Writing a talk or presentation? Ask yourself this essential question

Sitting at my desk, I heard a knock and looked up with tears in my eyes. Opening the door and catching sight of my face, my girlfriend’s eyebrows furrowed, “Are you ok?? What’s wrong?”

I motioned to my computer. “I just listened to Pradeepa’s story again. It’s so beautiful!”

When my client Pradeepa Narayanaswamy got in touch with me, she’d just seen an 8 minute talk I’d done at World Domination Summit.

I’ve been invited to do a TEDx Talk, she said. I know my story is powerful and I want to inspire people, but I have a lot of stories and content in my head. I’m a bit stuck.

This is kind of like catnip for me — helping people figure out what their message is and which of their myriad of stories they should tell onstage is literally my favourite work to do — so of course I jumped at the chance. And I knew exactly the first thing we needed to do:

Before we even wrote the talk, I asked Pradeepa the question I always start with (that you should, too). The question is:

What are your…

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Usually I’m in my element, but I was absolutely terrified

Twice in the last month, I’ve been on a Zoom call with someone doing the thing I usually PRIDE myself on being great at—and I’ve been a stuttering wreck. My next live storytelling show happens this coming Tuesday and, for the first time in months, I’ve been coaching storytellers for it. Most of the online…

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I’m a slow reader, but I RACED through this book

Every time I walked past my bookshelf, I’d try and shield my eyes from it. When I didn’t, it was hard to ignore: bright yellow and red spine, perfectly uncreased. It felt like the book was laughing at me. Why d’you even bother buying me? Why am I even taking up space in your house?…

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For a laugh, I imagined actually telling them the truth

You know when someone you don’t know very well asks you a question and the truth is so bleak that you just know saying it would make everyone really uncomfortable… …but you also kind of think it would be funny if you did? Several years ago, I took the bold step of quitting a job…

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Free(ish) class: How to answer the question, “What Do You Do?”

Recently, I ran a class called,“How To Answer The Question, ‘What Do You Do?’” or HTATQWDYD)(or “H’tat-qu’did,” if you prefer), and there’s now a recording of it available. Having a good answer to this question helps you in multiple ways. For example, with it you can: ~ avoid your stomach going into a tight knot…

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed and starting to shut down, this is for you

If you said “yes” to that subject line, I mostly just want to send you to watch this short vid by Ijeoma Oluo on Instagram.

But just in case you’re not able to use sound or watch a vid right now, here’s something else.

Another week, and the world is still on fire. I’m sitting mostly between heartbreak, cautious hope and urgency. Heartbreak over what I’m learning (more and more of) about the treatment of black, brown and indigenous people, now and for all the decades past I’m discovering more about as I read, watch and listen. Cautious hope over the ways people in my home and heart countries of Canada, the UK and the US seem to be standing up and taking action (I think M*tt R*mney is a truly heinous person, but when he is marching for BLM as a photo-op, it very much suggests a sea-change in where the masses are putting their energy.)

And urgency to take (anti-racist) action, to DO SOMETHING. MORE THINGS. ALL THE THINGS.

It’s this last one I want to talk about today. Because when it’s full of energy, it’s exactly what we need right now. But when it tips into overwhelm and shuts us down, it’s not much good to anyone.

First off, for everyone: a rejuvenating tip I highly recommend is listening to my new favourite…

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Some ideas for where to start when it comes to doing antiracism work

Oof. It feels off to say, “It’s been a heavy week,” because I’m well aware that the heaviness that some of us are experiencing freshly is a present and everyday occurrence for many others.

First and most importantly: if you’re a person of colour, in particular one of the black, brown and indigenous folx* in this community, for whom the last week has been especially painful, I am so, so sorry. I cannot begin to imagine what it has been like for you, but I hold you in my heart while also committing to do the anti-racism work that is my responsibility. Most of this email is directed at the white folx in this community, if you don’t want to read it but you’d like something else to read, here’s a LOVELY piece in GQ about Eric Thomas, motivational coach for NBA players and millions more (and a nice antidote to T**y Ro**ns): https://www.gq.com/story/eric-thomas-life-coach-pr…

I had this whole idea that today, I was going to tell you about how I’m learning to fight on the internet (cliff notes: less yelling my opinions through a megaphone just so I can pat myself on the back for ‘fighting racism,’ more making small attempts to make people feel heard so that they’re more open to listening when I calmly explain why their argument doesn’t work)(I appreciate that this is NOT the most important work to engage in, but if I’m going to find myself dragged into it sometimes anyway, it’s a better way).

