Links of the Week: 2013.03


The links of the week this week will help you toward a greater understanding of audience analysis.  If your goal is to develop a strong presentation that will engage and resonate with your audience, these three articles are for you…


First, Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes posted his first article of 2013: “How to Conduct Audience Analysis.”  This is the second article in his three-part audience analysis series, and it gives nine strategies to conduct audience analysis.  While you’ll want to read all three articles in the series, this “how to” will be your favorite because of its practicality.

Presentation Dynamics shared “Putting the Audience in your ‘I’ Sight.”  We’re all guilty of overusing the “I” in presentations, but this article gives the “I” perspective.  Howser writes, “There is something about standing in front of an audience that seems to sharpen our ‘I’ sight. It seems that all we can see that’s worth talking about is ‘I did this’, ‘I know that’ and ‘I think the other thing.’  It’s no surprise.  We’re often taught that we should write and speak about what we know best, and there’s nothing we know better than ourselves. But there’s also no faster way to lose an audience” (Source).  With an in-depth look at how to reframe your ethos in a presentation, you can resonate with your audience in a more powerful way.  Howser’s article is a must-read to help us combat the “I” sight!

Last, but not least, my good friend and colleague Chiara Ojeda posted “Audience Analysis: Segmenting The Audience.”  Tweak Your Slides is a must-follow blog!  “Segmenting The Audience” explains why audience analysis is important and how to incorporate your audience into the preparation stage of your next presentation.  My favorite part of her article is her application through the example of President Barack Obama’s address to the nation after the elementary school shooting.  When we see how a professional presenter segments his or her audience, we can learn how to cultivate those skills in our own speeches.

What great articles on audience analysis have you read lately?


Guest Post For Six Minutes


Working with Andrew Dlugan is a writer’s dream.  He is an amazing editor, and his encouragement and mentorship has meant a lot to me over the past six months.  I worked with Dlugan on two previous articles for his blog, Six Minutes.  These articles included “10 Presentation Habits My Students – And You – Must UN-Learn” and “What Is An Ignite Presentation, and Why Should You Try It?”  My most recent article is on eye contact myths.


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Read “3 Eye Contact Myths… and How To Avoid Them” here.

Do you guest write for blogs other than your own?  Where has your work been published?

Links of the Week: 2013.02


Today, our “Links of the Week” all relate to public speaking and presentation.  From Nancy Duarte’s blog, we have six tips on overcoming presentation anxiety.  From Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, we learn how to give a great presentation with tips from an adman.  The Wall Street Journal shares “The Science of Persuading People,” an important skill to know when delivering a persuasive message.  Lastly, an article recommending five public speaking books kicks off your 2013 reading list.

First, Nancy Duarte’s blog, “Stop That Stutter: 6 Steps To Overcome Presentation Performance Anxiety” teaches us to 1) visualize something positive, 2) get familiar, 3) rehearse x3, 4) take a deep breath, 5) pace yourself, and 6) get some sleep (Source).  Author Mark Heaps explains each step and offers great advice for tackling your presentation anxiety using a multifaceted approach.

One of my favorite websites is Brain Pickings by Maria Popova.  “How To Give a Great Presentation: Timeless Advice from a Legendary Adman” gives a step-by-step plan on how to organize an effective speech and examines the qualities of speeches that make a point.  The final piece of timeless advice Popova shares is this:

“The most effective speeches and presentations sound as if they have been spoken, ad-lib, and not written down at all. Great presenters and speakers make it all sound so easy and so natural that one assumes it just pours out of them. It almost never does” (Source).

The Wall Street Journal published “The Science Behind Persuading People” by Parminder Bahra.  This article is a must-read if you deliver persuasive presentations.  With advice on consensus messaging and reciprocity, Bahra’s article contains this fantastic quote, “‘Influence isn’t an art,’ says Mr. Martin, ‘there’s over 60 years of research and evidence that shows how we can effectively move people. My advice would be to learn the science'” (Source).  The article will definitely help you begin to learn that science.

Finally, “Five Great Books for Public Speaking to Help You Rock The Podium in 2013” contains new additions to your reading list.  I’ve only read Nancy Duarte’s HBR Guide To Persuasive Presentations from the list, so I’m excited to dive into the other four books this year.

What great public speaking articles did you stumble upon this week?

Links of the Week: 2013.01


“Links of the Week” are typically great reads I’ve found on Twitter or on my favorite blogs and websites.  These two favorites all relate to public speaking as well as setting goals (whether they are presentation-related or not) in the New Year.  Even if it wasn’t your New Year’s resolution, working on becoming a more effective communicator will push you above your competition this year!

In “15 Seconds to a Better Presentation,” Geoffrey James gives us two dos and two don’ts for the introduction of our presentation: 1) do have someone else introduce you; 2) don’t begin by telling an opening joke; 3) don’t begin with the background; and 4) do begin with a startling fact or statistic (Source).  I like that James focuses on the introduction, as this can make or break you in the eyes of your audience.  In those 15 seconds he references in his article’s title, an audience will make a decision about who you are as a presenter and whether or not your speech will be boring or awesome.  Within 15 seconds, your audience will develop a first impression of you and determine whether or not they want to continue listening to your speech or check out and play The Sims on their phones.

Most of us don’t know how to establish ethos.  Of the three modes of persuasion, ethos is the most difficult.  Explaining your character and credibility to the audience is not an easy task, and infusing it in your speech in a seamless way is even more challenging.  You don’t want to come off as a self-absorbed jerk when you explain your credentials, but you don’t want to leave your audience wondering who you are and why you’re speaking to them.  While I agree that it is helpful to have someone introduce you, I think it’s even better to work on building your ethos into your presentation.  Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes has THE article on the three pillars of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos.  Learn more about establishing your ethos by reading Dlugan’s amazing article on the subject.

In addition to ethos, we must remember that our introduction should be engaging and authentic.  In order to do so, a corny joke always falls flat.  Instead, use the P.U.N.C.H. method to create a strong intro that connects with audiences in a real, exciting way.

The second article that caught my attention this week was “What To Do If Other People’s Success Discourages You.”  I think that with 2013 and all of our resolutions for the brand new year, we must keep in mind the tips that SerenDestiny’s Sam Horn gives us.  Horn says we cannot compare ourselves with others.  Instead, we can 1) stop comparing ourselves to others and 2) appreciate the success of other people while still succeeding ourselves (Source).  Because I am the most competitive person on this planet, I have a difficult time NOT comparing myself with other people.  It’s a double-edged sword… On one hand, this competitive nature pushes me to be my best self because I constantly work hard to produce quality work.  On the other hand, I feel discouraged if someone’s success trumps my own.  It’s a personal trait I vowed to work on in 2013, so I was thankful for Horn’s article!  I love the idea that “Comparison is the root of all unhappiness . . . and the ruin of self-esteem.  Comparing ourselves to others causes us to lose sight of our own success” (Source).  How do you make sure you are keeping on track with your New Year’s resolutions without discouraging yourself by comparing your goals and your successes with other people?

What great articles have you read so far in 2013?

Links of the Week: Dec 10-16


The art and science of 21st century presenting (also called “Presentation 2.0” by Phil Waknell and “The Presentation Revolution” by Ethos3 and others) involves understanding that presentations are a three-legged stool comprised of 1) content, 2) delivery, and 3) visual design (the slideshow or any other visual aid).  The links of the week this week reinforce each of the three legs of the presentation stool:


In “The Night 8 People Stole 50 Hearts,” the Duarte Design team reminds us of the importance of story.  What I love most is the idea of revision going hand in hand with being able to tell an effective story.

I teach a course called Professional Communication and Presentation to both on campus and online business students.  When I ask them to practice their speech with me, students will often protest that practicing will “ruin the surprise.”  The fact is, a great speech is great no matter how many times you hear it.  Practice and preparation don’t detract from the quality of a speech; in fact, the only thing the two Ps do is enhance the quality of the speech’s content AND add to the audience’s overall experience in a positive way.

Practice and preparation are the first and second qualities of an effective story as outlined in the Duarte article.  Author Paula Tesch says, “In the final weeks of preparation, each speaker performed their story a lot. Revision rounds with their peers, once-overs with their content mentors, dry runs with the designers creating their visuals, and a dress rehearsal with the entire production team. Each time a speaker told his or her story, it got better. Dramatically better. Both the delivery and the story itself improved with each performance. We practiced what we preach, and it only made us want to preach louder” (Source).  In my experience, if a student practices his or her speech in front of me, the speech only gets better, stronger, and more powerful.

Content-wise, we may often feel like we want to keep things in for the element of surprise.  However, making sure your speech resonates with your audience is more important than the element of surprise.  Additionally, as Tesch reminds us, each time we share our ideas, our message, our content, with others, we improve.


“The Importance of Eye Contact in Presentations” contains a video by Ethos3 CEO Scott Schwertly.  I love the use of video when talking about a delivery concept because it is difficult to write about delivery without demonstrating what you mean.  The video does the trick!

Schwertly explains that eye contact from a presenter determines whether or not the audience feels valued and respected.  If the presenter is reading from notes or from slides, Schwertly says, the speaker’s delivery tells the audience, “I don’t care about you.”  Audience-centered delivery does what’s best for the audience, no matter how nervous the presenter may feel.  And audiences need to feel connected with the presenter in order for the message, the content, to resonate.

Of all of the elements of delivery – hand gestures, voice, movement – eye contact should be the presenter’s primary focus while he or she is speaking to a group of people.  Eye contact is the most important way for an audience to connect with a presenter, and it should be the primary delivery tool to be cultivated and developed.  After all, if a presenter maintains strong and steady eye contact, the audience can forgive other minor mistakes such as verbal fillers or a nervous gesture.


Effective visual design is the trickiest leg of the presentation stool for us to embrace.  Tradition tells us we should fill up our slides with bullets.  Have you ever stopped to wonder why you do this?  When you’re in the audience and a presenter displays yet another death-by-bulletpoint slide, how do you feel?  Bored?  Disinterested?  So why do we use this ineffective medium and perpetuate the slideument as the only way to design visual aids?

Designing effective slides to meet the needs of your audience will ensure that you connect and resonate with the people you’re speaking with.  Learn more about how to create a “good” slide here.

Once we actually learn how to create strong visuals, it’s time to share those with the world.  We can spread the presentation revolution to others because once they see the RIGHT way of designing slides, they’ll never go back to death-by-PowerPoint ever again! In “Presentation Tip: Sharing Your Presentation Online,” Dave Paradi suggests Brainshark and Slideshare.  Brainshark, Paradi says, “allows you to add an audio track to your slides and create a video. But you don’t have to add audio at all. You can skip that step and use this service to simply allow people to view your slides” (Source).  He also suggests we upload our visual presentations to Slideshare, one of my favorite websites ever.  Check out “You Suck At PowerPoint!” on Slideshare here.

What great public speaking and presentation articles did you read this week?

Links of the Week: Week of Nov 12-18


This week, I enjoyed so many great reads that I had to force myself to narrow them down to just three.

The first comes from Andrew Dlugan’s Six Minutes.  Audience analysis is a difficult topic to teach others, and it’s even more difficult to study and apply when building a speech.  That I’ve seen, Nancy Duarte has done the best job of explaining audience analysis and the needs of the audience in Resonate, but I really enjoyed Dlugan’s perspective.  In “Audience Analysis: A Guide for Speakers,” Dlugan breaks down demographic, psychological, and contextual analysis.  So often, we think we’ve successfully analyzed our audience… My students, especially, think they’ve done their job as far as audience analysis goes if they know their audience’s age, gender, and race.  As Dlugan’s article points out, if done properly, audience analysis is so much more than that.

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My second favorite article this week was written by Angela DeFinis.  She is one of my favorite public speaking and presentation experts to follow on Twitter because she ONLY Tweets about effective communication practices.  Follow her here.

“How To Assess Your Public Speaking Comfort Level” is such a great tool for analyzing your presentation anxiety.  Knowing where you stand on the “nervous” scale and learning how to cope with those feelings is so essential on the quest to be a strong presenter.  DeFinis defines four specific categories or “levels” of comfort when presenting and asks us to see which category we relate to most.

Learn more from Chiara Ojeda’s amazing Slideshare presentation “Conquer Presentation Anxiety” here.

My third and final favorite read this week is “3 Essential TED Talks for the Presenter” by Ethos3.  In light of TED’s BILLIONTH view, these three Talks celebrate ideas worth spreading.  Ethos3 divides their 3 favorites in accordance with the presentation stool: content by Jill Bolte Taylor; design by Al Gore; and delivery by Beeban Kidron.  That got me thinking about the 3 TED Talks I’d recommend for each “leg” of the presentation stool, so look out for my upcoming post!  Thanks for the inspiration, Ethos3.

If you’re TED-obsessed like me, Tweet your favorite TED Talk using the hashtag #TEDBillion.

Links of the Week: Week of Nov 5-11


This week, three articles caught my attention: a Q&A with Nancy Duarte on TED Blog; a storytelling post featuring Ira Glass from Ethos3; and an article on using the rhetorical question in presentations from Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes.

New on TED Blog this week is “How to give more persuasive presentations,” a Q&A with Nancy Duarte.  Duarte’s brand new book, the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.  The interview asks Duarte about the three keys to a strong presentation; what she learned from her own TED Talk; how to overcome presentation anxiety; the best way to begin creating a presentation; and a question about her book’s audience.

My favorite part of the interview relates to Thursday’s post: “Effective Visual Communication: Vintage Slides from GE.”  Duarte explains, “When you look at even how businesses communicated in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s — they were so much clearer and well-crafted. I recently went to the Stanford Library and I got a bunch of old GE Board meetings from, like, 1957. And I thought, “These are so beautiful!” Their presentations referenced history, they quoted things, they crafted their words in such a beautiful way. Then PowerPoint entered into the mix and suddenly there wasn’t any desire to craft anymore. I think TEDTalks have brought the desire for the craft back” (Source).  It’s so interesting to me that we knew how to present well until PowerPoint and Keynote – the very programs designed to help make presentations stronger.

The second article that grabbed my attention this week comes from Ethos3: “Telling Stories Like Ira Glass.”  Since Chiara Ojeda and I use this very same clip of Glass in our online class, I was excited to hear the Ethos3 analysis.  Watch the clip below:


Ethos3 explains that in the Glass video, the two essential components of storytelling are the anecdote and the moment of reflection.  Ethos3 explains, “Use these storytelling building blocks in your next presentation. As Glass shrewdly points out, no matter how prosaic the topic, if you put it into a story framework, it has momentum and suspense automatically. Your audience will be compelled to listen to hear what comes next” (Source).

The final article of the week comes from my favorite Andrew Dlugan of Six Minutes.  Dlugan’s article is “How many ways can you use rhetorical questions in your speech?” He gives you nine different ways to use the rhetorical question in your next presentation.  From getting your audience to agree with you to stirring emotions to engaging people to think, the rhetorical question is a device we can all begin implementing in our presentations.

What great articles have you been reading lately?