How to stop saying “uhm” and other filler words in your talk

How to stop saying “uhm” and other filler words in your talk

Category:Body Language,nerves Tags : 

How often do you say the word “uhm” or “um” when you talk? Probably a lot. Because many people do. These words are called “filler words”. But how can you fix this?

When you use filler words, you are thinking out loud. And that’s where the solution to stop saying “uhm” lies.

Bas van den Beld explains

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Two words to avoid when pitching, training and presenting

Category:Structuring Tags : 

When you are presenting, in pitching, on a stage or in a training session, there are two words you should not use.

Without thinking about it, you are using two words a lot in your pitches. These two words however can make you lose your pitch in an instant. Subconsciously, your audience will hear something that will make them doubt you if you use these words. What to say instead? The answer is in the video!

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12 mistakes to avoid in your video updates

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

Because of the Corona virus, of lot more people are creating videos. They do this to connect with their peers, to show what they are doing.

It’s good that so many people do this. It helps create connections, it helps show that you are still out there. Creating videos is now a huge part of making yourself more visible.

Like with speaking in front of ‘real people’ however, you need to pay attention to what you are doing. A video can be very useful, but it has to be good.

Many of those that are now creating videos, are making some simple mistakes. I made those mistakes as well. And when corrected, the videos became a lot better!

In this video I will show the 12 most common mistakes made when ‘vlogging’ or creating a video.

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How to be (more) loveable like Pavarotti

Category:Body Language Tags : 

The late opera singer Luciano Pavarotti was not just a great singer, he was also a very loveable person.

There is a video on the web where Pavarotti answers questions from the audience. The questions are about the most embarrassing moments that he ever had while on stage.

The way that Pavarotti answers these questions are a great example of what you can learn to become more loveable to your audience.

Become more loveable on stage, during a meeting or in a face-to-face talk using three things that Pavarotti did.

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Three rules that help you make your slides (a lot) better

Category:Structuring Tags : 

For some speakers building slide decks can be difficult. They spend hours crafting them. They add images, they add text and in some cases too many bullets. When they then get on stage, the presentation doesn’t work.

They don’t work, not because the speaker isn’t good, but because the slide deck isn’t working.

These speakers don’t know how to use slide decks to benefit their talks. Instead, the slide decks prevent them from doing a good talk!

These speakers often don’t understand why they have slides in the first place. With some changes however, they could make their slides work for them.

I want to point out three important elements when it comes to slides to you. If you stick by these rules, your slides will instantly become better.

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How body language can impact an audience

Category:Body Language Tags : 

The biggest element in communication is not your words, it’s your body language. What you say with your body is more important than what you say with your mouth.

Being able to communicate with your body makes that your impact on an audience can be much bigger.

That’s because your body brings emotion to the story.

In the last video we discussed how World Champion Public Speaking 2015, Mohammed Qathani, uses some smart techniques that help him capture the attention of the audience.

In this video, we break down how Qathani uses body language to make a more powerful story.

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How do you get and keep the attention of your audience?

How do you get and keep your audience attention?

Category:Preparation,Structuring Tags : 

You’ve only got 30 seconds to grab the attention of your audience. That’s a very short time. It means you have to do it right!

In the first 30 seconds, the audience is going to decide whether or not they will trust you. They will make up their minds in regards of like-ability, trustworthiness and whether or not you are worth their time.

This means you have to pay attention to the first 30 seconds!

The World Champion Public Speaking 2015, Mohammed Qathani, uses some smart techniques that help him capture the attention of the audience early.

In this video, we break down three steps Qathani used in his winning talk. You can use these steps to right away capture the attention of your audience.

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Three things to remember for a successful speaking career

Category:Starting-out Tags : 

For some, presenting is a need. For others, it’s something they love doing and want to do more. But can you make a career out of it? You sure can, I did!

If you are like me, after your first talk, you will want more. Public Speaking is addictive. The applause, the connection with the audience, the fact that you are teaching others. All these elements could be reasons why you want to pursue a speaking career.

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What happens when people hear a story?

Category:Storytelling Tags : 

Why do we do storytelling? Because we heard we should? Or because it’s fun? Or because the audience wants it?

Yes, it is about the audience. But not because they want it, but because it changes the way they feel. If you tell a story on stage, something happens with people.

What happens? For example these things…

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Getting closer to your audience in Storytelling

Category:Audience,Storytelling Tags : 

An important element in public speaking as well as in storytelling is to get close to your audience. The closer you get, the more powerful your story.

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How to keep your audience attention

Category:Audience,Preparation,Storytelling Tags : 

I recently sat in a presentation with a friend of mine next to me. After the talk, I asked my friend what he thought of the presentation.

“To be honest,” he said, “I got distracted halfway through and couldn’t get back on track after. So I missed most.”

It happens to all of us. We get distracted easy. For a speaker, that means it is crucial to put elements into their presentations that will prevent that from happening.

How do you make your speech unpredictable and your audience engaged?

You want to keep your audience attention. But how? By adding in unpredictable elements to your speech. Elements that will keep your audience on their toes.

Which elements are that? Here are five.

(Bold) Statements

“You all think smoking kills? Let me tell you something. Do you know that the amount of people dying from diabetes are three times as many people as dying from smoking?”

It’s how Mohammed Qahtani, 2015 World Champion Public Speaking, starts his talk ‘The Power of Words’. The statement wasn’t correct, but that wasn’t what mattered. He got what he wanted: the attention of the audience. And a chance to explain his point.

Statements and especially bold statements are a great attention grabber. You trigger people to listen to you. They want to hear how you are going to prove your statement.

Qahtani was quite extreme in his statement. You don’t have to go that far. But you can still trigger. When pitching you could, for example, say something like “We are better than Apple”.

The important part: you’ll have to prove your statement after!

Being funny

A second way to get and keep the attention of your audience is to be funny. Make your audience smile and they will love you for it. Being funny is a great way to do that.

At the same time, being funny is tricky. Be careful here. Not everybody has the same humour. And you have to know the difference between being funny and telling a joke.

When it comes to being funny, timing is everything. And not too much. A funny story can help, but it has to be relatable to the topic of your talk! A good idea is to keep it personal and not insult your audience.

It is a great way to keep the attention. But as said, be careful, not everything is considered funny.

Tell a great story

We know that people are hardwired to listen to stories. When done well, telling stories is one of the most powerful tools in a presentation. A story keeps attention because people want to hear what comes next.

Telling a short story in your presentation can do wonders for the attention. What you want to do is connect the stories to the content of your talk. In other words: make it relevant.

I often use stories in my presentations. The stories can be about my kids, about anything. But I always make sure they connect to the topic of the talk.

Give them bold or surprising statistics

“According to Comscore, 25% of internet users have an ad blocker installed.”

It’s a sentence from one of my presentations. These statistics are staggering. It will make people think. “That’s a lot!” (or in some cases “that’s not much!”. Whenever I use statistics like these, I can see people look up, take pictures or write them down.

I have their attention at that point. Statistics do that. But like with the stories and fun stuff, it has to be relevant and at least a little bit bold. Telling your audience 100% of people drink water won’t help much.

Your slide design

The last way to get and keep attention is your slide design. We all know ‘death by PowerPoint’. Too many bullets will kill your presentation.

A great design will keep people focused. This can be the use of the right colours, but also usage of the right images.

Personally, I use a lot of animated gifs. These to me are like the pictures used in Harry Potter movies. They come to life.

It’s all about relevance

With all the things you can do to keep the attention, one thing is important: it has to be relevant. It has to make sense.

To conclude, I’d like to share my favourite gif to use in presentations. Here’s why I use this gif: it’s funny, it’s relevant and it tells a story. I use it to explain how we should always be looking beyond the obvious because that’s where the real gold lies.


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Closing Speaker? Make Being the Last of the Day Work for You!

Category:Preparation,Audience Tags : 

Being the last speaker at an event can be daunting for speakers. But there are actually some big opportunities. Make being the last speaker work for you!

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8 Ways to Get a Connection with your Audience

Category:Preparation,Audience Tags : 

Every speaker wants a good ‘connection’ with the audience. In some cases, that can be quite hard. Not all audiences are the same. And some audiences, you have to ‘convince’. Wouldn’t it be great if your audience would listen engaged to every word you had to say? It’s possible.

There are a few ways to connect to your audience. Some are easy. And your audience will feel closer to you, without you being too obvious about it.

1. Respond to what you see

Many speakers are very self-focused when they are on stage. Most of the time, this is not intentional. But speakers want to do a good job. So they focus on the job they feel is most important: the words and the slides.

If you focus only there, you will lose the attention of the audience. Because there is no connection.

A good speaker has to know what happens in the room, at all times. Are people paying attention, are they bored, are they engaged? Who is laughing and who isn’t? And who seems to agree or disagree with you?

