Fonts are important to give language a design and branding. Fonts turn words into impactful triggers on an audience’s different senses. Font psychology and choice are something a communicator can’t afford to overlook.

Did you know that fonts were originally created by hand? Printers would arrange the letters and characters in their (work)shop and so a font was often named after the printer who created it. Take Garamond, named after the French printer Claude Garamonde. Or Bodoni, named after the Italian typographer Giambattista Bodoni: Their fonts are still in use today. Classic and universally recognizable.

Giving font selection careful thought when (re)designing your brand, website, brochure or other collateral is as important today as it was back then. What would fonts say about themselves if they could speak?

“My name is Times New Roman > I am not original”
“My name is Comic Sans > People do not take me seriously”
“My name is Helvetica > I look good in everything: From email, to PPT slides or as the Mac system font”

Concentration only works if you are fit – mentally and physically. So, it’s good to free your mind from mental clutter every now and then. Maybe you have the luxury of meditating, breathing or doing mindfulness exercises before a meeting? Or a 1-minute relaxation to clear your mind before you get active?

Focus is the new “IQ”, and regular brain breaks help to sustain it. So, why not inserting the perfect pause into your daily routine? And, what makes a pause perfect anyway?

The timing

  • Multitasking is a myth. Better to focus on one task only
  • Don’t focus on a single task for more than 45 minutes. Three quarters of an hour is considered the ideal amount of time to focus on one item before our brain starts to require a break and becomes more inefficient

The duration

  • Take a break of at least 7.5 minutes

The type

  • Be strict about what you do during your pause
  • Don’t spend it staying at the same (work)place
  • Change the scenery: Go for a walk – outside (yes, even if it’s cold or rainy!)
  • Don’t take your mobile phone with you
  • Don’t fill the pause with ‘brain-consuming’ activities, such as reading the newspaper or watching the news. Give the brain room to muse
  • Consider using the Pomodoro technique. Invented by Francesco Cirillo as a time management tool, the pomodoro stands for the kitchen timer with which Cirillo divided the working day into time blocks of 25 minutes, delimited by breaks of 5 minutes. A simple, but effective method to work fully focused in certain periods, to then regularly clear your head completely and start the next period fresh.

The cold

  • Join a Wim Hof Training and step into an ice bath. Take it from me – this is a full immersion pause and does miracles to your ability to focus!

Covid-19 hit most companies when their organizational culture still showed a top-down working style: Stylish top management corner offices, employees required to punch in and out for work, and pay checks tied to attendance (rather than performance). Will the quarantine change conservative corporate culture for good?

Actually, The Netherlands, was the first country to revolutionize work and communication practices long before Covid-19 and the concept of the 6-Feet-office.They invented the new, remote way of working – with creative agencies and tech start-ups as early adopters. Some examples of how they replaced Presenteeism by activity-based working:

Virtual ‘check in’
Employees work any time and anywhere: They don’t clock in or out, but start the day by sending a ‘check-in’ photo to an internal app group

Output only
Employees have a personal work plan (results to achieve) and submit daily work reports through apps. Their actual hours worked don’t matter – their discipline does

Around the globe
Employees adopt agile working principles, technology and facilities. They work location-free (being based anywhere in the world) and are part of virtual teams. All documentation needed from “the office” can be accessed without ever going near the building

Email ban
Despite a blurred border between home and work, employees have the right to disconnect: Their company sets its internal servers to not route emails to employees during certain hours/times. The result: Increased staff well-being and health

Travel ban
Travel policies are updated, avoiding travel whenever possible and encouraging virtual meetings

Office space
Open-plan designs and creative spaces replace traditional offices, which nurtures innovative ideas, speed up decision-making and foster cultural change. Some companies install English telephone booths (the iconic red phone kiosks from the UK), allowing personal phone calls. The phone cabins provide oxygen for 1 hour max. (no joke)

Leaders lead
Leaders are assessed annually on how well they support agile working of their teams. This feeds into their bonus. All board members are visible, and have so-called casual collisions with employees anywhere around the building. Perfect internal communication!

Work is a product
“Work” is no longer a place to go to. It’s an activity for a purpose. A “job” is no longer a list of tasks performed by an employee, but a tradeable commodity that is paid by results. To get a piece of work done, companies put out a request on the internet and offer it to an independent contractor or freelancer, who, in turn, bids for work online and gets paid for results.

So – will the quarantine change conservative corporate culture for good?

Yes, I think organizations will be transforming from rigid employers to flexible networks in order to get the best results from people. Look at Twitter or Facebook: They just announced they’ll allow their employees to work from home ‘forever’.

2020: Welcome to a planet in quarantine (aka Corona pandemic). Around the world, live meetings are out, digital is in. Whether you use Skype, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts or Facetime (to name, but a few), the principles for online meeting success remain amazingly consistent when you follow a few basic steps.

In the past few months, people have asked me to share tips on how to run good online workshops and meetings. It turns out I have quite some experience with that, so, here’s my personal shortlist of take-aways. No particular order. They work.

1. Create your video studio

  • Create a professional or plain background behind you for every videoconference
  • Install adequate lighting and a decent microphone (most earbuds work fine)

2. Dress for success (at least the parts visible onscreen)

  • Dress for the day
  • Your morning prep routine determines your mindset for the day. Don’t join conference calls in bed in your pajamas (even though it’s tempting …)
  • Brush your teeth

3. Do a dry run

  • Be sure the system works. Technical complications mean trouble
  • Do the slides work? The sound? Are pictures in the presentation compressed to reduce file size and bandwidth, thus reducing the risk of freezing or unresponsive connections?

4. Turn off

5. Interact

  • Call on people
  • Don’t go more than five minutes without asking a question — even if you just ask participants to write quick answers in a chat box. This gets people’s thoughts going
  • When you do want an answer, call on someone specific. Then people will have to pay attention. They don’t want to be the person who fumbles, isn’t ready to unmute or missed the question

6. Be crisp

  • What’s true for a live presentation is doubly true for a presentation online. Keep your messages brisk
  • Use short sentences
  • Use the power of 3 (bullet points per slide)
  • Shorten the session. A two-hour live workshop equals a 60-minute online version. Live events consist of 50% non-verbal and only-social interaction. Not so relevant in the online version
  • Compress your content, and people leave hungry for more, motivated to do assignments afterwards

7. Entertain

  • Nothing is worse than a dull monotone voice, reading the bullets on a screen
  • Play with the tone and pitch of your voice, change your speech rhythm, throw in a silly joke — whatever works with your personality
  • The key is to be a little unpredictable

If you’re looking for an individual 2-hour coaching session of how to better communicate in online meetings, contact danibu.

 

There is no substitute for a good conversation – with whoever. But, interviews are not conversations: It’s the media’s opportunity to get a story. Your job is to tell your story, your way – you don’t have to answer the question asked!

To improve your media skills, you need to prepare, prepare, prepare! I’ve said it 3 times because it’s THAT important! Even if you do interviews frequently, you’ll benefit from rehearsal: Practicing bridging and flagging techniques, trying out answers to tough questions, or simply hearing the words come out of your mouth. Have a colleague role play as the reporter and ask you a few questions while you go through the 9 golden rules for interview preparedness:

  1. Never lie
  2. Never say “no comment”
  3. There is no “off the record”, so you can better ask “Can I see the quotes before you use them? When’s your deadline? Do you need pictures?”
  4. Be short, get to the point and always think of the audience
  5. Stay confident and look at the interviewer (you don’t have anything to hide, do you?). When seated, lean forward slightly. This posture will give you a sense of energy and make you look like an active storyteller, rather than a passive person who is there just to answer questions.
  6. Use simple language, avoid jargon, bridge and flag where appropriate: “Is there a particular angle you want to take, or should we just talk generally?” “Would you be interested in talking about …?”
  7. Stay in control. Remember you’re doing the interview because you have a story to tell. Stick to your position, no matter how many times they ask.
  8. Don’t speculate: It’s OK to say “I don’t know, but I’ll find out”.
  9. Relax! In the end, reporters want to talk with people who sound like regular human beings. They don’t want to interview people who merely sound like they are reading a press release or prepared statement.

You have a looming speech ahead and no idea where to begin. Commencing work on a new presentation usually means lots of ideas spinning in your head and not knowing how to sort them.

The solution is a speech map. It’s a simple mind map (yes, really drawn on a physical piece of paper), on which you outline your talk. The speech map (or speech diagram) shows your ideas linked to and arranged radially around your central key topic. Drawing the map makes your ideas graphic, prioritizes your thoughts and shows connections between information. So, basically, you ‘sort your brain’.

Here is the danibu speech map template you can use for the preparation of your next public speech. Simply edit it by changing and including the topics that you are going to deliver:

1. Crystallize the subject of attention in a central theme. This is your headline
2. Define – ideally 3 – key points, radiating as branches from your headline
3. Add another level of 3 supporting points (details) from your key points

Flying shame, slow travel, train bragging, climate grief …

These are just a few new buzzwords the growing Climate change activist movement has prompted lately.

Triggered by a Swedish-born anti-flying movement (flygskam), concerns about the world’s climate are spreading across the world – which creates a whole new vocabulary of green words. The climate-conscious sentiment is bound to grow, and will change the way we communicate about sustainability in general. Do you speak green yet?

Also called graphic recording, this is the real-time translation of conversations into text and pictures – and a really powerful tool. Maybe for your next team meeting? It allows you to create a visual memory of what’s said. How it works? You hire a so-called ‘Graphic recorder’ and he/she will capture – with a marker on a whiteboard – what was said or visualize complex problems. The end result is a visual map of key insights that can be reflected on and shared after the event.

I’ve seen graphic recordings in a number of client meetings by now and can say they do increase engagement, stir people into creative thinking and improve collaboration. I can’t disclose my clients’ graphic recordings in this post, unfortunately, but I can share two generic graphic recordings I have: One on ‘what is graphic recording’, and one on my biggest passion: Tango!

Shout if you’re interested to learn more about visual recording or if you need the name of a good graphic recorder in your area.

danibu-NEWS_blog item_Graphic-recording-Tango

Find now – read later. In the meantime: Just put it in Pocket.

I love it – especially before leaving on vacation. I simply save any “googled” article, video or pretty much any web page directly from the browser (or from apps like Twitter) to pocket’s remote servers for later offline reading at my own convenience: If it’s in Pocket, it’s on your phone, tablet or computer. You don’t even need an Internet connection. Enjoy reading or watching – wherever you are on business or leisure travel!

Freelancing is an invaluable professional exercise. Ever since starting my own business – danibu – in 2015, people have frequently asked me about the difference between (corporate) and self- employment.

Here’s 3 reasons why I think the latter is something everyone should try at some point – even if it’s just for a little while. Even if you work in-house, there is always the chance to adopt an entrepreneur attitude:

1. Mindset:
Freelance, and your mindset will become totally different. You’re full-on with whatever is in front of you. There is nothing realer than that to be at the same time the owner, director and financial manager. You need to have self-discipline to pull through (the kind of discipline that was imposed on you at the workplace), and your client-is-king attitude sets your boundaries.

2. Efficiency and effectiveness:
You turn into an efficient time manager. You have to! You take control of how your hours are spent (and billed), and you’re heavily incentivized to optimize. Getting more done for your client, and to a higher standard. I think it’s easier to slip into mediocrity and reactivity when you’re employed and there is no immediate consequence to your steady paycheck.

3. Trusted advisor:
What my clients really appreciate is the ‘outside-in’ perspective from external agencies like danibu: Asking the why, disrupting and challenging the status quo really foster a go-getter mindset, and in what corporate environment is that not advantageous?

To conclude: I feel everybody should freelance a bit, even if they are still on the payroll. Being an intrapreneur, so to speak. It’s vastly rewarding for all parties and incredibly liberating for those who try.