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4 minutes | Jan 11, 2020
National Speakers Association, Northern California, January Chapter Meeting
People try to put us d-down (talkin' 'bout my generation)Just because we get around (talkin' 'bout my generation)Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin' 'bout my generation)I hope I die before I get old (talkin' 'bout my generation) -- The Who, 1965 Over 50 members and guests of the Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association gathered in Lafayette on Saturday to hear NSA National President Anna Liotta, CSP, deliver a program titled What's Stopping Millennials/GenXers/Boomers from Hiring You, And What to Do About It. She previewed her talk with a custom video addressed to the chapter: Talkin' 'bout my generation For those Baby Boomers who didn't die before they got old--and learned the value of trusting anyone over 30 a few decades back--Anna's talk had particular poignancy. She explained how the recent OK Boomer meme is the equivalent of the advice not to trust anyone over 30. What goes around comes around. Here's why... Generational Codes Anna Liotta has studied generational dynamics for over 25 years. Indeed, she wrote the book on generational CODES™. What's more, she’s lived the research. As one of 19 (!) children, her entire life has been a Ph.D. in generational dynamics. Her presentation addressed the question: What makes this age-old conflict of generational collisions and biases so important to us in business today? Her concept of generational codes helps explain: What defines each generation, including pivotal events and experiences that shaped it. The truths and lies behind generational stereotypes. How various generations define their work ethic. How technology can bridge or break down generational communication. The secrets of selling products and services to different generations. What you need to know as a manager to find and retain new talent. Anna demonstrated how, as speakers, we should develop savvy messages that appeal to the different generations. This task is often confusing, as each generation has unique needs and motivators. Each brings its own set of attitudes, values, and beliefs to the workplace, and the way they do business. They make choices of who to buy from and who to work for, based on these values and beliefs. Understanding what shapes and forms each generation is vital. Interestingly, each generation is sure that their values, attitudes, and beliefs are the right ones. Her insight is that each generation is significantly influenced by what was happening in the world around them during their formative years. The ages of eight to 18 are when each generation is making decisions about how the world works and what’s possible. The events, icons, and leaders they see, experience, adore, and dislike are shaping their world. These influences set the paradigm for decision making, purchasing choices, and job selection for years to come. Anyone doubting this can see the trajectory of individual lives play out in director Michael Apted’s films about a cohort of British Boomer children, the most recent of which--63 Up--opened in the US last month. OK, Boomer! My own rather self-satisfied response to the generational divide was to tweak the noses of the younger members of the audience who were strangely absent from the social media channel the chapter had promoted. In her own words I caught up with Anna after the event, and she shared her message with me, as well as an update on the changes that are occurring at the NSA. To hear what she said, click on the podcast below.
3 minutes | Feb 10, 2019
Interview: Dr. Gail Ferreira – Agile Leader
Gail is an executive level expert and thought leader driving the vision and tactical decisions for large-scale transformation programs, from the C-Suite to the team level. Gail excels at leading complex, multidimensional transformations, managing client and vendor relationships. Additionally, Gail manages complex client challenges that require deep and specialized IT operational knowledge to achieve maximum impact for projects and transformation programs. Her specialties include Enterprise Lean-Agile Coaching, Lean-Agile Transformation, Scaled Agile consulting, business strategy & development, Innovation Accounting, Kanban, Scaled Agile Framework Enterprise Consultant (SAFe-SPC), LeSS, and lean methods. She is currently an Expert Principal for the Boston Consulting Group, leading knowledge management and IP practices for their Agile At Scale organization. She tweets as @LeanAgilist and is on LinkedIn. Her Enterprise Agile Leader website has resources on Agile Coaching, Leadership and Training Among her many publications is one noting that even the most sophisticated companies still use an old-fashioned suggestion box to generate new innovations and ideas. She notes the importance of communications: Ensure you make it clear that you welcome any and all suggestions. Corporate communications can sometimes be boring, so instead start ‘organizational conversations’ that you think of as dialogues rather than monologues. The idea is to make the conversation more effective by developing relationships with your team, and then following up with the communique. Pro-Track Profile Gail is part of the National Speakers Association Northern California 2019 Speakers Academy program. This is the program previously known as Pro-Track. I participated back in 2006 and although the program now has another name I am sticking with the alliterative "Pro-Track Profile" moniker as I interview participants and add them to the roster of past interviews. I'm volunteering as an adjunct faculty member in support of the program this year, and took the opportunity to catch up with Gail. To hear what she told me about how she found out about the program and what she hopes to get out of it, click on the podcast icon below.
19 minutes | Feb 9, 2019
Interview: Resolving Public Speaking Anxiety with Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W., A.C.S.W
Jonathan Berent, L.C.S.W. has pioneered treatment for performance and social anxiety since 1978. A certified psychotherapist, he has worked with thousands of individuals of all ages in individual, group, and family psychotherapy. He has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", "Sally Jessy Raphael", "Joan Rivers", "CNN Medical News" and many other TV and radio shows. His Social Anxiety website is a premier resource for resolving social anxiety disorder. A primary area he addresses is public speaking anxiety. His proven methodology channels anxiety into high performance. He resolves the emotions of embarrassment, shame, and humiliation that many who are anxious about public speaking suffer. We interviewed Mr. Berent to learn more about the issue and his solution. Terror in the C-Suite There are successful C-Suite executives who admit they'd rather get into a car accident on the way to a conference than show up and face the crowd for their presentation. One real estate executive who easily closed $3 billion deals fell into a state of terror when faced with talking about this to a group of students on career day. Panic at the podium—and embarrassment over the obvious symptoms—is debilitating for many executives and entrepreneurs and can include symptoms such as erythrophobia (Fear of Blushing), hyperhidrosis (Excessive Sweating) and voice paralysis. Fear of public speaking is not simply an inconvenience; it’s an income inhibitor, career killer, and an insidious anxiety disorder that most mental health and medical professionals do not understand. More than a quarter of the population reports a fear of public speaking, according to a recent Chapman University survey of American's top fears. While countless programs attack the problem on the surface through coaching, skill building and practice, almost none focus on the underlying causes. Practical Steps The good news is that you don’t have to suffer this unwelcome anxiety anymore. His book, Work Makes Me Nervous, empowers people to transform stress into positive energy using an evidence-based, step-by-step method. This down-to-earth resource combines practical psychological techniques and exercises with real-life stories. He explains how everyone from entry-level workers to seasoned executives and famous sports and media figures have encountered and successfully dealt with workplace anxiety—and how you can too. If you, or anyone you know, suffer from anxiety about public speaking, I highly recommend this book. As he says "Don't wait! The time to change is now!" To hear more about the issues he's encountered in over 40 years of clinical practice, treating over 10,000 patients, and the steps you can take, click on the podcast icon below.
50 minutes | Dec 13, 2018
A Conversation with Ian Griffin on Speechwriting, Social Media & Blogging
On Thursday, December 13 the Silicon Valley Speeechwriters Roundtable hosted Ian Griffin in a free conference call. I'm usually the one doing the interviewing. However, Barbara Seymour Giordano suggested she turn the tables and interview me. Barbara had been my guest back in May. Barbara and I discussed my career as a freelance speechwriter, corporate employee, and blogger. We reviewed how I got into speechwriting, my experience in Silicon Valley companies, my Professionally Speaking blog as well as my new Booch News venture, and more. To hear the full discussion, click on the podcast icon below.
