Monday, July 21, 2014

Speak Up For Your Business - by Michelle Mazur - Book 22 of 52 in 52

Yet another book not on my list, but just released, and directed straight at those who read Speak & Deliver!

Speak Up for Your Business comes with an inherent promise - that you can take the skills within and improve your business, either your own business, or the business of your career. It's a tough promise to make, and tougher still to fulfill.

Broken into four parts, Mazur covers 'Speaking Up for Your Business Mindset', 'Crafting Your Transformational Talk', 'Speak Your Story', and 'Showtime'. Before diving in, however, she provides an introduction that prepares us for what's to come, both by building up her own credibility as a PhD, a coach, and a speaker in her own right, but even more importantly by writing in her own unique, transparent style. She's irreverent, rebellious, silly, and, above all, a fan of Duran Duran. And she owns it.

This may sound a bit bizarre, but it is a real treat to read a book by an author who, while taking her subject seriously, doesn't have to take herself, or even us as the reader, as seriously as most 'educational' books will. She's not afraid to say what she thinks, or to have fun with us as she brings us her content.

Love this. Even with all the purple.
This is even more apparent as she talks about, in Section One, 'The End of Sleazy Selling' and 'Embracing Your Inner F-bomb'.

It is this style that makes the book unique, enjoyable, and ultimately successful - while she covers familiar ground to speaking junkies, including her own formula for overcoming nervousness (six whole steps!), building a speech, insights into storytelling, prep work to connect with your audience, finding your why, etc. - her personality makes it a fresh and lively introduction to the newer speaker, and a breezy reminder to the veteran of what we may have forgotten.

Perhaps the most valuable section, to me at least, perhaps in light of my own current circumstances, is her chapter on practicing. She offers some unique ideas and strategies that I'll be adding to my toolbox.

Does 'Speak Up For Your Business' deliver on it's promise? Can a business professional pick up the book and then go out and deliver a better presentation? Absolutely. And if you aren't ready to hire her by the end of the first 25 pages, you will be by the end.

Will the average Toastmaster find value here? Again, absolutely. Can't figure out your next speech? Not sure your stories are good enough? This book addresses that and more.

Will a professional speaker find something to make them think? I hope so - frankly, there are a lot of bad speakers getting paid out there, and if we have to listen to them, is it too much to ask that they know how to tell a story, use power point properly, and understand us as an audience?

Now, before I get accused of being all sunshine and light, it's not without imperfections. Personally, I would've liked an occasional case study. While Mazur occasionally brings up clients, a more clear-cut display of before/after and problem-solving would have added some further credibility to her ideas and methods. She's also trying to cover a tremendous amount of ground without overwhelming us, or making us go pick up a sequel. Pt. II is a whole book for most authors, and I hope she goes into further detail in her next book, as 200 or so pages just isn't enough for all she has to offer.

As I often discuss in these reviews, Mazur's book is a wonderful case-study for those of us who want to be professional speakers. A Google search for the publisher shows that this is a step above a 'self-published' book (as mine are), but not officially printed by a major publishing house. This effects neither the presentation of the information or the authority of the source - something we all need to keep in mind.

It's also derived, as she admits herself, largely from her blog - Dr. Michelle Mazur - one I've seen transform over the last couple of years. It's a technique more of us can employ, as long as we don't simply reprint post after post, as I've seen a few other, more mainstream, authors attempt. If I wasn't a blog reader, and she hadn't talked about it, I would have simply thought 'book'.

I give 'Speak Up For Your Business' 4 out of 5 stars - a quality book worth picking up, particularly if you want to use speaking to promote your business. Enjoyable and informative the whole way through, even for this quickly-becoming-curmudgeonly speaking book connoisseur.

(Editor's note: Michelle and I have worked together in the past, and I count her as a personal friend. She sent me her book after I requested it, but I certainly would have purchased a copy on my own.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Instant Influence by Michael Pantalon - Book 21 of 52 in 52

I wonder if the person who recommended I read Instant Influence really wanted me to read the Robert Cialdini classic 'Influence', which was turned into an audio program called 'Instant Influence'?

Regardless, this is what I picked up, and I'm glad I did. The most important part of speaking is persuasion, being able to influence the audience towards your ideas, solutions, strategies, etc. One of my favorite books in this genre is Dave Lakhani's 'Persuasion - The Art of Getting What You Want', and persuasion is one of the core concepts discussed in any sales books, be it 'Ziglar on Selling' or Gitomer's 'The Sales Bible' or even, on a more personal note, 'The Five Love Languages'.

Michael Pantalon offers up a proven formula to influence others, backed up by his own anecdotal evidence, including trainings, employee interactions, and his efforts to get his dad to stop smoking. He presents it in a way that drew me in immediately, as he described his presentation of his ideas to a tough audience, and walked us through his efforts, obstacles, and ultimate triumph. Essentially, the book is written to persuade and influence us, not just inform us, which is both appropriate and a tremendous example to the rest of us looking at writing our first, or next, book.

So what's his process? Six questions:

1. Ask, "Why would you change?"
2. Ask, "On a scale from 1 to 10, how ready are you to change?"
3. Ask, "Why didn't you choose a LOWER number?"
4. Ask, "When you picture the change already having occurred, what do you see?"
5. Ask, "Why is that important to you?"
6. Ask, "What is the next step, if any?"

Questions designed to keep the subject from getting defensive, to keep us, and influencers, in touch with the heart of our subject, and to, answer by answer, help the subject walk themselves right into the end result we as the influencer want them to reach.

As speakers, pay special attention to #4 - picturing the change. If we aren't getting our audience to picture the result we're trying to get to reach, and to find the importance in it (Step #5), we aren't getting through the way we want to.

The book is filled with examples, and a large amount of rationalization and reasoning behind each question and how they may be answered. The best part? You can use it on yourself!

Seeing the series of questions, you might think it's overly simple. It is, to a degree, until you start considering the answers you can get, and the personalities you'll deal with. While some books serve to just add padding around some basic principles, such as the two recently-reviewed books, The Go-Giver and The Four Agreements, 'Instant Influence' makes itself invaluable as a whole, not just a process.

Available on Audible, which is how I listened to it, this is a must add to your library as a speaker.

5 Stars out of 5.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Imposter Syndrome

"I haven't succeeded enough..."

"I'm not a financial success..."

"I have too many problems..."

"I've never been the head of a (team, company, country, non-virtual universe)..."

"I'm too (young, old, whatever)..."

"Who would want to listen to ME?"

Have you ever said the above? Or a version of the above? I know I have. And sometimes I still do. I hear it from clients all the time. Not just some clients - almost ALL my clients, regardless of what they want to speak about.

It's usually followed by a discussion centering around 'what if my clients or my audience find out who I really am, and what I really haven't done?' and a desire to just throw hands up in the air, toss speaking dreams in the trash, followed by a quick trip to the refrigerator for some ice cream consolation.

Feeling like an imposter, particularly when we're putting ourselves and our ideas out to the world, is a natural feeling for many. Whether it started in childhood with 'be seen and not heard' or criticism from fellow kids or even teachers and coaches telling us we weren't as good as we thought we were - heck, even just the experience of getting an answer wrong after raising our hand - can severely dent our self-esteem.

The world tells us 'there's always a bigger boat' - someone smarter, someone prettier, someone just plain better than US - and we're better off to just lie low and let THEM do what WE wish we were doing.

It's safer that way. Less hassle. And the only person who knows we're a coward, a wimp, a fraidy cat failure - is ourselves.

Problem is, it isn't true. At least, not completely.

If you're sharing your thoughts, your experiences, your conclusions - you're not an imposter. "Even if you aren't always living completely by your thoughts, experiences, and conclusions?" you ask. Yes, even if. None of us is perfect. We don't always make the extra sales call. We don't always communicate perfectly. We cheat on our diets. Occasionally, we even straight-out fail. That makes us human.

The key is in our authenticity and intention. Are we telling the truth? Are we wanting to live by that truth? Perfection isn't required, but intention is.

You may not be the only source, or even the best source, but you are a VALUABLE source. No matter what their standing, what there level of experience, all speakers are imposters, to some degree, and you can almost always find a better expert, a smarter person, or even just a better presenter.

The real challenge is accepting the truth above, and then deciding how you're going to deal with it, how true you decide to make it, based on how you market yourself in your speaking career. If you're broke, and you want to tell the world how to make money, you're an imposter to varying degrees. Yes, you can be teaching a proven system from someone else, which makes you more viable, but you better be on your OWN way to financial security as you teach others.

If you're not in shape, don't talk about getting in shape, unless you used to be in shape, and can share how you got out of shape.

If you've been married eight times, depending on the reasons, you may or may not want to talk about effective dating, relationship communication, or the care and feeding of your spouse.

Get the point? Stay in your areas of experience, and don't promise more than you've accomplished.

I promise my clients will become better speakers, because I have, and continue to become, a better speaker. I don't promise they'll become worldwide millionaire speakers, since 'I is not one', as my grandaddy would say, but I can share the techniques I've seen from those who have done it.

I give keynotes about Winning Anyway, because I do that on a daily basis, in my relationships, finances, physical life, and even in my competitive career competing for the World Championship of Public Speaking.

It's still easy to feel like an imposter, knowing one day I'm figuring out how to fix my car and the next I'm booking a ticket to Malaysia, that in the morning I'm dealing with insurance issues and at night I'm emceeing a public celebration.

But that's real life. We aren't always who we APPEAR to be on stage, at work, in public in general. We're impostersExcept we're not- as long as who we are UNDER the appearance remains constant and true. As long as our integrity is intact, our character consistent, and our promises kept.

Be the best you for your audience - they're busy trying to be the best them, most likely. Give them your message, your life, your passion, your experience, your failures, your lessons - give them the authentic YOU, even if you're wrapped up in the imposter that takes the stage - so they can take reality back with them into their lives, where it will still exist, still matter, once they return to who THEY really are outside of the room you've spoken in.


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