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Top Problems Presenters Face (And How to Avoid them)

“To err is human,” the adage goes. While not completely skipping the latter half, let’s accept the fact that we, as humans, make mistakes. It’s completely natural, albeit embarrassing—especially when in public. The moral of the story is that you have to make sure it doesn’t happen, right?

There are lessons taught the easy way: anticipate the blunder and avoid doing it. Then there are those only learned the hard way, the ones you must experience first before you can say, “That shouldn’t happen again.”

Barring advice from more experienced speakers and presenters, presentation mistakes can either be of those. The rub, though, is that there are many things that could possibly go wrong that only those with experience can fully prepare for everything.

Here are the most common problems—and how you avoid them—that amateur and professional presenters alike may still experience.

Presenter Problems: Slide Issues

Slide Issues

There is a myriad of presentation design tips out there, so let’s cover only the basic/common ones.

Color contrast.  Keep your choice of colors contrasting: dark text on light background or light text on dark background. If it makes your text easily readable, then that pair—or trio if you have three colors—has great harmony.

Wall of text. A reading spree will bore your audience. Instead, a few simple, powerful words is enough to drive the point home and make an impact. If not words, a meaningful image will do the trick; poignant, nostalgic, rousing, etc., the more emotions the picture solicits, the better. The clincher? Either of those on a single slide for maximum impact.

Too many slides. Drag your presentation on and on, and you’ll bore your audience. Attention is a fragile thing. A good guideline to follow is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with a 30-point font. That way, you’ll be able to punch in more points with fewer slides.

Technical Issues

If you’re not tech-savvy, then the following technical problems—or technological—will be the most complicated ones you’ll encounter.

Connecting to the projector. There are two areas for this blunder: Mac and Windows. First with the latter, most PCs and laptops that aren’t made by Apple have dedicated VGA ports, so you’re covered. There will still be occasional problems, like screens not displaying correctly—or at all—or distorted resolutions, but those are easily fixed with a little tinkering on the Display settings. If you’re rocking a MacBook, though, then chances are you’ll find yourself scrambling to find the extensions and adapters necessary to connect. So…

Presenter Problems: Technical Issues

Not bringing your own cablesIt would be prudent to carry your own gadgets to the venue: VGA adapters, additional USB port extensions, etc. Speakers will find bringing their own stuff is better when they learn on the day itself that the place isn’t fully equipped. Considering that Apple’s ports are, if anything, unique to everything but to those of the same brand, you can’t reasonably and practically expect every venue to have complete equipment. Of course, Windows users will find the practice time-conserving too. Bottom line: just to be safe, bring your own cables.

Videos not playingIf you plan to use videos during your speech, then you need lots of preparation before going onstage. If you’re using YouTube externally (switching from slideshow to Internet browser), secure a good Internet connection and preload the page; if you’re showing short scenes from a long clip, skip ahead to the relevant parts.

Linking is a different game though: You’re basically putting on your slide a “shortcut” button to a video in a specific file path. If you’re not using your own computer, then you need to transfer both presentation and video files and relink to make sure that the “shortcut” has the correct file path.

Freezing or crashingSometimes, it seems like devices have minds of their own, and speakers are forced to encounter a hurdle they can’t control—but can handle gracefully. In cases of computer meltdowns—a sudden hiccup may be tolerable, but a blue screen of death is hard to recover from—losing your cool is a no-no. Don’t panic. Instead, you can:

  • For a system hiccup, tell a few jokes, maybe something about technology, while waiting for it to resolve itself (heighten the suspense and kill the tension);
  • For a sudden crash, since you know it’s going to take some time, tell a story while the computer reboots; or
  • For a blue screen of death, well, nothing much to do about it but to restart the computer, tell stories and/or jokes (see the pattern now?), and just pick up where you left off.

The bottom line here is not to panic and/or just leave. Sure, it’s embarrassing, but handling the whole situation with dignity, and a bit of humor, will overshadow that little blunder.

The Importance of Proper Preparation for a Presenter

The talk itself notwithstanding, those are some of the most common problems presenters face before and during a public speech. But perhaps there’s a more common problem that is easily corrected but overlooked most of the time: lack of proper preparation. Most people don’t realize that this is the biggest enemy before anyone who undertakes an endeavor. It can manifest itself in many forms, including everything above. It’s also what separates amateurs from professionals.

Does that mean that professionals who make mistakes are amateurish? No, of course not. There are circumstances without a person’s reach, and those are the ones you must be careful with. Everything else, you learn to avoid with the right mentality, attitude, and dignity.

Resources:

Duarte, Nancy. “Five Presentation Mistakes Everyone Makes.” Harvard Business Review. December 12, 2012. www.hbr.org/2012/12/avoid-these-five-mistakes-in-y

Ezekiel, Rebecca. “10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” Presentation Prep. n.d. www.presentationprep.com/10-most-common-presentation-mistakes

Harvey, Jim. “5 Most Common Tech Problems for Presenters… and How to Avoid Them.” Presentation Guru. August 2, 2016. www.presentation-guru.com/the-5-most-common-technical-problems-for-presenters-and-how-to-avoid-them

Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

Marr, Bernard. “The Deadliest Presentation Mistakes Anyone Can Avoid.” LinkedIn Pulse. October 30, 2014. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141030071401-64875646-the-deadliest-presentation-mistakes-anyone-can-avoid?trk=prof-post&trk=prof-post

Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes

Olakunori, Giovanni. “30 Common Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” Larnedu. August 27, 2014. www.larnedu.com/2014/08/27/30-common-presentation-mistakes-avoid

Russell, Wendy. “The 10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” About, Inc. n.d. presentationsoft.about.com/od/presentationmistakes/tp/080722_presentation_mistakes.htm

“10 Common Presentation Mistakes.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/presentation-mistakes.htm

Crafting Engaging Content for Your Presentation

Good content is a key ingredient to a great presentation. Your audience is entitled to it, and it’s your duty as a presenter to grant them this right. When crafting content, keep in mind that you’re not bound by words alone. Content is about communication. It’s about conveying information, sharing your knowledge, and telling stories. It goes beyond the superficiality of letters and symbols and aims to produce meaning that can be easily understood and widely appreciated.

The way content is presented is also important. You can dress up your presentation through design and layout. However, you must remember that when all’s said and done, nothing—not even first-rate aesthetics—can compensate for bad content. Make sure to use content primarily to put your message across and inspire your audience into action.

Here are some tips to help you craft great content for your presentation:

1. Pick a relevant and interesting topic.

Every presentation must contain a core message. You can offer that message as a kind of takeaway that the audience can bring home after the presentation. Every idea you weave into the content should circle back to the core message. Otherwise, it needs to go.

2. Involve your audience from start to finish.

Professional speakers will tell you that content needs planning. The difference between a comprehensible presentation and a confusing one is that the former is well-planned and neatly outlined while the latter is just a hodgepodge of mismatched ideas. So, before you rush to a speaking commitment, take time to brainstorm and write ideas down. Establish your structure and decide on the flow and direction of your speech.

Needless to say, you can only plan your content if you know your audience thoroughly. You should tailor your presentation to their needs if you’re going to keep them engaged in every turn. They will only listen to you through the end if you make your presentation relevant, useful, and relatable.

3. Leverage current trends to spark interest.

People crave hot and popular trends. If you jump into the bandwagon and exploit trends while they’re still funky, your audience will be more inclined to advocate your brand. Find out what their tickle spot is and what gets them excited, then incorporate it into your content to maximize engagement.

4. Relay a story to create an emotional bond.

Stories are among the most engaging types of content. In contrast to facts and statistics, they can liven up your presentation and make it more memorable. The problem with hard data is that they’re difficult to comprehend because of their abstraction. They’re meaningless unless you make them about the audience. Stories, on the other hand, can carry an emotional weight that you can use to connect with your spectators, consequently keeping them hooked through the end.

Humor, Simplicity and Repetition for Your Presentation

5. Play on humor when appropriate.

When used properly, humor can be a powerful communication tool. It can help underscore your point, ease tension, and build rapport with your audience. However, you also need to be careful when using it lest it backfires. The thing about humor is that it can’t be forced. If you work too hard trying to incorporate it to your content, you may appear frivolous, or worse, desperate for attention. When that happens, your credibility might become tarnished and your presentation might sink.

Make sure you use humor spontaneously. The best kind of humor springs as anecdotes from personal experiences. What’s good about anecdotes is that they’re easy to tell because you’ve either experienced or witnessed them firsthand. The audience are more likely to relate with them because they’re genuine and personal.

6. Use simple words instead of jargon.

It doesn’t take a literary genius to craft good content. In fact, when it comes to presentations, simplicity is preferred over complexity. It may actually be quite rude to use big words when communicating a simple idea. Do your audience a favor and talk to them in a conversational tone. Avoid corporate lingo unless you’re speaking to a certain group who can understand industry-specific language. You can achieve better results if you speak in words that resonate with the audience. Watch your diction and make sure that everything you say is easily understandable.

7. Ingrain your message by repetition.

According to two Indiana University studies, a chunk of information remains in a person’s short-term memory for only eighteen seconds. To ensure that your audience remembers your core message, repeat keywords and phrases that highlight it. Draw their attention until the end so that they won’t be distracted from your content. Just be creative when doing so to avoid frustrating them.

A good content is easy to distinguish from a bad one. When your spectators find how useful and interesting your presentation is, they’ll appreciate the extra time and effort you spent to refine it. As a result, they’ll be more willing to share your content and spread your message.

Resources:

Daisyme, Peter. “5 Ways to Create Engaging Content Your Audience Will Share.” Entrepreneur. October 14, 2015. www.entrepreneur.com/article/251616

Mazur, Michelle. “Craft Presentation Content That Wows.” Communication Rebel. October 14, 2012. www.drmichellemazur.com/2012/10/craft-presentation-content-that-wows.html

Noar, Adam. “How to Write Engaging Content for Your Slides: 15 Simple Presentation Tips.” Presentation Panda. n.d. presentationpanda.com/blog/how-to-write-engaging-content-for-your-slides-15-simple-presentation-tips

“Presentation Skills: Using Humor Effectively.” The Total Communicator. n.d. totalcommunicator.com/vol2_2/funnymeeting.html

“Repetition: Making Prospects Remember Your Key Messages.” Freestyle. September 2, 2016. www.freestyleservices.com/single-post/2016/10/04/Repetition-Making-Prospects-Remember-Your-Key-Messages

Public Speaking Fear: Getting Rid of It in a Jiffy

Let’s face it: public speaking is frightening. Even the best speakers experience jitters before they go onstage. They just hide it really, really well—or they’re so used to stage fright that it’s no longer an issue after their warmup exercises.

Audience members pick up on signs of discomfort when you as a speaker have a hard time onstage: excessive sweating, stuttering, shortness of breath, etc. When they do, you become more conscious about what you’re doing, and the anxiety starts to build up. Does that mean you’re not ready? Possibly.

There’s no denying that some people, to no fault of their own, have a hard time dealing with high-stress situations—and you can bet that giving a speech in front of a crowd is stressful. Imagine the scenario: You’re minutes away from being called onstage. Your presentation is ready, perhaps designed by a PowerPoint design agency. The lights focus on your spot. But backstage, butterflies are abuzz in your stomach; your knees are shaking, and your palms are sweaty. You feel a bit lightheaded. Dizzy even.

These are uncontrollable responses to nervousness. While completely natural, especially in the context of public speaking, they’re still something that faze lots of people—80 percent of the US population, in fact. However, there are people easily debilitated by the mere thought of speaking in public. Those who suffer from a specific social anxiety disorder, glossophobia, feel nauseous and are prone to having panic attacks, which is why they try to stay away from doing it as much as possible.

For those who need to speak in public, though, how do you deal with stage fright? The ways to do it vary from person to person since each individual handles stress differently. Check this infographic to learn a few tricks to calm down and nail that speech.

Resources:

Hagen-Rochester, Susan. “Got Public Speaking Jitters? Experts Say Embrace the Fear.” Futurity. April 8, 2013. www.futurity.org/got-public-speaking-jitters-experts-say-embrace-the-fear

McClafferty, Alex. “12 ‘Fear of Public Speaking’ Symptoms and How to Beat Them.” Forbes. January 12, 2015. www.forbes.com/sites/alexmcclafferty/2015/01/12/fear-of-public-speaking/#b4fe7fd37a0c

Morgan, Nick. “Why We Fear Public Speaking and How to Overcome It.” Forbes. March 30, 2011. www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2011/03/30/why-we-fear-public-speaking-and-how-to-overcome-it/#4848c54fea43

Jamieson, Jeremy P., Matthew K. Nock, and Wendy Berry Mendes. “Changing the Conceptualization of Stress in Social Anxiety Disorder: Affective and Physiological Consequences.” Clinical Psychological Science. 2013. journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2167702613482119

Looking Back on the Birth of PowerPoint

It’s hard to imagine life without the comforts of modern technology that people know today: smartphones, 24/7 Internet access, computers that basically provide anything and everything with the push of a few buttons, and the like. Now, you’d think that innovation is an everyday occurrence, but that wasn’t the case in the mid-1900s, especially for businesses.

Back in the early 60s, Roger Appeldorn invented the first overhead projector. It had a simple principle of using light reflected upon mirrors to display data printed on transparencies (a.k.a. foil or viewgraph), paper-sized sheets of cellophane. The bulky instrument became a mainstay in meeting rooms, but the processes to create one sheet of transparency were tedious and time-consuming (inkjet printing was still a new thing). If not printed, then presenters would handwrite data to be projected on the transparencies. That is, until the 90s. What happened?

Microsoft PowerPoint happened.

Its revolutionary and innovative approach to creating presentations gave it an edge over its more than thirty competitors. Its timing with the booms of both the Apple and Windows operating systems—primitive as they were—cemented its growth. And its fundamental function hosted other uses it wasn’t intended for, like classroom operations and simple public speaking exercises (and not-so-simple ones like the TED Talks). Yes, it’s that flexible.

Today, PowerPoint is at its latest version: PowerPoint 2016, as part of the Microsoft bundle Office 2016. More than two decades since the first version was published, PowerPoint is at its prime—with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Although it has seen its share of competitors, the presentation designer software remains as strong as ever, if not stronger.

So how did this juggernaut of a program come to fruition? How about a teaser? For starters, did you know that PowerPoint didn’t start as an internal project of Microsoft? The following infographic will take you through decades across the technological history to the go-to presentation software that is—and will always be—Microsoft PowerPoint.

Resources:

Akanegbu, Anuli. “Vision of Learning: A History of Classroom Projectors.” EdTech Magazine. February 28, 2013. www.edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2013/02/vision-learning-history-classroom-projectors

“Life Before the Web – Running a Startup in the 1980’s.” The Zamzar Blog. July 13, 2016. blog.zamzar.com/2016/07/13/life-before-the-web-running-a-startup-in-the-1980s

Can Hosting a Webinar Expand Your Audience?

Today’s business climate makes it more challenging to gain business leads. Competition is tight, so brands should up their game to survive. If you want to stay at the top, you should learn how to keep liabilities at the minimum and make the most of your assets.

Phone marketing was the norm before, but today, digital marketing is king. Businesses leverage online resources like social media, blogs, visual content, and what is probably the least known of all marketing channels: webinars. The rise of digital marketing has paved the way for businesses to do more without spending more. Make sure you use this advantage comprehensively.

Webinar Tips: Primary Goals and Purposes

Webinar 101: Primary Goals and Purposes

A webinar is a live meeting that takes place over the web. Obviously, it’s a portmanteau that blends the words “web” and “seminar.” According to webinar expert Marta Eichstaedt, when webinars are used as marketing tools, they typically last between thirty minutes to a full hour. This length already takes into account the spontaneous interaction between the host and the audience.

There are many reasons why marketers include webinars in their business efforts. The following are the three most important.

  • To educate customers. According to ClickMeeting, 85% of webinars are designed to educate existing and potential clients. If there’s one thing webinars should do, it’s to offer a novel perspective. They ought to satiate people’s desire to learn new things. Webinars are also a tool for businesses to solidify their credibility and establish themselves as experts in the field.
  • To promote brand awareness. The more successful your webinar is, the more people will learn about it. The louder the noise it makes, the more people will check it out. Hosting a webinar can expand your audience reach every time you bring something fresh and interesting to the table.
  • To generate new business leads. The same infographic by ClickMeeting claimed that 77% of webinars are designed to attract new leads. With a successful webinar, you can reach more business prospects and cultivate them through the sales process.

Webinar Tips: The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The Benefits of Hosting a Webinar

The perks of hosting a webinar abound—that’s why businesses can’t get enough of it. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy from using this marketing tool to your advantage:

    • Save on costs. No matter how big your company is, you still need to use your resources wisely. Webinars are a good investment because they don’t cost much. All you need is a stable internet connection to hold one and a few active online platforms to promote it.
    • Maximize time. Unlike in physical events like seminars or conferences, you don’t need months or weeks to prepare for a webinar. A few days of preparation would suffice. You can also save time from traveling since you can conduct a webinar from the comforts of your home or office. 
    • Repurpose content. Webinars are versatile tools for marketing. You can turn them into webcasts once the event is over. You can also repurpose webinar content into a blog post or website copy. If you’re able to record your sessions, you can keep them in your knowledgebase for future reference.
    • Eliminate physical barriers. One of the conveniences of hosting a webinar is that anyone can participate in it, regardless of location or time zone. Speakers are also free to interact with participants through real-time polls and chat boxes.
    • Get feedback. You can immediately gauge the success of your webinar by sending out a survey to the participants. The feedback can clue you in as to the strengths and weaknesses of your event.

