No. 21 – Be Your Own PowerPoint Instead of Using It

Debra Benton Speaking

When I start a speech, generally after every other speaker has used a number of slides, I explain to the audience, “You’ll find that I don’t use PowerPoint. There is a reason for that. I believe you have to be your own PowerPoint in life. You can’t walk around with a group of slides over your shoulder explaining what you want people to remember. You have to live, breathe, show, and emote the effect you want to have on people.”

That’s taking nothing away from those who effectively use the technology. I just chose another approach in presentations so that I:

1) differentiate myself from others
2) rely on my physicality, choice of words, and mindset to communicate
3) practice what I preach (i.e. professional presence and executive effectiveness)

Next time you present, try it without any props except your own preparation and brilliance. You might find out that you explain yourself better than any technology can add to your speech.

– Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 20 – Tell People What You Feel

Standing outside a seaside restaurant in Malaga, Spain was an older woman dressed head to toe in a perfectly tailored aqua colored pantsuit apparently waiting for someone to join her. Sunglasses on her head and (likely) an Hermes scarf draped across one shoulder.

To this awkward-feeling college girl on Spring break, she looked the epitome of grace, confidence, and comfortableness with her happy facial expression, erect posture, and poised demeanor. After patiently waiting, an equally dapper young man joined her (I’m assuming her son) and gentlemanly escorted her to their table. She listened to him earnestly, touched his arm occasionally, spoke with enthusiasm, and laughed easily. I thought to myself, “that’s what I want to be like when I get older.”

Today, I am that older woman. Sometimes young women in my audience come up after a speech and say, “I hope I look like you when I’m your age.” It makes me feel good. And then I feel regret that I did not compliment that woman I saw in Malaga those many years ago. I was seated right beside her; I could have leaned over and said, “You’re a striking woman. You’re what I want to look like when I get older.”

Today if I see someone who makes me want to compliment him or her, I do it immediately and clearly because I don’t want to miss the chance to make someone feel good. It takes such little effort to maintain someone’s self esteem, and the payoff is so great for both of you.

– Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 19 – Six Signs That Your Job May Be At Risk

Posted on February 23rd, 2015 by in Career Management Tips & Techniques

You can do everything right, and things can still go splat in your career. As John Elway, two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, says, “Not only do you have to be good, but you have to be lucky.”

Keep alert for some of the warning signs your job is at risk.  This is not to be defensive but offensive in managing your career.

* You sense disregard for your authority by those above, below, and around you.

* The number of people who report to you is significantly reduced; budgets are cut.

* You increasingly feel that your energy, enthusiasm, and smarts are getting you nowhere.

* You experience notable indignities, such as being ignored in meetings, being left out of the loop on key decisions, or being omitted from the circulation lists for important e-mails.

* You have frequent run-ins with peers.

* You are repeatedly passed over for the most interesting, important, or prestigious assignments.

It’s smart to pay attention to your gut feeling on this.  Before you get panicky, ask questions to ferret out feelings vs. reality. Regardless of what you hear today, prepare for being “unlucky” someday. Keep your resume updated, and step up your efforts in expanding your network of contacts. Prepare emotionally and financially, so you regain a sense of control in your destiny.

– Debra

P.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 18 – Seconds Make or Break a Career

Posted on February 2nd, 2015 by in Career Management Tips & Techniques


The Seattle Seahawks coach’s decision to pass vs. run the football from the one yard line in the final seconds of the Super Bowl game changed his legacy and the player’s lives forever. Their six-month playing season of all-out effort turned on a few seconds’ decision and action at the end of the game.

Rosa Parks changed history with her few seconds of refusing to go to the back of the bus.

Daily we see lives ended in highway crashes by a few seconds texting.

Similarly, seconds can make or break your career.


- answer a single question intelligently or stupidly at the right or wrong time
– say hello and engage in conversation with the stranger in the elevator (or not), who turns out to be the decision maker on your proposal
– speak up and ask a question vs. sitting silently like the rest of the group
– walk into a meeting with a confident comportment, relaxed expression on your face, and purposeful pacing, or slink in and slouch with an unengaged demeanor
– make one more phone call, send one more email, take a bit more initiative on a project before you leave work for the day

Months and years of hard effort are necessary, but seconds of doing things a little differently/a little better than the next person is the big separator.

Think about it: If you take 3 seconds today to do 3 actions a little differently/a little better, that’s 9 seconds that could change your life.

-Debra Benton

No. 17 – How Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll Ups His Game

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll

Earlier this week, I recommended that you write your story — where you came from, what and where you learned what you know, the experiences that caused you to be you, and so on.

Korn/Ferry Briefings magazine interviewed Pete Carroll to find out how his leadership philosophy evolved after regrouping from being fired from the New England Patriots:

“I wasn’t sure yet what was really at the fundamental core and essence of who I was. I needed to figure that out if I was ever going to have a chance….I picked up a notebook, and from that point forward I started writing down my thoughts about what was important to me in coaching. I was trying to get at the essence of what I was all about and what was meaningful to me.  And out of that came a clear realization that I’m a competitor and that’s the way I had spent my whole life……So competition became the central theme of our program, and I realized that everything I was doing, that I would undertake, would be with a competitor’s mindset….And we needed to figure out who the guys (players) were that we were working with. We needed to understand them as well as we possibly could. We needed to uncover their unique, special qualities that made them them….” says Carroll.

So that’s another reason to write your story.  To find out what you already know but kind of forgot about yourself.  It’s a good practice to learn the same about your own team players. If you help them find themselves and find their best qualities, then you’ll help them in their highest ability to perform.


Photo:  Ted S. Warren via Flickr Creative Commons

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    Debra Benton Discusses How to Exceed in Your Career