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Dr. Roger Blackwell: Three Lessons in Presenting

blackwellThe other day, I had the distinct honor of hearing Dr. Roger Blackwell speak at our Columbus AMA luncheon. Dr. Blackwell is a marketing legend—I won’t go into all his accolades, but you can visit his site and read his bio here: Suffice it to say that he’s written 25 books, The New York Times has described him as one of America’s top business speakers and there’s a building named after him at The Ohio State University. (!)

I’d been looking forward to this event since I invited him to present and, thankfully, he said yes. He’s a long-time AMA member and a big supporter of the organization. I may be one of the few who’ve never had the pleasure of hearing him speak, so I was stoked for our meeting yesterday. And, Dr. Blackwell did not disappoint!

Here are three lessons to take away from his brilliant presentation:

Lesson One: Have a Thread That Ties It All Together

Dr. Blackwell has written a brand new book, “Saving America: How Garage Entrepreneurs Grow Small Firms into Large Fortunes,” that talks about how to bootstrap the economy and how small startups are our salvation. I must admit, I’m not the biggest follower of economics, but his talk fascinated me. “If you don’t know the cause, you won’t know the cure,” is one of his favorite expressions. So, he proceeded to explain his theory regarding the cause of our economic woes.  The way he explained how our upper head strength (= brain) has become more important than our upper body strength (=brawn)—meaning  it now takes fewer workers to do the same job because of technology—by using statistics and examples we can all relate to had the crowd enthralled.

Lesson Two: Your Presentation Style Matters

Add to that his dynamic presentation style—there’s no doubt that this is a guy who CARES about what he’s saying!—and it was a tremendous presentation. Dr. Blackwell came out into the audience—he didn’t stand up on the stage or at the podium. There was an energy in the room.  Although he ran over the allotted time, no one got up to leave…everyone stayed to hear his entire talk. I think he would’ve kept going, had we had more time—and I really wanted him to keep going!

Lesson Three: Leave Them Wanting More

This got me to thinking, if you’re a passionate presenter, perhaps it doesn’t matter if every member of your audience is into your topic. If you CARE about what you’re saying, then the audience will follow your lead and care, too! So, the next time you present, try to inject some passion into your presentation. I’m still thinking about Dr. Blackwell’s talk and am sure it will stay with me for days. He definitely left his audience wanting more.


Happy Cinco de Mayo! To Celebrate, Here Are Five Takeaways From My Weekend at the AMA Leadership Summit

This weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the American Marketing Association Leadership Summit in Chicago. Along with great networking and the chance to bond with my fellow board members, I learned some things. Here, in no particular order, are my top five takeaways (there were lots more, but I chose five in honor of Cinco de Mayo!):

1)      Don’t skip the prep work for your next presentation—if you’re trying to just “wing it,” it probably won’t go very well. Good presentations don’t just happen – they require lots of preparation. Rehearse and practice, either in front of someone or even just on your own. As our presenter mentioned, he rehearses in front of his dogs if no one else is available!

2)      Keep your audience in mind. If you’re trying to reach millennials, a luncheon might not be the best timing for an event. They prefer events after work, so try a happy hour or dinner. And, they don’t want to hear about topics related to social media, which is something they already clearly understand. Try something related to how to move up in their career or maybe a topic about how to better work with the C-suite.

3)      Don’t overlook the importance of visuals in your presentations. Add compelling visuals to draw attendees’ attention, versus adding more text. Text-heavy slides aren’t as memorable as showing the audience a visual that will stay with them. Then, talk about the topic—you don’t need to include all your points on a slide. We’ve all heard, “A picture speaks a thousand words,” so try incorporating this into your next preso.

4)      Don’t be afraid to ask. This is actually one I’ve I learned before I went to the summit and shared, because the power of the ask is one we sometimes overlook. You won’t know if you don’t ask, so don’t be afraid to reach out, even if it’s a “cold” contact. What’s the worst that can happen? They may so no…if so, you move on. But, they may say yes—then, you have a “win”! Not to mention a new contact.

5)      When trying something new, be sure you’re building on a solid foundation. That could include having a strong team in place, financial security and some programs that are already working well. For example, if your program is in dire financial straits, it’s not the time to try a risky, expensive new idea. On the other hand, if you have some cash in reserves, it may be a great time to experiment with something you haven’t tried before.

AMA Board at Regional Retreat

AMA Board at Regional Retreat

Me with some of our fabulous American Marketing Association board members–Joel Kohler, moi, Dave Demarchi, Edward McGinnis and Christine Allen–at our regional retreat this past weekend.

Join us to hear Komen leader at the next AMA event!

Two cool things are happening at the Columbus AMA’s May 14th event–one, we have Miguel Perez, regional vice president of the Susan G. Komen Foundation speaking on leadership (and most likely a few other hot topics as well, with the Race for the Cure event coming up four days after his appearance), and two, the event is FREE for members and just $5 for non-members! This is a  great opportunity to come out to get inspired by a great speaker, network and learn more about the AMA–don’t miss it! Register and learn more today at