Episode #29 – Lea Pica of the Present Beyond Measure Show
Photo courtesy of Lea Pica and Loves Data.
Lea Pica, Present Beyond Measure Show
In this episode number 29 of the InnovaBuzz podcast, Lea Pica, digital analytics practitioner, social media marketer and blogger and host of the “Present Beyond Measure” podcast shares with us the characteristics of a great presentation, the importance of understanding your audience and their objectives, of adequate preparation and making time for important things. This is a fabulous interview with a lot of great advice, listen to the podcast episode to learn about the details.
Today’s competition prize has been generously donated by Lea and it is a one on one coaching session with Lea to critique one of your current presentation slides and advise you on what you might be able to do to present that story in an impactful and engaging way, so stick around for details on how you can enter the draw to win that competition prize later on in the interview.
Listen to the Podcast
When you’re close to data you’re a very valuable commodity and you’re going to be asked to present your information, to give insights.
Some of the highlights of this episode include:
- YOU are your presentation. Whatever tools you use to support your presentation should do just that – support it. Not detract from it, or act as a script. Focus on your presentation – the best presentations are where speakers are charismatic and engaging, whether they have visuals or not.
- Analysts can add great value to clients by clarifying what their objectives are up front, clarifying outcomes, then finding out how the data can serve those outcomes.
- The best way to add value to your audience is to listen to what they need and are looking for!
- Preparation is key for all presentations. Practice one more time than you have already practiced!
- It is like a tiny shackle coming off every time you document one of your processes.
YOU are your presentation not your slides.
The Buzz – Our Innovation Round
Here are Lea’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.
- #1 thing to be more innovative – Be unique and stand out, especially if you are in a competitive niche. For me, having fun and being myself, being my authentic self while standing on top of the experience that I have has been a great way to stand out.
- Best thing for new ideas – Talk to your audience and make sure whatever you create is something they want.
- Favourite tool for innovation – Remember the Milk task manager – helps me with planning.
- Keep project / client on track – Up front, during the on-boarding process, establish clear check-points.
- Differentiate – Determine that unique thing you bring to the table within your service or product.
To Be More Innovative and Productive
Find resources or courses that directly support your most important and most viable business goal. Choose the thing that is going to support the one thing that will move your business forward at that time.
Lea suggested I interview Camille Holden and Taylor Croonquist from Nuts & Bolts Training on a future podcast. So, Camille and Taylor keep an eye on your Inboxes for an invitation from me, for the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of Lea Pica!
- Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
- Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte
- Resonate by Nancy Duarte
- Brain Rules by John Medina
Click to Read…
Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz. Welcome to Episode No 29 of the InnovaBuzz Podcast – designed to help smart businesses with an interest in innovation and the Internet of Things become even more innovative.
Today’s guest is Lea Pica a digital analytics practitioner, social media marketer and blogger and host of the “Present Beyond Measure” podcast. She equips analysts and marketers to create presentations that inspire data-driven decisions and get them recognized. On the podcast we speak about the characteristics of a great presentation, the importance of understanding your audience and their objectives, of adequate preparation and making time for important things and I learnt the meaning of “homesteading”. This is a fabulous interview with a lot of great advice, so stay tuned.
For today’s prize, Lea has very kindly donated a coaching session with her, via Skype, to assess one of your current presentation slides and coach you on how to tell that story in an impactful and effective way. So stay tuned later in the interview, how you can enter the draw to win that prize.
This podcast is sponsored by Innovabiz, where we partner with innovative business owners to transform your online presence into a business generation platform that delivers exceptional results. If you want to learn more, then go to innovabiz.com.au or contact me directly through the contact information there.
Now, let’s get into the Innovation Hive and get the Buzz from Lea Pica.
Jürgen: Hi, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz and I’m really excited to have here with me on today’s episode of the InnovaBuzz podcast from I think in Middletown, New Jersey in the USA, is that right, Lea?
Lea: That’s right.
Jürgen: Lea Pica who’s a seasoned digital analytics practitioner, a social media marketer, a blogger and she’s also host of the Present beyond Measure podcast. Welcome to the InnovaBuzz podcast, Lea.
Lea: Thanks so much. It’s great being here.
Jürgen: It’s a privilege to have you here. Now, we recently met at the Google Analytics conference in Melbourne where you gave a fabulous presentation on how to present data to an audience in an inspiring way without sending them to sleep. You’re all about creating clear and impactful and memorable data presentations but I was really interested because I’m doing a lot of work on my own speaking, and creating an impact in a presentation I think is broader than simply data, although I’m clearly a data geek as well and a scientist by background. Really, look forward about learning more about that today.
Jürgen: Now before we learn more about Lea, a quick competition announcement. Lea has kindly offered a coaching session with her and I guess that will be to help you with any presentation challenges you might have so stay tuned later on in the interview and you can find out how you can enter the draw to win that prize.
Lea, before we kick off and talk about data and visualization and presentations and all kinds of geeky things around internet marketing, let’s find out a little bit more about your background as a person. Did you always have a bent to data when you’re a young child?
Lea: Absolutely not. I wanted to be an ‘80s hairdressing astronaut when I was a child.
Lea: As a result of loving hair and also being sent to space academy by my parents, that is a true story! Maybe I started geeking out back then but what I really thought I was going to be in high school was a musical theater performer. I spent my entire high school career on stage and I was sure I was destined for Broadway until I got to college and I realized that it was completely out of my league. Everyone was so good and so committed and I just realized it wasn’t a lifestyle that I wanted for myself. I wanted to do something different, more practical. I ended up in information systems because I loved computers and psychology but there wasn’t really a major designed for that intersection.
