Categories
fun Presentation public speaking

AWE: Acronyms Without Explanation!

HE: That presentation was filled with A-W-E.
Acronyms Without Explanation!
ME: So, it was an AWEful presentation?
HE: Yep. Totally AWEful. I had no idea what was going on!

Hey, it’s a good idea to avoid industry jargon and acronyms.

But if you’ve got to use ‘em, at least explain ‘em.

Don’t be so AWEful! 

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 an online consultation?

Categories
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?

Categories
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
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
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.

Categories
Coaching Presentation public speaking

Why might speakers cross their legs on stage?

standing with legs crossed while presenting

A woman stands on stage. She’s got her head down as she reads from her index cards. She’s tugging at her scarf and hair with her left hand. Her voice trembles and shakes. Then, she crosses her legs as she stands.

If you talk to many body language experts, they’ll tell you that crossing your legs while standing is a sign that you’re comfortable. But in this case, it’s not. The woman is nervous.

But why do we see anxious speakers cross their legs on stage? Isn’t leg-crossing supposed to be a sign that they’re comfortable with their audiences?

Consider the context. When you see a lot of other behaviors that signal fear – head down, trembling voice, and self-soothing gestures like playing with scarves and hair – the cross-legged stance can be considered yet another form of pacifying behavior.

It’s also a pose. Crossed legs are meant to signal comfort to the audience.

However, standing while crossing your legs isn’t an ideal posture when you’re delivering a talk. It can prevent you from getting the full breath support you need. It can contribute to your trembling voice.

Worse – standing cross legged while you’re nervous makes it look like you’ve got to pee!

If you find yourself standing cross-legged on stage, uncross. Widen your stance. Look up at your audience. Smile and take a breath.

You’ve got this.

Categories
Coaching communication Presentation public speaking

Weird is where the growth happens

A client was rehearsing her presentation. She stood on stage with her arms crossed in front of her. I stopped her.

“Try standing with your palms out,” I told her.

She did, then stopped.

“That feels weird,” she said.

“Good,” I said. “Try it again.”

She did.

“Still feels weird,” she said.

“Again.”

“Still weird.”

“Again.”

Weird is natural when you’re learning a new approach. When you’re training new muscles, it’s bound to feel uncomfortable.

It’s weird.

It’s why we drill and rehearse. Until it feels natural, it’s going to feel weird.

It might be comfortable to do what you’ve done before, but weird is where the growth happens.


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, her courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy classes à la carte.

Categories
communication design PowerPoint Presentation video

6 Tips on Using Color in Slide Design.

using color in slide design

Color choices on your slides are important. People react to color on both a physical and emotional level.

Often, we see color on PowerPoint slides that don’t seem to have a purpose. Or worse, the color undermines the emotional intent of the message. Sometimes, setting constraints or following basic rules on colors can help you make better color choices.

Here are 6 quick tips that cover the basics of using color in slide design.

1. Use bright colors to attract + stimulate. Don’t use color merely for decoration. Use it for a purpose like drawing attention or setting a mood.

2. Use muted colors for reflection + contemplation. You don’t want to be in “attraction + stimulation” mode all the time. Think about the emotional content of color and how it can enhance learning outcomes.

3. Be careful about using too much color on one slide. It can be confusing. Remember the design concepts of contrast and sameness: without balance, you can create clutter and chaos.

4. Beware of bevels, gradients, and red text. They can be hard to see.

5. Check contrasts for accessibility. For those who are color blind or have photosensitivity, some colors may be difficult or impossible to see. Check contrasts at https://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/

6. Consider a limited, coordinated color palette. Pick one that meets your needs here: https://color.adobe.com/

What’s your fave quick tip for using color in slide design?


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
PowerPoint Presentation Presentation public speaking video

Closed Captioning with Google Slides provides CC for live presentations

In an attempt to make live presentations more accessible, I first used Closed Captioning in Google Slides for a presentation I gave around a year ago. Closed Captioning in Google Slides is easy to use and does a terrific job.

All you need is Google Slides, Google Chrome, a live internet connection, and a microphone. That’s it. In the above video, I show you how to activate it. The video is under a minute. It’s that easy.

But does it work? Yes. And it works really well.

I was in a room with about 100 people. The internet connection was steady but slow — and yet, Google translated what I said in real time with about 97% accuracy for a 45 minute presentation.

In the video above, you’ll see that I get 100% accuracy. This was a one-take video that I filmed on my laptop, at home, with a laptop mike. Nothing fancy.

But now I have a confession: even though I’ve established that Google Slides Closed Captioning for live presentations is a great tool: I still don’t use Closed Captioning for 100% of my presentations.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Old habits dying hard?

I felt bad about this, and vowed to do better in the future. I mean, WHY NOT make live presentations more accessible? Why not use it for EVERY live presentation?

And then, I was surprised that I got some pushback for wanting to make my live presentations more accessible.

“Not every presentation needs closed captioning, Laura,” came the naysayer. “Why not ask your audience whether they want it or not? After all, not everyone needs or wants Closed Captioning. It might be distracting.”

To those naysayers, I say this:

Remember when I said “old habits die hard?” I think that’s the case here. For the past year, I didn’t used closed captioning because it wasn’t my HABIT to do so. For years, I’ve been presenting live without closed captioning.

But if I use Closed Captioning every time I present, it will become a habit.

And to those who say, “…but not everyone needs it, so why not ask your audience if they want it or not?” — I have this to say:

  1. These are early days in providing closed captioning. If you’re against it, it might simply because you’re not exposed to it. Once you become familiar with it, you might find you appreciate the visual support.
  2. The last thing I want to do is make someone in my audience uncomfortable. To single them out. To make them admit, to a roomful of people that they need Closed Captioning.
  3. Your day is coming. Someday, you might need to rely on Closed Captioning or other Assistive Technologies. When we design an inclusive experience, we’re improving the design for YOU.

In the future, I’ll do a better job of using Closed Captioning for my live presentations. I’ll get into the habit of using Google Slides with Closed Captioning for my presentations. If we have the technology, why not use it?

And if you use PowerPoint, it’s easy enough to run your show through Google Slides to give your audience a more inclusive experience. What else can we do to make our live presentations more accessible to our audiences?




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
Presentation public speaking video

Walk and Talk meetings for data and research briefs

Do you do “walk & talk” meetings at your organization?

One of my favorite times for a “walk & talk” is when I’m presenting research findings. If it all possible — due to the weather and other constraints — I want to get my clients out of the office and into nature.

My reasoning? Clients tend to want to dive into spreadsheets and data dashboards — while I want to keep the discussion on key findings.

My solution? Get them out of the office and into the woods!

While walking, I’ll present key findings and a summary. We can talk through any issues that come up.

And if clients want to dive into the data, they know it’s in the report. They can review it when we’re back in the office.

If you don’t want clients to get lost in the data — lost in the woods — why not try a walk and talk meeting?

Serve as a guide. Lead your audience out of the woods so they can see the whole forest!

When’s the last time you tried a “walk and talk” meeting? How did it work out?


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.