How to deliver a Kick-Ass Presentation – Final Part
by Coach Gabriela Mueller
Ta dah! … the third and final part of delivering a KICK ASS Presentation is here.
Want to be prepared to overcome the top most common challenges as speaker/presenter? Great, this is for you!
In over 15 years of working as presentation skills coach and trainer I’ve built my expertise by learning from the best, and also by making many mistakes, taking the lesson from each and moving on, improving every time. Today’s TIP will cover some of the most important challenges I coach people on – from young leaders who are nervous delivering their first presentation, to experienced CEOs, leaders and even politicians.
Challenge 1: Houston, we have a problem! Technology nightmares. Imagine that your presentation starts in a few minutes. You arrive at the venue and your nightmare has just started. The projector won’t work with your laptop. Your computer needs a special adapter to connect, there’s no internet connection available, no technical support staff, or no microphone available… the list goes on. The slides you spent hours preparing are useless. Bummer!
Solutions: You can avoid a situation like this by taking time to familiarize yourself with the venue and available equipment at least once before your presentation. Many elements that seriously jeopardize your presentation will be situations beyond your control, though this doesn’t mean that you have to be helpless. Identify risks and have a PLAN B, full of other simple and creative alternatives for each crucial factor – ideas such as sketches/flipcharts, colorful pens/creative notes/post-its. I recommend www.neuland.ch which can give you options and ideas. A simple outline of a well-prepared list of topics, keywords on your notes, and a simple icebreaker are all helpful. Always aim at starting with a positive energy/attitude. Although technology won’t play nicely at times, make sure your audience sees a well-prepared, solid speaker who’s in control and knows how to drive the agenda. I had to overcome this one once; I was on a idyllic island in Oceania, it was after a heavy storm, when no power, no air-conditioning, of course no fancy visuals were available. Though I was prepared like a rocket, I had a Plans B and C in place. This involved lots of teamwork, utilizing corners in the facility, think tank sessions and making myself independent from technology or even power. Preparation beats challenges.
Challenge 2. The “mañana- mañana effect”. Time’s up! Bad time management. Many speakers spend more than 30% of their allocated time on their introduction, welcome message or even apologies at the start of a presentation. They quickly run out of time and hence try to squeeze the most important points into the last 40 seconds. This leaves listeners wondering what exactly the main message of the speech was. The fluffy nothings in the beginning? The boring intermezzo? Or the quick, frantic, last-minute message?
Solutions: practice with a timer. You could either have a person in the audience playing “time keeper” and request a 3-5 minute indication before you run out of time, or use the timer on your phone. Most pointers also have a timer feature which vibrates in your pocket when it’s time to wrap up!
Another idea is to have at least two versions of your speech ready to deliver. For example have a 30-minute version and a 10-minute version in case you need it. For this to happen, it’s not necessary to change your slides, only the level of context/detail that go with them. Have clarity about the main take-away which you want your audience to get from your speech. Highlight these main points so that you can quickly wrap up your talk without giving the impression you are ending your presentation abruptly.
I also recommend reconfirming your speaking time. A polite and reassuring idea is to re-check your speaking time with your host or the event planner before you start. Monitor your time during the presentation – a quick, discrete look at your watch and notes at a certain check-point will help you stay calm and organized.
Challenge 3. ZZZZZZzzzzzzz- an Audience totally disengaged. When my coaches ask me: Gabriela why audiences fall asleep and how to prevent it? I tell them: State the WHY-factor first. Make sure you state why they should listen to you in the first 30 seconds and make a compelling argument that you’ll add value. That alone will eliminate a lot of this challenge. Though let’s be realistic, our audience members have shorter attention spans than ever before. Research shows that on average, it can take as little as a few seconds to divert attention, so they’ll be tempted to check their email, text, have side-talks.
Solutions: Avoid presenting at a pace that is too slow, that dives too deeply into details or delivers monotonous data (including your voice pattern). If you do any of this, you can be sure their attention will be diverted. Period. We, as presenters, must do all we can to earn the attention of our audience and to keep it. Present with passion and energy. Make authentic eye contact with your audience. Use the power of pauses, storytelling, attention-catchers every 15-20 minutes (change activity, topic, or ask a pertinent question, make them stand up and work in pairs/teams) use effective audio visuals. Lastly, make sure you schedule enough bio-breaks and that your audience has the chance to take a sip of water. Dehydration causes loss of attention after a while.
