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  1. How to speed read

    Speed reading can be a really effective way to quickly absorb high level information when you don’t have the luxury of time. It’s a skill that is easy to develop and can give you many more options if you’re looking for new ways to deal with data under time pressure. When you’re speed reading, rather than looking at each individual word you are instead focusing on phrases or sentences on a page. Most of us read at a pace of about 250 words per minute but if you’re able to develop speed reading skills then you could double this.

    When is speed reading a good idea?

    It’s a very effective tool if you need to absorb information from a document, such as the conclusions presented or the basic arguments. When we speed read we tend to take in less information so this may not always be an appropriate technique. For example, if you have a technically complex document that you need to absorb and understand then this may simply be something that you need to take more time over. If you’re looking to memorise something then speed reading won’t work for this either as studies have found that you would need to be reading at 100 words per minute or less in order to achieve this. However, for a swift understanding of the essentials speed reading is ideal.

    How do you speed read?

    Speed reading is switching from essentially pronouncing every single word in your head to skimming the lines on the page. You focus on blocks of words instead of individual words and expand your gaze so that you’re looking at paragraphs as a whole as opposed to each individual word or sentence. There are three methods that can come in useful when you’re looking to improve speed reading skills:

    1. The Pointer Method. Use your finger and sweep it quickly along the page as you read. You can also use a bookmark or card and move it down line by line.
    2. The Tracker-and-Pacer Method. Take a pen with the lid still on and underline each line on the page, allowing your eyes to sweep across the paragraph with the pen. Spend no more than a second on each line.
    3. This approach involves moving your eyes down the centre of the page and simply focusing on key words and phrases, names and numbers as you go.

    It’s a good idea to start practicing your speed reading with something easy, such as a novel, so that you can improve your skills without getting frustrated. Make sure there are no distractions and give yourself time and space to improve. Especially if you’re using the skimming method it can be key to make sure you know what you want from the text you’re going to read before you start reading it.

    Speed reading is a great skill that can make it much easier to identify information and reduce the amount of time that you spend on individual documents. It’s simple to learn and very effective too.

    Find out more by booking onto our Speed Reading & Information Management Training Course…

  2. How to learn anything quickly

    Learning is the key to growth and development. From acquiring new language skills to picking up coding, being able to drive or embracing new thoughts, ideas and programmes that could help advance a career, having the capacity to learn quickly is essential. If you don’t feel like you’re a particularly effective learner right now these tips could help to improve the speed at which you’re able to do this.

    Time your learning sessions.

    We all learn differently but the one thing we have in common is the length of time that tends to be effective for learning. A 30-minute burst is often too short to really get to grips with a subject but anything after 50 minutes and our brains tend to switch off.

    Take on a teaching role.

    Research has found that we engage with subject matter in a different way when we’re preparing to teach it than if we’re just learning to pass a test. If you have to teach content to someone else then you’re likely to engage with it much more fully, create your own cohesive structure for it and be quick to identify the key points.<

    Use a pen and paper

    If you’re taking notes then it can be tempting to do it with a phone or laptop or even just to record the session. However, a study by researchers at Princeton University and UCLA identified that taking notes by hand encouraged more active listening and meant more engagement with the topic. Devices not only mean that you can switch off but also provide more potential for distraction, such as emails or games.

    Space out your learning – and repeat it.

    Rather than learning for 120 minutes once a week, schedule your learning for three sessions of 40 minutes. It’s also been found to be beneficial to go back over what you’ve learned so that it really embeds in your brain. Review the information one or two days after studying it, as repeating information like this sends a strong signal to the brain that this is information that should be retained.

    Use different techniques in your learning

    For example, if your goal is to learn a new motor skill then practising that skill in different ways can give you an advantage when it comes to learning it more quickly. Studies have found that those who used an original learning technique followed by a modified learning technique picked skills up faster than those who just stuck with the same technique throughout.

    Get enough rest.

    We need to be in good physical condition to be able to learn effectively, especially when it comes to rest and sleep. In fact, one study established that slotting in sleep in between learning sessions (e.g. learning one morning, sleeping that night and then continuing learning the next day) created a twofold advantage in terms of relearning and long term retention.

     

    Being able to learn quickly is a skill that can benefit all of us and these are some of the simplest ways to enhance your current approach.

     

    Find out more by booking onto our How to Learn Anything Quicker Training Course…

  3. How to be a successful pa

    A PA plays a crucial role within a business and provides the opportunity for an incredibly satisfying career with the potential for plenty of advancement. Great PAs are highly valued within organisations and often prioritised where recruitment strategy is concerned. If you’re keen to get ahead as a PA then there are some simple ways to ensure that you make a success of this as your chosen career.

    Effective communication is essential

    Almost every task that is involved in being a PA will require strong communication skills. You may be dealing with people right across the organisation and need to be confident in communicating with others outside of the business at all levels. Clear communication is essential to help ensure that you’re able to do your job well, to avoid misunderstandings or anything getting lost in translation and to facilitate effectively. That could be face-to-face communication or it might be written, via email or messaging.

    Organisation is key

    While every business does things differently internally, having strong and adaptable organisational skills is essential for a successful PA. You must be able to effectively organise the work and life of your executive and that means managing your own time efficiently and being able to stay on top of scheduling, changes and the demands that others may be putting on their time, as well as your own.

    Embrace the variety

    Being a PA requires plenty of adaptability and this is one of the reasons why many people value someone who can do this role well so highly. For example, you may need to act as a travel organiser one day or event planner the next. The variety of the PA role can shift at any moment and the most effective PAs are those who are flexible enough to be able to move with this. Organisations value flexible PAs who are agile and adaptable enough to go with the flow, whether that means accommodating different hours or the changing needs of the job.

    Be proactive

    If you’re able to see what needs to be done in advance and anticipate potential requirements then you’ll always be a step ahead and viewed as a highly effective PA. It’s essential to make sure you’re proactive if you want to get ahead in this career – not only will this make your executive’s life easier but it will also ensure that you’re prepared for most eventualities too.

    A positive attitude goes a long way

    Businesses want PAs who say yes and are able to find solutions and opportunities, rather than those who are hesitant or resistant. A positive outlook and ‘can do’ attitude are highly valued in PAs today, especially if this is supported by genuine enthusiasm for the job and the business that you’re working for.

    Becoming a PA offers a wealth of opportunities, whether you’re looking to travel, learn or just get ahead in your career. Being proactive and adaptable, organised and a great communicator are all essential to ensuring that you make a success of the role.

    Find out more by booking onto our Developing Your PA Potential to Ensure Success training course…

  4. Tips for making a persuasive presentation

    Effective presentation skills can help you to achieve a lot. Whether you’re looking for a promotion, to win new work or obtain financing for a business, being able to deliver a persuasive presentation can get you a long way towards where you’re looking to go. These are our top tips for ensuring that you can deliver consistently and effectively when you really need to.

    • Start strong. It’s important to get the audience’s attention from the start – one of the simplest ways to do this is often to begin with a compelling story.
    • Make sure you know who you’re speaking to. Spending some time researching your audience can ensure that your presentation is pitched just right. Do you know what the values of those in your audience are, what they care about and where their objectives sit? This kind of insight will enable you to tailor a presentation in a way that makes your audience feel like you’re speaking directly to them.
    • Keep it simple. Identify one or two objectives for your presentation and build it around that. Any more and your message might get lost and your audience simply end up feeling confused.
    • Practice and ask for feedback. Every time you practice a presentation you’ll notice something else that could be tightened up or improved. Ask others to listen to you practice and their feedback could help you to make what you say even more effective.
    • Where are the mental blocks likely to be? If you’ve researched your audience then you’ll have an idea of where there is most likely to be resistance to the content of your presentation. This is an opportunity to deal with those potential obstacles in your presentation – do this proactively and knowledgeably as opposed to being aggressive or making fun.
    • Don’t read your presentation. You’ll find it difficult to engage with your audience if you’re reading, whether that’s off cards or a screen. It’s much more effective to make sure that you can keep eye contact, whether that means memorising what you want to say or just working with short, simple prompts.
    • Avoid rushing. Especially if you’re nervous you might find yourself dashing through your presentation just keen to get to the end of it. You will ruin the impact of what you have to say in doing this – it’s much more effective to be slow and measured, to make time for pauses and to allow yourself to repeat the most important points so everyone is clear on your objectives.
    • Be ready for feedback. You might get questions after your presentation so be prepared to answer these and to be gracious if there is criticism or challenge to deal with.
    • Finish well. It’s important to go out with a bang and not a whimper so make sure you’ve prepared a strong closing statement.

