Archives for August 2012

How to Look Your Best When Presenting Online

By Denise Graveline

Most of us do our “public speaking” at work in meetings and on conference calls — and these days, the options for visual conferencing are everywhere, from Skype to Google+ hangouts to traditional videoconferencing. If you’re used to telephone conference calls, the rise of the visual call adds another layer of checklist items before the meeting. Prepare yourself with these five resources, tips and ideas to appear your best:

Take it from Skype:  This interview goes right to an expert from Skype for five tips to help you look good on video chat, from sitting up straight to putting the webcam level with your forehead (try this Griffin Technology Elevator Laptop Stand for that purpose). The author tries the tips and shares a before and after photo of her results.

Get a better focus on the person you’re talking to: Not so worried about your face, but that of the person you’re talking to? Botiful can help you keep that other caller’s face in the frame. It’s a small thing, but that might help you look more engaged–and engaging–if you’re not trying to follow a moving target.

Consider HD-friendly makeup: If you do enough work in front of HD cameras for your videoconferencing, webinars or video chat, you may want to explore the new foundations and other makeup products designed to smooth out the flaws made more visible by high-definition cameras.

Get familiar with new platforms: You’ll look and feel more confident if you’ve practiced using different video chat and call platforms. Try ooVoo, a Skype alternative with a good primer here, or OnTheAir, where you can host your own live chat. Don’t forget to try video chat from your mobile phone. You can now start a Google+ Hangout from your Android phone, for example. Ask a colleague to practice with you until you’re both at ease.

Tilt your head forwardThis video (a full 15 minutes’ worth) shows examples from portrait photography, but these tips will work for you on video chats, too. It’s worth practicing, because it will feel awkward at first.

About the Author:

Denise Graveline is a public speaking coach and communications consultant based in Washington, DC, as well as author of The Eloquent Woman blog. She calls her consultancy don’t get caught — as in don’t get caught unprepared, speechless or without a message. She has coached and trained thousands of people — from CEOs, public officials and scientists to newbie public speakers — to give smarter presentations, translate technical topics to reach public audiences effectively or deliver speeches with greater impact.

Executive Presence: Do You Have It?

Executive presence may be hard to define, but most people know it when they see it. Do you have it? If you think it may be lacking, or if you’d like to increase your credibility and confidence, consider the following tips when presenting:

Be Aware That Gestures and Mannerisms Either Support or Sabotage What You Say

Gestures and mannerisms can either convince your audience of your sincerity or antagonize them. Imagine yourself in an airport, with conversations going on all around you, and you yourself engaged in a farewell to a friend. All of a sudden, the man and woman sitting next to you begin to wave their arms dramatically, their fingers urgently punching the air. Immediately, your attention is diverted from your own conversation to this couple.

Why do their words not distract you, but their gestures do? That’s the power of gestures and mannerisms; often, movement speaks louder than words.

You may be completely serious, passionate, and confident about what you have to say, but your audience may perceive you as insincere because of poor eye contact, slouched posture, a bored expression, or weak gestures.

Become Conscious of What Your Body Language Says When You’re in Front of a Group

Your upper-body posture is controlled primarily by what you do with your arms. Your posture and your gestures are difficult to separate. They make a total statement.

I work with many people who are completely unaware of their body language until they see themselves on video for the first time. For example, some people stand with their head intensely protruding forward as if they are about to scold the audience. Others stand in a slouched position as though they are exhausted from marching through the desert for days without rest.

Others hug, pat, and squeeze themselves when they speak. Still others either stand rigid as if locked in a straightjacket or sway back and forth as if they are a shy teenager about to ask their first date to the prom.

Look at yourself in the mirror and see how it feels to stand with your arms relaxed loosely at your side or with your elbows slightly bent. It may feel awkward, but it does not look awkward. Simply stand there, looking in the mirror, and get used to the various postures that both look and feel appropriate so that you do not feel awkward with that same natural posture, gesture, or stance in front of a group.

Add Volume to Increase Authority

In our society, little girls are taught that loud voices are not feminine, whereas little boys learn no such inhibitions. As a result, women often have problems with speaking loudly enough. In today’s business arena, wimpy voices get little attention. Consider the extreme. When someone shouts, everyone turns to look—regardless of what’s being said. Volume gets attention.

Remember that your voice always sounds louder to you than to anyone else. Take another person’s word for it when he or she says you need to speak up. Also remember that your voice is an instrument; it needs to be warmed up, or it will creak and crack at the beginning of your presentation. If you warm up with a high volume, as though projecting to those in the back row, your volume also will improve your vocal quality.

Volume adds energy to your voice; it has the power to command or lose listeners’ attention.

Lower the Pitch to Increase Credibility

Pitch, the measurement of the “highness” or “lowness” of your voice, is determined largely by the amount of tension in the vocal cords. When you are under stress, you may sound high-pitched; when you are relaxed and confident, you will have a naturally lower pitch.

Authoritative vocal tones are low and calm, not high and tense. Inflection is a pitch change—from “Stop!” screeched at an assailant to the haughty “Please stop” directed at a stranger using your department’s copy machine. You can lower your pitch to some degree by practicing scales (as singers do, dropping the voice with each word) and by breathing more deeply to relax your vocal cords.

Remember that a lower pitch conveys power, authority, and confidence, whereas a high pitch conveys insecurity and nervousness.

To sum up: Your personal presence may make the difference in driving home your point—past the ears to the head and heart of those you want to influence.

About the Author:

Excerpted from Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader by Dianna Booher and used courtesy of Booher Consultants, Inc. Dianna Booher works with organizations to increase productivity and effectiveness through better communication: oral, written, interpersonal, and organizational. For more information visit  www.booher.com

5 Tips for Making Presentation Language Come Alive

By Scott Schwertly

It’s pretty likely that C.S. Lewis brought you a little bit of happiness when you were a child. As author of the Chronicles of Naria series, C.S. Lewis created one of the most beloved children series of all time. As a result, he got loads of fan mail from his biggest fans: children. And being the nice purveyor of childhood glee that he was, he managed to respond to many of the letters, including one from Joan Lancaster, in which he included several tips on writing.

Let’s see what we can learn about presentations from his poignant advice.

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

This is great advice for the presenter as our job is disseminate information as clearly and simply as possible. In order to do so, use language that tells the audience what they need to know in the simplest way possible. Say what you want to say as simply as possible. Don’t overcomplicate your language for no reason.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t “implement” promises, but “keep” them.

This goes hand in hand with Lewis’s previous nugget of advice. Use plain, direct language in your presentation. You won’t sound smarter by using a ten-dollar word when a five-dollar word will do. Rather, you might come across as pretentious. Don’t alienate your audience with obscure language. Be as direct as possible.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

Mr. Lewis is adamant about the importance of clear, direct language, isn’t he? Minimize abstraction as much as possible with the language you use. Be as clear and concrete as possible.

4.  Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. Instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified.

Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please, will you do my job for me?”

This may be the best bit of Lewis’s advice, as it’s basically a snarky version of ‘show, don’t tell.’ Engage your audience by using vivid language that describes a situation instead of simply telling the audience how it made you feel using a range of blasé adjectives.

Remember presentation skill coach Jerry Weissman’s advice: Don’t make the audience think. Describe situations so clearly and in such a compelling nature that the audience won’t have any question as to what happened or how it made you feel.

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Lewis’s last piece of advice again addresses the need to use clear, precise language. Don’t exaggerate in your description of something as that would be an easy way to mislead your audience.

Above all, if we are to follow Lewis’s advice in our presentations, use language that is as direct and to-the-point as possible. Your presentation will be much more accessible and well-received if you eliminate abstract, unclear language altogether.

About the Author:

Scott Schwertly is the CEO and founder of Ethos 3, a leading presentation design and training company. From big names like Guy Kawasaki to big companies like Google, Pepsico, and NBC Universal, Ethos 3 has been responsible for bringing the message home. For more information about Ethos 3, visit http://www.ethos3.com/

How to Use 3D Rotation Techniques in PowerPoint


In this article, I explain in detail how to use 3D rotation. I start with PowerPoint 2007 and PowerPoint 2010; then I explain where to find similar features in PowerPoint 2003.

In Part I of this series, on shadows, I showed you how to use shadows for both subtle and dramatic 3D effects. The second 3D technique I want to cover is bevels, which I’ve already explored in greater detail in this post, “Create professional-looking 3D effects with bevels.”

Bevels often work hand-in-hand with 3D rotation, especially when you specify a depth in the 3-D Format section of the Format Shape dialog box. That’s because you can’t see the depth until you rotate the object. These 2 objects (above) are the same, but only the right one shows the depth, because you’re looking at it from an angle. That’s what 3D rotation does–it shows you an object from an angle.

Many people are unaware of the 3D features of PowerPoint, but they’ve been around for a long time. Even PowerPoint 2003 lets you rotate objects in 3D, although the controls are not as precise.

Use 3D Rotation in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010

To create a shape with depth and rotate it, follow these steps in PowerPoint 2007 and 2010:

  1. Insert a shape.
  2. With the shape selected, right-click it and choose Format Shape. Move the Format Shape dialog box away from your shape so you can see both at the same time.
  3. Choose the 3-D Format category and enter a depth in the Depth section. Note that PowerPoint measures depth in points. There are 72 points in an inch. I created a rounded rectangle with a depth of 72 points, or 1 inch. PowerPoint adds the depth to the back of the object.
  4. Click the 3-D Rotation category in the Format Shape dialog box.

  1. Before fiddling with the X, Y and Z controls, try out some of the presets from the Presets drop-down list. You might find what you’re looking for in a lot less time.
  2. The X boxes rotate the shape to the left or right. This is a horizontal rotation because the X-axis is the horizontal axis. Enter a rotation or click the Left or Right boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  3. The Y boxes rotate the shape up and down. This is a vertical rotation because the Y axis is the vertical axis. Enter a rotation or click the Up or Down boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want.
  4. The Z boxes rotate the shape clockwise and counterclockwise. Think of the Z axis sticking out of your computer monitor straight toward you. Then the shape rotates around that axis. Enter a rotation or click the Clockwise or Counterclockwise boxes repeatedly until you get the rotation you want. A Z-rotation is just like rotating a shape in 2D.

Note: When you use more than one axis, PowerPoint calculates first the X value, then the Y, and finally the Z, so that the effects are additive.

Here is a rounded rectangle with various X, Y and Z rotations:

9. You can also create perspective views and control the amount of foreshortening. If the Perspective item is grayed out, click the Presets drop-down list and choose one of the Perspective options. Then enter a number (in degrees) in the Perspective box, or click the arrow buttons. Here you see two rounded rectangles, one with 75° perspective and the other with 0° perspectives. Do you see how the left shape narrows at the bottom? That’s the foreshortening effect.

10. There’s also an interesting setting, Distance from Ground, also measured in points. You’ll be able to see the effect better from certain angles than from others. In effect, this moves the object forward or backward if you’re looking down from the top. Yes, you can even use a negative number!  But your object never disappears behind the slide, so it’s really an as-if effect.

PowerPoint 2003 Can Do 3D Too!

In PowerPoint 2003, select an AutoShape and click the 3-D Style button on the Drawing toolbar at the bottom of your screen. Choose a view. At the bottom of the 3-D Style menu, choose 3-D Settings to open the 3-D Settings toolbar. There you can nudge the view using the Tilt Up, Tilt Down, Tilt Left, and Tilt Right buttons. You can also change the depth of the object. Use the Direction button to change the viewpoint and choose a Parallel or Perspective view.

Cautions when using 3D

Here are 2 cautions when using 3D:

  1. Keep the same point of view for all objects on a slide and even for all slides.
  2. Don’t over-use 3D; it can make a slide overly busy and harder to understand.

About the Author:

Ellen Finkelstein can train you or your team to create high-impact, engaging, professional presentations for training, sales, business, or education. For more information on her PowerPoint/presentation training workshops and coaching, click here.

Do You Have a Speaking Tic? These Tips Can Help

By Nick Morgan

Some people say “like” and “you know” so often that you want to strangle them. Others say “um” often and enthusiastically. Some people swallow nervously and spasmodically. Some people let their voice swing up in pitch at the end of every sentence as if they were always asking questions. For some, it’s happy feet – wandering around the stage as if they really loved walking and couldn’t wait to get off the platform.

I’ve seen a thousand tics over my years as a speech coach, and I’ve had a thousand people come up to me and point out someone else’s tic, usually in whispered tones, along with, “Can’t you fix them?”

Here’s the thing about tics. Of course, we’re better off without them, but they’re not really a problem unless an audience notices them, and they get in the way of comprehension.

Then we do have a problem, Houston. And it’s time to get out the taser and fix it. A few shocks later, and your tic is gone.

Just kidding. There are several relatively painless ways to fix a tic. My favorite is to get someone, a friend, to count the tics over some specified period of time, like a speech, and then charge the offender an agreed-upon sum for each offense. Usually a dollar is enough to get the malefactor’s attention. And you’d be astonished how quickly the tic goes away after you’ve had to pay up a couple of times.

Another method is to video the speaker and point out the tics. That’s usually enough for the speaker to want to stop, and wanting to stop is usually enough to allow them to do so.

If you’re one of those people who says ‘like’ or ‘you know’ or ‘um’ and you’re aware of it, then self-monitoring may be the simplest way to fix the problem. Notice yourself in a relatively low-stress situation – say, a conversation – and just stop talking when the urge to “um” comes over you. Don’t stop forever, just long enough to let a little pause in your conversation flow rather than the tic. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can train yourself to do without the likes or you knows or ums. They just go away.

So let’s all calm down about tics and start quietly eliminating them on our own. I’ll have less to do as a coach, but that’s OK.

About the Author:

Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. In his blog he covers modern communications from a variety of angles, including the latest developments in communication research, the basic principles and rules of good communication, and the good and bad speakers of the day. His passion is to connect the latest brain research with timeless insights into persuasive speaking in order to further our understanding of how people connect with one another. For more information on his company, visit www.publicwords.com

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