Are You A Persuasive Presenter?

If you are in a management role, you’ve most likely given presentations at work. In fact, a 2014 survey by presentation software firm Prezi revealed that 70 percent of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work. However, 20 percent of respondents said they would do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation, including pretending to be sick or asking a colleague to give the presentation, even if it means losing respect in the workplace.

Sound familiar? One way to address the fear of presentations is to build confidence in giving presentations that are effective and memorable.

We’ve all heard the basics such as you shouldn’t have too much copy on a slide or that you shouldn’t read from a script. Here are just a few presentation tips from HBR.org writer Dorie Clark that give you the power to persuade your audience—the ultimate goal of a presenter.

1. What’s the problem you’re solving? Clark says that too often presenters start off by directly providing a solution rather than first acknowledging the problem. If you don’t explain the context and why it matters upfront, you risk them tuning out early on because they’re not sure if your idea is relevant.

2. Why now? Next, you need to explain to your audience why now is the most relevant time to address this problem. You need to create a sense of urgency, a call to action and the cost of not taking action.

3. How has the idea been vetted? Next, according to Clark, you need to explain your credibility in addressing this problem and how you’ve vetted your recommendations. This means highlighting your experience and your competence in addressing this issue. As Clark says, “For instance, it’s worth mentioning that your team interviewed 100 leading researchers to identify the best practices you’re recommending, or that you ran three pilots to test the concept.”

4. Have you simplified the structure? Clark says that the next step is to simplify your idea. Present it in a way that is simple and clear to the audience. Perhaps present your idea in a series of steps or phases. This enables the audience to grasp a complex solution more readily, and inspires more confidence in the path you’re proposing.

5. Have you included a story? Make sure your idea is wrapped in a story, says Clark. Don’t just pepper your presentations with a bunch of factoids and statistics. Instead, build a narrative that helps others visualize what you’re talking about. Facts and stats can serve to emphasize points in the narrative, but make sure there is a story to which the audience can relate.

6. Have you included a call to action? Finally, Clark reminds us to always end with a call to action. Be clear about the key steps you want the audience to take and how they can make a difference.

When you know how to be a persuasive presenter, the idea of giving a presentation becomes a powerful tool instead of dreaded task.

Source: Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out. You can receive her free Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook.

19 Crazy Easy Ways You Can Be Healthier in the Office

tm-pilbox.global.ssl.fastlyIf you’re like me and spend most of your day in an office, you probably think it’s impossible to practice healthy habits on the reg. (Unless your company has an in-office gym or catered meals every day—if that’s you, you’re a lucky duck.)

Well, I’ll prove you wrong. I came up with not one, not 10, but 19 easy ways to have a stronger mind, body, and spirit in just your average workspace. By easy, I mean these are so quick and simple you wouldn’t believe you can actually improve yourself by doing them. And yet, I have proof you can!

Read on to learn my healthy little secrets!

1. Keep Healthy Snacks Nearby

As Muse writer Nina Tamburello says, “When the vending machine or leftovers from the 3 PM meeting tempt you with their ease and convenience, it’s hard to just say no to chips and cookies during that mid-afternoon slump.”

So, instead, leave a bag of almonds or kale chips next to your laptop. It’s much easier than getting up to snag something from the office kitchen.

2. Bring Your Own Lunch

When you make it, and the local sandwich shop doesn’t, you get to control what kinds of foods you choose to eat. Yes, this takes work, but it’s so worth it for your health and your bank account.

3. Hang Out With the “Health Nuts”

Science says you eat what your friends eat, so try surrounding yourself with people who’ll unintentionally help you kick your bad habits.

4. Stand Up and Stretch Often

Even if it’s just to tackle some emails or short to-dos, spend 30 minutes a day standing at your desk—we bet it’ll boost your energy. Oh, and if your office doesn’t have any place where you can work standing up, then just literally make sure you’re physically standing up and stretching at least once an hour.

There’s also nothing worse than leaving work at the end of the day with a kink in your neck or sore muscles, so avoid the pain with these 17 exercises that you can do right at your desk!

5. Practice Smart Computer Habits

Staring at a computer all day is exhausting, and hard on the eyes, neck, back, and head.

So, remember to take short breaks between tasks, turn the brightness down on your computer, sit up straight, use eye drops, and shift positions occasionally.

6. Schedule Walking Meetings

Take your meetings on a stroll, where you can enjoy some sunshine, stretch your muscles, and maybe get those creative juices flowing.

