Executive Speaking

Change your Language to Lead... or Crash and Burn

Languages of the WorldAccording to Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, language can impact bottom line results. He suggests that in the airline industry, where Korea is the most hierarchical culture, lower ranking flight crews were afraid to voice concern to superiors. As a result, Korean Airlines had the most crashes. How did they resolve this problem? They changed the language of the cockpit to English.  By changing the tone in the cockpit, staff had a different context, culture  and a way of being heard.

Although there's some controversy over whether their improved flight record was a result of a change in language or a change in personnel policies, the bottom line is that the language one uses directly impacts one's ability to influence a situation. Men and women sometimes use language differently, which can cause miscommunication and an erosion of influence. Speakers or leaders who use clear, specific, definitive language increase their credibility.  Language is powerful.

How do you speak to your audience? To your superiors? To your peers and direct reports? To your customers? To your shareholders?  Leaders who lack executive presence, may not be using language effectively.

Ambiguous questions and weak language can undermine leadership, and result in lost opportunities and sales.

The DiResta Communications approach to presentation is the Science of Speaking-what confidence looks like, sounds like and how to speak the language of confidence. Our coaching programs improve leadership communication and organizational effectiveness.

Public Speaking Ranks As The Top Entrepreneurial Skill

Quora.com printed the best advice for entrepreneurs, from entrepreneurs. This quote was one of the top three submissions that received the most votes from readers. Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, a popular music-streaming service:

Learn public speaking. Of all the skills that an entrepreneur can have, I think the ability to convey an idea or opportunity, with confidence, eloquence and passion is the most universally useful skill. Whether you're pitching a group of


investors, rallying your employees, selling a customer, recruiting talent, addressing consumers, or doing a press tour, the ability to deliver a great talk is absolutely invaluable. And it is perhaps THE most under-recognized and under-nurtured skill.”

I couldn't agree more and I've been saying this for years. In 2007, I was quoted in a  New York Times article, "Um, Uh, Like Call in the Speech Coach".

'Small business is leaving money on the table because it is overlooking one of the most powerful marketing skills: speech,' said Diane DiResta, a speech and communications coach in New York. 'Speech is the way a small business builds its brand, establishes expertise, gets free publicity and gets in front of its market.'”

And that's why I give webinars and speeches to entrepreneurs on Speak Powerfully, Sell More, How to Use Speaking To Grow Your Business. Speaking is the most cost effective and underutilized marketing strategy.  I spoke in Tanzania as a result of  giving two free  presentations. (The client doesn't always buy the first time).  A free speech at a National Conference led to business in Egypt. Speaking pays. Good presentation skills impact every aspect of business from getting the interview, making the sale, attracting funding, or running for office. It's the very essence of executive presence.

As leaders and executives, entrepreneurs cannot afford to avoid public speaking. Public speaking is the new game changer.

Are You Getting Ripped Off By Speaking Scams?

If you're a professional speaker or aspire to be one, you may soon fall victim to a speaking scam. With fewer meetings, budget cuts, and higher customer expectations, the competition for speaking engagements has increased. As a result, scammers are seizing the opportunity to prey on unsuspecting speakers-especially those new to the industry. Who books speakers? Event planners, corporations, associations, and speakers bureaus hire speakers. An event planner may have a paid or unpaid speaking engagement. But beware of event planners or speakers bureaus who charge you an upfront fee to register with their database. Don't be lured in by exciting video testimonials on their site. I exposed one of these fake testimonials when I  saw the name of someone I coached on her first keynote speech.  Six months later, I saw her picture on a website that claimed to package and promote speakers.  She was quoted as saying that she was making $250,000 per year from working with this company. As a veteran speaker, I know it's highly unlikely that a speaker would go from zero to $250,000 in 6 months.  She wasn't aware of the false testimonial and immediately had them remove it.  By taking a registration fee from every applicant, the company makes money without having to book you.

A legitimate speakers bureau will not ask for money from you. They maintain a data base of clients and propose two or three speakers when they get a request. Once booked, the speakers bureau takes a 25-30% commission from your fee and you receive a check for the rest. The bureau maintains their own sales and marketing costs and the clients belong to them and not to the speaker.  Speakers bureaus have a website with profiles of speakers they represent, they often list their clients, and they are usually members of IASB (International Association of Speakers Bureaus) and may also belong to NSA. When in doubt, check the National Speakers Association (www.nsaspeaker.org). You can also chat with some of the speaker groups on linkedin to check out legitimate booking agents.  Read a report of a recent speaker scam and don't get caught in their web of deceit.

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What TV Anchors Can Teach Executives About Public Speaking

Executives need broadcasting skills. I've been saying it for years.  Media training is critical these days for everybody but especially for executives who are the face of the   organization and who lead global businesses. Public speaking and media skills apply to public service announcements, internal video commercials and now company webcasts are using video. Speaking before a camera is  different from speaking live in a town hall format. So here are some quick speaking and media training tips to keep in mind when your presentation is being filmed.

