Speak! The Class of 2020 Needs Leaders.

posted in: Blog, Uncategorized

Speak now or forever wish you had.

As college and university presidents cancel commencement and scramble to figure out how to reward graduates who have worked SO hard…I beg you to give them a gift greater than a ceremony.

Give them a commencement speech.

This moment in time is an incredible opportunity for leaders to prove that they are in fact leaders.

This moment in time is an incredible opportunity for creative thinkers to dig deep to inspire the future with words that matter.

This moment in time is an incredible opportunity for us to put aside nonsense and negativity.

Truth.

Hope.

Empathy.

Guidance.

Throughout history great speeches have been key equalizers in times of chaos and uncertainty.  Guess what?

We are in a time of chaos and uncertainty.

We may not be able to prop up our public figure at a podium, but we CAN give them a platform.

Zoom. Skype. Smartphone at the kitchen table???

It doesn’t matter.

It may not be perfectly produced.

It doesn’t matter.

It may not provide pomp and circumstance.

It doesn’t matter.

For the first time…in a really long time…the speech will matter.

I believe we will see established leaders rise to the occasion to offer their insight and experience and we will unearth new leaders who will enlighten us with their perspective.

And we will be better for it.

I hope every higher learning establishment is listening and reaching out to the people they have previously booked to speak and keeping them scheduled!

I hope every speaker, CEO or thought leader is keeping their promise to deliver their remarks with even more passion and attention to what matters.

Some speakers may fall short in this challenge. It happens every year regardless of what is unfolding in the world.

But, many will blow us away.

Many will provide needed comfort in a time when we all feel unsafe.

Many will leave our graduates and their families looking ahead instead of dwelling on what has been lost.

Many will have their message travel far beyond the walls of an auditorium because more people will hear them.

The loss of tradition and communal coming together leaves a great void, especially in times of celebration. I get that…and I too grieve for the gathering. But this is the new way for now.

Universities and colleges of this country…you can do this!

Speakers and speechwriters you can create this!

Parents, honored guests, professors and The Class of 2020…you deserve this!

By Kristen Daly

Stay In Your Lane

posted in: Blog, Uncategorized

“I’m not an expert but…my cousin heard that we will be in quarantine for a year.”

“I’m not an expert but…I thought I would share this news I saw on FB.”

“I’m not an expert but…here is what I think is going to happen.”

Stop. Please. Just stop.

I understand that in a time of unprecedented uncertainty the urge to share is great. We are all plugged in, logged on and desperate to capture the latest bit of news and information. However…when your sentence starts with “I am not an expert…” you are truly adding to the chaos.

If you ARE an expert, then great! Let me know your area of expertise. Let me know how you are contributing and how your credentials make you valuable.

Stay in your lane.

None of us have gone through this before. This is a new world. Now more than ever facts matter. The truth matters and saying “I just don’t know” might just be the most effective thing any of us can say.

My expertise is in communication. I am advising my clients, friends, leaders and whomever needs it, to stick to the truth.

I am developing and creating new ways to be useful in my field and to stay in my lane.

My advice as an expert… Manage. Maintain. Move On.

Manage the message. It is changing every minute. Focus on the facts…repeat them if needed…then stop talking. This is not a time to speculate or try an be a fortune teller. Use words that have meaning…and keep it concise.

Maintain. Stay connected and realize that what works today may not work tomorrow. CEO’s and leaders need to create a united front with compassion and flexibility. Listening to the team is more important than ever.

Move On. This will eventually be history and we will all need to march forward and pick up the pieces. Stay focused on your core values. Those do not change because the world has. Use them to stay clear in a time when nothing seems certain.

Communication is our best tool during this crisis. Thoughtful, truthful and timely communication.

No rumors. No speculation. No thank you.

Please be safe and healthy!

By Kristen Daly

Do You Give a SH*T???

posted in: Blog, Uncategorized

What are you trying to say and does anybody give a shit?

Really, I am asking not to be flippant, but because I think it is the most important question you should ask yourself when you are tasked with communicating with another human.

This sentence has become my tag line, my calling card and the best way I can gauge what a client really needs from me.

Whether you are giving a keynote speech, presentation to the board, writing an email or having a chat over a glass of chardonnay…what you say, how you say it… and better yet what is the take away, is what matters.

Not many people have the time or the brain space to digest and filter out everything being thrown at them, never mind take the time to dust off the important pieces. Think about how much is zinged at you every day. The emails, the texts, the ads, the chatter…your own voice!!!

Don’t contribute to the noise when it is your turn to talk.

Don’t be the guy who uses slick industry speak to sound smart.

Instead, talk about what you know as the truth. Save the jargon, know who you are talking to and why your words matter to them.

Don’t overwhelm your audience with busy slides that are a total distraction.

Instead, find better words to make your point so you don’t need a visual crutch. Dig deeper and find a connection to the content.

Don’t state the obvious in your first 30 seconds of opening your mouth.

Instead, start with something strong, weird or unusual to create interest and grab the audience from the start.

In other words, give a S.H.I.T.

S   – Show up. Don’t tell someone you are excited…actually be excited. Prove it!

H   – Hard Sell? Hell No.

I    – Inspire me, don’t try and impress me.

T   – Tell the truth. If you don’t believe it no one else will.

I truly believe every single one of us has something interesting and inspiring to say.

Has it been said before? Maybe. Is all information the reinvention of the wheel? Probably not.

But when YOU deliver it in YOUR voice with YOUR truth…it can’t ever be copied and can feel brand spanking new.

I give a shit. Do you?

 

By Kristen Daly

“How Dare You!”

posted in: Blog, Uncategorized

“How dare you!”

Three words recently spoken by a 16 year old who has turned the climate change discussion into an international movement and dinner time argument.

Impressive.

Greta Thunberg is trending across the internet and across the globe for her impassioned speech at the UN.

Some are standing and cheering for this pint sized planet pioneer who can make grown men cry. Some however, are vigorously shaking their heads in disgust at her bold delivery and audacious tone, believing this child is being used as prop for a cause.

Let’s be clear, I don’t care if you think the world will melt away in 10 years or if you believe we are all being “snowed” in a political blizzard. Not the point.

This discussion is about the words, the delivery and the impact.

It takes some real conviction and nerve to use the words “How dare you” in a speech. Never-mind the accusation that some have “stolen my childhood”. Wow! You better have some chops and a compelling follow up if you go there. And she went there. Like it or not.

Should you? Probably not. And here’s why.

Greta’s delivery, her narrative, her tone were all a huge risk. A calculated risk with a ton of strategy. Make no mistake that this is no “ad lib” moment. This girl is written, rehearsed and performing. And, there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is spot on! For her.

For her cause.

For her audience.

No matter which side of the topic you come down on…no one can deny that this speech was memorable and persuasive.

But why?

The “shock and awe” of her carefully chosen words mixed with her youth and demure presence make for a fantastic recipe. You NEVER expect a kid in braids to tell off an entire forum of world leaders. Moreover, it is fascinating and utterly cringeworthy to watch the audience recoil.  Greta’s face turning red, her eyes welling up with tears as she pleaded with world leaders was gold.

Gold for Greta…but probably not the appropriate delivery for most of us. 

There are very few times when the average Joe could get away with such a performance. Maybe Oprah could, but let’s just say the list is short.

So what can we take from Greta?

Three things:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Believe your own words
  3. Leave people talking about your message

Greta gets an A+ in all three. And because of that, her speaking is impactful and influencing people all over the world. Like it or not.

You DON’T have to have a worldwide cause to have a truly incredible and memorable speech important message.

You DO have to understand when it’s appropriate to put your foot on the gas and when it is necessary to pump the breaks in order to be heard.

Passion is powerful. Pontification is pointless.

As a rule, scolding your audience is certain death. I don’t suggest it.

However, taking meaningful risks and not being afraid of showing emotion and conviction in your content is what is missing from most messaging.

Political Pawn or Geo Genius?

Time will tell!

By Kristen Daly

Tell Me About Yourself

posted in: Blog

“Tell me about yourself?”

Short question, seems easy right? You have known yourself for a really long time so start talking! Quickly you rattle off your name, your degree, your title….then, there is silence. You swallow hard and look to the floor. What should come next? Glad you asked!

Coming up with your “story” and making it interesting to an audience other than your Uncle Phil or your mom is complicated, intimidating, and kind of weird.

I recently completed a project with a group 17 year old students. The Who Am I Project was 8 weeks of exploration, laughter, tears, hard work and lots of talking. The students were tasked with showing up for an hour each week in an effort to create a body of work to present to an audience of parents, peers and perfect strangers. The goal of this speech/essay was to go beyond what test scores and transcripts can say about a kid. This work would truly give an honest and accurate snap shot into their soul. What scares them, motivates them, makes them smile.

The project was emotional. The project was hard. The project was a success.

And, the project validated what I have always known.

Everyone has a story and it is difficult to tell. No matter who you are.

The Who Am I Project and what it stands for is not just for kids. It is for CEO’s and business owners and managers and anyone who has to go into room and communicate.

  • A company that can communicate their story with passion, vision, and accuracy will always keep clients and attract new ones
  • A company that can communicate a consistent story internally and externally will not only succeed…they will thrive
  • A company that can communicate what they stand for from the top down will never struggle in a pitch or in front of a podium because it is in their DNA

Creating a narrative that is accepted, digested, and hard wired throughout a company is crucial. However, it is often one of the things that is often most overlooked.

I am always amazed, yet not surprised, when I work with a CEO and ask them what the company does; who are their ideal clients; what really matters. Then I ask the CFO, the head of HR, and the receptionist the same thing. Almost always the answers are different. They shouldn’t be.

Each member of the team should understand the foundation of the narrative and then be able to bring their own flair and value to the conversation.

Your audience, your clients, and your new hires will trust you more…when you trust your message.

So, tell me about yourself! I know you have a LOT to say.

 

By Kristen Daly

What Are You Afraid Of?

posted in: Blog

What are you afraid of?

Tough question, right? Some of us are afraid to take risks…some are afraid of not taking enough. Fear is one of those things that can live dormant in your gut, then suddenly fester and take over in the most cruel ways.

Fear of public speaking is real. People have told me they would rather drink poison, stab themselves in the eye, or worse, than step foot in front of an audience. I get it.

I was recently at a networking event and a colleague came up to me and said I needed to meet someone.

“Kristen, this is Cecilia. She is the CEO of xxx company.” I greeted her and asked a few questions. My colleague continued.

“Cecilia just turned down a huge award because she was scared shitless to do an acceptance speech.”

I looked at Cecilia and she nodded that this was in fact true.

I was actually heartbroken. She did what? She let fear do that?

“You will NEVER do that again as long as you know me,” I said.Cecilia looked at me and offered a sincere retort.

“Thank you,” she said pleasantly. “It was silly to not do it.”

I quickly grabbed her hand, looked her dead in the eye and repeated my response.

“You will NEVER do that again as long as you know me.”

She heard me this time.

Fear is a four letter word for a reason and it sucks. We ALL deal with it. I don’t care if you are super educated, wildly confident, tremendously established, internationally published, blah blah blah. We all entertain fear at some point in our professional and personal lives.

So what do we do about it?

Great question I am so glad you asked!

First, we admit it.
Second, we own it.
Third, we find people to help us squash the shit out of it.

Cecilia gave up a HUGE opportunity to be honored, celebrated, and loved because she didn’t want to stand at a podium and speak her own words, tell her own story, and embrace her own success in public.

If Cecilia were my client, I would first let her know that public speaking is freaking hard! I would share that even for someone like me who is trained, seasoned and a professional…it is still hard! Then I would work with her on what she is NOT afraid of. I would make fear be the smallest emotion in the room and find out what makes Cecilia feel like the superstar she is. Then…we work. We write. We practice. We make mistakes and we do it again until fear is a little tiny speck in the back of the room.

Telling your story, sharing your ideas for you or for your company can be daunting. It doesn’t have to be.

If you are someone like Cecilia and would rather jump from a plane than give a speech…I get you. If you are “ok” with speaking but want to really knock it out of the park…I get you. If you are already out there speaking and have a solid message but know another set of eyes and ears will only make you better…I totally get you.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to shine. EVER.

So what are you afraid of? Let’s do this together.

By Kristen Daly

3 Cs Success

The 3 "C"s to Success

posted in: Blog

I will never forget the first time the teleprompter died when I was anchoring the news. There I was staring at frozen words on a screen. Nothing was moving…no words were coming and I had no idea how to save myself.  All I knew is that someone was on the other end of the lens wondering why I wasn’t speaking. After the wave of nausea subsided…I looked at the paper script at my hands and I read. I never picked my head up…my eyes never left the page. I just read.  Awful. Thank the Lord it was on only a 3 minute news break in between shows…but it was done. I had crashed and burned on live TV. I was never going to let it happen again.

Every day after the dreaded “incident” I didn’t just read my script…I made sure I knew the story. I made sure I wrote it…I understood…and I could tell it with no script at all.  It was way back then (circa 1996?) that “C3” was born. On every script…on every reporter notebook for a live shot I wrote “C3”. It signaled to my brain that I was ready to go…that I knew what I was talking about and someone would want to listen.

“C3” stands for CONFIDENCE, CLARITY, CONNECT. “C3” on my paper meant I had done the work. Many times it was scribbled illegibly but I knew it was there and it has guided me through my broadcast career, my public relations career and my consulting career. I write it on the shower door in the steam some days when I am pitching a new client just to remind myself! So what the hell is “C3?”

 

CONFIDENCE

Easier said than done right? To me confidence means you have the guts to get up there and take a shot. The courage to face the fear of the teleprompter stopping…and can still deliver the goods. Confidence doesn’t mean perfection. It means guts. I often think the word confidence can have a negative connotation when said. If you say you are a confident person…you can be misunderstood as being arrogant…snotty…or pretentious. That’s on the person who is on the other side of the conversation. It’s them not you. Confidence means you know your stuff…you have something to say and dammit the person on the other end better listen! Does it mean you absolutely nail it every single time? Nope. Some days confidence may be more abundant than others, but showing up with something to say and owning it? That is the first step.

 

CLARITY

Clarity in the physical sense means you are in the moment and your brain and your breath are aligned and all is good. Being “present” is hard. Looking at a room full of people and delivering a speech and staying focus is tough stuff for most people. What are they thinking? Is the coffee pot off? Do I have lipstick on my teeth? They think I am awful. It happens all the time…in business and in every day life. Remembering to breath and really doing it works. I always have clients take several deep breaths before and after we start working together. It seems so simple but we forget! It is crazy important to clear your head, unlock your shoulders, relax your eyebrows and go. Clarity also pertains to what you are saying. Having a clear, authentic message that is void of filler, nonsense and crap you don’t believe takes major work. Zeroing in on exactly what you are trying to say is key and takes work and practice.

 

CONNECT

Connecting with an audience is everything. Connecting with your eyes…your brain…and your heart. People connect with real. They connect with true. You don’t have to be a keynote speaker or quoted in the New York Times to have an important audience to connect with. Connecting means you have penetrated the layers we all need to jump through to have something you say matter, resonate, and be remembered. Whether it is a conversation with your teenager, your spouse or the board of directors…you have to connect to be heard. Connection starts with authenticity. Yes it is currently the most overused word out there but it’s true. Be you. Tell “you”…in your voice and people will connect with what you have to say. Also..know your audience. Who are you talking to and why do they care about what you have to say?

The three “C’s” all work together and compliment each other in so many important ways. Each person will find their own way to confidence, clarity and connection. It’s a unique path and is an ever growing skill set.  For me it is an internal check list and a practice that has helped me in all areas of communication.

The next time you have something to say…take a breath and find the 3 “C’s” to success and growth!

By Kristen Daly

All Good

"All Good??"

posted in: Blog

Every time you open your mouth and mention your company in public..it is there. Forever. It can be found and used FOR or AGAINST you until the end of time. One Google search of your name can reveal all.  Great! Unless what you said is not well thought out, untrue, off the mark, or just plain “not good.” Now more than ever you have one shot to get it right. One shot to say something useful…and if it is said well and to the point…you can ride that “Google-able” moment all the way into the PR sunset. If not. Oops. People now have the leisurely privilege of going back, re-reading, analyzing and doing it all over again. They might even share it on Facebook for all their clients to critique and add personal color commentary.
If you have not truly said what you mean and mean what you say (cliche but true), it matters until the end of time.

All publicity is not good publicity. Not any more. And that is why spokespeople and CEO’s need to be ready for what I call your “Red Light Moment.” That moment when the literal…or figurative “red light” on the camera shines in your eye and you are “on.” It is fielding that first question from a reporter and nailing it. It is looking into an audience of yawning executives and demanding their attention.  What are you trying to say? Who are you talking to? What are you wearing? (yes it is important).

Learning how to prepare for, and better yet control an interview or a presentation is learned. It is not something that comes naturally to most. It is not something that is normally taught in business school. And in my experience even some of the most successful and confident business owners don’t get it right and don’t take a moment to realize they need coaching.

So what do you do when the media comes knocking?

One…be thankful! With the news cycle as crazy as it is now? Congratulations you have gotten someone’s attention. Check that box.

Two..realize that all interviews are not created equal. Ask questions! This is your moment, your company’s future..take some control. Some things you need to ask:

Who is doing the interview? Believe it or not many people never ask. You should know who is asking the questions, do your research and see their style.

What is the angle of the story? Is this something generated from a recent press release? Is my company / product fitting into a trend piece you are doing? Are you in crisis mode and reacting? If you don’t get a firm grip on this from the get go you already have one foot in the PR grave.

How long do you need? If the reporter is going to take up an hour of your time…say no. Unless it is “60 Minutes” and you know this is a piece that is friendly fire and “all good” …set some limits. “I have a half hour, does that make sense?” Don’t fall into the time trap. More time equals more chances to blabber on and say things that don’t matter. And…time is money and your time is valuable.

Is this live or taped? Again one of the no brainers…but if you don’t know to ask you won’t! A live interview, such as a radio interview or satellite interview is tricky. Certain rules apply and a few good tips and training goes a long way.  If it is taped or will be edited…ask if you can see the final cut before it airs or goes to print. Most of the time (as they should), a reporter should say no…but it gives you an edge and let’s the reporter know that you know what’s up. And who knows maybe they will give you the opportunity to get a look before the rest of the world.

Am I confident I can control the interview? This is a question you have to ask yourself and have to answer honestly. In many situations you will not have to defend yourself or your team,or squash a crisis dead in its tracks. But you should know how to. Even in a vague company profile piece you should already know how you want the final product to shape up because you have done your homework and know how to weave your messaging into a variety of answers. You should know how to point out your strengths while not ducking from the “gotcha” moments that could scream out your weaknesses.

Am I prepared? Can you ad lib the boiler plate of your latest press release in a way that mirrors the actual written word? Do you HAVE a boiler plate? What is the headline in before mentioned press release and what are the three things that make it newsworthy? What are you willing to disclose when asked about company profits and what is top secret? If you can’t react immediately…you are dead. You will start searching for what you THINK the reporter WANTS to hear instead of telling the interviewer what they need to hear to tell your story.

Preparation works and knowing your brand better than anyone else AND knowing how to talk about it with a strategy and purpose will set you apart from the others.

Getting it right over and over again is hard. Getting it right the first time is crucial.

If you have had success in the media…that is huge. Great job. But I bet you can go back and look at your answers, your body language, and your missed opportunities to better shape the story and know you can do better. If you are still waiting for your first “Red Light Moment” breath a sigh of relief and know that help is there you can arm yourself with skills that you need zero in and make it count.

So is all publicity good? No…but all good interviews and messaging can be GREAT.

By Kristen Daly

Therapy

Do I need therapy?

posted in: Blog

I was recently having a casual conversation with a woman talking about what I do. She had the usual questions, “who do you work with?”, “how did you get started?”, “so you’re a speech therapist!?”.  I tilted my head a bit and thought about that last question. My first inclination was to laugh and correct her. Then it hit me. Speech therapist. “I am a kind of a speech therapist!”, I thought. It’s a hell of a lot more descriptive than media trainer or message development specialist that’s for sure! It got me thinking about what I do and how it works. Joining the words “speech” and “therapist” actually makes a ton of sense.
When I first speak with a potential client about business…my first job and the most important part of the process is to LISTEN. Much like a therapist in the psychological sense, I let the person talk, and thoughtfully begin to evaluate how I can help. I need to identify what is working, what is not. What is learned behavior and what is hard wired.  What is temporary and what is permanent.  What is the comfort zone and what needs to be pushed harder. What details matter and what is clutter.

The second step is to take that information and come up with a plan. Not a template, but a true long term plan that is crafted for that client and that client only. No two CEO’s have the same message, no two sales people will have the same pitch, no two speeches should be delivered the same. It is all about individual challenges that require custom solutions. Same in therapy. Yes, clearly I have had some of my own!

Finally I need to take the first two steps and create a “tool box” for my clients. Ways they can reach into their own heads after I am gone and be able to help themselves in real life situations. Messages may change, jobs may change, but good habits and solid “tools” stand the test of time over a professional life.
As I continued my conversation the woman began to tell me about her friend, the CEO, who had just sold a company for 2-billion dollars and was launching a new product. I handed her my card and said he should call me. “Oh god he doesn’t need any coaching…he talks all the time and he is SUPER confident,” she chuckled. That’s when I kind of laughed too. To myself of course. Maybe this guy’s is the best speaker in the world. Maybe he is in front of a camera days on end. Maybe he has been asked every tough question their is to answer and can predict the rest that may be thrown at him. Maybe. But I doubt it.

I really believe we all need some kind “therapy” at least once in our lives. As CEO’s, leaders, and just as people…we all benefit from someone else listening and guiding us as things change. Someone who’s expertise is different and who’s eyes see us in a totally different way and ears hear a different interpretation from what we assume to be obvious.

If I could talk to said 2-billion dollar CEO…I would say this.

“Congratulations on your success. Have you learned everything you want to learn?” I bet the answer is no.

Therapy. To me it means education. It is being vulnerable. It is accepting help when you are afraid to take it. It is realizing you might need help in the first place and being brave enough to go for it. Letting walls down and allowing ego’s to take a back seat is NEVER easy. Nothing worth working hard for IS easy.
I will probably never work with said 2-billion dollar CEO. He may never want my “therapy” or anyone else’s for that matter. But, I would love to take a look inside his “tool box”, because in my humble opinion…there is always something that can be sharpened.

By Kristen Daly

What You Are

Is it more important to know what you ARE or what you are NOT?

posted in: Blog

In my first blog I wrote about what I do. It’s important to know what you do and be able to articulate that. Agreed.  But I was recently preparing for a new business call and had a thought. “Why do people work with me? Why should this guy work with me?” They already know what I do therefore they know basically what I “am” in the professional sense. So what is it that sets me apart? In this case I decided that leading with what I am NOT might be the best thing I could do.

I am not someone who is scripted.

I am not someone who uses a template and inserts client of the month “here”.

I am not someone who only looks at the big picture…details…and lots of them, matter.

I am not someone who presents slides and bullet points on a screen because that is what trainers “do.”

I do not (or at least I try not to!) compare myself to anyone else in my industry.

I am not going to sit down, do a mock interview…and call it media training.

I am not going to tell you what you want to hear because that is way too easy.

I am not right all the time…but I know what works.

As I went through what I WASN’T…I zeroed on my own brand, my own methods and learned a lot about why I am different and why people work with me.

The next time you are looking at your brand, your new product launch, your next sales meeting…think of 5 things that you are NOT. I am willing to bet that you too will get laser focused on the details that matter most and what sets you apart from all the noise and nonsense that can clutter what you are.

By Kristen Daly

1 2