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Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

15 Seconds

In Attracting New Clients, BNI or other Networking Groups, Credibility, Public Speaking on February 28, 2011 at 9:29 PM

15 seconds. That is how much time you have to grab the attention of your audience. 15 seconds to prove what you are about to say is important to them! Use this time efficiently and they are yours. Waste it and you can watch your audience fidget, turn away, and mentally leave the room.  In   one-on-one conversations, you will be able to watch their eyes dart about before they divert the conversation to a new topic.      

We know the value of being clear on what we are trying to say. Now we shift the focus from us and look at why it is important to them, our audience.      

Start your talk with a provocative statement that will capture your audience right off the bat. Think of a rhetorical question, a joke, a story, a statistic or a dramatic statement that will peak interest and make them want to hear the rest of what you have to say. Find something that demonstrates why what you want to say is of value to them.      

Think about this: when you buy a book – is it wrapped in a jacket (or cover) that is designed to intrigue you or is it in plain brown wrapping? The purpose of the cover is to make you want to pick the book up and look deeper. Think of your opening statement as the cover of the book – what are you going to put there to make others want to know what is inside?      

An all-too-common mistake is to starting the talk with the verbal equivalent of brown paper wrapping – uninteresting background, the usual thank yous, or other irrelevant information. The audience is lost before you have begun.      

When you stand up to speak (or walk into someone’s office) – be ready with a good opening line that is to-the-point and captivating. It should be clearly thought out, well rehearsed and directly tied to your main message, even if you are speaking one-on-one.      

Try this experiment – watch other people speak. Do they start with something of interest to you or do they begin by telling you things you don’t really care about? How do you react to this situation and what is it that makes you stay tuned?      

The first 15 seconds of your talk are critical to your success. Take time to plan it well so that you grab their attention and make your audience want to listen.      

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Pitfalls of Power Point – 6 and 7

In BNI or other Networking Groups, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets on February 21, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Pitfalls of PowerPoint

(And How to “Purge” Them From Your Presentations)

By Dr. Jon Hooper, Guest Author for iSpeakEASY

Pitfall #6:  Pitfall #6: Importing Low Resolution Internet Images 

“Homer, I need photos of ducks for my PowerPoint show.”

“No problem, Marge, I will just grab some images from the Internet.”

But there is a problem, Homer! Many Internet sites use small-sized, low-resolution images that allow the website to load faster. When imported into PowerPoint and expanded to a more desirable size, these images become “pixelated.” In other words, the small, square pixels that make up the image become visible to the eye and the image does not look very sharp (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Low-resolution images that fill the screen often look “pixilated.”

 

(Photo credit: Donna Dewhurst/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

 

 

 

 

 

To purge the pitfall: The best “resolution” (pun intended) to this problem is to import medium- to high-resolution images. If you do not know the resolution of an image, import it into your show then project the slide at the size your audience will see it. If it looks sharp, you are in business. If the image you need is only available in low resolution, keep its size small on your PowerPoint slide. Consider adding sharp-looking text above, below, or next to the low-resolution image to give the slide a more acceptable overall appearance (see Figure 2). If adding text is inappropriate, consider importing more than one image onto the slide so you don’t end up with too much “dead space.” For example, Marge might add shots of several different ducks to each slide.

Figure 2. Keeping an imported low-resolution image small and adding text around the image can give a more acceptable overall appearance.

 

                                                                                                                                                  

Pitfall #7: Not Compressing Higher Resolution Images

“Homer, thanks for only loading higher resolution images into my PowerPoint show. Everything looks sharp, but now my show takes forever to load…and sometimes it freezes!”

“Marge, do not sweat it…we will just delete the last half of the show to solve these problems.”

While higher resolution images give your show a sharper look, they also make your show’s file size larger. This increases the time it takes to load the show (it is really nerve wracking wondering if your show is going to load) and can cause your computer to freeze.

To purge the pitfall: PowerPoint’s “Compress Pictures” feature is a better solution than Homer’s “delete the last half” idea. This feature discards unnecessary data from each picture without reducing the picture’s quality. Before you initiate such compression, however, give the show a new name (so you will be able to distinguish your compressed show from the original, uncompressed show). For example, you may want to save your “Tahiti.ppt” show as “TahitiCOMPRESSED.ppt.” If for some reason you do not like how the compressed show’s images look, you can go back to the original.

Final Thoughts

PowerPoint shows that contain sharp images capture and hold audience attention better. The guidelines above will help you achieve such shows while keeping file sizes manageable.

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This column is a series designed to help enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Each edition pinpoints pitfalls that are commonly faced when planning, preparing, and presenting PowerPoint shows.

Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping natural and cultural resource professionals their communication efforts. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting. Contact Jon at jonkhooper@hotmail.com.

© 2011 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

Pitfalls of PowerPoint – #4 and #5

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2011 at 9:42 PM

Pitfalls of PowerPoint

(And How to “Purge” Them From Your Presentations)

By Dr. Jon Hooper, Guest Author for iSpeakEASY

 

“Animation…used intelligently can add tremendous impact.”

Ellen Finkelstein

 

Pitfall #4: Using Obnoxious Special Effects

Think back to when you received a new toy as a kid. If it had buttons, knobs, or switches, you pushed, turned, or flipped them over and over until Mom or Dad said, “If I hear that siren one more time, I’ll take the toy away!”

Now think about the first time you powered up PowerPoint. You quickly discovered it had many buttons, whistles, and whirls that created special effects. You found it fun to use many of these effects in your shows. Your audiences seemed amused by the special effects at first, but after the 5th or 6th slide where each letter of each word appeared on the screen individually accompanied by a machine gun, typewriter, or whooshing sound, you thought you heard someone say, “Do that one more time and I’m going to find a real machine gun and use it on you!”

PowerPoint’s sound effects, animations, and other special effects can easily be overdone. The message of your talk is what you want your audience to remember, not how well (or poorly) you animated the show.

To purge the pitfall:

Use special effects sparingly and with a specific purpose in mind (such as when you need to draw attention to a specific object on a slide). Be consistent in how you apply special effects. For example, animate lines of text on a slide in the same fashion. Don’t have the first line fade in, the second line appear word by word, and the third line bounce in.

 

Pitfall #5: Under Using “Reveal” Animations

When you purchased your first digital camera, you probably opened up the instructions and were overwhelmed by the amount of information. When you starting reviewing the manual a step at a time, however, its instructions began to make sense (well, ok, at least some of them did!).

The same principle holds true for presenting information in a PowerPoint bullet chart or graph. Present all of the information at once and you overwhelm your audience. “Reveal” the information bit by bit and you enhance your audience’s ability to comprehend the key points.

To purge the pitfall:

Reveal lines of text on bullet charts and individual bars on graphs one at a time, rather than all at once (see Figures 1 and 2 below). You accomplish this by applying one of PowerPoint’s Custom Animation “entrance” effects (such as “fade”) to each line or bar. This lets your audience slowly digest your key points. It also keeps audience members from reading ahead or looking at bars on a chart that you have not yet explained.

Figure 1. Reveal lines of text on bullet charts one line at a time.

  

  
 

Figure 2. Reveal bars on charts one bar at a time.

 
Final Thoughts

PowerPoint’s special effects can be awesome or annoying. Do not be afraid to use them, but when you do, use them sparingly and with a specific purpose in mind.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

This column is a series designed to help enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Each edition pinpoints pitfalls that are commonly faced when planning, preparing, and presenting PowerPoint shows.

Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping natural and cultural resource professionals their communication efforts. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting. Contact Jon at jonkhooper@hotmail.com.

© 2011 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops