Newsletter: Issue II (2/16/2012)


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Tell Your Story

Just about every organization I meet works hard to tell their story - who are we, why are we doing this, and how can you get involved?

If you haven't read So What?: How to Communicate What Really Matters to Your Audience, I highly recommend it. In it, Mark Magnacca showcases his effective tool, the So What Matrix. From the book-

Transform your presentation with three simple questions:
  1. For What? For what reason are you giving your presentation?
  2. So What? Why is this important to my audience?
  3. Now What? What do you want to have happen as a result of this presentation?
The So What Matrix is easy to use when you possess the So What Mindset. Best of all, the So What Matrix will provide a roadmap to help you prepare your presentations and deliver them consistently.
Upon hearing this, I could easily relate to the power of what he was saying.

I do presentations all the time, and sometimes when I'm in a rush, I don't prepare for my audience. I always feel the effects of that afterward, and not in a good way.

Everyone's time is valuable. If I'm going to bother you for your time, I should work hard in advance to be sure that you walk away from it believing that it was time well spent. Mark, in his book, rightly advocates that you should look at every part of your presentation in advance and strike away anything that doesn't clarify for your audience what's in it for them. He gives some great examples, as well.

In addition to making your content relevant, you also need to be prepared for one of three presentations - all of which should pivot on the problem/pain you remove for people:

  1. The 1-Minute Introduction: The worst presentation you can make is something like "Hi, I'm Brett. I create web sites," or "Hi, I'm Jennifer. I'm in sales." Is that about your audience? Nope. Better presented: "Do you know how organizations can struggle to get people focused on the mission and the work needed? That's what I do." Which in turn begs the question, "How do you do that?" So ask yourself - how do you position what you do in that format?
  2. The Planned Presentation: Whether before a small or a large group, if you ever go to a meeting without Googling the organization and its people in advance, then you need to put yourself in the corner for a spell. Me, I hate it when I do that, and frankly so does my audience - because when that happens, my presentation is likely to be ignorant of why they agreed to attend. Which means that my presentation will be all about me... and I might as well have shown them slides from my vacation.
  3. The "You're Not There" Presentation: We live in a time when 95% of our personal and organizational branding is managed through what others say about us and our organization when we're not around. It almost doesn't matter what you say about yourself or your organization. If what I present about myself in words and literature are nouns, it's really my actions - or my verbs - that stay with people. If your audience wants to get engaged in what you do, are you engaging them? Or do you just talk about engaging them? If your audience wants you to solve pain for them, do they see you actively working to solve that pain? Or is it mostly words? Verbs are far more important than nouns, and anything you can do to showcase your verbs will go a long way in how you're presented by others when you're not around.
That last point is why I sometimes give away what I do in some way. I want people to know the verb of me and my team, not the noun.

Think through how you're telling the story with nouns and verbs. People will sit through a good story, and as the Brothers Heath taught us, stories are sticky.

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