How to Use Virtual Meetings in Your Business

how to be a leader

Darth Vader and the Virtual Meeting

Back in 1980, George Lucas and his production company, Lucasfilm, released a little movie by the name of The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Looking back (and compared to today’s standards), the special effects were a little corny and the costumes were pretty outrageous. But something happened in that film that was light years ahead of its time:

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How To Be a Leader

how to be a leader

How To Be A Leader

Whether you’re the newbie in the office or a seasoned employee with tenure, learning how to be a leader will positively impact your business life in many ways.

Maybe you want to be the boss one day, or maybe you just want to earn respect from your colleagues and clients as a trusted expert. Whatever the case, knowing what makes a good leader and taking time to invest in leadership skills will only serve to benefit you.

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Effective Communication Is the Most Important Soft Skill—And This Is Why

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Why Effective Communication Is the Most Important Soft Skill

Humans are built for connection. Whether that connection is brief (asking a sales associate for a price), constant (bonding with your coworkers), or deep (such as the relationship with your spouse), truly effective communicators can find a way to bridge the gap between themselves and any person they come in contact with.

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Are you communicating effectively with Co-workers?

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Are you communicating effectively with Co-workers?

One of your most important audiences is co-workers. You are communicating to every co-worker in your vicinity, sending both verbal and non-verbal signals. You may be communicating consciously or unconsciously, intentionally or unintentionally, actively or passively. Regardless of your intentions, others are watching and hearing from you. They are your audience and have the same power as any other audience. Continue reading

Master Public Speaking—Even if You’re An Introvert

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Introvert and Extrovert Misconceptions

When you think of an amazing public speaker, you probably picture a charismatic, charming, engaging individual who can drive their point across with ease and finesse.

Although you’d identify this person as super extroverted, somewhere along the way, you misclassified the differences between an introvert and an extrovert.

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How to Create a Slide Presentation that Wows Your Audience

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PowerPoint Presentations Don’t Have To Be Awful

Using a PowerPoint presentation or one created with Google Slides to convey your message is a great way to enhance your presentation with visuals. Do you dread sitting through a presentation that uses PowerPoint or Google Slides because they’ve been used in the same way so many times that you expect the same boring outcome the minute the screen flickers on?

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Collecting Presentation Feedback to Improve Your Skills

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Why Is Getting Presentation Feedback So Important?

Collecting presentation feedback is probably low on your list of priorities, especially if you’re terrified of public speaking and not making a fool of yourself in front of a group of people is your biggest concern. But having some sort of response system in place so your audience can provide you with feedback on your presentation is an incredibly useful (not to mention inexpensive) way to improve your public speaking skills and become an even better presenter.

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Filler Words Are, Like, Ruining Your Presentations

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Filler Words In Public Speaking

I know you notice when others use them. I know you don’t mean to use them yourself. But those awful filler words have a way of creeping into your presentations the way a family of skunks hides under your front porch. You don’t notice them at first, because they’re so subtle. Then one day you realize no one’s coming around anymore because, well, your house (and your presentations) stink.

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4 Ways You’re Ending Your Business Presentations Wrong

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Close a Presentation Effectively

You may think your presentations are incredibly well put together; you invest a lot of time into practicing your delivery and you are careful to use body language that sends a positive message to your audience. You know your stuff. You speak confidently. You hook your listeners with an opening that they can’t resist.

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Body Language Doesn’t Lie

body language doesn’t lie

The Truth About Body Language

When people tell us about their fear of public speaking, we find that what they’re most worried about is giving a bad public speaking performance. They worry about messing up their words, about forgetting what they want to say, or making some other mistake. If you’re one of these people, you should know that a very small percentage of what an audience takes from a presentation has to do with the words being spoken.

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5 Bad Presentation Habits [Infographic]

5 Bad Presentation Habits (Infographic)

Are You Guilty of These Bad Presentation Habits?

What makes a bad presentation…well, bad? You’ve heard the saying “There are no small parts, only small actors?” It’s pretty much the same for public speaking: There are no bad presentations, only bad presenters. You can win over any audience talking about any subject when you know how to present your material in a way people find engaging. But If you’re not willing to put any effort into developing strong presentation skills, it will show in your presentations. Continue reading

Keep Your Energy Going (And Your Audience Interested)

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Create Exciting Presentations That Stay Exciting

One of the most challenging things about public speaking is keeping your audience interested. We’ve talked about engaging your audience before, and there are a lot of things you can do to make your presentation fun and enjoyable for the people listening. But how do you make it a fun experience for you, too?

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How To Open A Presentation To Grab Your Audience Right From the Start

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Create A Strong Opening Statement

One of the best speakers I ever heard was a guy who started with such a touching and inspiring story of how he overcame personal tragedy.  As I listened, I couldn’t help but think: If this guy can come from the depths of despair to build a successful business and life, there is nothing anyone (including myself) can’t do.

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Communication Skills Every Manager Needs

Communication Skills Every Manager Needs

Communication in the Workplace

It goes without saying that communication in the workplace is the cornerstone to success. Without it, we can’t set goals for the good of the business or make plans to collectively achieve them. Without strong communication skills, no one would be able to share their ideas or concerns. There would be no relationship building, no connections.

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Talk With (Not At) Your Audience

Talk With (Not At) Your Audience

If you’re lucky enough to land yourself a public speaking gig, the last thing you want to do is waste the opportunity.

Yes, you read that right: I said you’re lucky to be offered an opportunity to give a presentation. Why? Because it means someone believes you have something important to say. Someone has chosen you to share your experiences, your insights, and your opinions on a topic that others want to learn more about. And not just anyone is asked to do that.

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7 Things You Need to do Before a Presentation

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A presentation is more than just an opportunity to explain a position or idea; it’s a means to demonstrate the hard work and research you’ve invested into it. And when it comes to preparing for a presentation—any presentation—you need to remember that the way you deliver your presentation is just as important (perhaps even more so) than the actual content.

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6 Things To Consider Before Choosing A Presentation Method

Choosing Your Presentation Method

Your presentation method—that is, the way in which you deliver a presentation—is just as important as organizing your material ahead of your presentation. How you deliver your message is actually a vital component of the message itself. Your goal is to engage your audience and compel them to listen and act on what you’re saying. For that reason, you really do need to invest some time into selecting the best presentation method.

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7 Ways You’re Using PowerPoint Wrong

using powerpoint effectively

Think back to the last presentation you heard that used PowerPoint. Was there anything memorable about it? How was PowerPoint used, and did it add value to the presentation?

Too many times we see PowerPoint used as a crutch. Instead of delivering a strong presentation that’s augmented by PowerPoint, the presenter hobbles through his presentation, reading his PowerPoint slides to the audience. Bo-ring.

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Meet the Press

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Dealing With the Media

So you have to do a media interview and you sense the crowd may be hostile.

Understanding that you may be asked some tough, pointed questions has you a bit on edge.

Certainly you’d like to control the situation and get out of there with your hide still intact while at the same time appearing genuine and open with the press.

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How to Use Gestures Effectively

gestures

How To Have Effective Gestures

We talk a lot about verbal and non-verbal communication in our public speaking workshops, but what exactly is non-verbal communication? To put it simply, it’s the way you communicate through body language or gestures, and it’s a critical component of presentation skills training.

To make a gesture is to move your body in a way that reinforces a verbal message you are trying to get across. People often gesture with their head and shoulders (nodding and shrugging are both examples of gestures), but when it comes to presentations and public speaking, it’s typically the hands and arms that do the bulk of the gesturing.

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Effective PowerPoint Tips

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Using PowerPoint Effectively

Who hasn’t attended a meeting or presentation where the speaker overused their PowerPoint Presentation and created a slow death for their audience?

You know; the one that had 125 slides and went through them in 20 minutes. Or the presenter that had to read each slide because the font was too small.

Believe it or not, power points do have a set of best practices that if followed will position you as a PowerPoint expert. You’ll begin using your PowerPoint to add value to your presentation rather than being the presentation.

