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

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

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!

Some call it the ‘graveyard shift’. If you are the last speaker at the conference. It’s not a strange remark. After all. If you are the last one at the conferences, chances are the room is half empty. A part of the attendees will have gone home. Another part will be in the pub or trying to get early drinks at the networking. Those that are there are also after a long day listening to speeches.

It’s something many conference organisers struggle with. Who to put last. What to do with the networking. You want people to stick around and you want people to attend the networking as well. So actually the last session is important. It’s why some organisers have decided to end the day with a big keynote. To keep people there.

What if you are the last speaker?

So what if you are the last speaker? Is that a lost cause? Are you better off letting them get to the drinks?

On the contrary!

Being the last speaker actually, gives you big opportunities. Yes, some of the audience may have already left. But those that are still there are the ones interested.

They WANT to hear you speak. The group might be smaller than earlier, you might be able to get much more out of them! Since you are the last one, this is your chance to leave them with a big impression.

Your message is what they walk away with. Your message is the first thing they will remember the next day at the office.

To do this, though, you have to do the right things. It’s very easy to lose that audience and instead of making a good last impression. If you fail, they will never pay attention to you ever again. But if you succeed, you are the big winner.

One thing you need to remember when you are the closing speaker: you are not only delivering a talk. You are closing the conference. The way you send them away determines for a big part how they feel about the conference.

Let’s look at a few things you should and should not do when you are the last speaker.

Photo: AP

Here are the do’s and don’ts:

Don’t

  • Emphasise the empty room
  • Say ‘between you and drinks’
  • Be boring

Do:

  • Start off with a bang
  • Keep it short and crisp
  • Give them something to talk about
  • Give them something special
  • Save a story

Let’s dive into them!

Things you shouldn’t do as closing speaker

There are some things you should stay away from when you are up last. For the simple reason that if you talk about these things, you will lose the attention. Sometimes even before you start.

Don’t emphasise the empty room

You want to avoid talking about the fact that people have left. Even though you mean well. The wrong emphasis on how they stuck around will make them feel less important rather than more. It hurts both you as the audience. You are showing how insecure you are. At the same time, you can make the audience feel like they are the ‘losers’ that stayed. You are telling them it’s ok to leave and perhaps even give them the idea to go.

I’ve seen it happen more than once. Whenever speakers said this, a few more people got up and left.

Don’t say ‘between you and drinks’

“All that stands between you and drinks is me” Or a variation of the sentence. “You’ll get your coffee after you’ve listened to me”.

I can’t count the number of times I heard a speaker say this. I know I’ve said it. I now know I shouldn’t have.

You are telling them it’s you that makes they can’t have coffee or drinks now. That makes you a ‘hurdle’. They now feel they have to wait. Instead of getting excited, they will feel they have to work.

Don’t be boring

Of course, you never want to be boring. But in the case of speaking last, it’s extra important to keep their attention. And you need to grab it within the first seven minutes of the talk. In this time frame, people subconsciously decide if they like you and the talk or not. Being boring in that time frame will kill your talk.

What to do when you are the last speaker

We know it’s easy to screw up. But how to make it work for you? You need to stand out! Here are a few things you could consider and work on.

Start off with a bang

Since you know the first seven minutes are crucial, this is where you want to make the biggest impact. So instead of talking about who you are and about your business, why not start with a bang?

You can start with a bang in different ways. A bold statement for example. Something controversial. The World Champion Public Speaking 2015, Mohammed Qahtani, does this well in his winning talk. Watch his opening:

What he does here is controversial and smart. It’s not only surprising, it serves a goal as well. He’s making a point with it.

But you don’t have to be that controversial if you don’t want to. You could start with a personal story (storytelling captivates). Or you could start with a video. There are many ways to get that attention and wake them up.

Keep it short and crisp

You don’t want to be boring, so you have to make sure you are short and crisp. People are tired, so they absorb less. That means your presentation has to be to the point. And make it short(er) than you otherwise would. You want to send them away before they get tired of you.

Give them something to talk about

If you are the last speaker, you have the chance to give them something to talk about during the break or drinks. An opening like the above-mentioned one would be something they would talk about. But a great tear-jerking video also can do the trick.

Key is to find one thing that is “different”. One thing they will remember. Best would be to have a small exercise or game they can play during the break. Make sure you tell them to do it afterwards and share with you how it went. They will have another reason to talk to you.

Here’s an example when talking about persuasion:

“Try this when you are having drinks later on: nodding your head while asking a question will make the other person more inclined to agree with you. “Don’t you think X, Y, Z is right?” while nodding, most people will agree.”

Then after the session, go and watch people try this. It will be fun!

Give them something special, only for attendees

A nice way of bonding with your audience is to give them something. Give away something that is for attendees only. Tell them not to give it away to anyone else. This could be a free subscription for example. Or a code to get a free coffee at Starbucks.

You giving them something will make them first like you, second feel they ‘owe’ you. And, they will feel part of a special group. Which bonds them. Again, this will make that they will remember you best.

Don’t give it all away: “Save” a story

Finally, one that fits perfect in a last talk of the day. If you are the closing speaker, don’t give it all away. Have one story ready you can tell after the session, during drinks.

Tell people you have one more story, but you are out of time. You want them to get to the drinks. Let them know that if they want to hear the story, they should come up to you during drinks.

If they like you and have enjoyed your presentation, they will come up to you afterwards. You will then have another ‘connection’ with them. They will remember you for not only your talk but for the conversation afterwards as well.

Conclusion: bond!

So that’s it. These are things you should and should not do when you are the closing speaker at a conference. To wrap it up:

Don’t

  • Emphasise the empty room
  • Say ‘between you and drinks’
  • Be boring

Do:

  • Start off with a bang
  • Keep it short and crisp
  • Give them something to talk about
  • Give them something special
  • Save a story

All these things come together in one thing: bonding. Try to bond with your audience. That way, after your talk, you will be the one they think about and talk to!


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8 Ways to Get a Connection with your Audience

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.

If you sign up right away on this page, use the discount code “ConnectionKII5BI” to get $10 off!


Misconceptions about Storytelling debated

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!

If you want to learn how, join our FREE webinar on the secrets of Storytelling! It has some of the best tips from our Storytelling Class in it.

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?


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Why you shouldn’t be rehearsing in front of a mirror

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.

Why do people use a mirror?

“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.

“It helps you see what you look like”

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.

“It helps with practicing eye contact”

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.

Why is practicing in front of the mirror wrong?

So why do I advice against it? There are several reasons you shouldn’t do this.

1. It’s not real!

A frog rehearsing in front of a mirror

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!

2. It’s a habit you need to change, not a moment

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.

3. The mirror will make you focus on gesture, not story

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.

4. Your mirror image might make you nervous

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.

What to do?

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:

Practice in front of an audience.

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.

Record yourself

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!


How to deal with scared prospects who are afraid to choose

When pitching, the prospects you are trying to sell to seem extra critical. It’s hard to persuade them. This is because they are scared of making the wrong choice.

People don’t like making choices. Because making choices mean you can make the wrong choice. And if you make the wrong choice, you will feel regret. Or even worse: you will lose status amongst your peers.

This is why at pitch presentations, the recipients seem extra critical. They are trying to avoid making the wrong choice rather than making the right choice.

You can make them feel at ease more by first acknowledging the fact that the choice they have to make is indeed hard and by telling them stories.


“Kinda Like Trump” – The Art of simple language

It turns out that when we talk on a lower grade level, more people will understand and love what we say. It’s part of the success of the speeches of Donald Trump.

If you’ve ever wondered why so many people believe every word Donald Trump says, the answer might be simpler than you think. A large part of the reasons lies in the way he talks.

During the 2016 election, research showed that Donald Trump was speaking on a 4th or 5th grade level. That means the level of an 8 year old. Why is that important? Because he kept it simple.

Whether or not he did this on purpose, we don’t know. But the results were great for him. By toning down his language, he was able to reach a much larger group of people. And more important: he was able to persuade them. To make them believe his words and his ideas.

As a speaker, we can learn from this. Because too often, speakers use language that is too difficult for their audience. We have all been guilty of using jargon in our talks. But using difficult language is likely to make your audience fade out. They will stop listening.

When speaking in public. Try to keep it simple. Use words people understand. And if you want or need to use jargon, explain it. You can do that using the ‘Kinda like’ theory.

This theory means you create an analogy. Are you talking about something difficult? Compare it to something everyday. Something everybody will understand: “It’s kind of like riding a bike: hard at first, but you’ll get it.”


The one thing that will improve all your talks

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.


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The power of convincing: “He is talking about me!”

Persuading or convincing people isn’t easy.

People don’t like to be wrong. And most people believe they are right. Tell them they aren’t, and you are the bad guy…

This means there is a really important thing you need to remember when you are on stage. Especially when you want to convince or persuade people. If you want to convince them about something that is your vision, you will need to make sure that you start off on the same side as those people.

There is one thing that people really want when you describe a problem or when you describe a situation. That is that they feel like you’re talking about them.

Their feeling should be: “Hey that’s me he’s talking about!”

As soon as people have the feeling that you are talking about them, about their situation, they will give you 100% attention.

And that is when they will feel that you understand them!

And when they feel you understand them, they will feel that whatever you have to say will help them. And therefore they will believe you!

As long as you can get that recognition element from your audience, you can convince them about anything you want.

In the video below, Bas van den Beld explains the importance of making people recognize themselves:


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How to be a good event moderator

Every event needs a good event moderator. Whether it is someone who assists the speakers and the audience throughout the day, or in a session. There are a few elements that make for a good moderator.

A good moderator will make the event run smooth. 

You could get asked to be a moderator yourself. I would suggest any speaker: accept that invitation, at least once. You will learn a lot from it. Not only from what the other speakers are talking about, but from the experience. You will be a better presenter afterward.

In this article, we will dive into what it takes to be a good event moderator. At the end of the article we have a free gift for those that are going to moderate an event soon!

Let’s start with the what and how to recognise a good event moderator.

What is an (event) moderator?

An event moderator is the master of ceremony of the event. He or she is there to make sure the speakers can do the best job and the audience gets the most out of the day or session. A moderator introduces speakers. He or she also makes sure the speakers stick to the time and the moderator asks and moderate questions. He or she is the connection between the different talks.

There are two types of moderators. There are those that are the ‘host’ for an entire day, the event moderator. They are for a large part responsible for the success of a conference. There are also panel- or session moderators. They are ‘only’ responsible for a specific session. Even though it is less work, it doesn’t make them less important. They can still make or break an event.

How to be a good event moderator

Unlike what some speakers think, being a good or even great moderator isn’t easy. If you do it right, it’s a lot of work. If you want to be a good moderator at a conference or to moderate a conference session, you need to do certain things well. You need to work on these moderation skills:

  • Be prepared
  • Research
  • Get in touch with the speakers
  • Make the speakers the center of attention
  • Ask the right questions
  • Pay attention
  • Be a host

Let’s dive in! What are the most important moderation skills you need?

Remember, at the end of this article, we have a gift for you!

Be prepared

First, you want to be ready. Don’t show up without any preparation. The simplest thing here is to know the agenda. It sounds obvious, but trust me, I’ve seen them. Moderators that didn’t even know what was going to happen.

You want to know who you are dealing with. Know the speakers (by name!) and know their topics.

Research

If you aren’t knowledgeable enough on the topic, research. Do some reading. There is a ton of content available on the web on the web on any topic. It should be easy to at least get a feel for the topic. You might also want to get in touch with others who do know more about the topic. Let them inform you.

