Slaying the Impromptu Dragon

Does just the thought of impromptu public speaking make you sweat? Here are four steps to help you tackle presentations so that you’re never caught off guard again.

 

Has this ever happened to you? Emma arrived at work early, got a cup of coffee and settled into tackling her highest priority task of the day. When, out of nowhere, her boss Bob approached her cubicle and asked the question that strikes fear in the hearts most employees, “Hi Emma...you busy?”

Without waiting for an answer, he indicated that some of the executives from Glitztronics were in for a project status review meeting. Andy, the team lead, had just called in sick, so Bob asked her to fill in and do a five-minute quickie overview for them—right now. “After all,” he said, “you’re the senior member of the project team anyway.”

Instant stress, panic and fear would overtake most people in a similar situation. They couldn’t say no, but would be terrified that they’d blow it and look foolish in front of their clients and their boss. But not Dragon Slayer Emma—she’s a real pro at workplace presentations.

RELATED: Expert answers for your questions on presentations.

Impromptu presentations can be the workplace communicator’s worst nightmare, if you let them. But, having a “what if” plan for just such emergencies can save the day. 

Here’s what Emma did to slay the impromptu dragon—and how you can, too:

Slay the dragon step no. 1: React calmly. Emma first took a deep breath, smiled at Bob and told him she’d be happy to help out—exhibiting a tone of confidence and even appreciation.

Slay the dragon step no. 2: Find out the details. Emma then asked Bob what three or four brief talking points he wanted her to discuss and who specifically would be in the room.

Slay the dragon step no. 3: Gather your thoughts and get to it. Finally, Emma jotted down some quick notes and followed Bob down the hall.

Slay the dragon step no. 4: Continue acting confident. Emma projected not only confidence throughout her presentation, but also enthusiasm over the project and the client. 

After Bob introduced Emma and indicated she was filling in for the absent Andy, it would be an accurate description to say she had them at “hello.” She welcomed the clients, said she was delighted to give them a brief project status and discuss its background, current activity and next series of milestones. She asked them if that agenda worked for their needs and if anyone had any specific questions they wanted to make sure got addressed. Since she hadn’t even seen Andy’s slides, she didn’t use any; she simply did a brief review of the project and asked if they had any other questions. In her quick summary, Emma thanked them again for the opportunity to work with Glitztronics and said she looked forward to their next meeting.

So, you can all learn from a pro like Emma and Slay your Impromptu Dragon. Have a basic structure in mind that can quickly adapt to most any topic and quickly decide on content points and support facts as you walk down the hall. Project confidence, enthusiasm and enjoyment, especially if you’re faking it, and never let them see you sweat.

RELATED: Read more by Phil Stella.

Hey, it worked very well for Emma. She got applause from the clients and glowing comments from Bob, who didn’t forget her stepping up at performance review time.

Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com,440-449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  

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  • Next up: State Budget Bill Passes; Business Income Deduction Largely Preserved

    State Budget Bill Passes; Business Income Deduction Largely Preserved

    Ohio lawmakers passed the state’s biennial budget Wednesday with bipartisan support. Notably, Ohio’s tax deduction for business income will largely be preserved. The budget deal keeps the first $250,000 of income for limited liability corporations and other business entities tax-free, as well as keeping an existing 3% flat rate on income above that.

    Language will be included that make lobbyists and lawyers ineligible for the deduction. This change is supposedly meant to address one of the primary complaints with the tax deduction—that individuals can form businesses without hiring any employees. 

    The deal also eliminates taxes for people in Ohio’s lowest two tax brackets, while cutting other tax rates by 4%.

    GCP supported:

    • Preserving Ohio’s current small business tax deduction, which is utilized by our members for reinvestment back into their companies, workforces, and communities. 
    • Maintaining the 3% flat tax rate that pass-through businesses pay on earnings over $250,000.

    GCP will continue to track ongoing budget developments that impact our members. 

    The Governor received the budget bill late last night and is expected to sign it, with possible line-item vetoes, today.


