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Leadership Marketing Personal

Older, wiser, better. Hire us.

Do Something Great sign 9 4 18

This baby boomer is available for a FT job.

As one of the millions of “older” Americans, I’m a small business owner offering content writing, marketing communications, and speaker training services to clients. I’m grateful to partner with my clients as a freelancer. However, I’m willing to work with a single employer who could benefit from the years of experience, business savvy and skill set I would bring to the table.

The Dallas Morning News recently shared my op-ed about the challenges of being a baby boomer in today’s job market. Employers, don’t pass us by.

Read the Dallas Morning News op-ed.

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Leadership Marketing Personal

Public speaking – it’s all about the audience

Aud speaking tips

 

You’ve been invited to speak at a meeting. This could be something internal (within your organization) or external (for example, you volunteer with a not-for-profit organization and you’ve agreed to talk to a group of potential donors on their behalf). Following up on a previous post, here are some observations on audiences to help you become a more effective presenter.

Who are the people listening – or not listening – to you? Why are they there?
The event has been scheduled, the invites/notices have gone out, and you are the presenter. What do you know about your audience?

Audience analysis involves identifying the audience and adapting your presentation to them. This doesn’t mean “saying what they want to hear.” Audience adaptation should guide your content development and approaches to delivery.

Audiences can include reluctant attendees, indifferent visitors, agreeable supporters, and angry or fearful dissidents.

The “we have to be there” mindset.
For instance, I would contend that students in a public speaking class – and their motivation to listen to you – is somewhat mixed. (Hey, they’ve “got” to be there regularly, right? We refer to this as a “captive” audience.) In my experience, here are some of the reasons students are in class:

  • They want to get the information they need to do well on an upcoming test;
  • They hope the skills they learn will help in an upcoming job interview;
  • They want to get through the class to receive credit towards their degree and/or at least not get dropped from the course (if the teacher is recording student absences as outlined in the class syllabus they’ll meet the minimum attendance requirement);
  • They love learning.

The “who cares” listeners – uninterested or apathetic.
Perhaps a friend or significant other dragged these folks to your talk. Audience members are asking themselves “Why am I here?” Your biggest challenge will be getting people in this group to even listen.

The “we agree with you” point of view.
Most audience members share your opinions. As a collective group, your listeners relate to you, connect with you, and endorse your contentions and recommendations.

The “we don’t agree with you” and/or we’re angry or frustrated attendees.
What if audience members don’t concur with your main points? This is definitely a challenge if you’re trying to persuade. Can you establish “common ground” with listeners if they aren’t inclined to listen from the get-go? This – this – is why knowing about your audience is so important.

Here’s an example of a speaker at a recent community Town Hall, Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX) at an event in rural Frost, Texas. These Town Halls are set up as open forums for constituents to ask questions and hear from representatives. In this instance, Barton seemed to be unaware of the level of “resistance” he would encounter from audience members opposing his policy positions.

Listen to a portion of the presentation where Barton shouted back.

The bottom line.
Every audience is different. However, consider the potential “makeup” of attendees who have come to hear you speak before you arrive to speak. Tune in for the next post in this series on audience adaptation, some recommendations on ways to engage with your audience/s.

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Leadership Marketing Personal

Speaking and communication

expression
Through the years I’ve listened to plenty of speeches as a communications coach and teacher. I’ve worked with corporate executives to help them refine their communication skills and abilities. I’ve taught public speaking at colleges and universities. I’ve given informative and persuasive presentations to business audiences, too.

Public speaking involves sharing information with an audience to inform, persuade or entertain listeners. Seems simple enough. But let’s take a closer look and reframe our perspective a bit.

“Speaking” isn’t the end game. We are communicators. Speaking is the channel, the tool we use to communicate; writing is another form of communication. As a communicator, speaking can be incredibly powerful in connecting with others.

Through public speaking, we can share our feelings and points of view. We express ideas, personal narratives, or experiences. We may convey emotions or impart deep concerns.

What makes some communicators stand out when addressing an audience to persuade?

They inspire, enhance understanding, and influence through personal examples, credible evidence and documentation. They maintain eye contact with the crowd. They compel listeners to act. And that’s just the beginning.

I’ll be publishing more tips and tactics right here – verbal and nonverbal thoughts and recommendations – to help you become a more effective communicator in the public speaking setting. Stay tuned.

Next up:  we’ll examine your audience. Who are they? Why are they listening to you?

 

 

 

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Leadership Marketing Personal Writing

Human error and Cold War memories

pbs-doc-recounts-the-nuclear-accident-that-nearly-destroyed-arkansasCommand and Control is the long-hidden story of a deadly 1980 accident at a Titan II missile complex in Damascus, Arkansas. Portions of the film were shot in an abandoned Titan II missile silo in Arizona. [Photo: courtesy of WGBH, PBS]

In 1980 in Damascus, Arkansas a Titan II missile complex exploded as a result of human error nearly detonating the missile’s nuclear warhead, a weapon 600 times more potent than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. I recently watched a documentary about this event that brought back some childhood memories and changed my thoughts on “human error.” Check your local PBS listings for this Command and Control documentary on American Experience.

My connection to this story: as an Air Force brat, my Dad was in the 390th Missile Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base when we lived in Tucson, Arizona in the late 60s. There were several Titan II missile sites in southern Arizona. The Strategic Air Command’s 390th Strategic Missile Wing and its 18 Titan II ICBM sites around Tucson were activated in 1962; the squadron was deactivated in 1984. Following this duty assignment my father went to Vietnam, and upon his return, we moved to Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas where I entered high school as a sophomore.

The Damascus incident recounted in this documentary focuses on human error in a compelling way. Think about it – machine “errors” happen every day for most of us, big and small. Your coffee pot stops working unexpectedly on the day when you really needed that caffeine. On your drive to work, you run over a nail and your tire goes flat. Your newly installed computer software doesn’t work as promised.

Now consider nuclear weapons.

The thing is, nuclear weapons are just machines. And like all machines, sometimes they break, and sometimes, there’s user error. When the system that controls these civilization-ending weapons isn’t prepared for the inevitable technological and human screw ups, then we’re in real trouble.

According to American Experience Producer Mark Samels:

As safe, secure, well-designed, and well-operated as our nuclear weapons system may be, it’s subject to the X-factor—human fallibility. The most powerful weapons that we’ve ever created have a threat built into them. And that threat is us.

On another serendipitous note, in high school, I participated in local and state debate and individual events tournaments including oratory. This event required students develop a self-written, ten-minute speech on a topic of their choosing, informative or persuasive in nature, delivered from memory.

My presentation focused on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during the final stage of World War II. I criticized our country’s decision to drop the bomb describing the utter devastation and loss of life and suggested that surely there were other options to bring the war to an end. Admittedly, remembering the point of view I asserted was naive in many ways, but seeing the pictures of injured children and reading about the loss of life was unforgettable even today. Something else I remember – my parents knew about my topic choice, yet neither tried to dissuade me from developing this presentation. Even my Air Force Dad.

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Leadership Personal

Finding my way

orbit-sleeping

Love. Orbit belongs to Dawn Thompson, CCI puppy raiser. Holiday shopping is tough!

I’ve been struggling to make sense of what’s going on in our country today. Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is approaching. Yet I see so much hatred. So much division. What can I do?

Here’s my plan. Listen. Love. Act. I’ll do what I can to make the world we live in – together – a better place.

I’m volunteering to support causes I believe in, including refugee assistance. I’ll continue my work with Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support.

We can’t all see eye to eye; I know that. I probably won’t change minds or hearts. I know that, too. What I can do is show love to all, regardless of personal opinions. I’ll hug my dog Levi more often. I’ll continue to speak up for what I believe in; to do otherwise would damage my soul. I refuse to succumb to spoken and written words of ugliness.

I’m praying for peace and kindness. Join me.

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Leadership Personal

Goodbye 2015, hello 2016

HAPPY 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s about time to say so long to this year and look ahead, but not without a few observations and reflections on 2015.

  • The kindness (and patience) of friends old and new never ceases to amaze me.
  • I’m grateful for steady work as a freelancer with challenging work assignments.
  • Everyone faces challenges, every day – seen and unseen. Be compassionate.
  • Love all living creatures. Especially dogs.
  • Imagine a world without war or hatred. Consider what you can do to support this vision and turn it into reality. Pray.
  • Help others see the best in themselves. Encouragement doesn’t cost a thing.
  • Listen more and talk less.
  • Learning is a lifelong endeavor.

Here’s to a wonderful 2016!

 

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Leadership Marketing Personal

Improving quality of life for people living with paralysis

Derek and ShaggySpinal Singularity is leading the charge when it comes to medical innovation. The company designs connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D), and they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for The Connected Catheter. This is the world’s first semi-permanent, fully internal, smart catheter system for neurogenic bladder.

Derek Herrera, CEO and co-founder of Spinal Singularity, understands the value of this device for millions of patients who need the assistance of a catheter to maintain renal function from a personal perspective. A former Marine, he is living with paralysis from a spinal cord injury after being shot in Afghanistan.

Find out more about Spinal Singularity and how you can support this initiative.

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Leadership Marketing

2 questions to persuade

ask the right questions 2It isn’t always easy to persuade someone to do something, even when it seems to be a fairly reasonable request. You’ve heard all the excuses, at home and in the workplace (I don’t have the time, it’s not my job, blah blah blah). If you have kids, I’ll bet you’ve heard some pretty creative “reasoning” as to why something won’t, or can’t happen. I like Dan Pink’s technique to overcome potential objections to act. Check out this video, posted on The Muse.

Ask these questions to persuade
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Leadership Marketing

3 tips on how to use evidence to persuade

Speaker credibility

When a presenter wants to persuade listeners to do something – or change their point of view on an issue or topic – it’s not enough to rely solely on emotion to persuade. Speakers should also use evidence to support their contentions. Here are a few tips.

1. Cite your sources. If you’re using a statistic to support one of your main points, where did that information come from? Is the source reliable and trustworthy? If you’re the expert, fine. Make sure the audience knows about your experience/expertise related to the topic. (You’re not bragging; you’re qualifying yourself as a credible source.)

2. Connect the dots. Explain how the information you cite supports the points you’re making. Don’t just throw the information out there.

3. Use several credible sources to maximize persuasion, not just one. You may have a single expert you quote whose opinion or testimony supports your contentions in a powerful way. However, citing additional sources will bolster your arguments leading to persuasion. Using more than one source should also help mitigate audience members’ possible suspicions that if only one person, report or whatever supports your point of view, there’s something wrong. Why should they believe you based on only one source you cite? I’m guessing they want to hear more.

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Leadership Marketing Personal Writing

“Work” redefined: making a living has changed

WORK ISN'T WORK ANYMORE-As a baby boomer and the daughter of an Air Force veteran, early on I imagined I would find a job and stay in that job until I retired. It’s what everyone did, right?

Times have changed. Jobs have changed. Employers have changed. Where, when and how we “work” is very different than my father’s experience. He doesn’t understand why I don’t have a full-time job. (I’m a marketing communications contractor.)

Ross Perlin’s article in Fast Company offers a succinct summary of this shift – and explains how work is increasingly everywhere and nowhere.