Experts! Speak English! Podcast Empathising, resolving and recovering from Conflict with Jürgen von Oertzen Coco’s
Well, hello, it’s Coco here and last week we were talking about the Rule of Threes. Now, if I caught your attention with that, then I think it’s time to talk about how to plan, present and evaluate your performance using the Rule of Threes. Are you ready?
Okay now, first of all, we need to think about “What is the impact of using the Rule of Threes” in your planning, your presentation and your performance evaluation?”. Well, I mean, the bottom line is you’ll get noticed by the people that matter, the decision makers in your life. That might be your boss, your clients, your stakeholders – or even your kids.
bottom line – the fundamental and most important factor:
Hi there. It’s Coco here from English Speaking Experts, where non-native speakers are learning to be intentional about their communication to get the career success that experts with their knowledge and experience deserve.
This show, “Experts! Speak English!”, is all about showing you how to speak up as the expert, even if, in fact, especially if, English isn’t your own language. This isn’t just about passive listening, though – no hiding here! It’s about putting what you have learned into practice. So, Coco’s communication challenge inspires you to do just that because it’s practice that fuels professionalism and approachability in an increasingly global and English speaking world, isn’t it?
Planning can be overwhelming in a society where information is tugging at our attention from a range of different channels, as well as our colleagues, boss, family, free time activities, increasingly dependent parents maybe, or even the neighbors. Trying to focus can be tough! That’s not just you. It’s not just me. That’s everybody. What’s different about the people who get stuff done is how we approach it, really.
Now, giving yourself a list of three non-negotiables is a great way to go about doing this. “What’s a non-negotiable?”, I hear you ask. Ha-ha, I’m glad you asked. A non-negotiable is something that you cannot negotiate. It has to be done. There is no negotiation around it. It has to be done. So it’s something that you really need to get off your to-do list – come what may. And, like in the fairytales, not too many, not too few, just write.
Three things is pretty realistic, a pragmatic goal.
Another planning Rule of Threes when you’re thinking about your personal brand and your content strategy, and you are working out what exactly your zone of genius will be. Most people know one or two immediately, but you really have to narrow it down to three things that you really know well.
Whilst it is ridiculous to attempt to be good at everything, it certainly makes sense to have a couple of things that people know that you rock in terms of knowledge, know-how and experience. And just one thing is likely to strand you on a desert island, whereas being a jack of all trades and a master of none, somebody who can do a little bit of everything is likely to leave you lost in the crowd of mediocrity, coming from the word “mediocre” or “average”, “middle of the road”.
Don’t just do the stuff that everyone can do. You need to stand out, just like a product has a USP (unique selling point), YOU need your zones of genius. You need to have a bunch of things that people know. “Oh, if you need to know about communication, corporate communication or presentations, ask Corinne!”. For what do you want to be the go-to person, hmm?
To avoid burnout and boost performance, we need to be doing stuff that floats our boat, that makes us keen to get to work or gives us satisfaction getting it just right.
Then, of course, it’s helpful to plan your work in threes because you don’t want to end up like a low-budget movie that wraps up in a hurry, leaving you feeling robbed of much awaited brilliance.
We need to pace ourselves, so it’s good to plan in threes. Firstly, and you know this, it’s a no-brainer:
The start, The middle and The end
or in business we talk about
planning, implementation and control.
Then there’s the time planning element. So, for example: Three blocks of time to write, prepare and check whatever it is that we are doing so that we give enough attention to the whole process. So, for example, with my podcast, there are three main phases: The planning, which is where I am right now, I’m sitting here with my mind map. Then there’s the recording and finally the editing. No matter what we do, there should be a control mechanism in place. Editing or simply running it past somebody else for this two-man principle, so that once it’s done, you need to add that control mechanism. So, the last 20% deserves an exclamation mark, don’t you think?
Two Man Rule/Principle- Vier Augen Prinzip
No doubt you have heard of the life hack where you should have three types of free time activities. Do you know it? One is to make you money, whether it is flipping houses, managing a share portfolio or a side hustle. The second is something to keep you in shape, so, for me it’s swimming three times a week, hiking – usually with the family -, and Nordic walking, which as a certified trainer, I do this regularly with my clients on the “Languagenergy” program that I run. But don’t worry, you don’t have to bring poles, but it is good to use the Nordic walking poles if you possibly can. Anyway, I digress.
Now, if you are to use the Rule of Threes, you would be crazy not to optimize on that in your visuals, right?
Now, your visuals can be anything from a pretty rough impromptu sketch on the white board, something fancier with painstakingly prepared PowerPoint slides or a prop, something you hold up like a schedule measuring stick or, I don’t know, fire attendance gear.
Now, talking about the Rule of Threes is one thing to get their attention, but if you really want to make a difference, go for the jugular and grab their attention with some visuals.
Most of us are visually inclined, we’re visual learners, and the more senses you can use, the more you will pick your audience up with your story, opinion or presentation.
So, use the Rule of Threes in your presentation slides. Let them see it so that they can process it, understand it, and that will inspire them to do something about it.
If you think about the presentations that you have had to watch in the past, I bet you anything that you have not seen the Rule of Threes visually shown to you in those presentations.
This is a tragically underused technique.
Why? Because people like to make things pretty, fancy and complicated.
But between you and I: The secret of effective communication is making it super simple for them to understand.
The more work you put in to make it simple, the more it will pay off.
What you should be going for is that “Oh…! All right!” – the aha moment. Because people hear these things all the time, but they don’t always get it the first time.
So, I want you to strive to be that person that made it click.
Using something as simple as three bullet points is easy enough, we all did that in fifth grade, right?
But what about adding a visual dimension of three?
Perhaps you can use
three columns or
a pyramid in three sections,
a pie chart with three sections or
a series of arrows
colours, lengths and thicknesses.
Deliver it to them on a platter. Make it irresistible! It’s not difficult to do.
Okay…, it’s difficult to come up with and bam! that’s the point!
People just cannot be bothered to think outside of the box. But you, honey, are passionate about your work.
So, you’re constantly thinking about this, aren’t you?
You’re thinking about it so much that coming up with a visual representation of your key points will come easily to you because you’re in that world, because this is what you’re into, this is what you’re reading about, this is what you’re talking about, this is what you’re agonizing over.
So, don’t be lazy and steal someone else’s model.
Bring your own personality and knowledge into this.
Your personal angle and create your own Rule of Threes and then own it by delivering it with gusto! And, of course, don’t forget to put your name on it, because if people know the origin, they can approach you to ask you if they can republish it. You, my dear, just carved yourself a space in the “English Speaking Expert’s Hall Of Fame”. Kudos to you, honey!
Use what graphic designers refer to as the “Rule of Thirds” (not the Rule of Threes). The rule of thirds is used when making use of guidelines of aligning images in a visually appealing way. It’s also used in things like computer programming, for example, C++, mathematics, statistics, economics, business concepts, etc. So, this is a tried and tested but neglected approach – despite the punch that it packs.
Now think about your focus – the focus of your presentation slides now, for instance – the key three steps and the direction that you want to take your audience in and reflect that in your visuals. You will see some examples in my website show notes at www.englishspeakingexperts/134. But I will try to explain it for you.
If you want to create a strong visual, then show your audience in which direction you are taking them and the steps to get them there:
You can either start with a blank slide or add text to an existing graphic. Just be professional and buy your graphics or get permission to use them.
Now be sure to use your corporate colors and colors as a way to differentiate between your three points. It might be a gradient or three different colors or a different pattern, a different thickness, whatever, but use something visual to make it really clear what’s happening in your visual.
“Show” them what are the stages of the values of the steps.
Take, for example, the Rule of Threes when they talk about “Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil”. So, when I think of that, I instantly have a picture in my mind. Maybe you do too. So, get creative about your own message. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Because if you do insist in using PowerPoint slides to structure your presentation, just make sure that you’re using visuals in a dynamic, intentional way that makes you stand out as the expert and don’t surround your visuals with loads of words and fluff – let them jump out of the audience!
we’ve already talked about planning and the presentation, now I would like to talk to you about the performance evaluation, whether it be for someone else, but more importantly yourself, not just for a big project, but after each and every performance.
