We’re Ripping the Tape from Our Mouths

We’re Ripping the Tape from Our Mouths

When I was a child, my family lived in Geneva, Switzerland for a few years for my father’s job at DuPont. When I got older, my father told me that there were times that he was in meetings with people he had reason to believe were Nazis, which incensed him. He’d served in the U.S. Navy in WWII, so this must have added another layer of outrage for him.

I’m writing this today because I believe many people in business have shied away from expressing our views on politics and social issues publicly to avoid alienating people with whom we do business that might hold beliefs that differ from our own.

I feel as if recent events are compelling us to rip the tape from our mouths as we can no longer hold back. If I speak out on behalf of racial justice or any other cause that supports greater equality and respect for ALL people and it offends someone, I am not the trainer for them.

We each have to find our tribe. My tribe consists of people who love people and are anti-racist. Period. 

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

INVESTOR PITCHING DURING COVID-19: SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

INVESTOR PITCHING DURING COVID-19: SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

INVESTOR PITCHING DURING COVID-19: SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

A few months ago, I was asked to write an article for Women Founders Network’s blog because I had successfully coached several entrepreneurs to wins in their fast-pitch competition over the past few years. My article on “Setting Yourself Up for Success with Investors” is provided below, but I have prefaced it with some recommendations for pitching to investors during COVID-19.

With the current economic slowdown, the investor landscape is becoming increasingly competitive, so you need to be even more prepared and polished than before. Supply and demand have shifted because less money is being invested overall by venture capital (VC) firms, private investors, and angel investors. This means that they have a greater advantage and may expect more from startups.

Investors will want more assurances and proof that companies seeking funding are operating leanly, pivoting when necessary or possible, and planning for what could be an uncertain path over the next few years.

PART 1: ADJUSTMENTS TO MAKE TO YOUR INVESTOR DECK AND YOUR PITCH

When marketing anything, including marketing your company to investors, think about the goals, needs, challenges, and fears of the people you are addressing. The more you understand the perspective of investors, the more you can tailor your pitch and deck accordingly. Aim to address the most important questions and objections that are in their minds during your presentation.

Here are some adjustments to consider making to your investor pitch deck and your presentation:

Be ready to talk about how the pandemic has affected your industry and, if you’re currently operating, your business. Also, plan to discuss how you will adapt your business practices to suit consumers’ needs and possible desire for social distancing and more thorough hygiene practices unless you have a no-contact business.

Budget for a long enough runway to carry your company through a slow economic recovery. Life and spending in most industries won’t snap back to pre-pandemic states the moment social distancing mandates are lifted.

Show that you can conserve cash and demonstrate extreme fiscal responsibility. Founders that have built their companies through bootstrapping know what it feels like to spend their own money. They have a personal connection to it. In this current environment, startups would be wise to do the same with investors’ money even in the planning and pitching stages.

Adjust your projections to reflect any anticipated decrease in demand for your product or service unless you’re in a sector that has been unaffected or positively affected by COVID-19. For some businesses, basing your projections on data from respected economic analysts or institutions can provide added credibility.

Be specific when talking about your marketing plans. Many startups are too vague when talking about marketing strategies. In periods of economic uncertainty, investors will want to see that you’re very carefully thinking through how you will attract and retain customers who may be more reluctant to spend money than usual.

Emphasize the strength and resilience of your team. If you, as a team or individually, have a brief story about overcoming tough times or finding a way to turn a bad situation into an opportunity, work it into your pitch. Many investors place great stock in the character of the founder and team when deciding whether or not to invest in a company.

Express flexibility regarding terms and your openness to greater input from investors. Because of the current economic climate, some investors will want to provide more guidance than usual to investee companies to help protect their investments. Investors may expect more frequent communication from you regarding progress and reaching milestones.

PART 2: SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS WITH INVESTOR PITCHING

Preparing to pitch to investors can elicit a mix of excitement, fear, and confusion. Getting clear on what investors want, gaining a deep understanding of the details of your business, and creating some new habits will help you to deliver the best investor pitch you can make.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing entrepreneurs in my business and as a volunteer coach for Women Founders Network’s
WFN Fast Pitch competition.

Over the past three years, the people I have coached for WFN have all ended up in the winner’s circle: Sashee Chandran, Founder and CEO of the innovative tea company, Tea Drops, who won first place in 2017; Sabena Suri, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of the gifting company, Box Fox, won second place in 2018; and Paris Sabo, MD, Co-founder and COO of the natural oral care company, Dr. Brite, won second place in 2019.

While their companies and offerings differed greatly from one another, there are several things these three women had in common and several things we did in our work together. Here is advice you can use to achieve similar success with your investor pitches.

EMBODY THE 4 Ps – Be Passionate, Problem-solving, Prepared and Perseverant

An entrepreneur who embodies the 4 Ps will not only impress investors but will be more likely to succeed in almost any endeavor. You will need a genuine passion for your business to drive you through the process of preparing your investor deck and preparing yourself to pitch to, and work with, investors. You will also need to be able to passionately describe what you do, which is part of the preparation process I put clients through.

Your ability to solve problems will be tested throughout the process of preparing for investor pitches and in your business, in general. If you’re not naturally a person who sees obstacles as opportunities, this is a time to focus on shifting your mindset. In your investor pitch, you can demonstrate how you solve problems as you talk about certain aspects of your business. Investors like to learn how your mind works.

Preparation is the key to a great investor pitch! In my work with Sashee, Sabena, and Paris, we worked on everything, from their investor decks to word choices and nonverbal communication, to responses to typical and challenging questions investors might ask. Each of these women stuck with it and did the work they needed to do, which leads to the final “P”.

Perseverance is essential in business. You will inevitably face challenges as you prepare to pitch to investors and throughout the fundraising process. Your ability to keep going is necessary for success.

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS INSIDE AND OUT

Investors will expect you to “know your numbers”, such as your cost of goods, profit margins, customer acquisition cost, burn rate, and more. If you have ever watched ABC TV’s Shark Tank or attended Women Founders Network’s Dolphin Tank or Fast Pitch events, you will hear the same questions asked over and over again.

If you take a step back to look at your business the way an investor would, you will feel clearer on how important the numbers of your business are in helping them to make a defensible investment decision.

In working with Sashee, Sabena, and Paris, each of them worked diligently to find the answers to my questions about certain numbers that were important in telling the stories of their respective businesses.

STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF AND YOUR BRAND

As you look around and see what other successful entrepreneurs are doing, it’s easy to think that if you simply copy them you will achieve the same results they have. It is not that simple. It is important to polish your presentation skills. However, if you stray too far from your natural way of communicating, you will probably feel extra nervous and appear stilted or inauthentic. 

Sashee, Sabena, and Paris did exceedingly well at mastering their material so they could deliver it naturally and with heart. I believe this is part of what led to their success in the competition and subsequent endeavors.

DEVELOP AND EDUCATE YOURSELF CONSTANTLY

Continually refine your presentation skills so you will be ready for the next opportunity. After our work together with WFN’s Fast Pitch, Sashee worked with me to prepare her for the Tory Burch Foundation competition where she won first place and $100,000, and appearances on HSN where her product sold out.

One thing I tell all of my clients is to read and watch the news regularly. Then, consider how world events or changes in your industry could affect your business and how you can adapt or even thrive as a result of current events. If you want to become great at pitching to investors, read and listen to podcasts about pitching to investors, business, and your industry. Become an expert in your field, if you’re not already.

All of these actions will leave you better informed, more confident, and more insightful about your business and the world of pitching to investors.


 

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This article was written by Lisa Elia, Investor Pitch Coach, Media & Presentation Trainer, and Founder of Expert Media Training. Lisa has coached clients to raise millions of dollars at all stages of investment, including IPOs. She has volunteered as a pitch coach for WFN’s Fast Pitch competition and donates time to other organizations that empower entrepreneurs. She brings to her work experience gained during decades of working as a high-level publicist and a speaker who has spoken to thousands of audiences over the years.

For a complimentary consultation, call 310-479-0217.

Or, email [email protected]

Transparency, Clarity, and Compassion Are Needed Now More Than Ever

Transparency, Clarity, and Compassion Are Needed Now More Than Ever

We are living in a time of the greatest uncertainty that many of us have ever experienced. For most people, much of life beyond the present day is a question mark. Opacity and a lack of communication lead to mistrust and frustration.

The people who deliver clear information with genuine caring stand out and attract our attention. They represent the beacons of light, warm hearths, and steady presence that we crave at times like this. One doesn’t even need to have all the answers if a bit of direction, comfort, and confidence is conveyed. Some understanding of what lies ahead, even if it’s challenging, helps us to prepare.

Now more than ever people are seeking transparency, clarity, and compassion from politicians, business leaders, and others. What is needed is order in a time of chaos, calm in a time of crisis. We can also give this to the people in our lives.

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Reputation Management and The PPP Loan Disaster: How Some Large Companies and Banks Alienated Small Businesses

Reputation Management and The PPP Loan Disaster: How Some Large Companies and Banks Alienated Small Businesses

Reputation Management and The PPP Loan Disaster: How Some Large Companies and Banks Alienated Small Businesses — An Opportunity to Make Amends

Update 4/23/20 — Since yesterday, more of the large companies that received PPP loans have vowed to return them, including Kura Sushi, Sweetgreen, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and DMC Global.

