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Kathy Reiffenstein
Washington, DC
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Craig, thanks for your comments! It is really amazing, isn't it, that people hold on to certain behaviors without questioning whether or not they actually make sense...or at least playing devil's advocate to test their validity!
Toggle Commented Jan 21, 2015 on Presentation Myths at Professionally Speaking...
Hi Valary, Thanks for your comment. You are SO right! The key is providing value -- from the executives' perspective -- and then, time won't be an issue. Best, Kathy
Hi Seblora, Thanks for your comment! Just like with presentations, I only have a few moments to capture your attention and encourage you to read on, so I try to find a "grabber" opening. I definitely had fun writing this one! Best, Kathy
The two links provided here by b2bstorytelling are must-reads! They add additional depth and perspective to the commonly heard advice "analyze your audience." Thanks, Marc, for stopping by and contributing. And Surrey Private Detective -- don't we just wish that every presentation was filled with eager listeners?!! But most audiences represent a myriad of motivations for being there. And as presenters, we are well ahead of the game when we recognize that. Best, Kathy
Hi Tom, I'm so glad you found the post useful. One other thing I would add is, since you're in effect saying goodbye, think of the way you'd like your audience to remember you. And then let that image guide you as you prepare your remarks. And don't forget to practice, practice, practice. Best of luck with your retirement speech. Best, Kathy
Hi Julianne and Matt, Thanks for stopping by! Non-verbals are such an important part of communicating your message to your audience. Our content can be fabulous but if we are projecting frustration or boredom or a lack of confidence, that's going to significantly impact how our audience receives that fabulous content. And I agree,'s amazing how many people don't get that! Matt, I'm a firm believer of rehearsing in as near to "real" conditions as possible...out loud, using all props and tools (like our slides), standing up and using the gestures we plan to use in front of the audience. Then all this becomes internalized and when we're giving the presentation for real, we don't have to focus on these things but are free to put all our focus on the audience. Best, Kathy
Hello Adhiti, Thanks for your comments. You are absolutely right that visuals help with understanding and memorability. But the key is in the definition of "visuals". An abundance of words/bullet points on a slide is not the type of visual that provides an audience with more clarity or the ability to better remember the presenter's message. When you ask an audience to *read* words on a slide at the same time the presenter is speaking (which is the norm for most presentations), you are actually creating a conflict for the audience. They don't read or listen with their complete attention and as a result, they struggle to take in everything. Written words and spoken words are processed through two different parts of our brain, adding to the conflict. The visuals that can really create impact for an audience and help them better understand and remember the key points of the presentation are *true* visuals like pictures, illustrations, graphs and charts. These are not a duplicate of what the presenter is saying but rather a supplement to provide additional insight for the audience. So the advice about minimizing visual aids is to encourage presenters not to confuse and overload their audience with a lot of words on the slides. But it is also to encourage presenters to focus more on their audiences. The very best presentation is a dialogue between presenter and audience, even if the presenter does most of the talking. If the audience's attention is constantly being directed away from the presenter to visual aids (even good ones), that dialogue becomes much less effective. Hope that has clarified the issue. I applaud you for working to understand how to make more effective presentations..because it's as early as university where some of the bad PowerPoint habits are born! Best, Kathy
Hi Interview Preparation, Excellent point. Getting participants involved in reiterating the mission or articulating what was agreed on gives them more ownership and engagement. Thanks for the contribution. Best, Kathy
Elaine, Thank you for the very kind words. I'm glad you found the article useful. And if you ever get a chance to see Marcus Buckingham speak, run, don't walk, to get there! I am actually working on a book. And believe me, when I finally get it done, I'll be talking about it on the blog!! All the best, Kathy
Hi Valary, Thanks for your comment. I applaud your efforts because I think getting people to really focus on their audience is an on-going task! The audience is giving a presenter the gift of their time and if presenters took this perspective, I think they'd be more sensitive to what the audience needed. Good suggestion about PPT custom shows for those presenters who just can't give up their reams of detail! Best, Kathy
