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9 Ways to handle Questions

9 Ways to handle 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 of 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 the presentation.

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 a question of your own prepared and say something like. “You may be asking yourself………?” If you still fail to get any questions then go straight to your summary and closing statement.

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

5 ways to engage with your audience

5 ways to engage with your audience

Has a boring speaker ever put you to sleep? Your head begins to nod as you fight off the urge to slip mercifully into the Land of the Z’s. Or has your mind ever wandered during someone’s dull presentation?  Although you appear to listen intently, what you are really thinking about is a million tasks waiting for you at home.

Sure, this has happened to all of us, more than we would like to admit. However, don’t let it happen to you when you are the speaker. The key to keeping your audience from taking a mental exit is to involve them in your talk. Yes! Studies show that the more you involve your audience, the more they retain. Why? Because they are listening!

You can involve your audience in several ways, and I have listed 5 of my favourites below. Select those that will work well with your presentation and that feel genuine to you. If it feels uncomfortable, it will look uncomfortableóso donít use it.

1. Ask questions.
Questions will cause your audience members to try to think of an answer. They can’t help it, it is simply how our brains are wired. If the energy in the room starts to drop, ask a question and select a member of your audience to respond. Then, thank him or her for participating and move on to the next person. Don’t worry about losing control of your audience. Sales guru Brian Tracy emphasizes, ‘He (she) who asks questions is in control.’ I personally prefer questions like ‘How many of you . . .,’ and then I ask for a show of hands. These closed-ended questions get your audience involved both mentally and physically.

2. Finish your sentence.
For example, if you said to your audience, ‘Lions and tigers and bears . . .’ and did not finish the sentence, what do you think they would say? As long as they are familiar with the movie The Wizard of Oz, they would respond with ‘Oh my!’ This is a fun way to get your audience to participate. If they know the answer, they will blurt it out. If they don’t, you answer it. Choose something that should be so obvious they will absolutely get it.

3. High-five.
This is one of my personal favourites, and if you have attended one of my talks you have experienced it first hand. If you ever feel like the energy in the room is heavy, you can change it by using this technique. Simply ask a question (remember the power of asking questions). Ask,’ìs this good stuff?’ When your audience responds with ‘Yes,’ say ‘Then, turn to the people on either side of you and give them a high-five and say -This is good stuff!’ Most people get a kick out of it. However, if you have an individual in your audience who does not want to participate, don’t worry about it. Some people simply just don’t want to have fun.

4. Do exercises.
Get your audience to do the work’ To accomplish this, ask them to break into groups of two or three (with people that they don’t know) and give them an exercise that is congruent with your presentation. Afterward, ask them to share openly with the rest of the group and thank them for doing so.

5. Give them sweets.
Reward your audience for participating, and they will participate even more. Simply ask a question and when someone answers it, gently throw a small sweet to that person. I find that chocolate works best. You will find that it becomes a game and people will compete for the chocolate. I don’t use this throughout my entire speech, only for a few minutes in the middle of my talk.

There are many other ways and techniques to get your audience involved. What is important as a speaker is for you to come up with as many different ways as you can think of that is appropriate for your audience and for you as a speaker. Believe me, your audience will thank you.

5 great tips to better public speaking

If you search on Google for the term ìpublic speaking tipsî you get roughly 2.6 million responses. That seems like a lot, but when you have to be the one standing in front of the group there isn’t enough information in the world that could get you over that fear.

Believe it or not, most of those fears are self-imposed. What do I mean? The people listening to you don’t really care how the information is disseminated, they just want at the information. It’s the speaker that puts themselves through the ringer weeks before the event. Here are some tips that may seem obvious, but once completed, will really put your mind at ease, trust me.

Public Speaking Tip #1

KNOW YOUR TOPIC! I don’t mean know your topic, I mean inside and out, upside down, whatever question someone could throw at you, you know the answer. You really need to be prepared to reach this level. You need to know your speech almost by heart; you need to know the products you will be discussing. Do your homework, you will know you have reached public speaking Nirvana when you get that ‘feeling’, it will come with knowledge. Believe!

Public Speaking Tip #2

Greet as many of the attendees prior to your speech as possible. Familiarity promotes confidence. Besides, think of the benefit you provide the topic you are to speak on when you take the time to meet people before you go on.
This strategy also prevents you from pacing back and forth and worrying yourself to death until you go on. There is no point in cramming now if you don’t know it, you won’t, and it will show.

Public Speaking Tip #3

DON’T think everyone in the audience is naked, this, in fact, will hurt your chances of a successful public speaking outing.

Public Speaking Tip # 4

When you find yourself with only a mouthful of uhs and Ahhs, stop yourself, repeat the sentence as if to add importance, and replace the uhs and ahhs with silence to allow your points to hit home.

Public Speaking Tip # 5

Animate your speech. Most people think that good communication is mouth-centric. Nothing could be farther from the truth! To be a powerful communicator, you have to use your entire body. Gestures and body language add energy and enthusiasm to your speech.
These are tips can really help you take your next step in public speaking. Do you realise that people pass up promotions because they will be required to speak publicly?

Do you realise people fear to speak in public more than they fear to die? Maybe because dying is abstract and appears far away while the podium is right in front of them. Either way, you really can come to grips with your fear and maybe you won’t enjoy it, but youíll be able to get through it easier. I can’t emphasize enough that half of your battle will be just knowing what you are going to say and anticipating what others are going to ask. It can be easy!

Overcoming your fear of public speaking may not be difficult

Overcoming your fear of public speaking may not be difficult

Overcoming your fear of public speaking may not be difficult at all, as long as you know and understand the nature of how that fear came to be.

For many people, the very thought of speaking in front of people or an audience is reasoning enough for them to be afraid.

These may be due to several reasons, the fear of committing a mistake in the middle of the process, public scrutiny, shame and not meeting up to expectations, are among the many and common reasons why people fear the thought of going in front of the public.

But for starters, the first step in helping you overcome that fear is to know how to study and prepare.

Nothing beats research and preparation, after all, if you sum up all the factors that make up the fear of public speaking is uncertainty. It is the general thought of uncertainty, that makes the fear more frightening and makes people feel anxious.

However, with research and careful preparation, it may not predict any uncertain circumstances that may come your way, but can surely diminish the fear of unpreparedness and inadequacy of information that you can surely remove from the fear equation.

First things first, know and anticipate what to expect.

Try to get information about the audience as to age, gender, occupation or personality levels or character.

This will give you basic information about how you may carry on with your presentation, what things to say or not to say or even ideas on how you may be able to win them over to your way of thinking or ideas.

As much as possible, get to know what the audience generally feels about the topic at large, which will provide you with good points to stress your ideas.

Also, take note of the audiences treatment of the subject for discussion, since it will provide you with an idea for the flow of your topic.

So before speaking in front of a crowd, avoid the notion that you are perfect and that you cannot make mistakes.

Always come prepared, since you need to make sure that you need to get your message across in the most concise and comprehensible manner possible.

You don’t need to be perfect, all that is needed is for you to be prepared and ready since this will make you less fearful of committing a mistake.

Having only two or three main ideas or points can aid in providing more meat and focus on any message, rather than a cauldron of facts and figures that may sometimes cause more confusion instead of driving home the message.

Making a mistake during the presentation process is nothing to be fearful about, nor should it be a cause for stress.

It is also important to know the key factors in making the presentation, first, know what may be expected since this will give you an idea on how you may address the audience.

Lastly, always try to buy yourself into what ideas you would like to convey since being uncertain about one idea and selling it to others can only end up in a variety of shameful or embarrassing experiences. So take these ideas to heart, since this is not rocket science and tell you that overcoming your fear of public speaking may not be difficult after all.

You Are Always Public Speaking So Be Prepared

You Are 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 IS public 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 my talk 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 ultimate professional.

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?

Public Speaking: I Get So Emotional

If you want to get real action out of your audience during a public speaking engagement, then tugging on their heartstrings can help make it happen. This is where your storytelling ability can really make you shine.

Great storytellers like Maggie Bedrosian and Thelma Wells can take a simple set of facts and paint moving pictures in the minds of their audience members with carefully crafted stories.

You don’t have to tell stories when speaking to get an emotional response. You can get another two-for-one happy hour special when you ask the right questions. Asking questions not only involves the audience mentally, it can also stimulate many kinds of emotion. Do you remember when you were a child and you could barely get to sleep Christmas Eve because you just knew Santa was going to bring you that special something? This question would stimulate fond feelings in most general public Christian audiences. It would not, however, connect so well with people who do not celebrate Christmas (remember: know your audience).

How about this question, Do you remember doing something really bad as a child? What kind of punishment did your parents give you? These questions would cause the audience to remember bad feelings.

Did you ever have a pet that died, or did you have a friend who had a pet that died? This would undoubtedly elicit sad feelings. If you want the audience to smile, ask them this, Can you remember the most embarrassing moment of your life? Most people will laugh when thinking back to an embarrassment that they felt was a tragedy at the time because one of the definitions of humor is tragedy separated by space and time. So, tell stories while speaking in public and ask the right questions to move the emotional state of your audience.

There are many emotions you can trigger in the audience just by your choice of words. Happiness, anger, sadness, nostalgia are just a few. Knowing your purpose for speaking to a group helps you to pick which emotions you want to tap. When your purpose is known, choosing words to get the desired emotional response is much easier.

Here’s an example of a simple set of facts that a speaker might convey:

“There have been eleven accidents in the past year at the sharp curve which is two miles north of Cherokee Lake on Route 857. Installation of guard rails, warning signs, and a flashing light will cost approximately $34,000. Even though we have not balanced the budget this year, I feel that we should appropriate money for this project. Thank you.”

Here is a little different version that uses emotional appeal to get the message across.

“On July 18th of this year John Cochran was found dead. The radio of his car was still playing when the paramedics got to his overturned vehicle. John’s neck was broken. It was snapped when his car flipped over an embankment. No one here knows John Cochran because he did not live here, but he died in our neighborhood. Most of you do know of the hairpin turn on Route 857 that has been the scene of eleven accidents this year alone and has injured many friends as well as strangers. We need money to put up guardrails, signs, and a flashing light. I know money is tight, but I hope you see fit to find the funds to remedy this situation before the unknown John Cochran becomes one of your loved ones.”

Can you see the difference in these two appeals? The first was simply a set of facts. Facts are important, but they rarely stimulate people to action. The action comes when emotions get attached to believable facts. You can bet the second version of the above story would have the best chance of securing that $34,000.

To create the emotional appeal in the second version of the story, words and phrases were chosen that had emotional power. … John Cochran was found dead. The radio of his car was still playing … John’s neck was broken. It was snapped … His car flipped … hairpin turn … He died in our neighborhood. All these phrases were woven into the original set of facts to create the emotional response of horror about this terribly dangerous turn.

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Ten Tips To Send Your Audience To Sleep

Ten Tips To Send Your Audience To Sleep

Have you ever fallen asleep when listening to a speech or presentation? Sometimes a little nap during a presentation can boost your energy for the rest of the day. Speakers- if you want to be the one to send your audience to sleep, so they will be fully alert for other people’s presentations follow these ten tips.

1. Make sure that your material is dry and boring. Make sure that your material is either highly technical or complex. If at all possible fill your speech with specialized academic content that is not easily understood without prior study and research.

2. Do not include any explanations or illustrations to make the content understandable to the average person in your audience.

3. Schedule your speech to be at the end of a long day or after a big meal. This will give added incentive for drowsiness and lethargy.

4. Speak softly and avoid any expression or vocal variety that might distract or interest your audience.

5. Stand still behind the lectern for the entire speech. Any movement or sudden gestures could wake up your audience.

6. Avoid any variation in style in your presentation. Do not change from talking to using a flip chart, PowerPoint or any other kind of visual aid or prop that will attract attention.

7. Do NOT include any humor or stories in your speech that might illustrate the important points you wish to communicate.

8. Do not keep to the topic of the speech. Spend a large amount of time rambling about subjects or personal experiences that are boring and totally off topic.

9. Speak about a topic that is very familiar to your audience. Keep your content to things that they already know.

10. Provide highly detailed handouts, so that your audience will not miss out on any important information during their snooze. Make sure that you do not say anything that is not included in the hand out. For best results, just read the handout word for word.

Hopefully, by following carefully the ten tips outlined here, you will have the satisfaction of seeing an entire audience snoring quietly and happily throughout your entire presentation. If you do not follow these tips you may be alarmed to discover that your audience is alert and interested in what you have to say.