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A Tough Act To Follow

In Uncategorized on June 6, 2018 at 1:10 PM

 

excellent speakerThe speaker on stage was excellent. She had it dialed in: the audience was attentive, involved and the room was full of energy and laughter. The man standing next to me leaned into me to whisper “She is really good. Sure glad I am not up next. That would be one tough act to follow”.

What this man did not realize is I was the next speaker and in a few minutes I would be taking the stage with this same audience. My assessment of the situation was quite the opposite of his though: I was delighted with what she was doing with the audience and how she was setting me up for success. I knew when I took over, the audience would be alive, active, fully charged and ready to take it to the next level. She had in essence, built a podium of success for to me to step up to.

As I took the stage, I acknowledged what a great speaker had preceded me. I reminded the audience of her energy and felt the room liven up again at just the thought. Then I worked my own magic on the audience and gave the audience my best. Being ready for the presentation helped: I had a clear goal, an outline, and used the confidence that comes with properly preparing to catapult the audience to new heights.

Many speakers, including the man I mentioned earlier, are intimidated in this situation and start with something like “That is one hard act to follow.” That type of statement implies you are intimidated and immediately lowers your credibility both to your audience and in your own mind.

The next time you find yourself following a really great presenter, rather than bring the energy down, boost it by taking one of these approaches:

  • Thank the speaker and highlight a part of the talk you found helpful
  • Acknowledge the speaker’s success to the audience, for example, open with” Wow! – That was one great presentation –don’t you think?”
  • “Let’s have another round of applause for that great presentation”
  • Highlight a point the speaker made and how it relates to what you will present

Rather than dread following an excellent speaker – ride the wave of energy and excitement. Express gratitude to the previous speaker, acknowledge how good they are then give the audience your best.

 

© 2016 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.

 

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Managing Difficult Audiences: A Workshop

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2018 at 10:19 PM

It Is Difficult To Present Controversial Or Unwanted Information

Have you needed to respond to a tough question, needed to deliver unwelcome information, or felt heckled at a program or meeting?  When done properly, both the audience and agency leave feeling heard and satisfied (even if not happy) with the results. When done poorly, it is like throwing gasoline on a fire. Your credibility will be questioned and you will leave feeling terrible. difficult audience

This session provides techniques to help set up and manage difficult discussions while remaining in control of the situation and  ensuring everyone has the opportunity to speak. You will learn techniques to diffuse conflict before it occurs, keep your meeting on-track , and provide respectful dialogue that allows everyone to share their opinion.

Participants will learn:

  • Tips to manage difficult meetings successfully
  • How to manage hecklers
  • To respond effectively to questions
  • Techniques to diffuse tense situations
  • Ways to determine when you are dealing with a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”
  • Techniques of Verbal Victories
  • To help your audience feel heard

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

10:30 AM– 2:30 PM

 Robert Livermore Community Center, Livermore, CA

 $110  per  person – To register

 (415) 342-7106

ethan@ispeakeasy.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Really Great Question

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2018 at 10:11 PM

 

I knew I was in trouble as soon as he blurted out “this is probably a really dumb question but…”

I knew I was about to hear a really basic question. The kind I am asked all the time. Something really basic and elementary that my perhaps my dog could answer. asking quesiton

I listened intently as he spoke and when he was done, I smiled as I replied, “that is a really great question”.

As a presenter, I hope the questions I am asked will be intellectually stimulating, challenging, and an opportunity for me demonstrate my credibility. This question was none of those.

In truth – it was a great question. What made it great was the fact that he was asking something that he did not know the answer. He was seeking to educate himself and to learn. This is the reason I speak – to help people see things in a new way and to help them discover new truths.

I watched his face light up as I affirmed the quality of his question. He listened carefully to my answer and from there; the conversation progressed down a related path. The audience appreciated the response as well. They knew they were safe asking a question without fear of belittlement. They saw the kindness offered by the presenter and the excitement I had as I gave the answer.

The response demonstrated that as speaker, I saw the audience as my equal. I did not feel superior to them, I welcomed their questions and inquiries and I was intent on helping them.

In truth, it was a pretty general question. The kind I get all the time. Yet I am so grateful he asked.

The next time you get a question that seems basic; perhaps even ridiculously simply, remember to answer it well. Take time to listen carefully to the question and be clear that you appreciate the question, even if it seems to be a very simple one. Be gracious and excited if not for the question itself, then for the opportunity to help a member of your audience. The manner in which you answer will speak volumes about the type of person you are.

 

© 2012, iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved

Call or email for information on how to create and deliver presentations that capture and inspire your audience.

Intrigue Your Auedience – Don’t Overwhelm Them

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2017 at 2:18 PM

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!

aspirin-aisle

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 gives the audience 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.

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.

 

© 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 Ethan@iSpeakEASY.net

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.