How to Deliver a Powerful Speech in Less than 10 Minutes

Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes with a riveting speech that opened with a childhood memory not many people will forget. With just a few words, Oprah painted a picture for the audience that acts as a reminder to all aspiring (and seasoned) speakers about what it takes to deliver a powerful speech.

“In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for Best Actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: the winner is Sidney Poitier. Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white and, of course, his skin was black; and I’ve never seen a black man being celebrated like that. And I tried many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl; a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses.”

What makes this opening story so powerful is Oprah’s skillful use of language and detail; it’s not hard to imagine a black child sitting cross-legged on a linoleum floor staring at a television set watching a glamorous movie star open a white envelope, and then, lean into a microphone to announce the winner’s name. In my mind’s eye, I can see a striking black man in a perfect tie glide up to the stage to receive his award.

The details are exquisite in their precision: linoleum floor; house in Milwaukee; Anne Bancroft; Oscar For Best Actor; 36th Academy Awards; five words; white tie; cheap seats; bone-tired; cleaning other people’s houses.

The retelling of the moment and its significance took Oprah 124 words and less than one minute to tell. Her entire speech was less than 10 minutes long, including the many standing ovations and rally cries she received during the delivery of it.

There’s a lot business professionals can learn from Oprah’s Golden Globes acceptance speech including the most important lesson of all: when it comes to delivering high-impact presentations, less is more.

Inspiring Audiences

Many business leaders and professionals dream of delivering ovation-worthy speeches that inspire audiences to think differently, act differently and shake-up the status quo. They dream of sharing their big ideas on large stages with audiences around the world with power and poise. Few, however, manage to pull it off.

Many speakers get bogged down in irrelevant details, long-winded tangents and self-serving stories that serve to distract, rather than inspire their audiences. Instead of shepherding listeners to greener pastures, too many speakers take their audiences down long, meandering paths that lead nowhere. The key to delivering a powerful and memorable talk is to abstain from long-winded monologues.

Pick a theme and stick to it.

I work with speakers from all over the world helping them to develop content and, invariably, I see many of them falling into the same trap: they try to pack too much in one speech, afraid to leave something out. I see this especially with my subject matter experts who have decades of knowledge they want to share with their audiences.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to share what you know. But you can’t do it all in one shot. It’s kind of like going to a buffet and eating everything all at once; chances are, it’s going to make you feel a little queasy. Similarly, when you share too much information or too many storylines with your audience, it’s going to make them feel overwhelmed and maybe even a little queasy. In her Golden Globes speech, Oprah focused on the theme of gender and racial equality; she delivered flawlessly.

So don’t try to pack in too much. Pick a theme and stick with it.

Choose your vocabulary carefully.

Oprah’s choice of words was, no doubt, careful and deliberate. She was intentional in her vocabulary. She used succinct and emotional language to powerfully convey exactly what she wanted to say and, more importantly, what she wanted the audience to feel. “A kid watching from the cheap seats”, for instance, evokes an image in the listeners mind that speaks volumes. Instead of given a lengthy explanation of her poor and humble childhood, Oprah painted a vivid picture with just seven words.

Remember this: You can say a lot with a few words. So choose your words carefully and let them do the heavy lifting. After all, The effective presenters know that being clear and concise is their most powerful tool.

Everything You Want to Know About Blockchain but Are Too Embarrassed to Ask

Arguably one of the biggest buzzwords of 2018, blockchain appears complicated when actually it is not. Simply put, it is a digital ledger no one can disrupt and all relevant information is known to all parties involved.  It fosters a new generation of transactions that establish trust, accountability, and transparency–from contracts to deeds to payments.

Why this is important?

Industry Impact: Blockchain represents the fundamental transaction technology for large complex ecosystems.

Enterprise Impact: Blockchain has the potential to disrupt the core of IT and its major digital processing systems. The last time this happened was with package software.

Blockchain is the technology underlying Bitcoin, but it is independent of it.  When you look at the technology in action you’ll find a myriad of possibilities ranging from:

  • Intercompany Transactions: Interdepartmental ledgers and transactions; shared resources and assets
  • Asset Management: Ownership registers; bill of materials 
  • Assurance and Compliance: Tracking certified conflict-free diamonds; title or ownership management 
  • Transaction Support: Bitcoin exchanges
  • Commerce: M2M / IoT and mobile

In the commercial world Barclays has launched a number of blockchain initiatives involving tracking financial transactions, compliance and combating fraud. Maersk unveiled plans for a blockchain solution for streamlining marine insurance.  When you look at governments Dubai, Estonia, and South Korea are all using blockchain for public safety, public records, and even business registration.  

