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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Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook
In April 2019, Venezuela's crude oil production averaged 830,000 barrels per day (b/d), down from 1.2 million b/d at the beginning of the year, according to EIA’s May 2019 Short-Term Energy Outlook. This average is the lowest level since January 2003, when a nationwide strike and civil unrest largely brought the operations of Venezuela's state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA), to a halt. Widespread power outages, mismanagement of the country's oil industry, and U.S. sanctions directed at Venezuela's energy sector and PdVSA have all contributed to the recent declines.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Baker Hughes
Venezuela’s oil production has decreased significantly over the last three years. Production declines accelerated in 2018, decreasing by an average of 33,000 b/d each month in 2018, and the rate of decline increased to an average of over 135,000 b/d per month in the first quarter of 2019. The number of active oil rigs—an indicator of future oil production—also fell from nearly 70 rigs in the first quarter of 2016 to 24 rigs in the first quarter of 2019. The declines in Venezuelan crude oil production will have limited effects on the United States, as U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude oil have decreased over the last several years. EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in 2018 averaged 505,000 b/d and were the lowest since 1989.
EIA expects Venezuela's crude oil production to continue decreasing in 2019, and declines may accelerate as sanctions-related deadlines pass. These deadlines include provisions that third-party entities using the U.S. financial system stop transactions with PdVSA by April 28 and that U.S. companies, including oil service companies, involved in the oil sector must cease operations in Venezuela by July 27. Venezuela's chronic shortage of workers across the industry and the departure of U.S. oilfield service companies, among other factors, will contribute to a further decrease in production.
Additionally, U.S. sanctions, as outlined in the January 25, 2019 Executive Order 13857, immediately banned U.S. exports of petroleum products—including unfinished oils that are blended with Venezuela's heavy crude oil for processing—to Venezuela. The Executive Order also required payments for PdVSA-owned petroleum and petroleum products to be placed into an escrow account inaccessible by the company. Preliminary weekly estimates indicate a significant decline in U.S. crude oil imports from Venezuela in February and March, as without direct access to cash payments, PdVSA had little reason to export crude oil to the United States.
India, China, and some European countries continued to receive Venezuela's crude oil, according to data published by ClipperData Inc. Venezuela is likely keeping some crude oil cargoes intended for exports in floating storageuntil it finds buyers for the cargoes.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, and Clipper Data Inc.
A series of ongoing nationwide power outages in Venezuela that began on March 7 cut electricity to the country's oil-producing areas, likely damaging the reservoirs and associated infrastructure. In the Orinoco Oil Belt area, Venezuela produces extra-heavy crude oil that requires dilution with condensate or other light oils before the oil is sent by pipeline to domestic refineries or export terminals. Venezuela’s upgraders, complex processing units that upgrade the extra-heavy crude oil to help facilitate transport, were shut down in March during the power outages.
If Venezuelan crude or upgraded oil cannot flow as a result of a lack of power to the pumping infrastructure, heavier molecules sink and form a tar-like layer in the pipelines that can hinder the flow from resuming even after the power outages are resolved. However, according to tanker tracking data, Venezuela's main export terminal at Puerto José was apparently able to load crude oil onto vessels between power outages, possibly indicating that the loaded crude oil was taken from onshore storage. For this reason, EIA estimates that Venezuela's production fell at a faster rate than its exports.
EIA forecasts that Venezuela's crude oil production will continue to fall through at least the end of 2020, reflecting further declines in crude oil production capacity. Although EIA does not publish forecasts for individual OPEC countries, it does publish total OPEC crude oil and other liquids production. Further disruptions to Venezuela's production beyond what EIA currently assumes would change this forecast.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 13 May 2019 – Brent: US$70/b; WTI: US$61/b
Headlines of the week
Midstream & Downstream
The world’s largest oil & gas companies have generally reported a mixed set of results in Q1 2019. Industry turmoil over new US sanctions on Venezuela, production woes in Canada and the ebb-and-flow between OPEC+’s supply deal and rising American production have created a shaky environment at the start of the year, with more ongoing as the oil world grapples with the removal of waivers on Iranian crude and Iran’s retaliation.
The results were particularly disappointing for ExxonMobil and Chevron, the two US supermajors. Both firms cited weak downstream performance as a drag on their financial performance, with ExxonMobil posting its first loss in its refining business since 2009. Chevron, too, reported a 65% drop in the refining and chemicals profit. Weak refining margins, particularly on gasoline, were blamed for the underperformance, exacerbating a set of weaker upstream numbers impaired by lower crude pricing even though production climbed. ExxonMobil was hit particularly hard, as its net profit fell below Chevron’s for the first time in nine years. Both supermajors did highlight growing output in the American Permian Basin as a future highlight, with ExxonMobil saying it was on track to produce 1 million barrels per day in the Permian by 2024. The Permian is also the focus of Chevron, which agreed to a US$33 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum (and its Permian Basin assets), only for the deal to be derailed by a rival bid from Occidental Petroleum with the backing of billionaire investor guru Warren Buffet. Chevron has now decided to opt out of the deal – a development that would put paid to Chevron’s ambitions to match or exceed ExxonMobil in shale.
Performance was better across the pond. Much better, in fact, for Royal Dutch Shell, which provided a positive end to a variable earnings season. Net profit for the Anglo-Dutch firm may have been down 2% y-o-y to US$5.3 billion, but that was still well ahead of even the highest analyst estimates of US$4.52 billion. Weaker refining margins and lower crude prices were cited as a slight drag on performance, but Shell’s acquisition of BG Group is paying dividends as strong natural gas performance contributed to the strong profits. Unlike ExxonMobil and Chevron, Shell has only dipped its toes in the Permian, preferring to maintain a strong global portfolio mixed between oil, gas and shale assets.
For the other European supermajors, BP and Total largely matched earning estimates. BP’s net profits of US$2.36 billion hit the target of analyst estimates. The addition of BHP Group’s US shale oil assets contributed to increased performance, while BP’s downstream performance was surprisingly resilient as its in-house supply and trading arm showed a strong performance – a business division that ExxonMobil lacks. France’s Total also hit the mark of expectations, with US$2.8 billion in net profit as lower crude prices offset the group’s record oil and gas output. Total’s upstream performance has been particularly notable – with start-ups in Angola, Brazil, the UK and Norway – with growth expected at 9% for the year.
All in all, the volatile environment over the first quarter of 2019 has seen some shift among the supermajors. Shell has eclipsed ExxonMobil once again – in both revenue and earnings – while Chevron’s failed bid for Anadarko won’t vault it up the rankings. Almost ten years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP is now reclaiming its place after being overtaken by Total over the past few years. With Q219 looking to be quite volatile as well, brace yourselves for an interesting earnings season.
Supermajor Financials: Q1 2019