7 Habits Standout Speakers Have, That You Don’t, But Should

18 Jul

We’ve all sat through a speaker, or ten, feeling like we didn’t learn a thing. Working as a news anchor, reporter, host, emcee, and corporate communications expert, it’s been a privilege spending 20 years on both sides of the microphone telling stories, raising money, and teaching, well, talking. Speakers who inspire us are unforgettable and audiences can’t get enough of them. Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins, and Suze Orman are gifted speakers who mesmerize audiences around the world. So how do they do it? Why do we listen? What does it take to be an A-lister? Here’s how they do it and how you can too.
1.  They tell their audiences what they don’t already know and can only get from them. This skill takes preparation, preparation, preparation. People want three things from a speaker: motivation, information and inspiration. To get it right takes an extraordinary amount of prep work. The audience will only remember 7% of what you say, so prepare and provide signature, relevant information your audience can’t get anywhere else but from you. Audiences do not want to hear what they already know.
2.  They are relevant and practice, practice, practice vocal acumen. Standout speakers are well-read and know the deal like nobody’s business. They know their audience, their material and bridge local or world headlines, when possible, in the moment. Are you mindful? Is your message relevant and purposeful?  Next, find your voice and deliver. Are you saying something worth listening to? If not, go back to number one.

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3.  They feed their audience 800 calories of protein, not 3,400 calories of sugar. Think of your material as food for thought. Your audience can only digest 800 calories of protein-induced information that will motivate, inform and inspire. In this day and age of social media induced short attention spans, people are turned off by information overload, because any place is better than a head spin. Perfect critical points, so well, that audiences can’t help but share them – and you – on social media, which could land you your next speaking gig.
4.  They weave relevant, relatable moments into their material. People crave connection, especially in the new age of disconnectedness. Did you fall? How far? Did you fail? Why? How’d you fix your fumble? Michael Jordan was cut by his high school basketball team, a newspaper fired Walt Disney for lack of imagination and 12 publishers rejected JK Rowling’s first book. The audience wants to know what inspired and humbled you along the way and will share your story with others.
5.  They add a splash of appropriate humor. Humor is humbling and humility builds a trust bridge with your audience by showing them you’re approachable, relatable and empathetic. Empathy is a powerful leadership tool.
6.  They mono-dress and leverage facial acuity. Wear camel, grey or navy blue, head to toe. Classy monotone colors not only look good on just about everyone, but monocolors draw the audience to your FACE, which is exactly where you want it because that is where your message is front and center. Facial expressions account for 55% of the audience’s focus. Your face is a critical component of communication and messaging in life. In fact, your face is so memorable, people can recognize you across an entire football field or spanning 50 years in age. It’s important that your facial expressions match your message. Think back to a moment when something big happened. You won’t remember what was said, but you’ll certainly remember how people felt and the expressions on their faces. Our faces are a blueprint of trustworthiness.
7.  They provide solutions. People don’t buy products, they buy solutions. You don’t buy a drill because you need a drill, you buy a drill because you need a hole. Be the solution. Be the speaker that solves a problem for the audience and they’ll ask you back for more.

[Oh, and don’t forget to bring a ‘leave-behind’ (website, book, or business card) so the audience can share you with others.]

The Charm of Juli & Jim Boeheim and ohhh those Jackets

2 Apr

When Syracuse University men’s basketball Coach Jim Boeheim enters the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, Saturday night for the Final Four matchup against ACC rival North Carolina, a few things are certain: he expects to win, his wife, Juli, will be by his side, and thousands of loyal SU fans will be close to his heart. Literally.

First, a little about the couple, then Jim Boeheim’s jackets. Both are remarkably interesting.

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I first met Juli Boeheim at a children’s charity event in 1998. She was the guest speaker, I was the emcee. She was the star of the show, though in her humbleness, she’d never see herself in that light. Thing is, you can’t help but notice Juli Boeheim. She fills a room. Her genuine southern charm and natural beauty dazzle anyone who meets her. She’s kind, gracious, helpful, sincerely, gentle, engaging, sweet, funny and fun. She’s not afraid of hard work, adventure, and is also not afraid to give where it counts the most – from her heart and her time. Family is her priority.

In 2003, I had the honor of interviewing Juli and Jim in their Fayetteville home the week before the team brought home the Championship in New Orleans. I asked the couple to share ‘a day in the life’ of Juli and Jim Boeheim. I wanted the public to see her as I saw her, and as I saw them. It’s quite a love story actually, though on the surface, the couple couldn’t appear to be more different.