If you do know about the topic, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research. But you want to make sure you don’t fall into the trap of knowing too much. Of taking over the presentations of the speakers.

You should research the topic on potential questions you can ask or the audience will ask. Go to Q&A websites like Quora and look on Social Media to figure out what people want to know about the topic.

Get in touch with the speakers

“Can we jump on a call to discuss your talk this Tuesday?” the moderator had e-mailed. He e-mailed all the speakers in the panel at once. As soon as I saw the e-mail, I knew this wasn’t going to end well. One by one the replies came. “I can’t do Tuesday, how about Wednesday?”, one speaker responded. Another couldn’t make it on Wednesday. The third speaker e-mailed that she wasn’t ready with the preparation of her talk yet.

In total, we ended up with a thread of about 20 e-mails. And no call.

Trying to get a call together with speakers usually won’t work. In a post on Entrepreneur, Rebecca Lieb, who has moderated tons of panels, says not to worry about a pre-call.

“Don’t break your neck getting your panelists on an advance call. It’s like herding cats. Instead, solicit input on the topic from people individually, and then send a bulletin to the entire group on the topics and questions you’ll cover.”

She’s right. It usually doesn’t work.

But you should get in touch with the speakers before the talk. But do it one at a time. First, ask them about their talk. What they want to discuss and what the most important outcomes of their talks are. Then summarise it all in one email to all the speakers. See if there is any overlap and suggest changes if needed.

Make the speakers the center of attention

As a moderator, you are not the center of attention. The speakers are. The best moderators know how to take a step back. To shut up when needed. Always be aware of the fact that you should keep what you say as short as possible. Summarise what the speakers said. Ask short questions and repeat the questions from the audience. That’s it.

It’s like I’ve said many times in my presentations when it comes to marketing: you are not the hero, you are Yoda. As a moderator, you help the speakers become the heroes.

As a good event moderator you are Yoda, not the hero
As a good event moderator, you are Yoda, not the hero

Ask the right questions

As an event moderator that knows the topic, there is the danger of asking questions that are too difficult. That could lead to a great conversation between you and a speaker. But it might also mean the audience doesn’t get it.

Do your research to find out what your audience is like. Test their knowledge level and have your questions be in line with that. Ask questions the audience would want to know, not what you want to know

Pay attention

Being an event moderator is hard work! You are the only one who knows for sure that you need to pay attention. You want to know what happens and you want to make sure you ask the right questions. For that, you need to pay attention. If you have seen the talks before, pay attention to the audience. If not, pay attention to the talk. You have to ask a question after!

Be a host

Finally. As a moderator, you are more than the person watching time. You are the person in charge of the session. That means the people in the room are your guests. And you want to make your guests happy. This is much like hospitality. The customer is king, so you treat him well. In this case, the audience is your customer.

That’s why you want to be the perfect host. Be attentive. Know who’s in front of you. And make sure they have a great time.

To conclude

Being a good event moderator isn’t easy. Even though many think they can ‘wing’ it, the good ones spend a lot of time preparing. But it’s worth it. In the end, the audience will go away with a lot more than if the moderator doesn’t do a good job.

To answer the question “how to be a good moderator at a conference”: you need to have the right moderation skills. But most important: you need to make it work.

A moderator is the glue that keeps it together. And remember: you are Yoda.

The Moderator Checklist

Because we know moderating is hard work, we’ve created a checklist for you. This checklist will help you to remember everything you need to do at an event. It’s the most complete checklist you will find on the web!
And for you,  we have a big discount, instead of the regular $20, you now get it for FREE!!!


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Create great stories using The Story Pyramid Template

If you are struggling to structure your story, use The Story Pyramid. It guides you through the story. And we have a template for it!

Storytelling. We all want to do it. It’s one of the most asked about topics in relation to marketing these days. Of course, it’s also a huge element of any presentation. It does wonders when you are speaking at a conference. And it’s a big asset when you are pitching or speaking in front of small groups.

But creating a good story isn’t all that easy. Not everyone has the storytelling skills and some don’t believe it works. There are a lot of elements that play an important role. In storytelling, having the right structure is crucial.

Storytelling skills are important to have for any speaker.

There are various ways to structure a story. They all have a beginning, middle, and end. But what structure is the best? One way to make sure you have the right structure is to use The Story Pyramid.

What is the Story Pyramid?

This method is often used for summarising. It also is useful as a tool to write, especially when it comes to business stories.

Why is it called a ‘pyramid’?

If you look at the storyline, it has a rhythm. You work up to a climax, followed by a falling point going towards the new situation. In the new situation, everything calms down. If you picture this, it looks like a pyramid.

How does it work?

The Story Pyramid shows the structure of your story in one view. The Pyramid has 8 steps in three categories. The main categories are the start, the middle and the end of the story. In each step, you write down the essence of that step.

The beginning

At the beginning of the story, you introduce the characters. You explain the situation they are in and what conflict they need to overcome.

The middle

In the middle part, you describe the ‘rising action’. This is what happens in the lead up to the climax.

The end

In the last part of the story, you describe the ‘falling point’. This is what happens after the climax and how your character takes action on the situation he or she is in. You then describe the resolution and you end with the new (successful) situation.

Once you have written down the essence, you can start writing the details of the story.

One overview

The Pyramid makes sure you have all the important elements embedded, in the right order. This way you are sure you have everything that makes a story interesting. In one overview, you show the storyline by writing down the key elements.

Step by step

The Pyramid has 8 steps divided into three categories. The main categories are the start, the middle and the end. In each step, you write down the essence of that step.

The eight steps are:

  • Introduction, in which you introduce the characters of the story;
  • Situation: you describe and explain the current situation the main characters are in;
  • Conflict, which describes the most important problems;
  • Rising Action, where you are working towards the climax;
  • The Climax shows how the hero handles the problems;
  • The Falling Point shows the action
  • In the Resolution, we see how the characters change their lives
  • In the New Situation, we see the new and improved situation.

The Template

To help you structure, we’ve created a template to use this method.

The Story Pyramid Template is a step by step approach to crafting your story. We guide you through the process.

What’s in the template?

In the template file you can find:

  • The Pyramid Timeline: a template to help structure
  • The Pyramid Details: a template to write out the details of your story
  • An explanation of how to use the template

This WILL be useful to you! Your storytelling skills will get better!

As a bonus: this method is not only great for using in your talks, you can use this method in your blogposts, in your social media and content marketing in general. You can even use it when writing a book or short story!

And if you need any guidance or help, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

You can download your FREE Story Pyramid Template below


4 Places to Find Great Royalty Free Images for Your Presentation

A great presentation has got as little text as possible. Bullets are ‘death by powerpoint’. So what most presenters do, is create slide decks with a lot of images. And they are right. After all, an image says more than a 1,000 words.

Images can tell a story on its own. But more important: images can support what a speaker is talking about. I would argue that images beat text on a slide deck every time.

When building the deck, you need to find the images that work best. There is a lot you need to think about, one of them being: where do I find the images?

Of course, there are a lot of stock photo websites, full of images you can use. But which ones are any good? And which have free stock photos? Because for most images on the web, you need to pay royalties. After all, the photographer needs to make a living as well!

There are many speakers out there that don’t have the budget to buy high-quality images from stock photo websites. They need to look for a cheaper alternative. Which is when often they turn to Google Images. Unfortunately, most images found through Google also have copyright restrictions. You can’t use most images.

Finding royalty free images for a presentation isn’t as simple as it sounds!

Four great resources to find images

Fortunately, there are some good websites that offer great stock images to use in your slide decks. You only need to know how to find them. Below I’ve listed a few that offer great material. I’ve used them often! These websites offer a library of free images, in the creative commons public domain. That means you can use the images for free and you are in the clear.

Pexels

First up is Pexels. Pexels.com is a search engine for “CC0 images”. This stands for “creative commons zero”. Meaning they are free. You can browse through the images as you go. Or choose one of the categories they picked for you, such as “holiday” or “water”. The best thing is the search engine which is prominent on the site. Type in a term and find related images. Be careful: they also show sponsored photos, these you do have to pay for!

Link: https://www.pexels.com/

Unsplash

Like all others, Unsplash shows a search bar on the front page. This will help you find the right images for your presentation. And when you do start searching, you will find some amazing images. They are some high-quality images there. Unsplash also offers some

Link: https://unsplash.com/

Freeimages

Like the others, Freeimages.com offers a huge number of images to use for your presentations. Freeimages is somewhat easier to work with because of the way they structured the site. It has collections (categories). It has a search bar, but it also offers insight into what others use with ‘popular photos’ and editor’s picks. On Freeimages you can also search for photos made with a specific camera. And you can even search through pre-fabricated lightboxes.

Link: http://www.freeimages.com/

Pixabay

One of my personal favourites is Pixabay.com. Pixabay does more than offer a set of great photos. It also has illustrations, vector graphics and even some videos. This makes it a resource where you will find what you are looking for. Another benefit is that you can search by filtering on size, orientation and even colour.

Link: https://pixabay.com/

How to find the right image you need

The key to using these sites is knowing how to search. You need to understand what you are looking for and describe that well. Otherwise, you will find the stock photo that everyone uses. Don’t use the first picture you see, but browse around. Find comparable images and see which one fits best.

Finally a pro-tip. Look at the name and description of the images you like. Then do a search that mirrors that text, which will make that you find related images.

There are many more websites that offer free photos you can use in your slide decks. You only need to look for the right ones. The three mentioned above to me are the ones that I use most. They never fail in finding me the right image.

Of course, finding the image is one thing. The most important thing is to understand what to look for in a picture you use in a presentation. Don’t take any picture. Think about it. Use one that ads value to the deck.


Small businesses should focus on storytelling!

As a small business, it’s hard to compete with brands. Storytelling is the solution!

  • You can’t win on price
  • You can’t win on marketing
  • You can’t win on advertising

You can win on a great story!

Watch the video:

When you are creating the story keep in mind…

Don’t talk about how great you are but:

  • Understand your audience
  • Understand where you come from
  • Understand where you add value

Create a story that resonates and you’ll be remembered forever!

More about storytelling you can find here.

The full transcript of the video:


Marcus Tandler about handling anxiety, rehearsing, Slidestorms and more!

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!

How Marcus didn’t believe Google would make it big

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:

Why Marcus uses 301 slides for 30 minutes on stage

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:

With Slidestorms you have to be sure

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:

How long it takes to prepare for a Slidestorm

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:

Marcus misses his own talks and uses a smiley face!

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:

Prepare your talk as if it’s a Hollywood script

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 your grandma can help you become a great speaker

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:

About Marcus Tandler:

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:

His personal website
Facebook
YouTube
Linkedin
Twitter: @mediadonis


Purna Virji (Bing): Speaker advise about Nerves, Structure and Preparation

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!

Learning from 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!

Preparing for a presentation

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.

Rehearsing for a talk

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.

Nerves

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.

Advice

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!


Measure yourself against… yourself

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.


I’ll get back to you on that, or maybe not…

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.

Transcript:

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.


That’s too much information!

When you are speaking in public, you might be inclined to share as much information as possible. That, however, might not be the best choice. People only remember three things.

Here’s the transcript of the video:

Hello! I hope you’re doing well and I hope, you are planning on doing a lot of speaking this year. Maybe you are already doing it!

One thing I wanted to talk to you about today is “how much you put in your presentation?” Because what I’ve learned: a lot of the times when I’m at a conference or listening to talks, is that so many speakers put too much information in their slides or in their presentations.

It’s a tendency which is explainable because a lot of speakers feel like they should give away as much information as possible as they can. However, when you do that, the chances are very high that your audience will “lose” you quite quickly.

There are only three things in general that people take away from a talk. Only three things that they will remember! And the longer the time is between your talk and when they are actually doing something with it, the less they will remember.

That’s why you need to really think about what you put in your presentation. And don’t put in too much.

Try aiming for three things that you want people to take away from your talk. And emphasise those three things. Explain those three topics. And give examples of it. But don’t try to give lists of 10 or even 20 or 15 or whatever kind of number of things you want people to take away. Because they won’t remember.

Focus on the three. Good luck!

Please subscribe to the videos on YouTube to get updated on all the videos that we send out. And do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter tips !


How to stop saying “Uhm” in your talk

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

Full transcript:

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.


How to get people to come up to you after your talk

There are speakers who draw great crowds. Not only during their session, but after as well. People come up to them, ask them questions, take pictures and often enough, become clients.

How do they do that? Of course, with a good presentation. But there is a way to get that attention as well. Here’s how…

Full Transcript:

Hey! How are you doing? Sometimes, when you’re preparing for a presentation, you will find that you have too much material. You just can’t put it all into your presentation and that
sometimes… It sucks, it’s not nice… But it might be something that you can use for your own benefit. Let me tell you why.

Sometimes you want people to come up to you after your talk. You want them to get engaged with you during the breaks. Now, the extra material that you can’t put into your presentation, might actually be something that can help you trigger to get people to come up to you after your talk.

Imagine that at the end of your talk you are almost done and you explain to the audience that you may have a lot more stories about a certain topic. You go like “oh I wish I could tell this now but we don’t have the time for that. But you know what, if you really want to hear the story come up to me afterward and I’ll tell you the story.”

Chances are people will come up to you to hear that last bit, that last story that you couldn’t tell in your presentation. So don’t just rule out the extra information the extra stuff that you have prepared. Use it for your own benefit. Use it after your talk.


5 items every speaker needs to bring to a conference or workshop

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.


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Get Out! Now!

When you are preparing for a talk, you need to get out. Burst your bubble to create a better talk.

Bas van den Beld explains in his weekly video!


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Let Your Images Support Your Story

Most speakers use images in their Powerpoint presentations. A lot of them look great, but it doesn’t end there. Many speakers talk ABOUT the image. But that’s wrong. The image supports your story. It’s not a story on its own.

Bas van den Beld explains.

Subscribe to our weekly tips below or on our subscribe page now!

Find more videos on our video channel


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Want to make a point? Ask your audience these 3 questions

I wrote about ways to connect with your audience before. One topic I didn’t address then was asking the audience questions. Sometimes speakers want to engage with the audience by asking them a question. Often, these are simple questions (“who in the room works for an agency?”).

Sometimes the questions are more complicated. These have a high-risk factor in them. The audience might not respond. And if they don’t, it leaves you with an awkward ‘silence’. Unfortunately, you can see this happen quite often.

To avoid this from happening, there is a different way to get the engagement of the audience, using questions.

What not to ask

Let me start by saying what you shouldn’t do when asking a question. The first thing is simple: don’t ask a rhetorical or vague question. Asking ‘Don’t you feel this is a bad idea?’ will only make your audience gaze at you. You’re more or less saying you don’t want an answer.

If you don’t want an answer, don’t ask a question!

Second, if you are not specific enough, the audience will not know what you want from them. Asking ‘what do you know about X, Y or Z’ will not get you many answers. A question like “what are common believes you’ve heard about topic X, Y or Z’, will get you more answers. Why? Because it’s more specific and less ‘personal’. People are not afraid to answer that one.

The answer: Ask a series of questions

Before asking any question, you need to realise why you are asking a question. Is it ‘only’ to connect? Or are you trying to make a point? Chances are, you want to make a point. That means you want people to interact with you on a specific question.

You can ask a series of questions, building up to the ‘big one’. Build towards the answer to the ‘big question’ by asking several smaller ones.

Let’s say you want to emphasize the importance of using the right icons on an app to an audience of marketers. The point you want to make is that if you build an app, you want to use icons that people recognise.

To get them involved, you want to draw upon common concepts that are familiar to the audience. This will help lead them to the answer you want. In this case, you want to make clear that when building an app, use icons that people will understand.

You can then show a group of icons on the screen and ask “which icon represents the call button?”

Most likely, the audience will be able to point that out, since they’ve all seen these icons before. The follow-up question would then be “how do you know that icon represents the call button?” Again the audience will know the answer. Chances are they will say “because it has a phone on it”. The third question then is the key question. “Why do you think they use a picture of a phone for this function?” The audience will answer “because people recognise it.”

You’ve now made your point. If you build an app, you want to use icons that people recognise.

Of course, this is a very simple example of a relatively easy concept (we all know this, right?). The concept stays the same on different topics. Draw upon what people know and build towards the desired response.


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Be on time and prepared

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:

Full transcript:

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!

Good luck!

This tip is part of our email series. Sign up for the tips below!


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Know the audience that is in the room

I’d like to talk to you about your audience. Many speakers don’t know much about who they have in the room.

I believe you should know a lot about them. Here’s why!


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The End of your Talk

One of the most important parts of your talk is the end of it. How you end your talk, decides on how people walk away from it. So you want it to be good.

Bas van den Beld explains in this video why and how to pay attention to the end of your talk.

This tip is part of our email series. Sign up for the tips below!


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Where to sit in a panel discussion

Almost every conference has them: panel discussions. In these sessions, they often bring more speakers on stage to discuss a topic. When they invite you to be part of one of these panels, you are in luck! The organisers see you as an expert!

In the early days, I never thought about where to sit in a panel discussion. I often chose a ‘safe’ spot, usually at the end of the row. That might not have been a smart choice in retrospect. Through experience and learning about psychology, I learned other places are better.

Which places you ask? That depends. On you. On the other members of the panel. And on what the panel is for.

What is your goal?

The first thing you want to ask yourself is: what is your goal for the panel? What do you want to get out of it? Are you looking for leads? Or are you trying to show your knowledge?

How do you want to be seen?

The second question you need to ask yourself is how you want to be seen? Do you want the be seen as the most knowledgeable member? The influencer? Or would you rather they see you as the humble person?

Who are the other panel discussion members?

You want to know who the other members in the panel are. You want to know who is most vocal. You want to know who is popular. And you want to know how well they know the moderator.

Where to sit

Depending on the answers on these questions, you determine where to sit:

The most vocal one: close to the moderator

Do you want to answer a lot of questions? Be the most vocal at the Q&A? In that case, you want to sit closest to the moderator. After all, the moderator is the one asking the questions. When she or he does that, the moderator will look at the panel. If you are the first one in sight, you will get more chance to talk.

Read more about how to be a good moderator

The most influential one: in the middle

When you want to be seen as the most influential person on the panel, you want to choose the middle seat. This has to do with psychology. People subconsciously feel the person in the middle is the most influential one. And it’s true. Just think about all the movies you’ve seen in the past. The popular girl in that high school movie always walks in the middle. The leader of the band? Front center. And the most important players in a football team always play in the middle as well.

Friend of the popular one: next to the vocal one!

And finally, do you feel you want to piggy-bag on the popularity of other panel discussion members? Do you feel somewhat insecure, but want to look good anyway?

In that case, go sit next to the most vocal member of the panel. People will see you when that person is talking. They will feel you are connected to that person. And chances are that the first one they will turn to after that vocal person, is you.

It’s about perception

In the end, it’s about what you want to ‘show’ about yourself on the panel discussion. It’s what people will think of you. By sitting in the right spot, you can steer that in the direction you want.

Take your pick: where do you sit?


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Why you need ‘relax slides’

Your slide deck is one of the most important attributes of your talk. That is if you use one of course. Most marketing speakers do. So you pay attention to your slides.

Sometimes I see slide decks filled with great content. Content that is overwhelming.

That is why I always suggest those speakers: build in ‘relax slides’.

This tip is part of our email series. Sign up for the tips below!


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The power of a smile in presentations

Never underestimate the power of a smile in a presentation. It can do wonders for how your audience feels.

Did you know for example that smiling makes people more comfortable with you as a speaker? Your facial expressions are extremely important. The way you look says a lot about how you feel and about your message. At the same time, you don’t want to be smiling through a very serious story. Your facial expressions should be in line with the story.

Bas van den Beld explains.

Full transcript:

There’s a smile! When you smile you appear to be more likable. More competent. That’s what you want, right? Because you want to persuade people.

You will also see that your audience will start smiling with you. They will mimic you. Research at the university showed that it’s very difficult to frown if you look at someone who smiles.

Smiling is contagious. A smile affects things and it lives around us. And when you and your audience are both smiling, you will both feel good. Resulting in a better and more persuasive talk.


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How to Create a Compelling Story

We’re giving you 25 minutes of tips! On Storytelling this time. This is the presentation I (Bas) have done at the Benchmark Conference in Manchester in September. The talk was recorded by Omi Sodi. Enjoy!

Find the slides of that presentation here:

 

Learn how to do storytelling yourself by joining our Storytelling Class!


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Tips from a conference organiser on speaking: Craig Rayner

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.


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The importance of timing in public speaking

When speaking in public, it is very important to have the right timing. This doesn’t just mean, stay within the time of the presentation. It also means saying the right things at the right time and the right speed.

In this video, we look at timing.

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.


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The power of storytelling

These days you hear a lot about storytelling as a marketing strategy. Many marketers, therefore, believe they should ‘do storytelling’ as well. Whenever you do something, you want to know they ‘why’ (as Simon Sinek told us).

So, you might wonder why storytelling is such a powerful tool. What makes storytelling worth it? Do you invest time in it? And in what way? It’s important to know why it is powerful to be able to do storytelling right.

In this article, I’d like to dive into those questions. We will look into the power of storytelling.

We can’t resist a (good) story

The number one reason why storytelling is such a powerful tool has to do with the recipients’ mind. The minds of those that hear the story. As recipients, we can’t resist a good story. Stories are deeply wired into our minds.

It’s been like that for centuries. Humans have been telling each other stories forever. Even in the stone age, people used stories to send messages to other people and help and teach them. Cave paintings are a great example of that. They tell a story that has to help the next person that passes that cave.

We are basically raised to learn from stories. Have you ever thought about why you can still remember most of the fairy tales your parents told you?

As soon as we hear the words ‘once upon a time’, our brains are ‘in’. From that point on, we can’t resist. We have to hear what happened. It’s in our DNA and, of course, we are trained to listen and interpret stories. All the stories our parents told us when we were kids, made us crave for more.

We don’t only love stories, stories helped shape our minds. That’s why most fairy tales have lessons in them. Stories go directly into our brains. That means the best ways to give children messages, is through stories. The message behind the story of Cinderella is to not take food from strangers. The message behind the three little piglets is to not be lazy. And so do all fairy tales have a message.

Imagination gets us involved

When we listen to stories, we need imagination. In our brains, we picture what we hear. Good stories are crafted in a way that, when they are told, we can ‘see’ them. The stories come alive in our brains. We picture the lead characters, we ‘create’ the environment. This makes us part of the story. Imagination makes co-creators of the story. And since we are part of the creation, we remember better and feel more ‘close’ to a story.

With imagination also come emotions. It brings the same emotions shared by the characters in the story. When we imagine things, they almost become real. What you hear comes alive in your brain. And when it feels real, it has more impact. It will be easier to remember more. You will also, and especially, remember the feeling the story. If the feeling is good, it will make you happy.

In marketing, this means that when we are part of a story, we are closer to a product or brand. And when we are closer, we buy easier.

A story benefits the storyteller as well

For listeners, stories give joy and structure to a story. But storytellers also get a lot of benefit from telling a story. They have the chance to send a message and have that message resonate. Besides that, it makes the storyteller important.

You can say stories bring status to storytellers and actionable insights to the good listeners. It’s good for everyone!

Where is storytelling useful?

Powerful stories can be used everywhere. Whether it is for teaching children, marketing or other purposes. You can see the power of stories in presentations from politicians, tv, music videos, movies and books. Even commercials are stories.

As marketers, we can use stories in many different settings. We can use it when we are pitching. We can use it in a presentation, or as marketing material.

To create a connection, personal stories work best. But don’t overdo it. Important is to realise there has to be a message in it. Stories which show a struggle and are authentic are the best.

As you can see, the power of storytelling is big!

How to create that story?

There are many ways for crafting a story. But it is important to realise that building a story needs close attention. It’s easy to create the wrong story. A lot is also in the execution. How the story is told, determines a lot of how it is received.

To learn how to craft that perfect story, the one that everyone loves, the one that has real impact, next to the email course, we created a Storytelling Class. Sign up now!


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The why of the TED Circle

Have you ever wondered why speakers at the TED Conferences are standing in a circle? It’s about more than just the design. It’s helpful as well. And we can learn from it!

Find below the transcript of the video:

When I started speaking at conferences, I didn’t feel comfortable standing behind a desk. Some events have a desk on stage. I felt off I couldn’t really no-show what I had to show and I couldn’t really be myself.

Other people do like to desk because it makes them feel more secure. Everybody feels comfortable in a different way, in different settings. What’s important though, is that you don’t take it to extremes.

When I did get on stage that gave me more space, for example, I started moving around because it felt right. One day I showed a recording of one of my talks, which was on YouTube, to my dad. My dad emailed me back when he had seen the video on YouTube.

He said: “well I love the way you talk, but maybe you should walk around a little bit less. It’s not like you’re performing in a tennis match tennis match.”

I looked at the video again and I saw my dad was right. I was pacing too much. Moving from left to right and back. Trying to be in touch with everyone in the audience. But because I move so much, it was distracting. From that point on I started moving less. But I still moved around and I still do.

When I learned about the TED circle, I understood what I needed to do properly. The TED circle you see when speakers are speaking at the TED conference. What you will see is that there often is on stage a circle. A red circle which is also part of the logo of TED. But one thing that I never realized up until that point, is that that it also has a functional purpose. Which is that people are not allowed out of that circle. The speaker has to stay within the circle.

From that point on, I created virtual circles on stage. How can I move around but within a specific circle, not outside. When it’s a really big stage, I might create one or two or three circles. On different places on the stage. But I won’t move around too much. And the TED circle is one of the reasons of that.

And trust me…it works!


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Starting with Public Speaking? David Iwanow has some tips!

Public Speaking isn’t easy. And when you are starting out, you need some tips. Lucky for you, every now and then, we talk to experienced speakers. And then we ask them their tips for you!

One of these speakers is David Iwanow. In this video, shot at the Searchelite conference, David discusses preparation, what to do and not to do and gives a step-by-step approach on how he prepares.

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!


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Where do nerves come from?

Category : nerves

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.


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Talk review: Renny Gleeson: 404, the story of a page not found

As a public speaker, it is good to look at how the great ones are doing it. You can learn how they move. Learn how they craft their story. Learn how they inspire their audience. Here you can learn from Renny Gleeson.

Renny Gleeson: 404, the story of a page not found

This talk is from 2012. That might seem old., but it’s on a topic a lot of marketers will understand. Especially those in SEO: the 404 page. In this talk, Renny Gleeson discusses the 404 page and how it’s ‘history’ changed.

Watch the entire talk (only 4 minutes) here:

There are a few things I’d like to highlight about this talk.

The message

The topic of a 404-page may seem empty. And the “solution” he shows is quite simple. So what makes this talk ‘special’? It’s the message behind the talk. The message that only comes at the end of the talk: opportunities. You can handle a 404 page in two ways: as a mistake or as an opportunity. Gleeson goes for the latter.

The structure

Gleeson sets a very clear structure for his presentation. Even though it’s only four minutes long. He sets the problem. He makes sure people ‘feel’ the problem. He explains the problem. And he shows the solution. It’s a story on its own.

The body language

Gleeson is calm and controlled in his talk, which comforts the audience. At the same time, he can be very visual. When he explains the ‘404-feeling’ (around the 2-minute mark), he shows the feeling, which is very good. He uses his hands to explain what he is talking about.

The one thing that does annoy a little, is that he looks back at the screen several times. A bit too much to be honest.

The humor

In his talk, Gleeson explains the problem of the 404 with a lot of humor. He uses analogies, connects the 4xx errors to sex and shows timing when he reacts to a video he shows. Having humor is of high importance in a talk. But you shouldn’t overdo it. Gleeson is on the edge here of trying to be too funny, but he just stays away from being annoying.

How did he do?

Even though I liked the talk, I don’t think Gleeson delivered a perfect talk here (if there is such a thing). As mentioned above, the danger of trying to be too funny is there. One or two jokes or analogies he could have left out. And he looks behind him at the screen quite often, which is a bad idea when it comes to body language. But in the end, the talk works. I would say because of the powerful message in the end.

Your talk

If you want, we can review your talk as well (not for publishing 😉 ). Want to have your talk reviewed? You can! It’s one of the options in the personal speaker plan. We have more examples of great speakers in our email series!


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Two words to avoid when pitching (and training, and presenting)

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

Which ones? Bas van den Beld tells you in this video.

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.


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Why Research and Storytelling are Important in Public Speaking, from the expert Jono Alderson

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!


