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Considering Presentations

Considering Presentations

Tomorrow, I will stand in a room of people at Bar Camp Boston and talk about content networks. The audience will be primarily really technical people, who know more about networking, hacking, developing, engineering, and everything than me. They will be looking at me with eyes that all engineering crowds give me at presentations: “Who are you? What do you know? How can this be useful to me?”

I owe them a good performance. This post is some of the mental workings that I think are important to consider before giving a presentation. My goal in presenting them to you is that you’ll think about these same points before making your next presentation.

Step One: Consider the Ending– When this presentation is over, I want the people in my audience to be energized, happy, engaged, and thinking about my material. I want them to be excited to think about building content networks themselves. I want them to seek my guidance and participation in helping them form content networks.

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With that in mind, I know this: I don’t have to SELL people anything. I don’t have to ask for money. I do have to talk in big vision terms. I do have to give them “call to action” points, such as asking them to visit a certain website, give me email addresses, site addresses, things like that. I have to convince them that I’m intelligent and useful to their plans. Thus, I’ll build my presentation with those themes in mind. I’ve started at the ending. (Hmm… “Habit 2: begin with the end in mind”).

Step Two: Consider the Venue– There are 150 total attendees. I don’t think they will all be at my presentation. I’m guessing 30 or 40. This means I’ll have a decent sized room, but not an auditorium. I can move among them. I won’t have to be stuck to a podium. Should I bother with PowerPoint? I might not.

The venue determines the toolkit. Think of it as a setting for a movie. If you’re watching Jaws, you don’t expect flying saucers. It also determines how I can lay out the presentation’s “feel,” the ambiance of engaging these people to tell them a story. If you think presentations shouldn’t fit the rooms where you give them, reconsider that thought.

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Step Three: Consider the Audience– Of course the audience is the most important part of the presentation. You didn’t know that? My audience will be smart. They’ll have their bull$&!t detectors on full blast. They won’t appreciate my natural “not so many diagrams” style of presenting. I’ll have to win them over with being funny. Luckily, when I’m nervous, I’m very funny. (You should see me at a hospital).

The presentation must fit the audience, and you have to really consider what their ears and eyes are trying to pluck from it. If they’re highly technical, tell them in three-letter acronyms how the thing will work, “We’ll use RSS over SOA to make the CMS really drive CPM.” If they’re marketers, tell them, “This content network idea will really add stickiness to sites, drive more interaction and click-through, and push brand value further into the customer base.” Big difference, wouldn’t you say?

Step Four: Build the Presentation– I’m going to be nervous. They’ve alloted me 30 minutes. I know the crowd will be skeptical of me because I’m not a name brand. They’ll wonder if I’m worth their time. I’ll worry that they are going to get up and leave.

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With this in mind, I won’t stick to a static PowerPoint presentation. I will use it for some fact-pointing, and I’ll use it for some really colorful backgrounds. I will use humor above all else to try and keep them engaged. But I’ve got a secret weapon. I’m going to hand out parts of my presentation to people in the room (as per a recent post I made here to that effect). I will get them to be part of my act. Build your presentation to take into account everything you’ve considered in the first three steps.

Step Five: Test it Out– I’m far better at improv than I am rehearsal, so I won’t lie to you about that. I like going up there cold turkey and just making the words happen. Sometimes it works really well, and other times, people just stare blankly at me, and I worry that I’ve slipped into another language.

Try at least running through your slides, your notes, whatever you’re going to use as “panic props” for the presentation at least once before you give the presentation. Oh, and if you’re doing something really interactive like a web-based demo, have a backup. Have slides with screenshots that you can use to walk people through. Have all kinds of backup plans in place.

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Step Six: Bring Down the House– People love to be reflected in a mirror. I’ve used this trick in nearly every presentation I’ve ever made, and it works every time without fail. Tell them about themselves, and praise them in the process, and you’ll have allies. For as many people that think they’re being played or had or whatever your term, plenty more will be saying, “Wow, Chris really understands me.” I’ll take it.

Be genuine about that. Don’t pretend to love these people. For the duration of the presentation and the follow-up, LOVE these people. Give them every bit of your fiber in this presentation.

Lastly: Q&A– The absolute worst parts of a presentation can be the presenter saying, “Any questions?” and then the wave of tumbleweeds blowing through. Make your way past this disaster-in-the-making by doing one of a few things. Try seeding your audience with a plant or two. “Chris, can you tell me how you fit into the content space?” (Thanks, Mom!) Or, have a few pre-set questions that you can say, “People who’ve heard this presentation before have asked me whether or not to keep their existing blogs. Here’s what I’ve told them.” This will grease the skids a bit, and help with the anxiety of the “spotlight” being suddenly turned on the audience.

And, if you use ANY of this, let me know how it turns out, okay?

–Chris Brogan has written about presentation tricks at Lifehack.org before. In fact, he writes lots about presentation for a guy who doesn’t do it for a living. Drop us a line at tips at lifehack dot org with your best presentation tricks, or visit our forums and chat it up a bit.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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