You will never fit everything in

Here is a secret for all speakers:

“You will never fit everything in”

I have seen many presentations where the speaker says “I have three points to share”, and then about five minutes before the end, he says, “Ok, and now my second point…”. This inevitably ends up in his presentation going overtime, or on him rushing through the last two points of his presentation.
This usually happen because the speaker is desperately trying to fit everything in!

The  trick is to realise that you will not fit everything into your speech. You are going to have to figure out what is most important in your time constraints to share with your audience. No matter how interesting your topic, or how much you have to say, you will need to prune your speech.

Here are a few hints:

  • Decide which elements of your topic are most relevant to your audience, and which you are going to share.
    Know which parts of your presentation you can cut on the fly should you need to (either because your time got cut, or because you took longer than planned)
  • If you have a fixed number of points to share (eg: the 4 P’s of Powerful Presentations), allocate enough time to each point, so that you don’t need to rush at the end
  • The audience very seldom know exactly what you are going to share, so if you leave something out (unless it is really crucial to your message), nobody except yourself will know.
  • Finally practise practise practise. The more prepared you are, the better your presentation will be!

How to make money as a speaker without charging a speaking fee

I am in the process of assisting with the organisation of our Toastmasters Conference in Southern Africa. Now, because we are not for profit, we have very little money to pay our guest speakers.

However for many of the speakers, they are literally losing income by not accepting a paid gig when they are speaking to us for no cost. So for one of our speakers, we needed to figure out a way to make it work.

Then, I something that I learned in a CD course called “Get Paid to Speak by Next Week“, by Darren laCroix came to mind, and that is that there are ways to make money as a speaker without charging a platform fee.

One of the easiest of these is Back of Room Sales, or BORS. Very simply, in exchange for speaking for free, you  arrange with the conference team to provide you with facilities to sell your products after your presentation. In fact, very often you will do this regardless of your speaking fee.

So, our conference team approached the speaker with the following suggestions:

  1. We provide a high-profile table with two volunteers to assist on the day of his speech
  2. We sell his products in our “stock shop”, for the duration of the conference, and all proceeds go to him
  3. He speaks directly before a tea break, so that he has an opportunity to work the room, sign books etc directly after his speech
  4. If 20% of the delegates buy his book at R100, that is about R5000 he will be making, which is not bad, considering that he could have received nothing at all for the presentation

We took this offer to him, and he gladly accepted our proposal. This was truly a win-win situation.

So, as a speaker, are you going to do something similar? If you are approached to speak, and they cannot afford to pay you (or to pay you much), how about suggesting a similar arrangement.

Now, some of you are saying that you don’t have a product. Here is a secret from Darren. “That does not matter!” If you have a great speech, you will most likely have books and CD’s that have had an impact on you, books and CD’s that have helped determine your outlook, and influenced your message. Those are perfect places to look at useful products that you can sell at your presentations, get used to the idea of selling products, and make some extra cash. For example, I often speak on PowerPoint, and there are some great books that have helped my shape my views on PowerPoint. These are books that I believe will help anybody to give a great presentation. These are perfect starting points for products.

So, go out there, and sell products!

If you really want to learn about creating and selling products, you need to get the CD set “Get Paid to Speak by Next Week“. By the way, I paid for it in two speaking engagements!

Book Review – Speak Up!

Speak Up!  A woman’s guide to presenting like a pro. By Cyndi Maxey (CSP) and Kevin O’Connor (CSP).

Speak upThe folks at St Martin’s Publishing kindly send me a review copy of the book. so here are my thoughts.

When I started reading it, I quickly realised that it is not just a book on presentation skills for women, but it is also on how to present yourself as a women. So, in addition to learning how to speak with credibility, be memorable, use PowerPoint, know your audience and speak with conviction, you will also learn how to make connections, network with colleagues, and communicate with executives.

Speak Up! address three areas, namely preparation, presentation and professionalism. It is made up of 40 short chapters, each of which ends with a brief summary of the key points in the chapter. This makes it easy to delve into a particular chapter, and in a few minutes find solutions to a particular problem. Alternatively, since it is an easy read, you can simply read it from beginning to end, and then keep it as a reference.

The authors,  Cyndi Maxey and Kevin O’Connor are both Certified Speaking Professionals, which means that they have plenty of experience on the platform. This comes through in the practical advise and tips in the book.

Speak Up! mentions some of the natural of advantages of being a women, and discusses how to take advantage of them. For example, women are (typically) more emphatic listeners than men, which can help you to have a deep understanding of the needs of your clients.

There are two underlying themes in the book. The first that a person that has strong presentation skills will stand hand and shoulders above the crowd. This rings true to me, since I believe that you cannot get ahead in life without effective communication skills. The second theme is that a woman can operate in a (still) largely male business world, and yet still be authentic to herself.

While the book focuses on the issues that a woman typically faces when giving presentations, most of the lessons are equally relevant to both women and men. So, for the guys reading this review, read the book. It will help you to become a better presenter, and it will help you to help women that you work with to become better presenters as well!

Do I recommend the book? Yes most definitely.

The book is available at most book retailers, including and Barnes & Noble, or from Cyndi’s website. The cost is $14.95.

Finally, watch out for an interview with the author on my blog. It should be published in the next few days.

Craig Valentine’s five part formula for speech writing

Craig Valentine has just published a greate article on his website in which he presents a simple 5-part formula to creating a great speech. He should know, because of course he is the 1999 world champion of public speaking.

In summary, the formula uses the acronym PARTS:

  • Phrase
  • Anchor
  • Reflection
  • Technique
  • Sale

You can read the full articles and details of the formula on Craig’s website.

PowerPoint wishlist for 2009 – Update

Hi all

I recently blogged about my wishlist for how PowerPoint is used for presentations in 2009. Olivia Mitchell has created a great summary on her website of the viewpoints of the different public speaking bloggers.

You can read it here:

PowerPoint Presentations – a wishlist for 2009

I was recently asked by a fellow public speaking blogger, Olivia Mitchell from Speaking about Presenting what I would like to see in PowerPoint presentations this year. The answer to me is quite simple – LESS.

  • Less Slides
  • Less Text
  • Less Complexity

Less Slides

The trend in 2008 has largely been to replace lines and lines of bullet points with pictures illustrating the points. This is great because pictures have a powerful ability to illustrate points that text never will have. Hence the large and vivid pictures commonly used on newspaper front pages.

However, pictures are only part of the solution to giving an effective presentation. I still feel that most presentation need to be simplified and to have fewer slides. Remember that if a slide does not add to your message, it probably detracts from it.

Less Complexity

If you push the capabilities of PowerPoint (esp version 2007), you can create some amazing effects and transitions. Here is a great example. However, the more effects and transitions you add to your presentations, the more complex they become, and greater the chance of you messing it up. So, unless you really know what you are doing, or you have some great designers and PowerPoint experts working with you, you might want to cut back on the complexity.

I have also seen very few transitions, effects and animations that add to a presentation.

Less Text

We still need to see less text. Far to many presentations are text heavy. Laura Bergells makes a great point about going picture crazy and replaceing every single line of text with graphics. We do need to find a balance, but I would still rather see a presentation with too many graphics than with too much text.

So, lets cut back on the slides,simplifiy the slides that we keep, and use less text. Here’s to some great PowerPoint presentations in 2009!