Every week The Cutting Edge Japan Business Show brings the best and most up to date information on doing business in Japan. The host of the show, Dr. Greg Story is the leading expert on business in Japan and best selling author of Japan Sales Mastery and Japan Business Mastery.
208: Dress For Presentation Success
There is an old saying about lies, damn lies and statistics. An often misquoted statistic in the presenting world is that 55% of your impression on an audience is based on how you are dressed. Some coaches are advising on this basis and it is only partially true. Professor Mehrabian’s research at UCLA did nominate that particular percentage, but he did so with an important caveat. When what we are saying is not congruent or matching with the way we are saying it, then the audience gets distracted and starts focusing on how you are dressed 55% of the time. When he published that research there were no uber powerful thermonuclear distractors like we have today, in the form of smart phones. These instruments of presenter attention destruction are rapidly connecting us with the internet and whisking us away from the speaker.
If we are doing our job properly as speakers we will not be losing our audience. One of my team attended a presentation I gave recently and she reported to me that the audience members were listening to me all the way through. That is what I thought too, because the entire speech had me focused like a hawk on my audience, to make sure I was holding their attention. I don’t mention this to say what a smarty pants I am, but just to highlight how difficult it has become for all of us to hold an audience today.
My style of presenting is extremely high energy. My karate training background has taught me how to harness my “ki” or “chi” and channel it to the audience. I still have pretty good tonal variety so I can really work on keeping the audience with me. The downside of all of this is that I generate a lot of heat. Often when we are presenting on stage there will be spotlights trained on us and these can make us feel very hot as well. When I am getting dressed that day,
I always make sure of a couple of things for my presentation. A white shirt is an absolute must. I love my blue business shirts, but what I found was the heat generates sweat around the neck area, especially when wearing a tie. That lovely light blue shirt can become two tone. The collar becomes wet and changes to a darker blue. This is distracting for the audience who are sitting there saying to themselves, “Oh look at that, he has a two tone shirt now!”.
The other thing I pay careful attention to is never doing any presenting unless I am wearing a jacket. There are probably few things as unattractive as a speaker wearing only a shirt, lifting up their arm to reveal a very sweaty armpit area, that runs right down the side of their body. Most unappealing and again very distracting to an audience. I keep my jacket on, buttoned up, the whole time like a suit of armour. I know that my shirt is soaked during the speech, because of all the heat I am generating. It goes without saying, that an ill fitting suit creates a poor impression. The way the collar of the jacket sits on the neck tells you everything. If there is a wide gap between the two, this creates a sense of pattern interrupt and your audience gets distracted by it. Also save your bright coloured jackets for a party. A bright red jacket works well for a magician, but not so great for a speaker. Always look for ways to make your words conspicuous, rather than what you are wearing.
Sometimes we are asked to be a speaker on a panel. This can be tricky. We are usually seated up on stage in front of the audience, so there is nothing separating us from the viewers. When men cross their legs, if they don’t know what they are doing, we get a very unfortunate close up of their hairy ankles, shins and calf muscles. Short socks work when you are standing, but are a danger when you sit. I always wear long socks right up to the knee, to spare my audience the brutality of my hairy legs.
I am quite daring when it comes to wearing bright ties. I leave them at home though when I am presen
207: Entrepreneur Top Requirements
There are many things which impact an entrepreneurs success.
Usually, when we think about how to succeed in our own business, we favour things like sufficient cash flow and capital. This is absolutely true, but this is a product of decisions we have already taken. We need to focus on the core drivers of the company's success. There will be certain businesses where technology alone makes it work, but these are rare. For the rest of us to be successful, we need three critical skills: the ability to master our time, to clone ourselves and to be persuasive.
How we spend our time is the most high value resource we have. More than money, it makes or breaks our business. Poor time control leads to inefficiency, wasted efforts, stress and missed opportunities. Entrepreneurs are geniuses at trying to do too much. This means they are run ragged with time demands and no good solutions.
This has to be turned around and time gotten under firm control. Start with a simple audit of where you allocate your time now. Create a spreadsheet and track your time usage in 30 minute blocks for a week. Brace yourself for a huge shock. Next compile a list of what needs to be done by you and rank the items in order of importance. Compare the time audit reality with your prioritised task list of what you should be doing. You can’t be bothered doing this? Wake up! When you do this analysis, the gap between where you are now and where you need to be will be massive.
