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Six Ways to Transform your Presentation

Six Ways to Transform your Presentation

Transform Your Presentations

    How many times have you been bored rigid by conference speakers?How can you make sure that your presentations engage and interest your audience? How can you really get your message across?Here are some great ways to liven up your pitch and avoid boring your audience to tears:

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    1. Throw away PowerPoint.

    PowerPoint presentations are the norm but are they the best way to communicate your message?The trouble with them is that they lock you into a straitjacket – you have to follow what is written on the screen.The audience reads the slides and it does not listen to you. Most PowerPoint presentations have too many slides with too much information on each.It becomes a dreary list. Try to condense your message into a small number of key points and then deliver them directly. Look at and speak to your audience and use very few or no slides at all.Replace Powerpoint with directness and enthusiasm.

    2. Speak from the Heart.

    Nothing persuades like passion – so be passionate about your message.Personal stories and strong feelings can sway audiences much more than dry facts and statistics.Of course if you can back up your personal feelings with supporting data then so much the better.But start from the personal – how it relates to you and how it relates to them – the audience.Lessons from personal experience that are relevant to their lives and careers are interesting and powerful ways of holding their attention.

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    3. Use Humor.

    Many speakers shy away from humor because they worry the jokes may fall flat.But it is generally a risk worth taking.Audiences appreciate a speaker who tries to entertain rather than just inform.Choose your humorous lines carefully and then rehearse the words and timing so that you can deliver them with confidence.Self–deprecating jokes are safe bets.Making a joke about some well-known figure at the conference can work well too but it is wise to check with them first.Of course racist, sexist or offensive material should always be avoided.

    4. Walk the Talk.

    One of the great things about not using a slide presentation is that you do not have to hide behind a lectern pressing the mouse.You can roam the stage.As you walk you should look straight at the audience and ensure eye contact with people. This delivers energy and conviction that can never be achieved from behind a lectern.

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    5. Vary your Pitch.

    Many speakers deliver their talks in a monotone – same pace, same volume, same tone throughout.The audience will find it much more interesting if you deploy variety in your style of speech.Your tone should be rich and clear – louder and softer as needed.Sometimes the most powerful points can be delivered in a very quiet voice- with the audience breathless to hear.One of the most potent and underused weapons in the speaker’s armoury is the pause.Used with effect it can build the anticipation, impact and retention of a key message.

    6. Keep it Simple.

    Tell them what they are going to hear and why it is important. E.g. ‘I am going to give you four key messages that will enable you to double your market share this year.’Then tell them.Finally summarise and reprise the main points.Finish with a strong and motivational summary.Long, complex presentations may appear sophisticated but often they will lose the audience and little is retained.The best presentations engage the audience with clear messages that are inspirational, powerful and easily remembered.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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