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.
In the business world, many of our presentations are done in teams. During such a presentation, the audience’s eyes will fall upon everyone involved, not just the person speaking.
Remember this: even when it’s not your turn to speak, you’re on. Therefore, any signs of disinterest or boredom by a team member will be easily noticed.
Even innocent movements can send messages that you may not wish to send. Remember President George H.W. Bush checking his watch during the 1992 Presidential debate? That single act fueled a narrative about his supposed aloofness and disinterest.
3 Group Presentation Tips
Here’s what to do:
(1) If your presentation is longer than five minutes, have everyone on your team sit. Being seated will help guard again fidgeting. Sitting behind an appropriate table can help cover up nervous legs. Predetermine if team members will stand or remain seated when it’s their turn to speak.
(2) Give your full and polite attention to the other speakers on your team. Take notes to keep you actively listening. Avoid negative body language, such as rolling eyes, crossed arms, or disdainful facial expression).
(3) Project an attitude of interest toward audience members. Make eye contact with audience members and smile when appropriate.
Sometimes, you need every advantage you can get. Following these simple tips will help ensure a smooth and more polished team presentation. Good luck!
Do you want to be the type of presenter who can command a room? If so, you’ll want to check out our newest workshop. We’re partnering once again with the Phoenix Business Journal and offering a presentation skills workshop entitled “3 Steps to Own Any Room.”
The workshop will be held Thursday, Sept. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arizona Better Business Bureau, 1010 E. Missouri Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85014. Lunch will be served.
EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT: An exclusive 20% discount is being offered to readers of this blog. Use offer code SPEAK when checking out to receive your discount.
Our last three Phoenix Business Journal workshops sold out quickly so be sure to register today!
“My values, our values, aren’t about pointing fingers. They are about offering a helping hand.” — Kathleen Blanco, first woman to be elected governor of Louisiana
Pointing fingers and effective public speaking simply don’t go together. Pointing is often perceived as arrogant, aggressive and rude — not characteristics we want to project to an audience when making a business presentation or speaking in public.
What’s more, pointing at someone in the audience during a talk — for instance, to call on someone during a Q&A — can create a perception of “you” and “them” rather than “we” and “us.” A pointing finger can be perceived as divisive. And anything that can come between you and your ability to make a better connection with your audience should be eliminated.
But what if you are pointing at someone in a friendly way to commend them? What if you were pointing, but smiling and saying something like, “Joe here, he did a great job!” Even when you are announcing good news or saying something nice about someone, a pointing finger lessens the positive impact of your message.
What to do Instead of Finger Pointing
So what should you do instead? How do you point without pointing?
If you do need to acknowledge someone in your audience, try extending an arm toward them with an open hand. This will be seen as a much friendlier, more inclusive gesture. It’s also easier to see from a distance, which could be helpful for those in the back row if you’re speaking in a large room.
You can even use this gesture to call attention to a PowerPoint chart or any inanimate object. “Handouts will be on that table when the session is over.”
An extended arm with an open hand is a great gesture on or off the stage. Try using it in everyday conversations with work colleagues, friends and family. Use it to draw attention to people and objects. Like most things, if you do it often enough, it will become second nature.
What We Say, How We Say It
What we say, and how we say it, directly impacts our body language and gestures. Try shouting angerly and you will find yourself instinctively pointing fingers and making fists. But the opposite is true as well — by changing our gestures to open and friendly, we can affect what we say, and how we say it in a positive way.
You may find that gesturing in a more welcoming, more inclusive way, instinctively changes your word choices and the tone of your voice.
Eliminating weak language in your business presentations and speeches will help you to be a more effective leader and a better public speaker. Unnecessary equivocating phrases such as “kind of,” “sort of” or “just wanted” will chip away at your credibility and sabotage your own effectiveness. Instead, use powerful, straightforward language and seek to be inclusive with your audience.
To be more inclusive, think “influence and include’ rather than “command and control” or “more we and less me.”
Compare these phrases:
“This is sort of my plan to get the ball rolling.” vs. “This is our plan to get the ball rolling.”
“I just wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.” vs. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication.”
“In my opinion, we should take a different course of action.” vs. “Let’s take a different course of action.”
If you want to be perceived as a leader, speak with confidence, conviction, and inclusiveness in areas where you are certain, committed and need the support of your audience. When you speak like a leader, you’ll have a more powerful presentation and inspire more listeners to take action.
When your audience is laughing at your quip or clapping their approval of your key point, let them conclude before continuing with your presentation. By rejoining your presentation too soon, they won’t be able to hear your first few words and you miss an opportunity to fully engage your audience.
By cutting the audience off too soon, it may even appear that you don’t appreciate their goodwill. Just say “thank you,” if appropriate, smile and continue.
Conclude with Style and Grace
The same goes for your conclusion. When your audience is applauding, stand graciously and accept the applause until they have concluded. You might even want to give a slight bow if it seems appropriate. Hang out for a few minutes to talk to people who approach you after your presentation and graciously accept their compliments. There’s plenty of time later to gather up your notes, disconnect your laptop, etc.
Take your time and enjoy the positive feedback. Public speaking is supposed to be fun and engaging.
My public speaking students at the Art Institute of Phoenix had fun this week learning how to speak using a teleprompter. They read from my famous “4Ps assessment script” that my personal coaching clients use.
I really enjoy working with the students and helping them to become confident and skilled presenters. And teaching helps keep me to stay sharp as well. Some days, I learn as much from my students as they do from me.
Keeping a virtual audience engaged can seem like a daunting task. They can see you, but for the most part, you won’t be able to see who you are presenting or talking to. So how do you keep an audience like that engaged beyond having an entertaining presentation? In this post, we’ll review some simple tactics on how you can keep a virtual audience engaged.
1) Demand Undivided Attention
The simplest way to get a virtual audience to engage with you and your presentation is to ask for their undivided attention from the beginning of the presentation. As them to put away their phones, close out of all the other tabs they might have open in their browser windows and dedicate the next block of time to the presentation and what they will learn.
2) Ask questions/Polls/Quizzes
To keep a virtual audience engaged include questions throughout your presentation. You can ask questions in the form of polls or quizzes as well. If there is a chat functionality enabled, you can ask participants to leave their response in the chatbox. For example, you can say “If this makes you feel frustrated type 1 in the chatbox”, or you can present different scenarios and ask your audience to type in the scenario they identify with.
3) Include Interactive Elements In Your Video
Interactive videos are a great way to keep a virtual audience engaged. Interactive videos can include click-throughs to landing pages, quizzes, or play certain sections based on the viewer’s choices. There are some great tools out there to help you create these types of videos like Vizio, or you can check out YouTube, as it allows for simple video interaction cards that can lead your viewer to subscribe to your channel or watch a related video or playlist.
A simple way to keep a virtual audience engaged is to host a Q&A based on the subject of your presentation. The whole presentation can be a Q&A session or you can present and leave time at the end for some questions.
5) Include Your Audience In The Broadcast
Live videos are a great way to increase reach for your social media channels, and what better way engage an audience than to give them a chance to be included in the broadcast. On Facebook Live (on mobile), Hangouts On Air via YouTubeLive and Instagram Live Stories, you can have someone broadcast with you in real time! Give your participants a chance to be on air with you to keep everyone engaged.
6) Offer Bonuses
Offering a bonus for those who stay through the end of your presentation can be a quick tactic to keep a virtual audience engaged. Some software will let you know who stayed until the end, or you can simply offer a link, or coupon code at the very end of your presentation to keep things simple.
7) Conduct Chats
One final way you can keep a virtual audience engaged is to conduct chats after a presentation. Perhaps you’ve interviewed someone and the second part of that is for your audience to continue the conversation in a chat or even a live stream session with the interviewee.
I hope these seven tactics to engage a virtual audience come in handy for your next presentation!
ABOUT THE GUEST BLOGGER
Dhariana Lozano has been in the social media and digital marketing world for over seven years. She is the co-founder of Supremacy Marketing, a boutique social media marketing firm based in New York City. Her experience includes creating social media strategies and consulting for both B2C and B2B brands to help them stand out and break through digital walls for ongoing success. She blogs at DhariLo.com where she provides social media tips, resources, and courses. You can see her work published in Social Media Week, Social Media Today, and the AgoraPulse blog. You can connect with Dhariana by sending her a tweet @Dharilo.
All public speakers eventually get asked to write “a bio for the program.”
With more than 100,000 searches per month for the phrase “how to write an about me,” there is no doubt that people are struggling with how to best describe themselves event bios, “about the author” segments or for any project. You are not alone if you are feeling challenged as to how to write a bio.
I think there are two strong issues with this process:
First, unless we’re overcome with narcissism, we tend to not want to brag about ourselves, afraid to appear to be fixated on our own greatness.
Conversely, we might think we are just too boring, wondering if we have anything at all of interest to our audience.
The solution to these two challenges is to focus on the audience who will experience your bio when you are planning to write your bio blurb. Write a new bio for each audience.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
Think about the focus of your audience rather than your own ego. What do they really need to know about you? In other words, go beyond sharing just what makes you feel good about yourself. What does your audience truly need? What facts, history, events, and talents can you offer that will help your audience connect with you? You want your readers to understand what you can do to help them achieve their goals and needs rather than just inspiring them to applaud for your wonderfulness.
Take the time to reflect on your past and present history. While you may be up against a deadline, an authentic biography is only created when you spend the time to do it right.
Consult with your friends, family, and coworkers, asking them to help you remember parts of your history you may have glossed over. Asking questions such as, “What words would you use to describe me?” can create opportunities for them to comment on your qualities and background. You might be surprised by the good memories that will surface from this type of question.
Consider the About Me you are creating as a way for you to share your personal story. Readers will be much more interested in your online bio if you draw them in with the elements of stories or anecdotes. No one wants to read your grocery-list of life experiences, but a good story-infused bio invites them to learn more. You can apply oral storytelling techniques to your written biography.
There’s no need to be lost or hesitant to write your own biography. The process can be fun and, while not trying to create some type of therapy, you might discover new things about yourself and your story. Enjoy the process as well as the results as you focus on the audience and their needs.
ABOUT OUT GUEST BLOGGER
Sean Buvala has been engaged in the oral storytelling tradition since 1986 as a performer, speaker, and author. He started his work by accidentally using active storytelling to convert a classroom of slightly (but comically) homicidal 8th-grade teenagers from angry kids to storytelling practitioners themselves. He’s also the publisher at “The Small-Tooth-Dog Publishing Group” in Arizona and he’d be happy to talk to you about your next book. Learn more at smalltoothdog.com/authoreducation.