Friday, October 15, 2010

9 Tips for Handling Public Speaking Questions

How you handle questions from an audience can often be the deciding factor as to how your presentation is received. If you're pitching for business, then it's absolutely vital to handle questions well.

1. Be prepared for questions - When you write your presentation, think about what you're likely to be asked and what your answer is going to be. Maybe you won't want to answer a particular question there and then, so think about what you'll say to satisfy the questioner.

2. Make it clear at the start - You may decide to take questions as you go or at the end of your presentation. Whatever you decide, make it clear at the start and don't change your mind. I would suggest questions at the end in a short presentation; if you take questions as you go, then your timing will get knocked out. And always remember, an audience won't forgive you for taking half an hour when you were only scheduled to speak for fifteen minutes.

3. Never finish with questions - Far better to ask for questions five or ten minutes before the end, deal with the questions and then summarise for a strong finish. Too many presentations finish on questions and the whole thing goes a bit flat - particularly if you don't get any.

4. Listen - When asked a question, listen and look like your listening. It may be something you've heard a million times before. Treat the questioner with respect and don't trivialise their point.

5. Thank the questioner - It's only polite, it shows respect and it gives you a bit more time to consider your answer.

6. Repeat the essence of the question - Some people may not have heard the question so your answer may not make any sense to them. It can also be irritating for them not to hear the question. Again, it gives you more time to think of the answer and it makes you look so clever and in control.

7. Answer to everyone - Don't fall into the trap of only answering the questioner. If they happen to be near the front then you could end up having a conversation with them and exclude everyone else.

8. Keep it simple - Many speakers, when it comes to questions, have become more relaxed and the fact that someone is interested enough to ask them a question, leads them to go on too long with the answer - DON'T.

9. Don't bluff or bluster - If you don't know the answer to a question, say so and find out. Suggest to the questioner that you'll 'phone them or come and see them with the answer. It can even be a good way to make further contact after thepresentation.

As we all know, it's possible that you may not be asked any questions and you then have that awkward silence. People may be thinking about what you've just said and may need more time to ask. They may also be a bit shy and may take a few minutes to speak out. Why not have aquestion of your own prepared and say something like. "You may be asking yourself.........?" If you still fail to get any questions then go straight into your summary and closing statement.

Handling a question and answer session well, demonstrates your professionalism and reflects on your message.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Meeting Promotion And Publicity Checklist

1. Review previous years' promotional budgets

2. Determine objectives and scope of program

3. Determine audience(s): membership, potential exhibitors, an industry or trade, general public.

4. Develop theme and corresponding graphics. Considerations should include purposes of individual pieces: who will receive them, tone to be conveyed, how they will be produced, how many colors will be needed, what layout format is required at each stage (from rough to comprehensive), and how much is budgeted for them.

5. Develop a schedule for the campaign.

6. Set promotional budget based on characteristics of membership, features of the venue, time of year, strength of program, and costs of attendance.

7. Develop promotional materials according to tested criteria: short and forceful sentences, convincing explanation of benefits to attendees, clear emphasis on important elements of meeting, and easy means of registering.

8. Plan for all items needed for the campaign to carry theme forward, taking into account costs of special effects like embossing or die -cutting; quality, grade, weight, and finish of paper; number of ink colors used; time for production; and quantity required:

a. pre-meeting letters and announcements

b. preliminary programs

c. registration and housing forms

d. promotional pieces for both exhibitors and attendees

e. invitations

f. follow-up mailings

g. final agendas/program books

h. badge inserts

i. tickets

j. on-site registration materials

k. signage

l. newsletters

m. lists of registered attendees

9. Solicit a minimum of three competitive bids for all printing, checking samples of paper stock, samples of work for other meetings, references, and explanation of other services each firm can provide.

10. Select printer(s), taking into account whether need is for "quick" or commercial quality, demonstrated ability of a single printer to handle all needs, availability of necessary equipment for jobs, and ability to meet deadlines.

11. Agree with printer on schedule into which extra time is built, and monitor deadlines for rough layout, submission of copy, preliminary approval, completed layout, final approval of blueline, and delivery of job.

12. Promote at previous year's meeting.

13. Release promotional pieces, press releases, and related materials in accordance with schedule, with news releases preceding membership promotional mailings.

14. Target local, national, international media as appropriate by type: trade papers, newspapers and periodicals of general interest, radio and television tailored to market.

15. Overall, control promotional costs through following measures:
a. Obtaining firm written bids for services

b. Providing clean, competently proofread copy to printers

c. Using standard paper sizes where at all possible

d. Using same paper stock for many pieces

e. Piggybacking print items using same color

f. Using standard PMS ink colors

g. Reusing graphics

h. Avoiding unnecessary special effects

i. Avoiding perforations in favor of dotted-line cutting guides

j. Coordinating printing times

k. Setting and enforcing firm policy on overtime

l. Minimizing number of copy changes

You're Always Public Speaking So Be Prepared

The funny thing about presenting and public speaking is that the majority of people will tell you they don't enjoy it and/or aren't very good at it. And yet regardless of who they are and what they do, most of the speaking they do on a day-to-day basis ISpublic speaking.

You see, mostly when we talk to ourselves we keep it as an internal dialogue that nobody else can hear. But whenever we open our mouths and actually make a noise in front of another person we're speaking in public – hence "public speaking". So why do so many people find it so scary?

I think it's the eyes. All those sets of eyes fixed on you..... BORING into you. It's unsettling. So would it be any easier if your audience was ignoring you and all looking the other way? What if they all dozed off so it WAS as if you were talking to yourself? (Have you ever been a Rotary after-dinner speaker?)

