10 Years of Business Lessons–Chapter 5: Oops! Did I Sell the Wrong Program?

On February 27, 2017, I will celebrate the 10th-year anniversary of the launch of my second business, Inspired Leaders’ Academy. This is a series of excerpts that tells the story of these ten years to help you navigate these same waters more easily and faster! Read chapters one here, two, three, four.

I did a lot of things right as I launched my second business (unlike my first coaching practice, where I did most things wrong). One of the things I did correctly was give my target audience a single focus for my business: my public speaking training.

They knew what I did and had just one potential action: to learn this methodology. I didn’t have an array of options. I had one. I cannot underscore how key this is! Your business “store front” must indicate just what you do, very clearly, no confusion. And the best way to do that is with a “signature program”; this is, at the start, the identity of your brand.

It bears repeating that being crystal clear with one offering is key to being successful early on. That one offering must be a program that has shape and form: with a name, a specified duration, a process (another key: a proprietary process) and very specific deliverables.

I could go on for an entire book about this, but sometimes less is more, so let me repeat this: early service businesses must guide a targeted market to just one main offering that teaches a proprietary methodology.

But eventually, a solo practice wants to develop an “ascension” business model. This means that you
create a second program (with name, duration, proprietary process and deliverables) that your clients/students from your initial signature program “ascend into.” In this new program, they are learning the next set of skills, or moving to the next level of transformation.

This is something Harv Eker taught us, though he called it having a “progressive line up of services.” Long ago, I began calling it the “ascensions model.” Same thing. To grow (vs. launch) your business, this is a must. Why? Because rather than always searching for a new client, you want to me smart and keep a client as long as possible. This reduces your marketing costs and the headaches that come with it, for one thing, but is another stream of income.

About three years into my business, I began to see a glaring need in those who were attending my public speaking training. Many would hire me to help develop their “experiences” (I taught them to use this word in place of ‘presentation,’ ‘workshop,’ ‘seminar,’ etc.) and the problem was revealed when I asked where the experience fit in the strategy of their business.

“I don’t know what you mean,” they would say. Essentially, they just wanted to give any old workshop or talk; they wanted to get out there with something.

I asked them what they hoped the talk would accomplish, what would folks do as a result of attending? To answer that, though, they had to know who would be attending. Most of them didn’t know. They thought in terms of “people,” not a targeted group. Then, when we discussed content, it had no theme consistent with their business; they really had no brand identity. Their “experience” was not going to clarify who they were.

Oh, boy, I thought. Have I been selling the wrong program? They’re not ready for the material in my public speaking training—their businesses aren’t strategically developed!

And so, I created my second program, which while logically should have preceded the public speaking content, was offered to those who had attended that training. My ascension model had begun.

I was smart enough, though, to offer this new program to those on my list who had never attended Secrets of Impact and Influence and soon I was teaching “12 Sentences” to new as well as familiar folks.

“12 Sentences” was unique. As a communication strategist, I knew that only good thinking can produce good articulation. And I knew that good articulation (what the business achieves and how it is different from all others) was job number one for any business owner. But for some reason, few understand how inadequate their articulation is.

So, this virtual group class rolled up their sleeves and dove into some seriously tough thinking, using my Nine Strategic Inquiries Manual as a guide.  Then, the course required them to take all of that good thinking and cogently answer 12 questions in single sentences.

These were the questions prospects wanted to hear the most. I knew that when a business owner can articulate in single sentences, s/he knows the business cold. This program was aimed at getting people to know, and then describe powerfully, the value and distinction of their business…cold.

For one year, I led both Secrets of Impact & Influence and 12 Sentences, and then phased out SII as a live training in 2012. This is when I was learning a few very important things about the needs of my market. The most important was that of all of the 12 sentences they had to craft, one stood out as the hardest. It was nearly impossible for them to answer: How are you different from everyone else?

I have exceptionally high standards for that answer and very few in the class were meeting them. I was not okay with this. They were; they thought they had a unique differentiation because what they had was so much improved over what they’d had. But I knew they could have something much, much better.

But how to get it for them? It took a while for me to make a pivotal decision for my business. I remember telling a colleague what it was, who responded, “Your integrity is going to cost you.”

I’ll tell you what it is next chapter. This is a question you may face, too.

So, what are you taking away from this chapter? Here is a summary. Be sure.

  1. your business has a single focus
  2. and that it is a program–with a name, duration, deliverables and…
  3. …a proprietary process.
  4. Be sure to develop an ascension business model
  5. that your business is strategically developed!
  6. that it is different from everything else offered in your field!
  7. that you have done rigorous thinking before you articulate your value!
  8. that you never forget this: Articulating your value is job #1!!! You need to be able to do it in single cogent and concise sentences. And never assume you are doing it well unless you get conversions.

“The greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”
-George Bernard Shaw

Part 3 Business is Different For You: Don’t Do This!


So, did you do it?  Did you go into the fields last night and have your Scarlett O’Hara moment? Did you feel that full-bodied determination to get out from the middle-of-the-curve, where everyone is okay with average?

Did you feel the hope and belief in something so much bigger for your life and your business than that?

Did you then cut-off all other options? Burn your boats? (Read part 2 here.)

I told you yesterday that if I’d had time, I would have stimulated a reckoning like this with my lackluster audience (read part 1 post here), who revealed that, deep down, good enough might just be good enough for them. Even though they’d been called to so much greater. Even though they were born to lead.

If you’d been in that room while I facilitated such a reckoning—but decided to sit it out, I’d have lost it again: you have the chance to leave average and ordinary and you’re staying in it?

So, for all of our sake’s, I’m going to assume that you went into the arid fields of your business last night and declared, “As God is my witness, I will never ___________ again!!”

And now that you are all dressed up, let’s give you some place NEW to go. Your decision to leave the crowd behind must be rewarded—and sustained—by much, much better solutions.

NonConformityWomenFashionLet’s remember what we’re achieving here by leaving the pack: the ability to be seen, to have your message heard over the roar of thousands of competing voices. The capacity to honor the Impulse that brought you to this work in the first place, which isn’t possible when you’re looking and sounding like everyone else and offering superficial, cookie-cutter business brands, packages, workshops and presentations.

So, now that you have made the courageous decision to walk away from the middle that most everyone else calls home–how do you do it? How do you stand out?

Well, not the way you’ve been taught to. Business is different for you, so you have to do business differently—which means, giving up strategies meant for everyone else.

How many of these techniques for differentiating yourself in business have you heard?

  • Stand out with your personality. Wear some signature clothing item, or accentuate your heritage, or embellish your attitude—maybe your in-your-face irreverence or quick-witted humor.
  • Stand out with your past career or adventures. You’ve been a mountain climber, so be known for helping others scale the highest peaks in their own life. Or you once were a musician, so you should help others sing their life’s song.
  • Stand out by merging credentials with a contrasting industry. You are known for having a PhD in theology but consult to corporate clients. Or you’re known for uniquely bringing your experience as a high school principal into coaching political leaders.
  • Stand out with a narrow target market. You are known for working with mothers of newborns, or with teenagers, or young couples or retirees. Now, don’t get me wrong—every business needs a narrow market!!! But in this typical strategy, you’re known for it.
  • Stand out with your unique work style. You lead education cruises or do wilderness, beach or equine coaching.
  • Stand out with your specialty. I’m a divorce coach, an ADHD therapist, a career consultant, and EFT practitioner, and on and on.

These are familiar to you, right? Straight out of the differentiation handbook.

And sometimes they workfor much the same reason that our eyes are drawn to bright, shiny objects: they have flash-appeal. But they do not last.

Furthermore, there’s a MUCH bigger problem with all of these. Can you guess what it is?

All of them are much too superficial for what you are here to do. Again—you are a different BREED of entrepreneur; a “transformation artist.” None of these brings out the voice of the Impulse.

That voice is a leader’s voice. And it’s YOUR voice.

And it’s that voice that will differentiate you in a way all of these other strategies NEVER, EVER will.

You have something the world needs–and it won’t get it unless you lead.

Business is different for you, so you have to do business differently.

Go ahead, repeat after me:  “Things are different for me.”

Yes, they are. Now this: “Leadership is going to differentiate me!”

Click here to continue this 5-day story-series and find out just what kind of leadership will set you far apart…

Words That Impact and Influence

The other day, a talk radio guest was speaking about inmates and said starkly that “having a portion of our population in cages” impacts all of us deeply. I’ve heard the term “prison,” “jail,” “correctional facility,” and “cell” to describe where our inmates live, but never the term “cage.” It is a word that brings a vivid picture to mind that I have not been able to forget—an image that none of the other words (some could call them euphemisms)—have ever painted for me, and therefore, have had little to no emotional impact on me. The word “cages” sparked an outrage and an awakening in me.

Last August, my guy and I were in Jasper, British Columbia and saw the most astonishing sight—not a moose and not a bear, both of which we truly were
hoping to see—but a species of a whole other kind, one that exists no where else in North America: police cars with Peace Officers painted on the sides.
And guess what? The label has—like all labels do—trickled down into their very behavior.

I was double-parked in the town one afternoon and one pulled up alongside me. I was immediately awash with guilt (conditioning) and fully expecting him
to scold me. I waved that I was sorry and was about to move. He smiled broadly and waved back, as if to say, “No worries. I was just checking in to see if you were all right.” A Peace Officer indeed. Words are powerful things.

There isn’t a place in our lives—not even in the privacy of our own minds— where words do not exist. They are our lives. They inform our behavior, our choices, our reactions. Words matter because words affect. They either affect nothing because they’re lame–or they influence; they “spark”—revolutions, awakenings, action, transformation, as evidenced by my two examples above.

As a business owner, words are your business. You don’t have a business without words: you’ve gathered words to help you think about what you do,
and summoned words to describe what you do. You speak words in networking events, presentations and videos–and you write words, on websites, blogs and social media. And they either cause no effect—or they influence.

Washington spends millions of dollars hiring political consultants to form the right words to convey the ideas they seek to promulgate. A change was made years ago to change the label for Democrats from “liberal” to “progressive.”
Words shift and shape entire world views and, again, millions of dollars is spent on word architects to do that job because leaders have infinite respect for the art and science of persuasive language, for the truth that there are cold words and warm words; clinical words and emotional words; abstract words and vivid words—and they know if they get it wrong, they lose the race.

Same with you: if you get your word-choice wrong in presenting your business, you lose the race. There’s simply no way around it. It’s not smart to be in denial about that. Words matter. At the same time, it can also be hugely liberating to know that the most likely reason you’re struggling at all is because you’re choosing the wrong words.



I have studied the microscopic subtleties of language and written prolifically
my whole life, starting with my first short-story in first grade, then moving into
poetry, then onto copywriting on Madison Avenue, then onto novel writing,
then non-fiction writing, then back into copywriting for my business and my

If there’s one thing I know, it’s words. And my passion—my crazy, soul-bursting
passion—is language that influences. Because I want to change this world
and words are the things that do it.

Words that “spark.”


Last week, I led a Linked-In
and spotted instantly
words that said nothing and
therefore did nothing
. Here’s
an example.


One woman wrote in her elevator pitch: I work with women who struggle with
what I call the [
I’ve changed this name to protect her privacy] “Marie Antoinette
Syndrome:” successful career women who have difficulties with their interpersonal
relationships. I help them develop empowering solutions that transform their situation
or circumstances.”

Here’s what I wrote her (after a few kind words):

XX, there are some unclear words that you want to define: “difficulties”
and “transform.” (I’m wondering if you meant “transform”? Even if you
did, that would need to be better clarified.)

Here’s a tip I give often: You want your words to bring clear pictures to
mind. But not just ANY picture, the SAME picture–to 1,000 people. If your
words mean something different to all 1,000 people, you will get puzzled
looks and worse, polite phrases like, “I’ll think about it.”

So, the problem is that the world “difficulties” will mean something
different to 1,000 people. You want to mean the SAME thing to all 1,000,
which will begin to happen if you define the types of difficulties. “Difficulty
expressing love
” perhaps or “Difficulty keeping friendships.” These bring
pictures to mind–and while 1,000 people may imagine these two types
of difficulties slightly differently, it’s far clearer than before.

And then, you want to add an explanation for why they’re having that
difficulty (i.e. expressing love): “because ____” (because they grew up
in a motherless household
), which further spotlights who your market is,
which is essential.

And as for the word “transform”–it doesn’t mean anything at without a
qualifier. So, insert the word “by ____” and explain how you help them
transform: “by examining their fear of intimacy” for instance. This would
highlight your specialty.

What words are you putting out there—into the public—that just don’t do the job
of influencing? It’s scary to think about, given how constant the flow of words are
in business. Are you getting it right?

To see if a free class is available at this time, click here..


This free class will illuminate for you, by way of example, words that spark people
to act and to BUY—and words that do NOT! If you want to bring your best articulation
to the table for a chance under my scalpel, I’ll be opening the lines for that.

Let me leave you with these words.

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are
no exceptions to this rule.”

Stephen King

“As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds
of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.”

Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

And I will add: “Words can repel, bore, confuse and distract. To succeed,
you’ve got to get them right!”

