By Scott Danielson
Recently, Broadway musicals have extended their reach. Fox’s hit show Glee features a number of songs from Broadway, and its lead characters break out into song. A number of musicals have had great sucess at the box office, including Mamma Mia and Hairspray. Even the rock band Green Day, and South Park comedians Trey Parker & Matt Stone, have created wildly successful musicals within the last couple of years. As it turns out, Broadway musicals can teach us a lot about public speaking. Here are four ways you can turn a business presentation into a show-stopping event.
#1 Keep It Simple
Audiences don't want to be confused. That’s why Broadway musicals have simple plots and their songs only have one topic (being in love is a popular one). In fact, I would challenge you to name a Broadway musical that can’t be summarized in a couple of sentences. If you’re giving a presentation, create one clear message (at VoicePro® we call this a Throughline™). Then make sure your visuals contain only one piece of information. With these simple changes, your message will come through loud and clear.
#2 Give The Audience Variety
In Broadway musicals, nothing occurs for an extended period of time. If there's dialogue for more than ten minutes, you can be certain a song is on the horizon. Likewise, if you hear a ballad, the next song is almost always upbeat with spirited choreography. Even the most entertaining speaker is tiresome without variety. So, give your presentation variety with visual aids, humorous stories, and audience participation (if appropriate).
#3 Use Body Language To Reinforce Your Message
Often the subject of mockery, many Broadway actors will overstate their emotions with bold gestures and overstated facial expressions. This is to ensure that every audience member, even those in the top row of the balcony, know exactly how the character feels. While you might not want to reenact your favorite moment from the West Side Story during your weekly meeting, let your excitement show in your face and body language. Demonstrating your enthusiasm will win over your audience, and strengthen your message
#4 Don’t Neglect the Ending
The finale in any musical is pretty difficult to miss. Nearly every character is on stage. Old songs are revisited, a chorus of voices crescendo, and the orchestra hits the last note with a triumphant burst before the applause begins. Many speech writers worry so much over how to begin that they forget the ending leaves a lasting impression. So take a cue from the finale: review your major points, put a new spin on your primary message (your Throughline™), and take some time to craft a memorable final line.
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Photo by Broadway.me
by Scott Danielson
I have a confession.
I hated Twitter.
I hated Twitter and everyone involved. I judged my friends who used it. I groaned when ESPN posted LeBron James latest tweet (for a number of reasons). I had no interest in making an account.
Then I became a Twitter junkie. Today, I tweet for VoicePro® and for my own personal account. I celebrate new followers like national holidays. I await updates from my favorite celebrities like a young child waiting for Santa Claus. I brainstorm and research to create the 140 character that will change the world.
While outsiders have wept for my sanity and social life, I’m beginning to see numerous parallels between Twitter and the business world. Turns out Twitter has more to offer than you’d expect.
#1 Keep It Simple
Tweets cannot exceed 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation. As a result, the messages are simple, direct and clear. Take this tweet from NFL® Quarterback Drew Brees:
Thank you Who Dat Nation for all your support yesterday and this season. You made it special for all of us.
If only customer interactions were so straightforward.
They can be, if you apply Twitter standards to your sales pitch. Start by using simple language and fewer words. Your customers will thank you for your brevity and a message that’s easy to understand. And never fear! You can always offer more information—if they ask.
#2 Know Your Audience
Everyone’s Twitter audience is different. Derek Jeter knows Yankee fans want comments about training camp, while comedian Jim Gaffigan’s followers expect jokes and tour information. Needless to say, it would be confusing if Jim Gaffigan started offering details about the Yankees winter workouts.
What does your audience crave?
Customers won’t buy what they don’t want. So, find out what they do want. Ask probing questions to discover your customers’ needs and wants. Then tailor your products and services accordingly. Show your customers that you value their needs and deliver a personalized experience.
#3 Interacting > Telling
My favorite Twitter celebrities interact with their fans.
Cult actor Bruce Campbell is a great example. Like most movie stars on Twitter, he offers updates from the set and lets his followers know about public appearances. He also answers fan questions, gives birthday shout outs, and shares pictures from other users.
I have limited interest in Bruce’s day-to-day activities but I adore him for interacting with fans.
Customers are no different, especially when a product or service has failed to meet their expectations. They want to know their thoughts and opinions matter. Dismissing a client’s concerns discounts their feelings and provokes anger. Instead, relate to their frustrations and search for possible solutions. A sympathetic voice and a dedication to positive results are always appreciated.
Although Twitter is characterized as a personal indulgence, it’s all about the followers. Ideally, every tweet is meant for the reader not the author. Celebrities and companies ignore this core concept at their peril.
Don’t let your customer service anger your “followers”. Embrace Twitter’s lessons and always keep the customer in mind.
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by Scott Danielson
After being the source of public discontent for almost four years, Goldman Sachs’ reputation took another hit in the form of an op-ed piece from former employee Greg Smith, entitled, "Why I'm Leaving Goldman Sachs". An Internet sensation, the article’s debut in the New York Times, has sent Goldman Sachs’ public image into free fall.
Although the firm will likely debate the accuracy of Smith’s claims, the article raises a number of concerns about how companies continue to do business. If you want to prevent a public relations meltdown or even a financial crisis, learn the business lessons found in Smith’s article.
#1 Meet Customer Needs
According to Smith’s article, Goldman Sachs has one priority: profit. In practice, this meant guiding customers to trades that will bring “the biggest profit to Goldman,” and advising clients to invest in unprofitable stocks the firm is “trying to get rid of.”
In VoicePro®’s Distinct Advantage™ workshop, we emphasize that a sales strategy must focus on meeting customer needs. Anyone who has entered a sales-driven retail setting can tell you how off-putting it can be. The conversation feels fake, the sales person suggests items you don’t want or need, and you begin to distrust any advice the staff gives you.
If customers don’t trust you, they won’t recommend you or continue to purchase your products. In some cases, failing to meet their needs can incite anger. Eventually, they take their business somewhere else.
Instead, adopt a customer-centric sales approach. Treat the situation as if you don’t care whether or not you make a sale. Ask as many probing questions as possible and make your product recommendations accordingly. If your customers know you have their best interests at heart, they will trust you, and keep coming back—again and again.
#2 Treat Customers With Respect
In one of the article’s more shocking paragraphs, Smith describes the language management used about their clients:
“Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets,’ sometimes over internal e-mail.”
In this context, the term muppet means fool or idiot. Of course, treating clients with disrespect is an easy way to lose business. But the more troubling aspect of this claim is that the emails are coming from the organization’s leaders.
As a leader, you set an example for your employees, and the office culture mirrors your values. At Goldman Sachs, employees were essentially given a license to insult clients. And what goes on within a company will manifest itself on the outside every time. If you deny such behavior or try to change it later on, you will be viewed as a hypocrite. So save your reputation and the reputation of your business by always treating your customers with respect, even when they’re not in the room.
#3 Promote True Leaders
As Smith detailed the current culture of Goldman Sachs, he indicated leaders were chosen based upon their earnings for the firm, instead of their leadership skills. In addition, leadership candidates were required to match their leaders’ value system, unethical though it might be.
One of the more dangerous habits of leaders is their tendency to promote like-minded employees. However, as an Entrepreneur magazine contributor indicates, the other leaders within your business should offset any of your own leadership weaknesses. A group of people with similar thoughts and backgrounds may get along but they’re likely to make the same mistakes. Fill your team with a diverse set of skills and personalities for better results.
For many years, Goldman Sach’s was a model business for success and customer satisfaction. Now they’ve become a model of what to avoid. Luckily, it’s not too late for your business. Learn from Sachs' mistakes to avoid their fate and save your company.
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by Scott Danielson
Here’s a simple equation that most teenage boys learn:
James Bond = Cool
Considering the Bond films are the longest running franchise in movie history, it’s hard to argue the character’s appeal. He’s suave, cool under pressure, deadly when needed, and of course, irresistible to women.
If only you could enter work with the bravado of MI-6’s top agent.
Now you can. We’ve discovered an arsenal of Bond’s gadgets that will make you a more confident and effective communicator.
#1 Body Language
James Bond’s body language always conveys power and confidence. No matter how dire the situation, he is totally relaxed. His posture is strong and open, his shoulders are broad, and he’s never afraid to look his enemy in the eye.
Would you take a nervous, fidgety Bond seriously? I wouldn’t.
Bond’s signature swagger is just as useful in the office. Powerful body language demands attention and respect. Show your personal power by standing tall, staying open, and walking with purpose. Hold your head high and look at people, connecting with friend and foe alike.
Ok, we’ll admit it. Bond’s usual jokes are full of terrible puns and innuendo. Their true purpose, however, is hidden in their groan-inducing awfulness.
He never seems nervous.
Even with a gun to his head, Bond’s sense of humor makes the viewer confident he will survive the ordeal. He couldn’t possibly be worried, could he? See, he’s cracking jokes.
We don’t recommend jokes, but humor is a great way to convey your confidence and power.
You can curb your own tension during a business presentation by opening with a humorous personal story. It’s empowering for you because it’s familiar, and both you and your audience can relax knowing you don’t take yourself too seriously.
The number of Bond’s initial plans to succeed is exactly zero. Without fail, Bond’s perfect plans are blown up through betrayals, villainous machinations, and a kidnapped damsel or two.
Does Bond give up or take time to complain about his lost plan? Of course not. He improvises and finds a way to achieve his primary goal
It’s a cliché, but the ability to “go with the flow” is crucial for leaders and other business presenters. As we teach in our Speak Present Influence workshp, scripted presenters fail to connect with their audience and often ignore signs of confusion. Likewise, leaders who remain overly dedicated to failed plans appear weak and inflexible.
A failed plan doesn’t have to be synonymous with failure. Keep your primary goals in mind and adjust accordingly. Your dedication and adaptation will improve your chances of achieving.
The gadgets, villains, and even Bond himself have changed over time, but these three basic characteristics are constant. Use them to become your office’s top agent. Though you may never prevent nuclear destruction or use a jetpack you can still walk, talk, and act like 007.
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Image provided by Arabani