presentations

Guest Blog Post: 5 Ways to Create an Exciting Learning Experience to Keep Your learners Engaged

Eager to keep your students engaged? Rest assured that with the utilization of the latest learning tools, you are going to be able to achieve this target. Guest Blogger, Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education.

No Sweat! Get Control of Public Speaking Nerves

Three people called me this week because their public speaking fear is holding them back. It's affecting their brand, their reputation, and their career advancement. It's causing them to remain quiet in meetings and to decline speaking opportunities. It’s time to knock out the fear of public speaking! Public speaking is no different from any other fear and you can kick the habit long before you kick the bucket.

What Hillary Clinton Can Teach Us About Using Your Voice

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Hillary ClintonThere’s been talk about Hillary Clinton’s coughing and whether she’s damaging her voice. It made me think of how speakers unknowingly abuse their voices. Often public speakers yell in order to project. Yelling is not only irritating to listen to, but will cause eventual hoarseness. It causes strain on the vocal folds. Presenters should request a microphone, project from the diaphragm, and not from the neck muscles. And incessant coughing can also cause damage. Coughing causes the vocal folds to forcefully slam together.

One of the bigger problems for professional and public speakers is laryngopharyngeal reflux, an inflammation near the back part of the larynx due to acid rising to that point. Thirty-five million people in the United States have acid reflux.

“This inflammatory condition causes the vocal folds to function less efficiently leading to vocal fatigue and poor projection,” states Dr. Thomas Murry, clinical director, professor of speech pathology in otolaryngology at the Voice and Swallowing Center of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Columbia University. Reflux is most common among speakers because so many speakers are on the go, stressed and may have poor diets. Being aware of the symptoms of reflux can help speakers take preventative steps to take care of the problem.

The big five symptoms are:

  • Vocal fatigue
  • Lack of projection
  • Hoarseness as the day wears on
  • Throat clearing
  • Increased phlegm in the throat

Preserving the Voice

To preserve the voice, don’t constantly clear your throat or talk over noise.  Instead, Murry recommends the silent cough technique.

The silent cough technique is a way to clear the throat without violently banging the vocal folds together. The silent cough is done by breathing in air and blowing the air out fast through your throat and mouth without making a sound. Immediately after the silent cough, you should tuck your chin down toward your chest and make a strong swallow. The silent cough often clears mucous that clings to the vocal folds or near them. The silent cough is an important element of vocal hygiene and helps to prevent unnecessary trauma to the vocal folds. It is especially important to use the silent cough after surgery to the vocal folds.

If the symptoms of reflux continue, go to the doctor before the problem becomes severe.

Another common physical voice problem is vocal paresis, a weakness in one or both vocal muscles manifesting in breathiness or fatigue. Both folds must come together symmetrically to produce a clear, resonant voice. Vocal paresis can be caused by a flu or viral infection. When the nerve is inflamed, the condition can last for six months to a year, causing the speaker to change habits to adjust to the inflammation. A monotone may be an indicator of a minor defect or partial paralysis. Also, public speakers who have difficulty projecting could have some vocal fold asymmetry. Tape yourself and listen to how you sound. Also, be aware if you find people asking you to talk louder. This may be an indication that you are suffering from vocal paresis.

Breathiness and Hoarseness

Women are more inclined to get polyps or nodules, which are growths that prevent complete closure of the vocal folds and create breathiness. “In females, the back part of the vocal folds never completely closes due to the way they are formed. So the female voice is always going to be a little bit more breathy than the male’s because of anatomy,” states Murry.

If you are suffering from breathiness, take action and get checked out. It is always better to be safe than sorry. The definition of the term “frustrated and feeling sorry for yourself" is to wake up to find that you’re hoarse when you have a big speaking engagement.

When hoarseness is the problem, first determine that there is no hemorrhage. Then start a process of hydration and steam. Public speakers should travel with a facial steamer. When staying in a dry hotel room, opera singers use them every hour for five minutes. Alternatively, you can make boiling water in your coffee pot, pour it into the ice bucket, and throw a towel over your head to reap the benefits of steam.

To avoid becoming hoarse, avoid alcohol, chocolate and caffeine before a speech. They will dehydrate the mucous membranes, causing hoarseness. Finally, after an all-day motivational program, get plenty of rest and drink lots of water. Before you climb into bed, toss out those mint chocolates on your pillow; they are a double whammy because the mint relaxes the lower esophagus and allows acid to come up.

Making a difference in the lives of your audience is done with your instrument—your voice. With proper breathing, voice training and vocal hygiene, your voice will be strong, healthy and you’ll master true vocal power.

What a Cashier Taught Me about Presentations

shield-728532__180I went to the supermarket to pick up a few items. Not wanting to wait in line, I found a cashier who was without customers. She had her back turned as she was shuffling a deck of coupons. I approached her and stood there expecting her to stop what she was doing to serve me. She did not. She continued to organize the coupons and never said a word to me or attempted to make eye contact. She placed a rubber band around the coupons, put them in the drawer and without saying a word, started to ring up the two items.

It was like I wasn't there.

Viewing this as an experiment in communication, I said nothing. Neither did she. After ringing up the groceries she spoke for the first time. "$6.07, " she said. As I was digging for change she turned and talked to the other cashiers. I paid the bill and left. Talk about feeling invisible.

Yes, she was a young person being paid minimum wage but that's not an excuse for being rude. (Although I doubt that was her perception). I've had friendlier and more helpful service from others in her position. It made me think about what was being communicated by this cashier. By not acknowledging that I was standing in front of her I felt ignored and not valued as a customer. She had no idea of the impact of her silence and lack of friendliness. By not greeting a customer and avoiding eye contact, she tarnished the brand of the store. There was little difference between doing business with her and scanning my own groceries in the self service line. I left with a negative feeling about the supermarket although I've shopped there many times.

My husband reminded me that he doesn't like going to our local Thai restaurant even though the food is good and inexpensive. He dislikes the waitress who doesn't smile and looks annoyed all the time. He calls her "a pill". Think about it. He doesn't want to eat where the food is good because he doesn't like her attitude. She non-verbally communicates that the customers are an annoyance to her. She's creating a negative feeling.

How often do we minimize soft skills in the business world? Something as seemingly basic as greeting a person or making eye contact can have a big impact. It's part of your presentation. In graduate school, I waited tables at a  New York City fast food restaurant in the middle of Times Square. (That's another story). I quickly learned the ROI of interpersonal skills. A greeting, friendly tone, and a smile could yield a better tip.

There's a barista at my local Starbucks named Gus. He remembers everyone's name. When I walk in the store, he starts making my green tea because he knows my order. Gus makes customers feel special and I always ask for him.

So the point is this. We are always presenting ourselves and the organization we represent. McDonald's understands this. Every entry level worker greets each customer by looking at them and saying "Welcome to McDonalds". They are well trained because the company recognizes that communication impacts their brand. It's the intangibles that drive the tangible. The next time you have a meeting or presentation, be fully present, acknowledge the other person and whatever your topic, serve it up with a smile.

Speaking Lessons from Shark Tank

kevinolearyLast month I had the good fortune to hear Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank speak at a networking event. Unlike typical celebrity events, this venue was intimate, allowing contact with Mr O’Leary and even a photo opp. After drinks and hors d’oeuvres, we gathered into a small theater-like room to hear him speak. His speaking approach surprised me and I found it refreshing. Instead of the usual PowerPoint, or main stage podium presentation, Mr O’Leary entered the room in an unassuming manner yet strongly communicated executive presence. After being introduced, he stood next to a leather chair, his only prop a wine glass in hand as he told his story.

He began by telling us about his mother’s influence on how he thinks about his investments today and took us on a journey from his early, hungry years, the “tough love” lessons from his mother, and how he is raising his children based on his own upbringing. He discussed the issue of how to stay grounded after acquiring riches, his decisions and relationships on Shark Tank, his current enterprises, and advice for today’s entrepreneurs. His decisions to do business with partners isn’t contingent on liking them and he was clear about separating personal feelings from business.

Politics was not part of the presentation until the last questioner asked for his opinion on the Presidential election which he answered directly. Ever the salesman, he ended with a call to action. He let the audience know that he owned a vineyard and we could buy his $60 red wine for $10 on QVC.

Mr. O’Leary didn’t miss a beat. He spoke fluently, conversationally, and matter-of-factly, as he wove sage advice through his stories. This was not a speech but a conversation. And the audience loved it!  It was interesting how much of the presentation I retained because he made the message memorable.

What I learned was this: The best public speakers stay true to themselves. Kevin O’Leary has a quiet style but was no less captivating than a Tony Robbins. He told his personal story and made a connection with the audience. By sharing business successes and an inside view of SharkTank, he provided real value to an audience of entrepreneurs. He didn’t waffle when asked a political question. He put a stake in the ground. And of course, he told us how to get a discount on his wine. The audience was captivated. And that’s why he’s called Mr.Wonderful.

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Speaking to Sell

Most small businesses are overlooking the  most powerful and cost effective marketing strategy to increase sales. Creating and delivering a 20 to 45 minute seminar, can go a long way in positioning entrepreneurs to capture more leads and increase sales. Unlike more traditional cold calling, the benefits of seminar selling keep on giving.

Convert Podium Presentations to Winning Webinars

webinar-laptop-300x200Could a top presenter bomb in the virtual world? Your keynotes get rave reviews. Your training seminars are highly rated. Your reputation as a public speaker precedes you. So giving a webinar should be a snap. Or not. The mistake many otherwise excellent speakers make is to approach webinars the same way they deliver an in-person speech. Virtual communication offers new and different challenges. Here are some tips when transitioning presentations to the web.

More Slides Not Less. Unlike the PowerPoint principle of fewer slides, in a webinar, the speaker must keep the momentum going. It's boring to listen to audio while one slide remains on the screen. To keep attention, scroll through multiple slides so that the audience is experiencing change more frequently. I once watched an online promotional video. Every time I reached for the mouse to fast forward, the video image would change. It was uncanny how this video changed images every time I was ready to tune out. I checked the timing. The change happened every 4 seconds. You don't have to be that quick but don't speak for 2 minutes on a slide.

Create a Relationship. Project a photo of participants on the webinar screen so that they can see themselves and others.This will allow you to speak to "real people," and the audience will feel more of a sense of community.

Warm Up.  Don't dive in without a welcome. Introduce yourself and let people know why they are there and what you will cover. But don't announce every caller unless it's a brief private meeting. Mute the phones so that there is no background noise. People can hear a smile so bring your best game face and let your warmth shine through. To increase energy, stand when you're presenting and use a lively and conversational voice. Nobody wants to listen to a dispassionate book report.

Visuals Not Text. Forego bullets in favor of graphics, cartoons, illustrations and interesting photos.The brain thinks in pictures, not in words. And if there is enough text for them to read the slides, they won't need you. Make sure the graphic files are not too large or they will take too long to download.

Interact. Don't be a talking head. If you don't want the audience to check email, create a two way communication. Make use of chat boxes and polling. Ask questions. And if possible, open the phone lines so that people can participate. Build interaction every 3-5 minutes. An effective webinar is not a deck of slides with a voice over.

Make Eye Contact. The best way to connect with a virtual audience is to use video. If they can see you talking, the audience will be more engaged. Programs like Adobe Connect provide video capacity so that the presenter can look directly at the audience. This will increase engagement and trust. Another alternative is to embed very quick, brief videos on the slide to demonstrate your point.

Design Peer-to-Peer Learning. Make use of break out rooms online. This allows you to assign learners to small groups to discuss concepts and create new ideas. Adults want to participate and control their learning. As the facilitator you can listen in on each group while they can only hear the members of their small group. When finished, you can bring back participants to share their learning.

Virtual doesn't have to be boring or detached. To deliver winning webinars, consider these seven tips when converting your presentation to the web.

Boring to Brilliant Public Speaking: Make Dry Topics Dynamic

actor-666499__180There are no boring topics-only boring speakers. Just about every audience and coaching client has heard me make that statement about public speaking. Recently, a client proved my theory at a corporate conference. He and his team were charged with creating a panel presentation to introduce the new compliance directives and expectations. Are you falling asleep yet? If you were a public speaker would you be panicking about how to keep people's attention? Unless the topic of compliance is your passion, or you're a trained actor, you'd be wondering how on earth you could possibly make this subject dynamic and interesting. But they did! Here's how:

The presenters wrapped a Star Wars theme around compliance. The presentation began with a Star Wars- like graphic slide complete with music and scrolling text.They substituted compliance terms into the text about the challenges of the galaxy.

After the slide faded to dark, the presenters walked on stage. When the lights went up the audience saw the panelists standing with lasers. The moderator walked center stage and spoke his opening line directly to the audience. But wait. There was more.

As the panelists were seated, the moderator looked around in surprise One of the panelists was missing. After much curiosity, the last panelist entered as Princess Leia dressed in white. She appeared as an imaginary hologram portending the future and then left the stage. She returned as herself and took her seat. By this time the audience was laughing, engaged, and revved up.

The panel discussion continued smoothly as the audience was truly primed to listen. Midway during the panel, to avoid any monotony, the panel called  R2D2, complete with sound effects in one of the slides. The moderator then announced a Question and Answer session.

And.just when you thought it was safe to be boring, the first questioner turned out to be Darth Vader in costume. He caused a commotion with his comments and his laser and was quickly escorted out by "security". The panel ended on a high note I'm sure it will be talked about for some time to come.

So what can we learn from this creative approach to a dry topic?

Wrap a dry topic in a dynamic, familiar theme. Movie and book titles are good sources for ideas.

Use music and sound effects to create excitement and emotion. This is especially potent when the audience recognizes a theme song. It can be as brief as a chorus or refrain.

Create visual interest. Props, graphics, and costumes are an alternative to slides. A prop can be a dollar bill or it can be people from the audience. The idea is to stimulate all the senses.

Trigger the element of surprise. The audience was not expecting Princess Leia and Darth Vader to appear in the audience. A simple magic trick or quick poll can be the source of the unexpected or unknown.

Leverage technology. Presenters don't have to rely exclusively on PowerPoint. Videotape an interview or talk to a remote site using live streaming.

Have fun. What made a boring topic exciting is that the presenters were having fun. Nothing engages an audience like laughter. When you're having fun, you abandon fear and become fully present in the moment and with the audience.

And that means never being boring again.

10 Steps to Confidence

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Why do we spend years on developing competence when research proves that CONFIDENCE trumps COMPETENCE? Because we falsely believe that it's our smarts and not our hearts that get us to the top. So how do you learn confidence?  Here are 10 steps to confidence.

  1. Clear. Get clear about who you are as a person and get clear about your presentation outcome. Clarity is the first step to confidence. Focus on your message and establish a benchmark for achieving your presentation outcome.
     
  2. Other-Centered. Nervousness is self-centeredness. Turn your attention away from you and toward your audience. Ask, "How can I serve them?" "How can I make them comfortable." Do a deep dive into the minds of your listeners. When you profile your audience, you'll speak their language, create rapport, and you'll feel more prepared.
     
  3. Natural. There is only one you. You have your own unique style. Don't set out to give a presentation. Be conversational and be yourself. If you're not funny, don't tell a joke. Share something personal and the audience will relate to you.
     
  4. Free from Judgment. Eliminate your need for perfection and stop" shoulding" on yourself. Monitor your self-talk. When you begin the presentation, imagine success. When you finish the presentation, give yourself credit for the things you did well. Confidence develops over time and in a positive atmosphere. Mohammed Ali said "I am the greatest," before he was ever a champion
     
  5. Improvise. Public speakers who are wedded to their scripts can be easily caught off guard if they lose their place or if there is a technical glitch. Learning to improvise will boost your confidence. When disaster strikes  embrace it instead of freezing in place. Prepare your recovery strategy with ad-lib lines.
     
  6. Design. Confident delivery sits on well-designed structure. Confidence begins before you ever open your mouth. It starts with good organization. Good structure will keep you focused and on message, And your audience will be able to follow your points.
     
  7. Enthusiastic Enthusiasm sells. When you're excited, you forget your nervousness. Speak from your passion and you'll find your energy increases. Raise your energy by doing something physical. Move around the room. Get louder. Use more gestures.Enthusiasm is contagious and your audience will be excited along with you.
     
  8. Network. Do you feel like the naked speaker up there all alone? To gain confidence network before you speak. Get to the room early and practice. As people enter, greet each person with a smile and a handshake. By the time it's your turn to speak you'll be in the company of friends.
     
  9. Concise. A speech can quickly unravel if the speaker gets stuck in the weeds of details. To feel confident, get to the point. Create crisp message points and build examples around each point. Instead of rolling their eyes, the audience will hang on your every word.
     
  10. Engaging. It's hard to feel confident when you're a talking head. Give fewer facts and tell more stories. Why are stories so powerful? Stories draw the audience in,  break down resistance and entice them open to your message. Stories make your message memorable. And here's the bonus point.. A story has a natural sequence so you don't have to worry about losing your train of thought. Simply tell the story. Be in the story and your audience will be engaged.

Is Amy Cuddy's Wonder Woman Pose A Fraud?

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ellevate presentationMy colleague TJ Walker challenged the validity of Harvard professor, Amy Cuddy's power pose. Amy Cuddy has one of the most popular youtube videos on body language. She advises people to adopt the Wonder Woman pose (hands on hips) to feel powerful when speaking in public. In TJ's twitter post today, he disputes this claim and calls it a fraud. Here's my opinion. The power pose was recommended to assuage public speaking fear. It's based on neuroscience research and when this pose is held for 2 minutes, there is an increase in testosterone. Higher levels of the hormone, testosterone, are found in those who are risk takers.

What was novel was that there was Harvard research backing up her claims. Do I think she's a fraud? No. Unless the research is flawed, it's helpful to have a technique to increase confidence. And there is a body language of confidence. The mind-body connection is widely accepted.

However, as an executive speech coach who works with women leaders and male executives, I don't claim that this one pose is a panacea for public speaking fear, nor does it make you a knockout presenter. TJ makes several good points. Amy Cuddy had a compelling story, a strong structure to her speech, and good visuals. I always tell my clients that great delivery sits on great structure. Your presentation delivery is only as good as your organization. Public speaking success is 90% preparation and 10% delivery.

A client recently hired me for four hours to work on a 15 minute high stakes presentation. That did not include the time she spent with the graphic designer.

So to feel confident, the first step is preparation, planning, and a good, strong message. Presenters need to master their minds as well as their skill set. Does it help to use the power pose? Probably. I teach it to audiences. It makes them feel powerful. But it's not the whole story. There are other physical skills I give them. But I do believe that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind.

So as long as presenters prepare and practice their message, why not strike a pose and feel powerful?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc

Stay on Message Without Being Scripted

manuscript-547042_640In a Republican debate, Senator Marco Rubio had emerged as a great orator and touted his third place standing as a win. There was a lot of buzz about Rubio and he was riding high despite being number three. So it was no surprise that he walked into the next debate confident and expecting more of the same. And then it happened. Governor Chris Christie hammered him. Christie came down hard on Rubio for reciting his message point for a third time and accused him of being scripted. It didn't go well for Rubio and Christie won that round.

How can the skill of staying focused and on message be to the detriment of a public speaker? As a speaking strategist and media trainer, I advise my clients to know their message and to stay on message. This is especially important in a media interview. A skilled media guest will lead with key messages and weave them throughout the interview.

The red flag is when the presenter doesn't answer the question and defaults to a message that doesn't follow the line of questioning. What should Rubio have done? Answer the question to the best of his ability without repeating the same message point again.

Most of us won't be running for office or even presenting in a formal debate. But we will need to persuade, convince, and inform our stakeholders. I advise audiences and clients to familiarize, don't memorize. When a public speaker repeats the same points too close together and uses the exact same words, that's when authenticity is lost. That sounds scripted.

The first mistake is reading a manuscript word-for-word. It takes a special skill and much practice to deliver the words so it doesn't sound like you're reading text. Some scientific lecturers stand and read their research. I told them, "I can read as well as you." Why would anybody want to listen to the reading of a research paper?

The second mistake is memorizing word-for-word. Even though the presenter is not reading, it's obvious the message is not natural.

When I first started out in the speaking business, I worked for a seminar company. At the end of every seminar my manager and I would read the reviews. To my surprise, someone wrote, "Diane, though, helpful, sounded canned."  Yikes! Put a stake in my heart. But I realized that I had memorized the script they gave me and I sounded like a talking head. With practice, I learned how to sound conversational and make the content natural.

Audiences are more sophisticated than ever. They want to hear a subject matter expert and not a presenter giving a book report. They want to know you're authentic. You achieve that by preparing your message, practicing your message, and listening for when to divert from the message. It's in listening that we become truly authentic.

And the Best Speaker Is....

speakers-129535__180Speaking is a leadership skill. Period. It's difficult to lead if you can't convey a clear, compelling message that inspires and moves people to action. Last night the candidates eagerly awaited the results of the Iowa Caucus. It was a tight race with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders almost tied. But the real winner was the orator of the night-Marco Rubio.

While Ted Cruz came in first, his victory speech was too long, too analytical, and not inspiring. I kept changing the station in search of commentator's reviews. Each time I toggled back, there was Ted, still droning on. This was a lost opportunity to inspire and build excitement for the next race. I didn't remember much of his speech.

Donald Trump came in a close second. The usually pompous, bombastic Trump took it down a notch and gave a gracious concession speech. He thanked and acknowledged the people of Iowa and congratulated Ted Cruz. This was a different Donald Trump and he won points in building trust with his followers. He kept his remarks brief and didn't make excuses. This was a model for losing gracefully and yet not giving up. In keeping with his entrepreneurial personality, he cut his losses quickly and moved on to the next phase.

The real stand-out was Marco Rubio who was neck-in-neck with Mr. Trump. While his speech was well-prepared, his words and delivery were passionate and heartfelt. He stayed on message with his immigrant story, his family values, and the need to conquer the competing party. We could relate to his classic hero's journey. " This is the moment they said would never happen. For months they told us we had no chance. They said I had to wait my  turn". . Although his speech was criticized for sounding much like Obama's speech back in 2012, he left his constituents inspired, exhilarated, and confident in his leadership. Rubio turned a third place result into a victory speech.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was at her best. Her fire was not only in her belly but on display in her eyes. She also gave a victory speech even though the results were too close to call. Mrs. Clinton connected with her audience and carried her enthusiasm with her as she exited the stage.

Bernie Sanders, although older than Clinton, communicates energy. He, too, was impassioned in his delivery. The young people not only fed off his message of free college and taxing Wall Street, but his energy and strong conviction connected with this audience. He regarded the evening as a tie with Clinton and expressed confidence in winning New Hampshire. Energy sells.

Will the best speaker win? Not necessarily.There's more to winning a political race than public speaking. But excellent presentation skills will elevate a candidate's leadership, enhance the brand, inspire trust and confidence. Words well written and delivered with absolute conviction and passion will always linger in the hearts and minds of the listeners.

 

When the Previous Speaker Steps on your Lines

hand-977641__180It's a public speaker's worst nightmare. You spent hours crafting and preparing your message. You targeted the message to the right audience. You're  waiting in the wings as you listen to the speaker right before you. And then it happens. The presenter says in the opening what you were going to say. And that's followed up with a similar statistic that you planned to cite. What's a presenter supposed to do?

This happened to a friend of mine a few years ago. He was speaking at a conference. His presentation was scheduled for day two. He arrived the day before and decided in sit in and listen to some of the presentations. It was a good thing he did! To his amazement, one of the early speakers started speaking about the same sports hero that my friend planned to talk about. And the quotes and statistics were similar. He  panicked as he felt all his hard work going down the drain.

Fortunately,time was on his side. He left the meeting, rushed back to his room and started rewriting his speech. The presentation was a success but not without a lot of angst. He learned two important lessons:

Arrive at the conference early and listen to the other speeches. Tell your own stories. Nobody can duplicate what is unique to you.

A similar experience happened to me. I was invited along with two other women to give a 5 minute presentation for a fundraiser. The first woman was the founder of the charity and her talk clearly didn't compete with mine. The second speaker was from the medical field so I didn't expect there would be any overlap. Was I wrong!

As she started talking about her topic, she mentioned the same fact I had planned to cite. And then she followed up with a statistic that was similar to mine. I kept a poker face but inside my jaw was dropping. My mind was racing. It was too late to change my opening so instead of resisting it I included it. I stepped up to the platform and led with my original opening line. Then I said, "As the first speaker said, it's important to ...." It worked. An audience needs to hear a message more than once so I reiterated the value of what she said as I transitioned to my prepared tips.

My learning? If two speakers are presenting on the same topic but from different disciplines, it's important to talk to each other. If a scientist and artist are talking about communication, their perspectives may be different. But it doesn't mean they won't come up with a similar quote, anecdote, or metaphor.

At some point, a presenter may unintentionally step on your lines It could be a co-worker at a meeting, or during a major presentation. To prevent someone from stepping on your lines,

  • Arrive early to the meeting and listen to the presenters on the agenda.
  • Tell your own stories.Nobody has your personal experience.
  • When speaking on the same topic, call the other presenters to ensure there is little overlap.
  • If somebody does use your line, either delete it or include it by crediting the other speaker.

Use these tips and you'll be able to step up instead of being stepped on.

 

What's Your Presentation Worth?

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It doesn't matter whether it's a raise, a promotion, or a large capital expenditure. Public speaking pays. Are you losing money every time you speak? Do you know why? You can be dressed to the nines, but a Brooks Brothers suit won't help if your presentation doesn't match your million dollar look. I remember the first time I met Cathy (not her real name). Her manager, a Vice-President, called me in to coach her. Cathy was having difficulty getting promoted.

When I met Cathy, I was surprised. She could have been on the cover of Forbes magazine. Cathy exuded executive presence visually. The challenge was when she presented her ideas to senior management, she immediately lost credibility. By not presenting a strong recommendation, and using uptalk and wimpy words, Cathy's value was diminished. As a result of my coaching, she learned to speak powerfully and was promoted to VP. Now that's a return on investment.

Another client of mine was a CEO of a multi national healthcare company. His challenge was to convince management to invest in a  $300 million facility in Europe. It would take 5 years from beginning construction to licensed facility. Clinical trials for a vaccine were 3 years away. This was an investment with high risk. He didn't even know if the vaccine would work. The CEO's presentation had to be clear, understandable, and effective in persuading management that the risk was worth it. The CEO got the funding. The facility was built. The product sold over $1 billion per year.

He said, “Without that presentation and convincing the executive committee to invest, we wouldn’t have the product.” That's MAJOR ROI!

Speaking leads to influence and influence leads to success. It's about how you articulate your value. How much money is left on the table due to a weak presentation?  A family member worked for a doctor's office handling insurance claims. She wanted a raise but wasn't having success. She realized the claims were being denied because they contained the wrong codes.

So she diligently nudged the doctors to apply the correct codes and helped them to do just that. The result was that fewer claims were being rejected. I howled, "You mean to tell me they are collecting on more claims because of you? You're directly impacting their bottom line! You're increasing their cash flow! Tell them that." She did, and she got her raise. Again, there is an ROI from effective presentations.

It doesn't matter whether you seek a raise, a promotion, or approval on a large capital expenditure: public speaking pays. The payoffs for you, the speaker, are increasing sales, earning a raise, getting a promotion, receiving investor capital, and more. And when you have excellent presentation skills you may even be paid to speak. Ka Ching Ka Ching.

Are you in the middle of a merger? Are you launching a new product? Do you have to give a presentation to your sales force?  You won't have a second chance. When your presentation is make or break, contact DiResta Communications, Inc.

Public Speaking Lessons from The Big Short

grid-871475__180What's the one word that's the kiss of death for most presentations? No, it's not BORING. Boring is the outcome. What makes a presentation boring?

The word is ... COMPLEXITY. An audience often dreads having to listen to  technical or financial topics because they  expect to be confused and bored. The technical speaker does have a bigger challenge than most public speakers because of the complex nature of their information.

How does a public speaker use the  KISS formula (keep it short and simple) for technical or financial topics? Let's look to Hollywood to find the answer.

I recently saw the movie The Big Short which is about the U.S. housing crisis that caused the financial collapse of 2008.  Imagine having to explain the financial products and intricacies of mortgages to the average person..How exciting is that?  Yet the movie did a masterful job of simplifying the message, keeping it interesting, and making it stick.

There were at least four presentation techniques that the movie used to explain a complicated topic in a manner that anyone could understand

Set the Stage: Introduce the Problem and Characters The movie began by identifying the origin of the problem long before there was a financial crisis by introducing the man who created Mortgaged Backed Securities. Ask yourself as a a technical speaker, Am I able to introduce the problem and the players in a couple of simple sentences at the beginning of the presentation?

Tell stories. A big mistake in technical public speaking  is to spout a lot of data and hard facts. In the film, the audience learned how events unfolded by watching a well told story.Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Good stories are visual. The speaker creates word pictures that create an experience for the listeners. As a technical speaker, do you allow the audience to learn the sequence of events by telling the story?

Use analogies.The best way to simplify a complex subject is to use metaphors and analogies.The filmmaker created a clever clip of the chef, Anthony Bordain who was cooking a fish stew. He likened Mortgage Backed Securities to having three day old fish.

You can no longer sell the fish because it's not fresh. But you don't want to throw it away and lose money. So you chop it up and add it to the seafood stew. You now have a new product you can sell. Just like the fish stew, the Mortgage Backed Security is a product that contains valued mortgages along with some subprime worthless mortgages thrown in. As a technical speaker, do you employ comparisons, analogies, and metaphors to help the audience relate the content to what they already know? Do you use video clips to demonstrate the concept?

Connect with the Audience. There's a concept in acting called the Fourth Wall. It's the imaginary wall in the front of the stage where the audience sees the action.The actors perform as if they don't see the audience.  In the film, the actors break the fourth wall. That is, they get out of character and speak directly to the camera as if they know the audience is watching. It's often done to explain what 's going on in the scene. As a technical speaker, do you TALK AT the audience or do you share a personal experience? Do you break through the fourth wall of formal speaking to show your humanity? Do you engage in self-disclosure?

What if you're not a filmmaker? Can you accomplish this level of simplicity as a technical speaker?

One of my clients said, "My topic is boring. I speak about compliance,' to which I said, "There are no boring topics-only boring speakers. In the movie The Big Short, the writers  made the housing crisis fascinating and explained financial instruments simply and clearly so that anybody could understand them.

And now technical speakers can take a lesson from their playbook. Use these four techniques to simplify complex content and engage your audience until the very end.