1st, Get Attention

Billy Mays was the pitchman on TV commercials who yelled at the camera.  An article about him discussed his style:

The hardest part of making a sale is stopping people, whether they’re wandering by a booth or flipping channels. For Billy his volume, energy, hand gestures, and faux authority (“Hi, Billy Mays here for …”) are all tactics to get attention and build excitement.

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.  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.


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.

2) Smile. There is nothing that you can do to the rest of your face that communicates more powerfully than a smile.

3) Create energy by speaking in a bigger voice. That doesn’t mean to yell, but to really speak strongly.

When you do your body becomes more animated. Your arms and hands more orchestrated. Your posture is straighter.

Practice these things in front of real people (not a mirror) and you’ll wow the audience when it counts.

Inhibitions Harm Presentations

Inhibitions harm the potential of your pitch.    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.

Now you got them right where you want them.

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.


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 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.

Bad Advice: Just Be Yourself

There are two common assumptions about making pitches that are sure to get you in trouble. The first is to “just be yourself”. Trust me. Yourself isn’t that great.  Effective speakers use business theatrics to help them add energy to their personality.

Second bad assumption. The audience will listen because what I have to say is important.  Correction. It’s not what you have to say but how you say it that makes it important. Your audience will judge much of what you say by your body language.

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.

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.


Never leave the office without your elevator speech.

Invariably someone will come up to you and ask “So, what do you do?”  The best elevator speech answers that question as if it were asked “So what do you love about your job?”  Phrased that way you’ll answer with great passion and a sparkle in your eye.

Prepare and rehearse.  Once you’ve outlined what you want to say in your elevator speech, practice it every time you’re about to go into a speaking or networking situation.

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.

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

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.

Watch the scarecrow at the end of the Wizard of Oz when he receives a diploma and 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 More Energy to Your Presentation

“He Needs More Energy.” 

When a presenter is criticized for not having enough energy, it may have to do with their volume.

When you speak in a stronger voice, you get more energy.  Your face is more animated, your posture straightens out, and, your hands and arms move like Bill Clinton.  Try it.  When you speak softly, your entire posture becomes too relaxed.  A bigger voices makes you look more confident.


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.

Warren Buffet’s Presentation Secret

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.

The Boss’s Role in a Presentation

Most CEOs I know are pretty good speakers. They present well and explain effectively.  But, when they work in a team with their staff on a pitch, CEOs sometimes turn into a very real presentation problem….More.

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 be.

Rehearse Your Webinar

Have you noticed that people on a conference call or webinar “ah” and “em” more than usual?  There might be a few reasons for this:

          -They are less focused than in a face to face exchange.  It is more difficult to stay engaged in a phone presentation so the “ah”s and “em”s are used while they try to reconnect to the conversation.

          -Research shows that people who present on line don’t rehearse as much as when they have a face to face meeting, so they may be at a loss for words.

If you are the presenter in this situation, remove all distractions (no multi-tasking), focus on the conversation and add a little more oomph to your delivery.

Control Your Body Language

The 3rd base coach isn’t the only one who flashes signs.

I ordered a salad which meant the waiter had to up-sell me to top it with chicken or steak. As he asked – would you like steak tips with that– he shook his head no.  Jamaican jerk chicken? Grilled shrimp? Before I could answer he shook his head no each time.

Be aware of subtle body language signs you might be issuing even as your words indicate something different.

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.

But, even with that, it is for reference only. Hopefully, you know your presentation well enough that you don’t have to read it word for word.

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?”

How to Ask for the Business

In the close of your pitch, ask the client to hire you.

Stay silent after you ask. No matter how difficult that silence may be, wait until the client responds.

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

champagne-1035912During 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.

Now go forth and present.

Everything we do is based on the premise that the more confident the audience perceives you…

…the more likely they are to agree with you. This website is loaded with tips, tricks and advice on how to appear more confident when you are speaking in public.