This past weekend I attended the National Speakers Association’s annual convention in Philadelphia. Talk about a room full of chatty, type As, the 1200+ person event had no shortage of big personalities, topic expertise and energy.
The convention chair was David Glickman, a fellow Florida speaker, who is a master of humor and built a name for himself writing and performing comedy and custom song parodies for corporations. So, needless to say, the event was packed with entertaining and educational experiences. Great job, David!
I learned a ton and was inspired by both the speakers who presented and the speakers I met. So, whether you speak professionally like I do, or speaking and presenting are an important part of your job, I hope you can apply some of the gems I took home.
Today’s blog (part 1) includes 12 tips focused on humor to help you be a better speaker and a few other random items from my trip. The balance will post next Wednesday.
How to add more humor to your presentations
1) Laughter is contagious and can have domino-effect.
When you get a laugh from your audience, tag it with another funny statement, facial gesture or physical movement. It’s a natural opportunity to build momentum with your audience because laughter is contagious and can have a domino-effect.
2) Research what’s funny with your audience before your speak.
Before you address a group find out what they think is funny in their industry or something funny that happened in advance of your talk. Building on this topic is usually a sure fire laugh.
3) Don’t over describe a humorous story.
This robs the audience from them filling in the blanks and using their imagination (see tip #8)
4) Self-deprecation is always good and do exaggerate your flaws.
5) Silence is powerful.
Don’t underestimate how a big pause of silence will help your point stick.
6) Use call backs.
A call back is when you get a laugh from something, a theme, a story, a phrase, and you repeat it again later in your talk.
7) Love every audience you address more than your pet.
This may not make you funnier, but it will make you a better speaker.
8) Before you give a presentation get in a peak zone, this means blood circulating and ample oxygen flowing by doing a physical activity like __________. I will let you fill in this blank.
9) Hangout with funny people, you will get funnier.
It pays to lighten up and be fun (Scott Christopher author of book The Levity-Effect). Here’s an interesting stat: 90% of employees said they will stay at a company if their boss is funny.
10) To make a point in a PowerPoint, don’t use the photo you have, use a really funny photo you find on Google.
11) Use goofy family photos in presentations too, they humanize the speaker and add humor, too.
12) Compare a photo of anyone (a co-worker, your boss, a client) with a famous person, this can be hysterical. My celebrity Heritage website has a database of over 4000 famous people to find funny matches for average Joe.
…To be continued! Watch for Part 2 for more tips.
Bonus – other random observations and lessons from my trip.
These days, an hour before flight time is not enough time to get through security and make a flight.
The past 5 times I’ve flown (non-holiday times) the airports have been jammed packed, all hours, all days. The $250 airline upgrade bought through a kiosk can prevent you from missing your flight. You speed through security in minutes, pass by thousands of other people and feel less stressed.
The Marriott in downtown Philadelphia does not make my top 1000 hotels I love list.
The food in their restaurant was consistency as disappointing.
If the airline can’t assign you a seat at check in, it’s very likely the plane is over booked.
If your schedule is flexible, once you get to the gate ask the attendant right away about giving your seat back. I ended up on the next flight out and got a free round trip ticket that I can use any time this next year. A nice perk for putting up with air travel.
Invest in an extra power supply for your phone. This device is critical for a road warrior.
Power plugs at busy airports are in short supply. This great device keeps you connected for hours after your phone dies.
If the senior market is important to your business, take note, the stereotype of today’s senior may be as out of date as the CD player.
This weekend I spent some time with my mom. She is 78-years young, lives in a senior community near Tampa and has for the past ten years. She’s healthy, spunky and represents a new breed of well aging consumers. And gives serious merit to the concept of “78 is the new 58”.
5 insights into the new senior consumer
1) The desire for fun does not lighten with age.
When I arrived, the first thing she tells me is: “I want to move. Not out of my community, but out of my neighborhood. Everyone here is too darn old,” she claims. “They’re sick, frail, grumpy, don’t take care of their homes and bottom line, they are not any fun!”
Seth Godin’s tribe theory remains true. Consumers want to be around like-minded people and age is not an accurate means to profile this consumer.
2) Chemical addictions don’t go away, they just change.
