All of us – from senior management to a fresher – have sat through at least one (if you are lucky) excruciatingly boring PowerPoint presentation! I remember my worst experience - it was this lady from a digital marketing agency who read out every single word of a 40-page PPT! Talk about zero presentation skills!
I distinctly remember thinking that I don’t care how good their offer is, there is no way I am giving my marketing budget to someone who is doing such a bad job of marketing themselves!
This little anecdote underscores a point we all already know – communicating well is the key to success. And not just in the corporate arena; being able to present your idea and vision clearly and with confidence, is critical to success in all professional spheres. Whether you are a small business owner, a blogger or a politician, if you cannot put across your ideas convincingly you will not grow professionally.
But presentations can be spruced up, and speaking skills can be polished. Sometimes you might need some professional guidance, but with a little bit of time and effort, it can be done. If you are looking for some quick tips to improve your presentation skills, then dive right in -
First off, know this - it is entirely possible to upgrade your presentation skills in very little time. While getting comfortable with public speaking might need some practice and experience; there is a lot you can do in a couple of days to improve your presentation skills.
A killer presentation is a combination of two things -
Before you write down even one word or make your first slide, evaluate your entire content, and find the core message you want to leave with the audience. You could also jot down key points you want to reiterate or emphasize.
We all love a good tale, and nothing keeps people’s attention more effectively than a good narrative structure. Start with a bang, present problems, take them on your journey of finding a solution, and leave them on an uplifting note.
If you are presenting dry facts, then try not to do so directly; weave a story around them to make them more exciting and memorable. An excellent way to do this is to explain them through your own personal situation, through a case study or through an imaginary experience.
With every passing decade, attention spans are getting shorter, so you must structure your content to inject some excitement every 5 mins. This could be a quiz, a question, a multimedia component, a game, props or a joke – anything that breaks the content flow.
Nothing breaks the ice and gets the audience behind the speaker more quickly than humour. A funny picture or a cartoon, an amusing anecdote, a quirky quote or a self-deprecating pun can lighten the atmosphere and put people in a more receptive mood.
If you are using decks, then make sure that you keep these basics in mind -
Many people tend to shift from one foot to another and sway back and forth or continuously touch and adjust their clothing or hair – all this comes across as nervous, distracting behaviour. If you are not seated or don’t feel comfortable striding around on stage, then it's best to just stand still and use hand gestures.
During a presentation, maintaining eye contact is also quite important; its best to select a bunch of people distributed evenly across the room whom you can look at directly. Along with eye contact, its also a good idea to smile - not only does it help you keep your nervousness in check it will also project a positive attitude to your audience.
Nothing beats practice! There are very few natural speakers who can go extempore; for most people, it is advisable to memorize and practice the presentation several times. If you don’t want to bank on your memory alone, then carrying cue cards is highly recommended.
Naturally, if you are presenting along with a deck, you can always turn around casually and refer to the slide. But coming back to where we started - no matter what you do, don’t start reading off the slide! It is there to create a visual reference point to what you are talking about and cannot replace your energy and your passion.
I am sure you are reading this because you have an idea or vision bubbling inside you that is just waiting to come out and I hope reading these tips can help give it the attention it deserves.
Nancy Duarte, the guru of presentation skills, puts it so well -
“..an idea is powerless if it stays inside of you. If you never pull that idea out for others to contend with, it will die with you. Now, maybe some of you guys have tried to convey your idea, and it wasn't adopted, it was rejected, and some other mediocre or average idea was adopted. And the only difference between those two is in the way it was communicated. Because if you communicate an idea in a way that resonates, change will happen, and you can change the world.”
For working professionals and business owners, a presentation is an essential part of their work. If you feel you need to upgrade your skills in this arena, click on the Request Consultation button above.
Have you ever come across someone who tends to freeze in front of an audience, even a couple of people? They find that their mouth dries up, their voice goes weak and their body starts shaking. They may even start sweating profusely, go red in the face and feel their heart thumping rapidly.
Has this happened to you sometime? Do you often shy away from any opportunity to speak in public? Does the thought of speaking in public leave you frozen with fear?
Yes, there is a cool Greek-inspired name for fear of public speaking as well! And as much as 75% of all people are affected by it. Not surprising really, we have all felt butterflies in our stomachs before going up on stage, and most of us have an anecdote or two about public speaking disasters.
But why does something as straightforward as speaking in front of a bunch of people, cause so much dread for so many people?
For some people predisposed to anxiety, public speaking can trigger a threat perception hyperarousal – basically your body senses and experiences it as a threat and reacts accordingly – making it even more difficult to perform well.
You build it up to be more important than it is, you don’t think you are good enough, you think everyone will judge you and so on – basically your thoughts take over and inflate the importance of the situation to such an extent that natural nervousness snowballs into full-blown fear of public speaking.
Did you have a bad public speaking experience in the past? Do you speak in public regularly? Your skill and past success or failure play a big role in how you approach public speaking situations.
It is natural to feel more anxious if you are encountering a new audience or trying out an untested idea or are in an unknown setting. Even something like speaking in your second language or on an unprepared topic can trigger anxiety.
If you are trying to grow your business or climb the corporate ladder or have a fantastic idea that you need to communicate – you need to look your fear in the face and vanquish it.
How? Well keep reading – we have put together some simple tips to help you become a better and more confident speaker.
With anxiety comes the loss of concentration and memory -- the first thing to go out of the window is the speech or the presentation you memorised. To avoid a black-out its best to understand your content thoroughly. Don’t just learn the lines; you should know the content well enough to be able to convey the idea in entirely different words.
For nervous speakers, practice makes perfect! Practice the speech, the pauses, the stance, the gestures and practice in front of a mirror and front of friends. Rehearsing your speech or presentation bakes it in your mind and when anxiety strikes, being over prepared will come in handy.
Relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation or even some physical activity can help you tamp down the anxiety. The goal is to start the speech with a calm frame of mind, a lower heartbeat, and controlled breathing. If you start off nervous, chances are it will keep getting worse.
But relaxation techniques don’t just work overnight – you will need to make them a habit and practice them constantly to see the benefits.
Like everything else, public speaking also requires practice and time to perfect. Don’t try to just jump into a big gathering straight away – know your capabilities, start small. If you are having trouble memorising your content, carry bullet points; don’t force a joke or an anecdote if you don’t want to; don’t speak in front of hundreds of people if you can’t handle ten.
Becoming a good orator requires time and experience. Understand which stage you are at and take your time.
You don’t have to go at it alone; if a big presentation or an important speech is coming up, then bring in the professionals.
Counsellors can help you structure your content, help you practice, give you useful and actionable tips to improve and also provide the much needed emotional support.
Don’t let the fear of public speaking close opportunities and stunt your professional or personal growth.
Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it so well,
If you want to become a confident and engaging speaker, then don’t hesitate to get in touch!
You might not end up loving the stage, but we promise you will learn not to hate it.
To know more, click on the Request Consultation button above.
Career breaks happen! Whether you took out time to raise your children, took a break to deal with health problems, pursued higher studies or took a much-needed sabbatical to travel the world – there are times when personal needs demand your full attention and work takes a back seat. Getting back to work after a few years might seem a bit daunting at first, but with professional career coaching, you can find a job that values your experience and education!
I guess you are reading this article because you are now ready to head back to work. Right? For most people, taking a career break is equated with loss of money or rank – people expect to get paid less or be demoted!
A study by PWC conducted in the UK found that 3 in 5 women get lower-paid or less skilled jobs when they return after a break! The numbers, if reported, will probably be even more depressing in India.
This is exactly why returnees have such a stressful time starting again. They settle for either less money or less meaningful work, and when you know you deserve better and can do more, the chances are you will end up deeply frustrated and unhappy.
To avoid falling into this career rut, we have put together some helpful career coaching tips to get you started right -
Don’t just jump in and start firing off your CV to all and sundry. Take time to focus on what you want to do and assess your strengths and positives. You can find a career coaching service near you or online and get some professional help to you decide what you actually want to do.
You also need to research the various options that are available in your industry. For this, you can browse through job portals and well-known job communities on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you have kept in touch with industry publications, you could also make a list of any significant policy, strategic or technological changes that you might be expected to know.
Break out that contact list, open LinkedIn, call old colleagues and bosses – get the word out that you are ready and looking for work.
Most people hesitate to call or reach out – trust us only the first few calls will feel awkward. Your friends, old colleagues, acquaintances are all nice people – they might not be able to help, but no one will be rude to you.
Spend some time drafting an email or practising your call and just get started. Dropping a personal message on LinkedIn or Facebook is the easiest thing to do!
If you are in a technical profession and have been away for more than a year then polishing up your credentials with a specialised course might be helpful.
With so much high-quality education available online, its possible to find a course that fits your interests and budget. You can also work with a career coach to find out relevant options – this is especially helpful if you have decided to change your profile significantly.
You might have left a job at an MNC, but maybe a small start-up is more suitable to restart your career.
Bigger and more established companies tend to have stricter policies and more competition, whereas a small firm would be happy to use your experience and might offer you the same profile and salary as well as more flexibility. So, don’t just consider the big-name companies, explore small or medium-sized concerns as well.
If it comes down to money vs. job profile, pick the work.
Re-entering the job market could entail some sacrifices, and sometimes you just need a little bit of time to acquaint your employer with the skills and experience you bring to the table.
Look for an environment, a work profile or a team that allows you to grow and learn. A more challenging work profile might not get you the paycheck you are looking for – but it will certainly speed up your learning and help you fill in the time you lost while you were away.
Once you are back up to speed, there is always room to negotiate for a better salary or a higher designation.
If your initial research has not thrown up any clear ideas on how you can start your job search or if you are thinking of changing your professional path altogether, then a coach can be very helpful to point you in the right direction.
Our advice - just start! It’s the first and the most daunting step. Stay focused on your life goals and give it time.
Are you looking for some help getting back in the saddle? If yes, then our coaching program for returning professionals is the perfect starting point for kickstarting your new professional life. Click on the Request Consultation button above.
How many of you out there – finishing school or graduate courses - know exactly what you want to do?
It would be fair to presume that most of you have an inkling of where your interests lie – after all, we are living in the digital age!
When it comes to the great big decision of choosing a career path or a college course, there are two types of people. There are the lucky few who have a passion or a creative gift that defines their life choices from an early age and then there is the vast majority, made up of teenagers and young adults who need some career guidance to find the right paths.
As things stand in India, most children tend to enrol in a course first and figure out career options later. The post class XII scramble for admissions mixed with peer pressure doesn’t give most students a lot of time or opportunity to think deeply about their long-term careers.
For most, the goal is to somehow just get into a good college! And the cycle repeats itself after graduation when choices become even more limited, the competition becomes tougher, and the cost of education goes up.
For the last two decades, career counsellors and career guidance services have been trying to help students make the right decision. Over time a lot has changed - what started with aptitude tests and informal chats with counsellors has now turned into a nuanced and detailed process that focuses on the mindset of the student.
We at SoaringEagles, have developed a career counselling process that takes into account five crucial factors which give students and adults clarity about their career choices. Our one-on-one sessions include a mix of various assessments, self-reflection activities, and in-depth discussions which focus on the following aspects -
We start with taking stock of where you stand in terms of certain areas of your life such as achievement, belonging, financial prosperity and spirituality. The goal is to make you aware of who you are and what you value most in life.
This assessment is then aligned with your career activities to give you an idea of what could work best in the long run. E.g., If you put creative freedom over money, then a freelance artistic career could be more in line with your interests.
Most students starting out are not thinking as far ahead as actually working in an office. But the career path you choose will determine how you spend a large part of your day.
Our workplace value assessment is designed to make sure you understand what is more important for you - is it loyalty or stability; do you want to lead teams or prefer to use your hands to create something new; do you prefer money over status or do you want to both – these are some questions that a workplace value assessment will force you to consider and pay attention to.
Most students have some basic career aspirations; as part of our career counselling sessions, we use a broad-based skill assessment to give them an insight on how their current skills or abilities can help them achieve their goals. Another important outcome of skill analysis is to provide them with a roadmap for improving or acquiring skills they might need for their dream job.
There are many factors which can determine what type of work and environment would best suit your temperament. We have a special multiple intelligence test that evaluates your thoughts measured against daily activities, and the results are a great way to figure out your latent strengths.
We all are a mix of different abilities – such as musical, logical, visual, verbal and so on. This type of evaluation helps us - and you – understand where your strengths lie (for example you might lean more towards verbal and visual intelligence rather than physical) and which types of career could best suit your abilities.
Lastly, we focus on assessing your core vocational interests. This is an advanced career guidance test that identifies suitable educational streams aligned to your occupational dimension.
For example – do you have an artistic temperament or a realistic one; are you more comfortable following rather than organising and leading. The test matches your occupational abilities to groups of industries and job clusters to suggest the ones you are best suited for.
We understand that choosing your educational stream or your graduate or postgraduate course can be daunting. After all, this all-important decision could define how you spend the rest of your life.
We want you to start your professional journey on a sound and steady note. The whole point of our new-age career counselling services is to make you (and us) understand your mindset, values, and strengths.
With this understanding, we will be able to recommend what we think are the right options and you will be able to choose your path with complete confidence and clarity.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed and need some help. then don’t hesitate to get in touch.
SoaringEagles, an innovative talent development company, announced that it has been named amongst one of the Top 10 Pathbreaking Learning and Development Solution Providers in 2018 by Insights Success magazine.
Recognizing the best-in-class educative learning solution providers of the industry, Insights Success published 'The 10 Pathbreaking Learning & Development Solution Providers 2018' report. SoaringEagles is honoured to be featured in this prestigious list.
