Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome


Welcome to bruce's blog!

My first entry is connected to the importance of having good presentations skills, especially when representing yourself and your business.

Last night my wife and I attended a one-hour workshop on blogging hosted by the non-profit organization, The American Craft Council in NYC. Amy Shaw & Rena Tom were there to present, "Blogging the Handmade: Creating Community, Conversation & Commerce." Both Amy and Rena run their own businesses Greenjeans and Rare Device were enthusiastic about the crafts industry, their businesses and blogging. I came to learn what I could about blogging, as I have just started using this medium. Amy and Rena’s presentation started out with promise, as they appeared warm and friendly and eager to share their experience and knowledge of blogs using a laptop and a PowerPoint presentation. Both of these small business owners and bloggers have a lot to offer and are successful in their own right.

I have been teaching presentation skills to both groups and individuals for many years and one of the first things we discuss, is to know your audience. Amy and Rena conducted an on the spot audience analysis by asking for a show of hands who runs their own blog, you reads blogs and who comments on blogs. With this information they could tailor their talk. Another component of creating successful and inspiring presentations is to have a main message. The main message is different from the topic. After listening to Amy and Rena's presentation for about ten minutes I wasn’t sure what their message to the audience was. They spent a lot of time sharing screen shots of theirs and others’ blogs none of which, we the audience could see, as the slides were to small. Also, it's important to have a strong opening line to get your audience's attention. Their opening consisted of the usual welcome’ and ‘we’re glad to be here etc. None of which made me sit up in my chair. Both presenters sat on a tabletop with the laptop between them with the lid facing down, so that they had to turn completely around to look at and read the slides. The result of this was not only could we not see their faces we couldn’t hear what they were saying.

55% of the way we communicate is through our body language, so when you sit on furniture it tells your audience several things: (1) you feel relaxed enough to sit instead of stand, although this was a professional environment; (2) you're not invested enough in your presentation nor your audience; (3) you are not confident. It also affects your energy levels, which will quickly sink.

Voice accounts for 38% of the way we communicate. Voice includes pitch and tone and when you speak, as I like to say in one color your audience’s ears very quickly close . When asked to speak up when reading a document Rena shifted her weight and continued to speak in a low and monotone voice. Amy had a perky voice but used just one tone, which became tiring after 20 minutes or so.

The words we use account for just 7% of the way we communicate and are important only for the information that you want us to walk away with. As I am constantly telling my clients and myself when I lead Standing Ovations Presentations (copyright 2006) at KATLIN CONSULTING to watch their filler words such as, "like", "um", "you know", "sort of.” I counted fifty “ums” in the first twenty minutes from just one speaker! All of these filler words grain the brain of the audience and are used as a pause because the presenter does know their presentation backwards and forwards. Around this time the energy in the audience sank and I was surprised that the presenters did not realize this and did not shift from their position on the table to standing and facing the audience. Unfortunately, I was actually looking at my watch several times to see how close we were to getting out of there.

I wanted, as most audiences do for these presenters to sweep me off my feet and inspire me to change or do something different. Their presentation actually affected my desire to decide if I would want to purchase anything from their stores or not. My thought was, “If, they’re not interested enough in taking the time to deliver a concise, professional and inspiring presentation, I’m not so interested in checking out their in-store and online merchandise.” That’s a shame because if I was thinking this others probably were too. I like to give people three chances. Maybe they were rushed or had other comments so they couldn’t put as mush time into the presentation as they would have liked. Maybe they were not feeling well. I really wanted these women to shine. I was rooting for them but by the time the presentation was finished I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Of course, I did get something out of it, I'm writing this blog.

If, you would like presentation tips or further information on presentation coaching or the Standing Ovations Presentations (copyright 2006) course for your organization, please contact me: bruce@katlinconsulting.com
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