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: –
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Do you have experience of using “ten word sentences” in presentations?

This question is “Do you have any experience of using Ten Word Sentences to answer questions or get ideas across in presentations?’
And the short answer to that is – No, we haven’t ….But….that got us thinking. – And by the way I’m Michael, and I’m Helen, and we are The Presentation Maestro.
And let’s start off by giving you a couple of examples…. This one’s from Jerry Seinfeld – and he said… “The road less travelled, is less travelled for a reason.”  and David Attenborough said “Nothing stays the same, and it can’t remain the same.”  Now while you’re working out what that means just reflect on this – these sort of sentences are generally pithy, well sculpted and they’re quite memorable –
And where do they come from? – well they’re largely used by *speechwriters* and tabloid journalists who are real masters of their craft. And you’ll find that most tabloid journalists write in sort of three ‘acts’ of about 60 words each so the article’s about 180 words long – and if you’re speaking it if you’re a scriptwriter or a speechwriter, normally it takes about 75 seconds.
But it’s worth reflecting that the people who write this sort of stuff are crafts men and women – it’s their art, it’s their craft, it’s their profession – and they spend years learning it – and a long time writing it too – but for us lesser mortals….it takes even longer to craft.  Now we crafted one, a ten word sentence,  for this video and it actually took us longer to craft that than it did to plan and record the video for you. And stay tuned we’ll give you the ten words at the end.
It’s good.
But i think what’s really important is actually the principle behind all this, the principle behind good communication. And it really is – have a clear message, crystal clear message, supported by a clear structure, use short sentences and simple words.
And there’s some history behind this I mean Dale Carnegie was talking 100 years ago about the importance of getting across big ideas using short sentences and short words – and even earlier still….
I have a quote that I’m going to read, because I can’t remember it…. it says “In future, write without elaboration use plain, clear words it will be less trouble for you, and your reader” Now I’ll give you one clue who wrote that… it was written in 1528 – but I bet you won’t get it… It was written by Barbur, the first Mughal Emperor of India.
And earlier still Hippocrates -Greek – I think he was Greek, doesn’t sound a Roman name – said the Chief… ‘oh gosh we’ve done this 15 times – actually what is the full quote?’…..
“The chief virtue that language can have is….. Clarity.”
But if you are going to use one of these ten word sentences we recommend, if you’re going to use them, use them at the beginning of a talk, or right at the end of a talk. And before we give you ours at the end Helen’s just going to summarise what we’ve said so far… I am …. I’m going to summarise what we’ve said because it’s actually what we teach and have done….. forever!
So in summary, Have a clear message, backed by a crystal clear structure or a crystal clear message backed by a clear structure – works that way too – use short sentences, and simple words, simple language.
Absolutely – and now here’s our humdinger of a quote to send you away with
“The most important thing you can wear is…. your expression”
See you on the next one


How can I use body language to create impact? #YouAskWeAnswer

“How do you use body language to create an impact?  I’m Michael Trigg part of the Presentation Maestro.
Now there’s so much tosh written about body language, volumes have been written about it.  Most of it is inaccurate. But I want to give you three tips today to help you make an impact – all quite natural.
The first one is stand still. It’s amazing how many people, given a stage or in front of a group with a space there, they’ll use it! And they’ll walk up and down and think they’re Michael McIntyre the comedian. Well Michael McIntyre’s a comedian and he’s paid a very great deal of money to make you laugh.  But actually you have a far greater sense of authority if you stand still – and on both legs – not shifting from one to the other. All your energy and your expression should come from the hips upwards.  In other words through your face and through your hands. So that’s number one – stand still and let your energy come out through your hands and your face.
Second thing, since we’re talking about it up here is to use facial expression, lots of smiles.  Preferably not forcing them, but smiles to the audience and LOOK at them everywhere, everywhere there are people in the room – look at them. And the typical traps are fixing on the friendly face or missing out the wings left and right – bring in everybody who’s in the room. So that’s two – standing still, smiley face and look at everybody.
And the third one, and it seems so obvious, but it’s making use of these things [showing hands] every one of us, every human being is hard wired in their neurology to use these things to express themselves. Everybody does it differently so have them in a neutral resting place for when you’re not using them but they won’t stay there for long you will use them. And you won’t need to think about using them, they just work. And we’re all more engaging and people connect with us better when we’re using our hands naturally and not using any archetypal or false gestures.
So those are some tips I’d give you to use body language naturally to make an impact.  See you on the next one.”

How do you use gestures in a presentation without them looking contrived?