Juli’s open. Jim’s private.
Juli’s radiant. Jim’s intense.
Juli’s adventurous. Jim’s good with routine.
Juli’s calm. Jim’s a bit restless.
Juli is sweet, kind, and heartfelt. It’s been reported, and not by me, Jim has a prickly edge.

Say what you want about Jim Boeheim – cuz we all know the #hatersgonnahate – but anyone who spends the little free time he has teaching kids how to play basketball, signing autographs, raising millions for cancer research, and who also is taking my favorite team to the Final Four – AGAIN – is a pretty bada** in my book.

Back to the interview, I wasn’t sure Jim would agree. After all, big decisions take two yesses.

Besides, Coach Boeheim doesn’t exactly have an affinity for the media, especially after a loss, when reporters want answers about things he doesn’t want to talk about. But Jim Boeheim knows the PR game like nobody’s business. It’s that love-hate thing every star, every player, every coach has with the media. It’s great when it’s good and it stings when it’s bad. Coach Boeheim smartly answers the tough questions and scoffs at the dumb ones with his intense, competitive personality that makes him one of the most respected collegiate basketball coaches in the country. Besides, I think he’s pretty entertaining when he’s got a point to make. He makes it, moves on, waves a hand, and is done with it. Bug off, pal.

He also happens to be loved by one of the most beautiful, intelligent, classy women I know. So while I’m sure Coach Boeheim wanted to say no to me, Juli’s husband said yes.

Juli invited us into her beautifully decorated southern charmed home for our sit-down interview, greeting us with her gracious smile, despite the phone ringing like a phone bank with requests for her free time. Jim entered with a pleasant hello, as the two sat down on the couch in the family room warmed by mahogany walls and family pictures. They sat close to each other, in a familiar way, as Juli brushed the shoulder of Jim’s shirt as he thanked her with an appreciative smile. As we set up, Juli and Jim teased each other in a language only a couple knows.

A good reporter knows that moments like these are privileged.

Jim Boeheim grew up in Lyons, New York, a small town of 5,000 people. He started playing basketball when he was five. His family owned a funeral business, which Jim walked away from, to go to attend Syracuse University as a history major, where he was walk-on for the basketball team in 1962. By the time he was a senior, he was team captain. Then graduate assistant. Then assistant coach, and the rest is history, fast forwarding to this season with more than 900 career wins. Jim Boeheim, a small town boy, is now a big game Hall of Fame basketball legend.

Jim met Juli Greene at the Derby in Lexington, Kentucky in the mid-nineties. The synergy between Juli and Jim was undeniable. It wasn’t long before Juli moved to Syracuse where the couple married and now raise three children, James, and twins Jack and Jaime, while also maintaining a close, loving relationship with Jim’s daughter, Elizabeth, with his on-great-terms- with, former wife, Elaine.

Back to the interview couch.

They laughed. They teased. They flirted. They’re one of those couples, when you’re around them – you feel love.

They talked about sports. About the value of winning and losing. The schedules. The travel. The kids. The charity work. The notoriety. Jim’s voracious reading. They talked about a room they were thinking of adding in the back. About a new picture frame he noticed. And how Juli made him a better-dressed man. Juli said she’d never change anything about Jim, that she loved him ‘as is.’ Well, except for the plaid jackets he once wore, which she felt didn’t show Jim’s softer side.”

Jim revealed two things he didn’t like: “a bad call and wearing a suit. They’re uncomfortable and stuffy.”

I can see his point. Wiggle room is important for flailing arms, aggressive leg clomping, and choleric contortions. We’ve all been there.

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Bad calls are out of his hands, but for just-the-right-fit, the Boeheim’s turn to Rochester tailors, Adrian Jules Custom Clothing. You can check out their coolness at http://www.adrianjules.com. The clothier, founded by Italian master tailor and designer Adriano Roberti, opened shop in 1964, when Boeheim was a junior in college. The clothier employs dozens of tailors who dress an impressive list of who’s who. Boeheim began his tailor treasures some 20 years ago with Peter Roberti Sr. The honor is now handed to Peter Roberti, Jr. who provided some insight on the Coach’s style.

Using some 30 measurements on his 6’4″-ish frame, along with taking the Coach’s posture, slope and how he stands into account, the team builds a tailored sport coat that concentrates the weight in the shoulders so as not to compromise comfort or style. “We add fabric to the center and side seams in the back of the garment to give him more movement in the coat,” Peter Roberti said. “Adding more fabric gives him more movement and ease in the shoulder blades.”

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Juli has chosen two of the Coach’s faves to bring to Houston:

Neapolitan Blue Sport Coat – Coach Boeheim wore this tailor-made jacket in the First Rounds of the NCAA playoffs in St. Louis, and according to Juli, will likely wear this jacket against North Carolina. The cashmere wool jacket is custom silk-lined, imprinted with a photo from the Feb. 2010 record-breaking crowd of 34,616 fans at the Carrier Dome where SU beat Villanova.

Black Herringbone Sport Coat – Coach B wore this tailor-made cashmere jacket at the Elite 8 game in Chicago to beat Virginia, which is also custom silk-lined with a photo from another Syracuse game, but the clothier didn’t reveal which. This is the jacket of champions. My words, no one else’s. ☺

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“The linings of his jackets are personal to him,” Peter Roberti Jr. said. “They represent different moments in his career.”

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Roberti says the process is pretty simple. “I was in Coach Boeheim’s office one day when he pointed to a picture he wanted in a lining.” Roberti said. “So I took out my cell phone, took a picture of it and made that lining.”

Roberti says he’s honored his family has been able to provide Coach Boeheim and Juli with high quality attire that the Boeheim’s appreciate for the majority of 20 years, take away a few years here and there. “He’s Syracuse. He’s the guy. Syracuse is important and he wears it close to him.”

Here’s few other facts about Jim Boeheim’s jackets:
The last button hole on the sleeve will be orange.
The inner pocket will be monogrammed “Custom Styled for James A. Boeheim.”
The “A” is for Arthur.
His attire is chosen and coordinated by Juli.

“She picks out everything,” Roberti clarified. “I can’t take credit for that. We just make the clothes, she puts everything together.”
Like they say…behind every man….

I asked Juli a few years ago what goes through her mind when Jim’s boiling mad from the bench.

“Juli, what are you thinking when you see Jim’s face contorted with stress,” I asked, “when his veins are popping out of his head and neck?”

“All I’m thinking,” Juli quipped with a smile, “is breathe, Jim! Breathe!”

“Goodbye, Mr. Carey.”

11 Aug

The first time I met Bill Carey was in 1997 while waiting for a verdict outside the Onondaga County Courthouse. I don’t remember the story, but I do remember the moment. He was a well-respected, seasoned Channel 9 reporter, and I was a cub anchor/reporter for Channel 5, humbly about five seconds into my new morning show job.

It was a sticky fall morning when Bill showed up with a lazy tie, rolled up sleeves and cigarette in hand. He was thinner than I expected, and probably would have found it ridiculous that I was impressed by his thick, wavy hair. His signature voice was gritty, commanding, and confident.

He didn’t say much to me, which was good, because anything I would have said back would have been dumb. And, as a grasshopper, I didn’t disappoint.

Courtesy of News10Now

Courtesy of News10Now

“Hello, Mr. Carey,” I said.
“Bill, please,” he replied.
“Yes, sir,” I responded like an idiot. ‘Sir?’

Intimidated, I jotted down every thought in my head so I’d have enough material to fill my live hits and so he’d think I was paying attention. It didn’t take long to realize my predictive questions were no match for his proficiencies. His conversational style was unencumbered by pen and paper. Live hits are often best unscripted – facts often change – so it’s a good idea to never get completely committed to copy or a story you already wrote in your head.

Something he obviously knew and I was oblivious.

I committed. The story changed. I fumbled.

I couldn’t see Bill, but I could hear his signature voice in the distance. He was confident, flexible, flawless, and experienced. Over the next decade, after some big stories under my belt, I spent many hours alongside that signature voice. Bill’s knack for telling stories made it look easy, when in reality, it takes years to tell the right story, connect with the right people, ask the right questions and put it all together cohesively and quickly under pressured deadlines.

No one in Central New York, then or now, cared as much, or told a story as good, as Bill Carey. He was a gentle giant with a “just the facts ma’am” style. He was your worst and best competition. Worst, because he’d kick a** on ANY story. Best, because by his very skill and nature, he made you WANT to be better.

He could make grass growing, interesting.
He could make paint drying a lead story.
And if politics or election night was on the board, forget it.
You might as well take a seat.
Bill Carey was untouchable.
He was that good.

Any reporter who had the honor of standing in reporter row alongside Bill, learned.
You couldn’t not learn from him.

Bill would not approve of my grammar in that last sentence.

He was a man of few words in the field.
He was a man of the right words in the field.
If he said it, it was fact.
And if you got a smile, a hello, and a question along the way, it was a sign of respect.
And it was enough.

Central New York has lost its signature voice, its lead storyteller. A man who loved his family and community and honored the stories that poured from every corner. And if you think that doesn’t matter, it does.

Like Ron Curtis, Bill was a trench coat journalist. He was an iconic gift to Central New York because he stayed on the front line where bright lights don’t often shine.

Above all else, Bill Carey was fair and the best interviewer, bar most. Every question had purpose. If he didn’t get the facts he needed from one angle, he’d flawlessly slide in from another angle.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a person you thought would always be around.

We say goodbye to a style that only he could bring. We say goodbye to decades of integrity, knowledge, and experience. We say goodbye to a big piece of broadcasting excellence colleagues and viewers were privileged to know only because Bill chose not to leave for brighter lights and bigger paychecks. He’s a void that cannot be filled.

Perhaps his greatest gift, as an Emmy and Murrow award winner with 40-plus years covering stories, was setting the standard for every reporter who stood in reporter row alongside him. So in a way, his excellence is ubiquitous.

I don’t know where you go when it’s your turn to go, but I want to believe there’s a corner for news people in the Heavens…and while their mics are down, I want to believe Bill Carey, Andy Brigham, Joe Galuski, Ron Curtis, Sheryl Nathans, and Donna Speez are having a few brews sharing stories that matter. Intro. Pkg. Tag.

Goodbye, Mr. Carey. RIP Bill. You will be so missed.

Super Bowl, Sex, and Super-sized Spots

1 Feb

While I’m disappointed, once AHHHHGAIN, my SD Chargers didn’t advance to the Super Bowl, I do take great interest in a good championship game and great commercials. Coming from a rich news background, I can appreciate the value of commercials, because without them, there wouldn’t be television news. Ad revenue pays salaries. It’s that simple.

The Super Bowl is the one time of year, millions of football fans are tethered to their television sets actually craving commercials. Advertisers use this mid-Winter Sunday night to take full advantage of our weaknesses, knowing exactly what tugs at our amygdala. Fast cars, food, cute babies, talking animals, sweaty men, and sexylicious women will round out a number of the 70, or so, Super Bowl Super-sized spots. More than a hundred million viewers is quite a sexy audience.

The usual big guns are on the front line again this year for Super Bowl XLIX, spending up to $4.5 million on a 30-second spot hoping to gain your buy-in: Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s, Doritos, VW, Coke, Pepsi, E-Trade, Calvin Klein, GoDaddy.com, Taco Bell and newcomer Carnival Cruise. And, oh goodie! Expect to see the Victoria Secret’s sultry divas twisting and turning their assets at the two minute warning. Furniture crawling and eating air are life skills and much harder than they look. I’ve tried both. Gawd, they make me feel so…FAT.

I digress.

Each 30-second spot is a bit of a mini-Hollywood production about a story with a surprise ending as viewers hang on to the edge of their seats. Of course it helps that each year, companies pay big bucks to seduce top talent to endorse their products and play bit part roles. This year’s A-listers include: Pierce Brosnan, Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel, Mindy Kaling, Snoop Dog who’ll be, not hungry, but hangry…and of course the Clydesdales (personal fave) saving a pup. There’s even Wix’s super-bowled ‘fantasy team’ of Brett, TO, Franco and Emmitt.  Good stuff.

So I’d thought it’d be fun to share some super facts about Super Bowls, super commercials and super bowl foods, so you can sound super smart at the water cooler tomorrow.

The FCC sanctioned the first television commercial in 1941.

Watchmaker, Bulova, paid $9 for the world’s first television commercial which aired on WNBT in New York in July 1941. The 10-second ad ran during a live broadcast of the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies.

Kids watch 30,000-40,000 commercials a year, about 100 a day.

By the time you’re 65, you’ll have watched nearly 2 million commercials.

In 1967, a 30-second Super Bowl commercial cost $37,500 with an audience of more than 24,400,000.

In 2013, a 30-second Super Bowl ad costs about $3.8 million, talent not included, with an anticipated audience of more than 111,000,000.

It’s estimated 50% of the Super Bowl viewers this year will be women.

Women make up 80% of the buying power in the home.

Yet, 35% of Super Bowl ads are steered toward men. The remaining are mostly gender neutral.

Go figure GoDaddy.com.

It’s believed ‘super’ Super Bowl ad fever started in 1984 when Apple ran its “1984” commercial (based on George Orwell’s novel) campaign ad introducing the Macintosh computer.

Anheuser-Busch enhanced the fever in 1989 with its “Bud Bowl” campaign where small bottles of Bud beer made football plays. Men + beer + beer making football plays = makes total cents.

Every commercial has a title.

Anheuser-Busch’s “911 Tribute,” which aired only once, in Super Bowl XXXVI (2002), is one of the most popular commercials to air. It’s one of my personal favorites. Like most commercials, it’s an illusion, but it still gives me chills. Never forget.

Roman numerals began being used by the NFL with Super Bowl V.

Super Bowl XLV – Green Bay Packers (31) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (25) – was the most watched program in television history, knocking out Super Bowl XLIV, which knocked out the final episode of Mash, which held the title for 28 years. It was one of the only Super Bowl games that had no cheerleaders.

In 1954, the Baltimore Colts was the first NFL team to have cheerleaders.

26 of the 32 teams in the NFL have cheerleaders. The Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, NY Giants, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers do not have cheerleaders.

NFL cheerleaders are not allowed to date/fraternize with players. This is not the case in college or high school.

NFL cheerleaders make about $75 per game.

The average American does not have the body or stamina of a cheerleader because while the ladies burn off about 10,000 calories during a Super Bowl game, the average American eats 1,200 calories during the game. Our favorites:

1.2 billion wings

37% will eat those wings with blue cheese, unless you live up north, that increases to 50%

11 million pounds of chips

70 million pounds of guacamole (70 million is not a typo)

14 billion hamburgers

50 million cases of beer

So, I guess it’s no wonder 6% of us won’t be sharing any of these super facts at the watercooler Monday because that’s the percentage that call in ‘sick’ the day following the Super Bowl.

Now, time to go get ‘supered’ up for the big game!

Go Chargers!!!! Help a sister next year.  Which by the way will be called Super Bowl 50, not Super Bowl L.

You CAN Get Rid of Your Fear of Public Speaking for Good

20 May

fear_of_elevatorsWhen the doors close, my world stops.

I can’t think, can’t breathe, my stomach pings, my wide-eyed glare transfixed on the blinking numbers above the doors.

Until it STOPS.

As soon as the doors open, I’m the first one off.

That’s my life with elevators. I’ll go to great lengths to avoid them even when it means – which is usually – climbing 318 steps daily steps to my 4th floor office and my 5th floor apartment. I’ve showed up at doctors’ offices, events, parties, and interviews, breathless. I’ve convinced my high rise friends to ride down to get me, ride up with me, and, yup, ride back down. I recently annoyed the hell out of my daughter as we rode 30-something floors to visit friends near the top floor of the Viceroy in Miami.  Along for the sketchy, jerky ride was a popular NBA basketball player perplexed – or entertained, I’m not sure – by my panic ‘routine.’

Actually, I’m not really sure if it’s elevators I’m afraid of or if it’s falling hard and fast into the bowels of the earth tumbling in its dark center trapped and buried with bitey bugs and slimy worms and silence where no one can hear or save me and I’ll be alone and that’s…The End.  

Sounds pretty rational to me.

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Find Your Voice

12 Mar


Earlier this week, my friend Angela was preparing to give a talk to aspiring journalists at her alma mater, which is also my alma mater, Utica College of Syracuse University*.  Angela put a shout out on Facebook asking if any journalists had advice worth sharing.  Angela, a well-respected producer at the top of her game in the number one market in the country, New York City, didn’t really need the help.  But that’s what trained journalists do – consider every source, every angle, and leave no stone unturned.

Her request, to no surprise, solicited a mix of solid advice, a bit of lark, and a good dose of professional sarcasm.  All in good fun.  All true.

Her request got me thinking about the first time Angela and I met.

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We All Fall Short on Something, Literally

21 Nov

We all fall short on something.   For each of us, there are some things in life we just don’t ‘get.’  Literally.

Some people are short on cash.

Some on courage.

Others, are short on patience.

Sadly for some, life is short-lived.

But for me…well… I’m just plain short.

So when my acting coach, Nick, recently told me to bring my own monologue to my first advanced acting class, I wrote about what I knew best.  It went something like this:

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