Archive for the ‘Delivery’ Category

5 Myths About Technical Talks

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Delivery, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on June 12, 2011 at 9:59 AM

Summarized from an article by Fredrick Gilbert. Originally published in Technical Communication in May 1992

The tone of the technical presentation is impersonal, objective. The content is often data, statistics, and facts. The tricky part is that this objective information has to be presented to subjective human beings. To hold their attention and get their agreement, the technical presenter also must draw on general principles of human communication. The first is to make the content easy to understand.

HP Labs Survey

Last year we conducted a survey at Hewlett-Packard Labs in Palo Alto, California, to determine what technical presenters wanted to hear from other presenters. We found that rather than wanting more technical detail, they wanted more concise organization, more effective style, and better visual aids (usually overhead transparencies). As one project manager put it, “Don’t tell me the details of how you got the data, just tell me what the data means.”

Contrary to conventional wisdom that says the technical audience is eager for a “data dump,” our survey results reflect people’s concern that talks be 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 they focused instead on simplifying the message. It’s a classic example of “less is more.” Simplifying and repeating the “core message” results in increased agreement and retention.


Technical presentations are similar to, and different from, non-technical presentations. They are different in that they focus on physical events or data rather than people. The technical audience already has specialized knowledge about the topic. Like people in any audience, though, their time is valuable, and they don’t want to be bored.

To make your next technical presentation successful, remember these guidelines.

  • Deliver the talk with enough style and audience involvement to keep them interested.
  • Keep the content clear and the organization easy to follow.
  • Reduce the number of visual aids and keep them big, bold, and colorful.



  • Content is everything. Style is unimportant.
  • Technical people are very bright, so it’s okay to do a data dump.
  • The overhead projector is more important than the speaker.
  • Enthusiasm is offensive. Analytical people expect boring presentations.
  • Technical talks are simply informational; they’re not meant to be persuasive.

This is a summary of an article origianally printed in 1992. For a copy of the full article, send an an email to

iSpeakEASY offers offers workshops for scientists and other technical professionals. Contact us for more information on how you can improve your technical presenations

Frederick Gilbert is president of Frederick Gilbert Associates, Inc., a presentation skills training firm in Redwood City, CA. 1-800-828-1909.


© 2007 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. We help people speak effectively and with confidence.

PowerPoint Success Tips

In Attracting New Clients, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets on May 13, 2011 at 9:33 AM

PowerPoint is a powerful tool allowing you to make your point in an interesting and dramatic way. Because it is frequently used poorly, we tend to hate talks with PowerPoint. Here are suggestions to help you increase your success with PowerPoint.

Design Your Show For Success

  1. Outline your presentation before you open PowerPoint.
  2. Use arrows, circles and highlighting to help key elements stand so you don’t need a laser pointer.
  3. Remember that you are the main attraction, not your slides.
  4. Develop your talk to have a clear message that can be delivered without PowerPoint.

Guidelines for Slides

  1. Multiple slides should be used to explain a complex topic.
  2. Animations and special effects should be used sparingly.
  3. Use different backgrounds to keep your show interesting, but make sure they are not distracting.
  4. Put a black slide at the beginning and end of your show – this eliminates that embarrassing slide that says “end of show -click to exit.”
  5. Include text sparingly: A picture is worth 1000 words.
  6. Use bullet points instead of paragraphs with a limit of 5 words per line.
  7. Graphs should show trends, not complete data sets.
  8. On complex slides, use the animation feature to allow information to display one at a time.

Deliver Your Presentation Like A Professional

  1. Start your talk with the projector off (or the black slide projected) and room lights on to give the audience time to know and like you.
  2. Stand in front of the room facing your audience the entire time.
  3. Turn your laptop so it faces you, not the audience. This allows you to see what is projected while looking at the audience.
  4. Allow your audience time to understand your slide (or read the text) before you begin speaking
  5. End your talk with the lights on. Project the final slide, turn on the lights and conclude your talk. This reestablishes you with your audience.

Prepare for success

  1. Have a backup plan in case you have technical problems.
  2. Ask some one to handle the lights for you.
  3. Scope out the room early and set it up so it works for you..
  4. Arrive early to set up and test your equipment.
  5. Set your show up before you are introduced
  6. Practice using the remote control (and always use a remote control).
  7. Sit in the last row of seats and look at your slides. If you can’t see them clearly, your audience won’t either.

You can build a sturdy house with a hammer or you can build something that will fall apart quickly. It is not the hammer that makes the difference, but how it is used.

iSpeakEASY offers workshops and individualized coaching to help you design and deliver effective PowerPoint presentations. CLICK HERE for information.

© 2011- All rights reserved.  -This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words.

Reasons You May NOT Need Help With Your Presentation

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, Organization, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on May 9, 2011 at 6:26 AM

Speaking Tip # 62

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 Audiences Want From A Speaker: A Free Presentation

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Delivery, Increased sales, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on May 2, 2011 at 9:06 PM

If you knew what your audience wanted and expected from you, would that help you deliver a more effectgive presentation? Of course it would!

