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Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Put Your Gold Up Front

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Fund raising, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized, web video on September 29, 2011 at 10:38 AM

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The speaker at the lectern let go with a gem of a statement. I nudged the person next to me and said “that was brilliant”.  My companion looked up from his smart phone and said “Huh? I did not hear it, I must have been distracted.”

The fault was not with my companion. The speaker had spent so much time droning on with boring details that most people in the room had checked out. By the time he got to his golden statement, few people were paying attention to hear it. (If you know me, you might think it is amazing I caught this insightful statement). As I looked around the room, I noticed that most people were distracted with their phones, shuffling papers, or just looking out the windows. By the time the speaker said something worth hearing, few were listening.

If he had started his talk with his golden words everyone would have heard them. Not only that, it is more likely they would have paid attention to the rest of his comments. At the beginning of his talk, 100% of the audience was focusing 100% of their attention on him. Rather than capitalizing on this opportunity, he lost his advantage by going over dry details that were of low value and, perhaps, did not need to be said at all.

Everyone pays attention at the beginning of your talk – use this opportunity to share your golden thoughts and grab their attention.

In case you wondering, there is “gold” in the middle of the first paragraph.  If you are like most people though, you missed it. Just like the speaker in the story above, the gold is buried too far to be noticed. Look at the paragraph below and notice how much easier it is to find the gold.

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It Is Pretty, But Does It Work?

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on September 20, 2011 at 8:52 PM

Recently, while delivering a presentation at a workshop, I had a brainstorm on how to redesign a single slide so it would be more effective.  That evening, I spent 2 hours creating the new and improved slide.

I proudly showed my new creation at the next session of the workshop. Attendees viewed the original slide a week earlier. I wanted to gain feedback while demonstrating the proper process for slide testing. I explained the intended message as we reviewed the original and the new, improved slide.  During the ensuing discussion, I was politely informed that the new slide did not carry the impact of the original graphic. Participants suggested ways to modify my new slide to make it more effective, or at least make it work. I went back to my computer and at the next session I presented the revised slide and again asked for feedback. The unanimous response was my original slide was the most effective at conveying my point.

While I admit being disappointed with the response, the experience highlights the value of field testing slides.

Two ways to evaluate your slides

The Easy Way Is To Do It Myself

I evaluate my slides in one of two methods: The easiest method is to simply look at the slide myself and

see what I think. The other method is to show the slide to another person and see what they get out of it. The first method is by far easier and it takes little time or effort. The drawback is that I am testing the slide on some one that already knows what I am trying to say (that would be me), so I already know that I understand it.  What I gain in ease is lost in effectiveness, as my workshop attendees demonstrated.

The second method is harder, requires more time and effort, but provides better information. This method is especially useful if the slide is tested on a member of my target audience.

The best method for you depends on the slide and how important it is to get your message across.

Who is the expert: Me or my audience?

The Effective Way Is To Ask An "Expert"

Going back to my experience, using the first method of slide evaluation was my easy choice. I was very proud of my new creation as it was visually pleasing, simple, yet included cool animations. It fit my branding very well, an added bonus.  It was also inferior at making my point. The second method of evaluation was more difficult – it involved communicating with people and LISTENING to their words, even when I did not want to hear what they had to say.

I am back to using my original slide. It is simple, easy to understand, and most importantly – effective. It says to the audience what I want them to learn.

While it may appear I netted zero for my effort, the reality is I learned a lot. It reinforced the value of listening and demonstrated clearly the process I follow works.

I will keep my new slide. Maybe I can use it elsewhere.

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iSpeakEASY offers workshops on effective use of visual aids (including PowerPoint). Click  HERE for information.

© 2011 iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. Links encouraged, reprinting, copying, or reposting requires permission of iSpeakEASY.

Help Your Audience Remember Your Words

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Social Media, web video on September 1, 2011 at 9:10 PM

The topic of the talk was the 7 key advantages to social networking.  Seven. A good number, but much too high if the speaker expected the audience to remember the points. Instead of us learning the 7 ways social networking can help us, most people left the room remembering few, if any of the points she provided. How did this happen?

As learners, we can only retain and organize a certain amount of new information when it is received. While the actual number is different for everyone, the magic number for most is 3 to 5.  Most people can absorb, organize, and remember a maximum of 3 to 5 bits of new information at a time.  When a person reaches their saturation point, rather than remembering everything up to that point – we tend to forget it all.

If you pour water on a sponge,  it will soak up and hold the water until it reaches saturation.  Any additional water simply runs off, but the sponge holds what it first took in. With the human brain though, when we reach saturation, it is like someone squeezes the sponge draining almost all the new information that was gained.

While her talk was good and informative, while she clearly is a subject matter expert, I left the talk an hour ago and am not sure I could tell you even one of the 7 points. My brain reached saturation and I lost it all.

Effective presentations are built around 1 central theme or message. This message is supported by 3-5 sub topics or bits of information. Any more than that and you will lose too many of your audience members.

If her talk had been on the 3 key elements of social networking, there is a greater chance the audience would have left remembering her words.

In presenting information, less is truly more. But only if you want people to remember your words.

© 2011 iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. Reprinting, copying, or reposting requires permission of iSpeakEASY. iSpeakEASY offers workshops to help you be a more effective speaker.