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There are a few spots left for Wednesday's workshop in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Here is the information. Email Bjorn (contact info below) with any questions (or me).

There will be a meeting of entrepreneurs who want to learn the art of making great presentations. Mr. Ira Koretsky will lead this event. He has travelled the world training people and consulting to organizations on the art and science of great communications. Join us for a fun, engaging and insightful event.  

Ira will introduce us to his five-step approach. He will ask you to draft your pitch (any type of pitch). And he will ask for volunteers to deliver what you have done during the workshop. Ira makes your communications unforgettable. He helps you develop compelling messages to your target audiences. With better spoken, written, and online communications, you will expand brand awareness, improve business outcomes, and strengthen financial results.

Presenting with Confidence: Develop and Deliver Engaging Presentations in 5 Steps
Great presenters transform ideas into action. They put their messages, supporting points, facts, and personal stories into a meaningful context for their audiences. Great presenters do not just tell us what we should know, they tell us what we should do, and why we should do it. Learn the techniques of great presenters. Learn to develop engaging presentations of any type for any audience (e.g., investor,prospecting, partner, executive team, and board updates). Join us as we share the five key steps to becoming a more confident and persuasive presenter. Learn more at www.TheChiefStoryteller.com  

About Our Speaker
Ira Koretsky founded The Chief Storyteller® in 2002. Based on more than 26 years of experience, research, and refinement, he has developed a process shared internationally to over 25,600 people. This flexible process helps you develop and deliver highly targeted messages to your audiences. Ira looks at the world of communications and messaging differently than most. He looks at the world through the lens of storytelling, with a twist (come see the “twist” at this event).  

Meeting objectives
- Identify the best messages and words interesting to your listeners.
- Focus your content on answering the questions of your audience.
- Learn a new way of communicating and building relationships.
- Harness the power of storytelling to meet your objectives more effectively and more quickly. Facts can only prove, stories build value!  

Participants
Everybody, including entrepreneurs, need to pitch their stories to customers, investors, partners, and employees. Usually different pitches to different people.

Time and place
November 14, 2012 from 12:30 to 3:30 pm, Large seminar room at UMBC’s energy incubator (CETI)

1450 South Rolling Road, Halethorpe, MD 21227

Agenda
12:30 pm Doors open & networking.
1:00 pm Workshop conducted by Ira Koretsky.
3:00 pm More networking (Ira will leave for another commitment).  

RSVP
Please RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

We will limit the number of RSVPs to 60. This is likely to become a sold-out event.  This meeting is free and open to all.

Hosts
- Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator (CETI) @ bwtech @ UMBC.
- Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC).

Sponsors
- Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (DBED).
- Whiteford Taylor Preston (WTP).
- SB & Company.

Contact
Bjorn Frogner, PhD
Entrepreneur in Residence, Tel: 443-534-7671
Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator(CETI) at bwtech@UMBC

Twenty-four years ago, I attended a Rotary Club luncheon where my congressman was the featured speaker. He had just returned from an overseas congressional visit to Eastern Europe and he took the occasion to remind us of the importance of family relationships here in America. He closed with a few prophetic words from the Harry Chapin folk rock song, “Cat’s in the Cradle,” about finding time for others, despite the hectic pressures of daily life.

The song is a first-person narrative and is a story about a dad who is too busy to find time for his son.  As a boy, the son talks about growing up to be like his dad. It's only after his son is all grown up does his dad realize what has happened. His son has grown up just like him – too busy and unable to find the time for those closest to him.      

Although I would not become a parent until eight years after first hearing this story, his closing words would remain with me and later guide me in my relationships with my own sons.  Over the course of their young lives, we have done many things, shared countless experiences and gone to many places together – including the recent Marine Corps Marathon 10K race my oldest son and I competed in together.

 

And now, as he and I enjoy his final year at home before going off to college, it occurs to me how right  my congressman was. Spending time with my sons and interacting with them over the years has brought us closer together. For now, anyway, it seems the prophecy of the song has been fulfilled: “He’d grown up just like me, my boy was just like me.”

I share this story because it speaks to the importance of relationships in business, as well. As we say here at The Chief Storyteller®, great relationships are the engine of continued success. They are formed when two people decide to invest the time to interact with one another, not when one person person merely speaks to another in a one-way conversation. This is particularly evident in social media, where many brands mistakenly believe the way to cultivate relationships with their customers is to produce a steady stream of one-way pronouncements. Brands who use social media to truly engage and interact with their customers ultimately enjoy stronger relationships by sharing common interests.   

What relationships are you (or your brand) most proud of?

I'm a big fan of Dan Pink...While his article is about politics...it's really about words and messaging.

Here's the beginning:

This year’s presidential race has now come down to ten days and two people. But like many exercises in persuading, influencing, and otherwise moving others, it has also come down to two words – one for President Barack Obama, another for Governor Mitt Romney.

Which word prevails may determine which man takes the oath of office three months from now – and therein lies a lesson for your own work.