    A persuasive presentation is a powerful tool that can be used for any number of different goals. Whether you’re keen to get ahead in an office or looking to kick off your own enterprise, developing these skills is essential.

    Find out more by booking onto our Masterclass in Preparing and Delivering Persuasive Presentations training course…

  5. Our top 10 tips for effective telephone prospecting

    If you’d like to be more effective when it comes to telephone prospecting then there are some simple ways to do it. These are our top 10 tips for getting more from the effort that you put in.

    • Prepare a range of responses. Each call will either go to voicemail, be answered by the prospect or someone who handles the prospect’s calls. You need to have the right response prepared for each one of these scenarios so that you don’t waste time or opportunities.
    • Find the right time of day. The more you experiment with call times the more likely you are to see patterns. The reality is that you may have a higher chance of success with some prospects before 9am and with others after 5pm. Experiment as you gain experience so that you have more of an idea of what is likely to work with each one.
    • If you don’t believe in yourself why should they? Self-belief is essential if you want to get better at telephone prospecting. If you sound positive, energised and like you’re backing your own words then it’s likely your prospect will too.
    • Focus on who you’re speaking to. If all you’re doing on the call is talking about yourself or the product you’ll struggle. Instead, focus on the prospect, what their needs are and what information they will find valuable.
    • If you’re leaving a voicemail, be brief. Make sure you know what to say on a voicemail in advance of the call so that you don’t waffle. Keep it to 15 seconds and be succinct.
    • Vary your approach. If you don’t get through on one day make sure that the next call is a different time on a different day otherwise you’re effectively just duplicating effort. It’s also important to make sure that you don’t leave the same voicemail twice so keep a record of what you’ve said, and when.
    • Free up your hands. We are usually much more effective at being convincing if we’re able to use our hands expressively while talking. Even if the prospect can’t see you, being hands free can make you more compelling. That may require you to wear a headset.
    • You may not get through straight away. It can take multiple attempts to break through to a prospect so if this doesn’t happen immediately that’s no reason to just give up. Plan for 4-6 contacts and if nothing is achieved after that then back off for a month or so and try again.
    • Think about the other person’s schedule. For example, most meetings start on the hour so if you call five minutes before you might just be able to catch them.
    • Stay the course. Telephone prospecting is very effective but persistence is essential – be ready to keep trying to achieve those exciting breakthroughs.

    These are just some of the ways that you can be more effective when it comes to what you can achieve with telephone prospecting.

    Find out more by booking onto our Advanced Telephone Prospecting Training Course…

  6. How to become a better project manager

    Becoming a great project manager is possible for anyone. No one starts out with exactly the right skill set and there are always opportunities to improve and do better. If you’re keen to evolve as a project manager then these are some of the simplest ways to do it.

    • Be a consistent and effective communicator. This means ensuring that communication is maintained for all parties, from stakeholders to managers, and keeping lines of communication open. Use all the tools at your disposal to do this, from video conferencing platforms to email and face-to-face meetings where practical.
    • Learn how to listen. Many of us listen to others while thinking or doing something else and, as a result, we can miss subtle emotional signs or behavioural cues. Being able to listen actively means being fully present with the speaker and learning how to empathise with their perspective and see what they’re saying from their point of view.
    • Be clear about next steps. Every time a meeting takes place make sure that everyone walking away from it knows what they need to do next and when that needs to happen by.
    • Be transparent and authentic. If you’re using access to information as a means of control then you’re likely to end up in a sticky situation because other people talk. Instead, be transparent if you want to build trust and work on your own authenticity – aligning who you present yourself to be with what you say and do.
    • Deal with issues quickly. Establish a simple, routine project control cycle so that any issues that arise are being tackled as soon as they are identified and are not left to escalate.
    • Work on self awareness. It’s easy to get set in your ways as a project manager. However, the best opportunities for improvement often arise from working on self awareness and through the constructive criticism of others.
    • Always look for the problem you’re trying to solve. If you’re struggling to identify the end objective for a project then look at it from the perspective of the issue that it exists to solve. If you take the time to define this clearly then everyone involved will understand the goal.
    • Use technology and templates. Both can save on time and standardise processes across the project.
    • Stay on top of the process. It’s essential that parts of the project don’t end up without observation. Setting soft and hard deadlines can be a simple way to ensure that progress is measurable and everyone remains motivated. Regularly looking for project ‘gaps’ by checking in with time, cost, objectives etc will ensure that these don’t have the opportunity to become voids.
    • Review and learn. Take the time, either within the project cycle or when it’s finished, to review recent progress and work out whether anything could have been done better.

