Sunday, 1 September 2019

M.A.I.N. Framework of Communication

"How do we improve our presentation skills?" / "How do we communicate better?"

These are some of the often-asked question and have many different approaches and answers. When my team started to push me to help them improve their presentations, not only the deck but also their delivery, the M.A.I.N. framework of communication took birth.

M.A.I.N. = Message, Audience, Impact and Next-steps

Through this framework I have tried to bring together a combination of ideas, while maintaining simplicity. Although I started by thinking how my team-members could improve their presentation skills, I realised that presenting is one form of communication. There are common aspects to presentation-based communication and generic purpose-based communication, whether professional or personal. 

1. Message is the start of preparation for all purpose-based communication. The communicator has to be clear and confident about the message that needs to be sent across. At times, message can be a self-chosen topic and at other times, message could be pre-decided (eg: agenda of meeting / sales pitch / topic of presentation etc.). Either way - being clear about the message is the starting point.

Another point to keep in mind is that not only the "what" to be conveyed (message) matters, but also how it is conveyed that matters. Good communication depends on both, verbal and non-verbal aspects. Body language, facial expressions go a long way in adding value to the verbal messaging (or taking away from the message being delivered verbally).

2. Audience is the next important aspect to prepare for. On getting a grip on the message, the presenter has to prepare for the audience of the presentation. Is it an individual or a group? Is it a group of senior-officials? Is the audience unknown to the presenter? Etc...

Understanding the audience helps in calibrating the messaging (what) and its delivery (how) to make it relevant for the audience. Preparing for an audience helps in planning ahead for some questions and / or objections that maybe put forward. Understanding the audience can also help in choosing appropriate verbal and non-verbal messages. If the message and how it is delivered, if the audience starts to realise that the message is relevant to them, then there are better chances for the audience to accept the message, not discard it.

Please note, audience is not everyone who is present there, but the key people for whom the message it intended - thus the communicator / presenter should be careful in planning for the audience. 

3. Impact on the audience, as the result of communication. The communicator has to have an intended impact on the audience in mind as part of their planning. This not only helps the communicator in preparing (before-hand) how to achieve the intended impact, but also know (after-fact) the success of communication. It is with the impact in mind that the communicator can truly calibrate the message and its delivery, and prepare for the audience.

The same message, for the same audience can have different approaches depending on the intended impact that the communicator wants on the audience. Is the intended impact on the audience to move them, or leave them unmoved / untouched by my the intended impact to get audience's buy-in to the message (concept / idea / product / service) the intended impact to raise awareness, nothing more.

4. Next-steps have to be kept in mind. What should happen after the message has been given and there has been the intended impact on the audience? To prepare for possible what-nexts is just as critical as preparing for the message, audience and the intended impact.

Does the communicator want the audience to act in some manner? Does the communicator want to leave any further action on audience's best judgement?

Intended impact, about the message, on the audience is incomplete until the communicator knows what action (next-steps) is required for the communication to be deemed successful. Having said that, no action can also be one possible next-step - as long as this is what the communicator wanted from the audience.

Any purpose-based communication needs preparation. Without proper preparation, the purpose could either get diluted or get lost completely. M.A.I.N. framework allows the communicator to think of and plan for all significant aspects that are at play. 

For successful communication: The purpose is defined in the form of a message. This message has to be shared with an audience, for which the communicator needs to prepare. With the intended impact on the audience in view, the communicator prepares for and calibrates both - the message and its delivery. And finally, the communicator wants to get the audience to act (or not act) in the desired manner. 

Ultimately, the purpose of communication has to culminate in desired action (or inaction) from the audience. If the desired action (or inaction) is not achieved, then another round of communication is required - provided the audience grants it. The communicator can go back to the M.A.I.N. framework to first analyse what worked and what didn't in the first round (i.e. - what's the scope of improvement) and then prepare for Round 2.

Sunday, 11 August 2019

When I Think Of You

When I think of you
I see your face when you were just a teen
Thoughts of you
Tell me I need you more than I let seen

When I think of you
There is a hidden smile on my lips
Thoughts of you
Bring a twist and shake in my hips

When I think of you
My arms miss your embrace
Thoughts of you
Make me miss your smiling face

When I think of you
I am both - happy and sad
Thoughts of you
Make me realise my love for you is not a fad

When I think of you
Hours can go by as time flies
Thoughts of you
Engulf me as earth is covered by the skies

When I think of you
Ba-boom ba-bump goes my heart
Thoughts of you
Cause my pulse to go off-the-chart

When I think of you
I smile endlessly
Thoughts of you
Complete the incomplete me

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Don't Follow Any Advice Blindly!

The 'one big question' that many seem to be asking is: "how do I become successful?"... in some cases, successful could be replaced with rich and in few cases the question could become that of being happy.

Think about it - who will be asking this question, and more importantly who is being asked? The former is likely to be someone who is generally unhappy and dissatisfied with her / his life, and the latter is likely to be someone who is considered to be successful / rich / happy by the person asking this question.

Following four trends can be observed in today's digitally social life:

  • The ever-persistent dissatisfaction with one's life continues to poke at us
  • This ever-persistent dissatisfaction gets multiplied many folds, leading to impatience
  • There is a lot more noise around us everywhere, all the time
  • There is easier access to supposedly successful people - also because they allow people to "follow" them in a digitally social way

Because of ease of access to successful people, and their willingness to share their life in digitally social manner - those who are not satisfied with their lives and feel there is an answer out there, just not with them, will ask the question! In a digitally social life, there isn't much time to understand the person asking the question. However, since there is a question there has to be an ill-fitting it may be, as long as it sounds good.

Problem is not in the asking of the question, problem is actually two-fold. On one-hand the problem lies with the person answering the question, and on the other hand the problem is lies with the person asking the question.

Person answering the question with a cookie-cutter answer and advice is, in reality, doing more harm than good. Unfortunately, that's the usual approach. Let's look at some examples of cookie-cutter advice:
  • Follow your passion, money will follow
  • If you do what you love, it won't feel like work
  • Don't give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you
  • DON'T QUIT!!!
The advice to follow one's passion / do what you love misses a few basic factors - such as, does passion in a person come with talent...or, can the person get paid for passion alone - is there a market for that passion...or, is it even acceptable, legally and / or morally, to follow that passion. More importantly, this advice does not even begin to understand if the person seeking advice has any passions worth making a living from. It doesn't understand the biggest chunk of people who in reality either have no passions or have not found one yet!

Part of the problem lies with the person asking the question - why, you may ask...after all, this person has identified a problem and is seeking answers. What is so terribly wrong with that? The problem is in thinking there is an answer, which is only available with the ones who seem successful / rich / happy and this answer works without fail. 

There aren't many successful people who give any amount of credit to luck for their success on any digitally social platform. It seems most of the successful people are successful in spite of their luck, not because to it. The focus of reasons for their success unfailingly lies with their hard-work, their trust in their abilities, their following their passions and dreams and the fact that they didn't quit when all the chips were down. It is not for anyone to blame them to believe they made their success possible for themselves - after all they did everything mentioned above. 

Once again, the problem lies with the person asking the question to believe there is nothing more that goes into the cocktail of success. The person asking this question does not consider how many have failed on the way, how few have succeeded and why have only these few have succeeded. By asking the same question to those who have failed along the way, at the very least the person seeking answers would get to know some of the risks and pitfalls. 

The rags-to-riches story of many successful people makes it look possible and achievable, if only one could do what they did and somehow follow their foot-steps, then one day success / riches / happiness would be achieved.  However, the hard truth could literally replicate exactly everything Steve Jobs did - but the results wouldn't create another Apple - well, even his close No.2 is struggling to replicate a small fraction of the magic.

The advice to "follow your passion", "don't give up on your dreams", "don't quit" are just statements. There is little doubt on the efficacy of these statements as motivational, but that's the extent - these are good & sound motivational statements. From advice sense,  however, these are half-baked and incomplete. These are not mantras of becoming successful or rich, or of attaining happiness. One may note here that it is not worth following any advice blindly!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Why Are You Waiting?

Open your eyes...See!
Why are you waiting...
To be shown
To move.

Open your arms...Embrace!
Why are you waiting...
To help others
To hold.

Open your mouth...Speak!
Why are you waiting...
To say what needs be said
To say what's right.

Open your mind...Think!
Why are you waiting...
To be told
To be directed.

Open your heart...Feel!
Why are you waiting...
To be loved
To love.

Open yourself...Experience!
Why are you waiting...
To be with someone
To become someone.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

For As Long As I Have You

When I am beaten and broken,
When I can't move anymore,
When there is nothing else that I can do,

Life will still be worth fighting for,
For as long as I have you.

When I am lost,
When I there is no destination,
When it's dark and cloudy, can't see the sky-blue,

Life will still be worth fighting for,
For as long as I have you.

When my arms have no strength,
When my feet begin to give-up,
When there is nothing on me, not even a shoe,

Life will still be worth fighting for,
For as long as I have you.

When hunger comes calling,
When I haven't found food for days,
When water is nowhere in sight too,

Life will still be worth fighting for,
For as long as I have you.

When everything I have becomes irrelevant,
When everything I need becomes inaccessible,
When I won't get my due,

Life will still be worth fighting for,
For as long as I have you.

When the end is near,
When it is time to go,
When it is the moment true,

Life will still be worth fighting for,
For as long as I have you.

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Friday, 12 July 2019

You Are Not Alone

You are not alone,
Remember, I am still there with you!

If the day gets dark,
If you can’t see far ahead,
If you feel lost,
Remember, I am still there with you!

If there are no answers,
If there seems to be no ray of hope,
If there is endless dark-night,
Remember, I am still there with you!

If you get hit and are hurt,
If nothing goes your way,
If pressure begins to pin you down,
Remember, I am still there with you!

If you feel most alone,
If you can’t find anyone to lean on,
If you want to run-away but can’t,
Remember, I am still there with you!

If life gets difficult,
If you question “what’s all this for?”,
If your faith gets tested,
Remember, I am still there with you!

You are not alone, never alone,
You just got to remember, I am still there with you!

Sunday, 23 June 2019

The Constant Need

The constant need…
Is ruling over our thoughts and actions.

The constant need…
We are dazzled by shiny attractions.

The constant need to chase,
We have no end in sight.

The constant need to be ready,
We burn, on both-ends, our candle bright.

The constant need to get be more,
We forget to take care, losing our mind.

The constant need to judge others,
We lose empathy, turning mentally blind.

The constant need…
Can it be controlled, can we stop?

The constant need…
Will we survive, will be come out on top?

The constant need to move get ahead,
We are okay taking short-cuts, seeing rules bend.

The constant need to be the smartest...the best,
We are convinced that means are justified by the end.

The constant need to become perfect,
We walk on the thin edge of a knife.

The constant need to always win,
We forget there is more to life.

The constant need…
We simply roll the dice.

The constant need…
Makes us pay a heavy price.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

For You, Dad!

On this Father's Day,
This poem is your gift, dad.
Thanks to you we have become friends,
This friendship is ironclad.

You and I might not always agree,
But I seek your approval always.
You and I are different individuals,
But you have inspired me, since my early days.

I don't share a lot with you,
And that's my fault.
I think I might not be that different from you,
You keep your emotions locked in a vault.

It is a God-given opportunity,
To be with you now.
You are such a rockstar, which I see today,
But never realised this before, somehow.

I might not show this often enough,
But I thank you.
I might not say this often enough,
But I love you.

You bring life, to life itself
Bringing joy where there is none.
You have made me who I am,
Proud to be your son.