Top 5 Reasons Why Marketers Need to Master Public Speaking

Many marketing professionals spend a majority of their careers perfecting the art of communicating to stakeholders via written or visual media – using product collateral, e-campaigns, infographics, video and other deliverables. We tend to make it our role to enable others to be heard while ourselves standing in the shadows. But while bringing other people into the spotlight, there are still a number of reasons why marketers need to be as comfortable at the podium as well as behind the scenes.

1. Build “Brand Me”

We are all constantly reminded that the concept of career development is more than having a well-structured CV. We now need to consider things like our online social media profiles, our personal USPs, perfecting elevator pitches and building our personal brand. And if we want to convey the message that we are worth listening to, the best way is to show that others are listening to us. Having regular speaking engagements or video blogs to underpin that message is extremely useful to establish our relevance. As you rise through the ranks and gain more senior positions, there will be an increased requirement for you to be comfortable speaking to groups of people, so start getting that experience as early in your career as possible.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected

We’ve all been there. That event or meeting where you suddenly get put on the spot. Someone asks you a question which requires a response in front of the entire audience. Or you get tasked with introducing a speaker – perhaps unexpectedly, having to improvise. Or worse, you get thrown into the deep end and have to step in for a speaker who was unable to make it. These are all situations which can make us shiver in our boots and cause intense fear. However, if we make it our mission to practise public speaking, these situations will gradually become more bearable as our confidence grows.

3. Communicate consciously

Speaking in front of a physical gathering of people is an entirely different thing to sending them a newsletter or a barrage of tweets. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn how the audience responds to your message. You get to use yourself as a vehicle for sharing information with a very personal touch. Your voice, your body language, your eye contact – these are all unique things to you, which people will connect with. And by connecting with them, you will learn a great deal about them which you will be able to use when you craft your marketing content.

4. Be a business ambassador

Business is people. Your company consists of human beings who all relate to other human beings, establishing relationships, gathering information and facilitating transactions. We often talk about the importance of promoting real people in our marketing strategies in that we build personas, we promote thought leaders, we use pictures of real people on our websites and  collateral. But don’t forget that you, as the marketer, are an important voice in building the business brand. See yourself as the shop window of your company wherever you go. You are a representative, an ambassadeur, a very powerful weapon in the company’s arsenal. This of course requires you to live and breathe the core values and mission of the business, but it also requires the courage – and the initiative – to speak up.

5. Establish your own knowledge

There is tremendous value in sharing information with other people. We all have knowledge and experience which the world wants to hear about and every time you share it, you become empowered in that knowledge. As you develop your speaking skills, it will gradually become easier to tap into that pool of insight whenever people come to you for guidance. This will also contribute to you becoming a role model for other people and perhaps inspire a new generation of marketers. Don’t shy away from teaching others because you’re not a “leader” or a “teacher type”. You may not see it yourself, but by wanting to share your knowledge you are already a leader and an influencer. Make the most of it!

For tips on where to get vital training to become a skilled speaker, contact me – I’m happy to recommend courses!


Recruiters say the darndest things

Fancy a job?If you’re a recruiter and find yourself playing any of the following roles – please stop. Now.

These examples are all ones I have personally experienced over the last few years, sometimes when actively looking for work, sometimes not. And they are the reasons why I resent the entire job application process.

1. The Smooth Talker

I was once represented by a particularly suave recruitment agent who would happily go the extra mile to stroke his candidates’ egos. In my case, it wasn’t really needed. When I at one point said that the client would be “very lucky to have me”, he responded by saying “yes, they would indeed be lucky to have an attractive, tall, blonde Swedish lady on their team.”
It took me several hours to calm down enough to write a response, highlighting the inappropriateness of his comment. The main point I made was that I face enough sexist obstacles as it is, working in a male-dominated industry. I don’t need more rubbish from the people who are supposed to support me and recognise my professional abilities. Am I right?

2. The Gap Filler

Sometimes I have come across roles where I am not a great match to the job profile – a view also shared by the recruiter. However, they would still encourage me to apply “just in case”, which is essentially a waste of my time. Recruiters: We know what you’re doing. You obviously have a star candidate that you want to hard sell to the client by placing them next to sub-spec ones. It gives us a false sense of hope. Don’t do that.

3. The Empty Promiser

Don’t say you will call the next day when you have absolutely no intention of calling the next day. Or the next. Or the one after that. It’s called lying – and it’s not a good look.

4. The Silent Type

Apply for the role. Have the phone briefing. Attend the first interview. Seems positive. Report back to the agent. Plan around a vague date for second interview. Wait. And wait. Vague date passes. Call the agent. No update. Wait. Wait. And wait. Then a call out of the blue: “A second interview tomorrow, can you make it?” Attend the second interview. Seems positive. Report back to the agent. Wait. Wait. Wait. Then an email: “Sorry, you were unsuccessful on this occasion”. No detail, no reason, no feedback. Nothing. (Well – I may have been unsuccessful in my application, but you were unsuccessful in  making me ever want to apply for a role through you again.) Hot tip: If you want candidates to invest their time in the application process, be a decent person and keep them posted on progress and – most importantly – if they fail, let them know why it didn’t work out.

5. The Straw Grasper

There is always that recruiter who mines CVs looking for keywords, such as experience of a particular piece of software, and thinks it’s a good idea to spam the candidate with suggested roles that hinge entirely on that one area. As a marketing manager, I frequently get suggested roles as Salesforce API programmer, Java developer, product engineer and other random stuff – from people who should know better. An agent who gives no consideration to my genuine profile deserves exactly what they get: a fast-track to my email black list.

6. The Mole

We all know this type. Popping up out of nowhere, completely unexpected, some recruiters send contact requests on LinkedIn without an introduction and without any contacts in common. Surely, there must be more effective ways to grow your network than sending random contact requests using the generic LinkedIn message? For me, and for many people like me, this approach generates a swift click on the “Ignore” button.

Now – I’m not a recruiter. Far be it from me to tell you how to do your job. However, being at the receiving end of recruitment efforts over the last few years, I like to think I may have gained be an insight or two that might be useful. You should be aware that every time you make any of the above mistakes, you will end up with one more candidate who a) will never actively choose to work with you again and b) is likely to warn friends and colleagues about engaging with you.

In your own words: Better luck next time!

Follow the butterflies

Do you ever dream of doing more than just the nine-to-five? Do you find yourself curious to discover if you could be an innovator, a leader, an inspiration?

Good news! You can discover something new today.

butterfliesWhen participating at seminars and workshops over the last few years, I discovered something. There is an overwhelming number of people around me who have aspirations to turn their passion into a viable business. Many of them are women. Tired of being bossed around and not getting the opportunities they want, hungry for more responsibility and success, they start dreaming of dropping the shackles of employment or – at the very least – doing something they love.

However, many of them experience one major challenge to follow their dream; and it’s one which really surprised me:

Despite not being happy in their current job or life situation, many people find it extremely difficult to figure out what it is they want to do instead.

It’s not necessarily due to a lack of passions or ideas – often it’s having too many ideas and not being able to choose which one to pursue.

I wanted to figure out a way in which I could help people identify viable projects or business ideas which they could channel all their amazing and valuable talents into, so I developed a concept which I call “Follow the butterflies” and which I would like to share with you.

[Disclaimer: This is just a fun activity for finding some initial direction. Always do your research and identify any roadblocks which you may need to resolve in order to safely launch a business.]

The building blocks

Start with five sheets of paper. Label each one according to the below categories and populate the sheets with words as they pop into your mind. Try not to write the same thing on one sheet as on another.

  • Sheet 1: Your strengths
    Start writing down words, spread out across the sheet, in no particular order. Write things you know you are good at – i.e. skills you get complimented for, natural talents, areas where you have acquired excellence through experience etc.
  • Sheet 2: Your joy
    Write down activities which make you happy. Are there any aspects of your current job that make you tingle with excitement? Some activity which, when you do it, creates a sense of fulfilment and joy? One which – if the opportunity was given – you’d be happy to spend more, if not all, of your working hours doing?
  • Sheet 3: Your passions
    Write down problems or issues that make you angry, frustrated, excited or engaged. They can be small or big, relate to personal development or be areas of business or culture or environment. Think about practical, hands-on issues which you would love to solve if you only had the time or the resource.
  • Sheet 4: Tangible business needs
    No passion or strength will translate into a successful business unless people are willing to pay for it. Write down examples of what people around you are investing in today. What types of services are individuals and businesses spending money on? Write down examples which you are interested in or curious about – but it doesn’t have to be only things which you yourself already know very much about.
  • Sheet 5: The important stuff
    List the things which you consider to be important in your life and career, or things which you would like to have more of. (Be honest!) Things like money, more family time, visiting a particular country, having a specific job title or perhaps a team of minions working for you – whatever floats your boat, put it on the sheet. Don’t hold back – be greedy!
Making butterflies

Get 5 containers or bowls, one for each category. Now, take a scissor to the sheets of paper and cut each item into a separate piece. Each piece is then folded up twice and twisted once, to make it look like a little butterfly (OK – maybe not exactly like a butterfly. You have to use your imagination here!) Put all the items from sheet one into the first bowl, then the same with the other sheets and bowls.

Now you’re all set. Time to do the really fun stuff!

Get a blank sheet of paper. Then take one butterfly from each bowl and unfold them in front of you. Focus on the combination of the items. What does this constellation of things tell you? If the items joined together described a particular job, project or business, what would it be?

If you get stuck, use the power of association to think of other items which are closely linked to those in front of you and see if it triggers any ideas.

When you have come up with an idea for a project or business, write it down on your sheet of paper and put the used butterflies to one side. Then pick another one from each bowl and repeat the exercise.

Find anything interesting?

No doubt, this exercise will leave you with a number of ideas which don’t quite fit with your long-term vision of what you want to do with your life. However, it will help you identify new business ideas which you may not have explored before, but which are aligned with your strengths, passions and which meet actual commercial needs.

You can always put your butterflies back in the bowls and do this exercise again to find new ideas.

Happy fluttering!