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You Were Made to Be Courageous

The alarm went off at 6:30AM Eastern time this morning, but I didn’t need it because the unmistakable aroma of coffee wafted into my room, where I luxuriated in a cloud of fluffy covers and down pillows, waking me gently, reminding me, I’m away from home, in a place where anticipation and excitement for learning and connection awaited a few floors below.

When I headed into the conference room, I found my seat at the back of the room, with the other speakers and faculty presenters who had ventured into the room. This morning I had the pleasure of sitting back and enjoying the opening keynote speaker.

As he was speaking, one thing he said resonated with me and inspired this post. And it was something he said in passing.

Side note:
That’s the thing about being a speaker:

YOU might think your topic is one thing, but your audience members will take away all kinds of cool messages you didn’t even realize were going to be important to someone!

Back to what inspired me… the speaker talked about how when we are born, we are born with courage, which reminded me of the title of the Casting Crowns song, “You Were Made to Be Courageous.” You can enjoy the video and beautiful message below.

Too many people are hiding their genius and the messages they have inside them. And it’s so sad because the truth is you were made to be brave, strong, powerful and courageous. STOP DOING THAT!

If you’re not sure what your genius is, one of my colleagues and best friends, Tony Laidig, author of 21 Ways to Skyrocket Your Creativity, and I are teaming up to teach a brand new course called, “Your Genius Factor.” We’ll we showing you how to find your message, and when you do you’ll feel your courage because you’ll be so excited you won’t want to keep it inside. That’s when I’ll come in and share how to get that message out to the world.

Check out the course and join us. Find your genius. Feel your courage. And get your message out to the people who need you.

 

 

 

 

Not Everything Is About Money or What You Charge

HD Cinamatic Wedding Videographer Videography Video Production AustinI had an interesting experience today.

I’m headed to speak at an event where one of the other speakers hired a videographer to record her. Very smart.

That videographer offered to record each individual speaker while he was going to be there anyway. Also very smart.

Because I’m always up for more video of me on stage, I called him to find out the scoop. I really only need 3-4 minutes of footage and the opening would be just fine. But he insisted that he has to record the entire 45 minutes to get that 3-4 minutes and then edit it and deliver it on DVD. Ok. Whatever.

Then I asked him how much it’d be. $100. Beyond reasonable. I immediately said thank you and I’d get back to him if I wanted him. That’s when he made a mistake, I think, that too many of us tend to make.

Because we were talking about money, he presumed that I wasn’t ready to hire him on the spot because the price was too high (really?!). He shot back sounding as if I’d offended him, “Well, how much did you think it’d be for a video and editing?” I replied that his rate was very fair and I just needed to decide if I wanted him to do the recording.

What I really needed to do was check with my regular videographer and great friend to be sure he wouldn’t feel slighted that I had someone else do the work that he usually does for me. I was pretty sure that my friend would be fine with it because he wasn’t going to that event, but I take care of my relationships and wanted to double check before saying yes. Plus, unless there is some incentive to saying yes on the spot, I always wait a little while before making a decision – to be sure that’s what I really wanted.

I think many of us when discussing our pricing with potential clients fall into that trap of thinking any hesitation is because our prices are too high.

In my opinion, that tends to be from a lack of confidence in your skills, abilities and deliverables. If you *know* for sure your products or services or speeches will be AMAZING and those you serve will LOVE them and their lives will be improved in some small (or large) way by investing in you, then charging what you think that is worth to receive that product or service is fair. It’s called doing business and making a living. And you deserve that.

The better way to handle any conversation in selling is to keep asking questions. That videographer could have asked, “What’s holding you back from saying yes while we’re on the phone now?” And I would have told him. But he immediately jumped to the conclusion that I thought his price was too high and became defensive and almost insulted me with his tone and the way he asked the question (had I taken insult, which I don’t because I know it’s not about me :-) ). It’s an easy, knee-jerk response. But I didn’t know him from anyone… there could have been 100 different reasons why I wasn’t ready to say yes then and there. Maybe I wanted to see if I could find some of his work online to make sure I’d be getting decent quality audio and video. Maybe I didn’t want it delivered by DVD (which in my experience has always been a hassle to deal with). Maybe I just needed to take a few minutes to think about what I might do with the extra footage. He could have helped with any of those potential questions had he asked.

In the end, my amazing regular videographer is fine with seeing me on video that he didn’t take and I was able to email this new service provider and let him know the situation and hire him. Plus when I see him I’ll be able to start the relationship again in person so he doesn’t feel like I was slighting him for $100.

Look for new footage soon!

And I’d love to hear in the comments what you do when a potential client is hesitant to say yes. Do you assume it’s about money? Do you have a set of questions to ask? Please share!

 

[ECM Client Feature]: Claudette Chenevert: Be Consistent

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Claudette Chenevert knows what it’s like to be a stepmom.  In 1990, through a dating agency, Claudette met the man of her dreams. But he wasn’t alone. He came with two young daughters. After a few months, they realized that this wasn’t going to be easy when all they did was argue about how to raise the kids, dealing with exes and not fitting in the new family.

They nearly didn’t make it because they didn’t understand what made their family different from “traditional households.” No one could help and advice given often didn’t fit their new home.

After years of research and education, Claudette learned what changes she need to make in order to create a more cohesive family. They could finally breathe.

Realizing she wasn’t the only one going through the same issues, Claudette created programs that transform stepfamilies from Surviving to THRIVING, one step at a time.

Please describe your business product or service in 100 words or less:

I provide coaching services to women who find themselves married to a man with children and is challenged by understanding what to do. I provide both group and one-on-one programs that give clients a sense of purpose and direction as well as strategies to create the kind of family they are looking for. The process involves looking at the family, the couple and the individual to create a more holistic approach to relationships. By the end of the process, the women regain confidence, self-awareness and hope for the people she first met and fell in love with.

How long have you been in your current business?:

I’ve been working with stepmoms since 2006, creating small miracles in these women’s lives and families.

Who is your ideal customer or client:

My ideal client is the career woman who met the man of her dreams along with his kids and is wondering how she’s going to manage becoming an instant mom without losing her identity or sanity.

What methods of communication have worked best for you to reach new customers or clients and why?:

Facebook and Twitter have been very good to me as ways to connect with women. I will often answer questions, providing great tips to help them move forward. I’ve recently added Google+. We will see how that is going but so far, I am getting good responses to my posts there also.

I do weekly Blog Talk Radio Shows with guest and address some of the concerns step families face. It’s an indirect way of interacting with people and have them get to know me a bit more.

Recently, I’ve incorporated video in the form of Google Hangout where a colleague and myself get together for 10 to 15 minutes and talk about families and some of the issues they face. This provides a deeper level of interaction where my audience gets to see me “live”, see more of my personality.

I’ve started to do a bit more public speaking and plan to increase this in the future. In my opinion, this is probably the best way to directly engage with my audience as I can get instant feedback from them and respond accordingly.

What methods of communication do you use to continue to stay connected with your current and past customers or clients and why?:

Apart from sending my clients a monthly newsletter with great tips and ideas on how to stay positively engaged with their families, I post a lot of great information with my followers on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

What’s your one best tip about effective communication in business?

Be consistent with your method, whatever you decide to do. The other advice I’d give is to keep it brief. Everyone is bombarded with an overload of information, so if you keep your message succinct and under 10 to 15 minutes for video and a few paragraphs for posts, you’re more likely to have people hear your message.

What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned about speaking and/or communication from Felicia, and from which product, service or experience?

What I’ve learned from Felicia was the importance of having a Signature Talk. I can’t stress how having a core message and understanding who you are talking to and incorporating that into your Signature talk will make all the difference in people wanting you to talk to their group.

Discover more about Claudette Chenevert at stepmomcoach.com.

Pancakes and Profits: Speaking at a Leads Group

speaking at a leads groupMost Thursday mornings since August 2006, I’ve attended a weekly leads group called Leading the Way. It’s at The Pancake Cafe restaurant and I just love to go. Yes, it’s a challenge to get up earlier and make sure the girls are taken care of for school. And truth be told, although I’m a morning person for the most part, I do NOT spring up out of bed the moment my alarm goes off. Getting to an 8:00 AM meeting on time means waking up about an hour earlier than usual for me. Yawn.

Driving in rush hour traffic is never fun either, although I’ve worked out a route that avoids any back-ups.  As I drive to the once-a-week meeting, I am always grateful for the other four days of the week and the usual 30-second commute to my home office or the sunny sofa in my living room. I say a prayer of thanks for that not-so-small blessing to be able to work from home each time I have to get in the car during rush hour.

Once I’m there, however, the room is always filled with an energy and air of friendliness, welcoming and anticipation. Weekly attendance is not mandatory (although there is a three strikes in a row and you’re out rule), so it’s never the same exact group twice. Occasionally people move away or leave the group and other times we have visitors and new members join, so sometimes there are new faces to greet.

As we all settle into our seats, Donna, our always excellent server, takes each person’s breakfast order. Eggs and toast for some, oatmeal or fruit for others, and coffee or tea only for others still. Donna always remembers to bring me an extra large glass of water with a lemon in it. And she knows my favorite usual breakfast is fruit crepes.

I have a policy when I go out to restaurants: I always try to order something I wouldn’t usually make at home. The fact that I’ve been cooking gourmet foods at home since I was about 15 years old creates a bit of a problem for that policy to be truly enforced. There aren’t many foods I haven’t tried making in my kitchen. I didn’t say I’m great at all of them… (pie crust comes to mind and my wonderful mother-in-law will get me whipped into shape at some point), but I’ll try anything! So that, and given that my sister gave me a crepe pan last year for Christmas, might normally take these off as possibilities from the menu for me. But I love them!

Crepes bring me back to the time I lived in Paris for a semester study abroad program back in college. Crepes are the warm comfort food I could pick up on my way home from class at the Sorbonne and eat as I waited for my Metro to arrive in the chilly, damp autumn air. I can still taste the crunchy edges, sweet, melted Nutella and warm banana filling. That was before you could find Nutella here in the States at every grocery store, so it was an exotic treat back in 1990. Crepes make me happy.

And now crepes have become part of another story in my life. The story of me, the professional, meeting with colleagues, customers, and friends to talk about business and life.

Because I’ve traveled coast-to-coast for speaking engagements, have people all over the world attend my webinars and teleclasses, and have worked with private clients from Europe to Canada to Australia to the UK and more, people always ask me why I go to this little local meeting so faithfully. The truth is there are a lot of valid business reasons for me to attend. I’ve worked with a majority of the people in the group either buying their services or being a service provider to them doing communication and speech strategy. But there are other benefits like:

  • Getting real life weekly feedback on tag lines and messages
  • Having a microcosm of my ideal clients in one room: solo business professionals
  • In person, face-to-face relationships, friendships and support – this makes what could be a lonely at home work environment less lonely
  • Having a chance to serve from the leads group stage, providing tips and suggestions to the people in the room. This has resulted in a group member getting offered a dream job with double the salary, lots more business for many, and an understanding of communicating in a variety of ways online & off.
  • And did I mention the crepes?

If you’re not meeting with a regular group of people to help you advance your profession and theirs, you’re missing out! If you are, I’d love to know what your group is all about in the comments below.

Public Speaking on Video: To Script or Not to Script, That Is the Question

Recently a colleague of mine, Lon Naylor, contacted me about coming and teaching a free webinar to my subscribers. Lon was on the development team at Microsoft responsible for actually creating Powerpoint. I’ve been through his trainings and he is the real deal; of course I jumped at the opportunity to present my community with awesome content.

Normally when I do a phone call with a colleague, they send me some bullet points about their talk to share with you, maybe put a picture of me on their website and provide a link so you can register. That’s pretty standard and works well. But that’s NOT what Lon did.You’d expect a guy who is a master at coming up with innovative and creative ideas to do things differently. And wow–did he ever!ScriptAfter we scheduled his appearance, the next thing he did was send me a script. Now I had an idea that the audio I recorded from that script was going to be set to a video because that’s what Lon does, but I had no idea what the end result would be. And it turned out to be a riot!

Lon still laughs with me about the audio I gave him because I made a few small “tweaks”, shall we say, to his script. You see, Lon hangs out in the world of “internet marketers” where they use words like “crush the competition” and “create killer” such and suches. But as you may have guessed, I’m not a killer, crusher kinda gal. So when Lon sent me a script with the word “killer” in it, I made a couple changes.

Because I had a script, I was able to get my recording done in one take, on the fly – literally on a Monday morning as I was rushing to get the kids out the door. I said, “Everybody be quiet for 2 minutes. Mommy has to make a recording!”

Then I sent Lon the .mp3 and was done. What he did with it was such fun! I have never received so many positive comments about an invitation in my 5 years online. You can see that here.

As a speech consultant and coach, I often get asked if business owners, experts and entrepreneurs using video in their marketing should write a script. As I was preparing a presentation about this very topic, I was reminded of my experience with Lon. As a result, I came up with a graphic explanation of how, when and why you should use a script and when you don’t need to bother.

It boils down to this: The more “serious” the commitment to your call to action, the more scripted your videos should be. Here are the three levels from the graphic:

No-Low Commitment: If you are using a video on YouTube for example and the most you’re asking is for your viewers to visit a website by clicking a link, no script needed.

Low-Medium Commitment: If you’re using a video on your landing page asking for your visitor to give you their name and email address, there’s some commitment in that. They know you’ll be starting a relationship and emailing them. So you need to have your video a bit more scripted, but it’s ok to make some changes as you go along (that’s what I did with Lon’s script).

Medium-High Commitment: If you’re using video on a sales page that is designed to ask your visitor to make a financial investment (like giving you money for your product or service), then you need a script that ensures you explain why they should do that, share specific benefits, and pay close attention to your language. Write and revise this script until it’s just right to speak to your ideal audience. And don’t make any changes along the way.

With the popularity of marketing your business with online video booming having this guide should help release you from your worries about having to write a script for every video you do.

How to Speak to Your Audience No Matter Where They Are

In 1962, communication researcher Marshall McLuhan began to popularize the term “global village.” At the time, he was talking about the implications of the “modern” mass media and technology, such as televisions and telephones, for creating the kind of world where connecting with other people and cultures around the globe was possible. All that then allowed the average person sitting in their homes to communicate with people no matter where they are and to see how they live through the images on the TV right in their homes.

Global VillageFast forward to today when we now can take the global village with us on our smart phones, tablet devices, and few well-selected apps, and suddenly any expert or entrepreneur has the capability of reaching out to the world.

Pretty exciting stuff!

In fact, what’s most exciting for folks like us is that if you want to speak, you can easily be in touch with your market. Using video online you can create a feeling of intimacy of being face-to-face while never leaving your own home or office.

So now that you know you can reach your audience ANYWHERE what would you say and how would you say it?

One of the best and easiest ways is with video. Here are just a few of the ways you can use a simple yet powerful way to connect that is just like you face-to-face over a cup of coffee with your viewers:

1. Instructional/Promotional Videos on Free Sharing Sites: Think YouTube. Be careful here. The best uses of videos on sites like YouTube, Viddler and Vimeo, just to name a few is to entertain or provide useful info (or both!). Record a series of videos that are a glossary of terms your market needs to know or one video per frequently asked question. Here’s an example of public speaking tip I put up on YouTube.

2. Welcome Video on Your Website: If you have a more brochure-style website you can use a quick video to welcome visitors and telling them about your site and what you’d like them to do while they are visiting. See the example of how I do this on http://FeliciaSlattery.com.

3. Squeeze Page AKA Opt-In Video Invitation: As you’re building your community of subscribers, record a quick personal invitation to sign up to receive a free report, e-course, white paper, or ….

4. …Video Training Series: After a new subscriber opts in, you could provide a longer video training with some greater details in it.

5. Testimonial Video: When you are thrilled with a product or service or even an ezine, ahem (hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge nudge…), you could record a video to let others know about your good experience, especially if it relates in some way to what you do for others. It shows you’re keeping up-to-date in your field and working to better yourself, just like you’re likely encouraging your clients and prospects to do as well. People are more likely to buy from you or connect with you when they see you modeling the same behavior. Put these videos on your blog, Facebook, or YouTube (or all three!).

You can see many of the various types of talking head videos and others I have made on my YouTube Channel. None of them are perfect, but they are all out there working for me & my business.

I would love to hear from you. What are some creative ways that you have used to reach your audience? Please share in the comments!

President Obama’s American Jobs Act Speech to Congress: Speech Analysis for Speakers

Obama Jobs speech analysis for speakers

Note the split screen with the opening Powerpoint slide on the right of the screen. This was not aired on TV, but was simulcast and could be seen on YouTube immediately following the speech.

I just watched President Obama’s American Jobs Act Speech he made to the US Congress. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know I do not comment on political aspects of a speech, but what we as professional speakers and business speakers can learn about the style and delivery.

 

As I watched the President within the first 3 minutes it was clear, the president had but one main and clear message to his primary audience– members of the United States Congress. His message: “Pass this bill right now.”

Speaking highlights:

  • “The millions of Americans….” Within the first one minute of his speech at the 39-second mark, President Obama presented a well-rehearsed expression of emotion for the people who need jobs and were watching to see what the president was going to do to help. Although his primary audience was the people in front of him, the US members of congress, his secondary audience — and not secondary by much– was the “millions of Americans” watching his speech from their homes. It was obvious the President knew he was speaking to more than just the people in the room.

What Business Speakers Can Learn & Implement: Make sure you are aware of your various audiences. In any one audience you’ll have people who want to hear your content and learn from you, but you’ll also have the meeting planner who invited you to come speak, potential other meeting planners watching to see if you’d be a good fit for their audiences (or departments or staff), and possibly even potential consulting prospects watching to see if what you present might be of value to them enough to want to hire you as a consultant.

  • Established the Pain Points for the Audience: Obama talked about how historically if Americans worked hard and remained loyal to their companies they would be rewarded with decent salaries and good benefits, but that has all changed now. How for decades we Americans have watched that confidence erode and blamed who many of us “regular folks” put blame on come election time, the politicians in Washington. He asked “the question is in an ongoing national crisis can we stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy?” That is the sentiment of pain from both sides of the political aisle and the cry of Americans who are out of work, underemployed, and dealing with the negative consequences of a prolonged recession and down economy.

What Business Speakers Can Learn & Implement: Your audience needs to know you understand their pain and you get them. They must know that you are fully aware of what they are going through and can articulate their current struggle. No matter if you speak about how to set up an accounting system or how to experience more joy in your life, you’ve got to meet the audience where they are now and show them you get what they are going through so you can then move forward and present your solutions, formulas, steps, and ideas.  They will listen when they feel you get them.

  • “You Should Pass This Jobs Bill Right Away.” Starting at minute 3:12 the President began his solid messaging: urging the Congress to pass his bill. Exactly 14 times during a 10-minute period of his speech he repeated the same message over and again. “Pass this jobs bill right away.” To emphasize why he also used repetition – this bill will bring “more jobs, more jobs, more jobs, more jobs…” 4 times in 15 seconds.

What Business Speakers Can Learn & Implement: What part of your message is most important for your audience to remember, use and implement? Repeat it over and again so there is no doubt in your audience’s minds what they should do after your speech ends. Be clear. Be specific. And use the same language.

  • YouTube Video Posted with Key Points Next to Speech: As you can see in the image with this post, shown with the original speech simulcast was a split screen image of the President on the left side of the screen and on the opposite side we could see the presentation of statistics, quotations from supporting experts, quotations of what the president said word for word, details of his plan, and more. His staff used a visual aid to support his main points during his speech and the technology offered through the use of video to have the same speech instantly available on YouTube along with the visual aid content. In case you did not see this in action, here it is now with the speech in its entirety:

What Business Speakers Can Learn & Implement: Make any visual aids you use completely compliment your speech. There is no need to write word for word everything you’re saying on your Powerpoint slides. Use the slides to emphasize your points, allowing your audience to read the slides on their own. Keep them brief. Further, USE VIDEO to support your message. Have your message available for your audiences to watch again after your speech ends. Provide ways for your audience to keep engaged with you using the technology available to you – which incidentally is the same technology available to the office of the president of the United States of America. That’s pretty cool stuff!

Now it’s your turn– without getting political, what do you think the President did that was effective or ineffective with his speech delivery and style and what can the rest of us business speakers learn from it?

A Tale of 2 Speeches

It was like sitting in a sauna with 250 other people except with no pool or other way to escape the heat.

Am I talking about a tropical vacation destination? Hardly. I’m talking about my daughters’ school where there is no air conditioning and despite the calendar switching to September, summer decided to hang on with a vengeance with a near 100-degree day.

Last night my daughters’ school held the annual open house and it was HOT.

public speechThere we were: parents, teachers, and assistants, along with the one administrator, our new principal, all sitting on those gawd-awful metal chairs with parents eager to jump up and go visit our kids’ classrooms. And we were HOT.

The price of admission to meet our kids’ teachers and check out their daytime home away from home? Sitting through the speeches. Did I mention no air conditioning?

I personally was excited about hearing what our school’s new principal had to say. He’s young, enthusiastic, and has tons of exuberance. More importantly, over the summer within his first couple weeks of work, he pulled our little private school out of the dark ages finally implementing much-needed technology into the fabric of our school. He started a Facebook  page as a way to connect with parents, established a standard email address system for all staff at the school (previously teachers had to supply their own personal email addresses to parents), and implemented a way for parents to see our kids’ grades and performance through a private online portal. This guy is going to be good. And I was happily anticipating his speech.

Typically at our open houses there are speeches from several folks starting with the principal and then volunteers in charge of various groups like our PTA, athletics, enrollment, etc. But this year it was just the new principal and the PTA president. So far so good. Here’s where the tale of two public speeches begins.

