Public Speaking: Tip for Networkers – Forgettable vs. Memorable

January 14th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

Here is a quick tip for those who network and engage in public speaking:

In many networking situations you have the opportunity to stand up, introduce yourself and communicate what you do.  Let’s take a typical group of 30 networkers in the room and assume that they do not know one another.  Here is the likely scenario:  About five members of the audience will diligently take notes, another ten will listen pretty intently, and the rest will be thinking about what they are going to say when it’s their turn.

This means that you have an opportunity to be memorable to an audience of fifteen.  Since these people will likely leave with your card in hand, it is vital that they can match up the name on the card with your face.

Here is the biggest mistake even excellent public speakers make when networking:

AS they are standing up, they begin one long sentence that sounds something like this: Goodmorning I’mFrankDameliofromTargetIntellect and I help people . . . 

The problem: even the notetakers have a hard time picking up your name and company.  I see it happen all the time – people whisper “what did he say his name was?”

The solution: stand up, pause a moment, say “good morning” and pause.  Sometimes nobody will answer, in which case you say it again with a smile and pause.  The pause will cause everyone to look at your face. 

Now that they are looking at your face, say your name and company a bit more slowly and more articulately than you normally would. “My name is FRANK DAMELIO and my company is TARGET INTELLECT.

Implementing these subtle changes will instantly move you from forgettable to memorable.

Next time you have the opportunity to watch people public speaking in a networking scenario, take note of how many squander the opportunity to have others hear and internalize their name and company.

Share your examples of either strong or weak openers right here . . .

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Public Speaking: Low Volume = You Lose

January 12th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

dreamstime_1082642In a previous post, I suggested that if you wish to assess a speaker’s effectiveness just look at the audience.  In particular where are they looking?

Recently, I attended to a Rotary Club meeting as a guest speaker.  Afterwards, one of the officers was talking up a charity event and various ways members could help.  His volume was very low.  He had a great message, but when I looked around the room, most people weren’t looking at him.  I suspect that a majority of them were probably not listening.  Of course, this very likely hindered the resulting volunteerism for the cause.

It is a mistake for us to assume that because people belong to our organization and because our cause is good, they will GIVE us their attention.  The truth is the only thing they will give us is POLITENESS.  In most cases, we can and should count on that.  However, even if we are on their team, speaking for our shared causes, we must EARN their attention.

While there are many ways to earn attention, there is one brilliant way to kill it.  Here is the simple formula: Low volume = You lose.  Does that seem harsh?  Observe for yourself.  The next time you can hardly hear the speaker look around the room.  After a few minutes of straining, most people simply give up and listen to their own thoughts about something else.  Those who NEED to hear the message will continue to strain, but they will be silently annoyed at the speaker.

I understand that sometimes people are self-conscious when they speak, but if they truly understood that their soft volume was boring or annoying their audience, I think many would choose to speak up.

Granted, speakers sometimes argue . . . “I don’t want to be TOO loud”.  That’s fair.  But keep in mind, in my experience only about 2% of speakers are too loud, compared to about 40% who speak too softly.

Finally, lowering your volume to make a special point can be very effective, because the change in volume will attract attention.  Just avoid staying there too long.

What do you think?  Have you noticed the same challenge with most speakers?  We encourage you to share.  Also, feel free to post any question about public speaking.

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Public Speaking: Distractions

January 9th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

iStock_RaisedHandsSmallI just did a presentation at the Boston Garden, home to the Celtics and Bruins.  We were in the executive suite well before the game began.  In the middle of my presentation, the organ music began spewing it’s peppy tunes.  OUCH!

What to do with distractions while you present?

Here is a trick that teachers use for preschool and elementary education.  It is also a neat technique that I used when I performed kids birthday parties.  It is equally effective for corporate audiences. Ask any question that will have about a 50/50 yes/no response and ask the people who said “yes” to raise their hands and keep them up so we can tally.  Here is a sample question I asked: “how many of you belong to a professional association?  Keep your hands up so I can tally.”  I was talking about the value of association memberships from a networking perspective; so the question I conjured fit right it.

