How to Unlock the Minds of Your Audience

June 22, 2017 by  

Chances are, at some point in time, you have likely tried to use a key that was rusted, dirty, or damaged in some way. Sure, the key might still open the lock, but now it takes much more effort and probably some measure of frustration, too.
Your content is the key to any good presentation, but if that key is not well polished, the presentation won’t measure up to your expectations.
A good presentation is easy for the audience to follow and can even be fun to hear. When the audience is intrigued, engaged, and inspired, the room will be filled with energy. This occurs when the speaker allows the audience to focus on the meaning of his or her words, rather than making them exert great effort when trying to figure out what they are attempting to say. The more distractions  the speaker can remove, the easier it will be for the key to unlock the minds of the audience.

So what are those common types of speaker rust, dirt, and damage that can occur?
Here are some examples that you should pay attention to:

1. Irrelevant information or relevant information delivered at the wrong time. As a speaker, it is easier to determine what you should say than what not to say. Some speakers assume they are the center of attention and so believe that their audience wants to hear everything they have to say. Effective speakers understand that it is the audience that is the center of attention, so everything said must benefit them, not satisfy the ego of the speaker.

2. A poorly designed talk. This happens when the audience ends up expending a great deal of energy trying to piece together the bits of information being presented, rather than just being able to enjoy and later expand upon the ideas being provided.

3. Poor presentation style. Distracting mannerisms (ring twirling or not knowing what to do with your hands), verbal fidgeting (ums, ahs, like, you know), and pacing back and forth, all detract from the speaker’s credibility as they make him or her look as though that lack confidence. These behaviours also prevent the audience from being able to readily absorb what is being said and makes them uncomfortable, too. In addition, because the speaker sets the tone of the room, if he or she is anxious and nervous, then the audience will share those emotions and find it more difficult to listen attentively.

4. Lack of attention to audience needs. An audience member who is thirsty, hungry, deprived of caffeine, or in need of a break will have a much more difficult time listening well, which means they will not be able to focus or appreciate what is being shared by the speaker. In other words, the presenter must keep a close on eye on the audience to determine when a break would be appropriate, when to change their pace of delivery, or when to find a way to actively engage the audience.

5. Poorly designed graphics. If the audience is forced to guess what an image used on a slide means, rather than just being allowed to listen to the speaker and understand the points being made, this will likely cause them to disengage. Once you lose the attention of your audience, it is much more difficult to get them back. So again, you must pay attention to how they are receiving your material and ahead of time, put yourself in their shoes to be sure that any graphics offered reinforce the points you are trying to make rather than confusing the listeners.

A good presenter should demonstrate great respect for their audience. They also should show that they value the audience so much, that they want to make their experience totally enjoyable. Most people may forgive a poor presentation style if the content is valuable or interesting; however, they have the right to expect a presentation to have both good content and an excellent delivery. So the next time you are to make a presentation, be sure to take the suggested tips into consideration when preparing your materials and yourself for that event……if you do, you will enjoy much more success as a speaker and will have a much more satisfied audience!

5 Simple Tips to Captivate Your Audience

May 12, 2017 by  

Would you like to engage and motivate your audiences?

Here are 5 simple tips that will make you unforgettable.

1. Make eye contact. Is there anything more basic for persuasion? When was the last time you trusted somebody who wouldn’t look you in the eye? Look at your listeners while you are speaking and you will look more authentic and relatable.

2. Have fun. Sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it? You set the tone for your audience so if you look like this is a painful experience, your audience will feel pained as well. Instead, if you look like you are enjoying yourself, speaking with energy, enthusiasm, and passion, they will be convinced that you must be saying something worth listening to.

3. Smile. Smiling helps to build trust with your audience. If a smile is inappropriate, at
least wear a pleasant expression and again speak with energy and elan. People connect more with someone who has a nice facial expression, so offer that to them!

4. Energize your voice. Speakers who do not project their voice with sufficient volume make listeners work too hard. So, when you speak, try to generate sufficient vocal power and energy to reach every listener in the room, especially people in the back and those who are hard of hearing. The larger the speaking venue, the more you must project your voice.

5. Be aware of your nonverbal messages. What your body is telling the audience is no less critical to your success than what your voice and words are saying. It is important to be sure that your non-verbal messaging reinforces and matches your verbal message, otherwise it is confusing and can actually cause your audience to disengage.
It is a good idea to spend a great deal of time practicing your presentation rather than just focussing on the content. You need to look comfortable, confident, and knowledgeable when in front of an audience. A good idea is to practice in front of a mirror, friends who will be honest with you or a recording device. In this way you will be able to see what your audience is going to see and can adjust as necessary.

