Transcript of How to Give a Great Business Presentation
John Jantsch: Hey, this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by rev.com. We do all of our transcriptions here on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and using rev.com, and I’m going to give you a special offer in just a bit.
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Michael Port. He is an actor, speaker, trainer, and author. Of course, many of you know his book, Book Yourself Solid, his more recent Steal the Show, and he’s also the co-founder of Heroic Public Speaking, an organization that is really, I think, revolutionizing the training of public speakers and presenters. So Michael, thanks for joining me.
Michael Port: You are very welcome. Thank you for having me.
John Jantsch: So, I always like to start with a hard question. You train a lot of public speakers, so what’s the one thing that you have to work on almost everyone?
Michael Port: There isn’t one thing, unfortunately, I wish … if there was just one thing I needed to work on for everybody, that would be great. But I would say this: if I was going to give you one of my top choices, I would say staging, meaning where you go on stage, when you go there, and why you go there. Because what we see in presenters, generally, is one of two things. Either they’re pacing back and forth like a caged animal, and they’re wearing a path in the rug, or they just stand in one place frozen like a deer in the headlights. And one of the things that is difficult for an audience is the sameness. So, audiences often are most compelled by contrast, changes, things that are different. If you went to listen to Yo-Yo Ma play the cello, arguably our generation’s greatest cellist, and he played the most beautiful note in the world, but then he played it for three hours, just that one note, you’d run screaming out of the theater.
Michael Port: And so if the audience is forced to watch you pace back and forth for the length of your speech, they’re going to start getting lulled into sameness. And no matter what you’re saying, even if what you’re saying is different, it’s going to start to seem the same because what you’re doing with your body is the same. And the same thing is true for if you’re just stuck in one place, like a deer in the headlights, everything that comes out of your mouth will seem similar because your physicality is similar.
Michael Port: So, when we do surveys with the people that we work with, and we work with entrepreneurs who want to book more business through speaking because they know it is such a phenomenal way of advancing their brand and demonstrating credibility, and we work with professional speakers and people who are on that track, and of course we work with executives, professionals inside organizations who know that their ability to communicate is one of the major factors in their advancement inside that organization up into higher levels of leadership. And when we ask people, no matter how much experience they have, no matter which category they’re in, how they feel about their skill with respect to moving on stage, or if they’re in front of a big conference table, or even just a group of 20 people, they always score themselves the lowest across the board. So, that’s generally where we’re able to make the biggest impact, the fastest, so that the audience is getting a visual experience of the material from the speaker, not just an intellectual experience.
John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think most people … well, not everyone does this, but I think most people would say that the big job is to create the content, is to have your ideas concise, and make your point. But I think people probably terribly underestimate the performance aspect of even that conference room presentation. Is that something that … I know it’s because I know you’re training. I know that’s something you work with, but is that something that has to be an intentional part, you believe, for a presentation to be better, that physicality as you call it, has to be an intentional part that’s built in just like the words?
Michael Port: I do. And I think that the word performance or performing can be provocative because if you don’t see yourself as a performer, you may think that a performer is inauthentic, or that performance is inauthentic. And in fact, that’s not the case. What we see in the best performers in the world are the most honest performers, meaning they bring honesty to the stage. But of course, there is such a big focus on authenticity, but authenticity is something that actually can be problematic because, let’s say you are going to give a presentation and you’re sick, and you’re exhausted, and you missed … three planes were canceled on the way there and you haven’t slept in the last day. Well, the last thing you might want to do, actually, is give that presentation. So, if you’re completely authentic, you might walk on in front of the group and say, “Listen, I’m really pissed off that I’m here, I’m sick, I’m tired. I don’t really want to do this, but you know what, I got to do this cause I know it’s good for my business or my boss sent me here to talk to you. So, I’ll just push through it, and then I can’t wait to be done, go get a drink, and go to sleep.” That’s completely authentic. But that’s not necessarily what you’re there to do. And I would venture to say that most people would never, never start a presentation like that.
Michael Port: So, we are always performing in one way, shape, or form if we are trying to get people to think differently, feel differently, or act differently. And the reason that we’re performing is because, in order to get people to think differently, feel differently, and act differently, then we need to make very conscious choices about the actions we’re playing, how we want them to feel, what we want them to do, what we want them to think. And anytime you’re making those conscious choices, you are performing. And so even if you’re trying to get your kid to calm down because they are six years old and they’re throwing a tantrum because they want something that you’re not going to give them, like cotton candy, well you’re going to get really, really clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you know what you’re trying to accomplish, then you’re going to choose tactics that you believe will help you accomplish that objective when you speaking to your child.
Michael Port: And so we do this regularly throughout our daily lives. And if we are asked to make a presentation, or we ask to make a presentation, then I think it stands to reason that we would be well served by spending even more time focusing on our objectives, our super objectives for the overall presentation, and then our minute by minute by minute by minute sub objectives as we’re moving through all of that content, and making sure we’re very, very clear on how we want them to feel, what we want them to do, and what we want them to think. And then we’re going to play actions, and make choices, and use different tactics to accomplish those objectives.
John Jantsch: It all sounds like a lot of work. I think I would just give him the damn cotton candy.
Michael Port: Now, I know you as a father, I’ve met some of your daughters. There is no way you are the “I’ll just give you the cotton candy” type of dad, because you had higher expectations for your kids than that. And of course, we’ve all just given in and said, “Here, eat the damn cotton candy because I need to sit down. I can’t take it.” But for the most part, when you have high expectations for the people around you, you’re going to do the work that is required to lean into those expectations. And the amount of work that you put into a presentation, I think, should be directly proportionate to the stakes of the presentation. So, if the stakes are not very high, if you’re going to give a five minute presentation to your kid’s sixth grade class, you could probably go in there and wing that. But if you’re asked to give a 60 minute presentation to people who could have extraordinary influence over your future, the stakes are going to be higher. And to me, I would want to work more on something that has very high stakes.
Michael Port: So yeah, I think there is a lot of work that goes into producing something that is world class or best in class, and if that’s important to you then you’re going to do that kind of work. So, I don’t shy away from the fact that it does take a lot of work, I think, to be really, really quite effective as a performer. And I think one of the reasons that we don’t think it takes that much work is because we speak all the time, and often the things we’re talking about when we give a presentation are things that we’re used to talking about, sitting at a table one on one with somebody or just chatting in the hallway. But just because we have experience with something, doesn’t mean that we are able to present it in speech format to a large group of people in a way that’s going to be extremely compelling.
Michael Port: So, we work, as I said, with people from all different industries and all different levels and we’ll often work with folks who come out of very, very high positions at big name marquee type companies. So, they have extraordinary expertise in their particular area and they have a personal brand reputation that is really impressive, in part because of the work they did at these companies in the past. And so, because they feel that they are experts, they feel like they should just be able to talk to the audience just for 60 minutes and the audience is going to get so much value from it.
Michael Port: But the fact of the matter is, when you have expertise in something, you’ve often forgotten more about that particular topic than most people in the audience know. And so, because so much of it is so intuitive to experts, they often leave really big gaps in their material that they assume the audience can fill, but in fact the audience has trouble filling. Or they make the material overly complicated because they’re so interested in all of the nuances of all of that material. And to them it all makes sense, but without the same kind of context that they have, it’s harder for the audience, even if they’re sophisticated, intelligent, experienced folks. Sometimes it’s just not enough. So, it tends to take a lot more work to produce a really great speech than I think people realize.
Michael Port: And then one other thing I want to say about this is sometimes people push back and they say, “Well, I don’t really want to do rehearsal on a speech because I’ve tried it in the past and it doesn’t work. It makes me stiff, or I feel slower, stodgy, I just don’t feel like I’m on my game.” And that is an absolutely accurate assessment of their experience. I’ve seen this over and over and over again. And the reason that they felt stiff or like they were off their game is not because they did rehearsal, it’s because they only did a little bit of rehearsal. Because when you do a little bit of rehearsal, generally what happens when you’re trying to present, instead of being in the moment, you’re trying to recall what you had worked on in rehearsal and repeat it. But what happens is you’re now in two different places, and what great performers do is they know their material so well that they can completely forget it before they walk on stage and allow it to come to them in the moment, so that, to the audience, it feels like it’s the first time it’s ever being shared or delivered and it feels relevant and spontaneous.
