Calculating the High Cost of Poor Communication

November 3, 2014 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Meetings, Posts for Buyers, The Orderly Conversation

Business presentations and meetings exist for one reason: to move business forward.

And they ought to do that effective and efficiently. But do they?

As it turns out, in far too many cases, no.

Last week I delivered a keynote address at a conference. The presentation focused on some of the ideas in our new book, The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined.

The audience was made up of individual contributors, managers, and senior leaders. I asked them to think about that last business meeting or presentation that they had either led or participated in. Then I asked them, “Was it effective and efficient?”

Not a single person in that ballroom raised their hand. Not one.

The Cost in Numbers
meeting frustrationAfter the conference, I starting thinking about how much time, energy, and money are wasted every day, week, month, or year by ineffective and inefficient meetings and presentations. Then I started doing some math.

Using round numbers from Wikipedia (I know, I know…), the average household income in the US is $51,939. That’s roughly $1,000/week or $200/day. Assuming an 8-hour day, the average American is making $25/hour.

Had I only googled “average hourly rate,” I would have seen this site that says the US average hourly earnings is $24.53, so I guess my math is sound. Keep in mind this is the average of all workers across the country. I’m sure the average hourly rate for many of the people at the conference was considerably higher. But let’s stick with the average figure for the sake of this discussion.

Let’s assume that there were 8 people at a meeting you attended yesterday. The meeting lasted an hour and was led by Brad, one of your direct reports. Brad’s a great guy, but he came to the meeting unprepared. He wasn’t clear on what he wanted to accomplish. He rambled on and on, jumping from topic to topic. The other attendees were distracted and took the meeting off topic at times. At one point you stepped in to redirect the meeting back to Brad. It was a frustrating meeting and, unfortunately, typical.

Let’s assume that the meeting was important, and that Brad’s goal could have been accomplished in 30 minutes had he been prepared and had he managed the process better. So that’s 30 minutes (or .5 hours) wasted, multiplied by 8 people at the average hourly rate.

.5 hours x 8 people x $25/hour = $100 wasted yesterday.

$100 wasted x 52 weeks = $5,200 wasted per year.

$5,200 wasted x 10 business units = $52,000 wasted per year. That’s equal to the average salary of one person.

Staggering, isn’t it?

The Cost of Diminished Trust and Good Will
Now let’s look at it from a different angle. Yesterday’s meeting wasn’t unique. In fact, as you think about it, it’s status quo for Brad. You’re starting to notice that others are reluctant to attend Brad’s meetings. As a result of his inefficient meetings, he’s lost the good will of his colleagues, which is having a negative effect on his reputation.

Now, let’s say that Brad talks to you about how he’d like a promotion. In the new role Brad would have to have the skills to set direction, communicate expectations, and manage weekly status meeting with senior leadership. With his current skill set, you realize you can’t trust him to take on the new role.

Now what?
My colleagues and I believe that far too much time, energy, money, and good will are squandered through ineffective and inefficient business communication. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. People simply need to (a) understand the damage caused by poor communication, (b) rethink their current approach, and (c) get comfortable using a new set of tools.[Tweet “time, energy, money, good will are squandered by inefficient business communication”]

Learn more by picking up a copy of The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined, or by calling us to set up a skill-building workshop for your employees.

I also encourage you to do your own math; I’ll bet the cost of training your employees will be less than maintaining the status quo.

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communication and co-author of the book, “The Orderly Conversation”

eLearning with Personality

April 7, 2013 in Author, Find Your Focus Video, Greg Owen-Boger, Talent Development, Training, Video, Virtual

greg 200x300“I think your eLearning courses succeed because they have personality.”

This comment was part of a conversation I was having with an L&D peer at a conference recently. I was really happy to hear it. When we were putting our eLearning courses together, we thought a lot about how we were going to engage learners in the conversation. We wanted our instructors to seem spontaneous and genuine.

I disagree with what I’ve been hearing on social media about how ineffective talking head video is in eLearning. The problem isn’t the fact that we’re seeing a person on the screen. The problem is seeing someone who’s clearly uncomfortable.

So when we use talking heads in our video, we need to find a way to ensure the speaker’s personality comes through.

I’ve been making the rounds of the workplace learning & development conferences speaking on this very topic.

Here’s a link to my speaking schedule.

