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Follow my logic to really appreciate why practice is an absolute to being successful. Let's use driving a car as our example.

For comparison, let's use the Automobile Manufacturer's average of 12,000. Think of the warranty offered as three years or 36,000 miles.

Thus, we can create an annual number of miles driven chart since age 25.

Age    # of Miles
25             60,000
30            120,000
35            180,000
40            240,000
45            300,000
50            360,000
55            420,000
60            480,000

If I were to ask anyone based on these numbers, "Are you an excellent driver," he/she would surely respond Yes. How about asking someone in their forties? Absolutely Yes.

Now, if I asked a 45 year old driver if he/she could beat an Indy 500 race car driver, the answer would be an unequivical "No." How come? The person drove three hunnnndreddd thousssanddd miles.

The reason is clear. Practice.

All too often people spend too little time practicing... practing a presentation, sharing a personal story for business impact, writing powerfully, responding to questions during an investor meeting, conducting an important board meeting, and so forth.

Next time, spend at least a little bit of time practicing. You'll never regret the time spent.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Make Me Care

Today I was working with an executive client on her storytelling. Tanya wants to use more stories in her meetings, presentations, networking, etc.

As part of the first step of developing engaging business stories, we develop a story list.  This is simply a list of Tanya's favorite stories and a few notes beside each story title.

After sharing a variety of stories, I asked her to rank her favorite ones. When she identified her all-time favorite, I prompted Tanya to share it.

Nearly three minutes into telling it, I identified the "make me care" moment. 

During our discussions Tanya agreed that yes, this was the most important part...this was the business take-away. 

For you, two suggestions:

1) Shorten your business stories, generally to a max of two minutes. Three minutes if you are able to keep your audience's attention the entire time

2) Message/craft the words of your stories around your "make me care" concept. Be deliberate

For the past two years (2011 and 2012), I shared my top 50 business storytelling and communications mantras. As I plan for 2013, I always look to my list to light a small fire of inspiration.

As you look through this list, see what applies to your life or what you want to apply. Write your own list of mantras. Whatever you do, make a list (short or long) of your goals and aspirations. Every so often read, revise, and contemplate...

Here are the mantras at The Chief Storyteller. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to making your personal and organizational communications unforgettable. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.


Personal Storytelling & Communications
01.    People are at the heart of every great story.
02.    Stories are how people remember you.
03.    Use humor if you want to.
04.    Write in your authentic voice.
05.    Write and speak conversationally.
06.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
07.    Tell more personal stories with relevant business messages

Brand/Organizational Storytelling
08.    Promise a better tomorrow.
09.    Know your elevator speech / elevator pitch / mission statement (core business story).
10.    Ensure your core business story is unified throughout all communication materials.
11.    Your brand story is everything.
12.    Success stories are key to differentiation.
13.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
14.    Deliver on the expected experience.

Relationships
15.    It’s all about them.
16.    Relationships matter.
17.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
18.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
19.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
20.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
21.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
22.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
23.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
24.    Treat every client like your best client.
25.    Be a deliberate networker.
26.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
27.    Be a mentor.
28.    People crave connection.
29.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions:  offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.

Communications
30.    Write to the 10th grade level.
31    Content is king.
32.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
33.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
34.    Content first. Design second.
35.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
36.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your staff).
37.    Inspire Action:  facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
38.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
39.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
40.    Speak in headlines.
41.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.

Personal Development
42.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
43.    Words really, really matter.
44.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
45.    Change is a choice.
46.    Create your own success momentum.
47.    Be a student everyday.
48.    Be a whole body communicator.
49.    Avoid fillers (um, ah, like, you know)
50.   Be a deliberate communicator

Today I delivered my "Presenting with Confidence" workshop to a lively and engaging audience.

At the end of the presentation, Judith (name changed) came up to me and we chatted about a variety of subjects. Then she politely asked if she could make a suggestion. "Of course" I responded. She suggested moving the "Story of a Sign" video from the middle to the beginning. "It's very moving and powerful" (or something similar).

Internally I cringed. She was right. I whispered to her, "Can I tell you a secret? I needed a change. It's one of my all time favorites...I have been using that video as the start to more than 50 presentations...I wanted to do something different...for me."

Then she dropped the hammer on my toes. She smiled and said something to the effect, "isn't one of your messages, it's all about the audience?" I laughed out loud. Again, I knew she was right.

My learning lesson for today...listen to the audience.

Friday's presentation on the Capabilities Clinic WILL start with Story of a Sign! Thank you Judith for the much-needed and gentle kick in the ...

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for the Nov16th Compelling Capabilities Statement Clinic.

It is *Free* for registered attendees of the NBPCI Executive Breakfast Event with Teresa Lewis.

Please visit our other website page with all of the details. www.thechiefstoryteller.com/services/compelling-capability-statement

There are a few spots left for Wednesday's workshop in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Here is the information. Email Bjorn (contact info below) with any questions (or me).

There will be a meeting of entrepreneurs who want to learn the art of making great presentations. Mr. Ira Koretsky will lead this event. He has travelled the world training people and consulting to organizations on the art and science of great communications. Join us for a fun, engaging and insightful event.  

Ira will introduce us to his five-step approach. He will ask you to draft your pitch (any type of pitch). And he will ask for volunteers to deliver what you have done during the workshop. Ira makes your communications unforgettable. He helps you develop compelling messages to your target audiences. With better spoken, written, and online communications, you will expand brand awareness, improve business outcomes, and strengthen financial results.

Presenting with Confidence: Develop and Deliver Engaging Presentations in 5 Steps
Great presenters transform ideas into action. They put their messages, supporting points, facts, and personal stories into a meaningful context for their audiences. Great presenters do not just tell us what we should know, they tell us what we should do, and why we should do it. Learn the techniques of great presenters. Learn to develop engaging presentations of any type for any audience (e.g., investor,prospecting, partner, executive team, and board updates). Join us as we share the five key steps to becoming a more confident and persuasive presenter. Learn more at www.TheChiefStoryteller.com  

About Our Speaker
Ira Koretsky founded The Chief Storyteller® in 2002. Based on more than 26 years of experience, research, and refinement, he has developed a process shared internationally to over 25,600 people. This flexible process helps you develop and deliver highly targeted messages to your audiences. Ira looks at the world of communications and messaging differently than most. He looks at the world through the lens of storytelling, with a twist (come see the “twist” at this event).  

Meeting objectives
- Identify the best messages and words interesting to your listeners.
- Focus your content on answering the questions of your audience.
- Learn a new way of communicating and building relationships.
- Harness the power of storytelling to meet your objectives more effectively and more quickly. Facts can only prove, stories build value!  

Participants
Everybody, including entrepreneurs, need to pitch their stories to customers, investors, partners, and employees. Usually different pitches to different people.

Time and place
November 14, 2012 from 12:30 to 3:30 pm, Large seminar room at UMBC’s energy incubator (CETI)

1450 South Rolling Road, Halethorpe, MD 21227

Agenda
12:30 pm Doors open & networking.
1:00 pm Workshop conducted by Ira Koretsky.
3:00 pm More networking (Ira will leave for another commitment).  

RSVP
Please RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We will limit the number of RSVPs to 60. This is likely to become a sold-out event.  This meeting is free and open to all.

Hosts
- Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) @ bwtech @ UMBC.
- Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC).

Sponsors
- Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (DBED).
- Whiteford Taylor Preston (WTP).
- SB & Company.

Contact
Bjorn Frogner, PhD
Entrepreneur in Residence, Tel: 443-534-7671
Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator(CETI) at bwtech@UMBC

Twenty-four years ago, I attended a Rotary Club luncheon where my congressman was the featured speaker. He had just returned from an overseas congressional visit to Eastern Europe and he took the occasion to remind us of the importance of family relationships here in America. He closed with a few prophetic words from the Harry Chapin folk rock song, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” about finding time for others, despite the hectic pressures of daily life.

The song is a first-person narrative and is a story about a dad who is too busy to find time for his son.  As a boy, the son talks about growing up to be like his dad. It's only after his son is all grown up does his dad realize what has happened. His son has grown up just like him – too busy and unable to find the time for those closest to him.      

Although I would not become a parent until eight years after first hearing this story, his closing words would remain with me and later guide me in my relationships with my own sons.  Over the course of their young lives, we have done many things, shared countless experiences and gone to many places together – including the recent Marine Corps Marathon 10K race my oldest son and I competed in together.

 

And now, as he and I enjoy his final year at home before going off to college, it occurs to me how right  my congressman was. Spending time with my sons and interacting with them over the years has brought us closer together. For now, anyway, it seems the prophecy of the song has been fulfilled: “He’d grown up just like me, my boy was just like me.”

I share this story because it speaks to the importance of relationships in business, as well. As we say here at The Chief Storyteller®, great relationships are the engine of continued success. They are formed when two people decide to invest the time to interact with one another, not when one person person merely speaks to another in a one-way conversation. This is particularly evident in social media, where many brands mistakenly believe the way to cultivate relationships with their customers is to produce a steady stream of one-way pronouncements. Brands who use social media to truly engage and interact with their customers ultimately enjoy stronger relationships by sharing common interests.   

What relationships are you (or your brand) most proud of?

I'm a big fan of Dan Pink...While his article is about politics...it's really about words and messaging.

Here's the beginning:

This year’s presidential race has now come down to ten days and two people. But like many exercises in persuading, influencing, and otherwise moving others, it has also come down to two words – one for President Barack Obama, another for Governor Mitt Romney.

Which word prevails may determine which man takes the oath of office three months from now – and therein lies a lesson for your own work.

A few years ago, British advertising pioneer Maurice Saatchi conceived the idea of “one-word equity.” His notion was that today -- when all of us feel blasted by a daily fire hose of text, images, and ideas from our computers, phones, and social networks -- the only way to be heard is to push succinctness to it limit.

“What I am describing here is a new business model for marketing, appropriate to the digital age,” Saatchi wrote. “In this model, companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind.”

And what goes for companies goes equally for political candidates.

Dan continue discussing President Obama's word of "Forward" and Governor Romney's words of "Believe in America."

If you are a fan of words, content, meaning, and messaging, you'll enjoy Dan's musings.

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When You Listen, What Do You Hear?

I went for a run the other day. It was a warm, sunny day so I decided to run along the roads near the gym where I work out. I left my iPod in my locker because I knew it would be safer to listen for the sound of approaching cars and trucks while navigating around the traffic I was likely to encounter. Then something amazing happened.

I started listening.

I encountered a stretch of road where there was no traffic. There I was, just a single runner making his way along a quiet road surrounded by an open field on one side and an untouched forest on the other.  Suddenly, it was quiet. So I started listening. I could hear the crickets chirping in the woods near the road. I could hear the birds singing. And I could hear the rhythmic sound of my running shoes hitting the pavement.

I never noticed the sound of my steps before. The steady beat became a motivational message of sorts. I enjoyed the sound so much I didn’t want it to end.

I started wondering how many other sounds and messages I had never heard before. I had been in countless meetings at work, lectures at school and conversations with others.  What did I miss?   

Here at The Chief Storyteller®, we focus on helping you and others like you tell your business stories. How those stories are perceived, however, often starts with how well you and your audience are listening.

When you listen to a story, what do you hear?

For more insights on listening and audience engagement, please see:
• Mobile Devices in Meetings – Rudeness or Engagement?
• How Engaged Are Your Meeting Participants?
• 10 Content Planning Questions for Getting Conference Attendees to Choose the Ballroom Over the Pool

Yahoo recently published an article, "Body Language Signs to Watch During the Debates." 

This particular paragraph sums it all up nicely:

"The mistakes the presidential candidates have made over the years are numerous. Poor body language has been a common blunder. As much as candidates focus on perfecting the substance of what they say before the cameras, a large number of Americans are really most interested to see how they say it," CNN contributor and history professor Julian Zelizer wrote for CNN.

The article goes in depth on various body language tendencies of both candidates. And the article ends with a brief discussion of six non verbal cues:

1. An itchy nose

2. Hands in pockets

3. Crossed arms

4. Touching the neck

5. Finger pointing

6. Frequent eye blinking

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, June 12, 7:30 - 10:30, The Tower Club, 8000 Towers Crescent Drive, #1700, Vienna, VA 22182.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf

On Monday evening, I was invited by a colleague to attend Arthur Herman's book launch at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. In "Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II," the AEI website writes," Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman describes how the U.S. won history’s greatest conflict by harnessing free market principles and private-sector creativity and innovation to increase war production."

I enjoyed Herman's talk very much. Overall, well done. I am looking forward to reading my signed copy of "Freedom's Forge."

For The Chief Storyteller's "Presentation Review" Series, here are some thoughts and ideas on Mr. Herman's presentation:

Beginning
> Dr. Herman began talking about the rainy weather. While it may seem mundane, it was a great way to build rapport with the audience.

Discussion Start
> The real meat and potatoes started with "Now, what I want to do here tonight is to tell you a story. And this is a story that usually is told backwards.
If you go to the textbooks, if you go to the movies, if you go to the usual discussions..."

> Excellent way of engaging the audience with "usually told backwards." Now we are waiting for how, why, etc. He builds intrigue.
> He uses a veru powerful figure of speech called anaphora. Anaphora is where the speaker repeats the same word or phrase at the beginning of two or more sentences. Herman uses "If you go to the" three times.
> He showed a black and white photograph of a B29 Bomber to complement his message.

Middle
> Herman shared a very logical and linear approach to support his ideas.
> My suggestion is to tell more stories to illustrate your points. While he hinted at some in short, 20 to 30 second spans, I'd suggest two to three minute stories. For example, in the Q&A, he mentioned a richly told story of a young woman working in a factory. He shared that she wrote a letter to her husband saying something like, "I am helping build a ship for him to come home in." The quiet in the room was palpable. It was a moving example. More example stories would have made his talk even better and more memorable.

End
> Herman wrapped up his presentation in a neat little bow. "The people I think you will meet in this book. The people that I met as a result of writing it. I have to tell you. I fell in love with them. I hope in reading this book you will too. Thank you very much." (Around the 44:00 minute mark in the video)

General Comments
> During Q&A, Mr. Herman was poised, inviting, and comfortable. He made every person whom asked a question feel important.
> His photographs perfectly complemented his points and were engaging and interesting to look at.
> He varied his voice quality, tone, and cadence in just the right ways. Body language as well.


To learn more about Dr. Herman:
- AEI video of his presentation
- Wikipedia page
- Time interview "How To Build a War Machine"
- Book listing on Amazon (click here or on the image below)

I am honored to be speaking at the local MIT Enterprise Forum® here in the Washington, DC area. Thank you to my good friend Oz from InnoEngineer for setting this event up.

Here is all of the information...

Get Funded - Design and Deliver the Perfect Investor Pitch [Open Workshop Event]
It is imperative to have a clear and concise message that gets prospective investors to say, "Let’s talk!"…especially in today's economy. In this interactive, hands-on workshop, you will learn how to create a powerful, clear message that wows prospective investors. Apply five proven steps taught internationally, to design and deliver the perfect investor pitch. Receive concrete suggestions on your presentation based on individual and partner exercises. Join us as we show you how to transform your ideas into action.

 

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Location: Startup Lab, Johns Hopkins University, DC Campus, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Lower Level, Room 7

Parking:  Central Parking, 1800 Mass. Ave. NW. If you click http://washingtondc.centralparking.com/Washington-DC-1800-Massachusetts-Aven ue-NW-Parking.html you can get a coupon that reduces the cost to $6 after 5:00 PM. Nearest Metro stop is Dupont Circle. 

As leaders of businesses, governmental agencies and associations, we encounter questions from those we lead through a variety of media – public speaking forums, face-to-face conversations, email, blog posts and even social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In many cases, how we answer those questions says more about us and our ability to lead than our answers do.

Consider this example. A friend of mine, Carol, recently posed a simple yet thoughtful question to a speaker during a public forum. In response, the speaker smiled and said, “Carol, that’s a great question. I’m glad you asked that. Let me answer by saying….”  Before he even offered an answer to the question, the speaker framed his response in a way that made Carol feel like the most important person in the room. What effect do you think this had on Carol’s perception of the speaker as a leader?

As an alternative, what do you suppose Carol’s reaction would have been to a response that sounded something like this: “I’m not sure I understand your question. Let’s take that off line.” Or to a response similar to this: “I’ve already answered that question. Would you like for me to answer it again?”  In both of these instances, the speaker appears as if he is belittling Carol for asking the question – in the first response, by suggesting she didn’t ask her question clearly, and in the second, by making it sound as if she’s asking a question she should know the answer to.  What effect do you think either of these responses might have on Carol’s perception of him as a leader?

Here at The Chief Storyteller, one of our top 50 business storytelling mantras for 2012 is to “Treat everyone like a CEO.” Answering questions in a way that makes people feel important is one good way to do that. 

Last year I shared my top 50 business storytelling mantras. As I plan for 2012, I always look to my list to light a small fire of inspiration.

As you look through this list, see what applies to your life or what you want to apply. Write your own list of mantras. Whatever you do, make a list (short or long) of your goals and aspirations. Every so often read, revise, and contemplate...

 

Here are the mantras at The Chief Storyteller. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to your business stories. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.

1.    It’s all about them.
2.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
3.    Write to the 10th grade level.
4.    Be memorable.
5.    Use humor if you want to.
6.    Content is king.
7.    Relationships matter.
8.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
9.    Know your elevator speech / elevator pitch / mission statement (core business story).
10.    Ensure your core business story is unified throughout all communication materials.
11.    Your brand story is everything.
12.    Success stories are key to differentiation.
13.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
14.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
15.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
16.    Everything you write, speak, and record online is a business story.
17.    Content first. Design second.
18.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
19.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your employees).
20.    Everyone builds relationships through networking.
21.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
22.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
23.    Blogs are for sharing, educating, and inspiring…not selling.
24.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
25.    Generating genuine interest in your product/service is the first step in building a relationship.
26.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
27.    Write in your authentic voice.
28.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
29.    Words really, really matter.
30.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
31.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
32.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
33.    Speak in headlines.
34.    Write and speak conversationally.
35.    Treat every client like your best client.
36.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.
37.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
38.    Change is a choice.
39.    Deliver on the expected experience.
40.    Create your own success momentum.
41.    Be a student everyday.
42.    Be a deliberate networker.
43.    Be a deliberate communicator.
44.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
45.    Be a mentor.
46.    Be a whole body communicator.
47.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
48.    Inspire Action:  facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
49.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions:  offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.
50.    People are at the heart of every great story.

I had the pleasure of seeing Dan Roam speak at an ASAE Great Idea's Conference. He was fun, kept my attention, and shared some great techniques for turning ideas into pictures.

In the past two months, I have purchased five copies for clients. I thought, "now that's a sign. I should write a quick book review."

Published in 2008, "Back of the Napkin," was Dan's first book. Now it is an international bestseller and according to his website, "the most popular visual-thinking business book of all time." I believe it is such a popular book because it is filled with helpful, illustrative pictures. Most business self-help books contain only a few pictures. Most of Dan's book is pictures. They include walk-throughs, tools, and examples. His whole approach is built on the simple premise that you don't have to be creative or know how to draw. If you can draw stick figures, then you are ready to tackle problem solving with pictures. If you find yourself sometimes at a loss for how to show a problem visually, consider reading Dan's book.

Resources:
- Back of the Napkin website
- Back of the Napkin book site on Amazon
- Back of the Napkin blog
- Change This Manifesto:  The 10 1/2 Commandments of Visual Thinking: The "Lost Chapter" from The Back of the Napkin
- Change This Manifesto:  Found In Translation: The Case for Pictures in Business

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"No" Often Hides the Door to "Yes"

Over the years I have learned to use the hidden power of "No" when working with certain types of people or with time-challenged teams. 

Today I have a client where the team is out of town half of every month. Saying that scheduling meetings is a challenge is sometimes an understatement.

With their personalities and time commitments, they are the perfect candidates for applying my "No" style of consulting.

For example, while developing a new presentation outlying the group's strategy, we would collaborate and develop the outline. I would then show them two to three options for each of the major concept storyboards/slides. The various team members inevitably would tell me more about what he/she didn't like than what he/she did like.

And that was perfect. I got the results I wanted. I learned what the team preferences were for the messaging and visuals.

Sometimes consultants shy away from what seems like a confrontational communication style. Try looking at how the client communicates, the reasons, and what you can do to adapt your style to achieve the same results.

Yesterday I came across an interesting blog posting "The Pull of Narrative – In Search of Persistent Context." It was an interesting and thought provoking piece on the concept of narrative and why it is better than storytelling. This excerpt does a pretty good job of capturing John Hagel's sentiment. Below the excerpt is my comment.

Excerpt:  Stories and narratives are often used interchangeably, as synonyms.  But here I will draw a crucial distinction between the two.  Narratives, at least in the way I will be using them, are stories that do not end – they persist indefinitely. They invite, even demand, action by participants and they reach out to embrace as many participants as possible. They are continuously unfolding, being shaped and filled in by the participants.  In this way, they amplify the dynamic component of stories, both in terms of time and scope of participation. Stories are about plots and action while narratives are about people and potential.

-------------------------

John,

Just came across your posting. Your article is interesting and thought provoking. After reading it, I do not agree that narrative is different from storytelling.

My focus is storytelling as part of making your professional and personal communications unforgettable. Every single thing you say, write, or post online is a story. 

For this to work, the "effect" of the story has to persist long after the story is read or heard.

It is funny for me to say this, when I was in college, I was repeatedly told that the soft skills were less important…I came to believe it. How shortsighted that thinking was. And unfortunately, it is ubiquitous worldwide.

It is an easy laugh to say public speaking is the number one fear. There are more than 20 phobias associated with communicating. Life in and of itself is not the best teacher for communication. Most students who graduate high school, college, and to some extent graduate school are not truly prepared for the professional world in terms of communication. They have the skills to be excellent in his/her profession. 

I learned from working in a hospital years ago a nursing adage:  see one, do one, teach one.Rather than redefine or move people to rethink narrative over story, I'd strongly suggest providing people with the know-how (e.g., tools, templates, examples, and case studies) to be great storytellers--to be great communicators. 


Ira Koretsky
The Chief Storyteller
www.TheChiefStoryteller.com/blog
Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Road to Best-in-Class

Name the best in your industry, profession or sport. What are they doing now?

Practicing. Preparing for the next campaign, interview or game.

Somewhere right now, someone is competing with you for the top spot.  They’re honing their strategies, perfecting basic skills and learning new techniques. 

If you or your organization is looking to become the best in your industry, profession or sport, you need to make sure you and your team members are all-in. In short, everyone needs to be personally invested in your success. And that means practice and preparation.

Practice can make a positive impact in almost every functional area of an organization.  In the area of marketing communications, for example, team members from best-in-class organizations tend to exhibit these attributes:
• A well-rehearsed elevator speech (answer to “What do you do?). Everyone should be able to internalize and deliver the same 30-second pitch.
• Presentations with purpose. Prepare for and rehearse your customer presentations so you start and end on time and follow a customer-focused agenda.
• A clear and consistent message.  Every message you share verbally, in print and online should be consistent with your desired brand perception.
• The right tools and resources. Choose your resources wisely. Use tools like white papers, email, direct mail, websites, testimonials and social media that demonstrate a record of quantifiable success.
• A relentless pursuit of excellence. Strive to exceed your customer’s expectations. Outperform your competitors.

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, July 26, 8:30 - 11:30, Fairview Park Marriott Hotel, 3111 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042.

*** We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, July 26, 8:30 - 11:30, Fairview Park Marriott Hotel, 3111 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042.

*** We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf

My oldest son and I attended a ceremony for newly licensed drivers at the County courthouse the other day. Like any other parent-son activity, I seized the opportunity to use it as a teachable moment – this time on dressing for success.

When I was growing up, business suits were reserved for special occasions. My dad is a retired factory worker and rarely wore a suit and tie. Etched in my memory is the one instance when he attended a court proceeding. I remember his telling me how important it was to wear a well-pressed suit and tie. It was a sign of respect, he said, for the authority of the court and the people who worked there.

And so it never occurred to me to show up to the courthouse in anything less. As we stood in line at the entrance, we were amazed at what we saw – there were teens in shorts and t-shirts, parents in blue jeans and polo shirts and only a handful with a tie and no jacket. I told my son not to worry. As I learned in sales, there is no such thing as over-dressing.

As the judge entered the room, we observed the usual protocol of rising and then sitting when told to do so. The judge addressed us from the Bench, reminding the teens and their parents of the seriousness of the responsibility they were about to undertake. The ceremony concluded with her presenting each parent-son couple the teen’s new driver’s license.

When our turn came, I and the young man who came dressed for success politely thanked the judge. I could tell by the smile on her face she sensed my son was ready to assume his new responsibility. I know I did. I could tell by the way he was dressed.

I arrived early for a business meeting the other day. The meeting had been scheduled well in advance and the list of participants included about a dozen team members. When the scheduled start time had arrived, there were just two of us in the room.

Over the course of the next ten minutes, the other participants drifted in. Three of those who arrived late chose seats at the end of the table opposite the host. They spent the entire meeting pounding away on their laptop keyboards, looking up occasionally as if to appear engaged in the conversation at hand.

