yet a parent. There are several things you have to consider, which often causes some kind of a dilemma for many givers. You have to think of the important things that the parents will probably need to care their little one. Also, you want to present something that is attractive. Both may not go hand and hand always, thus you have to take some time and effort to plan for it in advance. Luckily, there is always a gift basket you may consider both for the parents-to-be and baby. Baby gift baskets often come in attractive and generously offer numerous essential things to care the baby.

Baby gift baskets are available in various styles, designs and themes. It is certainly fine if you don’t want to focus on practical baby items. You could also go beyond traditional items and get creative. A baby gift basket may be presented at a baby shower or directly given at some other time, before or after the child is born.

There are many things that can be included in a baby gift basket. Items like diapers, baby bathing products, toys, baby dishes, nursery furnitures, baby outfits, baby travel gear, formula, blankets are among the most common that are often included in baby gift baskets. Feel free to add extra surprises like including an extra present for new mom and dad.

If you want to make your own baby gift basket with a theme, the first thing you need to consider is the type of container you want to use as a basket. Actually, there are several good containers that can hold a number of baby items, like a traditional wicker basket; baby bath tub; laundry basket; or even a bucket. You can then decorate your chosen basket according to the baby’s sex. Otherwise, you have to think of making a gift basket that is gender-neutral if the gender hasn’t yet known.

Themed gift baskets are great if you want to focus on a specific gifting idea. There are themed gift baskets that are limited to baby bathing products, baby dishes and recipes, layettes and clothing, nursery furniture, or educational baby toys. Whichever you want to present, that is sure to impress the mom-to-be.

There are lots of online stores that specializes on various baby gifts, including baby gift baskets. You can also find personalized baby gift baskets which will allow you to add a personal touch onto your chosen one. A personalized gift basket will let you present something that was personalized with the child’s name or monogram, if there is already. Personalized items that may be included are embroidered blankets and outfits, engraved silver cups, engraved picture frames, personalized toys and the likes. Aside from names and monograms, you may also include a date or even a short line of poem. There are personalized ribbons, as well as cellophanes that can be customized to make a perfect package. You can apply a personalized packaging if you want to.

Improving Presentation Skills – Lessons Learned From the 2009 Web 2.0 Conference

I was not at the Web 2.0 conference but like many, I’ve read the twitters, blogs, and articles that sprung from Danah Boyd’s presentation. In watching the video of the event on YouTube and reading Danah’s own blog post on the incident, there are several lessons we can learn that will make all conference speakers – with or without Twitter – better, more effective presenters.

But first, before addressing what presenters can do, a quick shout out to the conference planners. The idea of having the Twitter stream become part of the frontchannel – streaming live behind a presenter (such as Boyd had as she presented) – is not a good thing. Regardless of how much we’d like to believe we modern humans are “super good” at multi-tasking, the fact is, we’re not. No one can read and listen at the same time. That’s why a bullet-filled PowerPoint slides is so naturally annoying! So for those of you with the power to determine such decision: leave the backchannel in the backchannel!

And now, back to the original point, what are the mistakes Boyd and many of us make and what can we learn.

Mistake #1 – The Presentation is about Me (the Presenter)

One of the errors that many presenters make is to think the presentation is about them. It’s not. It’s about the audience. In Boyd’s case, she was giving a new speech, rather than using the tried and true speech she’d given many, many times before. She says in her blog “Personally, I love the challenge and I get bored of giving the same talk over and over and over again.” While she later justified the decision as being good for both existing fans and new audience members, I suspect that she really just wanted the change for herself.

The Fix

Be willing to repeat the same speech you’ve given over and over again if that’s what’s best for the audience. But if you believe a new speech is in order than follow these steps.

Preview the speech in front of a friendly audience.

Make sure it’s not the first time you’ve presented the material publicly, particularly if it’s a high profile event. Present to a group of colleagues, family members, or a good Toastmasters club. Ensure your friendly audience includes people who are willing to provide you with honest feedback. The individual elements of Danah Boyd’s Web 2.0 speech were interesting but the overall speech had no framework, no indication of where this topic was going. And because she was going so quickly, and mysteriously, the Twitter chatter started. Getting feedback from a friendly audience would have given Boyd a clue that if she didn’t modify her approach, her audience was going to be lost.

Rehearse religiously

While dedicated rehearsal is no guarantee that you’ll not be nervous or stumble over a word or two, it sure can go a long way to having the kind of delivery that you want. With Boyd, the fact that she stumbled over several key words within the first two minutes of her presentation hinted to me that she did not adequately rehearse the speech. And from the sounds of her normal approach, it doesn’t feel like she rehearses her speeches. Quoting Boyd again, “The dirty secret is that I actually read a lot of my talks but the audience doesn’t actually realize this because scanning between my computer and the audience is usually pretty easy. So it doesn’t look like I’m reading.”

