In more normal times a Presidential Award would be an impressive credential – pure and simple.
Yet when the speaker’s introduction specified his award came from “President Barack Obama,” the man in the row ahead folded his arms and angrily said: “He just lost me!” Had the introduction read: “President Donald Trump” it seems safe to suggest that someone else’s arms would have folded and a similar comment made.
Late night comics can get political. They will lose some, but gain others. Business speakers don’t have that luxury.
Unless your presentation is directly related to politics, the best rule for now is: Don’t go near what has become The Third Rail of Business Presenting.
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Knowing how and when to hit the reset button is an often over-looked skill that is critical to the craft of public speaking.
Have you ever sat in an audience where the speaker wasn’t connecting – not because the content was off, but because the speaker’s energy level was out of sync with the audience’s?
We were – last week. It was a magic show complete with lighting, levitation, and illusions. The magician was a larger than life performer, with tone, gestures, and pacing identical to the show he does in Las Vegas. The performance should have been a home run, but it wasn’t.
The issue? The show wasn’t in Vegas. It was at a retirement community we were visiting where an 8:00 PM show start time is considered “a little late”. The audience, full from its’ pre-show dinner, was stone cold sober in all senses of the word. Yet, the magician played with Vegas-like energy. He couldn’t dial it down to meet the audience, establish connection, and lift them up. It was an epic fail because he couldn’t hit the reset button.
If this happened to you, could you press the reset button?
In our speaker coaching programs, we train presenters to rehearse solutions to disaster scenarios.
Two options for hitting the reset button for you to practice:
Scenario 1: There’s a delta between your energy and the audience’s:
Pause, look at the audience, and shift your tone so it’s just above their’s. Then bring them up as quickly as they can accept.
Scenario 2: The content you’re presenting isn’t resonating:
Notice you’re out of sync and change it up. Shift your body position, darken the PowerPoint, pause for a beat and say something like “you know, let’s just talk.” Then relax and have a conversation.
The single most important thing to remember:
Pay attention to the audience’s tone level and adjust yours as needed.
Be observant. If there’s a sudden coughing outbreak spreading throughout the room, extra light from cell phone screens, or people sneaking out of the room, hit the reset button to re-engage your audience and re-track your presentation.
Learn how to hit your reset button at The Speaking Intensive℠. Get 18 hours of coaching with us in a small group setting for half the cost of our private coaching retainer. Register for the April 27-28 small group coaching session to join us. Save money by taking advantage of the early registration discount before it ends on March 3rd, if the session isn’t sold out by then.
Google “How to Present to Multi-Generations” and you’ll see a results list containing loads of information on managing, engaging and motivating. In financial services and other industries, mastering the challenge of successfully presenting ideas, concepts and data in a relatable way to online slots generations different from our own is paramount to professional and financial growth.
While he makes many strong points, we have a little different take when it comes to how to present successfully to multi-generations. Our entry-point:
Learn about their humor.
Ask people in other generations to tell you jokes and funny stories they would only tell each other. The ones only they understand. You may not understand. Ask them to explain it to you. That explanation will likely give you insights into their lives, attitudes, and points of view.
You don’t have to think it was funny when George Burns said this, but you have to know why it‘s funny. This quip humorously describes the beginning of the aging process … a valuable entry point into that generation’s basis of thought.
Older presenting to younger:
“I’m Morrisette depressed not Van Gogh depressed.”
“You give me one leather jacket, I invest it, then give you back TWO leather jackets!” – Fonzi Scheme
You don’t have to think these lines from 22-year-old comedienne Shelby Fero are funny but you ought to know why.
If you don’t know what makes someone laugh, you don’t fully understand their thinking, feelings, or cultural context.
From baby boomer through Generations X and Y to Millenials, understanding generational humor will go a long way to helping you present successfully to multi-generations. Humor is your way in.
Did you find this helpful? Learn more techniques for crafting and delivering presentations that move audiences to action at The Speaking Intensive℠. You’ll get 18 hours of coaching with us in a small group setting for half the cost of our private coaching retainer. It’s a no-brainer! Register for a group session below.
There are two types of speakers in this world: those who get nervous and those who are liars.
… Mark Twain
At The Speaking Intensive℠ one of the first topics we work with is how to manage nerves when speaking. While we explore many different strategies, this blog highlights 2 of them.
To keep ourselves in good speaking shape, we work out with a trainer. A former pro-football player, he’s taller than either of us can jump and wider than both of us standing shoulder to shoulder. Our trainer, let’s call him “Iron Man”, is fierce. Imagine our surprise when, after a tough workout, Ironman shyly said –
“You train speakers and I have to speak in front of audiences. It terrifies me. What can I do about overcoming nerves before speaking?”
Interesting comment from an NFL player.
Lisa’s response to Ironman:
“You can’t overcome nerves … and why would you want to? Remember the nervousness you felt before a big game when you were about to take the field? Did you run away? No!
Those nerves energized you. Made you even more determined. You trusted your training and preparation. You focused on doing your job.
The same goes for managing nerves when speaking. It’s the same thing!”
