Friday, October 31, 2008

Planning A Group Meeting

Writen by Andrew E. Schwartz

CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE FACILITATOR: As chairperson, focus on the meeting's goals and objectives throughout the meeting. Most everything you say should serve that purpose. A written agenda and visual aids serve as reference points and help to reinforce your purpose. You will make your greatest contribution by asking questions. Questions help to stimulate thinking, navigate the direction of the discussion, and sidetrack irrelevant issues. Specific questions might be: "Where would that idea lead — What are the consequences?" and "Is this line of discussion consistent with our objectives?"

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN PLANNING MEETINGS--VISUAL AIDS: Visual aids, such as flipcharts and transparencies help you establish a context for the meeting and have a longer lasting effect that just oral presentation. When you rely solely on oral communication, it is estimated that 80 percent of a message is often misinterpreted or forgotten entirely soon after its conclusion.

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN PLANNING A MEETING--SEATING: Seating arrangements affect the tone and participation in meetings. The chairperson should be in a central position to facilitate governance of the meeting most effectively. In small meetings the manager should sit at the head of the table, and in meetings with 12 or more participants, in the center on the side. Seating around a rectangular or round table, or semi-circle arrangement, where all participants can have eye contact is generally best. For problem-solving and idea generating meetings, this seating arrangement promotes a team-like atmosphere.

IMPORTANT FACTORS IN PLANNING A MEETING--ENVIRONMENT: The physical environment of a meeting weighs heavy on its outcome. Plan ahead to make this impact positive. For example, try to locate the meeting in a well-ventilated room, where distractions and interruptions are minimal and lighting and room temperature are comfortable. Use a wide table and place it in a central location so participants won't be cramped or tense.

Copyright AE Schwartz & Associates All rights reserved. For additional presentation materials and resources: ReadySetPresent and for a Free listing as a Trainer, Consultant, Speaker, Vendor/Organization: TrainingConsortium

CEO, A.E. Schwartz & Associates, Boston, MA., a comprehensive organization which offers over 40 skills based management training programs. Mr. Schwartz conducts over 150 programs annually for clients in industry, research, technology, government, Fortune 100/500 companies, and nonprofit organizations worldwide. He is often found at conferences as a key note presenter and/or facilitator. His style is fast-paced, participatory, practical, and humorous. He has authored over 65 books and products, and taught/lectured at over a dozen colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Presentations Not Me

Writen by Andy Britnell

There are some great reasons and some compelling benefits to doing presentations, but people often raise all sorts of objections. What barriers are there to going ahead?

1. The most obvious is the common fear of public speaking. We all fear standing up and making a fool of ourselves, but at some point most of us decide to confront this and go ahead anyway.

2. Allied to this may be a lack of confidence – again this can only be overcome by actually doing it.

3. You may fear you are not knowledgeable enough. Bear in mind that you are the expert and will usually know much more than the audience.

4. It means a lot of work to prepare the material, practise the delivery, organise the venue and equipment, and try to ensure everyone turns up. But it gets easier each time and the benefits in terms of exposure for you and your team will probably far outweigh the effort made.

5. You may simply feel you do not have capability to do all this. There is only one way to find out!

None of these problems is insurmountable if you are determined. Preparation is key. In fact, in the phrase referred to as the '6 P's' and much loved by trainers everywhere – 'Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance'!

As for anything in life, the better the preparation, the more confident you will feel and the better the chance of success. If you are prepared, you will be able to keep control even if the unexpected happens.

Andy Britnell specialises in sales and customer service training for the private and public sectors. Go to and you can sign up for my FREE short monthly newsletter and FREE e-mail coaching.

I coach corporate and SME clients who wish to fulfil more of their potential by thinking and behaving more effectively - see

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The End Is The Beginning

Writen by Stephen D. Boyd

People remember best what you say last. In a presentation, what people take with them to put into action or to connect with what they already know depends to a large degree on how you end the presentations. So in one sense, the end of your presentation is the beginning for the audience. Speakers often reach their momentum in the middle of the presentation and lose contact with the audience by the end. One of the ways a speaker can ensure beginnings for an audience is by having a strong ending; this article will provide a few simple tips to achieve this concluding spark.

First, focus on the general purpose of your presentation. Are you moving the audience to action? Are you helping your audience to understand? Are you attempting to change the viewpoint of your audience on a particular issue? Or are you simply entertaining? The purpose will determine how you end the presentation. Some speakers lose sight of this, their endings do not fit their purposes, and the audiences leave without knowing where to begin.

If your purpose is to move the audience to action, then your conclusion should in some way answer the question, "What do I want my audience to do as a result of my presentation?" What action do you want people to take? The conclusion should state the specific action to be taken. A presentation on donating blood individually as a part of the company goal for community service would need to end with the time and location for giving blood. An even more effective ending would be to obtain some kind of commitment. Ask for a show of hands: "Raise your hand if you are going to give blood when the Bloodmobile is here next Monday." If your purpose is simply to entertain, then the conclusion should be light and send the audience away with the good feelings that laughter and humor provide.

A second method for enhancing your conclusion is to summarize…PLUS! Certainly you want the audience to take with them the major theme or main points of the message, but in addition you should give them a phrase or quotation to connect with the summary. This is the exit line. An exit line is a short saying, profound idea, or clever line that compels the audience to think about the main theme of the speech. The exit line will increase the likelihood of the audience's remembering what you want them to do as they begin after the presentation.

When I stress the value of preparation, I often end with the remark by former Senator Bill Bradley, "When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing…and when you meet him, he will win." In talking about the power of developing language skills, I like the quotation by Mark Twain: "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." To punctuate the summary with a thought-provoking idea usually helps audience members to know clearly where to begin as they leave your presentation.

A third way to enhance the ending is to understand the mechanics of the conclusion. It should be short. Don't start concluding when you still have ten minutes of material left. Don't say, "In conclusion…" unless you really mean to finish. You will lose the audience if you keep talking long after you announce you are finishing.

Speak the conclusion without reading it. Look at your audience as you end; know exactly what you want to say and avoid fumbling with your notes, which distracts people from your words. The ending should raise the emotional level of your interaction wit the audience; rapport, eye contact, and feeling between speaker and audience are enhanced when the speaker does not hesitate and stumble looking at notes. Look pleasant and try not to hide behind a lectern as you end. Conclusions are great opportunities to move away form the lectern and toward the audience.

Another important tip is to avoid introducing new material in the conclusion. The "add-ons" and "By the ways…" should not be added once you are winding up your presentation. In the conclusion, you should do these three things: summarize the main points, include a statement that reiterates your general purpose, and develop an exit line. If you add to these areas, you are using material that should probably be included earlier in the presentation.

Finally, don't take the ending too seriously. Speakers sometimes look for that fantastic audience response-sustained applause, laughter, or even a standing ovation—only to be disappointed about the whole speech if the response doesn't happen. On one occasion Winston Churchill was stopped by a woman who said to him, "Doesn't it thrill you, Mr. Churchill, to know that every time you make a speech the hall is packed to overflowing?"

"It is quite flattering," Sir Winston replied. "But whenever I feel this way I always remember that if, instead of making a political speech, I was being hanged, the crowd would be twice as big."

Concentrate on your endings and you can't help but give the audience new beginnings in the process.

About The Author

Stephen D. Boyd, Ph.D., CSP, is a professor of speech communication at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. He works with organizations that want to speak and listen more effectively to increase personal and professional performance. He can be reached at 800-727-6520 or visit for free articles and resources to improve your communication skills.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We Dont Do Presentations

Writen by Simon Raybould

... we just have meetings.


I've come across that comment a few times in the last year or so and I've never challenged it at the time: there are too many people around who recognise that they need help to spend time worrying about those who think they don't. And yet at the back of my mind I'm aware of a slightly guilty feeling.

After all, just because these people don't think they - or their staff - are making presentations doesn't mean they don't need help at it. In fact there's an argument to suggest that precisely because of this belief they're more likely than most to need help!

Because I'm that sad kind of person, I lay awake at night mulling this idea over. Perhaps they were right and there really are no presentations of any kind in their place of work. Perhaps no-one ever had to provide information to anyone else face-to-face in an even semi-structured way. Perhaps they never met each other on the corridor and asked each other how things were going and updated each other on the progress of this-or-that-project. Perhaps they did everything in a completely organic (indeed anarchic!) way. Perhaps their sales and PR staff never have to meet the public or potential clients.


But I didn't think so.

I've never seen and organisation like this and I don't expect I ever will. So why do people tell me they don't do presentations (often with a bit of a sneer, trying to tell me that they thought I was a bit of a fool for suggesting it)? I guess it boils down to definitions.

My definition of a presentation is - as you'll have guessed - pretty catholic. It's about the process, not the place. It can take place formally, when everyone is sitting down and facing the speaker as he or she fights with nerves and notes, or it can be done informally, perhaps as people pass on corridors, at water coolers or (as I've seen more times than people will believe) going into or out of the office toilets! In such times, people aren't worried about the process of presenting itself (they've got more important things on their minds), such as getting a coffee, a cold water, or washing their hands) and so all they have to do is "get on with" passing on the information.

I can remember a book I read a long time ago. The (anti-) hero is being asked by another character to teach her to fight. He declines but is eventually hounded into agreeing to a challenge: he agrees to throw an orange and if the woman asking for training successfully catches it, he must train her. If she fails, she goes away and never bothers him again. The stakes are high.

He throws and she catches. Annoyed, the hero asks her what she's just done: she's exhaulted and talks breathlessly about winning the right to be trained, to stay, to become a master like him; she talks about beating the odds and about defying his expectations.

He shakes his head and points out that at that moment, when he threw, none of those things were happening. At that moment, all she did was catch the orange.

Presentations are kind of like that. Just catch the orange. The stakes aren't important.

And that's how these people can present at the water cooler but not in the boardroom. When the stakes are higher they forget that all they've got to do is catch the orange and they start to get hooked up on the idea of what they might win.

And what they have to lose.

Let's not get carried away, by the way: there's a skill to catching oranges which people need to be taught and they need to practice: it's not as easy as all that.

If it was, I'd be out of a job, but there are three steps to making better business presentations, I'd suggest.

1 - recognise that you make them. I've never met anyone who made none.

2 - recognise that you just need to catch the orange; the consequences will take care of themselves

3 - get some training on how to catch oranges if it's important to you or if you ever drop them

We all make presentations, we all catch (or drop!) oranges..... just a thought....


Dr Simon Raybould is the author of a book on voice (The Little Big Voice) and an ebook on business presentations. His company - Curved Vision - does really good presentation skills training in the UK .....

..... with fantastic results!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Escape Powerpoint Hell 5 Tips For Better Presentations

Writen by Fard Johnmar

Everyone knows the signs. The glazed expression, the droning sentences, the bored audience. These are all indications that someone is stuck in PowerPoint purgatory. Avoid this fate by consciously developing slides that are an asset rather than a detriment. Following are five tips that you can apply immediately to help you get out from behind your slides and engage your audience.

1. Use Titles Effectively: The titles of your slides can help your audience understand and follow your presentation. In general, slide titles should be concise and informative. Use short phrases with simple words. Avoid excessive jargon.

2. Use Fewer Words: Limit the words on your slides. Avoid long sentences because this encourages you to read the slide verbatim. Instead, craft short phrases that clearly communicate your key concepts.

3. Use Simple Diagrams: They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Develop simple diagrams that outline the key points of your presentation. You will have to explain what the diagram means, which will force you to engage with your audience.

4. Highlight Important Concepts: Bold key words and phrases in your presentation. This will help you remember to discuss important concepts when presenting your slides.

5. Cut Your Slides: As with all forms of communication, shorter is best. When revising, don't be afraid to cut unnecessary slides. Use this rule of thumb to find the ideal length for your presentation: During the first revision, cut at least 25% of your slides; the second, delete 10%; the third, eliminate 5%.

Developing a concise, reader-friendly and effective presentation will help you avoid PowerPoint hell and impress your clients, colleagues and prospects.

(c) 2005 Fard Johnmar

Fard Johnmar is founder of Envision Solutions, L.L.C., a full-service healthcare marketing communications consulting firm. Envision Solutions provides innovative products and services to not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. Envision Solutions' goal is to make our clients more efficient and successful. For more information about Envision Solutions please visit our Web site.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Presentation Skills Be More Productive Using A Facilitator Mode

Writen by Neen James

There are many definitions for presentations. When you present there are also many different modes you can focus on. Are you a facilitator or an educator? The mode of facilitator is often misused in the corporate world and interchanged with words like trainer and educator. Facilitation is an exceptional skill, once you learn this skill you can boost your productivity and it can make you a better presenter.

A true facilitator is all about creating an environment where people feel safe and able to share their ideas freely. I believe the facilitator's role is to act as a conduit. The first process a facilitator will undertake is to create operating agreements with their audience. It is the facilitator's role to remove any blockages and conflicts within the group. They allow the thought processes of the group to be processed and expressed. They are responsible for establishing an environment that does that.

If this is a mode you are interested in developing yourself, the main proficiencies for this mode include:

Removing personal agenda - a facilitator's role is to set the agenda with the group, not be running their own personal agenda. It is more powerful to seek to fill the agenda of the team and you will be more engaging to your audience.

Creating trust - this can be established in many ways for a presenter. It can occur before the presentation with communications circulated to the attendees, it can be built into the introduction for the facilitator and it can also be established when the agenda is set.

Respecting diversity - valuing each person's input and recognising the variety of expertise and experience within the audience is the sign of a great facilitator.

Having active listening skills - one of the most important skill for any facilitator is the need to be able to listen and process what the audience is saying ... and quickly. Listening intently will assist this.

A good facilitator may take several hours or days to create an environment where all the work may finally come together in the last hour. Don't be fooled ... some may think a facilitator comes into a presentation or meeting unprepared but that is not the case. An exceptional facilitator spends time preparing by taking a comprehensive brief from the client, researching the group/audience they will be working with and determining the questions that need to be asked to facilitate the best environment.

A quick note: Many organisations choose to bring in external facilitators to work with teams to achieve objectives. An external facilitator is neutral, doesn't participate in office politics and is not influenced by the management hierarchy. If you team is grid locked or not co-operating, an external facilitator can be a great solution for you.

In a true facilitation style you may not even have the first question for your audience! Every discussion is a question i.e. does this feel right for you? Every facilitator should have an arsenal of great questions in their tool kit. Those questions include:

How is that working for you?
How do you feel about that?
I'm having trouble understanding that?
Does anyone want to add anything to that?
What's that a part of?
If you knew the answer to that, what would it be?
In your experience, is that correct?
Does that ring true for you?
What do you need to get more out of this?
So what else is coming up?
If you had more time, what would the answer be?
If you knew the answer, what would it look like?
What is the biggest problem with the world?
What is the biggest issue with the world?

Facilitators are able to hold the space in tension to understand. They don't try to fill the silence. They are able to capture conversations, check people's understanding and expose all opinions. Learning questioning techniques will increase your mastery of this mode.

Here is a Facilitation checklist for you to help build your skills in this mode ask yourself the following questions:

Do you have an arsenal of questions?
Are you an active listener?
Can you "hold the space" in the tension?
Can you continually ask questions rather than try and find solutions to the discussions?

When you master this facilitation mode you will become a more powerful and engaging presenter. This skill can assist you when you have a tough audience, when you need to change the environment and when you are helping a client find a solution.

Neen is a Global Productivity Expert: by looking at how they spend their time and energy – and where they focus their attention – Neen helps people to rocket-charge their productivity and performance. A dynamic speaker, author and corporate trainer, Neen demonstrates how boosting your productivity can help you achieve amazing things. With her unique voice, sense of fun and uncommon common-sense, Neen delivers a powerful lesson in productivity. Find out more at

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hurricanes And Business Presentations

Writen by Lance Winslow

If you're planning a business presentation or any sales interview with a large company during the hurricane season you may find yourself being postponed and you may want to cancel and reschedule the appointment for the business presentation until everything is back to normal.

This is because the decision-makers and the Board of Directors of the Corporation in which you are giving your sales presentation or business presentation pitch to, will have on their minds many other things that affect their supply chain, sales teams and business outlets, which may have been destroyed during the hurricane or even injury of workers. With all this all their minds the chances of you pulling off a really good presentation and making the sale are much lessened.

During the 2005 Atlantic tropical hurricane season many professionals and sales teams found themselves in a region, which was not interested in anything they had to say unless in fact they were part of the relief and rescue efforts. It is best to reschedule business presentations whether they are about sales or future negotiations until later date after a major catastrophic mother nature event. This is proper business etiquette and the most professional thing to do as well. So, I hope you will consider all this in 2006.

Lance Winslow

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seven Reasons To Exhibit At A Trade Show This Year

Writen by Graham Green

To go to a trade show, or not to go? If you've never gone to a trade show before, it can seem a little overwhelming. You'll have to arrange a booth, get handouts together, figure out a way to attract people, organise salespeople and decide on which products or services to feature, create a presentation that will generate interest…the work seems never-ending. But a trade show is worth every minute of the extra effort. If you've been considering whether or not to exhibit at a trade show this year, here are seven reasons why you should go for it.

Get a feel for your competition. At most trade shows, you'll be competing for customer attention with lots of other businesses in your industry. This can be off-putting for some—but it's actually a key benefit of trade shows. At a trade show, you'll get a chance to scope out the competition, meet the people you're sharing your market with, and see what they're doing right—and how you can improve upon it. A trade show is the easiest and most convenient way possible to get an idea of who is competing for your customers.

Get to know your customers. At a trade show, you'll meet interested people face-to-face. Pay attention to who comes to your booth. Mostly women or men? Mostly a certain age? Mostly a certain profession? There may be a demographic with an interest in your product or service that you never realized was there. Ask questions of the people who come to visit your booth, too. Ask them what they look for in a product or service like yours. Develop a marketing survey and offer a free gift for completion. You never know what your customers can teach you—so don't hesitate to learn from them.

Make a one-on-one impression. It's a fact that one in ten people you call will buy from you—but one in three people you meet face-to-face will. Making a one-on-one impression on your customers is crucial to drumming up new business. You'll give them a friendly face to match with the company name. If you've got good people skills—or your salespeople do—your company won't represent just a name and a logo to them, but a new friend.

Get a high return on your investment. Studies show that almost half of the leads generated at trade shows don't need a sales call to close a deal. Trade shows give you a great return on your investment, because many of the people you meet at one will buy. Put a little thought into your display and come up with a gimmick to attract people to your booth—free giveaways, demonstrations, food, etc.—and you'll probably generate more hot leads than you usually do in a month's worth of sales calls.

Meet a pre-selected audience. The people you meet at a trade-show come because they are interested in your business. They're interested enough to take a day off work, sacrifice a weekend, or travel hours out of their way to see what's new in the industry. You couldn't ask for a finer pre-selected audience. With so many people clamouring to learn more about what you sell, there's a high chance you'll make a fine return on your investment at a trade show.

Have the customers come to you. A lot goes into preparing for a trade show—but it's actually a great way to save money. Usually, you might attract new business by making time-consuming cold calls, putting together an expensive direct mailing, or advertising on TV or the radio. At a trade show, the customers come to you—sometimes in droves. You'll get in front of lots of people at relatively minor expense, compared to your ordinary advertising and marketing costs. It's a cost-efficient way of getting in front of the most people—at the least expense.

Generate lots of qualified leads. At a trade show, you'll meet a lot of people ready and willing to buy. Usually, you'd generate qualified leads by cold-calling, networking, and working hard to generate interest. At a trade show, those leads will seek you out. Have applications prepared for people to order, and have information available and ready for those who ask for it. If your trade show goes well, you'll generate more qualified leads in a day than you ordinarily would in months.

There's no question that a trade show is worth the time and effort it takes to put together a good booth and presentation. If you're just getting started, going to a trade show could take your business to the next level. You'll get to meet lots of people who are interested in your business. And you'll get to check out the competition at the same time. What's to lose? If you've never taken your business to a trade show before, consider this year as the time to make it happen.

G. Green is business owner of the pop up stands and exhibition supply company For more info on trade shows, booths and a wide range of pop up display stands visit

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Be Bold Branded And Bespoke Your Customers Want You To Choose

Writen by Doug Emerson

I had been working on a logo idea for several weeks before I finally realized that it would take from several months to never before I came up with something that would work for me. Scanning the Internet for sites that resembled Logos 'R Us, I found one that had a portfolio that I liked. I contracted for 10 logo ideas figuring that there would be at least one that would suit me.

Presto, just like the site said, I had ten ideas in my e-mail box four days later. Gathering input from others, the field was narrowed to one by me. I needed an expert opinion to reassure me, however. I had veteran advertising executive Bill Wheeler take a look at all ten with no other instructions than which one do you like?

To my relief, he liked the same one I did. Unlike me, as an experienced professional he had no problem rattling off the reasons why it would be a good choice.

Choice is what this article is about. Sometimes our customers and clients are looking for a variety of choices; Baskin Robbins offers 31 flavors for a reason. Other times our customers are looking for an answer, a recommendation, a professional opinion. Bill told me a story about how his former business partner, also very experienced with logos and tag lines, would present his logo ideas to clients. His partner would spend hours on ideas for logos and tag lines and over time, with the aid of years of experience, would come up with the best logo and tag line concept to present to his client.

After presenting the logo and tag line, a client once asked him, " That certainly is a great design, but what other ideas did you come up with?" The partner paused then responded, " I have put a great deal of work into this design. This is the best. Would you like me to get ideas numbered two through five out of the wastebasket to show you?"

The English have specialty tailors they define as bespoke tailors. Bespoke means "made to order". You get a suit cut just for you. Bill's business partner was a bespoke logo and tag line designer. Offering too many choices is like putting your customer in a candy store, Bill said. Everything looks good to me in a candy store, too.

In your business, are you offering 31 flavors for products and services that should be bespoke?

The next time you want to close the sale, try starting your closing statement with: "In my professional opinion . . ."

Customers love conviction and courage.

Doug Emerson trains consults and coaches business owners on how to make more profit in less time using 8 key strategies. He writes a free electronic newsletter about the business of life called Getting to the Point. Free subscription available at the homepage.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Its All In The Pitch

Writen by Laurelle Johnson

This is true no matter who you are or what you have invented. How you pitch your need for money will largely determine if you get funding.

Women use the "emotional" pitch. Men do not. Women appeal to the "feel good" needs of women; men go for the utilitarian use of their products. Women do not paint pictures that men can "see". Men do. Passion not withstanding, a good pitch appeals to the logical in an illogical situation.

On two recent episodes of American Inventor women were turned down left and right. Only two got passed to the next round after using the "verbal abuse" method.

One invented an item to make wig wearing more comfortable for women going through cancer and chemotherapy. She begged the men to give "women back their lives". An ex-school teacher invented disposable sheets for nursing homes and treated the men as errant schoolboys. Each used the "I'll-shame-you-into-it" approach. Not good.

Point in fact – MEN hear differently than women. They listen for facts, figures and Return on Investment. Especially when an invention is women-oriented and pitched by a woman.

At a recent "pitching" contest, a woman presented her web site idea (for women to become more efficient in clothes shopping) to a group of 12 men. It was BRILLIANT! All the women in the audience got it - immediately! NONE OF THE JUDGES GOT IT!

Women INVENT products for women. They understand the emotional appeal very well. Women have invented products and succeeded in gaining funding because they amended their "pitches" to be heard by men. Some of those are: Fat Burger, Pampered Chef, Donna Karen, and Martha Stewart. These women were funded because they were able to amend their "pitches" to be heard by men.

If you are a female in need of venture capital here are my suggestions for a successful pitch:

1) Show how big your marketplace is in terms of volume: i.e. the big picture
2) Current dollar amounts spent on products of similar nature.
3) Not-just-for-women applications of your product or service
4) Appeal to the need to be a HERO or the need for GLORY in men
5) Stay away from an emotional appeal – there is "no crying in baseball".


Do your research to understand the motivators in each of the venture capitalists in your audience. What are they looking for besides a high and quick rate of return? Glory? Fame?

Appeal to the numbers guy with numbers. Appeal to the notoriety guy with notoriety potential, create a hero to appeal to the heroes, include first-to-market cache for those who want to go down in history as the next innovator or mentor the greatest mousetrap ever invented.

Men will buy emotionally through the set of their own acceptable range of emotions that include the path to glory and riches.


Laurelle Johnson, Innerwealth Communications, provides Presentation and Coaching to craft and perfect your pitch that will get you the funding. Her past successes include the pitch and close of contracts from $15million to $75million.

Contact Laurelle at:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creating Powerful Powerpoint R

Writen by Gary Lewis

After working with hundreds of executives on every rung of the corporate ladder, I've been a witness to some of the best and worst presentations ever created with Microsoft PowerPoint. The program is so evolved these days that there are tools, effects, transitions and settings available that will either help or hinder your effectiveness as a presenter. Everyone wants to have a powerful presentation, and there are some very simple ways to accomplish this.

First of all, keep in mind that the audience is not assembled to watch a slide show. There is nothing more sleep -inducing than a dimly lit room and dull, content-cluttered slides after a hot lunch. Take it from a frequent napper in Art History 101!

With great tools it is all too easy to forget that the message you are delivering is coming from Y-O-U. You know the material inside and out! See yourself as the focus of the show, and use support tools like Microsoft PowerPoint to reinforce the key elements of your presentation -- to be your backup singer while you stand front and center.

Now doesn't that make you feel a little special? It should! For whatever reason it may be, you have been asked to speak as an expert; to weigh in with your opinion; to share your discoveries; this is your time in the spotlight so let the software and laser pens support your performance and not overpower it.

Keep It Simple, Superstar:
A good place to start is by looking at the amount and complexity of the material you need to present. An easy way to keep your presentation from becoming an uncontrollable monster is to remember the six-by-six guideline. Six bullets to a slide, six words per bullet. This is a simply brilliant way to avoid the dreaded "Presentation Karaoke" syndrome -- a speech where either the presenter reads directly from the slide or the audience reads along with the presenter -- or both! Six-by-six works so well, it is taught as a presentation model in many communications seminars throughout corporate America. Can you go five-by-five or seven-by-seven? Of course you can. Any individual slide may need adjustments as you go along but by keeping the six-by-six guideline in mind you're guaranteed to keep the fat trimmed from your presentation.

Let's add sub-bullets to the mix. I try to avoid subs, but sometimes that is impossible. When subs are involved, I keep them the same size or just slightly smaller as the regular first-line bullet text, and let the indentation tell viewers the next line is a sub. The default templates often reduce subs into the unreadable zone.

If you find yourself going to a second or (yikes!) third sub-bullet, you need to re-work your material. Perhaps by changing the headline to a shortened version of your first full bullet, or losing the first actual "bullet" to create a sub-head. I find that presenters often create a headline and hold it through an entire section. A full page "chapter" slide at the beginning of a new portion of material will allow you to then change each subsequent slide headline and make it more custom to the material in the bullets below. In a fluid presentation your audience won't forget your subject.

"But, but, but... If you have the space, why not use it?" The answer is simple. Your slides are there to drive home or re-state important points, to help with keywords a note-taking audience member should jot down, and to preface or summarize your presentation or "chapters" within. There's nothing worse than having so much on a slide that you either cannot get through the material, or the audience cannot read everything because the font is too small.

In an average presentation, a speaker will hit two to three slides a minute. That alone will guide you into choosing your words carefully to cover everything you put on the screen. If you don't plan on speaking about something, or assume you will skip through certain segments, remove that material from your slides. Bullet points remaining untouched will leave your audience asking mental questions instead of listening to you!

Charting a Course to Success:
Here is a pet peeve of mine I see far too often. A chart with so much information on it that nobody in the audience would be able to take it all in during the short time it is onscreen. Not to name names, but financial analysts and engineers with timelines tend to be the biggest offenders when it comes to charts! Granted, there is value to showing a trend-line over a period of time -- any stockbroker will tell you that. Obfuscation typically occurs when too many ticks are labeled. This can leave a junkyard of 10 point, aliased text that does nothing but look horrible.

The fixes are easy. If your trend is over twenty years, just give us five year labels. We realize the spaces between are non-labeled years. If you have a particular peak or valley, call it out in the chart area rather than on the axis. Put a star at the peak or use a different colored line for emphasis. If your budget goes from zero to $1,000, just give us $0, $500, and $1k. Label your bars with "Show Value" instead. Trust me when I say anyone with particular questions about a chart will seek you out after the program, bring it up in Q&A, or e-mail you about it later.

If you're the type to put a chart into your presentation then say onstage, "I know you can't read this, but..." Do something about it before hitting the podium. By admitting to the audience that your chart is useless, you're also saying you don't value their time. Dropping off some data and increasing the size of the remaining font should do the trick, and it doesn't take much work. For particularly complex charts and graphs, create two versions! With a simple on screen version and a complex, fully labeled handout version you have the best of both worlds.

Another suggestion for charts and graphs is to remain flat. The 3-D options can look good in bar charts and pies, but in my opinion nothing beats a clean, flat 2-D chart with high-contrast labels.

Fontastic Results:
Fonts are a tricky beast. A creative font style you might find clever or "cutting edge" while polishing your presentation on the plane is likely to come off as silly when it hits the screen. Creative fonts are also hard to read when used as body or even smaller headline text. An exception to using standard, clean typefaces like Arial, Palatino, or Trebuchet would be for large title slides or for Meeting Theme Logos (MTLs) which sit onscreen as your audience comes in to, and leaves the room. Other than those two situations, it's safer to stick with simplicity.

How about using Times or New York for a typeface? Fonts with a serif (the little hooks and slants on the ends of the letters) are fine to use in larger sizes -- let's say 32 points and higher. The problem with using smaller serif fonts is that the thinner points in the ascenders and descenders (the lowercase j or top of the f for example) can basically disappear on-screen depending on the chosen face. Obviously, losing your type is not a best case scenario. Any font (or graphic device like an arrow shaft or the outline of a shape) which is thinner than 2 points, is very likely to disappear when projected, or to vibrate when shown on a standard NTSC video monitor. LCDs, LEDs and VGAs all do a better job compared to traditional video but it never hurts to fatten up those borders and edges a little.

A second case for sticking with basic fonts has to do with the "font load." Every PC comes with certain universal fonts. As time passes, most PC users add fonts they find around the Web, or fonts are added automatically from programs they install.

Unless you will be presenting from your own PC, be very wary of using any fonts outside that standard font load. Microsoft PowerPoint automatically replaces any fonts, which do not exist on the "show" PC with something simple. Your material won't disappear, but it may not look the same as it did when you created your slides.

There are many times a font switch can go unnoticed – going from Helvetica to Arial is practically an even swap to the untrained eye. Other times, it can wreak havoc with your word wrapping; throwing previously "safe" text off the bottom of the screen in older versions of PPT, or making it size down in the newer versions. It's always a good idea to punch through your slides before presenting on the "show" computer.

This is a good place to talk about size. I mentioned earlier why creating slides nobody can read is a presentation disaster. With fonts, bigger is better. There is undoubtedly a fine line between large, and "horsey," or too large. One old trick to check for readability is to pull up your presentation in the Slide Show mode, then lean back from your monitor and squint. This simple exercise will show you what your projected image will look like to someone in the back row of your audience. Screen sizes on location are chosen based on the size of the room so this works whether you're presenting in a boardroom, or a ballroom. The dynamics of screen distance to screen area are relative from a 32" video monitor to a 9' by 12' screen.

In general, I find headlines between 34 and 40 points, and body text of 28 to 34 points usually show quite well. For title slides, I head to the 60-point range for names and 40 to 50 points for title, division and company.

Table Times:
Call me a neat-freak, but I'm a big fan of tables. Whenever you have information which needs to line up in columns -- use a table! Spacing out your columns within a text box might get it "close enough" but is that really "good enough?" Dropping a table onto your slide will ensure your decimal points line up, and using right justify on a left side column and left justify on a right side column will make comparisons or "versus" lists a cinch to read.

Using tables will also help you avoid the formatting mess I mentioned earlier when dealing with missing fonts. Your sizing and style may change, but to borrow from Led Zeppelin... The table remains the same.

Background Check:
There are many presenters who use customized backgrounds and templates these days from royalty-free websites around the world. While I whole-heartedly support this idea, it should be said that a colorful photographic background might not be your best friend without some minor tweaking.

Make sure your presentation text has high-contrast when using a custom background, template, or even a basic background color. If you have a dark color like corporate blue, maroon or purple, go with a light font like white or mustard yellow. A light background would call for darker lettering. A background color in the middle range (with a luminosity comparable to "middle gray" for you photographers out there) can often set off either a light or dark font. Contrast is the key!

If you have your heart set on a busy photographic background, try creating a large semi-transparent text area in the center by using the drawing and fill tools. This is called "screening back" in the world of print, and it will allow a "taste" of the pattern or photo to come through without muddling your words. If you have access to a paint program like Adobe PhotoShop, you can create some stunning backgrounds using blurs, overlays and tints with the simplest of tools and filters. I like to have a clear image for the MTL, then a blurred, screened or otherwise affected complimentary image for the text slides.

Fear of Flying:
I saved this subject for last because I think it's where most people go awfully wrong! Think about all the television programs, commercials, movies and sporting events you watch. Now try to recall the last time you saw a clock wipe, mosaic blocks, or barn doors to transition from one scene to another -- or to bring text on and offscreen. If you're like me, it has been a while! In the same way a person who is new to videography tends to lie on the zoom in / zoom out button, people who want to add "pizzazz" to their presentation tend to heap on the wacky transitions!

For the record, here's an opinion of mine. If you have ever used 'Random Transition" within a presentation you should have your mouse and keyboard crushed into unusable shards of plastic. Just. Say. No. The last train to Effortville just left and you were not on it.

A simple dissolve, or even a Wipe Right / Wipe Left is a communications convention we are all so familiar with that it happens without bringing attention unto itself. Why would you add a transition that shocks the audience out of "show mode" where they were concentrating on your material, and into "what the heck was that" mode? It's the equivalent of hearing a cell phone ring at the theater -- it takes you out of the story and back to reality; and that's certainly no way to drive home your point at the end of a slide!

Similarly, animating text should be done with much forethought. PowerPoint is slick enough at this stage that you can produce some very clever, professional text effects. I personally like an occasional fly from any given side to create a little "wow" when called for, but my old standard will always be the Wipe Right. With a television production background, that's how we always read on bullet points from the character generators on location or in the studios. It is still probably the most-used convention for bringing text onto a program. Take a look at tonight's television news and see which transitions they use repeatedly.

The bottom line with motion is that it should always enhance your material; not detract from your presentation.

That's a Wrap:
Each presentation by every presenter will be different. We create guidelines like these knowing they have latitude to be ignored when the need arises. Understanding why powerful presentations work, and why others fail is like peeking behind the curtain at a magic show. In the end, the goal is to create a shared experience between presenter and audience. Microsoft PowerPoint can do wonders in the right hands. But just as a chef must learn his kitchen tools, successful presenters must learn the tips and tricks of using today's presentation tools.

And never forget... You are the star of the show.

I hope this column helps you to stay on-point, next time you PowerPoint.

Gary Lewis is a graphic designer with over twenty years of experience in television production, post production and presentation design.

For creative, Royalty-Free backgrounds and stock photos (and plenty of free samples!) visit Pro Background Art today!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

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Friday, October 10, 2008

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Seven Tips For Coping With Prestage Jitters

Writen by Stephen Rafe

Whether you need to address large groups or small, familiar faces or new, you may feel that the stress of speaking is always with you. If so, these seven tips will help you work through tension and communicate with confidence.

1. Recognize that stress is natural: It helps you sort out which situations are "dangerous" and which are not. The problem occurs when presenters allow their minds to dwell on the stress rather than on the situation. They become short of breath, the brain doesn't get enough oxygen, and tension sets in. Most presenters manage to remain below the panic level -- avoiding the fight/flight syndrome -- and most survive each experience. However, there's more to life than mere survival.

2. Focus on the message. Think to yourself: "I'm here to share information" -- whether to inform, persuade, clarify, or serve some other purpose. "The participants are attending to hear what I can share with them." "They want me to do well because that's to their benefit, too."

3. Check your room before anyone arrives. Look at the seating arrangement and visualize people in the chairs. Move around the room: Become comfortable in your surroundings. Walk to the lectern, stand there. Move away to break the barrier -- as you should do periodically when presenting. All living creatures need to adjust to a new environment.

4. Practice operating your visual equipment. Dexterity improves with experience and reduces the mind's concerns. That, too, contributes to calmness.

5. Practice -- aloud -- delivering the opening and closing parts of your presentation. Then practice the middle of your presentation with your visuals. Mental rehearsal is beneficial but it can never substitute for speaking out loud. More muscles and mental processes are involved and, once again, experience contributes to a calmer mind.

6. Do some stress-burning exercises before you speak. Find your own, personal, stress points and work on those. Yours may be in the neck, shoulders, lower back, temples, or elsewhere. Clap your hands and rub them together briskly then place them on the tension spots. As you do, massage gently, stretch lightly, and think about relaxation. These actions and the mind's positive responses to your take-charge steps will also reduce stress.

7. As you walk to the front of the room, think about your message and move with confident body language. Between the two, your brain will assume that everything is okay. Breathe fully. And think only positive thoughts: "I am pleased to have this opportunity." "I am sharing important information that others will value." "This will be a good experience because I am prepared."

Stephen C. Rafe, president of Rapport Communications, Reston, VA, has been a counselor and coach in the field of behavior-based communication for more than two decades. He is the author of three books on this subject with HarperBusiness, a monograph with Communication Briefings, numerous manuals and pamphlets, and more than 100 published feature articles. His methods also appear in oothers' books. His clients have included Johnson & Johnson for the Tylenol crisis, AT&T for its divestiture, President Reagan's committee on strategic forces, and numerous heads of corporations, countries, and organizations. He teaches communications subjects at the university level and is a doctoral candidate. He can be contacted at:

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Friday, October 3, 2008

10 Profitable Tips For Creating Better Sales Presentations

Writen by Thom Reece

No matter what your business is, you will enhance your level of success by developing a well-organized sales presentation. A good sales presentation involves two primary elements:

(1) The pre-planned sales talk.

(2) A carefully conceived and organized visual presentation that documents, confirms, supports, and strengthens the oral.

Your visual aid can take a variety of forms. It may be a multi-page flip-over type with elaborate charts and graphs, extensive artwork, color photos, and other attention getting devices. It may be a computer driven multi-media event or a simple on-line presentation from a laptop. Or, it can be a basic set of 8 1/2 X 11 loose-leaf pages that can be arranged to fit diverse selling situations.

Presentations, whether professionally designed or home made, are a vital component of your selling process. Why? Confucius put it this way: "In all things, success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure." First prepare. Then sell.

Here are ten tips for selling better with prepared presentations.

1. Plan Ahead. Advance preparation is nine-tenths of the sale. Be sure you are organized and equipped to talk, show, and sell. Know all you can about your prospect before you make the presentation. Tailor your products/services benefits to solve your prospects' problems and fill their needs and desires.

2. Make A Great First Impression. A clean uncluttered sales presentation, like an artist's creation, is a mirror-image of your character, personality, and attitude.

3. Be Clear. Be Logical. Be Brief. Don't be brief at the expense of being misunderstood. Clarity starts with you. Clear answers to your prospects overriding question... What can you do for me?...will lead to understanding and sales.

4. Maintain Control. Never sit between two buyers. Don't let the prospect read ahead or thumb through your visual aids until you're ready for him to. Ask the prospect to instruct his secretary to hold all calls during your presentation. (It takes guts to sell.)

5. Seek Change of Pace. Put bounce in your voice. Change pace, tempo, and volume. Ask lots of questions. Get verbal confirmation of agreement at each stage of the presentation.

6. Prepare For Interruptions. Don't be flustered or thrown off balance. Expect interruptions and use them to summarize key sales points.

7. Involve The Prospect. Give the prospect something to feel, handle, manipulate, examine. Let the prospect mentally take possession of your product or service.

8. Gauge Your Progress. Progress should be measured in terms of understanding. No sale. The more the prospect agrees with you, the more progress you are making.

9. Give A Complete Sales Talk Every Time. Your presentation must perform four important functions:

(A) Win the prospects attention,

(B) hold his interest,

(C) persuade and convince him of the rightness of your proposition,

(D) prove that a buying decision is a logical step for him to take.

10. Seek A Buying Action...Expect To Close. A good presentation naturally leads to a buying decision. Make it easy for the customer to buy. If your prospect was properly qualified and your sales presentation on target, you will find the selling process goes quickly and easily.

© Copyright 2005 Thom Reece All Rights Reserved

Thom Reece is CEO of Online Marketing Resource Center [] and publisher of "Thom Reece's Web Marketing Strategies & Techniques Newsletter". You may subscribe free at:,

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

What Has Matching Got To Do With Presenting

Writen by Tessa Stowe

The secret to presenting to a potential client is "matching." Prior to presenting, you would have asked plenty of questions and uncovered the problems they want solved. The next step then is to present your solution and to do lots of matching.

What do I mean by matching? Matching is where you make the connection between the problems a potential client wants solved and the features/characteristics of your service that solves those problems.

Your solution has lots of features/characteristics and some are relevant to the potential client and some are not. You want to sort all your features and characteristics into two piles. Pile one consists of the features/characteristics they care about - as they solve the specific problems they have discussed with you. Pile two consists of the features/characteristics they will not care about - as they don't solve any of the problems they have discussed with you. Note that you can only do this sorting if you've asked enough questions before you present.

To prepare for your presentation, look at all the features/characteristics your potential client cares about (pile one). The next step is to then "match" each of the problems they want solved to the feature/characteristic of your service that will solve it for them. When you present, you then show the connection between the problems they have agreed they want solved and the features/characteristics of your service that solves those problems.

If you do not do the matching for your potential client, they will be left trying to work out what aspect (features/characteristic) of your service can solve their problems. Also if you do not do the matching, your potential client will feel you haven't listened to them, amongst other things.

To explain this further, I am going to use a simple example of buying a car. Even though I do not like stereotype car salesmen, this is a good example for matching, plus it is an example you can probably relate to.

Scenario One

The car salesman asks you what sort of car you're looking for and what is important to you. You tell him. He then shows you a car and proceeds to tell you all about the features of the car that you frankly could not care less about. He just goes on and on telling you absolutely everything about the car. Sound familiar?

Scenario Two

The car salesman asks you what sort of car you are looking for and what is important to you. You tell him. He then shows you a car and describes exactly what features of the car will give you each of the things you said are important to you.

Who would you buy the car from? Would you buy from the car salesman in scenario one or scenario two? Who did matching?

What would you be thinking with the scenario-one car salesman?

You might be thinking:

- He didn't listen to me.
- He doesn't understand me.
- Why did he ask me what I wanted as he clearly wasn't interested?
- I am not sure if it meets my needs. I am confused.
- I am bored and irritated.
- How can I get away from this person?

What would you be thinking with the scenario-two car salesman?

You might be thinking:

- He really listened to me.
- He understands me.
- I can clearly see how this meets my needs.
- I am interested.

When you present your solution, demonstrate that you have been listening and that you understand their problems. Only present the features/characteristics that solve the specific problems they have been telling you about. That is what they're interested in and what they will care about. The key to presenting is in the matching!

(c) Tessa Stowe, Sales Conversation, 2006. You are welcome to "reprint" this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the "about the author" info at the end).

Tessa Stowe helps Coaches, Consultants and Service Professionals who are resisting selling their services, as they don't want to be seen as pushy and sales-y. Her FREE monthly Sales Conversation newsletter is full of tips on how to sell your services by just being yourself. Sign up now at

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Participating In A Trade Show Or Convention The Right Promotional Products Can Do Double Duty

Writen by Aldene Fredenburg

If your company participates in trade shows or conventions, its ultimate goal is to generate business. The right promotional products can be a big help in doing just that.

The perfect promotional product is one that represents your company and its business well, and is used - often - by the recipient. Practical, attractive giveaways can include simple items like pens or mechanical pencils, pads of paper, or rulers, or can be more substantial, like hefty three-ring binders, canvas totes or portfolios or backpacks. A pen with your company's name, phone number, and website address puts your company's essential info literally at the fingertips of prospective customers; and, considering the propensity of writing implements to get passed from hand to hand, you've no idea how far your company's message will really travel. If you have lots of printed material to hand out to prospective customers or conference participants, a great giveaway is a sturdy tote with your company logo and contact information printed on it. Participants will use your promotional tote throughout the day and likely after they return home, either at work or in their personal life, thus keeping your company in their mind.

Trade your info for theirs.

Offer a high-quality giveaway like a sturdy book bag in exchange for participants' business cards or other contact information; for a modest investment, you'll gain a substantial list of prospective customers. You may also want to tailor your giveaways to your company's industry, or to the industry of your potential clients. A company marketing to architectural firms, for example, may want to offer drafting pens or even a small drafting kit; an architectural firm may want to offer an attractive day calendar with spectacular photos of some of their most dramatic designs.

Offer a free service to participants.

If your company is service-oriented, you may find that offering a free analysis of customer needs, something you would ordinarily charge a fee to do, will bring in extra business. Tuck a coupon for the service in with your other promotional materials, or pass them out to participants after a lecture if the opportunity presents itself. Or provide a special website address which will allow participants to receive a free online analysis and quote, or will allow them to ask questions of an expert at your firm. A marketing firm or job training company may offer free training seminars to interested individuals to promote their expertise.

The right promotional products or services can reflect your company's professional image and expertise, and can go a long way toward making connections with future customers. The trick with products is to make them attractive, useful, and durable, and to somehow make the recipient's life easier; with services it's to provide value. With both products and services, the aim is to make a professional, personable, and enduring impression on people who may decide to do business with you in the future.

Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire, who has written numerous articles for local and regional publications. She may be reached at

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