The principal was clearly prepared. He provided handouts, had a Powerpoint including an inspirational video, and despite the oppressive heat in the school gym, was wearing a suit and tie. He was out to make a great first impression. Here’s what else he did right:

  • He began the meeting right on time, therefore respecting the parents and everyone who had made it to the meeting on time.
  • His opening remarks were warm and engaging.
  • He then set the stage for the rest of his presentation by including a preview to his speech: sharing his plan for the rest of his talk.
  • Then he followed his plan. It was easy for us parents to follow along with his mission statement, the technological improvements for better communication, and his ideas about instilling life lessons of respect, achievement and others into our kids throughout the school year.

Even with all the great speech basics he followed it was clear he is not a professional speaker. And that’s ok. There were a few things he could have done better (isn’t that true for us all?). At one point he walked away from the microphone to point to the screen (which he didn’t need to do) and stayed away from the microphone for a bit too long making it difficult to hear. When he introduced the teachers, we parents weren’t sure if we could applaud for our kids’ teachers or not… in the past we were told to “hold applause” so this time some teachers got 1-2 claps and others later received more generous applause.  He could have said, “feel free to recognize your kids’ teacher with applause” or “in the interest of time, hold applause til the end please.” However, those were mostly minor issues and the speech overall went very well.

Then he introduced one of the Moms, who is the PTA president.

Our PTA president is a wonderful selfless woman who volunteers countless hours to help our school. She is caring and wants to build our parent community. She has worked for years with no pay, little thanks, and even less recognition. But a speaker… she is not. A few things she could have improved upon during her open house speech:

  • No preview: As parents in the audience we kinda thought she’d stand up, introduce herself and remind us that we are welcome to be in the PTA. She did. And added a LOT more with no real clue as to what it’d be or what was coming next.
  • No plan: It didn’t seem like she had any notes and was speaking off the cuff. That’s ok for a quick “Hi I’m Mrs. So-and-So and we’d love you to join us at our PTA meetings once a month the 3rd Tuesday in the cafeteria…” but she obviously had some things she wanted us to know about. And she rambled…
  • “One more thing:” She said this about 3 times before she wrapped up.  If you’re going to say “one more thing” then only one new piece of info should be presented before you conclude.
  • Lack of awareness for time: Some parents had several kids’ teachers to meet and were anxious to get going. Many of us had babysitters at home watching our kids so we could be at the open house. It was HOT. We were melting.

It’s difficult when you have to stand up in front of a room full of people and that’s not something you normally do. When you’re up there, and thoughts keep coming to you about something you know is important to your audience you want to get it out there. That why knowing and applying the basics of good public speaking is important..

Like the principal, you don’t have to be a professional. You can be passionate and knowledgeable. Both speakers at our open house certainly had those characteristics. What’s important to note in this tale of 2 speeches is how even in an less formal situation, just a few public speaking techniques applied properly can give your audience a positive experience instead of wondering when it’ll end.

Now it’s your turn: have you ever been wow’ed or surprised by a non-professional speaker at an event like a school open house? Or do you usually just wish it would end? Share your comments now!

Guest Blogger: 5 Sound Bite Mistakes

From Guest Blogger: Susan Harrow

speaking on TVIn this new age of media 3.0 the media are more often searching for experts when they have the need rather than pouring over hundreds of useless press releases that don’t have information that is relevant for their audience.

So even if you haven’t sent out a press release you could get that important call from the media – if you’ve positioned yourself correctly on the Internet.

On the flip side did you know that now with YouTube and Time Machine that what you say could haunt you forever? Once a video of you is posted or something you said shows up on the Internet there’s no way to take it back. With the advent of technology what you say will stay around in eternity and anyone can access it at any time.

This is why it makes it so important that you pay attention to what you say and how you say it.

That’s right, your reputation, your credibility, your brand, your livelihood could disappear with one bad article or one TV appearance gone south. But it doesn’t need to be so. Don’t make these five mistakes.

1. You waffle.

Many people I media train waffle. They meander off into a tangent or blurt out a thought that just came into their head in the heat of the moment, instead of carefully planning their messages and delivering them. I just saw the movie Fair Game about the Valerie Plame story. When Plame spoke to one of her contacts overseas from whom she wanted information she was firm as a mountain, soft as breeze, fluid as water. She was never harsh, but she got her way. She knew her facts so when she spoke to one of her own team members or someone whose cooperation she wanted she quietly, but firmly repeated her request.

You can do the same when someone asks you a question. You calmly assert your pre-rehearsed answer no matter how many different ways a reporter or host asks you a question to elicit a different response. Know what you want to say and stick to it. Stay firm as a mountain, soft as a breeze, fluid as water.

2. You don’t quote industry leaders or competitors.

It might sound counter-intuitive to quote your competition or other high-stature people in your field, but it shows that you are on top of what’s happening in your industry. In an Inc.com article titled 10 Tips for Giving an Important Speech by Alyssa Danigelis, anthropologist, filmmaker, and National Geographic explorer Elizabeth Lindsey said, “The more we talk about the things that matter to us, and less about our achievements, people breathe a collective sigh of relief.”

When we focus on what’s important to us in a sincere way it translates to our audience. They get it. Quote people you admire whose philosophy resonates with your own to help get your ideas across in a novel way. They often say things that give a different point of view given we are all entangled in our own perspective. It’s a way of broadening our own views and the views of our audience.

3. You don’t tell how you’ve helped people.

The most potent way to persuade people to buy or buy into you isn’t for you to talk about your achievements but to tell a story about a person you’ve helped. I recently media coached a client who said he wasn’t a good story-teller. As a doctor he preferred to site facts so he would be more authoritative. But the human warm fuzzy factor was a bit lacking. It’s important to use facts and stories to build trust. And it’s also necessary to tell stories that reveal our effectiveness human to human.

Facts show you have knowledge, and personal and professional stories illustrate your understanding – how you do what you do and how well your methods work. I suggested that he tell dramatic or funny stories about people who came into his office with an acute problem whom he helped quickly recover using both his doctorly intuition and the product he was promoting. In our next media coaching session he did this beautifully in preparation for his NPR interview. Giving your audience a story about how you helped another person is the closest thing to giving them an actual experience of you.

4. You don’t transform your wounds into wisdom.

Your hardships are the mistakes that others don’t need to make. Your wounds make you loveable. We all have an Achilles Heel. Don’t hide it, highlight it.

Comedian Craig Ferguson said, “I think that sometimes fear is god’s way of saying paying attention to this could be fun. I’ve learned from people who are braver than I that fear is necessary, failure is necessary. When I talk to people and they tell me how well they are or how well they are doing I think they’re crazy and they’re failing. And when I talk to people and who are telling me how they feel. I’m not saying that misery is more authentic than joy, I don’t mean that. But I do think that sometimes self promotion can be tiresome as I sit here talkin’ about my book. Which is available reasonably priced from all good outlets.”

What I love about Ferguson is that he doesn’t wallow in any sentiment. He moves into the wound and then moves out of it with humor. And aren’t you interested in his book just from reading this one quote? I was.

5. You’re don’t have your opinion ready.

Thought leaders have opinions. They back their opinions with evidence or piggy back them with humor to soften a tough point of view. Have your opinion ready. To become a respected thought leader spend some time every week thinking about the issues in your industry. Consider some of the trends that are happening. Formulate your thoughts. Concretize them in writing on your blog, Facebook, or in an article.

When a reporter who had interviewed me before called and asked me my opinion of the new Conan O’Brien Show I told her I hadn’t seen it, but I still had an opinion about it. We laughed. Then I transitioned from what I didn’t know into what I did know – which was Jon Stewart. I watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and think he’s hilarious, smart and self-deprecating.

Even though he’s super smart he’s not a snob about it. She really wanted my comments about the future of the talk show format so I talked about that in relation to Jon Stewart. As you can see I got a paragraph at the end of her article – without knowing a thing about the topic of her piece.

The important thing is to transition to what you know and make the connection so you are serving the reporter and her audience. Folk singer Joan Baez said, “I’ve never had a humble opinion. If you’ve got an opinion, why be humble about it?” Thought leaders aren’t afraid to voice a strong opinion.

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susan harrow Susan Harrow, CEO of http://prsecrets.com, is a top media coach, marketing strategist and author of Sell Yourself Without Selling Your Soul® (HarperCollins), The Ultimate Guide to Getting Booked on Oprah, and Get a 6-Figure Book Advance. Clients include Fortune 500 CEOs, bestselling authors and entrepreneurs who have appeared on Oprah, 60 Minutes, NPR, and in TIME, USA Today, Parade, People, O, NY Times, WSJ, and Inc.

 

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Customer Service Communicates Beyond the Brand

It all started at the airport.

Customer service and communicationThe free shuttle van to the hotel arrived and a pleasant man with white hair and a huge smile stepped out and did something no shuttle driver has ever done.

