Breathe Life into Your Presentations; Seven Tips to Liven Up Your Message

What makes some presenters boring?  Most of you know! It’s probably because the speaker has hidden the best components of giving a speech in the hallwayFor your next presentation give your listeners these tools:
1. Design powerful openings and closing
2. Tell stories
3. Prepare
5. Add humor
6. Use body Language
7. Practice, practice, practice

I’ve watched the best – in my opinion – speakers from the National Speakers Assn.; listened to their webinars, watched their videos and taken notes. None of them is anything like the other; their unique styles color the platform – or board room, conference room, etc. The above seven tips are a combination of listening, presenting, coaching and watching.

  1. A powerful – or memorable – opening and closing is paramount to engage your listeners. You can open/close with several tools: a story, a quotation, a question, a current event –  germane to your topic, or an insider’s tidbit. You have approximately 10 seconds to capture their attention!
  2.  Every day we accumulate stories about life, some funny, some freighting, some ordinary, and some entertaining. Buy a notebook and write down some of the “ordinary” happenings at home, work, the store, the gas station, the restaurant, a committee meeting, in traffic, waiting in line…! Eavesdrop on others – not too prominently! Use one or more of these stories to relate to your audience and tie your message to an experience most of them have had too. You remember stories 10x more than statistics. Put more flavor than facts into your speech.
  3. Plan. What’s your timeline? Who’s your audience? What’s the most important point you want your listeners to take way?
  4. Organize. What are your major points? Sub-points? How are you implementing your PowerPoint slides? How long’s the presentation? How do you include Q/A in the timeline? Do you have exercises?
  5. Humor. Even those of you who think you’re not funny, have had funny activities happen to you. Hire a coach to help make some salient points funny – they’re more memorable. Breathe humor into the message.
  6.  Your body is your listener’s movie! Use it to explain or exaggerate points, to engage the audience, as a prop, to include your listeners – pointing, eye contact, etc.
  7. Practice. Practice. Practice. Video tape yourself, watch for distracting manner- isms. Does your message come across as you hope? Read it first, then memorize your opening and your closing; the middle will come together. Nobody knows your script!
Breathe life into your presentation through these seven tips: your audience and you will be glad you did.
Watch for a few more tips:
Knock ’em alive.

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Adding Power with PowerPoint

Your world’s in a constant state of immediacy:
• Projects need finishing
• Clients eagerly await their due.
• Your e-mail box overflows every few minutes
• Family, friends, co-workers, managers, and/or employees depend on you…now!
• You have an important presentation in a month

Addressing the audience that eagerly awaits your message and expertise is somewhat daunting…it doesn’t have to be! It does take time and planning.

Presentations contribute to your success; they also helps others. Plan, organize and practice.

What your listeners really want is to be on the “E” train:
1. Educated about something that’s useful to them
2. Enlightened about why the education is meaningful and helpful
3. Engaged in the speech, not lectured to
4. Entertained – not a stand-up comic – but information that will make them relax and have fun learning and listening

Organization of the speech and designing your slide deck take time. When you put together a PowerPoint presentation for your colleagues, your prospects, your clients, or your Board, take time to organize your slide deck to complement your points and message.

The adult brain likes small packages to unwrap and take in, to remember and retain. Why then do some PowerPoint presentations overwhelm the audience right at the first slide? Think, “small.” Think, “less is more.” When you do, you save time and energy, and your audiences appreciate your work.

PowerPoint is a great tool, but… it’s the plate, not the meal for your speech, training, sales presentation, and webinars. Use the slides as a visual outline for your points. Make them appealing to the eye and digestible for the mind.

How often have you thought that the presenter is wasting your time with too much information and overwhelming charts, graphs and/or line items? The presenter spent too much time on the slides, but not enough time considering the listeners and their needs. Have you ever done that?

Eleven PowerPoint slide tips:
1. Make them appealing to the eye: Use color.
2. Five or six bullet points per slide – max.
3. Each bullet point is six or fewer words.
4. Animate the slides – bring one point in, and then another, and then another.
5. Blank the screen when you’re talking about a different point.
6. Add artwork.
7. Use graphs only if the audience can see and understand them.
8. Use 18-point font or larger.
9. Use your mind and heart, not your eyes to present the information.
10. Motivate your listeners.
11. Three major points are enough.

In this fast-paced and immediacy world, use your PowerPoint presentations to motivate your listeners. They want to learn and retain information that helps them work faster, save time, gain expertise, and/or makes their lives easier.

It’s up to you, the presenter, to design PowerPoints that create positive and memorable material.

You can do it.

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Your Writing Posture

My mother continually focused on my posture; she wanted me to walk into a room with poise and to always stand up straight. As a blossoming teenager that wasn’t my focus, and now as a blossoming (?) adult it is! (Amazing how those turn of events happen when we age.)

I practice this exercise when I’m walking anywhere – the store, exercise walk, to the car, anywhere. It helps to keep her words in mind and I hope they also improve my posture when I’m not fully engaged in the mantra.

Good posture:
1. Head up
2. Shoulders back
3. Tummy in
4. Hips forward

These too can be your outline for good posture in your writing:
1. Heads up – What do you want your readers to notice? Why are you writing to them in the first place? What makes it important and read-worthy?
2. Go backproof. Did you write clearly and concretely? Did you spell and punctuate correctly; did you notice any grammatical errors that need correcting? How about your subject and verb agreement? Proofing is paramount to good writing.
3. What’s in your message that’s beneficial and of value for your reader and why do they need to take the time to read your message? Do your readers have the same knowledge, vocabulary and insight into the information that you do? If not, then explain the acronyms and internal jargon; write for the reader.
4. Going forward, sight the action do you want your readers to take if any. Did you write with a positive posture and idea in mind? Clear, concrete and comprehensive writing saves your readers and you time! It also helps alleviate any confusion; it clarifies the reason for the missive.

Good posture in your stance and your writing say more about you than you may consider.

Here’s to great writing posture. Make your mothers proud too.

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“No” Resolutions 2017

Happy 2017!
As you start the New Year, some of you may set goals, make resolutions, ignore or consider and implement both. As a friend just suggested he wants to resolve to be nicer, kinder, more loving and a better listener; I like these resolutions. For those of you who bought memberships to the gym resolved to lose those extra pounds and tone those body parts I applaud you – stick with it!
I’m suggesting “No” resolutions: how to say “no” to parts of your life that bring on stress, frustration and self-doubt.

In The Denver Post, 1 January 2017, Rhett Power wrote a “2017 Starter Guide, Set the tone for the year with a few manageable goals.” The quick bullet list started with 30 techniques to manage stress and number 1 was “Learn to say no.” This is my focus for “No” Resolutions 2017.

In my “Getting to ‘No’ You” workshops I ask the attendees why it’s hard to say “no” to so many people in various areas of their lives. “I want to be the go-to person.” “I want to be liked.” “Guilt.” “My boss is, well, the boss.” “I feel compelled….” “I feel….”: you fill in the blank As adults we find it increasingly hard to say “no” to anyone, whether it be a personal ask, a community ask, a professional ask, or a loved one ask.
You have a choice! What choices you make – both poor and good – reflect on your future. Your self-respect also comes into play; stand up for your values, what you believe in and it shows.

Are you overwhelmed? Do you go home at night exhausted and wake up exhausted because your brain can’t turn off thinking about all the “to do’s”? When do you relax? When do you take time for your family, friends and/or yourself?

If you had a gift box and inside was your good health by itself, you’d cherish that, wouldn’t you? What if instead that box contained various other items alongside health: your iPhone, your computer, a community project, two or three work projects, volunteer obligations, family obligations, “yes” in bold letters, clutter, to-do lists, etc.? They diminish the value of “health”; lessen its significance and blurs its importance.

Make health a number one priority this year, and saying no helps.

“No” resolutions include fewer overwhelming work projects; finish one project completely and focus on that goal before you start a new project. As the saying goes, “Let me drop everything and work on your problem.” Your brain can only focus on one task at a time, even when people talk about multi-tasking. Your brain needs time to rejuvenate itself; it’s your responsibility to let that happen.
Learn to say no and stick to that resolution. When you take time for yourself and maintain your sanity and good health, you are more valuable to others in all aspects of your life.

Give that gift of health to yourself this year and Velcro it to your brain. “No,” though hard to say, will create space in your world for your good health – both mental and physical. The more you practice saying no, the easier it is. Learn to prioritize what and who are important, and then the no is also a gift.
Without your good health you can’t be the best to anyone – at home, work or community.

Here’s to your healthy and abundant 2017.

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Making A List and Checking it Twice

As I was touching up my “Getting to ‘No’ You” curriculum, I realized that most of us have activity management lapses; it’s not really time management – each day has the same hours – it’s how we manage our activities in the time we have.

