Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes received more attention than the biggest Hollywood stars. It was powerful because of her use of proven techniques for inspirational messages. Let’s break down her five key techniqes.
1. Be authentic.
“…a kid watching from the cheap seats as my mom came through the door bone tired from cleaning other people’s houses.”
By sharing about her real life, especially the not-so-glamorous, Oprah becomes relatable.
2. Be vulnerable.
“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”
Speaking the truth can leave you vulnerable. Vulnerability shared breeds trust.
3. Use emotion-laden words.
“under siege” “a blind eye to corruption” “to tyrants and victims and secrets and lies” “ how we love and how we rage”
Strong emotion is captivating and memorable. Why be bland when you can be powerful?
4. Paint a story.
“In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house”
Oprah didn’t say, “I was watching t.v.” Instead, she added the sensory detail so that we could be in the story with her.
5. Challenge everyone to act.
"Become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “me too” again.”
Build to the final moment with a clear call to action. Your message isn’t enough if your listeners don’t do anything about it after they leave the room.
Craft your next speech with these techniques in mind and be a superstar with your audience!
The stage lights were positioned in the worst possible way - making it almost impossible for me to see my audience. I was silently wishing for a baseball cap but instead settled for squinting into the large auditorium. It is always important to me to be able to see my participants, but especially when I am about to ask a question. So I asked my question, stepped strategically into a less debilitating spot and peered out at my group to look for an answer.
Not a single hand was raised.
Is this a presenter's nightmare or an opportunity to boost your value? I choose to view it as an opportunity, and here's how you can, too.
1. If someone's hand is up immediately, we are tempted to call on that person and move forward. In doing so, we are cheating other participants from some "think time." If you truly want your audience to remember the information, they must have processing time.
2. Wait time, the seconds that elapse between asking a question and accepting a response, is critical for learners who process more slowly and deeply. This often includes members of your audience who are introverts. It may take them a bit longer to be ready to share their thoughts, but when they do, their answers are usually of higher quality than those of the speedy hand raisers.
3. If we ask, "Are there any questions?" and don't allow wait time, a fairly large portion of our audience will end up walking away with unanswered questions. Back on the job, these unanswered questions can turn into costly mistakes and failed initiatives. However, if you ask "What are the questions you still have?" and wait at least 5-8 seconds, you are sure to have a few surface.
Wait time is an essential skill for any presenter, manager or facilitator of adult learning. Try to practice your wait time skills this week by counting to 8 after asking a question. Become comfortable with the silence by remembering the value it creates.
You’re in front of a large audience. The presentation is on a roll. You are in a rhythm that feels right to you and your confidence is building. Suddenly a hand shoots up – too obvious to ignore. You finish your thought and decide to take the question.
What do you dread the most?
Questions, even well intentioned ones, can be a challenge for presenters. Having a collection of responses at the ready will help decrease any hesitation you feel about taking questions from your audience. Here are 10 of my favorite responses to questions, depending on the situation. For my Question Cheat Sheet, click here , print a copy and leave it on your presentation table for quick reference when a question arises.
1. Thank you for your question.
Avoid saying, “That’s a great question,” unless you will respond to each question with that same descriptor.
2. Let’s ask the audience for a response first. Turn and talk with your neighbor about that for a moment.
This gives you time to take a deep breath and think about your answer. Then you can ask people to share out and add your own answer if necessary.
3. I’d like to clarify with a few follow-up questions.
Ask for more information so you are fully informed and not making assumptions or responding to a question that was misleading.
4. I will give you a short answer now, but address it in more depth later today.
Don’t just put them off until later, as it doesn’t affirm their need to be heard.
5. I’d love to give you a detailed answer, so will you please come see me at the break? Your audience will love you for this if it is a question that is very unique to that individual or off-topic.
6. Would you please write that question on a sticky note and place it on our parking lot chart? I promise to address it a bit later.
Before you start your presentation, set up a chart on the wall where people can post their questions. Be sure to check it several times throughout your session. You can also use technology for this, such as www.todaysmeet.com
7. I can hear the frustration (anger, worry, etc.) in your question.
Acknowledge the emotion before moving ahead with your answer. In doing so you are honoring what they are feeling, rather than appear to be brushing it off.
8. I’m not sure of the answer, but I will look it up and get back to you.
Admitting this shows the audience your human side and your willingness to be vulnerable. This is especially helpful if you are asking them to be vulnerable in learning something new or accepting a major change.
9. I don’t have the answer on the tip of my tongue, but I know where to access it. Let me get back to you with it at the break.
Your audience doesn’t expect you to have every fact memorized. It is completely acceptable to look up references, research, minute details - just be sure to follow through.
10. Does anyone in the audience want to share their answer to this?
Depending on your audience, you may have experts or local authorities who are in a better position to answer the question. You may also need to be in sync with their policies or positions.
For additional ideas, gift yourself a copy of my book Caffeinated Learning. You (and your audiences) deserve it! So do your colleagues or staff - a great holiday gift!
Variety works when teaching adults in sessions that last longer than ten minutes. While it is important to use multiple methods for content delivery, each of the most popular has advantages and disadvantages. Successful presenters and facilitators take these into consideration when designing and conducting presentations or classes.
Click here for my chart on the 10 most popular methods, their advantages and disadvantages, and tips for making these methods most effective.
Webinars have a well-deserved reputation for being dry, slow, and an opportunity for multi-tasking. Let’s destroy that reputation and add some simple ways to wake people up and increase learning. I call these more powerful webinars "Engaginars."
Here are screenshots of 3 slides that I used in a recent webinar to get attendees participating. (I use dozens of other ideas, too. Check out this blog post to learn more and/or join me for my presentation at ATD2018.) The concepts are applicable to any content you are presenting in your webinar, and each has research to support its use.
