Take your talk beyond “pretty slides” – Secret #14 of star presenters, by Laura Foley

Box of 35-millimetre slides saying “Quality color slides”(Short of time? Jump to the tips)

How do you create your slide presentations? Allow me a few sentences to guess

If you’re like most speakers, you probably start in PowerPoint, where (to share your message, and to remind you what to say) it’s quite likely you write dozens of words on each slide. Then, to make your slides look more appealing, you might well “pretty them up” with graphics, a slide template, or even fancy fonts. And, to save time, you probably reuse whatever slides you can from previous talks.

If those steps sound familiar, you’ve likely found it hard to really engage your listeners. So you probably haven’t got the outcome you wanted from each talk.

Wordy slides make for a dull talk

That’s for a couple of reasons:

But, fear not. You can avoid those problems by using a different approach, as described by Laura Foley (presentation coach and blogger).

Laura says:
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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 speak on a topic. Speak for an outcome – Secret #12 of star presenters [Video]

When you present, are you at risk of focusing too much on your topic?

Usually, you’re chosen as the speaker (or as a subject-matter expert for a training project) because you’ve deep knowledge of your subject. But sadly, that means it’s all too easy for your audience to become overwhelmed or confused by the detailed knowledge you might try to present.

You and your audience see your topic differently

And even if your audience are as expert as you, they won’t have exactly the same background and perspective. So again, that makes it easy to lose them, because they see your topic differently from you.

What can you do then, to help bridge that gap between your listeners’ viewpoints and your own?
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When’s it OK to speak fast? Secret #11 of star presenters, by Jean-Luc Doumont

When you give a presentation or speech, have you ever wondered if you might be speaking too fast? That’s certainly a very common issue. So, statistically, it’s quite likely that sometimes you do talk too quickly when you speak in public.

Why’s speaking quickly a problem? There are 2 reasons:

  • It can make your message harder for people to absorb.
  • It tends to make you sound nervous, which causes people to subconsciously wonder why you feel that way. In turn, that makes them less willing to trust you and your message.

I heard a slightly contrary view about speaking fast

So when I heard a slightly contrary view about speaking fast, I found the new viewpoint refreshing and thought-provoking.

It came from Jean-Luc Doumont, a speaker-coach to academics and scientists, who just this week finished his 1st ever series of lectures in Australia.

Here’s what he said:
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Care less about feedback – Secret #10 of star presenters, by @JoshShipp [Video]

How much do you take notice of audience feedback? Positive feedback feels great, but on the other hand, negative feedback can sting!

In this 1-minute video, professional speaker Josh Shipp shares some neat advice on how to shape your attitude to feedback:

I loved several things about Josh’s video – especially the quotes below:
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Create your last slide first – Secret #9 of star presenters, by Jim Endicott [Video]

When you build a deck of presentation slides, how do you keep on track? If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve sometimes felt pressure (from yourself or some-one else) to include more and more content.

You know, like:

  • Background on your topic, even though most of your audience doesn’t care (or already knows it)
  • Existing slides on your topic, but which were made for a different purpose

Here’s one great tip that’ll help you resist pressures like those, and it comes in just a
20-second video clip from experienced speaking-coach Jim Endicott:

As Jim suggests:
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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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Best blogs for presenters & public speakers – 2016 edition

To find public-speaking wisdom, do you go to specific blogs? I certainly do. In fact, 3 years ago, I 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 those, 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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Secret #7 of star presenters: @JonAcuff on how to instantly be a better speaker

Woman's EyeIf you’re like me, you won’t believe that anyone can be a better public speaker instantly. It takes repeated practice – often for years!

At least, I used to think that. But then I read a short post by Jon Acuff, and I saw that it is possible – in one sense – to be instantly better at speaking.

The instant that Jon’s talking about is the moment when you say your opening line. As he notes in this pithy quote:

“The beginning seals the deal
or ruins everything”

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Secret #6 of star presenters: 3 great benefits of pausing (by Keith Bailey of @DeckerComm)

pauseRight now, why not take a moment to vividly imagine achieving these 3 outcomes whenever you present?

  • Feeling relaxed.
  • Influencing people more.
  • Delighting your audience.

Those 3 are the Holy Grail of public speaking! No doubt you’d be glad to achieve any 1 of them, so to get all 3 would be bliss.

Well according to Keith Bailey of Decker Communications, you can achieve all 3 of those outcomes simply by pausing effectively.

In fact, in a quote of just 15 words, Keith encapsulates not only those 3 outcomes but also how simply (though not easily) you can achieve them:
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