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  • Next up: State Budget Correction Bill Would Tweak Ohio Business Income Tax Deduction

    State Budget Correction Bill Would Tweak Ohio Business Income Tax Deduction

     

    Among the key issues GCP was engaged in throughout the Ohio budget bill process and over the course of the last several years was our members’ intent to preserve Ohio’s small business tax deduction, which is utilized by our members for reinvestment back into their companies, workforces, and communities.  Ensuring the proper treatment for a variety of business types, expenses, and investments made by business owners—to support the growth of their businesses—is a crucial focus in deliberations on tax policy.

    On Thursday, the Ohio House passed SB 26 unanimously which, in part, reverses provisions that policymakers made in the operating budget bill that required lawyers and lobbyists to pay taxes on all levels of business income, even though all other businesses are exempt on the first $250,000 of income.  SB 26 aims to restore the deduction for those industries reportedly because Ohio tax forms do not require one’s occupation to be listed in the same way that federal tax documents do.  Therefore, SB 26 would also require those to list their occupations going forward on state tax forms.

    Under the plan, the 100% business tax deduction on the first $250,000 in business income remains in place.  And, the bill will now head back to the Ohio Senate for review.

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  • Next up: Substitute HB 166: State Budget Process Continues

    Substitute HB 166: State Budget Process Continues


    A temporary Ohio budget extension was recently approved to keep the government open for business.  Ohioans may expect the Ohio General Assembly to vote on a final state budget bill between now and July 17; the lengthy legislation will then be sent to the Governor for his review and approval. 

    Among the many issues GCP is engaged in, the Senate’s budget bill would require state agencies to review and repeal regulatory restrictions over the course of the next four years, an element of regulatory reform measure Senate Bill 1, legislation which GCP supported.

    In addition, the Senate budget maintains language for an Opportunity Zone tax credit, including allowing the transfer of credits and increasing the share of invested assets in zone property from 90% to 100%. An amendment supported by GCP—to create an Opportunity Zone Study Committee to study best implementation practices from other states and impact investment strategies that support more highly distressed rural and urban communities—was not included in the final bill.

    After the Governor prescribed no significant tax changes earlier this year, the Ohio Senate recommended an 8 percent income tax decrease and the Ohio House approved a 6.6 percent income tax cut.  That aside, GCP has continually requested state leaders consider the following when it comes to predictable tax policy entrepreneurs can plan for:

    • Preserve Ohio’s current small business tax deduction, which is utilized by our members for reinvestment back into their companies, workforces, and communities. 
    • Maintain the 3% flat tax rate that pass-through businesses pay on earnings over $250,000.

    To a view a comparison of budget priorities up until this point between the Governor, Ohio Senate, and Ohio House click here.

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  • Next up: The Importance of GCP’s Political Action Committee

    The Importance of GCP’s Political Action Committee


    GCP members are extensively engaged in and understand the importance of our collective linchpin efforts to boost the economic vitality of the region.  The GCP Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is an important tool to that end.

    Crucial public policy issues in Ohio today include the state budget process, tax and trade policies, the Great Lakes, infrastructure projects, education reform, a predictable regulatory environment, air service, and others.  And, as the political landscape continually evolves it is more important than ever for our business members to have a seat at the table.

    Learn more about the GCP PAC and how you can make a contribution to our shared cause today.


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  • Next up: Tricks AND Treats of Running a Small Business

    Tricks AND Treats of Running a Small Business

    Running a small business may spook some people, but not our COSE members! Read on as they share their tricks AND treats of being small business owners.

     

    We asked some of our COSE members to share with us some TRICKS they swear by when it comes to running their own small businesses, as well as some TREATS they’ve experienced as a result of being a small business owner.

    So don’t be a scaredy cat—pause for a spell and check out what they had to say!

    TRICK: “The best ‘trick’ we have found for finding rockstar employees was taking the time to develop our core values. It makes the hiring process easier because we know that those who succeed at Pandata embody our core values. It's our measuring stick for hiring.”

