Use Analogies to Lift Presentations to Another Level

During this past holiday season, my 8-year-old son, Jake, asked me why the story of Hanukkah was so important. I told him that Hanukkah celebrates a miracle that happened long ago in an ancient Temple. In the Temple they needed to keep the candles lit, but there was only enough oil to keep the lamps burning for one day. Yet, the oil lasted — not one or two, but eight days! It was a great miracle, which is celebrated every year.

Jake was unimpressed and returned to his cartoon. How could I possibly make this relevant and relatable to a modern day 8- year-old in terms he could understand?

I asked him to imagine that we were taking an eight-day trip. He’d brought along his iPod, but had forgotten the charger, and his battery had enough power for just one day. Surprisingly, the battery never died, and he had power for the entire trip to play games and listen to music.

In an instant, he got it. He said, “That would be a miracle!”

Power of Analogy

This is a perfect example of how analogies can transform a message, concept, or technical topic into terms someone else can understand. Analogies are powerful, because they allow us to convey complex or technical information and ideas to an unfamiliar audience.

Here are five benefits of using analogies. They:

1.     Make the complex simple

2.     Identify similarities and differences

3.     Bridge new ideas to familiar ideas

4.     Add believability

5.     Connect topics to the audience members’ lives

In her new and much buzzed-about book Lean In, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg likens the careers of men and women to something we can all relate:  “Imagine that a career is like a marathon … a marathon where both men and women arrive at the starting line equally fit and trained. The gun goes off. The men and women run side-by-side. The male marathoners are routinely cheered on: ‘Looking strong! On your way!’ For women, however, the shouts are: ‘You know you don’t have to do this!'”

This vivid analogy creates a powerful mental picture that helps make her message stick.

Why does this matter?

Every day we need to inform and influence audiences through writing and speaking. In your career, the extent to which you are effective at doing both will be a major factor in your success.

Analogies are one of the more powerful devices in your arsenal of effective communications tools. By using them, you help make your message clear, simple, believable, relevant and memorable.

Your analogies will be most effective if they are:

•Visual – paint a picture the audience can connect with.
•Relevant to all audience members and diverse – use diverse analogies instead of just one type (like sports) to ensure that you connect with them universally.
•Memorable and repeatable – the more witty and provocative the better.

Consider the analogy used by economist Nigel Gault of IHS Global Insight, when interviewed on NPR on March 8:

“The sequester is an unnecessary dose of cold water when the economy would otherwise be gathering steam.” He created a terrific mental picture to which everyone can relate.

Another example of a great analogy was used by Ellen Ernst Kossek, co-author of CEO of Me: Creating a Life that Works in the Flexible Job Age.

Commenting on the decision by Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer to abolish telecommuting, Kossek said, “Abolishing telework is like canceling the prom because some immature people spiked the punch bowl.”

Wow! This analogy is impactful because it’s visual, relevant and memorable! It’s something that sticks in the mind, and is likely to be repeated.

About the Author:

Amy Glass is Director of Training and a Senior Facilitator at BRODY Professional Development, for 30 years providing professionals with a competitive advantage in the areas of presentation power, facilitation & meeting effectiveness, writing for impact and relationship management. For more information on BRODY’s programs and services, or to subscribe to monthly newsletters or receive a  free eBook, go to BrodyPro.com or call 215-886-1688. ©2013 Reprinted with permission

 

Improve Your Presentations, Two Slides at a Time

At the end of my workshops I ask participants if they have practical ideas that they can implement immediately to improve the effectiveness of their slides. Without exception, they all say that they have plenty of ideas they can use. In fact, the challenge is that they feel overwhelmed with everything they want to start doing to their presentations.

If they tried to apply all the learning to all the slides in their typical presentations, it wouldn’t work. They would end up spending too much time and give up with few, if any, changes being made. I want the participants in my workshops to apply what they have learned, so I share with them an approach that helps manage the work of improving presentations.

I call it the “raise the average quality by working on the bottom two” strategy. Here’s how it works. If you look at the average quality of all the slides in your normal presentation, it will be at a level that you know could be better. Some slides are good, some are average, and some are below average.

Chances are that there are a few slides, I use two as a typical number, that are the worst slides in your presentation. You don’t really like them, they are hard to present, and the audience doesn’t connect with them. What I suggest is that you work on just those two worst slides and improve them for your next presentation. Working on only two slides is a manageable amount and almost everyone says they can certainly redo two slides.

By improving the bottom two slides in your presentation, you raise the average quality of the entire presentation. Next time, work on the next bottom two slides. Every time you present, work on the worst two slides in the deck. After five or ten presentations, you will have addressed almost all the slides that need improving and your presentation will be much better than when you started.

It may have taken some time, but the results are worth it. By tackling the presentation two slides at a time, you break the work up into manageable chunks that anyone can handle.

This  “raise the average quality by working on the bottom two” strategy allows people to see a path for applying what they have learned. Start today by looking at the two worst slides in your presentation and improve them. If you are looking for other ways to improve your slides, check out the articles I have available on my site. They are organized by category so you can quickly find what you are looking for,

About the Author:

Dave Paradi runs Think Outside the Slide web site, is a consultant on high-stakes presentations, the author of seven books and is a PowerPoint Most Valuable Professional (MVP).

The Power of ‘You’ and ‘Yours’

It pays to remember that two of the most pleasing words in the English language are “you” and “yours.” Research shows that use of these two words during presentations will perk the audience’s ears and make them feel like recipients of personal appeals.

The words tend to be missing during sales demonstrations, since many presenters  try to appeal to as broad an audience as possible by using impersonal, cookie-cutter language. But when the speaker or facilitator says you, yours or even the customer’s name, they involve the audience as if its participating in the demo.

Instead of saying, “here are the benefits of the product,” try, “here is how you benefit.” Rather than saying, “here’s how it can boost a bottom line,” get in the habit of using, “here’s how it will boost your company’s bottom line.

It’s a subtle but important change that can have a significant cumulative effect.

Smart Talk: Making Powerfully Persuasive Presentations

In this talk, you’ll learn Dr. Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence and how to practically apply these principles to persuasive presentations. Ultimately, facts are not the way to best lead, motivate, and inspire. Powerful persuasive presentations instead, rely on effective audience analysis, solid storytelling, and figurative language.

Increase the Likeability Factor to Make Your Message Matter

To be heard, you have to make people like you. You need to create chemistry—with your staff as a manager, with your team as a project leader, with your boss, with your customer, with your strategic partners. People believe people they like.

That’s not a news bulletin. Great communicators develop The Likeability Factor—your personality and the “chemistry” you create between yourself and others. Just as many roads lead to success in the workplace, many different personalities attract followers.

But the following traits seem universally to attract people and open their minds and hearts.

Be Vulnerable: Show Your Humanity

In speaker training 101, people learn to tell failure stories before success stories. Generally, audiences have more in common with those who struggle than those who succeed in life.

If you worry about whether your teen will graduate from high school without getting involved with the wrong group, say so. If your father-in-law drove you nuts during the holiday weekend, it’s okay to mention to your colleagues on Monday morning that you might not have been the storybook spouse.

If you lose a customer, regret it rather than excuse it. If you miss a deadline, repair the damage and catch up. If you miss a payment, make it, with interest. If you make a mistake, own it and correct it.

If you misjudge someone, apologize and make amends.

People respond to humans much more favorably than machines. When you communicate with colleagues, never fear to let them see your humanity.

Be Courteous—Remember to Kick the Copier

Day in and day out, it’s the small things that kill our spirit: The sales rep who empties his cold coffee and leaves the splatters all over the sink. The manager who uses the last drop of lotion and doesn’t refill the container. The analyst who walks away from the printer, leaving the red light flashing “paper jam.”

The boss who walks into the reserved conference room in the middle of a meeting and bumps everybody out for an “urgent” strategic planning meeting. The person who cuts in line at the cafeteria cash register. The guy who answers his cell phone and tries to carry on a conversation out loud in the middle of a meeting.

So even the smallest courtesies kindle a fire that ignites chemistry and builds kinship. The courtesy of saying “hello” when you come into the office after being away. The courtesy of letting people know when you’re going to be away for an extended period.

The courtesy of honoring policies about reserving rooms, spaces, and equipment for activities. The courtesy of a simple “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome” for small favors.

Share a Sense of Humor

No matter whether people agreed or disagreed with former president George W. Bush’s political positions, they typically admired his self-deprecating humor. At one of the Washington correspondents dinners, that ability to poke fun at himself seemed to be the primary thing the media responded to favorably.

Bush said at the lectern, “I always enjoy these events. But why couldn’t I have dinner with the 36 percent of the people who like me?”

At one such event, Bush even brought along his “double,” comedian Steve Bridges, to make fun of his frequent mispronunciations: The double modeled for him one of his most difficult words to pronounce correctly: “Nu—cle—ar proliferation….nu—cle—ar proliferation. Nu—cle—ar proliferation.”

Then Bush tried it, “Nu-cle—ar pro-boblieration.” The crowd went wild.

Self-deprecating humor can open hearts and minds to make people receptive to ideas in ways words alone cannot.

Show Humility

Power can be seductive. Praise pushes people’s buttons, elevating peer pressure to feel important. And just as suddenly as lightning strikes, an act of arrogance can destroy an otherwise credible communicator.

Refusing to acknowledge people when they speak to you. Failure to respond to people’s suggestions. Haughty body language. Time spent only with those of your “rank and ilk” at a social gathering. An amused smirk in response to an idea expressed in a meeting. An upward roll of the eyes meant to discredit someone’s comment in the hallway. A talk jam-packed with jargon meant to confuse rather than clarify. Insistence that things must be said one way and one way only.

Credible communicators show humility in innumerable ways:

  • They let others “showcase” by delivering key messages instead of always having to be “on stage” themselves.
  • They let others feel important by “interpreting,” “passing on,” and “applying” their goals and initiatives.
  • They get input from others—and consider that input worthy of a response. (They don’t ask for input “just for drill” if they don’t plan to consider it.)
  • They excite others by asking for their help, cooperation, and buy-in.
  • They share the limelight by telling stories about star performers.
  • They share leadership roles by telling success stories of other leaders.
  • They communicate awareness and appreciation of the efforts and results of other people.

Certainly, credibility involves a balancing act between establishing a noteworthy track record and fading away into the furniture. People do want to know that you know what you’re talking about. But arrogance antagonizes them. Expertise tinged with a touch of humility goes down far better.

Your look, language, and likeable personality will have a huge impact on whether people accept what you say. If your message isn’t sinking in…if you’re not getting the action you want… maybe you should take it, well…personally.

About the Author:

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

 

 

Secrets to Practicing Your Presentation When You Have No Time

By Michelle Mazur

By far, the most popular post on my site is 8 Steps for Practicing a Presentation. To me that means you are looking for help on how to practice a presentation so you can execute a successful speech. We know we have to practice, but practice seems like an abstract, daunting task. The biggest objection I hear from clients about practicing a presentation is…I don’t have time to practice. I understand the problem. I don’t have time to practice my presentations either…and frankly I am the type of presenter who does not enjoy practicing at all. My little hater comes out in full force! Let’s go through step-by-step and discuss some strategies that will save you time.Step One: Divvy Up Your Presentation into Bite-Size Chunks.

If you are doing a 30-, 60- or even 90-minute speech, you do NOT have to practice your presentation all at once. Repeat you do NOT have to rehearse your entire presentation in one sitting. Break-up your presentation in small bite-size chunks. Divide it up by introduction, each main point, and your conclusion. If it is a longer presentation, break the body of the speech down into its sub-points.Think of this as portion control for practicing your speech. It makes practice less daunting.

Step Two: Find small chunks of time.

Now that you know that you don’t have to practice the presentation all at once, start finding pockets of time for small presentation practice sessions. This means driving in your car is a great time to practice. 10 minutes between calls – practice. Taking a shower – forget singing – try practicing.

There’s all kinds of time to rehearse when you don’t have to find a huge chunk of time!

Step Three: Don’t always start from the beginning.

You need to know your introduction well!  However, don’t always start your rehearsals at the beginning. Every time you are practicing think about what you need to go over the most. In which part of the presentation is the information most difficult for you?  Which part of the speech have you not practiced yet? Start there!

Step Four: Practice does not always have to be out loud.

Practicing your speech out loud is a must. However, you don’t always have to practice out loud. Visualization is a form of practicing. Going through the speech in your head is a way to rehearse. Even if you just want to write the speech out – guess what you are practicing.

Step Five: Do one complete run through with tech.

You have to find the time to do at least ONE complete run through with your tech (microphone, PowerPoint, media, whatever). This insures that you are staying within the time limits, your transitions are good and that all your technology is in working order.

About the Author:

Dr. Michelle Mazur is a public speaking coach, communication expert and author of the Relationally Speaking blog.

4 Presentation Strategies for a C-Level Audience

By Rick Gilbert

When I joined Hewlett-Packard as a quality assurance training manager 20 years ago, I had zero business experience. I had been a college instructor, a consultant, and a psychologist, but I had never read an annual report or laid eyes on a spreadsheet. I didn’t know the difference between ROI and an IOU.

After six months on the job, I secured a brief meeting with the general manager and his team. I urgently needed their support for a quality training program I was launching. I strode confidently into the meeting clueless about who was going to be there and their job titles or hidden agendas. I may as well have been blindfolded; I was in the dark.

I helped myself to a pastry, and took a seat at the table—my first two mistakes. I had prepared 50 overhead slides (before the days of PowerPoint) for my 20-minute presentation, which amounted to 49 more slides than anyone wanted to see. I opened the presentation with a long story to warm up the audience. (Note to self: Senior executives do not need or want “warming up.”)

The general manager ended the meeting after just seven minutes, and I failed to get support for that critical training program. While riding the elevator down to my office after the meeting, I was haunted by a nagging question: “What just happened?” It was 20 years before I would answer that question.

Different presentation rules

If you are in middle management, ambiguity and chaos are daily realities. Additionally, you must gain approval from the people at the top to get things done. Resources are limited. To make matters worse, colleagues in finance, IT, and marketing are after the same resources. You know what works in team meetings at your peer level: stories, PowerPoint slides, one-way communication with minimal Q&A, and no interruptions.

You realize that the rules for presenting to top-level leaders are different, but what are they? If you solved this mystery, you’d be more likely to receive the project funding and support that you need.

To uncover these rules, I’ve interviewed 50 executives during the past 10 years. These leaders shared how to effectively present to the C-suite: know the people and big picture, make the bottom line your first line, deliver with confidence, and facilitate through improvisation. I only regret that I didn’t know these strategies years ago.

Know the people and big picture

Find answers to the following questions before the presentation: Who will be in the meeting? What are their titles? What are their agendas, and how do they feel about each other? Who will support you and who will oppose you? Typically, you will have a sponsor—for example, the director of human resources. That person can tell you what to expect, and can get the meeting back on track if it derails.

C-level leaders are a unique audience. They are bright, competitive, and analytical. They never have enough time in any given day, must meet their numbers, and have little job security.

An executive stays in his position for an average of 23 months. One study shows that if a company’s stock price increases after its CEO has filled the role for one year, 75 percent of new CEOs keep their jobs. If the stock price goes down, 83 percent do not keep their jobs. The C-suite is often a revolving door.

Additionally, it’s important to understand the expenses accrued from a top-level meeting. Assembling five C-level leaders from a $5 billion company costs shareholders $30,000 per hour. CEOs report that 67 percent of the meetings they attend with subordinates are total failures—resulting in a huge productivity loss for the company.

Make the bottom line your first line

“You have 30 seconds to get my attention and tell me what you are here for. If you don’t, I’m on my smartphone, and you’ve lost me,” says Steve Blank, founder and former CEO of Epiphany.

The first rule of content development for a C-suite presentation is to position the bottom line as your first line. Immediately tell the audience why you are there and what you want. If you want money, include ROI calculations so the executives will know what they’ll get for their investment in your training project.

