Posts Tagged ‘Presentation skills for networkers’

Public Speaking: Impress your audience.

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Discover the secret to impressing and connecting with your audience.

Attendees at my pubic speaking trainings often say that they have taken “similar” courses on presentations by the big-name companies, and that my techniques are more thorough and insightful.  This is because we all cover the same basics, but I also add a plethora of techniques that I developed as a professional sleight-of-hand performer.   I learned far more about effective presenting in the entertainment industry than I did in the corporate arena.

 I’ll share with you one major discovery I uncovered through magic.  In my circle of professional magicians, we often discuss what is the “best” trick for an audience.  At a show, I might throw your signed card through a window, bend your signed coin in your own hand, and turn singles into hundred dollar bills.   Solid magic.   My peers accomplish similar effects.  We unanimously agree on what impresses an audience the most, and it’s a trick YOU can do… remember their names.

Clearly, this “trick” has limitations.  It is unlikely to work with a full auditorium, but it is quite effective at meetings and classroom-size presentations.  If you can remember the names of your audience members and use those names through your presentation and Q&A, you are golden.  I have already written about some great strategies to remembering names here  but I want to include a new technique I’ve been using that makes it even easier.

When you arrive early, you have an opportunity to meet attendees as they trickle in.  My secret is upon introduction, I create a visual that I associate with the person’s name.  Here are some examples:

Mike: I will visualize him talking into a mic while we chat.

Sarah: Piece of cake on her shoulder (Sara Lee brand of course)

Wendy: Burger

Karen: Carrot

Bob: Apple (corny but it works for me)

You can make these up on the spot.  Some will only make sense to you.  Burn that image into your mind so when you see them a bit later, you have your memory hook that enables you to recall their name.  It works like a charm.  When you are done with your presentation and Q&A be prepared to have many people remark, “you are amazing.  How do you remember all of our names?”  You might want to send them a link to this blog.

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Public Speaking: “Ums” and “Ahs”

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

“Ums” and “Ahs” – don’t fight ‘em

If you are among the 95% of people who “um” and “ah” when they present, then you will benefit from this blog.

As a public speaking trainer, I am appalled by the throng of “experts” who suggest that when making a presentation, the speaker should concentrate on not saying “um” and “ah”.  Wrong.

I recall watching a high school student making a presentation.  He was using “ums and “ahs” in some moderation, when a peer hollered, “Greg, ease up on the “ums and ahs”.  It’s easy to predict what happened: Greg’s reliance on the filler words doubled.  Now that he was aware, he became more nervous, and actually focused on the words he was trying to avoid.

In addition, when I was a member of BNI, I counted the number of “ums” and “ahs” each person said in their 60-second commercials, and it averaged five incidences.  The next week, I “educated” them on how much filler detracts from their message.  I asked them to endeavor to omit the filler from their commercials.  What happened?  Despite their sincere efforts, the average rocketed to nine occurrences.

Why does this happen?

I learned the secret at Ananda Yoga Studio  where Tish Roy  shared a story about an instructor who told his student, “Whatever you do, do not think of a monkey while meditating.” After sometime the instructor asked the student how he was doing.  The student replied, “All I could do was think of that Monkey!” 

Case in point: The worst thing you could do when you are about to present is concern yourself with filler.  If you use fillers, no worries, just focus on your message, and you will be better off.

That said, it is important to note that “ums” and “ahs” drastically undermine your credibility and impact.  The time to fix the problem, however, is not right before you present.  It is in your everyday speaking.

1.   Stop saying “um” and “ah” in your everyday conversation with friends and family. Offer them a dollar whenever they catch you.

 2.   Pause when you think.  While it may make you feel awkward and insecure, others will perceive you as very confident and thoughtful.

 3.   Listen to the voice mails you leave to others by pressing the star or pound key. See how many times you “um” and “ah”.  Keep leaving the message until there are none.

Here is the bonus:

Stop the filler and you will speak with authority and confidence in both your presentations and in your personal conversations.  You will always appear in control even when you don’t feel it.  What a great return for such a small effort.

Here  is an excellent blog on “ums” and “ahs” from one of my favorite sources of public speaking wisdom: Six Minutes Speaking and Presentations Skills.

Leave a comment below if you have any strategies to help stop the “ums” and “ahs”.

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Power of Persuasion: The Results Are Clear

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

All referrals were not created equal.

The results are clear.  My latest study reveals the secret to getting referrals that convert to sales.  This discovery may not be something you’ve ever considered.

When someone gives you a referral.  They may be connecting you with a friend, relative or colleague.   In some cases you will be connected with one of their vendors or one of their clients, and it is the latter two types of relationships that I tracked.

Let’s say Amber gives me a referral to John Smith because she thinks he would be interested in what I provide.  The fact is that if John is her vendor he is much more likely to connect with me than if he were her client.

I suspected this at the outset, but I never realized how big the difference would be.  Below you can see the percentage of successful connections made after the referral was given.

Why the difference?

Reciprocity.  One of the pillars of persuasion is the law of reciprocity, which dictates that people feel beholden to “pay back” those who help them.  In addition, people typically give back a great deal more than they received.

Above, we see the law of reciprocity in action.  Imagine yourself in the referral process:  If someone selects you to be his vendor and that person asked you to connect with one of his contacts, would you?  It is probable that you would feel beholden to at least make an initial connection.  However, if you are someone’s client or customer, you would likely be less compelled to reach out and make the connection.

