Underlying Problem – You are running an in-company product briefing. You want some interaction to engage the audience. You plan to do it by asking a few questions. However, one after another, the response is lukewarm – most audience just keep their heads down as you post the questions. The above situation is especially common in Asia as we tend to be reserved in public. Continue reading “PQF #5 – Gifts, no matter how trivial”
The Presentation Quick Fix this time is ‘block the screen whenever you speak for a considerable period of time’. And here is why and how.
The visual aid e.g. flipchart, PPT, projector does not always ‘aid’ our presentation if we do not use it properly. This is especially true on projector. Nowadays, projectors produce very bright and clear image. More importantly, participants / audience have generally developed a tendency to look at the screen NO MATTER WHETHER the content is relevant or not. This is true. In fact, the same applies sometimes to presenters as well. Some presenters are so used to look at the screen when they talk. I had a participant who turned back and looked at the screen as he talked, even though it was a blank screen. Habit rules. This phenomenon is like that at home – sometimes we look at the TV set without really paying attention on the content. People are more and more used to look at the TV set or screen with brain blanked. Perhaps we are resting our brain, somehow. Observe yourself next time at home.
In some sense, the visual aid is competing with the presenter for the participants’ attention. So, the question is how to ‘win’ the battle. Easy, block the screen and stand to the middle of the stage whenever you need to talk for a considerable while. But how? There are a few ways:
1. Use the ‘B’ or ‘W’ key – When you are in Powerpoint ‘Slide Show’ mode, you can empty the screen by simply press a button. If you press the ‘B’ key, the screen will be totally black. And white for the ‘W’ key.
2. Use the remote presentation device – There are a lot of good remote presentation devices. Basically, they allow you to page up and down without using the keyboard i.e. you can freely walk on the stage. Some good devices even have a button equivalent to the ‘B’ key on the keyboard. See the picture on the right – it is the Kensington device which I use. Oh, and Kensington now has a better one which you can use AAA batteries i.e. easier to replace the power.
3. Use the ‘STILL’ / ‘HOLD’ / ‘PAUSE’ or ‘MUTE’ / ‘NO SHOW’ key on the projector remote control – There is a downside using above 2 methods – you can do nothing on your computer e.g. amending a slide or retrieve another PPT. For example, after you press the ‘B’ key, both the projector and the computer screen will become black. However sometimes, you block the screen because you want to find out a file from c: drive and open it. Well, you do not want to let your Coca Cola client see that you have a Pepsi Cola file on your c: drive!! Here is the solution – your projector normally comes with a remote control. Use it. There is likely a ‘STILL’ / ‘HOLD’ / ‘PAUSE’ button. If you press it, the projector will stay on the existing image, even though you change the image on the computer. In addition, there is a ‘MUTE’ / ‘NO SHOW’. If you press it, the projector will project nothing.
Remember, point this remote control to the projector, NOT your computer!!
4. Simply block the projector physically – I like this trick the best – just simply put a cover in front of the lens. See the pictures on the right. Very straight-forward. You do not need to find the remote control which hides somewhere on the table. You will be embarrassed because you are already holding the mic, the notes and the pens. And this trick will never disappoint you like what an electronic device will!! I always use unless the projector is hung from the ceiliing!!
PS Note however that you should not block and unblock the screen too frequently. And if you find the participants are paying real attention on the screen, tell them that you will block the screen before you do it. Otherwise, it will be very disturbing to them.
There is no magic. I can guarantee you that your presentation performance will improve simply arriving early at the scene.
My experience tells me that at least some 30% of the difficulties encountered by people in the presentation can be avoided by having enough time to prepare on site. Let me just name a few benefits by being there early:
Nervousness – The more time you are in the venue before it starts, the more comfortable you will become. You will get used to the temperature, space, etc. Well, from another angle, in the case that you feel uncomfortable when you arrive, you will have time to change the environment as you arrive early e.g. re-arrange the room setting, or even change the room if you are, say, in a hotel;
Knowing your audience better – Being early there, you will have time to greet and chat with the early-arriving audience. This will be good additional knowledge on top of any understanding on the audience which you find out before the presentation or training date. You will be surprised sometimes. For example, I once found out by chatting with them that quite a significant portion of the participants will not be able to come. By knowing it earlier, I had time to re-adjust the training activities accordingly;
Let the audience knowing you – This is equally important. Let them know you as a person. You can gain rapport better this way. Well, at least those who have talked to you will be more willing to ask question / respond to your questions as the presentation starts.
Equipment – One major source of trouble in presentation comes from the equipments themselves. Whilst they are supposed to help, they create trouble equally. Still remember the last time when you arrived 10 minutes before the presentation started, you realized that your laptop re-booted by itself, or the projector did not show the image properly, or there is no ink in the flipchart pens….. Well, Murphy Law always applies, especially when you are short of time.
So, a quick-fix to improve your presentation is simply to arrive early. For me as a trainer, I always arrive 1 hour in advance.
[In case you do not know, here is what and why PQF.]
To illustrate my previous post of the same topic, here is a real example which one presenter used in the Toastmaster lunch session this week. She said, ‘Let me start by asking 3 questions. First, please raise your hand if you come here today to improve your public speaking skills.’
(Lot of hands raised… and energy in the air….)
‘Thanks for raising your hand. I see majority of you coming here to improve your public speaking skills. My second question is that please again raise your hand if you come here today to just check out what Toastmaster is about.’
(Again, lot of hands raise…. and good energy…)
“Thanks again. Again, I see most hands in the air this time. It is fine and natural that you come here to find out more about something which you may invest your precious time in. Now, my last question. Please raise your hand if you come here just for the free lunch!’
(Laugher in the floor….)
In short, with just these 3 simple questions, she achieved the followings:
- indicating the purpose of the session
- creating easy and fun atmosphere
- easing her stress (if any) by having laughter together with the participants
- engaging the floor by giving something for them to do
All you need to do is to spend some time in advance to think of simple questions like this!!
[In case you do not know, here is what and why PQF.]
Underlying Problem – Presentation to a lot of people in organisations that I have worked is equal to ‘I tell you something’. They would maintain an one-way traffic all the way till the end (or the ‘Q&A session’). They miss the need to involve the audience. As I discussed here before, interaction is important to effective presentation or training, and especially facilitation. Click here to see my post in why interaction is important.
Ideally, presenters should initiate interaction from time to time during the presentation. And we should use various ways to achieve interaction e.g. questioning, activity, case study, group discussion, game….. Well, again, my training experience told me that it is not easy to do this in a short period of time. So, here is the quick fix.
Quick Fix – ‘Ask an “answerable” question at the start’. Prepare an “answerable question” in advance and ask it after you introduce yourself. What do I mean by an “answerable question”?
1. low risk – The risk of being embarrassed in answering the question should be low. In other words, either most should know the answer, or that there is no right or wrong answer. For example, when you try to arouse interaction in a Compliance presentation, you would like to avoid asking ‘Please tell me which PBOC policy is related to arrangement re Large and Suspicious transaction.’ (… it is not easy to answer…) or ‘Raise your hand if you have read the latest policy re Large and Suspicious transaction.’ (… it could be embarrassing since probably most have not read it..). Instead, you could ask ‘Imagine you were the regulator, how large the transaction amount should be in order to be considered a Large transaction’. And then you write down 3 choices on the flipchart against which people will raise hand to indicate their choices.
2. Large Scale Participation – This leads to the second attribute of an “answerable question”. It should easily allow large scale participation e.g. those which allow the audience to raise hand, or those exciting enough which people will shout out the answer (note that in China, or Asia, people are more reserved to speak up, especially at the start). Again, example. You will avoid asking ‘What could the bank do in order to comply the latest Anti-money laundering policy?’. Instead, you will ask ‘Which of the following should the bank do in order to comply the latest AML policy? A. Quit the business. B. Fire those who do not understand the policy. C. All related colleague to study the policy well.’ And remember, you do not just stop and wait for the answer after stating the options. You need to facilitate the hand-raising. You will say ‘OK, now you know the options. Please raise your hand if you pick A……’.
By large scale participation, I also mean you will ask the question in a way which shows interaction, and thus warm up the atmosphere. For example, you want to show that there is thing in life which people know the importance but just do not do it. You ask ‘Raise your hand if you have paid attention to the safety demonstration last time when you were on the plane’. Of course, most will not raise their hands. Instead, you will ask ‘Raise your hand if you have NOT paid attention to the safety demonstration last time when you were on the plane’. Most will raise their hands in this case. People see the hands in the air, and the atmosphere gets warmed up gradually.
3. Fun – it should be fun to answer the question. Simple, people like to have fun. And adult learns better with fun. The above 3 examples show how fun can be added in the questions.
So, what is your “answerable” question for your coming presentation? Spend 10 mins whilst you are commuting to work, and you will have one!!
速成诀窍 – “在开始的时候问一个‘容易回答’的问题”，事先准备一个“容易回答”的问题，在你介绍完自己以后就问这个问题。我所谓的“容易回答”的问题是：
1. 低风险 – 听众不会因回答此问题是太冒险。换一句话来说，要么大部分人应该知道答案，或者这问题是没有绝对对或错的答案。比如，你想在一次合规演讲里鼓励互动，你可以避免问“请告诉我人民银行对于大额可疑交易的规定是什么”（这个问题不容易回答）或者“如果你有读高过最新的关于大额可疑交易的规定，请举手”（…由于通常大部分人也没有读过，会容易做成尴尬）。取而代之，你可以问“想象你是监管者，你觉得多大金额的交易才应该被订为作所谓大额交易”。然后你在白板上写上3个选择，让大家举手选择。
2. 大规模参与 –这点引出“容易回答”的问题的第二个特征，这就是该问题可以很容易地让大家都参与到其中，比如，那些让大家举手选择的问题，或者是非常刺激的，可以吸引大家脱口而出回答的问题（注意，在中国或者亚洲，人们比较害羞，不太会大声说出来，特别在刚开始的时候）再举一个例子，你需要避免问“为了符合最新的反洗钱规定，银行应该做哪些工作？”取而代之，你可以问“为了符合最新的反洗钱规定，银行应该做以下哪项工作？A. 不做生意 B. 开除那些不懂条例的员工 C. 所有相关人员都需要充分学习政策” 记住，你不能在问完问题后就停下来等他们回答。你需要引导他们举手。你可以说“好了，现在你们知道选择了，选A的请举手…”
3. 有趣 –我们应该让听众觉得回答问题是好玩的。很简单，大家都喜欢有趣的事情，在好玩的环境成人会学习的更好。从上面的3个例子中可以看出如何使用提问增加趣味。
Underlying Problem – Most presenters (at least those in our organisation) allow the white screen to take the stage rather themselves. They stand (or even sit) on the side, look at the screen themselves whilst talking, and some even read directly from the slides. There is lack of eye contact, and under-utilization of his / her body language. Human connection is discounted and presentation becomes less effective.
Ideally, the presenters should realise such issue and correct it. He / she should know how to take the stage back from the white screen. For example, ‘tell and show’ rather than ‘show and tell’. And avoid reading directly from the slides. And blank the screen and step forward whilst talking…. Often, it takes time for them especially for the presentation beginners to really adopt the above. It is not easy to change habit. In fact, I met a presenter who will turn his head to look at the white screen even though there is nothing on it!!!
Quick Fix – ‘Blank the screen for the 1st 1 minute’. Just present in the beginning with the screen off. With that, the presenter is bound to have eye contact, and the audience is bound to look at him / her (instead of the screen). The audience will feel that the presenter is taking charge, but not the screen (or projector), at least in the beginning for a better impression!! And as time goes, such habit of presenting without slides can be built up by lengthening the time or as the presenters get used to this 1st 1 minute.
Presentation skills class is my favourite class among all. Since there are only a few participants and the outcome is more observable by nature, I can feel my impact better. (Or know my failure more easily…..!!) In addition, I like it as somehow it makes me think a lot about behavioral change. For example, it is one thing that you convince the participant about the importance of ‘eye contact’, it is another thing that he / she can keep look at others’ eye as he / she speaks publicly. It is not easy to change the behavior. But this is what good training should do.
When I first started to deliver my presentation skills training, I would give them lot of ways on how to present better e.g. eye contact, story, analogy, diagram, pause, gesture, posture….. anyway… a lot!! More and more I realised that ‘too much’ will just make the participants more difficult to change their behavior. This is especially the case for those who just start to think about presentation skills. And for them particularly, theory e.g. “WIIFM” does not help much, at least not very quickly. They can better gain from the class by knowing specific TO-DO list (or NOT-TO-DO).
So, I am putting up a list of ‘Presentation Quick Fix’. They are basically TO-DO items which are:
- Simple to understand
- Easy to adopt even under presentation stress
- Quick to show resul
I believe that they will help people to yield short-term result quickly, and make behavioral change easier.
Stay tuned!! The first one is coming soon.