Create Memorable Presentations: Be Impressive & Engaging

Deliver memorable presentations:  Do you want your information remembered long after you’ve left the room?  Then structure your presentations with two important features.  Be impressive and engaging.  Impress and engage your presentation audiences and your messages will be memorable.  Implement the following technique in your upcoming presentations and you’ll see a vast improvement in your public speaking results and your audience’s ability to recall your message points.

Impress your audience:  Memorable presentations have a strong start and a strong finish.  Audience attention levels are highest at the beginning and end of a presentation, thus, be strong at those two critical points.  Start strong.  Don’t begin your presentation with an agenda slide or information about you and your company.  Start with information that directly affects your audience.  Let them know that the presentation is for them.  End strong.  Don’t end your presentation with the Q&A.  End with a strong restatement of your key points that relate to your audience.

Engage your audience: Memorable presentations connect with participants on as many levels as possible.  Use spatial movement to get close to them.  Move away from the podium and stroll among them. Use vocal variety to change your tone and pace.  Let them hear your emotions.  Use facial expressions to reveal your feelings.  Call them by name and really bring them to attention.

Be impressive by employing a strong start and finish.  Be engaging by using spatial, vocal, and facial variety.  Structuring your presentations to include these two elements will set you lightyears apart from most speakers.  Long after you’ve left the room, have your presentation message remembered.  Impress.  Engage.

MemorableBonus: Want more assistance in creating a memorable presentation?  Here’s an article from Presentation Magazine by Charles, “You get one chance to make a first impression.”  Learn six ways to open your presentations with a strong start. 

From the article, “Your start should be strong, confident, and engaging.  It should provide the audience with absolute assurance that you are worth their time. All attention is focused on you, so it’s critical that you open strong as it sets the bar for your presentation that follows.” – Charles Greene III Presentation Magician


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Summer 2013 Presentation Skills Reading List – Dive into three books that will improve your public speaking skills

Charles Greene Summertime Presentation Skills reading listMemorial Day has come and gone.  It’s officially summer.  It’s time for the 2013 Summer Presentation Skills Reading List.  DC’s had it’s full share of rain, so the Summer heat and humidity can not be far off.  The Greene family will be heading off to the beaches of Bethany and Rehobeth in Delaware.  Yes, lots of Thrashers Fries will be consumed.  In August we’ll zip up to upper Minnesota, near Hackensack, MN, for a couple weeks at a family lakeside cabin. 

2013’s Summer Presentation Skills Reading List consists of books that are designed for speakers who aspire to take their presentation skills to the next level. If you’re giving presentations on a regular basis, then you’ll relate to many of the stories in the books.  Apply the information to your presentations and you’ll be a better speaker by the Tuesday after Labor Day.  Have a fun, safe, and magical Summer.

2013 Summer Presentation Skills Reading List

1) The Naked Presenter by Garr Reynolds

2) Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun

3) Paid to Speak from the National Speakers Association

Video: Summer Presentation Skills Reading List

Grab a Gold Star. Read an additional book from a previous Summer Presentation Skills Readings List.  Have a fun, safe, and magical summer.

2012 Summer Presentation Skills Readings List Presentations in Action by Jerry Weissman; Boring to Bravo by Kristin Arnold: Mastery by George Leonard

2011 Summer Presentation Skills Readings List Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds; Resonate by Nancy Duarte; The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo

Charles’ June 2013 Presentation Skills newsletter: Get tips & techniques to improve your presentations.

Want more presentation tips? Watch Charles’ videos on speaking and presentation skills or read Charles’ weekly presentation tips. From the fundamentals of speaking to PowerPoint pointers, Charles covers all aspects of public speaking.  Have a specific presentation question?  Send him a message.  Even during the summer, he’ll respond to your presentation skills questions.

Charles Greene III Presentation Magician
Washington, DC


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Got chops? Are your presentation skills really ready?

Recently Billy Joel, of “Piano Man” fame, held “An Evening of Questions and Answers and a Little Bit of Music” at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. During the Q&A portion, Michael Pollack, a student, asked Mr. Joel if he could accompany him on piano for “New York State Of Mind.”  Billy Joel, the composer of the classic ode to Manhattan said, “Okay.”  A buzz then took over the crowded room.  See the video below for the performance and interaction between Mr. Joel and Michael Pollack.

Watch the video of Billy Joel & Michael Pollack.

Would you discuss quantum physics with Stephen Hawking?  Play singles with Serena Williams?  Con Ricky Jay?  Are you ready for your moment in the spotlight?  Michael Pollack had chutzpah.  He also had confidence in his preparation.  He was ready for his moment.

Charles in Central Park – New York State of Mind

Michael Pollack’s 3 areas of readiness:
1) Ready to request.
  Michael Pollack was willing to stand up and state his request.  He had the confidence to know that this was his moment and that he was ready for it.  All he had to do was make his request known.

Regardless of how wonderful your idea may be, it requires that you have the confidence to put it out there.  The world is filled with great ideas.  Most do not get heard, because people are afraid to share their ideas with other people.  Be ready to share your idea with the rest of the world.

2) Ready to fulfill the request.  Malcolm Gladwell has stated that it takes about 10,000 hours devoted to a particular talent to reach a level of Mastery with that skill.  Michael Pollack demonstrated that he had put in those hours.  When Billy Joel asks “What key do you play it in?, Michael responds, “What key do you want?”  That’s Mastery.

With speaking, it can take over 300 presentations to match Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hour Theory.” Experience & long-term commitment impacts skill.  Practice your presentation skills so that you can exceed expectations of your audiences.  Be ready for your moment in the spotlight.

3) Ready to stay within his role.  When Michael Pollack sat at the piano, Billy Joel confers with him for just a moment.  Michael Pollack then played the song well, very well.  He never took over or strayed from his role as the guest accompanist.  In jazz they call this “playing it straight.”

In speaking, many presenters don’t “play it straight.”  They speak beyond their given time slots.  They try to outshine others speakers when on a panel.  They break out the thesaurus to impress their audience.  It’s always better to “play it straight.”  Take less time than your allotted time to deliver your message.  Be supportive of  your audience.  Use clear words, especially when explaining intricate ideas.

Confidence without preparation: A plan for disaster
Many people believe that they can “wing” it when it comes to speaking and giving presentations.  They don’t put in the time before the presentation to properly prepare, know their audience, select the the best structure for their message, or practice their presentation.  Unfortunately, we all know of lots examples of people taking the stage without being ready, without having prepared for their moment before an audience.

“Winging it” is dangerous.  Remember Clint Eastwood and “The Chair?”  Great actor, but the his last minute decision to try something different, left a lot of people wondering, “What was that all about.?  That’s not the impression you want to leave with the your presentation audience.

Be ready for your moment.  Polish your presentation skills
Everyone can be a better public speaking.  Everyone can improve their presentation skills. To do so it takes time and dedication.  You must be willing to practice the small and big things of presenting.  You must read the books, blogs, and notes of great speakers.  You must present whenever possible so that you can attain your 10,000 hours needed to reach Mastery.  Do all this and you’ll have a nice set of “presentation chops.”

Have thoughts about being ready and practicing your presentation skills?  Leave a comment below.

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Public Speaking Video 101: 3 Basic camera options for presentation skills training

Public speaking?  See for yourself.
Take a giant leap forward towards becoming a better and more confident public speaker.  Use video to improve your public speaking skills by seeing what’s really going on with your presentation skills.  If you’ve never seen yourself speak, chances are that you do something of which you’re not aware.  Most presenters have some tic, habit, or mannerism that distracts their audience.  Until they see themselves on video, they don’t realize they do “x” while speaking.  Video yourself and review the video at least three times.  Then make adjustments for improvement.

Video is now easier than ever.
When you video your public speaking presentation, this final product is not destined for your local Cineplex; it’s simply for viewing on your computer screen. You don’t even have to edit this footage.  Getting started is neither expensive nor difficult.  In fact, you may already have most of what you need.  If not, your initial investment could be as low as $150 – $250.  After purchasing the equipment, the rest is easy; it just takes commitment.

Get basic gear.
Here are a few recommendations for basic video equipment: a small camcorder, phone video recorder, or camera with video capacity.  You’ll want to place your video device on a tripod or some stabilizing unit.  You could use a larger more professional camera, but for most situations you’ll want a small and non-obtrusive camera.  See my specific equipment recommendations and sample video links below.

Watch the video for 3 video camera options.

Can you here me now? Don’t forget the audio.
Along with the video portion of your recording, make sure you have fairly clean audio.  It doesn’t have to be perfect; interruptions for applause or laughter may be fine.  Set your recording device at the back of the room.  Placing it near a speaker will help it pick up your voice.  Alternatively, you can record your voice separately with a pocket device, but that adds another layer to this task.

Watch & learn.
Once you have recorded your public speaking presentation, transfer it to a computer with a large monitor.  You want to see yourself on a bigger screen than one provided on the recording device.  Don’t worry about seeing yourself on the “big” screen.  No one, not even professional speakers, likes seeing himself.  But the professionals have learned that video review is a part of the process of getting better.  If you’re hesitant to see yourself, remember that your audience is seeing you, so you might as well know what they are seeing.

3 Reviews is the magic number.
Watch your video at least three times.  Review your presentation with the sound on and the sound off.  Take notes.  With the sound on, listen to what you are saying and how you say it. Do you use a lot of filler words?  Do your sentences trail off?  Is there vocal variety in your voice?  When you watch the video with the sound off, focus on your non-verbals.  Do you move around too much or not enough?  Do you connect with your audience by looking at them?  Do you gesture oddly?

Commit to use video.
If you want to be a better speaker, make the commitment to use video.  Record as many presentations as you can.  Review them and critique your speech and your style.  If you don’t like what you see, remember that you’re in control.  Make adjustments, fine tune your presentation skills, and leap towards becoming the great public speaker you want to be.  Use video to get you there.

3 Basic High Definition Video recording device suggestions:
Kodak Zi8 camcorder:  Kodak no longer makes Zi8 HD camera, but it is readily available on EBay.  This small pocket camcorder is versatile as it has an input for an external microphone.  The recording medium is an SD card.  Purchase an SD card that is at least 16 gbs. Video shot with Kodak Zi8

IPhone:  An IPhone 4/4s/5 can record video in full HD using the back camera.  Mounted on a tripod and steady mount, it will be fine.  An external mike can be plugged into the IPhone.  Various camera/video apps are available, but stick with the basic video program.  The recording media is internal, but make sure that you have enough space to record your presentation.  Remember to place your IPhone in airplane mode.  You don’t want an in-coming call to disrupt your presentation or your recording. Video shot with an IPhone 4s and Edutige microphone

Point & shoot camera: Today,  basic point & shoot cameras like Canon’s Powershot ELPH 330 can record full HD video and have wi-fi uploads.  The recording medium is an SD card.  Use one that is at least 16 gbs.  One downside of most point & shoot cameras is that they don’t have an external microphone option. Video shot with Canon ELPH with internal microphone

Extra points: Record separate video and audio.

Watch this video by Carl Kwan. You can record your video with a camera at the back of the room while recording the audio with an IPhone or digital recorder that is placed in your pocket.  This is the set up that I typically use.  This set up ensures that I get clear audio.  The microphone that I use with my IPhone is the Edutige Microphone Voice Recorder, which I highly recommend.  To add some space between you and your IPhone, get the Edutige Microphone cable kit.  It has a 50″ cord as well as an in-line volume control and headphone jack.  Final item, don’t forget to use the wind screen on your microphone.




