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Effective Presentations works with the movers and shakers in virtually any industry.

We’ve all been there—you’ve worked hard on your presentation and you know it like the back of your hand. But when the moment comes to begin that presentation, you aren’t sure where to begin. So, what comes out? Perhaps something like this:

“Hi everyone, thanks for being here. Today I’m going to be talking about ‘Topic A,’ which includes point 1, point 2, and point 3. Let’s go ahead and get started.”

That’s a fine introduction…but it’s one that everyone has heard before, time and time again. You want to stand out from the crows—not just another PowerPoint! Use something more powerful to open up your presentations.

Power Openings

Why not start off with a hook or an attention-getter? When your audience is greeted with a rhetorical question, a startling statistic, or a concept to contemplate right off the bat, they are more likely to engage with the rest of your presentation. The anticipation level of each audience member should be very dynamic, and not taper off. You can ensure this is the truth with a strong, powerful opening.

Some Examples:

If you are giving a presentation on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, here a few ways you could begin your introduction with more “oomph:”

These are so much more engaging than “Hello, my name John Doe, and today I will be teaching you how to make a PB & J sandwich.”

Power Closes

How about ending your presentation?

Many of us hear and use the typical: “well, that’s all I have for you today. Thank you for being here; let me know if you have any questions.” And if it’s a virtual presentation, it follows with 30 seconds of awkward waving trying to leave the meeting!

Try these options instead:

The Bookend Close: To close a speech using the bookend method, you need to bring the entire speech full circle. Refer back to your original opening or challenge. Tell them again the important points. Remember, if you tell them enough times, they’ll have a better chance to get it!

The Challenge Close: You may want to challenge your audience to get off the sideline and take action. Challenge them to do something spectacular or to get out of their comfort zone.

The Echo Close: This is a very effective way to get your audience to remember your presentation. It can be used in combination with other power closes. Focus on a single word or phrase that will reinforce your call to action. Create the sound bite that continues to reverberate in their heads and moves them to action.

People will remember the last thing you say, and the first impression you left. The Power Opening & Close should be your biggest priority when creating an out-of-this-world presentation!

We’ve all been there—you’ve worked hard on your presentation and you know it like the back of your hand. But when the moment comes to begin that presentation, you aren’t sure where to begin. So, what comes out? Perhaps something like this:

“Hi everyone, thanks for being here. Today I’m going to be talking about ‘Topic A,’ which includes point 1, point 2, and point 3. Let’s go ahead and get started.”

That’s a fine introduction…but it’s one that everyone has heard before, time and time again. You want to stand out from the crows—not just another PowerPoint! Use something more powerful to open up your presentations.

Power Openings

Why not start off with a hook or an attention-getter? When your audience is greeted with a rhetorical question, a startling statistic, or a concept to contemplate right off the bat, they are more likely to engage with the rest of your presentation. The anticipation level of each audience member should be very dynamic, and not taper off. You can ensure this is the truth with a strong, powerful opening.

Some Examples:

If you are giving a presentation on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, here a few ways you could begin your introduction with more “oomph:”

These are so much more engaging than “Hello, my name John Doe, and today I will be teaching you how to make a PB & J sandwich.”

Power Closes

How about ending your presentation?

Many of us hear and use the typical: “well, that’s all I have for you today. Thank you for being here; let me know if you have any questions.” And if it’s a virtual presentation, it follows with 30 seconds of awkward waving trying to leave the meeting!

Try these options instead:

The Bookend Close: To close a speech using the bookend method, you need to bring the entire speech full circle. Refer back to your original opening or challenge. Tell them again the important points. Remember, if you tell them enough times, they’ll have a better chance to get it!

The Challenge Close: You may want to challenge your audience to get off the sideline and take action. Challenge them to do something spectacular or to get out of their comfort zone.

The Echo Close: This is a very effective way to get your audience to remember your presentation. It can be used in combination with other power closes. Focus on a single word or phrase that will reinforce your call to action. Create the sound bite that continues to reverberate in their heads and moves them to action.

People will remember the last thing you say, and the first impression you left. The Power Opening & Close should be your biggest priority when creating an out-of-this-world presentation!

A Good Business Presentation Starts Strong

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s just how important effective communication is to the health and sustainability of a business. Every good business presentation starts with great communication.

Until this year, a lot of businesses dabbled in online and digital communication, mostly in the form of emails and texts. Face-to-face communication was there—if we wanted it.

A world-wide health pandemic changed all that.

That’s when video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts really took off. For people sent home to work remotely, using these apps became a way of life. In fact, it’s estimated that Zoom added 2.22 million active users in January and February of 2020, far exceeding the 1.99 million users the company added in all of 2019.

Months later, we’re still using the platform to stay connected with colleagues and clients, family, and friends.

Like thousands of other businesses, Effective Presentations had to take a serious look at its service delivery in the spring of 2020. With travel bans and restrictions placed on gatherings, we knew we had to take a new approach to connect with our clients. And they, in turn, had to reach theirs in a different way.

Although we’ve been using Zoom and other similar video conferencing tools for years to deliver our presentation training workshops to businesses across the U.S. and Canada, it’s become the preferred (and necessary) method in 2020.

Not surprisingly, remote business presentation training has become a priority to thousands of companies. Businesses that once relied on in-person meetings suddenly needed a way to stay connected with existing clients and pitch to new ones.

We also saw an uptick in people who started to see just how important making a great first impression through the lens of a webcam is.

First Impressions are Important

Making a great first impression is always important, no matter how you’re meeting someone for the first time.

It’s especially important when you’re meeting with customers, because it’s during this initial interaction that their opinion of you (and your services) is formed.

Making a great first impression sets you up for a successful business relationship. A bad first impression, on the other hand, can set a negative tone you may never be able to shake.

If you’re finding it difficult to make a good first impression because you have to make it online, we have some fail-proof tips.

It’s possible to make a first impression over Zoom that’s just as good (if not better) as it would be if you were giving a business presentation live.

5 Ways to Make a Good First Impression

  1. Dress for the occasion. It’s definitely tempting to hang out all day in your favorite sweats when all you’re doing is sitting behind a keyboard. But if you want to make a good first impression, wearing your 20-year-old college sweatshirt with the ratty cuffs and mustard stains isn’t going to get you there. Remember, this is a business presentation.

    Unless the occasion calls for formal dress, it’s perfectly acceptable to dress in business casual: a collared shirt or solid-colored sweater is always a good choice. Neither are distracting and both give the impression you’ve put a little effort into your appearance.

    While you’re at it, run a comb through your hair and show up generally looking neat and clean. Your physical appearance is the first thing your client will see. Even over video, showing up disheveled makes a strong statement about you—and it’s not good.

  2. Choose an appropriate background. When you’re meeting a client or colleague in a conference room or over coffee, you don’t pay much attention to what’s happening on the wall behind you. But when you’re meeting with someone over Zoom, this is an important detail you can’t overlook when you’re trying to make a good first impression.

    Choose a space that isn’t too busy or cluttered; a solid background with natural light is ideal. If you don’t have anywhere that’s suitable, you can use one of Zoom’s standard backgrounds to disguise your location. You can even search for free Zoom backgrounds online and upload an image to your Zoom profile so it’s ready the next time you have an online meeting. Here’s how you do it:

    • Go to Zoom.us and log in
    • Navigate to the “Settings” menu on the left-hand side of the screen
    • Select the “In Meeting (Advanced)” option
    • Scroll down to “Virtual background” and enable it by toggling to the right
    • Launch the Zoom desktop app and log in
    • Click the gear icon in the top right corner
    • Select “Virtual Background”
    • Choose a background shown or click the “+” sign to upload your own image or video to use as a background

    Don’t forget about the lighting in the room. Natural light is always the best choice if you have it. Even if you don’t, make sure your face is well lit and that your primary light isn’t coming from directly behind you.

  3. Speak to the camera. A lot of people will look at their screen when they’re on a Zoom call, and it’s something they might not realize works against them when they’re talking to another person online.

    The great thing about Zoom is that it allows you to have a face-to-face conversation with another person without being in the same room. However, you have to remember that you’re speaking to the person on the other end through your webcam. That means when you’re looking at the image of them on your screen as you talk, you aren’t looking into their “eyes,” so to speak.

    Eye contact is critical when it comes to effective communications. Meeting someone’s eyes when you talk makes you appear more trustworthy and it shows the person that you’re speaking with that you’re paying attention to them.

    Considering how important first impressions are, you need good eye contact.

    So rather than look at the image of your client when you speak during a Zoom call, talk directly to the camera so that it looks and feels to the person on the other end as though you are looking them straight in the eye.

  4. Use the mute feature. With so many people now working from home, it’s become commonplace to have unexpected interruptions, like kids or pets running into the room.

    And even though anyone with a family understands how difficult it is to work from home, you still don’t want to have your meeting ruined by noisy distractions in your environment. That’s why it’s important to learn how to mute your meeting so unwanted noises are kept out.

    First and foremost, plan to sit in a space where there will be little or no noise during your call. When another person on the call is speaking, engage the mute feature so unexpected noises on your end don’t interrupt the call. (You can temporarily unmute yourself by holding down the spacebar while you speak.)

    Listening is a critical part of a good business presentation, and it’s difficult to do that if you’re distracted by noises in your environment while on a call. Allowing that to happen doesn’t leave a particularly good impression with the other person on the call, either.

  5. Remember you’re on camera. When you’re not sitting directly across from someone, it’s very difficult for people to read your non-verbal cues. That’s because their view of you is usually limited to your head and shoulders. For that reason, it’s important that you are more deliberate with your gestures, and that you make them in front of the camera.
  6. On the flip side of that, people interacting over Zoom sometimes forget they’re in full view of others on the call. That means if you’re eating, looking off camera, or distracted by something else, your Zoom audience can see that.

    You’ll always make a good impression—on camera or in person—if you appear interested and engaged in the conversation. Set your camera so you’re centered on the screen, clear away distractions, and give the person or people on the call your undivided attention.

    And don’t forget to smile!

Making a Great First Impression Online

Head into every Zoom call like it’s an in-person meeting—because it is.

If you’re connecting with someone for the first time and it has to happen using a video conferencing tool like Zoom, you’ll make a good first impression by knowing how to leverage the technology. Talk into your webcam as though you’re looking your audience straight in the eye and deliver a friendly, effective business presentation straight from your computer.

Need more help improving your on-camera performance? We offer virtual training packages for individuals and teams. Contact us to learn more

Introverts: Working From Home Works

If someone had told us five years ago that 40 percent (or more) of the American labor force would be working from home in 2020, I don’t know that we would have believed them.

Sure, the number of people working partially or fully remote has been climbing for years now. But until Covid-19 hit, the upward trend was gradual.

Today, and perhaps for many more months still, we’re navigating a “new normal” while we run our businesses remotely, with team members connected solely through email, phone, and video conferencing.

For some, the change has been a hard adjustment; people who thrive in busy work environments find it difficult to stay focused at home, and they crave the human interaction they get from checking in at the office every day.

For others, having the option to sometimes work from home gives them the work-life balance they need and saves them from a daily commute five days a week.

In fact, according to a recent State of Remote Report by Buffer, 98 percent of people surveyed said they’d like to work remotely—at least some of the time—permanently.

That brings us to the group of people who’ve wholeheartedly embraced working from home: introverts.

Introverts Can Succeed in the Workplace

It’s estimated that introverts make up as much as 40 percent of the population, yet there’s still a common misconception that introverts are shy, withdrawn, and socially anxious people.

Compared to extroverts who are typically loud, outgoing, and enthusiastic, introverts may appear quiet, passive, and withdrawn.

What people may not realize, however, is introverts are just as outgoing and enthusiastic. What sets them apart from extroverts are the way they gain energy.

Introverts “recharge” by spending time alone; extroverts gain energy from social interaction. But when it comes to business, introverts are just as capable of succeeding in the workplace.

In fact, some would argue introverts are better business people because they listen more than they speak. And we all know how important listening is to effective communication.

So if you identify as an introvert who prefers to spend time in smaller groups, the transition to a largely digital world in the midst of a global pandemic works in your favor. You can succeed in the workplace just by working the way you’ve always wanted to.

This is where you shine. You excel in situations where you connect one-on-one or in smaller groups. You’re no longer competing to be heard over the extroverts; you feel more comfortable to speak up to share your ideas.

You may not be the best public speaker, but your listening skills and ability to ask good questions make up for it. That gives you an advantage, especially in sales and marketing, where listening is always better than talking.

Tips to Succeed in a Virtual World

Introverts, you’ve been preparing your entire life for this. Never before have we seen ourselves in a position where company meetings have been forced to take place over Zoom or Google Hangouts, and more communication has to happen over the phone or through email and text.

As someone who prefers these methods of communication, you’re in a position to show just how valuable having an introvert on the team can be.

Here are 3 ways introverts working from home can excel:

Stay connected. Now that you and your colleagues are no longer working in a shared space, you have to establish strong connections in other ways. Working from home means you put an effort into making sure you all know where you are on a project or task.

It’s a good idea to come up with a plan to communicate with your boss, manager, or others on your team daily, even if it’s just to check in or give an update on your progress. It could be as simple as a phone call or an email. Whatever method you choose, be consistent. Don’t call only when there are problems; set up a time regularly to ask or invite questions.

By setting up these connection points, you’ll build trust among your colleagues and your boss. The communication will also go a long way to eliminate mistakes and misunderstandings because you’re staying connected and setting a system in which questions can be asked in a timely manner.

Take Initiative. As impressive as technology is, there are still a lot of challenges associated with working remotely. One of the biggest is communicating effectively.

Here’s an opportunity for you to find ways for your team to communicate better. Or you could suggest virtual processes that can help the business operate more efficiently while everyone is separated.

As an introvert, you may not always be recognized as a leader, and that’s a shame. A research study conducted by Harvard Business Review actually showed that introverts in business are more effective leaders in complex and unpredictable settings. Has there been a more complex or unpredictable setting than Covid-19 in 2020?

Furthermore, the brain of an introverted person is wired to value productivity over recognition, which means you’re motivated by productivity rather than ambition. That’s beneficial to businesses struggling through the pandemic.

Be comfortable on camera. It’s not necessarily true that all introverts dislike public speaking. I’d wager the number of introverts who dislike talking on camera matches the number of all people who prefer not to do it.

However, video conferencing is now a commonplace substitute for in-person meetings, so if you’re an introvert working from home, you might as well learn how to do it well.

Not only that, but video marketing continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As a business owner who’s looking to expand or diversify your marketing, you have to get comfortable with being on camera.

Here’s what we recommend to get you started: Go through your message several times out loud until you’re comfortable with what you want to say. Then turn on the camera and do a practice run delivering your presentation. Do this before your actual presentation so you can play it back and see for yourself what you look and sound like.

For many people, the thought of being on camera is worrisome because they’re concerned with how they look—just like in a live presentation.

