presentation skills trainer

Great Ideas for Communication

Great Ideas for Communication

presentation skills trainerLaurie Brown

Laurie Brown has over two decades of experience as a trainer, coach and speaker, helping her audience improve their leadership, presentation, sales and customer service skills. 
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How to Wreck Your Credibility in Three Simple Steps

wreck your credibilityAs a SME (subject matter expert), you have spent a great deal of time creating content that will effectively express your ideas and address the interests of your audience. You begin presenting to your clients, peers, or boss, yet, despite your knowledge and preparation, you inadvertently undermine your ability to appear credible.

It’s frustrating and just seems unfair. You created a great presentation and yet your audience didn’t take you seriously. Why? We can lose our credibility when we fall into bad habits and make any of three common mistakes.

 These mistakes fall into three fundamental communication channels: visual, vocal and verbal. Let’s take a look at these mistakes and learn how to prevent them.

Problem 1 (Visual): Making yourself appear small.

Too many presenters undermine their credibility by standing in a way that diminishes their physical presence. This can happen when standing with your legs crossed, your feet too close together, placing your hands in your pockets, or drawing your shoulders together by clasping your hands in front of you.

Solution: Adopting a Neutral Stance.

The neutral stance is a great non-verbal way to gain credibility. To achieve a neutral stance you start by placing your feet apart with your toes pointing forward. The distance between your feet should be equivalent to one of your feet placed sideways. Make sure your weight is evenly distributed over both of your feet. Your hands should rest comfortably by your side. Now imagine that there is a string coming out of the top of your head that lifts your whole body. People often “grow” an extra inch by using this visualization technique. This change in posture exudes confidence and credibility.

Problem 2 (Verbal): Speaking with Uptalk (Raising your voice at the end of a sentence.)

Uptalk has become very common these days. I hear it all from my participants all the time. You know the sound. While bobbing their head, the speaker uses an upward inflection on the last word of a sentence, sounding like they are asking a question. When declarative statements sound more like a question, or at worst, a valley girl, you no longer seem confident or knowledgeable. Speaking this way when trying to persuade an audience, most certainly damages your credibility.

Solution: Talk like a newscaster

Newscasters never use uptalk. Imagine you are a newscaster, keeping your head still as you say “In the news tonight”. When you say the word “Tonight” drop your chin slightly. When you drop your chin (but not too far), you’ll lower your intonation and will instantly sound credible.

Problem 3 (Verbal): Using filler words, um, ah, like and so.

Saying “ums” and “ahs” is perfectly normal. Every culture has their own way of verbalizing thought and using filler words. For example, in Japan you may say “ma” or “so”; in Finland you may say “niinku”. Whatever language you speak, you need to eliminate or reduce these filler words. When you use filler words you sound unsure of yourself. When you sound unsure you lose credibility.

Solution 3: Pause

The solution is simple: pause. The challenge is that we are often unaware we are saying “um”, “like” or “ah”. When I coach people I listen carefully, and when I hear a filler word I make the sound of an obnoxious loud buzzer. The presenter will try to avoid hearing that darn buzzer, and as they become more self aware, they will remember to pause. To duplicate this ask a friend or family member to listen and make a sound when you use a filler word (ask them to create a really obnoxious loud sound…laughter is always helpful.)

Another option is to inhale at the end of a sentence. Inhaling will prevent the filler word sound from coming out.

Self-awareness is always the first step in improving. Have someone record you speaking. Watch the recording and look for these three issues. If you see any of them, use the simple solutions outlined above.

It really is easy to gain credibility using these visual/vocal/verbal techniques. Start today. Let me know if you know any other great techniques to increase credibility.

Want more ways to improve your presentation skills?

I invite you to chat with me. Our call will provide insights and actionable steps that can help you be a better, more confident presenter. Sounds good? Please go to Calendly.com/lauriebrown and choose a time that works best for you.

Write me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me at 1.248.761.7510  to inquire about my one-to-one coaching and presentation skills workshops for groups.

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The Four Biggest Mistakes that Even Professional Speakers Make

Laurie Brown Communications

Learning from the best is always a good idea, especially when it means learning from their mistakes. Even professionals sometimes make these four common mistakes—but they all can be easily overcome.

Problem: Using the confidence monitors as a TelePrompter

Most conferences use something called a confidence monitor. A confidence monitor is placed downstage (close to the audience) and is usually used to display the current slide and sometimes the next slide. It’s a great tool to help you make sure that you’re speaking about what is currently on the screen. Another advantage of using a monitor is that you don’t have to turn around to look at the screen and lose eye contact with your audience.

Sounds good doesn’t it? It is, UNLESS you use it improperly. I’ve seen too many speakers read off the monitor on the floor, using it as if it were a teleprompter.  The problem with this is that it hurts the speaker’s credibility in three ways:

1. Reading from the screen causes the speaker to lose eye contact with their audience.

2. Reading also tends to make the speakers voice go flat.

3. Reading content may look like the speaker doesn’t have a good grasp of their subject matter.

Solution: Get a real Teleprompter. TelePrompters work by keeping your eye level with the audience. It does take training to get good at it, but it is the right tool for the job.

If you know your content very well, the other solution is to cover the monitors. Too often monitors become a distraction, forcing the speaker to look at them even when they know their content inside and out.

Problem: Saying “this is a true story”

Recently, I heard a very dynamic speaker share some amazing stories. The audience was rapt. Even though these were great stories, there was a problem in how they were told. Every time he said “This is a true story” before sharing the story, he took us out of the moment. It even led us to question other stories that he told, “if this one was true, what about the others?”

Solution: Just tell your story. No need to say, “this is a true story”, or even, “I want to tell you a story.” We just want to hear the story.

Problem: Memorizing your speech

As a former actor I had to memorize long scripts. As an actor, memorization is crucial. Ironically, when you are a speaker, memorization can actually hurt you. I was watching a world-class speaker who had a limited time to present. He was an expert, but because he had to keep to a time limit, he decided to memorize his script. All went well until he forgot one word out of his memorized speech. This threw him off and he had to start over at the beginning. This happened a number of times during his short speech.

Solution: Just memorize concepts or key words and use them to speak extemporaneously. This will allow you to be more in the moment and appear more confident to your audience.

Problem: Going over your allotted time

When making a presentation, nothing is more disrespectful than going over your allotted time. Unfortunately, I’ve had to shorten my speech because the person before me couldn’t keep within their allotted time. Even when you are in a groove and your audience loves what you are saying, you need to respect the audiences’ time and be mindful of the next speakers allotted time. This is one of those situations where you‘ll need to be able to shorten you presentation. Sometimes, you may even  find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to lengthen the time.

Solution: Once you know how to shorten or lengthen the time of your speech, keeping to your time is easy.

The first thing you’ll need to do is say your presentation out loud and time it. This will give you a baseline to work from. Timing can be a bit tricky because when you are presenting live you may be slower or faster than you are just reading it out loud.

Make sure you have determined a few places where you can cut or add content. Think about what is and isn’t essential, and where you can add color commentary if you need to fill more time.

Simply avoiding these top four mistakes will improve your next presentation. Tell me about any other issues you’ve observed or experienced.

Want more ways to improve your presentation skills?Contact Laurie at #This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit her website to inquire about her one-to-one coaching and presentation skills workshops for groups.

 
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