Book Review – Quiet Strength

Tony DungyI just finished reading  a very fine book by former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy.  Quiet Strength is a book not focused on football, rather spirituality, faith, being a role model, and being a strong person.  There is a lot of football too which works for a fan like me.

That being said, there are many lessons a business person can take from the book.  A head coach in the NFL is basically running a small business.  Coach Dungy’s leadership style is transferable to all walks of life and business.   This book will be a good read from a personal and business sense for you.  Grade – A


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The Day After Obama’s Speech

OK…this isn’t a political post.  Just my 2 cents on the delivery given by President Obama on his speech last night.

What he does well – dramatic use of pause; holding eye contact rather than scanning; excellent vocal variety; humor (nobody messes with Joe); presence

Where he needs help

  • The pointing is way too distracting because he does it too much.  Hall of Fame speaker Patricia Fripp has always said “The enemy of the speaker is sameness.”  He uses the same gesture constantly.  STOP!
  • Hands folded on lectern.  I know it’s easy to do but it’s too casual for that presentation.  He should try to keep them more by his side raising them to heighten his gestures.
  • In this presentation, he got rid of the “uhms.”  Maybe this is due to the teleprompter.  I still would like to see him improve this on his more extemporaneous presentations.  Had to throw that in.

Overall, it was a good presentation on an evening he had to get it right.  He is a polished presenter that when prepared can be inspirational.  However, he still has room to grow.  I welcome your comments.

P.S. Memo to Congress.  Stop standing up every 3 minutes to applaud.  Geez.  It actually hurts Obama as a speaker.  Why?  He is a rhythm speaker that builds curiosity, drama, and ultimately momentum with his speeches.  By making him stop by the constant standing ovations thwarts this.  It also annoys the heck out of all of us watching on television or the web.  But, that’s just me.


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Read the Fine Print

I recently responded to a an e-mail memo sent to me following a presentation I did for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce on presentation skills.  The gentleman writing was very kind and thanked me for the program.  As I was about to return my reply, I decided to see exactly what he did for a living.

I scanned his signature at the bottom of the page (you all use a signature, right) and noticed he worked with a wide variety of people and organizations that might be able to use my coaching.  In my reply, I simply asked if there was a chance I could be able to be of assistance.  His response?  Yes, he was intrigued and would like to discuss it more.

My lesson – always take a few extra seconds to read the fine print.  By taking the time to read his signature, I may have uncovered a business opportunity for both of us.  What business opportunities are you missing because you aren’t taking the time to be observant?


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How to Practice Speaking Off the Cuff

Last week I gave a presentation to a group of business professionals at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Focus On series.  The topic was presentation skills.  One of my subjects was on speaking extemporaneosly.  This is certainly the most common way we speak, whether it’s in business or not.

Do you ever practice speaking off the cuff?  You may ask, “How can you practice speaking on something you don’t know that’s coming?”  My answer is, especially in business, you often do.

Here’s an example.  Suppose you are a sales professional and doing a follow up to your presentation to close a sale.  Your prospect may have an objection and you will have to speak well to rebut it.  Many sales pros will just try to wing it.  That’s a BAD idea.

How many objections can any prospect have – too expensive, don’t trust you, don’t need it, not the decision-maker, need more time…

You can anticipate that any of these might come up.  If you plan ahead and practice your responses to any or all of them, you “extemporaneous” response may be exactly what is needed to seal the deal.  Remember that rejectiosn are often a form of wanting more information.  If you’re not prepared to respond, you may lost the opportunity to do business with that prospect.

You can practice extemporaneous speaking with associates, colleagues, or even your family.  Heck, practice on your dog for all I care!  The important message is that you can train your mind to think quickly, and you can anticipate responses to specific situations.

If you commit to learning how to speak better off the cuff, you will find yourself more successful in business.



Seattle Chamber of Commerce appearance

If you are in the Seattle-area, please come join me on Wednesday, February 11th from noon to 1:30 at Rainier Square Plaza.  I’m the featured speaker for the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s Focus On series.  This one is titled Focus On: Presentation Skills.

Here is the promotional piece from the Chamber office:

In business, speaking isn’t optional: Transform your presentation skills to be a powerful tool in your business arsenal. Every sales presentation or networking function is a missed or captured opportunity. Those that have exemplary skills in communicating and presenting themselves and their company generally win.

Are your presentation skills keeping you from closing more sales and making more money? Does speaking in front of a large group make you anxious or even scared?

Whether you’re giving a formal presentation, networking at a business function, or having a one-on-one conversation, what you say and how you say it directly impacts your bottom line. Is yours increasing or decreasing every time you speak?

Learn to:
– Connect with any audience, e.g. a sales presentation to a large group
– Improve your PowerPoint presentations so your audience will be on the edge of their seats, not sleeping in them
– Effectively speak extemporaneously, so you can respond to any business question

Focus On: Presentation Skills
Presented by Dan Weedin
Date: Wednesday, February 11
Time: Noon – 1:30 p.m.
Place: Rainier Square Conference Center (1333 5th Ave. (inside Rainier Square next to Rock Bottom Brewery), Seattle 98101)
Cost: $20 ($25 after 2/9; lunch provided) Chamber members only
Register: online, or contact Nikki Ross at or 206.389.7338.

I hope you will plan on attending.  Give your business presentation skills a boost and enjoy a great lunch.  Hope to see you there!




What’s your favorite filler word?

A filler word is a word you use as a transition, an annoying transition, from one thought to another instead of a pause.  The pause is very powerful, yet we seem to have this anxiety about dead air.  Because of that we use needless fillers like – uhm, ah, so, you know, like, etc.  Get my drift?

My favorite filler is “so.”  I tend to latch it on the the end of sentences and allow it to drift off.

“I’m very happy to be working on this project with you,so…”

“The next step i the process is to bring in an expert, so..”

Both these examples would have been fine had they ended with a period prior to the “so.”  You may be wondering, “What’s the big deal?”  The big deal is that using filler words like so have the following effect…

  • Decrease the power in your statements
  • Distract your audience form your message
  • Annoy the heck out of people
  • Develop poor habits

What’s your filler word?  Is it “so” like mine is or is it one of the others I mentioned?  How do you find out?  Several ways come to mind…

  • Listen attentively to your speech patterns
  • Ask others to help you by actively listening for these words
  • Join a Toastmasters club to kick the habit…I promise they WILL tell you

The sooner you commit to kicking your filler habit, the sooner you will enjoy better communications.  That normally means more business and better relationships.  So…