Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Presentation Skills - Doors

One of the biggest sources of distraction has to do with something every meeting room has and that is a door. Doors squeak, they slam shut, and they allow people to walk in the audience's line of sight. According to Tom's Law of Presentations, these three things are only allowed to happen at the exact moment of your best punch line or most dramatic statement.

Doors are very easy to deal with if you can gain access to the room early. The first thing I do is check to see if the doors squeak. If they do, I call maintenance or find a little oil can and oil the hinges. If it's an old hotel, this probably hasn't been done in 30 or 40 years. Then I let the door swing shut on its own. This tests the closing mechanism. If it is hopelessly weak and allows the door to slam shut, I either ask for it to be adjusted (which no one ever knows how to do) or I have someone stand at the door to open and close it for latecomers. The latch of the door can make lots of noise to, so you simply tape the catch mechanism shut.

Door location can also be a pesky problem. Sometimes the room is set so there is a door behind or very close to the stage area. If someone would enter this door during your presentation, it would be very distracting. You can usually tape up a "Please Use Other Door" sign to help with this. When you know you have any kind of door problem, try to alert the planner or recruit people from the organization to police the doors for you.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Public Speaking - Excellent Storytelling Tips

Specify the location of a joke or story. If your story takes place in a restaurant say, "I was at Jerry's Sub Shop in Rockville, Maryland, the other day." This gives the audience something concrete to think about, which makes them more involved mentally.

When crafting a story, use people, places, and things the audience knows. When the audience is familiar with the elements in your story, they will become even more involved. As soon as you mention the company cafeteria, their minds race to the cafeteria to meet you and find out what happens. However, don't use humor that is too inside. Only a few people will understand it.

Emphasize the adjectives and verbs in your stories to make them sound more interesting. Try it. Look around where you are right now and describe anything you want. Really put punch behind the adjectives and verbs and see how your description comes to life.

Use specific and interesting verbs and adjectives. Say I was exhausted, not I was tired. Say, her head was nodding and drooping, not her head was down.

Learn your stories. In a normal speech if you forget the exact thing you wanted to say, you can improvise and go on. But if you leave out an important detail in a story or if you accidentally give away the climax too soon, you have a mess on your hands. I tell a story at least 30 times in private before I'll test it in front of an audience.

Use true facts from your own life. This makes it easier for you to tell the story because you lived it and you can learn it faster too. Also, someone else can't steal your story as easily if all the facts have to do with your life.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Presentation Skills - Audience Dynamics

Over 350 public and professional speaking videos. Whenever possible you should control the audience reactions to your
words. This video tells you how.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Public Speaking - I Could Do Without Some Emotional Audiences

You may present to audiences that have very negative emotions already piqued. They may be downright hostile. When this is the case, you need to say things that will reduce the emotional intensity.

I don't often face hostile audiences, but a friend of mine is an expert on them. Larry Tracy trains business executives to communicate successfully with skeptical and even hostile audiences. Larry's expertise comes from hard-won experience. In a previous life in government, he had the job of speaking to hundreds of emotional, demanding audiences in the 1980s to defend and debate the Reagan Administration's Central America policy.

Larry tells me that hostile audiences have a great deal of what psychologists call cognitive dissonance, a tendency to protect existing beliefs and prejudices and reject contradictory information. He says this emotional baggage has to be bypassed before a speaker's facts can be comprehended, and that only a speaker perceived to have empathy has a chance of reaching such an audience. Larry trains his clients to follow what he calls the KAP method Know your audience's concerns, and Anticipate their objections and questions with realistic Practice. The practice consists of a simulated presentation with colleagues role-playing as the more contentious audience members.

Larry says that speakers confronted with an angry audience should think of themselves as a thermometer, always attempting to keep the heat down. A calm voice and use of phrases such as I understand your point and I certainly see where you are coming from, as well as open body language can help cool down emotionally-charged audience members. He adds that speakers should never appear dogmatic. They should never tell an audience that they are going to persuade them or show them where they are wrong. Above all, speakers should never become embroiled in a shouting match with audience members.

He says the key to getting hostile audience members to change their view is a thorough pre-presentation analysis of why the audience has invested so much emotional capital opposing the issue. This analysis may show that audience members have been previously misinformed and speakers, after showing they are reasonable, credible, and open-minded can then provide new data, allowing audience members a face-saving means to change their mind.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Tom Antion - Writing a Eulogy

I was inspired to do this video and to help people learn to write a eulogy when my father passed away in July of 2000. It's a difficult time for you. We are here to help with your funeral

Friday, August 19, 2011

Public Speaking - 4 Reasons Why Humor Is Your Best Friend

HELPS RELATE FACTS AND FIGURES. A friend of mine says, "I don't want to bore you with sadistics." Technical and financial presenters must be especially careful to spice-up long lists of numbers and generally dry material. You must keep in mind that most people in your audience are not as passionate about your subject as you are or they would be up in front of the group. Think from the audience's point of view and do whatever it takes to break up boring material so you don't lose your audience totally.

MAKES A POSITIVE IMPRESSION. Laughter and good humor create bonds. Even if the audience members don't like you, they will like you better if you can make them laugh or smile and they will leave with better thoughts of you.

SHOWS THAT YOU DON'T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY. The old saying goes, "If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will." You don't want to be known as a stuffed shirt. If you can laugh a little bit at yourself at the right times, your audience can laugh with you and not at you.

HELPS PAINT PICTURES IN THE AUDIENCE'S MIND. The pictures humorous storytellers can paint are what people remember, not the words.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Public Speaking - Great Exit Lines

P.T. Barnum would have trouble getting people to leave his museum so he put up a sign that said, "This way to the Egress." When people went through the door, they found themselves on the street. I don't want to find myself there, so I'll finish up now...

You've heard that "All's well that ends well." Well in my case it's All's well that ends. Goodnight.

When all is said and done, there is usually more said than done. I think I've said enough. Good Luck.

When a speaker says, "Well, to make a long story short," it's usually too late. I don't want you to feel that way about me. Thanks for having me.

If you have a Question and Answer period:

Now let's open it up for questions. Ask me anything. If I know the answer, I'll give it to you. If I don't, I'll make something up.

Complimentary and funny:
Secretaries are the backbone of an organization. They are the structure that holds everything together [start to get emotional and cry. Take out a handkerchief and hidden noisemaker. Blow your nose really loudly]. I'm sorry. I get so emotional. You're the greatest. Good bye.

Paraphrase a quotation:
The next time you're feeling down, and you look in the mirror and see a few extra wrinkles, just remember what my old buddy Mark Twain used to say. "Those wrinkles are where smiles have been all these years." I'm Tom Antion. I love you.

Now I'm going to say something in the public interest. Goodnight.

George Eliot said, "Blessed is the man [I would substitute the word person for the word man to avoid sexist language], who having nothing to say refrains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact."

An old-timer is one who can remember when time was marching on instead of running out. My time is running out, so in conclusion...

My great, great granddaddy always told me, "When you're holding a conversation, be sure to let go of it once in awhile." I'm letting go of ours right now. Are there any questions?

My talks usually have a happy ending. That's because everyone is glad they are over.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Public Speaking - Online Video Resources

This video tells you where you can find tremendous video training to
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Friday, August 12, 2011

Public Speaking - Use Product Related Stories

You can bring your product to life in the eyes of the client with stories. I learned about this from the general manager at John Wanamaker Department store in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I was doing a customer service presentation. The manager was telling me about the time he and his wife were shopping for a handmade quilt to give as a wedding gift.

They went to several different shops in eastern Pennsylvania. The people working at the shops were uninformed about and indifferent to the questions being posed about the history of the quilts. They eventually came upon a shop where the proprietor went into great detail about the person who actually made the quilt and about the origin of the material, thread, etc. Guess where the manager bought the quilt?

Of course, not all customers would want this level of detail. But the ones that do may be influenced to buy immediately if you are ready with this kind of information about your product, idea, or service. You should also develop interesting or humorous stories or one-liners about how your product was used. For example when I was in high school, I used to sell matchbooks with advertising on them to small businesses. On a sales call I would put a used match in my wallet which I would pull out with great ceremony and say, "This is THE match that lit the bonfire we had just before winning the homecoming football game. You can have a match similar to this one." That would get the clients smiling. Then I sold them one or two cases of matchbooks.

Think up ways such as my one-liner to talk about your product, idea, or service to keep it in the customer's mind with a nonsales sales pitch. Product-related stories or jokes lend a favorable light to your product without increasing sales resistance.

I have a million more where that came from!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Public Speaking - Joke Telling

Jokes! Jokes! Jokes! Everyone tells me they can't tell jokes. The good news is that it doesn't matter one bit if you can tell a joke or not. The better news is that if you really want to tell jokes, you can. I'm going to give you some simple techniques that will improve your joke and storytelling capabilities.

Being a humorous NO ZZZZZs presenter is quite different from being a stand-up comedian. Most stand-up comedians must be experts at telling jokes. Their only purpose is to entertain. If they do not skillfully make the audience laugh, they bomb. Laughter is their only desired result. You, as a NO ZZZZZs presenter, however, are using humor as a tool to convey your message or information. You should want the audience to have a good time, but it doesn't matter so much if the audience laughs as long as they get the message. Laughter is a bonus. Realizing this fact should take away much of the anxiety you may feel about using humor.

Let's get back to jokes. I really get tired of hearing people in my seminars tell me they can't tell a joke. I can't iron a shirt either, but I could if someone showed me how and I practiced enough (Note: As long as there is one dry cleaner store left on the face of the earth this will never happen). I might never be as good at it as my mother, but I could become competent if I really tried. It's the same with jokes. If you apply the delivery techniques discussed, if you select appropriate and relevant jokes, and if you practice diligently, you will become competent at telling jokes and successful in your main goal of enhancing your presentations. As stated above, when it comes to professional presentations, being able to tell a joke does not matter. So, don't let it bother you if you have a little trouble at first. Just keep practicing. You will get more positive results out of storytelling, using one-liners, and many of the simple humor techniques discussed. The delivery techniques you'll learn will also apply to these other forms of humor.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

Seminars and Presentations Training

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Public Speaking - Tips From a Woman Presenter

A Guest Post From Marianna Nunes, Speaker

As a female humorist, I test the waters of all my audiences in four ways:

1. I go early and try to meet as many people as possible. This warms them up to me, eases my nervousness, and I get a sense of how serious or playful they may be as audience members.

2. I go early so I can sit in on other programs. I see how readily they laugh or do not laugh, which lets me know what to expect for my program. If they're playful in one program they will usually be playful in the next program. Also, I can pick out the playful audience members that I may use in my program. If something significant occurs in an earlier program, I can tie it in to my speech in a humorous way.

3. I trust my intuition or gut sense when I walk into my audience. I actually can feel if there is a serious or playful tone in the room.

4. I prepare my introduction (which I insist that they read exactly as written)with a few humorous lines. If the audience does not laugh at those lines, I know I'm probably in for a long hour and not to expect too much laughter from the audience.

As a general rule for female humorists, it is usually easier to get more laughs and interaction from an all female audience. In a mixed audience, I find that the women are more open to laughter and they keep the audience alive. An all male audience is usually more reserved and more difficult to warm-up. They also prefer more content. With an all male audience, I act more corporate in my speech , my dress, and my entrance. These are general experiences that I have encountered, and I have had many, many exceptions.

The most critical piece of advice is to match your audience. If they are serious, begin a little more subdued so they can relate to you. I recently saw a great performer with such high energy (not matching her quiet audience) that many people left because they were so uncomfortable. The way to sell yourself to your audience is to make them feel they are like you! Thus, match them as much as possible with the tone of how you begin, your content, and your dress.

Marianna Nunes is a keynote speaker who captivates, motivates, and educates her audiences nationwide. At the lowest point in her life, Marianna was diagnosed as having cancer. Her personal relationship and business fell apart, and she was forced to go into debt. However, through a long process of raising her self-esteem and using laughter as a healing source, Marianna succeeded in rebuilding both her life and her career. She travels extensively, offering programs to business and association clients of all kinds. She is also well known for her popular singles program "The Art of Flirting."

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Public Speaking - Create an Atmosphere Conducive to Laughter and Interaction

Unless you are using slides or video projection, you want the room lights at maximum intensity for normal business presentations. This could change if you want a comedy club atmosphere where the presenter is extremely well lit and the audience is in relative darkness. Darkened seating allows the audience members to laugh as loud as they want without feeling like everyone is looking at them.

Half of your effectiveness with humor is realized because the audience can see you. The audience wants to see your face. They want to see your expressions. They want to see your body language. It is easier to establish a bond when the speaker and the audience can see each other, which is one good reason to avoid reading your presentation from behind a lectern. I attended a presentation in Washington, D.C., by a "big name" author. I'll call him Mr. Sleeping Bag or SB for short. Before the presentation Mr. SB was in the room with 300 people with a bored, nasty look on his face. I tried to make eye contact with him when he walked by me and he stared right through me. He conducted a three-hour slide show with no breaks.

Oh, no!! Better start handing out the kerchiefs and caps because the audience was just settling down for a long winter's nap. He was totally "in the dark" behind a lectern. I am an audience watcher, so I know he never connected with the audience. Besides being in the dark, the man made several other inexcusable mistakes that indicated little regard for his audience. Three hours is too long to go without a break. Starting at the one-and-one-half hour mark people were constantly getting up to go to the restroom or getting refreshments.

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Monday, August 01, 2011

Presentation Skills - Words

Terminology is different in most areas of the world even if the language is English. Highly tested humor that would work anywhere in the U.S. may fall flat in another country simply because the audience doesn't understand one of the words. For example, in Australia, "breakout sessions" are called "syndicates." If you were making a joke in Australia that used the word syndicate, you might totally confuse the audience and they wouldn't laugh.

People from most other countries will not relate easily if you mention measurement units such as miles per gallon or miles per hour. You should avoid talking about seasons of the year, which may not be the same, sports figures or celebrities that don't have world-wide name recognition. Rethink all the humor you normally use and try to identify problematic words. This is difficult to do by yourself. Try to find a person familiar with the local culture to help you.

When using translators, humor is tougher because timing and word play don't translate well. You might have to slow down considerably because of interpretation. Some speakers use half sentences to keep up the pace. This is very difficult and requires practice.

Speakers have been known to have fun with interpreters (of course, I would never do this). An unnamed speaker I know purposely mumbled to his interpreter to see what would happen. The interpreter mumbled back. Then the speaker mumbled again. It was hilarious.

Even when the audience speaks English, they may not be able to understand your accent. Avoid idioms and slang and check with local residents to see if you can be easily understood. You may have to adjust your normal rate of delivery and style.

Art Gliner, a longtime humor trainer, gave me this tip: He learns how to say "Happy New Year" in the different languages represented in his audience. That technique always gets a laugh and the further it is from New Years, the better it works. Art also tells me a word of welcome given in the native language works well too.

Difficulties may also arise in question and answer sessions if the presenter cannot understand the questioner. Try to speak with as many local residents as possible before the program so you can get a feel for their accent.

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