2

How confident are you in your presentation skills when it comes to making last minute changes to what you had (or maybe DID NOT have) planned for your presentation?

Stephen Lahey (the undefeated number one Brainzooming fan until someone challenges him for the title) and I were discussing the value, impact, and risks of deviating from typical presentation formulas and improvising in front of a live audience.

We both agreed we are not “memorizers” when it comes to delivering presentations. Personally, I often do not know even the first line I will use to start a presentation until thirty seconds before starting. If the emcee for the session happens to say something I can turn into a self-deprecating joke, that will likely replace any other beginning I had in mind.

Conference_Audience

Presentation Skills Tips – 12 Last Minute Presentation Ideas

I will admit a huge preference for improvising during presentations. It’s a way to customize the content on the fly to attempt to make it more relevant based on the feedback and what you’re learning about the audience as the presentation unfolds.

While Stephen was understandably dubious, our conversation prompted me to list these twelve presentation skills tips for relatively safe last minute presentation ideas you can use to customize the content you are delivering for an audience:

  1. Talk to people attending your presentation before it starts and reference the conversations.
  2. Look around the room before you start and notice anything (posters, handouts, signage) left over from previous presentations; incorporate these into your remarks.
  3. Insert a relevant story you would usually share in another presentation, but had not planned during the current one.
  4. Make fun of any foibles you make during the course of the presentation to have some fan at your own expense.
  5. Make a bold physical movement (i.e., jump up, slam a table, fall down, walk out into the room) the audience does not expect.
  6. Ask the group (or an individual) a question and use the response to illustrate (or even challenge) a point you are making.
  7. Pause during your presentation to chat with an audience member about an expression, statement, or action they have done.
  8. Ask an audience member to share a story about the topic you are covering.
  9. Spend more time on something that appears to be resonating with the audience and shorten up other content that might be less relevant.
  10. Skip a few slides that are going to push you past the time you are supposed to speak.
  11. While the audience is working on an exercise or is otherwise distracted, unhide a slide you did not plan to cover and include it in the presentation.
  12. Close the presentation with an emotional story from your life that you have been reluctant to share because it will make you vulnerable.

What do you think? Are you ready to take some more risks with these presentation skills tips?

Go ahead. You will be fine. I promise! – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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A brand can be completely careless about its branding strategy and brand messages. If it is, it runs the risk of confusing itself, its employees, and the marketplace.

Really smart brands, however, employ a coordinated branding strategy across values, employees, products and services, messages, and all the cues that reinforce the brand. They take advantage of every opportunity (or at least as many as they possibly can) to reinforce brand messages, even on what might seem to be throwaway situations.

On several road trips, we passed Chick-fil-A logos on multi-restaurant highway signs. These highway signs are the ones where several restaurants buy small placements to highlight a presence at an upcoming exit.

Each of the Chick-fil-A placements on these restaurant signs featured the brand’s logo and the message, “Closed Sunday.”

Chick-fil-a-Sign2

It might initially seem to be an odd, negative branding message. Why tell someone when you AREN’T open when you could convey a positive message such as, “Open Mon-Sat.”

Yet, while “Open Mon-Sat” is a message, it does nothing for the Chick-fil-A brand. “Closed Sunday,” on the other hand, sends a big brand message about Chick-fil-A and the values its brand represents. Importantly, it also resonates strongly with an important target audience for the brand.

That’s a tiny lesson, but suggests a big question for any organization’s branding strategy: How many meaningless brand messages are you putting out into the marketplace, and what are you going to do (SOON) to give them real brand value? – Mike Brown

10 Keys to Engaging Stakeholders to Create Improved Results

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This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for leaders to increase strategic collaboration, engagement, and create improved results.

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  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage stakeholders in strategy AND implementation success

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Whenever readers or workshop audience members initiate conversations and ask questions, it is so much easier to write blog content.

I doubt that is a unique situation.

If you are looking to find more ideas for your content marketing strategy, have you tried mining your organization’s daily customer conversations?

Tap into open-ended customer conversations already taking place with sales, customer service, executives, technical staff, drivers, retail associates, e-commerce and social media staff, market researchers, and any other employees interacting with customers whether in-person or virtually.

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Photo by: Seleneos | Source: Photocase.com

Additionally, create new opportunities to capture customer conversations through listening posts you create. These are specific interactions you create to capture additional inputs from customers about your brand and its products and services. It could be as simple as actually capturing the feedback from questions you are already having your employees ask customers during routine interactions. It might extend, however, to doing something completely new to find out what customers are asking or saying about your brand.

4 Customer Conversations and Content Marketing Strategy Ideas

How do you turn these conversations into content marketing possibilities?

One way is to think about the conversations based on their nature (statements vs. questions) and tone (positive to negative). Categorizing customer conversations along these two dimensions is a first step toward turning them into content using the matrix below.

  • Positive statements can suggest ways to highlight brand value.
  • Positive questions turn into education opportunities
  • Negative comments are opportunities to anticipate objectives and challenges other customers are facing but not voicing.
  • Negative questions open the door to both process changes to address pain points and update opportunities for what your brand is doing in these areas.

