Do’s and Don’t’s for Visual Aids for your Presentation

I attended my Toastmasters club last night and witnessed an excellent presentation using visual aids.  The young lady giving the presentation was discussing personal cash flow management and used a creative visual to help us understand her message.  She used a simple flip chart which was already pre-filled.  Here’s why it was so good:

  • She kept it simple.  Money issues can be complex these days. She used simple language and simple concepts.  I guess that helps simple people like me!
  • Her flip chart was more graphics than text.  She used symbols of buckets and arrows to help us visual learners.  The only text were limited to one o two words.
  • The visual aid advanced her message instead of giving it.  Like PowerPoint, if the flip chart tells you everything, then all you need is Vanna White to flip the pages.  She led the presentation; the flip charts were simply great aids to strengthen her story.
  • She was prepared.  She didn’t use the flip chart as a crutch or outline.

Visual aids can be a powerful tool to enhancing your next presentation.  If you commit to following the strategies my Toastmasters friend did, you will also give a superb presentation.


P.S.  If you are a Toastmaster in Region 1, plan on joining me at the annual conference on June 19-21.  I will be one of the educational presenters at the Oakland Hilton.  For more information, click on the link on this post-script.

Proud Daddy

OK…since it’s my blog I guess I can boast.  The link is to the video of the crowning of the 2009 Miss Poulsbo. My daughter ran for Miss Poulsbo and is Contestant #3.  She didn’t win the crown but did take home two very cool scholarships – Miss Congeniality and the People’s Choice Award for talent as voted by the crowd.  She did a 2-minute comedic monologue.  Like Father like Daughter:)

Click here to watch



Mr. Obama Goes to Washington and Speaks

I watched with great anticipation the inauguration speech of the 44th President of the United States – Barack Obama. Not from a political standpoint, but as that of a speech coach anxious to hear how Mr. Obama would deliver.  Out of the “steak and sizzle” of political speeches, we have seen much sizzle from Mr. Obama.  I wanted to see what was left on the grill.  Here are my observations…

•    Obama entered the event looking a little grim.  Not sure if he was trying to look presidential or if the moment was actually finally hitting him.  He did seem to finally start warming up as his time got closer.
•    Unlike Joe Biden, his oath was botched.  From reports it sounds like Justice Roberts was the culprit. Regardless, this is like shooting a free throw.  You know what is coming and can practice it for 2 ½ months.  How do you screw it up on the big stage?
•    A powerful technique the new President has mastered is the “PAUSE.”  Like all great orators, he used the pause to build curiosity, allow for thought, and create momentum to his speech.  Extemporaneously, he tends to sue many fillers.  In his prepared speech, he was flawless.
•    He laid the foundation of his message by recounting the challenges we’ve faced and the ones still facing us.  It was effective for a speech of this kind.
•    He used strong vocal variety and repetition with the phrase, “They will be met…”
•    Hits a strong transition with the phrase, “On this day…”
•    Loved that he wasn’t scared to include God and Scriptures in his text.  I was concerned he might be too politically correct.  Kudos.
•    Strong use of repetition vocally and emotionally – example “For us…”
•    One distraction, he has is the Bill Clinton “clench.” I prefer an open hand.  In addition, he tends to use his right hand significantly more than his left.  Minor, yes.  But distractions can take away from your message.
•    His closing was strong, using the George Washington story to draw some historical perspective.  I wouldn’t have minded seeing one more story mixed in to his speech.
•    Rising voice to conclusion with softer final words. Poignant effect.
•    His strengths – powerful voice, vocal variety, language, eye contact, inspirational delivery, rhythm.  The poet reading after him could have learned from him!

Final thoughts – his use of vivid imagery in the language of the speech were fantastic…

•    “Bitter swill of civil war”
•    “Willing to unclench your fist”
•    “Fallen in Arlington whisper through the ages”

If Mr. Obama proves one thing, it’s this – You can inspire, motivate, and persuade with exemplary speaking skills.  He used his to rise from near obscurity 4 years ago to the first African-American President of the United States.  What can you do in your career doing the same?

Speaking to Rotary Clubs

From My Newsletter – January 15th

Many of you have asked me how to get an opportunity to speak in front of Rotary Clubs to gain exposure for you and your business.  As a 15-year Rotarian, current President of my club, and more importantly a speaker at many clubs over the years, I feel compelled to offer you my five step process.

Step 1 – Determine what value you have to Rotary Clubs.  What benefit will the members get after hearing you speak?  They don’t want to hear a commercial.  They want to know how to improve their business or their lives.  Remember the phrase “What’s in it for Me!”

Step 2 – Find out who the decision-maker is for the particular club you want to speak to.  All clubs run their programs differently for any certain year.  The club president may be the obvious choice, and is more than likely the best place to start.  However, I delegate all program decisions to my Programs chair person who in essence is our “economic buyer.”  The easiest way is to send an e-mail to the club web site and see who responds.

Step 3 – Try to gain a referral from a person in your network who is a Rotarian.  Certainly, with over 1.3 million Rotarians in the world, you should have someone in your circle of family, friends, clients, and acquaintances.  Ask for an introduction to the decision-maker1

Step 4 – Follow up.  If you don’t hear back within a week (and give it a week – not all Rotary clubs follow up promptly), call the number on their web site.  Remember, this is a volunteer organization so you might need to take extra steps to find someone.  Be persistent.

Step 5 – Try to get invited to a club meeting.  Network your value as a speaker, not to your service or product.  See if you can find a hole in their schedule.  Many clubs are dying to get good speakers.  Some, Like mine, are booked up in advance for three months.  Remember, it’s about the value to them, not you.  If you are perceived as simply a commercial, you won’t get a shot.

Bonus – Once you are able to present a program to a club, get at least one testimonial.  Ask the decision-maker if he/she knows any other clubs where your program will benefit their members.  From my experience, Rotarians LOVE to send good speakers on to other clubs because they will get reciprocity.

If you want to have an opportunity to give a presentation to a group of movers, shakers and economic buyers for your services, Rotary is the place to speak.  Just make sure you are providing VALUE to them and not commercializing yourself.  This isn’t a chamber event.  If you give great value, you will receive it back.



Professional Development – Is it in you?

The famous branding by Gatorade – Is It In You?  The same can be asked in business.  The best way to get “it in you” is through professional development.  Tomorrow, I fly to Rhode Island for a two-day seminar with the “Rock Star of Consulting” Alan Weiss.  I’ve been a part of Alan’s mentor program for 5 months and now I’m anxious to gain more wisdom in person.

For the past few years, I’ve started my year out with education.  In February of 2008, I went to a workshop presented by Darren LaCroix and Craig Valentine on effective storytelling.  It changed how I presentd and taught forever.  I am confident that this workshop will provide the same results.

What about you?  What are you doing to improve yourself and your career?

Professional development – Is It In You?



P.S.  I jus changed computers and don’t have my signature link.  It’s always something you forget.  I’ll retrieve it when I get back from the chilly Northeast.

Get to the Point

I recently dropped my 18-year old daughter off at the Mall to do some Christmas shopping.  My wife and I then went off to do some shopping of our own by ourselves…I guess you can call that a date.

About 10 minutes after dropping her off, she calls on the cell phone in need of something.  Her pitch starts like this – “Okay, I’m at the Mall and I’m shopping, right…”

I cut her off (Dad’s prerogative) and say, “I know, I just dropped you off there.  Get to the point…”

Here’s my point, as business presenters we often make this same mistake my daughter did.  We make a supercilious statement already known to our audience.  Things like…

“Good afternoon, my name is Dan Weedin…” (After having already had your name introduced)

“I’m very happy to be here with you today…” (Really)

“Boy, how about this weather…” (Unless your a weatherman, nobody came to hear you speak on it)

After you’re introduced, start your presentation in one of four ways – a story, a quote, an interesting fact, or a bold statement.  I prefer starting with a story because I believe stories are the best way to capture your audiences’ attention and connect with them.  If you don’t do either of those very early, you’ve lost them. 

By the way, look how I started off this post – with a story.  If you’ve read this far it obviously worked.  That’s what you want to do with your presentations.  Make an impact right away…Get to the Point!



Cleaning the Clutter

First day on the job in 2009.  The Rotary meeting is complete and it’s time to get to work.  Since many folks are still not back to work it’s a perfect time for me to do the one thing I’ve been putting off.  Cleaning the clutter that’s my office.

I truly believe one of the factors that keeps me from being fully efficient and disciplined is that I’m “cluttered”.  I don’t do resolutions but I do believe in goals.  This is short-term goal #1.

By the end of this weekend, I hope to have my office de-cluttered, my new i-Mac in place for my tech guy Justin to move all my information from one computer to another, and organized to the poijt that I can actually be dangerous.  If you’re like me, you know things are bound to get back to a busy state of affairs.  That’s why today is the perfect day to start.

What about you?  What clutters your business or personal life?  What is keeping you from being as disciplined as you can be?  Maybe today is the right time to tackle your “challenge”!

Happy New Year.