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Presentation Time of Day: Pitfalls & How to Prevent the Bad (English Communication Skills)

Blog 182 for Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020 – Title: Presentation Time of Day- Pitfalls and How to Prevent the Bad  (English Communication Skills)


These are COVID-19 times for now and for a while to come.  Some say that this while to come will be lengthy in some sort.  Some say COVID-19 just speeded up what was along the way, anyway.  For example, using technology to do one-on-one or small group, or even large group meetings.

One thing stays constant or the same: human beings. Information gleaned about human beings in what we call the sciences of social psychology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, education, just to name a few, probably remain pretty much the same.

In that light, do the following. Yep—for face-to-face OR remote meetings OR remote teaching.

What time of day will you be speaking or doing a presentation or even teaching?  Will it make a difference? Absolutely.

Here are some pitfalls.   Know these, and you can prevent problems.  For today’s blog  we will discuss  pitfalls for morning presentations.

Breakfast/early morning

  • Listeners may be groggy. That means they are not alert.  Choose a stimulating issue which could be something that the people you are talking to do not agree on.  Or choose an anecdote to open with.   That little story could be about you (that’s actually great!) or about someone else.  Get audience involvement by having them raise their hand in agreement or disagreement.   I think even Zoom  or groups on Skype or Microsoft Teams Meeting allows for seeing  people’s faces.   The audience could raise one hand for No, or disagreement and two hands for yes, or agreement.
  •       EVEN better—is to ask your question in this manner- “Raise your hand if you or someone you know has this issue or problem.   Yay—no embarressent
  • People may be in a rush.  So this is not the time for leisurely humor or drawn-out details.  At breakfast or breakfast time, or early morning, more than any other time of day, it’s wise to heed the great US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s advice: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”  He said that 80 years ago. Still true, you think?
  • Listeners may be preoccupied with work tasks of the day.  This, of course, will affect their receptivity or their willingness to listen to your point of view.  Draw them into the topic with quick anecdotes  or very little stories or thought provoking quotations.
  • People attending your presentation whether in-person or virtual may be irritable. Why? Maybe because they had to change their morning commute to attend the meeting.  Maybe because they sure are tired of “safer at home,” or social distancing, or wearing face-masks or sure do yearn and desire for the freedom of pre COVID-19.    Lawdy… these days we ALL have lots of reasons to be irritable or grouchy or antagonistic.  And honestly, some people have more reasons than other people.


  • Listeners may need a coffee break.  If at all possible, provide coffee and tea.  If you are remote, you can’t provide caffeine liquids.  But you could announce at the beginning for everyone who can to get their cup of coffee or black or green tea or caffeine enhanced soda.  Otherwise listeners may head to the nearest cafeteria if you are in-person, or head to the kitchen area if you are remote and miss a chunk of your presentation.  That’s true for teaching too.
  • Attendees may need to use the restrooms.  A good rule of thumb, a good quick tip: If your listeners have been sitting for more than an hour – for whatever reason– give them a quick three-minute break before you talk.    Otherwise, they’ll just leave in the middle anyway.  That means if this is an in-person presentation, they will nterrupt other people  in the audience and distract you.  If this is a remote presentation, people leaving to use the restrooms have just deprived you of valuable time to impart or give your information.
  • People may need to check in to their office for messages.  These days, it is the mobile phone—for all sorts of messages.  Again, a three minute break is a good remedy—it gives them a chance to make a quick  check to their smart phone or  even to text a message or make a call without bothering the whole room, if you are in person.  Same thing is true for any remote or virtual meetings.  But don’t give them too long, or they may get bogged down with expanded work or personal life details

