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.
You’ve probably been to a business conference and seen a panel discussion. Some are entertaining and informative. But others are uncoordinated, hard to follow and the panelists seem ill-prepared. In short, these are a waste of time for conference attendees and often public speaking disasters.
If you are asked to participate in a panel discussion, you’ll want you and your fellow panelists to shine. Following are some tips to make sure your panel presentation is a success.
But first, we need to understand what a panel is not and what it is.
What a Panel Discussion Is Not
I’ve been to many conferences where an event is billed as “a panel discussion.” The panelists sit side by side and pass a microphone from one to the other as they each talk about their area of expertise. This is not a panel discussion. This is a series of mini-presentations.
What a Panel Discussion Is
Panel discussions require the presence of a skilled moderator to direct a structured conversation. The moderator should begin by describing the purpose of the discussion and introducing the panel members. The moderator then launches the discussion by directing a question to one or more of the participants. At the conclusion of the discussion, the moderator may then direct questions from the audience. The moderator also will present a concluding statement. Just as we advise for a solo presentation, the conclusion should come after the Q&A.
How to Prepare
Before the presentation, the moderator should circulate an outline and explain the ground rules to the panel participants. From the outline, the panelists will have an idea of the main questions that will be asked. They will provide unscripted answers and the moderator may ask follow-up questions. When one panelist answers a question, others may politely chime in. In other words, it’s a conversation.
When preparing remarks for a panel discussion, or when preparing to serve as a moderator, consider the following:
Who is your audience? What do they know about the topic? What ideas can be emphasized to encourage greater understanding?
What aspects of the topic will each participant address? What are their areas of expertise?
How much time is allotted for the Q&A?
Which key points should be reviewed in your conclusion?
Rather than having people sit in a row, consider having them arranged in a semi-circle to facilitate dialogue. The accompanying photo, from the McGlaughlin Group TV show, depicts such an arrangement.
By following these tips, you can put together a lively and informative panel discussion.
“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs
Working in project teams is increasingly becoming the way many businesses get work done. That means having to present as a team at a business meeting is becoming more common as well. Teams frequently have to put forward ideas, get their projects and funding requests approved, and present project status updates.
Preparing and delivering a team presentation has its own unique public speaking challenges and opportunities. If your team presentation comes across as uncoordinated and disjunct, it calls into question all the information that your team presented. Conversely, a well-prepared and smooth presentation creates a perception that your team works well together, and that its members have done their homework and know what they’re talking about.
The following tips can help you and your team members collaborate more effectively when preparing for a team presentation.
Establish Goals and Information Needs. Make sure each team members agrees on what the presentation is trying to accomplish and what the scope and type of research will be needed.
Assign Roles and Tasks. Designate a team captain to help coordinate members, beginning with the selection of roles and tasks. Next, assign members to present the introduction, the body of the presentation, and the conclusion. Determine how the group will handle questions. Assign other responsibilities as needed.
Establish Transitions Between Speakers. Determine how the team will handle transitions between speakers ahead of time. For example, decide if a designated group member will introduce every speaker or whether each speaker will introduce the next speaker upon the close of his or her presentation. Make sure everyone knows the order of the presenters.
Consider Each Presenter’s Strength. Consider choosing the person with the strongest presentation style and credibility level for the opening. Put the more cautious presenters in the middle of the presentation. Select another strong speaker to conclude the presentation.
Coordinate Presentation Aids. Consider assigning one person the job of coordinating templates for slides, video, and/or audio. Presentation aids should have a cohesive and unified look.
Rehearse the Presentation. Rehearse the presentation together and include any presentation aids that will be used.
Remember You’re Always On. Remember that even when someone else is speaking, the audience can still see you. So, make sure you are sitting up straight and paying attention to the other team members and the audience at all times. See related article.
These public speaking tips will help you and your team work together effectively and put together a polished business presentation.
Meetings, meetings, meetings. They are a big part of the day for most business professionals. And they are a big opportunity to use public speaking and business communication skills that can help you stand out.
The following tips will help you make the most out of business meetings:
Come Prepared. Do your homework and research the issues you know will be discussed.
Don’t Jump to Solutions Too Quickly. Resist the temptation to settle quickly on one solution before others in the meeting have systematically examined the causes, effects, history, and symptoms of a problem.
Help Summarize the Group’s Progress. Ask questions about the discussion process rather than about the topic: “Where are we now?” “Could someone summarize what we have accomplished?” and “Aren’t we getting off the subject?”
Listen and Respond Politely. You can’t learn if you don’t listen. Respect other points of view, keep your emotions in check, and respond courteously. Don’t assume you know everything – you don’t.
Help Manage Conflict. Conflict is inevitable. But remember this: the best decisions are often those that emerge from productive conflict, which encourages members to rigorously test and debate ideas and potential solutions. Be sure to keep the discussion focused on issues, not on personalities. Rely on facts rather than on personal opinions for evidence. Seek compromise and don’t assume that there must be a winner and a loser. Try to clarify misunderstandings in meaning. Be descriptive rather than evaluative and judgmental. Keep emotions in check.
Send the Right Body Language Messages. Dress appropriately. Sit in the middle of the table where you can influence and include the greatest number of people. Sit up straight. Be attentive. Make eye contact. Back up from the table just a little so that you have room to gesture naturally. Put your smartphone away. Take notes. Be mindful of negative body language such as pointing or rolling your eyes.
Use the Language of Leadership. Eliminate weak language in your statements like “sort of” and “just wanted.” Use inclusive language like “we” and “us.” Replace “ums” and “ahs” with pauses.
Take advantage of business meetings with these tips. They will help you have a more productive meeting and just might help your career.
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!