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3 Reminders When Facing a Presentation Audience

Connecting with the audience and getting your message across is the goal of any presentation. The impact you make varies on the preferences of the people you’re facing. Nothing’s wrong with tailor-fitting your presentation for the specific group you’re presenting to.

Most of the time, it’s even encouraged. But if you’re looking for a general framework, there are some rules that apply to any type of presentation audience. Remember the following guidelines the next time you face a crowd:

Your Listeners Aren’t Children

No one wants to be talked down to. Although you have to explain your points clearly, don’t treat your audience like they don’t know anything. Be careful not to offend them by sounding like you’re belittling them. Doing so will make you sound obnoxious and would only deter them from listening.

Get to know your listeners either by interacting with them prior to the event or looking them up. This gives you a better grasp of how to handle them. In most cases, using the conversational tone is good enough to establish rapport without sounding condescending.

Consider how you would want to be addressed by another person and apply this when communicating with your audience.

Don’t Make Fun of Anyone

Engaging listeners is important in keeping their attention. One way to keep people interested is by involving them in your speech. Let your audience participate by prompting them with questions or incorporating humor. But don’t overdo it.

Don’t crack a joke just to get their attention. Make sure what you’re saying is still connected to your main idea. Straying from your point only makes things confusing.

Another important reminder when using humor is to never make fun of an audience member. In her book, Public Speaking is Not For Wimps, leadership speaker Kimberly Alyn dedicates a section to discussing the correct use of humor in public speech.

Although humor engages, it can sometimes do the opposite and further discourages the listener. This isolates and embarrasses the object of ridicule. The last thing you’d want in your presentation is to have someone feel discomfort because of something you did.

Be Professional

This may sound common, but professionalism is a must in any presentation. Don’t sacrifice your credibility in an attempt to appear familiar with your audience. Relating a few personal experiences is fine in creating a narrative where people can associate with.

On the other hand, steer away from being overly comfortable. Telling stories that are too personal can make the audience feel as uncomfortable as a stiff presenter. In a way, distancing yourself from your listeners also shows a form of respect.

People will appreciate your effort as you connect with them, but will also feel awkward if it goes overboard.

Conclusion

Dealing with your audience can be tricky. You need to know the right thing to say, at the right time. But once you find out how to win over your listeners, there’s very little else you need to be worried about. In case you don’t, you can apply common courtesy.

Don’t belittle your audience by over explaining facts or questioning their culture, unless it’s intrinsically a part of your presentation. Apply some fun to your speech, but never at the expense of another person’s feelings. Being considerate and empathic maintains a professional atmosphere during your speech.

Converse with people to ease tension, while keeping your own dignity intact. It’s a way of sounding like a familiar friend without overstepping your bounds.

Need a good PowerPoint to match with your well-planned speech? Contact our SlideGenius experts today and get a free quote!

References

Alyn, Kimberley. Public Speaking is Not for Wimps!. Florida: Llumina Press, 2003.

Featured Image: “Audience” by Jesper Ronn-Jensen on flickr.com

How to Engage Audiences with Your Mirror Neurons

Body language helps significantly when delivering your message.

It doesn’t matter whether you have an interesting topic to tackle, an engaging PowerPoint deck to display, or a captivating story to tell. How you communicate nonverbally affects the entire performance.

Most people don’t see how observing others influences our actions. This is where the magic of mirror neurons takes place.

What is a Mirror Neuron?

A mirror neuron is a type of neuron that allows people to empathize with others’ conditions. This happens when someone observes another person, thus mirroring his behavior. If we notice a stranger who bumps into a concrete wall, our brain is wired to empathize and experience the same feeling the stranger does.

When someone feels down, we tend to sympathize with the person involved, letting our brains respond with comfort.

We might be unaware of this kind of response, but for presenters, this is an effective technique to use when getting your message across.

What Makes it Effective?

Moving towards the audience doesn’t just help you physically interact with them. It also allows you to engage them using eye contact, facial expressions, movements, and gestures. In this case, you are more likely to convince your audience by reflecting some of their reactions.

This is useful when you want to connect with a large crowd. You might not be able to achieve it, but connecting with them without going near them physically is possible. Selecting a few members of your audience to engage, particularly those who are in front, will help you do this by activating their mirror neurons.

If one of your audiences look at another member, his brain tends to react the same as if you’re talking to him as well.

How Can You Apply This?

This technique can be used to create interest, focusing their attention on your performance. E-learning expert, Vicki Kunkel cites in her book Dr. Wayne Dyer, a well-known speaker and author, who is an expert at applying this technique to his performances.

Every time Dwyer presents, he’s able to make his audiences feel part of a story. He does it by describing the event itself and projecting body movements, showing people how it made him feel. Another way he manages this is by walking around in one part of the stage while tackling a subject.

When he changes or moves on to another topic, he transfers to a different area. This is to emphasize what he’s discussing and to make it easier for his audiences to follow the discussion.

Summing It Up

Master this technique to connect with your audience’s emotions, keeping them engaged and allowing them to fully understand your message. Take advantage of mirror neurons to influence your listeners’ reactions for a convincing pitch they can’t refuse.

To help you with your presentation needs, SlideGenius experts can offer you a free quote!

Reference

Kunkel, Vicki. Instant Appeal: The 8 Primal Factors That Create Blockbuster Success. New York: AMACOM, 2008.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

3 Small Talk Habits That Delay Professional Presentations

Don’t boring scenes make you want to press fast-forward?

If you’re bad at entertaining your audience, then they’ll want to fast-forward your professional presentations, too.

But what makes a scene boring?

There are many reasons for a dull presentation, but one of the most notorious is because the presenter is trying to cover up a lack of preparation.

Here are 3 delaying tactics you should avoid:

1. Overdoing Background Information

Introductions are where you engage audiences so that they’ll listen to you from start to finish.

However, taking too long to get to your main point will bore them to death.

Avoid including too much background information in your script.

Anecdotes are a great way to start a pitch, but make sure it’s directly related to your core idea, or else you’ll just go off-track.

Instead, go straight to your main points point and work on particular details that best inform and educate the crowd.

2. Stating the Obvious

Everybody knows that the Earth is round and the sky is blue.

Why tell your audiences information that they probably already know?

If you’ll be mentioning well-known facts, make sure that you have follow-up questions or points for discussion.

For instance, look for the reasons behind the fact, concrete examples that demonstrate that data, or ways how you could take advantage of it.

Otherwise, skip that piece of information altogether.

3. Delaying the Solution

Your audience is there for a reason: they’re looking for something beneficial that you can give them.

If you fail to deliver, then you’ve failed your audience.

Build-up is important, but spending too much time hyping up your offering could cause your audience to doze off from boredom.

Worse, they may get annoyed and think that your pitch was a waste of time.

Caring about your audience involves giving them what they expect from you. Offer something that makes them think that they’re your priority. Don’t give them the opposite of what they’re looking for.

Get Straight to the Point

Why would you end up delaying your presentation in the first place?

Often, this is a result of not preparing for the big day.

Careful planning allows you to craft and organize your script. It helps you recognize what is valuable to your audience.

When you plan for your next presentation, instead of talking about how significant your topic is, make sure to go straight to delivering your main point.

Remember: avoid including too much background information, stating the obvious, and delaying the solution.

Avoiding these delaying tactics is your ticket to the fast-lane of engaging, convincing, and sales-worthy presentations.

5 Presentation Speaking Tips from Winston Churchill

One of the most effective speakers we can learn from is Winston Churchill. In fact, both advertising agency gurus and presentation experts have cited his skills, be it crafting and rehearsing a presentation speech, as brand communications expert, Carmine Gallo lauded, or for writing persuasive advertising copy, according to creativity mentor, Luke Sullivan.

Churchill’s speeches have always been powerful and persuasive. These can be used as inspiration for more convincing business or sales presentations, especially if you’re selling something. Use these five presentation speaking tips to get the most out of your pitch:

1. Begin Strongly

Start with a question, cite a relevant quotation or challenge your audience. Whichever way you pick, be sure to give your audience a strong and credible impression. You also need to empathize and show that you’re willing to help solve their problems.

Remember that you need clients or partners to invest in you. Giving a confident impression and backing it up with an effective pitch make for a strong introduction.

