Posts Tagged ‘Improvement’

Pause-Symbol

Pause Power: Making your speeches sound more professional


The science and strategy of using pauses in speech and speaking to add drama, impact and power to delivery.

Discover how these small segments of silence can translate to large admiration and appreciation of audiences.

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”
Mark Twain

Pause-Symbol

The Pause is a verbal tool like no other. Suspense. Drama. Intrigue. Power. All promoted by the Pause.

Throughout history, the world’s great orators have known of and applied the power of the pause:

President Ronald Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev…Tear Down this Wall!”

Clint Eastwood in the movie Sudden Impact: “Go ahead; make my day”

Oprah Winfrey: “My constant prayer for myself is to be used…in service…for the greater good.”

Or President Bill Clinton: “I did not have sex with that woman… Monica Lewinsky”

By definition, the pause is “a hesitation or a temporary suspension of an action.”

Here are four potent points for pausing:

Slow our Speaking Rates

1. A Pause can slow our speaking rate.

Many speakers try to say too much in too short a time. Consequently they speak quickly, trying to fit everything into the allotted time. If you find yourself speaking too quickly, pause at the end of a sentence and take a breath. If you feel in need of a breath, your listeners or audience probably do too. Pause Power.

Like punctuation marks in writing, pausing punctuates our messages. When we pause we’re telling the audience that what we’ve just said is important. The pause doesn’t have to be long. Even two seconds can be a powerful way of emphasizing your message.

And yet the Pause is so under-used in today’s rapid-fire immediate feedback society. Fearful that our audience will become bored or disengaged if there’s a lull in conversation, people speak with a continuous output of oratory. Relentless ramble. Paragraph after paragraph. But put a pause in place…and there’s peace.

Give Us Time to Think

2. A Pause gives us time to think.

Sometimes the inevitable happens – you forget what you were going to say next. Rather than panic, pause and collect your thoughts. When you’re not sure what you were going to say next, pausing enables you to quickly retrace your previous words in your mind and figure out what the next logical step will be.

Don’t worry that your audience may think you’ve forgotten what you were going to say. If your speech has been going well so far, they’ll be happy to wait while you collect your thoughts. The chances are they may not even notice. Once you’ve started speaking again, the original statement often returns to your mind.

More Powerful than Um and Ah

3. A pause is more powerful than um and ah

Often we listen to a speaker with an interesting message, only to be distracted by constant ums and ahs. Sometimes it’s a sign of nervousness, sometimes it’s a sign of laziness. Often the speaker isn’t aware they’re doing it. Fillers such as um and ah can become a bad habit. As Toastmasters, we are groomed to listen for these fillers…and eliminate them in dialogue. But they’re everywhere! Celebrities, politicians, friends and family…kinda, you know, uhh..add these ah filers when they don’t know what to say. Silence is a stronger filler than those two silly words. So we’re at a loss for words, stay silent.

Adds Drama and Depth

4: A Pause can add Depth, Drama and Dimension to a talk.

Say it slowly…and with a pause….and the audience will listen with greater intrigue and interest. Let the message sink-in. Engage eye-contact during the delay. These are the subtle effects of a pause. A speech that’s short on time, can likely be amplified and extended by a well-placed powerful pause.

Notice that term “Well-placed.” I recently delivered a speech about Achieving Greatness through Quotations.” The talk was generally well-received …except for one critical listener who noted that my pauses were “unsubstantial.” “Kevin,” he said, “you were simply pausing to gather your thoughts.” Pauses…he went on to say, should be perfectly placed…and terrifically timed.

Placement, Impact, Implications

Indeed, as communicators, we should pay extra attention to the placement, impact, and implications of the Pause. Not only as we write our words and assemble our oratories…but in everyday conversation and interaction. Those small segments of silence can translate to large admiration and appreciation of audiences…who- whether they’re aware of it or not- might hear an otherwise ordinary talk as extraordinary. And that is true Pause Power.

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.

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Great Customer Service through a Great Presentation!

Speaker and business consultant Margie Seyfer transforms her PowerPoint presentation from Weak to Wow.

Margie SeyferMargie Seyfer is an acclaimed speaker and business consultant living in Colorado. For over two decades she has helped professionals to improve customer service and improve their bottom line. Her “Winning Women Customers” is a dynamic and informative program with compelling content about the differences of men and women…and what can be done to more effectively earn the business of women.. But the graphical design of the presentation was not as bold as Margie herself So Margie turned to The Presentation Team in March 2010 to transform her PowerPoint presentation from Weak to Wow.

The Enhanced Presentation Package provided an efficient and economical approach to transform Margie’s 40-page basic PowerPoint into a powerful presentation that matched the professionalism of her delivery.

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Because Margie frequently speaks to large groups at conventions, conferences and meetings, the visual design needed to be bold, graphical, and easy-to-be-read from the back of the room. Our design strategy focused on creating a look-and-feel that reflected Margie’s professionalism and her company brand and identity, while involving elements of people, speaking, a light-hearted approach to the differences of men and women. The 6 hour project involved…

  1. Development of a custom professional template (title and body masters), that reflects Margie’s professionalism and his company brand, while integrating her existing content.
  2. Re-working the overall look-and-feel of the presentation (light grey and white colors, Tahoma fonts, clean layout) for a more polished look.
  3. Clean and professional imagery/graphics (portfolio, schematics, people, concept art, etc.).
  4. Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a “cleaner” look with greater effectiveness.
  5. Clean and conservative slide transition effects (fades and wipe effect).
  6. Professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different computer systems.
  7. Consulting and collaboration to help Margie to refine and present new ideas.

Before:
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After:
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Statistics simply stated: Margie’s original PowerPoint slide featured a bland and boring blue background. The two statistical percentages were presented top-to-bottom, and interfered with the template’s sweeping arc. Although the yellow title supported the blue background, yellow is not a strong bold color.

The new template (inserted on the master slide as a background image) featured a light grey textured background, conveying a subtle and flowing theme of openness and modernism. The bottom arc at the bottom (inserted on the master slide as an image) was created in Photoshop to convey the message of women in business. The two percentages were moved left to right. The title color was converted to a more bold blue, and the font was converted to the more unique Calibri.
Before:
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Times New Roman is one of the most common fonts…but not the best for presentations. The “serifs” or edges of the letters often run together, creating a hard-to-read image. Margie’s original presentation lacked a consistent typeface throughout, and frequenly used this common but hard to read serif font. This slide featured an image at the bottom left of the page…separated from the core message of the slide. Our re-worked slide relocated integrated the title into the master slide, placed in the upper left in bold blue Calibri font. The photo was repositioned in the center left, and amplified with a rounded rectangle white border picture style. To help drive the key point of the differences of men and women, we changed the color of key words to 32-point in blue and red…and made the core point of the fact “not in all circumstances” in a 36-point green Calibri font.
Before:
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After:
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Statisics by bullet. These four statistics were simply presented in a line-by-line bulleted list. Again, the slide simply comes to life through integration into the template. But by taking the statistical information and integrating it into a table separated by varying shades of grey (rather than border lines), the information is cleanly presented. The percentages are amplified by larger font.
Before:
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The full-screen graphic was placed on the page as an imported graphic. Edges ran off the page, and a lack of a title left the slide without a comment or grounding. By adding a title with a transparent rectangular title block, Stan’s Automotive suddenly took on a new meaning. Additionally, the graphic was cropped, resaved as a JPG, and imported as a background image (rather than inserted as a standard image). This reduced file space and allowed for more flexibility.

After just three days and three rounds of edits, the presentation was success! Margie speaks frequently at conventions and business groups. Her style, delivery, eloquence- and now her great-looking PowerPoint slides help to captivate her audiences…while helping them to improve their customer service and bottom line!

* Margie Seyfer is a Presentation Team keynote partner.

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Financial Risk and Reward: PowerPoint Visuals that Make a Point

 

TD-Waterhouse-Logo-150w

The story of how Trevor Franklin of TD Waterhouse created a focused but impactful presentation to support his 20-minute “Building Trust in Financial Services” keynote speech for a local business group.

To help communicate the risks and rewards of investing in today’s uncertain financial market, Trevor Franklin of TD Waterhouse turned to The Presentation Team to create a focused but impactful presentation to support his 20-minute “Building Trust in Financial Services” keynote speech for a local business group.

Our mission: enhance his short PowerPoint with a limited budget and short time-frame. Our “Speedy Presentation Package”, was the perfect solution: a quick and easy approach to transform a basic PowerPoint into a get-noticed masterpiece.

Trevor was speaking to over 30 executives and potential clients at a local business seminar. The visual design needed to be bold, graphical, and easy-to-be-read from the back of the convention room. Our design strategy focused on creating a look-and-feel that reflected Trevor’s professionalism and TD’s brand and identity, while involving graphical elements of finance, and customer service. The 2 hour project involved…

  1. Integration of a stock template (title and body masters), that reflects Trevor’s professionalism and TD Waterhouse’s company brand, while integrating his existing content.
  2. Re-working the overall look-and-feel of the presentation (colors, fonts, layout) for a more polished look.
  3. Clean and professional imagery/graphics
  4. Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a “cleaner” look with greater effectiveness.
  5. Clean and conservative slide transition effects (fades and wipe effect).
  6. Professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different computer systems.
PowerPoint-Example-Before1-TDWaterhouse PowerPoint-Example-After2-TDWaterhouse
Before:
The original slide featured a flat white paper template. The graphical elements were weak, complicated, and busy. The title was integrated into the body of the page
After:
A clean and modern template helped add dimension and flow to the presentation. New bolder and more prominent graphics for the Japanese symbols for Crisis were implemented using Photoshop to add shadow and outlines. The title was moved to the upper left of the page.
PowerPoint-Example-Before3-TDWaterhouse PowerPoint-Slide-Example-After5-TDWaterhouse
Before:
Prior to our makeover, Trevor spent over 15 minutes on this single text-heavy slide, which focused on Five Explicit Needs of Risk and Reward.
After:
The Five Explicit Needs of Risk and Reward were presented in an overview list, and then each topic was presented in depth, one-by-one (below).
PowerPoint-Slide-Example-After6-TDWaterhousePowerPoint-Slide-Example-After7-TDWaterhousePowerPoint-Slide-Example-After8-TDWaterhouse

Rather than taking 2 minutes each for each of the Risk and Reward bullet points (as Trevor did in his original presentation), we created a separate slide for each of the give points. Now, the presentation graphics moved at a faster pace, and the audience had graphics to remember each of the key messages more effectively.

A quick fix and perfect presentation! After just two days and three rounds of edits, the presentation was success! Trevor presented to his business audience to applause and praise, and has generated several new business leads…in part thanks to a smooth delivery and great graphics from The Presentation Team!

 

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Bland and Boring PowerPoint transformed with technology template


The quick and simple solution that an executive at a large software company took to transform his PowerPoint presentation from boring to brilliant.

OracleCommunicating job responsibilities to new employees is a little easier thanks to Microsoft PowerPoint.  But for David Brooks of software giant Oracle Corp., the simplistic and amateurish look and feel of his 15-minute “Regional Manager Plan” PowerPoint presentation detracted from his effectiveness in explaining the company’s new strategic role for regional managers.  Brooks called on The Presentation Team for a quick and affordable transformation of his eight-page presentation into a more legible, powerful slideshow that would maintain Oracle’s brand identity and stand up well to projection as well as printout. 

The project was contracted as a rapid fixed-price/fixed time offering from The Presentation Team that allocates 95 minutes for development. 

In most slideshows, a quality template can go a long way in fortifying the look of a graphically weak presentation, especially those of a technical nature that lack an obvious image treatment. 

We began our makeover by working in Adobe Photoshop to create a compelling 1024 x 768 replacement template.  The template was designed to be modern-looking and clean with an element of flow of motion.  A light background was offset by a lighter white titl block at the top of the screen, where the title text appeared in red.  A 1024 x 50 pixel black bar spanned with the full width of the page, to hold the Oracle logo, which we moved from the bottom. 

Appearing large on the title page, and repeated smaller on the bottom right of the master template, we used a graphic of three square stock images – a handshake, a clock, and a chess piece – to signify partnership, time, and strategy, respectively. 

Four of the eight slides featured basic lines of text set in 16-point Arial.  We pulked up the text by revising it on the master template to the non-nonsense Franklin Gothic Medium Condensed (28-point).  Similarly, we changed the title font to the heavier Franklin Gothic Heavy Italic (32-point, all caps).

Originally, several slides featured flowcharts and text groupings that were conveyed weakly with lightweight arrows and black-bordered rectangles.  To add impact, we increased the width of the arrows.  For improved readability, square edges were rounded and drop shadows were added.  in the text blocks, we reversed the subheads over the black bars.  Next came the basic animation effects and transitions.  Finally, we reviewed the entire slideshow for textual consistency.

Invest the time to create a captivating title slide

BEFORE  AFTER
 oracle-presentation-before-1

 

 oracle-presentation-after-1

A flat white background with basic black text is all that would have greeted the audience as they assembled for this meeting.  Another thrilling corporate meeting.

The title slide typically remains on screen for longer than any other slide.  Investing the time to create a graphically exciting front-page helps set the stage for the talk to come.  This graphic – repeated smaller on the body pages – conveys a message of teamwork, timeliness, and strategy.

Increase contrast with bolder shapes and text

BEFORE AFTER
 Oracle Presentation - Before 2  Oracle Presentation - After

This basic flowchart lacks contrast, readability, and conceptual focus.

Creating a uniform size and shape of the text blocks helps to improve legibility.  The arrows have been converted to red with the line color removed.

Through thoughtful planning, file management and communication, this speedy overhaul helped to more effectively communicate company concepts while reinforcing the stability of Oracle’s brand.

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  • “We engaged The Presentation Team to do a Presentation training for our team and he did a great job. He spent time understanding our requirements and the skill level of our team members and created a course which met our expectations and goals. I highly recommend The Presentation Team as a Presentation (PowerPoint) trainer.”

    Navdeep Sidhu
    Senior Director, Software AG

  • “Kevin Lerner provided best-in-class services when hired to work on promotional materials for the launch of a key product at Motorola. The expertise and quality that he brought to the project were second to none and as a result, he delivered a top-notch presentation that was quickly adopted throughout the organization. Kevin is great to work with, delivers on time, is a great team player and is always willing to go the extra mile.”

    Maria Cardoso
    Motorola

  • “Kevin has been a working with Cox Communications to deliver world-class PowerPoint presentation visuals since 2009. His ability to meet our specific needs, timeframe, and budgets has been exceptional. His professional interaction with our team reflects his deep expertise in the industry, superior presentation design skills, and commitment to superior service.”

    Jonathan Freeland
    VP, Video Marketing at Cox Communications

  • “Kevin is an enthusiastic, creative, and passionate presentation guru. Our company was impressed and felt the value of his training in 2013 that he was invited again recently to again share his knowledge. Both times he has been energetic and addressed many areas for presentation development. From planning to follow-up Kevin is personable and easygoing, motivating our teams to take their presentations to the next level.”

    Yoshimi Kawashima
    Project Coordinator, Nissin International

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from tips & tricks to aesthetics, all with the intent of getting the message across crisply and creatively. I’ve already received praise for decks that incorporate the skills obtained from his training. I highly recommend Kevin’s services.”

    Era Prakash
    General Electric

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “The PowerPresentations seminar opened my eyes to all the limitless possibilities in presenting.”

    Leah Gordillo
    Saint Francis Medical Center

  • “Kevin helped me immensely improve my presentation slides development, from “[Kevin and The Presentation Team have] always delivered 110% in terms of meeting our objectives for finished product and budget”

    Paul Price
    Watsco Corp.

  • “I had more people come up to me after I spoke, commenting on the visuals you created, than I did on the subject matter!”

    Andy Smith
    Smith & Robb Advertising

  • “As a Fortune 1000 company, we sought to produce a classy, yet conservative presentation for our shareholders. It was evident that you and your team listened to our thoughts as you developed the presentation…”

    Will Flower
    Republic Services

  • “Your expertise in the filed of PowerPoint and general presentation techniques helped elevate us to the level necessary to beat the competition.”

    Mike Geary
    James Pirtle Construction

  • “Kevin brought a high level of creativity, enthusiasm, and deep multmedia experience to our team. He worked dillegently with the team to produce an outstanding proposal which we subsequently won.

    Jeff Keller
    Accenture/L3

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