1257552_conference_room[1]PowerPoint is like salt. A little enhances the flavor and effectiveness of your presentation. Too much irritates.

As my friend said, "If your going to have all the text on Powerpoint and just read it, print the slides out and send us home early."

Besides too much text and reading it verbatim, here are a few more ways to irritate your audience with PowerPoint.
 

Mistake #1: Small print which requires binoculars

The first time I used an overhead project I used size 14 font. The back row desperately needed binoculars. Now I use 30+.

Mistake #2: Slide full of text

Usually, you want your slide be like a bill-board on a highway. People need to be able to grasp the content in two seconds and return to driving or in this case listening.

Mistake #3: Leaving the slides on the screen the entire time

Every remote and computer has a blank screen button (b on the keyboard). Flash the slide up, make your point, and blank it out. Now people can focus on your presentation.

Keeping it up won’t really irritate your audience, but it will distract from your presentation.

#4: Flashing slides too quickly for those taking notes.

A teacher in college gave notes filled with entire blanks. Every point was to be copied down. Since he talked three times faster than we wrote, he often switched slides before we had a chance to write them down. Entire class was irritated.

#5: Pictures drowning out the text.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Maybe two thousand. Too often an unrelated picture is used for a background and the text is drowned out. What may look clear on computer screen, can be nearly invisible on a big screen.

Keep black on light background, and white on darker background. Using shadows will make text stand out.

Power-point is an amazing tool for good. Avoid these mistakes and you can avoid irritating your audience.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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It’s that time of year. 35,000 Toastmasters from around the world are creating and delivering 5-7 minute speeches in the spring International Speech Contest. Through a series of judged contests, the top ten will compete in August in Cincinnati for the title of World Champion of Public Speaking.

I have competed several times and have learned 7 keys which will help a person do well in this contest.

You are probably thinking, "Arlen, how well did you do?" In 2009 I was in the top 243 out of 35,000 competitors from around the world. The following 7 keys helped me reach that level.

Key #1: Don’t focus on winning the speech contest. Focus on influencing the audience.

Create a speech which will have a lasting impact on the audience. Walk in with this focus and you will have a winning speech no matter how many contests you win.

Key #2: Have one main point or phrase and build the speech around it.
Points from past speeches include:

  • Keep on Driving
  • Adapt & Advance
  • Obligation or Opportunity

Key #3: Use your story to communicate the point.

Share how this truth has impacted you with stories from your life.

Key #4: "Manipulate your voice to influence the audience" – Rory Vaden

Use vocal variety to influence the feelings of the audience. Speed up to create excitement. Slow down to drive a point home.

Key #5: Pause.

Pause before and after a key point. Pause for humor. Pause to let your truth sink in.

Key #6: Open Hot, Close Hotter

According to Patrica Fripp, the first and last 30 seconds of any speech are crucial. Grab attention and launch into your speech. If you say, "Fellow Toastmaster …" say it 20-30 seconds in and not as your opening line.

This is a motivational speech. The last 30 seconds should leave them on a high and leave a great impression on the judges.

Key #7: Speak from the Heart

Here is an excellent example of a speech by Rory Vaden from the 2007 World Championship.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Sound Brilliant when Speaking Off-the-Cuff

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I was jealous.

Often I encountered individuals who could deliver brilliant one-liners, answers, and even mini speeches with no preparation.

Give them a topic and for the next 1-2 minutes they wowed their audience with stories, comments, and humor.

Duane could easily launch into story that caused people to hang on every word. David always had a well placed one-liner. Ask Sarah a question and her answers seemed well rehearsed.

I, on the other hand, struggled in all three areas. I was not born with that ability to think and speak on my feet.

So I thought.

Then I discovered the secret of sounding brilliant when speaking off-the-cuff.

Prepare your answers, one-liners, and stories ahead of time.

It is that simple.

Duane had practiced his dozens of stories till they were a listeners delight. David had memorized 20-30 one-liners and sprinkled them in when appropriate (though he is still improving in this area). Smile Sarah anticipated questions she would be asked and had answers ready.

Smart preparation often beats talent.

I decided to test this secret. Over the next three months, I won 3 Table Topics contests and took first place in the District 22 Toastmasters Table Topics Contest (representing all of Kansas and half of Missouri).

How did I give a winning speech 5 seconds after hearing the topic?

I tossed in one of the stories I had rehearsed. Mixed in a few humor lines I had prepared. Added some off-the-cuff commentary and tied it into the topic.

Cheating?

Nope. That’s how the other winners do it and what Toastmaster Leadership encourages.

Amateurs show up on game day and rely on talent. Pros anticipate and practice so they are prepared for anything on game day.

Do the same and you can sound brilliant when speaking off-the-cuff.

If you are giving a prepared speech, use the strategies in Become a Better Speaker in One Evening.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Speaking and the Money Bucket

I’ll never forget that moment. On a cold Michigan afternoon, I was restocking shelves at work and paying for college.

Dean, a 55 year old coworker, gave me a communication tip which helped me tremendously.

“Arlen, take an unclear or vague concept and illustrate it to the listener using something they are familiar with.”

Use the familiar to illustrate the unfamiliar.

This concept has served me well. Here are two ways I have used this.

Goal Setting & Road Trips

In a presentation on goal setting, I’ll tell the story of a trip my brother and I went on to Houston.

  • We had a destination
  • We made a road map
  • We kept on driving.

To reach your goals, choose your destination, make a road map, and keep on driving.

I illustrated a vague concept of goal setting with a clear illustration of taking a trip.

Saving & the Money Bucket

Another time I gave a presentation on money. My goal was to emphasize the important of spending less than we make.

Here is how I did this.

Imagine 1204658_isolated_red_enamel_bucket[1]a bucket. There is a garden hose coming in the top and shooting water into the bucket. There are holes in the bottom leaking water out. If there is more water coming in than leaking, the water level will rise in the bucket. If more is leaking than coming in, the water level will drop.

It’s the same way with our finances. We have a money bucket. Our income is the money coming in the top. Our bills are the holes where our money dribbles or pours out. More income than expense means we build a savings account and a buffer. Too many holes or expenses means the money level drops.

If too much money is leaving, we have two options.

First, increase the income. Second, plug the holes and get our spending under control.

Does this make it clear? Audiences have told me yes!

Try it with your next speech. Use the familiar to illustrate the unfamiliar.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Recently, 25 of us were sitting around tables listening to a presenter. He was prepared, knew what he was talking about and had some humor. Yet, he was unintentionally insulting and irritating us.

Three minutes into the presentation, he asked a question. Dead silence.

“Quiet audience?” We chuckled.

However, in the next hour he told us we were quiet and unresponsive 11 times. Four times he said, “I have spoken to thousands of people and this is the most quiet audience.”

Would you be irritated? My wife and I were.

Did he intend to insult & irritate us? Nope. But it happened and it can happen to you.

Here are several ways we can unintentionally insult and offend our audiences.

Being Unprepared & Boring

People have given us their most precious asset- time. We never want listeners leaving and thinking, “That was a waste of time.” A few techniques from Become a Better Speaker in One Evening will liven up any presentation.

Blame

  • “You are not very responsive.”
  • “You look bored.”
  • “You look tired.”
  • “You are not getting what I am saying.”

Sometimes it’s very effective to state the obvious to the audience, but don’t blame.

  • “I sense we are all dragging this morning.”
  • “Let me make this clearer with this illustration.”

Over Explaining

One time I was speaking and said, “Sometimes we can give a half-baked speech. It’s like pulling the bread out of the oven at 60 minutes instead of waiting the full 90 minutes.”

Later my mentor said, “Arlen, we know what half-baked bread is … you don’t have to explain it.”

He was right.

Watch out for this during Q&A. You may be giving a presentation on marketing with Facebook. Someone asks, “How do I set up an account?” 96% of the people in the room have Facebook. They do not want to sit through a 7 minute explanation.

You could say, “Great question. Talk to me later or email me and I’ll email you a link to instructions.” The other 99% will be secretly applauding you.

Under Explaining

On the other side of the coin, don’t assume the audience knows every concept.  Two months ago I spoke to a group on how to start and run a business based on my experience selling rocks to pay for college.

I used terms like “Fixed costs” & “Variable costs”. With each one I gave the meaning. If I was speaking to accountants, I would have skipped the explanation.

Rude / Putting them Down

Rudeness is shown through attitude & words. If you are a comedian and good at reading audiences, you may be able to get away with some of this. However, 97% of the time it is usually a bad idea.

Apply the ideas above and you’ll reduce the amount of irritation in the audience.

 

 

 

 

 

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Three Speaking Lessons from Jury Duty

A week ago 21 people sat down in the courtroom. We were the chosen few to appear that day for jury duty.

In strode the judge. Medium height and dressed in a suit with no robe. He gave us a 7 minute speech and explained the jury selection process and how long the trial would be. Then he marched out.

His mini speech illustrated three speaking lessons:

1. Dress Up

People do judge a speaker by their dress (pardon the pun). Is a doctor going to have more credibility dressed in a white coat or old jeans? Studies and experience say if you dress up, people tend to give more credibility to what you have to say.

The pros say to dress up one step above the audience. If they are in shirts and ties, wear a suit. Everyone is wearing jeans and a collared shirt? Throw on a sports jacket.

If the judge had come out in an Hawaiian shirt and shorts, his message would not have had near the impact.

 2. Acknowledge what the Audience is Thinking

“I know many of you don’t want to be here.”

“Thanks for giving up your day to do this.”

“This will be a short trial and done today.”

By saying what we were thinking, it helped him connect with us potential jurors.

You can do the same. If the room feels hot, mention it. If you know that there may be an objection to a position you’re taking, say, “You may be thinking ___.” Then answer it.

You’ll connect and better deliver your message.

3. Keep it short

People have short attention spans. Depending on your audience, many don’t want to be there. Short speeches tend to be remembered. Think about the Gettysburg address.

His speech was 7 minutes and then he was done. No extra time to fulfill his ego or put us into a mid morning nap.

Most speeches have too much fluff. Recently we received a package of cleaning supplies from an online website. It was a big box with 1/3 taken up with our supplies. The other 2/3 was taken up by air!

Many  speeches have a lot of air and can be cut down to save everyone some time. Plus, it has more impact.

Don’t eliminate the pauses. Cut out content and sharpen what’s left.

These three lessons helped the judge deliver an effective speech and will help you and I.

 

 

 

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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When Speaking Don’t Worry About Eye-Contact

Eye-Contact when speakingNearly every book on public speaking has a chapter or page on the importance of eye-contact.

Authors and speech coaches claim:

  • Eye contact will connect you with the audience
  • Eye-contact will make you look confident
  • Eye-Contact will help hold attention

I used to be a big proponent of emphasizing the importance of eye-contact when speaking.

Not anymore.

I still believe that good eye-contact is crucial. However, our focus should not be on eye contact but on this principle:

Talk to one person for 3-8 seconds.

Look at someone and deliver a sentence or two. Have a mini-conversation with them for a few moments. Ignore everyone else and speak directly to them.

Speak in terms that make them feel like you are speaking directly to them. Craig Valentine says, “Speak to them like you were talking to them in a hallway.” If I met you in the hallway, I would not say “Each of you can reach your goals.” I would say, “You can reach your goals.”

Keep your voice conversational. Sometime as speakers we get into our “preacher’s voice.” Would you use this voice if you met someone in the hallway? Nope. Keep it conversational.

Several benefits of applying this principle and talking to one person for 3-8 seconds:

Benefit #1: You will make good eye-contact (Yes! This is important.)
Benefit #2: They feel like we are speaking to them, will listen better, and feel more connected.
Benefit #3: The people sitting around the person will feel like you are talking to them.

More info on how to do this in Become a Better Speaker in One Evening.

Move beyond eye-contact. Focus on talking to one person for 3-8 seconds.

 

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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Take an Axe to your Speech Intro

You can instantly make most speech intros 50% better. How? Take an axe to them.

Here is an intro I heard a couple weeks ago.

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be here. I am very happy to speak about something which I am very interested in. My story starts in high school. Bullies terrorized our school.

This intro is boring and does not grab the audience’s attention. You want to hook the audience. With every word of those first couple sentences, people’s attention is swimming away.

See what happens after you take an axe to it.

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to be here. I am very happy to speak about something which I am very interested in. My story starting in high school. Bullies terrorized our school.

Now, the speaker jumps right into the action.

Bullies terrorized our school.

What an attention grabber!

Immediately everyone is paying attention. You can continue to reel them in throughout the speech. If you did not use the axe, most of the people lost during the first sentences may never come back.

Do your intros need an axe?

Here are some tips for taking an axe to your intro:

  1. Jump right into the story.
  2. Use a question to grab attention.
  3. Thank the audience after you grab their attention.
  4. Grab their attention before you say what you will be talking about.

Learn more in the Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™ Program.

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Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

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My Free Kindle Book: Conversation Magic – Today Only

We are running a 24 hour promotion on Conversation Magic. Get my free kindle book: Conversation Magic: Improve Your Conversation Skills in One Evening

Get it free through Midnight tonight.

You don’t have to have a Kindle. You can read it on any computer.

Click here to Improve Your Conversation Skills in One Evening

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

More Posts - Website

Most speeches could be made 200% better if the speaker did more KISSing.

My boss in college said, “KISS means Keep It Simply Simple.”

Below is one of the most basic speech writing formulas. However, many do not use it and may take the audience on a meaningless safari and leave the audience saying, “Huh? What was the point?” Those who do use this are easy to follow and audience’s appreciate the clarity.

1. Grab attention with the intro and preview your speech.

Read these articles for more info:

2. Have 2-4 main points and label them.

If I am talking about overcoming fear of public speaking, I have 4 keys. In the presentation I’ll say, “Key #1: Act Confident.” Audiences can easily follow you when you have main points and label them. See this article for more info.

3. Review the points and conclude with a story or call to action.

I call this a home-run ending. You circle your points and head for home plate with a story or call to action.

Simple speech formula and follows the rules of KISS. Results can be outstanding.

Learn more in this public speaking training.

Arlen Busenitz

Arlen Busenitz is an experienced speaker with over 650 presentations. He is Author of several books, CD's,and creator of Become a Better Speaker in One Evening™

More Posts - Website

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