Transperia Group, Inc.
Transformational Experiences That Drive Business Results

Posts Tagged ‘Public Speaking’

Why I Recommend Twitter: 140 Characters is All You Get

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Twitter Logo

It’s been interesting to me to see how much national attention has been put on Twitter lately.  While it’s been around for a couple years now, it’s being fully thrust into our cultural mainstream.

I’ve been using Twitter for over a year now. I’m not a massive user and don’t have a ton of followers, like some people, but I would consider myself “active”.

There are several reasons why I use Twitter, but I won’t get into that in this post.  I’d rather discuss one of the best benefits I find to using Twitter.  Here it is:

Limiting posts to only 140 characters makes us better communicators.

As a culture, there is so much clutter in the way we communicate.  And we’ve become lazy in our communication.  I believe that we’ve dismissed the need to be concise and set aside our need to develop our vocabularies and conventions of speech.

Being a clear communicator has become somewhat rare anymore.  People are forgetting how to make a clear statement and then make a cogent point about it.

As I produce events all over the country, I have the privilege (or curse?) of listening to a lot of different speakers.  Overwhelmingly, I find myself bored and distracted by their lack of clarity and inability to make a solid point without meandering rabbit trails.  Tangents, vocal pauses, verbally cluttered illustrations and unfocused talking points confuse the audience and make for a dreadful presentation.  I’m convinced that most speakers think that the longer they speak, the more value they give to the listener.  I couldn’t disagree more.

I’ve written before about the need for brevity in communication.  That’s why I love Twitter.  It forces you to make a clear and (hopefully) compelling statement in 140 characters or less.

That’s not always an easy task.  If you’re like me (and you use Twitter) you’ve probably found yourself starting to cringe at times as you see your available “character count” start to dwindle before you’re ready to end your tweet.  I really get nervous when I’m in the “red zone” and haven’t finished my thought.

I often find myself having to go back and restate my tweet so that it fits in the allotted space.  It forces me to be concise, creative and clear.  My tweets are almost always better because of it.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this discipline is making me a better communicator in general.  This exercise to my “communication muscle” is making me a better communicator in my business, in my telephone skills, with my friends and with my wife & kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we all start talking in tweet-sized nuggets in every area of our lives.  I am suggesting that the more we focus on being clear, brief and concise, the more it will force us to cut the clutter, find just the right words we need, and be more compelling communicators.

If you’re on Twitter and would like to follow me, I’d be honored.  Let’s keep the conversation going.  You can find me here:  http://twitter.com/markbennardo

Hot 5: Avoiding Power Point Overkill

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Unnecessary GraphicI have a love-hate relationship with Power Point.  To be honest, it’s more of a hate-hate relationship.

I love using visual images to enhance a message.  They can stimulate, illustrate, & highlight good content.  More and more, however, I’ve seen the medium used and misused beyond its intended purpose and effectiveness.  You may use Power Point, Keynote, Pro Presenter, whatever—the software may vary, but the issue is the same.

I recently was producing an event for business professionals.  As I connected with the Keynote Speaker before the session, he informed me that he had 282 slides in his presentation.

“That’s a lot of slides,” I observed, trying hard to be understated.

“It’s okay,” he responded, “It covers 3 hours of training.  Besides, they go by pretty fast.”

“Go by pretty fast?”  I’ll say.  During a 3-hour training session, that’s more than 1.5 slides per minute.  Think about it.  A new graphic every 40 seconds.  That’s assuming that every graphic is equally spaced out, with no hesitations in the presentation.  A new slide every 40 seconds for 3 hours.  My head is still spinning.

Honestly, I think we’ve become lazy.  We have a classic example of the tail wagging the dog. The medium has become the message.  We’ve taken the focus off of our need to tell a compelling story and replaced it with a graphic delivery system.

A lot of presenters I see these days simply use Power Point as a public Teleprompter.  Consider this: if all your content is on the screen, then you, as the presenter, become unnecessary.  As a participant, I really don’t want or need to read your crib notes.  As with many other aspects of good communication, less is more.

As you prepare your next presentation, I encourage you to ask yourself these “Hot 5” questions:

  1. Is this graphic really necessary? Would my presentation be substantively any different without it?  If not, eliminate it.
  2. Will it distract from my message? It may be cool, hip, edgy or beautiful, but if it becomes a distraction, it shouldn’t be there.
  3. Will it increase or hinder the credibility of my message?
    • Is the design and composition of high quality?
    • Is it easy to read?
    • Is it easy to digest?

    If not, why give your audience any unnecessary reason to discredit you or your message?

  4. If the projector lost power, would my message suffer? Sure, it may lose a little zip, but if it suffers, then you’re relying too heavily on the graphics.
  5. Will it take emphasis off of me? Don’t ever forget that, as the presenter:

You are the story.  YOU are the show.  You are the star.

The message is much more important than the medium.  If you’re not convinced that you can deliver the goods on your own merit, then no amount of graphics will make a difference.

Let’s give Power Point a little rest.  It’s overworked, tired and needs a break.