By recording yourself first, you can see exactly what your audience sees and—hopefully—you’ll realize your on-camera performance isn’t as bad as you think.

Every chance you have to talk to the camera will help alleviate the anxiety around doing it. And when the time comes to really deliver your presentation, you won’t feel so nervous.

In Business, Being an Introvert is Good

If you’re an introvert, working remotely has probably been a welcome change from reporting to an office every day, where the setting doesn’t match your personality.

Here’s your chance to demonstrate all the ways being introverted can serve your business and benefit its productivity. Until now, it may not have been obvious to the people you work with.

Introvert or not, we’re all social creatures who need human interaction to survive. Introverts just don’t need to interact with so many other people at once to boost their energy levels.

By putting a greater emphasis on one-to-one connections to brainstorm or have ad hoc discussions, you eliminate the noise that goes along with bigger group meetings that sometimes aren’t very productive. And that’s always good for business.

Authentic Communication in a Pandemic World

The challenge to be an effective communicator in our COVID-19 pandemic world is not as much about what you say but getting people to listen.

Isolation, distractions, and fluid circumstances make it hard for people to focus on one thing, let alone pay attention to you. Passive listening is more prevalent as video call participants check email and social media accounts during calls. Non-verbal cues that help us communicate and understand each other are obscure. It is hard to get feedback from a participant who turns off their video. Now we must frame our words more carefully and be more intentional about listening.

Even in person, communicating with other people is more complicated. Masks and social distancing make for awkward in-person interactions. When we can be present with others, making strong connections while standing six feet apart remains difficult. For some, not being able to hug a friend prompts negative internal emotions.

One thing that remains the same is our need for authentic human connection. For most people, isolation is challenging. Disruption of usual relational patterns tests the strength of friendships. Our people may not be available anymore.

If you ask me what most people crave above everything else, I will say that it is authentic relationships.

Authentic relationships require authentic communication. Authentic communicators engage in learning about themselves, others, and how to make meaningful connections that result in effective communication. The most effective communication happens when two or more people are authentic communicators.

Interact Truthfully with Others

Authentic communicators convey the truth about what they are thinking, feeling, choosing, or doing. They are excellent communicators and conversationalists. They are open to new ideas and seek to understand other people without feeling threaten or defensive. There is mutual respect without judgmental stereotypes. They are curious and take time to listen. Their words seek to inspire rather than control or belittle. Authentic communicators have an advantage over the manipulative and self-promotion games people play. Other authentic people will want to be around and converse with you.

How to Be an Authentic Communicator

You can take steps to become a more authentic communicator by doing three things.

Consider Your Level of Personal Authenticity

When you feel good about yourself, possess self-confidence, and determine what is important to you, communication gets more authentic. The need to impress others for selfish gain or overcome insecurities melt away. Authentic communicators hold healthy views about themselves and avoid falling for relational games other people play.

Think More About Others

Not everyone interprets communication the same way. Something might make sense to you and be meaningless to another person. Understanding how other people interpret information and emotion will provide clarifying insight into their personality. Taking time to understand their values uncovers what is meaningful to them. Together, this information provides insight into what motivates them.

Craft a Message That Will Connect

Your messages consist of content and delivery. Structure your words in ways that resonate with others. Address your listeners’ concerns the way they want to hear it. Speaking about what is meaningful to them will give them a reason to listen. Your delivery and other non-verbal expressions are crucial to ensure that others hear what you say. Your movement should support your message and draw others into your words. Making your message hard to listen to because it is poorly structured or delivered gives any audience an immediate reason to dismiss you.

Authenticity Requires Work on Your Part

Authentic people have healthy self-identities that do not require them to withhold information, hide their emotions, divert attention, or play meaningless relational games. Gaining and maintaining a healthy self-identity requires work each day; it is a personal growth process. Those with healthy self-identities do not need others to inform their view of themselves but find value and purpose from within that overflows into authentic relationships.

Everyone makes mistakes and needs to receive some grace. Perhaps some of us need a lot of forgiveness even when we do not deserve it. If we care about authentic connection and deep relationships, we must hold space for each other with a curious mind and open heart.

Authenticity is hard when others are quick to judge. While we need to protect ourselves from those who will harm us, we can risk being authentic to see if it finds a willing partner.

The Difference Between Authenticity and Transparency

Many people become uncomfortable when placed into situations requiring self-disclosure. People generally want to be known by others and know the person they interact with regularly. Challenges occur when others probe too quickly or deeply into sensitive topics or when a person engages in behavior that erodes trust.

Authentic communicators want to be accurate and forthcoming in all situations to reach every audience every time. Transparent communicators are more vulnerable and need to choose their audiences carefully. While transparency provides rich communication, it should be appropriate for the situation.

For many people, stepping into authenticity creates a sense of fear. Authenticity improves communication because it frees the speaker to say what is on their mind and heart. At the same time, the thought of being authentic may produce paralyzing fear. The audience’s unknown reaction can prompt feelings of inadequacy that can lead anyone to shrink from the challenge.