I know this sounds super-simple, but it immediately brings EVERYONE back to focus.  While you need to avoid over-using it, you can get away with tossing out a “tally” question every 10-15 minutes.  This technique is almost unmatched in its power to pull them back to you.

Go forth and use your new-found power only for good!

What tricks do you have to reel them back in?  Please share!

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Public Speaking: Join a Networking Group

January 8th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

Networking-PhotoDid you know that the most challenging part of your presentation is the first minute?  Research shows that nerves spike the highest in the first minute followed by a steady calming until the wrap-up, at which point nerves spike again.

Even if you are not an entrepreneur or networker, if you want to truly improve your comfort level with public speaking, join a networking group.  Why?  In a typical BNI (Business Network International) you will have to do a sixty-second presentation about your business every meeting.

While it sounds easy, keep in mind that the first minute is really the most challenging part of any presentation.  By doing a formal one-minute presentation at every meeting, you are continually honing your skills in that one most challenging area.

If you’re not sold on this idea yet . . . wait!  Perhaps of equal value, you will learn by watching.  It is amazing how many people are not really listening to the presenter.  Only the great presenters capture the attention of the majority.  How do you know who these “great presenters” are?  Watch the eyes of the audience while each speaker presents.  On the rare occasion that you see everyone in rapt attention, take note of what qualities that presenter exhibits.  You’ll likely see: 1) strong voice projection 2) enthusiasm 3) purposeful movement 4) powerful pauses 5) moving and relevant stories 6) relevant humor 7) eye contact with one person at a time rather than scanning . . . and much more.

There you have it, networking not only helps you make valuable connections, it also sharpens your skill in facing that first minute in any presentation.

We’d love to hear any tips you have on public speaking for networkers.

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Public Speaking: Networking + Business Cards = More ROI

January 7th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

Here is a tip for networkers to maximize their time investment in public speaking.

After presenting to a group about your expertise, each member of your audience should have your business card and you should have theirs.  How do you accomplish this?

1. Provide a hand out that bullets the main points of your presentation.  Use a paperclip or a dab of re-stickable glue to attach your business card.

2. Do a drawing that requires collection of their business card.  The prize should relate to your topic: best to give away your own product; or if you don’t sell your own, buy a book about your topic.  This will ensure that you’re not collecting junk contacts for your database.  Most of the people who enter the drawing will have an interest in your topic.  Tip: have blank business-card size pieces of paper for the people who “forgot” their business cards.

Upon arrival to the office, immediately enter the cards into your database and email each person a thank you for attending PLUS at least one of the following: 1) join me on Linked in; 2) sign up for my blog updates; 3) sign up for our newsletter; 4) you are invited to our next presentation.  The important point is to have a call to action.

Networkers understand that public speaking opportunities are an inexpensive way to reach out to many people in one shot.  What many do not realize is that if you don’t walk away with a stack of contacts that have an interest in your area of expertise, and if you don’t immediately take action, then much of your time investment is squandered.

There you have it, one tip that will more than double your ROI when using public speaking to network.

What other tricks of the trade have you seen successfully employed?  Please share.

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Public Speaking: Exceptional Presentation Closer

January 5th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

We usually talk about the importance of the first impression, but let’s remember that the last impression is . . .well . . .lasting.   I recall seeing a phenomenal 10-minute presentation at a local BNI.  The presenter was a great public speaker and had us wanting to know more.  I was truly surprised when he ended his excellent presentation with the dreaded “and . . . that’s about it”.  Wow! How many people do that?  Just pay attention to the closers you hear in the coming weeks and I think you’ll be surprised.

