May 27, 2016

Be Safe and Have Fun But...

Always Remember

Thank you, our fallen heroes. Thank you for protecting us and for serving the greatest nation in the history of the world. 

God Bless you all.

May 19, 2016

The After Talk

The applause has died down and you accomplished what you set out to do; brand yourself as an expert. This branding will last only a little while after your talk if you don't engage afterwards. You just had a conversation with a group of similarly minded industry professionals and the best thing you could do is listen after the talk. There will be people who'll come up to you and compliment you on your talk. Give sincere "thank yous"and ask one question, "what resonated with you?" Believe it or not this will open up your world to another level of social connection. This person, and others that approach you the same way, wanted to further their connection to you and by genuinely asking them their thoughts you have now positively branded yourself as a caring professional. That's what draws people to others.

There will also be some who will want to challenge your talk, giving their take on the subject that most likely will counter your factually imprinted opinions. This is where you can truly seize the moment. Listen, ask your own questions, being careful not to be provocative. Give them your card and ask them to send you more information. Explain that all sides need to be explored in order for a good conversation to become a productive conversation. You are always eager to learn. Maybe, just maybe, you will.

In between those two types you will find people simply smile at you and nodding their greetings; smile and nod back and feel good. You are the focal point.

Now, and this is so important, follow up after the evening is all said and done. Contact your host which in this case is the HBA president and the executive officer. Let them both know how appreciative you are to have been given this opportunity AND that you'd be more than happy to write an article for their HBA newsletter to place in print your talk, giving further insight, which will benefit those who didn't attend but also gives you a second bite at the apple, meaning those that heard your talk. I guarantee you you they will accept your offer.

I will go a step further in the after talk follow up; I would ask for a list of those who attended, maybe the EO will be kind and give you the attendees email addresses. Make your professional outreach to the attendees, individually. Do not sell your product or service; sell your talk and your desire to find out more about what appeals to them. This gives you fodder for your next talk. Also, as part of your email, ask them if they'd accept a LinkedIn invitation from you so you can further your networking world. Not everyone will respond and that's "OK." Successful people will respond. 
You now have developed a personal brand most people will never achieve, most likely because they were afraid to try. Fear is a feeling some can't suppress while while others attack it. Those who attack either conquer fear or they learn to control it. Me? I like knowing I can control but having it present keeps me alert. It's all in how you see yourself.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP    


May 13, 2016

The Talk

"We'd like to welcome up to the podium..."

Well, it's time. Preparation has been completed and now... it's all you. All eyes are on you, all ears are open and receiving your words. Words, that if delivered correctly, will dramatically expand your circle of influence. 
What does that mean, "delivered correctly?" Talking is the only thing you need to do, right? Think about people you are engaging in a one on one conversation. 
  • Lack of eye contact? 
  • Speaks in monotone?
  • Run on sentences?
  • To fast?
  • Doesn't enunciate?
  • Low talker?
If these are all traits that most people would hate in a one on one conversation can you imagine those traits surfacing in a talk en masse? 
I'm not suggesting you make eye contact with everybody in that room. I am advising you to pick out four or five people that are spaced out where it looks like you are doing what your supposed to be doing; giving a group talk. Look them each in the eye, lingering for only a few seconds which will be enough to establish the "personal touch."

  • Bring passion to your talk. Going through the motions gets you through the talk but the message will be forgotten as soon as you give your closing. If you want to elicit a certain response provide the response for the audience through your own emotions.
  • Well placed pauses will give the audience time to digest what you just said as well as time for you to set up next point.
  • Slow down! Let people hear your message, absorb its meaning. It's not a race to finish it's a well traveled journey.
  • Speak clearly and powerfully, speak with commitment and speak with total confidence. You are the bringer of information, you are bringing your well researched knowledge to the group.

Next week, the closing and then the beginning.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP 

May 5, 2016

The "Pre-Talk" Walk

"Understand your surroundings." How many times have you heard that advise or have given that advice yourself? Paying attention to the road you're traveling, the woods you're are hiking or even the lake you're going to dive into all lead to this sound advise; understand your surroundings. 

When giving a talk to a group of people, whether it's large or a handful, you should always understand your surroundings. Familiarize yourself with the room. If it's a small group, the setting could be a conference room. Getting there early and finding the optimum seat helps you be in a prime position when speaking. This may be a committee meeting so you may ask for an agenda pre-meeting and, if for an existing committee, ask for the minutes of the previous meeting.

If you are speaking to a large group, again, understand your surroundings. You should;
  • know the time that your host would like you to begin
  • arrive early.
  • check out the sound system.
  • perform microphone checks because a clear mic is important. Make sure that someone is at the furthest point of room and can hear you clearly without you shouting
  • make sure the temperature is on the cool side. Even the most interesting of people will lose people's attention in warm rooms.
  • make sure the podium, or the area your occupying for your talk, is conducive to maximum audience engagement.
  • make sure your note cards are on the podium and the area is well lit so you're not squinting while trying to read in the dark.
  • ask if there will be a dinner/coffee service during the talk so your timing can be better prepared. There is nothing worse than the key point of talk being drowned out by wait staff banging plates.
  • make sure you have water by your side (you'll thank me later!)
  •  make sure you utilize the facilities prior to the talk (again, you'll thank me later!!) 
  • If you are at a podium, take off your watch and place it where you can see the face. Last thing you want is your audience observing you checking your watch but you knowing your timing is important. Just don't forget to put it back on after the talk.
When your introduction begins and your name is called to come up, begin to inhale deeply through your nose and lightly exhale as your our walking to your designated spot. Turn to the crowd knowing that your talk is prepared and the room is set to your ideal conditions. It is now "your show."

Next week, the talk.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP