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Alternative CYA phrases

“CYA” (cover your ass) is a great phrase for office life, but sometimes it has connotations of selfishness, like you’re saying someone just wants to protect himself, he doesn’t really care about the group or the company.

Example: “That email was mostly CYA. He just wants to make sure that if the project fails, no one will blame him.”

Sometimes you want an alternative way to say “we need to be thorough, and make sure we’re protected if it fails” without that connotation of selfishness. Here are some alternatives you can use:

to manage the potential risks (example: “We need to manage the potential risks.”)
to take protective measures (example: “We need to take protective measures here.”)
to minimize potential negative repercussions (example: “We need to minimize potential negative repercussions.”)
to cover all the angles (example: “We need to cover all the angles.”)
to protect against downside risk (example: “We need to protect against downside risk.”)
to make sure all the bases are covered (example: “We need to make sure all the bases are covered.”)
to prepare for potential negative outcomes (example: “We need to prepare for potential negative outcomes.”)
to cover the bases (example: “We need to cover the bases.”)

Probably the best way to make sure no one thinks you’re trying to say “He was just covering his own ass” is just to be specific about who is being protected, like “He is just concerned about downside risk for the company” or “He was just trying to minimize potential negative repercussions for the company.”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Three tips for videoconferencing

I know a lot of you are working from home this week. It probably involves a lot of videoconferencing, which might feel a little strange, since it’s probably a bit unfamiliar. I do a lot of videoconferencing, so here are three tips that might help. 

1. Humans like movement. So move towards and away from the camera, and left and right. Not a lot, of course, or you will look like you are having muscle spasms, but a little movement never hurt anyone.
2. Humans want to feel like the other person is listening. So make eye contact. Staring at the little green light on your webcam might feel a little strange, so in the video is a tip that’ll help with that.
3. Ask simple questions to keep the audience awake and involved, and away from checking Facebook or email.

And most of all, keep it short. No one ever complained about getting out early.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

CXO letter sample

———- Forwarded message ———
From: matt@krauseenglish.com
Date: XYZ
Subject: CXO Letter sample
To: xyz@xyz.com

A favorite word that I’ve run across an unusual number of times in my readings this week is “slog.” This word can be a noun or a verb, and using it will take your language out of the dreariness of day-to-day communication into the higher level of “colorful.”

More here:

In case you can’t see the thumbnail, the video is here:
https://krauseenglish.com/ceo-letter-20190613/

The link to “record your voice” (an easy way for you to record yourself using the word or phrase, and me to respond with feedback) (if you like, of course):
https://krauseenglish.com/record-your-voice/


Idiom: to make a splash

Definition: to attract a lot of attention; to get noticed

Examples:
Everyone is talking about the new movie. It really made a splash.
That new book is really popular. The author is on all the talk shows. She really made a splash.

(Click here to watch the video)


The default answer is no, and solid financials are just table stakes. So what is it?


Other stuff:


Krause English
Language and communications coaching for CEOs, CFOs, and the BoD

Email: matt@krauseenglish.com
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About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Presentation checklist

Click here to download the presentation checklist (one-page PDF).

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

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About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Interview with Memet Yazıcı

Baldwin and Matt interviewed Memet Yazıcı, Managing Partner of TRPE Capital. Memet speaks here about preparing for pitch meetings, a portfolio company’s management team’s role in telling the company’s story, and the importance of relationships with LPs.

01:35 Sometimes more experienced LPs will give you very good feedback on your pitch, helping you clarify your message.

03:59 Talking about your track record isn’t always the most useful way to pitch. Try these things instead.

05:37 Memet talks about how he doesn’t change the fundamental investment thesis, but “moves the emphasis,” according to the particular interests and background of the LP.

07:12 Memet tells us a bit about his pre-meeting prep.

09:27 Memet points out that the management team at the portfolio companies is part of the storytelling effort too.

10:58 Memet goes into whether he finds storytelling skills well-developed at portfolio companies.

11:48 Memet describes things that make him cringe about some portfolio companies’ storytelling.

13:01 Memet mentions that sometimes a portfolio company’s management team needs outside help with their storytelling.

14:06 Memet talks about the CFO in particular, and his/her role in telling the company’s story.

14:59 “The CFO is the navigation officer on the ship” (one of Baldwin and Matt’s favorite quotes from the interview)

15:38 “They [CFOs] obviously need to own the numbers, they need to be very good with the numbers, but what do those numbers mean? What’s that context? We need the CFO to have that context.”

17:13 In Memet’s opinion, the best CFOs are often female CFOs, and Memet goes into what he means by that and why he thinks that way.

19:37 Memet talks about relationships with LPs, and how they should be seen in a bigger picture. “Relationships are really the true capital of our business.”

20:30 Memet goes into other things that an LP relationship might mean to you, beyond supplying financial capital to your business.

23:42 “Building that human relationship [with the LP] gives you an opportunity to help back, to contribute back.”

Memet was quite articulate and thoughtful, this was one of our favorite interviews. Thanks Memet, it was a pleasure!

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Interview with Roland Meerdter

This post originally appeared on Fund Marketing Secrets.

Baldwin and Matt interviewed Roland Meerdter, co-founder of Door Ventures. Roland speaks here about streamlining the DDQ process, the origins of Door, how standardized DDQs evolve over time, and how digitalization is affecting the due diligence process.

Highlights of the conversation:

02:16 Analysts are having to cover more, and the due diligence process is an increasing burden on them, too.

04:29 Analysts need to be able to see the evolution of an asset manager, how the manager’s process might change over time.

05:01 The role of the APFI in standardizing the questionnaire.

06:49 Digitalization is playing an important role in the DDQ process.

09:47 Manager selection teams are more likely than they were a few years ago to acknowledge that part of the DDQ is standard amongst competitors.

13:36 One reason the analyst needs visibility into the evolution of a manager’s thesis is so the analyst knows whether decisions that have been made in the past still hold. “The challenge is delta.”

17:42 “There is a balance between the usefulness of the information on the manager research side, and an element of ‘check the box.'”

20:44 “The quality of the questions has gone up. The quality of the responses has gone up.”

23:32 How the standard questionnaire will probably evolve to reflect changing emphases in the industry.

24:31 The central question to ask active managers. It’s where the rubber hits the road.

26:12 Good questions are about digging through the nuances.

27:12 Roland tells a story of interviewing a manager who had studied French literature, and how paying attention to that small detail opened up a new world into the manager’s mindset.

33:24 Asset managers saw Door as not only a way to increase efficiency, but as a way to create a higher level of engagement.

35:02 Roland mentions that customers often use your service in a way you would never have expected.

35:53 “We’re trying to make humans more effective, not necessarily machines more effective.”

38:32 If I’m a manager research analyst, “I don’t want my managers filling out questionnaires. I want them focused on running the portfolio.”

40:50 Small firms deserve the same access to information that the big shots do.

Thank you for your time Roland, it was a great pleasure!

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Interview with Kyle Dunn

This post originally appeared on Fund Marketing Secrets.

Baldwin and Matt interviewed Kyle Dunn, CEO of Meyler Capital. Kyle speaks here about marketing in the fund world, and what opportunities fund managers are missing, and that performance is vital, but it’s table stakes, it’s like BMW saying, “Our cars run good.”

Highlights of the conversation:

03:08 People want to discover things on their own, and if you don’t have technology to track that discovery process, it’s hard to know who to talk to.

05:30 How marketing automation fits in with the concept that “fund management is a relationship business.”
07:52 “Would you ever put a paragraph on a freeway sign?” (about layering stories; don’t try to say too much too quickly).

09:48 Why video is particularly important these days.

12:34 Alternative approaches if you don’t feel like you’re good on camera.

19:56 Lead scores prioritize your interest list.

21:18 How to know you shouldn’t get on an airplane and go meet with someone.

23:38 “We have an industry that is fixated on a tool [the pitch book] that actually isn’t really used… It’s like the conch in Lord Of The Flies.” (one of Matt’s favorite lines)

24:26 “The biggest misbelief is that all that matters is performance. If you’re a manager and that’s all that you think, you’re in trouble.”

28:59 “You’re the most sophisticated investors on the planet, why would you not want the most sophisticated marketing to align with your investment strategy?”

32:50 “When you think about it, the last thing you should talk about is performance, because then you look like a greaseball when you don’t perform.”

Thank you for your time Kyle, it was a great pleasure!

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Encore interview with JB Beckett

There was so much to talk about in the first interview that Baldwin and Matt asked JB Beckett to grace the podcast a second time.

For those who missed the first interview, JB is the author of #New Fund Order and a very articulate veteran of the fund scene.

In this interview, JB talks about what prompted him to write #New Fund Order, and about fintech and AI.

A summary of some of JB’s comments:

–He wrote most of the first draft of #NFO in a single week of feverish activity.

–Running a fund is neither art nor science, it is “fuzzy logic” and plenty of subjective judgement. We are human beings trying to make money for other human beings and for ourselves in the process.

–Fund companies might actually be inhibiting fintech progress, or maybe not. They don’t seem to be so sure themselves.

–Smartphones, and the companies that produce them, bring more disruption potential to the financial services industry than people in the industry seem to realize.

Thank you for your time JB, it was a great pleasure to have you back.

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Interview with JB Beckett

Baldwin Berges and Matt interviewed JB Beckett, author of #New Fund Order. JB has listened to thousands of fund pitches in his career. In fact, he’s such a wealth of information that we will bring him back for an encore presentation.

A major theme running through JB’s comments in this particular interview is the internal organizational tension between the marketing team and the individual portfolio managers, and what this tension causes and why it exists.

A summary of some of JB’s comments:

—The pitchbook is important, it has to match the flow and the personality of the fund manager. The buyer will know something is fishy if it doesn’t. However, in a meeting between the fund buyer and the fund manager, the fund buyer is primarily there to talk to the fund manager and see how he/she thinks, not to review the pitchbook. The fund company needs to remember that the pitchbook is there for the fund buyer’s meeting prep, not to rehash during the meeting.

—Product marketing teams are too often equipping the fund manager with what they think the fund buyer wants, not what the fund buyer actually wants.

—One of the main reasons for this disconnect (the one between what the marketing team thinks the buyer wants and what the buyer actually wants) is that the marketing team at many houses has become obsessed with the volume of the information it is providing. The marketing department has essentially become a publishing department.

—A fund manager’s rough edges are important. They are what cements the bond between the fund manager and the fund buyer. Those rough edges might make the marketing department cringe, but if they are all rubbed off, no bond will form.

Thank you for your time JB, it was a great pleasure. We look forward to having you back!

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Listener question for Ole

One of our listeners, a country fund investing in publicly-traded equities on that country’s exchange, had a followup question about something discussed on the Ole Rollag interview. They asked:

“We send out a monthly newsletter about our fund performance and other developments in the [country name removed] markets. This newsletter goes out to our existing investors and people who have opted into it on our website.

“But Ole mentions the high volume of emails (ranging from a couple hundred per day to a couple thousand per day) these people might be getting.

“How do we reconcile these two seemingly competing realities? On the one hand, we’re sending out a newsletter because we’d like to communicate with interested people. But on the other hand, allocators are getting tons of emails. What does Ole have to say about this? Should we consider our newsletter a small voice lost in the wind? Are we wasting our time?”

Ole’s answer:

“Short answer is to ask the allocators what they prefer. I think that weeklies might be helpful, but good allocators won’t react on price, but change. I see weeklies, and ignore them. Unless someone says, ‘Wait, something has changed.’

“If it is the status quo, then it is junk. Let me know when you think there is a problem. If you tell me when to reduce, that is amazing and I would definitely come back.

“Long term greedy!”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Interview with Ole Rollag

Baldwin Berges and Matt interviewed Ole Rollag of Murano.

Ole mentioned a couple things in particular that caught our attention:

One is the importance of good old phone followup. Ole mentioned that Murano’s people spend a lot of time on the phone with allocators; he used a great phrase, saying that allocators are essentially “drinking from a firehose.” Simply sending them a couple emails and hoping they’ll notice you is a recipe for failure. It doesn’t matter how great your slide deck is — if they don’t know you, you’re just a drop in the ocean. Call them up and become real, even if you are thinking a call is a little too much, or are afraid you might do it wrong. Stay top of mind.

Another is that many managers don’t know who they’re competing against. A great Ole-ism: “If I had a dime for every time a manager said they are unique and they don’t compete with anyone, I’d be a very rich man.”

Ole knows quite well what goes on in the heads of allocators — he talks to a lot of them, just in the normal course of his business. An interesting point that he makes, and we here at Doppler have seen the same thing, is that fund managers tend to stress performance, but performance is only third or fourth on the list of what a good allocator is looking for. That point alone (it’s around minutes 15-17 of the podcast) makes the podcast a great listen.

There’s lots of other great stuff here too. Thanks Ole, it was a pleasure!

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

Full transcript:

Matt:
Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Lessons Learned podcast. Our hosts are Matt Krause, that’s me, and Baldwin Berges.

Baldwin:
Hello there.

Matt:
And, our guest today is Ole Rollag of Murano. Ole, can you introduce yourself a little bit, and tell us what you do, and who you do it for?

Ole:
Sure. Well, thank you very much for inviting me to be on the podcast. Like Matt said, my name’s Ole Rollag. I am the founder and managing principal of a company called Murano which is basically placed to go right up against that third party marketing model.

What Murano is, is essentially a matchmaking service. We don’t sell funds, you don’t say the name of the funds, we don’t get paid off the back when they sell. All we’re doing is listening to the allocators and finding out what they’re looking for and if we have a fund manager that fits within that profile, and there’s no deal breakers, we’ll have that manager get in touch with the allocator so they can start a relationship.

Baldwin:
I remember when I first met you, this has got to be about 10 years ago now, I think it was in 2007 or 2008, right? At the time, I was also setting up an investment boutique focused on exotic markets in Africa and the Middle East. And someone told us, or told me at least, you’ve got to talk to Ole Rollag. I was really having a hard time trying to get attention to that business in the beginning and all that, and so we met.

I remember we met in the city of London, and I remember we had this fascinating conversation about where you had this other way from the traditional third party marketing solution. Because as a fund manager myself, I was kind of nervous about paying away retainers to the wrong people because I’ve made that mistake before, basically getting on to their roster where they’re then struggling to divide time to the managers and don’t actually have the confidence of the final investor and most of the time it went nowhere. It was really exciting to hear you say, like, no, no, look, there’s another way.

A good place to start is maybe, what’s wrong with this third party marketing model, and because since 10 years, you have worked with thousands of managers, you’ve listened to them, and you’ve also seen all the mistakes that the managers have made. We can have a pretty long conversation, but what stands out most for you?

Ole:

It’s funny, because you know, when you think about it, I was one of those managers as well. And I think when we met, I was just kind of wrapping up this idea of a long volatility fund.

You remember in 2008 it was a really tough time. As a matter of fact, I don’t know anybody who actually kept their jobs within that period. I think everybody had to switch or move on, and I made a very good decision and a very poor decision, because an event driven long volatility fund in 2007 would have been the fund to invest in, but the timing of the business was wrong. So, Ole Rollag as a fund manager wasn’t going to happen in the near term.

Then, I don’t know if you remember, but it looked Armageddon. It looked like things were really just going to go to zero. One of the things that I really struggled with as an asset manager is of course, you know, I’m a genius right? (Laughter) People should invest in me because I’m really good at it. Most managers have this sort of [inaudible] where, if somebody has money, they should definitely allocate to you.

You’re very cognizant that when you’re starting a new business, the formula for success is AUM times management fee plus performance fee equals success. There’s no point being in the asset management business if you’re running a sub-scale fund. It’s just not worth the risk. So, we were doing management consulting and I sort of kept myself employed throughout the crisis, and then kind of came up with this idea of Murano because, you know of the many, many things that are very complicated in this industry, we find that getting that first meeting is probably the most costly and the most difficult. So, trying to find out ways for people to kind of work through that is sort of a major factor. And that’s why people go to conferences, and all that sort of stuff.

Baldwin:
And that’s an interesting point you just raised there, because from what I’ve seen in the industry is, there doesn’t seem to be this awareness of the cost per meeting, so asset managers from my experience don’t really think too much about, is it really worth me doing that trip to let’s say, Hong Kong, because actually I haven’t analyzed what the cost of client acquisition is. They’re kind of in the dark about that, aren’t they?

Ole:
Totally, and it’s extremely frustrating.

Baldwin:
Exactly. There’s no rationale behind it, right?

Ole:
Yeah, and then what I think the biggest or one of the big problems is that sales is relegated into a corner where it’s very much underappreciated in this industry. You think about any other business, any other listed company, what do we care about? We care about earnings growth. We care about sales. And business is sales. And that’s what is going to make you a success or a failure. And yet, we’re so isolated in this industry and then we have these sort of notions of, call them what you will, but this sort of inability to understand what the business is of asset management.

Baldwin:
So you put these parties together, you make a match, and then, have you over time now gotten also involved in coaching these guys on how to make the right impression to actually get the business, or has that become part of your proposition? Because you must have seen all sorts of things going wrong once that match was made.

Ole:
Yeah, yeah. Maybe it would be helpful just to give some scope of what the scale of the business is, and all this other sort of stuff. So right now, we’re just under 30 employees with offices in London and New York. The majority of these employees are calling allocators all day long. They make about 50 calls each. They get hold of about 10 allocators and if they can find one allocator that fits within the requirements of what one of managers are doing, then we write it up and asked the manager to contact this allocator.

We have just under, or just about 90 clients that range anywhere from tiny little funds all the way up to very, very large asset managers. Our largest client is just over a trillion dollars in AUM, and the way the service works, is it’s a pure informational service. Like I said before, we don’t represent anyone or shout any names out, or anything like that. So, there’s a big challenge, is that you can find the right investors, but if the clients are not using the service correctly, then they’re going to cancel the service. The service can be canceled within a quarter, so with three months’ time, and so we have to make sure that not only are we finding the right investors, but that we’re also, that our managers know how to contact these investors.

The biggest problem that we find, is that a lot of people hide behind e-mail. And if you want to start a relationship, you have to call. It’s funny, because these days we’re looking at algorithms, and the majority of our work is done on a computer and all this other sort of stuff. People have this natural tendency, or this need, to actually hear somebody else’s voice on the phone, and that’s my big intention.

Baldwin:
So you actually probably have then, evidence that allocators want to be called by the right people.

Ole:
Oh, yeah. When you think about it, how many e-mails do you receive a day? How many e-mails do you think an allocator receives a day.

Baldwin:
Oh, it’s ridiculous the amount. It must be amazing, yeah.

Ole:
It’s easily 200. I know one guy who has just three years in the business and he receives actually 2500 e-mails a day.

Matt:
Say that again, 2000 what?

Ole:
2500 e-mails a day.

Matt:
Wow.

Ole:
The read rate on e-mails we know is 5%. One thing that I always ask allocators is hey, how do you decide which e-mail to read, or which call to pick up? The basic response is, if I don’t who you are, I don’t read your mail.

Baldwin:
Of course, yeah. So the fund manager then has a limiting belief in his head, saying that the allocator actually does not want to be called, and that’s where this whole thing gets stuck, right?

Ole:
It’s rubbish. They have to be called. Also, you notice in your own personal lives, you get this e-mail from a conference organizer or somebody, and then it will say, come to this conference, and then they’ll respond to their own e-mail, saying hey, Ole, did you receive this? And it’s like, yeah (laughter), you know, this isn’t sincere. Because e-mails are free, they’re abused. It always goes back to the relationship. If I know who you are, you at least introduce me to your product, then we can chat.

The other problem that we’re seeing past the call is that oftentimes e-mails are too long, so you get the TL;DR, too long, didn’t read sort of thing. Managers need to know what their value proposition is. What’s incredible, is that people don’t know how they compete or why people allocate to them. Which to me, is crazy, right?

Baldwin:
Yeah, yeah. I know it’s striking actually to hear it, because it’s all metrics about performance. It’s all about basically, that they’re so good at segmenting information when it comes to the financial part, but when it comes to the commercial part, they actually haven’t even thought about it a second, about what makes them so unique.

Ole:
Yeah, and yet you’re dedicating millions of dollars to this business, and you don’t know how to segment or target yourself. Which is really funny, because it’s across different sort of things, so if you look at CTA managers, commodity trading advisors, [company name] and so on and so forth, they know the pecking order. They follow the rankings and they follow what’s going on, and they know, well you buy me because so and so doesn’t do this, or that, or the other thing. When you’re looking at most long-only managers or a lot of other managers, they do not know who they compete against.

If I had a dime for every time a manager said they’re unique and they don’t compete with anyone, I’d be a very rich man. (Laughter)

Baldwin:
So Ole, what can managers do to better understand … is it about better understanding … so with your services that you speak to allocators all the time, and so you make a map of what they’re looking for, what they want, what their preferences are? But, do you also help managers help find out what makes them so unique, or is that something that they just have to do by themselves, is that an exercise …

Ole:
Unfortunately, it’s a combination of the two. If you’re looking at big mistakes which there are many, I’ve learned … let me tell you a story. At one time, what we did was, we would help managers with their presentations. You know, get it to look pretty, make sure the messaging was efficient and clear, and all that sort of stuff. The one thing I learned, and I don’t know, Matt, if you’ve had that same experience or Baldwin but you know, you can only go so far with what the message is. Ultimately, the manager is going to have to do a lot of work because that is their job. But they don’t know how to a lot of times, and it’s not uncommon to be so close to your business that you don’t really, you can’t really see anything else except what’s five inches from you.

It’s a little bit funny, we’ve all had relationships and everything, and then whenever you go over a problem or something like that, you talk to a friend or significant other, and it’s like oh, well you should do this. Like, gee, I don’t know, and all this other stuff, and you kind of hesitate. But then you think about that a couple of weeks later or a month later, and you’re like, yeah they’re actually right. Why didn’t I just accept it.

It’s like that with a lot of managers. You can give them the tools, but also from what I said, they’re going to have to make the changes and you come and do all that tough work. It’s a little bit like, with consulting is never do something that cannot be sustainable and replicated in house. Because if you do something for people, they will never know how to recreate it.

Baldwin:
Yeah, that’s the fish, or learning to fish kind of analogy, right?

Ole:
Yeah.

Baldwin:
You have to be able to internalize it. You’ve spoken to so many allocators. I know you actually produce content about your interviews with them, I think you’re still doing that. What comes to mind as this recurring desire by fund allocators that they wish fund managers would behave better at or become better at? Is there something recurring?

Ole:
Yeah, but I think the biggest recurring … I would say there are two kinds of allocators. There’s the simplistic one who buys performance and then there’s the professional allocator, and I have to be very careful how I say this, but … the problem with allocating to third party funds is that there is no book that I’ve seen that tells you how to allocate to a third party fund manager. You can’t go to school, or there’s not an association, and so really it’s a craft.

When you’re coming into the profession of third party fund allocation, most of the people say, well, what’s performing, what’s not performing, and that’s the allocator who is down a very, very difficult road because what happens is that you’ll buy a high performing manager, all of the sudden they go into draw down, you’re unhappy that you lost money, you redeem from the fund and they go off to find the next best thing to replicate your mistake.

What really happens, you start to understand that performance is the product of a good process and a good edge. So a good allocator doesn’t look at performance right away. As a matter of fact it’s usually, what’s funny is this is actually sort of like across the board, performance is probably a third or fourth factor in the whole look and feel of the fund. It’s up to the allocator to understand under what conditions this manager will perform. Are the conditions right, or are they not right?

Also, understand what that edge is, what makes that manager different from everyone else. Just because of a manager’s underperforming an index, or peer group, or he’s outperforming the peer group, or his asset classes are not at the right time, there’s a whole bunch of different factors that you can’t discount as an investor.

I kind of go back to my grandfather. My grandfather was a veterinarian and when I was a kid, I didn’t really care about it. I thought, oh yeah, a veterinarian, cats and dogs, big deal. He doesn’t work on humans, he isn’t a brain surgeon. But actually, you think about it, a veterinarian is a tough job because animals don’t tell you where they hurt. And fund managers don’t tell you why they’re special. They don’t know, most of them don’t. It’s really a skill that an allocator has to get and it’s a thankless skill that they have to have.

Baldwin:
And is that across hierarchy, so even the principals struggle with this? You maybe attribute, maybe it’s lack of experience by the salespeople, or is it just across the company in general, when you see this?

Ole:
It’s usually, newer managers typically will suffer from this a lot. Smaller managers will. If you’re talking to like, a Blackrock, or a large asset manager, they know it exactly. They’ve got it down. There’s a reason why some of those guys are big. But it does seem to be across the board, and with allocators just as with fund managers, some are wiser than others, but that’s what makes this industry a little bit complex, is because you have different experience, different skill sets, and a lot of people haven’t made all those mistakes just yet.

