Episode: 536 |
Davina Stanley:
Elevating the Quality of Business Presentations:


Davina Stanley

Elevating the Quality of Business Presentations

Show Notes

Davina Stanley, a consultant and author, has recently published the book Elevate: How to Lift the Quality of Thinking in Your Team’s Board Papers without Rewriting them yourself. She spent 15 years at McKinsey and coached consultants for 15 years. Her core work involves understanding the stakeholder environment and structuring messages based on the Minto pyramid principle. She brings her public relations and communications background, McKinsey Consulting experience, and her original background as a kindergarten teacher together to help people engage senior leaders and boards.


ClarityFirst Communication Program

Davina works with mid to senior level executives, often one-on-one or in small groups. She typically works with groups of 15 to 25 people. She helps build skills by giving them homework to do and working through the process together. She talks about how she works with senior executives and how she offers a structured program that can be tailored to budgets and ambitions. For groups with technical backgrounds with a fairly modest project, she might offer a three-hour workshop where they work through the process together and think through summarizing and synthesizing data and context. For groups with deep technical backgrounds, she might offer a six-week workshop with learning in advance. This allows the group to practice and learn, ask questions, and interact with the material. She explains how she structures the courses, why she adopted the drip model,  and why she started teaching online. Davina currently offers books and online courses as preparatory work for people to use in their own work.


Rise. Ready.  Iterate. Settle Embed.

Davina identifies key points that people should take away from her sessions. She focuses on two streams of work: collaborating to get the final messaging and document right, and getting the actual messaging right itself. She emphasizes the importance of clarity and quality of insight in structuring messages, beginning with understanding who this is for and what the core message is. Davina suggests that one message per slide should be embedded in the title of the slide, and other key lessons to be learned include understanding the stakeholder environment, getting ready to understand the communication strategy, iterating around the message as a one-pager to nail it with stakeholders, settling the document, and embedding learnings form both the process and outcome


Clear Communication Skills for Leaders

Davina’s book, Elevate, helps leaders build their own foundations in understanding the importance of clear communication. She suggests that leaders should build their own foundations by thinking differently about their communication, lifting their own skills, and elevating the team. She talks about the importance of leadership involvement in building quality communication. She states that leaders should first lay foundations by understanding why it matters and learning their own approach to building clear communication. Davina defines the skills that she’d like participants to take away from her course, and how she helps them through the course. Davina talks about the design of her book. She wanted to create a visually appealing book that reflected her teaching principles and was designed with a clear vision in mind. Her goal was to create a book that was user-friendly, with plenty of whitespace and a mix of slide design, PowerPoint design, and book design. The book’s shape was designed to be both visually appealing and easy to read. The book’s layout was a mix of slide design, PowerPoint design, and book design, with a focus on illustrating concepts and making them relatable to readers. The portability of online books is important for the visceral experience of having a book, but she also believes that physical books are wonderful for having something on their desk as a reference. She talks about the difference between typesetting and book design. Her first book, The SoWhat Strategy, was written with Jared Castles and is targeted at senior leaders and boards, focusing on more complex stories. Davina has built a list of 10,000 email addresses through her marketing coach, who helped her learn Facebook techniques. She has kept building this list and has been sending out weekly emails to help people with their communication. She talks about the emailing system and tools she uses to link systems together and create online modules. 


For listeners interested in learning more about her practice, Davina suggests visiting clarityfirstprogram.com, which offers various resources, such as her podcast, Cutting Through, and her free course, Emails Basic. To subscribe to her thinking, visitors can visit the website and sign up. 



01:53 Working with leaders

02:22 How Davina’s coaching business serves executives

06:51 The process of preparing for a coaching session

11:26 The structure of a good communication plan

16:43 Embedding the operating rhythm

21:37 How the book was designed with the user in mind

31:49 Davina’s email marketing strategy


Website: https://clarityfirstprogram.com/


One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:


  1. Davina Stanley


Davina Stanley, Will Bachman


Will Bachman  00:03

Hello, and welcome to Unleashed. I’m your host will Bachman and I’m here today with Devin Stanley, debonair Welcome to the show. Hi, Bill, good to see you, Devin, you have just published such a nice book, elevate how to lift the quality of thinking in your team’s Board Papers without rewriting them yourself. So I’d love to spend some time today talking about that book as well as about your practice. But before we dive into the book, why don’t you give us a quick overview of your practice your background?


Davina Stanley  00:37

Terrific, thanks well, so I typically help mid to senior level executives get to the point. And having spent some time at McKinsey and coached McKinsey consultants for 15. Or in fact, more than that, perhaps 18 years, I’ve become quite fond of the Minto pyramid principle. And so I’ve taken that as the core of the work that I do, and have thoroughly enjoyed helping people all across the world, actually, to to engage senior leaders and boards. And there’s a combination of two things that happen there. One is really understanding the stakeholder environment, which I think as consultants can be a really challenging thing to do, because we come in from the outside. So I have some specific things that I work with people on there. And then once we understand that environment, and we understand what it is that somebody broadly needs to convey, then we work out how to structure the message. So I bring, I guess, my public relations and communications background together with the McKinsey Consulting experience, and my original background as a kindergarten teacher. So I bring all of those together to help people and I just think I’m the luckiest person around I’ve got a fabulous job. It’s so interesting. And I get to work with such wonderful people. So I really enjoy it very much.


Will Bachman  01:59

Now, does your work with leaders tend to be very much specific deliverable base, hey, I have an upcoming, you know, all hands presentation and I need some help? Or do you tend to be kind of on retainer where the CEO will tap you anytime they have some presentation just to get some quick coaching on it? What how’s it normally structured?


Davina Stanley  02:22

It’s somewhere in between those things, actually, I think it’s really important when learning these techniques and practicing them to work on your own material, not to necessarily spend a lot of time on case studies because you’ve got to learn the case. And there’s a whole lot of learning that comes with that. That’s not necessarily core to the outcome. So I work sometimes one on one, sometimes in small groups, often in mid to large size groups. And I think the biggest group I’ve ever done anything for was 700 people, but that’s no way normal. Normally, I would say I work with groups of 15 to 25. The more senior people are, though, the smaller the groups tend to get. And the more applied, I find it tends to become. So when working with a CEO or senior executives, I find I give them some homework to do and then get together and say right, who’s got something and we do it together, we work through the process together so they can practice and those sorts of people are just so very time poor. It’s an effective way to practice and learn at the same time as delivering something. So sometimes I’ll help someone specifically on a particular deliverable, but it tends to be more often in the context of learning. Okay. Sorry, go.


Will Bachman  03:47

So you’re helping just kind of build someone’s skills, it’s not so much, hey, I have a board presentation coming up helped me prepare my materials for that. But it’d be more just in general, like working on their overall communication skills?


Davina Stanley  04:03

Look, it can be it can be helped me get through for this particular presentation. But more often I find it’s about the skill building piece. Yeah. Mostly.


Will Bachman  04:14

And how do you do you have a kind of a structured, existing program that people would go through, like a classroom setting? Or is it you know, what I want to tell us about that program that you want people through?


Davina Stanley  04:28

Okay, so firstly, I understand or in spend some time understanding the environment and what people are particularly looking for, and then tailor the way in which we deliver it to their budget as well because budgets can vary enormously. And their ambitions also, you know, how far do people want to go? Do they want a few quick ideas? Or do they want to really get very good at something, you need to have a very different design your program, depending on their ambitions and also according to the skills that they have when they unto you. So when people have a very technical background, and I do work with quite a lot of people who have very deep technical backgrounds, engineers, and product managers, and so on in technology companies, for example, then we might want to spend a bit more time because there’s a big gap between being able to work with very technical material, and then translating what that technical material means to a commercial context. And often those people need quite a bit of help actually, to make that leap, to be able to go from summarizing a whole lot of information to synthesizing it to tie together, that would mean that the data and the context if you like, that’s quite a big leap. So it depends who I’m working with. So if it is a group of people who want just a few good ideas and want to get going quickly with something, then I might offer perhaps a three hour workshop where we work through the process together. And we’ll help them think through a small piece of communication of their own or perhaps in a small group, I break them into small groups online, and do that as they’re bringing their own material to do it, but something fairly modest given the timeframe. More typically, I’ll work with a group over perhaps about six weeks, and I give them them learning in advance. And I do that so that I’m not just repeating the same things again, and again and again. So that when we come together, we can really practice and learn. And they can ask questions and interact with the material, it also means they get a couple of bites at it, if you like. And that really seems to help the learning and the embedding, because there’s a big difference between knowing about something and being able to actually do it. And so I want to spend my time with them, helping them actually do it. And that’s where the books come in. It’s where the online courses come in, as well, I give those as preparatory work for people. And then typically, I’ll have a couple of workshops with them, which would be two hours long, I find working online two hours is plenty. And I used to do them for 90 minutes. And then I found people wanted longer. So they could actually dive into the activities a bit more deeply and really work through and then debrief on what they’ve been doing. So to a couple of two hour workshops, and then we’ll have a coaching session where I put them into smaller groups, and we’ll work through the whole process together with something live, then they’ll go away in small groups and prepare a piece on your own. And email, I give them email feedback, they’ll email me their draft, we’ll go to and fro on that for as much as necessary, and then come back together for a final workshop where they’ll deliver the pace of communication they’ve been working on. And so that sort of iterative, incremental learning journey is proving to be really wonderful. And I actually started going pushing to go online in about 2017. And not just because I didn’t want to be in aeroplanes every week, which I was, you know, I was flying most weeks. And I thought that there would be better ways to do things, but also because I was teaching in an MBA program and just reflecting on the way you learn at school, or in an MBA program or some other structured learning environment, you don’t come into a room for a day, learn everything, and then assume you’ve got it and move on. And that’s I think a lot of corporate training was being run like that, you know, maybe a half day or a whole day workshop, which is really fun. It’s really energizing to do that. And, you know, you can engineer it. So you get the round of applause at the end of the day. And people love it. And they leave on a fist pump. And you know, it’s great fun, but I don’t think it delivers the sort of outcomes that we were looking for, in actually getting people to build their skills. And so just gradually over time, I started working towards more of a drip fed or incremental learning model. And it’s been really well received. And so before COVID, well, before COVID, I was doing perhaps half of my work online, and half of it in person. And then COVID came, of course, and everything went online. And so now almost everything is online. I see. And yeah,


Will Bachman  09:18

what are the five to 10 key points that you hope people take away from your sessions. I imagine some of them would be, you know, leave with the answer, one message per slide, embed the takeaway in the title of the slide, what what are some other key takeaways or key lessons that you’re teaching? So


Davina Stanley  09:43

I think there’s two streams of of work to do. One is to work at how you collaborate to get the final messaging and the document right. And the other one is how to get the actual messaging right itself and the points that you’ve referred to there, I think, classic points that come out of consulting and they were We say, okay, one message for the story, or the pyramid, as some people call it, a really short introduction, one single message to tie the whole thing together a small number of supporting points that we organize as either what we call a grouping, Barbara Minto, calls deep inductive structure or deductive structure. So, yes to all of those, but I think, before you even get to that, you’ve got to be really confident that the message that you’re structuring is the right message. And so I think the structure in itself does an awful lot or clarity of message. But we want quality of insight as well. And that’s where we’ve got to go back in time and think, Well, who is this for? And what do we want to achieve with it? And that’s where the collaboration piece comes in. Because individual consultants, I think, are typically working with clients. So you can ping pong with a client around understanding that stakeholder environment and getting really ready, around, you know, what, what are we speaking into here? Not just what is the answer to what the problem we’re solving, but what message do we need to deliver to create some change of some sort. And so step one, get ready understand the environment you’re speaking in, think about your communication strategy. So that would be number one. Number two, is iterate around that message as a one pager. Some people might be familiar in doing that as a dotdash. Outline, it’s what we used to call it as MCAP. McKinsey, where you have an a4 page or letter page, which you have a structure laid out in prose format, with bullets and so on. Or you might do it in PowerPoint, which is my preferred, we have a very structured outline, to follow simply because it’s really easy to wander off the quality and the structure of the message if you if you use the prose version. So ready, get ready to understand the communication strategy, iterate around that one page to nail it with your stakeholders before, then what you do is settle the document and creating the document should be really easy. You know, we often think that’s really, really difficult. But that’s only because the message isn’t clear yet. So once you’re clear on that message, settled a document, and then deliver it. And finally, embed, think about well embed your learnings think about what went really well there from a process standpoint, but also from a delivery standpoint, and, you know, did we get the outcome we want, so I tend to think of it as rise, ready, iterate, settle in bed. So they’d be my four things to think about.


Will Bachman  12:39

Let’s talk about this book, elevate. Now, listeners can’t see this. But I will just describe it’s beautifully designed. And I’d like to talk about that a little bit. The just, you know, just the Table of Contents here, it just is. The visual impact is really, really nice. And so I’ll just kind of read quickly the Table of Contents, so people in the chapter, so part one, lay strong foundations. So think differently about your communication, iterate fast and earlier on the top line messaging. And then part two is lifting out the detail. Ready, the team iterate the message using structured thinking principles, settle the documents that maintains the integrity, embed the learning to create positive flywheel effect. And part three, elevate the team. So we have lay strong foundations, lift up the detail, elevate the team, walk us through and give us a orient as to what is the overall kind of purpose of this document? Who who is it speaking to this book, and tell, walk us through the core ideas?


Davina Stanley  13:43

Absolutely. So this is the leaders and you could be a leader of a team of three people, you could be leader of the business with 1000s, it doesn’t matter which that the idea is that you’ve got people who work with you who need to prepare communication that engages senior people. And what I find is that I can go into an organization and help and I can build skills, which is great. But if the leadership’s not engaged and involved, then it becomes quite challenging, because leaders can affect the quality of the messaging because they don’t understand the principles. But also, if somebody like me comes into help, I’m only there for a short time the leaders actually need to drive what’s going on. So this book helps a leader come at this by first of all, building their own foundations understanding why this really matters and think learning their own sort of approach to building clear communication quality communication, to firstly lay foundations to understand why it really matters. And then the second one, lift, lift your own skills, because it’s really hard to lead this if you don’t have a modicum of capacity yourself. So I go through my way of thinking about this there and an attempt to be really clear and easy to follow as well. And then what we do is at the end we say okay, Now that you’ve got a handle on this, how are you going to lift your team skills, and I offer a range of ways of doing that, it could be that, as a leader, you want to coach your people on live work, you know, you don’t want to do some big program, you just want to coach them as you go, that’s fine. Here’s how you can do that. You might like to run a club may be a book club, and I’ve got a companion book to this one, which is also almost published, called engage, which goes more deeply into the structuring piece and gives 10 case studies on how to clarify and communicate your message. And any examples of doing that. In fact, it gives 12 But they’re based around 10 talents. And so, you know, give that deeper thing that people might have, and then, you know, help the leader run a clarity club, I call it to help the people just work through that together and really build the skills, then it’s a moderately structured way of doing it to help your people just keep track and actually build their skills fairly independently. Equally, you know, somebody might like to run some workshops, I know a lot of X consultants run their own workshops. And so I’ve got a program that people can take to do that. And also, if they choose, they can grab my own slides and exercises, and so on for a fee to build that up. So there’s a number of different ways a leader might like to build their team skills, and I try and provide them with a really simple scaffold regard, according to the way in which they’d like to help their people.


Will Bachman  16:34

What are some of the specific skills that you’re hoping people will take out of this particularly around as part three elevate the team?


Davina Stanley  16:43

Yes. So I think it’s, it’s about embedding that operating rhythm, so that everyone has a very simple habit of preparing that one pager and iterating around the one pager. So I think that’s the focal point of the whole thing, work together in a really structured and disciplined way. bring forward the thinking, though, that the leaders and the team can be very clear about the purpose and the audience for a piece of communication very often, people spend a lot of time trying to work out well, why do we need to do this? You know, you’re asked to do an update or something. Okay. So you know, can you update the board on your project? Oh, sure. No problem. Anything? Okay, well, fair, do I just tell them what I’ve done? Do I tell them why we’re doing what we’re doing? Do I tell them? We’re up to stage three? And we’ve got some real challenges for stage four? Why do they need to know this right now. And the leader can provide a lot of that information with short circuits, a lot of that thinking very early on, though, encourage them habits around that bring forward that thinking so that the team’s ready before they start to think about their messaging, then iterate around the messaging, and then the document, and the embedding just flows naturally from that. So I think the two key things really are about making sure that the team is ready to prepare the communication. And then you iterate around that high level messaging, because so many leaders told me they take paper after paper after paper home at night, and at weekends, it sort of goes a bit like this, you know, you ask for a paper. And somebody says, Okay, fine. All right, I’ll go do that update that you asked for. And then you send it off to your leader for review. And you send the whole thing, you send a pros document, you send, you know, a PowerPoint deck, maybe it’s five pages, maybe it’s 50, who knows, it’s somewhere in that range. And then the leader took takes a quick look at it and says, right, okay, this is gonna take a long time for me to really get into this, I’m sure there’s all the material I need. It’s, it’s all going to be here, but I can’t get into it very quickly. So all right, I’m going to pocket and I’m going to come back when I’ve got a block of time where I can really focus, and I want to do it justice and do the team’s work justice. So I need time. And what happens, of course, is that time gets away from them. And so then at nine o’clock at night, maybe you know, the day before it needs to be delivered, or hopefully not that badly, but certainly a while after they’ve received it. They have a look at it. And they think oh my goodness, you know, I have what do I do? It’s too late to delegate it back. Because they’ve missed the point completely. And okay, so can I just ask them some questions? Well, not at 10 o’clock at night, because that’s rude, though. No, I can’t do that. So all right, I’ve just got to redo it myself. So the leaders end up rewriting the communication themselves. And doesn’t matter what format it is. It can be, you know, an email that requires thinking it could be a paper, it could be a PowerPoint, and they end up doing their team’s job for them. And while the leader should does ensure to have really valuable contribution to make if they bring that forward and start thinking earlier about it, rather than just flicking it off, which is really quick and easy to do, as well. So requires the leader to bring their their own contribution earlier. By doing that, you save a heck of a lot of time, the team sends you a one pager to review, you can review it in 15 minutes, you then maybe have substantial changes, maybe have minor changes, whatever is necessary, and you can flick it back quite quickly. So you’re not holding them up, you’re not becoming this massive bottleneck, who then because they’re a bottleneck ends up doing the team’s work for them. So it changes that operating rhythm and frees everybody up to work at level. And also, everyone then gets to have a much more valuable contribution to make, rather than, you know, getting stuck in this sort of track changes format.


Will Bachman  20:48

Now, I want to ask you a little bit about the design of this document. Yeah, it says here in the copyright section that the project management and Tex designers by publisher central tell us about who they are and how you work with them. And just to listeners, the like the headings here are just like nicely called out and different font size and color. And then there’s these nice divider sections between sections like this sort of grayish dark blue, with light font. So it’s just very clear, and very nicely designed feels very, very high production value. Tell us a little bit about that process of just creating credit the design of this document.


Davina Stanley  21:37

Thank you. So it’s a second time I’ve worked with publish Central and Michael Hanrahan runs it. And he is he’s a lovely publisher to work with. So it’s a self publishing house. And I really wanted to do something visually appealing partly because we know way back when when I did study teaching, I studied art as well. And so the design of it was really important to me, partly just from an aesthetic point of view, but also because I wanted to reflect the principles that I’m teaching in the way the book was laid out. So you’ve called out the headings of the sections, and so on, which, you know, I think I attempted to make those very clear and design it in a way that you can see the hierarchy of the messaging really easily. There’s those big dividers for those big sections, the big chunks, and then the the most important things have got bigger font and less important, smaller font, and so on. And I think one of the things that’s been quite interesting there is that there’s a big difference between typesetting a book, and designing a book. And I was very clear with Michael from the very beginning that I wanted to design this book. And I’ve seen a number of other books done this way. And I thought, Oh, I really want to do that, too. And it has been, it’s been a real collaboration, because I think most books are typeset. So he chose a designer within his team who was more skilled than the average type salary if you like. But I’ve also needed to convey a fairly clear vision for what I’m looking for, but also show him what that meant. So in the third section, in particular, we get to a place where I’m talking about what how the team can, how the leader rather can elevate their team’s skills and offering slides and examples which I use elsewhere in the document. But I didn’t want to repeat, slide after slide after slide again, and again, and again, because I don’t need to do that I’ve already included them in the key sections, and I’m just wanting to have the leader No, okay, right, I need those two there, I need those ones. And you know, so in that final section, make them quite small, for example, and made them thumbnail types of design. And, you know, in the appendix offered, again, the full size version, and so on. So I tried to make it really user friendly, lots of whitespace. If somebody can take notes, I don’t want it to be so beautiful that they don’t feel like they can draw and write on it. I think that’s really important to make it your own to make it a tool. So there’s deliberately quite a bit of whitespace and, you know, trying to walk the talk, use it, use the message map method, the pyramid method to fracture all of the messaging throughout the book, and make it really easy as a reference, so that someone can use it as a guide. So it’s been a really wonderful collaboration, actually.


Will Bachman  24:27

Now, you created you laid out a distinction between typesetting it and designing it explain that distinction for us. How is designing it different than typesetting?


Davina Stanley  24:39

So typesetting is where you would choose the basic elements of a design. You might say you might want whole block color dividers between chapters. You might want this particular large font for your chapter titles. You You want a fairly simple format for the book where they can largely pour the text in and they’ll be often, you know, business books, I’ve got some images and diagrams spread through as well. So there’s a small amount of design that goes into that. But mostly, it’s very simple. It’s typically black on white, or perhaps maybe one color, and then White, for a very limited number of fonts, very simple layout. You think of a novel, that’s typeset, it’s very simply laid out. Whereas what I’m doing here is doing something that’s perhaps a bit more akin to maybe a white paper that McKinsey might do, or PDF document that’s, you know, laid out and designed really beautifully. So maybe it’s maybe it’s a balance between slide design, PowerPoint design, and book design, it’s perhaps a mix of both of those where you’ve still got those basic book fundamentals in place. But the shape of the book, you know, I’ve got two columns. For example, I don’t just have all the text going straight across, which you would normally do in a PowerPoint, but certainly bringing in tons and tons of images. Yeah, illustrate concepts and make sure that they land for people, not just text, text text.


Will Bachman  26:22

Is your expectation that most people will be reading this as a print copy or piece on their screens?


Davina Stanley  26:29

I don’t know. I imagine a lot of people will. I expect some people will also read on Kindle or an online version. There’s something really lovely about a visceral, the visceral experience of having a book and being able to find things. So the portability of online is very, very useful. But I think so I guess, I don’t know. I don’t know. But I think physical books are wonderful. And I hope people do get the physical book, as well, you know, as to have something on their desk as a reference that’s physically there as a reminder to keep doing this, rather than lose it in the myriad of Kindle or other electronic books. But you want to make it portable, too.


Will Bachman  27:18

Yeah. And I think that you said, this is not your first book, tell us about


Davina Stanley  27:22

No, it’s not. Yes, on my first book, I wrote with a collaborator. So Jared castles and I worked together for a long time in Australia. And we wrote a book called The sowhat strategy, which helps somebody build a structured storyline. And to use patterns to do that. And it’s a, I think, a really useful book. This one is different, I suppose, because it’s targeted at leaders and then engage. Again, it’s a little different because it focuses on senior leaders and boards and more complex stories. So So what strategy looks at quite simple stories. It’s deliberately short, I hoped quite readable, and introduces the idea of patterns. And I’ve taken that an extra level, I suppose in these books, I’ve got 10 patterns, rather than seven. And just for after, I think it’s seven years now, since we wrote that one, I’ve just got a much better handle on I think, what’s needed for senior communications. So you know, develop some patterns that I think are much more compatible with really complex stories that you need for senior leaders and boards.


Will Bachman  28:35

Because returning to your practice, how do you typically get introduced to these sorts of training opportunities? It all word of mouth? Are you doing? Proactive reach out to companies? Like how did these come to you?


Davina Stanley  28:53

Good questions. So I have, I guess I’ve been doing it for a while, which helps, you know, I started at McKinsey in the mid 90s. And mostly in Hong Kong, but then worked for firm learning, and then back in Australia for a long time, as well. So that’s helped me build quite a network. Also, you know, I think, once you do good work, people have your back. So there’s a lot of referral in my business. But I also have public programs, and I do promote those. So I have an email list of about 10,000 people that I’ve built over time. And that’s where I’ve been able to start building my practice over here in the States before I moved here to so that I’m not coming to an empty sheet. I still work for my Australian clients as well, but able to sort of the clients all over the place. So I spent quite a bit of time learning about social media marketing, and using Instagram and Facebook and LinkedIn also to help and so I offer quite a lot of free material to help people get to know me, you And that’s helped me when work. But I think very often will also search engine optimization. I think I’m very fortunate that I don’t know if anyone else has been approved by Barbara Minto, to teach the pyramid principle, but I had the opportunity to present to her and be approved by her. Thankfully, that wasn’t guaranteed, by the way, but, you know, I did, you know, a workshop and was recorded back in 2009, as part of a negotiation with her and be set, you know, she proved me to teach it. So being able to sort of state that I think, has been very helpful from an SEO standpoint, because people find me. And, you know, that’s not something I really talked about until, I guess, four or five years ago, because I just hadn’t really thought about it terribly much. But it’s been a very useful or useful thing to be able to say. And that that helps enormously as well.


Will Bachman  30:56

How have you built a list of 10,000 email addresses? Where


Davina Stanley  31:00

donation? Yes, I had a marketing coach a couple of years before COVID. And he helped me learn some techniques on Facebook and the things that he and I were doing together, and he helped me quite a lot to build that initial base, I think it was up to 20,000 at one point, and that the techniques that he taught me to use don’t work as well as they used stupid, that gave me a really strong foundation. And so I’ve just kept chipping away at building that, you know, people unsubscribe, then new people subscribe. And I’m not, you know, my practice has been quite busy. So I’ve let it slip to be really frank. But I’ve kept away at emailing these people almost every week, for a long time. So, yeah, absolutely. And that that has helped quite a bit. And so I think, you know, you get that initial flurry of people going, Oh, that looks interesting. And then they think, oh, no, for whatever reason, I don’t want to do that anymore, or no. So they do unsubscribe, and you get a much more concentrated, I hope higher quality group of people that do follow you. They’re sending steady experiment, it’s a constant experiment.


Will Bachman  32:17

You’re sending out a weekly email. Most weeks, yes. What kind of what kind of content is in there?


