I was talking to a new coaching client just the other day. When we came to the end of the conversation she said “I want to say that you’re really simple Liz – but that’s not what I mean!”. I suspect my family would have something to say about that.
She went onto say “what I mean is that you bring clarity to the conversation” – I think that’s the bit I’ll share with my family.
Given my work with VoicePrint, I take that as an enormous compliment.
Clarity is what VoicePrint is aiming to bring to all conversations – clarity of both intention and of how we articulate that so that conversations can be as productive as possible.
Meetings. That key component of the working day, week, life. I don’t know about you, but I very often find myself in a meeting. Quite often, I find myself in that meeting, wondering what I am doing there.
So, I asked my team some questions.
Do you feel like you spend a lot of time in meetings? Yes. They really do.
Is it usually clear what the meeting is for? Well, no, only sometimes.
How can I have more influence? It’s an important question in a crowded, noisy, competitive world.
In theory there are many sources of power and influence: position, expertise, association, reputation, and of course wealth, if you’re lucky enough to have it. But most of these are difficult to acquire and highly dependent on the support or goodwill of others. Yet there is one source of influence that is uniquely within our own control: the power of the spoken word.
A common recommendation on how to improve meetings is to ensure that they have a clear agenda. Other bits of good advice then include sticking to that agenda and making sure that you deal with the most important items first. But here’s a further suggestion that can make a huge difference when it comes to making meetings more productive.
As a coach I’m often asked to have a ‘chemistry meeting’ with a prospective coachee.
Chemistry Meeting is a phrase that has come into fashion in recent years, but it’s never been very clear what it actually means. This piece offers some clarification and some advice.
Personally, I find the notion that you can ‘have’ any sort of meeting rather strange. It suggests that meetings are something you can possess, rather than what they really are, which are somewhat unpredictable interactions created as they go along by the people taking part. Meetings are essentially dynamic, their qualities emerge from the process; we should not expect their outcomes to be fully within our control. So when someone says, ‘It’s my meeting,’ that doesn’t give them control; it only gives them the primary responsibility for facilitating the interaction to make it productive.
vp-adminHow coaches can make Chemistry Meetings useful
A look at the Voices at Work for a Hotel Receptionist
Claire is a hotel receptionist. She works in the West of Scotland, but listening to what she is saying, you could be in a hotel lobby anywhere in the world.
‘Good afternoon, how can I help?’
‘I need the credit card you intend to use and I need you to sign this form here and here.’
‘If you’re planning to dine with us this evening, may I suggest you make a reservation, as the restaurant is expecting to be quite busy.’
The Inquire, Direct and Advise voices: the stock-in-trade of the hotel receptionist’s interaction with guests.
This is speech which might sound too straightforward to hold much interest. But when you pause to reflect on what makes it seem so ordinary, you start to notice how it highlights important features and differences in how talk can be used.
This is the latest in our series of blogs about helping young people to find the voices they need. It takes the form of an interview with Junaid Hameed, a school student and alumnus of the English-Speaking Union’s public speaking programmes. It shows how teaching oracy skills can develop the range and impact of a young person’s VoicePrint profile.
vp-adminLiteracy and Numeracy are not enough – we need Oracy too
Duncan Partridge is a VoicePrint Practitioner with a particular interest in developing the communication skills of young people.
His expertise lies in the fields of International Education, Teacher Training and Educational Leadership. An experienced teacher himself, with first-hand experience of working in Africa, South America and Western Europe, he was formerly Head of the Halcyon London International School, shortlisted for the Innovative school of the Year Award by the Times Educational Supplement.
vp-adminDuncan Partridge – International Educationalist & VoicePrint Practitioner
Duncan Partridge, Director of Education at the English-Speaking Union, on how being more aware of our speaking styles can help us to communicate more effectively
We are living through an age where we’ve never had more information or more opportunity to debate the issues of the day. At the same time, somewhat paradoxically, many would say that the quality of public discourse around the world is at an all-time low. Why is this?
Has overload led to dysfunction? Are we living in digital echo chambers where we only ever hear our own views repeated back to us? Or are we becoming naïve and passive consumers of information, manipulated by peddlers of fake news and sophistry? Whatever the case, perhaps a more important question to ask is: what can be done about this?
vp-adminIt’s the way that you say it: young voices in action
Each of us has a personal but largely unconscious profile of ‘voices’ which shapes the way we talk and the impact we make. We each favour some voices, and often over-rely on them, while neglecting others.
The effect is not only to leave us less versatile than we could be and need to be, but also deaf and blind to our own inflexibilities and to the consequences of some of our actions.
By bringing your personal pattern of voices, and its impact on others, into conscious awareness, VoicePrint makes your personal, inter-personal and organisational skill-set more complete, more agile and more effective.