Posts Tagged ‘Presentations’

How Much Time Do You Have To Grab Their Attention?

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2016 at 7:28 AM


15 seconds. That is how much time you have to grab the attention of your audience. 15 seconds to prove what you are about to say is important to them! Use this time efficiently and they are yours. Waste it and you can watch your audience fidget, turn away, and mentally leave the room.  In   one-on-one conversations, you will be able to watch their eyes dart about before they divert the conversation to a new topic.

We know the value of being clear on what we are trying to say. Now we shift the focus from us and look at why it is important to them, our audience.

Start your talk with a provocative statement that will capture your audience right off the bat. Think of a rhetorical question, a joke, a story, a statistic or a dramatic statement that will peak interest and make them want to hear the rest of what you have to say. Find something that demonstrates why what you want to say is of value to them.

Think about this: when you buy a book – is it wrapped in a jacket (or cover) that is designed to intrigue you or is it in plain brown wrapping? The purpose of the cover is to make you want to pick the book up and look deeper. Think of your opening statement as the cover of the book – what are you going to put there to make others want to know what is inside?

An all-too-common mistake is to starting the talk with the verbal equivalent of brown paper wrapping – uninteresting background, the usual thank yous, or other irrelevant information. The audience is lost before you have begun.

When you stand up to speak (or walk into someone’s office) – be ready with a good opening line that is to-the-point and captivating. It should be clearly thought out, well rehearsed and directly tied to your main message, even if you are speaking one-on-one.

Try this experiment – watch other people speak. Do they start with something of interest to you or do they begin by telling you things you don’t really care about? How do you react to this situation and what is it that makes you stay tuned?

The first 15 seconds of your talk are critical to your success. Take time to plan it well so that you grab their attention and make your audience want to listen.


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

Bridge Building and Better Speaking

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2014 at 9:08 PM

building bridgesEffective speakers build bridges between themselves and the audience. They get to know the audience to create a feeling of connection. They learn what interests and motivates the audience, and show themselves as a multi-dimensional being. Doing this allows the speaker to address the needs of the audience while making the presentation feel more like a conversation with a friend rather than a pitch by a stranger.

The more you can bridge the gap between you and the audience, the more accepting they will be of your ideas.

Use these techniques to move from an” us and them” situation to a feeling of “I am one of you”.

  • Arrive early, set up, and mingle. Take time to greet members of the audience. Introduce yourself and ask them questions. This is an opportunity for you to learn about your audience on both an individual and group basis. Spend more time listening as your turn to speak is coming.
  • Reference individuals in the audience. When speaking, refer to individuals in the audience by name and refer to your conversations with them. This makes the one person feel very good while demonstrating to the entire audience that you value them.
  • Ask the audience questions. Encourage them to raise their hands and create opportunities for them to respond. This creates a group experience and unites the audience.
  • Listen to the speakers that precede you. When presenting as part of an agenda, arrive early and observe the proceedings. Sit quietly and listen. This shows your interest in the audience, assures you are on time, and gives you insight on other issues they are dealing with.
  • Talk about common experiences or values that you share with your audience. Based on your conversations with individuals, what do you know, do or feel that is common to the group? What are your shared interests and goals?

All of these steps build bridges while tearing down barriers between you and the audience. Take time to learn your audience: talk with them and find out what makes them tick. Include them in your presentation. Your credibility will soar and your audience will be more receptive to your message.

© 2007 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.


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.

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

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

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What Are YOUR Words Worth?

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales, speaking, Uncategorized on October 15, 2013 at 8:03 PM

A bar of iron is worth about $5. Take that iron and turn it into horseshoes and it increases in value to $10 even though the raw materials are still the same. Take that same bar of iron and make it into screwdrivers and the value goes up to about $250. If you make needles with the iron, the value rises to $3,000 and if you turn it into balance springs for watches the value soars to $250,000.

The material is still the same limited quantity of metal but the way it is used, the end product, is quite different. The information and knowledge you possess is similar to iron. Its value is based on what you do with it, not the face value of the raw material itself.

What are you going to do with the information you have to increase its value? What can you say or do that will take the information you have come to life for you listener? How can you present it so that it morphs from raw data into something useful and inspiring to your audience? It is the audience’s perception of your words that makes them valuable, not the value you place on them.

In this “age of information” we live in, information is cheap while knowledge remains invaluable. The goal is to take information and present it in a manner that makes your audience say “Wow!”

Use your passion to make your data come to life for your listener. Plan your presentation, determine your singular main message, outline your 3-5 key points, create visual aids that help make your point and you are on the way to turning your bar of iron into watch springs.

The knowledge and experience you possess, that you try to convey to your audience, is worth little until you learn to present it in a fashion that is of interest to others. If you can make what you know relevant to others, the value of your information skyrockets.


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  © 2008 – This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY.  We help you profit from your words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

“I’ll Just Pick It Up Along The Way”

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Communication, Education, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, sales on February 5, 2013 at 8:40 PM

by Stanley K. Ridgley

Adolescent Attitude

One of the conundrums of business presenting is that it’s what is known in the parlance as a “soft skill.”

This moniker, whatever else it purports to mean, suggests that skill at business presenting is somehow “softer” than, say, accounting . . . and that therefore it needs much less attention or development.

Or that it’s somehow “easier.”  That it’s something that can be “picked up along the way.”

This belief – and it’s out there, held by distressingly large numbers of folks – does incredible damage to the early careers of young people, who form a decidedly wrong impression of the craft of speaking publicly.

The Reality

pick it up 1Public Speaking – excellent public speaking – is tough.  Delivering a superb business presentation is one of the tougher tasks, because it often requires coordination with others in a kind of ballet.

And it requires practice, just like any other discipline.

But invariably, the “soft skill” label moves it down the priority list of faculty and college administrators and, hence, of the students they serve.

I can quickly gauge the attention on business presenting at an institution by simply watching a cross-section of presentations.  To be generous, student business presentations are usually lacking across a range of dimensions.  They come across most often as pedestrian and workmanlike.  Many are quite bad.

But this is not to say that they are worse than what passes for presenting in the corporate world.  They are, frankly, usually as good – or as bad – as what is dished out in the “real world.”

The Great Embarrassment

The great embarrassment is that the majority of business students have untapped potential for becoming competent and especially powerful business presenters, but never realize that potential.

Some students pass through the business school funnel with only cursory attention to presentation skills.  Perhaps I’m too demanding, and the degree of attention I’d like to see just isn’t possible.  But . . .

But the craft of presenting needs only the proper focus and priority to transform young people into quite capable and competent presenters

And some institutions get it right.

I’m blessed to serve an institution that takes presenting seriously and whose winning results in case competitions demonstrates this commitment to preparing business students to excel in the most-demanded skill that corporate recruiters seek.  A coterie of professors, particularly in finance, have recognized the power bestowed by sharp presentation skills, and so emphasize their acquisition far beyond the norm in most schools.

Administrators, too, insist that students pass through rigorous workshops that inculcate in students the presenting skills to last a business lifetime.

Especially Powerful Results

And the results can be phenomenal.pick it up 2

Merely by virtue of exposure to the proper techniques, students gain tremendous personal career advantage.  And by elevating business presenting to a level commensurate with the sub-disciplines of, say, marketing, operations, or risk management, B-Schools can imbue their students and faculty with the appropriate reverence for the presentation enterprise.

One result of this is the creation of young executives who tower over their peers in terms of presenting skills.  And especially powerful presentation skills are in high demand by corporate recruiters.

And so, back to the original contention of folks who wonder what could one possibly write about in a “business presenting blog” . . . just as there is much to be learned, it means there is much to write about.

There is much to be distilled from 2500 years of recorded presentation wisdom.

The wisdom is there . . . it remains for us to seize it and make it our own for enhanced personal competitive advantage.

© 2013, Stanley K. Ridgley. Reprinted with permission.

For more on especially powerful business presenting, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.

About Stanley K. Ridgley

Stanley K. Ridgley, PhD is one of the country’s foremost experts on delivering Business School Presentations and is the author of the award-winning 2012 book, “The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.” He is also the faculty instructor for the course “Strategic Thinking” in the DVD series Dr. Ridgley brings to bear the most powerful instructional techniques from one of America’s great business schools and combines them with the lessons of military leadership and high strategy learned on the front lines of the Cold War as a Military Intelligence Officer.

This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

Like Filler In A Hot Dog

In BNI and Business Networking, Business Presentations, Education, executive coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Social Media on January 21, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Do you ever notice the words and phrases people use that have no meaning? They struggle to find something to say and throw in things that take up space but mean nothing. Words such as:

  • Obviously
  • Let me begin by saying
  • Clearly
  • Honestly
  • As you can see
  • Really
  • Well
  • Um
  • Ah
  • In fact
  • As ‘so and so’ just said
  • In addition
  • Let me say that
  • So anyway
  • Before we begin
  • As you already know
  • Actually
  • Right

These phrases are like filler in a hot dog – they offer nothing more than bulk. There is no nutritional value or meaning. They do take up space though.