The above tips can help you to become a more captivating speaker and then you will have greater success and more fun when you speak in front of an audience.

The 5 “C’s” for Telling a Great Story

November 24, 2016 by  

One of the key elements to successful public speaking is to use stories to illustrate points or concepts. People love stories!
However, what exactly makes a story great?
How can you tell stories that will captivate your audience and engage them?
Consider the sorts of stories you could include in your presentations and then guide your choices with the following elements.

The 5 “C’s” is a simple structure or formula for creating appropriate, memorable and engaging stories.

1. Your story should have Characters:
Carefully consider who to make the main characters in your story. Humor is always a good approach as we all love to laugh.
Try to describe those main characters so that your audience can actually visualize them. If possible, make them relevant to the audience.
2. Your story could have a Conflict:
Put your main characters into a conflict type of situation. This will get your audience thinking about how they could resolve the conflict, especially if you are going to offer some strategies for conflict resolution.
This element can be one of your engagement hooks, to draw your attendees into the story.
3. Your Story needs to have a Cure:
In other words you will need to provide a positive outcome for the conflict situation presented in your story. The cure will help the audience overcome the typical conflicts they may be facing in their own lives. You could even make this an exercise for the attendees if you want them to apply strategies you are presenting to situations they may encounter in their work environment.
4. Characters should Change as a result of the conflict:
Offer specific personality or attitude shifts that your characters undergo as a result of having to overcome the conflict described. In other words, how would they now view the world differently as a result of having experienced the conflict?
5. Your story should end with a “Carry Out Message”:
The essence of the story is to illustrate or make a point. Be sure that your story does in fact do this with clarity and specificity. This is the “lesson” you want your audience to take away, so it needs to be obvious why you told the story and what they are supposed to learn from it.

In summary, here is this simple storytelling model of the “5 C’s”, just include the following five elements:
• Characters
• Conflict
• Cure
• Change
• Carry-out Message

If you can use this structure for your stories you will find better retention of the key concepts you are hoping your audience will gain from your presentation. Again, people like stories and it definitely drives home the points you are trying to make in an interesting and relatable manner.

9 Strategies to Take the Fear out of Public Speaking

November 21, 2015 by  

If you are fearful of public speaking here are a few strategies to help you overcome that phobia.
1. Some people are afraid that they will forget what they want to say so become nervous about speaking in front of an audience. If you really know your topic well, and have NOT memorized what you are going to say, there is much less likelihood of forgetting.
2. Preparation and Practice are the most important aspects to consider when making a presentation of any length to any size of a group. The more familiar you are with your material, the more clearly you understand the concepts you are going the share, the more comfortable and confident you will be when standing in the “spotlight”.
3. Remember to Breathe so that you will send adequate oxygen to your brain and allow for rational thought and clarity to be available rather than panic and a big blank. In fact, take about 10 or even 20 deep breaths before you begin, you feel calmer and more focused.
4. Smile! “Fake it ‘til you make it!”……look like you are having fun, like you are confident, comfortable, honest and open and soon you will be how you look. Especially if you have followed the previous pieces of advice.
5. Greet people as they enter the venue so that you will already “know” some of the audience and will not feel like you are only speaking to strangers. It will make both you and your audience more comfortable with each other.
6. Wear clothing and shoes that make you feel good and are comfortable. If you do not care for belted slacks, tight sweaters, turtle necks, etc. do not wear them for your presentation. And ladies, those beautiful shoes that pinch your toes….leave them in the closet, sore feet detract from our ability to focus on the business at hand.
7. Get adequate rest before your big day, you do not want to be tired or look tired. Besides we need to be fresh and sharp. A lack of sleep will make that difficult to achieve.
8. Eat healthfully. Well balanced meals with adequate protein, whole grains and fresh fruit or veggies is a good way to allow our bodies to function well and our brain to operate at full capacity. Do not starve yourself. In addition be sure to hydrate yourself before, during and after. A “dry” brain does not work well either.
9. Believe in yourself. If you have prepared well and practiced until you know your topic inside out and backwards, you should feel confident that you will do a good job. Expect to do well and you will. The opposite will also be true! Create a reality that you really want, a positive outcome and a positive self-fulfilling prophesy.

In the end, just remember to have fun!

6 Keys to Improving your Presentations

June 19, 2013 by  

Here are 6 impactful techniques to make your presentations more effective.
1. Smile….this makes you look confident and happy and helps to establish trust with your audience. Make your smile true, use your eyes and your mouth!
2. Create meaningful visuals….our brain remembers images more vividly than text, so choose reinforcing images to support your words.
3. Energize your voice……flat, passionless speech is boring and hard to focus on, if you infuse your voice with emotion and animation your audience will remain more fully engaged in your delivery….you will be more interesting!
4. Involve your audience…..we retain almost 90% of what we say and do, your listeners want to be active participants in their learning experience and if they are they will be able to pay attention and retain what they learn.
5. Enjoy yourself…..if you are not having fun how can you expect your audience to be enjoying themselves. If you are well prepared you should be able to revel in presenting material that you understand, appreciate and value.
6. Tell stories…..be sure they are relevant and meaningful, people love stories and will remember them and the concept you are illustrating.

The results for you from the implementation of these 6 key issues will be greatly increased confidence, competence, and delivery power. You will be more relaxed and natural and this will be reflected in your audience and their take- aways. Public speaking should be fun…practice these elements and you will definitely experience more enjoyment when you make a presentation. Plus you will be more appreciated by your audience!

10 Ways to Become an Excellent Trainer

June 12, 2013 by  

In order to be considered a good trainer you need to be able to engage your audience and perpetuate that engagement throughout your session/s. This outcome requires preparation, ingenuity and curiosity. The more interactive you can make your presentations; the more retentive learning will occur in your training room…and the more both you and your attendees with enjoy the educational experience.
1. Stories are an excellent way to illustrate concepts.
People love stories and can relate to them as long as they resonate with why they are learning this strategy or how it can be applied to their situation. Anecdotes help us to understand the world around us and how it works. Story telling is an art, so refine this ability so that you will provide your students with memorable material.
2. How can you stand out from the crowd?
Dare to be different…present your concepts in an interesting manner. Establish your own style by appearing unique. Conjure up ways that will make yourself more un usual; think about what to wear, how to explain a topic, what visuals to use, what sorts of exercises to include. Be sure to make it all appropriate for the audience to which you will be speaking.
3. Provide Solutions.
People who come to a course are looking for a specific skill or fill a certain need. They have an issue and are looking for a resolution. Consider yourself a doctor who wants to help a patient overcome an illness or condition. Try to understand the problem, look for symptoms, search for the root causes, provide a possible diagnosis, and offer a treatment. Make the solution meaningful to the attendees with compelling reasons why they might consider adopting this approach.
4. Produce a Quality Class.
People admire quality and appreciate those who plan meticulously and systematically. Be sure your content is up to date and timely. Relate examples of the latest trends in the industry, show in depth analyses, charts or short videos that illustrate the complexity of the topic. This demonstrates your efforts toward helping the audience to understand the complex elements in a clear, simple and concise manner.
5. Communicate in a meaningful, engaging manner.
Training is about engaging others to the point so that they will actually compute the messages you are delivering in a way that will allow them to understand and remember what you have shared with them. Excellent training requires a great deal of preparation. You need to challenge them, entice them to begin with and then build on the module to grab and hold their attention. In order to keep them interested and focussed, you must exude enthusiasm and knowledge . Ultimately your goal is to bring them to a new understanding and possible acceptance of new habits.
6. Surprise Your Audience
In order to engage your audience, surprise is a great attention getter. Doing something unusual is memorable….if you can introduce an exercise, analogy or story that explains or demonstrates the concept in a surprising manner you will have a much better chance that your audience will remember the point.
7. Make Your Audience Laugh
Some topics can be dull or boring; if that is the case, the more entertaining you can be, the more likely they will stay engaged. People experience more retentive learning when they are enjoying the session.
8. Most People are Visual Learners
Images are much more memorable than words and people relate to them better, in fact your mind can recall images more easily than verbal descriptions. So, employ clip art, short videos, pictures, or props for anything with complex visual information. It will make the course more interesting and offer the attendees a better handle for remembering what was taught.
9. Use Metaphors in your Descriptions
Metaphors help people to better grasp a concept by relating one element to another one that is familiar to them. These examples provide free associations which enhance memory. This is another way to increase the retentiveness of your materials for the audience.
10. This is About Your Audience
Remember that your audience should be the focus of your training. Delivering training is not about you demonstrating how much you know about a particular topic, rather it is about helping your attendees to gain new knowledge and skills that you are able to make meaningful and valuable for them due to your expertise.

Being an Excellent Trainer, once again, involves a great deal of preparation and practice. Hone your personal presentation style, be engaging, entertaining and informative in ways that capture the interest and focus of your audience so that they will leave your session with new approaches to deal with the situations they face in their lives.

