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.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Generating Enthusiasm Out of Thin Air

You never quite know what state of mind the audience will be in.  After 20 years of speaking and training I have developed a good sense on it, but I still am purposeful about planning in techniques to get the audience as engaged as possible.  This is vital for two main reasons:

1. The audience walks in with baggage.  Thoughts, experiences, feelings, relationships, projects, etc. from the previous week, day or even hour.  It is your responsibility to give them a compelling reason to check out of those and into the moment.

2. The audience needs time to ramp up.  You've been (hopefully) thinking about your content and how it applies to this audience for days, weeks, even years. However, your audience is just now getting it for the first time.  They need time to get up to speed.  Taking a few moments at the first of your program to get them engaged is effective at accomplishing this.

So, what are the techniques I use consistently to generate enthusiasm from the audience for today, this program, this content, this moment, etc.? Following is my standard checklist.

Lights - Either very bright or very dark with a very bright focal point (video, stage, etc.)

Temperature - The room should feel chilly when it is empty. It depends on the size of the room/audience, but I normally ask the facility to set the temperature at 68. Colder equals higher attention.

Music - Upbeat, age appropriate, etc. Have it playing before anyone walks into the room and use it throughout your program.  I have many moments where the audience is working with a partner and I always play music while the chatting or working is going on.  (Click here to view an image of my lists.)

Seating - The closer to the front and the closer to one another the better. If you have to assign ushers, rope off sections or take out chairs, do it.  It is that influential.

Me - Be nice, even care-ismatic. You can't yell people into getting excited. Reward whatever involvement they do give. Don't say things like "come on guys - you can do better than that." Smile. Look like you are enjoying the moment. Talk quicker. Walk quicker. Look and sound excited yourself. Don't overdo it though. Develop a sensibility of how much is just enough.

Level Awareness - This one is critical.  If I am walking into an evening session, I know the enthusiasm is most likely already at a 7 or 8. My job really is to just keep them there.  However, if I am walking in to a morning session or a traditionally boring session, they might be at a 3 or 4. My job then is to get them to a 5 or 6. I need to remember that they will probably never get to a 7 or 8 and I shouldn't expect that or work to get them there.

Be Specific with Instructions - You can't just tell a group of people to get excited. You have to tell them how you want them to act. ask them to... Yell, clap, stand up, high-five your neighbor, etc. Be specific.

If you have a specific situation or group of people you commonly deal with or know is coming up and you want some ideas, just email me.  owner (at) yournextspeaker.com.  I'll reply back quickly and with some ideas.  Good luck!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Big List of Tips from Recent Training

Following are twenty plus tips that were listed by the audience as the biggest take-aways from our two-day intensive effective presentation skills training.  This is a great list to bookmark and keep handy as a reminder before and during your next presentation planning moment.  

Top Learning Lessons from a Recent Effective Presentation Skills Training

* CAKE - The four techniques for controlling nerves. 
* http://authenticityrules.blogspot.com/2008/07/nervousness-its-piece-of-cake.html

* PowerPoint Upgrading - Less content, full-bleed/high-res images, keep lights on, use stark contrast in colors between font and background. 
* http://authenticityrules.blogspot.com/2008/01/tips-for-putting-together-powerful.html 
* http://authenticityrules.blogspot.com/2007/08/putting-power-back-into-powerpoint.html 
* http://authenticityrules.blogspot.com/2007/10/10-no-nos-for-powerpoint-use.html 

* Give Larger Packet At The End - This helps with focus. If you need to give them something during the meeting, give them pads to take notes and/or a one-sheet with the most important content over viewed in bullet-point form. 

* It’s Always My Fault - Take full responsibility for whatever happens in the presentation room. Never blame the audience, the time of day, the environment, the projector, etc. Learn how to leverage and make the most of every situation. Remember the example I gave about giving a presentation at the end of a conference where only 25% of the attendees are left. Celebrate that - those are the committed ones. 

* Pay The Debt - Leaders give unconditionally and step up with a smile on your face and love in your heart to help where others can't or won't. 

* Simple is Good - Keep the moving parts of your presentation to a minimum. Only include a prop, PowerPoint, handouts, etc. if it is the absolute best way to communicate that portion of the presentation. 

* Small Things Add Up - Everything in the room either adds, subtracts or distracts from your credibility. 

