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How to be a positive influence – on yourself and others

Rebecca Perl from Messagelab Communications chats to Dee Clayton about becoming one of the most influential businesswomen in the country, and how we can all follow suit.

Last weekend, you won Silver in the Influential Business Woman of the Year category at the National Business Women’s Awards. Congratulations! What did that feel like?

Amazing! It really is quite an accolade to win a national award.

What can we do to start influencing others?

You are already doing it! Just by existing, we are influencing people around us. These people can largely be split into two groups: family and friends, and work colleagues and/or clients. It’s an interesting exercise to draw a web of influence. Put yourself in the middle and draw outwards in a spider diagram, naming everybody or groups of people you influence. There will be more than you realise!

So, we’re all influencers already. How can we become positive influences?

Well, it’s very common – especially in the UK – for people to unintentionally be a negative influence. We hear negativity all the time. When asked “how are you?” people answer: “not so bad” or “fair to middling.” And that’s before they’ve started moaning about the weather! Not only does this negativity spread to other people, but you get what you focus on. So, it’s better to focus on the positive. It’s not about pretending nothing is wrong. If you identify that something is wrong, it’s about figuring out how to solve it. Look at what you put out there – in the conversations you have, on social media and in the help you give people – and keep it positive. It’s not always easy to be positive; if you notice that negativity is creeping in, do your best to improve.

What can we do to proactively work towards being a positive influence?

It’s a great time of year to set your goals for 2019, to think about what you want for yourself and others in a positive way. Think about changes you can make, no matter how small, that will have a cumulative effect.

How do you know if your influence is working?

I’m lucky in that it’s easy for me to see the impact I have on the clients I coach – in their outlook, body language and actions. I also hear their next steps and actions and am always delighted that they are making positive changes and no longer holding themselves back. But if you don’t have a formal relationship with someone, you can’t necessarily see your influence. In that case, you have to practice patience and tenacity and just trust that you are having a ripple effect. You might find out later what effect you have had. Someone recently told me that after they attended one of my talks about five years ago, they made some lasting positive changes in their life. It’s great when you get to hear about the impact you’ve had on people, but it might never happen. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t mean you’re not having a positive influence, because you are.

To sum up, could you share your top tips?

If you want to be a person of influence, the first person you need to influence is yourself. Know that you are always having an influence, so start being aware of what you are doing. Always choose the positive path, and finally, have patience and belief.

Get in touch today to talk to any of our trainers to help you with influence or presentation skills.

‘Tis the season for awards!

Earlier this month, founder and Managing Director of Simply Amazing Training, Dee Clayton, was announced as one of the most influential businesswomen in the UK. She was a finalist in five categories in two national award ceremonies – the National Business Women’s Awards and the SME National Business Awards 2018. Dee says: “To be recognised as a finalist in five categories is, in itself, an achievement!”

National Business Women’s Awards

At the National Business Women’s Awards held at Wembley Stadium, Dee won Silver in the category ‘Influential Business Woman of the Year 2018’ and was a finalist in ‘Business Owner of the Year.’ The awards are a celebration of the very best women in business from across the UK and cover sole traders to businesses turning over £25-million or more. The welcome speech was delivered by Dawn Butler MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Women & Equalities.

Dee says: “I’m delighted to have won Silver in a long list of 14 other amazing and deserving businesses in my category. I am proud that our clients, colleagues and business associates have supported our award applications with testimonials about the powerful and positive impact of the training that my talented team deliver. On a personal note it’s great to celebrate successes with peers, so well done to all the finalists and winners who have achieved so much.”

SME Business Awards 2018

At the SME National Business Awards 2018, Simply Amazing Training was the only business to be a finalist in three categories: Enterprising Business of the Year; Entrepreneur of the Year (Dee Clayton); and Business Woman of the Year (Dee Clayton).

Jason Abbott, President of AmSafe Bridport, said: “Congratulations to Simply Amazing Training! Dee Clayton has worked with our Exec team individually to assess our personalities and development requirements and then helped us to create a more cohesive management team. The progress we have made would not have been achieved without her insight and expertise. We continue to use Dee and Simply Amazing Training for individual development of key personnel and for my management team including our General Manager in Sri Lanka who is responsible for 500+ people. We wish Dee a Simply Amazing 2019!”

In November, Dee was also a finalist in the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ category in The Venus Awards Dorset.

Executive presentations skills coaching and management training

Simply Amazing Training offers specialist executive presentations skills coaching and management training throughout the UK and internationally. The company is famous for their Public Speaking Monkeys (trademarked) technique. The mind chatter or fear monkeys are the voices of self-doubt which cause so much anxiety. Their innovative technique gets to the unconscious in an approachable manner by helping clients “tame” their monkeys and becomes confident speakers. Simply Amazing Training is currently recruiting new licensees.

How to give a presentation at a virtual meeting

As technology improves and travel budgets decrease, virtual meetings have become almost the norm, especially for younger generations who use this type of technology in their daily lives anyway. If you have a virtual meeting coming up and need to give a presentation, here are our top tips for giving a virtual meeting presentation.

Virtual meeting Tip #1 – Make sure the technology works!

According to the Productivity at the Office report by Jabra (2015): “Over half (51 percent) of respondents agree that meetings without direction or a clear agenda lead to wasted meeting time, 32 percent cite lack of decision-making, 31 percent cite lack of follow-up, 26 percent a lack of preparation and 25 percent the effect of latecomers.”

In a conference call situation specifically, the survey says: “some of the most annoying issues are due to sound, whether not being able to hear people’s voices, irrelevant background noise, connection issues, overall audio quality or not knowing if speakerphones are working as intended.”

Virtual Meeting

Virtual meeting tip #2 – Make conference calls engaging!

Conference calls or video calls need an extra special effort to be engaging and easy to listen to because you have no (or less) body language to help your message be understood.

  • Make it a two-way conversation – ask for hands up or comments in the dialogue
  • Use tag questions (more about that in Dee Clayton’s book, High-Performance Presentations – Public Speaking Tips & Presentation Skills to Engage, Persuade and Inspire!”) because tag questions work. Don’t they?
  • Quickly communicate WHY people should want to listen (not flick through their inbox)

Virtual meeting tip #3 – Have a clear structure

Use the Simply Amazing Structure (SAS) to guide your call content, otherwise, it’s easy for the listener to get lost. You may benefit from breaking your SAS into even smaller chunks than you would with a face-to-face meeting. Try not to cover too much in one call. As you come to the end, ensure people have committed to their action/deadlines rather than assuming they have, and when you are fielding questions having a helper to group any questions that are sent in while you answer others is useful.

For more tips and techniques on making conference calls effective and engaging, and for ideas on where specifically your “Presenter Personality Style” could improve in the context of  virtual meeting presentations, discover more about our tailored one to one presentation skills mentoring, or read “High-Performance Presentations – Public Speaking Tips & Presentation Skills to Engage, Persuade and Inspire!” by Dee Clayton or contact us today!

Keep Coaching Simple

Coaching is simple, it’s helping people find the answers for themselves, rather than telling them what to do. Coaching is proven to improve employee morale, self-confidence, job satisfaction and organisational commitment, leading to improved productivity and bottom line results (22% profit improvement in a study by Manchester Inc. of Fortune 1000 companies).

However, when asked if their organisation actually does coaching, most leaders answer with phrases like: “sometimes”, “not everyone does it”, and “probably not well”.

So with such compelling evidence and the perceived simplicity, why aren’t more organisations embracing the coaching culture?

Well, it usually comes down to 3 things: don’t really know how to do it; don’t have time to do it; the leader’s aren’t doing it nor encouraging it.

Recently during our collaboration with an organisation who is focusing on building a strong growth strategy and encouraging an empowering culture, we worked with the senior management team to help them personally use coaching more and support their leaders to drive it into their business. They too had the same challenges of lack of time and never having been “taught” how to coach.

We introduced them to the 5-O Coaching Framework, developed by Melanie Blyth after 20 years of using and testing a variety of coaching methods and models in commercial environments. This simple framework walks you through the 5 key steps of coaching. Each step can be progressed through separately, at different and ongoing sessions, to uncover and work on big or deep topics. But the framework is also designed to be used in one go, in short conversations, providing a simple structure to get the most out of many manager/employee interactions.

