Presenting in 3D

3D is the big draw. Or maybe not, according to certain sources, but hopefully you can understand its draw.   So many childrens’ movies today are in 3D.  We want to feel like we can touch the movie, like we can just about take part in it. We see the need for interaction on the internet.  Marketing no longer comes solely from the company.  Today, the end user or consumer is one of the most important components in marketing.  Web 2.0 brings the user into the story to contribute content. We don’t want to be told the story- we want to be in it or in fact be the story.  But you already know that.

Now think of presentations. They, too, must be three dimensional.  As speakers, we need to be able to step out of our own dimension and into the audience. We need to touch our audience, to bring them into the experience.  This calls for a breakdown of barriers, which may come in the form of a lecturn or sometimes a dry speech.  Rather, we need to connect through an infectious smile or a hand gesture that helps illustrate the point.  A memorable story or example can help drive the point home.

Take a figurative and literal step closer to your audience and bring the presentation from its status as a necessary evil to an opportunity to share, enlighten, and connect with other people.   Take a breath.  Be human.  Highlight what we all have in common. Be loud enough to be heard, if you believe that what you have to say matters.  Be relevant to your audience with words and language they can not only understand but identify with and repeat, thus taking your message further.

Be the 3D blockbuster you have the potential to be.

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Tell ‘Em What You Want

I can’t guarantee that you’ll get what you want, but I do know how to increase your chances. Sometimes, it’s as simple as stating your intention.

This should be done with an amount of clarity and respect, but we need to let people know what we want.

I remember visiting  the bank with my mother, when she asked the bank teller for several paper quarter rolls.  She had several hundreds of quarters to roll in order to deposit them at the bank. These were quarters accumulated from many months of pay per use laundry machines. The teller asked my mother how many rolls she needed, and she said, “alot.” The teller cordially brought her about 10 rolls. I remember telling my mother at that point that she needed to be clear in telling people what she wants- 100 rolls. ‘Alot’ is a relative term. I never let my mother forget this incident, because I believe it provides a lesson for all areas of life. By communicating what we want, we are at least letting people know, and there’s a chance that once they know, they can help us achieve that goal.

With those in management positions, this can be a crucial element. There are actually those who manage teams but are unclear about indicating goals or measures of success. They expect work to be done by their teams, but there’s no clear understanding of what is supposed to be accomplished.

This seems like a pretty obvious point, establishing your goals, but it can often be overlooked in the anxiety ridden preparation for a presentation or speech, or even for a brief phone call.  Before preparing any remarks, always make sure to determine what your messages are, what your goals are for this communication, and then you can consider how to achieve them, depending on the audience. Figuring out what you want can often be a challenge, but it’s necessary in order to move forward with anything and everything you do.

The basic question to ask yourself is “what do I want?”   The rest is figuring out how to get it.

Say My Name

Do you want to earn points and make a good impression with someone?

You might want to connect with the person to whom you are speaking, perhaps an interviewer. Here’s a simple measure that goes a long way- say that person’s name.

I’m a pushover for people who say my name during a conversation. That small gesture makes a conversation, an interview, or really any communicative interaction that much more personal.  And whether it’s a presentation, a performance, a joke, or any other expression, our goal is most often to connect with our audience.

So what’s in a name? Well, our name is generally how we identify ourselves, and when you refer to someone by name during an exchange, you’re communicating to them that you are in this conversation, and you know to whom you’re speaking. You’re paying attention and trying to connect on some level. You want to share something specifically with them. And most of all, you’re validating their existence.

Some people often feel invisible for  a variety of reasons. When you use their name in conversation, you’re showing them that you’re not just thinking of yourself and what you want to say, but you’re listening to them, you’re communicating with them, and you’re engaging them in conversation.

Pay attention to your next conversation. See how it makes you feel when someone  refers to you by name, and try it out yourself when you speak with people.

The Power of Positive Speaking

I once bought a pair of eyeglasses at a branch of a national optical chain. After I took the glasses home, I returned to the store a few days later, in order to have the glasses adjusted.

I told the salesperson that the glasses felt too small, and she replied, “They’re not too small; your face is too big.”

After recovering from her comment, I decided that a) I don’t want to purchase anything from that store in the future, and b) there’s a way to say things, and this was not the way, especially if you value the importance of customer service and customer retention.

My friend is a kindergarten teacher. She told me how at lunch, one little girl took out a bag of grapes to eat, and her schoolmates told her that she wasn’t allowed to bring grapes to school. When my friend heard what was happening, she confirmed that indeed, “Grapes are an after school snack,” to which the little girl replied, “Oh, right, because grapes are made with nuts.” Cute story about how in today’s allergy-sensitive world, the kindergartener knew that nuts in school is a no-no.  Incidentally, the grape issue is that grapes are a choking hazard.

What struck me, though, was how the teacher referred to the grapes being an “after school snack,” rather than saying something along the lines of, “You aren’t allowed to bring grapes to school.”

There’s a way to say things, which has the ability to sound positive, to motivate others, and to empower.  

