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Reasons You Should NOT Improve Your Speaking Skills

In BNI and Business Networking, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales, speaking on February 17, 2014 at 3:53 PM

I hear a lot of reasons for why people do not want help with their presentations:

  • “I don’t feel nervous in front of an audience.”
  • “I am only presenting to my peers.”
  • “It is just a staff meeting.”
  • “I know my subject.”
  • “I took public speaking in college.”
  • “I use PowerPoint.”
  • “I don’t use PowerPoint.”
  • “I did not have time to prepare so I will just wing it.”

After their talk, speakers often justify why they are sure they did not need help:

  • “I was not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.”
  • “No one threw fruit “(yes, they really say this to me!).
  • “My friends said I did a good job.”
  • “They laughed and clapped, they must have liked it.”
  • “There were no questions.”
  • “It felt pretty good – I think I did okay.”

This is all good except nervousness is not a gauge of effectiveness, people don’t really throw fruit (at least in this country), your friends tend to say you do well, and not asking questions probably means they want the fastest way out of the room.

An effective presentation is one where you meet the objectives you set before you spoke.

In sales, this may mean an increase in closed sales.

In management, this may mean changing employee behavior.

As a scientist, this may mean increasing support for your project.

As a parent, this may mean a reduction in household tension.

In non-profits, this may mean more money and volunteers to accomplish your mission.

Before you plan your next talk, write down the answer to this question:

“When I am done, what do I want my audience to do?”

Plan the talk with this answer as your target and you improve the chance you will reach your objective.

The Speakers Academy is designed for professionals serious about improving their presentation skills. This five-part workshop focuses on the key elements of effective presentations: Organization, content, delivery, and visual aids. Graduates leave with increased confidence, are viewed as more credible, have noticeably improved skill, and enjoy greater success with their speaking. Click here for more information.

© 2010  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.

 

What Are YOUR Words Worth?

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales, speaking, Uncategorized on October 15, 2013 at 8:03 PM

https://ispeakeasyblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/mpj0315701000012.jpg

A bar of iron is worth about $5. Take that iron and turn it into horseshoes and it increases in value to $10 even though the raw materials are still the same. Take that same bar of iron and make it into screwdrivers and the value goes up to about $250. If you make needles with the iron, the value rises to $3,000 and if you turn it into balance springs for watches the value soars to $250,000.

The material is still the same limited quantity of metal but the way it is used, the end product, is quite different. The information and knowledge you possess is similar to iron. Its value is based on what you do with it, not the face value of the raw material itself.

What are you going to do with the information you have to increase its value? What can you say or do that will take the information you have come to life for you listener? How can you present it so that it morphs from raw data into something useful and inspiring to your audience? It is the audience’s perception of your words that makes them valuable, not the value you place on them.

In this “age of information” we live in, information is cheap while knowledge remains invaluable. The goal is to take information and present it in a manner that makes your audience say “Wow!”

Use your passion to make your data come to life for your listener. Plan your presentation, determine your singular main message, outline your 3-5 key points, create visual aids that help make your point and you are on the way to turning your bar of iron into watch springs.

The knowledge and experience you possess, that you try to convey to your audience, is worth little until you learn to present it in a fashion that is of interest to others. If you can make what you know relevant to others, the value of your information skyrockets.

 

Related articles

  © 2008 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  We help you profit from your words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

Finding A GOOD Speaking Coach

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, Public Speaking on July 22, 2013 at 8:56 PM

Finding a speaking skills workshop is easy. Finding a workshop that helps you become a better speaker is a bit harder.

Have you attended a workshop where you sit in a room full of people, spent most of the time listening, received a binder of information, and are then encouraged to buy more books? If you are like most people, you walked out with your head swimming with ideas. The next day you place the binder on your desk with the intention of reading it. Now that binder is on your shelf, still unopened, and you are doing things in pretty much the same way today as you did before the workshop. It does not have to be that way.

group_interactionSmallA good workshop or speaking coach treats you as an individual. Your thinking is stimulated; you have time to discuss new ideas and are allowed to practice the new techniques. Instead of being overloaded with information, you are feed digestible chunks.  You walk out feeling empowered to continue using your new skills. The end result is a change in your behavior that leads to more effective performance.