Astros or Dodgers? No matter which team you root for, baseball fans and trainers everywhere can learn some important lessons from this series.
1. Warm Ups are Essential
The wear and tear on the muscles during a long season is a major concern. Proper warm ups help to prevent muscle damage and lost time in the game. Neuroscientists and learning researchers tell us that this is true for ongoing professional learning, too. Warming up the neural pathways by activating prior knowledge will ensure that your players stay in the game.
Here’s a favorite warm-up exercise.
2. Highs and Lows are Common
The lead shifts back and forth during the game, giving fans a marathon of highs and lows. This roller coaster of emotions keeps us on the edge of our seat, wondering what is next. Successful trainers build this tension into ongoing professional learning activities. Debates, inconsequential competition and humor are all simple ways to add an emotional element that will keep your learners coming back for more.
3. Some people need extra innings
The unpredictability of the game is balanced by a structure that allows for adaptability. Extra innings, while unusual, are occasionally necessary. Game 5, with its 10 inning marathon, lasted as long as it took to get to the win. Successful trainers proactively build in structures that allow for learners to advance at different paces.
4. Errors Happen
The longer the game runs, the more likely errors will occur. Most trainers can be at the top of their game for a brief presentation, but long-term, multi-session classes are likely to show up a few weaknesses. Have you considered what yours are? Is it group management? Adding in movement? Infusing variety? Players get coached on error patterns. What are you doing to reduce yours?
Check out some group management tips here.
5. Expect fly balls
Fly balls occur almost 50% of the time during a game. Fielders try to anticipate the fly, get under it as quickly as possible and be in perfect position to catch it. Successful trainers also anticipate questions that will be flying at them and are prepared to provide solid answers.
Here’s a recommendation for how to field questions.
6. Endurance is Necessary
By the time the World Series begins, pitchers and other players are approaching the edge of what the body can tolerate. The winners must have incredible physical and psychological endurance. Facilitating a multi-session class also requires endurance. Adult learners need our very best performance at each session, not just during the first. Try adding novelty to each session to invigorate everyone involved.
7. Celebrations are Valuable
Teammates are frequently seen sharing their excitement over the small wins. Whether it is a high five in the dug out or an excited scrum on the field, celebrations don’t need to wait until the big parade. Smart trainers find or create small moments to celebrate learner contributions and growth. I keep a stash of Lifesavers, Paydays and other inexpensive items to toss out as a thank you for contributions to the group. I also will ask my participants to join me in a round of applause for someone who has been a good sport. These little moments matter and add to the overall feeling of success.
Do you have adult learners in your classes or seminars that have difficulty staying on task?
Neuroscientists tell us that the act of reflecting on your learning and seeing progress towards a goal releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine* is the neurotransmitter linked to sustained attention and perseverance.
Help your learners stay on task by using the Progress Bar strategy. At the beginning of the class, provide participants with a progress bar handout. Ask them to write in their learning objectives for the course, and then reflect on their current knowledge or skill related to that objective. Next, direct them to shade in a percentage,0% representing no knowledge and 100% representing expert knowledge. Midway through the class, ask them to reflect again and shade in their progress. As you near the end of the day, ask them to do one final reflection.
As an added bonus, progress bars provide you with information about how confident your learners feel and who may need additional instruction.
*Dopamine is also considered one of the “feel good” chemicals.
For a Progress Bar Handout click here.
Have you played the popular app game 4 Words 1 Pic? The goal is to guess the common word that connects all four pictures that are shown on the screen. For example, what word do you think connects the four pictures below?
While trying to solve the puzzle, you were activating your prior knowledge about the topic, looking for similarities and differences, and summarizing your thinking into one essential word. This process is extremely beneficial for learners of all ages and helps to cement information. (If you guessed “sleep” you are correct!)
How easy this puzzle strategy is to add to your live presentations or webinars. Simply search copyright free images on Google or another site using a key word in your presentation. For example, if you want to emphasize the word teamwork, you might present something like this:
Too easy? Adjust the level of challenge to keep everyone engaged! For added emphasis, present several puzzles in a row that build to the most important message, like this:
Give it a try! I'd love to see the slides you create, so Tweet them and tag me @annebeninghof. For more ideas of how to weave puzzles into your presentations, click here.
A) use your hands while you speak?
B) use an iPad to demonstrate and reflect annotations?
C) need your hands free to hand out prizes, materials or to offer a high five?
D) do two or more of the above?
A, B, and C all apply to my presentation style. Thankfully, for most of my presentations, I have a wireless, clip-on microphone so that my hands are free. While I always ask my client in advance for a clip-on mic, I occasionally show up at a presentation site that does not have one. I feel so restricted by having to hold a microphone during my presentation.
I found a solution! About a month ago I purchased a hands-free brace to carry with me. It only weighs a few ounces and takes up very little room in my case. Just last week I arrived at a location and was given a hand-held mic to use for the day. No worries! I just whipped out my brace, and was ready to go. It was comfortable, effective and left my hands free to do anything else I needed. Well worth the $9.00 to be prepared!
For more ideas, check out my blog on gestures and my blog on a great annotation tool for presenting with an iPad.
Quiet reflection can be a productive learning and problem solving strategy, especially for introverts. In Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain provides a compelling argument for our need to seek ways to more proactively include employees who are not as extroverted or assertive about their ideas.
Collaborative Annotation, also known as trio annotation, is a structured approach for sharing thoughts without the cacophony of a group discussion. Here’s how it works:
I have used this strategy twice in the last few weeks and found that the resulting discussion and ideas were richer and more productive than would have occurred if we had gone right to discussion first. It clearly made it easier for the introverts in the group to have their voices heard.
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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