2 posts categorized "February 2013"

February 07, 2013

When To Rehearse and When To Shoot From the Heart

Recently, I gave a talk on Relationship Power at a big conference that required quite a bit of research prior hand and nuance during delivery.  I needed to create a one-of-a-kind talk to specifically help two groups come together, develop empathy for each other and collaborate.  As an outsider, you can't wing this, or you'll easily step in a cow pie with the crowd.   

And because half of my speech relates to their exact situation, it's brand new material for me. It is not in my treasure trove of advice bits, illustrations or signature stories.  Which means that in many cases, even bullet point power point slides only serve as prompts and don't work like a teleprompter. (PS - I never use one. Makes me too stiff and disconnected with audiences.) 

So, I rehearsed.  Not in my head, or by flipping through my power point slides...I gave the talk.  All. The. Way. Through.  With my iPad serving as my countdown clock, I gave the talk at home in my studio the week prior to the talk.  Taped it and listened to it on the plane.  It was excruciating, as I started and stopped the opening five times until I had my legs underneath me. 

Did the talk for the client the night I arrived in town, prior to having dinner.  All. The. Way. Through.  The next morning, I gave the first 20 minutes of it to my mirror at 6am.  That was where most of the custom content was. How did the talk go?  Fantastic!  Felt at ease during the talk, didn't miss any key points, and used my examples without any bobbles or gaffes that could get someone's back up.  Later, I received great feedback from members in the audience, as well as my sponsor. 

If you are making a really important presentation, or doing some material for the first time, rehearse your talk.  Outloud.  All. The. Way. Through.  You'll thank me later, when you tell me about how you "killed it."  

What should you not rehearse?  A crucial conversation.  Frequently, we face situations when we are going to have a difficult conversation with someone about an emotionally charged situation.  We might be mad at her.  It might be a disagreement that needs an airing out.  It might be a confrontation, where you are expecting answers from him. 

The worst thing you can do is rehearse for this.  Why?  You are spring loading your negative feelings as you go over it in your mind (and sometimes outloud, especially as your brush your teeth or make eye contact in your car's rear view mirror.) The more you think or rehearse what you are going to say, the more your emotion's get spun up. 

Also, when you rehearse, you frequently think about what she or he will say in their defense. At that point, you think of your follow up responses, and conjur up a debate or blowout in the process. Later, when you have your crucial conversation, when she replies to your charge, you'll loudly proclaim, "I knew you were going to say that!!!!"  

And then it's on like Donkey Kong. 

In this case, you'll do better to wing it.  Let it play out without much pre-planning, other than to focus on what's really important in this situation.  Are we trying to fix something that's broken, take care of a client or keep our word?  Then that's all the conversation should be about.  Finally, when we head into the crucial conversation, we need to remember: It's not a performance, it's an encounter.  

For more, read Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When the Stakes Are High 

February 04, 2013

So God Made A Farmer, Then Dodge Made An Ad

Last night, Dodge's "God Made A Farmer" Super Bowl ad rocked me, and likely, millions of other people with its poignant message and eloquent deliver by Paul Harvey.  

Today, according the Hulu, it's the highest rated ad that ran last night.  Why?  The ad was stunningly effective because it was authentic, pulled on our values and deceptively simple.  The grainy sound was from a tape (yes, a cassette recording) of Paul Harvey's keynote address at the 1978 Future Farmers of America annual convention.  No clean up, you can hear the hiss and the echo that comes with a tape deck setup at the back of the room (and not being directly fed from a mixing board.) 

Instead of fancy effects, the ad features high quality pictures, to keep us tracking with Paul's narrative.  The ad also works because, much like last year's "It's Halftime America" ad, it speaks to a crisis in our country that an underdog is facing.  For farmers, they face less resources to do their job, at a time we need them more than ever.  In the 4-Hour Work Week culture our kids live in, farmers work around the clock and are proud of it.  

Former Coke CMO Sergio Zyman once wrote that "good advertising is a service.  It adds value when you consider, purchase or use the product." In this case Dodge hit a home run, even though I'll never likely buy one of their trucks.  Even in non-consideration, my affinity to the brand increased, which likely has it's own long term value to Dodge.  

Hulu's Ranking of Top Super Bowl Ads of 2013 

And God Made A Farmer (ad)