Friday, June 30, 2017

4 Presenter Mistakes to Avoid, Or Please Don't "Vomit" on Your Audience

by Gilda Bonanno LLC 
At the end of my session at a conference, one of the audience members came up to tell me about a terrible session she had attended earlier in the day.  She said, "The presenter vomited his content on the audience.  It was awful.  I would have walked out if I wasn't sitting in the front row."  That's pretty strong language!  Of course, I had to ask for the details of what made her feel "vomited" on by the presenter.

Here are that presenter's top four mistakes, as described by the audience member - and what you can do to avoid them:

Presenter Mistake #1: "The content was disorganized."
Your presentation should have a clear beginning, middle or end.  It sounds so simple, yet so many presenters fail to organize their material clearly.  Follow the old adage, "tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them." It should be easy for the audience to follow you and understand how your points relate to each other and your overall message.

Presenter Mistake #2: "The slides were crowded and hard to read."
If the audience has to struggle to read your slides, they will struggle to understand your presentation.  For the sake of your audience members' eyesight, use large font (larger than you think you need to use) and only a few bullet points on each slide.  If you find yourself saying, "I know some of you can't read this…," then your slides are too crowded.  Or go one step better and use only high-quality photos or images (not cheesy clip art) and a few words in very large font.  Or be radical and don't use slides at all; remember, you are the message and the slides are just the visual aids. 

Presenter Mistake #3: "He only used examples from one area, which wasn't applicable to many in the audience."
The first rule of presentations is to know your audience, and in this case, the presenter doesn't seem to have done that.  Be sure that some of your examples come from the industries or fields represented in the audience.  For example, if you are speaking to an audience of accountants, avoid using examples only from sales.  Or if you're presenting to small business owners, don't just use stories from the corporate world.  To find relevant examples and stories, check out the industry websites, read the publications and talk to people in that field.  If there is an attendee list, interview a few audience members ahead of time

Presenter Mistake #4: "He said he wanted to make it interactive, but there was no opportunity for interactivity."
I've seen many presenters make this same mistake and the solution here is simple: don't claim that you want your presentation to be interactive unless you really mean it and have planned for the interactivity with specific questions, exercises or activities.  And just asking, "Is everyone with me?" does not count as being interactive – and anyway, it's rare that anyone will speak up and say "no."

If you avoid these four common presenter mistakes, you will be less likely to "vomit" your content on your audience!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Think of Yourself as a Speaker

Often, people tell me, "I'm not a speaker so I don't have to think about presentation skills."  I disagree.  I think we are all speakers – yes, even you. 

Whether you talk to a small or large audience or in a corporate, academic or community setting, you are a speaker.  If you give an update to a project team, speak up at a neighborhood meeting or organize a fundraiser, you are a speaker.  If you give a toast at a wedding, conduct orientation for new employees or train someone on a new process, you are a speaker.  If you teach a class, lead a conference call or accept a community award, you are a speaker.  If you answer a question at a meeting, attend a networking event or interact with potential clients, you are a speaker.

The point of thinking of yourself as a speaker is not to make you crazy. The point is for you to become conscious of your power to communicate.  Public speaking is a skill – it's not magic or a special gene.  And as a skill, it can be learned and improved.  You already have knowledge and expertise; public speaking gives you the ability to communicate that knowledge and expertise effectively to others.  And in so doing, you can have a positive impact on your career, your self-confidence and your community.  

Read the rest of my article on the Constant Contact community blog: 

Monday, June 26, 2017

7 Strategies for Successfully Working a Tradeshow

A client recently asked how he could be more successful when working his company’s booth at an upcoming industry tradeshow. Here are my 7 strategies for successfully working a tradeshow, exhibition or business expo: )    

1. Set realistic expectations

Popular tradeshows are attended by thousands of people and can be noisy, crowded and exhausting (for both attendees and exhibitors). As a tradeshow team, set expectations for what you want to achieve and how you will measure success. For example, collecting email addresses may be all you can do during busy, peak hours while during quieter hours, you may be able to have more in-depth conversations with people who stop by your booth.

Read the rest of the article on my LinkedIn profile here:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Photos from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute

Recently, I had the privilege of presenting "Stand Out From the Crowd With Personal Branding" at the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, in partnership with the Women's Business Development Council. 

The Yale Entrepreneurial Institute is a university department that helps entrepreneurs and innovators at Yale start scalable new ventures.
The Women's Business Development Council is the leader for entrepreneurial and financial education in CT.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Too Many Filler Words Undermine Your Credibility

by Gilda Bonanno LLC
Recently I attended a meeting where a senior leader of the organization offered opening remarks.  He spoke for 2 minutes and said “um” 24 times.  Doing the math, that’s an “um” approximately every 5 seconds.

Here’s how it would read if he wrote it out:
“Welcome to the um, XYZ meeting. We are happy to, um, have you here today.  We will, um, share the goals of, um, the new program and explain, um, the role you will play in the program.  And thank you, um, for being here because, um, the work you do is crucial to, um, the success of our clients.”

While a few “ums” are okay, this many of them completely distracted from what he was actually saying.  I started listening for the next “um” rather than trying to follow what his message.  It made him sound less confident, less definite and less clear.

Imagine that you are speaking in front of the Board of Directors at your company, the media or a potential client.  Do you want to sound confident and in command of your subject? Or do you want to allow your unconsciously-said filler words to undermine your credibility?

Filler words like “um,” “ah,” “you know” and “like” fill in the empty space while your brain thinks of what to say next and catches up with your tongue and your voice which are still producing sound. 

The solution is relatively easy.  First, you have to become aware that you using filler words.  
Then replace them with a short pause instead (the pause will feel like an eternity to you, but not to your audience) while you think of what to say next.  Get used to speaking in complete sentences and complete thoughts. 

One way to practice this is by practicing speaking out loud and when you hear yourself using a filer word, stop.  Then go back to the beginning of the sentence and try again, without the filler word.

A small investment of your time, energy and focus to fix your filler problem will have a big pay-off: you will sound more confident and the audience will be able to focus on you and your message. 

Or you can do nothing, and keep allowing your filler words to obscure your competence and undermine your credibility. 

Enter Email: