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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4 Retro Ways to Connect with Modern Audiences

Everywhere we look lately, from entertainment to business, what’s old is new again. Well established franchises are selling out movie theaters, the toy aisle is straight out of the eighties and businesses everywhere are turning back the clock to stand out in this fast-paced, digital world.

Clearly Conveyed Communications -- We give you a voice.

How can you go retro to connect with customers and grow your business today?

Make it personal with a handwritten note. When you receive a handwritten note, card or letter, it feels more personal. The recipient will appreciate that you took the time to put your thoughts on paper. The next time you want to thank a loyal customer or employee, don’t send an email. Jot down why you appreciate the recipient and how much you value the relationship, job he’s doing, etc. A little writing will go a long way!

How House of Cards is Winning the Marketing Game

Develop long-term relationships. Relationship marketing is a buzzword today, but the concept is straight out of a bygone era. Take the time to get to know your clients and employees, business partners and vendors. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul, not just a short-term sale. People want to do business with people they trust and that takes time to develop.

Give your audience your undivided attention. Viewers loved the alcohol carts in offices on Mad Men, but many of them missed the point. The ad men (and few women) would sit down and spend time with their clients when they stopped in. They weren’t too busy running from meeting to meeting to listen to their clients’ challenges and concerns. Many creative solutions were born over Old Fashioneds with no outside interruptions.

Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Embrace paper in the digital age. In an age of email and the cloud, using paper is one way to grab recipients’ waning attention. Feature direct mail in your next marketing campaign, and reorder your physical business cards. In fact, go old school — embossing, engraving, bold lettering and colors set off with white space — to stand out from your competition. Going all digital removes your audience’s sense of touch, which limits their sensory experience while interacting with your brand.

In Summary

Handwritten notes, developing long-term relationships, giving your undivided attention and embracing paper will help you connect with today’s audiences. Don’t be afraid to be different, even if that means being inspired by a bygone era.

We’re grabbing our fedoras to head out for Old Fashioneds and Vodka Martinis with clients. Care to join us?

Embracing the future with help from the past,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about building relationships, your communications needs or otherwise):
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Want Your Business to Flourish? Kill Your Sacred Cows

What’s holding your business back? Probably a sacred cow.

Death to all Sacred Cows: How successful businesses put the old rules out to pasture

Death to All Sacred Cows is a business book worth reading, no matter what business you’re in.

A what?! You’ve heard them before — those magical sayings in the business world that savvy businessmen and women everywhere regard as sacred.

The customer is always right. 
Teams create the best solutions. 
Always trust your research. 

Here’s the problem with sacred cows: always and never are rarely a good idea in the business world, a place which is constantly moving, changing and adapting.

“Businesses that only look to the past to guide their futures can be doomed to failure. In a rapidly changing world, anything dated tends to be dangerous.”

We’re not saying to forget your traditions or roots; they shouldn’t be the sole decision makers within your walls. You need to make decisions based on the current situation by looking at all of your options. Making decisions based solely on past successes can cause a company to be afraid to take risks or try new things. Success breeds success, until it doesn’t.

“The point is, in order to prepare for the future you need to unchain yourself from the strictures of the past. Let the past help and inform you; just don’t let it hold you back.”

Here’s one of our favorite sacred cows: the customer is always right. Don’t get us wrong; customers are critical to the success of your business. You need people to buy your products and services. We’re lucky to work with some great customers at CCC, but that doesn’t mean they’re always right. (Neither are we.)

Unless your business operates in an industry we’re not aware of, your customers are human beings. Human beings are fallible (yep, all of us), so customers are not always right. Of course, you want to provide the best customer service and experience in the world. You need to review each situation and understand when a customer is being unreasonable or is just plain wrong. (It happens, but if you work with great people, it doesn’t happen often. 🙂 )

“We’re just saying that slavishly kowtowing to the idea that the customer is the ultimate authority on how your business should operate is a surefire way to wind up with an inoperable business.”

In conclusion, use your brains. If you’re smart enough to run a business or be a successful businessman/businesswoman, trust your gut and decision-making skills. Don’t hide behind a sacred cow; it will kick you in the face eventually. (And read Death to All Sacred Cows for sound business advice and pure entertainment.)

