5 Easy Tips for Presenting In Real Life

Our workplaces are opening back up and in-person meetings are following suit.

Presenting in real life will likely feel strange at first. Even those who thrive on in-person meetings are finding that “normal does not quite feel like normal.”

After delivering their first presentations in real life, some of our clients felt overwhelmed and exhausted. They hadn’t prepared … and it showed.

Here are 5 easy tips to help you become real life ready:

  1. Practice. Use your old friend Zoom to record a practice run of your presentation. Watch the recording and course correct as needed. Then make your first audience a friendly one. Assemble a few family members or friends and ask for feedback about how you appear and sound while presenting.
  2. Do less. In the excitement of returning to in-person presenting, the tendency is to deliver too much content. Audiences disconnect when overloaded. Leave them wanting more.
  3. Be mindful of your vocal pacing. In your enthusiasm to present in front of an in-person audience, you may find yourself speaking warp speed fast. If this happens, simply pause, take a breath while glancing up or down, then restart at a slower pace.
  4. Avoid awkward moments by deciding in advance how you are going to relate to others before and after the presentation. For example, will you shake hands, bump elbows, or just nod?
  5. Understand the audience is making an adjustment, too. Acknowledge the elephant in the room. One idea is to open with a quip: ask everyone to mute themselves and turn their video cameras on. Then smile.

Bonus tip:

After 14 months of virtual presenting, make certain you pay attention to what you wear below the waist!

Is This Our Time?


It feels premature to say it, but this may just be Our Time!

This may be Our Time – not despite the enormous challenges facing our personal well-being and our healthcare, economic, and political systems – but because of those challenges. History shows that great accomplishments require something to push against and we suddenly have more than our share.

Of course, it doesn’t feel like Our Time. This is tough! Reactions thus far have ranged from head-in-the-sand denial to hoarding toilet paper and hiding. It’s understandable. We’re human.

Perhaps the best thing we can do right now is stay as active and connected as possible as we shelter in place. Alright, but then what?

Do we keep hiding? Do we attack each other? Or do we accept the challenge, support our companions, colleagues & clients, and move forward together?

The choice is ours. Let’s hope we choose well.


1 Essential Tip for Presenting in the Twitterverse

Alan Parisse Presenting in the TwitterverseAudiences are more distracted and impatient than ever. They expect much more in a lot less time. How do you make sure your message is remembered in the age of the Twitterverse?

1 Essential Tip

Eliminate the filler!

Imagine two key audience members arrive late for your presentation – just as the rest of your audience is leaving. The late-comers ask “What did the speaker say?” What do you want the answer to be?

The audience will replay your talk in their heads and sum it up in a sentence or two. Think about the replay as a tweet-able moment. Review your script, asking the question: “Would anyone tweet that?” Then start editing out most if not all of the filler.

3 Filler Examples:

1. “It’s great to be here in (city name).” – Does anyone really care where you are? Delete this verbiage and move on to your Twitter-worthy content.

2. “What we are going to talk about today is …” – Audiences are wired for roadmaps, but would you actually tweet one? Break from the norm; move away from the expected and cut to the chase.

3. “I’m going to tell you a story.” – Eliminate the set up and dive right into the telling of the story.

Learn more about presenting in the Twitterverse at The Speaking IntensiveRegister for the next small group session on February 28 & March 1 before it’s sold out!

7 Ways to Present in a 5-Minute Huddle

Alan Parisse 5 Minute Meetings

5-minute “huddles” are the new meeting trend. As Sue Shellenbarger reported in The Wall Street Journal (11/08/2017), “Long-winded monologues and Power Points are out. There is no room for small talk.” … Meetings are all about “distilling … ideas and requests to … the equivalent of an elevator pitch.

Stories generate ideas, buy-in and support. They create connection, curate relationships and bring about action. Yet short meetings squelch them.

In a 5-minute huddle, traditionally well presented stories take too long. If only there was a way to tell stories in a fraction of the time and make them more powerful in the process. There is!

Here are 7 ways to present in a 5-minute huddle:

  1. Cut set up: Don’t waste words on throw away set ups like “Let me tell you a story”. Instead, jump right in and tell the story.
  2. Follow the comedy writers rule of thumb: Tell them everything they need to know to get the punch line – in this case, the essence of your story – and nothing more.
  3. Re-Engineer Your Message℠: Borrow a technique from our advanced coaching program. Record yourself rehearsing and have the story transcribed. Then cut 20 to 50%.
  4. Leave blanks: Leave out some details and let your listeners fill in the blanks. This has the added benefit of making them participants in your story rather than mere spectators. Participants are engaged; spectators aren’t.
  5. Tell purposeful stories: Find stories that make a substantive point.
  6. Think Super Bowl ad: If you’d paid for 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl, what would you say?
  7. Don’t bury the potent parts: Understand the difference between an incident and a story.

That last one needs explaining.

Incidents are “units of experience” – the human reactions that contain the essence of a story. While a story’s details tend to be unique, incidents have a near universal appeal. They are the parts of your story to which listeners are most likely to connect to their own life and remember.

For example, the specifics of your car accident are yours alone. However, the emotions that flowed the instant you realized an accident was unavoidable … that “oh blank” moment … is something to which almost everyone can relate to some kind of event in their life.

When an audience identifies with your incidents, your stories become their stories, too. So don’t bury your incidents in too much detail.

Here’s the best part: stories tend to be long winded. Incidents are sound bites.

If you’ve been to The Speaking Intensive℠, not only do you know the difference between and “incident” and a “story,” the concept is so familiar that you can jump right into an incident blindfolded!

There’s a lot to be said for shortening meetings. When you become a more efficient storyteller, you will do a lot when presenting in a 5-minute huddle.

Join the legions of people who already know how to differentiate between an incident and a story by participating in The Speaking Intensive℠. Register for the next small group session on February 8 & 9 before the early registration discount ends on January 5.

Already graduated from The Speaking Intensive℠ and want to participate again? Email us for your special repeater rate.

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Connect with Alan and Lisa on LinkedIn!

Are Women Judged More Harshly by the Way They Speak?

Are Women Judged More Harshly by the Way They Speak?

Are women leaders and business professionals judged by the way they speak? If you’re answer is no, think again.

Female presenters are held to a different, often more stringent, set of criteria than their male counterparts. Remember the last time you heard a soft-spoken female presenter? Did you question her credibility and tune out? What about the one who was monotone? Did you wonder about her grasp of the subject? And “talk about” the fast-talkers? When female presenters speak faster than their audience can process, they risk a high audience drop rate. It’s just too much work to follow along.

Here are some common yet easily correctable pitfalls we’ve worked through with clients at The Speaking Intensive℠ based on Lisa’s observations, expertise, and perspective.


If you fall into the fast-talker category, here’s a quick and effective tip to slow down your vocal pace. Stand with your arms reaching toward the sky. Lock your elbows. Reach your fingers straight up and send your energy out through your fingertips. Maintaining that position, give your presentation. Odds are you will slow down. When you slow down, it will probably feel like you are speaking much too slowly. It’s almost certain you aren’t. For fast-talkers, slowing the vocal pace down even little bit will go a long way.

Tonal Quality

Remember your first date with someone you really liked? Recall how you answered those first few questions. Was it in a higher pitched voice than your norm? Did it feel like it came straight out of your head?

Think back to your relationship months later. With the first date “interview questions” in the rear view mirror, what did your voice sound like? Chances are it was coming from a place lower in your body.

When you’re speaking, work to bring your first date head voice lower down to your navel. We’ve developed an interesting method for training this tonal transition. In a practice surrounding, begin delivering your talk. Work to transition your tone by pacing around the room, marching in place, or any other physical move of your choosing. Once the tone has transitioned, cease the physical movement and continue on. With practice, you’ll find that you can automatically transition tonal quality simply by being aware and dropping down to your lower register.

Body Position

Have you ever seen a presenter extend a hip to one side or another as if balancing a heavy bag? One of our workshop participants who had this issue labeled this position “mommy hip” because she spent time carrying toddlers. Whatever you call it, in front of an audience this position doesn’t convey confidence.

Remember: Speaking is a full body sport. In The Speaking Intensive℠ we focus on moving and gesturing from a confident, fully aligned, ready position. To achieve this ready position, try working from the feet up to your head as follows:

  • Stand with your feet slightly narrower than hip distance apart.
  • Shift your weight from the front of your feet or your heel to between the ball of your feet and arch.
  • Soften your knees.
  • Pull your navel slightly back toward your spine.
  • Roll your shoulders slightly back and down.
  • Elongate your neck as if someone is pulling up on a string that is attached to the crown of your head.
  • Drop your arms so they hang loosely at your sides, as our bodies were designed.
  • Relax your jaw and tongue.
  • Blink a few times.
  • Take some even breaths.

You are ready!

The Economist focused its June 16, 2016 on female speakers in their “War of Words” article “Women Are Judged by the Way They Speak”. While the article uses politics as the playing field, the aptly landed points pertain to almost all arenas of speaking. Read the article here.

If you’re judged by the way you speak, the benefit of keeping your audience tuned in is important. If you’re a woman, the stakes can be higher. Remove as many destractions as possible so your message is the focus of the audience.

Let us help you with this and more on October 26 & 27 at The Speaking Intensive℠. Click here to get your seat before the early registration discount ends on August 15! You’ll receive 2 full days of coaching with us for half the cost of our private coaching retainer.

Already graduated from The Speaking Intensive℠ and want to participate again? Email us for your special repeater rate.

Did you find this post helpful? Click here to see more.

Connect with Alan and Lisa on LinkedIn!

1 Way to Short-Circuit Presentation Nerves

Alan Parisse Short-Circuit Nerves When Presenting

Winner or Loser? It all depends on how you edit.

At The Speaking Intensive the most common answer to the question: What do you like least about speaking? is Nerves.

One way to help short-circuit presentation nerves … AVOID THE LOSER EDIT.

Urban Dictionary defines Loser Edit as “…when most or all of the footage seen of a particular contestant on a competitive reality show is aimed toward making that contestant seem inept, flustered, and generally in over his or her head.”

It works like this: Reality show producers shoot miles of footage before their show airs. That means they can select clips that can turn most any contestant into a fan favorite or villain. By doing a Loser Edit producers can make a contestant the #$@&! that viewers are glad to see eliminated or mad to see win.

A few weeks after learning about the Loser Edit, it hit me: I could tell my own life story as an outrageous success or dismal failure. All I have to do is selectively edit.

How about you?

What does this have to do with delivering presentations?

A lot.

All too many presenters do a Loser Edit on themselves before they speak. That’s a sure-fire way to destroy or diminish the impact of your presentations.

At The Speaking Intensive  many participants tell us they are nervous at the start of a presentation, but once they get going, they are ok. Why? Could it be that once they move through the first segment of their talk that little voice in back of their heads stops repeating their self-imposed Loser Edit?

If presentation nerves is your pain point, do the opposite. Start with a Winner Edit. Instead of focusing on failures, revisit successful moments in your life that will provide the fortification necessary to short-circuit your nerves so you can focus your attention on the audience.

Let us help you with this and more at The Speaking Intensive . Register for the next small group session on July 13 & 14 before the early registration discount ends on May 31!

Connect with Alan and Lisa on LinkedIn!