Another member of the team, who held a pivotal role in the implementation of the project we were discussing, left and returned twice. Sitting across from him was another participant, who despite a polite reminder from one of her colleagues, refused to silence the sound of incoming emails on her iPhone.

I began to wonder...if these participants weren't really engaged in the meeting, how could they possibly be paying attention to what was being discussed?

I’ve written before on the importance of collaboration in the workplace. Collaboration results from listening. Listening occurs when everyone is paying attention. Paying attention to the host and others who are speaking shows a respect for other viewpoints and encourages thoughtful debate. Each team member is given the opportunity for input, informed decisions are made, and everyone leaves the room on the same page.

The next time you hold a meeting, you may want to share this advice from Television Anchor Diane Sawyer, "I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention." It could mean the difference between a wildly successful group effort and a mediocre one for your organization.

For more on meeting behavior, see:
- Staying Professional in Virtual Meetings
- Attention Trainers and Presenters: Think Before Speaking
- Help Wanted: Applicants with Boardroom Etiquette

In today's meeting, there were two very strong-willed executives. The goal was to select the preferred headline for their elevator speech (answer to "What do you do?").

Joan, was willing to agree to headline two if the group felt strongly in favor. Christine really wanted headline two. And boy did she let everyone know it. She nearly bullied the room to accept headline two. Can you guess who was the voice of opposition? Yes, Joan. Why? Because human nature kicked in. She become defensive and reactive.

Christine had two options to make the decision process smooth. She could have (1) met all of the key decision makers before the meeting and (b) used subtle ways of influencing and persuading during the meeting. 

When you have a project or idea you are especially passionate about, think about how you can influence and persuade...will you gently nudge, assertively push, or shove them off a cliff?

* names changed

Last month I attended another great event from the local Meeting Planners International (MPI) Potomac Chapter.  Carolyn Kepcher was the luncheon keynote speaker. You may know Carolyn as one of the original judges on Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Now she is running an advice and self-help site geared toward women called Work Her Way.

When it was time for us to move from networking to lunch, we were greeted by a card leave-behind at our seats as you can see in the picture below.  The card front and back are very well done from branding, messaging, and call-to-action perspectives.

All too often we forget that every single communication item tells your business story. 



We have various guides and templates in the office. Guides for writing blogs, articles, and tip guides. We have a brand guide for color, font, format, and logo use. What we don't have is a consolidated list, in one place, of all our mantras--the phrases, statements, aha's, rules, etc.--that "guide" us as we create and deliver content, messages, and great business stories.

Here are our top 50. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to your business stories. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.

1.    It’s all about them.
2.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
3.    Write to the 10th grade level.
4.    Be memorable.
5.    Use humor if you want to.
6.    Content is king.
7.    Relationships matter.
8.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
9.    Know your elevator speech / elevator pitch / mission statement (core business story).
10.    Ensure your core business story is unified throughout all communication materials.
11.    Your brand story is everything.
12.    Success stories are key to differentiation.
13.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
14.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
15.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
16.    Everything you write, speak, and record online is a business story.
17.    Content first. Design second.
18.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
19.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your employees).
20.    Everyone builds relationships through networking.
21.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
22.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
23.    Blogs are for sharing, educating, and inspiring…not selling.
24.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
25.    Generating genuine interest in your product/service is the first step in building a relationship.
26.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
27.    Write in your authentic voice.
28.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
29.    Words really, really matter.
30.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
31.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
32.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
33.    Speak in headlines.
34.    Write and speak conversationally.
35.    Treat every client like your best client.
36.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.
37.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
38.    Change is a choice.
39.    Deliver on the expected experience.
40.    Create your own success momentum.
41.    Be a student everyday.
42.    Be a deliberate networker.
43.    Be a deliberate communicator.
44.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
45.    Be a mentor.
46.    Be a whole body communicator.
47.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
48.    Inspire Action: facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
49.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions: offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.
50.    People are at the heart of every great story.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou, American Poet

“Your first 10 words are more important than your next 10,000.”
— Elmer Wheeler, “Tested Selling Institute,” Late 1940s

“Remember that the person you’re about to meet can become as important to you as someone you’ve known for years.”
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Life's Little Instruction Book, 6/2002 Calendar

“I have no use for engines.  Give me the right word...and I will move the world.”
— Joseph Conrad, Novelist, 1857 – 1924

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
— Plato, Philosopher, 427 BC – 347 BC

“The character of a man is known from his conversations”
— Menandros Chiaramonti, Greek dramatist and comedy writer, 342 BC – 292 BC

"Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés"
"Chance favors only the prepared mind"
— Louis Pasteur, Chemist and microbiologist, 1822 – 1895

“The customer rules”
— Turkish business credo, as shared to me by my friend, Ilbay Ozbay

“Conversation in the U.S. is a competitive exercise in which the first person to draw a breath is declared the listener.”
— James Nathan Miller, “The Art of Intelligent Listening," Readers Digest, vol 127, September 1965

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
— Mark Twain, American humorist, lecturer, writer, 1835 – 1910

 

I'm a huge fan of great quotes. I use them all of the time in my articles, blogs, and presentations. Would love to read yours. Please take a moment and add your favorites in the comments section below.

I was recently asked to assist with the launch of a new marketing initiative. It was a premium offer targeted to a small segment of customers, affording them an opportunity to join a movement to address a global problem they cared deeply about.

My job was to inform and excite the organization’s customer-facing associates about this new initiative. If I could ignite their passion for helping others to improve their lives, they would feel empowered to lead the effort in recruiting customers to join the movement. 

The new marketing initiative was designed to solve a global problem. The problem was widespread and there were many causes. It was easy for the employees to wonder how one person could possibly make an impact.   

To ignite their passion, I used a business story that allowed me to show how one person could make a difference. I told the story of a man who spent his morning throwing starfish that had washed up on the beach back into the ocean. The beach was long and the starfish were many. If they were left on the beach, they would surely die. When the man was asked by a passerby how he could possibly make a difference when there were so many, he tossed yet another starfish in and said he was sure he had made a difference to that one.       

As I told the story, the room became quiet. The audience was attentive and engaged. Questions and comments flowed freely during the discussion that followed. One member of the audience later told me the story brought a tear to her eye. It was then that I knew I had succeeded in igniting their passion for helping others to improve their lives.

What business stories are you using to ignite passion within your organization?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Recruiting for the Next 100 Years

My youngest son and I recently spent an afternoon with our Boy Scout Troop, helping with its annual Fall recruiting campout. As a Troop Instructor, he had volunteered to speak to the parents of prospective Scouts about cold weather camping.

As a former Scoutmaster and parent, I offered to assist him with his presentation. I brought my backpack and unloaded my gear on the tent platform that would serve as his stage. I sat in the background and listened intently as he shared stories of his camping experiences with the adult visitors. When it came time for the demonstration part of his talk, I slipped into my sleeping bag and allowed him to show the best way to stay warm on a cold night. And, finally, I chimed in whenever he needed help during the question and answer period at the end.

During the hike out of the woods and back to our car, a number of the parents we had spoken to stopped to tell us how much they enjoyed his presentation. What impressed them most, they said, was the leadership he showed and how we worked together in a very cohesive and supportive way. It spoke volumes about the bonds of brotherhood that can form between a dad and his son when both are active participants in a quality Boy Scout program – the kind of bonds the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been helping to build for the last 100 years.

The thoughts and feelings we left the adults with that afternoon helped form their impression of the BSA brand. The image of a young man teaching adults how to camp in the cold, while his father played the role as his cheerful assistant, reinforced the BSA brand message of building self-reliance through service to others. It’s a story that will be told over and over again in BSA recruiting efforts for the next 100 years. 

What words and images are you using to tell the story of your brand?      

I found out about SlideShare.net's annual contest a little late--just two days before the submission window closed. Well, lo and behold, they extended the contest entry another week to November 15.

If you have a moment, please vote for my presentation at SlideShare. It will appear like the first image below. This is one of my favorite topics, The Deliberate Storyteller. Here's a brief description.

The Deliberate Storyteller:  Turn Your Business Stories and Key Messages into Your Competitive Advantage
Business stories are memorable, powerful packages that get prospects to say, “Tell me more.” They are the words, images, and sounds you use throughout your sales and marketing materials. Examples include presentations, elevator speech, LinkedIn profile, advertising, and website. Learn how to develop high impact messages and select the right business stories through an easy-to-follow process. Stay engaged with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

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