76 minutes | Aug 30, 2018
A Conversation with Jeff Davenport on Speechwriting, Screenwriting and Delivery Coaching
On Thursday, August 30th the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable hosted Jeff Davenport in a free conference call. Jeff serves as an executive speaker coach and senior content developer at Duarte, the well-known communication design and consulting firm based in Santa Clara, founded by Nancy Duarte. Using his background as a screenwriter and professional public speaker, Jeff helps clients communicate powerfully and persuasively by infusing story, dynamism, and empathy into their presentations. Whether he’s coaching high-level executives or thought leaders taking the stage for conference keynotes or commencement addresses, Jeff brings a thoughtful, personal touch to his roles, tapping into speakers’ personal passions and helping them create lasting connections with their audiences. Jeff is a 2017 Cicero Award winner in the Public Policy category for his speech ‘Someday is Today’ delivered by Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor at CADE in Lima, Peru. The call covered a wide range of topics including: How he went from a wallflower in high school to a premier public speaking coach. The secrets of the "Duarte Method" that any and all speechwriters can employ (Hint: read Resonate and Illuminate). The value of the DataStory training workshop available from Duarte that helps speechwriters structure a compelling argument based on analytical data. The three books on screenwriting he recommends speechwriters read: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting, by Syd Field Save the Cat!, by Blake Snyder Into the Woods, by John Yorke What you'll learn by watching the directors cut of Toy Story 3 on Blu-Ray. Jeff's parting words: I would encourage anybody to do more public speaking, especially if you are writing for other people. We all had PE teachers who we realized never once played a sport. They were terrible PE teachers. So get out there and know what it's like to play. Take a public speaking class. It doesn't matter what it's about. Do some sort of public speaking, writing for yourself and delivering yourself so you can get more in the heads of your clients and what know their true struggles are. Otherwise, I would add, you're forever the virgin trying to write a sex manual, aren't you? To hear the full discussion click on the podcast icon below.
59 minutes | Jun 19, 2018
A Conversation with Bob Sands on Sermons and Speechwriting
On June 19, 2018 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable held a conference call with Bob Sands. Bob is a speaker and speechwriter who has helped people and businesses tailor and tell their stories for the last 25 years. He has also been a Pastor, Entrepreneur, Coach and Radio Broadcaster. Currently, he is focusing his time on helping individuals, businesses and organizations clarify and communicate their message. As the President of Sands Communications, Inc., he has given over 5000 presentations himself to every kind of group from Funeral directors to firefighters to CEO's. He has coached and written keynote speeches for executives, helped salespeople hone their speaking skills and developed communication strategies for both political candidates and elected officials. The call covered a wide range of topics including: Bob's techniques for crafting a sermon, most often delivered to a familiar audience. The challenge of preaching to congregations where the common themes of the Bible known to earlier generations have been lost. His segue intro speechwriting, and where he finds most of his freelance clients. The relevance of the study of homiletics to speechwriting, especially the books of Alyce McKenzie. Bob's use of social media to magnify the impact of his message. What impressed him about David Murray's recent PSA White Paper titled A Provocation from the Pulpit: Dead Preachers Challenge Living Speechwriters. Breaking News: David Murray announcing the creation of a companion to the well-known Vital Speeches of the Day -- Vital Sermons of the Day which David and Bob are launching. Find out more on their Facebook page. To hear these and other topics discussed click on the podcast icon below.
56 minutes | May 24, 2018
A Conversation with Barbara Seymour Giordano on Storytelling
On May 24, 2018 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable Held a conference call with Barbara Seymour Giordano. Barbara is a Story Doctor, Speechwriter and Presentation Coach who specializes in helping speakers tell memorable stories that audiences yearn to hear and share. Her specialty is guiding speakers — from the page to the stage — through the often murky and intricate process of bringing a story idea to life. She turns complex subjects into moving stories that spark imagination across cultures. Over her career Barbara has advised Fortune 500 executives, entrepreneurs, scientists and TED presenters on creating and sharing stories that unite, influence and inspire audiences worldwide. Her fascination with story began when she worked as an assignment editor with CNN and E! Entertainment Television. She then parlayed her news experience into producing and directing corporate videos, global sales meetings and events for Amgen, Cisco Systems, and Nike among others. In front of the lens she's appeared as an on-camera national TV fashion and beauty spokesperson for Lands’ End, Neiman Marcus, and TJX Corp. she delivers keynote speeches on topics that include The Art of Business of Storytelling, The Startup Pitch: Telling Stories Investors Want to Hear, and Storytelling TED Style. Her 360-degree communication experience allows her to offer a unique approach to crafting the stories that make speeches come alive.. The call covered a wide range of topics including: How she "backed into" speechwriting after helping coach executives in need of basic advice on presentation skills at large corporate events. The lessons she learned crafting 90-second investor pitches and 8-12 minute TED talks. Her appreciation of Toastmasters as the "learning gym" for presentation skills. The value of a simple one-page approach to the "hero's journey" as a speech outline. How she helped PhD candidates in sociology, pharmacy other disciplines deliver content as a compelling story stripping out the techno-babble they were prone to use. The value of shows like Billions and Silicon Valley as an alternate view into the world of speechwriting and presentations that stands in contrast to the oft-quoted scenes from The West Wing. How to structure a speech around a story by starting from the desired outcome. How freelance speechwriters can find more clients. To hear these and other topics discussed click on the podcast icon below.
66 minutes | May 3, 2018
A Conversation with Felicity Barber
On April 26, 2018 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable Held a conference call with Felicity Barber. Felicity is the Executive Speechwriter at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. She is a communications expert specializing in thought leadership, storytelling and speechwriting. Prior to joining the Fed she ran her own business, Thoughtful Speech for three years. She moved to San Francisco from London in 2014 where she was a speechwriter at the global insurer, Lloyd’s of London. She has also worked as a Policy Advisor to the Home Office in London and as a Parliamentary Assistant to the Labour Party member for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry MP. The call covered a wide range of topics including: The focus of the book Felicity wrote that was presented to the Queen (and Her Majesty read). The origin of the term 'underwriter' (as in the Insurance industry, not someone who is a junior speechwriter...) How Felicity broke into the speechwriting business in London. A comparison between the work of a speechwriter in the UK and USA. Her observation that the publishers of anthologies of famous speeches rarely include those given by woman. The impact of the young women such as Emma Gonzales who survived the shooting at their school and spoke out against American gun culture. The advantage enjoyed by the younger generation of speakers who are social media natives. Notable speeches by women such as those by Oprah Winfrey, actress Anne Hathaway and the secret speech of MzBhaver Raver. The UN Women Instagram account as source of inspirational women speakers. An appreciation of the work of Denise Graveline promoting women speakers. The challenges faced by women who work in the "Brotopia" culture of Silicon Valley tech companies and the urgent need for that industry to recruit diverse talent. The value of women mentoring women, for example by Women who Code and Anitab.org The challenges faced by women in politics and lessons speechwriters can learn from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the views of communications director Jennifer Palmieri. The value of building a long-term relationship between a speechwr1ter and speaker. The rise and fall of women in tech (as a percentage of programmers). The pervasive influence of Silicon Valley on our economy, culture and politics as revealed by Norm Cohen in The Know-It-Alls. How to address the imbalance in the ratio between male and female speakers? What influence can speechwr1ters have? The prominence of women in the National Speakers Association including Past-President Patricia Fripp. To hear these and other topics discussed click on the podcast icon below.
16 minutes | Feb 9, 2018
The 2018 Cicero Speechwriting Awards – A conversation with David Murray
More than 2,000 years ago, Cicero called rhetoric a “great art.” Since then, staggering advances in mass communication haven't diminished the transformative power of a great speech. And the Cicero Speechwriting Awards recognize the speechwriters and the speakers who make it great. Presented by Vital Speeches of the Day, the prestigious monthly collection of speeches, the Cicero Speechwriting Awards recognize the work that makes the speeches that help leaders lead—in every sector of business, politics and society. In this podcast I talk with VSOTD editor David Murray about what makes a speech Cicero Award material, and the changes he's seen over the last dozen years that the Awards have been given. To hear what David said, simply click on the podcast icon below. Click here to enter the 2018 Cicero Speechwriting Awards today.
56 minutes | Oct 4, 2017
Podcast: Shel Holtz on Social Media and Speechwriting
On Wednesday October 4th the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable hosted a conference call with Shel Holtz. We discussed the ways in which social and digital media — which have given rise to content marketing — offer a host of options to speechwriters to draw attention to the speech before, during, and after its delivery. Shel reviewed the rapid development of the many forms of social media available for speechwriters to use, from humble beginnings as blogs and chat rooms to the rich variety of streaming media solutions available today. Among the tips Shel shared was the use of Poll Everywhere to engage audiences and the Mevo live event camera for streaming. Click on the podcast icon below to listen to Shel discuss these topics and more, as well as answer questions from speechwriters who were on the call. (Apologies for the audio which suffered from occasional background noise, but nothing that should prevent you listening to whole 55 minute call.)
