What a Gas Pump Can Teach You about Presentations

A typical gas pump

In the age of automation, when you pull into the gas station to fill up your tank with gas, you encounter a beep-filled presentation—and not a good one, either. You put your credit or debit card in the card reader and the machine beeps at you: Credit or Debit? You press a button. Beep. Another question: What’s your zip code? Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep as you punch in the numbers. Beep. Next question: Do you want a car wash … Continue reading

What Debates Remind Us About Miscommunication

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I don’t often open a blog post with a disclaimer, but I feel the need to this time: I honor your right to your political views and I have no interest in changing or influencing those views. What I want to do is use the national stage to show you how we leaders really communicate—whether they know it or not. The ten men in the prime time Republican debate each has his detractors and supporters. Each has his own personal … Continue reading

Develop Your Skills Before Using Tools

A Canadian guitar shop with many acoustic guitars

Recently I took my son to a guitar store to shop for a new acoustic guitar. My son is an excellent guitar player and wants to expand into more production and performing. He needed the tool to do that, a performance caliber acoustic guitar. While he tried out different guitars I wandered around the store noticing the wide range of prices in guitars. One thought came to me: if you don’t know how to play the guitar then it doesn’t … Continue reading

Overcoming the Fear Factor

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The number one issue that most of my clients share is fear: fear of failure, fear of rejection, and undefined fear—a sensation so strong they can’t even get to the bottom of it. For most people, stepping to the front of the room, stepping to the podium, or stepping in front of a camera for an interview triggers fear. That’s natural. Overcoming fear so you can shine starts with changing the word you attach to what you’re feeling. The rush … Continue reading

Show Your Audience Something, Not Everything

A presenter overkilling his PowerPoint slides in front of an audience

I came across this photo on line and thought, ugh, same mistake most people make when they transfer their thoughts to PowerPoint: overkill. When it comes to words on PowerPoint, more is less. Let me explain. The more words you put on a PowerPoint slide, the less attention the audience gives to what you have to say. For people in the audience the visual of a slide filled with more than 80 words creates a feeling of anxiety, an actual … Continue reading

The Most Important Thing to Remember When Presenting Bad News

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When Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel delivered his speech this week on the military’s downsizing, he delivered bad news. It had an immediate impact. People talked about it everywhere from CNN to conversations at the company coffee pot. And most people talked about the two big take aways from the talk: The military is cutting personnel, and the downsized military will have fewer members since before World War II. Ask most people who saw the speech—or the media report about … Continue reading

Changing How You Feel About the Front of the Room

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I do a lot of consulting work and leading seminars teaching people to give more effective, impactful presentations and speeches. Here are a couple of common traits I find in most people who struggle in front of the room:

  1. They worry about looking stupid.
  2. They worry about whether the audience will like them or not.
  3. They worry that they’ll forget what to say.

Those are all common themes that I’ve seen hundreds of times from people at all levels of career success and experience. Here are a few ways to turn those traits around so you can shine in front of the room:

  1. Focus on what the audience needs and wants from you instead of focusing on yourself.
  2. Presume the audience will like you and wants you to succeed because the audience does. No one attends a presentation or a speech hoping it stinks because that’s a waste of their time. The audience wants you to succeed. The audience is rooting for you. Make that your mantra.
  3. Use a simple outline with one or two words that highlights each major area of your talk or presentation. It will give you a safety net to fall back on. The key is to keep it simple and use large font or print. It’s tricky trying to find your place in the middle of a presentation when you look down at a document jam packed with words. It’s easy to find your place when you look at a piece of paper that has more white space than words.

I’ve heard people say they feel like they’re going to die in front of an audience. Those are the same speakers and presenters who spend all of their time trying to get through their presentation. I want you to get into your presentation.

  • Get into your audience
  • Get into your audience’s needs
  • Get into the fact that your audience wants you to shine.

I promise that if you’ll do those things before long you won’t have to worry about whether or not your audience likes you. You’ll have to worry about how to squeeze all of the requests you get to make presentations into your already too busy schedule!

Go shine.