Finding Hell in the Audience Poll

By Laura Bergells on

“Hell is other people” is a phrase from one of my favorite plays, Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. A classic existential line, I like to think that it means that other people make you self-conscious. Self-examination can be brutal. Hellish. When it comes to our own transgressions, we don’t like to acknowledge them privately. And we …

Which audience are you really addressing?

By Laura Bergells on

“The real leader serves truth, not people.”  -J.B. Yeats You have many audiences, all at once. You have the audience that is in front of you as you speak. You have the audience of people that will hear about your message from the first audience. You may even have media coverage of your message, which …

How to stop a boorish Q&A Hog in 3 easy steps

By Laura Bergells on

I recently attended a terrific, high-powered panel presentation that unfortunately became hijacked by what I’ll call “a Q&A hog.” You’ve probably witnessed a Q&A hog in action at a conference or presentation. Q&A Hog, defined: an annoying creature that rambles incoherently during the Question and Answer period of a presentation. The hog typically takes up …

Your final words: how NOT to close a presentation

By Laura Bergells on

I asked folks on Twitter: “What’s the worst way to end a presentation?” My own personal pet peeve is ending with “Are there any questions?”  Q & A is such a weak & wimpy close. Regrettably, I hear it far too often. However, within 12 minutes of my Twitter query, I received even more brilliant …

My Guiltiest Twitter Pleasure: Favstar.fm

By Laura Bergells on

OK, I’ll admit it. Very few days go by where I don’t check into favstar.fm. Why? Because I like a good grin. And I like to find humor in offbeat and unusual places. Favstar is like an underground Twitter subculture of frustrated writers and wanna-be comics. A Twitter companion site, you can simply go to …

Steal This Press Conference!

By Laura Bergells on

Actually, the title of this post should be: “If you don’t like the news, why not go out and make your own?” The above question is a quote from “Steal This Book“, a social instruction guide written by Abbie Hoffman in the 1970’s. Hoffman was a master at getting free publicity for his causes in …

How can you help the socially tone-deaf?

By Laura Bergells on

I’m not a sports fan. There! I’ve said it! However, I know that appreciating sports is a big part of international culture. To this extent, I am mildly conversant in the language of sports. While I don’t enter into sports-related conversations with any depth or passion, I can listen. I can value the enthusiasm of …

Top 3 Ways Presenters Can Make Sex Boring

By Laura Bergells on

Let’s imagine that you’re asked to give a presentation about sex. Really! Your audience of adult coworkers are eagerly anticipating the fascinating insights you’re going to share with them in your one-hour presentation. I’m seriously asking you to imagine this. Go ahead. Giggle, blush, scoff —  but ask yourself: How might you prepare? What might …

Professorial PowerPoint Humor

By Laura Bergells on

I’ve only been teaching at the college level for a few terms. One of the chief complaints I hear from students about PowerPoint lectures (from other instructors!) is the unbearable boredom when a professor uses the pre-packaged presentations included with the course textbook. These CDs contain mostly bullet-point outlines of the entire book. Yes, you …