Tag Archives: public speaking

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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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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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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My Passover Story


When I was 12, I did the things most 12 year old boys do.  One day strange things started happening to me. Hair grew in odd places, smells rose from odd places and I started growing taller.

The same thing happened to all the boys in my posse; a bunch of 12 year olds all going through puberty together.  We spent hours together.  We would ride our bikes around the neighborhood until it was too dark to see and had great fun.

Because we were all starting to grow taller…fast, all of the boys asked their parents for adult sized bikes.  Until then we were riding short, squatty bikes, but it was time to make the change to a 26 inch adult bike.  We were probably a tad too short for adult bikes, but a few more months growth would fix that.  Soon everyone had a new 26″ bike…except me.  My family couldn’t afford a new bike, and I knew it.  I asked anyway but was not surprised by the answer. 

This was all happening as spring was starting to burst in the Philadelphia area. In those years I would often watch a TV show on the ABC affiliate, channel 6.  It was called The Sally Starr Show.  Aunt Sally was a woman in her late 60’s dressed as a cowgirl with a big cowgirl hat and 6-shooters on each hip.  She was the host of the show and would announce which Popeye cartoon or 3 Stooges rerun we would see next.  I loved the show.

One day she opened the show by saying “Now boys and girls, you’ll want to hang around until the end of the show and Aunt Sally (she referred to herself in the 3rd person) will show you how you can win a brand new, beautiful 26 inch Columbia bicycle.”  She had me.  At the end of the show she stood behind this beautiful red bike and reviewed the rules of the contest.  We had to send a wrapper from Double Bubble bubble gum in an envelope addressed to Aunt Sally.  Starting in a few weeks,  she would pick an entry every night for a month and call the contestant up and ask a nursery rhyme question.  If they got it right, they won the bike.

I practically broke my leg running out the door and down the street and through the vacant lot to get to Angies, our local grocery store, to buy 2 pieces of Double Bubble bubble gum.  They were only a penny a piece, but I only had two postage stamps so that’s all the gum I needed.

On the way home I froze in panic.  It was Passover and we were a religious family.  Food that wasn’t “blessed” for Passover was not permitted in the house. My mother was very strict about that law.  Although I didn’t check, I was pretty sure Double Bubble bubble gum was not approved for Passover by the rabbis.  I was petrified that my mother would find me with the offending gum and strip me of my Jewish heritage.  So, I removed the pink Double Bubble bubble gum cubes from the wrappers and put them in my pocket.  When I got back to the house I could hear my mother upstairs.  The coast was clear.  I quickly hid the Double Bubble gum in the very rear of an end table drawer. I put each wrapper into the mailing envelopes, licked the stamps, and ran back out to find a mailbox.

And that was it.  I forgot all about the contest until a few weeks later when the phone rang.  We were part of a party line which meant we shared the phone line with two other families. The phone would ring each time any of the families received a call, but we each had a different ring pattern.  Ours was two long rings. In our house there was never a question of who would answer the phone.  It was always my 21 year old sister hoping that it was a social call of some kind for her.   She answered. I happened to be sitting in the living room and watched her as she turned pale, then said “yes” and then another “yes” and then turned to me as she covered the phone’s mouthpiece.  “It’s Aunt Sally” she screamed, “and she wants to talk to you!!”

I got on the phone and typical of a 12 year old boy had nothing to say. Aunt Sally did all the talking.  She asked my age, where I live, where I go to school.  She said the reason she was calling was because they were going to go on the air in 15 minutes and during the show she was going to pick an entry for the bike contest, and that she was going to pick mine.  I didn’t understand how she knew she was going to pick my entry before the show even went on the air, but I said something witty like “OK”.  She said “I’m going to call you and ask you a nursery rhyme question.  I’m going to ask the following question: Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of what?”  Before I can even answer she said “Water.  Water.  Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.  Let’s practice. Jack and Jill went upon the hill to fetch a pail of what?”  She waited.  I said “water” and she said great and said she would call me live when she is was on the air and ask me that question.

In about 15 minutes The Sally Starr Show came on live on channel 6.  Aunt Sally greeted everyone standing behind a red 26″ bike and said “We’re going to try to give this away tonight, but first, let’s watch a Popeye cartoon.

Anxiety overtook the Rossin residence.  As the cartoon was ending my sister had a scare.  She realized that at some point in all of this the phone rang but it wasn’t our 2 long rings, so we  ignored it.  She ran to the phone.  Sure enough, others from our party line were on the phone, so Aunt Sally would get a busy signal when she called.  My sister pleaded with them to hang up and turn on channel 6 to watch.  They did and a few minutes later Aunt Sally called.

I answered with a dull  “hello”.

“Hi, is this little Jackie Rossin from Chester, PA”

Yes.

Little Jackie Rossin.  This is Aunt Sally.

Hi.

Little Jackie Rossin, we just picked your envelope from all of the entries in the bike giveaway, so I’m calling to ask you a nursery rhyme question.  If you get it right, you win a 26″ Columbia bike.

OK.

Alright. Here’s today’s nursery rhyme question.

Before she even asked the question my sister was standing behind me whispering “water. water. water.”

Jack and Jill walked up the hill to fetch a pail of what?

Water.

Yes. Congratulations little Jackie Rossin you just won a 26″ Columbia bike, and a carton of Double Bubble bubble gum.

OK.

The next day I was the BMOC at my elementary school.  The principal took me to every class so I can tell them how I won the bike.

One post script to the story. It was no longer Passover when I remembered about the 2 pink cubes of Double Bubble bubble gum in the drawer.  By this point they were stale and hard as a rock but I still chewed them with great joy and think of Double Bubble bubble gum every year when I host our family’s Seder. 

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Don’t listen to Steve Jobs.

For years I have been haunted by Steve Jobs, the presenter.  He was an exquisite presenter, with a great style, presence and charisma.  We can all learn things from how he worked.

But for years, I had to combat those clients who read enough of Jobs’ presentation philosophy to be dangerous.  Jobs preferred graphics over words in his slides.  Clients tried to do the same thing, but they had two problems; they didn’t have the confidence to reduce the word count on the slides for fear they might miss something.  And, they used stock art and stock photos.  Some of the graphics were good.  Most were gratuitous and had little to do with the point of the narrative.

Jobs didn’t have to use stock photos for his slides.  He had a huge art department that spent months creating the perfect slide to convey the point Jobs was making.  Most of us don’t have such an art department, or budget, at our disposal.

So, while everyone tried to emulate Jobs’ presentation style, they couldn’t.  But, not just because of the slides.

Jobs was famous for preparation and rehearsal.  He worked his presentation until it was close to perfect and tweaked every word to get things just right.  Many of the clients I’ve seen put in a minimum amount of time for preparation and almost nothing for rehearsal.  If you are going to copy the great man, you gotta do everything he did.

Jobs was a minimalist.  He didn’t try to cover every product and every feature and every selling point when he presented a new product.  He had one big takeaway and 2 or 3 support points.  Most clients aren’t comfortable unless they empty the closet of every selling feature they can think of.

The greatest disconnect that most clients have with Jobs’ style is the product itself.  Jobs had spectacular, mold-shattering, beautiful  products that the world had never seen before.  Imagine if you are the presenter and what you have to show is a telephone no one has ever even imagined that also plays music and becomes a pocket laptop.  That’s a really easy thing to present. You own the audience from the moment you take it out of your shirt pocket.  You don’t need lots of slides to explain it or justify it. The mere demonstration of the product does it all for you.  OK, now imagine you are presenting instead, a line of shoes that are new but very similar in every way to what’s out there in the market now.  Or, you are presenting a process for auditing financial records which is a newer version of the one you introduced last year.  It is impossible to present them the way Jobs did.  The audience just won’t respond.  You may need to justify the presentation with more content, more words on slides, more data.

I am a great admirer of how Jobs presented.  He was a genius.  I loved that his slides were sparse, that he was disciplined to stick to a few points, that he spoke to the audience and not the screen behind him.  He had a terrific, yet simple mantra: concrete/simple/emotional.

Look at the new iMac.  It’s thin and light (concrete), it’s so thin it can slide into a manila envelope (simple). Isn’t it fabulous (emotional).”

There are lots of things we can learn from him (Read: Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo).  But, applying all of his techniques to each person’s presentation is never going to work.

Learn from the master, then make it fit your style and product.twitterredditpinterestlinkedintwitterredditpinterestlinkedin

The Foolishness of the Elevator Speech

elevator-449698_1280

For years, marketing people, management consultants and networking experts held forth on what the perfect elevator speech should say.  You know the elevator speech. It got its name on the premise that if you meet someone in an elevator and they ask you what you do, you are able to give a powerful blurb about yourself in the time it takes to reach the ground floor.

Many consultants pushed people to be “creative” with their elevator speech and at the same time had them load it up with benefits to the listener. That’s a lot of information in one or two initial sentences.

Most elevator speeches go something like this, “Hi, my name is Ray Brown and I help my clients find inner peace by underwriting for them the best damn business insurance program in the country.” Or… “Hi, I’m Susie Brown and I’m called the Duchess of Devotion because my personal mission is to help each employee get 100% of the benefits they earned and deserve.”

Most elevator speeches are used at networking functions.  I meet someone and make the mistake of saying, “Hi, what do you do?” then they unleash this fabricated salvo of words at me that sounds like they lifted a segment from a Tony Robbins seminar. It’s never conversational and always thrown at you as if it were a hand grenade.  “Hi, I’m Bill Smith and I help my clients protect the ROI on their investments by executing a 9 step program that looks under every rock for traps.”

A Better Elevator Speech

Here’s the problem with all these elevator speeches. They are canned, they are not in people-speak and they are awkward. It’s someone talking at you, not with you.   Here’s a better format:

“Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Bill Smith.”

“Hi Bill. My name is Jack Rossin.”

Then we might chat about why we are at the networking function, and often from something he says I’ll ask “Oh, what do you do Bill?”  And Bill says something like “I’m an accountant.”  And I ask “Big firm, small?” After Bill answers I might ask if there is an area he specializes in, how his business is these days, etc. If he works for individuals I might ask how all these do-it yourself tax programs have helped or hurt his business. I’m demonstrating that I’m actively listening to what he just said, not waiting for my turn to speak.

Then he’s probably going to ask me what I do and I say “I’m a presentation trainer. I help people become more confident with business communications.”  He’ll then ask me a few questions about my business.  The closest I ever get to “selling” is when I tell about the coolest part of my business — watching how awful presenters become OK presenters after a few hours work. (Please note.  I’m honest. I’ve never had a bad presenter become a great presenter overnight, but I’ve seen all of them move in the right direction.)

Then he might offer me his business card, I do the same, we shake hands and move on. I may make a note on his card to follow up if I think there is business or referrals there.

Get rid of your canned elevator speech. Live in the moment. Answer the questions asked without too much rambling, ask more questions of the other guy then he or she asked of you. Be interested and interesting. Have a real conversation. Smile. Listen. Have fun, exchange cards.  If something comes of it, great. If not, keep working the room. You gotta throw a lot of pasta against the wall before something sticks.twitterredditpinterestlinkedintwitterredditpinterestlinkedin