By Ben Decker
Even the strongest speakers can undercut a whole presentation with three seconds of wobbly indecision at the end. Those few seconds amount to the last impression you leave with your audience – it’s the last picture people will remember of you. You’ve spent your whole presentation building credibility for yourself and your idea, and that last impression has everything to do with how you hold yourself.
Watch your nonverbal behavior and body language. Not even a line like Patrick Henry’s, “Give me liberty…!” can bail you out if you act nervous, disgusted, insincere, or hurried. Here are six essential don’ts for ending your presentation.
1. Never blackball yourself
…with a critical grimace, a shake of the head, eyes rolled upward, a disgusted little sigh. So what if you’re displeased with yourself? Don’t insult your audience by letting them know you were awful; they probably thought you were pretty good. One lip curl in those last three seconds can wreck 30 minutes of credibility-building. Keep a light smile on your face, and you can grimace at the mirror in the bathroom later if you want.
2. Don’t step backwards
If anything, take a half-step toward your listeners at the end. Stepping back is a physical retreat, and audiences subconsciously pick up on this cue. While you’re at it, don’t step back verbally, either. Softening your voice and trailing off toward the end obviously doesn’t sound confident. Maintain your strong vocal projection, annunciation, and pitch variety. You need to end with a bang, not a whimper.
3. Don’t look away
Some speakers harken back to the last visual-aid or PowerPoint slide, as if for reinforcement. Some people look aside, unwilling to confront listeners dead in the eye at the last words. Murmuring thank you while staring off somewhere else isn’t the last impression you want to leave. Maintain good eye communication throughout.
4. Don’t leave your hands in a gestured position
In our programs, we recommend using the resting ready position (arms gently at the sides) at the end to physically signal your audience you’re finished. You must let them go visually, in addition to the closing remarks you’re making. If you keep your hands up at waist level, you look as if you have something more to say. In speaking, think of yourself as the gracious host or hostess as you drop your hands with an appreciative thank you.
5. Don’t rush to collect your papers
Or visual aids, or displays. Stop and chat with people if the meeting is breaking up, then begin to tidy up in a calm, unhurried manner. Otherwise, you may contradict your calm, confident demeanor as a presenter. Behavioral cues are being picked up by your audience throughout the entire presentation experience, even during post-presentation. If you sit down and grimace or huff and puff, listeners notice that, too.
6. Don’t move on the last word
Plant your feet and hold still for a half-beat after the you in thank you. Think about adding some lightness and smile with your thank you to show your comfort and ease. You don’t want to look anxious to get out of there. If anything, you want to let people know you’ve enjoyed being with them and are sorry you have to go. Don’t rush off.
Paying attention your behaviors at the end of your presentation, whether formal at the lectern or informal standing at a meeting, will project the confidence and credibility you seek. Has anyone seen some of these behaviors in action? What are your thoughts?
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Back to basics: 10 tips from Toastmasters International
Posted by Moe Davis
Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and even beneficial, but too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here are some
proven tips on how to control your butterflies and give better presentations:
- Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more
about it than you include in your speech. Use humor, personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
- Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary. Work to control filler words; Practice, pause and breathe. Practice with a timer and allow time for the unexpected.
- Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
- Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
- Relax. Begin by addressing the audience. It buys you time and calms your nerves. Pause, smile and count to three before saying anything. (“One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand. Pause. Begin.) Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
- Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
- Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They’re rooting for you.
- Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
- Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
- Gain experience. Mainly, your speech should represent you — as an authority and as a person. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need in a safe and friendly environment.
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This is a good article by: Andrew Dlugan
Food and Drink Do’s and Taboos for Speakers
Like much of the advice given on Six Minutes, you must adapt the guidance in this article to your own personal situation. Every speaker has different digestive habits, and what works for one speaker may not work for another. The key is to realize that your performance can be impacted by your diet.
That being said, here are a few general guidelines:
- On the day of your presentation (or perhaps the day before if you are speaking first thing in the morning), practice moderation. You should not consume too much, nor too little, because both extremes can leave you ill — and that’s going to degrade your delivery.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything new, as you never know when your body might react badly to an unfamiliar ingredient. Beware of spicy and rich foods. This is a common affliction to speakers who travel to their speaking opportunities.
- Avoid eating a particularly heavy meal an hour or two before you speak. It is ironic that the process of digestion requires a great deal of energy. Thus, your body tends to be lethargic at this time. This can have a distinct negative effect on your gestures and overall energy level.
- Avoid alcohol entirely before speaking. While (I hope) it is common sense not to get drunk, I also recommend avoiding alcohol entirely before you speak. Even a small amount can impair your cognitive abilities, something which you need to be at peak efficiency. Don’t follow the advice that encourages a drink or two “to calm your nerves.” While it may calm your nerves, it will also have a negative effect on your judgment… and that’s always a bad thing with a microphone in your hand.
- Avoid dairy and other mucous-producing foods. These tend to build up mucous in your throat, promoting repeated (and distracting) clearing of your throat. Some speakers have also told me that soft drinks or other sugary drinks have the same negative effect.
- Avoid diuretics, notably caffeine drinks (coffee, tea, soft drinks) and alcohol. Before and during your speech, you want to be comfortable, and you don’t need this distraction.
- Some speakers avoid ice cold beverages; some swear off hot beverages. In both cases, the rationale is that it negatively affects your vocal comfort. The lesson is that you should develop self-awareness of what works for you.
- Drink water. I’m a huge believer that nothing is better for your voice (and, your overall health) than drinking lots of water. Ensure that you stay well-hydrated the day you speak. It’s also a good idea to keep a bottle of water nearby while you speak. Not only will it help you remedy a dry mouth, but the act of taking a drink is a good opportunity for you to pause, transition, and check your notes discretely.
- Some speakers adhere to strict habits about eating a certain food before every presentation they give. For example, one speaker I know eats a banana about half an hour before every presentation. As long as you keep it light, I don’t see much harm in calming yourself with a small indulgence.
Speak well, and enjoy a treat… after you finish!
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This is a portion of an article by Marjorie Brody.
Jan 9th, 2011
Aristotle said that all speaking is persuasive speaking.
I agree. After all, who am I to argue with Aristotle?!?
Regardless of the venue (10 people or 1,000 people, a conference, a sales call, or a feedback session), we, as speakers, are always trying to sell our credibility and value – not to mention our ideas. Hence, all speaking is persuasive.
Unfortunately, all too often presenters think they are “just giving information.” “Information” is often better delivered in written form, giving the audience time to digest and think about the material.
Just think for a minute how much time would be saved if people read the material in advance, and the group time was spent answering questions.
That being said, presenting information in a way that shows passion and enthusiasm not only makes the material more interesting, but the speaker more memorable and inspirational – even persuasive.
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Excellent article by Andrew Dlugan:
How to Rehearse Your Speech
“Rehearsing even one time will improve your confidence in your material.”
You might practice for 60 hours. You might practice for 60 minutes. Either way, here are a few tips that will help you achieve maximum benefit from time spent rehearsing:
- Re-create the speech setting
Reading your speech at a desk (or from your computer screen) is not optimal unless you are preparing for a webcast. Try to duplicate the speech setting as much as you can.
- Practice in the room where you’ll be speaking, if you can.
- Stand up. You get more realistic voice projection.
- Rehearse with props and visual aids.
- Arrange an audience. Practicing with an audience is better than practicing without one… even if it is not your target audience.
- Consider what you will wear when your speech will be delivered. Will it add complications? Inhibit gestures or movement in any way?
- Take notes
Don’t hesitate to stop yourself in the middle of your rehearsal to jot down ideas as they come to you. Capture internal feelings immediately.
Try out different voices, gestures, or staging. This is especially important for your opening, conclusion, and any other key points. Give yourself confidence knowing that these lines will be delivered precisely as you intended.
- Time yourself
You can easily do this yourself, but it helps if someone else can time you. Insert planned pauses, and insert delays when you expect laughter or some other audience response. This may feel funny, but an accurate timing estimate will tell you if you need to do more editing.
- Use all that you learn to edit your speech and make it better.
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This is an interesting article by Lucy Craft (edited so this blog is not long and rambling). It makes many good points that should be considered when preparing a speech or presentation!
It’s the bane of students, business people and even the military: If you’ve ever yawned through a slideshow, you’re probably familiar with that dreaded malady of modern times, known as “Death by PowerPoint.”
Now, for the long-suffering audience, there’s some good news. Tokyo architects Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein hit on the antidote to presentation overload — a style they dubbed pecha-kucha, Japanese for “chitchat” — and their elegant solution is taking the world by storm.
