Business Communication

Your Team Needs to Hear That You Value Them

Your team is your greatest asset. You know that. But life, work, and the world is moving so fast….

Yes. That’s exactly why you need to make it a priority to make your team members feel seen and valued. Here are some ways to do it.

Recognize Individuality

Acknowledge the unique qualities each team member brings. Embrace diversity—be it in skills, backgrounds, or perspectives. When individual uniqueness feels acknowledged, inclusivity flourishes.

Unleash Superpowers

Identify and leverage the strengths of each team member. Everyone has superpowers that contribute to the team’s success. Use these strengths to fuel motivation and purpose.

Acknowledge Hard (and Good) Work

Don’t underestimate the power of appreciation. Regularly express gratitude for your team’s efforts. A simple “thank you” goes a long way, but adding the “why” goes even further in fostering a culture of value. Some phrases that work: “If it weren’t for you…” or “What you proposed made all the difference….” You get the idea.

Cultivate a Culture of Value

Build a culture where communication is open, feedback is kind and constructive, and everyone’s well-being is a priority. This not only boosts job satisfaction but also creates a resilient and high-performing team.

Success is intertwined with the value each team member feels. See your team, appreciate differences, unleash superpowers, and recognize good work.

Strengthen these bonds, and you’ll cultivate a culture of respect, collaboration, and success.

Communication matters, as does every member of your team.

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The Power of Your Name

See my facial expression in this photo? It’s expressing how I feel when someone calls me “Mike” right after I’ve introduced myself as “Michael.”

If you call me Mike and you aren’t family or a super-close friend, I know you don’t know me well.

What else does it mean?

That’s right, the person didn’t listen.

Listen. That’s leadership lesson 1 from this brief rant. Lesson 2 is this…

People appreciate hearing their own names. In fact, the use of personal names in communication has been shown to enhance attention and recall, and makes people feel recognized and important.

In short, people light up when they hear the music of their own name.

So, use people’s names when you communicate. And when you meet someone new, listen carefully when they introduce themselves to you, and say their name back to them. (Nice to meet you, Anthony.)

It’s not just a word; it’s a powerful connection. Plus, you’re more likely to remember it if you say it out loud.

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Blind Spots and Strengths Gone Awry

Oops, I did it again. I came off as arrogant. Now, I’ve been called arrogant 4 times during my professional journey.

Each time it hurt my heart. Because I don’t mean to be perceived that way. Ever. Full stop.

Arrogance is the flip side of my self-confidence strength. And when I show up as overly self-confident in the eyes of others, they can see me as arrogant. This used to be (and sometimes still is) a blind spot for me.

The missing piece is that in most cases I am using my self-confidence strength with positive intent — I want to help. I want to cheerlead. I want to make sure someone else sees their own greatness.

But that doesn’t always work. And now that I am more self-aware of the strengths I can overdo (perseverance is another one — boy can I look stubborn sometimes), I can see and feel it happening. And most of the time I can dial it back and save myself.

But not always. Ahh, still a work in progress.

What strengths do you tend to overdo? And are they limiting your effectiveness when you don’t realize how they’re affecting others?

Think about it. And if you need help uncovering your overdone strengths, reach out. I’ve got a terrific assessment that shines the light on them for you — so you can better manage perceptions in the future.

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Before You Cancel That Meeting…

Your time is valuable. So is the time of the people you lead. That’s why it’s so important to keep your commitments. A big mistake I see leaders make often is breaking commitments with a simple act: cancelling meetings at the last minute.

What does doing so say? One clear message is that you don’t value the time of the people who were expecting to meet with you.

The result? Let’s name a few: frustration, feelings of disrespect, damage to the trust you have with them….

Not good.

Here are some tips.

  • Don’t overcommit. Be mindful of your calendar. Before agreeing to a meeting, make sure that you actually have the time available.
  • Plan time for the unexpected. Every new day brings new opportunities for the unexpected. Be sure you hold time on your calendar for those events, so you don’t need to cancel meetings to address them.
  • Communicate early if you know that you might not be able to make a meeting. This will give the other person a chance to reschedule or find a backup.
  • Be apologetic if you do have to cancel a meeting. There are times when cancelling is truly unavoidable. When that happens, explain the reason for the cancellation and apologize for any inconvenience.

Show your people that you are reliable, and that you value their time by keeping your commitments to meetings. Start and end them on time, too. Doing so will help you build stronger relationships with your team and create a more trusting and productive environment.

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The Pursuit of Perfection Causes All Sorts of Problems

With all the interactions we have with one another each day, it’s not realistic to think that every one of them can be perfect.

You’re not perfect, your team isn’t perfect, and you know what? That’s okay. When we put on the pressure for things to be just right or for everything to work out the way we wish it always would, we set ourselves and our people up for disappointment.

The same goes for when you are preparing for a presentation or speech. Look, most people (if not all) feel some level of nervousness when they speak in public. When I coach presenters and work to help them get to the root of their anxiousness, we often uncover that the fear of being imperfect is the main culprit. It…

  • stops them from being themselves.
  • makes them look and sound nervous.
  • puts up a wall between them and the audience.
  • adds unnecessary pressure.

I get it. Nobody likes to look silly in front of others (well, I don’t mind but that’s a story for another day). And you do need to prepare well in order to present well.

But when we let the pursuit of perfection paralyze us, nobody wins. 

Imagine if everyone — every creative person, every parent, every leader — could offer the gifts they have to share with the world without fearing they’re not good enough, smart enough, or whatever enough. 

Wow, I like that image.

I believe that good communication and leadership require intention, thought, practice, and care. Does that mean all communications must be perfect?


Don’t go for perfect. Aim to make your communication matter to someone.

Then you both win.

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Clocks on a wall with different time zones

Time Zones

I talk a lot about making sure your communications are written for your audience, and not only for yourself. Of course, we have a goal or an agenda with every communication we send — and when we can communicate in a way that also considers the needs and goals of our audience as well, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

This post is inspired by a client of mine who recently said, “I love the way you communicate meetings in my time zone. It makes it so much easier for me. Thank you.” 

That made me feel great. I had spent only a few more seconds when writing an email to make sure I listed my proposed meeting times in her time zone first. For example, “How about next Thursday at 1 pm PT (4 pm my time) or Friday at 10 am PT (1 pm my time).

It’s a simple thing, but that extra moment crafting the message for her made a difference. And I’m so happy she told me.

If you’re like me and you have clients or coworkers all over the globe, consider making it easier for them to convert times to their local zone if you can. Oh, and put your time zone in your email signature — it helps avoid emails back and forth to ask, “what time zone are you in again?”

Photo by Luis Cortes on Unsplash

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Woman composing emails or text messages on her phone.

Setting Each Other Up for Success

When you craft your next email or text message, ask yourself, “Am I writing this to be read by me, or by the person, the human being, who I am addressing it to?” 

Chances are you’re writing it in a style that works for you, and not necessarily them. 

If you’ve ever been to one of my workshops or training programs, you know that the first rule of any communication is to know your audience. This is true for every piece of communication you send throughout your work day — and your personal communications, too. When we are intentional about the way we communicate with each other and respectful of our differences, there is a much higher chance that the results will be more positive.

For example, if you know that Alex never responds to all your questions in your emails, then don’t send him emails with 15 questions embedded throughout several paragraphs of text. Send an email with a brief introduction, and 1 or 2 questions (bulleted out) that he can scan and reply to quickly. Voila, you’ve just set him up for success. He can move fast, like his job requires, and still give you what you needed because you considered his needs as well.

Here’s another example. Let’s say that your boss, Janelle, has been losing track of your emails and Teams chats because there is too much on her plate this week. Instead of firing off 8 different emails during the day on a variety of topics that don’t need immediate responses, collect your questions or issues and batch them into 1 email that she can respond to later. Or, if responses are not needed by the next day, scheduled time to sit down with her and talk through your items. You’ll likely get all the answers you need with no additional emails in her, or your, inbox.

These are just a few examples. You get the idea. 

Here’s my challenge to you. During your day today, pay special attention to 3 pieces of communication you send to someone else. With each, whether over text, email, Zoom, Teams, or in person, consider this question: 

How can I set this person up for success?

