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Posts Tagged ‘Public Speaking’

Myths About Technical Talks

In Business Presentations, Communication, Public Speaking on May 18, 2017 at 12:54 PM

too much data

Myths About Technical Talks

Speaking Tip 100

Talks about technical subjects, especially when delivered to technical audiences, tend to be, well, technical.  Speakers go into great depth on the details of the subject while often missing the one thing the audience is really interested in: what it all means.

Many years ago I was working with a scientist who banded birds and tracked their flights across the Pacific from California to Japan. In his presentation, he discussed the 46 types of transmitters he decided not to use. When I asked him why he did this, he replied – “my audience wants to know about the tools I used”. I explained the audience was more interested in what he learned by tracking the birds, a detail he overlooked.

In 1992, Hewlett-Packard labs in Palo Alto, California conducted a survey to determine what technical workers want to hear from other presenters.

“Contrary to conventional wisdom that says the technical audience is eager for a “data dump”, the survey results reflect people’s preference for talks that are 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 instead they focused on simplifying their message. It’s a classic example of ‘less is more’”. *

Rather than wanting more technical detail, techies wanted:

  • More concise information
  • More effective style
  • Better visual aids

When dealing with technical information, rather than give the details, tell your audience what it all means. Avoid explaining the ins and outs, the details, and technical specifications – just tell your audience what it means to them. If your audience wants to know the details, they will ask.

Good presentations focus on what their audience wants to know rather than what the speaker thinks they should say.

* Frederick, Gilbert, “The Technical Presentation”, Technical Communication May 1 1992

iSpeakEASY helps people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Our clients accomplish more in less time. Contact us for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

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.

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.

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.

5 Assumptions About Public Speaking

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 Mini-Workshop on “Dangerous Assumptions On Public Speaking”

Thursday, February 11, 2016 – Details

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

© 2013 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

This Is What Others Say About iSpeakEASY

In Uncategorized on January 7, 2016 at 11:56 AM

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

Clyde L. Schultz, Dentist and Professional Speaker

 

“I’ve attended many workshops on public speaking in my 35-year career – this was the most useful.”

David Belitsky, Suisun Resource Conservation District

 

“I’m so excited about this course. I received tremendous value and was able to immediately apply the new skills. My business is growing with some thanks due to this workshop.”

Coree Cameron, Partner, Cameron, Coffey and Kaye, A Professional Corporation

 

“I can’t think of a faster and more efficient way to improve communications in a business than to attend Ethan’s trainings.”

Anastasia Shuster, Access Speakers

 

“I’ve been using the booklet and speaking tips for my quarterly financial presentations. They have been very helpful reminders and have improved my presentations.”

Laurie Talcott, Chief Financial Officer, Point Reyes Bird Observatory

 

“I learned from the interactive format and everyone in the group was supportive. The feedback was invaluable and has helped me. I highly recommend this workshop.”

Imee Burkett, Isagenix International ID/Coach,

 

“The workshop was focus, supportive and fun.”

Robin Fett, Hypnotherapist,

 

“I got 6 new referrals following my first presentation. Thanks for your help and guidance.”

DJ Colbert, BNI Power Lunch

 

“Ethan helps companies become more profitable by helping them to close more accounts due to effective communication. I think he would be very beneficial to your sales team.”

Sarah Scudder, Golden Pacific Systems, Inc.

 

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

Rainer Hoenicke, San Francisco Estuary Institute.

 

“At a recent gathering of scientists, presentations by staff who had attended an iSpeakEASY workshop were dynamic, engaging, conveyed information clearly, and held the audience’s attention.

Beth Huning, Coordinator, San Francisco Bay Joint Venture

So What?

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2015 at 8:05 PM

so what 1“So what?”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Why should I care?”

“Why is this important to me anyway?”

Though it may sound as if these words are coming from a teenager; these questions are going through the minds of everyone as you speak. It does not matter if you are presenting to a large group or talking one-on-one. The main thing your audience cares about is themselves. They are wondering how what you say proves valuable to them.

When you are planning your presentation, put yourself in the position of your audience and ask yourself the same questions. Why are you telling this to your audience, why would they care, and most importantly – why is it important to them? If there is no reason, then don’t say it as your audience will not be listening anyway.

Most people do not have an intrinsic desire to take in new information for the sake of learning. We are bombarded by information every day and rely on internal filters to control what we absorb.

When you speak, the listener will be unconsciously deciding if the information is important to them or not. Your job is to present your message in a manner that lets them know why it is in their interest to listen to you. It is the speaker’s job to demonstrate why the listener should pay attention rather than to space out or think about something else.

Design your talk from your audience’s point of view. Why is your message important to them? Why is each part of your talk of interest to them? How will listening make their life better? Examine each part of your talk from your audience’s perspective.

If you address these questions in your planning, you increase the likelihood your audience will pay attention and absorb what you are saying. If you fail to address these questions adequately, you will end up with an audience of one – and the one person paying attention will be the person doing the speaking.

With appreciation to Sam Ham.

 © 2009 – All Rights Reserved. This speaking tip is one in a series provided to you by iSpeakEASY. We help people speak effectively and with confidence.

Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

The Benefits Of Communicating Well

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2015 at 7:52 PM

I am working with a financial professional who I will never use again or refer to my friends. He may be brilliant at what he does and an absolute wizard when it comes to numbers – I do not doubt his core competencies at his job nor do I worry (too much anyway) about the long term impacts of what his work will do to my wallet. I will not hire him again simply because I do not understand much of what he says or does. This is not from a lack of effort on his part – but it is from a lack of his ability to successfully communicate what he is doing and recommending. confused

His talk is rushed, full of jargon and terms that I am sure mean something to people in his industry: he throws around ideas, alternatives, and excuses each time we speak – and even though we both are both professionals, who are intelligent and competent in English – I am clueless as to what he saying.

My advice for this gentleman goes in one of two directions: either learn to communicate the meaning of his work to his clients, or he should remain in the backroom and let someone else handle customers. What he is doing now may be in my best interest – it is hard for me to know as I don’t understand – but it is far from in his company’s best interest as there will be no follow up business or referrals.

He is not alone in his communication deficiency. Most people do a poor job explaining their work despite their expertise at the work they do. A study in 2006 demonstrated most non-profits have a difficult time obtaining community, public, and financial support based not on the value or quality of the work they do, but on their ability to communicate the benefit of their efforts.

Being competent in your work is expected. Being able to communicate the value of your work is essential to your growth, expansion, and to gaining the support and trust of your clients.

 

To Communicate Effectively With Your Clients

  • Take time to listen to your clients and help them understand what you are saying
  • Interpret what you are saying from the language of your industry to the language of your client
  • Translate jargon and remove acronyms from your talk
  • Assume your clients know less about your industry than you do until they demonstrate otherwise
  • Watch their faces to be sure they are understanding what you say
  • Spend as much time communicating with your client as you do on their project
  • Attend trainings and workshops on how to effectively communicate

 

 

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.

The Last Time I Let An Audience Get The Best Of Me

In Business Networking Groups, Business Presentations, PowerPoint, Public Speaking on June 10, 2015 at 8:16 PM

I remember the last time I let an audience get the best of me. It wasn’t really the entire audience, it was just one person who was unhappy or angry at the group that I represented. I let him rip me to pieces in front of everyone. I was embarrassed, belittled, distracted and felt quite stupid.

I remember the experience well because I left feeling beat up and angry at the man who attacked me. As I drove home though, I realized my anger was misguided. Yes, he was a jerk and yes he was trying to make me look bad but the real culprit was me: I allowed this happen.

I had the tools to better manage the situation I just forgot to use them. I let him lay a trap and like a fool, I walked right in. It was a good, but painful, lesson for me to learn and it has never happened to me since.
By comparison a year ago I led a meeting where there was a woman clearly gunning for me. This time though, the experience though ended quite differently and I walked out giving myself high fives in my brain. The difference was this time I remembered what I knew and I used the tools I had at hand. I was calm, I let her speak, I asked clarifying questions, and the more she spoke, the more outrageous she sounded to all in the room. I used the audience as my ally watching their reaction to her behavior and then asked if they wanted to continue her conversation of if they preferred to return to the agenda.

The next time you make a presentation, take stock of all your tools and training before you go into the room. Don’t allow fear to guide you, but do prepare for anything that might happen and keep control of yourself. If you sense something beginning to happen, breathe, think, and respond but don’t react. Chances are great you will not have to use all of your tools, but it sure is great to have them handy when you need them.

Tools For Managing Hecklers

 

  • Set ground rules for audience behavior and stick to them.
  • Always be on guard – pay attention to all questions
  • Make sure to understand the questions or issues raised
  • When dealing with a heckler (or possible heckler), allow them to speak freely for a limited time as they will probably dig themselves into a hole
  • Use the audience as your friend
  • Be calm – it is usually not personal
  • Ask for more information as most hecklers expend all their energy in the first punch and have little more to say after the initial attack

This Speaking Tip is one in a series from iSpeakEASY. We help people present information in an exciting and relevant manner. Contact us for information on workshops and coaching for groups and individuals. We take good speakers and make them excellent.

© 2015 by iSpeakEASY. All Rights Reserved.

Bring Your Message Home

In business, Business Networking Groups on January 28, 2015 at 8:08 PM

A good novel has a really exciting conclusion. A good presentation should have one too. novel ending

Unlike a novel though, your conclusion does not have to be a surprise or a cliffhanger – it should be predictable and your final words should hang in the air and stay in the mind of the listener.

A strong conclusion will:

  • Bring your message home
  • Tie together all your points
  • Tell the audience what it is you want them to do
  • Let the audience know you are through speaking

Most importantly though, it demonstrates your competency as a speaker and shows that you are earnest about your subject.

While this is one of the most critical parts of your talk, many speakers give it inadequate attention. They reach the end of their talk and trail off into nothingness, losing the final WHAM the conclusion should deliver and hurting their credibility as a speaker.

As important as the conclusion is, it is generally the easiest to write. An effective and easy formula is to:

  • Restate your theme,
  • Remind the audience of the 3-5 key points; and
  • Tell them what you hope they will do next.

Try plugging your details into this concluding statement:

“By now you can probably see why (your main point) is so important. We have discussed (3-5 key points). If this is of value to you then I encourage you to (action you want them to take).”

Think of it this way – your audience is most likely to remember your final words – so choose those last thoughts carefully and deliver them with a punch!

The ending of your talk is critical: it is like the final chapter in a book, the punch line of joke or the last chord of a song. To maximize your effectiveness as a speaker, take the time to create a well thought out, well rehearsed concluding statement.

 

Here are some other articles you may enjoy:

Are We Communicating?

When Is It The Right Time To Not Speak?

Fear Of Public Speaking Is Universal

Show The Audience You Don’t Care

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