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Archive for June, 2009

Are You Willing to Push Back?

June 30, 2009 2 comments

One of the biggest metamorphosis I’ve experienced since becoming a consultant in 2005 is the art of the “push back.”  As an insurance sales professional for nearly 20 years, I studied many sales approaches and most always preached that the client or prospect are “always right.”  You never wanted to cause any waves, take any chances on creating friction, or take an alternate view because you were scared to death of losing the sale.

For those of you in business, I have two words for you – STOP IT!

All this timidness ever produces is a “yes man” mentality and even worse, a relationship where the client or prospect is more important than you.

The reality is that your client and you are peers.  This doesn’t mean you should ever be rude, snide, arrogant, or bossy.  What it means is that you have a healthy enough relationship where you can push back in confidence, especially when it means your client benefits.

I’ve recently had several excellent debates on Facebook with friends on topics related to politics and current events.  We often don’t agree and respectfully spar with each other.  In the old days, I may have held my tongue in fear that someone “important” might read it, disagree, and never want to do business with me.  Well, my viewpoint is also important.  I may not always be right (as my wife often points out to me), but I’m willing to debate, learn more, and be interesting.  I’ve yet to lose a friend (as far as I know) and often develop a better relationship.

Your client or prospect doesn’t need a “yes man.”  They need someone to hold them accountable, challenge their ideas, help them to grow, create more opportunities, and in the end improve their condition.

Here are five strategies you can employ in your business AND personal life:

  1. Don’t be afraid to offer a differing opinon.  Someone may learn from the process or at the very least be better educated from it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to push back to a client or prospect.  If it’s in their best interest based on your expertise, they will respect it.  Think of it this way, if you are always agreeing with them, why do they need you?
  3. Challenge ideas.  Ask why they feel that a particular strategy will work; offer alternatives; find potential flaws.  Better in the beginning than when in motion.
  4. Become an object of interest.  My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss always stresses this and I am a big believer in it.  Read newspapers, follow current events, have opinions.  In addition, ask questions and respond.  This is part of becoming intelligent and interesting person to others.
  5. Be provocative.  I’ve been thrilled that many of my blog posts have drawn comments, especially ones that disagree.  We can agree to debate issues while being respectful.  It adds value and educates.

Bottom line – in order to become someone of value to your market, then you need to stay away from being robotic “yes men and women.”  Commit to helping others by pushing back when you need to, creating a buzz, and becoming an object if interest and intrigue.  In the end, you will find that it improves your career and your life.

Cheers,

Go Ahead & Laugh Now Available

June 27, 2009 Leave a comment

I am thrilled to be a contributing author to a brand new book on how to help you add humor to every presentation you give.  Go Ahead & Laugh: A Serious Guide to Speaking with Humor is now available on this site.  Look right at the top of this page and you will find a navigation bar with “Go Ahead & Laugh.”  That’s your clue as to where to find it!

Hard copy books are due out in August but you can pre-order them now and receive a bonus.  In addition, you can get a jump start on that next presentation by purchasing your e-Book today!

Many thanks to Rich Hopkins for asking me to be one of the fantastic authors of this book.

I hope you will make an investment in your speaking by adding humor to effectively deliver your message.  Pick up Go Ahead & Laugh today!

Cheers,

Dan

News Release from Dan Weedin

June 26, 2009 1 comment

Dan Weedin is Featured Presenter for Regional Conference

Local consultant speaks at Toastmasters Conference in Oakland, CA

Poulsbo, WA (June 26, 2009) – Dan Weedin, a local consultant and communications effectiveness coac

h for business leaders, recently gave an educational presentation for the Toastmasters Region 1 Conference in Oakland, CA on June 20.

 

Over 200 Toastmasters spanning from British Columbia to Northern California, and including Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming attended the conference.  Weedin gave a 60-minute presentation on how to leverage the use of stories in business presentations to more effectively deliver your message.  Tyree Johnson, the 2009 Education chair for the conference and Past District 57 Governor said, “Dan is the consummate professional speaker. He connects with confident competence so that his audience finds learning both fun and effec

tive. His unique insights and presence make him a top-notch presenter and the audience loves him for it.” 

Weedin is a member of two Toastmasters clubs in Kitsap County.  He was recently quoted in Toastmaster Magazine on the topic of effective networking with improved communication skills. 

For more information, contact Dan Weedin at (360) 697-1058; (360) 824-8100 (fax); or dan@danweedin.com. Please also visit our website at www.DanWeedin.com. 

 

 

Bye Bye Region Toastmasters – Hello International Conference

June 22, 2009 Leave a comment

There has been much conjecture over the past few months about the upcoming change in Toastmasters regarding the end of the Region conferences.  As many of my Toastmasters friends follow my blogs, I thought I’d chime in.

Originally, I was against it.  I didn’t see how taking away the Region Conference could be good for the International Speech Competition or the professional development that comes from the event.

I’ve changed my mind.

After listening to a presentation on how the change will alter the process, I have to say that it’s not all that bad.  Perhaps I should have educated myself better earlier.  Regardless, the information was not disseminated well as I heard from Toastmaster leaders that weren’t all that clear either.

Here’s the deal – Starting next year, the Region Conference is out.  I think the biggest reason is money related (aren’t they always).  It takes a lot of cash to hold one of these events and it only draws between 250-350 people any given year.  The majority come from the area it’s being held.  The balance are district leadership and presenters.  That’s not bringing in the numbers to justify the cost.  As much as the education piece is critical, it now must be strengthened at the district and international levels.

As a speech competitor, I was worried how the demise of a Region conference would be good for me.  I didn’t compete this year as I was a Region educational presenter, but I might again next year.  What I learned was this – a District winner will head straight to the International Convention.  That will bring the top 100 or so Toastmasters into a sort of Round Robin tournament to determine a World Champion.  The good news (that I didn’t know) is that you can keep your District winning speech and give it in the semi-finals.  You still have to come up with a different one if you advance, but it doesn’t mean coming in with two new ones.  You will be randomly drawn to one of 10 semi-finals to compete with others from around the world early in the week.  The 10 winners face off on the Saturday night of the convention.

Here are the cons:

1 – Judges could get overworked.  How many contests can you actually listen to.  My guess is they will need to come up with MANY judges to avoid this.

2 – Added cost for District winners to head to the International.

3 – If you bow out after the semis, it’s probably going to be tough to stay excited the rest of the week.

The pros:

1 – One less date to reserve.  That’s a biggie for me.  When you have to start planning ahead to make sure you can be there, one less contest is a good thing.

2 – You get to use your undefeated speech at the semi-finals.  You can tweak it, massage it, improve it, and then give it all over again. This is again a great time saver.  I’d rather come up with two speeches than three.

3 – You get to compete at the semi-finals with people outside your old region.  If you had a speaker that dominated your region for years, this gives you a chance to get by another group and maybe not meet them until the finals.  Heck, a region could conceivably have 3 or 4 speakers represent them in the finals.  Talk about bragging rights!

I’m sure there will still be some that disagree.  The bottom line is that from a cost standpoint, it’s a no-brainer.  From a competitive standpoint, it actually makes it simpler.  In the end, I changed my mind and am looking forward to throwing my hat back in the ring in 2010.  Will I see you there?
ew months about the upcoming change in Toastmasters regarding the end of the Region conferences.  As many of my Toastmasters friends follow my blogs, I thought I’d chime in.

Originally, I was against it.  I didn’t see how taking away the Region Conference could be good for the International Speech Competition or the professional development that comes from the event.

I’ve changed my mind.

After listening to a presentation on how the change will alter the process, I have to say that it’s not all that bad.  Perhaps I should have educated myself better earlier.  Regardless, the information was not disseminated well as I heard from Toastmaster leaders that weren’t all that clear either.

Here’s the deal – Starting next year, the Region Conference is out.  I think the biggest reason is money related (aren’t they always).  It takes a lot of cash to hold one of these events and it only draws between 250-350 people any given year.  The majority come from the area it’s being held.  The balance are district leadership and presenters.  That’s not bringing in the numbers to justify the cost.  As much as the education piece is critical, it now must be strengthened at the district and international levels.

As a speech competitor, I was worried how the demise of a Region conference would be good for me.  I didn’t compete this year as I was a Region educational presenter, but I might again next year.  What I learned was this – a District winner will head straight to the International Convention.  That will bring the top 100 or so Toastmasters into a sort of Round Robin tournament to determine a World Champion.  The good news (that I didn’t know) is that you can keep your District winning speech and give it in the semi-finals.  You still have to come up with a different one if you advance, but it doesn’t mean coming in with two new ones.  You will be randomly drawn to one of 10 semi-finals to compete with others from around the world early in the week.  The 10 winners face off on the Saturday night of the convention.

Here are the cons:

1 – Judges could get overworked.  How many contests can you actually listen to.  My guess is they will need to come up with MANY judges to avoid this.

2 – Added cost for District winners to head to the International.

3 – If you bow out after the semis, it’s probably going to be tough to stay excited the rest of the week.

The pros:

1 – One less date to reserve.  That’s a biggie for me.  When you have to start planning ahead to make sure you can be there, one less contest is a good thing.

2 – You get to use your undefeated speech at the semi-finals.  You can tweak it, massage it, improve it, and then give it all over again. This is again a great time saver.  I’d rather come up with two speeches than three.

3 – You get to compete at the semi-finals with people outside your old region.  If you had a speaker that dominated your region for years, this gives you a chance to get by another group and maybe not meet them until the finals.  Heck, a region could conceivably have 3 or 4 speakers represent them in the finals.  Talk about bragging rights!

I’m sure there will still be some that disagree.  The bottom line is that from a cost standpoint, it’s a no-brainer.  From a competitive standpoint, it actually makes it simpler.  In the end, I changed my mind and am looking forward to throwing my hat back in the ring in 2010.  Will I see you there?

Cheers,

(c) 2009 Dan Weedin All Rights Reserved <Photo 1>

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Congratulations to Brian Banke

June 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Congratulations to my friend Brian Banke for a stellar performance at Toastmasters Region 1 Conference with his International Speech Competition speech, Lost.  Brian performed very well under the pressure of the contest and should be very proud of his accomplishments.

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23 Best Practices for Business Communications

June 16, 2009 Leave a comment

Here are my 23 Best Practices for Business Communications.  They are not in any priority order or all-inclusive.  They are a good start.  If you commit to all 23, you will go a long way into providing more value for your clients, prospects, and business associates.

•    Learn to anticipate potential questions from clients, prospects, and audience
•    Use role playing as a practice aid for sales calls and networking
•    Arrive early for your speeches
•    Always check audio visual in advance
•    Be prepared for technology malfunctions
•    Internalize your value proposition
•    Write out your introduction and give it in advance to your presenter
•    Don’t try to sell in networking events
•    Build relationships first
•    Ask questions and be an active listener
•    If you’re at a meal, don’t talk with your mouth full
•    Make eye contact on hand shakes
•    Hold eye contact in speeches
•    Use personal stories to advance your message
•    Never stop learning – use professional development opportunities
•    Avoid filler words like uhm, ah, and so
•    Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes – learn and move on
•    Watch great speakers
•    Repeat names to help you remember them
•    Learn to improve your vocal variety and pace to match your message
•    Be likeable
•    Provide value in all your conversations, writings, and speeches
•    Use “you-focused” questions and terms

Cheers,

Know Your Stage

June 9, 2009 Leave a comment

On Monday I was listening to an intriguing interview with horse racing expert Andy Beyer from the Washington Post.  His comments to Mitch Levy from Sportsradio 950 KJR indicate that he believes that jockey Calvin Borel was the reason that Mine That Bird didn’t win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.  He feels that Borel was too overconfident and didn’t do his due diligence in preparations leading up to the race.  Borel had never raced at the Belmont Stakes; a track that is the longest in the country.  Beyer said not only did Borel not do a practice ride or walk the track, he didn’t even watch any of the preceding races that day.  In the end, it cost him the chance to immortalize himself in the sport as the only jockey to win a triple crown riding two different horses.

How well do you research your track?

If you do any speaking on a platform – Toastmasters competitions, Association meetings, Banquets, Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce – then you should be checking out your track prior to the event.

One of my favorite stories about this comes from my friend Jim Key, who was the 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking. The championship that year was in Atlanta and when he checked out his stage, he found that it had a very pronounced squeak in several spots (in fact you can hear them in his winning presentation).  Because Jim was diligent in detection, he was prepared for the results of where he would be walking.  Had he not done this, the squeaks may have distracted him just enough to keep him form winning.  Just like in horse racing, speech competitions are normally won by a nose!

Regardless your reason for being on stage, make sure you check it out in advance.  Walk your speech and check for squeaks, nuances, areas where you might not be as visible, and areas where you might have had props.  The better prepared you are, the better you will be able to deliver your game-winning speech.

Cheers,

(c) 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved