Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Presentation Software: Presentations or Visual Aids (part 2)

Knowing when to use visual aids isn't good enough.  We must meet the criteria of the following five rules for the visual aids to be effective (not to be confused with the so called "rules of Power Point"):

  1. Make the visual aid an appropriate size for the room.  Be sure that people don't need to bring binoculars to see it.
  2. Make visual aids simple.  Follow the principle that "less is more."  For a good example, look at billboards on the way home tonight.  The creators of such ads know that you will be driving by at 55 miles per hour (some of you at 85) and they must get their message across very quickly.
  3. Make sure your visual aids are professional looking.  We have computers now where we can generate top quality visual aids.
  4. Make sure your visual aid supports your point you are trying to get the audience to understand.  Once your point is made, take it down.  Don't leave a visual aid up that made one point when you are talking about another point.
  5. Be prepared; make sure you know how to handle the technology and practice with your visual aids.  Practicing with your visual aids will be very clumsy at first.  However, you don't want to be clumsy in front of the audience.  High technology fails often.  Remote controls fail, microphones fail- especially remote microphones, projector lights burn out, extension cords won't reach outlets, computers crash.  Always have a back up.

To have outstanding presentations and avoid embarrassing moments, make sure you follow the four reasons and the five rules of visual aids.  And, don't forget the most important (absolute) rule of visual aids-be prepared, practice, and have a backup plan.

Rod Mattson
Copyright March 17, 2013 Mattson Communication Training

Monday, March 25, 2013

Presentation Software: Presentations or Visual Aids?

Thinking that presentation software makes a presentation is a big mistake. Visual aids are called visual aids for a reason—make that four reasons.

 A picture is worth a thousand words.  Good visual aids can drive your point home and make it memorable.  Visual aids can also be a disaster and distract from your presentation if you make the visual aid software your presentation.

Visual aids are extra powerful with an International audience.  Sometimes understanding gets lost in language or articulation; however, visual aids can instantly clear up these misunderstandings.  Using visual aids properly are vital to any presentation.

Have you ever been to a meeting and the presenter filled up Power Point slides with words and read them out loud, or worse yet, talked about something else that didn't match the words on the screen?  Have you ever seen a complex chart put up, and just when you find a spot that matches what is being said, they take it down?  It gets frustrating, doesn't it?

This happens often in business and organizational world.  Visual aids are misused in a high percentage of presentations.  Often, presenters are clumsy and distracted with the visual aids.

Don't be that guy or girl.

The following are some tips on the highly effective use of visual aids.  First up are four reasons to be more effective using visual aids.

We need to have a reason to use a visual aid.  Don't use them simply to show the audience your technical savvy, or to show the audience the newest bell or whistle on Power Point.  Remember, the presentation is you, not the Power Point.  Visual aids are for support only.  According to Ron Adler, Communication author, we use visual aids only for the following four reasons:

  1. To make your point interesting
  2. To make your point memorable
  3. To make your point clear
  4. To prove your point
Next up, the five rules for the visual aids to be effective (not to be confused with the so called "rules of Power Point").

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Name Your Purpose and Organize Accordingly

You've identified your purpose, now it is critical to organize your talk specifically for that purpose

The speaker said, "These were my main points, I hope you can look at them and find a few that can help you increase your business."  I thought, "you're kidding."  The slide had 24 numbered items and he had to tell us at the end that these were his main points-24!

I admit to wondering where he was going during his 45 minute talk.  He told a few jokes and had some interesting stories; however, I never did get the point of a single story.  Clearly, he didn't know his audience, his purpose, or his main idea.  I am sure he had one, something to the effect of saying as much as he could in 45 minutes about increasing sales.  Funny thing is, he never said so in those words, I just had to figure it out on my own.

He made some basic mistakes many speakers make:  he couldn't articulate a main idea, he tried to say as much as he could in his time frame, he put it all on Power Point, and he never practiced.

Don't be that guy.

When asked to speak to a group, you must prepare in an organized fashion.  There are many ways to do this depending on the purpose of your talk.  Organizing for persuasive or sales talks are different and come in many different forms based on audience's attitudes and motives.

We'll discuss one basic organization pattern here (in the right circumstances, it can also be used for a persuasive or sales talk too).  It is how to speak when informing on a project, a process, an idea, or explaining.

Organizing one of these talks makes two assumptions:  one, you write the Body of the talk first and add the Introduction and Conclusion later, and two, repetition is the key strategy to communicating your information.  Simply saying it doesn't mean the audience hears it.  In writing reports and articles, this is not a good strategy because people can go back and re-reread if their minds wander, but if they get distracted listening, they can't go back and re-listen.

I call this organization style an "Inside out process."

  1. Figure out about 6-10 points from your memory that you believe are essential to your topic.
  2. Reduce these points to three.  This is the toughest part of preparation when you know your field well; however, you'll do your audience a favor because they can't remember any more points and you can't possible tell all you know in one, two, five, ten, twenty or more hours.  Why do a "data dump" on these unsuspecting folks?
  3. Write out a complete sentence for each of your three main points.
  4. Study those three sentences and write one sentence that would summarize the three points.  Don't put the points in the sentence, simply write a summary sentence. This summary sentence becomes your main idea or "thesis statement."  If you convey this sentence in the introduction of your speech, you will be very clear and effective in your presentation. 
  5. Go back to your main points and build at least two supports for each one depending on the length of your talk.  It can be examples, anecdotes, stories, analogies, pictures, videos, etc.
  6. Write out each support in one sentence.  This becomes the working outline for the body of your talk.
  7. Write the introduction of the talk.  The introduction should have an attention getter, your main idea, and a list of your three main points.
  8. Write the conclusion.  It should restate your main idea, then cover each of the three main points with one example of each.
  9. Write a "Tie-down" to end your talk without having to say thank-you.  It can be an inspiring story or quote or a reference back to your attention getter that signals the end of your talk to the audience.
You write the talk in the following order:  Body with main points and main idea, Introduction including attention getter, main idea, and preview of main points, the Conclusion with main idea, recap of main points from Body with one example, and finally, a Tie-down.

However, when presenting the talk, you deliver it in the following order:  Introduction, Body, Conclusion, and Tie-down.

This process helps your message to be clear to you that in turn will make your talk interesting to an audience and they will remember more.  You will benefit the audience by giving them three clear takeaways that they can also articulate.

It sounds like common sense; however, if it was, we wouldn't be subjected to so many bad presentations.

Rod Mattson
Copyright March 2013 Mattson Communication Training

Friday, March 15, 2013

Motivation: Get Others to Do What You Want Them to Do Because They Want to Do It

The psychology of motivating, persuading, and informing


Andy McFarlane, manager at Nucor in Seattle, believes he has to change his communication style to match the individual style of each crew member.  George Marinovich, wine expert, treats every worker, customer, and vendor with genuine respect and approaches all in a friendly way.  Both successfully motivate people by listening, understanding, adapting, and respecting everyone in his sphere of influence thus making each individual feel important—a basic human need we all have.  This is understanding the audience.

Understanding the Audience

To continuously improve in our ability to motivate and influence an audience, a good public speaker seeks to understand her audience.  This is a complex process that involves many moving parts.  For example, a speaker must know why she was asked to speak, who is in the audience, what they expect, what they need, what they know about her topic, how she can benefit them etc.  All this assumes she is knowledgeable in her field.
In matters of motivation, a speaker needs to know what motivates the people in the audience.  This is where the balance of art and science becomes tricky.  In advance, the speaker must determine the audience’s attitudes towards her proposition (the specific thing she wants the audience to do), what motivates the people in the audience, and convey the benefits to the audience by doing what she asks.

The Audience’s Attitude Towards Your Proposition

With any proposition, the audience will have a predisposition ( attitude) towards it.  According to Social Judgment Theory, your audience will be “anchored” in one of five categories:
1.      They completely agree
2.      They have a latitude of acceptance
3.      They have a latitude of non-committal
4.      They have a latitude of rejection
5.      They completely disagree. 

In the development process of your message, you ignore two categories: completely agree and completely disagree.  You must determine where they are anchored to determine your strategy to motivate them to action.  If you ask them to act too soon, you will move them away.  If you don’t ask at the right time, you will lose them.  They have to be in a latitude of acceptance to successfully motivate them, otherwise you are “too pushy.”  If they are not in a latitude of acceptance, don’t ask.  Your strategy is to incrementally move them, over time, into this category before you ask them to action.  The trick is to identify where they are anchored and proceed accordingly.



According to Abraham Maslow, a person’s needs can be identified in seven categories.  The scope of this article will cover three:
1.      Shelter and Safety
2.      Love and Belongingness
3.      Ego and Esteem

Shelter and Safety isn’t just a .357 Magnum under your pillow in a warm, dry, secure home.  It is much more.  It is a savings bank account, health insurance, retirement plan, reliable car, routine, certainty in life, steady job, comfort zone, etc.
Love and Belongingness isn’t just a partner.  It is being a part of something like a community, a church, a club, a social group.  It is being a fan of a specific sports team, of an author, of an actor etc.  It is wearing hats and shirts with logos, names of organizations, cities or states.  It is owning things other people own like the best-selling car, or computer, or cell phone.  It is anything that makes people feel part of something—included and like everyone else.

Ego and Esteem is more than being “full of yourself.”  It is being special, standing out, having a special parking space, an office with your name on the door, diplomas, certificates, trophies, recognition, large bank accounts, etc.  It is anything that makes you feel special and important and a little bit ahead of others.

Convey the Benefits to Doing What You Ask


The last ingredient to motivating the audience is asking in the right way.  Dale Carnegie developed what he calls the “Magic Formula.”  You ask the audience to action (it can only be one thing) and tell them the benefit they will gain by doing what you ask.  It goes like this:

I urge you to (action) because if you do, you will (benefit).

Andy and George continuously improve their abilities to motivate others by making their audiences feel important, knowing their dispositions to what Andy and George are asking, understanding the audience’s motives, and knowing when to ask them to action, then being better able to convey the benefits of doing what is asked.  You are probably doing this well right now; however, can you do better? Do you want to do better?