66 minutes | May 20, 2017
A Conversation with Tim Pollard on Fail-Proofing Your Communication
On Thursday May 18 members of the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable were in conversation with Tim Pollard, author of The Compelling Communicator: Mastering the Art and Science of Exceptional Presentation Design. In his new book, Tim Pollard has developed a systematic approach to the design and delivery of presentations and speeches that is applicable to everything from sales pitches to keynotes to TED Talks. The framework outlined in The Compelling Communicator is supported by research in how the brain processes information and how human beings learn; and it's buttressed by Tim's years of in-person experience communicating with, and coaching, leaders in business and non-profits worldwide. Click on the podcast icon below to listen to Tim discuss some of the key concepts in his book, as well as answer questions from executive communications professionals at Cisco and Hewlett Packard.
3 minutes | Dec 20, 2016
Why consider a career in Marketing
My son recently graduated with a degree in International Business and Marketing and is looking for an entry-level position in this area. I met today with a group of marketing professionals who shared the many reasons young people should consider a career in this field. To hear what they told me, click on the podcast icon below. Oh, and if you know of any entry-level marketing jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area let me know! Neil's Dad will thank you...
31 minutes | Sep 23, 2016
A conversation with Bob Lehrman
On Thursday September 1, members of the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable hosted a conference call with with renowned author, speechwriter and professor Bob Lehrman. Robert A. Lehrman served as Chief Speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore and, in 2004, as Chief Speechwriter for the Democratic National Committee during his more than three decades of experience writing speeches. His 2009 book, 'The Political Speechwriters Companion' is one of the best books I've ever read on speechwriting, period. He's an editor of the new book 'Democratic Orators from JFK to Barack Obama' (Palgrave/Macmillan 2016) and authored the chapters on the oratory of J.F.K. and Barack Obama. Bob has written for political figures, celebrities, heads of nonprofits, and corporate CEOs. He created and co-teaches the political speechwriting course at American University, speaks often at other campuses, conferences, and associations, on the topic of political speechwriting, and has conducted four workshops in Hanoi for Vietnamese diplomats. Author of a number of award-winning novels, and many articles for publications like The New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Politico, Bob has a B.A. from Tufts University and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he studied with Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Yates. I was going to summarize the topics we discussed on the call, but Rob Cottingham did a great job capturing this in an awesome Sketchnote: (Click to enlarge) To listen to the first half hour of the call, click on the podcast icon below.
14 minutes | May 5, 2016
A Conversation with Sanjay Nambiar
On Thursday May 5, members of the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable hosted a conference call with freelance speechwriter, author and publisher Sanjay Nambiar. Sanjay is a veteran speechwriter and award-winning children’s book author. He has written speeches for CEOs and executives in a wide range of industries, from finance and technology to education and non-profits. Past clients include executives at Toyota, Comcast, and CBS among others. He also has written several award-winning children's books. In addition to being a speechwriter and author, Sanjay also is the CEO of SDPH Media, the company behind the multimedia global brand platform for the Super Duper Princess Heroes. The focus of our conversation was Sanjay's recommendations for building a freelance speechwriting business as well as his role as an author and publisher (something he has in common with other speechwriters such as Mike Long -- playwright -- and Justina Chen -- young adult fiction author). Sanjay reviewed the ways he built his client list that started with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and pay-per-click ads. He also talked about the advantages and disadvantages of options such as Upwork (formally eLance), cold calling and mailing. He shared effective networking and referral techniques. We also discussed his publishing business. To find out more, click on the podcast icon below to hear edited highlights from the call where Sanjay shares tips on building a freelance speechwriting business.
