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 …

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 …

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 …

Freak out

What’s the exact opposite of what you’re saying?

By Laura Bergells on

When you edit a business presentation that offers a numbered list or step-by-step instructions, here’s a fun way to make your content more satisfying. In your head, ask yourself, “what might the exact opposite of that action be?” “Communicate with employees” might become “Leave employees in the dark.” “Follow the company policy manual” can be …

Betty Boop Distracting Voice

What no one will tell you: your voice is distracting

By Laura Bergells on

I heard a young woman speak on the topic of feminism. Her content was valuable, thoughtful, and well-organized. However, her voice caught me off completely off guard. She spoke in a high, squeaky, Betty Boop voice. Photo credit: infomatique  Initially, I assumed the speaker was adopting a cartoonish voice to illustrate something about her subject …

Kennedy Nixon First Televised debate

For your next video conference: think Nixon…

By Laura Bergells on

Watch the first televised presidential debate on YouTube. Kennedy and Nixon go head-to-head in 1960. Today, this debate is often discussed as an example of how much your personal appearance matters when it comes to an important televised presentation. Kennedy took great care to look good on camera. He wore a neatly pressed dark suit. …

What’s next in online education?

By Laura Bergells on

Earlier this year, I wrote and performed Public Speaking Fundamentals for the Lynda.com Online Training Library. I wrote the scripts from April through June, and then flew out to California to shoot the series in July. The course went live on August 31. Go check it out — beyond my course, Lynda.com provides a massive library of …

Thank You Slide

How do you feel about the “thank you” slide?

By Laura Bergells on

At the end of a presentation, you can say, “thank you.” Sure, it’s not the strongest close in the world. However, it’s certainly acceptable to say “thank you” if you’re feeling especially grateful or moved. But a slide that reads “Thank You” at the end of your presentation? That’s weak. A “Thank You” slide takes …