Michael Port: But you get that spontaneity when you are able to mix both preparation and improvisation, but just winging it is not improvisation. Just winging it is just making it up as you go. And I know we think that if we get into a high state where we have a lot of adrenaline pumping, that we think we’ll rise to the occasion, but the military tells us that we usually don’t rise to the occasion. We fall back on our training, because when the stakes are high, and when adrenaline is pumping, when things are moving fast, then in order to be able to deliver what’s needed in that moment, it’s got to be in your bones. If we have to think too hard, then we tend to feel slow, stiff, and out of step.
Michael Port: Just like if you said, “Listen, Michael, I’m going to … I need some help fighting in Syria right now. I know you don’t have military training, you don’t know how to use the comms. Actually, you don’t even know how to use most of the weapons that we’ll use. I know you’ve never done any kind of training whatsoever, but I’m sure you’ll rise to the occasion as soon as we put you in the firefight.” Oh, I’m going to die. It just … I’m going to be dead, and the stakes are higher there because it’s life or death. On the stage, it’s not life or death. So, you feel, “Okay, well if I don’t kill it, well I’m not going to die.”
Michael Port: But you probably are missing some extraordinary opportunities because if you’re an entrepreneur … look, there are some core self promotion strategies. There’s networking, direct outreach, referral strategies, there are web strategies, there are writing strategies, and of course there are speaking strategies. And there are few strategies that give you more credibility than being given some sort of platform from which to speak. And if you’re given a platform from which to speak, I think it is a great honor. And so if you’ve got 50 people in the room and you take an hour, well that’s 50 hours of time that someone has given you. And to me, there’s a great responsibility. I have an enormous amount of reverence for that stage, for that platform, and for the people in the room. And if our job is to focus entirely on serving those people, helping them, not just looking good ourselves, but focusing on producing results for the people in the room by solving their problems, actually, public speaking gets a lot easier, because you’re not as self absorbed herself to centered. The self absorption and the self centeredness is what produces the anxiety, but if you’re not focused on yourself and you’re focused on solving their problems and helping them produce results, you tend to be actually much more relaxed.
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John Jantsch: Yeah, I think that in my speaking, that was a huge moment for me was to realize what am I here to give as opposed to how am I here to entertain them? Especially in … I built my entire business, I tell people this all the time and I trained consultants on this all the time, doing what I call speaking for leads. And because you’re absolutely right. For a consultant, a professional service provider, I mean really just about any industry, it’s probably the most potent way to kind of move somebody from knowing you, to them liking you, to them trusting you, to sort of trying you because they’ve now seen what it’s going to be like to work with you. So, it’s like you move that customer journey so fast with with this tactic.
Michael Port: That’s right. And you know John, the expectations for speakers differ. So, if you are going to present to a group of 30 people at a business networking event or a Chamber of Commerce, or some other place where your target market is gathered, well they may not expect you to come in and have them rolling in their seats. They’re expecting you to solve their business problems as they relate to your expertise, and their immediate needs. But if you want to be a $30,000 professional speaker speaking at big conferences where your job is to set the key … strike the keynote for 5,000 people in the room, well then the expectations are going to be different. And there will be a higher level of entertainment value expected.
Michael Port: Now, if entertainment value is not expected, but you can still deliver it, well then you really stand out. So, if you can solve their problems, if you can deliver exceptional transformational experiences for them because you’re offering them solutions to things that really frustrate them and challenge them, and you can entertain them at the same time, well then you’re in a league of your own, especially in those environments where the entertainment value expectations are actually low.
Michael Port: And look, give yourself some credit because you’re pretty darn entertaining. You really are. You’re witty, your sense of humor is dry, and you, I think, are fully self expressed when you’re presenting and you do it in your way. And that’s what’s so important. There is no one style that works for presenting. And any time you try to present like someone else, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you will never be like somebody else. And if you focus on amplifying the most compelling parts of your personality as it relates, again, to solving the problems for the people that you serve who are in the room at that time, well then you can create a style that you feel very comfortable with and really, really shows off your personality. Because there are no expectations with respect to how you’re supposed to be as a presenter. What they’re evaluating is, “Did this person help solve my problems? And do I feel like I can produce a better result because I heard them? And did I enjoy myself while I did it?” If you’ve got those three things, you’re good to go.
John Jantsch: Let’s … because we have been focusing a little bit on winning more business and not necessarily wowing 50,000 people, because the bulk of people will never have that experience. I mean, they’ll sit across the table, they’ll try to convince somebody to buy from them. When creating presentations that are maybe primarily to get business, like I talked about my speaking for leads, what do you find the best way? Because I think this is … sometimes people can have great information and then they get to that call to action part, and they sort of stumble. It either comes out inauthentic or they don’t really get across what they’re trying to say. I mean, what’s the key to writing effective … if we are trying to get business from that talk, what’s the key to writing effective or presenting an effective call to action?
Michael Port: So, let’s back it up a little bit because as you know, the closing techniques that someone uses in say, a sales conversation are often not the things that made the sale or lost the sale. The sale is usually made much earlier on in the relationship. Earlier in the pipeline is when you’ve won or you’ve lost. But sometimes we associate something we did at the end and say, “Well, that’s why I won the business.” And of course there are certainly some tactics that are more effective than others when it comes to actually asking for the business. But if we back it up a little bit and we focus on, “Alright, well how would we … if we’re just doing a short presentation, how would we structure it? What’s important?” Well, there are five elements that we see exist in every good presentation, and I stay away from absolutes, but in this case you can find these five elements in one way, shape, or form in great presentations that you see.
Michael Port: Now, they’re not the only five elements that you’ll have in a presentation, but it’s a great way to start. And very often when we work with individuals who are promoting their businesses through speaking, or if we’re going into large organizations and we’re working with sales teams or anybody else that is out in the world presenting that brand, we’ll work them through what’s called the foundational five. And the foundational five is five elements that, if we are really clear on, then we can make this pitch, this presentation in almost any way, shape, or form in three minutes, or 30 minutes, or three hours. It doesn’t really matter because those are elements that we hit and we can expand or contract them based on the length of time that we have.
Michael Port: So number one, we need a big idea. We need a big idea. And a big idea doesn’t need to be different to make a difference, but it needs to be true for the people in the room, and it needs to be relevant for the people in the room, and interesting to the people in the room. So, what’s a big idea? Well, if I think about a Duct Tape Marketing. To me, Duct Tape Marketing is a big idea because … and I’m not an expert in Duct Tape Marketing, but I know the brand from seeing it out in the world. And I would say this, and you could tell me if I nailed this or if I’m off. I would say that this: most marketing education, seems to me, focused primarily on tactics, but tactics that are ad hoc, often disparate. And what happens is the entrepreneur is fed so many different lines of thinking that they don’t know what to do with it all because there’s no context around it. But what you’ve done with Duct Tape Marketing is you’ve created a system so that any entrepreneur can plug that system into their process, and then they have a repeatable system for booking more business. So, you’ve taken a very systematic approach to it. To me, that’s a big idea. Did I get that? Am I right?
John Jantsch: Of course. I mean, you just wrote my brochure.
Michael Port: Perfect. So, that’s a big idea, and that’s something that people will resonate with. They’ll go, “Yeah, man, I really, I just read a marketing book and it just was idea after idea after idea, I don’t even know what to do with these things. And then this guy’s saying, well no, there’s a systematic approach to it.” So, if you’re somebody who likes organization and structure and order, well now you’ve got something that you can really, really hold on to and use for the rest of your life, your career.
Michael Port: So, that’s a big idea. Then there’s a promise. Each speech has some sort of promise. Each presentation has a promise. So. What’s the promise that you’re making to the people in the room? Because the big idea is a way of seeing the world that if they adopt, will be one of the reasons they’re able to achieve the promise. And so in order for them to get this promise, they got to buy into the big idea. And our job is to demonstrate that this big idea is something that’s relevant to them, it’s interesting to them, and will produce return for them. So, if the promise is, “Well, you’re going to have more clients than your heart desires. You’re going to have as much business as you could possibly handle.” Well, that’s a promise that I think most entrepreneurs that you work with, they want … if someone can make them that promise, they say, “This fantastic. That’s what I want.” So people … if they listen to your presentation, and they buy into the big idea, and they go and implement it, that’s what should happen. So, that’s pretty straightforward.
Michael Port: Now, there are three more elements. Element number three is being able to demonstrate that you understand the way the world looks to the people in the room.
John Jantsch: I’m going to interrupt you. I thought you were going to tell me, but you have to buy the book to get the three adenoids, so …
Michael Port: That’s funny. No, that’s exactly the problem with most speeches is they don’t actually deliver. They just say, here’s a little tease and then that’s it. But I think if you say you’re going to do something you have to do it. It’s one of the things we see happens in speeches. They’ll say, “Okay, so there are five elements to, X, Y and Z.” Then they do three and they go, “Oh shucks, I only had time for three. Too bad. But you know what? In the back of the room you can buy …” And that’s not how Duct Tape Marketing folks do business.
Michael Port: So, the third element is being able to demonstrate that you understand the way the world looks to the people in the room. Because when you have the platform and you’re an expert, it’s the … you’re asking them often provocative questions and you’re sometimes asking them to challenge themselves to do things differently, which means they’ve got to do some work. And some of that work may be uncomfortable, either because it’s time consuming or because it means they have to change something. And if they distance themselves from you because they don’t think you understand them, even if your big idea is interesting and relevant to them, and even if the promise that you’re making is something that they want, they may opt to say, “You know what? He doesn’t really get me or she doesn’t really understand me and my business is different. Whatever they’re talking about, I mean, it probably works, but it’s not really for me.” And then they can get out of doing that work. But if they feel that you’re just knocking one pin down after another, where they say, “Oh my god. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me,” then they see that you really understand the way the world looks to them and they’re more likely to listen to you.
Michael Port: The fourth element is being able to demonstrate, illustrate, articulate the consequences of not adopting the big idea, the consequences of not fulfilling this promise. And often, as you know, people are more motivated to move forward when they’re trying to move away from something, something that hurts. You’re going to move your hand away from fire much more quickly then you’ll pull it out of just sort of lukewarm water. So, we want to make sure that we don’t skip over those consequences because we think that they already know what they are. We want to stoke the fire there. We want to push the buttons a little bit more.
Michael Port: And then the fifth element is being able to demonstrate, illustrate, articulate the rewards of adopting this worldview, seeing the world differently, adopting this big idea, achieving this promise, because that’s where they want to go. So, there are, of course, financial rewards, there are spiritual rewards, there are physical rewards, there are emotional rewards. And if you know your audience really well, then you’ll know which rewards are most exciting to them that are going to get them the most stimulated.
Michael Port: Now, with that said, then the next question is, “Well, you did all of this, they love it. How do you move the conversation forward? How do you continue it?” And there are certainly lots of different ways to do it, but when I was doing those kinds of speeches earlier on in my career, I didn’t like the idea of making any kind of hard sell, because at that point, I wasn’t well known. It’s very different when you walk into a room and they already know you, they’ve already read your books. It’s a very different dynamic. If Oprah walks into a room and says, “Listen, lie down on the floor and act like bacon,” you’d be like, “Alright, sounds like a great idea.” But you know Oprah and you trust her and you think, “Well, she’s asking me to do this for a good reason.”
Michael Port: But if the people in the audience don’t know you, well, do you have enough trust to make sales offers? Because it seems to me that sales offers should be proportionate to the amount of trust that we’ve earned. And so I, when giving a short presentation, 20 minute presentation to say, a Chamber in 2003 when nobody knew who I was, I didn’t feel comfortable saying, “Okay, great. Now, you’ve got to hire me.” So, what I did instead was say, “Listen, every week I do this thing,” and I had a name for it, “and each week I would bring a different topic that relates to you, and the specific issues that you face on a regular basis. And then we, we address it, we discuss it, and it’s free and it always will be. And I don’t sell anything there. And if you love it, you’ll keep coming back. And if you can come next Monday, you’ll come. If not, you’ll come the following Monday, it’ll be there for you. And if you don’t like it, then you won’t come back again but didn’t cost you anything. And here’s how you can sign up for it.”