Determining Your Target Market: 6 Ways You’ve Probably Not Considered–Part 5

# 5: Your 4 Business Roles

As a service-based business owner, there are 4 roles you will likely play in your career. But only one is where you want to spend most of your time. One is the best option given your mission. One is the best option given ethical behavior toward your clients. And it is very important to build your business so that you are utilizing the best role in your Signature Program—the program that is central to your entire business. Since your Signature Program will be populated by a certain target market, it stands to reason that you need to know which of these roles you’re playing in that program so you can determine who should be “in the room.” [Read more…]

Fear of Public Speaking: Part 3–My Story

So, the fear of public speaking is not a fear of speaking, it’s a fear of being humiliated and ridiculed. That is what we fear more than death. Unfortunately, what we fear most, we tend to draw to us. It happened to me years ago. Let me tell you the story.

I was attending a weekend workshop with a public speaking teacher from the west coast. He had talked at another seminar I’d been to the previous month, so when I learned that he was coming to New York, I jumped on the chance to see him more “up close and personal.” Once there, I found myself immediately wanting to impress him [self-importance leads to fear, see previous post]. I knew I was pretty good in front of an audience (even before I learned the New Paradigm techniques I teach today) and I wanted to prove that to him. In addition, someone else was in attendance whom I wanted to impress. Can you see it? I was doomed before I even began because I was focused so narrowly on myself, out of feelings of insecurity.

We were told, once in the seminar, that over the next 48 hours, we would be giving a 20 minute speech for critique. It could be on any subject. As the hours passed, I began to panic. I had no idea what to talk about; I was in the midst of changing the direction of my business and had no strong thoughts formulated yet that could be worked into a speech. I began to over-think and “downshift.” Downshifting is when we move out of our frontal lobes, where we do our higher-thinking processing, and shift down into the old “reptilian” part of the brain, where there is little thinking, only emotion. By Sunday afternoon, I was fully downshifted when it was my turn to speak. 

In that state—with a topic I’d conjured just a few minutes before my turn–I gave an interactive presentation that went beyond the scope of a traditional speech. The teacher, who had become a friend and was, as I said, someone I wanted to impress, hated it and held nothing back in a scathing attack that left me—it felt at the time—stripped of dignity. 

There is no question: I was humiliated. I experienced the nightmare everyone tries to avoid when they avoid speaking: public ridicule. 

I left the seminar room for sometime that afternoon and when I returned, I was greeted by compassion and warmth from my peers, but the flame of embarrassment burned all else away.

I tell you this story for a few reasons. One is that it illustrates a powerful force: the self-fulfilling prophecy. This is, I believe, the only reason we will ever actually get ourselves into a humiliating situation: we have all but “ordered it” from the ethers. The fact is, I was so afraid of making a mistake in front of those two idols of mine that I had no choice but to do just that. And what is at the core of these self-fulfilling prophecies? Once again, much too much self-attention. Needing our “self” to be perfect, admirable, important, respected. What we “need” too much, we will destroy.

So, a vital step to being at ease with an audience is reducing your own importance. I help my students move from being speakers to teachers because when we’re teachers, who is important? The ones in the seat, not the one on the stage. Second, you want to acknowledge your neediness because it will sabotage you if it stays unconscious. With awareness, you can summarily dismiss it. The bottom line is, you can only “think yourself” into disaster.

I also tell you this story to make this critical point: Despite that weekend debacle, I teach presenting and speaking skills, and most think I’m pretty good. That weekend didn’t break me. It didn’t diminish me, either. Why? Because I didn’t let it (after a day of processing it, that is.). I experienced everyone’s worst-case public speaking fiasco—but I decided what it meant about me and about my future. The event itself—and the man who critiqued mehad no power to determine that. It was up to me.

And that is the point I want to drive home: nothing can humiliate—or break—you without your consent. You may one day be in a situation as “bad” as the one I was in. If you have a message in you; a business dream to fulfill; change you want to see…you must be willing to let the “worst” happen, knowing it won’t damage you unless you let it.

Years ago, as an empowerment coach, when I felt deep resistance and fear in my clients, I would have them consider their most dreaded future experience, and then have them say aloud, “I am willing to have _________ happen.” They usually choked it out, but they said it. And I would probe deeper: “Why are you willing to have it happen?” And their answer (with my coaching) was, “Because there is nothing I can’t handle.

And that’s the truth. You can handle any humiliation. Know that. Claim it. Stop stifling your vital communication out of the idea that you will die if you make a mistake. Not only did I not die, I went on to become a teacher of public speaking.

Fear of public speaking is not the problem; it’s a symptom of the problem, which is  the belief that you can be damaged and diminished by someone else or by an event. As long as you believe that, there will be many things you will not do. Public speaking will just be one of them. And day by day, you will leak away the power vested in you to reach your highest potential.

So, I encourage you to do something scary. Tell yourself, “I am willing to be humiliated in front of a group of people.” And ask yourself, “Why are you willing?” You will answer, “Because there is nothing I cannot handle.”

Lizabeth, you may ask yourself, isn’t that creating a self-fulfilling prophecy?? The answer is no. A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs because of fear and resistance—both of which are, unfortunately, magnets for drawing just what you don’t want. Allowing the possibility of humiliation because you know you can handle it comes out of a deep inner power.  Very, very different.

 There is nothing more important than your voice. Do not allow anything to silence it. Ever.

What’s Your Business’s “Brand Concept”?

The service entrepreneurs I work with—coaches, healers
nutritionists, consultants, therapists–love to perform their
services, but they also love to inform: so they speak
or give seminars. But often, what they’re speaking about
has no “through-line.” I just had coffee with a wonderful
new friend last week, who reminded me of this term.

 A “through-line” is a theater term that means, “the
theme that runs through the plot of a film or other
dramatic work.” I would say it’s fitting to consider
businesses “dramatic work,” and so we want a “theme
that runs through the plot of our businesses.” And when
we’re giving a seminar or even a single presentation,
we want to ensure that it is inside of the through-line,
promoting that theme, reinforcing it, growing it. But
again, too many presentations and seminars are “isolated
incidences” that have no roots to a larger theme.

I am one week into my intensive program, 12 Sentences:
Ultimate Business Creation and Articulation
, and the
participants are soon going to be considering their
business’s theme, so that everything they do—from
the articles they write to the opt-in gifts they offer to
their blog content…to the presentations they give—
runs through the “spine” (another word for through-
of their business.

Next week, I’m going to be launching my first CD set!
SO excited about that! And as you will see in the videos
I’ll be releasing about it next Tuesday, one of the many
things I did with two financial coaches was help them
develop their “teaching concept” for the free seminar
they would be giving to attract more clients. By teaching
concept, I mean  the main premise of that signature
. This teaching concept soon became their
“brand concept”—the premise or idea they were putting
forth not just in their free signature program, but the
premise or idea that supported their business and that
they would teach everywhere.

This teaching concept would be threaded through
the free report, ebook or video training for their opt-in;
it would be what they’d teach about in their articles,
and emphasize in their blog posts. It would be the subject
of radio interviews, local promotions and even a book,
should they choose to write one. I began referring to this
as their “brand concept.” The teaching concept “theme
running through the plot of their business.” It was created
as we developed the teaching premise of their signature
program, and then bloomed into the brand concept of their
entire business.

So, how do you know if you have a “brand concept”—or
even a teaching concept for your presentations? Well, let’s
start at the very beginning. Ask yourself this first, “Does
my presentation have a through-line, a theme that runs
through the plot of my business, or is it a tactical device,
a one-time talk I’m just ‘throwing together,’ with no strategic

Next, “If I were to have a signature program—a free or
even paid event that people know me for—what is the
single concept I would teach in it?” (We won’t even consider
right now if it’s Brain-Sticky or not. Just consider the single
idea you would teach.)

And from there, ask yourself, “Could I teach this every-
where, in all of my marketing pieces, and feel that I was
teaching the most salient information out of everything
I could teach?” In other words, is this single idea the most
important and interesting I could put forth?

These are some ideas to get you started. But be sure to
register above in Blog Telecalls, for this week’s free
call at 1pm Thursday Oct. 7,
where we’ll discuss this idea,
and I’ll share with you my signature program teaching concepts.

And stay tuned for the release of my 8-CD set next week,
the first in my Eavesdropping Series: How to Get Clients
with a Signature Program that Sells AND Transforms

Can Anyone Else Figure Out Your Message? And Do They Buy It?

48 hours ago, a group of very special people were taking part in the
2nd day of my public speaking training, Secrets of Impact & Influence.
I can’t tell you what they were doing–because that’s one of the secrets–
but they were under some pressure to put into practice everything I
had taught them the day before. I just love doling out pressure to my

Anyway, at a point later in the day, I was helping them look at the big
picture of where their presentation fits into their business–because
they were all visionary entrepreneurs with big messages that they want
to deliver. Here they were, learning how to be better than trained teachers
and absolutely better than 99% of presenters out in the word–but then

Since you have a message, too–and since the time has come for you
to come out of hiding and deliver it–I think it would benefit you, too,
to realize the necessary components of getting out there and successfully
spreading your word while also successfully building a business!

So, you have an idea of what your life-changing message is, and you have
years and years of experience, knowledge, wisdom and insight to share
that will change the world. What I have come to learn myself is that those
with big messages often get buried under the largeness of everything
they know–and have a very  hard time speaking about their messages clearly.

For instance, I can’t tell you how many people say to me, “Lizabeth, I have
so much content. How do I know what to put into a presentation?” They’re
buried…and that’s just pertaining to a single program. What about their
business at large
and trying to describe that in a succinct manner? It’s
just like their content: it’s too big, too unwieldy.

So, how do we speak when something is too big, very UNformed, and
consequently, very unclear? We ramble, go off-point, say things that
have no relevancy to our prospect–and we lose them.

The NUMBER ONE element missing from business clarity AND clarity
around what to put into a presentation is strategic thinking. I’m not
sure why, but most visionary entrepreneurs, with big messages and lots
to give to others, are putting out fires daily and NOT thinking out every
step in their business. They’re trying to make money today, right
now–and not planning how that quick-fix will fit into the long-term, or
even if it does fit in. Very often the class they create on a whim, or the
coaching offer they make just to make money for the month, has no
bearing on the big picture, and they are like hamsters on a wheel, having
to create something new to offer every month. It’s exhausting because
nothing they’re doing has roots. There is no strategy. 

Sounds familiar, huh? So, what can you do? You have to take a time-out;
incubate yourself for a critical period of time and take stock in where
you’re going and how you will make money. Not just for today, but for
always. What is the business model you should be developing that will
work for a good solid few years? That is determined by knowing how you
plan to disseminate your message, ultimately. Do you want to be a coach
only? Do you want to have a radio how with sponsors? Do you want to be
a keynote speaker? Or a trainer, like I am?  You must know who you want
to be at the “pinnacle of your success”–and then build your business model
from that knowledge…and yes, that often means revamping the business
you have had for years!

In this incubation period, you must also check to see just how market-
you really are. Do people want your message, really?? Or has that
been done to death? And if someone does want your message–who
wants it–and do you know why they want it so much? Do you know
what wakes them up in the middle of the night and what they fantasize
about? You must–IF you want to successfully deliver your message
to them.

Also, in your time of incubation, you need to know precisely how
you’re different from everyone else out there. How do you set your-
self apart  in dynamic ways that stand out? Here’s one idea, something
a little radical: stand out by standing on top of a proverbial mountain
top and shouting your “prescription for change in the world.” What is
your belief of what will change the world? (Not your business solution,
but a solution that transcends that; that is a universal truth.) And
here’s the radical part: say that in your marketing. Shout your beliefs
in your marketing. This will set you apart from all others without

Next, in your incubation period, you must come to understand what
your business thesis is. You know what a thesis statement is, right?
Well, you need one–a clear, concise one–for your business. What is
your contention, as the expert of your service? You have one, but I
guarantee you are not building your entire business around a strong,
well-articulated business thesis. Very few businesses do
this–and it is even rarer for the “inspired leader”-type to think this way.

So now, you have a business vision…you know you’re marketable
and why…and to whom, specifically…and what will have you stand
out from everyone else who does what you do…and you have that
“from-the-mountaintop” message…and the thesis statement that
your whole business stands on. Whew! You’ve put yourself into a
strategic pressure cooker!

NOW–and only now– you know HOW you should deliver
your message!
With all of that work, you know what your programs
and presentations should be. No more confusion about having too
much content. Suddenly, your business isn’t unwieldy, and you can
speak about it with crystal clarity and conciseness so people are
interested in hearing your message.

Personally, I believe that all of that strategy needs to be refined so
crisply and tightly that you could express any element of your
business in a single sentence, if asked. So, if someone says, “What
do you do?” You can answer–in a single, potent sentence. If someone
says, “I know someone who does that.” You can swoop in with a
killer sentence that shows them that, no, NO ONE ELSE does what
you do. Here’s how you’re different. And if someone wants to know
the tangible results they’ll get from working with you–you can
rattle them off, like bullet points, in a single sentence.

What you can describe in a single sentence, you fully understand.
What you canNOT, you do not.

I believe there are 12 questions that are always lurking in the minds
of your prospects. If you can craft compelling and pithy answers
to each of them–and speak those–you have the ability to convert.
Period. If you cannot, your conversion rates will be very poor. You
need to have your business identity so refined that you could balance
your business on the head of a pin. It is that clear. Is yours?

My mission is to ensure that visionary entrepreneurs succeed! That
they’re messages are truly received AND that they make money and
have a solid business model that works. I am devoting myself to those
who are changing the world with their messages because failure
is not an option!
They are needed too badly.

To that end, I offer a high-octane online program called “12 Sentences
and it starts next week. It is THE “incubation course” of all time and if
you are ready to birth a business that is powerfully set up to truly deliver
the messages and content you have–I invite you to attend one of the
3 free calls I’m giving this week, where you can find out what the course

Just click right here to sign up for the calls Tuesday, Wed and Thursday
this week.

The Precious First Few Minutes of a Presentation

Audiences will not listen to you just because you’re standing in front
of a room. Did you listen to your English teachers or Social Studies
teachers just because they were there? Of course not. The ones you
listened to were the ones who earned your listening. Adults may
be more politically correct than kids and give you the impression that
they’re listening—but unless you have earned it, they’re tuned out.

How do you “earn their listening”? First, let’s talk about how you
don’t. Just in any conversation, whether with one or one thousand
people, you lose their listening when you start out talking about
. They don’t care about you. Not yet. You have to earn
that. Begin by entering their world and showing them that you under-
stand them. That you respect them. When people are acknowledged,
they’re all ears.

You lose their listening if you don’t persuade them that they will
benefit from something you have to say. My daughter comes home
every day telling me “school was boring.” I don’t doubt it. Wasn’t it
boring when you went, too?  Her teachers are not enrolling  the kids
in the benefits of learning about fungi or Ancient Rome. You must
convince them that they’ll gain from listening to you–right from the
outset. If you fail at this, you’ve lost them for the rest of the ride.

You lose their listening if you’re not speaking their language. Literally.
Know the industry lingo. But at the same time, do not use your indus-
ry lingo with an audience who’s not in your industry!!! This kind of lack-
of-awareness is epidemic. Do you use words others don’t know to impress
them–or just because you’re not thinking?

You’ll lose their listening really fast if the language isn’t right, either.
 A particular pet peeve of mine is incorrect grammar. I can’t tell you how
many “professional speakers” don’t speak correct English. They lose my
listening the instant they mix up “me” with “I.” As in, “The team went to
the meeting with Roger and myself,” or “He was so much better than me
at selling.” Please read a grammar book if you’re unsure. 

You’ll lose their listening if you don’t tell them why you are up there.
 What are the education and credentials that make you worthy of their
listening? The best method is to tell us a story that explains what brought
you to this spot in front of the room. Perhaps it’s a before and after story;
or a story of an “aha” moment that changed everything. I don’t know any-
one who won’t listen to a good story. Do you really want to wow them?
Then tell them why you’re doing this over any other career/job in
the world. What about this compels you? Gets you up in the morning?
What’s in it for you? Why are you so passionate? When you answer this
for them, not only are they listening, but they’re beginning to see the
value of being in their seats.

And, of course, you lose their listening if you don’t know that.  If you
have no passion for your subject. It will show itself in your monotone
voice, flat facial expressions, slow movements, “ums” and slide-reading.
If the subject you’re speaking about isn’t worth your energy…it certainly
isn’t worth theirs!

I teach my clients and audiences how to “earn their listening”  from the
very first moment they step on stage, and, of course, how to keep
it throughout. There are many more elements to this process that are
subtle and absolutely essential. If you don’t get the results you want
from speaking in public; if you don’t get the reactions and the word of
mouth and the sales, check in to see how you “lost their listening.” Did
you start out talking about yourself? Fail to enroll them in the benefits of
listening to you? Did you speak “below” or “above” their heads? Give data
instead of a story?

Don’t worry. There’s always a next time! 

Today is the LAST DAY you can bring-a-colleague-free to my
2-day public speaking training based on the latest brain research. 
You will learn 2 sequences at this event–and the first is the 7-Point
Introduction: How to earn their listening right from the start. There
are a lot of videos you can watch on this page to see if this is the
seminar you need to attend next month. I hope to see you there!

What’s the Key to a Stimulating Presentation?

Do you remember in English class, we were told to “show, don’t tell” when writing fiction? That’s because it’s boring to “tell.” Here’s a quick example of “telling: Bob was tired. He walked to the sofa and lay down. The room was too bright and he covered his eyes.

How would we write it if we were to show this same scene, not tell? Bob rubbed his eyes and yawned. He stood up and dragged his feet across the wooden floor into the living room, where he collapsed with a heavy sigh onto the sofa. Sunlight streamed relentlessly upon him and he threw an arm across his eyes. This is more interesting and taps our visual and even auditory senses. We are more engaged and intrigued —i.e. more attentive.

But this is not a post on writing, so what’s my point? My point is that “telling” in any format—writing or speaking—is boring! And when you’re speaking, your audience will lose interest if you “tell.” This is called the “pour and snore” technique!

Yet, do you know that 80% of
presenters I see “tell” almost
And 99.99% “tell”
far too often?

So, when you’re speaking, what’s the alternative to ‘telling’? Asking.

Here’s one of my firm mottos:  Whenever you would tell, ask a question instead.

Glance up three lines. Do you see that I asked a question–“Yet, do you know that…?” I could have made it a statement, couldn’t I?
Where I would have said, “80% of presenters I see…” But I asked a question. And look back in this paragraph. I posed two questions that most people would have made as statements. “Do you see that…?” would have been, typically, “Glance up three lines. You’ll see that I asked a question.” And rather than write, “I could have made it a statement, couldn’t I?most would have told instead: “I could have made it into a statement.”

Have you ever seen an Improv comedy show? One of the games is the Question Game. Two members begin: one asks a question, the other must answer with a question. The member who answers with a statement, or whose mind goes blank, goes to the back of the line, and the next troupe member plays against the winner. Obviously, the last member standing is the one who has succeeded in asking only questions all the way through. Kind of fun, isn’t it?

I would go so far as to say the speaker/presenter who asks questions all the way through his presentation will be the last one standing.

Even if you are a natural born question-asker—as coach or reporter or interviewer—it will still be challenging to take this on. We’ve been taught by our educational system that the person in front of the room knows everything and is there to “pour information” into us.

Despite hating the effect of “information download” when we’re in the audience, we tend to perpetuate it on stage because we haven’t been taught to ask questions.

How on earth can you ask questions all the time, you may ask? Well, can you envision one of your main teaching points and how you usually express it? Or a single statement you might make? What would it be like, turned into a question?  (Please note 4 questions in this paragraph.)

All right, let’s try an example, shall we? Say you’re
giving a presentation on the most advanced techni-
ques available for screwing in a light bulb. So, there you are and you’ve got a light bulb in one hand and a fake socket on a demonstration table next to you.
With me so far? A typical presenter would tell her audience how to insert the light bulb: “First, make sure all electricity has been turned off. Next, rattle
the light bulb to make sure it makes no sound—that means it’s new. Finally, make sure there is no water nearby.”

So, how boring is that?! Can’t you just imagine everyone in that audience nodding off? How can we turn it into a question-based presentation

Can you tell me what you think we’re going to be doing here today?”
Answer: “Screwing in a light bulb.”

“And for what reason?” Answer: “To make light.”

“Excellent. Before we screw it in, what are some safety precautions we should take?” They think of the water and turning off the electricity, but not ensuring that the light bulb is new. So, you shake the bulb and ask, “What do you think this might tell me?”

There you have a very brief example, but can you see what it does for the attentiveness of those in the group? The brain cannot abide an un-answered question. It’s like not answering a ringing phone. Your brain is compelled to answer.

Can you see that “telling” does not activate
the brain at all? It keeps it in a passive state—
which is the kiss of death for attentiveness,
comprehension and retention! Curiosity pro-
duces chemical reactions in the body that
directly stimulate learning and recall.

So, what’s the bad news for you? Well, you don’t get to show off every-thing you know when you’re asking questions—which can be a problem
for many experts, right? But that’s not what you’re there to do, is it?You’re there to enable the audience to see how much it knows.

So, what’s the motto you want to keep front and center when you’re delivering a presentation? Wherever you could tell, ask.

Got it? Do you promise to ask a LOT more questions? Do you think you already do? Let me assure you—you could almost never ask too many questions. Not if your goal is to stimulate a peak state of learning.

Join me tomorrow, April 7th at 7:30pm for my last free teleclass on “the new paradigm” of public speaking. Learn why it is we “tell” and don’t ask (it comes from an archaic cultural influence)–and find out what the other 3 influences are that destine you to be ineffective (and mediocre) with audiences. Read more and register here. It’s tomorrow!

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