    TREAT: The greatest ‘treat’ in running this business has been developing a recognizable brand for Pandata. As a career-long marketer, the opportunity to build something essentially from scratch has given me so much personal satisfaction. Hearing people say, ‘I have heard of Pandata’ or ‘I really love your marketing’ makes me proud of how far we have come.”

    Nicole Ponstingle, Pandata

     

    Trick: “One trick we use as a matter of policy is transparency—especially as it pertains to upfront pricing. This way there are no surprises and price-only potential clients filter themselves out of the conversation. We end up getting much more qualified leads and potential clients who are more concerned with value vs price.”

    Treat: “Getting to meet, help and work with local entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area on a daily basis has been such a fulfilling experience. Knowing that we're directly impacting our local economy and local families in a positive way...it doesn't get much better than that!”

    Nachum Langsner, LocalBizGuru

     

    TRICK: “Always have a Service Recovery strategy. No matter how good your service delivery, something will go wrong, either through your own fault or by accident. So, plan for it. Remember that a customer who receives bad service followed by a sincere apology and an outstanding service recovery process often becomes an ‘apostle’—spreading the good news about your company—because people love to tell a good story.”

    TREAT:I get to decide. As a solopreneur I may have to worry about marketing, sales and cash flow, because if I don’t sell, I don’t eat. But two things I never worry about are job security (because I know the boss—me!—isn’t going to lay me off) and feeling stuck in a dead-end job (because I can reinvent myself at any time without waiting for permission)!”

    Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach

     

    TRICK:Identifying and spending time with others (through happy hours, emails, etc) who run a small business in my same industry. Although they are technically competitors, they also experience the same problems I have. Sharing ‘tricks’ of how we have solved the problem we all have, has allowed me to solve these problems more quickly than if I had to figure it out myself…

    Which has led to the TREAT of having this group of fellow small business owners become incredibly great friends and referral sources.”

    Margaret Cassidy, Cassidy Law

     

    TRICK: “One trick that I use is my marching orders to my team members: A video project is not complete until the client is ecstatic at the final showing.”

    TREAT: “A treat I’ve experienced is getting to know so many diverse organizations intimately—their mission, culture and purpose.”

    Tony Weber, Goldfarb Weber Creative Media

     

    TRICK: "I use Survey Monkey to qualify candidates when interviewing. I send it to those whose resumes look solid, with the goal of paring down the candidates for phone interviews. The survey has about seven basic behavioral and technical questions. This helps me determine the candidates that are serious as well as get a better feel for the candidate’s writing style, communication skills and thinking. It reduces the need to conduct a ton of phone interviews as well."

    TREAT: "I’ve really gotten a chance to harness my creativity and vision. Whether it’s building our solutions out, tackling sales goals or building our community impact initiatives, running my own business allows me the freedom to think, create ideas and make them happen!"

    Nevin Bansal, Outreach Promotions and Small Biz Cares

     

    TRICK: “When applying for a small business loan, time your loan request to coincide with the date when your year-end tax return will be completed by your accountant. That way, when your banker asks for a ‘current financial statement within 90 days of application’ you’ll already have it and won’t have to pay her to do a new one for you!”

    TREAT: “Don’t be scared to consult your local economic development professional at your City Hall when considering an expansion. You never know what incentives they might have available to help your business grow. For example, businesses in Cleveland, Lakewood, Fairview Park, Maple Heights, Shaker Heights, and Cleveland Heights have received performance grant assistance from the city in conjunction with their SBA-backed loans. Maybe you can, boo!

    Raymond Graves, Lender Relations Specialist, Cleveland District Office U.S. Small Business Administration

     

    TRICK: “After I have interviewed someone and the pressure is off the potential candidate, I have two of my employees interview and talk to the potential applicant. They answer any questions they might have about working at SACS Consulting, culture, etc. I explain to my two employees: ‘You are the ones that will work with this potential candidate day to day and not me—so see what you think.’ It is amazing without our people asking much at all what the candidates volunteer and ask—which tells us if they are a good fit or not and increases our hiring success rates!”

    Tim Dimoff, CEO and President of SACS Consulting

     

    We hope you have enjoyed these tricks and treats and we wish you happy haunting!

     

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