Webinar Tips: Preparing for a Webinar | Signup Form

Preparing for a Webinar

Before hosting a webinar, you need to find out first if there’s a demand for it. Conduct a survey in your audience circle, and find out if enough people are interested to join your session. Once you’re sure that the audience likes this format, proceed to the preparation phase.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Craft the content. Kick off by briefly introducing yourself, the other speakers or panelists, and the companies involved. Tell the audience about the topic you’re going to tackle, and give them a preview of what’s going to happen. You should be able to grab their attention during the first few minutes. In the body of your content, present a maximum of three ideas that you can expound on. Finally, finish off with a memorable statement, a call to action, and a courtesy message for the participants.
  • Set the time and duration. Find out what works best for your attendees. If you have foreign prospects, make sure that you find a common time that’s convenient for them and for the local participants.
  • Determine the panelists. Invite someone who can communicate the message best. You can collaborate with other brands to add greater value to your webinar. Have someone who is familiar with your content and who can help keep your presentation flowing smoothly. 
  • Prepare your tools. Obviously, you need technology to set up your event. Find a platform that can host your webinar, and make sure that your Internet connection is reliable enough to stream it. It’s also important to get a good phone headset, ideally a cordless one, so that you can stand up and move while talking. 
  • Create a landing page. Make sure it has sufficient details about the webinar to make the prospects excited about signing up. Include a registration form that requests information from your attendees. The most important fields are the name and e-mail address. You can also ask for the company they’re affiliated with. Any more than these three can make your prospects less likely to sign up.

The Takeaway

Once you’ve hosted your own webinar, you’ll understand why it’s considered by many businesses as an effective customer acquisition channel. Explore the wonders of this tool and discover how it can propel your business to success.

Resources:

Howes, Lewis. “8 Ways to Boost Your Business with Webinars.” Lewis Howes. n.d. lewishowes.com/webinars/webinar-marketing-tips-and-resources

Jozwiak, Agnes. “World Wide Webinars: New Infographic.” ClickMeeting. March 23, 2012. blog.clickmeeting.com/world-wide-webinars-new-infographic

MacDonald, Steven. “How to Successfully Host a Webinar and Build Your Audience.” E-Marketeer. August 19, 2014. www.emarketeer.com/blog/successfully-host-webinar-build-audience

Moreau, Elise. “What Is a Webinar?” Lifewire. April 6, 2016. www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-webinar-3486257

Russer, Michael. “Expand Your Reach with Webinars.” Realtor Mag. July 2009. realtormag.realtor.org/technology/mr-internet/article/2009/07/expand-your-reach-webinars

Slyman, Natalie. “How to Hold an Effective Webinar an Generate Leads for Your Business.” Influence & Co. December 6, 2016. blog.influenceandco.com/how-to-hold-an-effective-webinar-and-generate-leads-for-your-business

Wasielewski, Jarek. “How Webinars Expand Reach to Your Target Audience in Online Marketing.” ClickMeeting. September 12, 2014. blog.clickmeeting.com/webinars-expand-reach-target-audience-online-marketing

Looking for creative presentations that can leverage your business? Enjoy free PowerPoint templates from SlideStore! Sign up today.

Becoming a Better Presenter: From Bad to Superb Presentation Skills

Have you ever come across a speaker who knocked you breathless with his or her speech? A speaker who pulled you to the edge of your seat and made you feel like you’re part of a privileged audience? At least once in your professional career, you’ll be granted the chance to be that speaker. You’ll find yourself holding the opportunity to make an impact and leave a lasting impression that will resonate with the audience for a long time.

It doesn’t matter if you’re ready or not. Circumstances don’t choose their preys. You’ll have no choice but to take the limelight when the moment strikes, so bask in its glory while you can. No excuse is good enough to turn down an opportunity to be great at something. Greatness doesn’t happen by accident, and mastery doesn’t come in a snap. You need to invest both time and effort to be a better presenter.

Below are some aspects of public speaking that you can hone with dedication and perseverance.

Building Around Your Core Message

You can’t plunge head-first to a speaking engagement without fully understanding your core message. Take time to get your thoughts straight and identify the essentials of your speech. Don’t treat your presentation like a dumpster for ideas. If you cover too much material, your audience will end up either bored or boggled. In a typical public speaking setup, less is more, so know what to include in your talk and what to leave out. Once you have a tight grip on your message, structure your thinking so that you can present your ideas in a way that’s both interesting and comprehensible.

The Audience as Your Touchstone

You can’t preach to an audience that you know nothing or little about. Unless you speak with their interests in mind, don’t bother speaking at all. The audience is an important part of your presentation that you can’t ignore. You need to know their pains, opinions, desires, and goals. What do they understand about the topic? Where do they stand about the issue? How can you challenge them to think differently? How can you improve their lives?

Your presentation will be for nothing if the audience remains unreceptive to your message. Make sure your ideas don’t fall on deaf ears. Speak on a personal level to encourage your listeners to engage in a conversation with you. When you make the mistake of being self-righteous, you’ll lose the game. Remember, the goal is to communicate effectively, not to look impressive.

Crafting a Killer Slide Deck

Your supporting visuals can have a huge bearing on the success of your presentation, so make sure you use the right design elements across all your graphics. Do away with bullets, long texts, and cheesy slide transitions. Be consistent with the font, and stick to a simple color scheme. If you’re going to use an image, don’t go hunting in the clipart library—use high-quality stock images and authentic photos instead. If you need assistance for PowerPoint design, collaborate with a slide design artist who can take the aesthetics of your presentation to the next level.

Fine-tuning Your Presentation

How many stage presenters does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Four. One to do the actual task, and three to help him rehearse the act.

That may be a pathetic attempt at comedy, but it sums up the importance of constant practice in public speaking. Once you have your content and design all figured out, it’s time to put everything you’ve worked hard on to the test. Demonstrate your presentation to three qualified people, and elicit their feedback and reactions. Make sure to address everything they have to say. Find time to practice your gestures and rehearse your speech. Learn the piece by heart, and don’t stop until the day of your presentation. Don’t worry about over-practicing—there’s no such thing.

A Word on Authenticity and Confidence

Presentation jitters are natural, but that doesn’t mean you should let them overpower you. Don’t beat yourself up for having the urge to shy away from the spotlight. Although it’s true that the audience don’t want to see how nervous you are, they will likely empathize with you if you fail to keep your composure onstage. You’ll be amazed at how many people can relate to the nerve-racking feat that is public speaking. Just take deep breaths and remember who you are and what you’re there for. Tell yourself, “I have something unique that the audience wants, and I’m going to go ahead and share it.” Stamp out your self-doubt by letting your personality shine through. If you stick to the real you, the audience will be more willing to receive your message.

The Performance of a Lifetime

Take every public speaking assignment like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Prepare for it like it’s the performance of your life. If you look at it this way, you’ll be able to prepare thoroughly and put your best foot forward. While onstage, you need to project a good stage presence. You can do this by dressing professionally, establishing eye contact, taking full control of your voice, and breathing evenly. It would also do you and everyone else good if you respect your audience’s time by sticking to the schedule.

Of Passion and Enthusiasm

If there’s one thing you should be while delivering a speech, it’s enthusiastic. Nothing beats the warm vigor of a presenter brimming with passion about his or her speech. If you’re passionate, the audience will be too because passion is infectious. When all’s said and done, energy is more impactful than eloquence.

Becoming a better presenter will serve you well throughout your professional career. It will open new opportunities that you’ve never had before. Take your presentation skills to the next level, and watch as you get closer to finding success.

Resources:

Cummings, Harriet. “You Could Be a Better Presenter, Here’s How.” Distilled. August 21, 2014. www.distilled.net/resources/you-could-be-a-better-presenter-heres-how

Kaye, Jezra. “For Great Public Speaking, a Little Daily Practice Goes a Long, Long Way.” Speak Up for Success. n.d. speakupforsuccess.com/practice-a-little-every-day

Kim, Larry. “20 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills.” WordStream. November 3, 2016. www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/11/19/how-to-improve-presentation-skills

Malone, Sean. “10 Tips to Become a Better Presenter.” Virtual Studio. August 17, 2010. www.virtualstudio.tv/blog/post/13-10-tips-to-become-a-better-presenter

Singer, Thom. “Get Noticed: 7 Tips for Better Presentation Skills.” Pragmatic Marketing. February 17, 2015. pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/get-noticed-7-tips-for-better-presentation-skills

“Authentic Public Speaking: Why Being Real Makes All the Difference.” Presence Training. January 18, 2014. presencetraining.co.uk/authentic-public-speaking-real-difference

“Enthusiasm: Bringing Passion to Your Performance.” Voice and Speech. n.d. voiceandspeech.com/articles/enthusiasm.html

What Leaders Need to Know About Mindfulness

The best leaders work resolutely to unite their team to achieve their goals. Working hard is a given for them, and so is playing hard. They can channel their energy towards any challenge, and they can rest their minds despite the many responsibilities that await them. In other words, the best leaders know the secrets of mindfulness.

Before delving into what mindfulness is, let’s first clarify what it’s not. Mindfulness is not a religious activity—although it is, to some extent, transcendental in nature. It’s not about putting your thoughts to a pause, nor is it a way of escaping from reality. Most importantly, it’s not a one-time fix for your problems.

Mindfulness is a basic ability that you can harness if you put your mind to it. It involves focusing on the present, detaching your judgment from your reactions, and practicing self-observation. Its utmost goal is to rouse the inner workings of your mind so you can perform at your best. By training to be mindful, you can remodel your brain structure and mental composition.

Mindfulness for Business Leadership

Mindfulness for Business Leadership

Mindfulness presents many positive implications for business. In fact, it’s believed to be the one solution to the world’s illnesses. But as underlined before, this state of consciousness is not really a panacea. What’s more, there’s no substantial data relating to its impact on contemporary leadership.

If there’s no solid research about how this practice can “cure” the industry, then where does the overwhelming enthusiasm for it come from? Incidentally, it’s all based on personal observations and experiences. Take Bill George, for example. George, a Harvard professor and former Medtronic CEO, shared how meditative practices had helped him cope with his struggles at the top of the business chain. Another business tycoon who leveraged the power of mind training to become an effective leader was Apple’s co-founder, Steve Jobs. Jobs practiced Zen meditation techniques to gain better business clarity.

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Apart from the influence of these people, another reason why mindfulness is gaining a wider audience is the growing need of business leaders to find a timeout from their busy careers. They need a way to stop the world on command, and mindfulness can help with that.

Becoming a Mindful Leader

How to Be a Mindful Leader

Proper training can enhance your leadership abilities and improve your resilience. The following seven mini-habits are a good place to start.

1. Make time for introspective practice.

You need a proper space and enough time to carry out a mindful, introspective exercise that will awaken your mental mechanisms. The said exercise can come in many forms: journaling, praying, taking long walks, hiking, jogging, doing yoga, and meditating, among others. Any activity that lets you center into yourself will help open your inner sense of well-being. By developing simple habits like these, you’ll gain clarity to make sound decisions and become more aware of your impact to the world.

2. Pay attention to the present moment.

Mindful leaders know how to dwell in the moment and live life as it happens. After all, one of the aims of mindfulness is to quiet the mind and see everything as it is. Train your mind to pay attention to what’s immediately happening before you. You may occasionally find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and emotions, but that’s alright, as long as you always return to the present.

3. Acknowledge your thoughts and let them roll by.

One of the important skills that come with mindfulness is metacognition, the ability to let your judgments roll by after making a mental note of them. Metacognition allows you to observe each moment and participate in it. It’s like going into the riverbank of your stream of consciousness to see what’s going on inside your head. You’ll find your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and impulses laid open before you. As a leader, you’ll find this helpful as it will keep you from being overly reactive or overwhelmed. You’ll be able to take broader perspectives into account before making crucial decisions.

Acknowledge Your Thoughts

4. Let your mind wander but only for a while.

While you’re in the middle of an exercise—practicing introspection, staying anchored to the present, observing metacognition—your mind may wander off. When this happens, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, just recognize where your mind has wandered into and gently bring it back.

5. Marry your head with your heart.

For you to become a mindful leader, you have to let your heart and mind become one. This may sound easy, but it’s not. As Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The longest journey you will ever take is the eighteen inches from your head to your heart.” To be a mindful leader, you must have the courage and the passion to be better. You should be able to exhibit intentionality in every action you take.

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6. Disconnect from the world.

To be truly mindful, you must reduce the unnecessary chatter in your head. You can’t focus on yourself if you’re always bombarded with distractions. You need an opportunity to de-stress and gather your thoughts. Do this by disconnecting from the world. Unplug everything that can distract you—people, gadgets, and noisy objects that keep you from centering on important things.

7. Take interest in the world around you.

You can only put yourself in the present if you take an interest in the world inside your head and the universe around you. Curiosity is the ingredient that will truly open your mind to its full capacity. Without it, you’ll have no motivation to explore the extraordinary capabilities of your mind.

The pursuit of mindful leadership will help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and your bearing to others. Mindfulness will drive away trivial and noisy thoughts to help you focus on what’s paramount. Ultimately, it will allow you to become an authentic leader in your field.

Creating a Solid Presentation Outline

Speech outlines are often overlooked in presentations. They’re dismissed as a waste of time by amateur presenters who don’t realize their relevance. Why flesh out your speech when you can go straight to writing it whole, they’d argue. Most professional speakers, however, claim the opposite. They know better, and they understand that time spent mulling over a presentation’s basic framework is never wasted time. In fact, they consider it as time well-spent.

Think of your speech outline as the blueprint of your presentation. It’s there mostly as an assurance that your speech is coherent, focused, and ready to be brought to life. It will help you clear your presentation anxiety, so you’ll feel less apprehensive about muddling it up with ambiguous ideas and obscure statements. Crafting a speech outline is a critical step to make sure that your presentation is ready to go.

The Importance of Preparing a Speech Outline

Your speech outline will help you see your core message clearly and without obstruction. It will force out from your mind the key logical elements of your presentation—the bits that, together, form your speech skeleton.

An outline is a good way to find out, possibly for the first time, exactly what it is you want to say. It will help you organize your material and put your thoughts together in a way that yields a comprehensible output. It will ground you and keep you on topic from the time you write that first draft to the moment you deliver the actual presentation. And the best part is that it’s easier than it seems. You don’t need a flurry of words to make one—you need ideas. Cues and fragments would do, as long as they mean something to you.

As the backbone of your speech, the outline will help you enhance the logic of your content and the sequence of your narrative. It will improve the flow and style of your presentation so that whatever you share to the audience will be received with interest and understanding. Laying out the basics of your presentation will help you look at the bigger picture without delving deep into the details.

Structuring Your Speech Skeleton

Speech outlines, like many write-ups, usually follow a three-part structure. This basic formula is something that anyone who has ever read or written anything can easily recognize:

  1. Introduction – where you tell your audience what you’re going to tell them
  2. Body – where you actually tell them
  3. Conclusion – where you tell them again what you just told them

It’s an easy enough way of framing a speech. Structuring your outline this way will help you determine which sections of your presentation need to be given more importance.

The Brainstorming Stage

Before you can write your outline, you need to go through one more stage: brainstorming. This will jumpstart your creative process by allowing you to explore all possibilities, exhaust all means, and let your stream of consciousness flow. In this stage, you’ll have to experiment with different concepts to come up with the basics of your presentation. Decide on your topic to keep your speech firmly grounded. Define your goals and identify how to achieve them. Determine the essence of your presentation from the audience’s perspective. Of course, whatever you decide on while brainstorming won’t necessarily be set in stone. They can still change as you move forward. Brainstorming will only help you create idea maps in your mind so that you can organize your thoughts before outlining.

The Brainstorming Stage

Part One: Introduction

The Introduction is where you establish the topic and the core message. This is where you define the problem, state your goal, and tell the audience how they can benefit from it. It’s concise in form, but it encapsulates the theme well. Your first few minutes onstage is your chance to establish your credibility and assert your qualifications. This is where you establish your right to speak on the topic.

Professional speakers will agree that, more than anything, an introduction must grab the audience’s attention and compel them to listen. This is why the most memorable presentations use humor as an opening salvo. A bit of wit is effective in offsetting the somberness of later discussions.

Part Two: Body

The Body contains the bulk of your talk because this is where you elaborate and flesh out your main points. It’s your opportunity to give credence to your claims and present supporting points to your arguments. You can either support your premise by introducing factual evidence, or you can dismiss opposing arguments. The body is also where your story solidifies—you can tell a narrative that relates back to your core message.

Part Three: Conclusion

The Conclusion is where you recap your main points—the pieces of information you want your audience to remember. This is where you neatly wrap up your main arguments and reiterate your core message to tie every aspect of your speech together. Before you step out of the limelight, you should’ve already established your call to action. Move the audience to join your cause and suggest future actions that they can take. But most important of all, you need to make your closing remarks memorable. Dress them up so you’ll end with a bang that will resonate with your audience long after you’re done talking.

The initial draft of your outline is unlikely to be the final draft. Writing is a process, after all. You’ll have to constantly review and revise your work until the finished output is seamless. Instead of a tedious hurdle, see this as an opportunity to shape and refine your speech to perfection. Don’t worry, the outline is 60% of the work, so once you’re done with it, you’re more than halfway to finishing your presentation.

Resources:

Dlugan, Andrew. “Don’t Skip the Speech Outline.” Six Minutes. February 29, 2008. sixminutes.dlugan.com/speech-preparation-3-outline-examples

Dugdale, Susan. “Sample Speech Outline.” Write Out Loud. n.d. www.write-out-loud.com/sample-speech-outline.html

Guay, Matthew. “Presentations 101: The Absolute Basics of Making a Presentation.” Envato Tuts Plus. February 18, 2014. computers.tutsplus.com/tutorials/presentations-101-the-absolute-basics-of-making-a-presentation–cms-19551

Hansen, Brianna. “7 Techniques for More Effective Brainstorming.” Wrike. November 16, 2016. www.wrike.com/blog/techniques-effective-brainstorming

Pfeifer, Tom. “Start with Your Speech Skeleton: Add Some Tasty Skin.” Tom Pfeifer. n.d. tompfeifer.wordpress.com/tag/how-do-i-frame-a-speech

Zomick, Brad. “How to Write an Outline: 5 Techniques and 5 Learning Resources.” Skilled Up. May 29, 2013. www.skilledup.com/articles/how-to-write-an-outline-techniques-resources

“Building a Speech: Starting with an Outline.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/organizing-and-outlining-the-speech-10/principles-of-organization-51/building-a-speech-starting-with-an-outline-206-6814

“Creating a Presentation Outline.” Think Outside the Slide. n.d. www.thinkoutsidetheslide.com/lesson-1-creating-a-presentation-outline

“How to Create a Presentation Outline.” eHow. n.d. www.ehow.com/how_2057469_create-presentation-outline.html

“Speech Outline Example (Informative or Persuasive).” My Speech Class. n.d. www.myspeechclass.com/outline.html

“The Rough Draft Outline.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/organizing-and-outlining-the-speech-10/outlining-56/the-rough-draft-outline-223-7317