Presentation skills Archive

5 of my favourite TED talks

The Power of TED Talks are that they are engaging, have a clear message we can relate to and hardly ever have any "Death by PowerPoint" to put us to sleep. TED Talks make learning fun and entertaining.

Top 10 business storytelling tips

Business storytelling helps our audience recall more than a list of statistics or facts, but we still need to be sure our audience leaves with our key points. A simple story that is relatable and memorable is far more powerful than something foreign to your audience.

Top 10 reasons people tune you out at work

Do you feel like people sometimes don’t listen to you at work? We’re all guilty of not listening at one point or another in our lives. We tune others out while we’re busy, concentrating on a task or when we are reading. Though we try hard to multi-task between tasks we are not always able to listen to someone who’s trying to talk to …

Image selection in slide design

Image selection in slide design is about more than just typing the word or concept into Google, it is about clarifying your message and making each slide count. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but using the wrong picture can be distracting and create confusion.

Think billboard in slide design

Effective slides are designed to augment your message - not be your message (notes) or a distraction (clutter). When designing slides avoid to "death by Powerpoint" think billboard (a simple focus slide which augments your message and can be understood in 3 seconds).

Tips on research for presentations

Avoid “consultantese” - the temptation to shovel a truckload of statistics and facts at your audience. Your speech should be supported by the facts and research; it should not be just the facts and research. What does the audience actually need to know?

Tips for handling Group Presentations

Group presentations are often done poorly. The problem is often a combination of poor planning and coordination between group members and a fear of public speaking. Have each speaker plan their speech before you build the first slide; your slides should augment the presentation not be the presentation.

Using humour in your presentations

Humour can be a powerful tool if it is used to make a point Jokes without a point, in a presentation, can be distracting. Humour helps us capture attention, builds rapport, and makes our message more memorable if used effectively. Laughter also helps break tension, too much drama or tension is exhausting (Think Shakespeare’s use of line to break tension “Alas poor Yorick I knew him well”). Tips …

Presentation skills: Bullet points limit the presenter

Use the Picture Superiority effect (PSE) to increase engagement and reduce boring presentations. Bullet points lead to presenters reading instead of speaking. It is easy to begin reading what is on the screen when the screen is filled with text bullets, this is really boring to the audience.

Body language tips for speakers

Body language tips to improve your speaking Improving your understanding and delivery of nonverbal communication takes time and practice to improve. First we need to recognise the power of nonverbal communication. Facial expressions Our faces show how we feel, even when we try and hide it. Learning how to read facial and body expression gives us insight into the accuracy and honesty of communication. We …

A compelling call-to-action

Before developing your call-to-action, be clear on what action you’d like your audience to take. Build the interaction around that call-to-action and point people to the next step.

Tips on writing a Wedding Speech

Start by making some notes of stories and experiences that you’ve enjoyed with the bride, groom or couple. Take into account the audience’s cultural background, age, familiarity with the happy couple, etc. By sharing a few stories that show who they are to you, the audience gains insight into your relationship. e.g. “I’ll never forget ...”

Tips on doing the wedding toast

Use stories and anecdotes to create an engaging wedding toast Long drawn out wedding toasts can put your guests to sleep. If you’re not used to public speaking don’t wing it, practice your speech (or get coaching). The speeches offer an opportunity for family and friends to gain insight into the parties involved and have some light fun. Notes on index cards (not word-for-word, but …

Slide design tips: Create a clear audience takeaway

Always start writing your speech, or presentation, with a clear message you want the audience to remember in mind. If 5 people spoke they should remember you spoke about ... what? Your message should relate to why the audience should care, and what they should do with the information.

Presenting percentages and statistics

When presenting percentages or statistics keep it simple and relate it to the audience. For many people percentages are complicated and cause the MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) state. 1 in 5 people is easier to grasp than 20% of the population.

Slide design tips: The bullet points conundrum

Learn how to use bullets effectively. At the very least, bullets points bore your audience when used ineffectively. Most "Death by PowerPoint" occurs as people put too much text on the slide .. then read it! Audiences love bullets - when they have created the content.

Leadership, you are always on stage

Leadership means we are always on stage “What you do teaches faster, and has a lasting impression, far beyond what you say.” T.F. Hodge Part of our job, as leaders, is to inspire the people around us to step up, and go the extra mile. To accomplish this we must demonstrate best practice, by doing what we tell others to do. It doesn’t matter whether we are …

Slide design tips: Logo placement

One of the leading contributors to “Death by PowerPoint” is putting too much information into each slide. No matter how cool your logo is, putting it on every slide can minimise the impact of your message, and your logo.

Speech design: Have One Clear Message when you speak

Don’t let your message get lost in too much data. Create a clear take-away you want your audience to remember. We may feel the message should be obvious, but unless you have your message clearly in your mind, it isn’t. Ensure you can write your message clearly in one or two sentences.

