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The new The Brazen Soul website is DONE!

I hope you’ll go check it out. I am really thrilled with the results.

Here’s the link to the home page.

Here’s the link to the blog.

Please sign up for the new RSS feed if you’d like to continue to get The Brazen Soul blog posts through your reader or email.

I – am – SO – excited! I hope you like it… please let me know what you think! (either through that email link – or in comments on… hooray!… the new blog)

I was talking with a colleague the other day about her work. I said something like, “You need to establish yourself as the expert that you already are on this topic.” (She really is.)

Her: “I resist calling myself an expert.”

Me: “Why?!”

Her: “There’s a lot I don’t know. I am always learning… (more about how she doesn’t know everything about the topic.)”

Me: “Okay. And, why exactly does that fact that you don’t know everything there is to know about a topic make you not an expert?”

Her: “I just assume that if someone calls themselves an expert that they know it all – or think they do – about a topic.”

Me: “Does your accountant know everything there is to know about accounting?”

Her: “No. But she knows a hell of a lot more than me, which is why I pay her to handle it.” (lightbulb moment… smile grows on her face.)

You are an expert. Own it.

The thing is, expertise comes from both knowing… and knowing how to find out really fast and quickly. It comes from experience (check it out – they share the same root word: experīrī!) and practice and study.

Want to know if you are an expert? Ask yourself this question: “Can a relatively large number of other people learn good stuff from me on this topic to make their lives significantly better?” If the answer is yes, you are an expert. If it’s not, then go get more experience and study then come back to this post again afterward.

But that’s just the first step of making expertise work for you.

The World Deserves to Know About Your Expertise.

Now, you’ve got to let people know that you’ve got useful information that they can use. Not because you want to be pompous and hoity-toity (I can’t believe I just spelled that right – and there is a definition for it!), but because this is how you Contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

So you become a leading-authority. You do this because it’s the best way for people to learn that you can help them. You also do it because it’s good for your business, of course. Getting clients and customers is what pays your bills, which allows you to keep Contributing meaningfully, which is your responsibility, really.

See how becoming a known leading authority on your topic of expertise is a community service? It’s the right thing to do.

Let’s talk more about this.

Now let that sink in for a while and I’ll put together some posts about how to become a leading authority, okay?

I was granted another five minutes of Ignite-style fame yesterday at the Central Oregon AdFed meeting, along with ten other mighty fine presenters. As is so often the case at one of these events, I took away at least as many tidbits about public speaking as I did about the topics of the meeting (in this case: What Inspires You?)

I’m going to tell you about the public-speaking stuff I learned. Let’s talk about what inspires us another time, though, okay? Because that’s a cool topic, too.

First of all, as is tradition with Ignite events, great presentation skills and established expertise on a topic area are irrelevant. Ignite is about burning ideas and sharing them – not about recruiting the most accomplished speakers/experts. While the speaking prowess in the room varied, overall it was an impressive crowd. Tons of humor, cool insights, and clever slides. The audience was interactive – laughing, sighing, and otherwise riveted by each presentation. It was a really nice relationship going on there.

Noticing what was awesome as well as what could have gone better, I walked away with some insights and reminders I thought you might find useful for your next however-many-minutes of fame. Here they are:

1. Your slides should amplify your presentation. One presenter had these hilarious slides that were giant images of people with words imposed on the image, acting as quotes from that person that amplified his already very funny description of training for a triathlon. The best part, though, was that he kept the attention on his delivery as well. He used fabulous facial expressions (once winking in mock-flirtation with an audience member to backup his point) and pauses to allow the audience to interact and engage both with him and his slides. Don’t let the audience walk away without a very clear picture of what you are like – this defeats the purpose of getting your expertise out there.

2. Get a wireless microphone if at all possible. (Note to self: always check the equipment before speaking.) I go into presentations assuming that I will have free run of the stage/speaking space as I talk. This is an inappropriate assumption, I was reminded again yesterday (yes, it’s not the first time I have run into this. argh.) I practiced assuming I’d be moving around. I had large visuals (we had the option to forgo slides, which I took advantage of in service of more direct eye contact with the audience) that required gathering, showing off, and twirling for a great view. This was cumbersome and a bit awkward standing behind a podium (never ever stand behind a podium, unless you absolutely have to! More on this in a future post) and leaning toward a fixed microphone. Next time, I will ask ahead of time if there is a wireless microphone I can use (you’d be surprised how often they assume you want the podium). And I will have a backup plan in mind for how to handle it if I am stuck there without the mobility that I know makes for a way better presentation.

3. Respond to your audience (within reason). So many of the presenters did a fabulous job of this. It really felt like a conversation at times. Quite a few presenters asked for shows of hands and even asked for verbal feedback from the crowd. This is excellent speaking strategy. The key to making this successful (which yesterday’s presenters did beautifully) is to respond to the feedback very specifically. Take that request, feedback, and response cycle full-circle. Otherwise, your audience is just left hanging there with their responses lingering in the air. The ability to take in whatever new information came from the audience and use it to better your presentation is impressive. One caveat: don’t let it get out of hand. If the audience is a rowdy one (this happens sometimes – audiences vary so greatly) sometimes the feedback can keep going and start to take you off track. Stay in charge of the content and move on when necessary. Humor and levity is often a good tool here.

4. Say one thing really, really clearly. You want to add value – and that’s where the focus should be when you are granted the honor of holding the stage. Sometimes we think that adding value means we have to say a ton of smart stuff. The truth is, we can only handle so much brilliance in a five minute spot (or 15 minute or 30 minute or whatever). Your audience will walk away with inspiration and motivation – and remember why they feel that way – if you give them a bunch of compelling reasons to do or believe one thing. And the thing should be really simple and/or super clear – like Vacation in Nebraska, The Power of Conviction, and Why Gluten Rocks (some of the themes we saw yesterday.)

5. Be totally fine with whatever happens while you’re on. It’s how you handle it that matters. Some of the presenters’ slides didn’t advance as they expected. Others hadn’t practiced with a timer and therefore were left hanging with nothing left to say while a slide sat on the screen ticking away the last 10 seconds of its commitment in the slideshow. As for me, I couldn’t figure out how to talk into the mic stuck to the podium and hold my large and bulky visuals in a way that everyone could see them and I could keep talking. There were a number of little technical glitches as we all ventured through our speeches, as is often the case in speaking. Regardless of what happens when you are up there on stage, it is how you handle it that matters to your audience. If you are fine (and rectifying the situation or continuing your content-rich presentation despite of it), they are virtually always fine.

6. If you loved someone’s presentation, tell them. When the meeting was over, a woman immediately came up to me and told me she really enjoyed my presentation – how much my passion for words reminded her of a good friend of hers. We had a lovely ensuing conversation about our respective work and about presenting in general. When she walked away, my insides were happier. I was smiling bigger. That’s a really nice gift to give someone. As I walked out, I sought out a few of my favorite presenters and told them that I loved their presentations. Many were already in conversations with others (see, being a presenter makes networking so much easier!) but at least I got to toss them a “lovely job” or “loved it, thank you!” as I walked by toward the door. I’m guessing by their big smiles that they were getting more of the same from their conversational partners.

I hope these reminders serve you well as you seek out more of the goodness that public speaking can bring to your business. And still, the only really powerful way to get better at public speaking is to do it. As often as you can. I know it’s nerve-wracking (boy do I know) but I promise that gets better more familiar as time goes on and becomes less of a barrier to enjoying doing presentations.

And please tell – what are some of the things you love to see and do in presentations? I’d love to hear.

Proud to be an innerpreneur A big special “Hello” to those of you visiting from The Rise of the Innerpreneur!! So happy to have you here.

I’m really lucky because Tara Joyce, the brilliance behind Elasticmind, invited me into the Innerpreneur Spotlight for February.

Tara has built a seriously excellent resource for us innerpreneur types – I go there often to find my kin and read Tara’s lovely, thoughtful writing. She also has her finger on the pulse of the passion-driven entrepreneur community, like the cool data gather she has in this blog post.

Go check out Tara’s blog where you can read about me there today (as if you don’t get enough about me here already) and be sure you venture around. You’ll find so much brilliant useful stuff there.

There’s  a difference between a Mompreneur and an entrepreneur who happens to also be a mom. I think it’s an important distinction, as we traverse the world of “ideal clients” and “target markets” in creating marketing messaging.

I have three little girls. I adore them, I hang out with them, I take care of them, I love them. I care for them with my husband in an Equally Shared Parenting way.

And I started and run my own business. I spend (way) more than 40 hours of my week working, thinking, strategizing, fantasizing about the possibilities for this business. I express parts of my personality and soul in this work that are simply unrelated to my mothering. This work is not about my being a mother.

I spend even more hours of the week thinking, strategizing, playing, fantasizing, and exploring stuff related to my family, my kids, my marriage, my friends… my overall life.

As far as I can tell, being a mompreneur is about balancing motherhood and entrepreneurship. But isn’t that true for father’s, too? My husband is an entrepreneur – but no one thinks of him as a dadpreneur (though there have been attempts at pulling together a movement, it seems.) I’m trying to figure out why I need a special label for my entrepreneurial work when he doesn’t.

I would venture that I struggle with many of the same things that mompreneurs struggle with, like how to care for the babes when my husband and I both have work commitments and our caregiver is sick. (My husband is struggling with that same thing, not-so-incidentally.) It’s possible that our lives look quite similar, overall, actually. But for me, it’s a feeling that the mompreneur concept evokes – that being an entrepreneur is somehow a secondary activity to my mothering. That’s just not true for me. They are two totally different domains of my life and self-expression, both really important to living my “brazen soul dream.” I want them to have their own spaces and titles.

I’ve been on writing retreat so I’m behind on my blog reading. There are certain blogs that just lift me up or make me think or add to my life and business in myriad ways, that I can feel it when I am away from them.

It’s hard to keep track of ideas.

Like 37Days, which I only recently discovered (via Twitter, of course, that crazy, crazy place). Patti Digh does these cool themes for different days of the week, which I think is such a clever idea. In fact, I have about ten slips of paper in various spots around my work area of the different themes I plan to employ on my blog only I never get organized enough in my blogging to do the themes. Maybe some day.

Meantime, I dig the places Patti takes me. Especially this one, from last Thinking Thursday where she shares her need for this whiteboard paint.

Seriously, we just painted the interior of our house, and still I cannot wait to get my hands on this stuff.

Get ‘em on the outside.

Because I am someone who literally can’t know what I am thinking in entirety until it is outside my body. It’s like there’s just too much going on in my head. It’s like when you are in a school cafeteria, or a concert – or one of my family gatherings. There is too much talking, too much raucous, too many people (thoughts) trying to out-shout the other people (thoughts) for the stage.

Writing ideas. Ideas for writing.

In this writing class I am taking, our instructor and others in the class were all sharing the ways that they organize their writing thoughts. Everyone talked about putting them in files, or on index cards and into boxes – one person even suggested putting the notes into little boxes inside of a bigger box. All I could think was, “Then how the hell do you know what they say after you put them away?” For me – put it away and say “buh-bye”.

I wish this weren’t true for me because my need to have everything out in the open in order to remember to use it makes for a very messy environment. You should see my desk right now. Add to that the fact that messes make me antsy and you’ve got yourself a conundrum for creative productivity.

I had no idea there was such a thing as whiteboard paint.

In walks the whiteboard paint. I have two large whiteboards that I take wherever I can reasonably haul them. They are critical parties in my writing and work retreats (Inn Staff Person: Oh, are you hosting a meeting here? Me: No, these are just for me. I’m writing. Inn Staff Person: *perplexed and curious look* Oh.) and I use them often in client meetings. The problem is, they are often holding information that I am  not finished seeing. I struggle regularly with the question: Should I get a third – maybe even a fourth – white board?

I am so painting a wall in my office with whiteboard paint. Thanks, Patti.

I wonder- how do you hold and use your ideas?

Thanks yoz for the whiteboard mayhem.

Nancy Jane Smith reported back that she got comments and email sign ups that totaled a $30 donation to Partners in Health via the Help Haiti Blog Challenge that Kelly Diels of Cleavage created. I’m assuming some of that was because of some of you. So, thanks so much for joining our collaborative effort. It feels good to be making even a small difference in this tragedy – and doing it in community just feels that much better.

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