Posts Tagged ‘public speaking training’

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.

Download Power of Persuasion Notes Here.

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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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Hiring a Public Speaking Trainer: Top 5 Mistakes

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

dreamstime_10861117[1]There is no one best public speaking trainer, because groups vary in size, personality, culture and needs. The challenge is to select the best trainer to connect with your team. Here are the five most damaging mistakes people make when choosing a trainer.

5) Not customizing the training program. Don’t just accept the provider’s one-size-fits-all program. While there are many common denominators in the realm of public speaking, there are also big differences between what would benefit a group of HR professionals vs. your sales force. Unless your company is cookie-cutter, do not accept a cookie-cutter program.

4) Lowest bidder. Sometimes you can strike oil by going with the lowest bidder, but in most cases you get what you pay for. Price should be an important factor, but don’t make it the only.

3) Not checking references. Some ask for references, but few follow-up. Assume that whomever the trainer offers as a reference will speak nicely about the service, but here is a good question to get a better sense: “what about trainer X makes her different and better than other trainers you’ve seen?”

2) Requesting training materials, then basing your decision on which seem the best. Here is the truth about most training: content is a commodity; delivery is everything. Books, magazines, internet blogs have almost infinite wisdom on public speaking. You need the right trainer to cull what fits your needs and present it in an inspiring way to your particular audience.

1) The most essential, yet least-followed advice: meet the trainer before your final decision. The brand and reputation of the training company are a far less important the one person who will present your training. If you can meet the prospective trainers, you will instantly know which one has what it takes to connect with your group. Some common requirements are confidence, personality, and enthusiasm. Depending on your audience you may or may not prefer funny, authoritative, conservative, flamboyant or serious.

A small investment up front will ensure that you select the best public speaking trainer for your group.

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Public Speaking: 19 Deadly Delivery Mistakes

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

lecternPublic speaking can be the most daunting task because we make it so. No doubt you’ve heard that according to surveys, most people are more afraid of public speaking than death. Of course the major reason is that we are concerned about how others will perceive us.

The truth is that when we engage in public speaking we shape many people’s perceptions about us in a very short time. In many instances, perception dictates reality; so it is important for us to shine in the spotlight.

When people say they are afraid of public speaking, usually they are talking about their delivery more than their content. Clearly both are important, but most people feel in control when it comes to mastering their content for a presentation. They are more worried about how they will appear before their audience.  In the realm of public speaking, we call this delivery. In our public speaking blog we’ve covered much material on this topic. Here is a summary of 19 delivery mistakes:

AVOID

1. Standing right next to the person introducing you. Instead, wait far off to the side.

2. Walking too fast to center stage/floor. Instead, a moderate pace will transmit authority and confidence.

3. Launching immediately into your presentation. Instead, pause a moment and scan your audience and then deliver your power opener.

4. Not shaking the person’s hand who introduced you.

5. Not publicly thanking the person who introduced you.

6. Not smiling, but don’t force it either. The only thing worse than a somber face is the fake public speaking “chucky” smile.

7. Standing in one spot during your entire presentation.

8. Pacing is worse than standing in one spot. A quick tip on effective movement: give 1/3 of the presentation to the center, 1/3 to the left and 1/3 to the right. Always start and finish center.

9. Standing behind the lectern is deadly. GET OUT OF THERE.

10. Reading off slides is probably the #1 way to turn off your audience. Most public speakers do it.

11. Monotone voice is a cure for insomnia. Instead, record your presentation to ensure you’re injecting enthusiasm.

12. Filler is killer. “Umms”, “ahhs” and “like” will destroy your impact not only in public speaking, but also in one-on-one communication. Instead use the pause.

13. Talking too fast. People can’t process as fast as you can talk. It makes you appear not only nervous but lacking authority as well.

14. Poor eye contact is a major challenge with most public speakers.

15. Speaking softly. If you want to aggravate your audience make them strain to hear you.

16. Petrified body. A talking statue amuses nobody. Catch yourself talking to friends.  What does your body language look like? That’s what your audience wants to see.

17. Petrified face. The audience’s face mirrors yours. If you speak with a frozen countenance, you’ll be looking into a sea of expressionless faces. When you tell a story to a friend, your facial expressions accent the words. Do the same when public speaking.

18. Awkward close. Remember nerves spike at the beginning and end. I’ve seen great public speakers fumble to close. Remember your closing rote.

19. Being too conservative. Unless you’re presenting to the board at a stodgy bank, put some fun into your presentation. Most presentations are painful to endure. A dash of sugar will make them love you.

If you avoid these 19 common delivery mistakes, your audience won’t care whether you are nervous because they will like you and appreciate that you gave them an experience instead of a boring book report. You will shine in comparison to the public speakers who precede and follow you, because it’s almost guaranteed that these other presenters fall victim to most of the 19 deadly delivery mistakes.

There you have it! Now pounce on your fear of presenting, and use these delivery skills to enjoy the art of public speaking.

Learn more about our public speaking training program here.

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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: Dealing With Interruptions

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

timeout2Most of us have attended a presentation where an audience member interrupts the speaker and attempts to monopolize. The monopolizer is usually unaware that he is crossing the line, and it is the presenter’s responsibility to shut him down fast.

I recently attended an excellent seminar on marketing. The presenter’s style was to ask rhetorical questions and then provide us with the answer. One man from the audience continually launched into his own answer to each question. Finally the presenter looked right at him and said, “you need to get your own lecture . . . this one is mine.” Wow! Shut down! The rest of his presentation flowed smoothly, and the audience leaned a great deal.

His zinger was effective.  My question to you, do you think it was too harsh?

Here are my strategies for dealing with interruptions and monopolizers:

1) Stop it before it starts: You may chose to open with the remark, “we have a great deal to cover; so if you would kindly note your questions and save them until the end, I’d appreciate it.”

2) If you are taking questions during the presentation, but someone begins to monopolize, you can say “I see you know a great deal about this topic, and I’d love to speak with you more about it after the presentation.  For now, I’d like to make sure everyone has a chance to participate.”

3) When the monopolizer takes a breath, say “okay, we need to move on because time is limited”.

4) Speak directly to the stubborn interruptor: “John, I love your enthusiasm, and I’m going to ask you to hold your comments until the end, so that we can get through the material.”

5) Here’s another zinger I saw a presenter use to handle an unruly interruptor: “Hey Sam, this is a one man show…and I’m the man.”

The most important thing to remember is that the audience is looking for you to squelch the interruptor because they are there to see you.  Always be prepared in advance to handle this, and your audience will appreciate it.

One caveat:  These techniques work well when it’s “your show”.  I wouldn’t recommend squelching questions when presenting to the Board of Directors of your company, because that is really “their show”.  Always consider the context when applying any public speaking technique.

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Public Speaking: Getting Applause

Friday, June 26th, 2009

applause pleaseThere are some presentations you do where applause is desirable and appropriate. We’ve already discussed optimal audience seating that will facilitate audience reaction and applause. In this entry you will discover the nuances  and lines the presenter can employ to increase audience applause. Much of what I’ve learned about earning applause comes from my performance in entertaining rather than strictly business presentations. Nevertheless the lesson lends itself to many types of public speaking.

Keep in mind, audiences need a cue to applaud because they subconsciously fear applauding at the wrong time, or being the only person clapping.

Here are both subtle (for business) and bold (for entertainment) methods to encourage applause.

During your presentation at an “applause moment”:

1) Ask audience to give a round of applause to someone who helped you.

2) “Thank you for your enthusiasm”

3) If it’s silent: “Save your applause till the end – I have a weak finish.”

4) When only one person applauds: “I think you just woke up the others” OR  “Are the rest of you saving it for the big finish?” OR “I will wow you one person at a time” OR “Special thanks to my fan club” (pointing to the one person)

5) “Oh, I forgot to tell you, your applause will be recorded”

6) “There are two ways we can do this (show,demo) like we’re doing it now, or with applause.”

7) “Hey, I know you’re out there, I can hear you breathing”

8)  “Instead of applauding, why don’t we all hold hands and try to join with the LIVING”

To get applause at the end of your presentation

“Thank you” Take a slight bow with a light clap of the hands and take a small step back.

While the best way to earn applause is to do an excellent job, these nuances and lines make all the difference with respect to creating the right atmosphere conducive to applause.  Remember to use your judgement when tossing a quip into the mix.

present awards and control applause

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Public Speaking: Seven Tips to Using a Mic

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

In many cases, if a mic is available, and you have over forty people in your audience, use the mic.

Darwin Ortiz, a world-class card shark, affirms that when performing his stunningly visual skills “it is more important to be heard than seen”.  This comment  is from a man who makes his living with a deck of cards.  I’m sure he’s performed in every type of situation, and his experience is that volume is essential.

Granted, some shy people will prefer not to be heard when speaking, but this will KILL your presentation. You will lose your audience.  It is much better to use a mic.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Nobody will focus on a talking statue.  Take the mic off the stand so you can move around.

2) Avoid crowding the mic.  Adjust the volume so that you can keep the mic at least a few inches from your mouth.

3) Ideal amplifier volume is the point at which you are speaking fully, without straining.

4) A hand-held mic has some advantages over headsets and lavalieres.  You can have the audience comment into it, you can move it a bit closer or farther from your mouth for effect.  The benefit to the headset or lavaliere is that you are hands free.  Typically, a cheaper headset will still project, but a cheaper lavaliere may have trouble picking up your voice.  Of course, the negative to a headset is that it blocks your face a bit.

5) If you are wearing or holding a mic before or after your presentation MAKE SURE TO MUTE or TURN OFF.  Embarrassing stories abound about people who forgot to mute their mics and had their private remarks broadcast to a large audience.  Do you remember this happened to former President Bush?

6) Be careful with signal.  If you’re receiver is at the other end of the room, it will work perfectly when there is no audience.  However, on your big day, the bodies of your attendees can impede the signal; so your voice will randomly cut out.  This happened to me with a quality system.  I was forced to dump the mic and naturally project to a group of 300 people.  Not effective.

7) Have a member in the back of the audience use thumbs up/thumbs down to indicate “raise the volume/lower the volume”.

There you have it in a nutshell. Seven tips to using a mic.

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