Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wal-Mart speaker sums up real economic impact: 3 must-read paragraphs

You wouldn't think that a presentation by Wal-Mart's U.S. CEO at a Goldman Sachs retail business conference would yield a stirring bird's-eye view of the economic downturn, in terms anyone could understand. But that's just what Bill Simon's talk last week did. It took just 3 paragraphs: the first, a business-minded view of how economic trends affect a gigantic retail business, followed by two more that use just 156 words to leave an indelible impression of what that means for the people shopping in the store:

The paycheck cycle we’ve talked about before remains extreme. It is our responsibility to figure out how to sell in that environment, adjusting pack sizes, large pack at sizes the beginning of the month, small pack sizes at the end of the month. And to figure out how to deal with what is an ever-increasing amount of transactions being paid for with government assistance.
And you need not go further than one of our stores on midnight at the end of the month. And it’s real interesting to watch, about 11 p.m., customers start to come in and shop, fill their grocery basket with basic items, baby formula, milk, bread, eggs,and continue to shop and mill about the store until midnight, when electronic — government electronic benefits cards get activated and then the checkout starts and occurs. And our sales for those first few hours on the first of the month are substantially and significantly higher.
And if you really think about it, the only reason somebody gets out in the middle of the night and buys baby formula is that they need it, and they’ve been waiting for it. Otherwise, we are open 24 hours — come at 5 a.m., come at 7 a.m., come at 10 a.m. But if you are there at midnight, you are there for a reason.
Wal-Mart has made available the presentation and a full transcript of this talk, so you can glean more from the full context. This is a wonderful example--for speakers and speechwriters--on how to take a dry, dismal technical topic and make it relevant to anyone. It's no mistake that these three paragraphs have been widely circulated on the web in less than a week.

Want more? Sign up for the free monthly newsletter, Step Up Your Speaking, which focuses on one speaking skill or issue each month. Then join The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, a vibrant community that gets to discuss these topics before they appear on the blog; or contact me about your public speaking training and coaching needs. Most of the popular articles listed here started as threads on the Facebook page. Thanks for reading and participating!

A new kind of online speaker profile: The topic cloud

I know I just told you about Lanyrd, the "social conference directory" that lets you explore conferences, speakers, topics and more--and better yet, add past and present speeches and presentations (your own or those of others), making it a good roster of experience for speakers.

But Lanyrd's moving fast with new features, and  now supports specific conference sessions as well as whole conferences.  As a result, when speakers tag their topics within sessions, the tags become a "word cloud" on your profile under the heading "Speaks about," as shown in the sample profile at left. The session pages have shorter URLs, making them perfect for sharing on your slides or on Twitter. I think that makes this an even more useful online networking tool for speakers who want to promote their experience and expertise.  Let me know in the comments if you're trying this new tool.

Related posts:  The networked speaker: 10 ways to make the most of your next gig

Want more? Sign up for the free monthly newsletter, Step Up Your Speaking, which focuses on one speaking skill or issue each month. Then join The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, a vibrant community that gets to discuss these topics before they appear on the blog; or contact me about your public speaking training and coaching needs. Most of the popular articles listed here started as threads on the Facebook page. Thanks for reading and participating!