Deliver Answers to Everyone in the Room

April 30, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Facilitation, Video

In this video blog Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication, discusses the reasons presenters should direct their answers to everyone in the group during Q&A.

Looking Over People’s Heads

March 12, 2012 in Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Engaging Listeners, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Myths Debunked, Nervousness

 

Question:
I’ve been told that when I’m nervous I should look over my audience’s heads. Is that true?

greg 200x300Answer:
No. You have been given some terrible advice. We hear this sort of thing all the time.

One of the things that triggers nervousness is the notion that your presentation should be a performance played to a faceless group of people. If it were a performance, this idea might make sense.

But a presentation is a conversation. You cannot converse with a faceless group of people. Instead, you need to converse with living/breathing/thinking individuals. This requires that you look people in the eye and actually SEE them. You need to recognize their reactions and how they’re responding to you. When you do that, you can respond back. When you see their smiles and nods, you know you’re on the right track. When you see looks of confusion, you know you need to explain something a little differently or go into more detail. This is what you automatically do in normal, everyday, low-stakes conversations. This same level of engagement needs to apply to presentations.

So, look people in the eye, connect with them. This will reduce your nervousness and you’ll feel and look comfortable and in control of the conversation. It also takes the pressure off of having to be perfect. Conversations are messy by nature. Embrace that thought. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t prepare for your presentations. I’m saying that once they begin, they need to feel structured AND conversational. Looking people in the eye and settling into the conversation is how to do it.

But that seems counter-intuitive, you’re probably thinking.

Yes, it does. After all, the people in the room are the things that are making you nervous. What you have to realize is that they are not passive viewers whose sole responsibility is to judge your performance. Instead they want to be active participants in the conversation. They may not speak as much as you, but they’re still participating in the dialogue. The only way to engage them in it is to look them in the eye and respond to their contributions.

What thoughts do you have?

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Engage in the Conversation

March 5, 2012 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, FAQs, Preparation

As you know, if you’ve ever participated in one of our workshops, we talk a lot about the use of engagement skills, eye contact and pausing. We say that using these skills to engage listeners in the conversation reduces nervousness, brings listeners into the conversation and helps you avoid the hazards of a canned performance.

Recently I picked up a public speaking text book written in 1915 by James Winans. The title is Public Speaking, Principles and Practice. I won’t go into the details about how I landed on a text written almost a hundred years ago, but I can say I was pretty happy with what I found in it. Winans has something to teach us.

Winans comes from the perspective that public speaking is “perfectly natural” and an extension of what he calls “that most familiar act” of conversation. That’s right in line with what we teach in 2012. What really impressed me, though, was his precise definition of what it means to be engaged. For Winans, engagement requires two conversational elements:

1.    Full realization of the content of your words as you utter them, and
2.    A lively sense of communication

In other words, presenters need to (1) think about what they’re saying as they’re saying it and (2) they need to speak for the purpose of communicating with someone else.

You may be thinking that this is incredibly obvious and really not worth pointing out. But think about what happens when these two elements are missing from a presentation. Without the first, the presenter may be performing something that’s been rehearsed over and over again. Or floating along on autopilot, not really thinking about what he or she is saying. Without the second, the presenter is operating in a vacuum, not responding to the audience, not adapting to the situation, not caring whether anything is communicated or not.

So what Winans is teaching us is what engagement requires, what presenters need to think about and where their attention should go to be engaged in the conversation. His ideas enrich our sense of how eye contact and pausing work as the two engagement skill presenters rely on.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Take Your Presentations to the Next Level in 2011

December 1, 2010 in Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Greg Owen-Boger, News, Preparation, Sarah Stocker

Take your presentations (or your team’s) to the next level by participating in a highly interactive 2-day presentation skills workshop in Chicago presented by Turpin Communication.

2011 Presentation Skills Workshop Dates in Chicago:

  • January 11-12
  • April 12-13
  • July 11-12
  • October 25-26

These sessions are open to the public and are designed for business presenters at all levels. Enrollment is limited to just 8 participants. Each session will be taught by 2 instructors to ensure plenty of personal attention. See below for more information.

Reserve your spot soon because space is limited to just 8 participants. 

Hope to see you in 2011!

Learn More  |  Enroll Now

Course Overview

During this highly interactive workshop, we’ll help you
Find your focus. Be yourself. Only Better.

You’ll capitalize on your strengths and develop the skills you need to overcome your weaknesses. You’ll also learn:

  • How to engage your audience and appear more comfortable
  • How to feel less nervous
  • How to organize your presentations more clearly and efficiently
  • How to improve the design and delivery of your PowerPoint slides
  • How to make sure what you say is actually heard
  • How to manage questions and interruptions during your presentations

Throughout the course, you’ll work on a real-life presentation of your choosing. All exercises are videoed, but your videos aren’t replayed in front of the group. Instead, after the exercise, you’ll watch your video with a coach. This private coaching will provide additional – and very valuable – feedback to help you integrate what you’ve learned in class into the situations you face outside of it.

The course includes 12-month access to eCoach, Turpin’s online skill-reinforcement tool.

Learn More  |  Enroll Now

Partnership Provides How-to Guidance for Online Presentation Tool

November 11, 2010 in Dale Ludwig, News, Video

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:

Dale Ludwig, President
773-445-8855
dale@turpincommunication.com
www.TurpinCommunication.com

Chicago, Illinois – Nov. 11, 2010 – Turpin Communication, a Chicago-based training company specializing in presentation and facilitation skills development, is partnering with KinetiCast, a provider of online presentation tools for sales professionals. The result is multi-media presentations that are organized and delivered to help businesses increase sales. 

KinetiCast empowers users to create, email and track online presentations that can help qualify prospects, shorten sales cycles and close more deals. For example, a KinetiCast user can email an online presentation, including a personalized video, to potential clients. The presentation would provide details about their services. The video would be used to thank the prospect for their interest and make a special offer.

Turpin is helping KinetiCast users be more effective with a series of “how to” videos, available on the KinetiCast Web site. The three videos explain how to organize presentations for online viewing, how to engage viewers through the lens of a camera, and how to make various media elements work together as a whole. While these videos were developed with KinetiCast’s users in mind, non-users also will find significant value in Turpin’s communication expertise.

“We took on this project because Turpin helps people prepare and deliver all kinds of messages — not just traditional presentations,” said Dale Ludwig, Turpin Communication president. “We are a big fan of the KinetiCast system – we actually use it in our own business. KinetiCast is a great way for business people to connect with clients and potential clients. The videos we created help Kineticast users to be even more effective – they’re concise and packed with useful information.”

“KinetiCast users are going to get significant value from these videos,” said Michael Grosso, President of KinetiCast. “Offering Turpin’s communication expertise along with our online sales presentation tool, sales professionals will get the most from our unique product and be even more effective in their sales efforts.”

The videos can be viewed at: http://www.kineticast.com/turpin.

About Turpin Communication
Turpin Communication has been consulting, coaching and training business people in how to effectively communicate since 1992. Turpin’s goal is to help presenters and group facilitators develop the skills and insight they need to succeed. Turpin delivers corporate and e-learning videos, group workshops to a variety of clients, open-enrollment classes for individuals, and presentation skills training delivered online. www.turpincommunication.com

About KinetiCast
Founded in 2007, KinetiCast is based in New York’s Tech Valley. www.KinetiCast.com

Find your focus. Be yourself. Only better.

April 15, 2010 in Author, Dale Ludwig, Delivery, Preparation

A few years ago I wrote this paragraph for the Reference Guide we distribute to all the participants in our Presentation Skills workshops:

One of the first questions we ask before a workshop begins is, “If you had to choose one thing to take away from this class, what would it be?”  When we started asking this question, I was surprised to learn that the answer was almost always the same.  People wanted to be more comfortable.  They wanted the image they project as “presenter” to be the same as the image they project the rest of the time.  They didn’t want to become someone flashy or unusual.  They wanted to be themselves when they were presenting, just without the loss of control and the nagging belief that they weren’t quite succeeding.  They were confident that they would be effective and persuasive once comfort was achieved.

I’m in the process of writing a new version of the Reference Guide now.  I’m excited about it because it will include some new ways of thinking about and improving presentations.  One thing that won’t change, though, is the idea that presenters want to be comfortable, to “be themselves.”  This goal has become so central to our approach that it’s part of our new tag line.  Find your focus.  Be yourself.  Only better.

What this means for training

Life in the presentation skills classroom would be so easy if we could say to participants, “OK, I’d like you to deliver your presentation now, and don’t worry about making it fancy or anything, just be yourself.”  But, it doesn’t work that way.  A lot of things happen to your “self” when you walk to the front of the room to deliver a presentation.  Nervousness gets in the way, affecting the way you look and sound.  Sometimes your mind goes blank or your thoughts start racing ahead .  You may speed up, speak too quietly, freeze in place or forget to look at people.  The pressure you feel also affects what you say.  For example, the drive to be clear and accurate might lead you to say more than you need to.  Or you may go off on a tangent and forget to use your slides.

These reactions, and all the others you may have experienced, are manageable.

First, you need to know what is happening to you.  This isn’t as easy as you might think.  Your everyday self-awareness is often taken over by uncomfortable self-consciousness when you’re presenting.

Second, you need to know what to do to engage your listeners in a genuine, conversation.

If there’s a secret to being yourself at the front of the room it’s engagement.  Here’s how it works.

Find your focus.
Finding your focus means knowing what to do to get engaged. For most people it comes down to two skills: eye contact or pausing (or a combination of the two). These skills work differently for everyone, so our job in the training room is to help people experiment and discover what works best for them.

Be yourself.
Once presenters are engaged, they feel comfortable.  They’re aware of their listeners, but not distracted by them.  Their thoughts settle down, and they can think on their feet.  When this happens, their personalities and natural communication skills emerge.

Only better.
When presenters are comfortable and engaged, they’re able to respond appropriately to the presentation environment.  They’re aware of their position in the room and are free to move about comfortably.  They’re free to focus on their listeners, slides and message.  They know instinctively what they need to say or do to get their ideas across.  Further, they’ve tamed any habits or delivery distractions that may have plagued them in the past.

In short, when presenters focus on engaging their listeners, they feel and look comfortable, project the confidence that’s within them and take control of the unpredictable, spontaneous process of presenting.

They have found their focus.  They are themselves.  Only better.

by Dale Ludwig, President and Trainer at Turpin Communication

Why is it so hard to speak to big groups!?

February 4, 2010 in Author, Delivering Your Presentation, Delivery, Engaging Listeners, FAQs, Greg Owen-Boger, Presentation

This question came from Manny D.

QUESTION: Why is it so hard to speak to big groups!?
I am terrible at giving presentations. I’m okay when explaining things to a few people, but put me in front of more than 15 people, and I start bumbling and stuttering, and I can’t focus. Why is this, and what can I do? I have a series of presentations to give to groups of 30+ people starting in a month or so, and I’m terrified.

ANSWER: You’re not alone. What we’ve discovered while delivering our Presentation Skills Workshops is that nervousness can be managed. It takes time and practice, and it may never go away completely, but there are techniques and skills you can hone, which will lower your nervous reactions to presenting to groups.

  1. You say you’re okay presenting to small groups. That’s great. So what’s the difference between a group of say 5 and one of 30? If you’re like most people, it’s your perception. A large group is no different than a small group. You just have more people to engage in the process.
  2. Adjust your expectations. It’s common for people to think of presentations as performances that must be perfect. Presentations should be thought of as “Orderly Conversations.” “Orderly” because they are carefully structured. “Conversations” because they need to be spontaneous and interactive right from the start. Thinking in this way can relieve a lot of pressure. You no longer need to be a whiz-bang performer; you simply need to engage people in a thoughtful, two-way conversation, which by its nature is imperfect and unpredictable. And participating in conversations is something you do every day.
  3. Work to engage individuals, one at a time. Do this through solid eye contact. Think of it as connecting with a person for a full thought, then moving on to the next. This will feel more like a series of one-on-one conversations rather than a stress-inducing one-way speech. And because you’re really connecting with people, everyone else in the room will feel engaged too.
  4. You say that when you‘re nervous you can’t focus. This too is common. You need to give yourself time to think. Pausing is key. Pause often and for longer durations than you think is necessary.

We have an online course called Managing Nervousness & Engaging Listeners that you may want to check out. http://www.onlinepresentationskillstraining.com/managing-nervousness-engaging-listeners.php

Hope this helps.

by Greg Owen-Boger, VP and Trainer at Turpin Communication