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 make your whole talk personal – to keep people engaged.

By that 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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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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Simple, realistic backgrounds for cutout photos in Storyline or PowerPoint – [Video]

If you use Articulate Storyline, you may well have used photographic characters, which let you insert a headshot or other cut-out photo of a person:
Articulate Storyline character

Even if you use PowerPoint, you might’ve inserted a very similar portrait photo with no background, as they’re available from many suppliers (like Elearning Art, Elearning Brothers, and Articulate Global itself).

This 2½-minute video shows you a quick, built-in way to give a photo like that a realistic background, so it looks like it was taken in an office.

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Need to present a 1-hour slideshow in 30 mins? DON’T speed up! Do this instead…

Alarm ClockEver had to give your presentation in a much shorter timeslot than you’d planned? You know – like when one or more of the speakers before you at a conference or workshop runs over time, and the organisers want to start getting things back on track.

Recently, Rob Beisenbach wrote a great post about that, which inspired me to tell you about a rarely-used PowerPoint feature that can help you out in situations like that.
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200,000 views – and counting!

I owe you and other readers here a huge

THANK YOU!

Thank you for your part in taking this blog to over 200,000 page views, which happened just now.

When I started Remote Possibilities in November 2011, I never dreamed it’d clock up that many views over time. It’s also amazing to me that I’ve been blogging for 3½ years now.

After all, over those same years, it’s sobering to realise how many great public-speaking blogs have ground to a halt, like these 10:
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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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