Presenting With Gusto

Last week I gave a presentation, for a distribution company, to about 35 of its dealer-customers. There was a limited amount of time so we compressed entirely too much material into a 75 minute presentation (a normal problem I seem to have). When the presentation was over, a number of the attendees complimented me on my enthusiasm and how passionate I seemed to be about the subjects covered. It made me remember a key to giving any presentation is the GUSTO with which it is delivered.

GUSTO is more than enthusiasm though…GUSTO, in my mind, also stands for: Genuine, Unconventional, Specific, Timely and Orchestrated. It is a set of ground rules I try to live by whenever I have to make a presentation to a group.

“Genuine” only works when you have a really good understanding of the audience. I try to learn as much about my audience as possible in advance (average age, experiences, personalities, are they business owners or sales persons, etc.). Then, if I can “put myself in their shoes” and approach the subject matter from a position that I know they understand and appreciate my communication and connection is much stronger. It seems much more genuine to them if the subject is approached from their perspective and with their goals in mind. Whenever possible, I try to use real-life examples to show relevance.

“Unconventional” is about doing something unexpected and unusual in the opening of the presentation, something that delivers the “hook” and immediately wows the audience or has them waiting to see what comes next. In this particular case, I was following a series of technical speakers, all of whom had important information that the audience had asked for but all of them were a bit bland and boring. I am sure that I was expected to open (like all of the other speakers” with, “hello, my name is …” but I had quickly arranged a set of stereo speakers and opened with a 95 second video accompanied by powerful and up-tempo music. The video was very unusual and definitely focused on creativity and unique, remarkable and contemporary change in the world around us. It also showed contrasts through a series of powerful “old VS new” images and suggested to the audience that it was time to develop some “new” in their processes and proposals to consumers. When the video was finished, and my Power Point presentation began, the first slide was proposing an answer to the last question in the video, “Are you ready?” The first slide said, “Let’s Get Ready!”

“Specific” is what happened next. I immediately walked into the audience and began asking questions of individual attendees. The questions were making sure that all of the audience were drawn into the presentation and had become a part of it. I was also making sure we had established a common ground and were all beginning this conversation from the same place. Because one of the video focuses had been on “old VS new”, the initial targets of questions were folks who appeared to have been in the industry for awhile. So the questions were about remembering where the industry had come from and how things had changed in the past. We were finding some common ground so that we all realized that just as there had been a lot of changes in the past we now needed to change again to accommodate a whole new group of consumers. We were getting ourselves into a mind set with reference to three areas of change needed for the future, changes in the approach to new business, changes in the process of acquiring new business and changes to the product to accommodate the needs of a new generation of buyers. Getting the audience to participate is critical when we remember one of the tenets of education; adults retain a very small portion of what they “hear”, a slightly larger portion of what they “see” but 90% of what they “do”. Now they were all involved.

“Timely” in this case, was about making sure the audience could see the need for a new and contemporary way of doing business. “Timely” was about presenting statistics and examples to show a new generation of consumers (in their industry) were much more sophisticated in their methods of learning and information-gathering then previous generations. Sometimes the audience needs to be shown that change is necessary and that perhaps the consumer has passed us by. I never shared any of my own qualifications until this time in my presentation.

“Orchestrated” is about making sure that everything goes smoothly and all the elements of my presentation blend with each other. It all has to look really “easy and smooth” to be effective. Some of this is common sense. I always come in early (the day before, in last week’s case) to check the venue and make sure my equipment is compatible with the AV equipment I am using. I make sure the seating arrangement works for my presentation. I make sure that if I have handouts, they will be striking, colorful and professional-looking. Does the hand-out tie to the slide presentation in look, color and feel? If I am going to ask the group to participate in an exercise (I try to do this as much as possible) I make sure they have pens or pencils and everything they need to be participants. And very much, I rehearse, rehearse and rehearse…to make sure I can make all of my points in the time I have allotted to me.

Making a successful presentation that really creates change is about a lot more than being a dynamic and powerful speaker it is about doing a presentation with GUSTO.

The Perfect Birthday Present for that Little Girl (No Batteries Required)

The Dilemma

As a mom of a five-year-old girl, I have attended countless birthday parties in the past few years. With each event, comes the inevitable trip to the toy store to find an appropriate gift for the child of honor. I began to dread the gift-buying process. Toys had either too many pieces, were too sophisticated, were too popular and bound to be duplicates, were too expensive, or just not cool enough (according to my resident expert). The toys my daughter received last year were played with once or twice and piled up in the closet along with the rest of the colorful plastic presents of the past.

The Answer: Dress-up Costumes!

With no small piece to be choking hazards, no instructions to read, no set up necessary, no batteries required and plenty of variety from which to choose, I had come up with a unique and perfect Birthday Present.

Every little girl dreams of being a princess and every little girl love to dress up in beautiful silky dresses, wear crowns, wave magic wands and dance around the house. But, dress-up costumes are not limited to princesses alone. With so many costumes to choose from, there is something special and unique for each child.

How To Pick The Right Costume

I have given many costumes as gifts and have found that you can’t go wrong giving a little girl a Barbie costume. However, here are some tips to make the perfect selection:

* Find out what TV shows the child likes to watch. Often, costumes of the main characters are available.

* Does the child have a favorite movie? There are numerous licensed movie costumes available.

* Be sure to buy an ‘Official Licensed Costume’ if available. This will help ensure that the child will be able to recognize the costume, as it will be made according to licensing specifications.

* Check the size and buy the right one. Nothing is more disappointing than receiving a costume and it not fitting. Make sure you buy the right size. If you are not sure, buy the larger size.

3 Essential Rules For Successful Negotiating

Do you realize that we engage in some form or negotiation every day of our lives? Surprised? Think about it! Did you have to convince your kids to do their home work last night and get ready for school this morning? Did you discuss with your spouse who was going to make dinner tonight? Did you set completion goals for a new project at work? Did you talk with a disgruntled customer or employee today? How did it go? Did you achieve the results you desired?

These are all examples where a learned process of positive negotiation would be helpful. I was surprised the first time this was pointed out to me. I always thought of negotiation as a formal affair between high-powered professionals beating each other up to get what they wanted. That is a misconception held by many people. Every aspect of your life can be simplified just by understanding and implementing the essential elements of negotiation.

Here you will learn some of the essential negotiation elements to use when you are faced with situations that could become difficult if they’re not handled correctly.

1. Communicate Clearly

This is the most important element on the list. Your communication is the primary tool you have to express your thoughts, opinions and desires. If you don’t communicate effectively you will lose a critical advantage in your negotiations.

Also remember that speech is not the only form of communication. Your actions and body language, although silent, speak volumes. Make sure you are aware of how you are perceived by someone watching you. Your silent communications may be sending out a message entirely different from your intentions. A good way to identify this is to video tape yourself while speaking or during a meeting. You can also watch yourself in a mirror as you practice discussing the issues at hand.

2. Know your goals

Just like any project you start, it is important to know what your intended outcome or goals are at the end. Take some time before negotiating and decide what you want to achieve at the end of the negotiation. Additionally, think about what you are willing to give up to reach those goals. It is important to know your bottom line before the negotiation begins.

As you are making these decisions, remember your goals must be realistic. Stand in the other party’s shoes and think about whether your goals or requirements are something you could live with. If not, you must reassess your goals to be in line with what is realistic for you to achieve any success in your negotiation.

3. Treat everyone involved with respect.

Being the bully during a negotiation will not gain you any points. As soon as you start attacking the other parties, their defenses will go up and your chances of successful communication have been dashed. Instead, treat everyone involved with respect when addressing them, listen to what they are saying and take their situation into consideration.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should cave when someone doesn’t agree with you. It simply means that the goal is for everyone involved to act in a civilized and productive manner. Stand your ground, but do so without antagonizing the other parties involved. Now that you have read these rules, take some time to consider your past negotiations. Have you been breaking any of these rules? How can you make changes to your current negotiation style to improve your results?

To your success,

Swanie Brandt