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Presentation

What do Moby Dick and Bad PowerPoint have in common?

Hey, think about that one time in high school when you were reading Moby Dick for lit class. 

Did your teacher take all the pages of Moby Dick and display them on the wall? Did they then talk about symbolism, the mid-1800’s, and the whaling industry? All while the pages of the book flashed by, page by page?

No, because that would be whackadoodle. It’s no way to learn. 

Your lit teacher probably told you to go home and read Moby Dick. And you’d discuss what you read in class. Something like that, right?

a whale of a presentation

So why do business people do the equivalent of the first whackadoodle technique in so many PowerPoint presentations?

You’ve seen this in action. Someone will create this word-laden PowerPoint — which is not a presentation, but a document — then display it on screen. While they flip through it, they babble on about things that are kinda-sorta related to the words on the wall. As the pages rush by, the speaker uses different words entirely to talk about vaguely-related themes of the actual written content. 

Here’s the text of the first chapter of Moby Dick. Don’t read it. Just imagine if a teacher displayed this while talking about Moby Dick.

text of Moby Dick

So now, the audience is stuck. They can either try to read what’s on the wall, or listen to what the speaker is saying. They can’t do both. And so, they don’t learn or absorb the material well.

Don’t believe me? Look up the science. There’s a concept called inattention deafness you’ll find informative. Basically, it says that when you’re concentrating on one thing, you can miss key details about another thing that’s happening simultaneously. 

If you’ve ever tried to talk to someone who’s reading a social media post, you’ll get a sense of what inattention deafness is. When your husband is reading what their friend posted on Twitter about their cat, this is not an ideal time to him you’re pregnant, won the lottery, and crashed the car. 

Chances are, he’ll eventually look up and say, “Huh? What? Who’s pregnant cat scratched our car?”

Honestly, inattention deafness is a real phenomenon. And it’s why you should never have an overly wordy slide. People can’t read and listen to you at the same time. 

If you’re going to distribute a document, do that. Have people read it on their own time. Don’t present it to them. It’s an egregious waste of time that annoys everyone. 

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Laura Bergells is a professional storyfinder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning

When you need to rehearse an important presentation or prepare for a media interview, why not book a one-hour, online consultation?

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Coaching Education fun public speaking video

What if you have to sneeze in an on-camera interview?

What if you have to sneeze on camera

What do you do when you feel like you have to sneeze during an on-camera interview? Here’s your two step process:

1. Camera off first.

2. Then, hit mute.

Nobody wants to see or hear you as you “ugly sneeze!”

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning

🔥🔥🔥 Laura coaches executives on Camera via Zoom. When you need to rehearse an important presentation or prepare for a media interview, why not book a one-hour, online consultation?

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Coaching Education public speaking storyfinding

How to generate chit-chat in online meetings and classes

how to generate chit chat

Chit-chat is valuable. It’s how we connect with each other. It generates feelings of trust and empathy.

How do you generate chit-chat and off-topic discussions in online classes and meetings? Here are my top 6 ways.

1. Pre-game. I tell students that I show up 15 minutes before class starts. If they’d like to pop in early, they can. Usually, a few students show up. We start talking. Lately, we’ve been talking about dogs. But when others enter, they hear dog talk and join in. (Dogs have nothing to do with my class!)

2. Bio breaks. If you have to go, go! But keep the session open while you’re gone. People who don’t have to “go” can chat. (Some usually do.) When people come back, there’s a conversation in progress that extends beyond the scheduled break as people jump in.

3. Backgrounds, backgrounds, backgrounds! “Hey, what’s in your background? Why is it important to you? What do you wish was in your background?” Some interesting stories and lively back-and-forth have fallen out of simple curiosity.

4. Breakout rooms. Assign an exercise, then put people into rooms together to work. Sometimes, people get the exercise done early and chat. Other times, they come back to the main session and chat. Either way, it’s cool. We all chit-chat when we return to the main session.

5. Tell stories. To create a culture of storytelling, I like to use this simple tactic: start each meeting by asking if anyone has a good story to share. This works both online and off. It also gets people into the habit of talking in terms of story instead of data points.

6. Show and tell. Ask if anyone has a weird thing in their house that they’d like to share with the group. I’ve seen some weird things — and they always come with a little bit of a story. It seems that almost everyone has something weird laying around their home or office.

How else do you make the serendipity of chit-chat happen?

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

Categories
Coaching communication public speaking

Uptalk can be lovely

Uptalk can be lovely

As we move from authoritarian leadership styles to more collaborative leadership styles, you might want to insert a little uptalk into your conversations.

What’s uptalk? It’s when you raise your voice at the end of a sentence. You speak a sentence, but the upward lilt makes it sound like a question. It makes you sound uncertain, tentative, or even dubious.

It’s OK to be uncertain. It’s OK to not speak with absolute authority and conviction at all times. It’s OK to be skeptical.

And it’s totally OK not to know all the answers!

I’m one of the few public speaking coaches I know who thinks a little uptalk is lovely. Aside from signaling uncertainty, uptalk increases vocal variety through pitch changes. Variety can make it more interesting to listen to your voice.

As long as it’s not done to distraction, a little uptalk can make you more approachable and likable. Those qualities can make you a more effective and collaborative leader.

Listen to Jeopardy to understand the value of uptalk.

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

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Coaching communication crisis web meetings

Practice flags, bridges, and hooks

Flags, Bridges, and Hooks

You’ll want to practice your flags, bridges, and hooks. They can help you as you present on camera or go into media interviews.

Flags, bridges, and hooks help make a media interview conversational. They also help you answer tough questions and make a stronger impact.

🚩 Flagging statements signal you’re about to say something important. Think of someone planting a flag: it captures attention.

Flag examples:

🚩 If you remember one thing: remember this…
🚩 This is the key takeaway…
🚩 It all comes down to this….

Flagging Statements

🌉 Bridging statements signal you’re about to transition into another subject. Think of crossing a bridge: you’re going from one area to another.

Bridge examples:

🌉 Let’s turn our attention to…
🌉 Another area of interest is…
🌉 Let’s look at…

Bridging Statements

🦈 Hooking statements inspire your audience to ask follow up questions. Think of dangling tempting bait that lures the interviewer into asking questions you want them to ask.

Hook examples:

🐠 That’s just one easy method to…
🐠 There’s yet another way to get even better results.
🐠 I recommend a totally new approach.

Hooking Statements

Of course, there are other examples of flagging, bridging, and hooking statements. 🦈

Be prepared. Drill your tough questions, and practice your flags, bridges, and hooks before your next media interview or online, on-camera appearance.

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

Categories
Coaching communication public speaking

Try this 1 mindfulness technique to reduce stammering

When smart people start to stammer…

…it’s often because they’re thinking 10 steps ahead!

🤔 They’re thinking about what they’re going to say in 5 minutes.
🤔 They’re thinking about what someone might ask them in 2 minutes.
🤔 They’re even thinking about what they might forget to say!

All that thinking? It’s what smart people do!

But thinking about a zillion things while you’re talking takes being “present” out of your “presentation!”

In a public speaking consultation for a smart person who stammers, I borrow an exercise from the world of theater.

It’s an exercise called “actioning.” It’s both a theater technique + a mindfulness technique rolled into one exercise.

If you’re a smart person who’s developed a stammer, try giving actioning a try. It gives you a focus point, so you can stay present in your presentation.

Actioning gets you out of your head. It usually gets good results. Here’s how it works:

Think of an action verb. An action verb is a word that fits between the words “I” and “you.

Think I “hate” you or I “love” you! Except instead of verbs like “hate” and “love,” think of a verb that’s more appropriate to the tone of what you want your audience to do, think or feel.

Then, instead of focusing on each word that you’re saying, focus on the action verb as you speak. That way, your words will flow out of your mouth a little more easily, because you’re not in your head.

You’re not thinking about every single word that you’re going to say. You’re thinking about the emotional power of those words.

For example, you might pick an action verb like persuade. Or you might think of another action verb as you go on in your speech or presentation.

Do you want to intrigue people? Do you want to mystify people? Let your action verb guide you. Use an action verb as your focal point as you speak.

There’s a whole range of action verbs that you can use to help express what you’re trying to communicate. Try actioning because it can help you get out of your head and focus more on the emotional intent behind the words that you’re saying.

And if you’d like to learn more about actioning, read Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus by Marina Calderone and Maggie Lloyd-Williams.

Amazon Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076DQ3YQZ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

You can draw from a wide range of action verbs that can help you stay focused and present as you speak.

What are some of your favorite action verbs to use as a focal point as you speak?