Many people don’t realize the potential power that words carry.  I have written about this before, and I believe it bears repeating.

Whether you are an executive, a manager or team leader, a sales professional, a teacher, or any other type of professional, you have the power to influence people at all levels.  Thinking about the way you deliver your message and the words you choose to use will give you the opportunity to shape that influence.  I’m not advocating always being super-positive. There are times that call for harsh words.  The key is to be mindful of your words.  We have very little control of our lives.  However, what we can do is be aware of what we say.  Words can crush confidence, kill a buzz, or build confidence and inspire.

We all can refer to great speakers.  We have heard quotes from motivational speeches given by myriad personalities as different as Winston Churchill, leader of the United Kingdom during the Second World War, and Vince Lombardi, renowned American football coach of the 1960’s.

If, as they say, knowledge is power, then awareness of our words is empowerment.

Picture this: Bollywood sells

I had just settled in for an hourlong bus ride.  I forgot my earphones, so I couldn’t use the time to listen to music or a podcast on my iphone. I settled back in the seat, and I noticed that the song on the radio had an Indian sound to it.  It made me think of a Bollywood movie.  A big song and dance extravangaza out of one of those movies from India, where more films are produced each year than in any other country.  Can you picture this scene?  Lots of people, dancing, smiling, singing. They are enrobed in bright oranges, pinks, greens and purples, and the musical number comes to a crescendo with a big choreographed finale.  I don’t know what makes these movies sell. If I had to guess, it might have something to do with the authenticity, the exotic flair, the bright colors and unique sounds. (unique perhaps to those of us not from India) You might not be a fan of it, but it draws you in, and you can’t look away.

Now if we peel ourselves away from this Bollywood scene, and we think about public speaking, we can draw some similarities. Yes, I’m being serious here. We want to connect to our audience. We want to draw them in and command their attention. We can list the facts, share our messages, give a big smile, and we’re done.  But let’s really bring them into it.  Try describing a situation, a story which illustrates a point.  And when you tell that story, perhaps something specific which you experienced first hand, take the audience back to that place and time with you.

Did you not prepare photos for your presentation? That’s ok.  Use words that paint a picture. Provide the audience with a virtual experience.  Describe the colors, the smells, the sounds, the sights in that story, using whatever is applicable and appropriate.  If you’re trying to persuade your audience of something, you want them to be in that place where you are, so that you can convince them to agree with you or mobilize to take action as a result of your speech.

No, don’t go and describe a Bollywood song and dance scene, when you’re tying to persuade a board of directors to approve the annual budget.  But share a memory of the past or a vision for the future.  Be detailed in your description.  Let ’em really taste  it.  And when you’ve hit that crescendo of what was or what could be, then bring home your point and make the sell.

And the Oscar Goes to…

I have always been mesmerized by the entertainment industry. I love to think about the process, the way a production comes together, with each person adding their part to create the finished product. And I don’t only mean the actors. I mean everyone, backstage, pre-production, and post-production, too.

I used to watch the Academy Awards from start to finish every year. This year, I was sleeping. (It was 3AM in Jerusalem when the ceremony aired live in Los Angeles.) There was a time when I would stay up to watch. But real life set in, and so did the need to get up early in the morning for work.
While I have more responsibilities now, I still love the performing arts and “The Biz.”
Today, I work with entertainers and artists, including actors, singers, and directors. I call them “my stars.” I help them prepare for auditions and participation in English language films, performing English songs, English media interviews, press conferences, and film production in other countries. I work with them to ensure they sound as intelligent in English as they do in their first language, Hebrew.

I also work with people who don’t work in the entertainment industry. And I also call them, “my stars.” When you deliver a presentation or a speech, you need to be a performing artist, no matter in what industry you work. If you are planning to speak publicly, what you need is passion. One could argue that passion is only needed if you are trying to persuade your audience to believe something or do something. But isn’t every speech a charge to action? At the very least, aren’t you trying to persuade the audience to pay attention to you? To listen? To remember your message?

When we have something to say, we hope to engage our listeners long enough to hear us, to pay attention. But passion? Really? Even if we are trying to convince coworkers to use more paperclips? Actually, yes.

Passion in our words helps convince our audiences that we believe that what we have to say is important, worth being heard, and perhaps even worth resulting in action. You may be ready to give an impassioned speech on the benefits of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, especially if you have seen it help a loved one, but how are you supposed to infuse passion into more mundane topics?

That’s where your star power comes to play. You may know that your point is important, but you may not feel impassioned about it. And that’s where we all, professional actors or not, employ a level of acting. Within moderation, a certain energy level, which we express through variation in volume, pitch, acceleration or decceleration of our rate of speech, hand gestures, facial gestures, to name a few, helps us to express passion. And that passion can often help us inspire, move, affect, and touch our listeners. I am sure that we don’t always feel passionate about our presentations. I know I don’t, at times. But if we can conjure our acting chops (skills) to infuse our presentations with some passion, that’s how we become stars.

So, I actually refer to all my clients as “my stars.” When we invest the right energies in our communication, the sky’s the limit.