TED TALKS: Visual Aids

Visual aids are great, until they’re not. Use them correctly, and your message is impactful and easy to understand; use them incorrectly, and no one will remember what you said.

Here are three things to keep in mind as you prepare for your TED Talk:

#1 — Visual aids are meant to be…visual.

The biggest mistake people make is to include too much text. Just remember that it’s a careful balance, and the text you include should emphasize your message, not compete with it. Instead, think images, videos, and sound effects.

#2 — Be strategic.

Visual aids can both enhance your presentation AND act as an outline for you, the presenter. What do we mean? Include images, videos, sound effects, and text that remind you of your next point.  The confidence monitors at your feet allow you to see the current screen and the upcoming screen, so rely on your visual aids instead of a separate outline to keep your presentation on topic.

#3 — Use spell check. 

About a year ago, Sen. Maria Cantwell (now referred to as “Sen. Cantspell”) failed to use spell check in her argument against the Republican health care bill. This mistake cost her the message. Though tedious, make sure every word you use is spelled correctly. The extra effort is worth it.

TED TALKS: Stage Presence

The Ted Talk format is becoming increasingly popular. We’ve worked with quite a few clients recently who find themselves anticipating a Ted Talk-style presentation, but no real understanding of what that means beyond the bright lights and imposing stage featured in YouTube clips.

In order to demystify the process and encourage you to present your best selves on stage, we’re going to offer a tip a week over the next few weeks. Let’s start with stage presence.

#1 — Use the stage.

If the stage is properly lit, and the AV team hands you a wireless mic, then you’re expected to use the stage. This is great news, because you’ll be better able to engage the audience. The podium creates a barrier, so view a podium-less stage as more casual and therefore friendlier to you and the audience.

#2 — Don’t wander aimlessly.

Be purposeful in your movement – pace slowly to one end of the stage, stop and deliver a few talking points. Then pace slowly to the other end of the stage, stop and deliver a few talking points. If you really want to prove to the audience that you know what you’re doing, time your stopping point with a critical point in your remarks.

#3 — Don’t turn your back to the audience.

If you turn your back to the audience, you cut off communication. Always face forward, even if there are screens behind you. The venue should provide confidence monitors at your feet so you know what the audience sees on the screens behind you, which means you have no reason to turn around.

TUESDAY TIP: Reporters have an agenda

We’re just going to say it — reporters have an agenda. Therefore, don’t ever walk into an interview with the expectation that you’re about to engage in a fair Q&A. You’re not, and you never will.

Don’t believe us? Listen to this exchange. Ed Helms reveals what it was like to interview Daily Show participants. The discussion starts around 1:17:00, but here’s a snapshot:

Ed Helms: “But I’m not a real journalist. I have a game I have to play and a script I have to stick to.”

Interviewer: “That they don’t even know they’re playing, really.”

Ed Helms: “Usually they do know that they are playing a game. They just overestimate their own defense mechanisms and their own ability to handle it. The people that knew the show the best were often the easiest to hoist on their own petard because they were cocky. And they don’t even consider the fact that you get to walk away and sit with the footage for two weeks and use whatever part of it you want. You have the final say. They don’t.”

Interviewer: “It’s a rigged game. And not in a bad way…”

Ed Helms: “It is very rigged. Listen, I’ll say it: We took advantage, sometimes.”

But don’t let Ed’s honesty keep you from agreeing to media hits. Instead, use it to your advantage.

Here are the three things you need to keep in mind as you walk into every interview:

#1 — Just do it
Agree to the interview. Even if the reporter has an agenda, he/she can’t put words in your mouth.

#2 — An interview isn’t a Q&A 
Don’t ever treat an interview like a Q&A, because it isn’t. Instead, take control. You should walk in ready to deliver your talking points, which you can do by blocking and bridging. Acknowledge the reporter’s question, and then pivot to what you want to talk about.

#3 — Your audience is at home
Even though the reporter is standing in front of you, or talking to you via an IFB, your audience is the viewer/listener. You aren’t trying to convince the reporter of your talking points, you’re trying to convince those who will read, listen to, and/or watch your interview.

TUESDAY TIP: Equal Pay Day

According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, Equal Pay Day “symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.”

Excuse me? If true, this is horrifying. And if true, it’s easy to understand why people usually present an emotional argument in defense of the gender pay gap.

But the defenders are wrong, and we have the data to prove it.

Watch as Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute summarizes what the data tells us about the gender pay gap:

The good news is we have facts on facts on facts to combat this myth. The bad news is we’re trying to dismantle an emotional and false narrative. Tread carefully.

Here’s how we recommend you respond when confronted with an unfair question or false claim about Equal Pay Day:

Q: <Insert false claim or unfair question about the gender pay gap>.

A: “If what you say is true, we should all be outraged. But the reality is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, validate the emotion of the other side before you make your case. If you don’t, people will assume you don’t care. And if people assume you don’t care, they’ll stop listening. Reiterate that you would share their outrage if the disparity existed. It’s just you know it doesn’t. So, really, you’re the bearer of very good news. Adopt this approach, and we guarantee you’ll change hearts and minds on the gender pay “gap.”

Interested in DMG’s services? Contact us! We’d love to work with you.

The gift that keeps on giving.

You guessed it! The gift that keeps on giving is what DMG does best: media training.

Whether you’re new to interviews or just want to improve your performance, it’s always a good time to purchase a session for yourself and the media star (or stars) in your life.

DMG offers customized training to highlight strengths, increase confidence, and refine message delivery. Sessions can be organized for individuals or groups in hourly, half day, and full day increments, and all interview formats are fair game – TV or radio; satellite or in-studio; live or taped.

We know that every media interview is important, so let us help you be your best self behind the mic.

Become your best self and contact us today.

The perfect gift for the busy media star in your life.

Know someone on your Christmas list who will benefit from on-the-go media training? Then gift them a Clip Critique!

A Clip Critique is a review of a recent radio or TV interview that covers all the important points in your verbal, vocal, and visual (if applicable) delivery.

We’ll also include tips and tricks to achieve more polished talking points, interview prep techniques, and body language advice.

The best part?

This can all be done via email. After we receive a link to the interview, we will write up a critique and send it back. This process is simple, comprehensive, and it requires no in-person time for you or the recipient.

The best way to improve is feedback and practice, and we know you want the best for your loved ones. So, give the busy media star in your life the gift of a Clip Critique this holiday season.

Become your best self and contact us today.

The one gift everyone should have on their list

Speaking well in public is a gift, and one that you should consider giving this holiday season.

We’ve all been tasked to do it – a presentation at work, speaker introduction at an event, announcements in church, etc. And if you haven’t found yourself behind a mic and in front of a crowd, chances are you will soon.

Yet, it’s true that the average person fears public speaking more than spiders, shark bites, and even death. Just ask Jerry Seinfeld…

This doesn’t have to be true of you or your loved ones, so let us help!

With our combined decades of experience, we’ve helped policy analysts, elected officials, CEO’s, and those brand new to the task polish their public speaking skills so they are confident behind the mic.

Give the gift of communicating well by purchasing a one-on-one public speaking training. (Or forward this email to someone in charge of shopping for you this holiday season!)

Our public speaking training is catered to your level of experience and desire for improvement. From critiquing clips to on-the-spot training and feedback, our team will work to identify strengths and weaknesses as well as strategies to further polish your public speaking style.

Become your best self and contact us today.

How to avoid speculation

Much has been made about the timing of a big legislative victory for Republicans before the 2018 midterms. Will tax reform be that victory?

President Trump certainly hopes so – remember that one time he asked for a bill by Thanksgiving?

Because no one knows for sure what will happen or when, you’re left to speculate if asked about a timeline. But don’t give in!

Here’s how we recommend you respond. Hint: remain hopeful.

 

Q: “Will the GOP get tax reform done by the end of the year?”

A: “I can’t speculate on a timeline, but I am hopeful that Americans will finally get a tax break. <Insert talking point.>”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, emphasize all the reasons you think tax reform should pass, not whether it will pass. And remain hopeful in your response. Tax reform is a good and necessary move, and we want to emphasize that message whenever we’re asked about it.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

 

Road Rage

We’ll all encounter road rage this holiday season – some of us will cause it by “driving defensively,” and some of us will experience it thanks to the too-slow driver in the passing lane.

Regardless, here are a few tips to communicate effectively from the driver’s seat and avoid the fender bender that keeps on giving in the form of a higher deductible.

Eye Contact
Just like eye contact is key in an on-camera interview, it’s also a great way to guilt someone into letting you merge. And if you smile while making eye contact? Game over.

Once you’ve successfully merged, make sure to wave “thank you” to the driver who let you in.

Use that horn for good
Not all honks are created equal. If possible, communicate with a friendly honk. A light “excuse me” or “you’re about to hit my bumper” tap go a long way to de-escalate the situation.

Be self-aware
If you follow no other rules of the road this holiday season, please follow these two:

  1. The left lane is for passing ONLY. You will anger other drivers and impede the flow of traffic if you stubbornly choose to drive in this lane regardless of speed. Please drive on the right.
  2. If you anticipate needing to merge because your lane is ending, don’t drive all the way to the end of the lane and cut in front of those waiting in line. Abide by the zipper effect. Be kind, and get in line.

We wish you happy and safe travels!

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

Thanksgiving: Bad Food Edition

Want to avoid an awkward Thanksgiving?? Because we do!

Whether you plan to spend the holiday with family, friends, or perfect strangers, we all risk eating a meal (or part of a meal) that doesn’t quite measure up.

Thankfully, (see what we did there?) DMG has a few tips for complimenting the host, even if the food leaves you in a McDonald’s drive-through on the way home. 

Consider one of the following reactions: 

“I haven’t had this type of green bean casserole before! What’s your secret?”

…or… 

“Where did you get this recipe? Is it a family recipe?”

…or…

“Such a unique flavor, I can’t put my finger on what it is. How did you prepare <insert food>?”

Because it may be difficult to articulate a positive food experience without lying, you can always fall back on complimenting the effort it took to prepare the meal:

“Wow, did you make that pie crust by hand? That must have taken you a long time!”

Be positive. Be enthusiastic. And if all else fails, compliment the wine. 

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.