If you feel the room agrees or doesn’t agree, for example, act on it. Tell them “I see some people disagree, that’s fine, here’s why I feel it is like this…”

The mere fact that you are responding to their movements shows you care. And caring means connecting.

2. Look at people a bit longer

It’s common advice for speakers: “Look to all parts of the room and focus on some people”. Great advice, but you need to be careful with this. If you ‘glance’ over the audience too much, they will feel neglected. They feel you don’t ‘see’ them.

What you want is a real connection. This means looking people in the eye. In fact, look at some people a bit longer. Not too long, that gets creepy, but long enough to get the connection. Get a smile even. It will bring you closer.

3. Smile and have fun

Smiling is one of the most underestimated parts of public speaking. If you want to connect, the audience must feel you like them. And if you are not smiling, how will they ever feel you like them?

Once you show you are enjoying yourself on stage, the audience will become part of that. And they will feel closer to you.

Jokes?

How to make people smile? Sometimes you can do that with jokes. Being funny does help. If you can make the audience smile, they will feel closer to you.

Now there is a danger here. If your joke backfires, you could lose all the connection. So think about jokes. Don’t offend people. Don’t make fun of specific groups. Be lighthearted and funny. The best person to joke about is you.

4. Be personal

Which brings me to a very important part of your presentation. You have to make any presentation you do personal. People bond with you, not with the presentation. So as soon as you can make part of the presentation personal, you will get closer to the audience.

This doesn’t mean you have to keep telling stories about yourself or your kids all the time. It does mean, you want to connect the content of the presentation to your personality. Show the connection between you and what you are trying to get across. People will like you, and your talk, better.

5. Refer to what they already know

If you talk about stuff that people can’t relate to, you make it hard for them. It can be almost like you are talking to them in a foreign language. How do you feel when you are part of a conversation between two people speaking a language you don’t understand? You feel left out.

You want to avoid people feeling left out. Even when you are talking about difficult topics. You want to sometimes bring it back to basics. The best way of doing that is to refer to things people already know. Sometimes that is an analogy, sometimes it’s going back to something everybody knows.

If you refer to what people know, you give them trust and they will get closer to you.

6. Walk towards your audience

There are speakers who stand behind a desk. And there are those (like myself) who like to walk around. I prefer the walking way, for several reasons. For one, it’s a way of getting closer to your audience.

By physically getting closer to your audience, you will make them feel closer to you as well. So walk towards them. Make them ‘part’ of your presentation. And it will create a bond.

7. Compliment the audience

Finally, compliment the audience. Tell them how great they are.

There are several parts in the presentation where you can do this. At the start, you can make a compliment about the location, the city that you are in or the company that you are presenting at. During the talk, you can tell them you can see they are a smart audience. “I don’t need to tell you this, you know this”, shows you feel they are smart. And at the end of the talk, you can say you enjoyed their presence.

A compliment can do many things!

8. Tell a story

As you can see, there are many ways of getting a connection with your audience. The one important thing you have to keep in mind is that it has to be about them. They need to be able to recognise themselves.

The best way of doing that is by telling a story. People love stories. Not only because they are fun, but because it’s part of our DNA. Stories are part of our everyday life. Each day we tell each other stories. Each day we listen to stories.

When we hear a story, we listen better. We remember more. And we trust the source of a story. This is why storytelling is such a powerful tool. And this is why storytelling needs to be part of any type of talk that you do.

But Storytelling isn’t easy. That’s why we created a class for you that shows you exactly how to create a perfect story, over and over again.


Misconceptions about Storytelling debated

Category:Storytelling Tags : 

I attended an office party the other day at which a few people started debating storytelling. There were a few who didn’t believe in the concept of storytelling at all. Others did believe in it, but didn’t think it was ‘for them’. It struck me how little informed some people seemed to be. Or better said: how presumptuous.

Some people believed storytelling is not important. Which is ok to think, but they thought so for the wrong reasons.

It’s a hype!

“Let me tell you a story”, that’s how the conversation started. “Hah, a story, are you doing ‘storytelling’?”, said the second person. “Storytelling is a hype!” was the third response. That’s how the conversation started.

Some of the people at the party thought Storytelling was a hype. They thought so because they had heard the term so often.

In a way, they were right. When you hear a term often, it feels like the start of a hype. And when agencies start offering a service related to that ‘buzzword’ as a service, all alarm bells go off. At that point, it has all the signs of becoming a hype.

But is Storytelling a hype? When something is a hype, it will also go away again. It temporarily has the attention.

But ‘storytelling’ isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it will be around longer than many other ‘buzzwords’. Storytelling is part of human DNA. It has always been around. From the stone ages until now. And it will remain part of our lives in the far future.

We’ve been telling stories forever. And we’ve been selling by stories forever. So is it a hype? It probably is. But one that actually makes sense. One that

This argument made one of the people in the conversation, let’s call him Mark, think. He tended to agree but didn’t give in yet.

It doesn’t work!

“Whatever, it might not be a hype, it sure doesn’t work! People want to know what they are buying, they don’t want to hear stories!”

This is an argument that you hear often within businesses. Many businesses aren’t using storytelling yet because they think it doesn’t work. These businesses haven’t looked well enough at how and why people buy.

People don’t buy because a product has the most features, they buy because they feel it fits their needs. And that goes beyond the features. When buying, people listen to friends and families. They read reviews, and they listen to the stories of the salesmen.

Did you ever think about why a salesperson always has a personal experience that happens to feel like yours? Yep, that’s because the story works. You start feeling a connection with the salesperson.

Stories also work because when buying, people want to learn. They want to know everything about the product, the service or anything connected. People’s brains need to learn. And the best way of learning is through stories. Because stories stick.

But that doesn’t work for B2B!?

Mark wasn’t convinced yet.

“Ok, it might work for consumers, but we are a B2B business. B2B is different. Here people want to know about facts!”

Again, this was an argument I had heard before. B2B and B2C seem to be very different, when in fact they aren’t. Like B2C, B2B is also all about people, about emotions. And that is not a made up argument. A Google Research showed that half of the B2B buyers are more likely to buy if they can connect emotionally with a brand. And the best way of getting that connection is by telling stories that show a connection.

The same study also shows that 71% buys because they see a personal value. 68.8% even wants to pay more if they believe in a business.

That is all emotion. That is all personal. And guess how to best get the message of connection across…

Not in my niche!

Mark started to see he was running out of arguments. But he kept trying.

“Yeah ok, maybe it works somewhere, but not with us! We are in a very specific niche. People don’t listen to stories in our niche. And even if they would, we wouldn’t be able to find or create stories anyway. There are no stories in our niche!”

To be honest, I always get a little bit annoyed when people say this. There is no niche in the world where you cannot find a story. There is no niche in the world where you can’t find a connection with your audience. If that would be so, the niche would not even exist.

When there is a niche, there is a demand. Someone wants that product or service. And if there is a demand, it means the product or service is solving some sort of problem, even if it’s very small. That’s where you can find the stories.

You could see that some people started to think storytelling wasn’t so bad after all. Even Mark. But if you know anything about the human mind, you know that giving in, is the hardest thing to do. Instead, ‘we’ try and change the subject, or at least find a way to make us look good. That’s what happened at the party as well. Mark shifted the topic.

Storytelling is difficult?

“Well, we don’t do storytelling because it takes too much of our time. We are in the selling business, not the telling business. When you do storytelling you need to find the stories or create them. You need to actually be able to think of stories! Our people can’t do that.”

Granted, good storytelling does take some time. But it doesn’t take that much more time than a regular marketing campaign will take you. Any work takes time. But it’s about choices. And knowing that storytelling is so much more powerful, the choice should be easy.

The good thing about storytelling is also that if you know how it is not so difficult to do. If you analyse stories, you can see that most stories have a similar structure. You need an obstacle, a hero, a beginning, middle and an end.

“Oh, so Storytelling is easy? Anyone can do it?”

Well, yes, anyone can do it. Anyone can create a story. But you want the story to be good. You want the story to have an impact. And for that, you need to know how to fill in the details that create a persuasive story. And no, not anyone can ‘just do that’. If so, anyone would write novels.

Everybody can learn how to create a story!

Finally, Mark was convinced. He realised Storytelling was a useful way of getting a connection with his audience. He realised his business needed to “get” storytelling. And see it as more than a hype.

“Ok, now I get it. Storytelling is about reaching the human brain. It’s actually a very natural way of connecting with your audience! We should do this. We’re going to allocate time and resources to this. First, our staff will take the class and then we’ll tell stories! We’re in!”

Are you in?


What Ajax and Spurs can teach us about Storytelling

Category:Storytelling Tags : 

The 2019 Champions League Quarter Finals between Ajax and Juventus and between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur were more than football. They were stories.

We can learn from the stories of two games played in the Champions League: Juventus vs Ajax and Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur.

They follow the same path as any good story follows!

Do you want to be able to create stories like this, without having to step one foot on the pitch? You can! Join the Storytelling Class and start making a real difference!


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