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.
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.
“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!
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
If you sign up right away on this page, use the discount code “ConnectionKII5BI” to get $10 off!
In the past few weeks, I’ve been giving a lot of advice to speakers who were preparing their decks. Some of them were preparing for a conference. Others were preparing for workshops. And there were even those who were preparing for online courses.
It was a lot of fun to do, and there were some great decks sent in. Of course, there were also quite a few things I could suggest for improvement. There is one thing that kept coming back when analysing the different slide decks: the text.
A lot of speakers still put a lot of text on their slides. Because they want to share as much information as possible. This isn’t always the best approach though. Let me explain why. After that, I will explain how you can handle slides that do have text on them.
Before you go and change your behaviour… Of course, you want to know first, why is having too much text on a slide a bad thing? After all, you are trying to give your audience as much information as possible. Aren’t you helping them?
As well as the intent often is, it isn’t helping them. For a lot of reasons.
Have you ever been to a bar where they had TV’s hanging on the wall? You will have. And you will have experienced that it is hard to keep your eyes off the screen. Even though your conversation partner has something interesting to say. You can’t keep your eyes off it.
The same thing happens with the screen(s) that are behind a speaker. People can’t take their eyes off it. At least, not until their brains have digested what is on the slide.
So what happens to a person when they see a lot of text on a slide? They start reading what is on it. Because they need to digest it. That means their attention will stay on the slide until they’ve read it all.
Now try this: have someone tell you something, while you are trying to read something for the first time. You will either fail to read or fail to listen. You can’t do both.
The same will happen with your audience, they will focus on one thing. And that one thing is going to be the text. Their eyes will be drawn to the screen and will read, and won’t listen to you.
I’m assuming that what you put on your slide is valuable information. Information that will help your audience. Your audience will feel the same way. It must be important because the speaker has put it on there!
When people come to an event or when they are listening to a speech, they want to remember things. And to remember, they will write things down. This means that when you put text on a slide, chances are your audience will write down what’s on your screen.
And you’ve guessed it. When they are writing, it’s hard to listen to you!
Especially when you have quite a bit of information on your slide, it will be hard for people to keep track of what you are saying. Chances are they will still be writing when you click to the next slide. That will mean they won’t hear the first things you are saying on a new topic.
The result is that people are playing catch up all through your presentation. They want to hear everything you say. They want to write down your message and your tips. But let’s put it bluntly: you’re not letting them.
The more text you have on your slides, the more your audience is playing catch up with your words. And that’s not something you want happening!
The question now of course arises, is how to handle the issue of too much text on a slide. And how much text should be on a (Powerpoint) slide anyway? There are a few things that you can do.
The simplest solution, of course, is not to put too much text on a slide. But the truth is that you sometimes do need text. Also, because you sometimes WANT people to write something down. Or to tweet something.
The best way to do that is to use short bites. Short sentences that don’t take too much time to read or write down.
How much? I use the rule of the ‘old tweet’. Meaning around 140 characters. That is enough to digest. It will also make that it will be easier for people to share your quotes, using your name in it as well.
I don’t have much text on my slides. I use a lot of images. Using images prevents them from reading. I use images to represent what I am talking about. They support my words. They help my audience visualise my words.
If you want a good place to find the right images, you can read the article I wrote about where to find high-quality images.
If you do need to share more text, give them time to read. Pause your speech. Tell them they can read the slide if they want. Just don’t talk through it if you don’t have to.
It’s common use to share slides afterwards with audiences. Even though there is discussion about whether or not this is a smart thing to do. Especially when you are using a lot of images, it won’t make much sense to those who haven’t seen your presentation.
When you have a lot of text on your slides, it might be wise to share your slides. When you get to a slide with more text, tell your audience they will get that slide. Tell them they should write down some important words, but they don’t have to copy the entire slide.
Finally, there is the 1-6-6 rule. This rule is very simple. You should include no more than six words per line and no more than six bullet points per slide.
They invented this rule to prevent people from using too much text. Unfortunately, it does the exact opposite. It encourages people to add text, a slide with six bullets and six words each, is still a lot of text! So when you think this rule is the way to go. Go up, and read the post again!
When it comes to text on slides, there is no set number of words or characters you can or cannot use. The essence of it all, is to think about your audience. Understand them. And understand the attention curves. If you understand those, you can help your audience digest what they need to hear.
