Words That Suck Energy from Your Presentation

Words that suck energy from your presentation
Speakers say the darnedest things.

Here is an assortment of destructive words and phrases that I heard at a meeting. Notice how these words might sabotage a presentation by distracting, boring or annoying your audience.

This is vague. It suggests that the speaker doesn't know the subject. Try to picture stuff. There are more descriptive words that could be used; baggage, benefits, lessons, options, programs, products, books, ideas, plans…

You guys
This is too colloquial. It might be okay to use with a group of buddies, but not with a group of business associates. This phrase is just a hair above gangster speak "youse guys". When I hear this phrase I wonder if the speaker knows that the word you is both singular and plural.

Bucks are male deer. The person meant dollars. The word bucks is too colloquial and low class.

Second to none
This is a cliché which suggests unoriginal thought. It’s not visual. Try to picture “second to none”. It’s also the combination of two negative words. Instead say the best or first.

At the end of the day
An overused cliché – thus unoriginal thought. Clichés tend to be boring – because we heard it before. When the audience hears clichés they tend to tune out and might miss what you say next.

Without further ado
This is cliché, vague and negative. What does ado look like? What does the lack of ado look like? And why was the audience subjected to some ado already? Instead, pause and continue.

Pretty unique
Ha, Ha. Is the opposite of this "ugly unique"? If you mean unique, say unique. If it’s pretty then call it unique and pretty.

Very, very unique
This might win the prize for the dumbest phrase in this rotten bunch. Is very unique more unique than unique? When you stack your verys, does that mean twice or ten times?

Truth be told
Cliché. Naturally one might wonder why the speaker feels he needed to point out that he was now about to tell the truth. Was everything up to this point a lie?

Moving on
Cliché. This phase adds no value. If the speaker talks about the next topic the audience will know that he moved on – for what that’s worth. Simply move on.

Going forward
Cliché. This one suggests that there is an alternative to going forward and that must be going backward. Instead say “The next step is”.

To be honest
Cliché. Whenever a speaker says this the audience would be justified in questioning the speaker’s honesty. Should we put the speaker on a polygraph? Why does the speaker need to qualify the next words with this curious phrase?

The speaker made a statement and then tacked on “Okay” at the end in a questioning way. This speaker did this several times. Was the speaker questioning whether the audience understood the statement? Was the speaker questioning whether the audience agreed with the statement? Was the speaker chastising the audience for being so dense? Was the speaker simply validating himself by saying that he was doing Okay?

Whole bunch
We have a whole bunch of products for you. It just sounds vague and low class. It doesn't place those products in a positive light.

Your audience doesn't listen to every word you say. They also react more to certain words than others. Certain phrases might detour their thoughts onto a tangent. If you want to hold the attention and credibility of your audience avoid using these self-destructive phrases.

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook
Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives

Presentation Details: Remove the Distractions

What does the audience see when they look at the front of the room? Look at the mess that this presenter ignored.  I wonder how many people in the audience missed something important because they were distracted by the mess on the table.

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook
Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives

Speak to everyone in your audience as individuals

Speaking to individuals in your presentation
Each person in your audience sees themselves as an individual. They might be part of a company, association or community but they still think and act as individuals. If you want to influence them you must address each person individually.

What does that mean?

First, look directly at people. Focus your eyes on an individual while you deliver a phrase, then move your eyes to another person and talk to her. Make your presentation a series of individual conversations. See a face, then another. Don’t gloss over a sea of faces.

Second, use language that you would when speaking to one person.

Don’t say “Hello everybody” or “How is everybody?” Who is everybody? If you use the word everybody this way – you might as well say “nobody”. When you say “everybody” you are not talking to individuals. You are treating your audience as a crowd – not as individuals. Crowds are dehumanizing and devoid of responsibility.

Third, use the word “you” when speaking to the audience. The beauty of the pronoun “you” is that it is both singular and plural. Avoid “you guys” or “you all” which are both colloquialisms and only plural.


Don’t End Your Presentation on “Thank You”

Close your presentation strong

There’s nothing wrong about saying “thank you” to your audience. But don’t end on those words because “thank you” is a weak close.

The purpose of the close to your presentation is to reinforce the key message. People tend to remember the last thing they heard. You might believe that they heard your entire presentation word-for-word – but they didn’t. They also forget most of what they heard. There is a good chance that they’ll remember your close if you deliver it well.

Think of your presentation as real estate. To succeed in real estate, you will need to remember the rule “Location, location, location”.

When delivering a presentation, the prime real estate is in your opening and in your close.

If you set up your close well, most people will listen better because it’s almost over. They might feel obligated to at least listen to your close.

Just imagine that your close is the only thing that your audience heard. What important words do you want them to remember? It’s probably not “thank you”.

You probably want them to act. End strong and use words that motivate them in the direction that you want.

Vote for me
Invest in your future
Join the team

Many speakers end on “thank you” because they didn’t prepare a strong close and “thank you” is the only way they can convey to the audience that they have finished.

If you believe that ending on “thank you” is polite, consider this. Your speech or presentation has value for your audience – otherwise there’s no point in speaking. You give the gift of your value to the audience. If they are polite, they will thank you with their applause. Then you can say “thank you” for the gift of their applause.

You don’t need to thank them for listening because they will only listen if it’s in their best interest. They will never listen as a favor to you.

Consider this. The silliest way to end this post is with a “thank you for reading”. I won’t do that, and now you know why.

Close your presentation strong.

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook
Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives

PowerPoint Does Not Equal Presentation

PowerPoint is a crutch for a poor presentation
You Don’t have a Presentation?

The audio-video guy at the conference asked me for my deck. I told him that I would not use PowerPoint for my presentation.

His incredulous response was, “You don’t have a presentation?”

I laughed and responded, “Of course I do and it’s all in here” pointing to my head, “and it’s never broken down yet.”

His response illustrates that many people equate presentation with PowerPoint. Congratulations to Microsoft on their massive brainwashing. PowerPoint is an easy-to-use software that has seduced hordes of presenters into thinking that PowerPoint is their presentation.

Should you use PowerPoint in your presentation?

That’s a good question to ask. More presenters need to ask that question.

The answer is, “Only if it helps your audience understand and act on your message.”

If you are using PowerPoint as your notes – don’t use it. You’ve probably seen speakers who look at each slide in surprise as they try to stay on track. You might even have suffered through speakers who read the bullet points to you from the slides. Did they think you couldn’t read?

What should you put on your PowerPoint slides?


That means – photos, charts, sketches.

Not text and numbers.

PowerPoint is best used as a visual medium. Text and numbers are not visual. They are processed in a different part of the brain than images.

Before your next presentation consider these questions:

What's the best way to convey your message to your audience?
Would PowerPoint help your audience understand your message?  
Are you using PowerPoint as your crutch?

If the answer to the last question is yes, consider this: your audience will recognize your struggle.

PowerPoint does not equal presentation.

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook
Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives

Pursuit of the Perfect Presentation

Perfect 10 - Bo Derek - Pefection
It doesn't exist. It will never happen. You won’t deliver the perfect presentation. However you can deliver a successful presentation that is less than perfect.

Success should be your goal – not perfection. Success is achievable.

Define the success of every presentation you plan to deliver in terms of this three part question.

What do you want people to think, feel or do as a result of your presentation?

The purpose of your presentation is to move people. If you did – it was successful. Don’t waste your effort on chasing perfect – simply move people in the direction that you want.

Define success before you create your presentation and you will avoid tangents. Be clear on your definition of success while presenting and you will stay on target. Most importantly if you know what’s important you are more likely to get to your destination.

Don’t fret about perfection. Focus on success. Don't work for a perfect 10.

What do you want people to think, feel or do?

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook
Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives

Superior Presentations 64: How to Handle Questions about Your Flaws

Handle Questions About Your Flaws

Let's admit the truth. None of us is perfect. There are no perfect products. No system is perfect. No organization is perfect.

So don't pretend to be perfect or try to project an image of perfection to your clients, colleagues or the public. I didn't say that you need to reveal all your flaws. Just don't defend when someone points out a mistake. Admit the error and move on.

If you are not perfect this means that you made some mistakes along the way. And someone will point out that past failure, complain about poor performance or challenge you on a flaw.

You might have heard the analogy that an airplane is off course 80% of the time. The pilot or autopilot needs to keep adjusting to get to the destination. As long as you arrive safely at the destination you probably don't care how many course corrections were made.

Consider these three scenarios:

You are speaking to a group of clients to launch a new product or promote a program. A person in the audience loudly grumbles about defective product in the last shipment.

You are training staff how to use a new technology. An individual points out that this is inferior technology and your competition has already upgraded.

You are reporting the status of a project to a management committee. An astute manager reminds the group about past failed promises and questions your capability as a project leader.

How can you handle these unfriendly questions?

The first thing is to focus on your destination not on the errors or course corrections.

If you focus on the flaw, the danger is that you might trap your thinking into defending the flaw. If you do that, you will appear guilty.

Instead, break the question or challenge into at least two parts.

