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Jun 21

Speaker Style: Jim Kwik, The Brainiac

By Briohny Williams | Speaker Style

Today's Speaker Style is Jim Kwik's 10 Steps To Improve Your Memory

We're not all born with the ability to jump up on stage or hold the whole rooms' attention with a story, however we all have the ability to learn how to be great at public speaking.

The people that capture our hearts and minds have all spent time on their public speaking skills, strengthening over time with practice and good habits.

You can do that too by watching other speakers to see what you like, what you don't, and think about how you could use what you like to develop your own personal style.

Speaker Style: The Brainiac

Jim Kwik is the world's leading brain and memory coach, and CEO & Founder of Kwik Learning. He's also great speaker to listen to when your brain needs a boost, becuse “If knowledge is power, learning is a superpower”, and he really can teach us a lot!

Biography

"I was known as the “boy with the broken brain. ” A childhood head injury at age five left me struggling in school. For a while, I even believed I could never be as good as other kids when it came to learning.

I was slow and barely survived school, but never stopped hoping for better. I often talk about “superhero brains” and “superpowers” when I’m referring to life-long learners and learning. It’s not just because I’m a geek, though....

...I discovered that, no matter the circumstances, we can rebuild our brains. And after working on myself, I realized my brain was not broken…it just needed a better owner’s manual. This shattered my own limiting beliefs – and over time, it became my passion to help others do the same."

Read more at JimKwik.com

Quotable Quote

The most enjoyable part about listening to Jim Kwik is that you can see that he lives what he teaches. He has so many sound bytes that once you listen to a few of his videos or podcasts you realise why he is so effective; simple rhymes, alliteration and emphasis on key concepts make his talks rich and massively informative. In relation to this topic, boosting your memory capacity, he says;

"Information alone is not memorable. Information combined with emotion becomes a long-term memory" - Jim Kwik

What To Watch For

  • So many quotes! "Don't rehearse your fears, rehearse for your successes", "What you eat matters, especially for your grey matter", "Where your focus goes your energy flows". Jim is a very deliberate speaker; every message is so carefully crafted to make it memorable.
  • It's interactive. It would be very easy to make this a dry, academic talk. Instead, he makes the topic relatable, and gets you doing what he's doing - showing you as well as telling you what he knows. So much more fun than simply listening. How many of the top 10 can you remember?
  • It's motivational - watch this and tell me you don't want to change at least one of your thoughts or behaviours. Not many speakers can move their audience to action!
  • The memorization technique he talks about at 11:05 in the video - specifically for remembering key points in a speech! 

What other speakers really get you fired up to take action? Are there other experts out there that have a great way of simplifying complex topics?

If you've got a talk you love, pop it in the comments below!

Jun 07

20 Video Ideas To Add Value & Boost Your Online Presence

By Briohny Williams | Creating Videos

It's tough constantly coming up with new ideas for content when you're posting on a daily or weekly basis in your business. It can be even harder when to think of content that you can record and share with your audience.

Here are 20 ideas for content that you can create quickly and share widely. Let us know in the comments below what other topics you'd share!

  1. 1
    All About You – a spoken version of your CV/resume highlights, this is content you probably already have on your website, so start there and freshen up it! It's a chance to show your personality, credentials, and storytelling skills.
  2. 2
    How your company started – has your company got an interesting past?
  3. 3
    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – do you get asked the same questions about your services or products ALL the time? Pop the 5 – 10 most popular requests in a video, as well as a link where they can get more support for any other questions. 
  4. 4
    Start Here – if a customer is completely new to your business, where should they get started? Think about how your customers typically find you, and where you want their journey with you to start
  5. 5
    Behind the scenes – what’s cooking?! Let the audience see behind the scenes of your latest video, project, workshop, etc.
  1. 6
    Introduction to your social media page – who is your page for, what they can expect from you, available resources and how to contact you.
  2. 7
    Welcome to your social media group – similar to the social media page intro, plus posting schedule, group rules and opportunities, upcoming challenges. 
  3. 8
    Reviews – books, videos, apps, services, experiences – have you seen something that your customers might be interested in? Let them know what you thought of it and where they can access. Could include affiliate links also, as long as you’re upfront about it and are not masking a paid promotion as a review.
  4. 9
    Tools – your tools of the trade could be interesting and useful to others. How to organize your notes and projects, through to hardware and paid services that you recommend. Could also include affiliate links.
  5. 10
    Summarize your blog post – help your audience catch up on the latest news and save them time. Add the link to the blog under the video so they can also read for more information.
  1. 11
    Your freebies – share your free resources with your audience, remembering to come from the WIIFM mindset (what’s in it for me?) – your audience want to know how it’s going to help them, e.g. save time, reduce mistakes, boost confidence and more.
  2. 12
    Tell a story – Describe a transformation, a funny event, process, new understanding or just entertain! Describe going from point A to point B, with all the juicy details in between. Could also include a call to action.
  3. 13
    Your latest offer – including customer benefits (as opposed to features), what’s included, the transformation, and a call to action.
  4. 14
    Teach – If your business includes facilitation or coaching, share a useful model, process, or self-assessment that is thought and conversation provoking.
  5. 15
    Interview – bring in an expert or a complementary business to bring even more value to your audience. This is sometimes an easier format for those new to video, as you share the "load" in terms of speaking. It can also be harder if your interviewee takes over! Discuss your video plan in advance, including how long you want the video to run, and the couple of topics you will focus on, or the exact questions you will ask them.
  1. 16
    Sales page – add a video to your existing landing page, shown to increase conversions.
  2. 17
    Address objections / re-energize – Send mailing list subscribers more and/or different information about your product or service to address any concerns they may have.
  3. 18
    Thank you page – it’s nice to say a personal thanks! Especially difficult if your business doesn’t have a physical presence, showing up can help build ongoing relationships. 
  4. 19
    Client testimonial – either with you telling the story, or your client if you can convince them to go on camera!
  5. 20
    Inspirational & Motivational – we all need a little of both sometimes! Share a story or quote that has helped you and put some positive vibes out there!

You don't need to tackle all of these! Depending on where you are in your business journey, different videos will make more sense for where you're up to. If you're brand new to business, it pays to get very clear on who you are and what your brand is all about.

Join us in the Presentations To Profit virtual workshop and get absolutely clear on your message so you really connect with your ideal audience when it counts!

May 31

Getting To The Point Is Profitable

By Briohny Williams | Video

Why your brand needs clear messages in your video & 3 simple steps Before You press record

A Moment To Make An Impression

If you’re making videos for your business it's important you know; you have less than 10 seconds to get to the point.

You've actually got closer to 3 seconds to deliver the perfect hook and engage your audience and if you’ve caught your audience’s attention they may continue to watch a few seconds more. If you start to deliver on the promise of your hook, then maybe they’ll stay minutes instead of seconds. Tough gig, huh?!

Our brain loves video as it combines movement and noise, and it's the visual and auditory stimulation that makes video a much more memorable experience. We can include text, images, links, animation and more, making video a superfood on the marketing menu. 

The statistics are pretty clear. Video is, by far, the most engaging content on the internet in 2019 and consumption of mobile video volume continues to increase by 100% every year. According to Cisco, video now accounts for about 80% of all consumer internet traffic. 

Stop and think about those numbers for a moment. 

Then take another moment to think about where you are spending your energy in your business. Chances are you are spending time and money on marketing, yet many people shy away from creating video. Is there an opportunity for your business that you haven’t taken yet?

Scroll through your feed on Facebook and take in just how many videos are posted within your immediate network alone. Globally, 100 million hours are spent on Facebook each day.

LinkedIn has fantastic engagement rates; video created within LinkedIn (“native video”) is five times more likely than other content to start a conversation among LinkedIn members. 

Further proof of the popularity of video, Instagram launched IGTV in 2018 as a competitor to You Tube, that now allows for longer form videos. Businesses are jumping on this opportunity whilst (for now) there are no ads to break up the viewing experience.  

We also watch an unbelievable 1 billion hours of YouTube videos per day! Whilst this might seem the obvious place to start sharing your videos, this brings us to an important point; where do your audience hang out?

And I hear you say, "Yes Bri, this all sounds very impressive and a great opportunity, but… 

...I just don’t want to be seen on video!" The worry of what to say, freezing up or the sheer cringe-factor of seeing ourselves on film can be a powerful persuader to keep things exactly as they are.

I get it. No-one wants to look like a fool. Even some great Hollywood actors can’t bear to watch themselves on screen, you’re not alone!

However, you're likely reading this article because you've been meaning to start doing videos, and with more and more people creating this content, how do you make sure that your videos will stand out for the RIGHT reasons?

Having a simple strategy around video can take some of the fear out of the process, so you can start to maximize the greatest asset in your business, which is of course, YOU.


3 Simple Steps That Anyone Can Take Today

Your communication skills and body language are going to be in the spotlight, so it’s important to focus on what your audience care about, what you will say and how you will say it.  

The good news? Working on your communication skills will never be a bad investment. Videos aside, you can use these skills far and wide in your business for both verbal and written communications. 

Reduce overwhelm and make progress more quickly by following the below 3 steps:

  1. 1
    Any of the internet sensations that live-stream or post pre-recorded videos are having you on if they say "I just thought I'd pop on here quickly to tell you about...". These videos are planned, if not scripted, and they always include key information to hook your attention at the beginning and include a call to action at the end. Watch enough of these videos and you start to see the patterns (it's kind of like being in the Matrix). You need to know exactly what your key points are and how you want to talk about them - remember what you write and how you say things out loud are very different. You can use The Ultimate Video Message Planner to get organised (more below).
  2. 2
    Rehearse Get the nerves out of the way, with all the out-takes done in the comfort of your office with no risk of your audience seeing you work on getting it right. That said, the audience dont' mind if you show who you are, and definitely love to see your personality, and how you deal when things don't go perfectly. Pro tip: things will not always run perfectly, so plan for it! What would you say if the technology failed, there was a loud noise in the background, or for those working from home... remember the BBC interview guy (below)?
  3. 3
    Seek Feedback The first step is to watch yourself back on video. You can learn a lot if you can look at yourself objectively (which is, admittedly, quite difficult). Then, ask a small group of trusted truth-tellers, not family or friends that you know will just tell you you're wonderful, to tell you 1 thing you can do to improve. Finally, ask the public, and listen as objectively as you can - they are all your potential audience, after all.

Whether you've dabbled or a brand newbie, the message about video is clear - it's truly effective and it's here to stay. Post something short and focused on solving a problem for your audience where they like to hang out, and if your nerves are getting the best of you, think of the people you could be helping by sharing your knowledge and expertise.

Help your audience out - don't hide from them!

If you have been meaning to start making videos for a long time now and either through not enough time, fear of public speaking or not knowing where to start, you've held back from creating content, subscribers can now access our free checklist, The Ultimate Video Message Planner

This free checklist will help build trust and relationships with your audience, and help you discover the essential content for live or recorded videos, how to improve each time you rehearse, and get those videos made!

Would some feedback be useful?

Book some time in to discuss your speaking goals today.

May 25

A Simple Mindfulness Practice To Banish Anxiety Before and During Public Speaking

By Briohny Williams | Confidence

Let’s take a moment to picture this.

You’ve been asked to make a speech at work, and you have a day to prepare. Just a 15 minute update, they say... You know the content well; however, you just can’t seem to get your thoughts straight about how to start or what content to cover, and your stomach is already knotting up. Maybe you’ll just call in sick... forever.

For you, the setting might be different or perhaps the amount of time you have to prepare, however the reality remains the same - speaking in public is up there amongst people’s worst fears. The thought alone, let alone the presentation itself, causes us to revert to classic fight or flight behavior and feel incredibly anxious and exposed. Often unconsciously we fear being rejected either for our ideas, or as a person.

To counter-balance these fears we can use mindfulness as an invaluable tool for dealing with the intense scrutiny we feel when we’re in the spotlight. 

Public speaking is a dialogue, a two-way communication between yourself and the audience. In the midst of negative self-talk and self-doubt, we interrupt this interaction with the audience by turning our thoughts inwards, disengaging from the audience, which in turn makes us perform worse. Talk about brain sabotage! 

Try this simple mindfulness practice and take back control! 

Prepare your content and do a full rehearsal.
If you’re feeling anxious you may find a rehearsal stressful and try to avoid it altogether, however underpreparing is likely to make things worse, not better! Run through the entire presentation, with particular focus on the first 3 lines of your introduction and conclusion, as most people are relatively comfortable with “the middle”. Record yourself on video to watch back and remember you will likely be a much worse critic than your audience. 

Make real contact with your audience.
Look them in the eyes, know that they want you to do well, and if anxious thoughts start to surface remind yourself that you have been asked to speak because you have the knowledge to do so. Every presentation is a real opportunity to share ideas, get people inspired and get things done. If you’re not aiming for one of these objectives, just print the slides and hand them over to the audience to read!

Start with confidence.
Use a firm and confident voice that even the back row can hear. Start strong with the first 3 lines (that you have rehearsed to a comfortable, natural delivery) and keep your energy levels high throughout. Look for positive energy in the crowd, a colleague smiling or nodding their head in agreement. 

Learn to go with the flow.
Technology can fail, someone could drop coffee on your notes, or you have a head cold on the day. None of these factors can actually stop you connecting with the audience and delivering your message. Preparation is so important to achieve this level of calm and confidence when it’s all going wrong around you. If you thought you could skip the first step, time to reconsider!

And Breathe…. 

Essential for life and public speaking! Practice deep breathing before you begin your presentation to calm your mind and nervous system and remember to build in plenty of pauses in your presentation. This allow time for your audience to absorb your messages and will also limit the chance of breathlessness that can cue an anxious response. 

Now picture this..

  • The next time you’re approached to prepare a presentation for work/school/the local swim club you feel a little anxious, as you want to do a great job. 
  • You know where to start this time as you asked a couple of clarifying questions to get to the objective of the presentation, and you feel confident to prepare good content. 
  • Once you’ve drafted the presentation you set about rehearsing and refining until you’re happy with the content and delivery. You hate seeing yourself on video, however you can see that you’ve improved each time you’ve rehearsed and you’re finishing within the time that you’ve been given on the agenda.
  • On the day, you feel some of the old reactions in your body and remind yourself that people want to see you do well and you have the knowledge to deliver on this topic.
  • Because you have a more relaxed mindset when you begin, you remember your opening lines and get a laugh from the audience. Thankfully, the joke was planned!

It may be incredibly hard to imagine a day when this could be you.

The anxiety around public speaking is real, however if you want (or need) to make presentations, speeches, pitches, do fundraising or promote your business, new ways of thinking and a few new practices could be the change your brain is looking for.

Would some feedback be useful?

Book some time in to discuss your speaking goals today.

Apr 24

Speaker Style: Brené Brown, The Storytelling Introvert

By Briohny Williams | Speaker Style

Today's Speaker Style is Brene Brown's The Call to Courage Netflix Original

Brene Brown's The Call To Courage is available on Netflix. Click image to access

We're not all born with the ability to jump up on stage or hold the whole rooms' attention with a story, however we all have the ability to learn how to be great at public speaking.

The people that capture our hearts and minds have all spent time on their public speaking skills, strengthening over time with practice and good habits.

You can do that too by watching other speakers to see what you like, what you don't, and think about how you could use what you like to develop your own personal style.

Speaker Style

The Storytelling Introvert

It's just like a chat with your best pal, with plenty of sweary bits (Brene loves an f-bomb) and loads of laugh-out-loud, relatable stories. As a self-proclaimed introvert, she may find it easier to stand up to a crowd like that than attend the promotional events that accompany the release of the documentary, however the focus here is on the story she wants to share. You know there is an ocean of knowledge backing up the opinions delivered in her credible and comfortable style.  The persuasive examples she uses to demonstrate her studies into shame and vulnerability will make you laugh and cry. Her studies illustrate that these are powerful topics for many people, and to quote Brene "Maybe stories are just data with a soul". 

Biography

RESEARCHER. STORYTELLER. TEXAN.
The official line: I’m a research professor at the University of Houston where I hold the Huffington – Brené Brown Endowed Chair. I’ve spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. I’m the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of ImperfectionDaring GreatlyRising StrongBraving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead. Read more at BreneBrown.com

Quotable Quote

Brene herself has loads of her own quotable quotes, however the most powerful moment is when she recalls the turning point after her initial 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerabilitywas shared to the world, followed by the intense shame and embarrassment she felt after reading negative comments about her weight and appearance. She needed a Teddy Roosevelt quote to turn her perspective around.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming." — Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

What To Watch For

  • The Roosevelt quote uses perfect pauses for emphasis and builds feeling
  • It's a storytelling masterclass. Every key point is illustrated with a story to show us not only what she found in her studies, but she powerfully shows how her points relate to us all.  Writing notes, holding hands, tears.. the audience were absolutely HOOKED.
  • The language she uses. She's very relaxed using relatable, everyday language. Some people may be turned off by the swearing, however it serves to reinforce that this is a talk for everyone (of a sweary age). 
  • Her energy management. It's a long talk and she's just as passionate, interested and engaged at the end as she is in the beginning of the talk. 

Netflix have made accessing thought provoking documentaries as easy as can be. There's a huge range of nonfiction available to get those synapses firing!

If you've got a talk you love, pop it in the comments below!

Want to work on your Storytelling skills?

Book some time in to discuss your speaking goals today.

Apr 18

The Secret Sauce for Top Presenters? Try Eye Contact

By Briohny Williams | Body Language

It's Showtime!

If you've been following along at home, we started by building eye contact into our preparation and have asked for feedback to improve before the big day.

Eye contact is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

On the day, ensure you’re in the room in advance of the presentation to familiarize yourself with the set up and nail down any final logistical details.

Once you’ve done this, if the format allows, talk to people that will be in the audience, and any of your “supporters” that are in the room. Even if you freeze, your supporters are not going to mind you pausing and taking a moment to remember where you’re up to in your presentation.

And breathe..

When it’s time, take a deep, calm breath and take your place.

Do not start speaking until you have your feet firmly planted shoulder width apart, you have the audience’s attention and you have your opening lines ready.

Depending on the size of your audience, you will need to use different movements, however let’s think about 2 common scenarios:

  • 1
    The boardroom / meeting room, up to around 20 people seated around a table. You may be seated or standing at the front of the room, or perhaps you’re around the table too. Wherever you are sitting, consider that the “front” of the room and look to the “back” of the room, and then at various points down both sides of the table. Alternate which side of the table you are looking at, and then to the back of the room again.
  • 2
    Theatre or auditorium seating, with rows of chairs in front of you. You are standing at the front of the room, perhaps with a lectern (though preferably not to make the most of all your body language tools).
  • Visualize a clock, and look first at the front row of the seating (6), move your eyes to the left (10), to the far back (12), to the right (3) and then towards the front again (5). 
  • No matter where the audience is sitting, if you move through these five points in random order throughout your presentation, everyone will feel your gaze at some point. 
  • Before too long, you won’t need to use the clock system, however this is handy when you are establishing new habits.

Read the Room

Let yourself really look at the audience, observe their body language.

Are they leaning back, checking their emails, talking to their neighbour? Time to change your volume, pace or ask a question.

Or are they looking back at you, leaning forward, nodding? Add emphasis, pause and let your message sink in. 

There may be moments of both throughout your presentation, and if you’re not looking you will not notice! The key is to know when you may need to adjust by keeping an eye on your audience and knowing how to adjust based on the messages they are sending you.

Don't Send False Messages

No matter how well you know your topic or how well regarded you are for the other work you do, if you do not make eye contact there is the very real chance that others will mistake this for lack of confidence, potentially lowering your credibility, and almost definitely boring your audience. Look up, look around, and make sure you use this extremely powerful tool at your disposal.

Radiate confidence, connect with your audience and boost your credibility and authenticity through the roof.

If you missed how to prepare and rehearse with eye contact, learn how you can anticipate and overcome nerves and anxiety by visualising your audience while you rehearse. 

Apr 12

Speaker Style: Pico Iyer, The Worldly Professor

By Briohny Williams | Speaker Style

There's nothing more interesting and exciting than an idea presented brilliantly.

We're not all born with the ability to jump up on stage or hold the whole rooms' attention with a story, however the great news is, we all have the ability to learn great public speaking.

So, where do we begin to master speaking techniques and develop our storytelling? And if it's not too much to ask, feel great when we are in the spotlight?

The people that capture our hearts and minds have all spent time on their public speaking skills, strengthening over time with practice and good habits. We can do that too by watching other speakers to see what you like, what you don't - and hopefully learn something new along the way.

Our first Speaker Style is Pico Iyer's Where is Home TED talk

Speaker Style

The Worldly Professor

Equal parts teacher and philosopher, you can imagine the worldly professor the lecture halls of a celebrated university by day, and penning their memoirs by night. They reflect on the world around them, asking great questions and rubbing their chins in deep, deep thought.  

Biography

Pico Iyer has spent more than 30 years tracking movement and stillness — and the way criss-crossing cultures have changed the world, our imagination and all our relationships. Read more at TED.com

Quotable Quote

And home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It's the place where you stand.

What To Watch For

  • The use of storytelling to hook and re-engage his audience throughout
  • Clear connection made to the objective of his talk (where home is) multiple times during the talk
  • Use of humour to relate to and include his audience
  • A succinct and thought-provoking conclusion

TED Talks are a maze that I could happily get lost in for days, as there are so many amazing ideas and speakers to explore. And, if you're interested (read: a little obsessed) with them too, there's an entire book dedicated to the art of the TED talk, Talk Like TED, if you really want to nerd out.

If you've got a talk you love, pop it in the comments below!

Want to work on your Worldly Professor skills?

Book some time in to discuss your speaking goals today.

Apr 09

How To KISS In Your Next Presentation

By Briohny Williams | Delivering Presentations

Keep It Short and Simple (KISS)

We’ve all experienced the snore-fest of a long and winding presentation or speech. It may be the self-important colleague, the best man’s endless tales of when Dave used to be fun and single, or the overly detailed, highly technical explanation of the inner workings of the laptop, when all you wanted to know was the price.

We all know what happens next. You get bored, your mind wanders and you start switching off. They’ve lost you.

Avoid any cringe-worthy experiences when you’re next in the spotlight by planning ahead with these 6 tips for simple and concise public speaking.

Be yourself.

The slightly more polished version. Use the words and expressions that are authentic to you, and show you’re enthusiasm and knowledge of your topic. If you care about your topic, your audience is far more likely to care too.

Be brief.

You rarely hear complaints about a speech being too short! Mention critically important details, and work your way up to additional details as your audience shows interest, referring to supporting documents and using the Q&A.

Stick to your time limit.

When you rehearse, allow time for pauses, and if that’s what you’re going for, applause and laughter. Respect your audience and other speakers by not throwing the agenda into chaos and running over time.

Prepare short sentences.

Quite simply, they are easier to remember, easier to deliver and easier for your audience to understand. If you need to take a breath mid-sentence, it’s too long!

Aim to be conversational. 

Do not use longer words if you know shorter ones, you’re not impressing anyone! Public speaking is a dialogue between you and the audience, so use words that would be natural when chatting in the coffee break. Avoid acronyms and jargon, unless 100% of the audience understand 100% of the words you’re using.

All killer, no filler.

Rehearse until you can present with minimal filler words (um, ahh, to be honest, actually, etc) as this will undermine the audience’s confidence in your message. Instead of a filler word, simply pause. The silence will allow your audience time to absorb what you are saying, and allows you to use emphasis and speak with conviction, i.e. you show you really believe what you are saying. 

When you next plan a presentation, rehearse from start to finish and record the whole thing on video. When you watch the video back ask yourself;

"What will I change before I next go live?"

Preparation is key to an effortless looking presentation. As Mark Twain once said;

"I … NEVER COULD MAKE A GOOD IMPROMPTU SPEECH WITHOUT SEVERAL HOURS TO PREPARE IT"

A few thoughtful changes will improve each rehearsal and your final presentation on the day. 

Would some feedback be useful?

Book some time in to discuss your speaking goals today.

Apr 02

Public Speaking Is Not A Soft Skill, It’s A Life Skill

By Briohny Williams | Delivering Presentations

Public Speaking Is Not A Soft Skill, It’s A Life Skill

I looked around, and all I saw were zombies. You know the kind – head down, walking slowly, eyes fully focused on.. their phone. OK, maybe not the walking dead exactly, however if you’ve walked down a street in any major city at lunch time, you will know how difficult it is to cut a straight line between point A and point B without dodging people distracted by a phone. Catching up on messages, making plans or checking the latest news, there’s not many places we go without our phones these days.

Technology has made so many things so much easier.

Online shopping delivered to your door at a time you choose? Yes please!

Talk to family on the other side of the world, without paying a cent? Essential.

Pay bills, book plane tickets or build a website on your lunch break (or let’s be honest, whenever no-one’s looking..)? Absolutely amazing!

However, there are moments in your life when the best way to get your point across, lead others or get the job done is to speak to people. Face-to-face.

Warren Buffett agrees. You’ll often find him quoted when it comes to the value of public speaking, and as he is the third wealthiest person on the planet (at the time of publication), he is considered an authority in investment. When it comes to investing in yourself he places an exact value. 

“The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now — at least — is to hone your communication skills,” Buffet says.

Why public speaking is essential today

The ability to educate, inform and inspire is prized in the age of information. Knowledge, and the ability to communicate knowledge, in a rapidly changing and shifting world is a new form of currency.

There are plenty of studies into how our communication skills are eroding, even in children, due to the advancement in technology. You will read that the constant distraction of technology is dulling our social skills and our ability to read emotions in others.

On the flip-side lies the argument that technology can enhance our communication, you just need to be aware of how to do it. We can connect people on video over great distances for free or next to nothing, it’s hard to remember what it was like making a call from a phone booth or sending a postcard - if you’ve lived through that time at all.  

These arguments will no doubt carry on, and likely mature as we begin to understand the long and short term effects of how we are interacting, consuming and learning through technology.

Wherever you sit on that argument clear communication is vitally important for everyone to consider and take action on. So unless you’re considering a life of solitude on a mountain-top.. no, wait, there’s even blogging monks now. There will always be circumstances where you will need to stand up, and speak up.

Where your communication skills matter most

Wherever you are in your life right now I’m sure there are times you remember where you didn’t speak, but wanted to. There are undoubtedly times that you spoke, but the right words only came to you after the heat of the moment.

Whether you’re in school, going for a job interview, interacting with friends and family, trying to sell an idea or product or leading a team, it makes sense to prepare for important moments where you want to have the right words, in the right way, at the right time.  

How to move past worry and inaction to improve your speaking

It is not enough to simply read about training for a marathon, you need to run! Communication skills are like other skills in life. You have to practice them to get better.

There is no “perfect” speaker, or one singular way to get your message across. There is a long list of things that people don’t necessarily love, though, and it pays to understand the fundamental building blocks of good communication and public speaking.

Culture can play a big part in what is considered polite or, to use eye contact as an example, assertive vs aggressive communication. Do your homework when it comes to potential employers, clients and even new friends from around the world.

Practice, build your skills over time and put yourself in situations where you can “stretch” new techniques and try them out for size.

Gain feedback and self-assess where your development areas lie and create a feedback loop where you can quickly determine what you want to change and address it.

You will feel you are communicating effectively when you see the reaction from those around you. Be authentic and tackle fears and anxiety by working from the inside to out, to transform fear into focused energy, and help you be your most effective self when you are communicating.

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Mar 30

The 3B Strategy To Nail Your Next Boardroom Presentation

By Briohny Williams | Delivering Presentations

The Opportunity You've Been Waiting For

They're the meetings you prepare the longest for with the shortest air time. High pressure, with potentially big results waiting on the other side. You're all set with your rehearsed remarks and the CEO asks "What would happen if we do nothing?". Hold up, you're not prepared for "nothing".. just all the "somethings" in your presentation!

A common chorus from professionals looking to move on and up in their careers and in business is how to raise their visibility within their company or their standing with clients.

Whilst it is fairly easy to gain experience in presenting your ideas, progress reports, even short training sessions if you look for opportunities within your business, there is little opportunity to practice presenting to a group that is used to making high stakes decisions on a regular basis.

What do we already know about an executive audience?

The high-level observations are fairly obvious; they need to make huge decisions, based on accurate information that is normally delivered in short-burst meetings and presentations. You're presenting because you have the knowledge they need, or have gathered information from subject matter experts. 

C-Suite executives could have a completely different perspective to you. However when you're the person at the front of the boardroom, you're suddenly the storyteller, the problem solver, and ultimately have to think quickly if the conversation goes in a direction you have not prepared for.

The great news is, most people in this position will improve over time, given the opportunity. The not-so-great news.. if you don't do a passable job the first time around, you might not get another chance with this particular audience.

