Tools for Making Effective Presentations and Keeping Your Audience Engaged

Stage Fright is a common disease of our dynamic corporate world. Astonishingly, not many senior executives undergo a formal training in the art of public speaking or in making presentations. And only those senior executives who understand the importance of posture, pauses, blank spaces, facial expressions, flow and quality of words, variation of voice pitch and timings try to learn this art.

I take it as serious business.

After having attended a formal “Effective Speaking” training program in 1996 at the British Foreign Office training center in London, I was quite hopeful to develop my skills as an effective speaker and presenter. This three day program covered the above techniques in addition to a session on effective writing. I remember our facilitators kept repeating;

“There is only one tool that helps deliver good speeches or presentations – Practice, practice and more practice”.

In the past 15 years, I have delivered uncountable presentations and spoke at numerous public forums, conferences and seminars. And equipped with what I learnt at British Foreign Office Training, I also tried to analyze various fellow presenters.

My observations confirm that particularly case of senior executive that did not go through a purpose-designed program, there always are three common key missing links:

- Control on body movements
- Voice variation
- Expressions

In my opinion, one cannot doubt the knowledge and quality of contents of an expert speaker. However if the above ingredients are missing, it is highly likely that your audience will lose interest. I have also seen that extensive and complicated presentations also cause severe damage to presenter’s ability to engage audience. I have also observed that some presenters keep going in the flow of their thoughts, and in trying to impress their audience forget that a normal human has a short attention time span. In my opinion, if your listeners can not retain 25% of what you have said – “you have failed to deliver your message”.

Let’s discuss the common what can be done to avoid “Presentation Disasters”:

Understand your audience:

Highly important. One must not prepare a presentation without knowing the audience. Try to gauge the level of education, expertise, areas of interest, issues faced, and then only develop your presentation. This is the only way to keep your audience engaged throughout.

Write from your heart: Often I have seen people delivering presentations or speeches written by others. For trained and experienced presenters, this is okay, however if you have not contributed towards developing the presentation or speech, speaking from your heart will be too challenging, hence creating an impact too will not be possible.

Avoid reading from paper: I am not a fan of reading from a written paper. Fine to do it only in case of a specific government level speech or expressing point of view, but for any other presentation, if you read from a paper, you are inviting a reputational disaster!

Practice: Okay, here is the key – as I mentioned above, for making highly effective presentations, extensive practice is unavoidable. And when I talk about practice, I am not only suggesting “speaking practice” but also reviewing the flow and carefully thinking about expected questions and how to respond to these questions. Surprisingly, very few presenters follow this strict rule.

I have also seen presenters struggling with technical glitches, ask yourself:

How difficult to have an additional soft copy of your presentation and a printed version? How difficult it is to check the microphone volume? How difficult it is to control the lights at the stage to avoid blindness?

And the final word “Your audience do not know what you would tell them next, so if you have forgotten a point, keep moving on, they won’t notice it”.

If you follow these points, you will be repeatedly performing better.

Happy presenting!!

5 Tips on How to Negotiate a Salary

To negotiate a salary can be both the most profitable and the most humiliating thing an employee or job seeker can do. If correct knowledge about how negotiations work, an employee can achieve marvelous results. If taken lightly, the negotiation will often end up in frustration and humiliation. Thus, the route of knowledge should definitely be chosen by anyone seriously wanting to negotiate for a high salary. Here are five important tips for the salary negotiator:  

Tips # 1 – always aim for a win-win scenario The basic principle of all negotiations – not only salary negotiations – is that the negotiations will end up in a co-operation between the parties only if the benefits for both of entering into an agreement exceed the costs for doing so. Thus, the salary negotiator must always aim for a win-win scenario when negotiating the salary.  

Tips # 2 – focus on the interests of the employer In order to achieve the sought for win-win situation, the employee or job seeker must focus hard on the employer’s interests and really understand them. The job which salary is negotiated fits in somewhere in the employer’s plans. The employee or job seeker must understand those plans in order to be able to present himself/herself as the solution to them or an important contribution to their achievement.  

Tips # 3 – prepare carefully before negotiating the salary Research shows that the key factor explaining the difference between successful and less successful negotiators is the extent to which preparations are made. There are several important steps to take, among them to find the range within which the salary can be negotiated and to brain storm for arguments that the employee/job seeker should have a salary in the higher end of this range.  

Tips # 4 – adopt a winning attitude To succeed with anything, a winning attitude is of great importance. This applies to athletes and salary negotiators equally. One way to adopt a winning attitude is to write down an ambitious target for the salary negotiation, the reaching of which is thereafter visualized by the employee or job seeker days before the negotiation.  

Tips # 5 – make sure the timing is right The employee or job seeker must wait and try to avoid discussing actual salary figures until the right moment. The employer must “be on the hook” first, being really interested in the employee/job seeker and his/her job there. Only then shall s/he name his price.

Using Remote Desktop Access to Make Remote Presentations

Whenever many small business owners hear about the possibility of making remote presentations, they tend to view it as something that is good, but which is beyond their means. You can’t blame them. They are mostly just being realistic, by way of appreciating the considerable cost that would go into the purchase of the equipment through which the remote presentations can be made. True, they can see the considerable cost savings they stand to make through such remote presentations (by of things like getting to avoid travel costs). But they simply can’t see where they would get the money to purchase the hardware and software required for such remote-presentations.

It is true that in the traditional way of thinking, a huge input of capital would be required for making remote presentations. The presentations may have to be made through video conferencing technology, and the hardware required for this doesn’t come cheap. And that is to say nothing of the software and bandwidth costs, though it is the initial investment element that tends to be more bothersome.

As it turns out, though, there are cheaper ways through which remote presentations can be done. One of those, and which is pretty much something that any business can afford, is the opportunity for remote presentations available through remote desktop access tools.

No extra hardware is required to make the remote desktop access possible. The only thing you may need to put some money onto is the purchase of the software which makes the whole venture possible. And such software, as it turns out, is not expensive either. In fact, inasmuch as you can afford an operating system for your office computers, it would be something you can afford with ease.

In using remote desktop access to make remote-presentations, you simply grant the people who will be ‘attending’ your presentation rights to remotely access your computer’s desktop through the specialized software that forms the backbone of the platform. Once they are logged on, and they have access to your desktop, you simply start running the presentation on your desktop, and they see it on their respective computers, as it is them who were running it! The presentations itself could be one that you will have made using a program like PowerPoint, so it is not something you are likely to incur any extra costs on. And you can add elements such as voice to it and even animations to simulate your pointing out of various elements on a project – so that it becomes as real as possible.

That is one of the ways through which you can get to cost effectively make remote presentations – right from your computer’s desktop, using remote desktop access software. The way most of that software works is such that you can give the ‘attendees’ temporary access rights to your desktop for the duration of the presentation. These are rights you go ahead to withdraw at the end of the presentation; to prevent the risk of the attendees starting rummaging through your computer after the presentation.

So, there you have: the way to cost effectively make a remote-presentation, using remote desktop access software programs.