Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Holidays

This blog is on vacation until January 2009. Until then, please peruse our more than 100 posts on how to be the best of the real you when presenting.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do They Get It?

A recent question at one of my speaking skills workshops:

"How do you assess comprehension of your main point/content throughout? My problem: I say 'does that make sense?' and with silence I move on."

Couple of things here:

1. Never ask "does that make sense?" The reason is, as an audience member, I don't know how to respond. Do I say yes or no? Do I raise my hand? Do I throw something at you if it doesn't make sense? Etc. If it doesn't make sense and you want me to tell you so you can clarify (which is ultimately what you are looking for), I don't want to raise my hand or let you or my peers know that I'm not understanding something that, if I am the only one raising my hand, everyone else is getting. That is an uncomfortable situation most audience members don't want to be in and will avoid by simply doing nothing (which is why you are getting silence.)

2. So, how do you assess comprehension? Well, it starts with knowing what level of comprehension you need them to have. Google "Blooms Taxomony" to learn more about what I mean by that.

3. After you establish what level of comprehension you want, then you will know if you need to do a little processing or a ton. A strategy I use for comprehension is called SPG. Solo. Pair. Group. After you cover something, give them some time and space to reflect on it. Maybe ask them to take a few extra notes about what you just covered. Then have them pair up with someone and discuss what they learned or ask their partner to paraphrase. Just get them talking to someone in a safe zone (i.e. - not in front of the entire group). This will give them space to validate their internal questions or dialogue. Then the Group is simply asking for comments. Your chances of getting them will increase dramatically by going through the SPG formula.

Monday, December 1, 2008

These Shoes Were Made For Talking

Two (of the many) tools you need to be a great orator.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Authenticity Rule #6 - The Mask Rule: Know Your Enemies

Authenticity Rule #6
The Mask Rule: Know Your Enemies

You have a variety of forces working against your ability to be the best of yourself as a presenter. These forces mask your authenticity and should be viewed as enemies, i.e. you need to know them intimately and you need to fight them.

Following are three of the most enduring enemies presenters have battled for centuries:

1. Tepidness

You must be engaging as a presenter, especially in today's busy and noisy world. If you take a tepid approach to either your content, your topic, your audience or the actual act of presenting, you are telling your audience to not listen. This tepidness comes across primarily from your non-verbals, which make up 60% of the meaning of your message for your audience members.

Lukewarm Non-Verbals

  • Monotone speech pattern
  • Lack of eye contact
  • No variety in facial expressions (as well as no smiling)
  • No variety in volume
  • Lack of gestures
Tepidness is also revealed by using weak language. Weak language includes wishy-washy words like "kind of, sort of, maybe, possibly." These words suggest that you may be saying one thing, but either you really don't firmly believe it or you aren't passionate enough about what you are saying to take sides. Effective, authentic presenters don't sacrifice passion for diplomacy.

2. Separation

Our second enemy is the most relevant to your audience because it concerns their world - not connecting with your audience. You should be very concerned with separation from your listeners. This enemy can be defeated both on location and during the preparation process.

On location you can start connecting with your audience even before you start speaking. Mingle with them, ask questions, demonstrate interest in their answers by asking follow-up questions and learn names (and use them in your presentation). During your presentation, make direct eye contact, avoid using a podium, and be aware of any sensory needs they might have (lights, temperature, microphone volume, outside noise level, etc.)

You can also help ensure a strong connection with your audience by doing your homework far in advance. Ask yourself questions about your audience and then build both your content and your technique around the answers. Nancy Duarte, author of the great presentation slide development book Slide:ology, suggests putting together an audience persona. Click here to view a PowerPoint slide with her seven audience research questions.

3. Blandness

Your job as a presenter is to move your audience in one or many of the following ways:

Intellectually (to teach)
Emotionally (to inspire)
Physically (to direct)
Conceptually (to show)

Movement requires attention. Attention requires motive. Your audience will listen to you, believe you/your content and even act upon this belief if you give them a good enough reason. One of the best reasons to listen is newness, freshness, creative ideas, etc. If your presentation is bland, your audience will start checking out the second you start. The blandness enemy shows up most commonly in two areas, logistical and content.

Logistical Blandness - When a presenter does things the way they have always been done: same room set-up, same visual aids, same presentation length, same audience interaction, etc.

Content Blandness - When a presenter uses content that is safe, but over-used: commonly used quotes, stories, facts, data, etc.

Your audience members' brains require fresh stimuli to motivate attention. Give it to them. Give your presentation some life, zest, excitement, and flavor. They will not only thank you for it, but they will also be more willing and able to take action. This is the hallmark of all truly authentic presenters. The experience and their content have a long life because it is unique and thus easier to remember.

This list of enemies is in no way complete. However, if you tackle just these three enemies, you are well on your way to creating a room full of friends.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Developing Your Stories

I just picked up a great book that every speaker should digest: The Story Factor by Annette Simmons.

Here is a strategy from Annette on how to develop two of your six important stories:

Developing “Who Am I /Why I’m here” Stories:

Step One: What personal qualities make you a trustworthy person? Are you compassionate, smart, courageous, honest, etc?

Step Two: Since you can hardly walk into a room and expect people to believe “I am a trustworthy person”, choose one of these qualities and develop a three-minute story that delivers evidence of that quality:

A time in your life when this quality was tested.
A person/event in your life that taught you the importance of this quality.
A time when you failed your own standards and decided to never let it happen again.
A movie/story/event that exemplifies this quality for you.

Step Three: Find someone to listen to your story. Ask them to tell you what they like about the story and what this story tells them about you. Ask them to refrain from making suggestions or giving a critique. Tell it again to someone else.

Step Four: Tell your story the next time you give a presentation or try to influence someone…if it works, tell it again.

If you found that valuable, you will love her book!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A New Way to Think About Crowd Size

Old Thinking: As the crowd size goes up, so does the impact. (Due to sheer #'s.)

New Thinking: As the crowd size goes down, the impact goes up. (Due to message specialization.)

Why is this graph important? Because many times we get more excited, nervous, prepared, etc. when we have the opportunity to speak in front of a large crowd. I have spoken in front of crowds ranging from six-thousand, nine-thousand and fifteen-thousand. I know the feeling.

And then there are the smaller groups. If we only have a few hundred or even just a few total, we tend to think about them as less important or less significant.

However, it is in these smaller venues that a speaker, trainer or teacher can really make a personal impact. IF you leverage the specialization opportunity. Here are a few suggestions...

  • Get to know why each individual is there.
  • Read body language and adjust accordingly.
  • Ask specific questions and adjust based on the answers.
  • Survey the group beforehand to learn specific, useful information you can use in your presentation.
  • Go into more detail (it is ineffective to give large groups complex information)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Establishing Credibility In A Small Group Environment

A question posed to me recently by a consultant who works with smaller groups and is called to lead and direct them into new and sometimes challenging directions:

"How do I deal with feeling the need to establish credibility as a young female with only a few years of experience to her name?"

Here are a few suggestions I posed to her:

Great question. I think the biggest tool you have to overcome this is your content preparation. Know your stuff and be ready to provide real, tangible value. Of course, you also have to establish your personal credibility, but if you have the knowledge part ready, you can do this through establishing trust in you as a person.

So, what does this look like? Here are a few quick techniques that come to mind. Many of them I am sure you are probably already doing - you might just not be applying the appropriate amount of weight to their importance.

* Learn names and find common ground with the group members.

* Ask questions about their expectations, their job role, etc. Express genuine interest in learning about their world.

* Make an effort to discover the "Elephant in the room" (if their is one.) Express your concern about it and get everyone's take on it. This shows your interest in learning from them, as opposed to setting up the sessions as a one-way conversation.

* Smile, be friendly, express genuine charisma.

* If necessary, mirror the participants' body language to connect with them in a passive way (if they are sitting, you sit. If they are chatting, you chat. If they are discussing a news topic, you join in.)

* Give value immediately. If they do perceive you as "a youngster," this will disarm them.

* Highlight the positive sides of being younger (while not talking about them in direct terms - i.e. don't say, here are five reasons why me being born in the 80s is a good thing) and how those traits are of great benefit to the relationship. A few that come to mind are energy, fresh perspectives, willingness to challenge the norm, etc.

* Be mindful of your body language. There are many small cues that communicates confidence. You should employ as many as you can: smile, calm demeanor, direct eye contact, responsive body language, asking questions, well-groomed, conservative attire, standing tall, sitting tall, leaning forward, taking notes, speaking clearly, using simple/clear/firm language.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Word of Caution

This is why the title of the book is Authenticity Rules: How to be a Real (and real good) Presenter. Don't forget the real good part...

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Authenticity Rules Book

The book is done.
Huge thanks to my business partner, friend for life and best wife I have ever had for hours and hours and hours of hard work on this project. I would probably be digging ditches somewhere instead of living my dream job of speaking if I didn't have you.
More info to follow....

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Preparation = Separation

If you want your presentation to sound like, look like and be like every other speech, training, class or workshop, then only put a little bit of effort into preparing.

If you want to separate yourself from the rest and have greater impact, an authentic performance, more creativity, fresher ideas and a remarkable presentation, invest more time on the front end.

Never settle for your first ideas. They are just the seeds to more authentic-rich ideas. It is funny how long it takes and how much preparation goes into being an authentic presenter.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

World Championship Advice

Big thanks to Andrew Dlugan over at the Six Minutes blog for posting an interview he did with the recently crowned 2008 World Champion of Public Speaking, LaShunda Rundles. She is the first woman to gain the title since 1986 and the first African-American woman ever. I haven't heard her speech, but the interview is both inspiring and informative.

Here are three answers highlighting Authenticity as a critical factor in her success (and yours)...

Question: Having gone through six separate speech contests this year, what lessons have you learned from competitive speaking?  The thing I learned most from competitive speaking is that you have to stay genuine.

Question: Studying other speakers and developing self-awareness are necessary to grow as a speaker. What do you consider your greatest strengths as a speaker? How about weaknesses: what speaking skills or habits are you currently striving to improve?  My greatest strength as a speaker is the ability to stay truthful. I find my message and I let my words guide me from there. Also, I don’t try to become too staged. I work to have a conversation with the audience not a one-act play.

