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What’s More Important in Your Presentation? Content or Delivery?

Rubbish wrapped in a ribbbon?

Rubbish wrapped in style?

Presentation day looming? You’re Eddie Izzard, you’re Margaret Thatcher, you’re a children’s storyteller! Unless your aim is to induce a coma on your poor audience, your presentation needs to be more than just words. Your job is to entertain, to enlighten and most importantly, get your message across.

It’s not uncommon to be nervous about speaking in front of a group, but a sizeable chunk of these nerves can be put to one side if you’re prepared and know your stuff. You want to be able to walk out in front of your audience and before you’ve even said a word, convey the message – “shut your mouths and listen to my face, I’m wonderful!”

Of course, you should never say this out loud.

Let’s take a look at a few ideas that emphasise the importance of the delivery.

 

Does Your Powerpoint Presentation Have More Personality Than You?

Slideshow software is fantastic for demonstrating key points and showing information in a clear and appropriate manner. Unfortunately, many people believe it’s a substitute for human interaction and end up giving their audience nothing but lumbar pain and an unnatural compulsion to book in with a Swiss clinic.

In the world of academia, Stephen Ceci, a university professor at Cornell improved his evaluations over two terms simply by changing the way in which he delivered the content. What’s noteworthy is that the content did not change, only the delivery. In the second term of teaching, with a new group of students, he added more gestures, used his tone of voice tactically and generally become more enthusiastic when lecturing.

After he introduced new delivery techniques, the following happened:

  • The professor was perceived as being a more effective lecturer
  • He was considered to be more open, to others’ ideas
  • He was viewed as being more organised
  • Even Ceci’s textbooks were perceived to be 20% better than with previous classes
  • The students’ believed had learned more

But the content didn’t change, just the delivery. Are you getting the point?

 

Men! Evolution Not Your Cup of Tea?

According to primary school history lessons, men used to spend their days fighting wild animals and eventually eating them. But unless you’re from certain parts of the country, chances are you’ve evolved and now chase fewer beasts through the street.

Men, unless an irate pterodactyl is gazing at you from behind the whiteboard, there’s really no need to cover your throat with your hand. This is a primitive gesture that men make when faced with a threat, which a few thousand years ago may well have been an angry bird with serrated teeth but nowadays it could equally be Jane from accounts who is eager to talk to you about the Weatherspoons receipts you submitted on expenses.

Either way, when you’re trying to instill a sense of confidence in your audience, gestures like this will not be welcomed. Another example is the “penalty shoot out pose” where your legs are shoulder width apart and your hands covering your crotch. This is absolutely fine if you’re delivering your presentation 18 yards from the goalposts at Wembley, not so great if you’re living in the real world.

 

Women, Are You Shrinking?

Standing with your feet together like you’re in choir practice is not a confidence builder for your audience.  And while we’re at it, leave your hair alone! Women tend to be guilty of this sin and often need to be told to adopt a more authoritative stance.

 

To Sum it All Up

The fact of the matter is, your audience is human and as such will fail to separate the delivery from the content, which is why it’s your responsibility to deliver the right content in the right way. A presentation should be seen as a way to add some flavour to what you’re trying to say so there’s no excuse for delivering what could be said using words on a page. Text is vanilla, presentations are mint choc chip.

 

To see what we did to shape up content and delivery in academia and business, click here for the case studies

 

followup

8 ways to get what you want from presentations

follow uupYou’ve just finished a fantastic presentation and people are gurgling with joy about you/your content/your services.

You get back to base expecting the phone to ring, your diary to be heaving at the seams and working out whether you need an office in New York and Hong Kong.

But it all falls flat as a pancake. Nothing. Nichts. De Nada. And you think ‘Was I imagining that enthusiasm?’

It’s very likely you weren’t but we’re goldfishes: as soon as we come away from the context of the talk, we remain with the shadow of the impact, not the full-on spirit of the moment. This means that you need to be proactive, if you want to pick up on opportunities to:

1. gather support for a plan;

2. acquire further knowledge or spread your own;

3. win business;

4. build networks of influence.

What I’ve gathered here are 8 ways you can create opportunities to get what you need.

The presentation may feel like a main course but often it’s the starter: the prelude to actually doing business. In conferences, you may have so many speakers that they all blend into each other.

Make yourself stand out and keep in the minds of your audience and influencers. Here are several ways that you can do this:

  1. use slideshare.com to post slides to them (the transcript of the slides appears underneath);
  2. post a survey.  Surveymonkey.com can do this easily and send it out to social networks;
  3. send an opt-in form to register interest in products or services. Research has shown that by getting people to indicate interest before you start ‘the sell’, sales can increase by as much as 50%;
  4. write a blog or, even better, have a member of the audience write and post one for you if you don’t have time. Sharing your knowledge with the audience, means that you can then catch it in your own blog, in the time it takes to buckle a belt;
  5. offer a follow-up webinar with a small group, individuals who want to go further into the details;
  6. arrange one to one’s with interested individuals or individuals you’re interested in meeting up with (scanning the audience list for opportunities before the presentation will allow you to catch your prey);
  7. catch names of attendees and have them on your mailing list so you can keep them as warm leads, instead of waiting for them to go ‘cold’;
  8. set up and invite attendees to a forum – online or offline – to exchange ideas and opinions about your content;

One or any combination of the above can help you to benefit from the opportunity of presenting so, no matter what happens on the day, you can still seize the moment and maintain the momentum, and who know: New York and Hong Kong may just be starting points…next, The World!

 

graphs

547 confusing graphs – yippee!

graphThe Devil’s in the Detail

It’s so easy to get trapped in the detail when that’s how you earn your money.  So when presenting to an audience, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a financial analyst, engineer or consultant, PowerPoint can easily become an onslaught of bullet points, dry data and confusing graphs: all qualities that muddy your message.

 

When a picture says a thousands words – or numbers

Research has shown that ideas are much more likely to be remembered if they are presented as pictures instead of words or pictures paired with words.

Psychologists call this the Picture Superiority Effect (PSE), the point of which is thus:

 

If information is presented orally, people remember about 10% of the content 72 hours later. That figure goes up to 65% if you add a picture.

 

Visuals that work

A picture saves a thousand words:

rhino

Suzanne, the IT Director of a national retail organisation, knew her audience of in Marketing and Business Development where going to be challenging.  She flashed up her slide of huge white rhino.

 

“So often,” she began, “The IT department are seen like this rhino:  thick-skinned, short-sighted and charging all the time.”.

A barrage of data versus one point

If you’re presenting to those dealing with data every day, seeing more of it in a presentation, can give that audience sort of  data death.  If you’re not there to persuade your audience to act on something, then it’s a report, not a presentation.  Your audience want to see the key message, the one point.

One utilities company that I was training, needed to do a presentation to their investors.  Their point: invest in us: we’re on the up, and you’ll see returns, guarded against risk.

It was a team ‘performance’ to a very financially astute crowd.  They had this brilliantly colourful slide of a ship and lifeboats, a dynamic cartoon, which was a great metaphor for the way they were operating.

We crafted a message around this picture that had such an impact on the audience, that the share prices shot up (so it wasn’t a picture of the Titanic, that’s for sure).

Numbers were mentioned in a way they got remembered but there wasn’t a bar graph or pie chart in sight and the investors loved the refreshing and memorable way this team conveyed a message clearly, with humour and the evidence to prove their success.

There’s nothing to prove so put it away!

If you feel that you need to put so much data on your slides, ask yourself if there’s perhaps a little urge to prove that you’ve done your homework as an analyst/number cruncher?

By shoving so much detail in your audience’s face, they are not only more likely to forget what you’re talking about but why.  The information you give to your audience needs to make a difference to the world in which they function.

If people want more detail, wave your report at them, but don’t give it out until the end.  That way, they’ll know you’ve done your homework, and that they can get to the nitty gritty when they want, but you won’t be hearing the rustling of pages while you present your message.

When you give the facts that your audiences need to make the changes that will impact their world, you’ll be seen as an expert and a trusted advisor.

 

What’s the best use of visuals you’ve seen?  Comment below and we’ll swop tips!

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Do you leak when you speak featured image

How not to leak when you speak

‘How not to leak when you speak’ isn’t  about waterworks – yours, or anyone else’s you’ll be relieved to know – but how we unintentionally make certain gestures that unwittingly betray our messages.

Watch this 3 minute clip to find out what gestures you may make and how to overcome the seepage/leakage.

Either way it sounds disgusting. It’s not, though – you’ll see what I mean…

 

Want to add something on how we can seem more convincing and confident when communicating?  Drop your comment right down there:

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connecting

How to increase your ‘Presence’

 

It's all about connection

It’s all about connection

Some people seem to find catching the attention of others effortless, be it in a job interview, presentation or a meeting.

What is it they’ve got that other people haven’t?

Charisma?

Presence?

What are the qualities that make some people more trustworthy, authoritative and persuasive?

The good news is that these qualities can be learnt…read on if you’re interested in getting other’s attention (without shouting or doing the Shimmy Shake).

Let’s imagine Eugene needs to stand in front of his business partners and persuade them to pool resources on a new venture.  He needs to appear more authoritative, trustworthy and persuasive so what qualities do you think are vital?

According to work conducted at the University of Lausanne. lead by Professor John Antonakis,  there are a set of twelve communication habits that Eugene would need to adopt.

When Antonakis was conducting the study of what would give people like Eugene that extra ‘zing’, he was actually looking at ‘charisma’.

The Latin root of ‘charisma’, ‘charis’ means ‘favour’ and the whole word therefore translates as to ‘exhort favour’.  In other words, ‘being influential’.  Not every leader or manager needs to be – or can be – ‘charismatic’ with its ‘wow the room’ implication but to be engaging is vital.

Eight of the techniques of engaging others, are verbal:

  1. using metaphors;
  2. easy-to-remember three-part lists;
  3. telling stories;
  4. drawing vivid contrasts;
  5. asking rhetorical questions;
  6. expressing moral conviction;
  7. reflecting an audience’s sentiments;
  8. and setting high but achievable goals.

The rest are non-verbal: raising and lowering your voice, letting your feelings show in face and hand gestures to reinforce what you say.

All these skills are based on Aristotle’s theory of rhetoric that can be broken down thus:

  • Ethos – establishing your credentials and building rapport;

This could be done during a presentation, by Eugene sharing his experience through anecdotes, for example, and reflecting the audience’s concerns and language.  Credibility may be established beforehand through reputation. Eugene may have a harder job if his audience think he had his hand in the pension fund, in which case, establishing credentials through colourful stories may be as productive as skiing uphill in slippers.

  •  Logos – persuading through logic

By showing cause and effect, before and after, theory next to experience, Eugene will be using logic to influence.

  • Pathos – persuasion with emotion

Try talking about something your are looking forward to in a flat, unmodulated voice with no movement. Then do this with gesture to underline points your emphasise with vocal colouring.  That is the addition of ‘pathos’.  Do be aware of cultural variations, though.  For example, more open, expressive movement would be expected in southern Europe than Northern Europe.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter,  a Professor from Harvard in her blog ‘Why you need Charisma’,  says that it’s how well you listen as opposed to being heard, that will make you influential.  For her, ‘charisma’ is the quality of silence as well as speech.

According to Professor Kanter, active listening is vital:  the questions you ask to seek understanding, reflecting back key phrases, steering a conversation through non-verbals.

Whether in a presentation or the Q and A afterwards both the verbal and non-verbal engagement will be vital.  In meetings, pitches, and interviews getting the balance between active listening and speaking in an engaging way will mean that you have presence.  Both Professors Antonakis and Kanter are spot on.

 

 

 

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How to Pitch in the Middle East

Here’s a short video I’ve put together to give you:

5 Top Tips to Win Pitches in the Middle East

…after a client of mine was struggling to win business in Abu Dhabi.

Tip no. 4 came as a shock to him:  I might as well have said, “Richard (not his real name!), take your head off and throw it down the drain.”  However, he adapted and…well, you’ll hear what happened.

So ‘Hadi!’, ‘Yellah!’, Let’s go!

See you in the comments…

names

Presenting…you? Who WAS that?

‘I can’t remember names’ 

 

Speech developed long after body language and it is our non-verbal signals that enabled our ancestors to work out whether they could trust their spears to another or whether they might find themselves roasted over a fire.

Reading body language was literally life or death and allowed our forbears to assess mood and intention.

This is why when you meet someone for the first time, your brain is flooded with unconscious business, crushing brain data, received by non-verbal language, often blanking out the words themselves within the first few seconds (although not the intonation).

Scientists have measured the flood of this data at 400 million bits of data per second. Quite how they measured it is beyond me but suffice to say, with all that code coming through, it’s no wonder why we can’t remember names.

‘How rude! You never introduced yourself!’

So what would be the point of saying your name within the first minute of a presentation?As a presenter, the only action you need to take within the first minute, is to catch the attention of the audience, and only then do you need to introduce yourself. That’s exactly what you do in a conversation. Just in case there are any doubts that this would work, think back:Have you ever started talking to someone you’ve never met before and, having realised, you have no means to address them, then you ask their names?

If ‘yes’, think again: did you think, at any point in the conversation, ‘How rude! You never introduced yourself to me!’?  I guess you didn’t. That’s because you caught each others’ attention and had already assessed a mutual liking. By this point, you’d be more likely to remember their names because your brain would have pulled in and interpreted many of the initial non-verbal patterns.This is what you’d do in a presentation: grab someone’s attention, engage, then introduce yourself.This is why forgetting names, doesn’t mean you’re getting old, have a bad memory or some kind of brain block. You’re human and you’re not attuned to automatically remember someone’s name before you’ve worked out whether they’re a friend or foe.

How to ensure that your name is in their heads

1. Environment:

Your audience won’t remember their own names, let alone yours if they’re hungry, hot, need the toilet or feel unsafe or a time restriction. An example of this is when I presented in Turkey, in 40 degrees in an unventilated room in August. Before I started, I had to make sure that water was brought into the room and the windows were open.Sounds simple but many presenters forget that a) you can stage manage your space b) people won’t be listening to your inspiring talk when they’re dehydrating.The key to engagement is having your audiences’ basic needs sorted out beforehand.


2. Spice Rack:

 Start with one of the twelve attention grabbers that I have on my Spice Rack, before you say your name. Examples are* an anecdote – this can last for the entire presentation or just a sentence of it.* show a picture – or use visual language to describe something* use a prop – this can be a product or any other piece of realia.


3. What you do, not what your are:

Talk about What You Do, not just your Job Title

Example 1: My name is Dan and I’m a Senior Manager at 87Steps Software. – This does not tell anyone what you do!

Example 2: My name is Dan and I run the sales analysis team for 87Steps Software – This does tell people what you do!

Simple. See the difference?  Note: when you’re meeting people, pick Example 2.

You’re more likely to find opportunities with this than with the Example 1.

Maybe it is because of this propensity to forget names at the first instant, we invented ‘small talk’.  However, you decide to introduce yourself in a social situation, take the pressure of yourself and comment on the chocolate mousse, or the freezing cold, or the speaker: anything but your name. In a presentation, use the spice or adjust the environment. That way, you’re more likely to remember the names of others and they’ll remember yours.

Maddy

‘You’re a fake: you’ll go far’

Stress levels and power poses

Maddy

Strike that pose!

 

Amy Cuddy a social psychologist lecturing at Harvard Business School, has proven that you can fake it until you become it.  In experiments conducted with Dana Carney, she proved that striking ‘power poses’ for just 2 minutes before an interview, can increase the projection of self-confidence and the chances of being hired.  This is basically how the experiment went:

1)    Subjects had to prepare a 5 minute presentation about their dream job before a job interview, in which they were to be evaluated, filmed and hired on the strength of how they appeared on camera.  At this point, some people develop shingles…

2)    They then had to convince 2 evaluators why they thought they were suited to this dream job without lying or misrepresentation.  If you think this is stressful, hold on, it gets worse.

3)    The evaluators were trained to show no non-verbal expression.  This would usually spike the stress hormone, cortisol.  For many, this is like sinking in ‘social quicksand’;

4)    The interview was filmed and watched by two further evaluators who assessed the performance of the interviewees, or masochists, whichever term you find more accurate.

Interviewee Preparation:

5)    Apart from the requirement of remaining conscious throughout, the interviewees prepared the speech and were then split into two groups.  There was the control group and one that performed 2 minute ‘power posing exercises’, holding 2 such postures for a total of 180 seconds.

All exercises were performed before the interview, rather so that interviewees weren’t labelled insane…

Findings

Those that were chosen by the evaluators, who were totally unaware of the interviewee preparation and control group, were those that stuck the power poses before the meeting.  Now, that doesn’t mean that the power posers walked in like cowboys or Wonderwomen.  What happened was that they simply manifested a comfort in their own skin, and real zest.

