Remember what you’re going to say?

How do you remember what you’re going to say? If you’re giving a talk or a presentation, how do you remember what to say? Can you memorise a couple of hours worth of material, or do you have a clever way of reminding yourself what you need to cover?

I usually start by writing out what I want to say, in long hand – or the typed version. Then I go through it and highlight the key words or phrases that will remind me what I’ll be talking about as I go through the session. They get marked with a highlighter pen or put in bold. After that I usually create a postcard for each section of the talk, with the keywords written on them. I take the cards with me and put them somewhere that I can see them, where they won’t distract my audience. I’ve been using this technique for many years, since I learnt it at Toastmasters (a great place to start to learn about public speaking, by the way.) Most of the time the postcards work quite well, but I have to make sure I don’t put so much onto each one, or the writing gets too small. Which means that I can’t always get enough onto the card to remind me of everything I want to cover.

And then I learnt a great new technique! It was at the monthly session of a peer to peer group I belong to, called MD2MD. Our speaker, David Hyner, taught us this great new way of remembering stuff. He read out a list of about 20 words and on their own, none of us could remember beyond the first three or four. Then he had us attach an emotion to each word – joy, fear or love. When he read out the list again, I started to see the words as pictures – things I knew or had seen somewhere else recently; things that made me laugh or smile at. Being a visual person anyway, this really brought the list of words to life and all of a sudden I could remember them, like a story. When we were asked if anyone would like to have a go at remembering the whole list, I volunteered. I scored 20 out of 20 and won a bar of chocolate for my efforts!

To prove that this wasn’t a fluke, I decided to try out the technique when I got home. I was due to give a 30 minute presentation the next morning at a networking event. I got out my coloured pens and a sheet of card. I looked through the presentation that I’d already typed out and turned the highlighted words into colourful images. Now, each section of my talk was represented by a picture!

The following morning I took my pictures to the networking event and had them on the table next to the flip chart. Each time I needed to know what came next, I just looked at the pictures and knew exactly what to say! Rather than seeing a list of words, I saw an image that represented paragraphs of a whole page of text. It was one of the most enjoyable presentations I’ve given for a while!

In this blog is a picture of the images I drew for the presentation. It won’t mean much to you, but I thought you might like to see what you can do!

A different way to use PowerPoint

Used properly, PowerPoint can be a really effective way of enhancing presentations. Used badly, it can do harm to your reputation. I’d like to share some tips I received on a birthday card, for an alternative way to use PowerPoint.

Can you sell from the stage?

Chantal

Can you sell your products and services from the stage? I’m not talking about the theatrical stage or suggesting that you become an actor. This is about selling what you do from giving presentations.

For many years I’ve given presentations at networking groups. At the end, people tell me how much they enjoyed my talk, or how useful they found it. Many people subscribe to my newsletter as a result and sometimes people ask me for a meeting, so that we can talk more about their marketing. But I’ve never really ‘sold’ anything and waiting for people to ask for a meeting can be a bit hit and miss.

All that is about to change! I recently went to a workshop that teaches you to actually sell what you do from the stage, by talking about it. This sort of selling is not the pushy “buy it now before they all run out” sort of selling. It’s not selling where ‘selling’ is a dirty word. It’s about giving people something they need.

The reason that this sort of selling works is because there are two things that you absolutely have to have, if you’re going to do it properly. They are passion and authenticity. Without either, no one will buy what you have to sell.

So are you passionate about what you do? Do you totally love your job and your business? When you’re doing it, are you ‘in the flow’, where you lose track of time? If you have this passion then you can speak about it and sell it from the stage. I’m passionate about helping coaches, consultants and trainers to grow their businesses. I love working with people who want to make a difference through their work and want to build a successful business. I believe that marketing really works, when it’s done properly; that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. I believe that it’s about creating products and services that people want or need rather than selling them something they don’t want or need.

What about authenticity? Can you speak from the real you and tell the truth? When you’re presenting, are you being genuine or are you just trying to impress people? If you don’t tell the truth or set out to impress others, you won’t speak with authenticity and the audience will see straight through you. I could stand in front of an crowd and tell them how great marketing can be for their business, but only if they pay someone else to do all it for them, because the only way to get marketing done properly is to pay an expert. And then people would start throwing things at me! No one would buy anything I tried to sell, because it would be obvious that I didn’t believe what I was saying. And when you don’t believe what you’re saying, you can’t be passionate about it, either.

If you use speaking to sell what you do, are you passionate and authentic? If you are, then take a look at www.ShiftSpeakerTraining.com for the next steps in turning your presentations into profits.

If you don’t yet use speaking to sell what you do, I encourage you to, because it really works. If you’ve never spoken in public before, look for your local Toastmasters group (www.Toastmasters.org) because it’s a great place to learn the basics. And then go to www.ShiftSpeakerTraining.com to find out how to do it profitably!

Don’t use WordArt in your PowerPoint presentations

Chantal

Quite a few years ago, when people discovered PowerPoint and how useful it was for creating presentations, there was a trend for throwing as much into a presentation as possible. In went the bullet points that whizzed in from left and right. In went the images that spiralled round until they settled in the right place. And in went the WordArt – a way of emphasising a key word and phrases by giving them colour, stretching them sideways and making them 3D. Funky stuff!

But WordArt actually makes it harder to read the words you want to emphasise because it’s too easy to stretch and distort them. It’s too simple to put them into colours that don’t tie in with the rest of your presentation.

If it’s hard to read on a computer screen, just think how difficult it will be for someone seeing it on a projector screen from the back of the room.

When Microsoft launched Office 2007 they came up with some clever new features that mean we don’t have to rely on the old stuff anymore; and they sensibly relegated WordArt to a tiny button that’s quite hard to find.

So the next time you’re putting together a PowerPoint presentation, leave out the WordArt. If you need highlight key messages, just put them in big, bold letters on a slide all on their own. If you need colour and graphics, think about using your own logo and branding to bring your slides to life.

Much better, isn’t it?

When you speak, does the room listen?

Chantal

Do you go to networking meetings and leave not remembering what many of other people said they do? Do you go to presentations and stop listening after the first five minutes?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, it’s because the people talking didn’t do enough for you to listen them.

Does the same happen when you speak? Do people forget what you say?

If you answered yes to these two questions, then perhaps it’s time to think about the impact you create when you’re networking and what you say. I’ve seen people start a presentation by telling the audience that they’re nervous and that they’ve never done this before. That just leaves the audience focusing on the nerves of the speaker and not listening to what they say. I meet people at networking meetings who talk and talk about what they do, without telling me anything useful. I stop listening and start wondering how I can get away from them.

So, if you’re nervous, don’t tell the audience, because they probably won’t notice. If you’re really nervous, get some help with speaking in public – Toastmasters International is where I learnt and I recommend it all the time. If you spend networking meetings going on about what you do, without taking a breath, think about how to be concise and what to say to present your business in just a minute – which is only about 120 words.

When you invest time in networking and speaking in public, make sure you get the best return for your investment by making sure that the room listens when you speak.

Why I love PowerPoint – Part Two

Chantal

If you read my blog post on Wedneseday (30 June) you’ll have seen that I’m a big fan of PowerPoint, when it’s used properly. If you’re not yet convinced, here are three more tips to help you create professional presentations to promote your business.

When I arrived at the networking event where I’d been asked to speak, I went straight to the room to check the set up and make sure the presentation was working. There was a laptop and projector on a table to the side of the screen. This was ideal (and I would have rearranged the equipment it if hadn’t been that way.) Why? Tip four is that you should be able to see your presentation without having to look at the screen and ever have to turn your back on your audience. Make sure you can see your slides on a computer, or have notes on a table in front of you.

Tip five is that you should create a summary of your presentation for your audience. Don’t print out all the slides – no one will remember what the images meant after the event (and anyway it uses up too much paper). Create a one page summary of the key points (mine is a list of the 10 things you can do to integrate your online marketing). And don’t give the summary to anyone before the presentation, because they’ll spend more time reading it than listening to you. Instead, offer it afterwards in return for a business card; or offer to email to anyone who wants it. Both are a great way to collect contact details and keep in touch with people!

My final slide showed details of how the attendees at the lunch could get in touch with me and what was on offer. Three bullet points and my website address. This final slide stayed up during the questions at the end of the presentation and while people finished lunch and networking. So tip six is that your final slide says on view and has a clear call to action.

If you’re still not convinced that you can use PowerPoint to present your business then it is best if you keep away from it. If, however, I’ve given you a few ideas about how you could make PowerPoint work for you, then give it a go and let me know how you get on!