Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Few Techniques for Improving Your Presentations

I use Evernote exclusively for note capturing, saving and referencing.  It is a powerful tool for anyone in the business of content creation and sharing. One of the nice parts of having a few days off of the road is I get to peruse my (over 5,000) Evernote notes to discover content I haven't taught or shared in awhile.  I stumbled on this piece that I haven't shared on this blog.  This is seven pieces I put together a few years ago while working on my first presentations skills training book.  Enjoy.  I hope you find them valuable.

What is the engine of your speech? What is driving/fueling the interest for the listener? This is essential for you to discover early on in your preparing and then drive everything in your presentation back to it.  I suggest your engine be the one or two actions you expect the audience to take as a result of your presentation.

How do you look visually? Where is the connection with your message? If I video recorded you speaking and played it back without the audio, would I pick up any visual cues that illustrate your passion, conviction or even interest in your own topic?

I used to have a terrible time trying to remember what type of toothpaste I use. I would just put toothpaste on the grocery list and then get there and have no idea what type I used. Finally, I devised a plan. My  favorite toothpaste is Aquafresh Extra Fresh. I made a strong mental note of that phrase and it was easy to do because both words ended with "fresh." This catchy and memorable product name made it much easier to remember what type of toothpaste I like. If you want your audience to remember key thoughts and points, put a catchy title to them.

I love Oklahoma State University athletic events - basketball and football especially. OSU was playing Gonzaga at the Ford Center in OKC a few years ago. Both teams were in the top 15 and the event was packed. After the game, all 15,000 people were leaving and trying to cross a very busy intersection. There were two traffic cops out in the middle of the intersection "directing" traffic with red wands and whistles. There was a lot of waving and blowing going on, but not much understanding going on. The drivers, as well as the walkers, were totally confused as to when to go and when to stop. The traffic officers meant well and were there for our safety, but their communication tools were not effective. More than once, an accident was one red wand and whistle from happening. Make certain that the audience can clearly and effectively understand your communication tools. The red wands and whistles were a good idea, but some simple voice commands and arm movements would have served everyone much better.

For many summers I worked with 90 of the nation's best high school basketball players at a summer camp. We work on leadership and communication skills. Everyone is in camp attire, so I always dressed just one step above with khakis and loafers and a polo shirt. One year I stepped it up with dress slacks, a nicer polo and my nice dress shoes. The response from the coaches (who are the same every year) was interesting, but not surprising. They treated me with more respect and with higher regard because they're perception of me was in direct relation with how I dressed.  A quick way to give your credibility and "perceived expertise level" a boost is to dress sharp.

If the penmanship is horrible and can't be read, the words become meaningless. Learn how to clearly and succinctly communicate your message to each audience.

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