It’s common advice given to a lot of speakers: practice in front of a mirror. So they can see how they ‘perform’ and improve their body language. It’s a very logical way of thinking. In fact, it’s in the advice of many books and courses. Intended to make you look at yourself in real time and make instant adjustments. But is this the right way of thinking?
I believe it is a completely wrong approach. It can even lead to the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish.
“But wait, what are you saying? Are you saying that the advice others are giving is false?” Well, as with many things, my answer will be: that depends. It depends on how you ‘read’ the advice.
Let’s look at some of the reasoning behind the tip that you should practice in front of a mirror.
This is true, of course, you can see yourself. As I point out below though, it’s not your real self. But the essence of the advice here is good: seeing yourself will make that you can improve yourself. The question is if that has to be a mirror… But I’ll get back to that.
Some say that a mirror will help you look at your audience instead of at your notes. Where I agree that you shouldn’t look at your notes, I doubt that the mirror will have that effect. Eye contact is important. So you have to train yourself to look at different people.
I think this advice comes from the understanding that you need to practice without notes. But there are many better ways of doing that.
So why do I advice against it? There are several reasons you shouldn’t do this.
Even though you see yourself in the mirror, and the reflection is real, this is not reality. Practicing in front of the mirror doesn’t reflect what happens in real life. Because for one, in real life, you don’t see yourself. If you want to practice, you want to get as close as possible to the actual speaking experience. When you see a reflection of yourself, you will act on it right away. Change the way you look. But that is how you look in the mirror, not on stage.
You will not even see how you act on stage because you are focusing on your reflection. What you see is not what you get. This might also mean that you change things that don’t need changing!
When you look in the mirror, and you see something wrong, you will change it. But then the change has happened and you don’t think about it anymore. Where in fact, it’s a habit. So you need to address it over and over. Looking in the mirror fools you into thinking you ‘fixed’ your body language.
When you practice in front of the mirror, you are focusing on how your movement and gestures. You will see every movement that goes wrong. You will see every little thing. Your focus will be on your smallest facial expressions and gestures. This is distracting. Which then leads to too much emphasis on those little things and you will lose the focus on your story.
You want to focus on your story, not your gestures.
Looking at yourself in the mirror when practicing might actually make you nervous. When you look at yourself, you emphasize what goes wrong. You are much more aware of what goes wrong. Therefore increasing the likely hood of it actually going wrong.
If you see things going wrong you will start thinking about these things more and more. And that will make you nervous.
Is it always wrong to practice in front of the mirror? I would say yes in most cases. But, like with everything, there are exceptions. If you practice early enough, it will most likely not make you nervous. And you can do that, but only to practice certain gestures. To see if certain gestures work or not. Otherwise, I would advise against it.
But if it’s something that works for you, do it!
There are two other things you can do that will give you a much better insight into how you are presenting yourself:
Find colleagues or other people to see you talk. They can give you feedback as well. Remember to ask them for specific feedback on your body language and not on your story.
Grab a video camera (or your phone) and record yourself. Position the camera so that it has a broad view of how you move (which show your full body). Watch the recording, write down the two or three biggest things you want to change, and do another practice run.
Just be careful rehearsing in front of the mirror. It might not have the outcome you were hoping for!
Have you ever watched TV shows like ‘Idols’, ‘The Voice’ or ‘Britain’s Got Talent”? These shows are very popular. And for good reason. We love to see others show their often hidden talents.
But next to those that show their talents, there are also many who fail. There’s something interesting about these people. Something that has nothing to do with their (lack of) talent on stage.
When you watch the interviews before their performances, you might notice something. Most of those who fail have something in common: their moms. Broader: their families and friends.
These families all say similar things. “She has always been singing at home and I always get goosebumps!” or “We love hearing him sing in the shower!”. They are proud. Genuinely proud. They are entitled to be.
But they are not always right.
They say these things because they are family. Even though what they say might not be true. Because they don’t want to hurt their loved ones. But some also because see their relatives in a different way. They believe in them. You could say that they are in a bubble. One that will make the performer sound good. Even if they are bad.
To improve as a speaker, you need feedback. I’ve talked about getting feedback before, like in this video.
It’s crucial to get feedback. But not always fun or easy. You will hear things you don’t like.
But if you want to grow, you will need to treat the criticism as a gift. As something that will make you a better speaker.
That means you need to ask for feedback as much as you can.
But don’t ask your mom.
Like with the contestants of the talent shows, your mom, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, brother or sister, or someone else close to you, won’t be honest. They can’t. Granted, there are parents who are the most critical people you will meet. But most aren’t.
You will need to find feedback from those that have a certain expertise. Get it from someone with expertise of the content (someone from your industry). Or from someone who understands what it takes to be on stage.
When asking for the feedback, you need to be ready. Ready for the answer, but also to help those that give the feedback to give you the best answer.
In his book “Confidence 2.0” the author, Rob Yeung, highlights three things that are important when asking for feedback. I agree very much with them. They are:
1. You need to give those you are asking for feedback ‘permission’.
Permission to be honest and negative. Make sure you tell them you want to improve. That it’s ok, in fact even good, to get negative feedback. Because that will help you improve.
2. Anonymous feedback works.
If possible, get people to give written feedback. When they write things down, they will be more honest. And when they write it down, knowing it can’t be traced to them, they will be more honest. Most people are afraid to give criticism. By making it anonymous, you help them be more honest.
3. Thank them for the feedback
Finally, make sure you thank people for their feedback. You will have the urge to reply. You will want to explain or counter. Don’t. It won’t help and people will be less eager to help you out the next time. If you ask for negative feedback, you know you won’t like it.
Accept the feedback, use it and improve.
And I’m sure your mom, dad or loved one is amazing. And loves you very much. But be careful with their feedback!
This post is an example of emails that are sent out daily to our elite group of speakers. Want to be part of that group? Sign up below!
When you are speaking, you want your message to come across. And to make that happen every single time, you want to be better every single time.
There is one way that without a doubt will improve all of your talks. And it’s very easy to do.
I’ve been doing it every time I spoke in the last decade or so, everywhere in the world.
It’s something every speaker should do, but not every speaker does even if it is so easy to do. It doesn’t cost any money, you don’t need any material or equipment. All you need is the guts to do it.
2019 is approaching fast. Which means businesses are preparing to be more successful than ever!
For you, that means that in 2019, you will need to show your presenting and persuasive skills to be at a high level.
Whether you are speaking at a conference or pitching for new clients. Whether you are teaching a workshop class or webinar. Or whether you are applying for a new position next year. All these situations ask for speaking and convincing skills.
To be successful, you will need to be able to persuade. Show those in the room that YOU are the solution to their problems.
This is not easy. It’s a lot of work. And it is stressful.
We say anyone can be a convincing speaker. Because everyone has talents. The key is to highlight these talents!
As Sally Hogshead said:
This means: be the best you that you can be!
Becoming the best you can be will take one step: being ready to make the change.
Our training sessions do exactly what you need: help you become the best you that you can be.
We look at your talents and build your speaking skills from there. Highlight that was is strong and makes you stand out.
Let us help you become that persuasive and confident speaker.
Past attendees of our training sessions have experienced exactly that:
SEMRush’ Ashley Ward says:
Lloyd’s Russell O’Sullivan says:
Deepcrawl’s Rachel Costello says:
Search Integrations’ Sara Clifton says:
They have become part of our elite persuasive speakers group!
Are you ready to become an elite persuasive speaker?
Sign up for one of our training or coaching sessions now. And in 2019, you will be an elite persuasive speaker!
Here’s a nice bonus: do you have any education budget left over from 2018, but you want to do a training in 2019? We can help! Register for a training session and you will get an invoice you can use for your 2018 budget. Your training will not start until 2019!
Do you want to get a partial invoice in 2018 and partial in 2019? We can do that as well!
Can we reserve a spot for you in one of our sessions? Let us know below!
At The Inbounder in Madrid, Bas van den Beld spoke to Marcus Tandler about his experiences as a speaker and any tips he has for other (new) speakers).
We discussed several topics: from Google to Slidestorms (301 slides in 30 minutes!), rehearsing, anxiety, tactics and much more!
Here’s the full video. See a breakdown of the video below!
When Marcus Tandler started speaking in public in 1999, he wasn’t so sure Google would make it. In fact, he didn’t believe it at all when a student in his workshop told him.
Listen to Marcus anecdote about one of his first talks ever:
In the interview we had with Marcus Tandler, we asked him why he has this method of presenting. His answer is both surprising as obvious.
Listen to Marcus talk about the number of slides:
If you use Slidestorms like Marcus does you need to be sure of what you say. That means a lot of rehearsal.
Listen to the specific item here:
When Marcus uses a Slidestorm as a presentation format, he needs to prepare. How much? He’ll tell you in this video!
Listen to the specific item here:
When Marcus goes on stage, he is nervous. He tries to make himself calm and uses a smiley for that. If it works? He’ll tell you in this video!
Listen to the specific item here:
When preparing for a talk, structuring a talk in the right way is important. You need to bring your audience with you.
When Marcus prepares a presentation, he looks at it as if it’s a movie script. In this video, he explains more.
Listen to the full item here:
How barcamps, smaller conferences, your wife or your grandma can help you become a great speaker? They give you experience. As a speaker starting out, you should go to the smaller events and just do it. Get on stage and talk!
And when practicing, practice in front of your wife, your mom or your grandma. Because as Marcus says, if they understand, you do fine!
Listen to the full item here:
Marcus calls himself a “search geek and absolutely in love with SEO”. He is known within the search industry by the Twitter handle “Mediadonis”. Many know him as a great speaker and organiser of SEOktoberfest.
Marcus is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at Ryte.com – a SaaS Tech-StartUp with the mission to help webmasters make better websites.
More about Marcus:
In the past few weeks, you have seen parts of the interview with Purna Virji being published on our YouTube channel and through our social channels. Today, you can watch the entire interview with Purna!
Public speaking for some speakers seems to be easy. They look confident on stage. They have a great story and a lot of knowledge. It seems they have no problem being on stage. Speaking for them seems to come naturally.
Often appearances are deceiving. These speakers work hard to get a presence on stage that feels so natural. And they too get nervous.
As a speaker, it is great to learn from other experienced speakers. To learn how they handle nerves. To learn how they first got on stage. In a series of interviews, we talk to these experienced speakers. To get insights from them that help you, as someone who wants to be a better speaker.
In this series, we spoke to Purna Virji (Bing), Marcus Tandler (Ryte), Cindy Krum (Mobilemoxie) and Melanie Deziel (consultant, former NYT).
In the interview with Purna, we talked about a lot of different things related to public speaking.
Purna has been speaking in public since early 2012. She still loves being on stage. Actually, the more she does it, the more she loves it!
Purna spends a lot of time preparing for a presentation. Including design and everything around a presentation, she spends about 100 hours preparing for a one-hour presentation!
She will start by thinking about which issues the audience is facing. What can she give them which is of most help? The key thing is, how can she add the most value. She will then go and do research about what is available and what is out there.
Her next step is to create an outline in Word. She will fill that in, almost like she is writing an article. In the end, she will convert it to Powerpoint.
Purna rehearses a lot for a presentation. She likes to get in at least three rehearsals for a talk. She finds that helps to get the talk to stick in her head and to know the flow.
Purna finds that if she hasn’t rehearsed enough, she will stumble and she will find herself say “uhm” too much. Rehearsal makes that her talks sound better!
Purna has an interesting approach to rehearsing. She doesn’t rehearse in front of a mirror. She rehearses to the wall. After all, the wall is a captive audience and never has a bad thing to say! She practices on her own, in for example her hotel room or her office.
The first rehearsal she does out loud. She then can adjust content and flow. And she knows how her time is! Purna can than adjust her slides accordingly.
Why Purna wanted to go into public speaking in the first place, is because she found it to be absolutely terrifying! She thought she would ‘die’ when she would get on stage. She hated it more than bugs or spiders. She wanted to conquer that fear.
For the first two or three years, she was still terrified. But the more she did it, the fear goes away.
Purna believes the fear isn’t a bad thing. The fear comes from caring how the audience perceives the talk and how they get value. Which is good.
To get rid of the nerves, she does things like deep breathing. She tries to change the nerves into excitement. She feels much more comfortable.
Purna’s advice for speakers who are just starting is to ‘just do it!’ If you give yourself time to think about it, you give yourself time to talk yourself out of it. If you feel there is something you have had a success in. If you have something you are proud of, know that you have value to add! Just go ahead and pitch!
Purna wants you to just go ahead and do it. The more diverse voices there are in this industry, the more the industry as a whole will benefit.
Want more advice from experience speakers? Subscribe to our YouTube channel to find more!
People have a tendency to compare. They compare products. They compare services. They compare people. And yes, they compare speakers. This is why at a conference, you will often hear the question “which speaker did you like most today?”. Heck, I’ve asked it quite a few times myself.
I’m not saying this question is wrong. But there is something about this question that you should know: it is misleading.
Why? Because it indicates that all speakers should be judged equally. Where they don’t.
Each speaker is different.
One speaker could be more of a storyteller, while the other is more about the facts. Or one speaker is doing a trend overview, where the other is trying to teach us specifically about a topic.
Someone in the audience is likely to be there for one or two of these reasons. Not all of them. So if you are hoping to learn details, you will find the storyteller less interesting. Or vice versa.
A lot of speakers compare themselves to others. And here the same problem appears. It is misleading because of the different intents of the speakers.
When you are speaking at a conference, do yourself a favor and don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to… yourself. Do a better job than last time. You’ll be a better speaker for it!
This post is part of our email series.
A sentence often heard in presentations is “I will get back to that” or “I will talk about that later”. This can be both good and bad. Good if you make it a ‘cliffhanger’. Bad if you actually never do get back on the topic.
Bas van den Beld explains this sentence.
You have speakers who are talking about a certain topic and who then tend to drift off. And then they will tell the audience: “You know what, I’ll get back to that later on. This is a point, but I’ll get back to it.”
There’s actually a good way and a bad way of handling that. The good way is very interesting. Because it can help you keep the attention of the audience. The bad way is it’s going to make them very, very, very anxious.
The good way is when you’re using the “I’ll get back to you on that” in a way that builds tension. You’re not actually saying: “I’ll get back to you”. But you’re building up, kind of like with the commercials or with a talk show. “Later on I’ll be talking about… but first … “
When you do that you’re building up tension. You’re building up the expectation that you’re building towards something. And that will keep people’s attention because they want to hear what you’re going to be talking about in the end.
The bad way however is that you keep repeating whenever you start talking about something that you’re going to get back to the audience on that topic later on in your talk. But then the audience sees the time passing and sees that you are getting to the end of your presentation. And they might still not have heard anything about what you are going to get back to. And that means that maybe at the end of your talk, you’re actually not going to get back to the topics that you mentioned before. Because you just ran out of time.
In that case, you’re holding the audience ‘hostage’. And they are kind of waiting for it, but you’re not giving it to them. So that’s when it’s bad.
So, there’s a good way and a bad way to work with talking about stuff later on in your presentation.
Use the good way. Build up the tension. But make sure you can keep your promise. And do it well thought out.
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
Hey how you doing? “Uhhmm”, I want to talk to you about something that “uhhm”. Is something that “uhm” annoys “uh” a lot of people. When “uhh” you are on stage and “uhh” keep saying “uhhh” like I just did.
Now I know I exaggerate a little bit and I know that I even do that sometimes on stage. That I still say “uhm”.
That’s a moment where you’re thinking about “what did I want to say again?” You’re trying to grab your thoughts together. And because you don’t want people to think that you’ve lost whatever you’re talking about, because you’re not (lost).
That’s why you say “Uhhm”. Because you don’t want that awkward silence. To be honest, the awkward silence, isn’t bad at all. Every time you think you want to say “uh”, just pause. Don’t say anything.
It will sound less weird than you actually think. Because in your head it might sound like a long silence, where actually, for the audience, it’s a silence they kind of appreciate. Because if you take a short break, they can understand what you just said. So don’t worry about the “Uhms” too much. Just say nothing.
If you are doing talks or workshops, you need to come prepared. If you show up with only your computer, chances are something goes wrong. A well-prepared speaker brings his own items.
Let’s take a look at five items every speaker needs to bring to a conference or workshop to make sure your session goes as planned.
Some speakers come into the venue they are going to be speaking at last minute. It will make for a bad presentation. Here’s what you should do.
Instead, come prepared. Be there early. Get to know the room. Get a feel of the audience. And very important: test your technical settings. So you know it will work when you get on stage.
Watch the 2 minute video:
Hey there! I’m going to say: ‘good morning’, even though I have no idea when you’re actually viewing this video. But I’m saying good morning because for me it is morning.
It’s actually just about eight o’clock, and in about an hour’s time, I have a training session that I’m doing, that I’m teaching. On the speaking course.
