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 PowerPoint presentation. 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 Guy Kawasaki 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.

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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How to Write a Farewell Speech

When you write a farewell speech, it is usually consists of thoughts and feelings about past associations and future possibilities. Like any other speech, there are a few basic steps you need to prepare.

Analyze The Audience
Before you decide what to say in a farewell speech, you need to know who your listeners will be. Is is an employment situation? Are you a manager or a co-worker? Is it a group the person has been serving, such as a civic group or other organization? The audience will determine how you express your appreciation.

Tone Of The Speech
The tone of the farewell speech depends on the personality of the individual leaving, your own personality and the atmosphere of the room. A casual luncheon light refreshments will call for a lighthearted and funny approach. If you are speaking at a retiree banquet or from a podium, a more formal tone is required. That’s not to say you can’t inject some humor into any speech-it will be appreciated by your listeners-but let the humor influence the tone rather than take it over.

Focus Of The Speech
A good farewell speech should include several elements:

  1. Address the person departing in friendly terms.
  2. Talk a about the past. Give a brief description of the person leaving. Mention their personal characteristics, achievements and contributions.
  3. Express gratitude for all the contributions, support and kindness they have rendered for the association or organization.
  4. The final thought of a farewell speech should be linked to best wishes for the future.

PowerPoint Tips

Save Your Fonts with Your Presentation

If you’re preparing a presentation that you plan to distribute to others, be sure that you check this option by clicking on the Tools button in the File/Save As dialog box.  This will work for most TrueType fonts on the Windows platform.

Saving Your Toolbar Configurations

If you like to customize your UI, move toolbars around, configure toolbars, etc, then you’ll want to know that all this information is stored in c:\windows\application data\microsoft\powerpoint\ppt.pcb

By copying this file, you can move your customizations to other machines.

Displaying Keyboard Shortcuts in Tool Tips

If you’d like to see the available keyboard shortcuts for menus, commands, and toolbar buttons, go to Tools/Customize, click on the Options tab, and click on “show shortcut keys in screen tips”.

Getting Rid of Short Menus

Forgetting user reaction to this feature when it was introduced in Word years ago, the Office team decided to try it again.  Unfortunately, it’s still annoying.  To see all of your options when you click on menus, go to Tools/Customize, click on the Options tab, and uncheck “menus show recently used commands”.

Preview Fonts in the Toolbar

If you’d like to see previews of the actual fonts in the font selection of the formatting toolbar, go to Tools/Customize, click on the Options tab, and click “List font names in their font”, click Close.

Making Auto-Fit Text Stop Auto-Fitting

Turn this feature off by going to Tools/Options, click on the Edit tab, and uncheck “autofit text to text placeholder”, click OK.

Getting Rid of Tri-Pane View

Unfortunately there is no way to permanently avoid this improvement, but you can quickly get rid of it by holding down the CTRL key when you click on the Slide View button.

Using Ctrl-Drag to Copy

You can quickly make a copy of any object by holding down the CTRL key while you drag on the object.  You will then “drag off” a new copy.

Making Slides Print Correctly

PowerPoint has certain defaults to determine how it prints each object on the page.  You can see over-ride these defaults.  Go to View/Black and White; this will show you a gray-scale preview of how your slide will print.  To change the print settings for any given object, right-click on it, then click “Black and White”, and then choose the appropriate print option for that object.  Master objects can be selected by going to the Master page View.

Preview Slide Show Effects

While editing a presentation, hold down the CTRL key while clicking the slide show view button; this will open a tiny preview window showing that slide in slide show mode.

Setting the Default Text Style

If you want to change the style of the text that appears when you type things that aren’t the title or the slide body, do the following:
Make sure no objects are selected.
From the Format menu, select Font. Make all the changes that you want there, and click OK.
From that point on, new text will be created in that style.

To Set the formatting for the title or slide body objects, go to the Slide Master and format these objects on the master.

Using Different Backgrounds within one Presentation

Users of PowerPoint 2000 and lower will only have two background designs automatically supplied with the Masters (counting both the Slide Master and the Title Master).  However, you can have any design you want on any slide. From the Format menu, select Background. Check the box that says “omit background items” and this will make the slide ignore the Slide Master’s design. You are now free to add whatever design you want to this slide. If you want to do this to many slides at once, go to the Slide Sorter, select the slides, and then use the Format menu command. Remember though that if you choose to do something like put a photographic background on many of your slides instead of doing it once on the Master, that your file size may increase dramatically.

PowerPoint 2002 supports multiple background masters.

Using More than One Guide

If you like using guides, but wish there were more, you can create additional Guides by simply holding down the CTRL key while dragging on an existing Guide. This will create a new guide. To get rid of guides, just drag them off the edge of the slide.

Using Guides to Measure

Make the Guides visible by using View/Guides.  Then, hold down the SHIFT key while you click-and-hold a guide; the tooltip for the guide will display 0:00.  As you move the guide, the distance the guide covers from the beginning of the drag will be displayed in the units of your ruler.  In this way you can measure distances between objects, place guides at specific places, etc.

Creating Pages with Slides and Descriptive Text

If you want to create printable pages that have notes or descriptive text associated with each slide, PowerPoint has a feature designed to do just this called Notes Pages, or Speaker’s Notes (depending on which version you’re using). To view the Notes page for any slide, go to the View menu and select Notes Pages. You will see an image of your slide there, and a placeholder for adding your script, notes, or any other text you wish. You can cut-and-paste text from Word here if you like. To print these pages, bring up the Print dialog, and at the bottom of the dialog where it says “Print What:”, select Notes Pages. These pages were originally designed to be used as audience hand outs (with space for the audience to take notes) but were also used by many as speaker’s notes: the text block would have the script of the presentation, to be used by the speaker, or for sales binders to educated sales people.

Making Presentation Files Smaller

Prior to PowerPoint 97, there was no internal file compression code inside of PowerPoint, and files could get pretty big quickly. The most common cause of large files is the addition of large bitmaps. PowerPoint 97 compresses these bitmaps, but previous versions do not. To keep your presentations as small as you can, try reducing the resolution of your bitmaps, which will bring their size down tremendously. For viewing on screen, the bitmaps don’t need to be more than 96 dpi; they won’t print nicely until they’re up around 150 or higher, but the screen always displays at 96 dpi, so if the primary viewing medium is the screen, there’s no point in having the bitmaps be a higher resolution. Also, the bitmap format can make a big difference to your file sizes. JPEG and PNG both have good internal compression code. GIF has some, but not as good as JPEG. BMP files are the largest; TIFF files will also be very large.

Sometimes, as you’re working on a presentation, you’ll notice that the file seems to get bigger for no reason.  To get rid of this “bloating”, save the file using “File/Save As” and give the file a new name.  This can reduce the file size up to 50%.

Building Presentations for Distribution to Others

If you’re making a PowerPoint presentation that you intend to distribute to lots of different people, here are some important things to watch out for that will cause problems:

1. Stick with the fonts that come installed with Windows; Fancy fonts that appear on your machine will cause problems if everyone else doesn’t have them.

2. Avoid embedding sounds and videos: these will not go from Mac to Windows gracefully, and you have to be very careful about how you insert the files in order to get them to “travel” properly. See the FAQ section for more information on this.

3. Try looking at the presentation on a different platform (Mac vs Windows); be prepared for some visual changes in your file–the version or platform may not support some of the features you’ve put in, so be sure to sanity check your file on several different machines and versions BEFORE you distribute it!

Easily Changing from Caps to Lower Case (or Vice Versa)

 If you have text that is in the wrong case, select the text, and then click Shift+F3 until it changes to the case style that you like. Clicking Shift+F3 toggles the text case between ALL CAPS, lower case, and Initial Capital styles. You’ll be surprised how often you use this once you get the hang of it!

Nudging Objects

 You can use the arrow keys to move objects very small distances. This is a big win for those laptop users who no longer have mice. Select the object, then use your arrow keys. Each press of the key will move the object on “grid unit” (1/12th of an inch, don’t ask why); if you hold down the ALT key while nudging, or if you have the grid turned off, you can move the objects one pixel at a time.

Saving Across Multiple Diskettes

 From the File menu, select Pack and Go. This wizard will compress your PowerPoint presentation and copy the file onto as many floppies as are necessary.  Be sure to format a bunch of floppies BEFORE you start the process, and make sure they are empty.  This feature requires PowerPoint 95 or higher.

Subliminal Messages

These can be pretty hysterical in the right circumstances. Create a text object. With the text object selected, click on the Animation Effects button on the tool bar (the one that looks like a yellow star), and then click on the “flash once” button. Go to slide show and see the message quickly flash and then disappear.

Editing Drawings

Anything you draw with the pencil tool, you can edit. To get the object into “points mode”, either double-click on the object, or select it then hit the Enter key. You will then see points at every vertex, which you can move. You can add points by holding down the shift key and clicking, you can subtract points by holding down the ALT key while clicking, and you can of course just drag points around.

Example of Objects with Soft ShadowSoft Shadows

You can create “soft” shadows for square or round objects that sit on a solid color background. Make a copy of the object, then change its fill to be shaded from black to the background color, with the shading set with black going from the center out to the background color at the edges. Make this object about 150% bigger than the original object, and put it behind the object. This will give you the effect of “soft” shadows.

Selecting Small Objects

Hit the ESCAPE key to insure that nothing is current selected, then repeatedly hit the TAB key, which will toggle you through a selection of all of the objects on a slide. This is useful for selecting very small objects, or objects that are covered up by other larger objects.

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