Michael Port: And that one strategy for me produced 85% of all business that I booked because, of course, once they’re into that environment, now you’re developing really deep relationships with them and they are starting to raise their hand and say, “Hey listen, I’d like to talk to you about working with you.” Because of course they know what you do, and if they think you have the solutions to their problems, they’re going to be looking at your offers. And if you’re in regular communication with them, then you’re continuing to nurture that relationship and make offers as is appropriate based on the amount of trust you’ve earned. So, the more trust you earn, the bigger the offers are that you can make. And so I did it in that form, because it made sense for me, given the kind of work that I did, but it doesn’t have to be in a weekly conference call or a weekly livestream. It could be something that you do one on one really, really simple just with an individual at a time, 20 minutes at a time. So- [crosstalk]
John Jantsch: And obviously that’s a bigger investment of time on your part. But I think it sends such a signal that you’re in this for the long haul. You’re not just trying to sell me something and be done. Obviously once I get to know you, I’m probably going to pay a lot more money, than I might have at that event. So, it- [crosstalk]
Michael Port: No, I mean, that’s exactly right. I mean, we’re always looking at the lifetime value of somebody that we serve. If you’re just a sort of a, like, “Okay, let me just try to get a quick thing here, quick thing there, quick thing there,” that’s one way of building a business, but it’s not particularly satisfying, at least to me longterm. And I don’t think it’s particularly meaningful to the people that we serve. And I think you make an extraordinarily important point because if you … if part of the reason that you’re on a platform presenting yourself is because you’re trying to demonstrate credibility and earn credibility and earn, I think, is really the operative word, we can’t just … we’re not entitled to credibility because of something we’ve done. We have to continue to earn it and every new person we meet, we’ve got to earn it again.
Michael Port: And as soon as we start to feel entitled to that attention or that credibility, that’s when we start, I think, just going down hill. So if I’ve got to earn it, I think it’s really important to people that we serve to see that you’re in it for the long haul, and that what you’re doing is going to be around for a long time to come. Because one of the ways that people infer credibility is by seeing your consistency. So, the more consistent you are, the more credible they will see you. And if what you produce consistently is something that will help them specifically, well that’s a pretty good match.
John Jantsch: Absolutely. So Michael, if I was out there thinking I want some help writing my speech, I want some help with the performance of that, I want some help on how to rehearse, tell us about Heroic Public Speaking and how you might be able to help us.
Michael Port: Well, thank you. I would love to. Look, heroicpublicspeaking.com has got tons of information. Heroicpublicspeaking.com has got lots of information and, of course, free tip sheets, resources, videos that you can watch. So, we try to do our best to give you a really clear picture of how we help. But we work with both corporations, and we work with individuals, and we have a 10,000 square foot facility here in New Jersey, in an adorable little town and we run really comprehensive training programs for individuals and for organizations both here on site and at their headquarters as well.
Michael Port: But the thing that I think is important to remember, is that every single person that we work with is unique, is an individual. And we do not work with the same people in the same way, which is one of the reasons that we put so much customization into our training programs, because we think that if you see somebody that we’ve worked with and you say, “Oh yeah, that’s a Heroic Public Speaking speaker,” then we failed. Each person should be unique and what you should see is the extraordinary work that speaker is doing. But most importantly, you should see transformation in the audience. But the craft itself should be transparent.
Michael Port: So, we do a lot of customization for the people we work with and we’ll work with people individually for those whom it’s appropriate. We have online courses, in person courses, short-term courses, longterm courses. We really try to serve the different types of people that we have dedicated ourselves to based on what is most appropriate for them in the timeframe that they have available to them.
John Jantsch: Well, and as somebody who has both watched you work and been been a student of your work. I mean, I think clearly, a lot of the growth that you’ve experienced at HPS has to … is really a telltale sign of the effectiveness of the work that you’ve done.
Michael Port: Thank you so much. We are very … our net promoter score is consistently above 90, and if people aren’t familiar with net promoter score, I’ll give you a framework. Bank of America … Well, so I’ll start with Apple. Apple is about a 65 and they’re a pretty popular company, and Bank of America is about a negative 27. So, you get the … you see the range there. But for us, what we’re most proud of is that 90% of the people that we serve come from referrals from other people that we serve. And that means a lot to us.
John Jantsch: And it’s just heroicpublicspeaking.com.
Michael Port: Correct.
John Jantsch: So, Michael, always great to catch up with you and hopefully we’ll see you sooner than later.
Michael Port: Thank you so much, my friend.