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

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Coaching Presentation

Public Speaking and Speaking on Camera: Why “Just Act Natural” is Bad Advice

Let me explain what I’m doing right now. I am sitting alone in a room and I am talking to a piece of glass.

And that’s why I think the advice “just act natural” is a bogus piece of public speaking advice. It’s especially egregious for anyone who has to talk in front of a camera.

That flat piece of glass that I’m staring into will suck about 10% of the emotion and energy from my face. So if I don’t bump up my personality by 10 to 20%, I’m going to come across as dead and flat on camera.

And let’s face it, there is nothing natural about this. Our cave people ancestors did not go around talking to flat pieces of glass. And when it comes to public speaking, they didn’t stand up in front of large crowds of strangers, either!

So “just act natural” is “just bogus advice” for when you’re on camera, but also for when you’re speaking on stage or in front of a class or big meeting.

Instead of “acting natural” — try bumping up your emotional energy. That way, your audience can see that emotion in your face as you talk on camera. Or feel your enthusiasm when you present in person.

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

616-284-1688

Categories
Coaching communication

What can you do when you’re presenting and you freeze?

Big Muscle Movement

What can you do when you’re onstage and you freeze?

Try a BIG MUSCLE MOVEMENT.

What to do:

Find a BIG MUSCLE MOVEMENT that works for you.

It should be something you can do easily, that you enjoy doing, and yet looks great or reasonable on stage.

Practice this technique. Do it daily. And make it part of your pre-speech warm up exercise.

If you ever find yourself flailing on stage, you can perform it on the spot.

For me, I like breathing from my diaphragm (that’s a big muscle!) and spreading my arms wide (more big muscles!)

Some people like the butt clench. Your butt may not be huge, but the gluteus maximus are huge muscles!

I’ve seen entertainers spread their arms and twirl when they got lost. (Singers can pull this move off: CEOs probably can’t!)

Why the BIG MUSCLE MOVEMENT technique works:

When you feel afraid or panicky – you lose fine motor skills (small muscles) — but gain large muscle response.

Freeze, fight, or flight. That’s your evolutionary response kicking in. Take advantage of it.

Use your large motor skills to calm yourself down on stage.

What’s your go-to BIG MUSCLE MOVEMENT?

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

616-284-1688

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Presentation web meetings

Zoom Polls: Use the Popcorn Rule

Zoom meeting popcorn rule for polls

How long should you wait before ending your Zoom poll?

🍿“USE THE BURNT POPCORN RULE!”🍿

What’s the Popcorn Rule?

Think about popping corn. After a few minutes of popping, you’ve got a good batch of popcorn to eat.

But you still might be thinking, “But wait. There might be a few unpopped kernels. Maybe I should wait to see if I hear any other pops…”

…but you can’t wait too long. If you do, you’ll burn the kernels that have already popped!

It’s the same deal with an online poll. When you launch one, most of the class or audience will pop off right away. You wait a few seconds, and a few more pop.

At this point, it’s time to end the poll. You can’t wait for absolutely everyone to respond — or the people who popped off right away will learn there’s no advantage to a speedy response.

Ya burned!

In short: there’s no specific limit like “33 seconds!” or “when 75% of the audience has responded!”

You need to keep an eye and ear on how your poll is popping. When the pops start to taper off, end the poll.

And that’s the 🍿POPCORN RULE!🍿

How else do you know when to stop your poll?

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

616-284-1688

Categories
Coaching communication crisis video web meetings

Try the Turkey Tail Technique in your next Zoom Meeting

Turkey Tail Technique for on camera presentations

You need to maintain eye contact with a reporter or interviewer during an on-camera appearance. And yet, you need to cover your main talking points. And stick to an agenda and stay on time.

And you don’t want to have wandering or shifty eyes while you’re talking on-camera! What to do, what to do? How can you look at the camera and still keep focused on your main talking points?

Try using what I call ‘THE TURKEY TAIL TECHNIQUE.”

In the Turkey Tail, you put each agenda item or main talking point on one post it note. Stick the post it notes across your laptop or monitor. Fan the post it notes out like a Turkey Tail!

That way, you can subtly and evenly glance at your agenda items without having wild or wandering eyes. You can maintain good eye contact with the camera, and still keep on top of your agenda and main talking points.

Try the Turkey Tail Technique in your next Zoom interview or Zoom meeting

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Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Call to inquire about availability and rates.

616-284-1688