Author Archives: JackRossin

The Presentation Hook


When I was in my late 40’s I had lunch with my dear friend Bink. He started the conversation off by saying that he has developed a serious addiction problem. Now, you should be aware that Bink is an excellent public speaker and he knows the value of a strong opener for any conversation.  It is sometimes called a hook.  He had me hooked.

I was quite concerned thinking perhaps that he had become addicted to some medication he was taking. That was not the case.  He became addicted to golf.  Addiction was exactly the right word to use. He could only think and talk and read about golf. Golf 24/7. Lessons. Scores. Handicaps. The poor guy was severely smitten.

Whatever he had was contagious.  I had always wanted to try golf, but never had the courage to take the big step of lessons and buying equipment.  After lunch with Bink, I did it.

I had a golf pro who encouraged me even though I never had any real talent, other than money to pay him. I practiced my swing every waking moment of the day, even if I didn’t have a club.  While visiting with friends at their summer house, I took a pool cue and stood out on the deck, in the rain, so I can practice swinging.

On a trip to Philadelphia to visit my elderly mother, I decided to drive (I usually flew), so that I can take my golf bag with me.  It’s all I talked about with my mother.

She was thrilled that I was taking up golf.  I think she saw the game as something that only rich, successful men played, so she believed it was a reflection of my status. It was hardly that. I heard her say on many occasions when introducing me at the apartment she lived in, “This is my Jackie.  He plays golf.” At family gatherings it was all she talked about.  Frankly, it was all I talked about, as well.

A few years later my mother passed away and she is buried in our family plot. Whenever I go to Philadelphia I make it a priority to go the cemetery to visit with everyone.

Once, as I was leaving the cemetery  I looked on the ground to find small rocks to put on the gravestone of each member of my family.  It’s a Jewish tradition to let the deceased know you were there. 

But this time I couldn’t find any rocks because the grass around the gravestones was over-grown from all the rain.  While walking through the high grass, I stepped on a rock and reached down and grabbed it.

It was a Titleist golf ball!  Right there in the cemetery.  A golf ball with not a golf course in sight.  It seemed like a sign so I put the golf ball on my mother’s gravestone, and now, every time I visit, I bring a handful of golf balls for everyone in the family. I guess I hooked my family on golf, as well. In fact, Hook is how some of my golf friends now refer to me.

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A New Workshop From Jack E Rossin…

Physician Leadership Training

Physicians on a leadership track will find value from this comprehensive workshop that teaches Public Speaking, Persuasion Techniques, and the role of Emotional Intelligence in communications.

Jack is an instructor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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Pitch Philosophy and Biz Dev

Guidelines for Making a Zoom New Business Interview

Remember, your audience’s attention span is worse on Zoom than in real life (it’s not great in real life). So, move the meeting along.

-Do a fast introduction of who from your side is on the Zoom call.  Just names, not title and job function.

-Do not have your PowerPoint already pulled up and on the screen.  That takes away from seeing all the people in the meeting.  It may be your only chance to connect with them.

-Before getting into your PowerPoint, do a little preface to say what they are going to see.  It might spark conversation, which is always a goal of an business development pitch

-Go into your PowerPoint pitch

-Every few minutes check in with the audience for questions and comments.

-When the PowerPoint is done, close it up so you can see everyone again.

-Now, say something like “I have a few closing remarks I’d like to make, but first, let’s open this up to Q&A.

-Allow Q&A to run for as long as the prospect has questions.  Then deliver a fast summary of what you presented today and ask for the business.

The most important part of a new business pitch

You have their attention, but not for long. Make the most of it. There are four or five different strategies for an opening and one easy rule: the opening is never about you or the company you represent.   The opening is always about the prospect. Everything you say in the opening should be aimed at making the prospect’s life easier, richer, and more successful.

One strategy for an opening is problem-solution.  Start by discussing an issue you know is important to the prospect (you know because you’ve asked enough questions previously) and talk about how your solution solves that problem.  If you can convey that information by way of an interesting story, even better.

Put Your Best Stuff Into the Opening!

In a trial, the jury sometimes decides innocent or guilty in the first five minutes after hearing each lawyer’s opening remarks. The deciding factor for the jury is siding with the lawyer who seems most confident. Two important lessons come from this: juries make their decisions very early in the process, so put your best stuff into the open.  Secondly, learn the techniques that confident speakers use.

These techniques are relatively easy to master: strong eye contact, powerful voice, good posture, animated face, arms and body, the use of storytelling, command of material, speaking slowly.  Just learn to be proficient and practice 2 or 3 of them in each rehearsal and you will be a much better presenter.

How to Win the Business Pitch

Recently someone told me that while they understand the importance of rehearsal, there is just never enough time to do it.  There’s hardly enough time to prepare the proposal and to think about the prospect’s challenges and solutions.

But, often what wins the pitch is the pitch.  All of the prep work you did needs to be choreographed into a seamless story that the client can grasp, appreciate and, recognize that it is coming from a well oiled team.  To do it best, everyone on the team needs to rehearse together.  Everyone has to make time.

If you don’t want to rehearse, or can’t do it, then don’t waste all of those hours and money. Your chances of winning just dropped.

It seems crazy to put all of that time in schmoozing a prospect and investing in a proposal to waste it all because you couldn’t find time to rehearse.

Crazy.

Selling The Big Idea

Often times in a pitch you are presenting some big idea that your team worked diligently on.  If the idea is truly a blockbuster there are two dangers you should be aware of:

-You’re so anxious to present this killer idea that you don’t fully communicate the thinking that went into it,

-You fall into the trap of believing that because the idea is so good, the explanation doesn’t need to be.  “The idea will speak for itself.”

It is criminal to not sell a great idea because you didn’t package it properly in a solid presentation, and didn’t rehearse thoroughly.

Don’t Rush the Opening of a Pitch

You’re making a competitive pitch and the prospect asks you to hurry along. They have a lot of people yet to interview and want you  to present quickly.  When this happens, be afraid. Be very afraid.

You rush through the opening and leave out important information.  The way you opened sets the fast pace for the rest of the pitch so now everyone on your team rushes.  The big idea that you worked so hard on never gets a fair airing because it was presented at high speed.

There is nothing more important than the opening. Even if your time has been cut in half, do the opening the way you rehearsed.  If you constructed the opening properly it will contain the most relevant information the prospect needs to hear.

Good posture conveys pride in speaking

Good posture signals to your audience that you want to convey things to them that you are confident to discuss. Good posture for meetings and presentations is not a military posture, which can look anything but relaxed. It’s a prideful posture. Chest out, shoulders slightly back. Head held high. Big smile.

If you’re seated, sit closer to the edge of the seat, lean in towards the table but don’t slouch. On Zoom, try to be about 24″-28″ from the lens.

Posture is just as important on Zoom. People are more likely to slouch in a Zoom meeting.  It doesn’t look good and communicates disinterest.

Put Show Business Into a Pitch

Business theatrics is a more accentuated way of presenting. Bigger voice. Broader gestures.  Strong posture. Broad smile.  Dramatic pauses.  Keep your eyes glued on the audience.  Business theatrics adds energy and confidence to what you have to say.

A good pitch must always have an element of show business.

Presenting at a Conference Table

When making a presentation seated at a conference room table, take a power position when it is your turn to present. Raise the chair seat as high as it will go.  Sit on the edge of your seat and lean forward, arms on the table.

You should move and be animated but never stop leaning in. Hold that position through your presentation and any discussion that follows.

That body language says that you are in command.

Make eye contact with everyone in a pitch

When you’re pitching, make sure you look at and talk to everyone on the prospect’s side of the table.  Don’t fall into the trap of just connecting with the CEO.  You never know who will make the decision or how other people on the client’s team will influence that decision.  Some feedback I get from prospects when pitches go bad is that the pitch team only focused on the one in charge causing others to feel slighted.

Same is true on Zoom. When it is your turn to present, look into the lens. Nowhere else. 

Smile in a Pitch

Your goal in a pitch is to have the audience like you.  One step in that process is to smile. When you smile, they smile back.

Oh, and smile.

Delivering Bad News

Sometimes in a presentation you need to deliver bad news. Perhaps the budget isn’t going to work, or some facet of the plan can’t happen, or a valued partner changed his mind.  When is the best time in the presentation to deliver bad news?

In the beginning.

Getting bad news out in some portion of your opening serves a number of purposes: It positions you as an honest person with nothing to hide. It allows the client to evaluate whatever you are presenting in light of this bad news.  It gives you a chance to use the news to build your case in the pitch.

Pitch Like You’re Hungry

James Brown had a valuable piece of advice for young artists — Sing Like You’re Hungry.  I might suggest similar advice when pitching prospects.  This has to be done subtly. The pitch is still about the prospects and how they will benefit, but they need to know it is very important to you and that you’ve put your all into it.

Team Presentation Check List

Presenting as a Team- A Check list

☐ Rehearse as a team. Everyone has to show up.

☐ Plan what each person says in turning the presentation over to the next person.

☐ There is one theme and everyone speaks to it.

☐ Avoid repetitive comments.  Each person doesn’t have to thank the prospect, for example.

☐ If a person doesn’t have a speaking role, don’t take them.

☐ Make sure the people who will work most on the account speak the most.

☐ Don’t speak over a team member’s presentation to add stuff.

☐ Smile no matter how dumb a comment one of your team members makes.

Always End Early

You want the audience to love you and appreciate you and bring you back again and again?  Finish your presentation sooner than was planned.

You don’t need to finish a lot sooner.  But sooner. Even ending 5 minute early will be seen as a positive.  Conversely, going over time is very bad form. I attended a seminar put on by a  presentation training company and one of the main themes of the talk was how important it was to end your presentation within the time allotted.  The speaker ran over by 10 minutes!  We thought that was a) pretty funny, and, b) we’l;l never hire them.

Face to Face Marketing

Whether your marketing is B2B or  B2C, it doesn’t count until it is F2F. Face 2 Face.

Nothing important happens until you are face to face with your prospect presenting ideas in a strong voice, smile on your face and confident as hell.

How do you look confident? Strong posture, eye contact, smile. Get close to the prospect (respecting a zone of comfort).

