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.

Free images from the Internet – Caution: warning letter!

Free pictures

Whether I like it or not, there are law firms who earn their money with warning letters. I personally experienced this years ago in connection with my e-mail distribution list. Hence, warning letters are a serious topic not only since the GDPR has been introduced. What happened? One of my e-mail recipients did not simply unsubscribe from my mailing list (which, by the way, is always possible with a click at the end of my e-mails), but sent me a warning letter instead. The entire matter, including lawyer’s fees and fees for the warning cost me over USD 1’000.-. If I’m not careful, this can similarly happen to me with pictures and especially cartoons for example, which I occassionally use in my presentations. So here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from warning letters about copyrighted material especially images.

Images are protected by copyright

Basically, all pictures (and all other content) are protected by copyright. Fortunately, there are also several pictures that can be used free of charge and royalty free in your presentations. The magic keywords are “free” and ” royalty free”.

For the complaints not to turn out too harsh, I have collected 10 (not conclusive) tips for a successful 1st of August speech.

Royalty free and freeFree pictures are sometimes not 100% free.

Royalty free is not the same as free. Royalty-free only means that you don’t have to pay for recurring royalties. So it is quite possible that you pay a one-time royalty for an image, but never again afterwards, because the licensor grants you a license for an unlimited period of time. This is common on sites such as www.getty-images.com, www.istockphoto.com and www.fotolia.de.

If you don’t want to pay for an image, you should make sure that it is both royalty-free and free. In technical jargon, royalty free is also equated with the abbreviation CC0. CC0 stands for “Creative Commons” and means that it is material to which no right at all exists or is claimed and can therefore be used for everything. There are numerous image databases that offer their images under the CC0 license. Good examples are: www.pixabay.com, www.unsplash.com and www.pexels.com. It is best to briefly read the terms and conditions of each page.

Image search with Google

Google has a powerful image search function. As soon as you switch to Google, the image search is currently in the upper right corner (see screenshot: Bilder = images).

Via the search field you can now search for any pictures. Enter a search term and press Enter. Now you will see the search results. Here’s the clue: Directly below the search field a menu bar with the word “Tools” will appear. If you click on it, a “Usage rights” (see screenshot: Nutzungsrechte = Usage rights) submenu is displayed (and only then). Select the option “Labeled for reuse”.

Image search with rights of use

This keeps you on the safe side of any copyright infringements.

Why pay for images?

You might ask why someone should pay for an image when both royalty-free and free images are available. The answer is simple: The paid pictures are often better, especially if you want people in the picture. Furthermore, it is much more likely that your image has not already been used uncountable times by others. For example, for the book “To catch fish, use the right bait. Scroing a s a speaker with Power Presentations” we did buy some pictures.

Citation / attribution

Even if the picture is free of charge, copyright law stipulates that the source (the author) hast to be mentioned, i.e. you have to mention the photographer’s name. From the photographer’s point of view, this is quite understandable: he wants to be named and may receive an order in this way (for other, chargeable pictures). Exceptions: On Pixabay (www.pixabay.com), for example, it says that most images do not require image attribution.

By the way, copyright law in Germany says that the photographer’s name must be mentioned right next to the picture.

 

If you stick to these tips, you will be happy to show pictures during your presentations and will be free of warning letters along the way. I wish you success.

 

If you like this blog post, please feel free sharing it in social media like Facebook, XING and Co.

1st of August Speech: 10 Tips to succeed

1st of August speech: 10 tipsSoon the time will come again: all over Switzerland countless speakers will give a speech because of the 1st of August. The 1st of August is the Swiss national holiday. Hence there is the tradition of giving a 1st of August speech. I feel this is a worthwhile tradition, because giving a speech is always an opportunity to share a message. When else can you share your thoughts (more or less) undisturbed with a larger crowd?!

Nevertheless, it is clear to most people: you can’t please everyone. Matthias Aebischer, Swiss journalist, presenter and politician, put it beautifully in one of his speeches: “A 1st of August speech that is not criticized afterwards is like a meal in the canteen that you can’t complain about”.

For the complaints not to turn out too harsh, I have collected 10 (not conclusive) tips for a successful 1st of August speech.

Tip 1: Preparation is half the battle.

1st of August speakers are usually asked a long time in advance to speak. If you are the lucky one, do a small written brainstorming and complete the initial ideas from the brainstorming over time. Subsequently you will no longer be starring at a white sheet of paper on July 31.

Tip 2: Anyone who cannot hear you becomes a disturbing factor.

I have often experienced that the organizer skimped on the sound system or didn’t have one at all. Unfortunately I therefore could hardly hear the speaker. It only takes a few audience members to start whispering to each other and you then don’t hear anything anymore. Therefore, make sure that the audience can hear you. With more than 40 listeners I recommend you use a microphone. Preferably a lapel microphone or a headset.

