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Archive for the ‘Communication’ Category

4 Strategies For Answering Questions (especially when you don’t know the answer)

In Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on February 16, 2017 at 10:08 AM

question-head-with-marks

The way you handle questions has a large impact on your credibility. You may be asked questions for which you don’t know the answer, you may misunderstand the question, or you may benefit from a small bit of time to consider the correct best answer. Here are four strategies to help increase your creditably when answering questions.

 

1. Prepare

Write a list of questions you may be asked, write the answers, and practice delivering these answers before you are in front of your audience

2. Remember you are an expert

You know your topic, your job, and your project

3. Buy time (and think)

Use these statements sparingly to help gain focus

  • “That is a great question”
  • “I am glad you asked”
  • “Make sure I understand what you are asking”
  • “I am not sure I understand what you are asking, can you give me a bit more background?

4. Give an answer

If you don’t know the answer or don’t know the entire answer, you still need to respond in confident manner. Use these statements:

        • “Here is what I know about that….”
        • “Here is what I don’t know…”
        • “This is what I will do to find out…”

 

Keep your answers short and concise, answer only what was asked, and resist the temptation to tell ALL you know about the question. When you are finished, ask to see if you have given the info being sought.

The best way to maintain your credibility as an expert is to prepare. Be ready for all questions, even the ones you do not know how to answer.

 

 

 

 

© 2017 – All Rights Reserved.  iSpeakEASY provides coaching and training workshops. Call or email for information.

Simply Terrible Opening Lines

In Communication, Public Speaking, Uncategorized on January 5, 2017 at 8:49 AM

The opening line of a presentation is a golden moment – it is the one time where 100% of the audience is paying full attention to the speaker. An effective speaker is able to capture the attention of the audience right from the beginning and uses the opening to gain attention and credibility.

bad-idea

I asked group of professional speakers and coaches for some of the worst opening lines they had heard and this is what they offered. Some of these are funny, some are painful, and some just make me shake my head in astonishment.

Use this list to help you think about how you will act the next time you address a group.

  • “That was a great introduction. I hope I can live up to it.”
  • “This is the first time I’ve spoken on stage and I just hope I can get through this!”
  • “I hope you’ll bear with me because I’m so nervous right now!”
  • “I really didn’t have much time to prepare…”
  • “I hope you will pardon me but I had no time to prepare my speech last week. If you do not understand what I am talking about, please send me an email, I’ll do my best then”
  • “I am so nervous and it has given me gas. I hope I don’t fart and embarrass myself.”
  • “I know my talk is going to be less than stellar”
  • “I really don’t feel very well so I am probably not going to do very well”
  • “Well I know I’m not the best public speaker, but…”
  • “Since you have the handouts, what I’m going to say here is already pretty much covered completely in there so you can read it when you are finished with this lecture”:
  • “So how much time do I have?”
  • “I did not prepare for today so I will just wing it.”
  • “It is an honor to be here. Thanks for inviting me.”
  • “This is going to be one of those PowerPoint disasters we all dread.”
  • “Is there anyone in the audience that can explain (my topic) better than I can?”
  • “Ummmm……”
  • “Well, you all know me and what I do so….”
  • “I don’t really have much to say and my topic is really boring anyway”
  • “Since you all know about this topic, why don’t we just open it up to questions”
  • “I know the previous speaker was really super, and I’m not, so please bear with me.”
  • “Bill Jones, who is really a great presenter, and who was scheduled to deliver this presentation had a scheduling conflict – so he asked me to fill in for him. I won’t be as good as Bill. Please bear with me.”
  • “I have misplaced the notes, so…”
  • “I really don’t know that much about this topic, but…”
  • “Lights please.”

A good opening builds your credibility and captures the attention of your audience. Take time to prepare your entire presentation and pay extra attention to the first words you want your audience to hear.

 © 2011 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

3 Traits Of Successful Speakers

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Communication, Uncategorized on December 12, 2016 at 11:20 AM

sucess-2

Exceptional presenters/trainers present good information in a setting that makes audience members comfortable, satisfied, and relaxed. The more time you spend preparing your site, making your audience feel welcome, and attending to their comfort, the more focused they can be on your content. Here are three simple things to consider that will help your audience appreciate your professionalism.

1. Start On Time And End On Time (Or Early)

Starting on time sends a clear message expect audience members to be punctual after each break and lunch. More importantly it send a clear message of respect and appreciation to those who are on time.  Waiting for a ‘few more to filter in’ rewards latecomers while sending the wrong message to those who are punctual. If you get in the habit of starting late, you can expect participants to return late from breaks and lunch

2. Make Your Audience Feel Welcome

Long before you begin speaking, your audience will begin forming opinions, attitudes, and feelings toward you and your topic. Attention to the smaller details will help audience members be receptive to your ideas.

