Saturday, May 13, 2017

Your presentation and your PowerPoint display.......

The big news is:  Your PowerPoint deck of slides is not your Talk!  Is not your Talk!
There will come a day when you are about to speak at to an audience and for some reason you are not able to use your PowerPoint deck!

Here's some tips:

What is your purpose?
Who is the Audience?
What do they know already?
What can you share with them?
What do you want them to do after you have spoken?

Now start with a very simple mind map.
List the points you want to cover.
Then divide those points into three columns - give each column a heading.  (for example,
past /present /future, or
problem/solution 1, solution 2, or

You now have the basic content of your talk.  (For a recommended full structure of your talk, check my blog post of :

Sunday, October 9, 2016  Public Speaking - How to Structure your Presentation

When you have finalised your structure, you can think about the PowerPoint slides you will need.
Generally speaking, use slides to illustrate the points you make in your talk.  And, only ones that you can't describe in your own words.  Big graphics and absolute minimum text.  
And, you CANNOT, MUST NOT, repeat, word for word, any text that is on your slides. Paraphrasing is permissable.  As well, next on slides is abbreviated - never spelled out in correct grammar!  You don't need the helping words - like an, of, the,  etc.
The reason for this is - you don't want to be speaking to the audience - and then showing a slide that takes more than a minute to read!  If you have 10 to 15 slides (far too much) why would you want to take the focus off yourself as presenter for an aggregated half of your talk!  The speaking platform is a very powerful space.  Connect with your audience as much as possible.

You are the star of the show!  The slides are not your talk - they are your support.  

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Public Speaking and Confidence

2017 - Bring it on!

Here we are - the second month of  the new year - 2017!  Have you ever known such a tumultuous start to a new year?

I've begun coaching my new 2017 clients and resumed with ongoing clients, including some returning to refresh their skills for upcoming speaking roles. Underlying everything we learn together is our uptake of the one ingredient that can make a huge difference to our lives.

That ingredient is CONFIDENCE! 

Your level of confidence as a speaker is profoundly visible in your personality, your voice and your body language.
Confidence.  How can you find it?  Where do you get it?  Why do you need it?

Think of the wide range of skills you have acquired in your life.  Learning to study in your chosen discipline or trade, playing a sport, playing a musical instrument .  How did you acquire these skills?  You found a teacher or coach, you learned the techniques; and you practised them.  And very likely you are still practising and refining those skills!

It's the same with public speaking.  You find a coach, you learn the techniques; and then you practise like mad! 

Your confidence grows

*     as you understand your positive and negative self-talk.
*     as you understand the parameters of your unique voice
*     as you learn how to structure the content and purpose in your speaking roles
*     as you create habits that turn nervous energy into positive energy
*     as you learn to enjoy your speaking roles!

As a public speaking coach I have one absolute statement for you:

"There is nothing that will take you to where you want to be in life than the ability to think on your feet, choose the right words and speak with CONFIDENCE!"

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Public Speaking - How to Structure your Presentation

Send your comments on this PRESENTATION STRUCTURE diagram to:

Whether you know it or not, any talk or presentation you give to an audience will consist of these components:

- You will have an Opening, even if it is just you walking on to the stage and beginning to speak.
- As a courtesy, especially for a longer talk, you will give the audience an overview Signpost of  what you will be covering in your talk.  The signpost is also the place where you may have to give  the audience some "housekeeping" details, e.g. the timing of your talk, the point at which you will have Question time. (Don't leave Question Time until the very end because then it can be a very untidy end to your presentation with, sometimes, people leaving the room before you have a chance to give a summary and close.
- The Body of your Talk.  Your talk will be on more than one element of your topic.  The Rule of Three  works well here.  This is where you start writing your talk. Don't waste time thinking of the title - it will reveal itself in the body of your talk.  Very probably, so will the Close of your talk.
- If there's Question Time, place it after the body of your talk.  (Email me if you want to know the reasons for this)
- Summary:  this is where you can acknowledge questions raised in Question Time.  You can even introduce some material you may have forgotten to mention.
- Call to action: What do you want your audience to do, after you have finished speaking? If it is "nothing"  Why are you there?  Why are they listening?  It can be as little as "Now you are better informed on this topic" through to "Now you have seen what benefits body organ donation can result in, and you can sign up right here and now."

- Close: Here you may repeat what I call your absolute statement.  

If you had only 30 seconds to give this presentation - what would be your statement? In one sentence?   Make sure that everything in your talk is congruent with this one absolute statement.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Public Speaking for Business Professionals

Speaking for Business Professionals

Fear of public speaking is one of the most common forms of anxiety. Yet most business professionals will be required to make a presentation in front of a live audience at some point in their careers. And as your role within an organisation becomes more important and strategic, your presentations will become more frequent and will need to be more persuasive, not just informative.
Whether you are speaking to clients, employees, investors or the media, effective presentation skills are essential to your professional success.

Unfortunately, public speaking is an art form that requires constant practice to master. While there are many books and courses on this topic, here are a few basic tips to improve your business presentations.

Know your key messages

The best public speakers are great story tellers. They introduce a human dimension to their presentations and take their audiences on a journey. They speak in sound bites and never give the answers up front. They lead their audience along, sparking their interest, and give them just enough information to leave them wanting more.

To ensure that their audiences retain the desired key messages, they divide their presentations into small, digestible chunks of complete information.