My mom has a hair color habit, she drinks sweet wine and even sweeter cocktails (I don’t remember her drinking until she turned 68). She loves a good chocolate fix a lot more often than just on Valentine’s Day.
According to The Wine Institute women drink the lion’s share of wine of the over 800 million gallons sold in US annually.
3) Have road will travel.
Fortunately, my mom and dad saved for retirement, so she has money to spend and she likes to travel. In the past 5 years, she’s visited at least 20 different countries and has covered even more tracks locally on her zippy golf cart. However, she also claims there are much faster models, and she wouldn’t mind having one.
4) It’s never too late to find your inner rowdy, party animal voice.
My mom loves sports, she knows the local team’s players by their first names and goes to lots of concerts and performances. I’ve heard her scream and holler at all of these events, something again I don’t remember from my childhood with her.
5) The fashion bug never flies away.
Frugal she is and also a card-carrying CCC (compulsive coupon clipper), but her annual spending on fashion, shoes and accessories could fund a small village.
Watching my mom enter her aging backwards chapter is quite entertaining as well as enlightening. As it reminds me how when brands are being built, we must remember all consumer segments, their values and buying patterns continue to change.
NOTE TO ALL READERS – Starting next week my blog updates ezine will hit your mail box every Wednesday. Instead of 3-4 posts in one mailer, it will only have one blog post per week, but will be on a regular schedule.
Call me crazy. Yes, I did. I said no to a luxury vacation in the mountains of North Carolina in a $2.6 million dollar, 5,000 square foot, McLodge just off Cedar Cliff Lake.
My boyfriend and his family rented this gorgeous place and invited me to join them and I opted out in the eleventh hour, even losing a $300.00 plane ticket. Why? Because the past 6 months, I have been super busy, and have not had my ample “just me” time, to think, write and create beyond my obligations, including my blogging. And as a creative, highly sensitive (HS) person this is like cutting off my oxygen.
I’m not complaining, I am grateful my life has been filled with giving keynote speeches on branding, working on a very exciting global brand transformation, enjoying two great relationships, one with a smart guy and the other with a very cute dog.
For years, I have felt this pressure, which often transforms into my most uncomfortable stress, and I didn’t know what it was or how to deal with it.
I recently discovered the work of Psychologist Elaine Aron in a Huffington Post article, called “Characteristics of Highly-Sensitive People.” I continued to learn more about this condition in her books and from other social science professionals’ works.
In her book The Highly-Sensitive Person, she claims that about 15 to 20 percent of the population is characterized as highly sensitive (HS).
She describes characteristics of highly sensitive people as:
1. Having great imagination
2. Having great intellectual abilities
3. Are creative
4. Having a curious mind
5. Are hard workers
6. Are good problem solvers
7. Are extremely conscious and compassionate
8. Are intuitive
9. Having a strong sense of aesthetic awareness
10. Respecting nature, art and music greatly
11. Having profound and intense sensations
12. Having the ability to access important information from the unconscious mind
13. Having a depth of understanding and feelings
14. Are objective and can see the bigger picture
This is me to a T.
Overall, she believes many of writers, creators, inventors, imaginaries, and people who have contributed greatly to this world may fall in the category of highly sensitive. If managed properly, these people can be big assets to society. If they don’t acknowledge that they are HS, they can suffer a lot of self-inflicted stress and frustration.
One way to manage HS is to have ample alone time, where the HS person manages their noise and other distractions. Aron contends physically, highly-sensitive people need time and space to be by themselves to process the amount of input they absorb. They may have a low tolerance to noise and anything too strong when it comes to sensations. They also seem to have more body awareness and can feel when their body is not comfortable in an environment. They also have to connect to nature and do regular exercise, relaxation, meditation and any other activities that go with their natural desire to calm themselves down and recharge after the over stimulation.
My work, and creating, is my greatest joy. Sufficient cave time and alone time often, without inner guilt or pressure from others, is the fuel I need to find this joy.
To my friends and family, thanks for understanding me.
More books on the subject of Highly-Sensitive People.
The Highly-Sensitive Person’s Survival Guide
There is no amount of butter that can help Paula Deen’s brand get out of this tight jam.
The past few weeks have not been pretty for Ms. Paula, the Southern belle, sweet potato, comfort food celeb. After being deposed in a lawsuit where a former employee alleged a culture of racism and sexual harassment, Paula under oath, admitted using the “N” word and I’m not referring to “Non-Fat.”