Step One - Admit the truth
Say, "I hear two questions there. The first question is 'Is our system perfect? The answer is no. We have experienced an X percent defect rate. That is better than the industry average but we still want to improve. That's why we invested Y dollars in process improvement over the past five years."
Acknowledge the flaw and explain what you are doing to address it.

Step two - Accentuate the positive
The second question I heard is "Does our warranty program continue to be the best in the industry? The answer is yes. If you haven't yet reported this issue then I'm happy to help you resolve this setback."

Sometimes there might be a third question.

The third question is "How can you help our team successfully complete this project?" Then you tell the committee exactly what you want from them.

Most reasonable people simply expect you to acknowledge the truth and tell them what you are doing to fix things.

George Torok

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives Share/Save/Bookmark

Every Presentation is a Competition

Competition when you speak
Every time you present in front of an audience you are in a competition. Treat it seriously because your audience is judging you against the competition.

Sometimes the competition is a competitor selling a similar product or service.

More often the competition to your presentation is the other thoughts, ideas and questions within the minds of your audience.

There are many things competing for their attention. TV, YouTube, Family issues, Work, Health, Friends, Social activities, Money, Career...

How do you compete?

By understanding their needs and demonstrating that - and addressing their needs, fears and concerns.

Stop the poetry - address their pain.

PS: I've completed the Hamilton Around the Bay Race six times. :)

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives Share/Save/Bookmark

The Entire Audience Walked Out on Me

How to handle things that go wrong in your presentation
What could be worse than losing your entire audience? Imagine no one showing up for your presentation. I experienced the one and almost the other.

While promoting my first book, Secrets of Power Marketing, I arranged short presentations along with a book signing at book stores. They were never a good place in which to present because they were not set up for presentations. Usually the audiences numbered between six and 10.

On one memorable book store visit there was only one person waiting for my presentation. That was ego deflating. I checked the signs and my calendar. We both had the date and time correct so at the scheduled time I started my 20 minute presentation. I was hoping that more spectators would arrive or that my standing and speaking might attract some curious book browsers. Five minutes into the presentation the woman’s cell phone rang. She dug it out and asked me to hold. Naturally I stopped speaking because my entire audience stopped listening.

After a short call she put the phone away, looked at me and announced, “That was my son. I need to pick him up. Bye.”

My entire audience walked out on me. Ha! I can laugh now but I didn’t at the time.

I forced another smile, bade goodbye, packed up my things, signed the books from the shelf, then left.

Since then I don’t mind if people leave part way through my presentation – as long as some remain.

When you present there are few things you can control and some things you can influence. And there is everything else that is beyond your power. Focus on what you can do and accept the randomness of reality.

Learn how to deal with 17 other presentation disasters and come out looking like a hero. Download the free eBook here - Turn Presentation Disasters into Presentation Success.

You don't need to give your name or email - just download the free eBook here.

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook
Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives

Superior Presentations 63: Why Tell Stories?

Superior Presentations 63: Why Tell Stories?

Have you noticed that the best presenters tell stories?

You can improve the power of your presentations by including more stories.

Three reasons to tell more stories when you present.

It's Easier for You
Notice how easy it is for you to tell a story when chatting with a friend. You didn't need to memorize it and you didn't need notes - because you lived it. It's a simple matter of replaying the memory recording within your brain.

Your natural passion will often be revealed when relating a personal story. It's easier to describe your own accomplishments by expressing them within a story. It won't feel like you are bragging.

If you feel nervous about public speaking include more stories in your presentation to feel more confident.

It's Easier for Your Audience
Most of us would rather hear more stories. Just ask kids what they want to hear - a story or a lecture? The entertainment industry is so prosperous because people love stories. Even the news is delivered in story format. The easiest and most powerful way to engage your audience is with stories because that engages their imagination.

Use stories to teach; it helps clarify the lesson and makes it easier to remember.

If you use stories to sell or persuade it won't feel offensive to your listeners. Listeners who bought your product, or were convinced by your message, are likely to repeat your stories to others.

Listeners perceive stories as entertaining and non-threatening.

It's Your Personal Brand
Your personal brand is based on the stories that people tell about you. They might repeat the stories that you told. They might also tell stories about the things that you did.

If you want to build and reinforce your personal brand tell colorful stories and do things that people can talk about.

You know that your message was effective when you hear people re-telling your stories.

George Torok

Presentation Tips on Twitter Presentation Skills Club on Facebook Executive Speech Coach, Business presentation tips from George Torok, the Speech Coach for Executives Share/Save/Bookmark