Ethan Rotman

Archive for the ‘New Techniques’ Category

The Power Of A Pause

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques on September 19, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Speaking Tip #20

Have you ever looked at a garden of flowers all of one color? It can be quite pretty. If  however that same garden is accented with flowers of a contrasting color – the garden becomes beautiful. While purple flowers are nice, red flowers next to them provide accent and contrast that allow purple to shine.

The same can be said for the value of silence during a presentation. Speakers often feel they need to fill the room with sound, but properly placed silence in the form of a pause adds emphasis to the words being spoken.

Too often speakers associate silence with failure on their part – after all, they are the speaker and their job is to speak. The reality is their job is not to speak, but to make a point. Including moments of quiet adds emphasis to their words and allows the audience to digest what they have heard. When we read, pauses are built in – they take the form of a period or a paragraph break.

Many speakers are afraid of silence and increase the speed of talking to avoid even a moment of quiet. When you are the one in front of a group, even a few seconds of silence may seem long and unbearable – but to the audience it feels comfortable.

In speaking, silence in the room can be a positive thing as it allows the audience to catch up with the speaker (remember, the speaker already understands the point –the audience may not). Silence allows time to think or to formulate an answer to a question asked.

Incorporate silence and pauses into your talk to create emphasis and add drama. The next time you speak, state your point and let it hang over the room while you silently count to five. Ask a question and wait for the audience to answer.

Adding space between your words and your thoughts will help the audience better understand your point and will improve your effectiveness as a speaker. Remember, it often takes an opposite to emphasize something. Stars are brighter when the sky is dark, traffic is always slower after you have been driving quickly, and a fire is warmest on a cold day. Give your audience the opportunity to experience well placed silence in the midst of your talk.

 

© 2007 iSpeakEASY – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY: We Help People Profit From Their Words.

 You are welcome to link to this page. If you wish to reprint or repost this article, please email us for permission. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

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Preparing For The End

In Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Mannerisms/Habits, New Techniques, Public Speaking on September 1, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Imagine making it through the first 26 grueling miles of a marathon and tripping and falling just before the finish line. How frustrating! All the preparation, all the work, all the sweat and you never reach your goal.

Oddly enough, this is where many presenters fail – at the end. They do a fine job of preparing, creating great graphics, practicing, presenting and then lose credibility during the most useful and treacherous part of the talk – the question and answer period.

During all other parts of your presentation, the speaker controls the content but during the question and answer period, the audience has the advantage. Whether speaking to a large audience or one-on-one, preparing for questions will help you maintain your credibility.

Tips for success:

  • Brainstorm questions you may be asked and practice your responses.  Ask others what questions they think might be asked. Keep your answers short and to the point.
  • Allow your host to field questions from the audience as this will diffuse potential hostility.
  • Repeat or paraphrase questions back to the person asking. This affords you time to think, insures you answer the right question and tells the entire audience what question you are answering.
  • Listen. Many speakers cut off the question before the person asking has finished.
  • Watch the person who asked the question while you speak. This will help them feel you are speaking to them and will provide you with feedbacks on your answer.
  • When you are done with a particular answer, ask if you have addressed their question.
  • Be honest when faced with a question you do not know the answer to. Encourage the person asking to write the question down so you can research it and get back to them. Try asking if some one in the audience knows the answer.
  • Prepare a closing remark for when you have finished answering the final question. You get the last word – make it count.

Whether you are talking to an audience of 1,000 or speaking one-on-one, being prepared for the questions will increase your personal credibility and help you reach your desired end.

© 2007 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. You are welcome to link to this page but reposting or printing this article require prior permission. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

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.

PowerPoint Pitfalls

In New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets, Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm

How to Purge PowerPoint Pitfalls

From Your Presentations

Volume 1

 by Jon K. Hooper, Ph.D.

Guest author for iSpeakEASY

  

 

“Oh, no, not another PowerPoint presentation!”

 

How many really good PowerPoint presentations have you seen?  Can you count them on the fingers of one hand? While PowerPoint shows can be great, they are often dreadful!  Is the problem inherent with PowerPoint or the presenter?   

PowerPoint is a wonderful communication tool when used properly. Its colorful, professional-appearing images capture and hold audience attention.  The shows are flexible and easily adapted to different audiences and situations.  PowerPoint’s animation features can diagram relationships that would be difficult to explain with words alone. PowerPoint’s hyperlinks allow interactive presentations and its multimedia capabilities make it easy to incorporate audio and video.  

The real problem is many presenters don’t know how to use PowerPoint.  They know which button to push to create a specific effect, but they don’t know when it is appropriate. When a pianist plays the wrong note, you don’t blame the piano. The same axiom holds true when a speaker hits a bad note with PowerPoint.

Presenters often get caught up in PowerPoint’s whistles and whirls without considering the accompanying problems. We’ve all seen “text takeovers” where text dominated the show and “animation atrocities” where the special effects were memorable yet the main message remained a mystery. 

This column is the first in a series aimed at helping enhance your PowerPoint presentations.  Each edition will pinpoint one or more PowerPoint pitfalls and suggest specific ways to purge them from your presentations. 

  

Pitfall #1:  Thinking the media (i.e., PowerPoint) is the message 

It’s easy to start the presentation planning process by thinking about various PowerPoint visuals and effects you’ll use in the show.  Oops!  In so doing, you’re skipping some important steps.  You should be focused on content and your audience, not PowerPoint, at this point. PowerPoint’s whistles and whirls can’t mask poorly designed content.

To purge the pitfall:

Start by developing a communication strategy based on an audience analysis. Next, brainstorm, outline, and storyboard your key points. Finally, design and produce your visuals and visual effects.

   

Pitfall #2:  Too Much Text

When 35-millimeter slide shows ruled the roost, adding text to slides was difficult, so photographs dominated shows.  When PowerPoint became king, text-only slides became the norm because adding text was often easier than hunting down, creating, and/or incorporating digital images. 

 To purge the pitfall

Visualize ideas with photos and illustrations. Use short phrases rather than complete sentences. Limit the use of bullet charts (and limit each one to five lines with six or fewer words per line). Use PowerPoint’s “animation” feature to reveal words or lines of words one at a time.

 Final Thoughts

PowerPoint does not need to lead to “presentation purgatory.” Remember that PowerPoint images are just visual aids that help you present – and your audience understand – your message. You and your message are still the key ingredients of an effective presentation.

  
 ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping professionals enhance the effectiveness of their communication. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting.  Contact Jon at jonkhooper@hotmail.com or 530-342-6045.
 
© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. Article may be reposted, tweeted or linked. Please request permission to use it in any other fashion. 

 

 

 

 

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.

Improve Your Presentations – Earn More Money From Your Networking Group

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, New Techniques, Organization, Public Speaking on April 21, 2010 at 8:32 am

 

It’s a fact that the amount of business you land and the number of referrals you receive in your networking group depends on how well you present your ideas to others. It depends on how you speak and what you say. In other words, it depends on your speaking skills.

iSpeakEASY has workshops that may help improve your speaking skills. Other people who’ve attended these session have found that they are now earning more money – and they credit what they learned in the workshops for the increased income. They’re making more money. You can, too.

Workshops that help improve your credibility and confidence when speaking.  At just $97, most people earn the investment back within weeks. 

Click here to see a workshop flier.

And, if you’d like more information, please call or send me an email. Thanks for reading this message.

Are you making enough money from membership in your networking group?

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, New Techniques, Public Speaking on March 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

It’s a fact that the number of referrals you receive in your networking group from your infomercials and 10-minute presentations – referrals you can then turn into closed business – depends on how well you present your ideas to others. It depends on how you speak and what you say. In other words, it depends on your speaking skills.

iSpeakEASY has workshops that may help improve your speaking skills. Other people who’ve attended these session have found that they are now earning more money – and they credit what they learned in the workshops for the increased income. They’re making more money. You can, too.

Workshops that help improve your credibility and confidence when speaking.  At just $97, most people earn the investment back within weeks. 

Click here to see a workshop flier.  

And, if you’d like more information, please call or send me an email. Thanks for reading this message.

All Speaking Is Public Speaking

In Attracting New Clients, BNI or other Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, Organization, Public Speaking on February 25, 2010 at 6:49 am

The most important talks tend to be to small audiences

Speaking Tip 46

 Imagine these three scenarios:

  • 1. In 2 weeks, you will make a presentation to 250 strangers in another town
  • 2.  Tomorrow, you will give an update on your project at a staff meeting
  • 3.  Today, you need to have a conversation with your spouse, child, potential client, subordinate, or supervisor

Which talk would you spend the most time preparing for? Which one would you be most likely to have with little or no preparation?  

The answers will vary from person to person but in most cases, people will spend the most amount of time preparing for the first scenario – speaking to a group of strangers. This makes sense as for most people, it puts us out of our comfort zone to speak to a large group. Smaller groups of people that we know are less threatening.  

If you consider which situation may have the most dramatic impact on your life and business, you may find you should be spending time preparing for the smaller talks. 

You may feel comfortable speaking in a one-to-one situation, but that is not a reason to not prepare. You are trying to bring about a change: elicit support for a project or idea, change a behavior, or shift an attitude. Being familiar with the topic and audience leads people into a false sense of comfort and security. In the first scenario, where most people feel the least comfortable, the stakes are generally very low: personal credibility and momentary embarrassment. In the second and third scenario, the stakes are much higher. 

In general, the smaller the audience, the more important it is for the speaker to be sharp and on task. 

The next time you have to speak to a small group or one-to-one – prepare as if it were an important presentation. Take time to determine your desired outcome. Write out how you plan on achieving that outcome. What are the 3-5 supporting points you are going to include? What visual aids can you use to help make your point? Practice. 

View every situation with the planning and foresight needed to accomplish your goals. Your credibility, success, and reputation are at stake. Do not be lured into delivering a poor performance because you feel comfortable – rather use the opportunity to excel. 

You will find your credibility and success increase. 

© 2009 – 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 training.

A Good Presentation Is All About…

In Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, Organization, Public Speaking on January 24, 2010 at 2:12 pm

In a conversation on the effective communication, Trevor Hults of Northeastern Sales & Marketing Representative at Applied Systems Technology states:

A good presentation is all about landing the plane. I’m sure we’ve all sat through presentations that started well and seemed to be going somewhere only to leave us without an answer to that critical question: “So What?” Why get on a plane if the pilot doesn’t know how to land? You just end up circling until he runs out of fuel.

Whenever preparing a presentation I always make sure to clearly outline my 1) Subject 2) Theme and 3) Proposition. The proposition is always critical and I find a way to return to it often to keep reinforcing the one point that I want everyone to walk out with and remember so when they’re at Starbucks or Stumptown Coffee Roasters three hours later they’ll remember that point and pass it on. Also, I avoid using extrinsic motivation and instead use intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation can come across as an accusation or make the speaker sound judgmental, which tends to demotivate listeners. With intrinsic motivation one taps into the innate desire most people have to succeed. For example…

Intrinsic = Be a Champion

Extrinsic = You Should Be a Champion

Finally, read Made To Stick by Dan & Chip Heath. If you are a communicator of any kind, e.g. sales, education, trainer, etc. you need to read this book.

Magical Transformations – Creating Effective Power Point Graphics

In Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets, Uncategorized on January 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

PowerPoint is so easy to use that we often believe that with a little bit of experience, we are good at it. Studies show that more than 80% of presentations are poorly done. You do not need to be a researcher though, to know that most presentations using PowerPoint are sleepers. Too often, shows are full of badly designed slides that contain too much detail and provide the audience with too little of what they really want – what it all means.

Take a look at the two slides below created by Marianne Gates.

Right off the bat – which has more eye-appeal? What is your initial reaction to each of the slides?

The objective of the slide is to demonstrate that taking a particular supplement lowers the oxidative stress level regardless of your age.

Which slide is more effective at reaching that objective?

Which are you more likely to remember?

Marianne realized the first slide contained more information than was needed. It is complex and overwhelming: audience members would not even try to understand it. Her success rate with her presentation overall was lower than she desired.

Notice the changes she made on the after slide:   

  • The graphics are clear and crisp.
  • The message is easily readable.
  • It contains only the information essential to her point.
  • Extraneous information has been eliminated.
  • The trend is clearly apparent.
  • She reinforces her point with color (red is bad and green is good).
  • She uses her words to give the context limiting the amount of information needed on the slide. 
  • (What you can not see here is the animation she uses. The slide opens with just the axis. As she talks, the red and green lines appear).

She has not cheated her audience by removing information; she has enhanced their ability to understand what she is saying.

Your graphics should be designed to help you get your message across as simply and easily as possible.

Marianne did not just “re-create” her slides. She went through a process of determining her message, laid out measurable objectives, and then created her visual aids. This was not an easy 15-minute fix. She invested money in training and many hours of time into improving her presentation. Her investment will pay off, as she will more easily and quickly reach her goals. She will save time and earn more money. She already feels more confident in her presentation, which will make her a more credible speaker.

Congratulations Marianne.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of “Tips For Effective PowerPoint Graphics”, send an email to ethan@iSpeakEASY.net with “PowerPoint Tips” in the subject line.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.