Hot Mommas Project winner Ann Bevans talks business & Darth Vader

Posted: May 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Leadership and public voice, Video interviews, Videoblogging, Women entrepreneurs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

DISCLAIMER to readers: Darth Vader was not harmed in this recording.

She just gave a great speech on the benefits and stress from having so many available choices.

She has resolve, success, and a great depth of reflection.

She’s got one heck of a sense of humor, is a Women Grow Business blogger — and she’s a clear winner too.

This ‘she’ is Ann Bevans, a business owner and prize winner of this year’s case study competition for the Hot Mommas Project.

The Hot Mommas Project is an online mentorship library for women and girls, comprised of case studies accessible for free. People from across the globe submit case studies reflecting their life experience about entrepreneurship and different professional industries.

What challenges did they face?

What decisions or fears or obstacles helped to crystalize their success?

These questions are often framed and answered in the most personal and triumphant ways in these case studies.

Ann’s case study won top honors this year, revealing her sense of purpose for her business and resolve to look at specific choices.

In this video talk: Darth Vader talks shop.
And Ann shares more on what compelled her to write her case study. Her potent acceptance speech was a hot topic too, looking at the trials of choice in & beyond business — all this from the Hot Momma’s Awards Ceremony earlier this week.

Congratulations to Ann (and also Liz Scherer, a Women Grow Biz blogger who received Hot Mommas honors this year and was unable to attend the ceremony).

This was first published as a guest post to entrepreneurship community Women Grow Business.

Perceiving Grandma’s unique diplomacy in a different light

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Videoblogging | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Have you ever reconsidered a memory of a person (& then renewed respect for that person too?)?

This is a favorite story about a diplomatic decision my Grandmother made years ago; it was a guest post submitted to Women Grow Business recently. It’s stayed on my mind a lot.

What do you think?

What people in your life have you negatively judged but later, re-perceived their decisions (& assertion) in a positive light?

The welcome surprises of storyboarding a speech

Posted: March 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Exercises for speakers, Practice, Videoblogging | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Today’s post was originally submitted as a guest feature to the great community at Women Grow Business. These thoughts are offered in a few ways: (90) seconds of video embedded here or also a written summary follows too, whatever suits your preference.

What is going on?

What am I going to learn?

How is this relevant to me?

These are driving questions an audience immediately wants answered when you or any speaker takes the stage to give a speech. The first question is the biggie and represents the audience’s natural craving for orientation to the speaker’s purpose.

Lead ‘em to clarity
An audience wants a sense of partnership with us, trust that we the speaker will lead them to some level of understanding. This was really crystallized for me when collaborating with a colleague this week on her speech. She was exuberant about her story; her content was great too.

She was in the initial storyboarding and brainstorming phase. And she wanted to inspire specific reactions in her audience. We were writing ideas on a whiteboard together when…

She stopped, looked me in the face, and said:

“But I really love this particular story. I think the real thrust of my message is right here.”

That’s when I asked we stop for a minute and said: “You just answered the driving question for the audience of ‘what is going on with this speech!’ ”

It was the needed gravity and purpose that the audience would seek.

It caught us both off guard.
When we first started storyboarding, both of us assumed other stories and anecdotes would be priority for her content. But the storyboarding process led to a certain memory, a professional experience that was more conducive to her audience’s expectations. She became more alive when focusing on this perspective; and her clarity of mind heightened too.

That was a welcome surprise (pay dirt!) in preparing the rest of her content.
It was the driving momentum for this speech; in light of her expertise and her specific audience, it’s definitely the story her audience needs to hear.

What about you and your approach to speech prep? Does storyboarding ever produce unexpected surprises regarding content?

How women can be more persuasive speakers (plus presentation tips galore)

Posted: November 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Exercises for speakers, Leadership and public voice, Practice | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Conversations in black pic

It was fast, furious, fun, and a great conversation.

Image Conversation in Black by Pensiero, Creative Commons

It was the first time the #wgBiz hashtag trended in the DC region!

“It” is last week’s #wgBiz twitter chat where for one hour many from the Women Grow Business community talked shop on public speaking tips — all at warp twitter chat speed (full transcript here). Thanks to #wgBiz editor Shonali Burke for the fantastic chance to be a guest and guide the chat.

