Articles and Resources - Communication



How to MC an Event

You were asked to be the Master of Ceremonies (MC) of an event.  When you agreed to do it, it seemed like an easy task – all you need to do is to introduce a speaker or two, tell some good jokes and thank everyone for coming.  Piece of cake, right?   Not so fast … there are several considerations before you reach for the microphone.

These are some pointers to help you get started and perform without a hitch.

Start by doing some research:
-    What is the date, time and location?
-    What is the nature or theme of the event?  Ie: retirement, wedding, 25th anniversary celebration
-    Who will be in the audience?
-    Who will you introduce?
-    Are there any sensitive topics that you should avoid?
-    Will there be entertainment during the event?
-    Speak to the people who you will be working with and develop rapport.
-    When preparing the introduction of each speaker or act:
      o    Request a bio or backgrounder 
      o    Take the audience into his/her world
      o    Intrigue the audience by the speaker’s topic 
      o    Impress the audience with their accomplishments

You have done the research, now it is time to work on the flow.

-    Practice what you will be saying in advance of the event, but most importantly, practice the flow.
-    Write down what you will say and do.
-    Practice, practice and practice some more, including a walkthrough of the event Ie:  walk up to the podium, set your notes down,  look at the audience and count 1-2-3, introduce the first speaker, shake their hand (if appropriate), thank the speaker, and so forth.


-    Start by introducing yourself and how you fit in with the event.  Ie:  best man of the wedding party, manager of the employee who is retiring, or Chairperson of the conference
-    Give your opening remarks, provide some humor related to the event or a funny story and develop a connection with the audience.
-    Reference your notes and do not rely only on your memory.  The brain is a wonderful thing.  It starts to work the moment we are born and stops when we are in front of an audience! 
-    During each introduction, strive to make a connection with each speaker or act.
-    Lead the applause.
-    Shake their hand (if appropriate) and lead them to where they will be speaking.
-    If they are going overtime, spin your finger in the air as an indication to keep it moving.
-    Think about what you are going to say and do next.  Always plan the next step and what action you will be taking.  By knowing what each person or act will be doing, you will not be blindsided.
-    Keep the event flowing smoothly.
-    If something happens that was not in the plan – just go with the flow, maybe make a joke out of it and keep the agenda moving. 
-    Add practiced good natured humor and entertainment.

After the speaker(s) are finished
-    Lead the applause.
-    Thank them and present them with a gift (if appropriate).
-    Direct them in the general direction of the stage exit.

-    Wrap up the event by mentioning some of the highlights.
-    Thank the event organizers, volunteers and anyone else who was in attendance or took on a role.
-    Sit back, relax and reflect on what went well and how to strengthen the next one.

A few tips:

-    The MC is not the main act – but a conduit between the audience and main reason for the event.
-    The MC’s main role is to keep the flow of the meeting going smoothly and entertaining the audience.
-    Add some good-natured humor.  It is best if you are the subject of your own jokes – rather than someone else.
-    Only tell a joke if you would say it in Church to your Grandmother.
-    Start and end on time!
-    Dress appropriately for the event.  
-    Absolutely no alcoholic drinks. 
-    Have fun!



How to Prepare for a Presentation - The Quick & Easy Way

It seemed like a good idea at the time. You agreed to give a presentation. The day is fast approaching and now you are getting anxious. Now what? First, you must be comfortable with the subject, or have the time to carefully research the topic.

By answering these questions, you will be able to prepare a memorable presentation in a minimal amount of time.

  1. Purpose - What is the purpose of the presentation? Is it to give information, to be persuasive, to entertain or to share emotion? For example, if you are giving information, the objective would be to explain the features of the most recent insurance policy.
  2. Audience - Who is in your audience and how familiar are they with the topic? This will determine the breadth and depth of your communications strategy. If you are speaking to seasoned management professionals on how to use an electronic Travel form, they will only need to know the basics and changes to the form, while a summer student would need a detailed explanation of the features of the tool and how to navigate through it.
  3. Time - How much time do you have to deliver? The longer the time, the more details you will provide. The delivery time will determine the number of examples, stories and explanations that are given.
  4. Content - What are the main points that you will talk about? What does the audience need to know? What information do you need to give the audience in order to meet your objectives? We usually speak in groups of 3, 5 or 7 (depending on the time). What are the 3 most important ideas you need to get across? Now, how are you going to get your ideas across? Tell a story, draw a diagram, explain the contents of a form, refer to a picture, give a famous quote or analogy.
  5. Visual Aids - What visual aids will you use? For example, Power Point slides, handouts, flipchart, videos, or whiteboard. Visual aids are meant to enhance the presentation – not take over it. The speaker is the focus of the presentation. How and when will you use the visuals? Remember to mix it up and provide some variety ... within reason, of course. 
  6. Practice, practice, practice - How should you practice? Verbally provide your presentation to a co-worker, friend, or family member. This will make you more comfortable with the content and give you a good "feel" for the flow of the material. The tone should be conversational, as if you where having a talk across the coffee table. Be sure to time yourself and remember that the actual presentation will take less time, as we tend to speak more quickly when we are nervous.
  7. Humor - Do you need humor? Absolutely. All humor needs to tie into the material and to serve a purpose. A good rule of thumb is to only tell the jokes that you would say to your Grandmother in Church.

Benjamin Franklin said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." By using these quick and easy presentation ideas you will be prepared and ready to deliver an outstanding presentation to your audience.



How to State Your Disagreement – Without Ticking Anyone Off

You have been asked for your opinion on an issue, but you know that you are not going to give a popular response. How can you state your opinion without causing offense or resentment? 

This is a structure with 6 easy steps to help you state your opinion without ruffling any feathers, and still get your ideas across.