  • Did you provide good directions including parking information?
  • Is the site accessible by public transit?
  • Was the path to the meeting room well marked?
  • What did participants see/experience when they entered the room? Was there food and beverage, were they welcomed warmly, was it clear they were in the right place?
  • Are the bathrooms and drinking fountain easy to find?
  • Was the room set up to function in a comfortable manner?

3. Invite Your Audience To Be Part Of The Conversation

Audiences prefer to be active participants in a conversation rather than passive recipients of information. Encourage open discussion of ideas, create opportunities for small group discussion, and make sure to build in ample time in the agenda to foster conversation. The room will buzz with energy as people talk about what you are presenting relates to their life and share their experiences.

This portion of the workshop will spill out into the breaks and will continue after your session has concluded.

Your audience is most likely to remember how they felt about your presentation than they are to remember what was covered. It will be assumed the level of professionalism and customer care you show during you presentation is exactly what they can expect from your work.

This Speaking Tip is one in a series from iSpeakEASY. We help people present information in an exciting and relevant manner – usually by helping them avoid the mistakes discussed here. Contact us for information on workshops and coaching.

© 2015 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

5 Assumptions About Public Speaking

In Business Presentations, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized on February 4, 2016 at 9:16 AM

ask-questionsPreparing for a presentation is difficult as there are many unknown variables. It is acceptable for a speaker to make certain assumptions about a presentation. Here is a list of the 5 basic assumptions a speaker can make when preparing for a presentation.

 

  1. Assume all your equipment will work perfectly. Do not arrive early to do a check, do not call ahead to troubleshoot any compatibility issues. It can be a good idea to boot your PowerPoint as the audience watches this will allow you to share the cute picture you have on your desktop.
  2. Assume you are the expert and the audience knows less than you. You do not need to ask audience members what they know or believe about your topic – assume they know nothing. Speak the entire time leaving very little, if any, time for questions. The faster you speak, the more words you say, the bigger “bang for the buck” the audience receives.
  3. Assume you are more important than the audience. Do not waste time learning about your audience or listening to audience member before you speak. You are the speaker, not them. It is more important they learn who you are as you are the guest. Besides, in 45 minutes you will be out the door and will never see these people again. Anything you may learn will be a waste.
  4. Assume the audience will not care about your appearance. Dress in a very casual manner as this will help audience will see you as a regular guy. Overdressing can make you seem stuffy and unapproachable. Wearing jeans to a business function is good as your relaxed demeanor will help the audience relax.
  5. Assume the audience will forgive you if you mispronounce the name of your host and the organization that asked you to speak. This will demonstrate to them that you believe you are important and will leave them wondering if they named their organization incorrectly.

 

Speaking is often considered a “soft skill” – that is one that is less important than other business or life skills. Many people believe they can “muddle their way through” most any speaking situation without any formal training or even much thought. Research supports this theory as 82% of speakers are fair to poor.

Implement these 5 assumptions you can be part of the majority!

 Mini-Workshop on “Dangerous Assumptions On Public Speaking”

Thursday, February 11, 2016 – Details

This “tongue-in-cheek” speaking tip is provided by iSpeakEASY. Our clients become the 18% of speakers that are good to excellent. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

ARISE and Speak Quickly On Your Feet

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Communication, Public Speaking, sales on May 21, 2015 at 9:29 AM

There are times when you must answer a question or address an issue with little, if any, time to prepare. A polished speaker handles these situations with grace. They create (or steal) time to produce a concise and correct answer that satisfies the person asking while building credibility. self-confidence-test

The goal is to deliver a short answer that is on point. The norm, however, is to give a long, possibly off track answer that loses the attention of both the audience and the speaker.

There are times when you must answer a question or address an issue with little, if any, time to prepare. A polished speaker handles these situations with grace. They create (or steal) time to produce a concise and correct answer that satisfies the person asking while building credibility. The goal is to deliver a short answer that is on point. The norm, however, is to give a long, possibly off track answer that loses the attention of both the audience and the speaker.

There is a better way. It involves a bit of work and behind-the-scenes scrambling but projects an air of confidence and credibility. Few speakers do this well and here is how you can ARISE to the occasion.

Anticipate – Chances are you know most of the questions that are of concern to your audience. Take a few minutes to write a list of all the questions you think may be asked. Write the answers to these questions, and practice delivering them. Anticipating the questions will help you in most situations.

Re-state – Paraphrase the question before you answer. This allows you time to think and ensures you understand what the person is asking. Keep in mind, it is possible they are not clear what information they are seeking and may have asked the wrong question. This step will help the other person as much as it helps you.

Identify – What is the one thing you want the audience to remember about your answer? What is your point? You must be clear in your mind if you expect your audience to grasp what you are saying.

Speak – Deliver your message in a clear, concise, and thoughtful manner. Make eye contact with as many people as possible and make sure to look at the person who posed the question. Keep your answer short and focused. Avoid adding extraneous information and stick to the point.

Evaluate – When you are finished, ask if you answered the question to be sure you understood their real question or concern.

Your ability to answer questions and respond to immediate requests will go a long way to build your credibility. Your confidence will be an attractive quality and will entice the listener. These situations can make or break your presentation. Making time to plan will help you win over your audience.

This Speaking Tip is one in a series from iSpeakEASY. We help people present information in an exciting and relevant manner – usually by helping them avoid the mistakes discussed here. Contact us for information on workshops and coaching. Visit us at www.iSpeakEASYblog.wordpress.com.

© 2015 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

If you enjoyed this article, try these:

Presentation Checklist

The Benefits Of Speaking Well

So What?

The Most Important Tip To Effective Speaking

In Business Networking Groups, Communication, Public Speaking on August 7, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Know what you are trying to say. Period.

This speaking tip is so basic, that people sometimes laugh when I say it but it is true.

It sounds so basic, but a common mistake is not being clear on what we are really trying to say. Think about it – if the speaker does not have a clear idea of what they are trying to say, how is the audience supposed to figure it out?

We feel rushed or, worse yet, we believe that since we are just “speaking for a few minutes at a staff meeting” or “having a quick word with the boss (or spouse, kids etc)” that we don’t need to prepare.

Speaking without knowing your point can be likened to driving without a destination (except it lacks the romance of the free-wheeling spirit heading down the road). You veer right, then turn left, go straight for a bit, you double back, take a side road that leads you no where. You end up talking about all kinds of things that really are not pertinent to the message you are trying to deliver, the audience tries to follow you but ends up lost and takes a “mental vacation”.

The next time you are going to speak, whether it is in front of a group or one-on-one, ask yourself this question:

“What is the one thing I want them to know when I am done speaking?”

When you can answer this question – organize your thoughts and then you are ready to begin.

Being clear in your own mind on your objective will go a long ways in helping you present your thoughts in a clear and concise manner that will be effective.

Treat every conversation with care and respect. Before you speak, put yourself in the driver’s seat and say, “where do I want this to go”?

© 2010 iSpeakEASY – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY: We Help People Profit From Their Words.

You are welcome to link to this page. If you wish to reprint or repost this article, please email us for permission. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

 

 

Interested in improving your communication skills? iSpeakEASY offers workshops and coaching to help you. Click here for information or email Ethan at ethan@ispeakeasy.net

Increased productivity, confidence, and credibility are among the benefits you will receive when you participate in the Speakers Academy. There are still seat available in the upcoming session. Click the link for information.

Enjoy this article? Here are some others you may find useful:

Presentation Checklist

In Business Presentations, Communication, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on February 12, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Good Presentations Do Not Just Happen.

They are created.

Do you have:

1.       A Clear Message?

Are you clear on what you want your audience to know and do when you are through speaking?

2.      Good Visuals?

Visual aids should be interesting, clear, and to the point. Audiences often miss the message when visual aids (PowerPoint in particular) are poorly designed.

3.      Knowledge Of The Audience?

Research the group before you arrive. Take time to meet individuals before you speak. During the talk, pay attention to the energy of the audience.

4.      Adequate Preparation Time?

Preparation is critical to deliver a credible and moving presentation. Create an outline and good visuals, practice, and know how to use your equipment. The first time you deliver your talk should never be the first time you deliver it in front of an audience.

5.      Plans To Making Your Audience Comfortable?

If your audience is uncomfortable in their chairs, hungry, thirsty, in need of a break, or in a room with poor temperature control, they will have a difficult time paying attention.

6.      A Room Set Up To Meet Your Needs?

The arrangement of seats, tables, lectern, and the screen in relationship to the windows and doors, will affect the audience’s ability to get the most from your talk.

7.      Appropriate Methods Of Presenting Yourself?

The audience will judge you on your dress, choice of words, and level of organization. Watch your use of “French”, jargon, and technical terms. Speak in a manner the audience can understand and follow.

8.      A Contingency Plan?

The audience will expect, and is entitled to, a great performance. What will you do if your computer crashes, the room is inadequate, or you forget something? ­

9.      An Evaluation System In Place?

Check your success based on the goals you set in step 1. Revise your presentation to improve your presentation skills.

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© 2011 by iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.

We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

The Benefits of Speaking Well

In Business Presentations, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on January 11, 2014 at 6:14 PM

We all know to how to talk: that comes from having a mouth. But talking and speaking well are completely different.

Speaking WELL helps you:

  1. Improve your professional and personal reputation
  2. Increase your influence in decision making processes
  3. Be concise and on target at all times
  4. Gain the trust and respect of others
  5. Deal with difficult people
  6. Come across as sincere, authentic and reliable
  7. Increase your success business
  8. Be seen as an expert
  9. Make strong first impressions
  10. Conduct effective business meetings
  11. You attract people – people want to be with dynamic people
  12. Enjoy the rush of public speaking (even if you fear it)

Speaking is easy and we all do it everyday. Speaking well is learned skill. Effective speakers are able to get things done in a more efficient manner. It is that simple. Improve your speaking skills today.

Here are three things you can do to start the process of improving your effectiveness and credibility:

  1. Enjoy free speaking tips and articles at http://www.ispeakeasyblog.wordpress.com
  2. Talk with a professional speaking or presentation coach
  3. Enroll in the iSpeakEASY Speakers Academy

 

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© 2013, iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved

A Speakers Golden Opportunity

In Business Presentations, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized on November 24, 2013 at 2:01 AM

You have finished your presentation and fielded questions: now is your golden opportunity to connect with interested audience members. Audience members are (hopefully) inspired by your words and ready to take action. They want to have personal contact with you and ask a question or share a story.

Even though you offered the opportunity for them to speak during the question and answer session, many people are shy or self-conscious about speaking in public. Perhaps what they have to say is personal and they do not wish to share it publicly You may be surprised at what happens when they come to you in this way. You will hear wonderful stories, questions and receive referrals and offers of help.

Sometimes they want a few minutes to gather their thoughts before they speak.

During the conclusion of your talk, tell the audience you will be available to speak. Offer an immediate and safe way they can interact with you in a smaller setting. Use an incentive to get them to approach you such as a brochure they want.

Use these final moments to your advantage. Be available to talk: avoid packing up your equipment or chatting with a colleague Mingle with the crowd or position yourself in a prominent place where you are approachable. Many people will not feel comfortable addressing you in front of others and desire personal, one-to-one contact.

One of the highest praises and audience member can give you is to share a personal story with you related to your talk. This indicates they have heard and internalized your message.

You may notice people standing near you, wanting to talk to you but feeling too shy to approach you. Watch for these people and pull them in. Be ready with a few questions to use as conversation openers.

The time immediately following your talk provides you with an opportunity to make high quality contacts with individuals in your audience. Take a few extra minutes to chat, mingle, and be a good listener to their stories. You may end up with many unexpected benefits such as good stories and new partners to help you reach your goals.

 

 

This  article is one in a series from iSpeakEASY. We help people present information in an exciting and relevant manner – usually by helping them avoid the mistakes discussed here. Contact us for information on workshops and coaching. Visit us at www.iSpeakEASYblog.wordpress.com.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

Making Your Presentation Forgettable Is Easy

In BNI or other Networking Groups, Business Networking Groups, Communication, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, speaking on October 31, 2013 at 10:59 AM

Speaking Tip 99

Making a forgettable presentation is so easy that 80% of speakers achieve this lofty goal. To help you bring your talk in line with the majority of speakers, I offer you these tips and attitudes – embrace them fully and you can literally watch members of your audience lose interest and drift off into space:

  • The role of the speaker is to talk and the role of the audience is to listen
  • You do not need to prepare if you are just presenting to your peers or at a staff meeting
  • Information alone is all that is needed to change opinions and gain the support of your audience
  • The air needs to be filled with words…YOUR words and lots of them
  • You have a lot to say and your audience wants to hear it all
  • Your jokes are hilarious
  • Eliminating breaks and pauses gives the speaker more time to talk and insures the audience will learn more
  • The audience NEEDS and wants to hear all the information the speaker has on a subject to gain a better understanding of the issue
  • It is better to give too much information than to little
  • You are the source of information and audience members are empty shells waiting to be filled
  • Talking faster allows you to give your audience more information in the same amount of time
  • It is best to put the script of your presentation on slides and show these to the audience
  • The audience likes looking at your back as you read the words on the screen
  • The speaker is the most important person in the room which is why everyone is looking at you
  • Make sure to accommodate YOUR needs as speaker first, and don’t worry about the audience
  • Small fonts are on the screen is easy to read, especially if your audience is over 40 and sitting far away
  • Audiences love slides with bright colors and fancy fonts as they make your presentation more fun
  • Long lists of “tips” are helpful and easy to remember

The best part about forgettable presentations is they take very little time to prepare and it does not matter what the speaker says as no one is listening anyway! These tips are free so use as many of them as possible in your next presentation – that way you will more effectively help your audience learn more in less time.

This “tongue-in-cheek” article is one in a series from iSpeakEASY. We help people present information in an exciting and relevant manner – usually by helping them avoid the mistakes discussed here. Contact us for information on workshops and coaching. Visit us at www.iSpeakEASYblog.wordpress.com.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

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