We make presentations every day – usually in the form of small, informal talks at staff meetings or conversations with co-workers, clients or family members. Developing a clear objective and organizing our thoughts enhances your credibility and increases your effectiveness.

“What Audiences Want From A Speaker” helps speaker’s improve their presentation skills whether they are making formal presentations to large groups or informal presentations to small groups.

The talk covers:

  • The three highly desired attributes of good presentations
  • The five fatal mistakes many speakers make
  • Steps speakers can take to improve their presentations
  • The value of good visual aids


This presentation will be offered as a part of the Marin Masterminds Networking Group monthy meeting on Wednesday, May 4th

This is a brown bag lunch networking group

Noon to 1:30 in the Community Room on the second floor of the AAA Insurance Building at 99 Smith Ranch Road in San Rafael, CA 

Here is what others say about this presentation:

 “On behalf of the Walnut Creek Rotary Club, I want to thank for an excellent presentation on public speaking. Good programs are important for the club to keep our members interested and attendance up! We all appreciated the well-prepared and informative presentation.”

John Gardner, Rotary of Walnut Creek

“You have been, in effect, a years worth of Toastmasters encapsulated into a couple of sessions.” 

Clyde L. Schultz, DDS.

“I believe in Ethan’s ability to help people reach their highest level of delivery and competence.” 

Brian Allen, Rotary of San Jose Downtown

 “The session was exciting, well organized, and engaging. The materials were easy to understand we were given the tools to improve our speaking skills.”

 San Francisco Estuary Institute


The Rights Of A Speaker

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Delivery, Increased sales, Public Speaking on April 19, 2011 at 8:51 AM

Speaking Tip 30

 The audience expects (and is entitled to) the best performance you can offer. Your credibility and that of your organization is at stake every time you make a presentation.

As a speaker, you have rights to insure you are positioned to properly provide the top-rate service your audience expects. Do not be afraid to politely turn down a request to speak if the reasons justify it.

A speaker is entitled to:

  • Adequate lead-time to prepare for your talk
  • Clearly defined expectations – What is it they want from your talk and why were you asked to speak?
  • The parameters of your talk – e.g. time allotted, size of audience
  • A clear description of audience member’s backgrounds and needs related to the topic
  • A list of other speakers preceding and following your talk
  • Access to proper equipment: stage or podium, lectern, microphone, properly functioning audio-visual equipment
  • Ability to set up the room in advance so that it works for you
  • The full amount of time they have allotted you
  • A host who sets clear ground rules so the audience treats the speaker with respect
  • A place to speak that is quiet with out distractions

 To deliver your best you need the right tools, time and information. These will increase your self the confidence and credibility allowing you to offer excellent presentation the audience deserves.




© 2008 – All rights reserved.  This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

Unlocking The Minds Of Your Audience

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on April 2, 2011 at 3:52 PM

Speaking Tip # 66


Chances are, we’ve all tried to use a key that is rusted, dirty, and nicked. Yes, the key might open the lock, but it takes more effort and frustration.

Content is the key to a good presentation, but if key is not well polished, the presentation won’t measure up to expectations.

A good presentation is easy to follow and fun to hear. The audience is intrigued and inspired, and the room is filled with energy. This happens when the speaker’s goal is to allow the audience to focus on the meaning of the words, rather than exert effort trying to figure out what they mean. The more distractions (rust, dirt, nicks) the speaker can remove, the easier it is for the key to unlock the minds of the audience.

Common types of speaker rust, dirt, and nicks include:

·     Irrelevant information or relevant information delivered at the wrong time. As a speaker, it’s easier to determine what to say than to know what not to say. Some speakers assume they are the center of attention and believe the audience wants to hear everything they have to say. Effective speakers understand the audience is the center of attention, so everything said must benefit the audience, not satisfy the ego of the speaker.

·     Poor presentation style. Distracting mannerisms, verbal fidgeting (ums, ahs), and pacing back and forth all detract from speaker credibility. Rather than being able to relax and absorb what’s being said, the audience only shares the speaker’s discomfort.

·     Poorly designed talk. The audience expends energy trying to piece together bits of information, rather than being able to expand on the ideas being presented.

·     Poorly designed graphics. The audience is forced to guess what an image means, rather than just listen to the speaker and understand the points being made.

·     Lack of attention to audience needs. An audience member who is thirsty, hungry, deprived of caffeine, or in need of a break has a difficult time listening, let alone focusing and appreciating.

A good presentation demonstrates respect for the audience. It says the speaker values the audience enough to make the experience completely enjoyable. Most people will forgive poor presentation style if the content is valuable or interesting; however, they have every right to expect a presentation with good content and excellent delivery.


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.



© 2011  iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved -. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. . 

Moving From Here To There

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Delivery, Public Speaking on March 7, 2011 at 9:12 PM

The goal of a presentation is to motivate the listener to do something different. You want them to change a belief, buy your product, behave differently, or support a cause.

The challenge is how to move the listener from where they are now to where we want them to be? Instead of delivering information, a good presenter interprets the meaning of the topic to the listener.  

