DeFinis Communications

How to Recover When Your Virtual Presentation Goes Off Track

DeFinis Communications

It happens to even the best of us: You’re leading a virtual presentation and you see signs that things aren’t going well. People are visibly distracted. They’re looking at their cell phones; they’re muted and having a side conversation; some are even turning off their camera completely.

2020 130

How Stories Can Help Your Virtual Presentation Come Alive!

DeFinis Communications

When leading a virtual presentation, many speakers find it difficult to hold people’s attention. Keeping an audience engaged on a screen, when your listeners have many other things around them competing for their attention, is definitely a challenge.

2020 130

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Speak Up! 3 Powerful Voice Tips to Become an Influential Virtual Speaker

DeFinis Communications

When you’re giving a virtual presentation, your voice plays a crucial role in your success. In fact, I’d say that of all the presentation skills vital for influencing others on Zoom (and other online meeting platforms), your voice plays the most essential role. Think about it … in the online environment, you’re always going to be a flat 2D image to your audience. And no matter how you try to improve the quality and impact of your visual image, you will still be flat.

2020 100

Make Them Laugh: How to Tell a Joke on Zoom

DeFinis Communications

From the old knock-knock jokes we used to tell as kids to stories that make light of the workplace, everyone loves a good joke. Using humor is one of the best ways to get people engaged. And when you add a friendly, “jokey” tone you let listeners know your presentation won’t be one huge bore. But even if you’re a natural joke teller and known as the office comedian, it can be a challenge to make a joke come alive on Zoom. First, your audience is often muted, especially if there is a large group.

2020 100

Commit to Continuous Learning and Up Your Game at Any Age

DeFinis Communications

Recently I attended a Zoom birthday party for the 99-year-old father of a dear friend. Everyone in attendance—three generations of his family members—were in their own homes. Doug and his wife (also in her 90s) were totally unassisted by the younger crowd yet were using Zoom like pros. I learned that they also email and text family and friends regularly, and use all the latest technology. What struck me most while on the call was the ease with which this couple was communicating on Zoom.

2020 100

Less is More! How Working Mothers Can Reduce the Stress of Online Meetings

DeFinis Communications

Leading a virtual presentation from the quiet of your kitchen table is challenging enough. Add in the stressors of a crying toddler in the background, the dog barking at the delivery driver, the lawn service company mowing the yard outside your window, and your oldest child continually asking, “Mom, can I have a snack?” and it’s easy to see why so many parents—particularly mothers—are having a hard time embodying professionalism in the age of COVID.

2020 100

Less is More! How Working Mothers Can Reduce the Stress of Online Meetings

DeFinis Communications

Leading a virtual presentation from the quiet of your kitchen table is challenging enough. Add in the stressors of a crying toddler in the background, the dog barking at the delivery driver, the lawn service company mowing the yard outside your window, and your oldest child continually asking, “Mom, can I have a snack?” and it’s easy to see why so many parents—particularly mothers—are having a hard time embodying professionalism in the age of COVID.

2020 100

The Final Word on the Final Thought: End Your Virtual Meeting Successfully

DeFinis Communications

Over the past several months, many people have asked me if the formalities of standard speech preparation apply to the more casual virtual presentations taking place today. Since most people are working from home now in a less-than-formal setting, is it still important to maintain tried and true presentation principles, such as ending your presentation with a final thought? My answer is always yes.

2020 100

Working with Co-Presenters: How to Organize a Team Presentation

DeFinis Communications

If you’ve ever had to co-lead a virtual meeting, you know the challenges inherent in online team communication. First, it can be complicated simply deciding which topic or aspect of the presentation each presenter will address. Once that decision is made, each person typically goes off into their own silo and works to develop their specific topic with their own unique style and approach.

2020 100

The Power of Inquiry: How to Ask Engaging Questions

DeFinis Communications

When presenting to a virtual audience, it’s easy to lose people’s attention and feel the energy plummet. In fact, “the distraction factor” is one of the most important differences between speaking to a live audience versus a virtual audience. In simplest terms, your virtual audience is more prone to distraction. Think about it from your listeners’ perspective. They’re sitting alone in a room staring at a screen. Or, even worse, maybe they’re not alone.

