Thursday, March 10, 2016

Practice Makes Perfect in Public Speaking and Presentations

Why is it that some speakers captivate our attention and move us to action, while others put us to sleep?  And how can you learn to be one of the good ones?

Contrary to popular opinion, great speakers are not born—they are made.  You don’t have to be extremely extroverted or a student of theater arts in order to get up on a stage in front of dozens or even hundreds of people and knock ‘em dead with your presentation.  All you need is for someone to let you in on the secrets to making a persuasive speech. 

What we found is that dynamic presenters follow a repeatable formula whenever they get up to deliver a winning speech.  They know that there are certain essential elements they’ve got to include if they want to captivate their audience. 

A persuasive speaker is someone who is able to clear away all the chatter and say to the audience, directly and convincingly, “This—what I am "selling" you—is all that you need.  You can forget about those other products.  You can forget about those useless services.  This is it.”

This is true no matter what kinds of speeches you deliver.  Even if you are not a “salesperson” in the literal definition of that word, when you are up on stage in front of an audience, your mission is selling your message.  Whether or not the audience buys that message depends upon how persuasive you are.

Good speakers seem to ooze confidence.  Again, this isn’t because they are naturally confident and brazen people.  It’s because they’ve gained confidence through learning the essentials of persuasive speaking.  They’ve grown sure of themselves over time because of the amazing reactions they get when they follow the very same rules that are outlined in this report.

You, too, can have that wonderful, confident feeling each and every time you take the microphone, as long as you know how to get the audience to move with you—

To your speaking success.

Fran Watson

P.S.  If you need help to develop your skills, check out a local Toastmasters Club.  There you can practice your talks in front of a supportive audience to build your confidence.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Top 5 Strategies for a Memorable Presentation

Here are the top 5 strategies you can use to make sure every presentation is a showstopper.

1.  Realize 90% of Nervousness Doesn't Even Show
The audience usually can’t see the telltale symptoms of nervousness.  The butterflies, the shaky hands or the sweaty palms.  The key is for you to not focus on them either.  You need to focus on the audience.  When you do this two things will happen:  1) they will like you more, and 2) much of the nervousness that you feel will go away.

Many times when I have given a presentation people have spoken to me afterwards about how relaxed and confident I was.  (Believe me, I wasn't.)

2.  Don’t Avoid Eye-Contact.
When we are nervous, it is a natural reaction to want to hide.  When you are standing in front of a group of people where do you hide?  You can’t.  So you will tend to look down or look away from your audience.  If we can’t see them they can’t see us, right?  Wrong.

The other trick people try is to look over the tops of their heads.  The idea here is that by looking a peoples foreheads, they will think you are looking at them.  Wrong again.

You need to look directly into people’s eyes with kindness.  Create a rapport with the audience through your visual contact.  If anyone smiles when you look at him or her, smile back.  This will make you, and the audience, feel more at ease and will make your presentation more genuine.

Identify three people in the audience whom you want to speak to:  One on your left, one in front of you and one on your right.  Deliver your speech to these three people.  Look at each one for about 4-5 seconds and “switch target” to the next person.  Don’t maintain eye contact for too long.  This will create an uncomfortable situation.  You don’t want to creep people out. 

If you can meet some of your audience ahead of time, as they come into the room, and can chat with them a bit, it will relax you and you can look for them when you speak. 

By using this technique, it will give the impression to the entire audience that you are making eye contact, because you are sweeping the room with your glances.

3.  Don't Apologize.
Never start a presentation with an apology.  By starting a presentation with an apology for your nervousness or for having a cold, you are drawing attention to something the audience may not have noticed.  You are also announcing to the audience, “the presentation you are about to receive is less than you deserve, but please don’t blame me.”

I have seen too many people do this and it definitely impacts how you are received.  No matter whether or not you are completely prepared, have forgotten something or whatever - keep it to yourself.  You are the only one who knows, or who needs to know.

4.  Avoid A Rushing/Monotone Voice.
A fast paced monotone speech is a sure-fire way to make your audience feel unimportant.  It will also cause them to lose focus and become bored.  How many lectures did you sit through in school listening to a monotone professor drone on about whatever subject he was teaching?  How much of those lectures did you actually remember?

When I was completing my degree I listened to many boring, monotone lectures as the professors droned on and on.  You don’t want to subject your audience to this same torture and you want them to remember what you talked about.

You can easily avoid monotone messages. Before saying a word think about the value of your message. Think about the aspects that create passionate feelings. Think about speaking clearly with compassion. Smile. Tell yourself a joke. Take a huge confidence breath.

