Oftentimes, we may think the bigger the opportunity, the greater possibility for mistakes to happen. Speaking in front of a group of 20 or even 200 can feel comfortable and completely natural, but what do you do when that audience increases 10-, 20-, or 50-fold? Do your nerves reciprocate? Are the challenges now insurmountable? Not so.
Granted, a different approach is necessary for larger audiences for your message to effectively reach everyone; however, with these four considerations, you will be able to master your message and deliver it with distinction regardless of the multitude of listeners before you.
Does this sound like you?
"I have so much information to cover until I don't know where to start, what to do, or how to do it!"
"My presentations are pretty good, but I want them to be great! I need a systematic plan so I'm not just going through the motions, muddling through."
"What will make a difference with my audience?! What will draw them in, and - and most importantly!!! - what will get everyone to buy what I'm selling?!"
What you must know is it is entirely possible to make your presentation an enjoyable and worthwhile experience for both you and your audience without it being more work for yourself.
Here are the four steps you take to smoothly make your way through preparing for your presentations with grace, determination, excitement, passion, and enthusiasm. Make this a consistent practice - resolve this is what you will do every time you prepare a presentation - and you will joyfully break free of the presentation preparation nightmare and cut your prep work by 50%.
Adequate communication skills are necessary for any successful business owner, but knowing what steps you can take to improve is often difficult and challenging.
In this blog post, we’ve compiled three simple practices that can make a significant difference in your day-to-day communications. Whether you use them while writing e-mails or put them to work during your next quarterly presentation, focusing on these three practices will help you communicate more clearly in the future.
Most people have quirks when they present. And I'm sure, although I have put forth great effort to be aware of quirks and eliminate them, I have one, or two, or three, or ...
As a matter of fact, I recall several years back I collaborated with a friend and colleague to facilitate a workshop in the Denver area, and his use of the phrase "what-not" apparently catches my attention because I did not realize it until after the workshop and while reading one participant's feedback on her survey that I had picked up on his use of that phrase and had incorporated it into the last two sessions I presented at the workshop! She had actually sat and counted the number of times I had used it! *gasp* (And to be honest, I recalled, while I was presenting, seeing this particular person in the audience snickering at times that were obviously out of context. It was all starting to come together ... LOL!)
But ... OMG! I could not believe it! In retrospect, I had caught the "what-not" bug and was using the phrase like crazy! I had never done that before! (At least I do not recall doing so!) My colleague's use of it subconsciously caused me to use it!
This is what happened: We converge with interlocutors that we like or that we want to like us. This colleague who is also a friend and is one with whom I have a great professional relationship, so based on this phonetic and social selectivity, it was natural I would pick up on one of his catch phrases and use it myself or that I would ... converge with an interlocutor!
As I thought about the workshop and this participant's feedback, I could not help but to wonder (and worry!) if her focus on counting my "what-not's" interfered with her actual learning. I wondered if my temporary presentation misstep consumed her and subsequently caused her to lose an opportunity to learn. What had I done?!
The greatest goal of any presentation is to ensure learning takes place and that participants take action based on what they learn, so I got to thinking ... What plans can I put in place beforehand to provide my audiences with the most awesome learning experience possible? I came up with three ideas.
A number of BMcHAWK TALKS blog posts have encouraged you to get audience members/students/learners engaged as soon as possible. I have been shouting from the front of rooms and computer screens to anyone who will listen, "Move them from passive to active audience members fast!
And a few brave colleagues have asked "Uh ... so ... Bridgett, how do you do that?" I should have seen that one coming, right?
Here are some of my favorite ways to get the audience involved so it's not a chalk-and-talk or a sit-and-get session. They require virtually no preparation, and you can easily and expertly insert them into any presentation or class session at any time when you
1. need everyone to truly think about and process what you said;
2. sense a lull; or
3. know you have been talking too much and it's time for everyone to hear another voice.
And with each technique, I provide you with additional ways to adjust and take the technique up a notch. Enjoy!
The first three secrets simply were not enough, right? I am sharing with you some of my "hindsight is 20/20" educator revelations after reading Ken Bain's What the Best College Teachers Do. Reading this book evoked "ah-ha!" moments one after another after another; I realized how I could have been far, far more effective in the classroom many moons ago if only I had known then what I know now.
Read on, and see what ah-ha! moments you have!
Secret #4: It does not have to be a lightning round of Jeopardy!, but demonstrate for students it is expected and acceptable to ask questions. And they may (and should!) do so without fear. And this fear is dissipated by you inviting their voices. Start each class in a way that signals to students your voice will not be the only one that is heard in the classroom.
You have heard and seen them before ... those colleagues who sound infinitely more confident and commanding than ever and in such an incredibly pleasant way.
How do they do it?!
How. Do. They. Do. It?!
Is it volume? Tone? Pitch? Do they have one of those unique kinds of voices that draws people to them? Ah ... wait a minute. They were Communication majors in college. That's it. Or are they naturally great communicators, so out the window and off the table are the hopes of cracking the code and discovering their secret sauce?
Not so fast! Yes, we have colleagues who are innately positioned to consistently deliver a message and deliver it well. And others may have formal education or training in the areas of voice and diction.
Or - and this is the part you really want to hear (read) - in all frankness, none of that matters because, my friends, I have cracked the code! I have the secret sauce. And you are not going to believe how EASY it is! What's more is you are not going to believe that you already know how to do it!
Are you ready? This is for you, Nona!
(Because of the lists provided; this is best viewed on a laptop or desktop device rather than on a mobile device.)
These are three of six secrets I learned many years after entering the classroom as an educator and after getting my hands on a copy of Ken Bain's What the Best College Teachers Do. (And, yes, I wish I had this book before I started teaching!)
I have found the time has now come to no longer keep the secrets to myself or within the four virtual corners of my online classrooms; here are quotes from Bain's book that led me to those secrets, and I trust they will lead you to discover/uncover some teaching secrets of your own!
Bain writes "We cannot take single pieces … and simply combine them with other, less effective or even destructive habits and expect them to transform … teaching …" (p. 20).
He goes on to suggest instead we should "… make a systematic and reflective appraisal of … teaching approaches and strategies, [and ask 'Why do you do] certain kinds of things and not others[?]'" (p. 21)
So here's secret #1: Just as adding fresh herbs to a piece of burnt fish does not make it better neither does adding effective teaching practices to a collection of less than effective approaches improve the classroom experience. Make a conscious effort to review, reflect, and revamp.
On January 27, 2017, I had the privilege of spending the day with several faculty members at Doña Ana Community College in Las Cruces, New Mexico, facilitating an edtech workshop entitled "Turn It App a Notch: Tools for a More Engaging iPad Educational Experience," and the richness of the conversations was mind-blowing!
Within the first minutes of the workshop, we began a conversation focused on what participants needed from me, the facilitator, and each other - essentially, their classmates - during the course of the workshop to make it a positive and productive experience for them.
And I want to pause now, and ask that you notice this breaking of patterns. Think back to the last time you attended a workshop; it is quite possible the facilitator had already reached conclusions about the participants' needs without actually gaining their input. Now, you might think "Bridgett, is that not ambitious and a bit challenging for the facilitator to wait until the actual workshop to get this information and then authentically and sincerely act upon it right there in front of a live audience?"
Yes, it can seem like a heavy weight on the shoulders and a high level of accountability; however, when you invite participants to make such a list, you show you care, and when you show you care, it makes it easier to accommodate the list of needs. Really! It does. It turns the workshop in to a conversation ... into an experience that makes everyone feel his/her interests and needs are in mind. And it feels SO GOOD to immediately hear participants' voices because the workshop is about them! It feels like standing back and gliding brush strokes of colors onto a blank canvas without worries of restricting borders or having to follow a set pattern!
Now back to the experience and how we REALLY discovered what it means to break some patterns in the classroom ...
I combined my pre-determined list with the participants' combined list of what they needed in order to have a beneficial learning experience in the workshop, and the amazing revelation at which we arrived was ...
It is entirely too bad teaching (and children … but I digress!) do not come with complete handbooks. Imagine what you could achieve! Imagine how incredibly successful both you and your students could be inside and outside the classroom. What is that small handful of quick links you can visit for tips and strategies to take some of the mystery out of the first terms of your teaching career?
Here are the three I found loaded with a wealth of information that can make you feel like a pro in your first years in the profession, or if you are a seasoned educator, they can give you some new perspectives and ideas for connecting with and supporting the twenty-first century learner.
Welcome to the
BMcHAWK TALKS B.Log!
Bridgett here ... a dynamic professional speaker, higher ed consultant, university Communication faculty member, published author, and a total lover of beautiful sunsets!