Theodore Roosevelt said it well “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. Impact your audience, demonstrate warmth before communicating competence or attempting to influence the audience. You can communicate your credibility and your message once you have connected with the audience, showing you care.
Go and deliver a Kick-Ass Presentation and let me know about it. Sign up for Newletters / Tips and events operations-at-gabrielamueller.com
DELIVER A KICK-ASS PRESENTATION PART II – THE BODY LANGUAGE OF POWER
Gabriela Mueller MAY 2017
Last time, we reviewed the steps for preparing to deliver a Kick-ass Presentation.
Now, you’re on! You have been introduced, you get on stage and start walking.
How long does it take for the audience to decide whether they will engage with you as speaker or… pull out their mobiles, start texting or let their minds wander? 1…2…3… a few seconds. Anywhere between as few as 5 and 30 seconds. By that time, they have sized you up, have an idea (fair or unfair) of who you are, and how much sense they can get from your presentation. So they are in or out.
Remember my point that body language and the characteristics of your voice make up over 90% of the effectiveness of the communication of your message, so it’s crucial you align the power of your message with the body language of power.
Your body can be an effective tool for emphasizing and clarifying the words you use, whilst reinforcing their sincerity and enthusiasm. Here are a few tips on how to use gestures effectively:
Eye contact establishes an immediate bond with an audience, especially when a speaker focuses in on individual listeners rather than just scanning or gazing over the audience as a whole. I call this “my anchors”. I look for the first receptive people in the audience who smile back at me and nod. Then I move on to the rest. It helps me keep on track and collected.
“What do I do with my hands???!” – This is perhaps the most common question I get from coaches – I say: “Use them, my friend!”. Besides the obvious use of counting or pointing, you can use your hands to emphasize feelings (joy, decisiveness, surprise, danger, intrigue, connection). Your hands help you illustrate the depth and breadth of your presentation topic. It’s especially useful when speaking to multi-cultural audiences Use your hands wisely, avoid sudden or repetitive movements. S L O W and firm moves work better.
Concrete Do’s and Don’ts.
DO open and extend your arms. It sends out a message of confidence and enthusiasm. Paradoxically, a position like this in stressful situations is effective and it defuses tension. Practice, practice, practice.
DON’T touch the lectern/podium. You will soon look attached, fixed or nervous, or will start making strange movements over it. Don’t touch it.
DO handle Q&A with confidence and respect. Open palms – as you refer to particular people in the room- move slowly, add a smile, be confident.
DON’T use pointing fingers, this may be perceived as aggressive or arrogant gestures in most cultures.
DO use effective visual gestures together with storytelling. These are perhaps the top strategies in your speaker’s toolbox. Watch Diana Nyad’s TED talk using both tools at a mastery level. Put your verbs in to action when speaking to an audience by using your body, physically acting them out with the hands, face or entire body.
DON’T place your hands in pockets, play with objects like keys, pens, pointer, or fidget. All this steals your audience’s attention and prevent you from getting your message across.
DO use open postures, confidently refer to content on screen whilst still maintaining good eye contact with your audience, solid stance, good use of audiovisuals, are all ingredients for success. Match your facial expressions to your message.
DON’T use close, shy, defensive, aggressive gestures or posture. This will inevitably result in losing your audience’s attention or worse, a negative tone in your presentation that may take its toll later. There’s nothing more ineffective than a speaker who says “I’m excited to be with you guys… bla… bla…” while s/he looks bored, detached and impersonal.
Lastly, if you like to move around the stage, go for it. This is a tool with a purpose. As your topics change, you develop a story, use it to point out the start-middle-end of a story, or ideas A, B and C. You can use it to move toward the audience when asking questions, making critical connections, or offering a revelation. You want to be careful not to over-use it. Speakers who move constantly, without purpose look like tigers in a cage and distract their audiences.
NEXT TIME we’ll conclude this 3-part series of “How to deliver a Kick-ass presentation” with useful way to deal/overcome the top 3 challenges in a presentation.
