Posts Tagged ‘tips on public speaking’

Public Speaking: Death by PowerPoint

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I just came back from the HIMSS trade show in Orlando. Many of the larger booths had presenters using PowerPoint to sell the benefits of their featured products and services. Not one presenter was using PowerPoint effectively.

Every presentation had either too many bullet points or cluttered graphs and most of the presenters were reading from their slides. These professionals must have taken a training course on presenting at some point, right? Probably, but it is simply easier to read your presentation off the slides, and since everyone else does it, why not?

FACT: Every presenter I saw was losing an opportunity to persuade their audience to invest in their solutions. Many of the audience members were “zoning”, and they were missing the message.

In this imbedded video, Don McMillan will make you laugh and remind you how to avoid death by PowerPoint.

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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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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: Speaking From the Heart

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

vmun-words-from-the-heart1262548916We just discussed a story about a woman who lost her Power Point notes.  Right after writing that blog . . .

My wife and I were invited to a baptism.  The priest opened her sermon by announcing: “In all the excitement about the baptism, I forgot my notes for today’s talk; so I’ll have to just speak from the heart”.

As a public-speaking instructor, I would be inclined to say that’s not a good opener. I would have coached someone in that situation to say nothing and proceed from memory. But in this case it thoroughly worked in her favor. She created a little bit of tension; people sat a bit taller.  We all wondered how well she would handle the circumstances.

It helped that she was likeable and sincere.  I think everyone was silently rooting for her to do a great job.  She did.  Few things resonate more to an audience than “speaking from the heart”.  Also, without the crutch of notes, all of the other wonderful connecting strategies naturally flourish: eye contact, pausing to think, facial expressions, movement and inflection.

Once again, if you tend to overuse your notes or Power Point, take a chance and see how well you can connect with an audience by “speaking form the heart”.

Speaking from the Heart II

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Public Speaking: Fear – Is There Hope?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

dreamstime_8631049[1]Shaky hands, dry throat and wobbly knees are just some embarrassing effects caused by the fear of public speaking. In our public speaking blog we will deal with this fear of presenting on two fronts:

1) The quick fix to veil fear of public speaking, aka outside-in approach

2) The long term cure for fear of public speaking, aka inside-out approach

But before we delve into solutions, I’d like to share proof that there is hope for those who feel paralyzed by fear caused by the mere thought of public speaking.

1984 – Mr. Scavino’s high school English class.  We are doing oral book reports, and Mr. Scavino is calling us up in order – row by row, seat by seat.  I am prepared with respect to my book report, but something clicks in me, a fear I’ve never felt so intensely. One by one the students present, each completed presentation draws me closer to my turn.  I feel my throat constrict, my adrenaline is in overdrive and my hands are trembling. Then I hear my name.  I stand, staring at my index cards, and stumble through the title and author.  I still remember it: “The Muliple Man” by Ben Bova.  

My fear is causing a public speaking train wreck.  What to do? I do what most kids would do in that situation . . . I lie.  I tell Mr. Scavino that I never finished my report.  He does what most teachers would do.  He responds, “that’s okay Frank, I’ll let you finish your report tonight, and you can go again tomorrow”.

The next day arrives all to quickly. Overwhelmed by my new-found fear of public speaking, I muddle through an excruciatingly mortifying experience. From that point until graduation, I snuck my way out of every public speaking assignment.

Then, I hit college.  I HAD to learn to overcome, or at least veil, my fear of public speaking.  Every day I studied my professors and compared their presentations to those of the students.  What made the professors LOOK so much more comfortable?  Why did almost every student telegraph fear when they presented?  I studied the nuances and took notes.

Soon, I was able to cover the symptoms of my public speaking fear.  I began reading books on psychology and presentations, and ultimately I was able to convert fear to enthusiasm for public speaking.  Now I earn my living by delivering presentations to audiences of all sizes.

In the blog entries to come I will happily share the techniques I’ve learned to 1) veil the fear of public speaking (the quick fix) and 2) to ultimately ENJOY public speaking (a longer-term approach).

In the meantime, please feel free to share any techniques you’ve discovered to deal with your fear of public speaking.

Is there hope for those petrified of public speaking?  You bet!

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Public Speaking: How To Lose Your Audience

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Q: What is possibly the worst feedback you can get about your presentation?

A: Audience members get up and leave before you’ve closed.

I just attended an NSA New England event. It’s a great organization, and I’ve personally benefited from their speakers.  The first two presenters of the day delivered a great deal of value within a little time. Fran Goldstein enlightened us about the power of virtual assistants; and Steve Lishansky gave us a great framework for value-based pricing.

The main speaker, however, inadvertently taught us a invaluable lesson on exactly how to lose your audience.

The session was supposed to have delivered a great deal of content, but after the first two hours, attendees at my table were all looking at one another with puzzled faces.  The speaker spent a majority of this time on SELLING THE BENEFITS of what he was “about to cover”.  WOW!

Indeed, five minutes up front to extol the virtues of the upcoming content would have been great, but the presenter was incessantly preaching to the already converted.

About ninety minutes into the presentation, an attendee from another group stood up and said “with all due respect, you said you were going to cover all this material, and I have my concerns of how you are now going to fit it all in.”  The presenter responded that it was a fair concern, but nothing really changed.

During the second part of the session, I walked out.  It wasn’t the skipping around through unpaginated notes that drove me crazy;  it was the excruciatingly poor time/value ratio.  As a fellow professional presenter, I felt badly about walking out, but I needed to leave so I could blog the experience.

Shortly thereafter, others began to leave (before the close).  I let them share their opinions with me first, and the consensus was that they just couldn’t sit through any more.

What happened?  What can we learn from this?

I’ve seen this occur to a lesser degree when a presenter either has too much or (more often the case) too little content to fit the time slot.  Couple this with poor organization of notes and it’s all over before it ever begins.

When we present we need to keep in mind that many people are gifting us two precious resources: time and attention.  In the case the audience was also paying to attend.

Here are some tips on how to lose your audience:

1) Extend your introduction by over-selling your content.

2) Stretch your time by over-using anecdotes.

3) Bounce around your unpaginated notes.  If they ask where you are, simply respond: “a few pages from the back”; they’ll eventually find you.

If you don’t want to lose your audience:

Subscribe to the philosophy that every minute of your presentation is of vital importance.  If you waste 2 minutes before a fifty-person audience; you’ve lost over an hour and a half of people’s time. A couple of years back at a NSA New England event, Susan Keane Baker executed one of the best presentations I’d ever witnessed.  She made every minute count, she delivered in a way that everyone present received far more value than expected.  She inspired all of us to be better.

Driven by that philosophy, you can proceed with confidence that you will avoid the dreaded fate of losing your audience while public speaking.

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