Top 5 Presentation Tips from a Public Speaking Coach in Toronto

Your upcoming presentation is an important initiative. No doubt, you have an exciting message to convey to a sophisticated audience. Since your audience will be listening with great anticipation, it’s important to deliver opening remarks that lend credibility and sets the tone for the day. The content needs to be clear, brief/to the point, and impactful. Although the content is critical, it is not what will convince your audience — you will. As a public speaking coach in Toronto, I’ve helped many clients polish their presentation skills, and in this post, we will work on some of those key principles together. Truly powerful communication inspires audiences to action. As a speaker, your job is to persuade. Whether you seek to change beliefs, perspectives, or actions, all communication is geared towards changing something. The only way to change anything is by persuading the audience with ideas. The goal is to communicate clear, concise and convincing ideas. Let’s make sure your remarks convey your ideas and that your audience is prepared to commit to them at the end of your speech. The courage to speak with conviction elevates the definition of communication. As an expert, you want to focus on the ideas you believe your audience needs to hear.  At the onset, the audience may be skeptical or not agree with you. That’s why it’s so important to engage them from the start and be sure to persuade them in the end to commit to your idea. The presentation tips outlined below will help structure your speech in a way that is engaging to the audience right from the start.

1. Speak with Conviction

To speak from a point of belief and conviction, it must be clear in your mind, as to the reason why you are speaking to this audience. You can ask yourself: a) why are you speaking to this audience of senior executives? and b) why should they listen to you? Once this is clear in your mind, it will trigger your mindset and support you to speak from a point of belief and conviction.

2. Get to the Point in One Sentence

Build a relationship with your audience instantly by starting with a strong introduction.  Frame your introduction as a headline: Ex: “I believe THAT new finance will be the major driver of global economic growth. So much so, we at Company XYZ have invested $9B in R&D towards that.” Tell us in one sentence (7 words or less) what you want to talk about. Get to the point immediately, audiences will wander away if you don’t. Most speakers start from creating a context for their content in order to help the audience understand how they came to their conclusion. The problem is that the audience doesn’t know what the speaker is trying to prove or defend. So, they get lost, confused, and sleepy, and we hope they wake up for the big reveal and the call to action. People’s attention span is about 3-5 seconds. If the speaker is interesting, people will go in, out, in, out…if the speaker is not engaging from the start, people go in, out and stay out. The word THAT is useful in ensuring that the sentence is an active idea rather than a passive statement of fact.

  • The one idea I have is THAT…
  • The message I want to share is THAT…
  • My argument is THAT…

a) What do you want your audience to feel and think at the conclusion of your talk? b) What do you want your audience to do at the conclusion of your talk? It is not easy to ask. Although, whatever your ask is, it stands to reason that your chances of success skyrocket when you actually ask for what you want.

3. Identify Your Main Points

Answer the WHY Example: a) Every social advance has resulted from technological progress b) Industry 4.0 means huge opportunities and challenges for the financial sector Show the HOW Example: a) The global financial information platform will be based on cloud services and Big Data, and everyone will be more and more able to access the platform via apps on their mobile phones, anytime, anywhere. Prove your conclusion up front, it engages the audience.

4. Prove Your Point

Identify the evidence that support your main points: Use only details that support your conclusion. If you need to discuss a list, call out all items first before discussing each.

5. State Your Call to Action

What do you want your audience to do at the conclusion of your talk?  Again, your request has to be concrete. By leveraging our strengths, we will contribute to social development and help create a better future.”  This is not concrete enough… This conclusion will invite smiles and nods and allow the audience to leave without demonstrating their commitment to your message/ideas. This message will soon be forgotten.  Presentation Tips Recap:

  • What is your goal in delivering these opening remarks?
  • How do you want to set the tone for the day?
  • What is the main topic you want to discuss?
  • What idea/s do you need to convince them of?
  • What arguments will you use to convince them?
  • Come full circle in the end … “So now you can see/understand why I said at the beginning THAT…”
  • What do you want them to do now?

I trust answering all of these presentation tips will move you closer to the end goal of delivering a polished speech with poise and command. If you’d like to work with a public speaking coach in Toronto or virtually online, get in touch with us. We can help take your presentation skills to the next level!

Six Steps To Achieving Essential Board Presence

board presence

Most senior executives know that an invitation to speak to the board of directors is a rite of passage. It signals the board’s desire to hear details and question people directly and acknowledges the presenter’s authority. For first-timers, it can indicate a change in status. In many organizations, however, both people new to the experience and seasoned executives are often ill-equipped to meet board directors’ expectations. Board presence is the ability to fulfill those expectations … Continue Reading

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When presenting to senior leaders – start with the answer first.

pyramid principle

An invitation to present to C-Suite leaders typically prompts excitement. It’s sometimes even a wow moment. “Hurrah, here’s my chance to show what I can do!” Yet all too often, enthusiasm spirals downward into an abyss of fear as the impact of the invitation sinks in.

Whether it was extended to a senior executive or new professional – anxiety is common. The solution to managing the stress is twofold:

a) The Pyramid Principle
b) Practice and more practice

To the uninitiated, The Pyramid Principle is a powerful presentation management system. It actually was “invented” by Harvard Business School professor Barbara Minto. The core of the concept is to start with the ending. The conclusion comes first! Supporting data follows and is logically organized in a specific and easy-to-follow manner.

At Corporate Class, we actively encourage adopting The Minto Pyramid Principle for three reasons:

  • Presenters are forced to construct materials in an orderly manner
  • Audiences learn about the substance of content immediately
  • Back-up data is more understandable when applied to already stated objectives

The rule of three

Coincidentally, this offers an interesting example of a writing principle widely used for structuring presentations with the Pyramid system: the rule of three.

At its essence, the rule of three combines brevity and rhythm to encourage audiences to retain the information.

“The Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete) conveys the same idea as the rule of three.” – Wikipedia

Many stories, slogans and movie titles are structured in threes; consider for example, The Three Musketeers, Faster, Higher, Stronger – the Olympic motto or the movie, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Why The Pyramid Principle?

For many people, the idea is contrary to what seems natural. They want to build up to their big idea and are sometimes resistant to this technique. We remind people that a business presentation is not a movie script or a Broadway show. The audience is not looking for a surprise ending. Busy executives appreciate an introduction that cuts right to the chase. McKinsey & Company, the global management and consulting company to many of the world’s most influential businesses strongly advocates, “start with the answer first.”

Practice and more practice

There is no substitute for rehearsal. The most carefully written presentations fall on deaf ears when presenters fumble. The audience stops listening and paying attention. Even if the presenter manages to get back on track, it’s often too late. This is not to suggest that every presentation should be memorized in its entirety, notes are absolutely acceptable. It’s the presenter’s ability to use the notes as cues that counts – and that only comes with practice. This process also provides a profoundly calming effect. As presenters become more comfortable with their material, their delivery improves and they feel a new sense of confidence.

Ideally, toward the end of the rehearsal process, a non-threatening third party can play an instrumental role as coach.

Learn more about our Presentation Skills Training

Presenting to the Board of Directors: The high stakes forum of corporate life

presenting to the board

To the uninitiated, the concept of Board Presence may be interpreted as a form of advanced presentation skills training. Yes, that is a component but interfacing with the Board, notably for first-timers, demands familiarity with its intricacies:

  • Understanding of expectations
  • Engaging and interacting with the appropriate tone and respect
  • Roles of Board members and the Chair
  • Dealing with short attention spans – and the right way to respond
  • Contingency planning when presentations are cut short
  • Preparing for vigorous Q&A

It is a fact of corporate life that presenting to the Board of Directors is a very big deal!

Board members’ expectations run high. They are not passive listeners but active participants, eager for clear, concise information they can discuss among themselves – immediately. They ask questions and expect prompt answers.

We developed Board Presence Workshops to train executives for these highly demanding and often intense interactions. The origin had its beginnings in feedback senior leaders received from Board members, frustrated by disappointing, ill-prepared presenters. Especially when this is a new experience or executives are new to the company, they may not understand, and be familiar with the high-performance demands required in meeting with their Board.

C-Suite leaders, from various organizations, realized they needed to equip themselves and their people with the skills to meet and interact with Board members. They approached us to develop training and identified two very specific but differing groups:

  • C-Level leaders
  • Senior executives and managers

C-Level leaders

These experienced professionals realize a first invitation from the Board could signal the possibility of more frequent attendance, demanding a clear understanding and firm grounding of expectations, including detailed presentation guidelines. They comprehend their role as guests, not members, at an exclusive club.
Some admit a sense of presentation anxiety they have not experienced in years. These leaders understand that although stress diminishes with practice, being called to meet with the Board requires meticulous preparation.

Senior executives and managers

This group was seen by numerous organizations as being more vulnerable to stress when invited to this high visibility environment, underestimate the need for specific preparations and fail to understand their role at Board meetings. In addition to high stress levels in this situation, three specific behaviors, complacency, smugness and wordiness (usually among so-called technical experts) were identified as possible pitfalls. The organizations’ workshop objectives ranged from allying stress for those with anxiety, to checking over-confident conduct with comprehensive training that enabled participants to simulate the Board experience.

A unique, hands-on opportunity for participants

CCI Senior Consultant Jim Olson’s expertise was instrumental in enabling us to replicate the sense of Board meetings, and fine-tune content for these BP Workshops. With his extensive experience as a Board member, and currently serving on the Board of Maple Leaf Foods, and as a member of NACD (National Association of Corporate Directors), Jim continues to both facilitate Board Presence Workshops and drive curriculum updates. As a Board Leadership Fellow, Jim is recognized for his expertise and commitment to excellence in the boardroom, notably, the importance of continued education to enhance boardroom skills.

Behind the closed doors of the boardroom

Although CCI works with organizations to customize and address specific requirements attuned to its senior executives, every session goes behind the boardroom doors to examine Board Presence — the precise requirements imperative to excel in this high-stakes environment.

The content for Board Presence Workshops is designed to prepare potential presenters at higher organizational levels including:

  • C-Level leaders
  • Direct reports to CEO and C-Level
  • Senior executives with regular Board interaction
  • Management who interact informally with the Board and its members
  • Department heads accountable to the Board – investor relations, public relations, IT – who may not report directly to its members

Read more about co-facilitators Jim Olson and Diane Craig

Read more about Board Presence

Contact us to discuss your organization’s needs for Board Presence training
team@corporateclassinc.com

Connect, network, manage difficult conversations and make great presentations

People don’t intuitively master the ability to connect, to network, to manage difficult or awkward conversations, and to make great presentations. All are learned skills.

At Corporate Class, we train business professionals to develop and refine their communications skills. The ability to forge alliances, to bring people on board, to enlist others in the shared vision that moves things forward are fundamental to successful communications.

Three Communication Skills Courses taking place in our Toronto Boardroom

Course 1: How to Command and Work a Room
Developing the skills to face a room of people you barely know or have never met, with self-assurance, seemingly effortless conversation and to make meaningful connections is the focus of this Course. The centerpiece of our training is developing the presence, self-assurance, and confidence to make the most of business networking events. The expression work-a-room is something of misnomer because it really refers to friendly interaction with fellow-attendees at an event.

What’s required to step up, and step out at networking events?
Even seasoned professionals often feel intimidated when facing a room of new people. Our training recognizes the significance of overcoming this social anxiety and empowers participants with new methods of communicating.

We train people to develop precise techniques that seamlessly build connections and lead to establishing relationships, regardless of the event or venue. The goal is to be sufficiently experienced with these ever-present interactions to achieve a comfort level – and the ease, grace, and poise – to speak to anyone, on any occasion. In addition, this newly activated skillset provides participants with a significant competitive edge. Cost $225.00

Course 2: Conversations that matter
Business professionals understand that to positively influence an outcome, every window of opportunity counts; every conversation matters.

Often, delicate conversations that are not carefully managed, may lead to incorrect decisions and disappointing outcomes. During this Course, we review and assess active listening behaviors and examine examples of conversations that broke down and became uncontrollable. We compare these failed endeavors to how an improved outcome could have been achieved.

Participants practice a series of procedures to maintain a balanced mindset in potentially challenging situations, and discover how to analyze and transform behavior to improve chances for optimum results. Cost $225.00

Course 3: Presentation Skills: On Stage Presence
Today, the skill to present, persuade and convince – to speak with impact – upstages even the best products or ideas. This presentation skills Course trains participants to make compelling, engaging presentations.

Technique is key to overcoming speaking anxiety. When people are confident about their material, have systematically organized it, and rehearsed in a disciplined manner, they communicate ideas effectively. We introduce a model for participants to create a framework that guides them through fine-tuning and honing presentations.

This Course is designed to show participants how to demonstrate high-quality communication skills when speaking more formally – making speeches, presentations or pitches. Cost $225.00

Toronto Courses in our Boardroom

We are in the process of finalizing our Fall 2017 dates. If you would like to receive information about these Course dates, please contact us:
michelle@corporateclassinc.com
416-967-1221 Ext 107

Tech-addiction: Decrease your screen time + increase your presence

tech addiction

Last week we discussed power posing and its effects on one’s feelings of confidence and power. Power posing before a stressful event, such as delivering a speech or a presentation, can help to decrease nerves and increase your presence when you step into the spotlight.

That’s exactly what Executive Presence is all about – engaging in behaviors that increase your presence, both in front of others as well as behind closed doors.

Because we live in an ultra-high-tech society – one might say, a tech-addicted society – the ability to remain present, and to exude presence, is becoming more and more difficult. We are constantly glued to our mobile devices; cell phones, laptops, computers, tablets… We seem to always be half in, half out, and rarely fully present in the moment. We are always checking for that email, text message or notification. We are often unaware of what we’ve just checked out of, such as an important conversation with a colleague or boss.

Less is more

There is a time and a place for everything. This saying is highly applicable when discussing the use of technology within professional settings. Most of us require the use of technology to do our jobs, complete our tasks, and organize our lives. We have become so dependent on these devices that interrupting a conversation or a meeting to check the source of the buzz or beep has become standard. This lack of awareness, or habit of ignoring the outside world for what’s happening inside our device, is effectively robbing us of our presence.

We must not forget that business thrives on relationships. It also thrives on responding to emails in a timely fashion, and at the end of the day, the need to do so comes down to retaining relationships (with the receiver, with the company, etc.). When amongst peers, colleagues, and superiors, how can we build on existing relationships, or create new ones, if we are constantly checking for new emails?

When you spend less time on your mobile devices, you have more time to spend in face-to-face interactions. It helps you stay focused and present, and others will take notice. It will help to increase your listening skills, one of the core traits of Executive Presence.

Strategic screen time

It’s not only about spending less time looking at our screens, but ensuring that the time we do spend is strategic. Here are some tips for increasing strategic screen time:

  • Instead of bringing your phone with you into your next meeting, leave it in your office
  • Instead of putting your phone on the table at your next client lunch (which seems to have become the norm), leave it in your purse of briefcase
  • Give yourself a limit of two, five-minute social media checks throughout the day (if not one!)

Increasing your focus by forgoing distractions, such as checking your phone, will serve to immediately increase your presence. This can be a scary thought and overwhelming to some, so start with small goals, such as not bringing your phone to your next meeting. Remember, your emails will still be there waiting for you when you return!

P.S. check out this article for a more in-depth examination of our “tech-addiction.”

The One Skill All Great Speakers Possess

great speakers

Captivating an audience is not an easy feat, especially for those of us who are not “natural” public speakers, or who struggle with major stage fright. There is one skill guaranteed to keep your audience engaged and interested, and it doesn’t require making a sound. We’re talking about using silence in the form of well-timed pauses.
Stage fright is a real thing. It is rare that a person is a natural orator and can captivate an audience with little to no practice, and without anxiety. None of us are born with impeccable speaking skills, not even Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Although some people are more comfortable on stage than others, they too have had to practice, practice, practice.

One Skill All Great Speakers Possess: Knowing How To Use Strategic Pauses

Do you possess effective oral presentation skills? All skilled speakers require lots of practice, and many have teams of coaches and communication experts behind them, à la Obama. For most of us, receiving feedback, learning tips and techniques along the way – strategic pauses, for example – and frequent practice will fill the bill.
Luckily, we don’t need an entourage of coaches to help us become the next Tony Robbins.
Whether it’s a presentation for colleagues, a keynote speech or simply story time with the kids, there is one sure-fire way to capture your audience’s attention: using silence in the form of strategically-placed pauses.

How to Do It

Great leaders and great speakers know their role is not simply to speak, but rather to make the audience think. An audience cannot possibly think, if it is busy trying to keep up with the rate of the speaker’s words and ideas!
Speakers often receive feedback that includes a suggestion to “slow down!!” It is not necessarily the rate of the words that is moving at hyper-speed, but rather, the rate of ideas.
When we tell our clients to “slow down,” we’re not talking about the rate of speech, but rather how quickly they are moving from one idea to another. This is where the well-timed, engaging pause comes in. Think about the flow of your ideas. Use pauses strategically when you switch from one idea to another. Watch audience members shift to the edge of their seat, as they anticipate what you’re going to say next.

Stage Fright: Why We Always Speak Too Quickly

Typically, we speak quickly when we’re under the spotlight because we are nervous (or terrified!) and want the experience to end as soon as possible. The thought of drawing out the presentation with pauses probably sounds like a nightmare. It’s critical to keep in mind that to you, the presentation probably feels like it is dragging on, never ending. For the audience, this isn’t the case. Inserting strategic pauses, thus slowing down the rate of ideas, will not bore your audience and will not lengthen your speech. All it will do is keep your audience interested and engaged. Slowing the rate of ideas will also increase your Executive Presence by sustaining your physical presence on-stage and helping you stay focused and calm. Remember: the audience is on your side and wants you to succeed.
Mark Twain was correct in saying, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

Public Speaking and Presentation Skills 101

presentation-skills-torontoFor many people, presenting in front of a group of peers, clients or superiors can be seriously intimidating! However, nailing presentations of any kind is one sure-fire way to increase your Executive Presence on the spot and seriously impress your boss. But, how to overcome the nerves? How can you make your presentation on numbers or statistics as interesting and engaging as possible? How can you command attention from everyone in the room throughout your whole presentation? There’s a lot that goes into a successful presentation, so we’ve compiled a list of four suggestions that you can follow while preparing for your next presentation to help you get started.

  1. Organize your presentation

    Make sure you’ve put thought into the content of your presentation (i.e. your use of language and your use of jargon and acronyms) as well as the structure of the presentation (i.e. the strategy and order of ideas). Your structure should look something like this: Conclusion, Points supporting the conclusion, Sub-points supporting your main points and finally Conclude your talk.

  2. Manage your stress

    There’s noting more painful to watch than someone on stage who is clearly completely uncomfortable being there and who’s presentation is suffering because of it. Don’t forget that the people in the audience are there to listen to you and welcome you – they are on your side! Whether or not you’re a born speaker, being able to manage stress can make even the most frightful public speaker appear at ease and comfortable on stage. Here are a few ways you can manage your stress both before and during your presentation:- Prepare and rehearse before hand.- Arrive early
    – Power pose (for more on this, check out our blog post on power posing)
    – Drink lots of water
    – Think positively
    – Make eye contact with the audience
    – Speak on the exhale
    – Find friends in the audience

  3. Project and inspire confidence

    One way to ensure a successful presentation is the projection of confidence! That’s the only way the audience will believe what you are saying. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to make eye contact with everyone in the room. A great way to do this is to scan all four corners of the room right when you walk in, so you’ve already acknowledge all the people in the room. When entering the room, enter on the exhale – this will project calmness and confidence.
    Presenting in front of a group of people doesn’t have to be an automatic stress-inducer! Being well-prepared is half the battle; if you take the time and make the necessary preparations, chances are very high that you will go into your next presentation feeling confident, ready and at ease. If you want to learn more about how to increase your presentation skills, check out our Course and Lunch and Learn on presentation skills.

  4. It’s ok to use notes, however…

    Using notes during a presentation is fine, and encouraged, however be sure to have proper notes ready, and not a full script that you will read from. “Proper notes” entails notes that have been shortened and made simple, and which present only main ideas, where each line includes only about 4-5 words. Bullet points are used to indicate the flow of ideas. The idea with proper notes is that they prevent you from “reading,” however still prompt you with your next thought.