    Becoming a better project manager requires a series of small shifts in the way that you approach and steer people and project cycles.

    Find out more by booking onto our Project Management training course…

  7. How to develop resilience

    Resilience is basically the ability to recover when something in life goes wrong. The more resilient you become the less likely you are to dwell on failures or feel defeated by adversity. Instead, you’re much more able to learn from situations and to move forward whatever happens in life. If you’re looking to develop more resilience for life there are some key steps involved.

    The fundamental qualities of resilient people

    According to research there are a number of key qualities that set resilient people apart from those who are less likely to bounce back in the face of adversity.

    • Being able to reframe the problem. If you’re resilient then when something goes wrong you can view this as a challenge as opposed to an immovable obstacle.
    • A commitment to life. Resilient people tend to be fully committed to achieving goals and to everything, from career to friends – there are no half measures.
    • Directing energy to the right places. Being able to determine what can be controlled and what can’t, and to channel energy where it can have the biggest impact, is a key quality of a resilient person.
    • Protecting self worth. When something goes wrong resilient people don’t blame themselves but see the situation as the reason, thereby protecting their self worth.
    • It won’t last forever. Resilient people view setbacks as temporary and know that obstacles can be overcome. They are also much more likely to restrict negativity to a single issue (e.g. I didn’t do well on that project) than their entire being (e.g. I never do well on any project) which makes progress seem a more achievable goal.

    How to develop resilience

    • Get the basics right. To give yourself a fighting chance at resilience make sure you get enough sleep, eat well and spend time away from the office.
    • Observe how you speak to yourself. Our internal chatter can have a big impact on how well we cope with the world. If you’re constantly telling yourself that you’re not enough or that you can’t cope then this will eat away at your potential to be more resilient.
    • Reframe the hard things. For example you can use cognitive restructuring to develop a different view on issues and problems when they arise.
    • Look for the lesson. If you make a mistake or experience a setback look for something to learn from the experience rather than engaging in self-hatred or blame.
    • Focus on improving self-confidence. Resilient people know deep down that they will succeed eventually and this requires confidence in your abilities and approach. Developing confidence will nurture your sense of self and ensure that you have your own back.
    • Be flexible and allow for change. One of the easiest ways to develop resilience is to work on a mindset that accepts uncertainty and the fact that everything changes all the time.
    • Maintain perspective. Being able to see the bigger picture means that you won’t get dragged down by individual issues or crises.

    Resilience is crucial to getting ahead today and these are just some of the ways that you can start to develop it.

    Find out more by booking onto our Introduction to Building Personal Resilience Training Course…

  8. Our top 10 tips for project management success

    In any sector and at any stage there are challenges when it comes to project management. These are our top 10 tips for driving momentum and ensuring the eventual outcome is success.

    1. Get to grips with the project. Be clear about who the clients and stakeholders are and where each of their interests lie. What are the goals and objectives for the project and what plan is in place to ensure that these are achieved?
    2. Create the right team. Once you have a plan in place you can start to identify how to resource the project. Identify a team, define roles and make sure you have all expertise requirements covered.
    3. Work with individual strengths and weaknesses. When you’re leading any team you will always get more from people if you focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Tap into the strengths of every team member so that each is tasked in the area where they can contribute the most.
    4. Identify the milestones. In order to keep a project on track you need to have a clear pathway to success with specific milestones marked along it. What needs to happen at each stage of initiation, planning, execution and close?
    5. Make sure that someone is steering the project. It’s crucial to have a clear leader in project management – collaboration is important at every stage but there needs to be a project manager who will take control and responsibility where necessary.
    6. Ensure that channels of communication remain open. Whether it’s among team members or between stakeholders and managers, poor communication can mean negative project outcomes. It’s essential to ensure everyone remains informed and has the opportunity to ask questions where necessary.
    7. Use technology. In particular, project management software can make it much easier to deliver a successful outcome. It’s a great way to ensure that everyone has access to information, to facilitate collaboration and to help to make sure that momentum is maintained.
    8. Get familiar with the risks. The risk component in any project can be off-putting and it might be tempting to ignore it and hope it goes away. However, effective risk management is crucial to project management success. Go through the process of identifying potential risks in advance and then putting contingencies in place in case these do actually arise. The reality may be that you never have to deal with them but you’ll be ready to take action if you do.
    9. Test, test, test. Every time you reach a critical milestone test your deliverables. This is the clearest way to see whether the project is on track or not.
    10. Review the project afterwards. Whether you achieved success or not, post-project review is essential. If there have been mistakes and failures then these present a chance to learn and this is also a good opportunity to embed those actions or initiatives that worked particularly well.

    Project management success depends on a number of different factors – these top 10 tips provide a great place to start.

    Find out more by booking on to our Introduction to Project Management training course…

  9. How to manage people without them knowing

    Learning to manage people without them knowing may sound Machiavellian. However, the intention behind this is simply to start managing people in a way that allows them to effectively manage themselves. It can take time and effort to get to a stage where your team is able to be autonomous where necessary, own their decisions and be creative about problem solving but it is possible to get there. These are some of the key steps involved.

    Be clear about when you need to be part of the process

    Most managers want to steer clear of a micro-managing approach and this rarely suits teams either. However, it’s difficult to achieve this if there are no clear guidelines on what needs your input and when an issue or decision is something that staff should be handling on their own. The first simple step to managing people effectively is setting out unambiguously when you should be involved before the team makes a move. Once this is in place it should mean that you’re not constantly being asked for input but also provide reassurance to everyone that it’s clear when you need to be consulted.

    Don’t deviate from the path you’ve designed

    Particularly if you’ve been overly involved in every single decision for some time it might be difficult for your team to give up asking for your input on everything. You might still need to make contributions in unprecedented situations or help junior – or new – staff but on the whole you should stick to the new path that you’ve designed and what you’ve put in place about when you need to be involved and when the team needs to make their own decisions. One simple tactic to deal with staff who are repeatedly returning to ask for your input on every single thing is to turn the tables on them. Next time they come to you with a question try asking them “what do you think?” It means that they may come up with their own solution and will get them into the habit of starting to tap their own internal resources first.

    Stay in touch

    When management style changes there is always a danger that the team may feel like they are being ignored or abandoned. To avoid this, schedule in regular meetings – face to face or via video chat – so that there is the opportunity for them to ask questions and talk things through. This approach may also encourage them to save questions for the weekly chat rather than constantly bombarding you with them.

    Give your team the opportunity to shine

    Instead of solving problems on behalf of your team, when an issue arises give them a chance to do it themselves. For example, if there is a process that currently requires your input to complete but could actually be effectively done without you could a template be designed to facilitate this? Instead of designing this yourself put the problem to the team and let them come up with a solution – it’s likely that they will be more creative and come up with something much more appropriate as it will be designed by those who use it most.

    There is an art to managing people without them knowing and it starts with clear communication and a willingness to trust.

    Find out more by booking onto our Managing People on Projects training course…

  10. Top tips for world-class customer service

    Customer service has always been a foundation of business growth. Recent events have made achieving positive customer service more challenging but not impossible. As brand reputation continues to have a key role to play in whether or not consumers choose your business over another it’s becoming increasingly crucial to make world-class customer service a priority.

    • Give your team the right tools. In the current situation that often equates to technology. Whether that’s an effective CRM, upgrades to accounting or billing systems or marketing automation, the right tools can make it much easier for your customer service team to excel at what they do.
    • Clear and honest communication is essential. Most people don’t respond well to being patronised or overloaded with information and almost all will switch off if they feel they aren’t entirely being told the truth. It’s crucial to train staff to communicate clearly and honestly with customers, to avoid platitudes and practice authenticity.
    • Make sure you have a system in place to handle complaints. When customers aren’t happy it’s important to take note of this. Although it may not always be a sign that there’s an issue you have to resolve it’s always worth making space for the complaint so that the customer feels heard. Train your team to acknowledge the complaint and act so as to control the situation and refocus the discussion on a more positive outcome. Problem solving is essential in a complaint situation as it enables a customer to potentially walk away happy.
    • Avoid rushing customers. Most consumers can sense when they are being pushed hard towards a goal and will resist if this is done in a clumsy way. Customer service teams shouldn’t be clock watching and should avoid being pushy to drive customers towards their goals too quickly. On the flip side, most consumers today don’t want to waste precious time on business interactions so it’s also important to make customer service communication concise.
    • Learning the art of closing is essential. Whether this is closing a sale or simply a conversation, when it is done right it will leave the customer with a sense that the business cares about getting it right – is focused on whatever the customer thinks ‘right’ is – and isn’t going to try and force a conclusion.
    • Learning how to say thank you is key. Gratitude can create some serious ROI and leave a positive impression on customers. Most businesses rely on customers to evolve and grow and expressing thanks for this regularly can be enormously beneficial.
    • Invest in a good team. Exceptional customer service people can have a huge impact on how well the business does overall when it comes to interactions with consumers. Customer service will never be better than the quality of the people delivering it so it’s worth taking the time to find great people, to train them well and to provide opportunities for learning and growth that benefit individuals and the business as a whole.

    These top tips for customer service will enable any business to make an impact on key variables such as brand perception and audience size.

    Find out more by booking onto our Outstanding Customer Service Skills training course…

In-House Training with PTP

PTP stands for Practical Training for Professionals and our aim is to make our training as practical as possible so delegates can return to the workplace with skills they can implement immediately. PTP now delivers training to over 40% of the FTSE 100.

What you get for your money

What is 1-to-1 training?

1-to-1 training can be based on any of the 100 plus courses that PTP provides, it includes an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site one to one training session at your premises with one of PTP's expert trainers and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

You have the option of a line manager being involved in both telephone conferences, the second telephone conference which can be for feedback and action planning is generally scheduled during the on-site visit.

Who does 1-to-1 training suit?

Individuals taking on a new challenge or responsibilities. Professionals who want a trusted "sounding board" and thinking partner. Executives or managers who want to enhance their leadership effectiveness to achieve organizational and career success. Executives and professionals wanting to compete successfully but still retain balance in their life. Individuals who want to understand their blind spots so that they don't stand in their own way on their path to success. Executives and Professionals who want to improve their interpersonal skills so as to be more effective with bosses, peers, subordinates, or people in general. How much does 1-to-1 training cost?

A 1-to-1 training session costs from as little as £400 + VAT and will include an initial telephone conference of up to 1 hour, a 1/2 day (3.5 hours) on-site training at your premises and then a further telephone conference call of up to an hour within 2 weeks of the on-site visit.

What is U-Choose?

Choose from any of the 150 plus courses that PTP provides, and choose from 1 of our 50 plus UK wide training venues. You must book for 2 or more delegates and at least 4 weeks in advance, but that’s it, the course you want where you want it. The reason we ask for a minimum of 4 weeks notice is to enable us to market the course you have scheduled to other companies and organisations. However, if we fail to sell any additional places we guarantee to run the course just for you.

How much does U-Choose Training cost?

U-choose costs the same as our normal open courses i.e. the normal delegate rate. This includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day, framed certification and comprehensive training notes. A U-Choose booking can only be confirmed once we receive payment which can be made via credit/debit card, BACS or cheque. Payment is due at least 4 weeks before the date you request. Please note to be eligible for U-Choose you must book a minimum of 2 delegates on the same course & date.