Business Communication

Conver-Speaking

When I led a brand communication agency, I had to do a lot of pitches. In preparation for each pitch meeting, my team and I would craft a presentation that would tell the prospect a story that we thought would resonate with them. It would include an assessment of their situation, our proposed approach to solving their problem, and samples of previous work and the results they created. Then, I’d rehearse the presentation to death. I was always confident and ready to present it by meeting day.

80 percent of the time, I would not present it as planned — and that was by design

My goal when walking into the room was always to get my audience talking first. If I could do so, the meeting would naturally become a conversation — an opportunity to share experiences, pain points, and potential solutions as real people genuinely interested in collaborating. Would I use the slides we had prepared? In most cases, yes. But I would jump around and bring up examples as the conversation warranted. It all depended on how the conversation went. A few times, not a single slide was shown and we still won the work.

20% of the time, the people in the room needed to see the traditional pitch, and I would give it to them. Still, I would try to treat the presentation as a conversation, getting them involved along the way as much as possible, and trying to make it a two-way dialogue instead of a monologue.

Next time you need to present, think about your audience and what they need to hear from you — and also why you both are there. Then consider how to make it more of a conversation than a speech or presentation. It’s not always possible, but when it is, a two-way dialogue will make it easier for you to build a stronger relationship from the start.

An Example of an Overloaded PowerPoint Slide

Can One Slide Deck Really Do It All?

When you give a presentation, your slides should be simple and clear. They should support you as you convey your messages, whether you’re persuading, entertaining, inspiring, or educating. They should never cause your audience to have to read or decipher too much information. If that happens, then you’ve lost them. They are no longer listening to you.

I teach people how to create and deliver powerful and engaging presentations. Part of that training is focused on the right balance of text and graphics on slides. It should not be a lot, and 95 percent of the presentations I see in the corporate world are too overloaded with content.

Often, the reasons for such jam-packed slides are:

“I need that content on the slides so I don’t forget.”

“The slides have to tell the whole story if I’m not there to present the deck.”

“I have to send the slides out as a pre-read before my presentation.”

“My audience needs to see all the data. I can’t omit anything.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Here’s why:

  • If you think you’re going to forget things, use slide notes instead. And rehearse more.
  • You are there to tell the story when presenting. If you need the slides to tell the story without you, it’s no longer a presentation. You need a separate slide deck or other leave behind that does that work.
  • Pre-reads are pre-reads, not presentations. You need a separate slide deck or another prepared document for the pre-read.
  • Your audience needs you to make your points as clearly as possible. If they want to see more data, they’ll ask for it, and you can have it ready as backup.

Sounds like you might need more than one slide deck.

More work? Yes. Worth it? You bet.

A presentation is not about you. It’s about your audience. If you want to truly achieve your goal of persuading, entertaining, inspiring, or educating, you must make sure your presentation is engaging, compelling, easily digestible, and memorable.

You can’t do that by asking your audience to listen to you while also slogging through overloaded visuals at the same time.

Originally published at https://www.wearecomvia.com on February 8, 2021.

Purpose, Learning, and the Art of the Pivot with Pete Sandford

Podcast: Purpose, Learning, and the Art of the Pivot with Pete Sandford

I originally invited my friend Pete Sandford of NXLevel Solutions to join me on Convey to talk about how he masterfully communicates as a sales and business development guy. 

But when he and I were talking a few weeks ago, we got on the topic of our respective career paths and on the topic of purpose — which many of you know is one of my favorite topics. 

Pete’s story is very different than mine, but we share a very similar perspective on the common theme or thread in our stories. That thread is something most people have — they just haven’t spent much time noticing it

Listen to this episode to hear Pete’s story — it’s about purpose, pivoting, adapting, and growing as a lifelong learner. And yes, we also touch on his unique and authentic style of selling.

Visit Pete’s Websites: http://www.nxlevelsolutions.com and https://www.intelalearning.com

Check out this episode’s sponsor, Darianna Bridal and Tuxedo: https://www.dariannabridal.com

Learn more about your host, Michael Piperno: https://www.michaelpiperno.com

Talking About Money with Brett Michener

In the next episode of Convey, my friend Brett Michener and I talk about the importance of communication when it comes to talking about money — specifically, your money. Brett is a Financial Representative at The DeYoung Financial Group and I always like talking to him because he’s not only a “money guy,” he’s also a coach. Our conversations always make me think about my goals and how I can be better at making sure I’m thinking about saving and spending in a way that fits me and my family. 

Brett’s perspective will open your eyes to new and better ways to look at your life- and savings-goals. He also shares his personal career journey — it’s a great story about being open to opportunity and to change. And as we all know, change is inevitable in life.  

Visit Brett’s Website: http://deyoungfinancial.com

Check Out This Episode’s Sponsor, Lacona Supply: https://laconasupply.com

Learn More About Your Host: https://www.michaelpiperno.com

Theatre Cast Rehearsing

Trust and the Theatre

I’ll always be grateful for my training in theatre arts

One of the things it taught me is trust. I could always count on my fellow cast and crew members to be there when they were supposed to be there — to speak their next line, move scenery in place, or make a catch. There was such a high level of trust that the cast and crew truly did start to feel like a family by opening night.

Is there enough trust among your team members? If not, do the work to help them gain it. When people feel like their colleagues have their backs, both work satisfaction and productivity increase. 

Here’s another post about a good lesson from the theatre that can help you in business.

New Podcast Episode: Business, Marketing, Authenticity, and Relationships with Franco and Wendy Salerno

In this episode, my guests are Franco and Wendy Salerno, a husband-and-wife team who built and run a successful business, Darianna Bridal and Tuxedo, here in my home county of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I wanted you to hear about their business because they’ve done an exceptional job marketing it. In fact, they’ve done a better job communicating with their prospects and customers than just about any other local business I’ve seen. Equally impressive is the level of service they provide to their customers.

What’s their secret? They generously share a lot of their strategy in this episode.

In our conversation we also talk about how even in a tough year, both personally and professionally, they let their creativity, integrity, honesty, and authenticity guide the way — building strong relationships and adding to their network of raving fans as a result.

Listen here on my website, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor.fm or anywhere you subscribe to podcasts.

Visit the Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo Website: https://www.dariannabridal.com
Check out this episode’s sponsor, Lacona Supply: https://laconasupply.com

Know Your Audience

Know Your Audience

I teach and coach people about a variety of communication and leadership topics. No matter which topic we’re discussing, we almost always come back to discussing their audience. In fact, I always tell people that the first rule of good communication is to know your audience — really understand who they are. Whether you’re leading a team or building your own business, if you haven’t spent the time to consider the true needs of your stakeholders, you’re in trouble.

And by audience I mean real humans. Not just some demographics on a piece of paper. People want to do business with people and brands that they like, and who understand them. People want to follow leaders who have a purpose and a vision they can support. 

To achieve any goal, whether it be to inspire a team, sell a product or service, or convince a panel of experts to support you, you need to speak (verbally and nonverbally) in a way that connects with them. You can’t do that if you’ve only been thinking about your own needs and goals.

Always think first about your audience and consider what they need to hear from you. 

Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

New Podcast Episode: Food, Events, Connection, and Love with Sharon DeFelices

Convey Podcast Michael Piperno Episode 2

Thanks to all of you who gave me positive feedback on my first podcast episode. Your encouragement means a lot.

For my second episode, my guest is food, nutrition, and wellness expert — and corporate event strategist — Sharon DeFelices. Sharon and I talk about how clear communication is critical in her line of work, which includes planning and running events that incorporate health and wellness into the experience. You’ll be amazed by what goes on behind the scenes to ensure people enjoy the food and beverages they are served at an event — as well as the role food and nutrition can play in a productive and successful meeting. We also touch on a lot of other topics including the connections we create through the food we make at home.

Sharon also shares the fascinating story of how she went from nutritionist to chef to owning a company dedicated to healthier meetings with happier and more productive attendees. It’s an inspirational story about finding your purpose, and pursuing it fiercely.

Listen to it here on my website, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor.fm or anywhere you subscribe to podcasts.

Remote Leadership Presence

New Workshop Available: Remote Leadership Presence

Remote meetings are here to stay. My new workshop, Remote Leadership Presence: Bringing Your Best When Leading & Meeting Virtually is designed to help professionals be more effective when participating in, or leading, a remote or virtual meeting.

You’ll learn:

  • How to look and sound your remote best.
  • Virtual room video and audio dos and don’ts. 
  • Best practices for facilitating and leading remote meetings.
  • Tips for using technology like Zoom and Teams to make virtual meetings more engaging

Whether you are regularly conducing team meetings remotely or participating in online meetings or interviews, this workshop will give you tips you can use right away to improve your leadership presence. 

Running Time: 60 or 90 minutes, depending on audience size.

Get in touch if you would like to discuss a one-on-one session or a workshop for your team.

Your Automations Are Feeling Impersonal

Personalized Communication Gone Astray

I recently bought an ebook from a well-known leadership expert. The same day I bought the book, I got 4 emails from him:

  • #1 was the delivery of the digital book along with a sales pitch for another book
  • #2 was a marketing email for another line of products he offers
  • #3 was another marketing email for the same line of products in email #2
  • #4 was a promotional email for something else his group of companies offered

4 emails in one day? As a former brand communications and marketing agency leader, I knew what was going on here. The purchase of the book enrolled me in an automated workflow that looks like this:

  1. When Michael buys book A, have the email software program send him the offer email for product B and add him to the email list for product A.
  2. When Michael is added to the email list for product A, also add him to the email list for product C and send product C’s first marketing email.
  3. You see where this is going?

I get it. Automation is a powerful tool when communicating with prospects or customers. Technology has made these highly personalized communications easier than ever. But the people who are setting up these automations are losing site of the human beings on the other end.

wrote a post a while back about being inundated by emails on a daily basis from companies I like, but don’t want to hear from daily. They give me no choice to reduce the frequency of the communications, so they lose me as a subscriber. This is happening with advertising, too. This week I shopped online for a new pair of comfortable lounge pants and now I’m inundated with loungewear ads on virtually every screen I have in the house. Looks like I accepted a cookie somewhere along the line that allowed the site I was on to sell or share my data.

More personalized results on Google, in digital advertisements, and through email were once welcome. I found them helpful. But today, the automated “personalized” communications and ads that I receive aren’t feeling helpful anymore. I can almost see the robot behind them. The human element has all but disappeared.

My challenge to all of the marketers and professional communicators out there is to rethink your automations to consider the human beings on the other side of them. Highly personalized touchpoints that are too frequent, out-of-touch, or awkwardly invasive actually feel incredibly impersonal.

Photo by Stephen Phillips – Hostreviews.co.uk on Unsplash
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