It’s actually right over here, in a nice castle. Which is great. But it reminded me of something on the way here. I thought: well this is something and I need to share with you guys. Because there’s a reason why I’m here an hour before. I want to get in early, I want to be prepared.
And this is something that I’ve always been amazed about when I attended conferences. I saw other speakers walk in like two minutes before the talk. And kind of rushed. They didn’t know where they were. They hadn’t prepared well enough. Knowing like the setup. So often times, it went wrong.
Because the technical stuff didn’t work. And they would like almost blame the technical guys. While actually, it was the speaker’s fault. I think that one of the most important tips I can give you is:
Be there on time! Get ready. Get acquainted with the room. Get acquainted with the people in the room. With the technicians. Know that your technical stuff is working. Be prepared
and then your actual talk will go a lot smoother and a lot better.
Also when you might not have any technical issues. But people’s sense it. People sense that you are not relaxed. That you’re you’re uptight because you just came running in. So my tip for today:
Be there on time and be prepared!
This tip is part of our email series. Sign up for the tips below!
I spoke to Craig Rayner, event organiser. My question was about picking speakers. Want to know what it takes to speak at an international conference? Searchelite conference organiser Craig Rayner explains how he picks speakers and what you should do.
Have you ever wondered why you are nervous? If you want to handle nerves, you should first understand why you are. After that, you can handle them better! In this week’s tip, Bas van den Beld talks about where nerves come from.
Be sure to sign up for the speaking tips (below or here) to get a free unique tip in your inbox every week!
Want more tips like these? Sign up below for our free weekly tips and learn from behind your screen! Want more personalised tips? Check out our training options.
Speaking at conferences is great for building a personal brand. It’s something that helped Jono Alderson a lot. His speaking at conferences is legendary, because of the way he speaks and the amount of content he is able to get in. That takes a lot of preparation.
I talked to different speakers, asking them about how they prepare and what tips they can give you. Listen to Jono explain why research is important, why you have to be ready and why you need to tell a story.
Find more insights here and be sure to sign up for our weekly speaking and pitching tips!
Are you looking to become a better storyteller yourself? Check out our new Storytelling Online Class!
Speaking at conferences can definitely help you and your business grow. But it does mean you have to win over some fears and you have to prepare. After all, you don’t want to fail. I talked to different speakers, asking them about how they prepare and what tips they can give you.
Listen to Sam Noble, a PPC expert and very experienced speaker!
Find more insights here and be sure to sign up for our weekly speaking and pitching tips!
Are you looking to become a better speaker yourself? Check out all our options!
“You have to connect with your audience”. It’s a sentence you can read in almost any book about public speaking or hear at any training session. You want the audience to get involved.
The books and the trainers are right. It’s good to get a connection with the audience. Once you have the connection, the audience is much more inclined to believe what you are saying. They trust you, so they will be more open to you. If they don’t trust you, your story, no matter how good, will not “do” anything. It won’t “live” and the audience won’t remember your important messages.
I always try to find the connection with the audience. Sometimes that is easier said than done. But I try.
At a conference a few years ago, I tried out something new. I asked my audience for help. Let me explain.
My talk was about Understanding your audience using data-driven marketing. It’s a topic I speak about more often and help businesses with.
As a speaker, it sometimes can be difficult to get a grip on your audience. They always come from different backgrounds. So they will perceive your talk in different ways.
In this case, I wanted to make an effort to understand my audience. That’s why I asked my audience for feedback. Right there and then. Asking for feedback is difficult. When asked, most people won’t tell you the truth. Or they keep it too simple: good, medium or bad. This doesn’t help me much to understand what they are taking away from my talk.
Every audience is always making notes. On their computer, tablet or on paper. I decided I wanted to see these notes. So I asked the audience to tweet out a picture of their notes after my session.
I knew that this was tricky to do in Sweden. The audience in the Nordics is often a bit more reserved than somewhere else. They are knowledgeable but less interactive.
In this case, the result was great.
I got regular tweets with feedback and feedback in person afterward. And even better: I got pictures of the notes from some nice and helpful people in the audience.
Looking at the notes helped me figure out a few things about my speech. Things that can help me improve my talks for next times. Here are a few learnings from the notes:
Some nice learnings there for me. I already knew about some of them. But there was some refreshing new information. For me, it was a success.
And somehow (but I haven’t checked that) I think this helped the audience as well. They will hopefully look at their notes in a different way.