Never again speechless – with the little book Impromptu Speaking made simple! (2nd edition)

Impromptu speaking made simple! (2nd edition)We have completely revised and expanded the Little Book of Speaking off the Cuff so that you will never be speechless again. Now the 2nd edition is ready. The new edition is called:

Impromptu speaking made simple!

A guide to speaking off the cuff.

So that you will never again be speechless when, for example, your boss asks you to say something in front of a group of people.

Or when you want to say something at a reception, birthday party oder wedding.

The 2nd, completely revised and expanded edition of the Little Book of Speaking off the Cuff. By Thomas Skipwith.

The book and e-book are available on Amazon.com (affiliate links).

P.S.: If you want to practice your presentation skills with a professional, sign up for one of my presentation skills courses.

Nebula tripod

Online presentations are here to stay. (Tips part 4)

Online meetings and online presentations are here to stay. With this in mind, I want to give you a another few tips on how to make your online presence better.

Look into the camera using a tripodNebula tripod

We’ve already talked about this: look into the camera or webcam during your online presentation. This is not always easy. Because when you show PowerPoint slides, the slides are usually either below or above the camera. I like the recommendation of Markus Hofmann (from unvergesslich.de): Put the camera in front of the screen. Then you can see your slides in the background – similar to a teleprompter. But even then, a conventional tripod obscures the view to a large extent. That’s why I bought the tripod from Nebula Capsule (affiliate link). This tripod is so slim that it lets me see much more of the slide behind it than a conventional tripod. This way I can keep eye contact with my virtual audience much easier.

Interaction with Mentimeter.com

Interaction keeps your audience engaged. There are many ways to keep your audience engaged. Here is a recommendation that has often been well received: Mentimeter.com. With Mentimeter.com, a query is presented in a particularly attractive visual way. It’s explained briefly in this YouTube video: https://youtu.be/Sd0fAenuAnw (duration: 1:30 min.).

Query with Google Forms

Do you want feedback from your participants? Then I recommend you to collect the feedback with Google Forms. The result will be shown to you free of charge as a summary or individually. Here is a short explanatory video: https://youtu.be/xEY10Ub-k-U (duration: 3:30 min.).

Summary

The right tripodmakes it especially easy to look into the camera, build in interactions e.g. with Mentimeter.com and collect feedback with Google Forms.

I wish you success for your online meetings, online presentations and video conferences. Keep at it!

 

Thomas Skipwith

P.S.: You can get better by attending one of our online or classroom trainings. More info.

P.P.S.: You can find more useful tips and tricks in the book “30 Minutes Online Meetings” (in German).

Online Meetings: This is how it is done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online meetings: Microphone

Online meetings and videoconferencing: How it works (Part 3)

Online meetings: MicrophoneThere are still too many bad online meetings and video conferences even after many months since the start of the Corona Crisis and correspondingly much practice with home offices. That’s why I’m also sharing more tips on how to make online meetings better in this post.
Imagine you are watching the news on TV. The daytime newsreader looks into the camera, comes into your living room razor sharp and the sound is flawless. That’s exactly what online meetings are all about. Consequently, three tips on how you too can look better during online meetings.

  1. Make sure the picture is in focus. Unfortunately, this is not possible with a cheap webcam, which has been installed in many laptops. That’s why I recommend an external webcam. A recommendable webcam is for example the Logitech C920. Even though it is currently (May 2020) not in stock in many places.
  2. The lighting is at least as important as the camera. Make sure the lighting comes from the front. There should be enough light, but not too much either. A no-go is the window behind you. This way you are (almost) black on a white background. Daylight is often difficult because it changes unexpectedly in many cases. Therefore, additional artificial lighting can be helpful. A colleague has shown that sometimes a simple reading lamp can be enough. If you like it more professional, light not only yourself, but also the green screen. This way you have a lighting that is almost studio quality.
  3. Sound is often underestimated. Same issue as with the cameras already built into laptops: the hardware, in this case the microphone, is not of particularly high quality. It is also worth buying an external microphone for the sound. There are several possibilities. You can take a podcaster mic. That’s certainly a good choice. In addition, there are headsets. With wireless headsets, however, you have to keep in mind that you will be exposed to the Bluetooth radiation of the headset for hours. I’ve already gotten an earache from it.

