Category Archives: Personal Effectiveness

Hootville’s de Hoedt on Public Speaking

Public Speaking PyramidOur Community published this short piece of advice about public speaking from Hootville Communications head honcho Brett de Hoedt in its latest Our Community Matters ezine:

So what makes a “good speaker” “good”?  Well Brett took a cue from nutritionists who – like the Egyptians – created a pyramid long ago that still gets referred to today.  Say hello to the public speaking pyramid.  It all starts with knowledge. Note the lack of whole grains, dairy or legumes in this pyramid!

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Brendel on Getting More Done

downtimeSome heresy from David Brendel from the Harvard Business Review who reports that compelling new research reveals that “less is more” for human brains—and that mental downtime should be among our highest priorities.

If you aren’t making progress on that to-do list or performing up to the level you need to, here are five tips for getting downtime so that you can perform better than ever:

  • Daydream as often as you want
  • Stop preparing for meetings and presentations
  • Spend less time on key decisions
  • Be more “mindful” than focused
  • Shorten your workday.

Kofman on Trust

If you are not deceived occasionally, then you are not extending enough trust.  Unless you experience the occasional deception, you are not optimising your relationship building process.

You are losing valuable opportunities to connect with people who might enrich your career… and your life.  You don’t know in advance who will honor your trust and who will not – so when you extend trust, you are gambling on probabilities and you will make mistakes.

There are two types of mistakes you can make.  Type 1 is to trust somebody who will deceive you – a “false positive.”  Type 2 is to not trust somebody who will not deceive you – a “false negative.”  But you can only reduce the probability of Type 1 mistakes by increasing the probability of Type 2 mistakes, and vice versa!

You can reduce the probability of trusting the “wrong” person by tightening your standards – and excluding a “wrong” person from your circle of trust is a benefit.  But tightening your standards means a higher probability of rejecting a “right” person; and excluding a “right” person from your circle of trust is a cost.

There are no hard and fast rules – you just have to strike a balance with which you are comfortable – no easy matter!

Priority Setting

Do you find you procrastinate about doing some things – here’s a thought – “eat a live toad first thing every morning and after that every task is easy!” In other words, start your day on the most annoying task and get it out of the way – then there’s no way but up.

Setting Priorities – the basics


People, money, and time are finite.  There are always more things to do than there is people, money, and time to do them.  Setting priorities is a balancing act.  It should give you a list of tasks in the order in which they should be attempted.  Setting priorities will help you manage the expectations of all of your stakeholders – your staff, your managers, and your customers.

Setting priorities is a subjective process generally based on consideration of two key attributes – importance and urgency.  By themselves, neither importance nor urgency are determinants of a task’s relative priority:

  • Resources for more urgent tasks are used before resources for less urgent tasks areused
  • Resources for more important tasks will be scheduled before resources for less important tasks are scheduled.


Urgency should be an objective attribute so it should be able to be reasonably accurately determined by considering answers to the following questions:

  • Is the situation trending worse or better?
  • When does this task need to be completed?
  • How much effort is required to complete it?
  • Therefore, when does work need to start?


Importance is a subjective attribute so it resides in the eyes of the beholder.  It can be determined by considering the answers to questions such as:

  • What are the worst things that could happen if this task is not completed?
  • What are the best things that could happen if this task is completed?
  • Who is the customer for this task?

If you are unsure, talking to your trusted colleagues is a great option.

How to set priorities?

You may wish to visualise the priority setting process by plotting your tasks on a 2×2 Cartesian Grid, with increasing importance on the y-axis and increasing urgency on the x-axis.  You can put as many levels of importance and urgency as you like into the grid – but the more you put in, the more complex the priority setting process becomes.  So you may wish to start simply.

The following general process will help you set priorities:

  • Jot down working definitions of high, medium and low importance and high, medium and low urgency
  • List all your tasks, with the importance, urgency and therefore absolute priority of each one – sort the list from P1 to P5 – this is a snap in a spreadsheet
  • Within each absolute priority grouping (for example, P3), and manually sort each into their relative priority using the time each task needs to start as the discriminator
  • Schedule resources for P1 tasks, then P2 tasks, then P3 tasks and so on
  • Check that the priority list makes sense – firstly to you and then to your stakeholders
  • Then start working according to your schedule.