A few years ago, British advertising pioneer Maurice Saatchi conceived the idea of “one-word equity.” His notion was that today -- when all of us feel blasted by a daily fire hose of text, images, and ideas from our computers, phones, and social networks -- the only way to be heard is to push succinctness to it limit.

“What I am describing here is a new business model for marketing, appropriate to the digital age,” Saatchi wrote. “In this model, companies compete for global ownership of one word in the public mind.”

And what goes for companies goes equally for political candidates.

Dan continue discussing President Obama's word of "Forward" and Governor Romney's words of "Believe in America."

If you are a fan of words, content, meaning, and messaging, you'll enjoy Dan's musings.

 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

When You Listen, What Do You Hear?

I went for a run the other day. It was a warm, sunny day so I decided to run along the roads near the gym where I work out. I left my iPod in my locker because I knew it would be safer to listen for the sound of approaching cars and trucks while navigating around the traffic I was likely to encounter. Then something amazing happened.

I started listening.

I encountered a stretch of road where there was no traffic. There I was, just a single runner making his way along a quiet road surrounded by an open field on one side and an untouched forest on the other.  Suddenly, it was quiet. So I started listening. I could hear the crickets chirping in the woods near the road. I could hear the birds singing. And I could hear the rhythmic sound of my running shoes hitting the pavement.

I never noticed the sound of my steps before. The steady beat became a motivational message of sorts. I enjoyed the sound so much I didn’t want it to end.

I started wondering how many other sounds and messages I had never heard before. I had been in countless meetings at work, lectures at school and conversations with others.  What did I miss?   

Here at The Chief Storyteller®, we focus on helping you and others like you tell your business stories. How those stories are perceived, however, often starts with how well you and your audience are listening.

When you listen to a story, what do you hear?

For more insights on listening and audience engagement, please see:
• Mobile Devices in Meetings – Rudeness or Engagement?
• How Engaged Are Your Meeting Participants?
• 10 Content Planning Questions for Getting Conference Attendees to Choose the Ballroom Over the Pool

Yahoo recently published an article, "Body Language Signs to Watch During the Debates." 

This particular paragraph sums it all up nicely:

"The mistakes the presidential candidates have made over the years are numerous. Poor body language has been a common blunder. As much as candidates focus on perfecting the substance of what they say before the cameras, a large number of Americans are really most interested to see how they say it," CNN contributor and history professor Julian Zelizer wrote for CNN.

The article goes in depth on various body language tendencies of both candidates. And the article ends with a brief discussion of six non verbal cues:

1. An itchy nose

2. Hands in pockets

3. Crossed arms

4. Touching the neck

5. Finger pointing

6. Frequent eye blinking

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, June 12, 7:30 - 10:30, The Tower Club, 8000 Towers Crescent Drive, #1700, Vienna, VA 22182.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf

On Monday evening, I was invited by a colleague to attend Arthur Herman's book launch at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. In "Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II," the AEI website writes," Pulitzer Prize finalist Arthur Herman describes how the U.S. won history’s greatest conflict by harnessing free market principles and private-sector creativity and innovation to increase war production."

I enjoyed Herman's talk very much. Overall, well done. I am looking forward to reading my signed copy of "Freedom's Forge."

For The Chief Storyteller's "Presentation Review" Series, here are some thoughts and ideas on Mr. Herman's presentation:

Beginning
> Dr. Herman began talking about the rainy weather. While it may seem mundane, it was a great way to build rapport with the audience.

Discussion Start
> The real meat and potatoes started with "Now, what I want to do here tonight is to tell you a story. And this is a story that usually is told backwards.
If you go to the textbooks, if you go to the movies, if you go to the usual discussions..."

> Excellent way of engaging the audience with "usually told backwards." Now we are waiting for how, why, etc. He builds intrigue.
> He uses a veru powerful figure of speech called anaphora. Anaphora is where the speaker repeats the same word or phrase at the beginning of two or more sentences. Herman uses "If you go to the" three times.
> He showed a black and white photograph of a B29 Bomber to complement his message.

Middle
> Herman shared a very logical and linear approach to support his ideas.
> My suggestion is to tell more stories to illustrate your points. While he hinted at some in short, 20 to 30 second spans, I'd suggest two to three minute stories. For example, in the Q&A, he mentioned a richly told story of a young woman working in a factory. He shared that she wrote a letter to her husband saying something like, "I am helping build a ship for him to come home in." The quiet in the room was palpable. It was a moving example. More example stories would have made his talk even better and more memorable.

End
> Herman wrapped up his presentation in a neat little bow. "The people I think you will meet in this book. The people that I met as a result of writing it. I have to tell you. I fell in love with them. I hope in reading this book you will too. Thank you very much." (Around the 44:00 minute mark in the video)

General Comments
> During Q&A, Mr. Herman was poised, inviting, and comfortable. He made every person whom asked a question feel important.
> His photographs perfectly complemented his points and were engaging and interesting to look at.
> He varied his voice quality, tone, and cadence in just the right ways. Body language as well.


