What Not to Do During a Presentation

If you are like me you have attended a few conferences or conventions in your lifetime and have most likely sat through many a presentation.  The cold hotel meeting room, lukewarm powerpoint presentation, uncomfortable chairs, sub-par A/V equipment…you get the picture.  There are times (though they may be few) that I have been really wowed by a presenter.  I was listening to every word, following along in the presentation and really enjoying every minute.  The speakers who can deliver are very, very special.

I always say that a great presenter has a gift.  Here are a few speakers I’ve seen recently who have the gift: Erik Wahl, Jeanne Robertson, General Russell Honore, Jason Dorsey, and Christine Cashen.  They all share some things in common…charisma, great speaking skills, storytelling ability and delivery.

I’ve also endured my fair share of bad presenters and I usually sit in the audience and pity the poor person on stage.  Here are ten things that I’ve seen presenters do wrong:

1. Be Immensely Boring. Come on, even if your topic is boring (like spreadsheets) find a way to make it relatable and fun.

2. Claim to be a social media guru with only 12 Twitter followers and 3 tweets. Don’t even get me started on this one, I see it all the time.

3. Start out by saying you were up late, had a bad flight, bad hotel room etc. I get that bad things happen when you travel, but we (the audience) don’t care…never let them see you sweat! 

4. State this is the largest audience you’ve ever spoken in front of. Hey that’s cool, but fake it till ya make it…we don’t need to know that this is your first big break.  Own it. 

5. Bash other presenters.  Or anyone really, the audience doesn’t want to feel uncomfortable and if you are bashing a previous speaker or competitor it makes us uneasy. 

6. Long, complicated powerpoint slides.  Powerpoint is a necessary evil when presenting but it doesn’t have to be an eye exam.  It should enhance your presentation not overpower it.

7. Skip a slide. Wait…what was on that slide? We are dying to know.  If you aren’t going to use the slide, get it out of your deck.

8. Pace too much.  Don’t move around too much, it’s very distracting and then that’s all we focus on…your moving around the stage.

9. Never move from behind the podium.  Just as distracting and it feels cold…you want to connect with your audience you need to get out from behind the podium.

10. Talk about this funny video, then video doesn’t play in presentation.  Listen A/V crap happens, I know this firsthand, but if you are going to go on and on about how great the video is in your presentation, make darn sure it plays.  We really want to see it.


Those are my ten…what about you, what would you add to the list?


Here’s a good article on what great speakers don’t say.


Thought Leaders

Are you ever just completely amazed by all the information ‘out there’ in the world? You can google any problem or issue and voilá someone is an expert, someone has been through your exact problem and solved it.   If you need ideas or suggestions for better meetings, employee reviews, marketing, job descriptions, strategic plans, it is literally all out there on the world wide web. This makes me very happy.  I read 10-15 articles or blog posts every day…I cannot soak up enough knowledge.  Which is why I post my Fab Four articles each Friday…I want you to read great stuff each week as well.

Here are five thought leaders that I like and read weekly and I think you will like as well, so I provided a few details about each one so you can check them out.

1. Michael Hyatt: Forbes ranked him one of the top 10 online marketing experts to follow in 2014.  His weekly e-mails are wonderful and informative.  Besides marketing, he also talks a lot about leadership and personal development.

Twitter: @michaelhyatt 229k followers

2. Scott Berkun: I finished reading his book The Year Without Pants and it was wonderful.  Scott is a thoughtful writer and provides great insight to career planning and leadership. And he’s one of my favorites not only for his great material but he also commented on my blog once! (so cool!)

Twitter: @berkun 22k followers

3. Alexandra Franzen: Need a kick in the butt? She will deliver! Inspiring, motivational and intentional.  I love everything she writes. She has a passion for teaching the art of writing but she also talks a lot about communication.  Just a delight.

Twitter: @alex_franzen 13k followers

4. Kevan Lee, The Buffer Blog: By far, one of the best blogs out there in my opinion on all things social media and marketing.  Kevan really does his homework and provides great content everyday.

Twitter: @kevanlee 7k followers

5. Jacqueline Wolven: I’m proud to say I know Jackie personally.  Her posts are inspiring and many times she will say those things that most people are afraid to say, which I love about her.  She provides marketing, branding and social media expertise but she also writes about simple lifestyles and doing good work.

Twitter: @jackiewolven 3.8k followers

So, you might ask, how do I keep up with all these folks and all the articles? Here’s how I do it.

1. Pocket: I obviously have a full time job and I am a wife and mom so I can’t read every great article in the moment, so I save them to Pocket for reading later.

2. Buffer: When I find a great article, I want to share them with the world, so I tweet them.  Again, I am busy and can’t tweet on the go so I buffer content and Buffer schedules all of my tweets. I know you thought I was on Twitter 24/7 but I’m not.

3. Feedly: I love to blog but even more I love to follow and read great blogs so I use feedly to follow all my favorite bloggers and read their posts when I have a free moment throughout the day.  Plus from Feedly I can Pocket or Buffer my favorite posts.

4. Daily: Created by Buffer, this app curates some of the best content ‘daily’ and you can choose to send the content to Buffer right from the app.  Genius!

There you have it, now go out and read, tweet and save great content!

Pick Up or Get Up

In a recent blog post, I talked about the ‘reply all’ function and why I believe people need to pick up the phone or get up from their desks and talk to people instead of emailing.  Trust me, I’m guilty of this all the time.  I email folks when I could just pick up the phone and get the answer or result I am looking for instantly.  Email is easier and less invasive.  I’m learning, however, if I want a quick answer or if what I need to discuss is complicated, it is far easier to pick up the phone or walk to that person’s office and ask.  Sure, I know there won’t be a paper trail or a ‘cover your ass’ trail but it is more productive to get a quick solution…isn’t that what we are all trying to accomplish anyway?

Several years ago, I heard a Walmart executive talk about Mr. Sam’s rule for making decisions…basically something to the effect of, “Don’t make a big decision from your desk chair.” The executive went on to talk about how he had a store manager that needed to be fired. The store employees were complaining, store sales were down and so was morale. This executive could have easily fired the store manager from his desk chair that day. Instead, he got up, flew to the store and met with the store manager face to face. He learned that the store manager’s wife was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and the store manager was simply doing everything he could to stay afloat. The executive didn’t fire the store manager, he got him the help he needed and the time to be with his wife. This story stuck with me for all these years and has always reminded me to ‘get up’ and ask questions in person.

Another reason it’s good to talk in person is because tone is a very difficult thing to interpret in an email. I have the annoying habit of using way too many exclamation points in my emails (and texts, tweets, etc!)…mostly because I am trying to reflect my fun nature in the tone of my email. If a person doesn’t use exclamation points, or happy faces then sometimes tone can be misinterpreted in an email. Tone is rarely misinterpreted in a phone call or face to face conversation. There are times when you mean to inflect a stern tone in an email and the receiver misses the point all together. I promise if you pick up the phone, they won’t miss the tone at all from your voice.

Next time you start to write that email; try to pick up or get up. A few things will happen, for one, the person might actually appreciate talking to you because it is more personal than email, two, your message will be clear and concise (hopefully) and three, it’s always good to get up from our desks and walk somewhere!

Reply All…Let’s Not!

ive-never-been-held-hostage-but-ive-been-on-a-group-text-feb05Have you ever been on one of those never ending ‘reply all’ emails?  Absolute agony.  People, it is 2014 why can we not figure out how to properly use the ‘reply all’ function? To me, reply all simply means “cover your ass” because that is usually why someone uses the ‘reply all’ function.

Just the other day I explained it like this…person A. (let’s call him Jack) Jack needs an answer to a question and so he emails the 8 members of his team hoping that someone in that group will know the answer.  (Jack could also pick up the phone or {God forbid} walk to someone’s office but I will save that for another blog post) Perfectly fine for Jack to email the 8 staffers but here’s what usually happens next.  Person B. (let’s call her Sally) Sally immediately replies all with the answer to Jack’s question thus winning the make believe game in her head that you must be first to reply all! Then person C. (…Bob) Bob also replies all with the answer just mere seconds after Sally and so on and so on. Meanwhile person H. (YOU) gets out of their meeting and has 48 emails in their inbox…WTH?

In this instance, NO ONE should reply all.  Jack is the one who posed his question to 8 people, only Jack should suffer the 8 email responses not the other 8 people.  Now I know what the reply allers will say “But how do we know if Jack got his answer if we don’t reply all?” That is Jack’s problem, not anyone else’s.