These words seem silly when read in a list, but listen for them as people around you speak. A few of these words or phrases sprinkled in a conversation may have little effect and in some cases, they may be appropriate. Most of the time, they convey a single message: The speaker does not know what to say. This hurts your credibility.

A confident demeanor demonstrates you are an expert in your field. It shows that you know what you are doing and, have the experience required to make a wise statement.

If you find yourself feeling nervous or unsure what to say, use a pause to buy you time to think. Silence is a powerful and loud tool that demonstrates you are thoughtful and credible. It buys you time to think while building your credibility.

Listen to others speak: are they using filler? If they do, how do you react when they use it? What is the impression you get when you hear them? Watch other audience members to see their reactions as well. Look at the speaker and see if you can ascertain their emotions while they do this. Do you sense confidence or panic?

It is good to speak when you have something to say. If you have nothing to say, rather than use filler, just say nothing.

(if you have a word you like to add to the list, post it under comments. I will compile them a post the updated list)

© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

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A Magic Elixir For Speakers

In exective coaching, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Social Media on December 16, 2012 at 2:48 PM

When I speak, I often get tongue- tied. I stutter and don’t know what to say. Is there something I can do about that?”

David was sincere in asking this question at the workshop. I sugmagic elixir 2 copygested to him that he review the 9-step process we discussed earlier for designing talks. That he make time to adequately prepare, determine his desired outcome, have a clear message, know his 3-5 talking points, practice, create good visual aids, practice some more, and evaluate his presentations. He listened intently nodding before saying “Yes, I get all that. When I do prepare, my presentations are fine. I want to know how to present well without all the preparation. What is the shortcut to get me there?”

Sadly, I had no magic elixir, no pill, and no one-step process to offer David.  I see myself as a good coach, but not a magician.

What David expressed is what many of want – the ability to reach his goals without the pain of the effort.   He wants to succeed but puts preparation as a low level priority. Is it any surprise that when he is front of the audience, at the moment it really counts, he stumbles, his confidence falters, and he is seen as less credible?

I hope David learns that time spent preparing for a talk is an investment in his success When he is able to get his point across and inspire audiences to take action, he will quickly accomplish his goals and can move on to his next project. That is success. That is a saving of time.

Good public speaking is it takes time to prepare. I hope David learns this soon.


  • © 2012, iSpeakEASY – All rights reserved

All Artists Are Self-Taught

In BNI or other Networking Groups, Business Presentations, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, speaking on April 15, 2012 at 8:37 PM

“Techniques and skill and even a point of view are often handed down, formally or not. It’s easier to get started if you’re taught, of course.

But art, the new, the ability to connect the dots and to make an impact–sooner or later, that can only come from one who creates, not from a teacher and not from a book.”


Seth Godin


“There is an art and a science in public speaking. Any one can learn the the techniques of being a a good presenter just as anyone can learn to stretch canvas and mix paints. Few of us, however, will become a Picasso.

But it never hurts to strive for betterment!”


Ethan Rotman

Put Your Gold Up Front

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, Fund raising, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Uncategorized, web video on September 29, 2011 at 10:38 AM






The speaker at the lectern let go with a gem of a statement. I nudged the person next to me and said “that was brilliant”.  My companion looked up from his smart phone and said “Huh? I did not hear it, I must have been distracted.”

The fault was not with my companion. The speaker had spent so much time droning on with boring details that most people in the room had checked out. By the time he got to his golden statement, few people were paying attention to hear it. (If you know me, you might think it is amazing I caught this insightful statement). As I looked around the room, I noticed that most people were distracted with their phones, shuffling papers, or just looking out the windows. By the time the speaker said something worth hearing, few were listening.

If he had started his talk with his golden words everyone would have heard them. Not only that, it is more likely they would have paid attention to the rest of his comments. At the beginning of his talk, 100% of the audience was focusing 100% of their attention on him. Rather than capitalizing on this opportunity, he lost his advantage by going over dry details that were of low value and, perhaps, did not need to be said at all.

Everyone pays attention at the beginning of your talk – use this opportunity to share your golden thoughts and grab their attention.

In case you wondering, there is “gold” in the middle of the first paragraph.  If you are like most people though, you missed it. Just like the speaker in the story above, the gold is buried too far to be noticed. Look at the paragraph below and notice how much easier it is to find the gold.