Tip 3: The beginning should make them want more.

Start in such a way that the audience will pay attention to you right from the start. This can be achieved, for example, during the greeting. Instead of  a plain “Dear ladies and gentlemen”, start with a personal anecdote. Then only greet the audience.

Tip 4: Choose the content so that it suits you, the occasion and the audience.

Why not talk about Switzerland? After all, it’s Switzerland’s birthday. As Switzerland is very diverse, you can really choose any topic. Nevertheless, make sure you are clear about your main message. A possible formula for the content is: a personal anecdote, the story of someone else and what you have learned from it. Especially with the personal anecdote you make your speech memorable.

Tip 5: The end is the icing on the cake.

Prepare a crisp ending. “Thank you for your attention.” is not one of them. Instead, you can summarize, relate to the beginning and/or make a call to action. The brave ones bring a suitable joke at the end. It is best to practice the last sentence several times out loud beforehand.

Tip 6: You need a clear goal in mind.

Decide on a clear main message. You are welcome to repeat the main message several times. Your main message could refer to a virtue, e.g. courage, punctuality, reliability, love, perseverance. How about “The world belongs to the brave”, “Steady wins the race” or “I am proud of Switzerland”?

Tip 7: Variety makes life sweet.

A speech that’s serious as hell won’t knock anybody off their pedestal. Switch between seriousness and lightness. If you manage to get your audience to laugh, then that’s a bonus. In addition, it is worth researching what others have already said many times before. You can do without it or on the contrary: It is so important to you that you also want to repeat it.

Tip 8: Speak so that you are understood.

Analyze the audience. Then decide whether you will give the speech in Swiss German or High German (or any other language). If you choose a language that is not your mother tongue, you should practice your speech particularly often. For example, most Swiss-German speakers find it more difficult to speak High German than Swiss-German.

Tip 9: Keep it simple, stupid.

Mark Twain said: “A good speech has a good beginning and a good end – and both should be as close together as possible.” Ask the organizer how much time you have. Many times you will get 10 – 15 minutes. If you are writing a manuscript, you know how many words it should contain. Namely: If you speak at a speed of 100 words per minute, your manuscript will contain 1’000 – 1’500 words.

Tip 10: Tell them who you are.

The audience is curious. They want to know who’s talking to them. Tell them. However, I recommend you spice it up.  Don’t just enumerate what you have done in the past, but use a story to talk about yourself. For example, I could tell you how I can still remember how I grew up in Lucerne next to the Museum of Transport and what I experienced in the course of it all. Thus, the listeners casually learn who I am.

If you stick to these tips, you are already one big step closer to a 1st of August speech that will be positively remembered. I wish you every success.

If you like the blog article, share it in social media like Facebook, XING and Co.

When does a presentation start?

Start of a race as an analogy for the start of a presentationMany think a presentation starts with the first word. That is a good idea, but it is wrong. Above all, the presentation start is at the latest when attention is drawn to the speaker. Usually this is the point in time at which the speaker moves significantly. That means, as soon as the speaker gets up from his chair, all pairs of eyes are on him/her.

Recently I heard an interview by Brian Walter with Connie Podesta in the podcast “Voices of Experience” of the National Speakers Association NSA. Connie (www.conniepodesta.com) makes the point that the presentation starts much earlier. She is of the opinion that the presentation does not start on stage, but when the first contact with the potential customer takes place, that is to say many times on the phone.

What does she mean?

Before she even makes a phone call to the potential customer, she researches the customer. She is looking for a story with which she can create a good connection to the event organizer. She mentions two examples.

Example 1: Conny told the event organizer of McDonalds her personal story with McDonalds. She grew up in the same city where McDonalds opened its first store. Her father often surprised her and the family with a white bag of McDonalds. Even today she loves to go to McDonalds at the airport to drink a vanilla latte.

Example 2: When she phoned Walmart’s event organizer, she shared her father’s story. Example 2: When she phoned Walmart’s event organizer, she shared her father’s story. “My father has always been a Walmart fan and was always most happy to receive a Walmart voucher from me at Christmas. After he died, I found a valid voucher in my father’s jacket pocket. I thought a lot about what to buy with it. Finally I bought a picture frame from Walmart for a picture of me with my Dad. The picture and the frame are here in front of me on my desk.”

By the way, both times Connie was asked to tell the respective story during her key note performance.Thomas Skipwith is interviewed by Bruno Erni.

What can you take away from this for your own presentations?

  1. The presentation does not start on stage, but long before.
  2. The telephone conversation is like a short demo presentation. You show how well you understand the customer. The customer hears whether he feels comfortable with your style.
  3. You can use the story, if you are booked, for your appearance with the customer on stage.

Listen to the podcast here: www.thomas-skipwith.com/podcasts. (Bonus: You will here many more useful tips during the interview between Bruno Erni and myself.)

