Tuesday, June 29, 2010

From Gimmicks to Signature Styles

Thought leaders need to stand out.

Bono's glasses, Seth Godin's bald head, Malcolm Gladwell's afro; are part of their brand.

How do you do this?

1. Whatever you choose to use as a signature needs to be congruent with who you are. Choosing to wear cowboy boots and a big buckle will only work if it's who you have been or who you are. Otherwise it's an affectation that's a gimmick.

2. You need to build a constellation of elements, not just one. It's when you put several small ideas together in a constellation that you get a signature style.

3. It's helpful in some way to others. Maybe in only that it helps them remember your key idea or message.

Keep thinking.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Stop! You're giving me a headache...!

Many who attend the fabulous Ted conference each year say they end up with a "TEDache". The format for presentations is approx 15-20 minutes each, with each speaker as profound as the last. It's a kind of information overload headache.

I was watching six amazing speakers live the other day, each with majorly good speeches, each speaking for 20 minutes long, and I too got a headache from the ideas.

It may be that we can only receive so many ideas in one hit, but it also got me thinking about what the presenter can do to make the pain disappear.

Here are some ideas:

1. Share the direction. A lot of the headache, I reckon, is that the audience ends up in receive only. Try to get a conversation going so you are talking with the audience, not just at it. Interaction, questions and answers or even streaming a live back-channel twitter feed can help with this.

2. Mix it up. You need to also use visual variety to your advantage. Still and moving, elegant and organic, conceptual and contextual. Insert short videos, different voices and some moving animations you narrate over.

3. The messenger is the message. Come alive and use your body to express your ideas. Animate a model with your body. Use character voices and amplify your authenticity by bringing more of your personalities to the stage.

4. Create light and shade. Bette Middler, when asked about how she does what she does said, You need to make em laugh, and make em cry. Humour, storytelling and other dramatic techniques make it easier to listen to you for longer.

You need a great message, and you also need a fabulous method. It is no longer ok to have one without the other.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The first sell is always to yourself

I've been thinking about the idea that the first sell is always to yourself.

One of my friends, Scott Brownbill is a master at helping organisational sales teams align their dialogue internally and externally with their markets key buying criteria. The more he speaks, I understand that he creates true believers. It's about conviction.

The first sale is always to yourself!

How much do you believe in what you're doing?

I know that for something to work, I have to believe that it will. (No, not just the often used Napoleon Hill stuff, it's more than that).

When you believe, you never need to sell.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thought Leaders Fix Problems

Problems exist at three levels.

1. The known problems

2. The unspoken problems

3. The unknown problems

If you want to convince me that you have something I need, then know my problems as I express them. Know the problems I won't talk about (that I do know at some level) and know the problem that I don't even know I have.

Too many experts start at number three and wonder why they scare away every opportunity.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Three Word Anchor

I was sitting with a friend the other day who wanted to stay consistent with his friends and family. Quite often under pressure and stress, we lose ourselves and forget the behavioural standards we aspire to.

I've heard it said that life is simple and it's us humans who make it complex. What I'm about to propose is hugely simple and as such, it lacks a certain elegance. We are all complex, beautiful and amazingly diverse individuals. It's our individualism that makes people so wonderful.

I sat in a branding workshop a long time ago and the presenter suggested that you should be able to boil the brand essence of a company down to three words. I wondered if this might be true of my father brand or my husband brand.

To boil a person down to three words, in some ways lessons their uniqueness. All that being said, I shared a strategy with this friend of mine and he thought it was useful.

Key idea
So, here is the activity:

Quite simply, describe yourself in three words.

As a father and husband I am Clear, Present and Practical .

My friend is Organised, Caring and Responsible .

We both wrote these down and committed to living up to and into these three words (at least).
You are more than three words and yet it's comforting to know who you are to stay on point when under pressure.

Just a thought!