Tag Archives: present

The WOW Factor: How to Stand Out As A Speaker

26 Jul

You’ve been in that terrible position.  That dull, mind-numbing state of being that we call the boring presentation.

Lemme guess.  It’s in a dark room.  There’s a projector showing a handful of abysmal graphs and an endless list of bullet points.  These things are bad, but the worst part is that your speaker is droning in a monotone fashion.  It’s a show we’ve all seen many times before, and yet nothing changes.  We continue to experience these run-of-the-mill catastrophes because speakers are focusing too much on the information and aren’t thinking enough about their delivery.  Without at least a clean and clear delivery, your audience won’t care enough to listen to the content.

Remember: Content is King, but Delivery is his Queen.  The king makes the decisions, but the queen gets the people’s attention.  He is powerful, but she is beautiful.  You need both to rule the kingdom.

So, what to do about this problem?  How do we transform a boring speaker into a master of style and confidence?

Well, great speakers possess certain attributes that give them the spark that audiences crave.  At Big Fish Presentations, we have come up with three qualities that we believe will make you a memorable and exciting presenter.  These three things combine to give you the “WOW” factor.

The WOW Factor means you’ve got to be:

Well-versed

In order to appear confident, you’ve got to actually be confident.  The best way to be confident is by being a know-it-all when it comes to your topic.  Practice, practice, practice.  Then, practice some more.  You want to be able to relax and breathe properly while you speak, which you can’t do if you’re visibly struggling to remember certain points.  Audiences are smart.  They can easily tell if you know what you’re talking about or not.  Become extremely comfortable with your material beforehand, and you will have no problem presenting to crowds of any size.  Pretty soon you’ll be a well-oiled machine, ready to rock any venue like a true boss.

Original

The problem with many inexperienced presenters is that they lack originality.  They get by in their presentations by repeating the same jokes, using the exact same words and speaking like they always have.  It seems as if they just go through the motions, not diverging from habit.  Whether it’s because they are scared to leave their comfort zone or because they are too busy or lazy to change the routine, the fact remains that their audiences suffer.  Once again, audiences are smart, and they can tell if you’re just going through a process.  Now, this attribute might seem contradictory to the first point: being well-versed.  However, being comfortable with your material and simply repeating the exact same words over and over are two very different things.  Being well-versed means that you have done your research and are able to answer any question that comes your way.  Being unoriginal involves the memorization of lines, sounding forced as you speak and not truly delving into the subject matter, but skimming the surface with your old routine.  The point is that you should be fresh and innovative in your approach to presentations.  Give your audience a new, exciting show every time you present.  If it is new to you, it will be even newer to your audience, which excites and entertains them.

Weird

I know what you’re thinking.  “Why would I want to be weird? That’s weird.” Here’s the way I look at it. Wouldn’t you rather be different than be normal?  The average presenter is someone who goes under an audience’s radar.  If you want to be a great speaker, you’ve got to break away from the norm.  You’ve got to be unique enough that people can’t help but be captivated by your energy and your passion.  Keep your audience guessing by livening up your delivery and putting a fun spin on your content to make it more easily digestible.  Don’t let any type of information remain typical and boring.  You can’t afford to get too comfortable with your delivery.  Your audience deserves better than that!

Having the WOW Factor isn’t difficult to acquire.  You’ve just got to do some thinking about your material, your delivery and most importantly your audience.  You are like a host at your very own party.  You don’t want your party to be drab or boring.  You want to have the best parties with the best activities and the best personalities.  Your parties are awesome because you give your attendees something of value, something of true worth to them that makes them want to come to the next one.  So, make your presentations the best that you can by “wow-ing” them at every point in the presentation.

Was this helpful?  Do you want to know more about having the WOW Factor?  Please don’t hesitate to contact us, whether through the comments below, on our Facebook or Twitter pages or via e-mail at hq@bigfishpresentations.com!  Check out our YouTube channel to see the latest Big Fish news and projects.  We’d love for you to stop by!

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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!

Introduction to Characters [An excerpt from “The Art of Storytelling”]

19 Mar

We’d like to share with you an excerpt from our up-and-coming e-book, “The Art of Storytelling.”  This is a section from a chapter about Character.  

Check it out, and let us know what you think!

Continue reading

A Very Brief History of Storytelling

28 Feb

Stories have existed long before recorded history, and the telling of stories has changed forms drastically throughout the ages.  From cave painting to novels to movies, stories have always fascinated mankind.  Although the methods have changed, the desire to tell and hear stories has remained unchanged, and still greatly impacts the way we look at life.

The earliest form of storytelling that has been discovered is from the Lascaux Caves in the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France.  Discovered in 1940 by a group of French children, a series of cave paintings that date back to sometime between 15000 and 13,000 B.C. depicted a variety of animals and one image of a human being.  When closely examined, this mural of sorts actually follows a very simplistic series of events.  It tells of rituals performed and hunting practices.  It tells a story.

Flash forward to 700 B.C.  The first printed story, the epic of Gilgamesh, was created and began to spread from Mesopotamia to other parts of Europe and Asia.  The story was carved on stone pillars for all to see, which spread the story around very quickly.

In the 200s B.C., Aesop’s fables were written down, and continue to teach lessons today in many areas of life.  Aesop lived in the 500s B.C., but his stories were remembered for hundreds of years without a single shred of paper or other printed material.  Isn’t that amazing?  Oral storytelling was so powerful and people remembered Aesop’s tales so well that even 300 years later the stories were revered enough for mass production.

Storytellers began to arise as very important figures in a community.  The ability to tell stories effectively and memorably was a very valuable skill.   Why?  As wars were fought and valiant deeds were done, the people needed some way to remember them.  Instead of simply stating what happened, stories began to emerge as a way to preserve the raw emotions and sequence of events of the actual event.

The Bible’s Old Testament spoke of men and women, of tales and lessons learned that occurred many, many years before they were written.  A majority of the books relied on solid resources for their writings.  What were these resources?  Stories.  People witnessed events, heard the stories and kept them alive through word of mouth.  They told their friends, families and communities about the events, and a chain was formed, one link, one storyteller, at a time.

Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets weren’t meant to be published, but his status became legendary once they were.  He was known as a great storyteller to many of his close friends, but soon became immortalized in the pieces that he produced.  From a young street rat in London to being taught in every school hundreds of years later, he made his mark on literature forever.  How did he do it?

Storytelling.

Steve Jobs was famous for his keynotes.   Whether launching new products or making an announcement, he agonized for hours over the details of his presentations.  People were amazed at his ability to craft a narrative, to create and maintain suspense and to deliver a solid message.  It wasn’t dazzling special effects or crazy props.

It was storytelling.

History is nothing but a series of stories that, when told correctly, can teach us lessons, give us insights into a variety of concepts, or entertain us.  Every story serves a purpose, even if to simply relay a message.  Without history, without chronicled stories, mankind would never learn from his mistakes, would never dream to emulate past heroes, would never see anything but the now.  We would be clueless to the past, and therefore helpless for the future.

We all crave stories because they allow us to sympathize with characters.  Tell your audience a story, and you will gain their support.  You will create a following for your cause and inspire your audience to act and believe.

In your next presentation, remember the power of storytelling.  Remember that even in a straightforward business presentation, a story helps to illustrate a point better than a set of facts.  A story gives people a reason to care about what you’re saying.  They relate to the characters, the plot and the lessons learned.  They relate to your story, and therefore your message.

So, what’s your story?

5 Valuable and Highly Effective Prezi Tips

9 Feb

There’s a shift occurring in the presentation world.

It’s been happening slowly, but is picking up pace as people are beginning to “get” how important presentations really are to your business, organization or brand.

As this shift takes place, new tools have emerged to facilitate growth in the presentation industry.

One of these tools is Prezi.

Prezi has emerged as an excellent tool in presentations because it makes them fun and engaging.  At Big Fish Presentations, Prezi is one of our requested creation tools, and it has had a tremendous impact on the way we think about and create presentations.

Over time, through many projects and countless discussions, we have learned a few things about how to improve your experience with Prezi.

Here are a few tips to help you out in your next presentation.

1. Utilize Perspective

Unlike Powerpoint, Prezi is a very diverse in its movement and transitions.  Instead of keeping your audience in a tiny box, Prezi literally has the capability to take viewers outside that box and take them on a ride.

If used correctly, Prezi can be an adventure, an exciting display of color and designs that your audience will truly enjoy.  We use perspective in our Presenting An Experience” presentation by zooming in and around the screen.  Notice how the perspective changes dramatically at times.  This gives depth to your presentation and allows your audience to enjoy the content instead of simply watching bullet points fade in and out.

(Note: Don’t be too crazy with the zooming and speed.   See tip number 3.)

2. More graphics than words

A picture is worth a thousand words.  This is a cliché, of course, but it absolutely applies in Prezi.  An image can tell a story in many different ways than a group of words can. Slim down your content and enrich the meaning with a visual treat for the audience.

Create a centralized image that sets up a theme.  Your audience will be more likely to look back on your presentation and recall that image.  They will remember your story. In our presentation for Celtic Media Centre, we used the image of the projector screen to tie the whole theme of film together.  The audience didn’t just see a set of points.  There was character attached to the content, which is always more memorable and effective.

3. Control your movement

Use control in your zooming and flying around.  No one wants to be taken for a ride so crazy that they have no idea what the points presented even meant.  Find a balance of exciting movement and steady pace.  Make sure that every time there’s a dramatic flip, there’s a reason for it.

Keep your movements simple and fun, not wildly experimental and nauseating.  An example of a Prezi that uses a measured pace and dynamic movement is our Raising Cane’s presentation.  Do you see and feel the rhythm we created?  Keeping it light and wispy, but meaningful and rhythmic is crucial in keeping your audience’s attention while you make your points.

4. Incorporate outside programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, etc.)

Don’t limit yourself.  A Prezi made with only the tools provided within the program can often result in a bland, run-of-the-mill experience for your viewers.  Incorporate things that can’t be done in Prezi to enrich the experience.  Your audience deserves it.

How?

Use creative programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for rich graphics and professional quality design.  For a video, use iMovie, FinalCut, or Adobe Premiere to give your audience the experience that best displays your brand, organization, company, etc.  We incorporated video in our work for New Orleans Entreprenur Week , and it worked very well to diversify the presentation.  Our audience was able to sit back and enjoy a video for a few minutes before moving on to the next point.  High-quality design and video heightens aesthetics and boosts your audience’s morale.

5. Choose a color scheme and be consistent

Prezi is very user-friendly, but this can be a bad thing.  Oftentimes, people with little or no design experience create presentations that incorporate mismatched and, sometimes downright ugly, color schemes.  It’s imperative that you not only choose a color scheme, but that you stick with it and maintain a consistent theme throughout your presentation.

Choosing the color scheme can be difficult if you aren’t sure which colors work well together to convey certain points.  However, there are loads of sites to help with color choice.  Our team of designers chooses color carefully and works with our copywriting team to produce the most appropriate and effective combination.  See our Blue Cross Blue Shield presentation for an example of a consistent color scheme.

 

These are simply tips, not commandments.  Feel free to do with them what you’d like.  We have found that they work for us, and our customers have come back for more because we integrated these techniques into our work.

So, what do you think?

Were these helpful?

We hope so.  If you’d like more tips for Prezi or general advice, please leave us some questions below, tweet us, or post on our Facebook!

Happy presenting!

-Big Fish Presentations