Archive for the ‘Presentation skills’ Category

Useful new angle on managing nerves before a presentation

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014


Psychologist Kelly McGonigal’s interesting TED Talk  provides a very different and constructive message that helps with managing those nerves before a presentation. She advocates viewing stress as the body helping you to rise to a challenge, rather than a total negative that should be avoided.

This reflects what is possibly an urban legend I heard about Bruce Springsteen: Springsteen told an interviewer that he didn’t get nervous before a big concert. Later in the same interview, he said that when he was preparing for a concert he needed to be near a toilet because he sometimes vomited. When the interviewer reminded him that he had said he didn’t get nervous, Springsteen apparently said: ‘Oh, that’s not me being nervous. That’s just me getting  excited!’

Here’s the McGonigal presentation:

Great tips for livening up a boring presentation

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Slideshare last week had an excellent and brief set of slides called How to save a lifeless presentation.  

It has a great set of slides and the content applies to the whole presentation, not just the slides. Grab it and do what it says, even with your most technical content.

How to Save a Lifeless Presentation from Bruce Kasanoff

The key to making a technical presentation more engaging

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Last week I was working with a client on a very technical presentation. He  had managed to lift it into something that would really communicate to any interested group, even if they didn’t have his technical background. He’d commented that he’d watched:How great leaders inspire action


The client realised that if he applied Sinek’s principles to any presentation it would lift it into something more special.  The technical content is the ‘what you communicate, the logical explanation is the ‘how’ but the real lift comes from the ‘why’ you are communicating .  So next time you are presenting material that involves reasoning, add in the heart stuff and you will improve it out of all sight.  Get your material together, then check that you have connected through your head, your hands and most importantly, your heart.  Apply a dose of Simon Sinek’s advice and watch your material come to life!

Great talk on presenting technical stuff to non-technical people

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Jean-luc Dumont presents a very useful lecture on Communicating Science to Non-scientists.  It applies equally well to technical non-science material and is worth the 1 hour listen. My stimulating friend Lesley Moffatt sent me the link because we are both involved in the Rotary Club of Wellington Eureka Science Communicators awards

Mindfulness and being present

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

A podcast today  reminded me about the need for all of us to sometimes take time to smell cialis pills the roses.

For example, before an important meeting or a presentation we think we are focusing on what we need to d,o but often all that is happening is worry. We are concerned about how the meeting will go; will our message be understood; will we make the impact we want to.  All of this worry adds to our anxiety and stress. It can lead to ‘catastrophising’.

What we need to do is refocus our thinking on being more present. We can use our senses to take 5-10 minutes to relax. For example, go outside and feel the sun (or wind!) on your face . Use your senses to be aware of your surroundings. You can practice at home while doing chores or on your way to work. In Wellington, New Zealand it is the beginning of Spring and the Tui are singing their hearts out as I walk down the road to work. Such joy in the present moment.

More and more research studies show that  being mindful can make a difference in improving our sleep. It may even stimulate brain connections and  growth of new neural connections.

Mindfulness helps executive functioning skills such as decision making and memory.  Elizabeth Blackburn’s research into the impact of mindfulness  suggests that in pre- and post- menopausal women it can increase DNA repair.

So the challenge is to ensure that when you are focusing, you are thinking positive thoughts rather than worrying. Become adept at being present for at least five minutes a day and you will be thrilled with the results. You will feel great and may find you get fewer minor ailments such as colds.

Great fix to build your confidence before you speak in a group

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Need to speak up in a group and find the thought terrifying?  There’s a very interesting TED Talk to help you along.  Amy Cuddy  in, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, talks about the impact of body language on the hormone balance in our brains.  Apparently the use of passive body language increases the stress hormone levels in the brain. Use of ‘power’ body language increases the testosterone levels. If you take up a power body posture for two minutes before you need it, you get a wonderful rush of power hormones and will feel much more confident. I suggest you hide yourself in the bathroom while you do that! This victory image is interesting. According to Cuddy, we take up this position when we’re winning, even people who have been blind from birth still use it, though they have never seen it.   There’s a lot more to it than this, how you project makes a big difference to the audience, but Cuddy’s information is about the impact on us.  Give it a go!

The right question can be the key to a person

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

We finally made it! Most weekends we go biking in a local seaside park and then relax at a cafe. The woman at the cafe has always intrigued me because she doesn’t interact with the customers, or even make eye contact.  It’s fortunate the cafe combines a lovely environment with  great coffee, or no one would go there.  A person like this is a challenge for someone like me. I love to know what makes them tick. In this case I’ve made no progress and neither has my husband.

But last weekend – breakthrough!  In yet another attempt, I asked how she manages to take a break over winter and yeh!  Enthusiasm leapt out. My barista is also a marathon runnner, she’s off to do her 12th marathon and now what I don’t know about her running career, isn’t worth knowing.

What a buzz!  Made me think about the power of questions and the importance of enthusiasm.  Okay, she’s pretty self-absorbed, and for me,  I really didn’t care about her 12 marathons, but what I loved was the transformation in her. Enthusiasm won the day and swept me up with it too. Of course we may not still be NBFF, but I am sure there’s a chink opening up.

In your communication, seek to communicate your own enthusiasms, or better still – connect to the other person’s passions.  And never forget the power of the right question.

How to get some good out of the earthquake

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Phew, the weekend was a wake up call for us Wellingtonians.  Did you find you were immediately involved in frenetic texting directly after the bigger one, then a flow of  ‘Thinking of you ‘ emails later?

Israeli friends have told us of this same behavioural pattern: They hear of a bomb and immediately contact family in the nearby area, then  close friends, then a while later the wider friendship circle.

The need to reaffirm bonds, is clearly an instinctive reaction to threat.  Such jolts make us realise how much our important connections matter. In some ways,  drastic events can enable us to reaffirm our key bonds -much like the importance of a wake after a funeral.

The sense of belonging is crucial to human mental health. It’s why at the new millenium, so many people preferred to be with family rather than in the expected massive parties.  Relatedness is key to us as humans and we now know that the pain of being excluded is very similar to the pain of physical injury.  Beth Mount (expert on Personal Futures Planning for people with disabilities) has said: “Loneliness is the only real disability’.

It was heartwarming to receive emails from old friends across the world and it put us more closely in touch once more.  So what do we take from the weekend? Make contact with friends and family, even when you have lost touch.  Use this sharp reminder of the fragility of life to strengthen your connection with the people you care about.

Spare a thought for the people in Christchurch as well. What we went through doesn’t remotely approximate their shock at the time and their on-going problems. Think too oif the countless ordinary people trying to live in war zones.  They live with this fragility every day and it is the result of human decisions, not just a random result of  geology.

All the best out there. Keep communicating with those you love!