Posts Tagged ‘presenting’

PowerPoint Presentation Tips: How to Keep Your Audience Tuned IN! (Part 3)

Saturday, September 30th, 2017

When you use PowerPoint, are you actually diminishing your image as an expert – or even helping your audiences tune you out?  If your answer may be YES, you need PowerPoint Presentation Tips for real speaking power.

Today’s VideoBlog gives you the solutions:  PowerPoint Presentation Tips, Part 3.   In previous blogs, I presented Tips #1 through 6.

  • Tip #7:  At any point in your presentation where you plan to move close to your audience for dramatic effect, help focus audience attention by placing a black slide in your deck.
  • Tip #8:  When you want to focus attention on yourself for a longer period of time, allow the screen to go completely dark. Use the “B” key for this.
  • Tip #9:  Always make your final slide an image slide:  this image should illustrate the inspirational closing that you will speak. 

Finally, Tip #10:  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Don’t make PowerPoint your higher power. Allow PowerPoint to support you, and not the other way around.

When you use these strategies with PowerPoint, you’ll project your own unique power.  You’ll enhance your image as an expert and your listeners will quickly realize that they cannot afford to tune you out.    You’ll have them on the edge of their seats!

Be sure to receive all my upcoming video tips!  Follow this link to my YouTube channel and hit the “subscribe” button on the right side of the screen:  https://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=SuccessfulSpeaker

Show Prospects That You’ll Be a True Business Partner by Listening Actively

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Would you like your clients and prospects to believe that you will be a true business partner for them?  You can help make this happen by sharpening your active listening skills.  Active listening helps you project a spirit of good will and project your most positive, professional image.

Very often, it’s wise to listen as your conversation partners express themselves fully, before you present your own thoughts, opinions, and perceptions. People are more likely to agree when they feel that they themselves have been heard!

Here are three steps that will help you listen actively:

Step 1:  Blend
Blending is any behavior that helps reduce the differences between you and your conversation partners. The goal is to increase rapport.  As we speak, listeners are often subconsciously wondering “Are you with me, or against me?” — so building rapport is very important.  Blending will help you do it.  This means that you will mirror – and not mimic – your conversation partner’s tone, pacing, volume, facial expressions and posture.  Give receptive signals: “Oh, yes, I see, I understand”, and use a lot of head nodding.

Step 2: Backtrack
The goal of backtracking is to show that you are listening and want to understand. When you backtrack, you repeat verbatim your conversation partner’s words.  It is important not to paraphrase; use the exact words. This is particularly useful during business conversations on the phone.

Step 3: Clarify
Ask clarifying questions.  Your goal is to gather as much information as possible and delay giving your own responses. Clarifying questions begin with the words “why”, “how”, and “tell me about…” There are three main benefits to backtracking: it shows that you are patient and supportive, it helps an unreasonable conversation partner behave more reasonably, and it helps reveal any hidden agendas that your conversation partners may have.

These three steps for active listening will help you project a spirit of good will and caring.  Next time, I will share the final two steps to help you listen actively and make it easier for your clients and prospects to believe that you’ll be a true business partner for them!

Your Speaking Space: Become Adaptable the Way Actors Do

Monday, October 20th, 2014

In my last blog, I provided two strategies for successful business speaking that are rooted in theater techniques that I used while I was rehearsing and performing the role of Amanda in The Glass Menagerie this past summer.

Here is another technique you can use in business to enhance your confidence when you are about to make a presentation:  know your venue and become adaptable to the space, so that you can speak comfortably in a range of situations.

Our set for The Glass Menagerie depicted a tenement apartment in St. Louis during the late 1930’s.  Right before one performance, the stagehands had placed a heavy chair in the wrong spot on stage.  I had been directed to sit on the arm of the chair all the way stage right, at an angle facing away from my scene partner.  With the chair in its incorrect spot, my sitting on the chair that way would block half the audience from any view of the action.  I had previously thought of various other options for my stage movement, so I was able to improvise a solution during that performance.  Under the new circumstances, I stood in the stage area far right of the chair, to open up the view for whole audience.

Business speakers, too, should be ready to improvise physically when necessary.

  • Whether your business presentation or conversation takes place in an office, conference room, boardroom, or convention hall, visit the space in advance whenever possible.
  • Notice what is in the space and how it might help or hinder your ability to communicate.  Request what you do want and do not want to be “in your space”.  Then, assume that the space may not be just as you wish, and look for ways to improvise, if necessary.  Determine Choice B and Choice C for where you will be and where you will move, so that you can be ready to adapt.
  • During your advance visit, do a brief “walk-through” or “sit-through” of your talk.  Experiment with a variety of other spots for you to stand, sit, or move.  This will help you improvise gracefully (and give your audience a full experience) whenever you face challenges with the physical setup of the room.

Preparing for uncertainty in this way will give you a wonderful sense of security and the confidence that your message will have impact for your audience, even when your venue is not ideal!

 

How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Ideas to ‘Land’ (Part 3): The Brief Pause

Monday, June 25th, 2012

http://youtu.be/RC9A14CsNmM

In today’s videoblog, I’ll share the third and final step in my three-part series called “How to Engage Your Listeners by Allowing Your Ideas to Land.”

In my last two videoblogs, I talked about the first two steps in this process: (1) Speak in complete thoughts and (2) pursue your point with energy and focus.

Today, I’ll share step three: Pause briefly after speaking a complete thought, to allow the idea to “land”.

Successful business speakers, like good actors, always consider pacing when they prepare to speak. The tempo of the spoken word has a strong impact on the listener and directly influences the way speakers are perceived. This raises the issue of pausing.

Even the smartest and best listeners need a moment to digest a complete thought. When you are speaking face-to face or on camera, your listeners need time to interpret meaning from a broad palette:  a palette that includes your visual as well as vocal delivery.  So, pauses are important.

A University of Michigan study revealed that speakers who never paused had the lowest success rate in getting listeners to do what they wanted them to do.  The great British actor, John Gielgud, famously said that, when acting Shakespeare, the pauses are the most important moments of the speech!    He knew that pauses can be captivating.

Help your business listeners receive the full impact of your message by giving them the gift of time. Pause briefly after each complete thought, to let it “land”. Don’t be in a rush to go on to your next idea. The pause will also give you time to get a reading on your listener’s understanding and engagement level. During the pause, breathe deeply and maintain good eye contact.

Without the pauses, your listeners may feel overwhelmed by an unmanageable amount of input. They may lose some of your meaning; they might even tune you out.

When you give your listeners time to process each thought, you are respecting their needs while you communicate your own conviction that your message is important.

Never underestimate the power of the pause!

Three Ways to Engage Your Business Audience

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Every person connected with the theater knows that an audience must become engaged with the action on stage as soon as possible, in order for that stage effort to be successful. The same is true for your business presentations. You can start by applying three simple strategies at the beginning of each talk.

1. Maintain good eye contact.

Eye contact means “eyeball to eyeball”:  not looking at foreheads, to the tops of heads, or looking in the general direction of individuals. Make eye contact with people within audience sections:   for example, focus on individuals on the left side of the audience, then the right, then the center – or in any order you choose.   Be sure to cover the whole audience territory and remember to include people seated in the back rows.   Depending upon the size of your audience/venue, it may be challenging to make eye contact with people who are furthest away from you, but seek out as many eyes as possible.   Contrary to common fears, maintaining good eye contact actually helps relax you as a speaker.   Seeing people’s eyes will remind you that the audience is, after all, made up of regular folks just like you, and that they do want you to succeed. They are usually hopeful and expectant; they want to believe that they have made a good choice by attending your presentation!

2. Use a conversational tone, vary your pace, and be sure that conviction and passion are visible on your body and audible in your voice.

Most listeners respond favorably when a speaker communicates gratitude and humility, and a conversational tone helps project these qualities in you. It lets your audience know that you are approaching them as an expert who is an equal, not as a professor or pontificator.  Speak as you would during a one-on-one conversation, with the slight adjustment of a heightened energy.   Take the attitude that you are pleased to be sharing an important secret with your audience; that you are speaking confidentially to each individual listener.  Vary your pace, to generate interest and convey enthusiasm.  Take time to allow you thoughts to “land”, and occasionally pause for dramatic effect.  Audiotape your rehearsals; when you play back the tape, take special note of the moments when you sounded most authentic, most conversational; moments when your voice and YOU were “one”; when your voice is the true YOU. Analyze what you were doing that caused that authentic sound, and strive to replicate that underlying behavior (rather than the sound).   Your sound in any given moment is the result of your intention and communication behavior.   You can achieve an authentic and effective sound by doing something; pursuing an appropriate objective.  The degree of conviction and passion in your voice and gestures is within your control. Gestures and body language should match the intensity of your voice, as well as your content.

3. Ask questions and ask for volunteers.

Involve your audience by asking questions and inviting individuals to come to the platform area to participate in simple tasks/exercises related to your topic.   When you pose questions to your audience, people invariably answer them, which immediately makes the responders a part of the presentation. Audiences enjoy this. Ask questions that you know they can answer, and be sure that everything you ask is directly related to the purpose/main idea of your talk.  For pure engagement and entertainment value, nothing beats demonstrations by your audience members.   Create simple tasks/exercises for individuals or pairs that will illustrate your points. Ask for volunteers from the audience to come to the platform area; if people seem shy at first and no one immediately volunteers, wait. WAIT.   Have the courage to tolerate silence or hesitation from the audience, and during the silence, make strong eye contact with a broad smile and open arms.   Avoid all temptation to recruit individuals; allow them to volunteer. (During the hundreds of presentation I have made in all industries, I have never faced a situation where we lacked volunteers.)   Audiences include those who enjoy receiving attention and will rise to the occasion!   Audience members who remain seated become immediately captivated: this is theater, the drama of watching a situation unfold in the here and now, where anything can happen.  It is compelling and irresistible because of its immediacy.

When you involve your audience early in your talk in these three ways, you set the stage for the audience to bond with you.   The sooner they bond with you, the stronger their connection with you will be.   This is true engagement.

The Underestimated Benefits of Successful Speaking

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

While many people are quick to agree that being a good public speaker enhances one’s business life, fewer consider capitalizing on this skill when they possess it.  This is a mistake; the benefits of good public speaking skills are often underestimated and deserve greater attention.Being a good public speaker helps you persuade listeners to take actions you want them to take, makes you a valuable asset to any organization you are connected with, and is one of the best ways to generate business.There are few aspects of professional success that are more important than the power to persuade.  Whether you are trying to convince your executive vice president of HR to adopt your latest initiative, or you are a business owner trying to close a deal, skill in public speaking allows you to organize your message, deliver it with an effective style, and defend your position with poise.If you are a professional working in the corporate arena, skill in public speaking is one of the best ways to demonstrate that you are ready to become an active spokesperson for ideas and initiatives of interest to your organization; it makes you a key player.  When you make a dynamic impression by speaking on a given topic, you allow top executives to view you as someone with leadership qualities:  an “idea” person who has the ability to persuade.  So, find opportunities to speak within your organization:  at meetings, forums, and company events.  There is no better advertisement of your value or leadership qualities.If you are a business owner, using your skill at public speaker is one of the best ways to generate new business, because it positions you as an expert in your field.  When you begin your journey as a public speaker (whether or not you are paid to speak), “high profile” speaking opportunities need not be the goal.  What matters most is value and volume:  speak as often as you can, to generate interest and build a following.  Contact associations whose memberships may be interested in your topics, and offer to create seminars for them.  Provide valuable content, and over time people will seek you out for your expertise.Whatever your career objectives, you should view your skill as an excellent speaker as one of the best strategies to reach your professional goals.

Part Two: Persuade Your CEO

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

In my last blog, I presented some visual strategies that will increase your persuasive power with upper management, no matter what department you work in, and no matter how little time your are given to make your case. I focused on how you can build belief visually. In today’s blog, I will offer a few tips for building belief with your voice.First, some background information. In his article for CLO Magazine, Kevin D. Wilde (VP and Chief Learning Officer at General Mills) suggests that, when you have just a few minutes to win over the CEO, it is crucial to make your message “executive crisp”. Although Wilde’s strategies are useful, they fail to address two key ingredients in the art of persuasive speaking: visual and vocal impact.My response is supported by the findings of a Harvard Business School study: only seven percent of the success of business speaking is based upon content. A full ninety-three percent of the impact that business speakers make is based on their visual and vocal impact: how they deliver their message to build belief within the listener.The vocal component of your presentation is crucial. Be sure that your vocal “performance” supports the value of your ideas:1. Vary your pace: when you begin, speak slowly; when you come to information that is less important, increase your pace; when you come to your most important points, pause and then slow down.2. Vary your pitch, and be sure to end your statements with a pitch glide downward (not upward, as we do when asking a question).3. Whenever possible, rehearse what you are going to say by glancing down briefly at note cards. Internalize your content; don’t memorize it. Pick a spot on the wall to direct your eyes during rehearsal, and never practice with a mirror (it will distract you from your message and from the audience you should have in your mind, and it will keep you focused on how you look — a poor strategy).No matter how many minutes upper management can spare, your best content will have persuasive power only when your visual and vocal performance convey your own conviction, poise, and passion.