Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving thanks for my clients, and closed for the week

Nearly every month, I sit down at this desk--reserved for handwritten notes--and write to clients to express my gratitude for the opportunity to work with them. So I have a form of thanksgiving on a regular basis. This week, all of my blogs--this one, Moderating Panels, and The Eloquent Woman--will take a well-earned break, with all three blogs back in full publishing mode next week. I will be using the Thanksgiving holiday to reflect on my gratitude to my clients.

This year, in addition to helping them meet their goals and carry out their strategies, I also was spending time with my sister, who died in July. I was about to lead a conference workshop in Florida when I got the call that she was worsening, and for the next few months, my clients made room for me to rearrange deadlines or work remotely while I spent critical time with her and with my family. Many clients shared their own experiences with the loss of a family member and took the time to inquire and listen to me about where I was at various stages of the process. There's nothing for which I can be more grateful. Here are the stellar clients I've worked with this year, with thanks to all of them for work I continue to find engaging and exciting:
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science, where I led a workshop for its Science & Technology Policy Fellows about public opinion research and how it can inform their work on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies. I love hearing from them about public opinion data resources in their agencies.
  • The American Medical Association, where I provided coaching and speechwriting for executive leadership and a special TEDMED-related event where the speakers really hit their mark.
  • The Association of Public and Land-Grant Univesities (APLU), for whom I've coached higher education executives to do five-minute "Shark Tank"-style pitches in competition for funding for innovative projects in student advising and other areas. I worked with higher education leaders in Ohio, Arizona, Oregon, Florida, and California as they pitched innovations in advising--and it was a delight to hear their ideas.
  • athenahealth, a cloud-based electronic health records and practice technology company, where I've coached teams and individual executives for investor and conference presentations and keynotes. Love working with this repeat client.
  • IBM, where I piloted a storytelling workshop for marketing professionals from the North America, Europe/Middle East/Africa, and Asia Pacific regions. My magic sauce? Doing a workshop with no slides that held the group's attention.
  • Individual clients who are CEOs, scientists, educators, and executives looking to up their presentation game. Several gave TEDx talks or talks in that style that garnered compliments and more invitations to speak.
  • The National Council for Behavioral Health, where I led a workshop for communications and marketing pros on working better with subject-matter experts in mental and behavioral health. This took place at the Council's impressive annual conference. Knowing how hard they worked always makes me proud.
  • The Nature Conservancy, where I've been coaching environmental scientists in TNC's Science Impact Program to give talks in the style of TED. I'm starting work with a new cohort of the program's scientists for 2016.
  • The Physician Assistant Education Association, where I provided speaker coaching for executive leadership before the association's annual conference. 
  • Sanergy, a nonprofit working to make hygienic sanitation affordable and accessible in Africa. I conducted media training for the group's founders, creative thinkers about an intractable problem.
  • The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, where I led a communications staff retreat and provided support for the center's blogs and social media strategy.
  • SIGCHI, the special interest group on human-computer interaction of the Association of Computing Machinery. As a first step in a message development process, we're exploring public opinion about those interactions.
  • The Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD), part of the American Hospital Association. I conducted a workshop on presentations in the style of TED for the health care marketers and planners who attended the well-organized SHSMD conference this year.
  • TEDMED, where I advised all the speakers on memorizing talks and coached them backstage for the fifth year in a row. It's always a highlight of the year for me.
  • The UK Speechwriters Guild, where I conducted a pre-conference workshop on creating a TED-quality talk. Its conference is a wonderful incubator for my training workshops.
  • The University of Maryland Baltimore County, where I conducted advanced media training for faculty in computing and engineering, and made sure we covered the questions they've always wanted to ask in a training, but didn't have the chance to ask.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Security R&D division, where I provided social media and communications strategies for its National Conversation on a Trusted Cyber Future, as well as other division communications. Wonderful for me to be working again with this repeat client.
  • WellSpan Health in York, PA, a health care corporation for which I coached a group of 20 executive leaders to give five-minute talks in the style of TED. I still get emails from them telling me about how they're using the talks and getting more invitations to speak!
I'm wishing you and all my clients a warm and wonderful holiday with those you love the most.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The weekend read

If the week's starting to smell like the inside of your car, communicators, it's time to freshen it up for the weekend with my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Get your pine-tree-fresh facts, leads, and reads right here:
Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter, or let me know how we can work together in 2016 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Robert S. Donovan)

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, November 18, 2015

Game-changer: MOO's new NFC-enabled business cards

This seems to be the season of technology that lets you stay high-touch as well as high-tech. I've written about using my new Ringly for notifications and how it helps, in my view, with personal interaction. Now comes MOO's new NFC-enabled business card, expanding your range and reach even when that networking contact is far from you.

Let me say first of all that I've been using MOO cards for several years. The quality of the paper and printing is excellent, and you have the option to print many images, not just one, within a pack. Even some of the available designs offer several variations in a pack, which boosts the interaction when you take out several during a networking session--I've found that people like to pick their favorites, and love the feel of the paper MOO uses. And a memorable card is one people keep.

These new cards are sure to join that memorable group. The cards are embedded with NFC (near-field communication) chips, the technology predicted to take over where QR (quick response) codes left off. (You can read more about the thinking that went into this interface here.) With a smartphone that is NFC-enabled, all you have to do is hold the card to the back of the phone to be connected with a website, social profile, or some other destination.

One big difference is that the MOO NFC cards provide you with a dashboard for managing the codes, so you can change the action without having to issue new cards. That makes them keepers, and more interactive. You also get metrics on who's interacting, how frequently, and more. Here are just some of the actions you can program the cards to:
  • Make a digital business card that lets your contact use one tap to call you, message you, or just save your contact info.
  • Share a link to your website, or all your social media connection points.
  • Promote your app--one of the toughest challenges out there--by connecting contacts with your Google Play download.
  • Share a Spotify playlist you've made.
  • Connect on LinkedIn.
  • Video chat with Appear.in.
  • Share directions with Citymapper.
In effect, the NFC embed erases the distance between two points. You don't need to take extra steps to enter contact info or act on the connection. You just tap or hold the card to the phone. 

As a speaker coach, the idea that a client can keep my card and use it to tap into a video chat or go to a specific website of practice resources has real appeal. The networking and event options also are intriguing. After all, you can design the card any way you want. It need not be a traditional "business card," but could be a card distributed at an event to make sure everyone can tap into directions to a party or become a LinkedIn network. And this singer-songwriter issued an album of cards for an interactive listening experience.

The user doesn't need an app to access any of this--they just tap the card to the back of their Android or Windows phone. (Apple, in its wisdom, doesn't yet support this.) You do need to have your NFC function turned on, and that in turn may activate Bluetooth. But tapping or aligning the card with the back of the phone pulls up any link you want, instantly.

You can get creative with that: One example in the video shows a card mounted next to a framed artwork in a museum. A tap with the viewer's phone uploads more info on a website. MOO expects to expand the technology to other stationery products; for now, the business cards are the first available with NFC.

For my first batch of NFC cards, I went with a simple design (see above) that includes instructions for finding out more. I've learned that when a technology is new, part of your job is to help the user get used to it.

Best of all, the prices are in line with what you'd pay for high-quality cards. If you use my link and you're a first-time orderer at MOO, you'll get 10 percent off your order. Watch the video below to get more ideas on how you can use this communications tool, not just for yourself, but for your company or organization. Don't forget that MOO's an international company. The website usually serves itself up in the correct language and price, based on your location, but if not, click on the flag icon to find your language and pricing--something I used to good effect when I found out I was out of cards on the eve of travel to Amsterdam last year. I just ordered from the European site and had the cards delivered to me at my hotel. So don't hesitate to order if you are outside the U.S.

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. 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, November 13, 2015

The weekend read

If you've taken the measure of the week and found it wanting, communicators, I've got good news: It's almost the weekend. Time to sift through my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Have a spoonful of smartness before Monday rolls around again:
Start baking: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter, or let me know how we can work together in 2016 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Terry Chay)

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, November 11, 2015

Using a wearable to enhance in-person interactions: My new Ringly

I've been in a lot of meetings this quarter, and it's allowed me to notice what I--and others--do with our phones during these sessions. And it ain't pretty. Some text continually, others keep checking when a notification comes through, others give away their boredom while scrolling something else.

But as a speaker coach, it's often my job in these meetings to pay attention to the speaker, usually to evaluate his or her performance. I may need to know about a notification, but I don't want it to distract me, or the speaker. So I've invested in my first piece of wearable tech, a Ringly.

