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Looking for new ways to incorporate stories into your next presentation?

Consider adding mime and movement to animate your message.

Your audience will love you for it.




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Presentation & Communication Skills - The Power of Analogies - Victoria Labalme - Keynote Speaker - Innovation, Creativity - Made to Stick.jpg
In their landmark book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about what they call "The Curse of Knowledge" -- a situation wherein professionals forget that what is common knowledge to them might be completely foreign to a newcomer or someone outside their industry.

I love this phrase, "The Curse of Knowledge"....

A few months back, I had a conference call with two top people from a company who asked if I might create a customized keynote for them. The business they're in is not something I'm familiar with and so I was asking what exactly it was they did. After three rounds of this question in different formats, the two experts on the call could only respond using terms from their corner of the industry. I was still confused.

In the end, I called up a third individual who brought it all home for me in a simple, easily graspable analogy. "Ohhhh. NOW I get it." But if I think back on those two from the conference call and ask myself, "Are they experts?" my answer is, "To a certain degree. Are they knowledgeable? Yes. Are they visionary leaders? No." Their view is just too myopic.

Presentation & Communication Skills - The Power of Analogies - Victoria Labalme - Keynote Speaker - Innovation, Creativity - Snow Ball.jpgWhether you're in the financial services or insurance industry, technology or health care, education or a cutting edge B2B offering, if you're going to be a leader with influence and impact, and if you want to sell your product or service, it's incumbent upon you to take what is obvious to you and turn it into something easily graspable to others.

Presentation & Communication Skills - The Power of Analogies - Victoria Labalme - Keynote Speaker - Innovation, Creativity - Bubble Wrap.jpgSo
1) think of one of the most complex,
complicated or confusing components at the core of your work.
2) then think of a crackerjack analogy and
3) see if the next person who serves your cup of coffee can understand it...remember it...and repeat it.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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How can you make your audience feel special? How can you make your presentation come alive?

There are many ways....

One superb technique is what I call "Site Specific" comments and experiences.



If you've ever seen the video of the one-man show Robin Williams did at the The Metropolitan Opera House in NYC ("Live at the Met"), you will know just what I'm talking about. 

Robin did his show in 1986 and at the time, Imelda Marcos was all over the news.

As the famous Met chandeliers retracted up into the ceiling on their extraordinary cables -- a jaw dropping vision that happens before every show (and a show in and of itself) -- RVictoria_Labalme_Presentation_Skills_Expert_Training_Keynote_Speaker_Met_Chandeliers.jpgobin pointed up to the glorious lights and called out, "Look! Imelda Marcos's earrings!"

He got a huge laugh.

So what can you do in your next speech?

1) Get to the venue early
2) Look around

3) See if you can connect your content and comments in some way to the environment
 
Your creativity doesn't have to be Broadway-level. Even a small reference will add a sense of immediacy.

Victoria_Labalme_Keynote_Speaker_CUNA_Presentation_Skills_Expert.jpgAt a keynote I gave in New Orleans in for CUNA (Credit Union National Association), the event planners had decorated the stage with beautiful colored panels articulating the convention's core themes.

The panels were turquoise, indigo, rose and purple. And so as I talked about colors, The Prism Effect and recognizing opportunity, I referred to the different hues here.

It's these small touches that let your audience recognize that you are mindful of where you are -- that you are present, in the moment, attune.

So whether you're meeting with prospects in a small office or speaking on a stage before thousands, look around.

  • Be creative.
  • Connect your comments to the specific site in which you are presenting
...and remember
  • Audiences appreciate customization, inventiveness and originality.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Importance of Authenticity

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So often people and presenters feel they have to be something other than who they are. But there's nothing the audience wants more than the authentic you.

Think back on a great speech you've heard. Did you notice if the speaker stumbled on a word or said "um" a few times? I'll bet you'd rather have someone who messed up but had a heartfelt & believable message than a phony speaker who had every word perfect.



Matching Your Tone to Your Intention

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Many speaking coaches will tell presenters to "vary their tone". The problem with this kind of coaching is that it leads to "outside in" behavior. The presenter starts to raise and lower his/her voice and gesture "creatively" simply for the purpose of variety. The result: an inauthentic delivery style and self consciousness on the platform.

The fact is, variation will arrive organically when you are truly connected to your material and you are -- as we say in the acting world -- in the moment.

Just think of how a kid tells a story when they're excited or in a state of wonder.

I had an Alexander Technique teacher years ago who used to say "let, allow, permit" when it came to how we moved on stage.

The same is true for speaking. Rather than force a tone, let it happen organically.  On top of this, it's critical that you are connected to what you are saying so that you never are out of sync with your content. Quiet moments should elicit a quiet tone. Excited moments should bring an excited tone.

But all this will come if you structure your presentation so that you have a full spectrum of experiences within it and then you reconnect with those experiences. If you do, you will have more variety than you can possibly imagine because inside of you is a full prism of colored light just waiting to shine.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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I am always, always, still learning and practicing the importance of prep. It is critical. Even for a short presentation.