But, honestly, doing anything other than amplifying black voices and suggesting action you can take feels crappy right now. So here are some quick-fire links, in case you’re reading this as a white person who wants to do better but doesn’t really know how to start…

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Some thoughts on the Business Coaching Pyramid Scheme, and how to avoid being part of it

(AKA behind the scenes of my ethical dilemmas, and a list of the systems I’m putting in place to try and solve them.)

This is the kind of blog I always slightly regret posting (but that I often get a LOT of emails about, because it gives (my) people some VERY! STRONG! EMOTIONAL! RESPONSES!).

Here’s the context:

The other day, I was on a call to my friend Katherine (she off’ve Declare Dominion) and I started having that conversation with her. The one I have with almost all my online business friends whenever we start talking about courses and other lower-priced offerings.

“The thing is…” As I said the words, I wasn’t actually twirling one of those curly landline phone chords, because it’s 2020 and we don’t use them anymore, but that was my vibe. “I just worry that I’m being part of what my friend Sam calls ‘the Business Coach Pyramid Scheme’. You know, where you hire me as a business coach, and I teach you how to be a business coach who coaches business coaches how to coach people on being business coaches that coach business coaches… and there’s no actual end product.”

The reason I felt safe enough to say this to Katherine is because she knows I’m not trashing anyone who is a business coach per se. For years, being one has been a huge part of my own income (whether it’s through showing people with a website how to tell stories and be more themselves online or teaching you how to write sales pages with soul so it would be a bit hypocritical if I was slating everyone else who does this work.

But where I start to get itchy is when I see customers being sold the promise of making millions of dollars, AND where there’s not enough vetting going on, when it comes to who is buying. Meaning those courses and classes often get bought by people who will never make a lot of income from their endeavour.

Back on the call to Katherine, I told her, “I just don’t want to take someone’s money if it’s going to be wasted. Like, maybe you’re buying my course but you’re actually not going to make a success of making money from the thing you want to apply my lessons to.”

Katherine — charismatic enthusiast that she is — said, “You should do a Facebook Live on that! ‘Should you even start a business? An honest look from someone with integrity’”

I liked that idea for about two seconds until I realized that I’d never be bold enough to CRUSH ANYONE’S DREAMS TO THEIR FACE.

But…

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5 Things you need to ask yourself before you write a sales page

This might be a silly idea, BUT:

In today’s blog, I figured I could either tell you all the reasons I think you sign up for my Sales Pages With Soul 4 week class at the Early Bird price before Tuesday…

…OR, I could just write in the actual email the stuff I’m planning to teach. That way, you might not even need to bother paying for the class.

Which is mostly the way I do my free 15 minute consults; I just get on the call, coach the prospect I’m talking to until 5 mins before the end, then ask, “Got what you need? If not, here’s what hiring me would look like, and here’s how to do it.” This both gives me a very high closing rate AND makes sure I’m not taking money from anyone who shouldn’t be spending it on me.

Anyway, if you are someone who ever needs to write a sales page for anything… you’ll want to save this email somewhere for future reference.

Here are the 5 Things you NEED to ask yourself before you write a sales page:

1) What do you know about…

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I would bet MONEY you’ve done this in the last few weeks

Do you have this? Where there’s a thing that you are really good at helping other people do all the live-long day — but doing it for yourself makes you want to stab yourself in the neck with a fork?

Sorry if that description was a bit disgusting, but it’s HOW I FEEL, MAN. Anyway, I’m going to tell you about my one of these things, and what I did to deal with it.

About a month ago, I realized I needed to write a new page for my website. On top of helping people like you sell your services, products and talents to dream clients who desperately need them, I also work with corporate, NGO and non-profit organizations. I run workshops on how to use storytelling for better communication, more innovation and to ramp up your leadership skills.

Or rather, I ran them.

Then we went into lockdown, the world lost its mind and I knew I had to tweak those workshops. I knew that companies who were used to doing everything in person were suddenly having to adapt to their staff working remotely, with everyone communicating over screens and emails. Handily, I have some Charismatic Communication workshops that are perfect to help people with this. I didn’t yet have a sales page for them. But it’s ok — I teach people how to write killer Sales Pages with Soul. So no problem… right?

Except…

…whenever I thought about it, I mostly felt like a whining child. MUMMY WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME WRITE A SALES PAGE MUMMY IT’S SO UNFAIR I DON’T WANT TO MUMMY WHY WHY WHY MUMMMMYYYYYYYYYY!!

So here’s what I did.

I reminded myself of one of my favourite mantras (and one that, I recently discovered Denise Duffield Thomas quotes me on in her book Chillpreneur!)…

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