For SMB owners there are a slew of solutions, growing by the day, that you can leverage to bring blockchain to the core of your IT infrastructure.

Provence enables traceability in the supply chain, and the story of where products came from.  The platform is free for producers, and there is a monthly pricing model for both small retailers and large businesses.

Chain partners with companies to build, deploy, and operate blockchain networks that enable breakthrough financial products and services. Chain offers enterprise licensing and is designed to be developer friendly. Claim Core powers both financial transactions and issuance.

Loyyal introduces interoperability to the loyalty and rewards and uses blockchain to manage dynamic issuance and redemption of loyalty points.  Tracking points can be a headache for both consumers and retailers alike. 

There are a growing number of conferences on this topic and this year, the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin is hosting its first blockchain conference.  Jim Schneider, senior FinTech equity researcher for Goldman Sachs; and Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety for Wal-Mart, will present the two keynotes.

In a world of increasing distrust and polarization, blockchain at minimum offers the transparency we crave, and it may just transform the way we conduct business.

How the Blockchain Could Benefit the Unbanked and Underbanked

There are roughly 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have access to even the most basic financial services, and many of these ‘unbanked’ individuals feel as though little attention is being paid to them. Others are ‘underbanked,’ taking the position that they are only offered quasi-banking services at unfair rates.

These ‘underbanked’ individuals at least have access to some type of financial services–the unbanked are largely cut out of the economy altogether. This problem has created opportunity for emerging technologies.

The growth of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and blockchain based technologies could be the worst nightmare for the banking industry by offering new hope to the world’s unbanked, particularly the hundreds of millions of unbanked in Asia. Massive changes seem to be coming to the world financial infrastructure and, while it could obliterate the status quo banking gatekeepers, it could also greatly empower the individual.

One interesting effort to date is being crafted by Sentinel Chain, which is specifically building a blockchain-based marketplace to unite the unbanked and the rest of the world financially. Its token sale has been announced for March 2018.

The Sentinel Chain’s initial services seek to provide the unbanked with many of the same financial opportunities that many of us take for granted. It is planning to offer its service primarily to many of the unbanked, who have amassed wealth through accumulation of livestock but not money, a blockchain based livestock asset verification. This may not be as valuable to individuals in the U.S. as it is to the myriad livestock owners abroad, where ownership of livestock often remains a sign of wealth in more localized economies.

Other financial companies may also be better able to serve the needs of the unbanked by leveraging the Sentinel Chain. Insurance companies, for example, can use the blockchain to facilitate the offering of livestock insurance. Financing companies can use the chain for loan agreement record keeping and to verify livestock used as collateral. The project also hopes to provide an inexpensive and secure means of making e-payments to individuals, local merchants or international companies.  

Sentinel recently launched a partnership with VeChain to collaborate on the development of cross chain interoperability. This should allow businesses and individual users access to public livestock provenance data while preserving the privacy of livestock provenance data on the local networks. The partnership with VeChain may enhance the functionality of the Sentinel Chain and be a nice fit with its corporate mission, facilitating financial services and features to people of all social classes, and improving the world as a whole.

The Problem-Solving Technique That Will Help You Succeed in Business (and Life)

The key to building team resilience and moving past setbacks could be much simpler than we may think.

Designer Tina Roth Eisenberg–aka. swissmiss and the serial creative entrepreneur behind CreativeMorningsFRIENDS co-working studio, Tattly and TeuxDeux–knows that managing multiple teams means learning to put out multiple fires simultaneously.

Success in doing so comes down to a simple philosophy: flip it.

“When something comes our way that is seemingly a problem, I just say, ‘Let’s flip it’,” explains Roth Eisenberg.

The “flip it” philosophy isn’t about sweeping failures, mistakes or negative outcomes to the side, but instead acknowledging problem areas and applying creativity to resolve them.

The combination helps to sustain momentum among teams and projects. “I’ll first say, okay this sucks. This is absolutely not what I anticipated, but I’m going to flip it on its head and make it good,” she says.

Flipping it can get business out of a rut as it’s essentially an opening to new possibilities–tired, negative responses are disrupted and replaced by new ideas and approaches.

Reducing stress.

Learning to flip it is not only beneficial to business, but can also reduce stress–and maybe even positively influence how we age.

While it would be unrealistic to eliminate our negative thoughts altogether, psychologists have found that dwelling on them excessively can be detrimental both mentally and physically as essential parts of a cell’s DNA, its telomeres, become shortened when stressed, affecting the way cells age. In The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer researchers Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel identified several aging thought patterns: cynical hostility; rumination; pessimism; thought suppression and mind wandering.

By flipping these thought patterns to a more positive equivalent, we create a buffer against stress and depression, improving our mental and physical heath.

When we test and probe our most common thoughts and find alternatives, we begin to see how our thoughts and responses are constructed and how much control we really do have to flip things on their head.

A tool for innovation.

Flipping it can also help develop new systems, ideas, and even businesses.

For years, Roth-Eisenberg has followed the advice of musician James Murphy, “The best way to complain is to make things.”

Flipping a complaint into making something new has led Roth-Eisenberg to start all of her creative businesses. Tattly, for example, came from complaining about how visually displeasing her children’s temporary tattoos were. Now, artists and designers around the globe contribute to making beautiful designs for children and adults alike.

“Complaining is just a waste of energy,” she says. “When I see something that really bugs me, I think, ‘Okay, Tina, you either need to stop thinking about it and let it go, or you really have to do something about it.’ “

A problem-solving technique.

Flipping it is also a way to bring together the entire team to solve a problem.

For example, someone in the finance team may be brought in to try flip it with a design issue – bringing with them a set of fresh eyes on limited by familiarity with a problem, project fatigue, or the constraints that sometimes come with being an expert and privy to the “right” and “wrong” way to tackle a challenge.

As Stephen R. Covey says, “Synergy is what happens when one plus one equals 10 or 100 or even 1,000. It’s the profound result when two or more respectful human beings determine to go beyond their preconceived ideas to meet a great challenge.” 

A life-long skill.

For Roth-Eisenberg, the philosophy extends beyond the workplace and into everyday life.

“Flipping it is something I’m teaching my children–you can either complain and feel sorry for yourself, or you can channel all of that frustration into looking at the problem from different angle and turn it into something good,” she concludes.

Flipping it can apply to almost anything–our work, our relationships, daily annoyances or grievances–and teaches us to broaden the world around us, as well as within. As Max Planck said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
 

Why Hillary Clinton’s ‘Fire and Fury’ Reading at the Grammys Was a Brilliant Branding Play

Since November 2016, Hillary Clinton’s public persona has been wobbly. She published a book that got mixed reviews. She’s made some speeches nobody heard. She’s done a bunch of interviews rehashing why she lost the election, and through it all she’s been unable to shed the awkward, secretive brand that cost her the White House.

Not anymore. Hillary’s back.

Love her or hate her (nobody’s neutral about her), you have to admit that her appearance on the 2018 Grammys was not only an epic act of trolling but a stroke of branding genius. If you missed it–if you did, watch it now; I’ll wait–host James Corden set up a bit where auditions were being held for a 2019 spoken word Grammy contender. The reading material: Michael Wolff’s controversial White House tell-all, Fire and Fury.

John Legend read a bit. Then Cher. Then Snoop Dog and a few more celebrities. Then Clinton read a short passage about the president’s passion for McDonald’s and said to Corden, “The Grammy’s in the bag?” The audience went crazy. Cut.

Let’s ignore the politics of what was obviously a political stunt, because politics aren’t the point. Whether you’re left, right or in the middle, Clinton’s decision to play a part in what was essentially a globally televised diss-track contained three potent lessons for anyone trying to build a brand–or revive one that’s gasping for air:

1. Come out swinging.

A basic rule of branding is that if you don’t define your brand, someone else will do it for you.

Despite millions of admirers, nobody was clamoring for Secretary Clinton to reemerge on the world stage. If she was going to get back in the game, she had to do it with guts and panache.

If she’d made a vanilla speech, her haters would have crucified her as a sore loser while everyone else would have dismissed her as a relic. Instead, she surprised everyone and set them on their heels, forcing them to view her on her terms.

In your own branding, remember that half measures and lukewarm messages are worse than no branding at all. Make your first move bold and brave.

From the jump, make it clear who you are or what your company stands for. Deny the other guy the chance to redefine you or muddy your message.

2. Be self-deprecating.

With the storm of criticism she’s endured in recent years. Clinton has every reason to be resentful and angry.

But self-righteousness is unpopular. We love public figures who have the grace to poke fun at their failures–like the fact that Trump is president and she isn’t–and laugh at themselves.

When Clinton turned up on that video with all that energy and that goofy grin, it was difficult–no matter what you thought of her, politically–to not grin back. When trying to build up a flagging brand, humor is your ally.

Nobody wants to be lectured about how awesome you are or your business is. But we’ve all failed and looked ridiculous. When you share and laugh at your shortcomings and screw-ups, you become accessible and relatable. That’s everything.

3. Provoke a reaction.

Great branding is about eliciting strong emotions. Your audience should love your brand or despise it. The only unacceptable response is “Meh.”

