Presentation Tips: The Solution to “Too Much Detail” by Dean Brenner (The Latimer Group)

Several of our coaching conversations at The Latimer Group lately have been focused around one particular challenge: When I am speaking to my boss, how do I stay out of the weeds? I get stuck in the deep detail, and he/she gets frustrated with me.

Sound familiar? “Too much detail” is a constant issue in the 21st century business world. In a world where everyone is drowning in detail… where attention spans are at an all-time low… where no one listens anymore… the ability to communicate the correct amount of detail is a skill of great importance.

Part of the answer, therefore, is to always consider how much detail is really necessary in that moment. How much does your audience want or need? How much can they handle? What can be left for another day or time? These are critical questions to ask.

However, there is another part to the answer. Sometimes, the solution is not less detail. Sometimes, the solution is better organized detail, that is easier to follow. Because not all detail is created equal.

Well organized detail has a few common denominators:

  1. The overall message is divided into key themes (or chapters);
  2. The speaker outlines the key themes up front;
  3. The details follow each key theme introduction;
  4. The speaker pauses along the way for some internal summary, to repeat key points, and to check for understanding;
  5. The speaker outlines key themes again at the end.

And along the way, the speaker uses specific delivery techniques like “speaking in bullet points.” So there are three things I want you to consider: #1… #2… #3… And so on. The speaker also might use a healthy dose of WIIFY (What’s In It For You) statements: “This is important to you because… The key point here is… Let me make this easy for you, here is what you need to remember…”

The message today is pretty simple. Always challenge your own thinking and question how much detail is really necessary. But just as importantly, think about how to organize your message so that your message is easier to retain.

Both solutions will help you, and your audience.

Good luck, and have a great day!

 

 

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com

Presentation Tips: Embrace the Space by Dean Brenner (The Latimer Group)

In many workshops, we see two parallel fears come up over and over.

People fear silence when they’re speaking. Silence makes them uncomfortable. Therefore, they often fill the silence with more sound — extra words and non-words (we call them “verbal pauses’).

And at the same time, people fear empty space on slides. White space makes them uncomfortable, and therefore they often fill the space with more words.

For some reason, we fear voids. And yet voids can be a powerful tool. Silence can be used to draw attention to our most important points. Silence can be used to capture attention. Silence also can create a sense of confidence and presence.

So too, with empty space. Empty space means the audience’s eye can only focus on what is there. So if you limit your slides to your most important points and facts, empty space will mean there is nothing extra to distract.

Is it possible to have TOO much silence and TOO much empty space? Of course. But in our experience, very few people are in danger of that.

For most of us, the risk is not enough silence and not enough empty space. When we fill the void, we distract our audience away from our most important points.

Don’t fill the silence and the void. Embrace them.

 

 

At The Latimer Group, our individual Coaching services are highly customized and designed to help you achieve your specific goals. Typical engagements focus on developing skill sets in Leadership Communications, Public Speaking, and Executive-Level Business Presentations. To learn more, e-mail us at info@TheLatimerGroup.com

Getting Your Delivery from “Negative” to “Positive” byDean Brenner (the Latimer Group)

We talk all the time about message development — clarity of and organization of message make it easier for people to listen to you. And if you do all the right things on your message plan, and then translate it into a good slide deck, the final piece of the puzzle is your delivery. Once you have the “what am I going to say” part done, then it is time to focus on the “how am I going to say it” part.

And here is an easy way to think about your delivery.

The first goal with improvement of your delivery skills is to make sure that there is nothing getting in the way of the message being heard. We have written many times in the past about eliminating distractions, and this remains a great goal. Once you have gotten the distractions out of your delivery (verbal pauses like “um,” speaking too fast, too softly, too monotone, excessive hand gestures, lack of eye contact, fidgeting body language, etc… it is a long list), then there is nothing that will get in the way of your message being heard. The distractions will detract from your message and make it hard to listen to you. But now your delivery is no longer a negative. Good job! Your delivery is essentially now a neutral element in the audience experience. Good start. But we are not done. There is more progress to be made.

Once we have gotten our skills to neutral, now we have to begin working on a set of skills that will make our delivery a positive element of the audience experience. We want our skills to actually enhance that audience experience. So, we begin working on skills that make it easier to consume the message… we work on changes to our volume, tone and speed; body language and facial expression that will channel the energy we want our audience to feel; vocabulary that will project the feeling we want to create; verbal techniques like “speaking in bullet points” that will make it easier to remember; and WIIFY phrases that will connect our audience to our message. Again… it is a long list.

But for today, let’s make it simple. As you are thinking about your own progress as a presenter and a speaker, think about your delivery skills in the following way: are your skills a negative to the audience experience? Let’s eliminate the stuff that will get in the way of our message being heard, and get our skills to at least a neutral impact. Then, once we have accomplished that, we can begin accumulating the skills that will make our delivery a positive on the audience experience. As we develop those skills, we will be playing in rarefied air, and performing at a high level.

Have a great day, and good luck!

Hoya Highlight: Sarabeth Boak (C’11)

sarabeth-boak.png
Cofounder, CEO, Stitchbridge
Pitched at Second Annual Alumni Pitch Competition at John Carroll Seattle

Career Reflections

What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Don’t waste the best years of your life executing someone else’s vision.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your career?

Every single day I go to work in my startup is both rewarding and filled with constant anxiety. Ask me again in 5 years?

What do you wish you had done earlier in your career?

I try not to live with regret. Every stage gives me something to learn.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done professionally?

Founding a startup.

Your Time on the Hilltop

Favorite professor or class at Georgetown?

Every English department class I took was awesome.

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?

Exploring the tunnels with my freshman year crew.

How has Georgetown shaped you?

Georgetown taught me how to take chances and stay curious.

A Day in the Life

What is on your desk right now?

“What isn’t on my desk?” is a better question. It’s giving me anxiety just thinking about it.

What is one part of your daily routine you couldn’t live without?

One word: coffee!

Who or what is a source of inspiration in your life?

My grandmother—she’s the grittiest lady I know.

Who is your favorite author?

It’s a tie between Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway.

Words to live by?

Just do it.