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Practice, It’s Not Just for Olympians

Posted on: August 15th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

Lavern practice

With the Olympics in “full on” mode at the moment, a post about practice seems like a perfect topic. Bobby Knight, the one-time Olympic basketball coach from Indiana University said “The key is not the “will to win” . . . everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”

Imagine if your professionals, students or entrepreneurs could execute their communication like a gold medal winning Olympic athlete competes in their event. How much better would your team perform? Imagine if they could articulate a podium worthy value proposition, class presentation or venture pitch. Imagine if they could connect with the audience and compel them to action. Would they sell more? Would they get better grades or a better career path? Would they raise more money?

Indeed champion athletes and award-winning performance artists embrace volumes of focused practice to assure peak performance. While the numbers vary considerably by sport and art form, athletes and performing artists practice somewhere between 2-50 times more than they play in actual games or perform shows. They train physically and mentally, they do dress rehearsals and walkthroughs and they focus on specific skills some days and the entire game or performance others.

Practice is safe and collegial. Practice might also be competitive to replicate a game environment or opening night performance. The championship is not won in practice, but it can be lost by how we practice. Practice helps individuals evolve from conscious competence to unconscious competence. The best practices see performers stretching beyond their current skill set to manifest higher levels of ability.

Watch this brief video where Michael Jordan shares his thoughts on the importance of practice.

Athletes and artists who don’t practice, don’t play. Practices are mandatory and integrated into the performance process. Practice is not only a base requirement, it is essential to maintaining and evolving skills. The emphasis on practice doesn’t stop when athletes and performers move from junior levels to the Olympics or professional ranks. In fact, practices get longer, harder and more sophisticated as performers mature towards their peak. Specialized coaches, trainers and consultants are hired to maximize performance at the top levels.

So here are a couple of challenge questions, if your team isn’t prepared and communicating at a gold medal level:

  • What’s your team’s practice to performance ratio? Remember top athletes and artists practice 2 to 50 times more than they play and perform.
  • Do you have a method to diagnose each individual’s skill and performance gaps? Left to our own devices, most of us will practice our strengths and ignore our weaknesses. Identifying and overcoming deficiencies is where major performance leaps occur.
  • Are you providing good benchmarks and references? While each individual understanding their performance and growth opportunities is important, this information is abstract. Seeing their performance in comparison to peers and past performers creates even better reference points. Sometimes it is hard to improve until you know what better looks like.

As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Greatness then is not an act, but a habit”.

About
Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you improve your team’s success through practice. Email or call Bill Kenney today at bkenney@testmypitch.com or +1 (860) 573-4821.

You Can’t Go “Off-Script” Until You Have a Script

Posted on: July 20th, 2016 | by Bill Kenney

Mark Twain famously said, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.

Like Twain, most speakers and presenters want to be spontaneous. They want to be that rare charismatic individual who can evolve their message to the mood and interests of the audience in the moment. Truly there is no more powerful form of speaking than extemporaneous speech. Being nimble and adjusting your message and delivery real-time takes considerable experience and skill. Attempting impromptu speech without the needed experience and skill can be disastrous and lead to lost sales, investment, credibility and relationships.

Developing the skill of impromptu speech is complex. A speaker not only needs to be a good communicator but also needs to have domain expertise and be able read their audience and adjust their message dynamically. To be a “good” communicator means that the speaker is unconsciously competent at speaking in public. We all start at conscious competence. Which is to say that, in the beginning, we have to think about and awkwardly execute every step in the process to deliver a modest speech.

Consider a driver who is new to operating a manual transmission car. They first have to learn steps to depress the clutch and move the shifter into position. They do this first with the engine off and the emergency brake on. As they build this skill to reasonable competence, they progress to shifting while the engine is on and then to driving in an empty parking lot and then driving in a quiet neighborhood and so on. By the time they progress to driving on highways or a busy urban setting their skills have evolved to a place where shifting a manual transmission is second nature. In other words, they are unconsciously competent at shifting.

Elevating your team’s ability to respond in the moment to the needs of their audience, requires them first to be a practiced domain speaker.

About
Test My Pitch – Private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. Engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Ask us how we can help you successfully democratize pitch event results in your community. Email or call Bill Kenney today at bkenney@testmypitch.com or +1 (860) 573-4821.

Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More

Posted on: March 25th, 2016 | by tmpadmin

This a really powerful article about the value of practice in skill building. Look at the ratio of practice to competition for athletes or the ration of practice to performing for any type of performing artist. Do business professionals practice to perform at similar ratios? What would change if they did?

Enjoy!

Reprinted from Medium. Written by @james_clear

Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More

We all have goals that we want to achieve in our lives. These goals may include learning a new language, eating healthier and losing weight, becoming a better parent, saving more money, and so on.

It can be easy to assume that the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future is caused by a lack of knowledge. This is why we buy courses on how to start a business or how to lose weight fast or how to learn a new language in three months. We assume that if we knew about a better strategy, then we would get better results. We believe that a new result requires new knowledge.

What I’m starting to realize, however, is that new knowledge does not necessarily drive new results. In fact, learning something new can actually be a waste of time if your goal is to make progress and not simply gain additional knowledge.

It all comes down to the difference between learning and practicing.

The Difference Between Learning and Practicing
In Thomas Sterner’s book, The Practicing Mind (audiobook), he explains the key difference between practicing and learning.

“When we practice something, we are involved in the deliberate repetition of a process with the intention of reaching a specific goal. The words deliberate and intention are key here because they define the difference between actively practicing something and passively learning it.”  — Thomas Sterner, The Practicing Mind

Learning something new and practicing something new may seem very similar, but these two methods can have profoundly different results. Here are some additional ways to think about the difference.

  • Let’s say your goal is to get stronger and more fit. You can research the best instructions on bench press technique, but the only way to build strength is to practice lifting weights.
  • Let’s say your goal is to grow your startup. You can learn about the best way to make a sales pitch, but the only way to actually land customers is to practice making sales calls.
  • Let’s say your goal is to write a book. You can talk to a best-selling author about writing, but the only way become a better writer is to practice publishing consistently.

Passive learning creates knowledge. Active practice creates skill.

Let’s consider three more reasons to prioritize active practice over passive learning.

  1. Learning Can Be a Crutch That Supports InactionIn many cases, learning is actually a way to avoid taking action on the goals and interests that we say are important to us. For example, let’s say you want to learn a foreign language. Reading a book on how to learn a foreign language quickly allows you to feel like you are making progress (“Hey, I’m figuring out the best way to do this!”). Of course, you’re not actually practicing the action that would deliver your desired outcome (speaking the foreign language).

    In situations like this one, we often claim that we are preparing or researching the best method, but these rationalizations allow us to feel like we are moving forward when we are merely spinning our wheels. We make the mistake of being in motion rather than taking action. Learning is valuable until it becomes a form of procrastination.

  2. Practice Is Learning, But Learning Is Not PracticePassive learning is not a form of practice because although you gain new knowledge, you are not discovering how to apply that knowledge. Active practice, meanwhile, is one of the greatest forms of learning because the mistakes you make while practicing reveal important insights.

    Even more important, practice is the only way to make a meaningful contribution with your knowledge. You can watch an online course about how to build a business or read an article about a terrible disaster in a developing nation, but that knowledge is unproductive unless you actually launch your business or donate to those in need. Learning by itself can be valuable for you, but if you want to be valuable to others, then you have to express your knowledge in some way.

  3. Practice Focuses Your Energy on the Process“Progress is a natural result of staying focused on the process of doing anything.”  — Thomas Sterner, The Practicing Mind

    The state of your life right now is a result of the habits and beliefs that you have been practicing each day. When you realize this and begin to direct your focus toward practicing better habits day-in and day-out, continual progress will be the logical outcome. It is not the things we learn nor the dreams we envision that determines our results, but rather that habits that we practice each day. Fall in love with boredom and focus your energy on the process, not the product.

The Bottom Line
Is passive learning useless? Of course not. In many cases, learning for the sake of learning can be a beautiful thing. Not to mention that soaking up new information can help you make more informed decisions when you do decide to take action.

That said, the main point of this article is that learning by itself does not lead to progress. We often hide behind information and use learning as an excuse to delay the more difficult and more important choice of actually doing something. Spend less time passively learning and more time actively practicing. Stop thinking and start doing.

Listening Skill Development Exercises to Improve Communication Skills – Part II

Posted on: December 17th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

10 Exercises To Improve Listening Skills And Become An Active Listener

Why do we need exercises to improve listening skills? Because we do, that’s why. Because practice makes perfect.

How to improve listening skills? Just pay attention and you will learn that. Listening skills are crucial if you want to have a good relationship with others. Some people have listening skills while most don’t have them (or at least they don’t think they have any listening skills).

Actually, we all have listening skills, some more than others, but we all have at least some skills, we just don’t use them often and they tend to get rusty over time. This is why we need some listening skills exercises. Hopefully, by the end of this article, you will realize the importance of listening.

So the question now is how to improve listening skills? Now, improving listening skills is not an easy task, but it can be done.

Here are 10 of the most useful exercises to improve listening skills (you can call them active listening activities):

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 1 The “don’t interrupt” exercise.

Make a habit of not interrupting the person(s) that is/are talking to you. As simple as this may seem, it is very important that you abide this rule. Just this one thing, done right, represents a great exercise to improve your listening skills. The main idea here is to remember that improving your listening skills means to stop talking and paying attention to what others are saying. Remember that you only learn new things if you shut up and listen. When you talk you learn almost nothing new. So, this is another good reason why you should be quiet and listen to others without interrupting. So if you were wondering how to improve listening skills, now you know one way to do it.

Whenever you’re in a discussion, let the speaker finish his statement before trying to reply. If you absolutely need to interrupt the speaker or maybe raise a point, you have to be patient until you get a chance.

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills. This is why we call them active listening activities, because they are active:

Take a notebook with you and write down all the discussions that you have today. Write down for each discussion: what was the subject of it, who talked more – you or the other person(s), what do you know more now after this discussion, that you didn’t know before. By writing all this down for at least 5-6 discussions, you will know exactly what level of listening skills you have at the moment.

For this exercise to give even better results it is best that someone (your wife/husband,friend,etc) is with you. This way, after you write down all of the above, the other person can read that and tell you how much is true or not and this way you will know were you are and in time you will begin to see the improvements a lot easier. You have to be patient and do this exercise at least 10 times to see some improvements, so go ahead and start now!

How to improve listening skills exercises no. 2 Asking questions means paying attention and it is an essential part of the active listening activities.

A great exercise to improve listening skills is to ask questions throughout a conversation. Asking the right questions at the right time is gold here. If you ask, people will know that you are listening to what they are saying, you will keep a lively conversation, prevent any possible misunderstandings and most importantly, you will develop your listening skills.

Be careful not to overdo it on the questions though! If you pass a certain number of questions, you will become annoying and no one will want to talk to you in the future.
DO IT NOW! (active listening activities remember?) What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Set yourself a goal for today to ask a couple of questions on the first conversation you participate in today. 3 to 6 questions is a reasonable number to start with. After that, set a goal for the next week. Make it a habit of yours to ask questions in every conversation. This way you will learn new things and improve your listening skills as well.

When you ask questions, try not to ask more than one question at a time so that the other person has time to respond to it. It is possible, that the speaker may become silent for some time(this happens often in a conversation). When this happens, do not try to rush and fill up the silence. Instead, you should give the speaker a chance to compose his/her thoughts.

Active listening skills exercises for improving listening skills no. 3 “I see”

One of the difference between hearing and listening is that when you are listening you can try to give some acknowledgments, from time to time, to the person that’s talking so they know that you are really listening. Words like “I see”, “Aha…”, “Yes”, “I know”, “I understand”, “I know the feeling”, and you can name even more are of great help.
You can even start to summarize with your own words what you understood. Summarizing has its benefits like preventing misunderstandings and keeping the liveliness of the conversation. It prevents misunderstandings in the sense that if you didn’t understand something correctly, then the speaker can set you straight after you summarize what was it that you understood.

Summarizing also keeps you implicated in the discussion by preventing your attention from wondering far away.

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Make it one of your habits to use acknowledgments and to summarize conversations. Try this in any discussion and you and the others around you will see improvements in your listening skills.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 4 Are you willing to become a good listener?

You have to know that there are some difference between hearing and listening. If you want to have good listening skills you first have to willing to take the steps involved, to be willing to make the effort. Nothing is free, and gaining listening skills doesn’t make any difference. If you are willing that’s great, but if you’re not, maybe the next benefits of having good listening skills will change your mind.

