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Our First Guest Post on Forbes: 5 All-Star Techniques You Can Use In Your Next Speaking Gig

21 Jul

Our First Guest Post on Forbes: 5 All-Star Techniques You Can Use In Your Next Speaking Gig

Big day for us…our writers at Hook-Line-Sinker are now guest posting exclusive presentation articles on Forbes. Please check out our first and not definitely last blog post on Forbes called “5 All-Star Techniques You Can Use in Your Next Speaking Gig.”

This articles shares with common audiences how star presenters like Steve Jobs, Chris Rock, Martin Luther King Jr. Tony Hsieh, and Bill Clinton work their magic in enchanting audiences.

Feel free to leave comments here, and if you’re new, please subscribe to our blog for the latest presentation updates and all things Big Fish Presentations.

Preparing Presentations: 5 Ways to Practice ’til Perfect

20 Jul

“Practice makes perfect.”

We’ve all heard it.  Many, many times, in fact.

Although it has been repeated many times over your lifetime, it still rings truth.  In any skill that you choose to pursue, if you practice it enough, you will be nearly perfect at it.  There’s no way to get around it.  Unless you are naturally talented at something or get extremely lucky, odds are the only way to “sharpen your sword,” so to speak , is through repetition.  Now, we’re not going to lie to you.  It takes a lot time and dedication to be a disciplined practitioner of anything.  However, if you can sit down, focus and try your best, you will see clear results.

This mindset also applies to presentations.  For most people, presentations make them nervous, which is natural.  However, you can significantly decrease your nervousness by taking certain steps, carefully preparing yourself for the event to come.  At Big Fish Presentations, we encourage our clients to practice a variety of methods that ease nerves, which makes them more successful and confident in their presentations.  So, we’ve gathered five of these tactics to share with you today.

Here are five ways in which you can practice your presentation skills.

1. Rehearse in front of a crowd

Standing in front of a group of people, giving your speech and seeing their reactions is a great way to boost your confidence in your material and delivery.  Whether it’s a small group of your friends, co-workers, family or even a random group of strangers, the action of giving your presentation allows you to see reactions and get natural human feedback.  This will calm your nerves and make you more comfortable with the entire experience.  Many times, you’ll find that your worst mistakes will surface on this first go-around, leaving you with plenty of time and feedback to correct mistakes and re-organize your thoughts.

2. Take notes

As you practice, it’s very useful to stop immediately whenever you notice a mistake or an uncomfortable moment and jot down a few notes.  In any practicing situation, don’t hesitate to analyze and re-analyze your presentation as you go.  After all, this is why you’re practicing in the first place.  You can write down things like cutting down on time on certain parts, making sure you enunciate tricky words or refining the structure of your talk.  You’d be surprised by how many issues you can find when you take the time to look at yourself closely.

3. Experiment

Don’t keep repeating the same lines over and over again if you think it sounds boring or awkward.  Let loose and find ways to make your presentation exciting for your audience.  Experiment with variations of words, include a funny story, make a joke or two.  Relax!  Remember, the two most important things in your presentation are being clear and being relevant.  Use the stage or props to your advantage.  Ask a particular audience member a question.  Keep your audience guessing.  You can have a lot of fun if you free yourself from the boring presentation structure and have a little fun out there.

4. Time yourself

Timing is crucial in presentations.  It takes practice to nail down a solid time, but the general rule of thumb is to keep it short, simple and to the point.  Since your goal is to decrease time while maintaining quality, practice trimming your message to include the most important and relevant information without the fluff.  Set up a goal of the amount of time that you think is appropriate for your audience, then refine or beef up your talk accordingly.  The more comfortable you are with your time, the more flexible you can be as you give your presentation.

5. Record yourself

By hearing and seeing yourself, you can judge the inflection, speed and enunciation of your voice.  You always want to put yourself in your audience’s position, seeing and hearing yourself as they would see you.  It’s not so much about perfecting your orating skills, although that is important, as it is about showing your personality through your words.  In order to come across original and confident, you want to show your true character and that you’re comfortable in your speech.

All in all, it comes down to carefully observing yourself and constructively criticizing the elements of your speech.  You’ve got to take the time to truly grade yourself before you can expect to deliver a solid presentation.  The true masters of presentations, such as TED speakers, train themselves and prepare extensively in advance for their talks.  If you want to truly engage your audience, be yourself, but most importantly be comfortable with yourself. It’s all about blending your personality with your message and finding the happy medium between your goals and the outcome.

What do you think?  Was this helpful?  Do you have any additional tips or guidelines about preparing for a presentation? Let us know what you think in the comments below, on our Facebook page or tweet us!  Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more awesome content from the Big Fish team!

Presentation Breakdown: Rich Mulholland “Escaping Educational Legacide”

18 Jul

This week’s presentation breakdown features Missing Link CEO and former rock star roadie Rich Mulholland.  After operating lights for bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, Mulholland started South Africa’s first presentation company, Missing Link.  He is also an outstanding speaker and education activist.

In this TED talk, Mulholland speaks about his proposition of reinventing the educational system.  He believes that people should never stop learning.  The traditional model of education, one in which we attend school until our early 20s, then rely on this education to fuel our careers and minds for the remainder of our lives, is a flawed system.  Let’s take a look at the structure of this fun, engaging presentation!

0:08-0:20

Mulholland opens up the presentation by greeting the audience, but then he jumps right into a declaration of his personality.  He says that he always wanted to join the circus, but that he never wanted to actually follow them on stage.  This gives us a brief glimpse into his personality, which we will come to recognize as being light and humorous, but with a sincere glow.

0:20-0:50

Now, Mulholland jumps right into a new idea. Notice how directly he addresses the audience and how lively they become when he speaks to them.  He is very unorthodox in his approach at humor, especially for a TED talk.  Within the first minute of his talk, he has made the audience laugh, while truly engaging them in a scenario that he begins to play out.

0:50-2:30

As we dive deeper into this scenario, which is an interesting one I might add, Mulholland is amping us up with suspense about the “catch” of this “gift.”  He is clearly going somewhere with this, but until he finally reveals the punchline, we are clueless, but enjoying the ride.  He delivers the “catch,” and gets the reaction for which he was hoping.  The audience plays right into the joke.  However, it isn’t simply a joke.  We have been taught something through the joke, and we will spend the rest of the TED talk delving deeper into this idea.  He shifts into the topic of how things change.  Now, we will get to the meat of the piece.  He addresses this shift with the mention of education.

2:30-3:04

Once we have made the shift into the “real” topic of the piece, Mulholland is keen to run with it while he has our attention.  He doesn’t drag it out, waiting for us to wonder too much.  We’ve had a little of that already.  People want to get information when they want it, not when someone decides to give it to them.  By using the clothing scenario, Mulholland has opened our minds to this possibility, and now he has given us a token of wisdom concerning innovation.  He says, “Innovation isn’t about doing something new.  Innovation is almost always about stopping doing something old.”

3:04-4:06

Mulholland turns to giving us some visuals that we can use to compare and follow the points he is talking about.  He shows two graphs that differ drastically.  We see his points clearly and he conveys his message in a humorous way.  Then, he gives us some insights into his personal life as well as his father’s.  He backs up what he is saying by addressing his past.  We believe in this idea, we are on the same page because we see a an analysis of his life running parallel to his points.  He is living and working the way he says that most people are living and working.  After he has convinced us of this, and we see his point clearly, he moves on to another point by addressing the idea of Experience vs. Expertise.

4:06-5:23

Now, we’re getting into the heart of the presentation.  Mulholland digs deeper into the current problem of age and salary. While the former system meant that the older you are the more money you make because of the experience you have, the newer model suggests that expertise, not experience, is the more valuable asset for a company to have.  People are retiring earlier because they have been replaced by younger, more specifically talented and trained new employees.  After showing two more graphs that illustrate his point, Mulholland explains the bigger idea in terms of a real, current problem.  He directly tells the audience that they should be afraid of what’s to come.  By doing this, he is preparing a call-to-action and  instilling a tiny initiative into the audience in order to promote action.  We will see the development of this idea later on in the presentation.  As he makes the declaration, “I think every 30-year-old in the room should be crapping themselves,” the audience begins to laugh loudly, to which Mulholland responds with more humor.

5:23-6:07

Mulholland goes on to explain that everyone is plateauing earlier, including himself.  People in their 20s are so excited to learn and update their skill sets.  They eventually become less valuable to their companies due to more and more specialization by other, newer employees.  At this point in the presentation, Mulholland is once again bringing his personal struggle with this issue into play.  We are invested in the idea because we see that our speaker is also personally invested in the subject matter.

6:07-8:50

We are on the backward slope of the issue at this point.  We have come across the main topic, discussed and setup the climax and then revealed the true problem.  Now, Mulholland is explaining the effects of the problem, and how we can begin to come to terms with the issue.  He puts into perspective the central message: all of the rules have changed.  We can’t keep looking at our careers in the same, traditional way.  He is setting the audience up for a solution.  He uses passion and exciting body language to keep us interested in the subject matter, which will be crucial for him to do as he in the next few minutes.

8:50-9:57

Mulholland has reached a solution.  He has clearly stated the answer to this problem.  We have experienced the build-up of the issue, and now we are about to take action in order to solve it.  Mulholland displays a clear slide with the sentence, “We need to shorten the distance between education and execution.”  The structure thus far has been consistent.  Mulholland has given us examples of how each portion of the problem affects our lives, and now we come to see a possible resolution to the issue.  He proposes that we stop schooling earlier, begin working and then integrate education into the remainder of our lives.  We never need to stop learning.

9:57-12:34

As we wrap up the presentation, we are given a thorough, clear understanding of the necessary steps to change the system.  He gives us an original set of instructions that can be used to change the “business model” of educational institutions.  There are three main points: 1)Sell-by Date for degrees 2)Subscription model for learning 3)Relevance is Key for maintaining functional, efficient employees.  Now, we have a few concrete rules that we could follow in order to fully integrate education into our working adult lives.  Then, Mulholland seals his proposition with a quote.  This is a very good technique for concluding talks because it not only gives the audience a tangible piece of information, but a relevant quotation encompasses the essence of the overall idea.  It reminds and reinforces the goals that the speaker has laid out.  Mulholland closes the presentation in a quick, simple manner, which makes his last words easily digestible for the audience.

So, there you have it!

This piece is rather short, but informative, and most importantly, fun.  Mulholland is a lively, passionate presenter who goes in a clear direction, not stopping or lulling the audience to sleep.  He keeps the energy flowing and the thoughts brewing for his audience, and we are enchanted by his fresh approach to an engaging topic.  Overall, this presentation gives us a chance to experience and learn in a thrilling environment, and we walk away feeling refreshed and informed with a sense of joy at having been a part of it.

Now, the real question is: how do you feel about this presentation?  Are there any key points that we have missed or that you would like to discuss?  As always, subscribe to our YouTube channel, leave us some feedback below or on our Facebook page, or tweet us at @BigFishPresCo!

Download our latest white-paper – Seven Ways to Rock Your Next Presentation

15 Jul

Kenny here. Today, I’d like to give our loyal blog followers, a nice little present from the Big Fish Presentations team.

You can now download our newest white-paper Seven Ways to Rock Your Next Presentation by clicking on the picture above or clicking the link here. It’s our first white-paper, and I personally am rather proud of it. But that doesn’t mean you should hold back on your thoughts. Feel free to leave us any comments, thoughts and opinions, as we’ll be looking to update this whitepaper within the next couple of months.

If you’re new to our blog, feel free to subscribe in the right hand side and get dibs on the latest presentation news and offerings from our team at Big Fish.

Happy presenting!

– Kenny Nguyen, Big Fish Presentations

5 Killer Ways to Open Up Your Next Presentation

23 May

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Did you know modern statistics state that you have 60 seconds or less to capture your audience’s attention?

You’ve might have heard it before, but maybe not in terms of presentations.  It’s crucial to understand the importance of grasping an audience’s attention in the first moments of a talk.  Your opening lines set the tone for your overall performance, so a great opener will prepare and intrigue the audience and ensure that your message is effectively received.

So, how do you enchant an audience right off the bat?

Here are 5 methods that we have found work the best for beginning a presentation.  

1. Stories

Stories are always memorable.  We crave stories because we all have them.  Proposing this shared experience with your audience allows them to identify with you on a personal level.  Now that you’ve established a connection with your listeners and viewers, you can merge your message with their thoughts while keeping them engaged and entertained.  Just remember to keep the story relevant to the requested topic/event you were asked to speak about in order to maximize effectiveness.

[For example, our CEO Kenny Nguyen recently spoke at a conference where the talked-about theme was the subject of serendipity. Watch how he opens his presentation here with his own story of serendipity and how his story created a playful and engaging bond with the audience, setting the tone for the rest of the presentation.]

2. Questions

A question is an excellent tool for jump-starting audience engagement.  A simple “How’s everyone doing?” opens up a forum of sorts for the audience, empowering them and making them more receptive to your message.  A question also makes the audience think for themselves about a topic that you control.  This is a great way to set and reinforce the agenda of your choice while giving the audience a sense of power.

3. Quotes

Referencing the words and thoughts of an expert in relation to your message is useful for establishing an overarching theme or general idea aout the topic.  You are imparting wisdom on your audience while creating a segway into your own topic.  Since you have primed the audience with a nugget of value, your information now appears to be equally as valuable. Just make sure you follow up the quote with an explanation of how it empowers your topic and how it is relevant.

[For example, don’t use a powerful quote such as Nelson Mandela’s “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” then go on a completely different subject that doesn’t tie in education. It’ll just seem like a sad attempt to make you seem smarter than you really are.]

4. Statistics

Normally, numbers or any type of data can seem boring in a presentation.  However, when used correctly, statistics can be very effective in illuminating your topic.  The key is to use very clear, accurate and relevant information in order to truly engage your audience.  A solid statistic places your incoming message in a concrete, irrefutable and trusted frame of reference.  Data not only provides your presentation with a trusted source, but also lends credibility to everything you say thereafter.

[For example, during Steve Jobs’ first keynote introducing the first generation Ipod music player, he stated that his new device had 5 gigabytes of data. He then made it relevant to his target market of the common consumer by explaining that 5 gigabytes of data gets you up to 5000 songs. This explanation made a normally boring description of data storage sound simple to understand, exciting (that’s a lot of songs), and most importantly relevant to his target audience. See here for video.]

5. Jokes

Humor is extremely powerful and is often used effectively.  A good joke can loosen up your audience and make them more receptive to you as a person as well as to your message.  Be warned, though, that humor is highly volatile.  A bad joke can be worse than no joke at all.  Make sure you have a scope for your target audience before you dive into a dud of a joke.

[A great resource you can reference is a book called, “Comedy Writing Secrets: The Best-Selling Book on How to Think Funny, Write Funny, Act Funny, and Get Paid for It.”]

_____________________________________________________________

Well, there you have it.  Use these techniques in your next presentation to prepare, engage, control and entertain your audience.  Like all things, these methods are only suggestions and their effectiveness depends heavily on delivery.  Make them your own, and you will appear more natural and fluid in your performance.

What do you think?  Are these useful? Leave us a comment below or on Facebook and/or tweet us your thoughts!  We are huge fans of feedback!

If you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog and our YouTube channel on the righthand side for more intern videos and behind-the-scenes looks of the Big Fish team!

5 Fears of Public Speaking and How to Overcome Them:

18 May

Scared of public speaking? Today’s post “5 Fears of Public Speaking and How to Overcome Them” can be seen as a guest post found on Wave Accounting’s blog website, part of their Small Business 500 series.

Would love to hear feedback, and props to Wave Accounting for being so awesome.

Special Thanks to the Baton Rouge Zoo for the Amazing Hospitality:

15 May

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Today’s post is a recap of yesterday’s team retreat at the Zoo:

My graphic designer Corey recently asked me when can we go out more than ten miles as a team, and it got me thinking. I was already going to see the Baton Rouge Zoo on possibly doing some work together, and I thought,”Why don’t we just all go together?” Maybe we can all share our creativity and perhaps bond on this trip. So I let Phil Frost the director of the Baton Rouge Zoo know of my idea, and he was very receptive. I had no idea what he had in store for us though.

When we arrived Monday morning, Phil and his team members Mary Woods and Sam Winslow blew away expectations by giving us a VIP tour of the zoo before even speaking about work. Which was smart because we learned quite a bit about the history behind the zoo and the animals. He even let us go behind the giraffe exhibit to feed them. Definitely crossed “going behind an animal exhibit” off my bucket list.

On a research level, I never knew the impact it has on wildlife preservation. For example, did you know the Baton Rouge Zoo participates in 30 species survival plans for critically endangered species such as the Black Rhino? We’re talking about incredible animals here.

Needless to say we had an amazing time, and I would highly recommend going to visit the Baton Rouge zoo with your family or even company team as it’s a great place to get out, relax, and think of new ideas. If you’re ever considering donations for a great program, this is definitely one to take a look at.

We’re currently chalking up ideas on how to play our part and can’t wait to share!

Till next time,

Kenny Nguyen, CEO/Founder Big Fish Presentations