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Evaluation cards – Use them to quickly improve your presentation skills

Want to quickly improve your presentation skills? Use an evaluation card after every public speaking opportunity.  Evaluation cards are a great way to get real and immediate feedback from your presentation audience.

Charles Greene III Presention Skills

Evaluation cards let you know the true effectiveness of your presentation.  Did you grab their attention?  Did your message have value to them.  Did you connect with your audience? Regardless of how much work you put into your presentation, the audience always has the final say.

The key to an effective evaluation card is to have simple questions that can be easily answered.  My evaluation card has 8 questions.  The first five questions are short and can be answered with a numerical rating of 1 – 5, 5 being the top level.  Below the video, you can see my full evaluation card along with comments on each question.

 Speaker Evaluation: Charles Greene III Presentation Magician
Using the scale of 1 – 5, respond to each of the following statements, where:
1 = Strongly Disagree   2 = Disagree   3 = Neutral   4 = Agree   5 = Strongly Agree

The speaker grabbed my attention. How strong was my opening?

The presentation had value for my professional life. As a business speaker I want to know if my message connected with them on a professional level.

The speaker was able to stimulate and maintain interest. Did I keep them interested?  Attention levels always drop in the middle of a presentation, but what did they think?

Satisfactory explanations were provided to questions asked. How were my responses to their questions?  Did I give them what they requested?

I received value from this presentation. Was it worth their time?  Was it an educational experience?

What did you like best? What was the highlight?  What is the one thing that they’ll remember most?

What did you like least? What was the low-point?  Every presentation has one.

What question do you have now that you wish had been answered by this speaker?  Even though I allow lots of time for Q&A, there might be a topic that wasn’t covered or needed more time for discussion. 

The critical 3 questions – The final three questions require a little more thought, but provide me with the best information for future improvement and growth.

Question 6 “What did you like best?” The responses to this question rarely give me new information, but it sets up the next two questions, which are critical in providing the best evaluations for improvement of your presentation and professional growth as a speaker.

Question 7 “What did you like least?” Every presentation has a weak link.  Even though you may repeat the same presentation, the weak spot can change from audience to audience.  Sometimes it can be a specific message point.  Sometimes it can be a factor that is totally out of your control, like the temperature of the room.  Knowing what your audience like least will give you a sense of what they experienced while listening to your presentation.

Question 8 “What question do you have now that you wish had been answered by the speaker?” The responses to this question tell me what I need to address more closely in future presentations.  These responses have also given me direction for new presentation on a specific topic.

You might be thinking, why not use only questions 6, 7 & 8?  A three question evaluation card might work, but the additional questions will give you better vision of how an audience viewed your presentation.

Feed back from an evaluation card is invaluable.  Get it as often as you can.  It provides you with the best window into how your audiences view your presentation.  Reading the responses to an evaluation card will let you quickly improve your presentations.  However, it’s your job to decipher their responses, make adjustments, and then incorporate the revisions into your next great presentation.

If you have questions on how to create an effective evaluation card, simply send me a message and I’ll take a look at your work.

Have a super day!
Charles Greene III Presentation Magician
Washington, DC

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PowerPoint road trip — Slide your presentation skills into overdrive

PowerPoint Road Trip Charles Greene III Business Speaker

Presentation Skills: PowerPoint has never killed anyone, yet millions have suffered from “Death by PowerPoint.”  PowerPoint has a 95% share of the presentation software market.  It’s the de facto visual aid used in corporate presentations.  Every day over 30 million PowerPoint presentations are created.  Unfortunately, most are awful.

There’s nothing wrong with PowerPoint.  It’s a great tool — a hammer, a toothbrush, or a fork — make the tasks easier to accomplish; however, when used inappropriately, the tools work ineffectively at best and cause grave harm at worst.  Imagine using a fork to brush your teeth.  Ouch!  Great tool.  Wrong application.  Most people use PowerPoint as a glorified word processor, filling their slides with lots of text.  Great tool.  Wrong application.

