Posts Tagged "Presentation skills"

The Pitch: Your presentation skills are irrelevant…until

Your presentation skills are irrelevant*….until you have a boring message.

When your message is boring, does not make sense or is not convincing, people then look to your presentation skills and see that they are not up to scratch.
Many pitches have been lost because the message was not clear and poor presentation skills took the wrap for it.

As the presenter of the pitch it is up to you to have a crystal clear message that resonates with your audience. Then polish your presentation skills so you stand out.

You’re always being judged in a pitch. It’s important to understand what you’re being judged upon.



*It may seem unusual that a presentation skills expert would say this. That’s why my training is focused on how your audience hears your message – and not how you deliver it.

Flight time 1 hr and 27 min

I love the precision of flying. The captain makes an announcement that we will be pushing back from the terminal in 4 minutes and the flight will take 1 hour and 27 minutes to reach our destination.

It gives the feeling of certainty. We know the captain is in control and knows exactly what is happening. They don’t say “I think the flight will be about an hour and a half’, or ‘I believe we’ll be taking off to the South.’ The captain is 100% certain.

This is not arrogance, over confidence or anything else. It’s ownership. The Captain knows they are in charge and directs accordingly.

As a passenger I like knowing that the person flying me through the air is in control. They are not second guessing or believing we will get there. They know and communicate that and we accept it.

Do you communicate your message with the same level of authority?

Stop death by PowerPoint – Presentation Skills

There is no reason for a death-by-PowerPoint presentation. No excuses at all. They do not engage they do not inform and no one likes them.

You have the right and my permission to sleep through the next death-by-PowerPoint presentation you are subjected to.

If you cannot read the company financials you enroll in a program to learn how.
If you don’t know how to manage people you get the training so you do.
If you don’t know how to present go take a course.

If you want people to listen to you and remember what you say, you have to be worth listening to. Go do the work.


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Speak to Me

Speaking has an unusual paradigm.

The speaker is in a one-to-many relationship and speaks accordingly. They structure their sentences to speak to everyone (e.g. How many of you have been sailing?)

The problem is, that the audience is not in the same paradigm. They are in a one-to-one paradigm. If you want them to hear you then speak as though you are only speaking to one person (e.g Have you been sailing?)

When you speak to one, every person in the audience thinks you are speaking to them. This generates greater buy-in to your message.

This works well in e-mails too.

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What do you do with your hands when speaking?

When speaking, how you feel about your hands tells you a lot about your message. They’re the canary in the coal mine. If you’re not sure what to do with them, then there is something else wrong with your presentation.

Check your message, your reason for speaking and your slides. Do you know what you are trying to achieve while speaking? Check every area you can and you will find the issues that are distracting you.

When you address these issues, the problems you have with your hands will disappear.

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Go Mr Squiggle-esk

Microsoft estimates there are over 30,000,000 powerpoint presentations given every single day. How they measure this I have no idea, but let’s assume it’s true.

There is good evidence to think it is. After all, most presentations you attend will have someone reading out bullet points at you.

So how do you stand out in this environment? How do you present in a way so you don’t like just look everyone else? How do you zig when everyone else zags?

You need to go old school, you need to go low tech, you need to go Mr Squiggle-esk.

The flip chart is great for this. When you build your message on a flip chart it does three things:

  1. Creates a sense of joint ownership.
  2. Allows you to build your message out in layers so your audience understands its flow.
  3. Sets you apart from everyone else who uses slides.

The flip chart builds theatrics into your message and allows you to have some fun. This builds great energy and is what your audience wants – it keeps them entertained while you deliver your message to them.

Next time you speak, channel Mr Squiggle and stand out.

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Please Do Not Start This Way

As with everything, there is a right and wrong way to do something. Opening a presentation is no exception.

Many people use the techniques below to build a connection with their audience. However, it usually builds a weak and undesirable connection that does not position you as a leader.

Speaker focus

Questions. Questions don’t always bond the audience to your message, nor does it get them agreeing with you. Questions are risky – what if no one answers? To get around this, speakers often ask a low risk or irrelevant question. This weakens your positioning.

Jokes. There is a reason why most jokes can’t be told in polite company – it’s because they have a victim. If the audience relates with the victim more than you, they won’t like you. You’d be hard pressed to get a joke that relates to your message.

Platitudes. Many speakers think the audience wants to have their ego stroked and open by telling the audience how wonderful they are and how they are honoured to be speaking. The audience doesn’t care about how you feel about speaking to them – they care about themselves.

Apologies. Starting with an apology does not set you up as a leader. By definition, it puts you in a position of weakness. The audience wants a strong leader, not a weak speaker.

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Begin with a Bang – 4 Ways to Get your Audiences Attention

Every marketing student knows that you have just a few seconds to grab the customers attention. If you get their attention, you have a chance to sell to them. But if you don’t grab their attention, your chances of selling something are slashed.

It’s the same when presenting. There are four ways you can get the attention of your audience.

High Energy

  1. Data – Creates a logical connection. Use facts and figures (e.g. 74% of all statistics are made up on the spot.)
  2. Stories – Introduces emotions that we bond too (e.g. We were approached in July by customer X to…)
  3. Statements – Draws a line in the sand and sets up your argument (e.g. Over the next 12 months we will see the market grow and we need to be ready to capitalise on it.)
  4. Directives – shows the room you are the leader (Raise your hand if you have made budget this year.)

Each type of opening has strengths and weaknesses, and no one is better than another. It’s about knowing what each type is good for, and using it accordingly.

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Your Verbal Stance

How well do you fight for your position?

One characteristic that strong leaders and people of influence have is the ability to hold tight to their vision. When they come to a meeting, they know what they want, and they fight for it.

When you walk away from your meetings, after your phone calls, after emails that you’ve written, reflect on the type of language you’ve used, and how much you’ve fought towards staying on your message. Were you persuaded away from what it is you wanted to achieve? If you were persuaded away, what caused that? How strong were those arguments? In hindsight, were they strong arguments or weak arguments?

There is nothing wrong with you changing their mind. What is important, is how easily you changed it. How compelling was the evidence that caused you to change your mind? In instances where you were persuaded to change your mind, how comfortable were you with that decision? If you were not comfortable with that decision, what caused you to change? Was it within your control to not change?

The strength with which you hold your message will show those around you how committed you are to what it is that you stand for. When you can do that, you will be seen as a person of influence, someone who has authority, and is able to get their message across.

Start at the End

When I was a kid, my Dad was a pilot. I loved going to the airport with him and flying all over Victoria. It was the greatest place to hang out.

Prior to each flight, Dad would have to submit a flight plan, and I’d watch in awe as he prepared it. He’d take out the maps of the area and study them, starting with where he was going to land. Once he knew his destination, he’d look at the path he needed to take so he could approach the runway in an optimum way. From there, he’d work back to ensure that he avoided any restricted airspace and that he had taken the most direct flight path. Then, once he knew which runway he’d be taking off from, he’d plan his climb out.

As it happens, this is also the best way to prepare a presentation too. You need to start with the end in mind to ensure you reach it. If the first thing you write is the opening, how will you know what to say so it leads into the body of the presentation if you haven’t written it yet?

Start at the end. It’s much easier.

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