Master Your Message Blog


There isn’t anything that connects you with your audience more than your eyes. We call that eye contact.

Now, I don’t mean cursory, flit around the room eye contact – I’m talking hard core at least two sentences long eye contact. That’s what works.

Beginning speakers know they have to have good eye contact and so they make sure they scan the room and try and spend a couple of seconds on each person. That’s the ADD method.

People know when you’re talking AT them rather than TO them. If you’ve sat in the audience when a speaker scans the group and never really connects with one person, you know you don’t tend to get really involved in the message.

But when a speaker spends Read More …

When I speak to a group, I try to speak in seven minute segments MAX. That’s Magic Time! Because after seven minutes of information battering our little brains, our eyes roll back in our heads and we shut down.

And where has this come from? Television, of course. Because a program segment is about 7 minutes … then there’s a commercial .. unless you zap it .. but you’re still programmed to take a break.

Today, attention spans are getting even shorter. So, it depends on your audience. The younger, the shorter … generally.

The point is, “think in modules.” If your talk is longer than 10 minutes, you need to break it up. It should be at least a two or three module talk. That Read More …

Here’s a simple tip that will give your graphs much more impact.

Make the titles “active.”

Now … I don’t mean “animated.” I mean active. When I refer to a title as “active,” I mean that the text helps to advance your position, rather than just stating what the subject matter is. Most of the time, it means putting a verb in the title. Let’s look at an example.

Here’s a nice looking graph of Gross Monthly Sales.

Starting Slide

OK … so what? What about them? What is that graph trying to tell me?

First of all, let’s get rid of all the clutter.  3D looks pretty, but most of the time gets in the way of the message. Get rid of that, too. Read More …

Using audio clips in your presentation sounds so simple! But if there’s one thing that strikes fear into the hearts of convention technicians, that’s it!

Because it’s either too loud … or inaudible … or the presenter simply hasn’t told the technician that’s it there at all … and then wonders why it didn’t play.

So, tips. One … make sure your sound levels are consistent. That’ll require you to have some audio software to check each file and raise or lower the levels. Or some presentation software allows you to change levels within the program.

Two … make sure you test the sound on the day ahead of your talk. And make sure the sound files are in the right folder AND that you’re Read More …

Make your presentation facts interesting and memorable.

Ever have a presenter give you a fact during a presentation and you had no idea what it meant – how it related to you or anything else, for that matter?

If you’re like me, the answer is “all the time.”

There are technical presentations in which presenters ream off fact after fact after fact with no indication as to what’s really important and how it relates to what you already know. At the end of the presentation, you leave the room wondering what on earth it all meant, unable to remember even a single number or point.

The most error I see most often is the presenter who throws out a number without the context. For Read More …

The closing is second most important part of your persuasive presentation. I say that because if you don’t have a great opening, you will have lost them by the closing and so your closing won’t matter.

It would probably be helpful here to review the opening of your persuasive presentation:

  • Start with the situation, opportunity, or problem.
  • Then describe your credentials – what makes you the ideal one to provide the solution.
  • After that, your proposed solution.
  • Finally, state the agenda. In other words, tell your audience what you intend to present in support of your solution.

For the closing, the structure is almost a mirror image of the opening.

First step is to restate the SITUATION, opportunity or problem – the reason you Read More …

Here’s a video that I created for a client a few months ago that serves to illustrate a persuasive structure for any type of presentation, email, letter, phone call, etc. It’s only two minutes long (that was actually a requirement).

The presentation was a key element of a larger package that secured a $400K grant. Tecterra was the funding organization (the “client” in this case). There were four grants available and over 70 contenders.

Hopefully, you can pick out the key elements in the structure. They can be subtle, because you want the presentation to flow.

First, start with what your audience knows. Usually it centres around the problem. That’s usually the one thing we can all relate to—the thing that’s making us Read More …

Movies are totally involving. The best ones make a point. And they’re about people. And we remember the really good ones for a long, long time. That’s the power of stories.

They’re the most compelling part of any presentation.

Doug Stevenson's book on how to tell stories in business presentationsI saw master storytelling coach, Doug Stevenson speak last year. Doug coaches business people in the art of storytelling. And if you’re serious about being a compelling speaker, you absolutely have to get his book, Doug Stevenson’s Story Theater Method. You’ll find Doug at “The Storytelling Studio for Business.”

Doug is coming to Calgary! If you’re in the Calgary or Edmonton area, this is a NOT TO BE MISSED one day workshop on storytelling for business – on Sunday, June 15, 2014. Get more Read More …

Presentations are about change. Cause if everything was going to stay the same, you wouldn’t need a presentation!

So … anytime there’s change within an organization, there’s some type of presentation that needs to be put together. It can be:

  • as simple as a well-thought-out conversation,
  • as challenging as an on-stage presentation to a packed auditorium, or
  • as calculated as a video program broadcast throughout the organization.

Of course, there are other combinations in between.

The similarity in all these presentation forms is that they have be structured to be persuasive: They must persuade the audience to change in some way, shape, or form.

“More easily said than done!” you might say. And, you’d be right!

Here’s the key: To be persuasive, you have Read More …

You get judged by your opening

Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”

In the first few seconds, as you walk on stage, your audience is “sizing you up.” They’re figuring out whether they like you and are going to listen to you. They’re also making a decision as to whether you’re funny or not and whether you know what you’re talking about. There’s a great book called “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell about that split second when people subconsciously judge you. We all do it.

The opening of any presentation is THE most important element. It can make or break you as a presenter.

So, it’s important to think about your first few seconds on stage. I recently critiqued a new professional speaker who started her talk by coming on stage all smiles and giving Read More …