What Makes a Successful Public Speaker? These 3 Key Points

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a networking luncheon hosted by my alma mater’s alumni association. While I always look forward to meeting fellow Flashes, I was particularly interested in hearing our city’s mayor speak.

Kent State University Alumni Association Akron Networking Luncheon

Yours truly (second from left) enjoying the Akron Networking Luncheon with fellow Golden Flashes. (Photo used with permission: http://bit.ly/2dxyTIs)

Mayor Horrigan was as good as I thought he would be, which made me think about what makes public speakers successful.

Start with Common Ground — The mayor was a Kent State alumni like the attendees, so he started off reliving his time at the university. As he was talking about a pivotal moment early in his college career, I found myself thinking back to my time at the school and the impact it has had on my life. By starting with what you have in common, you begin to develop a deeper connection with your audience.

Have a Conversation — While the person in front of the room is doing most, if not all, of the speaking, that doesn’t mean you have to be formal or talk down to your audience. Use language your listeners are familiar with, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical terms. Interact with your audience as much as you can, given the environment, and leave enough time for a Q and A session. Oftentimes that is the most memorable part of the event due to the diversity of voices and ideas included.

Step Away from the PowerPoint — I’m a big fan of visual aids when appropriate, but the PowerPoint may be the most abused aid, or crutch, of all time. The next time you’re speaking to a group, forgo the PowerPoint and let your creativity take over. Use a giant notepad or wall size Post-It Notes to convey key points. Share a short video or photos to embed a special message or moment into your audience’s minds. Some of the best talks I’ve given and attended had no visual aids at all.

As I was kicking around this article in my head, I came across a fantastic article from Forbes on the same subject. It’s worth a read, Adele fan or not!

Public Speaking Spotlight

What tips would you recommend to a public speaker?

Do you take your audience into consideration when speaking or do you have a ‘signature style?’

What is the best talk that you’ve given and attended? Feel free to link to videos or transcripts in the comments!

Speaking on public speaking,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about public speaking, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Think Outside of the Booth: Ideas to Promote Your Brand at Events

Last month, CCC traveled to Indianapolis to work an event for a client, and it was an amazing experience. In addition to fueling the conversation with 32,000 firefighters from around the world, we walked away with some creative branding ideas.

A turnout jacket cling on a bathroom mirror

Think outside of the booth when promoting your brand!

While your booth doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be boring, there are so many other opportunities to grab attendees’ attention at an event. Take the above static cling, for example. It was hard to miss this manufacturer’s ad of a turnout coat on full-length mirrors in bathrooms around the convention center. It’s crazy. You can almost see yourself in TECGEN® PPE’s gear, can’t you? You might as well go to the company’s booth and try some on.

TECGEN® PPE's unique hallway display shattered convention!

TECGEN® PPE shattered convention — and expectations — with this hallway display at a firefighter conference.

If you somehow missed TECGEN® in the bathroom, the company stopped attendees in their tracks elsewhere too. Instead of shattering glass (to remove a fire extinguisher), the manufacturer shattered convention with its newly redesigned turnout gear — and hallway display. In addition, the company’s unique display was in a high traffic area right outside of a doorway to one of the exhibit areas and a food court area.

Not to be outdone, MSA Safety’s booth was so hot it was smoking. Literally! This may be one of the coolest booth ideas we’ve ever seen.

And we haven’t even talked about the well-placed floor graphics (stairs, anyone?), ceiling danglers, electronic signs, individual event sponsorships, fire trucks in lobbies and so much more.

Remember, your event experience doesn’t begin or end at your booth. That’s just where the party’s at!

p.s. If you’re planning to exhibit at an event or planning an event itself, we’d love to help! Drop us a line so we can help you maximize your event experience!

Cheers,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on events or otherwise):
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I’m grateful for… “I have an app for that.”

Save anywhere with Pocket

I recently read a blog post by Lifehacker asking readers what free apps they are most thankful for this year. That’s when I realized how much I utilize apps to make my life, both personal and professional, run smoothly. What are your favorite apps (paid or free)?

Here are 7 apps that have become a part of my regular routine (in alphabetical order):

  •  Dropbox — this awesome app allows me to access my files anywhere from any of my devices. Also, it’s an easy way to collaborate on projects due to its sharing capabilities. Dropbox was a life saver when I was working on a printing project with a customer in China earlier this year and working with large art files that needed several revisions.
  • Evernote — my favorite note-taking app! I use Evernote daily for work and play. From keeping a running shopping list to making note of possible gift ideas, this app is easy to use and share with others. In fact, it’s my app of choice for gathering quotes, successful case studies and ideas from events that I work for clients.

