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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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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.

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Using a common reproach against your opponent

AfD politician Bernd Baumann uses a reproach against his opponents, that is usually used against his own party – and this at the first AfD speech in the German Bundestag. He certainly convinced at least his base. In his speech, Baumann criticised the decision taken at the end of the previous legislative period to determine the opening speaker no longer on the basis of years of service rather than years of life. The aim is that an AfD representative should not be allowed to open the first session.

“Only in 1933 did Hermann Göring break the rule because he wanted to exclude his political opponent. Do you want to go on such a wry path? Come back to the line of the German Democrats,”emphasizes Baumann. A rhetorically well-prepared speech in which Baumann is supported by the regular applause of his party members. What is more, in his speech the politician also referred to the press reports according to which this decision “does not cast a good light on the parliamentary culture in Germany” (focus). And this despite the fact that the press “is not usually in favor of the AfD”, says Baumann.

He skillfully takes elements from German history and tradition as supporting arguments for his point of view.

“How big? How great must the fear of the AfD be?”repeats Baumann. The icing on the cake is the end of the speech: In just one sentence, Baumann lists all the topics that are important to his party. “From this hour on, the issues are being renegotiated here. … also about the euro, gigantic borrowings, gigantic immigration numbers, open borders and increasingly brutal crime on our streets, ladies and gentlemen “, says Baumann.

What can you learn for your own presentations?

  1. Use analogies, including those from the history of your country.
  2. Make verbal judo and take a reproach that is often made to you and turn it around.
  3. Make sure you have people in the audience to support you.
  4. Summarize everything in one last sentence.

Click here for the video.

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The British Exit - and the European Future

John Major on The Brexit

John Major on The British Exit – and the European Future; University of Zurich, KOH-B-10, October 17, 2016, 18:40 – 19:26 h. Organised by the Schweizerisches InstitutJohn Major on the Brexit - and the European Future für Auslandforschung SIAF.

It was an honor and a privilege to have the former British prime minister visit the University of Zurich.  It was great to be able to experience the Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH at first hand. The presentation was even more relevant because of the recent vote of the UK to exit the European Union. Therefore it was no wonder that the lecture hall was filled to almost the last seat available, i.e. about 440 attendees.

Former prime minister John Major argued that the exit came as a surprise to many. According to him there were going to be many negative consequences. Subsequently he praised the overall achievements of the European Union, acknowledging some difficulties. In particular the key achievement being peace in Europe after the first and second world war. On the other hand, one of the mistakes the EU in his opinion did, was to let too many countries  adopt the Euro too early. As a result, Sir John argued that the vote in favor of the Brexit had to do with the fact, that many British citizens hadn’t seen a raise in their living standard for the past 10 years.

Now to the topic of this blog: How good a public speaker is John Major?

On the positive side:

  • Use of humor: He opened and ended his speech with a joke. First with a joke about Gorbachev, then with one about Jelzin. John Major also deflected some potentially difficult questions with humor during the Q&A session.
  • Declaring his standpoint: He clearly said what his personal opinion was about the Brexit: He thinks it was a mistake. Comment: This puts things into perspective and let’s the audience understand more easily that he leans to one or the other side of the argument.
  • Relate to the audience: Sir John related to a large part of the audience when he (sarcastically) asked the students in the audience: “Are 65 million British citizens going to get the same deal as 500 million citizens of the EU? Discuss!” He earned a big laugh from that (, assuming that that will not be the case).

Areas for improvement:

  • Voice: John Major’s voice was not constantly audible. His voice tended to soften at the end of sentences to the point that he could no longer be understood. Suggestion: Articulate clearly and loudly until the end of every sentence.
  • One sided: Many arguments were unbalanced. E.g. NATO is good, Russia is bad. (No mention of the promise that NATO gave to Russia: We will not expand NATO if you let us reunite Germany.) Suggestion: When preaching to the converted that works fine, probably less so when speaking to a large number of (most likely) critical university students.

Conclusion:

Most noteworthy is Sir John Major’s humor. Unfortunately he could not always be acoustically well understood. In addition, in a school paper (and, in my humble opinion, hopefully by the press) he would have been asked to give a more balanced view.

This was a worthwhile event to go to, if only to experience first hand how a former and current leader speaks.

On a scale of 1 (stay home) to 10 (world champion): 7