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Sometimes I have the pleasure of coaching a client who is absolutely paralyzed at the thought of public speaking. Don’t get me wrong, I do not get pleasure from their paralysis; rather, I enjoy helping them work through their roadblocks and witnessing their transformations into more confident speakers.
It is excruciatingly difficult for some to consider stepping into the spotlight. The sweaty palms, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dry mouth, and sheer terror can be debilitating.
What advice do I give them?
First, I don’t give any. I listen.
I ask questions. I enquire about their potential audience, their content, their expertise. I try to understand their concerns, their fears, their past experiences. I ask for clarity on their goals, their aspirations.
I ask them to explain what success looks like. I want to know what being a confident speaker means to them.
Before I can help someone prepare for an upcoming presentation, whether they have a date and...
Perhaps you are preparing to present to your board of directors and found a compelling video to illustrate your point. Or maybe you are readying for a job interview and want to impress your interviewers with a catchy clip that would leave them smiling. Or, you're ramping up an opening keynote for a conference with an anticipated audience of a thousand people and found the sounds of a groovy avant-garde ensemble for energizing the crowd.
You know your stuff. You create a slick slide deck, add the video, and then test it in presenter mode. Bingo. The video plays at the exact moment you expect. You then practice the slide show dozens of times in advance of the big day, nailing the timing and your content precisely during your final runthroughs.
Now, it's game day. You're in the spotlight. You're rockin' the podium. You have your audience fully engaged, nodding heads, leaning forward, inquisitive brows - energized participants anticipating your next move and hanging on to your...
In a previous blog post, I talked about a few planning and design strategies for optimizing the online learning experience. Following that, I received emails and direct messages from people who were either considering implementing an online program or had done so and wanted to refine their process.
Some asked about maximizing engagement and minimizing their audience’s tendency for multi-tasking. Others challenged my best practices (which I love, by the way), suggesting they wouldn’t work with their particular audiences – my reaction is, consistently, “you know your audience better than I do, but let’s hold off on saying it won’t work until after you’ve tried it, okay?”
Fact is, some strategies will work better with certain audiences. There are differences with respect to facilitating an online workshop for a small internal team in comparison with a public webinar. What I mean by that is, let’s say you are talking...
If you are a subject matter expert with an audience, you already know that engaging with the people in front of you is a critical part of the social learning experience. And if you are teaching others, this engagement also serves to increase retention rates for your participants.
While there are bucketloads of methods for inviting participation, your options and choice will often depend on the size of your group, the purpose of your presentation, the audience composition, the time allotted, and your venue, to name a few. For example, if your presentation is in a large theatre or auditorium with an audience of 300 and you have been offered 10 minutes on stage, you wouldn’t necessarily opt for audience engagement that involves moving about the room – theatre-style row seating and the timing do not lend themselves well for that freedom of movement, although it can certainly be done.
But what if bums are firmly planted?
Does that mean you can’t engage the...
Let me guess, almost half of you have made new year’s resolutions: promises to yourself about losing weight, eating healthy, getting more sleep and being more financially responsible.
We humans just love to use the calendar year as a reset button to jog ourselves into new habits. The trouble is, we generally don’t put much effort into how we plan to stick to the promises we make to ourselves and to others. We have good intentions, and even greater desires, but without making the time to formulate a real plan for achieving our goals, they often fall flat. In a hurry.
I was told at a recent cocktail party that there is a 10% dropout rate for resolutions by the second week of January. I’m not sure to which research the person was referencing, but if that trend trickles through the rest of the year, we’ll have all failed well before December!
What I find particularly troubling with this disastrous figure is that many of us make the same resolution year over year....
You know your stuff. Get recognized for it! But, wait. What’s that thud? Oh, your internal dialogue shutting the door on your dreams.
I’ll let you in a little secret. Our internal voices can be jerks.
Those voices may tell you that someone else knows more than you do and could speak about (insert your subject matter here) at a broader or deeper level than you. And, they might be right. But, why let that stop you from sharing what you know? Just because someone else is an authority on something, it doesn’t mean you are not knowledgeable.
But that inner voice whispers repeatedly that you don’t belong at a podium; that, if you find yourself in front of an audience or promoted to a higher level of responsibilty, ‘they’ will soon discover that you don’t know as much as they think you do.
If this sounds familiar, you might be suffering from what psychologists refer to as ‘imposter syndrome.’ Don’t worry,...
I started my formal presentation experience, as many others, in boardrooms, classrooms and group settings, and then later, as technology advanced, in the online space. 15 years ago, I helped launch the Canadian operations of a global human capital management software company into the world of online facilitation.
At that time, we began delivering synchronous interactive webinars and virtual facilitator-led computer classroom sessions. It was pretty cool to watch attendees engage in actual hands-on activities as if in a physical computer lab. The facilitator could basically ‘walk’ around the virtual classroom and literally watch the participants perform a series of tasks on software programs they did not yet have on their own computers, all through the magic of technology. I immediately appreciated how that technology helped people learn using non-traditional methods and in an incredibly powerful and accessible manner.
I trained and mentored facilitators across...
Subject matter experts or SMEs.
If you are one, you likely know others in your field who share your knowledge base. Your contemporaries might be well-known and respected superstars with tenure and a massive fan-base, or they may be junior staff with few connections who are thirsty for mentoring, or, perhaps, they are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. In any case, being a SME, in whatever your industry, can surface feelings of competition with those who play in your sandbox.
Whether we are competing for a cut of the annual allocated wage increase for our department, or vying for the same potential client, our fellow SMEs might induce us to step up our game and polish our natty ways. And that’s healthy. We should always try to be our best selves, right?
I appreciate that not everyone feels this way.
During a recent networking event, I suggested that I’d like to connect a SME with another in their area of expertise – I’ll call...
Last week, a subject matter expert in the marketing and social media industry asked for my advice on presentation software for a course they are developing. They were hesitant about using Microsoft’s PowerPoint application and were looking for alternatives, having heard about the phenomenon commonly known as Death by PowerPoint.
To be sure, there are alternatives.
And concerns about this horrible affliction are valid. Many of us have fallen victim to the condition.
There are countless articles and online commentary, books, even comedic videos and cartoon depictions for the ghastly ennui that plagues so many seminars.
Presentation decks with text-heavy slides and the ineffective use of display settings, animations, and transitions, paired with a facilitator who then feels obliged to read each slide, word for word, can elicit participant boredom and downright disengagement.
But PowerPoint doesn’t have to be a ‘death’ sentence.
In fact, I love it....
Research has proven time and again that incorporating imagery is beneficial for learning. Because of that, and the ease with which we can access a vast array of creative work, presentations often show up on screen with pictures and graphics.
So, we agree? Presenting with visuals is good?
Good. End of blog.
Wait, what’s this now? You freely use whatever images you find online? They’re in the public domain and no one will ever know if you use them, you say, so what’s the big deal?
Lawyers, photographers, graphic designers, and other subject matter experts inform that you may be delving into the world of copyright infringement. And that’s kind of a big deal.
Let’s be honest. You cannot simply search Google for images and haphazardly copy them into your presentation slide deck. Well, technically, you can, but you shouldn’t. It’s illegal.
Whaaa…aaa…aat?! Copyright infringement is against the law?
Open Google, and search...
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