Category Archives: @presentation skills

Remembering Steve …

Today, we have lost a legend. An icon. An inventor. A visionary. A kindred spirit.  A man who knew how to take technology and revolutionize the way the common persons even thinks or assume of what it could or should do.  He made us want to be passionate about a phone, a music player, and a computer.  Most of all, he inspired others to believe it is all possible.  He inspired me to change the way I present. The way I write.  And the way I communicate.  He helped me realize that it’s okay to go out on a limb, act on what you’re passion about, and trust that one day the “dots will connect.”

If we are all to take anything from the life of Steve Jobs it is perhaps to really take to heart my favorite excerpt out of his commencement address a couple years ago:

You can’t connect the dots looking forwards, you can only connect them backwards.  So you have to trust somehow the dots will connect in the future.  You have to trust that something gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever, because believing in that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.

You’ve got to find what you love … Your work is going to fill a large part of your life and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work and the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.

Rest in peace, Steve.  You will be missed.  Your spirit will last forever.



6 Easy Steps to Getting a New Client Meeting!

I recently met with a client of mine who said to me, “Daniel – I get a barrage of e-mail and phone calls every day from vendors looking to earn my business.  Their emails get mixed in with all of the other fire drills I have to handle and it just becomes noise.  It’s become a full time job managing vendors.  I’ve been forced to only meet with vendors from 3 – 5 on Thursdays.”  I smirked at him, looked at my watch and said, “Joe, it’s Tuesday at 1 though!” His response – “I’ll take your meetings.”

What the lesson here?  Learn how to move your way up the diagram from vendor, to credible source, to problem solver, to the holy grail of a customer relationship – Trusted Advisor.  The TAS Group is an incredible organization and has helped thousands of us within my company sell more strategically, ask the right questions, and close deals.  This is a very detailed subject, but for now, let’s focus in on how to get your cold e-mail read & at least book the meeting.

© Andres Rodriguez -

Step 1: Subject Line is King.

Don’t disrespect the subject line.  Long subject lines get deleted. Guess what’s new with your product get deleted. Here’s why I’m awesome gets deleted.  Here’s what gets mine opened: “Proposed Meeting 6/1 at 12pm”. That’s what you want, isn’t it?  Don’t sugarcoat it.  You want the meeting.  This is when you can do it.  Let them know.  Even if they don’t know you, they’re going to be at least slightly curious as to what meeting they’re missing, should this be on my calendar, who is this guy/gal I have a meeting with, etc.  People like my client get 300 emails a day, so don’t waste their time.  Take a look at these 5 best practices for writing great subject lines. even has a subject line tester!  Check it out!

Step 2: Make it brief

Okay, I’m guilty. I’ve been known to write verbose (but well-written) e-mails (and blog posts!).  It’s not going to get read.  It’s taken some time for me to really come to grips with this one since I’m so flowerly and bombastic.  Here’s a good way to keep it short in the beginning – tell them who you are, your position, and the purpose of your e-mail.  For example,

Hi Sherry – I manage the ________ for [ABC Corp]. Prior to working for [ABC Corp], I was an attorney, so I can appreciate your time constraints. The purpose of my e-mail today is to schedule a meeting. The agenda for this meeting is straightforward: 1 ____; 2 _______; and 3 _______.

Step 3: What’s in it for them

This is key. Like a trigger happy deer hunter, the reader is either ready to move his finger up the keyboard to hit delete or is actually intrigued.  If you’ve got them hooked, immediately tell them what is in it for them.  Something like this:

We are intent on assuring that we are vitally aware of precisely the issues and opportunities that you face in your work.

You need to find something compelling enough for them to want to spend 30 minutes or a lunch with you.  Figure that out for your company and you’re golden.

Step 4: Don’t make it a sales demo

If you are a car salesman, you’ll never send this e-mail.  So, with that said – don’t try to sell them in your first e-mail or phone call.  Be strategic.  Think of this one e-mail like putting money in stocks.  If you invest right, it’ll pay off with big dividends.  Likewise, don’t “bag dive” the very first time you send a note to this person.  You’re setting yourself up for failure.  Period.  That said, here’s the way to do it right – have a conversation with your client.  Learn from them.  Learn about their organization.  What are their challenges?  Ask the right probing questions about their organization designed to see if you even have a potential opportunity with them.  Remember, you need to vet them out too – it is a two-way street!  I make that obvious to them: “This will will not be a sales demo.” What does that do?  It takes their guard down and you’ve got their attention.

Step 5: Remember – YOU are a brand

Include your bio.  Some may beg to differ with me, but if I can pull down their photo and bio of them online, then they should have access to mine as well!

Step 6: Close them on the meeting

Ask for the meeting: “Does this kind of meeting work for you on that date?  I’ll call you on Friday to confirm.  Thanks in advance for your reply note.”

The big takeaway here – be brief. Make it about them. And you’ll avoid the delete button!  Once you get that meeting though, be sure to ask the right questions!

What do you think?  Do you have any best practices for booking that really important client meeting?  Let me know in the comments below!

3 Ways to Get Noticed and Promoted at your Job

I’m all about self-promotion.  I’m not ashamed to admit it either.  You know why?  Because every person is their own brand.  As Tom Peters who wrote the thesis for this in 1997 or Dan Schwabal, the young man who has taken what Tom did and turned the concept of personal branding into a machine … it’s all about Your Brand!

Combined with extremely hard work, it’s one of the reasons why I have had the success and visibility in my organization for 5 years now.  I work for a global company, so I don’t think it matters the size of your company.  I’ve found that there are 3 ways to get noticed and promoted at your job – or at least become a leader within your current role without the title of manager.

© Yuri Arcurs -

Self-promote. Self-promote. Self-promote.

Step 1: Figure out how to make the ordinary … extraordinary

If you’re in sales, like I am, it’s your job to close deals.  But take it a step further.  How did you close that deal?  What did you do differently?  Was there something that you did that others could learn from you?  Whatever you do on a daily basis – got an article published, won a trial, successfully diagnosed a patient and cured them, booked the band at the premier club – whatever it is – figure out something that did that can be extrapolated into a “big deal”.  I’ll give you an example.  I once closed a medium-sized deal.  Perhaps a blip in revenue bucket, but I found a way to make it huge.  Keep in mind that what I’m about to tell you is not insincere by any means – and that’s key.

If you haven’t read Dale Carnegie‘s life changing book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, order is today!  Dale says to be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise,” and with that, be sincere. So with that, I e-mailed my boss, my director, my colleague who worked the deal with me, and my colleague’s boss.  Quite simply, I described how this deal wouldn’t have been possible without the teamwork.  I go on to sincerely praise my colleague for her work on the account, describe what she did, and then naturally I go on to talk about how my probing questions during a bullet-point free presentation I hand crafted for the important meeting helped understand something that was vital to the success of the close.  I found a takeaway that could be used as a best practice for the rest of them.  So, what 3 takeaways do everyone on the chain have: 1) teamwork is vital; 2) creative, innovative presentations are a necessity; and 3) the right probing questions lead to a successful close.  Most of all – your email is then circulated by those on the chain to many other people they know to also celebrate your success.  Soon enough, you start get congratulatory e-mails from people you don’t even know!

Step 2: Find your niche, make it your brand, and be successful

Do a Google search for “personal brand” and you’ll find 1,190,000 results.  Why? Because people are finally beginning to understand that personal branding is huge.  Read Tom Peters’ ground breaking article on Fast Company to understand more.  You’re known for your “brand”.  Here’s a quick excerpt from that article:

You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop. To start thinking like your own favorite brand manager, ask yourself the same question the brand managers at Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop ask themselves: What is it that my product or service does that makes it different? Give yourself the traditional 15-words-or-less contest challenge. Take the time to write down your answer. And then take the time to read it. Several times.

He goes on to talk about comparing yourself to Nike, Starbucks, etc.  What are your feature/benefits? What’s your personal elevator pitch? Does it excite you?  Would it excite others? It’s taking the power of your brand internally and leveraging it for healthy power. Power to make change and influence others. Being a leader in that niche you’ve found for yourself. The benefit to doing this allows you to constantly “check the market” (i.e., your internal network) to see how you’re doing. Some people (like me) have employed 360 degree feedback assessments on what others think of me internally.  Marketing your own brand allows you to have more confidence. It’s being strategic so that if you one day lose your job, you know you’ve got a brand that can help you carry to your next job.

So what’s your nice?  What’s your elevator pitch?  Need help building it?  Check out Franklin Covey’s personal mission statement builder or check out Dan Schwabel’s Personal Branding 101 article on Mashable.

Step 3: Become a leader in otherwise boring conference calls

Okay, so this is only applicable if you’re subject to a multitude of what can ultimately become a barrage of monotonous, ineffective & boring conference calls at least 2 days a week.  If you are, you know what I’m talking about.  We’ve expected them to be boring.  We’ve expected that we’re going to multi-task.  Here’s the scenario: your boss or the VP of your organization has assembled anywhere from 20 to 2,000 people on a conference call to go over anything from a new product launch to revenue predictions.  It can even be your immediate team.  In either scenario, the moderator does their thing, asks if there’s questions, and then … and then … silence … deafening silence.  Then, in a way to break this uncomfortable silence, the moderator will say something witty, like “Well, I guess you all really get it, or you can’t figure out how to take your phone off mute to ask questions.”  Sometimes, they’ll go back to elementary school days and actually call on someone.

Here’s how to break that ice permanently – follow Steps 1 and 2 above.  If you follow that mantra, be prepared for that call, know the agenda, know who’s moderating, and then ask questions.  Pipe in.  Say something like this: “Hi this is Daniel in [insert title, department, city, etc].  I really appreciate you showing up [insert what was shown].  This really helps in a big way.  In listening to your point about [something], I was wondering if you can expand on [something].”  Add pizzazz.  Others will start chiming in and you’ll stop the silent death of corporate conference calls.  A good article was posted by Kelly Glass on Affinity Express on this topic and worth the read.

What is the takeaway here? Follow these three steps and you will be well positioned to either promote yourself to a new role, become a leader in your existing role, or even help you find and land a new job.

Have you used similar steps?  Are there others that you have used that have helped you become successful?

Simplify Your Life – 2011 Edition

Last year, I created this presentation, Simplify Your Life. I was humbled by the thousands of views, incredible comments, downloads, and even having SlideShare feature it on their website. Since I’ve been asked to present on this recently, I went through and updated, redesigned, added new content, and refreshed the deck. I hope you all like it as much as you did last year! Cheers!

Amazing presentation. Outstanding message. Now replicate and be prosperous!

Everyone knows that I’m huge fans of presentation zen masters like Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, Scott Schwertly at Ethos3, and of course, the master of them all – Steve Jobs (and yes, Al Gore!).  I love to design and give great presentations (see here, here, here, and definitely here too)!  It’s something I’m so incredibly passionate about (besides GTD)!

The movement is real.  The work that is resulting is breathtaking.  It’s sticking – and it’s about time.  Gone are the days of Bill Gates‘ like presentations – 12-point fonts, a thousand bullet points, and horrible clip art.  Welcome to the revolution – stunning imagery, bold fonts, and music that meaningfully goes well with the message.

Below is an outstanding example. Obviously, you wouldn’t present this to a client while you’re in front of her, but the message is loud and clear.  We need to take back old school templates and align ourselves with people who know how to do this correctly for assistance.  We can all be more successful with the right tools – and sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to get assistance from others who can already give outstanding presentations.

Enjoy the video below – and if you do ever need some tips on giving presentation … well, I just might know a thing or two! 🙂

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