What differentiates SoaringEagles from its competition is their strong learner-centric approach based on cognitive behaviour techniques and motivational counselling. The programmes arouse an intrinsic motivation to learn so that the participants are able to absorb more from the programmes and become lifelong learners.
Unlike most other training organizations who depend on a panel of freelance trainers for meeting their delivery requirements, SoaringEagles works only with full-time in-house learning facilitators who have a psychology background. Their training content is developed in-house through in-depth research in positive psychology, cognitive behaviour techniques, motivational interviewing, and the science of learning which enables them to provide world-class training, consistently.
Follow the link to read the complete write-up: https://www.insightssuccess.in/soaringeagles-new-age-nimble-footed-organization-making-businesses-future-ready/
SoaringEagles focuses on building skills that are relevant and critical for the 21st century. Given the increasingly rapid pace of changes in the business world, individuals need to be equipped with skills like emotional resilience, social intelligence, learning agility, novel & adaptive thinking and persuasive communication using new media. Developing these skills will make employees change ready, strategic and agile.
SoaringEagles has a unique approach to delivering desired behaviour change. This is premised on cognitive behaviour techniques, motivational counselling and experiential learning. They validate development of knowledge, skills and behavioural change through assessments and surveys so that the results are quantifiable.
SoaringEagles designs customised training programs as per the specific requirements of companies. SoaringEagles was recognized as one of the Top 25 Most Promising Learning & Development companies in India in 2017 by Consultants Review magazine for having a positive impact on the learning environment.
Bedtime with my grandmother was always a much anticipated event for me as a child. We would settle down on the bed and she would regale me with stories. Stories of queens and kings, princes and princesses, snakes and elephants, mythical creatures and mythological characters. And I would return, night after night, hungry for more stories.
When I asked my friends if they had similar experiences with stories, they all replied in the affirmative. It was interesting to see that many of them, to this day, could remember the stories they had heard as kids. And some went on to say that they narrate the same stories to their nieces and nephews, daughters and sons.
If stories are so memorable, why then do we not use them more regularly in our presentations? It is true that fact and logic is at the core of any business. Nobody can dispute the credibility that numbers bring to a presentation. However, when numbers are blandly presented with hardly any story around it, the result is a yawn inducing, boring, full of text and full of graph presentation.
A study was conducted by Origin/ Hill Holliday wherein a representative sample of 3000 participants ranging from ages 23- 65 had to assign monetary values to products. The study found that a hotel room which had only a description of amenities was assigned lower value whereas the same hotel room with a picture story from a person who had stayed at the hotel was assigned a higher monetary value.
Stories stick. Chip Heath, Stanford professor and the author of the book Made to Stick found that while only 5% could remember statistics, 63% could remember the stories. A startling difference!
There is lot of data out there in the world waiting to be transformed into a story. Data which can significantly impact the way buyers buy and consume products and services. How can this data be converted into a story worth buying? Here are four proven storytelling strategies that can help you reach out to any audience.
Let’s say that you have to sell a drug that helps anaemic women. How will you convince your buyers of the need for this drug? There are two ways of stating this need.
Which way would seem more convincing?
When data is personalized, people are more likely to see the need.
So imagine, you have designed a product which helps a complex data analysis process get done in just 20% of the time it otherwise takes to do it manually. So what? While this data is suggestive of greater efficiency in the process, your customers may not be able to really see the benefits of the product if it is just presented in terms of data. But if you present it like this -
Anand and his team had been putting in close to 10 hours every day into analysing all the business related data. But once they started using your innovative product, they are able to complete the same work in less than 2 hours. The team now has time to take on new projects and scale up their operations significantly.
You may not know Anand and his team, but their pains and successes are relatable.
You need not present every single data you have. Sift, sort and retain only those aspects that you wish to highlight. Redundant data only serves to confuse the audience. And it hardly serves any purpose.
Call this a biased approach but we are more moved by individual stories than by the sufferings of a group.
Example 1: Little Ananya is one of the victims of the floods in Uttarakhand. She lives in a camp which has scarce sanitation and hygiene. Do you want to help 10 month old Ananya and help rehabilitate others like her?
Example 2: Let’s help the victims affected by flood at Uttarakhand. 80% have no homes and are living in camps. Would you want to help rehabilitate them?
Which is more likely to appeal to you?
The primary idea here is that stories connect us with people. When people listen to stories, they are less guarded and more interested in the story that you are sharing. The emotional appeal in stories keeps them connected.
The next time around, when you need to make a presentation, tell stories. Want to know how? Meet us at SoaringEagles where we can help you with more such amazing strategies. Get ready to soar!
To know more, click on the request consultation button above.
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