Skip the storytelling that works so well at your peer-level team meetings. Executives simply don’t have time for it. Get right to the point, and do so with data.

Be careful with PowerPoint. Using PowerPoint in an executive meeting is a sure way to run your career into the ditch and lose support for your program. The C-suite wants a discussion, not a slide-driven lecture. In fact, Ned Barnholt, chairman of KLA-Tencor, says he doesn’t have confidence in a speaker who can’t talk without slides.

To increase your credibility with a C-level audience, decrease the number of presentation slides. When you are finished with the slides, ensure that the screen is blank—this will refocus the attention back on you.

Deliver with confidence

Strategy and content trump delivery style every time at senior meetings. Your delivery pales in comparison with the importance of your content.

However, executives have no time for poor presenters. They are looking for a confident, energetic, committed presenter, but not a slick, motivational, inflated presentation. Polish your basic delivery skills: practice eye contact, vocal projection, and gestures.

Stand tall and be expansive. Not only will such body posture show executives you’re a horse worth betting on, but it also affects your biology. A recent Harvard University study shows that physically filling space has positive effects on one’s hormones: The stress hormone cortisol decreases 25 percent while testosterone increases 17 percent.

Facilitate through improvisation

According to one CEO, “Eighty percent of your success at the top is your facilitation skills. Only 20 percent is your content.”

Facilitation includes listening and improvising. Listening means not only paraphrasing what people are saying to confirm your understanding, but also “reading the room.” As you present, watch the reactions of your executive audience. Be willing to address what you observe happening, and if necessary, take action to correct it. In a word, improvise.

Below are the most common facilitation challenges and the solutions.

  • Time cut. Be prepared with a shorter, five-minute version of your presentation.
  • Disengaged executives. When people start checking their email, reconfirm that the topic is still important.
  • Decision maker leaves. Before this person gets out the door, ask her what to do next, such as wait until she returns or move forward with the decision.
  • Topic change. Be prepared to improvise the agenda and change directions.
  • Side talk. Refocus the audience on the agenda. Request help from your sponsor or the most senior person.
  • Energetic discussion. When executives are fully engaged and throwing out new ideas, capture what is said and then reconfirm after the meeting.

Lessons learned

Years ago, when I sat at the table during my first executive presentation, I implied a peer relationship with the leaders. And when I ate one of the group’s snacks, I was driving nails into my own coffin. I was a “dead man walking” before showing my first slide—and I didn’t even know it.

Learn from my mistakes. Remember that you are a guest at the C-level meeting, not a member of this high-powered club. Know who is there, and their relationships with one another. Have a sponsor to help you out of any possible meeting train wrecks. Keep your questions focused and immediate and the PowerPoint slides to a bare minimum. Finally, constantly listen and improvise.

Had I known any of this at my first meeting with the general manager, I may have received support for that critical training program. With these tools, now you can improve your chances of success.

About the Author:

Rick Gilbert is the founder and chairman of PowerSpeaking Inc., a speech communications company  that has worked with Silicon Valley companies since 1985.  He also is creator of the award-winning program Speaking Up: Presenting to Executives,  and author of Speaking Up: Surviving Executive Presentations. Reprinted from ASTD.org

 

 

How to Recover When You Lose Your Train of Thought

By The Speaking Sherpa

At the 2012 Toastmasters International Convention, I had the great fortune to attend Jock Elliot’s educational session. Jock, the 2011 World Champion of Public Speaking, described his 35 year competitive speaking journey masterfully weaving storytelling and presentation tips.

Perhaps the most interesting insight I gleaned came while watching Jock when he lost his train of thought. There is actually something heartening about the fact that even world champions suffer the occasional memory lapse on stage. When he realized what was happening, Jock paused and said “This next part is so important that I need to read it to you.”

He then calmly strolled back the the lectern to glance at his notes making an intentionally audible “hmmm…. yes…” as he did so. He then took back center stage and continued enthralling his audience.

Although I was very impressed by Jock’s recovery technique, I was on the fence about adopting it for myself. The issue troubling me was whether or not it had crossed the authenticity line. Everyone forgets, but you should strive to recover authentically. Surely, I was not the only one to notice it was a well-rehearsed technique.

We have all seen what not to do when speakers lose their train of thought – “I… ummm… forgot what I was about to say… ummm…” In addition to Jock’s technique, are there other ways to recover?

As fate would have it, my fellow District 53 Toastmasters and I quite randomly shared a cab to Downtown Disney with Matt Abrahams.  Without knowing who Matt was, we invited him to dinner with us. It turns out that Matt was leading an educational session the next day on how to overcome your fear of public speaking. In fact, he wrote the book on the subject – “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out.”

Based on my observation of Jock, my conversation with Matt, and excerpts from Matt’s book, here is how to recover gracefully:

Method 1:  Make It Look Planned

This is what Jock Elliot did by pausing, saying “This next part is so important that I need to read it to you,” consulting his notes, then starting up again. One key lesson here is that you should always have your notes easily accessible.  I keep mine in my pocket as a safety blanket; I rarely need them, but having them there sure makes me feel good.

Method 2: Paraphrase Your Previous Content

From Matt’s book: “You will have to excuse me, but I am so passionate about my topic that I sometimes get ahead of myself.  Allow me to review my previous point.” Nine times out of ten, retracing your steps will help you find the path forward.

Method 3: Ask Your Audience A Thought Provoking Question

Matt’s recommendation is “What seems to be the most important point so far?” I feel that this technique would work better in presentation that is highly interactive to begin with. However you can use this as a rhetorical question to either buy time with a long pause or to precede a review of your previous content (i.e. a lead-in to Method #2).

Method 4: Review Your Overall Speaking Purpose

Every speech should have a central theme – preferably encapsulated in a three to twelve word catchphrase.  Repeating your theme is always welcome by your audience so a memory lapse is a reasonable time to throw it back out there.

Try It Out!

Unfortunately, you are going to experience a memory lapse at some time. In fact, the older you get, the more frequently it is going to happen. However, fear of memory lapses should not prevent you from sharing your ideas with the world.  If Jock Elliot can lose his train of thought, then so can I. Pick one, just one, of these methods and have it in your back pocket the next time you need it.

Audiences Need to Trust You Before They Trust Your Message

By Jim Endicott

PolitiFact.com, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website, is one of several that are prominent in our daily newspapers these days. What I happen to like is the little meter at the top of the column that rates a recent statement from a politician from True (a rating seldom seen) to Pants on Fire.

No matter what your political persuasion, on any given day you’re likely to find some politician skirting the edge of accuracy if not downright misleading the American people with facts and figures.

I’m not sure if we ever really take all the shock-and-awe statistics thrown at us as gospel (unless it happens to be your favorite candidate), but what we’ve unfortunately come to accept is that ”white lies,” statistical slight-of-hand, half-truths and outright deception using data are too often the norm. And people can screw with numbers to make just about any case.

So how do those perceptions rub off on us as presenters? Whether we like it or not, our audiences have been tainted with a general skepticism towards communicated data. Remember when we were encouraged to start a presentation with “an interesting fact or statistic”?  Now research suggests we might be better off finding a new opener.

You see, audiences need to trust you before they trust your message. And statistics don’t automatically equal trust any more. So maybe it’s time to start earning audiences trust the old fashioned way – by building relationships. And that brand of audience engagement always seems to have pieces of these elements: a healthy dose of personal transparency, the ability to communicate shared experiences effectively and a vulnerability that can admit when you don’t have all the answers. That’s refreshing…and compelling.

You see first and foremost, the art of presenting is a relational skill, not a technical one.

And the most riveting and “astounding” statistic won’t do you much good if people resist taking it at face value. There’s a simple truth about human relationships – trust always comes before belief – a lesson politicians of all stripes need to learn, and soon.

About the Author:

Jim Endicott is president of Distinction Communication Inc, a Newberg, OR consulting firm specializing in message development, presentation design and delivery skills coaching. For more information about his firm’s services, visit www.distinction-services.com

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.

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