What’s the best webinar polling question ever? Maybe this…

Woman on ComputerIn a webinar, what’s the best poll question you’ve ever heard? I just thought of a doozy, I reckon, yet I’ve never heard a presenter ask it. (It’s only “6½” words long, too!)

More on that shortly. But first, why not think for a moment about what might make a good poll question?
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Secret #4 of star presenters: Scott @Berkun on “slide slavery” (with @NancyDuarte and Garr Reynolds)

enslaved presenter

When you’re preparing for a presentation, what’s your first impulse?

If you’re like most people, you’ll begin preparing for a talk by opening PowerPoint (or Keynote, or whatever’s your preferred slide tool) and building slides. But this brief post is here to plead with you to do something different

My plea is that you heed author Scott Berkun’s warning when he says:

“If you make slides first, you become a slide slave.
You will spend all your time perfecting your slides,
instead of perfecting your thoughts.”

To help you with a better approach, in this post you’ll also find 3 specific questions that Scott recommends you ask when you begin preparing your talk. (And you’ll see what expert presenters Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds have to say on the subject, too.)
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Black is back, but better – 3+ new ways to hide your slide while you speak

key B++Imagine you’re presenting, and you’re just about to go to your next slide. Right then, someone in your audience asks a great question about your topic.

The thing is, suppose the question’s only loosely related to what’s on any of your slides, but you’re happy to discuss it because everyone seems interested, and you have time. All the same, you’re left with this glaring issue:

What do you do with your current slide?

Leaving it on your screen amounts to “blur” (that is, a distraction from the discussion), so that’s not a good option.

You may be thinking:

“A-ha! I know about the obscure feature
that lets me black out my PowerPoint slide!”

Well in this post, as well as the standard solution that PowerPoint (and Keynote) provides, you’ll find at least 2 completely new and better ways to hide your current slide.
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Picture your talk as a shape… Now, what shape do you see?

Imagine sketching your talk as a simple shape on a piece of paper.
What would you draw?

If yours is like most talks, you can think of it as an arrow, pointing between your introduction and your conclusion:
speech geometry - arrow annotated

That’s what blogger John Zimmer wrote in this great post.

Certainly, the arrow metaphor fits well with the description you sometimes hear of speeches as “taking your audience from point A to point B”. (Presentation experts like Jerry Weissman often use that phrase.)

Is there a better shape?

But John Zimmer goes on to suggest a better shape for your talk
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Quiz: How many words should you put on your slide, and WHY?

How many words (at most) should you put on a slide? It’s a common (and reasonable) question. But depending on who you ask, the answer you get can vary hugely.

Here are 4 typical answers:

  1. As many words as you want
  2. Up to 36 words (6×6 words)
  3. Around 15 words
  4. At most 6 words (as Seth Godin suggests, which I wrote about last month)

Before you read on, what do you think is the best answer – and why?
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Secret #3 of star presenters: @NakedPresenting on preparing

Woman's FeetAsk yourself, honestly: How long will you spend preparing your next presentation? It can be a long process of course. Yet, it’s likely you’ll often get distracted by your other work and not get to spend the time your talk needs. Or your slides may become so vital to your talk – or so detailed – that you spend nearly all your available prep time grooming them.

So with that in mind, consider this quote from Emma Sutton (@NakedPresenting on Twitter), who’s a presentation coach and blogger in the UK: Continue reading

Do you make this #1 mistake when you present online?

no polls!What’s your most precious resource? Think about it for a second.

Don’t spend long though, because I’d say:

The answer’s your time!

It’s precious because it’s a finite resource for which competition is fiercer than ever.

No prizes, then, for guessing what your audience’s most precious resource is. Yup, they’re time-hungry too, just like you and me.

So what’s the number-1 mistake presenters make, especially online? Continue reading

When you speak, how often and how long should you pause? Best answer: “Try 1-2-3”

pause when presenting 1-2-3You might have heard public-speaking experts recommend pausing when you’re presenting. But how often – and for how long – should you pause during your talk? Continue reading

Secret #2 of star presenters: @ConnieDieken on confidence [Video]

When you speak in public, do you speak boldly? Or do you show signs of being nervous? According to Connie Dieken, former news anchor and author of Talk Less, Say More, speaking boldly is one of 3 ways you can avoid stumbling for words.

In her 4-minute video below, she says:

“Either deliver [your talk] boldly or stay home”

If you’d like to see Connie’s quote in context, you can either skip to the relevant part (3’07”) of her video on YouTube, or watch some or all of the 4-minute clip right here:


Connie’s quote really struck a chord

Connie’s quote really struck a chord with me personally, because after my most recent speech at Toastmasters, the evaluator had encouraged me to speak more boldly, for more impact.

Reducing nerves and building confidence as a speaker is one of the main reasons many people join Toastmasters – it was certainly my main reason. And because fear of public speaking is so common, it’s highly likely you want to be a more confident speaker, too.

What can you do, then, to build your confidence, shed some nervousness, and speak more boldly? For a start, try these 6 tips:
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How consistent should you make your slides? (I say “Go for cohesion instead”)

Glass SquaresHas anyone ever said you should make your slides more consistent? What was the issue, and how did you respond? (I’d love you to leave a comment with your own thoughts and experiences on consistency.)

Last week, speaking coach Susan Trivers wrote a short post called Avoid uniformity for the sake of uniformity. It resonated so much with me – and consistency is probably a hot topic for you too – so I hope you find both this post and Susan’s helpful.

Susan wrote:

“During a recent discussion …people were pushing for [several slides’] titles to read either Improvements or Innovations, even though what was being proposed [on the slides] were neither all of one or all of the other.”

Here’s my 1st thought on those slides: Continue reading