If you are willing to take time and spend money to improve your skills, make sure you get the services that are best for you.

A good workshop or Performance Speaking Coach:

  • Places emphasis on YOUR skills, talents, and personality rather than those of the instructor.
  • Involves one-on-one coaching or small group interaction
  • Mixes professional coaching and peer coaching (not peer coaching alone)
  • Takes a flexible approach to focus on your situation, needs, and interests
  • Involves multiple short sessions that allow you to think about what you have learned, apply it, then come back and discuss the results
  • Provides honest feedback in a non-judgmental manner
  • Feels comfortable
  • Offers meaningful interaction with the instructor and other participants

Be wary of trainings that incorporate:

  • Peer-to-peer coaching as the sole method of learning
  • Trainers with a “large personality” who want you to emulate their style
  • Large hotel conference rooms packed full of participants
  • Agendas where you spend more than 50% of the time listening
  • Training companies that encourage trainers to sell product
  • “Pollyanna” trainers that tell you positive things to make you feel good without providing critical review of your work.

If you are going to invest time and money into your professional development, invest wisely so you gain skills and improve as a speaker.

 

iSpeakEASY helps people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Visit us at www.iSpeakEASY.net or www.iSpeakEASYblog.wordpress.com. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

You Probably Do NOT Need Help With Your Talk

In BNI and Business Networking, business, Business Presentations, Communication, marketing, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on June 18, 2013 at 5:11 PM

I hear a lot of reasons for why people do not want help with their presentations:

  • “I don’t feel nervous in front of an audience.”
  • “I am only presenting to my peers.”
  • “It is just a staff meeting.”
  • “I know my subject.”
  • “I took public speaking in college.”
  • “I use PowerPoint.”
  • “I don’t use PowerPoint.”
  • “I did not have time to prepare so I will just wing it.”

After their talk, these same speakers often justify why they are sure they did not need help:

  • “I was not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.”
  • “No one threw fruit “(yes, they really say this to me!).
  • “My friends said I did a good job.”
  • “The audience laughed and clapped, they must have liked it.”
  • “There were no questions.”
  • “It felt pretty good – I think I did okay.”

This is all good except nervousness is not a gauge of effectiveness, people don’t really throw fruit (at least in this country), your friends tend to say you do well, and not asking questions probably means they want the fastest way out of the room.

A “good” talk is not about “getting through it”, or “conveying information”, or about getting the audience to laugh. A good talk brings about a change of attitude, belief, or behavior. When finished, an effective presentation is one where you meet the objectives you set before you spoke.

  • In sales, this may mean an increase in closed sales.
  • In management, this may mean changing employee behavior.
  • As a scientist, this may mean increasing support for your project.
  • As a parent, this may mean a reduction in household tension.
  • In non-profits, this may mean more money and volunteers to accomplish your mission.

You probably do not need help with your talk UNLESS you are interested in increasing your effectiveness. If you are satisfied with the status quo, if you are pleased with the current rate of change, if you are not interested in accomplishing more in less time, the you clearly do not help with your presentations skills.

If however, you are interested in change, improvement, and efficiency – get help with your presentation skills. Hire a coach, attend a workshop, read a book.

Treat your presentations as if you are an archer…aim for the target and each time you shoot, try to get the next arrow even closer to the middle circle. 

Click here for information on upcoming workshops offered by iSpeakEASY.

Knowing your target makes it much easier to hit.

© 2010  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. (415) 342-7106. www.iSpeakEASY.net

Early Warning Signs Of A Bad Presentation

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, speaking on May 23, 2013 at 1:30 PM

I knew I was in trouble as I walked in the room. The speaker had not said a word yet my expectations were low and getting lower.

DeadlyThe room was dry and sterile – nothing inviting about it. It was dimly lit with the ubiquitous blue image on the screen signaling an impending PowerPoint. The room was hard to find – there were no signs to direct me and I was irritated at the cost of parking my car. I noticed the room was devoid of refreshments – including water or coffee. I thought longingly of the last cup of coffee sitting in the carafe at home and the bottle of water on the front seat of my car.

It was one minute to start time and I was already watching the clock. The presenter had shot himself in the foot before opening his mouth.

ExcitingI contrast this with a workshop I attended a few days prior. An email provided me with directions, a map, and other basic information. When I approached the building there was a sign outside directing me to the workshop. I was greeted by an enthusiastic instructor who warmly welcomed me, directed me to a spread of food, offered me a nametag, and took time to introduce me to another person she felt I would “click” with. The room was bright and cheerful and the food delicious.

Yes, it does take extra time, effort, and sometimes money to make your audience feel like a guest rather than a number. However, one of these instructors had turned me off before he started speaking. The other had won me over to her side.

Here are some hints:

  • Use directional signs from the parking all the way to the room
  • Send a welcoming note explaining logistics, parking, and time needed to get from parking to the room
  • Greet guests at the door
  • Provide refreshments (no one learns when they are distracted by an empty stomach)
  • Provide nametags to encourage interaction
  • Have guests enter a well-lit room with the Power Point off
  • Consider aesthetics (e.g. using an attractive meeting room, tablecloth on the snack table, flowers, music, art, or posters on the walls)

Everything you do sets the expectations of the audience and affects their attitude. How they feel will affect how open they are to receiving your information. It is true; the devil is in the details.

The Good And Bad Of Visual Aids

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on April 3, 2013 at 7:37 AM

Your audience is 6 times more likely to remember what you say if you include a well-designed visual aid. We remember very little of what we hear, more of what see, and more yet of what we do. The more involved you get your audience in the presentation, the more attentive they will be and the more likely they are to remember what you say.

All presentations can be enhanced through the use of visual aids. Here is of some of the most common visual aids with their attributes and drawbacks.

Handouts

  • Can be inexpensive
  • Audience members take it home
  • Easily customized to the group
  • Every person has their own
  • Can be distracting
  • Can be expensive
  • Some people take the handouts and skip the talk

Real Objects

  • Tactile and sensory
  • Memorable
  • Unbeatable in the proper setting
  • Interactive
  • Do not apply to all situations
  • May be distracting

White Boards/Flip Charts

  • Inexpensive
  • Changeable
  • Content is tailored to audience
  • Interactive
  • Makes audience feel “heard”
  • Requires good handwriting
  • May cause speaker to have back to audience
  • Hard to lug around

PowerPoint

  • Powerful
  • Can be creative and fun
  • Animation makes it easy to highlight key points
  • Can reveal information bit by bit
  • Video and sound are easy to add
  •  Has a bad (and rightfully earned) reputation
  • Prone to being misused
  • Technical problems can be an issue
  • Overused
  • Requires special equipment

Visual aids are powerful additions to any presentation. Use the right one for your situation and you will have a more interactive and memorable presentation.

 

iSpeakEASY helps people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Visit us at www.iSpeakEASY.net. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

Designing Effective PowerPoint Slides

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, exective coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales, Uncategorized on March 7, 2013 at 11:08 AM

PowerPoint can be a tremendous visual aid or it can be a tremendous sleep aid.

Many audiences blame PowerPoint for being boring but that is like blaming a car for driving too fast ad swerving.PowerPoint is a tool and it is up to the user to determine how well it is used.

Here are some guidelines to help you be a skilled user.

General guidelines

  • Each slide should contain only 1 message
  • Replace words with images wherever possible
  • Eliminate distracting items from photos
  • Use a descriptive title
  • Use a black “safety slide” at the beginning and end of your show

Text slides

  • Limit slides to six (or fewer) lines of six (or fewer) words
  • Progressively disclose new information
  • Use a sans serif font that is at least 30 points
  • Display ideas – not sentences
  • Check your spelling

Keep charts and tables simple

  • Limit
    • tables to 5 rows/columns
    • bar graphs to 5 bars
    • line graphs to 3 lines
    • Pie graphs to as few slices as needed
  • Include only needed information (Eliminate redundant subtitles, grid lines and tick marks)
  • Use labels instead of keys
  • Place numbers directly on or by bars
  • Emphasize key elements with features, not a laser pointer

Backgrounds

  • Select a background that matches or enhances your message
  • Mix it up – use a variety of backgrounds
  • Avoid using your logo on every slide

Photos

  • Fill your screen with the photo
  • Use one photo per screen

Many of us have developed a disdain for PowerPoint. The truth is PowerPoint is a great tool -it is just tends to be used improperly.

Use these simple guidelines to help you. If you have questions, contact iSpeakEASY or call to arrange for a PowerPoint skills workshop at your office.

© 2013 iSpeakEASY All Rights Reserved

“I’ll Just Pick It Up Along The Way”

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, Education, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales on February 5, 2013 at 8:40 PM

by Stanley K. Ridgley

Adolescent Attitude

One of the conundrums of business presenting is that it’s what is known in the parlance as a “soft skill.”

This moniker, whatever else it purports to mean, suggests that skill at business presenting is somehow “softer” than, say, accounting . . . and that therefore it needs much less attention or development.

Or that it’s somehow “easier.”  That it’s something that can be “picked up along the way.”

This belief – and it’s out there, held by distressingly large numbers of folks – does incredible damage to the early careers of young people, who form a decidedly wrong impression of the craft of speaking publicly.

The Reality

pick it up 1Public Speaking – excellent public speaking – is tough.  Delivering a superb business presentation is one of the tougher tasks, because it often requires coordination with others in a kind of ballet.

And it requires practice, just like any other discipline.

But invariably, the “soft skill” label moves it down the priority list of faculty and college administrators and, hence, of the students they serve.

I can quickly gauge the attention on business presenting at an institution by simply watching a cross-section of presentations.  To be generous, student business presentations are usually lacking across a range of dimensions.  They come across most often as pedestrian and workmanlike.  Many are quite bad.

But this is not to say that they are worse than what passes for presenting in the corporate world.  They are, frankly, usually as good – or as bad – as what is dished out in the “real world.”

The Great Embarrassment

The great embarrassment is that the majority of business students have untapped potential for becoming competent and especially powerful business presenters, but never realize that potential.

Some students pass through the business school funnel with only cursory attention to presentation skills.  Perhaps I’m too demanding, and the degree of attention I’d like to see just isn’t possible.  But . . .

But the craft of presenting needs only the proper focus and priority to transform young people into quite capable and competent presenters

And some institutions get it right.

I’m blessed to serve an institution that takes presenting seriously and whose winning results in case competitions demonstrates this commitment to preparing business students to excel in the most-demanded skill that corporate recruiters seek.  A coterie of professors, particularly in finance, have recognized the power bestowed by sharp presentation skills, and so emphasize their acquisition far beyond the norm in most schools.

Administrators, too, insist that students pass through rigorous workshops that inculcate in students the presenting skills to last a business lifetime.

Especially Powerful Results

And the results can be phenomenal.pick it up 2

Merely by virtue of exposure to the proper techniques, students gain tremendous personal career advantage.  And by elevating business presenting to a level commensurate with the sub-disciplines of, say, marketing, operations, or risk management, B-Schools can imbue their students and faculty with the appropriate reverence for the presentation enterprise.

One result of this is the creation of young executives who tower over their peers in terms of presenting skills.  And especially powerful presentation skills are in high demand by corporate recruiters.

And so, back to the original contention of folks who wonder what could one possibly write about in a “business presenting blog” . . . just as there is much to be learned, it means there is much to write about.

There is much to be distilled from 2500 years of recorded presentation wisdom.

The wisdom is there . . . it remains for us to seize it and make it our own for enhanced personal competitive advantage.

© 2013, Stanley K. Ridgley. Reprinted with permission.

For more on especially powerful business presenting, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

About Stanley K. Ridgley

Stanley K. Ridgley, PhD is one of the country’s foremost experts on delivering Business School Presentations and is the author of the award-winning 2012 book, “The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.” He is also the faculty instructor for the course “Strategic Thinking” in the DVD series TheGreatCourses.com. Dr. Ridgley brings to bear the most powerful instructional techniques from one of America’s great business schools and combines them with the lessons of military leadership and high strategy learned on the front lines of the Cold War as a Military Intelligence Officer.

This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

Like Filler In A Hot Dog

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Education, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Social Media on January 21, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Do you ever notice the words and phrases people use that have no meaning? They struggle to find something to say and throw in things that take up space but mean nothing. Words such as:

  • Obviously
  • Let me begin by saying
  • Clearly
  • Honestly
  • As you can see
  • Really
  • Well
  • Um
  • Ah
  • In fact
  • As ‘so and so’ just said
  • In addition
  • Let me say that
  • So anyway
  • Before we begin
  • As you already know
  • Actually
  • Right

These phrases are like filler in a hot dog – they offer nothing more than bulk. There is no nutritional value or meaning. They do take up space though.

These words seem silly when read in a list, but listen for them as people around you speak. A few of these words or phrases sprinkled in a conversation may have little effect and in some cases, they may be appropriate. Most of the time, they convey a single message: The speaker does not know what to say. This hurts your credibility.

A confident demeanor demonstrates you are an expert in your field. It shows that you know what you are doing and, have the experience required to make a wise statement.

If you find yourself feeling nervous or unsure what to say, use a pause to buy you time to think. Silence is a powerful and loud tool that demonstrates you are thoughtful and credible. It buys you time to think while building your credibility.

Listen to others speak: are they using filler? If they do, how do you react when they use it? What is the impression you get when you hear them? Watch other audience members to see their reactions as well. Look at the speaker and see if you can ascertain their emotions while they do this. Do you sense confidence or panic?

It is good to speak when you have something to say. If you have nothing to say, rather than use filler, just say nothing.

(if you have a word you like to add to the list, post it under comments. I will compile them a post the updated list)

© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

Join us for the upcoming SPEAKERS NIGHT OUT or the SPEAKERS ACADEMY.

The Worst Ways To Start or End Your Talk

In BNI and Business Networking, business, Communication, executive coaching, marketing, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales on January 2, 2013 at 8:06 PM

The two most delightfopening-woman-eating-cupcake-ssul and memorable bites of a meal are the first and the very last. The first bite is preceded by anticipation: you wonder what lies ahead. The food hits your tongue and there is a joy as the flavors spread through your mouth. That final bite of dessert is the taste that will linger in your mouth long after you leave the table.

The most memorable parts of a talk are the first words and the final parting thought at the end. The first words help the audience know if the flavor of your talk is one to which they want to listen. The final statement is the one that lingers in their mind as they walk away.

These two spots are where you have the greatest ability to influence your audience. Many times, speakers do not adequately prepare for these parts and lose the opportunity presented. Below are some sure-fire phrases to help you lose confidence and credibility:

Terrible opening lines:

  • Um… I didn’t have time to prepare for this talk
  • I hate public speaking
  • I don’t know why I was asked to talk
  • As you know….
  • Lights please
  • My name is… (You’ve already been introduced)
  • Can you hear me okay?
  • Is this microphone on?
  • I don’t give many talks
  • Bill Jones knows more about this topic than me….
  • Bill Jones was supposed to talk, but he wasn’t available so you’re stuck with me
  • And without further ado…

Terrible closing lines

  • That is all I have to say ‘
  • Well, I hope you got my main point (Then don’t repeat the main point)
  • Was I clear enough?
  • Questions?
  • Um…
  • Boy, am I glad that is over
  • Thanks for your attention
  • Lights
  • Bill Jones could have explained this to you better
  • That is it
  • I’m done.
  • Sure wish Bill could have been here to do this

A strong opening grabs the audience and encourages them to listen. A strong closing demonstrates to the audience that you are confident and competent.

Use these two opportunities to your benefit. Take time to plan and practice your opening and closing statements so you both create the anticipation in the minds of your audience and then leave them with the wonderful flavors of your talk in their minds.

Do you have “favorite” terrible opening or closing lines you have heard? Hit the comment button and share them with other readers!

© 2008 – iSpeakEASY  – All rights reserved.  Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.