Saturday, September 13, 2014

SP Tip # 78: Four Ways to Transform Your Presentation into a Conversation

Four Ways to Transform your Presentation into a Conversation

Which feels more inviting to you - "Let's talk" or "I'm going to deliver a speech"?

Most of us don't want to hear another lecture or a pitch. But we are more inclined to participate in a conversation.

Deliver your presentation like a conversation and your audience will feel more engaged and less like prisoners. Hence they will trust you more and listen better. Therefore they are more likely to remember and act on your message.

What are the critical elements of a good conversation that you can use in your presentation?

Imagine that you are talking to one person. Use the word "you" which is both singular and plural. Use "you" more often than the word "I" so your message is about them not you.
Avoid these phrases: "Welcome everyone", "Does anybody have a question?" and "You guys". Those mob words distance you from the audience by placing a barrier between you and them. You wouldn't use those words when talking to one person. Talk to one person.

Eye contact
Look at a single person when you speak. Move your glance from one person to another so that you are almost always talking to a single individual. You might need to glance at your notes, but don't waste time staring at the back wall, the floor or your slides. Talk to people. That individual eye contact will make them feel like they are part of an intimate conversation.

A good conversation includes good questions. Ask good questions of your audience and listen to their answers. Don't annoy them by repeatedly asking them to raise their hands. Invite questions from the audience and address their concerns. Be sure to pose rhetorical questions for the concerns that they might have - then answer them. That feels conversational.

A good conversation contains moments of silence. Allow the audience to absorb your message in silence. That demonstrates respect and allows them to internalize your message. Sprinkle pauses throughout your presentation.

The best experience for people in your audience is when they felt "the speaker was talking directly to me".

Don't deliver a lecture - engage in a conversation with each individual in your audience.

George Torok
Call to arrange for me to speak at your conference, corporate event or sales meeting.  
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Steve Jobs handles an insult with grace

Steve Jobs handled this insult and tough question well. Notice the long pause to think and demonstrate that he takes the question seriously. It would have been ineffective to answer quickly with a glib response.

After he stated that the person was right, Jobs then talked about his approach that might be different from the standard.

Nicely done Steve

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Superior Presentations Tip #77: What’s the purpose of your presentation?

What’s the purpose of your presentation?

Presentations fail when the presenter doesn’t understand the real purpose.

Presenters have told me that their plan was to speak for 30 minutes, cover all the material or represent their company. Some confessed that their goal was to deliver their message, prove their point or receive a standing ovation. Executives and managers said that they needed to report the latest numbers, update the board or bring everyone up to date.

Each of those is a poor description of the presentation purpose. Why? Because those are speaker focused. And if you define success based on the speaker and not the audience the presentation will almost always fail.

You must define your presentation success in terms of the audience. The only valid reason to speak – especially in business – is to move your audience. Every presentation is a step in advancing the group.

Here is the critical question you must ask yourself before every presentation:

What do you want people to think, feel or do after your presentation?

Design, deliver and evaluate your presentation on the answer to that question.

The real purpose of speaking is to move people. If you moved them in the direction you intended your presentation was successful. The level of success is determined by how many moved and how far they moved.

If all you did was cover the material, the presentation was for you and not the audience. That makes it a failure.

Perhaps you want:

Front line staff to adopt a different approach with customers
Association members to volunteer for committees
Investors to contribute more funds
Shoppers to buy
Voters to support you

Be clear about your purpose and be able to state it clearly so everything you do contributes to your success.

The purpose of speaking is not to speak; it’s to move people.

Design, deliver and measure the success of your presentation based on what you want people to think, feel or do.


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Friday, May 30, 2014

Questions about questions in your presentation

NEXT Public Seminar June 24 in Burlington
Sign up now to take advantage of the early booking discount.

Read the program outline for more imformation

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

SP Tip 76: Transform Boring Into Exciting

Boring into exciting presentation 

How to transform boring material into an exciting presentation

My topic is boring so I can’t help but be boring. Have you heard a speaker utter that excuse? Have you used it?

The evening before his presentation to a conference of entrepreneurs a speaker confessed to me that his presentation would be boring because it was a boring topic. He sighed that it wasn’t his fault.

So I asked him, “What benefit can they hope to gain or what pain might they avoid by listening to your presentation?”

“They’ll learn how to take advantage of some free business development programs that have demonstrated a track record of success.”

“Wow! How could that be boring?”

“Well, there are a lot of details that relate to the application process.”

“What’s the purpose of your presentation?”

“We want people to express their interest in the program so we can help them apply.”

“So why bore them with the details about the process? Instead tell them about the benefits of the program. Offer a success story from a previous applicant. Remind them that’s its free to participate. Deal with the details later – after they’ve expressed their interest and are ready for the details.”

He looked at me with that ah-ha look on his face. Then a small smile followed by a slight grimace as he stated, “I have to revise my presentation tonight.”

After his presentation the next day he beamed as he announced to me that he had obtained sign-ups from more than 80% of the audience. That response was more than double his expectations.

He told me that he was up late the night before completely overhauling his presentation.  Speaking to the interests of the audience made him feel more comfortable and more excited about his presentation.

His presentation wasn’t boring and it was successful because he spoke to the interests of the audience. He didn’t waste time trying to cover all the information.

People don’t care about the details until they’re convinced that they want the product or service.

The next public seminar on How to Deliver Superior Presentations is June 24 in Burlington, Ont. Register now for the early booking discount. Click here to sign up.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Superior Presentations 75: The Most Striking PowerPoint Slide to Include in Every PowerPoint Presentation


If you use PowerPoint slides to accompany your presentation, you might like this powerful technique to distinguish your talk from the ocean of PowerPoint presentations. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to create this slide.

This is such a simple technique that many presenters overlook it. That’s one reason you will stand out when you use it.

Use a blank (blacked-out) slide at critical moments.

Here are three ways to use this technique
Start your presentation with a blank screen

Set up your computer and projector before your presentation.  Check your slides for size and focus on the screen then blank the screen. 

You start your presentation standing in the middle of the stage talking to your audience. That is most powerful position and often that is dominated by the screen which forces the presenter off to the side in a less significant position.

With the screen blank there is no distracting slide stealing attention from your opening words.

This means that the first impression that people have of your presentation is you. This gives you the opportunity to connect directly with your audience. This first impression helps to establish rapport and trust. A title slide will never do that.

After your opening you move to the side and click for your first real slide.

Blank the screen during your presentation

During your presentation there will be points when you want to reconnect with your audience by removing the distraction of the slides. You simply blank the screen and move to center stage to talk with them. This will often feel like an intimate moment to your audience.

Do this when reinforcing an important point or answering questions. This technique allows the audience to focus on you and your words.

End with a blank screen

The close to your presentation is important because it’s the last thing they hear. It’s your opportunity to reinforce your key message. It’s your last chance to build on the human connection. The best way to do that is with you speaking to them from center stage while delivering your closing words.

Before you close tell the audience that you are wrapping up with your closing message. Blank the screen and move to center stage. Then deliver your close.

How do you blank the screen?

Here are three ways

Click the “B” key. This is a PowerPoint shortcut. It’s a toggle so you simply hit it again to display the slide.

Use the blackout button on the remote. Most remotes have this feature. Hit it again to display the slide.

Insert a black slide in your PowerPoint presentation so it becomes part of your slide sequence. If you provide copies of your slides to the audience you probably want to exclude this slide from those handouts.

The words that you deliver with the screen blank will tend to have more credibility because you will appear to be more intimate with your audience.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Superior Presentations 74: Tell Colorful Stories Because...

Tell Colorful Stories

Stories in your presentation can paint pictures in the minds of your audience and connect emotionally.

Notice the visuals in this story and feel the emotional connection.

At the age of seven my son, Chris, started playing mini soccer. The field was tiny to accommodate the youngsters' short legs, stamina and attention span. The goal posts were fluorescent orange pylons set about five feet apart. The kids hadn't grasped teamwork so they clustered around the ball like bees around a flower as the ball rolled aimlessly around the field. You almost never saw the ball but you knew it was inside that moving cluster.

At one game you can imagine my pride and excitement when I noticed my son, Chris standing downfield in position to shoot on goal. Incredibly the ball escaped the cluster and rolled lazily towards Chris. I excitedly jumped up and down on the sidelines yelling, "Chris, get the ball! Chris, shoot the ball!" He moved awkwardly towards the ball then stopped. He ignored the ball and my sideline antics. Instead he stared up in the sky in a catatonic state. Incredibly, every player on the field also stopped running and did the same. My curiosity overcame my frustration and I looked up along with every parent on the sidelines. I half expected to see the alien mother ship hovering over the field. Instead there was the most perfect rainbow I've ever seen. It curved from one horizon to the other. The bands were vibrant in all their colors from red through to violet.

The referee knew when to admit a losing battle. He blew his whistle and announced, "Time out. One minute to look at the rainbow." A minute later he blew the whistle again and called, "Play on." The game resumed. I don't remember if Chris scored a goal that game or who won. That seemed unimportant after the rainbow.

What did you see while reading that story? Notice how the words in the story can plant vivid images in your mind.

Did you see the rainbow?

Did you see me jumping on the sidelines?

Did you see the cluster of children following the soccer ball?

You don't need slides to convey images. You can do it with colorful stories.

What did you feel?

Did you feel both my excitement and frustration as a parent?

Did you feel the beauty of the rainbow moment?

Did you feel as if you were there?

An effective story conveys images and emotion. Those are the two most important senses to reach your audience. They also make it easier for people to remember your message.

Inject more color and emotion to your stories.

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