• HOW TO USE STORYTELLING FOR BUSINESS AND WHY IT MATTERS

    Date: 2010.09.01 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0


    September 1st, 2010

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Every great speaker is a great storyteller.  Why? Because the audience can retain information BETTER when people can emotionally and viscerally connect to what’s being said. If you think back to childhood, stories were – for many of us – an introduction to life ‘s lessons, to human behavior, morals, ethics and right versus wrong. And we remember still the value of those stories and what they taught us, not to mention the vivid imagery they conjure up.

    The use of storytelling in business is growing and for good reason. As the necessity of communicating the value and benefit of what you do to the world increases, the skill with which you articulate that requires some imagination and uniqueness in order to capture the audience’s attention… and keep it. By activating the imagination of the audience through stories, you, as the speaker, engage the audience to participate in an experience that is both captivating and informative. It’s a perfect way to connect to the content of your message. The emotional thread of a story is a direct line to the brain for memory retention and the processing of information. In a sense, you are providing an effortless way to learn using a technique that has been instilled in us since childhood.

    Here are some great ways to weave a story into your speech or interview:

    • Be brief. A story should have a strong beginning, a colorful, clear middle and a great ending. And if the story is within a speech, make it 6-8 sentences. You dissipate the impact of a story if it rambles on too long or is too repetitive. Choose your words wisely and make them count!
    • Paint a picture of a great central character and take us to a different time and place. Set it up well and describe it with a few, choice descriptors. Add a bit of dialogue in the character’s vernacular. It will make the character come to life.
    • Know WHY you are telling this story. What is the point of your story and how, very specifically, does it tie into your talking points. Make sure you have the connector! And weave it in seamlessly.
    • Use some dynamic and inflection in your voice when you tell a story. Incorporate some pacing – don’t rush. Be a little theatrical (little being the operative word) and let us relish the tale.

    And remember your story is NOT your bio. Put that in a document. Your story, any story you choose to use in your business communication should be told with humanity and wisdom, a bit of flair and with a take-away for your audience.

    Wendy Scharfman is a professional speaker, communication coach and trainer. She is the founder of Coaching for Effective Communication, a business she created to help her clients become dynamic, confident speakers who can inspire action by delivering a message that matters. Wendy specializes in Leadership Training and Team Building, Public Speaking Competencies, Message Refinement and Media Training.

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  • GROW YOUR BUSINESS OR PROMOTE YOUR BOOK THROUGH SPEAKING

    Date: 2010.08.18 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    August 18th, 2010

    This week I want to focus on the ever-increasing necessity for professionals and authors to grow their business through speaking in public.

    I had a radio interview with Bill Frank last week for KKZZ talk radio in Ventura, CA http://dld.bz/rq2K and one of the things we discussed was the importance of honing your speaking skills for whatever message or product

    you are providing. If you are not the BEST representative of what you do, the world will not embrace and engage with what you have to offer. It’s seemingly obvious, but often not the case. Taking the time to work with a coach, trainer or even a partner on refining your message for any speech or material you put out there will come back to you tenfold. And then, get some help getting out on the trail.

    Susan Levin, owner and founder of Speaker Services put this notion to work. I came across Susan several times as I was building my business and I believe “Attention must be paid” to the seeming coincidence of someone repeatedly appearing in your life. She offers great services, training and a wealth of information for people who want to market themselves as speakers.

    Susan, can you briefly tell me what led you to start your business and how has it changed since its inception?

    In 1992 I was inspired to work with business folks and give them the opportunity to market themselves as speakers.  We began with a print directory in Los Angeles, which was mailed to event producers, meeting planners and was distributed on newsstands around town.  In 1994 the Internet came to life and I was one of the first 1500 people to have a url and a website.  We continued with the print till 1998 and then went full boar on the web as many more people were using it as a resource. The web took Speaker Services from being a local business to worldwide – we have clients all over the country and in Europe as well.  With the influx of social media, it has become very easy to connect with more people and grow my business. Connection is the key. It spans from a 30 second introduction, 10 minute talk to a keynote presentation, to blogging, lead generation, social media, creating videos, job interviews and workshops.  The whole enchilada.  I love connectivity!

    What do you think are the most important factors in becoming a better speaker?

    • Don’t be a speaker, be an expert who speaks.
    • Be passionate about your subject matter.  When you are on fire, others catch on fire.
    • Know your target audience.
    • Get a presentation, media and branding coach.
    • Make sure you have The 3 C’s or the Holy Triad in your presentation Connection, Content and Comfort
    • Be a great storyteller and get the audience involved.
    • Create videos so that event planners can see you in action.

