Contact Dave Hill for Speaker Bookings: (214) 668-5785 dave@davehillspeaks.com
Dallas, Texas, USA 0 Items

Re-Engineer Your Presentation Strategies – Snore-No-More

Dave Hill, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Author, and Engineer

Dave Hill, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Author, and Engineer

Wake up!

  •  Keep your audience focused by being relevant.
  • Use interactive techniques; vary your presentation.

Visualize a meeting where about 40 people are crammed into a conference room listening to technical presentation after technical presentation for a full day.  The delivery mode is primarily PowerPoint with lots of wordy data on the slides.  The technical data is overwhelming, the pace of data exchange is fast, and people can be seen fidgeting in their seats.  The room lights are dimmed to allow the PowerPoint to be the focus of attention and to make the slides visible to people in the back of the room.

Recently, I was sitting in this audience and the presenter was interrupted to get clarification on a point.  As he responded, an out-of-place rumbling sound was heard: someone was snoring.  The presenter paused to see who was asleep, then smiled and continued to answer the question.  Suddenly, the sound escalated into a full-blown, high-volume snoring session.  Smiles and glances bounced around the room, and someone gently nudged the snorer in the back.  He awoke in a moment of shock, quickly becoming aware that he had been caught napping. 

If you present intricate or technical information, how would it feel to have an audience member fall asleep and start snoring?  Have you ever had to present a technical subject after your audience has had a heavy lunch?  Have you ever been distracted by someone nodding off during your presentation?

HOLDING YOUR AUDIENCE’S ATTENTION

  1. It will help if there is fresh air in the room and the temperature is not too warm or cold.  Can you increase the ventilation rate without creating disturbing background noise?
  2. Know your subject and display energy, enthusiasm and vocal variety.  Make sure your voice can be heard clearly throughout the room, or people will tune you out.
  3. Give audience members a written agenda so they have a clear image of the flow of the content. This also helps keep the session on track and on time.  If discussions get bogged down or off-topic, the agenda gives you a reason to step in.  We have all witnessed the audience member whose comments go on and on, causing the audience to get fidgety and start tuning out.
  4. At the beginning of the presentation, give attendees a brief review of the rules for:
    • Cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices
    • Side conversations
    • Off-topic comments
    • Questions (are they allowed throughout the presentation or toward the end?)

Then enforce the rules.

  1. Have frequent breaks.
  2. If you have control over snack food and lunches, consider keeping them light (minimize the potential for “food coma”).
  3. Vary the modes of presenting as much as possible.  You could include:
    • You speaking
    • Video clips
    • A flip chart
    • A whiteboard
    • Asking an audience member to provide an example to drive home your point
  4. Illuminate your points with real-life examples.  Stories and humor fit well with the delivery of technical and intricate information.  Use the framework of making a point, telling a relevant story and demonstrating how this can be practically applied by the audience.  The most effective stories are those that the audience can relate to.
  5. If using PowerPoint or another type of slide presentation, put effort into providing visual information rather than overloading with technical data.  If possible, design your slides’ color scheme so that you do not have to dim the lights to see them and/or use a high lumen projector.
  6. Use interactive techniques.
    • Get the audience brainstorming on a subject, then choose the ideas you want them to “drill down” and explore in more detail.  The initial brainstorming could be conducted on a flip chart if the writing is visible to the audience.  Another way would be to have a computer and projector and assign an assistant to type in the ideas.
    • Ask the audience to form groups to brainstorm a point.  Ask them to assign a leader to summarize each group’s thoughts.
    • Ask the audience (or small groups) to discuss the pros and/or cons of a specific idea.
    • A powerful way of energizing a meeting or presentation is to include competition, such as a game.  Everyone — from front-line workers to executives — has a competitive urge.  The important aspect here is to know your audience to make sure the competition/game is appropriate to the attendees, the occasion and the learning value.
    • A simple way of getting audience members focused on the best choices is to give them a choice of several answers and ask them to identify the least effective ones.
    • When I have a presentation that uses a handout, I may have some pages with sentences that are missing key words.  Audience members fill in the words as the information is given to them.  This technique provides you with a “cheat sheet” so you do not need to remember the content and order of the information.  It also helps the audience retain the information.
    • Research indicates that when audiences hear information, they remember about 20 percent after a week; if they listen and see information, they remember about 50 percent; and if they listen, see and physically work out a problem, or solve a specific problem with “hands on” techniques, they are likely to remember about 75 percent.

ALWAYS BE THINKING OF A BETTER WAY  

Next time you feel yourself nodding off or losing interest during a presentation, ask yourself, “If I was this presenter, what would I do differently to make this more effective?”

When Audiences Snore!

Dave Hill – Speaker, Trainer, Author, and Speech Coach

Visualize a highly technical meeting where there are about 40 people crammed into a conference room. They are listening to technical presentation after technical presentation for a full day. The delivery mode is primarily PowerPoint with lots of wordy data in the slides. The technical data is overwhelming and people can be seen fidgeting in their seats. Time is limited and the pace of data exchange is fast. The room lights are dimmed to allow the PowerPoint to be the focus of attention, and to make it visible to people in the back of the room.

In 2012, I was sitting in this audience and the presenter was interrupted to get clarification on a point. As he responded to the question, there was an out of place audible rumbling sound; someone was snoring. The presenter paused to see who was asleep; he smiled and continued to answer the question. Suddenly, there was a loud snort that transitioned into a full blown, high volume snoring session. Smiles and glances bounce around the room, and someone gently nudged the snorer in the back. He awoke in a moment of shock with the awareness that he had been caught napping by his peers.

If you present intricate or technical information, how would it feel to have an audience member fall asleep and start snoring? Have you ever had to present a technical subject after your audience has had a heavy lunch? Have you ever been distracted by someone nodding off during your presentation?

Holding your audience’s attention when delivering intricate & technical information

  1. It will help if there is fresh air in the room and that the temperature is not too warm or too cold. Can you increase the ventilation rate in the room without getting disturbed by background noise?
  2. Know your subject and display energy, enthusiasm, and vocal variety. Make sure your voice can be heard clearly throughout the room, otherwise people will tune you out.
  3. Give the audience members a written agenda so they have a clear image of the flow of the content. This also helps keep the session on track and on time. If discussions start to deviate from the agenda, it give you the opportunity to interject and get everyone back on track. We have all witnessed the audience member who has a comment that goes on and on and the audience gets fidgety and starts to tune out and have side conversations.
  4. At the beginning of the presentation give them a brief review of the rules and enforce them for aspects such as:
    • Cell phone, laptop, and other electronic device etiquette
    • Side conversations
    • Off-topic comments
    • Question & answer (are they allowed throughout the presentation or towards the end?)
  5. Have frequent breaks.
  6. If you have control over snack food and lunches, you could consider keeping it light (minimize the potential for “food coma”).
  7. Vary the modes of presenting as much as possible
    • You speaking
    • Video clips
    • Flip chart
    • Whiteboard
    • Ask an audience member to provide an example to drive home your point
  8. Illuminate your points with real life examples. Stories and humor fit well with the delivery of technical and intricate information. Use the framework of making a point, telling a relevant story, and then demonstrating how this can be practically applied by the audience. The most effective stories are those that the audience can relate to.
  9. If using PowerPoint or other type of slide presentation, put effort into providing visual information rather overloading with technical data. If possible, design your slide color scheme so that you do not have to dim the lights to see them and/or use a high lumen projector.
  10. Use interactive techniques:
  • Get the audience brainstorming on a subject, then choose the ideas you want them to “drill down” and explore in more detail.  The initial brainstorming could be conducted on a flipchart if the writing is visible to the audience.  Another way would be to have a projector and assign an assistant to type in the ideas.
  • Ask them to form groups to brainstorm a point. Ask them to assign a leader to summarize the group’s thoughts.
  • Ask the audience (or separate groups) to discuss the pros and/or cons of a specific idea.
  • A powerful way of energizing a meeting or presentation is to include competition, such as a game.  Everyone- from front-line workers to executives- has a competitive urge.  The important aspect here is to know your audience to make sure the competition/game is appropriate to the attendees, the occasion, and the learning value.
  • A simple way of getting audience members focused on the best choices is to give them a choice of several answers and ask them to identify the least effective ones.
  • When I have a presentation or keynote speech that uses a handout, I may have some pages with sentences that are missing key words.  Audience members fill in the words as the information is given to them.  This technique provides you with a “cheat sheet” so you do not need to remember the content and order of the information.  It also helps the audience retain the information.
  • Research indicates that when audiences hear information, they may remember about 20 percent after a week; if they listen and see information, they may remember about 50 percent; and if the listen, see and physically work out a problem, or solve a specific problem with “hands on” techniques, they are likely to remember about 75 percent.

