Kelly Vandever - Communications for Everyone

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 4 – Whoops Two More “Before You Speak” Points

In Twitter & Presenting on January 31, 2011 at 5:21 pm

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I can’t believe I almost forgot this point!

Let me start by confessing that I am a learning junky.  I love to attend webinars and live events with educational content.  I especially love watching a good speaker.  But I know, and I’m guessing you do too, that the speaker doesn’t have to be a good presenter to get great value out of the material they present.

At a recent in-person event I attended, the speaker’s delivery wasn’t that good – but he had excellent content and I got a lot of value out of the presentation. There were only a couple of us tweeting during the presentation and we’re both nice people so we never would have tweeted disparaging comments about the speaker.  But not all audiences are kind.

So while maybe it should go without saying, I’m gonna say it…  Before you speak in front of an audience – be good.

Please don’t misunderstand.  When I say “be good,” I don’t mean you have to deliver a speech with the eloquence of President Obama.  What I do mean is make sure you’ve taken care of the basics.  Know your audience and what they care about.  Provide content that is meaningful and relevant to the audience.  Speak about topics you’re knowledgeable on and can speak passionately about.  Don’t read your notes or your PowerPoint slides.  Have great slides with lots of pictures and few words.  Practice your presentation.  Do the things that I’ve talked about on other blog posts on this site.  Care enough about your audience to put together a presentation that will help them.

It is the failure to “be good” that has caused the Twitter backchannel to turn ugly.  And while I may not agree with those who tweet mean things if they don’t get what they want out of a presentation, I certainly can relate to the frustration of having my time wasted.  Respect your audience by being good and they’ll respect you with their tweets.

Your Session Hashtag

Depending on organizers of your event, you may or may not have a session hashtag assigned to you by those who planned the meeting.  If they have assigned you a hashtag, honor them by using the hashtag they’ve assigned.

If the organizers have not assigned you a hashtag, then select one yourself keeping the following thoughts in mind.

  • Don’t make the hashtag too long

    You will be encouraging people to tweet questions and tweet content they find valuable during your presentation.  It’s hard to tweet anything meaningful if a preponderance of the 140 characters is taken up by a long session hashtag.

  • Make the hashtag memorable

    Use a hashtag related to the title of your presentation or to your name.  This can help your audience members more easily remember it while tweeting or afterwards if they want to review the Twitter stream afterwards.

  • Check to see if anyone is already using the hashtag

    Using or do a search to see if there are any current Twitter users who are already using the hashtag you’re considering.  If there are a quite a few tweets using the hashtag, I recommend finding another.  Having a unique hashtag that is not being used by others will make things easier for you during your actual session.

Seriously, the fun starts with the next post!

Sorry to tease you last post that the fun stuff would start today… but these were two really important points to make before we leap into your actual session time.

Come back tomorrow and I promise to begin with the fun stuff!


Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 3 – Engage Before Your Presentation

In Twitter & Presenting on January 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm

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Start the Conversation before You Present

I’m scheduled to speak at a breakout session on February 5th for the social media conference SoCon in Atlanta (more info at  I started tweeting about #SoCon11 on January 6th, the same day I first saw my mug on the SoCon speakers’ web page and figured they couldn’t change their minds!

Other than being elated and honored to be asked to speak, why would I tweet about #SoCon11?  Consider this…

I myself have just over 400 followers on Twitter.  From January 6 to today, January 28th, I’ve been retweeted or had my tweet posted on a Twitter summary blog by 7 people – 5 of whom I know and 2 I don’t (thanks y’all!).  But get this… between those 7 people, they have 18,722 followers!  So let’s break down what I’m doing and why.

What to Tweet

What do you guess is the number one criticism of Twitter?  From my experience it’s been along the lines of, “Why would I want to know what you’re doing?  I could care less if you’re brushing your teeth!” So as I was preparing my tweets for SoCon, I didn’t want to be all – Look at me, I’m speaking at SoCon! A little of that may be OK.  I know some of my followers are super encouraging of my career and, dare I say, even fans of my speaking.  But there are plenty of other good (maybe better) things to tweet!

Show the Event Organizer Some Love

Because of my tweets, potentially 18,722 more people could have learned about SoCon.  Now, did all 18,722 people see the tweets?  Not a chance.  Did any of the tweets result in more people signing up for SoCon?  I have no way of knowing.  But do you think the event organizers appreciate getting more attention for their event?  You betcha!

All my tweets had the #SoCon11 hashtag and a link back to the conference website.  If anyone of those 18,722 were curious, they certainly had the information they needed to explore.

Provide Value

Most of my tweets were chunks of advice that I’ll discuss during my session at SoCon.  Why would I do that? Why would I give away what I have to say?

I know there are a lot of great breakout sessions going on during SoCon.  If the readers are interested in the subject matter and these chunks of information resonate with them, then perhaps they’ll be more likely to choose my session feeling confident that they will get great content by attending my session.  (And I won’t disappointment!)

Start a Conversation

Collectively, any audience is going to know more than any one speaker.  Tweeting questions ahead of time can be an excellent way to learn from others.  In one of my tweets, I mentioned that my favorite way to follow a conference was using  Then I asked, “What’s yours?”  That tweet got some attention, taught some people about a tool that they weren’t aware of and opened up the question to see if anyone had a better way.  As it turned out, I didn’t get a reply to the question part – so TweetChat remains my favorite!

Make New Friends and Keep the Old

In addition to planned tweets related to my appearance at the conference, I’ve been checking out other tweets with the #SoCon11 hashtag.  I’ve chatted via Twitter with friends who are going to SoCon and those who can’t make it this year, but plan to follow the Twitter stream.  I’ve provided a question to the person conducting the panel interview during the opening session.  I’ve retweeted messages from the event organizers.

As you follow people, as you engage in these conversations on line, you really do get to know them better, which makes seeing them in person all the more exciting.  It gives those considering the conference even more incentive to attend.  It’s great to feel connected.

But Wait There’s More!

So these are ways to start engaging with your audience even before you speak.  And we haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet… using Twitter for audience interaction!  We’ll start talking about that in the next post!

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 2 – The Terminology

In Twitter & Presenting on January 27, 2011 at 3:59 pm

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Twitter Terminology

Did you ever feel like you’re the last person to know…something?  I do.  So when I know something before someone else, it always surprises me.

I was talking to my friend Marty, who, as far as I knew, had been active on Twitter longer than I had.  I asked Marty to help me with using Twitter for a presentation.  I mentioned what hashtag I’d be using, he said, “What’s a hashtag?”  I figured since I knew what a hashtag was, everyone must know!  So Marty learned a few things about Twitter and hashtags from me that day.

Since I’m not sure of your level of knowledge on Twitter, I thought I’d cover some of the basic Twitter terminology in this post so that the posts that follow will make more sense.  Because after all, there may be some of you out there who also feel like you’re always the last to know!

The Backchannel

The backchannel has been around long before Twitter.  The backchannel simply refers to the conversations that happen outside of a formal speaker talking to an audience.  So the conversation you have in the hallway between sessions, whispers to the person sitting next to you, blog posting after an event all fall into the category of a backchannel.  Twitter has become a new way to participate in a backchannel conversation.

Twitter & Tweet

Twitter is a free, on-line website where people can send messages to the world (or who ever happens to be “listening”) 140 characters at a time.  Why 140 characters at a time?  Because the creators of Twitter wanted to also be able to have these messages sent to mobile phones as text messages – and standard text messages are 140 characters long.  So using the Twitter website or your phone, you can send and receive these short messages, called tweets, whenever and however you’d like.

Following, Followers, Retweets

One of the ideas in Twitter is to listen to and participate in conversations about topics that interest you.  Say for instance, there is an individual in your industry who reads and writes great articles about your field.  If he’s on Twitter, he might tweet links to those articles.  Because you respect him and  you want to read what he reads, you would follow him and read the same material.  If you really like a particular article, you could repeat or retweet the article so that others could learn about the material as well.  Now say you tweet or retweet information about great articles – well, someone else might want to follow you and so they become your follower.  (If you’re new to Twitter, start by just listening and retweet the messages you think are cool or beneficial.)


Sometimes people are interested more in a subject area than in a particular person.  Hashtags allow us to find information about a particular topic or event within the world of Twitter.

A hashtag is simply the pound symbol # followed by a series of letters and/or numbers.  Twitter recognizes the # sign as being a special character and uses this specialness to link multiple tweets with the same hashtag.  It’s a shorthand to link people talking about the same topic. There is no such thing as reserving a hashtag.  Anyone who can type the # key can create a hashtag. (More on selecting a hashtag in the next blog post.)

At a conference or event, having a specially designated and publicized hashtag allows people to connect with others who are also attending or wish they could.  As a speaker, it allows you to keep track of what people are saying related to your session (more on that in a future blog post).

Twitter Stream

The Twitter stream is just the conversation that is happening around a particular hashtag.  As people are talking about a conference and they insert a hashtag, they become part of the Twitter stream.  Keeping track of the Twitter stream is very advantageous to event planners and to speakers.  Future posts on this blog will discuss how to make the most out of the Twitter stream.