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Preparing for a presentation: Tip from the expert Sam Noble

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!


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The Ultimate Storytelling Guide

People can’t resist a story. So brands try to do storytelling. Often enough, they fail. Because stating facts isn’t a story. Maybe this Storytelling guide can help!

(see more about Storytelling here)

via

(see more about Storytelling here)


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Surprising mistakes most speakers don’t know they make

Many speakers have some ‘tricks up their sleeve’. Things that will help them be more memorable, or look more professional. Some of these tactics (because that is what they are) are well known. Taking the selfie with the audience. Getting interaction by asking questions, you name it. Yet some tactics might actually backfire.

Without the speaker realising what went wrong.

Sometimes in the effort of being memorable, entertaining or helpful, speakers make mistakes. Mistakes that they aren’t aware off. But mistakes that can have a devastating effect.

If you are a speaker, be aware of the following tactics and how they could backfire.

“Engaging” the audience, or are you scaring them?

It’s what every speaker wants: an engaged audience. They are focusing and connecting with you. Some speakers will go ‘all out’ trying to engage the audience. “Get them involved”.

A popular thing to do amongst speakers is letting the audience ‘take part’. This can vary. From asking people to physically take part to asking the audience questions. Even getting them on stage sometimes.

Just look at how this sales speaker gets the audience to sing a song:

Now, this looks like fun (for some). But there is something speakers often don’t realise. ‘Engagement’ doesn’t always mean it’s the audience, that has to do something.

Sometimes it’s the speaker who gets close to the audience. I saw Avinash Kaushik do a great job with this at SMXL Milan.

There is a big danger, though. For many people in the audience, it can be frighting when this happens. They might freeze. With as a result that in some cases, it stays awkwardly quiet when the audience is asked to join in…

One thing you have to know about people: most of us don’t like to stand out. With the known exceptions, people in a group tend to respond as the group does. We follow the group. If the group stays quiet, so do we.

This means that getting the audience involved might sometimes not be such a good idea. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. It does mean that you have to think about what it is that you are doing. “Read” the audience.

Know your audience before you speak. And when you do decide to get them involved: make it easy for them. Don’t ask open questions, asked closed ones. So they don’t have to step outside of their comfort zone.

[Tweet “Know your audience when you speak, and make it easy for them to participate, not difficult – @basvandenbeld”]

Giving away your slides before you start

Most of the speakers in the Digital industry love SlideShare. I love it as well. It’s a great resource to have. And at the same time, it’s a great content marketing tool. Putting your slides on SlideShare will help you spread your message. It is also great for your branding. Plus, it helps your audience remember you.

So yes, do put your slides on SlideShare. Just don’t make the mistake of sharing it too soon.

Many speakers upload their presentations to SlideShare before they actually start talking. At the start of their talk, they then tell this to the audience. They also tell them not to bother taking notes or pictures. Because after all, the slides will be available afterward anyway.

If you do this, you are doing something wrong you might not realise. And it has nothing to do with you, but all with your audience.

Everyone is the same when it comes to remembering things. We all need concentration or focus: we need to pay attention to remember things. It’s how our minds work. If we don’t pay attention, we won’t remember.

So what does this have to do with putting things on SlideShare you might ask? Let me explain this a bit more.

As soon as you are telling your audience they will get the slides, you give their brain the signal to relax. And to stop focusing on what you have to say.

They don’t have to take notes or pictures, so they sit back and relax and listen to your presentation. That sounds great but isn’t. Because when they do, they won’t remember as much from your presentation as you might hope they would. They can’t help that, it’s how the brain works. And you just told their brains it’s ok, not to remember your words.

[Tweet “As soon as you are telling your audience they will get the slides, you give their brain the signal to stop focusing – @basvandenbeld”]

And what happens when people remember less of your talk? They will be less inclined to follow up. They are less likely to remember you when the topic comes up. And they will share less to their peers about your presentation.

Don’t fall into this trap. Tell them about SlideShare after your talk, but not before. Keep the focus and attention on you. And share at the end of your talk.

“If we don’t pay attention, we won’t remember. Don’t give away the attention with giving away slides too soon” – @basvandenbeld

A ‘bit’ of bragging

It’s human nature to want to show those you are going to talk to you exist. Proof that you are the ‘cool one’. So what do many speakers do? They turn to bragging. Showing off a little to gain some authority never killed anyone right?

Wrong…

Well, it’s wrong when you turn to the type of bragging I’ve seen many speakers do in the past few years. They brag about going out the night before with the other speakers. About drinking a lot and having a hangover. Or they brag about just finishing the slide deck last minute.

Somehow some speakers think it’s cool to act like you don’t care.

But what you are saying is you don’t care about your audience. You don’t care about them traveling to a city, sometimes 1,000s of miles away from home. You don’t care about them spending hundreds of dollars or pounds on the ticket for the conference. You are saying you don’t care about the conference. You only show you care about getting pissed with speaker friends. And hey, since you are there, why not do a speech.

Is that the message you want to send out? I don’t think it is. But when you are talking about these things, that’s exactly what you are doing.

Stop pretending like the audience and the conference doesn’t matter. It’s them you are there for in the first place. It’s great to hang out with friends, but that is the bonus. Not the talk you


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Asking my audience to help me understand them better

“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.

Why do you want the audience connection?

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

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.

So I asked the audience for their notes.

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.

What I learned

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:

  • The audience understood my message. The message was that we need to make a bigger effort to try and understand our audiences.
  • People understood the different groups you need to split up your audiences in.
  • People like tricks.
  • Stories ‘stick’, I have to make sure the message is clear;
  • The quotes I put on the screen come back in the notes;
  • People on average will take away 3-5 things. Don’t put more in;
  • The competitor’s data part in the presentation didn’t show up in the notes;
  • The audience ignored Social Media platforms like FB-groups, G+ and Linkedin in 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.


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