Posts Tagged ‘public speaking tips’

Public Speaking: Fact or Myth?

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

1. Eye contact should last about 3 seconds before moving on to next person.

Myth. Many courses on public speaking teach this technique. The problem is that it makes you look superficial. Instead, vary the duration of eye contact with each individual. Sometimes you will make a point to an individual that might last eight seconds. Just be sure to avoid the “stalker stare”.

2. Keep a formal demeanor when presenting.

Myth. I’m not saying be unprofessional, but most speakers appear as if they are giving a eulogy, which is bad . . . unless they really are. Your audience wants to see some personality; so don’t be afraid to be yourself.

3. It is imperative to stay within your allocated time.

Fact. This is probably “more true” than most speakers realize. There are few things that will make your audience resent you more than going past your time. Conversely finishing a bit early will earn you a great deal of appreciation.

4. Speak from the lectern/podium.

Myth. The lectern is a barrier between you and your audience. Perhaps this is comforting to you, but it doesn’t work for your audience. Get out from behind the lectern and you will outshine the other speakers by connecting directly with your audience.

5. Avoid fillers, “ums” and “ahs”.

Myth. Most speaking courses tell you to watch out for those filler words. Some even have the audience count them as you speak. This is counterproductive. The worst thing to tell someone to do before they present is to avoid saying “um”. The fact is that they will say it much more when they make an effort to avoid it. It’s like telling someone, “hey don’t think of a monkey”.

6. Dress at least as formal as your audience.

Fact. While many presenters are overly formal in speech, they sometimes underdress, which can be misconstrued as lack of respect by their audience. Always ask the organizer upfront how people will be dressed.

7. It’s okay to read from your slides because everyone does it.

Myth. Well, yes, almost everyone reads from their slides, but that doesn’t mean that your audience doesn’t greatly dislike it. It’s okay if the slide guides you, for example a ONE WORD bullet point to get you in the right direction is ok. Avoid long phrases and sentences.

8. If you’d liked this blog, you can help me by hitting one the buttons below to share.

Fact.  I would be much obliged.

Take a look at our upcoming full-day public speaking training in Worcester, Mass.

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Public Speaking: A Day To Remember

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Here is an email I received from Jason Kallio, founder of ExpoVantage about the rewards of presenting.  Enjoy.

         “We focus on structuring our content with our teacher hat on so that we’re not misunderstood.  This eliminates noise which is confusion.  Then we deliver our content with passion, humanity and intent.  This is how we connect with our audience.
 
I did a high energy, fast paced seminar yesterday on 60 trade show tips in 60 minutes. One guy said that after 25 years in the business his experience backed up everything that I said, and he learned a few new things, too.  Content strong.  Facts are facts. Nothing too controversial about the topic.
 
One woman had been at another one of my presentations.  She implemented the tips that I had given.  Before we started, she experessed her excitement that I was the presenter.  She expressed her trust in my content, my energy and that it would be fun.  During my presentation I got her to back me up on the effectiveness of a tip about wearing two pair of socks & changing your shoes as ways to make it more comfortable throughout the day.  I would not have had this information had I not interacted before the presentation.  Had this information not been used, it would have been a lost opportunity to strengthen the delivery.  Humanity and improv make a difference.
 
To top it all off, a man took the time to come back in the room to complement me on my presentation skills.  He is in Toastmasters.  He had a standard that he was now comparing me.  He is a banker and presents often.  He does not feel present when he delivers his content.  I asked if he knew his material.  He was very confident.  After lengthy discussion, I suggested going to improv class.  This will open his mind to be in the moment.  He expressed that this would be out there for him.  He said his wife was going to laugh, but he was going to do it, and promised to report back.  He then said, “You made a difference in my life.”
 
We can choose to present or be an artist when we present.  If you are an artist, you have the intent to connect with your audience.  Connection is the greatest gift that we can receive.  (Realistic note:  The connection keeps getting you paid, and the joy you receive means you won’t feel like you work for a living.)
 