Pitch With Your Ears

 When making a new business pitch… listen more, talk less.  Research shows that the more you can get the prospect talking, the better your chances of winning the business.  You’ll get the prospect talking by asking smart questions, such as those suggested in Spin Selling.  Don’t help the prospect answer questions.  Allow the prospect to answer.

Avoid Bizspeak. Talk regular.

Stop juicing your presentations with glib phrases like disruptive technologycutting edge, award winning, strategic partnership, synergy, win-win, at the end of the day, drill down, mission-critical, paradigm shift, value-added…

Research shows that the audience responds more favorably to short common words, than long, multi-syllable words. Talk like a regular person.

Focus your presentation.

Focus your presentation on one main point – The Takeaway.

Every sentence, story, aside, example, metaphor and analogy must support the single takeaway you want the audience to get.

Remove everything else. Be ruthless.

A short focused pitch is worth twice what a long, rambling one is worth.

BizDev Excuses

I have heard these pitch excuses 1,000 times.

The other guys have an in. They don’t like us. I get nervous in front of them.  Our work could be better. I wish we had more time to prepare.  The PowerPoint is boring. Our big idea is small. We don’t have enough detail. We have too much detail.  

When you are preparing for a pitch and someone is constantly telling everyone why you can’t win, throw him out of the room.

Instead tell me why you will win your pitch.

Add Creativity to Your Pitch

A strong presentation is 50% logic and 50% creative. The logic is the content which is easy to assemble and can usually be done quickly.

The creative element requires time. Percolate on the presentation for a day and look how to connect dots with interesting metaphors, analogies and stories, especially in the opening.

Pitch no-nos

3 Don’ts in a pitch

-Don’t start with the agenda

-Don’t begin by talking about yourself and your company

-Don’t open with a joke

Lessons from Losing a Pitch

If you lose a pitch have someone* call the prospect to ask specific questions about the pitch.  Did the team seem engaged? Were they interesting? Knowledgeable? Did they talk too much? Not enough?  What did other firms do better?  What one thing should they have done differently?

What you’ll learn will be gold.

*The best person to make this call is someone not associated with the pitch team and who remains neutral throughout the conversation.  It’s too late to be defensive.

Be Great, Not Perfect

Perfect is the Enemy of Great.

People sometimes get so fixated on making a perfect presentation that at the mere flub of a word they crumble. It isn’t worth it and the audience will never notice.  Make a great presentation. Not a perfect one.

Pitch Etiquette

It’s not uncommon when pitching in a team that one person who is not presenting keeps adding information to the person who is presenting. Don’t do this.  It’s distracting to the audience and throws the presenter off. Wait until the end of the segment to add the information, if you must.

Presentations Should Never Go Over Time

At a presentation skills seminar I attended the trainer said  “never run over your allotted time.  Especially in a business presentation, time is precious.”

I agree.

 PS: Her presentation ran 14 minutes over.

Where to Sit in a Pitch

When pitching a new client face to face, the most important people on your team should sit closest to the prospect.  Who are the most important? It varies by pitch, but if the reason for the pitch is for the client to get to know who she will be working with directly, then they are the ones who sit closest, and speak early in the presentation.

When running an interview on Zoom, make sure the key people do most of the talking.

Handling Q&As

Don’t let your pitch end at the Q&A segment.

Leave time at the very end to come back, reiterate the takeaway, thank everyone and ask for the business.

How To Make Your Business Development Interview Powerful

Nothing causes more anxiety than a new business pitch. The folks on your team want to win the business and not be the one who says the dumb thing that scuttles the effort.

Over the years I have been in hundreds of pitches and learned valuable lessons the hard way. Here’s a baker’s dozen of them:

www.jackerossin.com/how-to-make-your-business-pitch-powerful/

What’s In It For Them?

Everything you say in a pitch should be framed as a benefit to the prospect.

-Don’t  give the history of your firm unless you can say why it is a benefit.

-Don’t introduce your team without explaining the benefit to the client of having those people.

A Pitch Blueprint

Most companies, when they open an interview, work from the left to the right.

Who  →    What   →    How →    Why

Companies that are consistently successful tend to open with the benefits the prospect will gain. Right to left. They start with the Why.

Here’s a blueprint for making a pitch…

www.jackerossin.com/a-pitch-blueprint/

Who Goes To a Pitch?

There’s a never-ending debate of how many should go, and who they should be.

Only the people who will have an active role in the pitch  should go to the pitch…with one exception.

If the only contact with the prospect is through a BD person, that person should go and start the meeting by making introductions.  Then, he is done and sits back for the rest of the meeting and the rest of the relationship.

The same is true in a Zoom interview.  The more people you bring, the smaller the video screens, the more confusion from too many people talking.

How To Be Persuasive

Most people try to be persuasive by giving a dozen reasons to buy their product.

Often it is the non-verbal things that are the deciding factors for your audience. People tend to buy from folks who appear confident.

The way to look confident is easy; have good posture, make eye contact, smile, speak in a strong voice and don’t be afraid to move your hands and arms.

The more confident you act, the more likely they will buy whatever you are selling.

 Business Pitches

A friend who shall remain nameless* wrote me the following:

Oh, I’ve been sitting in on presentations from very good agencies this week.  The sameness of them numbs me, however.

            We put clients first

            We have a passion for your business

            We have really really good media contacts

            We are clever problem solvers

Better to demonstrate these things as solutions to the prospect’s issues rather than say them.

* The fabulous Sally Jackson

How to Handle the Q and A Session

The Q and A session at the end of a pitch is an incredibly important part of the overall presentation and should not be left to chance.

Here are a dozen pointers to make your next Q and A a home run: www.jackerossin.com/great-qa-sessions-win-business/

All Pitches Have One Topic

The topic of a pitch should always be the same…how can the audience use your knowledge and experience to benefit their needs.  It’s always about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you.

Business People Should Be Storytellers

Storytelling is the most persuasive form of communications, yet, business people often shun being storytellers in presentations because they don’t see it as “serious” enough.

Start every presentation with a story.  It’s more interesting and will relax you.It makes the point in a more memorable manner.

Winning at Business Development 101

Your chances of winning a pitch will be much better if the prospect likes you.  Here’s how to do that.

-Smile

-Listen

-Make eye contact whenever you speak.

-Stay within your allotted time.

-Answer questions when asked. Really answer them. No double-talk.

-Follow up immediately after the meeting with answers to questions you didn’t know.

-Be a good host. Make them comfortable.  Have drinks and snacks.

There are 3 things a prospect is looking for: Can you solve my problem? Can you do it in a simple, uncluttered way that is easy for me? Do I like you?

The Do-I-Like you part is crucial, so do all of the things suggested at the top of this blog.

How To Prepare a Business Pitch

When preparing your next business pitch, try not to immediately write how you will open the presentation, or the bullet points you want to cover.  Instead, think of every conceivable question your audience might ask you.  That’s your presentation.

The opening will be what you think the audience would answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?” That’s the only thing they care about. And, the only thing you should care about.

How to Ask for the Business

Even in workshops when practicing how to close an interview, people have trouble asking the prospect for business.  It’s just one of those things people hate to do.

But, if you don’t ask, then the answer is no. Some people start babbling.  They ask for the business but then keep chatting.  After you ask, stop talking.  It obligates the other side to respond.

Find a way to ask that is comfortable for you to say and then rehearse it.  For example, an ask can be: We enjoyed putting this demo together. Of course, we’d love to do real work for you. How do we go about doing that? Or, How do we move this conversation forward so that we might have a chance to work for you?

Ask and you shall be rewarded.

Focus on Prospect’s Problems

In a pitch, don’t waste time telling prospects how smart you are. Focus everything on the prospect’s problems.

They won’t start listening until you tell them how you will solve their problems.

We often want to brag about all of the bells and whistles our company can bring to the prospect.  We want to tell the prospect just how excited we are to be pitching the business.  None of this is heard very well by the prospect until you rephrase that language as a benefit to them.  This includes showing off how smart you are.  No one cares.  It never plays well.

Share Your Expertise

If you have an expertise, share lots of it freely with your audience.

They’ll value it enough to pay for more.

Offer to Help, Not Sell

There is a panhandler who calls himself The Town Crier. He constantly shouts at the top of his voice the time, weather, sports, major news stories, and lots more. The news is timely and useful.

I’ve noticed that The Town Crier’s cup is always filled with dollar bills. I often put one in. The other panhandlers have cups with a little loose change in them.

Sometimes in a pitch we focus too much on asking for the business and talking about ourselves. Create value by giving your audience information they can use, and even profit from. They will reward you with their business.

Get on with it, please!

I saw Monty Python’s John Cleese live the other night. At a Q&A session someone started by saying what an honor it was to be speaking to one of his all-time comedic heroes, etc. when Cleese interrupted and said in his best high-brow British “Get on with it, please”.

It reminds me of business pitches that start by telling the client how great they are, how smart they are, how excited we are to be here, etc. You can look into the clients’ eyes and see them thinking “Get on with it, please.”

Stop Selling

I suppose because we sometimes refer to meetings with prospects sales pitches, we’re selling our company and our differentiation.

Instead, focus on the prospect and their issues and offer ideas to help advance their business. If you have good ideas, they’ll hire you. If the ideas are differentiated, then they’ll understand your competitive advantage.

In the Opening of a Pitch, the Only Subject to Discuss is the Client

When a good server comes to your table he says two things: Welcome, and, can I get you a drink?

A bad server says: Welcome, here are today’s specials, can I get you a drink?

When you open a pitch be a good server. Attend to the client’s needs before you start selling your product.

Presentation Clarity Test

Here’s a good test of your next presentation. When it’s over will your audience know what you want and why they should agree?

Say ‘Cheese!’

Zoom, for better and worse, is becoming more and more prevalent. Eye contact still counts.  Look into the camera lens when you present. Your image on the other end will appear to be looking directly at your clients and coworkers.

Mix It Up

When making a presentation with lots of data and statistics, mix in a heavy dose of empathy. Use personal stories to make dull numbers come to life.