2. Have One Theme

A compelling idea is the cornerstone of an effective business presentation. Being able to centralize your speech around one idea describes and clarifies what you want to say. Sullivan suggests that in order to find that one idea, look at your product and find the best way you can describe it.

If you can summarize that within one description, putting in the supporting points to back up your claims will be easier to make. Your audience will also have an easier time following your pitch too.

3. Use Simple language

Using a conversational tone, together with simple and easy-to-understand language gives potential partners an easier time following your presentation. This saves you time in reiterating your key points and explaining them to the audience.

Rather than giving a technical explanation, stick to highlighting what your product or service can offer your clients. Gallo suggests you let them know what they get out of it and why they should care about your pitch.

4. Leave a Picture in the Audiences’ Minds

Words are more than just a means to convince your clients. They can also be used to paint pictures in the audience’s minds. This is important because people buy what they can see, more than hearing the description, more than reading about it, clients and prospects need to visualize the product and the situations where it can help them.

To help you get the most out of this, try to find out what a professional presentation design specialist can do to enhance your PowerPoint Deck.

5. End Dramatically

As with your beginning, you need to make a dramatic ending. It can be a call to action, a challenge for your clients to invest in your proposal, or an important fact they can associate with your brand.

When you make your conclusion, always refer to your main idea and how it is organized. If your presentation is structured with the strategy of highlighting your best selling point, you already have an edge against the competition.

One Last Thing

Leaving a lasting impression can potentially be as powerful as an initial impression. Learning to apply these tips will give you the same edge that Winston Churchill enjoyed.

To help you make your speech work with a matching PowerPoint presentation, take a few minutes to get in touch with us, all for free!

 

References

Audio Archive.” Winston Churchill. Accessed August 18, 2015.
Gallo, Carmine. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.
Sullivan, Luke. Hey, Whipple, Squeeze This: A Guide to Creating Great Ads. 3rd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

 

Featured Image: “NY – Hyde Park: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library – Winston Churchill Portrait” by Wally Gobetz on flickr.com

3 Ways Professional PowerPoint Designs Prioritize Audiences

Great public speaking skills can only get you so far. Whatever your presentation’s purpose, your structure and content should put it to action.

Redefine your slide deck as a visual aid – it’s actually a vehicle for your message to get across and convince your audience. Unfortunately, presenters often make the mistake of relying on the slide deck to cater to needs and fill in for flaws. The true secret is to design your slides with your audience in mind.

But don’t worry. Getting there isn’t as hard as it seems. Here are the three most important foundations for creating professional PowerPoint designs.

1. One Message Per Slide

Scientists like to compare the human mind to a machine or a computer. This doesn’t mean you should treat your audience like a network of robots. Not everyone can retain chunks of new and unconnected information in the span of a pitch.

Avoid needlessly padding out your deck. Unless your purpose is to confuse your audience, then keep your slides clean, with only one main point in each one. This ensures that the crowd won’t be too tired from seeing oversaturated slides while giving them more time to digest your message. The less an audience needs to understand, the more likely they are to understand it.

2. Show, Don’t Tell

This has worked for novelists and filmmakers alike. As visual learners, people are more likely to retain information when presented visually than verbally.

Why resort to words when you can tell a story with a single picture? Whenever you can, replace text with visuals or graphics, including charts, graphs, and diagrams. Here’s a warning, though: don’t overdo it and keep adding photos and graphics for no reason.

Visuals are best used as a tool to support your points and to accomplish your set goals.

3. Keep the Fluff Out

We can’t stress this hard enough: simplicity is key. Take a cue from Professional PowerPoint designers who do this for a living. Having extra information doesn’t add any credibility, and can unnecessarily drag out your deck.

Novice presenters often cram their slides with information so that they can use the deck as speech notes. Your PowerPoint deck is tailored for your audience to better understand what you’re trying to say, not to act as your cue card. Let your core message come through with the absence of extraneous clutter.

Conclusion

Whatever your purpose is, simplify your structure to best inform, engage, and persuade. The most common culprits keeping you from succeeding are the ones we’ve just discussed. Put only one message per slide so that your audience doesn’t get overloaded with information.

Use images wherever possible to represent your ideas or data, as visuals have been proven to be more effective for information retention. Lastly, keep your slides simple to save yourself and your audience time. This lets you remove any distractions from your pitch’s core message.

No matter what happens, consider your audience as the primary benefactors of your deck to better interest and convince them.

 

References

The Visual (spatial) Learning Style.” Learning Styles. Accessed August 13, 2015.
Visual Simplicity Is Captivating in Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 30, 2014. Accessed August 13, 2015.

4 Steps for Audience-Focused Professional Presentations

Have you ever attended a presentation where the speaker wouldn’t stop talking? Ever encountered a professor back in college who kept telling irrelevant stories without considering if it would benefit his students? How did they make you feel? Your audience experiences these situations, too.

As a presenter, your goal is to meet their expectations and satisfy their needs, one of which is getting something that’ll benefit them after discussing your message. To achieve this, you need to ask yourself how you’ll develop an audience-focused performance.

Here are some tips to ensure that your professional presentations are focused on your audience:

1. Know Your Audience

Do you have an idea for your pitch but don’t know where to begin? Think of your audience first. Knowing your audience can help you recognize what ideas or stories to tell. This is where planning comes in. Careful preparation requires thorough knowledge about what to include and what to remove, providing your audience with a more meaningful and relevant presentation.

Establishing a more engaging approach captures their interest better, ensuring they aren’t preoccupied with distractions like their smartphone apps. Be familiar with what they want and need so you can easily prepare your script.

In order to gauge what to discuss, research your audience and look up what they know versus what you have to offer. Don’t use difficult language that they won’t understand. If you want to be memorable and efficient, always address your listeners in terms that they’re familiar with.

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2. Identify Your Objectives

Knowing your audience involves finding your presentation’s purpose. Do you want them to take action? Do you want them to accept your ideas? Do you want them to talk about your message with their colleagues?

This lets you know where you’re heading and helps you organize your thoughts, preventing you from confusing your audience. Keep these questions in mind as you prepare the structure of your presentation to serve as a guiding outline when you finally face the crowd.

3. Familiarize Yourself with Your Audience’s Profile

Knowing what language and tone of voice to use will help you in addressing your listeners. Understanding their background, on the other hand, helps you properly manage your script and develop a more effective message that best suit your audience’s concerns.

While it’s essential not to overdo the jargon, it’s also important to offer something new. Figure out what part of your subject matter your audience already knows so you won’t reiterate points they’re already familiar with.

4. Spot the Benefits

Your audience should be the center, the main reason that you’re pitching. If they stop listening to you, you’ve defeated your presentation’s purpose. Your message should be relevant to engage them and bring them satisfaction.

Remember that people aren’t initially interested in how they can help you. They want to know what you can give them. With this thought in mind, always present audience benefits first to pique their interest and keep their attention.

Conclusion

Understanding how an audience-focused approach benefits you and your audience lets you easily capture their attention, leading you to a more effective and engaging performance.

To help you craft a more effective PowerPoint presentation, let SlideGenius experts assist you!

 

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References

A Presentation Expert’s Guide to Knowing the Audience.” SlideGenius, Inc. April 28, 2015. Accessed August 12, 2015.
Communication Skills: Persuasion, Audience Analysis.” The Total Communicator. Accessed August 12, 2015.

A PowerPoint Presentation is Not a Literary Document

Since its release in 1990, PowerPoint has become one of the most-used presentation tools both in the boardroom and out of it. Its numerous features and user-friendliness have made it popular among on-the-go individuals in need of complementary visuals.

However, it’s for the same reasons that people tend to abuse PowerPoint when making slide presentations. Even higher-ups are guilty of overdesigning and creating a visually appealing but overflowing slide with too much content. Though done with the intention of improving audience learning, it’s among the riskiest behaviors that weaken your credibility.

If you’ve been using this software in your talks, seminars and meetings, steer clear from treating it as a literary document. Avoid this presentation trap by following these expert tips:

Avoid Overcrowding Text

Long passages and dramatic sentences are for books, not for slides. Throwing heavy-text at your audience is only effective at tuning them out from your discussion. Though your point is to convey a complete thought, it can still cause confusion when a bunch of ideas is presented at the same time.

Don’t risk losing your audience’s attention. Limit your content to a few points for a clear and concise presentation. Start by asking yourself: “Do they really need to know this?”