    How does social media come into play in terms of the services you provide and promoting your own business?

    Social Media is awesome.  I promote my services and speakers via social media and teach them too how to join groups so that they can begin to create joint ventures, visibility and credibility. I prefer social media to networking meetings in person.  Once you find your tribe it is totally acceptable to arrange a meeting to learn more about how you can support one another. Wendy, you and I met via social media and started a conversation and here I am writing a post for your blog!

    Talk a bit about the various classes and teleseminars Speaker Services offers.

    • I teach a workshop in Los Angeles called Market Yourself as a Speaker, which is about the business of speaking. I also work with folks privately. http://www.speakerservices.com/services/marketyourself.html
    • Barbara Niven and I teach Web Video & Marketing Workshop, YOU ON CAMERA http://www.speakerservices.com/web-video-workshop.html
    • Once a year we offer a Video Demo Showcase & Authors Video http://www.speakerservices.com/videoprod.html
    • I have been offering teleclasses way before they were even popular.
    • We have a membership club The Speakers’ Community where I interview experts twice a month on speaking, marketing, books, social media and more.  http://www.speakerscommunity.com .  It is an online library and it is 60 days complimentary.

    If you were starting out as a professional speaker, what would be the most important sequence of actions that you would take to succeed?

    • Get a coach
    • Get focused
    • Speak for Free
    • Attend events, listen to teleclasses, join speaker groups or start your own on Facebook, LinkedIn
    • Learn the business of speaking and get all your marketing materials together including video
    • Build a following; stay out in front of your peeps via regular e-mails and social media

    What transformation do you see in your class participants after they have completed the training for their speaking videos?

    They jump to the next level of professionalism, begin to get paid for speaking and they are more visible.

    Wendy Scharfman is a professional speaker, communication coach and trainer. She is the founder of Coaching for Effective Communication, a business she created to help her clients become dynamic, confident speakers who can inspire action by delivering a message that matters. Wendy specializes in Leadership Training and Team Building, Public Speaking Competencies, Message Refinement and Media Training.

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  • HOW TO ACE YOUR JOB INTERVIEW

    Date: 2010.08.04 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    August 4th, 2010

    Congratulations. You GOT a job interview. In this day and age, pat yourself on the back. Now what?  It’s not just about getting in the door. You have some homework to do and some know-how to muster.  Make no mistake, being specifically and fully prepared for an interview ups the ante for your getting the job. The more you know about the position AND the organization for which you’re interviewing, the more confident and informed you’ll be. And whether it’s the recruiter, HR, or the manager – you need to establish an individual rapport with each of them and show what you can bring to the job.

    Here are some useful suggestions for being super-prepared and on your toes:

    • Believe in yourself.  You got this far for a reason. Because they are genuinely interested in you. And guess what? When you walk in the room, they WANT you to be the right person for the job. It’s not an adversarial situation. Knowing this should also help with your nerves. Breathe (inhale and exhale). And be able to articulate what is your value, your talent and your skill as it relates to THIS position.  If you don’t know, don’t expect them to.
    • Create a relationship and have a dialogue. Take the time to get to know who is interviewing you.  Be aware of their body language and “mirror” that level of openness. Bring some enthusiasm into the room and find some common interest in the person on the other side of the table.  Have a real conversation. Tell a story and/or an anecdote about you that relates to the situation – make it personal but relate it to your professional desirability and skills. Have an arsenal of what you can bring to them at your fingertips as well as a genuine investment in them. And a little charm never hurts. People like to be charmed, if it’s sincere.
    • Be prepared and punctual. Of course. Be on time with a little to spare. Don’t come rushing in at the last minute. That just feeds the nerves monster. Create your list of what they might ask you and then practice until you’re comfortable with your responses (bullet points in order of importance are useful). In addition, generate the list of what you genuinely want to know of them. Impress them with the fact that you did your homework not only about the organization, but the position, as well. And reinforce how you are a match and an asset. When you ask your questions of your interviewer, LISTEN to the answer. Remember, dialogue and conversation help to form a more memorable relationship. If you don’t know something, be honest and say you don’t without losing your cool. Trust that you are enough.

    Enjoy your new job!

    Wendy Scharfman is a professional speaker, communication coach and trainer. She is the founder of Coaching for Effective Communication, a business she created to help her clients become dynamic, confident speakers who can inspire action by delivering a message that matters. Wendy specializes in Leadership Training and Team Building, Public Speaking Competencies, Message Refinement and Media Training.

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  • 7 BEST TIPS FOR SPEAKING IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA

    Date: 2010.07.21 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 9

    Video is everywhere. YouTube, websites, training and product videos, corporate and marketing videos, media interviews… the list goes on. How do we get ready for our close-up?   Video now gives us the ability to reach vast numbers of people in unprecedented ways. As in any public speaking event, you want to capitalize on the opportunity to communicate your thoughts and ideas with “savoir-faire” – to say it like you mean it all in a sound bite, with confidence, grace, a little panache and some universal humor thrown in for good measure – ALL THIS, without tripping over your tongue, losing your train of thought, or looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

    Piece of cake? Not exactly. When done well, we make it look so facile and relaxed. But haven’t we all seen those stiff, wincingly uncomfortable, monotone excuses for a video product? Here are some necessary tips for making your video stand out that will place you rightfully in the spotlight.

    • PREPARE your message. What is it you really want to say for this particular video? Narrow it down to no more than 3 points and be sure you know which is the most important. Imagine it as a newspaper headline – short, sweet and precisely to the point. And memorize these three points. Practice repeating them using some examples and supportive phrases.  Soon you’ll find your script is pretty much written. If this is for an interview, now you’ve got your talking points. Ingrain them in your brain.

    • Focus. Literally.  As in where you look. Remember THE CAMERA IS ALWAYS THE AUDIENCE. So, if you’re talking directly to the audience, tilt your head up slightly (trick of the trade – this will hide a double chin!) and position the camera a little above your eye level. That’s your focus. In an interview, always focus on the person interviewing you, not the camera – make it a conversation.
    • Relax and smile. Nerves are nasty little critters. But an inhale and exhale followed with a soft smile (NOT one that’s ear to ear) can really help you fake it ‘til you make it.  Be sure you’re breathing regularly in the course of taping. Do not hold your breath. Trust me, it will wreak havoc on your ability to speak and add a whole lot of stiffness to your demeanor. Also, blink on occasion. It’s a natural lubricant for your eyes and will help you stay “bright eyed” – you’ll look less “robotic”.  Think of it as a smile in your eyes with a little mischief behind them. It will give you confidence.
    • Body language. A little movement is fine; too much movement makes you appear nervous.  By all means use your hands! But try and keep them below chest level, no wider than your shoulders and don’t flail. Hands can enhance decisive statements and support nuance in your speaking dynamics, but don’t overuse them. And don’t even think about running your hands through your hair.  If you’re standing during your taping, watch the rocking back and forth. Try and stand comfortably with your feet about six inches apart, your weight equally distributed and your shoulders relaxed. And don’t stand on the balls of your feet, you run the risk of losing your balance. When sitting, lean just slightly forward, shoulders down and then sit as tall as you can but without stiffness. Breathe…
    • Appearance. No stripes, checks, neon colors or optical illusions in your clothing. No white, red (on camera it bleeds, really) or too much black. Solid colors but not uniformed and get out the iron (wrinkles show!). Dress appropriately for the occasion and make sure it fits!  As for make-up, ladies, use it sparingly. Avoid a lot UNDER the eyes (none is best) and choose a shade of powder slightly lighter than your skin tone. Gents, a little powder takes away the shininess, which includes any baldpates!  And if you button your suit, it will keep your tie in place (Helpful Heloise…).
    • Delivery. This is when you get to play with your voice and your style of speaking. Add some energy, dynamic and nuance. No monotones allowed. Remember, it’s also a conversation with some great storytelling – you and the audience or you and the interviewer. Add some universal humor (not a joke) – if you make us laugh, we’ll listen better.  Also try out a few analogies, quotes and action words. And make sure you have a positive perspective. After all, you want to be seen as the expert at what you do by effectuating positive change. Be sure to hydrate but do your lip licking before the camera is turned on. It’s very distracting.
    • Hire a media trainer. The rehearsing, practice and ultimate camera performance can be greatly enhanced with a coach. A coach or trainer will have the skill and expertise to lead you in the right direction, provide you with content suggestions and delivery techniques, and help with the tough questions you may not ask yourself. The video is out there for all to see – invest in making it a great one.

    Wendy Scharfman is a professional speaker, communication coach and trainer. She is the founder of Coaching for Effective Communication, a business she created to help her clients become dynamic, confident speakers who can inspire action by delivering a message that matters. Wendy specializes in Leadership Training and Team Building, Public Speaking Competencies, Message Refinement and Media Training.

