[Video] The One Word Theme New Year Planning Tool

Happy New Year! (tomorrow.)

You may know that I choose one word every year as a theme for the year ahead. Last year’s word was Beauty. In many ways, it was a year made more beautiful by my commitment to that theme (amidst some very intense personal growth and, well, struggle.) I plan to write out a review of the year, with the theme of beauty as a thread, in the weeks to come. But for today, we are moving forward! In this video, I reveal my One Word Theme for 2013. I do this in hopes it will serve as an example for another way you might like to think about your own year ahead.

Since it’s a bit long, here are some time markers you can  use to pick sections to watch/listen to, depending on your interests:

  • 28 seconds: Where I acknowledge that the words on my shirt are backward
  • 57 seconds: Why I choose a one word theme & what this has to do with YOU
  • 1 minute, 57 seconds: My One Word Theme for 2013, Revealed – and the elements of it applied to the year to come
  • 2 minutes, 26 seconds: About trust
  • 3 minutes, 14 seconds: The moment of Delight
  • 3 minutes, 45 seconds: Summary of the applied theme
  • 3 minutes, 56 seconds: My favorite Part
  • 4 minutes, 28 seconds: Questions for you – and an invitation to write or call me

Now, here’s the video. I hope it serves you. Please share thoughts, themes, and reflections in the comments or by email with me! I’d so love to hear from you.

Why You Should Speak for Free to Grow Your Business

Every time I speak to a room full of people, I get new clients.

It feels pretty awesome to have people literally hand you their business card and say “call me” as you walk back to your seat after speaking. The experience of seeing that line form around you after your speaking event, full of people who want more of your time and talent, is exhilarating.

That right there is an excellent reason to speak to a room full of people for free. If you do a remarkable job of it, that free gig will very likely pay – just on another day, with a client or a paid speaking gig. There’s a good chance it will pay a few times over because that room full of people just got a sample of your brilliance. They’ll want more of that goodness.

But that’s not the only reason to speak for free. In fact, it may not be the most important reason you should get out there and speak as often as you can to audiences that will love your message.

Here are three more reasons to speak for free:

1. You can test out your message.

2. You can hone your speaking skills.

3. You will increase your authority in your area of expertise.

Let’s take them on one at a time.

Testing out your message

If you listen to the nonverbal communication your audience sends during your presentation, you will learn volumes about what touches their soul and resonates with their needs and desires. You’ll see faces light up, heads nodding… or you’ll see blank stares and perplexed faces. When you’ve got a room full of people whose heads are nodding nearly off their shoulders, you know you’ve got yourself a good topic. Likewise, that room full of flat air tells you that you are missing the mark on the hot desires of your audience and it’s time to go back to the drawing board on your message. It’s market research in a flash. Incredibly useful.

You can hone your speaking skills

Let’s face it, the expectations at a free gig are not nearly as high as those at a high-paying event. This means two things: 1. the pressure is eased a bit on being over-the-top amazing as you learn and refine your amazing speaking skills, and 2. You can blow them away easier than you think. I recommend that you take advantage of both of those truths. Push yourself to provide shockingly awesome value with your presentation. Blow them away with the usefulness of your content and the excellence of your presentation. And give yourself the room to try out a few things, test your edges, put learning right up there next to excellence as a goal (even at the risk of some nervousness on your part.) Let this be an opportunity to see what you can really do at your current level of speaking ability and let it change you, let it make you a better speaker all in one day.

Quick story: I once did a very short free talk at a networking event during which I memorized three different “elevator speeches” (I call them “Hello Intros”) of others in that networking group. I generally do not work from memorization (and I don’t recommend that you try to either, for the most part) but I really wanted to share these examples without reading them. Even with my notoriously bad memory, I got all three of them mostly right and I watched the delighted faces of others in the group as I shared those tidbits. I learned how powerful it is to bring in real information about the members of the audience I am speaking with and I learned that I actually can memorize when I need to (in small-ish bits.) Not so incidentally, I also engaged two new clients that evening.

You will increase your authority in your area of expertise

Think of the last time you watched someone brilliantly share their expertise from the stage or front of the room. Were you not mesmerized and impressed? Of course you were. Because we all know that it takes not only courage and bravery to stand up there and say our stuff but it also takes true smarts and cleverness to say it in a way that really pulls us in and actually makes life better for those of us in the audience. There is power in public speaking – power to change lives, make a difference, have a real impact. When we see this happen at the hands (voice, movement, storytelling, courage…) of a person, we see authority. When we do this ourselves – we feel the authority. And maybe that matters most of all for these purposes.That sense of authority leaves that room with you and joins your next sales call, your next product creation and your next launch. Don’t underestimate it’s monetary value as well.

Getting a fat paycheck to speak is good. It’s great, actually. And maybe you’ll decide to mix that in to your speaking career (don’t rule it out!) But there are some mightily great reasons to get in front of the right audience (those who want and need what you have to say) at no cost to them. If you approach the opportunity the right way, you and they will both cash in on the experience in many ways – a delicious gift to them and you (kinda like this lovely gift box cake by Ken’s Oven above.)

I’d love to hear your stories about speaking – paid and not – and what gifts you’ve received from the process. Will you tell me your story in the comments or via email at michelle at michellebarryfranco.com?

I wrote this post in support of Women’s Money Week.Women’s Money Week is about encouraging women to speak up about money, take control of our finances, and reshape our financial future. Go check out all of the great women writers living debt free lives, using money in truly fun and world-changing ways, and otherwise doing awesome stuff with increased cash and decreased money stress. Not so incidentally, *my brand new Ebook*, Power to Your Message, is among that great stuff in that mix. It’s the only way you can get my ebook right now.


Organizing Your Speech So Your Audience Can Actually Use the Information (Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People Video Blog Series)

Today’s topic in the Remarkable Speaking for Ordinary People Video Blog Series is How to Organize Your Speech So Your Audience Can Actually Use the Information.

This may seem totally elementary, but it is woefully disregarded way too often. I want to eliminate that possibility for you. Remarkable speeches are memorable because they have awesome content that people actually remember and use (plus other stuff we’ll talk about throughout the series.)

And for those of you (like me) who like to scan a post before you decide to invest in the video (or the meat of the content), here are the hi-lights to help you decide if you want to spend the 3.5 minutes on the video itself:

  1. Too much information is overwhelming to your audience. People often give way too much information (thereby overwhelming the audience.) Let’s don’t have you do that, okay?
  2. Choose three main points (or chunks, as I like to call it, even though it doesn’t seem all that appealing when I think about it) under ONE main idea (the title of your speech should reflect this one big focus area.)
  3. Add compelling stories, super-specific tips, and exciting statistics or data to each of those main points only as they serve to further illustrate and amplify those main points.
  4. Cover nothing beyond the main topic of this presentation and the three main points you have chosen. You will struggle to let go of “really great information” you want to share – let it go anyway. You will think the information you are leaving out is “really important” – leave it out anyway.

If you do all of this for real,  you’ll structure yourself a really powerful presentation (assuming the content is excellent quality.)

There’s more in the video, including an example to illustrate structure. As always, I invite your feedback, thoughts, ideas and suggestions. In particular, I’m wondering about your experience of seeing really great presentations that you remember well. What did they do with the structure that helped you take it all in? Do you use strategies I don’t mention here in your own presentations that we can all learn from?

Results from Small Business & Private Practice Marketing Survey

Jeez, I feel so lucky and warm inside from all of your responses to the nine question survey I put out there a few weeks ago. I had 35 really rich, engaged, fabulous responses. I think my favorite thing about this is that I didn’t offer anything in return for the time you all spent filling out this survey. I’m not surprised that you are a generous bunch, actually – it’s just so lovely to have such a clear demonstration of said generosity. Thank you all.

I’ve decided that I am going to share the results of this survey – in a somewhat freeform discussion style – because so much of it was interesting and, I believe useful, for all of us to know about our fellow small business owners (at least the ones who filled out this survey.)

For reference, here are the questions from the survey:

1. What is your business type? (therapy practice, NLP Practitioner, non-profit, counseling, massage practice)

2. How long have you been in this business?

3. Are you the owner (or a partner-owner) in this business?

4. How satisfied are you with the number of clients you have right now?

5. How happy are you with the type of clients (including the kinds of issues they are bringing to you) you are seeing in your practice right now?

6. If you were to name one real struggle you are having in your practice right now, what would it be? (e.g. finding more clients, attracting the right kind of clients, marketing overall, juggling all of the tasks of business ownership…)

7. How do you feel about marketing your practice?

8. What marketing avenues have you tried in your business?

9. Where do you go to get more information when you need help with building your practice or other business needs? (mark all that apply)

And now, for the survey results from the small business & private practice marketing survey…

The Sample (From Counselors & Therapists to Plumbers & Video Production)

Since I tend to work with and attract counselors, therapists, alternative health practitioners, artists and creative-types, many of the responses were from people in those types of businesses. That said, I heard from people in the insurance industry, publishing, bookkeeping, real estate, floral artistry, chefs, plumbing, video production, natural health & wellness, organizing… see what I mean about how cool this survey turned out to be? Love it.

Almost 90% of respondents owned the business they are working in and many (40%) have been working in their businesses for more than 10 years. The bulk of the remaining responders (34%) have been in their business between 1-4 years.

State of Small Business Affairs

Most of the respondents wish for more clients, though just under 26% are happy with their current number of clients. 51% are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with current client numbers. That is a frustrating place to be, I know. But the good news is, 71% are at least reasonably happy with and genuinely enjoy working with the type of clients they currently have (and over 31% are very happy) – that’s fabulous!

For those who want to grow their client list, there is good news…

For the Love of Marketing Your Small Business

They enjoy marketing more than I expected! What a fun discovery. This surprised me a little because I often hear about how much small business owners don’t tend to like marketing – especially business owners who build businesses based on their passions. This simply wasn’t the case for this sample. 69% “don’t mind” marketing and 20% actually “love it”! 25% consider marketing their small business a “necessary evil” and only 2 people said they “avoid it”. Overall, that’s more marketing-love than you ever hear about on the business wire.

So, if it isn’t that everyone hates marketing (like we often hear about), then what is getting in the way of marketing their businesses they way they want or think they should? Can you guess? I’ll give you a hint: they are the two things that get in the way of most things in small business. Yep: money & time. Actually, let’s turn “time” into “time + overwhelm”. People are just overwhelmed with all of the tasks of small business ownership, pure & simple. (I know how they feel at times. I’m guessing you do, too – no?)Then, even when they do dream up a great idea, pulling together the funds to try something they are not sure will work can be a little freaky… and, well, overwhelming.  Other feelings & words mentioned about marketing were “fear”, “fun”, “love networking”, “I’m an introvert”, “time consuming” and “eeeeeeek” – plus more. It’s a complex world, the marketing endeavor.

When they do decide to… endeavor in to marketing, how do they do it? What marketing techniques do they engage? 85% use networking groups (this might be because I tend to use networking groups and I’m guessing some of my lovely friends from those groups made up a good bunch of the respondents in this survey – thanks y’all!) Of the respondents, 74% have a website and 57% advertise in local publications. 51% of people give away free consultations (see, I told you this is a generous bunch!) Then we have, in order of popularity: phone book listing, referrals, speaking, newsletter, blog, publish articles. (Boy, there’s a lot I’d like to say here about missed opportunities! Watch for future blog posts…)

The Pain & Suffering of Small Business & Private Practice Business, Revealed

Everyone says small business is hard. They often say it can be very rewarding (here, here!) but that it is difficult to get to that place of peace that let’s the “rewarding” part arrive. I wanted to know why… What is the expressed pain of small business…? What compelling desire do small business owners carry in their solar plexis (or whatever chakra carries their desires) every day as they go about their work?

Here’s what I learned: It’s primarily the juggling of so many tasks (10 people actually used the word “juggling”). That was the most common answer. Second to this was “finding more clients” or “growing the business”.  Of course, then there are the issues of employees, the economy, branding, pricing decisions, travelthe need to wear a zillion hats (regardless of whether those hats are well-suited for you!) like bookkeeper, marketer, service provider, networker, writer, speaker, and customer service department.

Yep – a good amount of “pain” in the mix, to be sure. But that doesn’t surprise any of you, I know. You have your own business pain (and pleasure – of course, the pleasure!)

The Antidote to Pain is Connection (Which is also the Road to Pleasure, isn’t it?)