When I was on "Sex & The City" now over a decade ago, I had only 5 lines. I only had 5 lines to establish my character and tone.

When you have a brief introduction to give or a short 5 minute segment as part of a larger client or prospect presentation, when you only have a brief moment to say good bye to someone or to welcome them,  how you use those 5 minutes (or 2 or 10 minutes) becomes even more critical. You only have that one opportunity. So don't blow it. Don't take it lightly.

Never underestimate the power of prep - especially when your stage time is limited.

As Stanislavsky said, "There are no small parts; only small actors." Don't be a small actor. Do your part and do it well.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Animating Experiences, Adjectives and Emotions

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As we all know, there are many components that make for a great speech but one technique that's rarely talked about is what I call "Animating Experiences, Adjectives and Emotions."

When you are truly committed to your point, analogy or story, your body and voice will come to life. This is why coaches who work from "the outside in" will get you in trouble. The gestures they give you to do are forced and inorganic. And, the forced movement can also come from speakers who have presented their story so many times that the movements seem phony -- a mix of self-aware, hollow and overdone.  

Think for a moment of a young child you know or your own kids when they were little. When telling a story that they truly want you to 'get', their voice is filled with unexpected sounds and huge shifts in volume and tone; their bodies is alive with animation.

The fact is, they are 100% committed.
 
So how committed are you?
How much passion do you have for your topic?
And how important is it that your audience 'get' your message?


How much or how you little animating you do depends on the venue, the audience, your message and your objectives...a boardroom presentation is vastly different from a keynote address at an arena-sized space, but
 
audiences will never care about your message unless you care first.

And animation is just one way to let that passion out.  Take a look at the video, give one of these ideas a try, and let me know how it goes.


(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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At some point, most of us want to quit. 

Something keeps us going.

For each person it's different, but for each person, it's a driving force...what I call "The Throughline."

My dear pal Jim Freydberg, the Broadway producer, sent me the image below a few months back.
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I loved it. I looked it up and it turns out the image is all over the internet.

What I suspect makes this drawing so popular is that we all feel at times like we're in that tangled mess...and we all think it's wrong.

Sometimes we're the sailing arrow; sometimes we're in the squiggles...(or as the guitarist/songwriter Mark Knopfler says, "Sometimes you're the windshield; sometimes you're the bug.")

It's nice to know that everyone goes through this. Success is filled with screw ups, struggles and sideways steps. Welcome to life.

Years ago in the 1990s, I called Jim in a moment of great despair. I needed some advice and I needed someone who knew the emotional terrain of the performing arts. As a producer, he'd won a Tony award and not many years later, another one of his productions was panned by the press. He'd gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. So I knew he'd understand.

"I want to quit," I murmured into the phone. He listened, absorbed what I was saying, and then replied. His voice was calm.

"You can't quit. You can take a break, but you can't quit."

I got back up on my feet, and I kept going. I had something I wanted to share. It wasn't entirely formed, it wasn't entirely clear, but I knew it had something to do with helping people live life on their own terms, risk forward, and express their vision.

I believe The Throughline is at the core of every business, every Broadway show, every presentation...and every life. Your Throughline is why you do what you do, and once you know that, everything changes. It's not about the goal; it's about something much, much larger.

Whether you're in the tangled mess or panned by the press, reconnecting with your Throughline will help you find your way out. Every time. 




(c) MMXIV Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


The Idea that Might Lead to the Idea

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One of the core tenants of my coaching is exactly this: the power of "the idea that might lead to the idea."

In developing new material or even in revamping old, this is critical. We so often get stuck in old patterns of thinking and when get that flash -- that creative impulse (however wacky) -- it is worth paying attention to.

I believe this is your creative genius at work.

When I start working with a new client, I always explain the importance of this -- of not tossing out any ideas too soon. This gives them freedom to brainstorm without fear of judgment and often what follows is a client will say that day or at a future session, "OK. I know this is kind of strange. But it could be 'the idea that leads to the idea.'"  And we are off and running.

So...let's look at that as it applies to your next interaction in which the topic always feels kind of the same in tone, content and delivery: perhaps it's a weekly staff meeting, an annual convention, a regular get together with some family members or friends at which things are always "kind of the same."

What's your wild idea to shake things up? Begin by saying quietly to yourself, "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" and see where your imagination takes you.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Amateur vs. The Professional

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Last year, one of my EMS (Executive Mastery Series) clients came into NYC for our private session. Despite his high level, his impeccable credentials, and his CEO pedigree, he's still committed to learning, growing, polishing, and improving. It was a joy to see and it was a true honor to work with him.

Though he'd put a ton of time into preparing his presentation for an upcoming event, he realized after our first hour that it was off course and he needed to scrap the entire opening and structure.

It wasn't bad. It was OK. And he could easily have just said, "It's fine." But he wouldn't be where he is now if that were his attitude. He stayed up that night rewriting the whole thing.

The professional is ever aware, always improving, and always asking, "How could it be better?" And then...is willing to do the work to make it so.  It isn't ever easy...but it's always worth it.

(c) Victoria Labalme Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved.