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5 Strategies For Responding To Questions (especially when you don’t know the answer)

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2017 at 9:48 AM

 

(Note:  This is an updated and improved version of an earlier articlequestion-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 five 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.      Use Your audience

Invite the audience to respond with their knowledge or opinions. You may try to turn the the question into a conversation with a statement such as:

“That is great question, does anyone want to try to share their thoughts?”

5.      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.

If you found this article helpful, consider having a live presentation on this topic for your staff and co-workers. We offer a special 45-60 minute mini-workshop that is perfect for brown bag lunches and staff meetings. Like all our sessions, it is interactive and fast paced.

 

 

 

 

The Rights of A Speaker

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2017 at 12:50 PM

As a speaker, you need to ensure 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 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  Call for information on individual coaching or group training.

Punography

In Uncategorized on March 1, 2017 at 9:56 AM

Humor (appropriate and well placed) is one of the four tools used by effective presenters.

Sometimes it is just good to laugh. Audiences like to laugh too.

  • I tried to catch some fog. I mist.
  • When chemists die, they barium.
  • Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
  • A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is not a seasoned veteran.
  • I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop anytime.
  • How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
  • I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
  • The girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.
  • I am reading a book about antigravity. I can’t put it down.
  • I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
  • They told me I had type A blood, but it was a type O.
  • A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
  • PMS jokes aren’t funny. Period.
  • Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
  • Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there is no pop quiz.
  • Energizer bunny arrested: Charged with battery.
  • I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
  • How to you make holy water? You boil the hell out of it.
  • What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
  • When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
  • What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.
  • I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  • Broken pencils are pointless.

 

Author unknown…but witty!

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.

Tips To A Meaningful Holiday Toast

In Uncategorized on December 22, 2016 at 8:51 AM

toast-family

It is a gift when you are able to stand and deliver warm, heartfelt words at a gathering of friends of and family. To speak in a manner that makes makes those around you, smile, press against their spouses, hug their kids, and laugh. Maybe you will even bring out a happy tear or two.

As you prepare for your holiday, whether it is at home or elsewhere, take time to reflect on your family and friends, and why you love them. Look around for all the wonderful blessings around you. Think about the holiday and put those thoughts into a short outline.

  • Keep it to three points or less
  • Practice saying it
  • Speak slowly and look around the room as you talk allowing your gaze to meet the eyes of each person at your table
  • Keep it light, keep it positive, and focus on the beauty and abundance around you
  • Moderate your drinking prior to the toast

You will amaze your family and friends with a heartfelt toast that will be remembered for a long time.

© 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.

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.

A Holiday Gift For You

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2016 at 8:13 PM

Speaking and being an effective speaker are not the same thing. We all know how to speak – that comes with having a mouth. Being able to speak in a manner that helps to enlighten others – that is the tricky part.

As a holiday gift, you can receive a package of speaking tips delivered to your email inbox  – one tip per week for 8 weeks absolutely free. No tricks, no gimmicks, no obligation – just my way of thanking you.

gift

Each tip is short and to the point and will be sent separately so you can absorb each thought. Put together – they will make a powerful set of tools designed to make you a better presenter.

These techniques and ideas work regardless of the size of your audience – you can be speaking to a packed room, presenting at a staff meeting, or speaking one-on-one.

To Receive Your Speaking Tip, Simply click this link and say yes – you want to be included. That is all.

You are also welcome to share this gift with your friends, employees, colleagues – even your dog if you believe it will help them. Again, just send me an email with their name and email address and I will gladly include them.

If they decide they do not enjoy the tips, they can opt out at any time.

Happy holidays.

The One Thing All Audiences Care About

In Uncategorized on December 5, 2016 at 8:06 PM

Work, family, hobbbies, vacation, religion, politics, sexuality – what is your favorite thing to talk about? While not everyone will admit it – most people’s choice is themselves. Likewise, the topic we find most interesting to listen to is again, ourselves.

i-love-me

Use this to your advantage when trying to capture the attention of your audience. Tell them something you know about them, a quality you admire, or an obstacle they have overcome. Cite the good work they have done or acknowledge their efforts – in a sincere and honest manner. Talk about them before you talk about yourself.

When you have done this, the next step is to make a connection between their life and what are going to talk about.

This technique helps grab the audience’s attention and encourages them to listen to you. It is amazing how engaging it is to hear a person talk about us! Many speakers begin by listing their own credentials and experiences – which most audiences find far less interesting.

Have you ever been in a crowded room full of noise when suddenly you hear one word above the roar – that word is your name? Your ears perk up and you focus on finding out who said it. It is the one topic that we are always interested in hearing about – regardless of our mood or what else is going on.