  • Keep your energy high.  Television can be an energy drain.  Speak with enthusiasm.
  • Smile. It's important to show teeth. Otherwise, you'll look too serious or scared.
  • Use make-up. This applies to men and women. Bright lights can cause perspiration so have some pressed powder handy. Don't use lotions under your make-up. It will create a shiny finish.
  • Avoid metallic or shiny materials which can cause glare.
  • Ask about the backdrop color. Don't wear black if the background is black. You'll look like a mime. Never wear kelly green or shiny, bold patterns that can cause shimmer called moire.
  • Anchor yourself. Even a slight bounce will be exaggerated on camera.
  • Look directly into the camera and not at individuals. The director or camera person will take the necessary audience shots.
  • Use fewer and  smaller gestures.
  • Speak in soundbites. Television is a fast medium. Think of commercials and movie trailers-quick, short, compelling.
  • Rehearse your presentation several times.  If it's a live broadcast and you make a mistake, keep going.
  • Don't say anything more until you're told you're off the air. It's not over 'til it's over.

Video is the hottest marketing tool and in-house video webcasts will become the norm for executive speaking. Get media trained. It's time for your close-up.

What's Your Speaker Business Model?

On Friday, November 19th, I was on a panel at the NYC National Speakers Association meeting. The panelists included, Don Gabor, Ann Fry, Diane DiResta, Audrey Smaltz, and Richard Marker. Bob Frare served as the emcee. Each presenter told their story and shared their business models to a packed room  held at the NY Bar Association.  Most speakers shared that they hadn't planned to be professional speakers but rather fell into it.

Here is an overview of the basic speaking business models:

1.  Freelance subcontractor. This is where  a speaker is hired to do an existing program designed by training companies or other speakers. The advantage is the training company does the marketing and the speaker is paid for delivery. My friend calls this "Show up and throw up." You don't need to be an expert but you must have excellent platform skills and a knowledge of  the subject matter.

2. Corporate training model. The speaker delivers his/her own material developed for a particular audience. The advantage is the fees are higher and you own the account. You can also penetrate deeper into a company for more business. Companies continually need to train their workforce and will look for outside experts and consultants to improve performance.

3. Keynote or motivational speaker. This kind of speaker targets the association and corporate market and is generally speaking to large groups. They speak at a lot of conferences and conventions and must have an inspiring message and or a deep level of  expertise. Keynote speakers command the highest fees but the downside is they are always looking for the next gig. A convention will not hire the same keynoter for two consecutive years. They often partner with speakers bureaus to book business . The life of a keynoter is to be a road warrior.

4. Product sales model or BOR (back- of- the- room sales). Presenters speak for the purpose of selling products. They either stage their own public seminars and events or speak at conferences. This also can be a lucrative model but the speaker must be able to create products that people want and most importantly, be able to sell from the platform. Selling products from the back -of- the -room is challenging and this model is recommended only for those who have excellent selling skills and can move a crowd to action. It requires getting in front of large groups, transporting products, and having a merchant account.

A subset of BOR is internet sales. Some speakers direct the audience to their websites and sell hard copies and digital products. Other speakers have morphed into primary internet businesses and deliver  their message through teleclasses and webinars.

5. Enterprise model. This kind of speaker owns a bonafide business and manages employees. They may own a restaurant, a real estate company, a training company or other enterprise which they can sell.  The bulk of their income is derived from the business and speaking is yet another but not the sole source of their income. This is often the most lucrative model because the speaker does not have to trade time for money. Employees or freelancers deliver the product or service. The speaker is positioned as an expert about the business or industry and may speak on business or motivational topics.

When choosing a business model, the main message from the panelists was play to your strengths.

The smartest speakers combine multiple streams of income.

NSA NYC

Are You Seen But Not Heard?

Situation: Karen was newly appointed to her position in finance, where she was responsible for managing and keeping the department on budget. Soft-spoken and petite, Karen had a hard time making herself heard during meetings, as her aggressive team shouted over her and challenged her when she questioned their figures. Karen's team was over budget, and she was concerned about her credibility when she had to present her figures to corporate at an up-coming meeting. Recognizing the importance of asserting her authority, Karen sought coaching to increase her confidence and to learn strategies for maintaining control. Solution: We worked on increasing the volume and conviction in Karen's voice. Initially, she wasn't aware of her vocal range and didn't believe she could project. Together, we practiced breathing exercises before the meeting to calm Karen's nerves. With a specially created template, Karen began to organize her ideas so she would not get intimidated and lose her train of thought. Karen also developed strategies for dealing with people who lobbed hostile barbs or tried to interrupt her when she was speaking.

Result: After the big meeting, Karen said she felt prepared, organized, and confident. She was able to hold her ground and support her position. The note-taking system helped her to stay focused and maintain her credibility.

Do you know people who get lost in the crowd? We can help them rise above the noise, find their voice, and communicate with confidence.