2020 100

Connect with Your Virtual Audience – Use Compelling Touch Points

DeFinis Communications

Giving a great virtual presentation is all about connecting with your audience, right? But as you may have already realized, building connection through a device screen isn’t that easy. Even if you have an important and exciting message to deliver, if your listeners don’t feel personally connected to you and your ideas, your online presentation may fall flat. One way to increase engagement and connect with your virtual audience is to craft compelling touch points into every presentation.

2020 100

Lights, Camera, Action! Presentation Skills for Virtual Delivery

DeFinis Communications

On the surface, acting in a blockbuster movie and delivering a virtual presentation may appear to having nothing in common, aside from the fact that they both use a “screen” as their modus operandi. But a closer look reveals striking similarities between the two. Think about it: They both share common goals, namely to entertain, to educate, to build awareness, to influence, and to persuade. They both are about performance. And they both require a lot of planning to be successful!

2020 100

Get Energized! 5 Tips to Create Energy in Your Virtual Presentations

DeFinis Communications

This morning I was speaking to a client who has worked remotely for many years. He told me he was comfortable giving presentations virtually in the past because prior to the stay-at-home orders he travelled 50-60% of the time, meeting customers face-to-face, cultivating relationships and delivering important customer product demonstrations. He enjoyed a nice balance between giving virtual and live presentations and effortlessly toggled between the two.

2020 100

Be a Powerful Presenter … Even “On the Fly”

DeFinis Communications

We all know that when it comes to public speaking, “practice makes perfect.” So if you want to bring the house down, you have to prepare your script or outline in advance and practice your delivery by rehearsing out loud. Only then can you rest assured that you’ll give a great speech.

2014 215

Boost Your Public Speaking Skills by “Sounding” Confident!

DeFinis Communications

If you’re feeling nervous about giving an upcoming presentation, use your voice to your advantage. In other words, as you speak, make your voice sound like you are enjoying yourself even if you’re under stress. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But the sound of your voice will convey confidence so that even if you are nervous you won’t sound nervous. A recent study looking at “vocal emotion” showed that a person’s voice carries a great deal of emotional information.

2017 130

Top Tech Tools to Build Audience Engagement

DeFinis Communications

Imagine knowing your audience members’ questions while you’re speaking and being able to address them on the spot, before the Q&A. Imagine getting a better “read” on what your listeners are thinking or understanding about your topic and not having to solely rely on their non-verbal cues, which may not always be accurate. Imagine having an audience truly engaged from your first word to your last, because you know without a doubt that you’re delivering the information they find most useful.

2014 197

When Giving a Speech, It’s All About You!

DeFinis Communications

A client suffering from a mild case of public speaking anxiety recently told me, “When I’m giving a presentation, I’m too concerned about what people think of me to act like ‘the leader.’ I don’t want to stand out or project the notion that I’m better than or more knowledgeable than other people in the room. I guess I just don’t want people to think it’s all about me.”.

2014 180

7 Deadly Sins of Presentation Preparation

DeFinis Communications

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the center seat of a packed auditorium—hemmed in on both sides by people and laptops—listening to a keynote speaker who is supposed to be imparting knowledge and wisdom, but instead is droning on and on? You want to run, but you can’t. So you endure what seems like torture. You probably think this only happens in large university lecture halls, right? Not so.

2014 183

Public Speaking Best Practices from My Clients

DeFinis Communications

This is the time of year when I check-in with my past Executive Immersion clients to see how things are going with their presentation skills—what’s working and what still needs attention. I had several interesting calls this week which revealed tips to fit nicely into a “Best Practice” list. When I call people, I usually get the same response, “Thanks for reaching out. It’s nice to hear from you,” meaning, “[Gulp!] I better give a few great presentations before I speak to Angela next week!”

Speaker Beware! Is Your Audience Saying “Boo!” or “Oooh”?

DeFinis Communications

When you deliver a presentation on Halloween or any other day of the year, your audience expects to be treated to a stimulating, thoughtfully designed, and well developed speech. But too many speakers inadvertently play a trick instead by using poor language skills that distract the audience, weaken the message, and leave listeners wanting to shout “Boo!” That’s why it’s important to beware of your language.

2013 186

5 Ways to Keep Your Sales Team Focused on Improving their Presentation Skills

DeFinis Communications

Last week I received a call from a sales manager whose team we worked with last year. He wanted a presentation skills “refresher” for his salespeople because their presentations were getting “sloppy” again. These were the same salespeople who did extremely well during our training class one year ago, but over the months they had gradually slid back into old habits. Granted, they were still “pretty good” in terms of their skills. But the manager wanted them to be great again.

2014 172

How to Avoid These 6 Public Speaking Disasters

DeFinis Communications

Public speakers are everywhere, and no matter how hard I try to take time off from my focus on presentations skills, some of the topics I’m most interested in are often served up through this medium. So even when I’m on vacation I’m watching and listening to presentations. This summer was no exception. At the top of my personal interest list these days is the health of our oceans. While on vacation near the Atlantic Ocean my husband and I sought out forums and lectures focusing on this topic.

2013 188

A List of the “Best of the Best” in Public Speaking Information

DeFinis Communications

In many career paths (business, media, PR, etc,), public speaking skills are essential. Whether giving a presentation to your boss, a group of your peers, or simply interviewing, knowing how to express yourself and your ideas clearly is critical. The good news is that there are an incredible number of online resources that can help you sharpen your skills. The bad news?

2013 186

Can Exercise Make You a Better Public Speaker?

DeFinis Communications

Most people know that exercise is good for you, both physically and mentally. Physical activity can be a great stress reliever too. However, when it comes to bulking up the brain, not all exercise is created equal. A new study examined three different types of exercise, running, weight training, and high-intensity interval training, to see which of the three created the most positive impact on brain cell growth.

2017 109

Remembering John F. Kennedy – Speaking Lessons from a Heroic Orator

DeFinis Communications

When asked to describe John F. Kennedy, many people mention the phrase “great speaker.” It’s true. Watch any of his speeches and you’ll see someone who looks natural and elegant in front of a crowd. He had a cunning wit and easy charm. He was articulate, intelligent, direct, and inspiring. Most of all, he looked comfortable. But comfortable he was not.

Orator 176

Oprah’s Farewell: The Final Ovation for One of the World’s Most Influential Public Speakers

DeFinis Communications

Wednesday for Women Celebrates Oprah! Oprah’s legend is…well…legendary. For 25 years, she has been the foundation of daytime TV for millions of people all over the world. And throughout it all, her presence and messages have been uplifting, inspiring and revitalizing.

2011 238

Use the Power of Practice to Build Your Speaking Skills

DeFinis Communications

The psychologist and philosopher William James famously wrote: “99% of our activity is purely automatic; all of our life is nothing but a mass of habits.” After reading the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (which I first wrote about here ), it is clear that habits define virtually every aspect of our lives, from how much we eat, save, or spend to how we work, communicate, and interact with others. One interesting example in Duhigg’s book focuses on Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.

4 Traits that Distinguish Confident Speakers from Nervous Nellies

DeFinis Communications

Back in 1990, Ron Hoff wrote a popular book about public speaking entitled I Can See You Naked. The idea was that if a speaker looked out at the audience and imagined everyone sitting in their birthday suits, he would take a scary crowd and turn it into a docile nudist colony, thus defusing their power to intimidate. For many people, that kind of visualization worked wonders in building confidence. But for the Nervous Nellies among us, it actually backfired. For them, the image is reversed.

2013 186

Use the Pareto Principle for More Powerful Presentations

DeFinis Communications

The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, helps explain the power of simplicity. The 80/20 Rule is pervasive in our world. For example: 80% of traffic jams occur on the 20% of roads. 80% of beer is consumed by 20% of drinkers. 80% of profits come from 20% of customers.

2011 239

Good Habits Make Good Speakers

DeFinis Communications

During a recent executive speech coaching session I was working with a client and having him repeat a single line from his speech over and over. I wanted him to develop the habit of saying a key phrase a certain way so he would get a particular response from his listeners. When we took a break from the practice, he asked me, “Have you read the book The Power of Habit ?” I hadn’t, and he told me to check it out because it was relevant to our work. I’m glad I took his advice.

2013 184

The Secret to Being a Great Presenter: Continuous Learning

DeFinis Communications

Continuous learning is a key indicator of success. That’s because learning, at any stage of your career, means growth. New skills, new behaviors, and new knowledge translate into new opportunities. Achievement oriented people love and embrace this type of challenge. I’ve found that people seek continuous learning for various reasons. Sometimes it’s simply for the joy of learning.

2012 190

Wisdom for Speakers to Jumpstart Your New Year

DeFinis Communications

“Improve my presentation skills” is a common New Year’s resolution. Finding the perfect example to follow on how to do that i s a b it ra re … that is, until you meet Jack Kornfield. Jack Kornfield is one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America. I saw him speak a few days ago during the Monday Night Class at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Wood Acre, California, just a short drive from where I live.

2014 164

Listening: A Core Communication Skill

DeFinis Communications

I’ve been working with two different clients lately, of two different genders, in two different companies, from two different states who have two entirely different approaches to listening. One client actually listens too intently, and the other doesn’t seem to be listening at all.

2011 227

Be a Powerful Presenter … Even “On the Fly”

DeFinis Communications

We all know that when it comes to public speaking, “practice makes perfect.” So if you want to bring the house down, you have to prepare your script or outline in advance and practice your delivery by rehearsing out loud. Only then can you rest assured that you’ll give a great speech.

2014 158

Your Dog, The Speech Coach

DeFinis Communications

Whether or not dogs are man’s (and woman’s’) best friend they have certainly risen on the popularity scale recently. You see dogs everywhere you go from city streets, to office cubicles to airplanes not to mention dog parks and front yards. They are good companions and playmates and in some cases excellent emotional and physical support animals. But did you know that dogs can also be a great audience for your presentation rehearsal?

2017 100

Speaking With Conviction…Over the Phone

DeFinis Communications

I have been working with a recent college graduate who is seeking an entry level job in sales and he is finding that many of the positions available are cold calling, telemarketing positions.

2011 223

To be a Better Presenter, Become a “Consumer of Speaking”

DeFinis Communications

The first step to becoming a better public speaker is learning to develop your observational skills. The power of observational learning is well documented by psychologist Albert Bandura , who implemented some of the seminal studies in the area and initiated social learning theory. Just as the name implies, observational learning involves the process of learning to copy or model an action or behavior simply by watching someone else do it.

2012 197

Clean Up Your Presentation – There’s an App for That!

DeFinis Communications

Use your smartphone to improve your public speaking skills. Most business professionals have some brand of smartphone by now. And every day we can learn new ways to use them to increase productivity. But did you know your smartphone can also help you improve your public speaking skills? It’s true! For example, the app “Ummo” can quickly become your favorite tool for presentation practice and improvement.

2017 100

Prepare Your Speaker’s Toolbox

DeFinis Communications

By now, we all know that practicing your presentation and working on key public speaking skills will make you a better presenter. But practice and skill aside, there are other, more tangible, things that will help you excel at business presentations. I call these things your “toolbox essentials.”. Just as you prepare for your job by making sure you have key supplies on hand, when you’re taking on the role of “presenter,” you must prepare by making sure your speaker’s toolbox is stocked.

Perfecting the Intangibles of Public Speaking

DeFinis Communications

I regularly write about the tangible aspects of public speaking (the concrete presentation skills), such as gestures, movement, language, and visual aids. But often, being a great presenter has a lot to do with that “certain something” the person possesses. Some people call it charm, energy, self-assurance, or charisma. Whatever you call it, it’s these intangible qualities that attract us to others.

2012 192

Rate Your Public Speaking Comfort Level

DeFinis Communications

When it comes to nervousness in front of a group, I have noticed people generally fall into one of four categories, which I describe as the following four levels. These levels are an indicator of what I call a speaker’s “capacity for comfort” in front of a group. Which one best describes you? Level 1: Pressured and Petrified: People in this category display the greatest signs of nervousness—visible blushing, perspiration, quivering voice, or shaking hands.

2013 172

Let Your Public Speaking Skills Age Like Fine Wine

DeFinis Communications

Imagine having the opportunity to write a speech about a topic you know and love and deliver it nine times in the course of a day to a rapt audience, gaining new supporters and perfecting your delivery each time. That’s precisely the opportunity afforded to my client David Amadia, VP of Sales for Ridge Vineyards, when he attended the Vancouver International Wine Festival last month and participated in their “Meet Your Match” event. Meet Your Match” is the wine education version of speed dating.

2013 171

7 Deadly Sins of Presentation Preparation

DeFinis Communications

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the center seat of a packed auditorium—hemmed in on both sides by people and laptops—listening to a keynote speaker who is supposed to be imparting knowledge and wisdom, but instead is droning on and on? You want to run, but you can’t. So you endure what seems like torture. You probably think this only happens in large university lecture halls, right? Not so.

2015 130