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  • Writer's pictureShelley Bamberger

Silver Threads, Part 4: In 25 Year of Presentation Coaching, What Hasn't Changed?

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

by Shelley Bamberger

In parts 1-3 of this Silver Anniversary series, we’ve focused on the many changes in how people improve their ability to present. In this final part, we’ll cover what has not changed.

1. Death by PowerPoint. I have pleaded, cajoled, railed, and pouted about how presenters load the kitchen sink into their PPT deck -- all to no avail. Great presentations often fall flat when you torture audiences with reams of hopelessly complicated data. And it doesn’t help when you say: “Stay with me folks, only 52 slides to go.”

Still, I will continue to advocate that less is more. This rule serves as a good reminder:

Don’t show what you say or say what you show. This rule doesn’t always apply; but it points up a key principle: If it’s all on the screen, they don’t need you.

Use visuals as support, not as a script.

2. Multi-tasking. I’ve thrown in the towel on this one. The science proves conclusively that when you multi-task, both tasks are compromised. But almost everyone has continued this behavior during presentations – because FOMO wins in the end. (Fear of Missing Out)

As presenters, you can try to offset this by:

-- requesting that all turn off their phones. (good luck with that)

-- ask attendees to leave the meeting if their phone usage distracts you or the audience.

3. Attention Span.

25 years ago, we said, “The average human attention span is 12 seconds.”

Now, it’s even shorter -- just eight seconds.

Your first sentence needs to rock the house. We use the acronym BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front.

Capture your audience by stating the WIIFM – what is in for me?

Example: “Today, you will learn how you can double sales, using a new breakthrough method in how we demonstrate products.”

No long build-ups. You have eight seconds to win or lose your audience.

4. Listening Skills.

Here, we HAVE seen some improvement, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Great leaders are really good at listening. We teach active listening, which means give the speaker 100% attention – instead of thinking about what you want to say next. Use body language and facial expressions to indicate that you are listening intently. This encourages the speaker and builds the relationship, so that REAL communication takes place. Listening is a SKILL; and practice makes you better.

Final thoughts. In this series, we focused on presenting to groups. But these skills and practices apply equally well to 1-to-1 communication. If you – or your team -- need to get better presentation/communication, we offer courses customized to your unique issues.

We combine my experience (Shelley) of 25 years in corporate communication – with the freshness of a millennial (Erin) who grew up in the technology age. Together, we arm you with the best of the tried-and-true principles, as well as the leading-edge techniques of the virtual world. Contact us:

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