Final Note: Next time you feel yourself nodding off or losing interest during a presentation, ask yourself, “If I was this presenter, what would I do differently to make this more effective?”

 

What do you do when the addicts are shooting up during your presentation?

Imagine you are delivering a presentation and after a while you notice a few people peeking below the table top, covertly checking and answering e-mail, or texting. To make it even worse, you get a question from one of the Crackberry Addicts which causes the other audience members to scowl, groan, and then sarcastically laugh because you had discussed that specific issue a few minutes earlier.

1) How do you feel?

2) Have you ever thought why they do this?

3) What can you do to minimize this behavior?

It is very unfortunate that the high tech world can also bring about this type of conduct. Imagine what a waste of a company’s resources this can represent, whether it is a training session, a meeting, or some other information exchange forum where some people are not actively engaged and participating. As a presenter, this scenario would increase my anxiety level and make me wonder if my content is off target.

Minimizing the Crackberry Effect: The Basics

  1. At the beginning of your presentation, ask people to refrain from using laptops, Blackberries, etc.  Remind attendees of the importance of the presentation, and indicate when there will be breaks to receive and send e-mails and phone calls.  Some options for handling this request tactfully are:
  • Make the suggestion with humor – for example, if you have a multi-cultural group, you could lightheartedly suggest that anyone caught e-mailing, texting, or Tweeting will be invited to sing their national anthem to the group!
  • Be different – tell them to keep their phones and other devices on. An acquaintance in the National Speakers Association (NSA) laughs and tells his audiences that he is text-ually active. He shows his audience that his phone is on vibrate, gives out his phone number, and encourages them to text questions to him at any time during his presentation. The added benefit of this is that it gives shy or hesitant people a means of asking a question confidentially.
  • Be respectful of people’s abnormal circumstances and do not humiliate them with sarcasm. Imagine if someone has a family issue or work emergency going on and they need to be able to monitor e-mails or take calls. As a presenter, you may want to ask people to turn their devices off unless they have a valid reason to have immediate notification. Request that all devices be on vibrate to limit distractions and to take any calls outside the room.

Minimizing the Crackberry Effect: Other Considerations

  1. When developing your presentation, relate to the audience’s needs and experiences and provide value. Analyze your audience: if you were them, what would be on your mind? What information would you benefit from, and what are your concerns? Customize your material and aim for excellence.
  2. What’s in it for them? You should ask yourself this question after developing each section of your presentation. Ask yourself, “Why is this piece of information or story important to them?” Where possible, change the wording from “I” to “you”; e.g. instead of saying, “I have a concern that communication amongst our project groups is lacking,” you could rephrase it to, “Imagine how you would feel when you reach a critical point in your project, only to discover at the last minute that you are at a complete standstill because the deliverable from another group is running late.”
  3. When audience members are entering the room, welcome them, talk with them, and build rapport. They are more likely to listen to you if they like you.
  4. Open with impact – this is your first big opportunity to draw the audience into your presentation. When you open your presentation, use rhetorical questions, quotations, shock statements, questions, and stories that relate to your presentation and points. Get them engaged from the start. You have less than a minute to show them that this is not just another bland presentation, lecture, or meeting.
  5. Conduct a question and answer session to engage the audience. Call out individuals’ names to obtain answers to a question. This will encourage them to maintain attention as many people would be embarrassed to ask the presenter to repeat the question.
  6. Incorporate exercises that involve individual problem solving.
  7. Put humor and other entertainment in your presentation; participants will not want to miss the punch line if you have great stories or jokes that illuminate your points.
  8. Use humor that is appropriate to the occasion and to the audience.
  9. Walk into the audience to engage them, ask them questions, and get their point of view.
  10. Tell the audience that there are going to be quizzes during and after the presentation.  This will help people focus and retain information.
  11. Use simple handouts that require them to fill in missing words in short sentences. When people write down information, it keeps them engaged and has the added benefit of helping them remember the information.
  12. Give out prizes to people who give terrific answers and get the room in competition mode.  Remember, people at all levels of an organization love to win. Maximize the energy and interaction level with positive feedback.
  13. Use relevant stories, anecdotes, and vignettes frequently to bring your information into perspective.
  14. Get audience members to share their personal experiences. I recently conducted a workshop on presentation skills, and someone shared that he had recently experienced a heart attack. His experience of needing to communicate with the doctor fitted perfectly into the discussions on the importance of exceptional communication skills.
  15. Keep the presentation conversational. Design it so that you are frequently asking for perspectives.
  16. Be personable and energetic.
  17. Maximize your eye contact with your audience.
  18. Use vocal variety and project your voice to the level that everyone in the room can clearly hear your voice. If someone asks a question, repeat it back to the audience if the voice is not audible to the whole group.
  19. Use gestures and purposeful movement to illuminate your points and stories.
  20. Use first names as much as possible (use tent cards or other types of name tags if you cannot remember the names).  

Final note: In 2009, I was a Master of Ceremonies (MC) at a speech competition where it was critical that no cell phones would ring and distract the competitors when they were speaking. A three minute video of me telling a humorous anecdote followed by an entertaining briefing regarding the need to turn off cell phones can be viewed onYouTube:

  [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJmA8WfYJeM&feature=autoplay&list=ULtDB3GpSPvZ4&index=19&playnext=1 [/youtube]

 

 

 

 

 

How You Can Give Your Audience the Attention Span of a Crocodile

Dave Hill – Speaker, Trainer, Author, and Speech Coach

Back when I had hair, a six-pack stomach, and when slide rulers were cool (25+ years ago), I took a sabbatical from my career as a cargo ship engineer officer and drove around the coast of Australia with a friend for six months. We traveled in a very old Chrysler Valiant, a six cylinder workhorse of a car that brought us safely around the coast of Australia. We mostly camped in the National Parks around the country, and while traveling through Northern Australia, we worked for a short time on a small banana plantation. The plantation we were working on was adjacent to an estuary where salt-water crocodiles up to 30 ft. long were known to live.

The place where we put our tent was about 200 feet from the water in a very scenic spot overlooking the water. The night we pitched our tent, the owner of the banana plantation brought a cow on a rope. He hammered a thick wooden post into the ground about 150 ft. from the water and tied the cow to it with a 5 ft. length of rope. With a smile on his face, he said that it was just a precaution in case a crocodile got some ideas to travel on land and cause trouble. It did not take me too long to work out that “trouble” meant me or my friend becoming a late night snack. The farmer explained that the salt water crocodiles have great focus and excellent concentration. He said that research has shown that the first day they concentrate on your movements, the second day they make a plan, and the third day they implement the plan and try and get you. He then explained that if we should wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of the cow getting attacked, it would be a really good idea to “high-tail-it” out of there. So there we were, protected from highly focused crocodiles by a cow and a tiny Swiss Army Knife I had in my pocket. Don’t you love the Australians and their happy-go-lucky simplistic way of thinking and their saying, “She’ll be alright mate!”

Fast forward 25 years, and the subject of focus and concentration of human beings rather than crocodiles is on my mind. The challenges of crocodiles with their three day concentration and focused plan of attack is behind me, but now as a public speaker and trainer I have to deal with the challenges of humans that are unfortunately on the other end of the concentration scale. Research shows that the typical human being has an attention span somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. I am sure we can all relate to our minds wandering during meetings and presentations.

Imagine a dysfunctional meeting. The presenter is droning on and on, reading words from his PowerPoint slides, and guiding the audience with his laser pointer. Some people are sneaking a peak at their laptops, the “Crackberry addicts” are holding their devices by their crotches thinking that nobody can see that they are getting their e-mail “fix”. The younger people are pecking away at high speed on tiny electronic keyboards, twittering or texting information to friends, coworkers, and any extraterrestrial aliens that may be checking the planet for signs of life! Wouldn’t it be great if people could be “in the moment” for three days like crocodiles rather than 5 to 10 minutes as humans?

As a presenter, I learned a long time ago that there are methods that you absolutely need to use to keep an audiences attention whether you are delivering a 20 minute presentation or a 2 day workshop.

Considerations for keeping your audience engaged:
1. When audience members are entering the room, welcome them, talk with them, and build a rapport.
2. At the beginning of your presentation, ask people to refrain from using laptops, Blackberries, etc. Make the suggestion with humor, for example: “Anyone caught e-mailing, texting, or Tweeting will be invited to sing the national anthem!”
3. Keep side conversations under control. Do not allow others to disrupt the presentation by chatting.
4. Engage the audience as soon as possible, use rhetorical questions, shock statements, questions, and stories
5. Open with impact – this is your first big opportunity to draw the audience into your presentation (click this link to see my previous article on introductions and presentation openings).
6. Change your presentation method frequently using methods such as:
• High quality uncluttered PowerPoint slides
• Move to a flip chart to provide a more detailed explanation of a point
• Conduct a question and answer session to engage the audience
• Form a break-out session. Get groups working on a problem and identify group leaders who will present back to the class
• Get one person to give a demonstration to highlight a point
• Get everyone involved in an exercise that involves individual problem solving
• Tell a short story that relates to the point and make sure it is one that the audience can relate to
• Put humor and other entertainment in your presentation even if it is a technical presentation
• Use short videos and clear illustrative pictures to get your point across
• Walk into the audience to engage them, ask them questions, and get their point of view.
7. Don’t overly criticize wrong answers or opinions otherwise you may not get any more feedback.
8. Tell the audience that there are going to be quiz’s during and after the presentation. This will help people focus and retain information.
9. If you are conducting a training session you can use an exercise such as getting everyone in the room into a circle, they throw a light fuzzy ball to each other. As each person catches the ball they have to say one thing that they have learned so far. Consider what other “games” are appropriate for your presentation and the audience.
10. Use simple handouts that require them to fill in missing words in short sentences. When people write down information it keeps them engaged and also has the added benefit of helping them remember the information.
11. Give out prizes to people who give terrific answers, get the room in competition mode. Remember, people at all levels of an organization love to win. Maximize positive feedback.
12. Break up the usual social “cliques” and form different groups either randomly or using a numbering system. This may also help reduce the potential for distracting social side conversations. The members of the groups can be changed every few hours if necessary.
13. Use stories and vignettes frequently to bring your information into perspective.
14. Get audience members to share their stories.
15. Keep the presentation conversational.
16. Use humor that is appropriate to the occasion and to the audience.
17. Relate to the audiences needs and experiences and provide value.
18. Be personable and energetic.
19. Know your audience (what are their needs, what are their concerns, customize your material).
20. What’s in it for them? (ask yourself this question at each section of your presentation)
21. Make sure you provide adequate bathroom breaks.
22. Make sure you know how to control the temperature in the room in case it starts to heat up and make people drowsy (or too cold and cause people to lose focus).
23. Keep your PowerPoint slides uncluttered – include relatable pictures and clear headlines in 40+ font size as much as possible.
24. Maximize your eye contact with your audience – learn how to do it effectively.
25. Use vocal variety and project your voice to the level that everyone in the room can clearly hear your voice. If someone asks a question, repeat the question back to the audience if the voice is not audible to the whole group.
26. Use gestures to illuminate your points and stories.
27. Use purposeful movement to enhance your presentation content.
28. Determine if your handouts and other reading material can be handed out afterwards so that people are not reading ahead during your presentation.
29. Use first names as much as possible (use tent cards or other types of name tags if you cannot remember the names).

 

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.