Networker’s application.

I remember learning in Business Network International (BNI) that we should be specific when asking for referrals.  Instead of asking your contacts who they know that could use your services, you might ask which of their VENDORS could use your services.  Work with that population and you’ll have a much better success of making contact and avoiding the blow-off.

Beyond getting better referrals, you now have the secret to giving them.  Consider the BNI philosophy, “Givers gain.”  That creed was built on the law of reciprocity.  If you are able to give higher quality referrals by tapping into your pool of vendors, then the recipients of the high quality referrals will reciprocate.  And that’s how referral networking is supposed to be done.

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Public Speaking: Networking Events and Incentives

Monday, May 11th, 2009

While you speak at a networking event, do you expect your audience to be conjuring referral possibilities for you? Depending on the event, in most cases people are not doing so.  Why?  Most people are ineffective networkers because they don’t live the “givers gain” philosophy.  Many of these people aren’t even listening to your message. They are thinking of what they are going to say when it’s their turn to speak, or perhaps they are pondering lunch.  The best networkers WILL listen, but since they are so well connected, there is probably a list of trusted referral partners they already have in your field of expertise.

There is, however, still great benefit to public speaking at networking events as long as you keep in mind the following secret:

People respond to incentives

After you’ve caught their attention using this type of power opener, you must show them how it is in their self-interest to consider who they might know to help you.

Here are some ideas that I’ve seen work at BNI and other networking groups:

1)  Refer a wedding to us and you get a romantic overnight stay at our hotel.

2) When your prospect brings up a price objection use this tactic: “If I can show you how to save that much money off your operational expenses, would you be willing to use that savings to invest in my solution?” This is Ben Hall’s (OverVIEW) strategy.

3) For every referral that turns to a sale, we will give you $100.

4) Everybody take out a piece of paper and write down the names of small restaurant owners to whom you would introduce me.  As a thank you, here is a small box of Godiva for each name you provide me.

I understand that some readers will contest: “but networking should be people just trying to help oneanother.  There is no need for incentives.” Okay, agreed! That would be nice, and there may be SOME groups that live that philosophy.  In general, however, if you want people working for you, never underestimate the power of personal incentive.

What creative ideas do you have to incentivize others to search their mental databases for referrals to help you build your business?  Please share so that our readers can get the most out of their public speaking at networking events.

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Public Speaking: Connect With Your Audience

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Undoubtedly, you’ve attended networking events at which a sponsor was afforded five minutes to speak publicly about his company.  How often do you remember what the sponsor says?  In most cases it’s not that you don’t remember, it’s that you were not listening in the first place.  Not your fault.

I recently attended a Chamber event honoring high-achieving high school students.  The sponsor stood behind the podium and disseminated his information about his company.  That’s all he did.  He transmitted, but few received.  He did not connect with and communicate to his target audience.  How do I know?  I observed the audience members’ roaming eyes.  What this meant for him was that he squandered a paid opportunity to be memorable.  Lack of public speaking skills = waste of time and money.

He did, however, have a nice idea for giveaways.  They were matchbox cars sporting his logo, and inside one of the boxes was a $20 bill.  At the end of the presentation, you can bet everyone was looking inside their boxes.

Here are two simple things he could have done to have greatly enhanced memorability through public speaking:

1) Step out from behind the podium and into the audience.  This would have recaptured the attention of the audience. They would have LOOKED at him.

2) Announce at the open that one of the the audience members would be randomly selected at the end of his presentation.  All the person would have to do to win a crisp $20 bill would be to answer a SIMPLE question about his company.  Now they would have LISTENED to him; not really for the $20, but more because they wouldn’t want to be publicly embarrassed by not being able to answer a SIMPLE question.

When public speaking at a networking event, little things mean a lot.  Most people simply transmit information to very few tuned-in receivers.  But, by mastering public speaking skills, you can connect with and communicate to an audience that will REMEMBER you and your company.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Share your comments and questions here . . .

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Public Speaking: Tip for Networkers – Story Telling

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

When you engage in public speaking at a networking event, there are certain techniques that can set you apart.  One is to tell an interesting story about how your product/service helped save someone (similar to your audience members) from losing money, time, peace of mind, etc.

Here is an insider tip one of the pros shared with me.  He pointed out that at networking events, the better public speakers tend to tell stories about how they helped their clients, and how great their clients felt about the experience.

My friend pointed out that this technique was stellar when the speaker was trying to sell directly to his audience members.  However, in many cases, the speaker is not shooting for a direct sale to audience members but rather a referral to someone the audience member knows.

In this case, he argued, it is better to tell as story about how “Bob” referred you to his client.  Talk about how you solved the problem for Bob’s client and how you saved him money.  Then talk about how Bob looked like the hero to his client, which solidified HIS relationship of trust with HIS client.

For those who present at networking events, this is a compelling argument.  Now, instead of an audience member thinking “yeah, but I don’t need a home inspector”, you have her thinking “I think my client John mentioned he is moving back to MA, I wonder whether he’d need a home inspector?”

The difference between the good and great is found in nuances such as these.

Next time you have the opportunity to speak publicly at a networking event, keep this subtlety in mind.

I’m sure you’ve heard some fatal and fantastic public speaking at networking events.  Share your experiences here!

Watch my video on public speaking and story telling.

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Public Speaking: Exceptional Presentation Closer

Monday, January 5th, 2009

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: Entrepreneurs – Top 5 Tips

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

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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