So you imagine that everyone who is in your audience is sitting on the edge of their seats just waiting for you to proclaim?  Forget it and get real!  This is what some people are thinking as you get ready to start your presentation/networker introduction:

«  Oh flip, I’ve left the front door unlocked

«  I haven’t prepared my introduction pitch, what will I say?

«  ( rehearses own presentation…)

«  Hmm, nice tie/necklace/shirt but I wouldn’t have chosen those cufflinks/earrings/scarf etc…

«  Mulls over the last meeting

«  Plans the next meeting

«  Checks facebook/twitter/email

«  Fumes over the row they had with their wife/husband/partner/mum/child/guinea-pig

There is no point remonstrating about this – it happens, so get real and do something practical about it.  Until and unless you make an impact when you first start to speak NO-ONE will listen!  Here are my three reasons why I won’t listen to you in your presentation:

Reason #1

You won’t look at me.  At best you might skim my face but at worse you will either look at the ceiling, the floor or that lovely smiley person in the front row ( who by the way will soon stop smiling because they get embarrassed at being looked at!)

«  Include me as you look at the whole audience and look at me personally throughout your presentation – not a hard Paddington stare but just long enough for me to feel special, valued and that you are delivering this for me

Reason #2

You have not thought about my needs and my world and rabbit on about you, you , you….This opportunity to speak to a group is not about telling us what you think/do/plan etc- it is sharing with this particular audience from their perspective.  Otherwise it will not be relevant and certainly not engaging enough to listen to.

«  Recognise and refer to and link your experience/expertise/service or product to my world ( with all its dreams, aspirations, frustrations and problems). That way I will listen and when I listen I am open to influence.( now just imagine that!)

Reason #3

You put me in a trance with Powerpoint, and not in a good way.  Ah, bliss.  I can snuggle down, close my eyes and dream away as you turn your back, drone your way through 10 bullet pointed lists, read what is written ( which by the way is very insulting – I can read you know!) and generally lose all your personality, zest and passion to that screen.

«  Only use Powerpoint if it enhances/clarifies/reinforces or explains what you are saying. That’s it.  If you need to remember what to say take in some notes but please please please don’t put your notes on the screen for everyone else to see them!  The very best visual aids to use in ANY presentation are exactly that – visual.  So pictures and photos first, graphs and charts second and visually presented words ( not sentences or heaven forbid paragraphs!) next.

So if you want me to listen

«  Target your presentation

«  Look at me and include ME in your presentation

«  Talk to me and only use the technology if it is helpful to me!

Tell me about why you won’t listen to presentations and what you do to keep people’s attention.

If you would like to increase your impact and influence through public speaking, then check out Phenomenal Woman Experience, a three day intensive workshop taking your presentation skills to the next level and building them into your business plan.  Next workshop is on 2,3,4 March 2012, Manchester Airport. And again on 18.19,20 May 2012

I don’t believe you!

I have been working with a group of managers just recently and considering how and why we trust others and what we need to do in order to be trustworthy and develop trusting relationships.  Heady stuff!

Of course the issue of whether people believe us and trust what we say is a critical to presentations whether these are short introductions, sales pitches or conferences. Imagine sitting in an audience and hearing the words someone is speaking but not believing that they mean those words. Or doubting the person’s intentions or agenda.  Or maybe what we are questioning is that person’s ability to deliver on their promises and claims… I think this happens more times than we sometimes like to admit.

Presenting yourself publicly to groups is a powerful way to build your profile, extend your influence and build relationships – but only if people believe what you say.

So here are my four tips for building trust in presentations:

Tip#1 – Integrity*

Be honest and congruent within yourself.  What I mean by this is your words, your tone and your body language need to be all in line so that what you present is authentic and believable.  If you say you are excited, then look and sound excited.  If you are experienced then you need to sound confident as you say it and back it up with references or examples of your experience. If you are telling people about a colourful and vibrant product then you need to come across as vibrant and engaging.

Tip#2 – Intention*

Be clear about your intentions and that starts off being clear yourself about what the aim of your presentation is about yourself and then letting the audience know.  If you want to sell, then be honest and shape your presentation around the needs of the audience and how your service or product serves them.  If you want to persuade then get into the heads of your audience and find out about their world so you can show them an alternative perspective which benefits them.

People generally HATE being sold to…but they often like to BUY.  So don’t sell to them.  Share with them what you do and how you do it and how it benefits them in their world. And make it SO compelling so that they want to buy

Tip#3  – Capability*

People need to believe that you have the skills, knowledge or expertise to deliver…so make sure that your presentations either demonstrates that ( i.e. in my case it would be very obvious if I didn’t have the skills speaking to groups!) or use stories , examples to demonstrate your capabilities.  This is more than listing your qualifications of course (apart from sounding deadly dull and being a list, people sit and think ‘so what’?.  So what you aim to show is to show how capable you are indirectly.

Tip’#4 – Results*

Ultimately we can talk the talk well but unless we can show how we walk the walk, then we leave an area of doubt in people’s minds.  Tell people, show them, explain to them the results that you achieve – for them and people like them.  Nothing is as persuasive as a proven track record especially one that resonates with the listener…when people have bought your product, what was their wonderful experience.  When they have used your service, what impact did it have on them, their staff, their customers, themselves… results results results (not yours but theirs!)

Aligning both our integrity, our intentions, our capability and our results build trust with our audiences and increases our trust worthiness…what do you think?  So how will you earn the trust of your next audience?  When did you mistrust a speaker?  What did they do or not do?  How did that affect you as you listened  Take care til next time.

* a great book to read around these ideas of trust alignment is Speed of Trust by S M Covey

So last week was my first foray back into the world of networking after the Christmas break.  And despite it being an effort to tear myself away from the desk and the already increasing in-tray, once I got there it was a real pleasure to meet up with old friends, make new contacts and generally immerse myself in finding more about others and their businesses.

This was a particularly well run networking meeting with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, great venue and just the right number of people for it to be pleasant rather than overwhelming.  The women in this group are truly inspiring and the mix of business interests, personalities and stories was energising and uplifting.

So why have I titled this blog 5 Things that get me MAD at networking meetings?  Because time and again I experience frustration at the missed opportunities and bodged introductions when people are asked to talk about their businesses.  Knowing what to say by way of an introduction to your business and how to say with impact are FUNDAMENTAL skills for you as a business leader/owner and even more so if you have built networking into your plan for business growth.

 Maddening Thing #1

People who don’t give eye contact to the group.  Alright, sometimes the room isn’t an ideal layout to get eye contact with everyone but make sure you take charge of your presentation ( even if it is only 60 seconds).  Go and stand where you can see the majority, deliberately make contact with everyone you can at the beginning at least, even if that means checking out the corners of the room.  It is no good delivering your presentation to your notepad, while half of the room can only see the back of your head.

The best introductions I have seen have involved the presenter standing up and engaging as many people as possible before they start, regularly throughout and absolutely at the end.

Find out more about Panic to Poise seminars and using eye contact

Maddening Thing #2.

People who do not make it clear what they do, how this benefits the listener and what sort of business they are looking for. There were a few presentations last week where even now I would struggle to tell you what that business was.  And when you think about it, isn’t this what networking is about – helping others help you in finding contacts and ultimately business? Have a clear idea what your business does that helps your customers and know who your customers are ( not everyone because that is too vague).  Focus on one part of your business if it has different strands and end up your introduction by saying if anyone wants to know more about how this can help their business they should get in touch ( then give your details)

As a contrast there were several presentations last week where not only was I clear how that person could help me, but I learned enough in 60 seconds that I could recommend them to others. ( and I will be doing so)

Find out more about Panic to Poise seminars and how to target your presentations

Maddening Thing # 3

This one is more subtle.  These people were clear about their business but made the mistake of telling us what they did.  And so followed a list of activities they get involved in and services they provide.  If you are asking yourself what’s wrong with this, think for a moment about what engages your attention, what excites you and what is memorable when you listen to introductions.  it is NOT the activities themselves – it is the benefit they bring – either to you or to the people you know.  And the very best introductions focus and acknowledge the world you live in and how their business can help.  You may well be an financial services adviser but unless and until you recognise my world of children who are likely to go to university, my dilemma of whether to save for the future or spend for the present etc – I won’t believe that your business can help ME.

Think about your customers, put yourself in their shoes, describe their world, then tell them what you do that will resonate with them

Find out more about Panic to Poise seminars and how  to engage your audiences

Maddening Thing #4

There were 25 business owners in that networking meeting.  About half of them spoke at that meeting.  I know that there will have been some good reasons why some did not, but I would hazard a guess that for some it was fear of speaking in front of a group. But hang on – isn’t that why we go to networking meetings in the first place.  To raise the profile of our business, make contacts and find suppliers?  It will take an awful long time to do that if you only talk to the people next to you!  Recognise that this fear is holding you back and allowing you to miss out on the opportunity to tell people what you do , share something about you – for them to like you , know you, trust you..  Take steps to overcome this fear – learn what to say and how to say it.  Be bold, stand up, speak out, stand out.

Find out more about Panic to Poise seminars and how to get that confidence to command an audience

What are you going to do at the next networking meeting?  How will you raise your profile?  How will you target your introduction to your customers and make it personal? How much impact will you get?

Panic to Poise is a two hour seminar aimed at helping you be supremely confident when speaking to groups and increasing your impact, your influence and your income.  The next one is on 31st January, Hale Cheshire

Good luck.  I look forward to meeting up.

What do you think is a good networker introduction? What gets you mad at networking events?  Post your comments below. I would love to hear from you.  


Let me wish you a Happy New Year first of all with every best wish for a successful, happy and prospreous 2012

So what happened with my True Love over the festive season then?.  After receiving a heart ful of confidence and joy, two brilliant questions, three ways to aoid ‘umms and aahs’, four stages to answering questions, five golden stars and six reasons to pause..on the seventh day my true love sent to me

Seven ways to open your presentations with ooomph!

Why should you think about this?  Because, and sorry here if I upset you, most people in your audience are not sitting on the edge of their seats eager to hear what you have to say!  They are thinking about the last meeting , the next meeting, the row they had with their partner, their blackberry etc.  You need to get their attention….and quickly.  The seven methods below are some of the easiest ways to grab attention, raise interest and importantly start to get the audience involved from the get-go.  Remember, this is BEFORE you say welcome or thank you or your name.  Enjoy!

1. Ask a question ( rhetorical or you might get more than you bargained for!)

2. Tell a story

3. Use a quote ( but make sure it is relevant, you can remember it and it is short)

4. Make a BIG fact statement

5 Give a BIG fat statisitic

6. Say something controversial

7. Get them to imagine…

So try these out…which is your favourite? which ones would you like to try out but would like more information?  Drop me a line and comment…

In the meantime, check out our next Panic to Poise seminar on 31st January in Cheshire.  All these tips and techniques and much much more…

Best regards



All together now…

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love sent to me… six reasons to pause

Five golden stars

Four steps to answering questions

Three ways of avoiding ‘err’

Two brilliant questions

And a heart full of confidence and joy!

Ok, six reasons to pause…  Imagine the scene.  There you are in an audience, wanting and needing to hear what has to be said.  You lean forward, you see the speaker take a breathe. And they’re off….speaking ten to the dozen, words tumbling out of their mouth, spilling out into the room, gurgling and splattering and careering and bouncing into the air.  No matter how hard you try, it’s hard to keep track:

What was it they said?

How important was that?

Do I agree with that

But doesn’t that mean…?

After a while you stop trying to keep up and soon after that your thoughts start to wander and you look at your watch to see how long it is before you can escape.

You see, audiences need pauses as well as speakers.  Here are three reasons why audiences need pauses:

1. To process the information you have given them

2. To understand the importance of something 

3. To connect what you have just said to something they already know – either a point you have just made or something in their personal experience.  We know that this how people learn best – through connections- but only if we give them time!

And here are three reasons why speakers need to pause:

4 .The most obvious reason is so you can breathe!  We need to breathe so we can let our voices have that wonderful variety and timbre we know keeps audiences engaged and attentive.  We need to breathe so we don’t fall down!  We need to breathe so we stay relaxed and calm and in control.

5 .We need to pause to add impact to what we say.  Think of it as the bold/underline when you are writing.  Pauses add emphasis, make something important., draws attention to a particular point.

6.Pauses add in variety to your tone and pace of voice.  We all know what happens when we listen to a monotonous voice – Zzzzzzzz.  Adding in pauses keeps the pace varied and grabs our attention.

As a final thought for today – here are three occassions to pause.  Try them out next time you speak to a group…

1.  after you ask a question ( direct or rhetorical)

2. Before you make a point that you really want people to take notice of

3. After you have made a point that you want the  audience to remember.

Let me know what your experiences are of listening ( or giving ) presentations where there have been lots of pauses or none at all.  And remember to comment on what questions you want me to cover in the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th days of Christmas

Want to give yourself the opportunity to practice your speaking skills, get feedback and build up a personal, powerful and persuasive speaking style?  Check out Phenomenal Woman Speaking Club…starts in January 2012.

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me….a heart full of confidence and joy

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me …two brilliant questions

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me…three ways of avoiding err

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent  to me…four steps to answering questions

AND on the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me five golden stars…

Hope you sang that with gusto!

Fitting these blogs into numbers is an interesting challenge to each day( to put it mildly)…and this one fits really well with what we talk about on our Panic to Poise seminars – a Five Star approach to preparing and delivering powerful, persuasive and confident presentations.

When we attend a presentations, often we are treated to a one star experience when what we really expect is a five star experience.  Why is it that we are so disappointed?  Because people rarely invest in themselves to hone a set of skills that help them articulate clearly and persuasively their message; because when we are experts we are automatically assumed to have the skills that allow us to talk clearly and confidently about that expertise ( wrong!) and because the majority of people follow a fairly dire convention of presentations which is PowerPoint – led, starts off with boring introductions and even worse tail off endings and in the middle consists of lists and statements whcih are more about what they have to say than with what the audience need to hear.

So here is a quick guide to Five-Star Presentations

Preparation – target your audience and make sure that your presentations take into account their world with all its problems, challenges, delights and issues.  How can what you are delivering help and benefit them to make their lives better, easier, profitable, efficient ?  See the Second day of Christmas..

Participation – make sure that your audience participate in your presentations mentally, emotionally or even physically.  When the audience are engaged and involved in what you are saying , then they will remember, be influenced by and take action.  How can you get your audience thinking, feeling and doing in your presentations?  I suspect my true love might have some suggestions later in the week but just to keep you going, think how you can ask your audience rhetorical questions to get them thinking, how you can make them imagine to get them feeling and how you can ask them to put their hands up to physically involve them.

Pathways. – Audiences need to understand you as you speak and remember you afterwards.  So having a sound structure makes a lot of sense. And it needs to be more than that as well.  You need to build a structure that persuades because it is organised the way people listen and learn, a structure that has a flow to it and works with the audience ( rather than talking at the audience) and a structure that is based on the key messages you want to deliver rather than bullet pointed facts on a slide.  We share at our Phenomenal Woman Experience weekend a Pathway Planner which ‘chunks’ your material into digestible sections and links them up again using verbal signposts and non verbal signals ( let me know if you want more on this on one of the days of Christmas left)

Persuasive Language – tempting as it might be to keep the spontaneity of a presentation by not rehearsing or thinking about language in advance ( !)  a truly impacting and influential presentation will use language carefully and specifically to put across a message.   What stories can you tell to put across your message or deal with objections subtly, what tag questions can you add in ( can’t you, don’t we?, wouldn’t he?) that get people agreeing, what presuppositions can you phrase so that people focus where you need them to?

And finally…Perfect Poise.  Delivering a presentation in a state of mind which balances your focus (on the audience’s needs) your language ( inside your head as well as the actually words you say out loud) and your physiology ( standing, spine elongated, feet firmly on the ground, head up right).  Remember if you want your audience to be alert, interested and relaxed, then you need to be  in the same state.  So adopt a confident posture, focus on the audience and use language about what you can do and what outcomes you want from the presentation.


Tune in tomorrow for the sixth day..wonder what my true love will send us?  If you have a suggestion for future days, drop me a line and feel free to add your comments on this and previous posts.Still thinking of ways of including chocolate into the gifts ( thank you Jan)



Well it is day four and my true love is at it again…


On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me..a heart full of confidence and joy

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me ..two brilliant questions

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me…three alternatives to err

And on the fourth day of Christmas my true love sent to me……FOUR steps to answering questions ( yes, I know it doesn’t scan but stick with it!)

Step One:  Acknowledge the answer.  This important even if you know the answer and in your head you are saying easy peasy.  It is important if you don’t know the answer and in your head you are saying oh heck.  And it is important if in your head you are seriously questioning the questioner’s intelligence.  it is is important because it is respectful, it gives the questioner ‘significance’ and above all it gives you time to consider and think..  So a pause is great or phrases like, ‘ thank you ‘, that’s a great question’ no one has asked me that before, let me think’, Hmm, a challenging one…’

Step Two: Frame your answer to give it structure.  We do this so that it makes sense , not just to us or the questioner but to everyone else as well.  By framing I mean using words and phrases like, ‘ there are two issues here…’, I guess that highlights three things…’, I think what you are asking is…’

Step Three: Answer the question ( if you know the answer. If you don’t say so and add in some action on your part ie you will find out or chat over coffee).  While you answer the question, start off by looking at the questioner, then look at the whole audience as you answer .  This will mean all the audience is included and participates in the answer. If you only answer the questioner, everyone else will switch off and get ready to leave!

Step Four: Return your eye contact to the questioner and check that you have answered the question.  Sometimes you will then want to break off eye contact because you do not want a follow up question or you wish to give someone else a chance to ask a question.  You can check in with he questioner either by asking if you have answered their question or simply by nodding and moving on.

So, what shall we do on the fifth day of Christmas.  Post your comments and suggestions below.

Thank you to Useful Graphics for the fab FREE pictures