In a speech to a group of volunteers, the mayor of a large city began by talking about the importance of volunteerism, the benefits to the volunteer, and the difference in the world these people are making. He could have talked about his efforts spearheading this  program or the accomplishments of his administration but instead he spoke to the audience about the audience and in doing so, gained their attention, their support, and their loyalty.

A great way to grab and hold your audience’s attention is to speak about something near and dear to them. For example, when speaking to a decision making body (such as a city council) –begin by acknowledging the work the council does in creating a better civic life, When speaking to a potential client acknowledge their successes and the challenges they face.

The next time you are getting ready to speak – put “you” into your sentence before you say “I.” It takes effort to do this, almost as if it is unnatural, but you can learn to do this effectively in a short amount of time.

 If you enjoyed this article, I have a special gift for you….
 

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

Speak Well Every Time You Talk

In Uncategorized on December 2, 2016 at 8:53 AM

 

Consider these scenarios:

  • You have to make a presentation at a conference or trade show. You do not know these people and will probably never see them again.
  • You are asked to make a presentation at tomorrow’s staff meeting.
  • You need to talk to your spouse or child about family finances.

Which would you spend the most time preparing for and which would you be most likely do with little or no preparation?

We all make presentations. We try to convince, change a behavior or attitude, or share information and ideas. Since most of the time these presentations are to family, friends, or coworkers – we undervalue the importance of the talk and we not prepare. We go into it with unclear goals and exceptions, and subsequently, fail to reach our goals.

We tend to prepare the least for the presentations that have the greatest impact while preparing the most for the presentations that have the smallest impact.

Most speakers spend less than 2 hours preparing for a formal presentation. When the presentation is to staff, friends, or family, the tendency is to do little or no preparation. They walk in, shoot from the hip, and many times end up shooting themselves in the foot.

When you speak to a room full of people and make a mistake – there is empathy for you. The implications are minimal if you completely blow it: the audience probably will not even remember your name and will think you had a bad day or are a poor presenter. However, what are the implications for a poor performance when you present an idea at a staff meeting? What about when you need to speak to a family member about an important issue?

Treat all your presentations with the importance they are due.

  • Take time to prepare.
  • Identify your objective: know what it is you wish to accomplish.
  • Define your message: what is it you want the person(s) to know?
  • Create effective visual aids: what can you show to help you make your point?

Taking the time to prepare for your smaller presentations is more important than taking the time for the ones to a larger group. Take all your speaking seriously and you will be more effective in many aspects of your life.

Staying Tuned In With Your Audience

In Uncategorized on November 9, 2016 at 8:28 PM

We all have off days. It is a terrible feeling to be speaking to a group of people and feel as if you are not connecting with them or losing the audience. Your mind races as you search for solutions, become more nervous and probably, without knowing it, tend to do more harm than good in trying to find quick fixes. We speed up the pace of our talking, make bad jokes, do almost anything to fix the problem. And when it is finally over, most speakers blame the audience. “I don’t know what was wrong with those people but as hard as I tried, I just could not find a way to connect” or “they were dense and nothing I did worked” are statements commonly stated after a failed presentation.

If you find yourself in the position of feeling uncomfortable in your ability to connect with your audience, chances are high the audience feels it as well. It is your job to take steps to bridge the gap as it is the speaker’s role to be engaging, not the audience’s role to be polite.

I recently watched a speaker who could not connect with the audience.  She flailed in her attempts to gain their attention.  After a fair bit of time, she gave up and in frustration resorted to poking fun at and insulting the audience. Many audience members had enough at this point and simply walked out.

Instead of finding fault with the audience, here are a couple of techniques that may work for you:

  • Slow down your speaking and think about what might be happening
  • Change your approach – but keep it positive. Perhaps you miscalculated what strategy might work

elephant-in-the-room   If these do not work, then it is time to address the elephant in the room. Ask the audience if you are being clear – is what you are presenting making sense to them? Put the discomfort on the table and have a conversation with the audience about what is happening – tell them what you are trying to do and ask where you lost them. You may find a whole new approach is required or you may find you inadvertently went too quickly over one key point.

Phrase your questions in a manner that clearly keeps the pressure on yourself and does not place blame on the audience. Ask if you are being clear and not if they are understanding.

Talking with the audience demonstrates you care and subsequently increases your credibility. You may find a way to fix the problem or you may find your perceptions of being disconnected is completely off-base – it is possible they are engaged and intently listening. Either way you stand to win by asking the questions.

The speaker I mentioned earlier in this article spiraled downward and out of control. In her attempts to fix the situation, she simply made it worse and lost all credibility. Follow the steps mentioned above and you have the chance to save your presentation while increasing your credibility.

© 2016 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Call for information on individual coaching or group training.