Matt:
Could we back up to something you mentioned earlier? You mentioned the volume of e-mails they get, and a lot of the allocators won’t even talk to somebody who they don’t know personally. We run into a lot of clients who, they think that oh, we’ll take our prettied up slide deck and we’ll e-mail it off to a bunch of people that we don’t know, and our lives are going to change. Can you talk a little bit more as to why you see that as the wrong way to go about things, and what’s happening on the other end of this erroneous belief?

Ole:
Yeah, and essentially these, a lot of allocators are drinking from a fire hose when it comes to information. They just have too much of it, and also, it kind of falls flat. The bulk e-mailing thing doesn’t work, I know for a fact that doesn’t work. People just don’t rush out, and I think what people miss out on is this very intuitive nature of that actually, we are service providers. If I’m going to give somebody my money, I’ve got to trust them. It’s about a relationship. Can I trust you? And you’d be amazed how many fact sheets disappear when the performance is bad. And above all, if I have a manager that will not take my call if things are not going well, then they’re not going to do business with them.

It’s amazing just to go through this whole thing. Most businesses will map out their sales process. If you think about this, the only reason why you send an e-mail, or the only reason why you call is for them to read your e-mail, and the only reason why you want to read your e-mail is prompt them to open up the presentation of the fact sheet. The only reason why you have them read the fact sheet is so that you can get a meeting. The only reason why you want a meeting, is so you can follow up and get another one.

It’s not get an allocation, it is, what do I need to get out of these next steps, what do I need to get out of this call and all this other sort of stuff. Then the sales sort of tend to break down in so many areas, because, I can’t tell you how many times where we’re working with a fund manager, and they get a meeting, and they don’t follow up. And they say, well, if they’re interested they’ll give me a call.

Baldwin:
That one there, yeah, I think you’re right. That is the cardinal mistake that is always made, and it’s the easiest one to remedy.

Ole:
Why bother having me if you don’t follow up?

Baldwin:
I’m thinking there’s a lot of limiting beliefs in the heads of fund managers. I’ve had them too, as a fund manager. Obviously that’s why I think that’s why this one resonates so much with me, right? The limiting belief is that if I follow up too much I’m going to look desperate, which is, that one happens often. Also, the fact that you know, if you’re going to follow up you may actually blow it, because you’re going to follow up in a poor way and you actually may blow it.

But what they don’t understand, is like you said, 2500 e-mails every day, they probably have to make at least two or three meetings with people every day, you’re going to move into the background. It’s about staying top of mind. You’re doing them a service by doing that via e-mail is not going to help because there’s too many e-mails. You know, you’re doing them a service by staying top of mind because they’re only human, right?

Ole:
Yeah, no, absolutely and then it’s funny because a lot of people think sales is somebody showing up in a plaid suit and a suitcase selling vacuum cleaners or whatever, but at this level of the game, you’re not selling anything. You’re guiding people with what to do and helping manage their time.

One of the cardinal sins a lot of people suffer from is they will work so hard to get this meeting, and then they’ll go and rehash the presentation again. The allocator is there, he’s already gone through the presentation, he doesn’t want to go through it again if he’s doing his job. And also, if I have the manager in the meeting, I want to talk to the manager. I want to find out what makes him tick. I can read that presentation whenever I want to.

Baldwin:
But I think you’re bound to have read it, because you want to have that first impression. You want to see if you’re see if you’re dealing with somebody that you intuitively can already select as someone who’s material you’d be willing to read, right?

Ole:
Yeah, and you know, there’s a lot sort of … one of the biggest tricks because you kind fall into this fact sheet purgatory to where you know, oh well, we’ll put you on the distribution list and then people get the newsletters and that’s kind of it, is to structure the meetings in a way to where after this meeting we can do one of two things if you’d like to follow up. We can do x, y, or z, or we can do all three of them, and then sort of manage it that way. That way you follow up, you provide people with more information doing all that sort of stuff.

When you think about it, most of us need to be managed in some way. So the salesperson is basically managing you, handling you to make sure that you get enough information you need to have to know whether you’re going to do business or not.

Baldwin:
I’d like to ask you a question that’s always on my mind. I’m really curious of what you about it. Usually when you speak to an allocator or the designated person to listen to you as a fund manager, they’re a gate keeper. They are eventually going to have to convince other people around them. If it’s a private banker, it’s their clients. If it’s an institution, it’s the people at the investment committee. Generally there are always more stakeholders.

What in your opinion can fund managers do to really help the gate keeper do his job by making it easy for them to convince stakeholders if they’re convinced? Do you have any insights on that?

Ole:
The first thing that I would say from the very top is, there’s a reason why these gate keepers are there. I’m just going to back up for just a minute. If you think about it, if I hire an equities analyst and Baldwin, you come in with an equity fund and say hey, Ole, look at this, I’m going have to pass this straight down to my equities analyst and have him take a look at it. If it rises back up to the top, then that’s my job.

These gate keepers, you need to obviously have a tremendous amount of respect for these people, and also we need to help them do their job. If there is a report that needs to be written or whatever, oftentimes it doesn’t hurt to write those reports for them, to help them do their work.

The one thing that’s really funny, if you go outside of fund management and let’s say that you were a big consulting firm or whatever, and you’re describing the process. The work that you’ll take in order to get a proposal sent and all this other stuff, will be about a week sometimes, sometimes maybe even more. In asset management, we don’t do that. It’s like, here’s our presentation. You’ll get all the answers there. Here’s the DDQ.

You know you’re going to win the business if you’re the one who actually does a lot of the hard work for somebody, because they know that when they need you, you’ll be there, and you have your stuff and your house in order. It’s just amazing how sort of willy nilly we are in asset management about these sort of things. To put that into perspective, if you’re a 100 million dollar fund and you’re looking for, or let’s just say 500 million dollar fund, and you’re looking for a 50 million allocation, and you get 1% management fee, that contract’s worth half a million dollars of revenue for you. It’s worth your time. It’s worth your time to work hard.

Baldwin:
It’s almost worth establishing a team to devote its time entirely to that opportunity. It’s seen as a new division sometimes. (Laughs)

Ole:
One of our clients was based in Dallas, Texas. There’s a number of funds there, but typically if you ever want to allocate you have to travel down to Texas. They’re not right around the corner. They went through every single thing to figure out okay, well what is the best way, what is to happen here. So the investor would arrive into Dallas at whatever hotel. On the bed would be a number of files with a handwritten note saying, “Dear Baldwin, welcome to Dallas. We’re looking forward to seeing you at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning, but just in case you’re eager, we thought you could use these due diligence files for your review and preparation.” Or, getting an idea of what your favorite food is. If you like pizza, or steak, or whatever, making sure that we have those things on hand. Mapping out that whole bit is what services should be like.

Baldwin:
Did I get this right? This is a fund manager who refuses to travel but wants the investor to come to Dallas, is that it?

Ole:
No, no. If an allocator is going to allocate them, they’ll have to come Dallas to do the due diligence on the manager.

Baldwin:
Oh, okay.

Ole:
So they would really map it out …

Baldwin:
That’s going to happen anyway, and what they do is they make that a special experience for the allocator, something that … what they’re doing is they’re absolutely convincing him that there’s a service level provision and …

Ole:
No, just think about it. Whenever you walk into an office there’s always a bit of standard where, you know, take your coats, would you like some water or coffee and all this other stuff. There’s a reason why we have these sort of things in place, is because we want our guests who are coming to our offices to feel comfortable. You need to think about that experience. These guys would go to the extreme of actually mapping out the whole day, or the whole two days or whatever time it took.

Baldwin:
That’s fascinating, because if by chance you have an allocator who is willing to abide by your plan then you’re playing in your home field twice, right? That’s the great thing.

Ole:
Yeah, well you just want to make sure that have people that are comfortable and happy and can trust you.

Baldwin:
That’s actually very easy to implement. Yeah, that’s a great takeaway.

Ole:
But it’s funny, because it’s even good with smells. What does the office smell like when somebody comes in. Does it smell good? Does it smell stale?

Baldwin:
And they will want to walk through the office, that’s for sure, if they’re doing their job. You have to make … that was a pet peeve of mine, when we got allocator visits.

Ole:
You don’t want to have a meeting just after somebody had a big curry. No matter how much we love curry.

Baldwin:
It smells like McDonald’s takeout. You don’t want that.

Ole:
There is so much detail to this and I’ve kind of learned throughout my experience that this is a real skill. Fund distribution is not an easy game. There’s so many parts.

Baldwin:
Something I fondly remember when I was also in London and we hung out a lot, when I’d come to your office, sometimes we did the box of presentations trick, right? You’d dump all these presentations on the floor and they’re all gray and blue, they all look the same, right? That was hilarious when we spoke to people. What should a good pitch book look like? Should you have a short first version and then a long DDQ type version? What have you learned over all these years about what a good pitch book looks like?

Ole:
I really think it is personal to everyone, but I think for me it’s under 20 pages. It tells me who these people are, which is extremely important, you know, who am I dealing with? And also don’t tell me about Apple or Google or whatever, that’s not what makes you different. Tell me what makes you different.

For example, one of these things that I always insist on whenever I see something is that you’d be amazed, I went through one time a pitch book that was 60 pages long and by the end of it, I didn’t know if it was an equity or a fixed income fund. I swear to God. I looked hard. You have the cover page. Second page, what am I looking at? What are the terms, i.e., can I invest in this? Is it the right legal structure? Is it the right liquidity? Is it the right size?

All these sort of things, and don’t lie to me. If you’re a small fund, tell me you’re a small fund. Give me the AUM. Don’t hide it from me. Then also things like phone numbers, giving contact. It’s not only in presentations, but also in e-mails. Do you know how many times you have to look for a phone number everywhere because somebody just doesn’t put it in their signature?

Baldwin:
Yeah, all the time. In this industry, all the time.

Matt:
Tell us about some more of the disqualifying factors, not having a phone number, and then Baldwin mentioned that a stack of anonymous slide decks was in blue and gray. What else do you see that, pet peeves that you have?

Ole:
Pet peeves. Um, ooh, there’s so many. The, ooh, I don’t want to tell you that information sort of thing.

Baldwin:
Oh, right, yeah, yeah. That’s a big one.

Ole:
It’s like, well then I can’t invest. So that one’s quite big. Also, people who aren’t being truthful about procedures. We know for example, that everything goes … any fund that’s out there, they’re going to have a drawn down, and it’s going to be a nightmare position. Tell me about what happens with a nightmare position. Tell me what you learned when you did that trade. Is there anybody there to take you out of it if you are emotionally attached to it? That sort of stuff, where people are very ambiguous about it. That’s very frustrating. If you look at the volume of funds, there’s about 14,000 hedge funds in this world. According to the ICI handbook, there are over 100,000 retail or mutual funds out there, 100,000 of them. There’s more equity funds than there are equities.

Baldwin:
I’ve never thought about this, you’re so right.

Ole:
You might be different, but you’re not that special. Be transparent. If it really is something that’s different and unique, then you should be paid for it. That really gets me irritated. Having information that’s not very clear is frustrating. Sometimes allocators mention, or managers will have opinions about macro when they’re actually more of a sector focus fund to where they’re really bottom up, but they’ll give you a top down overview. All these sort of things kind of waste time, and I think what’s really funny when you’re looking at pitch books, I don’t know about you guys, don’t tell me if I’m just sort of short term memory, but the first three or four slides are really the most important and the value of the slides starts to decrease the more I go through the presentation. I’ll tend to look at the first couple of slides in great detail, and then I’ll be yep, yep, yep, oh wait, okay, yep. Are you guys like that at all?

Matt:
I think that by the time you hit slide number five, the viewer’s attention is dropping precipitously, no matter how good the deck is.

Ole:
Yeah, I definitely agree with that. So what that means, I guess, is that you have to get everything that’s relevant within those four or five slides.

Baldwin:
What I like to look at when I put together presentations, I think of them as a storyboard for a play or for a story, because there’s got to be a reason why you want to flip the page. There’s always got to be a little bit of a storybook thing, but that’s just me, but yeah I think you’re right.

One of the things that I always find interesting, I’d like to also know what your opinion on it is. Maybe I’m a bit of an extremist in that sense, but I believe that anything that’s on a slide you should be able to internalize in a matter of three seconds, so that means there’s a lot more visuals and less text, and so that means that you can have somebody page through 50 slides without any effort at all, right? Is that something that would work in the investment world, you think? Or is that too weird.

Ole:
Yeah, but I would actually add to that, is don’t make people work for it. A lot of people will have these slides like this graph, and it’s supposed to be self explanatory. But just because you think you’re smart, doesn’t mean that you can guess everything and want to actually take the time and the brain power to get it. So, don’t make me guess. Just tell me what I’m looking at, or what your interpretation of this is. On the title, equity markets are going to go down, okay, and this is why.

Baldwin:
And this is the evidence, yeah right.

Ole:
Don’t make anyone work too hard.

Baldwin:
You know what, this has been amazing, Ole. Thanks for that. Matt, do you have anything else for Ole? Burning questions that you’re trying to extract from the genius?

Matt:
How do you feel, shall we wrap it up?

Baldwin:
Yeah, well, Ole, thanks a lot. Every time I speak to you, there’s more there. That’s been 10 years going and more. So, thanks again for making time. Keep up the good stuff, and I hope to see you very soon, my friend.

Matt:
Thank you very much for being with us.

Ole:
You’re welcome. It’s always a pleasure.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Mistakes fund managers make – bonus

The mistake: Mismatching their product design and their target investors.

Summary:

Okay, let’s do one more. Think of it as a bonus mistake, #6 of 5: Mismatching your product design and your target investors. #6 is kind of related to the mistakes that came before it, especially to #5 (not qualifying your prospects). And, come to think of it, #2 (rushing your investor).

Say, for example, you come up with a synthetic way to reproduce a certain allocation. It’s cheaper to reproduce, but you still get the directionality.

For you, it’s exciting and intellectually stimulating. But as for your customers, maybe they haven’t even thought about it, and even if they have, it’s too complex for them to get comfortable with.

Qualifying will be especially important here. And don’t forget that the people you designed it for might not even be the right candidates. And when you do find the right candidates, don’t forget mistake #2 (rushing your investors) — you might have come up with the idea in a rush of inspiration at the airport, but your investors will probably need more time to get their heads around the idea.

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The full audio:

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

Transcript of the audio:

Matt:

How about point number six? Do you want to move on to point number six?

Baldwin:

Yeah.

Matt:

Okay, so what’s on your mind?

Baldwin:

Product design. Product design is very important, but it’s also a very complicated subject. It kind of cuts two ways. You can be either too innovative or too lagging. Let me unpack this a little bit. Let’s start with being too innovative. We can come up with investment strategies that come as a result of our expertise. It may be an awesome idea. They usually are. They’re very interesting constructs, complex strategies, especially in the hedge fund space or if you’re doing structured products, but the market is absolutely not ready for it.

For example, this has to do when you come up with a synthetic way to reproduce a certain allocation, which makes it cheaper to reproduce but you still get the – not to sound too technical – directionality of what you want to do.

Often what it is is that in your mind, as a manager, it may be the optimal construction, but then it becomes very difficult to go and position it to people. First of all, they haven’t even thought about the possibility of it.

Secondly, it’s way too complex for them to get comfortable enough to understand. It’s going to take you way too long to make them comfortable. By the time they’re comfortable, the opportunity has passed. This happens in structured products, and this happens in the realm of let’s say more complex finance engineering.

In fact, we once made that mistake. I remember we went down to southern Spain. We saw a big savings bank, and we had this idea that we cooked up in Frankfurt on how to get a good return from the markets while protecting the downside. It was very, very exotic construction at the time. Now it’s quite commonplace. The savings bank said, “That sounds awesome. All right.” We went back to the workshop, to the lab, and we made the product and said, “Guess what? It’s ready. Let’s go.” And that guy wasn’t willing to stick his neck out. That guy wouldn’t even know how to even start talking about it with his investment committee. We were too early. The thing is, six months later it turned out to be the best selling product for a year, but they never invested in it. That’s just to show an anecdote. The person we made it for never invested. How crazy is that?

Anyway, that’s on one spectrum. That’s too difficult. It’s appealing as an investment manager, from an intellectual … It’s motivating. It’s nice. On the other extreme – this is where a lot of managers fall into the temptation – is that everybody’s been buying for example let’s say Bitcoin or everybody’s been buying S&P 500. S&P 500 is up by I don’t know how much. You know how the media thing goes. “It’s never going to end.” They realize that everybody around them has been in. This is what the bubbles are made of. Everything becomes so obvious, and then the manager says, “This is what the people want.” People walk up to their bank man and say, “Hey, do you have that kind of strategy?” I think it was Rockefeller who said when a shoe-shiner asked him about the stock market is when he cashed out. I think that’s what happened. A lot of managers are very attracted to short-term flows because they can build up a portfolio very quickly and get all the fees.

The problem with that, usually, is that six months down the road it all starts unraveling. Investors lose money. They’re unhappy. They’re never coming back. Product design is important. I think before that was difficult, in the days that I was really involved in fund management. It was kind of more difficult because you’d almost have to, in a way, go door to door. Today, with all the data out there and today if you’re willing to upgrade your marketing department and equip it with a little bit more sophisticated online tools for searching what the appetite is, that’s probably the better way to construct the product. You can sort of anticipate. I guess another way to say it is, instead of going in and launching the product or creating the product, what you probably want to do is you want to start floating the idea in the form of content and then see what the interaction is. By the time that opportunity is starting to shape up, then you probably have a willing investor base who’s right on time.

I’ll give you an example of this. Recently, the emerging markets – this is two or three years ago – have sold off massively. A lot of managers were out there basically explaining what was going on in the markets. They weren’t trying to motivate people to buy the emerging markets, but they were trying to make them understand a little bit better that, “Look, this is on the way down, but it’s going to bottom out. It’s not going to go below an intrinsic value. It’s going to go below that, but not much. It’s going to bottom out. It’s going to bottom out.” They kept on, and there’s a handful of managers that really capitalized on that. Since they weren’t really aggressively promoting emerging markets but they were informing people about what was going on, guess what happened the moment they said, “We think it’s time?”

Matt:

What happened?

Baldwin:

Well, they captured a lot of the inflows because there’s been a recent emerging market rally. I’m not going to name names on the podcast. I don’t think that’s right to do, but there are a few, and a couple of big managers who actually did this one right. They captured a lot of inflows just because they were keeping people posted on what’s going on in this space, keeping them educated and preparing them to get comfortable by the time it was going to turn around.

It’s difficult to give concrete advice around this point, but, again, I think it’s when you shift your marketing towards selling more towards education. When you get someone’s trust and you become their mentor in a way, and if you’re feeling comfortable with making a recommendation at a certain point, those people who you have been educating and you say “now is the moment,” your response is probably going to be good. You’re going to have successful fund launches. It’s simplistically explained. I don’t really know much about it, but I have a few friends in the fashion industry. That’s exactly how they work. They have to think about what’s going to be in three seasons down the road, and there’s people who have really figured out how to spot that. There’s a whole industry that does that for them. They make a lot of money doing that, by the way.

Matt:

Oh yeah.

Baldwin:

It’s very important.

Matt:

There’s a lot of money in forecasting the future.

Baldwin:

Yeah. I think if you can get into that, in the investment management industry, or start thinking like that as a fund manager, there may be a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

Matt:

Yeah. Was there anything else that you wanted to dig into, or shall we finish up the recording here?

Baldwin:

There’s probably a lot more, but let’s save that for another time.

Matt:

Yeah, let’s save that for another time. End of formal recording.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Mistakes fund managers make – #5 of 5

The mistake: Not qualifying their prospects.

Summary:

At first glance this one seems like a rookie mistake, but even people who have been in the business a long time still do it sometimes: wasting time talking to the wrong people.

It’s not that the “wrong people” are bad people. But your time is valuable, and it shouldn’t be spent helping fund buyers hit their KPIs, or helping junior staffers learn how to interview fund managers.

A pro tip: Hold more of the initial meetings on Skype. The fund management business is notoriously shy when it comes to technology, but we talk to plenty of fund buyers, and they are more and more accepting of web meetings. In fact, they say web meetings are a very effective way for them to qualify or disqualify fund managers. They might be even more glad than you are that you suggested a Skype meeting first.

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The full audio:

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

Transcript of the audio:

Matt:

Give me point number five. What’s on your mind for that one?

Baldwin:

Matt, we spoke about this a little while ago. It’s about the qualifying of your prospects. It’s very important that we do that. I used to do this. I’m as guilty of it as anybody else. I used to make this map of “it seems like,” for example, “we haven’t been to Milan in a while. We have to go back to Milan.” Then what you do is you pull a list, and then you basically either email them or call them and say, “Hey, we’re going to be in Milan that day. Would you like to meet with us?” A lot of people say, “Yeah, sure. That sounds great. It’s been a while, good to catch up. Yeah, sure.” You took it as, “Yeah, sure, we have to see them because they’re interested in seeing us. They may actually eventually become clients because of their relationship.” It’s all hunky-dory. You go to Milan, and you do all these meetings. At the airport, on your way back, it’s like, “Okay, so maybe there’s half an opportunity here, after like ten meetings.”

I think one of the things that you have to understand is that this is not a very good approach, to just go and see whoever you can. The reality is that – if you’re a fund manager and the people you’re meeting with, fund buyers and/or private bankers and/or all the professionals whose job it is to meet fund managers – you are helping them achieve their KPIs. Which means that a fund selector gets measured on the amount of meetings he has with fund managers. Even though they have no intention of investing, you may just be helping them get those numbers up.

That’s one thing – big mistake. People are polite. They may pretend that they’re really interested.

The second one is where they just use you to gather information about an investment that they already had in mind.

For example, you say, “We have to invest in commodities.” You sort of know who you want to go with, but just to make sure that you get yourself well educated, you meet a few other commodity managers to basically enrich your view, to justify, or to maybe disqualify that decision that you already made. A lot of managers get used for that extra education. That’s the second reason why just the number of meetings isn’t enough.

Another one that I’ve been through more than I want to admit is where you take the meeting because let’s say you have a few junior people around and you’d really like them to learn the ropes on how to interview managers. How great it is that the manager is coming to Milan so you can throw the junior in the meeting, to give him some target practice? It happens all the time. This is the playbook. You’re flying out to Milan. “Oh, we’re going to see the fund selector.” Then last minute, he got tied up and you have a junior sitting in front of you. You’re actually sort of helping them with their education. You can build a relationship with a junior, because when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly or the snake becomes a dragon, it’s good to know the dragon. But that’s really not on the radar right now. That’s I guess another reason.

Then finally, you know what else happens? People just get bored with their job and they just like to hang out in the meeting room and get a free lunch. This is universal, especially in certain countries where business lunches are a tradition. Having a nice free lunch at a nice restaurant every day is a nice perk to have. That’s the reason why qualifying your prospects is so important.

How do you qualify your prospects? Well, I’m afraid you have to do a little bit of work. Thankfully, if they’re a fund buyer or they’re a pension fund or a foundation, they’re obliged to publish what’s in the portfolio. You really better spend some time doing some research. “Are these guys effectively allocating to this asset class?” If you see more than two managers, then the game is on because, yes, they are allocating and they’re obviously looking to diversify. They probably want to talk to you for a reason. If you’re struggling with doing the research, then we fall back to that previous advice we gave on make sure that your meetings are just trailers.

Another way, which is rare, which I really encourage also, is just do your first meeting on Skype – or on whatever web platform.

I was at the fund forum in Berlin on Monday. I’m telling you, a lot of my friends there are fund buyers that I’ve been working with for a long time. They’ve gotten over it. They like the web meeting thing. It’s perfectly okay. I mean, if they’re serious about allocating the funds, for them it’s a very effective way to also disqualify or qualify the right fund managers. It goes both ways.

Matt:

Let me back up to a case that you mentioned a couple minutes ago. You were talking about, for example, “I represent an African fund, and I’m going to Milan and I’m meeting with some-”

Baldwin:

That’s exactly my story.

Matt:

Yeah. “I’m meeting some potential investors, and they just want to learn more about investing in Africa.” How would I qualify them?

Baldwin:

That’s the thing. If you can do the research and see if they have … Usually when they go to Africa, they’ve been very active in emerging markets before. That’s already an indicator that there’s a real business case. That’s the most obvious way to look at it. Look at their portfolio. If you look at their portfolio, you can see if they are willing to think a bit out of the box. How many alternative strategies do they have? Things like that. You want to look at how exotic is the appetite of my investor? I’ve been there. What you described was my life. “Go and propose Africa to a fund allocator.” You definitely wanted to make sure that they either have a fund that has to invest in Africa, or they have an allocation to it, or they do have a habit of investing in exotic asset classes.

With this example, the real-life thing, I’m serious. I’m not kidding. We said Milan, and we said Africa. I found out later that two of those guys that I regularly met with were married to African women. I don’t know, maybe it was just general interest. No, I have to be fair. Because of that, one of them actually invested because he went to Africa quite often, and he just knew that there was something going on there. It could be. There could be something about this that has nothing to do at all with investments.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Mistakes fund managers make – #4 of 5

The mistake: Putting the wrong person up there on stage.

Summary:

At a conference, the speaking gig often goes to the CEO.

However, that’s not necessarily the best person to represent your company.

The best person to represent your company is the one who can convey your message the best. The natural stage animal.

And there’s another reason to think twice before putting the CEO up on stage:

The CEO is often too busy to make the slide deck. So the CEO is often operating at only 70% efficiency up there on stage, because he (or, increasingly, she) is busy thinking about the next few slides, rather than giving everything to the slide that’s currently on the screen. The audience can feel the disconnection and senses the confusion, even if it doesn’t know exactly where the confusion is coming from. Your company ends up looking disconnected and confused, even though it isn’t.

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The full audio:

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

Transcript of the audio:

Matt:

Let’s move on to point four. What would you like to talk about?

Baldwin:

We’ve been to many conferences, and we’ve seen a lot of these speakers from the fund management industry. It’s almost like you have to go to the opera, where you have to bring those tiny binoculars with you so you can actually see what’s on the slides. Did you ever get that feeling?

Matt:

Oh yeah, unfortunately.

Baldwin:

I have it all the time. It’s not only in fund management. It’s everywhere. There’s two big mistakes when it comes to showcasing yourself at an event. The first one is a lot of companies don’t spend enough time on figuring out “who’s our best presenter? Who is the natural stage animal, here?” You see it all the time. The flawed rationality of showcasing yourself during a presentation at an event is typically it goes in order of pay grade or rank. The CEO is the first candidate to be on stage. If the CEO can’t make it, well maybe you’ll have the managing director or whatever, and it just goes down. That’s just completely flawed. What you should do is, “Who’s our best actor here? Who is the best presenter?” Nobody cares about the person on the stage, really. What they care about is the message. That is something that is baked into this industry. Those who figure out who their best actor in the house is, should get the lead role on the stage like that. It’s not even about the glory of the speaker. It’s about getting your message out to the audience. That’s the first thing.

As a result of this flaw, what you often have is people jump on stage and they have this typical slide deck. Again, it’s like in the previous conversation that we had, they want to convey as much information as possible. It’s from that scarcity attitude. You have a guy on stage who’s reading off bullet points on a slide, and there’s way too many graphs on there. The audience is trying to figure out whether they should listen to that person or look at the slides. It gets even worse when the two elements are speaking about the same thing. You really get confused as an audience. “Where should I look right now?” Worst of all, often because of compliance department reasons and legal reasons, a lot of these slide decks have to be vetted, and therefore, they’re often made not by the speaker but by someone else. The speaker doesn’t really own the talk. People can feel this dispassionate or disconnect that the speaker has with the material.

It’s a massively missed opportunity. You’re the presentation expert here, right? I think if anything that I’ve learned from you is that you have to evoke an emotion in an audience. Also I think you just have to give them something to really think about and work with in their mind. You can do that in 10 or 15 minutes. You can choose one or two topics to ignite that thought process in the audience. I think there’s a missed opportunity there.

Again, keep it simple when you’re on stage. Convey the kind of message or maybe ask the audience, present them with a massive question that will get their minds involved with it. Next thing you know, they’re going to be thinking about you a long time after your presentation. That’s exactly what you want.

Matt:

I want to ask you a question about something that you said a few minutes ago. You were talking about the disconnect between a slide deck that might be made by someone else, maybe in the communications department or the marketing department or something like that, and then the presenter who’s actually up on stage might not have seen it before or has spent very little time with it. If I’m a company, let’s say I’m company XYZ, and I have the option of doing that or putting the person up on stage who, he’s a great speaker but he makes terrible slides. He doesn’t have a whole lot of graphic sense at all. Is a great speaker with a bad slide deck better than a great speaker trying to speak to a slide deck that he doesn’t even understand? What are your thoughts on that?

Baldwin:

I think the problem is I guess that you’re using that opportunity to speak, again to cram in as much information as you can. That’s the thing that you really have to avoid. Regardless if your policy is not only the CEO speaks when he can or we have our best actor on stage, your best actor on stage may not be as knowledgeable about the industry trends as the CEO, but the CEO may be too busy to really internalize the talk. There’s two weights that in a way balance each other out. I think often it’s about the topic you choose. Maybe it should be just one topic or two topics, something that is also compliant. For example, as long as you’re going to be speaking about precise investment opportunities or you’re going to be giving what could be understood as an investment recommendation, of course your compliance department is going to have to know what’s going to be done there and what’s going to be on the screen.

But if you talk about things that are not per se investment recommendations but are adjacent to that … For example, let’s say you’re a European equity manager. There’s hundreds of European equity managers. You can go and talk about financial investment themes, or you can maybe zoom in on, “What is Europe’s competitive advantage in the world?” Then you can maybe present them with a little bit of research. “Look! I bet you didn’t know that for example in Europe we have the biggest manufacturing of X type of product.” You could bring something about the European industry perspective, without even saying a world about investing. Guess what? The audience is going to say, “That’s really interesting and useful. These people seem to know what’s going on with European companies. Guess what? Maybe they should be selecting companies for me to invest in.”

You don’t have to spell it out. People aren’t really that stupid. I think it’s more like how can you find something that is compliant, or doesn’t need to be involved in compliance, which can equally be brought by a CEO or by a good actor, who’s not as senior as CEO. I think that maybe is the golden combination here.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Mistakes fund managers make – #3 of 5

The mistake: Trying to go all the way on the first date.

Summary:

You get the meeting, it’s in the diary, and you walk in there with your big pitch book. You’re excited, maybe a little bit nervous. Gotta land this client!

But slow down, cowboy! You wouldn’t realistically expect to go all the way on a first date, and you’re not going to go all the way here, either. Cover your main two or three points, and then get out. It’s perfectly fine to leave some questions unanswered.

Practice it in front of the mirror until you are blue in the face: “Can we come back to this? I’m terribly sorry, but I don’t want to be late for my next meeting” (say it even if you don’t have a next meeting).

Our moms said it best when they told us growing up, “Leave them wanting more.”

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The full audio:

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

Transcript of the full audio:

Matt:

Shall we move on to point number three, or do you want to dive into this a little bit more?

Baldwin:

Again, I think we covered it. I think you can get really creative on how to merge that followup with the learning curve. The good thing is it’s a lot more fun and a lot more inspiring to do than just having to chase down prospective investors to see if they’re ready to write the ticket. If you’re willing to play with it, it makes your job as a salesperson a lot more fun.

Matt: True, true. How about point number three? What’s on your mind?

Baldwin:

I think we sort of spoke about that in our previous conversation about not being aware of the client journey and how we can follow-up merging that with the learning curve. Managers want to go all the way on the first date.

You get that meeting, it’s in the diary, and you walk in there with your big pitch book. Somehow in a lot of manager’s mindset it’s like the successful meeting is where you got to tell them the full story, where no stone was left unturned.

I think that comes from a time where we didn’t all have all the communication tools that we have today, and you definitely got less of an opportunity to communicate with these people. The remnant of that is that we still sometimes fall into that mindset of having to go all the way on that first date.

I think a good first meeting should be very much like a trailer, or the first episode of a series. A good first meeting, actually it’s fine to leave certain questions unanswered. It, again, creates that sort of a cliffhanger or Inception effect, where that prospective investor will want to know a bit more.

I’m not speaking about trying to manipulate them or anything like that. It’s just being aware that they are just human beings who have a lot on their plate. You probably want to make things a little bit more digestible for them.

A good way to do that is by first, before you actually engage with a new prospect, have a script that you can follow. If they keep on asking you questions, that’s obviously great.

It’s also I think absolutely fine to say, “Can we cover this next time? I’m afraid I have to get to another meeting.” That works like gold. If you’re doing it right, it actually should be true. If you’re a well-organized salesperson or a fund manager, it means that you have slots in your week where you do meetings. It’s fine to be able with a straight face to say, “Can we come back on this? I’m terribly sorry, but I really shouldn’t be late for my next meeting.” That’s a very elegant way to do this.

Matt:

When you say something like that, basically “we’ve got to wrap up here because I have to move onto my next meeting.” When you do something like that, does it create some sort of emotional effect in the audience’s mind?

Baldwin:

It depends. Let’s say you’ve come in to do the whole story, and then you realize you’ve been ranting too much and there’s not enough time and you abruptly have to end that. That’s going to be irritating for both sides because that’s just very clumsy. That’s why it’s so important to have a script. In the first meeting, what are the two or three most important things that this person should really know about it? What distinguishes us? Just cover that.

Then if that was your agenda and you’ve been able to deliver that, then you can transition out of that meeting by saying, “I hope this makes sense. We’d love to tell you more, but the truth is that we really have to get to another meeting on time. I hope we can continue this conversation.” That’s a very elegant way to segue out of it, right?

Matt:

Yeah. If you segue out of it that way, what are some good candidates for things to leave them hanging on, questions to leave unanswered? What are some good candidates for that?

Baldwin:

It depends on a case by case. If you have a special investment process that distinguishes you, I think one of the nice things that you can do is just give them a heads up of why it’s so special and then maybe leave that hanging as to exactly why, to get into more detail. You have take a close look at what your USP really is and then play it on that.

In the last few years, I’ve found most of my inspiration for anything I do marketing-wise in the entertainment industry, in the movie industry, because they’re so good at keeping our attention. I think you have to think of it as a trailer. The trailer gives you enough information for you to make up your mind whether this is going to be a movie that you want to see or not. It has all the ingredients more or less on the table. You just don’t know exactly what they taste like yet, but they look appealing. The same is true for editors as well, when they’re going to publish a new book. They make sure that there’s enough teaser content out there to make you really want to go and pick it up.

I think you have to think about it like that. Give them a sort of hint of there’s a lot more where this came from. Another thing about wanting to go all the way on the first date is also the flawed … We’re going to speak about that in another conversation more in depth, but it’s where you have a bit of a scarcity mentality.

You think, “Anybody I meet with, I should try to convert into a client.” Whereas that first meeting should also be a qualifying exercise, where both sides – both you and the investor – should figure out “is there a match here?” If this were Tinder, whether you swipe left or right I guess it would be. That’s what that first meeting should be.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Mistakes fund managers make – #2 of 5

The mistake: Rushing their investor.

Summary:

You went through a journey to learn what you know. Way back when, it was uncharted territory for you.

Your investor is venturing into uncharted territory now, too.

So give him some time. The things you think are obvious, your client doesn’t see them as obvious yet. If you explained them well, he will see them as obvious later. But he’s not there yet.

So give him some time. Merge your followup with his learning curve, which probably looks a lot like yours did, way back when. Don’t just pounce on him with “Hey, have you thought about this yet? Are you ready? Huh, are you ready?”

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The full audio:

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

Transcript of the full audio:

Matt:

Do you want to move on to the second point, or do you want to dive deeper into this one?

Baldwin:

Let’s go on. We can beat that horse to death, but it’s dead, right?

Matt:

Yeah. Let’s move on to point number two, then. What’s on your mind?

Baldwin:

Again, what I’m saying here, Matt, is always about mistakes that I made myself for so many years. When I sort of got a little bit more enlightened about how we can do this alternatively, it just became very clear to me. One of the big mistakes that I also see being made and I made myself is that we’re not aware enough of the client journey that our final investors are going through. For example, an investor may never have invested in what you do. There’s a bit of discomfort from onset. It’s exotic, it’s unknown, and so they’re venturing out into uncharted territory. What I see is that what happens is you do this pitch for the first time, and the gatekeeper or the investor says, “This is really interesting. Thank you.” A lot of fund managers are like, “Okay, he’s ready to buy. Now we just have to follow up.” What they do is then they just harass them and say, “So have you thought about this? Are you ready? Have you thought about this? Are you ready?”

You do have to followup in this industry. If you don’t follow up, you’re not going to get the business because everybody gets distracted, and everybody has a lot of work to do. You are rendering a service by following up, but you can make this followup much more useful by merging your followup with your investor’s learning curve. That means that you probably want to make sure that you write out some sort of a script. Then you say, “Okay, let’s follow up and let’s tell them a little bit more about this. Let’s follow up again after a few weeks and tell them a little bit more.” I think what you’re doing then is you’re sort of helping them get comfortable with your investment proposition and also making them more comfortable with you as a manager. They also have to get to know you. They want to have a feeling how your team thinks, what matters to you, all those kind of human things.
Instead of just harassing people until they give you a yes or a no, there’s a massive opportunity to structure a followup as a learning curve. You can do this the old fashioned way, which is time-consuming and expensive – basically having a script for every time you go and meet them again, you have something new to say to educate them.

Or you can actually use technology for this. Like what you and I do, we have this email that is automated and with a fixed interval you give them a little nugget more. That’s also a good way to stay on top of mind.

Matt:

There’s an alternative train of thought that I want to run by you and see what you think about it.

Baldwin:

Sure.

Matt:

Sometimes people say during the followup process, instead of dripping out another nugget of wisdom or helping them along the journey, that instead your correspondence or your emails should get shorter and shorter until eventually it’s just a subject line that says “Status” and you don’t even say anything in the body of the email. What do you think about that approach?

Baldwin:

If you’re a good copy writer and you can actually do that, it’s amazing. It sounds interesting. I’d like to explore it, how it’s done. What I basically think is that, in the investment industry, you’re never really going to force someone to buy anything or to invest in something. What you can do is, you can just make them more comfortable to make the decision. There’s nothing that makes people more comfortable than the peace of mind of knowing what they’re getting into. It’s all about offering education. Frankly, the way I approach this is I think you have to balance out you obviously have to transfer knowledge but still make it consumable. If you’re writing long essays, nobody is really going to have time to read them. You can do this in short nuggets. You don’t always have to give them all the information. I think it’s all about triggering thoughts in their minds. It’s like the Inception effect. When they can fill in the blanks, they’re going to become more of an owner of your idea. Their own mind is working on completing your sentences, in a way. I think that’s very powerful.

The best thing about modern marketing is that if you have an email list, then you can monitor who’s paying attention. If you’re five or six emails down the sequence and you see that, “Look, Mr. A and Mr. B and Mrs. C have been reading 60% of my emails. Hey, there must be a reason for that.” It also allows you to disqualify certain prospects. You may want to say, “Okay, look, I’ve been sending you through emails. Is that maybe not a good way to followup on you?” If they don’t really know who you are when you followup with them, then you definitely know they’re not qualified as prospects. I think it’s a little bit about helping them gather enough courage to want to try something new.

Matt:

Before we move on to point number three, let’s back up a few minutes. You mentioned, after your first meeting, that’s a bad time to start peppering them with, “Hey, what do you think? What do you think? You gonna buy? You gonna buy?” Tell us, in those first few days after the initial meeting, what might be going through the minds of the target customers?

Baldwin:

What might be going through their minds? If we stay in the institutional space, where you’re dealing with a fund buyer or an institutional investment allocator, what you do know is that they’ve probably taken three or four more meetings on that day, and the day after, and the day after, and the day after. They’re absorbing a lot of information from a lot of managers all the time. It’s not like you’re unique because you had a meeting with them.

You sort of fade away in the noise of information.

Bearing that in mind, in the beginning you have a few freebie opportunities to followup. The first thing is: “thank you for the meeting.” When you do that meeting, promise to share something with them so you have another reason to followup with them. “By the way, as we promised, we promised to share this with you.” You can do that. That’s maybe just another follow-up. Then, as soon as possible – provided that your content isn’t too time-wasting, TLDR (too long, didn’t read) – just make sure that you can prove from onset that you’re willing to help them understand this better.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Mistakes fund managers make – #1 of 5

The mistake: Not equipping your investor to argue your case to the other investors.

Summary:

You’re an expert, and the person you’re speaking to is probably also an expert. So it’s tempting to get lazy and stay in your expert comfort zone.

But remember, you are not just speaking to that person. You are also speaking to the other people that person will need to speak to in order to get your investment approved.

And many of those other people will probably not be financial experts. In fact, most of them probably won’t be. They might be on the board of trustees because they are experts in something else, like corporate governance, or maybe because they got rich owning a factory, or selling a consumer product of some sort.

So in order to get the approval you need, you need to not only speak to the person in front of you, you need to equip that person to speak to the other people on the board.

[notification type=”normal”]Get the whole series, 5 Mistakes Fund Managers Make: just sign up with your email address here.[/notification]

The full audio:

About Baldwin Berges

Baldwin has been active in the investment industry for more than 20 years. His specialty is all about positioning investment opportunities so they are easy to understand and developing strategies and systems to convert more opportunities into business during long sales cycles.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life managing inventory levels for wholesale import companies and forecasting labor costs for national retail chains. Since 2006, he has been teaching professionals how to present themselves and their companies better. His clients work for companies like Citibank, Allianz, 3M, P&G, and Deloitte.

Transcript of the full audio:

Matt:

Let’s touch on the first big mistake that you see fund managers making.

Baldwin:

I think one of the things that I see a lot – and I’m guilty myself of having done – is where, in the asset raising process, you forget about the end client and you forget about the stakeholder. Let me explain what I mean by this.

It has to do with that thing you and I talk about all the time, which is “the curse of knowledge,” which means that we’re very close to our knowledge. We’re experts. On the scale from 1 to 10, we’re at 10. Typically as fund managers, we speak with qualified professionals, such as private bankers and/or fund selectors. These people are very well schooled in everything that has to do with funds and investments. Fine. They probably do know what we’re talking about, even though we throw in a lot of complex jargon. They probably get it, but I think what a lot of managers are forgetting about is that what we’re doing by speaking to these people, we are in a way delegating them to carry the story onto the end client.

In the institutional realm, that end client may be people who are on a board of trustees. It doesn’t mean that they’re financially literate. Most of the time, if it’s a pension fund, half of the board are not investment people. They are people who are tasked with overseeing good governance in the pension fund, from a non-investment perspective, or they could be honorable members to give the board more cachet. It doesn’t mean that they’re financial experts in the private wealth realm. These are just affluent people who have been able to make some money. It doesn’t mean that they know everything about investing. Maybe they have a few factories that brought them a fortune, or maybe they sell whatever product it may be. The fact is that they have amassed a fortune and they need someone to take care of it. It doesn’t mean that they have all the knowledge.

I think what we’re doing is we’re missing an opportunity by keeping our pitch at a very high level. What they should be doing is, they should really be able to explain it, despite the fact they’re speaking to a professional, in terms that are plain and simple. This person that they’re speaking to, that gatekeeper, is going to have to gather the courage to be able to represent your story to that end user. The thing is, you’re not the only one they’re talking to. Since most managers try to impress the gatekeeper by using complex message and proving that they’re a true professional, they’re all going to sound the same, until that one manager comes up and gives the gatekeeper and makes his job very easy, to then convey that message to the end user.

Imagine: the gatekeeper now has to go to his investment committee, or he has to go and meet with his end client. He wants to make them a proposition. They’ve met you because they’re interested in allocating to your strategy in the first place, or a type of strategy like that, but now you’re going to make his job very easy. Guess who’s going to be top of the pile on the recommendation list? It’s going to be the manager who made it very simple for him or her to explain why they should be allocating to this strategy. It’s really avoiding the risk of your message getting lost in translation, by keeping it really simple. It’s gold, but it’s so difficult to do, Matt. It makes us feel stupid to speak like that. For us, keeping things simple makes it a little bit dumb. We’re worried that we’re going to be laughed at by that other professional sitting in front of us, where in fact we’re probably doing them a big favor.

Matt:

Let me see if I’m understanding you correctly. If I’m person A and I’m speaking to person B, you’re saying that I not only need to communicate clearly to person B, I need to equip person B to go out to persons C, D, and E and sell my case. Is that what you’re saying?

Baldwin:

That’s absolutely right. Actually, you said it better than I did. That’s absolutely what it is. It’s just making your message very transferrable, easily transferrable. That intermediary or gatekeeper, at the end he does or she does have to stick a neck out for you by recommending you. Make that easy.

Matt:

If I’m person A then, not only do I need to know my customers – person B – I also need to know how my customers’ customers think. Is that correct? That would help me a lot?

Baldwin:

Well, that helps, but it’s not always possible. It’s sort of like when you walk into a mixer or a cocktail party. There’s probably a version of what you do that you can use there, to make sense to somebody who’s not from your industry. In fact, your presentation should sound very much like that. The way to execute it is not only in how you tell the story, but at least have your website or your marketing materials simplify that message so it’s very easy for them. In today’s world, how this really happens practically is one day, for example, when you’ve made it quite simple to understand what you do, chances are that that intermediary or that gatekeeper is going to send someone a link, “check this out.” It really matters what’s on the other side of that link. At least make sure that your marketing collateral explains it in very simple language.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Tsufit on speaking at conferences

Tsufit (LinkedIn profile) started out as a lawyer, singer, and actress, but for over 15 years now she has been coaching others to step into the spotlight. In fact, she wrote a book titled exactly that: “Step Into The Spotlight!”

As you’ll hear, one of the things she sees in public speaking is that it helps you crystallize your message. I love one of her quotes: “If you can’t say [something] in 30 seconds, you won’t be able to say it in 30 minutes.”

Also Tsufit points out the importance of knowing why you’re there speaking. As she says, it sounds obvious, but in reality it’s not nearly as obvious as one might think, and understanding why you’re really there is way more important than many people realize.

One of the main themes flowing through the interview is the (often unrealized) opportunity to own the room. Not just in the way we might think at first (feeling in control of your physical surroundings), but starting much earlier than your actual speech, when you might negotiate with the organizer to get a better role for yourself.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Baldwin Berges on speaking at conferences

Baldwin Berges (LinkedIn profile) spent years in the investment world, helped companies raise money, and is now helping them clarify their messages, making complex ideas simple to understand. In this interview he talks a bit about speaking at conferences, and gives some tips to other speakers.

As you’ll hear, he’s a big supporter of professional conduct, remembering that your job is to make sure you make the conference organizer, and, more importantly, the sponsors, look good. They want to ensure the audience really enjoys its time there, and you need to make sure you support them in that.

Also, he shows the true mark of a professional, paying attention to details like making sure his clicker (the remote that advances the slides) is working. I imagine that Baldwin has very, very few technical problems (“sorry people, please bear with us while we try to figure out how to get this video to work”).

One of the main messages flowing through the interview is the need to realize your speech is not about you. Whether he is talking about thinking of needs of the conference organizer, or the needs of the audience, he is always driving home the point that your first thoughts should be of the needs of the other people in the room.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Erik Vos on speaking at conferences

Erik Vos (LinkedIn profile) has worked and presented in 91 countries and counting. In this interview he talks a bit about speaking at conferences, and gives some tips to other speakers.

As you’ll hear, he’s a big supporter of preparing a lot (a man after our own hearts!), and of the value of a conference speech being in the increased confidence that it gives to the speaker, and how business development follows that, not the other way around.

He also discusses the importance of a good introduction, an important detail many speakers (and their introducers) don’t give the focus it deserves.

One of the main threads flowing through the second half of Erik’s interview was the importance of understanding your audience. In the interview, Erik gives some great tips about how to do that when you are speaking to people you don’t know personally.

By the way, in our pre-interview chat, we discussed, in depth, tailoring your words to your audience. It’s an art in and of itself, and it can take years of experience to know how to do it like a professional. So enjoy the tips Erik gives in this interview, but know that behind the words you hear from Erik here, is an impressively deep understanding of the nuances behind the tips.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Zeynep Stefan on moderating a panel

Zeynep Stefan (LinkedIn profile) has been in the insurance and risk management business for over 10 years. In this interview she talks a bit about moderating a panel, and gives some tips to other moderators.

As you’ll hear, she’s a big advocate of moderators preparing before the panel, and of meeting with your panelists before the event.

She also discusses the importance of effective listening, and having the ability to interact harmoniously with others.

At the end, Zeynep refers to a couple consulting sessions she had with us a few years ago, and is still benefitting from. Thanks for the kind words Zeynep!

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Unlock the skills you already have

The most effective presentations aren’t presentations at all. They are conversations, and you probably already have all the skills you need, you’ve been using them since the day you were born.

Let’s say the big boss is coming to your regional office and he’s going to have a full day of all the department heads presenting their annual plans to him.

Your end goal is that you want to stand out, so the big boss remembers you in particular.

The easiest way to stand out is to do what other people are not doing.

Start out by thinking about what are the other department heads doing? What they’re usually doing, if their presentation is to be thirty minutes, is start out with about an hour of content, and then gradually cut things out until they get down closer and closer to forty minutes.

Once they get to 40 minutes, they often say we can’t cut anymore, so they take that forty minutes and they try to cram it into thirty minutes.

Now remember, for a second, who these people are. They, like you, are the world’s experts on their subjects. They spend all day, every day, working deep in their subjects. The big boss is not deep in their subjects — he or she has a million other things to worry about.

So they are the world’s experts, but they end up speaking too fast and doing everything they’re not good at, because they’re trying to use unfamiliar “presentation skills” to cram 30 minutes of content into 40 minutes. Their presentation ends up being terrible, and they go home knowing the big boss doesn’t realize how brilliant they are.

You, however, go the other way. You, like the presenters before and after you, know your subject better than anybody in the world, so distill it into a couple sentences. We’ve even seen one of our clients take an entire year’s strategic plan and distill it into six words.

The result is that the others will get up there and start presenting to the big boss, and their messages will get lost, and they’ll disappear into the crowd, and they’ll be trying to do a million other “presentation things,” but they won’t be doing what they’re really good at, which is talking about the subject they’ve spent years working on.

You, however, get to get up there and confidently talk about the things you’re really good at, using the skills you’ve already been practicing every day for your whole life.

Instead of trying to smoothly cram 40 minutes of content into 30 minutes (which never works, by the way), and using a bunch of unfamiliar “presentation skills” to do it, you walk into that room knowing how to distill your entire message into a few words, and the rest of the time you get to use the same communication skills you’ve already been working on your whole life.

Yes, it’s kind of counter-intuitive, but the best way to present is the way that doesn’t use “presentation skills” at all, and instead unlocks the skills you already have: the communication skills you’ve already been practicing your whole life, and the subject matter expertise you bury yourself in every day at work.

Now, distilling your message into a few words does not mean you get to be lazy, or that you’re going to oversimplify things. You’re not going to walk into that presentation room, magically deliver your entire message in 15 seconds, and then confidently strut out of the room while everyone says, “Oh my god, that was the most amazing presentation I ever saw!”

In fact, learning how to express yourself in just a few words is at least as hard as trying to remember 30 minutes of presentation, and it often results in conversations that last the full 30 minutes.

Because the big boss is going to want to ask followup questions. He’s definitely going to want to drill down into more detail. So those 30 minutes of slides that you made, all that data, all those charts, you’re probably going to need those. You’re not going to be able to magically throw them all away.

This approach is going to do two things:

1. It’s going to remind you that you are the world’s expert on this subject, and you will find yourself finding the confidence that comes from knowing it.
2. More importantly, it allows you to spend most of those 30 minutes having a genuine two-way conversation with the big boss.

Remember that the point of this presentation is to stand out. And what is the key to standing out? Doing things that others are not doing.

What are others doing? Puking out a bunch of data, and then leaving the room, and then someone else comes in and does the exact same thing, and then they leave the room, and then someone else comes in and they do the exact same thing.

And then you come in, and you’ve focused your message so much that you can cover it in just a few minutes, and then you get to spend the rest of the time having a natural two-way conversation with the big boss.

And your competitors, the other department heads, they’re not going to be able to do this, because they are going to be rushing through, and every time the big boss asks them a question, it’s going to slow them down and interrupt their train of thought, and they are going to be rushing through their answers to the big boss, because they are thinking, every moment I spend talking about this is a moment I don’t get to spend talking about one of the other initiatives in my 30-minute presentation.

They will not be present while they are responding to questions from the most important person in the room. You, however, will be.

We guarantee, the big boss is going to have questions for you.

We’ve never seen it not happen.

We guarantee that he is going to drill down deep. We guarantee that you are going to walk out of that room feeling drained, like you have drawn on every mental resource available to you.

The difference is, now answering the big boss’s questions is a conversation, not a presentation, and you’ve been practicing your conversation skills since the day you were born.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Use Presenter View to improve your bond with the audience

During some situations, maintaining eye contact with the audience may be one of the biggest factors defining the whole presentations’ success or failure. Your audience will be more drawn into your topic, as long as you successfully keep an eye contact with them and establish a bond. Turning your back to them to check out your slides, even for a short moment, may disrupt that bond. If you’re aiming to convince and move your audience to adopt your ideas, it is suggested you face them and maintain the established bond with your eye contact.

But if you’re using a presentation software during your speech, how can you both keep facing the audience AND know what’s going on behind you in your slides? What if you want to keep some reminder notes around, but don’t want to hold pieces of paper in your hands? The presenter view comes very handy in such situations, and may still be one of the most powerful yet underused tools available to us.

presenter_viewThis tool, which is available in both PowerPoint and Keynote, allows to display different views on your computer screen and your projection screen. While only your current slide is shown on the projection screen, your computer will display a wide range of tools like;

  • your current slide on display,
  • the very next slide and following slides,
  • speaking notes to yourself,
  • speaking time,
  • and current local time.

scene-1

In your upcoming presentations, follow these simple steps to harness the power of the presenter view:

  1. Prepare speaker notes as reminders and write them into the notes section of individual slides.
    scene-5
  2. To simplify existing slides that contain a lot of text, you can move some of that text to the notes section. To do this, simply cut and paste the text. This will give you more space on the slide to enlarge the important points such as keywords, charts, pictures, etc.
  3. When presenting, position your own screen so that only you will be able to see it. After you start the slideshow, your audience will see only your current slide.

Tip: In PowerPoint, an easy way of adding speaker notes to an existing presentation is to use the Notes Page feature under View menu. When selected, the software will display your slides and a larger text box to insert your notes.

About Alper Rozanes

Alper graduated from Baruch College in New York with a degree in management information systems. He loves to cook (his specialty is oven-baked honey mustard salmon). Among his other hobbies are tennis, bowling, and jumping from known flying objects at 10.000 feet.

Aydın Bırık on a startup’s investor presentation

Alper and Matt interviewed Aydın Bırık, who in his job sees many, many startups pitch their companies to potential investors. Here he talks about what he does (and does not) like to see in the presentations, and what suggestions he would give to the entrepreneurs who give them…

The original interview contained some information Aydın asked us to keep private, so here is the sanitized version for public consumption:

Matt:
Okay. We’re recording now. Okay. You’re Aydın Bırık, and you listen to a lot of investor pitches. Think of a recent investor pitch that you listened to and tell us what were some of things that you liked about it and some of the things that you didn’t like about it.

Aydın:
Okay. Very good. Well, thank you folks. Public speaking is very important and there are a lot of cases where it really has an impact. Investor pitching is on my top priority list because the result could be an investment or not, so it is extremely important. We are not talking about a corporate presentation. It is sometimes, for a lot of entrepreneurs, it is a life changing experience; and unfortunately, all my career I could say I have seen almost a thousand start up pitches, especially in my expertise, for Turkish entrepreneurs, we still have a lot of space to improve.

Firstly, mostly engineers, are trying to do the pitches because they’re the ones who do the product and they think having the product is enough for an investor to be invested. Unfortunately, they don’t know once you cannot present the product, you will not get your message. People are not looking for, especially in the investors, people initially doesn’t look for the product or its company, people look for the entrepreneur itself. The entrepreneur itself makes the difference for an investor to invest in the company or not.

Matt:
You mean like the personality, the character…

Aydın:
Exactly. The personality, the character. To present that, having good presentation skills is very important. The preparation is extremely important. Most of them doesn’t come investor pitches without preparation. Yes, they have prepared a presentation, but they didn’t do rehearsals. I can easily see this.

Matt:
How do you see that when they’re not rehearsed? How do you know that they’re not rehearsed?

Aydın:
Well, the story is still very important. For startups, the idea is finding a solution to a problem, so without the story, people doesn’t conceive the problem or the solution. If they don’t come to presentations without thinking about the story or developing a story, they start from some point and they go to another point and then they come to other point, as well. On that thing, we understood he didn’t prepare enough.
I’m not going even mentioning about their typos or things they passed very fastly or things they spent too much time, so that are the things they didn’t get enough preparation. I’m not going to mentioning about their voice variety, how to use the stage, how to use two people because mostly teams made of a couple of people, they’re not only by themselves, even they have thousands ways to do a good presentation using their coworkers. They don’t do that. Sometimes only one person speaks. Sometimes one person speaks and the other person continues. For a listener, we lost track what’s going on over there.

For a good investor pitching, the first thing we look at is the people, the people itself, how passionate they are. How they have been working on this and what they have created. Were they aware of what they have created? Do they have a story behind it? Before looking at the product or the business model, we evaluate the people.

Matt:
What do you like to see in the people? When you say passion, what do you mean? Passion for the product? Passion for business as a process? What do you mean by passion? Passion for what?

Aydın:
Well, for the passion, how I conceive they have a passion or not is their control over their presentation, their preparation, including their voice tone, things they have touched, and things they haven’t touched because there is a standard for an investor pitching. It’s S-C-Q-A. You start with the situation, the problem, Then, you continue with the complexity, why that situation is complex. Then, you ask for a question, and then, you give the answer. S-C-Q-A is a standard kind of thing, but not so many people use this, or not so many people continue this flow. They didn’t do enough research. That gives me an idea of they haven’t read what’s going on on papers, and that gives me an idea they are not passionate enough, their product or their business. They just come there to present their idea and thinking they did the best thing, but they have to do their research.

Matt:
You mention S-C-Q-A. Remind me again. What does that stands for? S … Situation?

Aydın:
Situation.

Matt:
C.

Aydın:
Complexity. Q. Question and answer.

Matt:
That’s the standard sequence of an investor presentation.

Aydın:
There are also other slides they have to add, like the team, the competition, which milestones they have done so far. There are also some slides that must be on the page, but the flow should be on this, should be like this.

Matt:
But you don’t see a lot of people following this.

Aydın:
I don’t see it. Yeah. Yeah. Again, most important thing is the story. We are not talking about a yearly, annual financial revenue presentation over there. We are talking about a life changing product. They have to present us a life changing product at the investor pitching. You have to…

Matt:
Should the story have to do with how the product would change somebody’s life?

Aydın:
Could be that. Could be that. Or how he ended up coming up with an idea. A presentation like, “My mother and I, we were in Istanbul and for long of my life we weren’t able to get organic food because of this happened, this happened.” Even putting something from your own could be very valuable; but because of mostly engineers do this, they don’t spend time developing their story before the presentation.

Matt:
Okay. Alper, I saw you writing. Do you have some questions?

Alper:
Yeah, yeah, I have some questions. You said you sat through almost one thousand or maybe more investor pitches. Remember the successful ones. What happened at the end of it, when the presentation ended and you thought to yourself, “Okay. This was a good, successful presentation.” What happened afterwards?

Aydın:
The timing is extremely important, especially in investor pitchings. It has to be very short because, for example, for a day, for demo day, maximum fifteen sometimes thirty people are on the stage, and they have limited time, so they have to present whatever they have in that very, very limited, sometimes it’s even two and half minutes. We call it elevator pitches. In two and half minutes they have to present what they’re been working for their whole life, so that gives an idea they have to be very well prepared, including their stories.
What is a good present, and at the end what happens? For investors, we need to learn some things that we have to learn. One is about the team. Who is the team? What is the problem? What is the solution? How are you going to solve it? What others tell about this? and how much money you want?

If you’re able to tell them in a very flawless way, you tell who you are. You tell what was your story. How did you come up this? And then you tell, how you’re going to solve this, and what you want with who. Then at the end, very basically I described to you, but we got what we want and we say, “All right, we got what we want.” At the end, a lot of people say they understood if we understand if it is a good startup pitch or not. How I evaluate if it is a good presentation or not is, that if questions comes about the past and the recent, such as “How are going to this”, “have you talked with those”, then it is a bad presentation. If questions comes about the future, such as “what would you do more funding” “would you be able to do more of this” then it is a good presentation. Also, if too few questions are comes then it’s a bad presentation, because that means listeners didn’t get it. If there are a lot of questions coming after your presentation, that means you got some kind of attention. You can not tell everything in two and a half minutes. It is just impossible. The idea behind investor pitching is just to take attention and ask for a longer amount of time for details. On your presentation you have to impress people. You have to touch some specific points, but in a very connected way, with a story. You have to touch some specific points. You need to tell how much money you want at the end, because it’s investor pitching; I can tell almost fifty or seventy percent, they usually forget, or they didn’t do their research enough. They just present their product and we have to ask them, “All right, how much money you want?”

Matt:
How often does it happen, an entrepreneur gives a really shitty presentation and you say, “Yeah, the presentation was shitty, but the product was great, we should make an investment anyway.” How often does that happen?

Aydın:
Good question. Well, that happens. That happens too much, especially here in Turkey. That happens a lot. Turkish people doesn’t have good presentation skills because of many many different reasons, especially the presentations I listen are technical presentations. It is tech jobs and they involve people who have technical skills, mostly founders are technical people. Because of them, mostly, I would say, I cannot give a percent, but mostly it is bad presentations, and very rare good presentations.

Alper:
I just want to clarify, when you ask the question, did you say, how much of the bad presentations end up getting investments?

Matt:
Basically, does a presentation need to be good? Can a presentation suck and you still get an investment?

Alper:
And how much of it happens?

Aydın:
Presentations could be bad, and the products could be good. There are different types of investors. Some people might not be looking at the presentation, just the product, but that is very, very small percentage. They are just investors and they want to invest in something, so their barrier could be low; but with a bad presentation entrepreneurs are missing a huge potential, huge opportunity. That doesn’t happen too much. I know very good products because of bad presentations just couldn’t get understood.

Alper:
What would you suggest they do before the presentation?

Aydın:
For a good “presentation”, a perfect “preparation” is a must. Do rehearsals all the time. Some year ago for an international pitching contest, mentors forced entrepreneurs to memorize every word while they were helping them to get ready to pitch in front of American investors, can you believe they made entrepreneurs memorize every word they present on the stage, including some random sounded jokes.

I believe this how a good presentation happens, though. Jokes, questions to ask, some stoppings, good entrance, hook sentence, a good local voice, eye contact, good usage of stage without looking at your presentation. All those tips that we all know are definitely in my experience effective to have an ear on the presentation. Because think about this, we are not listening only one presentation on that day. We are listening almost thirty presentations for a day, and at the end we have to make a decision. Since there is also a little time to evaluate them, we evaluate them afterwards, which is almost two hours or three hours later. What do we remember? We remember who had “his show” on the stage.

Matt:
Who had the what?

Aydın:
The show. Show. Show on the stage.

Alper:
Who made the best impression.

Aydın:
Yeah, yeah. The best impression.

Matt:
Think of a recent day where you had to sit through these thirty presentations. What was one of the memorable shows? What did the guy or girl do that was memorable? What was memorable?

Aydın:
Well, all right. There are some things I can remember. There are some things I cannot remember, but I know there were some very good presentations, good command of English. In some cases they come to the stage, and they have their people on the audience, and once that team was coming we saw some shoutings and cheerings. A lot people were maybe too tired and looking at their phones, but once we saw all this noise, we just thought, “What’s going on?” And we thought, that there is going to be something over there. Then the guy was very self confident, and he was going to pitch hardware device.

Their presentation was good. The entrepreneur came and he started, since he was going to pitch something with a device and storing files, he started taking a selfie of all the audience and I and us. So, he initially do the demonstration, and he started with a very good problem. We all had these pictures, how I’m going to do this, stuff like that. So he did demo without using too much of his time, he did a good start. He was able to present whatever we like to hear. For investor pitches, we don’t have to hear everything. We don’t have to hear everything. This is the key. Just creating curiosity is important.

Matt:
So, he walks up there on stage and his employees are in the audience and they’re whooping it up so there’s some excitement, and then he gets up there and he takes a selfie of himself, and this is a photo storage device, so he’s working his product into the presentation. So, he’s not just standing up there saying, “Hi, my name is Ercan. We make a product that does photo storage.” He’s actually working the product into the presentation, and you like that.

Aydın:
Exactly. Exactly.

Alper:
What percentage, would you say, slides were used in these one thousand presentations? Like, how much of them use a presentation, like a PowerPoint behind them?

Aydın:
Well, they use them every time. They have to use every time because they have to show something and it’s not only like a free-form speech. If this for the investor presentations, they have to present something, so every time they have to use some sort of…

Alper:
And how would grade their usage of slides, figures and design

Aydın:
Oh man. Well, sometimes they’re very bad.

Alper:
Like confusing? [Crosstalk]

Aydın:
Definitely sometimes confusing. Sometimes small fonts. Mostly presenting about the financials, for example, it is small fonts. We don’t have to see your one-year thing. You can just put it on your backup slide, just present us some …

Alper:
The key elements.

Aydın:
Yeah. Small fonts, and, of course, well, for good presentations, for example, if it is a product announcement, you can use just pictures; but for startup presentation just using pictures without writings sometimes isn’t good because we sometimes we have to see something written. You’re not announcing a product, so there has to be some writings, some information as well. Who you are, what you have done, however you are creative creating your presentation, then of course it takes our attention. For example, on team slides some people put pictures and write under, “I have worked there.” Their titles with the companies, but some people just put their picture but they just add the logos of the companies they have worked or the universities. That is a creative way to say the same thing, but they have to have a presentation, and they have to have some information.

Alper:
Okay, but in most cases, unfortunately, the presentation becomes an obstacle between the presenter and you if done badly.

Aydın:
Exactly, including if they are not prepared enough and looking at the presentation all the time, that becomes definitely an obstacle. They have to go back and forward, that kind of thing. The flow of course because the presentation has to follow the story that you’re telling. The story is the key thing. “How did you end up being there?” That is the most important thing. You are presenting yourself. You are not presenting a product. You are presenting yourself, so if you prepare your slides aligned with your story, then it makes easier for us to catch up. It’s like watching a movie. You don’t have to ask anything. Some slides are going and he’s telling something regarded with that. This was thing. You know how, “I was like this, did this, and then, all of sudden, I figured out this. We had been working on this. This is my team. Blah, blah, blah blah.” Then, it gives a good impression.

Alper:
You would say the presentation, the pitch, the investor pitch is maybe the most important five minutes that person can have on their lifetime.

Aydın:
In their entrepreneurial experience. Exactly.

Alper:
Can we quote you on this?

Aydın:
Yes. Exactly. Exactly Please.

Alper:
The most five crucial minutes…

Aydın:
For an entrepreneur. I will try repeat the same thing. The most important time of their life would be their investor pitching presentation preparedness, whatever that experience is. The most important because they will need this, Alper, everywhere. They will need this everywhere, not only at the fifteen minutes of investor pitching, but a five minute pitching at bar because you are developing something that nobody has ever done before, so trying to express something that no one has ever done before is much more harder than trying to present something easy as saying “here it is.” And they require different skills. You can have very good presentation skills, but if you’re not able to tell what the investor is looking for, if you’re not able to, if you don’t have a hook sentence, for example, then it is not going to make sense. You can be a very good showman. You have to give what the investors are looking for, or potential partners, plus with a good story behind it. And they will need that all the time, everywhere.

Alper:
Do you think they can use the same pitch over and over and over again or should they…

Aydın:
No, It evolves all the time. They have to be good listeners. Another thing, they should not lose any chance to present their presentation. They should not be shy to present. They should apply everywhere and do their presentation all the time. This is one of my tips because every time they will get some questions and they will understand what is missing or not, and based on that feedback they have to change their presentation or pitch. Or should.

Alper:
I have one last question.

Alper:
If you were to sum up your thousand presentation experience and so many years as being in the audience, what would be the three key messages you would want to give to prospective pitchers

Aydın:
Preparation is the key. Preparation, including rehearsals.

Creating a story. Creating a startup story. Why you are there. Your story.

Then, of course, attractive visuals. Because you will have something to show us, having an attractive visual informational documentation, helps you while giving your massages

Matt:
All right. Well, thank you very much.

Alper:
Thank you very much.

Aydın:
You’re welcome, guys.

[hide]

Transcript:

Matt:
Okay. We’re recording now. Okay. You’re Aydın Bırık, and you listen to a lot of investor pitches. Think of a recent investor pitch that you listened to and tell us what were some of things that you liked about it and some of the things that you didn’t like about it.

Aydın:
Okay. Very good. Well, thank you folks. Public speaking is very important and there are a lot of use cases where it really has an impact. Investor pitching is one of the top on my top list because the result could be an investment or not, so it is extremely important. It is not a corporate presentation. It is sometimes, for a lot of entrepreneurs, it is a life changing experience; and unfortunately, all my career I could say I have seen almost a thousand start up pitches, especially in our area, in Turkish entrepreneurs, we still have a lot of lacks.

Firstly, mostly engineers, are trying to do the pitches because they’re the ones who do the product and they think having the product is enough for an investor to be invested. Unfortunately, they don’t know once you cannot present the product, you will not get your message. People are not looking for, especially in the investors, people initially doesn’t look for the product or its company, people look for the entrepreneur itself. The entrepreneur itself makes the difference for an investor to invest in the company or not.

Matt:
You mean like the personality, the character…

Aydın:
Exactly. The personality, the character. To present that, having good presentation skills is very important. The preparation is extremely important. Most of them doesn’t come investor pitches without preparation. Yes, they have prepared a presentation, but they didn’t do rehearsals. I can easily see this.

Matt:
How do you see that when they’re not rehearsed? How do you know that they’re not rehearsed?

Aydın:
Well, the story is still very important. For startups, the idea is finding a solution to a problem, so without the story, people doesn’t conceive the problem or the solution. If they don’t come to presentations without thinking about the story or developing a story, they start from some point and they go to another point and then they come to other point, as well. On that thing, we understood he didn’t prepare enough.

I’m not going even mentioning about their typos or things they passed very fastly or things they spent too much time, so that are the things they didn’t get enough preparation. I’m not going to mentioning about their voice variety, how to use the stage, how to use two people because mostly teams made of a couple of people, they’re not only by themselves, even they have thousands ways to do a good presentation using their coworkers. They don’t do that. Sometimes only one person speaks. Sometimes one person speaks and the other person continues. For a listener, we lost track what’s going on over there.

For a good investor pitching, the first thing we look at is the people, the people itself, how passionate they are. How they have been working on this and what they have created. Were they aware of what they have created? Do they have a story behind it? Before looking at the product or the business model, we evaluate the people.

Matt:
What do you like to see in the people? When you say passion, what do you mean? Passion for the product? Passion for business as a process? What do you mean by passion? Passion for what?

Aydın:
Well, for the passion, how I conceive they have a passion or not is their control over their presentation, their preparation, including their voice tone, things they have touched, and things they haven’t touched because there is a standard for an investor pitching. You start with the problem. It’s S-C-Q-A. You start with the problem, situation. Then, you continue with the complexity, why that situation is complex. Then, you ask for a question, and then, you give the answer. S-C-Q-A is a standard kind of thing, but not so many people use this, or not so many people continue this flow. They didn’t do enough research. That gives me an idea of they haven’t read what’s going on on papers, and that gives me an idea they are not passionate enough, their product or their business. They just come there to present their idea and thinking they did the best thing, but they have to do their research.

Matt:
You mention S-C-Q-A. Remind me again. What does that stands for? S … Situation?

Aydın:
Situation.

Matt:
C.

Aydın:
Complexity. Q. Question and answer.

Matt:
That’s the standard sequence of an investor presentation.

Aydın:
There are also other slides they have to add, like the team, the rekabet (a Turkish word)…

Alper:
Competition?

Aydın:
Yeah, competition. There are also some slides that must be on the page, but the flow should be on this, should be like this.

Matt:
But you don’t see a lot of people following this.

Aydın:
I don’t see it. Yeah. Yeah. Another thing. The most important thing is the story. We are not talking about a yearly, annual presentation over there. We are talking about a life changing product. They have to present us a life changing product at the investor pitching. You have to…

Matt:
Should the story have to do with how the product would change somebody’s life?

Aydın:
Could be that. Could be that. Or how he ended up coming up with an idea. A presentation like, “My mother and I, we were in Istanbul and for long of my life we weren’t able to get organic food because of this happened, this happened.” Even putting something from your own could be very valuable; but because of mostly engineers do this, they don’t spend time developing their story before the presentation.

Matt:
Okay. Alper, I saw you writing. Do you have some questions?

Alper:
Yeah, yeah, I have some questions. You said you sat through almost one thousand or maybe more investor pitches. Remember the successful ones. What happened at the end of it, when the presentation ended and you thought to yourself, “Okay. This was a good, successful presentation.” What happened afterwards?

Aydın:
For an investor … By the way, another thing is, I would answer that question, but the timing is extremely important, as well, especially in investor pitchings. It has to be very short because, for example, for a day, for demo day, we call it demo days, maximum fifteen sometimes thirty people are on the stage, and they have limited time, so they have to present whatever they have in that very, very limited, sometimes it’s five minutes. We call it elevator pitches. Five minutes they have to present what they’re been working for their whole life, so that gives an idea they have to be very well prepared, including their stories.

What is a good present, and at the end what happens? For investors, we need to learn some things that we have to learn. One is about the team. Who is the team? What is the problem? What is the solution? What is the problem? How are you going to solve it, and how much money you want?

If you’re able to tell them in a very flawless way, you tell who you are. You tell what was your story. How did you come up this? And then you tell, how you’re going to solve this, and what you want with who. Then at the end, very basically I described to you, but we got what we want and we say, “All right, we got what we want.” At the end, a lot of people say they understood if we understand if it is a good startup pitch or not. If lot of questions are coming, then it’s a bad presentation because investors didn’t get, didn’t understand it, how you’re going to do this, where you’re going to find this money, why you think this money. If there are not too much questions, at the end if it is an angel network group, for example, they leave the room and then we vote. Not having too many questions, and a lot of people interested in the presentation then it means he did a good job. It’s successful.

You have to touch some specific points, but in a very connected way. With a story. You have to touch some specific points. They are everywhere in investor pitching they say at the end, tell how much money you want because it’s investor pitching; and I cannot tell almost fifty or seventy percent, they maybe forget, or they didn’t do their research enough. They just present their product and we have to ask them, “All right, how much money you want?”

Matt:
How often does it happen, an entrepreneur gives a really shitty presentation and you say, “Yeah, the presentation was shitty, but the product was great, we should make an investment anyway.” How often does that happen?

Aydın:
Good question. Good question. Well, that happens. That happens too much, especially here in Turkey. I’m not talking about global entrepreneurship, we’re talking about the Turkish entrepreneurial market. That happens a lot. Turkish people doesn’t have good presentation skills because of many many different reasons, especially the presentations I listen are technical presentations. It is tech jobs and they involve people who have technical skills, mostly founders are technical people. Because of them, mostly, I would say, I cannot give a percent, but mostly it is bad presentations with, okay, could be interesting products; but mostly. More than half.

Alper:
I just want to clarify, when you ask the question, did you say, how much of the bad presentations end up getting investments?

Matt:
Basically, does a presentation need to be good? Can a presentation suck and you still get an investment?

Alper:
And how much of it happens?

Aydın:
Lot of presentations suck, and the products could be good. For an investor, there are different types of people. Some people might not be looking at the presentation, just the product, but that is very, very small percentage. They are just investors and they want to invest in something, so their barrier could be low; but with a bad presentation they are missing a huge potential, huge opportunity. That doesn’t happen too much. I know very good products because of bad presentations just couldn’t get understood.

Alper:
What would you suggest they do before the presentation?

Aydın:
A good presentation … A good preparation. I’m sorry. A good preparation. Do rehearsals all the time. In, for example, two years ago there was a program, they collect Turkish startups and sent them to the States. It was Trip Technet, something like that. Some American mentors were mentoring them, and they make them pitch in front of American investors. I know from them, they memorized every word. They made our Turkish entrepreneurs memorize every word they present on the stage.

This is how a good presentation is happening, including some jokes. Jokes. You have to put some jokes on the presentation. You have to ask questions. Those kind of tips were given them. Memorize a good presentation. Without some stoppings. A good entrance. A good voice. A good local voice. Eye contact. Good usage of stage. Without looking at your presentation. All those tips that we all know are definitely in my experience effective to have an ear on the presentation. Because think about this, we are not listening only one presentation on that day. We are listening almost thirty presentations for a day, and at the end we have to make a decision. Since there is also a little time to evaluate them, we evaluate them afterwards, which is almost two hours or three hours later. What do we remember? We remember who had the show on the stage.

Matt:
Who had the what?

Aydın:
The show. Show. Show on the stage.

Alper:
Who made the best impression.

Aydın:
Yeah, yeah. The best impression.

Matt:
Think of a recent day where you had to sit through these thirty presentations. What was one of the memorable shows? What did the guy or girl do that was memorable? What was memorable?

Aydın:
Well, all right. There are some things I can remember. There are some things I cannot remember, but I know, for example, at the StartersHub, there were some good presentations, good command of English. They come to the stage, and they have their people on the audience, and once that team was coming we saw some shoutings and cheerings. A lot people were maybe too tired and looking at their phones, but once we saw all this noise, we just thought, “What’s going on?” And we thought, that there is going to be something over there. Then the guy was very self confident, and he was going to pitch a device, a hardware device where you can store all your photos on your cloud, but cloud at home, so…

Matt:
By the way, was this Monument?

Aydın:
Monument. Yeah. Monument.

Matt:
That’s Semih Hazar from Toastmasters.

Aydın:
Yeah? He came? He came over there? Ercan? How do you know him?

Matt:
From Toastmasters. Semih was in Toastmasters ten years ago, that’s how I know him, and I met his business partner…

Aydın:
Ercan.

Matt:
Yeah.

Aydın:
Yeah. Ercan and Semih are my friends, and I’m the guy who picked them for Turkcell and now we’re going to do business. Out of my six success stories one of them is Monument. I still have good connections with them.

So, Ercan’s and Semih’s presentation was good, and I know they got support from a professional presenter, by the way Mehmet, but I know their presentation. He came and he started, since he was going to pitch something with a device and storing files, he started taking a selfie of all the audience and I and us. So, he initially do the demonstration, and he started with a very good problem. We all had these pictures, how I’m going to do this, stuff like that. So he did demo without using too much of his time, he did a good start. He was able to present whatever we like to hear. For investor pitches, we don’t have to hear everything. We don’t have to hear everything. This is the key. We don’t have to hear everything. We only have to hear the problem, the situation, the team, and how much money you want. The story behind it, and as far as I remember, that’s was something I still can remember.

Matt:
So, he walks up there on stage and his employees are in the audience and they’re wooping it up so there’s some excitement, and then he gets up there and he takes a selfie of himself, and this is a photo storage device, so he’s working his product into the presentation. So, he’s not just standing up there saying, “Hi, my name is Ercan. We make a product that does photo storage.” He’s actually working the product into the presentation, and you like that.

Aydın:
Exactly. Exactly.

Alper:
What percentage, would you say, slides were used in these one thousand presentations? Like, how much of them use a presentation, like a PowerPoint behind them?

Aydın:
Well, they use them every time. They have to use every time because they have to show something and it’s not only like a free-form speech. If this for the investor presentations, they have to present something, so every time they have to use some sort of…

Alper:
And how would grade their usage…

Aydın:
Oh man. Well, they’re very bad. Very, very bad.

Alper:
Like confusing? [Crosstalk]

Aydın:
Definitely sometimes confusing. Sometimes small fonts. Mostly presenting about the financials, for example, it is small fonts. We don’t have to see your one-year thing. You can just put it on your backup slide, just present us some …

Alper:
The key elements.

Aydın:
Yeah. Small fonts, and, of course, well, for good presentations, for example, if it is a product announcement, you can use just pictures; but for startup presentation just using pictures without writings sometimes isn’t good because we sometimes we have to see something written. You’re not announcing a product, so there has to be some writings, some information as well. Who you are, what you have done, however you are creative creating your presentation, then of course it takes our attention. For example, on team slides some people put pictures and write under, “I have worked there.” Their titles with the companies, but some people just put their picture but they just add the logos of the companies they have worked or the universities. That is a creative way to say the same thing, but they have to have a presentation, and they have to have some information.

Alper:
Okay, but in most cases, unfortunately, the presentation becomes an obstacle between the presenter and you if done badly.

Aydın:
Exactly, including if they are not prepared enough and looking at the presentation all the time, that becomes definitely an obstacle. They have to go back and forward, that kind of thing. The flow of course because the presentation has to follow the story that you’re telling. The story is the key thing. How did you end up being there? That is the most important thing. You are presenting yourself. You are not presenting a product. You are presenting yourself, so if you prepare your slides aligned with your story, then it makes easier for us to catch up. It’s like watching a movie. You don’t have to ask anything. Some slides are going and he’s telling something regarded with that. This was thing. You know how, “I was like this, did this, and then, all of sudden, I figured out this. We had been working on this. This is my team. Blah, blah, blah blah.” Then, it gives a good impression.

Alper:
You would say the presentation, the pitch, the investor pitch is maybe the most important five minutes that person can have…

Aydın:
In their entrepreneurial experience. Exactly.

Alper:
Can we quote you on this?

Aydın:
Yes. Exactly. Exactly Please.

Alper:
The most five crucial minutes…

Aydın:
For an entrepreneur. I will try repeat the same thing. The most important time of their life would be their investor pitching presentation preparedness, whatever that experience is. The most important because they will need this, Alper, everywhere. They will need this everywhere, not only at the fifteen minutes of investor pitching, but a five minute elevator pitching at bar because you are developing something that nobody has done before, so trying to express something that no one has ever done before is much more harder than trying to present whatever, “Here it is.” And they require different skills. You can have very good presentation skills, but if you’re not able to tell what the investor is looking for, if you’re not able to, if you don’t have a hook sentence, for example, then it is not going to make sense. You can be a very good showman. You have to give what the investors are looking for, or potential partners, plus with a good story behind it. And they will need that all the time, everywhere.

Alper:
Do you think they can use the same pitch over and over and over again or should they…

Aydın:
No, no, no no. It evolves all the time. They have to be good listeners. Another thing, they should not lose any chance to present their presentation. They should not be shy to present. They should apply everywhere and do their presentation all the time. This is one of my tips because every time they will get some questions and they will understand what is missing or not, and based on that feedback they have to change their presentation or pitch. Or should.

Alper:
I have one last question.

Matt:
Okay. Yeah, You ask your one question. I have nothing, and we could go on all day, but you ask your one question.

Alper:
If you were to sum up your thousand presentation experience and so many years as being in the audience, what would be the three key messages you would want to give to prospective pitchers?

Aydın:
Preparation is the key. Preparation, including rehearsals.

Creating a story. Creating a story. Creating a startup story. Why you are there. Your story.

Then, of course, attractive because you will have something to show us, having an attractive visual informational documentation.

Matt:
All right. Well, thank you very much.

Alper:
Thank you very much.

Aydın:
You’re welcome, guys.

[/hide]

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Office hours

UPDATE: As of March 2017, Matt’s public office hours have been replaced by “members only” office hours. For the location of the members-only office hours, please see: https://dopplercomm.com/members-only/office-hours/

Matt holds weekly office hours on Thursdays at 3pm (Istanbul time) at Muizz, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Gonen Otel in Taksim (click here for a map).

Feel free to come in person, or contact Matt virtually on Skype (username: mattkrause), or call his cell at +90 535 680 9680.

Typical topics people want to discuss are getting advice for a particular presentation at work, reviewing a CV, or just drinking some tea and having a little friendly small talk.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Reader comments on Kevin Spacey speech

One of the most commented-on items in our Tips & Tricks email series is this Kevin Spacey speech:

https://www.getdrip.com/9763063/campaigns/7516685/emails/102822/archive

The comments are often to the effect that the readers loved the speech, for various reasons, and they watched the whole thing (it’s about 47 minutes!).

The thing is that, visually, the speech is one of the most boring speeches I’ve ever seen — boring suit, boring background color, speaker standing behind a podium. Even Kevin Spacey’s face is, in my opinion, boring. I love Kevin Spacey, the guy is one of my favorite actors, but he has made an entire career out of playing characters that are boring on the surface (but quite interesting inside).

So why do our T&T readers so often say, “I loved that speech, I watched the whole thing?”

I think it’s because Kevin Spacey has something to say.

That’s the key to a good presentation. The key is not knowing how to do everything “right.” It’s having something to say.

In my opinion, that’s the single most important presentation skill: the ability to dig deep and find something in yourself that needs saying. If you don’t do that, no amount of training is going to make your speech interesting. And if you do do that, almost nothing else matters.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

What’s behind that 25 times

What’s behind that 25 times

There’s more behind that “practice 25 times” advice than just an unthinking “more practice is good, so get a lot of it.”

Here’s what’s behind it…

(click here if you don’t see the embedded image above)

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Speaking

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Freelancers’ Show

Welcome to the Freelancer’s Show podcast listeners!

Here are a couple things to reinforce what we discussed on the show. Just sign up with your email address, and we’ll send them along to you.

They are:

  • a brief guide covering the three mindset changes (otherwise known as “attitude adjustments”) we recommend to our clients before we begin speaking-as-lead-gen work with them
  • a short (5-day) email course with tips about how to structure your lead-gen speeches and then how to make and use your followup collateral; basically a stripped-down version of what we walk you through in our group mentoring program

[content_upgrade cu_id=”13354″]Get the Freelancers’ Show podcast package (Speaking As Lead-Gen)[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

Thank you for listening to the podcast, it was a pleasure. I’ve been listening to that podcast for a while now, and I’m not even a developer!

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Email styles

A great cartoon showing one of the main differences between executive and associate email styles…

email-styles

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Mindset change

Why we do Tips and Tricks as a weekly email, not a once-and-done ebook:

New Service: Test My Presentation. You send us your presentation, we suggest how you can improve it. Click here for more info.

Pro Tip: Use this service once a month, and watch your presentation skills rise up to the next level. It’ll be like your own personal communications seminar!

Transcript:

This series, the Tips and Tricks series, it’s going to take about a year. There are 40 or 50 tips, or something like that, and then spaced out, one a week, that ends up being about a year.

Sometimes people come to us and they say, “Hey Matt, can’t you just take all of those tips and package them in an e-book or a best of blog posts list, or something, so that we can read them all at once and just get them out of the way?”

The short answer is yes, absolutely, we could do that, technically.

But the reason that we don’t is that good presentation skills, or good communication skills, are kind of a mindset change.

They’re not just a set of skills that you learn in one day and then you’re fine for the rest of your life. They’re a mindset change. A mindset change takes a longer time to achieve. That’s why we break them down into much smaller, weekly emails over the space of a year, because the point is to effect some sort of a mindset change, not to just dump a bunch of standalone, a la carte skills on to you.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The Jesse Interviews

Jesse Scinto, our head speechwriter and presentation trainer, is a faculty member at the Strategic Communications department at New York’s Columbia University.

So, understandably, we are proud of him and happy to have him on our team.

In these interview highlights, Jesse discusses techniques for connecting with your audience, for persuading them over to your point of view, and for getting around the fact that they tend to remember very little of what you say, no matter how good your presentation is.

Jesse Scinto: Presentations Are Not About Informing
Jesse Scinto: “Progressive Complications” — What It Means
Jesse Scinto: Commitment and Consistency
Jesse Scinto: Commitment Must Be Physical and Public
Jesse Scinto: The Credibility of Being Human
Jesse Scinto: What Benefit Am I Going to Get?
Jesse Scinto: Using Stories in a Business Context
Jesse Scinto: Example of A Story About Corporate Restructuring
Jesse Scinto: Complication and Resolution

Download The Jesse Interviews (pdf, 1mb)

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Why we don’t do many one- or two-day trainings

Why we don’t do many one- or two-day trainings

We get a lot of requests for one- or two-day trainings, but we don’t do very many of them.

Why?

It is almost impossible to make a deep change in someone’s life, or in a company’s performance, in one or two days, and we are not in the business of making shallow changes.

Years ago, when we started out, we did lots of one- or two-day trainings. But we stopped, because we exist to do more than spend our clients’ budget money.

What do we do instead? Longer, deeper engagements. Most of them are at least six months, and some of them have passed the two-year mark. Even the small ones are 10-12 sessions over a two- or three-month period.

To expect significant change to happen in a couple days is, well, unrealistic. Sometimes we call it “putting lipstick on a pig.” It’s still a pig, it’s just a little prettier now, and we don’t want to be responsible for that.

If you really, really want a one- or two-day training, you might hear us diplomatically suggest that you look elsewhere. There are plenty of great training companies that will be happy to help you. However, it is highly likely that we will not be one of them.

Notice that we used phrases like “almost never,” not “absolutely not, no way, never.” Sometimes we do one- or two-day trainings, but they tend to be for clients we know well and have worked with many times before, and we know that their expectations for the training are realistic and limited, and the training is taking place in the context of a much larger project we are working on together.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

12 minutes with Pınar Uğuroğlu

Name: Pınar Uğuroğlu
Title: Deputy CIO and Head of Research
Company: BNP Paribas TEB Portföy
City: Istanbul, Turkey
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pinar-uguroglu-8a906b1

Interview audio:

Interview transcript:

Matt:
It’s “ten till”. OK so we’re recording now.

Pınar:
OK

Matt:
So remember, if we ask for too much confidential information then you won’t hurt our feelings if you just tell us “hey, I can’t tell you the names.”

Pınar:
OK

Matt:
First question: Tell us your name.

Pınar:
Pınar Uğuroğlu, and I work for TEB Portföy.

Matt:
And what do you do there?

Pınar:
I am head of research and fund manager for the international accounts.

Matt:
So think of a company that does something that you like. Tell us what they do and what you like about it.

Pınar:
I am not going to name the names, but a generic company that I like from a investor relations point of view would be a tended company meaning that it openly communicate to you both positives and negatives of the business but also emphasize merits or some points that we may lack or disregard regarding the company and understand the business very well. The value proposition of the company that they are working in, and emphasize or present their way in line with their value proposition. Answer the questions directly, rather than rambling around and not giving you a direct answer. Because at the end of the day were trying to get the specific information.

Matt:
You mentioned the value proposition for the company, is that the marketing value proposition or the investor value proposition? Are there different value propositions?

Pınar:
I think what I mean is that they should understand what is important for the bottom line or the share price. It can be multiple things, for one year it may be important that they are exporting – so their value propositions or their earnings may be driven by their exports for that particular year. Or the company is growing in export markets – that would be much more important going forward. They should emphasize this factor.

For another year, they should emphasize cost control or savings, because that is the way the business is heading to. So that the investor can understand the management or the investor relations – you understand what the business means and really in line with their aim or their strategies directed toward the areas it needs in that particular time period. If the investor gets this conviction meaning that yes the management thinks the right thing and do the right thing, then I can be much more relaxed about my investment because I know that the management really is on top of the things, do understand the business necessities, and do the actions according to that message piece. Otherwise, a generic investor relations presentation that talks about many things can be off the aid. I wouldn’t leave that meeting with a conviction of negative or positive, I would be in a sort of limbo.

Investor relations job is to obviously tell you a candid picture but also try to convince you that the company can do well in a certain time frame or you are in good hands in terms of the management. So you should feel at ease with the management capabilities of the company. So there should be a conviction in process but should not be through marketing as well. That’s why it’s important that the investor relations do understand their business, where they earn money from, what is their current business situation is like, and then direct you toward a more positive picture about that company. A positive aspect of the company.

Matt:
One thing that other analysts have mentioned is the importance of context. Here is the piece of data, here is a number, have an IR person who can tell us how does that piece of data fit into the broader context, the bigger picture. Is that an important thing for you?

Pınar:
I think if you mean comparative analysis – say like, if a company is proud that it is one of the cost leaders. Putting that into perspective really helps, is another add-on to the investor relations effort, I think. It does help for sure. But they have to emphasize it as well. That is what I’m trying to say, sometimes we can make those 50 pages of presentations, comparative cost analysis can be one slide. But unless you are directed to look at that slide, you would not perhaps after the meeting.

Matt:
So that slide gets lost in a mountain of other data?

Pınar:
Yes. So what I am trying say is then what is important at that time period, you should emphasize and put forward. You can say, for the banks let’s say 2016 would be, say, about fee generation and cost control, that’s important. That is how we’re going to earn money in 2016. That’s a CEO public remark guide. So every effort should be based on this. How we earn money off this, how we can improve this, how we stand in terms of the industry, what we are trying to achieve in the next few years, what we mean by cost control. Something like that, right? So your CEO can give you a lead about what is important for that year and your investor relations effort can build on it apart from other things. So these are the two points that they should have, a sort of mental mindset in terms of “I’m not going to leave this meeting without mentioning these two points.” I think that should be the aim of the investigations. Whether or not they ask me, I’m going to mention these two points. Because that is important.

Matt:
OK. Now, think of a company that does something that you don’t like. Think of a company that you would like to strangle. What do they do that you don’t like?

Pınar:
Well, if they don’t return my calls. If they don’t communicate with me at all, I wouldn’t like them. So obviously you have to be in the face of the investors. Presence is a must have. Second, they may be in front of the investors but some investor relations are… I don’t know whether it’s good or bad but I really personally don’t like it. They don’t talk unless you ask.

Matt:
Okay

Pınar:
So you have to ask. You have to do your homework. Either they’re trying to teach you to do your homework …

Matt:
Uh-huh

Pınar:
… So if you’re [inaudible] about the company, if you know nothing about the company you can stare at each other for an entire 2 minutes.

Alper:
No questions, no answers, no communication.

Matt:
Okay.

Pınar:
So that part I don’t particularly like. Because it has to be communication.

Matt:
Okay

Pınar:
Not just questions and not just “yes” and “no.” It should give you an idea then. After that meeting you should have an idea about the investment people.

Matt:
Okay

Pınar:
You can either say “Ah, this meeting was interesting. I’m going to definitely look at my numbers again. Perhaps I’ll buy the stock” or “This meeting was interesting but this year may not be their year. I’ll wait for a while.” That’s a good – You don’t have to buy the stock right after.

Matt:
Uh-huh

Pınar:
The worst thing is that I don’t know what to think about it. I don’t have any time to look at the numbers, I’ll just dismiss it.

Matt:
Okay

Pınar:
It’s in the back burner. That’s the worst thing.

Matt:
Okay

Alper:
I have a general question. The way I see it, sometimes you have to beg for information from the IR department.

Pınar:
Yes.

Alper:
Isn’t this supposed to go the other way around? Aren’t you supposed to be served this information on a silver platter?

Pınar:
I don’t know, first of all, because from a fund size we’re sizable but we’re not the largest one. So if big accounts like Fidelity or Capital who have massive assets on their management. Perhaps they are getting served by the silver platter.

I don’t know, but in our case most of the time brokers do it. So brokers are brokering meaning they fix meetings between you and the company.

Alper:
Okay.

Pınar:
So that’s a broker’s function. It’s easy for the company to, it’s easy for me too, because we have a lot of investments. Not every investor relations person knows them by person. But sometimes whenever they do these annual meetings they’ll serve it at night and use their home turf as well. As we have seen in İş Yatırım or İşbank meeting. But I don’t expect investor relations to call me. I don’t have that expectation. I would like them to answer my calls if I call them.

Matt:
Yeah

Pınar:
I think that’s good enough for me. I don’t have high hopes about – and sometimes you can get annoyed by this. In a sense that if you really don’t think about investing in a company and IR is overly ambitious and trying to call you every day. That can be tricky too. Because you get suspicious that there’s something they are going after.

Either the shareholder would like to sell the stock so they’re trying to sell the stock first to you. Share price goes up and the shareholder over-sells. So you get suspicious. So everything can happen in this market.

Alper:
So it’s a matter of balance.

Pınar:
Yeah

Alper:
Not too much communication and not zero communication. Somewhere in between.

Pınar:
Yeah. Generally I like to see the upper management in the meetings as well. That’s a good meeting. If they bring a CFO or Head of the Business Department or Head of Sales. If they train them in terms of what they should say and what they shouldn’t say to investors it’s important because they shouldn’t leak information that’s not allowed.

Matt:
Okay

Pınar:
But as long as they train them, these non-IR people, they should definitely include them in the meeting. Especially if it’s a high level meeting.

Alper:
Okay so you would prefer that instead of a CEO taking the stage and speaking for an hour?

Pınar:
No, I cannot meet with a CEO in a one on one meeting so my only context of a CEO I’ve known by name, X, I’ve never asked him for a personal appointment because I don’t think that I can get it. Perhaps I can but I never tried. That’s my first contact with him, being in a CEO meeting. So I don’t discourage that but what I’m talking about – if I go to meet at investor relations and if I’m at the very point where I’m really on the verge of making a decision. Or if I’m bringing along something with me, my CEO, my shareholder, then perhaps they should bring another person who can talk about another aspect of [inaudible]. It cannot be just IR, but a team effort in handling the IR relationship. CEO meetings? Sometimes we do have CEO meetings for sure but it’s mostly just general big meetings where you have auditoriums or it’s more like a speech type of event.

Matt:
Before we wrap up, the last question here. Before we go is there anything else that you’d like to mention like an example. Something a company does really well, or something a company does really badly, something you wish they would do differently.

Pınar:
Generally what we like is not just investor relations. It’s more like the company getting managed well. That’s what we like. We like good management, solid business models, and cheap stocks. Cheapness you cannot have an effect on. But at least the management, or the perception of the management, should be communicated well enough. So that you trust the management. Business models should be explained to you in a meaningful way. The management should know their key numbers. They should know their ROE. They should know return as capital. They should know return related numbers.

Matt:
Okay. Return related numbers.

Pınar:
Return related meaning that because I’m investing in the company and I’m expecting a return. That return can come if the company earns a return. So if the company keeps burning money, if the company cannot get any money paid back from the investments obviously my investment to the stock would not be profitable. So the management explains to us that whatever they do is for good business returns. And these are 5 things they do, 5 things they don’t do, how they manage the business, how they manage the balance sheets, and how they manage to shed all of their interests. They should be clear on these very important pillars.

I’m always amazed whenever I go to the US and meet with the US investors, especially during my sell side days, I remember one episode that I was trying to tell this person, he was an investor, he was a very American-type, not looking at emerging markets that much, sort of used to dealing with the American companies, right? He took a meeting and I told him that one particular investor in Turkey has never earned above the cost of capital. It’s on the economic value terms. This is a [inaudible]. For an American, this company should go bust. The shareholders, not just the minority shareholders but the big bosses who own this company should close down the company because there are better ways to use capital.

Matt:
Yeah.

Pınar:
The guy refused to believe me. He refused. “You must be wrong. Check your numbers. They should not constantly earn below the economic cost of capital.” I was right but it was incomprehensible for him. For Turkey, that’s not the … Companies can go on really eating up their capital. Nobody does anything. But you shy away from investments. So they should bear this in mind that an investor would ask for a return. I should know this number. If the return is low, I should be able to explain why it’s low.

Matt:
Okay.

Pınar:
I should be explain how we are about including terms, something like that.

Matt:
Okay. Okay.

Pınar:
I think for the economic building of the society this is essential; the Management thing as a shareholder.

Matt:
Okay.

Pınar:
If they are living in a capitalist society. If the economic model is different, if you are not capitalists then this is something else.

Matt:
Okay, okay. So before I stop the recording, Alper, do you have any other questions?

Alper:
About 26 more questions.

Matt:
We’ll stop the recording though.

Pınar:
Thank you.

Matt:
Okay.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Preparing for “12 Minutes With…”

Equipment:

  1. Please use headphones. They don’t have to be fancy; the ones you use with your iPhone are fine.
  2. Please use Chrome or Firefox. Sometimes Internet Explorer works for this, but most of the time it doesn’t.

Preparation before the call:

  1. Please look at the typical questions below and think about them a bit. Your answers don’t have to sound perfect, it just helps you know where the conversation will probably go.
  2. Go to a quiet conference room if you can. Your microphone will pick up noises around you (your neighbor’s phone conversation, for example), and we’d like to hear as much of your voice as possible, not your neighbor’s voice.
  3. Matt will email you a link before the call. Click that link to start the conversation with Matt.

Typical questions:

  1. Tell us your name.
  2. Tell us what company you work for, and what you do there.
  3. Think of a company that does something you like. Tell us what they do, and what you like about it.
  4. Tell us about something else you’ve seen done, something you like. It can be the same company, or a different company.
  5. Now think of something you DON’T like. Tell us what it is, and what you don’t like about it.
  6. Tell us another thing, something you wish companies would do better.
  7. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to mention? For example, a company that does things really well, or something you wish companies did differently.

Other notes:

  1. Confidentiality: Remember that these recordings are public, but we know that much of your work is confidential. So if we ask for too much information, just say something like, “I prefer not to mention names,” or “I prefer not to mention the company by name; let me just say they are in aerospace manufacturing.” Of course, we like as much detail as possible, but if you don’t want to mention a name, don’t worry, it won’t hurt our feelings.
  2. Why we’re doing this: The main people who listen to these podcasts are our clients, and they are wondering, what can we do to communicate more clearly with our investors and analysts? So you are basically talking to the people you follow, and you are telling them, “This is what I need from you, this is what I wish you would do differently.”
  3. Thank you so much for participating in this interview. You have no idea how valuable your opinions are to us. After all, our job is to help companies communicate better with their investors and analysts, and your opinions help us tell the companies exactly what their audiences need from them.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Remote Coaching

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About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Softening words

This guy Eric Takaha at Franklin-Templeton is a master of using what I call “softening words,” which can come in very handy when you are describing overall trends in a public forum. I’ve bolded the “softening words” in the transcript below…

[themedy_media type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_To7L1kQXL0″]

How has high yield performed recently?

Year-to-date, the high yield market has been a little bit up and down. Overall, we’re up a couple percent through the first quarter of 2015. January was a little bit of a weaker month. February moved up and then March has been a little bit up and down.

Overall, it’s been tracking energy pretty closely given the large percentage of the market that’s in the energy sector.

Outside of energy in general, we’ve seen [Matt’s note: “seen” makes it passive] money coming in to high yield mutual funds. That’s helped to support some of the prices. You’ve had a lot of supply coming on the market, so that’s dampened prices a bit [Matt’s note: “dampened” is more vague and passive than “lowered”].

Overall, default rates remain relatively low which has been [Matt’s note: note the passive construction] supportive for the overall asset class. In general, it’s been a positive year-to-date 2015 but a little bit of volatility in between.

[Matt’s note: note the heavy use of “overall” and “in general”]

Can you speak specifically to the energy sector?

The energy sector has remained very volatile over the past several months. Oil prices in particular have been going up and down and primarily down. We saw [Matt’s note: note again his use of “to see” — passive] some more recent lows over the last several weeks.

As a result, the energy space within high yield has been very volatile during that period of time.

We still believe longer term, there’s very good value in the energy space [Matt’s note: “space” is a vaguer term for “market”]. You have a lot of names trading at very distressed levels pricing in a high probability of default over the coming couple of years.

You will see [Matt’s note: again, note the use of “to see” (grammatically the sentence is active, but the meaning is still passive)] some very weak earnings from the energy companies over the coming quarters given the lower oil prices. Even natural gas remains near their recent lows. You will see some tough earnings and cash flow but we think many companies have liquidity to weather through [Matt’s note: this is a good phrase for “survive,” but “weather through” is softer, vaguer] the next several quarters.

We think longer term supply and demand should help [Matt’s note: “should” can be used two ways: to express an imperative need or command (You should do this = you need to do this), but it can also be used to express probability (X should cause Y = X will probably result in Y, but maybe not always, we’ll see)] to balance out the oil market in particular and give you some more upside to the oil price longer term. Under that scenario, we think there’s some pretty good [Matt’s note: “pretty good” is a vague, modest phrase for “excellent” or “great”] valuations to be had within the high yield energy space [Matt’s note: once again, he uses the word “space” instead of “market”].

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Acid test of a good financial speech

The acid test of a good financial speech:

When you read the speech to someone who is not in the target audience, and ideally who barely even understands the subject, can you hold their interest to the end, without losing the interest of your target audience?

If you can hold the interest of the target audience AND the newbies, you know you’ve written a good speech.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Client Communications

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About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Investor Presentations

ZZZ

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Executive Communications

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About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Message focusing: Six-word story

One of our clients is an executive at an international bank, so he presents to global management quite often. To be able to give his message using a few well-chosen words, instead of dozens of data-heavy charts and graphs, would be revolutionary.

We took one of his 30-minute presentations, and focused it, and focused it some more, but we couldn’t get it down below 15 minutes. Something wasn’t right, we weren’t getting at the core of the message.

So we said, “Let’s see if we can tell it in 6 words.” We did, and it ended up being one of the best presentations of his life (his words, not ours).

Now he uses this technique often around the world. Imagine that, a complex financial services company, teaching itself to distill hundreds of complex charts and graphs into messages that can fit on the back of a napkin.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

What do I do with my hands? (Eric Takaha video)

One of the most common questions we hear when people go onto the stage is, “What do I do with my hands?” Believe it or not, that question is actually more common than “Where’s the nearest escape route?” 😉

Watch Franklin Templeton’s Eric Takaha’s hands in this video…

See how he tends to point his palms down when he’s talking about numbers, and palms up when he wants to seem open and friendly, or is using “grease words” to make a bad thing sound good? Palms down tends to signal control and competence. Palms up tends to signal openness and friendliness.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Money is especially emotional

One of the best arguments for how people make decisions based on emotion, even when (perhaps especially when) they are making decisions about money…

Especially after expenses, most actively-managed funds perform worse than their benchmark.

If you listen to many finance people talk about themselves and their industry, they’ll tell you how rational and analytical things are, how everyone’s looking at the numbers only, etc. And perhaps, on a day-to-day executional basis, they are.

But really, at the root of all the work these people are doing, is that the client, at one point, said to himself, “I’m going to pay a little more in order to have my money looked after by an actual person.”

If the customer were really making a rational decision, he would just put his money in low-cost index funds, and most fund managers would be flipping burgers at McDonalds.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The wrong question

All day long, I am surrounded by people who are fluent speakers of English, or nearly fluent speakers of English.

One of the main questions people ask me is how can I speak better English?

I tell them, if you are a fluent or near fluent speaker of English, then asking how can I speak better English is the wrong question to be asking.

Once you get to that level, it’s not a question of speaking better English anymore, it’s about putting more vivid images into the audience’s head.

A key idea to remember here is that good stories happen in the reader’s head, not in the writer’s head.

Or, for speakers: a good speech happens in the listener’s head, not in the speaker’s head.

Your job as a speaker is to off-load as much of the processing power into the audience as possible, because the images they create in their heads will be far better and much more vivid than any images you could describe in any language. As a speaker, your job is not to find the right words per se. Your job is to kick off images in people’s heads.

A couple of ways that you can kick off these images in people’s heads:

One is to tell a story, preferably a story about yourself. A common story structure goes like this: Today I want you to X. I remember years ago, I wanted to X too. Here are the challenges I faced and how I met them.

Another way that you can cause these images to happen in people’s heads is to ask questions. One of the great benefits of this tactic is that your speech actually becomes really easy, because you basically just get to stand up there and be silent and listen while the audience does the talking.

For example, if you are talking about the process of starting a business, questions might be: Have you ever tried to start a business? Why did you think about starting your own business? What kind of business did you think about starting?

The minute you stop asking questions, the audience just kind of gets to sit there passively and listen to you and maybe think about other stuff. When you stop asking questions, you bring the cognitive processing responsibility, the heavy lifting, back onto yourself.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Method actor approach to communications

Michael Bierut describes not only the method we use, but why we use it, so well I read it and thought, “Yeah, that’s me!”…

http://99u.com/workbook/51901/the-method-actor-approach-to-design

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

You are just a midwife

The presenter is not the star of the show, the audience is the star of the show…

http://www.duarte.com/blog/like-yoda-you-must-be-2/

The fastest way to Death By PowerPoint is to think you are anything more than a midwife to the audience’s dreams.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Pause

I love this article,…

https://decker.com/blog/pause-just-pause/

…Especially the third tip:

“Pause for a moment longer than you feel comfortable. Try pausing for 2 – 3 seconds. It might feel like an eternity to you, but it will sound perfectly normal to your audience.”

[content_upgrade cu_id=”13501″]Get this tip and more in Tips and Tricks, Vol. Five:[content_upgrade_button]Click Here[/content_upgrade_button][/content_upgrade]

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Look at your people, not your screen

One of the things I love most in the infographic below is the part that says avoid looking at your screen when pitching. Yes, this goes for pitching (selling) an idea or service. But it goes for just about any other situation, too.

When you look at your computer screen, you break eye contact with the most important people in the room, your audience.

And remember, humans tend to look where other humans look. So if you look at your computer, your audience will probably look at your computer, too. Except you’ll see a screen filled with lots of interesting charts and numbers, while your audience will see the logo on the back cover. “Oh, he’s got an Apple,” or “Oh, he’s got a Sony,” is that what you want your audience thinking about?

One more thing…

Have you ever been out to dinner with someone and then they whip out their phone and start playing with it? How does that make you feel? Do you want your audience to feel the same way?

So stop looking at your computer!

body_language_business

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

And that’s how it’s done, folks!

Don Draper shows us how presentations are done right…

Notice three things in particular:

  1. He starts his story with “my first job” — time-shifting phrases (“my first job,” “a couple years ago,” “once upon a time”) tend to relax people and briefly draw attention to the speaker.
  2. He includes a few tangential details (“old,” “Greek,” “Teddy,” etc). Small details (names, places, colors) start the audience painting a picture in their heads, so they can imagine what you’re talking about. The details are not there to convey information, they are there to start the picture-painting process in your audience’s heads, so you don’t need a lot of details, just a few.
  3. He speaks slowly and pauses between words. His audience uses this time to paint a picture in their heads — if he spoke too quickly, or used a lot of filler words (ahh, emm, etc), the audience would have no time to paint pictures, and his speech would be boring.

One more thing: Notice that he gets his audience’s attention first, and then he starts using his slides. Remember that you almost always, always, compete with your slides for attention.

Oh, and notice that when he starts using his slides, he starts talking even slower. He knows that if he throws too much data at his audience, they’ll absorb nothing.

By the way, this scene is Don Draper from the show Mad Men. It’s one of my favorite scenes from TV. The presentation only lasts about two minutes, but it’s one of the best presentation examples I’ve ever seen — timing, pacing, imagery, storytelling, communications efficiency, etc, almost everything is in there.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Extracting Previously Embedded Media Files in Keynote

[twocol_one]You may have used a certain image, music or video in a previous Keynote presentation but you might no longer have access to that media to use it on your current project. If you still have the Keynote presentation that contains that specific media, you can reach out to that individual file. Here is how:

  1. Locate the original Keynote that contains the media file you want access to.
  2. Duplicate the Keynote file (Command +D)
  3. Add the “.zip” extension to the newly duplicated Keynote file. (When prompted if you are sure, select “Use .zip”)
  4. You will see the Keynote file magically turn into a zipped file.
  5. Uncompress the zipped file by double clicking. This will create a new folder with the same name, housing all the files you used in the presentation, as well as some Keynote specific system files.

Voila! All the media files should be in a subfolder called DATA, where your favorite music, image and video files await for you.[/twocol_one]

[twocol_one_last]Check out this short video showing how to apply these steps:

Or refer to these screenshots for step-by-step instructions:
[go_portfolio id=”keynote_extraction”]
[/twocol_one_last]

About Alper Rozanes

Alper graduated from Baruch College in New York with a degree in management information systems. He loves to cook (his specialty is oven-baked honey mustard salmon). Among his other hobbies are tennis, bowling, and jumping from known flying objects at 10.000 feet.

HGOMM

The five components of a story:

  1. Hero
  2. Goal
  3. Obstacle
  4. Mentor
  5. Moral…

HGOMM

Thanks, Copyblogger, for making one of the simplest explanations of the components of a story I’ve ever seen.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: Presentations Are Not About Informing

According to Jesse Scinto…

“A lot of people think presentations are about informing, but here’s the problem with that view…”

“Audience members remember very little of what they hear in a presentation.”

“If the purpose really is to inform, then consider writing a document that you can leave with people.”

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Transcript:

Jesse: A lot of people think that presentations are about informing but, here’s the problem with that view. As I mentioned just a little while ago audience members remember very little of what they hear in a presentation. It’s just not humanly possible to remember that much, and people should know this from their own experience. You can walk away from a presentation thinking that was great, but you’re not going to remember any of the numbers that we put on the screen.

Matt: That’s completely true.

Jesse: Yeah. If you need people to remember those numbers there’s a better way to do it which is to give them a document to take away. A document that they can refer to whenever they need to, they can go back and reread. When we’re speaking we basically give the audience one shot to get the message. If they missed something they can’t go back, they can’t rewind, they can’t flip back. Again, the purpose really is to inform then consider writing a document that you can leave with people.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: Commitment Must Be Physical and Public

Here Jesse and Matt are talking about Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, particularly about the importance of audience members making their commitments physical and public, and how we can do that in a presentation…

“One thing that every presentation should have is a call to action.”

“Make your call to action immediate and physical.”

“Get people to say specifically an action they are going to take when they leave the room.”

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Transcript:

Matt: One thing that he mentioned is that it is very important for the show of commitment to be physical and public. Could you tell us a little bit more about that. You mentioned some very physical activities like raising your hand or handing somebody a piece of paper with a URL on it. These are very physical activities. That’s pretty important, isn’t it?

Jesse: It is extremely important. One thing that every presentation should have is a call to action. You want your audience to do something when you they get done listening to you. You should think carefully about what you want them to do, because if they take that action they are going to be committing to your way of looking at things. Let’s say we have to get up and give a quarterly report on profits, on revenues, the action might not be obvious. We might be thinking that I’m just informing my colleagues about our revenues. I would argue that there is no such thing as an informative presentation. Our point is never to inform, the point is always to get action. With something like the quarterly revenues, maybe the action is – I’m going to share some highlights from the revenues report, I would really love it if you would read the report. At the end of the presentation you hand out the report. The action that you are asking is for the audience to engage more with the report that you’ve made. If you can make your call to action immediate and physical, it’s all the better.

In other words, if you say, if you are at the end of your presentation and say, when you get home look up this website. Chances are people aren’t going to look up the website. If you hand them a take away with the URL on it, they are more likely to look it up. They will at least have that piece of paper at home and then three weeks later they might stumble across it and think, oh, I’ll look this up, and then they are continuing to engage with your message. One of the big challenges we have is that people remember very little from spoken presentations.

They might remember one or two points, so we need to give them a way to continue to engage with our message and we need to be able to continue persuading them after we get done talking. Handouts, pledges, URLs to be visited, raising of hands, anything that is physical. Ask for input from the audience and ask people to tell their own stories or ask them what they think they could do. What can you do when you leave the room to help move us forward on this. You get people to say specifically an action that they are going to take when they leave the room. Again, like you said that public declaration is really effective for keeping people on task.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: Commitment and Consistency

Matt and Jesse discuss a chapter from Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, specifically the human desire to seem logical and consistent, and how we can use this natural human desire to persuade our audiences…

Using commitment and consistency in a presentation:

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Transcript:

Matt: There’s this book, it’s by this guy Robert Cialdini.

Jesse: A classic.

Matt: Yeah so the book is called Influence, it’s a classic and when was that book written? That book was written in the 1980s, wasn’t it?

Jesse: Yeah, I think it was around ’86 or so.

Matt: Yeah, and in one of the chapters, I think it’s chapter three. He talks about commitment and consistency.

Jesse: Yeah.

Matt: What does that mean, commitment and consistency?

Jesse: Great question. Consistency has to do with the fact that by nature, humans feel that it’s necessary to be consistent, because when we’re consistent with our actions they seem to be logical. It’s consistent actions, always choosing the same thing, doing things the same way, and trying not to contradict ourselves. If we contradict ourselves we’ll look to others like we’re being illogical, so we want to be Steady Eddies as we say in the United States. We want to show people that we can be reliable.

The way this comes in in persuasion is that if you can get someone to commit to something, to commit to seeing things your way, then it’s more likely once they’ve made a public commitment, it’s more likely that they’re going to continue to commit to that same behavior or action or attitude, simply because of the fact they’ve already announced to others that they’ve committed to it.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and Lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: The Credibility of Being Human

Jesse and Matt discuss Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, specifically Grant’s concept of the power of powerless speech.

“When our audience can see that we have flaws, it really helps them identify with us.”

“You can’t learn anything from Superman.”

“The word expert and the word experience have the same Latin root.”

“You don’t become an expert by avoiding problems.”

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Transcript:

Jesse: I’m going to add something which is that there’s this idea that’s been researched and that Adam Grant talks about in his book Give and Take, a notion called the power of powerless speech. That sometimes when we look human or when our audience can see that we have flaws, it really helps them identify with us. That therefore makes our message more acceptable to them, they’re more willing to hear our message because we seem human. You can’t learn anything from Superman, someone who has no flaws or faults, someone who overcomes each adversity with ease. There’s not too much you can learn from that person because they’re unrelatable.

When we reveal some of our shortcomings or flaws, we really invite the audience in to identify with us, to go through the experiences the way that we did and to find a human solution to human problems. There’s this idea that I toy around with sometimes, in English the word for expert and the word for experience have the same Latin root. An expert is someone who has had experiences, some of those experiences are good and some of them are bad but you need both to become an expert. You don’t become an expert by avoiding problems, you become an expert by facing them and trying different things and giving yourself permission to fail sometimes. It doesn’t matter so much if you fail, what matters is if you get back up again and try again.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: “Progressive Complications” — What It Means

Jesse tells us what “progressive complications” are, where they come from, and how to use them in our presentations…

“If you can arrange your presentation in that kind of fashion [using progressive complications], it’s really gripping for an audience.”

“One of the reasons [progressive complication] is gripping is they [the audience] are going to assume you have a solution, that’s why you’re there talking to them.”

“If [the audience] can hear how you got there [to the solution], then maybe that saves them a little bit of difficulty in their own life.”

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Transcript:

Matt: I have one more question related to your hooked seminar.

Jesse: Okay.

Matt: You mentioned the phrase, “Progressive Complications,” you remember that?

Jesse: Yes.

Matt: Okay, progressive complications, what does that mean?

Jesse: That’s a great phrase that I borrowed from Robert McKee, who is a well-known, screenwriting coach. Hollywood screenwriting coach. Progressive complications means that, in a presentation, let’s say you do a 20-minute presentation, you might talk about the ups and downs of the process that you went through to find a successful conclusion. For instance, let’s say you’re doing research and development. With the presentation, you might talk about how you went down one road, and it wasn’t a success. So, then you tried another road, and that wasn’t a success. Then you tried a third road, and that finally was a success. Those are progressive complications in that, when we take an action in the world, we are expecting a certain result. When we don’t get the result that we want, we have to try harder. We have to dig deeper. If you could arrange your presentation in that kind of a fashion, then it’s really gripping for an audience.

One of the reasons that it’s really gripping is, they’re going to assume that you have a solution or conclusion, that’s why you’re there talking to them. So, they’re not going to be worried about whether they’re going to get to a good place. They’re going to assume it’s coming, but, they really want to know how you got there. If they can hear how you got there, then maybe that saves them a little bit of difficulty in their own life. So, the ups and downs, when you string them together in progressive complications, then, what you do is, you build engagement from the audience. They can sense that they’re getting closer and closer to the solution, and they’re still not sure what it is. It’s just an effective way to transmit a lesson to your audience and keep them engaged while they’re listening.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: What Benefit Am I Going to Get?

Often, our clients feel like if they talk about conflict or problems in their presentations, their audiences won’t respect them. It feels kind of risky. We asked Jesse about this. If a speaker takes the risk, what is the speaker going to get in return?

“The benefit that you get is a better connection with your audience.”

“A story generally isn’t interesting without a complication.”

“When we’re listening to other people we’re looking for ways to handle life’s challenges.”

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Transcript:

Matt: One thing that you mentioned in your seminar at Columbia, you mentioned the conflict resolution thing. You know talk about a conflict and then talk about a resolution. Talk about a conflict and then talk about a resolution. I’m kind of worried. The risk is, I think that my audience they’re going to think that I’m a loser if I keep talking about this conflict and stuff. It feels kind of risky for me. If I take this risk what am I going to, what benefit am I going to get?

Jesse: Fantastic question. The benefit that you get is a better connection with your audience. You seem more real, more human. When you seem more human … I mean because humans face challenges. Humans have difficulties every day. Okay maybe some days are good. No but seriously they can be small difficulties or big difficulties. One of the stories I told in my seminar was about how I go to the grocery store and the cashier always double bags my groceries and-

Matt: Yeah I like it. It’s the one where you go home and then you tell Diane and she’s only moderately interested but then you say well maybe she’ll file it away for future reference. Is that the-

Jesse: Yeah. Absolutely. Some of the stories, some of the experiences we have are small and not that important overall and others are more meaningful. The fact is that we encounter challenges every day. We by nature put them into story format when we tell other people. Then people react with their own stories. I tell Diane that story and maybe she has a similar story that she wants to tell. It’s really interesting to pay attention just in every day life when you’re talking to friends or associates. To hear how they respond to a story. That they’re often times waiting for you to finish so that they can tell you what happened to them.

I mean back to the complication resolution thing. A story generally isn’t interesting without a complication because what people want to know is what can they learn from our experiences. We all want to reduce our costs. Right? If we can learn something without having a bitter experience, learning the hard way, then that’s fantastic. That really reduces our cost of learning. When we’re listening to other people we’re learning, we’re looking for ways to learn how to handle life’s challenges. That is what increases the value of our messages. Is that if we show the complication, talk about what we struggled with first, and then how we over came it. Assuming you’ve overcome the challenge, then you’re not a loser. You’ve learned something through the experience.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: Example of A Story About Corporate Restructuring

Jesse demonstrates how to tell a story about a corporate restructuring.

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Transcript:

Matt: … But instead, let’s do an example of a story about a restructuring. How could you tell a story about that?

Jesse: First of all, a lot of times, people are reluctant to include negative information in a presentation. In other words, if your organization had a restructuring at the beginning of the year and then by the end of the year, that restructuring was successful and now you’re making profits again, people feel reluctant to talk about the past and what happened and to just focus on the positive things. Profits are way up. Everyone should be happy. When you do that, it’s like there’s an elephant in the room. Everyone in the organization knows that this restructuring happened.

All change has an emotional component to it and if you avoid the emotional component, if you avoid the negative parts of the story, then you leave people with the sense that you’ve left something out. It actually ends up hurting your credibility because everyone knows that these challenging things happened in the workplace. If you try to gloss over it and pretend that it didn’t happen, then you don’t seem honest to people that you’re speaking with.

What we’re talking about in terms of storytelling would be a presentation that acknowledges the tough times that happened earlier in the year. Yes, we lost a client. We were forced to restructure. We had to let 20 percent of our staff go. That restructuring was ultimately successful. We came out of that leaner and more capable of servicing the clients that we have. And because of that, our profits are way up.

You can still include your data or your statistics about how the business is doing, but you also include the story about what you’ve gone through together as an organization. It’s an opportunity not only to acknowledge the feelings of the audience and to show yourself as a human being, but it’s also an opportunity to let the audience understand what you’ve learned and how you learned it. What did you learn from this restructuring? There should be some lessons in there. It should have served a purpose. If your profits are up at the end of the year, that means that you definitely did learn something and did something right in that restructuring. Give people context. That context goes a long way.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: Using Stories in a Business Context

One of our clients asked us how to tell stories in a business context. Jesse gives a great answer about that…

“When we’re talking about stories in a business context, we’re not talking about fables or fairy tales.”

“It’s a matter of how we organize our content.”

“We tend to file our knowledge away in the form of stories.”

“The big benefit in using stories in the workplace is that it’s a natural way for people to learn.”

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Transcript:

Matt: I understand the power of stories. When I tell a story to my daughter at bedtime, she loves it, but I’m a banker at work, and if I go up in front of a bunch of other bankers, and I start out my presentation with a story like once upon a time in a land far far away, there was this beautiful princess and this brave knight riding around on a big horse, they’re going to think I’m crazy. Can I use stories in a business presentation context?

Jesse: Yeah, this is a great question, because when we talk about using stories in a business context, we’re not talking about fables or fairy tales. In fact, what we’re talking about usually is true stories, and they can be stories about things that people within the organization have experienced together. For instance, a challenging client, or a restructuring of the organization, or they could be stories about true experiences that we’ve had outside of the organization, but that we think our colleagues will benefit from. I think that’s a great question. It’s not necessarily fiction. In fact, most of the time we’ll be telling nonfiction stories, but it’s a matter of how we organize our content, and story telling is a very useful way for people to learn, because we tend to file most of our knowledge away in the form of stories.

We tell stories all day long to each other. Every incident that happens to us during the day. If it’s memorable, we make a story out of it, and usually the stories are short. A minute, a minute and a half, but that’s how we relate to other people. The big benefit in using stories in the workplace is that it’s a natural way for people to learn. It’s very natural for people to listen to a problem that you encountered, and to hear your resolution. That type of structuring of content will bring up thoughts in your audience. It will help them remember what you’re saying. It will give them something useful, because they’ll see how you’ve overcome the challenge.

[hide]
Jesse had some more to say about using stories in a business context:

Other things he talked about:

[/hide]

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Jesse Scinto: Complication and Resolution

Jesse describes a more interesting way to structure your information, one that will keep your audience’s attention better…

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Transcript:

Jesse: Most of us learn a pretty straight forward logical form of structuring our information where we have a thesis, some supporting evidence and a conclusion. It could be more interesting and your audiences attention better if you organize your information into a problem and solution structure or a complication and resolution structure.

Jesse Scinto is a public speaking expert and lecturer in the Strategic Communications Department at Columbia University in New York.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Why Watch Videos of Yourself

There are a lot of reasons to watch videos of yourself practicing. Watching videos of yourself helps you improve your body language. It helps you improve your content, and it helps you improve your opening and closing.

But mainly, watching videos of yourself helps you get out of your head.

Watching yourself on video, watching yourself from the outside, is a reminder that the noise going on inside your head is almost never, NEVER, the same as the noise going on inside the heads of your audience.

You might be feeling really nervous. You might even feel like vomiting or fainting. But your audience is probably not thinking about any of those things.

And remember, when you are presenting, what’s going on inside the audience’s heads is more important than what’s going on inside your head.

So it doesn’t matter if you’re nervous. The only thing that matters is this: “Is your audience getting something out of your presentation?”

And if the answer to that is yes, you can relax, because, remember, your presentation isn’t about you.

It’s about your audience, and they only want to be able to answer “yes” if someone asks them, “Did you get something out of that presentation?”

They only want to answer “yes,” and your only job is to give them something they can say “yes” to.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Turkish or English?

It’s a good question: Should I do my training in Turkish or in English?

The best way to answer that question is probably to ask yourself, “What do I ultimately want to be able to do?”

For example, if your ultimate goal is to give presentations in English, whether to visiting foreigners or at international conferences in other countries, you should probably do the training in English.

Yes, it will probably be harder that way, at least at the beginning.

However, when you’re done, you’ll be able to say to yourself proudly, “I took presentation training in English.”

And down the road, when your boss asks you to give a presentation in English, you’ll be a lot less nervous, because you’ll be thinking, “I did presentation training in English, and I lived to tell about it!”

And then, when you’re getting ready for those international conferences, you’ll want advanced training, and that training will be in English (because your presentation will be in English), and you’ll get more out of that training, because you will have already begun your training in English in the past.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Brevity

Brevity is vital. But one thing that often gets lost is that brevity is not enough. If you can’t quickly articulate to an executive why he/she should care about your presentation, brevity won’t save you.

When people talk about a flood of information, what they usually mean is that there’s a flood of information they don’t care about.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Why listen over and over

Since I work in Istanbul, I run into a lot of people who are learning English. They often ask me for some tips.

They often look at me, slightly puzzled, and ask, “Why would that help? In real life, people don’t repeat their words 5 times.”

That’s true. But this is not real life. You are learning a new skill.

And if you listen to one thing once, and don’t understand, and then listen to something different, and don’t understand, and then listen to a another new thing, and don’t understand, what are you training your brain to do?

You are training your brain to hear English and say, “I don’t understand English.”

However, if you listen to the same 3 minutes, 5 times, and each time you hear a little bit more, what are you training your brain to say? “When I hear English, it’s familiar.”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Hands When You’re Sitting

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Visualize Your Words in a Tag Cloud

A couple weeks ago I wrote about looking to see what grade level you’re speaking at.

Here’s another neat tip for seeing your speech from another perspective: put it into a tag cloud:

Go to the website, paste your text into the text box, click “Visualize!”, and see your words in tag cloud format.

TagCrowd is just one of many sites offering this service for free. Go to Google and type “free tag cloud generator.”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Get them to agree with you first

Sometimes you’re speaking about a hotly-debated topic, something that not everyone in the room agrees with you about.

Here’s a tip for those situations: Before you talk about the hot issue, get the audience to agree with you on something else.

Two professors, one from Toronto and one from Hong Kong, did a study. They showed participants an unrelated political video (like a speech by Barack Obama or John McCain), and then they showed them a video of a Toyota ad.

They found that Democrats were more likely to be persuaded by the Toyota ad after watching the Obama speech, and Republicans were more likely to be persuaded after the McCain speech.

“Agreeable” is a mood. Put your audience in the mood to agree, and they are more likely to keep agreeing with you.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Ira Glass interviews

Below are four videos, and a transcript, of an interview with a famous radio presenter in the US, Ira Glass. He speaks about storytelling, the importance of being yourself, and the difficulty of the early days, when you know what “good” is, but you’re not there yet:

The videos:

The transcript:

Video one:

One of the things I think is really important if you’re making stories for television or radio is that you understand the buiding blocks of the stories, and there are different ways to think about this. One of the things that you don’t want to do is, you don’t want to do it the way you learned about it in high school. Which is in high school the way that we’re all taught is that the way that you write is that there’s a topic sentence, and then there’s like the fact that fill out the argument.

In broadcasting it’s completely different. In broadcasting you basically have two building blocks, and they are very powerful, and you can use them as you will.

One is the anecdote. And an anecdote is literally just a sequence of actions. If you think of it as, what is a story in its purest form.

A story in its purest form is someone saying, this happened, and that led to this next thing, and that led to this next thing, and that led to this next thing. Like one thing following another. And some of the things in that sequence can be, and that made me think of this, and then I said this, and there can be thoughts, and ideas, as part of it, but one is leading to the next is leading to the next.

And the power of the anecdote is so great that in a way no matter how boring the material is, if it’s in a story form where there’s an anecdote happening, and then he said this to me, and then I went here, and I went downstairs and I thought, like, what the hell, like, it has a momentum in and of itself, that no matter how boring the facts are… I’m trying to think (blah blah)…

Like okay, if you try to think of the most boring possible story…

Okay, there’s a guy, and, uh, he wakes up, and uh, and he’s lying in bed and the house is very, very quiet. Just unearthly quiet. And so he sits up, and he puts his feet on the floor, and he walks to the door of his bedroom, and again, it’s just very very quiet. Walks down the stairs, looks around. Just unusually quiet.

What I’m telling you is the most boring possible fact pattern, and yet there’s suspense in it, it feels like something’s going to happen.

And the reason why is because, literally, it’s a sequence of events, like, this guy’s doing this thing, he’s moving from place to place, you can feel, through its form, that when you have one thing leading to the next leading to the next, you can feel inherently that you’re on a train that has a destination, and that he’s going to find something.

And so one of the most powerful things you have to figure out is like, do you just start with the action, or, should just start with the action, and generally, you want to start with the action. Or you often do.

So that’s one of your building blocks.

The other thing that little anecdote has is it’s raising a question from the beginning, and that’s the other thing that you want, is you want bait.

You want to constantly be raising questions.

So in that little story the bait is that the house is very quiet, and so the question hanging in the air is “why?”

And it’s implied that any question you raise, you’re going to answer.

And so again, that’s another thing you want to manipulate. You want to be constantly raising question and answering them. From the beginning of the story.

And the whole shape of a story is that you’re throwing out questions to keep people watching or listening, and answering them along the way.

Okay, so you have the building block, which is the actual sequence of actions. The anecdote part of it, the this thing happened, and then this thing, and then this thing. That’s one building block.

Then the other big building block, your other tool, is that you have a moment of reflection. And by that I mean at some point somebody’s gotta say, “here’s why the hell you’re listening to this story,” like here’s the point of the story, here’s the bigger something that we’re driving at, here’s why I’m wasting your time with all this.

And one of the things that’s very, very unfortunate for people who are launching into the kinds of jobs that all the people who are making videopods are launching into, one of the things that so very sad, and it’s like, the bane of my existence, and it’s the bane of anybody’s existence who does this kind of work, is that often you know, you have the two parts of the structure, you’ve got the anecdote and then you’ve got the moment of reflection, and often, you’ll have an anecdote that just kills, it’s just so interesting, like this thing happens, and it leads to the next, and it leads to the next, and it’s so surprising, and so many things happen, and you meet these great characters, and it means absolutely nothing. Like it just, it’s just completely predictable, it doesn’t tell you anything new.

And so that’s one huge problem.

And the other huge problem is you’ve got a kind of boring set of facts, or a boring story, right, that somebody kind of has something interesting to say about it.

And so actually I think a lot of us, when we’re beginning, we get caught in the problem of, we know we’ve got something here, we know that there’s something here that’s kind of compelling, but it just doesn’t seem to be coming together, and often, it’s your job to be kind of ruthless, and understand that either you don’t have a sequence of actions, you don’t have the story part that works, or you don’t have a moment of reflection that works.

And you’re going to need both.

And in a good story you’re going to flip back and forth between the two. A little bit of action, and then someone will say something about it, and then there’ll be a little more action, and then someone will say something.

And that’s really a lot of the trick of the whole thing. You know, is to have the perseverance that if you’ve got an interesting anecdote, that you can also end up with a moment of reflection that will support it, and then the two together, interwoven, and you know, three minutes, or six minutes, or however long your story is, will make something that’s larger than the sum of its parts.

Video two:

Like one of the things that I think is really hard that nobody ever tells you if you want to do creative work is how hard it is to actually find a decent story. And I think that we all think that the real work of it is that I’m going to go out and shoot the thing, and then I’m going to sit and edit it, and I’m going to write it, and I’m going to put music under it, and whatever, and that’s going to be where the time is, but often, and people don’t really tell you this, often the amount of time finding a decent story is more than the amount of time it takes to produce the story.

And that as somebody who wants to do creative work, you actually have to set aside just as much time for the looking for stories.

I mean, I work on a national radio show, and we don’t follow the news or anything, all we do is look for interesting stories, and there’s seven of us, or eight of us now. And I’ve got to say that more than half of our week is simply engaged in the looking for stories, and then trying stuff out.

And like, we’re really good at our jobs. We’re as good as anybody who does this kind of thing. And I gotta say, we [something] around a lot of stories, and between a half and a third of everything we try, we’ll go out and we’ll get the tape, and then we kill it.

And you should think of it the same way. That like, you know, you thought it was going to be good, you went out and did the interview, the person wasn’t such a great talker, they weren’t so funny, they weren’t so emotional, somehow when they told it to you in person with the camera it wasn’t the way they told you when they talked on the phone beforehand, they just got a little intimidated with the camera, just something in the chemistry was wrong, you can’t even name what it is, and why even bother to try.

But then when you look at the footage you know that there’s a feeling that you had about it, which isn’t in the footage. Right?

And then, it’s time, at that point, to be the ambitious, super-achieving person who you’re going to be, and to kill it.

It’s time to kill.

And it’s time to enjoy the killing.

Because by killing, you will make something else even better live. And I think that not enough gets said about the importance of abandoning crap.

And one thing you should know is that all video production is trying to be crap. Like, in fact, our radio production is trying to be crap.

Basically, it’s like the laws of entropy, you know, that thing like, where all the energy in the universe is dissipating, and like, all the atoms are getting lower and lower in energy, well, basically, anything that you put on tape, from the moment that you put it on tape, like, basically, it’s trying to be really bad. It’s trying to be unstructured, it’s trying to be pointless, it’s trying to be boring, it’s trying to be digressive. Much like these sentences that I’m saying right here.

And pretty much, you have to prop it up aggressively at every stage of the way if it’s going to be any good. You have to be like really a killer about getting rid of the boring parts and going right to the parts that are going to your heart.

And you just have to be ruthless if anything is going to be good.

Things that are really good are really good because people are being really tough, and you’re going to be really tough in doing it.

And you’re going to know also that like failure is a big part of, um, success. I sound like some Michael Jordan ad, but like, you’re going to run a lot of stuff, and it’s going to go nowhere, and you should be happy about that.

If you’re doing that, you’re doing it right. If you’re not failing all the time, you’re not creating a situation where you can get super lucky.

And basically, like a lot of video and radio production, a lot of broadcasting, is just in the purest way, about luck.

Like really you just want to be in a situation where you’re doing enough material, where you’re doing enough interviews every week, where like, you have put yourself on a schedule, so that you know that every week you’re going to interview somebody about something, and through that, once a month, maybe once every six weeks, you’re going to stumble on somebody who is so compelling, and a story that’s so great, that it makes those other five weeks worth it.

And, I don’t know, it’s like people don’t talk about this that much. You have to kind of go into it knowing that you’ve got to record, and get rid of, a lot of crap, before you’re going to get to anything that’s special. And you don’t want to be making mediocre stuff. You know what I mean, that’s not why anybody gets into this. The only reason why you want to do this is because you want to make something that’s so memorable it’s special. And that’s what you want to do.

Video three:

…nobody tells people who are beginners… and I really wish somebody had told this to me, is that if you’re watching this video, you are somebody who wants to make videos, right?

And all of us who do creative work, we get into it, and we get into it because we have good taste.

Do you know what I mean? I mean, you want to make TV because you love TV. You know what I mean, because there’s just stuff that you love. Okay? So you’ve got really good taste.

And you get into this thing, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s like there’s a gap, that for the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great, it’s really not that great.

It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer.

And your taste is still good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. You know what I mean? Like, you can tell that it’s still kind of crappy.

A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people they quit.

And the thing I would just, like, say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting, creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste, and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short, and like, some of us could admit that to ourselves, and some of us were a little bit less able to admit that to ourselves.

But we knew it didn’t have this special thing that we wanted it to have.

And the thing [something] is, everybody goes through that.

And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, or if you’re just getting out of that phase, or if you’re just starting off and you’re entering into that phase, you gotta know it’s totally normal, and the most important possible thing you could do, is do a lot of work.

Do a huge volume of work.

Put yourself on a deadline, so every week, or every month, you know you’re going to finish one story, you know what I mean?

Whatever it’s going to be. You create the deadline.

It’s best if you have somebody who’s waiting for work from you, somebody who’s expecting it from you.

Even if it’s not somebody who pays you. But that you’re in a situation where you have to turn in the work.

Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you’re actually going to catch up and close that gap, and the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.

In my case, like, I do a national radio show. I make my living at this, I’ve made my living at this for a long time. And won the Peabody award, won all sorts of prizes, like, 1.7 million people listen to our show, and they listen almost to the entire show. People love our show, right? Like, the show that I make with my coworkers.

And so I’m in a place where I’m, like, I’m done, right, I’ve mastered this thing.

But I’ve gotta tell you, like, I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I’ve ever met.

I’m going to play you a clip of tape from my 8th year, like I started at public radio when I was 19, at NPR’s headquarters in Washington, so this is like a big new organization, I had a really peachy set of jobs.

And, like, I was always a good tape cutter, but I was a horrible reporter. I was horrible at the thing you’re setting out to do with these videopods.

And so this is a tape from year 8…

“It’s not such a long way from the local grocery store to the international debate over whether sorghum and meat production are causing corn to decline in Latin America.”

Alright, that debate. We were talking about that at dinner…

“There’s a general air of prosperity here. Partly due to Mexican imports of US grains, which helped boost our farm economy. Mexico is now one of our biggest grain customers, buy a half billion to a billion dollars-worth every year, including corn to feed its people, and sorghum to feed its livestock.”

Like, what am I talking about? Like, I wrote this, I don’t even understand what it is. And every part of this is ill-conceived, okay?

The writing is horrible. You can’t even follow what I’m talking about. And then the performance, just a little tidbit if you’re performing for broadcast, you don’t underline every third word for emphasis, because it sounds really unnatural. What you want to do is you want to talk the way people normally talk.

“This helps cut our own trade deficit, and benefits everyone in the US economy.

“But in Mexico this policy has led to fewer tortillas for the poor, and unappetizing tortillas for everyone else.”

Again, like, this is like the most moronic kind of, like it doesn’t mean anything. And it’s hard, it’s actually kind of an interesting story, which I’ll say to you in a sentence, which is, because Mexico produces a lot of stuff that they ship to the United States… tomatoes, and all sorts of really wonderful food that we eat here, they don’t make enough corn for their own people.

That’s the story.

So we, for us to get really great tomatoes, or semi-great tomatoes year round, basically, Mexicans eat worse. That’s the story.

And it’s kind of an interesting idea, right?

Like that’s sort of actually a cool idea.

Executed in the worst possible way.

So this is like year 8. I’m 27 years old when this is happening, like, I’m not a beginner. I’m deep, deep into it.

It takes a while. It’s going to take you a while, and you just have to fight your way through that.

You will be fierce, and you will be a warrior, and you will make things that aren’t, you know in your heart, as good as you want them to be. And you’ll just make one after another.

Video four:

…there are two real errors that beginners make, and I certainly made when I was first making stuff.

And one is, in a way it’s a really dumb error, and we’ve all seen TV, and the first time we get a camera, or a tape recorder, we want to sound and act just like the people we’ve seen on TV.

And so we’ve all seen really bad videos of people who talk like people on TV.

And just, like, when I was first on the radio, I tried to talk like somebody on the radio. And of course, everything is going to be more compelling.

It’s just like one of the laws of broadcasting: everything will be more compelling the more you just talk like a human being.

Just talk like yourself.

Like, your cable channel, they already have the real Ted Koppel. Ted Koppel is already on TV. They don’t need you imitating Ted Koppel.

There’s a real Ted Koppel on the same TV you’re going to be on, right?

And so the more you are actually your own self, the better off you are.

But this brings you to the second problem, which is that often people submit stories to our radio show which show that they have a horrible personality. Which is to say they are somebody who only talks about themselves. And when somebody’s got a good personality, it’s like somebody’s who good in a conversation. They talk amusingly and interestingly about themselves for a while, and then they let the other person talk for a while, because they’re interested in other people, and they’re interested in the world.

And so, you know, in a good story, you’re going to get both. Most of the story is going to be about whoever’s life it is you’re trying to document, right? Like most of it’s going to be about them. But you’ll be in there too, as a particular person saying, like, what the hell are you talking about, or like, I didn’t think it would go like that, or just whatever, you know, like, you’re going to be in there as a clear personality.

But I think for a lot of stories, for most stories and kind of like a documentary fashion, like for a lot of stories, like, you know, another person is going to be the main character of the story.

But even if it’s a first-person story, documenting your life, what’s interesting isn’t just like your take on things, it’s seeing you interact with other people. Seeing other people through your eyes.

And seeing the other people you have to deal with.

Like you want both things. Otherwise there’s no drama.

What’s really interesting, like, it’s a drama, you get people interacting, and conflicting, liking each other, hating each other, and like, laughing. You want all the things that happen between people. And that’s not going to work if there’s too much of your interviewee, and none of you.

And it’s not going to work if there’s too much of you, and not enough of the other people. There’s not enough characters to make a drama.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

3 Presentation Ruiners (And How to Deal With Them)

Getting up in front of people and speaking may not always be as easy as strolling in a park on a warm Sunday afternoon. Sometimes, it may feel more like a bigger challenge you find yourself immersed in.

Our experience with our clients show that, people are usually afraid of making one, two or all of 3 familiar and most common presentation mistakes when they start speaking in front of an audience. Like with almost everything in life, these mistakes come with good news and bad news.

The bad news is, that they have the potential to destroy a presentation into pieces in an instant. All your work may go down the drain in a matter of seconds, and what’s worse, is that you’ll be given a front-row seat to witness it happening right before you.

The good news though, is that every single one of these 3 undesired situations are completely preventable. It just requires just a small trick.

Here are the 3 most common presentation ruiners:

1) Anxiety
It is almost certain that you will feel a bit anxious before any kind of an audience. But when your level of anxiety exceeds manageable levels, uncontrolled body movements, forgetting what to say next, and even temporary stuterring may come into the picture. It’s a downward spiral, and unfortunately many of us have been there before. It is very difficult situation to recover from.

Know that it is perfectly normal to feel nervous or uneasy before you walk in front of an audience and try to deliver your best performance. But also know that, presentation is mostly a rehearsed performance. Also, you usually know beforehand when you will be delivering a speech on what subject. Take the time to craft your speech and practice enough times. Without being an extreme pessimist, try to imagine the ways your presentation can go wrong. Then, come up with recovery strategies that you can apply on the spot. Try to remember that taking a deep breath has a calming and almost “resetting” effect on your body. Use it frequently before and during your presentations and you’ll keep your stress levels low.

2) Communication Accidents
Yes, we all have been involved in one of these accidents as well. Sometimes we were the guilty party, sometimes we were just innocently passing by. These communication accidents may range from minor fender-bender collisions to unexpected total losses. And all it takes is one word, one sentence, one phrase that may come out of our mouth. Our intenion may be well natured, but depending on the situation, the outcome may turn out to be quite disastrous. Many political leaders do these kinds of gaffes or blunders all the time. Luckily for them, they have large PR agencies or expert speech writers behind, guiding them in the next clever move. We may have no instant access to such vital resources during our next presentation. Therefore, it is important to know how to handle, or better yet, how not to cause a communication accident in the first place.

If you find yourself involved in such an accident, remain calm. As long as you are there with good intentions, people will give you a chance to re-explain yourself and clarify any misunderstandings. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from simply saying these words: “I’m sorry.” (Remember to take a deep breath before and after. It really helps!)

In order to prevent these encounters in the first place, again, writing down and practicing our presentation many times helps us tremendously. Gaffes and blunders technically require that we don’t know exactly what we’ll be saying next. Investing the time to rehearse our speech many times gives us the comfort of knowing where we are in our speech at any moment. We know what’s coming next. We know our upcoming sentences.

