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Phoenix Public Speaking coaching and workshops

Archive for business presentations

Speak Well Without a Script

 

How do you speak in a structured, conversational way, stay on point and on time, and do so without a script? This video unlocks the simple but powerful secret that can supercharge your public speaking and business presentation skills. Give it a tumble and let us know what you think.

Hey, keep your pants on!

 

A lot of tips have been written for Zoom hosts and presenters, but what about participants in the audience. You can’t hide in the back row like you can at an in-person meeting. Watch this video for some participant pitfalls to avoid during a Zoom meeting.

Don’t blow your credibility

 

In communication, especially personal communication like public speaking, credibility is everything. Want to know the fastest way to blow your credibility as a public speaker or business presenter? This video will tell you the pitfalls to avoid when making presentations.

You can drag and drop in Zoom

 

Did you know that you can drag and drop in Zoom? Do you know why, as a business presenter, you’d want to? This tip will help you to better connect with your audience on Zoom.

Winning Combo: Research + Anecdotes

Here’s the fastest way to become an expert on any topic that you need to speak on – research. Yes, solid research can give an immediate boost to the credibility of your business presentation or persuasive speech.

Pick credible sources for your research and be wary of advocacy groups that have a clear bias. My general rule is: the more controversial your subject is, the more credible your research sources need to be. If you do choose an advocacy group that is clearly on one side of an issue, make that clear and consider having a counter opinion from someone on the other side of that issue.

You don’t want to give a full citation in your presentation because, well, that’s just plain boring. However, you do want to mention the research you gathered in a conversational way, such as “According to the Centers for Disease Control …” or “I think Bob Burg had it about right when he said …”. This casual mention will let your audience know that you’ve done your homework.

Meanwhile, you do want to have the full citation at the ready in case members of your audience ask about it after your presentation has concluded. You may get a skeptic who wants to validate your source. Or, you may get someone who is excited about the citation and wants to share it with their colleagues.

Finally, consider this: A presentation with good research data but without a story to illustrate your point lacks emotion and makes it more difficult for your audience to connect with your point. The audience may be numb from all the data. Does that sound like any business presentations you’ve sat through? In contrast, a presentation with colorful personal anecdotes but without research data may lack context and may strain credibility. The audience may be left thinking “that’s your story, but what about everyone else?”

So, what’s a poor presenter to do? Here’s the winning combo: Combine your research data with personal anecdotes. It might go something like this: “So, now that you’ve heard my story, you may be wondering how this issue affects people nationwide. Let’s look at the data.”

Now that’s a powerful 1-2 punch. Boom!


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Equipment to Look and Sound Your Best to Engage a Virtual Audience

By Paul Barton
Principal Consultant

Lights, camera, action! If you’re going to present frequently in a virtual world, you need to look and sound your best to be an engaging speaker. That may require an equipment upgrade to get the right look and sound.

When the COVID-19 virus hit and the lockdowns began, like most everyone, I had to pivot quickly. I had been a public speaking coach on the move. With my rolling computer bag and MacBook Pro laptop, I went from client to client, from Starbucks to Starbucks. When my home office suddenly became my sole place of business, I tried several “do it yourself” solutions to look and sound professional. I experimented with lighting, green screens, and the built-in equipment, but I just couldn’t get the quality I needed to be an effective presenter.

Eventually, I decided to make the investment to upgrade my equipment. I wanted high-quality but budget-friendly equipment. And once I made the switch, it became one of those decisions where I thought, “Why didn’t I do this before?”

I have since qualified as an eSpeakers Certified Virtual Presenter and I’m now fully prepared to present high-quality virtual workshops for corporate teams or virtual conferences.

The following are the equipment choices I made for a total of $347. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no one is compensating me in any way for these endorsements.

> Lighting: After consulting with my professional photographer friend, Patrick Rapps, I chose the Neewer Ring Light. It has a dimmer control that adjusts from 1% to 100% and it puts off very little heat. It does not come with a stand, but as a speaker and musician, I had an extra mic stand. It is now mounted so that it is shining head-on at me. My Neewer also has come in handy for casual family photos elsewhere in the house. Cost: $66.

> Camera: The built-in FaceTime HD camera on my iMac just wasn’t cutting it. I chose the highly recommended C922x Pro Stream Webcam, a full 1080p HR camera. It clips on top of my iMac and also can be mounted in a wide variety of places. It has built-in light correction and a 5-foot cable, so it’s versatile. It also has built-in microphones that are better than the iMac built-in microphones, but not as good as my next choice. Cost: $151.

> Microphone: The webcam mic was better than the iMac built-in, but not nearly as good as my Blue Yeti. You can hear the difference between the built-in mic and the Blue Yeti. The Blue Yeti has settings for cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo. That makes it good for Zoom meetings, podcasts, and even recording my guitar for those random “public speaking blues” songs I post on my Instagram occasionally. The Blue Yeti also has a volume control, a mute button, and zero-latency headphone output. Cost: $130.

So, those are the equipment choices I made. I encourage you to shop around and discover what works best for you. And when you find the right fit, you’ll be well on your way to being a virtual business presenter that can turn heads, win hearts, and get results.

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Pros and Cons of Green Screen Background

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Pros and Cons of Green Screen vs. Authentic Backgrounds

By Paul Barton
Principal Consultant

The great Zoom meeting debate is on – green screen vs. real background. What say you? Which do you prefer? If you’re not sure, here are some things to consider that will lead you to the answer that’s best suited for your presentation.

Green Screen Do’s and Don’ts

Green screen for Zoom meetings

My $7 “green screen”

Green screens can provide a layer of privacy if you don’t have an attractive home office and they can be professional looking when done correctly. But if you want to look professional, ditch the unrealistic and distracting views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the fun but silly palm trees blowing in the wind. Instead, go with a simple background, such as a solid color with your company logo or an uncluttered photo.

Canva or Snappa offer Zoom templates that you can easily customize. You can slightly blur your photo for a more realistic look. If you use the Zoom built-in virtual background without an actual green screen behind you, your audience will likely see your head warp as you move.

I know some folks who painted an entire wall green or purchased green screen backdrops. These solutions work well and are a good choices if you’re using them enough to warrant the time and expense. However, there are less expensive options. I set up a simple green screen in my home office using an appropriately colored green blanket I bought at Walmart for $7. Then I created a solid-colored Zoom background with my company logo for meetings I was hosting and a solid colored non-logo background for meetings where I was a participant.

Although I was able to get my green screen to look good, I prefer my actual bookshelf background for most business situations.

Actual Background Do’s and Don’ts

Bookshelf background for Zoom

Note empty space for head

A natural background allows you to show your audience a bit of your personality. And, of course, it’s also more authentic and less pretentious.

If you go with a real background, make sure it is framed correctly on your webcam, free from clutter, and lit properly. A well-placed book and a houseplant can add a nice touch to the ambiance of your presentation. However, make sure the area behind your head is empty so you don’t have knickknacks or plants appearing to grow out of your head.

In addition to my bookshelf, I also had a large foam board logo printed at OfficeMax and hung it on a blank wall for presentations that I deliver from a standing position. This is what I use to record my online courses and marketing videos.

The Bottom Line on Zoom Backgrounds

As Zoom meetings continue to be the way we do business meetings, conferences and even networking events, we’ll continue to weigh the pros and cons of virtual backgrounds and the actual backgrounds. Whichever option you choose, make sure your background isn’t distracting. As always, you are the star of your presentation, not your background or technology.

The bottom line is this: Choose the background option that will best connect with your audience. A virtual conference audience with hundreds of participants may respond best to a presenter that stands out with a professional-looking green screen background. However, a 1-on-1 coaching client or a small group may engage more with a presenter that has a more personal background.

As with all effective communication strategies, let the audience guide you to success.

 

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Zoom Do’s and Don’ts

If you’re like most people, you’ve been in a lot of Zoom meetings lately and you’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of virtual presentations. In addition to the tips we’ve offered in previous posts, here are a few more we’ve picked up along the way.

Thumbs Up. Ask for the audience to give you a thumbs up if you have a question for the group and don’t want participants talking over one another. Like polls and chatbox questions, it also helps to engage the audience. “If you can hear me OK, give me a thumbs up.”

Short and Snappy. It’s expected that virtual meetings will be conducted in less time than traditional meetings so keep them short and snappy. This is not the time for long-winded stories.

Circle Back Often. If people are joining late or coming and going, be sure to circle back and recap often to catch everyone up. Also, if you’re recording the session, point out how participants can access the replay. I post mine to YouTube with an unlisted URL and then send them out via email.

Look Through the Camera. I’ve been coaching folks to look at the webcam and not at the faces on the screen but my colleague, Michele Trent, takes it even a step further. She coaches virtual presenters to look “through the camera” to visualize their audience. That extra subtle touch can make a big difference in how you engage your audience.

Be Upbeat. It’s difficult to project enthusiasm in a virtual environment so be sure to engage your audience with smiles and an upbeat tone. Avoid sarcasm, dry humor, and cynicism because it doesn’t carry well virtually.

Talk to Only One Person. Public speaking coach Joel Weldon, a legend in the business if there ever was one, advises virtual speakers to talk to just one person in their presentations to help engage each audience member. Say “you should try this” not “you guys should try this.”

Keep Backgrounds Simple. Virtual backgrounds can be fun and add a layer of privacy, but some are just too distracting. Another tip from Joel Weldon is to keep your virtual backgrounds simple. Joel’s is a solid color with just his logo in one corner. Find the right background answer for you.

Combined with the tips we provided in earlier posts, these ideas will help you stand out from the crowd and make a great impression on your next Zoom meeting. As always, we’d love to hear your do’s and don’ts. What have you seen that works? What have you seen that is downright awful? Please share your ideas in the comments field below.

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Virtual or Real Background?

5 Tips to Make You a Better Videoconference Presenter

Presenting on a videoconference is different than presenting in an in-person meeting. Many in-person public speaking basics still apply but many require some modifications due to the challenges of virtual technology.

Here are five tips to help make you a more effective presenter in the virtual world:

1) Dress Appropriately. Ditch the pajamas. You don’t need to wear a jacket or tie, but a polo shirt or dress shirt will convey a look of professionalism and may help to put you in the right frame of mind. If you’d prefer to wear a T-shirt, chose a solid color without distracting words, pictures, etc.

2) Adjust Your Body Language. Sit up straight in your chair and don’t squirm. Be mindful that hand gestures can blur on camera so minimize them and, when you do use them, slow them down.

3) Make Eye Contact. Eye contact is important to connect with people but remember to look at the camera eye and not at the faces of those who are on your screen.

4) Control Your Environment. Present from a quiet location with an appropriate background. Use Apple earbuds or a headset so that you don’t have an echo to your voice. Mute your microphone when not talking. Adjust your laptop cover or camera appropriately so that the audience isn’t looking up your nose.

5) Speak and Listen Appropriately. If you typically speak fast, speak slower than you would before an in-person audience. Speak clearly and use simple words. Avoid sarcasm and dry humor because it does not translate well in a virtual environment. Avoid interrupting interjections such as “I see,” because they don’t work well virtually. Instead, listen fully and only comment when the speaker has finished.

By practicing these tips and adapting them to your own personal style, you will be a more professional and a more impactful presenter. Give these tips a try and let us know how they work for you. We’d also love to hear any additional tips that you have discovered. Please leave your tips in the comments section below. We’re all learning together.

Bonus Pro Tip: Zoom offers a virtual background option that can keep your home life more private and add a little fun to your on-screen persona. However, some of the virtual backgrounds don’t look very real, in part because the photos are too sharply focused. One of our subscribers, Bart Butler, recently passed on this cool tip: slightly blur the background photo for a more realistic look. Here’s a short video that shows how you can blur your background. Thank you, Bart Butler for this great tip!

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