Thursday, November 10, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The purpose for using PowerPoint or other presentation software is to make ideas visual with the assurance that listeners understand and remember more if they both see and hear the information.
Following is a sample PowerPoint presentation. In this sample, the thesis is presented on slide two. Notice that:
- Each slide heading is a statement, one of the presentation's main points.
- Preview and review slides highlight the main points.
- Source citations are shown on the slides and are spoken by the presenter (i.e., foxnews.com, 2007).
- Background color is solid and dark, used consistently throughout the presentation.
- Slides are kept simple and uncluttered (no more than 30-40 words per slide).
- Type is large enough to be easily readable to viewers (text 32pt., titles 44 pt.).
- The background and text colors offer contrast so that slides are easily read (white or yellow text, no red on black).
- Slide transitions are kept simple to avoid distraction (nothing flying or roaring in, spinning, or tumbling).
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
What's your point, Tiger?
I'd be making a presentation or participating in a management discussion and at about 30 seconds Quinn would interrupt me. "What's your point, Tiger?"
He'd tolerate no rambling. Every word had to count. Above all, he wanted to hear that all-important statement (thesis) that revealed the point, lesson, or idea underlying my presentation or comment.
I suppose I'm not the speediest learner in the solar system, but it didn't take me long to recognize this pattern. Like Pavlov's dog, about 30 seconds into my presentation I'd glance over at Quinn. If he was starting to squirm in his chair, I knew I had only a few seconds to get my thesis out before he interrupted me.
At first, I didn't know what to say, how to format a thesis that answered his question before he asked. I'd make my best effort. He'd shake his head. "Have to do better than that," he'd say. "What's your point?"
Determined to escape the jaws of death (Quinn was the real tiger), I worked at boiling my ideas down into a single summary sentence that delivered the basic message. Gradually, as I got better at my trade, the interruptions grew less frequent. Once or twice, Quinn even nodded his approval.
You get thirty seconds to deliver.
Imagine how you'd feel if people actually walked out of the room instead of just drifting away mentally when their attention wanders. My bet is that they start drifting away after about 30 seconds, shaking their heads and muttering, "What your point, Tiger?"
For your upcoming speech, trim your attention getter to take less than 30 seconds.
If you have to come back to give final details of your attention getter, do it at the end of your speech as a wrap up. For example:
"After beating me up, Quinn went on to become president of U & I Sugar Corp., then a successful private business consultant. But for the rest of my career, I'd either get my thesis out quick, or I'd hear his voice in my mind. 'What's your point, Tiger?'
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
It's natural to do a quick self-assessment after we speak. We all do it. It's been said that our best speeches are given to ourselves in the minutes after we sit down. Unfortunately, our reflections on the speech we have just given can lead to agonizing endlessly about our mistakes instead of learning from the experience and moving on. Far better to have a structured approach to evaluating our performance against our aims.
The key to self-improvement is comparing what we did (performance) with what we intended to do (aims) and deciding what we'll do differently next time.
After each presentation, assess your preparation and performance using the questions below. The assessment should be done soon after the speech and should be a thoughtful analysis of what actually happened. The purpose is to develop the habit of improving your performance by careful analysis of past experiences.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Some attention getters work against us.
The two most often used attention-getting approaches actually work against the speaker:
Asking an engaging question - One of two things happens when you begin your speech by asking a question to get listeners mentally involved: (1) the question is lame and listeners groan inside thinking you're about to give them another run-of-the-mill pitch. Questions like, "How many of you have ever texted while driving," or, "How many of you ate breakfast this morning," are so predictable that listeners recognize them as attention-getting gimmicks; or (2) the question is actually engaging in some degree and listeners start thinking about their answer to your question. A question like, "How many of you have ever stopped to realize that you might become the victim of a serial killer," may give food for thought. Unfortunately, the consequence of having asked a good question is that your listeners are now thinking about a brother-in-law or step mom whom they've always suspected of being a serial killer. They go to the mental spot where they can think about things like this or search their mental data bases for any information they already have about such matters. If you ask a good question, listeners generally won't hear what you have to say next. Though some questions can be very intriguing, the best policy is to leave good questions to the end of your speech.
Telling a joke - We've all heard some great jokes. We love jokes. If they're truly funning, they buy good will for the speaker. However, there are two problems with jokes: (1) most jokes we hear are either tired or not truly funny and we give only a polite snicker as we wait for the speaker to say something important; or (2) the joke is funning but doesn't have anything to do with the speaker's message. We can see that the connection between the joke and the message is contrived. The speaker wanted to tell the joke, so he/she thought up some way to make it apply to the message. We see through the gimmick and forgive the speaker, but we're not impressed. True humor in a speaking setting is usually situational. The humor arises from something that is happening or has just happened and the speaker is quick enough to capitalize on the event.
The best advice is to avoid both questions and jokes in the effort to garner attention and prepare listeners for your message.
Some attention getters work for us.
The most effective attention getters take a piece of support for your message and bring it to the beginning of the speech. It gives listeners a taste of the information that will follow, sort of a preview. Such attention getters could include: (1) a startling statistic or fact, (2) a quote or testimonial on the topic of your speech, or (3) a story that illustrates your thesis.
Number (statistic) - "Seven million people are treated for sports-related injuries each year. That's the combined population of the states of Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. A lot of people."
Example (definition) - Wikipedia defines a serial killer as "an individual who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than a month, with a cooling off period between the murders, and whose motivation for killing is based on psychological derangement or gratification."
Testimonial (quote) - "Abraham Lincoln once said, "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."
Story (narrative) - "James Chappel was simply walking past a junk yard when two pit bulls escaped the fence and attacked, ending Chappel's life."
Start with one of these varieties of attention getters and you and your listeners will already be on the road toward a life-changing (or at least life-enriching) experience.
In the speech you are preparing now, select what you consider to be the most engaging piece of support for your thesis. Bring it to the beginning. You don't have to use the entire support item. You can go back and tell the rest of the story, give the rest of the numbers, or give a fuller account of the testimonial during your speech. Just give listeners a taste of something substantial to whet their appetites for your thesis which follows immediately.
As you practice, avoid all the lead-in comments. Don't tell us that you've had a cold and aren't feeling well. Don't remind us that you're nervous. Don't confess that you're not a very good speaker, and ask listeners to be nice. Just hit us with your number, testimonial, or story and then give us your thesis. We'll love you for it.
Friday, September 9, 2011
I'm neither pushing nor bashing his policies, but I recommend him as an effective public speaker. What he did last night is far different from the impromptu strategies we're practicing in class. His speech was carefully written, scrubbed, polished, practiced, and delivered from a teleprompter. But the basic techniques would also work in an impromptu setting.
First, he had a simple, bold, memorable thesis. It was this: "This jobs bill is good for America. Pass it now!"
Second, he used the thesis to anchor the speech and tie the elements together. I heard him restate the thesis nine times. All of his reasons, examples, and support led back to the thesis over and over.
Third, he presented his message with conviction. I don't recall him ever saying, "I believe this will be good for America," or "I think . . .," or anything else that was tentative. He didn't try to sneak around opposing views; he simply made statements and left the listeners to decide.
You can, and should, use the same techniques when you have impromptu opportunities. Of course, the President used 4,000 words to deliver his message. In an impromptu setting, you'll often have only a minute (fewer than 100 words) to say what you must. Maybe two minutes, if you're lucky. So practice making simple, bold, memorable statements. Start your speech with one, end by restating it, and whatever you provide in the middle will be icing on the cake.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Here's a rough example.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Important tip: Be sure that there is a clear connection between sentence one and sentence three. That will help your listener see how your past experiences have prepared you to benefit him/her. For example, if you plan to become a nurse, emphasize past experiences that will aid you in excelling as a nurse. Then finish with a clear statement explaining how your background and present pursuits can benefit the listener.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Skill 1- State your idea as an unforgettable thesis (big idea, thesis, claim).
Skill 2 - Gather knockout support for your idea (NETS, transitions, citations, outlines).
Skill 3 - Visualize the idea and support for your listeners (word pictures, gestures, aids).
Skill 4 - Draw conclusions based on the idea (bring ideas home, answer unspoken questions, call listeners to action).
Skill 5 - Present your idea with style (voice, posture, contact, and flow).
You're gonna love this stuff. I do. If you want to see somebody who does most of it well, watch President Obama as he addresses the nation. Don't like him? Then watch Tom Hanks. Too much Hollywood? Watch Dieter Uchtdorf. Not into religion? Check out Diane Sawyer.
You can do the same thing . . . and will. Let's have a blast.
Visit me at: frankrichardsonauthor.com.