Presentation Tip: Negative Benefits

A powerful technique to use in an opening is to convey what the benefits are to the audience. Sometimes those benefits are negative.  Research indicates that people are more persuaded to protect that which they have than something they may get. They are more persuaded by “if you don’t do this you can lose 10% of your income” than by “do this and your salary will grow 10%”.

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Rehearsals

Zoom Presentations Require More Rehearsals

We’ve long known that when people make a presentation that is not in-person in front of others, that person rehearses LESS.  The reality is you need to rehearse more.  Even if you are presenting a PowerPoint , you need to think through and rehearse all of the animations and transitions that you should be building into the PowerPoint so that it is more effective on Zoom. 

Obviously it is valuable to rehearse the entire presentation a few times so that you feel comfortable, but, make time to nail down and feel good about your open and close.  That’s when the audience is paying their highest level of attention.

If you are presenting with others, it’s particularly important that you plan out the handovers so that the whole presentation runs smoothly asnd you don’t appear to be bumping into each other.

Create a Safe Rehearsal Zone

Rehearsal is extremely important.  It is equally important that everyone on the team feel they are in a safe environment to rehearse.  Safe means that they can fumble through ideas and concepts without people jumping on their every word. Safe means the leader is not trying to micro-manage the entire presentation and everyone’s part. Safe means that people can experiment with what they want to say and change what doesn’t resonate without feeling like a dope.

Fear of Public Speaking

People fear speaking in public more than death. (I’ve seen both things happen simultaneously in my workshops)

I have a theory based on my own speaking experiences. When I know the material, when I know everything about the material, I’m a pretty good presenter.  But, when I’ve memorized the presentation, then I’m nervous.  There’s a big difference between knowing and memorizing.

I get to know the material by discussing it, reviewing it, reworking it in rehearsals and presenting it over and over again —without a script—until I know it in my bones. I focus on the opening, because if I can get past that smoothly, the rest is cake.

You can’t avoid being nervous when giving a presentation, but you can feel very confident knowing the material better than anyone else in the room.

How to Win the Business Pitch

Recently someone told me that while they understand the importance of rehearsal, there is just never enough time to do it.  There’s hardly enough time to prepare the proposal and to think about the prospect’s challenges and solutions.

But, often what wins the pitch is the pitch.  All of the prep work you did needs to be choreographed into a seamless story that the client can grasp, appreciate and, recognize that it is coming from a well oiled team.  To do it best, everyone on the team needs to rehearse together.  Everyone has to make time.

If you don’t want to rehearse, or can’t do it, then don’t waste all of those hours and money preparing the presentation. Your chances of winning just dropped.

It seems crazy to put all of that time in schmoozing a prospect and investing in a proposal to waste it all because you couldn’t find time to rehearse.

Rehearse Like a Basketball Player

Professional athletes practice. They practice all of the time.  Even after playing 6 or 7 games in a row, basketball players come out the next morning to practice.

If you’re making a presentation you need to practice.  You need to think through all of your plays. How are you going to open?  What is the single big message you want people to take away? How will you summarize and what action will you ask of the audience?  Then you need to rehearse all of this in front of real people.

Now you’re ready for game day.

The Best Way to Rehearse

The best way to rehearse your presentation is in front of people. Any people.  Half of the reason we’re all so anxious about speaking in public is — the public. We worry about how our comments will be received, and if we look goofy saying them. So, while rehearsing in front of a mirror can help a bit, the best practice is in front of real people;  colleagues, spouses, children, strangers on the subway. On Zoom, you have the advantage of being able to connect with someone easily so that you can rehearse in front of them, and, you can record the session.  Watching yourself present will be an eye-opener. You’ll feel more confident.

Using notes in a presentation

The most frequently asked question in my workshop is whether the presenter can use notes or not.

If the notes are a couple of words to remind you of each topic you want to cover, then those notes could be helpful.

If the notes require that you constantly look down to keep your place in your presentation, then that’s a problem.  When you look down at your notes you can’t also keep eye contact with your audience.  You’re less interesting because you’re not thinking about what you’re saying, only about what you’re reading. You’re much more prone to get lost in your remarks because if you do lose to your place, you have no life-line. And, the audience loses interest in you when you don’t have eye contact.

Not using notes does require a certain amount of preparation and rehearsal, which most people hate to do.  But, if you’re going to all that trouble to put yourself on the line in front of others, why not invest the time to make yourself great.

Rehearse Transitions in a Presentation

One of the many reasons everyone needs to prepare and rehearse is to have intelligent transitions from one thought to the next.  You may know the subject matter cold, but unless you’ve planned the flow of your remarks, you can fall into an awkward pattern in which you repeat the same things over and over as you search for a bridge to the next part of your comments.

If you have properly revised your PowerPoint to make it works more effectively on Zoom, then you absolutely need to rehearse to coordinate with the various animations you inserted into the slides. 

Don’t assume because you know the topic that you know the speech.

Prepare and rehearse every time.

Video Your Presentation Rehearsals

Much of the work that goes into presentation skill training has to do with very basic techniques – volume, eye contact, posture, smiling, enunciation, etc.  These techniques are so basic that one client, a lawyer, questioned whether he should spend time working on them because he thought he had command of these things whenever he spoke.

But then, after he saw himself on video tape, he realized he didn’t do any of them.  In fact, he scowled and mumbled. His only eye contact was with the ceiling.

“Watching myself on tape changed my presentation style dramatically.  It was amazing.”

You’ll become a better, more powerful speaker fast when your training includes videotaping every exercise, and using the Zoom record system.

5 Body Language Techniques to Focus on in a Zoom Presentation

-Eye contact. Look at the lens of the camera as you speak, not the screen.

-Smile. It’s still an easy way to connect with the audience.

-Get Stoked.  Look like you want to be there.

-Volume. The audio is crucial in a Zoom presentation.  Use a microphone and headset.

-Postures/Gesture. Don’t sit slumped over when you present.  We encourage hand and gesture use, but keep your hands close to your body and don’t flail.   It makes you look wild on the screen.

How to Rehearse a Team Presentation

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”    Muhammad Ali.

Training.  Rehearsal. Same thing. Everyone needs to rehearse. And, everyone hates rehearsing. But, you got to.  If you are presenting with others, they should also be at the rehearsal.  Pay particular attention to how each person opens and closes their segment and how each person hands over to the next person.  If possible, rehearse without notes so you get to know the material and not memorize the script.

Thanks Champ.

Rehearse the Whole Pitch, Not Just Words

Try to rehearse your entire presentation, not just the words.  Rehearse how you will stand, gestures, pauses, theatrical embellishments. Rehearse how you will work the room with your eyes.  If you will be presenting seated, rehearse seated. Duplicate as much of the real situation as possible.

And, always rehearse in front of others.

Presentations Require Preparation

The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.

Bobby Knight, Basketball coach

 Behind every great presentation are lots of hours of preparation.  Lots and lots.

Helping Others Rehearse

If you are helping someone rehearse a presentation, follow Alex Haley’s advice: Find the good and praise it.

It’s more important to make the speaker confident than to nitpick a word or two.

Memory Technique

I’ve found it’s best to learn a speech point by point, not word for word.

–George Plimpton

Weeks of Prep, Minutes of Rehearsal

When I was in advertising, I saw that most teams spent weeks putting a campaign together and minutes thinking about how to present it to the client.

If you create brilliant work but have a dull presentation, it isn’t the client’s fault if they don’t buy it.

If it sounds like a speech, rewrite it.

Your presentation should sound like you, not like a formal, structured thesis.  You are best when you are you.  As you rehearse the text out loud if it doesn’t sound like the you we all know and love…start over.

Rehearsal Etiquette

When helping a colleague rehearse a presentation,  the more positive the discussion, the more positive the outcome.  The closer the rehearsal is to the actual presentation, the less critique and the more praise usually makes for a happier outcome.

How to Give a Presentation Without Note Cards

Instead of note cards use a process called chunking.  When we arrange information into groups, it’s easier to remember. That’s why a phone number is chunked into sections instead of one long 10 digest number.

 617-413-6106

Arrange the content of your presentation into 3 or 4 sections.  It will be a lot easier to remember, and easier for the audience to digest.

 If you need help call me.

Always Have a Dress Rehearsal

Rehearsals are valuable. The last rehearsal, the dress rehearsal, is particularly important.

Here is how to make that dress rehearsal more productive:
-Once you start the rehearsal, it’s game conditions. You don’t stop until the end.
-If someone flubs, they must keep going. In a real presentation you can’t start over.
-The time for comments and fine tuning is over. Be careful of changing any speakers content or role too close to the actual pitch.
-If you are presenting as a team, rehearse as a team.
-Rehearse in similar physical conditions to the real location. Sit and stand as you would in the real pitch. Ditto handovers.
-If using PowerPoint and other presentation visuals, who, on the pitch team, will control the remote and set-up.
-Everyone says their entire part, no “and then I’ll say yadda yadda yadda”
-Have people sit on the other side of the table to present to. If you are going to have a Q&A session, have those people ask questions.
-Check your timing when finished. Allowing for the Q&A period, your total time should never exceed the time allotted.

Finish the rehearsal positive and charged. Avoid laundry lists of criticism. If you are the pitch leader, smile, be positive and everyone will join you and think good thoughts.

Rehearse Like the Greats

The legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90. “Because, I think I’m making progress,” he replied.

You want to make a great presentation?

Practice. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Practice.

Video Killed the Radio Star

In a recent class at Harvard, when we videotaped the presenters for their ‘final exercise’, something  amazing and reoccurring happened.  In a class of 24 doctors, each person commented on seeing something about their own body language that they had no idea they were doing.  What needed to be fixed was always easy to do; like smiling, eye contact, and posture.  Have a friend or coworker videotape your next rehearsal or presentation.  Use Zoom to record your next presentation rehearsal.

Presentation Tip: Rehearsals are Fail-proof, PowerPoint is not.

A former student wrote recently that during a presentation he was giving, the computer crashed. No PowerPoint! Luckily, he’d been taught how important rehearsing is. Not only did he nail his presentation, but afterward a number of colleagues congratulated him on one of his ‘best presentations yet’. This is an important lesson about presenting: Tech will always fail us; rehearsing never will.

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How to Close

Don’t Close with a PowerPoint Presentation

In the Zoom world, it is difficult to get attention, so you need to refresh the audience frequently.  You can refresh with a break in the way you are presenting, showing a video refreshes, asking questions and having a conversation is a good way to refresh.  We need to do  these things because the audience’s attention is straying, no matter how good their intentions.  

One of the most important segments in a presentation is the close.  It could contain a Q&A session as well.  If only to refresh the audience, when you get to the close and don’t need your slides anymore, close the PowerPoint which then allows all of the participants to fill the screen and see each other.  Now let’s talk.  Have a Q&A, then make your close, which might include a call to action of some sort.

A close is much better done connecting with the audience (to the extent you can) and not a more limited view because the PowerPoint is blocking everyone.

Winning Opens and Closes

Richie Havens was a folk rocker and the first performer at the original Woodstock concert.  He was asked how he puts his concerts together. He said he only rehearses the first song he’ll open with and the last song he’ll close with.  Everything in the middle just “rolls out”.

That’s excellent advice if you’re preparing a presentation.  Focus on the first thing you’ll say because it gets most of the attention and sets the table for the rest of the pitch. Then, know how you’re going to close the pitch.  The middle is typically the stuff that you already know lots about and you’ll probably need less time preparing.

Make sure to rehearse your opening number and your closer before you take the show on the road.

Rehearse your exit line before you start

Here’s a really easy tip that will give you more confidence when you speak.

Before you start your comments at a meeting or in a presentation, have a very clear idea of how you want to end your remarks. There’s nothing worse than watching a good speaker searching for some line or story to close his/her talk. And, knowing your exit line is a great lifesaver if you get in trouble and need to bail out early. You’ll have the close ready to go and get you off the stage with elegance!

Write a winning presentation.

1) Identify the one thing you want the audience to remember in terms that are a benefit to them.  Build that into the very opening of the presentation.

2) Demonstrate that benefit in the middle of the presentation

3) The close is an echo of the open.

You Must Ask for the Business

The #1 reason people give to charities is because someone asked them directly to make a donation. Without the ask, there is a lot less giving.
Don’t forget that in your pitch you must ask the prospect to do something: Hire us. Use our services. Adopt our point of view. Whatever it is, don’t assume the prospect knows what you want them to do. Ask them directly and specifically.
The logical place to do that is after the Q&A section and in your close. Summarize the key points you discussed and then look the prospect square in the eyes and ask for the business.

Close With Energy

There are two times in a presentation that the audience is probably listening to you; at the very beginning and the very end. A lot of people run out of steam at the end and don’t put enough punch into the last thing they say. They don’t have the same volume and energy that they had in the beginning of the presentation.   The end of a pitch is a great opportunity to suggest an action step, get a buy-in, or, receive a nod of approval.  But, you won’t get it if you don’t ask.  And you need to ask with energy and a smile.

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Openings

Openings Matter More in Zoom

The challenge we all have in using Zoom is that the audience is highly distracted. Everything we do must be aimed at focusing their eyes and their minds.  The Opening plays a crucial role in that. 

Research indicates that an audience listens more intently in the beginning of a presentation. So, a good opening must grab the audience, communicate the key points, indicate why those points are benefits before you move on to the next section.

Use a Soft Opening

Retailers will often open a new store with what they call a soft opening.  It’s a more casual, less official opening to make sure everything is working.  If you are presenting a PowerPoint in your next presentation, use a Soft Opening.  

Instead of starting with the PowerPoint loaded up on the screen, start with just the video square of yourself and of all the other participants.  This gives you time to connect and chat that you wouldn’t have if the PowerPoint was running.  It also allows you to give a short preface to the audience for what they are about to see. Their attention will probably be pretty good because it is you talking with them, not presenting to them. Then announce that you are going to switch to the PowerPoint and begin your presentation. 

Bring your benefit to life

In an opening, tell the audience what the benefit to them is of whatever you are proposing.

Recently in one of my workshops a participant made the benefit even more personal.  She was proposing a plan to colleagues which would shorten their work day (because of sharing equipment).  Instead of just saying this plan will “save you time” she said “this plan will give you the summer to enjoy because you’ll get out of the office much earlier each day.”

Her audience immediately ran out and bought sunscreen.

Benefits Go Into the Opening

While there are many strategies to consider in opening your pitch, let’s agree that those first 5 minutes can make or break you.  Regardless of the strategy, the direction of what you want to say should be heavily influenced by the benefits you are proposing.

Develop the benefit by asking yourself what challenges lay in the road for your client.  How will those challenges hurt the client’s success. When you find a legitimate challenge that you can help the client overcome, you have the basis for your opening. When you articulate that challenge to the client, they will be all ears.

There are lots of reasons you might not win a pitch — price, chemistry, expertise. But, you should never lose because you presented poorly.

The most important part of a new business pitch

You have their attention, but not for long. Make the most of it. There are four or five different strategies for an opening and one easy rule: the opening is never about you or the company you represent.   The opening is always about the prospect. Everything you say in the opening should be aimed at making the prospect’s life easier, richer and more successful.

One strategy for an opening is problem-solution.  Start by discussing an issue you know is important to the prospect (you know because you’ve asked enough questions previously) and talk about how your solution solves that problem.  If you can convey that information by way of an interesting story, even better.

You’re never going to win every pitch, but you should never lose a prospect because of a weak pitch.

Winning Opens and Closes

Richie Havens was a folk rocker and the first performer at the original Woodstock concert.  He was asked how he puts his concerts together. He said he only rehearses the first song he’ll open with and the last song he’ll close with.  Everything in the middle just “rolls out”.

That’s excellent advice if you’re preparing a presentation.  Focus on the first thing you’ll say because it gets most of the attention and sets the table for the rest of the pitch. Then, know how you’re going to close the pitch.  The middle is typically the stuff that you already know lots about and you’ll probably need less time preparing.

Make sure to rehearse your opening number and your closer before you take the show on the road.

The Secret to a Great Opening.

Say this 50 times. It’s not about me. It’s about them.  It’s not about me. It’s about them.

If you want to get someone’s attention, talk about them. Talk about their issues, their challenges.  Their brilliance.  I guarantee you they will be spellbound.  And, the more you talk about them, the more interesting they’ll find you.

Too many presentations start with the speaker talking about themselves, their company, the agenda and introductions.  Forget it.

It’s not about you. It’s about them.

3 Things to Make Your Presentation Better.

1) Tell a story. Most people are much calmer in telling a story than “delivering” a speech.  So, if you start your presentation with an appropriate story, you’ll be less nervous and more confident. Stories happen to be a great technique in a Zoom presentation.  Audiences like to hear stories and give the presenter more attention when they are being told a story, than they would with any other kind of narrative.

2) Smile. There is nothing that you can do to the rest of your face that communicates more powerfully than a smile. It’s a way of connecting with the audience. You smile. They smile back.

3) Be stoked.  If you don’t look like you are interested to be in the pitch, don’t expect the audience to be interested. Big voice. Gestures.  Strong posture all communicate how excited you are to be speaking.

Put Your Best Stuff Into the Opening!

In a trial, the jury sometimes decides innocent or guilty in the first five minutes after hearing each lawyer’s opening remarks. The deciding factor for the jury is siding with the lawyer who seems most confident. Two important lessons come from this: juries or prospects or clients make their decisions very early in the process, so put your best stuff into the open.  Secondly, learn the techniques that confident speakers use.

These techniques are relatively easy to master: strong eye contact, powerful voice, good posture, animated face, arms and body, the use of storytelling, command of material, speaking with passion.  Practice 2 or 3 of these techniques  in each rehearsal and you will be a much better presenter.

Audience Participation

Some speakers like to start their presentation by asking the audience a question or in some other way involving them in a two-way conversation.  “Hi Everybody, how are you all feeling today?”

Have you ever noticed how awkward that technique can be?  The audience isn’t ready to participate. They want to gauge you and get their bearings on the topic.

It’s OK to get involved with the audience, just not at the very beginning. That’s the time when you need to demonstrate you are the most confident speaker in the universe.

On Zoom, you need to ask for more involvement than you might normally do.  Promote using the Chat button or just have them raise their hand with a question.  You need to keep getting the audience to focus on you.

Write a winning presentation.

1) Identify the one thing you want the audience to remember in terms that are a benefit to them.  Build that into the very opening of the presentation.

2) Demonstrate that benefit in the middle of the presentation

3) The close is an echo of the open.

Don’t Rush the Opening of a Pitch

You’re making a competitive pitch and the prospect asks you to hurry along. He or she has a lot of people yet to interview and wants you and your crew to present quickly.  When this happens, be afraid. Be very afraid.

You rush through the opening and leave out important information.  The way you opened sets the fast pace for the rest of the pitch so now everyone on your team rushes.  The big idea that you worked so hard on never gets a fair airing because it was presented at high speed.

There is nothing more important than the opening. Even if your time has been cut in half, do the opening the way you rehearsed.  If you constructed the opening properly it will contain the most relevant information the prospect needs to hear.

There are lots of reasons you might not win a pitch — price, chemistry, expertise. But, you should never lose because you presented poorly.

Ask for action in the beginning of a pitch

The purpose of most presentations is to motivate the audience to take action.  Sometimes that action is obvious, as when a prospect is interviewing competing companies and will choose one.

Sometimes, though, it’s valuable to inform the audience in the opening of the action you want them to take. ”Today I’m going to make a case why we should go in direction A , why that direction is most beneficial to your long term interests and how you can make this happen.”

Even people responsible for making decisions need to be reminded when they have a decision to make. When not asked, most people will not take action.

Delivering Bad News

Sometimes in a presentation you need to deliver bad news. Perhaps the budget isn’t going to work, or some facet of the plan can’t happen, or a valued partner changed his mind.  When is the best time in the presentation to deliver bad news?

In the beginning.

Getting bad news out in some portion of your opening serves a number of purposes: It positions you as an honest person with nothing to hide. It allows the client to evaluate whatever you are presenting in light of this bad news.  It gives you a chance to use the news to build your case in the pitch.

Getting the bad news out early is the good news this week.

Front Load the Opening

Some presenters like to tease out the information over the course of the presentation, and then make a big reveal at the end.  It’s much better to front load your presentation with the key information people need. Give your audience as much information as soon as possible. Don’t hold them in suspense.  If on Zoom, assume you will lose their attention pretty quickly.

