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Welcome to

The Standup Trainer Newsletter

November 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!

Coming next week to Albuquerque!

A dynamic, interactive, 2-hour workshop:

Dealing with Difficult People

Conducted by Dr. Ellen Dowling
November 14th, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
at the MCM Hotel Elegante
(on Menaul just east of University)

$59 per person (includes lunch and handouts)
Visit www.standuptrainer.com to register (or for more information)

In this issue:

1. Presentation Horror Story of the Month

Have transparencies, will travel!

2. Presentation Hall of Shame

A sure-fire way to get a standing ovation!

3. Presentation Skills Book Review

What do you say to a naked audience?

4. Useful Online Resource of the Month

A PowerPoint presentation on how to make a good PowerPoint presentation!

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 Diana Gallegos, Training Manager for Raley's grocery stores and a student in Ellen's "Presentation Skills for Trainers" class, offered by UNM Continuing Education's Training and Development in Instructional Technology certificate program.

I was all set up to conduct a New Employee Orientation Class for 20 new hires when a "higher up" announced that my training room needed to be used for a video conference and we had to vacate the premises.

There was no other room available, so I had to conduct the first half of the class in the lobby of the building, with most of the students sitting on the floor and me passing around the transparencies. (They let us back in the room for the second half of the class, which may have been even more disruptive!)

[Editor's Note: Perhaps Diana, a graduate of two of Ellen's presentation skills classes, was just remembering what Ellen told her was the most important characteristic of a superior trainer: FLEXIBILITY!]

2. Presentation Hall of Shame

It just makes sense, doesn't it? If you make a 15-minute presentation, which part do you think your audience will remember best: the first minute or the last minute? And yet so many presenters spend scads of time polishing and perfecting their openings while completely ignoring the potential punch of their closings.

"Begin with the end in mind," says Stephen Covey. Good advice, but hardly ever followed in a presentation. Instead, far too many presenters end this way: "Ok, are there any more questions? No? [pause] No more questions? [pause] Well, [pause] OK [pause] I guess if there are no more questions [pause and a little awkward dancing] then that's all I have to say . . . ." and then the whole thing just sort of dribbles off, leaving the audience feeling awkward and unsure of whether or not to applaud, slink to the door, or just sit there stone-faced. The presentation may have begun with a bang, but it's going to end with a whimper.

So how do you jazz up your closing so that the audience is just as impressed by your exit as your entrance? Here are some tips from Ellen's book, Presenting with Style :

Tip #1. Be sure to conduct your last Q&A BEFORE you officially "conclude" your presentation. There are two important reasons for this placement:

a. You want to be able to include any information in your conclusion that might have been raised during the question and answer period. If you do this, you will demonstrate to your audience that you were indeed listening to them. (This is particularly useful if the subject of your presentation is guaranteed to make a majority of audience members unhappy, such as “Why the New Road Will Go Through Sacred Indian Land,” or something.)

b. What if the last question you get is one you can’t answer? What if the last thing the audience hears you say is, “I don’t know. Oh, well, are there any other questions? No? Well, that’s all I have . . ." Not a very confident closing, you will agree.

Tip #2. To officially "close'' your presentation, plan ahead to end with a powerful quote or refer to a story you told earlier in your presentation. Then break eye contact with the audience, bow your head, and say, "Thank you." (You'll find more information on how to get a standing ovation in Presenting with Style.)

3. Presentation Skills Book Review

I Can See You Naked, by Ron Hoff (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1988; revised edition 1992)

The title, of course, refers to a long-standing claim by presentation skills instructors that the best way to overcome stagefright is to do something that will make you feel in control of the situation (you, confident presenter vs. your audience, self-conscious nudists).

Hoff pooh-poohs this technique right off the bat, asserting that it will actually produce the opposite result, as "the presenter scrunches down behind the podium so no one can see him, reads from his script so he will say nothing spontaneous, keeps his eyes down so that no one can make contact, and hold his voice on one deadly level to muffle his emotions."

DON'T do this, Hoff advises. Try these cool techniques instead:

"Think of your next presentation as a big, buoyant medicine ball which you must keep 'alive.' It's your responsibility to keep that ball up in the air, guiding it deftly, tapping it ever higher, perhaps hitting it smartly with your head. Occasionally you'll boost the ball toward someone in your audience. That ball will move around a lot, people will get involved with it, but it will always come back to you because you're the one who keeps it 'alive.' Besides, it's your ball."

Design a presentation with a "mind map," rather than an outline or a script. [The Presentation Diamond is a version of a mind map.] Hoff calls his "the memory model."

To overcome those intitial jitters, start your presentation by "focusing on a friend, one who is committed to your support . . . a legitimate member of the audience who is not a member of your hand-picked team."

Be sure that you use your hands to punctuate your remarks, not distract from them. To do this, says, Hoff, you need to discover your real gestures. Here's how you do this: "Stand in front of a full-length mirror with a large book in each hand. Then, talk. At times, you'll raise one hand or the other in a gesture even though the books are heavy. Those are the real gestures. Save them. Eliminate all others. Those are nervous gestures."

Don't stand behind the lectern for long. "Lecterns have all kinds of bad side effects. They put a barrier between you and your audience when you should be doing everything in your power to clear all obstacles away . . .The best presenters may stand behind the lectern or podium for a few seconds, then (as if freed from it by some cosmic force) move out into a pool of light, probably closer to the audience."

And lastly, beware of too much technology: "The more A/V equipment you use in a presentation, the more susceptible you become to electronic goof-ups . . . Unless you can deliver you presentation without fancy A/V equipment, don’t try it with fancy A/V equipment."

4. Useful Online Resource of the Month

Here's a cool download: It's a PowerPoint presentation on how NOT to make PowerPoint presentations! It's produced by the University of Northern British Columbia and can be found here: http://ctl.unbc.ca/present/Jan20_04/BadPresentations.ppt

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