For Speakers

Mike ThreeSixty: Body Language is the Key to Video Success



Ten Things I Learned From the 30-Day Blog Challenge

On July 18, one month ago, I committed to the “30-day Blog Challenge” with my friends and colleagues, and members of my new Mastermind Group, Crystal Washington, Bambi McCullough, Danielle Forget, Cecilia Rose and Karen McCullough.  Since then, and it has been exactly 30 days, I have actually learned a few things.  That’s what I find so incredible.  In just one short month, this one challenge has taught me remarkable things.

1.  That I can commit to something rather difficult and fulfill my commitment!  I am proud to say that I have logged in 30 entries in 30 days.

2.  That I enjoy writing.  I’ve always known this.  In college, I minored in English Writing.  Creative Writing was one of my favorite courses at Boston University, followed by Script Writing, and then followed by Journalism.  So why have I not been writing all these years?  Instead of wondering why, I am happy I rediscovered it. The main fact is that I had to push through the difficult part to get to the enjoyable part.

3.  The first part was difficult.  As was the middle part and the end part.  But after each entry, I felt an amazing little feeling of accomplishment….and that little feeling lasts a long time.  It really helps to get me through the day.  No matter what happens each day, I can look back and think, “Well, at least I wrote in my Blog today!”

4.  The process of blogging with a group of people, and then Tweeting about each other’s blog posts, creates miracles in the Social Network.  Since I started blogging, results.

5.  The act of blogging has gotten me into online networking.  Every morning, after I blog, I spend a good hour on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin…saying hello to new friends and followers, spreading news and reading news.  This has really kept me connected to the world and to my colleagues, peers and friends.  In the process of doing all this, I have been strengthening my personal brand.

6.  Blogging means Learning.  In order to blog every morning, I need to do a little research.  That never hurts anybody!

7.  I have gotten to know my blogging buddies even better.  What a pleasure it has been to read Crystal Washington’s blog every day.  She is truly a miracle in my life today, and I am so grateful to have met her.  Of course, I am always interested in what Karen McCullough has to say…we are basically connected at the hip.  And I have enjoyed getting to know Bambi, Danielle and Cecilia in a different way, as well.  They each contribute to my day, each and every day.  That is such a blessing.

8.  I have connected with people I never dreamed of “meeting”.  Just by writing a post about Apple and how the Apple brand can help each of us as we form our own brands, I had the chance to “connect” with Steve Chazin.  And when I blogged about Klout, I got to “meet” Brian Ambrozy.  This was great, but on Twitter some of my Social Media and Professional Speaking idols started to follow me:  Connie Podesta, Mari Smith, Ed Primeau, Trey Pennington, Gina Schreck, Loretta LaRoche…just to name a few.

9.  I have been inspired many times.  Great ideas have come to me from blogging every morning.  Creativity just flows now.

10.  I am excited to keep on keeping’ on.  Blogging has rejuvenated my entrepreneurial spirit.  And that is worth gold.

You: The Greatest Show on Earth

During my days as an Event and Promotions director for a large company, I learned many lessons.  I likened those days to working in a circus, because of the many varied types of performers and stage set-ups we had to contend with.  On one day, we were preparing for fine dining and silent auctions; on the next, we were setting up for fire-eaters and disco dee-jays.  There was never a dull moment.

Although it sounds worlds away from the concept of personal branding, the lessons I learned while working in that capacity could easily be applied to my personal branding rule-book for professional speakers.

  1. Always have a ring-leader. This is a person who is hyper-aware of all that is going on in your three-ring circus. He or she can take keep your target audience focused on the main event, without letting our eyes stray from what is important.  Even though there are serious preparations going on in the other two stages, let those preparations continue in the dark, behind the scene, while the spot light shines on what is front and center.  Focus is paramount in this arena, and we should never be led astray.
  2. Let your trapeze artist weigh in.  This is the vantage point you will need every so often to keep things on the right track.  Where is the audience focused?  How much energy is coming from one area and lacking in another?  Your trapeze artist will need to shout out orders and cues to keep every other aspect of your brand in place.  Strategy comes from a clear view.
  3. Clowns are important!  What would a circus be without clowns?  NOTHING!  I can’t imagine any circus without this component.  Why?  Because humor is a pre-requisite, even if your topic or main focus is very serious.  People need relief from intensity and gravity, even if it comes in small and unexpected packages.  Poodles are always popular, as are clown cars.
  4. Everything should look good in the ring.  There’s an audience on every side.  An act cannot flourish if it is directed only at the audience seated in the front.  What about the folks on the sides?  Parade your talents around so that everyone can see them, not just the special few.  I have found that social media and the social network has really helped in this regard, especially for those of us less likely to go out and press the flesh.
  5. Change with the times.  Haven’t you heard that circus animals are no longer cool?  Don’t let the way things have always been done interfere with your success.  Be willing to change and grow with the times.  Try to foresee new trends and style changes.
  6. Good lighting is very important, in no matter what you do.  Whether you are creating a video blog or shooting your new head shots, the second most important element is the lighting. (You are the most important element!)
  7. A good poster always helps.  When considering advertising and promotions, a well-designed campaign really does wonders.  Don’t leave your design needs and challenges up to the folks at Kinko’s or to a family member who can fulfill school credits by completing your work.  No offense to Kinko’s or to your family members. Get professional advice or help.
  8. Keep them entertained!  Try hard not to be boring and irrelevant.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Nothing goes over better than a well-executed tumble or trick.

There is one thing that the Circus cannot help you with.  You cannot be all things to all people, and you cannot please everyone.  You will need to pick a lane.  Chose one act and concentrate on that!  Explore and expand your niche.  The circus has too much going on at one time, and can leave us feeling overwhelmed.  I know it left me feeling that way, and I eventually had to change careers!

Good luck with the greatest show on Earth:  You!!!

What’s Your Score, Baby?

If you have a high Klout (score), people will notice you. When they notice you, they’ll talk about you. When they talk about you, people walk in. Therefore, seeking out ways to genuinely increase your Klout …score is a valid social media strategy.  Brian Ambrozy

I just started using Klout about two months ago, and while I’m not sure how strong my score is or how effective my internet presence is, I know that Klout has helped me with one thing. More on that one thing later. (By the way, at this moment, my score is 50.) Oh, and the other thing about Klout is that it is the word Clout spelled with a ‘K’, so you know it’s clever.

Klout is an online services that takes your Facebook and Twitter (and now LinkedIn) accounts and measures the strength and size of your reach.  They do this by calculating 35 different variables and distill the data to come up with three measurements: True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Influence.

I’m not a social media genius, so I have no idea what those mean, but I am guessing a few things. True Reach, I would venture to say, means how many people you actually interact with…not just how many followers or fans you have.  I’m hearing a lot about social media gaming, or manipulating the networks to work to your advantage without actually doing the real networking. There are so many companies (not individuals) that have joined the scene, and many of them have several different accounts…and some even sell these accounts to people who want to “get 10,000 followers”. Well, from what I understand, Klout manages to see which of these followers are actually real followers who actively engage with you. (I’m starting to feel like we’re in the movie Minority Report.)

Amplification Probability also sounds fairly self-explanatory. I’m guessing it is a measurement of how many times your message gets reposted or retweeted. How likely is your message or conversation to be spread around? This is also a way to separate the internet robots from the real people.

And Network Influence? I am going to take a stab at this and say it has to do with how influential your actual friends or followers are. Do you have followers who have other real followers and who engage regularly, or are your followers simple “voyeurs”, as YouTube likes to call it’s non-members.

What is nice about Klout is that it gives you a fairly realistic measurement of your online engagement and presence.  The one thing I really like about Klout (and the reason I am spending any time writing about it) is that it helps me to feel as if I’m actually getting somewhere with my social networking.  If you are like me, every morning you wake up and turn on Facebook and Twitter.  You check your messages, see how many followers you have, and start doing the deal.  It feels kind of like Groundhog Day.  Until there was Klout, I always felt like I was typing and clicking in the dark. Now I am developing a strategy, of sorts.  I know that according to Klout I need to engage…so I make a valiant attempt to do that with my friends and followers.  I also actively seek new people to follow, and I try to stay in my lane.  I can even use Klout to engage with my Twitter followers because Klout lets me give people K+ awards (letting people know they influence me in a certain category or field).

If you are like me, and just starting to find your way in the social networking realm, give Klout a try.  It might really prove to be a big help.

Mining for Gold: The Vertical Challenge

This post is a revival of an older post from 2009, but I thought it might bear repeating.

Sometimes it’s good to talk about success: what works and what doesn’t.  Because I work mostly with speakers, I have a certain affinity for them, for their struggle to forge their own path in a strange landscape that has no real road map.  One of the most daunting challenges for a public speaker is to find their target sweet spot.  What audience will respond the most?  Who will continue to hire them?  Where will they find the most gold?  Only then can they truly begin to market themselves.  Until a speaker has this puzzle figured out, the road is dark and uphill.

I work with a talented man by the name of Chris Loomis, and for a few years now, I have watched as he has struggled to find his target sweet spot.  He is a large, imposing man with a booming voice and a likable and aggressive demeanor.  I have worked with him over the years, capturing his talks on video, sitting with him in seminars on branding and watching him get in front of audiences to speak on Leadership, Success and Sales.  As time goes on, and as .  As time goes on, and as the challenges become greater, a speaker can get discouraged.  But not Chris.  His determination was attractive.  Chris was always willing to try another way.

There came a moment when Chris decided to reach back to his corporate past and focus his expertise on what he gained as the Marketing Manager for DuPont’s environmental and safety services division. Little did he know that this shift would be the key to his finding his target. The amazing part of this story is that it unfolded so quickly. Chris changed his speaking topic to Safety Education, put up a video on YouTube and on his website, and before he could take a breath, had Exxon Mobil knocking on his door. The Oil and Gas giant has hired Chris to speak to it’s teams all over the globe on Safety. Not only once or twice, but as an ongoing project to last three years.

My own part in this success story was on encouraging Chris to keep recording his presentations on video and getting them up on the web. The right key words and tags got the search engines to find Chris and bring him back to the audiences that really needed to hear his talk. Check out the video.



Celebrity Endorsements Can Actually Hurt

When we go into business, and we create a website and some marketing materials, the most enticing gimmick is to use the endorsement to sell our products or services.

Who wouldn’t want to put up a glowing review from a previous and satisfied customer? It gives your audience or customer another vantage point from which to view your business. If so-and-so says they liked it, it must be good, right?

This is generally true for speakers. If you check out the average professional speakers’ website, you will undoubtedly see a set of quotation marks and a highly charged endorsement or testimonial referring to the greatness of the speaker in question.  There will most likely be a “testimonials” page that contains nothing but perfectly worded positive reviews.  It’s considered standard practice, and even by some a requirement.

In a post last week, I even made mention of the benefits of video testimonials, and how they tend to ad a layer of realness or authenticity.  Unless they are poorly made and obviously fake, video testimonials take the written testimony one step further.  But for sake of simplicity, let’s focus on a general endorsement.  This would be the approval of your product or service by another, perhaps a notable person or a celebrity.

Can this tactic ever backfire?  Of course it can.  It all has to do with staying true to your brand.  Be absolutely sure that the testimonial or endorsement you are featuring in your marketing is in alignment with your brand.  For example, the circus would never use a quote or testimonial by PETA or visa versa.  That being the obvious, what could be an unwanted endorsement? Something that might actually take away from or tarnish your brand?

First of all, there could be the spokesperson that has suddenly become famous for something unsavory or inappropriate.  Think those could hardly be called “unwanted” since the advertisers for those brands intentionally courted those celebrities to be a part of the advertising campaigns.  I guess it’s a risk you take when you hire a celebrity to endorse you. You can’t control their personal life.

Here’s a short, auto-biographical story about an unwanted celebrity endorsement:

I can remember time when my Mom was actually given an unwanted endorsement.  When she and my family were living in Panama back in the mid 1980’s, my mother was working on putting together a showing of her most recent artwork.  (My Mom was a painter and is now an accomplished printmaker.)  Our family was stationed there because my Dad was working for the U.S. Government at the time.

Because of my Dad’s professional career, the “president” of Panama, Manuel Noriega, was well acquainted with him and our family from political functions and events.  He knew the name Svat.  It was just a matter of  propriety that on the opening day of my Mom’s art show, General Noriega sent her a giant, human-sized garland wreathe as an ostentatious sign of appreciation for her work.  It would have been considered rude not to display the floral arrangement outside the gallery on the sidewalk where everyone could see it;  like slapping Noriega in the face.

My mom was really torn up about this since any association with Noriega felt slimy (since he was a ruthless dictator).  Yet, on opening day, that ugly horseshoe wreathe was propped up next the the gallery entrance.  Anyone who did not know of my Mom’s relationship with my Dad, and thus her relationship to Noriega, would have simply associated the show with the General and his ruthless regime.  Her art show suffered because of this.

When looking for the testimonial to bolster your product or service, give it careful consideration.  And when courting a celebrity for an endorsement, excellent conduct basic human kindness is not always a guarantee.

If You’ve Got an iPhone, You’re All Set

If you have an Apple iPhone 3GS or 4, then you basically have all you need to do many of the things it would have taken a team of people to do just a few short years ago.

I like to look at things from the viewpoint of an entrepreneur, a professional speaker, an author, even an artist, when discussing things like this. Because we have such limited budgets, sometimes we need to be creative in the way that we do things. Do you need a quick head shot or candid photo of yourself? Have a friend use your iPhone to snap your portrait. Do you need to shoot some professional looking video? Use your iPhone. If you need to distribute your material, use the Youtube app on your iPhone. To stay in touch with your followers, there’s your Twitter app (or for the more experienced Tweeter, there is Tweetdeck or Hootsuite), there’s your Facebook app, and there are countless other social media apps.

As for running your business, there are so many amazing uses for your iPhone. You can tackle the accounting, the billing, inventory, shipping…almost anything you can name, all by using an iPhone app. Check out this article for some amazing examples.

If you don’t trust me on this, take a look at some of these success stories. One of the best examples of using your iPhone for glamorous head shots is from photographer was blown away.

The iPhone Fashion Shoot – Lee Morris Shoots With The 3GS Fstoppers from FStoppers on Vimeo.

Soon after that, I began looking at the camera in my iPhone in a whole new way. Camera phones are no longer limited to soft focused, grainy looking, low resolution photos. With the iPhone’s new technology you can take high resolution photos in the HDR mode that can capture details in even low lighting. Add an app or two, and you can even set your phone to capture a photo with a timer!

As for the video function in your iPhone, again, there are many ways in which you can capture professional quality footage.  First, just start filming with your iPhone to get the hang of it.  Then, when you’re ready, you can set the iPhone up on a tripod or even have a friend film you while holding the phone on a steadycam device. With a few lighting considerations, you can capture some amazing shots.  Do you find this hard to believe?  Well, there are even national independent film contests with the only requirement being to use your iPhone instead of a professional video camera.

The iPhone has only been in existence since 2007, and has increased in functionality each year.  Imaging the things we’ll be able to accomplish with a hand-held device a few short years from now.  Technology is truly amazing, and it makes running your own business just that much more exciting.

Your Video Editor is Your Coach

If you are just starting out in the speaking business, if you’ve been doing it for decades, or if you are an executive who needs to speak in front of an audience, I have a technique for improvement that is as good as any from a professional coach.  Use video to record and evaluate your style, technique and content.

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be included in a Mastermind group.  It was my first meeting with the folks whom I admire and respect (Karen McCullough, Bambi McCullough and Crystal Washington), and I was soaking up the discussion and information like a sponge.  When the conversation got around to me, we began to discuss the success I’ve had with certain speakers who have used my video services over the years.  By working closely with their videographer, these speakers actually improved by leaps and bounds over a very short period of time.

See, the trick is that they had someone videotape almost every presentation they gave, and after each presentation they sat down together, with their video guy (me), and went through the footage frame-by-frame.  I’m sure the technique would have had value even if the speaker didn’t use a videographer but recorded the presentation themselves.  However, reviewing the footage with another party is where the lightbulbs started to go off.  In my experience, when working with speakers this way, we have found gold by mining unexamined content…things like:  great jokes where the punch line was hidden, ideal places for pauses so that audiences could process important points, the identification of unnecessary gestures that detract from the message, annoying tics and blunders, voice modulation and variation, etc.

By going through the material piece-by-piece, sometimes the speaker will even see major thematic errors that, when corrected, make their entire presentation come together and make sense as if it were given for the first time. There was one speaker I worked with who had a wonderful, stream-of-consciousness style that was unique and enjoyable to the ears. Yet, when we watched the footage together, we realized that there were no pauses that made  sense within the material. This realization might have never been made were it not for a video editor’s eye.

See, as the video editor, I was also looking for places where I could ), and I was soaking up the discussion and information like a sponge.  When the conversation got around to me, we began to discuss the success I’ve had with certain speakers who have used my video services over the years.  By working closely with their videographer, these speakers actually improved by leaps and bounds over a very short period of time.

See, the trick is that they had someone videotape almost every presentation they gave, and after each presentation they sat down together, with their video guy (me), and went through the footage frame-by-frame.  I’m sure the technique would have had value even if the speaker didn’t use a videographer but recorded the presentation themselves.  However, reviewing the footage with another party is where the lightbulbs started to go off.  In my experience, when working with speakers this way, we have found gold by mining unexamined content…things like:  great jokes where the punch line was hidden, ideal places for pauses so that audiences could process important points, the identification of unnecessary gestures that detract from the message, annoying tics and blunders, voice modulation and variation, etc.

By going through the material piece-by-piece, sometimes the speaker will even see major thematic errors that, when corrected, make their entire presentation come together and make sense as if it were given for the first time. There was one speaker I worked with who had a wonderful, stream-of-consciousness style that was unique and enjoyable to the ears. Yet, when we watched the footage together, we realized that there were no pauses that made  sense within the material. This realization might have never been made were it not for a video editor’s eye.

See, as the video editor, I was also looking for places where I could cut (a cut was needed to splice, as we used to say back in my film school days) the footage into two separate clips. Sometimes we need to cut the material into smaller clips for video snippets that stand alone, for either the speaker’s demo video or for short clips to go on their website. But when watching the footage together, my client and I couldn’t find any good places to cut the material. This may have never crossed the speaker’s mind before had they not sat down with their editor, simply because audiences were always responding positively to their material. However, because the speaker was open to suggestions (by their editor), suddenly their material was kicked up two notches in effectiveness and quality.

I remember another time when I worked with a  speaker who was asked to speak on a topic that wasn’t in his repertoire.  The material was new to him, so he wasn’t as polished as he would like to have been.  He had me film him, nonetheless.  When the presentation was over, he was ecstatic, on cloud nine.  So much of his presentation was improvised, yet he was getting huge laughs from the audience.  None of those laugh points would have been remembered were the entire presentation not recorded for posterity.  The next day, he and I sat down and carefully extracted all the “jokes” from the material…the things that he said off-the-cuff that had elicited such big laughs.  From that point forward, that particular topic, which had never been in his roster of topics, became one of his most requested programs.  A major factor in this success was that we were able to mine the comedy gold from his “stand-up” bits and integrate them into his new speech.

Think of how video can help you with your next presentation, even if you have to speak in front of your team at the office.  The review of your footage can help with other areas you might not even think of, such as:  eye contact, your energy level, your facial expressions (are you smiling enough?), how many times you say a particular word as a way to catch your thoughts (um, like, etc.).  All it takes is a video camera, a video editor and an openness to suggestions.

What are Your Core Values? Part 2 with Video!

Here’s my request to all the speakers I know…shoot a short video of yourself telling us one of your core values.  Then send me the video link on YouTube or Vimeo, and I will create a video piece on the speakers I know and love, and their core values.  Here’s mine as an example.  You do not need to put titles or music on yours.  Thanks!



What are Your Core Beliefs?

I’ve been talking to some of my speaker friends who attended the NSA World Convention in Anaheim last week (Karen McCullough, Crystal Washington, Mike Lejeune), and in our conversations, one recurring phrase has caught my attention.  It is “core beliefs.”  My mind grabbed ahold of an idea: make a video of speakers I know or have worked with, each of them telling the viewer one of their core beliefs. The idea came from an earlier post I had written on Scott Stratten and his video for Motherhood.

So, I’ve decided to make this video.  Here’s the deal, in a nutshell. If you are a professional speaker, please videotape yourself with your iPhone or Flip Cam or any video recorder speaking directly to the camera and saying one of your core beliefs.  It should be only one belief and it should be short.  You know… around ten words or less.  You can ask me questions here, in the comments section of this blog post.

But that’s not what this post is about.  I really want to focus on this idea of core beliefs.  This may be a good time for me to revisit my own core beliefs.  I’ve been operating on the same ones I discovered over 6 years ago, and I think it’s time I addressed them.  Here they are:

  • I believe in simplicity and clean design.
  • Story is important, and each of us has one.
  • I want to love what I do, and have fun doing it.
  • I want to continue learning, and to be challenged.
  • From  failure, pain and  hardship come growth and success.
  • I want to use my talents to the best of my ability to create quality work.
  • Life is about creativity; each of us can create the life we want, everyday.
  • I want to watch my customers and clients grow, and to be a part of that growth.
  • I believe personal branding involves self-awareness, self-respect and a desire to be better.
  • I believe in  being authentic and having my work be authentic, shedding any unnecessary elements.
  • It is important to be original; not to succumb to conformity, rigidity and always meeting the status quo.

I’d like to know yours!