Here are some common PowerPoint mistakes and how to avoid them:

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Practice and Preparation Equals Success

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How to Prepare For a Presentation

So you’ve been called on by a senior manager to deliver a presentation to the company’s Board of Directors at their next meeting. You’re no stranger to public speaking; you frequently lead team meetings and make presentations to senior staff several times a year. But we’re talking about the Board of Directors here! The last thing you want is to look like anything but a seasoned pro.

Here’s something you might not realize: The one thing every good speaker does to prepare for any presentation is… Practice. Yes, even the pros. There’s no greater tool for improving your public speaking skills than practicing them out loud, and the reason is simple—no two speaking engagements are exactly the same. Even if you are delivering the same presentation over and over again, there are variables that will always change, the single biggest one being your audience.

Aside from ensuring you are well versed on the material you are delivering, practicing ahead of time can iron out other issues that may potentially crop up unexpectedly. Here are a few things you should pay attention to (and perfect!) while you’re practicing:

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Catapulting Your Charisma

catapulting your charisma

The Power of Charisma

Have you ever noticed how some speakers seem to have a special power to draw others in? Their presence is engaging, comforting, and their passion makes you want to listen to what they have to say. They are compelling, and you spontaneously gravitate toward them and want to follow their lead. This quality has been called many things, from the “it” factor to a magnetic personality, but can be summed up in a word – Charisma.

Being charismatic requires a collection of traits such as being warm and friendly, while at the same time being confident and compelling, without being arrogant. When giving a presentation a charismatic speaker inspires the audience, and their message motivates the listeners to action and leaves a lasting impression.

Many people are naturally charismatic – they were born that way. So what if you weren’t so lucky? One can also learn to become charismatic. If you did not inherit the charismatic gene, you can boost your charismatic factor by focusing on certain characteristics.

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Exceptional Presenters are Great Storytellers

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Effective Presenters Always Tell a Story

Effective presenters all have one thing in common. They are excellent storytellers!  Connecting with your audience on an emotional level can be accomplished by the art of storytelling, which makes it easier to pull them in and keep them engaged.

The question I am asked most often by participants in our Effective Presentation Skills workshop is, “How do I engage an audience?” If you’ve ever felt the need to grab an audience and move them to take action, nothing will get their attention like a well-told story.  To become a truly effective presenter, you need to master the art of storytelling.

In classrooms, boardrooms and at the feet of parents around the world, stories are used to sell ideas, educate and communicate ideas more effectively. So, how do you become a great storyteller? How do you take an ordinary idea or concept and bring it to life with a story that moves people to take action? The following ideas will help you to become an effective and exceptional presenter though the art of storytelling.

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How To Engage Your Audience

engaging the audience

Passion Engages the Audience

Passion is the key to really being able to engage your audience!

There is no shortage of rules that relate to public speaking. Stand up straight. Speak clearly and with enough volume. Make eye contact if you want to engage the room and on and on and on. All of these areas are important to be effective as a public speaker, but they seem to miss the mark on the most important of all presentation tips.

If you really want to engage your audience, stick to the topics that you are deeply passionate about. The greatest thrill for an audience is to buy in to a speaker’s enthusiasm.  If you are simply delivering a book report and don’t feel passion for the topic, you can forget about engaging your audience.

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Present To Connect

communication skills

Presentation Skills and Customer Service

Companies large and small are all coming to the same conclusion, customer service is their lifeblood. As profit margins are squeezed and customer acquisition costs continue to rise, what can business owners do to stay competitive?  Simply differentiating your product or service is becoming less and less effective – in fact, futile.  And focusing on price alone will most certainly doom your efforts.

Organizations from every industry acknowledge exceptional customer service as the differentiator, and they also recognize that communication skills are of paramount importance.  And effective presentation skills are critical not just in strengthening relationships with current customers, but perhaps more importantly in presenting your product or service and driving market share.  Just ask many failed businesses found that this out the hard way!

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Why is Presenting so Stressful

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Fear of Public Speaking

What is it that causes so much fear and trepidation when it comes to speaking in front of other people? Why do we always become so nervous and jittery when giving presentations? Essentially, we are concerned about what people will think of us. This fear has become so embedded that it was etched into Chinese culture by way of the phrase “tiu lien”, or “to lose face.”  And for speakers, the risk of performing badly, of losing face, becomes huge.

