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Monday, March 30, 2009

Great Public Speaking: Take A Peek

Hide Your Notes


I usually have notes hidden around the stage, but the audience never knows that I'm looking at them. I look at my notes that are lying flat on my table when:


1. The audience is laughing


2. When I'm pushing buttons on my laptop


3. When I walk past the table looking down and holding my chinas if I'm thinking.


4. When I go to the table to pick up a prop or piece of paper.


5. When the audience is watching short videos on the screen.


Some people tape their notes to the floor when they are on a raised stage, but I don't like that because you have to look down too often for no apparent reason. Another good trick is to lightly pencil in notes to yourself on the edge of flip chart pages. The audience can't see them, but you can when you are near the flipchart.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Great Public Speaking: Use Of Pauses

A true NO ZZZZZs presenter doesn't feel that he or she must jabber away constantly to keep the audience awake. Skilled presenters use silence to add to the effectiveness and polish of a program. Theatrical folks have identified a whole bunch of neat pauses which I'm sure they have a ball playing with. I'm only going to address some of the most obvious and important ones here.

Short

The shortest pauses, which last anywhere from one-half to two seconds, are for the simple purpose of separating your thoughts. All you have to remember is to slow down. Give the audience a fighting chance to absorb what you are saying. Change your voice inflection slightly at the end of each thought to cue the audience the next thought is coming. Also, use a short pause before and after any phrase or word you want to emphasize. (Refer to 'How to Deliver a Punch Line' article, for reference.)

Spontaneity

Another neat pause is known as a spontaneity pause. This is a planned 'unplanned' pause used so that you don't look too rehearsed. You might apply this pause when you want to pretend to search for a word or phrase that you already know.

Long

Long pauses of more than three seconds are very powerful. They command the audience to think about what you just said, that is if what you just said was worth thinking about.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Public Speaking: How to Make a Point with Humor

One of the old saws of public speaking says that you should "Tell em what you're gonna tell em. Tell em. Then tell em what you told em."

When you want to make a point during your presentation, you can use a similar formula. You tell em the point, illustrate the point, then tell em the point again. This formula, however, can seem boring and redundant if you don't spice it up a little. One way to do it is to use humor. Here's the formula:
1. Make your point.
2. Illustrate your point (in our case with a humorous two-liner, but you could use props, humorous props, funny stories, serious stories, case studies, etc.)
3. Restate your point.Here's an example where your point is "The Importance of Communication."
1. First make your point by saying, Accurate and clear communication is an important part of our everyday lives.
2. Then illustrate your point. In this case use a humorous two-liner. It's like the student pilot who was asked over the radio to state his altitude and location. He said, "I'm five feet nine and I'm in the left seat."
3. Then restate your point in a slightly different manner by saying, You can see how what we may think is clear communication could be interpreted incorrectly especially when people are underpressure.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Public Speaking: Entrance Visuals

Some type of visual in the room as the participants enter is a good way to signal them that your presentation will be different.

It could be an interesting picture or funny quotation on the overhead or PowerPoint screen or a nicely done color flip chartpage. You could have helium balloons or colorful airbags lining the walkway into the seating area of your presentation.

Use anything that makes the participants take notice. It will build their anticipation of your presentation.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Public Speaking: Callbacks

If you refer to a word or phrase you mentioned earlier in your presentation, that's a callback. It works well if the previous piece of material got a good laugh or if it was a groaner. If the previous material was good, mentioning it again will get more laughter and will make you look polished for being able to tie the previous material to the present material. If the previous material was poor, the call back will show your willingness to tease yourself, which is an admirable quality the audience appreciates.

Here's how it works: Let's say you used a successful two-liner in your presentation:

"Don't rely on health books too much. You could die of a misprint."

Later in your presentation someone might notice a misspelling in one of your handouts or visuals. You could then call back and say, "See, that's one of those misprints I was telling you about earlier." Another thing that might happen, that is just as good, is that one or more of the audience members might make the connection and do the callback for you. One of them may blurt out something about your health book line. That's great if they do. You are getting them involved and allowing them to feel superior to you, which makes them the stars. You could then comeback with, "See, I put that there to test you." When you really get confident, you might actually make the misprint on purpose to set up this whole scenario.

(Excerpt from "Wake 'em Up Business Presentations")

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Public Speaking: Check Each Seat

When you are setting up your presentation room it's a good idea to actually sit in many of the chairs where your audience members will be sitting. You might even want to get someone to stand onstage and move around in the areas where you will be presenting.

You would be amazed at what they see. Your stage positioning may be blocking them from seeing visuals. Your visuals may not be as visible as you envisioned them when you created them. Maybe when you write on a flip chart you block off an entire segment of the audience which would tip you off to step away from the chart after you've finished writing down a particular bullet point.

Room support poles, video tripods, bad lighting, can all effect how a partcular audience member views your presentation. Checking each seat in advance gives you the knowledge you need to make appropriate adjustments so that each audience member can enjoy and learn from your presentation.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Public Speaking: Balloons

Having owned an entertainment and balloon delivery company, I feeluniquely qualified to address this topic. Here are some ways to use balloons to add excitement to your presentation.

AIR FILLED (just blow them up yourself or get an easy to carry hand pumpfrom your local party store)

=> Put slips of paper with the name of a door prize in the balloon. Let participants pick a balloon, pop it and see what prize they won.
=> Tie them to a string and hang from ceiling as decorations.
=> Use double stick tape and tape them to the floor as a border from the entrance door to the seating area. This is also good to take up space in a room that is too big for the number of chairs.
=> Pass empty balloons out to crowd. Have them blow them up and make whistling noises by letting the air escape while stretching the nozzle. Give prizes for best whistle song.
=> Pass out balloons and have audience members blow up and tie them. Simulate a fireworks display (noise only) by having the audience members stomp on the balloons.
=> Buy inexpensive balloon drop bags and pull ripcord, then encourage fireworks tip above.
=> Make balloon animals and sculptures.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Public Speaking: Seating Tips

=> People prefer to sit by aisles. Avoid chairs next to walls. Audience members will feel trapped.

=> Aisles should get bigger as they get nearer the exits because they must accommodate more people.

=> Seat for least distraction and best focus on presentation. Turn off wall sconces behind the presentation. Set away from open windows, clocks, and entry doors.

=> Even after you have pre-set the seats perfectly, suggest to audience members, that they adjust their seating slightly for comfort.

=> Encourage seating in the front of the room by cordoning off back rows with masking tape, rope, or string, or placing reserved signs on back tables.

=> Avoid reserving seats through tipping chairs up against tables. The jutting legs tend to bruise shin bones and tripa udience members.

Trick: Only put out 50-75 percent of the chairs for the expected number of participants and you will almost always have a packed house. Stack the rest of the chairs in the back corner of the room for easy access if needed.

Trick: When you have a choice, opt for a smaller room. This again gives you a better chance for a packed house.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Public Speaking: Timing

TIMING

 When on a tight time schedule, have desserts placed on the table midway through the meal.

 Arrange with banquet staff to cease all bussing of tables on a pre-arranged signal. Many functions have less than interesting openings because service personnel are running around for the first 10minutes of a talk. This gets everything off to a bad start.

 Ten minutes before the program is to start, it is very helpful to announce something like the following: "The program will start in ten minutes. Please get your drink refills, (go to the little boysand little girls room), grab another piece of cake and then take your seats and get ready for a great program!"

 When planning lighthearted/humorous programs, avoid heavy subjects before the speaker, i.e.,don't show tear jerker slides of starving children (actually happened to a speaker friend of mine), in an effort to raise funds. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for raising funds for good causes, but if you do this just before a humorist or comedy show, you may have wasted your money on the talent and actually made it inappropriate for them to do the job for which they were hired.

