Proven Tips for Making Presentations that Connect

Delivering Presentations that Make Unique Connections

Mark W. Hardwick, Ph.D.

 

Lecturing remains one of the more popular methods to transmit information and ideas by teachers, trainers and speakers.  As students and audience participants we are quite familiar with the approach.  Lectures can be informative, boring and overwhelming depending on the compelling nature of the message and the presenter’s style and clarity of message.  The lecture method usually is one-way communication and allows for little or none audience participation. The result is audience misunderstanding, loss of information and poor retention.

 

Research reported by Ralph Nichols, distinguished communication professor at the University of Minnesota, reports that listening is a learned skill.  His research findings indicate that most people forget fifty percent of what is said in the first two minutes, and twenty-five percent after eight minutes, and can retain the rest of the information only for about a month.  To retain more information participants need to use active listening skills, try to anticipate where the presenters’ lecture is going and get an opportunity to interact with the material.  In addition a study conducted by the U.S. Department of HEW, showed that we retain only 10-25% of what we hear after a thirty –day period. The lower the interaction the lower the retention. Given this information what are the reasons that so many presenters still prefer the lecture method?  And how can we improve the effectiveness of lectures?

 

Some presenters prefer one-way communication methods, such as lecturing, because they can transmit large amounts of information to audiences in a short period of time. Presenters find lectures efficient because the flow of information can be directed and controlled with greater precision.

 

On the other hand, from the receivers’ point of view they experience one-way communication as being “talked at” rather than being “communicated with”. Listeners find it difficult to figure out where the speaker is going and to focus attention unless they are provided a roadmap for the lecture. The audience has little or no opportunity to get involved or provide feedback on the messages being communicated.

 

The question becomes how do we capture listeners’ attention and provide methods and tools to help them understand the presenter’s lecture?  We must develop techniques and messages that are perceived as involving participants and providing opportunities for interaction.

 

How do you do this as a lecturer?  By creatively modifying your approach to pay more attention to how adults listen, learn, and absorb new information and ideas.  At the end of the day, a presenter must focus on the needs of the audience rather than on what they want to present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Approaches and Techniques for Winning Presentations in a New Age:

 

  1. Structuring presentation—Effective presenters provide roadmaps for their speech. They design and present lectures that are well-organized and easy to follow.  There’s an “attention grabber” for the opening, a preview of what is ahead and three or four chunks of information that make-up the body of the presentation, and a closing that summarizes important content, information and key messages. Exceptional closings let participants know where they have been and “wave the flag” and passionately call for action.

 

  1. Repetition and restatement of critical information and the significant overriding message for the presentation. Effective lectures use multiple and clear examples to illustrate the critical information.  They keep the learning goal “top of the mind” and provide clear and concise information.  Effective presenters always try to see their message from the audience point of view.  A technique, which helps, is to ask—What is in it for the audience to pay attention and how can they use this information back home to make their worklife more fulfilling and satisfying?

 

  1. Make the presentation appear to be interactive, engaging and a conversation not a one-way monologue.
    • Provide individual reflection/think time, encourage pairing-up with another participants to exchange ideas and then share perceptions with larger audience
    • Ask rhetorical questions
    • Survey the audience with powerful trigger questions
    • Provide a partial outline of the lecture to help align audience thinking and tracking the presentation
    • Feed forward structuring message; for example, these three points are critical
    • Stimulus prompts; these are three important diagnostic factors for determining risks of heart attack_______, ________ and ________.

 

  1. Use the make me feel important (MMFI) rule to find unique ways to connect with the audience. Create a psychological safe climate by building closeness and openness of participants. You do this by using people’s names, nodding your head, looking people in the eye with one thought rather than scanning the room.  Use natural gestures, which are experienced as inviting; for example open hands rather than pointing a finger.

 

 

  1. Use analogies to express your message and create understanding. The human brain is use to dealing with visual images and tying new ideas to information already known. The dictionary defines analogy “as a likeness in one or more ways between things otherwise unlike.”  The analogy is one of the most powerful communication techniques and yet it is the least used form of evidence for speakers. One of the main reasons for it’s under use is that the development of an analogy takes imagination and creativity by the presenter to tie the analogy to the main goal of the presentation and to listener’s interests and needs. For example: Exercising every day is as hard as saving money, but it pays off in the long run.

                   

 

 

                   

  1. Statistical and factual evidence. In a technical presentation statistics are the most frequently used form of evidence.  Unfortunately, numbers and facts can over load the listener’s ability to process and retain information.  When using graphs and visual support explain each bit of information and build the slide one idea at a time.  To strengthen credibility, state whom conducted the research and their credentials.

 

  1. Story Telling. Your experience or others experience related by means of a story is a form of evidence because it gives the listener tangible evidence and illustrates the viewpoint of the speaker.  The communicator’s personal self-disclosure and involvement through stories brings the evidence to life; first-person life. Story telling helps make your presentation believable and conveys your human side.

 

  1. Examples make the information concrete and tangible. Examples can take ideas from the theoretical to the practical.  Because of the massive misquotes and misuse of statistics, even examples have become automatically suspect by many listeners.

 

  1. Communicate in common and understood language. Often presenters out of habit, comfort and sometimes to demonstrate their expertise use professional jargon and lose the audience.  Do not assume that listeners understand complex technical language.  If you need to use technical language, provide definitions or a glossary handout to facilitate communication.  In order to facilitate impact and effectiveness of presentations it is important to keep your language clear, concise and compelling.  Remember your goal is to connect with the audience and impart information and ideas listeners can use to their benefit.

 

Summary

It is important to remember that the single overriding goal of a presentation is to provide meaningful content in an entertaining and engaging way so that participants focus their attention, understand material and are receptive to implementing new ideas back on the job.  The whole preparation, presentation and content of a lecture must therefore be directed not to the speaker but to the audience needs and wants.  I encourage you to try some of the above interventions so that your lectures may be perceived as more of a two-way communication by using more interactive exchanges, experiential exercises and stories that will make your presentations more memorable and your message relevant.

 

 

Loss Art of Elocution–Learn the 5 Critical Elements to Make better Audience Connections

Learning to be comfortable with strangers and friends alike means understanding and using the basics of effective communications. To differentiate yourself it is important for you to understand and practice elocution techniques which now are called body language or non-verbal communications. Unfortunately and over time elocution techniques which are more that good non-verbals are not being taught to most public speakers.

el•o•cu•tion

Pronunciation: (el”u-kyOO‘shun), [key]
n.
1. a person’s manner of speaking or reading aloud in public: The actor’s elocution is faultless.
2. the study and practice of oral delivery, including the control of both voice and gesture

Natural Expression of Thought by Speech and Gesture.

Natural tones are the tones of truth and honesty, of good sense and good taste. It is with them only that the understanding is successfully addressed; with them only that we can arouse and keep awake the intelligence of the listener, which is the object we always have in view, whether we speak our own language or that of another.

Critical Elements of elocution

  1. Attitude
  2. Speech Patterns
  3. Posture
  4. Hand Gestures
  5. Eyes Focus and Contact

Attitude or Mental Schema/Set

  • You are among friends who want you to succeed.
  • You are prepared.
  • You have covered every base.
  • You will survive.
  • It cannot be as bad as you expect!

Speech Patterns

 Use up and down inflection and eliminate sing song and monotone

Pick words you can pronounce—use common language to connect with audience

Punctuation is there for a purpose—pause

Raise your tone slightly

 Natural Posture

Stand up straight –right foot forward; feet 12 inches apart

Stand on your own two feet

Choose your space—and build a triangle for movement

Take a deep breath

Relax and use 10 second relaxation technique

Hand Gestures

An extension of posture and eye contact

Adds emphasis

Must not be distracting—be natural

To use gestures you cannot have other things in your hands

Practice, practice and practice

Rules to Present By–

Find a friendly face or someone to whom you just talked too before the meeting

  • Use the one person one idea method for connecting. Eye contact needs to be about 3 seconds per person, then move on to someone else
  • Create a positive and supportive connection by smiling
  • Build rapport and reinforce openness and flexibility during the speech
  • Practice the Rule of Five:Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  • Eliminate fill speech. Just pause and take a deep breath before speaking.

Want to give Audience-Centered Presentation? Learn these 3 skills.

Exploring Empathy, Responsiveness and Relevance as keys to Audience-Centered Presentation
Daily Quote: ” Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”  Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence  
The R.A.T.E.R. is a useful tool to measure your ability to be Audience-Center in presenting or public speaking. Your ability to see and relate to, understand and respect the inner world of others, doesn’t mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience . For many, empathy is what I’ll call a touchy-feely word. “It’s all about feeling and relating to what others feel , isn’t it? – being compassionate. Does that really have any place in the hard-nosed world of business? One of the problems with empathy is that it is often confused with being ‘soft’ – overly sensitive, compassionate and even emotionally “mushy” or sentimental. It can be associated with tolerating bad performance or bad behavior, which is probably more to do with avoiding conflict than empathy.

Let’s be clear, empathy is simply the ability to comprehend and be respectful of the inner state/experience of others, it does not mean agreeing with the other person’s perceived experience or condoning the actions they take based on their interpretations. It is also not just limited to understanding another’s feelings. Empathy includes an ability to identify and articulate another’s perspective, expectations, wants and needs. Great communicators are empathic because they try to see the world through the eyes of their audience. By doing so they show respect and caring for their audience and when people feel respect they respond. There is an old saying, “I don’t care about what you know until I know that you care.”

As an empathic presenter you need to be  self-aware and sensitive to how their own behavior impacts others.  Empathy is outward and inward looking. Learn to be responsive and respectful as a presenter by identifying audience needs and being “quick on your feet” to provide relevant examples and tell engaging stories about your ideas. Show respect and and empathy your audience will respond in kind.

Self-Coaching Challenge: To get at this topic in short form, I’d ask you to take this self-evaluation to score yourself on a scale of 10, where 1 is awful and 10 is being masterful as a presenter in crafting and demonstrating empathy, relevance and responsiveness toward the audience members.  What follows are three questions about empathy. How do you stack-up?

1. Empathy is Item #1 I work-in to my message when presenting to others? _____

2. I am a full-fledged student of empathy, aiming for the same level of “professional mastery and excellence” that I’d aim for in a specialty like Human Resources, Brand Marketing, Finance or Business Strategy____________.

3. I stop at different times during my presentation to see how the audience is taking–in or understanding my message ________.

 

 

 

 

Stuck on How to Design Your next Speech? Use the proven Design Framework Called R.A.T.E.R.

