The dreaded Lectern, again

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A simple and effective way to better connect with your audience is to eradicate all barriers between you and them. Namely, avoid standing behind a lectern.

My usual advice is to arrive at the venue early so that you can spot these barriers and try to remove them. This doesn't work, however, when you're speaker number 3 in a row of 4 (with no pause between them) and the speakers before you are more traditionally-minded or less experienced and insist on using the lectern. Additionally, there's the technical aspect in that all the connectors for your laptop are often installed at the lectern and cannot easily be moved.

What can you do?

Finding your own Presentation Style

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When you look at the available literature about presenting, you'll notice a certain kind of books and articles promising to reveal the "secrets" of the most prominent or successful speakers. Inevitably, Steve Jobs is usually amongst the names.

But should you really try to be like one of those famous speakers?

On Brainstorming and Presentations

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We all hang on to this romanticised idea about how brainstorming works, usually in teams. It's when the brilliant and most creative minds of an organisation come together to think deeply about a problem and come up with new ideas and solutions. How could this not work?

Debra Kaye mocked this idealised notion of brainstorming in her talk at the Creativity World Forum in Kortrijk, Belgium recently with a slide that demanded "Stop Brainstorming".

Keep Calm and Carry On

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When you get up in front of an audience to present, you have to be prepared for things to go wrong. But having a Plan B for possible technical problems is not enough; you also need to have the right mindset to handle problems.

On more than one occasion I've seen speakers lose their cool when they ran into technical problems. Guess what? Complaining about the problem, cursing, or blaming the organisers of the event will not make the problem go away. But you risk losing your audience, too. Initially, the audience will be sympathetic when they realise that you're having a problem - they didn't come to see you fail! But it's your responsibility now to make the best of the situation. Complaining and stating the obvious will only put off your audience - the biggest support you'll have at that moment. Don't make that mistake.

Customise Your Intro

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I had the pleasure of seeing Guy Kawasaki live on stage for the first time a few days ago at the Creativity World Forum in Kortrijk, Belgium. I have read some of his books and seen recordings of some of his talks before, so it was interesting to see what, if anything, he would do differently for this talk. In that respect, I was disappointed - it was pretty much exactly what I had come to expect. But then again you have to applaud him for consistently giving talks that are a good mix of entertainment and insights.

Since he was talking to creatives and people who have to pitch their ideas, he also included a short section on how to present more effectively. In addition to his well-known 10-20-30 rule (10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 pt font), he also recommended to customise the introduction of your talk.