Friday, April 29, 2011

Public Speaking - I Won! I Won!

Another fun way to get the audience involved physically is to give out prizes. My favorite way to do this is to tape my business card underneath several randomly selected seats before anyone is in the room. Sometime during the program I will tell the audience that I have some gifts for them and they are hidden in the room somewhere. I also tell them they should not bother looking for them because they are sitting on them right now. Then I direct the audience to feel under their seats for the business card.

When the winners find the business cards they get to come up on stage to redeem their prizes, but there is usually a catch. I make up some funny questions to ask them. They get the prize no matter how they answer.

If you are pressed for time, you can hand the prizes to people in the first row and have them hand them one-by-one back to the winners. This gets many people involved physically because they have to handle the prize. (It's not a bad sales technique either. You might use your product for the prize if you want the other audience members to touch it and want one too.)

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Public Speaking Practice - Use Your Friends . . . Carefully

After you've done the best job you can preparing new material and practicing, try it out on friends and small groups. Don't tell your friends you are testing. Just plunge into the joke or story and see if they laugh or give you the kind of response you expect. You must learn to distinguish polite and real laughter on your humorous material. On your straight material you must be able to read a genuinely enthusiastic response compared to the "I'm-being-nice" enthusiastic response. Your study of audience body language will help you with this. If you are the boss, don't try things out on your subordinates. Try them out on your peers. Your subordinates may feel obligated to laugh or give you favorable opinions.

The best test for humorous material is to deliver it to the company sourpuss. If he or she laughs, you know you've got a winner. Also, be careful to recognize that some people laugh at anything. Don't let them convince you you've got a good joke or story until it's been tested on many different people. While you are in the testing phase, try out different deliveries. Only change one element of the joke or story at a time and watch closely the reactions you get. If you make too many changes at one time, you will never know which change was the one that got the better response.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Public Speaking - What to Do When Things Go Wrong

The first time I gave the full day seminar associated with my book I had a few MINOR problems. The sound man who had the mixing board, wireless microphone, and tape deck didn't show up. The videographer was delayed with a speeding ticket and showed up 10 minutes before the program was to start. That caused a 40-minute delay.

So what did I do? I dug into my NO ZZZZZs bag of tricks. I had a back-up, hand-held microphone with a long cord with me so I plugged it into the meeting room's sound system. One of the other presenters had a portable cassette player so we played the opening music on the cassette player and put the microphone in front of the speaker. It wasn't the best sound, but it got the job done. I had a good quality home-grade video camera there that was supposed to shoot secondary footage. It was just being moved to the main camera position when the video technician showed up.

Fifteen minutes into the program the video projector, an integral part of the program, conked-out. Since the projector was to be used throughout the day, something had to be done and done quickly. So what did I do this time? I did just as any really polished, unshakable, NO ZZZZZs presenter would do. . . . I told the audience to take a break and started scrambling to check out the projector. I determined that it was nothing that I could fix fast, so I made plans to bring in several monitors arranged as back-up. This was not as good as an 8-foot by 8-foot screen, but it would have to do. While I was checking out the video projector, one of the seminar participants was watching and overheard my decision to bring in the monitors. He said, "Listen, I've got a video projector at my office. I can go get it and have it set up in 20 minutes." He did, and I gave him a $90 audio tape album for his thoughtfulness.

These were obviously more than minor problems, but being prepared with back-up equipment and being in the room early enough to do something about the problems saved the day. A little help from a friendly participant didn't hurt either.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Presentation Skills - Clothing

Fun presenters can wear fun clothing but within the limits of your industry. I'm not going to pretend to be Mr. Clothes Horse (I've been accused of looking too corporate), but I will offer a few tips that should help you out.

* When presenting, don't wear clothes that are uncomfortable even if they look great.

* Wear clothes somewhere in the upper fringe of the limits for your industry, i.e., stand out, but not way out.

* If you really want to be remembered, consider trademark clothing, i.e., you are known for wearing funny ties, glasses, hats, etc.

* Don't wear loose jewelry or anything that is a distraction. Be especially careful of this if you are being videotaped.

* Double check and double sew all critical buttons and catches.

* Consider where your microphone and transmitter could be attached when purchasing presentation clothing. You may want to buy the clothing slightly large to decrease transmitter pack bulge (or if you gain weight).

* Take just about everything out of your pockets to reduce bulges.

* If you are much older than your audience, dress in your most stylish outfit (don't go overboard).

* If you are much younger than your audience dress in your most conservative
outfit (don't go overboard).

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Public Speaking - Characteristics of a Good Technical Program

An effective technical program will meet the following criteria:

* It will provide information that is generally useful. People resent being in a session that squanders their valuable time by presenting information which is superficial, unnecessary, or can be easily obtained elsewhere. The resulting unfavorable word-of-mouth publicity will make it difficult for the program or the presenter to survive.

* It will provide specific, "how-to" information, rather than theoretical concepts. Training should be designed to effect measurable change that will improve a participant's productivity, ability, or practical skills, with a minimum expenditure of resources. It is not intended to replace or compete with a broad education generally provided by the regular curricula of colleges and universities in our society.

* It will enable participants to get all necessary information in the shortest possible time. Technical seminars and workshops appeal to those who want a thorough understanding of a subject in a short period of intensive learning.

* It will provide support materials to supplement the program. Materials should be designed to help a participant organize new information during the presentation, as well as access and review it easily afterward.

* It will provide an avenue for further learning. A good program will pave the way for future studies either through a participant's own research, using the starting points provided by you, or through the resources provided in your materials including any further information and bibliographic citations that you can provide.

* It will entertain as well as inform. Humor, judiciously used in the context of the topic being discussed, contributes to a lively and interesting presentation, and enhances the learning process.

* It will provide a "status report" to participants on a regular basis. Periodic summaries of topics covered will help people organize their new knowledge. Giving quick previews of upcoming subjects and using question-and-answer sessions will actively engage the participants in the learning process, instead of allowing them to slip into a "passive recipient" mode.

* It will provide an opportunity for the practice of learned skills. If a program is designed to teach participants new abilities, opportunities should be built into the agenda for them to practically apply those skills.

* It will provide for participant comfort. Regularly scheduled breaks will go a long way to alleviate restlessness or boredom in your audience. Changes in training technique like moving from lecture to exercise to audio-visual presentation to discussion sessions, etc., will serve to keep participants interested and assist them in learning, due to the fact that different people are more receptive to different modes of learning.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Public Speaking - Organization

Being able to find humor, stories, quotes and other speech material when you need it is very important. It is very frustrating to know you have a piece of material, but you can't find it. Some type of system of organizing all this material is essential to efficient preparation. A file and cross-reference system will help you keep track of your material. I use both a computer and hard copy filing system. Both have advantages, so don't worry if you don't have a computer.

On the computer I keep separate files for all the different topics I cover in my presentations and also for the different parts and categories of speeches like Response to Introduction and Openings. You can also do this with three-by-five cards or in a regular file box or cabinet.

I make files for categories of specialty humor like roasts and toasts and I also make files for the different parts of a talk like response to introduction, openings, and closings. When I'm preparing a talk, all I have to do is open the file on that topic and pick the information I want to use. I copy this material to another file named for the group to which I'm speaking.

Some information in my topic files may be duplicated in other topic files. This is basic cross-referencing. For instance, one of my signature stories about my dog, Freeway, makes several different points. It can be used as a customer service story, to illustrate going the extra mile, reacting under pressure, or thinking quickly. Since it is a story involving an animal, it could be told to a group of animal lovers. Consequently, this story shows up in many of my topic files. I also use file folders in a filing cabinet to keep cartoons, clippings, gag items, etc. that do not lend themselves to input on the computer. Even though this filing method is slower than using the computer, it has several big advantages.

The first advantage is that my filing cabinet has never once malfunctioned in 20 years. It has never had a hard drive crash. It has never given me a general protection fault (computer lingo for BIG PROBLEM). I have never had to sit for hours with a technician while it was being serviced. Never once has it been difficult to find a file. It even works in a thunderstorm and when the electricity is out. The second big advantage is that having hard files and a big box of miscellaneous material forces you to look through the material to find what you want. When you do this, you will see many things that you forgot you had. Maybe it's time to revive some of the old stuff.

