108 top tweets from #ragangm

The Ragan Corporate Communicators Conference in Detroit (May 4-7) was festival of presentations on Social Media, Speechwriting, Corporate and Internal Communications. Over 250 attended the event held at the General Motors Headquarters in the downtown Renaissance Center and hosted by GM.

Attendees generated over 900 tweets under the hashtag #ragangm. Since Twitter only maintains 10-14 days of content live they will soon disappear. Here’s the archive all of them.

I curated a list of the most interesting 108 tweets,adding links where appropriate for easy reference.

  1. Use Camtasia Studio to create audio “screen-casts” of apps – embed in departmental websites as training aids. Create animated preso library.
  2. Internal comms compete w/lots of entertaining options for employee mindshare. Videos & Photos need to be quality & entertain to compete w/Rolling Stone & People Magazine.
  3. Every internal web page should have star rating system and allow comments.
  4. When developing messages for employees, ask the question “What does this have to do with the key audience how does it speak to their concerns?” WIIFM at two levels for employees: 1) What does it have to do w/ me? 2) How does changing my behavior make my life better?
  5. Three steps to changing employee behavior: 1) Handle comms logistics – content, design, 2) capture employee attention and 3) do be relevant. Result = change behavior.
  6. Comms is responsible for simplifying complexity of business – diagram things.
  7. We can no longer have internal comms messages targeted to everyone – the branch office does not see things same way HQ staff do. Gen Y workers diff. from Baby Boomers.
  8. Every communicator (esp. long-timers) eventually stops communicating 4 their audience and starts communicating 4 their boss. Do whatever it takes to avoid this. Bonus be damned!
  9. 3rd party media training is often more effective. Execs seem more receptive and less defensive/dismissive about their advice. Hire an outside coach for faster results.
  10. People now have now gone from having ADD to ADOS – Attention Deficit … Ooh Shiney!
  11. Executives need to understand Gen Y. “Connect with the coming tidal wave.” Try reverse mentoring, people!
  12. Irrelevant information is not benign. Limited reader attn means messages must be focused on benefits or risk losing readers.
  13. Write for the range of target audience that has least understanding of your topic. Duh!
  14. 89% of journalists say they turn to blogs for story research. Lazy or smart?
  15. 78% of people trust recs of other consumers; 14% trust ads. This is why social media is so important. Who do you trust?
  16. 62% of employees who tweet, tweet from work.
  17. 66% of employers have monitored employees’ internet use; 1/3 of companies have fired someone (mostly for visiting wrong websites).
  18. Make sure to integrate comms channels with each other. Example given: The Petco Scoop blog.
  19. Wildfire has a fun ways – sweepstakes, contests and give-aways – to engage SM audiences.
  20. Ideal number of words in a graf before losing reader attention: 42.
  21. Listening is the most important thing you can do on Twitter – check out http://search.twitter.com/ and http://www.socialoomph.com/
  22. Speechwriter Rob Friedman: Eli Lilly’s main purpose is to show “the value of pharmaceuticals” – ask: what is it for your company?
  23. “A speechwriter is a playwright for the client – script them well”
  24. Era of destination website is over – archival ‘.com’ sites being replaced by social media.
  25. 68% of online content read by Millennial’s is created by someone they know personally.
  26. Check out cool tool PubSubHubBub.
  27. Real-time search engines can tell u the sentiment & reactions to ur org’s news. Look at https://brandmentions.com.
  28. Twitter is not a personal communication tool. It’s a news distribution service.
  29. AT&T uses Twitter Ambassadors found those already on Twitter and take that passion to help your brand in a real way.
  30. Write tweets in ways that add value to the reader to aid optimization.
  31. Augmented reality is the next big thing. @shelholtz: “It’s going to be huge.”
  32. Are u using http://www.evernote.com/ – It will change ur life.
  33. Polleverywhere – Cool live polling technology. Used my phone to txt a vote and watched live results on the screen!
  34. General Motors: Changing the public’s perception 1 customer at a time. Personal correspondence with GM execs. Actively seek unhappy customers.
  35. Re finding/responding to online complaints, “It costs less…than finding a new customer,” Says GM’s Susan Docherty.
  36. SM lessons learned by GM: Don’t be boring, don’t over-promote, cut the hyperbole, respond to people w/real people.
  37. Social media “policy” for employees: if you can’t say it at your daughter’s bday party, shouldn’t say it online.
  38. “Stop treating customers like a one-night stand,” GM CMO Susan Docherty. Great advice for all companies!
  39. “Emerging” media is now traditional media. GM had 8-fold increase in digital media spending since 2001.
  40. In communications, if you start with the consumer, you will do the right thing.
  41. Qumu – great option for internal communications webcasting: Ragan Conference using them.
  42. GM has “social club,” informal, regular meetings of those from all depts w social media responsibilities.
  43. Remember you (your comp. or org) are a publisher and you compete with media outlets.
  44. PR & Marketing need to have a ‘”happy marriage.” Audiences can’t tell the diff between the two. They just see you.
  45. GM lets employees spend worktime in Twitter & Facebook so they can interact w/customers, which is now part of everybody’s job.
  46. Viral is a phenomenon, not a strategy…absolutely true.
  47. Any GM employee can tweet about the company, says @maryhenige. Co keeps them advised of rules, links them to info & asks them to be smart.
  48. In the end – just provide value. Don’t lead w/your messages; community’s needs come first.
  49. On Social Media…don’t be a brand, be human.
  50. 70% of successful outcome depends on how well you communicate. The last thing u want is 4 execs to be hiding behind their desks.
  51. “SM is like having a kid – you can’t just leave them when they’re done being cute.”
  52. Writers are ditch diggers. Can’t wait for a muse. Get your ass back in there and DIG!
  53. Any speech longer than 20 minutes is too long. If they want longer. Tell them you’ll speak for 20, QA for the rest.
  54. How to determine speech length? 100 words = 1 minute is good benchmark. Anyone speaking faster than that needs to SLOW DOWN, pause for audience to absorb message.
  55. Speechwriters: Make 3-4 big points. No more. Get them from the principal in ur 1st mtg, or they’ll throw ur 1st draft out.
  56. Get a 2nd monitor for your computer (to monitor Twitter).
  57. Use flickr to spark yr creativity.
  58. Use flip cams for fast ‘scrappy’ videos (caveat: content must be good).
  59. Greatest gift of YouTube culture: low expectation for video quality. BUT compelling content + authenticity is extremely high.
  60. Using humor in Corp comm is not always a fireable offense.
  61. Keeping it real: Bullfighter: – eliminate jargon & b.s. in your documents.
  62. Hire a presentation/speech coach to help ur executives improve. Not overnight, but 3-4 months.
  63. Use http://bit.ly to shorten URLs and track clicks.
  64. Stay current: Read http://mashable.com/
  65. Do a short 2 sentence interview with multiple ppl and mash together for a good video on a single topic. Example: http://bit.ly/aqzoCd
  66. Create a presentation homepage for upcoming events, preview videos, outline, slideshare, ask for comments. Example: http://bit.ly/aWBAow
  67. Flip camera tips: Clean the office behind you; use a desk light to highlight face; watch for b/g noise; bump sound with Windows Movie maker post-production.
  68. Keep your language conversational. Test your writing by reading out loud as if you were talking to someone in an elevator.
  69. Writers: Get rid of passive sentences; capture the essence of your press release in a Tweet.
  70. Stop blocking social media from ur employees. Train them and empower them.
  71. Spice up internal comms: Roving reporters and employee film fests: uncovering talent in ur organization.
  72. “Who died & put IT in charge of employee productivity?” @shelholtz
  73. Amplify employee voices thru low-cost podcasting. Can listen at user convenience, develops trust and community. And cheap to produce.
  74. Journalism graduates today are trained to shoot, edit, and publicize. Get a dedicated staff member to focus on video.
  75. @MarkRaganCEO on why authenticity matters: “We live in the age of bullshit.”
  76. Useful podcasting tools: Wavepad, Camtasia Studio, Audacity, Levelator.
  77. On podcasting…the tool is not the message.
  78. Podcast Production Lessons: Cozy up to your radio. Get comfortable with being seen & heard. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
  79. Podcasters: Think like a marketer. Create full campaign. Don’t 4get your global audience. Measure every podcast.
  80. Podcasters: Your leaders make for great content. Look for your influencers. Let employees be the interviewers sometimes.
  81. Internal Podcasts: You’ve got experts in your community. Help them tell their stories. Find the moment when the mike goes away.
  82. Podcasts complement crisis communications. Can quickly be on the scene or respond to rumors. Easily done over the phone.
  83. Time length for videos is controversial. Brevity important in most cases. 90 secs or less. BUT if it’s good, ppl will watch longer.
  84. Executive communications is like a high wire act…eventually something will go wrong.
  85. Public Speakers: Common mistake – spending more time on slides than on delivery. Dry runs are important.
  86. Public Speakers: Conversational tone in a large audience doesn’t always work. Stage presence is important.
  87. Speechwriters: Beware of tongue twisters. “Red Buick, Blue Buick”.
  88. Speechwriters: Prep your exec in case their time gets cut. Provide a 60-30-15 minute version of the speech as a contingency.
  89. Understand Cultural Sensitivity/Diversity issues: Resource: Culture Crossing – Beware of culturally-specific analogies (e.g. Sports US= “4th down”; UK= “batting on a sticky wicket”).
  90. Think about mic’ing your exec when they present so u can re-purpose their speech/audio for other things (website, podcast, transcript, etc.)
  91. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized”- Sun Tzu. Especially true for the internet.
  92. @aribadler suggested we’ve moved from work-life balance to work-life blend.
  93. Avoid extended online debates with ppl who disagree with a message.
  94. 28 Best Praactices for virtual presentations, WebEx sessions: www.whatworks.biz
  95. Best way to brief ur exec? Know them, their style. Personalize ur approach and style.
  96. If your employees love what they do, make them ambassadors.
  97. Pre-flight checklist for exec-comms events available as .doc source: http://bit.ly/bzzoTh
  98. Blogs must be authentic. Don’t ghost write your CEO’s. Ppl expect authenticity. If they can’t write it, look for something else.
  99. If ur CEO is a bad writer but a good speaker: have him dictate it + ur comm staff can transcribe to the blog.
  100. Comm cascade often fails. Focus on interpretation + location! Help staff take the message, interpret, + pass it on accurately.
  101. Branding: Detroit is considered “gritty”. Baby Boomers equate that to dirty. Gen X define it as “authentic”. Detroit’s brand position: Detroit is where cool comes from.
  102. Ask your agency to pitch ideas they don’t think you’ll approve. Creativity will flow.
  103. Whether it’s online or in print. If you don’t know if people are reading it, why are you doing it?
  104. Interviewing tip: Don’t be afraid to go where your answer leads you and not where your question sent you.
  105. Complaints are inevitable in any biz. Look at them as opportunities to showcase problem solving and communication skills.
  106. Comms must compete for your employees’ attention – Paying employees gets them in the door, but that doesn’t engage and motivate them.
  107. Measure communications by business goals/objectives.
  108. Consider Prezzi.com instead of PPT: Animated visuals are dynamic and impressive. As shown in @shelhotz closing keynote.

