Category Archives: speaking

Are you ready for the biggest presentation of your life?

The crowd gathers in the conference hall; the buzz about your presentation is so alive you can feel electricity in the air. Every noteworthy blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn discussion group and e-mail list has been hyping your presentation as the next big thing.

The front seats fill up within minutes. With five minutes until your presentation, there’s not an empty seat in the hall.

You review the key talking points in your head, while wiping a faint bead of sweat from your head. A last sip of water and a nervous press of your pants steadies you. You are ready for this big moment.

The Master of Ceremonies’ resonant voice fills the room:

“Thank you for coming to this conference. It is wonderful to see a sellout crowd gathered for such an historic occasion. I have heard our keynote speak a number of times, and your life is ready to be changed. Please help me welcome our keynote speaker.”

If you were given this complimentary introduction for your big speech would you be ready? Would you exceed the expectations of an audience already buzzing with excitement?

When it's your big chance to take the mic, what will you do?

When it’s your big chance to take the mic, what will you do?

Here are a few tips to keep your audience talking long after the lights dim:

  1. Talk with your audience, not at them: If your goal is to show how smart or funny you are, you’ll fail miserably. Ask the audience some questions. Get their hands in the air. Make them stand up, sit down, jump around. Make them repeat the key points of your presentation.
  2. Tell stories: Stories make you seem more real, more authentic, more reachable. It’s perfectly fine to add some quotes and facts to help make a point, but stories (the more vivid, the better) are the pieces of your presentation that will be remembered.
  3. Speak from the seats, not the podium: If you’ve done your homework, you intimately know the hopes, dreams, fears of your audience. You know what keeps them up at night. You are well aware of how they are motivated. Being a thought leader means knowing the questions and answers that are always on your audience’s mind.

When you are passed the microphone for the biggest presentation of your life, will you be ready? Follow these tips and you’ll hear that pre-presentation buzz; you’ll feel that electricity and seize the moment.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

How NOT to introduce someone to your team

A manager hires a new worker and can’t wait to get her started.

He gets her settled in her new office, orients her to the restrooms, coffee maker, supplies closet.

A few minutes go by.

He returns to ask her: “Have you made any phone calls yet?” “Let’s get you into the rhythm of talking to our prospects.”

"Nice to meet you; now, I'll watch your every move. "

“OK,” the young, new, eager team member says.

“Would you like me to stay here and watch?” the high-pressure manager barks.

“Well, I don’t know,” whispers the now-trembling newbie.

“I could listen over your shoulder. OK, how about I wait just outside the door so I can hear? Would that be alright?” announces the imposing manager.

“Sure,” says the now beaten-down worker.

Not a true way to boost confidence in a new team member.

A better way:  let this young woman’s unique and special talents and gifts shine. There’s no one ‘right’ way to interact with a customer over the phone. Yes, there are some tactics and techniques to keep in mind. Know the product, pricing; be familiar with your ‘offer’ and how it should be positioned. Most importantly, however, be genuine, personal, honest and real; this is something that no script or ‘lurking’ boss can teach.

If this manager wanted this new hire to get the sense for how he makes calls to prospects, have her listen in on another line as he dials a few people. This is showing, not telling.

And yes, this actually happened; it’s not fiction.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

What can you learn by listening at Starbucks?

You can learn plenty by eavesdropping at Starbucks.

I am not conspicuously listening, yet I’ll ‘hear things’ as I read the paper (yes, I still do that…) or people watch.

  • I’ve listened in on girlfriend problems.
  • I’ve heard Mom complaining about her boisterous children.
  • I’ve watched a nervous, fresh college graduate try to convince an employer that she’s the one for the job.

The most revealing ‘listening experience’, however, just happened a few weeks ago in my local coffeehouse.

Near my table, two women huddled around a laptop and joyously built a presentation for an upcoming meeting. As they rattled away on the keyboard, they appeared giddy with the masterpiece that was coming to life on screen.

lady working on a powerpoint presentation

Will you remember anything from the next presentation?

These ladies sometimes struggled to find the right words on each slide; there were zero images or pictures. Some slides appeared to have 5 lines of text with about 50 characters per line. They browsed the thesaurus to look for power words without hesitation.  I said a little prayer for the audience that would have to sit through this long-form, extended dissertation. This unsuspecting audience would need an eye-check after this PowerPoint textual barrage.

I should have stopped these good-intentioned young ladies in their tracks by asking two vital questions:

1.       What is it that you are trying to say?

2.       What will everyone remember when it’s over?

When designing presentations, remember:

  • It’s not about you; it’s about the audience.
  • Your audience will remember very little from your presentation.
  • Make a few key points and make them resonate.

Excuse me, but I have to relocate tables at this Starbucks; I think I hear a father talking to his son about choosing a college. This is going to be good.

Like Starbucks?
Read about a few more unique encounters from this establishment:
How can a tap dancing girl at Starbucks give you an edge?
Your life will continue even if Starbucks is out of Cranberry muffins

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Going Off the Cliff with No Slides

I recently attended my company’s Summit 2007 at the Austin Convention Center.

My employer Builder Homesite designs technology solutions for the home building and home product manufacturer industries.

The Summit was designed to bring our customers together to learn about new products and solutions and to share best practices with one another. The Summit was a huge success and will hopefully become a yearly event.

The highlight of the event for me was the keynote speech by Gary Hoover. (check out his interesting read — Hoover’s Vision)

If you don’t know Gary, you should check him out. He is a serial entrepreneur who started up Bookstop, which pioneered the bookstore/coffee shop model which we all enjoy today, as well as Hoover’s Online, the outstanding business information that has helped companies and individuals make sound business decisions for decades.

Gary is a GREAT speaker.

He is a great speaker for two reasons.

1. No slides.
His keynote lasted about 45 minutes and he displayed no slides (not a one..). The audience dodged and weaved as he spun personal, captivating stories about business trends, observations, and key learnings. He had us laughing, chuckling, and marveling at the deep, profound insight that this man so willingly shares with the audience.

2. Off the cliff.
Gary is not afraid to take chances. He talked about eight keys to business success. A ‘typical’ speaker would place each ‘key’ on a slide and then focus on it rather than the audience. Gary kept the audience riveted by sharing a personal story around each point. He took chances with his storytelling and the barrier between audience and speaker was removed. I felt as if Gary was shooting the breeze with me on the couch. He wasn’t up on the pulpit preaching to us.
Thumbs up to Gary Hoover and to Builder Homesite for putting on a great event.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

Are you moving your target audience?

I recently read a great p0st from Doug Stevenson:
http://www.dougstevenson.com/2007/07/02/what-exactly-is-motivational-speaking-part-one/

Doug’s newsletter, blog, and Web site and great resources for anyone interested in being better communicators, storytellers, and leaders.

In this article, Doug cites the importance of ‘moving’ your target audience.
Are you working to:
Change the audience…
Inform the audience…
Entertain the audience…

So often in a corporate environment, you witness people mindlessly clicking through slides and talking emotionlessly about the latest initiative. It does not have to be this way!!

Be different. Be bold. Be memorable. Be courageous.
You can be entertaining and effective at the same time.
Thank you Doug for these solid words of wisdom.

Until next time,

Dan Naden
Naden’s Corner