I happened to really trip on a job right out of college in internet marketing as their events coordinator and I absolutely fell in love with that entire space and I was like there’s no going back.
Jürgen: That’s great. That’s a really interesting journey. I guess the space academy would have been fun.
Lea: It was, very fun.
Jürgen: I noticed on your website you talk about you’ve now gone back to performing because of the speaking and presentation part of it and it’s interesting because that philosophy is very much evident in what you do, isn’t it?
Lea: It’s so funny because I definitely credit my background in musical theater for equipping me with a lot of the preparation and delivery skills that I believe everyone needs to come across as confident and as authoritative when they’re delivering information. I think that’s where a lot of practitioners in all sorts of industries fall a little short and it’s just a lack of having the right tools. When I realized early in my career that when you’re close to data you’re a very valuable commodity and you’re going to be asked to present your information, I was like wow, this is great, I can do my performing bit. This is like that except you’re presenting very boring numbers and things like that.
I really try to inject more energy and everything into that. Where I was falling short in the past is a firm foundation in how the brain understands and remembers information and wants to act on it afterwards. Even though I had a lot of high energy and enthusiasm my actual presentation slides and visuals were awful. I mean really, really bad! They just weren’t getting me that far and I don’t know if I can tell the story of how I fell into that missing piece, if that would be all right.
Jürgen: Yeah, sure. Go ahead, that’s …
Lea: Sure. I got my MBA from a place called Norwich University and we were asked to volunteer. They were taking volunteers to present at our Capstone Graduation which was on site in Vermont and of course I volunteered because I wanted to make my life more hectic at that moment. I decided to use a tool called Prezi which was pretty new at the time, this was about 10 years ago, because my subject was social media for business. I thought hey, this is a new social media-based presentation tool, perfect.
When I logged in and I saw that Prezi had a completely different paradigm than PowerPoint or Keynote, it was this infinite canvas where you could zoom all the way in and all the way out and there was no starting point and no endpoint. I just had no clue where to start and I realized I was going to need to go back to the drawing board a bit to figure out how to even make use of this. I picked up a few excellent books like Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, Slide:ology and Resonate by Nancy Duarte and Brain Rules by John Medina. Those books completely flipped my brain in terms of how people comprehend data, how you engage them with storytelling techniques and the most common mistakes that we make when we create presentations that are supposed to support us but what we usually end up creating is something that interferes with us.
It was just an absolute watershed moment that I had been doing everything so wrong for years. As I was starting to present more at conferences and gain steam in presenting my message, getting my message about this out there, I was realizing looking at everything else that none of us had the right toolset when we started this whole journey. It’s my personal mission to equip everyone that has to present data with the tools they need so they can get their message across more clearly.
Jürgen: Yeah, that’s a great story and a great insight into some of the dangers, I guess. People talk about death by PowerPoint and I’ve certainly sat through presentations where each slide, there’s been so much writing on the slide that you can’t read it from anywhere behind the first row and then the presenter reads the slide. Prezi, I remember my very first Prezi one that I did and it was in the very early days and I think I probably made people dizzy because I overdid it a little bit. Even though it’s a really neat tool and you’ve got this freedom to create whatever you want you’re not restricted to one slide after another in a linear fashion like PowerPoint or Keynote but like you say, it’s the idea of having the presentation be a tool that enhances the actual presentation as opposed to getting in the way of the presenter.
Lea: The irony of it all is that today … I haven’t used Prezi since that presentation ever since I learned the proper tools for getting the most out of using PowerPoint and Keynote. I recently went back to Prezi and I just could not make it work for me. I found it too rigid in terms of the design aspect and I know that motion sickness is a bit of an epidemic with Prezis. I’ve definitely been a victim of that. I think that people often think that Prezi is some sort of silver bullet solution to PowerPoint or Keynote whereas I don’t see it as a solution, I see it as a different platform for a different style of presenting, a very steep learning curve.
If people think it’s hard to use PowerPoint well, it is so much harder to really nail how to use Prezi effectively. Once you do it could be life changing. I’ve seen some incredible Prezis out there. For me it’s the same thing with data visualization, those are very … like the shiny new toy under the Christmas tree.
Jürgen: That’s right, yeah.
Lea: What’s the latest tool? I want to know the coolest new chart. I keep trying to pull people back and say, let’s get the basics right first. You need the foundation for doing even the simplest charts well. Those simple charts people might think they’re boring but they’re everywhere for a reason. They work well. Get the basics right with those, just like getting the basics right with PowerPoint is going to give you a foundation for eventually upgrading yourself to being able to use those other tools more effectively but don’t try to skip ahead because that’s exactly what happened when I first started with Prezi.
I realized I had no clue where to start because I didn’t even have the foundation to use any basic presentation tool correctly.
Jürgen: Yeah and that’s great advice. Now I know my business coach, she works with me on presentation stuff. She, actually in most of her presentations she doesn’t use any on-screen stuff. She uses a whiteboard or a flipchart and they’re actually very engaging presentations. It highlights that the tool is not the important thing, it’s the way you’re presenting the information and making that as engaging as possible.
Lea: Absolutely. One of my closing statements is always you are your presentation not your PowerPoint. I’ve seen incredible TED Talks and other kinds of presentations where they had no visuals whatsoever but the speaker was so charismatic and engaging that it just wasn’t necessary. In our field it is a visual field, especially with data, so I don’t see myself going in to present about data without having visuals to support what I’m saying. It also, I think, creates credibility when you’re showing well done, clear visuals to support or it’s almost like well, prove it.
Jürgen: That’s right, yeah.
Lea: That does not mean that your presentation should stand alone without you or else why are you even there.
Jürgen: Also, the important thing about data and I was going through some work for a client yesterday and they were saying where are all those reports? I want to see more reports. I said well, the important thing and I can send you some more reports on a weekly basis but the important thing is what is the data actually telling you. Presenting it in a way that is actually giving you insights and allowing you to draw conclusions or to make hypothesis as to what might be going on that generates that data.
Lea: Yeah, one of the most common struggles that I think analysts face is clients saying what can you give me with the data when really it should be flipped saying, well, what do you want to know? What was your objective for this website or this campaign? What outcome were you expecting? Did you have a hypothesis that we can prove or disprove? The super analyst is going to turn that question around on the client and start to partner with them in listening exactly the objective of what that data should serve rather than being a kitchen sink to root through for some kind of nugget that’s going to suddenly transform the business.
Jürgen: Yeah. That is actually great advice and I love Jim Sterne at the conference that we met said something to the effect of data without goals is pure narcissism or words to that effect. I thought yeah, that’s really good. I’ll keep that in mind.
Lea: Yup. That’s why he’s the Godfather of Analytics.
Jürgen: That’s right. Yeah. All right, tell us then a little bit about your business and what you do. How would you describe what you do in one sentence?
Lea: One sentence, okay. I equip digital analysts and marketers to create and deliver data visualizations and presentations that make them indispensable to their organizations and propel their careers forward.
Jürgen: Okay. Now, that’s very specific. That’s great. You find your target audience and giving them a benefit statement as the outcome. It’s great. What do you spend your time doing day to day then? I know you’re doing a lot of presentations and workshops?
Lea: What I love about this whole going rogue and working for myself is every day is so different. A lot of the days I spend creating content for my podcast. As you said it’s called the Present Beyond Measure Show and that’s a combination format show of content that I produce just ways to do what you do better with dataviz and presenting.
I interview analytics and presentation experts to understand what their process is and help people, empower them and hear their story about how they grew or where they are today. Then I also do video makeovers, so I have listeners submit their own work, that they were brave enough to share with me, and I make it over using my own methodology I created, it’s called the Pica methodology which is an extremely uncreative name!
I use that methodology to assess the effectiveness of those visuals and I make it over as an example to help everyone see how different kinds of data could be presented more effectively. That takes a good amount of time, I’m sure you could relate.
Jürgen: Yeah, I understand that. Also, just to comment there – I did see one of your video makeovers which I think people should go and have a look at that on your podcast because it’s very educational even though it’s clearly somebody else’s work that you’re critiquing and suggesting improvements for, but it is very educational.
Lea: Thank you. The first one I did is the starting point and it’s funny, it was my own work. I thought I should critique my own work first. I think that episode is leapica.com/004. That’s where people could see that video but I also spend a lot of time creating content for the blog and analytics on my own site so I’m always trying to keep making sure that I’m honing my own craft. What I do a lot of, especially today, I talk to my audience a lot.
Every time I presented and someone would give me a nice note or reach out through LinkedIn, I would reach back and ask them for a half hour conversation just to understand what it is they took away from whatever I spoke about, what are their most common struggles that they have with communicating their data. I try to hone in on the kinds of services that would help them. Is it one-on-one coaching? I’m considering an eBook like a handbook for charts. eBook, the workshops was a big one so that was one that’s being realized now.
I just absolutely love talking to my audience and helping me understand how I can articulate better the benefit of what I do since what I’m doing is a little new within this industry.
Jürgen: Yeah. That’s another great suggestion there, quite novel actually. Go and talk to people, find out what they’re looking for. Find out how you can help.
Lea: Yeah. It’s been a huge learning experience hearing because I only know the challenges that I struggled with throughout my career and I worked for a very specific … I’ve worked in eCommerce and publishing and financial services but there’s many more types of cultures and organizations I haven’t been exposed to so that’s been really instructive.
Jürgen: Also, people forget, I forget all the time, you have a problem, I tend to be a problem solver, so I work stuff out. Then often I finish there and the bigger problem it is, if I solve it for myself, I’m happy and I kind of finish the process there sometimes and think, well, that was well done and I’m satisfied because I’ve solved the problem.
I’m trying really hard to discipline myself in saying, well, I’m not special so there’s going to be other people that have this same problem. The bigger the problem it is, the harder it’s going to be to solve for people so if I figured out how to solve it, I should go out and find other people that I can help overcome that issue.
Lea: Listening to the feedback that I get from presentations are really important too. Even though I have to put on a bit of a suit of armor for some of the commentary I’ve gotten back, I’ve found that very illuminating about how to tailor what can sound like a very difficult philosophy to adapt and I’ve also had to learn how to distill these big picture, hard-lined philosophies that I’ve read about that there’s only one way, one right way to do everything, how to distill that down to a unique scenario of an internal or client corporate meeting.
This is a very different situation than a high stakes TED Talk which is my favorite type of presentation because that taps into the musical theater gene that I have the most. The reality is that the vast majority of presentations are not like that. They are meetings that are happening internally or between clients everyday and I’m even looking at meeting productivity as something that I want to help increase because so much of our time is trapped in ineffective meetings, again because we’re not given a toolset to create a meeting invite that is paving the path for an effective meeting, how to start a meeting, how to get all the technical details down so you’re not wasting time.
These are all … I want to explore every facet of that scenario, of that meeting, and create an experience that people don’t dread anymore. They actually look forward to coming together and making decisions about things, that’s kind of the whole point.
Jürgen: Yeah, yeah, that’s great. I think that was your last blog post about meetings and meeting objectives and I thought well, yeah, there’s definitely a message there and there’s definitely a gap there as well. It’s been a while since I’ve been in the corporate world but yeah, that very much evoked memories with me.
Lea: It’s alive and well.
Jürgen: I bet it is. Certainly evoked memories and I cringed; Oh no, not a meeting – I’ve actually got work to do. I don’t have time for a meeting.
All right, is there something you worry about? Is there something that keeps you awake at night?
Lea: Many things. Everyday … This audience is extremely intelligent and a bit skeptical of when someone calls themselves an expert on something. That’s what happens when you land yourself in an extremely intelligent community. What keeps me awake is really, am I creating trust and credibility with this audience? I have to dig down deep everyday and tell myself, no, the reactions I get when I present, the feedback that I get from my audience. I know I’m on the right track
It’s also, is my audience ready for my message? Sometimes people have done things the same way that they’ve always done and they don’t feel that anything is wrong with it, or they’re just happy with where things are. How open are they to my message and I have to be careful about who I’m approaching and I decided who I’m approaching is not every analyst and marketer. I’m trying to reach analysts and marketers who really want to move their careers forward and a huge part of that is creating visibility in their organizations through presenting their data. I’m looking for the ones that want to get ahead, essentially.
Jürgen: There’s a couple of thoughts I had on that. One is, I mean you’re definitely, from what I’ve seen, you’re definitely walking the talk so you’re not one of those “experts” that this is the way to do it, do it the way I say but it’s not what I do. You’re very clearly modeling the presentation styles and you’re listening to your audience so that’s all really good stuff so that’s my feedback.
I guess the other thing is you get feedback from people that say, well, yeah, but I’ve always done it this way and I like that way. You kind of hope that for those people that there’s something in the message that resonates with them and it may not be do it my way, it may be okay, there’s one little tip that they say, well, yeah, that’s a good idea, I’ll incorporate that and it makes a difference to them so there’s always that.
One of my other mentors always says when he does his presentations, he says, season to taste.
Lea: I like that. I might steal that! Yeah. I always say if you feel when you walk out of that room, that it was A plus, nothing could have been better, don’t listen to what I have to say, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re leaving that room or you’re walking off a stage, wherever you’re presenting, and you’re just feeling like there’s a mismatch between the image that you had in your mind of how that should have gone and that energy you’re getting from the audience or the feedback that you got afterwards, then I’m right for you.
I can help you figure out little ways, big ways, it’s as far as the practitioner wants to take it. Little ways and big ways to make changes that really make big results. I know because that’s what happened when I started incorporating them into my own work.
Jürgen: Yeah. Okay. How do you keep yourself balanced then on the straight and narrow and not let those sleepless nights get to you?
Lea: Balance, it’s so funny, everyone talks about achieving balance and someone on a podcast I listened to said, “Balance is crap.” It’s this thing that we’re never happy until we have it but when do we ever really have it? In my five-minute journal I do every morning, I write, “I am aspiring towards balance.” It’s that I’m working towards it but I’m not going to hate myself if I didn’t achieve that today. There’s some days that are crazy when it’s the 11th hour crunch time for finishing a workshop, yeah, it’s going to be a late night but the next few weeks might be a lull and that’s when I catch up on blog content or have conversations. The thing is I love every minute of it so my challenge is not working so much just because I love it. Some of the things that I do to relax, balance that out is I have to cook three meals a day almost for health reasons but I actually love it. I’m an amateur homesteader and we garden and I love to just concoct. I’m like the mad scientist in my kitchen, I concoct all these nutritious things like homemade gummy bear vitamins and I make my own beef jerky and nut butters and all these things. My family and my son, we’ve all benefited so much. I’ve become so much more productive and clear headed ever since I overhauled our diet to what’s known as the real food diet and pretty much cut out anything processed. It’s been transformational for my productivity and my work.As a musical theater performer, ex, I love to sing and dance with my toddler. He’s just like a bundle of light and I’ll put on a hip-hop song and we will bust a move in my kitchen and it’s just the most fun thing.
Jürgen: Okay, I can’t imagine that.
Lea: Go to my neighbors.
Jürgen: That hones your presentation skills as well.
Jürgen: Homesteader. I’m not familiar with that term. Is that kind of being self-sufficient, is that?
Lea: We’re pretty far from self-sufficient. We’re not like living off the grid or anything but we do have solar panels. We have a garden so we grow a good portion of our own food but homesteading is really making a lot of things from scratch, a lot of things that you would normally buy.
Like I said, I make anything that could come from a box like noodles or ice creams, like I said gummies or candies, desserts, all kinds of stews, soups. All of it is from scratch, pretty much. We’re even considering chickens next year. I hear that chickens are a gateway drug for animals but I think I would stop there but it’s more just trying.
I’m really trying to teach my son that food really comes from somewhere and it takes work to create real food and be appreciative for how difficult it is to grow food. Our garden was pretty much a flop this year, it was our first year and it really made me appreciate when the conditions aren’t quite right, people really went hungry and I do try to show him that and practice gratitude for what we have.
Jürgen: That does bring it home to you, doesn’t it?
Lea: It does.
Jürgen: When you do it yourself and it fails and you get annoyed and you realize that, hang on a minute, if that was all I had, we’d be going hungry.
Lea: Yeah, absolutely. Yup.
Jürgen: All right, coming back to data presentations and I guess I could make a transition there on food components.
Lea: Excellent segue.
Jürgen: Food components and presenting what’s actually in your food. What are some of the reasons in terms of presentations that people don’t have the impact they want on the audience?
Lea: To start at the beginning of that, I would say a big mistake that’s made is you’re not really thinking about what the audience wants. When your client or VP or whoever is asking you to come present at a future meeting, are you stopping and really thinking, why am I being invited to this meeting? What can I bring that’s unique? What can make me stand out? What deep burning question can I answer for them? What solution can I provide?
Not even answering, I just want to know how many hits there were to my website which can like blow up an analyst brain. It’s well, we launched a new campaign last week but we’re not sure we’re targeting the right people. That’s deeper then you’re really starting to get into a more forensic analysis of something that really happened and that’s my favorite kind of analysis. It’s not just what happened, it’s really digging in and telling the story which is an overused term but that is really what that means.
Then I would say obviously using the presentation tools which is my biggest area of teaching but really, at the end of that process I think the number one reason why every presentation has the potential to go south is lack of preparation. That is again a case of having the right process or tool to prepare, to learn how to prepare enough so you feel confident. A lot of people, I’ll ask people during workshops, who practices, who runs through what they’re going to say beforehand and I’ll see maybe one or like the smattering of hands. I’ll be like, guys, why you feel nervous in there and that they’re going to throw you off your game is because you haven’t internalized your information yet. It’s so important to run through your presentation, just talking through it.
Once, what I try to say is do it one more time that you already did. If you normally do it once, do it twice. Add one to that for three. I prefer three times but for the most part that’s going to be one time because I would say the vast majority of people create slides that act as scripts that they read off of, like I mentioned in my session. Then they’re just reading a story and the client’s brain is just melting into a paddle of goo basically.
If they try to wing it, it’s even worse then you look like you’re not standing on your two feet really strongly, that you aren’t really familiarized with your material and also, practicing how to deflect difficult questions, these are all things that take practice. The number one resistance that I get when I talk about that is but I don’t have the time, this presentation is due tomorrow. I had one day. There’s just no time, and this is what I tell people.
You make time for the things that are important to you. If getting that chart really pretty is important, you’re going to spend three days doing that one chart. If you start to internalize, like really believe it, that preparation is as important as a pretty chart, you will start to find pockets of time open up. I prepare, I’ll actually record myself. That has been an amazing new practice that I do but I record myself. I hear all of my pitfalls, my awkward phrases, things that I need to iron out but I listen to it in moments where I’m commuting, on the train, I’m on a plane somewhere. I’m sitting at home, I’m cooking, sometimes I’ll listen to it while I’m cooking and I’ll practice while I’m cooking, I’ll practice to my toddler.
These pockets of time open up when you realize that this is a really important … not important, it is a crucial part of the process. I say to people, if you have a TV at home, you have time to practice. If you have a lunch break, you have time to practice. Maybe cut out Facebook the day before you’re going to present and take that time and run through what you’re going to say and I think it’s just the most important part of the process.
Jürgen: Yeah. That’s absolutely good advice. When you say record, do you do a video recording of yourself?
Lea: I’ve done video recordings but more for convenience, I mostly just record on the voice memo app on my iPhone because I really want to hear my voice. I watch video recordings when they come back from the conferences and usually I hate everything I see. I’m like, “Oh God, my hands, what am I doing?” Again, that is a really important part of the process because every time I think my energy is at an all time high and everything, I’ll watch myself and I’ll think oh, this is a really kind of a dead spot, I have to work on that.
That is a practice that comes from musical theater training as well. I mean hours and hours or rehearsal has been built into my DNA because that is how important it is to me that I’ve left an impact on my audience.
Jürgen: Fundamentally, that’s the objective of every presentation, isn’t it?
Jürgen: Which people forget somewhere although I think if you watch good presenters that do leave that impression it’s clear that they’re focused on that. Do you practice in front of the mirror?
Lea: Yes, I do actually. I like to practice. I’ll try to stand really far away from the mirror because I want to pretend I’m practicing to a large audience and go to each side of the room. Eye contact can be difficult especially for me because believe it or not I have extreme stage fright which is ironic. Eye contact was always something really hard for me but now I try to pick three friendly faces in an audience and I will look at them in a row and it looks like I’m addressing the entire audience.
I’ve gotten better. Now I do pretty good coverage but doing that in a mirror has been a really good way to practice that and it just helps you get acclimated to your facial expressions. I think it actually makes you turn it up a notch because you don’t realize how monotone and dead you might sound until you see that in a mirror. That has been really helpful too.
Jürgen: I struggle with the mirror a bit. I do it but I just become so self-conscious that I think it’s a completely false kind of thing. The video for me works a little bit better but I do a lot of audio as well. That’s how I essentially internalize the actual content and how I’m going to say it and the kind of vocal expressions if you like.
Lea: The point is that there is no wrong or right way to do it. You’re doing something in that process that works for you and that goes for every kind of presentation delivery, routine and ritual. It has to work for the individual person. It’s just that you have to do something to make it work.
Jürgen: Beyond just a lot of PowerPoint slides with text on them and scripts.
Lea: Walking in there, reading it.
Jürgen: If you could wave a magic wand then and fix one thing in your business, what would that be?
Lea: I would clone myself. I read a lot about productivity. I read the one thing essentialism and I admire these entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn and John Lee Dumas and Chris Ducker who just seem to create time out of his alternate dimension and I follow very closely what their systems are for increasing productivity because really I’ve done things like cut out social media at certain times and I’m trying to get close for theming my days but it’s really making the most out of my time.
There are sometimes weeks where I realize I didn’t create any content, it was just administrative stuff and I just don’t know where it goes. I’ve actually started to begin to work with a virtual assistant. That has been huge. I can’t say we’re in a place yet that it’s rolling out like we’re a machine but there definitely have been hours and hours saved for me so getting closer to that and learning to delegate. I’m not the best at delegating because I have a very particular way of doing things, but learning how to do that and learning how to structure my free time better is definitely the magic wand I’d be waving.
Jürgen: Well, definitely looking at opportunities to outsource things I find … I’m a productivity junkie but there’s only so many things to do and I tend to … I find a new shiny toy and I think oh, that might be a good way to do it but fundamentally, they’re all the same, they’re just different ways to do things. I worked so hard on the systems that I’ve got up and running probably 20 years or more and I think, there’s really not a lot more to be gained there, the law of diminishing returns.
Outsourcing tasks is the big one. If you can get help doing things that either you’re not the best person to add value to the business, that’s where it really works. I’ve set myself a task now because I’m in the same boat as you. I’m very particular about how things need to be done and I want things done my way. What I set myself now is every day I do at least one video explaining something, explaining some task and that then becomes a process that we can use in the team and the team follows it and they actually work on those processes now. I’ve got them in the mindset that they look at that and they say, hey, there’s a better way of doing that and then we fine tune the process so that the outcome is still the highest quality it can be.
Lea: Yeah. That’s great. One smart thing I did do when going about this is when I set up my Trello account for project management I anticipated working with the virtual assistant. Every time I did a task I made sure to stop and even though it took longer to do that task every time, I documented with checklists and created a video tutorial for that. That really came in handy because I struck out with my first virtual assistant. No work was really lost because I had all of those tutorials waiting to go for my new ones so, that was a huge, huge save.
Jürgen: Yeah. That’s right. Like you say, it does take more time than just doing the task. At some point there’s going to be that crossover where somebody else can now do that task and you don’t have to invest any further time in it other than maybe the QC check, a quality control check at the end or just the instruction, here’s another one of these to do.
Lea: I would think of it like a tiny shackle coming off every time you document one of your processes.
Jürgen: That’s right. All right, well, this has been fantastic so I think it might be time to move on to our innovation round which is designed to help our audience who are primarily innovators and leaders in their field with some tips from your experience. I’ve got a series of five questions that I ask and hopefully, you’ll have some really insightful answers that will inspire everyone and help them do something awesome.
Jürgen: What’s the number one thing you think anyone needs to do to be more innovative?
Lea: I would say that is to be unique and stand out, especially when your niche that you’re choosing is flooded with people that are trying to do the same thing as you. When I started I noticed the analytic space didn’t actually have a lot of entrepreneurs creating communities and trying to create like really dialogues. It was more just blogging one way and also, that the analytic space didn’t really have someone trying to talk about the intersection between presentation and dataviz for analytics.
I tried to be a first mover in a lot of those areas in exactly what I was teaching and also creating a community and creating a podcast. There’s actually only a handful of analytics-oriented podcasts so the first mover advantage there really helps. It had drawbacks as well. I have a bit of an off-the-wall personality and the analytics community it can be a little dry but I have definitely hit home with a number of people that do like something a little bit more fun and being myself, being my authentic self while standing on top of the experience that I have has been a great way to stand out.
Jürgen: Yeah, yeah, I love it. That’s a quirky sense of humor or something like that. That’s one way to be unique and stand out but one other things you said there is, being your authentic self so don’t put on an act or anything. That’s really great advice.
I’m reminded, I remember when I first started the business, I used to take this little purple cow money box that my son had in his room. I used to take that to networking events and people would ask me, what’s that all about? I say, “One of the books I read was Seth Godin’s Purple Cow that talks about standing out. My motto at those times was delivering outstanding results so you can all put it together.
Lea: Yeah, right. That’s great.
Jürgen: All right, what’s the best thing you’ve done to develop new ideas.
Lea: Absolutely, again, talking to my audience. I’ve tried to minimize the amount of time creating something that my audience isn’t asking for. I look at my own website, site search results, to see what people are expecting me to have. Last week, I saw someone had searched for stacked bar chart and column chart a couple of different ways and I thought, a site like mine needs to have tutorials about all different ways of doing charts and I really haven’t scratched the surface on that so I better get a move on. I’m going to start launching a new blog series like I don’t know what it … the quick and dirty clean chart series or something like that which will be really in-depth tutorials for creating all different chart types but clean and from a data visualization best practice standpoint so that’s listening to the audience.
Almost every presentation I do a giveaway of the books that I mention which help people sign up for my newsletter and that creates my dialogue with them. Something else I’ve done is I’ve offered a content upgrade with every blog post I’ve created. I learned this from Pat Flynn and Bryan Harris at Videofruit where I don’t just write a post and then walk away and it’s done. I offer some kind of tool that completely upgrades the entire experience for reading that post like a template or a checklist, something like that and that has probably gotten me 80% of my email marketing list signup.
Just offering, thinking about what little extra benefit could I offer on top of what I just talked about. Think about that and start to create them and that’s been a huge, huge signup win for me.
Jürgen: Yeah. That’s a great idea. I might steal that one actually. Yeah. Certainly, talk to the audience, listen to the audience and what are they looking to discover but I really love that content upgrade idea as well.
All right. What’s your favorite tool or system for improving productivity and allowing you to be more innovative?
