20 Questions to Answer Before You Craft Any Message

We think we know everything we need to start crafting a message or pitch. But the obvious questions — who are you talking to, what’s the topic, etc. — aren’t the only ones. To really connect with a customer or audience, we need to know much more about them, what they already know, and what […]

The Hidden Genius of PuppyMonkeyBaby… Or, Why Entertainment Doesn’t Equal Effectiveness

Do you have to like something for it to be effective? Here’s why I ask: Even though Super Bowl 50 is behind us, somehow #PuppyMonkeyBaby – Mountain Dew’s contribution to this year’s Super Bowl advertising – lives on. Love it or hate it (and most people hated it), it was by far the most talked-about commercial […]

The Key to Getting Someone to Make a Decision

Think about how often you have an important request of someone – that they buy your product, change their position on an issue, support an initiative, etc. And you make a thorough, reasoned, logical argument, well supported by compelling facts and data – and this person nods and smiles the whole time…but doesn’t do what you […]

Chimps and Presidential Candidates…Closer Than You Think

I grew up and still live in Washington D.C. And as such, I have a well-developed ability to tune out politics when I want to… …But any article that compares the current slate of presidential candidates to a bunch of chimpanzees is guaranteed to catch my attention. Especially so when the article is in a […]

Public (Speaking) Enemy #1: “The Cognitive Miser”

Perhaps you’ve met this person: Jumps to conclusions Doesn’t listen Talks over other people Puts everything in the context of “Oh, I’ve heard/seen/done this before.” “Tunes out” quickly – has difficulty paying attention Thinks they already know everything Doesn’t “get” concepts or ideas that seem simple to you If you’re trying to drive a change […]

Product Pitch or Solution Sale: Are You Setting the Sales Force Up for Success or Failure?

If your company has a sales force, maybe you’ve said this to yourself: “Our salespeople aren’t solution selling, they tend to make everything a product pitch.” It always seems that salespeople get blamed for pitching products, which at first glance makes sense. After all, they’re the people in front of the customer. But should all […]

Killing Three Birds With One Stone

In our workshop, we teach that if you understand and align with how the human brain processes information, you can vastly improve the effectiveness of your communications and the engagement of your audience. Typically when I teach this, I offer 3 different ways to build audience engagement. But I read something recently that beautifully pulled together […]

The Three Types of Presentations: “Why?”, “What Now?”, and “How?”

When putting together their talks, many speakers miss a critical early step: understanding what type of presentation they need to give. What does that mean? Well, remember that your idea needs to solve a problem the audience has, or to meet an unmet need. That means you need to also understand what the audience needs […]

How to Develop a Presentation – Six Essential Steps

I get asked this question a lot: “Once I have the idea for my talk, what do I do next? How do I actually put it together?” This is the process I use (and we teach): 1. Define the idea at a high level. Can I summarize it in 140ish characters? Concise = clear. Is it in my […]

Lessons from TED: How to Find the “Big Idea” For Your Next Keynote

THE PROBLEM A lot of presentation and speaking advice starts here: STEP ONE: Have a big idea. No arguments with that advice, of course. You need a big idea before you can figure out anything else about your talk. The problem is: how do you find yours? THE SOLUTION Here’s a framework I use with […]

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