Tell your story to connect with your audience

Have you ever attended a presentation that put you to sleep? (Maybe one of your presentations had that effect!) Or, how about the presentation that all but slipped your mind by the following day?

A presentation can fail for a number of reasons. One cause is a lack of stories. Good stories are powerful tools, noted Rob Biesenbach during this month’s Milwaukee PRSA meeting.

Rob BiesenbachBiesenbach, who owns Rob Biesenbach LLC, kicked off his presentation with a few stories of his own. A long-time Chicago resident, Biesenbach has “commuted” to Milwaukee at least 150 times over the years. He has also traveled around Wisconsin. He learned to ski in the state, observed the infamous goats atop Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay, and got married in Lake Geneva.

As a result, we in the audience developed a connection to Biesenbach. Which is one of his points. “Story telling is one of the most powerful forms of communication,” Biesenbach says. “It breaks down barriers.”

Our brains are naturally receptive to stories, Biesenbach says. Research has shown that 63% of an audience will remember stories told during a presentation, while only 5% will recall the stats that were provided.

Stories work because they:

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Important reminders of telephone etiquette

how to speak clearly by phone, phone etiquette tips, telephone etiquetteSpeaking clearly is important all times. We accept that in business settings. We sometimes let our guard down, though, during private conversations. Of course, some of that is acceptable. After all, no one is perfect and no one expects perfection from others.

There is a fine line between casual and sloppy conversation. If you want to be–and remain–a polished speaker, you should practice the fundamentals in every instance. Some people think they can switch on the communication skills when needed (say, for a business presentation). That’s not as simple as it seems. Speaking clearly when necessary becomes easier when you commit to speaking clearly all the time.

Consider your phone or Skype calls, social gatherings, and other private events. Every time you open your mouth to say something, use the opportunity to practice what you’ve been taught. Eventually the principles become second nature, and you’re speaking well in all circumstances.

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Marketing to Generation C

You’ve heard of Millennials, Generation X and Generation Y. Now comes Generation C. Who it is, what they do, and how to market to them was the subject of a fascinating presentation during yesterday’s PRSA luncheon in downtown Milwaukee. A panel comprised of staff from Bader Rutter, a business marketing agency in Brookfield, Wis., provided a thorough review of this dynamic group.

First, unlike the other groups listed above, Gen C is not age related. The term, coined by rating service Nielsen, means Generation Connected. These folks are defined by their actions, Gen Cmainly through social media. With their smartphone always (or nearly always) on, Gen C’ers are:

Communicating and connecting: among other social media users near and far

Creating: content and posting it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. They are very passionate about brands, and use social media to share their opinions.

Changing: forcing marketers to change they way they do business in light of the exposure brought through these social media posts.

Why should marketers care about this group?

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Bill Walsh’s 4 qualities of successful entrepreneurs

Bill WalshBill Walsh, CEO and Founder of Powerteam International, offered some keen business ideas Tuesday night  to a group of entrepreneurs at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee. Walsh spelled out four qualities needed to be successful.

1. Be an expert. You have to be someone who “owns the space.” People want to hire those who are experts at a skill set, Walsh says. The money is in being a specialist.

It is a mental process, as well. Get accustomed to identifying yourself as an expert. When asked, reply, “I am [a great communicator/an author, etc.]”

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Public speaking tip: Provide your own intro

Public speaking training: Provide your own introduction.

Ensure a proper introduction by writing your intro. Too many speakers simply hand the host a thick bio or multi-page résumé. The person has to sift through all that material–on the spot–to get to the relevant information. Worse, the person reads all of it, wasting valuable time and boring your audience to tears. (I once suffered through a nearly 5-minute introduction!)

Write a brief intro that gets to the relevant facts. Keep to about 90 seconds, as you can say a lot in that amount of time. Mention your current position and firm, touch on the relevant history, and offer a theme or takeaway along with the title. By providing an intro, you get to properly set the stage for your presentation.

Provide your intro to the meeting host ahead of time so the person has time to review it. (Another hint: type in large font – 14 or 16 point – so the host doesn’t have any trouble reading your copy.)

Bottom line: Always provide your own intro.

For additional training, see “5 tips to keep your presentation on time” and “Presentation tip: Don’t let gaffes trip you up.”

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