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Interesting viewpoint of Simon Sinek about the challenges faced by young people entering the workforce. Certainly some controversial comments relating to ‘bad parenting strategies’ which will get many talking. Although focused on the millenial context, I think there are some very good points made about how to develop skills around building positive relationships, leadership, resilience skills, emotional intelligence and patience which are relevant for every age group and every workplace!

The clip goes for about 15 minutes and is very thought provoking.

Interested in short courses in leadership skills, emotional intelligence and resilience building?  Click here for more information.

To watch please click here

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Anyone who has been in the workforce for more than a few months has probably endured the phenomenon of ‘death by PowerPoint’. 

It’s a peculiar form of torture where audiences are held captive (often in a darkened room) by one of their own colleagues or another person with links to the organisation.

Once all available exits have been secured, the ‘presenter’ begins to talk and exhibit slides crammed with too much information, tiny fonts and bad clip art. On an on it goes, until all eyes have glazed over and collectively, the audience has lost the will to live.

Although speaking in front of others is a well-known source of anxiety, the ability to prepare and deliver a high quality presentation is undoubtedly a direct reflection on your professionalism. How you prepare, how you communicate and engage others are all important factors in creating a positive impression from the opportunity. 

So how can we break this cycle of cruelty and avoid causing unnecessary suffering to others?

Here are our best tips for giving an unforgettable presentation – for all the right reasons!

1.  Know your audience. 

Who’s going to be there and why? Are there any ‘hot button’ issues you need to know about and either directly acknowledge or avoid it (eg major IT system failures, a new CEO etc). What motivates this crowd?  What do they care about? Focus on how the presentation is relevant to them.

2.  Know your topic

Is your material current, relevant and useful to this audience? Anticipate what types of questions you might be asked, especially the hard ones, and think about how you will respond, before you’re under the spotlight.

3. Visit the room beforehand. 

Confirm the size is right and lighting and ventilation works properly. What audio-visual equipment will you need? 

4. Practise, practise, practise. 

There’s nothing like a rambling speaker to put an audience off.  And once that OFF switch has been flicked, good luck trying to get it back ON again.  Practise what you want to say and do it out loud

5.  Get there early.

You are not Madonna. Allow for the possibility that you could get caught in traffic or that an unforeseen problem may delay you. The last thing you want is to be feeling panicked or flustered when it is your turn to speak.

6.  Try not using PowerPoint.

 Or use it in a very limited way. Other options can include:  sending out content beforehand, photographs, short video clips, music, props, samples, brief handouts or get audience members involved in relevant demonstrations? You might even want to try new cloud-based software tools like Prezi. We all have shorter attention spans these days (that’s right, down from 12 minutes a decade ago to five minutes now) so get creative and mix up your media!

7.  Think about your posture and body language. 

Stand up straight and really ‘own’ the space around you. Don’t cling to the lectern like it’s a life raft.  Move around and/or use props or hand gestures if you need to make a strong point.

8. Make eye contact with the audience. 

You need to do this before, during and after your presentation. Remember to scan the room and smile, without staring at any one individual for too long.

9. Start with a good story. 

Ideally it should be something your audience can relate to – and all the better if it is amusing.  Barrack Obama is a master or the amusing anecdote.  Many TED talk speakers also use this technique.

10.  Speak at a normal pace and remember to pause. 

Ifyouspeaktoofastitmakesitharderforthe audiencetounderstandwhatyou’resaying! The average speaking speed is is between 110 and 150 words per minute. Time yourself when you are practising out loud and remember to pause periodically, e.g. before a particularly salient point.

11.  Use case studies.

 Real examples are infinitely more memorable than concepts and theories. If you are proposing a new way of approaching something, find out where else this has been tried. Did it work? Why or why not?  Remember that even negative results can be illuminating and relevant.

12.  Acknowledge and include opposing views. 

People want and deserve to be given a balanced view of important news and issues. Your presentation will have more credibility if you can show that you have analysed your subject thoroughly and looked at it from different angles.  One-sided presentations are just propaganda.

13.  Repeat your key message three times during your presentation

Try to do this in one sentence or less (i.e. three to ten words).  We live and work in a digital age where we are all bombarded with information, 24/7.  Never assume your message will sink in the first time people hear it.

14.  Use a memorable closing story and image. 

Your closing words and graphics are just as important as your opening ones, so make the effort to find ones that relate to your message or sums up the subject. 90 per cent of information transmitted to the brain is visual? Visual information is also processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than written words. Pictures are often remembered long after words and statistics have been forgotten.