 Why does this happen?  Research shows that nerves spike highest seconds before you’re on, the first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds.  People feel very uncomfortable closing their presentations.  There is no magic secret here; it’s simple preparation.  Use one of the  power-opener techniques for a power close and, if appropriate, add a call to action.  Here is an example from a sales presentation on financial planning:

 “Getting from point A to point B won’t happen by chance.  This simple process of defining, paying yourself first and assessing ensures that you have the best opportunity to reach your retirement goals.  Please raise your hand if you see the value of beginning your own three-step plan today.  (Count them by pointing). Excellent, then I’d ask each of you to fill out the forms in your booklet now and then to see one of us so that we may help you get started.”

What exceptional closers have you heard?  Please share.

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Public Speaking: Presenting to Executives – Top Five Tips

December 13th, 2008 by Frank Damelio

While basic public speaking skills are usually relevant, there are some special circumstances that apply when presenting to executives, especially if you are not a fellow executive.

The circumstances:  Executives typically have less time for “filler”.  They will appreciate a direct approach.  Executives are much more likely to interrupt you with questions, instead of listening until you’ve completed your presentation.  Stakes: If you are not typically before a group of executives, they will tend to make a quick judgement about your ability to do your job based on your ability to present before them.  Unfair, but true.  Pressure: Understandably, most people battle the nerves a bit more when presenting to executives.

Five Great Tips:

1) Work on your PACE:  NO DEAD TIME. This is a magicians trick.  As a sleight-of-hand expert, I can tell you that amateur magicians almost always get caught because of pacing.  Why? A pro presents at a natural pace where there is NO DEAD TIME.  Thus, it is rare to get an interruption such as “let me see the other hand” or “can I check what’s in the card box before we start?”.  An amateur’s pace has moments of dead time where the heckler will jump right in and through the presenter off kilter.  This is exactly the cause and effect when you present to executives.  If you are confident and brisk (not rushing, but owning every moment) you are likely to face much less interruptions that through you off track.  The only way to do this is to prepare and have everything you need at your fingertips.

2) Simplify: This may sound counterintuitive, but most executives don’t care about the details; they want the bottom line.  However, bring supporting data that you can refer to should they ask for the details.  This will make you shine when they question, “where did you get the $2.9mm figure?” and you have a handout showing its breakdown.  Even if you don’t use this extra information, you’ll feel confident that you have all bases covered.  Some use the strategy of a question hook, where you present a fact that will naturally lead to a question; and when questioned you have the supporting information at hand.

3) Time:  If they give you a time allocation, tell them after your power opener: “You’ve given me 15 minutes to cover . . . and I’ll keep it to that.  I’ve budgeted a little time at the end for discussion as well”.  In some cases I advocate telling the audience, “I’ll answer many of your questions in the presentation; so please note yours for the end.”  However when speaking to executives, a good tip is to avoid that strategy because of the power structure.  By saying you’ve budgeted a little time at the end for discussion, you provide a subtle suggestion that they wait until the end to ask questions.  Also, they will be grateful that you are aware of your time frame and intend to stay within it.  Few things annoy executives more than a protracted presentation that goes well beyond allocated time.

4) Eye contact: Okay, nothing new here, BUT . . . you will set yourself head and shoulders above your peers when you have a conversation directly with the executives.  This is to say, look directly at the CEO, make a point to her, then move on to the next person and act as if you were telling him something directly.  In this way, you are having a bunch of mini conversations.  It is likely that your peers will never do this.  They’ll make eye contact with everybody at the same time by scanning, yet they will connect with nobody.  This is your chance to distinguish yourself.

5) Visualize and Rehearse: Rehearsing comes after practicing.  Rehearsing means you give your presentation with your eyes closed, visualizing the room and audience.  If you make a mistake, you keep going, there is no second chance, just do what you would do were you public speaking for real.  Once you’ve done this a number of times, when the big day comes, you will have the “been there done that” feeling.  The executives will certainly notice your preparedness.

There you have it – Top Five Tips for Public Speaking to Executives.  But we know there are many more.  If you are an executive, would you please share the qualities you look for?  If you are not an executive but present to them, please share your stories and tips.  Your participation will be greatly appreciated.

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Power of Persuasion: Thank You Notes

December 11th, 2008 by Frank Damelio

dreamstime_7536653Here is a great blog about the power of thank you notes. Enjoy and benefit!

