Getting Over Yourself

October 6, 2014

3 Ways to annoy your audience right at the start of your presentation

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 8:50 am
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The most important part of any presentation is connecting with your audience (because they’re more likely to listen to you if you do), so it’s very sad to see people annoying the audience with their first words. So you want to avoid these:

1. Starting with a question that doesn’t actually engage the audience. Make sure if you ask a question that they feel as though they’re helping you by answering or that makes them think. See my short YouTube video for examples of good questions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkezB6tElQc
2. Starting before your brain is in gear. It causes you to say meaningless things that you had no intention of saying. You’re not focused, not making the audience feel important, and not encouraging them to listen. You and your audience will be much happier if you wait until you’re focused. You can watch to get some tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJHsSxUSEpE

3.Opening with an abstract, generic statement. It’s not likely to get them to stop texting because it doesn’t actively engage them. Even if they’re eager to hear your subject, they won’t start listening until you say something that’s meaningful to them. Something that’s said in a little different way. Pull them in by describing the problem. Or giving an example. Or telling a story that illustrates why they should listen.

Work on that opening so you’re not annoying them with your first words.

November 28, 2012

Ice cream trucks playing Christmas carols?

Filed under: Observations — Barbara Rocha @ 10:24 am
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While visiting my daughter in the desert, I heard an ice cream truck playing, “Silent Night.” When I mentioned it to my daughter, at first she didn’t get my point–because there’s nothing odd about having an ice cream truck making its rounds in November if the temperature is in the 80s. I noticed it because to me it was an anomaly.

Even so when you’re speaking: If you say what they expect to hear they’re less likely to listen. So, your opening needs to surprise them–and that depends on who your audience is as to what will seem unusual enough for them to stop texting or stop thinking about the next meeting. It doesn’t have to be wild, it just needs to be different (as well as appropriate.)

October 25, 2012

Questions aren’t the best way to engage an audience

In spite of what you may have heard, asking the wrong questions or asking them in the wrong way can turn off your audience rather than engage them.

I’ve heard too many people who apparently are just blindly following the “the best way to engage your audience is to start by asking them questions” advice. And, I have to struggle to stay with them rather than give up on them.

To say, “How many of you want to make more money?” is going to turn off at least one-third of your audience–and probably more. This question is almost always asked with the expectation that you will answer them by raising your hand. To those annoyed people, it sounds manipulative. It’s not a sure fire connector. And, often when asking a question of this sort, the speaker won’t go on until you answer. Bad idea.

If you ask a question and want an answer, it needs to be one that makes the audience feel needed. They can see that answering the question is going to help you. So, a survey question–if you really want to know the answer–can engage your audience.

And, if your question is more rhetorical, don’t make them answer and don’t pause so long they feel they are expected.

Plus, many times saying “Have any of you ever . . . ?” doesn’t require them to raise hands and you’ll be able to see the response in their body language. Maybe they nod their heads, or their eyes show that they’re right there with you. And you can continue fairly quickly by saying, “me, too,” or “then you’ll be able to relate” or “not to relate, but here’s why I think it can make a difference to you.”

So, not just any question. But questions that make the audience feel like they’re helping you move forward. And questions that you’d really like to know the answer to before you go on.

December 8, 2011

How do you come up with good openings for a presentation?

Filed under: Observations,Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 11:09 am
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When you hear openings you like when you’re in the audience, make note of those that grab your attention and make you want to listen. For instance, some questions posed by the speaker cause you to engage and some turn you off. Figure out the difference, so if you’re going to use a question you make it work for you.

One of the most engaging questions I remember from a seminar I attended on using several software programs was, “What’s the most used piece of software in the world?” Wow. That made me begin to think about the answer which meant I was engaged–as was everyone else there. And none of us came up with the right answer.

There are lots of ways to start, and when you get in the habit of seeing what works for you as an audience member, you’ll begin to see possibilities everywhere: billboards, news stories, advertising slogans, bumper stickers, historic facts, movie titles, and much more.

Your opening matters as a way of getting your audience’s attention and of connecting with them. You need to do both for a successful presentation.

April 3, 2010

Myth #17 Starting with a question is the best way to engage their minds

Filed under: Myths — Barbara Rocha @ 3:41 pm
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Starting with questions is one way to start a presentation, but not always the best way.

Rather than engaging them, questions might actually cause you to lose the audience right at the beginning.

Possible pitfalls: Your question is rhetorical, and they answer.  Or you want a response, but don’t get one. They may say,”yes” when you were expecting “no,” or vice versa. These can be caused by your tone of voice, your attitude, and/or your body language. Or, it could be not knowing enough about your audience.

You can correct these, but the immediate remedy is to be able to transition to your point if you don’t get the response you want.

In any case, do be sure to acknowledge whatever response you get.

The more treacherous pitfall with questions is asking questions just for the sake of asking them, that is, as a technique or device.  Here you risk annoying the audience by making them feel manipulated.

Here are two examples of this type of question: “Do you want to make more money?” and, “Is there anyone here who doesn’t feel stressed every day?”

With the first, people not motivated by money know you expect all hands raised. So, if those people raise them, they’re annoyed at being manipulated. And, if they don’t, they’re annoyed you’ve make them feel like a spoilsport.

With the second, those who don’t feel stressed know you don’t want them to raise their hands thus feeling they’re insulting you if they do and frustrated if they don’t.

If you ask a question to open your presentation, it’s best to want to know the answer. Otherwise, you risk insulting them and you may have a tough time getting them back.

Every part of your presentation needs to be based on mutual interest rather than on gimmicks.

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