Monday, November 25, 2013

A Taste of My Own Medicine

Have you ever watched a video of yourself giving a presentation?  I suggest this to my public speaking students at Central Wyoming College.  There is really no better way to evaluate and improve your public speaking than by being your own critic.  This is advice that I have recently realized is easier said than done.

My talk from TEDxJacksonHole was recently posted online, and it has been somewhat unsettling to watch myself perform such a personal speech on the internet.  It was actually easier for me to deliver the speech in front of  a live audience of 500 people than it has been watching it online.  Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think.  (Be kind)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Training That Sticks

You know how important customer service is to your business.  When you see a customer leave your business with a smile on their face, you know they are likely to do business with you again.  Moreover, there’s  a good chance they will recommend you to their friends and family.

Knowing this, you probably provide some customer service training to your employees (If not, you really need to!).   I challenge you to consider how much of your training focuses on procedures (i.e. what to do) vs. behaviors (i.e. how to do it). 
What to do                                               How to do it                                                   
     Make customers feel welcomed                 Be genuinely interested in your customers
     Exceed customer’s expectations                Empathize with your customer's situation
     Maintain a positive attitude                         Recognize and manage your emotions at work

Chances are you have been focusing mostly on training procedures, which is good.  Unfortunately, “good” isn’t what you are aiming for.  Raising the level of your customer service requires that you train the behavioral skills your employees need to truly “wow” your customers.    

Learning behavior skills works best when the training is customized to individual strengths and personalities. Don't assume that a group training session is going to do the trick.  Follow it up with individual meetings to find out what part of the training your employees felt was most valuable. Ask thoughtful questions about how they will apply what they learned.  Providing individual attention improves employee engagement, retention, and skill development.  This is especially true with younger employees who are used to more individualized attention from parents and teachers.  Give it a try.  It'll be the most valuable time you spend improving performance all year, and might even improve your relationships with your employees.

Friday, October 18, 2013

What Is "Internal Marketing?"

After a recent seminar that I presented, I passed my business cards around to the audience and asked if anyone had questions.  I was surprised when one of the first questions was not about the presentation, but about my card.

"Your cards lists, 'Sales Consulting, Customer Retention, and Employee Engagement" the gentleman asked.  "How does employee engagement fit in with all the sales & marketing stuff?"

"Great question," I responded.  I then challenged the audience to consider the "Identify Your Target Customer?" exercise we had worked on earlier in the presentation, and to substitute the word "customer" with the word "employee."  In many instances, employees are your core customers! 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mega Disruption!

A few months ago I promised on this blog that I would be posting all about all of the great speakers that I coached for TEDxJacksonHole in February.  Boy did I fail at that.  Sorry.  I've been busy.  Seriously.

We just concluded TEDxJacksonHole DISRUPT on October 5, 2013, and it was AWESOME!  If you were not lucky enough to be in the audience, don't fret, videos of all the speeches will be posted online within the next couple of weeks.

As the Speaker Coach for TEDxJacksonHole I have spent hundreds of hours over the past 3 months working with each of the wonderful speakers for the event.  What a great event!  Thank you to every performer:

  • April Alliston
  • Ed Belbruno
  • Alexa Clay*
  • Sandy Hessler
  • Brolin Mewejje
  • Kristen Moeller
  • Marena Salerno Collins
  • Steve Trilling
  • Ava Ulmer
  • Nate Ver Burg
What is that "*" next to Alexa Clay's name, you ask?  Well, Alexa had to cancel at the last second because of illness, and a replacement speaker had to fill in.  Who? You ask again.  Well, that would be me.  Yup, I got the opportunity to give my first TED talk this past Saturday, and I had only 10 hours to prepare it!  And in that time, I also needed to assist the other speakers with the dress rehearsal.  Talk about a major DISRUPTION!  It was a crazy and intense next 12 hours that are still all a blur for me.  While I feel as though I delivered a powerful and emotional speech, I am a bit afraid to see the video once it is edited.  All and all, I am proud of what I accomplished and revealed to the audience.
I also feel for Alexa, as she spent hours and hours preparing her speech, flying here from the east coast to present, and then falling ill and being unable to perform.  You all should at the very least visit to see what we missed.

Thanks to everyone who helped make TEDxJacksonHole DISRUPT a huge success.  Special thanks to Steve Jansen and the rest of the TEDxJacksonHole committee.  Another one in the books!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Reward of Awards

awardHow does you business recognize individual employees? Like many businesses, you may have an internal award program that recognizes employees for excellent customer service, environmental stewardship, safety, etc. Far too few businesses recognize the opportunities to nominate their employees for external awards in similar categories. This is a tremendous opportunity lost because individual awards are usually far more engaging and relevant to your customers. Personal success stories are a wonderful way to communicate your company values in a way that relates well to your customers.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

She Should Have Gone To Toastmasters

Have you ever been put on the spot and been asked a question that you weren't anticipating in front of an audience you were trying to impress?  Maybe it was during a staff meeting when your boss singled you out to report on a project.  Or perhaps it happened to you during a job interview.  Whatever your worst impromptu speaking blunder was, it probably wasn't as bad as Miss Utah from this past weekend's Miss USA pageant. 

These moments happen to everyone, though hopefully for most of us, not in front of a national audience.  There are only two ways for you to minimize the chances of bungling an impromptu speech and sounding like an idiot.