Now, a performance doesn’t need to be a formal presentation as such. It can be a more informal 1:1 conversation with a member of staff.
Remember, you are building your reputation with every single conversation, so you need to make your messages memorable. That makes you approachable and that opens you up to leadership responsibility. People will start noticing you.
Plato once said “There are three classes of men: lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain”.
If you want to define how you want other people to see you, then you can ask yourself at the end of each performance, “Hmm, did I live up to my values?”. So, for me, I want to come over as being knowledgeable, approachable, and culturally aware. And as I write this, I realize I have not yet included anything in this podcast episode about cultural differences. So, more about that after Coco’s communication challenge.
It’s a good idea at the end of the day, a performance or a project to reflect. You can see that I work with Agile teams, right? You ask yourself: What went well, what didn’t go so well, and what can I improve next time? And, of course, you can do this in the team as well.
Reflection is what will drive your performance.
When I was a little girl, my dad had a Christmas tree farm and at the end of every single day over dinner when I really didn’t want to be talking about Christmas trees, to be honest, we would evaluate the day: What went well, what didn’t go well, what can we improve? So, I was thinking in this mindset from the age of like eight upwards. It’s not a new concept, but it’s certainly something that you can use to really nail
“What is it that I need to improve?”.
If you fancy something less restrictive, then treat yourself to a mini notebook and write yourself a three-line haiku like I do. This is a super time effective, creative and rewarding way to just capture your thoughts, really. You can hear more about my haiku-writing insights in an earlier episode which are linked too in the show notes. And it’s perfect for people that are still hiding behind their keyboard and not speaking up yet. So, if you’re one of those people writing in English will probably stop you from going backwards at least. So, that’s it!
The rule of threes to plan, present and evaluate your performance. And you will soon see that you are nudging your way towards a great reputation as the “English-speaking expert”. Be bold and brave enough to take a stand because that brilliance will pay off. I know it will, because I see that every single week with my VIPs.
Now all you have to do is practice – practice and be patient!
So, I can feel your twitching with your pens at the ready: “What’s Coco’s communication challenge?” Well, this week I want you to pimp or improve an existing graphic with the Rule of Threes. Before you start make a photo or a screenshot of the before version, then another of the after version, then send it to me or share it with the before and after kind of format via the socials using the hashtag Experts! Speak English! You never know if somebody is looking for an English-speaking expert, they might well find you.
As promised, I said that I would share some cultural insights.
So, when it comes to presentations, we don’t all present in the same way. The Americans, as you will have noticed, love to pull you in with great storytelling, whereas the Germans or professions like engineers, for example, like to work with facts, figures and fancy illustrations.
Now, if you are a storyteller, you can still use the Rule of Threes in your planning, the presentation and the performance evaluations, so do that, but use a prop perhaps. What about a triangle, a pencil or a cone?
Use something with a 3D dimension to it to add that punch that you need to pull people in. And if you like the structure of presentation slides, a pitch deck or KPIs, then use that, but enhance them to make it less tedious to listen to.
If you have stakeholders in your audience that don’t get as excited as you do about numbers, try a few anecdotes, some interaction, or a quirky image that visualizes the impact of the numbers.
If you need to be dramatic to get their attention, do that!
But nobody ever got career success through being the most boring presenter ever. So, step out of your comfort zone. This isn’t about you, it’s about your audience. What do they need to be able to understand?
How can you make it easier for them to get it?
If you have found this helpful, I would love you to help me.
Why don’t you share it with three colleagues?
I’ve got a couple of ideas for you. Maybe you could share it with somebody that you’re working with in an overseas office, maybe a friend in another company – and for extra awesome points: Why not recommend your internet team to share the podcast there so that other people in your company can find it? Thank you, you beautiful soul! I appreciate it!
So, that’s it for today. Lots to think about there and try it out. Get out there, speak up and be the very best communicator that you can be. You’ve been listening to “Experts! Speak English!” with Corinne Wilhelm.
If you’re really keen about taking your career to the next level, then focus on communication. Get in touch and we can jump on a virtual tea break where I will ask you lots of questions, find out all about you and we’ll see if we’re a good fit.