Ethan Rotman

Posts Tagged ‘Credibility’

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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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  

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.