To accelerate your learning curve and proactively anticipate common senior level questions, follow this simple structure to prepare your next executive presentation and always feel ready when presenting at the highest levels of business.

Be Brief

Let's think about the agenda of the executive team in real terms, these folks are pretty heavily scheduled. If you've been asked to present, it is likely that you are one of multiple people presenting to this group today. And you may be last on the agenda.

In the short amount of time you have, you have to be confident, credible, memorable and competent. Easy, right? The reality is, the shorter the time you have to present, the more you need to prepare.

Set expectations and let the group know how you'll spend your time and what you'll be covering. They will be more likely to let you continue your presentation and not interrupt your flow if they know what's coming up in a couple of minutes.

We are not magicians working up to a big reveal at the end of the show. Summarize your 3 main points (or less) at the beginning of the presentation and come back to supporting detail as the conversation progresses. Your slides should reflect this with a lean presentation, with supporting detail in the appendix so you can flip to details and supporting visuals as you need.

Be Bright

You can take the "bright" to represent 2 main ideas in this context; being a bit clever, and also knowing how to best communicate your ideas to this group by presenting what they will be looking for.

Be clever by providing a new take on data that the group may have seen before, a (hopefully) new perspective, alternative solutions with clear benefits and risks and a recommendation, if you are asked to provide.

It's important, though whilst you may be presenting information the group hasn't considered before, you stay entirely on topic by providing the information requested of you before moving onto other topics.

Do sweat the details. Many an executive presentation has been derailed by an "off" detail being mentioned in the opening minutes. This detail has distracted an audience member and either caused them to disengage from the following information or prompted side discussions. Meanwhile, you're standing patiently waiting to get to the next slide.. and then time runs out. They've got to move on to the next agenda item, and your amazing ideas are trapped in Powerpoint forever.

It pays to rehearse multiple times in advance of the presentation to ensure that you can present all the information you have in the time you've been given, factoring in Q&A time. If there are any words that you tend to stumble on, either eliminate them by replacing with another word or take a minor pause before you say the word and really concentrate on pronouncing correctly (the words quantitative and qualitative come to mind for me, you will have your own tricky words!). Run your presentation past someone who has had ideas adopted at an executive level who will provide honest and constructive feedback.

Be Gone

If you can't save them money, save them time. You may be a subject matter expert in your sector or industry, which is perhaps why you have been asked to present on this topic. No-one will be looking to gain in-depth knowledge from your presentation, you need to remember to "level up" and not go into intricate detail unless requested. Long-winded and overly detailed presentations will not likely cover the details that this group is looking for, and you may find yourself interrupted if you don't focus on highlighting the problem or topic, high-level findings, a recommendation, the conclusion and a call to action.

These presentations provide decision points to move a company forward. Although you are the messenger, the purpose of the presentation is to consider initiatives that will make the company more successful, and success usually requires getting others involved and on-board to make it work. Be curious and open to the discussion that ensues rather than anxious and defensive about protecting your work.

Building Visibility Beyond the Boardroom

If you're not getting the call up to present to the board, there are still plenty of ways that you can build visibility and be known within your organization when the opportunity to advance comes around.

  • Prepare for meetings by looking over the agenda and making note of questions or points to raise and then speak up.
  • Build self-confidence, knowledge, and skills by taking a public speaking course and put your skills to work by applying them whenever you can.
  • Offer to train new team members in your area of expertise and volunteer for high-visibility projects.
  • Grow your network internally and externally. When you receive the opportunity to work on new projects, introduce yourself to anyone you haven't met before and demonstrate your expertise by speaking up in meetings. Do what you say you will do in these meetings!
  • If you meet someone at an event, ask if you can connect with them. Connect on LinkedIn or email so you can easily find each other again and then occasionally send them an article or note topics of interest to keep the connection fresh.
  • Find a mentor that can provide you with advice, feedback on your personal presence, communication skills, building expertise. This should not be a manager or someone with any link to your performance appraisal.
  • Focus on the contributions of others and don't be afraid to highlight their achievements.

Visibility is about your character as well as being the first person to mind for new opportunities and advancement. If you're the most qualified person for the job, you do great work AND people like working with you, that's a pretty winning combination.