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Public Speaking Tip #48: Stand out in Business Meetings

Meetings, meetings, meetings. They are a big part of the day for most business professionals. And they are a big opportunity to use public speaking and business communication skills that can help you stand out.

The following tips will help you make the most out of business meetings:

  1. Come Prepared. Do your homework and research the issues you know will be discussed.
  2. Don’t Jump to Solutions Too Quickly. Resist the temptation to settle quickly on one solution before others in the meeting have systematically examined the causes, effects, history, and symptoms of a problem.
  3. Help Summarize the Group’s Progress. Ask questions about the discussion process rather than about the topic: “Where are we now?” “Could someone summarize what we have accomplished?” and “Aren’t we getting off the subject?”
  4. Listen and Respond Politely. You can’t learn if you don’t listen. Respect other points of view, keep your emotions in check, and respond courteously. Don’t assume you know everything – you don’t.
  5. Help Manage Conflict. Conflict is inevitable. But remember this: the best decisions are often those that emerge from productive conflict, which encourages members to rigorously test and debate ideas and potential solutions. Be sure to keep the discussion focused on issues, not on personalities. Rely on facts rather than on personal opinions for evidence. Seek compromise and don’t assume that there must be a winner and a loser. Try to clarify misunderstandings in meaning. Be descriptive rather than evaluative and judgmental. Keep emotions in check.
  6. Send the Right Body Language Messages. Dress appropriately. Sit in the middle of the table where you can influence and include the greatest number of people. Sit up straight. Be attentive. Make eye contact. Back up from the table just a little so that you have room to gesture naturally. Put your smartphone away. Take notes. Be mindful of negative body language such as pointing or rolling your eyes.
  7. Use the Language of Leadership. Eliminate weak language in your statements like “sort of” and “just wanted.” Use inclusive language like “we” and “us.” Replace “ums” and “ahs” with pauses.

Take advantage of business meetings with these tips. They will help you have a more productive meeting and just might help your career.

Related Posts

The Language of Leadership

Where to Sit to Influence and Include

Public Speaking Tip #47: You’re Always On in Team Presentations

In the business world, many of our presentations are done in teams. During such a presentation, the audience’s eyes will fall upon everyone involved, not just the person speaking.

Remember this: even when it’s not your turn to speak, you’re on. Therefore, any signs of disinterest or boredom by a team member will be easily noticed.

Even innocent movements can send messages that you may not wish to send. Remember President George H.W. Bush checking his watch during the 1992 Presidential debate? That single act fueled a narrative about his supposed aloofness and disinterest.

3 Group Presentation Tips

Here’s what to do:

(1) If your presentation is longer than five minutes, have everyone on your team sit. Being seated will help guard again fidgeting. Sitting behind an appropriate table can help cover up nervous legs. Predetermine if team members will stand or remain seated when it’s their turn to speak.

(2) Give your full and polite attention to the other speakers on your team. Take notes to keep you actively listening. Avoid negative body language, such as rolling eyes, crossed arms, or disdainful facial expression).

(3) Project an attitude of interest toward audience members. Make eye contact with audience members and smile when appropriate.

Sometimes, you need every advantage you can get. Following these simple tips will help ensure a smooth and more polished team presentation. Good luck!

‘3 Steps to Own Any Room’ Workshop

Do you want to be the type of presenter who can command a room? If so, you’ll want to check out our newest workshop. We’re partnering once again with the Phoenix Business Journal and offering a presentation skills workshop entitled “3 Steps to Own Any Room.”

The workshop will be held Thursday, Sept. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arizona Small Business Administration, 4600 E. Washington Street, in Phoenix. Lunch will be served.

SPECIAL DISCOUNT: An exclusive 20% discount is being offered to readers of this blog. Use offer code SPEAK when checking out to receive your discount.

Our last three Phoenix Business Journal workshops sold out quickly so be sure to register today!

Claim Your Spot!

Public Speaking Tip #46: Pointless Presentations

“My values, our values, aren’t about pointing fingers. They are about offering a helping hand.” — Kathleen Blanco, first woman to be elected governor of Louisiana

Pointing fingers and effective public speaking simply don’t go together. Pointing is often perceived as arrogant, aggressive and rude — not characteristics we want to project to an audience when making a business presentation or speaking in public.

What’s more, pointing at someone in the audience during a talk — for instance, to call on someone during a Q&A — can create a perception of  “you” and “them” rather than “we” and “us.” A pointing finger can be perceived as divisive. And anything that can come between you and your ability to make a better connection with your audience should be eliminated.

But what if you are pointing at someone in a friendly way to commend them? What if you were pointing, but smiling and saying something like, “Joe here, he did a great job!” Even when you are announcing good news or saying something nice about someone, a pointing finger lessens the positive impact of your message.

What to do Instead of Finger Pointing

So what should you do instead? How do you point without pointing?

If you do need to acknowledge someone in your audience, try extending an arm toward them with an open hand. This will be seen as a much friendlier, more inclusive gesture. It’s also easier to see from a distance, which could be helpful for those in the back row if you’re speaking in a large room.

You can even use this gesture to call attention to a PowerPoint chart or any inanimate object. “Handouts will be on that table when the session is over.”

An extended arm with an open hand is a great gesture on or off the stage. Try using it in everyday conversations with work colleagues, friends and family. Use it to draw attention to people and objects. Like most things, if you do it often enough, it will become second nature.

What We Say, How We Say It

What we say, and how we say it, directly impacts our body language and gestures. Try shouting angerly and you will find yourself instinctively pointing fingers and making fists. But the opposite is true as well — by changing our gestures to open and friendly, we can affect what we say, and how we say it in a positive way.

You may find that gesturing in a more welcoming, more inclusive way, instinctively changes your word choices and the tone of your voice.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

What Makes a Great Commencement Speech

Many of you likely have heard a commencement speech recently as high schools and colleges are releasing the class of 2018 to the world. Was the commencement speech you heard good? Was it memorable?

If you’d liked the commencement speech you heard and remember any of it, it’s probably because of the speaker’s ability to tell a great story and their ability to add healthy doses of appropriate humor. A good speaker knows how to tell a story and a joke that resonates with you personally and emotionally.

The following are three commencement speeches I recommend to my coaching clients and classes because they are examples of good storytelling and good humor. In each example, note how the speaker finds a common emotional bond with their audience.

> Rick Rigsby: The Wisdom of a Third Grade Dropout

> Steve Jobs: Don’t Waste Your Life Living Someone Else’s Dream

> Admiral Willian H. McRaven (Navy Seal): If You Want to Change the World …

The success they each achieved in life is interesting to our minds, but the struggles they go through to get there are what touches our hearts.

What’s your favorite commencement speech and what did you like about it? Feel free to drop a link to your favorite speech in the comments section below.

Note: The photo accompanying this article is from my daughter Kaitlyn’s high school graduation a few weeks ago. Yep, that’s Kaitlyn at the podium. But she isn’t about to deliver a commencement address. No, she’s about to do something even more terrifying. What could be more terrifying than public speaking? She’s about to sing the National Anthem in front of 4,000 people in a stadium that has been the site of national championships and a Super Bowl. No pressure! Well, she sang great and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

 

Public Speaking Tip #45: Use the Language of Leadership

Eliminating weak language in your business presentations and speeches will help you to be a more effective leader and a better public speaker. Unnecessary equivocating phrases such as “kind of,” “sort of” or “just wanted” will chip away at your credibility and sabotage your own effectiveness. Instead, use powerful, straightforward language and seek to be inclusive with your audience.

To be more inclusive, think “influence and include’ rather than “command and control” or “more we and less me.”

Compare these phrases:

  • “This is sort of my plan to get the ball rolling.” vs. “This is our plan to get the ball rolling.”
  • “I just wanted to say thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.” vs. “Thank you for your hard work and dedication.”
  • “In my opinion, we should take a different course of action.” vs. “Let’s take a different course of action.”

If you want to be perceived as a leader, speak with confidence, conviction, and inclusiveness in areas where you are certain, committed and need the support of your audience. When you speak like a leader, you’ll have a more powerful presentation and inspire more listeners to take action.

 

 

 

Public Speaking Tip #44: Graciously Accept Laughs and Applause

When your audience is laughing at your quip or clapping their approval of your key point, let them conclude before continuing with your presentation. By rejoining your presentation too soon, they won’t be able to hear your first few words and you miss an opportunity to fully engage your audience.

By cutting the audience off too soon, it may even appear that you don’t appreciate their goodwill. Just say “thank you,” if appropriate, smile and continue.

Conclude with Style and Grace

The same goes for your conclusion. When your audience is applauding, stand graciously and accept the applause until they have concluded. You might even want to give a sight bow if it seems appropriate. Hang out for a few minutes to talk to people who approach you after your presentation and graciously accept their compliments. There’s plenty of time later to gather up your notes, disconnect your laptop, etc.

Take your time and enjoy the positive feedback. Public speaking is supposed to be fun and engaging.

You deserve it and so does your audience.

 

 

 

Public Speaking via Teleprompter

My public speaking students at the Art Institute of Phoenix had fun this week learning how to speak using a teleprompter. They read from my famous “4Ps assessment script” that my personal coaching clients use.