Fear can be healthy. Fear keeps us humble and can steer us away from bad situations. Treat your angst as warning signs about what you believe about yourself, your audience, and your message. Guard against allowing negative past experiences or lies you hold to prevent you from being an authentic communicator.

Changing Methods of Communication

Authentic communicators can adapt to any form of communication or audience type. Listeners will pay attention to effective, authentic communicators. Whether you are presenting live or online, facilitating a group discussion, providing instruction, contributing within a team, or engaging in a conversation, your ability to communicate authentically will prompt others to listen and move them to action.

Steve Tonkin is the author and trainer of Authentic Communicator. A one-day training event offered exclusively through Effective Presentations.

By now, most of us are used to carrying on with socializing, going to school, or going to work via video conferencing software. Whether you use Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, or other programs, you probably know a thing or two about how to have a successful virtual meeting.

But are your virtual meetings effective?

Here are 5 things you didn’t know you’ve been doing wrong on while meeting in a remote video platform.

  1. You have a busy or distracting background

    When speaking to someone in person, it can be annoying to watch your listener gazing around at things behind you or next to you. On Zoom, direct eye contact is somewhat taken away from us. As listeners or meeting participants, we often times use this to our advantage; but if you are ever speaking up during your meetings, the lack of eye contact does you no favors. You have no idea if your listeners are watching you, or staring at your pile of laundry on the floor behind you!

    The easiest way to ensure your background is free of distraction is to turn on your camera before you begin your meeting, and check to see if the image is something you would be okay with showing your coworkers in-person. Even though it’s virtual, these webcam meetings are essentially invitations in your home for the entire team. Make sure your environment is presentable!

    The ideal video background is mostly plain, has something pleasing to look at, and does not include a bright window (see #4, Lighting). Try sitting in front of a piece of artwork or a decorated bookshelf. A plain wall will also do just fine.

  2. Your camera is in a poor location

    We have all (unfortunately) opened up our front-facing cameras on our smart phones while holding it far below our face—not a great angle! Your webcam should be in a spot that is at least eye level or higher when on a conferencing call. This will ensure that you are looking upwards toward your colleagues, not down on them.

    Do you have more than one monitor? Is your webcam an internal lens, or an external device? Where you place your camera versus your screen with everyone’s face makes a huge difference in connectivity—and we’re not talking internet service. Think about it—if you are looking at someone’s face on your left monitor, but your webcam is on top of your right monitor, everyone who sees you will just be getting a side profile of your face. To solve this, simply move your Zoom/Teams/Meet window over to the monitor screen that has the webcam at the top. This will give the illusion of eye contact, which can improve even more by looking straight into your webcam when speaking.

    Speaking of cameras, try your best to keep yours on! We know we would all like to stay anonymous and in our pajamas but try dressing for success (from the waist up…) and being present with your cohorts by showing your face. I’m sure you would like to see theirs, too!

  3. Low-quality equipment

    There is quite possibly nothing worse than not being able to hear someone when they are sharing important information. Is that happening to you when it’s your turn to speak? Most video conferencing tools use your laptop of desktop’s default microphone to pick up your voice—a tiny hole in your screen that might not be anywhere near your mouth. Modern technology has made it easier for devices to pick up our voices, but if Zoom is becoming a big part of your work life, you may want to invest in a professional microphone. There are small, inexpensive versions that you can use as a headset, and there are more pricey versions that sit on your desk. It’s up to you to choose what your investment should look like. Bottom line, how you sound is just as important as how you look; it’s even more important if you are not turning your camera on!

  4. Bad lighting in your recording area

    Unless you’re continuously making usable recordings or facilitating important trainings, there’s no need to make your video conferencing session look like a professional photoshoot. However, there is also no need for your face to be so out of contrast that your listeners can’t read your lips when you talk. We may decide that a window is the most non-distracting background we can find, but we would be wrong! The light coming in from a window behind you creates a contrasted outline around your head and face, making it hard to see you on screen. Try closing the shades to block out the extra light or turn your setup around so that you are facing the window, and the light comes in from behind your computer. Imagine the great image when your face lights up with the natural light of the window in front of you!

    Another idea to increase your lighting is to invest in a light-diffusing lamp that you can place, yet again, behind your computer or webcam; the light should always come from behind and above your camera. You may simply turn on two desk lamps that you already own! Turn on your camera to test out your options before your next meeting.

  5. There’s too much background noise

    Finally, let’s talk about what’s going on quite literally behind the scenes. Perhaps the best and the hardest part of working from home is that we can remain close with our families and/or roommates. However, not everyone is used to going to work with you! Their lives must carry on, as does their noise. When you get ready for a web conference, are you in the room alone? Is there a possibility for interruption? Just because a possible distraction in your home office may not show up on screen visually, it could show up audibly very easily (especially if you’ve invested in a microphone). Don’t blame this on the others around you—take it into your own hands and find a private space to work. If that’s not as easily accessible, practice turning your microphone off or muting yourself when you aren’t expected to respond or present.

    These 5 mistakes are tough habits to break, but if you practice each time you log on, you will be the most professional and effective video conference participant there ever was!

The Value of Storytelling

Research has shown that messages delivered through a story can be as much as 22 times more memorable than facts alone. That’s because wrapping facts and figures in a story makes the listener hear your message in a more meaningful way.

When you use storytelling in your business presentations, you tap into the natural way humans communicate. We’re inclined to act on messages that appeal to our emotions: fear, anger, sadness, frustration, and joy. Delivering statistics on their own doesn’t elicit any emotional responses. Tying those statistics to something that matters to your listener does.

The fact that storytelling has been around since humans first walked the earth is proof that storytelling is important. Even before the invention of any alphabet, humans have been verbally telling stories or using images to tell them. It’s how we relate to each other and the world around us.

Why is Storytelling Important?

Research has shown stories persuade others and shape how they see you. Using storytelling in your business is the single greatest tool you have to win over others.

A well-told story can move people to take action or even further your career. With one story, your audience can tell what you value, the customs you engage in, and how knowledgeable you are on a subject.

The value of storytelling is immeasurable when you consider how far it goes to show how passionate you are about a topic and how genuine you are.

All of this feeds into what your audience is really after: something meaningful to them.

When you build a connection with your listeners through storytelling, they’re willing to accept the facts you present because they see how those facts play out in relatable scenarios. They see how and why it matters to them.

There’s an Anecdote in Your Pocket

Stories are all around us. But the best stories are the ones from within us.

Using a personal anecdote is a clever and effective way to use storytelling in your business presentations. An anecdote is a short story with a point about a real person or event that you can use to entertain or to launch into something deeper.

Like any great story, your anecdote has to be relevant to your topic. For example, you wouldn’t step on stage and start talking about your latest visit to the doctor unless there was something about the visit that related to your presentation.

You would, however, use an anecdote to introduce a thought, concept, or fact. This could mean talking about a time you struggled and persevered, or talking about a time you tried and failed. Audiences love to hear stories they can relate to, and who among us hasn’t tried and failed at one time or another?

The beautiful thing about anecdotes is that they pop up all the time, everywhere you go. Think back to the last time you ventured out with your kids or had a funny mishap at work.

Your entire day is made up of anecdotes and stories. You just have to figure out how you can use them in your presentations to bring your message to life.

The Stories That Matter

Christopher Booker, the author of “The 7 Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories,” says a story will always fall into one of seven storylines:

What’s important for you to remember is that the people in your audience are all going through one of these plot types as they sit and listen to you. So not only is storytelling important; so is having more than one story you can tell.

Ideally, you’ll have a story that fits each plot type so you can pick and choose which one to tell depending on the audience and the situation.

What do these stories look like? Here are some examples:

Overcoming the Monster – The hero must defeat the villain to restore balance. In movies, this is the plot for “Jurassic Park.” In real life, the “monster” can be illness, addiction, or anything else that you had to defeat.

Rags to Riches – The underdog comes out on top after their natural talents shine through. In movies, this is the plot for “Annie.” In real life, you may be the “underdog” who started with nothing and worked hard to become a well-respected expert in your field.

The Quest – The hero must defeat evil (sometimes more than one) despite the odds, but ultimately wins. In movies, this is the plot for “Apocalypse Now.” In real life, your experience as an entrepreneur is a quest story all of itself.

Voyage and Return – An average person is thrown into a strange world from which they must return. In movies, this is the plot for “Cast Away.” In real life, you can use the voyage and return story to demonstrate how you can help your clients get something under control or return to normal after an upheaval.

Comedy – The main character must resolve some form of confusion that resulted in misadventure so they can move ahead. In movies, this is the plot for “Groundhog Day.” In real life, the “confusion” could simply be a series of bad decisions that led to a conundrum that required someone else’s intervention.

Tragedy – A character experiences something painful and harrowing. In movies, this plot is typically coupled with another (like rebirth). We see it in movies such as “Titanic.” In real life, everyone has a tragic story, whether it’s a story of divorce, an accident, or death.

Rebirth – The main character’s fate seems unavoidable until a miraculous series of events turns things around. In movies, this is the plot for the “Sound of Music.” In real life, rebirth can come after realizing how your behavior threatened something in your life and how you needed to be pushed to make a change.

You Tell Stories Everyday

You tell stories all day, every day. You tell them to family. You tell them to friends. You tell them to your children. And they tell them to you.

The conversations you have with other people all make great stories for you to gather and then use to improve the way you use storytelling in your business presentations. They provide a way to humanize data and make your message more relatable to your audience.

More importantly, your stories are a way to make your message more memorable than simply reciting facts and figures.

By placing them in the context of stories and anecdotes that entertain and engage your audience, you’re ensuring your listeners will retain the information you provide.

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Dear friends and colleagues,

Greetings! I bring you sincere well-wishes during …this. In the absence of better or un-borrowed words to name what we’re in, I’ll just leave it at that. I look forward to connecting on this insight:

Has the way we tell our COVID stories become as much the focus as the story itself?

What is the Story?

The global gravity of our current situation is hard to wrap our minds around and reflect back, and we’re doing both at the same time. We’re telling the story we’re IN. Social media posts multiply mirroring the very virus that spurred them. I find it all hard to track. I’m curious to know your thoughts.

Is this thing on?

Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote, “the medium is the message.” Presently, it appears the virtual medium is the message as we take our personal and professional work online. There’s a frustrating, and often comical, learning curve that goes along with this medium and also an inherent orthodox: what we typically try to regulate for ourselves and our kids(too much screen time!) is the very medium we’re relegated to for school, work and connecting! How has this been for you?

How does it look, sound and feel?

As a speech coach, I naturally view my work through the lens of effective communication. One of my primary questions for clients is, ‘how do you look, sound and feel?’ I wonder the same thing now as we unwittingly participate in our own global social experiment, in one mass pivot.

I notice the following:

Trends in language, semantics, and social discourse. Even with a bank of buzzwords to choose from like unprecedented, unchartered, and uncertain, it’s hard to know what to say.

Shifts in vocal tone. For some, it’s a softer, more tender speaking tone; for others, it’s shriller and more anxious.

Changes in body language. At first, on walks around the neighborhood, I noticed more sustained eye contact, nods and pleasantries. Now, with masks, I notice more heads down, eyes averted, and shoulders hunched.

What have you noticed with others’ look, sound and feel and how have these shifts impacted your interactions? Whatever you’ve noticed and wherever you are on the spectrum of expression right now, you get to be there—we all do. We’re in crisis and we’re reacting. We would do well to remember that a little grace goes a long way.

How do I achieve mindful communication?

We also would do well to remember that sensitive times reflect – and call for – sensitive language and behavior. How do we achieve this with intentionality? This question was the impetus behind the Care-ful Communication program I developed, which leads individuals through a series of assessment questions by breaking communication down into the following areas:

Verbal communication – how do you sound?

What is your vocal pitch and rate of speech? What reactions do you notice from people you speak to? On a virtual call, are you shouting or mumbling? Studies show, your voice alone contributes to over 1/3 of the meaning in your message. On a client call do you sound panicked, defeated, despondent, or are you perhaps disproportionately peppy and upbeat? Our senses are heightened right now – how you sound tells us who you are.

Non-verbal communication – how do you look and come across visually?

How’s your posture? Does your outward expression reflect your inside feelings? Likely so, but what is the impact? Studies also find that 55 percent of our overall message comes just from our non-verbals. If people can’t see your mouth or your smile because it’s covered by a mask, they’ll likely feel disconnected. How can you let yourself be seen and heard non-verbally, with a hearty hello, wave or a friendly gesture?

Interpersonal communication – how are you bridging and connecting during this time of separation? When we’re worlds apart, our words and actions bring us together. How are you ‘holding space’ for others by asking how they are? Can you mirror others’ sentiments by reflecting back to them what they express to you without interjecting your own sentiments?

Messaging and structure – the world is reading, what are your words?

What do you have to say and how are you saying it? What’s your written tone? For help with structure, we recommend instituting the three P’s: position, plan and pledge. What is your position in this current situation? Communicate it clearly and directly. Where are you in it all? Put people ‘on the map.’ Next, what is your plan? What steps have you taken to respond to this situation? What decisions need to be made? What direction have you given to that end? Finally, what is your pledge– your lasting promise, your resounding sentiment? What is the learning of this time? And what is your pledge of support – who are you encouraging and holding up?

For more information on this CARE-ful Communication program or our other virtual offerings, please reach out to Effective Presentations. We know this time is difficult and delicate, we’re navigating it ourselves. But our purpose is your process, let us know how we can help.

Yours compassionately and creatively during…. this time, \

Megan Heffernan

Business Communication Relies on Active Listening

Stephen R. Covey said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Everyone has an opinion and something to say, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem is when people spend too much time responding and not enough time listening.

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The Importance of First Impressions

You’ve probably heard the saying “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” and it’s certainly true when it comes to public speaking.

When you’re building your brand or contributing to your business, every interaction with a new person is the starting point to a world of opportunity. That means the first impression you give can make or break your career.

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The Power of The Elevator Pitch

Everyone’s heard of them, and maybe you know you need one, but you still haven’t taken the time to create the perfect elevator pitch.

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Keep Your Interview Skills Sharp

Research shows that as much as 92% of the population fears at least one aspect of the interview process.

From “trick” questions to incomplete answers of communication interview questions, you’ve probably gone through an interview or two that could have ended better if everyone was on the same page.

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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

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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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?

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. (more…)

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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Align Your Types of Communication

Any time you engage with another person, there are two types of communication at play: your voice, which is sending a verbal message, and your body language, which is conveying the majority of information through your physical behavior.

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Speak From The Heart, Right From the Beginning

You know that the first few minutes of your talk are crucial. It’s in this small window of time that you’ll either captivate your audience and convince them to keep listening, or lose their attention and struggle throughout your presentation to regain it.

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Staying in Touch Through Phone Meetings

As your business grows and your client base expands, you’re probably finding it challenging to meet with everyone face-to-face.