Why neuroscience matters in business

Too much focus on the bottom line can lead to disengaged employees as they feel they do not matter. Managers now have the hard science to support development of our most important asset, our people while developing engagement. Passionate engaged workers translate in to a healthy triple bottom line (people, profits, planet).

Slide design tips: Start with the Pain

Demonstrating your knowledge of your audience’s real world business challenges sets the expectation that your talk is relevant to them. As speakers we have an opportunity to entertain as well as inform. Often our audience could have picked up a book and discovered the solutions for themselves.

Microphone Tips for Speakers

Tips on using a microphone. Using a microphone is about the audience. Can you be heard, and understood, from the back of the room? Don’t be “that speaker” who says they don't need a microphone and then proceeds to shout, making it hard to hear. Learn where and how to hold it to engage your audience.

Fairness at work

It turns out we are far more stimulated by the idea of fairness than by free money. Our pleasure/reward circuitry is activated more when the offer is perceived as fair. An unfair offer produces resentment,and may lead to the desire to punish.

The power of price framing

We often use comparisons to assess value. Learn the skills Williams-Sonoma, The Economist and great sales organisations know to ensure your ideas and product have perceived value.

Presentations in the Social Media Age

The world of speaking is changing. The Instant nature of social media can tell you how you are doing as a presenter, and if your message is clear. Social media allows for real time feedback. Social media can allow audience members to ask questions in real time.

Become a buying preference

Think about what you have recently bought that you didn’t really need, but wanted. We buy mostly based on our emotional preferences (wants), not always on what we need. As we become aware of this emotional drive we can learn change the way we sell to, or influence, our customers.

Sell emotional experiences to engage

We are emotional beings first, we use reason and reason to make sense of our emotions. Studies have shown repeatedly that we value experiences far more than things. People will pay more for an enjoyable experience than a thing.

Slide design tips: Avoid Data overload in presentations

Avoid dumping data and confusing your audience in your presentations. “Consultant’s disease” is giving too much information, without discovering what the listener’s actual needs are. A simple example is when asked how to write a letter on the computer the “consultant” explains about the processor speed, the operating system, and the stability of the software. 90% of the information given, in this case, is …

Slide design: Using Presenters view (PP and Mac)

Learn how to use Presenter's View. Stop boring power point where the presenter reads what the audience reads and everyone falls asleep. Presenter's View, on Power Point (2007+) or Keynote (2004+), allows you to see your notes on your laptop, while the audience sees just the current slide.

Slide design: Lessons from TED

TED talks aim to persuade, influence and change the way we Think and Act. We should be aiming to do the same thing in our business presentations. No more “Death by Power Point”, ever. Microsoft comes with Power Point, Excel and Word - they are meant to do different things. Word is for documents to read, PPT is to visually augment what you are …

Speech design tips: Speaking lessons from snakes

As speakers we can learn to overcome our fears through the vicarious experience of watching others grow personally and professionally. Then, when we are ready, we try it for ourselves. Over time we learn we don’t die when we get up and speak. Initially we protect ourselves with lecterns and notes, then eventually we are able to stand up and shine.

Speech design: Question and Answer tips for speakers

Q & A tips. Your audience expects you to be confident and to maintain control of the session. Often when the Q&A session goes “pear shaped” it’s because the speaker has lost control and gone off point (the point of the talk). Audiences may form a negative impression when the speaker reacts emotionally, but leave with a positive impression when you remain calm, confident, and …

Speaker mistakes to avoid

Successful speakers pay attention to the details. By anticipating some of the most common mistakes we can prevent them. Remember to keep it simple and relative to the main theme of the presentation. If it does not clearly make your point, for your audience, cut it.

Demonstrate Leadership in business

Walk the talk. As a leader what you do gets noticed, even when you are not in the front of the room. Whether as a leader in your work, or in your family life, demonstrate the behaviour you want to see from others. Nothing makes your point more powerfully than demonstrating a desired action or behaviour. We are more likely to follow a leaders example, …

Speech design: Tips on doing a toast

A toast is a short speech. The toast of the evening is normally 2 - 3 minutes. Check the Programme for time and style of toast (Toast of the evening or to a specific person or organisation). A toast has an opening, body, and conclusion.

Effective training tips for development

Start by determining what training is required, in order to deliver products or services to the customer (internal or external customers), in a manner that increases customer engagement and retention. Get a training buy-in to ensure motivated trainees.

Speech design: The humour is in the pause

There is a direct relationship between tension and laughter. Laughter is a natural stress reliever, because when we laugh muscle tension melts away. When we laugh our muscles automatically relax, it's an involuntary reflex. A pause sets up the anticipation … here comes the funny!