Lea: It’s a task manager tool that my friend helped me discover when I was planning my wedding 10 years ago called Remember the Milk. I was a hot mess and still are some days but really, I could not get anything together. Remember the Milk is kind of built on the get things done, GTD method where every day, the second I think of something I have to do because I am that person with all the balls in the air and my head and they crash down frequently.
The second I think of something I have to do, I pull it out of my head and I drop it in my task manager on my phone, computer, Kindle, and I feel relieved knowing that when I need to address that I’m going to address it. It’s not going to slip through the cracks and I have tags set up, so that if it’s work related or podcast related. I try to group them like I’ll group everything with call so anything tagged with a call, I’ll say, okay, I’ve the next 20 minutes to handle all of the calls I have to make.
These are all of the things with the podcast that I need to edit and get those done in one shot. It’s a simple tool but it has saved my life. There’s no question. There’s no question about that.
Jürgen: Yeah. All right, that’s great. I was certainly a long time user of Remember the Milk so it is great. I’ve moved to another one mainly because of the way we can integrate this one we use now with a bunch of other things like project management system we use and everything. Anyway, Remember the Milk is definitely a good tool and there’s good advice there, getting things out of your head and into a list where you can be sure that when the time comes to actually work on that, you’ll get reminded and you will know where to find the information.
Lea: It’s freedom.
Jürgen: All right, so what’s the best way to keep a project or a client on track?
Lea: I would say it upfront when you’re establishing to work with them is to create checkpoints. If I’m doing like an executive presentation overhaul, which is another service that I do, I’ll ask when do you need this presentation in your hands so you have at least three days to practice. That’s the buffer that I like to build in. We’ll start that as final and then I’ll work backwards saying, okay, you’re going to want your final draft here, round one … round two, round one, brainstorming. I build my timelines backwards from when they’re going to get it that’s going to help them the most.
Just adding those checkpoints to the calendar and to remember the milk. I have reminders everywhere because maintaining my schedule is by far my least well-honed skill. I’m inept when it comes to managing my schedule. I have many talents and that’s not one of them so I’ve had to compensate for that.
Jürgen: Yeah. I think that’s characteristic of all busy people but they do say that if you want something done you give it to a busy person.
Jürgen: All right, so what’s the number one thing you think anyone can do to differentiate themselves?
Lea: Again, I would say determine what you uniquely bring to the table in your service. Are you going … I could have tried to target everyone who wants to present better or everyone that wants to do charts better but then I’m in a much bigger pool with much bigger fish where they have a lot more credibility established than I do and I could get lost in that shuffle but I chose, I chose the very niche industry that I have spent the last 10 years building experience in and applying that presentation and dataviz practice which could apply to anyone who presents.
I apply the analytics lens to that and that’s something that no one has really specialized in this field. I really bring my unique background to my practice to serve my unique audience.
Jürgen: That’s great advice particularly as you say, you can be a small fish in a big pond and then you don’t get noticed or if you’re not differentiated but if you focus on the area where you clearly have the background, you clearly have other expertise that underpins your offering then you’re the specialist. That’s not to say that people who want to improve their presentation skills outside of the digital analytics space are not going to come to you and ask for help.
Lea: Exactly, right. What can I bring to that?
Jürgen: Yeah. All right, that’s terrific. Thanks for that. Thanks for getting us through the innovation round. What’s the future for Lea Pica then and for your business?
Lea: As I said, I’m getting ready to kick off a nationwide tour of workshops to help analytics practitioners just leverage PowerPoint and Excel more effectively for communicating data, so that’s a first big thing. What I’m really shooting for at some point is the more passive income models so I’m contemplating an eBook what something like that would look like, even online courses, so taking any of my workshops and productizing them.
I’m not sure that the market I’m going after would go into that so that’s some market validation I still have to do and that’s why I haven’t jumped into that. Another kind of big dream that I have is to partner with analytics platforms that practitioners use to improve the visualizations in the tools.
I say, I never, almost never grab the screen grab out of the tool itself because it rarely complies with data visualization best practices and my dream would be to close that gap so that when you’re mining inside the tool for information, the data is being visualized in a way that’s helping you understand it as a practitioner even better.
Jürgen: It’s amazing. I was actually thinking of you the other day while I was going through one of our tools we use to pull together a report and I knew I had this podcast coming up and I thought yeah, I wish this native presentation coming out of this tool was actually done according to what you preach and so that’s …
Lea: Music to my ears. That’s my big mission.
Jürgen: If you can pull that off with some of those tools around, that would be awesome. I think that a lot of people would be really grateful for that.
Lea: Well, if they’re listening…..
Jürgen: All right, so let’s get back to our competition. As I said earlier, Lea has very kindly offered a coaching session with her so can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Lea: Sure. What I offer with one-on-one coaching is if you’re preparing for an internal meeting and you’re not quite getting a slide right or that you have a unique kind of data that you’re not exactly sure you’re showing the best way, I can assess the effectiveness of your current work. I can advise on how to tell the story better. Maybe that means blowing it out into more of a sequenced story.
I can coach on everything from if you’re feeling nervous, how to feel more confident in the room and if you’re doing a bigger industry, a presentation. I just coached someone for the eMetrics conference and they ended up getting the number one score which was fantastic. It was all about just finding ways to improve the visual aspects to improve the narrative throughout. Any part of that I’m willing to look over and partner to assess on the effectiveness.
Jürgen: That sounds awesome. What do we want the audience to do to go into the draw to win that prize, Lea?
Lea: Well, actually, I could create a landing page for people to sign up for a giveaway. Let’s say they can go to [edit: competition closed] and if you sign up there, you’ll be entered to win a free coaching session with me.