Boxing? He stepped in the ring with Archie Moore, a world light-heavyweight champion. Football? He trained with the Detroit Lions. Comedy? He did standup at Caesar’s Palace. Music? In what for him was the scariest moment, he ‘crashed the cymbals’ for Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.
Plimpton was struck by the similarity in the nervous energy all kinds of performers had before they went on.
Bottom line: Successful performers come to know that nervousness is the fuel of a great performance.
If you’re nervous before you speak, reframe it as energy and aliveness. Then go out and do your job … what you know to do … what you’ve been trained to do.”
How does Lisa manage nerves before speaking?
“Back in the skating days, I’d throw up before a performance. No Nerves … No Nausea … Bad Skate”.
Today Lisa still gets nervous but has replaced the spewing with physical activity to make nerves work for her. Jumping jacks, air-boxing and yogic breathing wring out the frenetic nay-saying nerves and make space for the crucial productive nerves that fuel her presentations.
Alan Parisse, Hall of Fame speaker, named One of the Top 21 Speakers for the 21st Century doesn’t get nervous, right?
“Wrong. This duck is paddling hard under the water.
I get nervous but don’t let that little voice in back of my head talk me down. I thank the voice for it’s opinion but don’t buy in. Instead, I trust my preparation and use those nerves to fuel my presentation.”
There are many strategies for managing nerves when speaking. Start with these 2 and you’ll be on your way!
Get physical! Convert sabotaging nerves into nerves that fuel your performance.
Don’t buy into “the voice”. Instead trust your preparation.
Learn more techniques for managing nerves when speaking and so much more at The Speaking Intensive℠. You’ll get 18 hours of coaching with us in a small group setting for half the cost of our private coaching retainer.
It’s a no-brainer! Register for a group session below.
What is the #1 best way to present from behind the lectern? Take a half-step back. One that is wide enough to put some distance between the lectern and you, yet close enough to maintain visual contact with your notes and vocal contact with the microphone, unless you are wearing one.
Since we intuitively knew to step back from the lectern, Lisa and I thought this was an inconsequential piece of knowledge everyone knew. Then came a series of wholesaler trainings for a large global financial services firm. They came to us a coaches’ dream team: strong, well-trained presenters who wanted to get even better. Yet something seemed to fall apart when the lectern was introduced. As Lisa was working with their choreography behind the lectern, one of our participants shouted out “take a half-step back”. SHAZAAM! It all became clear … and it works.
Taking a half-step back is absolutely the #1 best way to present from behind a lectern because it gives you the best of both worlds: the credibility that can come from being behind the lectern and having room to gesture and move.
Two Common Pitfalls of Presenting Behind a Lectern:
The Crutch: Lecterns are often used as a place for nervous speakers to hide. In The Speaking Intensive presenter development program, we work to bring speakers out from behind the lectern so they gain the comfort and experience necessary to have a choice about when to most effectively in front of a room.
The Hate: “I never go behind the lectern. I hate them.” Ok, but what will you do if there is no choice and you are stuck behind one? How about if the situation is sufficiently grave or consequential that you need a place to put your detailed notes or a script?
3 Mistakes Lectern Presenters Make:
Stepping back will also help cure common mistakes presenters make behind a lectern.
The Hug: If you’ve ever witnessed “the hug”, then you know what I’m talking about. The presenter’s arms placed on either side of the lectern, elbows out, as if latching on to a long lost friend. Huggers appear hunched over, somehow weakened.
The Death Grip: Is a description really necessary here? Gripping the lectern until your knuckles turn white is not compelling to an audience. If the audience isn’t engaged, the sweaty imprint of your hand is all that will be left as evidence you were ever there.
Dancing Feet: Speaking is a full body sport. That’s obviously true when you are standing clear of the lectern, and it is also true behind a lectern. A sloppy stance will sap your credibility even when the audience can’t see your lower body. They will sense something is not quite right, but won’t know why.
Each of these correctable conditions chips away at your credibility and can cause the audience to disconnect. No matter how compelling your presentation may be, audiences won’t fully buy-in if your body doesn’t support your message.
A “SHORT” NOTE:
If you are as short as I am, find something to stand on. I’ve used a milk crate (shaky), a commercial dishwasher glass rack (more stable – but not suitable for some shoes) and anything else I could find. You want to see the audience and for them to see you. You certainly don’t want them wondering where that voice is coming from.
Sure, lecterns are kind of old school, but they add an aura of authority to you and your message and can even be an effective tool when used correctly. Presenters who learn how to leverage the lectern increase their range of audience connection.
Join us at The Speaking Intensive. Presenters from The Chicago Bulls, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Allianz, LPL, Rockwell Collins and 40 other firms already have. Now it’s your turn. Just 1 seat left in the August session. Catch the early registration discount for the October session!
In The Speaking Intensive, Lisa and I have seen noticed a trend of using a new non-word to start a presentation, link presentation segments and fill pauses. Move over “UH”, “UM” & “AH”. “SO” is in the house!
While “SO” obviously has legitimate uses as a conjunction and even as an adverb and an adjective, it’s misuse is rampant.
Here’s the funny part: within two sentences of my having pointed it out to last week’s participants in The Speaking Intensive, I did it myself. Then I did it again.