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Storytelling Tip: End Strong

 

Storytelling Tip: End Strong
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s storytelling tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show

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

Storytelling Tip: End strongWe’ve all heard that it’s important to grab your audience right out of the chute with a strong beginning. But you need a strong ending, too — especially when you’re telling your story in front of an audience.

Your closing is the last thing your audience will hear. So, give them something to remember.

If you want your audience to pay attention to what you say, you need to grab their attention at the outset. But don’t stop there. Keep them interested. And end strong. A strong close gives your audience something to think about on their way out.

Your audience is most likely to remember what you say at the opening and the close of your presentation. So start with a bang and end with a bang.

Some suggestions for ending strong:

  • End with a story that makes your main point. Stories are powerful. And putting a strong closing story in the longer story you tell with your presentation will help drive your point home.
  • Summarize your main points. Better yet, add a reason why the points you made are important to your audience. You’ve told us what you want us to know in your presentation. Close with the so what.
  • Engage our emotions. Stories that appeal to our emotions are more memorable than stories based purely on logic. So, close with an emotional appeal if it fits your story.
  • Surprise us. Our brains are hard wired to pay attention to things that surprise or startle us. It’s a great way to grab your audience’s attention up front. It’s also a good way to get our attention as you close. “That little boy I just told you about . . . the one who struggled with (fill in the blank)? That was me. And here’s what my struggle taught me . . .”
  • Deliver a call to action. You’ve told us what you want us to know. Now, what can we do about it?

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

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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 10:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

Presentation Tip: Turn your story into an Indiana Jones movie

 

Presentation Tip: Turn your story into an Indiana Jones movie
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s Storytelling Tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show
Listen to the Radio Version

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

Presentation Tip: Turn your story into an Indian Jones movieWant to do some research for your next presentation? Watch one of the early Indiana Jones movies. And then use it as a template for what you say.

Here’s the formula: Once the action starts, Indiana Jones goes from one heart-thumping, hold-your-breath-because-he’s-about-to-die episode to another. And as soon as he narrowly escapes the danger he’s in and you think you can relax and take a deep breath, you’re pulled into the next he’s-done-for-sure-this-time action. And it keeps your attention right up to the closing credits.

In the Indiana Jones movies, the action revolves around Indiana Jones, his female lead or someone else he cares about being in immediate, seemingly insurmountable danger.

I’m not suggesting you put your audience in jeopardy — real or imagined. But you do want to find ways to re-engage their interest and their emotions at regular intervals.

Here’s how John Medina puts it in his book Brain Rules (with a few side notes from me):

  •  “Our brains don’t pay attention to boring things.” (And your audience won’t pay attention to you if you’re boring.)
  • “The more attention the brain pays to a given stimulus, the more elaborately the information will be encoded — and retained.” (Want us to remember what you’re saying? If all you’re using is your voice and you’re droning on and on and on, our butts may still be in our seats but our minds will be somewhere else.)
  • “Novel stimuli — the unusual, unpredictable, or distinctive — are powerful ways to harness attention.” (All that predictable stuff you’re tempted to say? It’s probably boring. For the problem with that, check out the first bullet point.)
  • “The brain remembers the emotional components of an experience better than any other aspect.” (A well-constructed, purely logical argument may be difficult to rebut. But it’s also hard to remember.)
  • “The most common communication mistakes? Relating too much information, with not enough time devoted to connecting the dots. Lots of force-feeding, very little digestion. This does nothing for the nourishment of the listeners.”
  • “Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion.” (Find a way to re-engage your audience every 10 minutes. Good anecdotes and examples are two ways to do that.)

Think of your story as a roller coaster. It starts with a tension-filled climb to that first big adrenaline rush as you plummet down the first big drop-off. A good opening is like that . Grabs you right from the beginning. That first drop sends your stomach up toward your forehead, grabs your attention and gets your heart rate up. But if that’s all there is, it’ll be a pretty boring ride from there. See bullet one for the problem with that. That great opening you have? Super. But if it’s all you’ve got to grab our attention, you’ll lose us long before you’re done talking. Have fun. And help your audience fun. Because if they’re having fun, they’ll pay attention. And remember.

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 10:05 a.m., Mountain Time, on the Experience Pros Radio Show on KLZ 560AM in Denver or at www.560thesource.com on the Internet. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

Presentation Tip: Present Naked

 

Presentation Tip: Present Naked
Today’s tip from JerryBrownPR’s storytelling tips on the Experience Pros Radio Show

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

Presentation Tip: Present NakedThe next time you speak to an audience consider presenting naked.

Don’t worry. You can keep your clothes on. Presenting naked is a term used by Garr Reynolds in his latest book, The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides.

As he describes it, “presenting naked means connecting and engaging with an audience, whether three people or three thousand, in a way that is direct, honest and clear.”

How do you do that? Don’t deliver a “speech.” Have a conversation with your audience.

If you have the option of doing so, get out from behind the lectern and move around. Make eye contact. Do everything you can to break through that invisible wall separating speaker and audience.

Be human. Be vulnerable. Be yourself.

Fear of speaking in front of an audience is a common phobia. The fear comes from viewing the experience as a performance. If you need to perform, it’s important not to make mistakes.

So, don’t perform. Talk with your audience. That doesn’t mean you have to engage in a two-way conversation, although that’s a good idea if your material lends itself to a dialogue.

“Think of your presentation as a ‘large conversation’ instead of a performance or speech,” Reynolds suggests in his book. That’s good advice.

Having a conversation with your audience isn’t about winging it. You need to prepare. You need to know your material so well that you can deliver it without constantly referring to your notes.

But make your audience feel they’re listening to a real, live human being who’s in the room with them. And let your audience know that you know they’re real, live human beings in the room with you.

Don’t deliver a speech. Talk to them.

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. Missed it on the air? Listen to the archived tips.

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.

Storytelling Tip: You don’t have to be a great orator to be a great speaker

 

Storytelling Tip: You don’t have to be a great orator to be a great speaker
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: You don't have to be a great orator to be a great speakerAre you afraid of standing up in front of an audience and speaking? If so, you’re not alone.

Giving a great speech isn’t about being a great orator. And it’s certainly not about being perfect. It’s about having something to say your audience considers worth hearing.

Years ago, the Book of Lists ranked speaking in public as the number one fear humans have. They even ranked it above dying and being sick. I’m not sure I buy that. But it is a common fear.

Where does the fear come from? It’s about being afraid to make a mistake while everyone’s watching. We all hate making mistakes — especially when one of our mistakes gets noticed. If you’re standing in front of a group of people all looking at you, any mistakes you make are likely to get noticed. That can be embarrassing.

But guess what. It’s okay to make a mistake. In fact, gracefully accepting that you made a mistake and moving on makes your audience like you more. Because it makes you human.

Another big fear about speaking in public is not knowing what to say. If you find yourself unable to figure out what to say in your next presentation, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why am I speaking to this audience? What do I want to happen because I spoke? Okay, maybe your boss said you have to make the presentation. But you still should have an objective, a desired result. What is it?
  • What do I want the people in my audience to know or believe?
  • Why will they care? What do they want to know?

If you know the answers to these questions, you’re ready to give a good speech. Tell your audience what you want them to know or believe in a way they’ll find interesting. Do that and you’ll deliver a great speech, even if you’re not a great orator.

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: Humor Without Jokes

 

Presentation Tip: Humor Without Jokes

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

Presentation Tip: Humor Without JokesYou have a presentation coming up. So, you need a joke to open with. Right? Wrong!

You don’t need to open with a joke. In fact, unless you’re one of those rare people who consistently tells jokes well, you should avoid opening with a joke. Or telling them at all during your presentations.

The good news is you don’t need to tell jokes to add humor. One liners, an occasional pun or other off-the-cuff comments that make your audience smile or even chuckle are a great way to add a little humor and personality to presentations. And they’re generally easier to do well than telling a joke — a story that leads up to a punch line.

Just remember: Don’t force it. Whether you’re telling a joke or simply adding funny comments, any humor you use has to be natural and fit both your personality and the topic of your presentation. And the only person who should ever be the butt of your humor is you. Avoid jokes and other comments poking fun at others. That goes triple for any comments that poke fun at or disparage any group of people.

Use humor to help make your point or tell your story. If it’s just an appendage stuck in somewhere to draw a laugh unrelated to the rest of what you’re saying, leave it out.

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

————-

Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He helps clients develop content for telling their stories. He 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.

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