Toastmasters Speech: You Say Tomato

Here’s a speech I gave at the Speakers Forum – an advanced Toastmasters Club that meets on the 4th Saturday of each month at the Concord Police Station, Concord, California.

In this 5-7 minute presentation I discuss the differences in pronunciation and meaning between English and American uses of the same language.

Interview: Phillip Van Hooser – President, National Speakers Association

“We must always remember that the act of speaking professionally is only a part of our individual journeys. It is not a destination.”
– Phillip Van Hooser

The Evolution of a Professional Speaking Career

Phillip Van Hooser Since 1988, NSA President Phillip Van Hooser, CSP, CPAE, has spoken, written, coached and consulted on leadership and service professionalism issues with groups and organizations around the globe.

On Saturday January 9, 2009, he presented at the NSA Northern California Chapter meeting. His talk, Uncommon Business Practices That Will Help You Re-Think, Re-Position and Re-Tool Your Way to Speaking Success, reviewed the evolution of his own speaking career and the lessons this holds for other professional speakers.

Van Hooser stated that there are five distinct stages in a typical speaking career:

1. The dream is born

Some fall into a speaking career by chance. But Phil has dreamed of being a professional speaker since he was very young. His grandmother was an early influence who told the eight-year-old he would become a Baptist preacher. That didn’t happen, but he did became enamored with natural orators: the preachers, teachers and politicians of his Kentucky childhood.

2. The journey begins

By age 15 he had started keeping a notebook on public speaking. He recorded what the speakers he heard said, then progressed to noticing how they said what they said — the ways in which they delivered their material.

3. A business materializes

Every speaker must choose a moment to declare themselves a professional. For Van Hooser, that moment was the afternoon of April 7, 1988 when he quit his corporate job. With the “confidence born of ignorance” he started his business with no prospects or speaking material. He did, however, enjoy the support of his wife Susan who has been his business partner for the past 20 years. Now — 2,800 paid presentations later — Phil’s advice to others considering a career as a speaker is not to quit the day job until you have material developed and clients lined up.

4. The work expands

Speakers need to stay current. Changes in technology and the economy mean that what worked at the start of our careers will not continue to work. We need to evolve personally and professionally. The secret, Phil says, is to listen to the audience. As speakers we might think we know what people like, but the audience will let us know what they actually benefit from.

5. Reflection is inevitable

Many older people, looking back at their lives, wish they had taken more risks. They also wish they had taken time out to reflect, slowing down the weeks and months that otherwise pass by in a blur. Many wish they had contributed something to the world that would outlast their own lifespan.

As speakers, we must take the risk of stepping outside our safety zone and learn from our mistakes. We must invest ourselves in the people in our audience, and reflect on the unique opportunity we have to make a difference to thousands of people. Finally, when we speak with passion and conviction, we’ll see the light bulb go off in people’s eyes and know that we have connected with them. We never know when something we say in a presentation will change someone’s life. It’s this possibility, Van Hooser says, that makes the hard work of being a professional speaker worthwhile.

Grandmother Van Hooser clearly saw something in young Phillip that has now benefited tens of thousands of people.

Podcast Interview

To hear what Phil told me about his role as President of the National Speakers Association, how American speakers are perceived internationally and why professional speaking is the hardest job he’s ever had, click on the podcast icon below.

Phil can be contacted at phil@vanhooser.com.

Guest Posting: How to Kill a Training Program

Eight Easy Steps to Make Your Training Programs Irrelevant

By B. Kim Barnes and John Castaldi

(Note: I used to work with John at Sun Microsystems. This ironic commentary on what not to do as a trainer contains lessons for training coordinators, workshop leaders and public speakers. Enjoy! Ian.)

We applied our combined 50 years of experience to this challenge—how to insure that your instructor-led training programs die an early death. By following these eight steps we can guarantee that you will never have to deal with an over-booked classroom again.

1. Call any required pre-class study “pre-work.”
First and foremost, if you call any pre-class assignment “pre-work” you will discount its importance. This will convey that the “pre-work” is not part of the “real work” that happens in the workshop. Besides, who enjoys studying in their free time, anyway?

Bonus: During the actual class, be sure to ignore the pre-work and avoid all references to the “pre-work” assignment.

2. Ignore lessons from media or game producers.
Television newscasts utilize many techniques to keep their audiences from switching channels. Video and computer game producers have mastered ways to keep their users engaged. In these media, viewers observe a change of pace, variation in tone, and a range of activities and movement. We are not in the entertainment business, so these techniques do not apply to the classroom. By staying frozen in both position and voice, you can be sure that more important work, such as answering emails and sending text messages, will occur during class. These days we need not worry about keeping our audience engaged. They probably will be engaged—just not with us.

3. Make sure slides emphasize quantity, not quality.

Since you are no longer printing expensive transparencies, you might as well get your money’s worth from that PowerPoint license. So focus on creating the greatest possible number of slides. And through animation, make sure that most of the slides do tricks. If you have enough items zooming in from outside the frame or appearing in Rockettes-like sequence, participants are sure to expect the facilitator to morph or dance. If a table has a vertical orientation in the slide, show it with a horizontal orientation in the participants’ material or vice versa.