Take your list and this mantra: “I can’t do everything on this list everyday but I can do the most important thing”. Each day take that list and re-work the order, deciding the number one priority for your business and complete that. Next, you take number two and work on that, etc. If something crops up, well change the priority order, but stick to the discipline of doing the highest value item first.
Being so busy is a result of not having trusted people around us to whom we can delegate. We must get leverage through our team. But we don’t. We cannot find the time to develop them, so we are stuck like a rat on the treadmill. Don’t be that rat. Don’t let projects stagnate, things fall through the cracks or important work not get started. Also don’t get carted off to hospital with angina, a stroke or ulcers.
Getting a better grip on your time will create space to spend on training your key people. Don’t fluff the delegation process, because you are clueless on how to do it. Don’t just dump stuff on people, expecting them to magically get it and somehow be able to come back with excellent work. Stop dreaming, it won’t happen.
Have a meeting with the delegatee, where you explain the task in terms of how this is designed to help them grow and succeed in the business. Talk in terms of their interests not yours. Help them to lead the design of how it should be done, have them take ownership and then monitor the milestones to make sure they are on track. Praise them on the way through, not just at the end and have a celebration when they complete the task.
Inspire. Investors, potential new staff, valuable existing staff, clients, all need your persuasive ability to impress and keep them happy. If you are an unclear, unimpressive speaker, it is hard to get people to believe in you and follow you. You can be a tyrant, but let me know how that is working out for you? Honey does better than vinegar, when it comes to communicating with people. You will never work it out on your own. Get the necessary speaking training and stop kidding yourself.
These days there is no excuse to not be persuasive. There is plenty of knowledge and experience available about what works best. All we have to do is make the time investment needed and we can avail ourselves of all of this applied wisdom and knowledge. I recommend the High impact Presentations course – the Rol
206: Nemawashi Is A Key Skill In Japan
Understanding the basics of Japanese business requires we have to know about nemawashi and what it means for us.
Nemawashi is a very important word in Japanese. It is made up of two words “ne” which means root and “mawashi” which means to wrap around. Or wrapping up the root. A good translation however is “groundwork”, usually associated with a decision or a meeting. In Japan they can move 15-20 meters trees from one location to another. They dig down, cut the tap root, bind up the root ball, get a big crane, put the whole tree on a truck and transplant it to another place. Quite amazing.
That nemawashi represents preparation before the tree gets moved. In business the same things apply. We want a certain decision to be taken so we prepare to influence the direction that decision will take. We might be dealing with a client or within our company. Japan doesn’t leave anything to chance. Prior to the meeting, you meet with the other people who are going to attend the meeting and you try to get their agreement with what you propose. In this way, the decision is taken before anyone gets in the room. The meeting itself is just there to formally approve what has been decided beforehand.
In a Western context, we would make the decision in the room. Everyone would turn up expecting that there will a discussion, some debate and final decision will be reached during that meeting. In the Japanese case, they will already have made the decision, so if you want to influence the decision you have to start early. It is no good leaving it until the meeting itself, because that will be too late and the decision will have already been taken.
If it is a client company, you need to work with your internal champion to get the decision makers to agree with what you want to happen. Usually the decision you want is that the client uses your product or service. As an outsider you won’t be in the meeting, but you have to help your champion to be persuasive with everyone when doing the groundwork or nemawashi. Give them the data, the evidence, the testimonials, whatever it takes to make the case solid when presenting it to the people who will be in the meeting. Don’t leave it too late, because it takes time to get around everyone and have those discussions before the meeting is held.
Yes, absolutely they are. This is why you have to prepare your champion to be effective making the argument in your favour. They can get the meetings, but they need your help to be persuasive. The quality of the preparation has a big impact on the final result of course. You need to get them to nominate who is in the meeting and get an idea of what will encourage them to be in agreement with the decision you want. Your champion should have a game plan for each person and that should be put together with your help.
If you understand nemawashi represents the idea of preparation, then be well prepared. As pointed out, don’t leave this process to the last moment. You need to give yourself time to allow the nemawashi system to work in your favour. You also need to anticipate the arguments of the other side and head those arguments off at the pass. You are working through your champion, so the preparation becomes even more important in these cases. Does it mean you will always prevail. No, you will win some and lose some, but you will place yourself in the best possible situation to get a win. If you had no idea about nemawashi you can probably begin to understand why the decision you wanted went against you. From now on though become part of the Japanese decision-making process and exert influence from within.
