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Thursday, October 16, 2014

CommCore Video Blog: What Were They Thinking - Ebola Dallas

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

CommCore Video Blog: What Were They Thinking - Reputation

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Handle Difficult Questioners

In every audience, there are types of “questioners” – not just the actual question --  who can distract from the speaker’s key messages and have the potential to sidetrack the presentation.  Here are some tips on the different kinds of questioners and how to handle them.

  • The Detailer:  At every presentation, there’s a questioner who argues details such as facts and figures.  The point is usually minor; deal with it quickly and move on.  If you are sure of your facts, stand by them. If there’s room for disagreement offer to resolve the issue after the session.  The worst thing you can do is get into a debate; once you’ve offered to see the person later, bridge to the larger issue.  

  • The Filibusterer: Questioners who filibuster never get around to asking a question; they instead take advantage of the Q&A session to make their own statement or presentation.  Your response should be firm and polite to take back control of the room without alienating the audience by being rude. Handle a filibusterer by using a technique called the “Relay Race Baton Pass.” At the appropriate moment – usually after 25-30 seconds of their monologue – look at the filibuster, address him or her by name, and repeat a few of his/her words verbatim before bridging to the general issue.  Speaker louder and more forcefully as you adjust your gaze to the rest of the room.

  • The Negator: A negator uses the Q&A session as a forum to make a negative statement that is not really a question. Unlike difficult legitimate questions, it is difficult to answer a statement made by this type of questioner and the issue is often not relevant to the rest of the audience.  Ask the person if it would be possible to discuss this further after the session due to time constraints, and then bridge the issue back to the main topic.

  • The Supporter: A questioner who gives you a compliment may not seem like a ‘difficult questioner’ but it is still important to make sure that you handle it properly.  A speaker’s instinct may be to thank the person and move on but it’s important to thank the supporter for the statement and use the compliment to bridge to additional positive key messages.  

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Four Types of “Grabbers” for your next presentation

The function of the opening is to grab the audience’s attention, clearly convey the basic message, outline the agenda and points that will supports the message.

The appropriate degree of the “grab’ will vary depending on the occasion and audience.

Here are four types of grabbers to consider for your next presentation:

  1. The Bottom Line:  When presenting to a Board of Directors, or decision making body, skip most of the fluff and start with a clear bottom line of the presentation. Think about the GPS in the car; start with your destination and then fill in the route for getting there.
  2. The Anecdote: Almost any anecdote such as a personal story with or smile or “ah-ha” – can do the job. The story can pull an audience in, especially among peers.  While humor is good bonding materials, which makes it a valuable ingredient in openings, avoid jokes because even experienced comedians fall flat on their face at least 30% of the time.
  3. The Prop: At a recent presentation about diabetes, the presenting physician opened her presentation with an old medicine bottle with a skull and cross bones in her hand.  The opening statement was, “We’ve come a long way in treating diabetes. Drugs are much safer than they were decades ago. There is now a treatment option for Type II diabetes with an impressive safety profile that I want you to consider…” The prop helped draw the audience into her lecture. 
  4. Use the news: When you start with a reference to a newspaper, magazine or on-line article, it immediately grabs the audience.  If the attendees have seen the article, they will start making connections to what you are about to say. If they haven’t seen it yet, but you provide a link, when the attendee clicks on the link later in the day, he or she will remember more of your presentation.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Fall Internships Available

CommCore is recruiting for a Public Relations/Marketing Intern for an Internship to work directly with the founder of the company and his team.  The position involves all aspects of marketing and new business development with major focus on developing pitch letters, as well as:

  • Database management
  • Social media
  • Traditional public relations tactics, such as assisting with press release writing and distribution, and media outreach. Developing lists and maintain press list
  • Contribute ideas for monthly newsletter – Observer
  • Conduct research on recent media and crisis news, current clients, etc
  • Attend and observe local client meetings and training workshops
  • Assist office with daily projects

This is a non-paid internship. The benefit: letters of recommendation and evaluations for your résumé. Hours: 20-30/week (days flexible).

Please visit our web site to learn about the company: www.commcoreconsulting.com
We specialize in:
  • Communications Training for Media Interviews, Presentations & Testimony
  • Message Development
  • Communications Strategy
  • Crisis Planning & Response
  • Public Relations
Our office is located in downtown NW Washington DC.  If you believe you are that unique person we are looking for, send your resume and cover letter to Daiva MacKenzie dmackenzie@commcoreconsulting.com.  Include in your cover letter your availability and why you believe you are the best candidate for this position.
The ideal candidate will have the following skills:

  • The #1 criteria is an entrepreneurial spirit and a creative thinker
  • Organized and excellent written skills
  • Fluent knowledge of Microsoft Office products
  • Strong telephone/people skills
  • Experience in market/competitive research
  • Experience using social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
  • Interest in marketing, public relations, business development, communications

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Presenting over the phone has its own set of communications challenges such as:

  • No immediate connection with the participants – no eye contact or body language feedback (unless you have a system like Telepresence)
  • Audio requires different signals, cues and instructions
  • You never know what other things the listener is doing

Here are a few suggestions to better the chances your key points will be heard:

1. Prepare yourself as a different type of presenter

  • Listen to talk radio, specifically call-in shows for examples of presentations via phone
  • Tape a practice lecture and listen to it
  • Increase voice modulation by 20%

2. During your talk

  • Have a hard copy of your slides; spread them out on the desk or table
  • Stand up
  • Remind the listener what slide you’re on as you advance through the presentation
  • Work on transitions between slides
  • Suggest your audience to write down key points – keep them from multi-tasking

3. Handling the Q&A/wrap up:

  • Call on participants by name and location
  • Moderate between participants calling in from different locations
  • When facilitating Q&A, have participants give their name, location and specialty before the ask the question
  • Summarize the key take-aways from the call

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Friday, July 18, 2014

6 PowerPoint/Prezi Tips

While PowerPoint or Prezi often helps the presenter produce professional work with great visuals, too often we lose sight of the purpose of slides and “visual aids.”  Presenters spend countless hours perfecting every bullet and transition, falsely assuming all eyes will be on the slides, not the speaker.

Keep these tips in mind before you deliver your next presentation:

1.       Remember YOU are the presentation – not your graphics and   visual support
2.       Go easy on the text – words are better than phrases, phrases are better than sentences
3.       Be judicious when adding multimedia components like streaming video, graphics and illustrations
4.       Keep your explanation of each slide to under a minute
5.       Focus only on the points you want to highlight – don’t try to discuss every point on the slide
6.       Produce two “decks”. One is the live version.  The other – with more text --  is for those not in attendance

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