Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication

You’ve done the work, packaged the findings, laid out the business case, and developed the ask and recommendations. Whether your software of choice is PowerPoint, Keynote or SlideRocket, you’ve turned your presentation into a work of art. Crafting and packaging your message is very important but the rubber meets the road when you communicate it.


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In 1967, UCLA sociolinguist  Dr. Albert Mehabrian published papers based on two studies: “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications” and “Inference of Attitudes from Nonverbal Communication in Two Channels”.

In his studies, Mehabrian comes to two conclusions. The first one being that there are basically three elements in any face-to-face communication:

    • Words,
    • Tone of voice, and
    • Nonverbal behavior.

They are often abbreviated as the “3 Vs” for Verbal, Vocal & Visual.

I’m so thrilled to be here …

The second conclusion emphasizes that the non-verbal elements are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude, especially when they are at odds such that if words disagree with the tone of voice and nonverbal behavior, people tend to believe the tonality and nonverbal behavior.

Mehrabian combined the results of the two studies to obtain the ratio 7:38:55 which is known as the 7%-38%-55% rule.

The rule argues that overall credibility in communication is distributed as follows:

  • 55% of meaning comes from presentation,
  • 38% of meaning comes from tonality, and
  • 7% of meaning comes from the words themselves.

Building on the 3 Vs in Mehrabian’s 7%-38%-55% rule, I’ve included an introductory piece and packaged the “Top 10 Tips for Effective Communication”.

Read the Tea Leaves: Catch the Cues

The art of tasseomancy (reading the tea leaves) involves interpreting patterns that loose tea leaves leave in a cup or in a saucer. Some believe that the pattern made by the leaves can be interpreted to tell the future of the one who drank the tea.

In preparation for your presentation, you should try to “read the virtual teas leaves” so that you’ll  be able to catch the cues and maximize your chances of success. I summarized them as follows:

1. Understand The Rules Of The Game

2. Dress For Context

3. Know Your Audience

These three tips will help you set the stage for your presentation.

Visual: Body Language

Jerry Weissman is undoubtedly one of the best corporate presentation coaches. In one of his blog posts, he explains the notion of the “body wrap” which is a natural anxiety response and the opposite of owning your own space.

This is not Jerry Weissman!

4. Self Awareness

5. Own Your Own Space

6. Demonstrate Competence With Confidence

Verbal: Voice

I recently enjoyed the audiobook version of Tina Fay’s bestselling book Bossypants. Her book includes business advice through the use of humorous examples. In one such example, she explains that in order to convey confidence, you must not finish every sentence as though it had a question mark.

7. Project With Passion & Volume

8. Use Downward Inflections

Upward Inflection

When you use downward inflections, you essentially get rid of that implied question mark. Amy Gonzalez, Director of Women Unlimited’s Western Region thought me a technic that I’ll never forget and that works perfectly well for mastering downward inflections. She recommends that you silently say <damn it> to yourself at the end of each statement.

For example:

  • My name is Lina Arseneault <damn it>,
  • I’m here to present a business case <damn it>,
  • You’ll walk away from this meeting thinking that xxx is the best solution <damn it>

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Not only will it eliminate the diminishing silent question mark, it will also provide much needed pauses allowing you to breath (and possibly prevent you from fainting).

Contrast that with:

  • I’m Lina Arseneault? (upward inflection with an implied question mark):

Implication: audience is wondering if you’re actually even sure about that?

Words: Message

9. Focus On How You Say It

10. Eliminate Qualifiers, Tags & Diminishing Words

In this Harvard Business Review blog post, Jerry Weissman discusses the importance of avoiding filler language in presentations.  Filler words are short phrases or questions that have been used and abused to the point of diminishing your connection with your audience.  Examples include:

      • Does that make sense?
      • Like I said …
      • You know … 


Watch the YouTube video of Top 10 Tips For Effective Communications.

To communicate the message of your presentation with confidence and competence, remember to read the virtual tea leaves and mind the 3 Vs” of communications:  verbal, vocal & visual.


Would you add anything to the list of tips?



Additional Information:

Download the Slideshare companion presentation.

Are You Preparing An Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak

Read a summary of Jerry Weissman’s Power Presenter

Lina Arseneault is Millennial at heart. Follow her on Twitter.

Cafélina uses Royalty free images.

Marketing Artfully: QRart and ‘Not So Pretty’ Implementations of QR Codes

In his 2012 social media predictions, Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions forecasts that QR codes will become obsolete.  He stipulates that QR codes are “mis-applied, over-used gimmick and people will end up not trusting them”.  I agree with him that mis-applications abound but nevertheless, I think that QR codes are here to stay.  In 2012, I predict that a few shining stars will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.

Are you new to QR codes?  You can reference two CaféLina blog posts on the subject. The first one is “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?”, it outlines QR code basics and provides 10 application examples complete with reference links. As for the second post “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, it incorporates examples from the feedback I received and points to the Quiet Revolution Slide Share presentation companion.  The Slide Share material includes all the references from the original Quiet Revolution post plus 5 bonus examples including IneoScan. QRart QRart. IneoScan recommends the i-nigma reader to experience the full breath of this QRart.

In appreciation for the mention of his startup and work in “Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”, IneoScan sent me an unexpected surprise.  Ineoscan designer extraordinaire Jean-Michel Roblin gifted me a “made in Paris” artful version of a QR code that drives to my cafélina blog. I am very grateful for this act of QRart kindness. I’ll be able to integrate it in my marketing outreach activities.

Unlike the standard black and white version, QRart is artful, colored and creative quick response (QR) code design.  QRart takes QR codes to a whole new level by blending QR code and design to allow for the artful activation of print.  To get a sense for the possibilities of designer QR codes, you can visit the following three QRart galleries:  IneoScan, and Kalvin Kleen.

Whatever your sport, hobby, cause, or business – there’s a way to contextualize a designer QR code that drives to a “call-to-action”.  The key is to “be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on. You’ll be successful in your QR code application as long as you take into account the following 3 points:

  1. Mobile marketing is more actionable than other forms of web marketing
  2. QR codes are linked to mobile
  3. Design your QR customer journey with mobile in mind
Actionable Marketing
“Be your customer”: understand your customer and the customer journey that your QR code will take her on.

All too often, mis-applications of QR codes involves a poorly designed or completely overlooked mobile experience.  A mobile screen simply doesn’t have the same type of real-estate as a desktop PC.  Most web material is designed for the traditional PC viewing experience. Programming a QR code to point to a web destination intended for a PC screen is simply not as effective on a mobile screen.

I predict that along with successful QR codes applications, we will see a shift in the design of online content that favors the mobile screen.  In this regard, mobile marketing and Twitter have a lot in common.  There are 5 things to keep in mind when designing your QR codes mobile experience:

  1. Get to the point (what’s the customer offer and the call to action)
  2. Brevity is clarity (Gerry McGovern has a lot to say on that subject)
  3. Don’t strain my eyes (it’s a mobile device)
  4. Don’t make me work (drill down and scroll through = drop-off)
  5. Where’s the beef (engaging customer offer = positive reinforcement of the perceived brand value)
January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal, page C3

The January 8-9 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal featured two book ads: “Cell 8” and “A Walk Across the Sun”.

Both ads appeared on page C3 of the newspaper and each ad had its own QR code.  The QR code for “A Walk Across the Sun” drives to a web destination that provides 4 distinct call to action options:

              1. Purchase the book
              2. What readers are saying
              3. Watch the video
              4. Read an excerpt

As for “Cell 8”, it has a ‘not so pretty’ implementation of its QR code destination.  It leads directly to an excerpt of the book and nothing else.  Is this not a missed opportunity to capitalize on an ‘actionable mobile life’ moment?  Accordingly,  “A Walk Across the Sun” gets top marks.

‘Cell 8’ and ‘Walk Across the Sun’ QR codes web destination

Also in the “not so pretty” category is Palo Alto Networks, the Santa Clara based network security company and their ad from the January 9th 2012 print edition of the Wall Street Journal.  The ad touts the company’s highly desirable position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Network Firewalls.  The ad concludes with this tag line: “Get an exclusive report at or scan QR code below.”  This is essentially two vague calls to action:

  1. Go to the web site to get an exclusive report (why not say the Gartner report instead of “an exclusive report”?), and
  2. Scan the QR code (presumably to get “an exclusive report”?)

As it turns out, after many steps and screens, and providing registration information; both calls to action eventually lead to the “exclusive report”. You really have to want the exclusive report! The captured registration information results in a call-back and email follow-up.  You can see the full step by step “not so pretty” implementation unfold in the Slide Share companion to this blog post.

Starbucks makes me hopeful that 2012 will provide a few shining stars who will find a way to market artfully and successfully with QR codes.  Building on the growing adoption of its mobile application, Starbucks recently released a new version of the app that extends well beyond the “digital mobile payment” option.  The Starbucks mobile app now comes with an imbedded QR code reader (thereby overcoming one of Mark Schaefer’s main objections of having to download a QR reader). On January 13th 2012, I picked up a QR coupon after sampling the newest Starbucks coffee blend. My only criticism of Starbucks QR implementation is having to scroll down three screens before I got to “vote” for my fovorite blend.

As I see it, four factors give Starbucks steaming hot QR potential:

  1. QR Reader bundled in mobile app
  2. New Starbucks promotions with QRart (multiple ‘actionable mobile life’ moment opportunities)
  3. Tracking and metrics (Starbucks will learn and refine its approach)
  4. Customer engagement and feedback (company and customer have much to learn about each other)

In closing, as William Arruda reports in a MarketingProfs column (Personal Branding Trends for 2012 (Part 1)), according to, it’s now possible to place extremely large QR codes on the tops of buildings.  The large size codes can then be photographed by the satellites that feed Google Maps and Google Earth. Those QR codes will be digested by Google’s mapping systems and will cause companies’ logos to appear when someone looks at their building’s images.

Will 2012 be the year that we see QR codes take off in all kinds of directions?

Additional QR Information and Discussion:

Frankenspeak Contest with the Content Rules team

This post is in follow-up to: “Are You Preparing an Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak”.

Are you still debating about what your New Year’s resolution should be?  Why not make the leap from marketing-speak to respectable publisher on the web by following the advice in Content Rules which you can win as part of Talance’s Customer Appreciation Month festivities.

You’ll feel so much better once you’ve shed all the overused Frankenspeak words and phrases!

Simply share the words and phrases that you’d like to ban from marketing, sales, corporate communications, business schools, blogs and boardrooms, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Content Rules, by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman. Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and C.C. is the Founder of Digital Dads.

Content Rules by Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman

Deadline for entries is Jan. 30, 2012. The Talance team will pick one winner at random from all entries on Jan. 31, 2012 and will notify the winner via e-mail.  For more information, write to

Feeling ambitious with your resolutions? Are you looking for more advice on writing better? Check out 10 Commandments of Writing for the Web and request the free Talance Perfect Blogging Checklist.

Wishing you all the best for 2012.    Lina

Encore! QR Codes: Here to Stay or Fade Away?”

In a recent post called “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?” I posed the question “QR Codes: Here To Stay or Fade Away?”.  It seems that the consensus is on the “here to stay” (enhance and evolve).  My post described 10 use cases of QR codes and asked for your examples.  Many of you wrote with interesting applications.

Diantha Pinner wrote about how she enjoys her QR Code library card.  She writes: “Our local public libraries enable you to convert your barcoded library card into a QR code on your phone. One less card in my wallet or on my key chain and I never have to wonder whether I left it at home.”   Carol Walker illustrates Diantha’s point in a comprehensive Slide Share reference presentation.  It is titled “QR Codes: Application in Libraries” .

Cisco social media expert Deb Strickland commented on the importance of designing the QR programmed destination with mobile in mind.  She writes: “I have seen some QR codes that send people to a web page that was not optimized for mobile – so don’t make that mistake.”

One of the most interesting notes was from Pascal Romano.  Pascal and I worked together at Cisco (Lina in California, Pascal in France) where I had had the opportunity to meet with his customers at Cisco’s San Jose Executive Briefing Center.  Pascal wrote to me about his brother-in-law’s new QR Code business.  IneoScan is an innovative Paris startup that is taking QR codes to a whole new level by enabling the blending of QR code and art form to allow for the activation of print.

IneoScan QRart

Designers from across the world created beautiful QRart forms.  They are being showcased in art shows in several cities.  You can experience mobile QRart content created by talented artists from across the globe on the IneoScan site.  IneoScan recommends the i-nigma reader to experience the full breath of this QRart.

On Slide Share, you’ll find the companion to “QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?”.  The material includes all the references from the original post plus 5 bonus examples (including IneoScan, “Use QR Codes so You Don’t Get Thrown Away After Tradeshows” which is a MarketingProfs column by Sarah Baker, and the San Jose Sharks) and reference links.  Check it out and provide your feedback.

Next time you’re on the go and see a QR code, snap a picture and send it along with your comments.

QR Codes: Quiet Revolution or Quite Redundant?

Lina’s business card QR code

The révolution tranquille (Quiet Revolution) was the 1960s period of intense change in the province of Québec.  It was characterized by the rapid secularization of society, the creation of a welfare state (État-providence) and a re-alignment of politics. These changes ultimately shaped a distinct, strong and flourishing National Identity.  In the digital and social world, will QR codes have their own digital “Quiet Revolution” or will they fade into oblivion because they lack purpose, identity and a sense of belonging?Not just another passing fad, QR codes and the results of their ensuing “Quiet Revolution” are paving a new road to a digital and social world.  QR codes are creating a bridge between the physical world we live in and the ever evolving digital social world.

What’s a QR code and why should you care? (video)  Before we look at some of the burgeoning uses of QR codes, let’s quickly review QR code basics.

A QR (Quick Response) code is a two dimensional bar code originally designed for the automotive industry.  QR codes allow its contents to be decoded at high speed providing you have a QR code reader installed on your mobile phone.  Whether it’s in traditional media placements such as magazines or billboards, when you see a QR code, you can simply take a picture of it with your phone’s camera and you’ll be directed to the embedded information of that code.  The programmed destination could be a website, video, text message or telephone number.

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QR codes are easy to create (using a QR generator application) and then embed into the physical world.  With a minimal cost to entry, the possibilities for uses abound. 

Here are 10 QR code applications:

1)     Government agency forms and communications now often come with QR codes.  Scanning them allows the user to quickly be directed to the relevant web location specific to the subject form or letter.

2)     With a QR Code, real estate signs and flyers advertising a market listing provide quick online access to property and agent information.  Change in price, availability or terms, no need to reprint the flyers, simply update the information on the web site.

3)     Before digital books completely overtake hard copy books, there is the case for enabling the transition from print to digital.  Prolific blogger, social media expert and author Michelle Blanc does a wonderful job of that in her French social media books (aptly called social media 101 and 102) by including QR codes and easy to reference shortened URL footnotes throughout the text.  Check out the QR code on the cover of her most recent book.

4)     Recently, I was a guest at Google’s main Mountain View campus.  After enjoying a wonderful lunch in the legendary Googleplex café, my host and I made our way to a meeting room.  Every meeting room door on the Google campus has a QR code that provides all the specifications (size, equipment) and scheduling information specific for that room.  Use your phone and reserve the room on the fly – no need to fire up that bulky pc and search for the logistics pages.

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5)     Stand out from the crowd.  Should your resume have a QR code?  You can read a great blog post on the subject.  As the author suggests, maybe you shouldn’t include a QR code in your resume but I would argue that your business cards should include one.  The code should point to your digital business profile.  You could program it to lead to your public LinkedIn profile.  I recently designed a set of 2 sided custom business cards that include a QR code as well as Lina specific images.  I learned about MOO cards from a trusted social network connection.  Talk about giving a classic calling card a digital make-over!

6)     Need stocking stuffer ideas?  Along the same lines as the MOO QR business card, you can design your own QR code stickers to put on your digital treasures (telephone, laptop, etc.) or get some personalized luggage tags with a QR code image.  Make yourself and your love ones (people and things) easy to find.

7)     Thinking of updating your estate plan?  It can now include provisions for a digital epitaph tribute grave marker.  The inscription on the grave stone includes a QR code leading to a viewable memorial tribute page that tells your life story.  A trip to the cemetery might actually come to life!

In the following tweet, Jeff Bullas references a post by Mark Schaefer who in turn introduces a brilliant SharePoint presentation by Gregory Pouy:  The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns.

@jeffbullas: The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns via @markwschaefer

Want to learn about boundless and creative possibilities, this material is a must read/view.  Specific to QR codes, check out the 2nd and 3rd case studies featured in Gregory’s material.

8)     2nd video case study |The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy:  Tesco (Home Plus)View the video on slide 15 of 61.  Through the creative use of QR codes in subway stations, Korean supermarket chain Home Plus allows shoppers to do their shopping without ever visiting an actual store.

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9)     3rd video case study “The World’s Best Digital Marketing Campaigns – by Gregory Pouy”:  NY Central Park comes to digital life via a museum in the park experience featuring Park codes.  View the video on slide 22 of 61.

Let’s have a riddle to close off this QR list.  What do you get when you cross a QR code with an OREO cookie? 

10)  Answer:  a QREO of course!  Admittedly, it’s not the most practical application of QR technology but it can certainly be characterized as innovative and wittyQR + OREO = QREO comes by way of All TOP and Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki.

Far from being “quite redundant” given ever increasing smartphone numbers, QR codes are far from being another passing fad.  Rather, they represent the humble beginnings of a “Quiet Revolution” journey on the way to a connected and social world.  NFC and location based services, bring it on!

What QR codes have you noticed and quietly tried out?

Are You Preparing An Important Presentation? Be Sure To Avoid Filler Frankenspeak

Presentation coaches abound, everyone has a favorite.  Mine is Jerry Weissman, founder of Power Presentations, Ltd.   Without question, I rank my training with Jerry as being my highest ROI career development investment.  I took the Core Program (The Art and Science of Powerful Presentations) which is a comprehensive 3 day format for no more than 4 people.

I value Jerry’s experience and attention to detail for effective communication.  In this Harvard Business Review blog post, Jerry discusses the importance of avoiding filler language in presentations.  Filler words are short phrases or questions that have been used and abused to the point of diminishing your connection with your audience.  Examples include:

  • Does that make sense?
  • Like I said …
  • You know … 

Every time I hear a presenter say “you know …” I can’t help but smile and recall a Golf Channel interview with Michelle Wei.  It was comical how she managed to say “you know …” multiple times in the span of 30 seconds.  My hope for Michelle is that she now has a presentation coach as well as a golf coach.

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As for filler words, they are the first cousins of frankenspeakFrankenspeak describes language that doesn’t sound like it was penned by a human.  In their book Content Rules, Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman coined the frankenspeak concept.  Check-out this humorous MarketingProfs clip (2:14) called Frankenspeak Friday.  It manages to say all the words we overuse and that say nothing.

My filler sins include “actually” and “basically”.  As for frankenspeak, I’m guilty of abusing “win-win” and “leverage”.  What filler frankenspeak will you avoid in your next presentation?