When you ask people who they admire, the usual suspects enter the picture pretty quickly.
Mom or Dad.
A brother or sister.
A former teacher, perhaps.
What most of those people have in common centers around two elements: blood relation, or someone in an authority position.
If you were to ask me that question, I’d probably go down the same road. I admire both of my parents (for many reasons), my wife, my brother, a few former coaches and teachers. Heck, even a former pastor I had in my childhood days.
But professionally, that list goes a little sideways.
For me, the list of people I admire professionally isn’t limited to those in authority positions. It’s kinda all over the board.
And, it’s a list of people that might surprise most–including the people I admire. So, I thought I’d share it here today:
Tom Martin, Converse Digital
I’ve gotten to know Tom a bit by hanging out with him at a number of events around the country the last few years. Most recently, we both spoke at the Solo PR Summit in Atlanta last year. Every time I hear Tom speak (three times now), I’ve come away blown away. He’s without question one of the top five speakers I’ve seen live. He’s FULL of great ideas–every time. And, as an added bonus, he’s a down-to-earth, salt-of-the-earth kinda guy. I admire a lot about Tom Martin.
Jennifer Kane, Kane Consulting
Much like Tom, Jen is probably one of the best speakers I’ve seen live. Outstanding, in fact. I had the opportunity to sit on a panel with Jen, too, last year at Social Media Breakfast. And, what I admire most about Jen is her quick wit and her ability to tell it like it is. There’s no sugar-coating it with Jen. Sometimes I struggle with that just a bit, so I really admire people who just come out and say it.
Len Kendall, CentUp
I have had the great opportunity to get to know Mr. Kendall a bit better this year as he’s been working with me closely on a couple client projects. On that end, he’s been fantastic. Beyond fantastic, really. Len also left a full-time, well-paying job to start his own start-up last year, CentUp. As someone who did the same thing (kind of–I didn’t launch a “start-up”, per se, but same process really), I admire anyone who’s willing to follow their dream. Especially people who leave “safe” jobs to pursue something they can’t see or touch–but something they know is out there. (Note: Photo courtesy of John Morrison: http://gallery.subism.com/)
Sarah Panus, Sleep Number
Sure, Sarah’s a client. Sure, this could be perceived as “managing up.” But, it’s not. I’ve worked for and with Sarah now for the better part of four years. And over those four years, I’d be hard-pressed to find a more kind, welcoming, warm, upbeat person. Just the kind of client you’d want to work with. And, just the kind of person you’d want to call a friend.
Brian Bellmont, Jen Bellmont, Shelli Lissick, Bellmont Partners
I started working with Brian, Jen and Shelli four years ago when I started my business. They were my first partners–and clients, in a way. I will be forever in their debt. But, what I admire most about these three is their commitment and blue-collar work ethic. I’ve sat and watched as they’ve built a growing agency from scratch the last four years. One that is about to burst on the Minneapolis/St. Paul scene (too late!).
Susan Beatty, Bremer Bank
I’ve known Susan for years through our PRSA work–and our love of sports (sadly, she’s a Packer fan–you can’t help her). But, what I’ve come to admire most about Susan is her ability to be a connector–something I don’t see done all that well very often. Susan’s one of the best in our town (MSP). She’s been more than generous with me, over the years, when it comes to who she knows and connecting me with people and organizations. But, more importantly, I see her doing it in other areas of her life. Always connecting.
Allan Schoenberg, CME Group
Admittedly, I don’t know Allan all that well. I’ve met him in person only a few times. But, we started a blog together a while back (B2B Voices, which he runs now) and we keep in contact via social media. Here’s another guy who’s easy to admire–I know a lot of people do. But, what I admire most about Allan I learned early on–his desire to give back. Allan was an early #happo partner, when he was still living and working in Chicago. He also established a scholarship in his name at Central Michigan University, where he attended college. By itself, that’s pretty cool. But, Allan takes it one step further, getting together with the kids (and parents, in some situations) who earn the scholarships each year and keeping in touch with them through the years.
Natalie Bushaw, Life Time Fitness
One of the few college friends I keep in touch with, I’ve now known Natalie (pictured at left above) and her family for more than 20 years. Wow, that’s not fun saying that 😉 From the moment I met Natalie in college I knew she was different–in a good way. I’ve been fortunate to stay in touch with her over the years and watch her career grow–and watch her flourish as a Mom (if you know Natalie’s family story, it’s quite incredible). Natalie’s a great connector. She’s an amazing PR leader. And above all, she’s an incredible person. Not much more to say…
A few weeks ago, I missed my favorite local event here in Minneapolis/St. Paul: Ignite. I know many other markets have Ignite events around the country, but here in MSP, the event is always a great time. Not so much because I learn a ton (although I usually do learn a thing or two), but more because I have a great time.
The presentations are always a nice mix of humorous, informative and sometimes quite serious. And as an added bonus I always learn a thing or two about presenting from some of the speakers.
You see, each year, there’s also a nice mix of speaking talent–from novices all the way to borderline professional speakers (or at least those who speak more than a dozen times a year). By the way, you can see all this year’s presentations here, and former year’s presentations here.
For those of you who present as part of your day job, I’m of the belief that public speaking is a work-in-progress. We can all get better. And what better way to learn than to emulate those who do it well. Let’s take a look at 7 of my favorite Minneapolis Ignite speakers and the public speaking/presentation lessons we can learn from them:
Speaker: Melissa Berggren (@marketingmama)
Lesson: One good image per slide
A first-time speaker (and admittedly, I didn’t see Missy this go around, although I’ve seen her present plenty in working with her on #mnblogcon), Missy did a great job with a topic that affects more parents than you might think. However, I thought one of the things she did best were her slides. They were simple. They helped her tell a story. And they included only one image per slide. Corporate presenters, take notice. This is how you build a slide deck–resist the urge to put full paragraphs in your slides. I’m begging you.
Killer line: 40 seconds. No clear winner here since all her slides highlight the tip above, but I love this photo of Missy’s daughter since it helps bring home the point that food allergies are very personal for her.
Speaker: Craig Key (@craigsanatomy)
Lesson: Lead with (self-depricating) humor. Close with facts.
From what I heard (and saw), Craig was probably the most entertaining presenter at this year’s Ignite in Minneapolis. Comes as no surprise, really. He’s presented in front of his fair share of clients. But, to get up in front of 400-plus people at the Heights Theater? That’s a bit different. But, Craig succeeded because he deftly understands how to use humor (and, self-depricating humor–the most effective). Keep in mind, Craig’s presentation had a valid point (educating clients around what “viral” means and strategies to pursue instead). It wasn’t merely a humorous presentation. But, by starting with the humor, he warmed the audience up and got them in the right spot to deliver his knockout punch.
Killer line: One minute, 8 seconds. “For the grandparents in the room, we make internet.” (in describing his role at Space 150)
Speaker: Jennifer Kane (@jenkaneco)
Lesson: Non-verbal cues can make or break your presentation.
In my opinion, the best public speaker in the history of Ignite (she’s presented twice). Much like Craig, Jen understands the power of humor. But, watch her prezo from year one (her Douchebag Zen prezo remains one of the top prezos in Ignite Minneapolis history)–note the non-verbal cues she’s giving off. Doesn’t that help make her presentation?
Killer line: 18 seconds. “Basically douchebags are people that just kinda spritz their BS into the cosmic vagina of our world and they need to be stopped.” (maybe the best all-time line at Ignite).
Speaker: Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson)
Lesson: Make every effort to work George Clooney in your presentation
OK, I’m kidding. Don’t work Clooney into your presentation. But, what Kristina did with this prezo is something you can do at the corporate level, too. Make your presentations HUMAN. Give them a personal connection. And, even make a pop culture reference (Clooney) every once in a while. It’ll warm up your talk. And, it’ll allow you to connect with your audience that much more. Now see, if I would have done this presentation, the reference would have been for Jessica Biel, but that’s a whole nother story…
Killer line: One minute, 40 seconds. Note: She doesn’t even mention “his” name…
Speaker: Julio Ojeda-Zapata (@ojezap)
Lesson: Swearing never works (only if your name is Julio Ojeda-Zapata)
Ha–kidding again. What worked for Julio here is this: Julio is a well-respected, long-time reporter in Minneapolis/St. Paul. But, here he comes to Ignite and he drops a couple f-bombs in the first minute of his prezo. That’s out of character for him. He zigged instead of zagging. Think about your presentations the same way. Surprise your audience. Do something unexpected. Now, to be clear, I’m not suggesting you swear in your next presentation in front of your boss. Just do the unexpected.
Killer line: 2 minutes; “I’ve been trying to figure out why I like my AeroPress so fucking much” (the visual is actually what kills it here…)
Speaker: Jim Bernard (@bernardjim)
Lesson: Let your images carry a bit of the water
So we talked about the simplicity of slides with Missy’s presentation. But, what Jim did so well with his was allowing the visuals in his slides to do some of the talking for him (which is critical at Ignite, where you only have 15 seconds per slide). Think about how you could use visuals (instead of endless text) in your presentations to help you tell your story. Remember, your deck shouldn’t be a teleprompter–it should be a tool to help you tell a full story to your audience.
Killer line: 56 seconds; great visual that sums up Jim’s entire presentation and the ineptitude of his softball team.
Speaker: Mykl Roventine (@myklroventine)
Lesson: Bring the energy
A hat-tip to one of the founders of our local Ignite, Mykl brought great energy to his presentation on karaoke (a topic of which he is very familiar, for those who know in the Twin Cities). This is one of those lessons that should be obvious, but clearly is not based on the hundreds of presentations I’ve sat in over the course of my 18-plus year career. Even if your deck sucks. Even if you haven’t had that cup of coffee. Even if it is 6:30 a.m. Always. Bring. Energy.
Killer line: 4 seconds; “Hello Minneapolis!!!!!!!!!”