Ethan Rotman

Posts Tagged ‘Public Speaking’

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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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.

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.

Training Is A Neccessity During Tough Economic Times, Not A Luxury

In Attracting New Clients, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Fund raising, Increased sales, Organization, Public Speaking on August 7, 2010 at 11:45 am

"Gary is a promising young man"

“Gary is a promising young man. He has good looks, personality, and he is likable. Our company has a good product but his numbers just aren’t where we need them to be” The CEO told me over the phone. “He is our worst performing sales rep and if he doesn’t bring his numbers up, we are going to cut him loose. We really don’t want to do that”.  

A week later, I met Gary and the CEO over lunch. Gary was everything he was made out to be. It was hard to pinpoint why Gary was having trouble until I heard him talk about the product.  

Gary and I spent 3 sessions together determining his message, finding visual aids and improving his delivery techniques. He learned how to create a presentation that was meaningful to the audience; he learned to have a conversation that made the other person want to know more.  

Other sales reps in the company noticed the change in Gary. His confidence was stronger, he was quieter, he smiled more, but mostly, they watched his sales figures grow. Over the next several months, every other sales rep requested to work with me. The CEO was beaming as his sales were through the roof. Gary, his once bottom performer, was now his second highest performer with a sales increase of 600%. (yes, those are real numbers). He was giving a good chase to the number one performer and competition among the sales team was friendly, but very fierce. New incentives were offered and everyone was working on improving their presentations.  

This company has a good product: literally a no-brainer to qualified customers: It provides a higher level of service at a lower cost. The solution was to help sales reps speak a language the customers could understand. They knew their product, believed it was good, but needed help conveying this in a manner the clients could understand.  

Times are tough: we are all expected to do more with less. Sweat, determination, and hard work help, but new skills and tools will get you much farther. Finding new ways to present information, re-working your presentations and improving the visual aids you use will allow you to literally do more with less. Non-profits can raise more money in less time. For-profits can sell more and close more deals with less effort.  

iSpeakEASY can help your company grow. Our custom workshops help you present your story in a manner that makes the client understand why they want (or even need) what you are offering.  

Call us at 415 342-7106 or email us at ethan@iSpeakEASY.net to discuss how we can help your company grow.

© 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.

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

The Value of Iron

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

Speaking Tip 33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Put the “YOU” before the “I”

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

 Speaking Tip 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Filler in a Hot Dog

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.