Friday, May 25, 2012

Wait for Me on iTunes / Improve Your Presentation Skills / Driving With Your Knees

The big news this week is that our new album, "Wait for Me" is now available in the iTunes store (search 'felix wait for me').  This album was three years in the making.  It's a collaboration between my sons, Brian, Kevin and me and a very talented group of Chicago based musicians.  The initial feedback is very positive and we are very excited about the potential for a few of the songs to be used for movies or TV.  You can listen to the tunes free here And you can buy individual songs or the whole album on iTunes.  Let me know which song you like best.  Thanks.

I continue to pick up new consulting clients (which is terrific and is keeping me off the streets and on the road).  But as I've learned with other real estate consulting companies I've operated, the financial challenge is to get a couple of retainer clients, who pay you monthly for a period of time.  This then gives you the cash flow to actually cover your fixed expenses each month (like food and shelter!).  While I'm not there yet, the progress has been very encouraging.  

Each clients' needs, as you would imagine, are different but what gives me a good feeling is that I'm doing things that I'm good at and have gotten excellent feedback from all of my clients (7 so far with 4 more on the calendar).  Interestingly, I have had more conversations (some from referrals, thank you very much) than I've had in a long time from experienced real estate operators who have asked me, "How do we get some of that there pension fund money?"  The basic answer has always been pretty much the same:  you need to have patience.  But what strikes me is that there are a number, of very credible real estate operators, ready, willing and able to invest the time and money that is a requirement to break into the institutional real estate community.  And, I think it's a great time for them given how that world has been evolving and that there are more and more opportunities for first time and minority/woman (I refuse to use the acronym) owned real estate investment management businesses.  Stay tuned!  Things are getting interesting.

One of the things that I've been helping some of my clients with is how to improve their presentations.  Getting the message right so that the audience takes away what you want them to is key.  But here's something I found years ago, rediscovered this week and want to share with you.  Btw, I believe a first impression is formed in four seconds; just long enough for someone to reach out, shake hands and look the other person in the eye.

First Impressions

Within the first thirty seconds of a speech, sales presentation or media interview, audiences decide whether they like you, trust you, and think you know your stuff.

Ironically, most business presentations are weakest at the beginning. Presenters who spend hours preparing their message and creating fancy visual media give little, if any, attention to their critical opening lines. As a result, flat greetings, bad jokes and the predictable welcome-name-topic approach ("Good morning, my name is Mary Smith and today I'm here to talk about...") are the norm.

The negative impact of a weak opening is two-fold. The unprepared speaker not only fails to inspire the audience's confidence in him, but also compounds his nervousness as he recognizes he's not generating any interest.

Your first words quickly set the tone of your presentation. A strong opening is your golden opportunity to capture your listeners' attention, establish your credibility, build rapport and entice the audience to listen to your message.

Make your first moment count. The adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression" applies to presenters.

Find a relevant anecdote or quote; refer to a current event or something newsworthy in your industry; or make a provocative statement that will draw your listeners in. Carefully plan and rehearse a compelling opener for your next presentation. You'll appreciate the difference—and so will your audience. 

Tips for a Better Beginning:

* Engage the audience immediately with ...a provocative statement ...a reference to a current event ...a quote anecdote
* Elaborate on this initial idea as it relates to your topic
* "Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em" and provide a reason for listening
* Rehearse your opening until it feels natural
* Breathe slowly in the moments before your presentation begins
* Direct your opening line to a friendly face and build momentum

So take note of those people who make presentations that grab your attention and hold it.  Learn from those who do it well and from those who don’t do it well.  Adopt the techniques that will work for you and engage your audience.  You don’t have to adopt the exact style of someone else, in fact being yourself is really important.  But you can make changes, subtle or otherwise, to the way you handle yourself at the front of a group.  Practice on small groups before you take it to Broadway.   You’ll find out what works and what doesn’t and you’ll be better for it (and your audiences will too). 

Last item:  At the suggestion and with the encouragement of a close friend I have started working in earnest on completing a long-standing project: publishing a semi-autobiographical/semi-self-improvement book called Driving With Your Knees to be published Second Quarter 2013.  

On the road...

May 29-June 8:  New York for client meetings and to moderate panels at two events:
May 30 and 31: IMN U.S. Real Estate Opportunity & Private Fund Investing Forum
June 6 and 7:  ULI Finance & Investment 2012 Conference.
June 25-29:  New York for client meetings.
Sept. 10-12:  (t) Paris to attend the GRI Europe Conference.
Oct. 14-16:  Houston to conduct a training class on improving presentation skills.
Oct. 22-24:  Los Angeles to attend the PREA Conference.
Nov. 7:  Washington, DC to speak to a group of students in the accelerated Masters of Science in Real Estate Program at The Johns Hopkins Carey Business  School about what I've learned during my career in real estate.
Nov. 8 and 9:  New York to attend the PERE Forum.

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