Master Your Message Blog


In public speaking, your voice is your instrument. You have to know what it sounds like. So I recommend you get a recorder and record yourself giving a presentation.

Then listen to it. Do you sound monotone? That’s boring. Our brains don’t pay attention to boring things. They shut off.

Speaker reading a storybook to a childHere’s an exercise. Get a children’s book and read it to a child – and record it. You’ll hear yourself exaggerating the words – you’ll be much more expressive than normal. Now back off about twenty percent and you’re in presentation territory.

Most new speakers speak too quickly? Slow down. The larger the audience, the slower you need to speak. And pauses … they can be your most powerful tool. Pauses give impact to what Read More …

Here’s the rule for all of you that are hooked on text slides. It’s the rule of 66. It means six lines of text MAX, six words per line MAX. And a title, of course.

Slide with way too much text

Don’t do this!

Any more and you have a cluttered slide – like the one on the left. This is an actual slide from a recent convention. It wasn’t even up long enough to be able to read it all! Do you think your audience will remember all this plus the rest of your presentation. (I guess that doesn’t need an answer …)

And don’t tell me you can’t get a point down to under 6 words. I have yet to come across a situation in which that was true. Read More …

It’s OK to be nervous. We all are to a certain extent. Even me. Well, not now, ‘cause there’s nobody here. I’m talking about on stage.

Now, there are lots of techniques you can try to treat the symptoms of nervousness. You’ll find a whack of them in the articles on my website.

But the truth is, it doesn’t get at the heart of the problem. Cause the problem is self-confidence. Plain and simple.

It’s just like anything else in life.  Do it enough and you’ll get good at it. Know you’re good at it and your self-confidence goes through the roof.

Here’s what I suggest – two things.

One. Practice. Just speak a lot, or if you want to do it in a really Read More …

Point form seems to be highly misunderstood. I often see screens of text using full sentences.

If you’re going to use full sentences, you’re better off going home. That’s because you’ll read them and THAT is the thing audiences hate the most! The number one thing! I’ve done it  … so I know!

And why would you need to be there anyway? – your audience can just read your presentation.

Even more important – if they’re reading, they’re not listening to you!

So … you need to get your points down to their absolute essence. Use the fewest number of words you can use to support or reinforce your point.

Let’s get rid of as many articles, prepositions, pronouns … the little words …

Read More …

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 …