Stirling Training Consultants

Working from home has many benefits. It gives us the freedom to have greater flexibility over our working day. However, there are also negative aspects to this. Our research has shown that many people are working longer hours, taking fewer breaks and spending longer on each task. There is now a less formal structure to the day.

This is because, in the office, the rhythm of your day is influenced by other people. For example, when your colleague takes a lunch break it reminds you to do the same. Similarily getting up from your desk to visit people in different departments means stretching your legs and spending 5 minutes chatting with them. All of this adds up to positive breaks in the day.

When working from home you need to engineer these types of breaks and activities into your day. Time management at home is an essential skill to develop if you are to ensure both your own and your team’s continued performance and a healthy work-life balance.

So, what can you do to manage your time at home? Take a break!

Scientific research says that to stay focused and to concentrate on tasks we need breaks both for our well-being and our work effectiveness. A study published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity showed that a 5-minute walk or even simply standing up every hour throughout the day had a positive effect on mood, energy levels and even a decrease in food cravings. In addition, the study found that laughing releases endorphins which lowers stress levels, so spend a minute looking at funny cat videos!

Breaks also help our decision-making ability. Studies show that as we get tired, we may experience decision fatigue which results in either bad decisions or decision avoidance. One study looked at how physical tiredness impacted the quality of decisions made by sportspeople. Another interesting study, that looked at mental tiredness, found that parole judges were more likely to grant parole early in the day or after a break.

Decision fatigue isn’t always obvious, but if you find yourself putting off or avoiding things, just saying no because it’s easier, or making snap decisions, be aware this could be decision fatigue. It’s better to make important decisions earlier in the day.

It’s important to look after yourself if you are to perform at your optimum level. Your brain needs fuel, so make sure you have nutritious snacks at hand rather than sweets – mind you the benefits of dark chocolate make it a great snack! Nutritionists recommend that blueberries, broccoli, and pumpkin seeds may boost memory. Staying hydrated also increases alertness levels.

Get started today actively managing your time working from home! Keep a timesheet of your day, the time you start, how long you spend on tasks, what you eat, when you have breaks, and for how long. The results may just surprise you!

5 Tips for Effective Time Management

  • Make important decisions earlier in the day
  • Take short, frequent breaks
  • Feed your brain
  • Keep a timesheet
  • Laugh!

In the old days, hundreds of thousands of loyal office customers would walk into their friendly Pret a Manger store. They were greeted by an enthusiastic barista and would be handed a well-priced flat white in under two minutes. The same customer would be back for their lunch and probably return for a final caffeine hit mid-afternoon.

Now Pret has had to go into survival mode and has had to think out of the (lunch) box. It sells its coffee beans on Amazon; its products are available on food delivery platforms and it has even opened a ‘dark kitchen’. Its most headline-grabbing initiative has been its coffee subscription – all you can drink for £20 per month. Pret has had to adapt to survive.

Keeping customers loyal in changing times is not an easy feat to achieve. Nor is there a magic one-size-fits-all solution. However, when done effectively maintaining and even growing customer loyalty in difficult times will raise your brand above the competition and ensure your business’ continued success.

So, what can your business do? It’s all about thinking differently!

1. Take a Look at the Opposite – If your customers can’t get to you, how can you get to them? Opposite thinking will enable you and your team to challenge assumptions about the problem, develop possible solutions and come up with non-apparent ideas.

2. Ask Yourself ‘What are other people doing?’  – There are loads of examples of creativity – online concerts, virtual holidays, video consultations. What can you change to make your business work? Who is your business idol? What would they say and do? Look at Pret for starters!

3. And Don’t Forget to Keep innovating! – Historically, companies that kept the focus on innovation through a crisis emerged stronger. Use your flipchart and virtual whiteboard – Gather a broad collection of minds and specialities together to explore solutions – Diversity drives innovation.



Signs have now become part of the new normal. They’re everywhere – in the workplace, public buildings, at the train station, the airport, in the shops, and on the street. They inform us, guide us and enforce rules upon us. However, signs can also evoke emotions in us.

Take a look at the signs below. How do these make you feel?

Stand here!

Wait there!

Keep your distance!

If you ask most people what they think about the signs they see in everyday life, they are either neutral or negative about them. This is understandable, signs are functional items. But what if we could take this opportunity to use signs to make a positive impact?

Despite the current ubiquity of signage, many businesses are missing the opportunity to use signs to reinforce their brand image and promote their corporate culture. A positive corporate culture not only improves customer loyalty (especially in difficult times) but it also improves employee loyalty and ultimately helps you attract new people to your business. Take a look below to see how you can take advantage of this opportunity.

How can signs build my brand?

1. Be Different

The rules have changed. It used to be good practice to keep the message short and simple, but now people spend longer waiting by a sign to go into a shop, restaurant or bank. So, give them something interesting to look at! Maybe mention the specials in your shop or just take their mind off the fact they are waiting. Give them a quiz question, a puzzle, the first line of a song, and give the answer when they are further down the line.

2. Use Humour

Research has shown that humour gets attention, increases memorability, overcomes resistance, and enhances the persuasiveness of the message. Air New Zealand knows this.  You expect a safety video on a plane to be functional and factual – have you seen Air New Zealand’s safety videos? Whether they are recreating Middle Earth, involving the All Blacks Rugby Team, or highlighting conservation, they are fun, topical, and memorable.

3. Reflect Your Company

We understand that there has been a lot to do to get your business covid-ready and adapt to the ever-changing covid and post-covid landscape. But now is a great time to reflect on what your business’ signs say about you. Have you just photocopied ‘Wait Here’ on a piece of paper? What does that say about your company?  Think of your signs as your branding, your advertising, and make them reflect your company image.

4. Use Courteous Words

When creating an informational sign adding words like ‘Please’, ‘Thank You’, ‘We Appreciate You…’ makes a huge difference psychologically.  In today’s world people are more anxious than ever before and signs that shout instructions do nothing to put people at ease. Creating a friendlier environment will relax your customers, increase your business and add a bit of joy to the world.


We Appreciate You!

Thank You.

What other tips do you have for using instructional signage to your advantage? Let us know in the comments below or get in touch to discuss how STC can help you implement large-scale cultural changes that will bring long-term benefits for your business.

Is your company still holding 3-hour sales meetings?

How quaint! How antiquated! How anachronistic!

We have all sat in three-hour sales meetings that painstakingly go through reams of data, dozens if not hundreds of prospects and countless slides outlining all the things everyone around the table hasn’t done. Some of us remember guessing how many people would fall asleep before the end. At least there was always a chance to catch up on your emails…but this was all pre-BC (before Covid).

Covid has Changed Meetings

Unless you have been living in covid-free Samoa, your world has changed drastically within the last couple of years. These changes have not only affected our personal lives (in often tragic ways) they have also impacted our professional lives. In particular, meetings have changed:

  • Meetings were and often still are held via video conferencing.
  • They were shorter, punchier and more focused on outcomes.
  • Meetings were more frequent with each containing fewer but stronger short term action points.

Business priorities have also shifted since the onslaught of Covid-19:

  • Winning new revenue outranks almost anything as the current top priority for businesses.
  • Teams need focus, motivation and clear direction now more than ever.

Many of these changes were driven by necessity rather than strategy. However it is essential now that much of that necessity has past we don’t slip back into previous bad habits. Take note of what worked and what didn’t and make a conscious effort to embed positive change for the future.

What does that mean for your Sales Meetings?

Your sales meetings need to change to adapt to this changing environment. They need to be shorter, more efficient and more productive. But how do you do this? Take a look at the following practical changes you can start implementing today.

  • Less Information: whatever data you normally include, halve it, then halve it again. Stick to essentials, if in doubt, leave it out.
  • Pre-reading: Distribute well-written, accurately interpreted sales updates in a format that is easy to read and highlights key points.
  • Replace the Agenda with Questions: Instead of an agenda send out a list of question and insist attendees arrive with answers.
  • A Single Point of Focus: Give your meeting a single message, a single point of emphasis and a single course of action.
  • Keep it Brief: Plan your meetings well so you can complete them quickly and get your sales team back to work faster.
  • Motivate: Sales meetings are not a data transfer activity. Don’t over-complicate them. Make your meetings participative and enjoyable so your sales team leave the meeting feeling motivated and with a renewed sense of direction.

How should you plan your Sales Meetings?

A short, simple and effective sales meeting actually takes more planning than the long data-driven bore that we have all come to know and love. When planning your next sales meeting it is helpful to examine the following factors: Aim, Attitude, Facts and Timing (A.A.F.T.).

  • Aim: What is the single most important outcome you want from this meeting. Focus everything towards that. If it is to get more closes, push on that, if it is finding new prospects, make that your focus. Have a single aim – and go for it!
  • Attitude: How do you want attendees to feel? Motivated, confident, clear on the outcomes needed, excited, engaged, involved, important? Whatever it is, you need to design the meeting around this attitude and deliver it in a style and manner to achieve that.
  • Facts: Ask yourself what information is really necessary to achieve the aim and attitude as stated above? Be minimalist. Make every piece of information tell a story and point your audience in one single direction.
  • Timing: How can you make it shorter and punchier? Over the next 3 months should your monthly meetings be quick 30-minute motivating meetings every week, or every fortnight? Your meetings need to be varied, enticing, intriguing and above all, planned to bounce between input and discussion, you talking and them talking, serious points and a bit of fun. Keep it tight!

Times are changing. Make sure your meetings are too!

Would you like to improve your team’s sales skills? Take a look at our sales training courses today!

2020 has been a year of unprecedented change both in our personal lives and in our working lives. The business meetings which we so often rely upon to make decisions, launch projects, manage day-to-day operations and improve performance have changed too. Keep reading to discover how you can create dynamic meetings in 2020.

We researched how meetings have changed in 2020. Here's what we found:

  • 76% of leading companies have dramatically reduced the length of their meetings. 
  • 75% reduction in leader input during meetings.
  • 46% of companies have reduced the number of slides by 70-80%.
  • 300% increase in time spent on action planning during meetings.

With so much change happening now is a great time to assess the effectiveness of all your meetings. Be critical. Ask yourself  ‘do your meetings increase success or reduce it?’ Think about the effect your meetings are having on business priorities, ask yourself ‘Are your projects and your sales activity moving faster or slower?’ Talk to your team, take a look at what industry leaders are doing and be inspired!

Meetings are changing - are yours?

How have successful companies changed the way they run their meetings in 2020?

We analysed the fastest moving teams in a cross-section of FTSE 350 companies and rapidly expanding small companies to find out how their meetings had changed in 2020. Take a look at our findings below to discover how to have more dynamic meetings:

What we looked at:
  • Meeting Cadence
  • Meeting Content & Focus
  • Activity in Meetings
  • Using Different Techniques
What we learnt:
  • Meetings are shorter by 70%
  • Frequency is up by 2.4 times
  • Reporting time has reduced by 45%
  • Discussion time has increased by 400%
  • Using different techniques has increased by 82%

STC Research Findings

1. Meeting Cadence: Frequency & length

Q. How has the frequency of your meetings changed?

Less often


x up to 2

x up to 4

x more than 4






Q. How has the length of your meetings changed?

Length of meeting

1 day

1/2 day

2-3 hours

1-2 hours

1 hour or less













2. How meeting content and focus has changed

Q. By how much have the number of slides you show in a meeting increased or decreased?

  • No. of Companies

Q. How has the emphasis of your meetings changed?

Before Covid

From reporting facts . . .

From looking back . . .

From leader input . . .

From multi-focus . . .

After Disruption

. . . to motivating action.

. . . to looking forwards.

. . . to team input.

. . . to a single focus.

3. How the activities in meetings have changed

Q. What activities did you do in your meetings before Covid? What activities have you done since the Covid disruption?

Before Covid

  • Team reports
  • Leader Input
  • Discussion
  • Action Planning

After Disruption

  • Team reports
  • Leader Input
  • Discussion
  • Action Planning

4. Using different techniques to create more dynamic meetings

Q. What different techniques have you been using in meetings in 2020? How much benefit have you found from adopting these new techniques?

Different Meeting Techniques Used

No. of Companies Using Them

% Benefit from Using these Techniques

Write the agenda as a list of questions not statements



Circulate more of the information prior to the meeting



Circulate pre-meeting pack at least 1 day earlier



Changed format of pre-meeting pack to aid rapid understanding



Use breakouts (phone) during VCs



Have very short ‘touchpoint’ meetings between main meetings



Think before the meeting about how to motivate the team



Consciously make the meetings more fun & more focused on results



Interested in making your team meetings more dynamic? Take a look at our management skills training courses today!