Podium Coaching Blog
Kill your objectives, save your audience
Of course I don’t mean kill your objectives for your presentation. I mean kill the objectives slide in your PowerPoint or Keynote file. You know, the one that lists everything you’re going to do or say. Some people call it the agenda slide. Most people begin with it right after the title slide.
If you want to differentiate yourself from all those other boring slide-show presenters you’ve had to endure, this is a great place to start.
Starting with the objective slide as your first slide is as boring as beginning a speech with ‘Thank you for having me. I’m so happy to be here today. I would like to talk about blah, blah, blah…’
When you are thinking about how to build a PowerPoint presentation, change it up a little. Just like a speech, you should begin your slide presentation with a great hook. Grab the audience’s attention. Excite them. Make them learn forward and engage with you. Show them they’re in for an interesting session.
Instead of wasting the audience’s time telling them what you’re going to do, set the tone and pace of your presentation in the cleverest, most creative, way you can. The audience will figure out the objectives pretty quickly.
Tips to help you build better team presentations
‘Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.’
Ryunosuke Satoro, Japanese Poet
A topic a lot of people ask about at our presentation skills training sessions is how to make team presentations.
Many companies require employees to make group or team presentations. The topic may be complicated, requiring expertise from many different departments. Or you may just think a group presentation will have more impact.
When a group presentation works well, the members of the team support each other. So the fear of speaking public is decreased. Individuals can relax, knowing the success or failure of the presentation doesn’t rest wholly on their shoulders.
However, if a group presentation is not planned and rehearsed well, you run the risk of failure.
Here are some tips to help you deliver a great team presentation:
Step 1 – Audience
Get all the presenters in the team together for an initial planning session. Begin by discussing the audience: who they are… what do they need to know… how are they likely to react to the presentation as a whole.
Step 2 – Strategy
Discuss the strategy the team will use to convince the audience of the merits of your case. Work out the initial ‘Hook’ or opening – to ensure you really grab the audience’s attention. Get points down for each team member to cover. Each member will have his or her own hook or opening, in addition to the main opening.
Step 3 – Format
Once you know your audience, and you’ve established your strategic goals, figure out the format of your presentation. Pick a team leader. Decide who is going to start the presentation. Will the leader introduce the whole team at the beginning? Or will the leader begin with the hook, and let the introductions evolve organically?
Step 4 – Body language
When one person is speaking, the rest of the group should look at the speaker – not be checking their notes. It’s too late for that anyway. Figure out what the rest of the team is doing when not presenting. Sitting? Standing? Where? No hard and fast rules, except doing what’s best for the audience and the presentation.
Step 5 – Creativity
Don’t confine yourself to a predictable format of one person introducing then speaking. Be creative. Use a talk show format. Have the leader interview each team member in a television talk show setting. Do skits. Use videos and props. Do whatever it takes to make your message memorable – without distractions. Everything has to be motivated by the need to communicate your message.
Step 6 – Promote
When it’s time to make transitions from one speaker to another, make sure each person promotes the next speaker in a value-added way.
“Now here’s Anna Jones, our Director of Communication.”
Rather promote her benefit for the client:
“Telling the media about your product is very important. Our Director of Communication knows exactly how to do it. Here’s Anna Jones.”
Step 8 – Rehearse
So often this very important step is neglected. The more you rehearse, the more successful the presentation will be. It’s true for solo performances, and even more so for group presentations.
Passion is key to connecting with an audience
“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”
John Maxwell, Author
“Stick to topics you care deeply about and do not keep your passion buttoned inside your vest. An audience’s biggest turn on is the speaker’s obvious enthusiasm.”
Tom Peters, Author
“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.”
Donald Trump, Entrepreneur
Passion is the single most important ingredient of any speech or presentation. That’s why we’re speaking about it again. You must be passionate when you speak. You must believe in what you say – or the audience won’t believe it.
Really, all speaking is acting. It’s bringing your message to life with your words, body and feelings. To do that successfully you need to act out your speech to a certain extent, or it’s boring for the audience.
One professional speaker from South Africa talked about the team building lessons he’d learned by observing a pride of lions. To drive his points home, he stalked, crawled and leaped around the stage. His passion for his subject matter was evident in every movement and word.
Leaping about a boardroom might seem a bit over the top. And for most of us it is – unless we’re equating team building and a pride of lions. What we need to do is show our passion in a way that’s comfortable for us.
You need to be authentic. If you go over the top by overacting, the audience will know. You wind up losing credibility. But if there is no juice in your words, the audience will also know – and you will also lose credibility. So find your groove, find your passion and show it fearlessly.
Not everyone will share your passion. But if you believe in what you’re saying, the audience will respect your for it.
Tips for speakers – from a Mexican bus
Mexico gets a bad rap in the media because of drug wars. But feuding ‘narcos’ are not representative of the people.
For ten years now we’ve been vacationing in Zihuatanejo, a fishing village on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Each year, I’m struck by how people here communicate and behave in public.
I’ve seen tattooed teens with spiky hair snap out of their bus seats to let an elderly traveller or pregnant woman sit down. One young man got off the bus way before his stop – to help a confused older man find his way home.
When we lined up at a bank machine behind a Mexican man, he asked us to go first, because we were guests.
When people squeeze by each other in public places, Mexicans say ‘con permiso’, which means ‘with permission’. The implication is with ‘your’ permission. So the focus is on the other person.
In English, we say ‘excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’. The focus is on ‘me’.
A big part of communication here is embedded in respect for the other person. It’s refreshing to see, because being polite in our fast-paced, me-first society is not always a priority.
Being respectful brings out the best in another person.
Too often, as speakers, we don’t respect our audiences enough. We place the focus on ourselves. We become the ‘sage on stage’. We forget the Golden Rule – treat others as you would wish others to treat you.
It’s all about the audience.
The golden rule is alive and well in Mexico.
Media rule that shouldn’t need stating: don’t fake it
It should go without saying… but apparently we should restate the number one rule of media messaging: do not fake it, make it up or lie about it.
Case in point: the cosy arrangements between Quebecor’s Sun TV and its friends in the Canadian government (Conservative, for the benefit of non-Canadian readers).
Sun TV broadcast a reaffirmation ceremony for ‘new Canadians’ to celebrate Citizenship Week. (Since half the Podium team has gone through a citizenship ceremony, we can tell you what a significant and moving occasion it is).
Back to Sun TV. As the cameras relayed the occasion, six ‘new Canadians’ selected by the government’s immigration department looked suitably honoured, waving Maple Leaf flags.
Trouble is – the event was a phoney. And the six ‘new Canadians’ were actually civil servants sent over to fill the seats because no real candidates were available.
The story was broken by a smart and honest broadcaster, Jennifer Ditchburn of Canadian Press. She even managed to acquire a Sun TV memo that said ‘we can fake the Oath’.
So there: the only thing worse than a badly-handled media event… is a phoney badly-handled media event.
What’s your Plan B?
It’s nice when things go according to plan. Here’s hoping all your speeches and presentations are delivered without a hitch, to tumultuous applause.
But it’s when things go wrong that you really show your mettle. That’s when you give the audience an insight into who you really are.
These musings are prompted by a fund-raiser we were at last night. The event was to raise money for schools in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. The big draw was the M-dock Band, a group of part-time musicians who regularly devote their time and talents to supporting the school project.
M-dock Band is based in Springfield, MO. Three of the founder members were in Zihuatanejo, with other international players sitting in with them.
The band rocked it’s way through five or six old favourites from the 60s – 90s… and then the sound system overloaded.
The room is packed, it’s hot, people have donated a lot of money… and there’s no music. What do you do? A hurried consultation. Someone is despatched to find another soundboard and amplifiers. But how to fill the time until the sound system is repaired?
That’s where the M-dock musicians showed their mettle. They unplugged and, like mariachi minstrels, wandered from table to table doing an acoustic set. The audience loved it – for the music, but perhaps more for the determination of the players to provide the entertainment they’d promised.
Eventually the replacement gear arrived, and the show was able to resume.
How would you handle a crisis? What happens when your microphone doesn’t work? Or your slide show freezes?
Do you have a Plan B?
Romney ‘don’t care about poor’ gaffe may haunt him
Fresh from trouncing Republican presidential rival Newt Gingrich in Florida, front-runner Mitt Romney took to the airwaves – and promptly stuck both feet in his mouth.
CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked about him focusing on the economic frustrations of Americans. Part of his answer included the phrase “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”
O’Brien asked him to explain a phrase that has ‘soundbite’ and ‘headline’ written all over it. His reply:
“I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”
Repeating the phrase was not smart. And Romney kept digging that hole: “We will hear from the Democrat party [about] the plight of the poor … And there’s no question it’s not good being poor, and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor … My focus is on middle-income Americans.”
Romney blew it, for two particular reasons:
1 – he reinforces a perception that, as a man who earns around $22 million and pays around 14% tax, he’s an out-of-touch elitist;
2 – he creates a soundbite that will come back to haunt him, if – as looks likely – he goes head-to-head with Obama over protecting middle class Americans (a group that already views Obama as more sympathetic).
This one will run and run.