Mark Grimm

 

Companies Are Burning Money: Are You?

Burning Money 3

Ever been to a boring business dinner — a night of one uninspiring speech after another? Are you nodding your head? Though someone’s time and attention are valuable commodities, these “commodities” are routinely wasted. For corporate America, this is burning money.

Companies and nonprofits too often fail to capitalize on the value of better speaking. Top executives routinely overrate their speaking skill and no subordinate is about to tell them otherwise. A fortune has been invested in high-priced, brand-name firms who deliver cookie-cutter presentation training that has left us with the same problem — boring dinners and boring meetings.

Being interesting is a skill and that skill will make you more money. Too often, speakers focus on what they care about instead of what their audience cares about. They provide too much detail and too little relevance. They read too often when their approach should be conversational. We get far too much blah, blah, blah instead of passion and enthusiasm. The result is lost opportunity and lost business. It’s burning money.

Mark Grimm is a former TV news anchor who has conducted hundreds of seminars and does one-on-one coaching. He will share the secret of being interesting with you….or you can keep burning money. 

Why No One is a Natural Born Speaker

No one is born a great speaker. You have to work at it. Speaking is a skill that needs to be developed, like any other skill. The claim someone is a “natural” at speaking underestimates what it really takes to be great. Some people say Derek Jeter is a natural, too. Then, why does he work so hard at batting and infield practice?

It’s true some people are more extroverted by nature and more comfortable in front of people. But comfort level can be altered and being relaxed is just one aspect of great speaking. The first step in great speaking is good research — finding out what the audience really wants to get out of the presentation and then designing a program to exceed those expectations. Great speaking is about editing, taking a large body of information and paring it down for the audience. Sharp editing and the use of concise language are learned skills and very few people do them really well. Listening is also needed in presentations, a skill that doesn’t come at birth either. How well does your two-year-old listen? How about your teenager?

A speaker once told me he didn’t need my coaching help because he was able to easily “wing it” in front of the audience. I replied, “Yes, it appeared like you were winging it.” He wasn’t connected with what his audience was thinking.

Speaking also requires us to get constant feedback from our audience — what they like and don’t like. It is the only way to get better. No truly great speaker is ever completely satisfied with his/her performance.

Great speaking, as much as any field I know, is open to everyone. It’s not what you were born with, it’s how you use what you have. With the right coaching, the sky is the limit.

The writer is a professional speaker with many speaking coaching clients. Don’t hesitate to contact him for help. His speaking book is available here.

 

 

Top Presentation Strategies for Women

We have heard a great deal about the need for women to “empower” themselves. Better presentation skills are surely one of the best ways to achieve that. Women can improve their status at work or in social situations by getting better at making their own case. Of course, there are many other factors affecting such a complicated social issue that need to be addressed, but focusing on better ways to bring home your message in a clear, compelling way has to help.

It is one thing to encounter unfair treatment, it is quite another to make it evident by carefully utilizing important presentation principles. So speak up for yourself more often.

The Audience
The first step is to focus on your audience. Make your presentation about those receiving it. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for them?” What is it that they want to leave with when you are finished speaking?

Researching your audience is where dynamic public speaking begins. Never lose sight of the fact that the audience is the top priority and knowing them well is critical to your success.

About the Nerves
Confront the fears you have. Write them down. By crystallizing our concerns we are able to deal with them one at a time. Don’t place too much weight on your shoulders. Nobody could live with that burden. Take your work seriously, prepare as well as you can, and then go enjoy the experience. If you make a mistake, the consequences are not fatal. Learn from your mistakes and be better the next time.

Clarity
Be clear. We begin by appreciating the value of clarity and by never being satisfied that we are clear enough. Keep stepping back and ask yourself, “How can I make this presentation simpler and clearer?” Don’t forget you’re the expert on the topic, that’s why you are speaking on it in the first place. Your audience members are usually not experts, that’s why they’re listening to you. Evaluate your entire outline and be tough on your writing. Ask frequently, “Do I really need this in there,” “Will that be clear to everyone?” “Why would they care about this?”

Style Counts
Your style is a combination of things — appearance, voice, presence, nonverbal communication, and attitude. Let’s make sure they are all working in your favor when you speak.

We often hear, “Your appearance shouldn’t count. It’s what’s inside of you that matters.” Let’s leave that discussion for the moralists. Appearance does count and it is our task to make the most out of how we look. Appearance counts because audience members often respond to the way we look. Appearance counts because it may affect the way we feel about ourselves.

Your appearance is the first statement you make about how seriously you take your audience. It doesn’t have to be a fashion show, but you should dress well enough to leave the clear impression that you understand the audience’s attention matters a lot. When it comes to appearance, we should do what we can to maximize our strengths and minimize our weaknesses.

Passion
How you come across has a lot to do with your attitude. Listeners pick up quickly on the signals you send. I cringe when a speaker says, “This is really dry stuff. I hope we can get through it quickly.” Why should I be interested in something if you think it’s boring? I don’t believe the transfer of knowledge is ever boring. It’s the speaker’s role to make it interesting and relevant. Bill Gates once said, “The thing I do best is share my enthusiasm.”

Feedback
Never miss a chance to ask how you did. The feedback is how we improve. Dynamic speaking is a journey and we never should be fully satisfied.

The path presented here for becoming a better presenter is one I have followed myself.  It works! Each of us is special. Each has a lifetime of values, experiences, and emotions to share. That makes you interesting and important. It can make you “dynamic.” I cannot wait to see the best that lies within you!