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Use Effective Visuals

In response to being too verbose, using effective visuals is a sure way to prevent your slide presentation from looking like a literary piece. Images, videos, or any moving elements are great substitutes for text.

Since visuals are processed 60,000 times faster compared to text, take advantage of them to make an influential and engaging pitch.

Don’t Read Your Slides

Literary works require thorough appreciation, but reading your slide while you’re presenting is like stating the obvious. This was actually pinpointed as the top habit that annoyed audiences in Dave Paradi’s 2013 PowerPoint survey.

When you read off each word, you lose your connection with your listeners, leaving them with this impression: “This guy spends a lot of time facing the screen.” Rid yourself of this bad presentation habit. At the same time, learn how not to depend on your script.

It’s okay to read bits of information from your deck, as long as you limit it to the absolute minimum to let you glide into a more natural and expressive way of talking.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that literary works such as stories make presentations successful, your PowerPoint slides shouldn’t be crammed with text just to instill a sense of drama to your audience. Got problems creating PowerPoint presentation that sell? Contact SlideGenius and we’ll help you design a deck with a selling edge!

 

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References

How Not to Depend on Your PowerPoint Presentation Scripts.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed August 6, 2015.
Latest Annoying PowerPoint Survey Results.Think Outside The Slide. August 28, 2012. Accessed August 6, 2015.
The Power of Visual Communication.” Billion Dollar Graphics. Accessed August 6, 2015.

3 Facts You Didn’t Know About Professional Presentations

Don’t stress yourself out by overthinking what’ll happen during your next presentation. Soothe yourself by recalling positive experiences instead of pondering over negative and heartbreaking ones. Remember that your audience sees you as a professional speaker. They believe in you and they understand how you feel whenever you stand and speak in front of a crowd.

While some presenters spend too much time preparing great pitches and interactive PowerPoint decks, they barely notice how simple things such as their body language, facial expression, tone of voice, and eye contact matter.

Since these elements contribute to your entire presentation’s success, you need to be more aware of how you can use these effectively. Here are three unexpected truths which most presenters overlook:

1. Treating Your Audience as an Ally Reduces Your Anxiety

Though not all your audience members will like you or be pleased with you, a majority of them want you to succeed. Don’t be afraid of what others will think of you.

The main reason why they decided to attend your presentation is because they’re interested in learning from you, not to judge how you look or how you speak. In fact, according to public speaking coach Laurent Duperval, as long as you can engage them and give your product’s benefits, the audience is on your side.

2. Having the Right Motive Allows You to Win and Be the Best

Competition is common to all individuals, especially in today’s business. However, winning is not about looking down on others or treating them as your enemy. Making fun of those who fail isn’t how you’ll be viewed as the best.

True professionals know how to treat their competition well. Remember that when you present, there are people who might oppose you, yet still want you to perform well and not degrade you, especially when you overcome challenges while presenting.

Since it’s about them, treat your audience as your partners. This will help you connect with them personally and allow yourself to calm down. The best way to do this is to focus on your audience’s desires more than your own.

3. Keeping Up the Momentum Results in a Better Performance

Whether you like it or not, some of your performance won’t be perfect. You can only do your best and move on from any mistakes you may encounter in your presentation.

Even failures help you become better and more effective next time. The best way to do this is to be open about your disappointments and see how you can use this to your advantage for next time.

While it’s true that these little things affect your performance, your goal is to meet your audience’s expectations and satisfy their needs. If ever you fail or make a mistake, they want you to get going and not give up. Don’t think about the negative effects of failure. Instead, consider it as your stepping stone to improve and excel.

Conclusion

Most presenters are more concerned about crafting great pitches and PowerPoint decks, but aren’t paying attention to simple facts that can also benefit their professional presentations. Your audience doesn’t want you to fail. They want you to be the best as you deliver your message that will undoubtedly meet their needs.

To craft a more effective PowerPoint presentation, let SlideGenius experts help you out!

 

References

Body Language: Signify Intent with Movement.” SlideGenius, Inc. October 20, 2014. Accessed August 04, 2015.
The Audience Is On Your Side.” Duperval. Accessed August 04, 2015.

Presentation Guide from Fishing: Angling With AIDA [Infographic]

Have you noticed that certain ads jump out at you while the rest fade away in the depths of obscurity? You can thank AIDA for that.

AIDA is a commonly used acronym in traditional marketing. Ideally, it’s a four-step plan to reeling your audience in using Attention, Interest, and Desire, with the end result being an Action, preferably to invest in your brand. This can get tricky, since customers are becoming more and more wary of straightforward marketing tactics.

But that’s why you need to develop a strategic technique with these steps to covertly convert your audience.

Catching Attention

Content and delivery need to work hand-in-hand in order to produce an overall winning pitch. Most presenters fall into the trap of putting too much faith in either one of these elements, which leads to the downside of their presentation.

Attract people’s attention by polishing your content. Conduct thorough research on audience preference and current market trends. Tapping into these will help you relate more to your listeners, and make them feel like you truly understand their current situation and needs.

At the same time, don’t leave your visuals unattended. 65% of the population are visual learners, so arresting images that highlight your points can definitely leverage your ideas.

Moving to Action

Before you can close a sale, you have to grab attention, keep people interested, make them desire your product, and make them act on that desire. Now you, too, can use this time-tested method to help audiences spot you from a sea of similar brands, and hook your target market right from the start.

Learn more about AIDA with this infographic presentation guide by our expert writers and designers here at SlideGenius:

Public Speaking: How Diction Affects Your Presentation

Everybody’s miscommunicated at least once in their life. Among many reasons, one of the most overlooked is inappropriate word articulation. It’s never on purpose: many times we speak without realizing that we’re mispronouncing words.

Diction can help or hinder your entire pitch. Aside from the lack of practice, planning, preparation, or an overabundance of filler words, diction affects your audience’s overall understanding of your presentation. We often forget how this mistake distorts our message.

According to speech coach Lisa B. Marshall, diction covers two main things: choice of words and enunciation.

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Good Diction vs. Poor Diction

Choosing the right words and pronouncing them correctly gets your message across and makes your voice sound more professional.

Unfortunately, many public speakers struggle with poor diction or mispronunciation. They barely pay attention to the difference between what we hear and what our audience hears, causing them to unintentionally mislead their audience.

These words might confuse your listeners and prevent them from getting the message clearly.

A few examples of these words include:

“I dunno.” instead of “I don’t know.”
“Probly” instead of “Probably”
“Havta” instead of “Have to”
“Shoulda” instead of “Should have”
“Gonna” instead of “Going to”

Causes of Poor Diction

In his article in And Now Presenting, Oliver Holmes points the cause of poor diction to the fact that people become so used to it that they unconsciously let this speech mistake slide.

While we’re focused on what to say and how the message flows, we barely notice how our diction affects our message delivery. Your speech can also be distorted by dialect, regional speech patterns, and speaking too fast.

Ways to Improve Your Diction

  • Record yourself and look for words that you have trouble pronouncing. Read print materials and observe how you articulate words. Practice reading your presentation and identify areas for improvement.
  • Open your mouth wider and read sentences aloud to hear words repeated and pronounced clearly. Record yourself several times, and always compare your latest recording to your last. Practice by asking a friend to listen to you and give you feedback. This helps you see what to improve and what to avoid.
  • Recite tongue twisters to practice enunciating words quickly. Record yourself and spot mumbled words. Repeat this process until you can easily pronounce those problem words.

Conclusion

Knowing the right words to say and how to pronounce them make you sound more professional and increase your confidence as a presenter.

Record your speech to spot words that you unconsciously mumble. You can also ask your friends and family for help in identifying any hard-to-understand parts of your diction, making you more aware of your common mistakes and preventing you from miscommunicating with your audience.

A clearly delivered pitch is a pitch that’ll get definite sales results. Let SlideGenius help you out with your presentation needs!

 

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References

Avoiding Filler Words in Your Corporate Presentations.SlideGenius, Inc. May 11, 2015. Accessed July 30, 2015.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell. “Presentation Tip: Carve Every Word. ‘Professionally Speaking…’ June 13, 2013. Accessed July 30, 2015.
Marshall, Lisa B. “Diction. Quick and Dirty Tips. February 20, 2009. Accessed July 30, 2015.
What You Need to Achieve Presentation Success.SlideGenius, Inc. February 15, 2015. Accessed July 30, 2015.