Don’t Slay Your Audience – 5 Presentation Blunders You Must Never Make

Fotolia_42983452_XSSharpen your presentation skills and get brilliant audience feedback every time by obeying these five golden rules:

1.         Never try to fool your audience

Audiences are generally very perceptive and know when the speaker is congruent and ‘walks the talk’.

They also realize when a presenter is simply delivering a book report; that they’re just covering the top-level points of the topic presented.

When you’re the keynote speaker, the audience should be able to sense you’re an expert in that particular niche or topic.

2.         Never read directly from your notes

Your audiences want to experience what’s in your heart and in your mind rather than your monotonous notes.

Using notes to guide you through the important points is fine, but if you’re reading from a script, you may as well hire a professional actor who is probably more adept at bringing a script to life. Know your material and tailor delivery so your audience react to it along the way. Feed them the information they’re hungry for.

3.         Never disclose insider stories

Mentioning some event or anecdote about someone that most of your audience knows nothing about will simply alienate them.

Whilst you might strike a chord with a select few, the majority of your audience will be left in the dark, making them feel as though they’re not among the chosen few. Much better to use this brief moment of their time to have a more intimate, inside dialogue which will definitely capture their attention more positively.

4.         Never make a joke at your audience’s expense

Humor is a wonderful communication tool, provided you’re funny. Even if you’re gifted in this respect, still be careful when and how you use it. Also remain mindful not to alienate members of your audience whose native language is not identical to your own.

Stories about people (other than your audience) and events, if done in good taste, can set the tone for a positive learning environment. However if you aim your humor directly at your audience, you’ll end up establishing a ‘me versus you’ atmosphere that may interfere with the message you’re trying to get across.

Attacking an audience at any level, even if you’re not intentionally being offensive, will typically make them defensive and distrustful of you.

5.         Never go over your allocated time

Your mission is to deliver the material that was promised and to do it within the expected time frame.

If no time frame is announced, tell the audience up front how much of their time you’ll take. For example, “We’re going to be together for the next 30 minutes and during this brief time ……….”.


Maybe you’ve had an experience (good or bad) that you’d like to share here for the benefit of others and if so, it would be great if you could post a comment below.

Bored at Work? 3 Blindingly Easy Ways to Change It

Fotolia_2511993_XSLet’s cut to the chase because I don’t want to make this personal development exercise any more complicated for you than it need be:

  1. Focus on people affected by the task (rather than actual task itself). For example, chartered accountancy may be considered boring by some but the work itself has the effect of helping the client achieve necessary and far-reaching goals (for example, doing accounting work for a manufacturing firm helps all the people who use their products)
  2. View the task as steps towards solving an even larger puzzle. Tracking a project budget might seem boring to some but when considered from the perspective of freeing up resources to facilitate the setting up of new projects – that’s a different story!
  3. Engage in more exciting tasks outside work. Take on fun, recreational activities outside of work so you feel that your life isn’t boring overall. That way you can view the occasional boring tasks at work from a different perspective and therefore with renewed vigour.

Now that you’ve read this, don’t file it away in your mind and let it stagnate. Promise to yourself that for the next 10 boring tasks you have to deal with over the coming weeks you’ll put them through the steps above and see what a difference it makes. If you’ve had some success perhaps you could post some tips or thoughts for others to share.

Take FULL Control: 5 min Crash Course in Negotiation

Fotolia_54020632_XSI have a confession to make. The first time I was asked about this personal development skill shortcut, I thought it would be really simple – just go to and search for books on negotiation. But which of the top 869 results that first came up should I start with? Even with targeted keywords, Google narrowed it down to just under 2 million hits. Not very helpful.

I decided to go back to basic principles and recalled what my first boss (in my first ‘real’ job) taught me a long time ago.

He said there are three fundamental things you must always remember in any negotiation:

  1. What’s the very best outcome you could ever wish for?
  2. What’s the most likely (realistic) outcome?
  3. What’s the very least (the bare minimum) you’d accept?

So, I thought okay, for my end of year appraisal that directly translates into:

  1. End of year salary increase (greater than rise in inflation), 10% end of year performance bonus and a promotion.
  2. Salary adjustment in line with inflation and a 5% bonus.
  3. Same salary and acknowledgement of good performance

What I actually ended up with was somewhere in between 1 and 2 with a few other minor ‘bonuses’ I hadn’t even thought of. I considered the outcome of the negotiations to be a success.

The simple technique I’ve just taken you through encourages flexible thinking in that it leads to three potential (yet still positive) outcomes. Compared to the alternative technique (of success or failure) it’s obvious which approach is better. The really neat thing about this technique is, even if you don’t meet all the criteria for success, then the result isn’t automatic failure – it’s just a different outcome.

Another benefit of using this basic negotiation technique is that it forces you to prepare, which gives you room for maneuver when you’re right in the thick of the negotiation. You’ll be much clearer about your position and better able to get that across.

If you’ve had some recent experiences with this please feel free to share by posting a comment below.

7 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Stamp Out Stress

Fotolia_45463112_XSStress management and preventing burnout are critical factors to monitor in your quest for ongoing health and well-being.

Here are seven ways you can actively combat work stress before it takes hold:

1.   Communicate effectively

If a colleague is giving you stress it’s likely that one or both of you is not communicating effectively:

  • Look at it from their perspective so you can better understand their viewpoint
  • Listen to their needs to see how they can be addressed. If you can meet their needs, a source for conflict can rapidly be removed together with the stress that comes with it
  • If you’re better able to communicate your own needs, you’re more likely to get agreement from others
2.   Think positively

If things aren’t going right, you may fall into the trap of thinking negatively. It’s easy to say you don’t like your job, but what steps are you actually taking to correct this?

  • If you’ve already got a positive attitude, it’ll be that much easier to maintain the momentum and drive you’ll need to solve any work problems.
  • It’s possible that things at work aren’t as bad as you think. If you focus on what’s going well, it’ll give you less stress, more patience and lead to better overall job satisfaction.
3.   Look after yourself

If you’re dedicated to your work, there is a possibility you may start to lose yourself in it. You may begin to feel that your work has started to become your whole life. If that’s the case, it’s best to take a step back and focus on taking care of yourself.

  • Look after your body and exercise regularly, eat nutritious foods, and make sure you get sufficient sleep
  • Have regular breaks and enjoy something unrelated to work
  • Avoid staying late at work or bringing work back home. Of course, at times it may be less stressful to simply stay and complete a project, rather than be overdue in completing it. (If this is the case on a regular basis you may also need to concentrate on strengthening your time management skills)
4.   Accept we’re all human

The drive for perfection is in itself an unfortunate stress inducer. So, accept that everyone can make mistakes.  If you are able to develop a level of trust in other people to get the job done correctly, you and your team can continue to produce quality work. And, if you remain flexible, it’s less likely you’ll feel stressed.

5.   Be understanding of other points of view

If you understand your line manager’s expectations, then you’re in a position to take better action to either meet them or to tactfully make known your own expectations.

6.   Get organized

Being organized can be critical to achieving work stress relief. If your working environment isn’t organized, it’s likely to lead to disorganization within your own mind. Your thoughts may become fragmented to the point you’ll be less able to think effectively on your feet, leading to heightened stress.

7.   Take responsibility

Simply by taking responsibility for your own actions, by remaining accountable, you’ll be focused on consistent self-improvement without the need for making any excuses. So stress is dramatically reduced.


Minimizing stress at work will take practice, however the results you’ll get will continue to reward you. Have I left anything out that works, or is working for you now? Let me know by posting a comment below.

Workplace Bliss: Get Organized in 7 Simple Steps

Fotolia_39102264_XSBeing organized is critical in the office and at home for you to function efficiently and productively. If you’ve reached the stage where looking for a place to sit or an empty space to put a file has become a challenge, then it’s time to re-organize.

  1. Most of the following suggestions hold true for both office and home. Find a place for everything and put it in its place. This means filing and storing things away. If that thought is already making you feel overwhelmed, divide the ‘to-dos’ into more manageable sizes. Before you start, make sure you have plenty of storage bins and file folders to hand. This is where you must be quite ruthless. A good rule of thumb is that if you’ve not read or utilized the paperwork in the previous six months you can probably trash it. If you’re truly honest with yourself but still not sure (for example, you think you may need to keep it for legal reasons), then prepare a long-term file bin.
  2. Try to make it a habit of not handling each piece of paper or file more than once. Don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked by the reading of any documents otherwise you’ll never finish. Save it for later. Right now your goal is to eliminate clutter and get organized.
  3. Keep only essential items on your desk such as a phone, computer and (daily used) office supplies. A personal photo frame on the desk is OK because you want your work environment to remain user friendly. However, other personal items shouldn’t be in plain view. To keep you focused, the top of your desk should have only one project open at a time. Once a project is finished make sure you get in to the routine of filing it away.
  4. Now that the top of your desk is clear and things are in place, follow with the drawers and gain motivation from the extra storage space you’re automatically creating for yourself. Keep your filing system as basic as possible so it’s always an easy process to retrieve an item. If you’re concerned about losing track of an article, either store it in a clear container or label it clearly.
  5. Create a ‘to-do’ list and keep it where you’re able to readily refer to it. Keep your appointment calendar up to date and review it regularly.
  6. Reward yourself after completing the re-organization, and also take the opportunity to commit to keeping organized.
  7. Straighten your desk and work area at the end of each working day so you’re able to greet the next day with both a clean desk and a clear mind.

Have I left anything out that you’ve found really helped you? If so, please post a comment below – I’d really like to hear from you.