Jackie Kellso

Archive for 2009|Yearly archive page

9 Egregious Communication Errors of Trade Show Exhibitors

In Business Expo, business networking, business relationships, career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, effective communicating, executive coaching, interpersonal skills, leadership, managing, networking, people skills, pitches, pitching, presentation skills, presentations, presenting, professional development, sales, selling, Trade Show Exhibitors, Trade Shows, training, Uncategorized on November 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I had decided to attend the recent NY Business Expo held at the Jacob Javits Center here in NYC.  This was my first time at this event, so I was eager to see the exhibitors and hear some of the speakers.  I picked an aisle and started walking into the frenzy.

Suddenly, a man I recognized leapt out at me – he happens to be my neighbor, and asked if I wanted to meet the president of his sales training company – someone for whom he clearly would stand on the firing line.  I said, “Sure!”

My neighbor’s job was to recruit walkers-by and reel them into the exhibit.  The promise was, MEET THE MAN and find out how he can help you increase your business.  This is a smart tactic, but…as I reached over with a smile, said, “Hello,” and gave him a firm handshake, THE MAN took my hand and without ever looking at me, started speaking with the woman behind me.  I stared into his face waiting for him.  But he never even looked or acknowledged my presence.   I felt like I needed a shower.

I let go of his hand seconds later while he continued talking to someone behind me. I told my neighbor that I pity his clients. I walked away.

Egregious error #1 – AVOIDING EYE CONTACT AND UNGRACIOUSLY DISENGAGING FROM YOUR VISITORS

Egregious error #2 – MAKING PEOPLE FEEL THAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR SOMEONE BETTER OR MORE VALUABLE

So, after that, I decided that my mission was to look for other mistakes exhibitors were making, because I hadn’t considered it going into the ordeal.  I continued walking around to find them.  They were everywhere!

You get hungry walking around a space like the Jacob Javits Center, and I soon noticed huge bowls of candy placed on tables at the front of many vendors’ booths to lure in sugar addicts.  I watched people walk by, grab fistfuls of swirly, little things in plastic, Tootsie Pops, and bite-sized Mary Janes.  Chewing, they continued on their journeys without ever stopping to chat with the vendors themselves.  Of course, the vendors were busy standing at the back of their booths chatting with one another.

Egregious error #3  – THINKING THAT CANDY INSPIRES VISITORS TO STOP AND ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS

I moved onward without any candy.  Why couldn’t they have bowls of Lindt Truffles anyway?  Next up:  a young man in a t-shirt and worn jeans enthusiastically jumps from behind a table as I walk by, to stop me and say hello.  He got my attention!  Then I shook his hand.  Limp and damp.  I needed another shower.

I looked over to find the name of the company he was representing.  It had a high-tech logo with no distinctive name.  There was no tag line, no explanation of the product or service either visually or in writing.  Just a meaningless logo.  (I soon found out, and only because I had asked — it’s an IT service firm, designed to support small business owners who don’t have their own IT departments.  Hum, I thought.  Could be good for me.   Here’s how the conversation went:

“Hi, I’m Jim.”

“Hi, Jim, I’m Jackie.”

“Um, like, pretty groovy space we’re in, right?”

Suddenly a young woman appeared in my periphery.  She had a name card with a title on it that said, “Director of Marketing and Sales.”  She stood back and listened.

“What do you do for your company, Jim?”

“Oh, I work in the operations department.”

The sales and marketing maven stayed back there while I asked, “ So, Jim, what’s good about your company?”

“You know, like, we …” and he explained the company’s mission.

“Well, Jim, thanks for saying hello – maybe I’ll look on the web and see if your company can meet my needs.”  At that very moment, the Director of Sales and Marketing actually walked behind a desk and picked up her cell phone.

Egregious error #4 – TALKING TO YOUR PROSPECTS LIKE IT’S 1969 AND YOU’RE ALL HANGING OUT AT THE MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL WAITING FOR A FREE PORT-A-POTTY.

Egregious error #5 – HAVING A LIMP HANDSHAKE; NO HANKIE TO DRY YOUR SWEATY PALM

Egregious error #6 – NOT HAVING A BRAND AS RECOGNIZABLE AS COCA-COLA WITHOUT A PROMINENT UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION OR TAG LINE THAT CATCHES THE ATTENTION OF PASSERS-BY

Egregious error #7 – LETTING YOUR OPERATIONS GUY MISRESPRESENT YOUR COMPANY WHILE THE DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING WATCHES THE DISASTER UNFOLD

By this point, I’d had enough. As I was walking out, a very friendly man came up to me and with a firm handshake and great eye-contact asked how I enjoyed the expo.  I thought this was refreshing and told him it was a great experience and asked what he did.  He said, “I’m a real estate broker but I also sell a nutritional product that can guarantee weight loss of up to 10 pounds in the first month.  It can also be a great source of income if you sell the product.”

I said, well good for you, why don’t you give me your card?”  He did.  It was for the real estate business.  He said, “It’s the only one I brought today.”  I took it and told him I help people become effective communicators, networkers, business pitchers and presenters and handed him my card.  We said goodbye.

In thinking that he could be a potential prospect for me, I went to his website, as listed on the card.  There was no such company and he was not anywhere to be found in a Google search.

Egregious error #8 –MAKING A STRANGER FEEL FAT WHILE ATTEMPTING TO ENGAGE HER IN A NETWORK MARKETING SCHEME

Egregious error #9 – GIVING AWAY A BUSINESS CARD OF THE THING YOU AREN’T PROMOTING THAT IS ALSO UNTRACEABLE AND UNVERIFIABLE.

Trade shows are great places to showcase your brand and business, and increase your network of prospects.  Being innovative and standing out from the others seems to be a huge challenge, but slacking on things that are so easily fixable can do a lot of damage.  I’d rather not generate business at all than create a negative first impression.

At trade shows, even bad press isn’t good press.

© Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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When Presenting, Think Form and Substance

In business, career, coaching, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, sales, selling, training on September 24, 2009 at 3:21 am

Content is always king, but form is the delivery system for the content. This means that a speaker with a powerful, well-written presentation will fail to inspire, motivate or persuade an audience unless his/her body language, tone of voice and intention to connect (with the audience) are lined up to deliver one clear message.

Assuming that you are an expert of the information you are going to deliver, and that your presentation is well organized, error-free, and concise, there are four steps to delivering good form with substance:

1. Plant your feet as if they are in cement.  Some speakers do the box step to help manage their anxiety without realizing it, and the movement distracts people from hearing the message.  Stay put!

2. Use your arms only to emphasize key points, otherwise leave them dropped and relaxed at your sides.  Do not point your finger(s) at your audience when using your hands. Speakers who do this seem pedantic and less relatable. Use open hands when addressing an audience to show them how approachable you are. (I’ve discovered that arm movement is the hardest comfort zone for presenters to find!  Once they do, people hang onto their words, instead of following their arms!)

3. Smile only when your message calls for it. Use a range of facial expressions that mirrors the emotions of your message.  A smile for the entirety of a talk doesn’t come off as positive; it reads as plastered and fake.

4. Make eye contact for approximately four seconds to audience members in your purview.  Be careful not to look away too quickly or stay for too long.  Audiences will decide if they can trust a speaker within seconds and the right amount of eye contact has a lot to do with the outcome.  Be sure when making eye contact to have an intentional openness about each person in that room. Any judgment or negativity will read through loud and clear.

When I coach my clients on their presentations, the primary goal is delivery impact before focusing on improving the content. My experience has shown me that once people find the form and their own rhythm with it, that the content of the presentation flows more easily.

Happy presenting,

Jackie

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Art of Public Speaking: Show vs. Tell

In career, coaching, communicating, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, people skills, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, public speaking fear, sales, selling, training, Uncategorized on July 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I was hit by a car at the age of 14.  I spent two months in the hospital and it took me two years to walk again without the aid of casts, crutches and canes.

True story!  But what’s interesting about the way I represent the story?  Nothing!

How’s this version:

I was crossing the street on a chilly, December afternoon, right in front of the Junior High School I was attending. Suddenly, a suped-up car with a loud engine came around the bend, swerving and accelerating towards my friend and me.   I gasped and yelled,  “Gene, hurry towards the sidewalk!  That guy’s out of control!”  Well, that was my last moment of consciousness until I awakened later that afternoon.  By that point, my eyes were swollen shut and I couldn’t assess the sounds or voices of my surroundings. I had no clue as to what was happening to me. “Mom!  I want my Mom!” I screamed. I was in the emergency room.

Do you want to know about my injuries and why I couldn’t walk for two years after that? My guess is you’re interested.

This is the difference between showing vs. telling (when writing) and speaking.  If you’re going to tell an audience about something, it’s the same as delivering a sketch or an outline of your point rather than delivering the essence and relevance of your point. When I coach my clients on public speaking, I emphasize this:  do not tell me about something.  Show me the story.  Peel the layers away and describe it; paint a vivid picture, re-live it in the telling of it.  Make me an interested party.  Draw me into your experience so much so, that I could re-tell it (or re-show it, for that matter) to somebody else.

Not only will your talks be dynamic and memorable, you will increase your credibility as a speaker.  Once you’ve proven that you’re experienced in your subject, you will have earned the right to make a succinct and relevant point, and your audience will listen and believe in you. (For instance, I will always be able to to speak credibly about how people can learn to cope with and overcome emotional and physical trauma.)

A good thing to do is to observe other speakers and determine if they are showing vs. telling. Decide for yourself what’s more effective. Your ability to determine the difference as a listener, will be a good starting point for becoming a better speaker.

Happy showing!

Jackie

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fear of Public Speaking is Nothing to Fear

In business, coaching, communication, executive coaching, executives, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, public speaking fear, training, Uncategorized on July 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I once had a client who had the most intense fear of public speaking I had ever seen.  I witnessed this during the first assignment of a public speaking course I was teaching. Naturally, every class member was a little nervous, but this guy, Mike, got up, mumbled his words, looked down at the floor, trembled and sweated profusely.  I thought he was going to pass-out.  But he didn’t — he presented his one minute speech in its entirety.   The class cheered and I praised him for his courage.  Mike smiled and said how amazed he was that he had gotten through it.  Before he left the class that night, I said, “See, fear doesn’t stop you in your tracks. See you next week!”  He nodded affirmatively and walked out the door.  I never saw or heard from him again.

For years I wondered why this guy gave up on himself, even after proving that he could speak to an audience. But I believe I know the answer now, having coached so many fearful speakers since then.  I focused on fear as the prime coaching issue and ended up magnifying the fear instead of diminishing it. I can only imagine the bravado he would have had to muster to get back into class and speak again, not to mention the pressure he might have felt not to disappoint the class. This was a very powerful lesson for me. What I should have said to him was, “Mike, great job. Next time let’s work on keeping your feet planted.” (Or, something to that effect.)

Would that have brought him back to class?   I can’t say for sure, but it would have given him something skill-based to focus on rather than this monster he was battling.  Today, when a client wants to overcome fear, the very first thing I say is this:  We are not even going to try to overcome fear. It’s there and we welcome it.  Being uncomfortable is a preferred state to sustain when stretching the comfort zone.  The fear may stay with you, it may leave you, we simply don’t care.

The goal is this:  focus solely on the skills that make for a powerful presenter.  Learn the right techniques and structures that support the flow and articulation of your presentations. As examples, concentrate on body language, practice making eye contact, focus on choosing words and concepts that help you drive a point, work on being clear and concise, use your natural sense of humor when delivering dry material.  Just start with one and go from there.  Practice getting in front of an audience and doing it again, and again, and again, and again and again.  It will be the key to making your fear powerless.

In the words of the wise, “It’s okay to have butterflies in your stomach, just get them to fly in formation.”  –Dr. Rob Gilbert

Happy presenting,

Jackie

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tips for Effective Public Speaking

In business, career, coaching, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, leadership, people skills, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, sales, selling, training on April 25, 2009 at 9:14 am

Recently I sat through a jury selection process in which four attorneys presented a complex case, involving multiple parties.  These were four very experienced trial attorneys, yet we were made to sit through four unbearably bad presentations. Despite their knowledge and preparation, they were simply lacking the skills to make positive impact.

One of the attorneys spoke with his head down, almost looking at the floor the entire time.  He never made any real eye contact with anyone, skirting his eyes too quickly when he did look up.  One guy swallowed his words, spoke too fast and was nearly inaudible.  One guy behaved as if he was playing Hamlet and cast a bloated self-image that may have been a compensation for insecurity.  One guy kept his hands in his pockets and jiggled change the entire time. What client would want these people as their legal reps?  Thankfully, I wasn’t selected to sit on this jury!

So, here’s the thing:  if you want to gain credibility and win your audience, it is critical that you:

1. Are a skilled presenter.  This means that you have an awareness of how your tone of voice, body language and words blend to support one another.  Remember that non-verbal cues can undermine your credibility.

2. Show vs. tell.  Audiences do not like being preached to unless they are in a house of worship.  Be open about who you are and use your own experience as examples for making points.  Let them relate to you!

3. Show a level of passion and conviction that is natural for you.  Have a wide emotional range to work in (because being able to dramatize ideas is a good thing) but be tasteful — don’t try to win an Oscar!

4. Limit the demand you’re placing on your audience.   Your goal is to benefit them and part of that lies in your ability to be relevant, clear, concise, and to finish as soon as possible.

5. Think of yourself as the expert of your material, and your audience as experts-in-training. Respect their intelligence. Talk to them, not at them.

Remember this:  your audience isn’t thinking enough about you as a person to decide that your strengths override your limitations.  If you are flawed enough as a speaker, the takeaway is going to lean towards the negative.

As a public speaking trainer and coach I tell my clients this:  being nervous and afraid isn’t the thing to worry about overcoming. Your focus has got to be first, on your delivery impact, and second, on how you use the right words to convey your message.  With practice and improved skills, self-confidence rises and effectiveness becomes a reality.

Happy presenting,

Jackie

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That’s a Good Point!

In business, coaching, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, people skills, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, sales, selling, training, Uncategorized on April 8, 2009 at 1:05 am

Which statement is the more convincing way to make the point that memorizing a speech may be detrimental to a speaker?

a. “So remember, don’t ever memorize your speeches. You won’t get caught off guard if you forget what you rehearsed.”

b. “So, remember, use an outline to guide your speech, rather than memorizing it.  This way, your mind has the flexibility to return to your point.”

It’s not a trick question, and the answer happens to be ‘b’. When delivering any kind of message, it is important to give your audience an action they can take and follow rather than tell them something they should not do.  People remember actionable steps more often than passive and/or negative messages.  This is because inherent in taking the step you have suggested is the benefit to them for taking it. Additionally, by presenting your point in a positive, actionable framework, you give your audience a chance to interact with your words, making your message memorable and impactful.

Try this out for yourself! Give one presentation applying a passive message and one with an active message. Or, try delivering two distinct messages in one presentation (one passive and one active) and get your audience to give you some feedback.   See which one they say makes a good point!

And, true….best to outline a speech and know the key points rather than memorize it word-for-word.  This way, your mind can retrieve the data it needs vs. try to find the words it has forgotten.

Happy speaking!

Jackie

 

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On the Phone, Your Voice Represents You

In business, career, coaching, communicating, communicating by phone, communication, communication skills, executive coaching, executives, presentations, presenting, professional development training, public speaking, sales, selling, Talking on the phone, tone of voice, training on March 30, 2009 at 3:26 am

Hello Communicators!

When you use the phone as a means of introducing yourself, your product and/or your service, you have only your voice and your words to support you.  It’s easy to be misunderstood without being able to make eye contact to prove how swell you really are.   The phone can seriously undermine your chance of building a new relationship — unless you are mindful of how you say what you say.

Recently, I semi-interviewed a woman I was thinking of partnering with for a training project. Our first introduction had been by phone.  I tell you, her words said, “I”m eager to do this with you,”  but her tone of voice lacked any kind of enthusiasm, energy or zeal.   I thought, if she isn’t aware of how her voice is creating a negative impression, how then can I possibly align with her to train other people?  Lo and behold, I did not take on this project with her.

There is a well-documented study by Albert Mehrabian, a Ph.D and professor at UCLA, who discovered that when a speaker is talking about something emotional, that a listener will believe the non-verbal cues (body language, 55% and tone of voice, 38%) over the actual words (only 7%) when the delivery of the message is incongruent or out of sync. So, if you meet someone and say, “I’m happy to meet you,” with anger, disgust or apathy in your voice, making no eye contact and giving a wimpy handshake, you can bet you won’t win that person over.  We must match up our words, tone of voice and body language to successfully deliver our messages. When we are on the phone, we completely lose the benefits of making positive impact with body language; hence the weight falls very heavily on how we say what we’re saying.

So please consider how your voice is representing you on the phone!

Wishing you flowing congruence in your communications today.

Jackie

Copyright, Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, 2009-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.