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The EYES Have It!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having spent a couple of hours walking around the National Gallery of Ireland, I found myself in the hall of portraits. This is a collection of paintings of famous Irish people, both living and dead, by famous Irish artists, also both living and dead.

My observation was that the paintings that connected with me and engaged with me were the ones that I felt the subject of the painting was watching me and looking straight back at me.

I was there as part of my commitment to give some time to art and creativity, one of the requirements when signing up to the Artist’s Way Program with my good friend Eve Earley.

My time in the gallery was both relaxing and stimulating, and got me thinking about the importance of eye contact in both our personal and public lives.

A wet fish handshake is not nice, but not looking at someone when having a conversation with them is a much bigger sin.

Let me tell you why you should look at people when having a conversation with them, be it one, five or hundred in your audience.

Eye contact says, I am interested in you and your ideas. Letting me know what’s important  and allowing a judgement to be made by  observing your body language, gestures, smile, frown, etc.

Most importantly when you take the focus off yourself and put the emphasis on your audience, it immediately reduces your stress levels and helps you to be a more effective communicator.

TIP:  Advice I always give to people I coach is, mingle with your audience 10 to 15 minutes before you are due to speak. Chat and have a coffee with 2/3 people, it will relax both you and them.  You can take this interaction to another level by mentioning them by name during your talk, e.g., “As John was saying earlier …”

For information on my next Presentation Skills Programme click here

You can choose to style yourself on Bob Dylan or Van Morrison and not engage with your audience or, as I would prefer, pay money to see Bruce Springsteen or Coldplay.

Most of us do not have the talent of any of these four artists, but we can engage with an audience, making the conversation more interesting for all parties concerned.

The purpose of a presentation or pitch is for your ideas to stick in the memory of your listener.

Recently, some minutes after six companies had pitched for investment, the adjudicators (me included) had completely forgotten 50% of the pitches; we could not even remember the companies’ names without prompting.

Make eye contact and this will improve your chances of being remembered.

P.S. This means no notes or very few!

My job is to help presenters’ ideas to stick/stand out so they will win sales and investment.

For information on my next Presentation Skills Programme click here

Remove Stress from Public Speaking! Come on a journey with me …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“All poems should begin in delight but end in wisdom”
Robert Frost

If you have an important presentation coming up, or a pitch for business, the above quotation is critical to your success.

Your talk must begin with delight – the audience must be engaged and entertained on commencement of your talk, but more importantly, they must see the wisdom of what you are proposing and how your suggestion will benefit them.

Analogy (one of the most powerful tools in a presenters armoury)

I often use the analogy of ‘planning a car journey with children to planning a talk to a business audience’.

In both cases you need to take your audience on an enjoyable and exciting journey that offers the prospect of an outcome which will be to their benefit.

Let me explain …

Car Journey Presentation Journey
1 Decide who’s going to travel in the car with you, e.g. your children and perhaps some of their friends The speaker must also decide who them would like to come along on this journey with him them, e.g. key decision-makers, etc.
2 There is some preparation required. Fill the tank, check the tyres, stock up on goodies for the journey Room layout, backup presentation on memory stick & computer. Clicker, spare batteries, timer, hard copy of presentation etc.
3 You are all set and pulling out of the driveway and telling the children about the great fun that will have at journey’s end. This is also what great speakers do, paint work pictures of how the audience will benefit from the journey they are about to embark on with you.
4 Shortly you will hear the immortal words ‘are we there yet’.This is where you have to start the first story or game – I spy something beginning with … It’s always best early in the talk to outline the problem you solve for members of your audience. This is often best done by ‘telling a story’ that fleshes out the issues that most concern your audience.
5 You have staved off the first round of ‘are we there yet’; you need to keep chocolates, toys, story books and a stop at McDonalds in reserve if you plan to make it to your destination intact. The opening was a success; you have your audience’s attention. What are you going to do next to hold their attention? I suggest using Analogies, Demonstrations, Examples, Facts, Statistics or Testimonials.Warning: Data overload is the greatest failing of speakers, so use the above sparingly.
6 You are now only 20 minutes from final destination and all supplies and entertainment skills have been exhausted and war in the car is fast approaching. This is where your planned masterstroke is unleashed. You reveal not only that you have ticket to the Amusement park but your tickets allow entry to the most popular ride without queuing!!!! Your talk must end by telling / showing the key influencers in the audience how you will make their lives BETTER as a result of taking your very specific advice. (Not a  bullet point list)
7 Action: Kids to stay quiet for next few minutes allowing you to focus on driving and getting them their even quicker. Action: The # 1 failing of speakers is not agreeing an action with the audience.So decide on the outcome you would like to achieve before ever setting out on the journey.

 

If you would like to know how to create great presentations that include analogies and other great presentation techniques please register here for my next Presentations Programme starting in Dublin on the 27th September.

