Tag Archives: Leadership


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.


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.


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.


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.



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


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.


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.


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