Once ‘reply all’ starts it’s contagious thus making one simple email turn in to several.  Who has time for that? Aren’t we all aspiring to “Inbox Zero?”

Here’s another ‘reply all’ scenario.  If you are putting 50 email addresses in the T0: or the CC: area you are doing it wrong! And guess what this leads to? Someone replying all accidentally to all 50 people in your email. Disaster.  This is a nightmare situation for the 43 people who didn’t care one lick about the original email to begin with.

Reply all is a very delicate tool, one that must not be taken lightly.  Today we feel empowered to email anyone, anytime and that has lead to poor email etiquette in my opinion.  I myself am trying to pick up the phone more or talk face to face with people because I believe (much like the handwritten note) people appreciate human contact more than another email in their inbox.

The next time you get the urge to reply all…stop and either just hit reply or pick up the phone and say “hello.”

Here’s a great article about how to mute reply all emails.

How to Leave the Perfect Voice Mail Message

answeringMachineDON’T.  I absolutely despise voice mails.

I’m not really sure when my hatred for this time wasting event started…I remember a time when voice mails were my life, circa 1991.  I would race back to my dorm room to see if my answering machine had a blinking light…if it did, it usually meant a boy had called me.  {sigh}

Today however…if I see on my iPhone that I have a voice mail…I am not a happy camper.  Almost all of my friends know better than to leave me a vm because a. I have either told them not to or b. I don’t listen to their voice mail ever, i.e. sending them the message that I don’t do voice mails.   I can see that you called my phone so to me that implies, “call me back.”  I don’t need someone to leave me a message just to say “call me back.”  I get it!

If you really want to get me fired up…leave me a voice message and say “Call me back, I have a question for you.” ——What?? What is the question?? If you are going to go ahead and waste time by leaving the message, go ahead and tell me why you are calling…specifically. Do people think this air of mystery will make me want to call them back quicker? I usually just text back and say “what is your question?”

One of my all time favorite movies is Swingers (I have a huge crush on Vince Vaughn), in this movie, Jon Favreau, leaves several voice messages on a girl’s answering machine…just painful to watch.  I found this great article that talks about voice mail and this particular movie scene. 

So all kidding aside, sort of…if you must leave a voice mail, here are a few tips:

1. State your name clearly and repeat your phone number at least twice.

2. State the reason for your call and the reason you need that person to call you back.

3. Keep it simple and to the point.

4. Try really hard not to leave a voice mail!






I’m Not Sorry (Anymore)

“I’m sorry.”  I must say those words a million times a day.

“I’m sorry but I think we should use a different photo for the ad”

“Sorry, I didn’t have time to answer your four paragraph email”

“So sorry, would you mind turning down your music”

“Sorry, but you are in my seat.”

My gosh, it is an epidemic! Why do I feel so sorry all the time? A female co-worker shared this great article (by Jessica Bennett) with me and she said in the email “I’m guilty of this.” And after I read the article, I realized I am guilty as well.  Sometimes, I feel if I preface a tough statement with the word ‘sorry’ the sentiment won’t be so terse…why do I have to apologize for being terse? I don’t think men say the word ‘sorry’ near as much as women.  I even wondered if it was a southern thing…like how I say “Bless Your Heart,” but this article leads me to believe that it is not a southern thing…it’s a female thing.

A while ago, I read an article that said people use the word ‘busy’ to one up each other about how busy they are as if they are the only people on earth who are busy.  I hear this every. single. day.  So, after reading that article, I work very hard not to say that I am busy…I try to say something more positive and genuine.  We are all busy, so why is it some badge of honor to tell everyone how busy we are?

Sorry, I digress.  UGH! See, there it is again.  I am going to work very hard to stop apologizing for basically existing in this world.  From now on, I will assert myself and not apologize for having an opinion.  I will stop apologizing to the waiter when I need more butter with my french toast.  Starting today, I will not apologize when someone bumps into me at the grocery store.  I will certainly not say I am sorry when it was your phone that dropped the call!

Will you join me? Let’s all stop saying we are sorry unless we truly are sorry and need to apologize for something.  So, if you know me and you hear me use the word sorry when I shouldn’t, please ask me to stop!

