Archive for the ‘business’ Category

3 Elements Of An Effective Talk

In business, Business Presentations, Communication, Public Speaking on October 26, 2017 at 2:27 PM

Would you be a more effective speaker if you knew exactly what your audience wanted? Would you be more efficient in your prep time if you had a clear idea of the target before you began planning your presentation?

There is good news! A recent survey conducted by Andy Goodman tells us just this. Information was gathered from more than 2500 people who both watch presentations and make presentations. This data produced a list of the three qualities audiences most want in a presentation.


A well-designed talk is organized and centers on a single main message.  This message is crystal clear and uses up to 5 sub-topics to support it. Audiences are less interested in your data and more interested in your message. Keep it short and to the point. Often in preparing talks, we come up with multiple messages. Write all of these down and then find the one overarching message that incorporates as many of these as possible. Be clear in your mind as to what you want to say and this will help the audience understand your message.


Audiences are intelligent! They are more interested in feeling a part of the learning process and less interested in you being the “expert source of information”. More than just the standard question and answer session, audiences want the opportunity to interact with the speaker and with members of the audience. Ask many questions, encourage dialogue, and find innovative ways to have your audience work in small groups to “discover their own data”.


Energy, charisma, passion – the audiences interest is perked when the speaker exhibits these qualities. Face it – when the person speaking looks as excited as a bowl of oatmeal, it is hard for the audience to get excited. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Four additional qualities that rated high in the survey were humor, use of stories, relevance, and well-produced visuals.

Clarity, interaction, and enthusiasm are qualities audiences want the most! While this research focused on formal presentations, the principles will work when you are speaking one-on-one or to small groups (such as at staff meetings). Use these ideas to help improve the effectiveness of your presentations today!



Source: “Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes”, Andy Good and Cause Associates. 2006

© 2007 by iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. For information on workshops and coaching, contact us at

Bring Your Message Home

In business, Business Networking Groups on January 28, 2015 at 8:08 PM

A good novel has a really exciting conclusion. A good presentation should have one too. novel ending

Unlike a novel though, your conclusion does not have to be a surprise or a cliffhanger – it should be predictable and your final words should hang in the air and stay in the mind of the listener.

A strong conclusion will:

  • Bring your message home
  • Tie together all your points
  • Tell the audience what it is you want them to do
  • Let the audience know you are through speaking

Most importantly though, it demonstrates your competency as a speaker and shows that you are earnest about your subject.

While this is one of the most critical parts of your talk, many speakers give it inadequate attention. They reach the end of their talk and trail off into nothingness, losing the final WHAM the conclusion should deliver and hurting their credibility as a speaker.

As important as the conclusion is, it is generally the easiest to write. An effective and easy formula is to:

  • Restate your theme,
  • Remind the audience of the 3-5 key points; and
  • Tell them what you hope they will do next.

Try plugging your details into this concluding statement:

“By now you can probably see why (your main point) is so important. We have discussed (3-5 key points). If this is of value to you then I encourage you to (action you want them to take).”

Think of it this way – your audience is most likely to remember your final words – so choose those last thoughts carefully and deliver them with a punch!

The ending of your talk is critical: it is like the final chapter in a book, the punch line of joke or the last chord of a song. To maximize your effectiveness as a speaker, take the time to create a well thought out, well rehearsed concluding statement.


Here are some other articles you may enjoy:

Are We Communicating?

When Is It The Right Time To Not Speak?

Fear Of Public Speaking Is Universal

Show The Audience You Don’t Care

 © 2007 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

Myths About Technical Talks

In business, Communication, executive coaching, Public Speaking, sales, Uncategorized on October 2, 2013 at 9:22 PM

Talks about technical subjects, especially when delivered to technical audiences, tend to be, well, technical.  Speakers go into great depth on the details of the subject while often missing the one thing the audience is really interested in: what it all means.

Many years ago I was working with a scientist who banded birds and tracked their flights across the Pacific from California to Japan. In his presentation, he discussed the 46 types of transmitters he decided not to use. When I asked him why he did this, he replied – “my audience wants to know about the tools I used”. I explained the audience was more interested in what he learned by tracking the birds, a detail he overlooked.

In 1992, Hewlett-Packard labs in Palo Alto, California conducted a survey to determine what technical workers want to hear from other presenters.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom that says the technical audience is eager for a “data dump”, the survey results reflect people’s preference for talks that are well organized and easy to follow. Technical speakers who try to show how much they know by making their presentation complex would be more successful if instead they focused on simplifying their message. It’s a classic example of ‘less is more’”.*

Rather than wanting more technical detail, techies wanted:

  • More concise information
  • More effective style
  • Better visual aids

When dealing with technical information, rather than give the details, tell your audience what it all means. Avoid explaining the ins and outs, the details, and technical specifications – just tell your audience what it means to them. If your audience wants to know the details, they will ask.

Good presentations focus on what their audience wants to know rather than what the speaker thinks they should say.


* Frederick, Gilbert, “The Technical Presentation”, Technical Communication May 1 1992

iSpeakEASY helps people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Our clients accomplish more in less time. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

Related articles

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.

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.

Fewer Choices Lead To Better Results

In business, Education, Interviews, marketing, opinion, philosophy, Public Speaking, sales, speaking, Uncategorized on November 29, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Speaking Tip #70

When my children were young, I dreaded going to the store to buy children’s aspirin. I remember standing there at the wall of products completely overwhelmed and very clear that there were many options but not clear at all about the right choice. Aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen or store brand? Pills, capsules, chewable, or liquid? Infants, child, teen or adult? Cherry, berry, or grape? Coated or uncoated? With fever reducer or without? 10, 25 or 100? It was too much!

I always worried that no matter what I brought home, it would not be the right choice.

Speakers often overwhelm audiences in the same way. In an effort to fully educate, to tell the whole story, we give too much information and too many options. We give more than the audience wants, can remember, or can even keep straight in their head. Speakers often try to cram what has take years or even decades to learn into a 40 minute presentation.

Given too many choices or too much information, audiences become dazed. Rather than being moved to action, they are more likely moved to a state of paralysis. In a sales situation, this means no sale. In a management situation, this means no change in behavior. In a community forum, it means no change in belief

An effective speaker brings clarity into the minds of the audience by offering one clear message. An effective speaker supports that one message with 3-5 supporting points, and they are done. An effective speaker keeps it clean and simple.  An effective speaker is able to discern what needs to be stated and what needs to be left out. An effective speaker helps bring clarity to the audience.

Take the time to figure out your one message and find your three to five supporting subtopics, and leave everything else out.

The worst that can happen when you give less is your audience will want more information and ask you a question.



Are you an experienced speaker interested in improving your skills and increase the effectiveness of your presentations? The Speakers Academy is a fast, intense, four-part workshop for professionals that want to increase their confidence, become more credible, and accomplish more with their words.

We will build on your existing skills and bring you to a new level with your speaking.

Click here to learn more.

© 2009 by iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links from your blog or webpage are encouraged.