It will make your communications more productive, I promise. The bonus is that you’ll save time and reduce frustration on both sides. 

Photo by on Unsplash

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When I led a brand communication agency, I had to do a lot of pitches. In preparation for each pitch meeting, my team and I would craft a presentation that would tell the prospect a story that we thought would resonate with them. It would include an assessment of their situation, our proposed approach to solving their problem, and samples of previous work and the results they created. Then, I’d rehearse the presentation to death. I was always confident and ready to present it by meeting day.

80 percent of the time, I would not present it as planned — and that was by design

My goal when walking into the room was always to get my audience talking first. If I could do so, the meeting would naturally become a conversation — an opportunity to share experiences, pain points, and potential solutions as real people genuinely interested in collaborating. Would I use the slides we had prepared? In most cases, yes. But I would jump around and bring up examples as the conversation warranted. It all depended on how the conversation went. A few times, not a single slide was shown and we still won the work.

20% of the time, the people in the room needed to see the traditional pitch, and I would give it to them. Still, I would try to treat the presentation as a conversation, getting them involved along the way as much as possible, and trying to make it a two-way dialogue instead of a monologue.

Next time you need to present, think about your audience and what they need to hear from you — and also why you both are there. Then consider how to make it more of a conversation than a speech or presentation. It’s not always possible, but when it is, a two-way dialogue will make it easier for you to build a stronger relationship from the start.

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An Example of an Overloaded PowerPoint Slide

Can One Slide Deck Really Do It All?

When you give a presentation, your slides should be simple and clear. They should support you as you convey your messages, whether you’re persuading, entertaining, inspiring, or educating. They should never cause your audience to have to read or decipher too much information. If that happens, then you’ve lost them. They are no longer listening to you.

I teach people how to create and deliver powerful and engaging presentations. Part of that training is focused on the right balance of text and graphics on slides. It should not be a lot, and 95 percent of the presentations I see in the corporate world are too overloaded with content.

Often, the reasons for such jam-packed slides are:

“I need that content on the slides so I don’t forget.”

“The slides have to tell the whole story if I’m not there to present the deck.”

“I have to send the slides out as a pre-read before my presentation.”

“My audience needs to see all the data. I can’t omit anything.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Here’s why:

  • If you think you’re going to forget things, use slide notes instead. And rehearse more.
  • You are there to tell the story when presenting. If you need the slides to tell the story without you, it’s no longer a presentation. You need a separate slide deck or other leave behind that does that work.
  • Pre-reads are pre-reads, not presentations. You need a separate slide deck or another prepared document for the pre-read.
  • Your audience needs you to make your points as clearly as possible. If they want to see more data, they’ll ask for it, and you can have it ready as backup.

Sounds like you might need more than one slide deck.

More work? Yes. Worth it? You bet.

A presentation is not about you. It’s about your audience. If you want to truly achieve your goal of persuading, entertaining, inspiring, or educating, you must make sure your presentation is engaging, compelling, easily digestible, and memorable.

You can’t do that by asking your audience to listen to you while also slogging through overloaded visuals at the same time.

Originally published at on February 8, 2021.

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Purpose, Learning, and the Art of the Pivot with Pete Sandford

Podcast: Purpose, Learning, and the Art of the Pivot with Pete Sandford

I originally invited my friend Pete Sandford of NXLevel Solutions to join me on Convey to talk about how he masterfully communicates as a sales and business development guy. 

But when he and I were talking a few weeks ago, we got on the topic of our respective career paths and on the topic of purpose — which many of you know is one of my favorite topics. 

Pete’s story is very different than mine, but we share a very similar perspective on the common theme or thread in our stories. That thread is something most people have — they just haven’t spent much time noticing it

Listen to this episode to hear Pete’s story — it’s about purpose, pivoting, adapting, and growing as a lifelong learner. And yes, we also touch on his unique and authentic style of selling.

Visit Pete’s Websites: and

Check out this episode’s sponsor, Darianna Bridal and Tuxedo:

Learn more about your host, Michael Piperno:

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