Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Discussion About Facilitation Skills

Writen by Chris Stowell

Interview with Julia Apple-Smith, Manager of Employee Development at Sauer-Danfoss Ames, Iowa about Facilitation Skills:

Q: Would you tell me a little bit about the culture at Sauer-Danfoss?

Julia: About nine years ago, Dave Pfeifle, President and CEO had a vision for us to change our culture. We, at one time, were part of the Sundstrand Corporation, and as such, over time, had evolved into a company that was fairly autocratic and not very customer focused. It was not only Dave's vision for that to change, but it was also a time when our customers were beginning to let us know that if that was the way we were going to do business, they were going to need to find other companies to provide the same type of product that we provide. Dave's vision then became what is now known as Reaching for Excellence. It is not a program. It is our company's vision statement. It represents our philosophy of who we are. There was not a training program here at that time. Part of Dave's vision was to have a learning base to help promote and support that kind of cultural changes. It's really been an evolutionary process over the last eight or nine years. It is something that CMOE has played and integral part in.

Q: How did your relationship with CMOE begin?

Julia - One of the first things we did was to preview the Coaching Skills Workshop in California. We decided that it was a class that we wanted to bring in-house. That class and a Customer Awareness Class, that I created, were really the cornerstone classes for what now has become one of our core courses in the whole training program. As time evolved, we continued to build on that foundation of learning with other classes such as Teamwork I and Teamwork II and other types of learning. So there was a lot of internal training going on.

Q – Can you tell me about how Facilitation Skills came about?

Julia – About five years ago, I was getting feedback from team leaders, facilitators (supervisors), and when I sat in on meetings, it was clear that we were still struggling. We had structured ourselves into teams throughout the organization, but we struggled, when we got people together, to make those meetings as effective as possible. From (my) observation and from feedback, it was very clear that we needed to be doing some thing to build on the Coaching Skills training to give these people some skills on how to facilitate a group. Coaching, I think does a superior job of giving people skills for one-on-one coaching situations. You can even apply a lot of those skills to a group session, but we really wanted something that was more specific to facilitating groups. So a couple of managers went with me to Des Moines to preview a two-day class on Facilitation Skills, and we found that it was pretty typical of what is out there in the industry. We wanted more of what I would call the soft side or the behavioral side of group facilitation. In other words, when people were facilitating groups, they wanted to enhance involvement, help to focus the group without directing the group, how to help the group feel good about what they were doing and actually have fun with it, while helping the group be more effective and efficient.

Even as we started to develop this Facilitation Skills program with CMOE, we struggled. Early on, I remember getting on the phone with Steve Stowell to just talk out some of the issues because it was so different from anything either of us had seen in the consulting industry. Steve and I continued to struggle with how we should put this course together, and what it should look like, because for me, it is really on that soft side. It is not a skill. It's being able to use your intuition and read a group and read the dynamics in a group and know how to react to the flow of what is going on in a group, and pull people in or help to redirect other people if they are not contributing in a positive manner, again without controlling the group.

Q – So is there just not a lot of material out there on Facilitation Skills?

Julia – There is a lot of courses out there on Facilitation, but nothing like what CMOE has created. If you look at what is out there on the market they don't have the same focus that CMOE's course does. A lot of what we were seeing out there under the name of Facilitation Skills is really meeting management. There is a big difference. This is really more facilitating group interaction or 'high performance' facilitation.

Q – What is the target audience for Facilitation Skills?

Julia – The plan was that it would end up being for everybody. The original goal was to first give the skills to management, and then give it to all employees. When managers were first going through the course, the feedback we got was that it would be extremely useful for the team members to have the same skills. It would make facilitating the group so much easier if everyone understood what was going on in terms of task, climate, and behavior.

Q – Can you see any improvement in your facilitators as a result of being committed to the Facilitation Skills Workshop?

Julia – Absolutely! The people that were in the first class have definitely noticed an improvement in their facilitation skills. We haven't done any structured observations, but just from our ad hoc types of settings where they are leading the group and I am a part of the group, I have definitely seen an improvement. I think it plays out, not only in terms of a structured meeting, but also in how they go about doing their jobs on a day-to-day basis, because the principles that are taught in Facilitation Skills, as with Coaching, go beyond just the structured setting. Yes, I have seen a lot of improvement in those people, and it mainly has to do with their confidence level.

If you would like to learn more about CMOE's Facilitation Skills workshop titled Leading Groups to Solutions, please contact a CMOE Regional Manager at (801) 569-3444 or visit their website.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ten Commandments Of Powerpoint Presentation Design

Writen by Debby Gilden

Ever wonder why everybody equates "PowerPoint" with "bullet points"? It's because Microsoft® made the default layout for new slides automatically create a bullet-point list of text.

Don't be lured into the bullet point trap. Experiment with different slide layouts – especially with "Blank"—and with placing text and graphics in different locations. Your slides are actually blank canvasses on which you can put anything any place. If you find that scary – like too much freedom – gain some confidence by learning some elements of good design. An excellent source of ideas for color combinations, as well as for the density and placement of text and graphics, is magazine ads, and even billboards. The subject matter is irrelevant. Simply identify ads that you find pleasing and effective, note their color schemes and structure, and you will soon discover some common characteristics, e.g. simple, uncluttered layouts; easy-to-read text; etc.

To give you a quick start on how to design presentations with a bit of polish and pizzazz, I've developed the Ten Commandments of PowerPoint® Presentation Design. They are the first steps to designing heavenly presentations.

1. Thou shalt not place more than 6 lines of bullet points on a slide.

2. Thou shalt use text and graphics colors that have high contrast with the background.

3. Thou shalt ensure that text is large enough to be read by those sitting in the back of the room.

4. Thou shalt never use animations gratuitously.

5. Thou shalt choose transitions that reveal slides in logical ways.

6. Thou shalt design only uncluttered, balanced slides with white space to ensure aesthetic composition.

7. Thou shalt use graphics rather than bullet points if it more clearly transmits information.

8. Thou shalt design slides that are pleasing to look at.

9. Thou shalt never need to say "I know you can't read this but…".

10. Thou shalt honor thy audience by designing presentations that are interesting and engaging.

This article was written by Debby Gilden, Ph.D., freelance PowerPoint® designer and instructor. Please visit my Web site

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Right Speaker Makes A Big Difference

Writen by Khoo Kheng-Hor

MORE and more corporations in Malaysia have awoken to the necessity of training and developing their people these days. Hence, many local speakers have emerged in recent years just as many foreign ones have already been flocking to Malaysia as far back as two decades ago. With so many speakers available in the market, the success of your event lies in selecting the right speaker who would make a big difference in your conference or seminar.

Here are some tips.

First, discard the "white is superior" mindset. Although there are some really good foreign speakers from the West, there are also many who are unable to deliver. To select a speaker to grace your conference or engage one to run an in-house seminar primarily on the basis of skin color alone could end in disappointment.

Selection of a speaker should be based on the desired content appropriate to your conference theme or meeting your training needs, and the competence of the speaker to deliver. If you care to look around our own backyard – Malaysia – you may find some local speakers who are really good in their respective specialization.

The next thing to consider is: Can you afford the really good ones?

There are many people representing cash-rich corporations and yet could become quite niggardly when it comes to paying for good speakers.

Just as luxury cars and branded time pieces don't come cheap, don't expect the top speakers to work for peanuts. And don't try the "while we won't pay you much but think of the exposure we can give you if you were to speak in our conference" approach. The really top speakers would just walk away even if they are too polite to laugh in your face.

On average, you should expect to fork out anything between USD5,000 to USD15,000 for any of the internationally-acclaimed speakers, even for just an hour's presentation as in a conference. Although some people had made some noises when I gave them the same quotation for an hour's presentation just as I had quoted for a day's work, they had overlooked that whether a professional speaker spoke for an hour or a day, that very day could no longer be offered to another client. This is especially so when some traveling is involved. For an example, to speak in another city, say Beijing, a day before the event and a day after the event would be spent in traveling.

In Malaysia, good local speakers are available for RM7,000 to RM10,000 for up to a day's presentation although for RM3,000 to RM6,000, you may still be able to get some who are relatively quite good albeit they may not be in the "internationally-acclaimed" league.

Speaking of "internationally-acclaimed" speakers, don't be fooled by those who claimed to be "internationally-acclaimed" speakers from having spoken abroad. Find out who they have spoken for. If they spoke for multinationals that are household names like Cisco Systems, Citibank, GE, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems, etc., then you could take their word for it. Just be aware that there are many event organizers who pay peanuts to local speakers to speak at overseas events, and such speakers would subsequently pose themselves off as "internationally-acclaimed" ones.

As I have mentioned, getting a good speaker makes a big difference. An inexperienced or incompetent one would either send the delegates to sleep or fail to get the key learning points across.

Last but not least, you ought to keep up with the times. Make use of the Internet in your search for the right speaker. There are many websites, e.g.,,, etc., where you can browse through a panel of speakers and peruse their resumes.

And just as you are in keeping with the times, make sure your selected speaker is also technically-inclined. As a self-respecting speaker will ask for an LCD projector since he or she will bring along a personal computer loaded with presentations on PowerPoint, you should discard the one who still uses transparencies on overhead projector.

Khoo Kheng-Hor, a best-selling author of several books on the application of Sun Tzu's Art of War in contemporary business management is a sought-after speaker in conferences and seminars throughout Asia. He can be reached at or

For more tips and tricks resources, log on to

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hocus Pocus Focus Part 1

Writen by Lenn Millbower

"The first impulse of people is to believe." Dr. Harlan Tarbell

The magician, stands center stage as various assistants enter and exit. Usually a piece of exotic apparatus is introduced. The story line calls for the magician to don a hood. He does so, as do his assistants. The magician grabs the leading lady by the arm and places her, usually bound, into the apparatus and locks it shut. The assistants make a great show of tying ropes around the box. Once the box is thoroughly tied, the dancers strut around the stage. They turn the apparatus side- to-side and end-to-end as the magician walks around the box. When the box stops turning, the dancers prance around it. At an appropriately suspenseful moment, the box is opened. Surprise! It's empty. The magician takes his hood off. Surprise. It's the assistant. But where's the magician? At this moment, the magician appears, to the breathless amazement of the audience, at the back of the theater and run down the center isle of the theater. He runs to the stage and receives a well deserved round of applause.

Magicians and trainers: two artists with more in common than you might think. This month and next I will explore the similarities between these two art forms and identify the lessons magicians offer trainers as we focus on hocus pocus.

The First Illusion We don't know when the first human magic was performed any more than we know who the first trainer was. We can however assume that the first "miracle worker" was viewed with awe and wonder. In ancient times, conjurers were highly regarded as communicators to gods, predictors of the future and advisors to kings. As humanity grew to understand science, magic became a less relevant source of miracles. It became instead what it should have been all along, an entertainment art form. Harry Houdini delivered the death knell for magicians as miracle workers. After Houdini's mother died, Houdini attended séance after séance in a forlorn attempt to contact her. Unfortunately for the mediums, their tambourine shakings, bell ringings, table liftings and ghostly writings did not fool Houdini. He felt betrayed and conducted a single-handed crusade that destroyed the mediums and completed the transition from magician-as-miracle-worker to magician-as-entertainer.

Although trainers were never regarded as communicators to gods, they were once upon a time regarded as miracle workers. All a manager had to do was send a problematic employee to training and the trainer would work learning miracles. That perception is long gone, along with the bubble. In today's tighter times, traditional training is often viewed as the equivalent of the medium with the ability to do little more than rattle tambourines.

Magic and training both suffer what the psychologists call cognitive disconnect. We are suspicious of magicians. The very word "illusion," originally Latin, means "to make fun of, and most people don't like to play the fool. And yet magic's lure remains. We may have lost our belief in the divinity of magicians, but not the desire to believe. We watch a fake, and knowing its fakeness, still fall for the illusion.

Magicians have responded to this disconnect by downplaying the trick. Granted, magic is performed through trickery, but audiences rarely leave a magical entertainment bragging about how well they were tricked. The trickery is a tool, not an end in itself. People do not want to be tricked; they want to be entertained. And yet, in order to entertain, the magician must manipulate.

In a similar vein, adults often enter the training environment full of suspicion. Admitting the need to learn implies admitting a lack of completeness, in a strange room, in front of strangers, to an instructor who can exert control over the trainee's fate. The trainer, like the magician, must present his or her art form to an often suspicious audience who deep down inside want to learn. Like the magician, the trainer must manipulate to teach.


When people watch magicians perform, they see the manipulation of cards, billiard balls, silk handkerchiefs, and other paraphernalia. With trainers, they see the manipulation of logistics, electronic media and classroom materials. There is a level of manipulation that neither audience sees: the performer's manipulation of the audience. Consider the magician. The extraordinary effort that the magician puts into directing the audience's attention is hidden from view. The audience sees magic: the magician sees deception. Likewise, the best trainer takes constant care to hide the class mechanics from view so that the trainees can focus on learning. The trainee sees illumination: the trainer sees controlled sequences. The trainer must influence the trainee's mind in order for learning to occur. Both magician and trainer must use two fundamental principals to manipulate the audience: direction and suggestion. The story that opened this article made extensive use of both principals. Let's look at that story again. Only this time, we will examine the illusion from the magician's point of view.

Hocus Pocus Refocused.

The magician, stands center stage as various assistants enter and exit.

The first time a spectator sees an assistant enter, they notice. They may even notice the second entrance. But soon, the comings and goings become routine, and no longer warrant attention. They become invisible. The magician directs attention away from these entrances, suggesting their lack of importance.

Usually a piece of exotic apparatus is introduced.

The box is not the focus of this illusion, the upcoming switch is. By directing attention towards the box, the magician directs the spectator's attention away from the various personnel on stage. The magician suggests the box is important. This false focus makes the switch a total surprise.

The story line calls for the magician to don a hood. He does so, as do his assistants.

No magician wants to wear a hood. It's hot, sweaty and unattractive. The nature of this illusion is a switch, and a switch cannot occur if the magician is easy to spot on stage. The magician dons a hood so that the switch can occur, but audience knowledge of that purpose would telegraph the illusion. A story line that suggests a logical explanation is invented for the hood.

The magician grabs the leading lady by the arm and places her, usually bound, into the apparatus and locks it shut. The assistants make a great show of tying ropes around the box.

The ropes are inconsequential as a barrier to escape, but important as a directing tool. They play no role in the illusion, except to suggest that escape is impossible. In addition, the rope by-play allows the leading lady time to escape her bonds, take off her outer layer of clothes to reveal an assistant's costume and hood, and slip out a trap door in the back of the box. As the last of the ropes are tied, the leading lady, now dressed as an assistant, exits stage left with the other assistants, who are by now not important enough to watch, as the hooded magician directs attention to him by walking towards the audience.

Once the box is thoroughly tied, the dancers strut around the stage. They turn the apparatus side-to-side and end-to-end as the magician walks around the box.

With all the whirling, twirling, circling, and strutting, it is had for the spectator to remain focused on the critical details. There is just too much stimuli directed at them. At this point, while the spectators are in stimuli overload, the magician boldly walks toward the wings.

When the box stops turning, the dancers prance around it.

The alluring dancers direct attention away from the magician, who, having reached the wings, exits stage left. At that precise moment, the dancers execute their most provocative dance step. Almost immediately, the leading lady enters from the exact area where the magician exited, and by manner of walk and attitude, suggests that she is the magician.

At an appropriately suspenseful moment, the box is opened. Surprise. It's empty. The magician takes his hood off. Surprise. It's the assistant.

The suggestion is that the switch occurred at that instant. Of course, the switch is minutes old, but, because the magician purposely directed their attention away from the critical events, the spectators completely missed it. They now begin focusing on possible solutions for the switch, but it is too late. The trail has already gone cold. Besides which, their attention is about to be directed away from the puzzle with an even more enticing stimulus.

But where's the magician? At this moment, the magician appears, to the breathless amazement of the audience, at the back of the theater and run down the center isle of the theater. He runs to the stage and receives a well deserved round of applause.

To the spectator, the switch is made all the more miraculous by the appearance of the magician at the back of the theater. The unstated suggestion is that the magician has just now magically appeared at the back of the theater. A closer look would reveal his fast breathing. For, he has just run all the way around the theater. But the magician isn't the only one gasping for air. The audience has been left breathless.

What seemed like a true miracle was accomplished through direction and suggestion. We will overview each of these fundamental principals in turn, and examine the ways they relate to the learning environment.


To create magic, magicians must bend the laws of nature. Or rather they must seem to bend the laws of nature. Control isn't necessary; the appearance of control is enough. That appearance of control comes from directing the audience's attention away from items that would destroy the illusion, and towards those that reinforce it. Direction can take many forms but is invariably a physical action: a nod, a gesture, a change in posture, or a verbal statement.

To foster learning, trainers must also control the environment. Bulgarian psychotherapist Dr. Giorgi Lozanov, the father of Accelerated Learning theory, believed that adult suspicions about the classroom block learning. He viewed joyful direction on the part of the instructor, one in which the instructor positively directs the trainees toward the learning goal and away from negative behaviors, as critical to learning.

And old training saying suggests trainers should "tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them." Magicians tell the audience what the magician wants them to see, tells them what they should be seeing, and then tells them what they just saw. Where trainers direct attention towards positive learning outcomes, magicians misdirect attention away from truth.

A simple example is the magician's statement, "Nothing up my sleeve." This is an intentional ploy. Calling attention to the obvious preempts future "It was up his sleeve" comments. It also gives the audience something irrelevant to think about, thus pulling their attention away from the bulge in the magician's pocket, or in the case of the switch, away from the critical events of the illusion.

Attention was directed towards the box, and away from the assistants. The hoods were explained in the story. Because no extra attention was paid to them, they seemed unimportant. The attention placed on the tightness of the ropes implied importance when there is none, and stalled for time while the assistant changed clothes and slipped through the trap door. The alluring dance steps directed attention away from the switch. The appearance of the magician at the back of the theater directed attention away from the true secret of the illusion. All these events were planned to control what the audience saw. Without this direction, the illusion could not have happened.

In a similar fashion, every stimulus in the learning environment sends a message about the value of the training. The savvy trainer orchestrates all those stimuli so as to direct attention towards the learning goal.

Suggestion The second of our two fundamentals is suggestion. Where direction is often a physical, via gestures, posture, and verbal statements, suggestion is the art of implication. Dariel Fitzee Explained suggestion as "… A subtle but positive act of putting something into the mind of the spectator."

This definition parallels Giorgi Lozanov's comments about Suggestopedia. Lozanov's defined suggestion as:

"A constant communicative factor which chiefly through paraconscious mental activity can create conditions for tapping the functional reserve capacities." Lozanov believed that adults bring personal learning barriers into the classroom with them, and that facilitators should create an aura of joyfulness and then use that aura to suggest positive learning outcomes.

In the Hocus Pocus switch example, the magician employed several suggestions:
• The comings and goings of the assistants were not important
• The box was a major focus of the illusion
• Hoods needed to be worn because of the story
• Ropes make escape from the box impossible
• The hooded assistant was the magician
• The switch occurred in an instant
• The magician magically appeared at the back of the theater Each of these suggestions was false, but was accepted as true by the audience.

In the learning environment, the trainer offers several suggestions that aid learning:
• The subject to be learned is critical to job success or personal or professional well-being
• The time spent together will be well spent
• The subject is not too difficult to learn
• Anyone who applies themselves can learn the material
• The class will be an enjoyable experience

These suggestions can be critical to classroom success. Suggestion calms the anxious right hemisphere, creating positive emotion. The end result is a more attentive brain. Regardless of the field, be it magic, vocal performance, or instruction, the goal and the technique for reaching that goal is the same. Subtle, positive, focused suggestion that creates an atmosphere of trust.

Acceptance of Manipulation

Finally, we come to the trust required for acceptance of direction and suggestion. For, if the audience believes that the magician or trainer does not have their own benefit at heart, direction and suggestion are doomed to fail. The audience subconsciously condones and willingly accepts the manipulation as long as two factors remain in place:
• The manipulation must be clearly for the audience's benefit
• The audience must not be reminded of the manipulation

The manipulation must be clearly for the audience's benefit

Magicians place great emphasis on communicating benevolence to the audience. They suggest supernatural powers but with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. They present their illusions as harmless concoctions for the audiences' enjoyment. And the audience, knowing the intent is pleasurable emotion, allow themselves to be fooled.

Trainers also communicate benevolence. Trainees who mistrust the trainer will not engage in the learning. Trainees allow themselves to be controlled as long as they trust the trainer. The moment they suspect the trainer is more concerned with his or her ego then with their benefit, the level of trust plunges. The instructor must additionally focus the learners on the subject at hand, keep the focus on the subject throughout the learning process, and create an environment in which the learners amaze themselves with what they have learned. Instruction is manipulation for the learner's benefit.

The audience must not be reminded of the manipulation

A willingness to be manipulated is not the same as a conscious awareness of that manipulation. Audiences and trainees will only accept manipulation if they are not consciously aware of it.

In order to manipulate the audience without calling attention to that manipulation, suggestion must be employed. The audience's reluctance to be tricked, and the learner's reluctance to be coerced, dictates the need for suggestion. Both Fitzee and Lozanov felt that dictates would be doomed to failure. Fitzee stated:

"It is utterly impossible to force the spectator's reason or judgment directly. The spectator must believe he has made his own decision [original emphasis]. This makes it necessary for the magician to use inducement rather than persuasion."

If you reread that quote with the classroom in mind, you can easily see the parallel:

"It is utterly impossible to force a class to participate directly. The trainee must believe he has made his own decision to learn. This makes it necessary for the trainer to use inducement rather than persuasion."

With these comparisons between magicians and trainers in mind, we will next turn our attention to the placement of magic in the learning environment. Next month's article, Hocus Pocus Focus Part 2 will focus on four applications of magic in the learning environment.

To Be Continued in Hocus Pocus Part 2

Visit Lenn on line at

Lenn Millbower, BM, MA, the Learnertainment® Trainer is an expert in applying show biz techniques to learning. He is the author of the ASTD Info-Line, Music as a Training Tool, focused on the practical application of music to learning; Show Biz Training, the definitive book on the application of entertainment industry techniques to training; Cartoons for Trainers, a popular collection of 75 cartoons for learning; Game Show Themes for Trainers, a best-selling CD of original learning game music; and Training with a Beat: The Teaching Power of Music, the foremost book on the application of music to learning. Lenn is an in-demand speaker, with successful presentations at ASTD 1999-2005 and SHRM 2006; a creative and dynamic instructional designer and facilitator formally with the Disney University and Disney Institute; an accomplished arranger-composer skilled in the psychological application of music to learning; a popular comedian, magician and musician; and the president of Offbeat Training®, infusing entertainment-based techniques into learning to keep 'em awake!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Winning The Big Pitch The 7 Deadly Sins Of Business Presentations And How To Avoid Them

Writen by Thomas Murrell

Are poor presentations costing you business?

The ability to deliver a presentation to potential investors or clients is an essential skill for any budding entrepreneur, sales professional or consultant.

Whether it's a '15-second elevator pitch' or a more extensive presentation, winning over and persuading audiences is vital in today's competitive capital raising and sales environment.

Learning the art of making powerful and persuasive presentations in any business situation and you will win more work.

My premise is every start-up entrepreneur, seasoned business operator or consultant can win more business by being a better presenter.

Here are the Seven Deadly Sins of Business Presentations and How to Avoid Them.

1. Not Having a Clear Goal.

It is essential to know what the objective or end outcome of your presentation is. Is it to raise funds, educate and inform, build relationships, to sell or build credibility?

2. No Structure.

This is an absolute must for any presenter - at the very least have a beginning, middle and end. You may be the best presenter in the world with outstanding delivery skills but poor structure will lead to a poor presentation.

3. Not Connecting with Your Audience.

Building empathy and rapport with your audience is critical. Connect with them on three levels - head, heart and hip-pocket.

4. A Poor Beginning.

First impressions always matter. If you have to raise $8 million in 8 minutes, make every word count. I learnt this tip from attending Patricia Fripp's speaking school recently and I think its brilliant. For business presentations she says avoid using 'Thanks, its great to be here' as your opener. She rightly points out you've just wasted 10 seconds. At a million dollars a minute that equates to nearly $167,000!

5. Too Much Content.

The cardinal sin of all business and technical presenters. In my media career, I estimate I have attended more than 300 conferences, events and seminars. That's 1500 hours worth of presentations I've had to sit through and the most common mistake I've seen is presenters rush and overload the audience with too much content. Remember, presentations rely on the spoken word and the visual - use the written word and a handout to provide more detail.

6. The Presenter's 'I's' Are Too Close Together.

We all like to talk about ourselves. As a radio manager, I spent hours listening to and providing feedback to broadcasters. Those that really connected with their audience talked with them rather than at them. I observed they used the word 'you' a lot more than the word 'I'. This led to the saying that with some presenters their 'I's' were too close together! Here's another great tip I learnt from Fripp. Record your presentation and have it transcribed. Every time you see the word 'I', cross it out and replace it with 'you'. She calls this working on your 'I-You Ratio'.

7. Poor Closer. Again it is beginning and the end that is the most important part of any presentation. With your closer - what is the key message or action you want the audience to take away with them as they walk out the door? In business presentations the closer is often the 'call to action'. When I heard Bill Clinton speak at a Fundraising event for sick children, his closer was 'I want you to help'. Simple, direct and effective.

Here's another tip I learnt from Fripp. If you want to take questions, take them before your closer, because ending on question time is a poor and weak way to end a presentation. Worse still, you are unlikely to be able to control the last question. Take questions for a set period before the end, wrap that section up and then end with a strong closer. I've already tried this on several audiences and it works a treat!

Thomas Murrell MBA CSP is an international business speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster. Media Motivators is his regular electronic magazine read by 7,000 professionals in 15 different countries. You can subscribe by visiting Thomas can be contacted directly at +6189388 6888 and is available to speak to your conference, seminar or event. Visit Tom's blog at

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Right Projector Screen Can Save You Money

Writen by Nick Summers

At the LCD Projector Center we concentrate very much on LCD projectors, so why am I writing about projector screens? Quite simple really. Buying your lcd projector in isolation from the screen without considering how they work together is likely to cost you more and give you less than perfect results.

How can picking the right projector screen save you money?

One of the biggest challenges when choosing an lcd projector is getting the right brightness for the room you are going to be using it in. For home use you can usually darken the room. This means you can buy a cheap lcd projector, often saving many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

But often darkening the room significantly is neither possible nor desirable. Buying a higher specification projector will give you a brighter image, but it's probably cheaper to buy a high gain projector screen. The quality lcd projector may cost you a thousand dollars more than a dimmer model, whilst quality projector screens that enhance the image brightness and clarity are only a few hundred dollars more.

Projector Brightness and Screen Gain

The brightness of an lcd projector is given in ansi lumens. Typical values for home theater and business presentation use are 500 to 3000. The higher the number, the brighter the picture will be. At the low end a darkened room is essential, whilst at the very top end acceptable results are possible with higher light levels. The current generation of home use projectors are typically in the 1000-1500 range.

The gain of a projector screen is the increase in brightness of the image produced compared to a flat matt white screen. This is given as a simple number, eg 1, 1.5, 2 etc. A gain of 1 means the image is the same brightness as on a flat matt white surface, whereas 2 means the image is twice as bright.

As an example, if you decide you need about 1500 lumen to get an acceptable quality picture, you could buy a projector with that rating and worry about the screen later. Or you could buy a cheaper 1000 lumen model and match it to a projector screen with a gain of 1.5. This would give you an effective image brightness of 1500 lumen at a reduced cost.

Very High Gain Projector Screens

Typical cheap projector screens have gains of between 1 and 1.2. Gains of 1.5 to 1.8 are achieved with high quality perlescent finishes at about double the cost. If money is no object and you need the maximum gain possible then you need a chromatically matched projector screen.

Gains of up to 4 can now be achieved with matched projectors and screens. An lcd projector only transmits 3 narrow wavelengths of light in Red, Green and Blue. A matched projector screen is covered with material that reflects only these wavelengths. Almost all of the ambient light is absorbed or scattered, so the projected image appears very much brighter.

The Downside of High Projector Screen Gain

Whilst projector screen gain might help you use a cheap lcd projector in brighter rooms than it could cope with on its own, there are 3 trade-offs. These are the viewing angle, color shifting and uneven brightness.

High gain projector screens limit the viewing angle. For a screen with a gain of 1 the picture appears high quality out to about 50 degrees from the projector. But at a gain of 1.5 that viewing angle is reduced to about 35 degrees. Over 2 and the viewing angle is down to around 25 degrees, making it much more difficult to layout your room.

Color shifting happens due to the surface properties of the higher gain screens. A true white screen will render colors accurately. By trying to manipulate the way light reflects, a high gain screen can cause a shift in some of the colors. This is rarely a reason not to buy, unless you really do need the colors to be spot on.

The biggest impact a high gain projector screen has on image quality is the change is brightness from the center of the screen to the edge. There can be up to 30% difference at gains over 2. This is usually not too much of a problem, but it does become far more noticable the higher the viewing angle.


A little research and a bit of leg work could help you make great savings. Treat the projector screen as an integral part of your system and buy it together with your projector. Visit stores and insist on demonstrations with a variety of lcd projector and screen combinations.

Choosing a good quality, moderate gain (1.4-1.6) projector screen can decrease the cost and increase the performance of your system. A cheap lcd projector can produce a bright, clear image at higher than expected light levels. So whilst your projector screen may cost more, overall you save. brings together all the latest news and reviews from the world of LCD Projectors. Research your home theater or business presentation LCD Projector at

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Loan Officer Training So You Want To Be A Top Producer

Writen by Chad Weber

First of all, many studies have been performed on top producers. No matter what field of sales they are in, top producers always seem to have a common thread. This has led me to believe that success is a recipe. What I mean by this is wherever you find success, you will find certain ingredients. Unfortunately, many loan officers focus on the WRONG ingredients. This became very clear to me, only when I began teaching. I say this because some of the brightest and most capable of my students are also the poorest! Before I break into that though, let's look at the key ingredients that MUST be present to be a top producer:

1. - Passion.

Another poster mentioned this above, and hit the nail on the head. However, a lot of us misread what passion is. When I say passion needs to be present I don't mean you need to jump out of your bed every morning pumping your arms in the air singing "I love loans!!" No, this isn't passion, this is, well....Lunacy? j/k :)

Seriously though, passion in this context is a reference to your viewpoint. Those who are passionate and successful have a laser focus to accomplish a certain goal, and view their position as loan officer as a career and not a job. With this laser focus, they are willing to go above and beyond to CREATE a situation of success instead of crying in their spilled milk claiming "it's not fair."

The passionate ones will be successful no matter WHO they work for. They are the ones who still read and research even after hours. Passion will drive you to move forward no matter what.

2- Focus on others.

This quality is required if you want long term success. Sure there are a lot of people who are only focused on screwing over every last client they come in contact with, and they make a lot of money doing it. Eventually, your past deeds will catch up to you. If you want to create a "buzz" and high level of chat about you and your services, there is no finer way to accomplish this than approaching each sales situation with a genuine desire to HELP your client.

By eliminating "commission breath" from the picture, we shine through as genuine, trustworthy individuals who are also referral-worthy. Despite popular belief, no amount of charisma, NLP, or sales hypnosis will mask a thorough screw-job at the closing table! People can see through the fakeness of someone who is only motivated by money.

3- "YOU" packaging

I get emails from posters on this board sometimes asking why I ask so many questions to those who are asking for sales and marketing help. I'm told I should just come right out and tell people what they should do, and be done with it. Well, there's a reason I do this. That reason is listed above. YOU packaging is just a funny name for a simple concept.

Top producers all understand this concept. Top producers understand that YOU are the product! Not your company, not your loan programs, not your rates and not your closing costs. YOU are.

Once we understand this we need to begin treating ourselves like the feature product. In other words, we need to package ourselves, and spend time developing ourselves. Imagine if one of the mortgage companies you broker for called you up and said: Hey, in order to serve our brokers better, we are allowing you to customize some of the plans. Tell us what rates you want to offer, what credit scores will qualify etc. Anything goes, you want it, you'll have it..."

How many of us would jump all over this opportunity like mad men, trying our best to create the ultimate product? Yet, there is a much more powerful solution available to us and it seems to get neglected by 95% of the originators out there. Becoming a student of your career, and spending time and money to invest in the most powerful product we have to offer (ourselves) will move lo's to the top of the heap faster and more decisively than any "super-loan."

4- Referral/ duplication of effort

No matter how many people tell you "Don't work with realtors," or "avoid builders," etc, don't listen to them. All top producers understand that duplication of effort is needed to grow. If technology is all we needed (as some will have you believe) then all companies would be running and thriving with nothing more than sophisticated computer programs.

Nope, you absolutely MUST have others out there that are telling people how wonderful and great you are. Every referral partner you team up with works like a mini- sales employee spreading the word. Nothing can grow your business faster than a raving fan that is excited to be working with you. There are so many groups to choose from: realtors, builders, CFP's, CPA's, Divorce attorneys, etc. Choose one or two groups and stick with them. Learn everything you can about adding value to your new team mates, and expect the same devotion in return. If it's not reciprocated, fire the individual and hire one who can.

5- Database

All top producers maintain a well worked database of SOI, former clients and future clients. Without a good database follow-up system in place, you will constantly spend time and money recreating new clients. This will eventually burn you out, or eat into your ROI to the point that you wonder why you even bother (yes, I was there at one point... lol. Effective database marketing will eventually rival any form of advertising and marketing you may do, except for the fact that the clients that come from your database are primarily returning clients or associates! Warm leads vs. cold leads... Hmmmm...

6- Niche focus

You have to be exceptional at something. When others say, "Wow I sure could use ________" you want everyone's eyes to light up and say " Go see __________, he's the best at ________." (Don't you love my spaces?)

Having a niche specialty allows you to focus your creative energy. Like it or not, we are only human and absolutely cannot afford the mental energy and time required to be great at everything. It spreads us too thin, and we end up being mediocre. Focus on what you want to be great at, and make sure everyone knows this is your specialty...

7- Do!

Finally, top producers are not talkers, but doers. There are plenty of sharp people out there, many of them with great ideas. Yet many of them are starving because they can never seem to get past the stage of "research." You know the kind, they are always telling you about the latest and greatest marketing plan, or idea that they will be implementing next week or month. There are thousands of these types out there, but only a handful of those that actually decide to move forward and excuse the phrase, "just do it." Ahhh, the true nature of the entrepreneur! Now, what will you "do" today to move your career in the right direction?

Chad Weber Average Joe LO

Average Joe L.O. provides hype free marketing products for loan officers who target real estate agents. If this is your target, you need to visit today to take advantage of additional free training materials.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Design Better Powerpoint

Writen by Kevin Potts

In my line of work, I find myself constantly producing PowerPoint presentations. Sometimes these are just individual slides (like a diagram or case study), sometimes they are templates, and sometimes they are whole, individual presentations. Most of my PowerPoint work is completed at my day job where I am an in-house designer, but my freelancing alter ego occasionally comes across a client needing some presentational pick-up. Over the years, I have built and edited hundreds of PowerPoint files.

I know a lot of people think PowerPoint is the devil incarnate, but in the corporate world, it is an ubiquitous evil. To shake some of the negative stereotypes, I apply traditional design principals to make my company and clients look better than the competition.

We go to 120 trade shows a year, and we present at every single one. We also use Macromedia's Breeze for hundreds of online demos. Our PowerPoint is often the first thing a potential customer will see from us, so it is critical (and easy) to make a good impression before they even receive a brochure.

