This week I had the pleasure of holding a live Community Appreciation Q/A session for members of my community. We talked for two hours and I answered questions submitted in advance as well as questions that people who were live on the call asked for.
As we were talking, I provided a number of free and low-cost resources to help experts, speakers, authors, coaches and consultants build their businesses. Many people asked if they could have that list, so I figured the easiest way was to post it here for everyone.
Some of the categories of questions I answered included:
- Speaking: Making money, Getting over fear, How to get booked to speak
- Elevator speech: what to say to be concise
- Using a VA to grow your business
- Working with JV partners
- Social media: For list-building, Facebook personal vs. business
- Podcasting resources
- Identifying your ideal customer
Based on the comments and messages I received afterwards, people were very happy with everything we discussed and what they learned. So, in order of how they were presented on the Q/A webinar, here is that resource list now:
Public Speaking Comics: www.PublicSpeakingComics.com
One of the questions was about how to get over the fear of speaking. Of course, as a former college instructor of public speaking, I have
trained many (many!) people both before I started my business and since, how to get past the fear associated with public speaking. A few years ago, I sat down with a comedian friend of mine and we came up with 15 comics that answered the question, “What’s the worst that could happen when you’re speaking?” This was one of my favorite projects and always makes me laugh. I hope it helps you have a little chuckle, too!
How Many Speeches Do You Need?: Free Infographic
As the author of the #1 Amazon best-seller 21 Ways to Make Money Speaking, another common question I receive is about how many speeches a business professional who wants to market their business with speaking or have a speaking business really needs. The answer, as it is with so many questions like this, is “it depends.” For example, I have been delivering my original Signature Speech™ about “Credibility and Cash Flow” since 2007. Just that one speech alone has helped me build thousands of relationships, get me some of my BEST clients, and of course made me more than a pretty penny for all these years. The best tip I have is start with the ONE speech. Make it EXCELLENT. Deliver it A LOT. Then decide if you’re going to make money with that one speech or if you want to make money speaking other ways, too. I shared the resource to pick up my free infographic, so folks could see all 21 ways and decide for themselves. If you’re interested in reading the book, you can find it here at Amazon.com.
Podcasting for Everyone? Nope: Free webinar rebroadcast about how to podcast.
We had several questions about podcasting. One astute community member asked if podcasting was coming back (YES! – it actually never left and continues to grow) and of it’s right for everyone. The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to your marketing. Even if you’re a speaker, podcasting may NOT be the best strategy for you. It depends on your strongest skills, your ability and desire to continue delivering quality audio content on an on-going regular basis, and the ROI you see from your podcast. Also, like all marketing, podcasting works if you do it the right way and follow a proven path to success. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can use your iPhone or iPad to create, edit and post a podcast easily. The webinar rebroadcast will show you all about it.
Be a Podcasting Guest: Join a Facebook Community for Podcasters
One alternative to hosting your own podcast is to be a guest on someone else’s podcast. You get exposure and marketing to a group of people who likely wouldn’t have heard of you any other way, and if the interviewer is a good one, you’ll get a really great recording you can use in other areas of your business. To get booked on someone else’s podcast, you’ve got to connect with podcasters, check out their shows, see if it’s a good fit and ask them if they’d be open to talking about having you be a guest.
Get Booked As a Podcast Guest or Speaker: Create a One-Sheet with These Templates
When you contact the podcast host, it helps to give them an idea of what you’d talk about. The more professional your pitch is, the more likely you are to get booked on a show. The same is true of being on stage. Put together a segment or podcast show guest proposal, provide the topic you’d cover in your interview, a few potential questions, an image of your book or you speaking on stage or just your head shot, your credibility-building bio and you’re on your way to getting booked!
No, You Don’t Need An Elevator Speech: Free Chapter and Resources to Help Say Goodbye to the Elevator Speech
My most recent #1 Amazon best-seller is Kill the Elevator Speech: Stop Selling, Start Connecting. People have LOADS of questions about this topic because everyone in business has heard we need one of these suckers if we’re going to a networking meeting, conference, trade show, or other event where we will meet people and be asked the dreaded question, “what do you do?”
The truth is, people are only going to remember 2-4 words about you anyway, the purpose of networking is to connect with other people and begin a relationship, and if you go in looking for a sale you’ll come across as the desperate salesy person no one wants to talk to.
If you don’t get out to meetings much and work primarily from home, you don’t need an elevator speech. If you’re saying more than “I’m a XYZ,” and have more than 2-4 words after that, you need to change what you say. Instead talk about what you love about your work, what lights you up, what you’re passionate about, what project you’re working on now, what your clients are up to, or what your favorite part about doing what you do is. Tell a story about your work; don’t verbally vomit marketing gibberish on someone who simply wanted to open a conversation with you but didn’t know what else to say. Get the book on Amazon or wherever fine books are sold.
Me and my big mouth. (Or maybe I should say “fast fingers” instead.)
When my friend and colleague, Kelly McCausey over at SoloSmarts.com mentioned on her Facebook page that she was issuing a challenge and tagged a few other friends, I chimed in something about how fun a throwdown is. And then she invited ME to do it, too.
Well, I can’t turn down a challenge – it’s my competitive nature. So here is the challenge, as Kelly described it:
Answer my challenge, create your own Best of the Blog list and leave a link as a comment and I promise to share it with everyone in my community (just like I’ve shared mine).Rules of Entry:
- Your post must list and link to at least 10 blog items you’ve chosen as faves.
- Tell your readers you’re answering my Challenge and link back to my post.
- Leave the link in a comment on my post.
- Give your post some social media love of course!
- Deadline: 5pm Eastern on Tuesday, December 30th
Did you catch that last line, I highlighted it in red so you wouldn’t miss it? yep. The deadline was only a few hours away.
My first thought… dang, do I even have 10 posts from this year? LOL I share a lot of content in a lot of places, but Kelly’s challenge is a reminder to me to blog even more frequently with some of that content.
So without further ado, here is my list. I decided to share categories:
First, I see part of my job as protecting my readers from scams, so I post whenever I hear about a scam against speakers:
Then there are lessons learned that speakers can use:
(No image – just a cool music video!)
If you want to be a successful speaker, but you’re not sure where to start, here are a few ideas about that and getting past the nerves!
This was a promo I wrote for a webinar that people loved because of the title and how the post pointed out the obvious that just because the advice is common, doesn’t mean it makes sense!
And then was a product I created called Speaker One-Sheet Templates where I shared a bunch of training on how to use those to get more speaking gigs and such, so even if people didn’t use my templates, they could definitely benefit from the posts.
And finally, something you should do in your business, if you haven’t done yet:
I don’t know about you, but with Thanksgiving being so close to the end of November this year, December seemed to sneak up in a hurry and now here we are less than 2 weeks until Christmas!
Much of my shopping is finished, but I still need to get things wrapped and in the mail. Speaking of getting things in the mail, this year I decided to take a break from the greeting card service I’d used for the past several years and send my greetings from home.
For years I’d done a standard Christmas letter, buying Christmas-themed paper at an office supply store (or New Year’s paper depending on how late I was!), and printing them from my own ink-jet printer at home. They were fine, but lacked spark and creativity.
So this year, I went online in search of tips for writing a Christmas newsletter for my family and came across some cool-looking graphic formats online that I loved. I sat down with my blank screen in front of me, ready to model a couple of them as best I could, when I had a “DUH! – halleluiah!” moment.
I already have beautiful graphic templates I can use for my Christmas newsletter! So I opened one of my Speaker One-Sheet Templates, chose a fun font (which took longer than anything because I have thousands of fonts and LOVE them!), and within an hour had the whole thing written, saved, and sent off to my local print shop to print black and white copies. For a grand total of $5 I had them ready to go! I’ll pop them in the envelope with one of the photo cards from the drug store and I’m all set.
If you’re a little behind, and want to create a family newsletter, grab one of the Speaker One-Sheet Templates today and you’ll be done before your head hits the pillow tonight, crossing one more thing off your list! Woo-hoo!
Here’s what I included on ours:
– A short list of the most awesome things that happened as a family for us this year and one from each family member.
– Some stats about our family, how long we’ve been married, and in our home and how old the girls are this year.
– A short memorial to my beautiful grandmother who passed away this year.
– A list of our favorite books we each read in the past year. This was difficult for some of us because we read a TON, but fun to see!
– A list of silly family awards. For example, I gave my 12-year old daughter the award for, “Most Dramatic Eye Rolling, Bed Flopping,Sarcastic Sighing, and Retreating to Her Room, for being 12 – YAY.”
I used icons and free clip art to make it more than just words and then saved the whole thing as a black and white file so the printing costs would be minimal. As nice as the red and green looked on my screen, I know these are getting tossed in the recycle bin after family and friends read it, and I have the family photo in there, anyway, so black and white is just fine.
Plus, you know, you can use your template for all kinds of other stuff, too, like getting speaking gigs ;-).
Yesterday I was at an event where I had the honor of sharing lunch with and learning from Hugh Ballou, leadership expert and CEO Space faculty member. Ballou has been written up in Forbes magazine, and is the author of several books where he shares leadership lessons from his more than 40 years as a conductor and leader of music ministry at one of the biggest mega-churches in the country.
My biggest action item take-away from his presentation is to be successful, we should run our business on our own personal guiding principles and to communicate those guiding principles clearly with everyone we work with.
Different from your mission statement, vision statement, business plan, marketing plan, or strategic plan, your guiding principles are your values, clearly defined, that drive your work. Note the short definition from BusinessDictionary.com:
“Any principles or precepts that guide an organization throughout its life in all circumstances, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, type of work, or the top management.” (my emphasis added)
Interestingly, this definition fits perfectly for small and solo business owners, experts, speakers, and consultants because we often change our goals, strategies and even sometimes the type of work we do by adding or subtracting products and services. Even if you don’t have all those other business-y pieces, Hugh Ballou asserted, when you have your guiding principles in place, and those you work with from clients and customers to joint venture partners and even vendors know what you’re about, it’s easy for them to interact with you at all levels. Ballou shares his own guiding principles for his personal life, and for his business on his website.
“The bottom line: leading without guiding principles is like trying to sail a boat without a rudder.” ~ Hugh Ballou
So keeping that in mind, here are my own guiding principles for my business as a speaker, author, and consultant:
Be Myself: In all communication, including on social media, on stage, on video, on TV, in emails, and in person, I will be who I truly am, not a stylized version of me, or some pseudo-representation of who I think people want to see. When people meet me after seeing me online or in the media, I always want their reaction to be, “You’re just like how I thought you’d be!”
Be Creative: I will look for creative and unique solutions to challenges for myself and my clients, and enjoy the creative process as it unfolds. This includes being open to the possibilities I have not yet considered.
Be Grateful: Realizing that all I have is a gift from God, I will show my gratitude and thanks for the good that comes into my business and my life.
Be Compassionate: Remembering that I have felt confused, scared, frustrated, and angry at times, I will respond with compassion when others are feeling the same as they interact with my business and online processes that sometimes, as all technologies and systems do, will fail to provide the best possible experience. I will also remind others to please be compassionate with me, as I would never intend for something to not work or go as it should and want people to enjoy their experience of working with me and purchasing from me.
Have Fun: If I’m not enjoying myself and having a good time, it’s likely others I’m interacting with are not either. I will look for the joy and fun in most situations and whenever there is a choice, I will choose to laugh.
Be Collaborative: I will find ways to work together with clients and competitors, realizing that serving the world from our own gifts and genius honors not only the people we work with, but gives glory to God for each using our gifts.
Create Win-Win-Win Situations: Unless every party in a professional relationship will benefit, I will not be involved. That means the person I’m working with has to benefit, I have to benefit, and the people we serve have to benefit. If there’s any “lose” involved, I’m out.
Connect and Create Connections: Regardless of how it may or may not benefit me, I will connect people I know to each other and to opportunities so they can serve each other and create win-win-win situations in their own businesses and lives.
Be a Lifelong Learner: Never be too smart to learn more, to improve my craft, or to discover something wonderful about my business or myself that will help me grow, expand, and move forward. Look for learning opportunities and teachable moments everywhere.
Be Inspiring and Inspired: (This one is a challenge for me, but so many have used this word to describe me, I am learning to embrace it!) – I will inspire others to do their best, be their best, and serve the most people possible using their gifts and their genius. And I will actively seek to be inspired by the brilliance and genius of others to do my best, be my best, and serve the most people possible.
That exercise took some time and in-depth thought about how I will run my business, regardless of my goals, or even the work I choose to do. I may amend these as time goes on and as I realize there is more I want to commit to, but even the Constitution of the United States gets amended every now and then.
Have you done something like this before? If not, consider doing so and then share the link to your own guiding principles in the comments below.
The response to the new Speaker One-Sheet Templates has been amazing and exciting around here. People from all over the world and speakers with all sorts of topics have been snapping up and designing their Speaker One-Sheets since I launched them just 7 days ago. You can see one of them right here —>
When folks who aren’t yet speakers see them, they wonder if they might be able to use the Speaker One-Sheet Templates for another promotional product they have been wanting to market. The answer is a resounding YES!
You see, although I originally designed these to be specifically for speakers who want to get their speech details and bio in front of meeting planners to help them get more bookings, there is no reason you couldn’t use them as just about any marketing flyer. How about these ideas:
- Artist: Showcase your art and highlight details about a current or upcoming exhibition and/or classes you teach.
- Bookkeeper: Share your best tips for keeping receipts organized and highlight your services.
- Coach: Describe your private or group coaching programs.
- Decorator: Showcase your “after” designs and talk about your services.
- Esthetician: Share photos of your before and after work or photos of your location, along with a list of your services or to market a new service offering to your existing clients.
- Financial Adviser: Spotlight the best investments now or host a lunch and learn for potential clients and use the flyer as an invitation about what they will learn.
- Group Exercise Instructor: Use any of the templates to share your upcoming class schedule, testimonials, and info about you and your studio.
- Herbalist: Create a new flyer seasonally to highlight what herbs your clients should be using to protect themselves against various ailments (winter colds, flu, allergies, etc.)
- Insurance Agent: Mail a flyer to your customers quarterly explaining new products, new regulations, and sharing success stories of clients who benefited from working with you and having your insurance.
- Jazz Musician: Print copies promoting your upcoming shows, your website, and your current CDs or mp3s and provide them to all audience members.
- Kinesiologist: Send a flyer to all current and past patients with a featured “move of the month” or spotlight various ailments that you can help improve.
- Landscape Architect: Canvas the neighborhoods where you are currently doing work promoting your services and offering a free consult while you’re still in the area.
- Marriage Counselor: Create a series of flyers that share various conflict resolution techniques and mail to past and current clients, or as a marketing tool to send to the homes in your area.
- Nutritionist: Send out monthly recipes with photos, promote various programs or services to current and past clients.
- Orthodontist: Create quick list for patients to post on the fridge of which foods are allowed and which aren’t with their new braces and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.
- Proofreader: Share your personal info, outline your proofreading services, and share a testimonial. Put on your website and send in the mail to potential clients.
- Quilter: Provide information at quilt shows on your work, accolades, and showcase photos of past quilts.
- Realtor: Quickly add a featured home for sale or announce the sale of a home in the area. Send to all homes in a neighborhood.
- Social Media Manager: Most of the templates have built-in social media icons; use yours to highlight your services or upcoming classes teaching people to use various aspects of Facebook or LinkedIn or Google+.
- Travel Agent: Feature a cruise or vacation package of the month; provide new cruisers with a checklist of essentials to bring.
- Upholsterer: Feature before and after photos of your work, mail to past customers with a special offer; give a checklist of how to care for newly upholstered furniture to all new customers.
- Virtual Assistant: Create a top 10 list of the ways a VA can save a business owner time and money, explain how to choose and VA, and share information about your services.
- Writer: Feature your latest book along with a description of it, where readers can read a free chapter, and info about you.
- X-Ray Center: Welcome new patients with a comforting note about x-rays and answer a few commonly asked questions.
- Youth Minister: Invite new members by including a flyer in your weekly bulletin that explains what youth group is about, sharing photos from past events, and inviting first-timers and their parents to an informational meeting.
- Zoologist: Create series of informational pieces for field trips of children visiting the zoo.
And there you have it. A listing of how businesses from A-Z can use the Speaker One-Sheet Templates for FAR more than promoting speaking. Yes, some of these were a stretch (if you know of any careers that start with X or Z, let me know!), but many of these I know from experience of working with the to develop their Signature Speeches™ and businesses. What other businesses can use these? I’d love to hear about yours in the comments!
When you create an online course, your purpose is to get people interested enough to sign up, right? Well… here’s a lesson I learned about that just last week that I thought I’d share with you.
It seems the language I was using for my upcoming Speaking on Video Boot Camp 2.0 program was actually turning prospective buyers off!! Who knew?
Boy was I ever wrong about that! LOL
My mastermind group was the first to point it out to me that they didn’t like the term “talking head” videos. So I went to the marketplace and asked there. And they told me in no uncertain terms it reminded them of the 1980s TV character “Max Headroom” or had other generally negative impressions.
Oh and no matter what you call them, videos where you speak directly to the camera build trust, create intimacy, and can transform your business in a way no other form of marketing other than face-to-face marketing can. See how to get started adding these videos to your business now and feel confident doing it!
Ok– so go see what I’m calling the “not talking head videos” now and let me know in the comments if you like the new term or if you have a better suggestion I’d love to hear it!!
Having written two full-length books with another under contract, a handful of ebooks, and thousands of articles and blog posts, I know what it’s like sitting with a blinking cursor in front of you on a blank screen, almost mocking you. It’s not like you don’t have ideas. It’s not like you don’t know your stuff. But golly… when it comes time to put your butt in the chair and roll up your sleeves, something can overcome even the most accomplished, brilliant expert like you.
Call it writer’s block. Call it performance anxiety. Call it procrastination. Whatever it is, if writing a book is on your list of goals for 2012, the name of what’s stopping you from reaching your goal doesn’t matter — you gotta get past it and git ‘er done!
Enter: Public speaking.
If you are an author or want to be an author, one of the easiest places to start is with the speech you’ll give to talk about your book. I call it your Signature Speech™ for Authors and it can help you do a number of things:
1. Clarify your thoughts: when you have a bunch of ideas all rumbling around in your head, for many of us it often helps to talk your ideas out. One way I’ve found to be useful is to put together a list of questions I’d want someone to ask me about my book. Then I can come up with my answers.
2. Determine the hot topics: Yes, your entire book will be filled with useful information that is important to advancing your field, helping your readers, and in general sharing a bit of yours and others’ expertise. However, there will be parts of your book that will get readers extra excited—whether that is a new development in your field, a contrary opinion you have backed up by data, or a new way of looking at or doing something. People will be talking. Putting together your speech will illuminate for you what that will be because in any speech you want to serve from the stage with details that get your audience excited about their experience of listening to you.
3. Think in user-friendly chunks: Writing an entire book can be overwhelming. But when you write a speech, typically you start with the body of the speech, which should contain from 3-5 main distinct points, presented clearly for your audience. Each main point will be chunked into sections. Your book outline can then quickly spring from those sections.
4. Determine your goal for the book: Most savvy authors know it’s not the sale of your book that will make you money. It’s what you do to capitalize on the content from your book (use the buzz word “leverage” if you like) that will bring you the greatest cash flow. When you pull back from the blinking cursor and look at your book from a 20,000 foot view as a cog in a wheel of content and opportunities for you, what details belong in the book become clearer. When you develop your speech first, you can easily see what content needs to be more fully elaborated on in your book and then further in programs, mastermind groups, and membership sites, all of which lead to more money in your pocket, in addition to being paid to deliver the speech itself!
5. Get feedback from audiences BEFORE your book is in print: Making changes in your book after it’s been published can be an expensive and daunting task (trust me… I’m writing the 2nd edition of my first book.). When you present the content of your book to live audiences you get the huge benefit of hearing their feedback on parts they liked best, parts they want to hear more about and parts they don’t care much about at all. You can deliver your speech to live audiences in person, but also think about teleseminars, webinars, being a guest on a blog radio talk show, presenting a podcast or other creative ideas to get your content in front of audiences to get that vital feedback.
If you are an author or want to be, you can pick up a free 24-minute video about getting started writing your own Signature Speech ™ for Authors at http://signaturespeechforauthors.com/.
In July 2008, I attended my first Internet marketing conference. That was my introduction to a whole new world, live and in person.
Because of events that happened at that 3-day conference in Chicago, within a couple weeks I was quickly propelled to success in the Internet marketing crowd, being interviewed on radio shows by some of the biggest name “gurus,” being promoted by others, and began speaking on stages across the country about communication and public speaking. Effective communication is a skill you need in any business and Internet marketing is certainly no different.
It was a very exciting time. Except over and over again, I kept hitting a brick wall in that marketplace. His name is Frank Kern.
Frank Kern has created a persona of himself as “laid back surfer dude done good.” He’s built a wildly successful Internet empire based on his solid concepts and content, which honestly is always good, but isn’t exactly rocket science or anything new. However, because he packages it well and is a master at selling himself, his persona, and his products, Mr. Frank Kern has become a very wealthy and successful man. Good for him.
Along with that success, over the years Kern has accepted many invitations to speak on stage to his marketplace, and has recorded dozens of talking head videos. As he should, he maintained his “surfer dude” persona while onstage or on video, typically wearing shorts, t-shirt, ruffled hair and an unkempt beard. And, even though I’ve never met the man personally, he caused all kind of headaches for ME.
As a public speaking consultant, I talk to my clients and audiences all the time about the importance of looking the part of a successful business owner and dressing to that image of success. Then here comes Frank Kern, who, dressed in whatever he wore to bed the night before and cursing at his audiences, is hugely successful with a large following.
The most savvy of business owners in his market realized all along he was dressed that way and speaking in that manner because it worked for his persona. Keeping up that image was a large part of his success, with the implicit message to others just beginning their Internet businesses, “You can do this too.” That led to an interesting phenomenon.
Thousands of 20-something young men believed they could curse and dress like slobs all the way to millionaire status success, because Frank Kern did it. Never mind that persona was completely orchestrated. Like a theme for a party or special event, Frank Kern stayed true to character and his fans ate it up.
Until last week.
Last week, Frank Kern released what he calls his State of the Internet Address. As you can see from the screen capture of the video, Frank Kern has cleaned up a lot. He’s wearing a custom-made suit. He’s trimmed his beard, cut his hair, and is sitting behind a desk in a large office. As of this writing more than 1,900 people have clicked “Like” on Facebook for the video.
In a subsequent post to his Facebook fan page, he talked about how a few people gave him some flack about the new look, but the overwhelming majority of comments were all about how pleased his audience members are to see him cleaned up and dressing the part of a wealthy and successful business owner.
Even in our “occupy movement” world, business owners want to look up to someone who is successful. And that means looking the part.
So this is a public thank you to Mr. Frank Kern. You just made my job a whole lot easier. Here’s what Frank Kern did with this video that made me smile and that you can emulate for your business communication while speaking on video:
- He dressed the part. Finally a guy who’s making millions looks like more than a surfer dude, even if only for one video.
- He used a “Talking Head” video. With all the resources at his disposal, Kern could have chosen to produce ANY kind of video and had it look and sound like Hollywood quality. In fact, he actually employed the services of an Emmy-award winning editor, but at its essence, this is a basic talking head video in a location that screams, “Professional who knows what he’s talking about. Take notice and listen.”
- He was deliberate in his communication decisions and it showed. Here’s the thing: I may not have ever met him, but I’m personal friends with one of Frank Kern’s business partners, and I can assure you, Kern’s decisions about his persona and communication have always been deliberate. But now, with the release of this video, those deliberate decisions are obvious.
So what do you think? How do you “look the part” when you speak? Do you think your appearance matters when communicating credibility?
The weather was crisp in the late afternoon hours as we headed for the choir of the bells Christmas Eve service at the beautiful small-town church in east Tennessee. As my mother-in-law guided us to a place in the crowded pews, warmly greeting friends along the way, the late afternoon sun was streaming in through the circular stained-glass windows. Children looked wide-eyed around the large building in anticipation of the joy to come over the next day.
- Stories enhance any communication situation. Remembering facts and statistics isn’t as easy for most people as it is to remember the details of a well-told story. Include them everywhere, as often as possible.
- The story should illustrate a point. You never want to leave your audience wondering what that was all about. Make a clear connection between your story and the reason for telling it.
- Emotions are important. Use language that evokes emotion. Even if you never say the word “feeling,” you can use adjectives, adverbs, and settings to set the emotional scene of any story.
- Adding little details enhances the story, but don’t sweat the exactness of it all. Maybe I got Leo the Lion when I was 8 years old or the church was in North Carolina instead of Tennessee. As long as the essence of the story remains, don’t stop yourself 15 times as you tell it trying to recall if your story happened on a Monday or a Tuesday. No one is giving a history test after your story.
- Pay attention to your nonverbal expression of the story. Speed up when you’ve reached an exciting point, slow down and lower your volume to invoke intensity, and use gestures to enhance your audience’s overall meanings.
“Ow. Ow. Ow. That can’t be good….”
For years it’s been our family’s tradition over the Labor Day weekend that my husband and I take our daughters apple-picking. Last weekend for the second year in a row we went to visit my friend and colleague Dr. Mollie Marti at her family’s apple orchard in northern Iowa.
Mollie and I always have tons to talk about – her upcoming book was a topic of conversation along with the 2nd annual Make an Impact Live event she’ll be hosting here in Chicago where I’ll be the emcee for the weekend. Finally she was sharing with me another exciting initiative she is developing and was telling me how I could be involved.
As we talked, we walked through the beautiful apple orchard on her family’s farm. As you can see from the photo it was a fabulous day. I was engrossed in the conversation while walking along when suddenly, as my right foot stepped just the wrong way onto a small uneven part of the ground, inside my body I heard a loud “crack, crack, pop!” At the same moment a wave of pain shot from my ankle and through my entire body. And thus my thought, the opening line of this article, “Ow, ow, ow… that can’t be good.”
Mollie helped me hobble over to my husband who, as a personal trainer and former football player, has seen more than his share of sprained, twisted, and generally beat up body parts. He had a quick look, we determined it probably wasn’t broken, finished up our conversations and spent several hours on the drive back home.
After we arrived home, we iced my ankle and I kept it elevated. But when I woke up yesterday morning, the swelling had increased and I couldn’t put any pressure on it at all. I called the doctor and they told me to come in for an x-ray that morning to determine if my ankle was broken or not.
Normally, I might have panicked that after taking several days off from being online that I’d have to get back to work. I had a client meeting in the morning and much work to get done during the day. But I didn’t panic and here’s why.
I have emergency contingencies in place for when the unexpected happens.
Think about that for your business… if in 5 minutes from now you suddenly had to drop what you were doing because of some minor emergency, could you? How would the work get handled? How would you contact your clients who were expecting you? Here is how I knew I didn’t need to worry:
Make Use of Available Technology: Even though I hadn’t even turned on my computer I always have my iPhone with me. As my Dad drove me to the urgent care center for my x-rays, I reached out using the technology I had set up and in place. If you don’t have a smart phone and you run a small business, this is a wise investment for a number of reasons, but especially for emergencies.
Have a Go-To Person Who Can Help: I have always worked with a number of assistants and service providers for various aspects of my business, but I like to keep one person as my primary point of contact. My lead virtual assistant knows my schedule, my clients, and the way I like things done. One quick message to her and I knew all would be well for the day.
Be Honest: One of the best things about running your own business is YOU are the boss. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to answer to people – we all have clients, vendors, and others who count on us to show up when we’re supposed to. Studies have shown that people like to feel “in the know” about those they work with. So when an emergency arises, rather than sending a cryptic, “something personal has come up can we reschedule” message, provide a few more details. When you do, you send the unwritten message that you value the relationship. You don’t have to get graphic, but share as much as you feel comfortable sharing. Then explain what you’ll do to make it up to them or how they can reschedule so you’re not endlessly leaving message after message for each other.
Social Media Works: Maybe there are other people who might want to know why you’re not returning their emails or phone messages as quickly as you would normally. When you put a message about your minor emergency on social media, other interested parties can look to see what’s happening with you. Again, no need to get graphic, but a simple report or update on your status can go a long way.
Always Double-Check: After the emergency, follow up to make sure your systems worked. In my case, my VA had NOT received my initial message, but she DID see my check in on social media so she knew I’d be away. She texted later in the day with an update of where things were and the next morning we had a brief check-in with how to mop up the rest of the details.
As for me, nothing’s broken and after keeping my foot elevated and iced on and off per doctor’s instructions all day yesterday I’m doing a lot better today. I’m wearing a brace that looks like my daughter’s soccer shin guards and the doc gave me a cane to help me up and down the stairs. Most of all I had peace of mind about my business because I knew with the systems I had in place, work would easily be handled.
What procedures do you have in place to handle minor emergencies that pop up (and they always do!)? Share them with me in the comments.