How to deliver a Kick-Ass Presentation – Part 1/3
by Gabrilea Mueller March 2017
Yes, that’s right. A kick-ass presentation is really not only about what you say. It’s also about HOW you say it. In fact we know that over 90% of the information we send out to our audience is based on non-verbal communication and the quality of our voice (volume, speed, pitch, etc). So I’ve decided to launch a 3-part series of posts to review how to make it work for you every time; this Part 1 of 3.
Imagine you’ve been given an assignment to make an important presentation about company/product/service to a group of high-ranking, busy stakeholders. Now, you are about to enter that room full of decision makers, you’re the next speaker. What goes through your mind? What’s your body reaction? Ta, ta, ta, tan…
Ok, let’s back up a bit. You are preparing your presentation – don’t focus solely on the content or your software (and please, don’t over-use PowerPoint) – YOU are the core part of the message and presentation. Instead visualize and think about these tips ahead of time. Here are the first pointers to delivering a kick-ass presentation, Part 1:
1. WIIFM? Know who your audience is. What’s the main idea they absolutely need to get from you? Be clear about the “WIIFM = What’s In It For Me? – Question”.
2. The 10 minutes prior to the presentation matter: yes, what you do before you enter that room is important. Most people would feel isolated and stressed out, going through their notes and fretting. I recommend that whenever possible you stand up. Be calm, take deep breaths and repeat a positive thought or word. I often tell myself: “I’ve got this!” when I’m preparing. Strike an open pose or even a power-pose if you are alone and if the space is available. For more on this, watch the world-renowned TED Talk on power poses and their effect.
3. Enter and own the room. Never rush into a room. Walk in s l o w l y . Smile. Everyone watches the entrance. This is your first opportunity to make a good impression. It takes anywhere from 7-10 seconds to make a first impression. Even if it isn’t the first time you’ve seen these people, this may help establish a solid starting point and determine how you’ll be treated later.
4. Smile. Yes, teeth showing or not, smile. A simple smile is the shortest distance between two people. One of the most important non-verbal signals people use to size you up and figure out your intent is your facial expression. This doesn’t mean you need to have a smiley face the whole time, all you are saying is: “I’m approachable and confident”, it’s the best place to start.
5. Build rapport. A person who establishes rapport with others, becomes one with them, builds empathy, learns more from them and she/he is in a better position to serve and add value. So before launching into any conversation that involves business, connect first. Use small talk wisely. Most people talk about the weather and traffic; want to be different? Here are few ideas for other topics: details of their journey; experience vis-à-vis the event or project; recent news headlines; important or recent work-related news; or ask a pertinent question (on a non-related topic) if appropriate.
6. Solid, confident handshake. We will develop this topic further in Part 2 – for now you need to know that your hand-shake sets the tone and tells people how confident, competent and friendly you are. All this in a few seconds. This small human behavior is key.
7. Be culturally smart. The key to cross-cultural success is the ability to develop an understanding of, and a deep respect for, cultural differences. So adapt wisely things like: the duration of your small talk, personal physical distance, use of humor, etc. For more information about different cultures, use Hostede’s approach.
Don’t forget that you, being contagiously enthusiastic, can be your best chance to get buy-in and reduce resistance. You may have lots of ideas, solid knowledge, and yet unless you are able to show the world you’re enthusiastic about your own ideas, almost no one else will be.
My next BLOG post will be about Part 2: “Deliver a Kick-Ass Presentation: the Body Language of Power”, don’t’ miss it.
Three Magic words to go from self-sabotage to SUCCESS by Gabriela Mueller Mendoza
The words you use can change your outcomes and even a perspective on any given situation. When we use words that are passive or weak, our own perception of the situation tends to be more negative, our listeners will perceive it too. On the other hand active, powerful and dynamic words, will help us perceive ourselves as more capable over any situation and this impacts our results. Semantics have an underestimated power.
Some key important words simply sabotage our success before we even start showing up our work or presence. When they pop up too often in our speech they diminish the perception of competence, they make us sound insecure and disempowered. Interested in finding it out which words made it to the top of this list? Stay and learn three simply ways to become a more powerful speaker.
1. Replace words such as “should” and “try” and “hope”, by “WILL”. This simple step shows true commitment. The difference between: “I will try to deliver the results tomorrow afternoon” and “ I will deliver the results tomorrow afternoon” is a clear gap in the level of commitment. If J. F. Kennedy had said “we will try to go to the moon…” we would probably still be trying. ALTERNATIVES: Use “WILL” and another useful option is: “intend”. Notice the difference between “ we hope to sign that big contract tomorrow..” (this sentences leaves room for doubt) vs “We intend to sign that big contract tomorrow” (it expresses a more direct proactive action).
2. Replace “but” with “and” or nothing. If you have ever been to my seminars, courses and coaching sessions anywhere in the world you are already working on this one strategy. The word “BUT” and its very elegant friend: “however”, are barriers in any conversation, whether written or spoken. This small participle has huge power to disregard the first part of any sentence or idea. The moment it pops-up, the brain of the person receiving our message hits a wall that makes hard to remember what was said before. Unfortunately this words pops up too often in any given conversation, pay attention to your speech and others, you’ll notice how prevailing this word is. After having coached thousands of professionals and dozens of world leaders in over 75 countries I can also confirm that it comes up in its equivalent in every language! The effect is the same. ALTERNATIVES: replace “but” for “AND” or simply for nothing (pause). That’s right. When you use “AND” to link two thoughts or sentences, it doesn’t dismiss / refuse the first part, instead, it adds information. You can also decide to make a “pause”, then both, first and second thoughts are valid. Example: “Our Q1 results were good, but there are still challenges..” instead “Our Q1 results were good. There are still challenges ahead.” OR “Our Q1 results were good AND we know there are still challenges ahead..” The last two versions let both thoughts be valid, and it even sets the tone to discover solutions rather than problems.
3. And I kept the unnecessary “King” word that can sabotage our success when it’s overdone and not really meant! This word is “Sorry”.
Before you think the word is very necessary to offer an apology, let me share why it can sabotage someone’s success.
Being over apologetic makes us seem less confident and even less competent, which can lead people to start taking advantage of us easily or distrust us. If you say “Sorry..sorry” for things you are not responsible for, or things that are outside your control, not your fault, then you are simply sabotaging your own performance, perception of promise of value, and it conveys a lack of confidence.
Here are some of the most common unnecessary “Sorry”-moments and examples I’ve collected:
- “I’m sorry John to interrupt. It’s time for your meeting, are you ready to chat?“) this is an unnecessary apology (you both agreed to that time slot, right?) it also shows lack of confidence.
- “I’m sorry I’ve got a question” – instead of “I’ve got a question” with positive attitude or a smile or decisive body language.
- “I’m sorry I’d like a coffee”..instead of “Miss, a coffee please” or “I’d like a coffee please”. See the difference?
- And lastly a common situation, when someone apologizes for being on the same room /space or being “bumped” by someone. They are not responsible and yet the word “sorry” slips out their mouth together with apologetic and nervous body language. Even if they are not responsible for any of that. Unluckily statistics show that women say the word “Sorry” four times more than men in the workplace.
Constantly saying “I’m sorry” or unwarranted apologies not only bloat your speech and loses focus and clarity of your message, but also dilutes the power of the word, and after while it may come off as untrue or superficial.
So for all those reasons, I’d suggest eliminate the constant “sorry-ness” out of our messages. Should you really own an apology to someone then the ALTERNATIVES can be a sincere genuine way to say “I offer my apology..or please accept my apology” . It shows you are taking responsibility and offering an apology in a sincere yet confident way. Another idea is to replace “sorry..sorry I’m late, sorry the projector doesn’t work, sorry can we start?”..for Thanks for your patience, or thanks your understanding or your attention.. whatever the equivalent is your are looking for.
ACTIONS: if you want to go from self-sabotage to success I suggest
- Pay attention to your speech and notice which/when these little disempowering words show up in your messages (notice when and with whom)
- Then consciously choose which one you’ll eliminate or replace first. Watch what difference this makes over a period of time.
- Remember, changing a habit or adopting a new one is not easy though practice is the way to get it done.
- Send me your comments about how this impacts your outcomes.
- More references: see a list of other words I also suggest to review and considering decreasing or eliminating as they don’ add value and replace them for assertive positive words.
Use powerful language to power up your success in whatever version of success you define for yourself.
