Today is the 50th anniversary of JFK's Inaugural address. So this week we get to celebrate two great public speakers.
Today is the 50th anniversary of JFK's Inaugural address. So this week we get to celebrate two great public speakers.
Just wanted to send out a reminder about the Ribbon Cutting that I am having today. Here are the specifics:
Location: Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Office (corner of 8th and Phillips)
Time: 4:30 p.m.
After-party: Monks - right after the ribbon cutting
So - do you need an excuse to get out of the office early on a Wednesday and head to Monks for a beer afterward? If so, come on down!
Two years ago I wanted to have a website up where I could talk about my ideas regarding communication. I've had a lot of ideas over those past two years and it is time for another year in review.
If you want a quick run-down of my thoughts on communication, you can take the abridged version and check out last years top posts list and then check out this years.
There were a lot of issues that I looked at over the past year, but these were my favorite:
Get off line to get some perspective - and work done. - Do we all spend far too much time on-line these days? It seems that sometimes we are so focused on keeping up to date with Twitter and Facebook that it kills some of our focus. I was off-line during the day for several days in a row and I got a lot accomplished in that time.
Is President Obama Speaking Too Much? - While I do think President Obama is a great public speaker, he seems to be on TV all of the time. At a certain point, saturation can get overwhelming - causing your effectiveness to decrease. In fact, the Decker blog once again put Obama on the top 10 worst speakers in 2010.
100 Posts! What's our focus been? - This was a fun post looking at what I had been talking about with my 100 posts since I had started my blog. Using Wordle to see what I was talking about was a great way to make sure I was focusing on the right things.
Are Super Bowl Ads Worth the Cost? Maybe, but what can we learn from them? - Super Bowl ads almost always have some very memorable ads each year. Is it worth the money spent? It depends on how effective it is.
Avoid making the big mistakes - what the Minnesota Vikings can teach us about public speaking - Being from South Dakota, I am surrounded by Vikings fans and saw the devastation of the fans when they lost the NFC championship game to the Saints. However, the mistakes that the Vikings made can also teach us a thing or two about presentations
Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr. and Style. - I loved the new Sherlock Holmes movie directed by Guy Ritchie and starting Robert Downey Jr. The style that was used is a great example of how changing up a style is a good way to give some new life to an old presentation.
Educators need some new branding. - This one is a bit personal for me since I am in education and my daughter wants to be a teacher. However, I think it brings up some interesting points on what educators need to do if they are going to be respected.
I Hate Public Speaking song. - I found this song and a lot of people really seemed to like it, so I wanted to make sure to include it here as well.
Know who you are following on Twitter - don't just use Keywords. Being on Twitter, I am used to people just following you at random times. However, I got really annoyed one weekend when I was being followed by a lot of wedding people because I had posted a couple of comments about the wedding I was at - the following post was my response to those people.
Native American Day versus Columbus Day. - This is an issue that I feel strongly about. In South Dakota, we celebrate Native American Day - the other 49 states - Columbus Day. Once I learned the entire history of Columbus and his treatment of Native Americans when he reached the new world, my thoughts on this matter got even stronger. What are your thoughts?
Should Obama become the Hulk? - This relates mostly to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and how Obama was responding to it. Our body language and voice inflections tell us a lot about how we are thinking and feeling. A lot of people felt that Obama needed to be a lot angrier at BP and felt that his attitude was far too light.
Foursquare Badges Tell Stories - Which One is Another Story. - I use FourSquare and I remember the old foursquare game. The badges can tell some stories that might not be what you want to be told.
I wear an Eyepatch because of the presentations that I have seen have caused me to stab myself in the eye so I didn't have to see half of the presentation.
What caused this to happen: three things really:
1) People who put their entire speech on their slides then read it word for word
2) So many bullet points that I can only imagine that their enter button must automatically get hit every four words
3) People who talk like they clearly don't care about the speech....so why are you even talking.
That's why I wear an eyepatch, and that's why I'm hooked. Are you?
It's been a while since I gave this presentation at IgniteSD, but I wanted to share it with you all.