Stop and Think – Some of us tend to speak before our brain is in gear. So take a few seconds to be quiet and think ... What do I think about this? Why do I think this? This reflection will help you to collect your thoughts and plan your strategy.

Rephrase what you heard them say. Put in your own words the ideas that you believe you heard. By rephrasing, we are checking our understanding and the other person either confirms or corrects our interpretation. 

Buffer – Use a phrase to gently broach the idea. It says that you value what they have said, but you are going to share another perspective. Some phrases might be:

  • I hear what you are saying – here’s another thought ...
  • I appreciate your views – here’s another way of looking at it ...
  • Interesting perspective ...
  • Something else to consider ...
  • I understand your concern ...
  • Something else to think about ...
  • This company has another way of looking at it ...

State What You Think and Why – Give them the goods, in a diplomatic way. 

Evidence – Support your idea with an example to back up your opinion. The evidence might consist of a personal experience, something that you studied, read about, researched, or observed. Evidence usually cannot be disputed. It supports your opinion and adds credibility to it.

Opinion – Conclude by saying – therefore my opinion on this issue is …

Let’s say that your office is having a meeting to discuss its current space. The office is bursting at the seams and you need a bigger facility. A suggestion is made to relocate the premises to a larger facility. You do not want to move, at this time.

  1. Stop and think – I don't want to move from the current location. It is a convenient location for my clients.
  2. Rephrase – So you think that our office should move, because the space cannot accommodate the new hires.
  3. Buffer – Something else to consider …
  4. State What You Think – Rather than a move, I think that we should expand into the vacant space that is next to our office. It will save us time and resources, and our clients will not be inconvenienced. 
  5. Evidence – Yesterday I had a client who said our location is very convenient for her, as it is just a block away from a bus stop. Other clients have remarked on how easy it is to find parking. 
  6. Opinion – Therefore, I believe that we should stay in our existing location and expand our premises.

This 6-step structure will help us to organize our thoughts and ideas in a difference of opinion scenario. Structure is important, as it takes out the emotional side of disagreements and gives us something to positively focus on. It helps us to resolve the issue, saves time, energy and frustration, and keeps individuals engaged in the conversation.



7 Ways to Increase Trust in the Workplace

During a management training session, the question was asked, "How important is trust?" Several responses agreed that trust was overwhelming important to the success of an organization. "Without trust, I have nothing. I have complete trust in my employees," said one experienced manager.

Personal experience has shown that trust has a direct relationship to productivity. With high trust, productivity soars, and with a low level of trust, productivity goes down. 

Trust takes time to build, but it can be quickly broken in a matter of minutes. Some indicators of low trust are excessive red tape, extreme bureaucracy, and intense office politics that result in low morale, absenteeism, fraud, disengagement, and staff turnover. So, how do organizations build trust?

Seven ways to increase trust are:

  1. Model Trust - Trust starts at the top with senior leaders and funnels down to managers and supervisors. Senior leaders must have integrity and demonstrate sound values and ethics. They must model trust. Employees will observe and practice the examples set by leaders.
  2. Trust is Reciprocal - In order to build trust, you must trust others. As difficult as it may sound, take a risk (within reason) and place trust in your manager, co-worker or even a teenager! Every time they follow through, your trust will increase. They will take notice and build their level of trust with you. Then the circle of trust will expand.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate.  This is crucial, especially when units are going through change.  According to most employees, the most important thing that they need is the uncompromised truth. Even if the news is bad – they want to know. Tell others what you know and what you don’t know. People cannot get enough information, especially when change is imminent. Don’t hold back, tell them the way it is and you will build trust.
  4. Follow through – Do what you say that you will do. Every time you have a conversation, it will either build or erode trust. 
  5. Ask for help – Admit it, there are times when you need help from others – so seek it out. Encourage others to share their ideas and experience, remember the saying, two heads are better than one. By placing trust in others, it shows that you trust them.
  6. Support – Provide support to others when they need it, but without taking away responsibility. Step back and watch others learn and grow, but step in and respond to their needs when they need encouragement.
  7. Listen with empathy – Be present when listening. Try to understand their feelings and where they are coming from.  

To see how well your team practices trust behaviors, take the Reina team trust quiz at



The 2 - Minute Briefing

You have spent many hours researching an issue or problem and now it is time to deliver a briefing. You have 15 minutes of information that need to be delivered in 2 minutes.  Properly planning and organizing your approach will give you the results you need.

Determine the purpose of the briefing. Ask yourself, why am I giving this briefing? Is it to make a request, to make a recommendation, to pursuade, or to inform? What do you want the Manager to know, understand, or approve after the meeting? Then determine the type of information you need to supply in order to make this happen.

Consider the Manager's background, experience and context of the information. If they have been updated previously, then you will need less background information and focus more on new details, recommendations and findings. Have an idea of their strategic position, as this will give you an idea of the type of questions they may ask. Consider if they are a big picture or details person. What is your preferred style and how do you adapt your style to meet their needs?

A good verbal briefing is organized into 2 parts: 1) The Request, and 2) The Rationale.

1. The Request
In the first 30 seconds state up front your key point or what you are asking for in the briefing.  Give the importance or relevance of the request.  For example, the purpose of this meeting is to ask for approval to move forward with the expansion plans.

2. The Rationale
The 90 second rationale should include information that is needed for a good quality decision. Ensure that your background information does not include more than 3 or 4 main points. Indicate the key points, rationale and justification. Use signal words such as first, second, next, and the final consideration. Restate your key point at the ending.

By carefully planning and organizing the briefing, you will be able to state your ideas clearly and concisely, and ultimately achieving the results you desire.

We would love to have your feedback! Tell us what you have done and the positive results that were achieved!!


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