15.  Stick to your time limit. 

Speaking overtime is rude to your audience, the host of the event and the presenter who follows you. Keep an eye on the clock during your talk and pace yourself so you can finish on time.


If you would like to know more about advanced communication, leadership skills or other training opportunities for yourself or your organisation, please contact us.


  • <http://executivespeechcoach.blogspot.com.au/2013/09/superior-presentations-71-how-many.html> 30 March 2016<http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/10-tips-on-giving-a-killer-presentation.html> viewed 30 March 2016
  • <http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/11/14/six-ways-to-avoid-death-by-powerpoint/#b83edcd34cbb>
    viewed 30 March 2016
  • <http://fortune.com/2013/07/10/giving-a-speech-conquer-the-five-minute-attention-span/>viewed 30 March 2016
  • <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/if-these-extraordinarily-powerful-images-of-a-dead-syrian-child-washed-up-on-a-beach-don-t-change-10482757.html> viewed 30 March 2016
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Posted by on in Workplace training

Short. Focused. Relevant.

The PSW HR Solutions short course program is designed to present essential skills and knowledge in an easily digestible format of just one or two days. Developed and presented by industry professionals who draw not only on best practice from around the world, but their own years of actual experiences managing teams and operating in challenging operating environments.  

Our programs are interactive, activity based and provide practical opportunities to develop skills that you can apply directly into the workplace.

2016 has seen us add to our regional locations and we would encourage organisations operating in regional or rural centres to contact us for learning and development programs for your team. We understand the challenge of accessing high quality training that regional areas encounter!

We offer the following short course programs:

  • Investigation skills
  • Stepping into Leadership Roles
  • Dealing with Difficult People
  • Meaningful meetings made easy
  • Building Resilience
  • Creating High Performance Teams
  • Managing Challenging Behaviours
  • Preparing for Difficult Conversations
  • Taking Control in a Crisis

All our short course programs can be tailored to meet your organisational requirements. 
Please contact us to build your own custom made program delivered by experienced managers and educators.

All our short courses can be delivered conveniently on site around Australia.

Please contact us for details.

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Posted by on in Workplace training

As professional mediators, the PSW HR Solutions team are often asked by clients for advice about how to handle difficult conversations in the workplace.  

It is a predictable part of working life that we will need to have difficult conversations with clients, staff and stakeholders at some point. Many managers rely on their position to ‘manage’ people rather than developing the skills to lead through engagement and the ability to influence. 

Proactively managing difficult conversations can be a litmus test for many people in the workplace.  Unfortunately, many people find the process intimidating and go to great lengths to avoid a personal conversation.  Alternatively, a clumsy response can inflame the potential conflict which makes the situation even more uncomfortable for everyone!

When handled well, difficult conversations can be a good thing.  

They create opportunities for people to find common ground, confirm expectations around behaviour and performance and create improved understanding. Open and personal communication allows ongoing organisational problems/ festering issues that often affect others in the workplace to be positively managed. Confident management of challenging conversations can be the catalyst for new or improved workplace practices and processes being implemented. They may even create the space for new perspectives to be considered and/or result in a change in management direction or thinking.

So how do you get from the ‘Houston, we have a problem’ stage to sustainable positive outcomes? 

A great place to start is with your preparation and planning skills. Here are our top tips to improve your confidence in managing even the hardest workplace conversations:

1.  Prepare before the discussion. Consider time, date and place. Your goal is to progress the situation positively, not make it worse. Reflect on what the key points of the discussion need to be so you can stay focused and don’t get side-tracked or forget important things you need to mention.  The location can be critical in platforming positive outcomes – where is the best location to raise contentious issues?

2.  Do your research to ensure the information you intend to provide is accurate. Distinguish between opinions, hearsay and facts. Don’t make assumptions about the other person’s motives or intentions – and don’t assume that they will be able to see things from your point of view.

3.  Be clear in your own mind about what you want to achieve from the conversation.  Are you just trying to raise the other person’s awareness of a difficult issue or aiming for a change in work performance, personal attitude or behaviour?  Try to summarise your goal/s in two or three short sentences. What outcome from the discussion would you consider to be a satisfactory result? Can it be measured. If so, how?

4.  What will your opening statement be? This could set the tone for the entire conversation so think about it carefully. Mentally rehearse what you want to say in your mind. Picture yourself calmly outlining what the issues and impacts are for the individual concerned, the team, and the workplace as a whole. Can you think of a way to start and finish on a positive and supporting note? 

5.  How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of the information that you will provide? Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would you feel fear, embarrassment, anger or shame?  Anticipate and prepare for the person to ‘vent’ or become emotional.  Anticipate the range of reactions and plan for those responses.

5.  Focus on your communication skills – verbal, non verbal and active listening skills. Keep the language around the discussion as objective and unemotional as possible. Your capacity to communicate assertively and confidently will be a key factor in your ability to manage difficult conversations positively. 

6.  Consider what your role may have been in the situation. Don’t just rely on your own judgement.  Ask a trusted colleague for their perspective. You may not be fully aware how your own actions or words have influenced the behaviour, attitude or decisions of others.  If, on reflection, you feel you may be at fault in some way, be prepared to be honest and open about your part in the matter.

7.  Show respect for the other person. Don’t ambush them with an unexpected meeting or tip-toe around the subject in fear of an imminent explosion. Be courageous and clearly articulate the reason for needing to have the conversation, i.e. be specific about the issue/s you want to talk about.  Book an agreed date and time to have the discussion. Most people appreciate a direct approach and authenticity far more than side-steps and false camaraderie.

8.  Be prepared to allow the other person to help come up with a solution or next steps forward.  This will show that you are listening, being open and flexible.  It may also mean the other party is more likely to respect and abide by whatever actions are agreed upon as a result of the discussion.

If you would like to speak to the PSW HR Solutions team about working with your management and leadership teams on how to handle the difficult conversations, please get in touch.

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All successful organisations know that developing employees makes good business sense.  However tight economic times have put training budgets under pressure. Fortunately there are a range of options organisations can explore to improve the skill sets of their teams.

The key to ensuring a good return on your development dollar is to ensure programs are focused on:

  • What are the gaps in the business that training and development can impact on?
  • How will the training add value to the business?
  • Which team members will benefit most?
  • What format of development activities best suits both the organisation and the learner? 
  • How will we evaluate the learning and development activity?


Why developing your staff makes sense

Training helps organisations run better

Trained employees will be better equipped to manage technology improvements, handle customers, keep up to date with legislative changes and perform their duties safely for example. 

A learning and development culture is a recruiting tool

Staff members are looking to develop their skills now that many people are working for longer periods. Similarly, research shows younger workers are more likely to be recruited to organisations that can demonstrate ongoing learning values. In short, you are more likely to attract and keep good employees if you can offer development opportunities.  

Investing in your people builds loyalty

Well thought through learning programs send a clear message to your teams that you value them enough to invest in them. 

Learning and development promotes job satisfaction

Nurturing employees to develop more rounded skill sets will help them contribute to the company. The more engaged and involved they are in working for your success, the better your rewards.

Training is a retention tool, instilling commitment from good workers

Team members who may be looking to pursue their next challenge will be more likely to stay if you offer ways for them to learn and grow while with your organisation. This directly affects costs and disruptions through reduced turnover.

Training adds flexibility and efficiency

You can cross-train employees to be capable in more than one area of the organisation. This flexibility can be applied horizontally and vertically. Succession planning across the organisation and in management structures can be facilitated through targeted learning programs. The organisation is risk managing around absence and the team member is being challenged by developing valuable new skills. Cross-training also fosters team spirit, as team members can begin to appreciate the challenges faced by co-workers in a new light!

Development and training is essential for knowledge transfer

It's very important to share knowledge among your staff. If only one person has special skills, you'll have a tough time recouping their knowledge if they suddenly leave the company. Spread knowledge around — it's like diversifying your investments.

What options are available to develop staff?

  • Group training - delivered in house/with other organisations by internal trainers/external providers.
  • elearning programs conducted both internally and externally
  • Mentoring – structured or informal programs.  Internal/External mentors can be involved
  • Job rotation
  • Work shadowing
  • Self study – Partial or full sponsorship for staff undertaking external programs with relevance to the business.  Study leave options for staff in lieu of financial support.
  • Peer training
  • Opportunities to grow skill sets through projects
  • 1:1 training programs
  • Cross organisational training – developing relationships with other organisations to provide opportunities to staff members to learn skills in other businesses.

Choosing the right program structure will depend on your team members, your operational requirements and the learning outcomes you are seeking.

For more information on options for learning and development in your organisation, please contact us. 

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