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