Embrace the Nausea…and Other Tips for Public Speaking

I’ve been lucky enough (or unlucky enough, to some) to have had the opportunity to give public presentations for over twenty five years—ranging from lectures for college students, to speaking to over 500 resellers at an IT conference, to most recently facilitating a panel for the SEMPO Philadelphia event for just under 100 attendees. In addition, in my everyday life, I frequently give more intimate presentations to prospective customers who are considering working with my marketing firm.

First, let me admit that I enjoy this. I like to see the faces of people who are reacting to my words and many times ‘getting it’ (meaning the information or insights I’m sharing) for the first time. And I think I’m pretty good at it. Some would say I’m ‘a natural’; however, I was not born a public speaker. In fact, I too, struggled with my public speaking way back in a course at Lafayette College.

I recently attended a conference where a ‘professional’ public speaker gave tips on this topic. I didn’t exactly agree with those tips, so I thought to offer you my top ones, beginning with:

  1. Embrace the Nausea: It’s normal to feel nervous. In fact, I’ve come to feel very comfortable with that rumbling in my stomach and light headache. It means I’m ready. If I weren’t slightly nervous, I’d worry. It would mean that I didn’t care about my topic or audience. It’s the passion for the topic and yes, the fear that I won’t be understood, that causes this. So, 25+ years of nausea…it’s the best.
  2. Focus on the Audience: In cases where you cannot see the audience (such as being on a stage in front of 500 or more people in an auditorium), it’s more difficult. Thankfully, most of you won’t encounter that situation. When you can see the audience, don’t just focus on one person or a person you know. Change your focus, as well as your body direction, to take in various individuals during a presentation. That’s why I like panels, because you, as the moderator, can focus on your panelists, and then see the reaction of audience participants when someone else is speaking. That way you can sense the pulse of the room and direct questions accordingly. Panels are really the ideal speaking situation.
  3. Face the Elephant in the Room: In a smaller setting, there’s usually at least one naysayer or an individual with folded arms (insisting they don’t want to be ‘sold’). What to do? These are two entirely different situations, but both require some skill. For the naysayer or person trying to control the conversation, first let them speak and then immediately direct the conversation to someone else in the room, asking them what they think. So basically, address the topic or concern but have others weigh in. Then move on. For the folded arm individual, you’ll have to do some guessing regarding why they have this physical barrier, especially if that person is important. Here’s where you should take a risk. Float the topic that you think is on their mind to the group. If you’ve hit their concern, you’ll immediately get a reaction from this person…in less than 3 seconds. Really!

I hope that my various experiences, and physical discomfort, will help you prepare for and give your next presentation. I’d love to know how it goes. For feedback on this article and other topics, please email me at fcarb@markitects.com.

SEMPO: An Event to Remember

by Brooke Meyer


This Tuesday, Markitects was a proud co-sponsor of “SEMPO Cities Philadelphia: Up Your Digital Marketing Tempo” in collaboration with local WSI affiliate, Vinkler Internet Enterprise. This event was part of SEMPO’s outreach initiative for local networking and learning. As one of only 20 cities around the world to be included the first-ever SEMPO Cities Month, it was truly an honor for Philadelphia to be chosen. Taking place at The Pyramid Club, one of the finest venues in Philadelphia, the entire morning was fast-paced, engaging, and incredibly insightful for all who attended.

As a graphic designer at Markitects, I was fortunate enough to participate in SEMPO’s outreach event. I had never attended something of this scale, and was pleasantly surprised as to how the day unfolded. Located at the very top floor of the BNY Mellon Center building, the guests were treated to a fantastic view of the cityscape as they greeted each other and signed in at the desk. Before the event started, it seemed more like a reunion than a meeting: attendees giving each other hugs and warm handshakes and talking about their marketing experiences over mugs of coffee and breakfast.

The keynote speaker was Dan Monaghan, Co-Founder of WSI, one of CIO Magazine’s 20 Most Promising Digital Marketing Solution Providers. His presentation, entitled “Harnessing Digital”, was an eye-opening experience for both marketing novices and veterans alike. He fully engaged the audience by speaking to them as business peers, offering insightful advice, tips and facts on marketing strategies that many would not have considered.

It was a surprise even to me to learn that 65% of web developers have never tested anything–that it’s based entirely on the approval of the client without testing. Or that when driving web traffic, using SEO is obvious, but most people don’t know it can be downright dangerous to the business. If SEO is not done correctly, it can potentially cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars to undo the damage. SEO can be manipulated (or “hacked”) to shoot through the rankings, but can crash shortly after when Google nails you. Instead of coding tricks and buzzwords, using relevant and meaningful content for gradual SEO growth is better in the long-term.

