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How to Support Friends’ Projects

How to Support Friends’ Projects

We’ve all been on one side or the other of this equation: we’ve done something new, something creative, and we’re really proud of it. We ask our friends to get involved, and tell us what they think, and the friend says, “Wow! That’s really great. I like it. I like it.”

You, as the creative type, are crushed. Nothing sounds more like “This is horrible, and I’m not really getting it, nor do I think I have even one good thing to say about it” the way “I like it. I like it” does.

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On the other side, maybe you’re the appreciator, and you’re thinking, “I know absolutely nothing about Klesmer music, so how do I know if it’s good or bad?” So what do you tell your friend? Here are some thoughts:

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  • Feedback helps improve things– It’s pretty rare that someone’s project will be 100% perfect. Giving someone a compliment or two, followed by some food for thought on improving the effort is a great way to help the creator understand another person’s perspective, and perhaps better develop their effort for next time.
  • This is not the “feedback sandwich”– Which is: “I like you, this sucks, but I like you.” Instead, be sure you give all your good notes, and if you offer criticism, make sure you say it in a way that’s actionable. “I liked the pieces. I could’ve used a little more balance between the different audio segments. I had to really crank it for the fourth one, and then turn it down fast for the last.”
  • Give actionable advice– Saying “this could really use some improvement,” is about as good as saying, “I like whales, because I do.” Instead, tell the creator of the project, “Your software really is slick. I’m a keyboard gal, myself. Do you have keyboard shortcuts? Is that coming in a future release?”
  • Sometimes, it’s a matter of tastes– Be on the lookout for when something is strictly a matter of taste. You might not like leopard print upholstry, but if your old college buddy says he feels like the old Dokken days, don’t stomp on him. Just say, “Whoa. That’s certainly your style, Joe.” If they’re clever, they know.
  • It’s about them, not you– Leave your biography out of it. If you don’t like something because of when you were twelve and the babysitter locked you in the closet and blared Enya for hours, just acknowledge all the positives you can muster, and simply state that it’s not your style directly, but you could see where people might connect with it.
  • Imagine the crowd at large, and not just yourself– If you’re truly fishing for ways to empower the creative type, think of 100 people getting a chance to experience this product or service or experience. Tell your creative friend, “Wow, sailors who like Anne Murray and who snowboard are really going to love your new boot warmers.” It’s a good compliment, but says nothing about you directly.
  • Be as honest as you can– again, and finally, don’t be an ass. Try to couch things in a way that you affirm your friendship (or relationship) with the person, but do everything you can to be helpful. Sometimes, creative types are throwing a hundred prototypes out there to see what makes sense, what sticks. If you’re just nodding like a bobble head at all of them, what’s that going to do for your creative friend? Be true.

Ultimately, the goal of most creative class types is to do something that they can be proud of, and that others will find useful. Your participation in the process is valuable, and more so than your blanket phrases and kindness. Be true, be courteous, and be receptive to the needs and hopes of your creative friends.

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Oh, and if you’re the creative, realize that other people won’t always get where you’re going, because they can’t see all the details that you’ve still got stuck in your very active head. That’s okay, too.

–Chris Brogan just helped a friend launch a creative new podcast called The Great Big Small Business Show. He would love for you to try this lesson in person, after you sample the friend’s project. Other times, Chris writes at [chrisbrogan.com]

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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