Davina Stanley  32:25

We’re helping people with their communication. And so I try and think of things that have happened during the recent period during my consulting work, and, and I’ll come across a challenge that somebody had. And I think, oh, that’s an interesting way of thinking about that. All right. Okay, I can post that and I can post a solution to it as well. So it’ll be something that I a question that somebody asked me or something that I do in a workshop to help people. And then I think, okay, that’s going to help people more broadly, and then I’ll give it out. And it’s been an interesting journey with that, actually, because I’ve had public programs, as I’ve mentioned, and I’ve just at the moment, redesigning my business model completely. And to work out what you give people who pay you every month, versus what you give people for free. You know, that is an ongoing learning journey. That’s, that’s really quite interesting to navigate that to make it useful for people, but then give those who are paying you money more value. Okay, how do I, how do I do that? That’s, that’s not easy. So that’s been quite an ongoing challenge.


Will Bachman  33:36

And just curious, what, what tool do you send? You use MailChimp or HubSpot or, or some other?


Davina Stanley  33:44

Yeah, I use Active Campaign, again, going back to my coach. And at the time, there’s another one, which, oh, the name was on the tip of my tongue for a minute, which is really complicated. And he said, No, no, no, use this one. Because it has all of the it’s reasonably heavy duty, but it’s pretty easy to use. So it’s much more sophisticated than MailChimp. I think still, certainly at the time that I chose it. So it’s a blend of a CRM, and an emailing system. And it has some tools in it, which are very powerful. So in my business, we like to automate things as much as we can. And as part of this redesign of this business model. We’ve been simplifying all of the tools in our back end and I have someone who works with me Sheena, who’s been with me for eight or nine years now. She’s wonderful. Have we have another girl who’s helped me as well Fatima for about 10. But Sheena is the one who has helped me design these tools and use things like web hooks and so on to be able to link systems together and online modules. Now we host in we’re in Thinkific, which is an online learning platform. And I mentioned I get people to do pre work so I like them too. template, a series of modules and then, you know, do challenges and quizzes with those and, and do that before they come and work with me in person online. And so she’s helped do things that mean that people get welcome emails, and they get signed up to the online course and they get the correct one. And we will, for example, get people to go through a process where maybe they’ll do a little survey, which is a bit like a commitment form at the beginning of a program just so that people understand this is a multi step program, you’ve got to have things locked in your diary. Have you done this? Have you done this? Have you done this? Yes, yes, yes, yes, great. Well, now give us your email address, and tell us where you’d like your physical goods to be sent to and click send. And that automatically enrolls them into the system and populates a spreadsheet, so she knows where to send the books and the other learning materials that we’ll be sending them. And so she’s wonderful. She’s helped me set up those kinds of things, which has been, it’s fabulous. It’s kind of it’s a fun distraction, but I’m pleased not to be distracted by all of that anymore. You know, she does all of that, which is great.


Will Bachman  36:11

Wow. Okay. Very sophisticated marketing operation, definite for listeners that want to find out more about your practice, where would you point them online.


Davina Stanley  36:23

So if they come to clarity, first program.com, you’ll see all sorts of things there to help you. If you’d like to hear some have more ideas for me, they might like to look at my podcast, they can find that on any of their favorite players. It’s called cutting through. You can also come to the website for that clarity first program dot Sorry, I’ll say that again. My apologies clarity first program.com/podcast. Or they might like to try my free course, which is clarity first program.com/email. It’s emails, plural. Basic. So that’s a 10 minute course that people might like to try.


Will Bachman  37:03

And how do they get on your your weekly email list if they want to subscribe to your thinking,


Davina Stanley  37:09

come to the website, scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up.


Will Bachman  37:13

Alright, fantastic. Devin, thank you so much for joining today. Congrats on the publication of elevate and it was great. Thank


Davina Stanley  37:19

you. Pleasure. Likewise.

Related Episodes


Author of Imposter No More

Jill Stoddard


Author of For Profit: A History of Corporations

William Magnuson


Commercial Leadership Roles in Professional Services Firms

Scott Ratliff


How Expert Networks Can Add Value to Primary Research

Ammad Ahmad