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Using Storytelling in Business Presentations

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Impact the Audience With Storytelling

Successfully presenting your thoughts and ideas, and effectively impacting others with your message, can be a gateway to better relationships, more productivity and an enhanced bottom line.  Delivering a successful presentation requires that you truly connect with your the audience, and storytelling can quickly establish that connection.

Most presentations promote a concept, or an idea you wish to convey.  Your hope is to persuade the audience to a certain manner of thinking, and the use of an appropriate story, if practiced and perfected, can easily drive your point home.  Storytelling is entertaining, informative and perhaps the best way to captivate your audience, provided the listener can directly relate to the story.  There are many important considerations, the first imperative is to know your audience, the second to narrate the story in such a way that they are able to quickly identify with it.

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Humor In Presentations

humor in presentations

Use of Humor in Presentations Makes Them Memorable

One thing the National Republican debates have reminded us of, is the importance of humor in presentations.  The candidates are obviously not aware to the extent that their comments will be twisted into late night fodder. They certainly do not give us these valuable nuggets for this purpose, but the comical statements and wisecracks played over and over again on late night television comedy routines reminds us that our audience is listening and they do take note of what we say and how we say it.

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Communication Skills and Business Success

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Leadership and Communication Skills

Great leaders are great communicators. Great communicators are great leaders. The ability to confidently and persuasively communicate are critical to great leadership, and those who rise to the top are the ones who can stand up and speak effectively. When was the last time you watched a CEO of a Fortune 500 company deliver a lousy presentation and fall flat on his face? It doesn’t happen often—if ever! Most fortune 500 CEOs will tell you that the secret to their success is strong communication and presentation skills.

Effective communication skills are increasingly viewed as essential to the success of organizations and their leaders. Furthermore, the skills required to be an effective communicator are changing rapidly and continuously. For today’s leaders it is mandatory to communicate in “real time” via a host of communication channels. Leaders are evaluated by their candor and transparency, and are required to be constantly present, responsive and accessible.

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Ineffective Networking Meetings

7 Ways to be Ineffective at Networking Meetings

1) Talk about yourself:  After all, you are the most important person in the room.  Don’t engage the audience or ask anyone a question because they came to hear your story, not theirs. So it is all about you!

2) Never, ever make eye contact:  When you walk into the room be sure to roll your shoulders forward, look down, find the closet corner and stay there.  Remain statuesque, don’t move around or look up because someone might catch your eye and start a conversation with you!

3) No smiling:  Looking disinterested or angry is a certain way to create tension and produce a cold environment so people know you are unapproachable.

4) Always talk religion and politics:  It is important that everyone understands that your political and religious views are important to you, and therefore, should be important to them!

5) Read from a script:  You are extremely busy and have no time to memorize your pitch.  When the time comes to give your 30 second commercial, read slowly, word for word so you don’t leave anything out!

6) Everyone must have your information:  Walk up to every individual and hand them your business card, along with any other printed material you can carry.  Ask them what part they see themselves playing and how they can help build your business!

7) Carry a small brown paper bag:  Should some folks manage to get their business card in your hands, immediately toss them in your bag with a look of disinterest – and be sure to leave the bag near the exit on your way out the door!

How to Develop Listening Skills

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Listening Skills for Personal and Professional Success

Realistically, we spend about half of our time listening to people. We take instructions from our boss, participate in group discussions, and listen to our colleagues, friends and relatives. Unfortunately, many do not recognize the importance of developing good listening skills. Poor listening skills can cost you an important sales deal, a vital promotion, or even a valued relationship. It is important to realize the importance of good listening skills, and to work at developing them if we want to achieve success in both our professional and personal life.

Why Listen

One primary reason to actively listening is to obtain information. We also listen to gain understanding, and for enjoyment as well.

Research has shown that we generally retain 25-50% of what we actually listen too, meaning that about 50% of the data is lost due to poor listening skills. If we can strengthen our listening skills, we can increase our productivity, enhance our negotiation skills and avoid conflicts.

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