And above all, the best public speakers know precisely what lasting impressions they want to convey to their audiences. They craft three to five key messages that are believable, understandable, succinct, and relevant to the audience. And then they carefully build their entire presentation around them.

Rule of three

One of the oldest and most common techniques in public speaking is the rule of three. As it turns out, people are much more likely to remember something if you package it in a list of three. This technique has been used successfully throughout the ages, including Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg address: “… a government of the people, by the people, for the people.” The rule of three is also inherently persuasive, so always give your audience three reasons to believe any assertion you make.

10-20-30 Rule

Microsoft PowerPoint is still almost the de facto visual presentation tool in most business settings. Ironic, since only 20 percent of the population learns better visually. In fact, 78 percent of audiences say that PowerPoint slides put them to sleep, so use it sparingly. When used correctly, however, PowerPoint can be a very effective tool, especially when showing figures or complex operations to a large audience.

Your PowerPoint slides are not the structure of your talk.  They are only the aid to memory. You need to prepare your talk as if you will not be able to show your slides, for whatever reason. 

When developing a PowerPoint presentation, especially for clients, investors or the media, who all have a notoriously short attention span, follow the 10-20-30 rule: 10 slides, 20 minutes, and at least 30-point font. And keep in mind that images are always more powerful — and memorable — than words.

This piece of advice on Public Speaking for Business Professionals is adapted from:

Sam Goodner is CEO of Catapult Systems Inc., an information technology consulting company. He was a 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award winner for Central Texas.  

Speaking in Public: two errors that lead to fear

First Error:      You believe that you are being actively judged by your audience.

Second Error:  You believe that the subject of your talk is you!

Well, actually, you are being judged by some people in the audience.  They might be thinking - "why did she wear that skirt? - it's too short, it's too long - why is he wearing brown shoes with a grey suit?
Would you look at that tie?  But, at that moment, that form of critique is None of Your Business.  Full Stop.

It will soon stop as soon as you engage them with your opening lines.  Which you should always fully memorise - and deliver with power and with vocal variety.

When you stand up to speak, the temptation is to believe that the audience is primarily interested in you.  They're not!  They're thinking - what has this person got that will be useful to me?  So believe that the the emphasis is not on you.  It's on them.  You need to negate this form of fear with the understanding that you are coming from a position of service. That you have got something valuable to share with them - your story, your experience, specific tips on the subject  you are sharing.

The audience is primarily interested in themselves.  They listen to your talk to learn something new that they can use in their own lives.

When you draft your talk - look to see where you can replace the word "I" with words like you, your, we, and us.  This reinforces the idea that the talk is not about You.  But about your audience.  Think about it as the idea that you are giving them something of value.

Quite different to the old style of speaking at your audience you are now sharing with them

When you realise this and focus on the giving to the audience, you lose your fear because your focus shifts from you to them!  And, as your audience responds to you in your position of service, your fear will diminish. You will enjoy connecting with your audience!

These public speaking are tips adapted from Seth Godin, December 2013

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Have you got a TED Talk in you?

Have you got a TED talk in you?  An idea to share? A compelling life experience to reveal?

As a TED speaker, you’ll have up to 18 minutes to share your idea.  You’ll be looking to making it compelling.  You’ll be hoping to inspire your audience.  

You won’t be using notes.  There will be no lectern to hide behind.  There’s just you in the spotlight and an audience of 600 people willing you to do well!

How will you do all that?

My Speaker's Guide  explains the key elements of public speaking in the TED style: 

Ninety Percent of how well you perform is already determined BEFORE you reach the TED stage.  And the ten percent?

The Ten percent is the performance.  The glory!  The thrill of connecting with your audience! 

As a TED Talks coach, I'll show you the techniques you'll need to share your idea with your audience and the world.  And most of all, I'll make sure it's a positive and enjoyable experience for you as a TED Talks Speaker.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Public Speaking TED Style - Contemporary Public Speaking

Find your unique voice

Public Speaking TED Style – the What the Why and the How..........

As a Speaking Coach, the most common enquiry I receive goes like this:

Hi Sofia, “I would like to learn how to speak publicly. I've done a little bit but I often get very nervous, even in front of a small crowd, especially when I'm not completely prepared.  Can you help?”

Why is this enquiry typical?   The words “nervous” and the phrase “especially when I’m not completely prepared”.  When you consider that 90% of your public speaking presentation is already determined before you step on to the platform – you have an idea of the importance of preparation.  It’s only after you have learnt how to prepare that you can enjoy the 10% - the thrill and the pleasure of presenting.

There is so much available and accessible information, tips and techniques on the topic of public speaking.   There are so many books that have been written – there are so many gurus out there who promise to show you how. There are even those who claim they can provide you with instant confidence, kill nerves etc. – and often in a one day workshop costing many hundreds of dollars. 
There are so many theories.

Contemporary speaking is very different from what many of us know as public speaking.  I help my clients to speak in the TED Style – in the contemporary style – that has as its goal CONNECTING with your audience.  This is a win for your audience and for you.  When you keep them connected – your confidence increases.  If you lose them – observe how you feel.  Worse than awful!

There have been so many “secrets, tips and techniques” published on how to be  confident speaker – and if that’s all it took, we would all be brilliant speakers, with fabulous content, and adoring audiences!  There is no secret – or, if you like, the secret is called PREPARATION.