Friday, October 30, 2015

The weekend read

Every smart communicator has an exit strategy...and that's never more important than on a Friday. Wedge your way out the door using my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you.
Make like a tree and leave: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter; register yourself or your principal for one of my small-group workshops on Creating a TED-quality talk in January 2016 (the big discount ends TODAY);  or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Holly Kuchera)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

.@ivanoransky on how to pitch reporters without being annoying

At the recent #sciwri15, the conference of the National Association of Science Writers, Ivan Oransky of MedPage Today and the blogger behind Embargo Watch and Retraction Watch, put his finger on the problem with pitching reporters: You're being annoying when you do that.

And I'll just add: That's a really nice, laid-back, polite way of saying that. Perhaps it will prompt you to some nice, laid-back, polite pitching.

Influenced early in my media relations career by a mentor who said, "Do what you wish someone had done for you when you were a journalist," I focused on the approach of tip more, pitch less to reach reporters. I'm delighted Oransky included it in the "do" list for that approach, and my post (at the link) not only shares what you can tip reporters off to, but some things you can stop doing to make time for this more customized approach.

Oransky's hit on one angle that may seem like a nuance to you, but that would be missing something big: It's better to tip reporters about something that isn't from your organization, but still of interest to them. It's a fantastic relationship-builder (the "relations" part in media relations) if done well and with care...and leaves the door open later when you have something from your company or organization to share.

Check out his slides, below, and pass 'em around. We really can't hear this stuff too often.


How to pitch reporters without being annoying from Ivan Oransky

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Adam)

I've got a workshop on Creating a TED-quality Talk coming up in January 2016 in Washington, DC. It repeats twice in that month: on January 14, and again on January 28, and I'm limiting them to 5 seats per session. Seats are already filling, and you get a 25 percent discount if you register by October 30--that would be the end of this week, people. All registration closes at the end of December or when all seats are filled, whichever comes first. Please join us, whether your goal is TED, TEDx, or just an elevated, current presentation style.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The weekend read

You're in the final stretch, communicators, rounding the bend toward the weekend. Take the turn with my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Take your positions:
Winners' circle: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter; register yourself or your principal for one of my small-group workshops on Creating a TED-quality talk in January 2016 (discount ending in just one week); or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Setting stretch goals for yourself as a communicator

I can't help but agree with Mark Twain, who said, “Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.”

More recently, Seth Godin called it part of your infrastructure: "It's possible to invest in hiring people who are educated (not merely good grades, but good intent) and to keep those people trained and up to speed." He also says that if you're playing offense and actively trying to get ahead in your business, choosing a public speaking course is one example of what you might do--a hopeful stance about your progress.

Maybe you don't see yourself as that luscious peach or an elaborate, architectural cauliflower, communicators. Maybe you don't think about the accumulated knowledge and skill as infrastructure or playing offense. But further training as a communicator, training that pushes your envelope, can get you there.

Too often, professional communicators spend time buying training for others, but not themselves, turning into a comms version of the shoemaker's children who never get shod. If you're coaching speakers but have never had speaker or presentation training yourself, for example, it's time to turn that around. Having said, "No, I'm supposed to be in the background" didn't help me one bit when the time came in my career for my employer to assume I was a comfortable, at-ease speaker. So I became one...with training.

Right now, your fiscal year has either just gotten going or is about to end. How have you provided for your own stretch goals and the training you and your team need to get there? Are you leaving training money already in your budget on the table? Have you identified the areas in which you need to stretch yourself as a communications pro? A good coach or trainer can help you to do that.

In January, I'm leading two identical workshops on creating TED-quality talks (see info below). Most of the people who hope to give such a talk can't quite picture themselves doing it. But they show up, get their assumptions challenged, find new angles on their talk ideas, learn the actual work that goes into the process...and then go out and do the work and give those talks. What seemed just an aspiration becomes a success, a reality. One registrant for the workshop says she wants to "Rock it TED-style when co-presenting with unchangeable read-off-the-slide PowerPoint users." And so she will. I've seen it happen again and again--when participants are willing to stretch themselves toward something greater. Are you?

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Adi Prabowo)

This stretch goal is actually within reach: I've got two small-group workshops coming up on Creating a TED-quality talk in Washington, DC, in January. Choose the January 14 workshop or the January 28 workshop. All you need to do is bring your one big idea for a talk in the style of TED. You'll learn how to plan, write, time, practice, and deliver it in a group limited to 5 people per workshop. Join us! You get the best discount if you register by October 30, 2015. That's next week, dear.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The weekend read

Stretch yourself, communicators, and find a little flex at the end of this long week. It's time to reach for my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. The weekend really *is* within reach. Limber up, right here:
Not a stretch: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter; register yourself or your principal for one of my small-group workshops on Creating a TED-quality talk in January 2016;  or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Glen Scott)

I've got a workshop on Creating a TED-quality Talk coming up in January 2016 in Washington, DC. It repeats twice in that month: on January 14, and again on January 28, and I'm limiting them to 5 seats per session. Seats are already filling, and you get a 25 percent discount if you register by October 30. All registration closes at the end of December or when all seats are filled, whichever comes first. Please join us, whether your goal is TED, TEDx, or just an elevated, current presentation style.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Resources: My #SHSMD15 workshop on TED-influenced presos

Earlier this week, I led a pre-conference workshopInspired by TED: Using TED and TEDMED Tactics to Improve Your Presentations, for the Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development. And as lively workshops do, this one generated lots of questions and requests for follow-up material based on our discussion.

In addition to talking about ways to apply TED-style tactics to improve presentations, we looked at how hospitals can build a culture of training and encourage or influence executives to seek public speaking coaching and training. In that vein, we talked about some of the biggest stumbling blocks around: The egos of the executives who need the training most. When the question arose about whether big-ego executives know that they lack presentation skills, I mentioned a study that suggests that the answer is "no." The study, Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one's own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments, is summarized here on Farnam Street blog (not HBR.com, as I thought).

Marketers and communicators looking for more help in working with the recalcitrant expert also will want to consult my post about 9 guides for communicators who work with big-ego experts, including my favorite, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't. And I recommend two more posts of mine: Does your CEO really want media training or public speaking training? and Making communications training worth your experts' time.

Those posts all hail from this blog, the don't get caught blog, which focuses on communications planning and strategy, working with experts, social media strategies, and media training. It's designed for communications pros who want to make sure they don't get caught unprepared, speechless or without a message.

My other blog, The Eloquent Woman, covers women and public speaking, and it's where you'll find posts related to improving your presentations and public talks. Here are some posts from that blog on the topic of our workshop:

One participant asked me privately about speaking on panels, and I recommend my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels, as a resource for organizers, moderators, and panelists.


If you want a deeper dive into creating TED talks, check out my upcoming workshop at the link below. I also do workshops for communicators about how to work better with experts, and if that's of interest to SHSMD participants, just drop me an email at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com and I'll put you on the list for the next session.

I've got a workshop on Creating a TED-quality Talk coming up in January 2016 in Washington, DC. It repeats twice in that month: on January 14, and again on January 28, and I'm limiting them to 5 seats per session. Seats are already filling, and you get a 25 percent discount if you register by October 30. All registration closes at the end of December or when all seats are filled, whichever comes first. Please join us, whether your goal is TED, TEDx, or just an elevated, current presentation style.

Friday, October 09, 2015

The weekend read

Time to wind up the weekend and wind down the week, communicators. Power up with my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. No batteries needed:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by macwagen)

I've got a workshop on Creating a TED-quality Talk coming up in January 2016 in Washington, DC. It repeats twice in that month: on January 14, and again on January 28, and I'm limiting them to 5 seats per session. Seats are already filling, and you get a 25 percent discount if you register by October 30. All registration closes at the end of December or when all seats are filled, whichever comes first. Please join us, whether your goal is TED, TEDx, or just an elevated, current presentation style.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Updated: The speechwriters' tour of Washington, DC

(Editor's note: Speechwriters are flocking to Washington this week, so I'm updating this 2014 post as a guide for those who want to soak in the speechwriting airs of Washington. This year, I had the chance to show off some of these sights to Jan Sonneveld, visiting speechwriter from The Netherlands.) It's a certainty that I'll have visitors from the speechwriting and speaker coach world visit me here in Washington, most recently, Peter Botting, who wrote about our speechwriter tour here. That's a good start on the places I point out when colleagues who love speeches come to the nation's capital. Here's my list:

  • The Lincoln MemorialLike many of our classic memorials to presidents, this one includes excerpts from Lincoln's speeches--including the full text of the very short Gettysburg Address. But the ultimate destination for speechwriters would be putting your feet on the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. Look up and out at the space on the plaza and around the pool and imagine the audience of 250,000 people that day--so many, they were sitting in the trees on either side. Here's Peter Botting, at right, in front of the Gettysburg Address at the memorial, and above, standing on the spot where King gave his speech. (If you can't find it, just ask a park ranger.)
  • The Washington Monument: Our first president, George Washington, gets the tallest monument. You can go all the way to the top for the best aerial view of the city, and don't forget to turn around and view the Lincoln Memorial from here, whether you're at the base or the top.
  • The King Memorial: One of the only memorials in town to honor a non-president, it's loaded with quotes from his speeches, so take your time here. In the spring, it's surrounded by cherry trees and their famous blossoms.
  • The Jefferson Memorial: This memorial also is adorned with the words of this president and author of our Declaration of Independence. I like to remind speechwriters of President John F. Kennedy's great line when welcoming the Nobel laureates from the Western hemisphere to the White House: "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
  • The FDR Memorial: This may be my favorite memorial, with outdoor "rooms" for each of his four terms in office, and quotes from his speeches on the walls.
    There's also a tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, herself a frequent speaker as she could travel more easily than her husband; here, the nod is to her work after his death, leading the international diplomatic effort that led to the Declaration of Human Rights. Here's Caroline Johns, Deloitte's top speechwriter, with the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • The Willard Hotel: Martin Luther King, Jr. put the finishing touches on his "dream" speech in his suite at the Willard, which also is the hotel where the term "lobbying" is said to have been coined. Lincoln touched up his first inaugural address here, at a time when the Willard was one of the few tall buildings on this stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Press Club was born in the hotel's Round Robin bar. Much more on Willard history is here, and it's right around the corner from the White House.
  • The Mayflower Hotel: Room 776 is where Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote his first inaugural speech, which contained the line "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." This is a few blocks north of the White House.
  • The White House: The site of too many famous speeches to mention, not to mention the offices of speechwriters, which are not on the public tours. But many of the formal rooms on the tour have been the locations of remarks by the presidents.
  • The Capitol building and rotunda: Anyone can get free timed tickets for a tour of the Capitol. I like to call Washington "a small town with a lot of hot air," and since so much of it emanates from this building, that must be why there's a dome on top. If Congress is in session, you can see for yourself by getting tickets to the visitor's gallery. The rotunda includes statues of many famous American speakers, although right now, the outside of the dome and the inside of the rotunda are sheathed in scaffolding due to a year-long repair process.
  • The Library of Congress: My favorite building, ever, this elaborately decorated interior deserves plenty of time, just for photo-taking. Right now, there's a civil rights exhibit that includes, among other items, the scripts from Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Lewis from the March on Washington, and the teleprompter feed from President Lyndon Johnson's signing of the civil rights act. Lewis was the youngest speaker on the platform the day of King's "I Have a Dream" speech; today, he is a U.S. Member of Congress.
  • The National Building Museum: This is where Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech in the 2008 campaign for the U.S. presidency. Imagine this big open space filled on every level--it was an impressive setting.
  • The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery: This museum has a portrait of every U.S. president in one gallery, along with a video loop of presidential speeches. You'll also find portraits of many famous speakers in revolving exhibits. Currently, farm workers' activist Dolores Huerta is featured in an exhibit with film, text, and photos of her many speeches.
  • The Lincoln Cottage: 
    Lincoln and his family lived here during much of his presidency and it's where he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. He used to commute to the White House on horseback, a journey described by poet Walt Whitman, who developed a nodding acquaintance with the president. If you're a speechwriter inspired by Whitman's "Oh, Captain, my Captain," made famous again in the movie Dead Poets Society, it helps to know that the poem was his tribute to Lincoln after the president's assassination. Here are New Zealand speaker coaches Tony Burns and Olivia Mitchell with the great man and his horse. This site is well away from the typical tourist sites, and worth the trip.
  • Politics and Prose bookstore: Also off the beaten track, P&P is a Washington fixture with a deep selection of political memoirs, histories, and books in every other category. With a tasty cafe and lots of comfortable seats scattered around the store, it encourages hanging out. And for speechwriter geeks, Lissa Muscatine, a former speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, is a co-owner. Hope you packed a spare suitcase!
There's much more, including sights you'll remember from The West Wing and House of Cards, two series that speechwriters and speakers love. And there's always the chance you'll see the current occupant of the White House, as Jan Sonneveld did last year:
I've got a workshop on Creating a TED-quality Talk coming up in January 2016 in Washington, DC. It repeats twice in that month: on January 14, and again on January 28, and I'm limiting them to 5 seats per session. Seats are already filling, and you get a 25 percent discount if you register by October 30. All registration closes at the end of December or when all seats are filled, whichever comes first. Please join us, whether your goal is TED, TEDx, or just an elevated, current presentation style...or if you're a speechwriter or communicator helping a speaker to achieve this goal.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The weekend read

The scarecrow's work is almost done. Time to harvest my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you, communicators. You'll be outstanding in your field by Monday:
Scare up some inspiration: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter; register yourself or your principal for one of my small-group workshops on Creating a TED-quality talk in January 2016;  or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Peter Pearson)

I've got a workshop on Creating a TED-quality Talk coming up in January 2016 in Washington, DC. It repeats twice in that month: on January 14, and again on January 28, and I'm limiting them to 5 seats per session. Seats are already filling, and you get a 25 percent discount if you register by October 30. All registration closes at the end of December or when all seats are filled, whichever comes first. Please join us, whether your goal is TED, TEDx, or just an elevated, current presentation style.