7 Keys to a Great Presentation

December 18, 2012 by  

1. Keep your information relevant to your topic in order to keep your audience focussed….irrelevant data is boring.
2. Be prepared…anticipate questions, know you subject thoroughly so that pretty much anything they can throw at you, you will be able to handle. However, if you do not know the answer….ask for audience input and follow up with the poser.
3. Avoid distracting mannerisms and fidgeting, verbal ums & ahs, or needless pacing….all detract from the speaker’s delivery.
4. Organize your material so that it flows and transitions as well as being clear and concise.
5. Choose graphics carefully to reinforce your message not confuse the listener.
6. Keep your eyes on your audience so that, if necessary, you can alter your pace and delivery to keep them engaged in the presentation.
7. Practice, practice, practice!! The more comfortable you are with the concepts you will be sharing, the more fun you will have…and if you are enjoying yourself, the audience will be happy as well!!

Good presenters show respect to their audience and are appreciated in return!!
Are you a great presenter?

Speaking Charismatically

November 28, 2012 by  

Grabbing & holding your audience is most important if you are to be a successful presenter.

Here are 5 key elements to help make that happen:
1.Put a smile on your face….if you look happy and confident it is more likely that you feel how you look and it will certainly send a more positive message to your listeners.

2.Make eye contact….nothing is more persuasive or engaging than looking at whom you are speaking with…the more people you actually look directly at, for a couple of seconds while you are talking, the more likely they will feel connected to you and interested in what you are telling them.

3.Enjoy yourself……now I realize that most people are fearful of public speaking so the idea of having fun may seem extremely foreign. Nonetheless, if you are well prepared you will find that once you get into your presentation you will feel good about what you are doing and when you feel good that resonates with your audience. Confidence and passion make the listeners comfortable and it is your job, as the presenter, to keep your audience happy….you cannot accomplish that if you are not enjoying yourself!

4.Be passionate…..when you have energy about you because you are knowledgeable and thoroughly interested in your topic, you should have no trouble tweaking the interest and involvement of your audience…they will want to be engaged, they will be having fun learning because they will be caught up in your excitement.

5.Prepare well…..that means, know you material inside out and backwards….do NOT memorize your presentation. Learn the concepts well, be able to illustrate them with visual, compelling examples, good stories, and possibly exercises allowing the attendees to employ what they have learned and ask questions. In fact, invite their participation, if you are well prepared you will be able to answer most of those, and if not…throw it back to them or offer to research the answer and get back to the individual.

Public speaking can honestly be a lot of fun…one just needs to practice, practice, practice so that you can truly be relaxed and confident….and looking like you are actually enjoying yourself up there…that demeanour will infect your listeners positively and the results will be win/win for all of you!

How to Grab Your Audience & Keep Them Interested

April 20, 2012 by  

When addressing an audience you have only a few minutes to really grab their attention, therefore your greeting and opening element need to be engaging.  Once you have their attention you need to vary your presentation in a number of ways in order to keep them interested; as the human attention span can be very limited if you are not doing something fascinating.

Here are some key points to help you create and maintain audience involvement:
1. Smile: if you look happy, you are more likely to make your audience happy. Smiles are contagious! In addition, it will make you look more confident, at ease, and trustworthy. Finally, if you are having fun, so will your listeners.
2. Make direct eye contact with individuals in your audience. When you do this you make them feel as if you are speaking directly to them so they will feel connected to you. In addition, eye contact represents honesty, which will also be appreciated by your listeners.
3. Ask a question. Challenging your audience to consider an approach, idea or strategy is another engagement technique. This encourages thinking, always a good idea when attempting to create an environment conducive to retentive learning.
4. Tell a story. Everyone loves a good story….so if you have an interesting tale that illustrates a key issue you are about to develop, this would be a great way to spark interest not only from the beginning but even during the session.
5. Use your voice to your advantage….be animated, exude energy, modulate your volume and inflection.  Interject an occasional “pregnant” pause to emphasize a point and put your audience on the edge of their seats waiting for you to finish the thought.
6. Use appropriate language that suits your audience so that they will be able to appreciate and understand your message. If you talk over their heads or down to them it will be difficult to hold their attention.
7. Finally, end with a challenge, something provocative, another story, a poem perhaps that is relevant to your topic.  Summaries are also a beneficial ending style as it re-emphasized the key points you want to leave with your audience. Different types of presentations warrent different styles of endings….choose one that feels right for you.

The main thing to remember is to prepare well, practice a lot, and have fun!