Thursday, January 3, 2008

insights from women CEOs

I'll be moderating a live interview with Julie Lenzer Kirk, Path Forward International, as part of the "CEO Insights" speaker series for the Washington, DC, chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Lenzer Kirk is the former CEO and President of Applied Creative Technologies, Inc. (ACT), an IT solutions firm which she founded in 1995 in the basement of her home. She built the company into a 24-employee multi-million dollar firm with Fortune 100 clients. Her latest ventures are as president of Path Forward International and author of the newly-published book The ParentPreneur Edge: What Parenting Teaches About Building a Successful Business.

”CEO Insights: Interviews with Top Washington Women Business Owners"
When: Thursday, January 31, 2008
Where: Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Time: 5:15pm-6:00p.m. Registration & Networking
6:00p.m.-7:00p.m. Program
7:00p.m.-7:30p.m. Reception
Registration details appear here.

when you don't know what to say

Every speaker encounters moments when the words you need don’t emerge on time. That’s especially true in question-and-answer sessions and media interviews, but it may happen to you in any speaking situation. For those occasions when you just need time to think about what to say next, here are some stepping stones to get you across the deep river of stumbles and silence--tips to help you gather and express your thoughts:
Use a neutral phrase to buy yourself some time. A medium-length phrase lets you get a response started, while thinking what you’ll say at its end. “I’m trying to recall a time when that happened” or “Let’s look at the evidence on that point” move your answer forward while buying you time.

Use a time-buying phrase instead of “um” or “uh.” For many speakers, “um” and “uh” are signals that they’re trying to think of what to say. Replace them with a time-buying phrase to sound more eloquent and responsive.

Incorporate your own experience to answer the question while buying time. “No one’s ever asked me that before” or “I’ve spent 20 years doing this research and that’s never come up once” buy you several moments to gather your thoughts and help the audience learn a bit more about you in the process.

Don’t over-use your time-buying phrase. “That’s a really good question” is well on its way to being the most over-used phrase interviewees or speakers employ to buy time. If you say it over and over again, your audience will tune out—and you’ll be emphasizing that you don’t know what to say.

Don’t use a phrase that’s too short. Many speakers or media interview subjects start every answer with “So…” or “Well…” and, over the course of one presentation or interview, those words become like “ums,” “uhs,” or other awkward pauses—they sound like a mistake and are too short to buy time.

If appropriate to the question, use the time-buying phrase to redirect the answer to a point you want to make. Many questioners pose a query that presumes a certain answer: “Have you always wanted to be a writer?” or “Didn’t you enjoy the talk by Dr. Smith?” If you need to say no nicely in response, soften it with a time-buying phrase (“It probably sounds as if I did, but that isn’t the case”) and follow up with your real answer (“In fact, I always thought I’d be a fireman” or “We disagree on many of the key points”).
With practice, you can learn to automatically take this approach instead of using ums and uhs to buy time.