You’ve 3 gifts for your audience. How much should you give them? That depends…

3 wrapped giftsYou might’ve heard presentation coaches say your talk should make your audience think, feel, or do something different. And I think they’re right – to a degree.

By the way, thinking, feeling or doing something different aren’t exactly what I meant as the gifts mentioned in this post’s title. More on that shortly.

Why do I add that proviso – “to a degree”? Well, there’s no point making your audience just think or feel something – unless they act on it too.

For instance, let’s look at an extreme example to illustrate my point:
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How to nail your talk in the first 30 secs, by @KindraMHall [Video]

What is it about public speaking that you’d be most likely to search for on the internet? You might be surprised which of my posts gets the most search traffic

The most popular post on this blog – by far – is the one on awesome opening lines. And almost 60 people have commented on it, too. So it’s definitely a hot topic for public speakers.

But if you go looking for an opening line for your talk, I think you’re taking the wrong approach.

Why do I say that? Well, the combination of your audience and your topic are unique. So, if you search the internet for an opening line, you’re very unlikely to find a good fit for your specific talk.

What should you do, then? You’ll find one great answer in this 3-minute video by Kindra Hall.

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

(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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Makeover (part 2) of a slide makeover – fewer photos please

Have 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

(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

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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Speaking on a panel? 3 tips from @DeckerBen [Video]

If you’re invited to speak on a panel, you’ll want to make the most of your preparation (and your time on stage). So to help you prepare, and then take part effectively, here’s a handy 2-minute video.

In it, you’ll find 3 tips from Ben Decker, CEO of Decker Communications. And below the video, you’ll find many ideas and links to expand on Ben’s tips:

Ben starts with a neat point about the context of panel discussions:

“It can be such a great honour
to be invited to be a part of a panel.

People want to hear
your… expertise
– your opinions
…”
Ben Decker

So, especially if you’re nervous, keep in mind that people value your insights.

Ben then shares his action-based tips for speaking on a panel:

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Write your speech like Hemingway. Here’s how – and why.

What skills could you transfer to your public speaking, from other disciplines?

For instance, in my work as a learning designer, I’ve been heavily influenced by experts like Cathy Moore. While her advice is aimed at designers of e-learning, you might be surprised how much of it could also apply to your next talk or presentation.

Like to see an example? Try Cathy’s post called How to get everyone to write like Ernest Hemingway. (It’s under 800 words, so it’s only about a 3-minute read.)

 

What’s that for?

You could use that post to help with your speechwriting (or with writing slides or speaker notes). That’s because it shows how you can take these 2 steps:

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Why use diagrams on your slides, not bullets? [Video]

How much do you (or your colleagues) use bullet points on your slides?

Want to change that?

If so, I’ve a great resource for you. It’s a fascinating video by a design agency called M62 Vincis, showing how you can use very simple diagrams in place of bullet points.

Below, check out the 8-minute video, presented by their CEO, Nicci Take (formerly known as Nicholas Oulton).

It shows an example of how to transform a typical bullet-based slide into a simple diagram. And as Nicci shows, diagrams are far more engaging, memorable and effective than bullet points:
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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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