Audience Analysis

Persuasiveness: The Power of Personality

By on February 12, 2014

Research shows that when people need help getting a job done, they’ll choose a congenial colleague over a more capable one. This tendency has big implications for every organization–and for everyone who seeks to be persuasive as a presenter. When given the choice of whom to work with, people will pick one person over another […]

Know your audience

By on January 30, 2013

I recently spoke at an industry event on the subject of differentiating your message.  I was invited to speak by someone who knows my work as a communication coach who told me that there would be a variety of people from the industry there; those who call on large organizations, and those who meet with […]

Manna falls

By on January 3, 2013

I’m on my way to the office from the gym, feeling hungry and wondering what I can have for breakfast that won’t take too much time, when I pass the Hunger Construction Baked Potato Food Truck.   Two guys in the truck are arranging homemade goodies wrapped in cellophane in the high display window.  One of […]

How to be a good panelist

By on December 7, 2012

Whenever I’ve been a panelist, I start out thinking it’s easy—a no brainer—and then, as I get closer to the event, I change my mind.  I begin to realize that I will be on display for all to see and hear and that it represents an opportunity to create a positive impression and contribute to […]

8 Great Bold, Stern and Wise Presentation Tips from the Supremes

By on November 6, 2012

You want to get ready for prime time as a persuasive speaker?  Then read these instructions to lawyers, issued by the Supreme Court, on how to address the Justices.  The rules are highly relevant for any business speaker who is addressing a group of senior decision makers. Speak to be heard The document gets right […]

Public speaking: Off the cuff is off limits

By on September 18, 2012

A gaffe has been described as “speaking the truth by mistake.”  Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that.  It’s more like saying what you really think at that point in time, which is different from speaking the truth. Both the Romney and Obama camps have had occasion to point fingers.  One said poor people […]

Presentation Skills: Tell, Sell, Solve

By on June 8, 2012

There are some circumstances in which we can tell an audience what to do, some where we must sell them (or convince) them to do something, and then there are those times when we do not have the authority (or power) to either tell or sell and must ask them to  help us think through, […]

Presentation Skills: Adjust your level of detail

By on January 17, 2012

You’re preparing a presentation and the question comes up, “How much detail should I include?” The answer is, “Just enough,” and that’s not a cop out, because there are so many different circumstances, audiences, and types of presentation. For instance, when trying to convince an FDA Advisory Board that your drug is not more likely to […]

Information Design Disaster

By on November 11, 2010

Just this morning, I was rushing to catch the Metro in Washington, DC and found myself staring at a refrigerator-sized ticket machine with buttons, bells, arrows, windows, slots, writing and numbers all over it.  I had no idea where to look or where to start.  It had to be the worst design of a ticket […]

When Scientists Present

By on December 1, 2009

When scientists present, they usually start with methods, then move to findings, conclusions and perhaps recommendations.  There are good reasons for this, and it can provide some drama.  Yet any communication we are willing to pay for is built in the exact opposite way. As consumers, we want the conclusions up front, and the facts […]

Fear and Hope in Presentation Skills

By on July 22, 2008

I am still holding my ground against Ford Harding.  We have been debating the relative merits of raising FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) in persuasive arguments, or GOG (greed, opportunity, and glory.) For previous exchanges, please click on Fud, Gog, Ethics and Rhetoric and Fud in Public Speaking and Persuasion Ford seems to think that GOG […]

Scientific Presentations: Hitting the Audience in the Heart

By on June 30, 2008

Here’s the scenario. A bio-tech company will fly to Paris to convince influential French physicians to use their compound-in-development in clinical trials. The company has invited the French doctors to a nice meeting room in a nice hotel and plans to tell the doctors all about the compound. When asked, “What is the purpose of […]

Presentation Training: FUD, GOG, Ethics and Rhetoric

By on June 22, 2008

Ford Harding has lifted his pen to engage with me on a subject of profound importance to sales professionals, leaders, and anyone who seeks to influence others. That subject is the emotional sea on which all decisions float. FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is one current in that sea. It drives most of us away […]

FUD in Public Speaking and Persuasion

By on June 17, 2008

FUD is Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  I first heard the term when consulting at Gartner.  I was working with the analysts in preparing for a Gartner Symposium, and several of them used FUD at the start of their talks to engage the listeners on an emotional level. For instance, they might have said, “While e-mail […]

Public Speaking Training: The Dreaded just-after-lunch Slot on the Program

By on May 22, 2008

Effective speaking has many enemies. A partial list would include a speaker’s lack of experience, stage fright, lack of training, no clear point, too much information, and finally, no clear flow, or structure. We could go on. But the items on the list are only those enemies that hide within the speaker himself. What about […]

Presentation Tips: Listener-centric Messaging

By on April 10, 2008

I just returned from an engagement during which I was asked to give partners in a professional service firm 10 minutes to pitch the firm to a brand new prospect, played by another partner sitting across the table. Most partner/presenters were tentative at the start. They began by asking the prospects what they wanted to […]

Communication Skills: Why Mr. Smarty Pants Has His Knickers in a Twist

By on March 31, 2008

What makes smart people dumb? Elizabeth Newton, a psychologist, conducted an experiment on the curse of knowledge while working on her doctorate at Stanford in 1990. She gave one set of people, called “tappers,” a list of commonly known songs from which to choose. Their task was to rap their knuckles on a tabletop to […]

Public Speaking: Split Shot Audience

By on March 16, 2008

Like that moment in bowling, when your ball leaves two pins standing far apart, there are times when your audience is divided into two camps. One half is knowledgeable about your area of expertise, while the other half is green.  Or, one half is interested in the science, while the other half is preoccupied with […]

Interpersonal Skills: the Placebo Effect

By on February 16, 2008

We often think that the placebo effect comes from the belief that a sugar pill is actual medicine, which leads us to the conclusion that if we believe something is good for us, we get a positive physiological response. I read of a double-blind study of hotel chambermaids in Paris who were trying to lose […]

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