Your Feedback
What is your favorite sacred cow to kill?
Have you read Death to All Sacred Cows? What’s your feedback?
What other business books would you recommend?

Eat, Pray, Love — In Business Too
Blink: The Power of Snap Decisions & First Impressions
Winning as the Underdog: Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

p.s. I’m not being paid to recommend this book. I just enjoyed it that much!
p.p.s. No real cows were harmed while writing this article (or the book, to my knowledge).

Your favorite bookworm,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about sacred cows, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Awesome Marketing Concepts Your Small Business Shouldn’t Overlook

Cleary Conveyed Communications business card

Marketing a new company can be tough. You don’t know the best ways of reaching your audience in the beginning, and discovering the best promotional ideas involves a process of trial and error. While the digital landscape is a hot property, traditional marketing vehicles can still work in today’s high-tech world.

Business Cards

As the infographic below shows, business cards are (still) effective marketing tools. They help you make a good first impression, and ensure you stay top of mind with clients and prospects. Most people keep business cards they receive for future needs. While it’s tempting to go all digital, a well designed business card printed on quality stock can open up a world of possibilities.

Billboard Advertising

Admit it; we all look at billboards on the side of the road. Most people think advertising on one is expensive, but billboards (or outdoor advertising) are surprisingly affordable. In fact, you can usually get one for a few hundred dollars or less. Thousands of drivers could encounter your brand who otherwise would not, and it’s a great way to expand your local reach.

TV Advertising

Ten years ago, only the largest companies could afford to pay for TV ads, but changes in the industry have forced networks to lower their prices. Businesses can now advertise on TV for less than $5,000, depending on your market. The drop in price, additional time slots and regional availability have opened the door for small businesses to compete with larger companies in this popular arena.

These marketing concepts could provide a boost for your company if you give them a shot. If your business serves a niche market, remember to target your marketing campaigns accordingly. Think big, and your company will do amazing things.

Enjoy this Business Card Must-Haves for Effective Networking infographic, and feel free to share with your clients, co-workers and fellow business professionals.

Do you carry physical business cards?

What traditional (or old school) marketing technique has worked for you?

What’s your favorite way to network?

A (business) card carrying small business owner,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about marketing, business cards or otherwise):
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Infographic Designed By http://www.allbusinesscards.com/

How To Improve Your Productivity With Mindfulness in the Workplace

Meditation Meditation by Moyan Brenn via CC BY 2.0

There has been rapid growth in workplace mindfulness programs, and there are some compelling reasons why this is a good thing!

“The enormous benefits of mindfulness at work are increasingly being recognized by employers as well as by employees. More mindfulness means more professional productivity and satisfaction, and less absenteeism, `presenteeism’ (where workers are physically present but unproductive), accidents, and workplace stress and the many psychological and physical problems that this causes. Mindfulness improves our work performance and enjoyment because it improves our decision-making ability, the quality of our working relationships, and our leadership.”
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness2

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn,”mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

You do not need to meditate to become mindful. Meditation is a tool to lead people to post-meditative mindfulness. However, as you’ll see, much of the research focuses on meditation.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

neuroplasticity

Mindfulness actually works by changing our brains! That’s what’s behind the impressive benefits of mindfulness!

Richard Davidson is the founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A major aspect of the center’s research is neuroplasticity—the ability of the adult brain to change its structure or function in an enduring way. Specifically, 1) You can train your brain to change, 2) that change is measurable and 3) new ways of thinking can change it for the better.

If you’d like to learn more about neuroplasticity, see “What is Neuroplasticity?.

Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

“The implications [of mindfulness in the workplace] are enormous. When you are mindful, you end up healthier, you end up happier. So, with an increase in mindfulness in the workplace, there is lower absenteeism, fewer healthcare costs and there is a reduction in accidents.”
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

Health

Meditation has some substantial health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even affecting cellular health. For a look at what it actually does to the body, see this Huffington Post infographic.

Emotional Resilience

Richard J. Davidson and Sara Begley co-authored The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them.