If you want to hear the original of Connie Podesta’s contribution in English, the best way is to download the Speakernomics app (formerly VoE) and listen to the April 2018 edition of “Voices of Experience”.

If you like this post, please share it on social media like Facebook, XING and Co.

PowerPoint or Prezi: Which is better?

I am often asked if I like PowerPoint or Prezi better. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to this question. In a typical consultant manner I answer: “It depends.” It is not clear which software is better, because both have their advantages.

Is PowerPoint better?

PowerPoint or PreziPowerPoint is probably known to all readers of this training newsletter. Who presents without PowerPoint? Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to think about what PowerPoint is all about.

  • The software follows the same logic as the other Microsoft programs Word and Excel. Many people find it correspondingly easy to operate.
  • You write and draw page by page (slide by slide) – similar to a book.
  • It is the de facto standard in the business world. Virtually all laptops have the software installed and you will have little trouble with it at conferences.
  • The software is installed locally on the laptop/computer. You don’t need an internet connection to hold your presentation (unlike Prezi).
  • PowerPoint for Windows goes well with most projectors. (The PowerPoint version for Mac should be used with caution. Also, the Mac version has less features.)
  • https://products.office.com/de-ch/powerpoint

Or is Prezi better?

PowerPoint or PreziPrezi’s logic follows a different pattern. It was developed by architect Adam Somlia-Fischer, who wanted to show his audience both an overview and details on a map – without losing the overview. Following this logic, you will not find individual pages in Prezi as in PowerPoint, but a single, infinitely large area. You can zoom in and out on it. This way you can see the overview and details on a map as you like – similar to zooming in and out on Google Maps.

  • Prezi is designed as a cloud-based application so that it can be accessed from anywhere and the files can be easily shared. Accordingly, a functioning internet connection is required. (However, there is a downloadable version for an additional charge. This can alleviate problems in hotels with poor internet connections.)
  • It is ideal for explaining a city map to tourists or presenting a floor plan of a production line, for example.
  • Prezi fulfills the criterion to do something different than everyone else. In this respect it can be a good change and thus increase the attention of the audience.
  • If all other speakers use PowerPoint at a conference and you present with Prezi, you will have to overcome additional technical hurdles.
  • It is difficult to produce participant documents. Usually it means an extra effort.
  • If you use Prezi badly, you can cause nausea among your audience. (In the past I already had the feeling that I was on a roller coaster.)
  • The software needs (like any software) a more or less long training period.
  • https://prezi.com

Conclusion

What can you take with you for your own presentations?

  1. Both are good tools. It is crucial that they are used correctly, though.
  2. So it is not a question of “either-or”, but of which tool better serves your purpose.
  3. Use either tool correctly – and it has a great impact.

If you like the post, why not share it in the social media such as Facebook, XING and Co.?

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey inspires her audience.

Oprah Winfrey

“It was 1964. I was just a little girl. I sat on the linoleum floor in my mother’s house and watched the Oscar ceremony on TV “(0:50). With these words Oprah Winfrey begins her speech. The details (cold floor, white tie and black skin) revive the event. She describes the moment when Sydney Poitier was the first black man to win an Oscar for Best Actor. This means a lot for the little girl, who at that time was following the Oscars from the “cheap seats”. This personal reference makes the speech very emotional.

In 1982 Sydney Poitier received the Cecil B. de Mille Award at the Golden Globes – the award that Oprah Winfrey is now the first black woman to receive. She skillfully draws attention to the fact that little girls are now watching again. So she refers twice to what she mentioned before: First black man/woman, little girl.

Tempo, gestures and repetition

During Oprah Winfrey’s speech, she changes tempo several times. She talks about the Hollywood Press Association, which has a lot of work to do these days: To reveal the absolute truth, to expose corruption and illegality. Her gestures support what she says:”What I know for sure is that truth is the strongest tool we have,” she emphasizes. She says she has great respect for the women who have gone public with their stories. “This year we have become history,” she says. She repeats the word “history” three times. She tries to keep eye contact with the audience – but sometimes it gets lost because of the wide-brimmed glasses.

#metoo

Oprah continues with the #metoo campaign by telling the story of the raped Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks, the woman who took care of the case. She brings her strong message with an anaphora:”Your time is up!” Their time is up! She repeats this sentence three times, while the people in the audience are torn from their seats and give resounding applause.

Come full circle

She comes full circle by returning to the little girls. With that she addresses all the girls who are watching to give them hope:”A new day is coming”. “And this day will be wonderful, especially because of the wonderful women and some phenomenal men who will make sure that no one ever has to say,” Me too!”

Conclusion

What can you learn for your own presentations from Oprah Winfrey?

  • Tell personal stories
  • Make references to events, history, people and facts.

Click here for the video.

If you like the post, why not share it in the social media such as Facebook, XING and Co.