What do Pancakes and Poor Presentations Have in Common?

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Is it this flat?

Are your presentations “As Flat as a Pancake?”
How would you know and what can you do about it?

So you’ve worked hard on the content, adapted it to your particular audience, have a clear focus of what you want achieve, put some great illustrations in it to drive home the main points, added some rhetorical questions to stimulate their imagination and keep them engaged  . . .

BUT their eyes are wandering and some even closing.

The atmosphere has moved from “keen anticipation” to “how much longer?”.

And that dreaded disease “early leavers” starts to go viral as Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point moves ever closer.

What went wrong? – – –  Maybe it was flat – as flat as a pancake?

All presentations, talks or speeches need variety not only of content but  . . .

  • variety of pitch
  • variety of pace
  • variety of volume

 This will give your presentation life, a third dimension and a hook to hold them to your every word. How and why does this work?

The next blog will explain!

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What Should the Speaker Wear?

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Well that depends on the audience!

No that doen’t mean you ask them to vote, who knows where that might end up (or down).

It simply means you need to match or fit in with the audience to whom you are speaking or presenting. The whole point is that it’s what you are saying that matters, what you are motivating them to do! So your clothes should not get in the way of that message. They should not be a distraction either by their style, colour or scarcity.

So if your audience is going to be Dinner Suited, so should you. If they are sure to be dressed casually, follow that lead but make it smart casual. Some conventions now have audiences that are all “Jeans and Tees”, OK go with the flow. Wear a tie if they do but make sure you take it off before stepping out to speak if they are open necked. When speaking to audiences of another culture you would not be expected to dress like them, but match the mood. If you know they will be “dressed up” mirror that with the appropriate clothing of your own culture.

I can remember arriving to present to the board of a mult national clothing company in my best suit, brand new white shirt and classy neck-tie only to be highly embarassed by the casually dressed directorspresent. Needless to say it did not go well. A call to their PA’s would have saved that embarressment and maybe a large order!

Any faux pas on your part, or presentations you’ve attended?

When Poweroint Puts The Light Out!

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Your Audience ???

Yes, powerpoint can be a brilliant tool – when used properly . . .

But most presenters use it far too much and lose their audience

either thro boredom or reading the material on the slide.

So …

1. Don’t fill each screen with content that you are going to read!
2. Don’t show the detail of each screen all at once, take the time to edit the presentation so detail can be revealed point by point by a mouse click
3. Don’t get your audience glued to the screen, maintain eye contact by using powerpoint as a summary of main points.
4. Don’t display complicated graphs, there is always a way to show results, trends, forecasts simply. Find it. Your audience will be grateful.
5. Do have blank screens that come up in between main points and drive your listeners attention back to you.
6. Do use illustrations that are both meaningful and easy on the eye.
7. Do maintain the same fonts, colours, branding throughout.
8. Do prepare a more detailed handout for after the presentation.
9. Oh, and do get there early and make sure all the techie stuff is sorted and the damn thing works!

Any tips, comments you have found useful?

Why asking a question can lose your listeners

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Captive Audience - No such thing!

Rhetorical questions are an excellent way to involve your audience, they stimulate their imagination and draw them into the point your are about to highlight. Sometimes you can even string two or three together perhaps with suggested answers on a multiple choice basis.

“What decision would you make if ******? – Maybe you would choose ***, or even ***”

BUT – Beware asking questions that require your audience to answer out loud because their answer can totally distract the whole gathering. It may point in the totally opposite direction to that which you were leading to . . .

  . . and correcting them can cause even more of a diversion.

If you do get caught out just a respectful . . . 

“Well that’s an interesting thought but I think most people would agree that ******”

 . . . should be enough to put the ship back on course without embarrassment either to yourself or the participant.

Don’t drown them with your illustrations!

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Yes – Illustrations are an excellent way to drive home a point. All great speakers use them BUT make sure you keep them short and only use them to support and drive home the main points of your presentation. They can be verbal by way of a very short story, a comparison – (similes and metaphors) or visually by way of a “picture”, short video or graph.

Make them easily understood and do not weave one illustration throughout the presentation or talk, that will only distract the audience who will get hooked on or bored by the story rather that the presentation itself.

What experiences have you had with good and bad illustrations?

Grab Attention . . . Introductions that make an Impact

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Do you grab you audience by their ears? If not then read on and discover 4 ways to make ’em sit up and listen.

Everyone knows that web surfers access sites in micro-seconds, rapidly moving on if not “satisfied”.

The very same thing takes place when you are presenting.

Whether the audience is large or small, individuals have normally made their mind up to “listen or not ” within the first 6.5 seconds.

That’s why introductions are so important.

Four Ways to Capture your Listeners Ears

1. Use an illustration – At a speakers convention recently I noted 50% of them used this technique with illustrations from Radio Telescopes to The Dance of Honey Bees. To be effective it needs to be short, relevant to your theme and understood by the audience.

2. Tell a story – We all love stories. That’s how history was passed on (and embellished) at one time. Some comedians use this technique to great effect (Ronnie Corbet was a master at it). But again the story needs to be short and relevant to the theme of the talk.

3. Questions – There is no better way to engage an audience than by a question that will involve them. It must be open (ie require more than a Yes or No) , stimulating and lead the listener into the main body of the presentation.

4. Quotations – Beware, these need to be very short, pithy, easily understood and by a well-known “authority”. If not you will lose your audience from the very first sentence you speak.

 Examples to follow next time.