Public Speaking Skills

Discussions on the art and science of public speaking.

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Why Less Is More

A full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal sells for well over $100,000.  If you were spending that kind of money, would you devote the vast majority of that real estate to empty space?

Eliminating Question Marks

Your job as presentation designer is to create an interactive document that 1) supports the ideas, concepts, or arguments you need to put forth, and 2) keys the audience to what you’re going to talk about just before you fulfill your role in the process, which is to deliver the presentation.  And that’s the rub: the presentation is not what’s on the screen.  And neither is the presentation what comes out of the presenter’s mouth. The presentation is actually only what takes place in the mind of the listener.

Animation — Designing on the Fly

Why Animate?

To begin, by animation we simply mean to control the way and order in which an object appears on the screen. PowerPoint blesses us with 144 different ways to “introduce” text or graphics, almost all of which are major detractors from the presentation itself. A few of these “special effects” work to enhance the presentation process; most, like the default effect FLY, have helped to create the disastrous level of presentation quality that we take for granted in business today.

Words vs. Graphics

The Eulogy or the Box

“If I ever stop getting nervous before a performance, it’s time for me to quit.”— Garth Brooks

Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” But, why do people become afraid when speaking in public?

Signal Your Passion

Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for President Reagan and current columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has a favorite saying about presentation audiences: “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”

Defending Your Slides

How many times have you found yourself the victim of a sales call?

If 'victim' is too strong a word, then how about 'hostage'? Or maybe merely 'prisoner'?  If you've ever been forced to sit through a sales presentation that has you asking yourself, above all, "when will this end?" — then you know what I'm talking about.  And one sure way you know you're likely going to be in trouble is when the salesperson walks into your office carrying a laptop. You see the computer bag, and your first thought is of your brother-in-law walking up your drive with suitcase in hand.

The Death of Bullet Points

When was the last time you went to a presentation and came away impressed by the slides?

It is, of course, fashionable these days to speak negatively about PowerPoint, and how most on-screen presentations put audiences to “death” with an onslaught of one bullet-pointed paragraph of words after another. It is also true that the same people who like to trash PowerPoint often create mind-numbing program themselves, and then claim that it’s not their fault — their bosses make them beget slides that turn brains to butter.

Passion and the Pause

Recently I was invited to San Jose for two days to train and assess over 30 speakers at a conference of high-tech companies eager to hear what predictions these presenters had about the future of the industry. 

Energizing Your Presentation

Have you ever been to a boring presentation? Most of us have, and most of them are boring because there is no life or passion in what the speaker is saying. People remember more of what they see and hear as opposed to what they read. But to be really memorable, we need to add some life to what we present.  

So how can we add life to our presentations and wake up the audience?

Ever nervous?

NLP: Voodoo Performance Improvement

Ever been nervous, anxious, or downright fearful when having to speak to a group?

Try this: Imagine everyone in the group is looking at you with smiling adoration. Feel that they can't wait to hear the next thing you're going to say. See them nodding approvingly and occasionally glancing at each other, astonished at the depth and breadth of your wisdom.  If you do, if you tell yourself you are the best speaker this audience has ever had the good fortune to hear, you will be.  And when you realize that, your fear and anxiety will – poof!– disappear.

Why Less Is More

A full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal sells for well over $100,000.  If you were spending that kind of money, would you devote the vast majority of that real estate to empty space?

Eliminating Question Marks

Your job as presentation designer is to create an interactive document that 1) supports the ideas, concepts, or arguments you need to put forth, and 2) keys the audience to what you’re going to talk about just before you fulfill your role in the process, which is to deliver the presentation.  And that’s the rub: the presentation is not what’s on the screen.  And neither is the presentation what comes out of the presenter’s mouth. The presentation is actually only what takes place in the mind of the listener.

Animation — Designing on the Fly

Why Animate?

To begin, by animation we simply mean to control the way and order in which an object appears on the screen. PowerPoint blesses us with 144 different ways to “introduce” text or graphics, almost all of which are major detractors from the presentation itself. A few of these “special effects” work to enhance the presentation process; most, like the default effect FLY, have helped to create the disastrous level of presentation quality that we take for granted in business today.

Words vs. Graphics

The Eulogy or the Box

“If I ever stop getting nervous before a performance, it’s time for me to quit.”— Garth Brooks

Mark Twain is often quoted as saying, “There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.” But, why do people become afraid when speaking in public?

Signal Your Passion

Peggy Noonan, former speechwriter for President Reagan and current columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has a favorite saying about presentation audiences: “They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”

Defending Your Slides

How many times have you found yourself the victim of a sales call?

If 'victim' is too strong a word, then how about 'hostage'? Or maybe merely 'prisoner'?  If you've ever been forced to sit through a sales presentation that has you asking yourself, above all, "when will this end?" — then you know what I'm talking about.  And one sure way you know you're likely going to be in trouble is when the salesperson walks into your office carrying a laptop. You see the computer bag, and your first thought is of your brother-in-law walking up your drive with suitcase in hand.

The Death of Bullet Points

When was the last time you went to a presentation and came away impressed by the slides?

It is, of course, fashionable these days to speak negatively about PowerPoint, and how most on-screen presentations put audiences to “death” with an onslaught of one bullet-pointed paragraph of words after another. It is also true that the same people who like to trash PowerPoint often create mind-numbing program themselves, and then claim that it’s not their fault — their bosses make them beget slides that turn brains to butter.

Passion and the Pause

Recently I was invited to San Jose for two days to train and assess over 30 speakers at a conference of high-tech companies eager to hear what predictions these presenters had about the future of the industry. 

Energizing Your Presentation

Have you ever been to a boring presentation? Most of us have, and most of them are boring because there is no life or passion in what the speaker is saying. People remember more of what they see and hear as opposed to what they read. But to be really memorable, we need to add some life to what we present.  

So how can we add life to our presentations and wake up the audience?

Ever nervous?

NLP: Voodoo Performance Improvement

Ever been nervous, anxious, or downright fearful when having to speak to a group?

Try this: Imagine everyone in the group is looking at you with smiling adoration. Feel that they can't wait to hear the next thing you're going to say. See them nodding approvingly and occasionally glancing at each other, astonished at the depth and breadth of your wisdom.  If you do, if you tell yourself you are the best speaker this audience has ever had the good fortune to hear, you will be.  And when you realize that, your fear and anxiety will – poof!– disappear.

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