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How comfortable are you doing presentations?

How about presentations over the phone? Since you’re not looking the audience in the face, phone presentations are even more challenging because body language is removed from the range of cues available to convey your messages and gauge audience reactions.

Having seen some challenging presentations delivered recently via conference call, here are 7 tips for presenting over the phone:

  • Never miss an opportunity to speak in the first person (we vs. you). Take advantage of opportunities to put yourself on the same side as the audience, particularly with controversial topics or unfamiliar audiences.
  • Check in frequently to solicit comments or verbal acknowledgement on the depth, pace, and content of the presentation.
  • Silence is okay – don’t be nervous about it or try to fill it up unnecessarily. Give audience members time to think and absorb the content.
  • If someone wants to cover something out of sequence, go ahead and cover it; don’t say you’ll cover it later and go on. It’s no different than when a customer’s ready to buy – you need to close the sale.
  • Try to interpret the real meanings behind questions. Without visual cues, you have to be more perceptive than normal to understand a question’s origin and the answer being sought. Answer what the person’s really asking, even if it’s not what they asked directly.
  • Don’t over answer questions. Instead, answer briefly, check in verbally to see if you’re on target, and get “permission” to continue the answer if necessary.
  • If you haven’t heard from an audience member on a reasonably sized call, specifically ask for comments and reactions before getting off the phone. Don’t let any participant off the hook without saying something, even if it’s to say, “No comment.”

Try these out and call to let me know how they work!

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There can be great reassurance in surrounding yourself with expertise during a difficult situation.

On a flight from St. Louis to Kansas City, we were experiencing “moderate turbulence.” We knew this because a Southwest Airlines pilot was sitting in the aisle seat and weighed in on the degree of turbulence, based on his trained expertise. He shared the various levels of “chop” and “turbulence,” letting us know despite our impressions of the flight, it could get MUCH worse. He reassured us he had only seen EXTREME TURBULENCE once in his career.

That information helped make what seemed to be a VERY BUMPY flight much more tolerable.

Next time you’re in bumpy creative skies, look for an expert to help get your bearings, understand why you’re experiencing turbulence, and realize that even with EXTREME TURBULENCE your creative plane won’t break apart.

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Holiday Inn Express touts its cinnamon rolls as a great breakfast treat. Even though they’re probably pre-manufactured far away from the breakfast area and kept warm under a heat lamp, they are pretty darn good.

And the smell of them in the lobby is unmistakable.

Interestingly enough, the hand lotion at Holiday Inn Express is also cinnamon scented. So if you apply any of it, you’ll smell those cinnamon rolls a good part of the day – a great sensory brand reinforcer.

Here’s the Brainzooming question: Most of your customers likely have all five senses, so how can you figure out a way to connect your brand to a non-traditional sense as a strong reinforcer?

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One of my favorite ways to work at the computer is with my cat Coco sitting on my lap, purring. It makes creative time a warm, wonderful experience.*

* Unless of course you’re allergic to cats. Don’t try this Jan!

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Here’s a quick video from a recent trip back to Western Kansas.

It’s a reflection about how rules and boundaries get imposed, often without any real consideration of whether they help, hurt, or in fact do nothing but waste energy relative to what’s really important.

Go forth and think outside the lines!


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To wrap up the week, here’s a link tweeted by Scott Frederick – an instructive scene from “The Office” if you’d like to see nearly all of the NOs standing in the way of innovation in just over 2 minutes!

Want to be more innovative? It’s simple – do nothing that Michael does. Doesn’t get much easier than that for a Friday!

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Last Friday evening, I tweeted a request for potential blog topics. @DrStrik9 requested a post on innovation amid competing objectives or multiple bosses. It’s a situation that’s very realistic, and while it can be challenging, here are some steps to take:

  • Understand the Political Fray – Make sure you have a strong read on the business culture and the political ins and outs of the business. That foundation is key to navigating successfully through varied perspectives.
  • Stay Rooted in the Fundamental Question“What are we trying to achieve?” Amid differing points of view, you want to be able to demonstrate that your actions and perspectives tie back to what’s right for the business.
  • Actively Manage Relationships – Differing points of view suggest at least two parties involved. That means you’ll likely have to take on a mediator role to strengthen relationships among the contending parties.
  • Identify Areas of Mutual Agreement among Apparently Conflicting Objectives – Find where even conflicting points of view share some commonality. If you can discern points of mutual agreement, you have a base from which to attempt to bring conflicting areas closer to alignment.
  • Don’t Make Decisions in One-Off Conversations – If you’re working with contending authority figures, use one-on-one conversations (or emails) to ask questions, better understand points of view, and identify areas of potential compromise. Don’t use them as decision making opportunities. Doing so means you’ll wind up going back and forth negotiating decisions. Instead, push decision making to joint meetings where all parties are present. This may require strategic delays or bluffing, but you’ll be in a better position to manage a discussion toward getting decisions made (and sticking) when all parties are involved at the same time.

That’s a starting point for something that can certainly be stressful and difficult to do. It would be great to hear what any of you have done in similar situations – what’s worked and not worked for you?

Want more ideas? Go back and take a look at the “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” post, especially number 2 on “NO Direction” and number 7 on “NO Motivation to Innovate” for links to a few more approaches.

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