Bonus: Don’t forget to read the slides aloud word for word; the participants are probably reading something else anyway.

4. Remember that the devil is in the details.
Make sure your lectures are full of technical details. Avoid telling stories; stories are just for kids, as we all know. To impress your audience, use esoteric terms and technical jargon throughout your delivery. Do not provide any definitions or explanations. Do your best to maintain the gap in knowledge between you and them.

Here are some additional ways to keep that gap open:

  • Change the terminology throughout the course, calling the same topic by different names. This keeps your audience on their toes (assuming that they have not fallen asleep).
  • Use plenty of different models for the same thing—you can’t have too many models of good communication.
  • Make sure the terms do not match those used elsewhere in the organization. For example, when your company has “trust” as a value, call it “integrity” in the class.
  • Include local slang and difficult words to challenge non-native speakers. And remember to speak fast; it’s good practice for them.
  • Especially when addressing a multicultural audience, rely heavily upon American sports and military metaphors. For example try “step up to the plate,” “punt,” “do an end run,” “blitz the opposition,” or “make your battle plan.”

Bonus: Reduce your slide fonts to 18 points or less, so you can fill every square millimeter with text. It’s just another way to get value for that PowerPoint license.

5. Celebrate training for training’s sake.
Don’t bother explaining why the topic is important to the company’s business results. Keep the conversations general and theoretical; avoid any discussion of their business challenges. Never ask participants to relate the skills or concepts to anything in their work life. Avoid any discussions where someone might disagree with you. Vigorous debate will reflect on your expertise.

Bonus: If any business or job issues are raised, quickly transfer the topic to a “parking lot” flipchart, and then ignore it.

6. Keep leaders out of the way.
Never invite your organization’s leaders to help you teach a session. The participants know they are in the “training world” not the “real world.” An organization leader or guest speaker might inject real world discussions. This will only confuse participants. Besides, you don’t need the competition.

Bonus: When conducting a class in another country, be sure to ignore the local leader. Don’t bother them by setting up a meeting, asking questions about local issues, or sending any advance email about the class. They’re busy people. Also, don’t worry about making any cultural adjustments to your program. Global employees are comfortable with American corporate lingo.

7. Lecture for 100 percent of the classroom time.
Avoid opportunities for experiential learning and feedback. Participants will return to work having checked the box but unlikely to try anything new. If they actually try using the skill, they may blame you for the fact that it didn’t work. Really, training gains popularity when it has all of the fun of missing work and none of the responsibility for actually applying new skills.

Bonus: By avoiding any practice in class, they are unlikely to gain competence. This way, they will be sent back to the classroom for more training—and greater job security for you.

8. Bury online learning resources.
And finally, be sure to provide a challenge to any participant who is interested in online follow-up. Make the access to online learning a puzzle. Be sure the learner has to log in at least twice, and needs a minimum of four clicks to access that important article or class material. People value more what they have to work hard to obtain.

If you follow all of these suggestions and still have a job—please let us know, so we can develop a training program for further development of these skills.

B. Kim Barnes is CEO of Barnes & Conti Associates, Inc.
John Castaldi
is a senior learning consultant for Symantec Corporation.

Stellar Presentation Slides

Thanks to Antoni for showcasing this excellent presentation on advertising from The Economist of Nov 22, 2008 ‘Managing in the Downturn’. As stunning as the graphics are, the conclusion (slides 56/57) is worth repeating:

There’s never been a better time to steal market share than in a downturn.Advertise consistently and intelligently, speak to the right people, and you can gain an edge over your competitors.

To win, you need to be an Ideas Person: with the right mindset, you can treat the downturn as an opportunity. With the right flexibility, you can change the game.

Win not by surviving the storm, but by changing the game.

The advantage of being a professional speaker in this economy

Note from the International Federation for Professional Speakers Newsletter:

“When the Economy is on a downswing, it is great to be a professional speaker. If your business drops 20%, you still have 80%. If you worked for a large corporation, you could go from a paycheck to zero and the unemployment line.”

