Archive for July, 2009

Public Speaking: To Be or Not To Be Introduced?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Question Man60-second tip.

Whenever you are guest presenting, always opt to be introduced by someone else, and make sure YOU write the intro. One reason is that it’s far better for a member of the group to get everyone’s attention. I’ve seen guest speakers who were not introduced just stand there for what seems an eternity while the group settles down. While this happens far more often at informal gatherings, it still severely diminishes your authority.

In most cases, though, the organization will have someone introduce you. Don’t wait until that day to give them a resume or copy off your website. Instead, write a short intro that highlights some of your great accomplishments. The intro is very important because it helps people decide if they are going to be listening or considering their to-do list for the rest of the day.

Unless you have a name like John Smith, write your name phonetically, and capitalize the stressed syllable. Mine is Frank Damelio (Dah-MILL-ee-oh).

In advance, send the person introducing you the written intro via email, AND take with you a copy in an envelope labeled “introduction”. In my experience, one in five people will forget to bring your intro to the event.

Remember to keep it pithy. If you have tons of accolades this could be challenging. Write them all down, then select your top three to five for the group you will address. If you’re new to the speaking field it can be a challenge to conjure enough to impress the audience. You can always build your intro credentials by doing some free speeches for big-name organizations or at conferences in your field of expertise.

If you want to see what my intro looks like, just email me here, and write “INTRO” in comments.

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Public Speaking: Project Confidence

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Of all public speaking tips, these may have the most universal appeal.

In Video Lesson One, we discovered how to veil the nerves caused by fear of public speaking: shaky hands, shaky voice, dry throat, and fear of freezing.

In this ten-minute video we will uncover the secrets of emulating confidence. There are some situations in which, no matter how well-prepared you are, you will feel the pressure. That’s okay because you now know how to veil the tell-tale signs of nerves (Lesson I); so you are ready to learn how to appear confident on the outside, even though you don’t feel that way on the inside.

Apply these five public speaking tips to projecting confidence, and you will shine. Nobody will detect the fear you may be experiencing. The beauty is, just by simply knowing these tips, you will actually begin to feel more confident from within. That’s a double bonus.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from this “how to overcome fear” training video. Please share it by clicking any of the icons below.

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Trade Show Strategy: Who Cares?

Monday, July 27th, 2009

shruggingThe little guy cares. In the hundreds of trade shows that I’ve attended, here is my general sense: the budding entrepreneur who invests anywhere from $300 at a chamber event to $10,000 at a national convention is going to work his booth.  He cares about converting leads to sales, and he acts like it. Usually he is excited to be there and welcoming attendees into his booth. He is engaging and follows up on all leads.

Conversely, the salespeople from big companies tend to view the process not as an opportunity, but rather “BOOTH DUTY”. They use that word all the time in phrases such as “Ohhh, I got BOOTH DUTY . . . hey Jay, when do we get out of here?”  A trade show is more of a sentence to serve than it is a privilege to network.

Granted, there are many exceptions to this, but nevertheless the generalization holds true.

Just walk down the aisle at your next national show to see how many salespeople are sitting, have their arms crossed, talking amongst themselves, on their cells, eating, or looking like the alive dead. You’ll notice these signs of “poor booth behavior” are less prevalent at a home show, where entrepreneurs are trying to build their business.

Why is this?

Human nature. People respond to incentives. Entrepreneurs know they are there to put money in their pockets, and it is easy for them to see the process: 1) stop traffic; 2) qualify leads; 3) follow-up; 4) make the sale. Sales reps at big companies don’t believe that trade shows will lead to direct benefit to them; therefore it is a duty.

If they believe there is no direct benefit, it is probably because, as things are, there isn’t. Bigger companies tend to have a more convoluted system that may include territories, longer sales cycles, sophisticated distribution etc. In addition, the show may be obligatory for branding but not so effective for sales prospects.

While the salespeople may have a hundred better things to do that day, the leadership of the company usually does care, just like the entrepreneur. But the CEO is usually too far removed to get involved, and so the show goes on to help branding and market presence, but sales? Not so much.

Any leader of a larger organization would cringe at the wasted sales opportunity. Marketing is important, but sales keeps the organization breathing.

What to do?

Here are three solutions:

1) Give those on “BOOTH DUTY” goals and rewards. Plus make it competitive with teams. Competition always fuels active participation and peer pressure to produce. Don’t be stingy with the rewards – how much money are you investing in exhibit, space, giveaways, opportunity cost of exhibit team, travel, food, entertainment, etc? Cash is king, gift certificates work well, or simply ask them what they want. Believe me, they’ll tell you.

2) Bring in a trade show trainer who understands techniques to stop traffic. A trainer will also show you how to qualify leads and get attendees to agree to an appointment or follow-up call.

3) Stop doing trade shows. If your show doesn’t generate a measurable ROI, and you don’t want to try the solutions above, consider saving thousands of dollars by dumping it, and invest a bit in inbound marketing for your sales people.  They’ll never see that as a “duty”.

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Hiring a Public Speaking Trainer: Top 5 Mistakes

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

dreamstime_10861117[1]There is no one best public speaking trainer, because groups vary in size, personality, culture and needs. The challenge is to select the best trainer to connect with your team. Here are the five most damaging mistakes people make when choosing a trainer.

5) Not customizing the training program. Don’t just accept the provider’s one-size-fits-all program. While there are many common denominators in the realm of public speaking, there are also big differences between what would benefit a group of HR professionals vs. your sales force. Unless your company is cookie-cutter, do not accept a cookie-cutter program.

4) Lowest bidder. Sometimes you can strike oil by going with the lowest bidder, but in most cases you get what you pay for. Price should be an important factor, but don’t make it the only.

3) Not checking references. Some ask for references, but few follow-up. Assume that whomever the trainer offers as a reference will speak nicely about the service, but here is a good question to get a better sense: “what about trainer X makes her different and better than other trainers you’ve seen?”

2) Requesting training materials, then basing your decision on which seem the best. Here is the truth about most training: content is a commodity; delivery is everything. Books, magazines, internet blogs have almost infinite wisdom on public speaking. You need the right trainer to cull what fits your needs and present it in an inspiring way to your particular audience.

1) The most essential, yet least-followed advice: meet the trainer before your final decision. The brand and reputation of the training company are a far less important the one person who will present your training. If you can meet the prospective trainers, you will instantly know which one has what it takes to connect with your group. Some common requirements are confidence, personality, and enthusiasm. Depending on your audience you may or may not prefer funny, authoritative, conservative, flamboyant or serious.

A small investment up front will ensure that you select the best public speaking trainer for your group.

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Power of Persuasion: Reciprocity and Gift Giving

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Buy 2hr audio CD on persuasion HERE.

Buy 2hr audio download on persuasion HERE.

In his seminal book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D, names reciprocity as one of the six pillars of persuasion. In short, the law of reciprocity dictates that by giving, you will get far more than you gave.

Gift giving is a sure way to engage in the law of reciprocity, which is why the act of giving in business has been practiced since the beginning of civilization. Beware, however, that it is a double-edged sword. Here are some guidelines to ensure that you appease the Gods of Reciprocity:

Three don’ts regarding the law of reciprocity:

1) Avoid giving cheap trinkets with your company logo: A cheap pen with your logo that doesn’t write says a great deal to your prospect about YOUR standards of quality.  When the pen breaks or fails to work, you are cultivating a sort of reverse sense of reciprocity.

2) Avoid giving high-priced items with general appeal: While some recipients may feel quite beholden to you for your gift, it can be perceived by others as crossing the ethical line. In other cases, it could be considered an illegal kickback. I remember my college roommate’s mom was a nurse in the early nineties. She received a free high-end laptop from a pharmaceutical company. A physician once told me that the same company sent him on vacations. Currently, that industry is becoming highly regulated with respect to gift giving.

3) Avoid “strings attached” giving: People may take you up on your offer, but when you call it a gift, they subconsciously regret it. Have you ever received a thank you coupon from a retailer? It says “we appreciate your business, so come in for your FREE gift __________”.  But, the tiny print on the back says “Free with the purchase of $100 or more”. Yes, the company is technically covered, but do you ever get that sense of reverse reciprocation?

Five applications of reciprocation that will get results:

1) Invitation to share time: If you really want to give a sincere gift, offer lunch, dinner, golf, boating, BBQ, anything where you will share time with the person. Keith Ferrazzi in his bestseller, Never Eat Alone talks about adding food to the mix because it creates a much more pleasant experience and memory for the person.

2) Reading or viewing materials: What interests the person you wish to gift? Finding out is so simple with google, facebook, twitter, myspace, linked in, or simply by asking the person. Once you know, it is a simple matter to send an article. Mailing it is more impressive than sending a link because it requires more labor and it can have a hand-written card or post-it attached. Jason Kallio, founder of Expovantage is a master networker. One of his tricks is to scan the news every morning and select which articles will be of interest to his contacts. His results are amazing. Books and DVDs are excellent ways to give a sincere and personalized gift.

3) Birthday Cards: Most people will never remember that you sent them a holiday card, but they will certainly remember a birthday card.

4) Links: What a great gift to give any networker. If your person has his or her own website, and the content is somewhat related to yours, providing a link is a great gift. You are helping them gain exposure and putting them in a positive light.

5) Give value not teasers: A great gift to give is your expertise. I vehemently disagree with those who say you devalue what you do when you give even a taste of it away. Even worse: “give them the why, and make them come to you for the how.” I am talking about gifting a bit of your expertise. A “bit” is a bit subjective. I say, more than a sample, but less than an appetizer, and not the full meal. It should be simple for you to do, but have stand-alone, intrinsic, walkaway value for them.

It is easy to note a common denominator regarding what works and what does not. It appears the techniques that work require some thoughtfulness. That’s why they don’t smack of insincerity. You have to be interested in the person, and most “slick” salespeople aren’t going to make the effort. The gifts that typically backfire appear to require less thought, as they have a more general appeal, or they are cheap tokens, or they have a transparent “ulterior” motive.

Keep in mind that I am employing the law of reciprocity to INDIVIDUAL relationships; not mass market. As per usual, I remind you that these are guidelines and not rules. There are always exceptions.

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Public Speaking: The Rule of Three

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

rule of 3My college roommate, Sean Cusick, was an English major, and he enlightened me about the rule of three. Your writing will have more impact when you use three nouns, adjectives or adverbs together. For example, it is more compelling to say, “this course will give you the skills, confidence and motivation to catapult your speaking career,” rather than saying “this course will give you the skills and confidence to catapult your speaking career.”

Little did I know, however, that I was only scratching the surface with respect to this amazing rule of three in public speaking. Here is a fascinating, in-depth look at the RULE OF THREE by Andrew Dlugan and how to apply it. Enjoy!

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Public Speaking: Speaking from the Heart II

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

73976251This is the second time I’ve witnessed a speaker ditch the notes and speak from the heart. Once again, it was a huge success.

In a previous public speaking blog entry, I recounted how a presenter’s computer quit, and she was forced to complete the rest of her presentation without her Powerpoint notes.  It proved to be the best thing that happened to her, as she recaptured and maintained the audience’s attention.

Recently, I witnessed a best-man toast.  As is typical, he unfolded a piece of paper and began reading – boring. After a few sentences, he paused, looked up at the guests and said, “I’m going to just speak from the heart, how about that?” The audience applauded, he folded the paper, and placed it in his pocket. There was a small pause, and you could feel how every person was eagerly anticipating his next words.

He went on to speak in a conversational tone about the groom. He earned a ton of laughs and many “aawwws” from the guests. His speech moved everyone in attendance. It was one of the best I’ve seen, and I know he wouldn’t have had nearly that reaction had he simply read his notes.

