I recently had the pleasure of co-presenting “Speak Up: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations” at the 2013 National Association of Professional Organizers Conference in New Orleans. My co-presenter was Monica Ricci, and we presented this as a half-day pre-conference workshop.

speaking-LisaWhy present a workshop on speaking? Glad you asked!

There are so many reasons to become a dynamic public speaker. If you own your own business, the reasons are plentiful. Many business owners want to be good presenters these days as they want to speak to add an income stream. Yes, you can get paid to conduct presentations. Organizations need great speakers who have superb content to share and teach. But speaking can also be an effective marketing tactic. Every time you speak, you are setting yourself up as an expert, someone that has information to share. People take notice. Your credibility increases. Your sales may too.

What if you don’t own a business? No excuse! If you work for an organization, you may conduct presentations of all different types, ranging from sales pitches, staff meetings, client meetings, Board meetings, etc. Even in a volunteer position, you are often required to speak and give presentations.

Learning how to be a good speaker is not only useful for official presentations. It will help you be a better communicator in many other ways. When you are at a networking event and engage in a conversation with someone, you are speaking. When you are outlining the benefits of working with you or your organization, you are speaking. When you are delivering a teleclass or webinar, you are speaking. That welcome video on your site? Yup. Speaking. You get the picture.

To me, being a good speaker is part of an overall plan to be an effective communicator. Most people think of speaking as on ly what comes out of your mouth. However, your oral communication is just one part of your speaking. Speaking also encompasses your non-verbal communication, which includes posture, hand gestures, eye contact, and much much more.
public_speakerIn fact, research shows that what comes out of your mouth is a very small percentage of what the audience pays attention to. Most speakers focus a great deal on content. And that is appropriate You should have solid content. That is a foundation of a stellar presentation. But the full package requires that you also pay attention to delivery. A lot goes into a great presentation: What you say, how you say it, what you are doing with your hands, body and eyes as you say it, and more.

Speaking should be a vital part of any professional person’s bag of tricks. It should be something you focus on, practice often, and improve upon. I have coac hed speakers that are professional organizers, nurses, politicians, rabbis… even a farmer! Effective communication is a fantastic skill for anyone that wants to get his or her point across clearly, concisely, enthusiastically, and persuasively.

So, get out there and speak! The world needs to hear you.

As more and more small business owners are leaning towards “on demand” everything (music, movies, books) to download/stream instantly, I’m noticing some changes in the way that small business owners like to learn.

The ground is shifting very quickly when it comes to education and the delivery of training materials and information.

I’m teaming up with Karyn Greenstreet to find out exactly which ways you like to absorb new content, learn new skills, acquire new knowledge for your business and professional life.

member_surveyWe’re asking small business owners to take this quick, 2-minute survey with six easy questions.

But even 2 minutes is a lot when you’re busy, so we’re making it irresistible by offering you 22 practical, helpful free educational bonuses, just for completing the survey.

Can I ask you the favor of taking just 2 minutes from your schedule today to take our survey? Here’s where you can take it online. http://bit.ly/11PBenk

Thank you for your help!

Lisa_and_Monica-NAPO-3I just got back from co-presenting a pre-conference session at the 2013 National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) Conference in New Orleans. My fabulous co-presenter was Monica Ricci. We had a blast presenting the workshop, “Speak Up! Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations.” There were about 36 attendees, and the workshop was 4 hours long. And the workshop was a real hit, thankfully, but that’s not the main point here. What is the main point is the story behind the workshop and how it came about.

Monica served as Moderator of the popular Ask the Organizer Panel at the NAPO Conference for years. 10 years to be exact. In 2010, I had the distinct honor of serving as a panelist under Monica’s moderation. I was smitten. Okay, that may sound strange, but when I meet someone who is a great presenter, a smarty pants, has a killer sense of humor, and a great sense of style, I take notice. So, we became buddies. Little did we know what the future would hold.

The following year in 2011, I was selected to be the Moderator of the first-ever Golden Circle Ask the Organizer Panel, which was made up of organizers that were Golden Circle members, but would be presented in front of all conference attendees. Monica stayed in her role as Moderator of the traditional Ask the Organizer Panel. And so we worked side by side, taking photos together, sharing ideas and notes about our respective panels, and enjoying our roles.

Lisa_and_MonicaIn 2012, we both served as Moderators again, but this time both panels would have pre-submitted questions, which was never the case in the past for Monica’s panels. So we worked even more closely together as my Golden Circle Panel functioned by having pre-submitted questions only. Apparently, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks when the “old dog” (you know what I mean… not talking age here folks!) is a pro. Monica knocked the panel out of the park even with pre-submitted questions and was able to go out with a bang as that was her last year serving as moderator. I had one more year left to my 3-year term as Moderator.

My good friend and colleague, Andrea Bowser, was hanging out with Monica and I in 2012 and commented to me afterwards how it was too bad we would no longer both be serving as Moderators. She suggested how cool it would be if Monica and I teamed up to co-present something together at the conference in the future. Lightning struck! I contacted Monica and the rest, as they say, is history.

We submitted a pre-conference session on speaking, which seemed only natural as we are both professional speakers and have served in that role at the NAPO Conference for years. We prepared for months via Skype and phone, and really enjoyed the process. We created all content together, organized the presentation, and timed it out. We then split up the sub-topics, each taking ones to present, so that we weren’t talking over each other too much (we are both talkers so were concerned about it getting too chatty!). We wanted it to be interactive, so added in exercises, stories, and role playing.

Monica shared that she had never co-presented before. This was news to me!! I felt honored that she trusted me enough to team up together, and was hoping it would go really well.

And it did. It was an absolute blast for us to present, and our attendees, thankfully loved it. We are humbled by the rave reviews, and are thrilled that the attendees are all pumped up to get out there and speak more, and speak better.

Lisa_and_Monica-NAPO-2The moral of this story is that you have to go for it! Set your sights on something and make it happen. I could have dismissed Andrea’s comment and not approached Monica. Monica could have said no, especially given that she had never co-presented with someone before. NAPO could have rejected the proposal to present. But the stars aligned. In some ways, it goes even farther back than that. Monica could have held a grudge that she had to share her Moderator role with an interloper (that would be me!) when I was selected to take over the Golden Circle Panel. But she didn’t. She embraced the change, welcomed me to the inner sanctum, and became my ally. That decision and attitude led to the two of us becoming partners in crime… a dynamic duo. And I for one am not only grateful for it, but look forward to what the future holds. Look out world, here we come…

“How committed are you?” This is the question I asked the participants of Speak Up: Crafting and Delivering Killer Presentations that I co-presented with my colleague and friend, Monica Ricci, as a pre-conference session at the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) 2013 Conference held in New Orleans from April 17-20. We were entering the 4th hour of our half-day workshop, and I was introducing the last module of our program, called Expect the Unexpected. But to fully grasp the meaning behind my question, I must back up and fill you in on what I am now calling my Planes, Trains and Automobiles experience (okay, sans the trains if we are being technical!).

Lisa_at_NAPO_table

All of the materials for my Expo table were in my carry on bag.

I set out to travel to the NAPO conference early morning on April 16th to ensure that I would arrive the day before my workshop, which was to start at 8:00 am on April 17th. Ah… the best laid plans. I packed a large suitcase as I was to be on business traveling for 10 days in the Southeast, first to New Orleans to speak at the NAPO Conference, and then to Tampa to speak at a law placement conference. I dutifully paid my $25 checked baggage fee on American Airlines and was on my way. Usually, I would put my presentation outfit in my carry on bag, but that was filled with materials for the table I purchased as an Exhibitor at the NAPO Expo & Marketplace. (This was my first lesson learned… always pack your presentation outfit in your carry on no matter what!)

At first, things seemed great. I sat next to two very friendly and interesting people for the first leg from Sacramento to Dallas, where I was to connect to a flight to New Orleans, putting me in the Big Easy by late afternoon. But when we landed in Dallas, the pilot announced that we could not “park” the plane as American Airlines’ computer system had gone down and they had no directions as to how to proceed. We then sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting further direction. Eventually, we found out that it was system wide, and not just in Dallas. Apparently, there is no back up plan for when the computers go down, except to wait for them to come back up. As a productivity expert, this incensed me as I started going through in my mind the procedure that should have been in place for this type of scenario. After an hour, they started taking people off the 7 planes stuck out on the tarmac and brought us to the terminal via buses.

As soon as I arrived in the terminal and saw what a mess it was, in terms of how many people were stuck there and how many flights were delayed and canceled, my first reaction was to rent a car to get to New Orleans. I checked Google Maps on my iPhone and learned that it was an 8.5 hour drive. Ouch! I had woken really early to get to the airport so was a bit sleep deprived and worried about making that drive alone. It was now about 2:00 pm on Tuesday, April 16th and I calculated that I wouldn’t arrive in New Orleans until 11:00 pm at the earliest, as there was no way I could drive that long without stopping.

Twiiter-travelSo, I waited. And waited. And waited. And I tweeted on Twitter, and posted on Facebook to keep my friends, family, clients and followers apprised of the situation. A reporter from NBC News emailed me and asked if she could interview me about the situation. She had seen one of my tweets. I complied and the next thing I knew, I was on the phone filling her in. Her story went to print a few hours later, unfortunately before the “real” story unfolded. When her story went to print, it ended with me getting ready to board a 7:00 pm flight to New Orleans. Ah, timing is everything. That’s not what happened. No indeed!

At 7:00 pm, we were advised that our crew had gone “illegal,” which we found out meant they had left the airport. Okay… so when will the next crew arrive, we asked. Not until tomorrow morning at 10:00 am. What? Excuse me? It is only 7:00 pm, we have been here for 6 hours waiting, almost all other flights have taken off or been rescheduled, but for New Orleans, there were no flights going out that evening. That was the harsh reality. In that split second, I had to make a choice. I went up to the desk and very clearly and loudly, but politely asked if they would re-route us onto other airlines. The American Airlines agent said that it was not their responsibility to do that and the next flight was the one the next morning. That was our only choice. I mentioned that I had to present at 8:00 am the next day, so that was unacceptable. I was told to go out to the customer care desk and wait on line with others. I saw the writing on the wall. There was no hope with getting a flight that night. So I turned around, looked at my fellow passengers and said “Who wants to drive with me to New Orleans? I have to be there in time to present at 8:00 am?” A woman stepped forward, and we started planning out the trip. Then two more women (a couple that had just been married in the state of Washington after being together for 25 years — this was the first day of their honeymoon!), and a man.

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my "all nighter."

View of sun rising over Mississippi River from my hotel room in New Orleans after my “all nighter.”

The 5 of us quickly rallied. We rented a car, decided who would drive the first leg, navigated out of the airport (it felt so good to be out of that airport after 6+ hours!), stopped for provisions for the long drive and to charge cell phones quickly, and introduced ourselves and shared why we were heading to New Orleans. All of them were from the Seattle area, and two of them even had a mutual acquaintance back home. Yes, they were total strangers and I was taking a big chance, but they seemed pretty normal, and “stranger antenna” wasn’t beeping, so I had a suspicion it would be okay. I sent a text to my husband, who was of course, nervous and asked me if the man seemed normal (I realized later he never went to sleep until I was at the hotel in New Orleans to make sure I arrived safely and to call and text me every few hours to stay in touch!). Winds up that he and I spent the most time driving and talking in the front seat, and he spends his life helping people that need organ transplants. Talk about a nice guy. (Please refrain from jokes about how he was planning to kill us and steal our organs — I’ve heard it many times already since I told this story!)

The ride was long, but thankfully flat and with perfect weather conditions. It was dark and desolate, but that also meant hardly any traffic. After my turn at the wheel, I was forced to sit on the hump in the middle of the back seat because I was the smallest. Between that uncomfortable position, and the fact that one of the drivers was, let’s say, not the smoothest of drivers (she had many cans of Red Bull to keep herself awake, but that also made her a bit jumpy!), sleep was out of the question. Not a wink. I wound up being in charge of the music, which we accessed from my iPad because every station between Texas and Louisiana is either religious or honky-tonk country, and none of us had a taste for either. Pandora’s Motown station fit the bill, kept us awake, had something all of us knew and could bee-bop along to, and seemed appropriate as this was sort of a Big Chill experience in some ways.

Lisa_and_Monica3We drove by Baton Rouge, which I had visited last year with my husband when he interviewed for a veterinary residency position at Louisiana State University (we wound up in Davis, CA, a lovely town, but I digress). I had never been so happy to see a familiar place!  A little after 4:30 am, we arrived in New Orleans. I was dropped off first based on my hotel location and the fact that I was presenting in a few hours. Bless their hearts! (This, I learned, is a pretty typical Southern phrase, and one that you say in earnest, but often times, out of sarcasm too!).

By the time I checked in and got upstairs to my hotel room, it was just about 5:00 am. I was to be standing in front of a room full of people that paid to attend the pre-conference workshop I was co-presenting in 3 hours. I had no luggage (it arrived at 7:30 am the next day), which meant no clothes or toiletries. Thankfully, my amazing colleagues came through for me, and I was brought a dress and shoes to wear, which fit perfectly I might add (I posted my clothes and shoe sizes on Facebook, with a plea for clothes back at the airport hours earlier when I saw the writing on the wall!). The hotel gave me a toothbrush and I borrowed other toiletries from my very understanding roommate that I woke up when I arrived. What about my undergarments you ask? Nothing is open at 5:00 am, and even if they were, I was not about to roam the streets of New Orleans looking for underwear. So, after I showered, I not only dried my hair with the blow dryer, I also dried my underwear! (I kid you not.)

Lisa_and_Monica

Ready to present in my borrowed dress and shoes with Monica Ricci.

My co-presenter had a plate of breakfast food waiting for me in the room when I came down to present, which I gobbled up, along with a mug of hot tea. Then it was 8:00 am and time to begin. Despite having left my home in California more than 24 hours before, having no sleep, and dealing with the stressful travel events that unfolded, the show had to go on. Adrenaline kicked in, and I was ready to go. I stood before the group in someone else’s dress, another person’s shoes, my own (now clean and almost fully dry!) underwear, and thankfully, my own jewelry that I wore on the plane and happened to match my new outfit perfectly. I had my notes for the presentation in my carry on (and in my head as we had prepared for this for months), and my co-presenter had the slides ready to go on her Mac already hooked up to the projector.

We decided not to share my ordeal with the audience up front as we didn’t want it to pull focus. We thought it would have much more impact if we brought it up during the last section, Expect the Unexpected. Which brings me full circle to the question I asked the participants: “How committed are you?”

I did not intend to ask that question. But, as I stood in front of them, all of a sudden it seemed quite clear that this was the crux of the matter. Whether it is making a speaking engagement, or anything else in life that matters, the issue becomes how committed are we. There are many challenges we face, some bigger than others. We are constantly forced to make decisions. We often think of giving up. I certainly thought of it many times during my harried travel experience. I could have stayed overnight in Dallas and taken that flight the next morning, and told NAPO, my co-presenter, and the participants that I just couldn’t make it. Luckily, my co-presenter could have presented the entire workshop without me. But I did not want to let her down. I also did not want to let NAPO down who had chosen me for this role. I definitely did not want to let the participants down who had paid good money, and taken time out of their busy schedules to attend this workshop and expected it to have not one, but two, presenters. And I also did not want to let myself down. I was looking forward to this, and had the power to make it work. I was committed in every sense of the word.

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel - in my own clothes and shoes!

Monica and I a few days later when I moderated the Ask the Organizer Panel – in my own clothes and shoes!

And in the long run, that commitment not only affected me, but so many people around me. They rose to the occasion, helping me arrive safely, dressing me, feeding me, supporting me, and letting me know that I could do it, and they were there to help. That meant a lot to me and proved that when we are committed, it not only helps us, but has an amazing domino effect too. Word spread about what I went through to get there and how many people helped me in so many ways. It became bigger than just one person experiencing a Planes, Trains and Automobiles ordeal, and overcoming it. We felt like we were all in it together. And the participants of the workshop felt that they were important and mattered.

In the end, that may have been the most important lesson for all of us. Commitment is contagious.  It is much bigger than just the one experience or person. It creates a commitment wave that spreads wide and goes deep. And for that, I am grateful. I will gladly learn that lesson again, even if it means no sleep, driving overnight with strangers… and yes, blow drying my underwear!

For years, I have been contacted by professional organizers looking to purchase solid Done-For-You Business Foundations Templates. Well, here they are! And at special Introductory Rates that I am offering at the NAPO 2013 Conference in New Orleans and online on my website until May 31st.

These business templates are what every organizer in business needs. They provide the foundation of a well-protected business legally and financially. They make it easier to operate your business, and to sell it someday as the business is “blueprinted” through the use of these templates over time. Designed by a professional organizer, attorney, and business coach/consultant/strategist, they are field tested and will save you from having to reinvent the wheel, copy something from the internet that is not applicable and will, therefore, not hold up in court, or spend tons of money on an expensive attorney that doesn’t understand the organizing industry.

business_contractThe full package includes a Client Agreement Template, Independent Contractor Agreement Template, and Operations Manual Template, along with detailed instructions, bonus articles on key issues, two audio programs for you to go deeper into learning and customizing, and a Business Expenses Excel Spreadsheet! All templates are delivered to you digitally in PDF to preserve the formatting, and Word so you can make them your own and customize.

In addition, I am offering a special upgrade at the time of purchase only: Add on a Strategy Session with me to customize any of the templates or ask questions for only an extra $150 (that’s $50 off the regular rate of $200!).

For those going to Conference:

  • Please stop by my Marketplace Table in the Expo Hall to say hello and purchase the Business Foundations Template Package. It will be delivered to you digitally by email, so you don’t need to worry about carrying anything home with you!
  • If you think this product is a valuable contribution to our industry, please consider reflecting that by voting for it in the Organizer’s Choice Awards (ballots are due by the end of the day Thursday, April 18th!).
  • special_offerThe Package is being offered at special Introductory Rates at Conference, but for those that can’t join me live in New Orleans, you can get the same deal on my website until May 31st while the Introductory Rates are in effect. Visit https://www.lisamontanaro.com/store/products/businessfoundations/ to order online any time.
  • I will be raffling off a free 75-minute Strategy Session at Conference so be sure to drop your business card (or name and email address) in our collection pouch at my Marketplace Table to win a Kick-Butt Business Coaching Session with me (a $200 value).
  • I will be launching the Bold Business Moves 6-Month Mastermind Program for experienced entrepreneurs ready to take their business to the next level, and the 12-week Powerhouse Success Entrepreneur Group Coaching Program for newer entrepreneurs who want training and coaching at an affordable rate. More details will be available at my Marketplace Table and in the weeks following Conference, so be sure to stop by and check your inbox in the weeks after Conference for all of the details and registration, so you don’t miss out!

Looking forward to seeing many of you in person in New Orleans!

I am delighted to be presenting Time to Get Organized for City of Sacramento employees on March 27th. I am looking forward to sharing valuable tips on how to effectively organize time, space, paper, and possessions by practicing good decision-making techniques, creating a system that works,
and integrating the system into your life. The goal will be to help participants shift their mindset and change their behavior. Hopefully, there will be a lot more organized and productive City employees afterward!

If your organization, corporation, or municipality is interested in offering a professional development workshop similar to this one, let’s chat! I do take my show on the road… 🙂

city_of_sacramento-March27th2013

Recently, I was preparing the garbage and recycling to bring to the curb for pick up, and my husband was watching me and chuckled “It’s so funny. You really like doing the recycling, don’t you?” I stopped and thought about it, and then replied, “I don’t necessarily like the activity, but I love the results.” And then it hit me like a ton of bricks! This simple statement can be applied to so many things! Whether it is getting organized, doing chores around the house, working on a big business or work project… you name it! There are many tasks, activities, and responsibilities that we do day in and day out, or even once in awhile, that we may not necessarily like. So why do we do them? Because we love the results!

resultsAt home, I like the results I get from keeping a clean house and keeping up with the chores that entails. I may not love the actual tedious task of emptying the dishwasher, but I know I will be happy to have clean dishes in the cabinets when I go to grab for them. Likewise, doing the laundry isn’t the most fun activity in the world, but I love having clean, fresh smelling clothes and a wide variety of outfits to choose from at any one time. I delegate the larger task of cleaning the entire house to very competent house cleaners that come in every other week, but it is up to my husband and I to maintain it in between, and keep up with the daily tasks that the house cleaners don’t handle.

When it comes to my business, there are some tasks that are more boring, tedious, or time consuming than others. Some of them I am lucky enough to delegate to one of my team members, like my Virtual Assistant or Webmaster. But yet, there are still times when I must do some of these tasks myself. And I do. Why? Because I enjoy the results that they bring to my business, and realize that they are necessary for my business growth and development.

I had the pleasure of attending the National Speakers Association (NSA) Winter Conference this year held in San Francisco. It was a wonderful event, as almost all NSA events tend to be. The fabulous speaker and former NSA President, Mark LeBlanc, delivered the closing keynote. He made one statement that struck me to the core and made me realize it is the crux of almost all personal and professional development. He stated: “Consistency trumps commitment every time.” Wow! We can be as committed as we want, but unless we follow that with consistent action, nothing will change. This is really where the rubber meets the road. People ask me all of the time, “What do you think motivates people to do the things they do, even if they don’t want to do them?” I think it is that some people are able to look pa st the activity itself and focus on the results.

When you are able to view the actual task or activity as the means to an end, you will be a lot less focused on it. Using the popular “glass is half full” adage, you can look at it like this: Focusing on the task or activity is viewing the glass as half empty. Focusing on the results is viewing the glass as half full. Our commitment or resolve may be strong. We may want certain things. We may wish for them, think about them, vent about them, and spend a lot of time and effort committing to them in the sense that they are on our radar and we know we should focus on them and make them a priority. But unless we do something about them, and take real action, we will not get results. And it’s not just doing something once in awhile, when the stars are aligned in a certain way. It is taking action on a consistent basis that makes the real difference.

So next time you are faced with a task or activity that you don’t necessarily like, focus on the results instead. Will you love the result? If so, let that be the motivation to take action. And remember, consistency trumps commitment every time.

I was recently invited by my colleague and fabulous blogger, Janet Barclay, to comment on a post about naming your business, and thought many could benefit from my response. So I am sharing it here. If you want to read Janet’s original post that it relates to, and other great comments, click here.

As you know, I rebranded last year (by choice). I kept the name of my professional organizing division which I founded in 2002 as LM Organizing Solutions, but now have a new parent company name, Lisa Montanaro Global Enterprises. I chose that name for several reasons: 1) I am going global, playing in a bigger sandbox, and wanted to share that intention through the name, 2) I am running a personal brand, and 3) I mostly use my real name online and that is what I noticed people would search for. To be honest, I use the business name less and less now, and focus more on my “brands” and “slogans” to market myself, always connecting them to my real name. My corporate name does not show up in many places. This was a very strategic decision.

business buildingAs a business coach and legal consultant for organizers and other entrepreneurs, I have seen the ugly side of business naming. Many clients have had to rename their businesses due to trademark disputes. I have filed trademarks for my clients, negotiated consent agreements for them to use the same name as another business owner, and advised them to rebrand altogether when the trademark issue was not on their side or too expensive to pursue.

But this can often be avoided up front, as you suggested. I use a 4-part test with my clients when choosing a business name:

  1. Domain Name Search – Check to make sure you can get the domain name that you want to represent your proposed business name.
  2. USPTO search – You can conduct a free search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office site at USPTO.gov or use a paid service to research trademarks nationwide.
  3. State Corporations Database Search – You can do a quick search on the Secretary of State web page to see whether your name is available. If the name is available, you may want to reserve the name through the Secretary of State, but you are not required to do so before forming your business entity.
  4. NAPO Member Directory Search – If you are a professional organizer, you should check to see if the proposed name is already being used by a NAPO member. Remember, it is not NAPO’s responsibility to police names as a professional association. It is the business owners!

What does success mean? Depends who you ask! Check out this wonderful collaborative blog post that examines what success means… Good stuff in here (one post by yours truly!)

Welcome to the Success issue of the Professional Organizers Blog Carnival! As happens so often, I am simply delighted at the many different ways the 20 participants approached this very important topic. So grab a cup of your favorite beverage, and get ready to be inspired! Click here for all articles.

And read my article, How Do You Define Business Success, here.