How long do you plan for Q&A?

By Laura Bergells on

Q&A — questions and answers — is my favorite part of any business or training presentation. I’m curious. I like hearing what’s going on in the heads of the audience. I like learning from the audience every bit as much as learning from the presenter. When I give a presentation or training session, I almost …

OK, so never start a sentence with these 10 words…

By Laura Bergells on

No offense, but I recently had to leave a lecture because the speaker began every other sentence with either “So…” or “Alright, so…” His information may have been spectacular, but after a half hour, I felt too distracted to listen anymore. When your audience starts playing a mental drinking game based on taking a sip …

Who else remembers a world before PowerPoint?

By Laura Bergells on

Who can remember the first presentation they ever gave using PowerPoint? Can you remember with any specificity, or is PowerPoint so ubiquitous that you can’t really remember? For those of use who are over 23 years of age — we are not PowerPoint natives. Some of us can remember a time before PowerPoint existed…and we gave …

Sloth Doing Nothing

Doing Nothing is the New Doing Something

By Laura Bergells on

Recently, I noticed this absurd trend of gallantly and heroically doing nothing. About 19 months ago, I accidentally left my cell phone home and traveled out of town on business. When I arrived at the hotel, I needed to find the conference organizer. I used my laptop to call her via Skype & explained that …

The Titanic

Why do you need a building to get an education?

By Laura Bergells on

A few weeks ago, I went to tour the new Seidman Business School Building on the downtown GVSU campus. Reports say the new building cost around $40 million. Wow. All that money for a business school building! Accounting, economics, finance, management, marketing — fields like that. You know, the kind of topics people all over the …

untimely windows update

Where were you when the tech went out?

By Laura Bergells on

Well, it happened again. The event coordinator gave me a firm 50 minutes to speak — no wiggle room! — and a nifty state-of-the-art presentation system. I love walking into a building with shiny new equipment! Just plunk in a thumb drive, do a simple sound test, and I’m ready to go on with the …

Laura Bergells teaches

How is emotional manipulation a bad thing?

By Laura Bergells on

For a public speaking exercise, I ask students to tell a 2-3 minute story in front of the class. I also hand out a stack of simple evaluation sheets to the class — students anonymously rate the speaker’s storytelling skills, vocal skills, body language, and story value from 1-5. I also leave a brief space …

How I followed the Tampon Guy…

By Laura Bergells on

At the start of a corporate training session, our leader initiated an icebreaker. Nobody in the room knew each other, so the leader asked us to get up and “share something about yourself that no one would know from reading your resume.” Most people I know hate icebreaker games like these. Me? I’m a good …

Kill I think

Which two little words can kill your confidence?

By Laura Bergells on

When I act as an editor for an opinion piece, I frequently strike the phrase “I think.” I remove those two little words because they can actually kill a speaker’s confidence! Let’s take a look at an example, taken from an attempt to persuade a client. Read these two sentences aloud: “I think this commercial …

Overcoming the Gross Out Factor

By Laura Bergells on

“I really hate public speaking,” said a student who stood up in front of class to deliver her first oral report. That’s not the most impressive opening line, but I hear it from a new student at least once per semester. And most of the time, the statement isn’t even true. Often, students who claim …