Currently Reading: Dan Roam’s Show And Tell

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Today’s rainy Friday was the perfect day to receive a copy of Dan Roam‘s new book in the mail.  Titled Show and Tell: How Everybody Can Make Extraordinary Presentations, Roam’s latest release uses visual communication, Roam’s area of expertise, to explain how we can become stronger speakers and communicators.

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Flipping through the first few pages, this book definitely embodies Roam’s signature style and look (think Back of the Napkin and Blah, Blah, Blah), and the advice is clear and simple.  I will be back on Monday with my review.

As you’re waiting, check out this book preview from the author himself:

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Have you read Roam’s newest release yet?  Are you excited he published a presentation-specific book?

Does A Story Have A Shape?

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According to Kurt Vonnegut, stories do have shapes.  As presenters, it’s important to learn the traditional shapes of stories so that we can use those to our advantage when presenting information to others.  If you’re interested in learning more about storytelling and how to use story in a presentation, check out Garr Reynolds’ blog, Presentation Zen.

In his lecture on the shapes of stories, Vonnegut displays his signature humor and embodies Reynolds’ “naked presenter” philosophy.  Take a look:

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The infographic below visualizes Vonnegut’s presentation:

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The infographic is beautiful, and I love the designer’s icons, type, and color.  If you are interested in owning the data visualization for your home or your office, the artist sells copies on her Etsy page.

What is the most common story shape you hear in presentations?  What is the most common story shape you tell when presenting?

Understanding Speech Delivery Using Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle

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Simon Sinek believes he knows the secret to why some ideas flourish and other ideas die.  He says powerful leaders and communicators start with why.  Sinek’s “Golden Circle” explains his theory:

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Why is concerned with the reason or purpose of something.  How is about the manner or means by which we do something.  What is detailed information really focused on specifying something.  In Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, he explains Apple’s why as their purpose: to think differently, to push and to challenge the status quo.  How Apple does this, the means and manner by which they share their purpose with the world, is through effective design and engineering.  Lastly, the what, are Apple’s specific products: the iPhone, the MacBook Pro, iTunes.

Starting with why, next focusing on how, and then getting specific with the what is an approach I take in the classroom when teaching students a new concept.  When it comes to public speaking and presentation, it’s important to have an overall delivery goal, a purpose for your delivery, the why.

Why?

When it comes to delivery, I am a proponent of Garr Reynolds’ “naked presenter” philosophy which says effective delivery should be natural, authentic, and real in order to connect with an audience.  Reynolds says:

Being naked involves stripping away all that is unnecessary to get at the essence of your message. The naked presenter approaches the presentation task embracing the ideas of simplicity, clarity, honesty, integrity, and passion. She presents with a certain freshness. The ideas may or may not be radical, earth shattering, or new. But there is a “newness” and freshness to her approach and to her content.  (Source)

Understanding this “naked” philosophy of presenting gives us a clear idea on why to deliver a speech this way: because we can deeply connect with our audience if we are human beings and if we show that humanity to others.  This fundamental why purpose, or starting place, is essential when discussing, teaching, or learning more about effective presentation delivery.

How?

It’s much easier to explain how to do something once you’ve established that why.  Take a look back at Sinek’s Golden Circle.  Starting from the middle, the core, and working out gives people a clear understanding of the bigger picture before tackling the specific details.  Most audience members will only connect with an idea once they know why that idea is important and why it matters to them.  Only after that purpose is established will they focus on gathering more information on how to live out that purpose and what to do to move in the right direction.

Reynolds breaks down how to deliver a speech using the naked presenter philosophy in “Make Your Next Presentation Naked.”  He says we can be present in the moment; avoid trying to impress others and embrace trying to help/inform/teach others; keep the lights on; ditch our script and speak naturally from an outline; come out from behind the podium; move around the stage; and simplify (Source).  He has many more how tips here.

