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Archive for ‘Annoying Public Speaking Habits’

It’s You or The PowerPoint

By Tom Nixon

Recently I got the chance to see a video of Elaine, the vice-president of the company I was beginning to work with, present to a room of prospective clients. Slide after slide went by, each filled with 5-10 bullets. Elaine read the full text on every one to her audience. I am sure those possible clients sitting in that room were neither impressed with Elaine nor with her message about her company.

Too much (bad) PowerPoint — not enough Elaine.

It is easy to create a mediocre presentation in PowerPoint. Simply take …

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Strategies for Improving Physical Movements During Presentations

by Natalie Gallagher

One of the best scenes from an otherwise mediocre movie was when Will Farrell’s character in “Talladega Nights” couldn’t figure out what to do with his hands while he was speaking in front of a large crowd. While he spoke, his arms slowly kept rising next to him, as if possessed by their own will. The humor stems from the commonality of this issue. All presenters have wondered at one time or another, “What on earth do I do with my hands?” The uncertainty often leads to awkward, distracting, …

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“What do I do with these hands?” Smart Tips for Using Effective Gestures in Your Presentations

by Claudia W. Brogan

Recently, I was helping a woman improve her presentation skills—in particular, hand gestures. Even though it’s good to add hand gestures to speeches, not all gesture-additions are created equal. Over-gesturing can be a problem, as can under-gesturing. Adopting hand motions from other speakers which don’t naturally suit you make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious and will certainly be distracting to your listeners. Then the gestures are self-defeating.

As noted in a recent TED-talk research project, some intriguing techniques were yielded. This observational study at the Science of People researched …

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Chop, Chop: Tips for Ruthless Speech Editing

By Natalie Gallagher

Dear Fellow Speakers,

It’s time for some tough love about how we spend our time on the stage. Too often we get so wrapped up in thinking we are saying the most important thing ever, that we abuse the time allotted and end up boring our audience; or worse, we speak for so long that they become agitated and even feel trapped.

Consider this: The worst speech I ever had the displeasure of being in the audience for was given by an experienced, vibrant, energetic speaker. She was a leader in …

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3 Common Mistakes of Technical Presenters

By Bob Goodyear

Presentations are given for all kinds of reasons and technical subjects are no exception. While working with technical presenters from different fields, I encounter various problems they face when presenting a technical topic. Here are 3 of the most common mistakes I see.

“Let me tell you everything I know about this”

Many times in technical situations, the presenters are experts in the subject being discussed. In fact, they are so knowledgeable that they want to share everything they know. There is no detail left unexplained. The problem is that …

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If You Show It, They Will (Try to) Read It

By Tom Nixon

Watching a presentation lately I was reminded of a principle that is fundamental to how audiences experience a presentation. The presenter projected an image of an historical plaque. The text on the plaque was only slightly relevant to the subject. I, and I assume most members of the audience, read the first line or two and then gave up. It was too much and it really didn’t add to any deeper understanding of the subject matter.

The principle: If you put text on the screen, any text, in …

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3 Reasons to Perfect Your Pause

by Natalie Gallagher

When we are scared, anxious, or excessively nervous, our body kicks into fight-or-flight mode, a natural survival instinct.

Because public speaking can be a terrifying experience for many, the brain can trigger the “flight” response, and cause us to speak as quickly as possible in order to get off the stage as soon as possible. For me, speaking incredibly fast was one of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome to improve my speaking. On stage, my nerves combined with excitement over my topic made it sound like …

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The Wonders of Reduction: Creating a Pithy Speech Just Like a Cook Concentrates the Sauce

by Claudia Brogan

One of the perpetual quests of good speakers is to create and deliver a pithy speech that “packs a lot of punch” without taking extra time. A speech that makes its points clearly and engagingly without becoming redundant.

Ironically, the best speeches can sometimes be the shortest ones. Trimmed and culled. Just like the cooking practice that is called “boiling something down to its essence,” an effective speech takes its ingredients and cooks them together until they are concentrated, well-combined and full of zest. When a cook …

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Information vs. Presentation Decks

 

by Bob Goodyear

Several years ago, I was asked to do a technical sales presentation for a Fortune 100 company that could lead to a very large software contract.  All of the technical decision makers for the company would be in the audience as well as the CIO.  This was a very important meeting for the sales team and I was being asked to come in as an expert to close the technical end of the sale.

As I prepared for the event, the lead sales executive …

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Beware the Laser Pointer

by Bob Goodyear

“I feel like a dog.”

Have you ever watched a dog, maybe YOUR dog, chase that wiggly red dot of light from a laser pointer? Isn’t that great fun? Have you ever wondered what the dog is thinking after a while when it can’t ever catch the dot? I think I may have an idea about how a dog might feel after attending a technical presentation given by a product manager.

The presenter had a wireless presentation remote. It’s a best practice that presenters should have a …

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