Use eye-contact, positively say “you,” and flow with the message. If you do, you’ll hear, “I felt like you were speaking specifically to me.” That’s one of the best compliments you can get. And it proves that you’re speaking TO not AT the audience.

5.  Limit your talk to a few key points.
Have you ever attended a lecture which was supposed to last 15 - 20 minutes and 30 minutes later the person is still talking.  Or gone to a public debate where each contestant was to have 5 minutes and one person is still speaking after 10 minutes? 

Narrow down your topic to either one key point for a short talk, or three key points for a longer talk (a talk longer than 30-minutes).  Ask yourself, “If my audience only remembered one thing from my talk, what would be the most important thing for them to remember?”  The more points your presentation has, the less focus the audience will have on each individual point.  Once you have your key points, then create your PowerPoint slides, if you are using them.

If you remember these five key points, you will be sure to knock-em dead.

To your speaking success

Fran Watson

P.S. for more tips on public speaking, you can sign up here for my free ezine

Friday, March 4, 2016

Communication - The Key To Success

According to Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., Every employer is looking for a specific set of skills from job-seekers that match the skills necessary to perform a particular job.

 But beyond these job-specific technical skills, certain skills are nearly universally sought by employers. The good news is that most job-seekers possess these skills to some extent. The better news is that job-seekers with weaknesses in these areas can improve their skills through training, professional development, or obtaining coaching/mentoring from someone who understands these skills.

So, what are some of these critical employability skills that employers demand of job-seekers?

Communications Skills (listening, verbal, written). By far, the one skill mentioned most often by employers is the ability to listen, write, and speak effectively. Successful communication is critical in business.

Analytical/Research Skills. Deals with your ability to assess a situation, seek multiple perspectives, gather more information if necessary, and identify key issues that need to be addressed.

Interpersonal Abilities. The ability to relate to your co-workers, inspire others to participate, and mitigate conflict with co-workers is essential given the amount of time spent at work each day.

Leadership/Management Skills. While there is some debate about whether leadership is something people are born with, these skills deal with your ability to take charge and manage your co-workers.

Teamwork. Because so many jobs involve working in one or more work-groups, you must have the ability to work with others in a professional manner while attempting to achieve a common goal.

Many of these skills can be developed through participation in a group or club such as Toastmasters.  Find out more by going to to find a club near you, then drop in for a visit.  You may be surprised by what you find.  Many people have an unrealistic idea of what Toastmasters is all about.

To your success in communicating your ideas and strengths to others.


For more information/detail, click here

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

ABC's of Public Speaking

A - Audience / Attention

B - Be prepared / Begin strong

C - Confidence / Courage

D - Dress to Impress / Determine direction

E - Enthusiasm / Evaluations

F - Facts & Figures / Focus

G - Gestures

H - Hone In / Hope

I - Inspire / Impress

J - Journey / Join in

K - Know your material / Knowledge

L - Life lessons / learning

M - Manage your time / Maximize

N - Notice things / No excuses

O - Open up onstage / Offer

P - Practice presenting / play

Q - Quotations / Questions

R - Relax / Rehearse

S - Sum up / Share

T - Talking / Time management

U - Understanding

V - Vocal Variety / Voice control / Value

W - Watch your audience / Welcoming

X - Express yourself

Y - You

Z - Zebras and other animals

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Are They Listening?

Ten Tips to Send Your Audience to Sleep

Have you ever fallen asleep when listening to a speech or presentation? Sometimes a little nap during a presentation can boost your energy for the rest of the day.

Speakers- if you want to be the one to send your audience to sleep, so they will be fully alert for other people’s presentations follow these ten tips.

1. Make sure that your material is dry and boring. Make sure that your material is either highly technical or complex. If at all possible fill your speech with specialized academic content that is not easily understood without prior study and research.

2. Do not include any explanations or illustrations to make the content understandable to the average person in your audience.

3. Schedule your speech to be at the end of a long day or after a big meal. This will give added incentive for drowsiness and lethargy.

4. Speak softly and avoid any expression or vocal variety that might distract or interest your audience.

5. Stand still behind the lectern for the entire speech. Any movement or sudden gestures could wake up your audience.

6. Avoid any variation in style in your presentation. Do not change from talking to using a flip chart, PowerPoint or any other kind of visual aid or prop that will attract attention.

7. Do NOT include any humor or stories in your speech that might illustrate the important points you wish to communicate.

8. Do not keep to the topic of the speech. Spend a large amount of time rambling about subjects or personal experiences that are boring and totally off topic.

9. Speak about a topic that is very familiar to your audience. Keep your content to things that they already know.

10. Provide highly detailed handouts, so that your audience will not miss out on any important information during their snooze. Make sure that you do not say anything that is not included in the hand out. For best results, just read the handout word for word.

Hopefully, by following carefully the ten tips outlined here, you will have the satisfaction of seeing an entire audience snoring quietly and happily throughout your entire presentation.

Remember, if you do not follow these tips you may be alarmed to discover that your audience is alert and interested in what you have to say.

To your speaking success

Fran Watson

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Public Speaking and Your Business

When asked, the majority of people would claim that their greatest fear is getting up in front of a crowd and giving a speech. People in business often don't know how to address a group of people who are wanting to learn more about their product or service.

So why are we so afraid of public speaking? Well for one thing not very many of us are good at it and we don’t know how to get better.

Public oration was once a skill highly valued and therefore it was something that was worked on with much effort and time in school. Part of the reason that more people were schooled in speech making in the past was because school was really only for those to whom the skill would be beneficial. Only the “gifted” children were formally trained in such skills (i.e. those who had the money to be able to afford post secondary education).

Nowadays people are beginning to do pubic speaking in grade school.  Young children are encouraged to speak in contests as well as in class.  Adults are being asked to give presentations at school and at the office.  However, many of us are not good at it,  and don’t have the natural skills, desires, or regular practice that they need to be good. We may speak too softly, stumble over our words, use filler words with every breath, or simply stare at the screen instead of the audience.

So what do you do if you are in business and have to speak to people on a regular basis?  Do you just hope and pray you don't sound like an idiot, or do you do something more productive like joining a Toastmasters Club. 

Now, before you get all worried about joining such a club, let me reassure you that you do not need to be an excellent orator before joining.  Toastmasters is a place where you learn communication and leadership skills to help you in all areas of your life.  You can learn how to do impromptu speaking well.  Impromptu speaking is something we do everyday, but often we get tongue tied and nervous and use a lot of uhms and ahs.  At Toastmasters you learn to do without these filler words.

Businesses thrive on communication...oral and written.  If you want to improve your business, improve your communication. 

To your business and speaking success

Fran Watson

P.S.  Check out my book Click here

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Public Speaking Dilemma: What To Do When You Don't Have Enough Time

Do you have a standard hour-length presentation, but your host can only spare a half hour?  (Been there.)

Are you in the middle of a presentation when you realize that, due to a late start or abundant questions, you are running out of time? (Here too.)

No matter what your topic, it is important to always be flexible and ready to cut short your session (or ready to lengthen, as the case may be). Here are some ways to make sure your presentation always fits the time slot.

Pointer #1: Use a timed outline
When you create your presentation outline, include time estimates next to each section (You might  like to add them in red to make them easier to spot on the page).

A brief, one-page bulleted outline (or two pages double-sided) will be easier to time than a long, rambling novel written in paragraphs.

Practice your presentation and jot down time estimates as you go (two minutes for opening, five minutes for section I, seven minutes for section II, etc.) When you get to the end, add up all the time and determine whether you should add to or subtract from any sections to make it all fit into the allotted time slot.

If you have to edit severely to fit into a different time frame and your presentation will be adversely affected, you might want to develop separate self-contained presentations for short, medium and long time slots.

(If you are a PowerPoint user, see the book "Beyond Bullet Points" for instruction on creating a PowerPoint that serves different timing needs.)

Pointer #2: Shift information depending on its priority
If you notice that you are running out of time while in the middle of a presentation, you may have to shift some of your content around. If you have important points at the end of the presentation, now is the time to bring them forward. As soon as you notice the time crunch, start changing the order of your sections.

When creating and practicing your presentation, it's always a good idea to think ahead about how you would handle this situation. The layout of your bulleted outline should make it easy to see which sections to leave out, move up or move down.

If you have to leave out something that you feel is important, gather business cards from the audience and offer to e-mail them additional content.

Pointer #3: Supplement with handouts
There's usually some information that we want to share, but that we don't necessarily want to include in our live presentation. You might have some relevant articles to supplement your workshop, or you might have charts and graphs that you didn't have time for or the technology to project.

Use handouts wisely. If the material does not need to be reviewed during your presentation, then leave handouts at the back of the room for the audience to pick up on the way out. If you choose to put them on seats before you begin, be aware that your audience may spend half the time reading and not listening to you.

Your handouts should always include your contact information and a link to your website, if you have one. Make sure all resources and references are clear and easy to read; use graphics if appropriate and leave a lot of white space on the page. Don't overload handouts with text; make them concise and relevant to your presentation. Otherwise, they will end up in the recycling bin!

Follow these suggestions, and you will always be prepared, no matter how much (or little) time you have.

To your speaking success

Fran Watson

P.S.  Click here for more info on Public Speaking