205: Slide Decks And Presenting
Today we are going to look at the proper use of visuals when we are presenting. Many people ask us at Dale Carnegie, what should I do with preparing my slide deck for my key note presentation? What’s too much? What’s too little? What’s the best way to make this work for me?
Here’s some guidelines for using visuals. Sometimes less is definitely best. On a screen, try to avoid paragraphs. Try to avoid sentences. If you can, use single words. Single words can be very, very powerful. Just show one word or even just one number and then you can talk to the number, or you can talk to that word. Or use just a photograph or a simple visual and you talk to the visual. Bullet points are also minimalist and good.
By the way, you don’t have to crowd the screen with stuff that we can read fir ourselves. What you really want is for the audience to be focused on you, the presenter and not what’s on the screen. This is very critical. We don’t want the screen competing with us, so the less you have up there the better.
I believe that the two second rule is a key rule. If you are putting something up on screen and an audience cannot see that and understand that within two seconds, it’s probably too complicated. Strip it back until you can get the point immediately.
The six by six rule means less is best. Six words on a line. Six lines on a screen. Then six words across each line. Again, keeping it very minimalist.
With fonts, try to use 44 font size for the title, and 32 for the text. In terms of font types, sans serif fonts like Arial are very easy to read. Where as serif fonts like Times, Times Roman, which have got a lot of additional fancy work, can be distracting.
Be very, very, very sparing with using all uppercase. It’s actually screaming at your audience; it’s shouting at your audience when you use strong uppercase like that. You can use it. But use it strategically. For visibility, be careful about the overuse of underline. Yes, you can use underline but use it sparingly. Bold, yes you can use bold, but the same thing, use it occasionally. Italics, well very rarely use italics. It’s not so easy to read. You can use them, but use them modestly.
With transitions, sometimes it’s good to reveal one concept at a time. Because there is only one idea on the screen you can talk to that and you are not competing with a lot of words on the screen. Sometimes maybe have all the content up on the screen at one time, so people can read it for themselves as you go through it. Just be aware of the point of the difference in the usage.
Pictures are great. Pictures have a lot of visual appeal and as we say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And a nice photograph of something that’s relevant, of people, a book or picture or whatever. People can look at that and in two seconds they’ve got it. Now they’re ready for your explanation about the relevancy of this picture to your talk today.
Bar graphs make it easy to compare items. When you want to compare different variables, bar graphs are very good for that. Line charts are great to show change over time. You can compare two or three items over time and it is very easy to see that one’s up, that one’s down, that one is flat. Pie charts are fantastic for showing parts of a whole. What’s the share of something? As long as there’s not too many up on screen at once, then a pie chart works well. This is usually the big fail with a lot of presentations. They put up way too many pie charts at the same time. Avoid doing that.
Colors are tricky and you rarely see people using them well. Colors like black, blue, green - they work very well on a screen. They’re the best colors. Stay away from oranges and greys and particularly red. So for establishing some contrast, black and blue work together
204: Dealing with Taxing People
The playbook on how to deal with difficult people wasn’t anywhere in sight throughout our entire schooling. When we went to work this playbook was also missing from the induction training and from every other piece of training we have ever received.
Sadly, not everyone is like us – wonderful, charming, amusing, attractive. Despite our best efforts to be a role model of perfection, setting them a good example, others persist in being a major pain. Here are 12 selective tips on negotiating with the difficult amongst us.
Have a positive attitude Sounds like a motherhood statement but deciding to see the interaction as a learning experience in the real laboratory of life, as a means to enhance our win-win inter-personal skills, changes the starting point of the discussion in our favour.
Meet on mutual ground Try to meet, rather than engage in a protracted email war or discuss complex issues over the phone. Face to face is best and preferably on neutral ground for both of you. Away from the workspace is often best, such as over coffee or lunch, away from the office.
Clearly define and agree on the issue Sometimes we are arguing about different things under the same banner. By defining the issue in commonly understood words, we are a long way toward achieving better clarity about what is at stake. If the issue is a biggy, then break it down into bits that can be dealt with one by one, in concrete detail.
Do your homework Start by taking the other person’s situation and building the argument from their perspective. This often opens up gaps in our information or assumptions we are drawing, based on no particular facts. If it is a negotiation, decide what is our BATNA – the best alternative to a negotiated agreement or our walk away position. Also determine what we can accept, what we can live with and what would be an ideal outcome.
Take an honest inventory of yourself Be more self-aware of aspects of your personality and style which may help or hinder interactions. Nominate your “hot buttons”, which if they get pushed, triggers an explosion inside you and decide not to allow yourself to react that way. Watch your language and tone, as these usually go straight to the default mode in arguing and you probably don’t want to go there.
Look for shared interests Conflict has a way of magnifying perceived differences and minimizing similarities, so look for common goals and desired outcomes. There may be a common objective but the disagreement is often around the best path toward achieving it. Focusing on the common goal and the desired future, keeps the conversation moving forward.
Deal with facts, not emotions In sport we say play the ball not the opponent. So we should focus on the issue not the messenger. Maintaining a goal oriented rational approach may be difficult, especially when the ego gets in play, but try and de-personalize the conflict and separate the issues from the personalities involved. Instead of being defensive, ask clarifying questions that get them talking and you listening.
Be honest Be honest and transparent about what is important to you and why. Clearly state your goals, issues and objectives so the other side can grasp where you are coming from. Don’t assume it is obvious, because it probably isn’t. If only common sense was more common!
Present alternatives and provide evidence Create options and alternatives demonstrating your willingness to compromise. Frame options taking into consideration their interests and back up your plans with evidence.
Be an expert communicator Be clear, be clear, be clear. Ask questions, paraphrase for understanding and always check for their understanding of what you are saying. Miscommunication is often the major culprit in conflict.
End on a good note If there is a follow-on action involved, shake on it, agree the specific actions ste
203: Japan Is Very Formal In Business
Emperors and fishmongers. The opposite end of the social spectrum, but in Japan, I discovered the levels of formality in meetings was unnervingly similar.
Formality in Japan is linked very closely to what is perceived as being polite. European countries may feel more familiar with Japanese style formality, but for countries like the US, Australia, Canada etc., this level of formality is not the usual. There is a sense of formality here in Japan that is unexpected and sometimes hard to fathom for most foreigners.
The most formal meeting I have ever attended in Japan was when I met the current Emperor in his palace. When every new Ambassador arrives in Japan, they go to the palace to present their credentials. This was the case with Australian Ambassador John McCarthy, while I was Country Head for Austrade at the Embassy. The Ambassadors don’t go to the palace on their own. They have their entourage of senior officials from the Embassy with them and I was in that group. There is a special waiting room for you at Tokyo Station and then you are taken by horse drawn carriage with a mounted escort to the palace. A senior Japanese Cabinet member attends you, in our case, the Minister of State for Financial Services was Heizo Takenaka.
There are numerous points of protocol when greeting the Emperor – how you walk, stand, move, speak, sit etc. Formal beyond words is how I would describe the atmosphere. The second most formal meeting I have been to in Japan was with some fishmongers in Osaka. I was introducing Australian Ambassador Dr. Ashton Calvert to various importers dealing with Australia. This seafood business was a large one and a big customer of Australian produce.
They had the entire echelon of senior management turn out for the meeting with the Ambassador, it was a very stiff affair, a complete ceremony in itself. The formality was quite breathtaking. I never expected that fishmongers could be that formal, but it was a very serious affair, because of the “above God” status of the visiting Ambassador.
There are levels of politeness here with the accompanying formality. Even simple things like how you sit. I had an embarrassing experience when I was attending a senior Australian government official making the rounds of calls in Osaka. The Governor of Osaka was unavailable that day for the meeting, so we met the Vice-Governor.
Picture this scene. The Vice Governor is sitting ramrod straight in his chair, with a 10 centimeter gap between his spine and the back of the chair. Roman patrician style – very formal and upright. My Aussie VIP visitor by contrast, was sitting there with his legs kicked out in front of him, lounging back in his chair, like he was on his couch at home watching the footy. The contrast in informality and formality was stunning. The formality-politeness construct comes straight into play here. Is lounging around in a formal meeting polite in a Japanese context? Was my VIP showing any respect for the Vice-Governor? I don’t think so. After the meeting, I tried to breach the subject of required formality in Japan with my visitor in a subtle way, but I failed. The cognition gap was too big to straddle.
When we are in business, always think that Japan is more formal. When you go into the meeting room, there are these massive big chairs with solid wooden arm rests. These are big units and must weight about 50 kilos. They are also set at quite long distances across the room, so you are quite separated from the other side. It is very, very hard to build up any rapport when you are sitting that far apart in such a formal atmosphere.
If you are a training business like we are, you want to show things to the buyer. Well you just can’t do it at that distance, so you have to get up and go sit closer. Of course you have to apologise for breaking protocol to do that, but otherwise you have no chance of