Rosie, Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. You're absolutely right -- it's a big paradigm shift for many presenters. And it does indeed put the majority of the responsibility on the presenter. Since the presenter is the one who is largely in control of the outcome, it makes sense that responsibility should go along with that control. And you know, it can be quite freeing to give yourself permission to worry only about the audience and not yourself! Best, Kathy
Hi Jim, Thanks so much for your insightful comments. You are so right ... the better the speaker is at genuinely connecting and engaging with the audience, the more likely the audience will be to return the favor. I frequently coach my students to visualize that they are speaking to just one person, to help them hone their connection skills. Best, Kathy
Hi Frederic, Thanks for stopping by and for your insightful comments. I completely agree! Best, Kathy
Hi Kristin, Thanks for your comments. If only we could encourage more business presenters to adopt the SHOW and tell approach rather than just the tell approach! For sure we would have happier audiences!! Best, Kathy
Hi Fallon, Thanks so much for stopping by! I'm glad you're finding some value in the blog. I noticed the other day that I do have a lot of archives!! So that will keep you busy for a little while!! Best, Kathy
Hi Telonius, Thanks for your comments. Yes, I agree that it is not at all good to detach entirely from one's emotions. We need to show enthusiasm and even sadness or outrage, as appropriate. The key with the speaker showing emotion is to consciously be aware of the audience's comfort/discomfort continuum. No matter how genuine the speaker's emotion about a particular subject may be, if it makes the audience uncomfortable, the impact of the speaker's message will be lost. Best, Kathy
Hi Chris, Thanks for your comment! You are so right about first impressions frequently being wrong. I think, as speakers, this presents our biggest challenge -- making sure that the first impression we create is the correct one AND then making sure that we don't do anything subsequently to compromise that impression. Audiences (and people generally) are quick to form the first impression but not so quick to change it, even in the face of additional data. Best, Kathy
Hi Lisa, Thanks for your comment and the link to the Vitamix guy. Loved your post. You're so right! Food demo school as a prerequisite to presentation skills training! Best, Kathy
Hi Paul, Thanks so much for your comments. You really pinpoint a key issue with trainees -- it's frequently hard for them to imagine themselves delivering with the passion or commitment of some of the more well known presenters...because they don't see themselves as "changing the world." I think our job is to help them see that changing the world can be done in all sorts of [small] ways. And it starts with being able to communicate effectively enough to get people to listen and remember. Best, Kathy
Hey Mark, Thanks for sharing your experience. You know, I think the audience does enjoy anything that makes the discussion more's the presenters who sometimes resist! Probably control issues more than anything. Best, Kathy
Hi Fred, Thanks for your comment and particularly for the link to your post. I particularly liked the segment..."Businesses hire me because..." That is very powerful. I don't currently use that wording but I will now! Also loved the graphic -- it's briliant! Best, Kathy
Hi Lionel, Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the term elevator pitch is very commonly used, particularly in a sales context. The term elevator speech is interchangeable and used more often outside of the sales context, e.g., a job applicant introducing herself or a small business owner answering the question, "What do you do?" Best, Kathy
HI Fred, Thanks for your comment. I do hope you meant *G*ood and not just odd!! :) I always get a laugh in my classes when I tell participants that "you never make a mistake or stumble on your words when you just think the words in your head -- in fact there, you are generally brilliant! But when you open your mouth, often it's a very different scenario." Best, Kathy
Hi Fred, Thanks so much for stopping by and adding a comment. Your advice is spot on. And I love your metaphor of the king and his trumpeters! I think the biggest challenge is to get the introducer to rehearse the introduction -- or at least read it through a few times before standing in front of an audience. Unfortunately this is the part we speakers have the least control over. Best, Kathy
Richard, Thanks for your comment and for sharing the link to your post. Very good points about the logistics -- things the audience may well wonder about and could distract them from paying full attention. And I love your intro example!! How funny in a bizarre sort of way. Bet that got the audience's attention!! Best, Kathy