Friday, February 25, 2011

Want an idea of what you really look like as a speaker? Hit the "mute" button

I just finished evaluating one of my very favorite clients. This is a super smart guy (not to be confused with a super smartypants guy; yuck.) with whom I've worked on developing some pretty high stakes presentations. This time, as luck would have it, his presentation was posted on youtube within 24 hours after he gave it. This gave us the oppportunity to evaluate his delivery.

The first thing I noticed, like immediately, was that he wasn't smiling. At all. Despite the fact that I'd SPECIFICALLY instructed him to smile when we'd prepped for the speech the day before. Now keep in mind this is a guy with a great sense of humor who I can hear smiling ON THE PHONE. ay yi yi.

From a content perspective, he hit it pretty much out of the park. He had an incredibly tight time frame, (7 minutes) and an important message, and he pulled it off beautifully. Not only did he make his planned points, he tied them in with what had been said before he spoke. Genius. Content wise, me happy. Delivery wise, not so much.

To make my point LOUD AND CLEAR (I'm a pretty petite person, but I make up for it hitting people over the head metaphorically speaking.) I advised him to watch the video of himself without the sound. Doing that he would see immediately what I was missing in his delivery.

Try it yourself. I guarantee it'll give you a whole different perspective on your presentation. And please, I beg you, don't forget to SMILE.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

it's always the people

I was very fortunate to attend the Rethink Forum yesterday at the Sentry Center in NYC. The whole event was absolutely first rate and first class. The food was beautiful, delicious and plentiful. The personalization of everything from name badges to netbooks to programs was amazing and the technology involved was astonishing. This was a forum to rethink events, meetings and conferences and it was attended by about 300 people globally. The NYC speakers were streaming live to Paris, Copenhagen and Minnesota in addition to individuals who were logged in remotely at their own locations. The agenda for this half day event was ambitious (my head was spinning a little by the end, but I'm not a techie) there were cameras, video cameras, sound boards, three screens, a control booth... you name it, they had it, knew how to use it and did.
Yet with all of the fabulous innovation, inspiration and overall WOWness, the best part of the day for me was, (drum roll please) the people I met. From Ann and Rea, the masterminds behind LilyGild, a meeting and event company, to Michelle Alexander from Fundtech,a global solutions technology company, to my host Karan Spanard planning genius of Maryada Strategies, I loved getting to meet and talk to people in businesses related and unrelated to my own who had great things to say about the day, their work, their industry, their clients, and their worlds.
The hosts of the Rethink Forum absolutely gave me plenty to think about, but it was the people I met that made my day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

give 'em the "why"

How many people reading this floss their teeth on a regular basis? Most people don’t. They know a generic “they” “should”, but they really don’t understand the benefit of flossing, so they skip it. I floss every single day. You know why? A million years ago, when I was about 24 my dentist said to me, “Debbie, you need to take care of your gums. We can always replace a tooth, but if your gums go, there’s nothing protecting your teeth, no way to anchor a bridge, you’re sunk.” I like my teeth, I need my teeth, and if one or two has to go, I want to know they can put in a reasonable facsimile, so I floss.

Sometimes in a persuasive presentation, we must provide the audience with the "why". Your product or service absolutely solves a problem for them, but it's a problem they don't know they have. If you explain to them first what their problem is, or could be, you've got them eating out of your hand when you get to proposing your solution. Not only that, they're grateful to you for seeing the oncoming train which would have nailed them if not for your alerting them. Now they not only see the value in your product or service, they see the value in their relationship with YOU.

Think about that the next time you're preparing a pitch. Oh, and floss everyday too, will ya?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Volkswagen Commercial: The Force: Why is this a great commercial?

This was by far my favorite commercial from last night's Super Bowl. In fact, I've seen it twice again today and I think I like it better every time. So it gets me thinking, what is it about this ad that's so appealing? I don't think any of us would say it's about the car. Unlike the Chrysler ads, it's not about a city, a life style or a culture. I think it's about something in us. I think it's about the way the ad makes us feel. I think it takes us back to a part of us, or a part of our children that evokes a magical, powerful, anything is possible, I can move mountains (or maybe a golden retriever) kind of feeling. How does that feel? Inside? It's a feeling presenters would be wise to evoke. May the force be with you.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting started is the hardest part

Here in the Northeast we've had snow, snow and more snow. Although you wouldn't know it to look at me, I love getting out there and shoveling. It's a good thing too, because we live at the top of a relatively unforgiving hill with HUGE trees along the driveway. But with the insane amounts of snow we've had this winter even I am finding shoveling a daunting task some days.

Last week, for example, I woke up to over a foot of snow which had drifted on our front stoop and against our storm door. It took brute strength just to make it outside, and then I was standing in snow up to my knees, with no easy place to shovel it to. (there are walls of snow on either side of the driveway literally about 4 feet tall...)

So I began shoveling. What else could I do? I cleared the stoop and the stairs, and then little by little I began clearing the driveway. I had to think strategically; where was I to put this new snow? Where would we need room to maneuver the cars? By the time my son came out to help I'd created enough space for two of us to make even better progress. It took us three hours, but we did it.

The same is true with presentations. Beginning is the hardest part. It feels vast and overwhelming. There's so much to say, so much information to gather, so little time. I think this is why so many presenters simply copy and paste other people's slides and slam together a "presentation" that, when given, feels like a long dark ride on a bumpy road.

A better way would be to sit with a piece of paper and map out the presentation. Think about the presentation's purpose, the audience's problem and how you're solving it. THEN start building. The time you spend thinking will be the most valuable time of all. THAT'S the beginning; hard but necessary.