Thursday, July 29, 2010

business speak = yawn

Last night I had the opportunity to talk about elevator speeches with some of Hartford's sharpest business women at a meeting for the CT Women's Council. It was a very very short talk, 10 minutes in fact, because the main purpose of this hard working group is to get to know one another socially.

As I went around the room and listened to a few of them try out their newly crafted elevator speeches and the stories that accompanied them, I heard the all too familiar super duper boring "business speak" in which they were (not at all surprisingly) fluent. The worst thing about business speak, even worse than its ability to induce sleep, is its inability to SAY what we really MEAN. One poor woman had written out a paragraph about "stakeholders" and "maximizing ROI" Her title, (which she told me she never tells people because it just confuses them) doesn't even accurately depict what she does, which is to PROBLEM SOLVE. She's really truly a problem solver. How great a job is that??? What's so bad about that for a title? "VP of Problem Solving" (and it sounded like she was really good at it to boot.)

Even my friend Jody Ferrer, who owns The Perfect Promotion, was struggling to talk about what she does. She was mumbling something about "apparel" HUH? How about "I get you in front of your clients and prospects even when you're not there." THAT would get people sitting up and taking notice. Then she could say, "We can put your name and logo on anything; but we don't. We only put your name and logo on things that help illustrate who you are and what you do."

Wouldn't it be great if people started talking about what they DO in ways an eleven year old could understand and BE INTERESTED IN? How about if we could get people to gather up all the business speak words and throw 'em in a big black hole. (along with all the songs that should never be played again, but I digress...)

Monday, July 26, 2010

the beauty of a deadline

I know, I know, most of us hate deadlines. (I think the word "dead" might have a little to do with this, but still.) But if we're really honest with ourselves we have to admit that deadlines help us GET THINGS DONE. More important, when you know you have a deadline and it's a reasonably distant one (not a "I need this yesterday" one) it helps us GET THINGS DONE RIGHT.

Such is the case for the most successful clients I work with. They know they'll be giving a presentation in three months so they contact me NOW. They don't wait til 5 days before they're to speak to 800 people. They give themselves time to design and develop their presentation and even time to (gasp, no kidding) practice it! Even my most reticent (a polite way of saying they HATE it) speakers are exponentially LESS nervous and thus have an exponentially BETTER experience when they take advantage of their deadline and use it as the impetus to prepare.

For me deadlines give me something to look forward to, something to move toward, a finish line.

And it looks like I'm about to have a BIG one, or a series of small ones. I've met this morning with three very dynamic gentlemen who, if all goes as I think it will, will be instrumental in the publishing of my book about public speaking! Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The amazing power of women

Sorry guys, it's not that I don't love you (and A LOT), and I'm not saying that there aren't more than a handful of you who have helped me over and over and over, (Marc Tannenbaum, David Roth and Michael "the saint" Grimes come to mind immediately) but this past week I've been struck by the resilience, brilliance, and enormous generosity of spirit of women.

Where to begin? Karan Spanard is a consultant for BNY Mellon Bank and contacted me a few months ago about working with a few of their presenters for the upcoming SIBOS conference in Amsterdam. The referral itself would have been enough, but she has shepherded me through the process in such an amazing giving way. Thank you and thank you and thank you can never be enough.

I attended one of Jane Pollak's "Remarkable Women" events last week and was blown away by every woman's eagerness to really LISTEN and offer positive, supportive suggestions. Looking around the room I could see in each of the women's faces an openness, an intense interest. Jane set the stage perfectly (and being surrounded by gorgeous Eileen Fisher clothing didn't hurt either). It was a magical night.

On Tuesday of this week I had lunch with Jody Ferrer uber-connector and owner of The Perfect Promotion. She invited Jessica from co-communications, whom I've been wanting to meet for almost a year now. Jessica, without even having met me, connected me with Execsense, a company in San Francisco for whom I've been doing webinars. In the short space of an hour we had solved (minor) issues for Jody, talked about all kinds of connections we can make for one another, sprinkled with hilarious stories about our kids and significant others.

After lunch I sat down with Marjorie Luke, president of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and talked about terrific speakers for her "Women who mean Business" speaker series. Heidi Michaels, a life and sports coach, and Lisa Wexler, a TOP radio personality came immediately to mind, as did my dear friend Dale Allen. So charged up was I after telling Marjorie about these women I don't even remember the drive home.

Brava! Ladies. Thank you ALL for energizing, inspiring and coming to my aid me every single day.