Art and Intent intact, it’s still likely that I was misunderstood at that seminar by someone.  You just cannot please everyone all the time.  However, in my book, this is a day to remember.  Living Life.”

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Power of Persuasion: NO

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

The Power of NO

Nothing is more empowering than the ability to say “no” and walk away. In a recent blog I discussed the most persuasive way to make a request. In this entry, I’ll share a strategy that relies on the power of NO.

 

BUYER’S PERSPECTIVE

In July I moved into a temporary apartment while awaiting the closing of my new home. I had basic cable and Internet through Charter. The fee was $41, and I asked that they waive the one-time fee for the representative to come out and connect me. Charter obliged.

When I moved in August, I called Charter and asked for the same deal. The rep said there would be a $50 charge for hook up. I told him that Charter had waived the fee the first time, and I requested the same. He denied my request, explaining, “the free install promotion just ended”. I politely asked to speak to his supervisor to see whether an exception could be made. He said he would connect me, but he guaranteed the request would be denied.
 

THE POWER OF NO: I thanked him for “trying” and said, “Cancel the order because I need to check out Verizon’s options, and if they can’t do better, I promise I’ll call back and give you my business.” His response? “Oh, wait, I just saw a promotion that will enable me to waive the fee.”

I had already done my research and was going to go with Charter irrespective of a hook up fee. But my trick worked. I knew that Charter trains their reps to open new accounts, and once I was walking out, the rep gave me the deal I requested.

Interestingly enough, I shared this story with a friend who is moving this week. When Charter wanted to charge her the install fee, she cited my case, and they explained, “promotion just ended.” She pushed and they “found” an offer to waive half of the fee. I am confident that if she had requested that they cancel the order she would have received a full-waiver.

Charter’s behavior is reflective of human nature. They want to profit the most from you, but they lose their power when the see that you are ready to walk away.

In many cases using the walk away factor works as long as you don’t back the other guy into a corner and give yourself an opportunity to come back. Be sure to be polite and explain that you need to examine your options.

 

SELLER’S PERSPECTIVE

From a seller’s perspective in a non-commodity market such as training, I use the power of no effectively. I provide custom public speaking training and power of persuasion courses to companies that need to get better results from their people. Some prospects ask for Nordstrom quality at Wal-Mart prices. I always respect that they ask, and I explain how they are getting Nordstrom quality at JC Penny prices.

Then, if they still balk, I don’t push. I tell them the truth, “this training is not for everyone, and I will be happy to pass a referral to another trainer who can work within your budget.” Many times the walk away will convert to a sale because they respect that I know my value. Other times, I will make the referral to another company, and I am okay with that. This system helps me work with the right type of client while passing on those who don’t fit to someone else who can help him or her.

Make a comment below on your experience employing the power of NO.

Ask me about professional development training in the power of persuasion and public speaking.

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Public Speaking: Enthusiasm or tone it down?

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

What do YOU think?

While coaching a top executive on presentation skills, I commented that the enthusiasm he exhibits in one-to-one conversations was not being conveyed in his presentations to the group.  His response: “as a company leader, I need to be taken seriously; so I tend to tone it down when speaking to my group.”

Of course, if a presenter is delivering bad news, such as layoffs, a subdued style is appropriate.  In general, however, is the assumption that when one speaks with enthusiasm he or she appears less serious or businesslike?  Does a more animated speaker seem any less credible to you?  Take our poll and leave a comment below:


After weighing in, then check out this related blog entry on the cartoon factor.

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Public Speaking: 5 Tips on Handling Hecklers

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Are you intimidated by hostile audiences? Public speaking can be daunting enough, but when you are faced with a tough or hostile audience, it can be petrifying.  Below are some techniques to set the battlefield in your favor.  By employing these, you will gain the upper ground and successfully stave off much of the attack.

1) Stop the attack before it starts.  

If you are afraid of being knocked off track with difficult questions, avoid them up front by saying: “I have 30 minutes with you, and I will keep within that time.  During the presentation I’ll probably answer many of the questions you have, so please make a mental note of questions and save them until the end.  I’ve budgeted 10 minutes at the end; so we can address them.”

2) Don’t give them a chance to pre-empt you.

If you have handouts, wait until your presentation is over to distribute them; otherwise people will read ahead, find mistakes and formulate tougher questions.

3) Stop the monopolizer before he starts.

At the beginning of Q&A say, “we have 10 minutes for all Q&A and I want to make sure that everyone who has a question gets a chance, who would like to go first?” If nobody raises their hand, you start things off by saying, “A question I’m often asked is . . .”

4) No dead time.

Moving briskly and purposefully is a magician’s trick to keep the questioners quiet.  When you are on course and in control, it feels awkward for the heckler to chime in.  Once there is a break in your flow, he’ll jump right in.

5) Give them no fuel to attack by being likeable.

Be there early and greet attendees as they arrive.  Chat with them and make it personal.

Look and act confidently but speak humbly.

Mention in the beginning that you will be sure to keep within your allocated time: “I have thirty minutes to update you, and I’ll be sure to stay within that time period.” They can’t help but to like that.

If you feel you know less than your audience and you are going to be fielding many tough questions: “I may not have all the answers, but I’ll tap into our experts in the audience during Q&A.”

Caveat: Many times you want open discussion and probing questions.  This vlog is not about fostering that environment.  On the contrary it is for those who seek to avoid a challenging or hostile environment.  Not all techniques are universally applicable.  Use your judgment.

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Public Speaking: Special Delivery

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

theater 2Recently, I attended one of the famous Highland March Professional Development Series featuring master networker Jason Kallio, President of ExpoVantage.  Did he have great content?  Yes. Was he prepared and organized? Yes. But that’s only part of the reason he won the crowd.  He was funny, entertaining, and engaging.  He made us laugh and he talked with us, not at us.  He was in the moment and built on the comments that people shared.

As a public speaking expert, anytime I’m in the audience, I spend up to half the time looking at the audience to see how effective the presenter is.  The answer lies in their focus.  If their eyes are glued to the presenter, that’s great; otherwise there is a problem.  All eyes were glued to Jason throughout the entire presentation.  I have seen other prepared, organized, and structured presenters in that same room lose the audience.  Why the difference?  Content is a commodity; delivery is everything.

Jason is also a professional magician; so he adheres to the philosophy that every presentation is a performance. He realizes that excellent content that is well prepared is NOT enough to earn the audience’s attention.  Great content must be delivered in a performance.  Here are some of the reasons people loved him:

1) He opened with a magic trick that conveyed a major point about networking.

2) He invited participation and wove that participation into his presentation.

3) He was very much in the “here and now”.  He used appropriate humor to respond to audience remarks, and got to know the members of his audience as he went along.

4) He spoke to each member individually, focusing his eye contact on one person at a time instead of doing the common superficial scanning.

5) He was excited because he knew he had prepared for a performance, rather than a presentation.

After watching and analyzing thousands of presentations, here is something I’ve learned: presenters who think their only responsibility is to disseminate information are usually painfully boring – irrespective of their content. Presenters who understand that their presentation is a performance usually win the crowd.

Make your presentation a performance by avoiding these 19 deadly delivery mistakes.

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Public Speaking: To Be or Not To Be Introduced?

Friday, July 31st, 2009

Question Man60-second tip.

Whenever you are guest presenting, always opt to be introduced by someone else, and make sure YOU write the intro. One reason is that it’s far better for a member of the group to get everyone’s attention. I’ve seen guest speakers who were not introduced just stand there for what seems an eternity while the group settles down. While this happens far more often at informal gatherings, it still severely diminishes your authority.

In most cases, though, the organization will have someone introduce you. Don’t wait until that day to give them a resume or copy off your website. Instead, write a short intro that highlights some of your great accomplishments. The intro is very important because it helps people decide if they are going to be listening or considering their to-do list for the rest of the day.

Unless you have a name like John Smith, write your name phonetically, and capitalize the stressed syllable. Mine is Frank Damelio (Dah-MILL-ee-oh).

In advance, send the person introducing you the written intro via email, AND take with you a copy in an envelope labeled “introduction”. In my experience, one in five people will forget to bring your intro to the event.

Remember to keep it pithy. If you have tons of accolades this could be challenging. Write them all down, then select your top three to five for the group you will address. If you’re new to the speaking field it can be a challenge to conjure enough to impress the audience. You can always build your intro credentials by doing some free speeches for big-name organizations or at conferences in your field of expertise.

If you want to see what my intro looks like, just email me here, and write “INTRO” in comments.

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Public Speaking: Project Confidence

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Of all public speaking tips, these may have the most universal appeal.

In Video Lesson One, we discovered how to veil the nerves caused by fear of public speaking: shaky hands, shaky voice, dry throat, and fear of freezing.

In this ten-minute video we will uncover the secrets of emulating confidence. There are some situations in which, no matter how well-prepared you are, you will feel the pressure. That’s okay because you now know how to veil the tell-tale signs of nerves (Lesson I); so you are ready to learn how to appear confident on the outside, even though you don’t feel that way on the inside.

Apply these five public speaking tips to projecting confidence, and you will shine. Nobody will detect the fear you may be experiencing. The beauty is, just by simply knowing these tips, you will actually begin to feel more confident from within. That’s a double bonus.

We hope you enjoy and benefit from this “how to overcome fear” training video. Please share it by clicking any of the icons below.

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Public Speaking: The Rule of Three

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

rule of 3My college roommate, Sean Cusick, was an English major, and he enlightened me about the rule of three. Your writing will have more impact when you use three nouns, adjectives or adverbs together. For example, it is more compelling to say, “this course will give you the skills, confidence and motivation to catapult your speaking career,” rather than saying “this course will give you the skills and confidence to catapult your speaking career.”

Little did I know, however, that I was only scratching the surface with respect to this amazing rule of three in public speaking. Here is a fascinating, in-depth look at the RULE OF THREE by Andrew Dlugan and how to apply it. Enjoy!

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Public Speaking: Speaking from the Heart II

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

73976251This is the second time I’ve witnessed a speaker ditch the notes and speak from the heart. Once again, it was a huge success.

In a previous public speaking blog entry, I recounted how a presenter’s computer quit, and she was forced to complete the rest of her presentation without her Powerpoint notes.  It proved to be the best thing that happened to her, as she recaptured and maintained the audience’s attention.

Recently, I witnessed a best-man toast.  As is typical, he unfolded a piece of paper and began reading – boring. After a few sentences, he paused, looked up at the guests and said, “I’m going to just speak from the heart, how about that?” The audience applauded, he folded the paper, and placed it in his pocket. There was a small pause, and you could feel how every person was eagerly anticipating his next words.

He went on to speak in a conversational tone about the groom. He earned a ton of laughs and many “aawwws” from the guests. His speech moved everyone in attendance. It was one of the best I’ve seen, and I know he wouldn’t have had nearly that reaction had he simply read his notes.

Once again, case-in-point, when you choose to “talk with” instead of “read to” an audience, you will make a connection, and they will remember you and your message. You might think that it’s a daunting task not to read from your slides and notes, but the beauty is that your audience gives you tons of leeway when you are speaking from the heart. They will simply like you more, and likeability is one of the six pillars of persuasion.

Clearly, when you are giving a training or a much longer presentation, you may need to refer to your notes or slides to make sure you are on track. That’s okay, as long as you are using them as a guide, and not for the verbiage of the presentation itself.

Nothing will endear your audience more than speaking from the heart.

For training on public speaking see our programs here.

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