Category Archives: Communication

The Seven Deadly Sins of Powerpoint Presentations

You would think in this day and age of Garr Reynold and Presentation ZenSeth Godin and Really Bad PowerPoint or Cliff Atkinson and Beyond Bullet Points, there would be no excuse for poor quality PowerPoint presentations. Unfortunately, people continue to churn out ineffective presentations.

Here are some links and resources for improving presentations:

Joseph Sommerville provides a list of common presentation sins.

  1. Slide Transitions And Sound Effects
  2. Standard Clipart
  3. Presentation Templates
  4. Text-Heavy Slides
  5. The “Me” Paradigm
  6. Reading
  7. Faith in Technology

The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint by Guy Kawasaki

Nine Steps to PowerPoint Magic by Seth Godin

How to Prevent PowerPoint overload by Cliff Atkinson

Presentation Tips from Garr Reynolds

There’s no excuse for bad PowerPoint. There are lots of resources available to help you create a presentation that will communcate effectively.

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Learn to Communicate With WARMTH

  • Wear a smile – A smile is one of the strongest communication tools. You don’t have to spend the entire time grinning like an idiot, but there is nothing quite as infectious as sharing a smile. Dale Carnegie said, “It costs nothing, but creates much. It enriches those who receive, without impoverishing those who give. It happens in a flash and the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.
  • An open posture – Keep an open body position. Closing up your body profile—becoming smaller—looks like you lack confidence. If you keep your arms folded, you appear to be defending yourself against the other person’s communication.
  • Rise and lean forward – Your posture should be upright but not stiff. Don’t slouch; but don’t sit like you’re at military attention. Stay relaxed and lean forward a bit.
  • Make eye contact – Your eye contact is the single most effective indicator that you’re involved in the conversation. By avoiding eye contact, you appear anxious, uninterested and bored. Your eyes always talk and provide valuable cues as to your approachability.
  • Territorial zones/touch – Find the appropriate balance of distance; too close invades personal space, while too far may seem like you’re not interested. Is the communication formal enough for an office or would you be better off meeting in a coffee shop?

  • Head-nodding – There is plenty of research into the part nodding plays in communication. Nodding tells the speaker that you are listening and that they should continue to speak. If you increase the speed of your nodding, it signals you are ready to speak.
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How to Connect With Your Audience

Communication works best in an active, not a passive environment. If you want to get your message across to your audience members, you have to connect with them.

Interaction is a continuous way to get feedback on how well your content is understood. It also gives listeners a chance to contribute their experience to the learning process.

How do you build interaction?

  • Be prepared to be spontaneous. Have questions ready—begin with relatively easy, accessible ones. Ask questions that create disagreement and watch the audience come to life.
  • Work to get everyone involved: even in large groups. I have an assortment of candy ready. I give a chocolate bar to the first person who answers a question. It’s amazing how responsive the rest of the group gets when there is chocolate at stake. (Yes, these are adults. )
  • Break into small groups. Ask participants to consider issues with the person sitting next to them or small groups.
  • Discuss as a larger group. Have the smaller groups present their findings to the whole group. Use those points to generate further discussion with the audience.

The way you move when speaking also affects you connection with the audience. If you spend the entire speach leaning on the lectern, with your arms folded, it will be difficult to connect with the listeners.


  • Don’t rock or scurry back and forth, but don’t get locked into one position.
  • Walk toward the audience.
  • If you can’t walk toward the audience, lean in.
  • Use eye contact.
  • Energize and use gestures. The larger the audience and the room, the bigger your gestures have to be.
  • Get your face involved.
  • Use vocal variety.
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10 Tips for a Killer Presentation

It’s easy to compound our innate fear of public speaking by delivering a really bad presentation. There’s nothing worse than fighting the nervous butterflies in your stomach and seeing the glazed-eyes look of your audience as you slowly bore them to tears.

Neil Patel has posted 10 Tips for a Killer PresentationMy three favourites:

  • Don’t abuse your visuals – Usually your visuals are posters, charts, or even a PowerPointpresentation. Whatever your visuals may be, keep them simple and don’t put too many words on them. The audience isn’t there to read your slides, they are there to listen to you present.
  • Make them laugh – Although you want to educate your audience, you need to make them laugh as well. I learned this from  and if you ever hear any of his speeches you’ll understand why. In essence, it keeps the audience alert and they’ll learn more from you than someone who just educates.
  • Talk to your audience, not at them – People hate it when they get talked at, so don’t do it. You need to interact with your audience and create a conversation. An easy way to do this is to ask them questions as well as letting them ask you questions.

I have one more tip that I’ve had to learn the hard way: Tell stories – People don’t want to sit through a dry recitation of facts, statistics, policy, etc. They want to hear how what you have to say plays out in real life. Learn to tell stories.

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10 tips for successful public speaking

 has put together a list of ten tips that will help improve your public speaking skills.

  1. Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech.
  2. Use personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
  3. Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary.
  4. Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
  5. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
  6. Relax. Ease tension by doing exercises. Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
  7. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
  8. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They don’t want you to fail.
  9. Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
  10. Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.
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6 tricks to help you remember names

I have a terrible time remembering people’s names. Let me rephrase that, I have a terrible time learning people’s names. I don’t know how often I’ve been embarrassed when someone greets my by name and I can’t remember who the person is.

I envy those people that remember your name from the first time they hear it. Anyone with such an ability has a head start on building strong relationships.

Here are 6 tricks I use to help imprint that new name in my memory:

  1. Show interest in the other person – Your initial frame of mind makes a big difference in name retention. I have lost countless names because I was thinking about the impression I was creating, and not listening to the person I was meeting. There’s an irony in making a bad impression because you’re too focussed on making a good impression.
  2. Repeat the name back – It’s easy to confirm what you heard by saying something like, “Nice to meet you, Joan.” If the person’s name is a little unusual, you can repeat it to make sure you’re pronouncing it correctly. If you’re unclear about a name given via telephone, ask for the spelling. Saying the name immediately helps lock it in the memory.
  3. Use it often – When you’re speaking with someone you’ve just met, use their name throughout your conversation. End your conversation with their name.
  4. Write it on their forehead – Not literally! Picture the name you’ve just learned on the person’s forehead. Visualizing this incongruous image reinforces the name.
  5. Use word association – Dora the Explorer is easy to remember because of the rhyme pattern. Mike Holmes is easy to remember by playing off his last name; Holmes on Homes. Come up with some sort of word association on a person’s name.
  6. Write it down – The best thing I can do to learn a new name is to write it down. The minute I walk away from the person, I pull out my pocket pad and write the name. 90% of the time, that’s all it takes to seal the name in my mind. The other 10%, I can pull out the pad and refresh my memory.

Our names are important to us. We appreciate those people who, with seeming lack of effort, learn and remember our names. If you want to make a strong impression on the people you meet, make the effort to remember names.

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