Her million-dollar empire went from deep-fried and happy to “where have all my sponsors gone?” Wal-Mart, Target, Smithfield Foods, Caesars Entertainment, The Food Network, Home Depot and even the drug maker Novo Nordisk all opted-out after the news broke.
Doing something bad is never good, but this situation went from bad, to insanely stupid, self-inflicted, career-ruining awful.
As a food professional, restaurant operator, chef or businessperson, take note of this very serious turn of events as a big-time foodie falls from grace and learn from it.
This week I did a couple of TV interviews on the subject of Paula Deen’s brand meltdown and share these tips with you on how to handle a very unfortunate event like this.
Depositions are public record.
What you say and how you say something can and will be used against you.
The bigger your brand, the more starving vultures are ready to pounce.
A big-personality, celebrity is a 24/7 walking target. It’s not small talk in Savannah.
Stay in front of the story.
Once you realize, you have said or done something that can be damaging to your brand, STOP, (seek professional help) and get in front of the negative story with your story. Your story needs to get out promptly, it needs to be credible and you need to take responsibility.
If you put out a youtube video, it had better be airtight.
There are no dress rehearsals in crisis management. Your video should be confident, no rambling on, no obvious edit cuts and honest solution to the negative event.
Put your big girl panties on.
Unless you are dead or in ambulance, if you commit to appear on a national TV show, like the Today Show with Matt Lauer, you’d better be there.
Or, if should you be so lucky like Paula was and you get a second opportunity with Matt Lauer, make it a story-changing interview, not a cry baby, dance around the real issue session.
I’m not putting any money on the “Comeback too soon Paula Deen” horse.
Paula and her posse had at least three opportunities to control the outcome of this landmine and they failed miserably.
Take a vacation. Think long and hard about how you can contribute to really changing the root of this situation with your brand’s stage.
If you do comeback, be relevant to the new age, the media and a diverse world of consumers and do manage your brand bumps better.
More articles on crisis management and brand turnaround you may find useful.
In a world with seemingly less time and so much more to consume I’ve identified three tighter, smaller and concise was of getting three important things done in my world.
1) Read theSkimm.com.
This daily feed of the top 3-4 news stories keep you informed even when your day does not allow any news reading, TV watching or much dialogue with your well-informed friends.
2) Weight train in 30 minute chunks.
For years I’ve tried, and then soon blown off, the hour-long weight training sessions with a personal trainer. I got bored. Most days after an hour, I was so sore, I never wanted to come back and the cost, in my mind, seemed excessive. A shorter 30-minute session is fun. I’m seeing the same results and I rationalize the expense as no different from a nice dinner out, but helps to reduces my waist line, not increase it. If you are in Tampa and need kick in the butt, and an inspiring trainer, I highly recommend Sasha Townsend.
3) Write shorter blogs.
Yes, in the beginning this will not seem like less of anything, because it is often a tougher task to get to the point with few words. Trust me, once you master the shorter, sweeter blog post style, it will mean you are a more effective writer and it is very likely, more people will enjoy your opinions, ideas and talents. I know I’ve been guilty. However, I am going to recommit to work this change into my blog writing. Sure, every now and then a “how to” branding subject or marketing issue will need or deserve a bit more detail, story or blah, blah, blah. That’s cool, but for now, I’m signing up to brief is better blog.
Got to go!
I’ve been suffering from plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition. Not sure why I have it. I’d like to think it’s because I’m such a competitive athlete. Which may be part of it or it could be my body is just getting worn down and aged.
What matters is not the origin of any challenge, but how do you play and win when you are in excruciating pain and not feeling your best.
I was down 5, 0. My opponent was hitting perfect drop shots. I was not able to move fast enough to get to them. I was very frustrated and mad that I was letting my brain think about the ouch in my heels and not what I needed to do to come back.
I needed to make some adjustments fast. Here’s what I did that help me turn this match around. These moves can help in business too.
1) Talk to yourself.
“What the hell are you doing, Karen, playing like a big loser, the victim. Get a grip. You beat this woman all the time. You are going to beat her today.” Self talk and verbal affirmations work. Practice this every day.
2) Control the story and outcome you desire in your head. And don’t believe everything your brain thinks.
I got so focused on the ball and my follow through, that the pain was not even on my radar screen any more. Tennis and business are a mental game and you decide a lot more outcome than most people think.
3) Play one point at a time. Make momentum.
When you start winning again, the points add up fast. Even if you are a visionary, play and work in the moment. Momentum is a powerful force and it starts with small baby achievements and mounts.
4) Don’t let being down, keep you down.
Come backs happen every day. Believe this. Have faith in you. Athletes perform miracles when there are only seconds left in the game. Businesses on the verge of bankruptcy turnaround and so can you.
5) Don’t bask in the achievement zone; get ready for the next shot within seconds.
Yeah getting a tough shot or business score deserves a little inner praise, but in tennis and business your competition does not care what you just did, they are there to win. Marvel your points and results after your win the match or earn your next million.
Many possess skills, talents and attributes that come easier to them than others. This stuff doesn’t feel like work, and it’s fun.
For some it is writing, rain making, negotiating, playing sports, singing, public speaking or even solving problems.
Many believe people who have these traits are considered naturals. They think gifts are included in the DNA, and are passed down when they got their set of genes. Or they are just lucky.
That may be true in a few rare cases. But I’m of the opinion there are no gifts of talent, and luck is extremely over rated, too. Gifts and luck happen, when you really love something, are passionate, invest in practicing a craft and continuously developing “the whatever”, they become a very natural, effortless act.
The origin of the gifts is really not so important. What you do with them is.
Here is the big, bad habit that will steal from your bank account every day if you let it.
Under valuing stuff you do that is easy.
- Discounting the value of your skills, attributes and traits, because it is not hard work.
- Don’t charge enough if you are in business or ask for enough when you work for someone else.
- Or you don’t get your fair share in a collaborative deal.
The value of your skills, talents and abilities and what they will earn you is partly up to the market. Will they pay and what will they pay? But, even more important is what you believe you and your stuff are worth as you control this part of the equation that often ends up in your bank account.
Don’t be guilty of under valuing stuff that comes easy to you. Be grateful it’s fun and do enjoy the experience.
Don’t short change your worth, your bank account or your future.
As outlined in my recent book, Brand Turnaround, through which I tell the stories of more than 75 brands, Game Changers are key concepts to brand transformation. If you’ve been following my article series on turnaround, you will recall that I’ve introduced you to six Game Changers: Take Responsibility, Never Give Up, Lead Strong, Stay Relevant, Keep Improving and Build Equity. In addition to these six, there is one last Game Changer—Own Your Distinction. And, for many brands, this is one of the most important strategies of them all.
In taking ownership of your brand distinction, your marketing dollars will be more effective because your investments link your product in consumers’ minds to recognizable and memorable proprietary tangible and intangible assets and attributes.
Brand distinction is defined as what makes you unique. It can stem from your offering, processes, packaging, persona or experiences but, in most cases, it comes from a combination of many. Once you’ve established distinction and own the turf associated with it, your brand increases in strength and is portrayed by consumers as an identifiable and memorable entity.
Distinction alone will not bring your brand back from a shake-up. The other Game Changers need to be addressed too. Your set of distinguishing factors need not only be uniquely yours but perceived as value-add and relevant to the market you are targeting. Once achieved, you will be in a better place to start your brand recovery, rebuilding your credibility, trust and authority in consumers’ minds.
Assess your brand’s level of distinction by answering these seven questions:
• Does your brand provide real substantive differences that are important to the customer?
• Does your brand provide convincing proof of these differences?
• Can you easily articulate your brand’s differences?
• Do your employees exemplify the brand differences through word and deed?
• Relative to the price difference, does your brand deliver substantially more value than does your best competitor?
• Does your messaging and communication exemplify your brand differences?
• Is your brand distinction easy to copy or are the barriers of entry strong?
While these questions serve as a good starting point to establish your brand distinction, there are some other things you need to do. You must demonstrate a great level of courage, display long-term commitment over short-term results and create an integrated brand messaging campaign. These things will help your brand to stand out among competitors and can also permeate to wide-ranging consumer touchpoints.
Ultimately you want to create your own exclusive formula whose components result in individuality. For example, Geek Squad, one of the cases in my book Brand Turnaround, did this through the use of humor, harmony, helpfulness and availability. Add to that, unique packaging, and a brand-centric culture that plays through the brand story and work environment, brand reach and communication, and you have a highly regarded brand.
Other brands that I admire and examine in my book who have established a strong distinctive market position include SunChips, Fizzies and Pee-wee Herman. These three brands not only established themselves as distinct as Geek Squad, but they also faced significant turmoil and brand bumps yet managed to bounce back due in large part to their unique and distinct brand story.
Whether your distinction is by being the “healthy” or “green” brand choice (as SunChips is), an innovative brand offering consumers experience through its use and a unique delivery system to accompany the product (as Fizzies is) or simply a very unique character persona (as Pee-wee Herman is), execute on a platform that you can own—one that has legs and that your competitors can’t copy.
If your brand manufactures baby food, you will have a far different formula of distinction than a brand selling tattoo ink. Clearly the two targets have distinct demographics and value systems. The method of standing out and sticking in the minds of the buyer should be as unique as they are.
Distinction planning involves two parts, first identifying your opportunities for difference (e.g., brand niches, personality, look and feel, physical size and stature, campaigns, pricing, delivery methods, locations, materials or brand stories) then you must own your distinction by articulating what makes you different, creating patterns of credible proof in all your touch points, translating your distinction to market segments within your fan base and leveraging symbols and messages in both internal and public communications.
Being distinct takes courage and commitment. While no one Game Changer will ensure your brand immunity to a shake-up, the combination of all seven will help contribute to your bounce back in the event you find yourself in choppy waters.
This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book, Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill).
For years appearing in the Wall Street Journal has been a dream of mine. The Wall Street Journal is my all-time favorite publication to read. To me it is the “businessperson’s must read” to be in the know of what ’s going is in the world and in business.
The dream came true this week! I was quoted on a front page story in the Wall Street Journal about Naked Communities Seeking Corporate Sponsors and they mentioned my book title, Brand Turnaround: How Brands Gone Bad Returned to Glory and the 7 Game Changers that Made the Difference, too!
I have been fortunate, in the past 12 years of being a branding writer, speaker and consultant, I have appeared in over 300 news outlets around the world from the New York Times to Forbes to Bloomberg TV to Fox News, and now the Wall Street Journal. So does this media ink and exposure really impact the bottom line? And how can you get your “piece of the press mention pie“?
Does media exposure impact the bottom line?
For me it does. Publicity has aided me in earning thousands of dollars and many opportunities. And it comes from these 5 distinct marketing objectives.
Media exposure adds evidence of 3rd party credibility. This helps to position the brand, in this case me, The Branding Diva®, as an authority in my field.
Media exposure puts the brand name in front of potential buyers. The Wall Street Journal alone has a global audience of over 3.5 million daily readers.
Long-term SER (search engine results)
Publicity is indexed in all of the major search engines. One great article has lasting positive influence on a brand’s organic results.
Every time I’m featured in the news, and they mention one of my books, I get a sales bump.
Throughout the years, some of my biggest speaking gigs have come from buyers seeing me in the news.
How do you get your share of media exposure?
1) Position your brand as an authority.
You should have opinions, share success cases about your topics, write books, reports and articles.
2) Be easy to find.
Most reporters find their sources from internet searches around the subject they are covering. Invest in search engine results by optimizing your online content, having an active social media footprint and securing credible links back to your sites. For the past couple years, I’ve ranked on page one under branding expert and branding speaking. This is the result of strategic blog writing, content seeding and key word research.
3) When you get called, be an amazing resource.
When reporters or producers are working on a story they are usually on tight deadline. So, when they reach out, reply ASAP. I was in a conference when the WSJ reporter contacted me. Within minutes I acknowledged her email and made it fast and easy to schedule a time to chat. I also listened to her goals before I started ranting on about my views. In most cases, I’ll ask for questions before I do an interview so I can do my homework. Being helpful will build a long-term relationship with a reporter, so they will call you back for other stories. They will share your name with their colleagues. Beyond my commentary, I will also go out of my way to provide them with other resources to make their job easier. Think sound bites! Before I do an interview I prepare an index card with simple message points and short phrases.
4) Understand the game.
Publicity is not like paid advertising. You can not read it before it runs. You do not get to control the story. You may spend hours talking to a reporter then get cut out of the final piece or they may misquote you or even spell your name wrong. That’s show business. You can do to reduce your odds of these things happening by being a smart resource and by providing interesting commentary. Try to send your points in writing as this can reduce any misinterpretation and always provide an email of your preferred title. There is no guarantee here, but I have found providing clear information usually gets better results.
For a complete guide on how to earn press and publicity to help your brand, check out my Publicity Ta-Do List.
When people ask me what one most important action I take every year has contributed to my achievements the answer is simple. I work from a success plan.
This success plan includes what I really want in life and in business and how I will get there. I’ve been doing this for the past 12 years and I believe it’s a fool proof way to manifest any set of goals.
If you’ve never done a success plan before, it does require some soul-searching, deep thinking and a good chunk of time the first go round. But once you’ve done this the first time, then every year all you do is update and the time investment is minimal.
If this process is seems overwhelming, don’t procrastinate. Break it down into small pieces. Just write one section a day. In a week or two, you should have a critical tool to speed up your path to success.
I just finished updating my success for 2013 and here is my outline. I hope it is helpful to you. The sooner you complete yours, the sooner you will start seeing results.
Before I begin my plan, I inventory my last year.
- What did I love about the last 12 months and want to repeat?
- What specific things or actions did I do that caused those results?
- What did I not enjoy and don’t want to repeat?
- What specific things or actions did I do or not do that caused those results?
From here I work through the pillars of my plan.
Think of your vision as if you were writing your obituary, and how do you want to be remembered. But write it in a present tense.
I, Karen Post, am an accomplished, awesome, very creative person. I am confident, witty, smart, talented and a life adventurer. I am a sought after business and branding authority, motivational speaker, published author and consultant known by many as the Branding Diva®. I touch thousands through my writing and presentations on entrepreneurship, personal growth, branding and marketing issues. I inspire, empower and help others to achieve their goals and live a full, fun and rewarding life.
Words that describe Karen’s brand
These words are adjectives that describe your personality
Your values are what is important to you, there are no right or wrong list of values
Here are mine.
- I value me (my passions, creative gifts, physical being and contributions to the world).
- I value my independence.
- I value my originality.
- I value financial security.
- I value my body, my health and appearance.
- I value the thrill of challenge and risk.
- I value achievement and recognition.
- I value design, beautiful and fine material and natural things.
- I value my personal relationships, my partner, family, friends, and my advisors.
- I value creative environments.
- I value being in the high-idea flow zone.
- I value giving back and helping others succeed.
My 2013 goals:
I try to limit my goals to 2 or 3 big ones. Goals need to be accountable and specific, not vague.
- GOOD EXAMPLE OF A GOAL – I WILL EARN $500,000
- BAD EXAMPLE OF A GOAL – I WILL BE RICH AND FAMOUS
Objectives are smaller milestones that are necessary to reach your goals.
- Sell ________ of books
- Earn national publicity ______ placements
- Deliver _____ paid speaking gigs
- Get booked for a TED event
These are behaviors that must be embraced.
- Be disciplined with rituals
- Don’t compromise creation fuel, time and process
- Stay focused on results, master the art of task chunking
- Perform beyond expectations for clients
- Broaden speaker offering with new motivation program around “Self-steam”, the new fuel for ultimate fortune
- Maintain top SEO ranking
- Build top tier delegation/support team
- Do less better
- Be a smart and efficient knowledge sponge
- Have a blast, everyday
Next, I write specific action plans for each one of my income streams. I have three income streams, they include: consulting, speaking and product sales.
I start by listing my competition. I monitor these companies and individuals monthly. I look at their website and follow them on social media, too.
Next, I Identify my target buyers.
Then, I answer these questions.
- What strategic programs or initiatives do I need to build and embrace?
- What specific actions do I need to take?
- When will I need to do these things?
- And what type of resources do I need to allocate to them?
My annual plans are no longer than 10-12 pages. They are very definitive and clear. I am firm believer in those who work from a plan, get stuff done and those who get stuff done reach goals and experience an amazing journey.
Follow this outline. Write your plan. Work it, and I promise, you will see results.
Here’s a couple past articles from my blog that may help too.