Event Recap: Welcome to Coach U - Teaching Presentation Skills the Graceworks Way

Carol Doscher, President and CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Graceworks led the first SMPS CT program of 2019 - Welcome to Coach U: Teaching Presentation Skills the Graceworks Way. As marketing professionals, we are often faced with the challenge of successfully leading our teams during interview preparation. Carol shared her process of preparing a confident team that's ready to knock it out of the park come interview day. Top of the list was the importance of putting the client first, and focusing on 'what's going to help the listener?' as the basis for decision making through the preparation process. The attendees of our program were taken through the steps of developing compelling story boards, while making sure to address the client's main concerns. 

As coaches, it is our responsibility to accentuate the positive in our teams, and provide constructive input. To help our attendees with this task, Carol provided tips and tricks and how to address common interview mishaps and how to best utilize practice time, such as putting story ahead of graphics, and not being afraid of 'ugly rehearsals.' 

Ultimately, the key takeaways included:

  • Make it about your client
  • Strategize and develop a story before you develop the graphics
  • Practice out loud - don't be afraid of 'ugly' rehearsals 
  • Body language is key

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Event Recap: Confessions of a Content Whisperer and Google Analytics Guru

Getting content from your technical staff isn't easy. Whether it's proposals, social media, or presentations, having the right strategy and game plan can make all the difference. At our October program, Danielle Gray, Owner of DG Marketing Company, equipped our attendees with tools to get content from their technical team, measure online presence utilizing Google Analytics, and apply your findings to your overall strategy.  The program started with a discussion of identifying the correct content. To ensure that you are getting meaningful content, it is important that it address these questions: What? So What? Now What? As important is identifying the various technical and work personas and developing a communication strategy for each of them. Having the appropriate approach for each of these personas can make all the difference in the quality of your content. 

Utilizing Google Analytics can help you determine if the content you created is having an impact with your desired audiences. Data pulled from Google Analytics can be analyzed to show where your strengths and weaknesses are, what's working and what's not, give you insight into your core audience, and inform your overall strategy. It is important to report the data back to your company and it "digestible" so that it is easily understood and communicates key points. 


The key takeaways from the program include:

  • Focus on the goal
  • Everything starts with content generation
  • Remember your technical personas
  • All content should be customer-focused
  • Measure everything
  • Use data to communicate points
  • Present 2 + 2, not 4


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Event Recap: Reading the Room - The Dynamics of Emotional Intelligence in Action

We kicked off our 2018/2019 program year with an interactive, experiential learning workshop, Reading the Room: The Dynamics of Emotional Intelligence in Action, led by the Bolder Company.

Keynote Speaker

The program opened with a keynote speaker:  Liz Dederer, Selling with Service. Liz spoke about sales conversations and decoding your client's sales language. The #1 mistake everyone makes in sales conversations is presenting financial decisions to another party in our own financial language -  we need to take the time to listen for what drives someone's decisions. 

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people. Attendees of our September program were led by Bolder Company's Founding Partners Ellen Feldman Ornato and Jenny Drescher through a series of exercises that built their self-awareness and self-regulation including Rule Breaking and Catastrophizing. Concepts such as cognitive distortions, which are biased perspectives, and practicing minful responses, which allows us to take a take a step back and assess a situation before reacting, were explored during the program.

Overall, everyone came away with a set of skills to help them tune into facets of emotional intelligence that will help them better navigate challenging business and personal situations. Take aways included:

  • Get out of your own head.
  • Open up the communication and have a conversation.
  • Be prepared for different outcomes.
  • Be BOLDER.
  • Take a longer pause if needed. Deep breaths.
  • Don’t be reactionary.


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Event Recap: SMPS CT Strategic Planning


As part of this year's strategic planning retreat, SMPS CT was joined by Inspire Corps. Acting as facilitators, they led SMPS CT members on a journey through time to discover the past and future of the chapter. From humble beginnings as a satellite office to the Boston chapter to various accolades and recent growth spurts, SMPS CT has a rich history that has that helped form the chapter as it is today. Our members came away with an understanding of how SMPS CT started and the various factors at play during it's growth stages.  

Inspire Corps illustrating the history of SMPS CT from our beginnings in the early 1980's to present day. 

With a clear view of the past, we were able to start planning for the future. As part of the discussion we took time to relflect on the SMPS Mission & Vision and benchmark our goals against both:

The SMPS Mission: To advocate for, educate, and connect leaders in the building industry. 
The SMPS Vision: Business transformed through marketing leadership. 

Attendees were able to use their creative thinking skills as we discussed critical path items and set goals to make our 2018-2019 program year the best it can be.

SMPS CT members discussing the vision and mission of SMPS.



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Event Recap: AEC Award Submissions

SMPS Connecticut presented a panel discussion on AEC Industry Award Submissions moderated by Cathy DeFrances, CPSM, Associate / Director of Business Development  |  Fuss & O'Neill EnviroScience, LLC. Speakers at the Wednesday March 14 afternoon event in Unionville included:

  • Theresa M. Casey, FSMPS, CPSM, President/CEO, On Target Marketing & Communications LLC
  • Kevin Herrick, AIA, Principal, The S/L/A/M Collaborative
  • Susan Labas, CPSM, Senior Associate and Director of Marketing, van Zelm Engineers


The panel discussed a number of relevant topics, sharing their insight and knowledge with attendees. There was a good turnout and the food was excellent!

First steps in submitting for an award:

  • Look at the criteria and select the project that best suits the competition.
  • Start early, up to a year in advance, and track project metrics.
  • Select awards programs and publications that will support your target markets.
  • Determine what information you need to gather from the project.
  • To identify awards programs, look at what your competitors are doing and ask your clients and consultants.


Getting the whole team on board:

  • Be creative! Strategize, give it a theme, and include photography.
  • Develop a story. Talk to as many people as you can who are involved with the project.
  • Step back, and tell the whole story. The judge is not going to be familiar with your project.


Review of winning project submissions:

  • Don’t underestimate the small projects. Those win more than their share of awards.
  • Supplemental information can make a big difference, such as letters of recommendation.
  • Tell the story with photos, layout, and supporting materials.
  • Follow the criteria and structure of the awards.


Additional tips:

  • Ask for a debrief when you don’t win. Lessons learned.
  • Use large, professional photos and label them.
  • The level of quality and care in submissions is rising each year.
  • Submit a blend of visuals and text and detail the images to tell the story.
  • Entries are judged on the submittal criteria over the design of the piece.
  • Follow the word and page count criteria, fitting extra information within the limits.
  • Nobody counts the photo captions. These could be used as extra words.
  • Take advantage of available award FAQs and webinars.



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Event Recap: Fireside Chat with Carolyn Bligh

At our latest Fireside Chat program, members of SMPS Connecticut spent the afternoon with Carolyn Bligh and gained insight on her career and the opportunities that have helped her to achieve success.

Carolyn is a past president of SMPS CT whose desire for living her life with the purpose to inspire others has guided her in making career and personal decisions over her 25+ year career in the A/E/C industry. Carolyn shared influences and defining moments that shaped her career journey - including following her mother's advice and applying for her first job as a graphic designer at Russell Gibson von Dohlen. She has transcended from Director of Graphic Design for one of the largest A/E/C firms in the Northeast, to owning her own consulting business for 24 years, and is currently the Director of Facilities Design for ESPN, a global leader in sports entertainment and events.

Carolyn shared some invaluable advice with our members:

  • It's all about being surrounded by people who believe in you, people you trust - it's all about surrounding yourself with people who will help you rise to the next level.
  • No one’s going to remember how much time you spent on a project, they’re going to remember how much they like it.
  • No excuses, it shows weakness.
  • Believe in yourself and your ability. You have to have strong principles and beliefs - always stick up for your beliefs and never let anyone compromise them.
  • Treat the person standing in front of you as the most important person at that time.
  • Push back, challenge. Know you're worth it, be confident in yourself.

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Event Recap: Event Management and Birthday Bash Program

There was an atmosphere of celebration at our November 15th program - SMPS Connecticut members and guests not only learned the latest event management tips and tricks but also celebrated SMPS Connecticut’s 35th birthday. The event took place at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut. Real Art Ways is an alternative multidisciplinary arts organization that presents and supports contemporary artists. The venue provided the perfect space for our attendees and panelists to mingle and discuss the ins-and-outs of event management.

SMPS Connecticut President, Sharon Pomeroy, kicked-off the event sharing the chapter’s history, including its origins as the Southern New England chapter, and its journey to becoming the SMPS Connecticut chapter we know today.  Sharon took the time to recognize the contributions of past presidents to our chapter's success. Past presidents in attendance included (left to right) Theresa Casey, Maria Loitz, Jim Bancroft, Cathy DeFrances, and Geryl Rose. 

Our panel included three event management experts: Amanda Mueller, Senior Vice President, Cashman + Katz Integrated Communications; Danielle Casey, Director of Corporate Sales & Catering, Present Company; and Lindsey Burke, Marketing Specialist, SystemOne. The panelists shared horror stories of missing equipment and late vendors. The panelists agreed that it's important to always have a plan b - whether that's an emergency kit you always keep in your car or an extra tradeshow banner you keep in your suitcase. Danielle Casey stressed the importance of keeping a checklist and assigning responsibilities to keep your team focused and on track. Our attendees questioned the value of new technologies and electronic media. Lindsey Burke shared her experience that the latest technologies, such as SnapChat filters, don't always provide the best return on investment and that sometimes going back to the basics is the best way to go.

After the panel, the birthday celebrations began. Everyone was treated to birthday cupcakes and t-shirts as our guests mingled and explored the venue.  As part of our celebrations we raffled off a free annual membership - this awesome prize went to Cathie Reese of Geomatrix Productions, Inc. - congratulations Cathie!



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