Customer-Convo-Med

Effectively mining customer conversations sets you up to expand content you can be better assured is relevant to customers and prospects because THEY are generating the topics!  – Mike Brown

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When was the last time you invested 45 minutes to check your social media strategy?

9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy

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We have said it before, but it warrants repeating: Not all the great content you share has to be completely new content.

Content Marketing Creativity

Any organization likely has a treasure trove of older, historical, and archival content that retains interest and engagement value for new audiences. Doing something to repurpose old content simply requires content marketing creativity!

This was highlighted this past weekend at a family reunion, intriguingly enough. My maternal grandfather’s family of eleven brothers and one sister was a very musical family. Various groups of brothers (including my mom’s dad) formed and played in dance bands from the 1930s through the 1980s.

Freddy-Joe-CD

One of the reunion organizers had the idea to locate, digitize, and clean up recordings from The Freddy Joe Band, one of the bands from the 1940s. My parents supplied several cassette tapes for the CD project. Others did the musical enhancements, along with designing the packaging and writing liner notes. The result was a wonderful remembrance of both the most recent reunion and a significant aspect of the family’s history for a new audience that had never experienced the band.

4 Questions to Repurpose Old Content for New Audiences

This experience suggests four content marketing creativity questions brands can ask and answer to mine and repurpose old content:

  • Does audio and video content exist that tells little-known, but intriguing factoids about the brand’s early days?
  • What rarely-seen photographs (or video) show early employees, customers, and products that have historical value?
  • Who knows stories about the circumstances of how people used early products that provide interesting comparisons to today?
  • Are there lessons learned from the brand’s early days that would still benefit a new audience of customers today?

With just a little content marketing creativity, you can save time and also open up new audiences to engaging aspects of your brand that are so old they are new! – Mike Brown

 

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“How strong is my organization’s social media strategy?”

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Is your social media implementation working as well as it can? In less than 60 minutes with the FREE Brainzooming ebook “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social Strategy,” you’ll have a precise answer to this question.

Any executive can make a thorough yet rapid evaluation of nine different dimensions of their social media strategy with these nine diagnostics. Download Your Free Copy of “9 Diagnostics to Check Your Social  Strategy.”

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Professor John Bennett responded to the recent Brainzooming long list blog post on 26 ways to leave a trail of genius. He wondered about why we write long list posts and how we expect readers will use them.

John’s question and the personal and student examples he shared deserved something more than a comment response, thus this blog.

Long-Lists

3 Reasons Why We Write Long List Posts

Before sharing how we expect readers might use long lists, it is worthwhile to highlight why we write them based on both reader AND writer preferences:

  • Readers gravitate toward list posts. Every year, the most-visited Brainzooming posts are invariably filled with long lists. We’ve hypothesized previously about how a long list of possibilities gives readers a chance to find SOMETHING they can embrace and do.
  • A mega list challenges me personally to see if a subject stands up to use. Is the underlying concept productive enough to generate many possibilities or does it fizzle out quickly after just a few ideas?
  • Long list posts are SOMETIMES easier to write. The long list prompting John’s question was a spur of the moment idea to take advantage of potential writing time while sitting around during my mother-in-law’s recent hospital stay.

There may be other reasons (because three reasons aren’t very many), but let’s leave it at that!

5 Ways Readers Might Use Mega List Posts

How do we recommend readers use mega list posts – at least ones on the Brainzooming blog?

Here are five ideas:

  • Readers can see if they are already doing some of the ideas. That can make them feel better about how smart / motivated / proactive they are.
  • If they aren’t doing much about the list’s subject, having many options provides plenty of possibilities to find one or two things to start doing.
  • Readers might discover the inspiration for new and even better ideas than the long list blog post contains.
  • They might realize the list’s core topic is one they should embrace as something important.
  • Readers could use a long list blog post as a checklist for changing things about themselves or what they do over time.

How Do You Use Long Lists in Blog Posts?

That’s what I think you might be doing with long list blog posts. Is that anywhere close to reality?

If not, then WHAT ARE you doing with them? John and I would like to know! – Mike Brown

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I found this picture while cleaning off my iPad (yes, this one too). It was from a creating strategic impact workshop. While discussing project management techniques, I used it to show how to develop project management strategies when dealing with unpredictable people in business.

Working-With-People

Putting the range of predictability (from low to high) on the Y-axis, the X-axis conveys how “good for business” someone might be, from low to high.

Sizing up someone you work with regularly in these two areas helps develop a strategy to build and strengthen the working relationship to maximize its effectiveness.

Project Management Techniques – The 4 Types of People on Your Team

Obviously, the best situation (upper right quadrant) is someone whose business behaviors are predictable, and the person is good for business. We LOVE them! These are the people to recruit for any project you are leading.

In the lower right quadrant, you have people who exhibit productive business behaviors but do so unpredictably. They may not always finish things, could be prone to running late, or aren’t always available when needed. You still want to involve them, but your project management techniques need to include anticipating what to do if they fall down when you need them. It may require getting them assignments early or having someone else available to step in if they aren’t ready to deliver when you definitely need them.

