Master Your Message Blog

first words

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 …

Virtually every presentation has to persuade someone of something.

Now you might argue that point by saying that some presentations are informational. That may be true. But there’s usually a desire on the part of the presenter to persuade the audience that the information is important, or that they should do something with that information after the talk is complete.

Setting up a persuasive presentation is actually relatively easy. You want to make sure your audience knows why you’re all assembled there – usually there’s a problem or opportunity. It’s your job as the presenter to state what it is so that you and the audience are “on the same page.”

Once the problem is on the table, it’s time to deal with the solution. 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 …

microphone-webIt’s more important than ever before to listen intently to your audience. The anxiety level amongst employees and the public in general is at an all time high. With good reason.

The disparity is compensation is, in many cases, disturbing. Prices continue to rise; salaries to stagnate. The complexity in the world today is overwhelming—new apps to learn, seemingly every day. Breakdowns involving technology require entire teams to sort out and are expensive.

Politicians are talking over the heads of most of us, seemingly oblivious to the real needs of their voters. Self-interest influences major decisions. Crime is on the rise. You can’t safely open your email without tripping over the scam of the day.

Weather is severe just about everywhere. Countries are invading one 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 …

One of most common dilemmas people have when they’re up against a presentation deadline is how to actually open it: “How do I structure the opening?”

Presentation opening for pipeline spill

Pipeline Spill

I have a client I’ve been working with the past couple of weeks who has taken the reigns as the business development partner in a company that services pipeline companies, but in a different way than you might think.

They provide software, expertise, and resources to help major pipeline companies mitigate the risk of ageing pipelines – you know, the ones underground that keep rupturing and devastating the environment around them. The software tracks the pipeline infrastructure and risk across the system so that the pipeline company can concentrate on preventive maintenance — honing in on the Read More …

In persuasive presentations, you need to get to the point. Stories have their place, but it’s usually not at the beginning of a presentation, unless it’s structured so that the point is obvious … and alluded to up front.

Lady being persuasive in front of a small groupI was in Toronto recently sitting across from my brother. We had  been invited to a friend’s house for a dinner in honor of my mother, who was turning ninety. The phone rang. It was the host. I could hear the entire conversation as it continued on. After the usual pleasantries, she began to tell a story of having a last minute client request that would have her unexpectedly work during the afternoon, which meant she would have to drive into town, do the work, and Read More …

Imagine an opening statement that silences the room and locks every eye on you, the presenter. The audience is left figuratively “hanging,” staring at you, waiting for the next word.That’s the “riveting opening” – my favorite because it can be so powerful.It’s important to understand the role of opening lines.

1. They set the tone for the talk or session2. They communicate some of your personality3. They allow the audience to subconsciously judge you … and judge you they will!

“Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” the best-selling book by Malcolm Gladwell, is all about this last point. We humans judge situations, people, environments and virtually everything we come in contact with subconsciously all the time – in under 3 seconds and usually, 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 …