Your Presentation: Graveyard Session or Angelina Jolie?

They may be rare – few and far between – but some presentations are like watching Angelina Jolie go by in a short skirt. They compel your attention. And if the presenter really knows their stuff, Angelina might even stop, indulge a wink and blow a kiss your way. But sadly, most are not. Most presentations are more like a Sunday afternoon in an unused municipal graveyard…in bad weather…in uncomfortable underwear.

So if you’re determined to treat your next audience to Angelina, rather than a crow-ridden plot, where do you start?

Well, logic dictates that we begin by asking what goes into creating a graveyard presentation and then, by reverse-engineering, we will work our way back to a really top notch talk.

Creating the Graveyard

Most graveyard presentations suffer from these three ills:

1. Too much dry fact, and not enough emotive language
2. Too much explanation, and not enough relevance
3. Too many slides, not enough imagination.

Presentations are not about fact. They are about Impact.

Turning your presentation back into Angelina is actually not difficult. Your task is to take the most important and poignant facts and make them really come to life. Remember: the facts are not the important thing. The impact that they make; that’s what truly matters.

So, how do you make dry facts impactful? With stories and metaphors, the two legs that Angelina stands on.

Creating Angelina

Using stories and metaphors is actually quite easy. It is simply the act of saying, “It’s like…”, and then creating a small series of mental pictures.

Using ‘It’s Like…’ is a wonderfully effective way of taking a complex, abstract idea and turning it into something that people can ‘see;’ something that they can ‘get’ quickly. It’s the difference between saying, “We’re a small company competing against big brand names,” versus: “We’re that four foot nothing martial artist that takes on the six foot boxers… and flattens them all!”

You can use metaphors in your speeches, sales pitches, articles and interviews. In fact, use them whenever you need to persuade. Metaphors get the job done quickly, in addition to being novel and memorable. Here are some examples:

An American professional speaker describing what it’s like to speak for the Youth market: “You have to smuggle your messages in-between stories. You have to be like a motivational ninja!”

The Chief Financial Officer of an investment firm, after the Recession: “This time last year, you were lost in the forest and you were afraid, and you turned to me for guidance. What you didn’t know was that I was equally scared. But that wasn’t good enough. So we dug deep, and pulled on a hundred years of experience, and sought real answers. We found a glimmer of light in one direction and led you that way. We are proud to say that we are now emerging from the forest, and the choice we made for you was borne out as the right one.”

If you regularly watch the television show ‘Top Gear,’ you will have heard the mastery with which Jeremy Clarkson makes dry car facts come to life. Here are a few of his gems:

• “It was a bit like putting a sticking plaster on a leaking nuclear missile!”
• “Look at the way it’s shaped. It looks like a dog hunkering down to do its business.”
• “Most supercars make you feel like you’re wrestling an elephant up the back stairs of an apartment building. But this one is like rubbing honey into Kiera Knightley!”
• “This thing has so much torque, it could tear a hole in time!”
• “It’s about as feminine as a burst sausage!”

The next time you’re toiling away at a PowerPoint presentation, ask yourself whether you are creating impact, or simply listing facts. If you find you’ve done nothing but record dry details over sixteen slides, consider whether you can’t do better. You may want to try your hand at turning fact into impact. Your tools are simple: stories and metaphors.

Appeal to the imagination and you will be memorable. You will have impact. Your presentation will be the intellectual equivalent of Angelina catching your eye…and blowing a kiss!

Tips For Keeping Your Cool Before Your Presentation

The physical symptoms of public speaking nerves can be annoying, even distressing at times. But running that adrenalin will give you energy and give energy to your speech. You just need to control the symptoms. Here are 5 effective ways to calm them down and keep your cool before your presentations.

1. Stretch to relax. Rise on your toes and reach for the ceiling, with your head back. Tighten your muscles from legs up through abdomen, and then release. Relax the neck and shoulder muscles, letting your head loll on your neck in different directions.

2. Breathe to relax. Stand erect, but relaxed and balanced. Inhale while silently counting to five. Hold the breath for five counts, then exhale for five – all breathing is through the mouth. Your diaphragm should move, but your chest should not expand. You can gradually increase the number of counts for each breath to 10.

3. Relax your Jaw. Let your head loll forward. As you raise it, keep your jaw relaxed. Let it hang open, and smile to yourself at how silly it feels.

4. Ground yourself. Be aware of standing with your feet firmly planted, relaxed, but firmly stable. Be aware of the strength of that grounding, and the peace it brings.

5. Relax your throat. Yawn…. This is how your throat needs to be to speak well – open, and relaxed.

Keep relaxing the muscles throughout your body, your jaw, neck and throat until you walk to the presentation area. Then smile! and begin.

© Bronwyn Ritchie. If you would like to use this article, you have permission to use it only in full, and only with the following Resource box attached.

Salary Negotiation Recipe

The interview is going well, you’ve jumped through the hoops, and it’s time to talk about salary before concluding the deal. What should you do? Simple: take the following 6 steps and get more money and greater respect from your future employer.

1. Accept Negotiation

You have to accept that salary negotiation is a normal part of the interview. There are several reasons you might not want to negotiate: you feel uncomfortable talking about money or trying to put into money terms just how great you are. Or, you might need the job badly, and don’t want to risk not getting it by asking for too much money. However, if you negotiate, and do so with the right attitude (step 6 below), your employer’s basic human nature will make it more likely that you will get hired, and hired for more money.

So what is the basic human nature of your employer? First off, people who are in the position to hire anybody negotiate already all the time. They won’t think negotiation is inappropriate or in bad taste. Secondly, negotiating about your salary shows confidence in your skills and in your person, and the employer will simply consider you a better candidate because of it.

Think of the negotiation in real money terms: the work that you are doing when negotiating, a few simple minutes of conversation, could mean thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary over the span of a few years of your career. It’s all there, you just have to have the courage to ask and initiate the process.

Finally, go into the negotiation with a concrete idea of what salary you would like to get. Do research on what they company pays, or what comparable positions pay, and specify to yourself a definite number that would make you happy and that you think you have a chance of getting. Otherwise, it’s easy to quit at the first offer and say to yourself, it’s acceptable. A definite goal will make you try just a little bit harder during the negotiation.

2. Get the Employer to Make the First Offer

You’re past step 1: you’re willing to negotiate. What do you do when they ask you, “What do you expect in terms of salary?” Simply, try to deflect the question. Get them to make the first offer. Tell them that you don’t really know how much they pay, and that you wish they would tell you what they think is a fair offer.

If they make the first offer, you might be surprised by how good it is. If the offer is low, lower than you expected, you should bracket: make a counter offer that is as far away from your target salary as the offer that they made (for example, you would like to earn 75K, they offer 70K, so you suggest 80K). Many people feel that splitting the difference is the fair thing to do, so even though they might scoff at your high offer, you will wind up with the amount you were hoping for.

In case of a low offer, you can also complain and plead without making a counter offer. Say that you’re surprised and you think what they’re offering is really low – you don’t know what the true salary is, but you couldn’t accept the job at this rate. Make this simple statement, then shut up. Let them pick up the conversation, and they will usually come back with a better offer.

Finally, quote some competition. Whether or not you have other offers, you can give them a concerned look and say, “I really like this position, but I have to tell you I think the salary is low. I was offered [some amount] just last week at [some other company]“. Again, make the statement, and let them take up the negotiation.

3. Otherwise, Give Your MPP

Sometimes, the employer refuses to make the first offer. He might be a seasoned negotiation hound, or might have some other stubborn reasons. What to do when you are absolutely the one who has to go first?

In this case, you should start with your maximum plausible position (MPP). The MPP is the highest amount you could possibly ask for with your qualifications and for the position you are applying for. How can you know what this is? Again, do some research beforehand. Talk to friends. Chances are, the MPP is much higher than you think it is.

An important thing to add is that, when your MPP is uncertain, you should make the offer with an implication of flexibility. Say something like, “From everything I know about what [company X] pays for [position y], I think [some amount] would be fair”. Making the offer in this way, even if it is too high, makes it possible to negotiate further.

4. Make Other Trade-Offs

In case the salary gets stuck at a level that you think is low, and you feel that there’s no hope of making the employer budge, you can still force other concessions that can make the overall package better. First off, say that the offered salary is less than you expected. Add that you are willing to accept it at present, if the employer is willing to agree to negotiate a raise in 3 months. You can also ask for reduced responsibility, for less working hours, or for other benefits like a paid phone (in case you don’t already get it), a gym membership (if the company offers it otherwise, but not to you), or that they should consider your commuting costs as part of your working time.

It’s critically important to accept their offer conditional on these other concessions. If you accept the offer first, the employer has no incentive to give you anything more.

5. It’s Smart to be Dumb

Play dumb during the salary negotiation. Specifically, take time to think things over, ask for explanations, ask for things to be repeated, show your surprise at low offers, and plead naively for a higher salary. If there’s no satisfactory agreement in the end, ask for time to consider the offer instead of making the decision on the spot.

You’ve already proven your expertise for the job. Not being authoritative during the salary negotiation won’t hurt; in fact it will help. First off, it will diffuse the competitive spirit that comes along with negotiation. Second, it will give you more time to think, and to get into the negotiation rather than nervously accepting any offer because you want to appear confident. Finally, it might make it easier to negotiate by getting into a bit of play-acting.

6. This is the Right Attitude

Finally, when you make your salary demands, be firm, be convinced, but don’t be arrogant, and don’t get combative. It’s important to maintain this attitude even in the face of possible theatrics that the employer might put on. When they roll their eyes in disbelief at your MPP, or they seem to get angry that you are challenging their offer, ignore this – it is as much a part of the negotiation game as all the things you are doing. Ignore the emotional displays, and focus on the offers and concessions that are going across the table. Keep working towards the amount you set out for yourself, and you’ll soon have a new job with a better salary.