In the upper left, these people aren’t great for business, but at least they are predictable in their shortcomings. If you must include these types of people on project teams or in management groups, be ready with work arounds or other maneuvers to minimize dependencies (especially critical dependencies) related to them. This way, they won’t compromise the group’s progress.

Finally, and unfortunately, we have people who are bad for business, but unpredictably so. You can count on them messing up things (unintentionally OR intentionally), but you can’t be sure how they will do it. You want to get them off the team or out of the organization if possible, but that is not always in the cards. If you are stuck with trying to manage around them, marginalize them or handle them as you would a sociopath. (Surprisingly or not, the articles we’ve written on the topic are among some of the most viewed on the Brainzooming blog.)

During a lull in your next management meeting or project update, draw this grid and see where all your team members fit. Here’s hoping you fill up the upper right quadrant right away!– Mike Brown

10 Lessons to Engage Employees and Drive Improved Results

FREE Download: “Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact”

Results!!! Creating Strategic Impact Mini-Book

Senior executives are looking for employees who are strong collaborators and communicators while being creative and flexible. In short they need strategic thinkers who can develop strategy and turn it into results.

This new Brainzooming mini-book, “Results – Creating Strategic Impact” unveils ten proven lessons for senior executives to increase strategic collaboration, employee engagement, and grow revenues for their organizations.

Download this free, action-focused mini-book to:

  • Learn smart ways to separate strategic opportunities from the daily noise of business
  • Increase focus for your team with productive strategy questions everyone can use
  • Actively engage more employees in strategy AND implementation success

Download Your FREE   Results!!!  Creating Strategic Impact Mini-book

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the free Brainzooming blog email updates.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Based on conferences I attend, there’s an opportunity to see many “emerging speakers.” These are either executives inside corporations or ones having recently departed. They are in a different experience and style category compared to speakers on the full-time speaking circuit.

This speaking world of emerging speakers is both frustrating and exciting.

It’s frustrating when you sit through full-on bores with content that isn’t compelling. There’s one global B2B company, and every speaker I’ve seen from it the past few years is arrogant and plainly disconnected from the audience. Their presentations are horrible.

The frustrating experiences are more than offset, however, by the excitement of seeing new, strong presenters speaking from real, ongoing experiences. These are always delightful, and a great reminder about effective presentations skills to try to develop for my own speaking engagements.

I saw one of the latter types of speakers recently: Amy Brusselback, a former P&G executive. She left the corporate world to start Design B&B. Amy’s speaking style was a great reminder of three aspirations any speaker should embrace: Be funny, self-deprecating, and quotable.

3-Magic-Keys

More than 127 Tips for Effective Presentation Skills

Thinking about lessons in effective presentation skills from sitting through both good and bad presenters prompted me to compile the varied Brainzooming content focused speakers. Along the way, there have also been plenty of tips for how conference organizers can facilitate speakers being better. There have also been some for how audience members can involve themselves in getting the most from conference presentations.

Effective Presentation Skills for Various Situations

Effective Presentation Skills – 8 Ways to Put More of You in Your Talks

Effective Presentation Skills – 16 Ideas to Immediately Engage an Audience

TED Talks – Six Ideas for Developing a First Time TEDx Talk

9 Things I Do Give a Damn ’bout with a Bad Presentation

9+ Tips for How Not to Use PowerPoint and Other Creative Presentation Ideas

Keynote Presenter Advice – Don’t Do These Things

Effective Presentation Skills – 6 Keys to Successful Last-Minute Changes

5 Things all Conference Presenters Must Stop Doing Right Away

Better Presentations with a Small Audience and a Big Room – 9 Success Tips

Pecha Kucha in Kansas City – 6 Reminders for Better Presentations

7 Steps to Be Ready to Present When Your PowerPoint Fails

Eight Tips for Making a Big Presentation Successful

Presentation Tips – 4 Ideas for Successful, Last-Minute Speeches

Great Presentation Content

Strategic Thinking Lessons – Why Recipes Are Better than Dinner Stories

Presentation Tips – 3 Reasons to Admit You Don’t Do Something Well

Presentation Tips – 5 Tips for Creating Photogenic Slides

16 Creative Ways to Supercharge Presentations

Creative Thinking – The 25 Stages in Creating a New Presentation

Create Lasting Memories in Online Events – 10 Ways to Do It

The Value in Presentations

Strategic Thinking Question – When Does Free Become Getting Paid?

Strategic Thinking for Your Career – What Free Speaking Engagements to Do?

Free Speech? Try a “Fair Trade” Speech Strategy Instead

How Organizers Can Help Speakers Be More Successful

5 Ways to Help a Speaker Deliver a Successful Presentation at Your Event

Event Strategy – 5 Ideas for Generating Applause When You Need It

The Audience Role in Presentations

Creative Ideas – A Memorable Way to Meet Conference Speakers

5 Strategic Thinking Questions for Integrated Listening

8 Warning Signs a Professional Development Conference Could Be a Stinker

Is a Smart Presenter Always Better?

Mike Brown

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Learn all about how Mike Brown’s workshops on creating strategic impact can boost your success!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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