The cool thing is, almost 75% of respondent’s have friends and colleagues they can go to for problem resolution. Such goodness. This is my favorite way, too. A close second place for dealing with issues is networking groups (which, in my experience, becomes a place full of friends and colleagues over time.) Third place is the Internet – and again, I wonder if a good part of the issue resolution here happens through connection with other people in online forums, on blogs, in Twitter or on Facebook… or any multitude of people-gathering places. In order of popularity from there is Mentor, Books, Publications and finally… the phone book (poor phone book, used to get so much more play before the Internet.)

So, that pretty much sums up the findings of the survey. I’m not pretending that this is a representative sample of the small business population, of course. Still, it’s some good and useful stuff. Tell me – does it reflect your own experience? Does your experience differ? If so, how? What would you add to this survey? What do you believe just didn’t show up here in the right was? I’d genuinely love your thoughts, feedback and ideas – whether they agree or disagree with all of this.

Thanks M. Kelley archaeology for the survey guy image.

Networking & Marketing for Artists, Artisans & Designers

Maya Moon Designs Bags

My friend and client, Maya of Maya Moon Designs, makes seriously stunning handmade leather handbags. I mean she MAKES them, from concept to design to sewing every stitch of the piping on every one of her pieces of practical fashion art. I am blown away regularly by her ideas and creativity. Her gifts are way outside of my own strengths. And every time I carry one of my Maya Moon creations, I feel lighter, happier and way cooler than I usually do (fashion coolness not being one of my more glowing strengths.)

Maya and I have spent a good deal of time discussing how she might answer the oft-asked question, “So, what do you do?” Of course, Maya has the great advantage of wearing her artwork on her arm everywhere she goes, so she can say, “I make handbags” then hold up the stunner of a bag hanging on her arm to speak for itself. This works well – people always get excited, always want to know more, and it is not uncommon for the early beginnings of an actual sale transaction to occur right there in that conversation. Marketing her handbags is pretty easy when she is at a party or networking event (or in the grocery store, really.)

Many of us aren’t so lucky as to wear our art/service/products on our arm wherever we go. This means, we have to figure out how to explain our art in a way that makes a distinction from other artists, expresses the goodness that we bring to our Right Clients, and says very specifically who would most benefit from our wares. Marketing our art requires more descriptive and planned communication.

If you answer the question, “So, what do you do?” with “I’m a jewelry designer” guess what will happen… ? Probably nothing. Maybe they’ll ask what kind of jewelry, if they are intrigued or if they want to extend the conversation. Or, maybe they will nod and place you in the gigantic category of “jewelry designers” ranging from bead jewelers to precious metals to a designer for a mall retailer. In that case, are they going to send friends your way to check out your wares? Or leap on the chance to see the goods themselves? Probably not.

So, what do you say?

Do your best to include at least these three things in your Party Pitch (this is what I call your answer to the question “So, what do you do?”:

  • What you solve
  • For whom you solve it
  • What it’s like to experience your work (some call this part your Unique Selling Proposition. I sort of mean that but more on that later.)

The answers to these questions aren’t always direct in your Party Pitch, but they are there in the message. The point is – a person knows how to refer someone to you (including themselves) who would enjoy your product or service.

Here are some examples:

I design and handcraft precious metal and natural stone organic style jewelry for men and women.

solve: the desire for natural beauty enhancement
for whom: men and women (if it were just women, you don’t have to mention it since jewelry is most often for women.)
the experience: natural, organic, handcrafted… possible assumptions about the experience: down-to-earth, warm, human, egalitarian

I make hand-dyed vibrant nature-themed silk scarves for women which are sold nationally in small boutiques

solve: desire for self-expression of love of nature through wearable art
for whom: women
the experience: high-end quality, one-of-a-kind ownership

I photograph and frame unexpected details of nature, such as closeups of birds feeding their young, for a child’s bedroom, play areas and classrooms.

solve: need and desire for children to experience moments of nature
for whom: parents, caregivers and educators
the experience: kid-centered, unique/unusual (unexpected details of nature), nature-loving

And if you’re thinking you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying all of that in answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”, you’re not alone. The other huge part of having a great, natural Party Pitch is getting used to saying it. Practice, practice, practice… and let variations flow naturally, too…

Just don’t go back to that useless one that tells them nothing about who you are and the brilliance you bring to the world. Okay?