2 Minute Talk Tips

2 Minute Talk Tips helps you improve your public speaking. Each episode starts with a 2 minute, practical tip so you get value right from that start. After that, we have a deeper discussion about issues affecting public speakers. We talk about Speaking, PowerPoint, relating to an audience, stand-up comedy, storytelling, preparation, and much more. If you've got only 2 minutes, you have time to learn stuff. If you have more time, we've got more detail. Public speaking is an important skill to have in any role that requires good communications skills. Anyone who has spent a lot of time in meetings will agree, and they will likely bemoan the lack of effective speakers. The good news is that developing strong public speaking skills isn't hard. Between books, podcasts, seminars, and meetups there are plenty of resources that can help. A lot of folks are intimidated by the idea, though. They think that to learn public speaking, they need to become the next Tony Robbins, Ronald Reagan, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, or Cicero. That's not true, though. Don't focus on being the best speaker ever. Instead, become a better speaker tomorrow. And do that every day. That's the pathway to success. Don't get best…get better. I'm Bill Monroe. I've built a career on public speaking and training. In my work at Microsoft and Toshiba, I used these skills to teach folks how to sell technology products and to excite them about those products. I've worked with customers in the retail, public sector, and corporate industries as a technology evangelist. Yet, while I've been conducting presentations for more than 25 years, I'm still learning and improving. I believe everyone -- from novice to expert -- can become a better speaker. Sometimes that requires small changes. Other times it requires more deliberate strategic decisions. With 2 Minute Talk Tips we can all become a little better every day.
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Now displaying: April, 2017
Apr 25, 2017

This Week's Tip: Do you Need that Animation?

  PowerPoint has lots of amazing animations and transitions. Unfortunately, many slide authors use too many of them. When a slide deck has too many animations it looks cheesy and amateurish.  It can also cause problems if you want to print slides or present via a webinar.  If you want to use transitions and animations in a slide deck, first ask, "Why?" or ask, "What will this animation do for me?" Think about how it will help you make your point, or think about how it will help your audience understand what you are telling them.   If it doesn't contribute to your message -- if it doesn't make you more effective -- leave it out.  

Post Tip Discussion: Speak Deliberately

  Many of things we do, we do on autopilot. We walk, talk, drive, watch TV, and snack without actually thinking about it. It's like we have background computer scripts running in our brains while we focus on other things. This can be helpful for some tasks, but it's not helpful for others.   A speaker is more effective when they speak deliberately. That means they should:  
  1. Break rules deliberately
  2. Move deliberately
  3. Use silence deliberately
  Being deliberate means thinking about the things you say and do one stage and doing and saying those things for a reason.  And that makes you more effective.  

Call To Action:

  • What are your thoughts on acting deliberately? What scripts often run in the back of your brain? What are you favorite deliberate steps to take? Let us know in the comments below
  • Subscribe to 2 Minute Talk Tips in you favorite podcast app
  • Tell a friend about 2 Minute Talk Tips
  • Speak deliberately
  • Make sure you need that animation
  • Don't get best ... get better.
Apr 18, 2017

This Week's Tip: Plan to Punt

  It would be great if speakers always got the amount of time they thought they would get when they arranged to speak. If they did, they could easily cover all the content in a well designed presentation. The problem is that often, the amount of time a speaker has will change at the last minute. To effectively manage your public speaking engagements, know ahead of time what to punt.   Whether you lose time due to other speakers going over, the audience needing a break, or even an awesome question, you can be a more effective speaker if you know what to cut ahead of time. Have a plan so your audience doesn't see you scrambling. Remember, it's better to cut material and give the remaining material the attention it deserves than it is to burn through slides in a blur.  

Break Comments

  This week (April 17) I joined Jon Clarke on his podcast Caffeinated Comics. If you enjoy geeky and nerdy stuff, check it out. We talk about Doctor Who, Star Wars, MST3K, and more. You can learn more about Caffeinated Comics on Facebook here, and you can check out the blog and all the episodes here.  

Post Tip Discussion

  Spring time is the start of convention season. Whether the conferences that pop up are fan based, industry based, or corporate based, they are a great chance to get together to learn new things and meet new people. A staple of the convention is the panel discussion.   A panel discussion is a different type of public speaking. Usually 3 or more speakers or experts will be on the stage at a table, while one person hosts and moderates the panel. The job of the moderator is to keep the conversation moving, to ensure the speakers can share their perspectives, and to manage the audience Q&A. It requires a specific set of skills.   This week, Jon Clarke returns to 2 Minute Talk Tips to teach us how to moderate a panel. Jon is a freelance writer, director, and copywriter with nearly 20 years of experience in the advertising industry. His portfolio includes work for Verizon, Lenovo, Jim Beam, and some of the country’s leading pharmaceutical companies. On weekends he is Bono for Without U2, the popular Midwest U2 cover band.   As a pop culture expert, Jon has moderated panels at science fiction conventions, written a comic book, produced YouTube videos that have reached hundreds of thousands of viewers, and performed as a Stand-Up Comedian in New York. In 2013 he launched the Caffeinated Comics podcast, reporting on all the geeky activities in the Chicagoland area. He previously appeared on Episode 003 of 2 Minute Talk Tips.   You can learn more about and engage with Jon here:   Here are 10 tips Jon shares in this interview:
  1. If the panel is about the history of a topic, be sure to pick out a few dates you can go to if you need to move the discussion along
  2. If it's a stylistic panel, and the conversation is going in only one direction, try flipping it around and asking, "What's the opposite of that?"
  3. Before the panel, make sure you check Google or Wikipedia to see what they have to say about the other panel members
  4. Remember, it's not your place to tell stories. It's your place to listen to stories
  5. Be in the moment
  6. Don't ask questions just because you wrote them. Follow the actual conversation
  7. Limit follow-ups during Q&A so the audience member doesn't become an unofficial member of the panel
  8. Wrap up the panel buy summarizing the common theme that's come out of it because a conversation has just been created. What will we take with us?
  9. Ask the guests, "How do we find you online?"
  10. Thank the audience

Call to Action

  • What do you think makes a great panel host? What has been your favorite panel discussion? Tell us in the comments below or leave a voice mail at 650-Talk-Tip (650-825-5847)
  • Subscribe to 2 Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app and tell a friend
  • Consider what to punt before your next presentation
  • Don't get best...get better.
Apr 11, 2017

This Week's Tip: Count Filler Words

  Filler words are the ums and ahhs and likes and verys of a speech. One or two are okay, but a bunch of them will annoy an audience. We usually say them while our brain tries to catch up with our mouth.   An effective speaker uses few of these since they don't help the speaker. To get rid of them, you first need to understand how many of them you use.   Listen to a recording of one of your presentations and count how many times you use a filler word. Alternatively, you can ask a partner to listen to one of your live sessions while you speak, and they can count them for you. Next, divide the number of filler words by the number of minutes in your speech. This will give you the number of filler words per minute which makes it easier to compare your performance from a 10 minute presentation to a 30 minute presentation.   Once you have that key metric, then you can set a goal to reduce the filler words that you use.  

Post Tip Discussion: Raise your Energy Level

  We're all familiar with the high energy presenter who bounces around the stage, waving their arms, and loudly celebrating every slide.   That's not the only type of high-energy presenter, though. A speaker can also demonstrate high-energy through a more intense, focused, and quiet style.  It's not about being shy or low-key. It's about being quietly, intensely, deliberate in conveying a message.   That's good because high energy of whichever type is important in a speech. Higher energy levels show the audience you care, make it easier to take the audience on a journey, keep the audience awake, facilitate audience connections, and make the speaker more compelling.   There are several things speakers can do to increase their energy levels.  
  • Know your stuff
  • Pace, stretch, do Jumping Jacks or generally move around back stage
  • Refocus on a core message
  • Vary your pitch, volume, and pace

Call To Action:

  • What is your presentation style like? Why does it work for you? Let us know in the comments below.
  • Subscribe to 2 Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app
  • Count your filler words
  • Raise your energy level
  • Don't get best...get better
Apr 4, 2017

This Week's Tip: Face your Audience

  It may seem obvious that the speaker should face the audience, but we're probably all been in sessions where the speaker keeps turning  away from the audience to reach and watch their slides. Each time they advance the show, they turn their back to the audience again so they can read to their audience or just figure out what point to touch on next. An audience does not usually appreciate staring at a presenter's back for 20-90 minutes.   To make sure you always face your audience, do 2 things. 
  • Make sure your laptop display faces you while you speak to the audience. It shouldn't be against a wall facing the audience
  • Know your slides well enough so that you don't need to read them to make the point you want to make. A glance should be all you need

Post Tip Discussion: The Job's not Done until the Paperwork is Done

  The presentation doesn't end the moment the speaker leaves the stage. There is a lot of value a speaker can generate from their own post-event reporting. In this week's episode, I explore that idea in greater detail.  
  1. Why should you report on an event?
    1. If there's no report, it didn't happen. Creating reports gives you greater accountability, confirmation to your supervisor that it happened, and opportunity to praise you team for their assistance. It's also helpful when you compile your annual review months down the road.
    2. It helps preserve institutional memory of events. This is especially important for annual and semi-annual recurring events.
    3. It's a great way to keep track of follow-up items
    4. It helps you become a better presenter by keeping track of the things you can improve on
  2. When should you compile your reports?
    1. Immediately or ASAP.
    2. Reports will not get any better with time. Details will start to fade after a few hours.
  3. How do you compile data for reports?
    1. Make notes during a session.
    2. Review your slides.
    3. Repeat the question when an audience member asks one.
    4. Listen to a recording of your session.
    5. Things about the folks who approached you after a session.
  4. What should you include in your reports?
    1. Logistics
      1. Date
      2. Place
      3. Time
      4. Presenter names
      5. Number of attendees
    2. Summary of the event
      1. General description
      2. Operational details
      3. Stories of things that happened
    3. Feedback
      1. How the audience responded
      2. Comments the audience made with verbatim comments
      3. Opinions folks offered about your content or presentation style
    4. List of questions
      1. Questions you were able to answer
      2. Questions you were not able to answer
    5. Follow-up items
      1. Each item you need to follow-up on
      2. Post event To Do list
    6. Pictures
      1. Any pictures, videos, or multimedia from the session

Call To Action

  • What best practices do you have for post-event reporting? How do you compile reports? Please let us know in the comments below.
  • Please subscribe to 2 Minute Talk Tips in your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode.
  • Face your audience.
  • Do your reports.
  • Don't get best...get better.