I really enjoy working with the students and helping them to become confident and skilled presenters. And teaching helps keep me to stay sharp as well. Some days, I learn as much from my students as they do from me.

7 Ways to Engage Your Virtual Audience

By Dhariana Lozano
Guest Blogger

Keeping a virtual audience engaged can seem like a daunting task. They can see you, but for the most part, you won’t be able to see who you are presenting or talking to. So how do you keep an audience like that engaged beyond having an entertaining presentation? In this post, we’ll review some simple tactics on how you can keep a virtual audience engaged.

1) Demand Undivided Attention

The simplest way to get a virtual audience to engage with you and your presentation is to ask for their undivided attention from the beginning of the presentation. As them to put away their phones, close out of all the other tabs they might have open in their browser windows and dedicate the next block of time to the presentation and what they will learn.

2) Ask questions/Polls/Quizzes

To keep a virtual audience engaged include questions throughout your presentation. You can ask questions in the form of polls or quizzes as well. If there is a chat functionality enabled, you can ask participants to leave their response in the chatbox. For example, you can say “If this makes you feel frustrated type 1 in the chatbox”, or you can present different scenarios and ask your audience to type in the scenario they identify with.

3) Include Interactive Elements In Your Video

Interactive videos are a great way to keep a virtual audience engaged. Interactive videos can include click-throughs to landing pages, quizzes, or play certain sections based on the viewer’s choices. There are some great tools out there to help you create these types of videos like Vizio, or you can check out YouTube, as it allows for simple video interaction cards that can lead your viewer to subscribe to your channel or watch a related video or playlist.

4) Q&A

A simple way to keep a virtual audience engaged is to host a Q&A based on the subject of your presentation. The whole presentation can be a Q&A session or you can present and leave time at the end for some questions.

5)  Include Your Audience In The Broadcast

Live videos are a great way to increase reach for your social media channels, and what better way engage an audience than to give them a chance to be included in the broadcast. On Facebook Live (on mobile), Hangouts On Air via YouTubeLive and Instagram Live Stories, you can have someone broadcast with you in real time! Give your participants a chance to be on air with you to keep everyone engaged.

6) Offer Bonuses

Offering a bonus for those who stay through the end of your presentation can be a quick tactic to keep a virtual audience engaged. Some software will let you know who stayed until the end, or you can simply offer a link, or coupon code at the very end of your presentation to keep things simple.

7) Conduct Chats

One final way you can keep a virtual audience engaged is to conduct chats after a presentation. Perhaps you’ve interviewed someone and the second part of that is for your audience to continue the conversation in a chat or even a live stream session with the interviewee.

I hope these seven tactics to engage a virtual audience come in handy for your next presentation!

ABOUT THE GUEST BLOGGER

Dhariana Lozano has been in the social media and digital marketing world for over seven years. She is the co-founder of Supremacy Marketing, a boutique social media marketing firm based in New York City. Her experience includes creating social media strategies and consulting for both B2C and B2B brands to help them stand out and break through digital walls for ongoing success. She blogs at DhariLo.com where she provides social media tips, resources, and courses. You can see her work published in Social Media Week, Social Media Today, and the AgoraPulse blog. You can connect with Dhariana by sending her a tweet @Dharilo.

Public Speaking Tip #43: Energize Your Presentation

If you’re a low-energy public speaker, here are a few tips to add a little “umph” to your speeches or business presentations. I believe there are three aspects of public speaking that are inextricably linked together.

If you manipulate any one of these three, it will affect the other two:

  • How energetic you feel
  • How wide you gesture
  • How loud you speak

When you are feeling energetic inside, you naturally gesture wider and talk louder. Likewise, when you gesture wider, you naturally talk louder and begin to feel more energetic. And when you talk louder, you naturally gesture wider and feel more energetic.

Try this test. First, stand up. You’ll always have more energy standing and should always choose this option to speak if it doesn’t look awkward to do so.

From your standing position start speaking about any random subject very softly and try gesturing very wide, with your arms outstretched like a great bird. It’s hard to do, isn’t it? It requires focus and concentration to speak softly and to gesture widely. It’s not natural. Your voice instinctively will start to get louder as your gestures get wider. Next, try speaking loudly but gesturing small and close to your chest. That’s equally hard to do, right? Again, it’s not the way we are wired and it feels awkward.

So, if you need a little energy punch in your speech or business presentation, try standing up, putting some air under your wings and talking a little louder than you typically do. You’ll feel your energy — and your ability to engage your audience — rise to the occasion.