 

Why are you nervous in front of some audiences?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why are you nervous in front of some audiences and not in front of others?

Regularly, I coach senior executives who are at the top of their game and leading major organisations with great success.

Yet, when I tell them what I do, they are all ears.

Why is this?

They tell me they can present on occasions without the slightest concern and feel they are comfortable and in charge, yet on other occasions their heart pumps out of their chest.

The reason for this is quite simple; the audience has changed.

With some audiences, they are in charge and not being evaluated by their peers, or are not concerned if they are.

On other occasions, there is some person or group who they feel they need to impress and prove themselves to all over again.

This person now has several options:

  • Rely on the presentation that they always do, and if they are honest with themselves, have probably lost enthusiasm for.
  • Add more slides and videos hoping to take the emphasis off themselves. Not a good idea as you are giving away your power and the video may not play on the day; this happens more often than you may think.
  • Delegate all or part of the talk to somebody else, it’s always good to share opportunities with your team, but it must be for the right reasons.
  • Ideally, with the support of a good coach, create a talk for this audience and no other.

 “There are only two types of speakers in the world: the nervous and the liars” – Mark Twain

CLICK HERE TO FIND INFORMATION ON MY NEXT OPEN PRESENTATION PROGRAMME.

Now we are back to the first question that needs to be answered – who is the one person in the audience that must hear your message; will that message be of benefit to them? (make them better?)

In any business audience, there is usually one key influencer and if he/she gets your message, others will also pay attention.

Here are the questions you have to answer in preparation for your next presentation:

  • Who is the audience, be specific; write down a name: ________________
  • How as a result of listening to you and taking your advice will this person be better?

You must answer this question clearly and succinctly (this is your take-home message).

Remember one of Stephen Covey’s habits of highly effective people is “Start with the end in mind.”

What you usually see, when asked to review organisations slide presentations, is a final slide with a list of bullet points about what the presenter hopes are the reasons for you going with his/her proposal.

This, I believe, is not what the audience wants.

They want to be told very specifically in a sentence or two why they should take your advice. Ideally this message should be supported by an image that visualises the benefit you bring to the table.

The analogy I often use for explaining this to a client or an audience is as follows:

How often have you felt deflated, believed you had wasted hours of your valuable time watching a TV show or reading a book only to find it has a most disappointing end?

Great movie directors and writers know how the film or book is going to end before they roll a camera or write a chapter.

So should you!  (A good coach can speed up this process.)

CLICK HERE TO FIND INFORMATION ON MY NEXT OPEN PRESENTATION PROGRAMME.

Create Memorable Presentations – Overcome Death by PowerPoint

 

Here are a number of questions for you –

Do the people who write story books for children start by drawing the pictures and then write the story? Or do they (as I believe) write the story first, and then have an artist draw the pictures that enhance the story?

This is clearly the sensible and practical way to go about creating successful children’s storybooks.

So why is it that many companies attempt to create the slides for the presentation before they have created an impactful narrative that will hold people’s attention?

This is definitely putting the cart before the horse as it would be explained in a storybook with words and images.

Here is another example of a situation where this arises. I will always look at an organisation’s website and LinkedIn profile pages before  arranging to visit them.

On arrival, I will strike up a conversation about the website, only to be told that the site is out of date or does not reflect where they currently are.

So if you want to create sticky messages that are remembered long after you have left the room or want a website that is impactful, please read on …

So how should you go about creating presentations and slides?

Firstly you need to ask yourself do I need slides, and more importantly does my audience require slides?

The expression “send me your slide deck” has become ubiquitous, but will people take the time to review your deck, and if they did would they be more informed about how you can be of benefit to them?

If you feel you must have slides, here is my advice as to how you go about preparing your talk and enhancing it with slides.

In previous articles I have advised about how to prepare talks/presentations, so this time let’s focus on creating the slides.

(If you’re having difficulty doing the above engage a communications coach to help you get your story down on paper)

Having created an engaging and entertaining story for your audience now get some blank pages and get started on the slides.

Give some time to thinking about what text and images will enhance your talk and make it more memorable?

Read over your talk with the blank pages close by, write some key words, phrases or sketches (stick drawings are all that’s required), some images that would enhance the talk.

Note: To be effective, slides must be capable of being read and understood in 10 seconds.

At the end of this exercise you will have a talk and a pile of pages. Lay the pages out on a large table and practice the talk out loud referring to the pages/slides where appropriate.

Based on my experience when walking through this process with clients, we generally reduce down the number of pages/slides by asking the question, is this slide for the presenter or the audience? The slides must always benefit the audience and not just be there to act as the presenters notes.

When this process is finalised, give the pages to a person who is good at creating slide presentations in your organisation, or externally to my friend and colleague Ed Fidgeon-Kavanagh of ClearPreso.com and let him do his magic.