It is these latter two factors, that further research has shown, that are the sole qualities that can win pitches.  Content matters of course, but it pales into less significance in the presence of a lack of awkwardness and the presence of enthusiasm.

What this means for your Pitches, Presentations and Interviews:

Preparing for even 2 minutes before a pitch, presentation or interview can change your behaviour.  Here’s how you do it:

  1. Before an interview: stand up in the waiting room.  Moving around will help with the nerves and when you’re being fetched, you’re not peering over your I-Phone, hunched and looking up like an abandoned puppy, but you are literally and metaphorically on the same level as your interviewer, from the start.
  2. Ensuring that you do a posture check, checking that you’re shoulder are low, back straight, eyes straight ahead and torso open will make you feel more confident than when you’re hunched and looking down.
  3. Space, power and status are related:a)  in a presentation, you can control your nerves rather than have them control you simply by moving around.  This releases energy, ridding you of shaky voice, hands and legs, as well as projecting an appearance of self-assurance.  Weirdly enough, you start to feel that self-assurance.b)  in an interview, pressing yourself against the desk like in the picture below can make you feel like you’re in combat with the interviewer.

    officechairanddesk
    It can also give your the appearance of a school child hauled up in front of the head teacher.   Your breathing will also more likely to be around the chest area, which generates adrenalin, making it more difficult to control nerves and shakiness in the voice and body:

    The position below will help you to breath deeper, giving you a steadiness and confidence:officechairanddesk2You’ll also have the room to be more physically expressive, avoiding whacking the desk when you need to use gesture.  For panel interviews, simply move the chair back further from the table for the same reason and so that you don’t have to turn your head 180 degrees like some horror film puppet in order to address the panel. And lastly….

  4. Smile.  Even a fake smile, such as the one you make when you hold a pencil between your teeth, will generate serotonin, the feel-good hormone.  It also gives your voice a lift when speaking so you sound more upbeat as well.  Instant feedback to which you and others will react.

 

These small tweaks will create big changes in your behaviour, which in turn, will create different outcomes, so your body language can, in the most subtle of ways, change your life.

For more information and illustrations of power poses, see Amy Cuddy’s 17 minute video below.  At 11:11 mins, she talks about the interview experiment.

showmemoney

Punchy Persuasion in a Tick!

 

Forget the money!  Show me your PROEP!

Forget the money! Show me your PROEP!

Question:

I’ve got to persuade my boss to follow a strategy in a meeting that’s coming up.  How can I persuade him quickly that what we need to do is a good idea?

Answer:

Go for the PROEP Model of persuasion

Proposal (Outline):  We need to bring in more Sales people alongside the Tech teams for Calypso.

Reasons (3 max!):  We’ll have easier access to a large market.

Objections (inc. cost, time, effort.  Remember to build in a way of countering those objections):  I understand that the upfront costs may seem off-putting.  Although many of our teams are great on-site, they’re not up-selling and cross-selling at the rate we’d like.  We’d get more business with less hassle with a specialist or two.  

I know that many Sales people brush the IT teams up the wrong way but with someone who’s got a proven record at winning business in our sector and sells our skills accurately, we’d see profits without the pain.  I can get in touch with xxxx Recruitment that could find just the right people for us.

Evidence: [Our Competitor] has had a dedicated team just selling Murex services to the finance sector.  Although they started 8 months ago, they’ve seen xxxx% profit in the last 6 months.

Proposal: So, in my view, taking on more Business Development expertise could potentially double our profits within half a year.

Just a note about ‘Evidence’:  This depends on how any one individual tends to be persuaded.  Consider that any of the following points could be evidence:

  1. Something similar you’ve achieved before;
  2. Something someone else has achieved before;
  3. Statistics: projected or otherwise.
  4. The sight of something – a picture/walkabout etc
  5. Pointing out what can be avoided or what can be gained by following a particular course of action.

There are more but this will cover most persuasive arguments.

Making a suggestion which shows recognition of any objections and how you could counter them will fend off much of the hesitation to proceed and allow you to put a plan into action quicker.

Do you have any specific objections to a proposal, which you can’t think how to counter? 

Let me see if I can help you. 

Just add the query (or comment) below…

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