  • ING Direct — I love banking with ING, who was recently bought by Capital One and is becoming Capital One 360. I’m crossing my fingers that they, and their app, won’t change for the worse (which I’m sure it won’t). I love being able to check my account balances, pay bills, transfer money, find an ATM, cash checks and more from the convenience of my phone — anywhere at any time.
  • Mint.com — my financial snapshot at my fingertips. Plug in your accounts so you can easily keep an eye on your finances — loans, investments, checking and savings, mortgage, etc. If it affects your finances, it’s there. Budget, see where you spend your money and save for those goals, like that vacation on a tropical island.

mint.com app

  • MyFitnessPal — this app allows me to track calories, fat, sugar, sodium, etc. and view a snapshot for the day, week or month. Enter your exercise as well, so you can see your net calorie intake and stay on track fitness-wise. The database has thousands of foods already entered, or you can enter your own, like my legendary peanut butter cream pie. Remember, a sound body means a sound mind too.
  • Pocket — I’m always coming across interesting headlines or intriguing websites right as it’s my turn to check out, a lunch appointment shows up or the light turns green. No problem, I just save it to my Pocket. This handy app lets you save favorites for viewing later on any device and share easily to social networks or non-social friends as well (i.e. text messaging, email).

Save anywhere with Pocket

  • Pulse — It’s 2012 and my newspaper is now on the Web, customized to me. Stay up-to-date on the latest news anywhere via any one of your devices, and easily share what interests you to your social networks or save for reading later when you’re stuck in line. Create pages so you can flip through content similar to the sections in a physical newspaper; only now, you create the sections, specify the content and don’t have to recycle the paper later.

So if you run into me in the real world while I’m on my phone, I’m probably using one of these apps. They’re game changers, and they have improved my life for the better.

What apps have found a permanent place in your life? I’d love to hear your favorites! While you’re at it, remember to be thankful for some other things in your life too.

You might also like: 50 Things I’m Grateful For…

Image credits: Evernote, Mint.com, Pocket

Be Thankful,
Jaime

“We’re getting the band back together.”

Just think how much easier it would have been for Jake and Elwood Blues if they had social media to help their cause. Of course, it wouldn’t have been nearly entertaining for us if they did.

Blues Brothers car

The getaway mobile that got the band back together!
Photo courtesy of Stig Nygaard via Flickr

Are you getting the band back together? Here’s four ways social media can help:

  1. Create an event on Facebook. This works for a public event or one where you’d only like to invite your friends or specific individuals. Get a head count and discuss details to make sure your event is a big hit. Post highlights and pictures/videos during and after the event to continue the momentum. Encourage attendees to snap their own pictures and shoot videos while tagging your company’s or brand’s page to spread the word.
  2. Google+ Events is a helpful planning tool for in-person or virtual get together’s (Google+ Hangouts). You can even invite people not yet on this social media platform via email, so check it out for your next party. Create a ‘circle’ of attendees to easily disseminate information to them.
  3. Finalize details and locate attendees as they arrive on Twitter. No, there’s not a specific ‘events’ function, but this micro-blogging platform is perfect for promoting your event, asking others if they’re attending or to find out if someone your meeting for lunch is already at the restaurant. You can also ‘live tweet’ an event by tweeting updates while they’re happening. Create a hashtag (#myevent) for your event so virtual (and even in-person) attendees can easily follow.
  4. Blog about your event to raise awareness and create excitement. Ask others to guest blog so attendees can get multiple viewpoints and learn more about specific activities, panels, etc. Engage attendees by asking for their feedback via comments and polls. Your event’s story can be continued during the festivities to update those who couldn’t make it or fill in the blanks for attendees who missed a specific session or interesting point. Add pictures, videos and links to follow-up content to pique interest and continue the conversation.

How have you used social media to plan, promote or follow up for your events? I’d love to hear about your ideas below. Feel free to ask questions you may have about upcoming events on your schedule.

Enjoy today!
Jaime

5 Ways to Spice Up Employee Appreciation

Most of us know by now how valuable it is to keep good employees. Knowledgeable, happy employees are valuable assets to a company, helping to reduce costs, maximize productivity (and revenue) and enhance your company’s brand or image.

There are a plethora of ways to thank valuable, hardworking employees. Following are 5 ways that you may not have thought about.

1. Bowl them over — A bowling outing can be a great way to boost morale and encourage bonding. Furthermore, many alleys also offer other perks, including a variety of food options to whet nearly any palate, arcade games, bocce, billiards, happy hours, karaoke, transportation to/from the event and variations to the standard bowling experience — black lights, special rules, etc.

cosmic bowling

A bowler enjoys the atmosphere of cosmic bowling.
Image courtesy of m4tik via Flickr

2. Cycle tours / special rides — A group bike tour or specialty ride can add some fun and memories to an otherwise typical day. These experiences can be turned into a team building event on their own or inject some serious fun into company picnics, appreciation days or a thank you for hitting key goals or metrics. Employees won’t forget getting out on the open road in an entirely different way anytime soon.

Rocket Ship Car

The Rocket Ship Car
“The Happiest Ride on Earth”

3.  A spa-like experience — Reward hardworking employees for pulling off a complex, last minute        project, crushing their quarterly goals or successfully making it through a crazy time of the year (i.e. tax deadline for accountants, a national convention). Various packages are available for many different budgets, and your staff will enjoy being pampered and waited on. From express massages to full service pedicures (yes, gentleman too), your relaxed employees will be grateful and energized.

4.  Casino night — Bring the thrill of Vegas to your staff! Employees will receive chips and move throughout the casino to play a variety of games. Friendly dealers will show less experienced players how the games work and bring an air of excitement to the festivities. Players redeem chips for raffle tickets and use these tickets to win prizes. Everyone has a chance to win, and best of all, there are no losers because no real gambling is involved. Hit the jackpot!

5.  A breath of fresh air — Nature has amazing restorative tendencies and employees will relish an opportunity to get out of the office. Thank your staff with a special trip to a zoo, an amazing retreat at a national park or a day trip on a scenic railroad. Attendees can unwind to a beautiful backdrop and rejuvenate for the next big project.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

Hocking Hills State Park is a great place to soak in the beauty of nature.

Remember, a fun experience can be had by all in a number of settings. Employees will appreciate your efforts to recognize their hard work and dedication and be inspired to continue to give their all to your organization.

What’s the most memorable employee recognition

experience you’ve had?

Enjoy your weekend,

Jaime

Sponsorship: Your Name Here

I was sitting at an Akron Aeros (AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) baseball game the other night when a hitter broke his bat. Shortly after he was thrown out at first (and the pitcher danced out of the way of the jagged bat head), the PA announcer said, “That broken bat was brought to you by MDF Bats. For major league quality bats…” Seriously.

Your Name Here!

Sponsorship opportunities are virtually limitless.

Sponsorship opportunities abound around nearly every turn, from sports to events and beyond. Some companies will do anything to see their name in lights while others question the ROI (return on investment) of such a commitment. Does your company utilize sponsorships as part of your marketing mix? How do you gauge success?

My association with sponsorships started young although I didn’t realize it at the time. No, my parents didn’t sell my forehead space to a company for $XXX. As most t-ball and little league players, my team was sponsored by a local company (which basically meant paying for the shirts. If they splurged for ice cream once in awhile after a game, that was a bonus). Of course, I didn’t think of the company as a sponsor; it was just a name on the front of my shirt (which was usually covered in enough mud or dirt to wipe out any exposure on my end). Hey, I was a catcher.

In high school, I became seriously interested in racing, especially NASCAR. Anyone familiar with the popular racing series knows that sponsors are essential to the sport today. That led to seeking sponsors for charity and/or non-profit events which eventually spilled into my marketing and event planning position where finalizing sponsors for our events was vital.

Can you measure the ROI of sponsorship?

Companies measure the ROI (return on investment) of sponsorships in different ways and some don’t measure them at all.

So maybe I’m biased, but I believe that sponsorships can really pay off if they’re a good fit and are marketed correctly, preferably on both sides. Speaking of the Aeros, I became familiar with my current HVAC company, Blind & Sons, due to their sponsorship of the team. Also, I recognized at some point that I patronized sponsors of NASCAR drivers I liked without even realizing it. Apparently most NASCAR fans do… According to studies, NASCAR fans buy over $3 billion of licensed products annually and are 3 times as likely to try and purchase sponsors’ products and services. In fact, NASCAR fans are considered the most brand loyal in all of sports. [Source: Race Day Sponsor]

As someone who solicited sponsors, I always tried to ensure the companies I worked with received as much value and exposure as possible. I also tried to target companies who were a good fit for a particular opportunity and would market the sponsorship on their end as well. To me, those were the sponsorships that made everyone happy.

So, have you worked with a company you noticed through sponsorship? If so, what were the results? (As the saying goes… you can have the best marketing in the world, but if the product or service doesn’t live up to expectations, ultimately it doesn’t matter.) I have worked with companies found via sponsorship and sold companies successful sponsorships, so I’m a believer in the process, if handled correctly. Besides, who can resist their name in lights?

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on sponsorships as a buyer or sponsor.

Cheers,
Jaime

Event Planning: You Need to Have a Plan

Have you ever tried your hand at event planning before? Even the most basic party or get-together (in your mind, at least) can turn into a stressful occasion when you’re in charge of all the details. Now think about putting on a conference or tradeshow for 500 or more of your closest friends.

No matter the size, the key to event planning is having a plan.

The most mundane details can pop up to haunt you onsite if you haven’t tied them down ahead of time. Trust me, I’m as spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants as they come, and I’m serious about having a plan for any event I’m putting on. Masking drape color, onsite inventory and task lists, personnel schedules and dress all need to be thought of before the big event.

Dress as in the clothes you’re going to wear? Yes, the last thing you need to worry about while running around onsite is not having appropriate shoes or forgetting formal clothing for that big Awards Dinner. Think about each day or event and what you will be doing in order to avoid wishing you had packed a whole lot differently (or any embarrassing moments).

Don’t assume that you’ll remember anything onsite. If you do, it will be a bonus. If you’re giving a speech, at least have note cards on hand in case you draw a big blank when looking out at the audience.

Another reminder that applies to any event you’re throwing… have any contact information you could possibly need on hand (preferably in your phone). Then you’ll be able to quickly get a hold of your hotel contact, colleague, caterer or sister-in-law when something comes up — or goes down — that you need help with.

Events can be fun to plan and rewarding when done well, especially when you plan to perfection.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend, and a sincere thank you to all who have served, and continue to serve today, to protect what makes America great.

Jaime