–Dan Poynter

Fripp to the power of two

Robert and Patricia FrippFripp KidsMembers of the National Speakers Association (NSA) have long admired professional speaking coach Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE – one of the premier executive speech coaches in the world. She has teamed with her equally famous brother, Robert Fripp – the founding and on-going member of rock legends King Crimson. He has collaborated with, and contributed to, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Blonde, and Brian Eno. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine named Robert Fripp 42 among the top 100 guitarists of all time. As much as Robert is internationally-known for his brilliance with the guitar…he is a superb and entertaining speaker. Robert is as eloquent a speaker as he is a master performer.

King Crimson

Patricia and Robert have developed a wonderful program ‘How to Be a Hero on and off the Platform, from Beginner to Mastery in Business, Performance, and Life’ which teaches:

  • Differences between the reliable professional and an exceptional professional
  • How to learn your instrument and performing simultaneously
  • Why Universal Principles beat rules and laws
  • Specific steps to accomplish your goals
  • Habits to develop for personal and career success
  • Communication styles to model for your own conversations and presentations.

The Fripp’s are taking their show on the road, to Seattle on November 8, Los Angeles on November 9 and Phoenix on November 11.

Well worth registering if you are in the area.

Consensus: A group vision statement movie

I’ve had a lot of fun working with The Singer’s Gym, a San Francisco based group of musicians and voice coaches who are dedicated to inspired, connected singing. They work with professional and non-professional singers in an environment that allows each singer experience full involvement, spontaneity and vitality in the practice and performance of vocal music. They call this their Gym. They work out in their gym, challenge people, who get stronger — at singing.

Now, as someone who is tone deaf and never been able to carry a tune for more than a couple of bars in my life (maybe why I like singing along with Bob Dylan?) I was not working on my vocal chords with them.

Rather, I helped Ben and the team craft a Vision Statement Movie to express the essence of what they are, and what they offer. I used the technology developed by Malcolm Cohan and the Rocketship. We call it Consensus – offering any group a way to communicate their vision and inspire others to share it. The result is a Vision Statement Movie created by a group. The participants hold a positive vision for a specific outcome, or when a challenge is resolved, or an endeavor realized. Participants volunteer a Brave Statement of their own vision, and the movie is written, compiled and produced as the result of a simple hour-long meeting.

The result can be seen below. Take a look. Compare it to the usual ‘mission statement’ organizations and teams offer to the world. If you like what you see and you’d like to discuss how your team can develop a movie like this, drop me a line.

I’m interviewed by a Portugese blogger

PortugalThanks to the international blogosphere, I’ve been interviewed by a Portugal-based public speaker and Toastmaster. Francisco Saraiva is a young executive in Marketing and PR, working for the Port of Leixões in Northern Portugal. He heads the Oporto Toastmasters Club.

The interview was conducted by email. Check out Francisco’s wonderful English-language blog – it’s all about public speaking.

Obama’s speechwriter: don’t mention the war!

Cleese and Obama

The British press reports that John (Monty Python) Cleese has offered his services as a speechwriter to Barrack Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination to become US president.

Cleese, famous both Monty Python and his portrait of Basil Fawlty, proprietor of the Fawlty Towers guest house, calls Obama “a brilliant man”. One assumes his speechwriting would have the same sensitivity and wit as his well-known comedy scenes from Fawlty Towers, such as this one where he is welcoming some German guests to the hotel:

Basil: Right, right, here’s the plan. I’ll stand there and ask them if they want something to drink before the war … before their lunch … don’t mention the war!
2nd German: Can we help you?
Basil: Ah … you speak English.
2nd German: Of course.
Basil: Ah wonderful. Wounderbar! Ah – please allow me to introduce myself – I am the owner of Fawlty Towers, and may I welcome your war, your wall, you wall, you all . . . and I hope that your stay will be a happy one. Now would you like to eat first, or would you like a drink before the war . . . ning that, er, trespassers will be – er, er – tied up with piano wire . . . Sorry! Sorry! Bit of trouble with the old leg . . . got a touch of shrapnel in the war . . . Korean, Korean war, sorry, Korean.

This would go down a treat in the current political climate in the USA. The Clinton camp will be laughing long and hard if he gets the job.