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Category Archives for Work

The Two Missing Ingredients for Delivering a Memorable Presentation or Speech

missing ingredients salt and pepper

Memorable Presentation or Speech

So, you’ve gone through all the steps and strategies I’ve told you about so far. You’ve done your homework; you clearly understand your topic and message. You know your audience’s benefit. You’ve made an outline of your presentation or speech and you’ve practised numerous times, in front of a mirror, your dog even your best friends and family. But there still is something missing. You’re not happy with the outcome because you want it to be memorable.  Now there are many ingredients for your presentation or speech to be memorable for your audience. Maybe the location is special; there will be music and a big light show before you go on stage. Or a presenter will introduce you as a special guest presenter or speaker. Possibly a big video screen will show you, your slide show or a video. In this day and age video is very important. It is pushed by social media because it grabs people’s attention. I confess, I enjoy a good video too. But honestly, next time you want to watch a TED talk, don’t watch it; listen to it instead. Listen to the voice and to the pauses. These two ingredients make all the difference. 

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”

This is a quote by Mozart. Make sure to consider his advice for your next presentation or speech. Your words are the notes, which will sound good and leave an impact on your audience with the silence or the pauses in between.

Your Voice

Most people do not recognise that their voice is a powerful instrument. Before considering these three points about your voice, I’d suggest recording yourself and then listening to the recording. Many people have difficulties with this exercise, as they don’t like the sound of their own voice. If you are one of those people, please do not give up and flush everything down the drain. Please consider that you always sound like that to other people and I don’t want you to change your voice. I want you to listen to the recording carefully for these three distinctions:

1. Volume 

Concerning the volume of your voice answer these questions:

How loud are you?
Do you have a powerful voice?
Is it difficult or even unpleasant for you to speak up?
Are you used to using a microphone?

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting you should shout at your audience. Please don’t do that. I’m asking you to vary the volume of your voice during your presentation or speech, in order to grab and maintain your audience’s attention. If you’ve never used a microphone before, please test it first. Depending on the microphone there are different aspects to consider. You’ll feel more confident if you test it before. Have someone sit at different positions in the room and tell you how well you are heard at each position. 

2. Tone 

Do you remember what your mom or dad did when you had fallen and hurt yourself as a child? They’d take you in their arms, hold you tight and speak to you in a soothing voice while applying a Band-Aid. Possibly, you remember your parents, coach or team members cheering for you at a sport event. Or you remember a recent event you attended, which put you to sleep, because the speaker’s voice didn’t have any variation. Use your voice to make your audience feel comfortable and at ease, to feel excited and fired up or to put them to sleep, it’s up to you. Changing your tone during your presentation or speech will prevent your audience from drifting away. You will help them to focus on your topic. Using pauses here is another possibility to gain attention and interest. If you want to involve your listeners by asking them real questions, your intonation needs to go up at the end of the question. 

3. Pitch 

Do you have a high or low voice? It is easier to listen to people who have a low voice than to people with a high-pitched voice. If you have a high pitch then practise speaking in a lower pitch. Don’t go too low, as your voice still needs to sound natural. 

 

 Pauses 

Remember Mozart’s quote? The notes are your voice and the pauses are the silences between. Another great way to emphasise your words and draw your audience’s attention is to use pauses. Pauses before moving on to the next point also give your audience the necessary time to grasp and understand what you are saying. Some speakers like using pauses to build tension and excitement. Instead of using  fillers (the um and ah sounds), try pauses next time. It’s not something you’ll be able to change overnight, but it is worth a try.

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found these two ingredients useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

Remember your Presentation, do not Memorise

remember not memorise

Remember not Memorise

As a trainer I’ve often been asked how I manage to remember my scripts and if I memorise them. Well, honestly no, I don’t memorise them and I don’t think it’s a good strategy. I’ve seen many people try to memorise their presentations and speeches. Only a few people managed to memorise successfully. The majority failed, got stuck and started looking in their heads for the right word and lost their train of thought. Of course, this gives the audience the impression you are unprepared and that you don’t know what you’re talking about. So the trick of being able to give a presentation or speech successfully without using a script or cue cards is to remember your key points or message.

This involves practice as well as a certain level of eloquence.

How do you remember all the details? 

  1. The first step is to clearly understand your topic or message, be an expert in it. If you have done your homework properly around your presentation, you will know what I mean. In case you’re unsure then read this blog post about perfecting your presentation first.
  2. The second step is to define the benefit your audience will have from the information you are giving them.
  3. The final step is to make an outline of your presentation or speech.

1.  Understand your topic

I’m sure you could talk endlessly about your hobby, because you are deeply interested in it. You know everything there is to know about it. Now concerning your presentation or speech topic, try putting in a similar amount of enthusiasm. This requires preparation and practice, however, in return you will receive more confidence and the ability to talk about your topic naturally. 

2. Define the benefit

This can be difficult, as we sometimes assume our audience knows just as much about our topic as we do. Nevertheless, this is a crucial point, which needs your full attention. Once you have defined which benefit or benefits your audience should have from your presentation or speech, you will be able to deliver the necessary information and arguments to help them reach their benefit. 

3. Make an outline 

After understanding your topic and defining the benefit, it’s time to write an outline. You can use one sheet of paper or Post-its and a pen or you use a mind map program. I like using MindMeister.  (If you purchase a subscription using the link, I will receive a commission). Whatever method you decide on, write your defined benefit down first. Now come up with a maximum of three points around the benefit. 

Here is a simple example:

Defined benefit: get water coolers for the employees

  1. First point: drinking enough water keeps you hydrated
  2. Second point: being hydrated helps you concentrate and perform better at work
  3. Third point: better concentration and performance at work leads to higher return on investment 

You see mapping out gives you an exact roadmap and it’ll be quite easy to remember the points. I’ve watched many students give three to four minute presentations during their oral exam using this method. Some prepared one flip chart sheet containing three bullet points. Each bullet point only consisted of one key word, which they used to help them remember their points. Some used samples of their product instead to explain the benefit. They did not memorise their content and they didn’t need cue cards.

In case you’re thinking now that all of them had a very high level of English, actually it differed, however, what they all had in common was, they were all learners of English.  

Why you shouldn’t memorise your script

As mentioned before, I believe memorising your script is a bad idea for different reasons. Here is another one to consider: it’s nearly impossible to change and adapt your content if you’ve memorised it. Imagine you only have five minutes instead of ten or vice versa. What will you do?

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

I hope you’ve found this method useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

 

How can I overcome my nervousness?

Nervousness

This is a new part of the series “How can/do I …?“ questions.

Today I’m covering tips and strategies on how you can overcome nervousness.

Your knees seem to be shaky. Your stomach aches. You start feeling moisture on your palms. You feel like you have a lump in your throat. Your self-esteem has just about reached the lowest level possible. Do these symptoms sound familiar? NERVOUSNESS has taken control of our mind and is ordering our body to play these tricks on us just in time for that important presentation, talk or performance on stage in front of  an audience.

Everyone I’ve talked to (myself included) has had at least one of these symptoms. One thing we all had in common at that moment was that we didn’t want to go through the experience again.

What can you do at this point? How can I overcome nervousness?

Come up with a sorry excuse why you can’t do what you set out to do? Be honest, I’m sure you’ve at least thought of that possibility. I know I have, however, it’s not a solution. What has helped me and my students deal with and overcome nervousness is a combination of different strategies. 

Before diving in to the strategies to overcome and leave nervousness behind you, you should first ask yourself why. Why do you feel like that? If you can identify what is causing you to feel like that, it’ll be easier to control those thoughts that are causing those feelings. Don’t forget we are individuals, so there is not only one correct strategy for everyone. You’ll have to try them out and see which work best for you. 

Nervousness starts in your thoughts, change your thoughts and you change everything

1. Be prepared

Preparation covers putting in all the necessary work to achieve your goal and practicing numerous times. Record yourself while practising. It’ll help you get used to your voice and to discover the power your voice and the pauses have. In the preparation phase you can test everything and see what works best for you and your audience. So, in a nut shell Benjamin Franklin’s quote “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” says it all.

2. Visualise a positive experience

Go to a peaceful place where you can relax and close your eyes. Imagine yourself giving the presentation, talk or performance, which you have practised, in front of your audience. Your audience is looking at you in an admiring and friendly way. They are smiling and nodding to what you are saying. They are listening to you because you are speaking eloquently and making the necessary pauses to keep them engaged. You can see that they believe what you are telling them and that they trust you. You hear their applause and you feel the positive energy. As a result, you feel amazing because of the wonderful outcome. Open your eyes again. You’ve just lived through your challenge and it’s wonderful. By visualising in a positive way your mind will believe you’re remembering something you have already experienced. Try it, possibly you’ll want to do it more often. 

3. Concentrate on your breathing

Before you step in front of your audience, concentrate on your breathing. Take slow and deep breaths. This will get your heart rate down and give you the mindfulness you need to calm down. It’s like a mini meditation. Try it for a few minutes. But be careful, you can also use this method to fall asleep.

4. Assume rapport, talk to your audience like you’ve already met them

This means just before you step in front of your audience you assume you’re talking to your best friend. This will let you feel more relaxed and comfortable. 

5. Be excited

Do you remember when you were a child, how you felt before your birthday or Christmas? Excitement feels a lot like nervousness. We get excited about positive things. Tell yourself you’re excited not nervous, after all it is something positive.

6. Recognise your strengths

Sometimes we get nervous because we don’t believe in our abilities and strengths. Others seem to, that’s why you were chosen to give the presentation or talk. Recognise, perceive and use your strengths.

7. Be courageous

Step out of your comfort zone and accept the challenge. Put on your cape, be your own superhero and defeat those negative thoughts that cause nervousness.

8. Positive body language

There are different methods to achieve a positive body language. You can stretch and use a power pose, i.e. raise your fists in the air and jump as if you’ve just crossed the finish line. You can listen to your personal power song and do your happy dance. Whatever it takes to put you into a positive state go for it. If you stand straight in front of your audience, you will ray out confidence and your voice will have more space. Wearing a smile on your face will increase the endorphins, which will make you feel calm and good about yourself. Besides a natural reaction to a smile is to smile back. Try it out, you’ll be surprised.

9. Arrive early

Get to the venue early. Not only can you test everything one last time, you can also meet and talk to the attendees before you start. Look for things you have in common. Find someone nice you can look at during the first two minutes of your presentation or talk. 

10. Worst case

What is the worst that can happen? Is it really that bad? Is it the end of the world? Or is it something you could smile away and start over? Don’t forget we’re all human. Most people in your audience aren’t there to see you fail, they’re there because they are interested in your topic or in you. Concentrate on them and be yourself. 

Those are my favourite strategies to deal with and overcome nervousness. Do you have any you’d like to share? Then please do!

That just about wraps it up for today

One more thing though, Yvette and I have set up an early interest page for an upcoming programme about perfecting your presentation in English. Check out all the information about it here.

 

I hope you’ve found these strategies useful and you’ll join me again for more tips and solutions, which have helped my students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across.

 

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia

PS If you like what I’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.