Archive for the ‘Conferences & Workshops’ Category

Is Your Presentation Ready for VC’s?

May 5, 2009

If you’re an entrepreneur with that million dollar presentation ready to go, you have three days left to apply for one of the 30 slots at the 4th Annual Launch: Silicon Valley in front of the venture capital community.

Launch: Silicon Valley 2009 is designed to uncover and showcase products and services from some of the newest startups in information technology, mobility, security, digital media, next generation internet, life sciences and clean energy.

Startups interested in presenting their products at the June 9th event at Microsoft’s Mountain View, Calif. campus should send an executive summary of no more than 2 pages to by the deadline of May 8.

Companies with the top 30 proposals will be invited to leverage Launch: Silicon Valley 2009 as the springboard to launch their product or service, and to network with the audience of Silicon Valley’s top movers and shakers at the Pre-L:SV Event Party on June 8, as well as at the following day’s Launch event.

If you get selected to present, you may want to read How to Be a Demo God, a blog item a few years back by Guy Kawasaki, managing director of VC firm Garage Technology Ventures, and a co-creator of Launch: Silicon Valley.

In the blog item, Kawasaki outlines the top 11 things you need to do in order to be a Demo God.

Read the rest of: Is Your Presentation Ready for VC’s? »

Preparing Your PowerPoint Presentation as a Leave-Behind

March 28, 2009

When presenters learn the importance of using PowerPoint only as a visual complement to their verbal presentation, they are often perplexed on what to leave behind for attendees to share with coworkers who were absent. Often visual slides don’t tell the whole story without the presenter’s narration.

Rick Altman, author of Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck, suggests preparing two presentations. But it’s not quite twice-as-much-work as it may sound.

“The one you leave behind is a printout from the Notes portion of PowerPoint,” Altman said, during a recent Presentation Camp workshop at the San Francisco office of “There’s no need to go into [MS] Word to create the document. You do it straight in PowerPoint.”

This is a very handy trick that many PowerPoint users don’t know.

In PowerPoint, click on the View menu, then click “Notes Master.” This will create two placeholders. The top one is a reduced visual of your PowerPoint slide. The bottom will be your notes, either describing the slide, or the narration of your speech that goes with that particular slide.

That’s what you print out as a leave behind.
Side note: I have yet to read Altman’s book, Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck: And how you can make them better (Harvest Books, 2007), but I like the title of Chapter 6: Does PowerPoint Make You Stupid?

Read the rest of: Preparing Your PowerPoint Presentation as a Leave-Behind »

How to Write Great Speech Openers

How to Write Great Speech Openers

March 22, 2009

All public speakers should learn to grab their audiences’ attention within the first 30 seconds. One of the best ways to do that is to appeal to their emotions.

And you do this by building anticipation, said Carmen Taran, managing partner of Rexi Media, during a Presentation Camp workshop at the San Francisco office yesterday.

“We love to anticipate the future,” Taran said, as she listed examples, such as things that are “new” and events that are full of “uncertainty.” As she echoed that word uncertainty, Taran flashed up a presentation slide of a tennis ball teetering on a net.

It’s hard to imagine a more effective visual.

She went on to discuss things to avoid in introductions. Things that can kill a speech opener include presenting a slide of bullet points (i.e. – agenda), lack of enthusiasm, showing a lack of preparation, and of course, self-indulgence.

“It’s much better to make (the opener) about your audience, rather than about you,” she said. “Get your audience involved early.”

Following an engaging 30 second opener, an audience’s attention will start to drift, unless the speaker shifts gears, or adds “variability,” Taran said. That’s because the audience will be craving closure, unless the story takes a turn. This closure (in psychology) is known as the Zeigarnik Effect.
BTW: Taran is not only an engaging presentation coach and a former United Nations interpreter, but she is also a Phd candidate in psychology, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Read the rest of: How to Write Great Speech Openers »

The Creation Myth – Branding Your Business

March 1, 2009

When you hear the Hewlett-Packard Story, the image that often comes to mind is that of a Palo Alto garage. When people think of the eBay Story, they think of the founder’s fiancée trading pez over the Internet (even though eBay acknowledged years later that that story was fictionalized).