Actually, I beg to differ with Boyd on this point. I’m guessing that her audiences know she’s reading when she has her screen in front of her. Rehearsal tells the audience that you care about the presentation. And when you don’t rehearse – whether reading or not (and please, please don’t read!) – the audience knows it.

Mistake #2 – Not Arriving Early and Previewing the Speaking Location

From Boyd’s blog, “I only learned about the Twitter feed shortly before my talk. I didn’t know whether or not it was filtered. I also didn’t get to see the talks by the previous speakers so I didn’t know anything about what was going up on the screen. When I walked out on stage, I was also in for a new shock: the lights were painfully bright… Taken aback by this, my talk started out rough.”

Because Boyd didn’t arrive early, she found things out as she went, rather than having time to think through and prepare herself for the unexpected.

The Fix

Arrive early

For an in-town engagement, visit the venue prior to the meeting. Ask the meeting planner or the facility’s staff how the location will be set up on the day of the speech. Arrive at least an hour early, preferably more, and test out everything. Test the microphone – and always use a microphone in a large room, even if you think you’re loud enough – do this for the audience’s comfort, not yours. Test the lights – know whether or not you’ll be able to see past the first row. If you won’t see past the front row, then get a feel for where the seats are so that you can look at the parts of the room where chairs will be located. This will help the audience feel like you’re making eye contact, even if you can’t see them. If possible, ask for the house lights to remain up so you can see the audience. Check out getting on and off the stage. Watch for small cracks that you could get a heal stuck in and wobbly hand rails that aren’t attached to the stairs. Find out which side of the platform the steps are. Check out the stage to see if it squeaks – that’s something you don’t want to be distracted by during your speech if you didn’t see it coming. Check out that the audio video equipment is working for slides and videos you plan to show. If there’s something you don’t expect (such as the fact they won’t be able to project your slides) then you’ll have time to adjust for a different approach without the PowerPoint deck.

For an out-of-town engagement, you’ll want to arrive the day before your speech (to hopefully avoid issues caused by flight delays). Repeat all the same action above, preferable the day before when the room’s not being used, or before the events begin in the room for that day. Make sure you have plenty of time to figure out a fix if there are any problems. Have back up plans to your back up plans. Use the conference or venue staff to help you adjust for the unexpected. Be a boy-scout – be prepared.

Mistake # 3 – Assuming the Worst

During the Web 2.0 conference, Danah Boyd sensed something was happening in the audience, and immediately went to a bad place. You can see it in her face when you watch the video. The way she glances at the audience between reading the lines of her speech definitely changes during the speech. When she went off stage, she learned the truth about what was happening on the Twitter stream. Said Boyd, “The Twitter stream was initially upset that I was talking too fast. My first response to this was: OMG, seriously? That was it? Cuz that’s not how I read the situation on stage.”

Like many of us, if things don’t go the way we expected that they should, we assume the worst. Those worst-case assumptions can cause us to turn ugly or to retreat into ourselves – both of which make the matter worse. Things are rarely as bad as they seem.

The Fix

Remember – the audience thinks you’re doing much better than you think you’re doing

Most of us know the speech we wanted to give. And when a speech doesn’t go as well as we imagined it, we feel like we’re failing. But here’s the thing — it doesn’t matter what we think as a speaker. What matters is what the audience hears as listeners. If you are speaking at a conference with a live Twitter stream (backchannel or frontchannel) plan for that in advance. (See Olivia Mitchell’s excellent e-book on the topic at http://bit.ly/14T7wb.) Have someone monitoring the tweets and plan in breaks to check for simple fixes like “she’s talking too fast” or more serious chatter like multiple tweets and retweeks asking to cover a certain aspect of the topic. That will help you as a speaker ensure you’re meeting the audience needs, and keep you from spiraling out of control when you’re getting an unanticipated response from the audience.

The Twitter backchannel can be an extremely powerful tool when used correctly. It’s wrong to think that people are rude because they have a tool like Twitter where the feel they can get away with it. The truth is, in the age before Twitter and still today in non-technology conferences, people have had and are still having the same negative thoughts when a speaker is focusing too much on themselves and not on the needs of the audience. The difference between what Boyd experienced and the no-Twitter environment is that the only people a dissatisfied non-Twitter audience member can complain to are themselves and the people sitting next to them. Twitter gives people a tool to complain more widely. What Twitter can do for speakers is give us another avenue to get feedback from the audience so we pay more attention to their needs. If the Twitter backchannel isn’t there, and if you’re being a self-centered speaker, rather than an audience focused speaker, the results are the same – a dissatisfied audience – just fewer people know about it!