Top 5 Biggest PowerPoint Mistakes: #5 Using PowerPoint in the First Place

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When the going gets tough, shoot the messenger. Don’t laugh. According to the New York Times (“We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint,” April 26, 783414_92347913_no_projector_royalty_free-stock-xchng_3002010), we can blame the ubiquitous PowerPoint for stultifying creativity, a false sense of security, and thousands of hours of lost productivity. (Disclosure: I drafted the bulk of this article – the first of a five-part series – the weekend before the Times published their story.) How could something that feels so right be so wrong?

Let’s start with something a mentor told me before the Trash-80 even made it to the shelves of your neighborhood RadioShack® store. I had to give a presentation to the board of directors of the radio station I so happily spun disks for. These various music directors had no idea what I intended to spring on them – I wanted to add sports broadcasting! I felt a handout might ease their concerns.

“Good idea,” said the mentor, “but don’t pass it out until you’re done with your Continue Reading “Top 5 Biggest PowerPoint Mistakes: #5 Using PowerPoint in the First Place”

3 Essential Public Speaking Lessons I Accidentally Learned While Playing the Violin

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There I sat, fear pulsing through my veins. I had never seen anything like this before. The page had so much black ink it seemed more like a string of 918308_53296922_violin_royalty_free_stock_xchng_300incomprehensible Chinese characters than the opening music to the Overture of My Fair Lady. Mind you, I had dwelled with the elite of the orchestra pit since my freshman days in high school. Nothing scared me. Usually. This thing did.

Bluntly facing me lay four measures of thirty-second notes – a “run” in the vernacular of the musician. I had easily tackled runs of eighth notes and, perhaps with a little more practice, runs of sixteenth notes. I’ve even snuck in a furtive trill of a thirty-second note – but never a four measure run of these speedy bars. I looked at my teacher and agonizingly admitted, “I can’t play these.” What she said next stunned me.

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The Secret of How to Overcome a Sore Throat When Speaking on Solar Neutrinos (or Anything Else)

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Sometimes physics advances too fast. Haste often creates problems. For example, when physicists developed the idea of the neutrino – a theoretically massless waste product from the thermonuclear furnaces powering stars – they calmly set up several underground experiments to detect these little critters as the sun spit them out. Trouble was, scientists couldn’t see enough of them to satisfy their hypothesis. “The data didn’t fit the theory,” claimed the academic elite, “so there must be something wrong with the data.” For forty years, our leading brains winced at the dilemma of the under counted neutrinos – an apparently unsolvable problem.

Your throat's getting worse. You've got to speak in two hours. How can you do it?

Your throat's getting worse. You've got to speak to the Rotary in just two hours. How can you do it?

But, I’m sure not many of you have visited here to learn how to solve the unsolvable problem of missing solar neutrinos. Here’s a more practical quandary: You’re scheduled to speak in a few hours and you’ve just come down with a cold. Your manager says you can take some over-the-counter thingamajig to solve the runny nose and fever, but that sore throat has you on the edge of laryngitis. What’s a great speaker to do?

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3 Critical Points Every Great Speaker Must Address

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Every speaker wants to know the answer to this question: How do I make my presentation more effective, more memorable and more exciting for the audience. Aristotle said it best in his book The Art of Rhetoric (ca 350BC):

Podium

Pathos – A passion for the subject.

Logos – A thorough knowledge of the subject.

Ethos – The acknowledged credibility to comment on the subject (requires Pathos and Logos).

Every aspect of speaking must address at least one (if not all three) of these areas. I hope to tell stories of how I used these in the many successful presentations I have offered to appreciative audiences.