Beyond the Terminology

Now that we have a common vocabulary, in future posts, I’ll discuss how to take advantage of the technology both for the benefit of the audience and for you as a speaker.

Twitter – The Presenter’s New Best Bud – Part 1 – The Journey Begins

In Twitter & Presenting on January 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm

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When Twitter Was Scary

June 2008 – My First Discovery of the Twitter Challenge

June of 2008 was the first time I heard about the Mark Zuckerberg/Sarah Lacy keynote interview at SXSW of 2008.  What disturbed me most wasn’t that the interview went poorly.  I wasn’t there.  I didn’t have to sit through it.   What disturbed me most was the idea that people were tweeting about the keynote while the keynoters themselves were still on the stage… and those tweets impacted the proceedings.  One twitterer dared another to yell, “Zuck, you suck,” and he did!  This idea terrified me!  People are tweeting while speakers are presenting?  No good can possibly come from this!

So I did what I often do when something scares me.  I ignored it.

May 2009 – Reality Check in a Training Class

Fast forward to May 2009. I’m in a training class and Paul Terlemazian asked, “Would you hire a sales guy who didn’t know how to use email?  Well that’s what it’s going to be like with Twitter some day.”   This question hit me hard because of my early days in technology.

Flashback to 1996 – Using Email

In 1996, I left the Navy and went into the technology field.  Shortly before leaving the Navy, the command I was stationed at got its first ever email addresses – but only for the big bosses – the commanding officer and the executive officer.  Not that they bother to learn how to use email.  They delegated that task to the administrative staff.  But being in the technology field, I very quickly learned the joys of having my very own email address.

About a year after leaving the Navy, I got a call from one of those old bosses.  “Hey, Kelly – you went into the technology sector right?  What can you tell me about this email thing?”  That former boss was retiring from the Navy and pursuing a job as a sales person.  And in 1997, companies expected their sales guys to know how to use email.

So in 2009, when Paul asked, “Would you hire a sales guy who didn’t know how to use email,” I realized, that I was turning into my old boss.  I was resisting an unfamiliar technology.  So that night, I begrudgingly opened my Twitter account… then pretty much did nothing with it for the next 6 months.

November 2009 – Overcoming the Fear

As Thanksgiving 2009 approached, I decided I didn’t want that icky feeling in my stomach any more thinking about people tweeting while presenters are presenting.  So I decided I would study the topic and overcome my fears. I stumbled upon a free e-book about Twitter for presenters by Olivia Mitchell – How to present with Twitter (and other backchannels) and decided sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday, I’d read the e-book.  Finally, on the last day of Thanksgiving break, I read the e-book and it’s associated links.  Finally I saw that Twitter could actually be a speaker’s friend.  Based on Mitchell’s recommendation, I also read Cliff Atkinson’s book The Backchannel. In 2010, I started applying the techniques in the two books as well as learning from other related blog posts.

2010 – The Year Twitter Becomes this Speaker’s Best Bud

Now that I’ve had a year of twittering, both as an audience member and as a speaker, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned.  Over the next few posts, I’ll discuss my experiences in the hopes that you too can learn to make Twitter your new best friend.

More to Come to Make Twitter Your New Best Bud as a Presenter

Surprise – Not Always the Best Thing When It Comes to Your Audience…Part 3

In Presentation Tips on January 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm

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Audience Mismatches Happen

I spoke once to a group of 8th graders about presentation skills.  I remember thinking to myself, “Man, I wish someone had told me the things I’m going to talk to these kids about when I was in the 8th grade.  These kids are so lucky to have me come speak to them.”  My overconfidence should have been my first clue that I wasn’t ready to speak to a group of 8th graders.  I hadn’t taken my own advice and found some 8th graders to interview as I prepared my talk.  It was not one of my better presentations.  Mercifully for both them and for me, it was only 20 minutes of our lives.

Presentations, like life, are messy.  Now I know none of you would intentionally ignore good advice like I did with the 8th graders.  But let’s face it, sometimes we don’t have the chance to interview 10 people who are likely to be in the audience (see Parts 1 & 2).  What can you do to avoid the catastrophe that Kathy experienced with 100% negative evaluations and bad word of mouth?  (Not to mention Twitter where word could leak out well beyond the halls of the venue.)  What can we do when our audience is a surprise?

Arrive Early at the Venue

If you’re flying from another city, arrive the day before you present.  If you’re driving in, arrive several hours before your presentation.  If there are sessions occurring in the day or hours before you speak, attend those meetings too.  After arriving, get the lay of the land.  What room will you be speaking in?  That will give you an indication of the expected crowd size.  Talk to people at the event.  “So what do you do for XYZ company?”  “Which sessions will you be attending?”  Ask enough people and some clues will start emerging.  If you’re surprised by the answers, then you have some time to regroup and think how you want to approach your audience.

Arrive Early in Your Meeting Room

As people start arriving to your room, greet them at the door.  Introduce yourself as the speaker.  Ask them about themselves and what they were hoping to hear.  Again, ask enough people and you’ll start hearing trends which will help you be somewhat prepared if you’re not getting the answers you’d expected.

Change Your Plans

I’m all about preparing for presentations.  In fact for some of my clients a side benefit of hiring me is that I give them deadlines by which they have to ready for our meetings together (rather than putting their talk together in their hotel room the night before their event).  I highly recommend preparation.  But if it becomes painfully clear that there is a huge gap between what your audience needs and what you are prepared to deliver, adjust your plans.

Acknowledge the disconnect.  Depend on the fact that everyone has had an experience where, through no fault of their own, they’ve been set up to fail.  Allow your audience to have empathy for you.

Next, adjust where you can.  If you were prepared to talk at a high level about a product but you know the technicians want to hear the nitty gritty detail, ask yourself what your options are.  If you can address the details, address them.  If you can’t but there is someone else in the audience who can, recruit them for help.  If there’s someone back at the office who can, see if you can get that person on a conference line and plugged into the sound system in the room — or hold a microphone to the phone if you have to.  Ditch your slides if they no longer work.  Open the floor to questions.  Find a way to give the audience something of value.  Demonstrate your commitment to honoring their time.  Follow up after the event with material that matters to them.

If you clearly demonstrate that while you are in an unexpected situation that you’re doing everything in your power to respect them and their needs, you audience will reward you with some form of kindness.  They may still be understandably frustrated.  But it will go better for you if they know you are trying.

What Not to Say…and What to Say Instead

Don’t lay blame and make others look bad. No matter how tempting it may be to say “It’s all Sally’s fault!” resist the temptation.  Instead, communicate that there was confusion about what was needed and let them know you will do everything you can to help give them valuable information they can use. Then do just that.

Don’t apologizes extensively. Apologize once or twice, then do what is in your power to make the meeting valuable.  Be humble yet confident.  Don’t be a whining doormat.  Let your actions speak for you.

Speak with confidence. Let your tone and your words say to the audience that while you aren’t what they expected or needed, you’re a professional and you respect yourself and them as professionals.  Keep your dignity.

What’s missing?

Have you had an experience similar to Kathy’s but that had a happier ending?  What did you do to salvage the situation?  How did you meet your audience’s needs?  I’d love to learn from your wisdom!  Please share your results below.

Surprise – Not Always the Best Thing When It Comes to Your Audience…Part 2

In Presentation Tips on January 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm

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Interview Your Audience Well Before Your Presentation

When I first followed up with the people from Florida Head Start to do my pre-session interview, I admit, I underestimated how important presentation skills were to their leaders’ jobs.  While every leader needs to be able to present well to inform and motivate their staffs, I wasn’t sure why else the managers and directors of the organization would be motivated to improve their ability to present.  It didn’t take me long to find out.

With the first person I interviewed in preparation for my presentation skills workshop, I found out for these leaders, it wasn’t just about speaking in front of staff.  It was speaking to parents in the program.  It was speaking in front of legislative bodies that fund the programs.  It was speaking to government agencies that oversee the programs.  Their speaking opportunities were extremely important to their organizations and the families they serve.

As I spoke about last time in Part 1 of this series, talking to people who are expected to be in your audience before you speak to them can be extraordinarily helpful in ensuring you’re not surprised by an audience that you didn’t expect – and therefore can’t give a good presentation which meets their needs.  But if you’re going to take this step, how do you do it and what questions do you ask?

People are Busy

When I ask for the 10 names, I let the person I’m working through know that I’ll only take about 15 – 20 minutes of the individual’s time.  (And I diligently watch the clock to make sure I honor that commitment.)  I let them know I’ll be asking a few questions of that individual which will help me prepare the presentation and make sure that it’s adjusted for their particular needs.  I also ask my contact to give the people on the list a “heads up” to expect a call or email and tell the person why I’m contacting them.

Generally, I exchange emails with the contacts and schedule the 15-20 minute interview.   I always try to make the arrangement so that I’m calling them at an agreed upon time for the interview.  While the interview will ultimately give the organization a better quality program, I want to make the least amount of work for them possible which is why I always offer to call them.  All they have to do is pick up the phone and talk about themselves.

Getting to Know You

The majority of people, though they may not like to admit it, love to talk about themselves – which is generally why I start by asking the person I’m interviewing to tell me a little about themselves and the role they fill in the organization.  When it’s a group I haven’t worked with before, this can be a little confusing during the first 2 or 3 interviews as I’m figuring out the organization’s terminology and how people fit together within the group.  But the important thing is to get the individuals talking about themselves, learn as much about them and the organization as I can, and build a rapport with the individual person so they’ll feel comfortable telling me the real truth about the organization (as opposed to the prettified version that we often want to portray to outsiders).

Questions Related to Session Topic

The person who has agreed to be interviewed knows the topic that I’ll be speaking to the group on.  So I will ask one or two questions to find out what they know about the topic and how they feel about it.  I’m looking to see the level of understanding of that individual as well as their perceived level of understanding of their colleagues.  Like the example of Kathy from Part 1, how you address a sales audience is going to be different than how you address a technical audience.  If you go below the level of understanding of the audience, you’ll bore them with your presentation and waste their time.  If you go too far above their heads, you’ll bore the audience and waste their time.  I hate being bored, and I hate having my time wasted, don’t you?  Let’s not inflict that on others!

I also want to know if there will be resistance related to my topic and if so why.  Perhaps there are some misconceptions about the topic.  Perhaps with a strong opening, I can make the topic relevant to those who would resist it.  Either way, knowing in advance if the audience will be friendly or hostile will help keep us from getting blind-sided in the heat of the moment.

Biggest Concerns

Chances are, that my topic is not going to be the thing that people I’m interviewing for my session are going to care the most about.  Chances are, presentation skills are not what keeps my audience members up at night.  And unless you’re a leader getting ready to address lay-offs at the company, your topic is probably not going to be the most important topic for your audience either.  Find out what is.

I ask those I interview what are their biggest challenges.  Each person usually answers this question slightly differently.  I note the comments but also look for trends.  If I hear similar comments across three or more interviews, I know I’ve hit a sore spot.  I look for ways to relate to that concern as part of my program, whether through a story of similar challenge or through commentary as we go through the material.  This lets the audience know that I care enough to pay attention to what makes them special and unique as an organization.  And because I care, they’re more likely to listen to advice given that will help.

Greatest Victories

I also want to know what the people I talk to are proud of.  We all want to have a sense of pride in what we do.  Asking for feedback on where they get satisfaction in their role will give me meaningful examples of how I can praise the group and help them feel good about themselves… and what person could use more of that?!

Just the Facts

In addition to the points above, I will ask for demographic information about the people attending the session of those I interview.  I don’t ask all the same questions of each person I interview – mostly so I don’t go over the 20 minute commitment.  Plus usually after two or three people have answered the same way, I’m comfortable that I know the ratio of men to women or the number of years people have with the organization.

In addition to learning about the demographics of the audience makeup, I’m also want to check to see if there are any major events within the organization that are impacting the people as a group.  Upcoming mergers,  recent public scandal, loss of a key leader – all will effect the audience and the way they’ll respond to outsiders.   What I often do is ask “Is there anything else going on within the organization that I should know about?  For instance, if you’ve had a board member die in a plane crash recently, I certainly wouldn’t want to make any jokes about flying.  Is there anything going on in your organization that I should know about?”  People usually understand then why I’m asking.  Most of the time, there’s nothing.  But if there is, you definitely want to know so you don’t alienate your audience from you or your valuable content.

More to Come

Speaking to expected audience members will help you better prepare for your presentation.  But what if you don’t have that luxury?  What if you ask but don’t get any help from the person who asked you to speak?  What can you do to maximize your success when you arrive and find that surprise audience?  That will be the topic for tomorrow’s post.

Surprise – Not Always the Best Thing When It Comes to Your Audience…Part 1

In Presentation Tips on January 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

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Standing at the Front of the Room Is the Worst Time to Learn about Your Audience

Kathy’s story is similar to so many other’s that I’d heard before.

“I was at [Major Fortune 500 Technology Company] and I was the intermediary between the customers and IT.  We were rolling out a new product and they asked me to go a big meeting in Houston to talk about the new product.”

“Your audience will be 30 sales guys, so keep it really high level.” At least, that’s what Kathy was told.

Her first indication that something was off was when she entered the hotel conference room where the meeting was being held and saw the set up.  “I can talk in front of a group of 30 people.  But this was one of those big ballrooms, you know, with the dividers… and the dividers were open.”  The talk was not in front of 30 people.  It was in front of 100 people.  “I started to freak out.  I got sweaty.  I was soooo nervous.”

Kathy was presenting with another colleague and they discovered that their audience wasn’t sales guys.  They were technical guys.  They started asking questions Kathy and her partner were neither prepared nor able to answer.  “It was a disaster.”  She can laugh about it now.  But it wasn’t funny then.  “We always do the feedback forms after one of these meetings, you know.  And when we saw our feedback forms after the session, every single one of them lambasted us.   We had the lowest scores possible. And it was a two-day conference… we had to do the same presentation the next day!

Word spread through the meeting about how awful the presentation was.  The next day, when Kathy showed up at the meeting room, there were only 30 people in the large conference room…and none of them were her presentation partner.  Kathy gave the presentation alone.  “My colleague was so devastated by the reviews, that he went home!  He wasn’t even there to present with me the next day!”

“Wow…” I said, “Somebody didn’t do you any favors when they told you who you’d be speaking to.”

It’s All about the Audience

I don’t know if Aristotle was the first to say it or not, but every good speech, every good presentation really is all about the audience.  The reason Kathy’s story was like so many other stories I’d heard was because so many people don’t get good information about their audience.  Kathy seemed set up for failure.  Either through ignorance or maliciousness, the person who told Kathy “Your audience will be 30 sales guys, so keep it really high level,” set her up for failure.  Was there anything Kathy could have done to avoid such a situation?  Was there anything Kathy could have done once she found herself in that situation?

Avoid Being Surprised by an Unexpected Audience

Usually, when someone asks you to speaking in front of a group, they will tell you, as best they can, who the audience will be.  Based on Kathy’s telling of her story, I never got the impression that Kathy felt like someone was sabotaging her presentation.  The person was just wrong about the audience.  Maybe the person who told Kathy about the audience misunderstood the person who asked her to find Kathy and her colleague to speak.  Maybe Kathy misunderstood what was being told to her.  One way to increase your chance of success is to ask the person who is asking you to speak for the names and contact information for 10 people who will likely be at the event.

10 People Likely to Be in the Audience

Early in my business, I’d started the practice of asking for names and contact information of people who would be attending one of my speeches or training sessions.  I learned this best practice from several professionals that I respect and I found the technique extremely helpful in customizing my material for an audience.  When I wooed my first Fortune 500 client, I did the same thing.  As a solo-entrapreneur, getting my first Fortune 500 client was HUGE.  When I asked the manager for names and contact information I sensed hesitation… like this isn’t something she normally get’s asked for.  But I persisted and she gave me the information.  I followed up with the people – and was I ever glad I did!

While speaking with the management organization who brought me in, I knew about the jobs that the people in the audience did for the company.  But what the management didn’t tell me, what I found out from those I interviewed, was that organization’s roles had only recently changed.  The reality of the situation was that the members of my audience were still adjusting to the changes.  The new way the role interacted — well, let’s just say that not all the employees were welcoming the changes — and there were some who felt slighted.  These inter-organizational dynamics impacted how the message the management team wanted me to deliver needed be couched.  Man was I glad I’d done the interviews.  That would have been an awful thing to be surprised with in the session!

Why 10 People?

I ask for 10 people not because I know it’s a magic number.  But because I’ve found that while I ask for 10 names, I’m lucky if I get that many.  And if I get 10 names, I’m never able to hook up with all 10 due to scheduling conflicts.  I usually end out speaking to 5 to 7 people which gives me enough variety to gain the insights I need.

More to Come

Over the next few posts, I’ll talk about what questions to ask those 10 people and what to do if despite your efforts, you still find yourself getting getting a surprise when it comes to your audience.

Until then remember – when it comes to your presentation – it’s not about perfection…it’s about connection!

When Presentations Matter – Words that Heal

In Presentation Tips on January 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm

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Helping People with Your Words

Jim is a friend of mine.  He and his wife Aimee will be speaking at a sales meeting for a company that sells a particular medical product.  Aimee is in the medical field and will discuss the technical aspects of the product.  Jim will also be talking about the product.  But Jim isn’t in the medical field.  Jim will be talking about the product from a very personal and very emotional perspective.  You see the product that these sales people sell, changed Aimee’s life.

Jim was engaged to Aimee when she had her first surgery.  At a follow up visit scheduled with her surgeon, Aimee went in alone to speak to the doctor (since Jim wasn’t yet her husband) but Jim knew she was going to talk to the physician about the immense pain she was experiencing since the surgery.   When she came back into the waiting room, she was in tears.   In the hallway, still sobbing, she told Jim that the surgeon informed her that HE HAD FIXED HER and referred her to a psychiatrist.   Even with years between now and that day, Jim’s anger was evident in his tone, in his gestures and in his language.  More medical horror stories followed including several more surgeries.  Finally, a doctor who DIDN’T have a god-complex used the medical product on Aimee that these sales people sell…  and their product took away Aimee’s suffering.  At this sales meeting, Jim will tell his side of the story — how he watched the woman he loved — a woman who is in the medical field no less — go through pain and misery that didn’t have to happen.

Jim is in sales himself.  He knows how hard it is to make one more call when it’s rainy and yucky outside – when it’s easier not to.  But at this meeting, Jim will implore those 100 sales people to make that call because those sales people and their product will literally be changing people’s lives.  They will be releasing people like his Aimee from a world of literal pain.

Jim is a wonderful person as is Aimee.  The speech coach in me knows they will deliver a powerful presentation for that sale force and inspire them to help more people like Aimee.

And when those sales people go into a meeting with their next prospect, I pray they don’t open talking about the clinical trials and FDA approvals.  I hope they start by talking about Jim and Aimee.  Sure, later, those sales people can talk about the technical and medical aspects of the product.  But it’s that emotional connection, with real people, with real pain, that will urge surgeons to give more people like Aimee the help they need.

When you open up your presentation, do you choose your first words carefully?  Do your opening sentences engage with the audience on an emotional level?  Do you offer words that heal?

You don’t have to be in the medical business to heal a wound.  You’re in business to meet a need.  As you speak those opening words in front of your next prospect, what will you reveal about the wounds you heal?

Touch the heart first.  Then engage the mind.  Because remember, with your presentation, it’s not about perfection — it’s about connection.

Now go forth and heal!

What I Learned at the January 2011 NSA Georgia Chapter Meeting

In Presentation Tips on January 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm

I’ve gotten so that I enjoy taking meeting notes via Twitter.   I like not just capturing what I’m learning but also sharing it with others.  Below are my tweets (and a couple others) from the January 15th NSA (National Speakers Association) Georgia chapter meeting.



Kelly VandeverKellyVandeverEach point needs to have story. #nsaga2:53 PM Jan 15th via txt

Keith Duncanbuiltbykeith#nsaga Twitting all my friends at NSA Georgia Chapter of National Speakers Assoc. Be bold, be brave, be outrageously out front. Keith D.2:49 PM Jan 15th via TweetDeck

Gina Carr GinaCarrRT KeelyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – 5 C’s how Sam works with clients < great series, follow #nsaga 2 c notes from 2day < thx Kelly!1:39 PM Jan 15th via HootSuite