“Hi and this question is “How do you use gestures in a presentation without them looking contrived?”
“Great question, by the way I’m Michael…. and I’m Helen… and we are The Presentation Maestro.  And we are asked variations on a theme of this question so often, you know what do you DO with these things that are perfectly normal when you’re sitting down, but as soon as you stand up they become [gneaaaa].”
Well let’s answer first of all by looking at some things that are NOT useful that some people think are:
“For example Tony Blair who’s a very good speaker but he used this gesture and awful lot around the podium or something. Now, this isn’t a natural gesture. Would you come home at the end of the day and say “Hello Darling, what’s for dinner?” or in a pub would you say “Would you like a pint?” I mean you wouldn’t, would you? And, you’ll notice a lot of politicians, I have done for some time, using this gesture when they’re really trying to make an important point – the thumb is crossed over the rest of the fingers – and again this gesture isn’t useful is it? or it isn’t natural or useful. Do you want a gin and tonic?” – YES PLEASE – “Typical….Gin, she’ll do anything for a gin. It’s not natural. And the more natural you are, the better it can be.”
“Now, there are some certain gestures that are taught out there that have a reasoning behind them.” “They’re taught for a particular purpose but they can be really really difficult to use them in a natural way.” “They’re archetypal gestures – we’re going to show them to you now rather lightheartedly – a couple of them….”
“So here we go….. first one….. steady…. First one is ‘thinker’…. mmm I’m thinking about this. Next one is ‘distractor’ …..ooo search me I don’t know. This one is really serious because this one’s ‘leveller’ … mmm I really want you to take this in.  Is there another one you’ve got?  …. Oh yes… put your hand up if you came by London Transport to this workshop today.”
“Now they’re not wrong, but they are somewhat artificial, they are archetypal gestures. And as Helen mentioned earlier, they’re very difficult to bring off naturally. And after 30 years or actually combined 50 years of doing this we genuinely utterly truly believe that the more natural you are and the less artifice you’re using the more powerful, and the more engaging it is.” Yes.
“So how do you do that? Well very simply you keep your hands in a resting place round about your navel and then whenever you want to use them, just let them come apart and they do their own thing. Because each one of us, every human being on the planet, is hard wired in their brain in their neurology to use these things to communicate with. And there’s been stacks of research done into this that shows if you trap your hands, it actually gets in the way of articulating and free-flowing of thought. So just let them do what they do naturally, but let them rest in between when you’re not using them – real simple – and it works so easily.  Hope you found that useful… see you on the next on.”

I want to make faultless non-face to face presentations do you have any suggestions?


Hi and this question is … Can you give some suggestions for faultless non face-to-face presentations?
My name’s Helen from The Presentation Maestro, and if you talk over a presentation or you narrate training materials this is for you.
The first thing to say is before you start speaking picture your audience – a group of people that you would like to be listening to this – and have a conversation with them – it sounds so much better.
The second thing is keep your chin at 90 degrees – if your chin dips your voice can sound a little a little more monotonous so keep it at 90 degrees, and smile. Smiling brings a warmth to the voice which you need when
you can’t see the face. So as you are narrating over slides – smile try and smile throughout.
The next tip is to slow down your speech and pause…. use pauses. That has two brilliant advantages the first one for you is that it gives you the thinking time of what you want to say next – and for your audience, it gives them the chance they don’t know this stuff, it gives them the chance to listen to digest and to get ready for the next thing.
The next tip this is about the equipment. Now if you are using say for example PowerPoint slides with transitions in them, have fewer things that you want to say per slide. That gives you the chance to move on to the next bit quite easily.
And if you are pre-recording, lucky you, that means that at the end of each side you can actually pause, check what you want to say on the next bit, start the camera rolling again and then pause on the next slide. It works so well. Much easier to pause at the end than in the middle of what you’re saying. And if you are pre-recording… check out there’s loads of editing software out there some really easy to use, so check that out….. and you can appear faultless even if you’re not.
And the final thing I’d like to say is about your notes. Now I personally don’t advocate writing a script and memorising it, but if that works for you absolutely fine do it.  But whatever notes you use make sure that they are in a big font, with lots of space between the lines and use colours to indicate where you want to pause ,which words you want to emphasise, ….all kinds of little things…. where you want the next transition of the slide to be.
So, in summary. Some suggestions for you
Number one, picture your audience before you start talking.
Number two keep your chin up and smile.
Number three slow down your speaking and use pauses.
Number four adjust your equipment have fewer things that you want to say on each slide – and if you if you are pre-recording pause at the end of each side.
And number five use colours and space and even pictures in your notes.
I hope you found that useful and I’ll see you in the next one.

Tips on video conferencing and speaking on Skype or Zoom

Hi it’s Michael Trigg here of the Presentation Maestro and this question comes from an old client of mine and he asks “Have you’ve got any tips about presenting on Skype particularly for those who do quite 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 [indicates face and shoulders] to see.
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’ve made quite a lot of these videos. 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 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 because 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 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 videoconference 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 a 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 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.