He shook my hand and introduced himself as Robert.

In that moment I knew this ride was going to be different.

Instead of selecting a seat in the back, as the only rider in the van I decided to ride “shotgun” – in the front seat next to Robert. For the next few minutes Robert kindly shared with me the recent history of the area, talked about his family and little grandchildren, and chatted with me about the weather. When I asked him to re-route to take me to a drug store to pick up an item I promised a friend, he didn’t hesitate. Then quickly took me to my destination and carried my bag all the way into the lobby where he introduced me to the front desk staff by name.

By now I was in a bit of shock and must confess I don’t recall the woman’s name who could not check me in – I had arrived at 10:45 AM hours before check in time. But she was kind enough to take my name and my bag and told me she’d do everything she could to expedite my room and check in.Dean Kirk Embassy Suites Customer Service

Less than 30 minutes later, Shannon Cherry and I were having lunch in the hotel lobby’s restaurant when the hotel manager, Dean Kirk passed by. He looked right at me and said, “Hello, Ms. Slattery. Can I get you anything or help with in any way today?”

Whoa. Back up the train. Now of course my kids think I’m a big deal because I got free tickets to see a movie premier based on my Twitter stats. The only places I get “recognized” are at events where my face was plastered all over the sales page… never by random people out in the world. But here was this hotel manager calling me by name and asking to help.

I told him my room wasn’t ready yet and he said he’d be right back. In a few short minutes he returned and said my room was now waiting for me and he’d personally help me check in when I was through with my lunch.

Natasha, the lovely young lady at the restaurant went out of her way to create a special platter of snacks and goodies for my VIP Intensive with Shannon Cherry. Natasha filled the fridge with cold drinks instead of leaving them out on a table to get warm and sneaked in a few extra brownies and bottles of water just for us – at no charge and said if we needed anything to call her and she’d be right up.

A little while later, in our VIP suite, the front desk called and told us we had a delivery, but they knew we were in a meeting and would bring it up right away. That’s when the hotel manager Dean Kirk delivered the package himself. (That’s when we had the photo op!)

Fast forward a couple days when Shannon and I wanted to take our VIPs and customers to lunch, James, another shuttle driver broke the rules for us. I explained to him we were in a hurry between sessions at the event and I HAD to get back in time because I was scheduled to speak immediately after lunch. James came back to pick us up right on time – without us having to call first, breaking the hotel’s regular rules.

My friend, this was no ordinary Embassy Suites.

When you think of superior first class service, what hotel brands come to mind? The Ritz Carlton. The W. The Four Seasons. But the Embassy Suites? Not usually. After last weekend I realized, the level of customer service of any organization can transcend the brand when the people involved are committed to providing the best experience possible to their clients, customers, or as in this case, guests.

As a small or solo business owner, you may not have any employees, but you likely have folks who represent you in some way – possibly a virtual assistant or a help desk person, and you use other products that represent you to your customers. The key is to find people and services who are as committed as you are to providing a first class experience. Here are a few lessons from the Embassy Suites at Brier Creek, Raleigh, North Carolina:

  1. Call Your Clients By Name: The most pleasing sound to any human being is the sound of his or her own name. When you use it, people feel special. In your auto-responder messages start with the person’s first name. When you answer questions on teleseminars or from stage, get the person’s name and use it as you reply.
  2. Go Above and Beyond: When your customers or clients need your help, surprise them by being available. Share with them links or advice or stay on the phone just a little bit longer – remember these are people who have paid you money. Treat them like it!
  3. Throw in a Little Extra on the House: What bonuses or cool gifts could you provide to your clients and customers? People loved being pleasantly surprised by little extras.
  4. Break the Rules for Them: Think of some of the rules you have in place like your work hours or various policies in working with clients. Then think of your best customers. If one of your best customers asked you for a favor that went against one of your policies – or didn’t ask, but you knew breaking your rule would help them… would you? You might if you were committed to excellent customer service.
  5. Be Thoughtful: People love to know you’ve been thinking about them. Maybe you don’t have to decide to leave a cold drink on the table or put it in the fridge, but what else about what you do might be a nice thought to offer your clients. Perhaps you simply leave a birthday greeting that goes beyond two words on their Facebook page or send a link to a free teleseminar you thought would be helpful for them, or introduce them to a potential client or useful vendor.

Now it’s your turn… when and where have you been wowed by amazing customer service you might not have necessarily expected? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

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