Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do you suffer from major 'goal-itis'?

Distributing and marketing expertise is a challenge. Often you go looking for business in all the wrong places.

The market you are looking for is closer than you think!

Winston Marsh, a Thought Leader on marketing, has a great saying which he repeats often; "There is more business 5 minutes from where you live than you could ever need". And yet we all travel around looking for business in far off places.

I think this is true not only of business, but also ideas. Your next great idea is 5 degrees off what you are currently doing. We go through this convoluted process of identifying target markets and creating new ideas, when a slight adjustment in what you are currently doing may be all that's required.

Here are some examples:

  • You are a chiropractor who wants to be a public speaker. Start offering bi-monthly seminars to existing patients and friends. Plus, offer an annual membership for the 6 seminars rather than individual tickets.
  • You are a business coach who wants to leverage the one-on-one sessions so you can make more money. How about setting up a quarterly catch up? As people move on from one-on-one they can join a 90-day group forum - kind of like a catch-up club. This gives you client continuity and becomes a fabulous marketing tool to invite potential new clients to.

So, why don't we do this more?

Maybe 1: We don't find the above suggestions as exciting as something far off.

Maybe 2: We can't really procrastinate on any idea as easy to implement as the above two examples. We like to create bigger ones so we can claim to be working towards our goals but not actually having to realise any of them. (A bit dark I know, but it's amazing how clever we are.)

What do you think? Why don't we act on the easy ideas that sit in front of us?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are you an inspiring speaker or simply presenting?

For me, there is nothing quite as powerful as someone with an idea to share and the ability to share it. This is Thought Leadership and has been my obsession for 30 odd years. I believe that the tools to express your Thought Leadership are public speaking skills, the art of oration and the science of influence. The ability to get up in front of a group of people and share an idea in a way that is engaging, relevant and meaningful.

There are countless books on public speaking and they all talk about dramatic pause, or body language or share techniques for structuring and preparing a speech. At first this abundance of books on the topic of public speaking made me a little reluctant to write yet another one. So I started reading those I could lay my hands on and noticed something common to them all. They were written from a fear management perspective and offered templates and techniques for just getting by when you speak in public. It seemed to me they have been written for people who plan to speak once in their life for 15 minutes and never again. They seem to be coloured by the brush of ‘just get out of this without embarrassing yourself and we have succeeded.'

What has been fundamentally missing for me in all the work so far on public speaking and presentation skills was the ‘Inspired' approach. The challenge to step up and be truly world class. To be extraordinary, to be so damn good at speaking in public that you are invited, seduced and yes, maybe even paid to share your thoughts. Can you imagine that? What would you need to know to be able to do this ‘thing' called public speaking so brilliantly?

Well, before we get into that let me lift the game, raise the stakes and up the anti! (you can tell I've been a motivational speaker for a touch too long.) Let me suggest a bunch of reasons (seven) why speaking in public is inspirational and something you need to get very good at very quickly:

1. It is the new leadership imperative.
Followers require so much of their leaders. The post industrial age, hierarchical, authoritative leadership styles make way for empowered, flat organisations whose competitive advantage lies in their culture and great cultures are run by inspired leaders.
2. It is the ultimate personal development vehicle.
There is something phenomenally challenging about speaking in public. There is nowhere to hide, what you don't say says more than what you do and people form judgements very quickly about who you are and what you are saying. The more you develop YOU as a person, the more effective you are as a speaker.
3. It is leveraged influence.
One on one listening is great, but not easy to do at scale. If you are building a fast growth movement or organisation you need to quickly get everyone on the same page. Speaking in public is one of the truest ways to do this.
4. It is a new media.
News sources are biased. We don't trust the paper or TV to let us know what's going on, we trust the person in front of us. Speaking to large audiences is the new media. Unedited videos on say, You Tube, are now extending the reach, and it's the whole speech not just edited highlights on the six o'clock news.
5. It is a certainty filter.
Managing what you know to be true versus what you think might be true is hard to do well when you are only thinking about it. Speaking it out loud forces you to really consider what is true for you and what is just imagined. Speaking is the ultimate ‘light of day' test for your ideas. The minute you say something out loud to a crowd that rings untrue, you know with absolute certainty that it is not right. Of course, the positive opposite is also true.
6. It creates transformational moments.
Turning points in life both for you and those around you are often defined by the small acts of courage and moments of inspiration. Standing up for what you believe and putting it out there and open to ridicule is courageous. And when you do it often, breathes a little life into those who listen to lift, to elevate their perspective or shift their consciousness.
7. There is magic in a live shared experience.
Listening to your favourite artist on a CD or MP3 player is great, seeing them live at the stadium is something else. Public speaking is the show, you don't get the same experience reading the speech as hearing it and hearing it live versus recorded is another level again.

So, if you were not nervous about speaking in public before, you just might be now!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are you thinking of flowers today?

If content is the detail of your topic, context is the diagram of what you say.

If you represent all your ideas contextually, you’ll be able to say more in less time, avoid confrontation and increase engagement.

Communicating an idea is like arranging flowers in a vase. Once you have a great vase that fits your environment, you can change and arrange the flowers to suit the vase.

The vase is the context of your message – the flowers are the content. Content needs to be refreshed and rearranged. Context rarely changes.

Here are some quick and easy points to remember to help people navigate your line of thought.

1. Make your point and set the direction.
Detail is necessary at some level; not when you have little time and a lot to say. Revealing your ideas from a broad framework first gives people a map to your line of thought – which engages them from the start.

2. Appeal to the creative right brain types with a metaphor.
Metaphors are object and activity based and can be sourced from real life and everyday examples. Some examples include instruments, household objects, hobbies, sports and environments. Compasses, vases and maps are three common examples.

3. Appeal to the logical left brain types with a model.
A model is geometric in nature and consists of squares, lines, circles, triangles, pentagons, graphs and every variation and combination of the same.

4. Back up your ideas with aligned content.
Once you get engagement on the big picture, you can begin to present your stuff so it supports the established framework. Start broad and then go to detail.

I hope I’ve given you something more to think about than flowers on this Valentines Day!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bank Your Ideas!

Bank your ideas!

Have you ever been impressed by an individuals ability to get up and speak off the cuff, with a moments notice and be lucid, logical and make an impact?

They don’t just do this, there is some trickery at work! The seemingly spontaneous comment is actually well planned, crafted and built in advance for just such a moment.

So, what's the fix?

You need an index of ideas; a bank of thoughts or modules of thought that can be accessed in a moment and instantly customised to an environment or audience.

It is ironic, but the key to spontaneity lies in advance planning and preparation.

Use the following 5 steps when trying to refine what you know.

  • Start with a mind map of all the ideas you have around the point.
  • Come up with a short, sharp slogan that introduces the idea. This becomes the PART A of your point.
  • Review your mind map again and identify what of the related ideas are actually separate points and put them aside so you can work them through this same process later.
  • With the remaining ideas see if there are obvious relationships between words.
  • These relationships are then put into a sentence and become the PART B of your point; the explanatory sentence.