Stop selling your product after people have purchased it!

I attended a webinar by on how to create “webinar on demand” a few days ago. The concept is that a webinar should be available on demand 24/7. An interesting concept.

The presenter was 3 minutes late in starting the webinar. That is a definite no-no. It shows disrespect for the attendees who show up on time.

He sounded like he has had too many cups of caffeinated coffee.

He began by saying that it is always “the little things that make a difference”. Like starting late? How ironic.

7 minutes into the webinar, he was still talking about how important it is to have webinars on demand. News flash!!  We know already. That’s why we are here.

Stop selling already.

He went on to say that “we have found our customers don’t like our marketing”…Yet 11 minutes into the program …he was still marketing.

This nonsense went on for 14 minutes (or 17 minutes after the official starting time).

All of his slides had at least 5 bullet points and he read them off verbatim.

I left the webinar as I was lapsing into a coma.

Is Over-Rehearsal a Myth?

The website has a free slide show on how to improve your presentation. It is generally well written and it promotes the idea of avoiding bullet points and putting too much information on a slide.

But – on one of its slides, it claims that over-rehearsal is a myth – meaning that it is not a bad thing. Its main rationale is that actors spend a lot of time rehearsing their lines. That is true but it does not make over-rehearsing a myth. Here is why:

Actors have to memorize their lines because they are recreating a virtual reality that has been written by screen writers. The actors have no personal experience in that reality. The only way to get inside that role is to memorize the lines.

There is a BIG difference between that and telling your own story!

When you make a presentation on something you know something about, you are already living in that reality or you have lived in that reality. So you should be able to TELL YOUR STORY naturally without having the memorize every line of your story.Memorizing your own story will just make it soung robotic and not authentic.

So over-rehearsal is NOT a myth. It is a REAL problem for public speakers.


A webinar on How to Make Great Presentations

99.99 percent of presentations are terrible. YoScreen Shot 2016-04-08 at 8.11.56 AM (1)u see slides like these all the time. They put the audience in a coma:

shitty slide

There is a much better way.

Come join us on July 13, 2016 for an one-hour webinar on how to make great presentations.

The session starts at 1:00 pm East Coast Time  and is one hour long.

The cost is $20 per person. Every person who signs up get a FREE copy of my book on “How to Make Great Presentations”

To register,click here. registration is limited to 30 persons.





Another Massive Fail in Presentation

This was a webinar hosting by the Training Magazine Network. The topic was on how to keep your audience from becoming “dazed, confused and bored” in a training session. It offered 7 ways to accomplish this lofty goal.

The first 4 minutes were spent on explaining the features of the page. What does “Q&A” stand for. What does the little bird stand for (hint: twitter) and the background of the presenter. All done by the moderator in a monotone. I was getting a bit dazed 5 minutes into it.

Then came the presenter – a vice president of some virtual learning strategy firm. He started by showing 3 bullet points and reading off them. He did expand on them a bit. So it was not just a verbatim reading of the words. Then came the next slide with 4 bullet points and the same reading out loud of these bullet points that were clearly visible AND readable to his audience. I could not remember what he said about the first bullet point becasue I was already reading the 4th one.  He stumbled a bit in reading his own slides and apologized for “not being to read too well” that day.

By this time, I was dazed and a bit confused.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 8.11.56 AM (1)Then at 9 minutes, he flashed a slide with ALL 7 of his magical ways to keep the audience from getting dazed, confused and bored – in 7 bullet points. He then droned on in his monotone about those 7 points which I could clearly read.

I was getting  bored, a bit dazed and kind of confused at this point.

The presenter then flashed a slide with 12 bullet items on it and started to read them off one by one.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 8.12.08 AMSo I took a screen shot of the 7 bullet points and the 12 bullet points and left the webinar.

It is all there, so why waste 50 more minutes of my time?

Besides, I was dazed, confused and totally bored.


A Massive Fail in Presentation

I recently came upon a webinar hosted by two environmental consultants, Mike and Amy. The webinar was called “Improving Training Effectiveness through Accelerative Learning”. As an environmental trainer who has conducted seminars and webinars on environmental compliance for thousands of environmental managers, I was very curious to learn about this “accelerative learning” process which sounds like something revolutionary and innovative. I logged on to the webinar with an open mind and eagerness to learn new training strategies.

It was a major disppointment.

The webinar begins with a four-minute self introduction of the speakers. A self promotional spiel. This is one of the common mistakes made by speakers. They fail to realize that the participants are there to learn about the topic. The fact that they are there is fair assumption that they already know about the qualifications of the speakers. The time to brag about your qualifications is BEFORE they sign up for your talk. So someone who is anxiously waiting to find out more about the topic is forced to sit through several minutes of tedious tripe.

Mike then proceeds to go through bulletpoints – one by one until they build up to a screen full of nine bulletpoints after 13 minutes. The big problem with mikebulletpoints is that they are a big distraction to the audience. As the speaker is talking about bulletpoint #5, the audience is free to roam around and is probably reading the previous four bulletpoints. By the time we get to the last bulletpoint, hardly anyone is listening to the speaker. Some are probably in a coma.

A much more effective means of presentation is to show each talking point (in the form of a short sentence) coupled with a relevant picture in EACH slide. Let’s say you are talking about how to reef a sail on a sailboat. Show a photograph of someone reefing the sail on a sailboat and talk about how to do it. And then you move on to the next slide with the next talking point in a short sentence coupled with an appropriate photo. That’s how you KEEP your audience’s attention to what you are saying. Their eyes cannot meander to your previous talking points.

How many times have we attended a conference where the speaker splashes 10 bulletpoints on the screen and then proceeds to read them out loud one by one? Look around the room and you will find many people dozing off or working on their crossword puzzle.

There is a reason bulletpoints are also known as electronic chloroform.

The second speaker Amy does a similar thing except she embeds her bulletpoints in diagrams so that at the end she has a collage of diagrams with multiple bulletpoints embedded. The audience will do the same thing as they do with Mike’s plain old bulletpoints. Their eyes will be wandering all over the diagram and their minds will tune out what she has to say.

Here is another example: When she talks and shows a pyramid as shown here at amythe same time, the audience will be accelerating through all those words on the diagram and not be listening to her important message. That’s hardly effective learning.

Amy mentions decades and decades of brain research on learning. The landmark research done on cognitive learning is by Dr. Richard E. Mayer – a professor of psychology at the University of California Santa Barbara. His research shows that people take in much more information and retain more when they are presented with a short sentence words and an accompanying visual. Lots of research papers have been written on this topic.

I never did finish the webinar. It was dreadfully boring and I felt myself lapsing into a coma. The only way I can stay up was to stab my leg with a sharp object to keep me from dozing off.

In sum, presenting multiple bulletpoints on a single slide is NEVER an effective way to communicate to any audience. It is a major distraction. Speakers use bulletpoints to remind them of when they need to say what – much like a cheap teleprompter. And that’s fine. But there is no need for the speakers to show the audience their teleprompter.

The cardinal rule of good presentation or public speaking is this: always make sure your audience’s focus is on you – the speaker and the spoken words – not words on the screen.

The most effective to make a presentation to an audience is to TALK to them. You are having a normal conversation with each and every one of the audience. You tell stories of real-life examples that relate to the audience. You never use electronic chloroform to put your audience to sleep.

It is a cruel and unusual punishment.

Does Lipstick on a Pig Work?

Does lipstick on a pig work?

pig with lipstick

Consider this:

Let’s say you are the head of the Medieval French Literature Department at a well known university. Your best friend is the head of the Theoretical Physics Department. He is scheduled to give a talk on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to a group of physicists next week but because of a family crisis, he will not be able to attend. He gives you a copy of his talk and asks you if you will stand in for him. You agree. You spend the whole week memorizing the speech. You remember every single word. You find a YouTube video of him giving the same talk a year ago and you memorize every single one of his hand gestures. You now know when to look down, when to look up, when to breathe and when to pause. A vendor stops by and tells you he can sell you some fancy razzle dazzle animation add-ons to impress the audience. He tells you they will make your presentation “more interesting to the audience”. You pay him $20 and you now have razzle and dazzle on your side.

The day comes and you give a flawless presentation. That is UNTIL someone in the audience asks you a specific question about Einstein’s theory. You stand there with your mouth wide open, staring into space and everything goes black and you fall flat on your face on stage.

What is the moral of this story?

Never give a presentation or talk on something you know nothing about. All the coaching in the world about hand gestures, tonal inflection and articulation will not help you. Neither will any fancy razzle dazzle or animation.

Lipstick on a pig does not work. Period.

If you do know your topic, your razzle dazzle animation will simply distract your audience from your message

Steve Jobs – acknowledged by most people to be the best presenter of his time – never used razzle dazzle.. They will be sitting there wondering whether the next razzle will zoom in from the left or the next dazzle will drop in from the top.

He knew his topic. He used a simple picture as a background and he SPOKE to his audience.

By the way, there is an exception to the rule cited above. You CAN give a long talk on something you know nothing about IF you happen to be a ruthless tinhorn dictator in a banana republic. No one in the audience will dare to ask you any question.

Electronic Chloroform

I was reading a book on presentation and the author mentioned that PowerPoint is essentially electronic chloroform. It KNOCKS you out!!

People use bullet points as reminders of their content. And yet they show them to the audience in batches of 10 or more bullet points. As they read the first bullet point out loud, the audience is already reading point #7 and has completely lost interest in what the speaker is talking about.

So next time you use or see those dreadful bullet points in a presentation, think “electronic chloroform” and try  not to pass out.


One of the best presentations I know

This is by far one of the best presentations I know.

Marissa Mayer was Employee #20 at Google. She was a Vice President at Google before being hired as Yahoo’s new President and CEO.

Marissa (a self proclaimed geek) gave this talk to a group of Google developers (fellow geeks) in 2008. Here are some of the things she did:

  1. She was having a direct conversation with the audience all the way through. She asked the audience a couple of questions.
  2. She did not read from a set of notes. She didn’t have to. She spoke from her vast knowledge of the subject matter. It was clear to everyone she knew what she was talking about. (The flip side of this observation is that if a speaker does not know his topic well enough, he should just sit down and be quiet. No amount of “coaching” will him.)
  3. She used humor at times.
  4. She thoroughly enjoyed the presentation and she showed passion in her work.
  5. Half-way through her talk, her lapel mike went out and she transitioned to a hand-held mike without a hitch.
  6. She told stories throughout the presentation.
  7. She did not use a single bullet point.

 This IS how you do it.

A great video on how NOT to do PowerPoint

This is by far the BEST video on how NOT to make your PowerPoint presentations.

The Rule of Threes

There  is an unspoken and almost magical rule in communication that says that you should organize your thoughts and presentations in threes. Many Hollywood plays  have three acts. Most jokes are told in threes …Did you hear about the rabbi, the priest and the lawyer.?

It started with Aristotle’s Poetic with its beginning, middle and the end. Note that we have the three stooges, three little pigs, three musketeers, the holy trinity, etc. The porridge was too hot, too cold and just right with papa bear, mama bear and baby bear. The Garden of Eden had three players – Adam, Eve and the snake.

The Rule of Three is an excellent rule. I wish more presenters would make use of it. Many of them feel that they need to tell the entire history of the western civilization in 40 minutes or less. Engineers and scientists are notorious for that because they fear that the audience will fault them for “leaving something out”. So instead of conveying three main points in a presentation, they jam everything they know onto a few slides with those dreadful bullet points and expect the audience to digest it all.

So focus on three main points in your presentation.

Here is a little experiment. We are trying to fit several large pebbles and a whole bunch of smaller pebbles inside a glass jar.

The first picture shows what happens when you put the small pebbles in first. The larger pebbles cannot get inside the jar.

Now if you were to put the large pebbles in first and then fill the void with the smaller pebbles, you can fit them ALL inside the jar as shown in the second photo!

The moral of this story is simple: Start with your big ideas first before you run out of time (space).