What is You Ask We Anwer?

On this page you will find answers to questions people send in to The Presentation Maestro.
Michael shares more than 30 years of experience and knowledge in answering.
If you have a question, click on one of these links to send it in: –
our contact page,  our Facebook Page or LinkedIn

Tips on Video Conferencing and Speaking on Skype or Zoom

This quick video addresses a few ideas about getting engagement when you’re talking or presenting on Skype or Zoom or FaceTime – and video conferences.
Too often the engagement is minimal. Apply what Michael covers here in this video, and you’ll make a big difference to the way your audience / viewer perceives you.

 

 

“Hi It’s Michael Trigg here, The Presentation Maestro and this question comes from an old client of mine, and he asks: Have you got any tips about presenting on Skype, particularly for those who do a lot of remote working. And I do!
First thing to remember about Skype is that, as you all doubtless know, there’s only a tiny representation of you coming across on the screen on the computer or your iphone. So the audience have only got this to see [indicating from head to collarbone].  Therefore it needs to come alive a little.
So my first tip would be to smile more when you’re on Skype. Now I personally find this quite difficult, I make quite a lot of these videos and when I look at them afterwards, I think I’ve been smiling but I look totally po-faced a lot of the time.  So do remember to smile more.
Second tip would be to feel free, in fact not just feel free, use your hands as you talk, even though they may be off-camera.  Because the way you use your hands naturally not only affects the the voice, and your voice tonality and makes it more interesting, but it facilitates eloquence and freedom of thought. So your thoughts are more likely to be more free-flowing if you use your hands.
And the third tip is to look at the camera lens. That tiny little glass black dot, that’s where you need to be looking. And the biggest mistake a lot of people do is to look at the screen of the iphone or the computer ’cause they can see the other people there. But that’s not where they are… they’re actually through that lens. So if you’re communicating on Skype, when you’re talking, look directly into the lens.
Now I’d like to broaden this a little, since I’ve got the opportunity, to talk about video conferencing.  And this normally happens in a boardroom or even in a small theatre environment when there are cameras pointing at you but also broadcasting around the world to offices in Delhi or Sydney or New York. And the biggest mistake I think people make with video conferencing is they forget the camera and they just look at the audience in the room or the theatre. You’ve also got audiences, if they’re tuning in through video conference in Bombay and Berlin and Cape Town so look at the camera.  Find out where the cameras are, so you can look at them.  Also warn your audience that you will occasionally be looking off at the camera to address Delhi or Bombay or wherever it is so they know what you’re doing.  And then those audiences abroad will feel more involved and more engaged in what you’re saying because you will be looking at them. And your face will appear on the screen looking at them. 
So that’s one really important tip I’d give for video conferencing.  So that’s both Skype and Video Conferencing in one go.  Hope you found that useful and I look forward to seeing you on the next one.”

 

How do I stop saying Um

“Hi, it’s Michael Trigg here, The Presentation Maestro.  And this Ask Michael question is “How do you stop saying Um during a presentation?
Well I’ve got one simple and very powerful answer for you, but let me preface it by saying that the odd stumble or mumble or bumble or fumble isn’t too bad in the odd talk because it shows it’s not too smooth it’s not too practiced and therefore more genuine; but here’s the real answer you’re looking for:
One of the best ways to stop saying Um is to use the tool that most of you almost sleep with and actually keep very close to you most of the time which is namely your smartphone.  So I would record yourself.  Make a video of yourself on your smartphone practising a talk, and then on the playback you’ll see and hear the ums on there. And when you’re watching the playback your unconscious brain watches it as well as your conscious brain, and what it does is go oo I don’t like that, that’s really irritating. [snaps fingers] and it pretty well removes it almost automatically.
It’ll vastly reduce it and probably remove it altogether.  I’ve seen it happen time, and time, and time again. So use your smartphone.  See you on the next one. “

If this was useful and you’d like to talk with Michael, click here
If you’d like to ask a question you can post on our Facebook Page or click for our Contact page 

How can I get energy from my audience? How to get energy for presenting.

 

“How do you get energy from the forest of eyes you see in front of you?

It’s a great question, and to begin with let me dispel it or turn it on it’s head, I don’t think you do really get energy from all those eyes.  They have their own energy and you have yours.

But what is important is about you being in the right state to begin with. And that’s a mixture of breathing exercises breathing maybe from your nose down into your tummy and out again, 5 or 6 times, that will get you into the right state and then knowing you have a good structure and a very good introduction puts you in the right state here (head) to then display energy and just let it rip when you start in front of them.

