If you’re in the circle it’s language. One lawyer talks to another; one sales person to another; one ballroom dancer to another – they use words that they understand and feel comfortable with; enjoy using even.
If you’re outside the circle it’s jargon. Lawyer to non-lawyer, sales person to client etc. – use the same words as before but the layman doesn’t understand them. You’ve crossed the jargon line.
We all do it; nobody’s immune. We use our language, our words and our acronyms when talking to somebody who is out of our circle and we shouldn’t. Communication is being understood not just being heard – we’re not communicating when we use jargon.
Want to avoid alienating, frustrating and angering the people who count? Make sure you stay this side of the jargon line.
Ernest Hemingway was once bet he couldn’t write a story in 5 words. The title of this post proved he could. He won the bet.
When writing anything, less is more.
Even those people who hate PowerPoint (like me) love it really. I mean come on, it’s so darned easy to knock out a few screens, in fact these days PowerPoint has become synonymous with presentations “How’s your presentation coming along Alice? Oh, I should have the PowerPoint finished by the end of the day”.
But, I have to fess up I have a real problem with it, not as a tool because I think it’s actually an outstanding piece of software, but rather because of how it makes people behave. PowerPoint seems to drain people of their originality and suck the life out of their performance.
The big challenge we all face is that despite Keynote, which is the Apple equivalent, there’s no real alternative. Or is there?
Allow me to introduce you to Prezi – its a completely different presentation tool that looks different, can be used differently and will certainly make you stand out from the bullet-point-and-diagram crowd. Here’s a Prezi that examines the recent US Election results – despite the subject matter well worth a couple of minutes of your time – US Election Prezi.
For good measure here’s one I prepared earlier on Why Business Development is so Hard - different enough for you?
A good proportion of my job is helping people to stand out and be distinctive well if you’re prepared to invest a little time to become familiar with this alternative to PowerYawn you’ll be sending the needle into the red on your client’s not-the-same-as-all-the-rest-o-meter.
You owe it to yourself to be different.
Sometimes it’s Ok to run over when you’re presenting but most times it isn’t. I have spoken on countless panel events where I was one of 3 or 4 speakers and the cumulative effect of speaker-over run was a real headache for the organisers.
Finishing on time makes you look in control, like you’ve actually prepared for it and ultimately very professional. The alternative is over-run or racing through the last screens at breakneck speed to finish on time. Tres pathetique!
So is there a simple and easy to use technique to guarantee finishing your presentation on time every time? You bet your ass there is: Flex Screens.
What is a Flex screen?
It is a screen which can be covered in 5 seconds or 5 minutes and the audience will never know any different.
What would a Flex screen have on it?
Typically it would be a picture or a graph or some other visual device. It would NOT be lots of bullet points or any other sequenced list of information that you would need to work through.
Where would you place then in the pack?
Towards the end of the presentation. On an hours presentation I would have two: one about half way through so I could get back on track if I was already running long or short and then one about 10 or 15 minutes from the end.
How would you use it?
You must choose something that can be interpreted in two ways. Here’s an example. Imagine I am presenting about the future of business development in the law (which I do by the way) and I have reached the last 10 to 15 minutes of the presentation when up comes a screen with two pictures on: one is of a man fishing from a boat and the other is a huge automated trawler: -
- Short of time: “so before I move to the last part of my presentation let me just recap what I have been talking about for the last 50 minutes. On the left we have how law firms have traditionally tackled BD and on the right we see how the new law companies are dealing with the challenge. Is it time to send out for some new and used trawler catalogues I wonder? Well let’s move on and find out.”
- Long on time: “So let me recap [I then explain why the fisherman is like the traditional law firm and the trawler is like the new breed - I then ask for comments".
I can make the difference in these two about 10 minutes!
What other examples can you use?
For a start you can have some audience participation. If it's a small group go round the room and see what has resonated so far with each person. For larger groups you can pose a question and ask for an answer or invite somebody up to partake in a demonstration or Q&A session with you.
You can display a graph or chart and either summarise what it tells you or explain the detail behind it.
You can have a list which is slowly and automatically displayed behind you whilst you speak and then refer to the them as examples. "These are some of the ways we can engage new clients. My favourites are [and then discuss as many as you need to fill the time]“.
Have an anecdote or case study prepared and memorised and when you have presented a screen full of information say “Let me illustrate what I have just told you with a real-life story” if you need to fill time or leave it out if you don’t.
One last tip for the presenter eager to look more professional.
It’s better to prepare a 45 minute presentation to be delivered in an hour’s slot and fill the extra 15 minutes (which you will probably use up anyway) with some Flex screens than it is to time your presentation to fill an hour and then run over.
Crammed and rushed presentations NEVER make you look good and are rarely engaging for the audience.
Today’s post has been written by somebody who has helped me personally and for whom I have a great deal of respect. Priscilla Morris is one of the UK’s foremost voice coaches teaching people how to make the most of one of their most precious assets: their voice. Find out more about Priscilla here www.loudandclearuk.com
Did you realise that speaking in public is scientifically proven to be one of the scariest challenges we face. Many people avoid presenting because they fear the unknown: “I’ll forget my words”, they say or, more tellingly, “they might not like me”.
In this post I want to take away some of the mystique associated with public speaking and instead approach it as a skill that can be learnt. Of course, extroverts will always find it easier than introverts, but anyone can be successful if they understand that delivery is all-important.
So how can you achieve the right balance?
Your message needs to be clear, i.e. plan the structure with care and use the right words for each individual audience.
Your delivery needs to be precise, i.e. speech should be articulated firmly, and you should have an awareness of accent, which might form a barrier to understanding.
We process information at different rates according to size of audience and acoustics of venue, but generally, it will be much slower than you think. Against that we all have internal timing which determines the speed we speak and to be honest most people speak too quickly especially when they are nervous. If people say you are too fast, they are really saying they cannot process the information you are giving them.
Learn to use pauses to give yourself time for thought and to stop you gathering speed.
Your audience will opt out if you don’t keep their interest, and to do that you have to introduce lots of variation.
We call this Vocal Modulation and it includes the use of pitch, pace, pause, power, tone and inflection.
We have a habitual way of using these but can also learn to take control and use them as markers and highlighters within a speech. Listen to some of the great speakers and you will see that they vary the way they speak and avoid monotonous delivery thus keeping their audience interested.
If you have ever heard someone reading a speech aloud, you will probably have experienced a lack of this essential element. Sincerity comes from emotion and we can only put this across by making a clear personal connection with the words.
All speakers should aim for spontaneity and this manifests itself in the ability of the speaker to convince us that they mean every word. You should allow your personality to come through and if this is not a naturally comfortable environment for you, create a persona that takes over when you present. None of this is easy, but it all comes from the last of my tips……
In 40 years of experience I have learned that you should do 1 hour’s practice for every 1 minute of speaking. This may fill you with horror but remember we are talking about realisation from start to finish, so it includes research and planning.
However, speaking your words aloud is also vital. If you cannot stand before your audience with total belief in your ability to succeed, nerves are likely to affect your performance. Try to work from cue cards, because a speech written out in full often sounds more like an essay.
If you take some of these ideas on-board you will give yourself CONFIDENCE – and so, we return neatly to the beginning.
Obviously, these tips are not exhaustive and space has determined that they are rather simplistic but just remember to be:
C.R.I.S.P. when speaking in public and then you will
SPEAK YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS!
I’ve seen it a thousand times; done it myself even. A person tries to influence a second, and more reluctant, person to do something and their approach of choice is to bombard the aforementioned subject with messages, pleas (very ugly), advice and suggestions followed swiftly by the million dollar question: “so can we move forward then?”
All of us go through a maximum of four stages of emotional response when we are faced with somebody trying to persuade us to do something whether it’s a sales person selling us double-glazing or an employee asking us for a promotion. The following states are the ones that any subject will experience; 3 of which you have some influence over.
- Resistance: just how open to your proposal is the subject. Picture this as a scale from 0 (there is no resistance at all so stop persuading and close the deal) to 100 (really not convinced at all). You can easily work this out by looking at body language, listening to how they say things not just what they say and by their initial response to your suggestion.
- Suspicion: you must create the merest suspicion in the mind of the subject that there might be something in this for her. If she can imagine that whatever you are proposing might, just might, be of advantage to her you have achieved stage 2. Try to illustrate financial gain; an easier life; more for less; reduction in risk or making them look good – there are others but these are the major persuasion benefits to aim for.
- Belief: reaching Suspicion will effectively give you a stage on which to perform and a limited time in which to deliver your message; a bit like one of those comedy theatre auditions you see on TV. “Next!” Make an impression here with your proposal showing the benefits to them whilst mitigating the downside. By creating belief in your subject you enter the home stretch – might even get called back for a second audition.
- Conviction: you can reach this stage from Resistance, Suspicion or Belief but if not you must create it yourself. Find out what the obstacles are that prevent a successful conclusion and overcome them. This is a crucial stage. By now you should be talking to somebody who wants to be convinced but keep a sharp eye out: as soon as they are convinced stop persuading and close the deal. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is a very real threat here.
So the 3 key messages for successful persuasion are: -
- Don’t rush the process; assess your subjects initial resistance levels and then proceed accordingly
- Concentrate on achieving the next level of persuasion but don’t lose site of the end-goal
- As soon as you reach “Conviction” STOP PERSUADING and close the deal. You could talk yourself out of a sale!
Why not try it out today and let me know how you get on.
Presentations are great things. You can inform, motivate, inspire and educate your audience not to mention strengthen your own personal brand.
You know the difference between a great presenter and an average one and you want to be great but what can you do to lift your performance? Well as a start I have included 3 easy to master tips that really will make you stand out.
Begin your presentation with a story
So there you are waiting for the presentation to start. The presenter emerges, looks at his PowerPoint screen and says “Good morning ladies and gentlemen. My name is Fred Bloggs and today I am going to talk to you about property leases but first let me tell you a little about me”. Your heart sinks, you stifle a yawn and you begin to wonder if anyone has validated your existence by sending you an email so you reach for your Crackberry……
How about this as an alternative. A PowerPoint screen with your name and the title of the presentation on it. The audience can read so you don’t need to repeat what’s written. You enter and without looking at the screen you begin.
“Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Let me share a true story with you….. and that’s why preparation is so important and never more so than when negotiating property leases. Today I am going to explore 5 crucial ways you can reduce costs, lower your exposure to risk whilst at the same time increasing your options for the future.”
I am biased but I happen to prefer the latter and, as it turns out, so do many of the really great presenters. You see everybody loves a story whether you are a member of an isolated jungle tribe, a 6-year-old child tucked up into bed or an attendee of a potentially dry presentation on property leases.
Stories engage audiences and an engaged audiences is a responsive audience.
So when starting a presentation create a story that leads you into your material. No more than 2 minutes long, delivered without indulgence (saying things that the audience needs to hear rather than because you want to say them) and preferably based upon a real-life event.
Memorise your summary
I really hate it when people read bullet points displayed on a screen. What? Like the audience can’t read or something? Worse still is when the presenter tries to leave the audience with too many things to think about. Don’t kid yourself; the average person will recall about three key things from your presentation no matter how much you stuff into it.
So here’s the second point: think of the three really key points you want your audience to remember and finish on them. Put them onto a slide if you must but DO NOT look at them whilst you are speaking.
” Now to summarise we have covered quite a lot of ground this morning but the three key points I’d like to leave you with are: 1…. 2…. 3….Thank you for your time, I hope you have found this presentation useful and I’ll now take questions”. Done!
Engage your audience very 7 to 10 minutes
Nobody really likes to be lectured to not even people attending a lecture. Much better to feel part of the presentation rather than just watching it like a documentary on TV.
So my third simple tip is to engage your audience every 7 to 10 minutes and these are my four favourite ways to do this although there are undoubtedly others.
- Ask for a show of hands: if you are about to discuss a subject get a feel from the audience as to what they think. A variation on this is to get everybody to stand up, ask a series of questions and get people to sit down after they answer “yes” to a question. At the end of the run of questions you can show how few people fit into the group your questions have identified.
- Ask a question and engage a member of the audience: as before ask a question that demands a show of hands then engage one or two of the people who put their hands up to explore their situation a little deeper. Avoid embarrassing or victimising your chosen “volunteers” but when done properly its a great way of exploring a subject before you leap into it.
- Pro-actively produce an agenda: at the outset of the talk ask the audience for some key problems, challenges or subjects that relate to your subject. Write them on a flip chart and every time you cover one refer back to it. This is very effective engagement tool because you are letting the audience define the agenda. Bo-wah!
- Ask for volunteers: and when you get some get them to help you to illustrate a point or set a position. One of my favourites is to get three people to attempt to juggle on stage. I then give them a couple of simple tips and usually one of them will make an obvious improvement in their juggling efforts. I use it to show the importance of techniques and practice in personal development.
So there you have it. Three really easy ways to make your presentation engaging, different and truly 3-dimensional. All you need now is the opportunity to present and a little chutzpah to give them a go. You’ll be glad you did.
I have this habit. When I’m presenting I almost always make use of a flip-chart but from experience I always remember to check the pens before the start of play (draw a line across the top of the paper; firm line – good pen). Any that are no good I throw away; a great habit to have, I feel.
You would be amazed at how many people don’t do this, they just put it down and leave it for the next person to pick up. Is it suddenly going to regenerate like a pen version of Dr Who? I think not.
Some problems we encounter take time and trouble to put right but many do not. Throwing out useless pens, picking up litter, putting a cup into the dishwasher or reporting a broken lightbulb takes no time at all but if enough people make the effort the effect is noticeable.
I believe that if you see something that isn’t right either fix it yourself or tell somebody and get them to fix it. If it’s my job or it’s easy (think pens) it’s the former otherwise it’s the latter.
On a different tack my favourite Dr Who is still Tom Baker – who’s yours?
I enjoy speaking and writing. I know I’m not brilliant at either but it doesn’t make any difference to me: I am good enough to get by and I enjoy it. Moreover this kind of Showcasing is a vital part of my new business acquisition strategy.
I learned a long time ago that if you want to make a big impression, get your message across and stand half a chance of engaging your audience you should learn how to use rhetoric, so imagine my surprise when I read the best ever summary of the ancient skill in the Mail on Sunday magazine the other weekend. I have placed a scanned copy of the article on my LinkedIn profile so if you missed it (or can’t bear to read the MoS) feel free to swing by and download it.
This blog is way too small to even contemplate explaining the power and deployment of rhetorical devices so instead I thought I’d list out my “Top 10 things you need to know about Rhetoric” to whet your appetite enough to investigate further. Here we go then: -
- Rhetoric was invented by the ancient Greeks 2500 years ago and has been used extensively by pretty much every politician since. The Romans loved it.
- Western politicians have been trainined in it for years – think JFK, Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair (less so Gordon Brown).
- It is made up of a collection of devices designed to connect with the audience or readership.
- Rhetoric is divided up into three parts: Ethos (the credibility of the speaker); Pathos (how the audience feels) and Logos (the logic of the piece)
- Ethos and pathos are what wins hearts and minds not Logos. Strange but true – feelings rule OK!
- Rule of three: “Education, Education, Education”, “the Son the Father and the Holy Ghost”, “Location, location and location”. “Yes we can”. Also this blog entry is packed with examples.
- Alliteration: “the People’s Princess”
- Metaphors: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get”
- Reversal: “Ask not what your country can do for you but instead ask what you can do for your country”
- Rhetoric is like salt: a little will greatly enhance the flavour but too much will spoil the dish. (This is a metaphor by the way)
The objective of this blog was to make you inquisitive about rhetoric, make you suspect that it could strengthen your communication skills and perhaps want to find out more. If you do get the scanned version of the article and if this turns you on try buying “Lend Me Your Ears” by Max Atkinson which explores it in much more depth.