5 Communication Tips for Designer Makers and Craft Stall Holders this Christmas

By | December 13th, 2013|Body Language, Featured, Presentation skills|

I’m a big fan of  designer-maker open showroom craft-fair Christmas market pop-up things, and relish the chance to get all my gift requirements for the festive season directly from the artists themselves at events like cockpit arts  open studios or the delightful Crafty Fox Market. I ran a workshop recently for some new start-ups and a few were considering the Christmas fair/craft stall option. We discussed several ways to ensure shoppers engage with the stall and of course purchase their wares and I thought it would be useful to share them here:

  1. Stand up. You may well be slightly nervous on the day and standing allows you to dissipate the nervous adrenalin that can beset us. It also shows your shoppers that you are keen and enthusiastic to meet them, as sitting creates a distance between you and the stall and can make shoppers feel as if you aren’t bothered to talk to them.
  2. Check your body language. Remember than one of the appeals of the “meet the maker” concept is that you actually get excited about meeting the maker. A scowly, arms crossed designer may fit the popular perception of the tortured artistic genius but you’ll notice that more people are shopping at the stalls where they feel welcomed. Take a moment before the day to close your eyes and check your body for tensions and try to have a strong, neutral posture. This way you’ll come over as open to meeting your customers.
  3. Small talk. Try not to jump in directly with a sales message but instead engage the shopper with chit-chat about the event (really busy isn’t it?) or ask them where they got their lovely Christmas jumper.  People just love to talk about themselves and this is why they come out to shop instead of staying at home and ordering on-line.
  4. Stay Positive. Yes this may be the year that you need to make the repayments on your kiln or your studio. But try as best as you can to keep the desperation out of your conversation. People prefer to purchase from places that make them feel positive, and are less likely to be moved to a sale by a sob story. So when asked “how is business” have an up-beat or memorable story to tell them about what you’ve been making rather than whipping out the P&L and asking for a bridging loan.
  5. Smile. As with the body language above humans respond well to a cheery smile and it makes them smile back, releasing endorphins into their bloodstream and making them more likely to purchase. Shopping is a well-known mini-high so your smile can encourage a purchase and everyone is a winner.

I’ll be on the look out for good examples of craft stall sellers who communicate well this weekend and will share them on twitter @loisireson Happy Trading!

 

Are PMQs a good demonstration of Authority?

By | November 14th, 2013|Authority, Blog, Body Language, Leadership, Perception|

“PMQs are basically a modern form of cock-fighting, and not a show of great leadership”

So said Stein Ringen last week in a very lively Royal Society of Arts lunchtime lecture entitled “What is Power”. His talk centered on the misconception that power gets things done and reminded the audience that “there is more to the doing than the bidding it be done”; that power actually lies in the ability to persuade and authority is contained in the willingness of those who are led to be persuaded.

Stein’s talk was so good I even bought his latest book  “Nation of Devils – Democratic Leadership and the problem of Obedience”(nicely available outside the talk with a chance to get it signed). But the last mention he made before the end of his talk was the one that made me think the most.  He wondered aloud if party leaders ever looked back at the footage of PMQs after the Wednesday debate. If so he stated that they must be embarrassed to see themselves as two grown men shouting at each other. He likened it to a modern form of cock-fighting: a good spectator sport but hardly an impressive show of real authority.

We sometimes watch PMQs as the body language employed is fascinating.  It is an excellent barometer of leadership confidence and the swagger or display of the leaders can often look like two cockerels before a fight.  But in some ways that reminds us that the power of these leaders lies in the hands of those who carry out their decisions.

We would never advocate some of the bellowing and braying tactics as valuable transferrable skills to use in the boardroom. Shouting over others opinions and derisory guffawing at another’s suggestions are unlikely to increase your authority at work and thus will diminish your power of persuasion to get things done.  Are PMQs another reason why voters are often said to be losing faith in politicians because what it actually demonstrates is a lack of authority and control?

Thanks to the RSA for organising such a fascinating debate, looking forward to reading the book.

Stein Ringen’s book “Nation of Devils – Democratic Leadership and the problem of Obedience” is out now.

In the spotlight,expect your body language to be under scrutiny

By | August 2nd, 2013|Blog, Body Language, Featured, Perception, Performance|

We were lucky enough to get tickets to the Anniversary games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium on Saturday. It was an amazing day, with great weather and a festive atmosphere as the entire stadium leaned forward to make sure the athletes felt our support.

One of the highlights of the anniversary games, especially for my young daughters, was a chance to see Jessica Ennis-Hill in action. Her achievements in 2012 and the positive role model that she presents make her a media favourite and with that comes pressure. On the run up to the Olympics the pressure was immense. She was after all ‘the face of the games’ and the whole country wanted her to win. Which she did. But does that release the pressure? No, it can make it worse as long as you are still desperate to win.

When you are in the spotlight you can’t avoid your body language being scrutinised.

On Saturday inside the stadium the giant screens showed the athletes being presented before their races and on a screen split showed parts of races being completed. However for Ennis-Hill her every movement seemed to be projected onto camera. Whether she was chatting to the other competitors under the awning during the long jump or coming over to chat to her coach there was a camera focusing in on her every move. So we saw smiles and waves but we also saw giant screen shots of a bottom lip being bitten or a concentrated frown after an attempt. I’m sure this added to the coverage that came the day after such as this.  Someone else who knows what media scrutiny after success is like, Usain Bolt, almost seemed to court the camera as he was warming up back stage, joking with the presenter and sending the message with his body language that he was relaxed and ready.

You couldn’t help but wonder how things might have gone if the attention had been better shared around. Katarina Johnson-Thompson won the Long jump but her jumps were barely on the big screen, with her last being during one of the men’s track races.

As you start to do better in whatever discipline, be it sport or presenting at work you will naturally be under more scrutiny. For leaders this means you will be watched by your team even when you are not ‘on stage’. Appearing calm and assured for the annual meeting and then acting slouchy and slumped at a direct reports meeting can cause your team to suspect all is not well. 24/7 scrutiny is not pleasant and nor is it fair. But people do make judgment calls based on how your body language yourself so be ready for it. This is just as important when we are offstage as on.

Load More Posts