Monday, January 17, 2011

OSU Graduate Student Questions

Recently I presented my Presenters in Gear program on campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma to the Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business graduate students.  Following are a few questions they asked after the program and my answers.

How do you combat being nervous?

The most important thing to know about nervousness is that it is perfectly normal and actually necessary. The secret isn't to get rid of nervousness (that results in a blanching of emotion) - the goal is to control your nerves. You do this by knowing your content top to bottom, putting your full attention on the audience before and during the presentation and getting as much experience as possible.

How do you handle audience members who walk out in the middle of a presentation?

Do not worry about them. Don't bring any attention to them. Forget them the second you see them leave.

How do I recover my composure to successfully conclude my presentation?

If you ever need to recover because you mess up, forget something, etc., just move on quickly to the next portion of your presentation. Don't linger in the moment. The conclusion of your presentation should include one of the following elements:

  • A call to action.  What do you want them to do with the information you just gave them?
  • A re-cap of your main points.
  • The most important/critical point/data/fact supporting your presentation.
  • A brief Q&A (ONLY if you facilitate a creation of questions from the audience during your presentation.)
  • A multimedia tool (video, self-running slide show, etc.) that puts an exclamation point on your presentation.

How to keep a flow going, connecting two slides?

Slides should follow the natural flow of your presentation. Transitions connect your main points (i.e. - slides), so as long as your transitions are tight, you should be fine with moving from slide to slide. The best transitions tie together a key element of two points. I.e. - So, as you can see, our global population's energy needs will be overwhelming over the next 20-50 years. This brings us to needing to understand why we must act now on mining the rich resources that exist below the ocean floor.

What are some great ways to get as many people as possible to make lasting behavioral change based on your communication?

Lasting behavioral change is a very personal issue and the motivations behind it changes from person to person. Even the most powerful communicator can hope to only effect change in people for a short period of time. Beyond that it is up to the individual. So, a better question is - what are some great ways to get as many people as possible to begin walking down the path of lasting behavioral change? The answer to that question is the core elements of all great orators:

  • An intense passion for your content and for your audience doing something with it.
  • A trust from the audience in your expertise, authenticity and likability.
  • A message that is clear, specific, action-oriented, simple in nature and resolves a problem/challenge/question that is relevant and urgent to the audience.

Where do speakers get professional training? Who is the best individual or company to get training?

We train many speakers every year - professionals, students, pastors, etc. Let me know if you want to chat about working together ( Beyond that there are many options. Dale Carnegie Training and Toastmasters are the first two that come to mind.

If I have a tendency to speak too fast during a presentation, how do I train myself to keep a slower pace and speak more clearly?

Speed, like tone and volume, should be laced with variety throughout a presentation. Therefore, it is perfectly fine to have bursts of "too fast" during your presentation as long as it is balanced with a slower pace. You need to be conscience about including these slower pace times the first couple of times you begin working on it. Eventually, this will become the way you speak naturally.

How do I learn to speak loud and with energy? Are there any books, classes, something you can recommend?

This is a process of modeling, practicing, adjusting, modeling, practicing, adjusting, etc. You have the ability to be loud, you just haven't become comfortable doing it. The energy portion is where you need to watch someone present who you consider an energetic presenter and model what they do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mike Rowe Knows

"I guess it comes down to this. The world is desperate for authenticity. In business and in real life. In work and play. We crave it I think, because it’s in such short supply. Consequently, when we see it, we’ll wait for it. We’ll watch it on TV. We’ll stand in line for a chance to be near it. Fans, fishermen, CEO’s – we know authenticity when we see it, even if we’re not looking for it."

Mike Rowe, host of the TV hit Dirty Jobs