presentation-skills

February 09, 2017
In this attention-anemic world, we humans are rapidly losing the ability to listen. One thing we've learned from the thousands of people who attend Mandel workshops every year is that most people have 3 damaging habits that disrupt their ability to express themselves—and also impede their ability to listen to others. This week's blog explores how to break those bad habits and replace them with ones that can help you become a truly great listener.
January 12, 2017
What do unproductive meetings have in common? Poor or delayed decisions and decisions made too slowly. In meetings where you must share information to support critical business decisions, what can you do to get better results faster? In our experience, high-performers approach meetings differently. Here are 3 high-performer strategies you can use right now to get better results.
December 29, 2016

In my previous post, I talked about what you can do before a presentation to help you feel less nervous about speaking. This week, I want to focus on things you can do to reduce anxiety during your presentation. And, I want to offer an important tip at the end of this post about something you can do if none of these techniques work for you!

December 15, 2016
Of all the topics I’m asked about in my 30-plus years of coaching speakers, dealing with anxiety is the most common. Here are several anxiety-reducing techniques you can use before your presentation to help calm your nerves and make your experience a more enjoyable one for you and your audience!
December 01, 2016

Today, decision quality alone is no longer enough to gain and keep a competitive edge: good decisions also need to be made quickly. Too often, the structure and flow of information presented in meetings add complexity and slow down the decision-making process. Busy, distracted decision-makers and team members need more help to make better decisions faster. Here's what you can do to address this challenge.

November 10, 2016
Do you have the skills you need to land that promotion or new role? Does your team have what it takes to keep your business competitive in the face of new market challenges? Because, according to a recent analysis, technical skill and subject matter expertise may no longer be enough. If you're striving for career and company growth, here are 6 smart reasons to invest in people skills.
October 13, 2016

Often when technical subject matter experts present to customers, they're so passionate about their work that they forget to filter the info they present through the “Why should the customer care?” lens. As a result, customers walk away feeling confused as to what the solution was or how it could benefit them. To successfully influence customer decision-making, assume the role of discussion leader, not data dumper. To help you, here are 3 things the best discussion leaders do exceptionally well.

September 29, 2016

In my 32 years of experience as a speaking coach, I’ve learned a few things that could be helpful to you as you strive to make your own ideas heard and to improve how you communicate with others—whether it’s making a sales presentation, updating stakeholders on the status of a project, or presenting to the Board of a Fortune 100 company. Here are 6 crucial tips to help you on your journey.

September 01, 2016
You’ve been asked to speak at a customer user conference, an internal sales meeting, or a similar type of event. It seems like lately, whenever you attend these types of events, you’re either wowed by greatness or bored by mediocrity. Of course, you want your presentation to be remembered as one of the greats! So, here are some pitfalls to avoid and things you can do to keep your audience engaged.
August 18, 2016
Death by PowerPoint is real. I hear it all the time from executives and B2B buyers: “PowerPoint presentations do more harm than good.” Could your sales team's poor use of slides be killing your sales? Here are three things you can do to avoid "Death by PowerPoint" and deliver more powerful, precise, and persuasive sales presentations.
August 04, 2016

Years ago, I had the chance to be coached by a well-respected professional in my field. At the end of the day, I sat poised with pen in hand to capture his wise counsel. Then, he simply said: “Just say less!” In the years since, I've come to fully realize the value of this advice. But, good advice that's simply stated isn't always simple to implement. Which is why I want to offer three suggestions to help you, as you strive to just say less.

July 07, 2016

In his 30-plus years as a communications coach and trainer, Steve Mandel says there are two concerns Fortune 500 executives raise again and again about how people communicate with them. He shares what those concerns are and how they directly correlate to steps you can take to become a more skilled, confident, and highly competent executive communicator.

Note to our readers: This is an edited version of a blog post originally published on April 3, 2014.

June 09, 2016

At the front of the room, the session leaders spoke what must have been profound words for the 200 people gathered that day, as nearly every person sat silently, head bowed. No, this wasn't a religious service — it was a global sales meeting. Professionals had gathered from around the world to learn how to execute their company's new go-to-market strategy. And, no one was paying attention. Sadly, this scene is not uncommon in business today. Fortunately, the root causes that drain the ROI out of meetings and training events like these are not only identifiable, they’re preventable. Here are the top 3 reasons audiences are likely to pay more attention to their smartphones than your content — and what you can do about it.

May 12, 2016
When you’re talking to colleagues and customers, what does YOUR word cloud look like? Too often, clouds are filled with crutch words like, “ums” and “ahs” and “you knows.” The good news? People can change the shape of their word clouds using an underrated, yet powerful, communication skill: the ability to say nothing at all. Using the “power of the pause” will make you a more effective communicator. Read on to learn more.
April 28, 2016
Executive time is a scarce commodity. Why do meetings squander it? Because, too often, they fail to focus on the strategic issues that are most important to executives. They fail to drive progress on the decisions that need to be made in order to move your business forward. Here are 3 things you can do to change that and to insure your executives' time is well-spent.
April 14, 2016
What do business meeting attendees have in common with parole board officers? Both suffer from decision fatigue. The consequences? Productivity plummets. Decisions get delayed. Bad choices get made. Outcomes can be disastrous. How can you improve decision quality and productivity? Help your meeting leaders and attendees overcome decision fatigue with these three proven approaches.
March 31, 2016
Is your organization stuck running mediocre meetings that fail to move the needle on important projects and business goals? You're not alone. Distraction and disengagement have reached epidemic proportions and it's killing the "Return on Meeting Time" of companies everywhere. What's the antidote? A common meeting communications framework. Here's why...
March 17, 2016
Did you know that nearly a third of Americans surveyed said they'd rather clean the bathroom than try to solve a math problem? It’s no wonder presenting technical data can be a huge challenge. Next time you have to present numbers to a number-phobic audience, don't panic. Here are three tips to help you keep listeners engaged in what you have to say…instead of daydreaming about cleaning the bathroom.
 
March 03, 2016
Over many years of attending, speaking at, and preparing speakers for user conferences, I've learned there are three all-too-common deadly failures that conference speakers make. Learn what those 3 killer fails are, so you can avoid them.
February 18, 2016
The decision makers whose attention you're trying to get are too distracted to hear a word you're saying. The implication: having a great business idea is no longer enough. You’ve got to be able to present it in a way that GRABS attention and KEEPS it. Your ability to do that boils down to whether you can accomplish these 3 things quickly…
February 04, 2016
I’m always excited and inspired after returning from events like ATD’s TechKnowledge… after this year’s conference, I was told a story by one of our Mandel trainers about a session she led in Paris with a group of millennials, and I’m reminded… it’s all about balance.
January 21, 2016
Ready or not, you’ve probably already had to present to stakeholders or customers this year. And, the stakes are high. Building on my last blog post, here are some additional presentation tips to help you hone your skills and start 2016 off right.
January 12, 2016
Vacations are wonderful. That said, it’s easy for presentation skills to get a bit rusty over a long holiday break. Soon enough, you’ll be expected to present your ideas in person, or perhaps virtually, and many of those presentations will be high-stakes. So, here’s a quick refresher to help you brush up on your presentation skills.
December 23, 2015
The scientists and staff at Polar Bears International are dedicated to polar bear conservation. And, they face many of the same challenges business presenters do: they need to present complex data in ways anyone can understand and they need to suggest solutions that others will buy into and adopt. They asked Mandel for advice on how to do that. Here are three tips we shared with them...
November 12, 2015

What characteristic do we prize most in the people with whom we interact? Learn how our perception of this trait is influenced by communication skills.

October 29, 2015

Everyone has had to answer tough questions in their careers. Questions that challenge your ideas and opinions – perhaps even your credibility. How you respond to tough questions can make or break your relationship with listeners. Here's how to handle tough questions, while staying calm, cool, and collected.

October 01, 2015

Millennials have surpassed Gen X to become the largest segment of the American workforce. Every company seeking to accelerate its performance needs to figure out how to engage and motivate this critical pool of talent. So, what is it Millennials want? And, how will you give it to them?

September 17, 2015

If you think about it, your organization’s performance depends on its best ideas being turned into profitable innovations. Yet, 87% of executives believe major unexploited opportunities, ones that could make their companies market leaders, are overlooked. Why are so many companies struggling to innovate? (Hint: It's not a creativity problem!)

September 03, 2015
You may not need to be a presentation rock star. But, in order to be successful in your career, you do need to be credible. Here are three things that every credible presenter does well.
August 20, 2015
Innovation can be challenging, because organizations — and the people in them — are almost hard-wired to resist change. If you want your ideas to get adopted, here are three things you should know before presenting them.
August 06, 2015
Want better presentation results? Plan strategically, not tactically. Instead of recycling slides from older decks and making them fit your presentation, start with who your audience is and what you want to accomplish. Here's how.
July 09, 2015
Do you ever have to give a presentation at the last minute? Whatever you do, resist the temptation to re-label old slides or repurpose an entire presentation. Instead, when you have no choice but to do a rush job, here are some tips on how to prepare for and deliver last-minute presentations that your audience will appreciate.
May 28, 2015
Your company, like most, probably invests in sales training that helps team members become more consultative, insight-driven, assertive, and challenging in their approach.  But, none of that training addresses a leading cause of pipeline mortality. This week, find out what could be causing your sales opportunities to die prematurely and what you can do about it.
March 27, 2015
It's just business - nothing personal." How often have you heard someone use that phrase to justify a decision based on the bottom line, even when that decision created pain and problems for employees or customers? It's called the "It's just business trap," and it can sabotage your organizations ability to succeed. Here's how to avoid it.
February 26, 2015
I’ll be the first to admit that the proper use of acronyms can benefit listeners. First and foremost among the benefits is increased memorability. But, overusing acronyms unconsciously can be damaging and abusive to listeners. Here are 3 keys to using acronyms effectively in your communications. And, don't miss the fun and illuminating Mental Floss video on what many of our most-loved acronyms and initials really stand for.
February 12, 2015
Leadership gaps are a top business challenge today, despite strong corporate investment in leadership development. Why is that? Leadership development programs may be missing the most critical skill set of all...
February 06, 2015
Presenting on-camera can be a nerve-wracking experience. Just walking onto the video set at Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) raised my anxiety. Here are three suggestions I learned from my own experience that may help you better manage anxiety when it’s your turn to record a video.
February 02, 2015
I've seen too many people, whom I know to be engaging communicators and experts in their field, come across as stiff and unnatural on video, ultimately damaging their credibility. The secret to effectively presenting on camera lies in practicing. But...you have to practice right. Apply these three principles and your odds of credibly connecting with your viewing audience will dramatically improve.
January 23, 2015
While thrilled to record for Harvard ManageMentor®, I was equally stressed over how to make it happen. I lost a lot of sleep pondering, “How do I create content for a 3-minute video that’s both compelling and useful?” From those sleepless nights, I developed these three guidelines you can use to take the anxiety out of creating and recording short, high-quality video content.
January 15, 2015
If you've given presentations in places other than networked conference rooms, you've probably used an LCD projector hooked up to your computer, to project your slides. You may not realize, however, that there are slide projection snafus to avoid, as well as ways to use a projector to improve the quality of your presentations.
January 09, 2015
While organizations are increasingly using video to educate, entertain, and train employees and customers, many people are still uncomfortable presenting on camera. Fear not, because anyone can learn how to effectively communicate on video — and develop a level of comfort doing so. Over the next few weeks, I'll use my own experience recording videos for Harvard Business Publishing to highlight important ways you can prepare for and improve your presentations on-screen and off.
December 18, 2014
Have you ever made communication resolutions? As the New Year approaches, I always like to reflect on what I’ve done well and what I could improve next year when it comes to communicating with my colleagues, employees, and clients. You may be surprised at how much doing so can strengthen your relationships with the people around you.
December 11, 2014
If you think delivering the same presentation over and over again can get boring and monotonous, you’re right...it can, IF you let it. The bottom line? If you sound bored giving your presentation, you can bet your audience is bored, too. Here's how to keep it fresh...it's another lesson from Disneyland's Jungle Cruise.
November 13, 2014
Can conversation and presentation skills save wild lions, zebras, and elephants? Recently, I traveled to Kenya to conduct training workshops for people who work with the wildlife conservation groups Ewaso Lions, Grevy's Zebra Trust, and Save the Elephants. These organizations focus a lot of their efforts on global education, outreach, and collaboration with governments and local people. Their ability to communicate well is essential to their success.
October 31, 2014
What effect will Internet of Things devices and technology have on how you talk with your customers? How will this technology change the way you plan for your customer engagements or briefings? I’m reminded of an adage from my youth: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” Here's why you should never lose sight of time-proven principles for engaging customers.
October 23, 2014
Success or failure happens in just the first two minutes of any presentation. When you're laying your most innovative ideas on the line, here's how to stand out and win the attention and respect of your audience.
October 09, 2014
When it comes to creating PowerPoint® slides, less is more. Why, then, are so many presentations too long? Because presenters make the same mistake I once did. This week, I'll tell you about my experience and give you a simple recipe for creating short slide decks that help you get your message heard.
September 25, 2014
The webcast is a more difficult medium to master than most assume. Mastering virtual presentations takes experienced coaching, structured practice, and developmental feedback. But, there are things you can do right now to improve your delivery and head off a virtual disaster.
September 11, 2014
By necessity, entrepreneurs understand something that other professionals can take a lifetime to learn. Learn this lesson early, and it could make the difference between career success and failure.
September 04, 2014
Where and how your audience members are seated can have a major impact on what you must do to connect with them during your presentation. Each type of seating arrangement presents unique advantages and disadvantages. Here's how to best manage three of the more common set-ups.
August 28, 2014
Whether you're presenting standing up or sitting down (in a live meeting or presenting virtually), using good posture is important. We all remember mom's admonitions, “Sit up straight” or “Don’t slouch.” Well, she was right, especially when we communicate with others! After all, your posture is one of the first things people notice about you. What do you want it to communicate?
August 14, 2014
Could your meticulous focus on the details be off-putting to others? What can you do to avoid this? Here are a few simple things you can do to better communicate with non-analyticals and big-picture people, so that they feel more connected and satisfied in their interactions with you.
August 07, 2014
Is your presentation falling flat and you can't figure out why? If your slides are dynamic and engaging, the content is spot-on, and you've prepared well, then why is your audience feeling disconnected and confused? It may be a commonly overlooked problem: slide transitions. Here's how to fix it.
July 31, 2014
Want better presentation results? Plan strategically, not tactically. Instead of recycling slides from older decks and making them fit your presentation, start with who your audience is and what you want to accomplish. Here's how.
July 24, 2014
Moving around when you speak benefits both you and your audience. Here are some tips for how and where to move, so that you enhance your connection with your audience, as well as their enjoyment of your presentation.
July 17, 2014
Not only are quotes a great way to punch up what might otherwise be a dry presentation, but they lend credibility to your thoughts and ideas. Here are a few tips on where to source quotes and how to use them effectively in your presentations.
July 10, 2014
Do you ever feel awkward about what to do with your hands when you give a presentation? You're not alone. Isn't it strange, though, that people almost never feel this awkwardness during everyday conversation? Gesturing comes naturally outside of the presentation environment. Anxiety interrupts the ability to gesture when presenting. Here's how to overcome your anxiety and use gestures effectively.
July 03, 2014
Executive Briefing Center presentations are typically high stakes. When millions in revenue are on the line, expectations are high on both sides of the table. If you're asked to present, you feel the pressure. That's why preparation is essential. And, practice is mandatory. Here are a few essential tips to help you prep for and deliver world-class briefings.
June 26, 2014
In the business world, people and events seem to move faster than the speed of light. You've barely completed one task, when five more appear needing your attention. And, they were all due yesterday! Given that you can't stop the earth from spinning, or time itself, here are a few things you can do to keep your communications efficient and relationship-positive amidst the chaos.
June 12, 2014
Speaking to a big audience can be intimidating. Often, bright lights are shining in your eyes, the stage is huge and elevated above your audience, and the stakes may be very high. The pressure is on! At last month’s Cisco Live event, we provided coaching around the unique challenges of speaking to large audiences. Here are a few of the tips we shared for tackling these challenges.
June 05, 2014
Everyone has had to deal with questions that are difficult, asked in an angry voice, or just plain hostile. And, when you're caught off guard by such questions, it's easy to be thrown into a panicky state and not answer well, jeopardizing your credibility. Here's how to avoid losing your cool under pressure.
May 29, 2014
By asking better questions, your sales team can engage in stimulating and productive customer conversations. A recent book demonstrated how a lesson from the elementary classroom applies to Fortune 1000 sales executives.
May 22, 2014
While customer-driven dialogue should be the goal of every sales meeting, make no mistake: there are key “moments of presentation” during these conversations that can determine your success or failure. The best sales people know when they need to shift gears and jump into presentation mode, and they do it well because it's a skill they've practiced.
May 08, 2014
It's not uncommon to talk too fast and speed through a presentation. Too often, people fill potential pauses with filler words such as, “like” or “ya know” or “um” or “ah”. But, the effect on your audience can be devastating. Instead, learn how to use pauses effectively to enhance your audience's understanding of your message and their esteem of you as the messenger.
May 01, 2014
I recently had a conversation with a former client that reminded me of how small changes in how you communicate can effect big results. Something as simple as mastering how to pause can influence how you're perceived by others and what you're able to achieve. Here's what she told me.
April 24, 2014
Employee-contributed innovation happens at every level of your organization. Are the best ideas being heard within your organization?
April 17, 2014
The two-part blog series on How to Communicate with Executives was so well-received, I wanted to write a third and final bonus post. Not to mention, Fortune 500 executives have shared so many invaluable tips with me with over the years, that it's difficult for me not to want to share them all. So, this week I'll conclude the series by focusing on (1) the use of slides when presenting to executives and (2) how to manage push back when interacting with executives.
April 03, 2014
In Part I of this two-part series, Steve Mandel shares two common concerns Fortune 500 executives have voiced again and again about how people communicate with them. Their concerns directly correlate to steps you can take to become a more skilled, confident, and highly competent executive communicator.
March 27, 2014
I'm proud to say that I was a Disneyland Jungle Cruise skipper. I wore the hat, shot the gun, and made “the backside of water” water joke more times than I can count. For me, it was the ultimate part-time college job. The pay was good, the work itself was crazy fun, and it turned out I learned lessons about effective presentations skills that stick with me today. Here are three that anyone can use to be a better presenter.
February 20, 2014
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who averted eye contact with you? It feels awkward and off-putting, at worst. At best, it can be difficult to connect with what that person is saying. A presentation is a conversation with your audience. The degree to which you use eye contact effectively will help you and your audience feel more comfortable and engaged.
January 09, 2014
"Death by PowerPoint" is very much alive and well. Learn how to spare your audience the pain. Gain three easy tips for dramatically improving your presentation slides.
January 02, 2014
Do presentation skills really matter today? Much more than you think. Your ability to present well could mean the difference between status quo and success.
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