Immediately before lunch

  • Listeners are hungry and probably can’t concentrate well.  Don’t be surprised if no one asks any questions before lunch.  It doesn’t mean they are bored.  It only means they’d rather go eat.  Thus it is for in-person and remote or virtual meetings.  Here’s a good alternative: Invite people to ask questions throughout your presentation.  Be sure to keep questions and answers in check so you don’t run overtime.  Audiences are very forgiving – except making them late for lunch.
  • Listeners may well have been sitting all morning and may need to stretch.  What’s an easy solution? Invite them to stand up and take a thirty-second “stretch break” right at their seats.
  • Listeners may get “information overload.”  Supplement  or expand out your speaking with handouts  for gatherings in-person so people can review material later. For virtual or remote communication—have a link ready to release at the end of the presentation which has information.  For gosh sake, most experts and seasoned or experienced presenters know to never  give out the supplemental information or study guide or summary information at the beginning of the presentation.  People, including me, cannot resist the temptation to be reading that while you are talking.

Coming in a future blog will be “What about lunch presentations.?”

Copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc.

Nine Non-obvious ways to have deeper conversations – Not the David Brooks NY tips

Nine Nonobvious Ways to Have Deeper Conversations for Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 Blog#190

This is NOT  the David Brooks op-ed NY Times Tips.

I admire the writings of David Brooks—both his style and his content.  But since I am not subscribing to the NY Times, I can’t read what he says.

BUT I think the title and content is great.  So here is my version—

NINE Nonobvious Ways to Have Deeper Conversations

  1. In pandemic times especially, you’ve got to be prepared with direct and to the point ideas or opinions.   Everyone knows to limit 1) spread of respiratory droplets from mouth talking. 2) Even on Zoom, Skype, Telephone, Teams, Facetime— no one has time.
  2. So do this –Do the 3 P’s—Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
  3. Preparation- Figure out what topics are most important to you.  Here’s one idea.  People working in hospices have given out this advice of what to say when your death is imminent: “I’m  going to miss you.”  “I’m sorry.” “I forgive you.” “I love you.”   Whew those are certainly super deep.  Here are similar— “I have missed you.”  “I felt bad about…”   “I felt bad about  xxx  but I understand. “  “I like you.” “I enjoy you.”
  4. I would add to those four hospice statements, this one–—“Take care of yourself.”  Relatedly, in a daily life conversation, you could say:  “What happened last week or what did you do last week that was good, or happy….  For example, what was happy or good even really little—like you had a cup of coffee in the morning.”
  5. Consider opening  a conversation with: “How did the last week go for you?”  and if you want to follow-up “Do you feel like telling me more?”  If you get the body language or words that the other person does not want to say, just flow into changing the subject.
  6. Open conversations with an observation and not a question.  Observation just means a statement.  You could make it something you both have in common. The weather works. The place, season, how you know the hostess/host. Or comment on something  worn at that time by the other person.  Ideally the “observation” should be 60 seconds and no more than 2 or 3 minutes, maximum.
  7. Then if the other person does not respond with talking, then ask a question.   You already know this— some people do not volunteer information.  But if you ask them a question, they feel good about answering.
  8. One of my all- time favorite questions which works every time is “What do you think of that?”
  9. Use the other person’s response to extend out the conversation or perhaps take the conversation a bit deeper.   Easy is to stick to open ended questions which cannot be answered with “yes” or “no” word. Who, what, when, where, why, how.

Copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc.


To Communicate Empathy in Speaking–Including Public Speaking– Do This

BLOG #186 for   Thursday. Oct 15, 2020 English Speaking Skills To Communicate Empathy in Public Speaking—Do This

Richard D. Lewis in his renown or famous book  When Cultures Collide  stated “Empathy is based on accepting differences and building on these in a positive manner. The Japanese may come to accept that American directness is, after all, honest.  The American may perceive that exaggerated Japanese courtesy is, after all, better than hostility.  If the Italian wants to talk 90 percent of the time with a Finn, who is content to be silent (in Finland, silence is fun), then are they not both happy and doing what they do best?”

The most important word in communication is “You”.

Use these in public speaking:

“You’ll get good value if you ________.”

“You understand the price we’ll pay if _________.”

“You can depend on this product to ____________.”

“You can rely on my department for ___________.”

“You are certainly welcome to ________________.”

  • Copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc.