Selling with Stories

Selling with Stories

Everyone says to use stories in your marketing. Stories sell.

Stories are necessary because they help us connect with our audiences. Stories make us relatable, and stories are memorable. In fact, Tenfold tell us that "people retain 65 to 70 percent of information shared through stories while only 5 to 10 percent of information is retained through dry presentation of data and statistics."

But not everyone has a huge, life-altering story to share, and not everyone feels comfortable being completely open and vulnerable in their marketing.

Thankfully, you can use stories your way. You don't have to share more than you're comfortable with, you don't have to share your deepest darkest secrets, and you don't need a huge tale to tell.

Your mistakes are stories.

Overcoming challenges are stories.

Things you've learned are stories.

Funny things you've seen are stories.

How you got started is a story.

Your favorite events and conferences are stories.

Anything really can be a story. 

Stories can be long. Stories can be short. Stories can even be pictures or video. 

If you aren't sure where to begin, create a folder on your computer's desktop and label it "story library." Then start adding to it. As you think of stories from your past, and as new things happen to you, write them down and add them to your story library. The story library will be available for you whenever you need a story for a speech, social media post, email newsletter, or podcast episode.

For one example of excellent storytelling in marketing, check out this video from Josh Cellars Wine: 

Your stories don't need to be perfect, elaborate, or earth-shattering. They just need to be authentic and genuine to you. Start telling them today.

 

Click here to listen in as we discuss utilizing stories in sales. For resources on how to tell stories and how to infuse your stories in your marketing, click here to join the Speaking Society. Your first month of membership is free.

Selling with Stories | Ryan & Carrie Sharpe | He says, She says
Stop Tormenting Your Online Audience with Slides

Stop Tormenting Your Online Audience with Slides

Endless slides during an online presentation are agony. Suffocating. Mind-numbing. Torture.

"Death by PowerPoint" is real. As a speaker, if your online presentations consist of slide after slide full of text and endless bulletpoints, you are killing your audience.

Death by PowerPoint, people.

Slides were created to enhance your presentation. They were not created to be the presentation.

Keep the focus on you... the speaker. Keep your presentation personal and human. Audiences need that human touch, especially right now.

The goal of your online presentation should be to connect with your audience. You won't accomplish that if you're hiding behind slides.

Do your audience a favor, and lighten up on the slides. Use them sparingly and properly by following the guidelines below.

 

Guidelines for proper utilization of slides in an online presentation:

 

1. Don't use slides as your notes. If you're relying on the slides for your presentation, you're using the slides wrong. Your tech could fail, leaving you with no notes, but reading notes off a slide is also boring. Your audience deserves better.

2. Keep slides simple and visually appealing. That means go light on text and go heavy on images. It's impossible for your audience to read and listen at the same time. Don't force them to read slides when they should be listening to you. If you do use text, make it huge and use an easy-to-read font. Overall, images are better (if necessary).

3. Charts and graphs, when large and simplistic, display nicely on slides. That's an appropriate use of slides because it's a visual illustration your audience will appreciate (as long as you don't cram too much information or text in).

4. Information you're tempted to put on a slide would make a better worksheet or handout. Read that again.

5. Every moment does not need a slide. Seriously. Your online audience wants to see you and interact with you. When deciding whether to use a slide, ask yourself this question: Does this slide say it better than I can? If so, use the slide. If not, don't. A handful of carefully crafted slides during a presentation beats a thousand wordy slides any day. Ask yourself why you're really using so many slides.

 

Examples of slides:

See the difference? The second example is preferable. And even the second example is NOT necessary unless the image is necessary. Don't include slides just to have slides. Each slide must have a distinct purpose. Each one must be vital to your talk. Otherwise, just don't.

With online presentations on the rise, and Zoom fatigue also on the rise, we need to do our best as speakers. Inspire your audience with your words, interact with audience members, and allow your message to be enough. Utilize slides only when necessary, following the guidelines above, and your online presentations will be successful.