 

” A presentation is a sequence of concrete examples and stories that snap together to form a compelling argument…If you use only one tip, this is the one. The #1 mistake we’ve observed in presentations—and there is no close second—is that the message is too abstract. The presenter offers concepts and conclusions but not evidence. He talks at a high level about the big picture, but gives no concrete details that might make the big picture understandable and plausible. He may sprinkle in a few stories or examples, but they are treated like garnish. Most people communicate
with, say, 3 parts exposition to 1 part example. That’s exactly backwards. In a compelling presentation, examples aren’t garnish, they’re the entrée”. Heath Brothers from the article Presentations Made to Stick 

As a speaker and communicator, you are the one who is shooting the “free throw to win” the game. You must “stick it” to win. You must have the right mindset, relaxed muscles and arc to make the shot.  Every single day, you are delivering messages and trying  to make ideas stick and persuade others to change or behave in a certain way.  So how do you connect with and make messages stick? Trying using the R.A.T.E.R. 

  • RESPONSIVEchallenge your audience with something new or ideas they can use. Be responsive to their interest and needs. Answer questions as they are asked. Do not put people off by saying, ” I will answer it later”. Be “quick on your feet” and adapt to audience interest and needs. If you are not sure you are meeting their expectations ask them. For example, how are we doing here? Is this information meeting your expectations? If not change directions. Don’t ignore the disinterested looks or signs of boredom.
  • ASSURANCE- provide credible information and examples of idea or solution benefits and how it has worked in the past. Use powerful examples and stories to assure audience that your message has importance to their situation the ideas being presented are credible.
  • TANGIBLES-bring concrete ideas and provide pragmatic examples or metaphors that make the ideas less abstract. Avoid generalizations and professional jargon. Make message clear, concise and concrete. This is the spot to provide demonstrations or if possible physical prototypes, so audience members can see and touch what you are talking about.
  • EMPATHY-Show the audience that you care and understand their problems, skepticism, views  and ideas. Obviously, presenting facts and evidence in your speech are important, but connecting with the audience requires both empathy and an emotional message.
  • RELEVANT  information needs to be presented along with pragmatic audience-centered solutions and ideas that raise the audience members curiosity and interest in what you have to say. In addition, try to sprinkle your speech with supportive evidence and stories showing the benefits, viability and urgency of  your ideas so that attitudes can be changed and action initiated to improve their quality of life.

For your next “big” Presentation Test your Message for “stickiness”?

Framework for “Sticky Messages”

” Remember that to create a “sticky idea”  it needs to be understood, remembered, and it changes something”. Heath Brothers

There are a number of tests to check that you have created a memorable and believable message. The main test of success in delivering a key message is that you commit it to memory. This will increase the perception by audience members of your credibility. Do this your main task is to be able to communicate your message with passion and clarity without your notes. Test yourself.

Then say it to a colleague – see if they can say it back to you. You may find that they say it back to you in a way which is easier to grasp. In which case change it.

An hour later, ask members of your presentation review team to listen and give you feedback on how memorable and relevant your key message is to the overall topic being discussed.  Ask the team the next day if they remember the “sticky” message. If they can still remember it a day later, well done – you have got yourself a memorable sticky, relevant and believable message.

Check your message against these two standards–the RATER developed by Dr. Hardwick and SUCCESs model developed by Heath brothers in their book–Made to Stick

Want to Make Your first Step Toward Effective Public Speaking? Try these 3 Proven Methods.

“Unique connections, even if there are 1 or 500 people in your audience, are purposeful, personal, and passionate. Your message needs to be relevant and responsive to the audience needs and interest.” -Coach Mark

We all know that a lack of effective communication skills (public speaking) will seriously harm your career and relationship prospects. Whether you are a project manager, frontline employee, or CEO, your ability to communicate in a clear and compelling manner will be important component on how successful you will be. If you can not communicate and connect with your different shareholders your great ideas and intellect will not matter.  So how do you go about making a positive impression and gain credibility with any audience.

1.  Your audience will respond warmly if you remember to not just talk or lecture at them but find creative ways to connect and engage with them.

My first rule of sticky presentations is “NO Connection = NO Interest.”

This is plainly intuitive, if you have sat through a boring presentation, you disconnect because the presenter does not take your needs into consideration  and does not make the message relevant to your problems, needs and interest.  So the question is, “how to effectively connect with your audience?

a. The easiest way to create a connection is to meet as many people 1 to 1 before you walk on stage. Then, use some of the information you have gathered in your “meet and greet” conversations to salt into your opening remarks. This technique provides a valuable time for you to get to know people and gather information that makes your present come alive to the audience.

b. Create audience member engagement and involvement. Your audience does want to be a passive vessel for you to empty your message into; they want to be an active and engaged part of  your presentation. Right at the beginning of your presentation, pose a challenging question or use a quick activity like an audience survey to find out their needs and interest in your topic; this kind of activity always works because the audience now feels that you care about them and you have provided an opportunity for them to think about and provide input into the presentation design. This method provides content so that your message can be customized to their interests and questions.

The question or activity, must align with the audience members current reality, needs and issues to get and hold their attention. If I am presenting to a group that has been told, “You HAVE to be in attendance to receive CPE credits or other reasons. I might ask “What would they rather be doing  than be at this presentation?” Or I might ask the audience to tell another member what would make this a great presentation. After their short discussion I will conduct a shout out session to get some feedback on their discussions.

Having created some engagement through involvement we can link this to the subject of the presentation like this, “Knowing you are interested in “A”  let’s begin by discussing why “A” is important…”

My second rule of presentation skills is, “No Competence=No Confidence”  

I have seen competent people lack confidence in presenting and confident people lack competence (nothing is as dangerous as a confident fool!).

When coaching people to feel confident to present well, I use the Cognitive Behavioral Technique of Mental Rehearsal that when confronted with anxiety or performance confidence issues. This CBT technique encourages  finding a trigger of something you are already confident doing such as playing the piano, or shooting a foul shot in basketball etc. and tap into this past experience and feeling of confidence so that you can access this feeling in your mind and body before presenting. For some people this lack of confidence or anxiety about presenting is a “double bind” that we must feel some confidence to attempt to present well and only when we do this will we gain the competence; and with competence comes confidence! An effective presenter is also competent in the subject matter of their presentation. Sometimes this just means you are competent to share your perspective on a limited piece of information.

So when getting ready for your presentation learn everything you can about the topic and subject to be discussed by doubling the amount of prep and practice compared to the allocated length of your speech. For example, for a  1 hour speech put in at least three hours of prep and practice time.You may only speak about 10% of what you know but your competence will show when you can make your subject matter clear, concise and compelling.

This brings me to my third rule, “No Compelling Message No Memory or transfer by Audience to Action ”

People will only remember one or two or three points from your presentation, so plan your presentation so that those 2-3 points will stick with them. Techniques for making a point stick include:

  • Repetition – remember kinder garden and repeating your ABC’s over and over.
  • Gestures or Actions – get the knowledge from the mind into the body with a powerful physical trigger.
  • Visuals or Video – we live in a multimedia world so use powerful graphic or short videos to create a visual link to your sticky points.
  •  Story Telling– powerful personal stories engage the audience and are great memory triggers for your message.

So in Summary, here are my 3 Rules for Making Sticky and Effective Presentation Skills

1.  No Connection = No interest

2. No Competence =No Confidence

4. No Memorable Message = No Transfer to Action  

Sticky Presentations: Five Process Secrets for Connecting with Audience

” Before your message can stick, your audience has to want to hear about your idea and you need to believe in it”. 

Clear, concise and well prepared content and message is critical for a successful presentation, and yet this not enough. A speaker must also be able to deliver the message in a compelling way in order to connect with the audience. Together these factors are essential for presenters to capture the audience attention and interest. Knowledge is shared and curiosity is raised in the hope of moving the audience toward change in opinions and a commitment to action. In this process the presenter wants to be seen and experienced as an effective and authentic communicator.

So what are some effective and proven methods you can use to  accomplish this goal of being perceived as interesting and a compelling presenter:  

1. Showing-up, Being present and Believing . Open with confidence, energy and strong presence. Focus on the audience needs and by providing interactive elements.

Presentation experts call this taking command of the room. I call this moment being present. This method will help you overcome nervousness, if it is combined with a powerful quote, compelling statistic or story. Another way is to use interactive elements 
in your opening.
Break down the wall between speaker and audience. Step out from the podium and ask the audience a question and have them answer by a show of hands or have them face a partner and interact. People will put up with a nervousness and  stumbling in your presentation if you are involving them.   This approach sets the stage for an effective presentation by demonstrating empathy and raising curiosity of audience members.

2. Provide a “roadmap” for the presentation. This technique signals to the audience what topics are to be covered. Many presenters use this technique to ask audience members if there are any other ideas they would like to learn about or do some of the topics not meet their expectations. Using this approach says to audience members you are willing to be flexible and provides a great opportunity for audience involvement and engagement. Some presenters are anxious about using this technique because they think they will lose control. Trust me this techniques works and you have the ability to say no new topics and it provides more information about the audience needs which provides many benefits for you as a presenter.

3. Be quick on your feet—be aware of audience members body language and non-verbal cues during the presentation so you can assess how you are doing. Don’t ignore negative signals.
Pick up on sagging energy in the room, audience frowns, or arms folded etc.
Make sure your body movement matches your message. If you’re trying to be convincing, your hand gestures should be symmetrical. But don’t make them too rehearsed; your physical motions should be driven by emotions and words. If you keep your hands down at your sides, you tend to look scared. Aim to have you hands more level with your chest, on what Samuels calls the “passion plane.”

4.  Engage audience by designing parts that play to different learning styles —Include a visual, auditory and kinesthetic experiences by surprising them with different activities. People learn differently so if you include all three types of information you’ll connect and engage more audience members.

5. Give the audience AHA moments.  This presentation technique provides and leaves the audience with  ideas, insights and memorable moments. Maybe you’ll hand something out to the crowd (self assessment quiz)  or bring something surprising on stage. An AHA moment can be most effective at the start or end of a presentation but can be used through the presentation to capture audience attention, interest and engagement with the presenter and topic under discussion.

 Remember, make  sure you have a strong and energetic opening, message deliver and close.

We often start strong but don’t think about where we want the presentation to go. Do you want everyone to stand up in the end? Do you want them to say something simultaneously? Plan even the last couple minutes in advance. Don’t just say for example, “well that’s it for now” and start to pack-up to leave.

Secrets for Excellent Presentations—There are None. Just Lessons Learned.

I am going to share some idiosyncratic and insightful stuff today from Dr.Tom Peters, famed management and leadership guru for over forty years, In this rambling and some times incoherent reflections on Presentations and public speaking Tom nails a few great points for all of us to learn from in the art of speech giving. Here are a few of his ideas for you to noodle on today or review before your next speech.

Quotes that say it all:

“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.”—JFK

“In classical times when Cicero had finished speaking, the people said, ‘How well he spoke,’ but when Demosthenes had finished speaking, they said, ‘Let us march.’”—Adlai Stevenson

Tom’s stuff  reinforcing the quotes— ” Reason’s for Total commitment to the Problem/Project/Outcome.

As JFK told us, above, keep your mouth shut unless you commit yourself 100% to moving a mountain—or at least a hillock.

Reason #1: Why bother to go through this hell unless “it” matters to you—a lot!

Reason #2: If you are not committed, somehow or other it will show through like a spotlight as you present. People can smell belief, passion and commitment and energy and determination—or the absence thereof .

Reason #3 . Fix Your Attitude before Presenting–Have you ever said to yourself before a speech I don’t want to be here. I have to be here. Well, that’s not true—except in a way it is. The peerless leadership guru Warren Bennis made an extraordinary assertion. He said: “leaders have no particular desire to be leaders. Instead, there is something they must get done. And to get it done, they must put on the leader’s mantle”. You could say the same thing about speechgiving—or you ought to be able to. I haven’t traveled my 5,000,000 miles or so to give speeches. I’ve traveled those miles to have the opportunity to present a set of ideas I care deeply about; and, at 70, I’m still traveling. (I assure you the thrill of air travel has long faded.) Change the world? That’s a bit grandiose. But, try to make a wee difference? That’s my story—and, within reason, I judge that it will be the case for any long-term successful speechgiver.

Reason # 4. Know what the hell you’re doing unless you specifically make it clear that you are merely providing early conjectures. JFK tells us not to open our mouths unless we aim to change the world. I’d add, perhaps unnecessarily, don’t open your mouth until you know what the hell you’re talking about. You’ve got to be clear, albeit indirect, that you’ve worked your ass off on this topic—and would not ask the audience to waste their time listening to you pontificate.

Reason #5. A compelling “Story line”/“Plot.” A speech, long or short, to an audience of 1 or 1,001, will only grab the recipient if there’s a powerful/compelling story-with-a-plot unspooling. First, evidence from the neurosciences supports this—our brain reacts to stories. Second, please listen up, research by the likes of Steve Denning reveals that stories are as important as hooks to techies and economists as to an audience, presumably, of poets. A good speech has a good story at its core. A good speech is, in effect, a string of stories that takes us from here to there—and makes us, in effect, say, “Let us march.” Stories. Stories. And more stories. Use personalized stories or short vignettes you believe in and are relevant to audience members.

Reason #6 Negative doesn’t sell. Period. Negativism can kill a speech in … 30 seconds.

Final Tips and challenges–

 Speech giving is a “One 2 One” conversation:

Talking and connecting to one-guy-at a-time with good body language on both of our parts,

I’m getting through to all 1,500 people. If I’m talking to “everyone,” from behind a podium, I’m getting to no one!

A Presentation is an Act. Never forget you are an ACTOR.

**********

Relax! Be yourself! ARE YOU NUTS? One of the most commonplace pieces of speaking advice is to “be yourself.” What a crock. No, you should not be stiff. Or look as if you were on the way to the guillotine. But you are performing a professional act.

And  as I—and FDR—said, you are an actor when you’re on stage. And you are putting on a performance. Can you imagine a coach telling one of his players before the Super Bowl,“go out there and be yourself”? I want to look as though I’m comfortable, sure, but I am also controlling every move and every breath to achieve an end that is a matter of professional life or death to me—not in terms of “success” or “failure,” but in terms of my determination to pass on a message I believe is of the utmost importance. Indeed, enjoy yourself—in the Green Room after the speech!

CONNECT! CONNECT! CONNECT!

You have all the time in the world to connect. Of course you don’t! But you must spend the opening minutes creating trust and camaraderie—not silly camaraderie, but something more like empathy. You can’t appear to be wasting time, but you must sink your personalized hooks to connect with others. (I am adding these examples of how to gather info and build rapport with audience members. Before the speech arrive early and talk with a few people to get a sense of who they are and what is relevant or important to them about managing others? Personalize the conversation by asking inquiry type of questions.. Where did they grow-up? Where did they go to school?. How long have they been with the company and in there present position? How much technical or management training have they been required to get annually? What is their biggest problem in managing others? What one thing or question if answered would make this a great speech? )

**********

Only connect! For example,

“ That was the whole of her sermon.

Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.

And human love will be seen at its height.

Live in the fragments no longer.

Only connect …

—E.M. Forster, Howards End

I am sure if you read Tom’s full paper on presenting you will pick-up other stuff I did not touch on here. So do yourself a favor and read his entire piece because it is very insightful and we seldom get someone who for 45 years has been successful in captivating and inspiring audiences all over the world. Oh, and by the way Tom Peters receives 65,000 to 70,000 dollars in speaking fee his performances.

Have fun with his material and let us know what stuff you found important. Coach Mark

Using Stage Fright and Anxiety to Improve Presentations.

 

Alignment of substance and style

But I… never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it”. ~Mark Twain

It is natural to feel apprehension before speaking in front of a group, this is called “stage fright” . At the root anxiety and fright is all about some kind of irrational thinking, such as “perfectionism” or fear of failure”   which triggers your anxiety. Perfectionism can drive insecurity. And on the other hand if you adjust your thinking about the need to be “perfect” you can be energize and inspire your self up to a point, but too much concern can lead to a drop in performance.

A certain level of anxiety is actually necessary for you to perform your best. The key is to use this anxiety to your advantage, harnessing it to make your style more dynamic and animated. The physical symptoms of anxiety are very similar to that of excitement. If you can train yourself to interpret your symptoms as excitement, instead of being nervous, you are well on your way to using the anxiety to your advantage. So, how do you do this?

Controlling Stage Fright and Performance Anxiety
1. Avoid negative self-talk. For example, do not use phrases like, “They won’t listen. They’ll be hostile.” Talk like this is not only self-defeating, but it is self-fulfilling. Tell yourself instead that you will succeed. Tell yourself, “I’ve done my research. I’m prepared. I am well practiced.” These kind of statements are also self-fulfilling–in a positive way.

