Speaking101

How to Maximize Audience Attention (When Everyone's Glued to Their Phones)

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With the average adult touching their phone around 2,617 times a day*, it’s only a matter of time before something distracts them from your presentation.

So what can you do? If you can’t fight them, join them. Here are a couple of ways to turn a distracted audience into an engaged one:

Live Polling & Results Display

If you’ve ever stood in front of a room of people, asked a question, and waited helplessly while no one felt confident enough to answer, your solution is live polling. Using an event app, you can ask your audience simple questions and give them the power to reply immediately using their phone.

After collecting the data, results can then be streamed in real-time to an on-stage display. This is a great tool for re-capturing your audience’s interest and focus. Live polling allows for active participation and takes the edge off speaking in a crowded room.

Networking & One-on-One Meetings

How often have you walked away from an event wondering what connections you could have made had you talked to everyone in the room? Using the event app as a meeting facilitator, attendees can now find out exactly who is in the audience, send invites for meetings, or be matched up with others with similar interests (ATTN entrepreneurs: this is an easy way to get ahold of that investor who’s been hard to reach). Event apps leave no opportunity unrecognized and allow audience members to engage both with one another as well as with speakers.

Guide your audience to action

Before heading off the stage and leaving your audience to digest your presentation, make sure you’re giving them the right tools to take action. Use your mobile events app to share your contact information and social media handles, include any presentation decks, and send through a quick survey to gather feedback after your talk.

If possible, ask the event organizer ahead of time to have your session recorded and include a link to the session in your email. This way, you can ensure a lasting impact on your audience.

Once you tap into these new forms of audience engagement, you will become a more compelling speaker, achieve a greater event ROI, and increase overall attendee satisfaction. Make sure you turn this generation's reliance on mobile devices into the next level of audience engagement.

For more on audience engagement via mobile device, read more here and here.


*Article published on NetworkWorld, IDG.

How to Convince Others to Repeat Your Words

Repetition. Mnemonics. Visualization. These are but a few ways that people commit things to memory. Knowing this, speakers can - and should - utilize certain strategies to make their presentations more effective and memorable.

In this post, we’ll break down some thoughts on memory by Memzy's Managing Director and Cognitive Neuroscientist Carmen Simon, including portability, timelessness, and syntax.

Portability, or the ability to apply something in various contexts.

How “portable” is your idea or message? According to a study by Cornell University, phrasing affects memorability, and relies on both distinctiveness and generality. People are more likely to repeat phrases if they can apply them in multiple contexts.

Carmen’s recommendation? Create generic statements, using the present tense and limiting personal pronouns. Think of some famous movie lines or slogans, and think about how they could’ve ended up.

You’re gonna need a bigger boat. --> You’re gonna need the bigger boat.

The first instance, which is the actual movie line from Jaws, can be used pretty flexibly. Some use it when they’re simply in need of more resources. Had the writing team written the line as the latter, it would not have made any sense off the water and wouldn’t be as commonplace of a phrase as it is today.

Timelessness.

The best repeatable messages have a lasting impact and endure time. They focus on three aspects:

  1. A fundamental problem, one that is related to the audience receiving the message,

  2. Building a stimulating mental image, and

  3. The right level of complexity.

Quick note on the third point: There is a difference between profound complexity and intimidating complexity. Never overwhelm your audience with too much information that they cannot process.

Simple (but disfluent) syntax.

The order of words is important if you want people to remember what you have to say. At the same time, disfluency is also necessary.

That is, half the battle is making sure your statements flow together as a whole, creating what Carmen calls a “safe canvas.” Next is marking that canvas with distinct, disfluent words to provide cognitive roadblocks that elicit deeper processing. Seems counterintuitive, but it works. (Just make sure your entire message isn’t all over the place!)

For more on memory tips and tricks, listen to Dr. Carmen Simon on Persuasive Techniques for Business and Life here.

10 Timeless Tips for Giving Effective Presentations

Public Speaking in a Meeting

Regardless of whatever industry you're in, it’s likely that you will have to give a presentation at some point in your life. And if you’re like any of our clients, maybe you’re actively speaking at conferences and events.

So what do you need to know about giving a presentation?

Here are 10 tips for delivering a clear, understandable, and thought-provoking message.

  1. Keep it simple. Unnecessary complexity should always be avoided. Don’t whip out a thesaurus before your presentation in an effort to sound more intelligent. Be real, be yourself, and use your own words.

  2. Stick to three key points. Narrow your focus - state your three points at the beginning of your presentation, and then reiterate them at the end. These are those key takeaways that your audience won’t want to forget.

  3. Engage your audience. Be interactive during your talk by finding ways to keep your audience involved. How? That’s up to you to decide! (Here are 8 ways to make your presentation more interactive.)

  4. Use visuals. One way to engage your audience (see point #3) is by using memorable visuals to emphasize your point. Stay away from too many bullet points and information overload.

  5. Be honest. Don’t try to fake passion for a topic that you don’t actually care about (or know nothing about). Your audience will see right through you.

  6. Move around. It’s the same as going to a concert. Audiences want to watch something dynamic. So walk around, use your hands (not too much though - it can be distracting), and make your point more visually appealing.

  7. Share stories. Help your audience relate to your message by incorporating a personal anecdote or two. Just make sure you don’t pepper the presentation with too much of your personal life…

  8. Be conversational. Remember that it’s not a lecture. We cannot stress this enough.

  9. Consult an expert. Always strive to improve your public speaking style and the quality of your presentations. Watch how-to videos, pay attention to other speakers onstage, read articles, take a course in public speaking, hire a vocal coach - always try to do and be better.

  10. Practice makes perfect. You can never practice too much. Rehearse in front of others or in front of a mirror, and don’t forget it’s okay to start small and then work your way up!

Interested in more? Here are 5 Speaker Fails to Avoid.

You can also view the original Entrepreneur article by Jacqueline Whitmore here.

Baby Steps: Getting on Stage for the First Time

“Like so many other aspects of the working world, getting into speaking gigs can be a catch-22. You need experience to get the gigs, but you need the gigs to get the experience.”

- Megan Berry, VP of Product at Rebelmouse

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When it comes to speaking at events and conferences, expecting to immediately book the biggest gigs or get paid is unrealistic and honestly, not the smartest idea. It’s important to think practical and realistic to start, target the right events for your expertise and audience, and work your way up.

Even the most popular, high profile speakers have had to start somewhere - and with good reason, as the worst place to do your first presentation would be on-stage in front of hundreds of people! Becoming a great speaker requires practice and comes with experience. It means being proactive and investing both time and effort in your message, as well as your speaking strategy.

The result is a ripple effect, as one speaking engagement can open the door to another. Plus, to get into some of those bigger, more established conferences, you usually need past speaking experience. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the submission process, many applications even ask for videos of you speaking. Without one, you might not even be considered.)

So as Berry says, find the low-hanging fruit first. Not getting enough - or any - inbound requests to speak? Try meetups and panels. “Solo gigs are harder to get than panel gigs.” And there are dozens of meetups and small events happening in every city, every month. You just have to take the time to look for them.

Because remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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For more tips on securing more speaking gigs, check out this article.

Need help getting started? Not sure what events would be interested in you? Contact us at speak@credpr.com.

5 Speaker Fails You Need to Avoid

As the role of thought leadership continues to gain importance in generating new business opportunities, speaking engagements are becoming more essential to building a brand. The problem? The demand for speakers is greater than ever - even with the number of events, webinars, podcasts, etc. on the rise.

In other words, every opportunity is equally as important in establishing your speaking cred. If your audience isn’t engaged, you’re failing them and also limiting your scope for future opportunities.

Here is a list of the top five most common fails that you, as a speaker, need to avoid:

1. Misreading or not recognizing interest - Don’t fret if you only see the tops of people’s heads. “Old school” speakers might tell you to measure interest by the number of people who are making eye contact with you. However, in this digital age, keep in mind that your most engaged audience members are rapidly tweeting out your content as you speak. (So don’t ask people to turn off their phones, and try to create “tweetable” quotes!)

2. Not being involved in conversation on social media - Set yourself apart by taking part in the conversations occurring online and networking with other attendees ahead of time. This can help cultivate interest and drive attendance at your panel or session - especially important for those events that have concurrent sessions.

3. Reading PowerPoint slides or notes verbatim - Don’t do it. As digital storyteller Christina Green states, “If you don’t know the topic well enough to discuss it without reading, you’re probably not the best person to lead the discussion.” #Truth

4. Not knowing your audience - Sure, you can up-cycle parts of your old presentations. Since every audience has different needs and concerns, you should still be personalizing the content for each audience. Make sure what you have to share is actually applicable; otherwise, you’re wasting their (and your) time.

5. Using too much ‘marketing speak’ - As mentioned above, know your audience - but also know how they speak. Most people want to be spoken to in easily digestible terms, save the small percentage of “C-Suite who are are still quoting management books from the ‘80s.”

There you have it! Take these insights into consideration as you plan your next presentation, and become a better, more conscious and more engaging speaker that people will rave about.

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FOR THE FULL LIST OF 11 SPEAKING FAILS TO AVOID, CLICK HERE.

Lessons Learned: Public Speaking

"Your mission in any presentation is to inform, educate, and inspire. You can only inspire when you give people a new way of looking at the world in which they live.”

Robert Ballard, discoverer of Titanic (1985)

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Hosted by some of the brightest innovators and professionals around the world, today’s TED talks have become the gold standard in public speaking. It’s no surprise then that TED (which stands for technology, entertainment, and design) and TED-style events are exploding everywhere.

Rather than being envious of these individuals’ awesome presentation skills (it’s hard not to be - we know), what can we learn from them to make ourselves better, more engaging public speakers?

We’ve pulled the top three lessons by former news anchor and keynote speaker Carmine Gallo in his article 9 Public-Speaking Lessons From The World's Greatest TED Talks. Keep these in mind as you plan your next presentation!

  • First, tell a story. The human brain loves the storytelling style. We’ve been telling stories for generations, long before the invention of writing. Many anthropologists say that stories are central to human existence, serving as recognizable patterns in which we find meaning. So instead of bombarding your audience with statistics and figures, make your presentation more personal.

  • Second, teach your audience something they didn’t already know. According to research, there is a region of our midbrain, called the substantia nigra/ventral segmental area (SN/VTA), that can only be activated with absolutely novel stimuli. In layman’s terms, we are hardwired to love novelty.

  • Third, know your purpose, and tap into the right emotions. One way to grab your audience’s attention is by delivering jaw-dropping moments that trigger certain emotions. As Gallo mentions, speakers should try to elicit joy, fear, shock, or surprise in order to have a stronger effect on the listener - it’ll help them remember your presentation long after it’s over.

When asked what they thought was the most important lesson regarding public speaking, a few team members at credPR shared their insights:

  1. “You never know who is going to be in the audience!” - Caitlin

  2. “Even if you’re not confident, pretend that you are. Fake it till you make it!” - Stephanie B.

  3. “Push each other. Execs and moderators get nervous when discussing controversial issues and lean on “safe topics.” It’s important to push each other out of their comfort zone.” - Laura

  4. “Everyone has a good story to tell. The key is to find the right audience!” - Leah

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What do you think is the most important thing to know about public speaking? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Need help finding your audience? That’s our specialty! 

Get in touch with us at hello@credpr.com.

Presentation DOs and DON'Ts

“REHEARSE, REHEARSE, REHEARSE. DO NOT JUST THINK YOU CAN WING A PRESENTATION."

- BILL BURNETT, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF POINTDRIVE

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When it comes to public speaking, there a few factors that can make a presentation go from good to great.

First, DO be organized. Maybe you don’t want to practice your entire speech all the way through (though we recommend doing this at least once). However, assuming you know your material backwards, forwards, and upside down, it is still important to have a mental outline of where you plan on taking your presentation. That way, you don't fumble for words, or zone out and forget to emphasize a certain point.

On the topic of zoning out, DO have a personality for the sake of your audience. As Kevin Daum of Inc. notes, “Not every presenter has to be an actor or comedian, but no one wants to listen to someone drone on in dull monotone.” Another way to showcase your personality is by sharing personal stories or examples. This helps your audience relate to you and better grasp your message.

Still, DON’T try to be funny if you’re not. That sounds harsh. What we mean is humor doesn’t always translate well on-stage and if executed poorly, can even leave someone with a negative impression of you and your brand. If you do happen to tell a poorly timed or convoluted joke that no one understands, don’t fret. Simply move forward with the rest of your awesome presentation.

To ensure your success, DO take advantage of vocal inflections, and DON’T just read from your slides. If you're reading from a screen, no one will want to listen to you. Prevent that by limiting how many words you place on your slides. Changing the pitch or tone of your speech will also spice things up and help you emerge as a more energetic, passionate speaker.

Hungry for more tips? Read more on The Do's and Don'ts of Giving a Killer Presentation here.

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If you want to speak but don’t know where to start, get in touch with us at hello@credpr.com.

Finding opportunities is our specialty, and we love to share!