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  • 3 WAYS YOUR SPEAKING SKILLS CAN LAND YOU AT THE HEAD OF THE PACK

    Date: 2010.07.07 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 1

    I’ve come across some pretty powerful executives and entrepreneurs who can attack a project with ferocity and bring it to completion with great dedication and innovation. It’s inspiring to witness creative ideas come to fruition. But when it comes time to get out there and “spread the word”, be the expert, and tell a story that illustrates the heart of the message while relaying the salient facts in a concise, meaningful way….  Somehow, either the air goes out of the tires or that ole’ fear of having to speak in public becomes the Great Saboteur.

    Most people take their ability to communicate for granted. You’re born, you grow, you learn to speak. It’s usually a natural progression. And some of us seem to innately have been born with a silver tongue – the ability to entertain, make us laugh, “turn a phrase”.   In our work life, we need to develop a little charisma. A charismatic speech is really just the focus of powerful, contagious emotions paired with great ideas. If you have convictions about what you do, you can parlay that into your communication.  Like an applied science that must be transferred to a physical environment to be truly tested, the necessity of speaking well becomes a requirement for success no matter the pursuit.  If you can’t rally the troops with the ideas and projects you believe can help them, they most likely won’t engage.

    Here are three ways you can benefit from being a more powerful speaker:

    1)   You become a stronger leader.
    Winston Churchill said, “Without courage all virtues lose their meaning.” No matter what you have to say, how you say it will determine your ability to convince people of your ideas and to see you as a leader and the “go to” expert.  Get a communication coach, partner with a cohort, hire a copywriter – whatever it takes to fuel your message and speeches with contagious meaning and value. Not only do you stand a better chance of inspiring others to greater achievements, but you enhance your ability to achieve your goals on a consistent basis. You become a more valuable resource. Have the courage to communicate with conviction and skill.

    2)   Your influence grows.
    It stands to reason that if you are memorable, you provide useful, valuable and applicable content, then folks will spread the word. Your audience becomes your messenger. When this happens, it comes back to you tenfold.  Not only do more people want to utilize your ideas and programs, but your confidence in your ability to communicate makes you a more powerful, influential asset. You become a better listener and a stronger negotiator. And this, in turn, enhances your reputation as the authority in your area of expertise.

    3) You remember who you are.
    This may not seem a measureable demographic, but trust me when you are able to tell your own story within the context of the valuable information you are providing, magic happens. Your clients and audiences are able to connect in a visceral way and, then, simply, it matters more. That is the bridge to real leadership, which benefits you and those on whom you want to have an impact.

    Take the time and make the commitment to becoming a more powerful, articulate communicator. Your audience will thank you and you will thank you.

    Wendy Scharfman is a professional speaker, communication coach and trainer. She is the founder of Coaching for Effective Communication, a business she created to help her clients become dynamic, confident speakers who can inspire action by delivering a message that matters. Wendy specializes in Leadership Training and Team Building, Public Speaking Competencies, Message Refinement and Media Training.

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  • COMMUNICATION IS KING AND QUEEN

    Date: 2010.06.23 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    The power of words. Whether it’s a snake oil salesman or the speaker at a global summit, we are influenced, informed and sometimes inspired by words. As human beings, our evolution enabled us to master our own form of communication…. Speech.  And if our ability to speak has given us the ability to disseminate information and ideas, sometimes eventuating in invention, then it is our responsibility to tell the truth and use our skills responsibly and wisely.

    As an actor, I have learned the beauty of words, as a teacher I have learned the power of words and as a communication coach I help people combine the beauty and power of their words to achieve their purpose.

    In my work as an actor, teacher and coach, I can make several universal observations:

    • Sincerity succeeds. Put your heart in it.
    • Put your attention to intention. If it’s clear and solid, it works. If it’s manipulative or tricky, the audience knows.
    • I repeat. The audience knows. You have to have a truthful connection to the material.
    • Always have you in it. Part of this process and the process of becoming a great communicator is finding the positive and comfortable relationship to yourself.

    As a dear friend of mine says, “It takes an unusual mind to undertake an analysis of the obvious”. Simply put, if you don’t understand or believe in what you want your audience to embrace, they won’t.

    Wendy Scharfman is a professional speaker, communication coach and trainer. She is the founder of Coaching for Effective Communication, a business she created to help her clients become dynamic, confident speakers who can inspire action by delivering a message that matters. Wendy specializes in Leadership Training and Team Building, Public Speaking Competencies, Message Refinement and Media Training.

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