Question: What other advice can you give to Six Minutes readers who are striving to become more confident and effective speakers?  To become a better speaker I encourage people to just practice, practice, practice. You have to get comfortable in your own skin.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

4 Books You Need

I have read, studied and use the techniques from all four on a daily basis. A phenomenal $60 investment...

Slide:ology on Amazon (Used from $20.95)

Presentation Zen on Amazon(Used from $17.86)

Made to Stick on Amazon(Used from $14.00)

Brain Rules on Amazon (Used from $17.78)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Lesson from Lisa Braithwaite and Alice Adams

Click over to Lisa Braithwaite's Speak Schmeak blog to read her insightful post about being in love with the real you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Marvelous Advice from Sam Horn

Sam Horn writes a blog about how to make your marketing, presentations and literally any other form of communication POP! She recently posted three connected posts about how to capture an audience's attention in the first 90-seconds. It is well worth the study...

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Funny quote from Part 1...

"My job is to talk; your job is to listen. If you finish first, please let me know.” - Harry Herschfield

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Willy's Green Kangaroo's Unusually Silly - Your Messenger for Message Development

Successful message development, like most elements of giving presentations, is an art form. However, if you are looking for a powerful formula to inch you closer to developing an effective message, this post is your guide.

A. Remember this phrase:

Willy's Green Kangaroo's Unusually Silly

Use this phrase as your association trigger to remember the five elements of message development. Memorize the phrase and you will have a better chance of remembering them.

B. There are five basic goals of every effective message and messenger. You want your audience to do these five things with your message...

1. Want it
2. Get it
3. Keep it
4. Use it
5. Share it

C. What do each of these mean? What action are you trying to get your audience to take for each element?

1. Want it - Anticipation. This first elements's action depends entirely on the venue. The message anticipation of a blockbuster movie is easier to create than a conference workshop. However, there are ways to create a strong "I want it".

2. Get it - Motion. Element number two is all about moving your audience from point A to point B. The points are up to you, but the motion is up to both you and the audience. What do you want them to learn, understand, experience, etc.? What do you want them to get?

3. Keep it - Retention. It is difficult to imagine a messenger who doesn't want their audience to remember at least a portion of their message. Rememberability is a function of message structure and delivery and is a fun challenge to work.

4. Use it - Application. Many messengers will never know whether or not their words turned into application. However, every great messenger is either an optimist at heart. They truly believe their message will be heard and applied. And it is this almost naive belief that fuels many of the powerful intangibles of great communicators.

5. Share it - Participation. This is different from application as it involves an audience member telling someone else about the great message they heard. This final element is how great messages become viral as the sharing then creates anticipation in others and continues the cycle.

D. What creates these actions? Each element must contain these simple, but powerful qualities to produce the desired effect...

1. Want it - Anticipation - Desirable
2. Get it - Motion - Understandable
3. Keep it - Retention - Memorable
4. Use it - Application - Tangible
5. Share it - Participation - Remarkable

E. How do you get to desirable, understandable, memorable, tangible, and remarkable? Again, this depends entirely on your specific message and your goals as a messenger. However, here are a few starter thoughts. (NOTICE - there are literally thousands of ways to apply Willy's Green Kangaroo's Unusually Silly.)

1. Want it - Anticipation - Desirable

Attach a reward relevant to their life and desires. If the reward is a tangible item, it can't be something you would want (unless your demographic profile matches your audience). It must be something they will organically want. You also can't produce a desire in them for this element to work. I.e. - "four audience members will win a copy of my book" will not work. They don't even know what your book is all about. It must be a reward that has built-in desirability like an iPod, cash, etc.

For some great ideas for "Desirable" wording, click here.

2. Get it - Motion - Understandable

Use common language. Avoid using jargon, random acronyms, or "big words just to impress." When you keep the words simple, the audience can use their brain power thinking about how they are going to apply your message.

3. Keep it - Retention - Memorable

Repetition is the key. Repetition is the key. Repetition is the ________.

4. Use it - Application - Tangible

We need to make our messages very tangible for audience members, especially in today's busy, noisy and information-rich environments. Give them examples, space to ask questions, paper and writing tools to take notes, and ask specific questions that makes them put thought into how/where/when/why they will apply the message.

5. Share it - Participation - Remarkable

If you are a fan of Chip and Dan Heath's ground-breaking book, Made to Stick, or of Seth Godin's work, you will recognize this point. If your audience is going to share your message with others, it must be remarkable. Meaning it must be something worth remarking about. There are an unlimited number of creative ways to accomplish this. I suggest you do something unexpected. Get them out of their comfort zone. Now, in order for this technique to not leave the wrong taste in their mouth, you have to make a strong connection between the tool and the message. I.e. - throwing a bucket of water on an audience member might be unexpected, but unless your point is so emotionally or intellectually strong as to validate this action, your message will be remarked about, but for all the wrong reasons!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Big Secret to "Actionable" Modern Day Communication

(Print out and give this picture to yourself and as many teachers, speakers, marketers, executives, leaders, parents, married people, and students as you can.)

How I "Widen"...
1. Personally - Actively listen in one-on-one conversations.
2. Socially - Ask people questions (friends and strangers).
3. Technically - Use Google Reader to read 100 blogs, click on my browser's StumbleUpon button periodically and listen to/watch the following podcasts -, This American Life, NPR Story of the Day and Fresh Air from WHYY.

How I "Narrow"...
1. Start all my keynote speeches, workshops and blog posts with answering, "what is the big idea/concept here?"
2. Take my own advice and talk/write using the CVS formula (use Concrete, Visual and Simple language).
3. Listen more. Talk less.

(If you need more information on any of these techniques/tools, either Google them, search my blogs or comment back.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nervousness: It's a Piece of Cake!

When it comes to public speaking, nerves are just like audience members - always there, a necessary part of the process and not always pleasant.

However, just like our audience members, nerves can either help you or hurt you depending on how you think about them. Follow these rules to turn handling nervousness into a piece of cake...

C - Change your perspective
Anxiety and excitement are chemically the same thing. The only difference between the two is how you think about them. You can quickly convert your nervousness into excitement by simply changing the way you think about what is going on. This is a great example of "change your mind and the rest will follow." Also, nerves are a necessary part of the process. It is your body's way of telling you this is important, critical, interesting, different than normal, etc. Therefore, to harness the power of this natural response, change your goal from getting rid of your nerves to controlling your nerves. Zig Ziglar said it best, "D0n't get rid of your butterflies. Get them to fly in formation." The rest of the CAKE is about how to control the butterflies.

A - Audience-focused
Get your mind off of you and your content and put your focus on your audience. If you are pacing behind stage or sitting anxiously in class just thinking about how you don't want to mess up or how you wish you could stop your knees from knocking, you are only adding to the problem. You need to decompress. Do this by putting all your thoughts about what is getting ready to happen into the back of your mind and get to thinking about your audience. Talk to them, be in their space, ask them questions, just sit in the room like one of them, etc. It helps to remember your audience wants you to do good. No one likes to sit through poor presentations. They want you to be worth listening to. I know at times it doesn't always feel like it, but they are on your side. Your job is to get on their side.

K - Knowledge
Knowing your stuff top to bottom is the number one way to control your nerves. If you need to memorize your content to reach this level of control, then do so. Some say that memorizing content makes you look like a robot. That is not true. Robotic delivery of memorized content is the enemy here. Does your favorite actor/actress look like a robot on the screen? No. Are their lines memorized? Yes. In the research for my upcoming presentation skills book, Authenticity Rules, I discovered from at least three top-level presentation coaches that many of the best presenters memorize a large portion of their content. The presentation doesn't feel memorized because they invested a large portion of time on their delivery skills.

E - Experience.
The more you do a task, the better your body and brain gets at responding to the emotions and physical elements related to it. Speaking in public is very much a physical, mental and emotional art form. Getting up and speaking A TON is the best medicine for a bad case of the nerves. Of course, you need to be practicing and doing the right things. There are literally millions of golfers who have been golfing for years, but still are horrible golfers because their experience only allowed them to perfect their bad habits. To get good experience, you have to get good coaching. Seek out someone who knows what to look for (the expert eye), have them watch you, coach you and then work on their suggestions. The key here is to find someone who knows what to look for. Everyone has an opinion on what they like or dislike about speakers. Only an expert presentation coach knows HOW to look for what you need to specifically do to get better.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Research-Based Presenting

One of the 100 blogs I read daily is from the British Psychological Society and their Research Digest Blog. I encourage you to read through their posts and look for articles on brain studies and human development research. It can help you think about your audience members as varieties of the same machine, the human being. One valuable technique I use is to take a look at child behavior and development studies. Our personality, core learning style and internal attitude setting (are you generally a positive or negative person) is almost matured by the time we are six. These are just a few factors that impact an audience member's ability to get, retain and potentially act upon your content.

Studying research information is also important as a trainer/speaker because there are many techniques you can employ in direct response to key research findings. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Why psychologists are asking children to touch their toes

What do your thoughts reveal about you?

We see things differently when they're near our hands

Real-life examples may not be best for teaching maths

How to interview children

We're more likely to listen to expensive advice

Fold your arms to boost your performance

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

17% Zone Slide Show

Here is a quick example of slides done right. This is for a 45-minute presentation at a luncheon of business professionals. I will include music and table interaction to drill home the points.

As always, the slides are visual-heavy, text-light and only offer support for the conversation between the audience and me.

Intro Slide

Initial Interaction Activity Slide

Key Concept Slide

Question 1 Intros Key 1

Question 2 Intros Key 2

Question 3 Intros Key 3

Question 4 Intros Key 4

Question 5 Intros Key 5

Question 6 Intros Key 6

Recap Slide of the 6 Big Keys

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Personal Leadership Insight Blog Nomination

My Personal Leadership Insight blog has been nominated as one of the best leadership blogs from 2008. If you are a reader of the PLI blog, please click here to cast your vote. The voting ends August 1.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Workshop Planning

* Find out as much information as possible about the workshop specifics (length, audience member make-up, room set-up, content expectations, AV at your disposal, etc.)

* Create a Statement of Purpose. This is a specific, concrete, and short statement that sums up what you want the audience member's to learn during your session.

* Research quotes, activities (please peruse, facts, handout possibles, stories, personal stories, etc. that could possibly make it into the final flow for your workshop.

* Start a three-ring binder

* Make sure everything you put in your binder is closely related to your workshops' statement of purpose.

* If you find something on a web page, bookmark it, print it out and put it in your binder.

* If you come across something that you find very interesting or you think might work for a different workshop, print it out and put it in your binder behind a "to use later" tab.

* Get as much stuff as you can find. At this point, the more the merrier. If you have a tight Statement of Purpose, everything you put in the binder has a good chance of being valuable.

* If you are giving a leadership or life skills related workshop, chances are good you might find some content you can use at my leadership blog ( Type in a related word in the search field on the home page of the PLI blog.

The PLI Blog is indexed by Essential (Vision, Integrity, etc.). Scroll down on the right-hand side of the home page and you will see a section called Links. You can look at just the posts (there are over 250 total) for each Essential. If one of the Essentials looks like it might contain some content relevant to your workshop's Statement of Purpose, browse the posts and see if you can find some gems. For example, if you are doing a networking session, you will find some great posts on that in the Fostering Relationships posts. If you are doing a team communication workshop, obviously you will find some great posts in the Masterful Communication posts. Etc.

(WARNING - the links for these posts are NOT the links that are on the rightIhand column. The links where you can look at all the posts filtered by essential are under the section titled Links. Although, if you want to peruse the links, they are indexed by Essential and there are over 600 posts there! Great stuff.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Concentrate Your Training Room

Your audience has a ton of noise going on during your training session. The learning and retention of your content hinges on a number of factors, some big - some small. One big factor is your willingness and ability to get everyone physically plugged into the session.

Concentrating the Room is about controlling the learning environment to produce the greatest chance for success and it is so simple to do. Just follow the techniques below. Does it take more time? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Five quick benefits of Concentrating the Room:

1. Removes energy gaps.

2. Removes distractions, especially when you have a round table set-up.

3. Gets the audience physically engaged in the session and thus creates a boost of attention via heightened awareness, blood flow and brain activity.

4. Creates the perfect environment for Passionate Paul and helps Hostage Harriet to get plugged in.

5. Encourages growth in the trainer's confidence because the audience will be more attentive. Guaranteed.

Five ways to concentrate your round table training room:

Table Work: You roaming the room. Audience seated at round tables facing each other.

Unfortunately, most trainers who have a round table set-up just keep the audience members seated like this throughout the entire session. Everyone is facing different directions and many have their back to the trainer. If they are not looking at the trainer, they are facing a table full of distractions. You should keep the audience in Table Work position only when they are doing group work.

High Receive: You in one spot. Chairs and audience members at tables, but facing directly toward you.

We use high receive all the time to make key points, video presentations, slide presentations, and big group discussions. High receive can easily be overused since the audience members remain at their tables. Don't overuse it. The point of any concentration technique is to make a significant directional change in their body language to create a more focused learning environment. If you overuse any one of these techniques, the technique becomes the norm and attention fatigue will set in.

Movie Time: You in one spot. Audience members seated in amphitheater style around you.

If you are planning a longer group discussion, illustrating a point with a story, or teaching from an easel, bring the audience forward and have them sit close to each other and close to you.

Corner Cram: You in the corner. Audience members seated in corner with you.

Same as movie time, only in a corner.

Play Time: You and the audience standing in an open area.

If you are using an activity or exercise to illustrate a point, get the room set up like you need it by concentrating where the audience is standing as you give the directions. Push the tables and chairs out of the way, get all the audience members standing together in one place, get attention and go for it!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

10 Tips for Next Level Facilitators

If you are a presenter, chances are good you spend part of your time "speaking" and part of your time "facilitating." There is a big difference.

Speaking is the act of verbally communicating information.

Facilitating is the act of moving an audience via speaking, interaction, discussion, experiential exercises, multimedia, etc.

The difference in the definitions highlights the key difference between speaking and facilitating - the latter is a much more complicated art form. The following are a few strategies of how to improve your facilitation-based presentations...

This particular list of 10 was co-developed by myself and the 08-09 Georgia FFA State Officers at Camp John Hope in June 2008. Thanks team!

1. Get the group physically active
2. Give clear directions
3. Allow the participants opportunities to share ideas and give opinions
4. Let the group direct their own learning at certain times
5. Get the group writing
6. Allow the participants to work in teams
7. Take the sharing from personal reflection to small group discussion to large group sharing
8. Have mood-appropriate music and always make it CPP - Clean, Powerful and Positive
9. Build in group encouragement
10. Set the context early in the agenda (let the group know what you are going to do and why)

Friday, May 16, 2008

On Tour

I will be blogging only from the PLI blog ( between May 16 and May 30. I will be on tour from Oklahoma City to Washington to Oregon to New Jersey to Tulsa to Chicago and back to Oklahoma City. The blog posts over there will include tips and strategies and content from my keynotes and workshops during this period.

Postings will resume here in June. Thanks!

The Personal Leadership Insight blog -

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tips from Steve Jobs has a new video on the biggest reasons why Steve Jobs' presentations always rule!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Five Offspring of Authenticity

The following list contains five results from a presenter being authentic:

1. Credibility - I don't care if your area of expertise is wide or narrow, I just care that you know what you say you know.

