Tag Archives: presentation

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!

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

The Power of the Pause

27 Jun

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.” – Mark Twain

“Um, you know, like…”

You’ve heard it many, many times in your daily life.  Whether it’s your friend telling a story, your teacher giving a lesson, or even at a professional business pitch or speech.  I bet you say it all of the time and don’t even realize it!

This little phrase and others like it are what we call “filler words.”  You use them when you don’t know what to say.  There is a momentary gap in your thoughts, and you have fallen into the habit of filling that space with small, useless phrases in order to compensate.  We can’t help but to maintain the rhythm of our speech, so we subconsciously resort to sputtering out what we think covers our lack of direction.

However, it does just the opposite. Instead of sounding smooth, we sound as if we have no idea what we’re talking about. We seem unorganized and unconfident.

Why is it so hard to be silent in between our thoughts?  Why does there have to be a constant stream of sound when we speak?

The root of the problem lies in our lack of patience.  Most of us can’t stand to wait in between our sentences because we feel too slow and deliberate.  It isn’t in our nature to pause in our speech because we don’t pause in our thoughts.  However, learning to pause in our thoughts increases our odds of finding the right word, phrase or point.  This is beneficial to your audience, who are listening to you because they want good, clear ideas presented to them.

Although we don’t realize it, the people who listen to us actually crave silence.  Silence gives them a chance to digest the information being presented to us.  It gives them a chance to breathe.  We all have that friend that just can’t or won’t slow down to talk.  They speak a million miles a minute.  You just want to calm them down and get the information out in a reasonable fashion.  It’s the same with presentations or speeches.

Robert Byrd, a U.S. Senator and notable orator once said, “There can be an art in the use of a pause. I find nothing wrong with a pause. It does not have to be filled with a you know. This phrase, like so many others,” Byrd added, “betrays a mind whose thoughts are often so disorganized as to be unutterable—a mind in neutral gear coupled to a tongue stuck in overdrive.”

Slow down.  Breathe.  Think.  Your audience will appreciate it, I promise.

When you are speaking in front of a crowd, your heart rate accelerates (no matter how calm  you may think you are).  Because of this acceleration, every second seems like a minute.  People often get on stage and can’t remember everything they said because they were so focused on getting the information out quickly and walking off stage away from all of the eyes and ears in the room.

If you can train yourself (and yes, it takes training to do this effectively) to pause a second or two longer than you think you can bear it, you will benefit as a speaker.

How, you ask? Well, for several reasons, actually.

Firstly, by pausing in between sentences you are helping your audience listen.  Your audience isn’t worried about trying to grab information or ideas as it comes whizzing by.  Instead, they can absorb information at a reasonable speed, and therefore be more engaged as an audience.

In addition, the pause improves your demeanor as a speaker.  You appear more confident when you get your message across in a direct manner, rather than diluting the meaning of your words.  Ideas are stronger and more valuable when they aren’t littered with irrelevant, essentially meaningless babble.

Finally, the silence allows you to breathe.  Taking a breath before you speak helps tremendously because it allows more oxygen to go to your brain, which allows you to focus on choosing the right words.  An extra breath also gives your voice more gusto, which subsequently makes your words more attractive for your listeners.

In order to master the art of the pause, it takes practice and patience.  An effective exercise involves slowly reading a good, tight piece of writing aloud.  Pick up a newspaper, research a good written speech or just read a children’s book.  Take your time and pause in between phrases that go together.  Do this for a few paragraphs each day and you will begin to notice your heart rate decelerating and your words becoming clearer.

So remember, take your time in your speeches or presentations.  Use your words wisely, and pause to focus on finding a solid, patient rhythm.  Your audience will appreciate your ideas, and you will get your message across more clearly.

After all, silence is golden.

Be sure to leave us your thoughts on the power of the pause!  What do you struggle with the most in your presentations?  We’d love to help!

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Presentation Styles: Old School vs. New School

21 Jun

It’s an age-old argument.  Whether it’s music, fashion or lifestyle, people are constantly debating the pros and cons of old vs. new.  Do fundamentals outweigh breakthroughs?  Is a fresh approach more effective than maintaining tradition?

These questions are often very difficult to answer.  However, they are worth exploring.

At Big Fish, we frequently ponder this issue when it comes to giving and designing presentations.  There are many different approaches to presenting, all of which can be very effective when executed properly.

For example, when presenting to a small audience it can be very beneficial to the speaker to go more old school.  Talk to your audience as if they are actually people.  A tech-show to 5-10 people feels impersonal and can seem like overkill.  Forget the fancy motion graphics and charts if you are covering internal information.  Flashy doesn’t impress everyone, especially if they are your co-workers.

On the other hand, if you’re presenting to a larger crowd, technology can play to your strengths.  Since you can’t fully engage everyone in such a massive group, using a digital setup is great for keeping your audience on their toes and entertained.

What about design?

A simplistic design (old school) is nice in almost every single situation.  Our job is to simplify content and break it down so that it is easily digestible for your audience.  A blur of color, sound and information loses retention with your audience.  Make sure to include all of the information, whether on the slide or in your own words, but don’t overload them.

A new school approach to design is to be loud and attention-grabbing.  This approach is effective if the tone of the content is in sync with your design.  For example, if you are presenting about next quarter’s projections, you probably shouldn’t use funky fonts and grainy textures.  You should keep it elegant and clean, just like the information.  However, if you are giving a presentation about a rock band, the flavor of the design should be that of the style – spunky, fun and entertaining.

There are always exceptions to these insights.  Don’t be afraid to try something new or out of the ordinary.  The only thing you have to remember is your target audience.  What would they respond to the best?  What are they looking for? Craft your presentation to their perspectives and then WOW them with your mad presentation skills!

Which style do you think is most effective at which times?  What is your favorite style?

Let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page or by tweeting us! Also, check out our YouTube page and subscribe for our latest and greatest videos and projects!