Want an awesome opening line? Look no more – I mean stop!

Red door with lettering on it saying “In pursuit of magic”Of the 140+ posts on this blog, here’s by far the most popular

Awesome opening lines: 20+ more examples for your speeches, from Patricia Fripp (Certified Speaking Professional)

At its peak, that post had more than 22,000 monthly views (in October 2016). That wasn’t just an outlier, either – for 3 months in 2016, the post had more than 20,000 monthly views. And for 11 months that year, it had over 10,000.

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Avoid my mistakes in your Ignite talk – part 2 [Video]

Ignite Sydney logoIf you’ve read my last post, you’ll know I was inspired by Aaron Beverly (World Champion of Public Speaking 2019) to write a self-critique of one of my talks.

In today’s post, I discuss what are (to me) the strongest aspects and weakest aspects of my talk.

Why not watch my 5-minute presentation below, and judge for yourself?

Then, feel free to share your viewpoint in the comment box at the bottom of this post.

Here’s what you’ll find in the rest of this post – you can click any of these links to skip ahead:
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Avoid my mistakes in your Ignite talk – part 1 [Video]

Short of time? Skip the intro

Ignite Sydney logoIf you’re thinking of speaking at an Ignite night, this post can help you avoid the mistakes I made in my own Ignite talk.

And even if you give some other kind of speech, the tips you’ll find in this post (like about humour, gestures and opening lines) should still help.

In this post and my next, you’ll find a critique of various aspects of my talk on this 3-point scale:
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Don’t speak like you’re stuck in the 90s – do this instead [Video]

Old Nokia phoneHave you ever heard a presenter say something that stood out – but for all the wrong reasons?

Several times recently, I’ve heard public speakers (in webinars or on video) say something that met that description.

I wonder how you would’ve reacted if you’d heard those speakers.

To me, it made them sound dated, and out of touch with how audiences speak. (Gaffs like that damage the speaker – and their message.)

Yet all the speakers did was say 3 letters and the word “dot”. (In fact, one letter 3 times in a row.)

You’ve probably guessed what they said:

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Declutter your talk’s title! [A makeover with @LMFDesign]

Long-stemmed rose with scissors cutting the stem in halfWhich of the many aspects of giving a presentation are you best at?

I’d say I’m best at writing a strong message, and that means I often focus on a talk’s words. So when presentation blogger Laura Foley posted her neat makeover of a title slide, I thought hard about the text on that slide.

In this post, we’ll look at:
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Makeover (part 2) of a slide makeover – fewer photos please

Woman's face covered in paint of various primary coloursHave you seen my previous post? Here’s just a few sentences as a really quick recap:

“Do you find slide makeovers helpful?
I love them!

…they’re a form of ‘working out loud’ that
I find really useful”

That post’s the 1st part of the makeover shown below, and it explains changes I made to slides 1-2 from a presentation by Diane Windingland.

In this post, you’ll find details of the changes I made to slides 3-5 (of 5) from Diane’s deck:
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Makeover (part 1) of a slide makeover – fewer photos please

Woman's face covered in paint of various primary colours(Short of time? Skip ahead to the Contents)

Do you find slide makeovers helpful? I love them!

That’s because they show – in concrete terms – how you could improve specific slide layouts and formatting. And they even give you insight into the thought process of the designer who did the makeover. So they’re a form of “working out loud” that I find really useful.

Last month, presentation coach Diane Windingland published a slide makeover by a company called PunchSlide Design. The makeover included 7 slides from a presentation of
Diane’s, and she posted a before-and-after comparison of each one.

Of the 7 slides, 6 of them had photos added during the makeover. To me, that seemed a very high proportion, which led me to leave a comment on Diane’s blog:

“…using too many photos (or too many of any type of
slide) can be about as boring as over-using bullet points”

I felt strongly that I could do a better makeover!

Still, I found the makeover inspiring – partly because Diane’s slides were a great foundation to build on. And partly because, frankly, I felt strongly that I could do a better makeover!

So in today’s post, you’ll find my own makeover of 5 of Diane’s slides. Then, in this post and my next, I’ll share with you my thinking behind each slide’s redesign.

If you want to jump to a specific topic in this post, you can click any of these links:
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Quick! Make your talk’s key message sticky

Smiling man with slip of paper stuck to his forehead saying “Be happy :)”What was your latest talk’s key message? See if you can jot it down.

Then, check out the tips below, which could improve it

You might ask, “What is a key message?” Well, according to expert presentation coach Olivia Mitchell:

“A key message is
the number one thing
you want your audience
to remember or do”
~ Olivia Mitchell

Sadly, most talks don’t even have a key message

Sadly, most talks don’t even have a key message. So, that tends to leave the audience wondering what the point was. (And why they even bothered coming!)
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Make your slide explain “So what?” – Secret #13 of star presenters, by Jean-Luc Doumont [Video]

Check out this 1-minute video clip (from a 1-hour talk) by Jean-Luc Doumont. In the clip, the speaker critiques a shot of a sample slide (which is the white area on his own grey slide).

As you’ll see, the sample slide contains just its title and a simple chart:

Did you see how the sample slide’s title makes a classic (and very common) mistake? Namely, it simply “parrots” what’s on the slide, saying:

Evolution of the number of candidates 1989-2012

And sure enough, the chart on the slide offers no surprises: It’s a line graph labelled “Number of candidates” – with an x-axis from 1989 to 2012.

As the slide offers no surprises, and no insights, it’s of no interest to the audience. So, they’ll be turned off by it, and they’ll tune out.

Don’t make that mistake with your slides!

Don’t make that mistake with your slides!

As Jean-Luc pointedly asks:

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Don’t blame bullet points for bad presentations – too much of anything’s to blame

Close-up of angry man pointing at the viewer and shoutingAs I’m sure you know from bitter experience, poor presentations are very common. In fact, I’d say poor presentations are the norm, which means:

What a huge knock-on effect from presenters not getting their message across well!

Now, you’ve likely noticed that poor presentations almost always have lots of bullet points. So you might naturally assume that to be an effective presenter, you should ban all bullets from your slides.

But if you think that, I’m here to tell you: You’re wrong.

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