Saturday, April 12, 2014

How to Warm Up Your Voice

Your voice is an integral part of your presentation.  Here are some voice exercises to help you warm up your voice so you can deliver your presentation with ease:

·         How to breathe:
  • Breathe from your diaphragm rather than your chest
  • Feel your stomach move out as you inhale air
  • Feel your stomach move in as you exhale and empty out the air – and speak
·         With your hand on your stomach, breathe in for 5 counts, hold for 5 counts, breathe out for 5 counts

·         With your hand on your stomach, expel short bursts of air as you say “ha ha ha” from the back of your throat

·         Relax tension in shoulders and neck!

·         Practice your highs and lows:
  • Pitch: start with your lowest pitch and in one continuous breath, move to your highest pitch. Reverse and go from high to low
  • Volume: start with your softest whisper and in one continuous breath, move to your loudest shout. Reverse and go from loudest to softest
·         To practice enunciation, say the sounds for f, p, t and k, and exaggerate the movement of your lips

·         Hum for several seconds at a time – you should feel the buzzing (resonance) in your lips

·         Record yourself – does your voice taper off at the end of the sentence? Are your highs and lows (in terms of volume and pitch) as distinct as you thought they were?
(And to avoid straining your voice, use a microphone if it's available).

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to Present to Your Peers

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

Sometimes you have to present to a group of your peers.  And you may be speaking about something they know quite a bit about themselves. How do you come across as being knowledgeable and confident without sounding condescending and cocky?

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You need to believe that you are qualified to give the presentation.  Start by understanding why you have been asked to give the presentation.  What is it about your knowledge or experience that makes you the perfect person to deliver this presentation? Perhaps you led the project or know the client better. 

(Yes, sometimes you are giving it just because nobody else wanted to do it.  But even in that case, you have earned the right to be presenting.)

Being clear about the reason ahead of time can help you focus and be more confident when you present in front of your peers, rather than being stuck in your head worrying, “Who am I to present? These people know more just as much – or more – than I do about this topic.” 

Once you cover this ground with yourself, you can focus on your material. Think about it from the audience’s point of view – what questions or concerns might they have? 

Then practice your presentation and focus on how you might be perceived by the audience.  Practice in front of a mirror or on camera.  In particular, be aware of your facial expressions and your tone.  Do you sound condescending, like you are lecturing at the audience?

Sometimes you intend to sound one way and you come across differently, so ask for feedback from a trusted colleague.  There can be a subtle difference between a smile and smirk or between sounding confident and sounding cocky and it’s helpful to get feedback about it.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

When You Present, Have a Message

Every presentation you give needs a point – the one core message that you want the audience to remember. Yes, you will have a lot of supporting material and secondary points, but there is really only one message. 

Think of it as a billboard or newspaper headline.  Fit it into one sentence and state it clearly in your introduction.  For example, “The purpose of this presentation is to explain why this project is behind schedule and how we are going to fix that.” Or, “The point of this presentation is to explain the three steps you need to take in order to become a more effective presenter.”

Having a single message makes it easier for the audience to understand your presentation and remember it.  Imagine that we interview everyone in the audience after your presentation and ask them, “What was the point of that presentation?” They should all give more or less the same answer – your message, paraphrased in their own words.

As you prepare your presentation, you need laser-like focus because everything you say should be organized around that message.  And if the example or statistic doesn’t relate somehow to your message, don’t include it.  (Yes, this can be difficult if you are a subject matter expert because the more you know about a subject, the harder it is to present succinctly and with a limited focus).

You can bring extra material with you in case of off-message questions or to be handed out at the end.  You can email an appendix or addendum after your presentation.  But the words that come out of your mouth should be exclusively focused on and organized around your message.


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Monday, March 24, 2014

Handling Q&A During a Phone Presentation

It’s important to be prepared for questions when you are giving a phone presentation.  Think of questions as a key element of your presentation rather than just an add-on or afterthought. 

Think about what you would hate to be asked and have a response for it.  It can be much harder to recover on the phone when you get a question you aren’t prepared for because the audience can’t see you nodding, smiling, listening to the question and thinking of a response.  They just hear a long silence.

Have an answer for when you don’t have an answer
If, despite your practice and preparation, you get a question that you have no answer to, what will you say? What you don’t want to say is, “ah, um, well…um, well…okay, let me think about that. You know, I suppose we could…”  That kind of non-response will undermine your creditably.  Instead, you need a stock answer ready to go for those moments when you don’t have an answer. 

For example, “That’s an interesting question. I’m really glad you brought that up. I don’t have a clear answer at this point. I want to give that some more thought and do a little bit of research. Let me check on that and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.”  Or, you could say something like, “That’s something we hadn’t considered as part of our analysis. I can see how that definitely would need to be considered and we’ll certainly look into that before we go into a full launch for this product.”

And here is where giving a presentation over the phone gives you an advantage. You can have your desk full of notes and potential answers and no one will know. Provided you can access them easily without doing a lot of paper shuffling, you can have extra information right in front of you.

What to do if there are no questions
What should you do if you ask for questions and all you hear is a big silence? First of all, rather than asking, “are there any questions?” ask, “what questions do you have?” It’s subtle, but the shift in wording assumes that there are questions. 

Secondly, it can be more uncomfortable over the phone to have no questions, but don’t rush through the silence.  Don’t just ask for questions, hear the silence, get uncomfortable and move on. Give people a chance to think of a question, get ready to ask it, figure out how to un-mute the phone, make sure no one else is speaking and then ask it. And explain to the audience, “I’m going to give you a moment to un-mute your phone, that’s *6, and then ask a question.”

Thirdly, you can ask your own questions.  For example, say something like, “Often at this point I get asked…” or “when I was talking to a customer yesterday, he asked me…”

Don’t end with questions
Contrary to common practice, it’s not a good idea to end your presentation with questions because you are relinquishing control of the end of your presentation to the audience.  If you end with questions and there are none, you end with an uncomfortable silence. If you end with questions and you get a question that you can’t answer, you end with the awkwardness of your not having a response. Instead, break midway or near the end of your presentation, handle questions and answers, then finish your presentation and do a final conclusion. 
If you follow these strategies for preparing for questions for your phone presentation, you’ll be better equipped to give an effective, confident, successful presentation

For more help with phone presentations, check out Gilda's audio course, Virtual Presentations - How to Develop and Deliver an Effective Presentation Over the Phone

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Eliminate Up Talk When Presenting

by Gilda Bonanno LLC

One of the most common problems I hear when people present – and one of my pet peeves – is “up talk.” What is up talk? Up talk is when you say everything like it’s a question, as in, “Hi, my name is Gilda? I’m really happy to welcome you here? I hope that you like my presentation?”

Up talk undermines your credibility with the audience.  When you use up talk, you’re expressing that you’re not sure about anything you say, so you make it into a question just in case it’s wrong.

And this is not just something that new college graduates do.  I’ve heard people of all ages do it.  

I had one client, a market researcher, who often presented over the phone to remote customers and she asked me to listen in on her presentations.  She was very smart, had a master’s degree and several years of experience.  She knew what she was talking about, yet on the phone she sounded like a little girl unsure of what she was saying because everything sounded like a question: “Here’s our marketing numbers for the quarter? And here is what we recommend?”

She had no idea she was doing it.  Once I had her listen to a brief recording from one of those calls, she instantly became aware of it.

So, first of all, you need to be aware if you are using up talk.  Record yourself or have someone give you feedback.  Then practice ending the sentence with a period rather than a question mark, which means that your voice tone either goes down at the end of the sentence or stays the same, rather than going up.  It will take time, but eventually you will replace the up talk habit.  

Once my client heard how she sounded, she was able to purge the up talk from her presentation and thus, sound more confident.

If you suffer from up talk, work on eliminating it so you can stop undermining your credibility and authority with the audience.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mobile Learning - ASTD-SCC 3/31 Meeting

American Society for Training & Development - Southern CT chapter meeting (ASTD-SCC)
Topic: Mobilize Your Learning: Learning Solutions for a Multi-Device World
Monday, March 31, 2014; 5:45-8:00 PM
Speaker: Meghan A. Young, Senior Solutions Consultant, Kineo
We all get it! We need to create courses that serve learners well beyond the classroom, and even beyond the PC. The very idea of building separate courses for each delivery device seems both complex and costly – or maybe not!
Please join us on March 31st when we de-mystify this challenge. We will explore three timely and related learning topics:
Responsive eLearning Design: Learn how eLearning designs can support learners where they are and when they need it!
Multi-Device Delivery: We live in a multi-device world and need to provide mobile delivery and learning support through a number of devices. Learn about one program that fits all needs!
Open Source Programming:Open source programs are actively supported and improved by a collaborative community. Typically they are NO-to-low cost for course developers and users. Learn how you can benefit from this novel approach!
We will take a closer look at one program that embraces all three trends. Adapt is an open source tool for multi-device mobile learning that uses a responsive elearning design framework. Adapt creates just one version of elearning in HTML5, which responds intelligently to the device it’s viewed on, including desktops, smartphones and tablets. In this presentation, Meghan A. Young of Kineo will explore some practical examples of how the needs of a number of clients were met with Adapt technology.
About Meghan A. Young
Meghan brings 17 years of experience in blended learning production, system design and consulting as part of strategic organizational learning solutions, often for her Fortune 1,000 clients. Prior to joining Kineo, Meghan held senior positions in learning and development with Genesis Advisers (First 90 Days), Harvard Business Publishing and Saba, and recently earned her M.A. in Adult Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Monday, March 31, 2014Norwalk Inn and Conference Center
99 East Avenue, Norwalk CT

Chapter member (at the door) - $40.00
Chapter Member (pre-registered) - $37.00
Chapter Member In-Transition - $25.00
Guest - $50.00
Student - $20.00

Networking: 5:45 PM
Dinner Served: 6:30 PM
Program: 6:45-8 PM

To register or for more information, visit