Zia Zaman: How a World-Class Speaker brings Storytelling, Experimentation & Empathy into Business

Any businessperson understands the value of selling and the art of storytelling. They are indispensable and inevitable, yet only a few have truly honed this skill. Read on as Zia Zaman, a World-Renowned Innovation Speaker from Beaver Lake Capital, shares his experience on how he uses stories to connect with customers, drive innovation and inspire change.

In this interview, Zia reflects and illustrates how a great leader:

  1. Has a high tolerance for failure, constantly experimenting with ways to improve.
  2. Uses storytelling to attract and engage audiences. 
  3. Is a life-long learner, exposes him/herself to new knowledge. 
  4. Leads with empathy, considering other’s perspectives as much as him/herself.
  5. Strives to live in the moment.

How important are storytelling skills to you as a leader? How have you applied it in your work?

Storytelling is a fascinating leadership tool. It is essential to selling. We are always selling as executives. We are selling our vision. We are selling our solutions. We are selling when we are recruiting. And we are selling when we are seeking capital or an affirmative decision.

Understanding how to sell, how to pitch, how to connect with people is essential. The process of telling a narrative to explain the vision or the future and then working backwards to say how we are going to get there is a technique I have often used.

An example of this future-back planning occurred with a sovereign wealth fund who asked me to help them work on visioning. I asked its board and its leadership group to roll the clock forward three years and describe how they want to have impacted their countrymen. This forced them to take a broader, wider aperture view on what they wanted to achieve, and then we looked at vectors we could implement today to start on that journey.

Outside of business, I like to write. Memoirs are an amazing way to bring people through your journey to empathize with you and to inspire followership.

What would you say has been the greatest lesson so far as a leader in your work?

The greatest lesson I’ve learned or been given as a leader, I suppose is the idea that you have to test and learn. Iteration is the key. Don’t be afraid of failure, find ways to de-risk the future. Apply methodologies and new mindsets to change the way we work and to embrace change through a more iterative philosophy – early and frequent interaction, testing and delivery.

When one fails early to learn fast and iterate in order to shrink future risk exponentially.  I sometimes refer to this incremental philosophy by referencing a maths heuristic called “the greedy algorithm”.

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Someday I should write a book about all its applications in life.

What would you say was your greatest difficulty/sacrifice faced as a leader so far? How did you overcome it?

The greatest difficulty I’ve faced as a leader so far is creating work-life balance. I have constantly tried to balance the unending needs of work and travel and innovating for the customer with the very personal needs to stay well, fit, and to take care of my family.

In particular, I have a son who has required additional attention from me at multiple points in my career and I have found it difficult to juggle everything. One solution is to stop juggling. I am able to authentically share the challenges I face as the father of a special needs kid and allow people to get to know the whole me as a leader.

It has brought me into a more prominent role chairing Diversity & Inclusion for my company and it has forced me to take a step back three times in my career. While these sacrifices may have seemed like trade-offs at the time, I know that my career and my leadership abilities have only benefited from these decisions to take a step back and focus on the more important things.

Moreover, being a man supporting his wife’s decision to pursue her career should not seem exemplary or unusual and I am happy to role model this gender-neutral behaviour.

In your opinion, what makes a great leader?

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Leadership is about followership. Leadership is more than management as it relates to how you relate to strategic uncertainty. And for me, great leaders are constantly learning, evolving, iterating, failing, and developing new skills.

To lead, one has to instil a sense of purpose, meaning and a vision around how collectively a team can move forward. This way we can draw in people who subscribe to this vision, this purpose, this individual’s style, vision, and magnetism – and creates something greater than the sum of the parts.

Strategic uncertainty is the difference between management and leadership. A good manager operates under known circumstances and follows standard operating procedures well and excels when benchmarked against widely accepted best practices.

A good manager manages teams to deliver results effectively in situations with low uncertainty and where strategic decisions/pivots are not present. A great leader does all the above and can manage through a pivot by motivating and guiding his/her teams through change, by dealing with uncertainty through testing and learning, and who leads by example through a crisis, an opportunity, or an unexpected event.

This requires the leader to identify “Pull the Goalie”-type risks, where one is under pressure to perform a turnaround. This means making unpopular risky decisions that require courage.

Leaders evolve. Good managers hone their existing skills. Leaders are constantly challenging themselves to try new things, are hyper curious, work out loud, are social and authentic – which shows vulnerability, change, and a tolerance for failure.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

The best piece of advice I have ever received is not really business advice at all.

In fact, it counters some of the work I do as a futurist or strategist. It is to Live in the Moment. If we breathe, and we are alert and present right now, we can find peace and be our full selves and be successful.

I use this technique sometimes before speaking in front of very large crowds. I remind myself to breathe, to enjoy the moment, to speak slowly, and finally to have fun.

If you had to offer a piece of advice to someone just starting out or who aspires to lead a team/organisation. What advice would you give?

One of my favourite pieces of advice for a first-time manager or aspiring leader is empathy.

Try to understand the world from others’ point of view. Think about how your employees see the world. Take the business partner’s point of view from their side of the negotiating table to look for a win-win.

Finally, truly put yourself in the shoes of your customers to understand what they really need in their lives and then obsessively focus your efforts and your team’s efforts to solve their problems. Do that and you will be wildly fulfilled.

What have you started trying this year that has been working well for you as a leader?

Meditation has been working for me. I just started committing to my practice this year. Perhaps, it’s changed me for the better as a leader because I am more present and more attentive to my team members? The simplest aspect of the technique, which I have used, is the ability to declutter.

For example, before judging at a startup panel, a simple meditation can increase your focus or link you to your purpose, before you start something that would reflexively be evaluative.

Share with us something you learned recently that changed how you intend to run your team/business.

I suppose the full recognition of our collective human impact on the planet Earth has made an indelible mark on me, my choices, and how I and my teams need to keep this in mind in everything that we do.

Successful companies will embrace change and suggest solutions that are confluent with the key principles of equality, the environment, inclusion, and sustainability.

What is one book you would recommend that every new leader or storyteller be reading?

Creativity, Inc is a few years old but still so relevant for innovators. It’s the story behind Pixar.

Now, more on Zia’s backstory:

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What’s your story?

I have spent 27 years, across three continents as a corporate executive leading growth, strategy, and most recently as a chief innovation officer. I was lucky enough to be able to speak across the world at WEF Davos, IIF, Global Summit for Women, Milken, InsurTech Connect, RISE, InsurTech Rising, Digital Hollywood, Consumer Electronics Show, and UN Women. Much of my inspiration for new thinking sprouted on the two campuses where he studied, Stanford and MIT, and since then I have written about probability, traveling salesmen, small towns in Asia, parenting special needs children, The Price Is Right, innovation, and hockey.

How did you get into your current line of work/ why did you decide to do it?

After spending 22 years in the software industry, I decided to pivot and take on a role in an insurance company, to build an innovation lab. Out of my ambition to do something that no one has done before, I founded LumenLab and it has been a wonderful award-winning success story for six years. Now, in late-2020, it’s time to reframe. I expect to be working on ESG, potentially helping grow companies’ impact, especially around preventative health and inclusion.

How can people connect with you?

@zzaman – Twitter

How to Compress PowerPoint Presentations in 2020 : The Complete Guide For Mac and Windows

Imagine this – it’s late at night and you’re finishing up your last few slides for your big presentation tomorrow. You’ve done your final check and your pitch deck is all ready to be sent out. You are finally satisfied with how it looks and click the send button.

To your horror, the email bounces back.

Why? Large attachments are one of the most common causes for bounced emails that never reach their intended recipient. These huge files can cause difficulties in sending out emails or even online uploading in a tense, urgent situation. Especially in corporate organizations, email filters tend to block large attachments for security’s sake. More than 80% of the time, the cause of the file-bulk are the large images that you insert in PowerPoint or your export format of choice.

“But… if I don’t include images, my presentation is going to look boring and ugly”

You’re not wrong there. We encourage our clients and even presentation skills training learners to use more visuals and images in their presentations. If you still want to include some images to ensure your presentation design looks great, what do you do? Worse, in plenty of PowerPoint training courses in the market, few actually teach you different ways to compress your PowerPoint files before sending as an attachment via email or only cover it on Windows or OSX.

Fear not, here’s how you can reduce the size of your PowerPoint file and save space.

This also ensures that your presentation/PowerPoint files reach their intended recipient.

How to Compress PowerPoint (.PPT) Files On Apple OSX Machines

If you own a Mac but still need to use PowerPoint for work, you’re in luck. There are a few ways of compressing PowerPoint files to fit your file limit in organisations with email filters so you won’t need to use file-sharing services like DropBox or Wetransfer.

HOW TO COMPRESS POWERPOINT ON MAC OSX

Method One : Compressing All photos on PowerPoint

More often than not, PowerPoint balloons in size because of the high-resolution stock photography that you might include in your presentation. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to quickly compress these files across the whole file or singular files in PowerPoint.

How To Compress All Photos/Images On PowerPoint

Step 1: On the file menu, click “reduce compress pictures”
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Step 2: Select your compression size according to the table”
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Unless you’re intending to print the PowerPoint file, you shouldn’t have photos sized at 220ppi. We’ve found that the best setting in most cases is 150ppi – such that it preserves minimal quality for use. If you’re really in the need of smaller sizes, using 96ppi is your last resort.

Step 3: Select ‘Delete Cropped Area’
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Step 4: Choose “all pictures in this file” and Click “Ok” ‘
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You’ll have the option to either compress all images or only selected ones. If you have critical images that cannot be downsampled, choose the latter.

HOW TO COMPRESS POWERPOINT ON MAC OSX

Method Two : Using Picture Format

A more surgical selection of which pictures you’d like to resize in your PowerPoint Presentation. Do note that this is, in fact, the same method of compressing the images but gives you more control as to which photos you want to compress and leave the ones you don’t want to in higher resolution.

How To Compress PowerPoint using picture format

1. Select the “Picture Format” tab when selecting one or a few images

compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

2. Click on the Adjust button
compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

3. Select Compress Pictures
compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

4. Select your compression size according to the table
compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

5. Select “delete cropped area”
compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

6. Choose “all pictures in this file”

7. Click “Ok”
compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

Alternatively, if you wish to be selective about the photos being compressed, PowerPoint provides another option to compress only specific images. Under steps 4 and 6 respectively, you will be able to choose between the option of all pictures or just a selective few. However, if you wish to retain the size of the slides and still send it to people, you can consider zipping the file. Most of the time, people choose this option in order to keep the resolution at its highest without compromising it.

HOW TO COMPRESS POWERPOINT ON MAC OSX

Method Three : Compressing Images Before Inserting into PowerPoint To Preserve Small Size

A more surgical selection of which pictures you’d like to resize in your PowerPoint Presentation. Do note that this is, in fact, the same method of compressing the images but gives you more control as to which photos you want to compress and leave the ones you don’t want to in higher resolution.

Image Compression Method 1: Reduce the size of images losslessly using browser applications

Tools like Tinyjpeg, Tinypng and Smallpdf are great to reduce the size of your files without installing any additional applications on your machine.

Image Compression Method 2: Optimize the dimensions of your presentation images before inserting into PowerPoint

This step is most commonly overlooked by most executives simply because it’s pretty tedious. It involves ‘pre-cropping’ the images you plan to insert into your presentation even before you try any of the methods before this. a) The first step is to determine the max dimensions of your slide. You can do this by accessing the ‘slide size’ in the ‘design’ tab.

compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

b) Enter ‘Page Setup’ when navigating into ‘Slide Size’ to identify the dimensions of each slide. If you’re using any of the typical slide dimensions like Standard (4:3) or Widescreen (16:9), typically the safe dimension is 1024px x 768px and 1280px 720px respectively. c) The very next step is to start cropping the images to fit within the slide dimensions. For example, if your image is 3000px x 2000px, cropping it down to size will save you a lot of space. Using sites like https://imageresize.org/, you can quickly resize images to fit your slide canvas. At the same time, if you’re using raster editing programs like Adobe Photoshop, you can easily reduce the dimensions of your images before saving. Otherwise, site-based tools work too.

HOW TO COMPRESS POWERPOINT ON MAC OSX

Method Four : Zipping Up Files To Compress Size Of PowerPoint

This method is best performed at the end and works regardless of whether you actually compressed the images prior or not. It doesn’t do much other than reduce the size of the single file or a combination of files in a .zip package to send via email.

How To Compress PowerPoint by zipping the file

Step 1: Right-click on selected PowerPoint file and select ‘Compress’
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Step 2: You should see a ‘.zip’ file created in the location
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Just like that, your file archive is ready to be sent out! Not a Mac user? Fret not! While we do most of our work on MacBooks, we occasionally use other laptops under the Windows operating system as well. For Windows users, the way to reduce file size for Powerpoint presentations can be a little different but follow the steps below and you’re on your way.

How to Compress PowerPoint Files (.PPT) On Windows OS Machines

PowerPoint was developed originally mainly for Windows users – it’s no surprise that many Windows users are also looking to compress their presentations and may run into brick walls during the process.

HOW TO COMPRESS POWERPOINT ON WINDOWS OS

Method One : Compress Images In Picture Format

The approach here to compress your PowerPoint file is very similar to the way it’s done in Mac where you can compress all the images in PowerPoint files with just a few clicks.

How To Compress windows powerpoint using picture format

1. Select an image or picture in the slides

2. Click the Picture Tools tab on the top ribbon

compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

3. Next, select the Format tab

4. Under the adjust segment, click on the Compress icon

compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

5. Select your preferred compression size

compressing powerpoint, reducing file size, compress ppt

6. Select “delete cropped area”

7. Choose “all pictures in this file”

8. Click “Ok”

That’s it! Notice the big difference in size? Now, you’ll be able to send out the emails without worrying about large attachments bogging you down. These handy ways to cut down on file size have been a lifesaver for us at work, and we surely hope they’ll be helpful for you as well. Let us know if you have discovered other methods in the comments section below!

Powerful Sales Presentations: 7 Best Practices

Guy Kawasaki, an author and venture capitalist, once said, “Enchantment is the purest form of sales. Enchantment is all about changing people’s hearts, minds and actions because you provide them a vision or a way to do things better. The difference between enchantment and simple sales is that with enchantment you have the other person’s best interests at heart, too.”

A good sales presentation, otherwise known as a sales pitch, is often the distinguishing factor of a successful company that has all of its prospective buyers in the palm of its hand. In today’s rapidly changing market, where approximately 100 million new businesses are started every year by aspiring entrepreneurs with so much to offer, just staying afloat can be a struggle sometimes.

If what you’re looking for is a way to rise above the rest, help is here — because this article is going to teach you the art of delivering a stunning sales pitch.

How To Create Powerful Sales Presentations

If you’re just starting out, don’t worry, we’re going to tell you exactly what you need to do. Making your sales pitch compelling really isn’t rocket science, and it’s going to come naturally once you get the hang of it!

1. Understand Your Audience, Tailor Your Presentation

In most cases, you already know the group of people that you will be pitching to. Take advantage of that and spend some time learning about them: familiarize yourself with their backgrounds, read up on their industries, and get to know them a little better through checking their business websites or searching them online. For a small group of audience, you should be able to do more in-depth background research. However, this tip works even with a significantly larger group of people, even though you might not be able to probe as much. If possible, find out who your rival companies are and in your presentation, not only demonstrate how the product that you’re selling is perfect for people with their backgrounds, but also how it has a competitive edge over other companies. Your selling point should be focused on a specific feature that your audience can benefit from most.

2. Brevity is the Soul of Wit

The people listening to your sales pitch are likely to be those with authority, or have the power to influence the decision makers — which is why you’re pitching to them. Be mindful that these are people with busy schedules and are not new to sales pitches, so make a list of crucial information that would be essential in pushing your sale beforehand and adhere closely to it. Avoid going off-tangent or going to extreme lengths to try to impress them. Most importantly, always ask questions and address their specific concerns so that the entire interaction happens on a more intimate level. This makes for an effective sales presentation, as it reflects the notion that you understand your clients’ needs, and also enriches your personal learning experience. Always make sure you:

  1. Address how your product covers any specific needs that they have
  2. Acknowledge any reservations or doubts that they might have
  3. Accept their feedback if anything falls short and use that to fine-tune your product/presentation

3. Know When to be a Storyteller

Everybody loves a story — good stories, when told at the right situations, can evoke emotional responses from people. People are more engaged when they hear personal narratives as compared to a list of hard facts, because it allows them to connect with you on a more personal and meaningful level. It helps them see who you are beyond a salesman trying to get them to buy something from you; you have depth, history.

The fun part is, you get to choose how you want to incorporate the element of storytelling into your pitch! You can choose to deliver your presentation in the form of a story, or you can choose to build your product on a series of anecdotes, there are so many ways it can be done. Infuse humour whenever a window opens for it, and appeal to your audience through personal narrations.

Remember: Remind them that you’re so much more than just another salesman.

4. Remember the Power of Three

While it is tempting to pack all the benefits of your product into your slide deck, keep in mind that good sales presentations should never neglect the power of three:

  • Your pitch should contain no more than three big, central ideas
  • Each individual slide should contain no more than three pieces of information

It has been proven time and time again that there’s just something about the power of three — making three points — that really resonates with the human brain. Things that come in threes are just more satisfying, more memorable, and more effective. Any more than three, and you might find yourself losing the attention of your audience.

5. Include Relevant Examples, Evidence, and Data

All words and no proof makes your entire sales presentation weak and flimsy, so be sure to back up your claims with plenty of evidence. Include relevant examples and present your data in the form of charts or graphs, whichever would make them most easily comprehensible with one look. Additionally, instead of giving generic descriptions of what your product can do for your clients, provide specific examples of how your product has helped people of similar backgrounds achieve what they want.

Ideally, ask satisfied customers for referrals to other potential prospects. Referrals are more likely to end up in a sale as prior bridges have already been built, and nothing works better than the good old ethos.

6. Pursuing the Next Steps

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Never be too eager to pressure potential clients into sealing any deals. Understand that they might still have some doubts, and be flexible with your options instead of rushing them straight into a commitment. Be open to offering alternatives such as free trials or demos, and let them know they can take a bit more time to consider the product because you truly have their interests at heart. As long as you are pursuing a next step together, it’s a win. Showing them that you genuinely believe in the product you are selling will also go a long way.

7. A Good Slogan Sticks for a Long Time

Last but not least, do your best to come up with a catchy slogan that is not only related to, but also reminiscent of your product. If you’ve ever had the experience of having a particular song or tune stuck in your head and finding yourself humming along without even realizing it, this is the exact same effect that a quality slogan can have. Impress your audience with an applaudable presentation, but make that impression a lasting one with a slogan that sticks in their heads and pops up when they’re not expecting it. Before you know it, you’ve already charmed your way into their hearts.

You’ll see that it’s not all that difficult to find your place in a market that never sleeps. Just remember, for a powerful sales presentation, make sure you:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Get to the point
  3. Be engaging
  4. Condense your information
  5. Include relevant evidence
  6. Pursue a further relationship
  7. End with a catchy slogan

All it takes is a little bit of practice and voila, watch as the magic happens. Good luck!

15 Pro Tips To Ace Your Keynote Presentation

Keynote presentations can be terrifying for some of us. We fear messing up, looking bad on camera, forgetting our notes… The list of nightmares just doesn’t end.

While it’s not possible to have an entirely foolproof plan, we can minimize the number of ways where things can go wrong. So if you have an important keynote presentation coming up, here are some of our tips to help you out.

How to Ace Your Keynote Presentation

We’ll give you a concise guide on what you should be doing, from the time you start planning to the time you conclude your speech. Take these 15 quick tips and master them so you can deliver a stunning keynote presentation in no time!

1. Know Your Purpose

Before you start creating the layout of your slides or typing out the content of your speech, take some time to ask yourself — what is the purpose of your keynote presentation? What is the takeaway that you want the audience to have after your presentation? Essentially, you need to ask yourself, “What is my message?”. While it feels like time is ticking away, rushing into your slides will backfire in the long run. You need to ensure that the intention behind this presentation is clear and focused, as that would help you in creating a keynote presentation with clarity and confidence.

2. Be Confident

rawpixel 974558 unsplashA genuine smile makes you look at ease and approachable

Ever heard of the phrase, ‘fake it till you make it’? Now’s a great time to take that advice! A significant factor in determining the success of your keynote presentation is your audience’s trust in you, and to gain their trust, you need to be confident in yourself first. Confidence in presentations comes from two sources: your posture, and your mastery of the content you are presenting. For posture, remember not to fidget and stand in a relaxed position. Stretch for a couple of minutes before presenting to loosen yourself up. As for your content, be sure to know the subject of your presentation like the back of your hand; read up as much as possible and do not start on it last minute.

3. Give Your Credentials

When introducing yourself, simply sharing your organization and position is not enough; if your audience wants to know where you’re from, all they need is a quick search online. What they do want to know however, is why you are the best person to deliver this presentation, and what you have to offer them. By sharing this, your audience will know that you’re knowledgeable in the field you’re presenting on, and that you have the solution to their needs or problems. Doing this will not only make your audience lean a little closer, but will also give you a great segue to move them into the next part of your presentation.

4. Deliver Your Hook

Research shows that the audience will stop listening to a presentation within 10 minutes if they are not persuaded that there is something in it for them. It is therefore important that you “hook” your audience by convincing them that they can benefit from your keynote presentation. You can do this by showing your audience that the key idea behind your presentation has the ability to make them feel happy or successful.

5. Introduce Your Agenda

At the start of your speech, be sure to let your audience know what the takeaway of your message is. Dedicate a slide to show your audience the agenda, and when presenting, remember not to read from the slides! Instead, offer a brief and general summary of your presentation. Give your audience the direction of your presentation, as this will allow them to follow your content better.

6. Ensure Smooth Transitions

Transitions are like sign posts that guide your audience throughout your speech, so they must be easy to follow, the last thing you need is a confused audience! Unclear transitions can be a nightmare as it may potentially distort the content of your presentation. In the end, the audience grasps only bits and pieces of your message, or worse, gives up on following your presentation. This applies not just to the visual effects that PowerPoint has, but also to the words you use. When transitioning from point to point, use words such as ‘next’, ‘then’, and ‘after’, and number your points using words like ‘firstly’, ‘secondly’, and ‘thirdly’. This will help the audience understand when you’re moving on to another idea or part of your presentation.

7. Give a Credible Statement

If you wish to gain your audience’s trust and establish a professional relationship with them, you need to get them to buy into your presentation. One way would be through giving credible statements that support your message. This can come in the form of data, or in the form of professional advice from experts in the field of your presentation. For example, make use of graphs and statistics to show the importance of a certain situation, and share quotes from someone with authority in a similar (if not the same) industry to backup your statements.

8. Use Images for Maximum Impact

The beauty of well-selected images lies in their ability to communicate a message without throwing dozens of words at an audience, so use them to your advantage! Select photos that encapsulate the message of your keynote presentation, or to highlight a specific idea that you’re sharing. Images that look simple can deliver the most powerful messages, and do what words sometimes cannot achieve — stir emotions in an audience. However, while images are a great tool, moderation is key. Stay away from photos that have been used too often (icebergs, anyone?), and use them sparingly throughout the presentation, as too many may reduce their impact.

9. Present data simply

Data is important in any credible presentation, and like we mentioned earlier, can help to establish your audience’s trust. However, it is crucial that the data be presented in a simple and uncomplicated manner. Too many numbers or graphs can be distracting for the audience, and may obscure the real intention of presenting the data. If you have large chunks of statistics, ask yourself: What is the key idea of the message you’re sharing? Which figures will back your statements up? From there, choose the appropriate data and highlight them accordingly.

10. One slide – one theme

Like transitions, each slide can be used as markers of the various points you aim to cover. Not only does this make your presentation easy for the audience to follow, it also makes it easy for you to remember your points as they are neatly categorised in each slide. It may seem tempting to squeeze all your information into few slides, but remember, moderation is key!

11. Be minimalistic

For a keynote presentation, simplicity is important when designing and organising your deck. You do not want the pattern or design to distract your audience from the real content and message. Again, it is also important that you do not overload the slides with words, so keep the sentences and points in your slides short. Let your speech expand on the ideas that you want the audience to take with them. Your communication and connection with them is more impactful in sending your message across than words on the slides.

12. Be consistent

Consistency is essential, especially when it comes to your presentation. Avoid using different backgrounds in every slide, and ensure that the design is reasonably similar throughout, unless you wish to use differences to distinguish individual points in your message. This makes the transitions in your presentation smooth, and thus it makes the story that you are telling easy for the audience to follow.

13. Practice, Practice, Practice

Rome was not build in a day, and similarly, a perfect presentation will not happen instantaneously! Rehearse your presentation a couple of times before the actual one, as this will help you in two ways. Firstly, you will gain familiarity with the content, which will definitely increase your confidence in delivering the presentation. Secondly, going through the deck aloud will allow you to listen to your speech from the audience’s perspective. This will aid you in tweaking and adjusting the content and structure of your presentation, to best fit the needs of the audience.

14. Analyse your audience

On the day of your presentation, analyse the audience. Get a general feel of the crowd. Are they excited? Are they bored? Are they tired? By doing this, you will be able to tweak the content of your presentation to fit the needs of your audience. If they are bored, you may wish to start with an interesting story related to your message. If they are tired, you could give them some time to get refreshed, either through a 5 minutes break or a quick activity to keep them alert. This way, you can ensure that you have a receptive audience ready to listen to what you have to say.

15. Q&A session

It is absolutely important that you leave some time at the end of your keynote presentation for a short “question and answer” session. Since the presentation was done from your perspective, the audience may have missed some important links and connections in your ideas. Therefore, a Q&A session is great in resolving any potential confusion that the audience may have.

There you have it, 15 simple tips to ace your keynote presentation! Just remember:

  1. Know Your Purpose
  2. Be Confident
  3. Give Your Credentials
  4. Deliver Your Hook
  5. Introduce Your Agenda
  6. Ensure Smooth Transitions
  7. Give a Credible Statement
  8. Use Images for Maximum Impact
  9. Present data simply
  10. One slide – one theme
  11. Be minimalistic
  12. Be consistent
  13. Practice, Practice, Practice
  14. Analyse your audience
  15. Q&A session

Now you’re good to go, all the best for your keynote presentation!

Formation Continue 101: 4 Tips to Ace Your Presentation in Class

Formation continue, also known as vocational training, is different from traditional education, but there are some similarities between the two. One similarity is the fact that some teachers still require students to talk in front of the entire class, which is a nightmare for introverts. Nonetheless, public speaking is a necessary skill to master when you want a career in leadership.

Here are some tips that can help you ace your class presentation:

1. Remember That It’s a Skill

You may be tempted to think that, because you’re not proficient at speaking to a crowd, you should just leave that task to others who can. You may not have been born with the talent to use words to charm your way out of anything, but you can definitely learn this particular skill. Formation continue students know that theory and practice go hand in hand in acquiring knowledge. Anyone can become a good orator. It just takes a little practice.

These are some exercises you can do to improve this skill:

  • Talk to Children – Present your class report to kids to alleviate your anxiety over talking with your peers as well as to be able to convey your ideas simply and concisely.
  • Outline Your Points – Writing down the flow of your presentation in a bullet-point format allows your mind to visualize it and absorb it better.
  • Experiment – Practice and alter some parts of your speech using different words or phrasings. This tactic allows you to become a natural speaker and prevents you from sounding like someone programmed the presentation in your brain.
  • Learn Different Styles of Pacing – Carry out the presentation with a friend and ask them for feedback, such as if you should speak slowly to clearly get your message across.

2. Use Visual Materials Appropriately

Slides are meant to supplement your talk; it shouldn’t be the highlight. Otherwise, you could have just sent the PowerPoint or Keynote file via email to your audience and saved everyone’s time. Your presentation slides must only include the facts or points that you want to emphasize so that, if ever your peers don’t listen to the entire thing, they still get valuable takeaway.

Some guidelines to follow when crafting your slides:

  • Simplicity is Key – Yes, you want something more than just black text on a white background, but you shouldn’t overdo it with the colors and designs, too. Make sure that you use hues that complement each other with a font size that’s readable even from the back of the room.
  • Include Key Points Only – Don’t just dump your whole script in the slides and read as you move along your presentation. Visual aids should support what you’re saying in front, not repeat your words verbatim, so keep it to a few points per slide.
  • Limit Animation – While transitions and builds can enhance the engagement of your audience, you should keep it to a minimum. Stick to subtle effects such as Wipe and Fade. Also, keep the effects consistent throughout your presentation.
  • Place High-Quality Graphics – When using photos and images, choose the ones that are high resolution. Don’t stretch a small, low-resolution picture because it will just turn out blurry and can become a visual hindrance and distraction rather than an aid. Be aware of copyright issues, too. It’s better to take your own pictures and use them.

3. Keep Your Audience Engaged

No one wants a robotic speaker droning away in front while boring the class out of their minds. You want your classmates to learn something after you presented the information that you want them to learn. That’s why you should keep your audience engaged with stories, eye contact, and humour.

You can even make your presentation interactive by:

  • Hosting a Q&A – A question-and-answer (Q&A) session after your report will give the audience an opportunity to clarify some ideas or points that they don’t understand. Plus, you can also gauge if they actually listened to you.
  • Obtain Audience Feedback – Ask your classmates yes or no questions such as “How many of you have ever gotten a parking ticket?” for a report on traffic rules and regulations and have them raise their hands for confirmation. This can build their participation and make them more attentive to what you have to say.
  • Let Them Choose – An interesting approach is to set up a “choose your own adventure” presentation that allows them to pick what back stories they want to hear or what videos you should play next.
  • Get Them Moving – Activities such as having them turn to their seatmate to say hello can break the “rigidity” of the class and give it a more open vibe where they can easily interact with you as a speaker.

4. Demonstrate Confident Body Language

As a speaker, you’re expected to have done your research and know all about the topic assigned to you. The way you present yourself in front can make or break your peer’s impression on your expertise on the subject. Most communication is done through nonverbal cues, so, if you go ahead and report with slumped shoulders, your classmates will conclude that you don’t know what you’re talking about and proceed to tune you out.

Confident body language includes:

  • A Proper Standing Position – Stand with your feet planted firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. This evenly distributes your weight on both legs and immediately gives off an air of confidence.
  • Eye Contact – Looking at your audience directly in the eye shows that you’re interested in their learning experience and comfortable in helping them with the process.
  • Hold Your Chin Up – Face the group with your chin held at an appropriate angle, with your neck a bit stretched. Of course, don’t keep your head too high that you look down on them when you talk. Strike a balance of confidence and humility.
  • Resist Fidgeting – Fidgeting is a sure sign of nervousness. Keep this to a minimum. You can lessen your anxiety over the event by practicing your speech and preparing every detail of your slide beforehand.

Conclusion

Presentations can be fun for the speaker, even for shy people. Think of it as your time in the spotlight, where everyone gets to listen to what you have to say. It’s normal to feel anxious and nervous. Nonetheless, take this moment to shine and share your newfound knowledge with your classmates.

5 Tips to Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

Imagine this: you have just picked up your morning coffee from your favourite barista, secured yourself the best spot in the parking lot and head into the office for a seemingly average Tuesday morning until— bam. You step in the elevator and come face-to-face with the CEO of your dream company or the client you’ve been dying to land.

It’s the perfect opportunity to communicate with her who you are, what you do, and what you want. With nothing prepared, you find yourself stammering from the moment she says, “Good Morning.” By the time you reach the 15th floor, you’ve lost the moment. You have nothing to show for yourself aside from your utter embarrassment. If you had prepared your elevator pitch beforehand, this would not have happened.

Elevator Pitch Definition: The appropriately named “elevator pitch” or “elevator speech” is a compact and compelling introduction that can be communicated from the time someone takes an elevator ride up. An elevator pitch does not need to literally occur in an elevator. It can be applied anywhere especially, when you meet someone new to introduce yourself.

Whether you’re a startup founder putting together your investor pitch, or an executive looking to boost your chances at an upcoming promotion exercise, you can benefit from learning how to deliver a concise elevator pitch. The skills required to master an elevator pitch are equally as beneficial at a networking event, sales meeting, or job interview.

A well thought-out and rehearsed elevator pitch is also a great way to introduce yourself, both professionally and confidently.

Ready to avoid the cringe-worthy scenario we described?

Here’s 5 Tips On How to Ace Your Elevator Pitch:

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1. Keep it short (30 seconds or less)

Like the name might suggest, an elevator pitch needs to be succinct. It’s important to keep in mind that people are busy, so it is crucial to be able to communicate who you are and what you do in the time frame that you have your listener’s attention. Ideally, your elevator pitch should be approximately 30 seconds in length. This might seem daunting, but limiting your speech to its main talking points should deter you from rambling on about irrelevant information. Leave out your entire work history and long-term objectives. If your listener wants to learn more information, they’ll ask.

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2. Practice in front of a mirror

The old saying, “practice makes perfect,” could not make more sense than when referring to an elevator pitch. Not only will practicing help you memorize your elevator pitch, but the more you practice it, the more confident you will become. The best way to get comfortable with an elevator speech is to practice it until the speed and “pitch” come naturally without you sounding robotic, so your confidence will be apparent to your listener.

Rehearsing your speech in front of a mirror allows you to become aware of your body language and movements. For example, using too many hand gestures can be distracting to a listener and can quickly detract from the speech you’ve spent hours crafting. If you’re really looking for a challenge, practice your speech in front of a non-biased listener (friends and family can be overly conscientious of your feelings) and ask for a bit of constructive criticism.

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3. Be clear, eliminate flowery speech and industry jargon

When reciting your speech, you want it to be as to the point and unambiguous as possible. Sure, delving into your SAT-approved vocabulary might demonstrate your intelligence, but it can easily shift focus away from what you’re actually pitching. A more conversational tone is easy to understand in a short time frame and also portrays you as being more personable. Always assume that your listener has no understanding of your industry, the services you provide, or the products you sell. This way, you can utilize your elevator pitch in front of anyone, and be confident that your argument has been made by the time you’ve finished, no matter which industry you’re operating in or who you’re speaking to.

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4. Communicate Your USP

The USP, or “Unique Selling Proposition,” is perhaps the most important element of your elevator pitch. A USP is a statement that concisely outlines how you, your business, or your product is different from that of your competition— or “the kicker” in any good sales pitch, as we like to think of it. It identifies what makes you the better choice than any other individual your listener may also encounter in that elevator. This is your chance to brag a bit— avoid sounding boastful but do share what you bring to the table. Even though an elevator pitch is short in length, it should be enough time to persuade your listener on your USP and spark enough interest to put a follow-up meeting on your calendar.

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5. Anticipate follow up questions

Nothing is worse than delivering a killer elevator pitch, but then becoming completely flustered as soon as your listener decides to ask a few follow up questions. Keep in mind that an effective elevator speech should inspire some curiosity from your listener. Be prepared to further explain your business goals and objectives. When in doubt, always carry a business card. That way, any query you may struggle to answer on the spot can be discussed further over a cup of coffee. Offering your business card at the end of your conversation is a great way to continue the dialogue at a later date.

Example of an ideal elevator pitch

“Hi, my name is Sara and I create illustrations for websites and brands. My passion is coming up with creative ways to express a message and drawing illustrations that people share on social media.”

Not only is this pitch example short and easy to understand, but it also can be recited to a number of different listeners. Sara introduces herself first and then quickly explains what she does in the first sentence. Then she describes more about her passion in the second sentence. Her pitch can be utilized in a variety of situations and still leaves room for interest and follow up questions.

In summary, you’ll want to make sure these points are done to perfect your elevator pitch:

  1. Keep It Short
  2. Practice In Front Of The Mirror
  3. Be Clear and Eliminate Jargon
  4. Communicate Your USP
  5. Anticipate Follow-up Questions

With these, you’ll be well on your way to delivering short, succinct pitches that get you closer to what you want.

Our final piece of advice? Set aside some time to create your perfect elevator pitch (or revamp the one you’ve used before). You never know who you might find in tomorrow morning’s elevator ride.

September Fireside chat: How to improve team dynamics virtually

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