74 minutes | Feb 28, 2016
A Conversation with Matt Teper
On Wednesday February 24, members of the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable hosted a conference call with Google speechwriter Matt Teper. Matt is the Head of Editorial at Google, where he is the leader and founder of the Google Ink team. The team is responsible for defining the voice of Google in major speeches, executive presentations, op-ed's, blog posts, social media, press statements, internal news, and all manner of creative and editorial work. Matt is also Eric Schmidt's speechwriter. Matt came to Google in 2012, from the White House, where he served as Vice President Joe Biden's chief speechwriter for the first three-plus years of the Obama administration. During the call, Matt described what it was like to work for the Vice President, the contrast between the life of a speechwriter in DC and in Silicon Valley and shared his insights about the craft of speechwriting. He also confirms that Google is not, currently, working on a time machine! To hear a recording of the call click on the link below. Since the call lasts over an hour you might prefer to choose the Download option and listen later.
37 minutes | Sep 21, 2015
Meeting Report: The wit and wisdom of speechwriter Hal Gordon
On Thursday September 17, 2015 the Silicon Valley Speechwriters welcomed Hal Gordon as our guest on a conference call. Hal was a speechwriter for the Reagan White House and later wrote for Gen. Colin Powell. Since 2005, Hal has provided executive speech writing for top executives of Shell Oil, Royal Dutch Shell, CenterPoint Energy, GE Aero Energy, UPS, Sim-Tex LP, cPanel and the Greater Houston Partnership. He's also lectured on speechwriting for NASA, Texas A&M University, the National Association of Government Communicators, more than half a dozen national speechwriter conferences and the U.K. Speechwriter's Guild. Hal was a speechwriter in the Reagan White House, where he wrote for Counselor to the President Edwin Meese, OMB director James C. Miller, and other top domestic advisors to the President. Hal has a web site—www.ringingwords.com—and blogs for www.punditwire.com. Follow him on Twitter @paidpen. In a wide-ranging conversation Hal discusses working at the White House and his views on the current crop of Republican Presidential candidates (including Donald Trump who he satirizes in this version of a Trump speech to Evangelicals). He comments on the debt Winston Churchill owes to Irish-American statesman William Bourke Cockran and the importance of Churchill's essay on Scaffolding of Rhetoric. Hal reminds speechwriters to always be on the look out for material, which he illustrates by telling how he used the Shield of Parade which he admired on a visit to the British Museum in a later speech. To hear edited highlights of the call, click on the podcast icon below.
2 minutes | May 27, 2015
5 Tips for a Wedding Toast
With wedding season approaching, happy couples from around the world are preparing to walk down the aisle and begin their lives together. Wedding season also marks the time when friends and family will be asked to give a toast to celebrate the occasion. For many, it may be the first time they are being asked to speak publicly, and, although it may be in front of friends and family, it can be an intimidating experience. Toastmasters International, the global organization devoted to communication and leadership skills development, offers these five tips for delivering a memorable wedding toast: Be prepared. Know your material and try to avoid reading. Include an opening, a body and a conclusion. Identify yourself. Open with a brief explanation of your relationship to the couple before beginning the toast. Use humor and creativity. Entertaining stories and anecdotes are appreciated by the audience, but avoid telling potentially embarrassing stories or using offensive language. Get personal. A toast should be original, heartfelt and customized for the occasion. Stand; lift your glass and say, “I'd like to propose a toast.” Pause to allow guests to shift their attention toward you and give them time to lift their glasses. Be sure to lower your glass to about waist height. “It’s important that the person delivering the wedding toast is confident, poised and moderately brief,” says Mohammed Murad, Toastmasters 2014-15 International President. “The most memorable messages come from the heart, are light-hearted and focus on wishing the couple well on their joyful journey together.” Click here to watch a Maid of Honor using the five tips above as she delivers her wedding toast. In addition to toasting advice, Toastmasters offers many public speaking tips. To practice your toasts or speeches, find a Toastmasters club near you by visiting www.toastmasters.org/findaclub.
4 minutes | May 3, 2015
Jessica Pettitt: Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Taken
The afternoon speaker at Saturday's Northern California NSA Chapter meeting was our own chapter member from Eureka in the far north of California (and National NSA Board member) Jessica Pettitt, CSP. Jessica's program challenged us to consider what differentiates us from other speakers or trainers in our niche. After speaking for fifteen years and stirring up tough conversations for audiences on college campuses, Jessica has learned a lot about who she isn't willing to be and who she accidentally is. She delivered a highly interactive, high energy, humorous afternoon session where no question was off limits. This culminated in an exercise to help us know what makes us unique as speakers by embracing our points of distinction. Embrace Your Points of Distinction Jessica distributed index cards and asked us to write down points that differentiate us as professional speakers. She then read out these statements (anonymously) asking if the audience could guess, based on the text, who it described. There were precious few of us who could be easily identified. Many in the room claimed their uniqueness lay in such commonplace features as: "I'm entertaining" (isn't everyone?) "I don't tell a story, I make it come alive" (not a marked point of distinction if you are presenting at a storytellers conference, maybe in the corporate world) "High energy speaker!" (table stakes) "Background in journalism" (all too common, given the job market in that profession) "Combines speaking with hands on professional services" (much laughter) "Free and easy smile" (you don't say) "Integrate humor with my speeches" (even those who are not trying to be funny can be hysterical to some) "Compassionate" (too low a bar) It was only a few who were instantly recognizable to fellow chapter members. The lesson is obvious. As Karen Jacobsen directed in her morning session, we need to be able to describe the outcomes to our clients in one sentence. Jessica highlighted the importance of making sure that sentence contained something unique that would cause a meeting planner to want to book us. To hear a brief extract from Jessica's presentation, where she talks about the importance of working on what makes us truly unique, click on the podcast icon below.
5 minutes | May 3, 2015
Karen Jacobsen: The GPS Girl
No member of the National Speakers Association speaks to as many people on a daily basis as does Karen Jacobsen. Her voice is one of the options on over 100 million GPS systems and 300 million smartphones. She's the one we hear when lose our way and the GPS tells us it is 'recalculating'. On Saturday she spoke to members of the NSA Northern California Chapter. Oh Say Can You See? Karen, a professional singer-songwriter raised in Australia and now a native of New York, began her presentation with a stunning rendition of the American national anthem -- she's sung The Star Spangled Banner in baseball stadiums across the country. She then gave the motivational speech she delivers to corporate clients, listing five 'GPS Girl' life-lessons, interspersed with her own songs: Is your inner GPS telling you that you are off your route? Are you willing to change direction? Have you clarified your destination? Are you ready to embrace the steering wheel? Accelerate! Her speaker demo reel shows some of what we enjoyed: Directions for Speaker Success Following this showcase presentation, Karen shifted gears (so to speak) and shared her insights into success in the speaking business. She helped us navigate a list of 44 directions for speaker success in business, well-being, speech delivery and quality of life. They included recommendations on everything from being sure to stay hydrated (crucial for all speakers, not just singers), eating a diet of living foods, avoiding toxins, daily meditation practice and exercise to keeping an uncluttered office, participating in a mastermind group and working with a business coach. She emphasized these are a destination to aim for, not something we achieve immediately. Taking Care of Business Here's the GPS Girl's list of business goals: I can describe the outcomes for my clients in one sentence. I have a three minute Speaker Video I am proud of. My website is updated regularly and clearly represents my brand. I am using professional photographs taken in the past 12 months. My business cards are on excellent high quality stock. My social media strategy works for me and my online and offline presence are consistent. I use Quickbooks (or an equivalent), my accounting is up-to-date and taxes are paid. I know I look well-groomed and feel confident walking into any room. I make daily phone calls as part of my marketing strategy. I save at least 10% of my income. I am earning my target revenue. These are valuable goals for any freelancer, entrepreneur or small business owner, not just those in the speaking profession. To hear a short extract from Karen's presentation, discussing the first two of these business goals, click on the podcast icon below.
8 minutes | Mar 20, 2015
The Professional Speechwriters Association
Members of the Silicon Valley Speechwriters Roundtable joined David Murray on a conference call earlier this week. This is the third and final edited highlight of the call. In part one David talked about the way the profession has changed. In part two he reviewed highlights from the 2015 Ragan Speechwriters Conference. In this third edited highlight, he discusses the importance of the Professional Speechwriters Association and shares some of his experiences as editor of Vital Speeches of the Day. To hear what he said, click on the podcast icon below.
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