Tips for Visual Aids in Speeches

Ever wonder why you remember some presentations and not others?  It could be because good speakers do more than just address what you hear. They address what you see.  Here are 3 hints for making the visual part of your speech memorable: Make your photos BIG on the screen. It’s easier to get an emotional reaction the crowd when you monopolize their visual space. Think like  Steven Spielberg. Your audience is used to not just good…but GREAT…visuals. Use close up photos. Wide shots are useful but your audience might miss what you really want them to notice. Use videos. Millennials expect action.  

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Enjoying your own speech

An attendee at one of my presentation skill training sessions told me the thing he knew he must change: his facial expression. Because I video each speaker, he got a chance to see what his audience saw–that he looked pained and uncomfortable up in front of a group.  Frown lines were apparent. What kind of message did that send to his audience?  It gave them the impression that he really didn’t like spending time with them and sharing this information.  However, that was not the case at all. He did feel confident that he knew his information well. He liked his colleagues. But his facial expressions and body language did not echo that. Whether or not you like being in front of a group, you must make the audience sense that you are comfortable with your information … and yourself…and them.  If not, they won’t think you are a credible speaker. In any case, my advice is the same. Think about what your audience sees when they look at you. A smile goes a long way to help you appear more approachable. If you have the chance, videotape yourself when you  make a presentation. You may be surprised at the message you send.

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Being in the Spotlight is a Must for Bosses

Part of a boss’ job is to communicate to large groups of employees. But that work responsibility doesn’t come easy for some supervisors. In my book, Tough Talks® in Tough Times: What Bosses Need to Know to Deliver Bad News, Motivate Employees, and Stay Sane, I address the need for constant, two-way, open conversation between managers and their employees. In this discussion with Ron Culp for Chicago Now, I explain to him how one boss in particular handled the spotlight well.

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Hints for better videos in your speeches

Audiences expect visuals used in presentations to be as captivating as their favorite TV shows or movies. It used to be very expensive to add videos to speeches and business PowerPoints. Because high definition cameras are very affordable, using a great visual aid doesn’t have to break your budget anymore. Here are more hints on how to produce your own effective videos. These hints can be used for business videos as well as your home videos.

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Good speeches demand great visual aids

Gone are the days when speaking publicly meant only that–speaking. Today’s audiences expect your presentations to include visuals that elicit emotions, give direction, clarify hard to understand concepts, and are easy to look at and comprehend. Graphic artists can do amazing things to make your words come to life. Another way to WOW your audiences is to use videos. Here is Part 1 of a series I shot to demonstrate how to shoot good videos your audience will want to watch.  Enjoy.

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Fear of Speaking: How to Overcome It

If you are one of the dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of people who dread public speaking, you know that knot-in-your-stomach, sweat-soaked feeling is nothing you can wish away. The more you speak in public, the easier it gets.  To speed up your learning curve and overcome your fear of speaking, there are specific techniques you can use. Here is a video highlighting public speaking tips that can be used in your next presentation.

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Speeches for an international audience

Do you get the chance to speak in front of an audience that is made up of people whose native tongue is not yours?  If so, you may get the chance to have a  translator for your presentation.  Here is a great article from a colleague of mine, Alan Stevens, who is a media relations guru and crisis management specialist from London. He is currently speaking in Beijing, China, and has these tips for working with a translator: If you speak regularly, there’s a good chance that at some point you will speak to an audience that doesn’t understand your language, so you may require a translator. The most common type by far is simultaneous translation, so allow me to offer you a few tips. Send your slides at least a week before the event Include presenter notes with the slides you send, so the translator can prepare Use words on your slides (even if you normally don’t) Meet the translator before your speech Slow down Be very careful with humour Talk about global issues and brands Everything will be translated, including your asides to the organiser You may need access to translation during the Q&A Always thank the translator. You may need them again one day Also, bear in mind that you may not be able to deliver as much information as usual. It’s more important to ensure that your audience understands one point in detail rather than several points in outline. Lastly, I always supply a text summary […]

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Passion in speaking about a non-work interest