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Public Speaking: Entrepreneurs – Top 5 Tips

December 11th, 2008 by Frank Damelio

It’s cheap and delivers results!  Many entrepreneurs don’t have budget for radio, TV and print advertising; so they invest in networking.  There are tons of great networking organizations that are affordable and effective.  Everything comes at a price, though, and in this case – networking consumes a great deal of time.

How do you ensure you get a good ROI?  Take every opportunity to present before networking and civic organizations such as Chamber of Commerce, BNI (Business Network International), Lyons Clubs, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc.

Public speaking alone, however, is not enough to ensure results.  Entrepreneurs need to have strong presentation skills.  Here’s why: When an entrepreneur speaks publicly, the audience assumes a relationship between the speaker’s ability to deliver a great product/service and his ability to deliver a presentation with confidence.  Many in the audience assume that if the presenter does not speak with confidence, he may not be competent in his core expertise. Conversely, if an entrepreneur speaks to the audience’s challenges and aspirations, and he does so with confidence and enthusiasm, many will assume that he delivers not just great presentations, but also great products/services.  While this is an unfair assumption, we all know the power of perception.  

Getting back to ROI, in many networking situations, you will spend hours of time to earn a few minutes to stand before a group.  We have already discussed some tips for maximizing those minutes.

Here are your Top Five Public Speaking for Entrepreneurs Tips

1) Build confidence by memorizing your opener and closer.

2) Power openers:

a) Pause for seven seconds.  They’ll pay attention.

b) Give them a starling fact.  You may then ask for a show of hands “how many believe that?”

c) Avoid rhetorical questions: “How many people here would like to save money?”

3) Relate what you do with a relevant story.  Show them how you helped someone like them to overcome a challenge or achieve her goals. For better or worse, most people are more moved by stories that stats.  

4) In your power closer, have a call-to-action.  “Show of hands: how many people here would benefit from 10 more tips on . . . ?  Great, those of you with your hands up, please take out your business card and pass it along to me.”

5) When other entrepreneurs are speaking, look at the audience.  How many people are really listening?  If the speaker is “average” it is probable that very few are really paying attention.  If the speaker is stellar, then many will be engaged.  When you see an audience engaged with the presenter, note what she is doing that others fail to do.  Every time you network you will be learning more secrets to being that stellar speaker and earning a great return on the hours you invest to speak for a few minutes.

There you have it.  Five simple tips for entrepreneurs to maximize public speaking opportunities.

For the networkers reading this entry, we’d love to hear your stories of great or abysmal entrepreneurial performances you’ve witnessed.

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Public Speaking: Good Content is Like an Ironed Shirt

December 4th, 2008 by Frank Damelio

iron-shirt-mainI remember going to my first college internship wearing a wrinkled shirt.  It was embarrassing when one of my co-interns took me aside, pointed to the wrinkles and told me “Frank, you need to press your shirts so no one notices these”.  I always thought that was interesting . . . “so no one will notice?”  Hmm, do something right and no one notices.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the affirmation: “it’s not what you say but how you say it”.  Not true.  Both content and delivery count, albeit in different ways.  Content is like the ironed shirt.  It is simply expected and assumed that you know your stuff when you present.  If your audience detects you are unprepared or not knowledgeable on your topic, bitter resentment will result from you wasting everyone’s time.  In rare cases of genius, a presenter’s content can make her shine, but in most cases solid content is simply expected, and if it’s not delivered, the presenter is wearing a “wrinkled shirt”.

Strong delivery is neither assumed nor expected.  How do I know this? Most presenters have very little skill in delivery; so that low-level becomes the norm.  If you present with weak delivery skills you simply look like everyone else.  Unless you are blatantly bumbling, there is no “wrinkled shirt.”

What does this mean to you? It means it’s easy for you to shine when you present.  Even basic delivery skills will put you head and shoulders above the rest.

Look forward to our upcoming blog entry on making a great first impression.

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