Using a computer has some big advantages too. If I am in hurry, I can locate material quickly and copy it directly where I need it. Also, when traveling I can take all my speech reference information on a few floppies or a lap top computer in case I get another talk while I'm on the road.

Another important organization and sales tool has to do with cataloging your material. Immediately after you talk to a group, log your material so you don't repeat any jokes or stories if you are invited back. Professional speaker Larry Winget gave me this great tip. Keep a master log of all your best material, humorous lines, stories, and jokes. It can be used as a sales tool.

After a presentation, check off all the material you used. Show the master log to the meeting planner. Tell the planner if he or she has you back, you won't use any of the material you used this time. They will be impressed at seeing how much more you have to offer.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Public Speaking - Consulting Humor

You know it is time to get out of consulting when...

  • You ask the waiter what the restaurant's core competencies are.

  • You decide to re-org your family into a "team-based organization."

  • You refer to dating as test marketing.

  • You can spell "paradigm."

  • You actually know what a paradigm is.

  • You understand your airline's fare structure.

  • You write executive summaries on your love letters.

  • You think that it's actually efficient to write a ten page paper with six other people you don't know.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Involving Your Participants: Using Participant Introductions

Interacting with your participants generally increases their learning, holds their attention, helps you make your points, and possibly provides for new information to be shared. Technical presentations hold some different challenges because most of the participants will be writing and taking notes throughout the program. Interactive processes must enhance the learning process and not just provide a break or entertainment.

There are lots of proven techniques, but the introduction seems to work best of all and will, as a general rule, get most if not all of the attendees to participate: Attendees at a technical session generally have a specific need in mind when they sign up for the program. By getting them to open up and share their needs, all the participants stand to benefit from the applications and concerns of someone else. In other words, there is a sharing of goals, concerns, and needs which may become as relevant and valuable to the participants as the materials you present.

Participant introductions serve two useful purposes. First, getting people to say anything at the beginning of a session gets them involved and is a way to establish interest in what you will say afterward. And second, if the participants do not know each other they may find it useful to know who is in the room. On the other hand, introductions can take up a lot of time. People can insert many irrelevant comments and take up valuable time talking about themselves.

If your session is part of a larger program, like a conference, introductions may not fit into the workshop format. The critical consideration in whether to have participants introduce themselves is time. For instance, if there were 15 people in the room for a three-hour session, introductions might be helpful. If there are 60 people in the room for a one-hour program, the time constraint would eliminate the possibility of adequate introductions.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Monday, April 04, 2011

Public Speaking - Certified Speaking Professional

CSP stands for certified speaking professional. This is an earned designation from the National Speakers Association (NSA) located in Tempe Arizona. 350 public and professional speaking videos.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Public Speaking - Visuals

Regardless of one's nationality and culture, cartoons and comic strips are the most universally accepted format for humor. These pieces of visual humor are seen in newspapers and magazines in most areas of the world. They may be found in newsstands in large cities or in large libraries.

It might be fun to collect cartoons and comic strips when you travel so you have a ready supply when you need one for a presentation. Be careful to avoid cartoons that have political overtones. If you are presenting to a small group, you can show the periodical or pass it around. If you want to use the cartoon or comic strip in a visual, you may need permission from the artist or copyright owner. Always read the caption for a foreign audience and give them time to mentally translate what you say. It may take what seems to be forever (4-6 seconds) for the idea to sink in.

Another good resource for cartoons is Witty World International Cartoon Magazine by Creators Syndicate. Other forms of visual humor that transcend most cultural barriers are juggling and magic. Good resource materials are available on both topics. Speaking With Magic is a book by Michael Jeffreys that not only teaches you simple tricks, but gives you the points you can relate to the trick.

Two good magic videos for speakers by master magician Tom Ogden are Teaching and Training with Magic and The Magic of Creativity. I got Michael's book and the two videos from Royal Publishing. For juggling and other magic books, call or write for a Morris Costume's Catalog. There is a small charge for the catalog, but it's worth it.

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