3) Rushing
Einstein once said that time is relative. We couldn’t agree more. When we take the stage in front of people, soon we realize that the time we think has passed is way different than reality. Sometimes it is slower, sometimes it is faster. For example, you see that although you are halfway through your 10 minute speech and think that you have been on the stage for 5 minutes. In reality though, it has been a whole nine minutes, and you only have a very small amount of time to finish. When this happens, speakers usually tend to start speaking faster, much much faster, and this helps nothing but distract the audience and disconnect you from them.

If you find yourself in this situation, remain calm. Take a deep breath as always. Then, quickly scan your material to see which parts you can skip. But do not do this by fast forwarding the presentation and saying things like “Well, we are over time and we actually didn’t need these slides in the beginning.” It shows that you haven’t prepared enough. It also makes the audience to question why those slides were there in the first place if you didn’t need them. Instead, if you know the number of the slide you want to land on, you can enter it on the keyboard during the presentation and hit Enter key. The software will directly take you to that slide jumping the ones in between. (Both PowerPoint and Keynote support this feature.)

To prevent this situation from happening in the first place, we strongly advise to rehearse your presentation while timing yourself simultaneously. For example, if you will be delivering a 20 minute speech, set a timer for 20 minutes but do not stop if you go overtime. Let the clock run, finish your presentation, and see how much overtime you are. Then, trim your presentation accordingly, and this time use a stopwatch to see how long your presentation will take. Also, in order to prevent becoming a time relativity victim on the stage, make sure you practice around 25 times before getting up on the stage. This way, you will both get very, very familiar with your subject, and you will also know exactly how long your speech takes. Remember, that the audience will not yell at you for speaking 3-4 minutes short of the allotted time, but they will not be very fond of you if you keep talking and going overtime.

These presentation mistakes are very common. And, you might remember that we talked about a small trick to prevent them. The trick is practicing and rehearsing your presentation. And again… And again… And again…

We probably couldn’t stress this enough, but we are quite serious about it. For other reasons behind, watch Matt’s video on Practicing 25 Times here.

About Alper Rozanes

Alper graduated from Baruch College in New York with a degree in management information systems. He loves to cook (his specialty is oven-baked honey mustard salmon). Among his other hobbies are tennis, bowling, and jumping from known flying objects at 10.000 feet.

Good First Impression Tips #1

When you connect your computer to the projector before starting a presentation, what does your audience see first? Do they see a neat and tidy computer desktop with a regular wallpaper? Do they see a cluttered desktop with a lot of icons on top of your two year old niece’s selife?

It is commonly accepted that we only have one chance of making a good first impression. When we walk up to the stage, even before start speaking, our audience will be evaluating everything there is to us. And when we connect our computer and our desktop is displayed on the screen, it will be only natural for the audience members to scan who resides on our desktops. It may not be the right thing to do, but we all do it anyway. Even worse, we may end up revealing some confidental information if we have on our desktop file names that include our other clients.

To start with, take a look at the two desktop views below:

Which of these desktop views you think would give a more professional impression? Probably the tidy one, right? Here are two quick tips to achieve this look if are running into a last minute presentation with your niece’s photo on your cluttered computer screen.

  1. Change your desktop wallpaper to a subtle color or texture. Both Windows, Mac and Linux systems come with such graphics. Refer to the end of this article for downloadable goodies.
  2. It is possible that your items on your desktop are there for a reason, such as quick access. Before your presentation, create a folder on your desktop and call it “Desktop Items”. Now select all the other icons on your desktop except system icons and program shortcuts, and drag them (move, not copy) into this new folder. This way, you will end up with a tidy desktop with only one folder icon. If you have too many program shortcuts on your desktop, consider creating a new folder called “Programs” and moving those shortcut icons there.

Remember that, in presentation world, there are many things we can utilize to differentiate us from the rest and make us look more professional. Having a clean and tidy desktop is one way of making a good first impression.

Here are some sample wallpapers that you can download and use on your computer. Make sure to choose the “Stretch” option after you select these images as your future wallpapers. This will expand the image over your entire desktop and make it look neat.

About Alper Rozanes

Alper graduated from Baruch College in New York with a degree in management information systems. He loves to cook (his specialty is oven-baked honey mustard salmon). Among his other hobbies are tennis, bowling, and jumping from known flying objects at 10.000 feet.

Review of a Jesse Jackson speech

In this speech Jesse Jackson, campaigning for US President in 1984, speaks at a church. There are two things I would like to point out in this speech, and they both have to do with point #3 in overcoming the Curse of Knowledge (make it concrete — use simple words and clear imagery):

1. At 1:45, he discusses economic policies, but he does not use academic, brainy terms like “balance of trade,” “equilibrium,” or “investment deflection.” Instead, he uses simple words and clear imagery: cars, vodka, and airplanes.

He says:

“When you buy Honda and Toyota, that’s foreign policy. Russian vodka, that’s foreign policy. (unintelligible), that’s foreign policy. Mercedes-Benz, that’s foreign policy. As a matter of fact, we came here on a foreign policy [Matt: he’s probably referring to Airbus].”

2. At 4:48, he discusses election campaign tactics, and he starts mentioning numbers.

It’s easy for people to get lost with numbers — a number that is significant to the speaker might not be significant to the audience, and vice versa.

But Jesse Jackson punctuates the numbers with a simple image between each number:

“…[state, numbers, blah blah]…rocks, just layin’ around. [State, numbers, blah blah]…rocks, just layin’ around. [State, numbers, blah blah]…rocks, just layin’ around. [State, numbers, blah blah]…rocks, just layin’ around.”

What does this mean for the rest of us, those of us who are not running for US President?

Examine your words closely. Use the simplest, clearest imagery you can.

Think about how you would express your theory in pictures, and then describe those pictures.

When you are talking about numbers, make those numbers real — give them an image, and, if you can, repeat that image often. Most of your audience will forget the numbers, but they’ll remember the image.

By the way, in this speech Jesse Jackson speaks very quickly, but don’t worry: even though I am a native speaker there were words I could not understand, or had to listen to multiple times before I could understand.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The seventh method

In the Fundamentals we mentioned the Curse of Knowledge, and six ways to overcome it.

My personal favorite, though, isn’t on that list. It is:

#7: Ask questions.

Specifically, ask your audience to describe back to you what you just said.

Ask them to describe your world back to you, and see how close they get. If they get it right, or at least almost right, your explanation was fairly clear.

Plus, there’s the added benefit that what other people see is almost never exactly what you see, so, in listening to their explanation, you might learn a new way to see your own world.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

How does this person think?

“How does this person think?”

Maybe your audience members don’t know who you are. They might not even care about your subject. But they probably want to know how you think.

It’s a natural human impulse: We want to know how other people solve problems, because maybe they can solve problems we can’t.

If you can connect to that impulse in your audience, you can give a great speech to anyone, no matter who they are.

We see this problem pop up a lot with TEDx speeches — the speaker only connects with the audience members who are already in his or her industry, because those people already know what problems the speaker is trying to solve.

For example, the speaker is an urban planner, and he gets up on stage and starts talking about urban planning things he thinks are interesting. The other urban planners in the audience think, “Wow, yes, that is interesting, I love the way this guy thinks,” but the other audience members don’t know what to do with the words coming out of the speaker’s mouth, because they are not urban planners, and so they have no context to put those words into.

Fortunately, this is an easy problem to solve. All audience members are humans, and almost all humans are trying to solve some problem or other.

So in your speech, open by describing a problem that needs solving, and do it in a way that almost everyone can relate to, and then show your audience how you solve it. For example:

“A couple years ago, my wife and I were trying to walk down the street. We were trying to push a baby carriage with our little boy in it, but the sidewalks were too narrow. We couldn’t get past anything. So I started wondering, I’m an urban planner, what can I do to make sure other people don’t have this same problem?”

Now all of the audience members are listening to see how you are going to solve this problem.

Then show them some examples of how you solve the problem of pedestrian access in all of your projects. The outline of your speech will be something like this: #1: Challenge, solution. #2: Challenge, solution. #3: Challenge, solution.

When your speech is over, very few of your audience members are going to go home thinking, “Next time I need an urban planner, I’m going to call that guy,” but they weren’t going to do that anyway.

What they WILL do is go home thinking, “I like how that urban planner thinks,” and next time they have a problem, they’re going to think about you and ask, “How would that guy solve this one?”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Are you sure you want to use that picture?

Yesterday I saw this ad in the subway station…

Macbook ad in Istanbul

At first I thought, “Oh, that’s such a pretty picture there on the screen… fish, water, blue, nature, sun, how nice!” But then I saw something completely different: A herd, moving in unthinking unison, swimming, spiraling, like brainless automatons towards a bright light, towards a god they neither know nor understand.

Was this the same company that 30 years ago, in one of the most famous ads of all time, told us to break free, to think for ourselves?

Mac ad 1984

The thing about words (and images, too) is that they often mean two completely different, and sometimes opposite, things. Same words, completely different meaning. Know that when you’re communicating, you might think you’re saying one thing, but your audience might be hearing you say something completely different.

It’s almost impossible to know if there’s a disconnect without regular “polling” of your audience’s mood and attitude. But when people get nervous, as they often do on stage, it can be hard to do that “polling.”

(By the way, the ad copy says, “The Big Switch Campaign — bring in your old PC, and get 400TL off on a new Mac.)

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The Joe Black Chair

Sometimes our clients ask us to sit in on their “real life” presentations.

We love opportunities like that. Seeing our clients operate live, “in the wild,” helps us do our jobs so much better. When a client lets us watch them give a real-life presentation we can help them so much more than when we sit in the conference room alone and try to imagine our client in real life.

Usually, in these situations, we end up sitting in the back of the room, in a chair like this…

Joe Black chair

Invariably, there comes a moment in the meeting when someone in the audience points to us and asks, “Who is that?” The answer is usually something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s Matt,” or “Oh, that’s Alper,” and then, “He’s coaching me on my speaking skills, and he wanted to see me speaking in real life.”

This reminds of us of a scene in the movie “Meet Joe Black,” where Joe Black (Brad Pitt) is sitting at the back of the room. Someone asks Anthony Hopkins, “Who is that,” and Anthony Hopkins says, “That, oh, that’s Joe,” as if that was enough of an explanation. And so Alper and I call that chair The Joe Black Chair.

Yes, Joe Black was the devil, come to get Anthony Hopkins at the end of his life. Yes, sometimes we have a dark sense of humor. 😉

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Slow down

The other day someone asked me for advice. He had wanted to give a speech that would last about 4-6 minutes, but instead the speech went for almost eight minutes.

“What should I do?” he asked.

“Slow down,” I said.

Wait a second, shouldn’t I have told him to talk faster? Why did I tell him to slow down? Wouldn’t that make the problem worse?

No.

Often, when people go over the time limit, their first reaction is to think, “I need to go faster, I need to go faster. Faster, faster, faster, faster.”

But remember, the audience needs time to think. Unless you want them to go home and forget what you said, you need to give them time to think, time to absorb your words.

If you are going overtime, you are probably trying to cover too much information.

So do some heavy prioritization, some heavy triaging. You know, triaging, like in those war movies, where the medic is crawling down a line of wounded soldiers (the medic is crawling because he’s trying not to get hit by bullets himself), and he looks at each soldier for just a couple seconds before making life and death decisions: help this one, help that one, that one’s too far gone, let him die, etc.

Treat your points like that medic treats the soldiers. If you started with five points, cut it to three points. If you started with seven points, cut it to four points (or even better, three).

Create space. Create space for yourself to go slow, to relax, to breathe. You’ll be happy you did, because you won’t get so tired up there on stage. And more importantly, your audience will be happy you did, because they’ll have time to think about what you say.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Your speech will never be the same twice

You know the saying, “You never cross the same river twice”? That applies to speeches too.

The other day I was speaking about my walk across Turkey. Because of a timing mixup, I ended up giving the same speech to two different audiences.

To my surprise, the two speeches were completely different.

The first speech tended towards self-reflection — the audience was asking questions like, for example, “What did you learn,” “How are you different now,” etc.

The second audience was interested mostly in food, so we talked mostly about food.

Someone from the first audience would probably barely recognize the second speech, and someone from the second audience would probably barely recognize the first speech.

My particular speech is heavy on questions and answers (Q&A), so of course it changes each time. But even if your speech doesn’t include a Q&A session, it will change every time. Your audience will be a little different every time. Even if the people are the same, they will have grown and changed since the last time you saw them, or at least some of them will have.

If you find yourself thinking, “I know this speech, I’ve given it before,” be careful, because you might be getting lazy. You might be about to bore your audience.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Three questions

When you start preparing a presentation, don’t you dare start by opening PowerPoint. Mull over these three questions first:

  1. Who are you talking to?
  2. What do you want them to do?
  3. Why should they care?

Ask these questions because a good presentation doesn’t happen in the head of the speaker, it happens in the heads of the audience. Get in their heads. If you can’t get in their heads now, what makes you think you’ll be able to get in their heads later? And if you can’t get in their heads, how are you going to get them to do what you want them to do? And if you can’t get them to do what you want them to do, why are you wasting your time and theirs?

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Dealing with fear

There are many ways of dealing with fear. Here are two of them:

1. Conquer your fear

Try to wrestle your fear to the ground. Try to beat it. Try to control it.

2. Look at something else

Your job is not to conquer fear, your job is to do something else. Don’t look at your fear. Look at that something else.

Fear is a great indicator that you have been called to do something important, so welcome the appearance of fear and walk towards it. However, energy spent fighting fear is energy wasted. Walk towards fear, but then step to the side and go about your business.

Personally, I find the idea of conquering fear exhausting. So much energy is spent fighting and struggling. Just thinking about it makes my head hurt.

So when Fear comes for me, I smile at it. I say, “Hello Fear, welcome. Please have a seat. I’ll be with you in a moment.” And then I go about my work. When I am done, I turn to Fear, ready to ask it how I can help, but, more often than not, it got bored and left.

Like I said, these are just two of the many ways of dealing with fear. One is not better than the other. Whatever works for you.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Fear makes bad things seem more real than they are

A couple years ago there was a woman who walked from Spain south to Morocco, and then east across Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, then north into Jordan, and then into Jerusalem.

She walked alone, and she didn’t spend any money.

When I talk about my walk across Turkey, someone invariably pipes up and says, “Yeah, that’s great, but you’re a man. A woman couldn’t do what you did.”

Not once has anyone ever backed up that statement (“A woman couldn’t do what you did”) by saying, “I am a woman, and I tried to walk across Turkey 9 times, and all 9 times I was raped and left for dead on the side of the road. Therefore, a woman couldn’t do what you did.”

And yet, their fear of what could happen, even though they have no experience with it happening, is more real in their minds than an actual woman who really did walk a long distance alone.

Why do we allow ourselves to act like the bad things we imagine are more real than the good things that are real?

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Stories happen in the listeners’ heads

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point is the biography of an idea.”

What is the idea?

The idea is that “[i]deas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.”

In addition to describing how the spread of ideas is like the spread of viruses, Gladwell describes three kinds of people who are necessary for the spread of an idea: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen.

This is an excellent book for anyone who is interested in Word Of Mouth marketing, by the way.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The edge and the center

There are different ways to see the world. One of them is “What can I do on the edge?” Another is “How do I get to the middle?”

Before you ever open your mouth, before you even start thinking about a problem, you will, consciously or unconsciously, pick one of these, and your choice will largely determine how you handle a given situation, and therefore where you end up.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Some examples of Stage’s formatting…

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Stage is awesome!

Stage is awesome!


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About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

A Google story

Some years ago I heard a story about Google. I forget the details, but the gist of the story sticks with me, and I think of it often…

In Google’s early days, before “google” became a verb, when the founders of Google were still just grad students at Stanford, they would periodically get an email. The email would simply say, “53,” or “56,” or something like that. The email was anonymous, so they had no idea who was sending it.

This went on for a couple years, and then one day the founders hit reply and asked the sender who he was, and what he meant.

The sender was counting the words on Google’s homepage, and when the homepage got too wordy, he’d send Google an email with the word count. Basically he was saying, “Cut it back, boys.”

If you really want to get creative with a project, place constraints on it. Learn how to operate without the resource you want most. Usually that means either limit your access to money, or limit your access to time. Often, the limits will be placed on you by external forces. If they aren’t, consider placing them on you yourself.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

First, Break All The Rules, by Buckingham and Coffman


I threw this book across the room. Couldn’t read more than a third of it.

Why?

I’m no statistician, but, if I understand correctly, analyzing large amounts of data (which is the technique the authors used) is a great way to find a population’s average.

However, it is not a great way to understand a population’s outliers, and how can you write a book about breaking rules if you don’t spend most of your time with the outliers?

Maybe this book is brilliant, and it would forever change the way I see the world if I just kept reading. But I suspect that’s not going to happen. If you want to break new ground, you’re going to have to say goodbye to safety in numbers.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

If you can’t explain it simply…

If you can’t explain it simply, you probably don’t understand it well enough.

Students come to me often and say, “I want to use more complicated sentences, like a native speaker.”

Huh?

Expressing yourself well does not mean using complicated sentences.

Actually, it usually means the opposite. Expressing yourself well means understanding your idea so well that you can express it simply.

Steve Jobs spoke at a fifth grade level. That means a 12-year old could understand him.

Jack Welch said, “[People] worry that if they’re simple, people will think they’re simple-minded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse.”

Remember, your objective is not to impress your audience. It’s to get them to do something.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The Dip, by Seth Godin


The upshot: If you want to get to the high points, you’re going to have to push through the low points. Most people don’t push through the low points, so the playing field will be nice and clear when you get to the good times.

I recommend Seth Godin all the time. I love his writing style, which basically comes from a place of, “If you can’t say it simply, you probably don’t understand it well enough.”

But don’t expect Seth Godin to answer questions he raises. I’ve been reading his blog for years, and he raises a lot of questions, but rarely answers them. In this book he’s no different. When I read this book I was wondering, “How do we know if there’s going to be a high point after a low point?” and I know the answer is, “You don’t,” but I wanted Seth Godin to show me how to know. He doesn’t, and I know he can’t, because he’s not God, but I still wanted him to.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The Black Swan, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The upshot: Sometimes big, disruptive things happen, and they can’t be planned for, because you don’t know what they’ll be. They will end life as you know it (or as your business knows it), and that’s just the way it is.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Resonate, by Nancy Duarte

Do not look for a summary of this book. In my opinion, this is one of those books you should either submit to, allowing it to change the way you think, or don’t even bother picking it up. Go big or go home.

In other words, I loved it.

The thing I liked most about this book was Duarte’s use of “sparklines,” an analysis tool she applies to famous speeches over the years to illustrate how they alternated between describing what is and what could be. She takes an intangible, right-brain message (“resonate with your audience”) and describes how to do it using left-brain tools (essentially, a sparkline is an X-Y graph).

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

The Cluetrain Manifesto, by Doc Searls and others

The upshot: Marketing is a conversation. It is a two-way exchange between people, not an opportunity for you to shout at your customers.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

How to be a Presentation God, by Scott Schwertly

The upshot: Blah blah blah, a bunch of stuff. When you are preparing a presentation, segment your audience. Blah blah blah, a bunch more stuff.

That one part, the reminder to segment your audience, alone makes the book worth it. All too often, presentation books tell us to know our audiences, but they don’t tell us how important it is to remember our audiences are not homogeneous.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

No visual aids

Transcript:

I recommend, for the first 10 speeches, no visual aids at all, no slides, nothing.

We’re there in Toastmasters to learn how to connect with the audience.

We’re there to learn how to make eye contact, and how to relax, and how to use body language, and how to get inside of the audience’s head.

It’s really hard to do that if you’re also learning how to use visual aids.

Now, I totally understand that that’s not set in stone. There are perfectly good arguments against that. The downside of this approach is that you can get through a full year of Toastmasters and not have any practice with visual aids at all. You’re not going to be good at a speech with slides and stuff.

You will, however, be really good, because you will have been spent a full year practicing, how to connect with your audience without the use of visual aids at all.

My personal recommendation is no visual aids at all, for the first 10 speeches, but I totally understand that there are perfectly good arguments against that.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Why practice 25 times?

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Transcript:

People ask me, “How many times should I practice,” and I almost always tell them, “Practice 25 times.”

Why 25?

25 times because the first 10 times that you practice, you’re training your muscles how to do the speech … the muscles of your mouth and the muscles of your throat, the muscles of your body are learning how to do the speech.

Your spirit, which is another big part of the speech is going to get bored and leave during that time so you’re going to get to practice around number 10 and your spirit is going to be bored and is going to be gone and you’re going to be at practice around 10 and you’ll think, “Oh, my body remembers all of the words but now the speech is boring because my spirit is gone and so I’ve killed my speech.”

Keep practicing.

Around practice around 12 or 15, your spirit is going to start to come back and your spirit will start to realize, “Okay. I can trust the body now because the body knows what it needs to do,” and so the spirit is going to feel free to fly around the room and go into the audience’s brains and stuff like that.

In practice around 15 through 20 or 22, you’re training your spirit. Your body is already trained so now you’re training your spirit and the last few practice rounds … 23 through 25 or whatever, you might not even need to do those but whatever … but at least 20 times.

The first 10 times are for your body, the second 10 times are for your spirit. Thanks.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Channeling Don Draper

One of my favorite scenes from Mad Men comes at the end of season 1, when Don pitches Eastman Kodak using a slide show from his own life…

There are many things I like about this scene. One of them is that Don knows his audience has a question (“What does this story about Teddy have to do with me?”), but for a full minute and fifty seconds (1:50), he does not answer that question. Only he knows the answer is going to come, and only he knows it will be worth the wait. While he tells the story he just has to have the confidence that he can carry the audience through to the answer.

Last week I gave this speech at Istanbul Toastmasters…

In the hours leading up to this speech, I kept telling myself, “Channel Don Draper, channel Don Draper,” because I was going to tell a story and, for five minutes and forty-five seconds (5:45), leave the question, “What does this story have to do with anything?” unresolved in the audience’s mind. I was going to have to have the confidence that I could carry the audience through to the answer.

A technique like this is risky because if you don’t pull it off, the audience will be more confused than if you never told the story. On the upside, if you pull it off, the audience will remember your point far better than if you didn’t tell the story. In the words of Don Draper, this technique is “delicate, but potent.”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Who is your audience? What do you want them to do?

These are the first questions I ask my clients when we are preparing a presentation.

They are obvious questions. It is so easy to answer them quickly, forget the answers, and continue on, unthinking, unchanged, uninspired.

The other day I was meeting with a client. Some months before, he had gone to an international training session in Europe attended by his colleagues from the company’s other subsidiaries in other countries. He told me he had been asked to give a presentation at that training.

I asked him what the point of the presentation was. What did he want his audience to do?

He gave me an answer that made me proud. He said he wanted his audience to think of him as the expert on XYZ.

But then he showed me his presentation. It was filled with facts and figures and charts and graphs that just cluttered his message. They did not say, “I am the expert on XYZ.” They said, “I am the expert on XYZ, AND OH, BY THE WAY, HERE’S A BUNCH OF OTHER STUFF.”

I could tell that when he began preparing his presentation he was thinking, “I want these people to think of me as the expert on XYZ.” But then, as he opened PowerPoint and began designing his slides, his thinking switched. He started thinking, “…And this is what goes into a presentation. I’ve got to put this in there too.”

At every point in your preparation, from the beginning right through to the end, ask yourself, “What do I want them to do?” If a sentence, or a word, or a chart, or a graph, if any piece of information, doesn’t directly serve that purpose, don’t put it in. It doesn’t matter how standard you think it is. Don’t put it in.

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.

Keep your answers short

Q&A (questions and answers) is a great way to break up a speech and make sure you and your audience are thinking in the same direction.

However, I often see my clients, when giving an answer, give answers that are too long.

The result is that they become less and less sure they are answering the question, and the audience forgets what the question even was. Everyone in the room starts feeling lost.

So here’s my suggestion: Keep your answers short. Try saying less than you think is necessary, and let the audience help you figure out what to talk about.

When you do this, maybe you’ll feel like your first answer is incomplete. Maybe you will feel like the followup question is so obvious your audience will think you’re stupid because you don’t just go right ahead and answer it.

If you’re nervous about that, try saying something like, “…And that’s the situation. Perhaps you’re wondering what we’re going to do about it….” Then pause and look at them with your palm raised.

Usually when you pause like that your audience will just look at you and nod (“Yes, that’s what I was wondering.”). Or, if they have a different kind of question, they’ll interrupt you and say, “Actually, I was wondering something else.”

Either way, when you proceed you will know they are listening, and you will avoid that uncomfortable and distracting thought, “Am I talking about the right thing?”

About Matt Krause

Matt began his professional life as an import buyer, and since 2006 has been teaching companies how to connect with their investors and clients better. His clients work in Istanbul, Bucharest, and Sofia for companies like Allianz, 3M, P&G, Citibank, and Reckitt Benckiser. He also walked across Turkey and wrote a book about it.