Friday, May 22, 2015

The weekend read

Perhaps you made a deep dive into your work this week, communicators. Or did it just feel like diving off a cliff? No matter: The weekend's here, that wonderful trampoline ready to catch you at the bottom of the dive and help you bounce back. Time to dive into my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Let's jump in together, shall we?
Put some spring into your diving board: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels; sign up for my free monthly newsletter, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Move CEO pay to the front of your screen, communicators


New research and rules mean it's time to put CEO pay on the front of your screen, communicators.

Harvard Business Review published this summary of recent research that suggests that there's a big gap in what people estimate a CEO or chairman actually make and what they estimate the leaders should make. The HBR chart at left tells the tale: In 40 different countries, people estimate oversized salaries for CEOs (in red), but feel their earnings should be much smaller (in blue).

That holds true, the findings suggest, even when respondents are on opposite sides of the gap issue: "whether people agree or disagree that current pay gaps are too large, they agree that ideal gaps should be smaller." So now you know how big compensation will play with the masses, and it's not good news. That shouldn't surprise anyone. Despite the thought that the U.S. economy is improving, many workers' wages have dropped 50 percent from pre-recession levels, making the CEO-worker pay gap seem even wider.

Public companies are about to get new Securities & Exchange Commission rules that will help investors better understand executive pay, and those, too, are a reason for communicators to get up to speed on CEO salaries and benefits. If the rules are approved, proxy filings will show "actual pay" for key executives. While shareholders rarely change CEO pay, the optics get increasingly bad, with salaries going up 12 percent annually, the New York Times reports. Want to know what reporters look for to calculate executive pay? The Times obligingly shares what it used to calculate CEO salaries...and here's the big article that resulted from its research.

One thing for all communicators to keep in mind: The more executive pay is covered, the more media inquiries and social media conversation you can expect on the topic. Someday, you'll get that question. That's true regardless of your sector, since reporters and other observers will feel free to compare, say, your university president's salary to that of a for-profit CEO, and vice versa. UPDATE: Frank Bruni's New York Times column today on university presidents' compensation does just that.

My 2010 post on What communicators should know about nonprofit executive compensation walks that sector's communicators through sensible steps any communicator can follow. It's a good practice to sit down with your financial officers to review the information, make sure they understand your process for public and media inquiries, and get ready for those inquiries. The HBR data above are a great back-pocket tool for you, helping to make the case that your organization or company needs a strategy for the increased exposure and likely negative attention that executive pay can generate.

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The weekend read

Hats off to you, communicators: You've made it all the way to the weekend. Time to take off the many hats you wear at the office and dig into my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here, just for you. Put that in your ten-gallon hat:
This week, I got the first check for sales of my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels, and on the same day, a new client let me know she was among the buyers. Feels great!

Here are a few hat tips: sign up for my free monthly newsletter, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kipling's desk and a throwback lesson for facing the public

Squint toward the bottom right of this desk, next to the globe on the floor. You'll see a wastebasket loaded with papers, representing the crumpled up and discarded first drafts of Rudyard Kipling's writings. This is his desk and study at Batemans, his home in Sussex, England. If you think your writing is crap, so did this master storyteller...he wrote, tossed out entire drafts, and wrote again, all by hand.

Here, he wrote many classics, including the poem If. I'm pretty sure you've read it at a much earlier age and perhaps dismiss it as sentimently. Yet this poem can be a touchstone for communications pros, so often with their feet to the fire and questioning themselves. The poem also is good advice to give your public-facing spokesperson or principal. Kipling as early media trainer or speaker coach? The poem calls on you to be non-anxious, humble, non-reactive--advice needed even today. Read it again with that in mind:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
My friend and fellow speaker coach Peter Botting surprised me with a visit to Batemans on my last trip to England, perfect for two people who work with storytellers and media interview subjects. We left wishing we could occupy this cozy office, lined with books and treasures from Kipling's travels and with an enviable view of the English countryside, perfect for the occasional daydream. I'm so glad to have added it to my collection of visits to authors' homes, and to have the extra inspiration for my next media training.

(Creative Commons licensed photo of Kipling's writing desk at Batemans by Steve James)

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Friday, May 08, 2015

The weekend read

Was this week a picnic? A stroll in the grass? Or loaded with ants in your pants and your sandwich? Never mind, communicators: It's Friday, time for me to offer the treats I shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter, curated here in a beautiful basket just for you:
Time for dessert? Just sign up for my free monthly newsletterbuy my new ebook on moderating panel discussions, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Better media interviews: 15 tips and resources

Forget the reporter: Most of the time, the mistakes that you fear in a media interview are the ones in which you trip yourself up. (We don't call this blog don't get caught for nothing, you know.) Here are 15 small steps, tips, tests, and resources you can use to keep your interview, and yourself, on track:
  1. Keep it short: If your answers are so long-winded that you get cut off thinking "But there's more I had to say" in an interview, you should learn how long the modern soundbite is. Think single digits, in seconds. Besides, a short answer gives the reporter a chance to do his job and ask another question. Be sure you leave time for him, too.
  2. Use your message wisely, not too well: Once you've figured out what you want to say, how do you use that message in an interview without repeating it like a robot?
  3. Remember: You don't have all the answers: Have you overstepped or overstated something just to come up with an answer? No need. In fact, sometimes "I don't know" is the most valuable thing you can contribute, especially if you're an expert. Here's how to fix that or avoid it in the first place.
  4. Check the calendar: Using an analogy to answer a media question crisply and vividly is a great idea. But is your analogy out of date? Then it may hurt more than help.
  5. Can your metaphor work against you? Metaphors and analogies also can be turned around to make the point you don't want to see. Check out some tests for how to avoid that boomerang.
  6. Step carefully through that answer: The devil's in the complex question, so it pays to think through how to answer them and avoid the chance of getting misquoted.
  7. Watch for the traps you set yourself:  There are lots of ways you can get caught when you're answering a reporter's question--and most of them are traps of your own making, not the reporter's. In some cases, correcting your impulses will make for a better interview for both of you.
  8. Your turn to ask: You get to ask questions in an interview, too. Here are 12 questions to ask reporters--some suggested by journalists--that will help you feel better prepared and yield a better interview.
  9. Find other ways to buy time: Stop saying "That's a very good question" as a way to buy time before you answer a media interview question. It's a longer version of "um," I'm afraid. I've got ideas for how you can better advance the interview, redirect the question or clarify a misperception.
  10. Respond, don't react, to questions: If you disagree with the reporter in the middle of a recorded interview, that might become the story. A real-life case study with suggestions for doing it differently. In general, it's a good idea to remember that you should respond--not react--to the reporter's question.
  11. Answer the question: You may be tempted to dodge or evade the reporter's question, but viewers are getting better at deciding whether your answer is on point. Your credibility may be at stake.
  12. Get to the point: How interview answers differ from lectures: If you keep telling the interviewer that you're going to tell him soon the answer to his question, he (and the audience) might not want to wait around. Here's how to stop that bad habit and get to the point faster.
  13. Making news all on your own? Sometimes the "interview" isn't an interview. You might become an accidental broadcaster and make news another way. Here's how to avoid making that kind of misstep.
  14. Correct yo'self: Don't wait till the interview's over, then complain about mistakes. Instead, use the two opportunities you have to make corrections--both of them right during the interview--to have a pain-free result.
  15. When training helps: If you're facing a particular kind of interview, you might need more specialized media training. Here's what to ask for. I'd be glad to work with you on your preparations, whether you are building skills you can use again and again or focused on a particular interview. Email me at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com.
While you're at it, check out 8 things you can do to ensure you get called again for an interview. It's the real goal for every interview interaction.
Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.