A Good Use of PowerPoint

Readers of this blog will know I’m not a big fan of slideware for speakers. This position is so heretical for most of the business world that I often end up working with executives to simplify and otherwise improve their slides because they can’t live without at least something on the screen behind them. You can’t win ‘em all. Now, honesty demands that I confess that I’ve run across a new study… Read More

The Dirty Secret of Public Speaking – and What to Do About It

One of the dirty secrets of public speaking is that audiences don’t remember much of what you say. I’ve seen a range of studies over the years showing retention of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of what an audience hears. Many, many efforts have been made to increase that percentage. Microsoft funded some studies hoping to find out that the judicious use of PowerPoint increased retention. It didn’t. Multi-tasking reduces retention,… Read More

Why Do We Make Audiences Sit in the Dark?

Why turn down the lights? What follows is a rant. If you’re not in the mood, skip this post. You’re standing in the wings. You’re a speaker about to speak to an audience of 1,000 souls at a conference with all the bells and whistles that technology and a good staging company can provide: IMAG screens, lavalier mike, towering sound, theatrical lighting, you name it. You’ve even got stage makeup on. You’re… Read More

5 Essential, OBVIOUS, Basic Public Speaking Tips

Here are 5 essential public speaking tips that are so obvious you should be embarrassed if you’re not doing them already. 1.  Make eye contact.  That means picking individual members of the audience, talking to them just like you’re having a conversation, with the eye contact that naturally goes with that.  DON’T look over the audience’s heads. 2.  Know your audience.  That means understanding their issues, their concerns, their hopes and their… Read More

5 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Speakers

Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back from a little skiing, a little overeating, and a little doing nothing. The perfect holiday break, in short. Every year I publish a list of New Year’s Resolutions for speakers in an effort to get us all thinking early about how we can improve our presentations in the coming months. This year I’m focusing on storytelling. 1. I resolve to find the story in the data…. Read More

10 steps you can take right now to improve your presentations

Improving your presentation skills can be hard work. Changing behavior takes time. But there are some easy things you can do right now that will make a concrete difference in your presentation success rate. Some are physical, some are about a change in attitude. But they’re all practical, simple, and immediate. Get started now! 1. Lose the PowerPoint When you put up PowerPoint slides you ask the audience to look at 2… Read More

Bad Rules Never Seem to Die: the 5 Worst Ideas in Public Speaking

I first published this blog post 3 years ago, and I’m sorry to say I still see people following these 5 (bad) rules all the time.  Let’s stamp them out now!  With thanks to Susan Trivers who reminded me of it.    1.  “Tell ‘em what you’re going to say, say it, and tell ‘em what you said.”  This old chestnut is still widely believed.  It comes from WWII, when the Army… Read More

Are you a visual learner?

One of the clichés I hear all the time in defense of slides, or in support of adding something visual to a presentation, is the claim that “I’m a visual learner.”  Back in the last century, a bit of pop science proclaimed that there are visual, aural, and kinesthetic learners, and each needed to be catered to.  In other words, teachers, speakers, and any one else who tries to communicate should speak… Read More

So What’s the Right Way to Use PowerPoint?

Readers of this blog will know that I often take on PowerPoint (and its cousins) as detrimental to speech giving.  It’s probably time for a corrective blog, especially after my “Imagine there’s no PowerPoint” spoof of last week.  Let’s be clear.  Slides, done right, can greatly strengthen a presentation.  So what’s the right way to use PowerPoint and the other slide software programs?  Think of musicals.  A character breaks into song when… Read More

Imagine There’s No PowerPoint

Imagine there's no PowerPointIt's easy if you tryNo screens before usNo piles of printed slidesImagine all the people focusing on you Imagine there's no clip artIt isn't hard to doNothing clichéd or stupidNo dumb cartoonsImagine all the people focusing on you You, you may sayI'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only oneI hope some day you'll join usAnd conferences will be more fun Imagine no bulletsI wonder if you couldNo dissolves… Read More