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Legally use movies in your presentations – with Motion Picture Licensing Corporation

June 14th, 2011

“Show me the ________”

Legally have Tom Cruise be your co-presenter and pump up your next audience

Yes, you can fill in the blank.  That’s because Hollywood has spent billions of dollars inserting catch phrases, iconic visuals and memorable scenes into our brains.

So, tap into the power of Hollywood’s bucks and high production values.  Insert movie clips into your presentations to REALLY make a point and “up” the engagement of your speeches or training classes.

Can I legally use movie clips?

Yes and no.  Yes, you can legally feature movie clip.  No, you can’t just download a clip and use it legally.  But fortunately for presenters everywhere, there’s the Motional Picture Licensing Corporation.

Cheap and legal – what’s not to like?

For an extremely modest fee, you can use as many movie clips as you would like for a specified number of presentations per year.  There are no reporting requirements.  It couldn’t be easier.

Going Verbally Viral

June 11th, 2011

Viral is now a good thing. And something you want to learn to spread throughout your company.

Express key concepts in a way that makes them go VERBALLY VIRAL throughout your organization

Thanks to the Internet, we have re-defined the rapid infection rates of a pestilence to stand for the rapid and people-generated dissemination of a YouTube video.

As internal business communicators we want the same effect after a meeting.  We used to refer to it as creating a “buzz.” That meant that people were talking in the hallways about a topic presented at the meeting. But that’s not enough.  A buzz is a a positive, yet undirected and unfocused discussion. For communication impact, our aim is for a key idea or initiative to go VERBALLY VIRAL.

An idea goes VERBALLY VIRAL in a company if I can hear it one time, get it, and then verbally share it with someone else at my company using the same word or words. Then they do the same.

Why DON’T key concepts go verbally viral? Too often leaders have an important initiative or concept that they want everyone thinking about and implementing. But that initiative or concept is never boiled down to a snappy and memorable catch phrase. Sure, the idea can be understood by an employee when they leader spends 20 minutes explaining it. But they cannot RE-EXPRESS it verbally and informally.

"Trickle Up" is an example of a phrase/concept that has gone Verbally Viral within a company

Verbally Viral Example

A financial services client of mine hired me to help them plan a leadership conference. What the CEO wanted was to give them a new challenge.

The concept was that they should stop looking for all the great new ideas to move the company forward to come from the top. He wanted them to accept the responsibility to create and drive change from their level.

Now, conceptually, could they “get” that.  Sure. But would it spread? Unlikely. But then I helped them see the importance of this critical concept being expressed in a way that could go verbally viral. The solution… “Trickle Up.” Everyone knows what trickle down means. Trickle Up is an instantly-memorable and repeatable phrase to express the concept. And after the meeting, everyone could, and did, start talking about Trickle Up.

For your next meeting, intentionally craft the key message into verbally viral phrases. And then watch as they turn into a positive pandemic in your organization.

Do You Pass the Smile Test?

June 9th, 2011

Okay executives-leaders-managers, answer this question honestly. Do you pass The Smile Test?

Do your people smile more when they see you coming...or more when they see you GOING?

It’s simple. Do your people smile more when they see you coming or more when they see you GOING? (Doh.)

Odds are your people best like the view of your back retreating down the hallway. And why shouldn’t they? When you are walking towards them, what is likely to happen? You are going to…

Ask them for something…ask them to do something…or correct their work.

Now, you might be thinking, “But it’s my JOB to ask them for something, to do something, or to correct their work.” And you would be correct. But that’s not ALL your job.

People need to trust you. They need to want to follow you. And for that to happen, they need to believe that you are interested in them and care about them. And that doesn’t come from being a task-spewer in every interaction.

The solution is Management by Talking Around. Twice a day you purposely walk around your organizational fiefdom and JUST TALK to your people. The rule is, you can’t ask them for something, to do something, or correct their work. You just engage them. Pleasantly. No agenda. 70% listening/30% talking. No matter what they say personally or professionally, you do NOT REACT as a manager. You just talk.

American Idol and the Liza Minnelli line

June 7th, 2011

Ashley SullivanEach season of American Idol kicks off with a painful yet must-see-TV moment of contestant auditions. For Season 10, the judges found themselves in New Jersey listening to the train wreck that was 25-year old Ashley Sullivan. After some awkward banter, she boomed out a lively chorus… from a Broadway musical.

It was met with stunned silence from Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, pop diva Jennifer Lopez, and Idol veteran Randy Jackson. Not a good song choice for a show about pop music.

American Idol JudgesJennifer candidly set Ashley straight. “Here’s the thing. The way you sing and the way you act…it’s not for American Idol. It is for Broadway. That’s where you belong.” Bam. Game over. End of story. That’s about as firm a “no” as you can get. Next contestant. But wait, Ashley wasn’t done.

She put the brakes on her imminent dismissal with a surprising and original comeback. It was an example of what I teach my clients is called a Perfect Pitch. A Perfect Pitch is a compelling concept that can go “verbally viral.” It is a pithy positioning line that is brief, forceful and full of meaning.

What Ashley did was the equivalent of waving a magic wand to instantly shift the judges’ perception of her.

“Oh, I can be more pop. I can do it. But, like…I want to be the first showtunes pop star.” After giving the judges a micro-pause to mentally process that, she delivered a killer close to her pitch. “I think the mainstream needs to get with Liza Minelli.”

Jennifer LopezThis never-before-heard-perspective rocked the judges. They laughed and began re-appraising Ashley. Jennifer turned to the camera and cooed, “I love her.” Then Jennifer and Randy both demonstrated that Ashley’s line was Verbally Viral by repeating/paraphrasing it while actually nodding, “Pop needs to get with Liza Minnelli.”

While Ashley literally got on her knees and clasped her hands in supplication, you could see the wheels spinning in the judges’ heads as they tussled with changing their minds.

Then Randy Jackson sighed and gently said, “Alright, well it’s a no for today.” I think he presumed he was speaking for the group. Wrongo Randy.

Before he could send her packing, Jennifer leaned over and hissed into his ear, “Give her a golden ticket!” Then, addressing Ashley she said, “It’s a yes for me.” Turning back to Randy she said, “I don’t care!”

That left Steven. He slowly responded, “Wow…you know what? It’s a yes for me, too.” And just like that, showtunes diva wannabe Ashley Sullivan was off to Hollywood.

This reality show showed the reality of a Perfect Pitch’s effectiveness. It didn’t matter that Ashley wasn’t a fit for Idol. When Jennifer said, “I don’t care” to Randy, she meant that she didn’t care about Ashley’s singing. She cared about the power of the pitch. That alone justified Ashley’s advancement. Steven echoed the same justification when he said, “Wow…you know what…” That’s code for “I was impressed by the CONCEPT of what she said more than the audition itself.”

“Pop needs to get with Liza Minnelli.” Of course it does.

Ashley, you gave a Perfect Pitch.

George Clooney, Paparazzi, and Genocide

June 4th, 2011

Okay, the words “Clooney” and “paparazzi” in this headline may seem to go together (c’mon…you totally look at the tabloids while at the grocery store). But…genocide? Yet if you read Newsweek’s recent cover story on George Clooney (“A 21st Century Statesman”) you will discover a staggeringly successful “Perfect Pitch” that makes this all make sense.

George Clooney and SatelliteFor those new to this blog, Perfect Pitch is my term for a phrase that can instantly go “Verbally Viral”. It is the ultimate in “pithy”…a positioning line that is brief, forceful and full of meaning.

Here’s the backstory. Since 2005, George has been investing his celebrity power in compelling public and political attention to the plight of Sudan. This is the same country that experienced the genocide of 400,000 people in Darfur. Warring rebels, militias and government forces continue to wreak human carnage along the North/South border of Sudan. But those same factions are wary of world scrutiny. Enter George Clooney. Or more specifically, George Clooney’s satellite.

The deal is this: privately funded and publicly accessible satellite imagery (visit is focused on the border to search for troop movements, bombed or razed villages, or any other visual evidence of impending violence to civilians. In essence, that’s the descriptive but rather clunky and unmemorable pitch you read on the SatSentinel website. In stark contrast…when talking about “his” satellite, George’s Perfect Pitch gets the job done in six memorable words.

“I’m like the anti-genocide paparazzi.”

That’s impressive…humor and genocide in the same sentence. This is an example of a communication format I teach my clients called “Surfer Dude”.  It’s like, you know, like….like using LIKE. It’s tapping the power of a unique simile. The SatSentinel isn’t just a technology solution. It is a strategy of focusing attention on those who absolutely do NOT want attention. There’s a bold emotional component to this message that is unable to be realized with terms like “satellite imagery.”

Contrast that with George’s simile. The magic appears with the use of the word paparazzi. It provides both the content and emotion of intrusive documentation. Just like in Lindsay Lohan’s life, the cameras are in the subject’s face…and the cameras are inescapable.

Yet the interesting twist in this case is that since we have no sympathy for the subject (the government forces and militias not Lindsay), we value the paparazzi. What is normally a negative instantly is transformed into a positive. Plus, since George is normally stalked by paparazzi, we also instantly appreciate the irony of it all.

I don’t yet have confirmation from Mr. Clooney that George he uses this line at every fundraising event he does for SatSentinel, but I am confident he does. (NOTE: I posted a message to his Wall on Facebook, but haven’t heard back).

No matter what other examples or stories George may say or share at fundraisers, THIS is the takeaway line that people will remember.  It meets the criteria for what I tell my clients is the ultimate interpersonal communication goal: your idea going Verbally Viral.

“What is George Clooney’s charitable project all about?”
“Being an anti-genocide paparazzi.”

That’s…a Perfect Pitch.

Framing, Pitching, and Snappy Summaries

Sign up for commentary on compelling concepts

With every message you trot out, you want two things:

  • people to buy in
  • people to talk about it to others

Communication success is your idea going “verbally viral”

And the best way to learn how to make that happen is to study those who make that happen.

Brian Walter is always on the lookout for persuasive positioning. He scours the media world searching for the secrets to framing, pitching and snappy summaries. Brian then brings you those examples and shares not just why they work but how to apply them to your internal or external messaging.

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