Monaghan then delved into Facebook and other social media, explaining that it can be rendered useless if the audience is not determined to make it succeed. He raised the question if a company’s social media property is even controlled by the company, or is the page being maintained by a former employee—ouch! If that person leaves and a login migration plan is not in effect, the social media presence essentially leaves the hands of the business, too. Monaghan also stressed the importance of content consistency across all properties–even something as minor as an address discrepancy can affect rankings in search engines.

Following Dan’s presentation was the “Digital Marketing in Action” panel, which was a refreshing interactive segment facilitates by our very own Francine Carb, President & CEO. Joining here were Justin Pizzi, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Saxbys Coffee, Kevin Crowly, Sales Performance Analyst at Tozour Energy Systems, and Chris Schalleur, Partner at Christo IT Services who offered insights into how marketing strategies work for them in their own businesses. The beauty of digital marketing is how adaptive and responsive it can be for each individual company. What works for one business may not necessarily work for someone else. However, the underlying elements remain the same: client engagement is crucial and is the root of digital marketing for businesses. Justin Pizzi says that one should always be open to working with marketing agencies and new methods to reach your audience. He also urged that a strong website is the foundation of a business presence; all other materials can be created around it. Kevin Crowley added that for his company, email campaigns and brand consistency greatly helped increase the company’s presence and customer awareness. Chris Schalleur emphasized the importance of getting uncomfortable–as a reminder to engage in continuous improvements is you are to be successful and grown your business.

Next, one of our featured speakers, Julianne Gaudio, Agency Development Manager at Google, presented “Micro Moments, Creating and Capturing Demand with Google”. Did you know that the average person checks their phone 150 times per day and spends a 177 minutes using their smart phone? Many of these moments are spent searching for what we need or want at that moment¬–Google calls these micro-moments. For marketers, these moments are an open invitation to engage. This directly tied into the discussion panel earlier where client engagement was emphasized as crucial. After hearing Gaudio speak, it was fascinating to realize how many different companies, both large and small, have experienced such positive results from digital marketing.

The event was truly a success for everyone involved. I was so grateful to be a part of this and will continue to utilize what I learned at SEMPO for my future design and creative goals for Markitects and its clients.


Marketing for Engineering Firms

You would think that creating and implementing marketing programs for engineering firms would be easy. In addition to being detail-oriented and well organized, engineers understand the advantages of innovation, creativity, and design.

Well, for many, this is not entirely true and here’s why:
Not everyone is like us.

Engineering firms tend to think that because they are typically providing their services to another engineer, they speak a common language. The reality is that their buying audience is getting younger and more diverse. In addition, committees with varying priorities often make the decision on which firm to hire. What’s needed for effective marketing is a better understanding of the project objectives from the viewpoint of every single constituent. This will drive the marketing message, as well as the medium. Think digital, responsive design, mobile, and analytics.

Not all buyers are created equal.
I’ll be the first one to harp about consistent messaging; however the content—and delivery method—should be tweaked, depending on the audience. For instance, an ROI message might be suited to the owner; while the fewer headaches message is best for the PM or facilities manager. In addition, the owner might only be receptive at high-level conferences and panels, while those overworked, underappreciated doers might prefer the efficiency and convenience of educational webinars, followed by a Q&A session.

We’re moving quickly, so our marketing should too.
There’s no avoiding it—marketing is an art and a science. The “answer” in terms of marketing may take some time and refining to work its magic. Many times, our engineering clients have put off their marketing efforts and are now in a hurry; however, the fastest method may not be the best. That’s not to say, overthinking is the answer, but thinking through a solution definitely helps, even if it takes a little time.

Our competitors are doing it.
It seems that all industries, not just engineering, are guilty of wanting to blindly follow their competitors—especially when their competitors have a great idea. The problem with this is that a particular idea may become associated with another company, not yours. Bottom line: there is no substitute for original thinking, so try to work with your creative team, agency or consultant to brainstorm an approach that’s uniquely yours. Use those engineering minds to rise above your competitors. A better idea may be to “borrow” from another industry and tweak that idea appropriately for your firm.

Don’t stop getting to know your audience.
While your engineering knowledge is designed to solve a particular set of problems, your audience is constantly evolving. Whether due to familiarity with your service or other companies solving those same problems, the way to your audience responds to marketing is likely to change over time. Speak to them, meet them, attend their events and conferences, take their pulse through casual meetings and formal surveys, and just engage—however and whenever possible. What you learn will help inform your marketing, keep it relevant, and contribute to more and happier customers.

These five points are especially relevant for engineering and related-industry companies. If you’re ready to bounce your marketing ideas around, please give us a call.


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