Presentations


You may have seen ukulele phenom Jake Shhimabukuro’s YouTube video, shot in NYC’s Central Park, of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which has more than 11 million (!) views.

You might also have seen Jake’s TED video where he performs a masterful version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” all on four strings…:-)

I’m here speaking in Waikiki and chanced upon an excellent PBS-Hawaii documentary last night about Jake, a virtuoso who has “hit it big,” yet remains grounded in his values.

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

A favorite segment of the PBS special was when Jake played his ukulele in Sendai, Japan (ravaged by the 2011 tsunami), at a senior care center.

The expressions on these people’s faces, their tapping along with Jake’s strumming, was particularly poignant and profound.

Perhaps most powerful was Jake’s statement, “My goal when I play is to connect with my audience, to play music that moves them.”

Kudos to Jake. His goal deserves to be our goal as speakers and writers.

The goal of speaking is not to get a standing ovation. It is not to get a perfect 10 on our evaluations or to generate lots of “back of the room” sales.

The goal of writing is not to have a book that serves as a business card (gak). It is not to have a bestseller or to have “product” that drives our career.

Those are nice; those are welcomed; they’re just not the primary reason we speak and write.

The goal of speaking and writing is to connect with our audience members and readers; to share ideas, insights and stories that move them to feel something, to rethink something, to do something differently.

A participant came up after my presentation on Friday and said, “You just radiate joy. What is your secret?”

First, I thanked him and then told him, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak for a living.

To stay centered in my goal of genuinely connecting with participants and sharing something that puts the light on in their eyes; I repeat the following mantra to myself in the minutes before a presentation.

I am here to serve; not to show off.

I am here to inspire; not to impress.

I am here to make a difference; not to make a name.

Then, I start every presentation with Arthur Rubenstein’s quote … “I have found if you love life; life will love you back.”

I have found that if I center myself in that mantra and start off with Rubenstein’s quote, it grounds me in how much I love speaking.

And when we love what we do, people often love being around us and want to be part of it.

Any nervousness or self-consciousness disappears.

What takes its place is a sublime stream-of-consciousness where we’re swept up in an exquisite state of flow in which we’re one with our audience.

What mantra do you use to ground yourself in your clarity that the purpose of your speaking is to serve, not to show off; to inspire, not to impress; to make a difference, not to make a name?

When writing, I picture someone specific across the desk from me and write to that person. It could be one of my sons, a client or a friend, someone who could benefit from what I’m trying to get across.

It transforms writing from being an intellectual exercise, a brain dump of “What do I want to say?” to “What would put the light on in this person’s eyes?”

When I mentally reach out to a specific person, when my purpose is to write something that would resonate with them; the words flow out so fast my fingers can hardly keep up.

How about you?

Who are you going to speak to – write to?

How are you going to keep them top-of-mind by focusing on how you can reach them, resonate with them?

How are you going to center yourself in your intent to connect; which is the real reason we communicate?

Always has been. Always will be.

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“Remember, you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.” – Andy Rooney

Hmmm …

Well, if Andy was right, we better take responsibility for making ourselves more interesting so people want to hear what we have to say.

I host a monthly That’s Intriguing Interview Series that features guest experts from around the world (i.e., Betsy Myers who was COO of Obama’s grassroots presidential campaign and Michael Gelb, International Brain of the Year and author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci).

People often tell me our tele-seminars are the ONLY ones they listen to from start to finish.

Several clients asked me to “share my secret;” so here’s the document we send our guest experts to prep them to be so intriguing … listeners are on the edge of their seats, eager to hear what’s next.

You’re welcome to use these guidelines when you are the one being interviewed or when you’re the one hosting the intervivew/panel.

These suggestions help everyone hold themselves accountable for sharing real-life insights and examples that get people’s eyebrows up and motivate them to want to hear more.

Hello ­­­­­­­­­­­­­______________________:

Thanks for agreeing to be a guest expert for our That’s Intriguing Interview Series on _________, 2012.

We are looking forward to you sharing your back-story and best-practice tips with our audience.

We feel a real obligation to live up to our name – so here are some guidelines that can help us produce an engaging, insightful, productive interview that adds value for all involved.

1. Our tele-seminar starts promptly at 8 pm ET (5 pm West Coast Time).

5 minutes before our call … at 7:55 pm ET …please call our bridge line _____. Then enter our code ____.

2. We put everyone on the call (except YOU) on mute and don’t take questions during the call so background noise doesn’t undermine the quality of our recording.

We do invite people to submit questions in advance. I may give a shout out to several people on the call to add variety to our interview. For example, “Lisa from St. Louis has asked . . .”

3. Our goal is to make this interview as unpredictable as possible. Some guidelines to help make that happen are:

* Please keep answers short – 2 minutes or less.

If you have a long explanationto give, it’s better to break it up with a question back to me, such as,”There’s more to that story. Do you want to hear it, or is it time for us to move on?”

* Give a real-life example to illustrate each point which makes information infinitely more intriguing.

When making a point, you might want to use the 2 magic words, “For example …” and then verbally re-live the scene where this happened to SHOW us what you mean so we’re seeing what you’re saying.

* Humor is always wonderful and welcome.

If you have amusing, laugh-out-loud anecdotes or quotes to share that are “on topic,” by all means, share them. As you know, relevant humor makes this more fun and enjoyable for everyone involved.

* Victor Hugo said,”The secret to being a bore is to tell everything.”

Please cherry-pick the MOST surprising or startling things that have happened along the way. We don’t need soup-to-nuts explanations of all your lessons-learned. It’s far more interesting for you to focus on the ONE INSIGHT that was most pivotal, most transformative so we can hear a “best of the best” of your expertise or experience.

* This is not about self-promotion.

In the last 5 minutes, we focus on an exciting project you’ve got coming up you’d like listeners to know about. This could be a new book, public event, coaching series, conference, startup, product launch, etc.

You are welcome to describe this and give your website, blog or social media contacts so listeners can find more information, register, buy a product or service, support your cause, hire you, etc.

4. You are welcome to send questions in advance you’d like to be asked. WE love receiving questions that helps us showcase your work or this topic in a way that does it justice and reveals behind-the-scenes, recent, “wouldn’t have known that” insights.

5. I normally ask questions in a chronological sequence – starting with your early career and taking listeners through the evolutionary unfolding of your work – the epiphanies you’ve had along the way and the insights you’d like to pass along.

Remember what Elmore Leonard said when asked why his books are bestsellers, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”

Ask yourself, “Is this obvious? A cliche or common sense? Do people already know it?” If so, SKIP IT.

6. Our audience is usually an eclectic mix of executives, entrepreneurs, speakers, authors, non-profit leaders, consultants and creative professionals from around the country. We may have up to 100 people on the LIVE call; hundreds or thousands may listen to the recording in the years ahead.

7. We market your interview to our database of 15,000+ through our newsletter, on our website calendar and to our extensive online network via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

You are welcome to promote this to your tribe and invite people who would enjoy and benefit from your expertise and experiences. You are welcome to get the description of your program and registration links from our website calendar at http://www.samhorn.com/speaking/calendar/index.html

8. We will record the interview -and send you the MP3 within 3 days of the tele-seminar.

As part of our agreement, you are welcome to use that however you’d like – whether that’s selling it as a CD or MP3, excerpting it in podcasts on your website, or using as an audio demo for media.

We are so glad you carved time out of your busy schedule to be on our That’s Intriguing Interview Series.

We look forward to a win-win, rock and roll interview that showcases your contributions and delivers real-life recommendations people can use immediately. We know everyone will appreciate your fascinating examples of how you’ve built a SerenDestiny career where the light is on in your eyes and you’re doing meaningful legacy work that is serving all involved.

These guidelines on “How to Give a Great Interview” are from Sam Horn, author of POP! and the upcoming Eyebrow Test and SerenDestiny. The founder of The Intrigue Agency, Sam and her team celebrate intriguing ideas, individuals, events and organizations … and help clients create more compelling communications.  Her work has been featured on NPR, MSNBC, BusinessWeek.com, New York Times. www.IntriguingAgency.com

People today don’t want more how-to’s.

They want more human experience.

They can find anything they want to know in seconds for free on the web.

They don’t need more information; they need epiphanies.

They aren’t hungry for how-to’s; they’re hungry for heartfelt insights.

I was talking about this with my colleague Matt Leedham, co-founder (with Jaime Willis) of Velocity Consulting and a Director for Entrepreneurs Organization.

Matt just wrote a really honest blog about his “meltdown” while competing in the Luray Sprint Triathlon.

Matt leedham completes the Austin Marathon under 4 hours

Austin Marathon under 4 hours


Matt’s a jock. He told me it wasn’t easy to talk about the unexpected challenges he had during the swim portion of the race. He had walked up to the starting line with confidence, feeling on top of the world. Things didn’t turn out quite the way he planned.

However, in our conversation, Matt and I shared our mutual discovery that when we “dare to share” what REALLY happened – as opposed to what we wish happened – we get visceral responses from our readers, audiences and clients.

It’s like they’re saying, “Finally, someone with the courage to tell the truth.”

Telling the truth often means taking ourselves off a pedestal we may have put ourselves up on.

But pedestals are precarious.

We really don’t serve people when we pretend to be perfect.

In today’s world, we serve ourselves and others when we speak from our heart (not just our head); when we tell it like it is – not like we wish it was.

Go a sentence deeper

Go a sentence deeper

I just had an ultimate compliment from a consulting client.

We’ve been working on his book and he said, “You’re my muse. You always encourage me to go a sentence deeper.”

What he meant by that is that we often gloss over an idea or experience.

When we stay on the surface, people read or hear what we said and move on.

That means it had no enduring impact.

If we want an idea or experience to truly reach our listeners/readers and resonate with them on a visceral/emotional level, we must “go a sentence deeper.”

For example:

How did you FEEL about what happened?

What did you SAY to yourself or others when this happened?

What were the exact words of what they said in response?

How did that impact you, exactly?

Put us there in the scene so we see and feel it right along with you.

Now you are creating interactive communication about the human experience that transcends the page and stage.

What you have written or said just made time and distance a non-issue because we are experiencing what you experienced as if we were “there.”

What are you writing right now? What presentation are you preparing? Go back over it. Did you stay on the surface?

If so, go back and go a sentence deeper.

Everyone will benefit – including you.

“My job is to talk; your job is to listen. If you finish first, please let me know.” – Harry Herschfield

I’ll never forget it.

This was a national conference featuring the big gun keynoters.

Seth Godin. Tom Peters. Jim Collins. Tim Ferris.

They were all there.

Everyone was on the edge of their seats, listening to every word.

Then, a female CEO of a BILLION dollar company was introduced as the next speaker.

She walked to the center of the stage and stood with her feet together and her hands crossed in the . . . Fig Leaf Position.

Mistake #1.

Standing with your feet together keeps you off-balance and makes you look like you’re teetering and going to fall at any second.

Holding your hands in the Fig leaf Position is a defensive posture that makes you look like you have something to hide.

It pulls your shoulders down and collapses them together which creates a Cower stance that makes you look submissive.

Then, she said softly, in a querulous voice, “I’m so happy to be here today. I was telling my grand-daughter . . .”

Mistake #2.

Whether it’s fair or not, people judge our leadership by the volume and tone of our voice.

A meek voice sends the message you have trouble speaking up for yourself.

A soft voice signals you don’t believe you deserve to be heard.

Those are red flags to anyone deciding whether to hire you, promote you or fund you.

Plus, ending your sentences with upward inflection and speaking in a sing-songy “Valley-Girl” voice makes you seem unsure, hesitant, like you’re seeking approval.

Unfortunately for this CEO (and for the audience because she’s a brilliant leader who is respected by her thousands of employees), the laptops and smart-phones came out within minutes. They had concluded she wasn’t worth listening to.

If you’re speaking to a group of sophisticated entrepreneurs and executives, what can you do differently in the first couple minutes to prove you’re worth their valuable time and mind?

Tip 1. Lose the “I hope you like me” Little Girl Voice.

A coquettish voice will undermine the perception you have the clout to lead a company and carry off a multi-million dollar venture.

Instead, do what TV broadcasters are taught to do their first day on the job.

End your sentences with downward inflection to project a voice of authority.

Try it right now.

Imagine you’re pitching to venture capitalists and they’ve asked, “How much money are you seeking?”

Say, “$500,000” with upward inflection at the end.

Hear how it sounds tentative? Like you tossing it out there and HOPING they say yes?

Now say, “$500,000” with downward inflection at the end.

Hear how it comes across with more certainty? Like this is a justifiable figure you deserve to get?

When presenting, don’t use a conversational tone. It’s too casual.

PROJECT your voice so every single person in the room can hear every single word.

Never, ever force an audience member to have to ask, “Could you please speak up? I can’t hear you.”

The truth is, if people have a hard time hearing you, they often just give up and tune out – or start checking their email.

Don’t risk getting tuned out.

Speak out – loud and clear – and with downward inflection (like your favorite current network news anchor) so you convince people you know what you’re talking about.

Tip 2.

When you get to the center of the stage, plant your feet shoulder width apart and bend your knees slightly so you feel and appear grounded.

This atletic stance helps you feel in your body (vs. in your head).

This more-balanced stance helps you stay “rooted” in one spot so you’re less likely to rock or pace.

Nervous movement patterns distract from your credibility because they give the impression you’re flighty and can’t or won’t hold your ground.

Now, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re holdihg a baskeball. This Basketball Position helps you straighten up and stand tall.

Now, pull your shoulders back and hold your head high.

Aaahh . . .that’s better. Feel how this Tower stance makes you look and feel more confident? It gives you the look of a leader.

As discussed in the previous 3 blogs, if you want decision-makers to CARE, you’ve got to show F.L.A.I.R.

Today’s post was about I = INFLECTION and being IN YOUR BODY.

Check out my previous posts to discover how you can strategically kick-off presentations so everyone in the room is motivated to listen up.