We've all met 'that' person. The person who has incredible self confidence, who articulate complex arguments with a silver tongue, who's words oozes in to well crafted verses of eloquence, who is gifted with the ability to capture attention, who is able to improvise on-point and witty answers to any left field queries, who exudes a personality that warms and rocks the audience to sway to a well timed beat. How are they able to exhibit such gravitas, think quick on their feet and appear so comfortable doing it?
In the business world, a meeting, a speech, a presentation, a discussion, or a negotiation, are all just examples of human congregations held either trying to share, negate or support information in order to reach a common understanding.
In order to influence that understanding, here are five tips to help you own a powerful, confident and charismatic presence, to command a room:
To be Confident is to Appear Confident : Humans are visual creatures, and while they are listening to your words, they are judging those same words with your body language, mood and appearance. An upright posture is key, standing or seated. Deliver your points with gestures, timed intonation and strong eye contact. Even in disappointment, do not slouch, fidget and express anxiety. Your mood will either make or break your influence over the audience. Humour is often a quick go-to to appear at ease as well as win attention. However, serious arguments might require a calm and composed demeanour, with opportunities to exert dominance. Sometimes sudden changes in tone, changes in position (sitting to standing up) establishes an intangible hierarchy between you and the listener. Always own the self belief to position yourself as the expert of the matter, the one in the winning position to close a deal, but never lose your temper or appear pessimistic. Losing your temper just betrays your lack of ability to be in charge. Optimism is “the fuel of heroes, the enemy of despair, the creator of the future”.
Dress to Impress : And avid TV drama can attest to the magnetism displayed in a mock courtroom, when the charming attorneys give their closing. Their arguments may be able to sway the jury of their peers, their delivery dazzling onlookers, but it is their dressing that positions them to win. With confident strides and wave of their hands, their dapper outfits immediately exerts a message, "Listen to me!". To use the same visual tool to assist you in an office, or in an external meeting with a client, or giving a speech to the public, always ask yourself, is what you’re wearing going to inspire confidence in your abilities? Think about your audience before you enter the room. What will they wear and how will you be compared to them. An easy rule to remember is to just have 'one extra piece'. If you are in an office meeting with all smart casual dress codes, wear a smart business attire (not sloppy or mismatched). If everybody there comes in with well pressed shirts/blouses, wear a tie. A jacket, well polished shoes, so on and so forth. Don't wedge a gap too much that might convey to the audience you are clueless and way out of reach. And don't be afraid to overdress a tad bit. You are there to be the focal of attention, so bring it. Dress to impress, stand out and deliver the message with authority.
Light a Pathway with Story Telling : Often we mistake incessant rambling that dominates a conversation, as expertise. To convince an audience, we need to engage the audience. And to do that, we need to be a mesmerising and memorable story teller, that can mould complex information in to an interesting tale. Great stories have an origination, an escalation of conflict, and a resolution. Begin by introducing yourself and the task at hand with a hook, that signals the listener to pay attention. Your hook could be a question, a startling statement, an anecdote or a video. Next, bring forth your vision, and paint a vivid picture of what you want to achieve with colourful literary techniques to invigorate the imagination. Interest then is often easiest created by a sense of urgency and necessity. Let them feel the hunger and play with their curiosity, pace the reveal and harness their attention to your advantage. You can use modern business tools to assist your reveal, but to avoid your presentation/speech/discussion interfering with your discovery process, structure your text around your core messages and have supporting facts that enhances, and not muddy the waters. These facts can be illustrated in different ways, revisited and emphasised, but never overestimate their ability to create understanding. Your facts and visuals are just aids, seasoning to the recipe but the main ingredients of the story needs to emanate from you. The introduction must flow naturally to your vision, and progress to a sequence of data that is persuasive and finally a lighted path to deliver your climactic conclusion with flair and conviction.
