Business Is Bad? Yes . . . It's YOU.

Once a month, I go to an incredible meeting of 100+ successful executives who get together to talk business. The person who runs the show is an incredible personality — full of vigor, experience, and knowledge. His ability to speak in front of the group each month is a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, his ability to put together a professional looking presentation is clearly missing and he also doesn’t know how to work his own laptop for the presentation (he consistently runs into mishaps and problems).

This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. There’s a lot of competent professionals and executives out there with ugly, cheesy, and just plain awful logos, images, and presentations. And to top it off, they have no technical experience to operate their own machines.

Their excuse is they’re not competent with the tools at their disposal, they ‘just don’t have the eye’ for design, or they don’t have the money to hire someone who has the ability to make their stuff great.

Guess what? You Are In BusinessEverything about your business needs to not only be great, but look great too. It also needs the ability to communicate effectively to your audience. Stop hiding behind the old and antiquated belief ‘you’re above all that mundane stuff’ — you’re too important/elevated to have to know/understand your own technology. Or the phrase I love, "It's worked for me for many years."

Here are some excuses I run into:

“I don’t need to know how to run my laptop...” — Yes you do. It’s your business. If you look like an idiot in front of an audience because you don’t pre-plan and ensure everything is working fine, it’s YOUR fault. Grow up and learn your tools inside out. It’s not an overhead projector, it’s a laptop.

“I know we need to make our website look better...” — Yes you do. You should have done it YEARS ago. It’s almost 2011, not 1998. Your site is the first location most people encounter your image and information. Screw this up and you cut your sales dramatically.

“I have to have my logo/business cards redone...” — Yes, they suck. You look like a hobbyist, unprofessional, and you are wandering through business with an unprofessional image for all of us to endure. Hire a competent creative to redo your entire look. Today. See this post.

“It’s the best I can do or I was too busy to get it done right...” — Are you an idiot? Would you say that to a client? I’m giving my time and energy to meet, greet or go to your presentation — hire someone who can do it for you or take the time to do it. Stop acting like a child.

I know I’ve been a little harsh about this topic, but I meet/greet many people in my day-to-day business. Many have their act together. But there is a wide swath of professionals and executives who are damaging their image and business (and hurting my eyes) when they don’t fix what is clearly and apparently wrong with their image and business. And their attitude is they are ‘too above’ this issue to worry about it — bottom line, YOU’RE NOT.

This is not rocket science folks. Hire a competent creative or designer (I know many great ones) who can help you look INCREDIBLE. Don’t hinder or hurt your message with bad design, tools or planning.

3 Tips To De-Complexify Your Life.

Okay, 'Complexify' is not a real word.  But it should be. Because we all complexify our careers, our business, and our lives with excess baggage.

Most of my time in corporate and coaching is spent wading through this morass of baggage to get to that shiny nugget of an idea.

For years, I was the one in the meeting trying to understand a needlessly complex presentation or product. All because the presenter was trying to impress their audience by making the communication more complex. They used lots of big words. Volumes of charts. Slide upon slide of bullets.

So here are my commandments:

1. Complex communication is lazy. Usually, if people complexify their presentation, it's because they haven't thought the entire presentation through. They haven't put themselves in the audience's seat to view the presentation. In fact they add slides, graphs, bullets, and garbage to their communication because they are afraid of missing anything — so they just add everything. It's like going on a trip — you're afraid of not having the right clothes — so you bring them all.

Easy Fix: Edit, edit, edit. You need to revise constantly with an eye to shortening your communication - make it more concise - keep it clean and simple.

2. Complex communication doesn't make you look smarter. So many executives and business owners try to be clever with their communication. They feel their college and grad school education is best portrayed with a complex and mellifluous vocabulary. The more the better. They will happily drop a report or presentation with 75 slides to give the effect they are a hard worker — just like in school when they dropped a 20 page paper on the teacher's desk. I'm not advocating 'dumbing it down' — just simplifying it a bit. By the way, the teacher hated you for it.

Easy Fix: Keep your self esteem in check — people will appreciate direct, simple language and direction over complex and fuzzy information. Today, most people recognize and admire people who keep things simple and straightforward. Remember, the Gettysburg Address (263 words in length) was delivered in two minutes. That's your goal.

3. Complex communication works against you. You might not know it, but many people probably walk out of your presentations with more questions they came in with. Are many of your email directions followed up with multiple questions? Do people on your team go in the wrong direction frequently with their duties? It might be time for you to review HOW you speak to them — they might not totally understand your intentions.

Easy Fix: At the end of a presentation or meeting with staff, ask: "Any questions? Is there anything you want me to go over again? Is everyone clear?" Be earnest and push them for questions — and don't give them a mental demerit if they do ask a question. That's your job — to clearly inform, direct and motivate your troops.


P.S. Do you need to de-complexify your life? Let’s talk. I’ve worked with people from all over the world who wanted to take aggressive steps in their life — contact me to schedule a complimentary session.

10 Tips For More Successful Presentations.

Yesterday, I presented in front of a Fortune 50 organization and spoke on the subject of 'Closing The Sale'. It's a near and dear topic with me and I feel EVERYONE needs to always brush up on their closing techniques. I was so happy to receive hearty applause from the group when I finished — many team members came up to me afterward to shake my hand. During the entire morning, I realized I've 'built-in' a number of successful habits when I deliver presentations and I thought I would relate them to you — so here goes:

1. Pack up the night before.

I check (and double check) all of my files, my laptop, my projector and all of the peripherals/cables needed the night before. I ensure they are packed and ready to go in the morning. I know of so many instances when people forget things for their presentation — a cable, adapter, handouts, etc. and it makes them spin into a tizzy prior to their presentation. Prepare.

2. Arrive early.

Really early. Hours early. I arrived at my location at 6 AM to set up my laptop, projector and to check if everything was ready to go. I can't stress this enough — nothing went wrong, but if something was amiss, I had ample time to repair it.

3. Greet everyone as they come in.

I make it a point to stand by the door to greet people as they enter. It breaks down the 'wall' which develops with presenters and the audience. They get to meet you, ask questions, you can ask questions of them — it's a win-win for everyone. In addition, you can find out more about them and position your talk to their needs.

4. Build an intro slide.

I always have my laptop powered up, my projector running and an intro slide with me welcoming people. Usually my slide would say GOOD MORNING TEAM! It's a nice way to greet people AND it is a great excuse to have my entire setup on and ready to roll for my presentation. I hate when presenters are introduced and they are fidgeting with their laptop, projector, and cables to get everything running.

5. Ask if everyone is 'READY'.

I always begin with a slide (after the title slide and introduction) to stop and ask the audience if they're ready. It jolts them at first but then I get a resounding 'YES!' and their attention is on me and their blood is pumping.

6. Ask a lot of questions.

I make it interactive and ask the audience a lot of questions — "Has this happened to you?" — "How do you feel about this?" It allows me to keep the volley moving between speaker and audience.

7. Use the audience as examples.

During my pre-talk greet with the audience, I get to know their names, professions, and some of their worries. During my presentation, I might use them to reinforce a point I'm making by singling them out and using them in a fictitious example. They always agree with me and everyone around them gets the message — they could be next!

8. Watch the clock.

I always ensure I've locked down the EXACT length and time to present. Hosts ALWAYS try to cut it short, so I make sure I meet with them prior to the talk and clearly define MY time on stage. I then reiterate my start time and end time and in a very nice way let them know not to cut it short. It seems every host has a secret need to let their people out early and I have to head that inkling off at the pass.

9. Always leave time for questions.

Know when to stop and leave time for the audience to expand on what you just presented. Not only does it clear up some things for them, it allows them to flourish you with accolades in front of the audience.

10. Be available after the talk.

I always buffer additional time after all of my speaking gigs to allow the audience to meet me, speak with me, ask questions, and exchange cards. I get a LOT of business that way. So stick around and be available — I find there usually is a line of people ready and willing to reach out and touch you.

3 Steps To A Perfect Presentation.

I'm asked frequently by clients and colleagues alike how I construct my presentations (see a typical slide to the right). Here's my secret: Step One: Who Is Your Audience & What Do You Want Them To Take Away

This is the most important step that most executives and speakers forget. The usual process is to pick a topic and brain-dump into Powerpoint until you hit the requisite 75 slides. You’re done!