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Phoenix Public Speaking coaching and workshops

PowerPoint Tip: Use Blank Slides Instead of Filler

Sometimes fewer is better. Sometimes nothing means a lot. Sometimes, you don’t need to have a PowerPoint slide to go with each and every point in your presentation.

It’s easy for public speakers and business presenters to fall into that trap and you can find yourself wasting hours upon hours trying to find images and putting together needless slides when perhaps a few key slides are all your audience really needs. (Notice we said “your audience” because they are who really matters in content decisions.)

Great Slides Add Value

Good slides support and enhance your points. Great slides add value. If you need a chart, a graph or an image to explain or strengthen your point, then, by all means, use it. But what if all you really need is a graph and your other slides are really just filler?

Consider this solution: Sandwich the slide you actually want to show between two blank slides. Here’s how: Create a slide with a solid black background. The solid color will keep the projection screen from being a distraction. Now insert the graph you actually need after your blank slide and then create another blank slide to go after the graph.

The Solution

Here’s how this scenario might play out: You begin your presentation and quickly grab the attention of your audience. There is a blank slide on the screen but the audience probably doesn’t realize that the projector is even turned on. Your audience is focused on you and what you’re saying. You are the center of attention, not the slides. Then, you click your presentation remote and, viola, there is your graph. The graph stands out and makes your point clearer. The graph adds value. You then click the remote again to another blank slide and continue speaking. All eyes are on you. Now, you’re ready for your big finish.

Of course, there are many situations when you’ll want a full slide deck complete with a title slide, numerous points, and final thoughts. As in all good design, the form should always follow the function. But always ask yourself these questions before settling on a slide strategy: Who is the star of this presentation, me or the slides? Am I running the slides or are they running me? What’s best for my audience?

The answers to those questions will help you to create a more powerful, more persuasive presentation.


LOTS OF RELATED POSTS

What’s On Your Final Slide? Hint: It’s not “thank you.”

PowerPoint Tips to Make Your Presentation More Powerful Great tips from a top-notch graphic artist.

Where to Get PowerPoint Ideas? Yep, thousands of them.

Use PowerPoint to Enhance To slide or not to slide; that is the question.

Use a PowerPoint Remote or a Helper Connect better with your audience. No, really.

How to Create Visual Slides Your Audience Will Remember Tons of tips and things to think about.

 

Top Public Speaking Blogs

What are the very best public speaking blogs on the web? Well, this one for starters. That’s according to the fine folks at Feedspot who list the Top 52 public speaking blogs from around the world. We spent a little time browsing through the others on the list and discovered that we’re among great company. There are a lot of great resources out there. Check it out for yourself.

And if you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet, we hope you’ll consider doing so. It’s loaded with free tips, tricks, and techniques that you can use to make your business presentations pop. By subscribing, you’ll receive our latest posts delivered right to your inbox. It’s easy, quick and free. So, sign-up today.

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Pack a Powerful Presentation Punch with The Power of Three

Small, medium, large. Past, present, future. On your marks, get set..GO!

We like hearing things in threes. Our brains are hardwired for them. After all, we count to three before taking a group photo right? You’d surely count to three before plunging off a zipline tower for the first time, wouldn’t you? And, of course, as any Monty Python fan can tell you, you must count to three before lobbing the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. Think about the classic Western movie “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Ugly doesn’t logically fit but it seems like it does because we like the pattern of three so much.

Want more proof? The Three Stooges. The Three Amigos. The Three Musketeers. Ho, ho, ho. Ha, ha, ha. Hee, hee, hee. A, B, C and 1, 2, 3. Oh, and don’t forget: the third time is a charm.

Yep, three is perfection. Three is completion. Three means business.

In public speaking, things said in threes help you land your important points in a memorable, persuasive, and powerful way. The trinity tool is a good one to keep in your verbal vault.

So, here are (you guessed it) three ways you can use the awesome Power of Three in your presentations:

  1. Make a point by constructing a superlative sentence, such as, “That was good, this is better, our proposal will be the BEST!”
  2. Build to three with the third item being a powerful payoff, as in this line from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “We cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.”
  3. Create a humorous line by building to an unexpected third item, such as, “When I was young I had hopes, I had dreams, I had HAIR!”

Learn how to use the Power of Three and you’ll be a more powerful, polished presenter. And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


THREE RELATED VIDEO LINKS

> Gettysburg Address recreation. Listen for the Power of Three here and again here.

> Benjamin Netanyahu United Nations Speech selection. Listen for the Power of Three here and here. (This speech also contains what must be the longest pause ever.)

> And, you have to hear this hysterical Your Thought Leader parody poking fun of the Power of Three.

What’s on Your Final Slide?

What’s on the last slide in your business presentation? For many, it’s a slide that says “Thank You!” Well, that’s simply not as powerful or as useful for your audience as it could be. Instead, we suggest using that space for something fresh and more meaningful. Think of it this way: The final slide should stay on the screen until every last member of the audience has left the room. It’s the last opportunity to communicate with them. What information, what thoughts and what feelings do you want your audience to leave the room with?

Here are seven suggestions for slides you can use to have a fantastic finish:

(1) Business Card. A close-up photo of your business card, perhaps with your hand holding it as in the photo at left. This reminds your audience of what you do for business when not presenting and gives them the opportunity to take a photo of the slide for future reference.

(2) Contact Information. If not a business card, perhaps a list of various ways to connect and stay in contact with you to “keep the conversation going.” This could include your social media channels, a mail list signup, or a private group on LinkedIn or Facebook.

(3) Summary of Key Points. A brief listing of the key messages you really want your audience to remember.

(4) Call to Action. The one thing you want the audience members to do or to remember above all else.

(5) Next Steps. A list of the action steps audience members should take following the presentation.

(6) Final Thoughts. A final thought, such as the fortune cookie photo at the top of this post, or a powerful closing quote. Leave your audience feeling hopeful about the future.

(7) Bookend Thought. If your presentation began with a provocative question or thought, you could return to that question or thought on your final slide and bring it all full circle for your audience.

People tend to remember the first and the last thing you say the most so you want to end strong. By choosing a slide that has some meaning for your audience, you’ll have a much more powerful finish and a much better chance of leaving a lasting impression.

Do you have an idea for a final slide that isn’t listed here? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear them.

Getting Just the Right Volume

How loud should you talk without a microphone in a room full of people? Here’s how to determine just the right volume so that you can influence and persuade your audience when public speaking in a meeting space or making your next business presentation in a conference room.

First, locate the person furthest away from you in the room. Yep, that person waaaay in the back. Now, how loud do you need to talk to be heard by that person? Adjust your volume to that level. If you’re a quiet talker, you might have to “use your outside voice” or you can try these tricks.

But wait, there’s more. Yep, you don’t want that person to simply hear you; you want to be able to influence them with the sound of your voice. So, adjust your volume up a little bit more. There you go. That’s it!

Now you’ll be able to be heard and influence everyone in the room.

 

 

Using Data to Tell Your Story

By Michele Trent
Public Speaking Coach

Facts and figures don’t lie. However, they also do not necessarily tell the whole store. When you present data, you select the facts and figures that support the specific point of view or the story you want to tell. When you do research, you are looking at the data to give you answers. Then you craft a narrative to sell that answer or solution. The data is then used to communicate to the organization in a way that supports your recommendation.

In Nancy Duarte’s new book, “Data Story,” she shares important guidance on creating a story using data. You need to “Transform Numbers into Narratives.” One of the ways you do this is by making the numbers relatable. In and of themselves, numbers are just numbers. Larger numbers and very small numbers, in particular, can lose their meaning when you toss them into your remarks. Instead, strive to relate the numbers to something your audience understands. I recently heard that “Air Force One is roughly the size of a football field.” Hearing this comparison instead of “Air Force One is a really big plane,” added much more meaning. It made an impact because I have seen a football field many times and consequently, I have a sense of how big a football field is. To say a plane is that big really landed the point (pun intended!).

The trick is to make sure the comparison is understandable by your audience.  You may have heard comparisons such as – it’s like going back and forth to the moon 2-1/2 times. That statement does indicate a far distance. However, do you really have a sense of how far it is to the moon and back? Unless you are an astronaut, probably not. In Nancy Duarte’s book, she has one of the best comparisons for the distance to the moon that I’ve ever heard. It takes this vast distance and makes it relatable. Here’s how it’s stated in the book, “According to cosmologist Fred Hoyle, if you drove a car upward at 60 mph, in about an hour, you’d be in space. To get to the Moon, it’d take 4,000 hours of nonstop driving (or almost half a year).” Now that’s a heck of a road trip! Why this works is because we can all imagine driving an hour or multiple hours to get to a destination. And, we all have some sense of how long a half a year is. This comparison is relatable and secures in our minds the point that the moon is far away.

The next time you share data, think through the various ways you can make the numbers relatable. Connect the numbers to something your audience can imagine or easily recognize. Once you do, you will have an even greater chance of selling through your point of view and the data will help you do it.

