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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

Short Attention Span

posted this on Friday, April 19, 2013 at about 10am.
Bacon Chocolate Short Attention Span

I have the hardest time paying attention during lectures. I hated school for this very reason. I tend to think that most people feel the same way.

Why do people use a PowerPoint as an opportunity to lecture and not have a discussion.

When I lived in Salt Lake City, I would go The Off Broadway Theater quite a bit to see their improv troop Quick Wits (now called Laughing Stock). One of the games they would play was SAS (Short Attention Span) Theatre. In this game, each of the actors was only allowed to say a certain number of words until another actor said something. Usually they were only allows to say 1, 3 or 5 words, for example.

I wish that people giving PowerPoint Presentations adhered to this policy.

Recently I sat through a couple of laborious presentations where I was told all the reasons I should buy a product from the company, but there was no interaction. They may very well have a good product, but because I was so bored, I couldn’t see what was in it for me. It may be a good idea for you to figure out if you are teaching or preaching.

I have no doubt that I talk too much when I am trying to have a conversation, so I may be a hypocrite here, but don’t do what do, do what I say. :)

Boring events are boring for a reason

posted this on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at about 2pm.

Today, I sat in a chamber of commerce event. Most chambers across the country conduct annual economic forums and this chamber was no different.

During the meeting today, there were three key observations that I had that reaffirmed why I do not like meetings like this.

Sponsors are Boring

When an event like this has a main sponsor (or a few of them) the sponsors have an opportunity to talk about themselves. So often, when attending events like this, I have to endure the sponsor droning on about how great they are and how many wonderful things they are doing.

I know they paid for the opportunity to speak, but do they have to read from their notes for five minutes? How about they say something funny and then say, “You’re not here to listen to me so, I’m done, enjoy!”

Sponsors are Too Self-serving

Usually, these types of events are designed to provide something of great value to the business community. Chambers of commerce are designed to help the business community as a whole and this particular chamber does a very good job at that. However, the sponsors only care about adding new customers to their lists.

One of the main sponsors provided a gift card for $150 (I won’t name their name, but you might be able to guess from the picture on this post.) When it was announced as a gift card, someone from the un-named company shouted, “For new customers.”

Rather than actually giving back like the chamber does, it was clear, they just wanted to offer a deal to gain new customers. Of course, they did have a deal for existing customers… if they bought new services.

So, it really wasn’t a gift card but an advertised deal (a coupon).

It prompted a tweet from me:

There is nothing that says, “We don’t care about current customers” more than having deals for new customers only.

Presentations are Boring

Presentations are not boring because of subject matter. They are boring because presenters are boring.

Sometimes I wonder if the presenters are intentionally trying to put the audience to sleep. Today, there were a few presentations where the slides were overly complicated and more reading from notes than looking at the audience. Some actually took a little time to look up from their notes when the concept was simple enough they could remember a few words ahead.

Passion doesn’t require notes, teleprompters or slides. It just requires an understanding of what you believe.

The Bright Side

The keynote address today was well done. In this case, the scheduled keynote presenter was stuck because of a cancelled flight. They tried to put him on Skype but that failed. However, the replacement speaker was well versed in the presentation and didn’t use notes at all which meant he looked at us the entire time. The slides were a bit complicated but he did a great job helping us focus on the important parts. The presentation had the potential of being boring because it was about economics (maybe my threshold is too low) but the presenter did a good job keeping the audience’s attention (including mine).

I think that the experience I had today shows that making a potentially boring presentation great is really an art. Most people don’t grasp that and fail to properly prepare.

Are you preaching or teaching?

posted this on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at about 12pm.
Martin Luther King Jr.

When it is time to present something to an audience, do you find yourself teaching them or preaching to them? It is very hard, sometimes, to draw the distinction, but here is a little unasked for advice.

  • If you are talking more than you are asking for input, you are preaching.
  • If your audience isn't taking very many notes or aren't even nodding their heads, you are preaching.
  • If you are having a hard time getting audience response, you are preaching
  • If you rely on a PowerPoint presentation too much, you are preaching.

I have endured countless presentations where there is no discussion, no interaction, no fun. How can anyone survive in business today without understanding the simple dos and don'ts of a simple presentation?

Imagine if you could pattern your speaking style after a great preacher? Think about what that do and say to inspire? How many slides does their PowerPoint deck have?

So, to help a little, here are six key points to look at when presenting:

  1. If you use PowerPoint, it should be simple and to the point. Too much text that people have to read or too many lines and drawings cause for people to have to think too much about what you are trying to say.
  2. Don't read, be empassioned. If something requires a reading, have it memorized. If teaching a small class, give a handout and have someone from the class read it for you. People don't want to watch you read your words.
  3. Make it applicable to the audience. Remember who you are talking to. Don't give technical jargon to people that don't understand or care about. Don't make a sales pitch when you are trying to teach a principle.
  4. Make it credible. If you use facts, use references. If you quote someone, don't pretend that you came up with the idea. People will respect you more if they know that you researched it and not wondering if you just made it all up.
  5. Be enthusiastic. Nobody wants to listen to someone who doesn't appear to care about what he is speaking. If you aren't excited, your audience will know.
  6. Above all, get involved with the audience. Engage them in discussion. Ask questions. Invite humor (as long as it is on track with the conversation). Don't get too uptight.

The best teachers in the world are those that help students learn for themselves... they don't give the students all the answers. The best teachers encourage self-reflection and thought. They allow the audience to draw inferences and conclusions and then encourage them to act on those thoughts.

As an exercise, take some time to analyze presentations you watch. Look at the presentations and figure out what you like and what you don't like. Then practice the behaviors you find most appealing.

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