Here’s the commercial by Pantene mentioned in the article…it hit very close to home for me.

Employee Draft Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat if you could draft employees like teams draft players in the NBA? This week the NBA teams, were assigned their draft positions. Congrats to Cleveland by the way…first they get Johnny Cleveland (née Football) and now the first draft pick in the NBA.  See, losing Lebron wasn’t so bad.

But I digress.  If you could draft employees what type of employees would you want to draft? I read a great article this week about the 3 Qualities of Likeable People and in the article there’s a quote by Warren Buffett: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”

The NBA teams get to  see their draftees play and perform before they draft them, wouldn’t it be great if you could see an employee in action before you decided to bring them to your team? Many times you can.

When you are networking, working with customers,  attending events or even dealing with someone at your bank, do you ever think, “They’re really great at their job?” If you do, you should think about drafting this person to your team.  I believe that you can’t teach great customer service or instill a positive energy but if you find someone with those qualities, you should consider drafting them.  You can always teach them your business.  I’ve been in restaurants before and had a server who was so wonderful at their job, I’ve thought, “Man, I would hire them if I could.”  If you do this as well…take notice, maybe you should hire them.

Sometimes You Get Fired

Can you imagine being fired and it being national, or international news? This happens to many people in the limelight; pro and college coaches, CEOs of public companies, folks in Hollywood and the editor of the New York Times.  When this happens, whether it is national news or not, the best thing you can do is take the high road and move on.  Being fired may feel like the end of the world, but soon you might realize it was the best thing that ever happened to you.

Jill Abramson was fired last week by the New York Times and it was definitely major news.  I think it shocked the media world.  There have been many articles about why she was fired, what went wrong, who is to blame.  I cannot imagine having my life scrutinized as hers has been this past week.

Today, Ms. Abramson spoke at the Wake Forest Commencement and one of the first things she said was, “I think the only real news here today, is your graduation.” What a great opportunity for the Wake Forest graduates to hear from someone who has had an amazing career and was just recently fired.  The message to the graduates: It can happen to you and if it does, pick yourself up and find something better.

I think it is very commendable that Ms. Abramson got up this morning and stood in front of everyone at the commencement (and the world really) and said that she picked herself up and moved on.  She told the graduates that she doesn’t know what is next for her and that she is in the same boat as they are…looking for a job.  Congrats to you Ms. Abramson for your grace and gumption!


Who Are You?

Are you a high I, ENFJ, or an activator? (I’m all three by the way!) I am fascinated by personality and strength finder tests.  Most recently, I have taken the DISC profile, Strengths Finder and Myers-Briggs test.  All three told me things I already knew about myself but what is interesting are the things about myself that surprised me, which is why I think it’s important to take these tests throughout your career.  Plus, it’s fun…like an “Is he the one?” quiz in Cosmo magazine. (sorry, flashback to my college years)

My colleague, Tim Keck, administered my DISC profile and if you would like this profile for yourself or your employees, I highly recommend calling Tim and utilizing his services.  He does a great job.  We spent a morning talking about me and my results…which if you know me, you know I LOVED doing that.  I learned a lot not only about me but about what makes me tick, how to manage me, etc.  I’m a high I (Influence), high S (Steadiness), medium D (Dominance) and low C (Conscientiousness).  It was pretty insightful and helped me think through a lot of issues that have been keeping me up at night.

I bought the Strengths Finder book at Amazon.com at the urging of my dad.  His company has been using Strengths Finder and after seeing his results,  I had to buy my own book.  Again, the results did not surprise me but I did learn a few new nuances about myself.  I can see how this would be helpful to have your team take the test and share with each other their strengths.  This could be very eye opening to know what your co-worker’s strengths are when working on a group project.  I’m: Strategic, Communication, Activator, Mazimizer and Ideation.  Very similar to my DISC results.

Finally, the Myers-Briggs test.  I took this several years ago and I wish I could remember what I was then but today I am ENFJ, or The Giver.  I like that about me.  ENFJ stands for extrovert, iNtuitive, feeling and judging.  This test has been around for years and many folks in the business world can probably tell you what they are.  It is still a good test and will bring insight not only about your own personality but about those who work for you and with you.

Which personality assessment test do you like best?