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Welcome to

The Standup Trainer Newsletter

December 2005

Brought to you by Ellen Dowling, PhD ("The Standup Trainer") and the fine folks of Dowling & Associates, Inc.



This newsletter is guaranteed certifiably useful as well as amusing. (If you are not completely satisfied, there are unsubscribe instructions at the end. But we're betting you'll change your mind by the time you get there.)

Welcome to all new and continuing subscribers! And a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

In this issue:

1. Presentation Horror Story of the Month

Can this marriage be saved? It’s always a question of compatibility.

2. Presentation Hall of Shame

A sad case of a speaker who should know better.

3. Presentation Skills Book Review

What do you say when something goes wrong?

4. Useful Online Resource of the Month

Can a lecture be interactive? Absolutely!

1. Presentation Horror Story of the Month

[Editor's Note: Have you a good story to tell about the time SOMETHING WENT WRONG at a presentation you were giving (or attending)? We are soliciting submissions for this segment of our newsletter. If your story is chosen, you will receive a FREE copy of either of Ellen's two books, The Standup Trainer or Presenting with Style (your choice). Simply send your story (just a couple of paragraphs will be fine) to edowling@standuptrainer.com.]

The winner of this month's contest is a training specialist for the procurement division of a large research laboratory.

I was selected to provide a presentation to my company leadership. I called my VP’s secretary to see what was required. She told me to bring only my PowerPoint presentation; handouts were not needed. (I did not have access to the room prior to my presentation, so could not rehearse beforehand.)

When I arrived for my presentation, I handed the person doing the AV my pen drive. She asked me what format my slides were in and I told her PowerPoint. She said she had a Mac and could not use that format. (It turned out that senior management used Macs while the rest of the company used Windows.)

I had brought my notes copy of the presentation, so she used a projector to project my black and white copy, without the notes, on the screen—very poor quality and I myself could not use my notes. Needless to say, the presentation did not go well.

[Editor's Note: Anyone want to respond to this predicament and share suggestions for what this presenter could have done to salvage the situation? I’ll print responses in the January issue.]

2. Presentation Hall of Shame

A colleague of mine reported that she once attended an ASTD conference, at which she planned to sit in on a session conducted by “a big name in management consulting,” who (lucky for him) shall remain nameless. The Big Name arrived 40 minutes late for the session (can you imagine?) There were problems with his lavaliere mic, but he insisted on wasting more session time fiddling with it, rather than just accepting the hand-held mic and going on with the show.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, Big Name violated ASTD’s speaker’s policy about direct selling from the podium—every 15 seconds he mentioned one of his books.

style='font-size: 12.0pt'>“The Law of Two Feet” kicked in and people where scrambling to leave the presentation before it was finished.

I’m not sure there is a “cure” for this kind of behavior. I suspect Big Name was oblivious to his audience, wrapped up complete in his own ego.  Session attendee beware!

3. Presentation Skills Book Review

This month’s book is What to Say When: A Complete Resource for Speakers, Trainers, & Executives by Lilly Walters (McGraw-Hill, 1995).

Lilly Walters is the author of two other well-known books about public speaking, Secrets of Successful Speakers and Speak and Grow Rich. In What to Say When, Walters compiles 358 pages of things to say (or do) when things go wrong, from what to do if you trip on the way to the lectern, to what to do if terrorists or gang members crash your presentation. (She attributes these tips from a variety of sources, from professional speakers to standup comics.) Here are some of my favorites:

If you lose your train of thought or freeze up in the middle of the presentation, say this: “Oh, my! How strange. I was just caught in a time warp, and although I’m sure you noticed nothing, the last time I spoke to you was 4 days ago. Let me check my notes . . .” (John Nisbet).

If you arrive late for your presentation, say this: “Don’t pay the ransom! I’ve escaped!” (Ed McManus).

If someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer (or feel threatened by), say this: “I think the reason you are asking that is much more important than any answer I could give. Would you share your reasons for asking that question with us?” (Lilly herself).

If you can’t answer the question, say this: “Between my dad and me, we knew everything. Unfortunately, that’s one of the things he knew” (Bob Walters), or “That’s a good question. [Pause.] Are there any other good questions?” (Ron Dentinger).

If they don’t ask any questions, say this: “Is there anyone in the room who would like to ask the first question? [Silence] OK. Is there anyone in the room who would like to ask the second question?” (Allen Klein).

If someone arrives late to your presentation, say this: “Gee, everyone in the room just sang a song. Now it’s your turn” (Jimmy Calano).

If someone in the audience answers a question directed at you, say this (with a mock game-show-host voice): “That’s absolutely right! Johnny, let’s tell him exactly what he won! Well, Jeff, he won 2 full pounds of Chef Anton’s Southern-fried grits, toasted to perfection, cubed, reheated, and returned to water. Now back to you, Jeff!” (Jeff Slutsky).

If you get horrible feedback from your microphone, say this: “That concludes the musical portion of the program” (Michael Iapoce).

If your overhead projector doesn’t work, say this: “This must be one of those old wood-burning models” (Roger Langley).

If someone’s cell phone rings, say this: “If that’s for me, tell them I’m not here” (Tom Antion).

Walters also includes lots of advice for preventing such situations from happening in the first place, as well as a useful glossary of speaker terms.

Oh, and what DO you say if you 1) trip on the way to the lectern or if  2) terrorists invade your room?

1. “Ta da!” and raise your arms over your head.

2.  “What do you want?” (And then give it to them.)

4. Useful Online Resource of the Month

If you are an interactive presenter (and you should be!), you MUST visit www.thiagi.com , where you’ll find a plethora of games, simulations, and other interactive activities to liven up any presentation and keep your audiences awake and attentive.

That's it for this month! If you enjoyed this newsletter please do pass it on to your friends. (Or send them to www.standuptrainer.com to get their own subscription. Why should YOU have to do everything for them?)

If you have a suggestion for something we could do to make this newsletter even MORE useful as well as amusing, please contact us:

Dowling & Associates, Inc.

Ellen Dowling, President


(505) 883-9070