What good and bad habits have you seen speakers use? Adopting the good habits – and avoiding the bad – can be a quick way to learn and improve.
In the video near the bottom of this post, author and professional public speaker Michael Port outlines 25 mistakes that presenters often make (no matter how experienced they are). And in the table below, I’ve summarised his points, as well as adding links to related posts.
(Maybe you’ve heard of Michael’s best-selling books on speaking, like Steal the Show and Book Yourself Solid. He’s a former actor who’s been in such well-known TV shows and films as Sex and the City, Law and Order, and The Pelican Brief.)
See if any of the 25 mistakes surprise you… You can also click a time in the table to start watching the related tip straight away (on YouTube):
You might’ve heard some people (especially members of Toastmasters) say not to thank your audience at the end of your talk.
But you’re less likely to have heard any reason for that advice. So in this post, you’ll find these 4 topics to address that issue, and to help you with your speaking:
If you use weak words, you weaken your message. So to make what you say more vivid and compelling, you should rarely use words like “very” or “really”.
For instance, instead of saying “very good” or “very bad”, you could use stronger adjectives – like “superb” or “awful”.
That’s what well-known public-speaking blogger John Zimmer wrote recently, and I agree.
In fact John shared a handy list of almost 150 words you could use when you’re tempted to say “very…”. (The list was originally compiled by Jennifer Frost.)
Does that mean you should never say “very…”? No, it doesn’t. As John says:
“[Very] has its place when used sparingly”
To my mind, that’s because sometimes when you avoid “very”, you might cause 1 or more of these 4 problems, where you choose a stronger word that:
When you prepare for an online session, do you wonder:
- How long should your introduction be, and what should it focus on?
- How much content should you show on each slide?
- Is it OK to use animations, and if so, what sort should you use – and when?
In this post, you’ll find answers to those questions, and more. It’s part 2 of a review of Ellen Finkelstein’s post called:
9 tips to design presentations for webinars
(Be sure to also check out part 1 for my review of Ellen’s tips 1 to 4.)
In this post, we’ll look at the last 5 of Ellen’s 9 webinar tips, which I’d summarise like this:
Do you ever present online – at work or for yourself? If so (or if you’re about to for the 1st time), you’ll find superb tips on Ellen Finkelstein’s blog.
Ellen’s a PowerPoint MVP who presents and hosts lots of webinars, including the annual Outstanding Presentations Workshop.
Below, you’ll find part 1 of a review of Ellen’s post called:
9 tips to design presentations for webinars
In part 1, we’ll look at the first 4 of the 9 tips (plus a few of my own), which – among other things – deal with using your webcam, and interacting through polls or other means.
(Be sure to also check out part 2 for my review of Ellen’s tips 5 to 9.)
I’d summarise the first 4 tips like this:
Consider this for a moment:
Have you ever stood in front of an audience and felt so nervous that you couldn’t remember what you wanted to say?
I’m sure you’ve been nervous about speaking in public
Even if you’ve never felt exactly that way, I’m sure you’ve been nervous about speaking in public. (I have, for sure!)
Because so many people can relate to that question, and it’s emotionally charged, it’d make a great opening line for a talk on public speaking.
In fact, it is the opening line for the 3½-minute Toastmasters video below. At least, you could say it’s the opening line – or you might argue it’s not.
More on that shortly. But 1st, why not watch the video and make up your own mind?
Here’s a tip you might like, because it’s used by elite professional speakers. Three points about the tip are that it’s:
- Yet surprisingly effective!
Let me show you how it works…
In your talk, suppose you’re discussing the passage of time, or the steps in a process, or items in a list. At times like those, you might often gesture with a sideways movement of one or both arms (or hands, or with your whole body – depending on factors like the size of the room, how much emphasis you want to add, and so on).
If you don’t think about what you’re doing – and you don’t practise on video beforehand – you’ll likely gesture from your left to right, because that’s what feels natural to you.
Take a look at this 5-second example to see what that type of gesture looks like:
Note: If you’d like to replay the clip, please use this link to open it on another tab, because when embedded in a blog post, YouTube doesn’t support replaying a clip from the same point. (Or, you can press F5 to refresh the page, and then click the video below again.)
Do you use a slide that introduces you as a speaker? (That is, with your name, contact details such as your company logo or Twitter handle, and often your photo on it.)
There are certainly good reasons to use that sort of slide:
- When you’re presenting online, if people can’t see you, having a slide with your photo on it helps people engage with you and your message.
- Even in a big in-person venue (with no video feed showing your face), putting your photo on a slide not only helps people engage, it also helps them approach you after you’ve left the stage.
I’m betting that if you do use that sort of slide, it looks a bit like the typical example below. (If it looks quite different, I’d love to hear from you in the comment box below or via @RemotePoss on Twitter.)
If your speaker slide does look like that, this post and a later one will help you make it look far better:
- In this post, you’ll see the changes that could make your slide look much more professionally designed, so you leave the best impression on your audience.
- In a later post, you’ll find video tips that step you through making those improvements in PowerPoint.
You might be thinking:
“What’s so awful about that slide?”
And if you are, you’re right – it’s not so bad. Yet it could be a lot better.
Let me show you what I mean, and then you be the judge. (Or, try out some of the tips in this post, and then let your audiences’ feedback be the judge!)
You’ll find the following topics covered in this post:
Short of time? Skip to the critique itself
Have you seen Allan Pease’s great TEDx talk? It’s called:
“Body language – the power is in the palm of your hands.”
I found it enthralling for 2 reasons:
- The topic’s fascinating: How you routinely use your hands has strong yet subconscious effects on your dealings with other people, and even on your own feelings.
- Allan delivered the talk in a highly engaging way, with passion, humour, and audience involvement too.
You’ll find specific tips on how you can avoid some of its weaker aspects
In this post, you’ll find some of the talk’s best points picked out, plus specific tips on how you can avoid some of its weaker aspects in your own talks. In particular, parts of the talk’s opening and closing could have been stronger, so that’s where I’ll focus.
You might like to watch the 15-minute talk here. Or, later in the post, you can click the links to watch key parts of it.