Presentations that make a difference

presentationsPresentations are not just opportunities for you to talk, show some numbers or pictures, and maybe get a laugh or two; they are much more than that. Let’s start with what a presentation is. It can be when you are up in front of a room with people listening to you talk about a specific topic. It can also be project meetings, one on one meetings, hallway conversations, and social media posts which are just as much presentations as the front of the room kind and deserve the same kind of preparation and intention.

With that definition in mind, the ultimate goal of each presentation is to cause something to stir in the audience so that each person leaves with a new idea, new goal, or new challenge. Your presentation is a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.

I keep these three ideas in mind as I prepare for each kind of presentation and throughout each presentation because sometimes you have to read the audience and adjust.

Who is the audience? Before you present, you need to know how many people you will be communicating with and their familiarity with the topic. If it’s a small groups of experts, then it will be an in depth discussion on a few points while a large group with little familiarity will mean an overview. Every presentation should be tailored to the audience and not be a rote reading of the same facts and telling of the same stories.

We’ve come to understand the power of knowing your audience on social media – everything is targeted to the finest detail possible – you should do no less for your presentations to the degree you can. If you stop and think about it, you likely know enough about most of your audiences to make it personal so your presentation makes a difference to them. 

“The most important thing to remember is you must know your audience.”– Lewis Howes

What does your audience need? Now that you know who your audience is, you should answer these questions: Why are they attending this presentation? Why should they care about what you are saying? If this is a hallway conversation on the way to lunch the answer to these two questions is: Because you were walking in the same direction, and you struck up a good conversation on the way. On the other hand, if it is a project meeting the answers are likely: To get or share an update, and because you have information/resources/approval authority they need.

When it comes to audience needs, think big picture and small picture. What are their career goals, personal goals, what happened today? You have to take all of this into consideration to have a presentation that makes a difference. Even if it is just a walk to lunch.

“If you target audience isn’t listening, it’s not their fault, it’s yours.” – Seth Godin

How can I add value to the audience? You know who the audience is and what they need, now it’s time to plan how you can deliver that to them. I believe that the presentation process works best when the audience is not given the answer but is lead through a series of stories, questions, challenges in which they find their answer. It’s not enough that you are passionate about your topic, your audience needs to be passionate for themselves.

Frank Capra, the director of It’s a Wonderful Life, and other great movies said it like this, “I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when the actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.”

Take your audience through an experience in your presentation where they can find their answer.

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner.

 

Are you ready for success?

ready for successWill you be ready when the perfect opportunity to have the success you always wanted comes along?

Johnny Carson was the host of the Tonight Show for thirty years where he interviewed thousands of talented people, many who received their big break on his show. Carson himself received a big break when Red Skelton asked him to be a comedy writer on his show. Not long after he joined, Skelton was unable to host one of his live shows and Carson successfully filled in for him. How did Carson get ready for this perfect opportunity?   His college major was speech and drama as he wanted to become a radio performer. His college thesis was titled “How to Write Comedian Jokes” where he analyzed and explained the comedic techniques from popular radio shows of the day.

Johnny Carson talked about becoming successful when he said, “Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: ‘Are you ready?’”

The first step in being ready for success is to define success. What is success? That is personal to you. Each of us defines success in our own way. In order to be ready for success, you must start with a clear picture of what success means to you. This is the light that will guide the choices that you make. It’s why you do what you do.

You should recognize that you are always working for a purpose, so you should make it a good one. As author and speaker Tony Gaskin says, “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”

The second step in being ready for success is to start getting ready. The best way to start is to start. Build a plan that includes what you need to know, who you need to know, and how you will obtain both then start with the first activity. Your path will become clearer as you move forward and you can and will adjust your plan.

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not.”– Napoleon Hill

The last step in being ready for success is to take the opportunities. Now that you have defined success and are getting ready for it, you must be on the lookout for and willing to grab hold of opportunities when they arrive. When you make a point of measuring each event against your plan for success you will find that there are more chances than you knew.

“If we are paying attention to our lives, we’ll recognize those defining moments…that if jumped on would get our careers and personal lives to a whole new level of wow.” – Robin S. Sharma

Are we willing to do what they did to get where they are?

long road of successWe admire successful people – and with good reason. Their accomplishments are often awe inspiring. We see what they do, what they have, and the impact they have on the world and we want the same for ourselves.

