Archive for the ‘Public Speaking’ Category

Public Speaking: 5 Tips on Handling Hecklers

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Are you intimidated by hostile audiences? Public speaking can be daunting enough, but when you are faced with a tough or hostile audience, it can be petrifying.  Below are some techniques to set the battlefield in your favor.  By employing these, you will gain the upper ground and successfully stave off much of the attack.

1) Stop the attack before it starts.  

If you are afraid of being knocked off track with difficult questions, avoid them up front by saying: “I have 30 minutes with you, and I will keep within that time.  During the presentation I’ll probably answer many of the questions you have, so please make a mental note of questions and save them until the end.  I’ve budgeted 10 minutes at the end; so we can address them.”

2) Don’t give them a chance to pre-empt you.

If you have handouts, wait until your presentation is over to distribute them; otherwise people will read ahead, find mistakes and formulate tougher questions.

3) Stop the monopolizer before he starts.

At the beginning of Q&A say, “we have 10 minutes for all Q&A and I want to make sure that everyone who has a question gets a chance, who would like to go first?” If nobody raises their hand, you start things off by saying, “A question I’m often asked is . . .”

4) No dead time.

Moving briskly and purposefully is a magician’s trick to keep the questioners quiet.  When you are on course and in control, it feels awkward for the heckler to chime in.  Once there is a break in your flow, he’ll jump right in.

5) Give them no fuel to attack by being likeable.

Be there early and greet attendees as they arrive.  Chat with them and make it personal.

Look and act confidently but speak humbly.

Mention in the beginning that you will be sure to keep within your allocated time: “I have thirty minutes to update you, and I’ll be sure to stay within that time period.” They can’t help but to like that.

If you feel you know less than your audience and you are going to be fielding many tough questions: “I may not have all the answers, but I’ll tap into our experts in the audience during Q&A.”

Caveat: Many times you want open discussion and probing questions.  This vlog is not about fostering that environment.  On the contrary it is for those who seek to avoid a challenging or hostile environment.  Not all techniques are universally applicable.  Use your judgment.

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Public Speaking: Special Delivery

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

theater 2Recently, I attended one of the famous Highland March Professional Development Series featuring master networker Jason Kallio, President of ExpoVantage.  Did he have great content?  Yes. Was he prepared and organized? Yes. But that’s only part of the reason he won the crowd.  He was funny, entertaining, and engaging.  He made us laugh and he talked with us, not at us.  He was in the moment and built on the comments that people shared.

As a public speaking expert, anytime I’m in the audience, I spend up to half the time looking at the audience to see how effective the presenter is.  The answer lies in their focus.  If their eyes are glued to the presenter, that’s great; otherwise there is a problem.  All eyes were glued to Jason throughout the entire presentation.  I have seen other prepared, organized, and structured presenters in that same room lose the audience.  Why the difference?  Content is a commodity; delivery is everything.

Jason is also a professional magician; so he adheres to the philosophy that every presentation is a performance. He realizes that excellent content that is well prepared is NOT enough to earn the audience’s attention.  Great content must be delivered in a performance.  Here are some of the reasons people loved him:

1) He opened with a magic trick that conveyed a major point about networking.

2) He invited participation and wove that participation into his presentation.

3) He was very much in the “here and now”.  He used appropriate humor to respond to audience remarks, and got to know the members of his audience as he went along.

4) He spoke to each member individually, focusing his eye contact on one person at a time instead of doing the common superficial scanning.

5) He was excited because he knew he had prepared for a performance, rather than a presentation.

After watching and analyzing thousands of presentations, here is something I’ve learned: presenters who think their only responsibility is to disseminate information are usually painfully boring – irrespective of their content. Presenters who understand that their presentation is a performance usually win the crowd.

Make your presentation a performance by avoiding these 19 deadly delivery mistakes.

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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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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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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:

AVOID

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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