Turpin Communication has put together a few videos to help people learn to do this as well.

Make Your Videos Authentic
The other day I came across an article someone had posted on Facebook. It was about how small business owners should use video to market themselves. “Keep your video authentic” was the first of 5 recommendations the author made. Although the article is written to a different audience, the same thing applies to eLearning video.

So if you’re thinking about producing eLearning talking head video, think about the learners’ experience. No learner wants to sit through an online course with stilted, painful, inauthentic video. They want to get in, be engaged in an authentic way, learn what they need to learn, and get on with things. Let’s make sure we do that.

Need help for yourself or coaching for someone else? Watch this video.

Learn more about On-camera Coaching.

By Greg Owen-Boger, VP at Turpin Communication and co-author of the upcoming book, “The Orderly Conversation” 

QR Codes and Your Next Presentation

June 25, 2012 in Author, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, Preparation, Presentation


Last week I had the pleasure of attending a workshop on QR codes (among other social media things) at a session hosted by the Chicagoland Chapter ASTD. It was led by Larry Straining, founder of Larry’s Training, and author of the book, “ 111 Creative Ways to use QR Codes.”

I’ve used QR codes for a handful of things, but it never occurred to me that they might be useful for Turpin’s clients and their presentations.

There’s been a lot of discussion recently with some of our larger clients about trimming back the amount of information on their employees’ slides and leave-behind documents. We wholeheartedly agree, as long as the slide/handout doesn’t lose meaning or cause confusion for the presenter or listener. The problem with this approach, though, is that sometimes audience members need to be able to access back-up information later.

greg 200x300Ding. Ding. Ding.

Why not make that back-up info available and accessible through a QR code? Less paper, more easily accessible information. That seems like a win-win.

Here’s how it would work. As you prepare your presentation, collect whatever data you need to support your points. Put the detail into a separate document, then create slides that are lean and give you just enough reminder of what you want to say. Upload your support document to a service such as YouSendIt, and create a QR code to link to it. Then copy/paste the QR code onto the slide.

Viola! You have an instant appendix available to your listeners long after you’ve left the conference room. All they have to do is scan the code with their mobile device.

How have you used QR codes?

By Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Let’s Meet Up at ASTD International Conference & Exposition May 23-25 in Orlando

March 24, 2011 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, News, Preparation, Training

If you’re heading to Orlando for the American Society for Training and Development conference, let’s meet up. We’ll be in booth 1227.

ASTD Exhibitor, booth 1227

Want to check us out ahead of time? Don’t blame you. Our virtual tradeshow booth is here, and it contains all sorts of information about our presentation and facilitation skills training workshops.

Find out what we mean when we say:

“This is communication training. REDEFINED.”


Also, Dale Ludwig, Turpin’s Founder and President, will be speaking Wednesday, May 25. If you are a trainer, or a training manager, you won’t want to miss this exciting session.

Trainer, Know Thyself: Why Your Default Matters
Wednesday, May 25, 10:30am – 11:45am

In this session, you’ll take a fresh look at what it means to be a successful trainer. At the heart of every training session is the need to be organized, prepared, and on track. At the same time, trainers need to engage learners in a genuine, spontaneous conversation. In other words, there is a strong tension between your “orderly” training plan and your “conversational” delivery.

One way trainers balance this tension is to blend didactic instruction with group discussion and activities. But success lies in execution, and the best-laid combination of methods often falls out of balance because of your default—the way you personally respond to the tension between the orderly and the conversational. Your default is a measure of your comfort, habits, strengths, and weaknesses. Awareness of it explains why some trainers thrive by keeping things on track—planning, details, time management—while others thrive being spontaneous, engaging listeners and encouraging discussion. While the influence of your default is felt throughout the process, it is often unconscious and uncontrolled.

This session will help you explore the influence of your default and what you can do to manage it to your advantage in the classroom.

Dale Ludwig is the founder and president of Turpin Communication, a presentation and facilitation training company. Over the past 20 years he and his partners at Turpin have developed methodologies that challenge much of the conventional wisdom in the field. Working with presenters, facilitators and trainers, Turpin’s work (1) focuses on the orderly conversation that must take place in today’s business environment, (2) acknowledges the default approach that every presenter and facilitator brings to that process and (3) helps communicators develop the skills they need to engage listeners in a productive interaction. Dale has a PhD in Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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