What distinguishes a brand? What gives a brand value? Establishing brand standard colors, fonts and tone of voice are some of the many ways to distinguish the look a feel of a company. But many companies have a pulse that extends beyond the visual appeal of a brand.
As consumers have become increasingly more educated on the products and services they choose, part of the buying equation now includes social give-back. What is your brand doing to align with serving the greater good? How are you connecting to the community beyond offering material goods and services?
Unless your profession involves working undercover as a foreign spy, there is a good chance that at some point during the 30+ years of your career, you may need to speak to the public. You’re not alone in dreading the thought of giving a presentation to a room full of strangers. We want to help you overcome that fear and master the art of public speaking. Here are a few tips to help:
Memorize talking points and their order, not word for word.
If you try to remember every single word of your speech, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Even if you accomplish the near-impossible task of word-for-word memorization, the audience will likely take notice.
You will come across far less robotic and more conversational if you memorize talking points instead. List out bullet points of everything you want to cover and the order in which you want to cover them, but make up your own transitions and phrasing on the spot so it sounds natural.
Tell stories whenever applicable.
No one wants to feel like they are back in a university lecture hall. We would much rather be sent back to story time in our elementary school’s library. Capture your audience’s attention with a compelling and personal story that illustrates your point.
For example, Connie, our Chief Imagination Officer, is also president of the Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors. When giving a speech at Habitat gatherings, she shares a personal story of a young girl whose family was just welcomed into their Habitat home. The girl took Connie by the hand and showed off her closet space that would be used as a “bedroom for her dollies” because she wanted them to have a new home too. This precious and moving story exemplifies what Habitat is all about even better than facts and figures.
People pay attention when they are laughing.
Of course, not every situation is appropriate for incorporating humor, so please use your best judgment on this one. However, if there is any room for a little light-hearted joviality, then go for it! When people laugh with you, they feel connected to you, thus making your speech seem more relatable. Scatter little humorous bits throughout the speech to hold your audience’s attention from beginning to end.
Make it visual.
Now we know you are a nice-looking guy or gal, but just in case your audience gets tired of beholding your beauty throughout the speech, we recommend creating an accompanying visual presentation.
Not only do photographs, charts, graphs and other visual representations help the audience understand your points, but they can also serve as a cheat sheet so you know what comes next. Need some help jazzing up your presentation? Try out these resources from Hubspot:
- 20 Great Examples of PowerPoint Presentation Design
- The Free Design Templates You Need to Create Stunning Visual Marketing Content
- How to Create Top-Notch Visual Content in PowerPoint
Eye contact is more important than you think.
Anyone ever told you to just look at the back wall when giving a presentation because “no one will notice?” Guess what – this is a lie and everyone will notice. Looking above your audience’s heads the entire time breaks the bond you worked so hard to establish with that last joke. Instead, make eye contact with various people on each side of the room throughout your speech.
If locking eyes with strangers makes you nervous, try strategically placing friends or colleagues throughout the room so you can pretend you are just having a casual conversation with someone you trust. Still freaked out by the idea of eye contact in general? Just look at people’s foreheads; they won’t be able to tell!
The days of imagining the audience in their underwear are long gone. Public speaking nowadays needs to employ a strategic blend of presentation tactics and audience relation techniques. Best of luck with your next speaking engagement, and remember – stay confident and practice, practice, practice!
By Brittany Koonce
We live in a society that demands instant gratification. If we want something, we want it NOW! This not only includes information which is available with the click of a mouse, but also includes consumer products.
Sprinkles Cupcakes has recently developed a way to make sure their customers in New York City can indeed get their cupcakes the moment they want them. A cupcake vending machine. Brilliant!
Read more about it here: https://www.adweek.com/adfreak/nyc-welcomes-first-cupcake-atm-your-24-hour-sweet-tooth-156549
The service of making products and information immediately accessible is emerging more with new ideas. I was recently involved with the Monfort College of Business Entrepreneurial Challenge where one of the business ideas pitched grants consumers instant information. Congo, consultation on the go, is an online platform providing users with instant access to a fee-based live video chat with a qualified doctor or lawyer of their choice. In-person visits with pre-qualified providers are also available. https://www.con-go.com. This idea eliminates having to wait for a doctor or lawyer’s professional opinion in their office with an appointment. They get their consultation “now.” It’s a business service that can grow in countless directions.
I know that this concept does not work for all businesses. But, the question has to be asked: Do you continually audit to see if your business is meeting these immediate consumer demands? If not, are you leaving money on the table?
By Audra Dinell
Topping both New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists, Sheryl Sandberg’s first book, “Lean In” has sparked discussion nationwide. As an expansion from her 2010 TED Talk, Facebook’s COO addresses the lack of women in leadership positions within the workforce.
Quick to point out that she does not have all of the answers, nor does she believe having a career outside the home is what all women should do, she simply challenges the reasons why we aren’t seeing more women at the top. Sandberg asks us to set aside the many outside challenges that make it difficult for women to hold more C-Level positions and asks instead for each of us, men and women, to look inside ourselves and identify what we are personally doing to prevent this.
Her book is composed of a rich amount of research, examples and personal stories, keeping the reader engaged, while supporting each of her points with evidence.
Sandberg asks readers the question “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” encouraging each reader to dig down and depower the fears and doubts that come to mind and to lean in to their dreams instead.
She reveals that this book is the answer to her own question. Originally fearing critics’ accusations of “letting our institutions off the hook” when it pertained to holding women back, she felt she must conquer this fear and shed light on the ways we women and the people who love us, stop ourselves from reaching our full potential.
Among the many ideas she presents in Lean In, she suggests women sit at the table. Through research, Sandberg shows that women continually underestimate themselves, while men slightly overestimate themselves. This makes all of the difference as studies have shown that men get promoted based on their potential, while women get promoted based on their past achievements.
Lean In also includes chapters on finding a mentor and a sponsor, learning to seek and speak your truth and choosing a partner that’s a real partner.
This well-rounded book is a must read for working women, and even men, everywhere.
Links to include:
Lean In – https://leanin.org/book/
A statement that has been burned into our brains from the first day that we learned the meaning of the phrase “customer service.” In many cases, yes, the customer should always be right. Is the customer always right? Absolutely not. Do we want the customer to always feel right? Absolutely. This is because, typically, the result of one angry customer or client is much more detrimental to a business than removing a meal from a restaurant ticket, reducing a price of an item, taking back an item without a receipt, crediting an invoice etc… you get the point.
So when is the customer not always right? That’s a tricky question, and one that can get you into a lot of trouble if you answer it incorrectly. However, there are times when the customer is not right, and that is when the customer doesn’t believe in what you’re selling. By providing a product or service, as a company, you have to have a reason for selling what it is you are selling and you have to stand by what it is that you are selling, especially if it is something innovative or daring.
When you start to change the atmosphere within a particular industry, there are always going to be those who doubt what it is that you are doing, and it is up to you to not only tell them that they are wrong for not believing in what you’re selling, but to tell them why they are wrong.
Of course, in order for you to tell the customer they are wrong, you have to really believe in what you’re selling.
“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”
– Howard Aiken, computer pioneer and the original conceptual designer behind IBM’s Harvard Mark I computer.