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How To Deliver A Great Presentation Using Notes

Most of today’s presentations are delivered from notes, not formal scripts. Such an approach allows speakers to benefit from having the best of two worlds: a well-organized structure and a conversational tone.

Notes typically take the form of bulleted lists or outlines, but can also include a few verbatim passages for quotes or transitions that require precision. As you practice, eliminate as many words from your notes as possible and keep only what’s necessary to trigger your memory.

Think of those memory triggers like golf: the fewer the words, the better your score. In this post, you’ll find several tips for scoring with notes.

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How To Deliver Your Next Presentation: A Six-Part Series

The question of how you should deliver your presentation is among the biggest decisions you’ll face prior to a talk.

Should you go with the security of a script, which offers the promise of exactness? The looseness of speaking from notes, which makes you appear more “in the moment?” The proficiency of speaking from memory, which demonstrates your mastery of the subject matter?

Each of those possibilities, along with two others—speaking from a teleprompter and a hybrid script-notes option—has its place. In this post, you’ll find an easy question to help you make your decision.

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How To Be (And Why You Should Be) Skeptical Of Your Facts

Facts are funny things. Sometimes, we interpret them in a way that seems so obvious to us that we don’t even consider how someone could possibly view them differently.

That’s why it’s a good idea to go through the facts in our presentations, try to view them as a skeptical audience member might, and address any unhelpful interpretations before they take hold.

This post will show you where one recent speaker went wrong.

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Three Public Speaking Tips From The Curator Of TED Talks

I often compare TED Talks to Lay’s Potato Chips: no one can watch just one. More often than not, the talks, dedicated to spreading great ideas, are engaging, surprising, and even challenging.

So when Chris Anderson, the curator of the popular TED series, was interviewed on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show last week, I listened. Intently.

Anderson has a must-read book coming out next month called TED Talks: The Official TED Guide To Public Speaking. During the interview, he offered a few of the nuggets he’s picked up along the way.

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New Eye Contact Research: Is 3.2 Seconds The Magic Number?

If you’ve ever been unsure about how long to maintain eye contact with members of your audience, you can be forgiven. The advice about how long you should lock your gaze with a single audience member is all over the map.

New research, intended to help clarify the question of ideal gaze times, suggests people are comfortable with exactly 3.2 seconds of eye contact.

I’m skeptical of that finding and have found that an over-focus on such prescriptive rules can hurt speakers. In this post, I’ll tell you why — and what you should do instead.

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A Stunningly Simple Way To Improve Your Presentations

At the beginning of our presentation training sessions, I often ask a participant to deliver a practice talk.

Before the trainee begins speaking, they usually take the slide remote, load their presentation, and turn back to the screen to confirm their slides are displaying properly. The remainder of their talk usually plays out along similar lines—they make a point, click to the next slide, turn to confirm the right slide is up, and then repeat the cycle.

If you’re like most speakers, this probably sounds familiar. Here’s an easy technique that leads to dramatically stronger results.

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How To Answer Tough Questions #2: Emotional Questions

Let’s say you represent a government agency and have been tasked with speaking at a local community meeting. A natural disaster occurred in that town—a major flood, perhaps—and local residents are furious at what they see as your agency’s inaction to help them rebuild.

In such a heated environment—one in which people have suffered the loss of life, work, or property—you can expect to be asked emotionally charged questions.

Your response to those questions must be aligned to the audience’s emotional concerns. Responding to emotionally heavy questions with facts alone isn’t enough. People need to know—and feel—that you get it.

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A Trainer Asks: How Can I Expand My Client’s Range?

A fellow presentation trainer wrote in with a question about a client who was particularly shy. After three hours of working together, the trainer had exhausted his options and run out of ideas to help draw his client out.

In this post, I’ll discuss two techniques I’ve used successfully with shy clients. The first I use somewhat frequently. The second is rather dramatic — and while I don’t use it often, it’s yielded interesting results when I’ve needed it.

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