Storytelling Elements for Public Speaking

 
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Whether you are speaking to a small room of five people or an auditorium of 5,000, storytelling will make your presentation memorable. Studies show people are more likely to retain information when it is told through story. Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

1. Keep it simple.

Make sure the details you’re sharing are necessary to the story. Too much information can be overwhelming for the audience and make your story hard to remember. It’s easy to add fluff, but it’s hard to refine your thoughts to align with what matters.

  • Tip: Edit, edit, edit. Read through your story multiple times and take out unnecessary fluff.

2. Use emotion.

Make people care about what you’re saying. Yes, statistics and data can be helpful, but using a genuine, real world example that utilizes emotion has been proven to be more effective. It makes the information stick with your audience and has a lasting impact.

  • Tip: Use names! Giving a face to a story makes it more personable and memorable.

3. End strong.

Every good story has clear conflict resolution. This is where your message should be clearly defined without open ends. It should be obvious and leave the audience feeling inspired! Use wording that will resonate with your audience and remember to keep it short and sweet.

  • Tip: Try limiting your message to one sentence or just a few words. Setting a word limit can help center and focus your thoughts.

 

All About the Experience: Connecting Beyond the Digital World

 
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The live experience is not dead.

While we can listen to free music on Spotify, we jump at the chance to see our favorite bands in concert. While we can FaceTime family from across the country, we endure the pains of traveling to spend the holidays together. While we can go on YouTube to watch keynotes and presentations, we travel to different cities to  hear thought leaders share their ideas live.

Why? Technology allows for valuable connection, but in-person interactions create irreplaceable and authentic experiences outside of the digital world. An Eventbrite study found 78% of millennials  are fueling the “experience economy”—spending more money on experiences rather than materials.

Here are four reasons why it’s valuable and important to attend events in today’s digital era.:

1. Learning IRL Instead of URL

Listening to a speaker in person offers a rich opportunity to actively watch, listen, and receive information. According to a recent Forbes article, “like artists, the best speakers are original and relevant in the moment. You can’t get that online. The best reinforce a mission, catalyze an audience, even inspire action.” Face-to-face interactions help motivate and mobilize people, rather than just being another message on the other side of a screen.

2. Networking

Nothing beats gathering people in one place in real life. According to The Muse, “conferences are one of the single best ways to network.” Instead of having to come up with an icebreaker, a conference provides a common topic to chat about: the conference itself!

You may not only make new connections, but also could potentially make new friends. Thirty percent of millennials say they met someone at a live event that became a good friend. Who knows, the conversations you have at an event may be even more valuable than the content.

3. Ask Questions, Get Answers

When a session includes a quick Q&A, make sure to bring your questions! While you may already follow a speaker on Twitter or have their email address, make the effort to introduce yourself personally and ask a question directly. The answer they provide face-to-face may be more extensive than over a tweet or email. Conferences allow for direct access to experts and thought leaders seen on stage.

Events allow you not only to gain insight from speakers, but also from other industry professionals. Gather intel from fellow attendees on topics and ideas that are of interest to you. Translate those insights into actionable takeaways that you can implement at your company.

4. A Change of Scenery

How often do you actually set aside time to learn something new relating to your field or industry? Conferences and events offer the opportunity to embrace a posture of learning. Take advantage of listening, asking questions, and participating in discussions at events. Embrace the change of scenery and extract all that you can from the experience.

People appreciate live experiences, even with an abundance of online content available. Watching videos from behind a screen is not the same as watching a speaker live from the audience. People truly value the event experience: learning from speakers in live settings, networking with other attendees, and implementing relevant takeaways.  

Interested in attending more events? See where we’re speaking next and subscribe to our monthly newsletter today!

 

How to Leverage Social Media for Your Business

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With nearly two-thirds of the population checking social media daily, there has never been a better time to utilize online platforms as a business tool. In fact, last June Instagram, reached a whopping one billion monthly active users, making customer engagement just one click away for most businesses.

For some people, social media may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. When executed correctly, social media is an incredibly effective marketing tool. It serves to boost brand exposure, encourages two-way communication, and humanizes your brand. No matter your experience with the various social media platforms available today, we’ve compiled eight  cred-approved strategies below to help you drastically improve your online presence.

  • Establish a clear goal
    No matter what your goal is, make it SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Once you have established your one clear goal, you and your team can collaborate on how to achieve it. Remember, it needs to be realistic. You won’t get 1,000 followers overnight.
     
  • Commit to your brand
    In order for your company to be distinguishable from competitors, it’s important to establish one style for your brand. Every post, retweet, and Instagram story should be in line with your brand. This includes keeping everything consistent, from voice to aesthetics.
    • Pro tip: People are drawn to authentic brands so don’t be afraid to show personality, but always keep it professional. For more tips on developing your personal brand, check out this post.
       
  • Stay on top of trends
    Channel your inner Austin Kleon and steal like an artist. When you notice new trends on social media, leverage it to your advantage by improving or expanding upon it. Things are popular for a reason. If you see a creative Instagram story or an engaging tweet, save it and then improve it later to make it your own.
    • Pro tip: Tag your location using Instagram Stories to broaden your reach and then organize your stories into highlights.
       
  • Use the right hashtags
    Make it a daily habit to search trending hashtags on Twitter and Instagram to see what people are talking about. By consistently #hashtagging related content on your posts, your account will gain more traction and followers.
     
  • Make customer engagement a priority
    Social media has opened the floodgates to instant gratification. In a matter of minutes, you can comment on a post and receive a response, and this makes customers feel important. By interacting with users daily, your company will be on its way to boosting followers and building credibility.
     
  • Track your analytics
    Create a business account to learn more about your audience’s behavior and demographics. With Instagram Business Tools you can track your impressions, outreach, profile views, website clicks, and more. With Twitter Analytics, you can measure and boost your impact on Twitter by viewing your impressions. These insights will help you gauge what days and times are best for you to post your content, this way you can provide more timely and relevant content for your followers.
     
  • Create a content calendar
    Using business accounts, find out the best times to post on your feed, then plan out your content for the month. By using a calendar, you can keep yourself organized and have your content scheduled ahead of time. This way, you’re never missing a day or struggling to find content to post.
    • Pro tip: Create content ahead of time and save them in your drafts. When the day comes around, all you have to do is press send.
       
  • Make a commitment
    Last, but certainly not least: staying on top of mind should be your number one priority. In order to make an impression, you first need to make a commitment. Set reminders to post daily on social media so you never miss a beat.

By making time to post consistent, relevant, and relatable content on social media, you will be able to expand your reach, boost your brand exposure, and engage more frequently with your audience. By using these tips, you will be well on your way to improving your online presence and increasing your brand’s credibility.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram!

Inspiration On-The-Go

 
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Here at cred, we work with a list of clients who have turned inklings of ideas and moments of inspiration into influential businesses. While collaborating with these founders and funders, one of the biggest lessons I’ve taken away is that inspiration can be found in the most everyday experiences, and you can inject creativity into even the most routine projects. 

What’s one everyday experience most of us share? The commute to work. Whether you’re on a train, catching a bus, walking to work, or sitting in traffic on the highway, you’re probably wearing headphones, scrolling through the news on your phone, or reading a book. For me, this is a time for catching up on news or listening to music, but I find that the entertainment I use to drown out BART noise often shows itself in my work. 

Below are a few of the things I’m enjoying on my way into work, then incorporating into my work day: 

What I’m Listening To (Podcast Edition):  ZigZag

While listening to a recent episode of 99pi, I heard a preview of a new show called ZigZag— ”mini-stories about entrepreneurship, deciding how to align your values with your ambitions, and building strong partnerships”—and immediately subscribed. At cred, we work with many clients on both sides of these partnerships, both founders and investors; and while we know their stories—the successes, the challenges, the roadblocks—it’s a completely different experience to listen live as the hosts, Manoush and Jen, allow listeners to sit in on a meeting with a potential investor, or be a fly on the wall during their conversation weighing the pros and cons of building a business with venture funding. I’ll be tuning in over the next few weeks, to follow their progress and get an up-close and personal look into the life of an entrepreneur.

What I’m Listening to (Playlist Edition): Hit Parade’s “Feat. Don’t Fail Me Now” Playlist

Can you tell that the backup vocals in Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” are Mick Jagger? Or that the high pitched voice in David Bowie’s “Fame” is John Lennon? You wouldn’t know from the way the songs are credited. A recent episode of Hit Parade explored how the music industry went decades without crediting featured artists, and they made this playlist of songs featuring uncredited artists—a lot of them music industry royalty. How has this fit into my work day? In the cred office, almost every project we work on is a group effort, and listening to this playlist has been a low-key reminder to collaborate whenever possible, ask for ideas, always give a shout out to people who helped push a project toward the finish line. (Bonus: This playlist functions as a great lineup of classic hits, for when you need to throw on your headphones and focus).

What I’m Watching: Explained

If you’re someone who prefers to watch a quick episode of TV on your train ride, Explained may be the show for you. After many, many coworkers recommended this show, I had to check it out (at home, not in transit), and it’s the episode on cryptocurrency that really stuck with me. We work with leaders at the forefront of the blockchain space—a huge sphere of innovation to learn the basics on—and this quick lesson was the perfect primer on currency exchanges. If you’re more inclined to written word than ledgers, the episode on the exclamation point is another great choice.

Do you have a favorite podcast, book, movie, or song that’s inspiring your work? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

The Power of Why

What is it that separates our favorite companies (looking at you Southwest Airlines) and leaders (hello Sheryl Sandberg) from the rest? Simon Sinek believes the answer lies in cultivating a strong sense of “Why.” These leaders, companies, and products have a clearly defined purpose.

Simon, an unshakable optimist, leadership guru, and visionary founder—is the author behind the best-selling book Start with Why and the influential TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” Guided by his principles of inspiration and mission-driven living, cred spent the last month exploring our own Why. Here’s what we learned!

 
 Simon Sinek explains the Golden Circle, courtesy of TED

Simon Sinek explains the Golden Circle, courtesy of TED

 
  • Start with a Map: Seeking the Why behind personal and professional actions is an extremely daunting task. To alleviate confusion, Simon introduces a clear framework for organization called the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is a schematic that helps visualize the What, How, and Why behind a person or product.  Here’s the breakdown:
    • WHAT: These are products or services.
      • If we take cred for example, the WHAT is securing speaking opportunities for clients.
    • HOW: These illustrate the action behind a company or individual’s What.
      • For cred, our Hows are writing pitches, contacting event organizers, and building positive industry relationships.
    • WHY: The core purpose, cause, or belief!
      • cred’s Why is to connect speakers to engaged audiences so that they build thought leadership and create environments that inspire.
         
  • Craft your Purpose Statement: Once you’ve defined the What, How, and Why, it’s time to reflect on its relevance in your own life. This can take shape in many ways, but we found it helpful to create sentences with a handy template: To___ so that ___.

The first blank represents contribution— the thing you or your company does to bring about results— and the second blank represents the impact of that contribution. Plug in the blanks and - Voila! - you’ve got a purpose. While it’s never as easy as that, finding purpose is possible and an extremely rewarding journey!

  •  Share: Success goes where energy flows! Once you’ve built a purpose statement, share it in the comments below. We’d love to celebrate your mission!

Branding with Brandi: 8 Steps to Building your Personal Brand

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Branding with Brandi: 8 Steps to Building your Personal Brand

When we think of brands, we commonly think of recognizable names like Tiffany & Co., McDonalds, Nike, and Amazon, but have you ever thought of yourself as a brand? Start by asking yourself why is everyone drawn to those popular products or services over their competitors, and what qualities and characteristics set them apart. Using that same thought process, think about yourself and what qualities and characteristics distinguish you from everyone else.

Recognizable brands reveal the power of perception and the strategy of self definition. People are drawn to their perception of you and the reputation you leave behind— a unique combination of personal characteristics, values, strengths, and passions create value and separation from your peers. You’re just as much a brand as Nike, why not market yourself as one? If you’re looking to effectively market yourself, generate more leads, or establish yourself as a thought leader, developing a personal branding strategy is critical to your success.

The first and most important step in developing your personal brand strategy is defining your Personal Brand. Follow these 8 steps to begin defining your personal brand:

  1. Define your target audience.
    Who do you want to receive your message?

  2. Contemplate your vision and purpose.
    Think bigger picture here—in what areas of life would you like to see improvement, and what role will you play in making that happen?

  3. Discover your values and passions.
    Values are your guiding principles (ex. collaboration, transparency, impact, integrity), and passions are the things that motivate you. By determining your values and passions you’ll naturally gravitate towards people and activities that best align with yours. Notice how these correlate with how you operate at your job, around others, etc.

  4. Identify 3 - 4 of your best attributes.
    Some questions to ask yourself: What adjectives would others use to describe you? What words would you use to define your personality? What personality traits best showcase how you work towards your goals?

  5. Identify 3 - 4 of your greatest strengths.
    What is your unique “super power” that has benefited others or your company? Your strengths are the skills that position your value above others.

  6. Ask for feedback from those that know you best - family, friends, colleagues, managers, anyone.
    A true measure of your brand is others’ perception of you, which is a reflection of the reputation you curate. Ask what they think are your top qualities and strengths, and compare their response with what you’ve identified in numbers 4 and 5.

  7. Know who your competitors are, and what differentiates you from them.
    Why should anyone choose you over your competitor? Remember your personal brand is the unique value you offer, so consider what qualities you contribute that no one else does.

  8. Finally, select 3 words that best describe you.
    If you’ve completed the steps above, you’ve already highlighted your top attributes and have an idea of what qualifications distinguish you from others. Now zero-in further and describe yourself using only 3 words. These three words will reflect your personal brand!

Want to learn more about personal branding and building your personal brand? Check out this guide.

 Brandi's Three Words to create her brand are: Tenacious, Diligent, and Charismatic

Brandi's Three Words to create her brand are: Tenacious, Diligent, and Charismatic

The Power of a Short Speech

At cred, we love to collaborate and give everyone on the team a chance to be a voice for the industry. Here is what one of our Senior Associates, Anastasia Hardin, would like to share about how to capture attention when speaking.

In today’s connected, app-for-everything world, distractions are plentiful at any time of day. We’ve all felt that “smart phone reach” before: we’re sitting in a presentation, maybe 10 minutes in, and our mind wanders to that email we need to respond to, the crowdfunding campaign we’ve been monitoring, the engagement on our latest social media post, and oh wait - Buzzfeed just pinged us with another Top 10 article that we just have to read…

How do you keep an audience’s attention when they have the world at their fingertips?

While there are many pointers out there (read more here or here) today we want to focus on perhaps the most important factor: TIME.

As attention has become more of a scarce resource, the length of a speech plays a big role in how engaged and enlightened your audience will be. Keep it simple and short. Listening takes energy which can be draining. Too much information can prevent understanding.

So what is the ideal length of a presentation? Some would argue 5 minutes is enough to get a point across, but in most settings, anything under 20 minutes is the real sweet spot.

And if you don’t believe us - go check out the most watched TED Talks. 80% of them are under 20 minutes.

TED Curator, Chris Anderson, on keeping it short and relevant:

"[18 minutes] is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online. It’s the length of a coffee break. So, you watch a great talk, and forward the link to two or three people. It can go viral, very easily. The 18-minute length also works much like the way Twitter forces people to be disciplined in what they write. By forcing speakers who are used to going on for 45 minutes to bring it down to 18, you get them to really think about what they want to say. What is the key point they want to communicate? It has a clarifying effect. It brings discipline."

 Photo Of TED Curator Chris Anderson by Jame Duncan Davidson at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tedconference/9029271822/in/photolist

Photo Of TED Curator Chris Anderson by Jame Duncan Davidson at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tedconference/9029271822/in/photolist

If you are thinking, “how can I possibly get everything I need to say in under 20 minutes?” -- stop a moment and remember the most powerful speeches you’ve ever heard in person or from history. Chances are, they were short and simple.

Maybe they included:

If you want to avoid looking out over an audience with their heads buried in their smartphones, then keep your comments short. When you connect your powerful ideas with brevity, you will achieve the greatest impact with your audience.

5 Tips To Present with Confidence

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At cred, we wear many hats, and as part of our onboarding process for new employees, we invite them to educate us on a topic of their choosing on our blog. Here's what Gina King, cred's Associate, is teaching us about presenting with confidence this week!

Did you know that 74% of people have Glossophobia? You might not know what it is by its name, but you’ve probably suffered from its symptoms: nervous sweating, fidgeting, or speaking in a timid voice. Glossophobia is better known as the fear of public speaking, and at one time or another, we’ve all suffered from it.

The best way to combat these nervous behaviors is to present with confidence. While it may seem hard to evoke confidence when you feel nervous, relax, and try one or a combination of these five tips before your next presentation:

1. Research your topic inside and out: When giving a presentation, you are the expert. Make sure to research your subject matter thoroughly ahead of time, and be prepared to answer any questions that come your way.

2. Practice makes perfection: Don’t just practice your presentation the night before, plan to practice at least a week in advance to develop a strong comfort level.

3. Don’t memorize: Instead put your material in structured bullet points to remind you what topics or points you want to make. You also won't sound scripted.

4. Find a friend: Giving a presentation can be daunting. Ask a friend, colleague, or loved one to join your presentation. A friendly face helps you relax.

5. Don’t stress!: Stressing about your presentation creates additional, unnecessary nerves. Instead, try a technique that professional athletes use before big games — take a deep breath, and visualize your presentation going well. This combo technique will help reduce stress and build confidence.

Want more tips on how to evoke confidence during your next presentation? Check out this guide.