It’s a good public speaking practice to inspect speaking venues before you deliver your presentation. Where will you stand? Where will your audience be? What AV equipment is available? Where will your laptop go? Do you have the right connections for your laptop? Will you need a microphone?
Checking out the room layout and the AV equipment is important for practical reasons. But there are also psychological reasons to do a site inspection. I like to do my inspections several days in advance so that I can visualize the location and become comfortable with it in my mind.
If you cannot do an inspection days in advance, come to your presentation an hour or so early. That way, you have some time to become comfortable with the room and the available equipment. If something needs to be fixed, moved or changed, you have some time to do that.
Doing a site inspection is a great way to avoid pitfalls and also a good way to see if your site offers any opportunities. Even if you are presenting in your own office building, make sure you are familiar with the room where you will be presenting and make sure you are comfortable operating all the technology.
Fumbling around trying to find out how to adjust the lights or get the sound to play on your video can ruin an otherwise great presentation.
When you take time to do a site inspection, you will be that much closer to having a great presentation. Make it part of your routine and you will present like a polished pro.
Asking your audience a “by show of hands” question just might be the most engaging type of question you can ask and one of the most powerful tools you have available as a public speaker or business presenter.
Here are some of the reasons why “show of hands” questions are so engaging:
First, like all questions, the audience has to think about their answer (provided you word it correctly and pause to give audience members adequate time to think).
Second, the audience has to involve themselves physically (granted it’s not calisthenics, but there is some physical motion involved).
Third, it engages audience members with one another as they look around to see who has their hands up and who doesn’t. Ask a question like “by show o hands, how many parents do we have?” and you’ll see audience members form instant bonds with one another.
Watch Out for These Mistakes
“Show of hands” can be very engaging, but here are a few things to watch out for so your question doesn’t backfire:
First, make sure the question is worded clearly so audience members are crystal clear about how to respond.
Second, make sure you take the time to see how many hands are up and report the results to the audience with a comment. Think of the “by show of hands” question as a real-time poll. Like a poll, you’ll want to note the results, report the results back to the audience and analyze the findings. “Ah, I see about half of you are parents. That’s about typical for working people.”
Third, don’t rush it. I’ve seen many presenters ask for a show of hands but then charge on with their presentation before they’ve even counted the results of their query. This leaves an audience feeling a bit cheated and audience members are left thinking: “He didn’t even take the time to look at my answer. I hadn’t even got my hand up yet and he moved on. I guess he didn’t really even care about the answer.”
If you’re going to ask the question, take the time to get the answer. You and your audience will be glad you did.
It was the day before a big workshop that I was presenting and the unspeakable was happening – my throat was getting sore and my voice completely gave out a few times. Would I awaken the next morning with full blown laryngitis? Would I be able to speak for three hours or would I have to cancel? What could I do?
As is my custom, I had a backup plan for everything – everything that is except for my voice being reduced to a mere whisper. However, I had a secret weapon – my wife, Maribel, and one of her home remedy Filipino concoctions called Salabat tea.
The taste of Salabat is not exactly my cup of tea, but the effect was just what the doctor ordered. I sipped on the tea throughout the night and rested my voice as much as I could. With each swallow, the brew produced a slight burning sensation in my throat and that made me feel like something good was happening.
The next morning, I was able to speak with confidence and finish the three-hour workshop with all of my vocal cords playing in harmony.
And so, I offer the recipe for this enchanted elixir to public speakers and business presenters everywhere.
Here’s how to make Salabat: Pour 4 cups of water in a covered saucepan and bring to a boil. Peel and cut a 6-inch or so ginger root into thin slices and put them into the boiling water. Add ¼ cup of raw honey. Squeeze a fresh lemon into it. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain the ginger root slices out and serve hot. Sip away. If your tea begins to cool, zap it in the microwave. Keep it hot but drinkable.
So, there you have it. May you be well and may you speak well. Cheers!
We’ll be saying goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019 before you know it. If you have a fear of public speaking, 2019 can be the year you put that fear in your rearview mirror. If public speaking is holding you back in any way, why not make improving your presentation skills your New Year’s Resolution? It can certainly help make your 2019 more prosperous.
We’re teaming up with the Phoenix Business Journal to help you get 2019 started off right. We’ll be offering a workshop at the Better Business Bureau from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23.
Exclusive Discount: Use promo code PAUL to get a 20% discount off. Our workshops with the Business Journal always sell out so make your reservation now.
This is the perfect chance to make head into 2019 with the confidence to speak up and the skills to stand out!
Most business public speaking isn’t done from a podium on a stage. Most business presentations are done in conference rooms, in boardrooms, by speakerphone, or Go to Meeting webinars. Some presentations are done by teams or in panels.
Here are a variety of previous blog tips to help you navigate these real-life business presentation opportunities:
Have you ever had to make a business presentation for remote colleagues over speakerphone? Despite all the whiz-bang technologies available, it’s still common to hold business meetings via speakerphone and doing so present challenges for a presenter.
Audiences cannot see your facial expressions or gestures, and they may not have a high-quality speaker system to hear you.
Here are eight tips to help you deliver a better speakerphone presentation:
Test the sound quality on your end before you start. Are you close enough to the speakerphone? Are there any distracting noises on your end that can be eliminated?
Encourage speakers who are not speaking to put their phones on mute.
If you typically speak fast, speak slower than you would before an in-person audience. Use simple words. Make complex ideas simple.
Consider sending handouts before the meeting so that participants can follow along. You may want to include a good picture of yourself with these handouts so that participants can put a face with your voice.
Be careful with dry humor and sarcasm. This type of humor could be easily misconstrued without visual cues.
Be careful with open-ended questions. It’s easy for people to talk over each other. Consider calling on each person by name for comments and questions.
Be careful with interjections. In person, it’s nice to interject with “uh-hum” or “I see” to let the speaker know you’re listening. But, speakerphone microphones typically only let one person talk at a time and these injections can cause the sound to cut in and out. Instead, listen silently until they are done talking.
If you’re using a conference bridge service to host the call, understand how to use all the technology that is available to you. Can you mute non-speaking lines? Can you take polls? Can you record the conversation and make it available later to those who missed the meeting?
Following these tips will help your speakerphone presentation be more effective. What tips would you add? Please share in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.
From my experience speaking in front of hundreds of audiences, I have learned that stories are memorable because of the images and emotions contained in the story. The lesson of the story sticks because it’s embedded in an image. The image isn’t a still picture; it’s a motion picture, a movie.
Let’s test my theory. Take a moment now to think about a movie that you first saw over 10 years ago, prior to the year 2000. Have you identified your movie? Now, what do you remember when you recall this movie?
I bet that the first thing that came to your mind was an image or a scene. You remember the actors, their clothes, the location, the situation, and the emotions. You can see these images as easily now as you did when you were watching the movie.
What you remember next is dialogue. But compared to how vividly you remember the images, you probably don’t remember much of the dialogue. Your brain remembers pictures first. It then remembers the emotional context, and finally, it remembers language.
Stories are Memorable
In his book, “Brain Rules,” molecular biologist John Medina explains this phenomenon. “When the brain detects an emotionally charged event, the Amygdala releases dopamine into the system. Because dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing, you could say it creates a Post It note that reads, ‘Remember this.’”
That explains why audience members who saw me tell a story in a keynote over 10 years ago approach me like I’m a long lost friend and say, “I still remember your airport story.” But it’s what they say next that proves the effectiveness of my Story Theater Method as an essential storytelling skill. With a smile on their face, they say, “I’m still looking for the limo.”
“Look for the Limo” is the branded point of the story. I call it a Phrase That Pays. Because they remember the story, they remember the point. When they remember the point, it becomes actionable.
Most people who have ever given a speech, run a business meeting or tried to sell a product or service will tell you that stories are more memorable than facts and data. In my experience, the story is essential if you want people to remember any of your content.
Making an Emotional Connection
In his book, “Mirroring People,” Marco Iacoboni asks, “Why do we give ourselves over to emotion during the carefully crafted, heartrending scenes in certain movies? Because mirror neurons in our brains re-create for us the distress we see on the screen.”
At last I’ve found a scientific explanation to explain what I’ve been teaching for the last 20 years – mirror neurons. We don’t just listen to stories; we see images and feel emotions. We actually experience the story as if it’s happening to us.
Daniel Pink says, “Stories are easier to remember because stories are how we remember. When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.”
In other words, when you tell a story and make a point, you make an emotional connection. When you make an emotional connection, you and your story are memorable.
ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER
Doug Stevenson, CSP, works with salespeople, leaders, professional speakers, trainers and fundraisers to help them make a point, teach a lesson or sell a product or service. He has delivered storytelling keynotes and training in 17 countries and has coached over 800 individuals who want to take their storytelling skills to the next level.
Our “3 Steps to Own Any Room” public speaking skills workshop sponsored by the Phoenix Business Journal is sold out so we’ve added a new one. The new workshop will be held Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Phoenix Central Library, from 10 a.m. to noon.
In this workshop, you will discover:
Secrets to having an executive presence
Tips to deliver a polished presentation
A formula to capture your audience’s hearts
How to make your conclusion sizzle not fizzle
The workshop is free to current and past coaching clients. General admission is $30. Seating is limited to the first 12 signups.
If done correctly, there is tremendous power in thanking your audience at the beginning of a presentation.
But for many public speakers and business presenters, this becomes a missed opportunity. How often have you heard a speaker begin a presentation with something like this: “I would like to start by saying thank you for having me. When I got the invitation to speak here, I was thrilled. I am truly honored for this opportunity to speak to you.”
Notice how many times the word “I” or “me” is used in that introduction vs. how many times the word “you” or “we” is used. The “I/me” to “you,/we” count is 5-2. The words seem humble enough, but the point of view is all about the speaker, not the audience.
A good presentation — one that really connects and engages — is always all about the audience.
Here’s the secret: Before thanking your audience offhandedly, give some serious thought to exactly what you are thanking them for. What effort did they take to be there? Did they take time out of their busy day or forgo something else in their lives in order to attend? Did they travel from a great distance to be there? Why are they there?
Doping a little research and thinking about your audience will get you focused on delivering a thank you that connects with them.
I recently shared this advice with a friend who was speaking at a 5:30 p.m. public event. He began his remarks with this: “Thank you for coming today. I know some of you had to rush from work to get here. And I know some others of you had to make childcare arrangements in order to attend. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t think this issue was important. I know that working together, there is a lot we can accomplish. So thank you all for coming.”
This time, the “I/me” to “you,/we” count is 3-6. More importantly, the point of view is all about the audience.
As my friend was giving his audience-centric thank you, I saw heads nodding in the audience. Others who were sitting back in their chairs started to lean forward. My friend was engaging the audience because he was speaking directly to them.
Connecting Right Away
It’s important to connect with your audience right away because you might not get a second chance. Smartphone technology has made it easier than ever for audiences to tune out. If you can’t capture their attention in the first two minutes, your audience may never hear all the great things you have to say in your presentation.
An audience-centric thank you is a great way to get your presentation off to a great start.