2. Authority - Speakers are questioned all the time. Authentic speakers are questioned less often.

3. Sincerity - In the era of botox, liposuction and "cheat your way to the top," sincerity is worth more because of simple supply and demand. The demand is high and the supply is short.

4. Consistency - Humans begin appreciating consistency from birth. A child loves peek-a-boo because of the consistency of you appearing each time. Make it a habit to be yourself.

5. Energy - It is physically and mentally draining to be fake - for you and your audience. Being authentic reverses this and encourages an energetic experience.

Monday, May 5, 2008

50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong

There was only one Elvis. He was paid a large sum of money to be Elvis and he will always be remembered. There are a million Elvis impersonators. They are paid small sums of money to be someone else and they will never be remembered.

Being an authentic presenter begins with you deciding who you are, understanding your uniqueness and working hard every day to bring the best of your genuine self to each presentation.

You have a unique path. No one in the world has ever walked through life just like you. Your audience deserves all of you, not some of someone else. Your stories. Your beliefs. Your shortcomings. Your expertise. You.

To tap into your inner-Elvis, answer the following questions as quickly and honestly as you can…

What is your greatest strength?

What do you most believe in?

Who are you in three words or less?

What do you know the most about?

What are three interesting personal stories?

Describe your favorite type of presentation.

Describe your favorite audience make-up.

If you only had only one thing to say to the world, what would it be?

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Power of a "Best" Friend

1. Be yourself.

2. If you can't be yourself, be someone better.

3. If you can't be someone better, hang out with someone who brings out your best - a "best" friend.

4. You will then be yourself and someone better.

5. Your "best" friend brings out the best in you because they expect to find it and they look until they find it. You should do the same - for yourself and others.

Monday, April 28, 2008

PLI Presentation Tip Post

Click over to the Personal Leadership Insight blog for a quick post on how to improve your next presentation...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Developing Your Presentation's Flow

Authenticity Rule #5 is Know Your Flow.

How do you decide how your presentation is going to flow? What is your presentation going to be about, what goes into the outline, and what comes first, second, third, etc.? Here is a simple strategy I have used roughly 2,250 times (I have given over 150 presentations every year for 15 years.)

1. Begin by asking, "What is at the core of my presentation?" Your answer should be the most important concept, idea, or learning lesson you want the audience to walk away with. It should be simple, clear and meaningful. Everything in your presentation should make your core stronger, clearer to understand, and/or easier to remember/implement.

2. Detail out the presentation logistics: number of people, presentation length, room set-up, audience ages/backgrounds/reasons for being there/expectations/etc., AV tools at your disposal, and organization makeup/history/challenges/etc.

3. Brainstorm a long list of options to support your core and that will fit with the logistics. Your list will include stories, more points, quotes, visuals, pictures, props, activities, exercises, videos, handout pieces, facts, data, etc. This list should be intentionally long. Everything won't make it into the presentation, but you need to get all your options in front of you.

4. Now you are ready to start putting together your flow (i.e. - your outline). This is simply an exercise in pulling elements out of your options list and moving them into your outline based on these characteristics: powerful, fresh, creative, deep in meaning, easy to understand, authentic to you and your story/experience/expertise, and connects back to your core (point #1.) Take into consideration the time elements and remember to plan on using only 80% of your allotted time. The cardinal sin for any presenter is going over time. This normal happens by trying to fit in too much information. Remember, less is more.

This strategy will work for short presentations (1-10 minutes), keynotes, workshops, breakout sessions, informational presentations, etc. Remember to save not only your final flow, but also your options list. We use Microsoft Outlook Exchange for our contacts/calendar/etc. and Blackberry devices. I save the final flows and the option lists in both the calendar notes for the events and the memo/notes feature. This allows me to be able to access both via my laptop and my Crackleberry and everything is backed up on both devices, as well as the Exchange server.

A future post will officially introduce to Authenticity Rule #5...

The 7-Iron Rule - Know Your Flow

You can only improve after you learn how a correct presentation flow feels.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The PowerPoint Show

The images I use for my leadership PowerPoint show can be viewed and downloaded here...


PS - The song I use is by Mat Kearney - Won't Back Down.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Newest Version of the Rules

Well, the rules are constantly changing, evolving and (hopefully) improving. Check out the new pics and the new verbiage at...

Click on each image and the explanations will be at the bottom. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Big Genuine Thank You

The first round of interviews for my upcoming Authenticity Rules book is complete. This is a great big "thank you" to the 12 presentation experts who agreed to lend their time to add richness, depth and wisdom to the final product.

