Posts Tagged ‘presentation tips’

Public Speaking: Advanced Tip – Connectors

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

What one mistake do even the best public speakers tend to make?

Clearly, they don’t pace, fidget or say “uhmm”, and they do project their voice, make meaningful eye contact and use purposeful movement.  They’ve mastered the basics; so how can they improve?

In my experience even the best public speakers make this minor mistake: connectors.  When they finish a statement, they start the next with one of the following words: so, now, or okay.  While there is nothing wrong with an occasional use of these connectors, most speakers use them almost every time after a pause.

It’s a nuance that I learned from a top Toastmaster who analyzed my speaking.  She pointed out that I had overused these connectors.  Before this enlightenment, I had no idea I was doing this.  Are you?  If you’re just becoming comfortable with public speaking, don’t worry too much about this.  If you are an advanced speaker, chances are this is one area in which you may be able to improve.  The only way to know whether you use connectors is to record your presentation, or ask someone in the audience to take note of them for you.

How to stop?  The same way you stopped umming and ahhing.  Avoid using connectors in your everyday conversation and they will automatically disappear from your more formal presentations.

Advanced tips for public speakers are always welcome here.  Please share yours.

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Public Speaking: First Impressions

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

We’ve all heard it before: “you have fifteen seconds to make your lasting first impression”. I’ve heard some experts say it’s only five seconds.  When you are public speaking, a first impression is vital if you want to earn their attention.

Before you utter a word, the audience beings forming their judgment.  While this is not a “dress for success” blog, a good guideline is to dress just a step above your audience.  Some experts say that you want to dress just like your audience so that they identify with you. Certainly, there are occasions in which the presenter needs to create a “team” perception and avoid an “authoritative” aura; but in most cases, it is a sign of respect to dress a step up.  

While the audience typically recognizes that they assess the way one dresses, they are often unaware of the fact that they subconsciously assess how one moves. Walking up to front and center at a moderate pace, then pausing for a few seconds will project that you are confident and comfortable with the audience. 

Now everyone is listening.  It’s time for your power opener. Avoid the common opener: “thank you, today I’m gunna talk about . . .” ; instead use one of these proven techniques that we teach in our public speaking training course:

Opening techniques: (Practical and powerful):


1)    Pose a question to the entire audience:  “How many of you are on schedule to retire worry free at your target retirement age?”  Please raise your hand if you are.

2)    Pose a question to an individual in the audience:  “Diane, have you developed your retirement plan on your own or do you work with a financial planning consultant?”

3)    Imagine:  I’d like everyone here to imagine the feeling of freedom and empowerment you would have if you knew that at your target age you could retire and maintain your current life style – worry free.

4)    Startling fact:  67% of Americans retiring in the next two decades are depending on Social Security benefits that are unlikely to materialize.

In a nutshell:  Dress one step up, walk moderately to front and center, pause, use a power opener and you will make a positive first impression when public speaking.

Also, please share you thoughts and experiences so that we may all learn!

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Public Speaking: Tip for Networkers – Forgettable vs. Memorable

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

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: Presenting to Executives – Top Five Tips

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

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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