Archive for the ‘Presentation Skills’ Category

Hot Stuff

February 8, 2009

flameHave you ever noticed that some times you’re on fire when you give a presentation?

Everything is going your way; no nerves, the audience is listening and laughing, you speak effortlessly and at the end of the presentation people actually come up to you and tell you how much they enjoyed your segment.

Why is it, that some times you can do no wrong and other times everything seems to go wrong?

I had one of these hot presentations the other day. I don’t think I prepared any more than usual, I don’t think I worked harder than usual, so why was this one so much better than others?

Your audience can have a lot to do with your presentations: how well do they know each other, how much have they endured before you speak, how interested are they in your topic and how well you connect with them can make the difference between a good, bad or hot presentation.

Other things like the time of day you speak, the venue, distractions – both visual and noisy can all have an impact on your presentation.

You, as the presenter, have to try and factor everything in to ensure you give the best presentation you possibly can on the day, but sometimes the gods are just smiling on you and you’re “Hot Stuff”.

Keep speaking – Carrol

6 Books to help with your presentations

October 31, 2008

When it comes to books that can help with your public speaking and presentations skills which books come to mind?

Today I thought I would share with you 3 of my favorite books and 3 books from Craig Valentine – 1999 World Champion of public speaking.

Carrol’s Books

  1. The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking (Dale Carnegie) – Great introduction to public speaking
  2. The Comic Toolbox (John Vorhaus) – Looks at how to be funny, even when your not
  3. Metaphorically Selling (Anne Miller) – how to use Metaphors to sell, persuade & explain anything to anyone

Craig’s Books

  1. Influence (Robert Cialdini) – Provides principles for influencing others
  2. Never Be Boring Again (Doug Stevenson) – Outlines Storytelling tools for your presentations
  3. Made to Stick (Chip and Dan Heath) – Provides 6 tools to make your message memorable.

Sometimes the best books to help with your public speaking or presentation skills have nothing to do with the subject. What books do you use/recommend to help with your presentations?

Keep speaking – Carrol

Exercise Design

October 4, 2008

I sat there totally confused.

I was in a seminar, we’d been given an exercise to do and I was at a loss as to where to start and what I needed to do.

Many presenters incorporate an exercise into their seminar or presentation because an exercise is the “how to” of the learning curve. You give your audience some information, then you get them to complete an exercise so they can put what they have learnt into practice – they learn by doing.

If your exercise isn’t explained clearly and concisely you end up with someone like me, someone who was sitting there not knowing what to do or how to do it.

You need to design your exercises so that everyone knows what they need to do and how they are going to achieve it.

1. Why – Explain why the audience is partaking in the exercise, the reason for doing it.

2. What – Explain what the exercise is, what they’ll be doing, the intended outcomes and how it relates to what you’ve been talking about.

3. How – Explain how they perform the exercise step by step, do a demonstration or provide handouts.

Your audience will learn quicker by doing; an exercise is a great way to reinforce their learning experience.

Keep speaking – Carrol

What is a Toast?

September 19, 2008

Today toasts are offered for a variety of occasions: engagements, weddings, birthdays, going away parties, anniversaries, retirements and dinner parties.


A toast is a mini speech and therefore should have an opening, body and conclusion.



  • Introduce yourself – how are you connected to the person or event. 
  • You may want to have a quote next.
  • Thank everyone for attending
  • Mention how happy you are to be attending the occasion 


Give some information about the person/people or occasion.

Try not to ramble.



Wrap up with a wish, traditional toast or blessing.

Raise your glass and finish with “congratulations” “best wishes” or “cheers”


Toasts don’t have to involve alcohol, you can toast with water, tea, coffee, juice or another type of beverage.


Keep your toast short, no more than 2 – 3 minutes.


This is a special occasion, but don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself while giving the toast!


Keep speaking – Carrol

“Someone’s sleeping in my presentation” – part 2

July 24, 2008

Last week we looked at the signs your audience may be giving you if they’ve disconnected from you and your presentation.

Today we’ll look at how you can re-connect and get back on track.

Keeping your finger on the pulse of your audience is very important so that you don’t loose that vital connection with them.

* Understand what your audience wants from your presentation – Many presenters are only interested in making themselves look important or intelligent, reporting on everything they know without showing how their information can assist the audience or how it is relevant to their lives – remember, your audience will be asking “what’s in it for me”.

* Ask “you” focused questions throughout your presentation – Questions such as: Have you ever – Can you think of a time – Do you know. These types of question allow the audience to think about what you have been talking about and relate it to their own world.

* Use different formats for your presentation – use visual ways of displaying information (charts, pictures, short video clips). If people have something to look at this will help them to stay connected.

* Have discussions – can you have an audience discussion or break them up into small groups to discuss what you’ve been presenting.

* Maintain eye contact with your audience – If your audience members feel that you are talking to them personally it will be harder for them to disengage from you.

Keeping the attention of your audience is vitally important because no one wants to send their audience members to sleep; ensure you’re connecting with your audience to keep them engaged.

Keep speaking – Carrol

“Someone’s sleeping in my presentation”

July 17, 2008

Do you remember the story of Goldilocks?

Baby Bear discovered that someone was sleeping in his bed; “Someone’s sleeping in my bed, and she’s still there.”

Could you be putting your audience to sleep in your presentation?

You start off with a bang, but somewhere in the middle you start to see the signals:

  • *People have a glazed look on their face
  • *Something, anything is more interesting to your audience members
  • *People are yawning
  • *Your audience is fidgeting
  • *Participants are laid back with their eyes closed

Oh no, someone’s sleeping in your presentation! What do you do?

Don’t panic, next week we’ll have a look at how to get back on track and re-connect with your audience.

Keep speaking – Carrol

Should you use a microphone?

July 12, 2008

During the week I had the opportunity to see a speaker that was almost yelling at the audience because they either didn’t know how to use a microphone or there wasn’t one available.

So when should you use a microphone?

My recommendation is to use a microphone whenever you have to speak to 30 or more people.

A microphone is a tool to amplify your voice, and its use will help you to project your voice while allowing you to use a wide range of vocal techniques.

There are some things you need to consider when using a microphone:

  1. Know how to turn the microphone on and off
  2. Know how to raise and lower the microphone
  3. Do a sound check before you actually stand up to speak
  4. Have someone evaluate the sound and quality around the room
  5. Practice moving around with the microphone
  6. Avoid pointing the microphone at the speaker to limit feedback
  7. Incorrect use of the microphone can spoil your performance

Remember a microphone is easier on your voice and its a great tool to use with audiences of over 30 people and will mean that you won’t have to yell your presentation.

Keep speaking – Carrol

The benefits of having a speaking coach

July 4, 2008

Have you ever noticed that professional sports people have coaches to help them improve? 

Everyone seems to have a coach, sports teams have coaches, businesses have coaches so should speakers have a coach?

My answer to this question is a resounding YES!

A coach will take your speaking to the next level. Your speaking coach will have new ideas and suggestions for you and this will foster your own ideas to help you improve. When you find a coach it’s important to listen to what they have to say, some students want validation not education. You may not always agree with your coach, but if you have an open mind and are willing to try something new you will succeed.

Practice what you have learnt and then go back at a later date and have another coaching session: Success breeds success.


  • Assess your current skills and receive suggestions for improvements
  • Learn something new
  • Gain a plan of action
  • A coach can help you to achieve your goals
  • Quicker results in less time
  • Perfect your skills and abilities
  • Avoid common mistakes

A speaking coach can teach you simple techniques to help you reach that next level, for me, this is a great incentive.

Keep speaking – Carrol

Introductions using a song title

June 29, 2008

Imagine if you had to introduce yourself or your business only using a song title, no speaking, no introductions, no self promotion, nothing….. just a song title

What a brilliant challenge.

Last week we looked at the 30 second elevator speech where the challenge was to introduce your self or your business concisely and succinctly in only a few sentences. Imagine if you were set a challenge to introduce yourself or your business via a song title, what song would you choose?

I found this a very difficult challenge, mainly because I can never remember the title of any song and I drive shop assistants mad as I try to sing them my version of the song that I would like to purchase.

So, I spent a couple of days looking at song titles that I thought would best represent my business – Public Speaking – and finally came up with “More than words” by Extreme.

So why did I choose this song title? I believe that public speaking is more than the words you use in your presentation. It’s about the way you present yourself, the body language you use and the vocal variety that you incorporate into your presentation, it’s about confidence, knowing your audience and knowing your topic.

The reason I started down this path of thinking about a song title that introduced either my business or myself was an interesting blog post that I read, see below.

What song would you choose to introduce your business or who you are?

Keep speaking – Carrol

The 30 Second Elevator Speech

June 22, 2008

Can you talk about your product or service for 30 minutes, 3 minutes or 30 seconds?

When you meet someone in an elevator or on a business trip and they ask you what you do, can you give them a quick response?


Being able to give quick, succinct presentations when requested can help you to win new business or build contacts for you.


There are a number or places that you can use the elevator speech.


Meeting new people


Sales Calls



The quickest and easiest way to give the elevator speech is to mention the following


Who you are

What do you do?

Why you’re the best at what you do?

Your call to action


Here is an example of an elevator speech.


Carrol Jones. I’m a consultant who empowers people to speak in public. I provide people with the skills required to conquer nerves, use vocal variety and body language so they can make concise and confident presentations to clients, colleagues and friends. I understand the fear that presenters go through and can help them overcome this. If you would like to become a more confident speaker, then I am the person you need to speak to.


Once you have your elevator speech, remember to practice it so that it rolls of the tongue easily and professionally.


Keep Speaking – Carrol