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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)

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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.

Mid-morning

  • 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.

English Communication: How to Establish Rapport at Meeings

English Communication: How to Establish Rapport at Meeings

Blog for Saturday, July 17, 2021

Sometimes you going to a meeting to persuade.  The meeting could be one-on-one, you with a group, person-to-person or virtual. Use the first five minutes to establish rapport and relax people.  Egos are on alert the first few minutes of a meeting, and by putting people at ease, they’ll be receptive to your ideas.

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One way to rapport is to bring lots of information with you.  Say it’s the first time you’re meeting with the group, then Google the leaders and social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn so you have current info on their backgrounds and activities.  During the first five minutes you could say – “I looked you up online, you’ve had  quite a career” – or mention it when they start talking about something you recognize from your research.  Visit their company’s website.

If you know the people you’re meeting with, use the first five minutes to make them feel valued.  If it is a superior,  acknowledge that the person is taking time out of his or her busy day.  You could say, “Thanks for meeting with me. I know you are busy.”  Or you can be more specific, for example by asking about a project the person is working on.  Or you could be even bolder and aim to be memorable.   The suggestion of Chris St. Hilaire is to think  about the last time your superior/boss or member of management complained about  something – babies crying on the  airplane or a restaurant which never puts enough mayo on a sandwich. When you go to meet with this person, bring a pair of inexpensive headphones or a jar of mayonnaise, set it on the desk, and say, “I’ve solved your problem.  Can I have a minute of your time?”  It is using a casual touch to signal that you listen to the other person and care enough to actually go out and  buy  the item.

During the first five minutes, you will also be making a visual impression.  Here are some tips to consider. Conventional wisdom is to match your dress style to the people you’ll be meeting—this makes you one of them.  

Another tip is that when you are selling a service, consider that you may not want to look exactly like the people you’re persuading.  If you are just like them, why do they need you?  They need a person who can contribute something new.  So consider dressing a little differently to set yourself a little apart.  In this fashion, you are also signaling that you are not competing with them.   Then there is the old but true wisdom of salesmanship that if you’re going to sell something valuable, you need to look affluent.  With all this in mind, you might go with casual dress and choose a classy pullover sweater and jeans, both of which are obviously expensive. Expensive shoes work too.

Lastly, put people at ease knowing that other people will notice and be curious about whatever you are carrying.  It is an icebreaker and rapport building.

Think about how your behavior and dress can put people at ease. Your intention will then direct you in your choices!

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

copyright Clear Talk Mastery, Inc 2021

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How to Succeed in the First Five Minutes for Meetings

English Communication: How to Succeed in the First Five Minutes for Meetings

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Blog 201 on Friday, July 2, 2021 Everyone goes to meetings, face-to-face or virtual. You could be there to persuade.  Or you could be there to take in or contribute information.  Whatever your purpose, the first five minutes are critical. They are not about impressing other people but about putting people at ease.

First impression is key. smile, make eye contact, and offer a body greeting appropriate for the now. With Covid still around a firm handshake may not be the greeting of choice. Use local custom, perhaps it is a slight bow, hand palms touching with a slight bow, or elbow greeting.

Here are some other etiquette tips for meetings.   If someone asks you how you are, don’t just say, “Fine.”  Instead say, “Fine, thank you for asking. How are you?”   It seems obvious, but people often forget to ask about the other person, and it is likely to be interpreted that you are concerned only with yourself. The “thank you for asking” is gracious.

The second tip is for introductions.  Be sure to include your last name when introducing yourself.  In the North American culture, information systems are organized around last or family names. So for future reference and knowing how to contact you, people love to know your last name.

The third tip is that if you are a visitor and someone asks if you’d like something to drink, request water and be sure to thank them when they hand it to you.  People want to do something nice for you. This is a certain way to make them feel good about themselves without inconveniencing them.  So little, yet it builds connection.

Next time: Are you going to a meeting to persuade?  More tips for putting people at ease.

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

copyright Clear Talk Mastery Inc 2021 (140723)

English Communication Skills-Time of Day Tips for Presentations, Meetings & Conversations Afternoon and Evening

English Communication Skills:  Time of Day Tips for Presentations Meetings and Conversations- Afternoon and Evening – Blog 100 on June 16, 2021

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Does your body feel the same in the afternoon and evening as it does in the morning? Probably not. But you do want to maximize your influence and making connections during this time of day. Here are some tips to overcome the afternoon and evening barriers to your goals:

Afternoon             

  • If you are leading a meeting , doing a presentation or even a one-on one conversation, — either in-person or remotely– the attendee(s) may need a coffee break.  If you are in-person, do make coffee or tea available. If remotely, suggest the attendee(s) get a cup of coffee or tea before you begin. Otherwise you risk that they’ll interrupt your message to seek out coffee and miss a chunk of what you have to say.
  • More likely in the afternoon is that people may be overwhelmed with data.  Remember, they already put in a half-a-day work! Consider a low-key opening so they ease into your message. Provide lots of handouts or easy access to e-files so they can review details later.
  • Attendees, whether in-person or remote, may need to leave early to commute home or leave to take care of other appointments.  Nothing is worse for listeners than you running overtime at the end of the day.  Make your endtime happen as promised.

Early evening

  • Attendees whether in-person or remote may arrive late (and tired) from working all day.  Respect their situations.
  • Parents with young children may either need to go home early if in-person or leave the remote meeting ,presentation or conversation to put their children to bed.  For in-person, have a table at the back of the room so early departures can take the info sheets without distracting the rest of the audience. For remote gatherings, provide at the beginning of the meetings, the electronic info for the extra materials

After-dinner

  • If attendees are in-person, they may have been drinking alcohol at a cocktail or beer and/or wine reception.  Be prepared for loud chatter.
  • Attendees after dinner may simply want to socialize- and may resent a serious speech, especially one that runs too long.  Engage them with your topic, your enthusiasm, your stories, and your brevity!

Contact Dr. Johnson at ALJohnson@ClearTalkMastery.com to sign up for a Free Sample Lesson with us! 

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

Copyright Clear Talk Mastery Inc 2021 (140716)

English Communication Skills: Presentation- Tips for Time of Day Pitfalls

English Communication Skills: Presentation Tips for Time of Day Pitfalls Blog 199

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

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Here are some pitfalls for morning presentations.  

Breakfast/early morning

  • Listeners may be groggy.  Choose a stimulating issue  or anecdote to open with. Get audience involvement by having them raise their hand in agreement or disagreement. Example: Raise your hand if you or someone you know wants to move in the next six months.
  • People may be in a rush.  Don’t do leisurely humor or drawn-out details.  At breakfast, heed the great US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s advice: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”
  • Listeners may be preoccupied with work tasks of the day.  That affects their receptivity.  Draw them into the topic with quick anecdotes or thought provoking quotations.
  • People attending may be irritable. Why? Because they had to change their morning commute to attend the meeting.

Mid-morning

  • Listeners may need a coffee break.  Provide coffee and tea.  Otherwise listeners may head to the nearest cafeteria and miss a chunk of your presentation.
  • Attendees may need to use the restrooms.  If your listeners have been sitting for more than an hour, give them a quick three-minute break.  Otherwise, they’ll just leave in the middle anyway—interrupting other people  in the audience and distracting you.
  • People may need to check in to their office for messages.  Again, a three minute break is good to give them a chance to make a quick call without bothering the whole room.  Don’t give them too long, or they may get bogged down with expanded work details

Immediately before lunch

  • Listeners are hungry and probably can’t concentrate well.  If no one asks any questions before lunch, it doesn’t mean they are bored only that they’d rather go eat.  A good alternative is to 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 for making them late for lunch.
  • Listeners have been sitting all morning and may need to stretch.  Invite them to stand up and take a thirty-second “stretch break” right at their seats.
  • Listeners may get “information overload.”  Supplement your speaking with handouts so people can review material later.

Next time: What about lunch presentations?

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises. Copyright Clear Talk Mastery 2021 (140702)

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice Makes Perfect

Rehearse out loud. The only way you can tell how your speech will sound is to do it and listen to it. That means you have to say it out loud. Doing the speech in your head and listening to it doesn’t work – that is not the voice your audience will hear. Aim for clear English so that every word is easily understandable. Copyright Clear Talk Mastery 2021 (140630)