Ethan Rotman

Archive for the ‘Delivery’ Category

PowerPoint Pitfalls…

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets on July 7, 2010 at 9:36 pm

and How to “Purge” Them From Your Presentations     

by Jon K. Hooper, Ph.D.         

guest author for iSpeakEASY           

         

(This is a series to help enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Each edition pinpoints pitfalls that are commonly faced when planning, preparing, and presenting PowerPoint shows.)                 

       

Pitfall #3: “Accepting PowerPoint’s Defaults”    

Remember the last time you bought a backpack? You slipped it over your shoulders then adjusted the straps so the pack fit your body. You did not just accept the default positions of the straps. PowerPoint comes with the “straps” present; it is up to you to adjust them to fit your presentation style and goals.           

   

Pitfall: Using a “serif” font. The default font for PowerPoint shows is usually Times New Roman. While this is an excellent font for the printed page, the font’s serifs or finishing strokes (such as the feet on a capital “A”) make it difficult to read on a screen. A “sans serif” font (one without serifs) is better for projected visuals because it is easier for audience members to read at a distance.             

To purge the pitfall: Switch to a sans serif font such as Arial or Helvetica.            

Use sans serif fonts to make your slides easier to read

Pitfall:  Accepting default placement of text boxes. The designers of PowerPoint’s templates simply “take a stab” at the positioning of text placeholders (aka “text boxes”). They have no way of knowing exactly what position will create the most aesthetically appealing and properly balanced design for your situation because they do not know how many words, bullet points, etc. you’ll put into the text placeholders. Think of PowerPoint’s templates as blueprints. When designing your dream house, you would always tweak the architect’s initial blueprint. Do the same with PowerPoint’s templates.          

To purge the pitfall: Reposition text boxes to enhance the aesthetic appeal of slides. In the example shown in Figure 2, the default placement of the text box for the bullet points did not provide enough of an “aesthetic margin” on the left side of the image (i.e., the bullet points are simply too close to the left edge). Moving the text box a bit to the right really improved the design of the slide.            

Move text boxes to improve the aesthetics

Pitfall: Accepting default template backgrounds.  You wouldn’t hire a new employee that is “close enough” rather one that is “right on.” The same holds true when selecting a PowerPoint template. Don’t accept a PowerPoint template when you know in the back of your mind that there is one or more aspect of its background that needs tweaking.            

To purge the pitfall:  Learn how to edit the “Slide Master” so you can delete or alter distracting background elements. The example below shows an overall design and color scheme that is fine, yet the key on the left side of the template simply doesn’t relate to the message the slide is trying to transmit. Simply deleting the key solves the problem.            

Change your backgrounds to fit your message

Final Thoughts   PowerPoint’s designers set up the program to meet a majority of peoples’ needs. This doesn’t mean that the program’s defaults will meet your needs. Enhance your shows and make them stand out by tweaking the defaults a bit. Your audiences will appreciate your efforts.           

Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping natural and cultural resource professionals enhance the effectiveness of their communication efforts. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting.  jonkhooper@hotmail.com.            

For workshops on improving your presentations, visit www.iSpeakEASY.net. We help you profit from your words.

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On Communication

In Delivery, Organization, Public Speaking, Social Media on July 1, 2010 at 9:33 pm

 

Do not assume that because we have phones, faxes, email, websites, social media, snail mail, FedEx, Blackberries, iPhones, voice mail and cell phones that any communication is occurring!

Common Sayings Revisited

In Attracting New Clients, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery on June 28, 2010 at 7:48 pm

by Jim Nelson of the American Associate of Physic Teachers

When coaching people to speak well, the rule of thumb is to say things as simply as possible. Use short words that mean the same thing as their longer counterparts. This article does the opposite: it takes common sayings that we all know and dresses them up to make them more difficult for the lay person to understand.

How many of these can you decode? 

1.          Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid manikin.

2.          Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate.

3.          It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine with innovative maneuvers.

4.          All articles that coruscate with esplendence are not truly auriferous.

5.          Where there are visible vapors having their prevalence in ignited carbonaceous materials, there is conflagration.