Are you passionate about something other than work?  If so, when you speak about it in public, you can improve the skills you need to stand up in front of group and make a presentation at work.  Learning to hone your ability to answer questions and develop sound-bites can help you become an excellent speaker in all areas of your life. Jeff Saturday, future NFL Hall of Fame center, of the Indianapolis Colts, is passionate about football.  He is also very adamant about about eliminating the commercial sex trade. And he speaks publicly about what he is doing. I was recently invited to Jeff’s Celebrate the City Super Bowl party. Jeff talked to me about his fund raising efforts to prevent the exploitation of children in the sex trade industry throughout the world. Jeff and his wife are co-chairing an event on March 2 at the Indiana Football Center (Colts complex), hoping to raise $100,000 to build a children’s home in Cambodia to keep kids safe from human trafficking. Additionally, Jeff joined the Indiana Attorney General in signing a pledge to put an end to  public tolerance for human trafficking. This was part of our conversation. Lessons about public speaking from this Jeff Saturday conversation: Be ready for a quick response when someone asks you about your involvement in a cause. Jeff did not hesitate at all, despite the fact that there was a party taking place all around us. Don’t drone on and on about your topic. Jeff gave […]

Posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Media Relations, Professional sports, Sound-bites. Leave a Comment

Pre-Speech Beginnings Must be Planned

Want to make a great entrance when you are giving an important speech? Just ask Leslie Knope, political candidate for the city council in the fictitious Pawnee, Indiana, how to start a speech strongly…or how not to. Knope, played by Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation, was presenting to a crowd of 100 spectators and had a red carpet for her entrance to the speaker’s dais. But the red carpet didn’t go all the way to the stage; the floor, which was supposed to be a basketball court, had been changed to an ice rink; and her motivational music, “Get on Your Feet,” lasted 10 seconds and had to be replayed in spurts for her to reach the podium 90 seconds later. Watch this snippet for a good laugh, and then learn the lessons about the pre-speech details. Lessons to heed before you start speaking: You are in charge of everything involved in your presentation. That includes your introduction, any music or media used, any props, the seating of the audience. Make sure your introducer knows what you want him/her to say, can pronounce your name, and runs his/her words by you. In many cases you will have to make a few adjustments. If you use music or multi-media in your speech, you must make sure you have the rights to do so. Intellectual property rights apply. I use videos that I have shot and edited. And on occasion, I use clips from movies that I have licensed for use […]

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Presentations in an NFL Locker Room = a Tough Talk

I would have loved to have been in the locker rooms of many NFL teams to hear the speeches given by the head coaches yesterday. What could be said to motivate the teams that were still in the hunt for a good post-season placement?  I’m sure those speeches were well-thought presentations. And they were talks given with passion. But motivating professionals at the top of their performance was probably not that much different than it was all season. But consider the pep talk given to those at the bottom of the pile. Especially to the Indianapolis Colts. It had to be a very tough talk Jim Caldwell, the head coach, delivered. That’s the one I would have wanted to hear. Just as any leader does, he faced complex issues, including employee illnesses, naysayers with de-motivating messages, and workers worried about their jobs. Here was what boss (coach) Caldwell had on his plate: Nothing seemed to go right this season. Injuries. Penalties. Referee calls going against the team. 12 straight losses. The team went through 3 back-up quarterbacks after Peyton Manning’s neck injury kept him off the field the entire season. Caldwell’s job was on the line, as was the employment status of most of the team. A complex reason that wasn’t in the regular playbook: A loss in the final game would ensure the Colts would get the first pick in the April NFL draft. The negative theme of “Suck for Luck” was heard all around Indianapolis.  Andrew Luck, the […]

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Good Presentation Impressions

I’m always on the lookout for good presentation styles.  It doesn’t have to be public speaking in front of a large audience. It could be a customer service representative, a sales person, someone or some organization I come into contact with in every day occurrences. I note what impresses me.  The good, the bad and the ugly of communication styles. Recently, I was in Connecticut and had a few extra hours and decided to explore. I came across The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York. It was wonderful.  Great exhibits, no crowds, unbelievably cheap admission fees. For 2-3 hours, I was captivated. All for $5. I thought about how this experience relates to giving speeches. Here’s what I observed that you can put into practice for your next presentation: Surprise your audience by being great. I didn’t expect this out of the way place to be so over-the-top interesting. Your audience may expect a standard presentation from you. (That’s the way most business presentations are viewed.)  Make sure your presentation is over-the-top interesting/valuable/insightful. Put your creativity to work when you develop your speech or PowerPoint. One of the most creative exhibits was Red Grooms: The Bookstore. Make your audience glad they are there. I was thrilled at the “find.” Give the people who hear your presentation something they can remember and talk about after you are done. I’ve been telling lots of people about the Hudson River Museum since I returned and recommending it to people who live […]

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Real-IMPACT Presentation Hints

If you are one of the dozens, hundreds, thousands, millions of people who dread public speaking, you know that knot-in-your-stomach, sweat-soaked feeling is nothing you can wish away. The more you speak in public, the easier it gets.  To speed up your learning curve and overcome your fear of speaking, there are specific techniques you can use. Here is a video highlighting public speaking tips that can be used in your next presentation.

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Why Media Training Takes Time

Is there a possibility that someone in the news media might interview you in the future?  If so, here’s a look at what you can expect from media training. This is a repost of an article from one of my international colleagues, Alan Stevens, whose company is called “The Media Coach.”  He outlines his process for getting someone ready for an interview. FIVE MINUTES ON AIR, FIVE HOURS PREP There tend to be two different ways that people look at media interviews, Some people feel that since they know their topic inside out, they barely need to prepare, since they will able to deal with any question. Other people are so terrified of being interrogated by a reporter that they spend days analyzing the worst questions, and practicing avoidance tactics. I advocate a different approach. Your five minutes of airtime is a golden opportunity to deliver a simple, effective, relevant message. When I’m preparing a client for a media encounter, we spend a lot of the time preparing the message, and then practicing ways to deliver it in an answer to any question. That doesn’t mean avoiding the question altogether, but it does mean focusing on your message rather than trying to figure out what the journalist wants to know. Preparing for a five-minute interview on national radio or TV, I generally split the time up roughly this way: An hour deciding what message to deliver An hour refining the message An hour practicing delivery of the message An hour […]

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Learning from The King’s Speech

Ever wondered what it’s like to work with a speaking coach? The Oscar winning movie, The King’s Speech, is an excellent example of how a person with serious presentation skill problems can overcome difficulties with the help of a communications expert. Although the king had a stuttering problem, many of the techniques his speech coach used with him are the same as those I use with executives in one-on-one coaching. Here is an analysis of one speech technique exercise in the movie. You can do it on your own to improve your presentation skills. Abdominal breathing exercises for speakers …or “Sit on him, Queen Mum.” Most people breathe shallowly, expanding only the upper regions of their lungs. Long sentences are almost impossible to get through without sounding winded. A good speaking technique is to breathe diaphragmatically. In simple terms, your waistline should expand when you inhale. When you exhale, your waistline should be its smallest. It’s much easier to illustrate this if the person learning this presentation skill technique lies down on the floor. The “breather” (speaker) can better see the movement of the diaphragm by watching his or her abdomen rise and fall. Inhale and your stomach rises. Exhale and it falls. It’s almost impossible to breathe the wrong way in this position. In The King’s Speech, the presentations skill coach had the future Queen Mum sit on the monarch’s stomach while the king practiced breathing more deeply. Since I don’t have access to Queen Mums when I work […]

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Getting your expertise noticed

Here are 5 strategies to use if you want to be noticed for your expertise: If you have one comment to make, summarize your point in one sentence and then go into detail for 30 seconds. This keeps you on track and shows your colleagues you can be focused and succinct. If you have several comments to make, start off by saying, “I’d like to address 3 points: point A, point B and point C. In terms of point A, …. ”  When you list the points, they should be phrases only. This will set the stage for expressing comments on each of the 3 points  at some time in the meeting, even if you only speak about point A before there is open discussion. Later on, you can chime in with,  “I’d like to go back to point B.  We might want to consider…..” Inhale deeply and then project your voice by speaking from the diaphragm (abdominal breathing). This is essential for those who are shy, because it gives more power to your words and persona and can eliminate any shakiness in your voice. Listen to others. All too often, people who are shy about speaking up at meetings spend too much time rehearsing what they will say and miss what others are contributing.  When you can tie your comments into something someone else said, it shows you are a team player.  Start your entry into the discussion by saying,  “I’d like to follow up on what Joe said […]

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Speaking up confidently

Do you keep quiet at meetings because you lack confidence speaking about the topic?  If so, you might want to read this article on CNN’s website. I was quoted in the  article about how to speak up with confidence at a meeting. I offered the hint about abdominal breathing. Here’s an excerpt. 3. Belly breathe: Public speaking can be nerve-wracking, but you don’t have to let it show. Abdominal breathing will make you sound confident by giving strength to your voice. To use this technique: “Inhale deeply and then project your voice by speaking from the diaphragm,” says Jean Palmer Heck, president of Real-Impact, Inc. “This is essential for those who are shy, because it gives more power to your words and persona and can eliminate any shakiness in your voice.” Here’s the full article with “5 tips for speaking up confidently at meetings.”

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PR Tips for small businesses: Get busy speaking

When a small business owner asks me how he or she can get more PR or publicity for their companies, I often suggest getting out on the speaking circuit.  Local service clubs are always looking for someone to speak to their group.  That doesn’t mean it’s just a free advertisement.  It means that if you have an entertaining, educational, relevant material, they’d like to meet you and hear what you have to say.

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What Business Speakers Say They Must Practice

When I conduct presentation skills training sessions for businesses and organizations, I always ask the attendees to share with me key points that they will work on after the session. I’m only with them for a short period. My sessions range from half-day training to four-day sessions spread over several months. So when I’m gone, they need to make sure they put into practice what they have learned about standing up in front of a group and making an effective presentation. Here are some of the things that they have told me: 1. Enjoy the process and look the part. 2. Speak more loudly. 3. Make the visuals much larger. 4. Breathe abdominally to relax. 5. Make better eye contact. 6. Use more stories and analogies. 7. Drink lots of water. 8. Don’t be afraid to be creative. 9. Get out from behind the lectern. I’ll go into more depth on these issues in future blogs.

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Tiger Woods Makes a Predictable Mistake

Here’s a great article by Jerry Brown, who is a guru on crisis communication.  Take heed: Tiger Woods Makes a Predictable Mistake By Jerry Brown, APR Some stories feel incomplete the first time you hear them.  They leave you feeling like there’s a lot being left unsaid.  And, of course, the part that’s being left out is the juicy part – the stuff you really want to hear. That’s the kind of story that makes reporters dig deeper.  And the kind of story the rest of us are likely to follow as it unfolds. Tiger Woods’ weekend car wreck was one of those stories. Where was he going at 2:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving night?  How did he manage to get going fast enough right out of his driveway to knock himself silly?  What about that tabloid rumor he’s been fooling around with another woman?  Was he trying to get away because his wife was attacking him? In his only comment so far, Woods refers to such speculation as “false, unfounded and malicious rumors.”  That may be true.  And you could argue it’s nobody’s business anyway.  After all, there’s no apparent crime and he didn’t hurt anyone but himself. But Woods is a celebrity.  He’s canceled at least three appointments to discuss the wreck with the police.  And he’s being extremely secretive about what happened during an incident that should be easy to explain in detail.  If Woods’ version is true, the story goes away as soon as he fully […]

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TV News: Is it still relevant?

Karen Friedman, a communications coach based in Philadelphia, has an article on this subject.  She says the question should be, “Does TV news matter as much as it once did?” Here are excerpts from her article. The link for the full report is below. “Research suggests that it does not. According to data from Nielsen, viewership of the three evening network news programs has steadily declined over the past 25 years, falling by more than 1 million viewers each year — translating into millions of dollars in lost annual revenue. The 2009 Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s State of the News Media annual report says that local news staffs, already too small to adequately cover their communities, are being cut at unprecedented rates. As a result, this caused local revenues to fall by a surprising 7 percent in a single election year— and ratings continue to drop. Only cable news is flourishing.” “Rick Williams, executive producer at WPVI-ABC TV in Philadelphia, … says that because younger viewers find most of their information on the Internet, it is critical to cross-promote news between the TV and Web platforms.” “For example, stations are now streaming news events live and carrying breaking stories on their Web sites. Viewers no longer have to wait until the evening news programs. To do this, many stations have hired producers who only create Web content, update stories online, produce video for Web sites and generate breaking-news alerts that are sent to subscribers’ cell phones and e-mail.” […]

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