* SPG - Debrief/processing technique. Solo, Pair, Group. Most times when I use it I leave off the Solo. 

* Use Beliefs and Values as Evidence - If you need to convince someone to implement a change in meeting or presentation technique, you will need evidence that is convincing. The best kind takes you and that person out of it. 

* Positive Self-Talk - Biggest barrier for most professionals to take their speaking abilities to the next level is the words, "I am not good in front of people." Stop using these words. If you can't stop, just add the words "right now". I am not good in front of people right now. You can get there. 

* 7-Minute Rule - Most important single strategy to increasing audience engagement and content retention. 7-Minute Rule - Change the way the audience inputs information every seven minutes or so. Options: listen to you, listen to a peer, think, take notes, read notes, read flip chart, watch video, watch PowerPoint, do an activity, partner talk, group work, etc. 

* Have a List Goal When Flip-Charting - When getting group ideas on a flip chart, set a goal for the number of submissions the group needs to give. This creates an open loop in the room that everyone will naturally want to help close. 

* Emotional Connection - To increase engagement, include the human element in every presentation. Tell a story, let us know you better, etc. 

* Engagement Options - Emotional, Intellectual, Social, Physical. 
* http://authenticityrules.blogspot.com/2012/06/how-to-get-keep-manage-attention.html 

* Just the Right Amount of Data - Less is more. 

* Metaphors - Use easily recognizable metaphors to explain concepts that not many people in the room (or the elevator) understand. 

* Put Yourself in Their Shoes - Think about how you would like to be approached or spoken with if you were an audience member. Also, plan your presentation according to their barriers, understanding level of your content, how they can connect with you, what you have in common with them, how they will want to or need to apply your content, etc. 

* CVS - Every time you see this pharmacy, you will think of this tip. CVS - Concrete, Visual, Simple. Keep your content and presentation structure simple and easy to follow. 

* Know Your Enemies - Understand what will be barriers to the audience checking in fully and plan strategies to leverage these. 

* Hook it - Use acronyms, list, etc. to provide the audience a better chance to remember your content a week later. Give them hooks to hang your content on. 

* Have a Clear Purpose - Start with this. Why are we here? What is the purpose of today's meetings or presentation. Be specific and audience-focused here. 

* 30/7/90 - The three Flow time rules. 30-Seconds - The audience decides in the first 30-seconds whether they want to fully check-in or not. 7-Minute Rule. 90-Minutes - Take a full break every 90-minutes. 

* List of Questions - http://authenticityrules.blogspot.com/2012/12/questions-to-ask-before-your-next.html 

* 7 Authenticity Rules 
 * Gravity Rule - Know your self 
 * Iceberg Rule - Know your content 
 * YourSpace Rule - Know your audience 
 * Surgeon Rule - Know your tools 
 * 7-Iron Rule - Know your flow 
 * Mask Rule - Know your enemies 
 * Mavericks Rule - Know your difference-makers 

* Misc. Resources Mentioned

 * http://www.AuthenticityRules.com 
 * http://plileadership.blogspot.com 
 * http://www.YourNextSpeaker.com 
 * http://www.evernote.com 
 * http://www.DropBox.com

Friday, August 30, 2019

Questions to Ask Before Your Next Presentation

Paraphrasing Albert Einstein, you have to ask the right questions if you're going to find the right answers. This is true for effective presentation planning. Following is a list of must-ask questions that will help guide your work as you develop your next presentation.

- What is the core purpose of my program?
- Why should the audience care about my content?
- What are the top 3-4 pieces of information I hope my audience will remember one week after my presentation?
- What makes me a credible expert in this area?
- What are stories I can use to get the human element into my presentation?
- How will I purposefully get the audience interacting with me, as well as each other?
- What do I think are going to be the common questions audience members will ask?
- What is the current knowledge level of the audience regarding my topic?
- What are the barriers to the audience engaging?
- Am I primarily informing, educating or motivating?
- What will the first 30-seconds sound like?
- How am I helping the audience follow my presentation?
- What is the closing call to action?
- What do I expect the audience to do with my information?
- How am I helping the audience retain the information; i.e. encouraging note taking.
- What props, AV elements, handouts, etc. are necessary?
- What content needs to be taken away because it doesn't strongly support the core purpose or is information overload?
- Where can the audience access my content and contact information after my presentation is over?