Most well-branded companies have a creation myth, says Terry Gault, VP and managing partner of communications consulting firm The Henderson Group, based in San Francisco.

The Creation Myth was the title of a highly interactive workshop Gault led yesterday at Presentation Camp at Stanford University. He defined the Creation Myth as a unique quality of a company or person.

To illustrate this, Gault told two stories, or “myths” of the creation of two separate companies. One was how David Henderson decided to leave a lucrative law practice and take a chance on launching a communications consulting business, which eventually landed Oracle as a client.

The other story was about the launch of Cirque du Soleil, the wildly successful circus show. After a successful launch in Canada, bankrolled by the Quebec government, the founders took the show to L.A., with only enough money to fly the crew there. If it had failed, they were stuck. However, it not only succeeded, Cirque du Soleil has launched an unprecedented 15 spin-off shows without a single failure.

While the story behind corporate Creation Myths may be at least partially true to some extent, if not completely fabricated, they all have several elements in common.
1. Memorable characters: Characters need names, because audiences have a hard time rooting for a nameless protagonist.
2. Vulnerability: the protagonist must show a vulnerable side, because it makes your character human, and your audience can relate to that.
3. High stakes: for a story to be truly compelling, stakes have to be very high. For example, if Cirque du Soleil failed in L.A., then what?
4. Details: Providing details that make it easier for your audience to visualize the story is key. In fact, details are far more powerful than adjectives.
5. Be Selective in Details: How do you know what details to put in and what details to leave out? The answer: If the details don’t enhance the scene or contribute to the myth, they should be left out.
6. Dialogue: In describing a scene, give the characters first-person dialogue. Instead of saying, he was panicking, demonstrate it with visual details. His hand shook as he held the phone. Sweat poured down his face.

Read the rest of: The Creation Myth – Branding Your Business »

Presentation Camp to Launch This Saturday

February 22, 2009

The first of a series of Presentation Camps kicks off this Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif. It’s an ad-hoc gathering of people passionate about presentations, created and hosted by Presentation Camp is a participatory conference, where those who plan to attend are free to submit their own ideas for a workshop to the organizers, then show up and share their best practices with their fellow attendees. In the BarCamp fashion, all who attend, are invited to host a session.

Proposed sessions so far include:

  • Storytelling to the Power of X & Y, by Scott Schwertly, owner of Ethos 3 Communications
  • The Lessig Method of Presentation
  • Presenting with a Back Channel
  • PowerPoint Slide Designs
  • Time: Camp will run from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm, Saturday, Feb. 28. The agenda will be decided between 9:30 – 10 a.m. that day.
    Location: Stanford University, Cordura Hall 100
    Fee: Tickets are $10. You can register through TicketLeap.

    Future Camps: Presentation Camp San Francisco is slated for March 21. Others are being planned for Seattle, New York, Washington DC, London and Kansas City.

    Read the rest of: Presentation Camp to Launch This Saturday »

    4 Conferences to See Great Speeches in 2009

    December 29, 2008

    1. In February, the annual TED Conference turns a quarter of a century old, and will be celebrating its 25th in its new digs in Long Beach, Calif. TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) has apparently outgrown the Monterey Convention Center – even though the conference remains by invitation-only, and the world’s mover’s and shakers hope each year they get an invite. This year’s conference will be held Feb. 3-7. Many of its best speeches can be found at

    TED’s mission is “to spread ideas that change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world.” Those who are asked to speak are challenged to give “the talk of his/her life” in 18 minutes.

    In past posts, I’ve written about some that I have found most fascinating, such as those by storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy, former eBay president Jeff Skoll and Comedian Julia Sweeney. But it’s hard to keep up, because the conference organizers pull from their archives and post (not so) new ones online nearly every week. Well, they speeches are new to the public anyway.

