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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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Marketing Personal Writing

Community Voices, distinct views

 

Dallas Morning News

 

 

 

 

 

As a journalist and marketer I was shocked. I didn’t expect to receive this email from the Dallas Morning News in mid-February:

Congratulations, you have been selected for the Dallas Morning News Community Voices Class of 2018. I’m thrilled about this year’s class, a group of particularly strong writers and thinkers.

The note came from Assistant Editorial Editor Elizabeth Souder. I was among a group of 24 writers named to the Community Voices Class of 2018 based on a sample op-ed submitted at the end of 2017 (it was about my personal health care journey) along with my biography. As a Voices columnist, I can submit articles which will be reviewed by staff for possible inclusion in the paper.

Our group has already convened once to meet one another and pitch op-ed ideas. A diverse group of individuals with compelling stories and experiences to share, I look forward to learning more from these new associates in upcoming meetings.

Thank you, Dallas Morning News.

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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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Marketing Personal Writing

How to spot “fake news” on social media

Although the topic isn’t new, the recent election has recharged the discussion on “fake news” in social media.
fake-news-in-your-newsfeed

 
What is fake news?

It’s information or data appearing on various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter or other social sites – that readers often accept as real. Sadly, it isn’t necessarily true or factual.


What makes this “news” incredibly troubling (other than the fact it’s “fake”) is that a majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get their news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

Now consider students. As a former college professor teaching public speaking, I explained why key points and messaging in presentations required  – no, demanded – the use of evidence. Objective data and facts from reliable sources. We covered how to source that information. Yet effectively evaluating source and site credibility was an issue for many student researchers.

In a Stanford Graduate School of Education study cited in an NPR article:

Many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there, the researchers wrote. Our work shows the opposite.

Gone are the days of “depending” on others to vet sources, according to Stanford researcher Sam Wineberg, a professor in the Stanford University Graduate School of Education cited in the NPR news story.

The kinds of duties that used to be the responsibility of editors, of librarians now fall on the shoulders of anyone who uses a screen to become informed about the world. And so the response is not to take away these rights from ordinary citizens but to teach them how to thoughtfully engage in information seeking and evaluating in a cacophonous democracy.

We can do better. And we must.

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Marketing Personal

Speaker anxiety? Try this

Levi reads

 

Here’s a winning combination and it makes perfect sense to me. Connect “audience dogs” with speakers to help alleviate speaker anxiety! I love dogs and teach public speaking.

I’ve already shared this information with my friends at Canine Companions for Independence – an organization helping people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs. They opened a new CCI training facility just last year in Irving, Texas.

Communication is easier with a friend. Watch this video.

Woof!

P.S. The picture you see here is my dog Levi, an adopted terrier mix. In the interest of full disclosure, he isn’t a trained audience dog.

 

 

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Marketing Personal Writing

College grads, employers want these skills

COMMUNICATION 3

A recent article in Forbes discussed the skills bosses say new college grads don’t have. Writing proficiency and public speaking skills were among the top “hard skills” graduates lacked, according to a survey conducted by PayScale, an online benefits and compensation information company.

Sadly, I wasn’t surprised.

My experience as a marketing director in the corporate world – reviewing job applications and interviewing recent college graduates for entry-level marketing and public relations opportunities – was eye-opening, even years ago. Many emails, resumes and cover letters had typos, incomplete sentences and other grammar errors. And even when a job candidate was selected to come in for an interview (based on their resume, job app, and phone screen), their basic communication skills could be disappointing. (Yes, I know it can be really stressful as an interviewee – I’ve been there, too – but you’ve got to be prepared to handle an interviewer’s questions with confidence.)

Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking for a challenging job, an employee seeking advancement opportunities within your company, or a career changer, additional training or instruction may be needed to enhance your communication skills. For current employees, many organizations offer education/training programs for skills development or continuing education. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Read the Forbes article

 

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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