From that perspective, Clinton’s 20-second reading was a master class. Liberals, women, and Hollywood gushed their delight. Conservatives, including Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, loathed it. Mission accomplished.

When you use messaging and strategies that provoke, you put your competition on the defensive. By making them react to you, you seize the initiative and give yourself a brief but important business advantage.

Clinton probably won’t run for office again. But she’s set herself up for a successful next act with a daring decision.

Facebook’s Revenue Soars to $12.8 Billion in Q4–But Usage Had a Huge Drop

  • Facebook reported its fourth-quarter results on Wednesday.
  • Its earnings and revenue topped Wall Street’s expectations, excluding a tax charge related to the recently passed tax law.
  • But the company announced a significant decline in usage of its service and what may be the first-ever drop in daily users in the United States.
  • The declines in usage and US daily users come as the company has sought to address concerns about its service being used to spread propaganda and fake news and about social-media addiction.

Even as it reported standout earnings, Facebook gave investors something to worry about  on Wednesday — a marked decline in usage of its service. 

The amount of time users are spending on the site declined by a whopping 50 million hours a day, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

“2017 was a strong year for Facebook, but it was also a hard one,” Zuckerberg said. “In 2018, we’re focused on making sure Facebook isn’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being and for society. We’re doing this by encouraging meaningful connections between people rather than passive consumption of content.”

He continued: “By focusing on meaningful connections, our community and business will be stronger over the long term.”

Investors sold Facebook’s stock on the news. In recent after-hours trading, the company’s shares were off $8.98, or 4.8%, to $177.91.

But the decline in usage wasn’t the only bad news for investors. The company also reported what seems to be its first-ever decline in daily-active users in the United States and Canada. That number, which has been plateauing in recent quarters, fell from 185 million to 184 million.

Despite that decline, the company’s total daily active users worldwide rose to 1.4 billion from 1.37 billion in the third quarter.

Facebook's Daily Active Users chart released with its fourth-quarter earnings on January 31, 2018.Facebook

And users and usage aside, Facebook’s results topped analysts’ revenue and earnings expectations. Here’s what it reported and how that compared with Wall Street expectations, as gleaned from Bloomberg data:

  • Revenue (actual): $12.78 billion; analysts were looking for $12.55 billion
  • Earnings per share (GAAP): $1.44; analysts were expecting $1.95. However, Facebook’s GAAP EPS included 77 cents of taxes related to the new tax law. Without them, its earnings would have been $2.14 a share.
  • Monthly active users: 2.13 billion; that was in-line with expectations
  • Daily active users: 1.40 billion; analysts had projected 1.41 billion

The company’s report follows growing scrutiny and criticism of it regarding Russia’s alleged use of the social network to spread propaganda to influence the 2016 presidential campaign, the spread of fake news stories through the site, and the rise of reports of social-media addiction. Facebook officials have recently announced steps to address such concerns, but warned that its efforts may cut back on use of its service.

Analysts and investors will be looking for word on how big a financial impact the company expects from such efforts.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

Microsoft Posts $28.92 Billion Revenue in Q2

Microsoft reported its quarterly earnings on Wednesday after the bell, showing a clean, but modest, beat on the top and bottom lines. It also announced a one-time charge of $13.8 billion related to the newly-passed tax bill.

At the time of writing, Microsoft stock was down about 1% to around $95 per share.

Microsoft’s results:

  • Earnings per share of $0.96 versus $0.86 expected
  • Revenue of $28.92 billion versus $28.39 expected.
  • Factoring in a one-time charge of $13.8 billion related to the tax bill, Microsoft reported a loss of $0.82 per share.

The biggest winner this quarter was Microsoft’s Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes Microsoft Office, the Office 365 cloud suite, and the LinkedIn social network. Revenue in this segment grew 25% from the same quarter in 2016. There are now 29.2 million consumer subscribers to Office 365, reports Microsoft.

The Intelligent Cloud segment, which includes Microsoft’s server software and the Azure cloud platform, grew 15% from the same period in 2016, as well. While Microsoft doesn’t disclose specific revenue for Azure, they say that revenue from the platform almost doubled from the year-ago period.

Finally, the More Personal Computing segment, which encompasses Windows, Surface, Xbox, and other products, grew 2% from the year-ago period. Revenue from the Windows commercial business and its related cloud services dipped 4% “due to the impact of a prior year large deal,” Microsoft says in a release.

Revenue in the Surface hardware business was only up 1% from the year-ago quarter, despite the availability of several new laptops and tablets during the holiday shopping season. However, revenue from gaming was up 8% from the 2016 holiday quarter, which Microsoft credits to the launch of the new Xbox One X video game console.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.