Update: 4/21/20, 3:00 PM — Steve Mnuchin said in a press conference that large companies will have to return the PPP loans they took or prove they meet the criteria to receive them. Harvard University will also have to return its $8 million PPP loan. More funds were approved for PPP loans for small businesses.

Update: 4/20/20, 6:30 PM — There are now class-action lawsuits filed against Bank of America, Chase, US Bank, and Wells Fargo.

4/20/20 – When the U.S. Congress approved the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) to allow the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to distribute $350 billion to small businesses in March, the criteria seemed to be clear. This was meant for businesses with fewer than 500 employees, most of which would have greater difficulty accessing funding to see them through the coronavirus pandemic than would larger companies.

On April 17, it was announced that Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (Ruth’s Chris) received a PPP loan for $20 million, Potbelly Sandwich Shop (Potbelly) and Shake Shack each received PPP loans for $10 million, despite each having at least 10 times the 500-employee limit for the loan and reporting annual profits in the multi-millions. As public companies, their financial statements are publicly available. Understandably, there are lots of enraged small business owners who did not receive PPP loans because funds were exhausted.

After I wrote the first draft of this article on April 19, it was announced that Shake Shack had returned the $10 million PPP loan they received. The company issued a statement that explained that they had initially based their eligibility for the loan on the fact that each of their locations had fewer than 500 employees. However, when they learned that other companies who could use the money more, they decided to return the loan and secure funding elsewhere. It will be interesting to see if other companies follow suit.

What Were They Thinking?

With no public statements issued to date in response to the backlash from Ruth’s Chris or Potbelly, people are left to speculate as to why these large, well-funded public companies, would apply for PPP loans in the first place. One might venture to guess that this was a decision made only with financial security in mind and without consideration for the potential damage to the companies’ reputations, let alone the damage to other small businesses that could not survive without a PPP loan. Such decision-making is very short-sighted.

The Damage is Already Occurring.

Some people view the actions of these companies in this way: there is a shortage of bandages and while some small businesses are bleeding out right now, some bigger businesses are stockpiling the bandages in case they need them in the future. You can read the angry comments on social media posts with hashtags like #boycottruthschris and #boycottpotbelly. There are also negative Yelp reviews about what people are calling a “corporate money grab”.

Banks Are Also Being Blamed.

JP Morgan Chase (Chase), the bank that issued the loans to Ruth’s Chris and Potbelly, is also receiving some blame from small business owners that believe these large businesses received preferential treatment in the PPP loan-decision process. Some are asking why these loans were approved and question whether the bank favored companies that owed them money. Chase is now experiencing its own reputation-management issues as #boycottchase is used in many social media posts from incensed small business owners that are demanding transparency about the bank’s loan allocation process.

Wells Fargo is receiving similar vitriol on social media with #boycottwellsfargo hashtags used by disgruntled small business owners that applied for PPP loans early only to be later notified that funds had run out. A lawsuit has been filed against Wells Fargo that alleges that they reprioritized the applications to serve larger companies before smaller ones.

Decisions Made Solely Based on the Bottom Line Can Backfire.

When a business makes a decision solely on financial gain and without thought to the effects of that decision on public perception or actual harm to others, there are often disastrous consequences. This is never truer than during times of crisis. Companies, or individuals for that matter, that appear to be overly opportunistic at the expense of others are judged especially harshly. At times like this, actions and optics are extremely important.

Appearing to exhibit corporate greed and using public funds meant for companies that truly need it to survive or appearing to favor your big-money clients can have high financial costs. Unless they do something very soon, these companies are likely to lose revenue from boycotts, reputational damage and, possibly, experience reduced stock valuations based on decreased revenues and negative media and social media coverage.

When Many Companies Are Giving, No One Likes a Taker.

With so many companies giving money, resources, and time to help others during this pandemic, anything that could be viewed as corporate greed seems especially egregious by comparison. As people share positive stories of companies quickly reconfiguring their facilities to manufacture much-needed equipment and products, donating money, food, hotel rooms, and other items to help our first responders and ordinary citizens to get through this pandemic, no one wants to support businesses that appear to be taking advantage of the situation.

There Is an Opportunity to Repair the Damage, to Some Extent.

While some people will never forgive these companies for their actions, there is an opportunity for them to repair their reputations and move forward with a demonstration of greater sensitivity to their fellow humans.

Here is a simple, three-step plan that Ruth’s Chris and Potbelly can follow: 

  1. Give the money back.

To some, this may seem extreme, but large companies that received PPP loans and return them immediately could repair damaged reputations and may prevent boycotts and future sabotage from an angry public.

  1. Issue a heart-felt apology with action steps.

The apology should include specific actions the company is taking to make amends and provide help during the pandemic and, possibly, thereafter. Shake Shack’s fast action in returning the funds and the company’s public statement about their initial reasons for applying for the loan and then returning it serve this purpose.

  1. Include public affairs/public relations professionals in decisions that involve public funding.

There is a long history of U.S. citizens expressing outrage over the use of public funds to prop up large companies. The decisions companies make in these situations are NOT solely financial. They have major repercussions. Companies should be proactive and include the right team members to offer different perspectives on the potential consequences of their actions so they can make better decisions in the first place.

The Banks Should Also Take Quick Action.

Chase and Wells Fargo should be transparent about their PPP loan application process. When I asked a representative of Chase on April 17 if they processed the applications of larger companies first, she said that they did. The SBA had indicated that these loans were meant to be processed on a first-come-first-served basis, so this was not the response I was expecting.

Chase and Wells Fargo can easily clear up any allegations of unfair treatment to small businesses by doing the following:

  1. Publish the loan numbers of the companies that received funding in sequential order.

They would not have to release any private information about the companies to do this.

  1. Explain how they came to the conclusion that these large, public companies should receive the loans that they did.

This is especially important given the fact that they are public companies with other sources of funding and they do not appear to the funds to keep their operations going and their employees paid during the pandemic.

  1. Be transparent about PPP loan-processing procedures going forward.

They should share a concrete plan that will ensure transparency and adherence to SBA rules regarding the allocation of PPP loans going forward.

  1. If they are in the wrong with their practices, they should issue a heartfelt apology.

Doing this before the truth is revealed when public records are shared by the SBA would be the best course of action.

Will it Work?

Doing nothing will surely lead to further damage to the reputation and, most likely, the bottom line of each of these companies. Some people will never forgive these companies for their actions and will do everything they can to destroy their reputations and businesses, but some will forgive them if they do the right thing.

Quick action, such as that taken by Shake Shack will put the company back in many people’s good graces. Many Americans like stories of growth and redemption, and they can be understanding when people admit to a mistake, especially when it was due to a misunderstanding. Some people hang onto their grudges, so there is little one can do about that.

The banks will have a more difficult time regaining people’s trust because people take their money and, thereby, their survival very seriously. In any case, repairing or minimizing damage and setting the course for a better future is always a good strategy.

Lisa Elia, the author of this article and founder and lead trainer at Expert Media Training, provides services crisis communication services, media training, presentation training, investor pitch coaching, and other communication services.

For a complimentary consultation contact our office at 310-479-0217.

Or, email us at [email protected]

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Four Steps to Prepare for Business Reopening During COVID-19

Four Steps to Prepare for Business Reopening During COVID-19

Four Steps to Prepare for Business Reopening During COVID-19

Now Is the Time to Plan for Changes in Procedures and Communications

With all of the adjustments that most companies have made to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to focus primarily on the challenges in front of you. However, for business leaders, this is precisely the time to think about the shifts you will need to make to do business when social distancing mandates have lifted. You can take the same approach to planning for business reopening during COVID-19 that I use when working with clients to create both a general communication plan and the health-related component of a crisis communication plan. Communication planning is best when it is customized, but here are four steps that most businesses can follow.

Four Steps to Prepare for Business Reopening During COVID-19

1. Identify risk perceptions and misconceptions.

2. Identify actual risks.

3. Examine and upgrade procedures.

4. Communicate about upgraded procedures internally and then externally.

As you dive into each step more deeply, it can be beneficial to get input from team members at various levels of your organization through quick surveys or checklists. Here are the four steps with more detail.

  1. Identify Risk Perceptions and Misconceptions.

Go through every step of an interaction that a person might have with your business and consider what your customers or clients, employees, and others might believe are the risks to their health. These perceived risks may or may not be valid, but by addressing them properly you can help allay people’s fears.

Consider that many people’s attitudes about personal health and hygiene may be forever changed. During the social distancing mandates, many people will have become accustomed to the perceived safety of their homes where they can control their environments. When social distancing mandates are lifted their fears concerning the virus and germs, in general, won’t simply vanish.

A new, higher standard of hygiene will be expected by many people from all walks of life. If you question whether or not health and hygiene habits change with new information, consider the behavioral changes that people have made in response to scientific studies. To cite some examples of old behaviors that have changed: smoking used to be allowed on airplanes (and in almost every environment), bobbing for apples was a party game, and just about no one used to wipe down the handles of grocery carts. History has shown us that people can and do adapt to change and expect it when it protects their health and wellbeing.

  1. Identify Actual Risks.

Four Steps to Prepare for Business Communications After COVID-19 from Expert Media TrainingIdentify points of surface-contact and face-to-face human interaction that are required in your business.

Take inventory of items that might be shared, such as coffee machines in offices, pens, or touch-screens where visitors sign in at a business office, and the more obvious door handles, retail store counters, dining tables, and restrooms.

  1. Upgrade Procedures.

Now that you have identified risks and perceived risks, develop procedures to address them, and to enforce compliance with your new and existing hygiene practices.

If contact with a surface is necessary, determine how the surface can be cleaned in a way that is sustainable in terms of labor and materials. If phone apps, motion-sensor technology, or other methods of eliminating surface-contact are possible, consider them.

Regarding face-to-face human interactions, we will probably all need to follow the lead of health professionals once social distancing has ended. Of course, this will vary greatly from industry to industry.

Replace items that are shared with safer alternatives. For example, if you have a stack of coffee cups near your office coffee machine consider replacing it with an enclosed cup dispenser.

Determine whether extra staff members will be needed to uphold your new hygiene standards and how this you’re your affect costs, organizational chart, and training procedures.

Consider changing your hiring practices to find employees who have the psychological makeup to comply with your new hygiene practices, if necessary.

If you produce products, create measures to ensure that manufacturers adhere to your hygiene standards, such as occasional live virtual tours to see the production or packaging of your products in real-time.

Talk to your vendors to find out what they are doing to maintain or improve their hygiene practices.

  1. Communicate About Upgraded Procedures Internally and then Externally.

Once you have determined the changes you will have to make regarding procedures, consider how you will communicate them to your staff, vendors, manufacturers, customers, clients, and other people who will be affected. These communications can include:

      •  ∙ internal communications, such as memos and training handbooks and videos;

         ∙ vendor hygiene-adherence agreements;

         ∙ contract revisions and amendments with manufacturers;

         ∙ and external communications with customers, clients and the general public, such as emails, texts, social media posts, videos, press releases, ads, and content on your website.

Be clear about the changes you are making in your products, services, and/or procedures in an effort to protect people’s health. In times of uncertainty, people crave certainty. Be resolute about the things you can control that will affect them.

Four Steps to Prepare for Business Communications After COVID-19 from Expert Media TrainingAdjust the tone of your communications to meet people where they are in terms of emotional state and practical concerns at the moment and projected into the near future. Infuse your communications with warmth, hope, and the emotional components of your brand. Backed up with solid plans and actions, your words will have more meaning.

 

Lisa Elia, the author of this article and founder and lead trainer at Expert Media Training, provides services creating communication plans, media training, presentation training, investor pitch coaching, and video communication skills training.

For a complimentary consultation contact our office at 310-479-0217.

Or, email us at [email protected]

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

How to Be Effective in Virtual Meetings and Presentations: Adjusting Your Communication Style

How to Be Effective in Virtual Meetings and Presentations: Adjusting Your Communication Style

How to Be Effective in Virtual Meetings and Presentations: Adjusting Your Communication Style

Adjusting Your Communication Style for Virtual Meetings and Presentations by Presentation Trainer Lisa Elia of Expert Media TrainingVideo conferencing can be an extremely effective way to hold meetings and deliver presentations. People tend to try to focus solely on the meeting and ignore distractions because their face is zoomed in on, they are probably less likely to be looking at other devices or whispering to someone next to them.

With this increased focus on one another and with the variation in the quality of each individual’s Internet connection and equipment, there are some shifts you can make to ensure your video calls and meetings run smoothly and effectively and that you deliver confidently and with polish.

Before Your Begin, Prepare Yourself Mentally.

It’s important to clear your head, get focused, and manage nervousness before meetings, interviews, and presentations so that you can be at your best. I put my clients through a series of brief exercises to help them do this and to warm up their bodies and vocal cords. For now, use some of the techniques you might already use that will help you achieve a state of being energized and at ease, such as diaphragmatic breathing, listening to music, and exercising to relieve stress and sharpen your mind.

Greet People Warmly with a Smile.

Adjusting Your Communication Style for Virtual Meetings and Presentations by Presentation Trainer Lisa Elia of Expert Media TrainingSomehow, most people look much more serious on video than in person. Greet people warmly with a smile at the start of the video meeting or presentation just as you would if you were welcoming them into your home.

How much or how often you smile during a meeting will depend on the content and tone of the meeting. Aim to maintain a pleasant resting face.

Don’t Show Shock or Awe Over What You See.

You will see someone’s home or office, which may be messy, cluttered, or more luxurious than you might expect. Someone may attend a meeting having made questionable wardrobe choices. Try to not show surprise, shock or awe over what you see as this could make them uncomfortable. A nice, simple compliment is fine, if appropriate.

Maintain Eye Contact and Avoid Looking Away Too Often.

If you have placed your webcam at eye level or slightly above, you should be able to look at the people you are talking to on your computer monitor and it will seem as if you are looking into their eyes. When in an in-person meeting, it’s normal to look away periodically to gather your thoughts. It’s okay to do this a little bit on video calls, but if you do it too abruptly or too often, people might wonder what you’re looking at and they may think you’re distracted by something that’s going on around you.

If you will need to look at another device or take notes, tell participants on the video call that you will be doing so, so they know why you are looking down or away periodically.

Listen Attentively.

The added challenge of voices being transmitted electronically and potential feedback means you should listen more closely than usual.

Pause More Often Than You Would in Person, Especially on Group Calls.

How to Be Effective in Video Meetings and Presentations: Adjusting Your Communication StyleSince there can be delays in video and sound transmission on video calls, pausing a bit more than usual will give people time to assimilate your message and to respond. Pausing periodically is especially important on group calls where different people may want to speak.

Zoom and other videoconferencing tools have features that allow people to “raise their hands” to indicate to the host that they want to speak, but with smaller groups, especially those with high-powered individuals, they may not want to “raise their hands”.

You May Need to Enunciate More and Slow Down a Bit.

If you tend to speak quickly or run your words together, you may need to enunciate more and slow down a bit to be understood well on video calls. This is something to practice daily. Elevating your communication habits in all situations will prepare you to be a better communicator when participating in video meetings and presentations.

End Your Video Call Clearly and Smoothly.

When the video call is coming to an end, clarify the next steps to be taken, allow everyone to say their thank-yous and goodbyes and then, if you are the host, click to end the meeting quickly. Know where this function is located on your screen so you’re not caught on video fumbling and searching for it.

Be Sure Your Communication and Presentation Skills are Up to Speed.

Whether you are communicating through video, by phone, or in person, the ability to communicate clearly, confidently, and with authority over your topic or material is what’s needed to succeed.

This is part 2 of our series of blog posts to provide tips on how to communicate more effectively when using video platforms. To read part 1 of this blog series, How to Be Effective in Virtual Meetings and Presentations: Preparing Your Set-up, Your Environment, and Yourself, click here.

To discuss presentation training, media training, investor pitch coaching, or video communication skills training, contact us at 310-479-0217.

Or, email us at [email protected]

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

How to Be Effective in Virtual Meetings and Presentations: Preparing Your Set-up, Your Environment, and Yourself

How to Be Effective in Virtual Meetings and Presentations: Preparing Your Set-up, Your Environment, and Yourself

With more people than ever conducting business from home, the use of video to hold meetings, media interviews, sales presentations, and investor pitches is becoming the norm. Even after social distancing measures are lifted, many business leaders are predicting that the use of video conferencing will replace many in-person meetings going forward for reasons of health, cost-savings, and efficiency.

This is part 1 of our series of blog posts to provide tips on not only how to set up your environment, but also the shifts you need to make to communicate effectively in video meetings and presentations.

To read part 2 of this blog series, How to Be Effective in Virtual Meetings and Presentations: Adjusting Your Communication Style, click here.

How to Hold Effective Video Meetings and Presentations: Preparing Your Set-up, Your Environment, and Yourself

Prepare Your Set-up and Your Environment.

How to Hold Effective Video Meetings and Presentations: Preparing Your Set-up, Environment and YourselfWith video calls, it’s as if you are inviting someone (or a group of people) into your office, so it’s important to create a good experience for them.

Create a space where you can hold video calls. If you can keep it ready to go with little last-minute modification needed, you can save time and minimize stress. Here are some tips.

Consider your background.

Make sure your background is as free of distractions as possible. Log onto your video conference software or video yourself to see what might cause a distraction in your background. Family photos, artwork or even a stray paper or two can steal focus from you. Books and simple artifacts on a shelf can make for a good backdrop You may decide to set up your video conference/recording area in another part of your home or against a different wall.

Replace your background, if necessary, using green-screen technology.

Zoom video conferencing software, which is what many people are using now, allows you to upload photo and video backgrounds or choose one that is provided. (If you use Zoom, please use a password to protect yourself against Zoombombers, which are hackers that burst into your Zoom meeting.)

Some webcams also allow you to replace your background. These technologies work best with a green screen behind you. You can purchase a collapsible green screen. The ones with the pneumatic frames are especially easy to open and close. Rather than purchasing a green screen, you could paint a wall or large piece of cardboard with chroma key green paint or purchase green-screen wallpaper or wall decals. The brand of green screen that I have seems to be temporarily sold out, but this is a similar one.

Remove distracting items that will be in view on your desk.

Remove distracting photos, knickknacks, and food from the customer’s view. If you have a beverage, be sure the cup or glass you use is something you would use in a professional setting.

Raise your computer.

Place your computer on a stack of books or a box so you’re looking at it at eye level or slightly higher. Avoid having to look down at your computer which will distort your face and can create neck and back problems. If you have an adjustable desk or standing desk, you can use that to hold your computer. If you have an external webcam, place it on top of your computer and adjust the height of your computer so your webcam is at eye level or slightly higher.

Upgrade your equipment, if necessary.

Webcam – A good external webcam can improve the quality of your video transmission through higher resolution, speed, and fluidity. I use this Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam.

Microphone – Poor sound quality on a video call can lead participants to strain to hear, which can lead to frustration and negative opinions and emotions. A good external microphone can be worth the investment. Depending on the sensitivity of your external microphone, place it approximately 4 to 10 inches from your mouth. I sit approximately 5 inches from my Blue Yeti microphone.

Light your face.

Place soft lights behind your computer screen or webcam with the light reflecting on your face, if possible. If you want to up your video game, you can purchase one of the many “ring lights” that are available. Some of them allow you to adjust the tone of the light and they sit on an adjustable tripod so you can raise and lower the light. I recently purchased this light and find it very easy to use.

Test your equipment and set-up.

Create a video or hold a practice video conference with a friend or family member to test your equipment and set-up. If you are able, record the video conference, as Zoom allows you to do. Then, see if there are adjustments you need to make.

 

Prepare Yourself.

How to Be Effective in Video Meetings and Presentations: Preparing Your Set-up, Environment and YourselfDuring in-person meetings, people’s eyes may stray and they may not look directly at you as much as when you’re communicating via video. This is why it’s important to pay extra attention to your personal appearance.

Dress for your meeting.

If you are in sales or making an investor pitch, dress the way you would for an in-person meeting. If you work in an environment where casual dress is the norm, dress accordingly.

Know that you may need to stand up at some point during your video call, for some unforeseen reason, so avoid wearing pajama bottoms or making other clothing choices you will regret.

Avoid wearing noisy jewelry.

This is a good rule any time you will be on camera.

Wear clothing that is not too distracting.

A great pattern that would look fantastic in person can be distracting when you’re viewed on video. Beware of very low necklines or anything that might result in a wardrobe malfunction.

If you wear make-up regularly, you might want to apply a little more.

For people who wear make-up consider adding a bit more or brightening it up a bit for your video calls and meetings. The camera tends to wash people out. If you’re not used to wearing make-up, you may still want some face powder that matches your skin tone to control shine.

Test your appearance and outfit by taking a quick video of yourself moving around before meetings or shooting videos.

Once you know what works and doesn’t work on camera, you can plan your wardrobe accordingly for upcoming videos and virtual meetings.

Request that others around you are quiet and refrain from interrupting you.

This can be a challenge if you have small children or pets but do your best. If possible, have someone watch over them and keep them in a separate room while you are on video calls. If you are interrupted, ask the people on the video call or meeting for a moment to handle the situation, which would be better than trying to shout over a barking dog or noisy child.

Set aside time to prepare mentally for your meeting, presentation or video.

How to Hold Effective Video Meetings and Presentations: Preparing Your Set-up, Environment and YourselfWhen working with my clients, I teach them a preparation ritual to help them manage nervousness and focus their minds before presentations, media interviews, and other high-stakes situations. Shifting your energy and preparing to be fully present for your meeting or presentation can help you to perform better and will make a vast difference in the way you feel and are perceived.

To read part 2 of this blog series, How to Hold Effective Video Meetings and Presentations: Adjusting Your Communication Style, click here.

To discuss presentation training, media training, investor pitch coaching, or video communication skills training, contact us at 310-479-0217.

Or, email us at [email protected]

Disclosure: Please note that purchasing items through the links provided may result in commissions to me, at no additional cost to you. These links were shared to answer the inevitable “What would you use?” questions. Please only purchase items that you believe will be beneficial to you.

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Avoid Sarcasm at Work and In Speeches and Media Interviews

Avoid Sarcasm at Work and In Speeches and Media Interviews

You may have read about a Harvard University study that was published a year or so ago, which stated that sarcasm can increase your creativity. As references to this article continue to be passed around by bloggers and others, people are often forgetting to include the caveats about trust in the relationship and understanding when sarcasm is appropriate (i.e., sarcasm is not always great at work), which were included in Harvard’s article on the study.

Like most forms of humor, sarcasm is better received when you’re not insulting individuals, but rather making fun of circumstances or human nature. This is true in one-on-one conversations as well as in speeches and media interviews. It’s better to save sarcasm for the people in your life who know you best and will know when you are joking.

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Panel Moderating Quick Tip

Panel Moderating Quick Tip

If you’re hosting a panel, it’s up to you to manage the audience.

If you open the floor to an audience Q&A, know that there will be some people who say they want to ask a question but then use their time with the mic to promote their agendas, rather than contribute to the discussion.

Be sure to bring the conversation back to the topic that the panel is discussing. You may have to politely cut someone off, but it can be done with grace. Simply say “thank you” and ask if the person has a question for the panel to refocus the conversation to that of the panel. The audience will thank you.

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This post was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, pitch coach, communication expert and speaker. She trains clients for media interviews, speeches, internal and external presentations, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with TODAY, GMA, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Entertainment Tonight, E! and many others.

To discuss your training needs, contact the Expert Media Training office at 310-479-0217.

Crisis Communication Tips

Crisis Communication Tips

The following crisis communication tips are meant to provide you with your initial steps. If you need help managing a crisis, call us at 310-479-0217. Or, email us at [email protected]

 

Crisis Communication Tips to Get You Started

 

Crisis communication tip #1: Don’t hide.

If a situation that reflects negatively on you, your client or your company has become public knowledge and the media are contacting you for a comment, here are some steps to follow:

Do not answer questions from the media on the spot, but do take their calls and tell them you will get back to them within a certain timeframe, whether it’s minutes or hours, but try to do it quickly enough for them to meet their respective story deadlines. Stall tactics rarely work. If the media print or broadcast that you did not respond to their requests for information, the public may assume you’re guilty or that you have something to hide, which is not what you want.

Create a statement and responses to the questions you may be asked by the press. In the heat of the moment, you may not think as clearly as usual. Enlisting the aid of experts who are objective and forward-thinking can help you to contain and manage the situation most effectively.

 

Crisis communication tip #2: Control contact with media and the public.

Don’t allow your staff members or team members to speak with the press about the situation. Ask that your family members and friends do not do so either. Only your designated media spokeperson(s) should address the media.

Ideally, employees, vendors and others should have been advised not to speak to the media on your behalf. Perhaps they have even signed confidentiality agreements, as does everyone who works in our firm. However, it’s good to remind them of your policies during times of crisis.

 

Crisis communication tip #3: Take responsibility when appropriate.

There are times when it’s best to assume responsibility and quickly address what you are doing to rectify a situation. For example, if you sold a product that turns out to be faulty, consult a lawyer about what you should and should not say about it, but do address it. You can recall the product through news alerts that you send to the media and distribute it through social media, if many have been sold. If only a few products have been sold, you can contact the customers directly and offer them a refund or a replacement of the product.

The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation, which can lead people to hire lawyers, investigate further and generally make a bigger deal of something that could have been kept in check with some simple communication.

 

Crisis communication tip #4: Listen.

Sometimes the best way to prevent a situation from becoming a crisis is to listen. Listen to people’s complaints and comments, even if there is nothing that can be done about them.

For example, if you have said something regrettable to someone who is now making a public issue of it, apologize to the person directly, which may make the situation go away: sometimes people just need to be heard.

If the issue continues to become more public, seek professional help to address the situation. This is not a time to wing it, and professionals can help you create a clear message and make a plan for damage control and containment.

 

Crisis communication tip #5: Take action.

Explain how you are taking action to address the situation. For example, if one of your staff members has said something inappropriate to someone, craft a specific response that explains why this is not in accordance with your company policy and how the employee is being reprimanded (or dismissed, in some cases). If you have implemented new policies due to this situation, explain what they are.

 

When crises arise, the most important thing to do is to not panic. Then, get the help you need to create a swift and thorough crisis communication plan.

 

To arrange a complimentary consultation to discuss your crisis communication needs, call us at 310-479-0217.

Or, you can email us at [email protected]

Plan Ahead by Creating a Crisis Communication Plan Before You Need It

The best time to work on your crisis communication plan is before a crisis arises. You will have greater clarity of mind without the pressure of a crisis, so you can effectively strategize on how you will address each audience, from employees to customers, to investors or other stakeholders.

If you’re a service provider, crises can arise from several situations, including being discredited publicly, a verbal misunderstanding, or the use of a poor choice of words. If you produce a product, crises can arise from a fault in your product, problems with distribution, or questionable manufacturing procedures, among other things. These things can happen to individuals or companies of any size, from one-person shops to the largest corporations in the world.

For celebrities, athletes and other public figures, how a crisis is managed can make the difference between preserving or losing lucrative endorsement deals and prospects.

Planning ahead will help you to feel more in control and prepared for just about anything.

 

To arrange a complimentary consultation with Lisa Elia, the author of this article and the founder of Expert Media Training, call us at 310-479-0217.


 

Lisa Elia, Founder & Lead Media Trainer & Presentation Trainer at Expert Media Training®This article was written by Lisa Elia, a Los Angeles-based media trainer, presentation trainer, communication expert and speaker. In addition to helping clients with crisis communication management and planning, she trains clients for media interviews, speeches, investor presentations and promotional videos. With more than 20 years of experience, Lisa has prepared clients for interviews with Today, Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, ESPN, and hundreds of other outlets. Lisa has been interviewed and shared her expertise with national media outlets that include Inc., Fox News, Entertainment Tonight, E! Entertainment and many others.

To arrange a complimentary consultation, call us at 310-479-0217.

Or, you can email us at [email protected]


 

Pin It on Pinterest