4 great benefits of being a good listener (why you should be improving listening skills):

  1. If you learn how to listen to others, the others will listen to what you have to say as well, they will respect you because you show respect to them by listening. You’re words will have a greater influence on other people. This is a great thing! Just imagine having a greater influence on your children, friends, family, work colleagues. Wouldn’t this be wonderful?
  2. By being a good listener, you can learn more about the people you talk to, you can make new friends and have a better life, both personal and professional. What if you could be good friends with almost everyone you talk to? How would you feel if your boss was your friend? How about your neighbors, colleagues or even customers? It can all be possible if you only listen to others more.
  3. By becoming a good listener you could even improve existent relationships. When people will see that you’ve become more attentive to what they say they will treat you better and you will then realize the importance of listening. Just think: wouldn’t you treat someone better if they were listening to you and support you?
  4. Having good listening skills will help you improve conversation skills.

This way you will be able to avoid a lot of misunderstandings or confusions. You could also stop possible conflicts even before they start. As you see there are some important benefits of being a good listener, and I’m sure you can dig out more if you try. You should always remember that by doing active listening activities you will become better and better at this. So, what are you waiting for? You should be out there, improving listening skills right now?

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Start changing the way that you listen to people. Pay more attention to them and try to understand what they are really trying to say. The more you care about them the more they will care for you. There is an old saying that goes like this: “You get hungry while eating.” and this goes for willingness too.

You will become more willing to improve your listening skills by having more and more conversations. Just try paying attention and carrying about others and you will feel a huge difference in time.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 5 Keep your eyes on the “ball”

The difference between hearing and listening is that one is active while the other one isn’t. So pay attention only to what the speaker has to say. If you focus only on the speaker and what he/her is talking about and not trying to make up your own replies, you will gain more from the conversation. Also, by doing so, you won’t miss a lot of things the speaker might say.
How to improve listening skills today?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

This is one of the very interesting listening skills exercises. Do the following with the first person that you talk to after reading this: focus completely on that person, don’t allow your thoughts to run away, keep your eyes and ears on what the person is saying. Ask him/her questions about what they’ve said. You will be amazed at how happy you will make that person after you’ve had your little talk. If the conversation is a short one, try to find someone else and have a longer conversation so that this exercise is effective.

Active listening skills exercises no. 6 Respect me and I will respect you as well.

It is important that you show and have respect for the speaker. If you respect the other person you will pay more attention to him/her. On the other hand, if you don’t respect the person that much, you won’t be very attentive.

If you make this a habit, I mean respecting people, you will see that those people (most of them) will give you a higher level of respect as well. You first have to give so that you can receive.
How to improve listening skills today?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Make a conscious effort to develop a genuine interest for others and what they have to say. We all are special in our own way and we can all learn from each other. Try to consider every people that you talk to, a good friend of yours. How would you treat a friend? That’s right, you would pay attention to that friend because you like him/her, you enjoy spending time together, etc.

Try to do this with anyone. It might be a little hard at first, and for some people you may not be able to feel the same as you would to a friend, but, please, give your best at it. And try and try again, and again, and again… Improving your listening skills is not easy but it’s more than worth it.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 7 Repeat it and write it down.

In the middle of a conversation, the speaker might say something very interesting for you. You want to remember that but you also want to pay attention to what the speaker is currently saying, so what do you do? You repeat that information. Immediately. Out loud. Read the following to see an example.

How to improve listening skills today? A way to start improving listening skills is to: DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

You can use this as a helper: “Did I understand this right? Did you just say that …..” This way you will re-repeat the information and you will also make the other person repeat it again (in some cases, the speaker will only say yes and move on – this is why you can deliberately repeat the information with a little error in it. This way you can be sure that the other person will repeat it as well. It’s almost 100% guaranteed!).

Also, if you want to be even more sure that you will remember the information, as soon as you get the chance, write it down on a piece of paper.

Active listening skills exercises no. 8 Keep eye contact

Active listening skills exercises don’t just mean that all you have to is to be a good listener. It also means that you need to keep your eyes on the person which is talking. Keep eye contact at all times. It’s very important that you do this because this way the conversations will be more pleasant and you and the speaker will learn a lot from each other.
How to improve listening skills today?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

The next time you talk to others, face the speaker and watch them in the eye. What you say will make a greater impact on people if you keep eye contact. Also do this when the speaker is talking. This way, he/her will feel appreciated and respected.

Exercise to improve listening skills no. 9 Feedback Time

It is very important (and I recommend this) to give feedback to people, especially if they ask for it. Sometimes people won’t ask for this, but if you feel that you’ve had a pleasant conversation with someone and you have something to say, then give feedback to that person.

How to improve your listening skills?

DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

If you have something good to say, something that you liked about the other person or the way he/she talked, always say it. Don’t keep that all for yourself. Anyone likes to be complimented and if you liked something it’s much better to say it loud.

What do I do if I have some negative feedback? If you didn’t like something, you have two options: you can either keep it to yourself (some things are better left unsaid), or if you just have to say it, do it in a smoother way. Don’t just throw it out as if you didn’t care about the person’s feelings. Be gentle, say something good about the person and then point out what you wanted to say. Here’s an example:

Let’s say that you’ve just had a conversation with a good friend about a tv commercial. You both liked one commercial, but you don’t agree with something
that your friend said. How do you tell him this without making him angry? Say something like: “Hey, John I really liked having this talk with you. I always enjoy talking about tv commercials with you because you’re a funny guy. I agree about what you said earlier …., and I also feel that ….(here will be the “negative” feedback – as smoother as you can).

Active listening skills exercises no. 10 Be yourself

It is very important that you feel good in a conversation. You must be relaxed and comfortable. This way, the chances are that you will be more attentive to the speaker. If you feel some sort of discomfort, you won’t be able to pay attention to the discussion.

How to improve listening skills today? A way to start improving listening skills is to: DO IT NOW! What to do today so that this exercise really does improve your listening skills:

Start having conversations with people that you feel comfortable talking to. Use all the knowledge you’ve gathered from this article. By first talking to people that you feel good with, you will make this a little test for future times when you will talk to other people. Once you start paying attention to people you will realize the importance of listening to others.

If you use all of these active listening activities/listening skills exercises you will improve your listening skills and you will become an active listener. People will enjoy talking to you and you will have a greater influence on others. Your whole life will improve, but it’s not enough that you’ve read “Listening skills exercises – 10 Exercises to Improve Listening Skills and Become an Active Listener”, you have to read it again, write down what you think is important for you and start using it until it becomes a habit for you.

Program: Standout in 30-Seconds

Posted on: December 3rd, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

Standout in 30-Seconds
Help your team connect at every opportunity
Make high impact elevator pitches and self-introductions

Do members of your team get nervous, bobble their words or struggle to clearly articulate your message and value proposition?

Connecting quickly with an important individual or audience can make all the difference in whether or not you gain next steps. Capturing attention and compelling action takes effort and practice.

Learn, Practice and Perform

Sign up for the Test My Pitch, Standout in 30-Seconds program and you and your team will get:

2 x 1-hour workshops (delivered live online)

  1. Introduction to Standing Out
    • getting started
    • Shocked546x480creating a script
    • delivery techniques
  2. Advanced Standing Out
    • assessing the audience
    • developing a hook
    • closing with confidence

3-rounds of formalized practice and feedback with our expert mentors plus 3-months of use of the Test My Pitch platform for each team member to practice, perform and get peer feedback on their elevator pitch or self-introduction…this is unlimited practice and unlimited feedback!

Though our Learn, Practice and Perform method, skills improve quickly and affordably. Owners and managers also get unexpected insights into their team’s ability.

Reserve your spot and sign up today!

Options for Standout in 30-Seconds

Elevator Pitch – is a succinct and persuasive sales statement typically aimed at closing for a sale, investment or a meeting.
 Select team size



Self-Introduction – is a brief personal presentation of capabilities aimed at creating collaboration and building relations.
 Select team size



Feel free to call/email with any questions or individual needs
+1 (860) 573-4821 or bkenney@testmypitch.com

Subject to the standard Test My Pitch Term of Use.
Test My Pitch is a product of Test My Pitch, LLC

Test My Pitch Use for the “Standout in 30-Seconds” Program

Posted on: December 2nd, 2015 | by Bill Kenney

The intent of this post is to describe the use of the Test My Pitch platform for customers who subscribe to the Standout in 30-Seconds program.

Test My Pitch is a private communication skill development platform. Think Toastmasters online. We engage, empower and accelerate your communities communication confidence and competence.

Specific to the Standout in 30-Seconds program we will provide each team with their own private Test My Pitch community for 3-months. Your team will be able build their skills privately and collegially. Through a customized template process each member will have the ability draft, post and get feedback on their elevator pitch or self-introduction. Whether they struggle to find the right words or deliver them in a compelling way, the use of Test My Pitch will help build their skills and confidence quickly.

Besides the ability to have peer and manager feedback our team of experts will also offer feedback. Communication skills build with practice, so we strongly encourage that your team create and post as much as they want. There is no limit to how much they can post or how much feedback we’ll give.

Please let us know if you have questions on Test My Pitch or you’d like a demonstration. Feel free to contact Bill Kenney at +1 (860)573-4821 or bkenney@testmypitch.com.

Click here to go back to the Standout in 30-Seconds program information.

Role-Play that Rock

Posted on: November 21st, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Sell More ● Close More ● Serve Better
Learn how to prepare your team to communicate effectively

Date: Friday, November 20, 2015
Time: Noon – 1:00PM (EST)
This is a webinar. Watch it here.

Need to help your team improve their:

  • Elevator pitch?
  • Cold call scripting?
  • Value proposition delivery?
  • Networking self-introduction?
  • Team member onboarding speed and competence?
  • Customer discovery and need assessment conversations?

Join us for this fast moving and highly informative workshop that will help you quickly improve your team’s communication skills.

Role-playing is one of the most common forms of learning and skill development. Athletes physically and mentally practice their sports, parents practice situational responses with their children and performance artists do weeks and sometimes months of script readings, practice sessions and then dress rehearsals before they see an audience. Likewise, effective professionals perform at their best with practice. This session will highlight stumbling blocks and reveal the current best practices for building your team’s communication competence and confidence.

In this workshop we’ll:

  • Identify the common challenges to communication skill building
  • Learn techniques and systems that will help your team evolve quickly
  • Explore the do’s and don’t of role-playing
  • Create the remedies that are right for your system
  • Learn what to prioritize and how to do it

Over the last two years our team has been visiting, interviewing and serving universities, entrepreneurship ecosystems and large employers all around the world. We’ve been to more than 250 pitch events and demo days in that time. We’ve also worked with sales organizations to engage and build sales team effectiveness. We’d like to share with you some of the learning and best practices that we are gaining through this experience.

Join us for this action packed and interactive session.
We limit these webinars to 50 participants. Register now to reserve your spot.

5 Things that You Can Learn About Pitching from Elon Musk

Posted on: July 15th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Article courtesy of Andy Raskin @araskin.

What I Sent Zack

What I sent Zack was a link to Elon Musk’s presentation for the Telsa Powerwall (the full video is at the bottom of this post). I also included a version of the points I’ll share below.
Musk’s delivery isn’t stellar. He’s self-conscious and fidgety. But at the end, his audience cheers. For a battery.

That’s because Musk does five things right that you should emulate in every pitch you ever make to anybody. And you should do them in this order:

#1: Name the enemy

Never start a pitch by talking about yourself, your team, your product, or your total addressable market. Instead, start by naming the thing that’s getting in the way of your customer’s happiness. Do that by painting an emotionally resonant picture of how the world currently sucks for your customer, who/what is to blame, and why. When Musk shows this image of burning fossil fuels, you can practically hear Darth Vader’s ominous breath.

#2: Answer “Why now?”

Audiences — particularly investors — are skeptical. They’re thinking, “People have lived this way for a long time — are they really going to change now?” Musk handles this objection by showing that we’re at a critical point in the growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration; if we don’t act now, things quickly get much, much worse. When Musk says, “We should collectively do something about this,” his audience howls in support.

#3: Show the promised land before explaining how you’ll get there

Before saying anything about batteries, Musk describes his version of happily-ever-after: a civilization powered by “this handy fusion reactor in the sky, called the Sun.” Showing the enemy’s defeat before explaining how you’ll make it happen can feel wrong for novice presenters — like blurting out the punchline before you’ve told a joke. But when an audience knows where you’re headed, they’re much more likely to buckle in for the ride.

#4: Identify obstacles—then explain how you’ll overcome them

Now that you’ve shared your vision of the future, (a) lay out the obstacles to achieving it and (b) show how your company/product/service will overcome each one. (There had better be some big, nasty obstacles — otherwise who needs what you’re selling?)

Musk addresses three obstacles to a solar-powered world:

(i) The amount of energy produced by solar panels varies throughout the day and night (thus the need for batteries):

(ii) Most people think the land area required for batteries to store enough energy to rid U.S. of fossil fuels would be really huge (but according to Musk, it’s that tiny red dot in Texas):

(iii) Currently available batteries suck in seven specific ways:

By this point, Musk’s audience is practically salivating for the Powerwall product video, which will explain how Powerwall does not suck in each of those seven ways. But make no mistake: the fancy graphics and dramatic music only work because Musk has set up the Powerwall not as a battery, but as the salvation of mankind.

#5: Present evidence that you’re not just blowing hot air

Again: audiences are skeptical. So you must give them evidence that the future you’ve laid out is, indeed, attainable. Musk does that by letting his audience in on a secret: Powerwall batteries have been supplying the energy for the auditorium in which he’s speaking. (As proof, he zooms in on the meter above, which registers zero power from the grid). For early- stage companies and products, demos like this can serve as evidence, though results from early (or beta) customers are more compelling. Least persuasive— but better than nothing — are testimonials from potential customers explaining why they would buy.

Watch Elon Musk pitch the Powerwall.

See the original article.

Top 5 Tips for Public Speaking

Posted on: July 12th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Article courtesy of Nic Zito @niczito.

Top 5 tips for effective public speaking. After one of my incubator members was invited to give his first presentation, he asked my advice for first time speakers. These are the first 5 thoughts that came to mind from my past speaking engagements:

  1. Tangibly Outline- Within the initial intro, you should organize and disclose to the crowd the ‘takeaways’ they are expected to retain or learn when they walkaway. In this way, you immediately seem prepared and organized, and they know upfront the value they will learn by listening to you.

  2. Don’t talk @ them- Put yourself in their shoes. When I am in the audience, I want to feel like the speaker is making a connection to even the largest crowds. This is accomplished by speaking in a conversational tone as if you were in a 1-on-1 talk to someone in the front row. The reverse of this is lecturing (Think a college setting), and we all know how many people tune out for those.

  3. Make it Personal- Unless you’re Mark Cuban, introduce yourself right away. Who are you? What do you care about? As an audience member, I want to feel like I know the person speaking, their background, and their experience. This all contributes to the takeaways you as the speaker will be presenting, in other words, it builds credibility but also puts an emotional human element to the talk.

  4. Care about the topic- This seems simple but within the initial 2 minutes of a public presentation, you can tell if someone is truly invested in their topic. Pay attention to body language and tone of voice. Again, people don’t want to feel like they’re being lectured by a robot. Being passionate increases your crowd connection which will in turn make you harder to tune out from.

  5. Involve the Audience- Q/A is a great way to achieve this. If it’s a smaller crowd you can call on individuals to ask what they’re working on and encourage group discussion. Notice and pay attention to their body language (ex. If someone is nodding) and have moments of spontaneous involvement. 2 practical reasons for this strategy as well are 1) Q/A breaks up the stretch of only you speaking, which can get stale and boring and 2) No matter how tangible your talk is, there are bound to be personal questions from the audience.

Link to the original article.

Featured Webinars

Posted on: February 8th, 2015 | by tmpadmin

Come back often.
New webinars will be added monthly.

5 Reasons Why Your Training is Failing…and what to do about it

Building Community: How to Diversify Beyond the Usual Suspects

Business Plan Competitions are Broken…and What to Do About It

Criteria Conundrum: Developing Your Ultimate Pitch Evaluation Rubric

Feedback Failures: Where Feedback Goes Off Track…and How to Correct It!

Huh, What’d They Just Say?

Judging Nightmares…Make your judging reliable and informative!

Listening: The Secret to Powerful Communication

Make Your Pitch Event Kick-Ass

Measuring Impact: 7.5 Questions with Brian Barge from The Evidence Network

Mentee Mayhem

Mentor Magic: Overcome the Biggest Mentor Program Challenges!

Performance Paradox: How to Drive Results While Conserving Resources

Role-Plays that Rock

Stale and Underrepresented: Reinvigorate Your Community (note: Due to a technical snafu, the slides will not appear until the 4:50 mark. The audio should be good though)

The Millennial Paradox

When a Negative is a Positive: Making Feedback Effective

 

See the full library on our YouTube channel