 

For presentation strategies, along with communication resources you won't find anywhere else, click here to join the Speaking Society. Your first month of membership is free.

Start the Year with a Networking Plan

Start the Year with a Networking Plan

Ah, 2020... you sure screwed up a lot of things we all had going. We were all moving right along, networking like we should, and then you had to go and disrupt everything.

But a new year is here. 

To make the most of 2021, don't do another thing until you have created a plan, especially for networking. Odds are that this year you won't be networking in quite the same way you're used to. Many in-person events like conferences and "business after hours" have been canceled or modified, so it's time to think out of the box to build your network.

2021 will be full of virtual events. In fact, we'll be inundated with them. It's already happening. In just the first month of this year, I attended an online policy conference, a couple business "meet-ups," and my ongoing mastermind group... all online. If we aren't careful, we'll waste a ton of time with all of these new and exciting events. 

Choose wisely.

That leads us back around to the idea of creating a plan for networking in 2021. Don't fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to networking this year, and don't wait another minute to make a plan.

Here's how:

1. Decide what your overall networking goal is for this year.

Do you need more long-term clients? Looking to make quick sales? Want to build relationships that become referral partners? Figure out what your overall reason is for networking this year, and write that down.

2. Research upcoming events that will help you achieve your goals.

Do a Google search, look around on Facebook, and ask trusted colleagues for recommendations of events, both in-person and online, where you can build your network. Look carefully at each one to make sure each is relevant to your goal.

3. Determine how many of those events you have time for and can afford, and then prioritize them.

No one has time or money to do everything. We can't be at every event, nor do we want to. Decide how many will fit in your schedule and what your budget is. Then decide which events are most important to you.

4. Learn to say NO.

There will be a million and one opportunities this year. That doesn't mean you should jump at them all. Be strategic, and be okay with saying NO to the ones that aren't best for you.

The most important thing is to create a plan now. Don't wait until weeks have slipped by and then months. Take time today to work through steps 1-4 above and develop your networking plan for 2021.

 

For networking strategies and opportunities, along with communication resources you won't find anywhere else, click here to join the Speaking Society.

Start the Year with a Networking Plan | He says, She says | by Carrie Sharpe

Your Speech Needs a Point

Your Speech Needs a Point

When I work with a public speaking client, the first thing we talk about is their intended audience. We need to know who exactly they're talking to before we plan what to say.

The next thing we do is get to the point. This means we determine what their takeaway is. Yes, we know their topic, but a takeaway goes further. A takeaway answers this question:

Five years from now, what is the one thing you want this audience to remember from your speech?

The answer to that question is the point of the speech. It's the takeaway. It's the one thing we build their presentation around.

Most speeches are 40-60 minutes. As a speaker, you can only share a certain amount of information in that timeframe effectively. You cannot tell the audience every single thing you know about your topic. You wouldn't be able to cram your lifetime of knowledge into that 40-60 minutes, and the audience wouldn't want you to.

Instead, determine your takeaway based on your overall topic. Ask yourself what one thing from your speech you want your audience to remember five years from now, and that's your takeaway. That's the whole point of your speech.

Your overall topic may be "Instagram," but your takeaway may be "Instagram Stories are easily utilized to build the know-like-trust factor with your customers."

See the difference?

Once you know your takeaway, write it down as a statement. Print it at the top of your paper when you begin brainstorming ideas for the content of your speech. For each point you think should be included in the speech, ask yourself if it supports your overall takeaway. It it does, keep it. If it doesn't it, save it for a future speech or dump it altogether.

Less is more in public speaking. Keep your speech simple by making a point-- one point-- and delivering content that supports it.

 

We talk about this and other public speaking topics in our Speaking Society. Click here to join our community that accelerates your communication, connection, and confidence!

Your Speech Needs a Point | He says, She says | Carrie Sharpe
5 Ways to Ruin Your Next Zoom Call

5 Ways to Ruin Your Next Zoom Call

Zoom is a powerful tool to keep us connected when we can't be together in person. We use it for coaching calls, virtual coffee chats and happy hours, online workshops, and team meetings. The possibilities are endless.

The ways to ruin Zoom calls are endless, too. Want to end up the star of a recorded Zoom call that goes viral on social media? You'll guarantee your total humiliation by doing the following:

1. Don't tell your household you'll be on a call.

No really-- I dare you not to warn members of your household in advance. Just kidding. It's important to warn the other people in your house that you'll be on a Zoom call; otherwise, distractions and embarrassment are virtually guaranteed. Your children will scream and run into the room to play, or your spouse will get out of the shower and walk behind you in only a towel. Warn your household first, and fully explain your expectations. We find it helpful to hang a stop sign on our office door before we get on a call so our family knows not to barge in and to be quiet.

2. Avoid muting your microphone.

Go ahead and leave your microphone on while you chew, yell at your kids, and take a leak. If you don't like that idea, then be sure to mute your microphone when you aren't talking. Zoom users who forget to do this will end up with a barking dog, toilet flush, or other background sounds causing distractions. Zoom has easy-to-use controls right on the screen to mute the mic. While we're at it, we'll mention the ability to shut off your camera in case you need to pick your nose, take a bathroom break, or simply eat your lunch. Be sure your camera is shut off when you don't want to be seen. Check and double-check before proceeding with nose-picking and other private activities.

3. Choose not to use headphones or ear buds.

Everyone loves to hear sound feedback, right? Wrong. To cut down on sound feedback, always use headphones. If you don't, the speaker's voice comes out your computer's speakers and goes right back into your microphone as an echo that will annoy everyone on the call. A simple pair of headphones or ear buds does the trick.

4. Avoid checking your lighting and sound equipment ahead of time.

Getting on Zoom in a dark room and making everyone wait while you plug in your microphone is a joy. Um, no it isn't. Make sure you know how to use Zoom before your call. Practice all the features. Test how far away from your camera you should sit. Check your lighting and sound beforehand, too. Good lighting is essential so everyone on the call can see your face properly. The key here is to try it all out before you get on the call so you can make sure everything works properly, sounds great, and looks right.

5. Don't check your background.

Go ahead and get on Zoom in the most chaotic part of your home or office. Show the world your hot mess. Let's be real... Dirty laundry, piles of papers, kid toys, and a cat grooming itself probably is not going to be seen as professional by the people on your Zoom call. Do yourself a favor and take a look at your background before your call. Make sure your background represents you well. When in doubt, utilize a flat wall and a virtual Zoom background. 

A little prep work goes a long way toward ensuring a successful Zoom call. Avoid the mistakes above, and you'll be able to connect with others in a professional and productive way.

 

To learn more about virtual calls and other forms of speaking, join our Speaking Society. You're invited to learn more about it here

5 Ways to Ruin Your Next Zoom Call | He says, She says | Carrie Sharpe | Carrie Sharpe
How to Create an Online Workshop

How to Create an Online Workshop

You don't need to be in-person to host a workshop. You also don't need to be a professional speaker or presenter. 

All you need is a skill that others want to learn about.

That thing people are always asking you for advice about is the thing you can teach in an online workshop.

Maybe it's baking beautiful bread. Maybe it's knitting a special scarf. Maybe it's designing a website's landing page. Maybe it's tying fly-fishing knots. Maybe it's planning out a year of social media marketing.

Whatever skill you have can be successfully turned into an online workshop, and there's no better time. You don't have to leave home. Heck, you don't even have to put on pants.

Online workshops are the perfect choice because they:

• don’t take much planning

• are easy to do

• showcase your expertise

• build relationships

• teach something

• can grow your audience (email list or social media following)

• can generate income

Convinced? Awesome.

Now you need to plan your online workshop. Here's how:

1. Decide what your goals are. Are you trying to reach more people with a free online workshop? Are you trying to make money with an online workshop you charge for? Are you just doing it for fun? What do you want your participants to learn from you? Take time to determine your overall goals.

2. Decide on a topic. The easiest way to choose a topic is to think about this question: What do people ask your advice about most often? The questions you answer for people most often make excellent workshop topics.

3. Create an outline. Include your intro, bulletpoints, a conclusion, and a call to action. An outline will keep you on track during your online workshop. 

4. Plan whether you'll include screen shares, demonstrations, or just you talking. There are so many options, so figure out which ones will work best for what you're teaching.

5. Create handouts and worksheets, if applicable. These can be made available before the workshop for participants to work through with you, or after the workshop for additional assistance. Checklists and templates are valuable for online workshops.

6. Create an up-sell offer, if applicable. If you are using an online workshop as an opt-in or introductory offer, you may wish to design a relevant offer to sell to your participants. Think this through before your workshop so you are ready to sell it during the workshop.

7. Create and schedule follow-up emails. Provide a way for your participants to learn more and continue to connect with you. 

8. Practice on Zoom or whichever software platform you choose to use. Familiarize yourself with how it works and all the options. If you've never used it before, enlist a friend or family member to do a practice run-through with you.

Now that you see how easy it is to create an online workshop, get to work on yours. You can take anything you know and teach it in an online workshop either for free or to make money. This is the perfect time to host online workshops, so don't wait another minute... start planning yours now!

 

We created an online workshops checklist to walk you through the entire process, start to finish, so you don't miss an important step. It's available as an exclusive resource for our Speaking Society members. You're invited to become a member and get your own copy of that checklist here.

How to Create an Online Workshop | Carrie Sharpe | Ryan Sharpe | He says, She says
When It Comes To Public Speaking, Do What's Best For You

When It Comes To Public Speaking, Do What's Best For You

I lead virtual (online) workshops pretty often. One of my favorites is called Public Speaking for Business: Choosing the Best Format for You to Connect, Teach, and Share Your Message. During that workshop, I explain why public speaking is essential for business growth, what all the speaking format options are, and how to determine which is best for each person.

Every time I lead that workshop, I am reminded of two things:

1. Everyone has unique expertise to share.

2. There is a speaking format for everyone (it's just not the same one for everyone).

Recently I hosted that workshop for a group of professional organizers. Every single one of them knows how to clear clutter. They know how to take a mess and turn it into a simplified system of productivity. They know how best to file, fold, pack, store, and ship.

But each one is unique.

Each one has a different background, upbringing, family life, and job. Each one has her own history and education. Each one has a different reason for organizing. One may clear clutter for cleanliness sake, while another may clear clutter to help someone overcome the loss of a loved one. Some deal with mindset issues while others teach practical skills.

They all are professional organizers, but they are each different and unique. Because of that, each one should choose the speaking format that best showcases her goals, skills, and preferences.

They all should use public speaking (at least to some degree) to build their businesses. Public speaking builds the know-like-trust factor that is necessary for sales faster than almost any other marketing tool. But because each person is different, each choice of speaking format will be different, too.

Types of speaking formats include:

• Keynotes, which are more of a one-way conversation and can be more formal

• In-person workshops, which are more of a 2-way conversation and interactive

• Teaching an in-person class, which is more of a one-way conversation but less formal

• Online workshops/webinars, which are interactive and have the benefit of not needing to leave home (hello, pajama pants!)

• Videos, which come with the added bonus of being editable (good-bye, mistakes!)

• Podcasts/podcast interviews, which are casual and conversational

Each one of those professional organizers will excel in one or more of the speaking formats listed above. They each should consider their overall goals for public speaking, preferences, prior speaking experience, and speaking skills when deciding which one(s) to choose. 

What's best for one may not be what's best for another. Some people shine in podcast interviews, where they don't have to memorize or practice a speech. Some people shine on stage, where the entertainer in them comes out and they inspire the audience. Some are excellent teachers who find their sweet spot teaching a class, creating a video tutorial, or hosting a webinar.

No speaking format is better than another. Each one establishes expertise, builds relationships, teaches skills, and inspires. Just choose the one that's best for you, your business, and your goals.

If you need help determining which one is best for you, or you aren't sure how to get started with public speaking, come join us in the Speaking Society. Our entire community is waiting to help you achieve your goals! Click here to check it out. 

When It Comes To Public Speaking, Do What's Best For You
3 Lessons the Gettysburg Address Teaches Speakers

3 Lessons the Gettysburg Address Teaches Speakers

The Gettysburg Address was delivered by Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, to dedicate the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln's powerful words inspired his audience. We remember his speech this many years later, and as speakers we can learn a lot from it. 

Consider these three lessons from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

1. You can make an impact even if you aren't the keynote speaker.

Believe it or not, Abe Lincoln wasn't the keynote speaker that day. Edward Everett was. Everett was a popular orator of the day and was called upon to deliver the main speech at the dedication ceremony. Lincoln was simply asked to deliver a "few appropriate remarks" after Everett. But which speech have you heard of? Which speech do we still talk about to this day? Exactly. It's not necessary to be the keynote speaker to inspire an audience.

2. A speech doesn't have to be long to be powerful.

Edward Everett's keynote that day was two hours long. Seriously. Abraham Lincoln's entire Gettysburg Address was under three minutes and influenced the course of history. Everett himself said, "I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes." Enough said.

3. Slides aren't necessary. 

Abraham Lincoln didn't use slides while presenting the Gettysburg Address. Not only had slides not been invented yet, but they weren't necessary. The focus was on Lincoln's message. Lincoln prepared a powerful talk and delivered it without distractions like slides. They simply weren't needed. I'd also point out that most, if not all, famous speeches have been presented without the use of slides to distract from them. If you'll recall, "I Have a Dream" involved zero slides as well.

 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

 

Those words still make an impact long after the speech was delivered. Will yours?

__________ 

 

Click here to read the full text of the Gettysburg Address.

Want to hit the next level as a speaker? Join the Speaking Society to accelerate your communication, connection, and confidence! Click here for details.

3 Lessons the Gettysburg Address Teaches Speakers | He says, She says

We Went to the TOP of the Mackinac Bridge

We Went to the TOP of the Mackinac Bridge

By Carrie Sharpe

For any Michigander, the Mackinac Bridge is a 5-mile symbol of our state. It's the massive suspension bridge connecting Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas. When someone says simply "The Bridge," we all immediately know what he's referring to. The Mighty Mac is part of who we are, and it's something that means Pure Michigan, through and through.

So when Ryan and I were offered the chance to climb to the top of one of the bridge towers, our answer was YES.

But here's the thing: that tower we'd be standing on is 552' above the Great Lakes (Lake Huron on one side, and Lake Michigan on the other). Friends, it's high. Soooooo high. And there isn't a staircase to get you to the top... there are tight spaces to squeeze through, ladders to climb, and a lot of required shimmying.

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if the end result of something is worth the journey it takes to get there. In this case, the end result was definitely worth the journey!

When we first stepped out onto that tower 552-feet in the air, we weren't thinking of nerves, anxiety, or fear. We were too stunned by the view. We were, quite literally, speechless (which doesn't happen often for two people who talk as much as we do! haha!).

Fear is a funny thing. Sometimes it's rational and keeps us from doing dangerous things that would harm us, but other times it's irrational and can stop us from doing amazing things. 

I tell you this because the day before we went to the top of that tower, my blood pressure skyrocketed due to fear. Don't laugh when I tell you why. It was because I had a dentist appointment that day. Not even kidding. I was more nervous about the dentist than I was to climb to the top of that tower. I have an irrational fear of doctors and dentists that leads me to sometimes cancel even simple appointments like dental cleanings.

Irrational fear, friends. 

I can't always trust feelings of fear. Sometimes fear is helpful (hello, machete-wielding murderer running straight at me!), but other times I really need to analyze fear before acting on it so I don't miss out on something of value. Like healthy teeth. Or the views from the top of the Mackinac Bridge. 

When it came to the bridge climb, I was too excited to be fearful. And honestly, looking at the photos and videos now makes me more woozy than I felt when we were actually at the top of the bridge. I know heights and tight spaces are fears for many people, but I'm glad I didn't let anything like that stop me from climbing to the top. I would have missed out on so much!

And that's fear. It's kind of like that statement on car mirrors: Objects may be closer than they appear. When it comes to fear, the reality may not be anything like it appears in your head. The image may be totally distorted, when the reality may be absolutely remarkable. 

Take time to analyze whether your fear is rational (so you don't jump out of a plane without a parachute!) or irrational (like me being afraid of a dental appointment). You don't want to miss life-changing opportunities like giving a speech, being interviewed on a podcast, networking, or going Live on Facebook just because of fear. If your fear is irrational, work through it so you don't miss out on something amazing!

Check out this video of our trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge:

 

Looking for a supportive community where you can talk about overcoming fear and things like stage fright? You're invited to join us over in our Speaking Society. Click here to join.

We Went to the Top of the Mackinac Bridge | Ryan Sharpe | Carrie Sharpe

How to Give a Powerful Speech

How to Give a Powerful Speech

It's not hard to give a speech. People do it every day. But if your goal is to connect with your audience and deliver a memorable presentation, you'll need to put in some preparation and practice. Powerful speeches rarely "just happen," so follow these tips to ensure your speech makes an impact.

1. Know your audience.

Knowing who you're talking to is key. Know their basic demographics, but also know their skill level regarding your topic, their interest level in your topic (Do they want to be here, or do they have to?), and what they need to hear from you to move forward. Give them what they need.

2. Write down your overall takeaway, and stick to it.

Ask yourself: If this audience could only remember one thing from my speech, what would I want it to be? Write your answer down as one complete sentence. That's your takeaway. Write it at the top of your paper as you begin developing your speech. As you add things to your speech ask yourself if each thing supports that takeaway. If it does, keep it in your speech. If it doesn't, save it for a different speech.

3. Prepare notes (not a script).

Memorizing a speech is not necessary and may even sound robotic. It's better to sound conversational yet prepared. Create an outline with bulletpoints. As you talk through it, you'll be able to condense your notes further and further. Ultimately you want to become familiar enough with your material that your notes are minimal. Just a skeletal structure is all you need. The only parts of your speech that should be written out verbatim in your notes are quotes, statistics, and anything else that must be shared exactly as written.

4. Share stories that illustrate your points.

Stories are memorable and relatable, so you'll want to include them in your speech. Make sure you choose stories that are relevant to your topic and audience, and then practice telling them until you sound natural. Don't underestimate the power of stories... they are often remembered long after the speech when statistics are forgotten.

5. Have a conversation with your audience.

Move around the stage naturally. Use expressive (yet appropriate) body language. You want to engage the audience and make them feel like they're part of the conversation rather than passive observers, so talk with them rather than at them. While we're on this subject let me just add that it's virtually impossible to have a conversation with your audience if you're reading slides to them. Don't let slides take over your speech and wreck it. For more information about slides, click here.

6. Practice. Practice again. Practice more. Repeat.

Creating your notes is not full preparation for giving a powerful speech. You must practice. That means you must say your speech out loud so many times that it feels like second nature. When you get on stage for the big day, you should feel like giving your speech is "old hat." When you've practiced enough, your speech will feel like a familiar friend. Your audience deserves your best, and that means you must practice, practice again, practice again, and practice again. Get feedback, tweak things, and practice more. 

And then please practice again.

And again.

Once more after that wouldn't hurt, either.

To deliver a powerful speech you must know your audience, prepare properly, and practice until your speech feels so familiar that you could deliver it in your sleep. Your audience will appreciate your effort, and you'll make an impact for years to come.

Need to improve your speech or stage presence? Click here to schedule a call with Carrie to learn more about how she can help you achieve your goals!

 How to Give a Powerful Speech | Carrie Sharpe | He says, She says