Getting Over Yourself

March 3, 2015

What if you’re the last speaker of the day?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 11:15 am
Tags: , , ,

How do you engage them when they’re tired and would just as soon leave as to listen to another speaker?

Whatever time has been allotted you, cut it by at least one-fourth. Finishing early makes you a hero. It also is more likely you’ll be more concise and focused which will make it snappier.

Start with a story that has a point and will resonate with them. Don’t put in anything that is “nice to know” info, only “your house will burn down if you don’t know this” info.

See what you can do to make it interactive. Have them tell you what part of your subject affects them or their work. No matter the size of the audience, there will be people who will respond.

If you can give them a brief stretch break without losing control, do so. Have them raise their hands over their heads and count to 10, or something more creative that relates to your subject.

Connect every piece of info you give them to their specific needs. Try to stay with stories and examples. And be totally engaged yourself. And don’t run one minute over (unless for some reason you get their agreement to stay past the ending time).


For more tips go to


December 18, 2014

“Are there any questions?” isn’t a close for your presentation

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 12:38 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Your last words can make or break your presentation. If there’s any hope they’ll remember (and act on) anything you’ve said, those last few words are the key.

So, your last words should wrap up your message by summarizing what you’ve said and pointing them in the direction of the action, or change of thought you’re trying to effect. If you’re taking questions after your talk, you need to do that wrap up, let it sink in to the audience and then ask for questions.

Then after the Q and A session, close again–with the main point you want them to take with them. Some of the questions may have been interesting, but not quite to your point. Keep control of your message by having it be the last thing they hear. A brief bumper sticker message.

October 4, 2013

Really! You’re going to open your presentation with that?

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 9:36 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s so tempting to start with what you’re going to cover. Yet, it’s almost impossible to say that in a way that will stop them from texting.

Regardless of the audience, there’s something you can say that will let people know they need to listen up. Someone in a class this last week started with, “We have a problem.” He said it with authority and stopped to let it sink in. And everyone paid close attention.

Awhile ago someone started with, “First I’m going to give you a headache and then I’m going to give you an aspirin.”

So, for those of you who think your audience would be turned off if you did an opening, rather than start with what you’re going to cover, you can see those two examples didn’t take enough time for the audience to object.

For other audiences, you might start with a story or an example that illustrates your point, or some statistics that highlight the problem, or a current news story that’s relevant.

It’s hard to break the habit of announcing “this is what I’m going to talk about” as the first thing you say. But more people will listen if you do. Give them a reason to listen first, and then tell them what you’re talking about.

It’s more interesting and it should be easier for you, too.

March 14, 2013

Simple isn’t easy but it’s vital

Filed under: Tips — Barbara Rocha @ 11:45 am
Tags: , , , , ,

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.”

February 7, 2013

3 Things you can do to sharpen your presentations

First, are you spending enough time really getting to know what your audience cares about – in life and in your subject. It’s pointless to tell them what you want them to know if you don’t arrange it around what they’re interested in and how your topic relates to them.

Second, seamlessly weave in something everyone’s thinking about or familiar with. This month offers several possibilities. It’s not too late to find something about the Super Bowl that helps your point. Or Valentine’s Day, or the Academy Awards. If you do a good job of connecting the dots between these and your subject your audience will stay awake and get your point. It’ll also be easier for you to give.

Third, don’t blow off the closing. Ever. Give it your full attention while you’re planning what to say so that it sounds and feels like closure to you. And then do the same when you’re delivering it. Bring your whole self to the party as you say it rather than letting yourself think about sitting down.

These 3 things give you sharper content, give you a happier audience, and make you feel good about what you’ve accomplished after it’s over. Give it a try.

December 19, 2012

Three ways to give more exciting presentations

Three key things to look out for in your presentations are 1. Be interested, 2. Creatively organize your message, and 3. Be in the moment as you deliver it.

So, first, are you excited about this information and about sharing it with the audience? Every opportunity to speak isn’t equally weighted, but if you can find a reason why the audience needs it, how it will shorten their day, lighten their work load, help their lives, it’s a lot easier to be interested as you organize it and as you deliver it. You’re in charge of whether or not you’re interested.

Second, have you made it audience-centered? Do you care whether or not they get it?

Have you identified what they need to know? What they want to know? How your subject affects them?
Sprinkle those connections throughout your talk. Ask questions, use examples, illustrations, and analogies that relate to them.

Experiment with approaches that have appealed to you as an audience member — but make them your own. Be willing to break the pattern of a typical business presentation, the kind you’ve been bored by. You can dare to be different without being inappropriate.

And third, many people are exciting on the inside, but hesitant or unable to let that show in front of a group. Look for ways to allow you to be yourself — to show your natural energy and humor. See yourself as one of the group having a conversation with them. Just talk to them. Stay focused on your purpose–to help them in some way.

Allow yourself to be captivated. Be interested yourself and you’ll be interesting in content and delivery.

Don’t try to be interesting. Be interested.

August 31, 2012

And what was Clint Eastwood thinking?

From all accounts, Clint Eastwood is an amazing director–even able to direct himself. I’m sure he had a grand plan in mind last night at the Republican Convention, but it lacked something in execution. I think he wanted to sound conversational and yet he sounded uncertain.

We know he can memorize lines, so at the beginning I wasn’t worried that he didn’t have the teleprompter.

Apparently some people liked it and others found it confusing.

The same thing can happen to you if you’re not clear on your purpose and the outcome you’re looking for. You don’t necessarily have to have a script, but you do need to have a specific plan. Winging it works for some people. But, if you want to “wing it” your best bet is to know the point you want to make and the path you’re planning to take to get there. When you’re giving a speech, memorizing isn’t your friend, but clarity and focus are your friends.

August 7, 2012

What Dr. Michael Gervais told Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings

Here’s a gem passed along by the announcers as Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings competed in their Olympic beach volleyball playoff against the Italians: “Confidence is a little voice that says, “you belong.” (Sports psychologist, Dr. Michael Gervais)

You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to benefit from that piece of wisdom.

You’re the one who gets to program that little voice. Your choice. An objective assessment of any given situation – speech, networking, job interview, etc. – can help you reach that conclusion: You belong. It’s the counterproductive “noise” voice that gets in the way.

When you know you belong, you can trust your instincts and do or say the right thing–or keep your mouth shut.

Cultivate the “little voice” and just say, “no” to the noise.

July 12, 2012

“I’m leaving. You give my report.”

Five minutes before the meeting your boss says, “I’ve got to go to another meeting. Here, you give my report.”

It’s unnerving, and not really fair, but you’re stuck. You may be frustrated, nervous, angry, confused, discombobulated. Maybe the good news is you don’t have long to feel that way; it’ll soon be over.

In the long run, maybe you could have a talk with the boss about a simpler way to handle it. In the short run: focus.

As always, my advice is, “When in doubt, pause.” The next thing is to ask questions. You don’t have much time, but you still need to know who your audience is and the expected outcome. So focus on what you know about the group and why they’re attending the meeting as well as their usual responsibilities, and ask your “benefactor” for the purpose of the report. Knowing what direction you’re supposed to go and what outcome you’re looking for should help you get through it in one piece.

July 5, 2012

Bore your audience and forget about passing “Go”

If you’ve ever tried to sneak out of a boring presentation, that should motivate you to make sure you’re not boring your audience. And it starts with you. If you think your subject is boring, there’s no way you can inspire your audience or energize them.

For instance, if you’re giving a report that you consider routine, unnecessary, redundant, you’ve set the tone: it will be boring. Bored presenter = bored audience. No way around it.

Start by seeing how you can avoid doing it “the way it’s always been done” — and still be appropriate.

For instance: Identify something about the subject that you find interesting; look for a link to a current hot topic; instead of thinking it’s a report you have to give, consider how it affects your audience.

You’re the one who decides whether or not you’re bored. Make the right choice and you’ll not only pass GO — you’ll collect your $200. Or more.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at