Closing with Impact


February 3, 2017.

Closing with Impact, Leaving Your Audience on a High
From World Class Speaking in Action, Chapter 9 by Robert Gordyn

Starting your presentation with a bang is one of the key components in making an impact on your audience and getting their attention and interest right from the start.  But how you end your presentation is just as important—because you want your audience to go away with a positive feeling about what they have just heard, and full of enthusiasm to act on that feeling.

Why is it so important to close your presentations effectively?  For two main reasons:
• People tend to remember the first and last parts of a speech.
• The closing is the time when you can summarise what you’ve been telling your audience and reinforce your message.

Before looking at some strategies for effective closing, there are a few general Dos and Don’ts:
• Do let the audience know when you are about to close, so they can be prepared.
• Do designate about 10% of your presentation to the closing, to be effective.
• Do make sure to review each main point covered in your presentation, to enhance the audience’s retention.
• Don’t introduce new topics, because you won’t have time to develop them.
• Don’t end with a Question & Answer session, because that risks your presentation, potentially ending in an anti-anticlimax as you never know what questions will come up.

QUOTATIONS. Using compelling words and phrases, from well-known individuals, adds weight and credibility to your message, especially at the close.  The quotations don’t necessarily have to be from famous people—cliches should be avoided—but they should be expressive and thought-provoking. For example, you could use memorable phrases you’ve heard family or friends use.  A quotation should be brief and be appropriate to the subject.

POEMS. People enjoy listening to words that are well-crafted and conjure up images, and a stanza of poetry can encapsulate your message in a pleasingly lyrical way.  The poetry should be kept to single stanzas (four or five lines) and rhyme, as far as possible, because rhymes are easier to remember.  Be eclectic in your selection, to fit it to your audience, for example, rap lyrics for younger audiences, traditional poetry for older audiences.

CALL TO ACTION.  This is a call to transformative action, that will benefit the audience, for example, in a speech on change, the call to action could be a request to the audience to go and meet new people in order to change their perspective.  The call to action should legitimise and support, in a real way, the arguments presented in your speech – taking the audience from theory to practice.

LETTING THEM SPEAK. This doesn’t refer to a Q&A session – that should already have been done before your closing.  Letting them speak, means giving your audience the opportunity to feel they are actively participating in your presentation. For example, you could make some statements summarising the key points of your speech, but leave out the last word and let your audience shout it out.  This not only reinforces your message but also gives your audience a memorable finish.

A QUESTION. You can close your speech with a question to your audience, that isn’t to be answered there and then, but is for them to take away, giving them the opportunity to think about a response. In the process they will be able to combine their own personal views with what they have learned from you.  The type of question can vary, as long as it is tied to the main points of your speech, and is short and clear.

CIRCLING BACK. Establishing a link between the opening and closing of your presentation highlights your opening remarks and reinforces your message through repetition.  For example, you might start your presentation with a story – an effective way to start – and then, in closing your presentation, return to the same story and conclude it.  This neatly packages your presentation and helps make it memorable.

Source:
World Class Speaking in Action, Craig Valentine & Mitch Meyerson, Morgan James Publishing, 2014.

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

The Surprising Science of Happiness


January 27, 2017.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Dan Gilbert:
The Surprising Science of Happiness
(Among Top 20 Most Watched TED Talks)

Dan Gilbert. PhD in psychology from Princeton University, now Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, has won numerous awards for his teaching and research. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Phi Beta Kappa teaching prize for his work at Harvard.

In this fascinating TED talk, which is among the Top 20 most viewed TED talks of all time, Dan Gilbert challenges commonly held beliefs about happiness—many of which are often wrong. Gilbert argues that “our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy”.

TED2004  13.7 million views on TED.com

His views on happiness are based on research from psychology and neuroscience, which he summarized and explained in his best-selling book Stumbling on Happiness (2006)—a New York Times bestseller and translated into 20 languages.  Gilbert is a highly engaging speaker with a great sense of humour.  He has also given two other TED talks: Why We Make Bad Decisions (2005) which you can view here —and most recently, The Psychology of Your Future Self (2014), which you can view here.

Trond Varlid

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

How to Make Stress Your Friend


January 20, 2017.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Kelly McGonigal:
How to Make Stress Your Friend
(Among Top 20 Most Watched TED Talks)

Kelly McGonigal, PhD, Stanford psychologist and award-winning lecturer, and author of several books, is a leader in the field of using cutting-edge research from psychology, neuroscience, behavioural economics and medicine, to devise practical strategies for health, happiness and personal success.

Experiencing stress in your daily job and life?  While most of us believe or have been led to believe that stress is universally bad for your health—new research suggests that stress may only be bad for you if you believe so.

“The old understanding of stress as an unhelpful relic of our animal instincts is being replaced by the understanding that stress actually makes us socially smart—it’s what allows us to be fully human”, says Kelly McGonigal.

Her TED talk featured here is among the Top 20 most watched TED talks of all time (since 2006 when TED talks started to become available on video online). Not only is the content highly interesting—it is also delivered in a fun and engaging manner.  So if you sometimes feel stressed out—do take a look at McGonigal’s TED talk!

TEDGlobal 2013 12.7 million views on TED.com

Her latest book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good for You, and How to Get Good at It, published in May 2016, draws on the latest groundbreaking research on this topic and addresses some of the myths that have persisted about stress. Feel too stressed to take the time to read it ? You may want to think again. The book is a practical guide on how to not only handle stress—but thrive on it.

McGonigal’s acclaimed book The Willpower Instinct (2013), based on her highly popular Stanford course “The Science of Willpower”, explains what exactly ‘willpower’ is, how it works and why it matters. Topics covered in the book include dieting and weight loss, health, addiction, quitting smoking, temptation, procrastination, mindfulness, stress, sleep, cravings, exercise, self-control, self-compassion, and greater productivity at work.

Kelly McGonigal has also written the book Yoga for Pain Relief, and produced The Science of Compassion, an audio learning course.

You can find more information on her Web site:
http://kellymcgonigal.com/

Trond Varlid

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action


January 13, 2017.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Simon Sinek:
How Great Leaders Inspire Action
(Among Top 3 Most Watched TED Talks)

Simon Sinek. Author, speaker, consultant—who writes and consults on leadership and management. Adjunct staff member of RAND Corporation where he advises on military innovation and planning.

Simon Sinek has come up with a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership—The Golden Circle.  The core question is “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.

TEDxPugetSound 2009   30 million views on TED.com

His TED talk featured here is the third most watched TED talk of all time with 30 million views to date. He is also the author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last, his most recent book.

Trond Varlid

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Mastering Q&A


January 6, 2017.

Mastering Q&A
From World Class Speaking in Action, Chapter 30 by Dell Self

Although the speaking part of making presentations is rightly emphasised, it’s not always realised how important it is to master Q&A to make the right impression.  So, we will take a look at how to get the most out of your Q&A.

There are five key points to consider in order to ensure an effective Q&A:

LOCATION. Avoid putting the Q&A at the wrong point (or ‘location’) in your presentation.  Often Q&A is left to the end, but this is usually a mistake.  If not properly managed, a Q&A can degenerate into a mixture of questions, some relevant, some partly relevant and some irrelevant.

At the same time people are starting to switch off, talking amongst themselves, checking mails, getting ready to leave and so on.  People tend to remember the first thing about your presentation – first impressions matter – and the last thing.

So if your Q&A is at the end, then people tend to remember the Q&A and the message of your presentation gets devalued, or even lost—you don’t want people remembering the ‘wrong thing’.

TIMING. If you put the Q&A session after the main part of your presentation and before your closing speech, that will increase the value of the Q&A.  Your audience’s attention will not start to wander and they will remember your carefully crafted closing speech, which will reinforce your message.

PREPARATION. When preparing your speech think about how you want to handle the Q&A.  If you let people ask questions throughout your presentation, that risks slowing it down and diluting the message.

It is probably better to tell the audience up front that there will be a Q&A later and they should write down any questions that crop up and you will answer them in the Q&A.  This will help your audience focus on relevant questions and also help avoid your presentation being broken up by people cutting in with questions.

PARAMETERS. At the start of the Q&A tell your audience how many questions you will take and for how long – e.g. five questions, for ten minutes – and also inform your audience that you will give your closing wrap-up after the Q&A.  That way, your audience will be motivated both to stick to relevant questions and stay focused, rather than start to pack up and leave.

HANDLING. If the audience are quiet, then be proactive and tell them you will “take questions now”.  When taking questions, don’t focus on only one section of the audience, but look around the whole audience.

Encourage questioners by using positive body language, that shows your interest, like smiling, maintaining eye contact for the duration of the question and thanking them for the question.  Keep your answers relevant and then ask the questioner if they are satisfied with your answer.

A good Q&A can enhance your presentation and leave your audience fired up by your message.

Source:
World Class Speaking in Action, Craig Valentine & Mitch Meyerson, Morgan James Publishing, 2014.

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics


December 16, 2016.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Sebastian Wernicke:
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Sebastian Wernicke. Head of the Data Science Department at Solon Strategy, in Germany, which provides consultation to support companies and investors in the media, entertainment, telecoms and technology industries. He was previously at Seven Bridges Genomics, in the U.S. and the U.K.  His educational background is in bioinformation and theoretical computer science, from the universities of Jena and Tubingen, in Germany.

TED Talks have become a standard against which successful speaking can be measured.  With so many TED Talks now available, though, how do they compare with each other ?  Is there some analysis of what differentiates one from another?  The answer is: Yes.  In the TED Talk featured here, Sebastian Wernicke takes a humorous look at what makes for a successful TED Talk.

TED2010 2.1 million views on TED.com

Wernicke starts by looking at TED Talk statistics over a 4-year period:

over one week’s worth of videos
over 1.3 million words
over 2 million ratings

Which is a lot of information to analyse, and although Wernicke’s talk was given almost seven years ago, in February 2010, and many more TED Talks have been given and rated since then, the basics are unlikely to have changed.  Wernicke goes on to highlight three key ways in which TED Talks can be rated—by:

Topic
Delivery
Visuals

TOPIC. Wernicke lists up the 20 best words, used in the most popular talks.  Number one on the list is the word ‘You’.  This word creates a connection with the audience, bringing them into the world of the speaker.  Audiences also connect best with speakers and topics that they can easily associate with and which cover basic issues that affect all of us, like emotions, food, and our own body.  In contrast, topics that are more technical, such as architecture, materials and transportation, tend to be less popular.

DELIVERY. One of TED’s key rules is for speakers to keep within their allotted time, and not over run.  This might lead to the assumption that shorter TED Talks are more frequent and perhaps popular, but Wernicke’s analysis is that the longer the talk, the more popular it is likely to be—unless its theme is beauty, ingenuity or humour, in which case shorter talks are more popular and, as it happens, Wernicke’s own talk is quite short.  Furthermore, talks that appear to be offering something to the audience, like saying ‘I’ll give you …’, tend to be more popular, while talks that are more strident are less popular.

VISUALS. Using slides and props helps make talks more interesting and appealing.  Wernicke also produces a colour chart, picking out the ‘right’ colour for each topic.

161216-s-wernicke-tedpad

Finally, Wernicke wraps up his talk by referring to his creation, the ‘Tedpad’, a handy matrix which you can use to make your own successful TED Talk, and which can be found here: http://www.get-tedpad.com

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

A 50-Cent Microscope That Folds Like Origami


December 9, 2016.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Manu Prakash:
A 50-cent Microscope that Folds Like Origami

Manu Prakash. Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and founder of the Prakash Lab at Stanford University.  Born in India, he has degrees in engineering and computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and applied physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He has won several honours and awards, and he came up with the Foldscope, which is the theme of this TED Talk.

TED2012 1.6 million views on TED.com

Prakash opens his talk with a story, of the invention of the first microscopes—accompanied by a humorous old illustration highlighting what a ‘monster soup’ of life there is at the microscopic level.  In many tropical parts of the world a number of diseases are still prevalent. For example, malaria causes a million deaths a year and more than a billion people need to be tested because they are at risk.

The problem is that microscopes are heavy, bulky, expensive and hard to maintain and are not designed for fieldwork or diagnostics.  Furthermore, in some places that do have microscopes they are not being used effectively, or at all.

So the concept of the Foldscope came about.  It represents what has been referred to as ‘Frugal Science’—that is a way of bringing scientific tools to areas of the world with lower levels of high tech equipment, at affordable prices, and enabling local people to check their own resources, for example drinking water.

161209-m-prakash-foldscope-1

Each Foldscope is made from a single sheet of card, that can be put together by being folded like origami—and the origami format allows considerable precision with X and Y axis.  There are no written instructions on the sheets, rather colour-coding enables them to be put together correctly – that way they can be used anywhere in the world, regardless of language.

They have all the functions of a standard microscope and work with standard slides that are used globally.  There are several different kinds of Foldscope, each one designed for a specific type of disease, for example malaria, and Prakash shows how the Foldscope can also function as a projector.

161209-m-prakash-foldscope-2

The Foldscopes have an LED light source powered by a small battery and they are very rugged and can survive being stamped on, dropped from a considerable height and being put in water—as Prakash himself shows during this talk, by dropping a Foldscope on the floor and stamping on it and putting another one in water.

This is one of the few occasions when Prakash moves about during his talk, otherwise he stays on one spot, avoiding aimless movement.  However, he continuously makes eye contact with the audience by scanning across the room and thereby imparts his enthusiasm to them.

In 2012 the Foldscope was given a grant of USD 100,000 by the Gates Foundation, and in 2015 India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) announced a partnership with the Prakash Lab to distribute the Foldscope to around 80 colleges and programmes endorsed by the DBT.

At a cost of as little as 50 cents, large numbers of Foldscopes can be made available at little cost and are so light-weight and easy to put together that even children can make them and carry them about.

This not only enables children to check the quality of their living environment, like drinking water, but also gives them an opportunity to get familiar with science – perhaps inspiring them to become scientists themselves.

Prakash Lab:
http://web.stanford.edu/group/prakash-lab/

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Got a Wicked Problem ?


December 2, 2016.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Tom Wujec:
Got a Wicked Problem?
First, Tell Me How to Make Toast

Tom Wujec. Designer, author, Professor at Singularity University, Toronto. Fellow at Autodesk, a cutting-edge 2D & 3D design software company.

Tom Wujec is a designer and visualization pioneer—using design and technology to understand ideas and help solve business and other problems. He has studied extensively how we share and absorb information, and is a Fellow at Autodesk—a company specializing in design software for engineers, film makers and designers. In the engaging and entertaining TED talk featured here he illustrates the power of visualization to help solve problems.

TED2013    2.3 million views on TED.com

Wujec has written several books, including Five-Star Mind: Games and Puzzles to Stimulate Your Creativity and Imagination. His most recent book is Imagine Design Create.

161202-t-wujec-imagne-design-create

Trond Varlid

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Why We Do What We Do


November 25, 2016.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Tony Robbins:
Why We Do What We Do
One of the 10 most watched TED talks of all time

Tony Robbins. Life coach, leadership psychology expert, author. Probably the world’s most famous and influential life coach—a profession in which he was one of the early pioneers —and some even credit him as the creator of coaching as we now know it.

His coaching clients range from CEOs to heads of state to Olympic athletes, and over the years he also created some hugely successful public coaching programs and seminars—the most famous of which is the ‘Unleash the Power Within’, a program for self-empowerment.

161125-t-robbins-awaken-the-giant-within

He has also written several books, including Awaken the Giant Within—his first book, that brought him early recognition and fame. Later on came Unlimited Power: The Science of Personal Achievement. Most recently he even published a book about money, financial freedom and investment which quickly became a New York Times best seller.

TED2006      18.4 million views on TED.com

His TED talk featured here is one of the 10 most watched TED talks of all time—and with Al Gore in the audience. As a presenter, Tony Robbins violates several of the recommended best practices for public speaking, such as excessive walking and movement around the stage. However, it is a good example of the impact that sheer passion and intensity can have in terms of audience attention and engagement.

Trond Varlid

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.

Forget Multi-Tasking, Try Mono-Tasking


November 18, 2016.
Improve Your Presentations.
Study the best TED Speakers!

Paolo Cardini:
Forget Multi-Tasking, Try Mono-Tasking
Finding Your Own Style as a Speaker

As a speaker, did you ever try to copy the style of someone else? How did you feel – did it work? If it didn’t, this is a common mistake you can make when trying to improve as a speaker.  You definitely can and should learn from good speakers. Do not, however, try to imitate the delivery style of other speakers if this is not natural for your own personal character and way of speaking.

One reason this mistake happens is that people often have a certain perception of how a good speaker should speak and behave. A common image is that of a highly charismatic, dynamic and extrovert person speaking with a strong voice and distinct gestures. If this is your image of a great speaker, and you feel you do not have such qualities, do not despair!

Certainly, there are great speakers that fit the image just described above. If you look around, however, you will also find many good speakers with styles which are quite different.  To become a better speaker, it is essential that you to find a style that suits your own character and that you feel comfortable with. Otherwise, you will not be genuine – the audience will quickly see through it and you will lose their confidence.

This time you will find an example of a soft-spoken, yet effective and engaging, speaking style in a short and humorous TED talk by Italian designer Paolo Cardini.

TEDGlobal June 2012       2.2 million views on TED.com

If you watch his speech, you may agree that he could use more gestures and movement to be more dynamic as a speaker. However, he nevertheless gets the attention of the audience and they respond well to his humour and message – because he is genuine and his style fits his character.

Also note how he ends with a simple and effective foundational phrase for his key message.

Trond Varlid

To access more TED videos:
http://www.ted.com

This article first appeared in the EMC Quest newsletter series.