Master Your Message Blog

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The most common question I get in seminars is “How do I begin to put together a presentation? Where do I start?”

And I always say “Start at the end.” And that usually gets a big, blank stare.

What I mean is: start with what you want your audience to do.

And to figure that out, think about the moment at the end of your presentation when your audience has all the information you’ve presented … what is it you want them to do … to think … to understand? It needs to be one action or thought and you should be able to describe it in a short sentence.

One short sentence … your objective. And you absolutely, positively need to write it Read More …

Using video in your presentation is easy. But you need to check your software manual or help files to find out what kinds of video you can use. You’ll find a list on my website for the various flavours of PowerPoint and Keynote.

But here’s what I want to talk about – etiquette. Because you can’t just throw up a twenty minute video and expect your job to be done and the audience to think you’re the greatest think since Cecil B. DeMille. There are unwritten rules to using video in your presentations.

This article and video will give you tips and techniques to ensure you use video as effectively as possible if you’re planning on using it in either PowerPoint or Keynote.

Keep your Read More …

One of the phrases you definitely don’t want to hear from your audience is “what on earth was that about” or “I was absolutely lost from the very first word.”

It happens all the time. It’s the biggest single mistake beginning presenters make – not telling the audience where they’re taking them. And after all, when you give a presentation, you are taking your audience on a journey. Hopefully, not down a dark rabbit hole.

Well, there’s a simple, but exceptionally important solution that will keep your audience with you right ’til the end and ensure your presentation is really effective. The following video will explain it all …

So … somewhere in your opening you absolutely, positively have to have an agenda. Now this Read More …

Screen layout is really important to getting your message across.

Our eyes go to the lightest part of the frameTake this screen. Where does your eye go? Most people would say … to the brightest part of the background.

For me, the brightest part of the frame is the back of that lady’s head. In other words, the lightest object on the screen grabs your attention.

My frame of reference for light and its affect on us is television, film, and theatre. I’ve spent decades working across those areas. What I’ve learned is that our eyes are attracted by light, so put more light on the most important elements to make them brighter. Put less light on the unimportant information.

You need to think like that when you design your slides. It’s why light Read More …

Ever heard someone at the lectern read a speech? I mean a dull, boring, lifeless verbalization of just what’s on the paper in front of them, without any attempt to embellish it whatso ever or bring it to life?

My guess is probably … more often than you’d like to admit. And what does it do for you? Probably not much. It’s forgettable, right?

Well, it doesn’t need to be that way.

speech script marked with lines and slashes

In the world of professional narrators lives the marked script. Now, narrators are people who make very lucrative livings off their ability to read a script in front of a microphone naturally.

To do that, they mark up their scripts. A vertical line is a full pause. An underlined word is emphasized. It’s Read More …

Ever get really, really lost? You’re in the driver’s seat and your navigator hasn’t bothered to keep you up to speed on where you are? It’s the single biggest fault with presentations.

Presenters know where they’re going – they just don’t share the map with the audience.As presenters, we need to keep our audience on track. Tell them what we’re going to tell them up front … and then keep them up to date as we move through the presentation. Otherwise, they get lost.

“Sharing the Map” keeps your audience on track throughout your presentation.

So here are three visuals things you can do to help keep your audience on track.

One. If you have more than say three points, have an agenda slide. 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 …

Newbie speakers get a little apprehensive about questions. There’s a fear that they’ll be caught off guard – that they’ll look stupid if they don’t have an answer . . .

And they’re right … if they’re unprepared. Just like anything else in life, looking brilliant on stage takes planning.

However, if you really do know your material, prepare properly, and follow a few basic rules, you’ll find it’s the most powerful part of a presentation.

I love question and answer sessions

I love Question and Answer sessions. ‘Cause they give me a chance to shine – I can carry on a direct dialogue with my audience and make sure any concerns are addressed.

Here’s what you do. Know your subject area and identify any potential questions that might be sensitive Read More …

The primary objective of presentations is NOT to be pretty. The primary objective is to persuade or impart information.

Pretty but busy slideI mean, they CAN be pretty, but if pretty (or busy) gets in the way of the message, it’s a problem!

Sometimes what you think is a brilliant idea, just doesn’t make it in the implementation stage. Remember, screen real estate is dear. There’s never enough of it.

Well, in fact, the information you put on the screen should not need any more space than what’s available. And that brings us to the first of two major rules:

  1. Less is More.  Each screen should support one point and only one point. Don’t try and put everything you can think of up there. Who’s going to remember Read More …

Let’s look at “builds.” Builds are really powerful. They make information stick. Like goo.

I define builds as short phrases or words that are added to a screen on a particular cue. You can build text on the screen line by line or word by word.

The power of builds is that, if done properly, they visually reinforce key phrases you say that are really important. They can help make a specific idea memorable; set it apart from other screen text.

The important thing is the interaction between your voice and what appears on the screen.

From a learning perspective, two senses are way more powerful than one. So, saying a word and showing that word at the same time means your audience will remember it over Read More …