GOALS for 2017? Don’t focus on them, instead focus on this…
What do you want for yourself in 2017? What do you REALLY want? We all want so many things and often all at the same time. At some point, we all want to be in shape, have a beautiful house and a great family, loving relationships, a successful career, money, recognition and more. If you are like me and think of changing and making any sort of progress next year, you will be thinking about how and when to make these changes. Statistically, JANUARY 15TH is the date when, in any new year, over 70% of people will have already forgotten their new year’s resolutions! So early in the year? True.
Do you know that, statistically, around 83% of people live/work without real goals and no strategy? Really. Another 14%, have them only in their heads and only 3% of people actually write down their goals. The action of actually writing down your goals increases your chances of success by up 30 times. Now, before you go ahead and simply write down your goals, keep reading, because the success factor is yet to come.
Any long-term, important goal requires us to make a sustained effort. That’s where it gets tricky. Doing something for a day or two is not hard. Something new is always exciting, though when it stops being new, the excitement slowly disappears. We move on to a new goal, not finishing what we started. This pattern of behavior can become a habit. When our time and energy are divided up between multiple areas, wishes and goals, we can’t accomplish any significant results. Progress is slow or difficult to assess and we lack clarity. In this process we lose money, energy and time – all of which are limited resources. There are two main qualities we need to develop in order to reach the life we’d like: focus on priorities, and consistency. So, how do we do that? Three things:
- Keep your focus Priorities instead of end goals. You may have thousands of projects and ideas, though only a few of them will make a noticeable, positive effect on your life. When you start thinking in terms of “priorities”, things will start to fall into place and your focus and productivity increases significantly. Prioritizing is easy – ask yourself: What is most important and meaningful in my life today (activities, values, beliefs, lifestyle, principles, standards, hobbies, integrity, etc.) that I am not willing to compromise or sacrifice in pursuit of something else (a goal)? A goal is a future-based, anticipated expectation, possibility or end result which you are working towards, and to be realized in the future.
Now, when we achieve clarity about our PRIORITIES, it eases the process and increases our chances of staying focused. Only compare two goals you have in mind and choose the one which is really the most important at the moment, according to your priorities. Your present life and well-being is a result of your every-day minute-by-minute decisions, so choosing wisely makes a huge difference. If we keep on doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep on getting what we’ve always gotten. Focusing on habits and daily behaviors instead of only on the “end-result” gives you consistency. This increases your chances of achieving your goals.
- Look at your Wheel of Life: the following exercise is a significantly meaningful coaching tool. It will help you identify key areas of your life and it will help you choose your own priorities. This Wheel of Life will represent the areas of your life. The categories are suggestions (you may vary them according to your area of interest). Calibrate how satisfied you are at this point about each particular area. The closer you calibrate your satisfaction to the center (0, 1…), the lower your satisfaction level is. 0 = low satisfaction, 10 = the highest satisfaction. Be honest. This is all about you – you don’t have to show it to anyone. Join the dots – it’s a snapshot of a given time which will show you a visual representation of where you can choose priorities to work on. Choose the area/s which will have a higher positive impact on your life wisely if you were to work on them. I always recommend my coachees start with two or three (no more) and then define their priorities among the few chosen ones.
Based on your own satisfaction, how does your Wheel of Life look now?
What will it look like in 2017?
- Get accountability. You can follow your own path to define and plan, including a time line. Schedule them into your calendar, again a schedule is better than a deadline (process vs end goal). Set calendar alerts, phone alerts, put post-its up, friendly structures/reminders that will keep you focused. Schedule your steps into your life, keep them close to you somehow. Get accountability going, whether is your support tribe / friends /partner, or you want to keep your goal to yourself it can also be a great strategy though set up a system or structure that continues to remind you or help you register progress.
The difference is, that now you’re focused on the areas of your life that you’ve decided have priority, and not only on the goals themselves. So, when it gets hard to stick to your resolutions (after January 15th 2017) you can go back to a higher and smarter perspective (your Wheel of Life) and remind yourself of the WHY you decided to set a goal in the first place. Something that PULLS you towards your personal vision, and nothing that pushes you based on forced will-power. You’ll increase your chances of being one of the people who actually achieves their desired goals.
I leave you with a quote that I personally find to be true: “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”. I wish you a peaceful and warm Christmas and a successful exciting 2017!