Ethan Rotman

Posts Tagged ‘Audience’

82% Of Presentations Are Mediocre

In Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on October 11, 2010 at 7:44 pm

According to audience surveys, 82% of presentations are mediocre at best – which means a good presentation stands out. Making a good presentation is not rocket science – but it does take forethought and effort.

I recently attended a conference and jotted down these notes as I watched the presentations. These tips are designed to help you be one of the 18% of speakers that stand out in a positive way. There is nothing earth shattering here but some good tips to help you get your message across.

Some of these things are so obvious they should not need to be said. Sadly though, they do.

 

 

Do not:

  • Assume you must use PowerPoint.
  • Read your slides.
  • Use text in your PowerPoint. People want to see pictures and hear words.
  • Show complex graphs and charts – simplify graphs and charts to help the audience understand the meaning, not the detail.
  • Assume the audience cares about your topic – it is your job to tell them how your topic is relevant to them.
  • End your talk by saying “questions?” or “that is all I have to say”. 

Do:

  • Start your talk with the lights on. Take time to build a relationship with your audience before you show your slides.
  • Turn the lights up fully after your slides and then give your conclusion.
  • Breathe. Smile. Make eye contact. Relax. Tell a joke.
  • Use periods and pauses in your talk. Avoid run-on sentences and paragraphs.
  • Have a clear idea of what you want your audience to know when you are through speaking
  • If you use handouts, bring enough for everyone. (Seriously, I saw a speaker who brought a single handout to pass around the room).
  • Have a strong closing statement that emphasizes your message. 

Some good phrases to avoid:

  • “I will be brief” – people that say this never are.
  • “Joe was supposed to give this talk but couldn’t make it so I am here instead” – You have just lost the audience
  • “I am NOT going to talk about…” – tell us what you ARE going to talk about
  • “I am happy to be here” – This is just filler. The audience wants to hear your message, this means very little to them.
  • “I am not a good public speaker” – again, you have lost your audience.

Here a few tips on things TO DO to look good:

  • Have some one ready to operate the lights for you – make sure they know what they are doing.
  • Provide your host with a good bio of you and your topic prior to the conference.
  • Bring a copy of the bio with you just in case.
  • Practice using the remote control before you speak.
  • Turn your laptop so it is between you and the audience facing you – this allows you to see the slides while looking at the audience.
  • Predict the questions you will be asked and practice the answers.
  • Have a back-up plan for “technical problems”
  • Bring a glass of water to the lectern.
  • If a microphone is provided, use it.

If you are the conference organizer

  • Watch for problems and fix them so other speakers don’t have to deal with the same issue.
  • Be ready to help the speakers as needed.
  • Make sure speakers know what is expected of them in advance.
  • Have a system to signal speakers as they approach the end of their allotted time.
  • If the agenda runs late, do not make up for lost time by making the breaks shorter.
  • Offer ample and frequent breaks. Audiences that sit too long get uncomfortable, bored, and they stop paying attention.

 

The purpose of presentation is to change a behavior, belief or attitude. Successful presenters take time to plan their talk. The content of what you have to say is important. Match that with good delivery and you have a winner.

© 2010 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.

Preparing Speakers

In Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Mannerisms/Habits, Organization, Public Speaking on August 16, 2010 at 5:56 am

 

 

Preparing Speakers

TED is an organization dedicated to sharing the best thinkers and presenters of our time. Their speakers demonstrate excellent speaking skills and thought provoking information.

TED’s format may be different than what many speakers are accustomed to. (Long talks, podiums and readings are discouraged by TED.) To get the best out of your speakers, prepare them for what to expect. These are excellent tips for you to use when organizing a conference. As a speaker, you can gleen many good ideas on how you should prepare each talk you deliver.

How to prepare your speakers:

  • Talk to every speaker (by phone or in person) weeks, if not months, before the event. Make sure they understand the format, and know who their audience is.
  • From the earliest conversation, reinforce key points: Their talk should be directed at a smart general audience. (Avoid industry jargon.) It should focus on one unique aspect of their story. (Don’t try to cover too much.) It should not be a sales pitch. (Absolutely no corporate plugs.)
  • Have your speakers send you their presentation two weeks before the event so you can review it and make suggestions.
  • Regroup with all of your speakers on the day of the event to refresh them. If possible, offer them rehearsal time before the actual event begins.
  • Repeatedly reinforce the fact that they will be held to a strict time limit; encourage rehearsal.
  • Make sure they sign the speaker release form. Each speaker must affirm that they are the sole author of their presentation, that they own all rights to the content in their presentation, that they will inform you about any third-party material in their presentation, and that use of their presentation won’t violate the rights of any third party.

What speakers need to know

  • At the event: They will sit in the audience and enter the stage from the audience. They are encouraged to stay for the whole event, and to mingle during breaks.
  • During the talk: The talk must not go over the allotted time. Let them know how you’ll cue them when their time has run out.
  • After the talk: They are expected to remain at the event throughout the day; at minimum, they’re expected to stay through the conversation break following their talk, so attendees can approach them and ask questions.

 

This original document can be found at http://www.ted.com/pages/view/id/360

Visit TED at www.TED.com

Can You Change The World In Two Minutes Or Less?

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Credibility, Delivery, Organization, Public Speaking on July 14, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Can you pique your audiences attention and get them to take new action in just 2-minutes or less? It does not matter if you are speaking to a room full of people or just one – are you able to quickly and succinctly make your point in a clear and powerful manner?

47% of speakers say they can. Audiences disagree. They say only 18% of speakers are this good.

I am writing today to share with you how you can improve the effectiveness of your speaking by attending a 3-hour workshop.

Leadership Vallejo, a community advocacy group, thinks so highly of this skill set they are providing an iSpeakEASY workshop for members and have allowed me to offer four seats to others.

Click here for workshop information.

To make the deal even sweeter, iSpeakEASY is offering a 20% discount to blog readers and members of the iSpeakEASY mailing list if you register in the next 4 days. Instead of $147, your investment is only $117.

Hurry though – the workshop is right around the corner on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 20th.

For information, contact me at ethan@iSpeakEASY or at (415) 342-7106

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

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.

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.