21 Secrets to Powerful Presentations

It’s often said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Well, it turns out you can’t always judge a book by its title, either.

At first, I dismissed James Humes’ Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln, assuming it would be full of historical platitudes and anecdotal stories rather than actionable advice. Instead, I discovered a terrific reference tool for novice and seasoned presenters alike – including me.

Each of the 21 chapters in this surprisingly quick read offers solid advice for enhancing your presentation skills, using examples from some of history’s most powerfully memorable speakers. Author Humes knows his stuff – this author, professor and speechwriter for five American presidents is a noted authority on the speaking habits of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Ronald Reagan, and others.

Focusing on what the author calls “21 Power Secrets”, Humes provides the tools to electrify discussions and persuade and capture any audience’s attention. Three of his secrets – Power Pause, Power Point, and Power Reading – are techniques that I’ve found over the course of my 25-year coaching career to be consistently challenging for even the most experienced presenter, yet critical to every high-stakes presentation.

Here are some of the author’s tips to integrate into your own preparation:

Power Pause
Most speakers begin by offering thanks and appreciation for the opportunity to speak. Don’t! Before saying a word, take the time to look directly into the eyes of your listeners. Greet them with a warm smile, then slowly deliver your opening sentence – knowing that every moment you wait strengthens the impact of your opening words. This power pause draws the undivided attention of your audience and leaves them better prepared to listen to your message.

Power Point
No, we’re not talking about slides! Hume’s power point is the bottom line key message you want to leave with your audience. If you want to be heard, understood and achieve results, you must first “stop, think and plan” your power point. As Humes suggests, determine what you want your audience to do and craft your presentation accordingly.

Power Reading
It’s one of the cardinal rules of effective speaking…never let words come out of your mouth while your eyes are looking down. Looking down disconnects you from the audience and means you are speaking at them, not to them. Mastering the skill of power reading means looking down to see the text, looking up – all the way up – and pausing, then conversationalizing the phrase you’ve just recorded in your mind. Although this technique may feel awkward at first, with practice it will become second nature.

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln supported many of the proven tools in my coaching arsenal, and gave me some new tips for reinforcing them in the minds of my clients. Try some of James Humes’ 21 secrets and forge more powerful connections with your next audience!

Present Yourself

After our last article you should have a list of businesses doing business in the area you’re looking for. This is a great start, please keep organized and save this information as you continue moving forward. The next step is to market and present yourself to these businesses.

The first step in marketing yourself is to forget you. This isn’t a step in your Zen meditation; it means that you focus on the employer and not yourself. The businesses you now have in front of you are looking to make money. This is the main focus of any business and the reason they have been created. You need to forget yourself and your goals and realize that to get hired or to contract with a business you must bring something to the table.

A simple example of this would be a salesman. Instead of presenting yourself and hoping that you could be a good fit for them. Do some research on their products and services and then based on your experience tell them what you can do for them. Be confident in your proposal. If you understand their business and understand yourself you should easily connect the dots for them. Once the dots have been connected, and they understand what you can do for them you’re ready for the next step.

Next you need to work on your resume, make sure that you create your image as a worker who is interested in helping this business grow and not just your pocket book. The more you focus on your abilities and experience and how that can help them grow the better your application. In writing your resume, be very specific on what you can offer and how it will help them. Avoid being general in your abilities and experience. Be creative and professional in your resume and application. Online resumes, YouTube postings and other new market ideas are out there. Research the best options for your personality and market. You need to stand apart from the other applicants.

After creating your resume and presenting it to the businesses you’re interested in the number one rule is follow-up. Never assume that they will get back to you, never assume that they aren’t interested in you. You have a lot to offer them, how could they not want you. Make sure they know how interested you are in their business and never stop following up with them.

After presenting yourself to them, make sure you set the next step. An example of this would be sending your resume and then letting them know that you will be following up with them Tuesday at 3:30pm. Be specific with the time and date so they know how serious and organized you are in the process. This will also force them to be prepared for your call and get your application processed. After this step you’ll be prepared for the phone interview and setting a face to face interview. We’ll discuss this in the next article.

Christmas Presents For Your Boyfriend – What Does He Want?

I have some exciting news for you: after reading this article you will know how to select a great present for your boyfriend this Christmas. Interested?

Picture this, it’s the end of August, and some women (young and old) are already thinking about Christmas and all the shopping woes that come with it. You will need to buy presents for your families, your friends, your co-workers (yes, and your boss), and even the hairdresser.

… Oops, what about the boyfriend? Have you decided what you will get him in 2013?

As I’m sure you know, it’s never too early to start shopping… and stressing. Let me provide you with some tips that I think will help. And the best part, these tips come from someone who knows… yes, a guy. Here are my ideas to narrow down your search so you can actually create a list of things you think your boyfriend will want.

Imagine if you even came up with one idea under each of the following:

Hobbies

What have you seen your guy do to relax? What does he talk about (doesn’t include work or even you) that gets him all excited? He’s giving you tips into that male brain of his and very likely giving you hints about those things he likes to do and therefore would like to get.

Guys like to relax and have fun (I know, it’s childish sometimes) but why not help him enjoy his down time? The ideas are many: sports accessories, video games.

Toys

Sometimes jokingly used, it’s still worth noting that anything goofy or unusual is still a safe bet. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “small things amuse small minds”? Well, it’s true, and sometimes we all need those things just to relax and take our minds off this complex world we live in.

What I really like about the variety of “toys” out there is that these make great stocking stuffers and therefore easy to hide from prying eyes. They’re also great if you’ve only been dating for a short time and are looking for something that says “fun but not overly committed but would like to be”.

Work or School

Depending on what your guy does for work, or even if he’s in school, there are tons of options available to you to find something that makes these more manageable for your boyfriend. Trust me, guys think in terms of efficiencies and if you’ve helped him with this then it will be appreciated (meaning more time for you, too).

Electronics

Here’s an easy one that gives you a gazillion options; from laptops to game players to phones and even… ready, I’m going to use two words in the same sentence about guys… buy your boyfriend accessories!

That’s right, there are so many gadgets and things as well as covers and cables that your choices here are almost endless. This is extremely beneficial to you if you’ve bought him the “big-ticket item” previously and now you want to jazz it up or even make it better.

Sports

I wanted to list this one separately even though it’s touched on above. What else do guys talk about, cheer about, and even place wagers on? Sports, of course! If they have a favorite local team you could look at purchasing a one-game or a seasons-pass for him. Whether you include one for you or one of his buddies is up to you.

If there is not a local team then perhaps you can buy him a pay-per-view event and either you two can snuggle up close to watch it or he could invite his buddies over (I recommend the latter). It should be easy finding out which he prefers, just listen the next time you’re out with him and his friends.

Because you’ve heard this directly from the horse’s mouth, a guy, you know that these suggestions are legitimate. If you’re still not sure, ask other male acquaintances or male family members; they will agree with me.

By following these time-proven suggestions you will narrow down your search for that perfect Christmas present for your boyfriend this year. And what a relief going into the holiday season to be ahead of your girlfriends-with-boyfriends. Happy shopping!