So I wouldn’t worry about getting energy from them, I’d be more concerned with you giving them energy because a lot of them just look like puddings sitting there and the average audience doesn’t look terribly enthused and they often don’t change even though they are enthused inside they often won’t show it.

So avoid being put off by how they look, concentrate on your own energy getting that in the right state before you open your mouth and then your energy will transmit to them.  Hope you found that useful see you on the next one.”

What’s the one thing anyone can do to improve the outcome of a talk?

“Hi, and welcome back to this next in this series of #AskMichael. Now this question, I have to read this ’cause it’s quite complex.  “What one thing can anyone do to qualitatively improve their chances of a good outcome of giving a speech in public?” Golly. Is there one thing? Well if you push me for one, I’d say have a crystal clear aim, have a purpose, have a purpose for the talk. Because even preparing your talk, everything starts with the aim. Most people I think make the fundamental mistake is I know my subject I’m just going to …. dump it on you but if it hasn’t got an aim it hasn’t got an aiming mark, it can go almost everywhere and if you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there. And so to help you come up with an aim, you just ask yourself the simple question What do I want my audience to feel or think or do differently as a result of listening to me? And then you not only say that very early on in the talk in the introduction, but you come through with it at the end so you remind them of what’s been in it for them.
So if you were going to improve as a presenter and as a public speaker I think one of the best things you could do, one of the most important things you could do is have a crystal clear aim for every talk. That’s probably the one tip I’d give you.”

Do techniques vary according to the size of audience?

 

“Hi, It’s Michael here, The Presentation Maestro and this question is ‘Do techniques vary according to the size of audience?’ and frankly, not really – that’s me saying no and nodding at the same time deliberately.

Not really, because what is natural, is natural. And what engages an audience is largely you being natural and human and it’s where people start to use artificial gestures and techniques that we that we start to go ….. {backing off}.  I mean one of my least favourite is the one that people often do is when they either start off a talk or they ask a question and they raise their hand. I wonder how many of you have…. {raising hand} Do any of you….. {raising hand}.  Now, to me, this isn’t natural.  Do you come home at the end of a day saying  ‘Hi darling, how was your day?’ {raising hand} er ‘What would you like to drink?’ {raising hand}.  It’s unnatural.

Other certain gestures too, certain politicians who will remain nameless because this is a public tape, but use gestures like this around the podium… {both hands in front moving up and down in tandem} now we don’t use these gestures most of the time…. ‘hello’ {both hands in front moving up and down in tandem} ‘do you come here often?’ {both hands in front moving up and down in tandem}  It’s weird. it’s really weird, just in case you didn’t get that on camera it’s a little gesture like this in front of the face {both hands in front moving up and down in tandem} – weird.

So the more natural you are.  The more human you are, the more likely you are to engage with your audience.  And I don’t think that varies very much.  If you’re talking to a small group or in front of a massive group. And if you’re on a really big stage and you’re doing a big gig somewhere, frankly, most of the time if it’s that big a gig, they’ll be filming you and the recording, not the recording, but the film of you will be on the screen behind you.  So all the gestures you make will be exaggerated or made large anyway.  So no, there isn’t much difference between talking to a small group and a big group.

The big one is eye contact. And if you’re under a spotlight or well lit up as you often are at these events, the audience generally go dark, the lights go down on them, the lights are on you so it’s very difficult to see.  This is the only time I’d advocate you faking it. If you can’t make it, fake it.  In other words look everywhere you know there are people look up at the gods {pointing to the place the balcony would be in a theatre} look at the boxes, look at the front of the stalls, look in the direction where you know there are people and they will absolutely love it because they’ll feel you’re talking directly to them.  And you will be, you probably just can’t see them.

So, short summary, the techniques hardly vary at all between talking to a small group or to a larger group except of course you do talk louder talking to a larger group and make sure your eye contact captures them all.  Apart from that, it’s very very similar.

Hope you found that handy, see you on the next one.”

How can I avoid appearing overconfident?

How can I avoid appearing overconfident?

Hi It’s Michael Trigg here, The Presentation Maestro.  And this question is how do you avoid appearing overconfident during a presentation? When is overconfidence more than confidence?
It’s a great question. And from the audience’s point of view it’s almost a feeling really, is that guy up there or that woman coming across a bit smug and full of themselves?
But of course it starts with you the presenter.
And it’s worthwhile remembering you’re there to serve your audience not to dominate them.  Even if you are Chief Executive, even if you’re leading an organisation, you’re there actually to serve them. And they want that feeling of comfort as well as authority.
So i think it starts with oneself being a little bit humble you can have a beautiful balance of humility and confidence – but it needn’t be overweening, and when it is, it’s really painful to watch and listen to. So remind yourself that you’re there to serve. And keep a bit of humility as well as your confidence.
Hope you found that vaguely useful, see you on the next one.

What is the best way to manage time in a presentation?

 

What is the best way to manage time in a presentation?

How do you stick to time? It’s a great question, and do you know what, it’s bloody hard. It really is hard. And there’s many ways of doing it, but perhaps the least useful way is to take your watch off or put your mobile phone down on the table next to you. Because actually you won’t look at it, very few people do.

I’ve seen at big seminars and events where speakers are given their half hour or forty minute slot there’s nearly always a socking great digital clock at the back of the room…… so the speaker just has to glance over the heads of the audience and he sees or she sees how much time she has left. But for most of us we don’t have the opportunity of having that clock. So pragmatically, there’s a couple of tips.

Number 1 is run it through yourself a couple of times, run your talk through. If it’s really important you stick to time run it through, practise it and time it. And then whatever you take in practice add a couple of minutes for the real event – because it’ll take that.

But, do you know, one of the best ways of all I know of sticking to time, and I do this myself whenever I can is – when I get there or just as I’m about to start – I come off the central part and I find a member of the audience sitting in the front row or so and I say “Look, I wonder if you would help me, I’m not bad at sticking to time but sometimes I run over.  Would you help me stick to time?” And then either give them your watch or give them your smartphone with the alarm clock or the timer on it and get it going for them and say “Look, could you just give me a little wave at 10 minutes, or 5 minutes or something.” None of them are going to refuse and say “No, time yourself you idiot!”  Most of them will appreciate being asked They’ll actually be spending most of the time looking at the clock or the watch rather than listening to you because they don’t want to let you down.

But that is really useful. If you have somebody there either a friend, or a newly met friend who’s going to time you and give you little 5 minute, 10 minute signs, that’s pretty well the only way you’re going to stick to time.

Not perfect, but I hope you found that useful. See you on the next one, bye for now.

 

 

How can I balance embellishment with story telling?

Balancing embellishment with story telling.

 

What’s the balance between a bit of embellishment to create an impact using storytelling and retaining the truth and the essence of the story?

Wow! Is there a balance? hmm I think it’s more a feeling-inside balance really.  Telling stories is a wonderful thing to do in presenting. Because it brings it alive and even if you just use the words “let me tell you a story …” most of our brains go instantly back to ….aah I’m a little kid again yeah tell me a story! But it can also be over-done.

So, often I think one of the most powerful ways of lightening up the talk and bringing it alive and using visual analogies is to use a metaphor an analogy and word pictures, painting pictures with your words literally. Let me give you an example. Not so long ago Christine Lagarde the head of the IMF ran a conference in London called ‘Inclusive Capitalism’ and she said in the interview “We have 85 of the worlds richest people in London this week.  They have between them more money than half the world put together and you can fit all of them on a bus.”  The thought of all these 85 oligarchs  on the 639 to Clapham rather amuses.

Let me give you another one.  Do you remember that big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico I think something Horizon was the name of the oil rig, a BP rig, which covered most of Florida with oil spill and everything else. And you will probably have heard at the time that x thousand lets say 20 thousand gallons a day are spilling out into the Gulf and you will have seen, probably, the video of the oil pouring out of the well-head from the little submarine that went down. Most of us will have seen that. Now when you use a phrase like 30 thousand gallons a day for most of us that doesn’t mean very much.  But I was given the exact amount recently, somebody said..’you know those executive five bedroom houses you see often on estates somewhere, they’ve got three cars parked out the front.  A BMW a Mercedes and Audi and they’ve often got electronic gates before the house – and I’m beginning to get a picture – I think, yea I think I know the sort of house – and he said ‘well imagine 15 of those filling up every second – that’s what’s coming out of this well.’

So if you use word pictures like that or visual analogies that’s what tends to bring a talk alive. And you don’t need to embellish the truth at all. It just comes through from using a visual metaphor. So I hope that goes some way to answering your question Ravinol – keep them coming.

And I look forward to seeing you all on the next one.