RELATED ARTICLES

3 Ways to unNumber Numbers

Help People Understand Your Data by Making It Relatable

 

 

The Power of Your Words

By Michele Trent
Phoenix Public Speaking Coach

After having spent a summer studying for and then attending an intensive Neuro-Linguistic Programming Certification Training, I am clearer now than ever about the importance of language and public speaking. As a communicator, words are the raw materials from which you construct a bridge between yourself and your audience. What you say and how you say it mean…quite literally…everything in terms of your effectiveness. Without immersing yourself in an NLP course, what words might you use to better communicate your message?

Here are two thoughts about how to do that:

(1) Know Your Audience! This cannot be overstated. Once you know your audience, you will begin to speak in their language. Every business, every workgroup, every social group, has words, acronyms, and phrases that they use. To the extent that you can learn and apply these will make you come across as “one of them” and consequently, give you more credibility. However, don’t just throw in a bunch of terms that you don’t understand and hope for the best. If you do, you are likely to come across as silly and inauthentic. However, you don’t have to be an expert in the arena to use words and phrases familiar with the audience. Once you have uncovered what some of those words and phrases are that resonate with your audience, your attempt to relate and incorporate them just might be enough. Consider when you travel overseas and you attempt the native language of the country you are visiting. You are often given a courtesy smile just for having tried. At least you made the effort to find the words and use them. You made an effort to connect and assimilate. Do the same when presenting. Find out about the company or group and attempt to use their language.

(2) Use Your Imagination. Imagination is a terrific tool for you as a speaker. When your audience is imaging themselves in a scenario, they are actively using their minds and creating more meaning from what you say. I recently watched a speaker do this effectively. He was talking about his role as a commercial real estate agent. He invited the audience to come along with him as he showed a property. Of course, we were all still sitting in our seats. Yet, when he guided us to imagine ourselves on the tour, it all became more real. The next time you speak, invite your audience in by inviting them to imagine themselves benefitting or participating in what you are sharing.

Your words can have great power. Think through what you say in addition to how you say it. Doing so will make you an even more effective communicator.

Public Speaking Quick Tip: Smile

“Smile: It is the key that fits the lock of everybody’s heart.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Want to know the fastest and easiest way to connect with an audience? Answer: Smile. Yep, whether you’re in a 1-on-1 interaction or on stage in front of a large audience, a friendly smile will help you connect with your audience right away.

But wait – there’s more! A smile will help YOU feel more confident as well. That’s right, your body language can affect how you feel. We call this “the Jedi mind trick you play on yourself.”

So, before you walk on stage, take a smiling selfie or pre-engage audience members with a warm smile as they enter the room. Give it a try. When you do, you’ll put yourself in a better frame of mind and start to engage your audience in the crucial first 90 seconds of your presentation.

Public Speaking Quick Tip: Remove Distractions

Do you fidget with a ring, fuss with your hair, or fiddle with car keys in your pocket when you’re nervous and speaking in front of a group? These distracting, nervous habits can ruin an otherwise good business presentation. They chip away at your credibility and take away from the impact of your message.

So what should you do to avoid such distractions? Well, you could try to remember not to do these distracting things, but you’ve got enough on your mind. A better strategy is to simply remove as many distractions as possible so that you can focus on your content and delivery. If you fidget with your ring, remove it (but be sure to put it in a VERY safe place). If you fuss with your hair, tie it back. If you fiddle with your car keys, empty your pocket.

The more your audience can focus on your content and on your confident delivery, the more effective you will be as a public speaker or business presenter.

3 Ways to unNumb Numbers

Data is an important part of business and business presentations. But numbers can make your audience disengage if you don’t present them in an understandable and relatable way.

Here are 3 ways to take the numb out of your numbers in public speaking:

1) Remove data that are not part of your main point. Sometimes an entire spreadsheet is put on a slide when only one data point is really important. If you have to put all the data on the slide, try putting the relevant data in a different color or put a circle around it.

2) Provide context. Explain to your audience why the data you’re presenting matters? How will it impact the business? How will it impact the future? Tell a short story to illustrates the point. Stories give life to data and make the point you are trying to make more memorable. Show some passion for the key points you are making about your data. If you’re not excited about your data, your audience won’t be either. Data combined with a story are a powerful 1-2 punch.

3) Make numbers comparable to something familiar. Show your audience what you’re talking about by comparing your data to something that the audience can easily relate to. Here’s one of my favorite comparisons that really makes the point: “If every dollar equals 1 second, then $1 million is about 11 hours. By comparison, $1 billion would be about 32 years.”

When you take the numb out of the numbers, you’ll have a more impactful business presentation that will turn heads, win hearts, and get results.