I was talking with a client the other day who was interested, and a bit nervous, about starting to do webinars. He asked me if I had any tips on presenting great webinars. I simply said, “Sit at the edge of your seat.” He thought I was joking and replied, “That is your big tip on presenting webinars, to ‘sit at the edge of my seat’?” If you’ve read my blog posts about giving webinars or downloaded my guide about presenting webinars, you may have heard this tip about how to sit before. Since he was so dumbfounded by it, I thought I’d share my explanation to him why sitting at the edge of your seat is so important for webinars. Your Body Langauge Adds Excitement – Even if your audience can’t see you sitting at the edge of your seat, they can hear it. Much like the old adage that
It is ironic that you can give a more powerful presentation without a PowerPoint since the word “power” is in the program’s name. Previously, I’ve discussed whether you even need a visual aid. Last week when I was working with a client to prepare his team for an upcoming bid presentation, we had a good discussion to determine if they need to create a PowerPoint. Until the 1987, PowerPoint didn’t exist and the idea of a visual aid meant using a poster or prop. Think about the great presentations of modern times – Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream”, John F. Kennedy’s “What Can I Do For My Country”, and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and every State of the Union all had one thing in common – powerfully delivered presentations without the use of a visual aid. So why do 90% of business presentations today include a PowerPoint? [My estimation,
Using Crutch Words – here is what you need to know. Using crutch words do not add any value to a presentation They have been around since the beginning of spoken language They fill the gaps so a speaker doesn’t stop speaking so he/she is not interrupted Any word can become a crutch word (and, so, uh, & um) are common ones Generally, crutch words are heaviest when the speaker is unprepared Every language has crutch words, including sign language I have done plenty of research on the topic of using crutch words and there are ample articles and coaches giving advice about stopping the madness when it comes to crutch words (and hand gestures). I have formulated and given my own advice about how to get rid of crutch words but a light bulb went off in my head this past week. As my youngest daughter lay asleep next
I regularly speak encourage presenters to be “audience-centric”, meaning focusing the goals of the presentation on the audience, align the message of the speech to the audience’s goals, and engaging your audience. Contrary to what most speakers think, presentations aren’t about the speaker, even for bid presentation. One of the best ways to be audience-centric is to know your audience’s learning style. When thinking about learning styles, most people automatically think about school-aged children and how to prepare lesson plans accommodating the combination of different learning styles that a teacher would find in the classroom. However, what happens when those children grow up; do those learning styles just disappear and no longer affect adults? Nope! We need to stop only considering learning styles for children, and it is high time that we begin taking the learning styles of adults into consideration. Adjusting the way you present to accommodate your audience’s learning
Although public speaking shares some characteristics with acting, the two are not the same. Let’s start with the similarities between public speaking and acting: a stage (and stage fright), maybe a microphone or voice projection, eye contact, potentially props, and definitely an audience (however, the audience is there for different reasons). Your days in drama club don’t go to waste if you’re practicing to become a good speaker, but you can’t rest on your laurels if your background exclusively involves the theater because public speaking is not acting. 7 Reasons Why Public Speaking is Not Acting No Director & No Stage Cues – One of the biggest differences is that most speakers are self-directed and do not have someone telling them what to do and where to stand. Even if you’re using a presentation coach like myself, my role is to guide you through preparing for your presentation, not do your
Occasionally I get calls from prospective clients that want to give me a loose idea of what they’re thinking about for a presentation along with a few vague parameters, and they want me to send them a completed PowerPoint slide deck and accompanying script in a few days. I inform them that I don’t write presentations for other speakers, but I will guide them and educate them through the entire presentation preparation process, and here is why. 10 Reasons Why I Don’t Write Presentations for My Clients I’m Not the Subject Matter Expert – Yes, I can interview someone and ghostwrite a presentation, but it is best for the expert to share their own thoughts in the presentation because that is what the audience wants and needs. The expert’s viewpoint and expertise is why audiences attend a presentation, not to hear someone recite something; they can read what someone else wrote.
A client emailed me about one point I wrote in my blog two weeks ago, How to Do Impromptu Presentations Well, asking for more insight. In that blog, I wrote “If you realize that you misspoke about something, take a pause, and correct yourself. Since the presentation is the spur of the moment, no one is expecting anything rehearsed or perfect.” He asked me what to do if you misspoke and the presentation was planned and rehearsed. So I this is what I told him to do if he misspoke ever misspoke during one of his bid presentations. First off, you’re human and making a mistake shows your audience that you’re real and vulnerable. That isn’t something you want to fake, but you don’t need to hide the fact that you’re fallible. Be you, be authentic, and be honest with your audience. If you misspoke during a presentation, try one of these… Correct Yourself
Ever sit in the audience, on the edge of your seat, totally engaged with a speaker? You probably feel that the speaker is talking directly to you, even though you’re in a room with hundreds of other people. The difference between an amateur speaker and an amazing, memorizing presenter is eye contact. Eye contact isn’t hard to master; if you know what aspects of eye contact to refine. Keep in mind that your audience can tell when you’re staring off at the back of the room or staring at their foreheads. The best part about eye contact is that it calms your nerves because you’re no longer speaking to a sea of people. When you make eye contact with your audience, you see them as individuals. Also, when you look at one person, the entire group of people around that person you are locking eyes with thinks you’re looking at
When it comes to presentations, I always preach preparation, but sometimes you can’t prepare. At times, you are put on the spot and you have little to no warning like at a business meeting or the Q&A part of a bid presentation. (Yes, you can brainstorm a list of potential questions a prospective client may ask during a bid presentation. However, you’ll never have a complete list. Good preparation tactic, though!) For the times when you need to do more than answer the question, you need to “own the room” and make an impromptu presentation, how do you do it well? How to Do Impromptu Presentations Well Breathe – Take a deep breath and tell yourself that you can do this well. Great presenters are confident. Self-doubt is “head trash” and doesn’t help you at all. Repeat the Question – The first thing you should do is summarize the request.
I regularly write about presentation best practices, especially when it comes to preparing your presentation. Occasionally I’m asked about the worst tips or advice I’ve heard; this sometimes gets comical like the suggestion to bite your tongue before you go on stage to relieve anxiety. (Seriously, someone told me that one and I fear it will only hurt. Instead, try clenching your first to burn off some of those endorphins your nervous send out to your body.) Usually, these bad tips fall into misconstrued myths and are not really poor advice (let’s hope that is the case). However, I have seen a lot of bad presentations, and usually, it stems from poor preparation, so I thought I’d share the worst ways to prepare for a presentation. 3 Absolute Worst Ways to Prepare for a Presentation Start By “Bulleting Out” a Presentation in PowerPoint – No, I don’t hate PowerPoint (I do