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: Tax Day Talkers

While we’ve cheered the passage of tax reform at the federal level, there’s still plenty to discuss and reform at the state level. And Tax Day presents you with the perfect opportunity to do so!

One way to highlight the need for tax reform at the state level is to use comparisons. Comparisons are powerful, because oftentimes people don’t realize how good or bad their state’s economic performance is until they view it in light of neighboring states or the majority of states around the country.

But there are a lot of states, and a lot of numbers to accompany each state’s economic performance.

For this reason, we suggest you check out the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) just released report Rich States, Poor States. It breaks down your state’s performance and outlook based on fifteen policy variables. This is a fantastic resource you should use to cite data points that support tax reform at the state level.

Now, go forth, play up that state pride, and use Tax Day for good!

Spring Must-Haves for TV

Though the weather hasn’t gotten the memo, today is the first day of Spring. Warmer temps and sunnier days are ahead, which means you need to consider how you’ll switch up your TV and public appearance wardrobe. Below are a few of our favorite recommendations for ties, dresses, and products to usher in the new season.

Winter leaves us with very little color, so don’t hesitate to fake it ’til you make it in these first few days of spring. Jergens is the best we’ve found to help you do so.

Couple warmer temps with the anxiety of a media interview or public appearance and you’ll want to take extra precaution to guard against sweat. We recommend packing a travel size deodorant to reapply right before you step behind the mic.

Happy Spring!

Secrets for Q&A Success

Speaking in front of a live audience can be terrifying. Not only do you have to prepare and present talking points to keep the people engaged, but you will likely have to answer questions at the end.

Sometimes Q&A provides insightful commentary and allows you to talk more in-depth about an issue; other times, you field a filibuster and/or hostile questions you’d rather not answer.

It’s a risky situation, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and the audience.

Here’s what we suggest:

Step #1: Set ground rules. You might think this is an unnecessary and condescending step, because who doesn’t know how to handle themselves during Q&A?? Turns out, a lot of people.

Before you take the first question, explain that you will only respond to questions (NOT comments), and the questions need to be brief to allow as many people as possible to participate.

Step #2: Don’t follow Justin Trudeau’s lead.

We get it, Q&A is unscripted and less formal. Anything can happen! But a joke or petty correction that leaves you apologizing days later means it was better left unsaid.

Even if you disagree with the premise of the question, or the words/phrases used, don’t insult the asker. Kindly reframe the question, and then block and bridge to the response you want to give.

Now, go rock that Q&A.

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.

TUESDAY TIP: How to talk tax reform

The Republican’s tax reform bill entered the markup process in the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday. Given that passage of this bill would lead to the largest change in the tax code since 1986, this is a BFD.

With every tax reform discussion, the talking points write themselves. The Left cries about a tax cut for the rich, while conservatives support the idea that more money in the hands of job creators leads to…more jobs.

This attempt is no different. The current proposal to lower the corporate tax rate from 35% (The highest in the developed world! Higher than France!) to 20% is significant, and has ignited the aforementioned class warfare discussion.

(FUN FACT: Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were all too happy to champion a cut in the corporate tax rate a few short years ago.) 

So, how can you fight false rhetoric when advocating for corporate tax reform?

Don’t let the other side define the premise. They will always use words and phrases like: “big business,” “corporation,” and “the rich,” even if the majority of people who stand to benefit from the tax cut don’t fall into these categories. For those of us who own small businesses and know how to operate a calculator (like DMG!), we know that the “corporate” and/or “big business” labels don’t define us.

Words matter, so make sure you talk about “small businesses,” “start-ups,” or “family-owned companies” to paint an accurate picture of who will benefit from this tax cut.

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