Simply Said
Simply Said
Simply Said is the essential handbook for business communication.

Presenting Effectively in a Virtual World


All at once last year, the way we interact changed. With the global COVID-19 pandemic came virtual meetings and presentations that forced us to communicate almost exclusively in a new way and on new platforms. While tools like Zoom and WebEx existed before the pandemic, most organizations used them as a way to connect offices in different locations or as a last resort when we couldn’t get a large group of people into a conference room—but not to conduct everyday meetings and presentations.

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Spark Profitable New Ideas By Speaking These Right Words


If you want to spur your team to innovate new ideas, it helps if you communicate with passion. Convey your vision with enthusiasm so that others get excited as well.

Better yet, inject charisma into your delivery. Speak with dynamism to light a fire under your audience. They will come away more motivated to find new ideas after listening to you.

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3 Pointers for Leading Virtual Training


To set yourself up for success when leading a virtual training session, do your best to replicate how people interact in an in-person environment. As with face-to-face training, learner engagement is key.

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Defusing Heated or Emotional Negotiations


The ability to skillfully navigate difficult conversations is important for any negotiator. You’ve prepared for the negotiation by learning as much as you can about the other side and their point of view, uncovering some of their needs and motivations, and tailoring your negotiating strategy appropriately. You present a carefully calibrated offer that aligns your client’s goals with the needs of the opposing side but are met by an unexpectedly heated response. What do you do?

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Do You Have E-Charisma on Zoom? Here’s How to Get It


The flair and charm that works for in-person meetings doesn’t come across the same way on a video chat; ‘E-charisma involves a completely different set of skills’

With the rise of working from home, some people accustomed to using their charisma in person have learned a tough lesson: Commanding a room isn’t the same thing as commanding a Zoom.

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Accomplish goals by identifying and overcoming your weaknesses


Do you ever find yourself consistently falling short to achieve your goals? If you can identify any patterns, you have likely hit upon one way to uncover your weaknesses. Understanding your weaknesses is perhaps more important than knowing your strengths.

Here are a few other ways to diagnose your weaknesses.

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3 things you do that drive your people crazy


Remote work and the uncertainty of quarantine can make even the best leaders resort to micromanaging and other unproductive behaviors.

As a manager, you’re busy. You need to get your individual work done. You must coach and develop others. You have to manage both internal and external stakeholders. In addition, more often than not, you’re dealing with unforeseen problems that come up in all three of these buckets.

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Coaching: One Size Does Not Fit All


Gifted coaches have an ability to see potential. They bring out the best in every individual and tailor their messages (both verbal and non-verbal) to each player.

As an athlete and a sports fan, I’ve been inspired by events such as the World Cup, Wimbledon, and the Super Bowl. As I watch these incredible athletes give it their all and compete at the highest levels under extreme pressure, I can’t help but reflect on their coaches and how important the coaching relationship is to their success. In business, too, an exceptional coach can help take someone from good to great.

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To call or email, that is the question


Sometimes, the medium is the message, and here is help to make the right choice.

Communication and collaboration are increasingly important in the modern digital workplace. However, it can often be difficult to break through the constant “noise” — social media, email, instant messaging, text messaging, video chats, the telephone — that constantly deluges finance professionals. Being thoughtful about how you connect with colleagues can go a long way. When you need to convey a message to someone, it can be easy to focus entirely on the content without considering the medium, but phone calls and email each have their own strengths and weaknesses.

“These mediums are not interchangeable,” said Robert Chen, a partner with Exec-Comm, a business communication skills consulting company based in New York. “They serve their own purpose, and you really want to be thoughtful about the medium you choose, because it can have an impact on how effective you are in getting done what you need to get done.”

To figure out which medium best suits your message, ask yourself these six questions:

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Why You Should Stop Saying “As Most of You Already Know” in the Workplace


Plus, two other phrases you need to drop — and what you can say instead.

“Bumping this to the top of your inbox!” “Sending you a gentle reminder…” These are just a couple of the common workplace expressions that have an unintended negative impact on people we work with. In fact, as you’re reading this, you may be thinking of a colleague who “does that all the time.” But the thing is, we’ve probably all said something that stressed out, confused, or just plain irritated a coworker. That’s why self-awareness is such an important ingredient for effective communication in the workplace.

To help you get your message across in an impactful way, we’ve highlighted some common offenders: phrases that typically don’t land well on your audience, and what you can say instead:

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3 Common Questions That Stress People Out — And What to Ask Instead


Your intentions are likely in the right place, but you might want to rethink and reframe.

There are a handful of questions we store in our back pocket for the purposes of making small talk — like when you’re left alone with someone you just met. We use these to fill an awkward pause, or to prevent one from happening in the first place. And while many of these questions are meant to bridge connection, they may land with the person you’re speaking to differently than you intended, and in some cases, create the very awkwardness you were trying to avoid.

To better communicate with others, try reframing these three common questions:

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6 ways to be a better communicator


Keep your audience’s goals, not yours, first in mind.

