(11) Tips to help you know your audience

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

The concept of knowing your audience may in fact seem like an elementary concept, but when you peel back the layers on this one, it really is anything but simple. In fact, it can quickly get complex, and this is why when people are presenting to an audience of either one or many, the outcome of the communication can go in a different direction than they intended. Sales people tend to be the best at knowing and reading their audience, as they have a great deal of practice doing this, but not all sales people are at the same level of proficiency in this area. The emphasis on practice is how most people become much better at reading their audience. 

Since most people are not salespeople, or may in fact not have as many opportunities to present to others, how do they become better at knowing their audience, and what are some techniques they can apply to become better at this concept? Here are some points to consider to increase your chances of knowing your audience better, and having a more desirable outcome from your interaction. 

  1. Don’t make assumptions about how they are going to react to your information. There is an old but wise adage which breaks down this word into not making an “ass” out of “you” and “me”. 
  2. If you do not know the person or people you will be communicating with well, when possible, simply ask them what their preferred methods of interacting with them are. You may not be able to appeal to everyone’s preferred method, but you will have a better chance of appealing to them when you ask this question. 
  3. Depending on how you will be communicating with your audience, if it is via a visual method such as slides, make sure your slides don’t break every rule in terms of the best practices for presenting information. In other words, keep the number of words on your slides to an absolute minimum, don’t use graphics which are not coordinated with the message and after you have created the slides, step away from them for a few minutes and come back to see if they pass the KIS rule of “Keep it simple”. 
  4. Ask the person or people if they are “ready” to hear what you have to say. Think back to when you were in elementary school and how the teacher would always start with getting everyones attention before they spoke. 
  5. Keep an eye on your audiences body language. If you are speaking too long and not allowing them to interact with you in some manner, you will likely loose their attention. If you see this happening, ask the person or audience if they have a question, and if no one asks one, throw in a question someone should be asking.
  6. When presenting to executives, it is best to be extremely succinct with your information. Tell them up front what your “ask is”, or what you expect the ideal outcome from the meeting to be. Whenever possible, keep the content being discussed to no more than 15 minutes in length. If you can’t communicate what you have to say in this period of time, chances are what you will be communicating will not be impactful and obtain the results you desire. 
  7. One on one communications with people you know well may seem like the easiest audience to communicate with, but again, the time of day, the place you are meeting, the content and how enthusiastic you are about the content can all play a significant role in having a positive outcome.
  8. Before you begin speaking, make sure you are in the right frame of mind, and think of yourself as being on stage. Would you come out on stage and start speaking in a monotone voice, with poor posture, eyes starring downwards and seemingly lack energy while you are presenting? Of course not, but lots of people present information to their “audience” this way, so make sure you are not guilty of doing this too. In other words, fake being an “actor” if you have to, or at least until you feel confident enough in coming across as being enthusiastic about the information you are conveying. 
  9. When presenting to a “live” audience or even one or a few people, make sure you are positioned in a place where they can see and hear you well. Ideally you should be standing if you are presenting visual information, and at the front of the room. Many people make the mistake of sitting and presenting their information in these situations, and miss the opportunity to commandeer the audiences full attention when they do not stand up. 
  10. If you do not know your audience well, do some basic research on them (e.g., check them out on LinkedIn, or read their bios on their company website if they are at the executive level, or Google their name and see what information comes up about them.) If possible, ask others that work with, or know them well enough to provide you with information about how they like to have information presented or conveyed to them. All of this information can give you greater insight into who you are presenting to, and clues in terms of how to ideally appeal to them with the information you are conveying to them.
  11. The final tip is a bonus one, and is to make sure you send a summary of the information to them via an email. Keep it short, and leverage this communication to convey your key points to make sure they were passed along to your audience.

Now that you have some tips on how to “know your audience”, go out and start putting these concepts into practice. As I stated earlier, practice is the key element to what makes understanding your audience something you can become quite good at. Let me know what you think after you have tried some of these tips.

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Ms. Murphy has been quoted in Money.com, featured in the Huffington Post and speaks at conferences on the business topics around the globe. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

When People Get Quiet


By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

Call it one of the senses, and I’m not sure which one, but there is definitely a sense you get when something is not quite right. This same sense can be applied where you work and I have unfortunately been 100% accurate in predicting something is going on in the office, and usually it is related to either a promotion, a firing or the company being acquired. Some might call this ability having a mild sense of psychic power, but whatever you might call it, my general sense is everyone has this same ability, but might not know how to tap into it. Having this ability can be both helpful and stressful, as it serves almost as a barometer of the pressure being felt in the office. 

