Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blog moved

I moved my blog to Wordpress,

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great Questions

Think back to the last presentation you took in. At some point the presenter said, "that's a great question" and, maybe, they flashed a quick smile that showed all of their upper teeth.

How much did you believe the presenter at that moment?

I hazard not very much.

"That's a great question" is auto-pilot language for presenters. That phrase is a placeholder, which was originally taught to presenters to help them engage with their audience. Now, it's the aural equivalent of eating sugar packets.

Next time a question comes your way in a presentation try, "thank you for asking that" or "I plan to address that in a few slides, may I answer your question then?"

You'll be more believable to your audience because you're engaging them as intelligent individuals.

Let's leave "great" questions to those that generate an "I don't know" response. What do you think?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Book Review - Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom, latest from Gregg Easterbrook reads like a really long, unfunny episode of American Dad.

Easterbrook's writing always has lots of "yay US" rhetoric that conveniently ignores any issues the US might be facing, some of which are covered in this SNL sketch.

I agree with Easterbrook's points on increasing teaching of economics and current cultures, as opposed to history, in high school and college. Those nuggets of information came near the end of Sonic Boom, well after I had checked out.

Like Omnivore's Dilemma, Sonic Boom would have been a really good essay in the New Yorker.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Your pitches will fail. Most of them, in fact.

Years ago, I participated in a sales training program during which I was told, I would need to hear 7 "no"s before I heard 1 "yes".

That's 1/8 successful pitches! 12.5%! Decent return on an investment portfolio, not so much as a batting average.

So you'll fail. When you do, figure out how your pitch could've been better, think "NEXT" and move on to your next pitch.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Book Review - Trust Agents

Just finished, Trust Agents by Julien Smith and Chris Brogan. Of the books centred around social media I read recently, like Here Comes Everybody and Wikinomics, Trust Agents is by far the most balanced.

Reading Trust Agents reminded me of the axiom from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, "be excellent to each other."

Trust Agents is less about social media than using social media as a lever (a theme repeated several times in the book) to enhance the trust a specific community (vegans, music critics, mommy bloggers, etc.) has for a particular individual, which correlates to an individuals potential to leverage trust into a business opportunity.

I found it odd that near the beginning of the book, Smith and Brogan caution against attempting to build massive numbers of "friends," "followers" or "connections" then later in the book advise that all non-spam friend/follower/connection requests should be accepted.

That is a nitpick, though in a book that is well paced, provides simple guidance on earning trust and, at the end, addresses potential critics with counter arguments. The latter was my favourite portion of Trust Agents.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's in it for me?

That's what your audience wants to know - quickly.

Depending on which source you read, you have between 10 and 60 seconds to convince your audience that they should spend more time listening to you.

10 seconds seems too little time, right? To experience how long 10 seconds is, set a timer for 10 seconds or have someone count off 10 seconds on a stopwatch while you sit quietly. 10 seconds is an eternity of spoken words.

Break your pitch into short segments, each ending with a reason why your idea will save your audience time or money (aka a "benefit statement").

If your pitch lacks benefit statements, shorten your presentation. Your audience will appreciate a concise, relevant pitch.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Do you have a Library idea or a Bookstore idea?

Bookstore ideas stand up over time, are typically high level (like, "The Tipping Point") and might change the way your audience thinks. Bookstore ideas are akin to purchasing a book from a bookstore because you plan to reference the idea occasionally, like the ideas in The Tipping Point.

Library ideas evolve, impart specific knowledge and are typically tactical (like, "Survival is Not Enough"). Library ideas are akin to taking a book out of the library to learn a specific bit of information, like a new method for making bread. There's no need to buy the book because you'll remember what you need after the book is returned to your library.

To come up with one bookstore idea, you'll come up with some library ideas and, as Seth Godin says, a lot of bad ideas.

How does your idea generator work?