Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Superior Presentations: Candid Interview on Biz Radio Canada with George Torok

Superior Presentations: George Torok Interview on Biz Radio Canada from George Torok on Vimeo.

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Avoid this Big Lie on Your Answering Message

“I’m either on the phone or with another customer”

How might you feel when you hear that recorded message? Do you believe that message? Do you believe that the person you’re trying to reach is actually on the phone or with another customer?

Let’s dissect that message to expose the purpose, value and credibility.

Covert Purpose
What’s the purpose of that message? Is the person trying to make you feel better by suggesting that they are busy and hence doing their job? Do you care? If you’re trying to reach that person and got their voice mail, you probably want to leave a message for them. You don’t really want to hear their excuse for not answering the phone.

That message doesn’t help you or make you feel better because it’s simply an excuse. So, who is that message really intended for? Perhaps it’s for their colleagues or boss. That person wants their boss and colleagues to believe that they are busy and hence working diligently. Not that the two mean the same.

Questionable Value
Does that message add value to the client relationship?  Was the information useful to the caller? Was the message believable? Did the message build trust? Did that message save time?

The answer to all five questions is “No”. That message wasted time, wasn’t believable and diminished trust.

Questionable Credibility
The message states that there were only two possible reasons for not answering your call. Either the person is:
a) on the phone or
b) with another customer

That suggests that if the person is on the phone they are not talking to a customer. The natural question is, “Who are they talking to on the phone?”

Are those the only two possibilities for not answering the phone?

A reasonable person might recognize that there might be other reasons for not answering the phone. 

That might be that the person is:

  • In the bathroom
  • On a coffee or smoke break
  • At lunch – early or late
  • Arriving late today for work
  • Left early today
  • Off sick
  • On vacation
  • Planning your next vacation
  • This a weekend or holiday
  • Posting on social media
  • Chatting with office buds about the weekend
  • Consoling a colleague about their problems
  • Updating their resume
  • Preparing for a meeting
  • In a staff meeting
  • Dealing with a personal or family issue
  • Or doing something else

As you can imagine, there are many reasons why a person might not answer the phone. It’s insulting to suggest that there are only two. It’s also likely a lie.

The message states, “I’m either on the phone or with another customer” isn’t for the benefit of the caller. It’s self-serving.

What should the message say?

“I can’t take your call right now” is one choice. At least it’s the truth but it’s obvious. But, it wastes time. You also don’t need to tell callers to “leave a message after the beep”.

Instead, state your name and promise. State your name so the caller knows they got the right number. Don’t use the anonymous “The person at this number is not available”.

State your promise about when you will return their call so they know what to expect.

Now that you’ve read this article what will you say when you reach a phone message that claims “I’m either on the phone or with a client”?

You might be justified in leaving this message “Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

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Friday, April 29, 2016

How to look and sound impressive without saying anything important...

Masterful demonstration of style while mocking substance.

This entertaining TEDx Talk is worth watching more that once to make note of the elements of style. Enjoy - it's less than six minutes.



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Monday, April 11, 2016

Steve Jobs Introduces Macintosh in 1984

Enjoy this video from Steve Jobs introducing the Macintosh in 1984.

He demonstrates powerful presentation techniques that still apply to business presentations. I suggest that you watch this video, and then read the review below. Then watch the video again to notice the techniques.

Steve Jobs uses clear language. (I've underlined key words.)

“You’ve seen pictures…now I’d like to show you Macintosh in person.”

That phrase does two things: it builds anticipation and personifies Macintosh.

 Then Steve Jobs points out that everything on the big screen will be produced “by what’s in that bag.”

“That bag” emphasizes the compactness and portability of the MAC. It’s also a memorable phrase.

Then he’s silent while he calmly opens the bag and removes the MAC and places it on the table. He remains silent while pulling a diskette from his pocket with a bit of flourish. Then he inserts the diskette into the computer and allows the MAC to take the show.

During this time, Steve Jobs remains silent. That’s a powerful technique that presenters need to master. When you want people to pay attention to your props or slides allow them the curtesy of being quiet.

Steve Jobs delivers this as a team presentation. He introduces the other presenter then stays out of the way while the MAC presents. Then the MAC hands the presentation back to Steve Jobs.

The MAC demonstrates its strengths with music, fonts, (even script), graphics and voice. The MAC even displays a sense of humor.

Notice the stage presence of Steve Jobs as he gladly accepts the applause of the audience after the MAC introduces him with the phrase “a man who’s been like a father to me”.

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Thursday, April 07, 2016

How did the Harvard Professor Abuse His Audience Prt 3

Harvard professor was arrogant and ignorant
The Harvard Professor appeard to be an ignorant and arrogant speaker. In the previous two posts you can read about the systemic mistakes he commited.  This is part 3 of 3 in this presentation review.

In addition to those three major errors (part 2), here are two more significant flaws.

How Many
He uttered the phrase “How many…” several times during his presentation. It’s a phrase used by novice presenters in a feeble attempt to engage the audience.

When done well, the presenter asks a question and expects to see a show of hands. To encourage the show of hands the presenter raises his hand to demonstrate the desired response. The presenter pauses and looks at the audience while waiting for the response. The presenter then acknowledges the audience by summarizing the response. Depending on the question and response the summary might be, “About half”, “Looks like 80%” “Only a few”. 

When you ask for a response from the audience it’s important to both acknowledge their participation and use the information for your next point.

Don’t bully the audience into meaningless activity to make you feel good.

Also, don’t use this technique more than three times in your presentation because it gets boring and feels manipulative.

How did the Harvard professor use this technique?

He committed almost all the possible errors. He didn’t use the information he gained. He didn’t summarize. He failed to acknowledge the audience. The audience quickly tired of playing this silly game so most ignored his questions. The professor ignored the discomfort of this audience and diminishing lack of response because he posed this question at least 10 times.

The End

The clock offered hope to the audience – the end was near. After the speaker ended his presentation he delivered one more careless statement, “I’ll answer all your questions.”

What might be wrong with that claim?

The damaging word is “all”. There was no way he could fulfil that promise, for two reasons. There were 200 people in the room and there wasn’t time to hear any significant number of questions.

The more relevant reason is that no one has the capability to answer all the questions any person might ask. How would he respond to these questions?

“Why have you been insulting your audience?”

“Why do you appear to be such a pompous ass?”

“What’s my favorite color?”

“Where are the remains of Jimmy Hoffa?”

“What are the winning numbers for next week’s lottery?”

You’d think a Harvard professor would know the difference between all and some. A simple litmus test for the validity of a statement is “Does it contain an absolute?” If it contains an absolute it’s most likely not true. Another way to put that is “if you’re using absolutes you’re probably lying.”

As if to test the professor’s claim, one person asked a frivolous question, which the professor ignored. He didn’t keep his promise to answer “all” questions. The end of his speech was marked by his failure to respond to a question after he promised to answer all questions.

The professor would have been smarter to say:

“We have time for a few questions. What points would you like me to clarify? ”.
“I welcome your questions about the topics I raised and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.”
“Who has a question about how to implement these ideas?”

An experienced presenter knows that if you want better questions from the audience you need to guide them to ask more relevant questions. An experienced high school teacher would know that because there are stupid questions. If you want your audience to ask smart questions, you direct their attention to relevant issues.

Another lesson that most successful people in any profession learn is to under-promise and over deliver. Don’t promise “all” if there is any possibility of not being able to deliver.

I believe his message was that successful business needed to be more aggressive in seeking opportunities and advantages. That’s a good message. But his message got lost in the overwhelming feelings of annoyance, insults and dishonesty.

Lasting Impression

Each of us received a copy of one of his books. I’m a voracious reader of business books but I still haven’t opened his book (months later) because I don’t like or trust him. He certainly didn’t build rapport or trust during his presentation.

A successful presentation would have excited people about receiving and devouring the speaker’s book.

He was the worst speaker that I’ve seen in at least 20 years. His presentation served as a gruesome example of what not to do during your presentation.

Disturbing Questions

How could an educated and experience presenter be so bad? If this professor was an example of Harvard’s best, what does that say about other Harvard instructors? More importantly, what can we expect in the quality of thinking and communication skills of Harvard graduates? Was Jack Welch’s testimonial taken out of context? Did Jack Welch ever hear this professor speak? If Jack did, what would Jack really say?

Those are not the questions or thoughts that a speaker hopes to generate from his listeners. But by the looks around the room and overheard comments, I believe those were the predominant thoughts in the minds of the audience. This presentation was a disaster.

Part 3 in this series of 3
Read Part 1

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