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com – strong advocate of mastermind groups #nsaga1:33 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com – C – Commercially viable. #nsaga1:30 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com – hook & hinge – turn hook of story to turn it into a “you” question #nsaga1:30 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com – when something gets your eyebrows up, write it down, blog about it. #nsaga1:28 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com – C – Current – stop quoting old quotes, people have heard them before – become clique. #nsaga1:27 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com – eye brow litmus test#nsaga1:26 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – 3rd C – Compelling – just because something is important doesn’t mean it’s interesting #nsaga1:26 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – if you write for yourself, you’ll always have an audience Bruce Springtein#nsaga1:24 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com– Congruent- when you get advice, will that make my business/speech/book stronger? is it in alignment with my values? #nsaga1:23 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – First – Clear – 60 seconds or less, action you want people to take at the end of this communication (book, speech) #nsaga1:21 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – 5 C’s how Sam works with clients. #nsaga1:21 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – when is a time in your life where you had a magical experience or moment. #nsaga1:18 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – scale vision for how you help the world out of service #nsaga12:11 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Last default – It’s hard to get noticed when I’m speaking to groups of 40 people.#nsaga12:09 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Can stand out if you do these Ps – you can break out. #nsaga12:06 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – What does everyone else already do? #nsaga12:06 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – what do customers want that no one else offers? #nsaga12:05 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Next P – Positioning – what are all your competitors doing, don’t do the obvious, do the opposite. #nsaga12:04 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Promise – what do you deliver with your product/process/program. #nsaga12:03 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – next P – Program/Process/Product -here’s what takes you through that. #nsaga12:03 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – next P – Premise – it doesn’t have to be that way, there’s a better/new way #nsaga12:02 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Next P – Problem – what is keeping that person up at night? #nsaga12:01 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – when writing, picture one person across the desk and write so the light stays on in that person’s eyes. #nsaga12:01 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – if we are writing and speaking about what I want to say – exercise of intellect and ego – to talk to other people #nsaga12:00 PM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Next P – Person – think of one individual – not a target market #nsaga11:58 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – first P – Purpose#nsaga11:58 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – You can stand out if you’re one of kind with these 7 p’s #nsaga11:58 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Default #4 – I can’t stand out because I’m new or because I’m one of many#nsaga11:57 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – when barraged with information, we don’t remember the info – we remember the story. #nsaga11:29 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – the story never stops there – when you tell a genuine, heart-felt story, they will relate, they will remember it. #nsaga11:27 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com – What’s an example of what you do – skip past the chit chat and get to real information. #nsaga11:23 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – for example – powerful words! #nsaga11:22 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Story – see how can help you #nsaga11:22 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – instead of telling people what you do, tell success story of your client – as a result, they’re better – STORY #nsaga11:21 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – what is your dog on the tanker story? #nsaga11:21 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – empathy telescope – we can put ourselves in the shoes of 1 person – we can’t put ourselves in shoes of many. #nsaga11:20 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – we’re in the business of delivering epiphanies – the world doesn’t need any more information – need epiphany to DO #nsaga11:18 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Default #3 – many of us think we’re in the business of delivering information#nsaga11:17 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Love the word – serandestiny #nsaga11:14 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – put words on left & right – match words – 1st half of one word, to end of other word – coin your own word=niche #nsaga11:10 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – write down 10 words that you use to describe in presentation – #nsaga11:09 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com 25 techniques to POP your ideas in the book POP. #nsaga11:09 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – the success of your business depends on learning something new from you.#nsaga11:08 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com Default #2 – there is nothing new under the sun. #nsaga11:08 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever@SamHorn_dot_com Bridge – don’t have to Imagine – we’ve done it – move to your  proof. #nsaga11:07 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – leave out the parts people skip – distill the message down to the essense #nsaga11:07 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com Bridge with the word IMAGINE – & use power of 3 – #nsaga11:05 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – Start off with DID YOU KNOW – frame the scope of your problem of your solutions#nsaga11:04 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – You can change a life in 60 seconds. You can change your life in 60 seconds.#nsaga11:03 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com – default #1 – you can’t say anything in 10 minutes. #nsaga11:02 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @SamHorn_dot_com 5 defaults we might want to disrupt. #nsaga11:01 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever So excited to get to hear more from @SamHorn_dot_com#nsaga10:56 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Keith Duncanbuiltbykeith #nsaga Color blindness is imperative to connecting people to purpose. Desmond Thornton finding his way to motivate kids to success.10:27 AM Jan 15th via TweetDeck

Keith Duncanbuiltbykeith #nsaga. Be famous for at least one thing in your life. “It’s better to be a Has Been, then a Never Was.” Keep it simple.10:12 AM Jan 15th via TweetDeck

Keith Duncanbuiltbykeith #nsaga Mike Wein 1st pass was flopped cheese sticks became Tostitos. counter-intutitive is inch wide and mile deep.10:09 AM Jan 15th via TweetDeck

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowaldman don’t lose sight of people – relationships are so important. #nsaga9:54 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowaldman gives all the proceeds from his book “Never Fly Solo” to veterans #nsaga9:49 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowaldman – more than once he’s said it’s about relationships – over YEARS – before getting into Success magazine & others. #nsaga9:47 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowalman – sometimes you need to out source – example hiring PR to get you into magazine. #nsaga9:44 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowaldman – great examples – the value is in the name. #nsaga9:43 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowaldman can build your brand, but you have to work for it. #nsaga9:42 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowaldman start building your brand in niche market – find magazine, ask to write articles, develop a relationship. #nsaga9:41 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever Selling Power magazine – article @waldowaldman #nsaga9:38 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowaldman reputations sell – Need to differentiate yourself. #nsaga9:37 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @waldowalman his phrase that pays – push it up. What’s mine? What’s yours? #nsaga9:35 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever Whoops typo – Sandy Weaver Carman #nsaga9:30 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever thanks for the recommendations Sandy Weaver Karmen. #nsaga9:28 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever Audio Boo – way to post things on line for free – tie it to Twitter, Facebook, etc. #nsaga9:27 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever What action will you take as a result of today’s meeting? #nsaga9:18 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever Still one space available for ProPath this year. See Jon Schwartz during the break. #nsaga9:18 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever contact Tricia Molloy know if you’re willing to buddy up with 1st timers for UNConference #nsaga9:15 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat

Kelly VandeverKellyVandever @danthurmon – does 1000 catches a day to keep skills up – what do you do every single day to keep your skills up? #nsaga9:08 AM Jan 15th via TweetChat