Public Speaking From Notes: Some Tips and Techniques

Among the most common questions we get at the Pincus Group, are those brought about by “podium panic.” That’s what I call the moment a speaker realizes he or she won’t be able to hide behind a lectern or read from a full script. With that discovery comes a lot of questions:  What do I do with my script? How do I stand? And the ubiquitous “What do I do with my hands?”

We tell clients that they are the presentation, not their scripts and nothing brings that home like facing an audience without one.

Know that, the good news is if you are prepared, speaking from notes is going to greatly increase your effectiveness as a speaker. No one in your audience wants to be read to, no matter what the topic. They’ve come to hear what you have to say, not what you have to read. (After all, you could have saved everyone time and bother by just emailing your script if that weren’t the case.) The bad news is, you’re going to have to get over the notion that preparation stops once you get your content down on paper.

Follow some basic guidelines to help you power up your presentation without that script:

  • Always start by determining key messages. Your messages are your port in a storm. Lose your place? Return to port. Wondering if material is relevant? Look at those key messages and decide whether any of your material helps explain or convince us of their validity. If material doesn’t directly do that, leave it aside. This is how you’ll begin to reduce a lot of unnecessary material and get to the essence of why your audience has come to hear you.
  • Reduce notes to key ideas and phrases. Don’t use full sentences on your note cards and don’t fill your notecards with small script. The whole idea here is to get away from just reading to the audience. That process gets much more complicated if you’ve simply transferred an entire script onto small notecards. Instead, focus on larger points with key phrases, using more of an outline reduced to a bulleted form (and numbering your note cards prominently). The idea is to maximize eye contact with an audience and gain some feedback from them. If you see heads nodding in agreement, or faces staring back in thought, you’ll get a cue you’re on the right track.
  • Don’t memorize. You want to practice your talk until you’re comfortable with the general shape and outline, but give yourself the freedom to speak in the moment. No one knows what you meant to say. Meanwhile, by freeing yourself from exact phrasing and even exact order, you’ll have a better opportunity to really connect and give your presentation a flow that’s easier for the audience to understand.
  • Try and leave even the notecards behind. If there’s a small table or surface off to the side you can place your notes on, work toward reviewing your notes periodically rather than holding the notes in your hand. Yes, it takes practice. If you need to return to your notes to check your place, don’t stress. Simply stop talking. Review your notes, and then begin again with your audience. Once you really free yourself from the need to fill every second of time with a scripted phrase, you’ll discover how much your props (notecards) have actually been holding you back. If you need to shorten your presentation to accommodate your ability to stay on track, then do so. It’s well worth it to your audience to get a sense of your passion and knowledge about a subject, then it is to try and follow a technically detailed presentation that’s just read to them.
  • Practice, practice, practice.  Did I mention practice? Nothing will increase your proficiency and the audience’s enjoyment more than having a real sense that you’re not lecturing them but really communicating your ideas for some purpose. When you’re comfortable, it’s going to show, in natural hand movements, in a more relaxed voice, natural pace and more compelling presentation.

Remember, you are the presentation. The rest are merely aides to help you make it.

Aileen Pincus is a communications consultant and President of the Pincus Group, Executive Communications Training. She can be reached at www.thepincusgroup.com

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Executive Presence: What Is It and How Can I Build It?

Developing and Displaying Your Executive Presence

Ever been in a meeting when an executive with real leadership skill walks into the room? Everything subtly changes. Voices quiet, smiles widen, backs straighten, and anticipation is heightened. That effect is less about title and more about the qualities others perceive in this executive. In the business world, those qualities loosely fit under an umbrella called “executive presence,” and while we may have trouble defining it, we all know it when we see it.

Many assume you’re either a natural-born leader, able to elicit that kind of a response in others, or you’re not. Those with strong executive presence however know this “soft skill” is no accident of personality. Those with executive presence understand the need to develop and display their leadership qualities so that they are obvious to ALL. For executive presence to have that kind of effect, it has to be obvious to even those who don’t work with you day-to-day. So what are the qualities we’re talking about when we speak of “executive presence” and how can we all hone and display these in the workplace, regardless of title?  Keep the following tips in mind when building your executive presence in the workplace.

Confidence
We all know leaders are supposed to be people with confidence, but it’s how they display that confidence that matters most. After all, many executives are supremely confident in their own opinions while getting it absolutely wrong!  Those with real executive presence display confidence not by insisting they’re right, but by soliciting the opinions and views of others and clearly valuing those opinions, regardless of outcome. An executive who can look someone else in the eye and truthfully state, “I’d really like to hear your opinion on this,” is someone everyone can appreciate. Confidence is not about having all the answers, it’s about knowing how to get them. If you’re someone who lacks confidence, give yourself every tool you can to change that. Be the FIRST one at the meeting and give yourself time to settle in. Think about how you’ll speak up, and then prepare to do so.

Clarity
Someone who displays executive presence is someone everyone can understand.  Being clear isn’t about “dumbing it down.” It’s about lifting up your key points so that ALL can understand them and be motivated by them. Leaders are those who have the ability to make even the complex understandable and to do it in a way they know will resonate with others.  Being persuasive isn’t about citing a long list of statistics until you’ve worn your audience down, or displaying how smart you are. It’s about tailoring your communication precisely based on what you know about your audience, their needs, and the best way to motivate them toward a conclusion.  Think “I know what you care about,” instead of “Here’s what you need to do.” You can help others get there as well by offering help to a struggling colleague: “So let me understand your point. You’d like us to move ahead while we’re resolving this issue, so we won’t fall behind?”

Authenticity
There’s a reason you’re speaking to others. Whether you’re in a meeting with co-workers or briefing the boss, or interacting with clients, others are going to form ideas about you and your abilities. Regardless of the reputation you’ve built, or your accomplishments or resume, people are going to have their own opinions of you. We all have a good deal of trust in our ability to do so through interactions, no matter how brief or seemingly unimportant. If you want others to believe you’re someone with leadership ability, someone worth listening to, stay authentic. Show people who you are and what you’re capable of, rather than trying to mold yourself to what you think others want to see. Those with real executive presence are those who are authentically themselves and show it.  Think “This is how I’d like to get there” rather than, “What do I need to do to get there?”

Remember, executive presence involves a large range of leadership qualities regardless of whether you currently have a leadership title.  Clear away the barriers that prevent people from seeing you as a leader. Show them you are one.

Aileen Pincus is a communications consultant and President of the Pincus Group, Executive Communications Training. She can be reached at www.thepincusgroup.com

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TPG Included in TechSpeak Guide

TPG’s Aileen Pincus contributes to business communication best seller

(Washington DC) — “VALLEYSPEAK-2017,” a light hearted look at Silicon Valley jargon, includes a contribution from TPG on the use of elevator pitches. The book is intended to guide people through the stumbling block of jargon that could interfere with those seeking to communicate in the nation’s leading tech hub.

“Valley Speak-2017” by Rochelle Kopp and Steven Ganz has been named the eLit Gold Medal Winner for the year and is available on Amazon.

TPG’s President Aileen Pincus was interviewed on best practices for business communicators and for tips on avoiding the jargon that blocks clear and powerful communication.

For more on VALLEYSPEAK, visit http://www.siliconvalleyspeak.com/

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Presentation Confidence: Take The Fear Out Of Executive Presentations

We tend to avoid what we fear, so before you hand off that presentation to someone else or try side-stepping the responsibility altogether, consider what you’d be passing up. Each presentation in front of your peers, your boss, an important client is a unique opportunity to showcase your value. A home run in a presentation or briefing can do more to lift your reputation and cement trust for these important relationships than all of the hard work you’ve already put in getting ready for it.

That’s because your audience can see and hear your ideas for themselves. They can connect the messages with the messenger and get the full measure of their impact. Importantly, they will give credit for those ideas to you, the presenter. In short, presentation and briefing skills are essential tools every executive needs to master.

Embrace the presentation opportunities you have by conquering those fears and letting your expertise shine. Follow these pro tips to help:

Don’t memorize

If you memorize (instead of just getting comfortable with your ideas), all you’ll be concentrating on when you deliver your presentation is remembering what you were supposed to say. That’s going to interfere with being your best, most confident self. Instead, stay in the moment and give yourself permission to express your key ideas in a way that sounds natural and comfortable for you. Don’t worry about perfection. Your audience isn’t.

Do prepare (the right way)

Get your essential ideas down to (no more than) three main points. Practice delivering these orally. Pay attention to how you naturally communicate them, what details you use to explain each and how you transition from one main point to the next. There’s simply no substitute for hearing yourself present and building some muscle memory of how you want the presentation or briefing to flow. (Recording yourself is a great tool for this.) If you write out a full script, begin practicing with a greatly reduced one with just bullet points or notes with key points and phrases. It’s far more important to stay connected to your audience than it is to remember every detail of something you’d prepared.

Build in a breather

Many presenters need help controlling their fears at the very start of their presentations. Once they get into the body of their material, the content of what they’re saying helps them find their stride and pull through. If you’re most anxious at the beginning of your presentation, try a different approach. A question to the audience momentarily allows you to subtly shift the focus to your audience and might offer you the breathing room you need to settle in. (Of course the question has to be one you’re reasonably certain will draw the right response, or a survey with no right or wrong answer that helps you set up your points). You might also use a prop, or a handout to momentarily draw people’s attention to something you’re about to speak to. You might even start with a short video or other visual after the briefest of introductions.

Go with what works for you

Many executives heave a sigh of relief when the presentation or briefing is over and they can move on to answering questions. If that’s you, don’t feel constrained by formats. Keep the presentation shorter and lengthen the q and a. You’ll still need to deliver some key messages about your conclusions, but you can save the detail for when your audience signals they want it; by asking a question. Just tell your audience what you’re doing (“I have a brief overview and then I want to get right to your questions about what this means”). Remember to present with your audience first and foremost in mind: what is the essential information THEY need?

Treat the symptoms

Fear causes a physical reaction in us, as our brains signal to our bodies that we’re in some kind of danger. Our breathing becomes more rapid, our voices might shake, our palms sweat. It’s those ‘symptoms’ that many presenters fear displaying, so have a plan for handling those reactions. Know that no one can hear what you’re thinking, and are oblivious to your fear. Tell yourself you’re going to be great, remind yourself of past successes, and visualize how good it’s going to be to hear the congratulations afterwards (even if you don’t believe it). Tell yourself: You’ve GOT this! Remember no one knows what you were supposed to say, so if you forget something, just move on without apologies. If you forget something, it’s a good time to pause and ask, “any questions so far”? Don’t try to banish your nerves, channel them. It’s the same energy that will help fuel your performance. Expend a bit of it if you can just before your presentation (a quick walk, some deep knee bends and long, slow deep breaths).

Remember, the more presentations you do, the easier this will be. Don’t avoid speaking to your own ideas and your own capabilities. Remember how scary things were the first time you tried them, that you now do with ease. You can build this ‘muscle memory’ of success, one presentation, one briefing at a time!

Aileen Pincus is President of The Pincus Group Inc., an executive coaching firm offering training in presentation, speech, media and crisis communications. Free consultations at https://thepincusgroup.com 301 938-6990

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9634281

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Training Contract Awarded for FDIC

September 9, 2016
For immediate release
Contact: (301) 938-6990                    

Training Contract Awarded for FDIC

Pincus Group Awarded multi-year contract for FDIC Executives

(Washington DC)—The Pincus Group was awarded a 4-year contract with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) beginning in 2016. TPG will be offering ongoing training to FDIC executives in presentation and briefing skills,  and available to FDIC personnel nationwide.

The communication skills training will be conducted by The Pincus Group, a media training and crisis communications executive training firm in Silver Spring, Maryland and led by TPG President Aileen Pincus and TPG VP and Senior Trainer David Burnett.

“We’re thrilled to be working with FDIC’s outstanding personnel and are gearing up for this new, extended commitment with them,” Aileen Pincus said. “The agency has a track record of commitment to personnel development and we couldn’t be more pleased to be a part of that.”      

The multiple day trainings will be scheduled on an on-going basis at FDIC’s Arlington Headquarters beginning in the Fall of 2016.

The Pincus Group provides executive coaching for public and private sector clients around the world in media, speech, presentation and crisis communications. For more information contact info@thepincusgroup.com or visit our website at www.thepincusgroup.com

 

 

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