Jürgen: Okay. There you go. That’s a little bit different to leaving a comment so you go to that address. We’ll post the link underneath the video here but it’s leapica.com/innovabuzz and you can enter the draw for that prize there. Thanks for doing that, Lea, it’s much appreciated.
Jürgen: In conclusion then, what’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to any business owner who wants to be a leader in innovation or in their field?
Lea: I would say find resources or courses that directly support your most viable business goal. I really struggled with having all different ideas I want to pursue and different audiences I want to pursue but I really found that this was my most viable business goal. I’ve focused on learning about the things that would directly support that. Learning about how to run a podcast, learning about how to design a workshop, these were supporting the immediate goals for me and just really be careful of overload because I’m inundated with this course and that newsletter and this podcast episode and I want to learn it all at once but I learned this from Pat Flynn, you choose the thing that is going to support the one thing that will move your business forward at that time.
Jürgen: Yeah. That’s definitely great advice. How do you go about deciding what that might be, like let’s say it’s around podcasting. I know there’s heaps of different podcast courses out there now. I mean you can’t go wrong with Pat Flynn because he’s probably one of the number one experts but, yeah.
Lea: Well, I read his entire podcast launch tutorial and also podcast launch by John Lee Dumas who had like the number one podcasting business. It’s a phenomenon. Every single piece that I could get and even the book was only a few dollars.
I was tempted to join Podcaster’s Paradise and all these other courses to launch but I was like, “You know what, I think I could get this off the ground,” and right now the podcast has brought me in new clientele and so many new followers that I don’t need to spend that just yet. I’m not ready to go to the next level yet. Right now, my challenge is how to systematize so that I can get a few episodes ahead and I’m not scrambling to make that happen every week.
I’m looking for articles on how to systemize post production because that is the one thing that’s going to help me move forward with my podcast.
Jürgen: All right, well, that’s great advice. Really appreciate the time you spent with us today, Lea. We’ve hit the hour mark now and it’s been like we could keep going for ages. I really appreciate what you’ve shared with the audience today.
Where can people reach out and say thank you?
Lea: You can find me on my website. It’s my headquarters which is leapica.com. L-E-A P-I-C-A dot com. I would also love people to check out the Present Beyond Measure Show. It’s in iTunes and it’s also at leapica.com/podcast. You can find me on Twitter, @LeaPica, L-E-A P-I-C-A, and I’m on LinkedIn if you want to reach out that way too.
Jürgen: All right, that’s great. We’ll have the links underneath that show notes for all of those locations and I can certainly recommend the Present Beyond Measure podcast. There’s a lot of value in there so I encourage people to go and check that out.
Finally, Lea, who would you like to see me interviewing on the InnovaBuzz podcast in the future and why?
Lea: Two friends of mine, Camille Holden and Taylor Croonquist run something called Nuts & Bolts Training. They’re the first online course and blog dedicated to tapping the productive power of PowerPoint. A lot of PowerPoint courses like the one I took in college, which ruined me, showed me every single feature you can possibly use and every animation that allowed me to completely run amok and instead of doing that they show how to turn PowerPoint into a productivity machine and shave hours off your presentation work by learning shortcuts and customizing tool bars for the actions that you take the most frequently.
Their free stuff alone has transformed how quickly I get client work out the door and allows me to do things like practice more. When all that time opens up you can prepare. I would definitely check them out, Nuts & Bolts Training.
Jürgen: Nuts & Bolts Training. Okay. Camille and Taylor from Nuts & Bolts Training. Look out for an invitation in your inbox courtesy of Lea Pica.
Lea, thank you so much for sharing your time and your insights with us today on the InnovaBuzz podcast. I’ve really enjoyed this immensely. I’ve actually learned quite a bit as well so it’s been fascinating.
I wish you all the best for the future particularly these workshops that you’ve got coming up nationwide and I hope they go well and I also I’ll be continuing to follow the Present Beyond Measure podcast and let’s keep in touch.
Lea: Thank you so much. The pleasure was all mine.
Jürgen: Thanks Lea.
Well I hope you enjoyed meeting Lea as much as I enjoyed interviewing her. She is definitely very passionate about what she does and about equipping people to do great presentations. Having seen her present at the recent Digital Analytics Conference in Melbourne, I can tell you that she is a great role model for how to do an inspiring presentation. It’s well worth listening to her podcast “Present Beyond Measure” as well.
All the show notes for this episode will be at innovabiz.com.au/leapica, that is L-E-A-P-I-C-A, all lowercase, all one word, innovabiz.com.au/leapica, for all of the links and everything we spoke about in this episode .
Don’t forget, to win a coaching session with Lea, on your own presentation, leave your comments and tell us what it is that you’d want Lea to work with you on. Then complete the information at http://liapica.com/innovabuzz. We’ll announce the competition winner in a couple of weeks time.
Lea suggested I interview Camille Holden and Taylor Croonquist, co-founders of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, on a future podcast. So, Camille and Taylor, keep an eye on your Inbox for an invitation from me, for the Innovabuzz Podcast, courtesy of Lea Pica!
Thank you for listening to the InnovaBuzz podcast. We’d love you to review this podcast, because reviews help us get found and your feedback helps us improve. You can review us at iTunes or Stitcher and while you’re there, please subscribe so you’ll never miss a future episode.
Until next time, I’m Jürgen Strauss from Innovabiz.
Remember, if you don’t innovate, you stagnate, so think big, be adventurous and keep innovating!
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