The Apprentice 2015 Week 2 – Versatile Boys Are Head & Shoulders AboveThe Girls

The Apprentice 2015 Week 2 – Versatile Boys Are Head & Shoulders AboveThe Girls

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Week 2 of this year’s competition started with Lord Sugar introducing gender-based teams. This resulted in builder Brett Butler-Smythe leaving the girls with the awful name he introduced – Connexus. The irony  of this name was plain to see, as the girls were anything but united. The boys became Versatile.

In recent years we have seen that the early gender-based teams can throw up interesting contrasts in approach. It is no different this year, with bitchiness and high emotion seeming to define the girls. The boys have at least worked out that they need each other and to work together. It’s not that they always agree and that there aren’t egos on show, but the approach is more passive-aggressive than the outright aggressive of Connexus.

The task this week was a traditional branding exercise, with both teams trying to market the same cactus-based shampoo. Unfortunately the girls got in a lather and PM Aisha Kasim was fired. This was hardly a surprise, as she was one of the most extreme examples of the Autocratic leadership style that can be seen in a one hour television programme!

For the boys, Marketing agency director, Richard Woods gave an impeccable demonstration of leading from the back with a style apparently so Democratic that Karen Brady questioned whether he had recently read a management text book. This was a bit harsh, but Richard expertly demonstrated the art of leadership; involving others, encouraging discussion, but gently nudging the team to his vision. Given that marketing is his area of expertise, it was no surprise that Lord Sugar described their product “Western” as one of the best examples of doing this exercise in the whole history of the series. A simple idea, well executed and produced in a classy bottle.

This is not to say that Versatile were not without their faults. The pitch led by Account Manager Scott Saunders was awful. His decision to wing-it backfired badly. Unfortunately, this is no surprise to anyone teaching Presentation Excellence; the old adage of “Preparation, Preparation, Preparation” still holds. That said, the stodgy pitch from Account Manager Natalie Dean (is there a pattern here?) was so boring it was unbelievable. Natalie admitted later that she did not believe in her product, and she gave a master class in how our body language conveys our internal thoughts much more than the words we use (see the work of Albert Mehrabian).

In the end, the boys won by a country mile. They were better at every step of the branding process, and Richard did a fine job as PM (although fellow Marketer David Stevenson resented not getting more credit for the TV advert he directed. In fact, he executed the PM’s vision in the most obvious example of Richard nudging the team’s direction).

p033wp1rIn the boardroom, Natalie was lucky to survive for owning up to not believing in the product (the crime of Corporate Disloyalty), but Lord Sugar questioned why social media entrepreneur Vana Koutsomitis was brought back. This sealed the fate of PM Aisha and she was fired. It is hard to disagree with this decision.

Going forward, the girls need to sort out their differences, or they are unlikely to win any tasks.

 

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The Psychology behind Pitching to Dragons

The Psychology behind Pitching to Dragons

This week the BBC aired an insider’s guide to successful pitching on Dragon’s Den. They came up with a six point plan for success. Here’s the psychology behind each of the points;

  1. Create an impression. It has been shown that we make a judgement within 30 seconds of meeting someone for the first time. So we have to get it right. We need to grab their attention, and our dress, poise, and confidence rather than gimmicks are needed to create the right impression.
  2. Practice makes Perfect. There is no substitute for practice, and the more you can simulate the environment you will present in the better prepared you will be.  Practice prepares the subconscious mind for what to do, as well as the conscious. This is crucial for “programming success”, a crucial NLP technique.
  3. Keep your nerve. When teaching presentation skills, I always emphasise that the audience will not know you have made a mistake unless you let on. If things don’t go as planned, so long as you are prepared (see point 2), you can adapt what is going on into your presentation.
  4. Don’t offend your audience. Obvious really, but it is easy to react to a challenge from the audience. Remember the first rule of good customer service – the customer is always right (even when they are wrong)! Acknowledge what the audience has said, but don’t disagree. After all they have a right to their point of view even if you don’t agree with it. Lose the battle, win the war.
  5. Be Passionate. Remember Mehrabian. People look to our body language and tone of voice to determine whether to believe us or not. It may not come naturally to us, but if we can’t get passionate about our message, product or service, why should our audience?
  6. Be honest and credible. See point 5 regarding body language, but this is also about not making claims you can’t back up. It also takes us back to point 2 – practice. Good preparation means anticipating what your audience will want to know and how to give it to them.