Whatever the reason, the fact is that before getting up to speak, even the most seasoned professional will have some butterflies, whether they choose to call the feeling nervousness or excitement doesn't really matter. Rest assured, we all experience it to some degree.

If I had one tip to pass on, if I was asked to tell you the most important lesson I've learnt over the years I've been presenting, it would have to be to stress the absolute necessity of being totally prepared.

Now this may sound obvious and I'm sure you've heard this before, possibly many times, and like a lot of important messages it tends to become diluted the more we hear it "Oh yes, I knew that, now what else?".

And yet, knowing this, some people will be outside in the car park seconds before they have to deliver their sales pitch scribbling it out on the back of a business card. I know, I've been there.

When I talk about being prepared, I mean you should know your talk off by heart. You should be able to give it verbatim, standing on your head, without even having to think about what comes next.

Now some of you may be thinking "Yes, but I don't work like that. I like to keep the spontaneity" or "Yes, but I want to tailor mytalk to the occasion" or "Yes, but that would be boring because I'd just be on auto pilot."

But actually, that's not what happens. In effect, the opposite is true. When you know your talk by rote, it gives you the freedom to change it around, to add, to subtract without losing your direction. It's like driving from A to B. If your route is set from the outset and you know it well, you can safely veer off and browse in a few antique shops and have a pub lunch in a picturesque village off the beaten track and still get back to where you were to complete your journey. But, if you'd just set off in the general direction with no main route to which to return, you'd soon get lost if you were to be diverted and you'd have difficulty picking up that thread again.

You see, there are so many things out there that can throw the speaker, and lots of unexpected things can occur when you're dealing with the public. No matter how good you are, you will become distracted, so knowing your material to the nth degree is absolutely crucial.

If something happens that needs your attention, you'll have to stop and deal with it, but you can return to your talk with barely a glitch and appear calm, collected and hence the ultimateprofessional.

You see we all get nervous. We all stick our feet in our mouths sometimes. We don't ever operate in a hermetically sealed environment, especially when exposed to other humans. But prepare, prepare and over-prepare and not only will you enjoy the confidence of knowing that nothing can phase you because you know your material, but if you're forced off your chosen route for any reason you can return smoothly and appear to be the consummate professional speaker.

And after all, if you can't – or won't – speak about your business, who will? 

Four Different Ways People Process Your Information

There are four different ways that audience members assimilate information. They are: visual, auditory, auditory digital, and kinesthetic. While all members of the audience will process information utilizing all four of these approaches at different times, each audience member will individually tend to rely on one of these approaches more than the other three.

Visual: These people memorize and learn by seeing pictures and are less distracted by noise than others. They often have difficulty remembering and are bored by long, verbal presentations because their minds will wander. They are interested in how your presentation looks. They like it when you use words like "see, look, envision, imagine, and picture" in your presentation as these words encourage them to make pictures in their minds.

Auditory: These people are easily distracted by any noises occurring during your presentation. Typically these audience members learn by listening, Your vocal tone and vocal quality will be very important with these people. Words that work well with people in this category include "hear, listen, sound, resonate, and harmonize."

Auditory Digital: These audience members spend a fair amount of time in their heads talking to themselves. They memorize and learn by steps, procedures, and sequences.
They want to know that your presentation makes sense. Words that are effective with these people include "sense, experience, understand, think, motivate, and decide."

Kinesthetic: These audience embers often speak very slowly. They are much more oriented towards their feelings than people in the other three categories. They learn by actively doing something and getting the actual feeling of it. They are interested in a presentation that "feels right" or gives them a "gut feeling." Words that are effective with these audience members include "feel, touch, grasp, concrete, get hold of, and solid."

Approximately 40% of the population are primarily visual, approximately 40% are primarily kinesthetic, and the remaining 20% are primarily auditory and auditory digital in how they process information.

Speaking Precisely

You can express yourself better if you learn the proper words to use for each situation.

You can pick up these words by reading good books and articles. Just be careful you don't pronounce something incorrectly in your head, and then speak that way in public. People will think you're ignorant.

I remember listening to a radio talk show one time when a man called in and mispronounced a word. The guest, who disagreed with him, attacked his mispronunciation, and the host was clearly embarrassed for him. All in all, it was just an awkward moment. And you definitely don't want to be initiating awkward moments while trying to drum up business.

Pronunciations do vary depending on your locale, so you could just say that's how it's pronounced where you're from. But there are usually only a few alternatives, and most educated people know of them.

You can learn proper pronunciation by listening to intelligent people. If intelligent people are rare where you live, buy some tapes or visit some podcast directories.

Some well-read people mispronounce words they read all the time but never hear. If you found a great word in a book that you're not sure about, check it out at They have a pronunciation guide, and, if you want toSpeak Precisely, you can sign up for their premium service. They have a feature where you can click on a word and hear the proper pronunciation.

At any rate, just make sure you know how the word is pronounced and what it means, before you use it. Nothing sounds worse than someone using big words out of context. There's nothing wrong with using big words, though, as long as you're using them correctly.

Of course, you should probably stick with the shorter, more common alternative if one exists. Don't use a big word just because you know it. Only use a bigger word if it's the only word available to express exactly what you mean. Most people have very small vocabularies, and will tune you out if you start talking over their heads.

If you're talking with experts, you'll probably want to use shortcuts (jargon). This can save time. Just don't use jargon outside specific groups, because it'll sound like gibberish to most people. You can learn this jargon byreading industry-specific journals and visiting message boards.

Speaking precisely isn't that hard. Just use the right word at the right time. That knowledge will only come with experience.