The following six principles can help you achieve this goal.

Provoke your audience

The purpose of your talk is to educate your audience with the intent of changing behavior, not just to give them information. Don’t assume that if you tell them the features, they will see the benefit. Tell them the benefits and skim over the features.

Reveal new meaning

The speaker should help listener gain new meaning. You want to give them the “ah ha” moment. This step is needed to motivate the audience. You are building on what they already know and showing the “value added”.

Relate the information to your audience

The audience must be mentally engaged in the presentation to move from where they are to where you want them to be. Show how your topic relates to their life or work. This will tell them why they want listen to you.

Speaking is an art form

A good speaker utilizes techniques of making good presentations. but adorns this with his own style. Use your own personality, interests, and passions to let your talk reflect you.

Address your specific audience

Each presentation should be crafted to fit the particular needs and desires of your audience. There is a vast difference in how Gen X’ers communicate and how Baby Boomers take in information. The expectations of technology, length of talk, even the pacing, are quite different from audience to audience.

Present the whole

Your topic is a piece of the life of your audience. Demonstrate how it fits in with other aspects of their life. Help them to see the “big picture” while emphasizing this as a part of that. When possible, show how they will benefit today as well as in the future. 

A good presenter is an interpreter – taking information and putting into a form that is of interest to the listener. A good presentation creates a bridge between the topic and the audience.

Incorporate these six principles into every presentation to help your audience understand why your words are of value to them.

With appreciation for the wisdom of Freeman Tilden in his book Interpreting Our Heritage. (available  from Acorn Naturalist for $15.95)

© 2010 All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links from your blog or webpage are encouraged.

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.


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

© 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.

Let Your Passion Show

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Mannerisms/Habits, New Techniques, Public Speaking on January 27, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Let Your Passion Show

We often feel being “professional” requires being sterile – keeping emotion and passion out of our work and out of our talks. Yet heartfelt stories of personal tragedy, drama, discovery, loss, and triumph are universal experiences that help build rapport with audiences.

Audiences feed off enthusiasm, passion, desire, and confidence. Share these with your audience; allow your audience to feel the exuberance you have for your work. Share with them the struggles and accomplishments that have brought you to where you are today.

A good story from the heart can result in the entire audience being silent and rapt with attention. Audiences love stories and more so when they include human drama. All ears will be on you and there will be few, if any, side conversations or other distracting behaviors.

You have a reason for doing the work you do. You chose to be here. Use this reason to help get your point across. If you have a compelling story of why you do what you do, share it.

This is the meaning behind your work – it is what brought you here. This story will be a stronger motivator than mere product information. When you tell personal stories, your audience will want to listen, they will lean forward, and the room will fill with silence: a complete silence that allows each of your words to land strongly in the ears of your listener. Your audience will feel you are real and will want to support you or your business.

If you have a heartfelt true story – tell it. If you are excited about your topic – show it. If you have a belief – share it. Make yourself vulnerable. Tell your audience who you really are – they will admire and respect you for it.

Fill your talks with passion and emotion. Use your stories to captivate your audience and help them understand why you do what you do. They will then be more likely to listen to you and to follow your suggestions.


© 2009 – All rights reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

Good Presenters Always Offer Their Best

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on January 18, 2011 at 8:05 PM

I am not really prepared for this presentation tonight” the speaker stated as he opened his talk. “I have not been feeling well so did not have time to prepare. I did not want to let you down, so I came anyway.”

As a member of the audience, what is going through your head at this point in the talk?

  1. Great, I busted my butt to get here only to get a second rate presentation
  2. On top of being bored, I will probably get sick from his germs
  3. Maybe I can sneak out the back unnoticed and get something important done
  4. All of the above

The speaker has barely started his talk yet his credibility is already lower than the floor.

There are many reasons for not being prepared for your talk but no real excuses. You knew you would be expected to speak and probably procrastinated on the preparation. Your audience has sacrificed to come hear you and deserve your best. If you can not deliver, consider alternatives that may save your professional credibility.

I am under the weather today and will not be able to deliver the seminar I promised you. I am very disappointed and apologize for the inconvenience, but want to be at my best for you and do not want to risk sharing my illness with you. Let’s reschedule for next week.”

Which feelings do you think you will experience after reading the above email:

  1. Disappointment yet happy to have an extra 2 hours in your day
  2. Appreciative of the courtesy of the speaker
  3. Excitement for the high quality presentation you will get when she recovers
  4. All of the above

The first speaker demonstrated lack of respect for the audience – they were not important enough to him to adequately prepare. His talk should have been planned in advance so that last minute “stresses” would not have an impact.

The audience will judge your professional abilities based, in part, on how well you present. A second-rate performance indicates you are a second-rate professional. A first rate delivery indicates you take time to plan and prepare in all aspects of your life and work.

Your credibility is on the line every time you present. A single bad presentation will not destroy your career and it won’t do anything to enhance it. Presenting is one of the best ways to build your business, gain support for your project, and influence others. The audience is giving you the most important item they have, their time. Honor that by delivering your best to them.

 © 2009 – 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.