Shift your thinking Let’s reframe a PowerPoint presentation as a road trip, a pleasurable drive on a wide-open road.  The presenter is the driver, and the audience is the passenger.  As the driver you invite your audience to join you on a PowerPoint road trip.

You should use slides that have strong visual images with few, if any, lines of text.  Imagine your slides as canvas to be drawn on, containing as little text as possible.  Think images.  Think pictures.

On a PowerPoint road trip, you’ll take your audience on a tour of your thoughts and ideas using highly visual signs.  You use each new sign as an opportunity to tell a story, and at the end of your trip,  you deliver your passenger to a new destination.  Hopefully, they’ve been transformed by the experience and share it with others.

Rearview mirror – If the story above is reminiscent of your slide deck, then your presentation skills get the checkered flag.  You understand how to inform your audiences with highly visual signs and guide them toward a clearly defined destination.  However, if your presentations seem closer to a rush-hour commute in heavy traffic, then it’s time for a tune-up of your slide deck.

Video – PowerPoint Road Trip – 5 point checklist

Speed read Your presentation slides should resemble interstate highway signs – clearly visible with highly legible text.  Presentation slides should provide essential information that can be absorbed in seconds.  Unfortunately, most presentation slides resemble historical markers – lots of small text meant to be read while standing still.

Consider the following signs.
PowerPoint Road Trip Charles Greene III Business Speaker

Which sign can be read while traveling at highway speeds?

Look at the following three examples of presentation slides that feature Washington, DC.

The first one lays out the city’s story like a book.  It has a paragraph’s worth of full sentences.  It’s a document, not a presentation slide.  No presenter is needed to deliver this information.  The audience can read the text and understand the story.

PowerPoint Road Trip Charles Greene III Business Speaker

The second slide is Washington’s story formatted with bullet points – too many. Although not a document, this slide still has too much information, which makes the presenter unnecessary.  Once again, the audience can read and understand the information on its own.
PowerPoint Road Trip Charles Greene III Business Speaker

The third slide example is just the city name and an image.  It has the efficiency of a highway sign.  The slide is highly visual with minimal text.  This slide gives the presenter maximum flexibility.  The information can be absorbed in seconds, yet it requires a presenter to give it meaning and relevance.
PowerPoint Road Trip Charles Greene III Business Speaker

Five point checklist for tuning up your presentation skills and creating a PowerPoint road trip. 

1) Know your destination – Have a clear and concise message.  Make sure that you know where you are taking your audience.

2) Be a responsible driver – Respect your audience.  Do not read your slides to your audience.  Connect with them with more than just your words.  Use eye contact, vocal variety and movement to reach out and engage them.

3) Create clear signs – Design slides that are highly visual and support your key message. Use as little text as possible, maybe two or three words.

4) Pack light and tight – Tell your story with only the essentials.  Use the fewest and strongest points to support your key message.  When in doubt, leave it out.

5) Fuel your presentation – All road trips should start with a full tank of gas.  Your personal passion is the fuel that will power your presentation.  Like a car without gas, your presentation won’t go far without passion.  So, fill‘er up with premium.
PowerPoint Road Trip Charles Greene III Business Speaker
Charles on the road in Morocco.

Happy trailsHaving been both a driver and a passenger with PowerPoint presentations, I know that it’s pleasurable to be in either seat when this checklist is followed.  My thoughts on PowerPoint have been formed from my use of the tool in presenting a wide range of information, my research on the subject, and my time spent in the company of true masters of the tool at the Presentation Summit.  My thoughts on road trips come from several very memorable experiences.

Driver’s manualsMake a pit stop and read the books of Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds.  No matter what your presentation software choice, PowerPoint, Keynote, or Prezi, their “less is more” thinking about presentation skills will point you in the right direction.


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