Posts Tagged ‘Public speaking for networkers’

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: Body Language

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

stk116117rkeWe who are interested in public speaking realize the importance of non-verbal communication.  We study what the audience perceives about our movement, posture, gestures and facial expressions.  While it can take years to understand the nuances of body language, here is something you can learn in one minute:

In the overwhelming majority of cases, touching one’s face transmits a negative signal to the audience. Depending on the nature of the touch, it could give the impression that you are lying, insecure, nervous, agitated, or impatient. Is this fair?  Absolutely not. You may simply have an itch.  It is reality, however, that face-touching generally gives a negative impression.

The one minute lesson:  Avoid touching your face when public speaking.  

Now that you’re aware, just watch how many people do it.  Like umming and ahhhing, it is a challenge to stop.  Just being aware will give you that edge to curb the habit and project more confidence.  This is especially important for those who network through BNI and chamber events.  If people perceive you as lacking confidence, many will erroneously assume that you are unsure of your product and service.  Don’t give them that opportunity!

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Public Speaking: Verbal Branding

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

First, watch the video above: an eight-minute distillation of Stephen Melanson’s vast knowledge of verbal branding.  Stephen is the author of the seminal book:  Jaw BrandingTM

The main points to remember:

1) You have five seconds to pique interest

2) Two methods to do so: a) ambiguity b) differentiation

3) Pause after your five-second intro, and wait for a question

4) Avoid selling on category

5) Less is better – people only remember one or two things you said

6) When asked about your category, respond: “Of course we do that, but what makes us different and better is . . .”

Some of Stephen’s questions to help you discover your point of differentiation:

What negative assumptions exist in the marketplace about what you do?

You are the only one who . . . 

What happens to clients who use your services/goods?

If you started the business over, you would . . . 

What’s the one thing people should remember about you?

What would be a risky message?

What problems do you solve?

What are you most passionate about?

How are you recreating the market?

Where is there a gap in the market?

I commit to “X”; nobody else will.

What’s the personality of your organization?

What is working well now?

Want more?  

FREE 48-page section of Stephen Melanson’s book Jaw BrandingTM.

CLICK HERE  type “FREE” in comment box.

Want help with your five-second verbal branding?

Write yours here so that other subscribers can comment.

 

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Public Speaking: Present First or Last?

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

When public speaking at networking events, your objective is memorability.  You have heard that when given a string of numbers to memorize, people overwhelmingly recall the first and last.  Much of the middle is forgotten.  The same holds true with life experiences.  For example, I’ll never forget the first professional training I delivered, and of course, I remember the most recent.

Apply this to public speaking at networking events.  Given the choice it is best to go first or last.  I believe going first has the greatest advantage because people have not yet “spent” their scarce attention span. Their crisp minds await the first imprint.  Going last can be effective especially when there is a mixer following the event.  Your words, if delivered powerfully, will linger in their minds, which will provide an easy lead-in for conversation.

Some caveats:

Going first: Late arrivals can severely detract from your presentation

Going last: At longer meetings, attention-span burnout can render your presentation inconsequential.

Tell me what you think . . .

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Public Speaking: Magic of Telling a Story

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

As seen in the video above, telling a story works. Here is a great idea from Lisa Braithwaite to ensure that you not only capture their attention but retain it until the end.

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Public Speaking: Important Networking Skill

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Few skills are more important to the networker than public speaking. After years of studying the little things that make presenters appear confident, I have found some common denominators.  Here is one nuance that will set you apart and ensure your audience 1) pays attention and 2) perceives you as confident.

Typically, at some point during a networking meeting, each member of the group has an opportunity to stand up for a brief introduction.  

Keep this in mind: rushing makes you appear nervous and lacking in authority.

What do I mean by appearing rushed? The person before you just finished her introduction, and you immediately stand up and launch into yours. This gives you the appearance of diminished confidence. In addition, few will catch you name and company.

Want to APPEAR confident and have people catch your name and company?

Here’s how:  The person next to you finishes her presentation.  You wait until she is seated. Then, at a MODERATE pace you stand and move behind your chair.  Push your chair in, pause for a second or two, and state your name and company a bit more slowly and clearly than you normally would.

Why does this work?  

1) You need to create some time gap between you and the preceding speaker because the group requires a few seconds to process what has just been said.

2) The experts on persuasion agree that moving at a moderate pace – almost taking your time – exudes confidence.

3) By getting out from behind your chair, you create presence and give yourself mobility.

In many cases, the true difference between those who speak with impact and those who lose their audience is in the nuances.

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Public Speaking: Tip for Networkers – Maintain Attention

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

The greatest challenge for people speaking at networking events is that many members of the audience don’t live the giver’s gain philosophy; so they are only marginally interested in what you have to say.  As a result, many do not pay attention and, accordingly, won’t be able to pass you a referral.

We’ve spoken about power openers to force them to pay attention, but now, as you speak you need to maintain their attention, particularly in a longer presentation.  Clearly, having a well-conceived speech is most important, but here is a quick trick, that again forces people to keep alert to what you are saying:

After making a simple point, randomly call on a name and ask that person for an example.  For example, you are a therapist and you just touched on two common injuries, then you look to see who may be zoning and ask, “Joe, which do you think is more common?”

Just one question like that and the rest of your audience will pay closer attention to you because nobody wants to appear not to care about what you are saying.  People are serious when it comes to their own appearance in a group.  Use that to your advantage

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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: BNI sixty-second commercial

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

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”

Friday, May 8th, 2009

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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