Do Your Homework : Prepare, practice, revise, rewrite, rehearse and restart if you need to. Do not scoff at notion of having the power of knowledge at your fingertips. Knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence breeds charisma. Your colleagues, counterparts or the audience does not need to know that you have toiled over your data, the likely points that they will bring up to counter your own, and the fact you have your text well rehearsed and down pat. Politicians are aided by speech writers, but they slave over the words and revise and rehearse and rewrite over and over again. Why shouldn't you? It may be enough to deliver an average presentation or engage in a normal conversation with what you already know, but the key is to know what you do not. Study the composition of the audience before hand, anticipate questions that might be asked, and write down the probable answers in your notes. A good speaker is able to survive on talent, but a great orator knows that blood sweat and tears must go into every word uttered.
Make Them Believe : Believe in yourself, and the masses will follow. To convince, you are playing with the psychology of the listener who naturally is reluctant to depart from their own self beliefs. To entice them to come over to your side, you need to show how much you believe in yourself and your messages. You are going to have to come across to them as being trustworthy. The audience will see that you care about what you are spewing, but do you care about what they think? Are you going to be listening to them? While sometimes you will be delivering a monologue that does not allow immediate feedback, include supplementals that answers possible questions. What you need to be looking for is signs, both verbal and visual, that your audience is agreeing with you. With agreement, comes belief, and with belief comes a following.
You don't have to be Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson to own an arena. While he electrifies the room even with just a wink, a raised eyebrow and a toothy smile, that amazing appeal is not merely a god-send without a path of his self improvement. Actors or performers learn their craft and spend years honing their abilities to portray the bewitchery that their profession requires. You can be that 'person' too, the confident and charismatic you, by keeping these five tips in mind the next time you need to make a great impression. Make sure you develop, practice and perfect your posture, appearance, delivery, preparation and wit, and soon you will have an audience orbiting around your words, as you command the room with ease, with a presence that signals warmth and self-belief.
Note: Adrin Shafil is an engineer, currently working as a Drilling Manager in Malaysia. He finds that writing is a great stress relief tool and he finds joy in sharing his insights online and answering any questions from graduates, mid-career colleagues and even fellow managers. If you like his articles, please click 'like', share the article on your profile and connect or follow his feed for more great information and tips.
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Headline crude prices for the week beginning 12 August 2019 – Brent: US$58/b; WTI: US$54/b
Headlines of the week
The momentum for crude prices abated in the second quarter of 2019, providing less cushion for the financial results of the world’s oil companies. But while still profitable, the less-than-ideal crude prices led to mixed results across the boards – exposing gaps and pressure points for individual firms masked by stronger prices in Q119.
In a preview of general performance in the industry, Total – traditionally the first of the supermajors to release its earnings – announced results that fell short of expectations. Net profits for the French firm fell to US$2.89 billion from US$3.55 billion, below analyst predictions. This was despite a 9% increase in oil and gas production – in particularly increases in LNG sales – and a softer 2.5% drop in revenue. Total also announced that it would be selling off US$5 billion in assets through 2020 to keep a lid on debt after agreeing to purchase Anadarko Petroleum’s African assets for US$8.8 billion through Occidental.
As with Total, weaker crude prices were the common factor in Q219 results in the industry, though the exact extent differed. Russia’s Gazprom posted higher revenue and higher net profits, while Norway’s Equinor reported falls in both revenue and net profits – leading it to slash investment plans for the year. American producer ConocoPhillips’ quarterly profits and revenue were flat year-on-year, while Italy’s Eni – which has seen major success in Africa – reported flat revenue but lower profits.
After several quarters of disappointing analysts, ExxonMobil managed to beat expectations in Q219 – recording better-than-expected net profits of US$3.1 billion. In comparison, Shell – which has outperformed ExxonMobil over the past few reporting periods – disappointed the market with net profits halving to US$3 billion from US$6 billion in Q218. The weak performance was attributed (once again) to lower crude prices, as well as lower refining margins. BP, however, managed to beat expectations with net profits of US$2.8 billion, on par with its performance in Q218. But the supermajor king of the quarter was Chevron, with net profits of US$4.3 billion from gains in Permian production, as well as the termination fee from Anadarko after the latter walked away from a buyout deal in favour of Occidental.
And then, there was a surprise. In a rare move, Saudi Aramco – long reputed to be the world’s largest and most profitable energy firm – published its earnings report for 1H19, which is its first ever. The results confirmed what the industry had long accepted as fact: net profit was US$46.9 billion. If split evenly, Aramco’s net profits would be more than the five supermajors combined in Q219. Interestingly, Aramco also divulged that it had paid out US$46.4 billion in dividends, or 99% of its net profit. US$20 billion of that dividend was paid to its principle shareholder – the government of Saudi Arabia – up from US$6 billion in 1H18, which makes for interesting reading to potential investors as Aramco makes a second push for an IPO. With Saudi Aramco CFO Khalid al-Dabbagh announcing that the company was ‘ready for the IPO’ during its first ever earnings call, this reporting paves the way to the behemoth opening up its shares to the public. But all the deep reservoirs in the world did not shield Aramco from market forces. As it led the way in adhering to the OPEC+ club’s current supply restrictions, weaker crude prices saw net profit fall by 11.5% from US$53 billion a year earlier.
So, it’s been a mixed bunch of results this quarter – which perhaps showcases the differences in operational strategies of the world’s oil and gas companies. There is no danger of financials heading into the red any time soon, but without a rising tide of crude prices, Q219 simply shows that though the challenges facing the industry are the same, their approaches to the solutions still differ.
Supermajor Financials: Q2 2019
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, CEDIGAZ, Global Trade Tracker
Australia is on track to surpass Qatar as the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter, according to Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science (DIIS). Australia already surpasses Qatar in LNG export capacity and exported more LNG than Qatar in November 2018 and April 2019. Within the next year, as Australia’s newly commissioned projects ramp up and operate at full capacity, EIA expects Australia to consistently export more LNG than Qatar.
Australia’s LNG export capacity increased from 2.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2011 to more than 11.4 Bcf/d in 2019. Australia’s DIIS forecasts that Australian LNG exports will grow to 10.8 Bcf/d by 2020–21 once the recently commissioned Wheatstone, Ichthys, and Prelude floating LNG (FLNG) projects ramp up to full production. Prelude FLNG, a barge located offshore in northwestern Australia, was the last of the eight new LNG export projects that came online in Australia in 2012 through 2018 as part of a major LNG capacity buildout.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL), trade press
Note: Project’s online date reflects shipment of the first LNG cargo. North West Shelf Trains 1–2 have been in operation since 1989, Train 3 since 1992, Train 4 since 2004, and Train 5 since 2008.
Starting in 2012, five LNG export projects were developed in northwestern Australia: onshore projects Pluto, Gorgon, Wheatstone, and Ichthys, and the offshore Prelude FLNG. The total LNG export capacity in northwestern Australia is now 8.1 Bcf/d. In eastern Australia, three LNG export projects were completed in 2015 and 2016 on Curtis Island in Queensland—Queensland Curtis, Gladstone, and Australia Pacific—with a combined nameplate capacity of 3.4 Bcf/d. All three projects in eastern Australia use natural gas from coalbed methane as a feedstock to produce LNG.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Most of Australia’s LNG is exported under long-term contracts to three countries: Japan, China, and South Korea. An increasing share of Australia’s LNG exports in recent years has been sent to China to serve its growing natural gas demand. The remaining volumes were almost entirely exported to other countries in Asia, with occasional small volumes exported to destinations outside of Asia.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL)
For several years, Australia’s natural gas markets in eastern states have been experiencing natural gas shortages and increasing prices because coal-bed methane production at some LNG export facilities in Queensland has not been meeting LNG export commitments. During these shortfalls, project developers have been supplementing their own production with natural gas purchased from the domestic market. The Australian government implemented several initiatives to address domestic natural gas production shortages in eastern states.
Several private companies proposed to develop LNG import terminals in southeastern Australia. Of the five proposed LNG import projects, Port Kembla LNG (proposed import capacity of 0.3 Bcf/d) is in the most advanced stage, having secured the necessary siting permits and an offtake contract with Australian customers. If built, the Port Kembla project will use the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) Höegh Galleon starting in January 2021.