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One of the greatest ways we can learn to improve our skills as a presenter is by watching others who excel and learning from them. Watching their strengths and their weaknesses helps us to develop a style of our own, honing in on what we like and dislike. I have made this a regular piece of my development process and hope that you will to.

Each week I will bring you a Presenter Highlight, this will be a step by step critique of a well-known presenter. It is important to remember that this critique is not meant to be critical of the presenter, rather it is designed to help me and you develop our own voice and style as we journey into the presentation atmosphere.

Here is how I will break down each presentation:
1. The strengths – We will look at what they do well, what was engaging, and what I would consider adapting into my own style.

2. The Weaknesses – This is a chance to acknowledge and learn from the areas of the presentation that were a distraction from the overall presentation. This is a chance for us to see some areas in someone else that we may also fall into and acknowledge and learn from those mistakes.

3. The Takeaway – This has less to do with delivery and more with a snippet of inspiration. In this section we will highlight a key takeaway shared by the presenter. A major thing that I’ve learned in my career is that great presenters are thought leaders, and great leaders are learners which is exactly what this section will help us do.

So, without further ado let’s get started.

One of my favorite presenters is author and speaker Erwin McManus. Erwin is the author of numerous books and a creative to his core. He has a laid-back style that draws in the heart of every audience member. Erwin has found a way to speak the creative language to every person and inspire them to embrace their “Artisan Soul.”

Our critique comes from his TEDx Hong Kong presentation titled “Artisan Soul.”

The Strengths
As Erwin opened the presentation, I was immediately drawn to his excited attitude. He had an infectious smile and vocal pace that made me lean in to listen and take note. Erwin created credibility as he told a story of a TEDx event that he had been at prior. This did not come across as bragging but showed that he was someone worth listening to. He then used this story as a means to break up the room and engage the audience with humor.

Quick Tip: Opening stories don’t have to be directly related to your presentation, sometimes they are simply a vehicle to help you connect with your audience and gain credibility.

As Erwin wrapped up his opening, he shifted from speaking at his audience to interacting with his audience. He did this through a call and response type moment. Asking questions and allowing his audience to raise their hands to engage. This allowed his audience to place themselves in the shoes of several different scenarios he was proposing.

Quick Tip: Use interactive moments as an opportunity to tee up your main ideas. By interacting with your audience in a way that they engage with your content before you ever present it directly, you are drawing them in for the entirety of your presentation.

As Erwin continued into the heart of his presentation his empathy was evident. Using hand motions and vocal tone to draw his audience into his content was powerful. You could tell that he really did believe in what he was saying and that he wasn’t just giving them lip service.

Quick Tip: If you don’t believe it, don’t say it. A fatal flaw a lot of presenters make is trying to fake passion. Don’t. Take the time to design a narrative that draws out your genuine passion.

The Weaknesses
Erwin is a dynamic and engaging speaker. However, his excitement and passion can at times be a distraction to his overall message. In this particular presentation he seemed at times to be a bit scattered even. His fast-paced vocal tone and short quick paces created an environment where it was hard to focus for the entirety of the presentation.

Quick Tip: While movement is important to engaging the entire audience, be sure your body movements are calculated and precise not a means of burning off nervous energy.

There were times throughout the presentation where I found myself disengaging in what was being shared. Even though I loved the content and felt that what he was sharing was valuable, I still found myself drifting. As I took a deeper look at why this was happening, I realized that each time it was during a transition. Erwin was an expert with his content but struggled to make the transitions between thoughts.

Quick Tip: Nail your transitions. Don’t tell yourself that you will just wing them, and it will be fine. I promise, it won’t be. Write them out, practice them ahead of time, and come prepared. Don’t risk losing your audience because of a short lapse in focus.

The Takeaway
The heart of this presentation was the idea that we are all artists. Erwin beautifully portrayed the fact that many of us believe we are not created and not inspired, but instead the reality is quite the contrary. Humans are the only species that is capable of creating the invisible and bringing to life our dreams because inside each one of us is an “Artisan Soul.” The question is, will we tap into it?