Another great article explaining how to present naturally is “10 Powerful Body Language Tips.”  The article examines nonverbal communication, body language, and gives us the means and methods by which we can speak more naturally using effective body language.  We can power pose, remove barriers, smile, shake hands, and mirror the body language of our audience members, for example (Source).

Again, notice that some of these how tips are still a bit conceptual.  The authors let us know the means and manner by which to present “naked,” but they aren’t yet giving us definitions.  Definitions come at the what level.

What?

Unfortunately, as Simon Sinek mentions in his landmark TED Talk, many people begin with the what.  Many businesses focus on what.  In my discipline, many teachers’ lessons only explain the what.  For example, before I learned about Garr Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter, I used to teach delivery by breaking it apart and defining each of its pieces: hand gestures, eye contact, vocal variety.  I was teaching my students the what, and it didn’t work very well for them.  If you’ve ever been in a public speaking classroom with a teacher lecturing on and on with the definitions of pronunciation versus articulation versus enunciation, you know the feelings my students experienced: boredom, apathy, annoyance.  The entire time I listed definitions, they were wondering, “What’s the point of this?  Why does this matter?”

So only after we define why and how should we get into those definitions – the what.  When it comes to speech delivery, we should understand the purpose first, the means and methods second, and the definitions last.

For more tips on effective delivery, please read the “Delivery” section of Creating Communication.  Notice that the first post in the section starts with why: “The Goal of Speech Delivery.”

How do you teach or learn about delivery?  Do you agree that Sinek’s Golden Circle model works as an effective tool for communicating ideas in a powerful way?

Alexei Kapterev’s Why Presentations Suck

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Alexei Kapterev is “a Moscow-based presentations expert, author of the book Presentation Secrets and the world’s most famous presentation about presentations Death by Powerpoint. He is currently teaching presentation skills at the Graduate School of Business at the Moscow State University and running a small private consulting practice” (Source).

I follow Kapterev on Slideshare, and he just released yet another beautifully designed deck of slides jam packed full of important presentation information.  Check it out below:

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You can also check out Kapterev’s TEDxKyiv talk called “World Class Self Education.”  Watch it here:

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Since Kapterev is an expert on presentations, and since this education comes not from a classroom but from his own self study for 6 years, this TEDx Talk perfectly captures his experience, background, story, and credibility.  I also love this concept because I am finding it to be true in my own life.  The things I study and teach myself are the things giving me a world-class education.  And this is obviously working for him if his book is on the shelves next to Nancy Duarte’s Resonate!

What rings true for you from Kapterev’s Slideshare presentation or his TEDx Talk?

M.A. Update: Thesis Preparation

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When I began teaching Professional Communication and Presentation as well as Public Speaking, I decided to go back to school to obtain 18 graduate hours in the Communication discipline.  Little did I know I would quickly fall in love with my program and my professors.  My quest for 6 classes has now turned into the goal of a second master’s degree.  Today, I presented and submitted my final paper for the class that marks the halfway point in my M.A. in Communication.

Reflecting back on what I’ve learned so far is essential as I move forward with the next phase in my studies: the thesis process.  I’ve begun thinking about my topic and my committee as well as my potential research interests.  I want to make sure my thesis will include content I can build upon in the future.  For about a year now, I’ve kept a running list of potential topics, things I like, things I read about in my spare time, things I’m interested in.  I also started keeping a Pinterest board of fascinating popular press articles.  These articles and my list helped to inform the direction my thesis will take.

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So far, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am a qualitative versus quantitative researcher.  I also know that I am a social constructionist, and because of my background and my first M.A. in English Literature, I gravitate toward critical theories.  For the past few months, I’ve been studying and reading about many modern communication theories in Theories of Human Communication by Littlejohn and Foss.  I added the theories and theorists that interested me the most to my ongoing list of potential thesis topics.  Theorists I enjoy include Goffman, Butler, Buber, and Bakhtin.  I have recently studied facework as well as standpoint theory, and my favorite theory from a previous course was dialogue.  Tonight in class, the most fascinating fellow student paper was on Kenneth Burke.  There are so many ideas still swimming in my head that it will take me another few months to finalize and figure out my direction.  My goal is to have my thesis topic nailed down at the end of the summer.

For my remaining coursework, I am taking two core classes: Qualitative Research Methods and Statistics.  I am very excited about Qualitative.  Since the thought of taking Statistics at the graduate level is enough to make me want to drop out of college (kidding… kind of), I was happy to hear from our graduate coordinator that I could take a Sociology Statistics class focusing on application in the social sciences.  My remaining electives will be Communication and Conflict, Communication in Close Relationships, and a course from the Women’s Studies Division called Theories in Gender Studies.  It’s hard to imagine after only a few additional classes, I will have another degree and be one step closer to a Ph.D. in Communication.

It’s that time of year… Students are in the home stretch before graduation.  Are you one of them?  Or are you, like me, in the middle of a degree program?  Please share your experience with me in the “Comments” section.

Now That’s How You Create An Infographic Map

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March Madness is officially over, and we have a 2014 NCAA men’s basketball national champion: the University of Connecticut.  As a graduate of the University of Florida, I was heartbroken to see my Gators lose to UConn; however, I was proud we got to the Final Four this year and even prouder that our only tournament loss came to the best team in the nation.  Undefeated in the SEC and 36-3 is also nothing to frown about.

Despite my passion for college basketball (and also college football… thank you, Dad!), I was shocked to see how many athletic coaches across the nation raked in enough cash each year to be considered the highest paid public employee in their entire state.  Take a look at the infographic below:

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The information is shocking, and it is beautifully displayed.  I can clearly and quickly internalize the data, the colors work well together, and the type is simple and easy to read.  The only thing I didn’t like was the logo in the bottom right corner.

Who is the highest paid public employee in your state?  How do you feel about it?

Presentation Best Practices for Students… And You!

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Tomorrow, Chiara Ojeda and I will deliver a guest lecture for Sports Marketing and Media students’ final project presentations.  My superteacher partner-in-crime and I came up with a short lesson to refresh the memories of our students before those speeches.  Below, you’ll find a copy of the handout we’ll share with those students in the morning:

Presentation Best Practices

Outlining Your Presentation

  •       Begin with a hook.
  •       You’ve worked really hard on WHAT you are presenting.  It is now essential to convey WHY to your audience.  Start with why.  Why does this matter?  Why should your audience care?  Come back to your core meaning – your “WHY” – throughout your entire presentation.
  •      Tell us the meaning behind your data.  Numbers are meaningless unless you put them in perspective for your audience.
  •  Incorporate storytelling into your presentation in some way.
  • End with a clincher.
  • After you thank your audience, open the floor for questions.  Remember that it’s okay to answer a question with “I don’t know!”

Slideshow

  •       Slides are a visual medium.  They are designed to support your message through visuals.  Do not write your speaking notes on your slides.  Those belong on your notecards.  Instead, use one large, clear image on each slide.
  •       Ensure each and every image is cited and licensed for commercial use.
  •       Add a little bit of relevant text on top of each image.
  •       Use one consistent font on every single slide.
  •       Use one consistent color scheme on every single slide.

Delivery

  •       Rehearse so many times that you are comfortable with your material.  How do you know you’ve reached the “comfortable” point?  Consider this: if the projector crashed and you had to present without slides, would you be okay?  If your notes fell out of your hands, would you be able to keep moving?  If the answer to both questions is “yes,” you’ve done your job!
  •       Do not read your speech.

Rehearsing

  •       Ensure you and/or your entire team has met multiple times to rehearse
  •       Rehearse formally!  Use notecards and time yourselves presenting along with your slideshow.

On Presentation Day…

  •       Arrive early.
  •       Look professional.
  •       Prepare your materials and test out your slideshow well before class begins.
  •       Stick to the time limit.
  •       Stay in place after you are finished for Q&A with your panel.

These tips will be helpful for the Sports Marketing and Media students, but they are also a great refresher for anyone giving a presentation.  What tips would you add to this short list?