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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.

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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.”]

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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!

7 Ways to Prepare and Rock your Next Presentation

13 May

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There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.”  – Mark Twain, American author and humorist

Kenny here. It’s been a very busy month at Big Fish Presentations and while I haven’t been able to post regularly, I’d like to make the effort today to discuss a topic that’s very important for all presenters. Many audience members that attend my presentations frequently ask me, how do I appear so confident and calm on stage (despite AV equipment crashing when I’m delivering a presentation on presentations: see here). As much as I’d like to say that it’s because I’m just that awesome, I’d be a liar. I’ll admit that I’m actually pretty nervous.

And that’s a good thing, because if I wasn’t nervous I’d probably wouldn’t care too much on the subject that I’m presenting about.

I’ll be the first to admit that the confident and cool persona I show is due to many rigorous hours of practice and preparation. And today I’d like to share with you my steps of preparation and practice for all of my presentations. These steps below are steps that I can personally guarantee that world-famous presenters like Steve Jobs, Bill Clinton, and Martin Luther King have practiced at one point in their career. Practice makes perfect after all.

So without further adieu, here are 7 tips to help you prepare and rock your next presentation:

1) Find out what you’re passionate about.

Grasp the subject, the words will follow.” ~ Cato The Elder, Roman statesman

If you don’t care about what you have to say, why should the audience care? Find a way to discover what makes you passionate in the subjects you speak about. This passion is essential in portraying positive and good body language. Once you find that passion, research and learn intricately about what your subject is.  Use that information to piece together a simplistic and engaging presentation that will inspire audiences to listen to you. Just make sure to…

2) Find out who your audience is.

Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel. “~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher, lecturer, essayist, and poet

Find out who your audience is. It’s important because you don’t want to try a joke on pop culture at a senior citizen conference. Chances are, cricket noises can be heard. Research before your presentation: who your audience is, what their interests are, when are they attending your presentation (audiences in the later day tend to get tired and less attentive), where are they coming to see you, and why are they attending your presentation. Be respectful to your audience and their time.

3) Outline your Presentation

Public speaking is the art of diluting a two-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary.” – Evan Esar, American Humorist

Outlining is a very important step to find out what major points you should focus on in your presentation. This process builds the canvas for the actual script and the thought roadmap for your audience on where the presentation is going. For example, in my “3 Ways to Deliver a Kick-Ass Presentation” presentation, I knew I was going to speak about 3 things: storytelling, simplistic design, and passion. This set an outline for my presentation as shown below:

  • Story Opener:
  • Explanation of opener and relevance to presentation:
  • Introduction of Topics:
    • Storytelling
    • Simplistic Design
    • Passion
  • Thesis Statement:
  • Main Idea One: Storytelling
    • Creating Stories
    • Activity
    • What makes great TED speakers
  • Main Idea Two: Simplistic Design
    • KISS Principle
    • Use More Imagery
    • Use less text and animations
  • Main Idea Three: Passion
    • Have fun while you’re presenting
    • Keep in mind the 38-55-7% Rule!
    • Questions to ask yourself when you present:
  • Conclusion
    • How to implement these practices
    • How audiences remember presenters more than presentation
    • How to combine these three ideas into your next presentation

After developing this outline, I then was able to fill in the supporting content below the bullet points. This resulted in me being able to maintain structure, flow, and control before writing my script.

4) Script your presentation.

A speech is like a woman’s skirt: it needs to be long enough to cover the subject matter but short enough to hold the audience’s attention.” – Author Unknown

Using your outline, begin to write the verbiage and supporting content you’d like to use when actually speaking.  But remember to keep it simple, short, and to the point! Always ask yourself after making a statement, “So what?” Why should the audience care? Is what you’re saying relevant to progressing the flow of the presentation? If not, remove it! Read the script regularly and hear if it sounds conversational rather than just informational.

Build the supporting content where it’s still easy to remember the key takeaways from the outline. Keep your content simple easy to digest. I’ll be honest that I personally feel like it’s more difficult to be simple sometimes, but at the end of the day I know my audience will appreciate it. After all, this presentation is more for them rather than myself.

NOTE: Also remember if using slides to not overload slides with content. You should be the one telling the audience why you’re excited, not the slides.

5) Tie in body, tone, and speech.

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

Now that you’re done with the script, it’s time to tie it in with the actual delivery of the presentation.

While it’s important to have great content, I believe it’s equally important, if not more, to be able to deliver it. A frequent rule I speak about is the 38-7-55% rule by psychologist Albert Meherbrian. This rule states that audiences tend to judge presentations 38% on vocal tone, 7% on verbal arrangement (actual content), and 55% of the body language (with facial expression being the most important). This is amazing considering that most people would think they are done by the time they finish the script right? Not so fast. Audiences remember the presenter more than the presentation, so presenters have got to be on their a-game during delivery.

Common questions to ask yourself when preparing your body language for a presentation: What hand gestures are you planning to use at certain points? What certain words do you want to emphasize in your statements? Would you like to include pauses after certain statements? Are the emotions you’re portraying on stage properly matching your content?

6) Conquer Stage Fright; visit the stage.

Best way to conquer stage fright is to know what you’re talking about.
– Michael H Mescon, Founder/Chairman of The Mescon Group

Now if you’re hundreds of miles away before your event and you’re unable to test out the presentation at the venue before the event, make a huge effort to test the equipment out at least 24 hours ahead of time. You never know what can go wrong. Whether it’s the clicker dying, the presentation being incompatible with the venue’s computer system, the A/V system crashing, or even the resolution of the monitors being terrible for your slides, something always can go wrong. Come prepared with an action backup plan.

After all, if something goes wrong there’s the saying that “the show must go on”. It’s your fault for not being prepared and not the venue’s.

7) Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” -Mark Twain, American author and humorist

Practice makes perfect. Say the presentation to yourself and ask yourself constantly, “Would you want to sit through this presentation?” If not, back to the drawing board. Rehearse your presentation multiple times before you begin. I usually prepare piece by piece, then do 1-3 run-throughs of the actual presentation. A very helpful strategy I perform before big presentations is to record myself delivering the actual presentation. That way I can catch the verbal disfluencies, body language mishaps, and confusing statements that need to be revised.

When I’m not embarrassed to watch myself presenting, then I know I’m ready.

It also doesn’t hurt to present in front of trusted colleagues and hear their comments. You never know what last minute revisions you may be able to make that could improve your presentation.

All in all, rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse.

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If this blog post helped you on your next presentation please let us know at hq@bigfishpresentations.com. We love to hear feedback from our readers and would love to answer any questions you may have on presentations.

To keep updated with Big Fish Presentations, please subscribe to our blog to find out our latest presentation tricks and strategies.

Thank you for your time visiting our blog today and happy presenting!

– Kenny Nguyen, CEO/Founder of Big Fish Presentations

INNOV8

25 Apr

Here at Big Fish, we stick by our belief that it takes studying great work in order to create great work.  Without analyzing the masters of an art, it is impossible to produce work of the same caliber.  So, in order to give you all a sense of work that we admire and perceive as some of the greatest, we have broken down two presentations, providing commentary and insights.  Enjoy!

Ken Robinson – “Schools Kill Creativity”

 

0:36 – Begins with a joke

Starting the presentation with humor warms up the audience to Robinson’s presence and gets us acquainted with his style.  We are slightly emotionally invested in Robinson because we can appreciate his insights as being relative to our own in some sense.

 

0:43 – Jumps into the three themes of the conference thus far, explaining each and providing commentary.

We have established an outline of the presentation, which has given us direction in terms of the two major concepts that we are about to explore: Education and Creativity.

 

3:32 – Makes another joke

A pattern has emerged that illuminates Robinson’s personality.  He is lighthearted and witty. He has already captivated the audience, keeping them intrigued and laughing.

3:45 – Tells two humorous stories

Robinson’s stories are both funny and useful to the purpose of the presentation.  Robinson explains that despite being wrong, the fundamental sense of confidence that children possess, which often leads to creative solutions.

 

6:01 – Applies this concept to the current state of education and subsequent workplace of today’s children.

Robinson has given us useful, memorable examples and applied them to a concept.  This tactic of storytelling combined with humor makes the concept stick more effectively in the audience’s mind.  We remember those children and the reinforcement of the concept makes the message resonate thoroughly.

 

6:57 – Proposes the idea of a young Shakespeare

Robinson uses this seemingly irrelevant rant to subtly keep the audience’s mind engaged with the concept.  At this point, Robinson is nursing the concept, drawing the crowd in with stories and questions about various scenarios.  He has expertly blended humor, concept and story into the audience’s mind, and we are truly enjoying the learning process.

 

7:53 – Segways into a short, personal anecdote about his son’s girlfriend

This is really the first time that Robinson strays from the central message of the presentation.  Thus far, his stories have added value to his concepts, but in this section he is simply giving the audience a glimpse into his past, his experiences.  By letting the audience see and hear of Robinson’s past, we are becoming increasingly invested emotionally.  We can sympathize with his feelings through his commentary.  We relate to him as a human being, and therefore trust his judgment as he prepares to delve into the heart of the concept.

8:43 – Shifts into an explanation of educational hierarchy  

            At this point, Robinson has shifted from small stories to explaining the structure of education in modern society.  He is getting to the meat, so to speak, of the problem and addressing it head-on. 

 

11:27 – Addresses the reason for the current system of education (i.e. history, thought process, etc.)

Robinson diagnoses the problem of education by attributing its misdirection to the direct need for jobs or positions in companies.  Robinson is slowly etching away at the core issue, breaking it down into segments with stories and/or ideas in between points. 

 

11:55 – “The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.”

 We have now reached a slight turning point in the presentation.  Robinson is not introducing concepts for a base any longer.  Instead, he is using the foundation that he has created to push forward with a larger idea, a real-world application that involves speculation and requires action.

 

13:02 – Introduces the idea of “academic inflation” and the need to “radically re-think our view of intelligence.”

This term has risen as a result of Robinson’s theory of a revolution in education.  He has explained the problems by illustrating examples.  He has addressed the structure of the system.  Now, he is defining a set of new ideas that are aimed specifically at said problems and structure.

 

13:10 – Explains the three qualities of intelligence: diverse, dynamic and distinct

Although late in the presentation, Robinson’s 3 D’s of intelligence is perfectly timed.  After laying out concepts, providing anecdotes and proposing solutions, Robinson’s tactic of introducing elements of intelligence so late only reinforces, not weakens, the foundation thus far.  By re-hashing, so to speak, the ideas he has presented, Robinson is able to keep the concept fresh in the audience’s mind. 

            *A common mistake in presentations is to push the points out up front.  This leaves the audience with nothing to look forward to, but it also leaves room for the audience to forget the points.  Save your most valuable information for the latter stages of your presentation to ensure it resonates.

 

17:54 – Wraps up the presentation with a final series of statements about reforming education for the future by using and exploring creativity in our children.

Here is the call to action, the final request by Robinson of the audience to change the way we perceive education.  He has provided us with examples of students who have done remarkable things with their talents.  He has given us statistics, quotes and case studies.  However, the most important section of this presentation, and most all presentations, is its call to action.  Without it, this would just be meaningless musings on a topic.  The call to action gives meaning and strength to the message being presented, while challenging the audience to participate independent of Robinson or TED.

 

Message:

            The structure and practices of public education are in dire need of redirection.  Creativity is being stifled to make way for practical solutions to industry.  This pattern cannot continue.  The human mind needs imagination in order to provide solutions to world problems.  Without creativity, we will be stagnant, and our practical solutions today will be irrelevant tomorrow.

            Sir Ken Robinson charms the audience with short stories, inspiring concepts and bits of humor.  However, he ties all of these elements together with an overarching theme of education reform through embracing creativity.

 

 

Steve Jobs – “Stanford Commencement”

:34 – :50: Jobs introduces himself as a college dropout and establishes a way to relate w/ the audience.

:50 -:54:  Jobs sets a “thought roadmap” for audience by saying presentation will consist of 3 stories (Rule of 3)

:57-1:00: Explains Story Theme is “Connecting the Dots.”

1:01-2:08: Tells background of his birth to set the stage of Steve attending college.

2:09-2:11: Steve tells the audience how he dropped out of college and was looking for purpose. This is the changing point in the story and a way he can relate to college students looking to find their way.

3:30-4:41: Leads into story of how Jobs dropped into calligraphy classes. Explains how those classes affected the typography of the Mac.  (Basically the purpose of the story is how college can impact your life.)

5:00-5:37: Explains meaning of story

5:39-5:42: Announces Story Theme Two is “Love & Loss”

5:43 –7:16: Explains how he loved building Apple into a 4000 employee company. But then he lost everything when Apple kicked him out. This set the stage of him coming back and how him getting kicked out of Apple was the best thing to ever happen.

7:17-8:54: Explains meaning of Story

9:06-9:08: Announces Story Theme Three is “Death”

9:10-9:18: Use quote on death to set basis of story and how it impacts Job’s view on life.

10:11-11:33: Explains how he had pancreatic cancer and came close to dying. Managed to beat cancer and see life in a different way. This sets the stage of Jobs reflecting on how he should live his life.

11:45-12:51: Explains meaning of story

13:08-13:22 – Closes speech with a conclusion story that tells you the point of the stories. “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish.” Strong close with a quote.

Why this presentation succeeds:

  • Used Rule of Three to give audience a “thought roadmap”
  • Had a consistent structure for three main points of speech.
    • State Theme of Story=> Tell Story => Explain Meaning of Story
    • Detailed how going to college was integral to a Fortune 100 company’s success (creates a way to relate with the audience and they can do it too!).

So, as you can see this can be a long process, but it’s worth it in the end.  After studying this, you can see how much work goes into mapping out the structure, choosing the right wording, etc. in a presentation.  It takes planning and timing, as well as many other small, crucial elements to present effectively.

What do you think about these presentations?  Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page or Tweet us!