Preparation Key to Successful Interview, Presentation

In my last job, I was frequently interviewed by television reporters, and I thought nothing of it.

Interview with 'Inside Edition' a few years ago.

Earlier this week, I gave an on-air interview for a cool project with my current job. I confess I was a bit nervous, but once the interview began, the butterflies left because I had done my prep work.

Whether you are going to be interviewed by a reporter or will be making a presentation for work be sure you’ve done your homework. Here’s what you need to consider:

  1. Audience or interviewer
  2. Message points
  3. Length of presentation or interview

Audience or interviewer: Who will hear your presentation? If it’s your board or executive team you will want to provide the highlights and the key take away. If it’s colleagues, you may want to share the process and lessons learned. In my case, I was speaking with a reporter so I did some background on the reporter to find out the types of stories she covers and her approach to interviewing. Because it was a morning show and I knew the reporter, I knew it would be straight forward and conversational with no surprises.

Message points: What are the key messages you want your audience to hear? Take the time to write them out so that when you are speaking or being interviewed they are firmly in your mind. During my interview, the reporter simply asked me to tell her about the campaign. Because I had already thought through my message points I was able to deliver on the three key points I wanted to make.

Length of presentation or interview: How long will you have to present or how long will the interview be? This determines the amount of preparation that you will need. One caveat, though, is to always over prepare. I try to anticipate all questions that will be asked. That way I’m ready for anything.

I Have 24 Hours in the Day, Right?

I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I have too much to do and not enough hours in the day.

In a recent post I discussed creating successful check lists. In this one, my focus is on identifying priorities. For example, my top 3 priorities for the summer for NFPW are

  1. Complete a leadership manual
  2. Prepare the board agenda
  3. Enhance the contest

 Now that I know my priorities I can determine how best to spend my time. In preparing this blog, I also listed my top 3 priorities for work and for me.

And then the reckoning arrived. I examined where I was spending my waking time. All of this occurred because when I came home from the office I listened to a webinar by Lisa Baker on “Where Does My Time Go?” One of the things she directed listeners to do was to identify the top three areas where time was spent.

After I listed those I realized I was not spending my time where I wanted to so I’ve reprioritized. One of the things I’m giving up is my relaxation in front of the television. Instead of watching the Food Network and HGTV, I’m going to get additional time in at the gym and work on my NFPW priorities. This way I’ll have plenty of time for my priorities.

How are you spending your time and is it aligned with your priorities?

5 Steps to Writing a Successful To-Do List

I’m a list maker. I even put obvious tasks on it just so I can have the pleasure of crossing it off. Lists keep me organized and help me relax because I no longer have to remember the items. More importantly, they keep me moving forward.

Sometimes, though, my To Do List ends up with a project or a goal on it, and they don’t belong on a To Do List. So what can you do to make your To-Do List a success?

Try these steps:

  1. Create project lists and goal lists so you don’t lose sight of them.
  2. Add the initial items that you need to get your project or goals started to your to-do list.
  3. Break down to-do’s into small, manageable tasks. For example, when I’m working in the garden, my list includes weed, trim, plant. That way when I finish weeding I can cross it off and know that I am making progress.
  4. Purge your list. If an item appears day after day, determine if you need to do it all. If not, cross it off. 
  5. Track your items using whatever system works for you. I keep a small notebook with me so that I can always add and delete. I used to use single sheets of paper until I realized I was always losing the paper.

Good luck!

Facebook Helps Make Social Ties Stronger

My cousin lives in Seattle and, if not for Facebook, I would have little contact with her. I’m also in touch with my high school journalism teacher. He continues to teach me all these years later, but if it weren’t for Facebook we’d have no contact.

By hanspoldoja

Thanks to Facebook my social connections are stronger than ever. Yet there are those who questioned whether social networking sites would isolate people.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project examined social networking sites in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, and community and political engagement.

The report is the first national survey of how the use of social networking sites (SNS) by adults is related to people’s overall social networks. The findings suggests that there is little validity to concerns  that people who use SNS experience smaller social networks, less closeness or are exposed to less diversity.

Here’s what they learned about Facebook users:

  • Facebook users are more trusting than others
  • Facebook users are more trusting than others.
  • Facebook users have more close relationships.
  • Facebook users get more social support than other people.
  • Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people.
  • Facebook revives “dormant” relationships.

Are you more social because of social networking sites?

Conference Bag of Tricks

During a presentation to a large group of communicators, I was tethered to the laptop. The organizers had said they would have everything I needed, including a remote mouse. But they didn’t. Lesson learned. I now bring my own remote mouse.

If you’re speaking or organizing a conference, there are several items you should always have with you so that you are prepared for last minute hiccups.

Teri Ehresman, who is communications lead for the Idaho National Laboratory, has a big black box on wheels that she uses for events she organizes or when she is staffing a booth. What does it contain?

  • Roll of clear tape: “It comes in handy for a variety of unexpected tasks,” she says.
  • Roll of duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Box cutters
  • Power strip
  • Surge protector
  • Speakers for a laptop
  • Notebook
  • Sheets of white and color paper
  • Pens
  • Highlighters
  • Black marker
  • Business cards in a business card holder
  • Extra Fed-Ex forms (for shipping after hours)
  • Band-Aids

Corinne Geller with the Virginia State Police recommends carrying extra white board markers and AA batteries, as well as a Shout or Wisk stain stick. “There is nothing worse than something being dribbled or flicked on your shirt or coat just before getting up in front of a large audience!”

Finally, bring copies of your presentation in case the computer can’t load the PowerPoint presentation, the projector crashes, the laptop’s not compatible with the hotel equipment or the screen breaks.

What’s in your bag?

Upon Rising, 1 in 3 Check Email

I confess. I succumbed and now have a smart phone. It’s addictive. When the alarm on it wakes me, I can’t help but look at my emails.

Apparently I’m not alone. About one in three (35%) global mobile workers checks their email first thing in the morning before they do anything else, according to an April 2011 report from iPass.

Data from the “iPass Global Mobile Workforce Report” indicates another 17% check their email after getting dressed, 13.5% check it after having morning tea or coffee, 10% check it after breakfast and 8% check it when they start their commute.

That translates to more than 80 percent checking their email before they start the work day.

When do you check your email?

 

4 Steps for Putting Together a Successful Conference

The 2011 NFPW Conference is just around the corner. The conference organizers are hard at work putting the finishing touches on it. The NFPW board is meeting with other affiliates to identify future conference hosts.

NFPW members having fun in Chicago.

One thing that holds affiliates back from making a bid to host is the unknown – how much work is it going to take to put together a conference? Where does one even start?

As co-chairman for the 2007 conference in Richmond, I can tell you that it’s both a lot of fun and a lot of work. But with a bit of planning you, too, can put together a successful meeting or conference.  To do so, focus on 4 key areas:

1)      Location

2)      Budget

3)      Speakers

4)      Food

Location: NFPW members are looking for good value for their money. We seldom hold our meetings in big cities because the cost of hotel rooms is too expensive. We find good value in mid-size or smaller cities. If you’re seeking a location for your state affiliate meeting, why not ask your members if their employers could host the group. In Virginia, we’ve met at the Virginia State Police, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Virginia Press Association headquarters. All offered us space at no cost, which means that we can offer an affordable rate to members.

Budget: List all of your expenses and then determine how many members you expect to attend. That will determine the registration fee you need to charge. Do you have sponsors that can underwrite any expenses? At the end of the conference you want to break even – or even better, make a profit to help with your affiliate’s coffer. One way to keep costs down is to bring your own laptop and projector.

Speakers: Are you planning a theme for the conference? That will help narrow your focus as you reach out to speakers. Ask early and let speakers know what you will provide. NFPW and most affiliates do not pay honorariums because the funds simply don’t exist. However, most speakers are more than willing to speak if you are able to cover travel expenses. It’s also good to promote the speaker and her work. If she is an author, allow her to sell copies of her books. It’s also good to have a back-up speaker  — just in case. Ask the speaker early for her bio and photo to use in the program and anywhere else that the conference will be promoted.

Food: Members aren’t expecting a four-star meal, but they do want quality. When selecting options, consider the set-up of the room. Is it better to offer a buffet  so that members can get their food quickly? Or would a plated meal work better? If members are traveling a distance to get to the meeting, and it starts in the morning, be sure to offer coffee and some fruit and pastries.

To include more members in the conference planning, assign a member to each of the key areas. You’ll have more ideas and no one member will be overwhelmed.

What are your best conference planning tips?