How to Nail Your Next Skype Call

There is no question that technology has integrated itself so seamlessly in the world of business that almost no business transaction can be completed without its use. The need to keep up with the world of technology has never been so pronounced, especially when it comes to your career.

lighting

 

A relatively recent technology that has proven extremely valuable in the world of business is Skype. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a software application that allows two people who have access to a computer to contact each other via the Internet; the webcam is also frequently used for video calling. Skype has allowed people from around the world to video-call each other for free.

More and more, Skype is becoming a convenient way of conducting meetings and interviews when a face-to-face situation is not possible. An interview over the phone is one thing, but the ability to see the other person is invaluable (we all know how important body language can be, especially in an interview setting). Skype interviews and meetings can sometimes be unnerving, so here we offer you some tips for the preparation of your next Skype call, so you can be as prepared as possible and nail it!

It’s all in the preparation

  • Although you may be in the comfort of your own home or office, that does not mean that you do not have to adequately prepare because you may have access to notes or documents that might help you through the call. It’s good to have some notes jotted down, but do not rely on them to get you through.
  • Because the individual on the other end of the call can see your home/office, it is integral that you clean before the interview! What will a potential employer think when he sees the messy room behind you?
  • Be sure to always use the washroom before your call. This may seem silly, but it won’t when you’re in the middle of explaining why you are the best candidate for the job and you have to excuse yourself to visit the restroom. This can be easy to forget, as you are already in a familiar setting.
  • Be sure to have anything you foresee yourself needing during the call at your nearest disposal. For example, it is always a good idea to have a glass of water nearby.
  • Be sure to do a test call just before your scheduled call to ensure that the framing of your computer is right, and that the lighting in the room is perfect.

Because of the comfort often associated with a Skype call (you are often in your safe space), it can be easy to forget some basic principles of a traditional job interview, such as adequate preparation, and even your self-presentation. It is important to remember, however, that the stakes are always high, and that the way you prepare for and present during a Skype call has profound and lasting effects on your executive presence!

Leadership Toolbox: Facilitating Effective Meetings

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As a leader in your company, you will encounter various roles and responsibilities that will allow you to demonstrate your leadership. One example is in facilitating effective meetings. In a productive meeting, the organizer communicates their ideas while incorporating the valuable contributions from other participants, while simultaneously managing time and direction of the meeting to ensure efficiency. In doing so, the meeting facilitator demonstrates the ability to guide and contribute to the overall strategy of the organization.

Below are several tips on facilitating the most effective – and efficient – meetings.

Prepare in advance

It may seem obvious, but the universal motto to “be prepared” applies for several different components of a great meeting:

  • Write the itinerary ahead of time and email it to meeting participants. Seeing the schedule on paper and running through the length of the meeting in advance will help you to gauge whether the meeting time will run long and if you need to cut out any items from the itinerary.

Also, emailing the itinerary to participants will allow them to know what to expect. This will let them ruminate over discussion points in advance and likely better ensure the meeting stays on track.

  • Circulate any pre-reading at least two days in advance, if possible. Background reading, if relevant, is an excellent addition to a meeting in that it will facilitate a more robust and informed discussion. Just make sure you give participants enough time to review the materials.
  • Avoid technical difficulties during meeting time by testing any technical components – presentations, teleconference lines or otherwise – in advance.

During the meeting

During the meeting, a few tactics can help you to address the main points of discussion clearly and concisely:

  • Use materials to illustrate key concepts. Presentations, handouts, binders or other materials that lay out ideas visually for participants will help them to follow along and internalize the messages.
  • Incorporate discussion throughout the meeting. The primary difference between a meeting and a presentation is that the role of the meeting participant is essential in the outcome of meeting – so let their opinions play a part! To capture the points of discussion, ensure someone is designated to take notes during the meeting.

Follow up

The process is not over when a meeting concludes. Take the appropriate follow-up steps to ensure the effectiveness of your meeting:

  • By the end of the meeting, determine a list of action items and who is assigned to complete each task. Also, decide what will be addressed at the next meeting. Shortly after the meeting concludes, email these items to attendees while they are still present in your mind.

Running an effective meeting includes more than simply keeping the conversation on topic. A valuable meeting can influence the overall strategy of your organization – and show your leadership skills in doing so.