2. Don’t exceed your time limits for a topic. Know how much time you have been allotted and then keep to the schedule. Carefully preparing your material will allow you to cover the topic well, but also selectively customize it for your audience needs. It takes longer to say something than it does to read something. The best way to make sure you do not run over time is to follow the suggestions in step 3.

3. Practice and prepare. Practice and prepare. Once your presentation material is prepared, it is time for you to prepare. Practice is the key to feeling confident. There are several ways to do this.

–Practice with an audio or video tape. Play it back to catch mistakes you might have made. This will help you catch distracting idiosyncrasies such as touching your hair, playing with your rings, standing with your hands in your pockets, or using fill-speech like saying “you know” or  “um” over and over again.

–Practice in front of a mirror. Remember to practice what you do with your hands and arms. If you use gestures when you speak, make sure they are natural and not overdone.

–After you have practiced on your own, it is good to get an “audience” to watch your presentation and provide concrete feedback on what is good, what needs to be drop or where you need improvement. An audience can be just one other person, but the more feedback you get from different perspectives the higher the likelihood of connecting and engaging your future audience. Getting constructive feedback usually results in changes that will improve your delivery and content.

–If you are trying to persuade your audience to your viewpoint, ask a friend to give you some opposing viewpoints to get a sense of what your audience may be thinking as they hear your presentation. Understanding opposing viewpoints is especially important if you allow questions after the presentation.

4. Know and read your audience. Your presentation must correlate to your audience’s interests or you will lose them. Knowing your audience will also give you a positive, confident attitude about speaking with them and provide opportunities to improvise the content to make it more relevant to audience members.   Be quick on your feet and don’t get locked in to just what you want to say by being an active listener.

5. Visualize yourself succeeding. Do not just tell yourself that you will do well; picture yourself doing well! Take a deep breath, close your eyes and imagine yourself walking to the front of the audience with your shoulders back and a smile on your face. See yourself speaking while the audience nods with approval, laughs at your spontaneous humor and applauds when you finish. Carry that successful mental image with you when it is time for you to present.

6. Fake it until you make it. Your audience will not know how nervous you are. They will only know what you show or tell them. Regardless of how you feel inside, act confident. Acting confident can actually make you feel confident.

7. Don’t stress over what “could have been” or “should have been. Leave the presentation behind once you have finished. Allow yourself five minutes to review the “smiley” sheets and reflect on what you could have done differently, then move on. Plan constructively for your next project. Set some goals and take what you learned to make the next one even better. A good evaluation tool for yourself is to talk with members of the audience after the presentation and ask for feedback on worked and what you could do better the next time.  After all, it was for them you did the presentation.

 

Part II: Learn to Be a Dynamic and Great Communicator and Presenter–Learn this Secret

“Research indicates the pitch, volume and pace of your voice affect what people think you said about five times as much as the actual words you used.”
—Stanford Business magazine

How about this for an upsetting fact about influencing and getting a message to stick with an audience? STOP trying to overwhelm them with facts, charts and other data. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room. Just learn to connect.

Now let’s dig deeper and look at content vs. performance in regard to audience receptivity to your ideas or message.

Content vs. Performance

Presentation is a Performance Act. You are an actor. FDR said it about the A presidency: “The President must be the nation’s number one actor.” And you, my dear presenter, must be  #2! You are here for a serious reason. (Like the president.) The content, idea or cause, your beloved content etc. is a life-and-death matter for you. (So, too, for the president.) The methods of the great actor and performer (Remember Self 3)  are the methods of the great speech giver/presenter—standing before an audience of 2 or 22 or 220 or 2,000. In fact, the research evidence is clear: The acting and performer bit swamps the content bit. That is the “win” or “lose” outcome is driven far more by acting and presentation skills than by the quality of the content. If that upsets your mental map or appalls you, well … tough. Go with it. Believe in it. Study it. And never forget it if you want to be experienced as a great speaker or presenter. Performance is everything…Period !

 

Part I: Meaningful Life principle #2 –Learn to be a Great Communicator and Presenter

Author’s note: On this post I will flush out in more detail the number #2 principle from the Handbook for Creating and Living a Meaningful Life: 30+ Rules of the Road .

Meaningful Life Principle #2: Learn to become a “dynamic” communicator.   

Relevant thought trigger and quotes : Not only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also a certain art in communicating and teaching it. Cicero 

“The problem with communication… is the ILLUSION that it has been accomplished.”—George Bernard Shaw

A Presentation is a Performance Act. You are an Actor. Tom Peters

To be a great a communicator requires high performance (self3) behaviors  and takes “Truth Telling” which begins with clear thinking, courage and belief in yourself and the ideas you are trying to get across. Learn to be an active listener when preparing for the presentation, so you can identify your audience needs ( something you didn’t learn in school)–So if you want to come across to others as authentic and be perceived as “star presenter” practice the mental set, attitude, and actions listed in my “ten rules for excellence in communicating” they will speak volumes of who you really are and transform how you think about interpersonal communications and how you connect with others when presenting.

Dr. Mark’s 10 Tips Becoming a passionate communicator and public speaker:                                               1. Be clear and concise, confident and compelling about your purpose and goals for the interaction or presentation. Don’t present anything you would not want to hear if you were on the other side of the desk or in the meeting room.

2. Learn that “Connecting with Others” is the most important factor to consider when communicating and delivering you message. Do you believe in what you are talking or spouting off about? How comfortable are you in presenting ideas and information to others? Are you open to other points of view? Can you communicate in conversational tones and gestures? Can you manage your nervous energy?

3. Believe in your self—Know your strengths and become a high performer by using them when communicating 1 to 1 or to an audience of 1000 people. This will allow you the freedom to overcome nervousness and self-doubts.

4. You must become a serious and formal student of communication and listening. Yes, the likes of presenting, conversing,  talking and listening can be studied and practiced with the same thoroughness with which you studied mathematics or science that is the bedrock for becoming a physicist or medical doctor.  There’s no more need to be casual about developing these soft skills of interpersonal communication than there is concerning mastering the job of doctor or lawyer. Granted formal schooling for the hard stuff is more available to aspiring professional presenters and students. Yet it can be done—and as I said before, the benefits of undertaking professional study in the art of communicating and presenting and listening is critical to your success in business and life.

5. Give as many speeches as you can—of all shapes and sizes. “Hey, Coach Mark, how did you get to where you are with your presentation skills?” “I’m a lot better after 2500 speeches than I was after 2 or 3.” Meetings are a great training ground for both watching and learning about performing; for example, observe how people react to this or that approach taken by a speaker.

6. The One Big Secret I have learned over and over again in my 40+ years in public speaking and giving presentations is that they are personal and open conversation whether it is a 1 to 1, face 2 face conversation, small staff meeting, conference key-note to 500 people. Make it personal and create closeness by being self-disclosing and truthful–tell stories… Remember an effective speech to 1,000 people is an intimate, 1-on-1 conversation so engage them and surprise them so they are interested and curious about what you have to say.

7. Speak with passion–be energized and excited that you get the privilege of presenting  what you know that can help the audience members live a more fulfilling life.

8. Stay focused but flexible on interests and needs of the other person. Be ready to change topis or re-focus speech if you get feedback or body language that the audience is not with you. Don’t be bound or married to your agenda, always remain audience-centered.

9. Don’t worry about what is going to happen next or be preparing to respond stay in the moment observe, respond and focus on the process of conveying your message and connecting.

10. Close with a bang. Let the audience tell you what they learned. Check for audience AHA’s,  discoveries and learning. Check on commitment for action and personal change.

Bonus Idea for getting ready to speak– Use “relaxation and release” tools to start in a great state of mind and energy…   be open to whatever arises, and be confident you can handle whatever comes-up.

Remember as JFK said,“The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.”

Want to Increase Speaking Success and Your Impact by”10X? Learn and Practice these 6 Secrets

I’d like to address a problem that is so common that it seems silly to even mention it…

It’s the idea that too often we use our powerful minds and emotions to cause ourselves to FAIL rather than SUCCEED in communicating and presenting our ideas and self to others.

Fear of Failure can actually become a HABIT that leads to career derailment and failure.

Let me ask you a question:

Have you ever been in a presentation situation where you looked out at the audience and went blank or experienced an anxiety attack and could not perform at the “top of your game”?

Of course… we all have to one extent or another…

Being nervous before a performance, especially in front of an audience is UNIVERSAL. We’ve all been there so many times that the question doesn’t even need to be asked. Here are the three questions that you need to answer to increase your impact 10x:

WHY?

What can we learn to overcome these fears?

How do we go about trying to increase our impact and reducing our fears?

To read about the 6 magical secrets to creating Sticky Presentations and becoming more effective speaker send me your e-mail to thewick.wordpress.com/us

Three “secret” elements that set you apart from others delivering boring and unproductive presentations.

So you have worked hard on designing a powerful message for your next presentation. You now turn to the presentation to fine tune your  performance skills which are grounded in three key elements : deliberative practice, confidence ( self-efficacy and mental toughness) and  connecting by demonstrating your competence (expertise or point of view based on data or life experiences). I am not about to tell anyone that a presenter who lacks substance and clarity of thought and an organized and powerful message can transform overnight into a great speaker by changing his thinking or mental preparation. If you are confident but not organized or clear and compelling it is not smart to think you can achieve your goals by just “winging it”. This approach it’s still going to produce a boring and unproductive talk. You have to attain a level of expertise, create a clear and compelling message and demonstrate in real time self-confidence so as to connect with the audience. These are the “three secret” elements that I want to explore with you on this post. These elements are necessary to accomplish your goal of connecting and influencing your audience. Just like in golf, tennis,  playing the violin, opera singing or any other performance art.

Having said that, I believe it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of the mental side of making an exceptional presentation.  Your brain combined with the right habits—created through deliberative and repetitive practice can provide a strong foundation for your success in any performance art. Memory resides in your head. Therefore, no matter how long you practice a speech, no matter how skilled you think you are verbally, your mind and nerves can overwhelm your desire to execute when the moment of truth arises on the platform. Your muscles and the rest of your body are controlled by your mind. Unless you are mentally prepared and tough the mind may not be ready for “prime time”, your voice may not project your words in a strong way and it will be difficult to hear you, your knees or hands may shake and you may start to profusely sweet because of how your mind can trigger physical reactions to nervousness and low confidence.  If your head is filled with poor experiences from the past or bad thoughts, your ability to communicate and connect will project bad vibes to your audience, thus under-minding your impact and influence on them.

Having control of your mind and being mentally tough can separate you from many other speakers. I believe every speaker has the potential to be much better than he or she is, and that using the mind cues and toughness is one essential way to improve. You will never know if you have the ability to be the best you can be, unless you commit yourself to designing, practicing and delivering your presentation with confidence and mental toughness.

