Public Speaking: BNI sixty-second commercial

May 9th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

stopwatchWhenever you are public speaking at a networking event, your greatest challenge will be getting people to pay attention.  While most will feign attention, very few actually listen intently.  Some will even whisper to one anther while you talk.

We’ve covered some power openers in this blog, but I think the most powerful method is to FORCE them to pay full attention.  How?  Make them DO something.  Here are some examples:

Home Inspector: Everybody take out a pen and piece of paper.  Write down the top three reasons you think you would need a home inspection . . . 

Eye doctor: Everybody stand up cover one eye and try to read the word on this card

Mortgage Broker: Everyone take a quick guess at how much a decrease of 1% can save you on a monthly mortgage of $200,000.  Write down your answer.

Acupuncturist: Everyone make a fist.  It’s very simple right?  How many muscles were activated in making that fist?  Write down your answer.

Attorney:  Everybody grab a pen and write down what you think is the biggest legal liability you are likely to face in your life.

Financial Planner:  Everybody fold your hands in front of you like this. Close your eyes and imagine what it would mean to your lifestyle to be completely debt free.

You get the idea – all these FORCE your audience to pay attention because it would be too conspicuous to whisper or zone while everyone else is following along.  In this particular way, adults are like Kindergarten children in that having them physically do something forces them to mentally focus.

Use this trick with your networking presentations and your BNI Commercials.  You will quickly recognize how easy it is to get everyone to focus on you.  They can’t give you referrals if they don’t understand what you do, and they can’t understand what you do when they are not listening.

Let us know how these techniques work for you and please share suggestions you may have.

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Public Speaking: Tip for Networkers – “I” vs. “You”

May 8th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

Here is a quick tip for those who do public speaking for networking:

After you’ve written your presentation do a search for the word “I” and a search for the word “you”.  The latter should appear far more than the former.  In reality, however, most presentations are “I”-centric. After all, it is how we grew up.  Children use the words “I” and “me” so often because they must.  Successful networkers reverse that model and continually speak about “you”.

Why? Other people are far more concerned with themselves than they are with you. Talk in terms of “them” and they will listen intently.

In addition, this tip for public speaking for networking lends itself nicely for developing marketing copy.

Give the word search a try, and you’ll find that your networking presentations capture and retain far more attention.

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Public Speaking: Life Goes On

May 7th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

At a networking meeting, a young woman was getting ready to do her 10-minute BNI presentation on her business. She had done her homework, and was well prepared.  Previously, she had confided in me that she dreaded public speaking, but knew it was a “necessary evil” if she wanted to grow her business through networking.

She had heard me doing a persuasion speech on sales, and she said she was going to apply that strategy to public speaking. This was the crux of the strategy:

Before the sales appointment, you must CARE enough to research your prospect, and prepare for questions and roadblocks. However, during your presentation, you must not feel you NEED this particular piece of business. You must know that life goes on either way. You must feel that you would like the business, but you will be fine either way. Sales guru Carl Harvey shared this philosophy with me, and it works. It frees you to simply relax, establish a relationship, and enjoy the process.  It makes you feel and appear more confident, and subtly communicate that you offer something they need. You also avoid looking like the desperate salesperson.

This woman applied that philosophy to her speech. She had, in essence, over prepared, but moments before she was on, she adopted an attitude that this presentation would neither make or break her; so she might as well have fun.

Her presentation exceeded even her own expectations. She was natural, funny, and on target.

What happened? The problem is that presenters get nervous because they care TOO MUCH about how they appear before their audiences. By “too much” I mean that the pressure actually hurts their natural ability to communicate.  It makes them shaky, stiff and monotone. Most presenters’ main roadblock is their own psychology. By adopting the attitude “this presentation will not really change my life in any significant way,” you mitigate the exaggerated pressure you have fabricated.

What a great application of a sales strategy to public speaking!

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Work Force Training Fund: Grant Money

May 6th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

CB035547Survival in this economy means having your team do more with less. Fewer financial resources, assets, and employees cannot be an excuse for lower productivity. Opportunity abounds for strong and lean companies in a weak economy.

How to get more with less? Invest in the skills of your team. Sales training for your sales force, presentation skills for your managers, team-building for your staff, etc.

Investing in touch times can be daunting. But for small businesses there is a MA Express Grant Program that will pay 1/2 of your training investment up to $15,000. It’s an easy three-page application that can be completed over your lunch break.

Click HERE to discover how

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Public Speaking: The Humor Factor II

May 5th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

dreamstime_5934385[1]One of the pillars of persuasion is LIKABILITY.  When your audience likes you, they will be much easier to persuade. Humor certainly enhances your likability.

After years of observing humor in speeches ranging from small networking events, to large weddings and even full-auditorium presentations, here is an invaluable generality:

The larger the audience, the easier it is to get a laugh.

Also, as counterintuitive as it may sound, the more formal the audience the easier to get a laugh. (I am not referring to a roaring laughter).

Next time you’re at a formal event with a large audience pay attention to how even a feeble attempt at humor tends to get a decent reaction from the audience.  You’ll also notice that if you are at a small networking event where you are all informal, if your comment isn’t really funny, nobody laughs.

I have my theories about why this is, but I would love to hear yours. In the end though, it’s important to observe this generality for yourself.  Why? Most speakers tend to skip the appropriate humor comments when planning a speech for a larger more formal group. Perhaps they do this for fear of looking foolish in the grand limelight. My hope is that the observation shared in this blog will encourage you to take advantage of the fact that this type of environment is ripe to enjoy your humor.

More on public speaking and humor

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Public Speaking: The Right Way to Use PowerPoint

May 4th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

dreamstime_3267878[1]It seems the majority of presenters love to use PowerPoint to help them with their presentations. As discussed in previous posts, PowerPoint is an easy crutch that enables the speaker to read directly off the slides, and it helps divert audience attention from the speaker to the screen. This can take the pressure off the presenter, as nobody is looking at him/her and there is no chance of forgetting anything (it’s all up there on the screen).

Oddly, the presenters who use this tactic don’t realize that they are giving the audience exactly what they don’t want – a boring presentation at which they are being read to. My first suggestion is to avoid PowerPoint entirely – if possible. Your audience will be refreshed and they will appreciate YOU!

That said, I’ve used Keynote (Mac’s version of PowerPoint) and it has added to the impact of my presentation. Here is why:

1) I never read anything off the screen (except for a quote).

2) I usually show a picture (stock or custom photography) that underscores a point I’ve made.

3) Embedding a SHORT and relevant video clip can really wow them.

4) A simple graph that makes a single point can clarify.

5) A relevant and humorous cartoon can add a nice touch to your presentation.

Audiences loathe seeing numbers and words on PowerPoint. They love to see pictures, graphs and quick videos.

Presenters love to see words and numbers on PowerPoint because it protects them from having to memorize and shields them from audience attention.

As a presenter, you need to make a mutually-exclusive choice. Do you do what is easiest for you or your audience?

More on public speaking and PowerPoint.

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Power of Persuasion: Lesson Learned

March 6th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

I remember speaking at one of my client’s kick off meetings, and on his Power Point Presentation he had this quote:

If you can’t get in front of the decision maker YOU SUCK!

I remember thinking that was harsh.  Being an expert in persuasion, I usually use a much softer approach than most traditional sales people.  It usually serves me very well.  BUT, in this instance, I learned a valuable lesson . . .

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Public Speaking: Seven Tips to Using a Mic

February 24th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

In many cases, if a mic is available, and you have over forty people in your audience, use the mic.

Darwin Ortiz, a world-class card shark, affirms that when performing his stunningly visual skills “it is more important to be heard than seen”.  This comment  is from a man who makes his living with a deck of cards.  I’m sure he’s performed in every type of situation, and his experience is that volume is essential.

Granted, some shy people will prefer not to be heard when speaking, but this will KILL your presentation. You will lose your audience.  It is much better to use a mic.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Nobody will focus on a talking statue.  Take the mic off the stand so you can move around.

2) Avoid crowding the mic.  Adjust the volume so that you can keep the mic at least a few inches from your mouth.

3) Ideal amplifier volume is the point at which you are speaking fully, without straining.

4) A hand-held mic has some advantages over headsets and lavalieres.  You can have the audience comment into it, you can move it a bit closer or farther from your mouth for effect.  The benefit to the headset or lavaliere is that you are hands free.  Typically, a cheaper headset will still project, but a cheaper lavaliere may have trouble picking up your voice.  Of course, the negative to a headset is that it blocks your face a bit.

5) If you are wearing or holding a mic before or after your presentation MAKE SURE TO MUTE or TURN OFF.  Embarrassing stories abound about people who forgot to mute their mics and had their private remarks broadcast to a large audience.  Do you remember this happened to former President Bush?

6) Be careful with signal.  If you’re receiver is at the other end of the room, it will work perfectly when there is no audience.  However, on your big day, the bodies of your attendees can impede the signal; so your voice will randomly cut out.  This happened to me with a quality system.  I was forced to dump the mic and naturally project to a group of 300 people.  Not effective.

7) Have a member in the back of the audience use thumbs up/thumbs down to indicate “raise the volume/lower the volume”.

There you have it in a nutshell. Seven tips to using a mic.

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Public Speaking: Speaking From the Heart

February 23rd, 2009 by Frank Damelio

vmun-words-from-the-heart1262548916We just discussed a story about a woman who lost her Power Point notes.  Right after writing that blog . . .

My wife and I were invited to a baptism.  The priest opened her sermon by announcing: “In all the excitement about the baptism, I forgot my notes for today’s talk; so I’ll have to just speak from the heart”.

As a public-speaking instructor, I would be inclined to say that’s not a good opener. I would have coached someone in that situation to say nothing and proceed from memory. But in this case it thoroughly worked in her favor. She created a little bit of tension; people sat a bit taller.  We all wondered how well she would handle the circumstances.

It helped that she was likeable and sincere.  I think everyone was silently rooting for her to do a great job.  She did.  Few things resonate more to an audience than “speaking from the heart”.  Also, without the crutch of notes, all of the other wonderful connecting strategies naturally flourish: eye contact, pausing to think, facial expressions, movement and inflection.

Once again, if you tend to overuse your notes or Power Point, take a chance and see how well you can connect with an audience by “speaking form the heart”.

Speaking from the Heart II

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Public Speaking: Don’t Use PowerPoint As A Crutch

February 20th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

What an epiphany!  

If you want to learn how to improve public speaking watch other speakers AND observe their audience while they speak.  Consider the faces of the audience members and look at their eyes.  What you will see most of the time is polite interest at best and boredom at worst.  On occasion you will see an engaged audience – what is the speaker doing (or not doing) to get that reaction? Take mental notes.

I watched a woman bore her audience with a Power Point presentation. BUT then, her computer quit. She had no hard copy; so she completed the presentation with NO aids.  This created some tension, which awoke the audience from their mental slumber.  Because she stopped reading from her slides, she connected with the audience.  Their faces changed from exhibiting apathy to shining with interest.  Even though her organization and smooth pace suffered a bit, her ability to connect more than compensated.

What can we learn from this?  PowerPoint is great to make a visually powerful POINT, but not to deliver an entire presentation.  A slightly bumpy presentation without the crutch of Power Point is far more effected that a smooth presentation with it.

What do you think?

Add impact to your presentation using PowerPoint.

Speaking from the heart  & speaking from the heart II

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