Keynote Speaking: Why I Love It

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in Blog

We’ve all seen the stats on people who claim they would rather die than speak publicly.  I am the opposite.  I love presenting. Love, LOVE,  <3.   You got it — in all different kinds of ways! 

Love

l found this out during high school when my freshman English teacher realized I had potential and asked me to try-out for the speech team.   Did Mr. Mazzucco comprehend what he unleashed?  I think not!  He started a journey where the keys to who I am have been illuminated over the years.  I discovered my voice and that I have the ability to successfully amplify messages I am passionate about.  And people listen to me!  What a concept.

While I love all kinds of presenting, keynotes are especially exciting. According to current adult learning theory, I need to say something provocative every 7 minutes to keep the audience’s attention. That’s some pressure, people.  Thankfully, pressure-packed situations provide juice.

I used to only tell other people’s stories lamenting that great stories never happened in my life. Then I read Sue Monk Kidd.  I realized great stories were being unveiled all around me.  I was not paying attention. Now I do. The stories offer great fodder for keynotes on all the subjects I speak on.  From projects to research, coaching to consulting, from generation to generation, I am seeing or being shown great ideas that need voiced.  Since my power is in my voice, it appears to be a match made in heaven.  And I mean that last sentence.

Whether being the first-born daughter of a passionate Italian father and his feisty redheaded Irish/English/German bride or simple by exposure, I do know that keynotes offer a way to get the message out and also challenge me to help make concepts real.  I appreciate connecting with people in a big way by seeing patterns I can illuminate to them. I simplify complex concepts — making sense of the wild stuff I see in the world. Keynotes are wonderful places to provide this.

One of my peers told me years ago that the author Geoffrey Moore said that less than 5% of the American population are synthesizers.  For better or worse, I am one of them.  I can play with ideas, weave stories together and recite research as if I conducted it myself.  While I do a little bit of the latter, the real joy is in combining the great work of others into a story that helps makes sense of multiple concepts. My keynotes honor the concepts’ authors and provide a big picture view.

I like to think that I help provide perspective in a wooly world.  Thankfully, the evaluations after my keynotes say I am on the right road.

MENTOR ME? ON MANAGING AMERICANS

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in Blog

Sherri Petro, President and Chief Strategy Officer of VPI Strategies, represents VPI Strategies on the Expert Panel for Managing Americans. ManagingAmericans.com is a management blog with more than 140,000 readers. Sherri contributes monthly to the Workplace Communication Skills Blog and is one of the most highly read columnists.

Mentor word cloud

This month’s post is Mentor Me?

Here is a sneak peak:

Not to be confused with the great Bruno Mars’ song Marry Me, we do have an engagement of sorts when we ask for someone’s hand in helping to develop our career. Whether it be an informal or formal relationship, there are great ways of asking for — and making the most of — a mentor’s assistance.

For the mentee, how do you approach a potential mentor? How do you maximize the value of this burgeoning relationship? How do you best communicate your challenges without sounding like you don’t know what you are doing?

On the mentor’s side of the equation, committing to a mentoring relationship requires time and energy. What are the benefits to you? How do you communicate your expertise without sounding like a know-it-all or starting every sentence with “When I was in that situation …” or “Here’s how I would do it…?”

Read Sherri Petro’s full article here.

React or Respond? For Goodness Sake, Choose Respond! on Managing Americans

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in Blog

Sherri Petro, President and Chief Strategy Officer of VPI Strategies, represents VPI Strategies on the Expert Panel for Managing Americans. ManagingAmericans.com is a management blog with more than 140,000 readers. Sherri contributes monthly to the Workplace Communication Skills Blog and is one of the most highly read columnists.

This month’s post explores reacting vs. responding.

Here is a preview:

Instructions to create messages that destroy value: Open mouth, insert foot.  Instructions to create positive messages that create value: Open mind, open mouth.

I know the former sounds familiar to you.  Have you ever thought about the latter?  That’s the difference between REACTING and RESPONDING.  Responding takes a little time to plan and process, reacting takes no time at all.  Just feel free to pop off!   I’d be realistic and reduce my expectations about making a connection with the person you are communicating with or achieving the results you want, however.

R and R

We are, unfortunately, very used to reacting.  We react since time is often not on our side as we bark orders that have come down from above or conduct “dump it delegation” as we run down the hallway to yet another meeting. We get a weird vibe on that email we just read and send off our reaction without thinking. We bring our baggage from our last boss’ communication style and react the way we always have since “everyone communicates like that.”

Read the complete article here.

GET ‘EM ONBOARD: ENGAGE EMPLOYEES BY BEING REAL

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in Blog

Sherri Petro, President and Chief Strategy Officer of VPI Strategies, represents VPI Strategies on the Expert Panel for Managing Americans. ManagingAmericans.com is a management blog with more than 300,000 monthly readers. Sherri contributes monthly to the Workplace Communication Skills Blog and is one of the most highly read columnists.

Businessman speaking on presentation

Here is a preview of September’s article:

Much is being bandied about on how to best engage employees. We have employers who want engaged employees and employees who want to be engaged. From the employer side, research shows us engaged employees lead to better results. Kenexa reports that engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years. From the employee side, one of the many insights in a Towers Perrin 2009 report is that employees want to give more.

Okay, then. We have both sides wanting the same thing – engagement. But Gallup continues to report in their annual survey that we have a problem. In 2012, only 30% of employees were engaged, 52% were disengaged and 18% were actively disengaged. And Gallup estimates that the latter category costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year. Ouch!

How are we so badly missing the boat? Maybe it’s because we are keeping it docked in the kiddie pool instead of the big ocean. Our communication strategies onboarding people to new ideas and changing conditions need a serious overhaul.

Why Engage Employees?

Author and Columbia faculty, Simon Sinek, has popularized the concept of The Golden Circle. The inner bulls’ eye of his concept is asking the question, “Why?” As a kindred spirit, I subscribe to Simon’s concept that engaging people requires sharing the back story on why we are doing the things we do. We don’t have to write a novel but we do need to share why we are making the decisions we make from the options available. In any communication strategy, we need to explain why we need to change.

The reason, by the way, has to make sense. No half answers. When we think we are especially clever, we are usually more transparent than we realize and employees can see right through the story. The object is engagement — not breaking off the engagement.

Read the full article here.

Gadgetry SOS? Two Rules in Response on Managing Americans

Written by Sherri Petro on . Posted in Blog

Sherri Petro, President and Chief Strategy Officer of VPI Strategies, represents VPI Strategies on the Expert Panel for Managing Americans. ManagingAmericans.com is a management blog with more than 140,000 readers. Sherri contributes monthly to the Workplace Communication Skills Blog and is one of the most highly read columnists.

This month’s post explores communicating in our mobile environment.

Here is a preview:

Hey Dick Tracy, Maxwell Smart and Inspector Gadget, I have a beef with you.  I thought all this gadgetry was supposed to help us communicate better and solve problems.  Why are we still having communication issues?  User error, you say?  It’s not the gadget itself, it’s how we use it? 

Here’s the tip of our very large communication iceberg. We leverage technology for a myriad of uses:

    • Customer interfacing
    • Global connection
    • Mass distribution of information
    • One-on-one bursts
    • Finding locations
    • Confirmation of activities
    • Remote working

In our highly mobile environment, communication is as important as ever but it is obvious we need some rules for our technology use regardless of what we use it for.  Let’s look at two simple etiquette rules. Benefit of the doubt is given here that you will obey your local laws when it comes to appropriate technology use!

Read the full article here.