Abandon your agenda! (3 options that beat “Tell them what you’re going to tell them…” when you present)

Does this age-old advice about presenting sound familiar?

  1. Tell people what you’re going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.

You’ve probably heard that advice before (and you might well follow it, too). It basically says:

“Start your presentation with an agenda,
and end with a summary slide” [Doubtful advice]

I’ve used that format myself many times. But the more I thought and read about it, the more I realised it tends to bore listeners, for 4 reasons:
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Secret #8 of star presenters: Christopher Witt on “What’s in it for me?”

Little girl covering her earsWhen you’re preparing a speech or presentation, do you ask yourself specific questions to help you build your talk?

For instance, you might ask yourself:

“What do I want my audience to do as a result of my talk?”

Questions like that one – being based on your audience – are much more helpful than focusing on your topic itself. They help you frame your content from your listeners’ viewpoint. So when you give your talk, people are far more likely to:

  • Listen to what you say in the first place.
  • Make the effort to properly consider it.
  • Accept it.

One of the best sets of speech-planning questions I’ve ever seen was shared by speaking-coach Christopher Witt. It consists of just 4 questions, the 1st being what you want your audience to do, and the last being:

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Start strong – 3 gripping ways to open your talk (Includes example opening lines)

RunnerOf the countless presentations you’ve likely heard, how many have really made you listen? Often, they can sound and look a lot like all the rest. That’s why, if you’re like me, they tend to leave you cold.

So when you present, you risk seeming just like all the other presenters. In which case, people can start to tune out – fast! That is, unless you start strong.

What’s the best way to start strong? Involve people emotionally! To do that, mention their hopes or fears surrounding your topic – while still being professional of course. That engages your audience because they’re drawn in at a gut level. And, it’s so different from the norm!

I recommend 3 neat ways you can start strong when you present. Choose any 1 of them to open your talk:
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Engage people – give a personal talk [How not to kill your audience …Part 2]

Fingerprint ca. 2000

In part 1 – Use the PACE approach – I showed how you can start to engage an audience before you even speak. To do that, you can make your talk’s title meet these 4 criteria, so it’s:

  • P   Personal
  • A   Actionable
  • C   Conversational
  • E   Emotional

In this post, you’ll see how to keep your audience engaged by making your talk personal – throughout.

By “making your talk personal”, I mean using your content to connect with each person in your audience. As people are generally most interested in themselves, one of the best ways you can connect with your audience is to show clearly that you’re focused on them. After you do that, another great way to connect with and therefore engage people is to use genuine emotion.

So, how can you do those things to make your whole talk personal? Well for a start, try these 4 tips, which are arranged roughly from most to least audience-centred:
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Best blogs for presenters & public speakers – 2016 edition

To find public-speaking wisdom, do you go to specific blogs? I certainly do. In fact, about 3 years ago, I even published a list of 6 of the world’s best.

But a lot’s changed in 3 years, and some of the blogs on my original list have gone belly up. (In fact, you can still access most of the dead ones, but they don’t publish anything new.)

So I thought you might appreciate a fresh list.

Mind you, given that I’ve also listed 10 extinct public-speaking blogs, it’s not easy to find contenders.
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Nail your point – Speak in threes. Speak in threes. Speak in threes.

Here’s one of the most powerful techniques you can use in your talks:

Speak in threes.
Speak in threes.
Speak in threes.

In fact it’s so effective, I urge you to reserve its full power for your main point. (Otherwise, you risk people remembering the wrong part of your message!)

If you’re not sure what I mean by “speak in threes”, here are 2 examples of catchy phrases that use this technique, which you’ve probably heard many times:

“Location, location, location”

“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”

In both cases, notice that they’re phrases containing just 2 or 3 syllables but which are repeated 3 times in a row.

Let’s look at a real-life example…

Shortly, I’ll show you exactly why phrases like that are so memorable and repeatable – or in other words, why they’re so viral. But first, let’s look at a real-life example of how you might speak in threes

Imagine you’re the captain of a cruise ship with about 4000 people onboard, and almost 200 of your passengers and crew catch gastroenteritis. In your daily loudspeaker announcements to the whole ship, how might you speak in threes to promote hygiene and help contain the outbreak?
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Starting your talk with a startling statistic – 3 examples [Video]

You’ve likely heard it said that opening your talk with a startling statistic helps you grab people’s attention. But what exactly does that technique look and sound like?

In this post, you’ll see 3 clear examples on video, and I’ll discuss key takeaways from each. So you’ll come away with solid tips you can use in your own talks.

Ultimately, I hope these examples inspire you to use some startling statistics yourself.

Here’s what you’ll find in this post – you can click any of these links to skip ahead:
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How to rock at webinars – 9 concrete tips to keep people engaged

Microphone clinched firmly in male fist on a black background.Think back: How many of the webinars you’ve attended were worth your time?

Sadly, I find they’re often time- wasters, and I’m sure many people agree. (If you have a strong opinion either way, please say so.)

So, to stand out from your competition, here are 9 tips to help you rock at webinars! (Each tip’s marked as being easy, medium, or hard, so you can choose the ones that suit your current skills.)
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How not to kill your audience’s engagement stone dead [Part 1: Use the PACE approach]

Do you think you’d have bothered reading this post if I’d called it this instead:

“Audience engagement and contemporary presentation materials”

Not likely!

This post’s title deliberately uses 4 “keys” to engage you (in just the first 9 words). For a moment, look at the post’s title again. Can you guess what the 4 keys might be? (You probably guessed that their initials make up the acronym PACE.) Well, read on to see how many of the keys you spotted!

(And, for a very pleasant change from so many posts about presenting, this post has nothing to do with bullet points – despite the bullets in the photo above!)
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What’s the best font for your PowerPoint slides? (A cautionary tale!) [Video]

danger thin ice - warning sign by a lakeDo you ever wonder which is the best font to use on your slides? If so, I’ve a simple answer for you:

Pick a font your
audience won’t notice.

(That is, unless you happen to be presenting to “arty types” – like graphic designers. In that case, pick a font your audience approves of. More on that shortly.)
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