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Archive for October 2012

Storytelling Tip: Your message is more than the words you say

 

Storytelling Tip: Your message is more than the words you say
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Storytelling Tip: Your message is more than the words you sayThe words you use when developing your message and telling your story are important. But your message is a lot more than the words you use.

Your message also includes:

  • The optics of your story. That includes photos and other images you use in telling your story. We’ve become a very visual society. Limiting your message to words alone will limit its visibility and its appeal.
  • The tone of your story. What do you want to emphasize? Your professionalism? Your friendliness? Trustworthiness? The fact that you care? Your prices? Two companies in essentially the same business may tell their story quite differently because of the tone they choose.
  • Who you are and what you do. If you’re in business, the words you use to tell your story are usually about attracting our interest, getting us to check out what you do or what you sell. But who you are and what you do are equally important to your message. If our experience in doing business with you doesn’t match your words, we probably won’t be back. And instead of recommending you to our friends, we may warn them to stay away.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Presentation Tip: Skip the jokes, connect with your audience

 

Presentation Tip: Skip the jokes, connect with your audience
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Presentation Tip: Skip the jokes, connect with your audienceLooking for a joke to open your next presentation? Skip the joke. Concentrate instead on connecting with your audience.

I spent more than half of my 17 years on the corporate PR staff of one of the Baby Bell telephone companies (U S WEST) as a speechwriter.

I wrote speeches for two company presidents and the CFO. But at least once a week someone would call or drop by my office to ask me for a joke s/he could use to open a speech.

The conversation almost always went something like this:

Executive: “I’m giving a speech tomorrow. I need a joke. Do you have one I can use?”

Me: “Sure. What should it be about?”

Executive: “I don’t care. I just need a joke.”

Me (to myself): Sigh.

Speakers sometimes rely on an opening joke as an ice breaker to get the audience in the mood to hear what they have to say. But opening your speech with a joke may do more harm than good. What’s the problem? There are several:

  • Most of us can’t tell jokes very well. Opening with a joke you didn’t tell very well is a minus, not a plus.
  • Speakers often pick inappropriate jokes. You may think that off-color joke you shared with your buddies over lunch is funny. But it may offend at least some of the people in your audience. Don’t use it.
  • Speakers often use jokes that have nothing to do with the topic of their speech. It’s wasted time and can leave your audience wondering what your point was.

What do you do instead? The point is to connect with your audience, to get them to like you and trust that what you have to say is worth hearing.

You can do that with a simple hello. Don’t deliver a “speech.” Talk to your audience. Look around and make eye contact with people in the room. If you use humor — and you can use humor without telling jokes — make it relevant to the rest of your presentation. If appropriate, ask questions and invite responses from members of the audience.

Remember you’re speaking to other living, breathing human beings. Address them person to person. Don’t spend all your time looking at your notes or your slides. Look at the people in the room with you while you’re talking. Connect with them. Most of the time they’ll respond by connecting with you and listening to what you have to say.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Presentation Tip: Use props for visual support

 

Presentation Tip: Use props for visual support
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Presentation Tip: Use props for visual supportWant the rest of us to remember what you tell us during your presentation? Make it visual. And make it concrete.

One way to do both is to use props.

Giving an apple to the teacher is image all of us recognize — even if we haven’t ever done it.

So, some years ago, I had an executive who was giving a speech about supporting teachers place an apple on the lectern as he came up to speak.

He didn’t say anything about the apple. But everyone saw him put it there. And it was there, clearly visible to everyone in the audience, as he spoke.

When he got to his closing, he picked up the apple, mentioned the well-known tradition of giving an apple to your teacher, and — still holding the apple — made his pitch for supporting teachers.

A simple prop designed to pique the audience’s curiosity during the speech and help them remember the executive’s message when it was over. It worked because of its simplicity and its relevance to his message.

All of us know about using PowerPoint for visual support during a presentation — either because we’ve used it ourselves or seen others use it.

But props can serve the same purpose. And you can use them with our without PowerPoint.

A few things to keep in mind if you do use props: Make sure they reinforce your message. Make sure they don’t become a distraction. And make sure they aren’t dangerous.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Presentation Tip: Avoid Committing Death by PowerPoint

 

Presentation Tip: Avoid Committing Death by PowerPoint
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Presentation Tip: Avoid Committing Death by PowerPointCol. Mustard did it in the study with a PowerPoint presentation. Maybe was it Miss Scarlett in the conservatory. Or Professor Plum in the ballroom.