Dytham and Klein are easygoing by nature, but if there’s one thing they can’t stand it’s slideshows full of hot air. So when the pair staged a forum featuring the work of their architect friends, they laid down one rule as simple as it was extreme.
“The problem with architects is they talk too much. So how could we find a way to stop them? You get passionate about whatever you’re talking about and you go on forever and ever — so we came up with 20 slides, 20 seconds a slide,” he says. He says 10 slides, 10 seconds per slide was too short and 30 slides, 30 seconds per slide was too long.
“We were trying to find a catchy 5 minutes or so for the architect to present,” he says.
With speakers allotted a draconian 6 minutes and 40 seconds each, Dytham and Klein were able to pack 20 speeches — or rather, speechlets — into a single evening. Klein named these curious events after a quaint old Japanese onomatopoeia.
Pecha-Kucha Goes Viral
At first, pecha-kucha (pronounced: peh-CHAKH-cha) was purely local. But then, something strange happened. Without any prompting or publicity, and to the astonishment of its founders, the format went viral.
In just the past three years, the speech events have taken root in hundreds of cities in the U.S. and worldwide, from Amersfoort, Netherlands, to Saragossa, Spain. New cities are added, on average, every 72 hours. Nearly a quarter of a million people every year gather in warehouses, old prisons and forest clearings for pecha-kucha nights — a spectacle that seems to belie the pretenses of the online age.
“People really like to get together physically,” Dytham says. “We forget that on Facebook. They say they’re ‘social networks,’ but they’re not really; they’re anti-social networks. People in a city want to get together and have a chat and a beer. And this was a way to pull people together.”
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This article makes a lot of good points! (not power points) Do not put the chickens to sleep!
April 26, 2010
We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint
By ELISABETH BUMILLER
WASHINGTON — Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.
“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war,” General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.
“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.
“It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”
Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers — referred to as PowerPoint Rangers — in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader’s pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan.
Last year when a military Web site, Company Command, asked an Army platoon leader in Iraq, Lt. Sam Nuxoll, how he spent most of his time, he responded, “Making PowerPoint slides.” When pressed, he said he was serious.
General McChrystal gets two PowerPoint briefings in Kabul per day, plus three more during the week. General Mattis, despite his dim view of the program, said a third of his briefings are by PowerPoint.
Commanders say that the slides impart less information than a five-page paper can hold, and that they relieve the briefer of the need to polish writing to convey an analytic, persuasive point. Imagine lawyers presenting arguments before the Supreme Court in slides instead of legal briefs.
Senior officers say the program does come in handy when the goal is not imparting information, as in briefings for reporters.
The news media sessions often last 25 minutes, with 5 minutes left at the end for questions from anyone still awake. Those types of PowerPoint presentations, Dr. Hammes said, are known as “hypnotizing chickens.”
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Great article by Kate Peters:
The Three Key Components of a Powerful Sound
The key components of a powerful sound are:
- passion, and
- strong vocal physique.
The first two components are achieved by being yourself and by being clear about your intention. The third, through awareness and practice.
Personality is “you” and the unique gifts you share with your audience. Personality is the unique imprint your thought leaves on your voice, making it distinguishable from other voices and revealing things about your particular experiences and perspective. You cannot escape the revelatory nature of your voice. The essence of who you are is in your voice for all to hear.
If you want to be heard, it’s vital that you celebrate your authentic self. In a New York Times interview Ursula Burns, the impressive new head of Xerox Corporation, wisely remarked, “I can’t try to say it in somebody else’s voice. I have to say it in my voice.”
Passion is the power of intention aligned with content and personality. We have already covered personality, so what about intention and content?
Content is simply what you have to say. It’s your message, your words, your ideas manifested in spoken form. Intention, on the other hand, is what you have in mind to do or bring about. It is why you are speaking in the first place, why you are standing in front of an audience, what you hope to accomplish. When intention, content and personality align, we have passion. And when there is passion, powerful things happen.
When a speaker is passionate, they seem authentic and genuine. For that reason, actors are trained to pour intent in their lines and speak with passion. We are so tuned in to this aspect of voices that babies as young as six months old can discern intention in voices. I have written about this subject in my blog.
If your intention is unclear, if it conflicts with your message or even with the reason people think you are there, your vocal power will diminish and you’ll lose your audience.
3. Strong Vocal Physique
“Speaking louder doesn’t create a powerful voice.”
Strong vocal physique is the ability to produce a vibrantly resonant sound and to have a good command of breathing technique.
Because sound travels on air, resonance and air are intimately connected in the voice. In an earlier Six Minutes article, I focus on good breathing technique for speaking. This is important because air itself makes the voice work. As you exhale, air moves from your lungs through your trachea (or windpipe). It then passes between your vocal folds (also called arytenoids and vocal cords) and brings those muscles together. As they vibrate, sound happens. You use your throat, tongue, lips, and jaw to shape the sound into words.
Now, if someone tells you to speak up, there is a good chance you will use more air as you increase your volume. That’s an improvement. But speaking more loudly may just come across as yelling — and you also risk straining your voice. It is more correct to suggest that you stand up straight, take a big breath, and use more air to carry the sound as you speak up, but that is a very long set of instructions for even the best of sound men! Better that you know what “project” means so you do it right.
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By SALLY FRIEDMAN
I want to be looked at. And honestly, I’m not an exhibitionist.
It’s just that eye contact has gone the way of proper enunciation, a good handshake and a hug that means something — casualties of modern life.
Time was when eyes met other eyes in conversation, and surely in the quest for connection. The wide-open gaze was no big deal. It was, in fact, commonplace. To be looked at was to be acknowledged, attended to.
“Look at Grandma when you say hello,” one of my daughters instructed her son Jonah recently. I wanted to cheer. Of course, the grandchild in question was hunched over a computer screen and had managed merely a grunt when I arrived.
Because so much communication now is not face to face, eye to eye is an endangered species. Twitter, Facebook, text messaging — no eye contact necessary.
Which is why I felt so stung recently when I was having lunch with a good friend who spent much of our time together scanning the restaurant for — well, I don’t know what. But she surely wasn’t intent on seeing eye to eye with me.
How does one say to a friend who’s been there through the first bra, the geology final and three pregnancies that she should be looking at me, not the woman with the great highlighted hair, or the plate of strudel at the next table.
I sometimes wonder whether it was those 1980s cocktail parties that forever messed things up. It was an era defined by that constant seeking of the next conversation, the next potential client/customer/broker/date.
Of course, urban streets and elevator etiquette practically forbid eye contact — just try getting some meaningful “I’ll look at you/you look back at me” going, and you’re likely to be dismissed as a weirdo. But I live in a small town without a single elevator building. And even here in Moorestown, N.J., ranked No. 1 on Money magazine’s list of the best places to live in 2005, only a neutral nod is acceptable on our quaint little Main Street.
Time was when I would walk this same street and look directly at the person coming toward me. Not these days when suspicion seems to have spread like some virus.
But I don’t give up easily. I continue to seek out other eyes during intermissions at theaters, hoping I’m not committing some venial social sin by invading anyone’s personal bubble of space. To date, few have sought mine.
I look into the eyes of my grandchildren even before I hug them. And recently, Jonah, the 10-year-old, actually looked back at me and announced with some interest that my eyes are blue.
Actually, they’re green.
But it’s a start.
Sally Friedman is a freelance writer who lives in Moorestown, N.J.
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We are not always “Bashing” Power Point. It has it’s place. Just don’t always default to it. Think…”Do I really need a Power Point presentation to make my point?
From interview with Teresa Taylor, chief operating officer of Qwest:
It’s amazing, there will be eight people in the room and they all have a different answer of what’s going on there. I’ll also say, once we’re clear about what we’re doing: “Does everyone need to be here? If anyone feels like they want to leave right now, that would be fine.” Every once in a while a couple of people will say, “Yeah, I could use this time back,” and they get up and leave.
Q. But you could chew up 10 minutes just going around the table.
A. Sure, I think it’s a good 10 minutes. I really do.
Q. What about presentations?
A. I use a little saying, which is, “Be brief, be bright and be gone.” It’s also not uncommon for me to say, “Why don’t we put the PowerPoint aside for a minute and why don’t you just talk to me?”
Q. What’s the maximum number of PowerPoint slides you want to see?
A. Six. But I actually prefer no PowerPoint. To be honest, I’d rather just talk. A really great meeting, to me, is someone who is just talking to me and might give me a piece of paper or two to support something, but that’s it.
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