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Crisis Help

Well you did it again, right Binky? You’ve got a presentation coming up in a few days (or tomorrow!). All the information is ready, the Power Point or the transparencies are pretty much done but you still have that sinking feeling that your presentation could put to sleep more people than a dump truck full of sleeping pills. You’re probably right.

So you clicked this section hoping you’ll find something that might rescue you from presentation oblivion. Good choice. But I must say one thing first:

I’ll help you. But I sure hope you’ll remember me when you’ve got some money in your budget for presentation training. OK. Enough of my sniveling. Here are three ideas that will benefit your presentation more than you now know.

1. Slash the Details like a Drunken Pirate.
When was the last time you heard a presentation that was too short? Most audience members are bored most of the time in most presentations. When you’re bored, you’re hearing too much information that is irrelevant to you. You stop listening. Don’t do this to your audiences!

Since you’ll never know exactly how much information to include, you’ll probably deliver too much, just like everyone else. Great presenters deliver too little information in an exciting way. That leaves plenty of time for questions and answers.

A quick fix: Cut the time of your presentation in half. If you’re scheduled to speak for 20 minutes, deliver it in 10. Put the cut information in written handouts and pass it out when your talk is done. Your presentation is not going to be judged by the number of words you roll out or how many visual aids you use. It’s going to be judged by how well you achieve your objective and move your audience.

2. Memorize a strong 30 second Opening.
The first words out of your mouth are easily the most important. That’s when audience attention is highest and people are making an immediate value judgment on you and your presentation. If you mumble a dull “Good morning” - like about 9 out of 10 presenters, what you’re really saying to audience members is, “That’s right, I sound just like every other dull presenter. And if you think they were boring, wait until you hear me..........”

A quick fix: Use your imagination and creativity! take the most dramatic statistic or idea in your talk and craft it into a half minute masterpiece. Here’s one of the best examples I’ve heard:

“In the time it took me to get up from that seat and walk to this position before you, our company spent $1450 on research and development. Over 300 of those dollars were wasted. In the next few minutes, I’m going to give you two specific ways we can cut that waste by 8 per cent.”

Do you think anyone wondered why he didn’t start with “Good Morning”?

3. Speak Twice as Loud as You Think You Should.
I know you’re not going to believe this. My students never do until they see themselves on videotape or hear the feedback from their peers. People are usually awful judges of their own voices because we hear ourselves almost twice as loudly as everyone else. So chances are, in presentations, you are ‘politely’ quiet and almost certainly dull. In my workshops I push peoples’ volume until they think they’re shouting (in a focused manner). Inevitably they’re shocked when their classmates describe their voices as “confident”, “in-charge”, and “passionate.”

When you speak loudly you sound more committed to your ideas. You sound enthusiastic! You sound like you should sound when making a great presentation.

A quick fix: You must rehearse your presentation OUT LOUD at least five times before you deliver it in front of an audience. At least one of those times, bring someone into your rehearsal room and seat that person farthest from you. Tell him you want him to compare two different delivery styles. First deliver the first two minutes in your normal style. Next, deliver the same material much louder than you think you should. Really push it! Ask your practice audience member which style sounded better. And when he agrees with me, ask him to come to your real presentation and have him sit in the back of the room. Have him signal you whenever your voice slips into its natural polite, quiet dullness.

To make a great presentation which is distinctively different in a professional way, you can’t sound like everyone else. These three quick ideas will at least start you on the right track. They don’t sound like things you normally would do? Good - that’s why I’m paid for advice on presentations and you’re not. My book goes into detail and reveals my winning formula.