Posts Tagged ‘Public Speaking’

Brains on Fire®

I attended an Upstate Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners meeting a few months ago. Joe Dannelly was the speaker. Joe works with one of the most progressive Idenity and Branding Companies I know, Brains on Fire®. Hearing Joe speak was a real treat for me because while I’d love to be able to hire Brains on Fire® to help me brand Wolff, with a starting price of $85,000.00, they are a little out of reach for my budget! Just the same, even though Brains on Fire® caters to high ranking companies, both nationally and internationally, they showed concern for local small business as well when they agreed to speak to this group.


During Joe’s presentation, he talked about the work Brains on Fire® did with Fiskars® Shears. They helped Fiskars® develop a Community Website for Scrapbookers called Fisk-A-Teers. It’s a brilliant marriage between a hobby and a supplier that does two things as far as I see it:

1. It’s an excellent way to promote the Fiskars® brand.
2. It provides a powerful medium for Scrapbookers to learn, swap ideas, show off their crafts and build friendships. These things lead to loyal customers!

Two Columns

One more thing I wanted to share with you from Joe’s presentation was an exercise he had all of us perform. Each of us had to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. In the left hand column, we wrote down 3 or 4 of our favorite brands. In the right column, we wrote what we loved about those brands and what draws us to them. After a time of sharing, Joe told us to fold the paper in half and ask ourselves, “Does this list of things I love about these companies describe my company?” It was a great exercise!

I could go on and on about Joe and Brains on Fire®, but the best thing I can do is point you to their blog. It’s an excellent source for anyone in business!

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This is not an exhaustive list of subjects speakers should watch out for by any means. It’s just a few things I’ve been thinking about lately after watching a speaker slip up at a recent event.

Remember Who’s Running the Meeting

A good friend of mine was invited to speak to a group of local businessmen. Jeff, the leader of the group and also a friend of mine, asked if I’d like to come. I said sure. We met at the Golden Corral in Spartanburg.

When everyone got there, they went and got their food and sat down to eat. Part way into the meal (and just before the leader stood up) my friend blurts out, “So Jeff, how about we all introduce ourselves before I start my talk.” You could see Jeff seethe for just a moment before he politely said, “We’ll get to that in just a moment.” This should be obvious, but when you are “invited” to speak, wait to be introduced before you take the floor.

Don’t Pat Yourself on the Back Too Much

One of my main jobs is training sharpeners. I’m not the only person who does this in the states, but as you can imagine we are few and far between. I put together a show once for a large group of professional sharpeners in Richmond Virginia. One of my speakers, a very well known sharpener and excellent trainer, talked about all the sharpening awards he’d won in the past as he started his presentation. He even when so far as to say, “I may even be the most accredited sharpener in the world.”

As soon as these words left his mouth one of the attendees grabbed me and pulled me out into the hall. He said, “Did you hear what he just said? He said he’s the best sharpener in the world!” I said, “No he didn’t,” and then repeated what he said, but it was too late, he had already lost that sharpeners attention. How many more people did he loose in that audience with that one statement? Choose your words wisely.

Don’t Be Stupid Like Me

Trust me, I’m no better! I had a similar foot in mouth incident to the one the sharpener in the last example had. I was asked to speak at a NASA Convention in Memphis. (The National Appliance Service Association, not the real NASA!) I had teamed up with another trainer friend of mine and we were each going to speak about our products for 30 minutes. Long story short, my friend lost track of time and spoke for fifty minutes. I was hot, but condensed my presentation into the five minutes we had let after I set up my equipment. Unfortunately, I was rather impressed with myself that I was able to pull the presentation off despite the lack of time. So when I finished speaking I foolishly said, “Give me a hand, I did a great job.” As soon as I said that, I heard an older gentleman in the front row say, “Arrogant, ” as he shook his head.

That made a big impression on me! I’ve strived to walk that fine line between confidence and arrogance ever since. Hopefully I’ve avoided stepping over that line more times than not.

You Only Get One Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Don’t make the leader mad! Don’t put yourself on a pedestal and make your audience feel “beneath” you, and certainly don’t do like I did! You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Once you lose your audience it’s over. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

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These past few weeks, when I’ve had the time, I’ve been refreshing myself on presenting; one of my favorite subjects. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post titled, It’s Not About the Slides. It focused mainly on what not to do when presenting; particularly when it comes to presenting with Power Point. Today I came across a great YouTube video of Garr Reynolds teaching a presentation class at Google on Six Pixels of Separation. It’s long (just over an hour), but it is packed with great information.

One of my favorite points Garr made was if we open our eyes, we’ll see great examples of slides (or marketing, or color schemes and so on) all around us. Look at bill board ads, magazine ads, signs in shops and restaurants. The examples are many! When you see good examples of advertising, take a moment and make note of it. Write it down or take a picture if you have a camera on your cell phone, then build a file. These examples will prove invaluable when you design that next ad or presentation.

When you get a chance, take some time and watch Garr’s presentation. He goes over many of the points in his book, Presentation Zen. Just remember, it’s long!

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This is exciting! I get to combine three if my favorite things in one post. They are:

1. Public Speaking
2. Sir Ken Robinson
3. The book: Presentation Zen

I am one of those weird people that actually likes to speak publicly. I’ve spent a lot of time studying public speaking and one of my favorite speakers is Sir Ken Robinson. His ideas on education and creativity fall right in line with mine and he is just fun to listen to.

The Presentation Zen Blog is one of the blogs I follow, and the other day Garr Reynolds wrote a post about Sir Ken Robinson. It was based on a podcast he had heard, during which, Mr. Robinson talked about public speaking. Garr included a link to the podcast in his post, but the audio quality is quite poor. What Garr took the time to do though was write a summery of what Mr. Robinson said. I want you to go take a look. They are important points anyone interested in public speaking should read and consider.

PS – Garr Reynolds’ book is the best I’ve found on the proper use of power point and building presentations! Be sure to take some time and watch the video of Sir Ken Robinson speaking at TED in Garr’s post. You’ll see why I love his speaking style!

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