In this Ignite speech, I decided to not talk about communication, powerpoint or delivery. Instead, I wanted to talk about my other passion - Music! It's a bit quirky, but I hope you like it.
I have always felt that slide presentation handouts were a bad idea. Your intentions might be good, but as the saying goes, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." The idea is a good one: you want your audience to follow along. You want to make sure that they take down some notes because your information is THAT important.
However, disaster soon ensues because here is what usually happens: you hand out your presentation, and I read through it in about 2 minutes while you are still on your first slide. I then become bored with your presentation because I have already read through it. Am I a bad person for doing this? Probably, but it is what 95% of your audience is doing.
So, what to do? You want to give a presentation people will pay attention to, but you also want to give them something that will make sense when they are going through it on their own. You need to do two things:
1) Create a presentation, that as David S. Rose in Presentation Zen Design states is "completely incapable of standing by themselves." When you keep this in mind, you will hopefully avoid putting too much text and graphs in your presentation and give a presentation that people will listen to.
2) Prepare a 2nd presentation that you can leave behind AFTER you give your presentation. This 'deck' that you leave behind can include all of the important information that you covered in your speech, but you didn't have written down. It should be similar in style and structure as your delivered presentation, but with more information on it that they can look at.
The important part is that people listen to your speech - which they won't if you put everything into your presentation. It doesn't take much extra work, but it will lead to much bigger results.
The following images is an example. A client of mine wanted to explain what Querencia was. He originally had it written out word for word what he was going to say on his slide (which had a bad background color on it as well). We changed his presentation on this slide to have an image that supports what he was going to say and then created a deck that he would then handout that had the information on it. This way people would stay focused on him instead of reading the text on the screen - yet they would be able to take the deck home with them and still understand what was said.
I'm in a bit of a dilemma. I love teaching and coaching speech and debate. While I am only a half-time teacher (working on Dahle Communication Group the other half) I do really enjoy my time at school working with those kids.
Here is the dilemma: my daughter says she wants to be a teacher. I say dilemma because I am not sure that I even want her to be a teacher. I know she would be an amazing elementary teacher (which is what I think she wants to do). She has a huge heart, is very caring, helps other students now while in school and is nothing short of brilliant. I know she's only ten and will might change her mind, but she's been saying she wants to be a teacher for about 3 years now (I wanted to be a fireman when I was 7, but that's because we got to go to the fire-station in second grade).
Now why don't I want her to be a teacher? I know it sounds terrible, but I think she is too smart and too talented to be a teacher - and that is the problem! As a society we have a belief that if you are a talented smart person, you should do something besides teaching. While I don't claim to be a brilliant person, I've had several people ask me why I'm not in politics or a lawyer or something else. It is a stigma that I have heard several times: 'If you can't do, teach.' That is the problem.
Educators and education as a whole needs some new branding. We need to change the mindset of people that if you are the most talented and smartest kid in class, that you absolutely should go into teaching! Teach for America has started to do this to some degree of success. They focus on getting graduates from schools like Duke or Harvard and get graduates who usually would never think about going into education and sending them to impoverished schools or reservations and working with kids who are not exposed to highly intelligent successful kids to try and inspire them.
Mostly though, as educators, we need to show that education is so important that it should be pursued by the best and brightest. It is an issue that I am struggling with. We all want our kids to do better than we did, and I'm not sure if education is going to provide that for my daughter - especially if she teaches in South Dakota (we are 51st in the nation in teacher-pay).
How do we do this? Do educators need to have a more rigid educational background? Do we just need to start talking about it? I obviously have a clouded perspective being in education so I am curious as to your thoughts: what do you think?
Lot's of things - specifically that:
1) Most people will freak out if they have to give a presentation
2) Others will get sick (not this bad I hope)
3) Businesses are not quite sure what a Public Speaking Class can do for them
4) Most people don't think too highly of how their bosses communicate
I am quite excited about an event that is coming up on March 25th and March 26th that I have been invited to be a part of - Hook: The Presentation Conference.
Scott Schwertly at Ethos 3 is putting together what looks like an amazing conference. If you go to their website you'll see how lofty their goals are (and I say lofty, but they are definately achieveable). This is what you should expect:
Arrive. Have your mind blown. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Weep. Depart.