How do you maintain the same level of intimacy and customer service in a world that’s becoming increasingly virtual?

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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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Performance Anxiety Got Your Tongue?

Being able to speak with confidence in front of the camera and set aside your performance anxiety isn’t something that comes naturally to most people. Even the most experienced speakers can feel nervous in front of the camera.

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A Great Sales Pitch Starts with Effective Communication

A good sales pitch can be used almost anywhere: in business presentations, at conferences and networking events, on the telephone, or even over coffee with a friend. That’s because a strong sales pitch isn’t really about making a sale for you; it’s about you solving a problem for someone else.

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Public Speaking Anxiety Isn’t The Same for Everyone

If you had to paint a picture of your fear of public speaking, what would it look like? A troll? An eerie shadow? A dark cloud hovering over you standing in an otherwise sunny location?

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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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Presentation Disasters Happen All The Time

There’s an old saying that goes: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Translation: I don’t care who you are or how much planning you’ve put into something, stuff goes wrong. That goes for presentations, too. Presentation disasters happen every day.

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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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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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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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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.

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Your Presentations Need More Vocal Expression

A lot of presentations are boring, aren’t they? I know I’ve sat through my fair share of really, REALLY bad presentations. The ones where the speaker droned on far too long, his voice so monotone and flat that I had a hard time staying awake, much less hold interest in what was being said.

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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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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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Memorizing Speeches is a Big No-No

When we emphasize the importance of practicing to attendees of our Presentation Skills Training workshops, we hear the same question come up over and over: “What’s the best way to memorize my speech?”  And our answer never changes: “You don’t.”

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Public Speaking Mistakes Happen to Everyone

Tell me if this rings a bell: You’re going along, giving a great speech or presentation, when all of a sudden you draw a complete blank. Your train of thought has derailed. It’s about to crash and burn and take your presentation with it.

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Mind Mapping Works for Presentations

When it comes to putting together a great presentation, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out how you’re going to share all of the information you want your audience to have, and in what order you’re going to deliver it.

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Make Sales Presentations Your Specialty

Sales presentations take on many shapes and forms. They can be small and casual between a single salesperson and a customer, or they can be formal and elaborate, delivered by sales teams to corporate executives. Regardless of their size, they all share the same end goal: to make the sale.

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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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Funny Presentations: They’re the Ones You Remember

One of the most powerful communication tools you can use to deliver your message is humor. It’s what makes you real. And when it’s used appropriately, it can be one of the most effective ways to make your presentation memorable.

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Public Speaking With Confidence

What is it about public speaking that robs people of their confidence? They stand up in front of a group and all of a sudden their shoulders drop, they fidget, and it’s blatantly obvious to everyone that they don’t want to be there.

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Answering Audiences Questions Appropriately

You've crafted an excellent presentation: you've practiced the talk, rehearsed your presentation, and even managed to come up with a few great jokes. But have you thought about the questions your audience may have for you when you're finished?

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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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Effective Use of Visual Aids

Any presentation stands to benefit from well-placed, effective visual aids. By giving your audience something to look at, you can help them understand difficult concepts, reinforce key points, and keep them focused on your presentation.

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We talk a lot about a fear of public speaking, and there’s good reason for that: A significant number of the people we work with have glossophobia. In fact, the majority of Americans—anywhere from 75 to 95 percent—admit to being afraid of speaking in public. These are real fear of public speaking facts!

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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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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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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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Practice, Practice, Practice

When was the last time you practiced on your elevator speech? What happened the last time you actually put it to use?

If you’re staring blankly at the screen right now, wondering what an elevator speech is and why in the world you would ever possibly need one, here’s a crash course.

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When we talk about effective presentation skills, it’s the ‘speaking’ part that comes to mind first. And it only makes sense: it’s not much of a presentation if you don’t say anything! But did you know that aside from your voice, it’s your eyes that are your most powerful communication tool?

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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Saturday, February 04, 2012 – 1:27 pm
 

Effective Presentations, Introducing New Video Production Company

 

February 4 — Already one of the nation’s premier providers of public speaking skills training and motivational keynote speakers, Effective Presentations of Lakewood, Colorado is preparing to expand its impressive line of products and services.

The main focus of Effective Presentations growth will be the creation of a new division of the company, Xtreme Media, which will provide video production services and content solutions for companies. From day one, the new outfit’s staff of video production experts will help small businesses and large corporations alike create promotional videos, such as commercials and video blogs. Effective Presentations will be moving to a larger space to accommodate its expanded operations.

Founded by 25-year industry veteran Mike Fruciano, Effective Presentations has already changed the lives of thousands of individuals — on both personal and professional levels.

During Effective Presentations relatively-short run, the company has amassed a client list that includes State Farm, Wells Fargo, Pepsi and Starz. Additionally, its roster of professional speakers reads likes a who’s who of Denver Broncos Alumni history – Effective Presentations books top notch speakers for keynote speeches and personal appearances.

Xtreme Media is currently looking for video production professionals to join its team of highly-skilled videographers. For more information of Effective Presentations or its new video production arm, Call toll-free at 800-403-6598.

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!

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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