Thursday, October 11, 2012

How to Build a Keynote

Follow the tips below the next time you are preparing to deliver a keynote.

1. Make only three main points. If you can, give each point equal time. Additionally, make all of them tie back to the one Big Idea of the keynote - an opening belief/concept/philosophy/etc.

2. Begin with a moment of engagement. 3-5 minutes. Physical, social, emotional, etc. Get them purposely engaged in the presentation at the very start.

3. Bridge that opening moment of engagement to your Big Idea. Present one challenge or question or leadership strategy that all your points will tie back into.

4. Use personal stories.

5. Help them think application.

6. If you are going to use a prop, video, music, crowd interaction, etc., keep it simple and practice beforehand.
Follow the 7-minute Rule. Reference this post -

7. Save your most emotionally charged or intellectually amazing message for the last.

8. Leave them with momentum; end your presentation with application action points. How do expect the audience to act differently because of your message?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

394720 or Bob

(This is a repost of one of my most popular posts...)

You enter a room labeled The Numbers Room. You see fifty people walking around with name tags on and they look like this...


You then leave and enter a different room labeled The Names Room. You see fifty different people walking around with name tags. Only this time the name tags look like this...


Question: In which room would you expect to remember more people's names? The answer, of course, is The Names Room. Remember this the next time you need to deliver a message that you want to stick. The people in The Numbers Room might very well be thoroughly and accurately labeled, but the chances their names would be remembered is slim to none. To deliver a "rememorable" message, leverage the hidden secrets of the Names Room.

1. Short. Less information is more.

2. Easily Recognizable. Short names and unique faces work for humans. Give your message a short name and only show its "unique face" and you have a winner.

3. Easily Recallable. Look away and spell Bob in your mind. Now look away and "spell" 394720 in your mind. Big difference. Use simple words and phrases to "stickify" your message.

4. Easily Transferable. How many Bobs have you ever heard of?

5. Overcomes the Knowledge Gap. You probably have never seen 394720 as a name before. So, your mind has to work harder to try to remember brand new information. However, you have heard, seen and dealt with the name Bob all your life. Find a way to take pre-existing words, concepts, or labels and give new meaning to them; instead of creating words from scratch.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Video Answers to Five Questions

Following is a link to a cool short (8 minutes) video of me answering a few basic presentation skills questions with another speaking expert.  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to Get, Keep & Manage Attention

Great speaking, teaching, training and presenting is strongly influenced by great attention management. The best content in the world can be missed by even by the best audience members if attention is not managed properly. The following four keys should play a major role in each of your presentations. When you implement these strategies, make sure you mix it up and add variety in how you use each.

1. Intellectual Engagement - Any great presentation gets people thinking in a new, fresh, and unique way. This is the meat of the talk and you have to have it, but to really engage the brain you have to give new information, tell a unique story, package the info simply and creatively, etc.

2. Emotional Engagement - This is the Ying to the Yang of intellectual engagement. People are driven by and pulled around by emotions. If there is no heart or humor in your presentation, you are missing a key engagement tool. So, get them laughing or tell a heart-felt story. Get the human element in your presentation, even if you are delivering dry, serious content.

3. Physical Engagement - All physical movement, from high-impact ropes courses to a simple knuckles bump, creates a boost in energy. Leverage this simple principle and include an appropriate amount of physical movement in your presentation. For more content heavy presentations, this movement could include: giving a high-five to a partner, turning your chairs forward, standing up and switching partners, standing up and interacting with others, etc.

4. Social Engagement - This is one of the easiest techniques to pull off and yet so many speakers do not use it. Get the audience interacting with each other. This could be as simple as, "Turn to a partner and teach them the lesson you just learned using your own words." If all the audience is doing for 30/45/60 minutes is just listening to you, you are not effectively managing their valuable attention resource.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Four Keys to Effective Concept Teaching

The next time you find yourself teaching conceptual information (possible solutions, best case scenarios, suggestions for change) to an audience, structure the flow of each point using the following four keys:

1. Understanding - Go CVS on your approach to bringing everyone to the same level of understanding. Be Concrete, Visual and Simple with your words.

2. Value - A concept is only as good as it is valuable. This requires personalization for that particular audience on that particular day. Why should they care today and why should they act tomorrow?

3. Barriers - Anytime you present a solution or action without addressing the potential barriers to application, you are leaving your audience assuming... and people always assume the worst. Your idea is dead the minute you stop talking.

4. Application - Leave your audience with momentum by clearly explaining where and how they can practically and personally apply the concept. This is a must for any presenter with the goal of motivating change.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

7 Authenticity Rules Quick Lessons

A few quick lessons for applying each of the seven Authenticity Rules.

1. Know Your Self - What is your unique take on your content? Give them your opinion, your viewpoint, a story from your life, etc. Quotes from famous people work, but anyone (and everyone) can do that. Give us something new, fresh and, therefore, more interesting.

2. Know Your Content - Prepare your material early. Become intimately familiar with your content so when you present you can focus on the audience, not on what you are going to say next.

3. Know Your Audience - Ask yourself these questions:

  • What specific action(s) do you want your audience to take after the presentation?
  • What barriers are going to exist between you/your content and the audience?
  • How are you going to connect early and often with them?
  • What do they already know about your topic?
4. Know Your Flow - Follow the 7-Minute Rule: Switch up the way they input information every seven minutes or so. IE - listen to you, take notes, do an activity, watch a video, share with a partner, reflect, listen to a peer talk, group discussion, look at a slide, etc.

5. Know Your Tools - Less is more. Keep your props and resources simple and easy to use.

6. Know Your Enemies - Control your nerves; don't get rid of them. Use CAKE:

C - Change your perspective. Think of nerves as a good thing.
A - Audience-focused. Put your attention on them, not you.
K - Knowledge. Know your stuff top to bottom.
E - Experience. Speak and speak often.

7. Know Your Difference-Makers - Advanced speakers need to continue to learn more and get better. Rookie speakers need to ask questions, overcome your fears and get good.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Authenticity Rules E-Book

The new Authenticity Rules E-Book is here.  Following are just a few of the questions answered in this complete speaking and facilitation handbook.
  • What is the best way to control nerves?
  • What are your three biggest enemies?
  • Why is authenticity so important?
  • What is the CVS Formula?
  • What makes a great keynote?
  • How do you keep an audience engaged?
  • Why does it matter how you give driving directions?
  • What can you learn from a kangaroo?
  • What is the Can’t Ignore Club?
  • How do you make boring content engaging?
  • What is the 7-Minute Rule?
  • What are energy gaps?
  • What is the difference between effective and non-effective coaching?
  • How do you establish credibility?
  • What are the steps to effective workshop planning?
  • How do you handle difficult audience members?
  • How do you know what the audience wants to hear?
  • Why does your personality determine how you should build a speech?
  • How is a surfer like a great presenter?
  • What is the MOVE Formula?
  • What do you do when a herd of water buffaloes attack your presentation?
Click here to purchase your copy today ($5).

Friday, March 30, 2012

5 Keys to a Successful Presentation

Here are five key elements great presenters and facilitators consider paramount to a successful performance:

• Tight content flow. This includes the first few seconds, how points connect, how much time is spent on a point or activity, the length of time until the audience changes the way they input information, a tight connection between activity/story - point - personal application, the closing, etc.

• Great questioning. If your presentation includes any calls to action, you must include great questions to lead the audience where you want them to go. Great questions result in a challenge, context setting, creating a gap for the audience to fill with future behavior or information and personal application.

• Strong material. It is true that how you look and how you talk are important, but strong material is very compelling. Great content is fresh, creative, story-based, true (or truth glorified), personal, and joined at the hip with your key points.

• Content knowledge. Great presenters know their material top to bottom. The key understanding is that you have to practice to be natural. You can only hold one thought in your head at any given time. This one thought cannot be what to say next. This is also one of the key challenges with many coaching environments I have seen - trying to coach delivery when the speaker doesn't know the material top to bottom. You can't work on body language or even demonstrate your true speaking ability if you are preoccupied with remembering what to say.

• Positive and flexible frame of mind. This is the key value point between coaching to perfect and coaching to performance. The real world of presenting is unpredictable and messy. Your best laid plans are going to get dominated by an angry audience member, an AV glitch, having less time to present, etc. The best presenters cultivate a mindset that is naturally positive and upbeat and is spontaneously pliable. When things go off-course, they go with it. Literally!


Monday, March 5, 2012

10 Fresh Leadership Activities

Just got home from another tremendous PLI trip to California for the annual CADA state convention. What an amazing group of activities directors, teachers, administrators and staff. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the CADA family.

Click here to download my handout from my Saturday Meet The Pros roundtable.  It contains ten of my newest leadership activities that I lead in my own keynotes, workshops, camps and conferences.

Enjoy and remember - you can have the best ingredients in the world, but the only way to ensure it doesn't come out tasting like Play-Doh is to become a master chef. These activities and the impact they can create are only as powerful as your skill in leading them allows.  Good luck.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Leadership Activities Series

If you aren't a subscriber or reader of our leadership blog, you will want to jump over there ASAP.  We have a new series running on some of our top leadership activities you can use for your next event, class or training.  Check it out!




Monday, January 16, 2012

Preparation IQ: Part 4

Many presentation coaching sessions this month. A big part of preparing for these moments is identifying the possible reasons why my clients wouldn't apply the lessons. Here is a short list I keep front of mind:

- Don't understand fully enough to apply
- Don't believe it
- Don't see the value of it
- Goes too much against the grain
- Failure
- Sticking out
- Have to get approval
- Don't know where to apply it
- Have too many questions
- Too vested in current way
- Have to get others up to speed
- Too difficult
- Enjoys the current way
- Unsure of outcome
- Uncertain of application
- Not paid to
- Don't have to
- Apathy
- Someone else is coaching them to do it a different way.

Keeping my eye on this list helps me to frame the lessons better and approach any hesitation I sense in the sessions. The best lessons in the world are useless unless the student's hurdles to application are identified and discussed.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Preparation IQ: Part 3

Part three of the Preparation IQ Series will examine our upcoming Oklahoma FFA Stand and Deliver speech training conferences.


3-hours, 50-150 high school FFA members, purpose is to train them on how to write, research, practice, deliver and answer questions for competitive FFA speech contests.

Prep Techniques

- This is our 11th year to run these conferences, so we have the basic content, flow and techniques well developed. We start by reviewing the detailed notes we have gathered over the past few years. However, we sharpen the material every year by adding in new lessons we've developed, including new activities and providing updated resources.

- An important preparation technique for this type of skill-development conference is providing and clearly explaining resources and exercises the students can use and do when they get back home.

- There are 12 separate areas of speaking tips covered at Stand and Deliver, but in only three hours. Each section needs to be examined, but they are not all equally important. This means we have to prioritize and spend less time on the lower items.

- This is a "dry information" heavy program. Therefore, we must include a good amount of humor, interaction, small moments of fun, etc. The 7-Minute Rule must also be followed.

7-Minute Rule - Have the audience change the way they input information every seven minutes or so. Options: listen to speaker, watch a video, listen to other people speak, write notes, talk to partner, do an activity, reflective thinking, listen to music, group discussion, etc.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Preparation IQ: Part 2

Part two in our Presentation IQ Series focuses on a banquet speech I delivered tonight.


30 adults, kick-off banquet for community leadership program, second time I have presented for group, most audience members hadn't heard me before, purpose was to be light-hearted and provide leadership inspiration.

Prep Techniques

- The most important element for banquet talks is to provide a simple formula or outline for the audience to follow. Keep it light. Nobody wants to "work" thoughtfully at a meal event. Therefore, I chose my Impact Model as the outline: Influence, Spirit, Class, Legacy. The content also fit one of the purposes - to provide leadership inspiration.

- Emotional content just works at evening meal functions; people are more pliable and ready to be entertained and moved. So, I combed through my material and pulled out a few fun stories, humorous bits, engaging yet location-appropriate activities (everyone had pen and paper), etc.

- This is a good time to mention where I go to access my resources and material. I primarily use Evernote. It is a free note-taking software for the computer, web and any iOS device. It syncs across all devices, you can create categories, you can search by key word, and much more! I have over 1,300 notes, but when I prep for a program, I really only need to look through two - one that has a wholesale list of all the activities I regularly lead and one that lists out all of my stories/acronyms/lists/etc. I also use Dropbox for repeatable handouts/posters/activity sheets/etc.

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Preparation IQ: Part 1

My goal for this blog for 2012 is to provide insight into how I prepare for my programs with a new series titled Preparation IQ. Over the past 20 years, I have delivered thousands of keynotes, workshops and coaching sessions. This experience has provided me a wealth of secrets, strategies and formulas for preparing for presentation success. This year on this blog the secrets will be revealed.

Each time I will briefly overview the program details (audience members, content expectations, length, etc.) and then provide a few preparation techniques. I won't blog on each presentation (I have seven this week alone), but I will post many of them. Beginning with Ada Leadership YOUniversity...


25 adults, 6 hours of presentation time, content is networking strategies, electronic networking and "get to know you" activities.

Prep Techniques:

- This is my third year to present at this program, so step one is to review my notes from previous years. I get hired back because they like what I do. No reason to re-invent the wheel. Plus, there is an entirely new group of people each year, so I can use the same material.

- This program is very basic in terms of deliverables - help the class get to know each other and teach some networking skills. Therefore, it is very activity-heavy and data-light. I list out all the activities and exercises I plan on doing and create a basic outline. Since I have led all of them multiple times, I have a very good handle on how much time they will take. For this program, I know the audience members don't know each other very well, so I am very careful to keep the sharing at a surface level.

- I make sure I have all the material, A/V and handouts necessary for my game plan.

- One of the most important prep items is your "30-second sales pitch". This is a statement at the beginning of your presentation designed to inform the audience on why it is important and valuable for them to fully engage. It must be stated from their point of view. For example, my statement for Ada is, "This multi-month experience can either be just something you did once or it can be a life-changing experience. The biggest difference is whether or not you forge friendships with your classmates. Our mission today is to jump-start that process. Join me."

There is much more that goes into the prep of each program, but after the series is complete, you will know almost every technique I use. I hope they help kick your Preparation IQ way beyond Thunderdome!