Sounds like a good time to me.
Keynote speakers include:
Additionally, there are going to be several presentation experts speaking as well - which include:
and as I mention before, yours truly.
I'm quite excited to be speaking with such a great group of leaders in the presentation world. If you are looking for a conference that will help you in whatever field you are in - this is one you should look at. I'm not just saying that because I'm going to be a part of it either. Besides, you get to hang out in Nashville, TN - believe me, it is much more than just country music!
I hope to see you there - if you have signed up, drop me a line and let me know what you'd like to see. I would like some information on what people are looking for before I finish up my presentation - that way you can get more out of it.
Today is election day. Go and vote. Later this month we'll take a look back at the election from a communication standpoint and evaluate what happened.
Until then - go and vote!
I wanted to post this last Monday (since it was Columbus Day in most of the U.S.), but I didn't have time. However, I wanted to still talk about it this week.
In South Dakota, we do not celebrate Columbus Day - we celebrate Native American Day. The reason for this seems simple: 10% of our population is Native American and the legislature wanted to acknowledge them instead of Columbus. However, the meaning of it goes even deeper.
When we celebrate Columbus Day, what are we celebrating? For most of us, we are taught in our schools that Columbus "discovered" America and it lead to the great migration out of Europe starting with the Jamestown group followed shortly by the Mayflower. This sounds reasonable right? Maybe not.
Communication is all about the language that we use. I've always felt that the term 'Indian' was incorrect when talking about the native people of the Americas. They are not Indian, people from the country of India are Indian. However, because of Columbus and the people that followed, our history books have labeled the indigious people of the Americas as 'Indian.' In fact, here in South Dakota, it is politically correct to say 'Indian Country' when talking about the reservations.
But this issue goes beyond communication. When we study Columbus, history books ignore a great deal of what he did. I won't get into it and you can make your own determinations, but let's just say that it was not what one would consider a christian thing to do. Because of this history, there is a group that is now working to change our minds when it comes to columbus day. They are called "Reconsider Columbus Day."
While we might think of Columbus day as just another day on our calendar that we don't really pay attention to and most people still have to work on, what are we communicating when we do still have it as a national holiday? Are we communicating the achievements of Columbus? That he set up the expansion of settlements that allowed the nation of the United States to exist? Or are we celebrating something else?
I don't usually get too political here - politics is a dangrous pool that can drown you faster than the Mississippi - but living in South Dakota, this is an issue that I've seen first hand. Check out the video below and go to the Reconsider Columbus Day's website - even check out an article from Al Neuharth (who is from South Dakota) of the USA Today - and let me know what you think. Should we change Columbus Day to Native American Day? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts - I know mine are affected by where I live and my work with Native Americans in the classroom, so I'd like to see what you think.
I usually don't like to try and control things - especially when it comes to communication. This is probably why I enjoy social media: companies cannot control their messages. Does that mean they have no control over what happens? No. What it does mean is that they can't control everything.
There are times though in which you just have to take control of the conversation and the message. Maybe someone is going off on something that just doesn't make sense or they are just being either rude, crude, stupid or a combination of all three. When this happens, having someone take control of the conversation or message can help get things back on track to where they should be.
Sadly I had to do this with comments. I am just getting tired of spam comments trying to sell their shoes from a foreign country, comments trying to get you to go to their porn site or just random babble that doesn't make any sense.
So, if you want to comment on my posts, you need to sign in and verify that you are not spam. I don't like to take control of this aspect of communication, but it just had to be done. It is a pain to delete posts if I am not at my computer and approving comments is not something I care to do.
Sometimes it just needs to be done. If you are having an issue regarding communication, one way to fix it is to take control of the conversation and set it on the right track, even if you don't want to do it.
Many of us have seen lousy presentations after lousy presentations. I am sure most of you have asked a simple question: "Why are these presentations so bad?" Well, there are a lot of reasons to be sure. I am sure that I could fill an entire blog post just listing the problems with PowerPoints - which I would have to do in bullet format of course.
Joey Asher though has an interesting idea that he is trying to get people to believe in. His concept: no presentation should last longer than 15 minutes - and that includes the Q & A time as well. Revolutionary? probably. Will people do it? Maybe.
The book itself is quite short and to the point - which is exactly what Joey wants all of us to do with our presentations. However, the effectiveness of it is its simplicity. He breaks down exactly how to put together a 7 minute presentation and how to prepare for the Q & A at the end.
I'm almost wondering if Joey did Extemporaneous speaking as a high school student because his method is exactly what I have taught my students for the past 10 years:
1. Start with a hook
2. Give a preview of your main points (keep it to three)
3. Body of the speech
5. Call to action
It's a great way to make sure your point gets across to your audience. Joey breaks it down a little bit more than I just did, but I don't want to give away all of his good tips and suggestions.
He goes through each area and helps you figure out how to take a presentation that used to be a long-winded, soul-crushing event to a short, persuasive and effective presentation.
If you are having trouble shortening your presentations then I would highly recommend picking up this book. It not only will teach you a lot of key ideas, but it is something that you can also keep with you for a reference guide in case you need some help.
The only question really is - will people have the gumption to follow his suggestions? It's a long shot, but one I'm hopeful for.
A little over a week ago I was at a beautiful outdoor wedding. The entire wedding party was dressed nice and very classy. Sadly, one of the guests was not. I won't describe the outfit, but let's just say it wouldn't be appropriate for anything but going to a club (and even then, I'm not sure).
After the service, I made some comment about the dress in response to a friend of mine who talked about what she wanted to wear to the wedding she was going to. Keep this in mind: this was the first time I have probably talked about weddings the entire time I've been on Twitter. I'm not in the wedding business, I don't have any kids who will be getting married for quite a long time and I just don't care that much about weddings (don't get me wrong, I like weddings and enjoy them, its just not something I think about on a weekly basis).
Because of my one comment on wedding, over the next week I had about 10 people follow me who dealt with weddings! Every time I just got irritated because I know that they were following me because they probably have a program that find people who mention 'wedding' and then automatically follow them. Needless to say, I didn't follow back.
This is one of those areas that it really does directly relate to public speaking: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!! You have to know your audience if your speech is going to be effective. If your audience has the background knowledge already, you can skip some basic things - if not, you need to include it. Are they young, old, what business are they in, etc. All of those questions are key to tweaking your speech so you can be more effective.
Twitter is the same way: make sure you understand who you are following if you want to engage in the community. Are you a communicator? Are you in Sioux Falls? Do you know me personally? Do you read my blog regularly? If you answered yes to any of those, then it might be a good idea to follow me. If you are following someone just because I used one keyword, chances are, I won't follow back and its hard to have a discussion with people, when they don't engage back in conversation.
If you don't know what Foursquare is you are not alone. There are a little more than 3 million users currently on Foursquare. Now that is quite a jump from the 725,000 users in March, but it is still quite short of the 500 million users on Facebook.
What is Foursquare? Well, I am not talking about the game played on playgrounds with four squares and a ball, but a mobile application that "aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so." If you visit a location often enough you can become the 'mayor' of the location. Some businesses are taking advantage of Foursquare and giving away things or offering a discount to those people who check-in to their location. For example, Granite City in Sioux Falls offers a free 20 oz beer to the mayor of Granite City.
Along with being a 'mayor' you can get 'badges' for going to certain locations, checking in a certain number of times or at certain times. While the badges can be fun, you have to be careful what you are saying to the rest of the world, because they can become a story unto themselves.
For example, there is the Bender badge - where if you check-in at locations four nights in a row. Or the Crunked badge - where you check in at 4 stops in one night. Now are all of those bars? Not sure, but what story is starting to develop if someone sees those badges? And really, do you want to broadcast that information to everyone out there?
While there are some articles that talk about privacy, you also want to be careful about sending mixed messages. While it might be fun to check-in everywhere and go over everything, make sure that you are not sending a mixed message to everyone (like getting a 'player please' badge when you are out on the town WITHOUT your significant other - didn't happen to me, I'm just saying). If you want to see a compiled list of badges, this website is doing a pretty good job of keeping it all up.
What you can take away from this as far as communication goes is a simple one: Communication is all about getting the right message out. If you don't have a clear message when you are speaking, people can get the wrong idea. When that happens, they will either be uninformed, misinformed or utterly confused. When that happens, your speech will suffer.
So make sure when you are writing and giving your speeches that you use language and images that are not going to have double meanings in them. Being clear, concise and unambiguous is very important in making sure that your speeches are successful.
So if you are on foursquare, make sure to think about what you want posted for everyone to see. And if you are interested, you can find me there trying to keep my Mayorship of Queen City Bakery!
That is what I am sure a lot of you have been asking if you have been checking my blog for updates this summer. This has been a long summer - a total of 5 posts from the end of May to today...that is just sad. I could try to give you excuses as to why - I've been busier this summer with meeting clients than I have at any other time, I've been working on a lot of things, my hands felt just like two balloons (not really), etc - but you don't want to hear that at all.
The fact is, even if I am busy, the information I put on this blog I take pride in. I want to show people that communication is everywhere and how they can become better communicators. I want to stay in contact with other people I respect and follow in the communication and marking world - like Brent Duncan, Scott Schwertly, Jan Schultink, and Jon Thomas. To do this, I have to get back on track, stop making excuses and get to work!
Curiously, this is exactly what people who want to become better speakers must do. If you have been thinking about doing more speaking - whether at your job, at conventions or at meetings - get to it! Stop making excuses. It's easy for us to make an excuse for not doing something - but that doesn't mean we should.
So, summer vacation is almost over and its time to get back on the horse. My #blogmonday on twitter will return each week. I hope you'll join me.
Ignite SD is finally making its way to Sioux Falls this evening and I have the pleasure of speaking at the event. While a lot of cities have hosted Ignite events, the 9 Clouds, Inc. team wanted to have the event in more than one location. To understand why is to understand South Dakota.
We are a small state and have a connection to each other, even though it takes us 6 hours to drive across it!
So, if you are in the Sioux Falls area and feel so inclined - here is the information:
Location: Museum of Visual Materials, 500 N. Main Ave, Sioux Falls, SD
Time: 7:30 P.M.
I hope to see you there - and if you can't make it, I'll make sure to post the video as soon as I get it.
Throughout this book, the focus is on connecting with others at three different levels: one-on-one, in a group, and with an audience.
John C. Maxwell stays true to this statements in his new book "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect" that I have had the privilege to read over the past couple of weeks. Sadly, I wanted to write about this a few weeks ago when I first got a copy, but I tend to read books a little too thoroughly. I highlight parts, make notations on the sides, and use tabs to mark key spots - and I tend to read about 6 books at a time - which is basically the excuse I'm using for taking so long.
Anyway, back to the book. I enjoyed Maxwell's book quite a bit. When I look at books I look for several things. First, there is a clear focus to his book - improving how you connect with people on three levels: one-on-one, in a group and with an audience. What I liked a lot about the book is that at the end of each chapter he re focused his topic back on those three areas. He basically reviews the previous chapter and how to relate that to connecting with people.
Connecting is never about me. It's about the person with whom I'm communicating.
The second aspect of his book that I like is the fact that it re-enforces a lot of what I have written about or talked about over the past few years. While I like to think that I know what I'm talking about, it is nice to have someone with Maxwell's background confirming those ideas. Especially his description of what he had gotten out of his speech class - basically not much. I've tried to explain that to people - students are coming out of high school and college ill-equipped for giving speeches and communicating with people. While this book isn't the entire answer, it can definitely help you become a better communicator.
The best advice I can give is for you to learn how to be yourself. The best professional speakers know themselves and their strengths - often learned through trial and error - and they use them to their greatest advantage.
That is what I appreciate the most about his book - it isn't a guide on what to do and how to do it. It's a suggestion box of ideas and strategies that you can use to be a better communicator. That is mostly what I love about this book. If you want to become a better communicator get this book. It isn't the final answer on communicating - but it is a great start. I am definitely going to use some of the tips that I learned in this book.