7. Take the Stairs

It’s a quick way to get your heart rate up when there’s no time for a workout. (If you work on the 20th floor or higher like I do, maybe try taking the stairs halfway and catching an elevator when you’ve exhausted yourself.)

Tiring idea? Yes, but science says it’ll make you smarter!

8. Work Out in the Middle of the Day

If you can, try taking an hour off work to head to a nearby yoga studio or go for a run. Muse Senior Editor Stacey Gawronski found that after doing so, her day flew by and she still got a lot done, despite losing an hour: “I [felt] so productive from my exercise boost that I barely noticed what time it was.”

9. Try a Quick Nap

It can be hard to just conk out on your desk without concerning your boss, but if you’re able to—and desperately need it—let him or her know you could use a bit of shut-eye to refocus and excuse yourself to a couch or private room for a quick nap. You’ll be more productive for the rest of the day. (Just don’t do it every day.)

10. Work Outside

“Believe it or not, your natural habitat is not a room filled with fluorescent lights and computer screens,” says Muse Career Coach Lea McLeod.

Grab your laptop, or an old-fashioned notebook, and get some work done (even if it’s just for a bit) at a park nearby, on a bench outside your office, or in an outdoor restaurant. It’ll reduce your stress, and give you a healthy dose of vitamin D. (And, if you’re not sure how this will work, try using these 16 items to help you shift your desk to a new space.)

11. Carve Out Personal Time

You can’t work all the time, it’s just not good for you. As Muse Writer Lily Hermanrealized, “My constant desire to work came to a head when I start showing signs of ‘brownout’—it’s the notion that while I was performing fine from the outside, I was slowly becoming exhausted, unmotivated, and uninspired.”

So, literally set aside a slot on your calendar for “you” time—whether that means getting yourself a coffee, scrolling through social media, or chatting with a co-worker.

12. Drink Lots of Water

It goes without saying, really. Water equals a happy body (and less mid-day headaches).

My secret for success? A fun water bottle. Try out one with a straw, or a button, or a flippy lid.

13. Buy a Stress-Relief Toy

Take your frustrations out on something else besides your co-workers or boss—it’ll salvage your relationships and ease your stress. For some great ideas, check out these 18 options that’ll fit right on your desk.

14. Start an Office Workout Tradition

Here at The Muse, we’re big fans of the 3 PM “judgment-free” push-ups—it’s when members of our team stop what they’re doing to do a round of push-ups together. Besides getting in a quick workout, it’s a great way to bond as co-workers.

Did I inspire you? Get a group together and start your own healthy tradition! It can be as simple as swapping tea for coffee in the afternoons or taking a 10-minute mid-day walk.

15. Stare Out the Window

Science says that just looking at a tree can reduce stress and make you feel better overall. This is probably the easiest health tip I’ve given you all day. (Unless you live in a city, then maybe try purchasing a plant?)

16. Replace That Second (or Third, or Fourth) Cup of Coffee

Rather than shoving more caffeine into your body, try replacing an afternoon coffee with de-caffeinated tea or sugar-free gum.

17. Turn the Music Down

Loud music is harsh on the eardrums, so if you’re constantly blasting it through your headphones, turn the volume down a notch. And this way, you’ll be able to hear if your boss is calling for you.

18. Give Your Hands a Break

They’re doing the legwork all day (unlike your legs), so give them a rest by stretching them out or taking a second to relax them in your lap. You don’t want to get carpel tunnel, do you?

19. Breathe

Cheesy, I know, but if you just take one minute (or more!) of your time a day to stop, look away from your work, and just breathe, you’ll feel a heck of a lot better. If you’re feelingreally ambitious, you might even practice mindfulness or meditation.

My final tip for you: Everything in moderation. Healthy habits are about balancing work and pleasure, cookies and vegetables, sitting and standing. You don’t have to stop having fun or enjoying a beer with co-workers, but be mindful of how much and how often you choose one thing over another possibly better option.

Did I miss anything? Got any secrets to smart office living? Tweet me!

Photo of woman smiling courtesy of Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Getty Images.

Three Nifty Tricks To Solving Problems

Have you ever felt stuck in dealing with a problem? You know you have to solve an issue, but it’s hard to see a clear path to positive results. What do you do when you’re stuck?

In problem solving, being stuck isn’t always immediately apparent and we arrive at the realization in different ways. I, for one, tend to procrastinate when I’m stuck, dealing with menial tasks instead of the important one at hand.

Today we share these tactics to deploy the next time you notice you’re deep in the stuck.

1. Apply tried-and-true problem solving frameworks. The bad news? “There is no formula for problem solving,” says Michael Kallet, author of Think Smarter. “If there were, we’d plug the world’s problems into the formula, and we would have no problems.” The good news is there’s no shortage of ways to look at problems that generate ideas for solving them.

Look at problems with a different perspective. For example, instead of asking, “What can I do to be brilliant?” you can start by asking, “What should I do to avoid being stupid?” In that way, inversion thinking can eliminate nasty problems.

2. Give it a rest: the incubation period. Once you a) recognize you’re engaging in your personal favorite avoidance behavior and therefore b) arrive at the realization you’re stuck, then what? Stop right there. Step away and let your subconscious take over for a while. Scientists call this the “incubation period,” since our brains continue to work on problems after we consciously abandon them and go do something else. Activities that give you relative solitude, free you from distraction and allow your mind to wander, such as long walks, meditation or prayer, a good night’s sleep, exercise, even your boring commute, let your subconscious mind work its magic. Ever wonder why you arrive at your best ideas in the shower? This is why.

3. Seek outside perspective. Talking to an uninvolved party—a mentor, a spouse, a therapist, a trusted friend or colleague—will bring a fresh perspective to solving your problem. Describe what the problem is, what you’ve done and where you’re stuck. Unlike you, they’re living outside the problem, so they’ll see it from a different angle and hopefully ask questions you haven’t thought to ask yourself. Sometimes, simply verbalizing the problem is enough to solve it; the act of saying it out loud can make the right thing to do seem painfully obvious.

 

Source: Emily Triplett Lentz is on the marketing team at Help Scout, the invisible help desk software.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Turn Up The Effectiveness Of Your Meetings

Are you maximizing the ROI for your meetings and events? In order for your next assembly to produce a positive ROI, your attendees need to leave the event motivated to do something different in the long term.  Today we take a look at the event presentation lifecycle, a formal process designed to help improve speaker skills and presentation quality, therefore improving event effectiveness and ROI.

1. Theme/Topic Selection. The first step in preparing a high-value event is to determine the main objective, theme and desired results of the event. Once the theme has been identified, topic selection and sequencing can begin.

Topics should be sequenced to build on previous topics, creating a storyline that runs through the event. By using a variety of presentation styles and audience interactions, audience engagement will be further supported. A loss of audience engagement leads to reduced ROI.

2. Speaker Assignment. Selecting who will be addressing your participants is often the most important set of decisions affecting the ROI of your event. Each speaker has various characteristics that will impact the energy, flow and effectiveness, including area of expertise, area of passion, energy level, presentation skill level, creativity and theatrical ability, and the ability to motivate versus train.

As part of your speaker selection process, you may consider hiring external speakers to add content expertise to your event. While this expertise is valuable, it can create additional risk. You need to make sure your speaker is addressing a message that is relevant and on point with rest of your topics. Also, ensure that you have control over the messages they deliver and that the quality of the presentation doesn’t inadvertently upstage your executives.

3. Speaker Coaching. Regardless of the skill level of the speakers you are putting in front of your audience, formalized speech and presentation coaching will help ensure clear, consistent messaging. By supporting your speakers with a professional speaking coach who is intimately aware of your intent and objectives, you will create an environment that helps prepare each speaker for maximum effectiveness and impact.

4. Objective Assessment. When it comes to presentation effectiveness, a common mistake executives make is to rely on anecdotal feedback from staff and coworkers instead of objective feedback. The use of a structured and objective assessment tool will provide a baseline for ongoing speaker development and a baseline for continual improvement.

A formalized, objective assessment should be based around three main categories, including content and vocal delivery as well as presentation style and engagement. The objective results, combined with subjective feedback like audience engagement and survey results, provide a framework for an action plan for future improvement.

5. Coaching Review. The final step is the coaching review. Your corporate speakers should receive feedback from an expert trained in reviewing presentations incorporating the objective assessment, subjective feedback and a review of audio or video of the event when available. The coaching review and the action plan are then used as the basis for coaching the presentations for the next event.

Through this defined process, not only will you improve your current event, but you will lay the foundation and establish the process for continual event ROI improvement.

Source: Mark A. Vickers is a Certified Professional Coach, and Certified World Class Speaking Coach. He is a communications consultant focused on helping organizations improve performance through improved communication and speaking skills. Vickers is a creative author and speaker, and is known for developing the Communications Challenge, an objective way to measure communication effectiveness.