If you are interested in developing your presentation skills check out the Presentation Mentor online course. It is a 7-module course that gives an inside look into the proven framework that will not just elevate your skills, but propel you to greatness.

The post Presenter Spotlight | Erwin McManus appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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If you have been following the news at all I am sure you have come across President Trumps word slip debacle. If you have not seen the video the basics premise is that President Trump replaced the word “would” with “wouldn’t” when referencing Russian interference in the election. Let me be clear no matter how you feel politically that is not the topic of discussion today instead let’s focus on the principle of the mistake he made.

You see by switching up a single word President Trump completely changed the message he was presenting. As a result, he found himself in hot water and was forced to come back and clarify his statement.

As I watched this video showing a side by side comparison of the two sentences I was reminded of just how important every single word we select as a presenter is. In a recent critique of one of my presentations a mentor of mine reminded me that “words create worlds.” He spoke into the fact that I often use the word “things” to describe lists and then he told me this story.

He shared how when he first started out as a speaker he did not pay much attention to his words. He would spend the bulk of his time developing his overall story, being sure that it flowed well, and all of the main points were present. But when it came to his transitions he often used filler words to fumble his way through them. He shared that one day a mentor of his challenged him to take the extra time and focus on every word that went into his presentation. Whether it be a transition statement, a main idea, or a story this mentor encouraged him to intentionally place every word.

He took this advice to heart and started to put in the time to focus on every single word. It was amazing what happened next. He shared with me that he knew he was accomplishing what he had set out to do when a lawyer walked up to him at the end of a presentation. This lawyer looked him in the eye and said something along the lines of…

“When you first started I wasn’t the biggest fan, you didn’t seem to know what you were talking about. But today is a different story, every time you speak I can tell you have taken the time to think about your presentation and prepare. You see I deal in words for a living the nuances of them, the importance of them, and today you showed that you care about words to. That you have taken the time to create the perfect presentation using the perfect words.”

The reality is words really do matter. So often as presenters we spend all our time focusing on the big picture and never zoom in to the small details of our presentation. But it’s those small details that show we are willing to go the extra 10% for our audience. By taking the time to focus on each word and ensure it is right we will not only win over our fans but just like my mentor we will win over the skeptics. As a result we will inspire more of our audience to join in with our vision.

Try This: As you prepare for your next presentation write out a manuscript of what you will say. Then go back through and think about each word that is present in that manuscript. Think about whether it adds or detracts from your clarity and credibility then replace and edit where needed. I promise that taking this extra step will not just impress your fans but win over the skeptics.

Interested in learning more about your strengths and weaknesses as a presenter. Take our free Badge Assessment today to discover your Presentation Persona.

The post Understanding the Importance of Every Word appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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PowerPoint is one of the most popular tools for creating and delivering presentations, but a lot of people are still unaware of how to use it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

There are a ton of shortcuts you can use that’ll significantly reduce your prep time. But because there are so many, it’s tough to find the ones you’ll actually use when you need ‘em, so we created a cheat sheet of the most useful ones.

Bookmark this page and use it whenever you’re working in PowerPoint to ensure you’re maximizing your time and efforts. The first set of shortcuts are for PowerPoint while the second set of shortcuts are to be used with Keynote.

Create a new slide | Ctrl + M | Shift + ⌘ + N

Duplicate a selection or slide | Ctrl + D

Left align  | Ctrl + L | ⌘ + }

Right align | Ctrl + R | ⌘ + {

Center align | Ctrl + E | ⌘ + |

Bold format | Ctrl + B | ⌘ + B

Italic format | Ctrl + I | ⌘ + I

Underline | Ctrl + U | ⌘ + U

Create line break | Shift + Enter

Undo | Ctrl + Z | ⌘ + Z

Redo | Ctrl + Y | ⌘ + Y

Copy selection | Ctrl + C | ⌘ + C

Cut selection | Ctrl + X | ⌘ + X

Paste copied or cut selection | Ctrl + V | ⌘ + V

Select all objects | Ctrl + A | ⌘ + A

Cancel | Esc

Spellcheck | F7 | ⌘ + ;