Energy from all the chatters could fuel Chicago for a week!
And below is a handful of questions and ideas that helped drive the discussion (with the full transcript per above link providing a strong road map to the entire conversation too).

Question 1:
What are the top 3 challenges presenters face when preparing for presentations/speaking engagements?

Answer 1: A few things come to mind — misunderstanding the audience; avoiding that nervous speech energy; pursuing perfectionism; and over emphasizing slides (vs really crafting a story for the speech narrative).

Question 2:
What are some favorite ways to help prepare for presentations?

Answer 2: Really hone in on knowing your audience and then construct a clear, brief, purposeful key message that addresses the audience’s need. There’s a favorite way that mobilizes this process: imagine you had just 60 seconds to impart value to an audience. What would that 60 seconds look like? Would you relate immediately with energized, precise content — or spend 45 seconds thanking the audience and expressing how glad you were to be there? Hint: Convey gratitude through valuable content and authentic, natural delivery. A list of thank yous inspires an audience’s brain to disengage.

Quick footnote:
Storyboard on a whiteboard answers to this question: what’s one story that exemplfies your key message and leads into key points?

Question 3:
What really influences a persuasive delivery, especially for women?

Answer 3: Speaking with vocal strength/versatility and good posture increases persuasiveness a lot, especially for female speakers.

Question 4 – from a chat participant: Where do I put my hands while speaking? What are ways to control gestures overall while on stage?

Answer 4: The most authentic suggestion to this I find is to step back briefly and consider your one-on-one conversation style. As example: when explaining a point of emphasis when the audience is just one or a few, how would you naturally underscore the point? Would you naturally clasp hands together? or would you actually use silent pauses to frame the specific point and draw more attention to the statement? Or would your voice slow and deepen, excluding hand gestures completely?

Even though the energy exchange is much more aggressive and accelerated when speaking to a group, re-connecting with natural conversational gestures can be more natural than ‘forcing’ a particular gesture or approach to emphasize key points. Let gesturing unfold along with the story’s build in the speech.

One huge factor brought up in the chat was relating to audiences authentically and with sincerity. Many folks shared great wisdom about audiences and how they can quickly detect an insincere speaker.

Bottom line: If presenters don’t convey authenticity or sense of care, then why should an audience care or be convinced?

Question for you:
What experiences or favorite tips do you have that have shaped your public speaking strength?

Thanks for a fantastic time and brainstorm at last week’s!

More resources:

And reminder to save the date:
The next @wgbiz chat: Dec. 13, 12-1 pm ET with featured guest and Chief Troublemaker Joanna Pineda with Matrix Group International.

This post was submitted as a guest write-up to Women Grow Business.

So much awesome: the GrowSmartBiz Conference Nov. 5th

Posted: October 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Be Awesome

Do you own your own business or aspire to? Do you like to fill your day with all types of awesome?

Then please join us at the GrowSmartBiz Conference in DC next week [hint: a great, resourceful day awaits].

Both the conference hosts, Washington Business Journal and Network Solutions, seem to have hit the day’s agenda out of the park with only the benefit of small business owners in mind.

C’mon out and join us!
There will even be a chance to meet the Social Media Swami and Grow Smart Business champ Shashi Bellamkonda.

Multiple keynote presenters plus a stunning array of speakers will engage over a full spectrum of small business insight — from marketing and innovation to an entrepreneur bootcamp to social technology and even how small business relates to government and nonprofit sectors.

Major leaders, movers, shakers in entrepreneurship and social media will speak and share insight …including the likes of Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the US Small Business Administration and Rieva Lesonsky, CEO and founder of GrowBiz Media and Ramon Ray, editor of — and so many more…like social media maestros Jason Falls and Rohit Bhargava, with CRM guru Brent Leary too.

Wait, there’s more, more!

Some of the top strategic leaders and business owners who help nonprofits will be on hand too: Care2’s Jocelyn Harmon, RADCampaign’s Allyson Kapin, DigitalSistas’ Shireen Mitchell, and Katya Andresen of Network for Good.


But wait, there’s even more brilliance planned for the day with the Women Grow Business team too:

…like the fantastic Women Grow Business editor Shonali Burke plus bloggers and SEO experts Tinu Abayomi-Paul plus Deborah Ager; leadership pioneer Kathy Korman Frey; award-winning business owner Marissa Levin and human resources extraordinaire Patricia Frame.

I look forward to speaking as well on public speaking 2.0 that day.

To register!
…there’s likely a ticket waiting for you right here.

Photo Be Awesome by Eskimo_joe, Creative Commons

Video Clip: presenting at the Women Grow Business Bootcamp

Posted: July 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Video interviews | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

wgb bootcamp group bloggers
Group photo by Network Solutions’ Shashi Bellamkonda, Women Grow Business blogger team at Bootcamp

As someone who helped get the Women Grow Business community off the ground over a year ago (with the great team of social media swami Shashi Bellamkonda), this particular day made such an impact on my thinking.

It was irreplaceable.

Apart of the DC region’s Digital Capital Week events, it was beyond educational and motivating with over 100 women business owners arriving early on a recent Saturday morning to learn and engage. All this equated to fantastic introductions, new friends, great resources and potential partnerships – thus the first Women Grow Business Bootcamp that wonderful editor Shonali Burke organized. There’s more here on coverage with video excerpts by the great folks at Yayastream.

What would you like to see at the next Women Grow Business Bootcamp?

What an energizing day, with 5 minutes of my closing remarks here.

Social Media Club’s Breakfast: Great Crowds, Ideas, Community

Posted: May 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Thanks again to the Ruiz Mcpherson team for the chance to guest post this fun social media event and talk!

What a blast it was meeting recently with great folks and conversation at Social Media Club’s breakfast hosted in DC. It was great presenting there on an addictive topic: DC’s regional community. What area events bring together people offline and/or through social media? …when, why, and how? These questions were explored (and then some!) by the fun, interactive crowd and the other presenters: TECH Cocktail’s founder Frank Gruber and SMC’s Education Connection guru Yong Lee (and I shared on DC Media Makers and the blogger community Women Grow Business).

Social media love and diversity
It was early a.m. but despite that, a robust crowd was ready to engage! The breakfast attracted many parts of the social media lovin’ community — small business owners, freelancers, educators, content creators, marketers, and more. The diversity stood out and I learned a lot.

Community and social tech
The breakfast underscored a key point: DC provides so many ways to get involved with and learn from different parts of the area (in and beyond digital technology). A snapshot of those discussed:

  • DC Media Makers or #DCMM on Twitter (next event/media mashup: April 28th) – a volunteer group of those who want to learn, create, and talk about digital technology. The goal is to just have fun while sharing digital projects — whether its videoblogging, filmmaking, podcasting, blogging, screencasting, or other ways to create stories and community through digital media.
  • TECH Cocktail or @Techcocktail on Twitter (next event: May 5th) – a dynamic networking event series that features local startups. These events can really pack a room! It’s fantastic and gives selected startups the chance to introduce their business to many plus meet tons of tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and potential funders.
  • Digital Capital Week or @DCWeek on Twitter (next event: June 11th – June 20th) – a huge, inclusive festival celebrating “technology, innovation, and all things digital in Washington, DC.” A ton of events accessible to the public will take place those 10 days. No matter your experience with technology — if you’re curious, enthusiastic (or both) there’s a place for you to have fun. Folks can collaborate on digital projects, host happy hours or panelist events, donate computers to schools or organizations in need and more…
  • Social Media Club’s Education Connection or #SMCedu on Twitter (next event: June 16th) – a dedicated, growing community sharing great resources about the field and asking strong questions, like: How are teachers and students improving education through social media? How can social tech change the future of education itself?

Want more on the breakfast and Social Media Club in general?
Thanks big time to Andi Narvaez and Rachel Rule for making the breakfast possible. There’s content galore about the event, including complete video coverage per the archived web stream with more fun video interviews by Ananda Leeke (and you’re welcome to follow SMC’s breakfast Twitter feed for ongoing chats aka #SMBdc). P.S. The Club’s blog regularly updates with social media news and events.

Pictured above are myself with Yong and Frank – image by Catherine S. Read.