3 Tips to Help You Deliver a Dazzling Presentation

Public speaking is something everyone has to face in his life time. No matter whether you have to speak at a wedding or in front of your boss. You need to be able to deliver a dazzling presentation.

In this article I want to present you some tips that you can use while speaking in front of an audience.

Prepare Yourself
Preparation is one of the most important aspects of speaking in public. Not even World Champions of Public Speaking are able to pull off their great speeches without preparation.

There are several things you can do that will have a big impact on your speech:

  • Outline your speech
  • Familiarize yourself with the place at which you are going to hold your speech
  • Hold your speech in front of friends

The Beginning
One thing I want to emphasize here is that the beginning of the speech is the most important part. If you lose your audience there then you will not be able to pull them back.

Make sure that you have something at the beginning of your speech which grabs your listeners’ attention. It can be something very simple such as a story. You could use video among other things, just be creative.

Once you have hooked your listeners it will be a lot easier to make them listen to you and to achieve the results you want to achieve.

Backup Plan
A backup plan is important especially if you rely heavily on technology such as Powerpoint or other things. If there is an overhead projector available then make sure to copy your presentation (or only the important parts of it) onto a transparency. It will be worth it when something stops working.

Also if you prepare yourself well then it should be easy for you to still hold a great presentation even though something might stop working.

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5 Reasons Why A Cashmere Blanket Makes a Perfect Present

Come birthdays, Christmas or special occasions, everyone struggles with gift ideas, and finding that perfect gift isn’t always easy. But have you ever considered a cashmere blanket?

Here are 5 reasons why a cashmere blanket can make a perfect present:

1: Luxuriously soft and cosy

The properties of cashmere mean that it’s unbelievably soft. The material is the undercoat of the Mongolian goat, a coat that is famous for its softness and warming qualities, and it’s these properties that have made Cashmere so popular among cashmere addicts, and you’re guaranteed that by giving cashmere as a gift, the recipient won’t be disappointed.

2: Perfect to snuggle up under

Evenings are best spent curled on the sofa with a loved one watching movies in front of a fire. And the next best thing to make it a perfect evening is by snuggling under the cashmere blanket you bought as a present. You’ll find that you’re both so cosy and comfortable you won’t want to get up from underneath it to go to bed. What better for that romantic evening in?

3: It’s more than just a blanket

Cashmere blankets can be decorative as well as practical. Drape them over a sofa to add style to your room, or use them over the bed to add colour and a cosy feel. Perfect for giving your home that luxurious touch.

4: Perfect travel companion

Not only are cashmere blankets perfect for the home, they’re also ideal for the car. Travelling at night can be a chilly process, so let the people with you travel in comfort, all wrapped up and snug. They’re also ideal for long haul flights. When you’re spending hours on a cramped plane, it’s nice to have a bit of familiarity around you.

5: Everyone should own a piece of cashmere luxury

Cashmere is a piece of luxury that everyone should get a chance to own. The qualities are like none other. And not only is it luxurious, it’s also addictive. Once you’ve discovered the joys of owning one piece of cashmere, you’ll want more, and this in turn will be true to the person you gift it to. They’ll be so impressed with the cashmere blanket that one won’t be enough – concluding why they make the perfect present.

So don’t disappoint. Treat someone you love to a present that they’ll keep with them and love for years come. Treat them to a cashmere blanket.

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Presentations Too Comfortable? — It Is Time To Take Some Risks

Long ago I heard speakers who advocated, “Have one speech and just find different audiences.” Today’s audiences, however, are expecting more from us. Even if you have a tested, surefire winner of a presentation, it is time to ask yourself if you are too comfortable. It is probably time to try something new and force yourself to take some risks.

It is OK to have a distinctive style of your own, but it is also a growing experience to step out of our comfort zone and try something new. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I always use the same techniques?
  • Do I usually tell the same stories?
  • Do I plan my presentations following a specified structure?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the above questions, I suggest that it is time for you to take some risks.

Try some outlandish techniques. We are all told to involve the audience. Many speakers feel that asking for a show of hands is enough involvement. Not so. Think about clever ways to move participants to action and interaction.

  • One speaker I know hands out a mini-quiz on her topic as people enter the room, and then starts her presentation by having people share their answers with each other and the whole group.
  • Another speaker who stresses the importance of “asking” starts by asking everyone to take out a dollar bill and then goes around collecting them. If someone only has a five, ten, or twenty, he says “That’s OK. No problem.” He does return the money after making the point that when “one asks, one receives.”
  • Other presenters have participants sing along or chant a phrase in unison.
  • Being a fitness instructor who also speaks about creativity, I will often start a session with aerobic music and then get everyone up onto his/her feet to stretch –following with the quotation by Oliver Wendell Holmes, “The human mind once stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.”

Develop some new stories. Yes, I know that we all have strong stories that have gotten better and better with the telling and retelling, but it is time to develop some brand new stories too. I don’t suggest changing everything, but if you can add one new story for each presentation, you will keep them fresh and exciting for both you and the audience.

Change your pre-planning of presentation structure.I know I always stress the importance of preparation. I am not changing my mind about preparing. I am suggesting that you prepare in a different way. If you have always used the method of “Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; and then tell them what you told them,” think of ways you can turn that formula on its side. Or, if you rely upon outlines including the three most important points, try the free association method of mind mapping or clustering.

So, take some risks. Try something new and fresh. You will find that you, your presentations, and your audiences will become invigorated with enthusiasm. Have fun!

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Christmas Presents – The Top 3 Tips To Saving Money

Let’s face it, Christmas can be expensive, and the thought of saving money is often overshadowed by retailer’s high budget marketing campaign aimed at parting you from your hard earned dollar. So let’s look at some ways you can start saving money on Christmas presents.

Secret Santa

If you have a large family, or social circle this is one of the best methods for saving money on Christmas presents, let alone saving your sanity.

If you haven’t heard of the concept before, its really quite simple. You put all the names of your family, or group, in a hat, and each member pulls out one name only. You then buy a Christmas gift for that one person.

Its great, everyone gets one Christmas present, not multiple gifts. The beauty is you are saving money on Christmas presents by not having to buy multiple gifts.

You also get to focus on what that one person would really like. So ultimately they get a better Christmas gift, and everyone gets to save.

Agree On A Budget

Would you rather gift giving be about the thought and effort that went into the Christmas presents’ selection, not how much the gift cost?

Unfortunately the ‘spirit of the gift’ can be lost due to egos, incomes, and expectations. It can leave you feeling embarrassed, or guilty for over spending, particularly when you need to be saving not spending big on Christmas presents.

Talk to your family, friends, & social groups, and agree on a maximum dollar amount for gifts, say $20 each. Remember, you are probably not the only one wanting to save money over Christmas.

Writing A List And Checking It Twice

Hey, if its good enough for Santa why not put the ‘list’ to work for you!

Write a list of everyone you usually buy Christmas presents for.

Is there anyone on your Christmas gift list who really should be on the ‘naughty list’?

Do you really want to waste money on someone you don’t like? Bah humbug to obligation! You may like to politely inform them you are only buying Christmas presents for immediate family. Chances are they would prefer to be saving money on Christmas gifts too.

So how you ‘spend’ Christmas is up to you. You could max out the credit cards, have a fabulous day and a lousy, debt ridden year. Or you can start saving money and enjoy Christmas without the financial hang over.

Copyright © 2013 L G Durand

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Creating the Best Presentation Using Rules of Thumbs

People like to use rules of thumb for many stuffs. It can be cooking, writing essays, business, painting and etc. You name a trade and there will be some sort of rules of thumb for it. Most people do not like to feel lost, and always hope for a guide. Rules of thumb serves as a quick and effective method for keeping oneself on track and in line with people’s expectations (Well hopefully).

There is even rules of thumb for presentation. Ever heard of this: “Plan for one minute and a half per slide”, some say, “and never put more than 5 bullets point and more than 5 words per bullet point”

Beneath this rules of thumb lies many underlying assumptions and cognitive biases of the human’s attention span. May or may not be true. Your audience consists of a diverse group of people with different kinds of background. Some may come from the advertising industry and are more attune to colors and pictures. Other may come from science and engineering background, and require evidences as support for your claims. Some may be in the higher management, and prefer the general picture with an emphasis on profits. Who are your audience? That is the single most important question when crafting out the perfect presentation.

Before going for a presentation, it is important to find out who are your audience and what are their background. Relying on rules of thumb may sometimes prove to be right, but to truly excel at presentation, you will have to cater it to the audience.

You are the salesperson. The presentation is your product, and your customers are the audience. To make the sales, you need to have strong product knowledge (your presentation subject), engaging presentation skills and knowing the needs, wants and background of your customer (plus putting that knowledge to good use). If you are the customer, you do not want your customer to treat you using some rules of thumb. You want special customized treatment.

Use rules of thumb with caution. Very often, many of us do not even know how such and such a rule of thumbs comes about, therefore some of them may not be suitable to your audience. As Sun Tzu said, “Know enemy, know yourself and you shall win all your battles”.

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What Goes Into Presenting A Seminar?

Attendees at a seminar, especially those who have not given one themselves, are generally unaware of what goes into preparing to present a seminar. The presenter must understand the demographics and needs of the attendees, to properly customize the seminar, so that those attending gain the maximum benefit from attending.

While many individuals present seminars, there is a big difference between a presentation professional and others who merely give occasional presentations. Having given seminars on numerous topics to significantly various size groups, as well as groups with varying interests and demographics, I have established some personal ground rules to assure that my presentation achieves optimum impact.

Some believe that you simply appear the day at the seminar with your Power Point presentation (when I started it was with slides), and that’s it. However, everything from the way the Power Point is designed, to how interactive one makes the presentation, needs to be customized to the individual group.

When preparing to present a seminar, I always do the following:

1) Speak to the Seminar organizer, in depth, about such things as what the group wants to gain from the presentation, what areas he wants emphasized (if any), the anticipated demographics of the attendees; the expected turnout, etc.
2) Create an outline before I start of topics I want to cover. I place these on separate 3″ X 5″ size index cards.
3) Determine the order I want to cover these topics, that I believe will have the greatest impact, as well as create the most interest and attention.
4) Do needed research, get statistics (if necessary), and decide upon what, if any graphics to use.
5) Create a dynamic introduction that sets a powerful tone for the seminar
6) Explain to the group, at the beginning of the seminar, what I am planning to accomplish, and outline the basic topics to be covered.
7) Explain that the seminar will be interactive, and urge participation.
8) Create an opening exercise, survey, “test,” etc.
9) Design the PowerPoint, initially in broad strokes.
10) Let the presentation sit for at least 24 hours, and then go through Power Point slides from the beginning.
11) Make modifications as needed.
12) Remember that the intent of the Power Point is to create an outline — not for the presenter to stand up in front of the group and read the slides to them.
13) Prepare a hand-out outline, and whatever other hand-out materials might be necessary.
14) Wait at least another 24 hours and review again. Make any additional modifications necessary.
15) Create suitable, attractive, and attention-getting, point-making animations.

These recommendations are only a portion of what I do for a typical presentation, but steps I take every time. There are many other aspects of giving the presentation, but being prepared is perhaps the most essential one!

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Presentation Anxiety – Fear That Keeps You From Moving Ahead

The fear of making a presentation is the most common phobia that exists. It ranks with the fear of death as a traumatic experience, probably because people unconsciously fear that the attention directed at them when they are making a presentation will somehow expose them to dangers that may lead to death! This unfounded fear (in most normal situations) paralyzes millions of people and keeps them from moving ahead in their careers or in their enjoyment of life. Certainly you can live without taking “center stage” but the quality of life can be disrupted by the possibility of being called upon to make a speech, a presentation, lead a prayer, or even confront a hiring committee.

To overcome this fear, you must become of aware of how you handle stress and anxiety. Awareness is half the battle. The other half is learning how to “let go” of anxiety so you may take back control of the way you respond in difficult situations. Presentation anxiety can manifest in the same ways that panic/anxiety often occurs. Commonly people suffering from this anxiety will: change their breathing (short shallow breaths or hold their breath), tighten muscles, tighten their gut (slowing or stopping digestion and reducing normal reproductive activity), reduce blood flow to the surface of their skin in their hands and feet, increase heart rate, increase stress hormone secretion (increase blood sugar and reduce immune system function (over time)), and increase sensitivity to all environmental changes. You can learn to control each of these symptoms either directly or indirectly. By controlling these symptoms you learn to get back in control of your life!
The keys to controlling presentation anxiety are:

  • Breathe slowly/diaphragmatically
  • Remain in the present… in your body, in a positive way
  • Regular deep relaxation with Biofeedback Temperature monitoring
  • Use the special relaxation tape regularly!
  • Learn to warm your hands and feet
  • Avoid caffeine and stimulants
  • Regular aerobic exercise
  • Positive self-talk… not negative ruminations
  • Get support in confronting this fear and then desensitizing yourself to fears/phobias of speaking in public.
  • 1. Learn to breathe diaphragmatically

    Place a hand over your upper abdomen: 1. Push it OUT as you inhale… 2. Let it move IN as you exhale
    Let your chest, shoulder, neck, and back relax as you breathe. Only on a very deep breath should these parts move in the breath.
    This may be the most important Presentation Anxiety Control you can learn!

    2. Use the Stress Management for Presentation Anxiety tape 1-3 times per day for 8-12 weeks.

    Use some form of temperature training biofeedback on your hands to learn how to warm your hands with relaxation. When you can consistently get above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (93-95 degrees is ideal) then you can begin to master warming your feet to 90 degrees. When you can “let go” by relaxing and warming your hands and feet, you will be able to control if not prevent your panic episodes. Then you must develop the confidence in your control so the fear of panic during presentations will not control your life.

    3. Regular exercise will help you to work off the effects of life’s stresses.

    3-5 times per week of regular exercise that can elevate your heart rate for 15-45 minutes would be best. Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program if you have been inactive for a long while. Even though elevating your heart rate can be a little scary, the release of tensions and the strengthening of your cardiovascular system will have great benefits.

    4. Eat regular meals.

    Low fat and complex carbohydrates are better than fast foods with lots of sugar. AVOID CAFFEINE and other stimulants. Caffeine is found in coffee, black teas, cola drinks, chocolate, some over-the-counter pain medications, and other foods/drugs. Read labels. Eating as closely as you can to natural foods (lots of: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) will benefit any one.

    5. Practice positive self-talk.

    Do not let your fears escalate into you losing control of your body and your mind. By breathing slowly and staying in your body, in present time, you avoid falling into the negative pattern of fear and panic.

    6. Get support from your friends, doctor, and therapist if necessary.

    Check your area for panic/anxiety support or treatment groups! Then consider joining a local Toastmasters group to desensitize yourself, slowly, to speaking in public. Desensitization to your fear can be started after you have mastered relaxation. When you know how to breathe diaphragmatically and can warm your hands and feet, you have the skills to begin the mental rehearsal called desensitization. After getting completely relaxed, maintain this comfort/relaxation, and begin to picture yourself preparing and then giving a presentation to a positive supportive audience. When you can do this mental rehearsal successfully, remaining relaxed, then you can begin to actually prepare for such an experience. This will take time and practice, however, overcoming your emotional fears to making a presentation will take much of the uncontrolled fear from the actual event.

    The secret to making a good presentation comes in the preparation. Repeated practice adds confidence! Humor or funny stories can help “break the ice” at the beginning of your presentation, but you need to rehearse even this part. Practice a strong closing that asks the audience for a call to action! You may even want to videotape a “dress rehearsal” so you can see your mannerisms and voice tones when you emphasize your main points. This extra work will be well worth the effort when you actually perform. You may even find that, after all this preparation, the event will be less stressful than you had expected. Indeed, the expectation of a future difficult situation is usually worse than the presentation itself. SO DON’T BE A VICTIM TO THE FUTURE! Live in the present, in your body, and under your control!

    Remember! You can get back in control of your body and your life! You must make this a priority so you can avoid being a victim to this fear of making presentations.

    For more information on relaxation, biofeedback, and desensitization, I recommend that you check out the “Guide to Stress Reduction” or the Stress Management for Controlling Panic and Anxiety (#205) at the stress Education Center’s website, http://www.dstress.com. These two resources from this website can offer you a program to begin for control of your presentation anxiety.

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    How Do You Respond When Equipment Fails During Your Presentation?

    Equipment will fail. Your laptop computer will suddenly display the “Blue Screen of Death.” The bulb in you projector will suddenly “pop!” Your presentation will suddenly “freeze.” It is one thing when these unfortunate events occur while you are in your office or in your hotel room. But, what do you do when this happens while you are presenting to your client? While you are in the middle of a training class? While you are speaking to hundreds of people in a meeting room?

    And, trust me, this will happen to you. It has happened to me. Twice, I have had my laptop “die” during a six-hour training a class in Advanced Excel tips. The lesson that I learned: Always use a portable fan that sits underneath my laptop. The fan plugs into a USB port so there is no need for a power cube, and you can purchase a model that folds up and fits neatly into your travel bag. Laptops throw off a lot of heat – especially when they are used for extended periods. So, a portable fan is an “essential” part of my  equipment setup.

    Projectors also get hot and their bulbs will either suddenly “pop” or just quietly “die” on you. If I am using my  projector, I carry a spare bulb with me; but I NEVER attempt to change it mid-presentation – the projector is much too hot for that! Frequently, I will be using my client’s projector on-site and I don’t expect them to have a spare bulb on hand. So, whether it is my own projector or my client’s, I make sure that I know how to access the  ”sleep button” and I look for opportunities to put the projector to sleep during a lengthy presentation. Just as your audience needs an occasional break, so too does your projector.

    Before I go any further, let me share my philosophy about equipment and technology: “It is not a question of IF; it is a question of WHEN your equipment fails.” It will at some point.

    What do you do when your equipment fails? How do you respond in this situation? How do you recover and manage to keep your audience’s attention and engagement? How do you maintain your composure? How do you continue to project a professional presence?

    First, remember that it is you – the presenter – who has the knowledge and information that the audience wants to hear. You, and the topic that you are presenting are the reasons that people are in the room. Your PowerPoint and your equipment are tools to assist you in making your presentation. Do not allow equipment failures to distract you from your message. Do not allow equipment failures to distance you from your audience.

    My preference is to continue with my presentation when the equipment fails. I do not try to fix the equipment while my audience is sitting in their seats. I will call for a short break at a natural point in the presentation. If I can repair it quickly, I do so during the break. If not, I go with my backup plan. You must have a backup plan. You must be prepared with several options for continuing your preparation. Expect, and plan for, the inevitable equipment failure. Here is a list of the items that I put into my backup planning package.  I always travel with:

    1. A backup copy of my presentation on a USB hard drive.
    2. A “Package for CD” copy of my presentation on the USB drive - including all hyperlinks, photos and media files – in case the equipment that I need to borrow or use does not have the same version of PowerPoint that I used to create my presentation.
    3. A clean copy of my handout – and any related documents – that can be quickly copied and distributed if the original copies are lost or if we require extras.
    4. A “3 into 2″ prong adapter in case I need to plug my equipment into a 2 prong, ungrounded wall jack.
    5. A 12 foot extension cord with at least six “plug-ins” in case I need to adjust the placement of my projector and laptop.
    6. A USB expansion adapter that can extend at least 3 inches and has at least 4 ports.
    7. My own handheld “clicker” to advance the slides. These connect to a USB port.
    8. A digital clock that is big enough and bright enough for me to see the time in a variety of lighting conditions. I do not want my audience to see me looking at my wrist watch during my presentation.
    9. Extra batteries for all of my equipment – including my laptop.
    10. The portable fan for my laptop that I referred to in this article.

    Prepare your presentation. Prepare yourself. Prepare your recovery from an untimely equipment failure. Your audience will support you and respect your professionalism when you continue your presentation despite an equipment failure. Project your professional presence.

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    Effective Presentations – How to Structure Your Presentation

    To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. Great presentations require much preparation. A good presentation starts out with introductions and an icebreaker such as a story, interesting statement or fact, joke, quotation, or an activity to get the group warmed up. The introduction also needs an objective, that is, the purpose or goal of the presentation. This not only tells you what you will talk about, but it also informs the audience of the purpose of the presentation.

    Next, is the body of the presentation. Do NOT write it out word for word. All you want is an outline. By jotting down the main points on a set of index cards, you not only have your outline, but also a memory jogger for the actual presentation. To prepare the presentation, ask yourself the following:

    1) What is the purpose of you making this presentation?

    2) Who will be attending?

    3) Does the audience already know about the subject? If so how much do they know?

    4) What do you think will be the audience’s attitude towards you (e.g. hostile, friendly)?

    As a guide, a 45 minutes presentation should have no more than about five main points. This may not seem like very many, but if you are to leave the audience with a clear picture of what you have said, you cannot expect them to remember much more than that. There are several options for structuring the presentation:

    o Timeline: points that are arranged in sequential order.

    o Climax: The main points are presented in increasing order of importance.

    o Problem/Solution: A problem is presented and you offer a suggested solution while also mentioning the benefits that come with it.

    o Classification: You can classify and present important items as major points in the presentation.

    o Simple to complex: Points are listed from the simplest to the most complex. Can also be done in reverse order.

    You want to include some visual information that will help the audience understand your presentation such as putting out charts, graphs, slides, handouts, etc.

    After the body, comes the closing. This is where you ask for questions, provide a wrap-up (summary), and thank the participants for attending.

    And finally, the important part – practice, practice, practice. The main purpose of creating an outline is to develop a coherent plan of what you want to talk about. You should know your presentation so well, that during the actual presentation, you should only have to briefly glance at your notes to ensure you are staying on track. Your practice session should include a “live” session by practicing in front of coworkers, family, or friends (or Devil Advocates as I call them in my ebook). They can be valuable at providing feedback and it gives you a chance to practice controlling your nerves. Another great feedback technique is to make a video or audio tape of your presentation and review it critically with a colleague.

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    Presentations and Branding

    Many sales professionals find themselves asking, “To present..or not to present?” The answer of course is going to depend on how you want to depict your business. Making sure that your brand is represented well is key to gaining the confidence of your client. So back to the question at hand. My personal opinion is to present. Presenting to potential clients show that you are not only very detail oriented, but it also gives clients a chance to take a look at your products or services. Outside of the obvious, presenting is also somewhat of a note card presentation if you may. The presentation will help guide you through your sales pitch. This will help to ensure that you miss nothing that you want to cover with the potential client. Presenting will guarantee that no stone is unturned. This way when everything is said and done your not looking back at things things you could have done, or forgot to do. Statistics show that 53% of sales decisions were based off of the quality of the presentation, or whether there was one at all.

    Your presentation represents your brand!

    Be fully aware of this when creating your presentations.

    While I agree with using presentations as a tool there are definitely clients that you may not want to present to. In this you need to know your audience. Knowing your audience will help you to judge whether you should be presenting, or going a different route. Inexperienced sales people tend to have problems with this, and these are the people that end up putting clients to sleep. Again make this decision based on the product/service you offer, and the client that you are selling to.

    Some tips for presentations:

    • Make sure the presentation is detailed, but not so busy that the clients is overwhelmed.
    • Don’t speak solely off of what is in the presentation, keep things interesting and not so predictable.
    • Include examples of your product or service in your presentation.
    • Bring your own equipment for your presentation, asking the client for any of their equipment is not appropriate.
    • Use a projector if appropriate: It is difficult to see presentations on a laptop.
    • Do not make your presentation long, keep it short and sweet.
    • While a lot of these tips are common sense, one can never be too careful. There are some great websites out there to help put together presentations, as well as give some great presentation tips.

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