Once again, case-in-point, when you choose to “talk with” instead of “read to” an audience, you will make a connection, and they will remember you and your message. You might think that it’s a daunting task not to read from your slides and notes, but the beauty is that your audience gives you tons of leeway when you are speaking from the heart. They will simply like you more, and likeability is one of the six pillars of persuasion.

Clearly, when you are giving a training or a much longer presentation, you may need to refer to your notes or slides to make sure you are on track. That’s okay, as long as you are using them as a guide, and not for the verbiage of the presentation itself.

Nothing will endear your audience more than speaking from the heart.

For training on public speaking see our programs here.

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Public Speaking: 19 Deadly Delivery Mistakes

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

lecternPublic speaking can be the most daunting task because we make it so. No doubt you’ve heard that according to surveys, most people are more afraid of public speaking than death. Of course the major reason is that we are concerned about how others will perceive us.

The truth is that when we engage in public speaking we shape many people’s perceptions about us in a very short time. In many instances, perception dictates reality; so it is important for us to shine in the spotlight.

When people say they are afraid of public speaking, usually they are talking about their delivery more than their content. Clearly both are important, but most people feel in control when it comes to mastering their content for a presentation. They are more worried about how they will appear before their audience.  In the realm of public speaking, we call this delivery. In our public speaking blog we’ve covered much material on this topic. Here is a summary of 19 delivery mistakes:


1. Standing right next to the person introducing you. Instead, wait far off to the side.

2. Walking too fast to center stage/floor. Instead, a moderate pace will transmit authority and confidence.

3. Launching immediately into your presentation. Instead, pause a moment and scan your audience and then deliver your power opener.

4. Not shaking the person’s hand who introduced you.

5. Not publicly thanking the person who introduced you.

6. Not smiling, but don’t force it either. The only thing worse than a somber face is the fake public speaking “chucky” smile.

7. Standing in one spot during your entire presentation.

8. Pacing is worse than standing in one spot. A quick tip on effective movement: give 1/3 of the presentation to the center, 1/3 to the left and 1/3 to the right. Always start and finish center.

9. Standing behind the lectern is deadly. GET OUT OF THERE.

10. Reading off slides is probably the #1 way to turn off your audience. Most public speakers do it.

11. Monotone voice is a cure for insomnia. Instead, record your presentation to ensure you’re injecting enthusiasm.

12. Filler is killer. “Umms”, “ahhs” and “like” will destroy your impact not only in public speaking, but also in one-on-one communication. Instead use the pause.

13. Talking too fast. People can’t process as fast as you can talk. It makes you appear not only nervous but lacking authority as well.

14. Poor eye contact is a major challenge with most public speakers.

15. Speaking softly. If you want to aggravate your audience make them strain to hear you.

16. Petrified body. A talking statue amuses nobody. Catch yourself talking to friends.  What does your body language look like? That’s what your audience wants to see.

17. Petrified face. The audience’s face mirrors yours. If you speak with a frozen countenance, you’ll be looking into a sea of expressionless faces. When you tell a story to a friend, your facial expressions accent the words. Do the same when public speaking.

18. Awkward close. Remember nerves spike at the beginning and end. I’ve seen great public speakers fumble to close. Remember your closing rote.

19. Being too conservative. Unless you’re presenting to the board at a stodgy bank, put some fun into your presentation. Most presentations are painful to endure. A dash of sugar will make them love you.

If you avoid these 19 common delivery mistakes, your audience won’t care whether you are nervous because they will like you and appreciate that you gave them an experience instead of a boring book report. You will shine in comparison to the public speakers who precede and follow you, because it’s almost guaranteed that these other presenters fall victim to most of the 19 deadly delivery mistakes.

There you have it! Now pounce on your fear of presenting, and use these delivery skills to enjoy the art of public speaking.

Learn more about our public speaking training program here.

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Public Speaking: Dead Time Kills Your Presentation

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

DeadTreeLast week, I presented magic at the historic Vienna. I started entertaining a few people, but in ten minutes I was completely surrounded, and the room was packed. Then, I looked for my Sharpie marker, which I needed for my next effect. I realized it was in my bag sitting about ten feet away; so I wended my way through the crowd, fished for my marker, and finally handed it to the spectator. This took about twenty seconds. But, when I launched back into my presentation, the crowd had dissipated, and small conversations were flourishing. Now I needed to WORK HARD at rebuilding my crowd and recapturing attention. In short, I had to revive my presentation from the dead.

Shame on me! I teach executives and managers that they must have everything they need at their fingertips BEFORE beginning a presentation. Why?  Because DEAD TIME KILLS. It devours your effectiveness because without the audience’s rapt attention, you are wasting your time and theirs.

What I witnessed physically at a magic performance (people talking and walking) is a caricature of what happens in a business presentation. While it is unlikely that your audience will bolt for the door or launch into small private chats at your presentation, people will “check out” mentally, and they will launch into internal dialogue about something more important or more amusing than you.  It’s that simple.

The solution is simple as well:

1) While rehearsing make a checklist of everything you need, use, or refer to.

2) Setup: on the big day, go through your checklist and physically touch every item you need.

3) Handouts: have them at each seat before you begin. If this is not possible, have somebody else deliver the handouts for you while you continue to present.

4) Index cards: If you rely on index cards for notes, be sure to number them to avoid excessive fumbling should you drop them.  If you rely on powerpoint for notes see here.

5) Do you refer to a manual, text or report? Use Post-it notes as book marks. Flipping around for even five seconds creates enough dead-time to start the bleeding.

6) Avoid or limit conversation that is administrative and directed at only one person. For example, you are presenting on a new accounting policy, and your tech guru asks about systems integration. Even though this is not technically dead time, the conversation acts as white noise for everyone else in the room who is far removed from these details. Unless the issue is urgent, use this response: “excellent question, and you and I need to discuss it in detail after this presentation. Thanks for bringing it up Jim.”

7) Be very aware of any time that ticks where nothing is happening, and understand that it is causing a slow drain of your audience’s attention.

Please do not confuse dead time with the power of the pause. A purposeful pause drastically increases your effectiveness. I’m talking about me fumbling for my Sharpie or you flipping through your 10-Q report trying to find the change in retained earnings while your boss begins to daydream about whether it’s chicken fajita or tuna salad for lunch.  Personally, I’d take the chicken fajita with ranch dressing.

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Public Speaking: High-Pressure Presentations

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

dreamstime_6172094[1]Here is a novel tip for anyone preparing for public speaking in a high-pressure situation. What makes it high-pressure? Simply that you think it to be so, and you know that no matter how much you prepare, your adrenaline will still be pumping on the big day.

Using the techniques previously discussed in our blog regarding nerves and confidence will certainly help, and if you want to go that extra mile, do this:

Immediately prior to rehearsing your presentation, do some cardio activity (pushups, treadmill, jog in place, jump rope, etc). Avoid going overboard and getting out-of-breath, but do get your heart rate up and even break a little sweat. This will emulate how adrenaline from nerves can affect you. Now launch into your rehearsal. This overcomes one major problem with rehearsing – you don’t feel the same sense of urgency as you do when presenting to your audience. Now your rehearsal is giving you a very similar experience to the real thing, enabling you to master your presentation.

Other tips:

1) Use your imagination. Don’t just stand up and start.  Sit down, and wait to hear (in your mind) your name announced. Imagine the applause, walk to the center, visualize looking at the audience, and go.

2) As much as possible, rehearse the presentation with your eyes closed, visualizing the audience before you.

3) Video record your rehearsal.  You’ll be amazed at how good you really look, and you’ll find some areas for improvement.  It adds even more value to have someone else analyze your video.

By using these techniques prior to your high-pressure presentation, you will gain a “been there, done that” feeling, which is what rehearsal is all about. Always keep in mind though, that unless the presentation is life or death, you are the one manufacturing the pressure.

Try this tip and let us know how it works for you.

Below is a previous video I posed to Youtube on nixing the nerves:

Learn more about our public speaking training program here.

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