​PowerSpeaking Blog: Tips and strategies for crafting presentations

Tough Questions: Tips for Dealing with Difficult Audiences

If you are feeling apprehensive about public speaking or presenting, typically at the root of the anxiety is fear of embarrassing yourself. With careful preparation and focus on delivery, it can be easy to avoid embarrassment in a monologue style presentation. But what about when you open up the floor for questions and comments?

Audiences can be tricky: Even if they're your peers, co-workers, or experts in a certain field, everyone has their own agenda and emotional logic. By giving a presentation and soliciting feedback, you are inviting a variety of different personalities to listen and comment on your work. Audience member responses can range from boredom to outright hostility for reasons that may be unclear to you. To conquer a difficult audience, follow these tips:

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Techniques from the Stage: Actors' Advice to Presenters

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

 It's one of Shakespeare's most well-known lines, taken from the play As You Like It. While many may or may not have seen the play itself, the words have taken on a life of their own owing to the core truth buried in them: In our everyday lives, we take on roles and put on performances for our peers while trying to make ourselves understood.

Nowhere is this a more apt metaphor than when giving a presentation. You may not be an "actor," but many of the techniques that actors use to convey emotion and captivate audiences can be used to make executive and technical presentations more compelling. Here are few proven acting techniques that can enhance your next presentation:

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8 Tips for Moderating a Panel Discussion

Since the start of this election cycle, we've all seen several debates between various party candidates leading to the current slate of Presidential and Vice Presidential debates.  One crucial figure that sometimes gets overlooked in these debates is the moderator.

Whether it is part of a debate or panel discussion, moderators ostensibly are tasked with overseeing and facilitating a conversation — without overtly contributing their opinion or being a central part of the dialogue. They ask questions, solicit audience feedback, keep an eye on how much time remains and try and keep the conversation balanced between all panelists and experts. They're essentially the ringmasters, keeping dialogue moving and emphasizing major points.

While this may seem like an easy task, the truth is that the moderator often has the hardest job on the panel. It requires strong listening and comprehension skills, patience, and focus. Here are a few tips to help when you take on the role of moderator in a panel discussion:

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Behind the Scenes of TED Presenters

 

TED Talks — an acronym for Technology, Entertainment, and Design — are almost universally considered the gold standard for successful public speaking. Curated by author and entrepreneur Chris Anderson and the TED leadership team, videos of TED speakers at conferences routinely go viral, racking up millions of views from all over the world.

The short, compelling presentations are delivered by thought leaders, craftsmen, artists, scientists, executives and innovators in a variety of fields. Filmed at TED conferences nationwide, speakers vary greatly and have included countless luminaries, including Sarah Silverman, Tony Robbins, Elizabeth Gilbert, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Al Gore, J.K. Rowling and many, many more.

What unites all these different figures? They have all harnessed the most effective presentation skills to deliver persuasive, insightful, funny, emotional and — most importantly — compelling speeches to rapt audiences on the TED stage. Here is a guide to what makes a TED talk so engaging and what tools subject matter and technical experts can use to make their own presentations as compelling — straight from the experts themselves.

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Managing Presentations with Live and Virtual Guests

 

Executive presence is a powerful part of any presentation. So how do you maintain authority and control when you and your audience aren't in the same room together?

Technology has facilitated virtual communication and remote presentations in a way that makes it easier than ever to integrate live and virtual guests — both audience members and presenters. At the same time, as people, we are still used to listening and paying attention to the person in front of us speaking. To conquer the audience’s impulse to get distracted and tune out, foster engagement in remote settings by following these virtual presentation techniques.

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Hook, Line, and Sinker: Grabbing Audience Attention with a Great Opening

One of the things that can trip up some subject matter experts who are tasked to make a presentation is their opening. Often it is the first 30 seconds to a minute that sets the tone for the remainder of your presentation — grabbing audience attention and holding it.

Your opening, whether it's a single sentence or a few lines, is where a presentation can be made or broken. It's your chance to hook them, tickling their curiosity so that you can slowly reel them in throughout the rest of your presentation. So how do you captivate an audience with your opening? Follow these tips for creating a great opening.

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Make 'em Laugh: The Use of Humor in Successful Public Speaking

Successful public speaking − whether it's a business presentation, a conference keynote or a toast at a wedding − is all about creating that resonance with your audience, that emotional spark that gets them on board with your words. To this end, there is no greater tool in your arsenal than the judicious and skillful use of humor.

When we laugh, there are no barriers between speaker and audience − not skepticism or cynicism. If someone has made you laugh, chances are you are more open to the speaker and the authority of their words. Yet just because humor is a powerful tool doesn't mean that everyone can wield it proficiently. I'm sure everyone has silently suffered through conferences where a presenter attempted to make a joke, only to elicit groans from the audience.

To make the most of humor in your next presentation, follow these tips for public speaking. 

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Reading, Speaking, Conveying: The Art of the Teleprompter

No matter what your personal politics are, this most recent election cycle has shown a compelling spotlight on the ways that powerful political personalities communicate with the world. We have been treated to a variety of different approaches to speech-giving, debating and stumping and much has been made of the distinctions between the ways that some candidates convey ideas versus their opponents.

However, what all the candidates have in common is that, overwhelmingly, their speeches are aided by a teleprompter. A teleprompter frees speechmakers from relying on written notes or presentations in front of them, allowing them to face their audience directly and move naturally in the space they are given. This creates an intimacy and naturalism that can reinforce effective presentation skills and lend you vital credibility.

Yet with this freedom comes a variety of unexpected challenges.  Using a teleprompter is one of the more involved presentation tools that requires practice and consideration, which is why we've included a series of quick tips to help you master it.  

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Presenting Emotion-filled Talks with Composure

We coach clients to use a variety of facial expressions during talks to convey meaning and persuade. (Sport a poker face and you force audiences to work harder to grasp your meaning.) Expressing appropriate emotion during presentations can help move a conversation forward. But what happens when your strong emotion during a presentation hinders message delivery and distracts the audience (it might be while delivering sad news or happy news, or experiencing frustration or anger)? How can you stay on message, convey the information you must, and stay composed? The following tips will help you be effective in this unique talk scenario.

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The Goal is Presence: Lessons from Amy Cuddy’s Book

 

“The state of being attuned to and able to comfortably express true thoughts, feelings, values and potential.” 

This is how Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy defines Presence in her book of the same name. 

Cuddy has followed up her "fake it until you become it" TED talk, which illuminates the positive effects of ‘power posing’ on confidence, with this new work, subtitled “Bringing Your BOLDEST SELF to your BIGGEST CHALLENGES.”  presence.png

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