Presentation Skills: The First Step to Writing a Speech

By Mike Aoki

Here’s a quick tip to help you write your next presentation. Create an outline first. Organize your thoughts before trying to create the PowerPoint slides.

What is your main point? What do you want your audience to do, after your presentation? In his best-selling business book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, author Steven Covey wrote, “Begin with the end in mind.”

That is vital when writing a speech. You need to organize your ideas so they flow naturally to your conclusion. That makes it easier for the audience to follow your train of thought.

For example, you could organize your speech by:

  • Order of importance
  • Chronological order
  • Implementation or production order (for a process)

So create a speech outline first, before creating the audio-visuals. That will help you keep your presentation on track.

© 2010 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

Related tips:
This article shows you how to avoid embarrassment when giving a speech at your next company event. This related story talks about death by PowerPoint. Here is a list of some popular presentation skills workshops.


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Presentation Skills: Should I Begin My Presentation With a Joke?

By Mike Aoki

If you are naturally funny, by all means start with a joke.  But for most of us, starting with a joke is a poor idea. Why? Because jokes depend upon perfect comedic timing. But it’s difficult to have perfect timing when you are nervous.

Since nervousness usually strikes during the first 60 seconds of your speech, that is the worst time to try a joke. So, what else can you do to grab your audience’s attention?

One of the best methods is to recite a startling statistic, famous quote or personal anecdote that  directly relates to your speech. Also, if you are using Power Point, you should display this information on your slide.

Here are some tips for using a statistic, famous quote or personal anecdote to start your speech:

1) Statistics: For example, I begin my public speaking workshops by saying, “55% of people are more afraid of giving a speech than dying!” That grabs people’s attention and makes them want to learn my technique for dealing with fear of public speaking.

So, where can you find startling statistics?  One place is the US Government’s site at: http://www.fedstats.gov. For Canada, you can check Statistics Canada at http://www.statcan.ca/start.html

2) Famous quotes: Here is an example of one online resource for quotes:  http://www.quotesandsayings.com

3) Personal anecdotes: Here is a secret: start your story in the middle of the action i.e. “I am trapped! Yet another Power Point presentation! My eyes are about to glaze over. I am so bored! ” (From my “Death by Power Point” article.)  By starting in the middle of the action, and gradually giving more details. you will captivate your audience’s attention.

Begin your speeches the simple, easy way.  Start your presentation with a startling statistic, famous quote or an interesting anecdote.  Grab your audience’s attention and set the stage for a great presentation!

© 2010 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

Related tips:
This article shows how to stand tall, even if you are short (like me.) This related story provides a great tip to energize your audience. Here is a list of some popular presentation skills workshops.


Happy New Year!

I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. May 2010 be your best year yet!

Presentation Skills: Another Tip for Overcoming Nervousness

By Mike Aoki

When I first began as a professional trainer and speaker 15 years ago,  I felt very nervous giving a speech. That’s because I was focusing on my “mechanics” i.e. where to stand, how to use my hands, etc. I felt nervous and self-conscious.

Then, I learned to focus on my message, not my mechanics. The more you believe in your message, the more your enthusiasm will overwhelm any fear of public speaking.

Think of the best speeches you’ve heard. They probably came from a speaker who passionately believed in their message. They may not have been technically perfect from a “speech contest” point of view. But, their energy and enthusiasm allowed them to positively influence their audience.

So ask yourself:  Why does my audience need to hear my presentation? How can I help them? What value do I bring to the table?

For example, maybe your department has performed incredibly well. Or, your research team has developed a ground breaking new product. Perhaps you have a great new marketing campaign that will boost your company’s sales results.

Focus on your message, not your mechanics. Let your passion for your topic; overcome any fear of public speaking.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

Related tips:
This article gives 5 tips for traveling speakers, trainers and presenters. This related story shows if you want to be a great speaker, be passionate! Here is a list of some popular presentation skills workshops.


When I first began as a professional trainer and speaker 15 years ago, I felt very nervous giving a speech. That’s because I was focusing on my “mechanics” i.e. where to stand, how to use my hands, etc. I felt nervous and self-conscious.

Then, I learned to focus on my message, not my mechanics. The more you believe in your message, the more your enthusiasm will overwhelm any fear of public speaking.

Think of the best speeches you’ve heard. They probably came from a speaker who passionately believed in their message. They may not have been technically perfect from a “speech contest” point of view. But, their energy and enthusiasm allowed them to positively influence their audience.

So ask yourself:  Why does my audience need to hear my presentation? How can I help them? What value do I bring to the table? For example, maybe your department has performed incredibly well. Or, your research team has developed a ground breaking new product. Perhaps you have a great new marketing campaign that will boost your company’s sales results.

Focus on your message, not your mechanics. Let your passion for your topic; overcome any fear of public speaking.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

Presentation Skills: Tips for Giving a Tele-Seminar, Part Three

By Mike Aoki

This is the third and final article about how to give a tele-seminar. As mentioned in Part One, another facet of presentation skills is giving presentations to a group of people over the phone.

In Part Two, I gave 10 more tips you can use during your tele-seminar.

In Part Three, here are some tips to help you determine if your tele-seminar was successful. Again, many of these tips can also be used for webinars.

5 Tips to Help You EVALUATE the Success of Your Tele-Seminar:

1) In your pre-course package, include a quiz for them to fill out during the tele-seminar. That’s the equivalent of an “open book” test. Some organizations also offer an Internet based quiz. The goal of the quiz is to help you evaluate how much of the information was understood by your audience.

2) During the tele-seminar, you can ask questions to determine if your participants have grasped the information i.e. “What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from this Tele-Seminar?”

3) You can also ask listeners if they have any questions they would like you to answer. Enthusiastic audiences will typically asks lots of questions.

Note, if too many people ask questions at the same time, you can organize them by saying, “Let’s hear questions from the Windsor office first, followed by the folks in the Ottawa office.”

4) If no one asks a question, you can provide additional information by saying, “One of the most common questions past audiences have asked is…” Typically, once you start the ball rolling by providing sample questions, audience members begin to think of their own questions to ask.

5) After the Tele-Seminar, have your listeners fill out a post-course quiz or comment form. You can have them email their responses to you, or have them fill out an online form.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

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Presentation Skills: Tips for Giving a Tele-Seminar, Part Two

By Mike Aoki

As mentioned in Part One, another facet of presentation skills is giving presentations to a group of people over the phone.

In Part Two, here are some tips to help you during your tele-seminar. Again, many of these techniques can also be used to run webinars.

10 Tips to Help You DURING Your Tele-Seminar:

1) Check for sound quality at the start of the call. Ask people if they can hear you.  If you’re using a headset, adjust the microphone position for optimum sound quality.

2) If there are fewer than 12 people on the Tele-Seminar, have every participant say their name and city to establish rapport.

3) To make your voice sound more vibrant, stand up while you talk.

4) Avoid reading word-for-word from a script. You’ll sound robotic.  It takes a very skilled actor to make a script sound like normal speech.

5) Instead use a “cheat sheet” with bullet points to remind yourself of key ideas.

6) Recap your key points frequently. You need to keep people on-track.  That’s more challenging over the phone than in person.

7) Repeat web URLs and e-mail addresses so people can write them down.

8) Periodically ask for questions. Give your listeners an opportunity to participate.

9) Call a break every hour. A good format is 50 minutes followed by a 10-minute break.  That gives people a chance to go to the bathroom or check on the kids.

10) Manage your time. Your notes should include a rough estimate of the time needed for each section.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

Related tips:
This article shows you how to avoid embarrassment when giving a speech at your next company event. This related story talks about death by PowerPoint. Here is a list of some popular presentation skills workshops.


Presentation Skills: Tips for Giving a Tele-Seminar, Part One

By Mike Aoki

Another facet of presentation skills is giving presentations to a group of people over the phone. This can be done via conference call, or more frequently now, as a tele-seminar over a bridge line.

In Part One, here are some tips to help you get ready to give a tele-seminar. Many of these techniques can also be applied to webinars.

10 Tips BEFORE Your Next Tele-Seminar:

1) Remember Tele-Seminars work best for information-based training. If you require a high degree of audience interaction or interpersonal skills development, you should consider giving an in-person training workshop instead.

2) When you send out your pre-course package to attendees, include the seminar date, time, phone number and the login code (if needed.)

3) Number the pages in your handout.  It makes it easier for listeners to find the right page.  Remember, they can’t see the page you’re holding in your hand.

4) Reserve a room where you won’t be disturbed. Offices can be very noisy places. Pick a quiet room so listeners won’t hear background noise from your phone.

5) Be ready at least 15 minute ahead of time in case people call in early for the Tele-Seminar.

6) Have the following items by the phone: pens, paper, your handout, cheat sheet of phone teleconference codes, list of participants, bottle of water, etc.

7) Use a regular phone. If you use a cordless or mobile phone, your listeners may hear static on the line.  If you use a speakerphone, it can produce a distracting echoing sound on a conference call.

8) If possible, wear a headset so your hands are free to write notes.

9) Turn off call waiting. You don’t want call waiting beeps interrupting your Tele-Seminar. You can usually find out how to disable call waiting by contacting your phone service provider.

10) Have a clock in the room so you can keep track of the time.

© 2009 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Mississauga, Canada

Related tips:
This article shows how to stand tall, even if you are short (like me.) This related story provides a great tip to energize your audience. Here is a list of some popular presentation skills workshops.