So, there it is! All you have to do to be successful with your pitch. On the programme Kirsty Henshaw was identified as having give na master class pitch.

This first clip (about 3 minutes in) shows Kirsty’s pitch.

The next clip shows how Kirsty used the Q&A to get  positive outcome

How referee body language affects the perception of performance

How referee body language affects the perception of performance.

I recently watched the new documentary “The Referees” which follows a number of FIFA referees through the Euro 2008 finals. The film is a great record of the stresses and pressures put on the top officials in the modern game at the highest level. It also reveals some mighty large egos!

As a referee at a local level, I can identify with the challenges of getting it right in every game. The film gives some insights into what is in the minds of the officials at key moments in games as we can here their miked up conversations. Yet the top officials keep their doubts (for the most part) hidden. How do they do this? Through confident non-verbal communication.

In the Empire Magazine review of the film, the reviewer says the defining shot in the movie is “an Italian linesman practising his flag-waving in front of a dressing room mirror. Absolutely priceless.” The reviewer has got it completely wrong. The assistant referee is actually checking that his flag technique is clear, unambiguous and, most importantly, delivered with confidence. Every decision that assistant gives is going to be scrutinised. He has to convey that he is absolutely sure of the decision (even if some of the conversation we hear suggests he is not).

Check out this clip of research into what footballers want from a referee;

 

The research confirms that players want the referee to be;

  • competent
  • dependable
  • respectful

Notice how players decide on this based on a number of verbal and non-verbal (mostly visual) clues. This is consistent with the work of Albert Mehrabian, who showed that body language and tone of voice are the most important factors in someone hearing the right message and,crucially, believing, it.

So, how do we do this? Here are a few tips to help;

  1. Make strong eye contact when you are speaking to a player.
  2. Once you have made a decision, be quick and clear with your flag or hand signals.
  3. Talk to players as you expect them to talk to you – be firm but respectful. Never swear. Use your tone of voice to convey authority, not arrogance.
  4. Where you can, give players clarification on your decisions, but state this as fact from your point of view. Don’t allow your doubts to surface. Then move on, whatever you have decided it has gone.

Follow these few rules and we can all be perceived as more competent, dependable and respectful referees. Whether we are or not depends upon accurately knowing and applying the Laws of the game.

Influential communication – does body language matter?

The fundamental purpose of influential communication is to persuade others to behave the way you want them to. This has numerous applications in sales, marketing, leadership and management. A key question in trying to do this is “does body language matter?” The simple answer is “yes it does!”

The Social Styles model was developed over 40 years ago and has been refined and expanded since that time. Social Styles can be used to influence the behaviour of others, and at the heart of this model is the reading and adaptation of behaviour; first our own, then that of other people. But where does the evidence come from that adapting body language is important?

Back in the 1970s, a researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles identified the importance of body language to verbal communication. Now, the work of Professor Albert Mehrabian has often been misquoted and used to explain / justify much beyond his original work, but the gist of what he found is as follows: getting our message across to other people is about much more than just choosing the right words.

In fact, Mehrabian showed that words only contribute about 7% to the effectiveness of communication, with tone of voice (38%) and body language (55%) being much more important. In particular, it seems that we need more than just the words to decide whether we believe the speaker (or even to decide if they believe what they are saying ).

That is not to say that the words are unimportant. Change the words and you change the meaning. However, the words are not enough on their own.

Still not convinced? Well, just think about how the intent behind the words becomes more ambiguous as we move from face-to- face communication, to telephone, to e-mail and txt!

Notice that according to Mehrabian, over half of the message we take from verbal communication comes from reading body language. Now, most of this is going on at a subconscious level, but it does make sense. For instance, we are able to discern possible danger to ourselves by interpreting body language, and this has been a vital survival mechanism throughout human evolution. You disagree? Well, next time you see someone coming towards you with a bloody knife and a deranged expression on their face what will you do; take precautions, or wait to confirm your worst fears with a simple verbal, “do you intend me some harm?”

So, body language does matter and Social Styles allows us to maximise the 93% of communication that Mehrabian says is vital to understanding and influencing other people. Clearly this is key to successful sales, marketing, leadership and management.

Learn more about Albert Mehrabian