  1. Learn everything about EVERYTHING so that you can always sound intelligent, not matter what topic you are asked to speak on.
  2. Practice impromptu speaking so that you learn the structure of a short speeches, and develop improvisation skills.
The first, I can't help you with.  Unless you are Jeopardy wiz kid, Ken Jennings, you aren't likely to develop an encyclopedic memory while also juggling your day job, family, and all the other stuff that constitute "living."

The second way is easy.  Visit your local Toastmasters club.  For decades, Toastmasters International has been helping people develop the very skill of delivering impromptu speeches.  In Toastmasters lingo they are referred to as Table Topics, and all over the world, just about every Toastmasters meeting participants are challenged to give 1-2 minute speeches on subjects they know nothing about.  More accurately, they don't know what the topic will be until they are already standing at the lectern in front of the audience.

Table Topics often seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but Toastmasters quickly learn that they are one of the best tools to practice your speaking skills.  They are fun and often funny too, for both the speaker and the audience.

The absolute best way to improve your confidence and competence in public speaking is to practice in front of a live audience.  Toastmasters gives you this opportunity in a supportive atmosphere with no risk of looking like an idiot.  Visit your local Toastmasters club to learn more.  To find your local club, visit 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Is Your Brand Out-of-Control?

If you've answered "Yes," you are probably better off than you think. For years, companies have talked about "branding" as if it was something tangible that they could control.
Design a logo, write a tag line, test it with some focus groups, and viola! You have a brand.
No, actually, you have a logo, which is, at best, an image that people associate with your brand. A brand is best defined as: the customer's perception of your company. It's not what you tell your customers about your company, it's what they tell you.

You don't own your brand. Your customer owns your brand.
This is what makes the concept of "branding" so powerful. When your business strategy matches exactly the actual experiences of your customers, you have created an unstoppable marketing force.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Most Inspiring Marketing Medium

"A speech is a solemn responsibility.  The man who makes a bad thirty-minute speech to two hundred people wastes only a half-hour of his own time.  But he wastes one hundred hours of the audience's time - more than four days - which should be a hanging offense."
                                                                                                       - Jenkin Lloyd Jones
Steve Jobs - A man who understood the power of
public speaking for business better than most.
We all have to speak in public at sometime in our lives.  Most of us have to do it almost every day in the form of sales calls, staff meetings, and presentations.  As someone who has studied and taught public speaking for many years, I cringe whenever I listen to a speaker who has not prepared for and practiced the skill of public speaking before they stand in front of an audience.  Not only does it show a lack of respect for the audience, it exhibits a complete loss of opportunity.

More than every other form of marketing or sales, the opportunity to prepare and deliver a speech for a specific audience gives you the chance to share your idea and your perspective in a way that is specifically tailored for the people receiving it (e.g. customers, potential donors, board of directors, etc.).  It is not just a captive audience, it is an engaged audience that is in the room specifically to hear what you have to say.  Magazines, newspapers, radio, internet, and social media all rely on chance that a viewer is interested in your message at the exact time that they see or hear it.  Public speaking audiences typically know the topic of a presentation and have committed to listening prior to hearing even the first word.  Furthermore, with traditional marketing your audience must become immediately engaged with your message, or they will turn the page, change the station, or click another link.  Nearly 100% of a public speaking audience stays listening attentively to the speaker for the entire speech.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Its too good of a quote not to forward along....

Photo from Speaker Profile
"Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don't believe is right."

-Jane Goodall, quoted in

Friday, March 22, 2013

TEDxJacksonHole - Speech Making in the EXTREME

One of the most rewarding projects I have been involved with over the past year has been TEDxJacksonHole. The success of each sold-out event has been gratifying, thought the most rewarding aspect of my participation in TEDxJacksonHole has definitely been in working with and coaching each of the speakers. 

In my role as Speaker Coordinator, I witnessed the development of each TEDx talk from the first nomination, though speech writing, rehearsal, and finally the live performance. Coaching each speaker though the process has been both challenging and enlightening for me.  For many speakers, it is an emotional roller coaster that dips from moments of tearful frustration to the height of jubilation when they nail the speech in front of the sold out audience.  Each of the speakers brought 100% of their commitment, passion, and enthusiasm to the event, and for that, I thank them.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to showcase some of the great speeches from TEDxJacksonHole on  Visit frequently, and mark you calendars for the weekend of October 5th for our next TEDxJacksonHole event at the Center for the Arts.


Kevin "KAL" Kallaugher was a complete joy to work with for TEDxJacksonHole EXTREME.  He brought a level of professionalism with him that has been unmatched by any other speaker at either event.  Both funny and inspirational, Kevin made an immediate connection with the audience as he shared a subject and perspective that many people rarely consider.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How You Talk Is How You Should Market Your Business

How we talk is the core to how we communicate.  How we communicate is core to how we connect with customers. Too many businesses create a marketing strategy based on what they think they their customers want to hear, rather than trusting their own voice to communicate why they serve their customers in the first place.

My approach to marketing for Teton Healing Arts has been to encourage every practitioner to speak in their own voice.  To communicate from their own heart.  Once everyone became comfortable speaking candidly about why their work is important to the health of their patients, it became simple to make those messages engaging from a marketing perspective.

Thanks again to my friend Nick Staron from Jackson Hole Adventure Video, for helping me create this video testimonial.