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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.

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communication crisis Education fun Presentation public speaking web meetings

Zoom Meetings: Prevent BATS IN THE CAVE with 2 simple tips

I’ve been in quite a few Zoom web meetings lately, and I’ve seen a lot of BATS IN THE CAVE, if you know what I mean.

If you don’t know what I mean by BATS IN THE CAVE — it’s when someone is using the camera on their laptop and I can look straight up their nose during the meeting.

Really, BATS IN THE CAVE is not a good look on anyone!

If you use a laptop for web meetings, I’ll give you two tips to help you get rid of that BATS IN THE CAVE look.

1. Get a stack of books. Raise your laptop up so your eyes are level with the camera.

2. Get a sticky note. Attach it to your monitor with an arrow or a smiley face, reminding you to look up and SMILE.

It’s the simple things. You can MacGyver this and still look like a polished professional.

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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.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or Lynda.com member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

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Blogging Coaching communication content ideas design Education PowerPoint PowerPoint Presentation Presentation public speaking social media Twitter video

How to transform presentation content into video social media posts

Here’s a question about presentations and videos I started to get a lot last month. I’ll paraphrase it:

Hey Laura. How do you do those square, short, silent little videos that you share on LinkedIn and Twitter?

The answer is: really easily! I use a tool called Canva. Update: And here’s a direct link so you can use Canva to create presentations and slides.

As a stand & deliver trainer, I have oodles of presentation content. Canva lets me repurpose bits and pieces of this content for easy social media sharing.

Yes, Canva excels at quick online video creation. I’m finding a lot of people use Canva — but we tend not to think of using it for video. We tend to think of it for images.

I’m also thinking a lot of people have PowerPoint presentations. Why not try using Canva to repurpose your presentation content for social media posts?

Canva lets you do this in a way that’s super easy to accomplish. I show you how in this two minute video. Enjoy!


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

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or Lynda.com member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

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Coaching communication content ideas Education PowerPoint PowerPoint Presentation Presentation public speaking video

Introduce emotional relevance to your presentations

Brain Rules by John Medina

“We don’t pay attention to boring things.”

John Medina, Brain Rules

Sounds basic, right?

But how do you NOT be boring when you’re speaking or presenting?

Medina tells us to be sure to introduce something emotionally relevant every 10 minutes.

At least every 10 minutes!

If we don’t, we risk losing the attention and interest of our audiences….because….

“We don’t pay attention to boring things.”

What can you do to shake things up for your audience?

Click on the video to discover 5 things you can do…in under 51 seconds!


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

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or Lynda.com member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

Categories
content ideas Education

Flip W. Edwards Deming on his head…

Without opinion, you're just another person with data.

A popular quote by W. Edwards Deming reads:

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

But what if you flipped this saying?

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

Leaders need to share informed opinions and insights.

Any dashboard can spew data.

It takes soft intelligence, leadership, and communication skills to win hearts and minds.

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HE: The data speaks for itself.
SHE: It really doesn’t. It’s why we have analysts. And data scientists. And leaders who interpret the data…

Because data on its own doesn’t say much.

We need to put the data into the context of story.

What story does the data inspire us to tell?

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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. Why not schedule a complementary 30 minute consult so that you can ROCK your next online presentation?

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Blogging Education

What if food prep becomes the top tech skill we can’t live without? Sound crazy? Bear with me…

What if we started learning food prep and cooking in elementary school? And I’m not thinking about food prep as an elective course or two. No, my vision is much bolder:

Learning to cook needs to be mandatory. Food prep needs to be integrated into every class you take in school. You must demonstrate ongoing cooking competence to pass classes and graduate.

Think about it. What might change if food preparation was used as the foundation for every STEM course you take in school? How might it change society and the economy?

For example, imagine if the only STEM education we received in school was food preparation. As you learn to cook, you more deeply learn every STEM subject.

Science. Nutrition, health, chemistry, experimental design, and anatomy. 

Technology. Knives, ovens, stoves, sous vide machines, freezers, and refrigerators. 

Engineering. Spacial relations, temperature, land use, processing, and packaging. 

Math. Calculating and charting: temperature and time and portions and servings. 

Gee whiz. A student can learn almost every topic by learning through food and cooking. It’s a solid STEM education, and then some.

Food is social and cultural. It’s finance and budgeting. It’s art and history and drama and presentation and…

…well, food is actually integrated into everything. It is literally fundamental for human survival. It’s the basis for a wide range of metaphors.

So why isn’t cooking used as a foundation for teaching every STEM subject we learn in school? How is it that you can graduate high school without demonstrating you know how to prepare, serve, and fund a month’s worth of nutritional, well-balanced meals? 

Honestly? I suspect one reason food prep isn’t considered worthy for a complete STEM curriculum is because cooking is traditionally viewed as “women’s work” and thus “not science-y or math-y or tech-y or manly enough”.

Maybe someone is thinking, “No, wait, how dare you? I need my STEM to be wrapped up in more important concepts than lowly food prep. My boy has an interest in computers and wants to work in the auto industry, so STEM means computer labs and an auto shop. He can pick up nutritional knowledge in the streets or at home.”

But why can’t a boy take what he learned about food prep and apply it to whatever field he wishes to pursue? Isn’t taking knowledge from one field and applying it to another a key creative and critical thinking skill?

Critical thinking. Creative thinking. You need both of these skills to write decent code.

And before you code one single line? You need to learn to think. And you need to eat. 

Computer programmer, car mechanic, art historian, athlete, teacher, writer — whatever. Every field involves food and nutrition. Because everybody’s gotta eat. It’s timeless.

While students pursue their career fields, they need the wherewithal to keep themselves healthy and financially solvent. Instead of touching a computer screen all day, they can learn to navigate the real world with the tactile sensation of handling food. 

Fingers sliding over glass is not the interface of the future. You need to know how objects interact with each other in a physical world. (That way, you’ll also know to look up from your phone so you don’t get hit by a car. And feel less lonely.)

“But…but…technology. It means computers…coding…”

What if we kill that concept? What if the tech skills you learn in school today aren’t the tech skills you need in the future? (Hint: they won’t be.)

We’ve been picking up our nutrition in the streets. It hasn’t been working out so well. So let’s flip it around.

Learn to cook in school.

Learn to code in the streets.

Teach people to cook, and you’re teaching them to think. You’re giving them a useful skill and a shared language. You’re giving them metaphors along with nutrition. You’re also exposing students to a broad range of educational and cultural topics.

Who’s with me? Let’s all get fired up about learning to cook!

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Laura Bergells writes, coaches, and teaches. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.  You can also find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.

Signup for LinkedIn Learning

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Coaching communication crisis Education video

Don’t let cold hands stop you from writing: try Voice Typing

Sometimes, voice typing can come in handy for really unexpected reasons!

It’s October 1, and it’s freezing. My poor fingers are now cramped from typing in a cold room all morning.

Google Voice Typing to the rescue! I’ll open up Google Docs, activate voice typing, and talk through a first draft. 

Google Voice Typing within Google Docs comes to the rescue of cold, cramped hands!

I can always go back in and edit this first draft with my fingers later. But for right now, I’ve got deadlines to meet. I can’t let cold hands stop me from writing!

There are three other great reasons to use voice typing instead of finger typing for a first draft:

  1. You talk faster than you type. With voice typing, you can increase your total word count.
  2. You shut off your internal editor. When you talk, you resist the temptation to edit yourself as you’re talking.
  3. You reduce distractions. You’re not goofing around on social media or opening up another tab on your browser. You’re talking.

I find myself using voice typing a lot now. I get 97% accuracy with no special equipment. I just use the mic that comes with my $320 laptop.

No big whoop. In the olden days, you needed a special microphone and pricey software. Now, you can probably just use equipment you have on hand.

Voice recognition is getting better all the time. It makes sense.

Think about how many of those Google Home devices have been in use over the past year. Or how many times people use their Android devices to say “OK, Google” — then use their voices to issue a command.

Google is drawing on an enormous amount of data to be able to understand a wide variety of voices. I expect Google’s accuracy will only get better over time.

Cortana and Alexa and Siri? If they work for you, great. But they don’t work for me.

In my experience, Cortana, Alexa, and Siri are far slower and less accurate than Google. And this makes sense: these services aren’t drawing from the vast amount of voice data that Google continues to collect.

If you haven’t checked out voice typing in a while, give it another try. You may find that it works better than you ever expected!

(And as the weather gets colder, I’ll probably use voice typing even more.)

Are you a voice typing fan? Why or why not?

https://twitter.com/maniactive/status/1046785593219457024

Laura Bergells is a writer and instructor. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.  You can also find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.

Laura Bergells writes, coaches, and teaches. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.  You can also find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.

Signup for LinkedIn Learning

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Coaching communication Education fun Presentation public speaking video

Lose your fear and learn to present on-camera

Three years ago, I organized an online web conference. At the request of an organization, I interviewed three of their Subject Matter Experts to get background information for a presentation.

The following photo is a re-creation of what I saw in this online meeting:

Uh-huh. That’s right.

For almost the entire interview, I stared at a close up of one man’s ear. After a few minutes, I told him he might want to adjust his camera.

“Oh, sorry,” he said. I then got an extreme close up of what appeared to be his hairline. 

“Is that your neck?”

“Probably.”

“I think I preferred your ear.”

“Oh. OK.”

For the next hour, we all looked at his ear. 

My interview subject never saw his audience. He never looked at the camera. We could see his ear twitch a bit as he talked, but that was about it.

Let me be clear. The expert with the wiggly ear?

He’s brilliant in his field. He had wonderful information to share. And he’s also a delightful person.

He simply didn’t know anything about presenting on camera. It was his first time, and he was too intimidated to tell anybody he didn’t know what he was doing.

He thought he could fake it. And in a way, he was right. 

We were a friendly group. We didn’t judge our colleague too harshly.

We were in a time crunch, so we smiled and went on with the meeting. And after all, we all knew the guy was a genius.

But I also know he’s doing much better now. Post-meeting, he took some good-natured ribbing and sought help.

He learned more about delivering online presentations. And of course, he continues to gain valuable experience.

There are plenty of tips available to help you improve your own online video performance. Here are six of my favorites: they’re all available through LinkedIn Learning:

1. Successful video conferencing tips

2. Developing your on-camera presence

3. Setting up your home or office filming environment

4. Wardrobe and makeup tips

5. Lighting tips

6. Tips for on-camera body language and posture

This sort of specific information and advice can help get you going in the right direction with regard to your next on-camera presentation. Think you don’t need help? That it’s no big deal? 

Your audience was raised on TV or online. We have expectations for how people look and perform on a screen. You may be warm and wonderful in person – but how do you come across on camera?

We were all kind to “ear guy” — but you don’t always have the luxury of being in front of an audience who loves and accepts you no matter what crazy thing you do. You’ll want to learn and practice some of the basics before you present to employers, clients, key stakeholders, and the public. 

You probably don’t think of yourself as a film star. But if you’re asked to present on camera, guess what? 

You’re a video star now, my friend. It may be a low budget production from your home office, but who knows? One low budget presentation could have enormous business stakes…or at least lead to previously unheard of opportunities. (It happened to me.)

Prepare yourself. We’re all video stars now.

If it hasn’t happened to you already… it’s going to happen soon. We’ll all be presenting more on camera in the future.

See you online!


Laura Bergells is a writer, teacher, and a LinkedIn Learning course author. Check out Establishing Credibility as a SpeakerCrisis Communication and Public Speaking.

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Coaching Education fun Presentation public speaking

What are you doing with your face + body during a team presentation?

Being a part of a team or ensemble can be fun and uplifting. And for the audience, a great team is a joy to watch.

Ask any sports fan. They’ll tell you this is true.

In contrast, let me describe the on-screen action I saw in a recent online group presentation. Maybe this will sound familiar to you:

Two guys fiddled on their phones while one colleague talked. Then guy #2 started talking.

Guy #1 and #3 started playing with their phones. When guy #3 talked, a woman seated at the conference table rolled away and faced the door.

Let’s pretend the content of this meeting was strong and the information was outstanding. What did the non-verbals say?

distracted

Hot. Mess. 

You guessed it. This was not a great team showing.

Each person focused solely on their own personal performance while speaking. They barely acknowledged the others in the room.

My guess? They didn’t know what team role to play while they weren’t speaking.

That’s not a team presentation. That’s a series of individual performances.

If you’re not talking, you’re still presenting. You need to be active and engaged in a team presentation.

What role should you play in a team presentation when you’re not talking? It depends.

Huddle with your the team before the show. In general, there are two non-speaking roles:

1) cheerleader or 2) observer.

cheer leader

What do I mean by cheerleader? What role do cheerleaders play?

By cheerleader, I mean when one of your team members is talking, you look at them. You focus on the speaker and give them your energy.

You smile and nod when it’s appropriate. You make it clear to the audience that you think the presenter is a genius.

You give your team member your undivided attention and full support. That’s what I mean by cheerleader.

You’re not waving pompoms. You are sending positive energy to your team member so they deliver a better presentation.

You’re also sending a great non-verbal message to the audience. Your body language puts the audience at ease.

When you pay attention to the speaker, so does the audience. When they see you smile and nod, they’re more likely to mimic your behavior.

But cheerleader isn’t the only position you can play. You can also be an observer.

observer watchdog
Watch, Dog.

What’s an observer? What role do observers play?

The observer looks at the audience and picks up on their non-verbal cues. Hey, did somebody look confused when your speaker said something?

Or if it’s an online presentation, did someone write in with a question or comment? The observer watches quietly, and sometimes takes notes.

The observer can feed the speaker with questions after he or she finishes speaking. Observers often positively rephrase any parts that may have caused confusion.

For example,

“That was great, Laura. I especially liked that part where you said ‘just because you’re not speaking doesn’t mean you’re not presenting.’ To me, that means I’m not going to check my phone or otherwise check out mentally while you’re talking. I’m on your team, so I’m going to give you my attention. Good advice!”

See what the observer did? The observer was active and engaged. The observer supported and reinforced the speaker’s message.

If one of your team members or co-presenters is talking, give that person your support. You may be a cheerleader or an observer, but decide ahead of time what role you’re going to play when you’re not talking.

Then, act your part. When you’re giving a team presentation, be mindful of what you’re doing when you are not speaking.

team presentation

Go team!


Laura Bergells is a writer, teacher, and a LinkedIn Learning course author. Check out her courses on Crisis Communication and Public Speaking.

Laura has decades of experience as a business communication coach. She has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and leads workshops on effective communication. You can find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.