To learn more about Dr. Herman:
- AEI video of his presentation
- Wikipedia page
- Time interview "How To Build a War Machine"
- Book listing on Amazon (click here or on the image below)

I was invitied to a National Press Club lunch (thanks Matt, Advocatus Group), to hear Danica Patrick speak. Her topic centered around her history as an Indy Car driver and the now transition to NASCAR.

In the introduction by NPC President Theresa Werner, Werner shared a few interesting facts: a) The first woman to lead an Indianapolis 500; b) the first woman to win an IndyCar series race, and c) the best finish for a woman in an Indianapolis 500 at third place. What I found interesting was how much emphasis everyone was placing on gender--her being a woman--and not how accomplished of a driver she was.

Because...

Danica's message was all about being a great driver first, and oh by the way, I am a woman. She did say that being a woman did indeed accelerate her success and perhaps even was a contributor in her early days because of the media coverage.

Here are a few of her quotes that I thought interesting and insightful.
- “I always wanted to be the first me, not the next somebody else”

- "Let's face it, if someone is different and unique, it's a story"

- "My goal is not to be the best girl. It is to be the best driver"

- When she answered a question about how she selects sponsors, she responded, "Does the brand fit?"

- "It's a whole package deal. So I am going to use the package. I am going to use it for all that I can and all that I am"

 

The NPC provided a nice smile-inducing desert of racing car cookies inscribed with Danica's number 10.

I am honored to be speaking at the local MIT Enterprise Forum® here in the Washington, DC area. Thank you to my good friend Oz from InnoEngineer for setting this event up.

Here is all of the information...

Get Funded - Design and Deliver the Perfect Investor Pitch [Open Workshop Event]
It is imperative to have a clear and concise message that gets prospective investors to say, "Let’s talk!"…especially in today's economy. In this interactive, hands-on workshop, you will learn how to create a powerful, clear message that wows prospective investors. Apply five proven steps taught internationally, to design and deliver the perfect investor pitch. Receive concrete suggestions on your presentation based on individual and partner exercises. Join us as we show you how to transform your ideas into action.

 

Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Time: 6:30pm - 9:00pm

Location: Startup Lab, Johns Hopkins University, DC Campus, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Lower Level, Room 7

Parking:  Central Parking, 1800 Mass. Ave. NW. If you click http://washingtondc.centralparking.com/Washington-DC-1800-Massachusetts-Aven ue-NW-Parking.html you can get a coupon that reduces the cost to $6 after 5:00 PM. Nearest Metro stop is Dupont Circle. 

As leaders of businesses, governmental agencies and associations, we encounter questions from those we lead through a variety of media – public speaking forums, face-to-face conversations, email, blog posts and even social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In many cases, how we answer those questions says more about us and our ability to lead than our answers do.

Consider this example. A friend of mine, Carol, recently posed a simple yet thoughtful question to a speaker during a public forum. In response, the speaker smiled and said, “Carol, that’s a great question. I’m glad you asked that. Let me answer by saying….”  Before he even offered an answer to the question, the speaker framed his response in a way that made Carol feel like the most important person in the room. What effect do you think this had on Carol’s perception of the speaker as a leader?

As an alternative, what do you suppose Carol’s reaction would have been to a response that sounded something like this: “I’m not sure I understand your question. Let’s take that off line.” Or to a response similar to this: “I’ve already answered that question. Would you like for me to answer it again?”  In both of these instances, the speaker appears as if he is belittling Carol for asking the question – in the first response, by suggesting she didn’t ask her question clearly, and in the second, by making it sound as if she’s asking a question she should know the answer to.  What effect do you think either of these responses might have on Carol’s perception of him as a leader?

Here at The Chief Storyteller, one of our top 50 business storytelling mantras for 2012 is to “Treat everyone like a CEO.” Answering questions in a way that makes people feel important is one good way to do that. 

Last year I shared my top 50 business storytelling mantras. As I plan for 2012, I always look to my list to light a small fire of inspiration.

As you look through this list, see what applies to your life or what you want to apply. Write your own list of mantras. Whatever you do, make a list (short or long) of your goals and aspirations. Every so often read, revise, and contemplate...

 

Here are the mantras at The Chief Storyteller. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to your business stories. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.

1.    It’s all about them.
2.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
3.    Write to the 10th grade level.
4.    Be memorable.
5.    Use humor if you want to.
6.    Content is king.
7.    Relationships matter.
8.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
9.    Know your elevator speech / elevator pitch / mission statement (core business story).
10.    Ensure your core business story is unified throughout all communication materials.
11.    Your brand story is everything.
12.    Success stories are key to differentiation.
13.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
14.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
15.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
16.    Everything you write, speak, and record online is a business story.
17.    Content first. Design second.
18.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
19.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your employees).
20.    Everyone builds relationships through networking.
21.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
22.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
23.    Blogs are for sharing, educating, and inspiring…not selling.
24.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
25.    Generating genuine interest in your product/service is the first step in building a relationship.
26.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
27.    Write in your authentic voice.
28.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
29.    Words really, really matter.
30.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
31.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
32.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
33.    Speak in headlines.
34.    Write and speak conversationally.
35.    Treat every client like your best client.
36.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.
37.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
38.    Change is a choice.
39.    Deliver on the expected experience.
40.    Create your own success momentum.
41.    Be a student everyday.
42.    Be a deliberate networker.
43.    Be a deliberate communicator.
44.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
45.    Be a mentor.
46.    Be a whole body communicator.
47.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
48.    Inspire Action:  facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
49.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions:  offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.
50.    People are at the heart of every great story.

A friend of mine recently shared a letter she and her fellow employees received from their CEO. It was an end of year summary, intended to help everyone reflect on the past and anticipate the future.  The letter was titled, “Quality is Limitless.”

After thanking and acknowledging his employees for a very successful year, the CEO wrote about the story behind the title because, he said, “there’s always a story.” The title of his letter came from a conversation he recently had with the maestro of a local orchestra. The maestro was telling him how far he thought the orchestra had come in the quality of its performances when the CEO asked, “How good do you think they can be?”

The maestro paused for a moment and then said, “I believe quality is limitless.” Passion drives quality, he explained, and the more passion you can ignite within the people around you, the higher the quality becomes.

This is a great story, as told by a great leader and CEO – a "maestro" whose employees are working in harmony like the talented men and women of an orchestra – passionate about their business and the community they serve.  The quality of their future performances is as limitless as the passion they will bring to their jobs in the new year. His job, as he well knows, is to ignite that passion.

How good do you think your employees can be? 

I recently found TweepsMap and found it to be a fascinating application. Provide your Twitter name and password, and in less than 30 seconds, you'll have a world-wide view of your Twitter followers.

As I would expect, the majority of my followers are from the United States (~78%). Since I have done programs and consulting in Canada and the UK, I have a higher number of followers, both at about 5%. 

You can switch between a Map and List version with a click of a button.

What does your TweepsMap reveal?

 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"No" Often Hides the Door to "Yes"

Over the years I have learned to use the hidden power of "No" when working with certain types of people or with time-challenged teams. 

Today I have a client where the team is out of town half of every month. Saying that scheduling meetings is a challenge is sometimes an understatement.

With their personalities and time commitments, they are the perfect candidates for applying my "No" style of consulting.

For example, while developing a new presentation outlying the group's strategy, we would collaborate and develop the outline. I would then show them two to three options for each of the major concept storyboards/slides. The various team members inevitably would tell me more about what he/she didn't like than what he/she did like.

And that was perfect. I got the results I wanted. I learned what the team preferences were for the messaging and visuals.

Sometimes consultants shy away from what seems like a confrontational communication style. Try looking at how the client communicates, the reasons, and what you can do to adapt your style to achieve the same results.

Yesterday I came across an interesting blog posting "The Pull of Narrative – In Search of Persistent Context." It was an interesting and thought provoking piece on the concept of narrative and why it is better than storytelling. This excerpt does a pretty good job of capturing John Hagel's sentiment. Below the excerpt is my comment.

Excerpt:  Stories and narratives are often used interchangeably, as synonyms.  But here I will draw a crucial distinction between the two.  Narratives, at least in the way I will be using them, are stories that do not end – they persist indefinitely. They invite, even demand, action by participants and they reach out to embrace as many participants as possible. They are continuously unfolding, being shaped and filled in by the participants.  In this way, they amplify the dynamic component of stories, both in terms of time and scope of participation. Stories are about plots and action while narratives are about people and potential.

-------------------------

John,

Just came across your posting. Your article is interesting and thought provoking. After reading it, I do not agree that narrative is different from storytelling.

My focus is storytelling as part of making your professional and personal communications unforgettable. Every single thing you say, write, or post online is a story. 

For this to work, the "effect" of the story has to persist long after the story is read or heard.

It is funny for me to say this, when I was in college, I was repeatedly told that the soft skills were less important…I came to believe it. How shortsighted that thinking was. And unfortunately, it is ubiquitous worldwide.

It is an easy laugh to say public speaking is the number one fear. There are more than 20 phobias associated with communicating. Life in and of itself is not the best teacher for communication. Most students who graduate high school, college, and to some extent graduate school are not truly prepared for the professional world in terms of communication. They have the skills to be excellent in his/her profession. 

I learned from working in a hospital years ago a nursing adage:  see one, do one, teach one.Rather than redefine or move people to rethink narrative over story, I'd strongly suggest providing people with the know-how (e.g., tools, templates, examples, and case studies) to be great storytellers--to be great communicators. 


Ira Koretsky
The Chief Storyteller
www.TheChiefStoryteller.com/blog
Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Road to Best-in-Class

Name the best in your industry, profession or sport. What are they doing now?

Practicing. Preparing for the next campaign, interview or game.

Somewhere right now, someone is competing with you for the top spot.  They’re honing their strategies, perfecting basic skills and learning new techniques. 

If you or your organization is looking to become the best in your industry, profession or sport, you need to make sure you and your team members are all-in. In short, everyone needs to be personally invested in your success. And that means practice and preparation.

Practice can make a positive impact in almost every functional area of an organization.  In the area of marketing communications, for example, team members from best-in-class organizations tend to exhibit these attributes:
• A well-rehearsed elevator speech (answer to “What do you do?). Everyone should be able to internalize and deliver the same 30-second pitch.
• Presentations with purpose. Prepare for and rehearse your customer presentations so you start and end on time and follow a customer-focused agenda.
• A clear and consistent message.  Every message you share verbally, in print and online should be consistent with your desired brand perception.
• The right tools and resources. Choose your resources wisely. Use tools like white papers, email, direct mail, websites, testimonials and social media that demonstrate a record of quantifiable success.
• A relentless pursuit of excellence. Strive to exceed your customer’s expectations. Outperform your competitors.

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, July 26, 8:30 - 11:30, Fairview Park Marriott Hotel, 3111 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042.

*** We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf

Join NBPCI and The Chief Storyteller for a roll-up-your-sleeves workshop to make your three most important documents unforgettable to prospective government clients. They are your elevator speech, capability statement, and capability presentation. Turn your Big 3 into memorable, powerful packages inspiring prospects to say, “We need you.” 

The event is Tue, July 26, 8:30 - 11:30, Fairview Park Marriott Hotel, 3111 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church, VA 22042.

*** We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

Detailed information is below...

The Big 3:  How to Grow Your Revenue with a Compelling Elevator Speech, Capabilities Statement, and Capabilities Presentation

Learn how to develop high impact messages with supporting talking points, content, and win themes through easy-to-follow processes. Your program is rich with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

Bring hardcopies of your Big 3 documents and your laptop, as you’ll be making changes to your documents during the program.

* Special Offer:  For 30 days following the workshop, you are eligible for a free review of one of your Big 3 documents. Each review includes personalized suggestions.

Benefits of Attending
- Learn a powerful, internationally-taught process for developing compelling and engaging sales messages
- Make changes in real-time to each of your core sales tools
- Be inspired with proven, fresh ideas to convert prospects into clients

Your Program Includes:
- 30-page workbook filled with exercises, examples, how-to’s, processes, and templates
- Three, multi-page tip guides
- Free access to over 700 thought-provoking articles, ideas, and tips
- Copy of the presentation in PDF
- A 3-hour hands-on workshop, along with a specific action plan for improving your Big 3

We have secured a special rate just for friends of the The Chief Storyteller. Register today.

About Your Presenter, Ira Koretsky, The Chief Storyteller ®
Ira has been helping companies like yours develop strategic messaging and content management frameworks for over 23 years. He knows how to help you turn your Big 3 into documents getting prospects to say, “We need you.” Ira has delighted audiences around the world turning business stories into revenue. He is a sought-after speaker, consultant, columnist, and trainer. Be inspired with his mantra, “Think deliberately and differently.” Stay engaged with insightful exercises and actionable ideas you can implement immediately.
The Chief Storyteller helped IntelliDyne win a $94 million contract with the Federal government, TCIG quadruple its contracting revenue in six months, professionals at the EPA develop clear and compelling mission statements, and the CDC develop a complete outreach program for an important community health initiative.

Complete biography chiefstoryteller_pdf

I recently responded to a question from one of my professional speaking groups in LinkedIn. The person asked about the value of free workshops. Absolutely, if done deliberately. Here's my answer...

For new speakers, free/unpaid speaking engagements is a great way to build momentum, brand, awareness, etc. Also, in regard to some of the other comments, invest in yourself with speaker professional development training and practice. For my first large keynote of several thousand, I rented a room and invited 50 of my friends and colleagues to lunch. I went through my presentation. Then eagerly listened to their suggestions. Best investment early in my speaking career.

For experienced speakers, be selective. I only speak for free for associations/trade groups as I'm leveraging a one-to-many relationship. Our name, brand, topic, and message gets shared with the email list, sometimes in excess of 20,000 names. Every single free event has yielded another event or a paid engagement. I use three main criteria before saying yes. Does the majority of the audience meet my Ideal Client Profile (ICP)? Is it within an hour's drive? In exchange for my time, will the organizer provide a testimonial and positive referral to headquarters for potential national exposure? If yes to all three, then I generally accept the invitation. If it's outside an hour, then I start talking expenses and fees.

I treat every free event as if it's paid. Anything less and I shouldn't agree. The organizers know full well my time is an investment with the potential of new clients. To me, the difference between free and paid is in the level of customization. Paid events are customized--free events are not. I've been speaking for 30 years and spent 12 years performing improvisational humor professionally. So all of my customization is done on-the-fly.