"Great presentations are real conversations."
Rowan Manahan - The Fortify Your Oasis Blog

"Authenticity is everything."
Ben Decker - Decker Communications

"People just don’t realize it’s ok to be yourself."
Lisa Braithwaite - The Speak Schmeak Blog

"A presenter’s aura on stage should just be an enhanced version of reality... a larger version because of the context."
Tom Antion - Antion & Associates

"There is something charming about speakers who aren’t polished, but are experts, passionate and experienced."
Jane Atkinson - The Speaker Launcher

"Being real starts with knowing who you are and how you can connect "you" with the audience."
Bill Cordes - The "YOGOWYPI" Guru

"Authentic communication is the most credible form of communication because it’s 100% genuine."
Norma Hollis - The Authenticity Expert

"Authentic presenters don’t just focus on logic. People aren’t moved by logic. They are moved by emotion."
John Windsor - The YOU Blog

"The audience wants to feel a connection to us personally."
Kevin Eikenberry - The Remarkable Leader

"A presenter must give the audience a reason to want to listen and then evidence to believe what they are saying."
Dr. Jeff Magee - Jeff Magee, International

"Authenticity is absolutely critical. It allows you to be more passionate, more prepared, and more memorable."
Andrew Dlugan - The Six Minutes Blog

"Add depth to your presentation that is directly connected to you and your unique path in this world – stories, opinions, work experiences, pictures, people, mentors, etc."
Phillip Van Hooser - Van Hooser Associates, Inc.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Indirect Can be More Powerful

Sometimes a more indirect approach in your presentations can be more powerful than the direct route. I started thinking about this principle after changing the audio set-up at my office's laptop station. The first image below shows how my computer speakers have always set - pointed straight towards me. Loud is loud. Soft is soft. Very direct and very much in my face.

This second image shows how they set now. They are turned away from me and angled. If you look close you can tell that my laptop station is in the corner of the room. With the speakers turned away, the sound isn't blaring right at me and because they are pointed at an angle toward the corner, the sound bounces a few times before it gets to me. This produces a richer, more complex arrangement. I have no idea where I got the idea to do this, but it blew me away. Now I need the new BOSE Computer MusicMonitor speakers and my ears will literally die and go to heaven.

The presentation lesson here is by being indirect (i.e. - engaging different tools and resources instead of just coming right out and saying your point) you can add layers, richness and power. Your point still needs to be said. This is not a diversion or avoidance strategy. This is an experience strategy. The experience of listening to my laptop station music is greater now than before. The experience of your presentation (the sounds, the sights, the feel, the interaction, the emotion, the logic, etc.) will stay with your listeners long after your words are gone.

So, how can you apply this "indirect is powerful" dynamic to your presentations? Here are a few suggestions...

1. Show a picture without text and let the picture tell the story.
2. Give one strong statistic instead of ten weak ones.
3. Start with a metaphor from your personal experiences highlighting your point instead of starting with your point first.
4. Have a self-running slide show running in the background providing visual context and extensions to your words.
5. Use a simple prop.
6. Engage the audience in an experiential interaction allowing them to experience your point, not just hear it.
7. Show a video.
8. Ask for audience responses.
9. Have the audience talk to each other about one of your points.
10. Use music to set the mood. Remember to angle the speakers. :)

I would love to see some comments on other "indirect" strategies you have used or seen.

Men love women.
Women love diamonds.
Bloggers love comments.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Fight the Authenticity Fight

Authentic presenters must constantly fight to be real. There are always enemies just waiting to seige your authenticity. This is why I am going to spend an entire chapter on knowing your enemies in my upcoming Authenticity Rules book.

An important concept I will spend a future blog post outlining is that being yourself up front is not something you fight to get. It is something you fight to keep. Effective presenters don't need to learn anything to be real. However, they spend a lifetime learning how to be real AND really good. They also spend a tremendous amount of intellectual energy fighting to keep their authenticity.

The greatest fight is between two forces...

1. I have to spend a load of time getting ME right.

(i.e. - you must know yourself, you must be ok with yourself and you must be comfortable with who you are, how you look, your content knowledge, etc.)

2. I have to then get my mind off of me and put it on the audience.

(i.e. - thoughts about you and your content have to be in your subconscience when presenting to make room for one singular conscience thought - your audience.)

This is a perfect example of the difference between just being a real presenter and a real AND really good presenter. Since the end goal of any presentation is to move the audience forward in some form or fashion, the presenter's focus can not be on self. It must be on others.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Finding Your Authentic Style: Intentional Observation

How do you find your authentic style? Here is the four-part, one-time formula...

1. Seek out effective presenters in your discipline. If you are a teacher, sit in on the lectures of great teachers. If you are a professional speaker, attend conferences where your heroes or other highly successful speakers in your "market" are speaking. If you are an executive who gives presentations, ask the peers you admire for their presentation style if you can sit in on a few of their meetings/presentations.

2. Watch for what speaks to you. What resonates with you? What do you like about what they are doing? Take a ton of notes. Intentionally observe their content, their flow, their style, etc. Look for what you personally like. You aren't writing down their material. You are writing down why their material worked. If you can't naturally see it or if you can't put language to it, ask them personally to explain it to you. If they truly are a professional, they should be more than willing to share the psychology, the dynamics and/or the guiding principles they employ to effectively present.

3. What you are looking for and what you need to capture is their template. What is at the core of their "goodness?" What are the basic ingredients? What comes first, then second, then third, etc.? How did they create the response in you that you want to create in your audience?

4. Now comes the hard part - the creative part. Take their basic template and fill it with your stuff. Your story. Your material. Your experiences. Your expertise.

Legendary Nashville songwriter Harlan Howard suggested a similar guide for writing a hit country music song. His advice was to find a popular song, copy down the chord progression (i.e., G-D-C-D-C), the tempo and the rhythm. Then take that template and put your own melody and lyrics to it. If you do it right, you have the makings of a hit song.