Being more thoughtful about the ways you communicate in the workplace can save you and your colleagues time, strengthen bonds with clients, and increase your esteem in the eyes of managers and colleagues.

One key to better communication is to consider what your audience wants and needs from your message, said Jay Sullivan, author of Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond and managing partner of business communication skills consulting company Exec|Comm in New York City.

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Stop Asking, “Does That Make Sense,” After Explaining Something


Two communication experts explain why that and two other expressions could be holding you back at work.

Our conversations at work are often peppered with corporate-speak that can be more irritating than useful — “Don’t reinvent the wheel,” “Think outside the box,” “We’re making a paradigm shift.” People don’t mean to be annoying — we employ these terms in the interest of efficiency, using shorthand we all easily and quickly understand. But used in excess, they can make you seem uninspired and uninventive, and sometimes, even rude. 

“One or two clichés aren’t going to derail your value in a meeting. But constant reference to buzzwords and jargon can make others roll their eyes,” or worse, feel condescended to, Jay Sullivan, a communications expert and author of Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond, tells Thrive Global.

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Choose the best medium for your message in the workplace


Email? IM? Phone call? Here’s how to pick the best way to communicate.

With more ways to communicate than ever before, choosing the most appropriate medium for your message has become a conundrum in the workplace. It can be difficult to decide when to use email, IM, or the phone, or to meet someone in person.

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Perfectly Imperfect


Great stories start with imperfection. Watch any TED Talk, read any People magazine article, and the story typically begins with a struggle.

It took me several weeks to start writing my quarterly newsletter, Perfectly Imperfect. At some point, we all have that experience, waiting for the perfect opening sentence, the perfect message, the perfect story before we open our mouths or start to type. I found that “perfect” ideas would come to me in the morning while I dried my hair, or on the bus ride home, or while I was in the middle of a conference call.

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Happy Holidays – Another Season of Insanity is Upon Us


During this end-of-year holiday season, it's challenging to be mindful. Mindfulness takes work, but makes a world of difference. Simply start with a breath.

Well, the holidays are here. What started in October with innocent kids dressed up as super heroes and princesses knocking on my door for treats has evolved into a mad rush as we wrap up our good intentions along with our holiday gifts.

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Changing History to Herstory


We all know that bias and discrimination should be unacceptable in the workplace. But it happens. It takes brains, heart, and spirit to change the trajectory of those moments from history to herstory

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Everyone Argues. Here’s How Persuasive People Do It Differently.


A little arguing here and there can be beneficial, if done right.

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Do You Hear What I Hear?


Strong communicators take responsibility to get their point across: If the other person does not understand you, it reflects your inability to communicate rather than his or her inability to comprehend.

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The Danger of Speaking the Same Language


When you speak a different language, you’re on guard against miscommunication because you expect it might happen. The danger of speaking the same language is we assume we know what the other person means and only find out we were wrong when there is an issue.

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Technical Professionals Still Need Communication Skills


Many technical professionals mistakenly think soft skills are for those who don’t have the smarts to be technical and need to compensate with “manipulation” tactics.

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When Your Global Colleagues Don't Make Sense


Your standards and processes for work excellence were created through your specific cultural lens. Although it makes complete sense to you in your context, it may not work well for another culture with a different set of values and beliefs.

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Inspire and Influence - Leading Others


In an edited extract from his new book, Simply Said: Communicating Better at Work and Beyond JAY SULLIVAN, managing partner at Exec|Comm LLC, shares his theory of leadership and explains the advantages of motivating and challenging others.

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Think 'Engagement': Advice From The C-Suite


Our political leadership seems to be advocating “being unpredictable” as a strategy. Therefore, people are looking for stability elsewhere, often turning to their business leaders for a sense of rational discourse and clear messages about values.

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Bringing Your “Genuine Self” To Every Interaction: Use your body language


Have you ever listened to someone and thought, “something here isn’t right?” Why do some people come across as more genuine than others? It’s all about body language.

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A Story of Discrimination...Yes, I Am Judging You


In corporate America, people rarely give us feedback on the “little” things that matter—like how we look or how we make them feel. But they discriminate based on these things—silently.

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It’s Not All About You


To communicate more effectively, and distinguish yourself from those around you, communicate from the other person’s point of view.

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How To Successfully Respond To A Question You Really Don't Want To Answer


If you watched the presidential debates, you may have come to the conclusion that answering questions is optional. If you don’t want to provide an answer, simply insert your own topic and carry on.

When you’re at work and your client or boss asks a question, however, it’s not always smart to change the subject and promote your own agenda. Questions need to be addressed.

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How To Get Promoted After Less Than A Year On The Job


If you want a promotion after less than 12 months on the job, you'll need to show it's a more obvious choice than it might seem.

You’re six months into your job and doing well at your company. You feel you've already settled in, and you're ready for more responsibility. So you schedule some time with your boss and ask, "So, what can I do in order to get promoted?"

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How to Talk to Strangers


Lessons from a 4-year old.

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The Self-Improvement Strategy You Didn't Realize You Learned In Science Class


Experimenting on yourself doesn't have to be the stuff of horror movies.

Your third-grade science teacher introduced you to what may be the best strategy for picking up new skills and knowledge than any you'll ever find. You may not have realized it at the time or even remember it now, but it's been in use for hundreds of years: the scientific method.

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Oops! The Mistake That Still Haunts Me 15 Years Later


Live by the words of Miles Davis: “When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.” If things go wrong, work hard to make them right.

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Three Strategies For Introverts To Speak Up In Meetings


"You need to speak up."

"You have to be more visible."

If you're an introvert, you might have heard these two bits of feedback before. And if you're a high performer, they can be especially irksome. Speaking up just isn't something you do. But be that as it may, failing to make your voice heard at pivotal moments might be hurting your career.

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Feedback Schmeedback


Contrary to popular belief, people don’t do better just because you tell them they’re doing something wrong. Some things to consider before you offer feedback.

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The Power of Pretty


Your appearance plays a part in your career. While we can’t Photoshop real life, we can take what we were born with and play up our aesthetic strengths.

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Influencing Snap Decisions


We all make snap decisions. Many issues we decide on the fly should be made that way. Fax the document or e-mail it? Delegate the assignment to a junior colleague or do it myself? Do I want fries with that?

Unfortunately, we also make snap decisions about important matters. Which client’s work is a priority? Is Jack the best person for this assignment?

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Entrepreneur Pitch Presentations


Lessons from the Front Lines

Entrepreneurs are headstrong and passionate – they live immersed in their idea and sweating out the details. Yet at the same time, they are often hard pressed to bring others into their world.

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7 Traits of Executive Presence


The Key To Winning People Over

Larry Ellison has executive presence. So did Steve Jobs.

Although very different people, they both had that confidence and composure that allowed them to connect with others.

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Brief and Brilliant: The Technical Presenter’s Holy Grail


“But why would I leave anything out? It's all important!” At first, I thought the chemical engineer was kidding. I even laughed at what I thought was an attempt to make fun of the prevailing stereotypes of engineers and other technical professionals. But this engineer was not joking. He was serious in objecting to my guidance that his presentation on bio-diesel be cut down to 8 slides from the 21 he had prepared. Well, so much for fighting stereotypes.

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Leveraging the Lunch and Learn


These informal lectures are perfect practice for client presentations.

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Honest Feedback for Public Speakers: How to Get It and Give It


Speakers crave useful critiques of their talks yet most people shy away from offering helpful feedback. But good speakers are always looking to fine-tune their craft.

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Five Steps to Delivering an Effective Presentation


Presenting at a medical conference or to a group of your peers can be challenging and, for some, even frightening. Too often, one struggles to prepare and deliver a presentation, while the audience struggles to maintain interest. Most presenters, even those who fail, begin with good intentions. But effective public

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Hit the Ground Running


Set goals, redefine relationships and communicate as a leader.

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Clear Messages are Crucial in Leadership


As a professional in an intellectual discipline such as the law, chances are you were rewarded in life for being smart. You did well in high school, so you got into a good college. You did well in college, so you got into a good law school. You studied hard in law school and landed a nice job at a respectable firm.

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Developing Business in Tough Times


In difficult economic times, two communication skills can help improve client relationships and generate more business. First, we can become our clients’ trusted shoulder to lean on as they deal with their own difficulties. Second, we can help them understand the many ways in which we can help them as they deal with their difficulties.

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Persuasion Through Story Telling


As lawyers, we routinely need to persuade others. We need them to hire us, to find in favor of our clients, to work for us, to promote us to partner. In order to persuade others we must tell engaging stories about how we can help them.

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Clear Writing Equals Greater Impact


Yesterday, I received four voicemail messages and 62 e-mails. The tide has turned and we now communicate at work far more through writing than through actual conversation. So here are a few things to keep in mind about effective writing:

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Conveying Effective Feedback


As an associate, I was once in a colleague’s office when a clearly annoyed partner walked in. He threw a letter on my colleague’s desk, a junior associate, and asked, “What’s wrong with this?” The junior associate stared blankly at the document, trying to figure out what could possibly be wrong. Had he left out some important information? Was it addressed to the wrong person? Was the caption wrong? The font?

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Effective Delegation


Business professionals change titles every two or three years. Along with those changes, they generally receive training on how to work effectively in their new roles. At law firms, our roles change more subtly. We may refer to associates as junior, mid-level or senior, but our business cards don’t change, our clients may not see the change (except on fee statements) and our firms may not acknowledge the changes with training to give us the necessary skills for our new roles.

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Connecting With Your Audience


In college public speaking classes, we were all told to make eye contact with the audience. Most of us heard
that message as, “Scan the audience. Make eye contact with as many people as possible.” Unfortunately, when we scan the room, whether we are talking to three people or 30, we increase our anxiety because we try to process information about each person we see.

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