Whatever you do, make sure you get a good picture – also thanks to good lighting – and a good sound.

I wish you much success for your online meetings and video conferences. Keep at it and most importantly – keep being healthy!

 

Thomas Skipwith

P.S.: Check out the book “Online Meetings” by Thorsten Jekel and me. There you will find all the tips and tricks you need. If, in addition, you want to practice, here’s more info.

Thanks to the waiting room: Goodbye zoom bombing!

Zoom bombing: Never again! Video conferencing and online meeting tips (part 2)

Recently, some concerns have arisen about data security in virtual meetings. In particular, there was some media coverage of the so-called “zoom bombing.” Similar to party crashing, people have participated on Zoom who were not welcomed. These surprise guests have written inappropriate content and shared inappropriate images in the chat. Zoom, meanwhile, has done a lot to prevent that. However, the settings you make in Zoom remain decisive. If you chosse the right settings, you will no longer have problems with unwanted guests and content. In this post, I share the three most important settings.

  1. Thanks to the waiting room: Goodbye zoom bombing!Before participants are allowed to take part in the online meeting, they first step into the waiting room. From there, they are then let in by the host or co-host. Activate the waiting room via the browser: zoom.us -> Personal / Settings >In Meeting (extended) > Waiting room.
  2. Keep the invitation link secret. Share it only with those who are to participate in the online meeting. This will prevent unauthorized persons from entering the waiting room.
  3. Restrict participants from sharing their screen or content during the meeting unless they have your permission.

Enable this setting via the browser: zoom.us -> Personal / Settings -> In Meeting (Basics) -> Screen Transfer -> Host Only

I wish you much success for your future video conferences and online meetings – without zoom bombing. I’m sure they’ll be more frequent after Corona than in the past, too. More tips to follow. Stay tuned and stay healthy!

 

Thomas Skipwith

Check out the book “Online Meetings” by Thorsten Jekel and me. There you will find all the tips and tricks you need. If, in addition, you want to practice, here’s more info. There you will find all the tips and tricks you need. If, in addition, you want to practice, here’s more info.

Online meetings: present online

Video conferencing with Zoom: 3 tips (part 1)

Tons of employees are currently condemned to working from home. That’s why countless video conferences take place with Zoom or MS Teams – for business and pleasure. In my opinion, Zoom is often used, and rightly so. Because Zoom is easy to use and offers a very stable connection according to my own experience. I have participated in many video conferences with Zoom and found that it would be nice if participants took a few points to heart to make the virtual session more enjoyable. Because a video conference is also a presentation. Simply online instead of offline – with some peculiarities.

3 tips that will surely help you:

Virtual background

Video conferencing: without a virtual background you can see everything.

In Zoom (and since December 2020 also in MS Teams) you can define a virtual background. Thanks to the virtual background, you don’t need to clean up your office (see the picture above), nor do you need to see anyone scurrying around behind you.
There are 2 ways to activate the virtual background.
(a) Through the setting of the program or
(b) Start a Zoom Meeting.
– Move the mouse to the bottom of the window.
– The menu bar will appear.
– To the right of the button with the camera icon, click the small arrow.Video conference: activate Zoom virtual background
– Then you select the text “Choose a virtual background”. (See center image)
And ta-ta: you can choose a virtual background or upload it yourself.

You can even choose small videos as a virtual background. However, I am of the opinion that this is just a gimmick. As usual, nothing should detract from your presentation or contribution. A video does that. That’s why I leave it out.Online meetings: present online

Clothing

“Clothes make the man.” This saying is also valid for video conferencing. Therefore, also look professional during online meetings. A baggy sweater probably doesn’t make a very good impression on your customers either. And by the way, there are people who feel better when well dressed. If you feel the same way, you have a second reason to dress well.

Eye contact

Finally, the most important tip for today: Look into the camera. The camera is your audience! The participants at the other end are (hopefully) looking into their camera. Only when you speak to the camera do you make eye contact with them. At the beginning it is difficult and unusual to talk only to the camera. But again, practice makes perfect.

I wish you much success for your future video conferences and online meetings. I’m sure we’ll be communicating online via video conferencing more and more in the future. More tips to follow.

Stay tuned and stay healthy!

 

Thomas Skipwith

P.S.: You can find all the tips and tricks you need for online meetings in the book “Online-Meetings” by Thorsten Jekel and Thomas Skipwith.

The pause is an important rhetorical device.

The pause: one of the most powerful secrets of presentation skills

Not optimal: the Shinkansen

Most of us have also experienced it: The person presenting speaks so fast that no one can follow him. I call it the Shinkansen. He rides so fast from A to B that he doesn’t take time to stop anywhere. Even at the few stations where it stops, it continues right away. After half an hour at top speed, I am completely exhausted. And so did the rest of the audience. Where might that come from?

Probably it comes from the fact that the speaker has not prepared well enough. He realizes after three quarters of the time that he has only shown the second of 10 slides. That’s when he thinks to himself, “Oh, I want to tell and show the rest, so I’ll just step on the gas more.” And with that, from now on, he talks twice as fast as before and looses everyone in the audience. Not good.

The break

The pause is an important rhetorical device.One of the most powerful secrets of rhetoric is the pause. It is completely underestimated. Wrong. The pause allows the audience to think about what the speaker has just said. It is particularly suitable at the moment when he said something important. In my rhetoric trainings I show this very impressively using the example of Martin Luther King and his speech “I have a dream“. Especially at the beginning he uses a lot of pauses.

Especially if you are one of those who speak very quickly, the pause is particularly suitable.

No fear of the break

Some are afraid of the break. That’s why they either don’t make them at all, or they fill them with a filler – usually an uh.

Zitat Skipwith Pause

There are rhetoric writers who say a pause may be up to seven seconds long. For the speaker, this may seem like an eternity – but the audience doesn’t notice. Let it be half of seven seconds. Then it is not a problem in any case. On the contrary.

 

It gives the audience the opportunity to think along.

The exercise

When you rehearse your next presentation, it’s wonderful to practice taking breaks. Count to 3 after each paragraph, preferably with your fingers. This way you’re sure to have a long enough break, too. In the live presentation, you will then probably pause for at least a second.

 

If you follow this tip, you will get more out of your presentations. I wish you much success in this.

 

P.S.: If you want feedback from a professional (again), sign up for one of my presentation skills trainings.

An angry speech by Christian Lindner

Convince your audience and enthrall them: not everyone can do that. Managers in particular should possess the communication skills that captivate the audience and, above all, convince them of their what they say. In the following recording, German FDP party leader Christian Lindner demonstrates how rhetorical elements can be used.

Visibly irritated by the interjection of a colleague from the SPD, Lindner reacts energetically. He takes up the words of the one who interrupted him once again, speaks to him, but also to his party colleague, the prime minister, directly, repeats many statements, leaves nothing unheard, takes breaks so that the listeners can digest what has been said. His arguments are particularly convincing when he adds gestures to them. From minute 1:40, for example, he lifts his right arm continuously and indicates the beat with his arm. A fascinating reinforcement of his statement.

“There you have one.” and “I’ll tell you one more thing”: sentences he repeats three times to score again at the end. Definitely a speech to learn from.

You can also use the described techniques. Why not for your next presentation?

  1. Talk to energy.
  2. Repeat sentences which are threatening to go down in applause or noise or which are particularly important to you. This can also be a useful technique at the beginning of a presentation, when some people in the audience are still talking to each other.
  3. Refer to contents that has been mentioned before.
  4. Give the beat with your arm for important statements.

Click here for Christian Lindner’s video. The video takes only 2:45 minutes. Take a look at it. It’s worth it.

“How do I tell my child?”

“How do I explain it to my child?” This is a challenge not only for my own children, but often also for adults. If you sometimes feel the same way, I recommend the following short video. It draws attention to the topic of data security. Probably a subject that seems to be very boring. In my opinion, however, Stiftung Warentest has prepared it so well that it gets the message across immediately.

In the video we see a daily situation in the bakery. Customers buy baked goods. The salesgirl asks extraordinary questions. The customers are irritated – and rightly so, in my opinion. Thanks to the change of the frame (re-framing)  our eyes are opened: without much thought we give our data to an an app (and online websites), which we would never do in the real world.

I think the video is good for many reasons. In my opinion, particularly from the following three:

  1. Title:”If the saleswoman was an app. (Hidden Camera)”
  2. First comes the teaser, then the solution.
  3. We connect to a situation that we are familiar with: purchasing in the bakery.

Firstly, the title arouses curiosity. The hypothetical idea that a salesgirl could be an app makes you curious. This is topped with the two words in the parenthesis: “hidden camera”. Anyone who has ever seen a program with a hidden camera will be fascinated once and for all.

The second reason: only at second 57 and 1 minute 23 do the key points come into play: the core question “Would you agree with it in the real world?” and the core statement “Facebook etc….. have access to your contacts, your calendar, SMS, photos and GPS.” This revelation comes almost to the end. With good reason. If the key question and the key message were to come right at the beginning, the video would be much more boring. A good introduction to a presentation should be the same way.

The third point shows that the more familiar a situation is, the better the analogy works. Because it is usually easy for us to draw conclusions from one familiar situation to another. In this case, the analogy of buying in the real world makes it very clear how differently, or rather absurdly, we behave in the virtual world.

You too can use the described techniques. Why not in your next presentation? Then your kids will understand.

Click here for the video of Stiftung Warentest. The video takes only 2 minutes. Take a look at it. It’s worth it.

The Analogy: a particularly strong rhetorical device

The analogy is a particularly powerful rhetorical tool. It often allows you to present a situation much more clearly than when you speak directly about it. It sometimes takes a little effort to find a good analogy. But if you take your time, you often have an advantage. Here is an example.

Imagine: You go to the doctor, no, better, you go to 100 doctors and 99 of them diagnose “diabetes”. 99 doctors tell you that you have diabetes and should therefore not eat bacon or donuts. Then what do they say? They say,”This is a conspiracy! 99 doctors have sat down with Obama and want to keep me from eating bacon and donuts!”[Break] You’d never say that! That’s exactly how it is with climate change …”

The words come from the former US President, Barack Obama, who in his speech criticized the position of some Republicans on climate change and the Treaty of Paris. The analogy is convincing and presented with humor. You have to look at it in the original.

Click here for the video. (It takes less than 2 minutes.)

As always: Practice makes perfect. Only if you take the trouble to implement the tips, you have the chance to make a good speech.

If you like the tip, why not share it in the social media such as Facebook, XING and others?

Gunter Pauli

Move your listeners, if necessary right at the beginning of your presentation

The number one rule of public speaking is,”Don’t bore your audience.” Because that many times leads to the audience falling asleep.

Some situations are easier than others to keep the listeners awake. Especially with rising temperatures – at the moment it’s about 30 degrees Celsius in my office – and with meetings that feel as long as a marathon it can be very difficult to keep the listeners and participants attention. Karem Albash, a colleague from the GSA, has brought to my attention a video on YouTube, in which this problem is masterfully solved. It is a video excerpt from the Entrepreneurship Summit 2014 in Berlin. Even if this occasion is a while back, I think everyone can learn something from it.

In the video we see Gunter Pauli, entrepreneur and designer and co-founder of The Blue Economy. He’s one of many speakers. What does Gunter Pauli do to wake up the audience?

  1. Gunter Pauli is in a good mood.
  2. He’s brimming with energy.
  3. He sets the audience in motion.

In particular, I think the third point is worth mentioning. Even though the first two points are a prerequisite for the third point to be successful. Namely: He makes the audience get up. At first glance, he doesn’t seem to be able to do it with all spectators. But he doesn’t give up: He insists. The audience seems to follow him. Especially as he has to ask the audience to sit down again at a later date. Acoustically, we hear that the audience has fun to participate. Yes, often this is the case: the audience wants to have fun or at least be entertained. Don’t be boring. As mentioned at the beginning, this is the highest rule of public speaking.

In addition, the third point is interesting because it helps the audience to take a different viewpoint. This contributes to the audience’s willingness to take new ways of thinking.

Why not also invite your audience to stand up, stretch out and move in a meeting or conference?

Click here for the video of and with Gunter Pauli

The sequence takes only 40 seconds (00:07 – 00:47). Look at it.

As always: Practice makes perfect. Only if you take the trouble to implement the tips, you have the chance to make a good speech.

If you like the tip, why not share it in the social media such as Facebook, XING and others?