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COMMON SPEAKER PITFALLS by Craig Valentine

As the new President of Voices of Aaron Toastmaster Club, I thought it would be great to blog about speaking.

As a speaker, you may have the greatest content in the world, but if you do not connect with your audience, it can all go to waste. It’s like being on the phone and having something important to say, but there is static on the line and you can’t hear the other person. No matter what you have to say, your message won’t get through.

By understanding what stands in the way of connecting with an audience, you can make small adjustments that will lead to deeper and greater connections. Below are 20 reasons many speakers fail to connect.1 The audience does not relate to the speaker.
When the speaker talks about success after success after success, audience members may think to themselves, Well, of course these strategies work for him. He’s special. These strategies would never work for me. Whenever audience members feel the speaker is too special, they tend to cast off his or her advice.

2 Audience members are not sold on why they should listen to the speaker.
Your biography, speech description and introduction should clearly show how the audience will benefit from your presentation. They should be excited before you even take the stage.

3 Audience members are not sold on why they should take the next step the speaker suggests.
If you do not sell the results that people can gain by following your advice (e.g., happiness, joy, recognition, money, saving time, reducing effort or doing more with less), they will not act on it.

4 The audience is given too many steps to take.
“A confused mind says no” is an old saying. I’ve added to it: “A clear mind says go.” Giving one exact next step to take helps you connect with your audience during and after your speech. For example, in one of my speeches I ask people to visit my website, and I stay connected with them. Because I don’t give several next steps, I can use my entire speech to build the case for getting them to take that one step. That’s a powerful and clear message.

5 The audience does not feel involved.
I remember watching the movie Lean On Me decades ago and hearing the line “No involvement, no commitment.” Hearing that line has produced change in every aspect of my life. People buy into what they help create, so in speaking it pays to make them part of the speech creation. How? By asking questions. Engage your audience members in quick activities. Listen to them as you speak. Involve them in your stories. Jump on spontaneous moments. Find ways to get and keep audience members involved.

6 The audience does not feel this is the only time you have given your speech.
In other words, they don’t feel it’s fresh. Instead, they feel like it’s something you have rehashed time and time again. Perhaps it is, but your audience shouldn’t get that impression. As a speaker, it’s important to find ways to make the speech fresh for you so it will be fresh for your audience.

I use what I call the Fabric Softener Approach. When you include a fabric softener sheet while doing the laundry, it refreshes the entire load. In speaking, I rarely give a speech without trying out at least one new line or story. In doing so, that new piece becomes like the sheet of fabric softener—it actually makes the entire speech fresh for me, and that helps keep it fresh for my audience. I also dedicate every speech I give to someone somewhere so that it’s just as important every time I give it.

7 The speaker is not all there.
If you are not emotionally involved in your stories during your speech, you do not stand a chance in connecting with your audience.

8 The speaker has not done the pre-speech research necessary to meet audience members where they are. Too many speakers give what they want to say rather than what the audience needs to hear. That’s a recipe for trouble.

9 The speaker does not match the energy of the audience.
Have you ever seen a speaker come out way too energetic and loud for the laidback audience in front of him? Have you ever been that speaker? It’s not about bouncing off the walls. It’s about matching your energy to the energy of your audience members, and then moving them to where you want them to be.

10 The speaker does not tease audience members before sharing the message.
Get your audience to thirst for your message before you quench their thirst. Otherwise they won’t value what you’re saying as much, and they won’t have enough curiosity to stay connected.

11 The speaker favors a side of the room and does not look at everyone in the audience. I
have seen so many speakers turn slightly and face one side of the room for most of their speech. Each person must feel you are speaking to him or her, or you will not connect. Look at everyone throughout the entire speech.

12 The speaker does not respond (at least visually) to the audience’s reactions.
There will be many moments during your speech where audience members will react in certain ways. If you keep talking without at least visually acknowledging their reactions, you will not connect with them. Instead, it will seem as if you could give the same exact speech without your audience even being there. Speaking involves a back-and-forth flow of energy. Blocking that energy is like blocking the blood flow in a person’s body. The results are disastrous.

13 The speaker “tells us” instead of taking us back to her story.
Don’t tell a story from the past; let your audience experience your story in the present. You can do that with dialogue, expressions, reactions and involvement.

14 The speaker does not use relatable characters.
If your stories are about climbing Mount Everest and doing things your audience has never done and never wants to do, you might have a problem connecting, unless you use journey-related universal principles that can bridge that gap.

I remember speaking to a group in a nursing home early in my career and wondering, How will these older folks relate to me? The answer is they didn’t have to. I told stories about advice I received from my grandfather and they, being grandparents and great-grandparents, related to him. So they related to me indirectly through my characters.

15 The speech is a verbal autobiography that leaves audience members wondering what they should get out of it. Don’t make people work that hard. They need to know what they’ll get out of your speech from the beginning—not just at the end. The speech can’t be, “I did this and I did that and I did this other thing … and you can do it too.” That’s not audience-focused enough to connect. You need to be audience-focused from the very beginning.

16 The speaker does not come out with a bang.
Audience members realize in 30 seconds whether or not they want to hear more. Make those 30 seconds count.

17 The speaker sounds like someone else.
You must be yourself or you’ll never connect. I remember watching a speaker who had great content—but there was a problem with his delivery. He faked a Southern accent. It seemed as though he was trying to have a Zig Ziglar-type drawl. This completely destroyed his connection. Why? Because it wasn’t his way; it was Ziglar’s way. Only Zig Ziglar can be Zig Ziglar. The rest of us need to be ourselves on stage.

18 The content is not original enough.
As soon as someone starts talking about the starfish or the bricklayer, many people will think they have heard this before, and they will tune out.

19 The speaker’s stories don’t stir anything in the audience.
If a speaker’s stories are one-dimensional and flat, he will not provoke any emotion (tears and regret, happiness and joy, etc.) in the audience and, therefore, the speaker will not connect.

20 The speaker does not get the audience to reflect.
If the audience does not reflect, the speaker will not connect.

Perhaps you have been guilty of some of the above-mentioned mistakes. I know I have. This list is in no way exhaustive—there are many other reasons speakers fail to connect with their audiences.

Which ones can you think of?

To prevent these pitfalls and more join a Toastmaster’s club in your area: www.toastmasters.org or visit my club at:
Voices Of Aaron Club – Club #: 5748, Dist #: 14  Area: C33, Est: 3/9/2001
Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church
1879 Glenwood Avenue SE, Atlanta, GA, 30316
Contact: Terri Holley 404-402-6979
Meeting Time: 7:00 pm, every Thursday
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How to Warm Up a Cold Call: 5 Easy Steps by Quality Media Consultant Group LLC

In the world of business sales is king. Being able to successfully sell your products or services as well as yourself, will definitely make you a leader in the pack. On the contrary, not being able to sell will surely cost you.  A big part of sales involves the ability to generate leads. One of the oldest ways to generate new sales leads is cold calling. Some people would argue that cold calling is ancient. And others would contend that it is essential. Either way, cold calling is one of the fastest ways to generate leads and fill your sales funnel with new prospects. Of course, cold calling is purely a numbers game. But once you master the art of the cold call, you can generate new leads in no time flat.

If you’ve been wondering how to warm up a cold call, keep reading. There are a few simple ways that you can easily warm up the coldest of cold calls. Check out my five easy steps that will show you how to warm up colds calls.

1.    Do your research about the prospect. Before you call someone you do not have a relationship with, you must find out basic information about who you’re contacting as well as the company they represent. For example, if you want to call the owner of the new office supply store that just opened up, you should find out his or her name in advance. Of course a simple Internet search as well as canvassing the business website can equip you with enough information to have a general knowledge about the prospect. Make certain to pay attention to who their clients are and what services they provide for their target audience.

