Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Spotlight Speaking with Strategic Impact by Kate LeVan

This book is a must-read if you’re a consultant, analyst, pitch team leader, roadshow executive, technology specialist, project manager, internal or external marketer, sales rep, subject matter expert or innovator.

Book Details:

Book Title: Speaking with Strategic Impact: Four Steps to Extraordinary Presence & Persuasion
​Author: Kate LeVan
Category: Adult Non-Fiction, 152 pages
Genre: Business
Publisher: Delton Press
Release date: May 24, 2017
Tour dates: June 12 to 30, 2017
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Speaking with Strategic Impact is for business people who make their living—or their mark—through presentations long and short.

It’s a must-read if you’re a consultant, analyst, pitch team leader, roadshow executive, technology specialist, project manager, internal or external marketer, sales rep, subject matter expert or innovator.

Do your presentations unexpectedly fall flat? Do others hijack your meetings? Do you spend more time compiling slide decks than actually influencing decision-makers? Has someone vaguely told you that you “should look more confident up there” or that you “lack gravitas”? Have you watched TED Talks but wonder how you can bring that level of effectiveness into real business presentations?

Speaking with Strategic Impact gives you the key to leadership presence and persuasion. More than just tips and tricks, it outlines a discipline for navigating real business situations with consistently superior outcomes that’s favored by top business schools and Fortune 500 companies. You’ll get specific strategic and tactical advice to keep you on the mark in your presentations and meetings—and differentiate you from the vast majority of business presenters.

Read Speaking with Strategic Impact to master the means by which you make a living and a difference in the world!

Buy the Book:

Meet the Author:

Kate LeVan trains, coaches and collaborates on business communication effectiveness with major corporations worldwide and as an instructor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Her training consistently receives top ratings from executive development program participants for its simplicity, applicability and career-changing impact.

Connect with the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

1.Why did you write this book?
I’ve been training and coaching executives in effective business communication for almost 20 years now.  I estimate that I’ve seen, evaluated, or helped develop about 2,000 business presentations in that time.  I figure this is a solid enough sample from which to draw some conclusions!

I do think that the book has a bias toward helping Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), though.  All those salt-of-the-earth, analytical types who see the possibilities or problems and get it done. I especially want to reach the ones who aspire to be leaders, but think they don’t have the chops.  

You see, this does NOT describe me.  I’m an ex-advertising and marketing executive for whom high-stakes pitches were my stock and trade.  I often got promoted or recognized during my career over these SMEs because I knew how to be seen and heard.  So, as I say in my book, I like to think that I’m giving people like those I describe—and whom I deeply admire—the key to mastering the means by which they make a living and a difference in the world.

2.  Why now?  Was there a catalyst for your book?

There’s a lot of buzz out there about TED Talks and Steve Jobs as representing the gold standard for presenting.  I don’t disagree.  But the reality is that the majority of business presenters don’t do those kinds of presentations.  They mostly do everything after the “ta-da” concept has been revealed.  The work sessions, the conference calls, the management updates and the occasional town hall meeting or industry forum that—while lower profile—tend to unnerve them and feel just as “high stakes.”  

My book doesn’t give them a bunch of templates to fill in, nor does it simply suggest that they throw in more stories and pictures.  I give them a well-honed and proven discipline around strategically assessing what an audience needs in a given situation.  Then I add a few fundamental tools and techniques.  Taken together, it’s a process that let’s them do what they know how to do so well—THINK.  But think about something their academic training never required them to consider:  staying strategically focused on their decision-makers in order to be better seen and heard and accomplish their objectives.

3.  In the book you say, “You have to BE present to have PRESENCE.”  What does that mean?

There is a tendency in business to use words like “Presence” and “Gravitas” as though they are woo-woo elements on the periodic table that are present in some people and not in others.  I do think people may display more or less of them depending on certain factors—like life experience and comfort with an audience.  I can’t give people a greater knowledge base or more years of experience than they already have.  But I can give them a method to focus and calm their energy so that they are less mired in their self-centered details and fears and more aware of what can and should be done in the moment for the audience to be effective.  I call that Presence.

4.What’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you in a presentation?

Maybe the craziest was when I was supposed to present to 50 Chicago business leaders who were guests of my banking client.  We were using the bank’s conference facilities that evening.  When they hooked up their laptop to project my slides for the presentation, it died. I told them, no worries, they could use my laptop as a backup.  They plugged it in— and it sparked and died too.  By now it was 10 minutes before start time and all the guests had arrived.  The host from the bank was mortified and said he wouldn’t expect me to do anything, since I had no slides.  I asked for a flip chart and some markers instead.

The presentation began with my client apologizing profusely and taking full responsibility for the compromised situation I was in and the compromised presentation they would see.
Of course, I had rehearsed my presentation; so, all I did was list my main points on separate charts and flip to them as I got to that part of my presentation.  I wrote in key words or important details as I needed to, and moved around the room when I wasn’t referring to anything on the charts.  

At the end of my presentation, the group applauded, but my client was overjoyed.  He repeated his apologies and the story about how everything had gone awry despite their best efforts.  The business leaders politely listened to my frazzled client’s explanation.  Finally, one of them disclosed what many had assumed—that all this was an elaborate hoax to demonstrate that they didn’t need slides and could do just as effective a presentation without them.  

I guess I couldn’t have had a more effective session.  But, as I shared with the audience, I really did need a drink!

5.What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
What comes up for me is one of those instances of facing one’s own fear.

I had just gone through a divorce and was at risk of losing my home, when I managed to secure a job with a Chicago advertising agency.  I thought everything was golden.  After about 3 months, the longtime agency account that I had been hired to manage went away through no fault of my own.   Apparently, they had been planning on taking things in house for some time.  I figured I was on the ropes again.  Then the agency president offered me a position on a liquor account.  It would require that I work with some unsavory characters in my book with lots of travel and after-hours drinking.  It just wasn’t me.  But I so needed the money.  

I can almost feel now that same pit in my stomach that I had while driving down Lake Shore Drive, knowing I was about to refuse the job without any other safety net.  I remember reciting the poem my Dad once gave me about “speak your truth quietly and clearly.”  I did manage that day--with a tremble in my voice—to explain to the agency president that I just couldn’t do this to myself and I’d rather take my chances.  As I left his office, he stopped me and came to the door.  All he said was, “You know, it took a lot to do what you just did.”

Later that week I got called into his office again—to be given the lead on the biggest pitch the agency had ever taken on.  Needless to say, we won.  

5. If anyone in the world could review your book, who would you pick and what would you hope they’d say?

My Dad, God rest his soul.  And I would hope he’d say, “You know, it took a lot to do what you just did.” J

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