6.          A revolving lithic conglomerate accumulates no congeries of a small green bryophytic plant.

7.          Neophyte’s serendipity.

8.          Elementary sartorial techniques initially applied preclude repetitive similar action to the square of 3.

9.          Surveillance should preclude saltation.

10.     Pulchritude possesses solely cutaneous profundity.

© 2010  iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. (415) 342-7106. www.iSpeakEASY.net

I Don’t Need Help With My Talk

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Organization, Public Speaking on June 24, 2010 at 8:52 pm

 Speaking Tip # 62

 I hear a lot of reasons for why people do not want help with their presentations:

  • “I don’t feel nervous in front of an audience.”
  • “I am only presenting to my peers.”
  • “It is just a staff meeting.”
  • “I know my subject.”
  • “I took public speaking in college.”
  • “I use PowerPoint.”
  • “I don’t use PowerPoint.”
  • “I did not have time to prepare so I will just wing it.”

 

After their talk, speakers often justify why they are sure they did not need help:

  • “I was not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.”
  • “No one threw fruit “(yes, they really say this to me!).
  • “My friends said I did a good job.”
  • “They laughed and clapped, they must have liked it.”
  • “There were no questions.”
  • “It felt pretty good – I think I did okay.”

 

This is all good except nervousness is not a gauge of effectiveness, people don’t really throw fruit (at least in this country), your friends tend to say you do well, and not asking questions probably means they want the fastest way out of the room.

An effective presentation is one where you meet the objectives you set before you spoke.

  • In sales, this may mean an increase in closed sales.
  • In management, this may mean changing employee behavior.
  • As a scientist, this may mean increasing support for your project.
  • As a parent, this may mean a reduction in household tension.
  • In non-profits, this may mean more money and volunteers to accomplish your mission.

Before you plan your next talk, write down the answer to this question: “When I am done, what do I want my audience to do?”

Plan the talk with this answer as your target and you improve the chance you will reach your objective.

Knowing your target makes it much easier to hit

© 2010  iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. (415) 342-7106. www.iSpeakEASY.net

A Platform To Stand On

In Attracting New Clients, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, Public Speaking on May 7, 2010 at 9:51 am
Speaking Tip 34

This is what it feels like to have a good introduction...

Imagine standing to speak and having all eyes on you: the audience leaning forward in anticipation of your first words. They are convinced you are an expert. They know what you have to say is important to them. All of this has happened before you have uttered a word. It is as if you have stepped onto a platform of acceptance and credibility.

These are the benefits of a strong introduction delivered by a host. Your introduction is a pivotal part of your presentation – it sets the stage for your topic and builds your credibility with the audience.

When you tell of your qualifications – it sounds boastful. However, when another person speaks the same words, it builds your credibility. This word of mouth advertising tells the audience you are worthy of their attention. The power of your introduction increases when the host is a member of the group you are addressing.

A good introduction covers your qualifications, goal of your talk, and the benefits of listening to you. A testimonial or personal story is appropriate if the host has prior experience with you. It is your job to provide a biography to your host prior to your talk. It should be tailored to the audience, short and easy to read. Include professional and personal attributes as the audience may find both interesting.

The introduction is the time when logistical issues (e.g. location of the bathrooms, length of talk) should be covered thus allowing you to focus only on your topic.

...and this is how you will feel when you start speaking.

Use the time during the introduction gather your thoughts and take a breath. Stand at the back of the room, or if you are at a conference table, remain seated until the introduction is complete. You will be amazed at how good it feels to hear someone introduce you. You will feel your confidence soar.

The stage is set for you – use that opening moment to “wow” your audience with your first words. Use a strong, dramatic opening to capture and hold attention. If the host has made an error about your qualifications or history – ignore it, at least for now.

 

Imagine having a platform of credibility to stand on when you begin to speak. Imagine having the audience primed and ready to absorb your every word. Boost your confidence and credibility by creating a strong bio and selecting the right person to introduce you.

© 2008 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. Please request permission to re-post. Links are encouraged.

The Value of Iron

In Attracting New Clients, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on April 20, 2010 at 9:35 pm

Speaking Tip 33

A bar of iron is worth about $5. Take that iron and turn it into horseshoes and it increases in value to $10 even though the raw materials are still the same. Take that same bar of iron and make it into screwdrivers and the value goes up to about $250. If you make needles with the iron, the value rises to $3,000 and if you turn it into balance springs for watches the value soars to $250,000.

The material is still the same limited quantity of metal but the way it is used, the end product, is quite different. The information and knowledge you possess is similar to iron. Its value is based on what you do with it, not the face value of the raw material itself.

What are you going to do with the information you have to increase its value? What can you say or do that will take the information you have come to life for you listener? How can you present it so that it morphs from raw data into something useful and inspiring to your audience? It is the audience’s perception of your words that makes them valuable, not the value you place on them.

In this “age of information” we live in, information is cheap while knowledge remains invaluable. The goal is to take information and present it in a manner that makes your audience say “Wow!”

Use your passion to make your data come to life for your listener. Plan your presentation, determine your singular main message, outline your 3-5 key points, create visual aids that help make your point and you are on the way to turning your bar of iron into watch springs.

The knowledge and experience you possess, that you try to convey to your audience, is worth little until you learn to present it in a fashion that is of interest to others. If you can make what you know relevant to others, the value of your information skyrockets.

  © 2008 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  We help you profit from your words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

Put the “YOU” before the “I”

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Credibility, Delivery, Organization on April 10, 2010 at 11:11 am

 Speaking Tip 26

Work, family, hobbies, vacation, religion, politics, sexuality – what is your favorite thing to talk about? While not everyone will admit it – most people’s choice is themselves. Likewise, the topic we find most interesting to listen to is again, ourselves.

Use this to your advantage when trying to capture the attention of your audience. Tell them something you know about them, a quality you admire, or an obstacle they have overcome. Cite the good work they have done or acknowledge their efforts – in a sincere and honest manner. Talk about them before you talk about yourself.

This technique helps grab the audience’s attention and encourages them to listen to you. It is amazing how engaging it is to hear a person talk about us! Many speakers begin by listing their own credentials and experiences – which most audiences find far less interesting.

Have you ever been in a crowded room full of noise when suddenly you hear one word above the roar – that word is your name? Your ears perk up and you focus on finding out who said it. It is the one topic that we are always interested in hearing about – regardless of our mood or what else is going on.

In a speech to a group of volunteers, Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom began by talking about the importance of volunteerism, the benefits to the volunteer, and the difference in the world these people are making. He could have talked about his efforts spearheading this program or the accomplishments of his administration but instead he spoke to the audience about the audience and in doing so, gained their attention, their support, and their loyalty.

A great way to grab and hold your audience’s attention is to speak about something near and dear to them. For example, when speaking to a decision making body (such as a city council) –begin by acknowledging the work the council does in creating a better civic life, When speaking to a potential client acknowledge their successes and the challenges they face.

The next time you are getting ready to speak – put “you” into your sentence before you say “I.” It takes effort to do this, almost as if it is unnatural, but you can learn to do this effectively in a short amount of time.

© 2007 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

Like Filler in a Hot Dog for Writers

In Delivery, Organization on March 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm

By guest author Alan Leftridge   

Alan Leftridge leads writing workshops

Writers sometimes use one or more extra words or phrases that seem to modify the meaning of a noun but do not add to the meaning of the sentence. Although these words or phrases can seem meaningful in the interpretive text, they are often just “fillers” and should be eliminated.   

Wordy Example  For all intents and purposes, American industrial productivity in the 20th Century generally depended on certain factors that are really more psychological in kind than of any given technological aspect.  

Concise rewrite  Twentieth Century American industrial productivity depended more on psychological than on technological factors. Here is a list of common words and phrases to eliminate to be concise:   

  • kind of
  • particular 
  • the field of
  • sort of
  • definitely
  • the sum of 
  • type of
  • actually
  • the study of
  • specific
  • generally
  • the fact is that 
  • really
  • individual 
  • it is 
  • basically

   

Replace vague prepositional phrases with simpler words:  

  • in order to                                 to
  • a lot of                                      many 
  • in regard to                               about
  • at this time                               now
  • in the interest of                       for

   

Many pairs of words imply each other. Finish implies complete, so the phrase completely finish is redundant, in most cases. Here are some more redundant pairs:   

  • past memories 
  • terrible tragedy
  • various differences 
  • end result
  • each individual
  • final outcome 
  • basic fundamentals
  • free gift
  • true facts 
  • past history
  • important essentials 
  • unexpected surprise 
  • future plans
  • sudden crisis
  • advance planning
  • join together 
  • general overview
  • mutual cooperation 
  • other alternative
  • two different kinds 

  

Specific words imply their general categories, so we do not have to state both, like:  

  • large in size in a confused state
  • often times
  • unusual in nature
  • of a bright color
  • extreme in degree
  • heavy in weight
  • of an uncertain condition
  • period of time
  • honest in character 

  

This is a guest post by Alan Leftridge of Swan Valley, Montana. Alan teaches writing skills, has authored more than 100 articles on writing and has published 4 books. He can be contacted  at leftridge@blackfoot.net or www.leftridge.com.  

All rights reserved. Reprinted with permssion.

Like Filler in a Hot Dog

In Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Mannerisms/Habits, Public Speaking on March 18, 2010 at 7:54 am

Some words are like filler in a hot dog.

Speaking Tip # 58

Do you ever notice the words and phrases people use that have no meaning? They struggle to find something to say and throw in things that take up space but mean nothing. Words such as: 

  • Obviously
  • Let me begin by saying
  • Clearly
  • Honestly
  • As you can see
  • Really
  • Well
  • Um
  • Ah
  • In fact
  • As ‘so and so’ just said
  • In addition
  • Let me say that
  • So anyway
  • Before we begin
  • As you already know
  • Actually
  • Right

These phrases are like filler in a hot dog – they offer nothing more than bulk. There is no nutritional value or meaning. They do take up space though.

These words seem silly when read in a list, but listen for them as people around you speak. A few of these words or phrases sprinkled in a conversation may have little effect and in some cases, they may be appropriate. Most of the time, they convey a single message: The speaker does not know what to say. This hurts your credibility.

A confident demeanor demonstrates you are an expert in your field. It shows that you know what you are doing and, have the experience required to make a wise statement.

If you find yourself feeling nervous or unsure what to say, use a pause to buy you time to think. Silence is a powerful and loud tool that demonstrates you are thoughtful and credible. It buys you time to think while building your credibility.

Listen to others speak: are they using filler? If they do, how do you react when they use it? What is the impression you get when you hear them? Watch other audience members to see their reactions as well. Look at the speaker and see if you can ascertain their emotions while they do this. Do you sense confidence or panic?

It is good to speak when you have something to say. If you have nothing to say, rather than use filler, just say nothing.

 (if you have a word you like to add to the list, post it under comments. I will compile them a post the updated list)

© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

There Is A Chance Of It Being A Definite Possibility

In Attracting New Clients, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on March 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

The real goal here is to avoid using words that make you sound like you’re reading, instead of talking — that shatter the image you’re speaking knowledgeably to one person. By not using ‘newsspeak,’ you enhance your reputation as a communicator.”

 These are the works of Tribune CEO Randy Michaels in a memo issues to staff this week.

Michaels is trying to help his radio staff sound professional by forcing them to avoid words and phrases that mean next to nothing. A few of my favorites are listed below and I encourage you to read the entire article at http://blogs.vocalo.org/feder/2010/03/memo-puts-wgn-news-staffers-at-a-loss-for-words/17374.

 Next week, I will post a list of phrases speakers (as opposed to newscasters) commonly use that mean very little. You can see how many of them are in your vocabulary. 

  • “Good” or “bad” news
  •  “Some” meaning “about”
  • “Two to one margin” . . . “Two to one” is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points. It’s not a ratio.
  •  “Youth” meaning “child”
  • 5 a.m. in the morning
  • Alleged
  • Area residents
  • As expected
  • At risk
  • At this point in time
  • Bare naked
  • Behind bars
  • Behind the podium (you mean lectern) [sic]
  • Best kept secret
  • Clash with police
  • Close proximity
  • Complete surprise
  • Definitely possible
  • Dubbaya when you mean double you
  • Everybody (when referring to the audience)
  • False pretenses
  • Famed
  • Fatal death
  • Giving 110%
  • Going forward
  • In a surprise move
  • In harm’s way
  • Informed sources say . . .
  • Literally
  • Medical hospital
  • Mute point. (It’s moot point, but don’t say that either)
  • Near miss
  • Perfect storm
  • Really
  • Reportedly
  • Senseless murder
  • Sketchy details
  • Sources say . . .
  • Speaking out
  • The fact of the matter
  • Untimely death
  • Utilize (you mean use)
  • Went terribly wrong