2.    Grab Attention Fast.  The easiest way to grab someone’s attention is to pleasantly greet them with a direct salutation and their name. Simply saying “Good morning or good afternoon Mr. Smith,” is so simple yet gets attention right away. No matter what you say when you call someone they are going to respond.  However, people typically respond in kind. If you approach someone with an energetic and friendly tone, they will more than likely respond the same way. Try to avoid gimmicky or open-ended questions or statements. If you follow- up your greeting with a statement mentioning your name, your business name and a brief introduction about the reason for your call. You may say something like this: “The reason I’m calling you today specifically is to set an appointment.”  Keep in mind, that someone who doesn’t know you may be hesitant to give you an appointment without you qualifying why you deserve a block of their time.  With that said, remember to state what it is that you’d like to discuss and how it will benefit the prospect.  To read the entire blog go: http://qualitymediaconsultants.com/2013/04/how-to-warm-up-a-cold-call-5-easy-steps/

2013 New Year’s Resolution

logoWAIT….WAIT…..GONE!    Isn’t that what has happened to your year?  It has passed so fast.  What have you been doing?  Have you been like me?  I have been in survival mode all year.  From Zumba to Visalus, I have been so busy just staying above water.  I feel like a duck………sailing smooth on top but paddling like hell underneath.  Thank God for so many options.

I want you to take a minute and reflect on 2012.  Was it in like a lamb or lion?  Or Out like a lamb or lion?

My year started out like a lion.  I shook off 40 lbs in 13 Zumba classes a week.  Of course, I had to learn a lot about eating along the way but it was all worth it.  In the middle of the year I got married.  I am now ending the year with a bang.  Going out like a lion!  I guess I don’t know how to do the “lamb” thing.  I know I love getting into shape and being back to fabulous.   I felt 20 years younger and my body was “HOT” until I went back to Corporate America and gained 10 lbs in 1 month.

Now my new year’s resolution is pretty much the same as 2012.  Share my new found love with all those who want “Fabulous.”

Diva is Doin It!  Paying It Forward To You.  Challenge yourself to be more in 2013.  There are also a lot of testimonials on  YouTube.  You gotta see it to believe it, cause it’s magic.  I don’t want to make it complicated, so I am going to let a five year old explain it.  Then come back and join me. Enjoy: http://youtu.be/QTyPPoXQARM.

Join me here: http://terriholley.myvi.net/

I am posting short updates of my weight progress here: http://youtu.be/VaLN03tESqY

And yes, Zumba is still being taught.  Get class information here (no membershp required): www.absatl.com

Quick & Dirty Pre-Tax Organizing

   For business owners and freelancers facing the new year, creating a highly detailed and excruciatingly organized system for organizing tax-related info from this year may not be the first thing on your mind. But you’d be wise to cobble together at least a simple way of collecting and storing the many bits and pieces of info you’ll need when it comes time to prepare your return to minimize the chances of hitting early April and having a total freak-out.

So if you do nothing else in the coming weeks, tackle these tasks:

Create a tax info organizing system of some sort. If most or all of your tax-related info (such as bank statements, credit card statements, receipts, and the like) is in paper form, go for file folders, an accordion file, or even a giant envelope–any container large enough to hold all of the 2011 records you’ll need. If you’ve got info stored electronically, create at least one basic folder (“2011 Taxes,” say) on your computer, and stick it on your desktop if you think you’re likely to forget about it.

Gather stuff up. Once you’ve got a place to store your tax-related info, go through your files, piles, drawers, and what-have-you to gather into it the documents you need. As new stuff arrives (think 1099s, end-of-year summaries, mysterious forms from the IRS), add it to the mix.

Deal with your receipts. Tax deductions can be a huge boon for business owners, but first you need to figure out what you actually spent on your business and what all you can deduct. (the IRS doesn’t so much want you to guesstimate, and especially not without some sort of documentation to back up said guess.) This means, yes, it’s time to deal with that wad of business expense receipts. If you work with a tax preparer, he or she can tell you the best way to sort these suckers–by month, by quarter, by expense type, etc. If you’ll be doing much (or all) of your tax prep yourself, consider sorting receipts by expense type, using the same categories you’ll use on your Schedule C. Really, really hate the prospect of having to sort and organize all those little slips of paper? Now is the perfect time to hire someone to help you through the task.

Calculate your mileage. If you’ll be taking a business-related driving deduction, save yourself some anguish and calculate your mileage now. Been using a mileage log? You have little but some

simple addition ahead of you. Been maybe a little lax in the tracking department? Use Google Maps or the like to determine the distance you’ve been traveling, and consider creating a basic spreadsheet to tally up your miles.

Figure out your 2011 business income. Finally, we turn to that little thing called income, a.k.a. the purpose of your business in the first place. The ways of determining your total 2011 business income are as varied as the ways of billing your clients and customers, so there’s not one method that will work for everyone. Whether you run a report in your bookkeeping program, do a final tally in the spreadsheet you’ve been using, or do some good old-fashioned calculator-based addition if you’ve been invoicing clients on paper, figuring out your final number now means one less things to deal with later

 A list of common deductible business expenses follows. You’ll likely have expenses that are not on this list. If they are ordinary and necessary for your business and you have the appropriate back-up materials (i.e. receipts and/or canceled checks), they are deductible:

• Advertising

• Accounting and bookkeeping fees

• Bank service charges (If you have only one bank account, these fees must be prorated between business and personal use.)

• Car and truck expenses

  • 51 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 19 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

• Computer supplies and software

• Conferences and seminars you’ve attended

• Contract labor, including subcontractors and consultants

• Credit card annual fees for cards used in your business (as with bank charges, these fees will need to be pro-rated if you use the same card for business and personal expenses.)

• Dues

• Education related to your business (but not to enter a new occupation)

• Entertainment and business meals (these are 50% deductible)

• Equipment, including computers

• Freight

• Furniture for your office or home office

• Gifts to business associates (up to $25 per person per year is deductible)

• Home office expenses (To qualify for the deduction, you must have a space that’s used regularly and exclusively for your business)

• Insurance (liability, malpractice, etc. but not disability.)

• Interest on business credit cards and loans (like bank charges, these fees may need to be pro-rated)

• Legal and professional fees, including costs for preparing the business portion of your tax return

• Licenses and fees

• Magazines and books that you need for your business

• Maintenance and repairs on equipment and office/store space

• Office supplies

• Online fees (these need to be pro-rated between business and personal use)

• Payroll taxes paid on behalf of your employees (not the portion withheld from their paychecks)

• Postage

• Printing and copying

• Rent of equipment or store/office space

• Small furnishings and equipment

• Small tools

• Telephone (You can deduct long distance business calls made from home even if you don’t qualify for an office-in-home. Monthly service charges on a home phone are deductible only if you have more than one phone line.)

• Travel

• Uniforms or special work clothing (e.g. steel toed boots or coveralls)

• Utilities

• Wages paid to employees

© Jan Zobel 2010

Jan Zobel is a Bay Area tax professional (enrolled agent) who specializes in working with self-employed people. She is the author of Minding Her Own Business: the Self-Employed Woman’s Guide to Taxes and Recordkeeping.

Turn Your Business Into A Book by Maryann Reid

People will invest in betterment, and success is among the most attractive factors that a business can possess.

When your business has reached that highly-anticipated stage where you transcend management into industry mastery, you should consider it your next step to turn that success into a book for others to learn from. You’re good. You’re smart. You have a system in place. But how do you attract an audience?

The answer lays in how fads — or memes — catch on like fire in dry brush these days. I often advise my clients to play into this as best as they’re able. Consider the following examples:

* The 17 Day Diet
* Think and Grow Rich
* The 4-Hour Workweek
* The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

What do they have in common? They don’t leave much guesswork to the audience. You know immediately what they’re about. They’re also catch-phrases that tickle curiosity and carry well through word of mouth, which are central components of strong memes.

The key to creating a catch-phrase is to be creative in how you communicate. Make it easy for your readers to remember your message, then make it easy for them to spread it to others. The catchier your title is, the more likely it will burn the barriers between your business’ present place in the market and that industry-leading position you crave.

When you take the essence of your business and turn it into an incentive for change, you will create a strong public presence for yourself. And if you can capitalize on creative approaches and clever terminology, then people won’t simply want to follow, they’ll encourage others to try it out for themselves. Such support is invaluable, and you can only attain it by redefining your message and turning it into a book.

What Your Handshake Says About You

It is said handshakes are exchanged more the currency. It takes only five seconds to make an impression, so why not make it right! Your handshake speaks volumes – it may say, “I’m standoffish,” “I’m overbearing,” “I’m insecure,” or “I’m confident and glad to meet you.” The handshake that is confident and positive is one that is a web-to-web shake. In other words, the web between your thumb and index finger should touch the other person’s web. It should not be a fingertip handshake or a limp handshake. It should be firm but not bone crushing. Send the professional impression from the start by following these simple steps to a great handshake.

by Christine Chen, Founder, Global Professional Protocol

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