PowerPoint is used by nearly sales guy on the planet, with a whole industry of accessories built around the presentation guru / road warrior concept. It is employed for downloadable or live web demos, and it is even used (or abused, depending on your point of view) to pass along copy, concepts and notes between internal team members. With this volume of use, PowerPoint slide design becomes just another facet of a company's identity program.

From Chuck's Neighborhood PeeCee Warehouse to Apple Computer, the local cafe with the amazing bagels to Starbucks Coffee, every business benefits from a unique identity, a look and feel that separates them from competition. The company logo is only a small part. Corporate colors, type treatments, illustration styles and repeated graphic elements are all parts of the greater whole. This identity is carried through to stationary, trade show graphics, packaging, advertising and yes, PowerPoint.

The software has become so ubiquitous that I consider it part of a greater paradigm shift in mainstream communication. The only problem is that this evolution is hindering communication. Like text messaging or 200-pixel banner ads, the information is compressed to a set of key buzzwords, crippling the message by stripping the skeleton of any meat. Bullet points become rapid-fire metadata. I give you the words "purple" and "fish" -- you figure out what I am trying to say.

* Leverage your existing technology
* Realize rapid ROI
* Streamlined implementation

Is about as meaningful as:

* Parsed cabbage flux capacitor
* Disco glitter manifestation
* Expressive giraffe BLT

Maybe a hundred years ago those phrases denoted something, but by sheer repetition and abuse, the PowerPoint generation has crushed the meaning like 200,000 people at a Stones concert trampling through a flower garden.

In the same way a good logo supports a successful identity program, good PowerPoint transcends half-assed bullet points and reinforces the speaker -- their personality, message and purpose. It doesn't recycle the same, tired messaging over and over. Not only does it look awesome, good PowerPoint hammers home the presenter's message with unique phrasing, interesting design elements and a certain disregard for the status quo bullshit buzz-speak.

All the flashy backgrounds, painstaking animations and intense clipart research are for nothing if the message has been gutted from the shell. So while I "design" PowerPoint, I design for the audience because I am focused on how they will react to the information.

Kevin Potts is a successful freelance designer and is the webmaster of Blogging Articles and

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Presenting Facts To Decision Makers

Writen by Lance Winslow

All too often in presentations those giving a presentation to the decision-makers will in fact talk too much. The decision-makers have summoned the presenters to discuss with them their proposal to help solve a problem of the decision-makers. The decision maker or decision-makers did not call upon the presenters to give them a three-hour lecture on every single aspect of the situation or scenario.

The decision-makers are well aware of all aspects of the situation and have only asked for certain information. Overloading or confusing the issue will not help the presenter's case and it often upsets the decision-makers because they feel their time is being wasted.

I always found it amazing as the CEO of my company that people giving me presentations and advice would assume that I am an idiot. In fact, often the more I listen to the presenters I would become disgusted on how little they really knew and how their opinions were based on nonfactual information and limited knowledge of the subject. This use upset me that I was going to be paying so much money for someone that knew so little.

Sometimes I got to the point that I would tell him exactly what I wanted. Tell them I don't want them to think just do exactly what I say and do not deviate at all. If you are giving a presentation to a decision maker and they say something similar to that, then it is because you talk too much. Please consider all this in 2006.

"Lance Winslow" - Online Think Tank forum board. If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

Monday, February 23, 2009

Please Allow Me To Introduce

Writen by Ty Boyd

Too few people are introduced effectively when giving a speech or a presentation. I always advise speakers to write their own intros. It's sometimes the only commercial you will get.

Additionally, I instruct them to print reading instructions on the page with the intro. Simply say, "Please read as written." Funny thing, when we have that instruction on the intro, people will work so much harder to do it well – and just the way you have written it. It beats some clown saying, "Well, here's an old buddy-buddy of mine. Never dreamed we'd be paying him to tell us anything about this subject. Let's give a warm welcome to this fool!"

Being the introducer requires that we create an atmosphere of mutual respect between the audience and the speaker. We need to answer several questions: Why this speaker? At this time? For this audience and at this place? As a speaker you know how much better the event goes when these questions are answered.

Here are some pointers: - You are the stage setter.

- Create an inviting environment.

- Do your homework.

- Be really interested in the speaker and subject. Show it.

- Unless the speaker is a celebrity, use his or her name several times. Audiences forget.

- Be a little bit on the gossipy side. Make the introduction sound like a novel not a textbook. Be sure to answer the audience's unasked question, "What's in it for me?"

- Never introduce a female as "Mrs. John Smith" or in a sexist way.

- When you make an introduction, speak to the audience, not to the person being introduced.

- Do not upstage or over praise.

- While you are on stage, you are the captain of the ship. Don't leave the center spot until the speaker has arrived. Welcome the speaker with a handshake, nod, smile, or slight touch on the shoulder, and then exit. It's now his or her show.

- Model good listening.

- Lead the applause. Model the behavior you would expect from the audience.

You may not be compensated for simply introducing a speaker, but the more proficiency you display on the platform, the more desirable you become as a total package.

Ty Boyd, CEO of Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, is in the Broadcast Hall of Fame and the Speakers Hall of Fame. He has taught presentation skills to Fortune 1000 executives in more than 40 countries. His Excellence In Speaking Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2005.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Do You Make Sure Your Elevator Speech Hits The Mark

Writen by Lorraine Howell

The "elevator speech" has become the essential tool for savvy business owners, entrepreneurs, and other professionals who use networking and building relationships as key strategies in their marketing efforts. You have only one chance to make a good first impression. A great elevator speech is the key to starting the conversation.

When someone asks you the introductory question "What do you do?" you have approximately 15-20 seconds – or the length of a non-stop elevator ride in a 40-story high rise building – to say something that will generate interest in the other person, so they ask you follow up questions about what you do.

It sounds simple enough. You just have to create a short pithy statement that compels people to ask more about you or your business.

So how do you do this? You start by asking a few key questions and your elevator speech begins to emerge within the answers to these key questions.

The first question is "Who is your audience?" Identify your target audience and what is important to them. Your target audience is the same as your target market or ideal customers. Who do you want to work with or who would want to buy from you? Dig beneath the surface and be specific about your target market. If you are not clear on whom you are trying to reach, your message will be muddled.

Is there an ideal industry, business type, group, socioeconomic status, location, hobby, or other factor that describes your best customers? If your target market is a business, what is the company's profile, number of employees, annual revenue? Where is the business in its growth cycle?

The next question to answer is "What do they care about?" What are the day-to-day concerns or issues faced by your target market? What is their point of pain that you can address? By the way, the question is NOT "What do YOU think they should care about?" Put yourself in their shoes and think about it from their point of view. The more you understand the situation from their perspective, the more likely you are to hit the mark with your elevator speech.

Once you have identified your target audience and their concerns, you can turn your attention to your product or service. Answer this question: "What value/results/benefits do you provide?" Before you answer, look at the question again. I am asking what do you do, NOT how do you do it? And that small distinction changes your approach to an elevator speech.

More often than not, people launch into a detailed explanation about how they work or how their product is put together. They are confusing the process with the results. When people ask "what do you do?" what they are really asking is "what can you do for me?" So tell them about the results or benefits they can expect from your product or service.

And finally, answer this question: "What spins your jets about what you do?" People like to work with professionals who demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for their work. Consider this your "secret sauce." It's the zest and energy that will immediately attract people and move them to ask more questions.

The answers to these four questions provide the foundation to a memorable elevator speech. I have created a proven process of delving into these questions in more detail, plus six more relevant questions that help you uncover a powerful elevator speech in my new book Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift! The book is available now at or on my site at

Lorraine Howell owns Media Skills Training where she teaches business owners, CEO's, and management teams to speak with confidence and impact in an enjoyable and down-to-earth way. Sign up for Lorraine's FREE e-tips and also receive her FREE 5 Steps to Start a New Business Conversation (& Get Results, Too!)" by visiting her website at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Express Yourself How To Conduct A Seminar Part I

Writen by Sangeetha S. Naik

Conducting a seminar is a great way to communicate your ideas or introduce new technologies. It is useful to know some guidelines when you have to conduct a seminar. I understood the importance of this both as a attendee and a presenter myself.

Preparing your presentation

A successful seminar is the result of careful preparation of your speech and your presentation material. Here is how you can do it.

Research your subject

If you are called to speak on a topic, probably thats because you are already have some knowledge of it. Even so, you need to reference from at least 2 different books. This helps you address and include points you have not thought about. It also helps you determine a flow for the seminar.

Preparing the presentation

Include a presentation. Presentations help the audience to understand the underlying points that the speaker has to say especially if the subject is rather vague.

The presentation should have an Introduction and a conclusion. The introduction can include a summary of the topic and a brief overview of what the speaker will be saying for the rest of the duration of the seminar.

The speaker should determine how long the seminar will take and accordingly create the presentation slides. Thumb of rule is approximately 2-3 minutes per slide if the speaker intends to skim through the slides quickly. And around 5 minutes per slide if the speaker intends to explain the slides with small examples. For example, if the seminar is supposed to be 40 minutes long, there should be around 16 slides if the speaker intends to quickly skim the contents of the slide.

Make sure the content has a ``flow'' to it. By flow I mean that the content that comes later can depend on the content which comes in first, but not the other way around. This is a common mistake. The speaker tends to explains a point that should have come in later, in the beginning itself. This tends to confuse the attendees because they have not gained enough insight into the topic to be able to grasp the new information.

The Look and feel of the presentation is extremely important. Avoid too flashy and too plain presentations. A presentation with extraordinary text effects look naive and detracts from the importance of what the speaker has to say.

At the same time, avoid plain presentations as the attendees perceive that the speaker has probably not prepared enough. Use well designed presentation templates which are freely available or at a low cost. The text size of primary points should be uniform as far as possible. Secondary points should have a smaller font size to show its reduced significance. Secondary points are indented under primary points.

Include pictures or graphs instead of text wherever possible. Management Guru CK Prahalad, in a seminar on India's innovation possibilities, explained the efficacy of the Jaipur Foot in a picture that showed a physically challenged person running with the Jaipur foot. Though the audience had already heard about the Foot, they were visibly amazed and touched as they saw the picture.

The way text is arranged on the presentation slides is also important. Speakers sometimes make the mistake of putting up points and their respective explanations also. Not only does this practice increase the number of slides, but it is a sure shot way to lull the audience into sleep. So thumb of rule is to use minimum text, and make sure whatever text you put up is a point, not an explanation of a point. If you intend to give out detailed points for reference, do not include them in the slide. It just makes them cluttered and anyway the audience just cannot keep up with the stream of points you list out to them during the seminar. Use handouts instead for such points.

It is very important to include within the seminar content, examples and case studies. Examples illustrate the speaker's point in a more interesting way which the audience is immediately able to relate to. Examples and case studies have the power to touch an audience, relate to similar experiences and thereby be eager to learn more. Sometimes small jokes too make the seminar livelier.


The speaker should prepare handouts as well, especially if the audience is small. Handouts will contain all main points of the seminar as well as those detailed points which cannot be included in the seminar slides but are useful for reference later. Include within the handout, a list of any reference books used to prepare for the seminar. This helps the audience to read or followup on the same topic later.

Listen to your voice

The speaker should listen to his seminar using a Dictaphone( or tape recorder) and play it back. It is possible to immediately detect the parts of the seminar that could be corrected or which don't sound right. If the seminar sounds interesting to the speaker, chances are that others would also feel so.

During the seminar

Once the seminar is prepared, relax!! Most of the work is done.

List out your seminar itinerary The speaker should make sure that the audience knows how long this is going to take. Give a brief idea on the important aspects of your speech so that the audience is aware where they are during the seminar. Then start with an introduction. Many people fail to give out a decent introduction before they delve into the subject, perhaps because they want to be quickly done with the main parts. An introduction helps bring people into sync with the subject. The speaker can also emphasize the benefit the audience will get by hearing the seminar out. It would be something like this "The topic I am going to speak today is about xxxxxx and through this I hope you will be able to gain yyyyyy."

Style of speaking

The speaker's voice should reach everyone, especially if it is a large audience and if there is no adequate sound system. Not able to clearly hear is probably the first way to lose interest. Similarly the seating should be such where everyone can easily see the speaker and the presentation.

The speaker should be relaxed and should be able to casually bring out examples of as many points he is taking. Examples have the power to immediately make the audience understand the point and be in sync with the speaker.

Speaker's attention has to be on the audience. The speaker can probably glance occasionally at the presentation, but remember to make eye contact as often as possible.

The general thumb rule in a seminar is for the audience to understand the subject first before asking questions Interactions can be initiated after the seminar. But during the seminar the speaker is the one who has to be strictly speaking. While an interactive seminar may seem more lively for the speaker, in fact it is lively only for the speaker and for the person who is asking questions. Others immediately lose interest. So in the interest of the larger audience, the speaker has to make sure he does not lose grip over the audience even for a minute. That means avoiding asking audiences questions during the seminar or encouraging discussions during the seminar.

So how do people ask questions. They should do it after the seminar during a Question answer session. Any questions they have during the seminar should be written down by the audience and asked after the seminar. The speaker could make these rules clear to the audience prior to starting with the seminar.

After the seminar

After the seminar is over, there could be a question answer session where audience can ask questions. As the audience is more aware of the subject now and not burdened with their own questions, they can easily understand the replies to other questions.

Now the speaker could try to get feedback from the audience about your seminar. Of course this applies only if the seminar is conducted within a company or among people who will come back for more seminars. The speaker should try to understand if the subject was interesting to the audience and in particular "useful" to them or their department. This way it is possible to understand whether to continue to build on the details of the same or similar subjects in your next seminar.

In Poornam's Development department, we conduct feedback sessions after every seminar to know whether the topic is useful for further implementation within the department. This way we were able to include JAD (Joint Application Development) and Inspection Review methods to our processes. The seminar became an extremely useful method to increase the knowledge level of staff and to improve our processes also. If the feedback session wasn't there, probably people would have forgotten about the seminar and its uses to the department. Remember the speaker is a powerhouse of information on the topic and that knowledge should not go waste if it is useful to the organization.


Finally ensure that seminars are always are conducted in an organisation. Besides drastically improving kowledge levels, it brings about an understanding of the immensity of the vast unknowns in our profession or for that matter any profession. This in turn eradicates complacancy.

Another surprising benefit of conducting seminars within organisations is the increased confidence levels found in the speakers. Generally once a speaker has conducted a seminar, he rarely stops conducting seminars and goes on to become good enough to speak outside the company to a more general audience.

As complacancy is eradicated, a renewed interest in learning is developed and most speakers turn to writing articles and reading more books. Most importantly, the fresh inflow of new ideas enters the organisation as many of these ideas are implemented. The audience which listens to the seminar already know much of what is spoken and are ready to accept changes brought about by the new systems introduced as a result of the new ideas introduced by the speaker.

All in all, seminars benefit the orgnisation, the audience and most importantly the speaker.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Harnessing Your Presentation Nerves

Writen by Paul Archer

Here's some advice on how to handle nerves whilst speaking in public I was given when I first started out.

Imagine your audience are all sitting on the toilet. That advice only made me chuckle so I couldn't use that. Then I was shown the image of butterflies flying all around your stomach and was told to make sure these butterflies flew in formation, and this was to banish my nerves. Let me tell you butterflies in formation are no much better than butterflies in a free for all. Next I was told to imagine my audience were stark naked and this had a similar result to the toilet.

Finally someone gave me some solid advice. Rename nerves and call it adrenaline. The advice went on to say that you'll never get rid of them; use them to your advantage, since you need adrenaline to do a good job. When I was told this many moons ago it put it all into context.

But you will get nerves or adrenaline flushes before presenting. If you don't then stop speaking in public because you don't care anymore. You need adrenaline as this makes you do your utmost best. Controlling this natural energy is vital. Here's 4 ways of handling the adrenaline to your advantage.

Go Peripheral Vision

Peripheral vision was taught to me a few years ago. Now I've always struggled to have a wide peripheral vision apparently because I'm a man. Women have naturally more powerful peripheral vision and that's just because women's brains are wired differently. My mum always had eyes in the back of her head.

So what does this have to do with adrenaline control? Well, imagine you're up on your stage and feeling a little anxious and energetic. Maybe you're being introduced or you have a natural moment to pause. Focus on a point in front of you and stretch your peripheral vision right down to your ears and imagine these are your extra eyes.

Do this for a few seconds and you will relax. How? The brain is wired so that you cannot consciously process nerves and peripheral vision simultaneously. Clever isn't it? Try it next time, it really does work.

Lubricate your mouth

As a speaker, your voice is by far the most important asset, only second to your body. By the way, PowerPoint comes down very low in priority. Your voice is the vehicle in which the message is given to your audience so make sure it is ready and willing. There are some things you can do beforehand to make your voice sing, but that's the subject of a different article. But what can you do if your mouth is drying up and the water is miles away from where you're standing?

If you have slightly less than a minute available to you, tear a tiny piece of paper millimetres in size, and fold it into a tiny ball. Wedge this in the back of your mouth behind your teeth, so you don't swallow. Make sure no one can see you doing this otherwise they'll think you're taking drugs, and we don't want that do we?

Your mouth now thinks there's something in there and will automatically produce saliva. And that's what you want…to lubricate your mouth at that vital moment. Try it, but do practise first, it does work.

Taking a Slurp

On the subject of dry mouths, the next tip was given to me about 10 years ago by a chap called Frank. Now Frank was from the East End of London and had a wonderful gritty accent. Now when Frank got lost or wanted to check his notes, he would call out to the audience that he wanted a "slurp". Off he went to the side of the room where he kept his bottle of water and glass. He would make a song and dance over opening the bottle and fizzy was best. It made a loud psst when it was opened and he poured the water vigorously into his glass and took a couple a big slugs. All of this was done very dramatically and sure enough, many of the audience would copy if they had water in front of them.

Meanwhile Frank could have a good look at his notes to see where he was and to settle down any nerves he might have had. Very clever.

Whilst on the subject of notes, you should have them. Not a script of your speech but something containing bullets or reminders of what to say next. Now Frank would never hold onto his notes as that stilted his body language and use of gestures. Care with using PowerPoint as your notes, many people do it. If you do this you'll end up having a slide for every single part of your presentation since they are your notes. You'll end up being accused of "Death by PowerPoint" and you don't want that.

Visualise to Success

My final tip for you to overcome your nerves or ensure they're channelled to assist you not hinder you is major dollops of visualisation. Now this is not new at all and many sport stars use this to increase their success.

Mohammed Ali was perhaps the greatest champion of visualisation. He called it Future History and would predict the result of all his fights. And he got it right many more times than he got it wrong. "Ashley Moore, I'll have you down in four" And he did.

You see the way the brain is wired ensures that if you visualise and imagine an event in your head and if you do this strongly enough. I mean really intensely. Colour, movement, panoramic views, sounds, people, laughter and you part of it, then the brain will eventually believe it to be true.

So next time you have a big speech coming up. Play a movie in your head of it all going very well indeed. Maybe even a standing ovation. Go on really pump up the success in the movie. Only you know it's there.

Paul is an international speaker, trainer, author and coach based in the UK. He specialises in rapport selling and rapport sales management and can ignite his audiences large or small. Rapport selling gets more results. Get your Ebook Presentation Excellence at and sign up to our regular EZine of sales and management tips.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Handling Questions With Authority

Writen by George Torok

At some point in your presentation you will be expected to answer questions from your audience. They might have some burning questions that need to be answered before they buy into your message. Handling their questions with authority can make the difference for you between a successful presentation and a waste of time. This is the opportunity for the audience to test your knowledge on the topic and commitment to your message.

1. Explain at which points during the presentation you will take questions and how individuals will be recognized to speak. Point out the microphones they should use. State the rules that must be followed to ask questions.

2. Prepare how you will answer questions - especially the worst questions. Imagine how confident you will look when they hit you with the killer question - the question that is intended to skewer you to the wall. Instead you smile and calmly respond with a positive answer. Craft and rehearse the answers to these difficult questions before the presentation.

3. Maintain control of the questioning. Formally recognize the questioner before they speak and limit the number of questions. Allow only one person to speak at a time.

4. When listening to the question look at the questioner while moving away to include the whole group. Paraphrase the question for the group. State your answer to the group. Beware of answering only to the questioner.

5. Kick start the question period with, "A question I am often asked is, …".Then answer your 'question'. This helps to prime the pump and encourages others to ask questions.

6. If you don't know the answer offer, "I don't know the answer to that question but give me your card and I will get back to you." Beware! You can only do this once or twice. Anymore and you will look dumb.

7. If you can't answer a question but know that someone in the audience may know ask, "I know there are experts in the audience, how would they answer this question?" Only do this if you know there are experts in your audience.

8. When you get the person who strongly disagrees with you and refuses to shut up, respond, "Thank you for your opinion, I know there are different schools of thought on this issue - I am telling you what has worked for me."

9. Avoid repeating, "Thank you that's a good question." after every question - the questions might not be good, and the audience will see through your insincerity.

10. Never end your presentation with a question period and closing with 'no more questions? Well that's all'. That is a weak close. Instead always finish with a closing statement that will resonate with the audience and reinforce your message.

Bonus tip: Plant the question you most want to hear. Before the program begins, ask someone sitting near the back to 'pose' the question on your signal.

Any questions? Contact George Torok, "The Speech Coach for Executives", to deliver powerful presentations and handle questions with authority.

About The Author

© George Torok delivers inspirational keynotes and practical seminars. He specializes in presentation skills, creative problem solving and personal marketing. You can arrange for George to work with your people by calling 905-335-1997. For more information and to receive free tips on presentation skills and personal marketing visit and

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

3 Tips For Giving More Powerful Presentations

Writen by Larry M. Lynch


"Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it" said Joseph Pulitzer. This neatly sums up writing and giving a presentation. Let's look at three ways you can use to help you give more powerful presentations.

1. Use the "Rule of Three"

Your presentation should be divided into these three distinctive parts:

• The opening

Here you establish rapport with your audience and introduce your topic. The opening should be more than 5% to 10% of your presentation length. The opening should also give three main points coming up in your presentation.

• The main body

Your topic information is provided here. Your three main points are discussed using no more than three minor points for each main point. This should take up no more than 70% of your presentation time. For a one hour presentation, for example, it would run about 40 minutes.

• The conclusion

A strong, unifying conclusion or summary is very important. This is where you briefly reiterate your main points and their respective values. Your conclusion is the part of your presentation that most attendees will remember best. Make it count. You'll need about 10% of your presentation time to effect a good conclusion to your presentation.

2. Keep Your Presentation Short

It was none other than Winston Churchill himself who got up to speak, walked to the podium, and said, "Never, never, never, never give up." He turned around, walked back to his seat and sat down. The thunderous applause that followed went on far longer than his speech had. It is remembered to this day.

Time your presentation to take a little LESS time than you've been allowed. Hardly anyone has ever complained about a presentation that was shorter than expected. On the other hand, if it runs longer than expected …

3. Use Appropriate Anecdotes and Humor

There really a number of ways you can successfully incorporate appropriate quotes, anecdotes and humor into your public speaking. A little laughter never hurt anyone, and once you get a rapport with your audience, your presentation is bound to be a successful one. Try some of these possibilities:

• A comic strip panel (especially one which imparts its humor without using words)

• A Cartoon or humorous video clip (a short digital video clip of a few seconds can easily be inserted into a Power Point or other audio-visual presentation program slide)

• A couple of well-placed jokes (if you don't have a good source for jokes, there are lots of sources online)

• Use humorous graphics or funny photos to help illustrate a theme or point

• Humorous anecdotes are always popular and can be found online and in printed publications alike. Be a good sport though, and be sure to include your source.

• Humorous quote sources and humor websites abound on the internet and finding two or three appropriate ones to use will be time well spent.

Use these four key tips to help ensure a more powerful, successful presentation. You'll find that your presentations will flow more smoothly, be more concise and informative and involve your audience more. With practice then, you too will have more attendees approaching after your presentation to shake your hand and say, "Thanks, I really enjoyed your presentation." As for the others, the thunderous applause of the audience will wake them up.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is a bi-lingual copywriter, expert author and photographer specializing in business, travel, food and education-related writing in South America. His work has appeared in Transitions Abroad, South American Explorer, Escape From America, Mexico News and Brazil magazines. Free details of his 5-week online course "Develop a Specialty and Get Published on the Web for Fun, Fame or Fortune" and more tips on article writing, public speaking, and mental skills development are online at:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Becoming High Voltage Communicators

Writen by Randy Siegel

Most of us are operating at less than full power, and we're not even aware of it. Something is missing from our lives and we aren't sure what it is.

When we operate at full power, our lives are richer because we live with authenticity, connection, meaning, service, and serenity. We are powered by passion that is grounded in love and not driven by fear-based anxiety. Service and love become our primary motivations rather than self-aggrandizement.

When we do the work of authentically packaging, promoting, and presenting ourselves we create a strong sense of identity, purpose, and self-esteem. We become what I call "high voltage communicators." But identity, purpose, and self-esteem alone cannot ensure that we stand in our power.

To operate at full power and become "high voltage leaders," we must consciously and consistently choose Self over ego. David Richo, Ph.D., in his book Unexpected Miracles: The Gift of Synchronicity and How to Open It, offers this distinction between ego and Self, "…the ego is our capability of light, and Self is the light."

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung called the Self the "God archetype" within us, while the ego is the center of our conscious rational life or the bearer of our personality. When functional and happy, the ego helps us achieve our goals in life. When dysfunctional, it becomes inflated and its main objective becomes to save F.A.C.E.: Fear, Attachment, Control, and Entitlement, according to Dr. Richo.

To be at our full power we must shape ego so that it serves Self. To choose Self over ego requires:

1. Focused attention
2. Unconditional acceptance
3. Inspired action.

Let's examine each.

Focused attention asks us to seek the high road and choose love over fear and service over Self. It requires us to examine our intention before beginning any transaction. Before I speak to a group, I ask myself, "Am I doing this to serve my audience, or am I doing this to gain applause?"

The Law of Attraction teaches us that what we focus upon, we manifest; what we focus upon expands. This is why living a life full of appreciation, gratitude, and love becomes so important. Every night before I go to bed, I recount three things, people, or situations from my day for which I am grateful.

Unconditional acceptance requires us to trust in the Divine Order of life. We do this by practicing trust, patience, and surrender. We don't hold on to outcomes, and we unconditionally accept the "what is." Paul Ferrini in his wonderful little book The Ecstatic Moment writes, "All suffering results from your refusal to accept and bless your life just the way it is now."

Paul Ferrini reminds us that when we practice unconditional acceptance, we say to ourselves:

I embrace the givens of life: beginnings and endings, aloneness, change, unfairness, unpredictability, and sometimes being given more than I can handle.
I open myself to every transformation that is ready to happen in and through me.
I respect the right of others to question or reject my path.
I drop the need for certainty; I am comfortable with ambiguity.

Finally, inspired action asks us to flow not fight. It requires us to listen to our intention and act upon inspiration. Inspiration can come from hunches, synchronicities, life events, physical sensations and illnesses, emotions, dreams, and other people; so we need to stay attuned to all these signs to assure that we're on the spiritual path. I find that when I'm feeling good I am on track.

If we find ourselves off track, we can look at what emotional blocks, doubts, fears, attachments, and negative mind talk might be in our way. If we are clear, then we can trust that our higher power has something in mind that is better for us and the world (back to unconditional acceptance).

We cannot employ these three strategies once and consider our work done. Instead we are called to practice them every time we make a critical decision or interaction. We are called to consciously choose the spiritual path every day and every moment of our lives.

When we authentically package, promote, and present ourselves we create a strong sense of identity, purpose, and self-esteem; we become high voltage communicators. But when we team identity, purpose, and self-esteem with consciously choosing Self over ego, we become high voltage leaders and stand in our full power, becoming the full expression of all that we are.

"The Career Engineer," Randy Siegel, helps clients electrify their careers and transform their lives by becoming high voltage communicators™. Power up and subscribe to "Stand in Your Power!" his complimentary monthly eNewsletter at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Create A Graph A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Numbers

Writen by Dee Reavis

You have data! The problem is to pull meaning out of it. The data has no value if you can't understand it.

The solution is to visualize that data. One of the simplest ways to do just that is with graphs. Graphs have a way of letting you see the big picture that is hidden within the mass of numbers.

Types Of Graphs

There are several types of graphs. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. The following list shows the more common graphs with their pros and cons:

Pros Cons

Line Graphs Great for seeing trends and seasonality in data. Not good with small amounts of data.

Pie Graphs Good for showing the percentage of the whole. One trick pony! No other uses.

Bar Graphs Better with small amounts of data. Not good with large amounts of data.

Uses For Graphs

Graphs have an amazingly wide number of uses. Some of these are listed below:

  1. Show trend over time.
  2. Illustrates data seasonality.
  3. A visual indicator of volatility.
  4. A predictor of future results.
  5. What portion each part is of the whole.
  6. A means of making comparisons between multiple sets of data.
  7. Shows when a preset standard is being met.
  8. Provides a starting point for regression analysis.
  9. Initial analysis for curve fitting.
  10. Helps visualize the relationship between two or more variables.
  11. Simplifies reporting.
  12. Identifies opportunities.

The Language Of Graphs

Graphs have a set of vocabulary that is necessary to know to fully understand their meaning. Most of the terms used come right out of your algebra textbook. If you know algebra, then you probably already know theses terms. If you don't know algebra then you need to learn these terms and their definitions.

X - It is common practice to call the horizontal values x.
Y - The vertical values are referred to as the y values.
X-axis - This is the horizontal line which separates the y positive values from the y negative values.
Y-axis - This is the vertical line which separates the x positive values from the x negative values. Slope - This is simply the slant of the graph. A positive value says the graph is rising. A negative value says the graph is falling.
Variables - These are the two part values consisting of a dependent variable and an independent variable. An example might be a graph of monthly expenses. The x variable is the month and the y variable is the expense. A data point might be February for $3000. When March comes along, the value might be $2500.

How To Create A Graph

It used to be necessary to have graph paper to create a graph. Now we have computers. Spreadsheets, specifically Excel, are often used to create computer graphs. Online resources are available to create your graph and even print it on your own printer. These resources are shown below.


When you create a graph you have made your data visual. When it is visual, it is much more comprehensible to the human mind. You have transformed your data into something that communicates meaning more clearly.

Dee Reavis has spent his career analyzing business situations to find the lowest cost methods of doing business. Graphing resources can be found at Create A Graph, Make A Line Graph and Make A Pie Graph.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Close Deals In Record Time

Writen by Cavyl Stewart

Remember back when the ability to create a slide show presentation using PowerPoint was cutting-edge technology? PowerPoint presentations changed the way that companies and seminars did business. It was easy to take along your presentation material; just grab your laptop and go. Sound and visual effects, fancy screen designs, bulleted features – presentations had it all.

Everybody had a PowerPoint presentation. Those who didn't use this type of presentation material really felt the pressure to conform. Plus it wasn't difficult to see how bored their audiences were becoming with nothing visual to hold their attention.

When the technology bubble burst a few years back, and the after-effects of 911 dealt a serious blow to the economy, business travel budgets became practically non-existent. At the same time, globalization was becoming the new buzzword. To stay in business and be better able to conduct business globally, more and more companies developed websites. Other advances in technology helped reign in and at the same time expand the global marketplace.

Today, slide show presentations still are valuable sales and marketing tools used by all types of large, small and even home-based businesses. They're also a favorite of anyone giving a seminar.

In an effort to keep up with today's fast pace of business and its global nature, many marketing departments are realizing the benefits of emailing their slide show presentations. That's right. Presentations that used to be viewed primarily in a room full of marginally-interested decision makers can now be directly posted on a website or delivered via email instantaneously to the right person. Viewing PowerPoint presentations sent via email is as easy as reading your email. But it's even better because you get sound and animation, too.

Using a powerful conversion program called PowerConverter, you can quickly convert your PowerPoint 2000, XP or 2003 slides to browser-friendly Flash. Simply install this software, push a button and save the presentation as a .SWF or a .EXE file.

Select .SWF file formats for fast streaming viewing on a web site. Save as a .EXE and the conversion will include the Flash viewer as well as the presentation. That way, those receiving the file won't need any additional software to view it. This format is great for distributing smaller, self-running CD-ROMs.

No longer do you have to wait forever to get your marketing materials into the hands of the right person. No longer do you have to worry that your marketing materials will be out of date before those you are sending it to even have a chance to look at it. Files can be instantly updated, saving businesses time and money – the two most important things that a business needs to stay competitive.

Plus, there's no need to worry that the picture clarity will diminish after the conversion process, even as the slide show presentation is compressed by as much as 97%! You do have an option to improve the picture quality should you need it. Just note that this will increase the size of your file.

PowerConverter is available in three different versions, each optimized for a different version of PowerPoint. There's the lite version optimized for PowerPoint 97. PowerConverter 2000 is optimized for PowerPoint 2000 and the XP version of PowerConverter is optimized for PowerPoint 2002, XP and 2003.

Remember, for your business to survive, you've got to always stay one step ahead of your competition. The folks over at PresentationPro understand this. They had the foresight to develop a product that could take PowerPoint 2000 presentation materials to the next level. If you're not already taking advantage of this impressive slide show conversion technology, don't wait any longer.

Copyright © 2004 Cavyl Stewart. Get the most out of the software you use everyday. Check out the add-in software directory for more information on PowerConverter and other great time saving PowerPoint add-in tools. Visit: - Also, be sure to check out my Exclusive, 100% free, 100% original content ecourses.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Taking The Stage

Writen by Ellen Dunnigan

When you are introduced, "take the stage" by walking to the podium or center stage purposefully, quickly, and with your head held high. Pause a few seconds, smile brightly, and then move to the left or right of center stage, out from behind the podium just one or two steps.

These deliberate movements tell the audience, "I'm glad to be here. I'm prepared, credible, and confident. You are going to enjoy my presentation!"

Emphasize Key Points

When you are about to make an important point, step forward with one, slightly-longer-than-normal, step. Walking, but not pacing, can also help emphasize a lengthy and important idea. It must be "intentional" and important to the message. Simply take a few steps and at slight angles.

Throughout your remarks, your audience takes cues from your movements. As you make transitions between segments, move fairly slowly sideways away from your visual aids or props and toward your initial starting location. Returning to a position standing next to the podium (or at your initial starting point) tells the audience you are starting a new concept or idea. When you finish an important point or conclude a section of your speech, step backwards one or two steps.

Engage Your Audience

Watch what happens to your audience when you move in this manner. They will take visual clues from you and without thinking, respond positively to your movement.

As you step forward they are likely to sit upright in more of an "interested learner" posture. As you step back, or return to your starting point, the subliminal clue will tell your audience to relax from the "interested learner" posture, resting before your next point.

Avoid Unnecessary Movement

There are specific reasons to move and specific reasons not to move:

• Don't pace back and forth between the podium and your props or visual aids. This indicates an inability to control your environment. People will focus on your movement instead of your message.

• Stay in one location until you have a reason to move

• Don't pace left and right the width of your audience. This is highly distracting and tells the audience you are trying to burn off nervous energy.

• Don't stand in front of your visual aids or props. If you are using more than one aid, place the other(s) either at stage left or stage right. Make it easy for your audience to use your visual aids in support of your message.

• Don't face your visual aids. Direct your message to your important guests. Turning around impedes the flow of sound and often causes audience members to miss your point.

Keeping your movements purposeful keeps your audience's attention. An audience that remembers you and your message... What could be better than that?

Accent On Business founder and CEO Ellen Dunnigan is a nationally-recognized and proven coach with specialized training in voice, speech, and English improvement. She holds a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology and has been certified as clinically competent by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

In addition, she has spent several years in corporate settings as an operations leader and strategist. Ms. Dunnigan has devoted 17 years to helping people improve their personal and professional voice and speaking skills. For more information go to: