Executive Speaking Weblog

Communication – the future of business

Archive for April, 2008

If You Use PowerPoint You Need to Know This!

Posted by Presentation Skills on April 27, 2008

PowerPoint (or any other projection software) can be a great to enhance your message. When used correctly it can help you explain your message in a clearer way that helps your audience understand your message and learn even more.

But a constant problem that many speakers have when using PowerPoint is that they don’t know where to put their notes. To get around this, they put their notes on the screen and read from this. Unfortunately this has awful consequences for the audience. See here for examples.

But there is a way around this. The secret has been part of the PowerPoint suit for many years, but has been kept a secret from most of us. The secret uses a function of PowerPoint and a function of the operating software on your computer. As I use Microsoft XP, I will talk in terms of that.

The first step is to prepare your presentation in PowerPoint (or Imppress, Keynote, Freelance or any other program) using the “Presenters Notes”. In PowerPoint this is called “Normal View”. In this setting you can create your slide for your audience and make any notes that you will need. You can also see what slides you have in your presentation.

The second part of the secret is to set your computer up to run on Dual monitors. First ensure that you have your computer attached to the projector or this wont work. In XP this is done by following these steps:

  1. Go to the “desktop”
  2. Right Click and select Properties
  3. In the Properties box select the ‘settings’ tab
  4. Ensure that 2 monitors are showing (if they are not you will not be able to use this functionality.)
  5. Click on the second monitor
  6. Check the box towards the bottom of the settings box that says (something like) “Display monitor on this screen”

Once you have completed this set up you will be able to have the audience see the slides that you want them to see and you will be able to see your notes, the slides that the audience can see, what slides you have just shown and also the next slide to come.

By setting up the computer this way you will be able to control your notes, presentation and your message to achieve the results you are after.

You can get more info on this from Microsoft by following this link http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/powerpoint/HA010565471033.aspx?pid=CL100626991033

‘Til next time,


Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach.




Posted in PowerPoint, presentation skills, public speaking tips | 2 Comments »

What is the Temperature of Your Presentation

Posted by Presentation Skills on April 18, 2008

One of the most disheartening things that can happen to a trainer is to look out at your audience and see half of them asleep, while the other half struggles to stay awake!

While I believe that it is the presenters duty to provide a stimulating presentation that will keep the audience involved, there are other tricks that you can use in your corporate training room to keep your audience awake.

The easiest is to control the temperature of the room. By setting the temperature at around 19 — 20 deg Celsius you audience will notice that the room is cool. When they are slightly cool, your audience is more likely to remain attentive.

If the room tempreature is any warmer then this, your audience will become warm and sleepy. After all, it is easiest to sleep in a warm position.

And when this becomes company policy, you can include this in your briefing instructions to attendees. Tell them that to get the most out of the training they should wear long pants and bring a light jumper or jacket. This is an unusual request that will stick in their mind.

If they are advised in advance they can come prepared.

‘Til next time,


Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach

Posted in presentation skills, public speaking, public speaking tips, Understanding your audience | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

The Focus of PowerPoint

Posted by Presentation Skills on April 18, 2008

Yesterday I was in a three hour lecture where the speaker used a ppt presentation as the basis of her message.  As I watched her speak, I noticed that her attention was constantly being diverted between three places. The result of this was that she found it hard to concentrate on what she was saying.

Where was she focusing?

She was trying to focus on three places at once. She was focusing on the screen where the audience was looking. She was focusing on her computer to control her presentation. And finally she was focusing on us – the audience. The trouble is that when you divert your conscious attention to so many places all at once, you are unable to pay adequate attention to any of them.

As a result of her constantly changing her focus, she constantly had to change her thought patterns. Even though the changes were only slight, it was enough to distupt the flow.

Why does this happen? It is because of the way the brain is structured. Whilst all visual information is processed in the visual cortex, there are different parts of the visual cortex that process different types of visual information. By constantly changing visual inputs in such a disjointed and random matter, she had to re-establish her thought patterns after each change. This caused he to lose her place for an instant with annoying consequences.

What was the result? In 5 minutes I counted 64 ‘filler words’. These included the traditional ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’, but also she said, ‘I guess’ a lot. Now when you are a speaker – and speaking as an expert – telling your audience that you are ‘guessing’ is not good for your credibility.

At 64 filler words in 5 minutes, she spoke an extra 2304 words for the three hour presentation. That is about 15 minutes of speaking! That’s huge!

If she was able to place her attention on the audience and forget about looking at her computer and screen, she would have made a much stronger connection with her audience, reduced the number of filler words used, and been able to remember her presentation more clearly and concisely.

Til next time.


Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach

Posted in nervousness, PowerPoint, presentation skills, public speaking, public speaking tips | 4 Comments »

What the Dentist Taught Me About the Fear of Public Speaking

Posted by Presentation Skills on April 11, 2008

As a public Speaking coach I don’t have the same fear of public Speaking that many people have, but this does not mean that I don’t know irrational fear. While I do get nervous before a major speaking gig, I do not suffer the anxiety that many people do. I suffer anxiety in other scary situations — namely visiting the dentist!

Nine months ago I broke a filling in one of my teeth. While it did not hurt it was uncomfortable and was hard to clean. Instead of going and getting it fixed I put it off hoping that the problem would somehow magically fix itself. Strangely enough it didn’t. So after 9 months of avoidance behaviour, this morning I had the tooth repair.

As I was lying in the chair, feet raised to the ceiling, I could feel my level of anxiety increase. The dentist had not even entered the room and I was feeling nervous. When the dentist arrived and took a look in my mouth, he calmly said, ‘Lets make you numb and fix it up.’ His calm words scared the life out of me. I started to squirm in the chair. My breathing became shallow and erratic. I closed my eyes to ensure that I did not see the massive needle that he was using. I had started to panic.

It was then that it dawned on me that this is how many people feel when they have to give a speech. So I started to control my breathing as I tell my clients to. After a minute or so, I was feeling much better. Then, as hte deentist was examining my other teeth, I started to realise that this was not so bad after all. No I do not like needles or the dentist, I realsied that the dentist was there for my benefit. He wasn’t passing judgement – he was just there as part of the process. He didn’t want me to have a broken filling or to need any other work. he wanted me to have healthy teeth, and set about me getting them.

As a nervous speaker, our relationship with the audience is pretty much the same as a nervous patient with his dentist. The audience wants to see us doing well. After all, they don’t want a presentation that is boring. And like the dentist, they understand that sometimes things go wrong. Despite your best efforts, sometimes you will lose your place when speaking, sometimes you will drop your notes or sometimes you will get the order messed up. In the same way that a dentist knows that despite your best efforts, sometimes you will need a filling, a clean or a broken filling replaced. That’s just a part of life!

So please don’t be so harsh on yourself if you are a nervous speaker. Everyone gets nervous or anxious in one situation or another. The trick is to realise that you can over come the fear and emerge the other side better for it. When you do you will be able experience the situation with less anxiety, and who knows, maybe even enjoy it one day.

‘Til next time

Darren Fleming

Australia’s Public Speaking Coach (with a great smile)


Posted in nervousness, public speaking | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »