Put Some Pep into your Speaking Style


Communication Secrets of Professional Presenters

Put some Pep into your speaking styleHave you ever spoken to a group of people, only to get a blank stare? Remember…the one where the person in the front row fell asleep? Is it your subject? Or is it you? Whether presenting one-on-one or to a group, many speakers drone on and on, unaware that people are tuning them out. Their audiences blame style, delivery and organization. While these criticisms may be valid, it takes far more to keep your audience’s attention in today’s fast paced world and pharmaceutical executives are realizing that expert knowledge is no longer enough—they need to hone their speaking skills to succeed.

“I work with a lot of terrific people who are exceptional at what they do. But in order for them to take their careers to the next level, senior management needs to see them as leaders who can command attention and respect. ”

That’s what a top pharmaceutical executive recently told me before I coached key members of his team. When delivering presentations, he said it’s essential for them to be able to “hit it out of the ballpark” if they hope to take their careers to the next level. The executive says a person’s ability to present key information clearly and concisely is critical to their credibility, and the respect they earn both internally and externally.

Yet, even top tier managers will privately admit they are not sure how to deliver more effective data packed presentations that contain fewer slides and more personality. They acknowledge that their PowerPoint driven presentations are too long, lack organization, substance, style and sometimes fail to provide perspective, context or direction. Sheepishly and slightly embarrassed, they divulge that this is the way it’s always been done and they’re afraid to leave out important information or personalize their presentations for fear of not being taken seriously.

While most communications coaches, including this one, will teach you to craft strong opens and closes, organize material, develop powerful messages, improve delivery and body language, you will be hard pressed to connect with higher ups if you do not learn how to appeal to their emotions. While your subject matter may be complicated and technical, you must put the content in context to make it relevant to the listener. By combining facts with emotional appeal, you will have a better chance of influencing perceptions and communicating your way to the top.

GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY

You know your business which is why you are speaking. So, stop trying to jam ten pounds of information into a two pound bag just to prove you know your stuff. Figure out how the facts and information bring relevance and value to your audience. If you’re talking technology, how will the technology save them time and money? If you’re presenting promising clinical data, how will the information eventually help a patient? Fewer injections? Lower doses? Reduced side effects? How will your work today improve someone’s quality of life in the future? Step out of your shoes and into theirs to address audience concerns.

DROWNING IN DATA

People remember impressions, not drifts of data. They remember how you made them feel. When we see stories about the December’s tsunamis, we don’t remember all of the facts. But, we’ll never forget the stories, the images and how we felt when we saw almost indescribable pictures of death and devastation. Make your facts and figures stronger by supporting them with real evidence such as powerful numbers, examples, anecdotes and visual images that leave a lasting impression.

STUMP THE CHUMP

It is almost inevitable that management will interrupt your presentation to ask a question. As distressing as this can be, they are not trying to stump you. Think of the question as an opportunity to address their concerns and use it as a stepping stone to repeat and reinforce key points or deliver additional information. It’s helpful to anticipate questions and prepare answers in advance.

REMEMBER THE THREE C’S

Obtaining the financing you need to grow your business might require delivering a financial presentation to investors before you can ask them for money. Delivering information and presenting the numbers is not enough. You must be Clear, Concise and Credible. You must quickly articulate what your business will provide, how the company will make money, what you are doing to address problems, anticipated hurdles and how your strategy will drive future profits.

NO ONE CAME TO SEE A SLIDE SHOW

Today’s business presenters often equate preparation to preparing a slide presentation. Visuals should reinforce what you say, not serve as your script. Don’t read the slide! Audiences are looking to you to make sense of information. Prepare your presentation first. Then develop visuals that support your key messages. Additionally, write in bullets or phrases to help you talk more and read less so you are free to look at people and engage them.

PET PEEVES

Senior executives are a bit like television reporters. They want you to get to the point…quickly. When they ask a question, they want the facts, not long winded answers. If they interrupt you in the middle of a slide to ask a question, they want you to answer the question and then move on instead of answering the question and repeating all of the information on the slide. Often, presenters over answer management questions to buy time, fill the silence or because they think a brief response is too simplistic. Less is more still holds true. Long answers frequently dilute messages, lack examples and open the door for unwanted questions.

DON’T DULL IT DOWN

I once worked with a pharmaceutical company that had a terrific opportunity to excite a New York Times reporter about a promising medication. Instead of offering compelling case histories and sharing impressive results, the doctors bored the reporter with endless diagrams and medical flow charts that meant nothing to his audience. He never wrote the story. Step away from your expertise to put the information in perspective. Instead of tackling tactics and strategies first, start by presenting the significance of the problem so they understand why the solution is so important. For example: “For nearly 20 million people who suffer from depression each year, the holiday season can be an especially difficult time, resulting in time away from work, strained personal relationships and an inability to complete every day task.”

VOICE VISION WITH VOLUME

When you speak, you’re on! Even if it’s a small meeting, you want to project so your voice is strong and authoritative. We’ve worked with many people who are soft spoken and others who start out strong, but trail off at the end of a sentence. We advise visualizing a person in the back of the room straining to hear you. Speak to that person in an effort to better project. And, whenever possible, stand up to maximize the richness of your voice.

If you stop and think about it, you can probably recall a couple of memorable business presentations. What is it you remember? What did they have in common? Chances are these presenters were personable and energetic. They were able to quickly cut to the chase and repeatedly reinforce their key points. And, while they likely rehearsed their well thought out, organized, pre-planned and prepared remarks over and over again, they probably made you feel as if they were simply speaking off the cuff for your benefit.

Karen Friedman is the author of “Shut Up and Say Something: Business Communication Strategies to Overcome Challenges and Influence Listeners”(Praeger 2010) and the co-author of “Speaking of Success: World Class Experts Share Their Secrets”. Chief Improvement Officer at Karen Friedman Enterprises, Inc., her techniques to help business professionals become more powerful persuasive communicators have been applied on four continents. A professional communication coach and speaker, she is the winner of the prestigious 2011 Enterprising Woman of the Year Award, a former award-winning television news reporter and a political candidate. She can be reached at 610-292-9780 or by visiting www.karenfriedman.com

Logo-Five-Uses-for-One-Speech

Five Uses for One Speech


Logo-Five-Uses-for-One-Speech

5 Tips for writers and speakers to capitalize on their creative writings to increase visibility, authority, fame and money.

Taking the time to translate your talk into more mediums will increase your online audience, authority, and revenue.

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You Take Your Writing Seriously

Speakers take their speaking seriously. Their speeches are often the result of relentless research, writing, and word wrestling.  Some speakers spend days- even weeks- whittling their words with their Potent Pens to get it right. And then…the delivery! The applause. The accolades, praise and critique. And then it’s over. A great speech relegated to the trash heap of history. But for those of us who want to add longevity to our letters…and credence to our creativity there are solutions.

Why Bother?First, it’s valuable to as “Why bother?” I’ve spent all this time writing this speech…and now you’re saying to take even more time to convert it into all other mediums. If you’re looking to maximum the mileage of your message, taking the time to translate your talk into more mediums will increase your online audience and prominence, give you greater authority and credibility, and maybe even bring you fame and fortune.

Adapt Your Speech into a Presentation

1) Adapt your speech into a presentation.

Amplify your words with graphics in PowerPoint, Keynote, SlideRocket or SlideShare.

This article originated as a speech. And because I wanted to get more mileage out of it and put the concept to the test, I adapted it into a PowerPoint presentation. If you’ve got a great speech, it can easily be adapted into a graphically compelling presentation in PowerPoint, Keynote. Or put in on the web with narration and music with SlideRocket, or SlideShare. These presentation tools might actually help craft the speech’s core messages more effectively and efficiently.

Studies show…People remember 20% of what they hear…30% of what they see…but 50% of what they hear and see in combination.

If your speech is well-written and compelling, try submitting it to a few magazines or trade publications. Online media maybe a fast and easy way to get your message seen, but print media is still regarded as a testament to credibility and authority. There are still plenty of magazines hungry for fresh new content.

Magazine Article

2) Printed Article for a Magazine

Print Publications Provide Authority

If your speech is well-written and compelling, try submitting it to a few magazines or trade publications. Online media maybe a fast and easy way to get your message seen, but print media is still regarded as a testament to credibility and authority. There are still plenty of magazines hungry for fresh new content. Get a book in print on your topic and then watch your rankings rise.

Convert your speech to a YouTube Video

3) Video on YouTube

The World’s Third Most Visited Website wants YOU

The Third use of speech is to create a video and post it on YouTube. The fast and easy way is to set up a camera at your seminar, event, or toastmasters meeting, record your talk, and just and upload it to YouTube.

Another efficient and effective approach is to combine the presentation with a screen capture tool like Camtasia and narrate it as you play the presentation.

The approach I like to use is to export PowerPoint presentation as a series of JPG images. I then record the narration in an audio editing tool, and use a video editing tool like Adobe Premiere or After Effects to piece it together. This may take a bit more time, but the end result is a professional video.

And YouTube gets noticed; an average of 3 billion videos are viewed a day. And hundreds of people in their partner program are making 6-figure-incomes. Convert your speech to a video and suddenly you’re talking to a whole other market!

Convert Your Speech to a Website

4) Article on YOUR Website / Blog

Spread your word…for fun or profit

If you’re serious about writing or sharing your opinion, it’s helpful to have a website…your own “blog” or digital forum to share your ideas, insights and images. Your speech can be re-purposed with a few tweaks to find a friendly new home on your website. (Or maybe your speech started as an article on your website).

Discussion on Facebook

5) Discussion on Facebook, LinkedIn, PR-Log, or other Social Media Site

Repurpose with a level of objectivity can increase authority

Transforming your topic into a objectively-written story can help elevate your website rankings, and help get your name out there as an expert in your field. Facebook remains the second-most visited website. Great for light and consumer-friendly-topics. LinkedIn has a many social forums and groups for publishing helpful content.

Good Quality Content

Meaningful and Purposeful Content

Convert your talk and impact the entire planet

Ultimately what makes a good speech are the same elements that will make a great video, article or blog entry is good rich content. Words with meaning and purpose that we can all connect with.

This topic was born out of a desire for a short speech. Here it is as an article…and available as a video, blog, and SlideRocket presentation.

By converting your speech and its message into various mediums, your gain new audiences, new appeal, and new power. If it sticks, you can move forward in various venues and watch your influence as a writer / speaker / and influence as an expert in your field grow.

Ultimately the quality of any medium is a result of the quality of the content. Find your favorite talk and put it out there in a multitude of mediums for the world to see, hear, and experience. And Five Uses for One Speech will have an impact on the entire planet.

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Kevin Lerner is a presentation consultant and expert on presentation design and delivery. His firm, The Presentation Team, has helped hundreds of companies and individuals to create world-class presentations.

 

 

IM - Steve Jobs died

Steve Jobs’ Presentation Power


One person’s perspective on the life of Steve Jobs.  And how his simple presentations style changed the way we communicate.

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IM - Steve Jobs diedI was walking in the neighborhood where I live in Delray Beach Florida this past Wednesday around 8:30pm Wednesday Night when I got a text message from my partner Rudy. “Steve Jobs passed away.”

Wow. I stopped my walk and paused and as I looked at the message on my iPhone I realized that I was reading of the death of the very inventor of my phone and a revolutionary in communications.

Steve had an Simplicity and Elegance.

From his products to his presentations, he worked hard to make everything…easy.

Steve Jobs giving a presentation on stage

From the first Apple computer to the MacIntosh…to the iPod, iPhone, IPad, and the first computer animated movie, Jobs revolutionized technology. Making it personal and personable.

He presented to the common person like a common person. But Steve Jobs’ impact on the world extended well-beyond his role as an inventor…but as a communicator. A world class presenter. But first, let me share a bit about my history with Steve Jobs and how his Apple inventions have impacted our world!

 

I was introduced to Apple computers in 1983.

Kevin Lerner in Middle School9th grade – 13 years old, I worked with an elite group of young geeky middle school kids in Mr. Zatrock’s computer class. Some of us were Apple fans. The more serious kids and programmers hailed the IBM PC as the computer of the future. Like most geeky teens, I decorated my room with geeky guy stuff…including my Apple ][e. I loved connecting with my computer friends online through my 1200 baud modem on Compuserve.

The Apple Mac: Too Simple!

First Apple Macintosh - Too Simple!In 1984 the Apple Macintosh burst onto the stage. Most praised it as a computer for the common person. Simple and easy. But to me, and many of my computer friends, we felt it was too basic. Like a toy.

Straying from Apple to seek power with Windows

Kevin Lerner working with Windows instead of MacAnd so I strayed from Apple. And found my niche with Windows. Even to this day, I still feel more comfortable, and in control, with the Operating System pioneered by Bill Gates. With the features of Windows, I felt like a power user, able to get under the hood and tinker wtih the computer to create anything.

But one of the prime reasons I worked in Windows was a presentation program called PowerPoint. We could easily create great looking visuals and then “print” them to 35mm slides. Plus, everyone else in the business world in the mid-90s created their presentations with PowerPoint in Windows! And the vast majority of computers sold today run on the Windows Operating System.

The Mac: A Clever Curiosity

Kevin and Neil at Apple StoreTo me, the Mac was a clever curiosity. But many of my friends were die-hard fans….including Neil. In 2005 we visiteda a Mac Store to get my PC to transfer files to his Mac. But despite my cynicism, the Mac was gaining prominence and presence in creative circles.

2005: Keynote makes presenting on a Mac powerful

Apple Keynote Presentation with Steve JobsBut it wasn’t until 2005 when Apple rolled out Keynote that people started to take notice of Apple as a Powerful Presentation Product. The graphics were clean and simple, providing an poetic backdrop for Steve Jobs as he gracefully presented Apple’s earnings. And people took notice.

Including Al Gore. The Former Vice President called on my friend and colleague Nancy Duarte to develop his visuals for his presentations on Global Warming. The talk became a movie and Apple’s prominence in the presentation market was solidified.

Presenting from the Palms of our Hands

Presenting from an iPhoneAnd when the iPhone was released, everyone had the power to create and deliver presentations from the palm of our hands. The iphone even serves as a remote control when playing a Keynote presentation.

Now I’m not the only person to call Steve Jobs a brilliant communicator. My colleague Carmine Gallo wrote a best-selling book in which he shared the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs. He says it’s vital that before starting to design a presentation, you should think it through, sketch it out, and brainstorm the ideas. Avoiding bullet points is also a critical component. And…practice, practice, practice. Mr. Jobs, Gallo says, would rehearse and practice for hours before any major speech.

 

Insights based on Steve Jobs’ presentations

Here are a few other ideas that I’ve seen over the years- not just with Steve Jobs- but with any great presenter.

Clean Simple Sentences.

You are the speaker, the center of attention. Not your words. The words are there to reinforce your messages…not as a script.

Look Common.

Steve Jobs was legendary for his common appearance…and his common speak. He dressed in a simple black turtleneck sweater, and wore every-day bluejeans. I’m not saying that professional attire is no longer in-vogue. I’m encouraging you to connect with your audience and reflect your inner persona or corporate brand.

Show it. (Rather than say it)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Stock art, video, and custom illustrations are easier than ever to find…and terrific tools to support a speech. Or call on a presentation professional. We make our money designing great graphics that support potent points.

Dream and Believe.

Your concepts and messages exist in the ethos of your mind. Presentation tools make it easier than ever to transform vision into reality. Steve Jobs knew the power of presentations…and great communications. He dared to dream and forge a fantastic future. We all have this within us. His technology and presentation skills are a gift that will live on…and allow millions of others- including you and me- to dream and believe…and reach the stars.

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Kevin Lerner is a presentation consultant and expert on presentation design and delivery. His firm, The Presentation Team, has helped hundreds of companies and individuals to create world-class presentations.

Speaking about Speaking: Toastmasters International

Toastmasters International Logo

lnternational group’s mission: Improve speaking skills and leadership qualities

Toasmasters SpeechEvery Friday precisely at noon from a small dining room in the back of Duffey’s sports bar in Boynton Beach Florida, someone bangs the gavel five times. To the group of 30 men and women that have gathered for the weekly luncheon meeting of the Bill Gove Golden Gavel Toastmasters Club, it’s a signal to get down to the business of speaking. For the next 60 minutes, the members will learn, laugh, and work toward the common goal Toastmasters International: improve communications and leadership skills.

Founded in 1924, Toastmasters International has helped over 4 million people to become more confident speakers and leaders. Today, over 270,000 Toastmaster members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 13,000 clubs that make up the global network of meeting locations.

For this local Florida chapter on this rainy Friday, Toastmaster Ed Lamont starts the meeting by standing at the front of the room and leading the group in a Pledge of Allegiance. Looking relaxed yet professional, Lamont- an experienced speaking professional with a Distinguished Toastmasters Certification- presents a brief introduction of the forthcoming meeting and then hands control of the meeting to Becky Woodbridge for “Table Topics,” ten minutes of improvisational speeches.

Table Topics: Impromptu speeches cultivate fast thinking and snappy delivery

Wearing a long pink coat, and leather boots, Topicmaster Becky looks like she’s dressed for winter. Becky starts by sharing that she is dressed this way because in her travels as a flight attendant, she has noticed the changing colors of the leaves. Fall is here. And for the next ten minutes, she calls on several members to give a brief improvisational speech relevant to her seasonal topic of Fall.

“What is your favorite part of Fall?….Share Ross!”

To a round of thunderous applause the young long-haired musician leaps from her chair and happily walks to the front of the room to shake Becky’s hand. Share begins her short speech by saying that as a Floridian, she has “no experience” with Fall. So she deviates from the topic to tell the story about the time she was performing at a concert, and was FallING off the stage. At two minutes, a designated timer turns on the red light and Share concludes to laughter and rousing applause, and then hands control back to Becky for several more short seasonal stories.

Today, Table Topics is fun and jovial, but it’s an essential element of any Toastmasters meeting, offering valuable practice and skills in speaking with poise and professionalism. Some speakers have refined their improvisational speaking skills to compete in national speaking competitions.

“Table Topics helps me to think on my feet quickly and creatively on the spur of the moment,” says Becky. She adds that the extemporaneous delivery has improved, and she’s gained more confidence while speaking than when she first started with Toastmasters one year earlier.

After Table Topics, Topic Master Becky hands control of the meeting back to Toastmaster Ed, who transitions to the formal prepared speeches.

Prepared Speeches: Writing and Speaking Refined

Prepared Speeches at ToastmastersThe prepared speeches are the backbone of Toastmasters International. Guided by any one of a dozen “manual speeches,” Toastmaster members work on their own time to write, rehearse, and deliver a speech on any topic. The manuals provide direction and structure for each speech. Some speeches are designed to be informative. Some are persuasive. Others are humorous. All speeches give members a chance to flex their creative muscle, sharpen their speaking, and refine their delivery. The entry-level manual, “The Competent Communicator” consists of ten speeches, each of which is typically five to seven minutes. The manual’s first speech is called The Ice-Breaker, designed to have members share a bit about themsleves.

Like a professional emcee at the Academy Awards, Toastmaster Ed smoothly segues from one speaker to the next, introducing each of the speakers, and quipping a comment. His presence provides flow and movement; learned skills which can be integrated to any professional environment to amplify presence, delivery, and professionalism.

Evaluations provide feedback and improvement opportunities

But the speakers at Toastmasters are not just speaking for fun; they’re speaking to succeed. Each speech is critiqued by an Evaluator, who speaks for two to three minutes, providing immediate feedback, analysis, and input. This “Oreo sandwich” method encourages evaluators to buffer their bite from becoming too abrasive with their critique. Praise and accolade, then a few points for improvement, then overall praise again.

In addition to the evaluator, each Toastmasters meeting has a designated “Ah Counter” who keeps track of crutch words and filler words. These words- “Um”…“ahhh”…“you know”…“like” diminish from any speakers’ delivery. By eliminating these empty words, anyone can sound more polished, professional, and in-control…even in casual conversation. In some Toastmasters clubs, Ah Counters ring a bell our sound a buzzer when a speaker utter the ums. Others simply keep a log. Toastmasters are encouraged to simply “pause” or say nothing when they can’t think of the right word to say.

And to keep speakers within their allocated time, all meetings have a designated “Timer” who tracks time and provides signals to each speaker when their time is nearly complete.

Fueling the fire of success since 1924

Ralph SmedleyUltimately, good communications drives success. Since 1924 when Ralph Smedley led the first meeting of what eventually became Toastmasters International, the group has helped millions of people to their members to speak powerfully, listen effectively, gain valuable leadership skills and develop self-confidence and overcome shyness or fear. In today’s challenging economic times, the skills gained at Toastmasters help its members gain a clear competitive edge.

To the members of the Bill Gove Golden Gavel Toastmasters Club, their group is much more than just improving speaking skills. It’s helped to forge friendships, build businesses, and fuel the fire of success.

“Toastmasters has become a second family for me; a home away from home,” explains Chim Francisco. Chim travels over 60 miles every Friday to attend this club, empowered by the supportive network of colleagues, all focused on self-improvement. “Toastmasters provides a tried and proven pathway to personal and professional development – one project at a time!” she enthusiastically declares.

And she’s doing it. In just nine months, the petite 37-year-old from Bacolod City, Philippines has rocketed to the top in her club, quickly completing her Competent Communicator manual, and now working on an Advanced Communicators Bronze Certification.

Speaking into the future

Chim is reflective of the new generation of Toastmasters. The organization- which as been criticized for being stodgy and old-fashioned- is adapting to changing times. They recently updated their brand with a contemporary logo and a renewed emphasis on helping its members improve their leadership skills. The group is also broadening their focus on mentoring and technology, with more articles on their website focused on better use of PowerPoint, as well as encouraging the use of technology as an enabler for more powerful communications.

Leadership is an increasingly desired commodity

In today’s interconnected world of technical freedom, commanding control of a group at a conference or business environment is a valued commodity. Toastmasters is helping increase leadership skills by providing training and mentorship. This increased focus on leadership can translate to improved performance on the job or in the world in general.

Matt Kinsey says that Toastmasters has been invaluable to him and many of his colleagues for helping achieve success, both personally and professionally.

“Toastmasters is a ‘leadership laboratory’ where you learn your basic skills of leadership. It’s a great environment to fail and make mistakes,” explains Kinsey, an IT business consultant, and also Toastmaster District 47’s Lieutenant Governor of Education and Training.

“HR managers today are looking for people with strong leadership skills…people who have been through the ROTC or similar programs. Toastmasters helps people to become stronger leaders”

Toastmaster Receiving a Trophy And Toastmasters International is a recognized force in the professional world, it’s helped to cultivate some of the world’s best known leaders and celebrities. From actor Leonard Nimoy to TV celebrity Chris Matthews, the attraction for self-improvement is compelling. It’s a diverse tapestry of men and women of all ages and backgrounds around the world. Each has a story to share, and a desire for self-improvement or connection.

It’s 12:55pm, and the Bill Gove Golden Gavel club is wrapping up their meeting. Toastmaster Ed is asking for volunteers for the next week’s meeting. Camaraderie (or peer pressure?) prevail and in a few moments all the meeting roles are filled. The group is wrapping up exactly on time at 1pm. Most members shake hands, say goodbye to drive home in the rainy weather in the Sunshine State to continue their day.

In the shadow of a great speaker

Back in the restaurant, the club’s president Ed Lamont lingers a bit longer, working to remove the group’s ribbon-laden banner from the wall, restoring the room to its sports-bar normalcy. Lamont says that Mr. Bill Gove, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 89, would be proud not only of the group he helped to foster, but the growth of Toastmasters and popularity of speaking, in general. For the members of his namesake group…and for Toastmasters around the world, Gove’s legacy and vision lives on.

Whether it’s just about meeting a new friend, or accomplishing great new skills, Toastmasters International continues its mission to help people achieve new heights and accomplish greatness.

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