We know the murder weapon: PowerPoint. But who and where? They’re all over the place.

The sad fact is people are committing Death by PowerPoint in board rooms, conference rooms, hotel ballrooms and just about any place else you find an audience listening to a speaker.

PowerPoint can be a great tool for helping you tell your story when you’re making a presentation. But it’s gotten a bad name because so many speakers use it so badly.

Some tips that will help you avoid committing Death by PowerPoint when making your presentations.

Some PowerPoint Don’ts:

  • Don’t read your slides to your audience. They’ve already read them. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably spent some time reading to your kid(s). Good for you. But if you read to your audience during a presentation while they’re reading along, bad for you. This is the Number 1 cause of Death by PowerPoint.
  • Don’t fill your slides with words. My suggestion: No more than six bullets per slide and no more than six words per bullet. Those are maximums, not minimums. You need more words than that? Break them into multiple slides. You use that many words on every slide? Wake me up when you’re done.
  • Don’t use font sizes too small to be read. Any text on your slides should be readable by the people sitting in the back row.
  • Don’t use too many different fonts or too many font sizes. I suggest you limit your PowerPoint presentations to one of these fonts: Arial, Calibri or Times New Roman. Skip the unusual fonts. They can be fun. But they’re distracting. Most of them don’t look professional. And some of them are hard to read.
  • Don’t overuse bold, italics and underlining. They’re great for adding emphasis. But they can’t do their job if you use them too often.
  • Don’t use fancy animations and slide transitions. PowerPoint is loaded with text animations and slide transitions that bounce and roll and move up and down or side to side. Don’t use them. You want your audience to focus on your message, not the PowerPoint toys.
  • Don’t put light-colored text on light-colored backgrounds or dark-colored text on dark-colored backgrounds. The more contrast between the color of your background and the color of your text, the better.
  • Don’t make the room too dark. Turning down the lights so people can see your slides is okay. Turning off the lights so they can’t see you isn’t. You’re the star of your presentation. Your slides are the supporting cast. Not vice versa.

Some PowerPoint Do’s:

  • Use pictures, lots of pictures. I recommend putting an image on every slide. Okay, you may not succeed in putting an image on every slide. But word-only slides should be the exception, not the rule. Good pictures that fill an entire slide are powerful. They’ll jazz up your presentation. And make it more enjoyable and easier to remember. A slide with a big picture and three or four words can say more than a slide packed with verbiage.
  • Use PowerPoint as a roadmap, not a script. Every slide in your presentation should be there to help you make a specific point. And it should be there to help your audience remember it. A picture makes it easier for your audience to remember your message.  And your audience will enjoy your presentation more if you talk to them than if you read to them. Know what point you want to make when a given slide is on the screen. Tell us what it is. Then move on to the next slide.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

Presentation Tip: Focus on making a single point

 

Presentation Tip: Focus on making a single point
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Tips for Telling Your Story on the Experience Pros Radio Show

By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
www.JerryBrownPR.com

Presentation Tip: Focus on making a single pointWant your presentation to have maximum impact? Focus on making a single point that your audience will easily understand — and remember after you’re done speaking.

Your audience won’t memorize what you say. And, if you’re talking to them in person, they can’t hit the rewind or replay button to back your presentation up to watch it again.

So, it’s a good idea to keep it simple. And leave your audience with a single point they can remember and repeat.

Good PR is about creating memorable messages. It’s about creating and delivering a message so clear and compelling the rest of us will understand and remember it. Good presentations are about the very same thing.

You’ll need to share enough facts with us to explain what you’re telling us and make your message believable. But those facts are the supporting cast, not the star. Your message, the one thing you want us to remember and be able to repeat, is the star.

So, when making a presentation, focus on making a single point the rest of us will remember and be able to repeat.

That’s my two cents’ worth. What’s yours?

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He specializes in helping clients develop the content they need to tell their stories. He also helps them develop strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com.

Listen to Jerry’s Tips for Telling Your Story every Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros radio show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet.

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Jerry@JerryBrownPR.com | 303.594.8016