Friday, March 26, 2010

The Power of Rehearsal

Saturday I spoke to my Advanced Toastmasters club. It was a rehearsal for a breakout session at our District Conference. I also want to develop this presentation as an offering in my umbrella of personal development presentations.

If you are not in an Advanced Toastmasters club in your area (or a Mastermind of speakers) then you should join one. I get great analysis from this group. Lots of lessons learned BEFORE I’m in front of a “real” audience.

I gave a rambling, unfocused talk and came home with 2 pages of notes to help me focus and stop the rambling.

A big piece of advice was to completely cut and replace my opening.

I LOVE my opening. It is MY favorite part of this nascent presentation. It’s my baby.

But they’re absolutely right. It has to go. It isn’t what my AUDIENCE will want and need.

Find a group like this for yourself or form one.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Gestalt of Public Speaking.

Why do you need to learn better public speaking delivery skills?

When speaking, content is king, no doubt. However, if all you have is content and no delivery skills do everyone a favor: Write up a report, hand it out and keep your seat.

Delivering a speech is a gestalt, worth more than the sum of its parts. Good content, well delivered is more powerful than the content alone flat on the page.

You will actually undermine your content with poor speaking skills. People will tune out. Worse, they will decide that your poor speaking skills are directly related to the quality of your ideas.

Learn better delivery skills to get out of your own way and let your message shine.

What are your thoughts on content and delivery?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What's the Matter with Books?

I love books. I really do. Just check out the picture of a small portion of my book collection.

But lately, I'm finding books...just a bit...well...irritating.

My biggest problem with books is that you can't search them. Sure I can look at the index but half the time I can't find what I want there. And all too often there is no index. And fiction books never have an index.

Let's say you're reading a novel and on page 211 the author mentions a character. Was this a character from earlier in the book? Wouldn't it be great to search back and find out that the character was introduced way back on page 32 and hasn't been mentioned since? I think it would be.

Ok, ok, I could get a Kindle. But what about all the books I already have. Or books from the library. And besides, I love books. I really do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Real Dreams

Live your dreams!

Follow your passion!

Do what you love and the money will follow!

Actually you just might starve!

Look, the problem isn't in doing what you love. Life is short. By all means do what you love. Just don't EXPECT to earn your living doing it. I might love playing music by tapping crystal glasses. I probably won't make much money from it, no matter how hard I work at it or how positive my thinking.

The other problem is that many people think they love fields that are, well, cool. Often folks look at the arts, sports, or fields with high status and the possibility of fame or riches. Fact is only one person at a time gets to be shortstop for the New York Yankees. Very few get to be in, let alone star in, hit movies. Those that get to those pinnacles have usually worked long hours, moved to large cities, and then still needed some amount of luck.

Too many believe they would love careers that involve wealth, status, fame, or power. Glamour careers.

My advice? Be wary of glamour.

Think of all the people in cool careers, living glamourous lives, yes, following their passion, yet they are desperately unhappy.

But by all means, DO live your dreams, DO bring what you love into your life.

Do you love baseball? Play in a local league or coach kids or officiate.

Want to act? Get active in community theater. Does a local law school need actors for moot court? Can you get work in local commercials?

Be creative.

There are many ways to do what you love. And who knows where that might eventually lead. Maybe even to a life that is better than you dreamed.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When communicating...

INFORM me with useful knowledge infused with wisdom.

ENTERTAIN me to help me pay attention.

PERSUADE me to think or feel something different, because why else should I listen.

INSPIRE me to DO something different!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can you be replaced by a logic tree?

If you can, it's time to do something different.

Recently, I made a call to a customer service center and was put in contact with a woman in Mumbai, India. She was friendly and helpful as she made her way through a scripted logic tree designed to help me with my product problem. As a former computer service technician, I was intrigued.

Her script had her repeating two phrases over and over.

Each time I described my problem or responded to her questions she said, "I understand."

Her next words were always, "Let me ask you this:..." and then ask me the next question in the logic tree.

This led to an efficient and oddly personable customer service experience. Even though her responses were rote, canned, I really did feel understood. After all, she told me many times that she understood what I said and followed up with a question that demonstrated she DID, in fact, understand.

This woman in Mumbai gave a human touch (and human intuition if needed) to a process that could have been (and probably one day will be) done entirely by a computer. Well, except for that human intuition part. I hope. The woman in Mumbai could have decided at any point that the logic tree wasn't working and tried something else. She was a human safety valve.

Now if you have a job that COULD be handled by a logic tree but is instead handled less efficiently, here is a six step suggestion for you:

1. Design such a tree.
2. Set up an LLC.
3. Contract with a group in Mumbai, India.
4. Sell your new service to your current employer. (Thereby firing yourself and, regrettably, your co-workers.)
5. If your employer won't buy, sell your service to their competitor.
6. Rinse and repeat.

Actually, do steps 2 through 5 first then contract someone in Mumbai to do step 1. Do it fast, before someone in Mumbai or China, or in the cubicle next to you does it first.

Your new job as CEO of Phone Customer Service, LLC should be one that can't, for the moment, be replaced by a logic tree.

OK. I'm joking... sort of.

My point is to do something that isn't routine. Something you love. Something human. Something complex enough to keep you interested. And interesting. Do this something as a career or a sideline or your retirement project.

As Daniel Pink points out in his book, A Whole New Mind, anything that is routine can be outsourced or automated.

Avoid routines. Do Something Different!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Be like Ellen Rohr!

Ellen Rohr did the accounting for her husband's plumbing business. She admits she almost sunk the family business, even though she had a degree in Business Administration.

She found a mentor who taught her how to read and use financial reports. Ellen learned a lot and she and her husband turned the company around. It seems she learned more practical lessons in the school of hard knocks than in college.

After they sold the family business Ellen decided to share all she had learned. As she says, "After all, if a smart, highly educated person like me didn’t know how to read a balance sheet, I figured business illiteracy must be rampant."

Ellen discovered she was right.

Ever since then, Ellen Rohr has been doing her part in keeping our economy strong by teaching entrepreneurs, well, how to make and keep money. Go to her web site and sign up to download her e-book "Where Did the Money Go?"

Ellen is a great source of information and inspiration. Her goal: Worldwide business literacy! She wants you to make more money and have more fun. Couldn't have said it better myself, Ellen. Do something different!