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Monday, March 09, 2009

Public Speaking: Stage Fright Tips

Strategies when the program begins:

 If legs are trembling, lean on lectern /table or shift legs or move.
 Try not to hold the microphone by hand in the first minute.
 Don't hold notes. The audience can see them shake. Use three-by-five cards instead.
 Take quick drinks of tepid water.
 Use eye contact. It will make you feel less isolated.
 Look at the friendliest faces in the audience.
 Joke about your nervousness. "What's the right wine to go with fingernails?"

Remember nervousness doesn't show one-tenth as much as it feels. Before each presentation make a short list of the items you think will make you feel better. Don't be afraid to experiment with different combinations. You never know which ones will work best until you try. Rewrite them on a separate sheet and keep the sheet with you at all times so you can refer to it quickly when the need arises.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Public Speaking: Make 'Em the Stars

If you make the audience the stars, they will make you the star by giving you higher evaluations and buying more of your ideas, products and services. Here are a few ways to do it:

=> Get them on stage with you. I find an excuse in virtually every presentation to have one or many people up there with me.

=> Mention their individual names, or subgroups during the program. Praise their accomplishments and mention the good ideas you got from them in your pre program research.

=> Put quotations of the audience members in the handouts. . . . again you could have easily gleaned quotes during your pre program research.

=> Put quotations and ideas of the audience members in custom visuals (overheads, slides and computer generated images). I do custom quote overheads with my company name on them at the bottom. After using it in the presentation, I give it to the person who gave me the information. I've seen these pinned up on the recipients bulletin board long after my presentation.

=> Give out awards. Find out who the unsung heros are and make up an award to present during your presentation.

=> Give out prizes for people who participate in a positive way.

Want to be more professional in the way you approach each speaking engagement? Do at least two of the above items every time you speak. . . . Raise the bar and make them the stars. (Ref: Wake em Up Business Presentations)

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Public Speaking: A Good Sound System

If it is hard to hear, people won't listen. As a humorous presenter you must have an excellent sound system because some of the time you will be talking while your audience is laughing. Stand-up comics need good sound too, but they are a little different because they tell a joke, then people laugh (they hope). They tell another joke, then people laugh. A humorous presenter will be rolling right along making points, showing product features, telling stories, and dropping one-liners and must be heard all the while. A humorous presentation demands a better sound system than a serious talk.

In a serious talk, words can be missed and the main message can still be very clear. In humor it doesn't work that way. If key words are missed in a joke or story, it will ruin the humor. No one will laugh and you will look like a giant goober. The need for a thorough sound check is another good reason to be in the room early. You need to check the microphone to make sure it works. You need to check to see how far your mouth should be from the microphone. You need to know how loudly you should talk. Realize that during your check the audio level should be very loud. People will absorb the sound once they get into the room. Make sure the sound system is carrying to all parts of the room.

If someone speaks prior to you, try to go to the back of the room to see how he or she is coming across. If you have someone at the presentation with you, have them signal from the back of the room if changes are needed after you have started. If the amplifier controls aren't handy after you have started, you can adjust the sound by changing the distance between your mouth and the microphone and/or increasing or decreasing the loudness of your voice. Try not to use the latter method too often so you don't strain your vocal mechanism.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Public Speaking: Don't Go To The Bathroom

I just spoke at an association meeting where I had set up all my equipment and got everything working just right. Before the event, I made the big mistake of going to the bathroom while other audio visual people were coming into the room.

When I returned, my entire setup was moved. They actually picked my table up with my laptop and moved it about 8 feet closer to the screen which made the picture so small no one would have been able to see it. They insisted on using their projector which was a piece of junk (we ended up using mine anyway) and they generally disrupted my entire pre-program setup work. So, don't leave a careful setup unattended and always be there early to take care of nightmares like this BEFORE the attendees arrive.

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