“A great talk can be greatly enhanced by creative and imaginative slides, but remember, create the story first.”

Have you found this article to be informative? If your answer is yes, please like and share with colleagues.

Your Boss asks YOU to Present – Opportunity or Threat?

Recently I have met several people who have been given the opportunity to present on behalf of their boss, who was not available for some reason.

This opportunity can be viewed in several ways –

  • They are genuinely not available and need you to stand in for them.
  • They wish to provide you with an opportunity to grow and develop skills in this area.
  • They wish to test you in a pressurised situation.

You should view this situation as an opportunity to stretch, practice new skills and put yourself in the shop window for future opportunities and promotion.

“Good speakers impress, great speakers influence behaviour”
Mark Sandbourne, NSA President, 2004

What do you need to do to prepare?

Here are the basic pieces of information you need to know in order to prepare well:

  • Who is the audience and who in particular do you need to impress/influence?
  • What is the purpose of the presentation?

To inform the mind:

Impart some technical information regarding new software, company finances, health and safety issues etc. which will inform your audience leading to greater understanding.

Touch the heart:

Help your audience to emotionally attach to your suggestion/proposal.  Facts inform the mind, emotional attachment gets them to act.

Change the will:

Most presentations in some way or another are about getting people to change to your way of thinking. The businesses that change, evolve, innovate are the one that survive and thrive.

“Change is the law of life.
And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future”

John F Kennedy

If your wish is to be a successful leader you need to develop presentation skills!

An ability to communicate well is critical if people are to understand and buy into your message.

Do you need some advice, or do you know people who need to develop this skill?

Please share my article with them.

An Elevator Pitch that Rocks! (The 5 Steps + Video)

Recently, I was contacted by a previous client who is now working for an American multinational company; he had an interesting and exciting request.

His company wanted each of the sales team to produce a one-minute video which they will include in emails etc. that they send to prospects and customers.

Using the word video in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%.

So far straightforward you might say …

Why I was contacted was very evident when he sent me some sample videos they had produced internally with the help of one of their videography partners.

I have no doubt you are very familiar with this type of video, where the speaker talks not to the camera (you) but to some imagined prospect in the far distance.  All the participants looked stiff and uncomfortable and you would not be inclined to give them a call.

Here’s how I went about creating interesting and engaging videos for my new client.

Step 1:

I explained the three requirements a speaker should demonstrate if he or she is to be engaging.

1: Have EARNED right to speak on the subject

2: Be EAGER to speak on the subject

3: Be EXCITED to speak on the subject

All the team met the requirements, so we were over the first hurdle.

Step 2:

Decide on structure/template for the CONVERSATION.

I very deliberately use the word conversation here; prospects do not want to be pitched to, preached to or lectured to.

Elevator Pitch is the usual title given to a meeting where you get very little time to introduce someone to your business.

The story goes, you are at a conference and the person you were trying to meet all day gets into the same elevator as you on their way to the 47th floor.  What an opportunity to give them your pitch! (usually the whole 9 yards).

Based on my previous experience of elevator pitches, this person is very likely to press the emergency button and run from the elevator on the third floor.

Here is the outline of the conversation (pitch) I suggested my clients use:

1: Get attention

A headline that gets attention in the first 20 words or 7 seconds (this is what newspapers do):

’HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR’ – headline from New York Times.

2: Tell the prospect about the problem you can solve for them

(If you do not know what problems you solve, don’t bother them).

3: Introduce yourself

If you have got this person’s attention, they will now be more likely to listen and remember your name.

4: Tell them very briefly what you do!

(it’s an app, patented device, etc.)

5: Paint a word picture about how they or their organisation are BETTER

(e.g. reduced absenteeism, increased output, more environmentally friendly, win more proposals)

6: Agree next action

(date for next meeting, send a sample, demo product)

See one of my many Elevator Pitches here

Step 3:

I then worked with the team to create conversations that engage and excited them, a pre-requisite to doing the same for the prospects and customers.

Note:

These conversations should not turn into a script that has to be followed word for word, but rather a conversation outline that would keep the speaker on track.

Step 4:

I then provided some space and time for the speakers to get comfortable with the conversation he/she has created before we started filming.

Step 5:

The scary bit for the participant.

My input here was to help make a room full of bright lights & cameras as unintimidating as possible. I engaged with each speaker giving them an opportunity to rehearse their talk in this space and only then did we roll the camera and capture a talk that demonstrated the 3E’s: Excited, Eager, Earned the right.

I recently spoke on the same platform as senior people from LinkedIn and Facebook, and they say if you are not including video in your Social Media Marketing you are missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your business.

When marketers include a video in an email, the click-through rate increases by 200-300%

Do not keep putting off doing something about this, call today and let’s explore how I can help you and your team.

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