Posts Tagged ‘Speaker’

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Achieving Greatness Through Quotations


Discover how quotations can add life and depth to a talk, lending credibility and authority…and open new doors to your speech and writings.

“A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority.”

Brendan Francis

quotation-markQuotations have always fascinated me. As a child, I spent hours upon hours reading my parent’s copy of the Bartlett’s Book of Quotations. It gave me insights and intrigue. Words from famous people I had only heard or read about in school.

George Washington: “It is better to be alone than in bad company.”

Or Thomas Edison: “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.”

So when I was called on recently at a Toastmasters Meeting to deliver an improvisational talk about dealing with the good and bad of life, I was prepared with a clever quote. Or so I thought. The “Tabletopics Master” singled me out to address “the meaning of life.” I boldly stood and delivered a meaningful message from memory.

“The tragedy of life is not that we wait so long to begin it but that we wait…” No.

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but we begin it too late…” No.

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” Yes!

Yes, three times to deliver those simple words, and by the time the correct quote trickled off my tongue, the meaning was lost. Everyone was focused on how I was saying it than what I was saying.

I believe quotations are the icing on a cake for a good talk. Great leaders, politicians, businesspeople, and entertainers, weave them into their words. Indeed, “we stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Quotation_Marks_on_Glass_DoorQuotations add life and depth to a talk, lending credibility and authority. Research and insight. They can open new doors to your speech. And these quotations need not be only words by famous people. They can be lines from movies. Lyrics from songs. Quotes from poems. Statistics from studies.

“In the magazine Science, it was reported last year nearly 45,000 people died in auto collisions, the equivalent of a fully loaded passenger jet crashing with no survivors every day for a year. If everyone wore seat belts, more than half of these deaths could have been avoided.”

This is a jarring statistic! And notice the imagery used in conjunction with the statistics. If properly assembled and presented, statistics and quotations can be powerful verbal tools. Quotes add meat to a speech or article in many ways. Here are four:

  1. They add dimension and richness to a speech, injecting your talk with a unique perspective, refreshingly different from your standard speaking style.
  2. They show your talk has been well-researched…not just something quickly crafted and rattled off the tip of your tongue.
  3. They add credibility to you and your talk, especially if you’re quoting a well-known and admired historical figure.
  4. They reduce the amount of individual creativity you – as a writer – need to create. This article is only 66% my own content; the other 33% is only borrowed.

Combine the words “wise old man,” and the images of a bearded sage speaking softly to a young man comes to mind, offering words of wisdom.

Quotations-Qs“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

“Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language.”
Samuel Johnson

This is not to say that quotations are not universally adored and treasured. When asked about the impact of quotes in writing and speaking, Ralph Waldo Emerson rattled, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

W. Somerset Maugham was a bit more biting:
“She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.”

Quotes resurrect a person, place, or time. And as speakers or presenters, we should strive to frame them in their original context. Act them out, put them in an overly dramaticized style. Amplified accents. Distinct delivery. If you’re using visuals or a PowerPoint, put the quote on screen, along with the attributed person’s photo, name, and lifespan.

Perhaps my strongest point about using quotes in speeches is that they should be well-rehearsed. Memorized. Prepared and in-context. I would love to be able to just rattle-off quotes like wise leaders like Winston Churchill or Bill Clinton. Or snappy comebacks like some witty Hollywood comedians.

To master this craft of “quotations in speaking” takes attitude, practice and time.

You can find thousands of quotes on attitude. Here’s a favorite of mine by Lou Holtz: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

And on the subject of practice: “If practice makes perfect, and no one’s perfect, then why practice?”

Time and again, read these quotes, recite them. Pin them up in your office walls, see them, repeat them. Live them. The words of the leaders of the past can be reborn and requited by the leaders of today.

Leonard-Bernstein-West-Side-StoryComposer and musician Leonard Bernstein has always an icon to me. As a child, I loved his music from West Side Story (together with Stephen Soundheim), and would sing the poetic lyrics of this popular musical from the 1950s. As I work to build my professional speaking career, and The Presentation Team, I am often kept focused and on-track by this simple single quote by Mr. Bernstein…something that we can all relate to, as we strive for greatness in our increasingly busy world. I could easily share a few personal insights on what I think it takes to achieve greatness. But isn’t it more powerful to hear words resurrected…quoted…from someone who isgreat? In the words of Leonard Bernstein:

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”
Leonard Bernstein

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.

PowerPoint Examples - Dr. Soram Khalsa

Living Well…Well Presented


Dynamic New PowerPoint supports healthcare speaker’s workshops and seminars

Soram Khalsa’s Vitamin D Revolution clearly explained through updated PowerPoint presentation

PowerPoint Examples - Dr. Soram Khalsa

Soram Khalsa

Dr. Soram Khalsa is a modern-day messiah, presenting workshops and seminars on the vital value of Vitamin D.  Khalsa is a high-energy and respected speaker….but his presentation visuals lacked consistency and vitality.  So the expert of Vitamin D turned to the experts of Presentation Design to transform his basic PowerPoint presentation from bland and boring into a dynamic and high-impact presentation masterpiece. 

The presentation’s objecives were to support his seminars (visual aid) while build serving as a marketing tool to build his business. The presentation was contracted as an hourly billable project and involved graphical design with some content consulting.  It was created to be delivered in person, or via webinar.

The deliverables included:

  • Consultation and collaborative development/editing of core presentation content (key messages, bullet points, diagrams, etc.)
  • Development of a custom professional template (title and body masters), to reflect the presentation’s content and/or Dr. Soram and his Complementrix brand.
  • Establishment of a “presentation palette” defining the colors, fonts, and layout…to make the presentation more memorable.
  • Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a clean look with maximum effectiveness.
  • Clean and professional slide transition effects (fades and wipes).
  • Professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different operating systems.
  • High-impact stock graphics based on the presentation’s content + deep creative/ graphic artistry.

The presentation overhaul started with a fact-finding conversation to define the presentation’s five key objectives:

  • Define Present an overview/statistics of the deficiencies of Vitamin D
  • Showcase Dr. Soram’s expertise and credibility in this field, and highlight his book, while showcasing his personal story of how he overcame debilitating neck pain and health challenges.
  • Present facts and statistics of the value of Vitamin D and it can eliminate/cure diseases and “change your life”
  • Get his audience to take Vitamin D daily!

And then the 4-phase work project began:

Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4
  • Template Design
  • Graphic Look & Feel
  • Text Structure / Outline
  • Projector/Display Testing
  • Interviews and Research
  • Content Development / Writing
  • Photo Acquisition
  • Iterative edits
  • Transitions and Animations
  • Final Edits/Refinement
  • Coaching/Rehearsal
  • Testing and Sign-off 

The presentation’s design was based on a contemporary, bright and clean design style integrating imagery featuring sunlight, diversity, and health themes, while supporting his professional brand/image, Complementrix, and his “Vitamin D Revolution” book image.

The presentation design strategy involved:

  • Clean and professional imagery/graphics (portfolio, schematics, employees, concept art, etc.).
  • Process flow/numeric information and animations (tables, charts, and graphs).
  • Professional layout of iconic-themed graphics (rather than photos) integrating soft drop-shadows and clean-white borders.
  • Content development and consultation to create core messages, supported by graphics, with an effort to reduce bullet points and text-heavy slides.
  • Interactivity (main menu and hyperlinks to jump to key slides and graphics)…providing the presenter with the functionality to quickly jump to key slides, as directed by the viewers/audience.

PowerPoint Examples - Dr. Soram Khalsa - Slide 1

A clean, open, and contemporary PowerPoint template

Dr. Soram wanted a simple yet powerful to share his message about how Vitamin D helped him to cure his own medical issue of neck pain.  The light-blue template supported a brand of openness and lightness.  The imported images were enhanced with a Reflected Rounded Rectangle Picture Style.  For body text, we selected Myriad Pro Condensed as the body font because of its relaxed yet professional image.  Lucida Sans Unicode worked well as the title font, as it matched Dr. Soram’s other marketing material.  The body text was juxtaposed left margin, and appeared on mouseclick with soft fade animation.

 

PowerPoint Examples - Dr. Soram Khalsa - Slide 2

Bullets Kill. 

By converting a simple list of bullets into a 3D angled Smart Art block group, Dr. Soram was able to maintain his approach to multiple points…while creating a more memorable and impactful visual.  Rather than a vertical list of 11 items, 11 separate text boxes animate-in on mouse-click and eventually fill the screen while creating a feeling of quantity without boredom.

 

Presentation-Slides-Example-Soram-Khalsa-After3

Don’t just say it…show it. 

The heavy topic of obesity was best supported by a stock image of an overweight man on a scale.  The image was edited in Photoshop, the white background was removed and it was re-saved as a transparent PNG, and imported into PowerPoint.  By positioning the image to the right on the screen, the key message of the extra value of Vitamin D was comfortably balanced and memorably presented.

 

PowerPoint Examples - Dr. Soram Khalsa - Slide 4

Full screen graphics! 

Not all graphics need to be imported images.  This slide featured a full-screen image of a woman applying sunscreen.  The image was embedded within the frame of template and saved as a 1024×768 jpg image.  This full-screen visual sends a strong, creative, and memorable message, yet maintains a level of consistency and branding through grounded placement of the logo/template frame and Lucida Font.After 10 days of collaborative development, a winning presentation finally emerged.

Dr. Soram now has a dynamic PowerPoint presentation…helping to fuel his Vitamin D revolution.  The importance of living well…is now well presented.

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  • “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.”

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  • “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.”

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    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.”

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    General Electric

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    Saint Francis Medical Center

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    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!”

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