If you do this right in the presenting world, you will have the makings of your authentic style. You have adapted a professional's flow that connects with you as an audience member (huge personal authenticity test) and then you fill it with your story. It takes a tremendous amount of purposeful work, but it is well worth it.

Hat tip to my mentor and master presenter, Bill Cordes, for inspiring this post.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Authenticity Rule #3 - Know Your Audience

Authenticity Rule #3 is Know Your Audience.

(Review AR #1 - Know Thyself and AR #2 - Know Your Content)

Why is knowing your audience so important? Well, unless you are a "one-act presenter," you need to vary what you do and what you say based on each particular audience. Tony Bennett doesn't need to change what he does each night because he is a one-act presenter. These songs. This voice. This band. And his audience wants exactly those three things. Save a few comedians and magicians, presenters need to adjust their "act" each time to serve the needs and expectations of that particular set of humans. Zig Ziglar prepares three hours for each presentation. He invests this time to get intimate with that event's audience members, their company, their expectations and the content he will deliver.

The more familiar you are with your audience's challenges, questions, needs and expectations of you, the better equipped you are to help them move forward, to give them value and to connect with them.

When you are preparing for your next presentation, ask yourself a list of audience-focused questions...

What will the audience expect to learn from me?
What type of mood will they be in?
What questions will they potentially ask me?
What will they absolutely not want me to do?
What barriers will they have up?
How can I connect with them at the very first?
How will they be dressed?

The answers to some of these questions will be event-based and some of them will be audience-based. If you are speaking at a conference, the event will drive most of the answers because everyone will have more in common (at a once-a-year event, away from home environment, by myself or with only a few peers, expecting to be entertained, looking for next-level information/inspiration/ideas, etc.). If you are speaking to a group in their home element or at a very regular meeting, the answers will be driven more by individual needs, small group dynamics or whatever the focus is of that particular meeting (new employee training, monthly leadership meeting, weekly staff pow-wow, etc.)

The Geniune Gem - By investing a large amount of time focusing on the audience and thinking about their world you are able to be more authentic because you will better understand how to bring value to that particular group using your expertise, your experience and your style. Your authenticity is layered. There are many real parts of you. Once you understand your audience, you will know which layer(s) they will best connect with their genuine needs.

BONUS - Another quick AR #3 tip is to mingle with your audience before the event/meeting to learn names (that you can reference in your presentation) and to ask "in the moment" questions (what are you expecting, what challenges are you facing right now, what needs to happen in the next 45 minutes for this meeting to be a 10 for you, etc.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Thoughts From An Expert on Authenticity

Norma Hollis is the recognized expert on authenticity. Her web site has a number of relevant and actionable tools for developing your authenticity as a presenter. Here are her overview thoughts on what authentic communication means:

You are speaking or presenting from the deepest part of your being – not simply reciting words.

You present your ideas in a way that others can understand and find meaningful.

You connect with your audience, staff, or customers in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

Your message is credible because it doesn’t hide the truth – it is comprised of facts, not hype.

Your presentation is designed around your audience’s needs and not your personal agenda.

Your communication style is transparent and believable.

You walk your talk.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Listen Like a Leader

Today, Thursday March 13, at 1 pm Central Time, you will have the opportunity to learn more about my Personal Leadership Insight blog post on Listening Like a Leader via a live teleconference featuring yours truly.

The following link will take you to the Kevin Eikenberry Group's teleconference page to learn how to listen in - no charge.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Complete Authenticity Rules Collection

The Authenticity Rules book is in the works.  Each chapter will focus on one of the seven Authenticity Rules.  The current version of the book cover and the full rules list are below...



(Thanks to everyone on Facebook for voting on their favorite.)


Authenticity Rule #1 - Know Thyself

This chapter is about the basics of why authenticity as a speaker, trainer, teacher or executive presenter is so powerful.  It outlines ways to know if you are being authentic and how to leverage it when you are.


Authenticity Rule #2 - Know Your Content

Effective communicators bring tremendous value to the table when they are real experts in their topic area.  This chapter is about how to reach expert status.


Authenticity Rule #3 - Know Your Audience

You have to spend a large amount of time not thinking about yourself if you are going to be your true self as a presenter.  This chapter covers how to better understand your world by getting into your audience's world.


Authenticity Rule #4 - Know Your Tools

Tiger Woods would be just another Joe if the 6-iron didn't exist.  Yet, Tiger can do things with his 6-iron Joe can only dream of doing.   Know Your Tools is about mastering the tools at your disposal as they relate to your unique style.


Authenticity Rule #5 - Know Your Flow

Genuine communicators understand human nature, the inner-working of the human brain, learning theories, crowd think, etc.  Chapter 5 breaks these down into tangible, relevant, and actionable strategies.


Authenticity Rule #6 - Know Your Enemies

The evil forces working against you being an authentic communicator are addressed throughout the book, but they are tackled individually here.


Authenticity Rule #7 - Know the Rules

I have coached speakers for over ten years.  This chapter is dedicated to the truck load of tips, strategies, suggestions, ideas, concepts and stories I have that will help you be a more authentic speaker, trainer, teacher or executive presenter.