Insert hyperlink | Ctrl + K

Stop or restart slideshow | S | Esc

Hide the pen/pointer | Ctrl + H | C

Choose a new shape | Alt + U

Group selected objects | Ctrl + G | ⌥ + ⌘ + G

Ungroup selected objects | Ctrl + Shift + G | ⌥ + Shift + ⌘ + G

Increase font size | Ctrl + ] | ⌘ + (+)

Decrease font size | Ctrl + [ | ⌘ + (-)

Select multiple objects | Shift + Left click | Click and drag across all items

Zoom in and out | Ctrl + Mouse wheel | ⌘ + >, ⌘ + <

View presentation from beginning | F5 | ⌥ + ⌘ + P

Open font dialog | Ctrl + T

Shortcuts are a quick and easy way to elevate your design skills and improve your overall presentation. Take the time to memorize them I promise it’s worth it.

Looking to elevate your presentation skills beyond a standard PowerPoint presentation? Then check out the Presentation Mentor Online course today.

The post A PowerPoint and Keynote Shortcut Cheat Sheet appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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A good story not only has the ability to increase audience engagement, but studies have shown that engaging stories increase information retention by 65-70%. That is a significant jump in comparison to the 5-10% retention that takes place when information is presented as statistics and facts.

With such compelling evidence in favor of implementing great stories into presentations, it is shocking that we don’t focus more on them.

Here are 4 fool proof steps to creating an engaging and impactful story.

Set the Stage.
This is a vital part of every great story especially when presenting. Setting the stage draws your audience into the story helping transport them to the scene of your story. Failing to embrace this step will leave your audience disconnected from the beginning and cause your story to fall flat.

Quick Tip: Setting the stage is like painting a scenery. It takes time and attention to detail. As you begin to develop your story, don’t skimp on what may seem like meaningless details. These could be the exact pieces that draw your audience in and get their buy in.

Create the Tension.
Tension creates the felt need of your story. Think of a great novel you have ever read or exciting movie you have watched- there is one thing they all have in common: tension. Tension is the part of your story that draws your audience to the edge of their seats. It is the way to encourage your audience to embrace the felt need that you are presenting. Without tension your story will come across as inauthentic.

Quick Tip: When creating a tension moment make it emotional. Emotion drives humans and it actually increases memory and accuracy. As a presenter it is easy to skimp on the emotion but don’t. Be sure you embrace and exude whatever emotion you are trying to convey.

Build the Plot.
To be completely honest, this is the area that I struggle most with when it comes to telling a great story. For whatever reason when it comes to fully developing the plot, I struggle to really build the landscape. This can derail even the best stories. Building your plot hinges on living in the above-mentioned tension and allowing your audience to live in it with you. As you develop more and more of the story you must tell everything through the lens of the tension. This will keep your audience guessing and keep them intrigued as to what will happen next.

Quick Tip: If you are looking to develop your ability to build a great plot, spend time watching any tv show written by Shonda Rhimes. She is a masterful storyteller and has mastered the art of leaving her audience in the tension.

Stick the Landing.
You have set the stage, created tension, and built the plot. But your story is not complete until you stick the landing. One error I see many presenters make is that they neglected to think about how to finish their story. They followed the above steps but have found themselves at the end of their story with no way out. Sticking the landing is all about being prepared, knowing how to not only end, but transition out of your story. If you are unable to wrap your story back around and tie it into the overall presentation, then rather than increasing memory and accuracy you have muddied the waters and left your audience wondering why you wasted their time.

Quick Tip: Sticking the landing relies on a final tie in. Look for a way to finish your story by tying in your overall presentation point. Having a clear through line to wrap up your story will not only help you to resolve the story but it will help your audience see why the story was important.

Great stories are a powerful tool for every presenter but they can be difficult to get right. Take the time to prepare. Even if you have told the same story 100 times to your friends, it is different when you are in front of an audience. Rehearse your story and be ready for whatever might come your way.

Looking for more tips and tricks on how to be a great presenter? Check out the Presentation Mentor online course to start taking the mystery out of presentations.

The post 4 Steps to Telling a Great Story appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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One thing that has been proven time and time again in regard to information retention and learning is that the more interactive your presentation is, the more likely people are to learn and retain the information.

Why then do we resort to a lecture style format over and over again where we talk at our audience rather than have a conversation with our audience. There are a few quick tips we can engage with to ensure our next presentation is not just informative but also interactive.

Tip 1 – Ask questions.
If you want your presentation to be interactive, you have to give your audience a chance to interact. The simplest way that you can do this is simply by asking questions. Whether you ask multiple choice or call and response type questions, allowing your audience a chance to answer will automatically engage them in what you have to offer.

Tip 2 – Give away free stuff.
Here is the reality: everyone loves free stuff! I cannot tell you the number of chapsticks, koozies, and frisbees (all worth less than a dime) that I have been randomly given at some festival or fair. It doesn’t matter if you give away a trip to Tahiti or a $0.10 branded pen, the act of giving something away will help your audience interact with you ultimately resulting in an increase in information retention.

Tip 3 – Allow time for open mic.
Warning do not do this if you are not comfortable guiding a conversation and taking back control of the room! However, if you do feel comfortable navigating open mic this is a great chance for real time feedback as to how your presentation is going. It allows you to hear from your audience and connect directly to what they are thinking and feeling.

Tip 4 – Use live polling.
Another great way to receive real time feedback is through live polling. There are numerous apps on the market today that allow your audience to answer polls and respond to questions from the convenience of their smartphone. This can be extremely helpful when you find yourself in front of a large crowd in particular.

Tip 5 – Get them talking.
One of my favorite ways to create an interactive presentation is by encouraging my audience to engage with each other. This can be as simple as saying, turn to your neighbor and discuss x. As simple as it may seem, it’s a great way to get your audience interacting and sharing their opinions as well as learning from each other. One tip for this type of interactive: make sure you participate, it will allow you to gauge how much time is needed and when it’s time to move on.

Tip 6 – Allow for Q&A.
I know that this is not always possible and sometimes our audience does not lend itself to Q&A, but whenever possible, I recommend leaving time for a good old fashioned question & answer time. Q&A allows your audience an outlet to wrap up any questions they had. With all their questions answered, they can leave chewing on the information you just gave them, rather than trying to come to a conclusion for their big question.

Interaction is a crucial part of information retention. It allows your audience a chance to engage with you as the presenter as well as learn in a more hands on way. Try one of the above in your next presentation, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Interested in learning more about your presentation style and how you can help play to your strengths? Check out our free online Badge Assessment and find out what your presentation persona is right away.

The post How to Use Interactives in Your Next Presentation appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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When it comes to presentations, there is often one style that comes to mind: lectures. You know, when the presenter stands in front of his or her audience and proceeds to speak on a topic for the next 45 minutes. This format is most often used when presenting a pitch or a keynote address. But there is format of presentations that can be just as effective. In fact, according to a study completed in 2015, this format has actually been proven to the more effective than the traditional lecture. That format is the Panel Discussion.

The panel discussion is most often utilized when you have multiple experts available to present on a topic or when you are looking for open debate about a subject. While the panel discussion has been proven to be the most effective way to increase information retention and to increase audience participation, it doesn’t come without a risk.

You see, the key to a great panel discussion is a great moderator which is no small task to find or to be. Here are a few keys I have learned along the way that will help you moderate your next panel.

It’s all about the seating.
The first panel that I ever facilitated was a miserable failure. People didn’t talk, the audience was disengaged, and we were counting down the minutes till we could call it a day and slink off stage. When I went back to evaluate why that discussion was such a failure I realized that I had made one fatal flaw, and it took place before anyone stepped on stage. I had set up the chairs in such a way that they were in a straight line. I mean so straight and perfectly measured that geometry teachers would be impressed. I thought this would create a clean and professional look, which it did. But it also created a barrier to conversation. No one could talk or interact because when they looked to their right and to their left all they could see was their immediate neighbor’s shoulders.

The next time you are going to employ a panel discussion, learn from my mistake. Rather than worry about the overall look and feel of the stage create a space that is conducive to discussion. When I am setting up panel discussions now, I try to recreate a living room feel. This allows the audience to feel like they are part of the discussion thus increasing engagement and attention.

Consider This: When it comes to setting up your “living room” consider going so far as to adding living room furniture. Rather than sitting on a stool sit on couches or comfortable chairs. This will further the welcoming feeling and subsequently boost the audience’s connection.

Begin with the end in mind.
As a panel facilitator it is extremely important that you are paying attention at all times. It is your job to tie each participant’s answers together and create the through line of the presentation. The best way that I have found to ensure this happens is to begin with the end in mind. Before each panel, I decide where I want the discussion to land. I keep this idea in the back of my mind at all times and am always steering the discussion in this direction. The art of steering discussion does take time to learn but the more panels you moderate the better you will get.

Inevitably you will have one person on the panel who feels like they are not even in the same room as far as their content. When this person engages don’t panic, just be ready to tie whatever they say back in to the overall narrative, even if it is a stretch.

Consider This: Panels are meant to be discussion based so don’t allow one person to monopolize the time and steal the show. It is important to have a broad base of ideas and opinions that feel balanced overall.

Embrace the silence.
One mistake I see panel moderators make time and time again is that they refuse to embrace the silence. As soon as a question hangs in midair for more than 10 seconds they immediately jump in with an answer or move on to the next question. The reality is, it’s not as awkward as it feels. Silence is ok; it’s just a sign that people are thinking and formulating an answer. A good discussion is based on good answers and you must allow people the space needed to come up with those answers.

Remember, this is a fine line. If you allow for too much dead air the discussion will drag and you will begin to lose your audience. As the moderator you must find this balance and walk the line. All it takes is one question to spark the conversation and your panel will take off, don’t risk smothering that discussion because you were afraid of waiting.

Consider This: A great way to judge how long you should wait is by simply counting to 15 in your head after each question. For me I use the old childhood counting method of adding “one thousand” after each number to ensure I don’t rush.

Prepare, prepare, prepare.
Just because the panel discussion is not your typical lecture presentation does not mean you can throw preparation out. In fact, this format requires more preparation than the traditional lecture style as you are responsible not just for your content but also ensuring that your participants have all that they need to prepare as well.

Preparation starts by creating the questions you will use to facilitate the discussion. This is the very first thing that I send once someone has accepted the invitation to speak. Don’t neglect this step or wait till you are a week out from the discussion. You want to ensure your participants have ample time to digest and research their answers. While this may feel like an extra step it will help reduce dead time and keep the discussion moving once you are into the discussion.

The second step to preparation falls solely on your shoulders as the moderator. As I said earlier you must be ready to recap and pull the whole discussion together and that means you must know your stuff. When getting ready to lead a discussion, I prepare almost the same amount of content that I would if I was presenting alone. This ensures that if things go sideways I am ready to pull things back together and still deliver a useful presentation.

Consider This: Outlining your panel discussion the same way you would outline a lecture provides a backup plan if you are not getting the answers you had hoped for.

Panel discussions are a great resource for a presentation. They improve engagement and help increase the attention span of your audience. But they come at a cost. Don’t assume that a panel discussion means less work, instead put in the time to prepare and create space for great discussion. If you do, your audience will thank you!

Looking for help on an upcoming presentation? The Ethos3 team would love to get you the resources you need to make a splash in your space. Contact us today for more info.

The post How to Facilitate a Great Panel Discussion appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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Imagine standing on stage in front of a room full of 1000 middle school students. There they sit squirming, laughing, and poking their neighbor. You look in the back of the room to see the countdown clock ticking down and 50 adults staring at you waiting to see if you will sink or swim. The next few minutes are crucial, you have prepared your presentation, created your slides, and practiced for what seems like hours. You go to speak and all of a sudden everything you have practiced is gone. Your mind is blank, and your worst nightmare is becoming a reality.

This scenario, was once my reality, and what I learned in that moment forever shaped my presentation career. Because when your mind goes blank and you are unsure what to say next, it’s time to improvise.

Improvisation can be one of the most useful tools in a presenters tool belt. It not only allows you to recover in the midst of a brain blank, but it also allows you to adapt on the fly when your audience throws you a curve ball. Here are 3 tools I learned that day that helped me not only survive but thrive as I improvised.

Breathe – Take a minute.
This may seem silly but when it comes to adapting on the fly it is vital that you start by taking time to breathe. When we find ourselves in a tense situation our body naturally responds in one of three ways fight, flight, or freeze. According to psychology today our body is hardwired to respond to stressful situations naturally. If you assess the situation to be something you can handle you respond with fight, if you assess the situation to be something that will over power you your response is to flight, and when you assess that a situation is hopeless and that no matter what you do your response will be futile the natural response is to freeze in essence accepting your fate.

However here is where breathing comes in. When you take a minute to breathe and collect your thoughts you are much more in control of your response rather than allowing your human nature to kick in. This allows you to harness your natural reaction and choose what you will do next. This does not need to be a long drawn out pause, instead a quick minute where you quiet the noise and gather your thoughts. Sometimes as little as a 2 second pause can be all you need to set yourself up for success.

Read the Room.
It is easy when on stage to get tunnel vision where we become so focused on one point in the room or one person that they become all we can see. As this happens we lose sight of what is going on around us and what our audience is doing. As a presenter with nearly a decade of experience speaking to audiences of all ages I know the importance of reading a room rather than zeroing in. When we are improvising this becomes even more vital. Look at your audience, see how they react to each word you say pay attention to their eye contact, body language, and general demeanor. This will give you real time feedback on if your content is hitting the mark or missing all together, which leads us to our next point.

Trust your gut and be flexible.
Here is what I have seen time and time again in my presentations. If I put in the time to practice and learn my content it will come back to me even if my mind is blank. It may not feel like it but trust me the same is true for you. However, you have to be flexible, improvising is all about rolling with the punches and trusting your instinct. If you miss a section of your content it’s ok, don’t get flustered instead look for a way to loop it back in later in the presentation.

Structure is vital, in fact research shows that audiences found structured content 40% easier to understand than freeform information. However, in the midst of an improv situation structure must shift and move with the presenter.

Standing on that stage in front of 1000 middle school students will forever be burned into my memory. But by implementing these three tools I was able to deliver a powerful presentation that resulted in an invite back the following year. Whether you are speaking to preschoolers or adults these three tools apply and will help you get out of the tightest binds.

If you are interested in more powerful tools to improve your presentation skills check out our presentation mentor online course today or comment below and one of our team would love to help you connect to all of our Ethos3 resources.

The post What to do When your Mind Goes Blank appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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One of my biggest fears as a presenter is not being taken seriously, this fear has often caused me to shy away from humor and laughter in my presenting which has resulted in a perception that I am only a serious presenter and unable to break into the fun field. For the longest time I embraced that perception and refused to change but the more time I spent researching the impact of laughter the more I realized how vital humor is to a fun engaging presentation.

According to a Pew Research Poll, they found that people who watched more humorous news shows such as the Daily Show or the Colbert Report exhibited a higher level of news retention compared to those who watched the more traditional networks like CNN, NBC, or Fox News.

This was a wake up call for me as it became it abundantly clear how important humor is for every presentation, and as presenters we must learn to implement it into every presentation. Here are three easy tips to not just implement humor in your next presentation but leverage it for maximum impact.

Be Intentional
For me this is the most important tip I could ever offer as well as implement myself. The reality is most of us are not Stephen Colbert or Trevor Noah and humor might not come naturally. That is why we have to be intentional in the planning process. When I work with presenters I call these intentional points of humor “Aisle of Refuge.” What I am encouraging them to do is look for the exact right moment to implement humor into a presentation which will act as a quick spot of refuge for the audience, a chance for them to breathe, relax, and process the information you have been presenting. These aisles of refuge allow your audience to reconnect and buy you precious moments of attention span.

For me being intentional has become so important that I actually write humor into my outline, whether it be a joke, funny story, or humorous picture I make a note of it in my outline sometimes going so far as to putting it in a different color so that I cannot miss it. This takes practice and may not feel natural at first, but I promise the more intentional you are with your humor the more fun and engaging your presentations will become.

Be Balanced
A fatal flaw when inserting humor into a presentation is a lack of balance. I started this post by sharing that one of my biggest fears is not being taken seriously, well if you don’t learn to balance your humor that fear will become a reality. Too much humor and you sound like a class clown at a frat party, to little humor and you risk coming across as unapproachable and overly serious.

I have found the best way to find the balance, especially when first starting to implement humor is to simply ask. I always run my “aisles of refuge” past a trusted advisor before trying them on stage. I ask for honest feedback and make real adjustments based on that feedback. It is a fine line to walk when it comes to balancing your humor, don’t risk tipping the scales because you are too proud to ask for feedback.

Be Yourself
Being yourself is vital when it comes to implementing humor into your next presentation. I will never forget the first time I tried to insert humor into a presentation. I got on stage and told a joke that I had heard one of my friends share at a party. It was so well received when they delivered the punch line I thought to myself there is no way I can fail. So, I stood up and delivered the joke word for word, using the same expressions, the same hand motions, and of course the same vocal impressions. Rather than the roar of applause I was met with blank stares and a silence so quiet you could hear a pin drop. In that moment I realized I had made a fatal flaw. I tried to be someone I’m not.

Learn from my mistake be yourself, if the humor you are trying to insert feels weird to you, chances are it will feel fake to your audience so don’t use it. Find what makes you laugh and tweak it in a way that will translate to a room. Because the only thing worse than an overly serious presenter, is an inauthentic presenter.

Creating a fun and engaging presentation starts with laughter, not only does it increase information retention, but it makes you relatable as a presenter. It may feel awkward at first but push past the awkward, be intentional, be balanced, and be you. I promise it is worth it.

In order to be you, you have to first understand who you are. Take our badge assessment to understand the type of presenter you are hardwired to be.

The post How to Create a Fun and Engaging Presentation appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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I was recently working with some college graduates when on a break in the training I overheard one of the graduates ramble off an old movie quote “Coffee is for Closers!” After a good laugh it struck me. This quote has never been more important than it is today. With a workforce that is inundated with college educated millennials ready to accept lower paying roles for a chance to climb the corporate ladder, the ability to close deals has never been more important.

The reality is, closing the deal hinges on making a great sales pitch, and whether you think you are a presenter or not it is important that you be prepared when the opportunity comes to close the deal.

Vision Leads Numbers Follow
The biggest mistake I see people make in their sales pitches are that they lead with numbers. They come out guns blazing with all the facts and figures as to why the customer should purchase their product. Before you know it, the client is bored and looking ahead to their next meeting. If you want to close the deal it starts by sharing great vision as to why your potential customer should buy into your product or company.

Vision is exciting and allows you a chance to show your passion. A great way to bring your vision to life is through story. Whether it be a testimonial, case study, or personal experience stories will help you customer see your product in real life and begin to imagine themselves as a part of that reality.

Know Your Numbers
I know that I just told you that numbers don’t lead, but that does not negate the importance of knowing your numbers. By knowing your numbers, you not only sound like you are prepared and know what you are talking about, but you also leave yourself room to negotiate. There is nothing more unprofessional than someone who stumbles over their business numbers when asked a question.

When it comes to knowing your numbers be sure to not just study the highlights. If you only know the numbers that paint your company in a good light you are leaving yourself open to be caught flat footed if your client asks about something you are unaware of. By knowing the not so favorable numbers you prepare yourself to paint those negatives in a positive light.

Don’t Take No for an Answer
I have spent some time learning from sales leaders at Quicken Loans. With thousands of sales men and women quicken loans trains each of their employees in the “Art of ARPing.” ARP stands for Acknowledge, Respond, Pivot. This simple three step process will revolutionize your next sales pitch when it comes to not taking no for an answer.

When a potential customer utters those frustrating words, I’m not interested, your first step is to acknowledge their concern. Make them feel like they have been heard and show empathy for their reasons for saying no. Then comes the response, this is your chance to hone in on their concerns and address them. In this phase it is vital that you pin point their largest concern and really address that concern from every angle. The goal of your response is to ease their fears and draw them back into the sale. Then finally you pivot, during this phase you take a hard turn back to the vision that you started with leading them to the answer yes rather than no.

With these three tips in hand you are equipped to not just close one sale but in the words of Alec Baldwin “Always Be Closing!” Sales are a tricky thing, they may not feel like a presentation, but that is exactly what they are.

If you are interested in adding more tools to your sales presentation tool belt head check out our Presentation mentor online course today.

The post How to Make a Strong Sales Pitch appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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One thing that every presenter will face in their career is a tough critic. Whether you are speaking to a room full of business professionals or an auditorium full of high schoolers there will always be at least one critic that is willing and waiting to give you their opinion about how you did.

The first tough critic I faced left me feeling disheartened as if I had not done the job I had been hired to do. Though that moment was difficult it was also one of the most impactful moments in my presentation career. It taught me how to accept critique and grow from it rather than allow it to tear me down. That day I learned one very important reality.

There is a difference between a Coach and a Critic, and every presenter must learn how to not just tell the difference, but also respond to each type.

Meet the Critic
The critic could also be known as the heckler. This is the person in the audience that from the minute you walk on stage is looking for ways to discredit or disprove what you are sharing. They often look for every possible mistake that you make and are ready to jump on it when they spot one.

Let’s face we have all met someone like this in our lives, but when we decide to stand in front of an audience and share our ideas we open ourselves up to even more critics, and criticism can wreak havoc on our mental states. In a recent blog post I came across this quote which sums up perfectly the damage that can be caused by criticism it said “Most psychologists agree that criticism does not lead people to change behavior. Instead it creates anger and defensiveness on the part of the person criticized. Communication between the parties is shackled, and positive relationships impeded.”

This is exactly what criticism can do. That is why when you spot a critic it is time to put up your shield and protect yourself against damaging critique. One of the best ways to do this is by early detection. As a presenter you must open your eyes open to those people that are just looking for ways to pick you apart, and then be ready to let their critique slide off your back.

Now let me be clear there is always something we can learn, even from the toughest critic. But what I’m recommending is that you must decipher the constructive criticism from the damaging critique and pull out the data without the emotion.

Meet the Coach
The coach is similar to the critic in that they are always looking to help you improve, but there is one giant difference between the coach and the critic. The coach is your biggest fan. They are rooting for you all while pushing you to improve your skills. In a article I saw recently it described this way, “Coaching is designed to improve performance, criticism is designed to unload anger.”

As a presenter it is vital to have a coach in your corner. This is someone that you can trust and that you know has your best interest in mind. When a coach delivers feedback, you will feel safe in taking it to heart, because you know they care about you and want to see you win.

Improving your skills as a presenter requires honest feedback, however to much criticism can leave a person paralyzed and frustrated. The best presenters have found coaches to stand beside them and help them develop. They have learned to silence the critic’s and listen to their coaches. When executed properly you set yourself up for a healthy pipeline for growth setting you up to succeed as not just a presenter but as an overall leader.

If you are looking for a to hone your skills and develop as presenter check out our new training programs at presentationmentor.com.

The post How to Handle Tough Feedback – Coach vs. Critic appeared first on Ethos3 - A Presentation Design Agency.

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