Life Imitates Art. The Result? Some Dandy Slide Backgrounds

While strolling through an art museum one day I overheard a guide commenting on the work of old Dutch masters. She said they tended to place the scene in the lower third of the canvas and then fill the upper two-thirds with sky. Looking at the results, it struck me that their paintings would make great slide backgrounds.

However, rather than purchase a painting by a Dutch master (a bit beyond my budget), I decided to test the idea with my camera. Now, whenever I travel, I compose some of my photos to include mostly sky with the scenery or activity confined in a narrow band along the bottom of the frame. The result? A photo that makes a great slide background.
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Pause & Let the Music Sink In

As practiced musicians point out: some of the music is between the notes. The same idea applies to speeches. Saying nothing here and there actually engages listener attention. It follows, then, that if you want your listeners to really hear your ideas and enjoy the experience, you should make it a habit to work in pauses.

Both speaker and listener benefit from pauses. The speaker gets a chance to rest and to look around the room to gauge attention and interest. The audience gets a chance to rest too, as well as a moment to reflect on and absorb what the speaker has to say. 

Speakers who try to cram every second with words risk coming across as anxious. That anxiety can be a distraction for listeners who may start to focus more on the speaker’s discomfort than on their ideas and opinions. Read More...

Limit Your Points to What People can Handle

People have a limited capacity for listening to and absorbing information presented orally, even with the help of visual support. Keep this fact in mind when you choose the arguments to highlight in the middle of your presentation. As a rule, plan to support your main argument with three to five major points. (Never go beyond seven points. After that number, research shows that all listeners hear is blah, blah, blah...) Read More...

Coping with Poorly Designed Meeting Spaces

Here is one of the mysteries of the universe: why are so many meeting rooms so badly designed? It often seems as if no one really had any idea how the room was going to be used.

Let’s start with the one of the most common problems: too few electrical outlets. To plug in a computer, a projector and a set of speakers, you need three plugs. Yet so often there is only a single two-plug outlet available. Then there is the placement of the screen. More often than not it’s plunked down in the middle of the room, restricting the space available for the presenter to move around. And, why is it so often a struggle to find surface space for both the projector and a computer? Read More...

Ace Your Speech with Q&As

No one ever said speechwriting is easy; but sometimes it’s harder than it has to be. Consider this scenario: you start on a speech and quickly find yourself spinning your wheels. You simply don't have a good enough grasp of the subject to make any headway. Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking…

You could wait for elves to come by in the night to finish the job. Then again, you could avoid this situation altogether. Before you begin a major speech, take the time to put together together a solid set of questions and answers (Q&As). 

Preparing a Q&A package is worth the effort for a number of reasons. The exercise lets you concentrate on and become familiar with each topic in isolation. When you really know your material well, it’s much easier to weave the ideas together in a narrative. And, if you run the Q&As by the client, you could get approval for much of your content long before your first speech draft is a fait accompli. Read More...