Lastly, ensure you have a way to capture on-going interest. I offer tip guides, articles, no obligation review of one business story element, and others. Now I have interested persons who want to hear from me.

In today's meeting, there were two very strong-willed executives. The goal was to select the preferred headline for their elevator speech (answer to "What do you do?").

Joan, was willing to agree to headline two if the group felt strongly in favor. Christine really wanted headline two. And boy did she let everyone know it. She nearly bullied the room to accept headline two. Can you guess who was the voice of opposition? Yes, Joan. Why? Because human nature kicked in. She become defensive and reactive.

Christine had two options to make the decision process smooth. She could have (1) met all of the key decision makers before the meeting and (b) used subtle ways of influencing and persuading during the meeting. 

When you have a project or idea you are especially passionate about, think about how you can influence and persuade...will you gently nudge, assertively push, or shove them off a cliff?

* names changed

I was having lunch with my good friend and colleague John Fineran from FinTel Communications. He mentioned a cool new feature in LinkedIn. You can now have full-sized profile photographs.

When you visit someone's profile, move your mouse over the profile picture and you'll see a magnifying glass appear as in the picture below. Click and the larger picture appears.

To add your own personal high-resolution photograph, go to the Edit Profile option in the menu. Then click on the blue Edit link under your profile picture. Finish by following the instructions to upload your new photo. It should take 20 seconds.

You'll find other helpful article links on improving your LinkedIn profile at the bottom.

Improve Your LinkedIn Profile with Tips and Ideas from these Articles:
- Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn
- LinkedIn for Job Hunters: Tips to Create a Must-Read Profile
- It’s Who Knows You: Three Little Known Ways to Turn LinkedIn into a More Valuable Sales Tool

We have various guides and templates in the office. Guides for writing blogs, articles, and tip guides. We have a brand guide for color, font, format, and logo use. What we don't have is a consolidated list, in one place, of all our mantras--the phrases, statements, aha's, rules, etc.--that "guide" us as we create and deliver content, messages, and great business stories.

Here are our top 50. Think about this list and how it can help prompt new and fresh approaches to your business stories. We would love to hear your mantras...please leave them in the comments.

1.    It’s all about them.
2.    Business stories are the engine of relationships and relationships are the engine of continued success.
3.    Write to the 10th grade level.
4.    Be memorable.
5.    Use humor if you want to.
6.    Content is king.
7.    Relationships matter.
8.    Credibility is more important than expertise in the beginning of relationships.
9.    Know your elevator speech / elevator pitch / mission statement (core business story).
10.    Ensure your core business story is unified throughout all communication materials.
11.    Your brand story is everything.
12.    Success stories are key to differentiation.
13.    (Good) blog and article content matters the most.
14.    Strive for “interest” questions. Avoid “understanding” questions.
15.    Social communities are built on personal and business stories.
16.    Everything you write, speak, and record online is a business story.
17.    Content first. Design second.
18.    Always have a second person read your content before publishing.
19.    Design your website for your target audiences (not your employees).
20.    Everyone builds relationships through networking.
21.    Send hand-written thank you notes, especially job hunters.
22.    Audiences are hungry for original thought-provoking content.
23.    Blogs are for sharing, educating, and inspiring…not selling.
24.    Get yourself known (e.g., LinkedIn questions and answers, post to SlideShare, and Tweet good information).
25.    Generating genuine interest in your product/service is the first step in building a relationship.
26.    Active listening is key to building great relationships.
27.    Write in your authentic voice.
28.    But is the worst word in the English language (and many other languages).
29.    Words really, really matter.
30.    Treat everyone like a CEO.
31.    Stop listening to your Mother. Talk to strangers at networking events.
32.    It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
33.    Speak in headlines.
34.    Write and speak conversationally.
35.    Treat every client like your best client.
36.    Maintain a detailed Ideal Target Profile for your key target audiences.
37.    Have positive self-talk conversations.
38.    Change is a choice.
39.    Deliver on the expected experience.
40.    Create your own success momentum.
41.    Be a student everyday.
42.    Be a deliberate networker.
43.    Be a deliberate communicator.
44.    Be a people bridge and make referrals.
45.    Be a mentor.
46.    Be a whole body communicator.
47.    Write emails as if they will be read on a smart phone.
48.    Inspire Action: facts do not persuade and inspire, people do.
49.    First Impressions Make Lasting Impressions: offer a warm smile, firm handshake, and good eye contact.
50.    People are at the heart of every great story.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, people will never forget how you made them feel.”
— Maya Angelou, American Poet

“Your first 10 words are more important than your next 10,000.”
— Elmer Wheeler, “Tested Selling Institute,” Late 1940s

“Remember that the person you’re about to meet can become as important to you as someone you’ve known for years.”
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr., Life's Little Instruction Book, 6/2002 Calendar

“I have no use for engines.  Give me the right word...and I will move the world.”
— Joseph Conrad, Novelist, 1857 – 1924

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
— Plato, Philosopher, 427 BC – 347 BC

“The character of a man is known from his conversations”
— Menandros Chiaramonti, Greek dramatist and comedy writer, 342 BC – 292 BC

"Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés"
"Chance favors only the prepared mind"
— Louis Pasteur, Chemist and microbiologist, 1822 – 1895

“The customer rules”
— Turkish business credo, as shared to me by my friend, Ilbay Ozbay

“Conversation in the U.S. is a competitive exercise in which the first person to draw a breath is declared the listener.”
— James Nathan Miller, “The Art of Intelligent Listening," Readers Digest, vol 127, September 1965

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
— Mark Twain, American humorist, lecturer, writer, 1835 – 1910

 

I'm a huge fan of great quotes. I use them all of the time in my articles, blogs, and presentations. Would love to read yours. Please take a moment and add your favorites in the comments section below.

I found out about SlideShare.net's annual contest a little late--just two days before the submission window closed. Well, lo and behold, they extended the contest entry another week to November 15.

If you have a moment, please vote for my presentation at SlideShare. It will appear like the first image below. This is one of my favorite topics, The Deliberate Storyteller. Here's a brief description.

The Deliberate Storyteller:  Turn Your Business Stories and Key Messages into Your Competitive Advantage
Business stories are memorable, powerful packages that get prospects to say, “Tell me more.” They are the words, images, and sounds you use throughout your sales and marketing materials. Examples include presentations, elevator speech, LinkedIn profile, advertising, and website. Learn how to develop high impact messages and select the right business stories through an easy-to-follow process. Stay engaged with practical ideas and thought-provoking exercises you can implement immediately.

One common question I receive about web seminars is, "How can I grab my audience's attention?"  The same question can be applied to live, in-person presentations. The unstated part of the question, and really, what each person is really asking is, "How do I keep my audience's attention throughout the presentation?"

You can't. Accept it. With both types of delivery, people are always multi-tasking (e.g., answering email, looking at his/her smart phone, and completing other work activities). The real question becomes, "How do I keep my audience's attention for most of the time?" And this is where speakers, trainers, instructors, keynotes, etc. show their true skill and worth. This is where one must balance inspiration, education, and entertainment appropriate to the audience, its goals, and your goals.

It's easy to grab attention in the beginning and the end with an interesting personal story, business story, humorous anecdote, powerful photograph, cartoon, or compelling summary. During the middle part, say the middle 50 minutes, is what defines the skill and success of the speaker.

Here are a couple of tips for keeping attention for both web seminars and live, in-person presentations:

Web Seminars
- Ensure your slides are professional looking. How your slides display text, color, layout, branding, etc. matter a lot to viewers.
- Change slides at least every two minutes. Change is key to maintaining attention. "What's coming next?" thinking keeps people focused on your presentation and you.
- Include an interaction about every 15 minutes. I define interactions as any type of written or verbal exercise. Examples include audience poll, answer questions via the Q&A field, and asking for direct comment and feedback with smaller groups.

Live, In-Person Presentation
- Tell interesting personal stories with specific business messages. Here, your story should be a little longer and richer with descriptions and background than web seminars. In a typical 60-minute presentation, generally keep your story under three minutes.
- Leverage body language. Use eye contact, your hands and arms, and your body to accentuate and complement your messages. Try a variety of gestures and body movements, perhaps even exaggerate some to make your point. Remember, part of your responsibility is to entertain.
- Include an interaction about every 12 minutes. Examples include by-a-show-of-hands request, written exercise from a workbook, or partner exercise (e.g., share your elevator speech).

Next time you are in the audience, pay a little more attention to how the speaker grabs and maintains attention.

What tips and suggestions do you have?

Here I am in a 60 minute workshop session. We are 45 minutes into the program when the instructor says to the group,

"Rob, how much time is left? I need to make sure of the time. Likely, I have a lot more material than time to cover. I want to make sure I can get as much in as possible."

If you were in the audience, two thoughts would likely pop up:

a) Speaker was unprepared.

b) Speaker is going to cram so much content I'll never be able to process or remember it.

While I appreciate the instructor's goal of offering high education value, he MUST always be aware of the time versus content challenge. Audiences simply can not process too much information as well as remember it. That's why good instructors and trainers provide a mix of learning materials to help with in-class and after class retention. (e.g., verbal, written, individual, partner, seated, and out-of-your seat exercises)

Professional trainers and speakers have to constantly balance the goals of educate, influence, and entertain.  And the one consistent attribute of the best presenters/trainers, he/she ends on time.

The New York Times recently published an interesting article on participating and leading virtual meetings. I thought the most telling part was in the beginning:

Participants in virtual meetings often feel a lowered sense of accountability, Mr. O’Brien says. “In face-to-face meetings people really show up, not just physically but also mentally. They come to the meeting prepared and actively participate,” he says. In virtual meetings — including the telepresence variety, where images are highly realistic — that’s often not the case.

For someone who has been doing virtual meetings for years...here are a few humorous anecodtes that are unfortunately true (on multiple occasions I've experienced all three and could add several more).

Generally, though, it’s better not to do other things while you’re in a virtual meeting, because you could miss important information. “If you keep asking to have questions repeated or for clarification of what’s being said, you are essentially announcing to everyone: ‘I’m not really paying attention’ and risk looking very unprofessional,” Ms. Stack says.

And use the mute button to block background noise. Mr. Preston recalled a teleconference in which someone was eating a bag of potato chips. “You could hear it rustling during the meeting, and finally someone said: ‘Whoever is eating the potato chips, could you please mute?’ That’s embarrassing.”

The mute button is also important if you use a headset. “I’ve had meetings where someone went into the bathroom and forgot their headset was on,” Mr. O’Brien says.

I attended a conference today. And the executive introducing the main stage speaker repeated his name and title, not 30 seconds after he was just introduced. Here's what occurred:

a) Mary, the conference host, is at the podium. She introduces an executive from the major event sponsor, Company ABC. She says to the audience,

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce to you our event sponsor, William Businessman, Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Channel Programs  (audience applauses). He will be introducing our keynote presenter, Sally Speaker.

b) William comes up to the podum and begins his introduction with the following,

Good morming. Thank you for the honor of addressing you today. As Mary said, I am William Businessman, Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Channel Programs. I'd like to introduce...(introduction continues)

 

I wish I knew why the "Williams" of the world repeat the information. What I do know is...listen to the audience immediately following the repeated information and hear them make unfavorable comments about the presenter.

This is the perfect time for you to give a shortened version of your elevator speech. Focus on the benefits your organization can bring to the audience and less on your name or title. People care about WIIFM (What's In It For Me) more than your name.

In March of 2009, I met Seb Elsworth of the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO). It was about 9pm at a reception at the Great Ideas Conference (from ASAE). Seb is the director of strategy for ACEVO, a very important association in the UK. They bring together the senior leadership of charities to discuss strategy and tactics on a variety of topics such as messaging, volunteerism, government support, grants, programs, publicity, board of directors, and the list goes on.

Our serendipitious meeting included of course, seredipitous conversation. By the time the night was over, we had agreed I would present a business storytelling keynote in London.

Image 1 is the cover page of my keynote, Build the Right Relationships:  How What You Say Significantly Impacts Organisational Performance. Over the course of about 20 minutes I shared several important concepts. One of the big ones was shown on image 2 below--Pants.  Several years ago I learned the word "pants" to the British means underwear and trousers are used for what we refer to as pants in the United States. I shared this story with the group. I then asked them, "Do you have any pants in your messaging?" Are there words and phrases you know of or think might be misunderstood or not as impactful as they could be?

Additionally, on image 3, I briefly covered the four questions about business storytelling and how it affects the CEO and his/her charity organization.

"What Do You Do?" and "That's Interesting, Tell Me More," two fun, insightful business exercises were introduced to the group of about 200.

It was another fantastic international experience. (Read the subsequent blog entry, Wow! Tell Me More - An Article for United Kingdom Charities, on my article published in ACEVO's Network Magazine).

 

Several years ago, I used to work for a large organization that held annual conferences in convention cities like Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada.  The conferences would begin with a lot of fanfare and enthusiasm, along with a standing-room only general session on the morning of the first day.

Like clockwork, a pattern of decreasing attendance would begin on the afternoon of the first day and continue up until the time we departed two to three days later.   Initially, I assumed everyone was taking care of business matters that had arisen since the conference had started.  In fact, I started to feel like I was doing something wrong because my workload seemed so much lighter than everyone else.  It wasn’t until I walked by the pool during one of the breaks that it hit me – while I was in the ballroom, a lot of my associates were at the pool.

Many of those who spent time by the pool did so because they felt the content of the conference sessions was not relevant to them.  This sentiment is one of the biggest challenges event planners for associations and large corporations face when planning a conference.

How, then, do you provide content that is meaningful enough so that your attendees will choose the ballroom over the pool?

To know what your audience will find meaningful, do your homework.  Go on a listening tour and spend time meeting with representative members from your prospective audience.

Here are 10 questions to ask of prospective attendees, so you will better understand what’s important to them and why.

1. Why are you planning on attending the conference?  Ask for three reasons.
2. What topics would be most beneficial to your professional development?
3. What topics would be most beneficial to your personal development?
4. What are the top three goals for your organization this year?
5. What are the top three goals for your organization two years and beyond?
6. What are the top three challenges preventing you from achieving your goals?
7. What types of keynote or general session topics are you interested in?
8. What types of session or workshop topics are you interested in?
9. What is the preferred length of time for a session or workshop?  
10. For you to consider your time well spent at this conference, what are the top three takeaways you will need to leave with?

After learning all about your attendee’s goals and preferences, customize your conference communication materials with compelling messages that will resonate.

With skillful planning, your program will be inspiring, engaging, educational, and entertaining enough to keep your audience members glued to their seats…in the ballroom.

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