Stories make your message stick long after you’ve revealed your product benefits, shared your company’s new strategy or even emceed an event.
I had the honor of emceeing my National Speakers Association – North TX Chapter meeting recently. While introducing the featured speaker I shared a personal story highlighting the speaker.
“A while back, for another convention, I had the chance to drive our featured speaker from our airport to the venue. We got lost. Twice. At the same place. Underneath a pile of highway intersections in a restaurant parking lot with dumpsters to our left and the back of the restaurant to our right. Now, granted, we did not have sophisticated GPS systems nor cockpit panel screens in our cars yet, but I was one second away from crying/laughing with hysteria when we landed next to the dumpsters the second time. She grabbed my phone … and guided me out of this spot.”
“Why am I telling you this story?” I asked this current audience. “Because 2 weeks later she sent me a hand-written thank you note and never mentioned that this was the ride from hell. As speakers we talk about ‘walking our talk’ – being the same off the stage as on the stage. Our speaker did just that – she is a really nice person, even when no one is looking.”
The audience grasped the depth of her business credibility from the prepared introduction. The personalized story showed her kindness.
The story worked.
What I did NOT say in that driving story
Before picking her up at the airport I had an oncology doctor visit discussing my breast cancer diagnosis. I’m fine now (thankfully) but I was not fine that day. I’m sure that added to my driving duress.
What NOT to say in your stories
Don’t add extra info that sidetracks your story or does not move your story forward.
The story, as stated, is funny due to using self-deprecating humor. I expose my crummy driving. No one needs to know the real reason I kept getting lost.
Don’t overshare unnecessary info about yourself.
You may feel compelled to share ALL the details, but don’t do it IF it takes away from your story’s relevance.
We are back with our annual selection of the best Super Bowl Commercial.
For starters, the Roman numerals for this year’s Super Bowl are LVII. Remove the “L” and you’re left with “VII” that = 7. And THAT is what a 30-second commercial costs these days: 7 million bucks (before adding in talent and production dollars)!
Drum Roll…. This year Breaking Good PopCorners commercial wins.
Use this list of strategies for your next board presentation, zoom meeting or project review all modeled in this commercial.
Self-deprecating humor. Laugh at yourself – it makes you more approachable. We will then want to listen to you. Our beloved Breaking Bad characters, Walter, Jesse and Tuco make fun of themselves and the original show throughout this ad.
Good story arc. Many of the ads tried too hard and became disjointed. You could not figure out what they were selling till the last second. Our Breaking Good ad reveals the product up front and the PopCorners take center stage.
Clear CTA. Eat PopCorners. In other commercials you had to really search for the product relevance & Call to Action.
Logical support material. Rather than have gratuitous celebrity placement our commercial gives us a great throwback to the Breaking Bad main characters and their van… which moves this story forward.
Strong finish. And they’re air popped, not fried. Now in seven flavors.
Real takeaways for you – find the humor, move your story forward with logic, add good support material that makes sense and create a clear message/solution. Finally, don’t get stuck in a van in the desert near Albuquerque.
“Keep in mind that simple does not mean effortless,” states Eric Kim, a NYT cooking columnist & bestselling author of Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home, in his article The Secret to a Better Green Salad.
Eric Kim’s comment has broader implications.
He’s also sharing the secret to a better speech! Simplicity is defined as the quality of being easy to understand.
You watch a presenter and you think, “That looks easy.” You might even believe, “I can do that too.” And… you can. We’ve worked with many professionals on how to present material in a way that looks easy while also being impactful.
Your recipe to appear effortless as a speaker ➜
Practice out loud (not in your head) to a live human being (not a dog). You think I’m kidding about the dog? Articles suggest that it’s easier to rehearse to Buttercup, your bull dog. No… it’s distracting, but I digress.
Know – exactly – how you will start and how you will conclude. Be able to say your beginning and ending even if I woke you up in the middle of the night to do this exercise.
Understand the nuances of your audience. Speak directly to their interests and concerns.
Use good stories, examples, metaphors and humor that make your message sticky. We call that “Velcro”.
Time your remarks and stick to your time limit given.
Be able to solve their issues or move their conversation forward. Otherwise – don’t do the presentation.
Have a clear message with a “return on investment” for your audience. This is your Presentation Currency 💰. You are selling the commodity called “time”. Is it worth their time to listen to you?
The secret to a better green salad ➜
I start with the best ingredient: organic lettuce grown by Jim Reisman @ our Star Ranch . For the rest of the recipe follow Eric Kim @ericjoonho !
With 4 days left of this year it’s time to devour our best-of list – guaranteed to boost your communication skills even more in ’23.
◉ Find the humor. Even during drama-filled situations – funny stuff happens. Use this material in your conversations/presentations.
◉ Ask questions. You will be forced to listen more and you’ll learn more than if you’re doing all the talking.
◉ Read more. Fiction or non-fiction – you’ll gain insights and become even more articulate. Even a trashy novel can provide examples of how to use dialog, plot development, what makes for a good or dumb story.
◉ Reflect on your positive communication experiences in ’22. You do a great job of remembering in exquisite detail when you think you’ve failed at running that meeting, or facilitating the board discussion, or giving a speech to your shareholders. Think back on when you rocked on your platform(s). Not only will this make you feel great – but it has a positive rollover effect on your future gigs.
◉ Write more. I began writing this weekly blog years ago – kicking and screaming. I did not want to add this task into my weekly regimen. Now I realize it’s been one of my best communication habits. Writing makes you a better communicator. I am forced to observe with purpose… all the time… constantly mining for good info and stories. My friends live in fear of when they’ll be quoted here!
🥂 🎉 Thank YOU for being blog post readers and happy / healthy new year! 🥂 🎉
Picture you’re on a set for a commercial shoot. It’s a “video village” collection of director’s chairs and monitors. 36 professionals from makeup, hair and wardrobe to teleprompter & script editors to ad agency folks to the photography team to the director hover over their respective domains of production.
Such was the background for my week of coaching the talent on set for this large tech company.
The action starts. The talent begins to share his message. And… then… everything comes to a dead halt.
The ankle reveal.
The two producers, zooming in from Seoul, say, “We don’t like the talent’s ankles.”
They go on to comment, “The focus needs to be on his face and his content, and we are distracted by the half-inch of revealed ankles between his loafers and the European cut pants.”
What’s this have to do with you?
You’re probably not doing video shoots with 36-people production crews, BUT you are communicating as a leader all the time… AND DETAILS MATTER.
Little details that create big outcomes.
Your gestures – are you fiddling with your cuticles, wringing your hands, or pushing your hair repetitively behind your ears?
Your stance – are you swaying, standing more on one leg and then the other, pacing, doing a meaningless fox trot movement, or slouching?
Your eye contact – are you just looking at the power people in the room, staring out over the tops of audiences’ heads, or doing the eye dart maneuver?
Your setting/background in-person or virtually – are you fighting for your audience’s flea-sized brain cells due to distractions behind you?
The rest of the commercial.
Our video production stops for 55 minutes! Big discussions are held between the wardrobe people, the ad agency people, the on-set director, and the producers in Seoul.
My talent puts on a pair of socks.
Guess what? It was the right move. Your gaze never goes down to the guy’s feet (even though you never realize that his ankles cause a distraction).
Don’t get me started on how much time it took to select the pillows on the background couch.