As you know it’s the same when it comes to any other performance art. No one creates a speech or practices hard to go out on stage and lay an egg. Or to be an embarrassed by an average or boring speech. But you make a choice – to do what needs to be done to have a positive and hopefully a lasting impact or prepare for your presentation on the run, or seeing practicing as a necessary evil or waste of time.  Remember over time your choices put in place habits like positive mindset, skillset and smart actions that can build your reputation as a “great communicator” or just another boring presenter.

Keep us posted on your progress or any barriers that are getting in your way with wick  community of problem solvers and learners we our here to support your journey to be –the best you can be. Good Luck and Never, Never Give-up.

Unique Connection: Principle #1– For Engaging and Influencing People

Principle #1: Limiting Information vs. Data Dump Engages the Imagination
“Focus and engagement can mean the difference between a highly persuasive presentation and a long, convoluted, and confusing one. Why say more when you can target and make a difference in the audience members attitude, thinking and future action? Remember when communicating and connecting with others oftentimes the person who has a clear and concise message rather than a long-winded and disorganized message wins.

With a “unique connect” there is a certain rhythm to communicating and developing a positive response to your message. When presenting if the speaker creates a connection it can lead to a great value proposition. Unique Connectfits – fits the need and wants of the audience, fits the problem and opportunities being discussed, and fits within a larger system of effective relationship building and leadership. A great presentation engages and influences the attitudes and behaviors of people. A great speech changes how people think, relate and work.  A focused and engaging presentation allows others to see and discover ideas and opportunities for changes that produce a new and better life. A great presentation, like great leadership, has the power to inspire and change he world.

The ability to constantly achieve “unique connections” through exceptional communication techniques , like setting clear expectations, requires a solid and “sticky” message strategy, one that answers the question that keeps most leaders up at night.

How do we make a difference and stay relevant in a cluttered, confusing and disengaged world?

How we can connect more as presenters and public speakers:Learn more about empathy

Empathy—mirror neurons show that being connected to someone is not just in the mind. There are these fundamental physiological and  behavioral moments that are occurring continuously with other people who we’re not aware of. There is a solid grounding of neurological research which is completely consistent with this hypothesis.

Power of Empathy:  Presenters who demonstrate empathy and caring are rated higher on presentation evaluations because they can reach out beyond themselves and their subject matter and connect to other people’s experiences and needs. At the core people discover unseen opportunities and problems when they have a personal and empathic experience and connection with the world around them.

For most of us that means we need to have an experience to walk in other people’s shoes. It also means not judging differences physical or idea wise as bad ugly or stupid. When we are being empathic we must see and understand without judgment. Having the ability to reach out and touch, understand and connect with other people and the world around us is what empathy is all about. It provides us with the courage to take risks long before the rest of the world is tuned in. Simply put people who have the ability to use their brain to care and connect are happier and more successful in the world. We develop an intuitive or gut reaction to see the world from many points of view and listen to people who matter the most. When we practice empathy we are open to new ideas and ethical concerns. This in turn provides the impetus to build and support a culture of clarity and concern focused on people rather than on fame, wealth and material things.

Leadership Effect Part 1–Framework for Success 4 M’s of “AHA or WOW” Presentations

 

How many presentations and lectures have you heard? Probably in the thousands or too many to count.  Of these communicators how many provided some useful “take homes” or hit the high bar  called the “AHA” or  “WOW” factor? On a regular basis I survey my students and seminar audiences on this question for many years.  Their answer is that you can count them on one hand.  The critical question becomes—What makes these speakers outstanding or creates an AHA reaction.

1. They have executive presence—firm hand shake, good eye contact, dress, smile, sense of humor and inspire  us because of  a positive or touching story delivered with authenticity and passion.

2. They are high energy communicators who are speaking in common everyday language, seem approachable, confident, credible, inspirational, and connect in unique ways

3. They deliver a clear, concise, compelling, relevant, and believable message

4.Their message is memorable and retained–It’s “sticky”.

 According to many studies, public speaking is rated the number one fear of  for many people. Even ahead of death, nuclear war, the dentist, and bankruptcy. 

I want you to consider how your thoughts, mental frameworks (fear and anxieties), and assumptions effect what message is presented and how it is received.

I want you to learn how to align your message, mental attitude, mechanics, and memory so as not just survive a presentation, but to create an environment that is comfortable  inspirational, persuasive, and compelling for listeners. And in addition, a satisfying experience for you.  Our goal is to create a learning environment that facilitates the growth and development of presenters by increasing their ability to be confident performers.

We know that future behavior can be improved with openness for change, an acceptance of feedback, and a plan to overcome bad habits. We help you to identify your strengths by understanding how to align the message, mechanics, and mental game for speaking.

If our tools and techniques are used it will be easier for you to develop new habits by focusing on the identification of strengths and areas in need of improvement.  If we succeed in helping you to develop and communicate the essence of your message and increase your comfort and impact on others we will succeed in our goal as performance coaches.

The “big idea” I am talking about when looking at the way we communicate and interact is leadership.  Leaders lead with their ideas, words, and presence. The way people speak and deliver words of praise or criticism reveals their values, beliefs and philosophy of life. It is the essence of leadership.  This is what we call the “leadership effect”.  The “leadership effect” holds that leaders will be judged by the realism, authenticity, and relevance of their communications not by their position or place on the organization chart.

Like it or not, our self-awareness, mental presence, confidence (mental state), eloquent mechanics (voice, gestures, movement, body language, eye contact), and messages (verbal impact) determine how we are received and perceived by others. Leaders influence action through the art and mastery of thinking and speaking straight and naturally.