    2. Ignite Portland: If you had five minutes on stage, what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically rotated after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers. Ignite Portland 5 will be held on Feb. 19, 2009.

    3. In August, ten Toastmaster International contestants from different parts of the world will compete for the title of World Champion of Public Speaking after surviving a six-month long process of six elimination rounds. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has grown to become a world leader in helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit organization has nearly 235,000 members in 11,700 local clubs in 92 countries, offering a proven way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills on a monthly, bi-monthly or evenly weekly basis.

    This year’s four-day convention will be held from Aug. 12-15, in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

    4. In October, Pop!Tech brings together 500 visionary thinkers in the sciences, technology, business, design, the arts, education, government and culture. It’s a three-day summit held in Camden, Maine. Famous musical conductor and renowned keynote speaker Benjamin Zander’s speech on the Art of Possibility from last year is very interesting. You can watch it here on Pop!Tech’s site or below.

    Read the rest of: 4 Conferences to See Great Speeches in 2009 »

    San Francisco Public Speaking Workshop

    San Francisco Public Speaking Workshop

    May 31, 2008

    Presentation coach and speechwriter John Harrison will be leading an all-day workshop aimed at improving your presentation skills on Saturday, June 7 in San Francisco. It’s a great workshop, which I have attended in the past, which focuses on how to build a stronger connection with your listeners.

    John will lead exercises that help you address your fear issues and look more commanding as a speaker as well as learn how to command your space and use pauses to build presence.

    The 7-hour workshop cost $150 and will be from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Fort Mason Center. Directions are here. To register, contact John Harrison at or contact him through his site.

    Read the rest of: San Francisco Public Speaking Workshop »

    Giving the Speech of Your Life

    Giving the Speech of Your Life

    February 26, 2008

    Some of the world’s most fascinating thinkers and greatest visionaries will be descending on Monterey, Calif., tomorrow to give the “speech of their lives” on social challenges facing the world at the annual Ted Conference.

    TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader, with the mission “to spread ideas that change attitudes, lives, and ultimately the world.”

    Its speakers over the years have been the Who’s Who on the planet: From Bill Gates to Al Gore to Sergey Brin. But the real star speakers have been the unexpected, like Li Lu – the key organizer of the Tiananmen Square protest 1989. Or Patrick Awuah, a native of the African country of Ghana, who left his homeland as a teenager to attend college in the U.S., work at Microsoft for a decade, then return home to co-found a liberal arts college aimed at educating Africa’s next generation of leaders.

    If you haven’t heard of the conference, it’s not surprising, because it’s always been by invitation-only and cost $4k. But last year, it relaunched its Web site – posting the best Ted Talks over the years.

    It’s run by the Sapling Foundation, run by Chris Anderson, the founder and former publisher of Business 2.0 magazine. The foundation acquired the conference from its retiring founder Richard Saul Wurman. He gave an emotional talk at the 2002 TED conference regarding what inspired him to do so.

    Read the rest of: Giving the Speech of Your Life »

    Take Your Speechwriting to the Next Level

    Take Your Speechwriting to the Next Level

    February 13, 2008

    SpeakerPalooza, the National Speakers Association’s four-day Winter “Festival,” kicks off tomorrow in San Francisco. Speakers include Chip Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Made to Stick; John Miller, author of the best-selling books QBQ! The Question Behind the Question and Flipping The Switch; Steve Spangler, a master at turning ordinary moments into unforgettable experiences. The conference will be at the San Francisco Airport Mariott.

    Conference registration opens at 8 a.m. on Thursday, with workshops running throughout the day. Miller’s keynote will be at 6 p.m. Thursday. Chip Heath’s closing keynote will be Sunday at 10 a.m. For a full schedule, go to the NSA Web site.

    Read the rest of: Take Your Speechwriting to the Next Level »