The 5 steps of the 5-O Coaching Framework are:

  1. OPENING – Building rapport and uncovering the topic to focus on. Setting up a coaching mindset and environment, being clear on your coaching rules of engagement, and asking those first few opening questions to find out what is on their mind today, or agree on the topic to discuss.
  2. OPPORTUNITY – Understanding the actual challenge through self-assessment. Asking open style questions and really listening to the answers, with focus on the individual’s key challenge.
  3. OUTCOME DESIRED – Clarity on where you’re heading and what good looks like. A critical step, often missed in most conversations, enabling the individual to look into the future and create greater desire to reach it.
  4. OPTIONS – Discussing the possibilities and options. Opening up wide to consider different possibilities or solutions, through asking good questions to stimulate thinking, being a little provocative when needed.
  5. OWNERSHIP – Gaining commitment on the way forward, and taking a learning moment. Choosing the next steps and ensuring a high level of intention to make it happen. Agreeing to follow up and reflecting on what has been learnt.

Using a coaching framework such as this one creates a simple structure, provides confidence and supports the coach to make the best use of their limited time. Rather than looking to make time to coach, move into a more coaching mindset whenever you can, ideally in your already scheduled 1 to 1 meeting. Tackle small topics first, with those you trust. Build gradually and capture the questions you find most effective to use. Enjoy the experience and the positive results that encouraging empowerment of others will bring.

For your copy of the 5-O Coaching Framework please download it below, and for assistance in creating a stronger coaching mindset in your organisation feel free to contact Melanie Blyth or Dee Clayton at

5-O Coaching Framework – simple

How to prepare for a business presentation

Understanding who your audience is is essential, and all High-Performance Presentations consider the audience and what they want. Having said that, many of the business professionals we train admit they hardly ever consider the audience during their presentation planning – at least, until they learn about why it is so important from us!

It is important to balance out your needs with the needs of the audience. If you want to communicate in a successful, persuasive manner that inspires action, then the audience should never feel that your agenda is higher than theirs! This links back to the push vs. pull concept mentioned in Chapter 1 of Dee’s book High-Performance Presentations – Public Speaking Tips & Presentation Skills to Engage, Persuade and Inspire!”

As Dee says: “A sure-fire way to give a Low-Performance Presentation is to just talk about your agenda with no regard to the audience. Avoid recycling the same presentation deck and droning on about things that aren’t relevant to the audience. The audience won’t say anything – but therein lies the danger as you continue to do it again and again.”

The first step is to recognise your preferred presenter personality style and then to adapt to the styles that aren’t the same as yours. The audience will take information on board in a different way to you – make sure you give the audience what they want in the manner in which they want it.

For example:

  1. Results preference – they like to know immediate options and consequences and are most comfortable with a fast tempo.
  2. Sociable preference – they like to interact at high speed and with variety. They become bored with details and enjoy constantly changing direction. They will enjoy interactive exercises.
  3. Caring preference – you will need to demonstrate that you are caring, trustworthy and open. Show that you can support them in their personal needs and those of their team.
  4.  Information preference – they will be won over by orderliness, accuracy, persistence and follow through, so ensure that you use data, facts and quotations to support your presentation. Exact numbers, facts, spelling, grammar and even punctuation are all important here.

In reality, your audience is likely to be made of a mix of these styles so pay special attention to the areas you tend to be weakest!

In the book, there are more exercises that will help you ensure your Audience Preparation stage goes well before you move on to learn about using the Simply Amazing Structure (SAS). And all this is way before even touching a PowerPoint presentation or PC!

Happy presentation preparation!


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The importance of good posture in public speaking

Good body language when giving a presentation plays a huge part in so many ways – here are my top three:

  • It helps you to feel calm & confident on the inside and look calm and confident on the outside
  • It demonstrates high status meaning the audience feel you have something worth listening to
  • It helps you to breathe easily and project your voice

When you stand with a strong presentation posture you feel calm and confident inside. Take a look at our video on the topic and try it out for yourself! Once you feel calm and confident the audience can’t help but sense that from you and see it in you. (The opposite is also true that if you look scared and nervous the audience will see that and feel that too).

Did you know? Typically 14-16 areas of the women’s brain are active when reading body language compared to a typical male’s brain with 4-6 active areas.

Did you know? When asked to decode a silent movie woman were twice as good at it than men. 87% of women correctly guessed what was happening in the movie Vs just 42% of men. Apparently, homosexual men and men in highly emotional jobs did nearly as well as women.

Did you know? Someone with autism may not exhibit typical body language and may seem incongruent with what they are saying. Additionally, they may not be as naturally skilful in decoding other’s body language.

Rightly or wrongly, human nature drives us to follow (and trust) high-impact or “high-status” individuals, so if you want to influence and persuade, having a good presentation posture and avoiding unconscious low-status body language is a good idea.

Body Language & Status Exercise – try this out!

  • Reflect upon which of these styles you are most like?
  • What can you learn from that?
  • Practise your new body language whenever you can – even standing in a queue!

Can you see how important body language is? And it all happens before you’ve even said a word!

Finally, good posture and body language is critical to ensuring you stand up straight, open your windpipe and can breathe easily. You won’t suffer from a shortness of breath and you’ll add to your calm composure. A good presentation posture also leads to better voice production and projection so you don’t have to shout to be heard.

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UK Business Awards 2018 Triple Finalist

Simply Amazing Training of Dorset and Hertfordshire has been named as a business award finalist in three categories at two UK Business Awards 2018.

At the Venus Dorset Awards 2018, Dee Clayton Founder and Managing Director of Simply Amazing Training has been announced Finalist as ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’. She is also a double award finalist at the 2018 National Business Women’s Awards as ‘Business Owner of the Year’ & ‘Influential Business Woman of the Year’. Winners will be crowned at gala presentations taking place at The Hilton Hotel, Bournemouth on Nov 23rd and Wembley Stadium, London on Friday 7th December 2018, respectively.

The Venus Awards founded by Tara Howard, dubbed by Channel 4 as “The Working Women’s Oscars” celebrate the vital contribution that women in business make to the local, regional and national economy. The Venus Awards Dorset is now in its 9th year, attracted over 515 nominations and 350 applications. Dee Clayton is one of only three finalists in her category, having successfully competed in a shortlisted interview and judging process.

The National Business Women’s Awards raises the profile of industrious, hardworking and enterprising Business Women Nationally. These awards are a sought-after accolade of achievement and a veritable endorsement of success in business.

Commenting about the recent announcements Dee Clayton, Founder and Director stated, “We are delighted that our clients, colleagues and business associates should have voted and/or supported our applications with testimonials about the powerful and positive impact of the training that our talented team deliver. On a personal basis, it is humbling to be recognised by fellow entrepreneurs, businesswomen and sponsor judges. I would like to congratulate all the finalists at both awards and very much look forward to meeting them in Dorset and London.”

Jason Abbott, President AmSafe Bridport, said, “Congratulations to Simply Amazing Training on reaching the finals of these 2018 National Business Awards! Dee Clayton has worked with the Exec team individually to assess our personalities and development requirements and then facilitated us on developing a cohesive management team. The progress we have made would not have been achieved without her insights and expertise. We continue to use Dee and her Company for individual development of key personnel and for my management team including our General Manager in Sri Lanka who is responsible for 500+ people. We wish Dee and her team every success on Nov 23rd and Dec 7th.”

Dawn Crossingham FIOEE, Managing Director of D52ltd Business Toolkit offered an insight into being sponsor and judge for the Entrepreneur of the Year Category by saying, ”As Sponsor of the Venus Women Awards, three phrases summed up what we were looking for in an entrepreneur: Innovator, financial risk-taker and founder. As a Fellow of the Institute of Entrepreneurs I felt that this category is one which resonated with me but it was tough eliminating thirty-five nominees to choose only five as semi-finalists, and then reducing that to a further three was even harder. I was really grateful to have a panel involved to assist me: An Angel Investor, a successful international multiple business owner, a small business owner and myself. We determined that our entrepreneurial winner would be an individual who, rather than working as an employee, noticed a problem in their sector, had an idea for the solution, then founded a business, growing it from nothing into a growth brand; assuming all the risks and rewards of the venture. “These award finalist announcements come soon for Simply Amazing Training after being announced as a Hat Trick finalist at the National SME Awards 2018.

Simply Amazing Training offer specialist executive presentations skills coaching and management training throughout the UK and internationally.

They are famous for their Public Speaking Monkeys (trademarked) technique. The mind chatter or fear monkeys are the voices of self-doubt which cause so much anxiety. Their innovative technique gets to the unconscious in an approachable manner by helping clients “Tame” their monkeys and becomes confident speakers with a 99% success rate.

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