Boardroom Briefing: Fake news, staff productivity and business pitches


Finland sets example to fight fake news, how to increase staff productivity, and the correct level of enthusiasm for pitching a business. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

War against fake news

Fake news on Facebook and other social media is a hot topic conversation in PNG at the moment.

But one country appears to be winning the war against fake news: Finland.

CNN reports on the ‘multi-pronged, cross-sector approach the country is taking to prepare citizens of all ages for the complex digital landscape of today.’

Key to fighting the online plague of false information is education and especially teaching kids to read critically. As one interviewee says, ‘The first line of defense is the kindergarten teacher.’

Another is having a healthy media:

‘According to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018, Finland tops the charts for media trust, which means its citizens are less likely to turn to alternative sources for news.’

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Secrets to increase staff productivity

AkzoNobel staff

How can you make your staff more productive? It’s the perennial challenge for any employer.

In the UK, productivity is flatlining and the Confederation of British Industry is trying to do something about it.

In a report issue last week, it identifies seven habits ‘that can make a difference to how businesses lead, engage and develop their people’. (You can read them here.)

The report observes it’s hard to achieve these habits. Why?

‘The hard truth is that UK firms tend to overestimate how well they, and the wider business community, performs.’

There’s often no shared view of the nature of the problem facing a business, leaders don’t understand how important their roles are, and solutions can differ widely depending on a company’s size.

The report highlights some examples of good practice, however, including a new staff engagement model from AkzoNobel called ‘scrums,’ that seems tailor-made for rugby-mad PNG.

Need funding for your next project? Show the right amount enthusiam

Creative economy. Credit: Kickstarter

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US analysed video pitches from 1,460 business funding proposals on Kickstarter, one of the most popular crowdfunding websites, to measure the level of enthusiasm of the presenters and how it impacted the amount of funding received. How did they do it?

Well, they used software that recognises facial expression and uses big data analytics to see how much enthusiasm was displayed when an entrepreneur was trying to sell their project. Eight million frames of video later, the researchers concluded that people who showed enthusiasm during their business pitch were most likely to receive financial support. Previous studies have suggested the same thing, but here is the catch: too much enthusiasm at the beginning and end of the presentation may not get as much funding. Why?

The researchers said in a statement that potential investors may ‘feel the entrepreneur is using his or her excitement to manipulate the investors’ perceptions in hopes of increasing the odds of getting funding.’ This means that ‘how long an entrepreneur displays the highest level of excitement during a pitch also plays a major role in predicting success in receiving funding.’

Want to get financial support for your next project? Display just the right amount of enthusiasm (not too much, not too little, what the researchers call ‘peak joy’) during your pitch and don’t overdo it.

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