When your plate is overloaded what can you set aside until your priority activity/project is finished? Who can you say “no” to until your plate is empty -or at least open for more activity? Each person I ask about saying “no” says one of three reasons why the word  “no” isn’t really in their vocabulary:
1. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings
2. I want to be a go-to person
3. I don’t want to feel guilty

Do these resonate with you? Have you survived someone saying “no” to you? Most likely. Yes, “no” is a hard word to use, and yet,  it’s one with power.

Stand up for your values and goals, stop being reactive to others and forge ahead with your responsibilities and self-respect.

Each morning we start anew even when we’re going back to  our desks to finish activities we started earlier. Many times we make lists of what we have to do, where we have to go, whom we have to meet, etc. etc. That list either gets shorter or longer! Do you make lists and then realize that your time’s out and you haven’t completed the tasks?

I watch Turner Classic Movies – oldie, but goodie films – and a  ten-minute short was on last weekend: “An Hour For Lunch.”(1939)  The main character sits at his desk and reads his list of errands he wants to finish on his one-hour lunch break, including having lunch:

  1. Get his hair cut
  2. Return a shirt
  3. Eat lunch at the drugstore
  4. Call the upholsterer while at the drug store

As the hour clock starts ticking he heads out of the building only to face multiple time-zapping incidents:

  1. Waiting for the elevator
  2. A full elevator, “Sorry, you have to wait for the next one.”
  3. A busy-body co-worker wanting to chat
  4. The barber not ready for him
  5. His forgotten shirt to return
  6. A vendor selling cute toys; he stops and buys one
  7. The lunch counter is full
  8. He has to look up the upholsterer’s number in the phone book, then go to the phone booth
  9. He forgets the last few digits of the phone number and has to go back to the phone book
  10. Someone quickly steps into the booth before he can get back…

As you can imagine his hour accomplishes almost nothing. He woofs down half of his sandwich and then rushes back to his desk.

Do you relate to the list and the activity time? How often do you think it’ll take only so much time and it takes twice that long? How often do you rush to a meeting across town and meet up with a traffic jam? How often do you get a phone call as you walk out the door, or get interrupted as you’re writing that proposal? It’s these activities that you might consider – an extra :15 for travel, maybe? – or ignoring, in order to get the one priority task completed.

Turn off your Outlook pop-up for e-mails, turn off your phone and it’s incessant IM dings or phone calls, shut your door or say “no” politely to someone coming into your office if the door’s open: Express your “yes,” and Know your “no.” Express your “yes” to get your priorities accomplished,  know your “no” to the little time wasters and interrupters.

The next time you  make of list of the errands, the projects, the calls, the important facets of your day check it twice to cross off all of them and get a fresh start on your new day.  Express your “yes,” and Know your “no.”



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Lessons from 2016 Election

In mid-August I was asked to join the training team for the Denver Elections Division (D.E.D.) 2016 election and I jumped at the opportunity. We started out 12 strong and finished 11 strong two months later. I knew that working with D.E.D. would be fun, rewarding, challenging and above worthwhile; all came to fruition. I’ve been an election trainer, judge and field representative since 2008!

As I stood in front of the classroom for three weeks giving information on registering voters, customer service, trouble shooting and other tidbits about getting everyone who wanted the privilege to vote their opportunity, I was proud to be there. The team trained over 275 people in three weeks and then sent them on their way to the 26 voting service centers Denver set up for this massive undertaking of a General Election. Almost 50 percent of the election judges were veterans who’d worked elections, some 15+ years and some just a few, to the brand new faces who wanted to serve their city and state.