In her article “Rewiring Your Emotions“, Sara Begley discusses the idea of harnessing neuroplasticity to change how you respond emotionally to the ups and downs of life. She writes:

“I don’t know about you, but if I’m feeling miserable and someone tells me to just cheer up on the spot, I want to slug them.

Fortunately, the brain’s emotional circuits are actually connected to its thinking circuits, which are much more accessible to our conscious volition. That has been one of Davidson’s most important discoveries: the “cognitive brain” is also the “emotional brain.” As a result, activity in certain cognitive regions sends signals to the emotion-generating regions. So while you can’t just order yourself to have a particular feeling, you can sort of sneak up on your emotions via your thoughts.”

Begley continues with this example: “If the amygdalae is generating negative emotions, the left PFC sends inhibitory signals to the amygdalae, basically telling them to quiet down. As a result, the negative feelings generated by the amygdalae peter out, and you’re not mired in unhappiness or resentment.”

So emotional resilience depends on high activity in the PFC and a strong connection between it and the amygdalae. Begley prescribes mindfulness meditation as one way to strengthen the circuitry that supports emotional resilience.

Davidson_BodyMind

Happiness

Daniel Goleman, in his article “Want a Happier Brain? Try Mindfulness, presents solid evidence to back up that title.

Goleman’s discussion begins with some research done by neuroscientist Richard Davidson, whose work focuses on the emotional dynamics of the brain. Davidson discovered a correlation between left-to-right brain activity and emotional states:

“When we’re in a down mood — irritable, anxious and grouchy — our brain has high activity in the right prefrontal area, just behind the forehead. But when we’re in an upbeat mood — energized, enthusiastic, optimistic — there’s lots of activity on the left side of the prefrontal area.

Each of us has a typical ratio of left-to-right activity when we’re just at rest. And this ratio predicts fairly well our typical, day-to-day mood range.

There’s a bell curve for this ratio, like the one for IQ: most of us are in the middle, with some good days and some bad days. Those who are tipped to the far right are likely to have clinical levels of depression or anxiety. And those whose setpoint tips far to the left are able to bounce back quickly from upsets.”

Goleman goes on to describe a study led by Richard Davidson and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. This study concluded with good news — we can nudge our setpoint to the left!

“Jonny [Kabat-Zinn] taught mindfulness to a group of the biotech workers and had them practice about half an hour a day for eight weeks. Richie [Davidson] measured their brains before and after. The result: at first their emotional setpoint was tilted toward the right — they were, after all, on a hectic, 24/7 schedule. But after eight weeks, the mindfulness group on average showed a greater tilt toward the left.

What’s more, they spontaneously said that now they were in touch again with what they loved about their jobs, with why they had gotten into the field in the first place.”

Thus, the ability to “nudge our setpoint to the left” can make us happier with our work.

Focus

Meditation can be “an antidote for workplace ADD.” One of the biggest problems in the workplace today is what some have called “continuous partial attention.” Attention deficit can harm people’s ability to interact competently, impeding understanding and rapport. Lack of attention also negatively impacts individual job performance. A person’s ability to do his job is directly related to how well he can concentrate and focus.

Mindfulness meditation techniques can overcome workplace ADD by training our minds to focus on what matters in the moment and to resist distractions.

Decision Making

One aspect of good decision-making is the ability to avoid “sunk-cost bias”—our tendency to continue down a path because we’re already so far along. For example, you realize that your job is not right for you. But you don’t look for another job or go back to school, because your current position has consumed so much of your time and effort. In her Greater Good article, Hooria Jazaier, explains research conducted by Andrew Hafenbrack and colleagues. The research abstract states, “In the research reported here, we investigated the debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation on the sunk-cost bias. We conducted four studies (one correlational and three experimental); the results suggest that increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions.”

In fact, “Close analysis of the latest mindfulness research, with Jochen Reb, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Singapore Management University, for the upcoming book Mindfulness in Organisations, suggests that mindfulness techniques can have a positive effect on all our widely recognised stages of the decision-making process.” In her article, “How Mindfulness Improves Decision-Making“, Natalia Karelaia lists the four stages of the decision-making process as:

  1. Framing the decision
  2. Gathering information
  3. Coming to a conclusion
  4. Learning from feedback

For each of these four stages, Karelaia explains how mindfulness can have a positive effect on that stage.

Leadership

Mindfulness is the essence of effective leadership.

The essence of effective leadership is mindfulness, which is also the essence of charisma. When you are mindful, you are present. When you are present, people notice it. When people experience you as mindful, they then see you as authentic and trustworthy.
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

When we are mindful, we are fully connected to ourselves and to other people, and this connection allows us to lead ourselves and others from and to shared certainty, rather than individual confusion.

“Being mindful more of the time and mindless less of the time helps us be great leaders because it helps unite [us] in common goals and ways of achieving them, and frees us of our separate ideas about what needs to be done and how. When we experience mindful connectedness with the people we work with, we will be great leaders, whether we’re leading a sporting team or a hamburger shop or a multinational corporation. We are not great leaders regardless of the people we lead, we are great leaders because of them.
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

Creativity and Caring

Mindfulness practice has been shown to draw out creativity and caring. In an interesting piece, “It’s Not McMindfulness,” Barry Boyce says, “[mindfulness practice] naturally leads to inquisitiveness about our own minds and examination of how we’re connected to other people, of the causes and effects of our actions. … Leaders touched by mindfulness may find innovations to solve real problems and help make a better life.”

The Greater Good

What matters in the workplace is what matters in our lives—using every moment to learn from experience so that we grow in insight, wisdom, and compassion.
Mirabai Bush, “Mindfulness at Work: An Interview with Mirabai Bush

I’ve saved the best for last! Expanding on the “caring” benefit, let’s talk about “the greater good.”

In a superb interview on mindful.org, Elisha Goldstein talks to Mirabai Bush about how mindfulness can make our work life more meaningful. Goldstein introduces Bush as “the author of Working with Mindfulness (MP3), a key contributor to Google’s Search Inside Yourself Program, Cofounder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and so much more.”

The interview begins with a discussion of “right livelihood.” Here’s an excerpt:

Elisha: When it comes to the workplace, you have found a fundamental flaw in our minds when we think of work, like “Love is for home and discipline is for work.” One of the foundations to bringing mindfulness into the workplace is through an approach called Right Livelihood. Can you tell us more about that and the benefits?

Mirabai: I first heard the words “right livelihood” while learning to meditate in a Buddhist monastery. Meditation teacher S.N. Goenka said, “If the intention is to play a useful role in society in order to support oneself and to help others, then the work one does is right livelihood.” Other teachers expanded on that: Do work that is ethical and helpful to your personal development. Do no harm though your work. Cause no suffering to yourself or others. Use work to nourish understanding and compassion. Remember that all life is interconnected. Be honest, be mindful of what you are doing.

Other topics discussed are:

  • Mindful Listening: “a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening in the moment without trying to control it or judge it.”
  • Walking meditation: “the practice of paying close attention to the ordinary action of walking, a helpful practice for people at work, who usually walk at least sometimes during the day.”
  • A compassion practice known as “Just like me” (“Just like me, this person has known physical pain. Just like me, this person has done things she regrets. Just like me, this person wants to be happy….” and so on)

I encourage you to read the full interview.

Are you ready to try minfdfulness at your workplace?

Watch for the companion article “Introducing Mindfulness into the Workplace” on Friday! 

This is part one of a two-part series, Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. Don’t miss part two on Friday! If you’re a regular reader of the CCC blog, you’ll recognize Carol as a contributor. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

It’s All About the Bling (Even in Business)

It really is all about the bling, even in business. Presentation, image, packaging… call it what you want. Time and time again, I’m reminded of this fact.

It's all about the bling!

It’s all about the bling — even in business.

Whether a client compliments my laptop bag (love Wenger Swiss Army!) or a prospect is impressed by a smartly packaged presentation, it matters. Yes, substance is important, but you have to wow people with the presentation so they’ll listen to what you have to say.

I’m not talking about being shallow or falsely advertising what you’re all about. It’s about attracting people to give yourself a chance — a hot prospect, a potential business partner, a new boss. Of course you need to impress to continue to develop the relationship.

Disagree? Have you ever bought a more expensive product at the store due to its impressive packaging? Picked up a book based on its eye-catching cover? Noticed someone because of his tailored suit?

If you’re honest, you probably have. We all have. Whether you call it judging a book by its cover or going with your gut instinct, it’s not always a bad thing. According to best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell, it usually turns out all right.

Thoughts?

How have you been swayed by “bling” (i.e. presentation, image, packaging) in the past?

How has presentation, image or packaging helped you succeed in business or life?

Cheers,
Jaime

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LinkedIn: Are You Connected?

All of your colleagues and fellow business professionals keep telling you to get on LinkedIn, but you’re not looking for a job. So what’s the point, right?

LinkedIn: Are You Connected?

Wrong. LinkedIn is the Rolodex of the 21st century and so much more: an organized way to store your professional contacts, an easy way to follow up with new connections (made on or offline) and an amazing way to connect on business ventures across town and across the world.

How should you stand out on this popular networking site? It depends on your objectives, but the following tips should help you break free from your competition.

Do

  1. Be active. People tend to set up their profile and walk away. You don’t need to post as much as on other social platforms, but it is helpful to share valuable content at least a few times a week.
  2. Set up notifications. Remember that LinkedIn is a great place for new opportunities: business ventures, clients, careers, volunteering. Set up notifications, so you know when someone contacts you and can respond accordingly.
  3. Engage. Don’t just connect with people and forget about them. Cultivate your network! If you come across a resource that would benefit a connection, send it to him. Take some time — even 5 minutes twice a week — scrolling through your feed to like, comment or share on your connections’ posts. This is a helpful way to stay abreast of the latest news and stay top of mind with clients, prospects and business professionals.
  4. Help. Are you knowledgeable about the topic of a group discussion? Chime in! Do you have a solution for someone’s problem? Share! At it’s core, LinkedIn is a forum for business professionals around the world to connect, collaborate and grow.
  5.  Be selective. Some people are obsessed with having the most connections, but it’s really about quality, not quantity. Only send connection requests to people who genuinely interest you: a possible client, new connection at a conference, colleague or possible partner in a business venture, for example.

At it’s core, LinkedIn is a forum for business professionals around the world to connect, collaborate and grow.

Don’t

  1. Spam. Some people use social media like they do email marketing — to spam you with constant sales pitches, special offers and information about them. It’s OK to post this information sometimes, but remember the tried-and-true customer mantra, “What’s in it for me?” Post valuable information for your audience, and don’t feel the need to post constantly. (So please think long and hard before connecting your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.)
  2. Spam. This isn’t just about posting updates; it’s also about sending messages and posting to groups. Don’t spam anywhere. While an effective message to new connections, old contacts or prospects can open doors, blasting people with tired sales pitches, daily specials or repeated requests for ‘favors’ can slam them shut.
  3. Always have your hand out. One of the numerous benefits of social media is the ability to connect with people from all over the world, including leaders in your industry or field. These ‘rock stars’ can be a tremendous asset to growing your network and creating opportunities. However, don’t constantly ask these folks (or anyone for that matter) for favors or hit them with a request right after connecting. They don’t like to be used either.
  4. Stalk. Just hang up the phone with the HR director at a company you’re interviewing at next week? You may want to hold off on sending a connection request. Some people aren’t comfortable connecting with prospective employees in order to avoid showing favoritism. Did you meet with a prospect for coffee? Feel free to send him a connection request with a thank you message, but don’t go overboard. Inundating him with 5 messages over the next 2 days isn’t necessary.

Enjoy these tips to enhance your LinkedIn experience, and let us if you’re able to put them to good use. Keep an eye out for additional posts in this series: LinkedIn: The Essence of a Profile and Are LinkedIn Groups Working For You? (If you have any additional requests for posts on LinkedIn, let us know!)

Connect with us:

Do you agree with the aforementioned tips? What did we miss?

Have you landed a new client, career opportunity or business venture on LinkedIn?

How do you use LinkedIn vs. other social platforms?

p.s. If you’re on the largest professional networking site in the world, connect with CCC. We’ll be happy to answer any questions or offer a few tips.

Cheers,
Jaime

Connect with CCC! We’re social creatures.
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