Master Your Message Blog

first impression

Most construction workers will tell you it’s a pretty good idea to know your tools.

For example, if I was building a bookcase and asked for a saw when I really needed a hammer, it would be a rather unproductive day. If I was a surgeon and did something similar, you’d be dead.

I recently directed a conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I worked with a really good audio-visual company. But when we were doing the lighting for the stage, one of their technicians asked me to go and stand behind the podium. So I did. Silence. And then I peeked my head up from behind the stage and said, “Oh, did you mean the lectern?”

OK, so here’s the point: We stand on a 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 …

Introductions. They’re incredibly important to a speaker’s success. Bad ones can be like watching a slow motion train wreck. Because the speaker ends up spending half their speech trying to recover from it. Ow!

MC making an introductionAnd that’s why professional speakers provide their own. And when they do, if you’re the MC, it’s important that you rehearse it and deliver it the way it’s written. Because it sets the tone.

If you’re writing an intro, there are 3 questions – three W’s it needs to answer: What, Why Now and Why This speaker.

First … what. What is the speech or talk about (without giving away too much). Make sure you relate it in terms your audience will understand. This part is pretty straightforward.

Second … Why 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 …

stool-webToo often our nervousness gets the best of us and we destroy what would otherwise be a very powerful opening.

I often evaluate speakers in contests. I evaluated one again last night. Great fun; great speeches!

This was a contest involving emerging professional speakers. The prize was the opportunity to speak in front of a regular association meeting of about seventy people. Last  night’s audience was about forty or so. There were four judges, American Idol-style.

One speaker, who has a very compelling story as part of a speech on the importance of safety, weakened the opening by:

  • coming on stage and setting up a chair and some props
  • making some off-handed remarks while doing so
  • “puttered around” trying to make sure everything was just Read More …
NOTE: This terrific article comes from Judy Carter and gives a great example of why it’s so important to start any presentation, email, or other persuasive business communication with a problem …
There’s a secret to have your resume rise to the top of a job pile. It’s the same technique that makes a comedy club audience laugh, or that gets everyone at your next meeting to stop texting and start listening to you. You get people’s attention by making your cover letter, your first joke, or your opening remarks about THEM.
 
I posted a job on Craigslist and LinkedIn recently — and I was immediately swamped with over 100 applicants.
 
I deleted some of the applications as soon as I read them. Read More …

ladypresentingVirtually every audience has one, some more pronounced than others.

And then there’s you. What’s yours?

Certain personality styles clash—they get along like oil and water. So, if you’re presenting to an audience and you’re bombing, it could be your personality style. It involves the words you use, your demeanor, and how you weight certain aspects of your presentation.

A simple example might be a sales-oriented presenter attempting to influence an accounting firm. Without great thought as to how you’re going to position your argument, you stand the chance of completely alienating them. Because these two styles inherently clash.

Another example might be a health care worker making a presentation to the president of the organization. Presidents, or managers, are typically not interested in small Read More …

My recent article on “White Death on the Podium” got some reaction. It’s set me out on a campaign to help people communicate more effectively “one screen at a time.” Well, it didn’t actually start me on that road, it re-confirmed the need.

It started a few people recognizing the fact that they were indeed using white backgrounds and black text – in PowerPoint particularly (as that awful program still commands the lion’s share of the visual support marketplace), and a light went on. “It makes perfect sense” was one common reply but even more prevalent was “I never really thought about it before.”

Well, think about it. It will make your visual support infinitely more readable.

And if you still doubt the validity of Read More …

I like to travel in a jacket and dress slacks. There’s a reason for that. I think I get better treatment.

Over many years, I’ve proven that theory to myself, although some of the examples are arguable. This has not been a scientific study, after all.

I just got back from Kansas City. On the way there, I had to pick up a pre-booked rental car. The agent tried to up sell me, of course, and I had to tell her that the car was booked by a third party and I had no flexibility in price. However, I ended up getting an upgrade anyway – four levels above what was originally booked. I’m convinced that if I’d been in jeans and somewhat unkempt in Read More …