Monday, October 1, 2012

Choosing a Projector

When it comes to projectors there are many choices and many considerations to be given.  One of the first things I like to do is check out reviews for any product I purchase.  What are the defects or faults noted by others about this product?  If a fault is noted by more than one reviewer, I take that information into serious consideration when making my purchase. 

With the option of showing data, video or photos on a projector there are many options on the market to suit your needs. Since we are discussing business presentations, we will be reviewing data projectors.

There can be many technical aspects when considering a projector, so use this simplified list to help you with your acquisition, especially if you are purchasing for the first time. 

1. Projector Resolution
Every projector has its own native resolution (standard). Look for a projector that has the native resolution to coincide with the resolution you work with on your computer.  I generally display PowerPoint presentations at 800X600, so I would shop for 800X600 native resolutions in a projector.  You may change the quality as you increase the resolution of your presentation from the native resolution of your projector.

2. Brightness
Measured in lumens, projector brightness is another important aspect so that your presentation so it can be viewed clearly.  For a typical presenter in a small to medium sized room I would recommend a minimum of 2600 lumens, which will handle most screens and hopefully you will have lighting control as well.

3. User Friendly
Generally speaking Projectors today are very user friendly.  Most remotes have slide progression, zoom in, zoom out, black out (blackens the screen), remote pointing device, sometimes a laser pointer and volume control.  Most remotes will also have the option to keystone.  Keystoning will allow you to reshape your image to fit appropriately on the screen, as generally your projector is at a different height than your screen.

4. Warranty
Stash your receipt somewhere for safe keeping.  This is a pretty big purchase and if there is an immediate problem within the first few days, you will want your receipt.  As for a warranty, I would say a primary large expense could be the projector lamp and although many should have a lifespan of 3000-4000hours, you just never know.  There is often a basic warranty which covers for a specific amount of time (with Casio here it is 3 year warranty and 180 days on the lamp).  If available, you could research an extended warranty.

Although my projector (Panasonic) is supposed to have 2000 hours of lamp life, at now over 1000 hours my lamp is beginning to fade.

5. Price
Price will be base substantially around your budget.  You should be able to pick up a decent Projector for $600-$800US that meets the criteria above.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Persuasive Presentations

Giving a persuasive presentation to an audience is one of the more difficult styles.  It takes great confidence and exceptional knowledge of the product, service or concept.

We are often called upon to use persuasiveness in aspects of our lives. We may try to convince an employee to work a weekend shift for us, persuade our neighbors to join a local campaign for city treasurer or make a call to your local politician’s office to get a pothole fixed.  We actually use persuasive methods throughout our daily lives without even realizing it; we try to get our office manager to buy a better tasting coffee for the break room, get our kids to clean their rooms, convince the wife that we need that new big screen TV, or perhaps more serious topics like convincing our partner to buy a new house or that it is time to start a family.
Most people want to share their goals or ideals with others, but often behind that sharing is the desire to impact someone enough to have them agree and even act on that changed opinion.  Some folks shy away from persuasive presentations because they lack confidence.  If you truly believe in what you are presenting, whether a proposal or a new product or service, with your enthusiasm and well researched information you will win your audience over.

In a persuasive presentation, you must deliver enough information to provide your audience with the tools to make a decision at the end of your speech.  Your content should be informative and backed up by examples or statistics, stories that leave an impression or just simply logic.  Your listener must be emotionally drawn into your presentation. So, share an event or experience that your audience can relate to. Get everyone fired up about the issue by explaining how it affects their future.  

Once you have presented your facts sincerely and passionately from your perspective, demonstrate how action or inaction on their part will make all the difference. This is how you create a true connection with your audience. As a presenter, you are the conduit for impacting your audience with the desire to take action, to make a change in their lives, or simply to bring them around to another way of thinking.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Choosing a Suitable PowerPoint Template

Microsoft PowerPoint, with a market share of nearly 95% is one of the most widely used presentation software in the market. It has now become almost an essential in every organization and for every professional. Everyone from academics to students use PowerPoint, as it helps them to display and present their ideas without wasting any time with other forms of presentation aid like whiteboards, blackboards, mechanical slides, etc. Having the right template for the presentation is vital, so it’s crucial to get it right. Content is the most important part of presentation, but what makes a presentation interesting and effective is the visual appeal. 

Title Page PowerPoint Template Sample (Fashion)

A template is basically a set graphics, and there are lots of combinations of different shapes, colors and style designs available, which help you in making an eye-catching PowerPoint presentation. Choosing the right template is the most important step in making any presentation effective. If you choose a template style that coordinates with the theme of your presentation, it will be inviting to your audience. For example, If you are presenting a topic related to business ethics, you don’t want to use a template that is designed for something like nature or environment. A template designed for business purposes would be more suited in this case. 
Aside from the built in templates that come with PowerPoint, there are many places on the internet to find free templates or very reasonably priced templates.  Here is a list for both free and reasonably priced websites at

For large template sites you can start by selecting the category you are looking for i.e., nature, business, shopping etc.  Then begin to consider which shapes and visuals represent your topic.  Keep in mind many internet templates may not permit you to make changes to the template as the whole background may have been done in Photoshop.  Ensure you find a template that meets all your graphic and text space requirements.

Another consideration is color, as color can be a very impacting element of a presentation.  Perhaps yellow with swirls in the background does not work best for you.  Here is a great article about the Psychology of Colors in PowerPoint 

There are a many considerations when it comes to choosing the perfect template; style, color, shape and the combination of elements that fit your subject. Take the extra time to find that perfect template to suit your needs. The way the presentation looks has a great impact on the way your subject matter is perceived.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Connect with Your Audience through Eye Contact

Building trust with your audience, even if it is one person, is crucial. Whether the conversation is informative, instructional, inspirational or persuasive, it means nothing without a level of trust.  No, they don’t need to trust you with their life; however, trust that what you have to say is accurate, well researched and that you are an authority on the topic.

A presenter will often get so caught up in what he has to say that he loses his connection with his audience and in turn loses their trust. Making that individual bond with your audience through eye contact will give them confidence in your presentation.  

You may not realize it, but even if you saw only the eyes of a person, you could tell a lot about their mood.  Whether romantic, angry, sad, happy; it will all show through the eyes.

Eye Contact Showing Happiness/Affection

Eye Contact Showing Anger or Suspicion

It is easy to just periodically scan the room with your eyes but then you are just going through the motions.  Avoid looking systemically at one person next to the other.  Mix it up and try to connect randomly with a person for a couple of seconds. Watch for their reaction with a facial expression.  If someone looks visibly uncomfortably with your eye contact, then avoid them to ease any tension and move on. Eye contact is viewed differently in various cultures and some folks just are not comfortable with it.  This is no reflection on your presentation.  When you do make that relation with an audience member, you as a presenter can embrace that energy to bring your public speaking to a new and greater level.

Practice with family and friends and get their feedback. For some presenters, this may feel overwhelming by adding another element to their public speaking; but with practice it will become natural and the audience will be compelled to come with you on your presentation journey.  You will not only build trust with your audience but confidence in yourself.

This important element of presenting with individual eye contact can truly change the way you are viewed by your audience.  They will look forward to hearing you speak again and knowing that you are sharing important information with them as oppose to just being a vehicle for the words. Embrace your audience and tell the story that needs to be told.

Monday, September 3, 2012

E-Learning with PowerPoint

It seems like everyone wants to get in on the e-learning craze these days. Whether for a business, nonprofit, educational institution or even just personal instruction, electronic learning is a versatile and dynamic way to convey information. But where does that learning content come from? 

Sure, you could spend thousands of dollars on content creation, purchasing expensive and complicated software or even outsourcing the entire project. However, that is not realistic for most people. Fortunately, quality content can be built using the tools you probably already have available. Even a modest modern PC can be used to develop sophisticated presentations far beyond what the average user could have done only a few years ago.

Take a look at PowerPoint, one of the most widely used tools for creating business presentations. Most likely you already have the software on your home or office PC. Whether you are doing public speaking or distance learning, PowerPoint can enhance the educational value of your presentations. It is easy to learn and easy to use, so you can build engaging e-learning content complete with animation, multimedia, even Web content, with just a few clicks. 

The great thing about PowerPoint is that anyone can do it - you don’t need to be a programmer, graphic designer or even an advanced computer user. If you can navigate a basic word processing program, you can find your way around PowerPoint. It is one of the easiest and best ways to create your e-learning courses.

A complete overview of how to use the software is beyond the scope of this article, but we’ll give you a few helpful tips to get you started:

1) Plan Ahead: Before you dive in and start creating your presentation, draft up an outline of what you will present. This can be as simple as a list of topics, or as complex as a full script. Decide what works best for you and your subject material.

2) Use Graphics...but Cautiously: Don’t go crazy with the clipart and auto-shapes. We’ve all seen those presentations, overloaded with corny graphics and lots of bright colors. For the most part, this approach makes your e-learning content look amateurish, and it doesn’t add real value. Go for a clean design with subtle and sparingly-used images. Choose meaningful charts and diagrams that illustrate your point, rather than clipart and stock photography that just makes more clutter.

3) Complement Yourself: An oft-repeated adage is that your PowerPoint slides should complement, rather than reiterate, your presentation. If you are just reading from the slides, your presentation is little more than a glorified cue card. This applies to video training and online learning courses as well as in-person public speaking events. Whatever supplemental materials accompany your presentation - and that can be anything from you speaking to an audience to electronic documents - should expand upon the content in your presentation, not simplyrehash it.

You can do some amazing things in PowerPoint, which makes for stunning and effective e-learning presentations. Of course, the above suggestions are just starting points. Spend some time getting familiar with the software and you’ll discover all kinds of ways you can present your content better than ever before.

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Present Sensitive Issues

Many thanks to Jason Holstein for guest blogging at All Things Presentation today.  Jason is an experienced writer and proofreader with a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota. 

Presenting to an audience can be stressful in even the best of circumstances. Giving a presentation about sensitive issues can pose an even greater challenge - but these are often the most important talks you can give! Don’t let a potentially awkward situation intimidate you.

Building rapport with your audience is an important first step in any presentation. This is even truer when dealing with sensitive topics. You’ll need to establish both trust and credibility. Some quick tips for connecting with your audience and delivering a successful presentation include:

- Tell stories: The most persuasive people in the world know the value of this technique. You don’t need to be a master storyteller, but you should be able to tell engaging, relevant tales that position yourself as knowledgeable about your topic. 

- Tell a joke: Humor can be used, in moderation and with tact, to good effect. However, the standard “open with a joke” technique may not be ideal when dealing with sensitive issues. You don’t want to come across as making light of the issue, and you certainly don’t want to tell a joke that could be offensive. Consider the context carefully and use humor only if it strengthens your presentation.

- Smile: You would be amazed what this simple trick can do for you. Not feeling it? Follow the old saying, “fake it ‘till you make it.” Even a forced smile triggers physiological reactions that can improve your mood.

- Be Honest and Empathetic: Your words are your most important assets. Make sure yours are believable. In dealing with sensitive issues, it is especially important that your audience acknowledge you as someone who has been where they have been, or at least as someone who can understand what they are dealing with. Let yourself be human, flaws and all, and practice genuine compassion for your audience.

- Keep Positive: Having the right attitude can go a long way towards an effective presentation. Don’t let your stress get the best of you. Relax and relay your information with confidence.

- Let go: Remember that you were chosen to give the presentation based on your own expertise, and you’ve already prepared your speech. The hard work is done and there’s nothing more you can do now, except deliver an amazing presentation. Try to just “let go.” If you have a spiritual or religious background, this might be a good time to say a prayer and “give it to God.”

These are just a few suggestions. When presenting sensitive issues, the basic techniques of powerful presentations are the same as for other topics. The key difference is that you need to be extra careful to avoid offending anyone, while your authority on the subject is more important than if you were dealing with a commonplace topic.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Toastmaster of a Wedding – Another Great Presentation Moment

Yes, Toastmaster or Master of Ceremonies at a wedding is another wonderful forum to give a memorable presentation.  It can be a great way to develop humor, sentiment and storytelling in a creative and loving way.

Presentation Training as Toastmaster
at a Wedding
As toastmaster at a wedding, you’ll be charged with initiating toasts, introducing speakers and delivering important announcements. Simultaneously, the toastmaster will also be responsible for keeping the activities of the wedding on schedule. As the toastmaster, your primary job will be communicating with the entire group present at the wedding, as well as helping the individual people in the wedding to fulfill their roles at the appointed times.

Don’t: Be rude to the guests and other speakers. While it is the job of the toastmaster to assure that the other speakers make their speeches on time, it is also important to keep the mood of the wedding happy. 

Do: Keep the flow of activities on schedule. It would be a tragedy if the entire wedding schedule were disrupted because the toastmaster failed to keep everything on schedule.

Don’t: Forget to obtain a copy of the weddings activities and proposed times for each event prior to the wedding.

Do: Rehearse your announcements and toasts in front of a mirror.

Don’t: Look down continuously at a cue card while speaking at the wedding.

Do: Keep each introduction of each speaker short and to the point.

Don’t: Incorporate any humor that can be viewed as mean-spirited during the speech.

Do: Begin your first announcement by telling the audience your name and a description of your relationship to the bride and groom.

Don’t: Feel that you have to wear a red jacket, as is the traditional attire for toastmasters.

Do: Stand up straight while speaking. Pull your shoulders back and stand tall.

Don’t: Forget to obtain a list of the other wedding speakers prior to the big day. Make arrangements to meet them before the wedding so that you can make a proper introduction.

Do: Make flattering comments about the bride.

Don’t: Drink too much before speaking or in between announcements. One drink is probably enough to help ease any butterflies in your stomach.

Do: Let your personality shine through. Feel free to speak from the heart. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Teachers and PowerPoint: Turn PowerPoint into a Game Show!

A great way to engage your students and have tons of fun is to be creative and turn your PowerPoint presentation from the standard text and pictures to something much more exciting--a Game Show!  

Making PowerPoint Fun for the Classroom

There are many reasons to use Game Shows in your classroom such as helping your students review material, prep for upcoming exams or just to have a good time learning.  Infuse excitement and fun into your lesson by using this method to hold their interest and watch them learn, even when they believe they are just playing a game!

The Murray County School District offers a fantastic list of great already-made templates of popular game shows, such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Jeopardy and Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

Depending on the material you want to cover, some games are better suited than others.

For general or questions spanning multiple subjects, Question/Answer games are best such as:

To help students remember terms, meanings and spellings the following games are best:

Here are a few more school and education sites offering different versions of the games listed and other games.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Eulogy and Public Speaking Etiquette

Writing A Eulogy

Being charged with the delivery of a eulogy can be a very difficult task.  Eulogies are doubly difficult to give because they require people to speak publicly about the emotionally challenging topic of death. In spite of these inherent difficulties, you can give a eulogy effectively by preparing properly ahead of the funeral. Follow the tips in this article to find out how to deliver this important speech. 

Use your own stories and speak to family members who may be able to share some wonderful and memorable stories that you can relay. Focus on that person’s life, not their death, and bring to light all the wonderful qualities that person shared with those around him.  Speak from the heart and the writing will come much easier.

Plan what you will say ahead of time and use a timer to determine the length of your speech. This will prevent your eulogy from going on too long. Keep in mind that you are likely to speak faster when you give the actual speech due to nervousness. Make every effort to keep your speech limited to the topics you have rehearsed and planned to say. 

Keep in mind that a eulogy isn’t the appropriate setting to discuss your own feelings of sadness. Rather, it is a time to look back upon the positive accomplishments and personality traits of the person you are remembering. A brief mention of the sadness you, as well as everyone else in the room, is experiencing is sufficient. 

When you walk to the front of the podium, stand tall and don’t slouch. Taking on the persona of a person who has their emotions under control will help you not to have an emotional breakdown in front of the funeral attendees. Even if you believe that there is no chance that you will begin crying while speaking, once you begin to look out on the audience and see the children and parents crying, you may feel different. Take a moment, roll your shoulders back and be confident in yourself while preparing to speak and during your speech. 

It isn’t necessary to be an eloquent public speaker to give a well-spoken eulogy. With advance preparation, your eulogy will remind the audience of the gifts left behind for the grieving family and friends. In conclusion, while giving a eulogy can be a very emotionally wrenching task, it is quite possible to give a speech that helps the loved ones of the deceased feel more at ease with his passing. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How to Teach Your Audience “How To” While Public Speaking

The goal when giving instructional presentations in a public speaking environment is to provide the audience with detailed directions or to guide them through a procedure. It’s common for this type of presentation to feature a longer length format than other types of presentations. 

When giving a presentation that is designed to teach the audience how to do something, it’s critical to keep the goal in the forefront of your mind. The audience should leave the presentation having learned something new that will enable them to complete a specific task.

Begin your speech by providing a vivid description of the reasons why the new information is necessary. Tell the audience what they will be able to accomplish after they learn the steps that you will teach in your instructional presentation.

Provide your audience with an outline of the topics you will cover. Remember that because you are engaged in public speaking to a group of people, your outline should be brief and should use verbiage that the members of that particular audience will understand. 

Use a visual aid to show the audience how to do the task. The visual aid can involve your demonstration of the task, or can involve the use of technology such as video or Powerpoint images indicating the steps involved.

Follow up the visual demonstration with a detailed verbal description of each step. This will allow audience members who aren’t visual learners the opportunity to learn the task. It is important to use clear communication that is geared toward the needs and educational level of the audience you’re speaking to. 

Just prior to the close of your presentation, it is important to open the floor for questions. Ask your audience members if they have any questions about the process you’ve taught. Take the time to give a clear and specific answer to each question. 

To close out your presentation, lead the audience in a discussion on the ways in which the new information will solve their problem. Whenever you are engaged in public speaking, it is important to end your speech with a short recap of the information you gave them. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Don't be Afraid of Humor

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: "Does this taste funny to you?"

Come on, you can tell me. You at least smiled a little. My husband has said that line a few times over the years and it still makes me smile (shake my head) but smile. Humor is a part of us, a part of our community, family and state of well being. Public speaking is another great place to share humor.

Gelotology (from the Greek gelos, meaning laughter) is the study of laughter and its effects on the body, from a psychological and physiological perspective. (Wikipedia).

We know laughter has been used in many therapies to help patients with pain management, there is laughter meditation and even laughter yoga (which I thought was a stretch)…sorry, I couldn't help myself there.

Keep it simple, keep it appropriate and don’t be afraid to use humor in your next presentation.

During a presentation, your humor doesn't have to be so in your face like my clown joke, but perhaps a little twist of words, a touch of appropriate sarcasm or a pun, can help hold the attention of your audience. Simply using a rhetorical question can get a giggle. For example “What’s another word for Thesaurus?” Or hubby’s favorite “Why is it so hard to remember how to spell mnemonic?” The internet is a great place to get some help if humor isn't your forte.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Presentation Writing Tip: Want to know your Audience? Put Yourself in their Shoes!

Presentation Writing Tip - Put Yourself in Their Shoes
What do action movies, a five-year old's birthday party, romance novels, and intense board room meetings all have in common? They all have very specific target audiences. People, by nature, group together under a banner of common likes, desires and needs.  Grabbing and holding a specific group's attention has been the business of media for centuries. But you may ask, what does that have to do with giving a presentation?

In a nutshell: Everything.

Knowing your audience dictates everything about your presentation, from the content, depth of scope, timing, tone and language.  

Let us pretend for a moment you are a new project manager for a real estate developer and at work one afternoon your boss leans against your desk and says, " I need you to give a fifteen minute presentation next week."
Your mind goes blank.  You haven't given a  presentation in years and you do not remember where to start. 

Don't panic, you just have to ask a critical question to get started on the right path.

"Who is my audience."

Let's assume your boss says," Potential buyers."

The image of families, cash buyers looking for an investment, first-time home buyers all come to mind.  You only have fifteen minutes, meaning you need to get to you key points--fast!  What are this group's needs and desires?

Put yourself in their shoes.  What would you want to know if you were a buyer?  Maybe the base price for all the models, their square-footage, lot size, cost of upgrades and incentives.  You may also want more information regarding the neighborhood, school district, local shopping and dining.  

But, let us rewind time and your boss says instead, "I want you to give a fifteen minute presentation to our investors."  
The investors needs and desires will be radically different than the buyers. 

What would you want to know if you invested money into the Jameson project?  Maybe the analysis of cost-over-profit, projected revenue, timelines of construction and percentage sold. Both presentations are given during the same time frame, but are vastly different because you tailored the presentation to fit the audience.

Taking a moment and pretending to be a member of your target audience will help you focus and find the key points to discuss for any presentation, regardless of the shoe size.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Free Professional Videos For Your Presentation

Have you ever felt your heart skip a beat during a suspenseful scene in a movie? Have you ever laughed during another part?  Cried?  Gotten angry?  Felt pity? Why?

The moving pictures, the music, and the dialog, play a symphony with our senses and emotions. Together they reach places within a person that sometimes words have a hard time penetrating. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to produce a high quality video without the deep pockets of a big budget studio.   

Most of us don’t have budgets for hiring a production team nor the skill to pull it off on our own. There are a host of production tools and cheap HD cameras available but often they come packaged with steep learning curves.  

Supplementing your presentations with video content doesn’t have to be a production bankrolled by a Hollywood studio.  You have another option. There are plenty of free, high quality videos on your topic waiting for you on the web.  So, use them instead.  

Here’s what I’m talking about.  Below is an example of a video that demonstrates proper CPR technique.  It was produced in cooperation with the American Red Cross.

Does the video look professional?  Yeah!  Do you want to know why?  It’s because professionals were paid to produce it!  That’s the beauty of and magic of it all.  You can use it and coat-tail that professionalism right on into your own presentation.  This means you have a professional video to use!  Give credit where credit is required, make sure that the video is licenced for general use, and you shouldn’t have problem!  Thank you Red Cross!  Someone’s using this video in a presentation right now and looking like a Rock Star doing it!

There are numerous sources for quality video that pertain to your topic no matter what it is. Below are a few examples that will give you a general idea of where you can look.

Search organizational websites: AARP, World Health Organization, OSHA.
Search news outlets: Fox News, CNN, BBC.
Enthusiast sites: Kiteboarding, Engadget, ESPN.

Oh, and let's not for the Granddaddy of them all,... Youtube!  Really?  Did you think I was going to skip right over Youtube? 

Here's some Youtube advice. Filter your search for High Definition video. You can also search for Creative Common videos. These are videos that have granted permission for reuse.

Search for HD videos for your presentations

The examples above don't come close to representing all the possible sources available on the Internet. I’m only whetting your creativity with the few I've provided.  Use what we've presented today to spark an idea or two, and let us know in the comments what you come up with.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PowerPoint Presentation Writing Tip - Less is More

Effective presentation skills
Do you have a great topic you want your audience to find just as interesting as you and yet, you find your audience is distracted, many do not make eye-contact, and at the end, you have a lackluster response.

You may think, Maybe it is me?

But maybe it is your slides.

Writing an effective PowerPoint presentation is not about how much you can write on each slide, but what you write on them.
PowerPoint presentations are full of fantastic tools to enhance your presentations and it is very easy to fall into a common problem commited by presenters.

Writing too much on their slides.

Too much information on screen will hurt your presentation more than it will help. Presenters may feel safe to read directly from their slides, but doing this you may inadvertently alienate your audience, undermine your credibility and distract them from what should be their main focus--you and your topic.

Slides are meant to be like line-coaches for actors on stage, prompting you to remember your next point with a meaningful trigger.

Let’s look at a iconic presentation given by Steve Jobs.  His presentations were the famous for their simplicity. But because his presentations were so bare, it forced the audience's attention to Jobs and his dynamic personality.

Tips for writing an effective slide:
  • Keep it simple.
  • Use meaningful triggers for yourself
  • Do not clutter slides with too much text
  • Remember, keep it simple and hit your mark!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Speak Up at Toastmasters

Effective Presentations - Toastmasters
Toastmasters is a non-profit organization helping members improve their communication, public speaking and leadership skills. As a member of Toastmasters for 3 years, it was a very pivotal time in my career as I moved into more training positions within my job.  Aside from the wonderful people I met at Toastmasters, it was an opportunity to practice speaking techniques, obtain feedback, and implement new tips and tools to improve my presentations. I gained a great deal of insight from watching and listening to others that spoke at meetings; their timing, gestures, expressions, use of the space, and WOW was I impressed at some of the amazing speakers I came across.  

Toastmasters is an opportunity for you to practice without the worry of being uncomfortable if you mess up, go too fast, stammer or fall off the stage.  In either case, they will pick you back up, dust you off and stand you on that stage again.  The thoughtful critiques and suggestions they are offer are invaluable.  Toastmasters want each and every member to become an exceptional speaker.  You can be new to public speaking or perhaps a very experienced public speaker; either way you are welcome to Toastmasters.

Improving your speaking skills can help in many aspects of your life.  Job interviews, promotions, toast master at your brother’s wedding or just a great confidence builder.  With over 270,000 members and more than 13,000 clubs, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a meeting near you.  Bring your presentation skills to a whole new level.

Find a Toastmasters near you.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Presentation Training - Use of Space

We all strive to bring our presentations to life and movement can be a very powerful tool to accomplish that goal.  It can give importance to a statement, raise the energy, or bring a presentation down to a thoughtful ending.  Movement can completely change the audience response and create a very effective presentation.

Use different areas of space to create distinctive impacts:

1. Moving Forward - Moving forward towards your audience can create a very close connection with your participants. This is the most powerful position and used to emphasize an important point, draw emotions or simply get the audience’s attention to your topic.

2. Moving Backward - Moving back will put your audience in a more relaxed-listening frame of mind.  Be certain to maintain appropriate body language to keep your audience listening and attentive to your topic.

3. Moving Left to Right - Moving from left to right, even with small movements, is a great way to demonstrate contrasting points. Left to right movements are a great method for representation of pros and cons, past and future, before and after or two points of views.  Remember, the movements don’t have to be big walking the length of the space, but can simply be a small step either side and perhaps using a hand or arm gesture in that direction.  Occasionally, using all of your lateral space is a great tool to engage all of your audience.  If you stick to one side of a stage or room, you run the risk of isolating the opposite side.

Presentation Training - Use of Space
Presentation Training - Use of Presentation Space

Use your movements wisely and don’t wander aimlessly in the space as it will appear that you are uninterested in your topic or bored.  Just as you rehearse a speech, you should be rehearsing body language, facial expression and yes, even movement.

Move smart and keep our audience moving with you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Free Royalty Free Music For Your Videos And Presentations

Public Speaking

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if suddenly all of our moments had a soundtrack?  You know, the movies.  So, you are enjoying a stroll through the park on a nice, sunny day.  Life is good.  The background music is light and airy.  Do you see where I'm heading with this now?  Later, you are sneaking up on an unsuspecting friend and in the background the JAWS theme is building slowly to the crescendo.   You strut into a crowded room.  All eyes are on you...what song announces your grand entrance?  Is it something raucous like Black in Black by AC/DC or is it sassy like Material Girl by Madonna?

This fantasy isn't too hard to visualize, is it?  We are so steeped in cinematic culture that we can almost see our lives unfolded through camera angles and scored for dramatic effect.  It's cliche now, and sometimes annoying, but when a friend reveals something shocking, the jokester in the group will inevitably deliver a few bars of the token, "DUM DUM dummmmm," that accompanies similar situations in the movies.  Music has a way of shaping our thinking and informing our emotions.  Hollywood knows this. The "DUM DUM dummmmm" would tell us what was going on even in the absence of dialog.

Presenters often use music in the same way that Hollywood does.   As you train to be a better presenter, try practicing addressing your audience's senses with music as you address their intellect with your words.   It's an excellent presentation tip to add to your accumulating list of presentation skills.

Here are some examples.  Your videos need music.  Don't you agree?  To the audience, your video is a home movie, otherwise.  Transitions between PowerPoint slides or other forms of media can be scripted with music too.  Have you thought about that?  It will add flavor to an otherwise ordinary event.   OK, so where do you get this music shy of ordering up some one on one time with an orchestra?  Don't say, "My iPod."  Yeah, you paid for it, but Lady Gaga didn't give you permission to use it in your presentation.

Here's a clever option for your magical bag of presentation tricks;  use royalty free music.  Royalty Free means you can use it without infringing on the author’s copyrights.  Lady Gaga isn't going to come around demanding a check because you used her tunes in your slides.  Royalty free means worry free.

So how do you find the best sites for free royalty free music?  There are tons of websites available that offer free royalty free music, you just have to find them.  Below is a video from IndyMogul that breaks down the absolute best sites for free high quality royalty free music.  I've included their list below the video.  Enjoy.