Archive for the ‘Delivery Tips’ Category

Making Your Presentation Change Behavior

Making Your Presentation Change Behavior

The purpose of any persuasive speech or presentation is to encourage the changing of behavior. But even some of the most persuasive presentations, loaded with analytical data, fail to motivate the audience to act.

That’s because the audience fails to emotionally connect with the message, even though they may agree with it.

That’s part of the premise behind a new book called Switch: How to Change Things, When Change is Hard, by Chip and Dan Heath, the brother duo that produced the 2007 beststeller Made to Stick.

In order for people to not only want to change, but also be motivated to do so, the authors say you need to appeal to two types of personalities: the Elephant (people’s emotional side) and the Rider (the rational side).

The authors acknowledge this is difficult, because the Elephant often overpowers the Rider. When you fail to stick to a diet or push the snooze button, that’s your elephant overpowering your rider, they note.

To change behavior, you’ve got to direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant and shape the Path. If you reach your audience’s Rider, but not their Elephant, they will have direction without motivation.

How do you develop a presentation packed with the proper emotional/rational combination?

Some people think the persuasive presentations is filled with analytical data, with a formula like:


But that formula will only work for small changes, the authors note. For big changes, however, the Heath brothers, citing a study called the “The Heart of Change,” say the formula is:


To illustrate this, the authors describe Jon Stegner’s dilemma in the Heart of Change study. He was tasked to correct the poor purchasing habits of a large manufacturer. He discovered, in one example, all the departments were buying work gloves from many different distributors at a wide range of costs: $5 – $17. The no-brainer solution would be for all departments to buy the same $5 gloves.

But how do you motivate all the people in charge of purchasing to care enough to do so?

The ANALYZE > THINK > CHANGE approach would be for someone to produce a spreadsheet showing all 424 gloves and their costs.

But the SEE > FEEL > CHANGE approach would be to do what Stenger did. He collected the 424 different types of gloves and tagged them with the price tag. Then the gloves were gathered up, brought to the boardroom and dumped on the conference table. Stegner invited all the division presidents to come visit the Glove Shrine.

That’s what the Heath brothers call making “a gut-level emotional connection.”

In your next presentation, ask yourself: Am I making a gut-level emotional connection with the audience?

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Steve Jobs’ Presentation Secrets

Steve Jobs’ Presentation Secrets

November 3, 2009

Whenever you hear someone describe Apple CEO Steve Jobs, they often use words like “charismatic,” “showmanship” “electrifying presenter.” His presentations look so effortlessly that people often believe it’s innate.

But that’s hardly the case. Steve Jobs is no doubt one of the world’s best presenters, but that’s because he is relentless at rehearsing and refining his presentation until every aspect shines.

BusinessWeek columnist Carmine Gallo examines many aspects of Jobs’ presentation techniques as well as his tireless preparation in his new book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.

Gallo analyzed dozens, if not hundreds, of Steve Jobs’ keynotes and other presentations, which resulted in Gallo crafting a playbook, per se, on how you can learn similar techniques to electrify an audience.

Most speeches fall into four categories: informative, inspirational, persuasive or to entertain. Gallo notes that Jobs aims to cover at least three in every speech.

“Steve Jobs presentation is very much like a dramatic play – a finely crafted, well-rehearsed performance that informs, entertains and inspires,” Gallo writes.

Aside from delivery and preparation techniques, Gallo also covers how Jobs uses storytelling to grip his audiences as well as prepare outstanding visual slides to complement each story. No bullet points.

Related Article:
7 Tips to Sell Ideas The Steve Jobs Way

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How to Build Confidence in Public Speaking

How to Build Confidence in Public Speaking

May 13, 2008

The most engaging public speakers are not worried about succeeding or failing at the podium. Instead, they are focused on delivering their message.

Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, makes this point in his new book by analogizing a speaker to a swordsman in battle.

“Once we think of failure or success, we are like the swordsman, whose mind stops, ever so briefly, to ponder his technique or the outcome of the fight. The moment he does, he has lost,” Reynolds writes.

A presenter, Reynolds says, should focus on contributing something to the audience, rather than focusing on success or failure. Don’t ask: “Will I be appreciated?” or “Will I win them over?” But rather, “How can I contribute?”

By shifting your mindset in this manner, it relieves the pressure off of you, allowing you to perform by being “fully present.” In other words, you can have a conversation with the audience, rather than delivering a memorized speech, which sends your mind elsewhere.

Reynolds, a former manager at Apple and now a professor of management at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan, derives much of his presentation demeanor from the practice of martial arts.

He notes that a speaker to be “fully present,” s/he needs to achieve “mindfulness,” which means awareness of that particular moment. To do so, you must eliminate your personal filter, which makes you worry about the past or future.

“When you perform in a state of ‘no mind,’ you are free from the burdens of inhibitions and doubt and contribute fully and fluidly in the moment,” Reynolds says.

Reynolds acknowledges this is difficult to achieve, but to do so, you must clear your mind and only focus on one place: right here.

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How Steve Jobs Captivates an Audience

May 3, 2008

Communications coach and Businessweek columnist Carmine Gallo has an outstanding video on how to inspire an audience, or even a group of coworkers, like Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the master of the keynote. Gallo breaks down elements of a Jobs’ speech, and highlights techniques he uses to electrify a crowd.

Like me, Gallo’s professional roots are in journalism, In fact, Gallo contributed to one of my technology columns I was writing weekly in 2000 for the Las Vegas Business Press. At the time, Gallo hosted the Money Machine, a half-hour show on TEchTV that provided investment advice predominantly using the Internet. Gallo’s communication Web site provides a lot of great tips and videos on public speaking.

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Speech Coaching Tips to Presidential Candidates from Dick Cavett

Speech Coaching Tips to Presidential Candidates from Dick Cavett

April 15, 2008

Dick Cavett, the pioneering former talk show host with a conversational-style, gave free speech coaching advice to our presidential candidates in a March 28 New York Times article titled: Candidate, Improve Your Appearance! Since it’s a lengthy article, here are some golden nuggets.

He noted the value of hiring a comedy writer or acting coach. This very idea did wonders for Dwight D. Eisenhower, when he hired gifted film actor Robert Montgomery to help soften the president’s stiff appearance.

First, [Montgomery] hauled the president out from behind the massive presidential desk from which it was hard not to appear ponderous and had him stand in front of it. Shirtsleeves; no jacket. To cure the rigid, military upright look of a general, he had his illustrious client lean back slightly against the desk (without sitting on it) and cross his arms casually. The actor in Montgomery knew how important stance is to the way you talk.

The success of these seemingly minor adjustments was instant. Suddenly, turgid old President Eisenhower became “Ike.” A genial, avuncular fellow you might like to have over.

Further down in the article, Cavett listed three speech coaching tips to our Presidential candidates:

Tip #1. Change all “I wills” and “I shalls” from the speech to “I’ll’; Also, “I haves” and “I ams” to “I’ve” and “I’m,” etc. You’d be surprised how much this cuts down on the oratory tone.

Tip #2. Pretend you are speaking to one person. One single person. Because that’s what everybody is. No one watching or sitting in the audience is an “all of you” or an “everyone” or a “those of you” or a “Hi, everybody,” and no one is a “ladies and gentlemen.” You, out there, are a “you.” So, speaker, think of yourself as being viewed by only two eyes. (Presumably on the same person.) The most magical word you can use, short of a person’s name, is “you.”

Tip #3. I feel almost silly when I do this one, but it works. Grab a bunch of words off the prompter and, instead of staring straight ahead, glance down and to one side as you do — in real life — when thinking just what to say next. Then look back and deliver those snatched-up words to the camera. It works like a charm. (As a beloved childhood magic catalogue of mine used to say — with unintended ambiguity — “We cannot recommend this trick too highly.”)

If I were [John] McCain’s adviser I would shock everyone by having him come out carrying his script, and saying — not “ladies and gentlemen,” as we just learned, but launch right into, “You know, I don’t use these teleprompters very well. I guess I’m just not one of those people who can fool you into thinking I’m making it up as I go along . . . which these things are supposed to do. I don’t even fool myself. I cringe when I watch myself trying to bring off that ‘electronic deception,’ you might call it . . . Anyway, here’s my speech [shows it] and I’m going to read the damn thing to you. Surely I can’t make even that look phony. [slight pause] Can I?” [laughter]

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Speech Delivery Techniques from a former SNL Cast Member

March 2, 2008

Comedian and playwright Julia Sweeney performed a hilarious excerpt from her one-woman play, “Letting Go of God,” at the 2006 TED Conference. The video of the speech has recently been made available as part of a partnership between TED and Google Video.

Sweeney’s speech is a great example of how a speaker can make a story come alive by executing strong vocal variety, vivid facial expressions, hand gestures and dramatic pauses. Of course, what would you expect from a former cast member of Saturday Night Live?

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Even You Can Learn to Command a Room

Even You Can Learn to Command a Room

September 22, 2007

Many CEO’s of successful companies have a commanding presence, but it’s often a misnomer that they are innately charismatic. More often than not, these are skills they have developed through communications and media training as well as hours upon hours of speech and presentation rehearsals.

That should be good news for anyone who finds him- or herself challenged in public speaking, because it’s without a doubt a skill that can be learned. Important techniques for commanding a room include the following:

Audience Connection: Eye contact is critical in connecting with your audience. That’s why it’s important to know your material so well that you can avoid reading the speech or looking down at note cards. If you are speaking to a group of five or as many as 100 and not making direct eye contact with individuals, they often feel excluded or ignored. It’s the same neglected feeling, if you focus your eye contact to only one side of the room. If your audience is large, you can tackle this problem, by looking directly at one person in each section (front, back, left and right). If done correctly, several people in each section you focused your eye contact on will feel that they were the targets of your eye contact.

When people first learn to speak to audiences without notes, they often speak to the top of their heads, rather than zeroing their focus at eye level of individual audience members. This is the same principle in one-on-one conversations: people doubt the sincerity of someone who talks to them while looking over their shoulder or at the floor.

Speakers who make eye contact with their listeners are often perceived as sincere, credible and confident. These are crucial parts of having your message accepted by your listeners. As a result, you command their attention.

Gestures: Confident and direct hand gestures should be used to help illustrate points throughout the speech. Avoid random fidgeting or repeating the same movements unless they add to the specific spoken points.

One technique in developing this skill is to read through your speech and circle words that can be acted out. Next, practice inserting those movements into your rehearsal until they become second nature.

Rehearsal: Practice is absolutely critical. The great communicators, from Apple CEO Steve Jobs to Cisco’s John Chambers, are great speakers because they know how essential this point is. A great written speech can be ruined by bad delivery due to lack of preparation.

Enthusiasm: Great speakers exude passion for what they are promoting. If a speaker acts as though he doesn’t care much for the product he’s pitching, why should the audience. This energy needs to be maintained throughout the speech, because if you lose the audience at the beginning or halfway through, you have to work twice as hard to regain their attention.

Avoid PowerPoint Blunders: If you use slides in your speech, one of the most important things to remember is that the slides are only to be used as supportive material. The speaker is the star, and the slides should aim to visually illustrate key points in the talk.

Each slide should not be cluttered with multiple themes, but rather limited to a single point. Less words the better. Keep it visual. Otherwise, the audience is conflicted. Do they read the bullet points or pay attention to what you are saying? Keep the focus on the star: You!

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