The afternoon keynote session at the Presentation Summit on Monday (October 13, 2014) was delivered by Jim Endicott.
Jim started by saying he was going to share presenting ideas that attendees could use straightaway. He asked the audience to suggest some presentation scenarios — the audience responded by providing scenarios such as product launches, board room meetings, and courtroom presentations.
Jim then said that with all sorts of presentation scenarios, what does not change is that audiences are terribly distracted and / or so busy these days. These audiences could be all over the world, and yes, this world is not full of horrible presenters. But the world is indeed full of average presenters with average slides that contain average messages. These average content types are forgotten very fast — especially as audiences see so much through the course of just one single day at work.
Jim asked everyone to imagine that they had just delivered that amazing presentation — and then just before the audience leaves, what perception would your audience take about you? The audience responded by saying electric, knowledgeable, interesting, persuasive, unique, and passionate. About “passionate”, Jim mentioned that it was one skill that overpowers everything else — if the speaker is passionate enough, audiences may forgive other shortcomings.
Then Jim explained about the 3 different concepts that will help you get heard better these days — two of these are “what” concepts whereas the last one pertains to “how”:
90% of time people spend in a presentation is gone with presenters occupied with the “what” concepts. It’s the remaining time, that actually involves the “how” concept that is important. Jim discussed a recent event in which an important presentation was delivered with no “how” concepts — what was unfortunate was that an otherwise great script was thus rendered useless.
Jim then said that “People are not looking for perfect presenters. They are looking for people they can relate to.”
Jim then called for some volunteers to do the coaching part of his keynote session — more about these volunteers later in this post.
Jim then put up a slide that served as an anchor for the rest of his session:
The Distinction Coaching Model
|Questions to ask||Faculties||Goal to achieve|
|How long?||Eyes||3-5 sec.”conversations”|
|Any?||Movement||Natural and purposeful|
|Missing punctuation?||Voice||Pause, pace, variety “chunking”|
Jim then discussed Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, in which he discusses “Thin Slicing”, which is based on findings from Nalini Ambady Research. He thereafter showed a video called “Ricky Bobby (Talladega Nights) — Everybody struggles with their hands” — this video showed very exaggerated hand movements!
Jim then started with the pre-coaching part of his keynote by discussing foundation skills that forge first impressions — he suggested presenters start with posture. “Start with a strong ready position — it is important not to droop. Next you can use some great gestures with your hands. Then affirm that you are not intimidated by the room, step forward — and you will look über-content.”
Jim also advised that to strive for visual engagement by stepping forward to connect confidently. Also thereafter retain a good neutral position, to appear relaxed and comfortable.
Bringing up the science of confidence, Jim referred to Amy Cuddy, and her TED session — he talked about her ideas about high and low power poses. Jim suggested:
“So open up yourself more rather than closing in for your posture — this will change your bio-chemical levels and make you more confident.”
Then the coaching exercise began — two volunteers, Steve and Sue took part. Jim made Steve hold two small dumb bells so that his hands did not move — Steve then stepped forward, and then without moving the hands too much, talked to individual people 3-5 seconds at a time. This made Steve appear confident. Then Sue did the same.
Jim took the audience to the next level and asked them to explore gestures — he asked to make gestures bigger — larger, and make them linger just a little more longer so as to not move too fast. He also suggested that everyone create their own gesture library.
Some emotions for which everyone needs to create a gesture in their own personal library include:
Jim then discussed voice, and how speakers can use their voice better. He introduced voice-chunking. This actually means dividing your speech with pauses. Examples:
2 sentences and a pause
3-4 sentences and a pause
1-2 sentences and a pause
Jim mentioned that such voice-chunking was even helpful for speakers whose first language was not English.
Jim then discussed about establishing trust and believability. If people don’t rust you, they will not act upon what you say.
Working upon eye communication thus is very critical. Jim asked the audience to look at Jane McGonigal’s TED Talk and notice her eye contact skills. Variations in eye contact are important.
Jim asked presenters to create anchors in the audience — imagine their hands are up — then move from one imaginary hand to another imaginary hand and talk to them as part of talking to the entire audience. Walk on the stage when you move from one anchor to another. Jim made the volunteers use these skills. He then played the volunteer’s performances on video without sound exploring their gesture libraries, movement, eye contact, etc.
Jim ended his keynote with an important thought: “Don’t run away from this process because you are going to do this all your life. So do the hard thing — when everyone is running away from this task, you run towards it.”
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