Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2 ways to improve your presentations

Just read this great article from Zig Ziglars website on 2 tips to improve your public speaking skills. Enjoy!

Power Presentations

Or Public Speaking and other Coronary Threats!

By Bryan Flanagan

When making a presentation you can use several keys to make yourself effective.  One of those is how you use your voice.  Does your voice “shake” or do you sound breathy when you are nervous? You can learn how to sound confident and in control by utilizing two vital skills: Voice and Padding.    
You can use the VIP method for improving your voice.  The VIP stands for Volume, Inflection, and use of the Pause.  You want to make your voice engaging and interesting to your listener’s ear by using all three of these keys.  
Volume is not just raising the volume — it is also lowering the volume.  Mark Twain wrote that if you want someone to listen to you, you should whisper. By whispering, you get the listener leaning forward either mentally or physically.  You should look for opportunities within your presentation to raise your volume and to drop your volume for impact.  
Using Inflection allows you to “punch-up” words or phrases for emphasis.  You can change the entire meaning of a sentence by changing the words on which you inflect.  Take the sentence: I did not say he stole her money.  Let’s change the meaning by changing the emphasis on the last five words.   
1.  I did not SAY he stole her money.  (I implied it.  I didn’t verbalize it.)
2. I did not say HE stole her money. (I am accusing someone else.)
3. I did not say he STOLE her money.  (He hid it from her.  It’s a joke)
4. I did not say he stole HER money.  (It was my money that was stolen.)
5. I did not say he stole her MONEY.  (It was the credit cards.)  
Practice emphasizing different words for impact and to add meaning to your presentations.  
Why don’t we like to Pause when we are speaking?  Some don’t like it because it may indicate that we’ve dropped our train of thought or we are not prepared.  However, silence can be our friend.  It can add emphasis.  It allows the audience to catch up with us.  It can slow us down.  We can use the pause as transition from point to point.  Don’t be afraid of the pause.  Prepare to use the pause at strategic places in your presentation.  
Padding includes any words, phrases, or sounds that distract and detract from our presentation.  What are some examples you’ve already heard today?  Perhaps you were distracted when a co-worker said “uh” or “you know” during a recent conversation.  If you were distracted, you have experienced padding! We will discuss how you can eliminate the “Padding” distraction.  
Padding is a problem that most people use in one form or another.  If you want to hear examples of padding, listen to the interview of any professional athlete. However, we’ve all had our “uh’s” counted and we’ve counted the “uh’s” of others.  Oftentimes, padding is the sound of thought.  It is what we use as our search vehicle when searching for the next word or thought.  We should use the pause to search and not a padding word or sound.  President Ronald Reagan used the word “well” when he was stalling at press conferences.  President Reagan could get by with it…we can’t.  We have to be better than the President!  
When I joined my first Toastmasters Club, they counted the speakers’ padding words.  You paid a quarter for each “uh” you were caught saying.  My first year in Toastmasters, I financed two club picnics! However, I ridded myself of saying “uh.”  How do you accomplish that?  First, you must become aware you have the problem.  You can listen to your voice mail message that you leave.  Oftentimes, you will erase the message and start again after you hear the number of “uh’s” you use!  Record your side of phone conversations and listen to them.  That is a great way to receive feedback!  
In order to improve in the areas of Voice and Padding, we must practice.  The video camera is still the very best method to use in practicing.  If it is not available, a recorder will greatly assist you in improving your awareness of the verbal key to successful presentations.  
Good luck and good presenting!  

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