Ethan Rotman

Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Know What You Are Trying To Say

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Increased sales, Public Speaking on October 26, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Speaking Tip #1

This speaking tip is so basic, that people sometimes laugh when I say it:

Be clear on what you are trying to say and what you want your audience to know when you are done.

It sounds so basic, but a common mistake is not being clear on what we are really trying to say. Think about it – if the speaker does not have a clear idea of what they are trying to say, how is the audience supposed to figure it out?

We feel rushed or, worse yet, we believe that since we are just “speaking for a few minutes at a staff meeting” or “having a quick word with the boss (or spouse, kids etc)” that we don’t need to prepare.

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Speaking without knowing your point can be likened to driving without a destination (except it lacks the romance of the free-wheeling spirit heading down the road). You veer right, then turn left, go straight for a bit, you double back, take a side road that leads you no where. You end up talking about all kinds of things that really are not pertinent to the message you are trying to deliver, the audience tries to follow you but ends up lost and takes a “mental vacation”.

The next time you are going to speak, whether it is in front of a group or one-on-one, ask yourself this question:

“What is the one thing I want them to know when I am done speaking?”

When you can answer this question – organize your thoughts and then you are ready to begin.

Being clear in your own mind on your objective will go a long ways in helping you present your thoughts in a clear and concise manner that will be effective.

Treat every conversation with care and respect. Before you speak, put yourself in the driver’s seat and say, “where do I want this to go”?

 

 

© 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.

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.

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.

Give Your Best

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Mannerisms/Habits on September 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Speaking Tip # 55

 

 “I am not really prepared for this presentation tonight” the speaker stated as she opened her talk. “I have not been feeling well so did not have time to prepare. I did not want to let you down, so I came anyway.”

 

 As a member of the audience, what is going through your head at this point in the talk?

A.           Great, I busted my butt to get here only to get a second rate presentation

B.           On top of being bored, I will probably get sick from his germs

C.           Maybe I can sneak out the back unnoticed and get something important done

D.          All of the above

The speaker has barely started his talk yet his credibility is already lower than the floor.

There are many reasons for not being prepared for your talk but no real excuses. You knew you would be expected to speak and probably procrastinated on the preparation. Your audience has sacrificed to come hear you and deserve your best. If you can not deliver, consider alternatives that may save your professional credibility.

 “I am under the weather today and will not be able to deliver the seminar I promised you. I am very disappointed and apologize for the inconvenience, but want to be at my best for you and do not want to risk sharing my illness with you. Let’s reschedule for next week.”

Which feelings do you think you will experience after reading the above email:

A.           Disappointment yet happy to have an extra 2 hours in your day

B.           Appreciative of the courtesy of the speaker

C.           Excitement for the high quality presentation you will get when she recovers

D.          All of the above

The first speaker demonstrated lack of respect for the audience – they were not important enough to him to adequately prepare. His talk should have been planned in advance so that last minute “stresses” would not have an impact.

The audience will judge your professional abilities based, in part, on how well you present. A second-rate performance indicates you are a second-rate professional. A first rate delivery indicates you take time to plan and prepare in all aspects of your life and work.

Your credibility is on the line every time you present. A single bad presentation will not destroy your career and it won’t do anything to enhance it. Presenting is one of the best ways to build your business, gain support for your project, and influence others. The audience is giving you the most important item they have, their time. Honor that by delivering your best to them.

 

© 2009 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words.

You are welcome to link to this page. Permission is required to reprint this in a newsletter or other format.

Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.  www.iSpeakEASY.net  

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.

The TED Commandments

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on August 23, 2010 at 5:53 am

 

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.

The TED Commandments

These 10 tips are given to all TED Conference speakers as they prepare their TEDTalks. They will help your TEDx speakers craft talks that will have a profound impact on your audience.

1.  Dream big. Strive to create the best talk you have ever given. Reveal something never seen before. Do something the audience will remember forever. Share an idea that could change the world.

2.  Show us the real you. Share your passions, your dreams … and also your fears. Be vulnerable. Speak of failure as well as success.

3.  Make the complex plain. Don’t try to dazzle intellectually. Don’t speak in abstractions. Explain! Give examples. Tell stories. Be specific.

4.  Connect with people’s emotions. Make us laugh! Make us cry!

5.  Don’t flaunt your ego. Don’t boast. It’s the surest way to switch everyone off.

6.  No selling from the stage! Unless we have specifically asked you to, do not talk about your company or organization. And don’t even think about pitching your products or services or asking for funding from stage.

7.  Feel free to comment on other speakers’ talks, to praise or to criticize. Controversy energizes! Enthusiastic endorsement is powerful!

8.  Don’t read your talk. Notes are fine. But if the choice is between reading or rambling, then read!

9.  End your talk on time. Doing otherwise is to steal time from the people that follow you. We won’t allow it.

10.  Rehearse your talk in front of a trusted friend … for timing, for clarity, for impact.

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

Visit TED at www.TED.com

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

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.

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