The more they know, and the faster they know it, the more they’ll pay attention.

Status Report Presentations

If your presentation is reporting on the status of things rather than a pitch or formal presentation, use the 6 O’clock News opening technique.

Give all the headlines first then dive into the specifics, usually starting with  either the biggest story or the most controversial.

Don’t Waste the Opening

The speaker had a seemingly terrific opening – self deprecating and charming – although it had little to do with the rest of his presentation. A day later I could repeat the opening verbatim but had no recall of what the presentation was about.  What was this firm bring to me. What problems did they solve. What challenges did they overcome? 

If You’re Excited, Show It.

We’ve all seen speakers who start by blandly saying “how excited I am to be here today”.

To paraphrase a bit I saw on The Daily Show,

Are you really excited?

Really? Excited?

Would you mind telling your voice, face and personality that you are really excited?

How to Get the Audience’s Attention

“It is becoming increasingly clear that attention is the new currency.” And this was before Zoom.  You can only imagine how bad it is now.

Your audience will listen better when what you say is immediately seen as a benefit to them.  We used to think the challenge in a presentation is to be interesting, but in today’s world your audience is multi-tasking even as they sit staring at you.

Tell them how what you are espousing is a benefit to them.

Great Opens and Closes

None other than The Great Communicator himself, Ronald Reagan, said “You begin with a hell of an opening, you coast for a while, and you end with a hell of a closing.”

Two Things Guaranteed to Put Your Audience to Sleep as an Opening

-Introductions of your team/company

-Agenda

Instead, start with the challenge you are solving for the client said dramatically then circle back to all of these housekeeping items.

Open in Character

A great opening cures a multitude of sins. One is that it gets the speaker in character faster. Much easier to be personable when, for example, you open with a story and not an agenda.

Never start with an apology

When you open with “This might be a bad idea, but…,” or “I’m not an expert, however, ….” or ”I’m sorry this took so long…” it gives the audience permission to dislike your presentation.

Storytelling Abuse

One of the big trends in opening presentations these days is storytelling. Stories are the easiest way for most people to communicate. We are more relaxed when telling stories.  Audiences seem to like stories. Nervous speakers are less nervous when telling a story.  And all speakers who start with a story have a higher degree of confidence.

So.  What’s the problem? More…

How to Own the Audience

The other day in my workshop, a participant had a sensational opening:

“So, I’m sitting in the emergency room when the doctor says to me, ‘You know, that’s the cleanest cut I’ve ever seen from a chain saw.’”

Now you own the audience.

Presentation Myth: Funny Openings

While it is true that you need to get attention, being funny doesn’t always do that.  Grab the audiences’ hearts and minds by telling them something that will make their job easier, or make them more money, or make them look better in their boss’s eyes.

Then they will be mesmerized.

I’ve been asked to speak about…

You’ve all heard presentations that start with “Today I was asked to speak about…”

 That kind of opening has at least two major problems: 

  • The audience must wonder just how passionate and committed you are to the subject.  You were asked to speak. What did you really wish to speak about?
  • The opening softens your body language too much.  You’re not strong and passionate, you are motionless and unsmiling.  

Try it yourself. Start a presentation first with “I was asked to speak..” then try it again with a more passionate opening “I want to talk about something that will change your life…”  It’s a night and day difference.

Pause Before You Open a Pitch

Lots of speakers start talking as soon as they get to the front of the room, and leave immediately when they finish.

The power of the speaker would be much stronger by pausing 4 seconds before you start speaking to settle and make eye contact. Then, after delivering your closing line, take another 4 seconds to look at the audience again before you turn and leave.

If you are making a presentation on Zoom, don’t follow this advice.  No pauses.  Get into the subject quickly.

Open Like Sondheim

A great opening is motivating for the speaker and the audience; it’s like the overture of a Broadway show. It puts everyone into a positive frame of mind and establishes a theme that runs the rest of the way.

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Fighting Nerves

Fight Presentation Nerves

 If this is a Zoom presentation, go on the Zoom site a few minutes early and start chatting with people as they sign on. Just that chat will calm you down. This is like stretching before exercising.

 If someone asks you what you’re going to be talking about, tell them an abbreviated version of the opening.  It will make you much more comfortable and confident about the presentation, and you’ll have friendly faces in the audience who will encourage you.

Don’t jump into the PowerPoint immediately.  When you are ready to begin, give a casual opening about what they will see and why, then bring up the PowerPoint.  This allows you to connect with the audience further.

Fear of Public Speaking

People fear speaking in public more than death. (I’ve seen both things happen simultaneously in my workshops)

I have a theory based on my own speaking experiences. When I know the material, when I know everything about the material, I’m a pretty good presenter.  But, when I’ve memorized the presentation, then I’m nervous.  There’s a big difference between knowing and memorizing.

I get to know the material by discussing it, reviewing it, reworking it in rehearsals and presenting it over and over again —without a script—until I know it in my bones. I focus on the opening, because if I can get past that smoothly, the rest is cake.

One of the best techniques you can use to calm down is if this is a Zoom meeting, record your rehearsal.  That will actually make you more confident because most people see that they are already pretty good at this.

How to Be Less Nervous When Presenting

Here is a crazy tip for controlling your fears when presenting.  This technique will sound nuts, but it works.

When I wear a suit jacket or sport jacket, I’m less nervous. The jacket makes me feel grown-up and smart and protected. When I’m confident, I’m less nervous.

Before you speak, have a drink

When we get up to speak it’s not unusual to become dry-mouthed from the anxiety of being in front of a group.  Take a glass or bottle of water with you, or have a long sip before you speak.  When your mouth is dry it sets off a chain reaction of negative vibes.  Having water with you is also a good way to take a pause without looking like you’re lost.

Use a Conversational Open to Relax Yourself

We all get stage fright when making a presentation.  Fortunately, for most of us that nervousness can be controlled.

One trick to relax yourself is to use a conversational anecdote as a opening.  For example, perhaps you are at a conference and you’re the next speaker.  In your open you can talk about the general chatter that you’re hearing, or some famous celebrity you bumped into.  It’s not long open, perhaps 3 or 4 sentences, but it is enough to relax you so that when you launch into your real opening you are less nervous.

The nice thing about the conversational open is that it is usually of interest to the audience. As long as it doesn’t go on and on.

Any kind of talking prior to going up to the podium will also be a big help in relaxing you.  Just chatting with people in the audience, particularly about what you will be presenting, will make you more calm.  And, don’t forget to smile and use good posture. These are physical signs from your body to your brain that you are feeling confident.

How to Handle Presentation Nerves?

Everyone is nervous when making a presentation.  Everyone.  The question is how do you handle that anxiety.

try to be funny, which always gets me into trouble. Others talk non-stop, become repetitious, laugh at almost anything, speak very slowly, speak very quickly.

Get feedback from others on what you do. The next time you notice yourself doing it… pause. Take a few slow, rhythmic breaths and get back on your game.

For more tips on controlling nerves in a presentation, go to: www.jackerossin.com/stretch-mingle-talk/

A System for Controlling Your Nerves

Calm your sense of fear with slow, deliberate breaths.  Slower rhythm is better than deep breathing.  If you practice that every time you feel anxious (whether making a presentation or not) it will become a great tool to calm you down when you need to.

The Stage Fright Domino Effect

Everyone experiences anxiety when speaking in front of others.  Sometimes that anxiety can snowball.  We speak faster when nervous, which signals a heightened level of anxiety to the brain which makes us forget points to cover which makes us more uneasy.

When you feel the events starting to slip away, technique can help.  Slow down. Stand up straight. Look at everyone and smile. This tells your system you are back in control and to relax.

Presentations for Introverts

Introverts really do have a more difficult time making presentations but there are a few tips that would serve them well: Rehearse thoroughly.  Don’t go off script. Don’t ad lib. Start with a story.

One of the problems introverted speakers have is they read and react too much to the audiences’ facial expressions.  Just stay on script.

Signed, Jack (an introvert)

Stage Fright

The best advice to combat stage fright is to know the opening of your presentation better than you know your own name.  Know the opening like you know the Pledge of Allegiance, for example. It will give you incredible confidence and a lot less anxiety.

But, that’s only part of the story.  More….

Three Crazy Ways to Control  Presentation Jitters

1) Got presentation jitters? Blow on your thumb. “The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing,” says Ben Abo, an emergency medical-services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’ll get your heart rate back to normal.”From Men’s Health Magazine

2) Chew gum.  The activity seems to calm you down.  Just be sure to spit it out prior to show time. 

3) Curl your toes. You read this correctly.  It switches you attention from that which is making you nervous. I’ve heard back from my students it really works.

Stage Fright Starts the Night Before

For many people, stage fright starts the night before your presentation as you conjure up horror stories of what could go wrong.

When you realize you’re doing that, stop yourself.  Don’t let your nerves undermine your presentation and confidence.  Visualize success instead. See yourself wowing the audience.

Another Cause of Stage Fright

 The Spotlight Effect is that you believe everyone is hanging on your every word so that when you say the wrong thing the audience will be critical.  Reality: The audience doesn’t listen that closely. Ever.

Science-based Way To Handle Nerves in a Presentation

Feeling nervous? Don’t bother calming down. You’re better off getting excited, according to a new study from Harvard Business School.

Participants in several anxiety-inducing experiments consistently performed better when prompted to get excited rather than to relax, the study found. For example, people told to say “I am excited” before delivering a public speech gave longer, more competent presentations and appeared more relaxed than speakers told to say “I am calm.” The shift from anxiety to excitement may be eased by the fact that both are highly aroused states, suggested the author of the study, published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Passion Controls Nerves

When you speak with passion, it’s likely that you’ll feel less nervous.

Take whatever you are presenting and start with the part that you are most passionate about.  You’ll be less nervous and the audience will be more attuned.

This Is Not Acting

When you are acting, it is important to remember your lines and know your partners lines so you know when to step in.  In giving a presentation, don’t memorize your lines. It’s a conversation.  If you say the wrong things most people won’t even notice. 

 Boo! A Halloween Tip

One of the fascinating things about public speaking is that when shy speakers are asked to wear a mask, they become dynamic speakers. They lose their inhibitions and turn on their passion.

The challenge for all of us is to wear a mask to every business presentation without anyone knowing.

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Confidence Tips

Confidence in a Zoom world

Confidence is the key to a good presentation. When the audience senses you are confident in what you are saying, they are apt to believe you, and to do as you suggest.  When running a Zoom conference, your face is magnified and the audience can much more quickly tell whether you are faking it or not.

In A Zoom Presentation, Don’t Give the Audience Reasons to leave

It’s hard enough in a Zoom meeting to keep the audience glued to your content.  Don’t make it easier for them to stray.  Keep a strong eye contact with the lens. Sit up.  Get stoked.  Look and speak like you want to be there. Tell stories. Smile.

1st, Get Attention

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that in a presentation we don’t have to worry about stopping people and getting attention because they’re in the room across the table from us or on our Zoom screen.  But don’t confuse having their physical presence with having their actual attention and interest.  You always need a strong open to draw focus and build excitement, even if it means setting your hair on fire.

Storytelling Makes You Appear More Confident

We are at our best when telling stories.  We are more animated, make better eye contact and are generally more confident.  If telling stories makes you more confident which causes the audience top believe in you more…tell more stories. 

Inhibitions Harm Presentations

Inhibitions harm the potential of your talk.    When you’re inhibited you are reluctant to speak in a bigger voice, or be theatrical. You’re monotone. You don’t tell stories. You’re less animated.

Why does that happen? I don’t know but in studies they’ve found that people present more effectively when everyone is wearing a mask.  People have less inhibitions with anonymity.

It’s difficult to simply ask people to turn their inhibitions off.  But, you can be more sensitive to your own inhibitions and how they are impacting your presentation.

Holding Attention in a Presentation

The folks in your audience have a short attention span.  After about 30 seconds people start wandering in and out of the speaker’s comments. There are tricks to keep them tuned in for more than that.  Eye contacts keeps people more connected. An animated speaker helps. A strong voice also keeps attention longer.

A transition from one point to the next is a great opportunity to bring them back. The transition should not be seamless. Be abrupt.  It gets attention.

As you start the transition pause briefly, then, with new energy, or different modulation or different pacing start on the new topic. It’s as if the audience is being treated to a whole new speaker. They’ll be reinvigorated. So will you.

Look Confident and You Will Win Pitches

How many times have you heard this? You’re nervous about having to make a presentation and someone tells you to just be yourself.

That’s awful advice.  In order to make an impact with an audience you need to speak in a bigger voice. You need to deliver your information in a more theatrical way. You need to work hard on making eye contact with everyone in the room. You need to rehearse.  You need to be compact in what you say.  You need to be confident and compelling.

If just being yourself includes doing all of those things all of the time — great. If it doesn’t, don’t be yourself.  Put on the persona of a confident presenter and knock their socks off.

Make the presentation you rehearsed

I can’t tell you how many times people about to make a presentation decide, at the last moment,  to change something crucial.  Often they change the opening.  It happens because a previous speaker gave them a new idea, or just because they had second thoughts.

When you change at the last minute you don’t have a chance to rehearse.  No rehearsal means less confidence.  And, when you don’t have confidence, the audience can smell it.

Give the presentation you planned and rehearsed.  You’ll do great.

Good posture conveys pride in speaking

Good posture signals to your audience that you want to convey things to them that you are confident to discuss. Good posture for meetings and presentations is not a military posture, which can look anything but relaxed. It’s a prideful posture. Chest out, shoulders slightly back. Head held high. Big smile.

If you’re seated, sit closer to the edge of the seat, lean in towards the table but don’t slouch.

Posture is just as important in Zoom presentations. If you are too far from the lens, or slouching, you’ll styart top lose your audience faster.  Don’t give them reasons to leave.

Presenting at a Podium

Stand Tall Behind the Podium

-Don’t touch the podium, don’t lean on it.  Speak as if there’s nothing in front of you. The podium is a place to keep notes, hold a microphone and to scratch yourself discreetly.

OR

Stand to the Side of a Podium, this conveys great confidence.

Presentation Posture

Standing tall and proud is a powerful weapon when you are presenting. The audience reads that posture as belonging to someone who is sure of himself, confident in what he is presenting and immensely passionate.  You’re not slumped over. You’re not looking like you just found out your cat will never get into college.  You believe in what you are saying.

And the audience buys every word.  All this from imitating how Arnold Schwarzenegger stands.

Just make sure you don’t talk like him.

Think Positive During the Whole Presentation

Often in my workshops when someone is called up to speak they walk tentatively up to the front as they mumble something like “well, here goes nothing.”

When you are called to speak, walk up to the front with great purpose, conviction and confidence.  Even if you are scared to death, let the audience believe you can’t wait to talk.

Be strong. Walk forcefully with your head high and a bounce in your step. Look everyone in the eyes and belt it out.

I guarantee you’ll be better for doing it this way.

How Speaking Volume Adds Energy to Your Presentation

Where does energy come from?

Sometimes speakers are criticized for not having enough “energy” in their presentation. One easy technique to inject more oomph into your talk is to speak in a stronger voice. It’s a human-nature trick. When you speak louder, your face becomes more animated, your posture straightens out, and, your arm and hand movements are more engaging.

Present With Confidence

The winner in every political debate is the one who seems the most confident.

The ability to seem confident when speaking is the strongest card you can play.  Stand up straight. Look people in the eye. Smile. And, believe what you are saying.

What To Wear in a Presentation

How you dress has something to do with not only the way people perceive you, but how you perceive yourself.

When making a presentation, dress in a way that makes you feel most confident and most positive about yourself.

Smiling Makes Your Voice More Interesting

Another reason for smiling  has to do with your voice. It’s much easier to modulate your voice when you’re smiling. Try the opposite. Put your serious face on and talk. You instantly become monotone. You’ll notice that your face reflects the monotone. No animation. No smile. No nothing.

Presenting at a Table

When presenting at a conference room table, don’t sit at the end of the table. Sit close to the middle.  You can be heard better and work the room easier.

When it is your turn to present, sit on the edge of the chair, make sure the chair seat is as high as it will go, then lean in with your arms on the table. Don’t sit back until you are finished with your presentation and have answered every question.

Oh, and smile.

Confidence Presentation Tricks

80% of a great presentation is perception, 20% is factual.  When the audience perceives you as confident, they are more inclined to be persuaded by what you present.

Confidence is all about technique–posture, eye contact, strength of voice, smile and other physical manifestations.

Non words

Many people think that the sign of a good speaker is someone who never uses verbal ticks like “ah” and “um”.   But, I disagree. The best way to judge a speaker’s impact is if that person conveys a sense of confidence.  Audiences are swayed when they believe the speaker is confident. We all have verbal ticks.  As long as you don’t have so many that the audience is counting you’re OK.

What really matters is that you look and sound like you believe in what you’re saying.  If a few ahs and ums slip in while you’re talking, don’t let it bother you.

Personal Presentation Plan

If your desire to improve your presentation skills, then the first step is this:

Resolve not to be your own worst enemy. Don’t tell yourself you can’t present, or that you’re not good in front of people or anything like that. Presenting is like learning any skill. You’ve got to master a few of the basic techniques, practice, get good feedback and you’ll be great.

Go through my tips.  Find one that you really need to work on and do it over and over again.

Bottom line: If you can stand up straight, look people in the eye, speak in a big voice and smile, you can be a great presenter.

Sit or Stand in a Presentation?

In every workshop I’m asked whether it’s better to present sitting or standing.  There’s no question.

-When you STAND, you have command of the room.

-When you STAND you make better eye contact.

-When you STAND your body language says you are in control.

-When you STAND you can gesture more, be heard and seen easier and move closer to the audience, if you need to.

-If presenting slides or other graphics at an easel, stand.

-Even in a Zoom presentation, you will make a better showing if you stand.

The factors that would motivate me to sit are a few:

-If it is a more intimate setting, with just a few people, sitting is preferred,

-If you meet with these people regularly, sit, but save the standing to make a point in a major presentation.

Elevator Speech Techniques

When delivering your elevator speech remember these two techniques-

Take a slight pause after you say your name. That way people will hear and remember it easier.

-Don’t give the name of your business right after your name, it’s too much information. Separate the two with other stuff.

Making face to face contact is the most valuable way to market yourself, so be prepared.

Answering Questions from the Audience

While making a presentation, if someone in the audience asks a question or makes a comment, it important that you listen “actively”. Don’t just stand there motionless. React. Nod your head. Acknowledge you understand to show you are listening intently. Same with questions to you on Zoom.

This keeps you in control of the presentation and shows supreme confidence.

Losing the Audience

What do you do when your audience starts to glaze over?*

Here are a few tactics:

-Pause. Whenever the presenter stops speaking, everyone looks up to see what’s happening.

-Change your tone. Slow up and speak a little softer, or speed up and speak louder.  It’s an attention getter.

-Move. Just changing the side of the room where you are presenting to the other side will refresh the audience.

-Address the issue.  Ask if people need some clarification or if they want to take a short break.

-Be self critical. Are you speaking too long? Are you really connecting with the audience?

It’s a very good idea to contact members of the audience by phone afterwards and ask them to evaluate the presentation.  Everyone needs feedback.

*This has never happened to me.**

**This week.

Presenting is a Skill, not a Talent

You can make a good presentation is you learn a few basic skills. You can do ballroom dancing if someone teaches you some steps.  Playing golf requires learning how to stand, how to hold the club, the motion of the backswing and other movements.

If you want to be proficient at something, learn the techniques required to do it correctly.  Don’t wing it.

Most people aren’t born great presenters.  They can become great by taking lessons and practicing them.

The audience wants to love you.

We all get nervous when going into a business pitch and we sometimes paint a picture of the prospects as being stoned faced, ill humored people who hate everyone.  That couldn’t be more wrong.

Prospects on the receiving end of a pitch want you to be great. They want you to hit the ball out of the park. Their responsibility is to interview a bunch of companies and pick the one they think will the do the best job.  If you’re great, you’ve just made their job real easy.

Not to mention that when you think the prospect hates you, she will.  You’ll make sure of that. Think positive.

The audience is your friend. Be great.

Presenting Seated

I video participants when they are presenting. Sometimes they are standing, sometimes seated at a conference room table. Whenever someone sees himself or herself on tape sitting while giving a presentation, the first thing they notice is posture. It’s usually bad. Too relaxed.  Too slouching.

Having them sit up straight makes a profound difference in perception. They now look confident and strong.

Elevator Speeches in Noisy Rooms

Typically, when you are in a situation where you would want to roll out some version of your elevator speech, it’s a networking situation.  It might be crowded with people and loud with music and noise.  It’s not ideal.  It’s important to be heard so make good eye contact and speak up.  Lean in when you say your name.  Then, take a slight pause after you say it.

People will hear and remember your name better.

What to do when the audience is stone-faced.

It happens.  The audience just is not responding to you.  It could be the subject matter, the speaker, or the audience is tired and uninspired.  Who knows?

You’ll be tempted to crack jokes and lighten up the delivery.  Don’t.  Continue to make eye contact. Smile, but stay serious and focused. Don’t rush. Finish according to plan.

It’s impossible to Wow the audience every time.  There are too many moving parts, many of which are out of your control.

Presentation Dress Code

Improve your personal curb appeal when presenting.

Research shows that people are more likely to listen and agree with someone who is dressed well.

Persuasion takes more than words.

 Taking Questions in Presentations

A presentation I attended recently started with the group leader saying they would take no questions until the end. That announcement would have had a warmer reception if they first sprayed us all with weed killer.

Taking questions as they arise says you are confident in what you are presenting.

Warren Buffet’s Presentation Training Idea

That Warren Buffet is so smart.

Early in his career he came to grips with two realizations:

One. His business success will be profoundly and positively influenced by how well he could speak in public.

Two.  He was scared to death of speaking in public.

 But, he faced his demons, enrolled in a presentation training workshop, and made a few bucks.

For more tips, go to www.jackerossin.com/and-now-lets-go-to-the-video-tape/

Audiences listen with their eyes.

 Good posture, strong eye contact and a smile say more than all the words you speak.

 Create a Habit

Pick one thing* that would make you a more powerful presenter and consciously weave that into your everyday conversations until it takes root.

*For example, stronger eye contact, more inflection in your voice, better posture, smiling, animated facial expressions, more arm and hand movements, pausing for effect, listening with your eyes, speaking in a larger voice, building the takeaway into the very opening, storytelling, more use of metaphors and similes, ending with a call to action, pacing. Pick something already.

Great Speakers

Don’t try to emulate speakers you admire.

Speak in your own voice.

Looking Confident is Job #1

You can have the greatest content and the best ideas, but if you don’t look confident when you present, your great ideas will experience a power failure.

Look confident.  Present brilliantly.

Make Them Believe

Belief is More Powerful than Proof.

Your presentation can be loaded with facts and figures, but if the audience doesn’t believe in you,  then you won’t convince them.

Look confident and they will buy whatever it is you are selling.

If you say it with confidence, people are more likely to believe you.

When the scarecrow in Wizard of Oz receives a diploma he declares “the sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the other side.”

For 80 years audiences believed him because he said it with confidence.

But, he was wrong!  The sum of the square roots of two sides of a right triangle is equal to the square root of the hypotenuse.

Speak confidently, my friend, and know your geometry.

How to Add Energy to Your Presentation

Volume = Energy 

I was working 1-on-1 with a young woman. We shaped the opening and close content effectively, but her voice and body language was weak; her delivery hesitant.

I suggested she speak in a much bigger voice. Not shout, but really push herself.  Magically, Super Woman emerged from this timid frame.

She said the bigger voice gave her power and confidence that she never knew she possessed.

The Most Important Part of a Presentation

You Are the Presentation

No one reads a comic strip because it is great art. They read it because they like the characters and story.

No one watches a presentation because the PowerPoint is awesome.  They watch because of the presenter and the topic.

Gestures Add Energy to Your Presentation

Gestures help the audience and the speaker. 

Gestures increase attention and paint a picture for the audience.  If you are saying that the effort to do something will be huge, for example, just holding your hands up and far apart underscores your point and is memorable to the audience. 

Gestures add energy to your voice and delivery. It’s hard to be monotone and quiet when moving your hands and arms.

Webinar Speaking Tips

One of the problems of making an on-line presentation, or a webinar, is that the participants usually sit at a table when speaking.

Most of us tend to show less energy sitting than when standing, so be sure to either speak in a larger and more animated voice, use your hands a lot, or, stand during the presentation.

You’ll be amazed at how much more persuasive you will sound.

Rehearsal Is More Important In Zoom Meetings

Research indicates that people making on-line presentations rehearse less than if they were presenting face to face. Zoom meetings, especially with PowerPoint, requires more rehearsal to get the timing of the slides down.

Eye Contact Wins Business

In a presentation, making eye contact is one of the most important things you can do.  It will help you win business.

Even if using PowerPoint, your eyes should be on the audience, not on the screen. Have a laptop at the podium or on a table so you can refer to it while facing the audience, instead of constantly looking over your shoulder.

Passion Makes Presentations Unforgettable

In the past few months I have seen almost 75 presentations.

The ones that stood out and that were memorable, and that the audience responded to the most, all had one common element. The presenters spoke with passion. You could see it in their body language. You can hear it in their voice.

It’s difficult to coach speakers to be more passionate but if you can help them find what ignites their own passion within their narrative, the presentation will be unforgettable.

Eye Contact Works

The most persuasive technique in a presentation is eye contact. It compliments people in the audience. It makes you look more confident.

Tom Peters was asked what he reminds himself about most in business. He said “Do I make eye contact 100 percent of the time?”

It’s not always necessary to be confident, but crucial to appear confident.

When presenting, it’s not always necessary to be confident, but crucial to appear confident.

We think that the audience evaluates us on the content of our words and slides, but they really decide for or against on body language.  If you look confident, they will buy whatever you are advocating.

Use Your Hands to Speak Powerfully

-Research says that when a speaker uses animated hand motions, the audience is much more likely to get the gist of what he is saying.
-Hands also gives the speaker more energy and confidence.
-Our voice tends to be flatter and less interesting when not using hands.
-A Harvard study says that when a speaker itemizes things on his fingers (I have 3 things to reiterate…) the speaker is seen as being charismatic.

Winning pitches use active language.

Passive language makes you sound weak and uninspired: “We understand that you want to complete this project in record time. Here is our approach.”  Passive language says you are an order taker.

Active language tells the prospect you are in charge: “Here is our approach to complete this project in record time.”  It’s a subtle but very powerful difference.

The bonus for using active language is that it will convince you that you are the leader, and you’ll act accordingly.

Cheers! Holiday Tips for Toasts

 During the holidays lots of parties often result in lots of toasts being made. 

Here is some advice for people making toasts: Holiday Toast Blog

Speak for Yourself

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”  -Vincent Van Gogh

When you hear a voice from within saying you cannot speak in public, get up and speak.  Once you practice a few skills and get a little confidence you’ll be unstoppable.

It is more difficult to be persuasive on Zoom. New strategies must be used.

1) Offer content in smaller bites 2) Animate bullets in PowerPoint 3) Focus on Opens and Closes

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Content Tips

Developing Content for a Zoom Presentation

Unlike a normal presentation, Zoom presentations work better when you give small amounts of content out at a time.  For example, in a PowerPoint animate the content so that you can show and discuss just one line at a time.

Zoom presentations need to be shorter and cover less material, but cover it more repetitively.

Writing a Presentation is like packing for a Trip

When you start to write a presentation, follow the same process you might when packing a suitcase.

Layout all of your clothes on the bed first.  You’ll probably choose things by the nature of where you’re going and what you’re going to be doing. Put the basic things you need in one pile then figure out how much space you have left and pack the rest. A common traveling mistake is packing too much.

When preparing a presentation first layout all of the things you have to say, given the audience and time constraints.  Think about your takeaway – that one thought you want people to remember when the speech is over.  Pack things that reinforce, underscore and demonstrate the takeaway. Put everything else back into the closet.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to write the speech from the opening through to the close until you know everything that has to go into the suitcase.

Enjoy your trip.

How to Write a Presentation

When it’s time to write a presentation, most people put together an outline which they immediately turn into a PowerPoint.  They rehearse it once or twice to themselves, and then think they’re good to go.

Writing a powerful presentation is like writing a good article. You write, then rewrite, then rewrite some more.  Professional writers rewrite their work a dozen times. Look to make it more condensed. Try to eliminate half the bullet points. Knock out the redundancies and overly glib lines. Just put the key points on the slides, not every word you’re going to say.

Be single focused.  Ask yourself what is the one thing you want everyone to remember and make sure it is in the open, middle and close.

Finally, have a friend listen to you present it.  Fix those parts where they either pass out or glaze over.

Work it, baby.

Stilted Language in Pitches

Sometimes on the TV news you’ll see a police officer being interviewed at a crime scene.  He’ll explain, “The gentleman walked into the bank and brandished a firearm which he subsequently used to make threats against the teller unless the gentleman was given all of the proceeds in the drawer.”  It’s so funny to use such formal language to describe a criminal low life who robbed a bank.

We often use formal language in business presentations, as well.  “Without further ado I’d like to present Joe James to you who will present the agenda points of today’s meeting.” Did it not occur to anyone to just say “Here’s what we want to cover today”? It’s not only a more economical way to speak, it’s clearer and shows much more confidence than that stilted way of speaking.

Start talking like you do to friends, without further ado.

Make Your Message a Benefit

When pitching your offering to a prospect, package your message so that they are solutions to making the client’s life easier.  We’re all interested in solving our own specific problems, so when you phrase things as solutions to the prospect’s problems, you’ll have rapt attention and ultimately robust business.

It’s never about you.  It’s always about the prospect.

Avoid Quotes in a Presentation

One of the more popular techniques in speaking is to quote a famous person.  “As Einstein said…blah, blah, blah.”

Avoid it if you can.  It often comes across as stiff and condescending, it might be slightly off of the target message you want to give and it’s always a diversion.  Instead, put the time in to think about what you wanted to communicate by using that quote and how you can say it better and more personally in your own words or with a story.

Go through your office and donate all of those Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations books you have to charity.

Short Stories Work Best in Presentations

Storytelling is a terrific way to communicate. When you start a presentation with a story it calms you down.  When you make a point with a story it can be dramatic and memorable.

Stories are also valuable in Zoom presentations because they pull the audience back into the screen. Stories are good. Long stories, with lots of side bars, back stories so long you need to take a bus; asides, explanations and other interruptions are bad.

Construct the story in a manner that allows it to flow easily.  If there are things that happened in the story that are extraneous to the reason you’re telling it, don’t mention it.  You don’t have to tell a story exactly the way it happened nor in the order the events occurred.

Practice telling the story among friends and relatives. Why should they be spared?  If you watch their faces as you tell the story, you’ll quickly learn where to edit.

Delivering Bad News

Sometimes in a presentation you need to deliver bad news. Perhaps the budget isn’t going to work, or some facet of the plan can’t happen, or a valued partner changed his mind.  When is the best time in the presentation to deliver bad news?

In the beginning.

Getting bad news out in some portion of your opening serves a number of purposes: It positions you as an honest person with nothing to hide. It allows the client to evaluate whatever you are presenting in light of this bad news.  It gives you a chance to use the news to build your case in the pitch.

Getting the bad news out early is the good news this week.

Non words

Many people think that the sign of a good speaker is someone who never uses verbal ticks like “ah” and “um”.   But, I disagree. The best way to judge a speaker’s impact is if that person conveys a sense of confidence.  Audiences are swayed when they believe the speaker is confident. We all have verbal ticks.  As long as you don’t have so many that the audience is counting you’re OK.

What really matters is that you look and sound like you believe in what you’re saying.  If a few ahs and ums slip in while you’re talking, don’t let it bother you.

Pauses Don’t Work in Zoom Presentations

I’m a big advocate of using pauses in a presentation.  But, in a Zoom meeting the pause sounds like a technical problem and people start to try to adjust their computer.

Stories Rule

I ran a refresher workshop recently with a group I led 2 years earlier. In my workshops everyone has to tell stories so I asked if anyone remembered the stories from last time (2 years ago). Without missing a beat one person stood up and recounted every story while others in the group filled in details.

People remember stories. They remember everything about stories. Storytelling helps you communicate better and is the easiest, least nerve-racking way to present.

Shorter Presentations are Better

“Be brief, be bright and be gone.”

Teresa A. Taylor, the COO at Qwest, gave this advice about making a presentation.

Some people think the more they talk, the more important they will be perceived.  Listen to Ms. Taylor.  The more compact your presentation, the more you will be seen as confident and your presentation as brilliant.  Get rid of jargon, stay focused on the one idea you want the audience to remember and support it with data and stories.

Write a Presentation on Paper, before Making a PowerPoint

When writing your presentation, don’t use or even think about PowerPoint.

Develop and write what you’re going to say first.  Identify the one thought you want the audience to take away and then determine how PowerPoint can add to the impact with stark graphics that bring a point to life and a few key words that reinforce your message. When you create a presentation in PowerPoint first, it gets very wordy and uses silly visuals that are gratuitous.

You may even find you don’t need PowerPoint at all.

Use Metaphors. It’s like Pressing the Easy Button

Recently, we had a water crisis in New England and our tap water was compromised causing complicated rules on water usage. But one official simplified things by using a metaphor when he advised people to  “think of your water supply right now as a lake. All the things you might do in a lake you can do with our water.” It quickly explained what we should and shouldn’t do with the water.

Although I did try to go fishing in my bathtub.

Empathy Works

An attorney is defending a union official accused of falsifying ballots. Addressing the jury, the attorney says the charges against her client are as prosperous as that of a nurse accused of doctoring medical records.

The analogy was well planned. There was a nurse on the jury; and, identifying with her worked. The official was found innocent.

Look for occasions to empathize with your audience.  It can keep you out of the slammer.

How Many Points in a Presentation?

Someone somewhere set in stone the notion that a good presentation should have at most 3 main points. Try this math instead.

A good presentation makes a single point.  That point is articulated in the very beginning. It is proved through facts and stories in the middle. It is summarized at the end.

If you do all of that and do it well, there’s a chance the audience will actually hear and remember it.  If you try to convey more than that one point, they won’t hear anything.

One point. One.

This advice is especially useful if you are making a Zoom presentation.  Getting and holding the audience’s focus is difficult.  It’s better to make one point repetitively than to try to cover lots of material.

Don’t Engage the Audience Too Quickly

Some speakers like to start their presentation by asking the audience a question or in some other way involving them in a two-way conversation.  Have you ever noticed how awkward that technique can be?  The audience isn’t ready to participate. They want to gauge you and get their bearings on the topic.

It’s OK to get involved with the audience, just not at the very beginning. That’s the time when you need to demonstrate you are the most confident speaker in the universe.

What to Do When They Cut Your Time

When you learn at the last moment that the allotted time for your presentation has been cut, here are some suggestions of what to do:

-Cut chunks of the presentation out, or cut out an entire section. Don’t take a little from each section.

-Put even more emphasis on your open and close, which may now constitute the bulk of the pitch. Do not touch the open and close. Leave it just as you planned it.

 -Don’t complain at the presentation that your time was cut.

-Finally, and most importantly, don’t rush through the presentation. You worked hard to prepare.  Present at a normal pace with confidence.

Take your time and make a great presentation.

Focus Your Presentation

Every sentence, story, aside, example, metaphor and analogy must support the single takeaway you want the audience to get.

Remove everything else. Be ruthless.

Cover less material.

One of the sins that many speakers commit is that they try to cover too much material for the time slot they have. By all means, use the time given to discuss your topic, but instead of drilling deep into the details, emphasize a single point.  Sell it with stories, examples, demonstrations and passion. Find other angles to come at the point. Invite audience participation. This is a Golden Rule is presenting on Zoom.

 When to Rehearse

Don’t rehearse until you have the content locked down.

Trying to do both at once hurts each.  Then have at least two rehearsals, the last being a dress rehearsal (no stopping, no comments).

If possible, the best time to rehearse is in the morning when everyone is fresh.

Rhetorical Questions Add Emphasis

Instead of saying “You’ve put a lot of time into this project, spend a little more cash to get the best contractor,”  ask it as a rhetorical question:

“Given how much time you put into this project, don’t you think you should spend a little more cash for the best contractor?”

Way stronger.

Make Cliches Work

Clichés can be very helpful in bringing more color to your presentation.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” might be good advice when discussing allocations. Be sure the cliché’s meaning is obvious. Telling someone to “push the envelope” without a tangible example is vague.

Keep On Editing

Most presentations run too long, and, dive too deep into the weeds.  Always edit edit, edit.

In my opinion….

Avoid qualifying language in a pitch or presentation. 

When asked a question don’t respond with “To tell you the truth,”  or “Candidly”  or “To be honest” and the ever popular “In my opinion”.

A direct response is perceived as much more truthful, candid and frank…in my opinion.

Make Your Data Dynamic!!!

Data, statistics and other computational information take on a powerful role in a presentation when designed creatively. 

Get rid of the standard graphs and charts and look at ways of showing data that will build your case.

Check out, Best American Graphics

Using Notes in a Presentation

The more you read from notes, the less you connect with your audience.

This is true even if you are doing an on-line presentation and the client can’t see you.They can see if your eyes are on the lens or on the screen.

How Long Should a Presentation Run?

In the book, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds, research indicates that 18 minutes is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention.

If you are making a Zoom presentation. Cut all of that by half.

Be a Better Storyteller

The #1 crime of most storytellers is a heavy handed reliance of chronology. “Then we did this and then that happened, and then the phone rang and then the cat jumped on the table.”  It sounds like they are reading an instruction manual instead of telling a story.

Great storytellers don’t worry about the precise order. They only worry about the impact on the audience. And, if they do tell something out of order, only they know.

Part of the assignment in telling a story is to be entertaining, so don’t get too hung up in whether or not the story is 100% accurate.  It’s there to make a point, not to offer expert testimony.

How to Give a Presentation Without Note Cards

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It’s called chunking.  When we arrange information into groups, it’s easier to remember. That’s why a phone number is chunked into sections instead of one long 10 digest number.

Arrange the content of your presentation into 3 or 4 sections.  It will be a lot easier to remember, and easier for the audience to digest.

If you need help call me.

Analogies Paint Word Pictures

In an interview recently, Joel Osteen said that “a good analogy makes the rest of your presentation easy, almost writes itself.”  Mr. Osteen is a TV minister who has turned analogies into an art form.

Although the center of his sermons are fairly repetitive, the openings often start with an analogy, like the time he was shopping in the supermarket and noticed an aisle that sells damaged canned food for 50% off.  The food inside the can is fine, but the label is torn or the can dented.  He then likened that to people who have had a tough time and are a bit beaten up by life, maybe not wearing the best clothes, but inside….

You can see how such an analogy becomes the structure for a  whole presentation.  Analogies paint word pictures for the audience that they can quickly grasp. You don’t need an art department or clip art to use them.

No “buts” in Your Presentation

If you have something exciting to say in a presentation, don’t follow it up immediately with “but”, it flips the emphasis from the good news to the bad. Don’t use “buts” in your content.

For example, don’t say “The new program offers real opportunities, but the ordering system is more complicated.”

A better way is to separate the two thoughts and drop the but. “The new program offers real opportunities, (pause) and a few challenges with the ordering system.” In this way you don’t yank the rug out from the good news.

Avoiding “buts” also allows you to appear more positive, body language-wise.

Beware of Free-Floating Stories

There is a reason you are telling the audience a particular story. Let the audience in on that reason (e.g., how to drive value, resiliency, learning from mistakes, etc.)

Show, Don’t Tell

When senior people are interviewing for a new job, demonstrate leadership, not credentials.  The reason you are being interviewed is because of your resume, now show what you can do with it.

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It Is More Difficult to be Persuasive On Zoom. New Strategies Must Be Used.

1) Offer content in smaller bites 2) Animate bullets in PowerPoint 3) Focus on Opens and Closes

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