There is a saying “the calm before the storm”, and I have seen and felt this more times than I care to admit. Most of the time something good is about to happen, but people are not allowed to talk about what will be happening, so they tend to get quiet, or act more reserved than they normally are. Conversely, when something ominous is about to happen, this same sense of quiet tends to permeate throughout the office almost like a fog. Generally a few people in the office are setting this tone, and the ones who are may not be aware they are doing so. However, there are signs you can pick up on to determine if something different is about to happen, and here are a few of them. 

  • The people who have knowledge about something going to happen whether it is positive or negative will generally start to have less eye contact with you prior to the “event” happening. 
  • People “in-the-know” will have a slightly different demeanor than they typically do (e.g., if they are normally very talkative, they will become less so). 
  • When asked questions which might either be on target or are close to what might be going on, the person who knows what is happening will potentially get fidgety and exhibit signs of being nervous (e.g., their neck turns red, they may start to sweat slightly on their forehead), or they quickly change the subject.
  • The response to your questions which would normally be longer, will be short and almost abrupt. 

If you encounter any of these behaviors occurring with the people who “know something”, try not to pressure them into telling you anything, as they generally are not in a position to do so. However, depending on how well you know them, and what type of relationship you have developed with them in the office, they may give you slight hints about what is going on, and whether it is a positive or negative scenario. People who are in management roles, and who may not have years of experience yet with change management occurring, will be much more transparent and easy to read than those with years of management experience. Of course this is a generalization, but more often than not, newer managers will have a more difficult time not wearing their emotions outwardly. This is not a bad thing, and it is part of what you learn how to deal with and do a better job of not revealing from an emotional or body language perspective. 

Being able to read what is going on and tapping into your intuitive senses allows you to  prepare you for what is inevitably going to happen. I’m not talking about a self fulfilling prophesy, but instead thinking through what your options might be when you have a sense something is happening which might impact you in a good or negative way. It is always far better to be aware than caught off guard when something in the office happens, as being too emotional in most office settings is not generally considered a good thing. Having the ability to control your emotions, and I am not talking about acting like a robot, but instead being composed on the outside even though you might me a hot mess on the inside. Most managers and upper level executives become quite good at masking their inward emotions, but being able to read the emotional cues they are giving off will serve you well in future situations when you will need to be composed and thinking clearly in any situation. 

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

(7) Questions to find out what motivates you.

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

I have always been fascinated by understanding what motivates other people, and the insight I gain from my conversations with them when we discuss this topic. Similar to a persons palm and the lines on it, no two people have exactly the same thing which motivates them. This is a good thing, because if we were all motivated by the same things, our world would not be as interesting and diverse as it is. When was the last time you paused to think about what motivates you, or have you figured out what actually motivates you?

One of the things which motivates me is traveling and meeting new people. I am always honored to become acquainted with total strangers upon first meeting, and after speaking with them for either ten minutes or hours, have a completely new and different understanding of the person I first met, and where they came from (e.g., from a country perspective). As  have shared with you before, I am not a huge fan of watching the news, as it only gives you the perspective from the people who are editing the information you end up seeing. I would much rather and prefer to conduct my own interviews and do my own analysis on what is going on in the world by actually having conversations with people who live in different parts of the world. In my opinion, there is no better way to educate yourself about the world and the people in it than by traveling, so this is one of the things which motivates me.

Motivation can come from many different places, and it can come from oneself, or via others who motivate you. Not everyone is self-motivated, so fortuneately there are other people who can help to motivate you, and this is perfectly fine. For example, if you wish to get in shape an d want to go the gym but have no idea how to use the equipment at the gym to become fit, then hiring a personal trainer to help you with this process makes perfect sense and in the process can help to motivate you to become a fit person. Or, if you want to become better at something professionally, you can either seek out a mentor or someone who has mastered the work you are trying to become better at. The person who has mastered what you are trying to learn can serve as the motivation, while simultaneously teaching you how to become better at what you are seeking to learn how to do on a new level of competency.

Many people are motivated by sports stars or business icons, or potentially by their local sports coach who has dedicated themselves to helping kids learn how to play a sport and be able to learn the valuable lessons associated with competitive level sports. Inspiration can also come from admiring what other people have achieved from a professional perspective whether they are in a traditional role such as a surgeon or perhaps a professional opera singer. Inspiration can also come from nature, and admiring the work accomplished by landscape designers such as Frederick Locke Olmsted who designed both the Boston Public Garden as well as (parts of?) the New York Central Park.

So what if you are now at this point of the article and you are thinking I am not sure what motivates me?  Well, you are in luck, because I have (7) questions you can ask yourself to help sort this out.

  • Is there something I think about or enjoy doing which causes me to want to do more of it, and which I can make a living from?
  • What are 2-3 things I regularly think about wanting to be doing when I am not doing the work I get paid to do?
  • Has there been something in your life which you have never lost interest in and continue to do even at this point in your life (e.g., you love animals, so you continue to volunteer your time at. your local animal shelter)?
  • You do something which you never tire of doing, and which also brings you joy when you do it (e.g., you play golf, you paint pictures, you play an instrument or sing, you coach a team or volunteer your time to help tutor others at something you are good at).
  • What do. you daydream about doing when you are at work, and wish you were doing instead, and which is either something which is productive, or which contributes to society in a positive way?
  • What is something you would do which you would gladly sacrifice sleep or money to do?
  • Think about the things you enjoy doing which increase your energy versus depleting it.

If you can answer the questions above and then study your responses, you will either see a pattern or things you like to do, and activities which can serve as motivators to inspire you to do more of the things you want to be focused on spending more of your time doing either professionally, or personally or both. Motivation can come from within or from others or things around you. Your job is to figure out which one or a combination of these are what motivates you to have a better career and life.

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

Thank you to all of my readers around the globe.

I want to acknowledge and thank all of you who have been supportive followers of my articles this year. A special shout out is warranted for my friends at Black Duck Software, Barracuda Networks, Constant Contact and Ipswitch for their continuous support of my journey and new adventures.

Happy New Year to all of you, and be on the look out for my first book coming out in early 2018. No title yet, but I will let you know when the book is available.


Own your confidence – (10) ways to do so

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

Possessing confidence can be one of the most satisfying feelings, especially when your confidence is derived from something you are proud of or enjoy doing. Demonstrating confidence to others comes in a variety of delivery methods such as how you present yourself physically, how you speak, walk and treat others. People who are confident tend to have a certain allure about them which you know they have, but which is sometimes difficult to describe. You just know they have it. The funny thing about confidence is that it is a fluid type of feeling, as it can come and go. However, when you are able to sustain your confidence, you are in a position of owning it, and it becomes more difficult to lose.

Too often I have seen people with confidence let others chip away at their confidence, and this is generally when the person is in the process of building up their confidence. If I were to think of an analogy for confidence, I would compare it to a foundation. Like a foundation, confidence can be built up and be a really strong foundation, or it can be a weakly built one and easily eroded. So, how do you know whether you have built a strong confidence foundation, or one made of a weak substance such as dust? This depends, as when we are in the process of building up our foundation of confidence, sometimes it is built using strong substances like boulders, and sometimes it is not. Why does this happen? It happens as we are testing our ability to own something, and when we are in the process of experimenting with our confidence building strategies.

Speaking of strategies, do you have strategies to own building up your confidence? You may not have taken time to ponder this, but it is essential to have some go to strategies to work towards building up and maintaining your confidence. Here are (10) ideas to consider to help you build up your confidence foundation.

  1. Write down 1-3 three things you are proud of having accomplished. These do not have to be monumental accomplishments, and they can be divided into both professional as well as personal accomplishments.
  2. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest, how would your rate your accomplishments?
  3. Is it possible to continue to build upon the accomplishments you have achieved? If so, think about how you can do this, and by committing to putting it in writing, it is more likely to happen.
  4. Now, write down 3-5 things you want to accomplish professionally or personally in the next year, or sooner.
  5. Plot out in a few sentences how you are going to be able to accomplish the things you want to do in a few sentences. This does not have to be an exercise in crafting a novel, and only you need to see this information.
  6. Ask 5-10 of your colleagues or friends to write down 5 or more words which describe who you are. Tell them you will reciprocate doing this for them.
  7. Once you have your list of words from your friends, use this information to gain potentially new insight into how others view you. Part of this exercise is to demonstrate to you that other people may see you in a much stronger position professionally than you do, given their choice of words to describe you.
  8. Commit to doing 1-2 random acts of kindness for other people every day. These small gestures will indirectly help to build up your confidence as you will feel more satisfied by doing something nice for others, and the feeling will be cumulative and help to further strengthen the confidence foundation you are building.
  9. Make sure every day you have an opportunity to work on doing the things that make you feel confident. Each time you do this, it is equivalent to further building up the strength of your confidence foundation, which you absolutely want to fully own.
  10. I know you have heard the expression “fake it until you make it”. There is something interesting about this expression, and part of it has to do with acting confident, even when you may not feel this way in whatever situation you need to be more confident in (e.g., giving a presentation, going after your dream job, planning an event, doing research work). If you have not already tried applying this concept, give it a try. It becomes easy to master with practice, and before you know it, you will not feel like you are faking it anymore.

Not all of the suggestions above might be applicable to you, but there should be a few of them which can help to put you on a trajectory towards owning it, and I can’t wait for you to get there, but make sure you take time to enjoy the journey along the way.

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.

How to build your reliability reputation.

By Kathleen E.R. Murphy

You probably don’t think much about it, but one of the pillars of a business is reliability. The concept of reliability comes in a variety of flavors, but the one I am going to focus on is the aspect of human reliability. Without reliability as an embraced concept in an organization by all members, the fundamentals of running the business simply will not  thrive.

I witnessed on a recent flight to Australia how the concept of reliability plays such a critical role. Since I had a sixteen hour flight, I had plenty of time to think about this concept, and to see it in action as the amazing Qantas flight crew worked in harmony together and relied upon each other to do their jobs. If you think about all of the elements associated with what it takes to get a large commercial plane off the ground, and the incredible amount of details which need to be executed to make this possible, this is a wonderful demonstration of reliability.

When people are doing their jobs well, and most jobs are reliant upon others to some degree, amazing things can happen. However, when people lose sight of how if they are not reliable in the work they are performing, it can have consequences they may not have thought about, and which will negatively impact others. This may seem incredibly basic from a common sense perspective, but more often than you think, you or your colleagues can lose sight of this concept.

So, how do you stay focused on being reliable, and what does this mean if you are considered to be a reliable team member? Staying focused is easier than you think, especially if you care about how the work you are performing and do well is going to help you and others in the future. One way to stay focused is to break up your work into segments of time, ideally no more than 45 minutes, as most people start to lose their ability to focus well past this point. Not all jobs will allow you to pause and take a short break, but if you are fortunate enough to be able to do this, your work outcome will be a higher quality, and you will have renewed energy for resuming the work. Your colleagues will also be impressed with the outcome of your work, and you will begin to build up your reputation for producing quality work, and more importantly be considered reliable.

A second way to remain focused on your work is to segment the type of work you are doing. An example of this is to think about doing email at the beginning, middle and end of the day versus constantly checking email all day long. If you have the type of work which requires you to be in meetings, plan your meetings when possible towards the beginning of the day, so you can leave yourself the remainder of the afternoon to accomplish the work assignments you are responsible for. A third way to approach remaining focused is to save the work you enjoy most for the end of the day. This way, you will have the work to look forward to, and you will have the energy to complete the work later in the day because it is the type of work you like to do, and this will give you a renewed sense of energy. Another trick to remaining focused on your work is to take mini walks around where you work, and to consider these walks as small rewards for accomplishing the task you were working on.

Being considered reliable is something you earn as a designation from your colleagues. When you earn the reputation of being reliable, and demonstrate to others you are this way, your entire team or the company you work for will benefit from this and amazing things begin to happen. Think about a time when you had to rely upon someone and they did not follow through. What did that feel like? Not desirable right, and it made you think twice about being able to rely upon that person the next time you needed to do so. Keep this concept of reliability in mind the next time you are tasked with the responsibility for doing anything related to your job. It helps to keep you focused on a much more positive outcome, and your colleagues will enjoy working with you more than you might imagine.

This blog is dedicated to Elfi at Qantas Airlines. Thanks for your inspiration.

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at kathymurphy@me.com.