5 tips for getting over stage fright

tips for getting over stage frightHave stage fright?  You’re not alone.

They say that our greatest fear, once you’ve eliminated death as a choice, is public speaking.

And yet many of us are called to take that plunge on a regular basis. Whether you are speaking to group of two in a sales presentation or you’re standing at a podium, with hundreds of eyes on you – the intent is the same.

We want to impart knowledge, persuade, entertain and be remembered. And above all else, we want to get through the presentation without looking like a fool or being paralyzed by our stage fright.

I’m one of those rare individuals who isn’t freaked out at the idea of speaking to a group. I like it. But I think I enjoy it because I have a very set routine of prepping for each speech. By the time I step up to the podium or approach the next sales call, I’m confident that I won’t embarrass myself or be nervous to step up on that stage.

Here are my secrets to prepping and delivering a presentation that gets them to ask you back.

Know your audience: One of the easiest ways to get off track with a presentation is to either talk over the audience’s head or at a level that is insulting because your audience is way ahead of you. Not only do you need to understand where they’re coming from, in terms of knowledge, but also in terms of personality. Are they an audience who asks a lot of questions? Are they open to small group activities or sharing information about their work?

Grab them right up front: You need to quickly take charge of your audience. In a large group setting, you might tell them a powerful story. In a sales presentation, you might lead with a stat or fact that is guaranteed to grab their attention. Too many speakers limp into their presentation – either by telling a lame joke or by getting too technical too fast. You want an emotional reaction of some kind to kick you off.

Assume the worst: I’ve watched many speakers melt into a puddle of goo right in front of an audience because their PowerPoint didn’t load right or their video worked but there was no sound or the internet connection was faulty so they couldn’t demo something. When it comes to speaking and technology – assume it will fail. Always have a back up (your presentation on multiple jump drives, the YouTube video on-line but also on a DVD, etc.) You need to be ready to deliver your presentation in the pitch black with no power, if need be. If you’re that prepared, you’ll worry a whole lot less.

Think sound bytes and repeats: In today’s “tweet while you are talking” world, you want to give your audience plenty of tidbits to share. Give them key facts, stats and catch phrases. Imagine someone from your audience going back to the office and re-telling a story you told during your presentation. Which one would get retold? If you answered “none of them” then you’d better come up with a story that is so funny, compelling, astounding or illuminating that people won’t be able to help but repeat it.

Be ready to improvise: You can do all the prep in the world, but sometimes that nagging stage fright had it right — something could still go wrong. At the end of the day, there are many elements of giving a presentation that are out of your control. So even though I am advocating ample prep time, you also have to realize that sometimes you just have to go with the flow. It might be a tough question during the Q&A or a technology malfunction. If you can keep your sense of humor and your balance – your audience will reward you for it.

Odds are you were invited to make the presentation. So remember that your audience is anxious for you to be successful as well. Do the prep work, have faith that you know what you’re talking about and try to enjoy the conversation.

Even if something does go wrong — remember at the end of the day — your audience doesn’t expect you to be perfect.  They just want you to be real and share something of value.

Should you be a content marketer?

Content marketing.  It seems like everyone’s talking about it. But what exactly is it and what can it do for your business? Odds are, if you’re doing any marketing at all — you’re at least accidentally dabbling in content marketing.

But, should you be a content marketer?  Let’s look.

First — it goes by many names.  Some people call it custom publishing or branded content.  Other people slap the label of social or digital marketing on.  And all of those names are accurate.

Content marketing is a broad term for any marketing technique that creates and distributes valuable, helpful and relevant information that demonstrates that you know your stuff.  These tactics draw the attention of people who are already your customers or could be your customers and they consume, share, and value the content.

The ultimate goal of content marketing is to create a sense of trust and comfort that will lead to someone making an initial purchase, making an additional purchase or referring you to someone who’s ready to make a purchase.

The way you build that trust can differ, however. Let’s look at four of the main goals of content marketing and the types of content marketing tactics you can employ to accomplish each.

If you want to entertain your audience, you might:

Make a branded video

  • Create a game
  • Give them a quiz
  • Start a competitions/contests
  • Invent a playful widget or app

If you’d like to inspire your audience, you might:

If you would like to educate your audience, you could:

  • Write an ebook
  • Publish some articles
  • Create an infographic
  • Generate media releases
  • Create guides or how to documents
  • Produce trend reports
  • Record a podcast
  • Send out an enewsletter

In you need to convince your audience, you could:

  • Host an event
  • Create some interactive demos
  • Put on a webinar
  • Create useful calculators or checklists
  • Share some case studies

This list is neither exhaustive nor is it exclusive. A speech can do more than inspire, it can also educate or entertain. A webinar can do more than convince – it can educate or inspire. The subject matter, the delivery style and the intent will dictate the outcome of your efforts. And hopefully, if you produce quality content – it will accomplish more than one of the goals.

But this isn’t something you should just jump into. Like any marketing strategy – content marketing requires forethought and planning, especially because producing a blog or podcast or even putting on a contest requires a significant amount of time and effort. You don’t want to exert that level of effort and not maximize your gain.

The effort and planning are well worth it. Content marketing allows a business to connect with a prospect long before they’re ready to buy. It gives them a sense of your product, service and expertise. It also lets them “sample” you and see if you’re a good fit. Good content marketing tools communicate not only your expertise but it also gives them a very good sense of your brand’s personality. It will attract the best customers for you and, as odd as it sounds, repel those customers who wouldn’t be a good fit long term.

There are a lot of benefits packed into this marketing strategy. Every business can find a content marketing tactic that is the perfect fit for your industry. It takes some time and effort – but the up sides are hard to ignore.

 

 

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Why isn’t marketing’s version of storytelling working?

Storytelling, storytelling, and more storytelling.

Seems like every marketing book, blog (including mine if you’ve been reading this week’s posts) and study is talking about how we should be using storytelling as a marketing technique.

I couldn’t agree more.  Unfortunately, I think most attempts fall short.

Earlier this week — I made the point that A) It seems that despite all the hype — we’re doing less real storytelling today and B) storytelling is hardly a new tactic.

Marketers clearly believe that storytelling is a critical component of their marketing efforts.  As you can see (click here to see a larger version of the chart above) by the chart above, according to a 2012 B2B Content Marketing Trends survey conducted for Holger Schulze for Optify, 81% of respondents listed engaging and compelling storytelling as one of the three most important aspects of content marketing.

So — no argument that marketing’s version of storytelling is critical to a business’ communications success. The question is — why are so many companies doing it badly and not experiencing the results they want?

The stories don’t evoke an emotion: There’s not a memorable story around that isn’t seeded in emotions.  For some businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, it’s hard to imagine what emotions their products or services might trigger.  That’s because the marketers are staying at the features level of sales, not delving into the benefits that lie beneath.

It might be as simple as your prospect is afraid if they make a bad decision, it will cost them their job.  Or it could be that what you sell is helping your clients fulfill their reason for existing — which to them is very emotionally motivated.  If you dig deep enough, you’ll find the emotions behind your stories.  Be sure you expose those in your storytelling so that your audience can relate to and empathize with the people in the tale.

The stories don’t use data to lend credibility: As we discussed in my post about the Revolutionary War book — what made those stories so dramatic and grabbing was he facts that were dotted throughout.

As the folks at the Content Marketing Institute points out in this blog post — data can be used in a variety of ways to tell your story.  Think visual data like an infographic or let the data suggest a new angle or insight for both you and your audience.

The story doesn’t take us on a journey: In marketing’s version of storytelling, we often take shortcuts to get to the big reveal.  But in doing that, we rob the audience of the arc of the story. Every story is, in essence, a journey that chronicles the the problem, the fight to solve the problem and how things are better once the challenge is resolved.

But a great story lets the journey also help the audience see the motivations, frustrations and worries of the characters while they try to face the problem. The outcomes are also wrapped in more than just the tangible results.  When the story is rich with details – we also learn more about the intangible results and ultimate value of delivering the right solution.

The story doesn’t include a next step/call to action: Here’s where most marketers really miss the boat.  A well crafted story draws the audience in, helps them connect with the main character and feel their common pain.  As the story evolves, the prospect is pulling for the character — because in reality, the character bears a striking resemblance to them.  They experience the ups and downs within the story and as the story delivers the happy ending — the prospective customer is thinking and feeling relief and a desire to share in that sort of outcome.

So marketing’s version of storytelling is all too often, a big tease.  You led them right to the edge — get them hungry for what you’re selling but don’t give them a clear and defined next step.  Ask yourself — what do I want them to do next and be sure you make it easy and quick to take that next action.

If you don’t include this as a part of your storytelling — the whole point of telling the story in the first place is wasted.  You aren’t a court jester earning your supper.  You’re trying to help someone decide whether or not you hold the answer to their problem. Once you demonstrate that you are the right choice — be sure you give them a chance to tell you so.

What do you think? Can you tweak the way you’re telling your company’s story so that it drives leads and sales?

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Social Sharing – what and when works

Figuring out what is best for your company’s social sharing accounts can be tough. Not only do you have to figure out what to share, but you also need to know how and when to say it. The folks at Compendium crunched the data of over 300 companies’ social sharing statistics, to identify some social sharing best practices.

One additional thing they did was break this data down as a B2B vs. B2C comparison, as they learned while going through the data that there were some significant differences between what works for B2B companies and B2C companies.

Check out this info graphic that outlines some of the findings. If you’d like to review their social sharing guides that looks at some of these results, click here.

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They’ll buy when they trust

Here’s an equation that every business owner needs to understand.

Know + Like + Trust = Buy.

Whether you sell toothbrushes or multi-million dollar medical equipment and everything in between — until a customer:

  • Knows who you are
  • Likes who you are
  • Trusts you

there is no purchase.  The depth of the trust required varies but there must be at least a base level of trust in place before anyone will spend a dime.

One of the things I love about social media/content marketing is that it is hard-wired to help savvy business people maximize this equation.

Know = search.  If I can’t find you, then I can’t know you exist.  Understanding how potential customers are using search when they want what you sell is vital to your business success today. Do you know what key words and phrases you should be mindful of? Are you creating content that will leverage that?

Like = social networks/blogs. When I hang out with you, in person or online, I get a sense of who you are and whether or not I like who you are.  When I read your blog, I begin to learn who you are and what you believe.  Are you out there, creating conversations and relationships?  If not — when are you going to start?

Trust = consistency online and off.  It’s easy to fake being nice, smart or helpful once or twice. But that’s tough to pull off on a consistent basis. We know that when it comes to our offline world.  And we’re learning it’s just as true online as well.  One of the greatest elements of having a digital presence is that it can quickly provide someone with a long term view of who/how you are.  That builds trust.

That equation lines up perfectly with how content marketing/social media is supposed to work.  When you create great, helpful content that aligns with how people search — you create that long tail effect that drives people to you. When you share it through your social networks and it’s done without being pushy or sleazy, people will come to like and respect you. Like and respect evolves into trust when you behave consistently in the same way.

Whether you actually sell online or you have a brick and mortar presence – using content marketing and your social media presence to move prospects along the spectrum of know, like, trust is just good business.

I’m curious — how are you building trust with what you do online?

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Content that your audience loves

I saw this on Scott Monty’s Facebook status…and loved it.  I couldn’t track down the creator but if I do, I’ll update the post.

Just wanted to give you something to chew on over the weekend.