We want to be the sports star, the singer, the business person, but are we willing to do what they did to get where they are?

Overnight success rarely happens overnight. It’s only after years of hard work and often struggle, that someone is ready for their overnight success.

Baseball legend Willie Mays talked about what it took to be successful in his sport, “In order to excel, you must be completely dedicated to your chosen sport. You must also be prepared to work hard and be willing to accept constructive criticism. Without one-hundred percent dedication, you won’t be able to do this.”

What did they really do to get there? Mary Kay Ash founded Mary Kay Cosmetics in 1963 with a $5,000 investment. Today the company has over 3 million consultants worldwide and wholesale volume in excess of 3 billion. During her life, Mary Kay won many business honors including the Horatio Alger Award, was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame, and authored four best-selling books. Mary Kay Cosmetics was named as one of “The 100 best companies to work for in America,” by Fortune Magazine.

On success, Mary Kay is quoted as saying, “You can have anything in this world you want, if you want it badly enough and you’re willing to pay the price.”

Here is a brief history of her rise to success. While in high school her father became ill and her mother supported the family working 14 hours a day in a restaurant. Mary Kay took care of her father along with attending high school. She married at 17 and she and her husband had three children. While he served in World War II she took a job selling books. Ash went on to work 25 years in corporate sales before resigning to turn her attention to writing a book, which became her plan for Mary Kay Cosmetics.

In 1963, Mary Kay and her second husband started the company, Mary Kay Cosmetics.  Before the company could open its operational storefront in Dallas, her second husband suddenly died and the rest, as they say, is history.

Are you ready for the journey? Og Mandino wrote the bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World in 1968 at the age of 35. He went on to write many others and his books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over 25 languages.

After graduating high school, Mandino planned to study journalism in college. When his mother died in the summer he chose not to attend college but to enter the Air Force and became a pilot during World War II. After the war he became an insurance salesman and found himself in a library despondent as he was not living the life he desired. Reading several self-help books here and in many other libraries he found the W. Clement Stone book, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude that changed his life.

Og Mandino commented on his journey and said, “The road to success, for me, was a long and arduous journey, strewn with obstacles and traps, pitfalls and hurdles. I speak of those sad and frustrating times in the hope that my personal experiences will serve as sufficient evidence for all who hear me that they have it in their own power to make their lives as glorious as they choose.”

Speak plainly about transitions.

transitionsTransitions can be difficult. What makes them even harder is when we don’t talk about what’s needed to succeed. Going off to college, starting a new job, retiring from your career are all transitions that require planning and the same three action steps.

“The key is to take small, conscious steps and prepare yourself for a successful transition.”– Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Self-motivation. Successful transitions require that you get yourself started. No one is going to make you succeed, you have to want to succeed. Determine to be the best at whatever this next phase of your life is and to not give up until you reach it.

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” – Les Brown

Self-sufficiency. Successful transitions require that you get what you need. Self-sufficiency is not having all that you want – It’s knowing how to connect, communicate and cooperate with other people to obtain what you need. Every transition means starting over in building your network of people that will help you.

“It is precisely because neither individuals nor small groups can be fully self-sufficient that cooperation is necessary.” – Tom Palmer

Selflessness. Successful transitions require that you give what others need. The end goal of transitions is to have made it to the next level. Once you are there, you help others who are trying to make it like you did if you want to fully reap the benefits of your work.

“Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.” – Tony Robbins

Want to be generous? Get more to give more.

generous with your giftsA generous person must first be a successful person who is focused on what they have before they can think about how to use it. Understanding what you have and getting more of it is half of the equation – the other half is how you use what you have. Success only comes from finding a way to bring these two pieces together – the having, and the giving. Zig Ziglar put these two concepts together when he said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Understand what you have. When we talk about being generous, money is the obvious first place we go to. But money is only the beginning and in the long run the lessor of what we have to give. We are all endowed with gifts that we can be generous with – Time, Knowledge, Encouragement – to name a few.

We don’t really know what others are looking for so as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

Getting more of what you have. There are many books and conferences dedicated to getting more money, so let’s look at the how we can be dedicated to get more of the other gifts we can give.

Time – There is a finite amount of time so in reality we can’t get more, but if we want to give more of our time we can prioritize how we are using the time we have. Start by deciding what activities are the most important then align your time to accomplishing those.

Knowledge – We all know something, and most people know a lot. If you want to be generous with your knowledge, then the path to getting more is fairly simple – read more, study more, discuss more – strive to learn more each day, a little at a time.

Encouragement – Lifting others up requires much more passive skills than we think. The key activity of encouragement is listening. This requires that we strive to gain more patience to search for just the right moment to ask the right question, or perhaps point out a new direction for someone to consider.

Robin Sharma talks about creating Perfect Moments in our lives and in the lives of others. All of these perfect moments revolve around experiences with those that we are closest to. He says, “Living a gorgeous life doesn’t require a lot of money. Just a lot of dedication.”

Using what you have. In his book The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino writes about achieving a life of abundance. The main character in this book learns the full measure of success when he is told, “Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving.”

Understanding what we have and how to get more of it only leads to success when we are generous in sharing. Find ways to be in situations to use what you have for the benefit of others. Measure your opportunities against the yardstick of generosity and you will find success will be yours to receive and to give.

Don’t stop at good, go for great

good to great nelson mandelaI have been working in business for thirty years and have a successful career.

I started writing in addition to my career because I saw it as a way to reach and teach many more people than I could just one-on-one or speaking to groups. I still mentor, teach, and speak today and enjoy every opportunity but I also write a blog and have a following on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter where I share my thoughts on leadership. That was a big step for me to now reach over 10,000 people regularly.

Three years ago I published my first book, The Leadership GPS, and it became an Amazon Best Seller.

These have all been steps on my personal journey from good to great and I’m not done – I am in the process of writing my next book. You see, I call my goal from good to great, Change The World Through Leadership Now.

After each step towards my goal I could see the next step I needed to take. It is just like Nelson Mandela said, “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

I want to share with you the three steps I consistently take on my journey from good to great:

Sharpen your focus. Life can be full of issues that need to be resolved. We can get really good at managing them. Many of these issues are important and need your investment – it’s ok if you take care of them, just don’t let this become your life’s work. Keep focused on your good to great goal and get back to it regularly – and if you can, perhaps you can use solving the issues as part of your good to great goal.

“Managing your problems can only make you good, whereas building your opportunities is the only way to become great.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great

Accomplish small steps. Great things are rarely achieved with the first try. It’s a process that builds on itself. With each small step of success ask yourself “What’s next?” And use what you’ve built to reach the next step.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Finish with great. Great is a life-long dream. Believe you will reach it and keep climbing.   No matter how many times you may slip, pick yourself up, learn from what happened and get going again.

“Most great people have attained their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.” – Napoleon Hill

 

So much to teach – so few opportunities

smal opportunities to helpWhatever you have accomplished…Whatever you have learned…Whatever you have experienced…adds to who you are. I believe that who we are is meant not just for ourselves, but to teach others.

The only way to pass on all we know is to use every opportunity as a teaching moment. Think of each interaction as a chance to add value to another person. I have found that in doing this I gain more personal and team success in the long run. Brian Tracy points out that, “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

When will the opportunities come? There is no time like the present. And if you think you have missed opportunities in the past, then the second best time to look is still right now.

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” – Napoleon Hill

How will I be able to spot the opportunities to teach? Here’s how I began looking for opportunities to teach early my leadership career: Each morning I picked one key item from a book I was reading and looked for a chance to teach someone what I had learned. I didn’t let a day go by without sharing at least once.

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” – William Arthur Ward

How many opportunities should I expect to get? As many as you can find the time to take advantage of. You’ll be amazed when you start looking how many you will see.

“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1.440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” – Les Brown

Understand the real question before you answer.

answering the right questionSuccessful people don’t always have the answer to every question, but they know how to find it. The key to finding the answers is to understand the real question before you answer.

Author, Shannon L. Adler believes that, “Most misunderstandings could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask what else could this mean.” I agree. In this busy world we often want to quickly answer what we think we hear so we can get onto the next question. As the witty Charles Schultz says, “In the book of life’s questions, the answers are not in the back.”

The reality is that we should invest the time needed to get the right answer the first time. Albert Einstein, arguably one of the brightest scientific minds, said, “It’s not that I’m so smart. But I stay with questions much longer.”

If you dig a little deeper you may find that once you discover the real question, the answer is easier than you originally thought. Dr. Seuss wrote many children’s books that were filled with wisdom shared as witty stories. His advice on understanding the real question before you answer is, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

If you want to truly succeed, asking the right questions is the key. As novelist Thomas Berger once said, “The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.”

How long should you work on culture?

culture pictureYou’re always working on culture, but you have choices to make if you want to ensure your work leads to the right culture for your company.

Culture is what you stand for. Culture is what you want to accomplish. Culture is also how you want to get there. Culture starts at the top but is only successful when it is lived throughout the organization

“If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will just take care of itself.” – Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos.

How to start your culture – Define it clearly.

Start with the mission – why are you doing what you do, what does your company or team look like with it is working at full success. Use action words in the present tense as if you are doing them already. Southwest Airline’s mission is to, “Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.”

Next comes the outcome of the mission – the vision. For Southwest that is, “To become the World’s Most Loved, Most Flown, and Most Profitable Airline.”

Then is the small number of steps you will consistently execute that will bring the mission and vision – the values. Here are some of Southwest’s values, Work Hard, Follow The Golden Rule, Have FUN, Safety and Reliability.”

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.” – Jack Welch

How to spread it through the organization – Measure it consistently.

Achieving a successful culture is like any other endeavor. What gets measured gets done. Only through regular reminders and follow up will your culture become something that is spread throughout your organization.

“Culture lives on when it’s taught and practiced. Teach your employees your culture and let them share what they’ve learned.” – HerdWisdom.com

How to keep it alive – Reward it frequently.

If you want your team to know that the culture is important, you have to celebrate it when you see it. Be specific in your praise. Not just thank you, but thank you for living our culture by doing a certain act in a certain way.

“When you lavish praise on people, they flourish.” – Richard Branson

How to get aligned

getting alignedYou’re driving your car and you notice the steering wheel is vibrating, you have to hold it off-center to go straight, if you let go the car veers to the right or the left. When you bought the car the wheels were aligned and the car drove straight. Over time, general use, bumps over curbs, and potholes caused the wheels to be misaligned. If you want to have an easier time driving to your destination and save the wear and tear on your tires, you need to get your wheels aligned.

You are leading a project at work and it’s not meeting the deadlines that were set. When you started the project, everyone on the team understood and bought into the vision. Over time, other priorities came into focus, missteps, and mistakes, caused the project activities to be misaligned. If you want to have an easier time reaching the project milestones and save the wear and tear on the team members, you need to get your activities aligned.

How to get aligned. Getting out of alignment with car wheels happens all the time. We expect it, look for it, and deal with it by adjusting the suspension so the wheels sit on the road the correct way and move in the direction that the driver is steering. What about projects? It happens here all the time also. It’s actually just as easy to diagnose, but will take a bit longer to align than when you take your car to the mechanic. Here’s what you should do:

Go back to where you first got aligned – the vision of the end state. The reason that projects get out of alignment is that over time a team of people can forget why they are doing what they are doing. When we forget where we are going, any road seems like the right road.

Someone who knows quite a bit about cars, teamwork, and success is Mario Andretti. He is the only person to be named Unites States Driver of the year in three decades, the first driver to win IndyCar races in four decades, and the first to win auto races of any kind in five decades. On the importance of always knowing where you are going he said, “Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal.”

Revalidate that each team member knows how what they do fits into the end state. Day to day activity can become unfulfilling if we don’t understand how what we do makes a difference. Everyone needs to feel connected to something bigger.

Vince Lombardi, one of the most successful NFL coaches and namesake of the Super Bowl trophy said this about teamwork, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Get everyone back on the track to success – delegate with a plan. The project won’t work unless everyone is out working on their individual part. Don’t keep the control too close to home, you can’t keep directing everything.

Eli Broad founded two Fortune 500 companies in different industries (KB Homes and SunAmerica). His view on successful delegation is simple, “The trick to delegating is to make sure your employees share your priorities.”

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