Archive for February, 2012

Remember, remember…techniques for remembering your presentation

February 24, 2012

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

In my last blog post I looked at some techniques to help you out should you lose your place or simply “go blank” when giving a presentation. In this blog post I’ll be sharing a technique that I use to help me remember a list of up to ten things very quickly. The technique I want to show you is called “pegging.” The more you use the technique the better you get. I use it regularly to remember the headlines of my talk or the order of jokes for my stand-up routine.

The idea is that (in your mind’s eye) you “peg” what it is you are trying to remember to a number. There are three stages to this:

Stage 1

The Rhyming Pegging System

Substitute numbers with something visual. I use a rhyming system whereby each number from 1 – 10 is replaced with something that rhymes with it. Hence:

1 = Run
2 = Zoo
3 = Tree
4 = Door
5 = Hive
6 = Sticks
7 = Devon
8 = Gate
9 = Wine
10 = Hen

Most people can master Stage one in a matter of seconds.

Stage 2

Decide on the ten things you need to remember, (this could be headings for your presentation.) List them alongside the numbers. Here I’m going to use a list of random words:

1 = Marketing
2 = Car Wash
3 = Bathrobe
4 = Money
5 = Map
6 = Fountain
7 = Lifeguard
8 = Banana
9 = Valentine’s Day
10 = Treacle

Stage 3

“Peg” or link your word to the number substitute by visualisation.*

1. So, you need to link your word Marketing to the word Run. Picture yourself running along through a busy market handing out Marketing leaflets. You’re wearing a running vest that says “Marketing” on the front. There you get the picture (forgive the pun.) Now when you think “One” the word Marketing should pop into your brain.

Continuing with the list

2. Picture elephants at a Zoo – washing cars with their trunks.

3. Visualise a Bathrobe hanging high in a tree.

4. In your mind’s eye open a door and imagine the joy of finding a large sum of money behind it.

5. Imagine a group of bees studying a map – they’ve lost the way to their hive.

6. See a fountain with huge jets of water shooting up into the sky. You notice a bundle of sticks being held up in the air by the force of the water.

7. Picture laying on a sandy a beach in Devon. A lifeguard meets your eye!

8. There’s an ornate wrought iron gate with a banana impaled on each of its spikes

9. Visualise a wine bottle – on it’s label there’s a huge heart symbolising Valentine’s Day. See yourself enjoying a glass of the wine with your Valentine.

10. Picture a hen having difficulty walking. She’s stuck in a river of treacle.

Simply recall the number rhymes and you’ll recall the pegged “answers”

*Tony Buzan the master of memory suggests that you do more than visualise – that you employ as many senses as possible when linking the number rhyme to your object. So. Hear the hen clucking furiously as she struggles to get out of the treacle.

Seems mad! But it’s almost impossible to forget your list once you’ve learned it. I find it tremendously useful when delivering a presentation. I hope you do too.


For Fear of Forgetting… what can you do if you forget your presentation?

February 17, 2012

Comedians write on their hands…

When you stand up to speak at a seminar, conference or even at a team meeting, do you ever worry that you’re going to forget what to say? That’s not surprising – it’s a key concern that most people have and often cited as a common side effect of nerves.

Unfortunately, the way in which most people find their way around this problem, ends up working against them… PowerPoint. Yes, most people type out their script, using PowerPoint as an auto-cue, and then proceed to read it to their audience.  Let me tell you… audiences hate being read to. You should avoid this approach.

So, the problem remains – how do you ensure you won’t forget the content of your talk? Over the next couple of blog posts I’ll be sharing with you some of the strategies that great speakers use in order to solve this little conundrum.

The obvious answer is to learn your material. Rehearse it over and over again.  Not just in your head, but, out loud. We learn things “parrot fashion” and the act of constant repetition definitely helps.

But even then, nerves alone can make you “go blank.”  It can happen to anyone. You just need to find a way out of the problem should that happen!

Frank Dick OBE

I once had the privilege of working with Frank Dick OBE – the former British Athletics Federation’s Director of Coaching. Frank is much in demand and is a brilliant motivational speaker. Travelling with him between venues I said, “Goodness, you have a fantastic memory. You never forget your material.” He replied, “I often forget my material! When I do, I make out that I’ve just thought of something funny – I stop and I tell a little joke (I have loads I keep up my sleeve) and as I’m telling it I wander back to my notes. As the audience laugh at the punch line I sneak a peek at my notes and… I’m off again.”

So, have your notes to hand. Notes you can call on should you lose your place, or forget your lines. Best not to have these written on your hand (a trick adopted by many a stand-up comedian) as they are evident to the audience and don’t look terribly professional.

If you are speaking from a lectern you can have an A4 pad before you, but personally  I like to use index cards. Viewed side on they are quite unobtrusive and they fit nicely inside a pocket.  The secret though, whatever you choose, is to write just key words as notes. Use only a few key words to keep you on track.  If you write out your script in full the temptation will be to read it. To connect with your audience you need to maintain eye-contact– reading does not help! If you do “go blank” you need to find your place quickly. You do not want to read through an essay in order to get back on track. Keep your notes short.

Index Cards best for notes

I keep my notes in my inside jacket pocket. If I lose my place I’ll sometimes admit it (we are all human – it’s going to happen every now and then.)  I’ll say, “Ladies and Gentlemen… do you ever get half way through a sentence and completely forget what you’re going to say next? Well it’s just happened to me now! I haven’t a clue what comes next… just bear with me…” I calmly take out my notes slowly look through them till I’ve found my place say, “Ah, yes of course…” and simply continue. Most people don’t even register what happened.

In my next blog post I’ll be sharing with you a memory technique that I use for learning things quickly. I serves me really well, not only when I’m out and about delivering keynote talks but also if I find myself without paper and pen but I need to remember what I’ve just heard or even thought.

In the meantime If you have some tips or tricks for keeping your presentation on track please share them here – I’d love to hear them.

Are Rain Makers born or are they made?

February 10, 2012
Rain Making

Rain Making?

There are many clichés and adages in sales training; “People buy from people they know, like and trust” is one of my favourites – because it’s so true.  The key job for all of us who have a product or service to sell is to become known, liked and trusted in our market place.

There are many ways in which you can do this, including:

  • writing blogs and articles
  • giving presentations
  • staying in touch with clients after the job is done
  • developing questioning and listening skills
  • becoming astute at spotting opportunities
  • and networking.

Ford Harding, the man who coined the phrase “Rain Making” to describe the processes needed to generate good quality leads, recommends all of the above. A “rain maker” brings in more business to her firm than she can service herself. Any business would love to have more Rain Makers in its employ.

Harding makes the point in the introduction to his book “Rain Making” that “whilst many firms offer in-house training on technical issues… marketing & sales training is…” and I quote, “…spotty.”

Out Networking

Working the Room?

When we go networking we see that not everyone is good at it.  Many actually undermine their likeability, trustworthiness to a point where people just don’t want to know them! It’s often because they put too much pressure on themselves to sell. They don’t. They get frustrated. They give up.

At New Tricks we train people to network properly… we help to create Rain Makers.

Our top tips for Networkers include:

  • Rather than focussing on generating business, first focus on becoming known, liked and trusted.  It’s unlikely business will flow until those qualities are established.
  • Develop a succinct “elevator pitch” that describes how you help your clients– rather than just listing what you and your firm do!
  • Get there early – it’s much easier to introduce yourself to new arrivals.
  • Smile, say “hello” and ask lots of questions
  • Target yourself to meet at least five new people and to find out what they do. Look for a co-incidence
  • Make an effort to remember and use people’s names in conversation – it impresses and really help establish rapport
  • Follow-up with people you’ve met – a “follow-up cup of coffee” is a more realistically achievable outcome than a bit of business.

For other blog posts on Networking see How to remember People’s Names and Are you Networking or Just Connecting

I recommend the latest edition of Ford Harding’s book Rainmaking: Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field – here’s what others thought.

Please buy it from your local Independent Bookshop though. Mine’s Jaffé & Neale

I say, I say I say… What did the presenter learn from the comedian?

February 3, 2012

In the past year I have, with a good friend of mine, Dave Arnold, set up the very successful Cotswold Comedy Club. We’ve run 8 gigs and seen twenty five excellent comedians. As a presentation skills trainer I watch them intently and I always learn from them. Here then are the Ten Top Tips that presenters can learn from stand-up comedians!

Your audience

1)   The “performance” begins from the second an audience claps eyes on you! Comedians work on their approach to the microphone and ooze confidence. They eyeball the audience, smile (unless it’s Jack Dee of course) and start with a welcoming “Hello” “Hiya” or “Good evening.” They then… wait for it… wait for the audience to say “Hello” back! Presenters should do the same.

Ed Aczel

2)   Comedians don’t bother with PowerPoint. Neither should you (unless you really can’t explain something without it!) Ed Aczel uses a flip-chart, badly (intentionally) for comedic effect. Most presenters use PowerPoint as an autocue – comedians don’t.  Some write on the back of their hand (that doesn’t look too professional) but most just learn their material and rehearse lots. Presenters take heed.


3)   The very best comedians engage with their audience. They ask questions, they allow the audience to interact. The audience has a say in where the act goes. Yianni Agisilou banters with his audience but maintains control of the flow and direction of his act. Presenters should engage their audience too.

Gary Delaney

5)   The best comedians pare down the words in their act to an absolute minimum. Gary Delaney has mastered the one-line gag format in a really economical way – there’s no “fat” in his act. A presenter should work at simplifying their message and cutting out anything extraneous. Gary is also adept at tip number six:

6)   Read the feedback from your audience; adapt and change your material accordingly.

Jonny Aswum

7)   The comedians that go down well with our audiences are those who are, smiley, enthusiastic and seem genuinely pleased to be there. Jonny Awsum is a tremendous example. Presenters should be enthusiastic – if not passionate about what they are presenting.

8)   Comedy is a serious business and those who are serious about getting on perform as many gigs as they can and learn from every one. If a comedian is any good it’s because they’ve had hours in front of an audience. It’s the same for presenting.

Milo McCabe
Chris McCauseland

9)   Two of my favourite comedians Milo McCabe and Chris McCausland are masters of the… “pause.” Pausing allows the audience to catch up, reflect on what’s just been said and gives you thinking time too.

10) Great comedians rarely outstay their welcome and often leave the audience wanting more. If things aren’t going well – they get off quick! Presenters should do the same.