  1. Treat people the way you want to be treated. I watched one supervisor tear down her team and it showed in their work. It was a two week job and everyone there – almost everyone – was eager to learn and to help. Can we get along for just 16 days? Apparently not. That was sad to see and hear. But the other supervisors and assistants brought joy to their teams; therefore, joy and appreciation to the voters. How you act as a leader so goes your team.
  2. The general public is quite the patch-work quilt. I know some of you deal with the public daily and get used to the personalities, but I don’t often have that situation brought to the forefront daily. Wow. See #1.
  3. When you make a commitment, keep it. Hiring almost 700 people for those few months took an amazing amount of work for the DED team, and to have people either not show up or quit for no reason caused havoc across the board for everyone involved. Again, it was just two-plus weeks for the election judges. They were paid – not abundantly – and went through training, and other people counted on and needed them. DED then had to scramble to get others to fill in.
  4. A positive attitude is paramount. During the first week of early voting the days were long and boring with most of the voters mailing in their ballots or trickling in for a replacement. Being upbeat with your co-workers and maintaining a sense of humor go a long way for long days. They go even longer when there’s chaos, mistakes, computer glitches, long lines and angry voters.
  5. Some of the registration judges stayed at their computers for hours on end Monday the 7th and especially Tuesday when some of the voting centers had 200-300 people in line. I was at the last voting center to close at midnight on election night. Their dedication and hard work was brilliant; I applaud all of them.
  6. Step up and show up. The first 12 centers were up for two weeks, then another nine for the last weekend, and finally four more the last two days to help with the community at large; 26 total. After the first two weeks the assistant supervisors became supervisors at a new center; that’s scary when you’re in your first election and it’s as big as it was. All of the new supervisors stepped up, showed up and delivered. Kudos.
  7. Patience, kindness and understanding went a long way. Disabled, sight impaired, elderly, English as a second language and confused voters needed and wanted our help. Our ballot was four long pages: nine amendments along with the federal, state and local officials made for longer voting time. Patience,kindness and understanding also made a difference with the teams; helping each other.
  8. Take pride in voting. I loved seeing first-time voters, and not just 18-year-olds, but new citizens too. Voting is a privilege and an important and powerful tool for all of us. It’s a joy to witness.
  9. The 20 full-time employees at the Denver Elections Division are dedicated and amazing individuals. They care about our city, state, country and all of you, and it shows. I was honored to work these past two months and will jump at the opportunity to work with them again, to help the public have a positive voting experience; I hope they let their friends and family know how important voting is.

Here’s to the greatest country. I’m proud of America and Americans, and I salute the men and women in uniform – at home and abroad – who fight and serve to keep it great. I’m proud of the work I did and the opportunity I had to work together with a good team, supportive and informed managers, and an organization that works. Thank you.

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Hinges of Communication Part 3/26

  1. SLAMMED doors

Have you ever been rudely interrupted or verbally “slammed”? It makes for a quick exit to the thought, the proposal, the process or the negotiations.  Even when the slam is unintentional, it jars your thoughts and possibly your actions or reactions.

I admire sales people.  Their skin must be made of hard oak.  They are tenacious in their desire, drive and destination.  When a door is slammed on them, they keep on opening new ones.  They don’t take it personally, and usually it isn’t. They understand the percentage rule of x amount of “no’s” equal a certain amount of “yeses.”  If you can keep in mind that not every “slam” is personal, you will become a better leader.

Then there’s the intentional slam—words spoken in anger, haste and frustration. These usually don’t make the best communication door.  Regret and shame, like a scarlet letter, hang on your door afterwards. Maybe.  Let some people know you won’t take it—abuse, disrespect or discourteousness—anymore, and close them out of your life: This is a good thing.

Approach anger, frustration or disappointment in a more humane and adult way.  Express your feelings, don’t threaten, and stand tall.  There’s no need to shout, slam doors or otherwise act like a five-year-old.  When you stand your ground, express your feelings, with the word, “I,” instead “you,” which indicates your  pointing the finger at that person, it softens the slam. E.g.: “I feel slighted by your behavior,” not, “You always ignore me at meetings.”

Take responsibility.  Own up to mistakes and learn from them. Take the “lame” out of “blame,” and “b” forthright in your course of action. You make mistakes, you’re human.  Foibles are inevitable.

Each relationship—personal and professional—has its own barometer of trust and commitment.  Heated conversations may occur and harsh words spoken, but you can move on.  Breathe. Prioritize the situation for the long term and chose the best cause of action that is helpful for all involved. As a wise man said, “Choose your battles.”

Remember, life’s a circle and people come and go in your life for a reason. Treat them with respect when they are in your circle of influence and they will most likely repay you with respect and admiration.

HINGE: Forgive.  Forgive yourself and the other person. Check each situation with a menu of observations and objectivity. Watch too for the words, always, never, should, and every time;  they weaken the argument and put tentacles on the tongue of refute. A door slammed too hard can come off its hinges and then it’s more difficult to repair; emotions and feelings are the same.

“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity?  Our attitude toward it.  Every opportunity has a difficulty and every difficulty has an opportunity.” J. Sidlow Baxter.

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