Getting Over Yourself

March 29, 2013

Don’t make me answer your question

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 9:29 am
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I was chatting with someone the other day who asked me a pretty simple question (“Have you ever watched television?”) which, from my perspective required not more than a pleasant expression and a nod to indicate I was tracking with the conversation. But, my questioner wouldn’t let it go until I actually said, “Yes, I’ve watched television.” It’s the kind of thing I don’t even think should be done to little kids–if you can see they are paying attention.

So, I’m back to my topic of not using questions indiscriminately to get people’s attention–either in a conversation, or in a speech. Demanding an answer to a more or less rhetorical connection breaks the flow of making your point and breaks your connection with the audience.


March 14, 2013

Simple isn’t easy but it’s vital

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 11:45 am
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An article in February 2013 Wired magazine (The Simple Complex by Mat Honan) starts with, “Simple doesn’t just sell, it sticks.”  He gives some great examples of technology that has gotten more complex not because it became any better but because it could be done and it made the marketing department happy.

Two quotes from the article that apply perfectly to speaking: “Simplicity is about subtraction.” This from Mike Monteiro, author of “Design is a Job.” And (from Mat Honan), “Simplicity is actually quite simple. It requires paring things away . . . . It means removing layers rather than adding them. In short, all it takes is a bit of courage.”

He’s making the case that marketing pushes much of the complexity so you can have something “new” and “better” and “bigger” and “faster.”

But it’s true as well in speaking. While it may not be marketing that’s behind our complex presentations it may be ego (“look how much I know”), or fear (“maybe I won’t look smart enough and I’ll lose my job or the audience won’t find me credible”), or the need to be thorough. And the result is the same–a lot of product (your presentation) that overwhelms or bores your audience while you miss out on the great connections you can make with your audience by keeping it simple.

As Mat Honan says, “Simple doesn’t just sell, it sticks.”

March 6, 2013

Which mistakes actually affect your presentation?

Not every mistake is created equal. In almost every case, it’s not the mistake that turns the audience away from you, but how you handle it. What will wreck your presentation, in almost every case, is not connecting with your audience.

So, let’s say you trip over your shoelace or make a mistake with your data — if you try to pretend it didn’t happen, you’ve disconnected. The audience doesn’t see you as human because you’re trying to pretend you’re not. Probably in the quest of being perfect.

If, on the other hand, at some point in your talk you realize you have been talking over their heads, are boring them, have made a huge mistake in information, and stop, clap your hand to your forehead (really or metaphorically) and speak right to the audience –human being to human being–you can get them on your side and move along. Because the alternative of continuing in the same boring or inappropriate vein will get you nowhere.

I don’t expect you to hope for mistakes, but you don’t have to fear their ruining your presentation–if you’re just willing to stop to fix it in a human way.

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