Ringly--Bluetooth-powered wearable jewelry that buzzes and emits light to share notifications when it's synced to your smartphone--first came to my attention while I was watching this year's TEDWomen talks. Ringly CEO Christina Mercando spoke, and I was intrigued: Real gemstones, a box that acts as a charger, and options for a wide range of notifications that come to you either via a subtle light on one side of the ring, or a series of buzzes that only you can feel. The light signals are keyed to colors that represent different types of notifications. You've got to choose and learn which notifications mean which channels, but that's about as complex as it gets. And you need not get every notification this way. If all I'm concerned about is email, that can be the only alert I get via the ring.

Here's what I notice: I'm paying better attention. I can leave my phone in my handbag, watch the speaker, take part in the conversation, and still know what's coming in. If I choose to check my phone, it's a rarity rather than a regular habit. No one really notices the ring--only I can feel the buzzer--and it works in a wide range of settings, relying on a Bluetooth connection.

I think we'll see more options like this one, given the awkward ways we've adapted to using devices and keeping up conversations. MIT's Sherry Turkle, whose new book is Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, writes about the issue this way in a New York Times op-ed:
I’ve been studying the psychology of online connectivity for more than 30 years. For the past five, I’ve had a special focus: What has happened to face-to-face conversation in a world where so many people say they would rather text than talk? I’ve looked at families, friendships and romance. I’ve studied schools, universities and workplaces. When college students explain to me how dividing their attention plays out in the dining hall, some refer to a “rule of three.” In a conversation among five or six people at dinner, you have to check that three people are paying attention — heads up — before you give yourself permission to look down at your phone. So conversation proceeds, but with different people having their heads up at different times. The effect is what you would expect: Conversation is kept relatively light, on topics where people feel they can drop in and out.
Wearables have many advantages, including the ability to be viewed more easily in outdoor and direct-sunlight settings, among other things. I'm delighted with this one, and am looking forward to finding other ways to put it to use. Next on my list (as in, I've already contributed to its IndieGoGo campaign): The Dipper Audio Necklace, which serves as earbuds and microphone for music and phone calls...and as a wearable necklace.

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. 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, November 06, 2015

The weekend read

You've been raking all week, in a manner of speaking, haven't you, communicators? I can tell by the big piles all around you. Time to gather up my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Put that rakish grin on your face and enjoy:
Buy my 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 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by tuchodi)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Tell It Better: Visual storytelling with metaphor

Storytelling isn't just a verbal art. While you're busy minding your dramatic arcs and your suspenseful starts, don't miss out on making the most of metaphor's visual aspects.

Metaphors are tailor-made for visual treatment, calling to mind as they do the image of the thing to which you're comparing something. "The fog comes in on little cat feet" conjures up the creeping forward of a cat, or a line of fog coming in. "My baby thinks he's a train," the great country music lyric, sets the scene visually for a guy moving from town to town, fast. So why not use a visual to underscore the metaphor--in a slide, film, graphic, video, or cartoon?

This article on using metaphors in design offers lots of useful considerations for subtle and skilled use of visual metaphors, and urges you to think about the company or product's real purpose:
One annual report for the Calgary YWCA emphasized the organization’s work with battered women, so the report itself was torn and distressed. The headline on the beat-up cover: “Last year over 11,000 Calgary women were treated worse than this book.” This metaphor may even be stronger than if they had used actual photographs of battered women, since this approach is less expected. 
And don’t be too literal. Try to find metaphors that capture psychological essence more than simply external reality. Let’s say that you’re creating a poster announcing a seminar in business fundamentals for graphic designers, one called “The Business Primordial.” You may start thinking of cave men with clubs—clubs as felt-tip markers, business cards made out of stone, cave men dressed in business suits and so on. In other words, you could try to fuse some image of business or graphic arts with some “primordial” image. But you don’t have to. A visual of two dogs in a tug of war (a pure metaphor) can also express the psychological essence of basic business difficulties in a less obvious way. It’s a metaphor off to the side; the dogs symbolize not the thing, but the emotional center of the thing. They’re unexpected but appropriate.
This World Health Organization video about depression uses the black dog metaphor for depression, and the illustrations in the film offer great examples of making full use of the visual implications in this metaphor, from keeping the dog leashed to the size--large, then diminishing--of the dog.

I had a black dog, his name was depression YouTube

How will you use visual storytelling to carry out your metaphors?

(Creative Commons licensed photo by churl)
  
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.