Take a Presentation Tip from the Dragon’s Den


Posted on 15th September 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |presentation skills |Props |Set The Tone |Uncategorized

dragons denSeason Six of the hit Canadian television show, Dragon’s Den debuted last night.  LOVE this show as entrepreneurs pitch their ideas in hopes of securing an equity partner to help their businesses grow even more.

In the US, it’s called Shark Tank, but it is essentially the same show with the entrepreneurs coming from the US. There are two VCs who are on BOTH shows – Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary.  (BTW, Shark Tank is entering Season 2 – one of the shows that STARTED in Canada and crossed over to the US!)

But I digress.  These entrepreneurs have to state their request up front:  ”I am looking for $100,000 for 20% equity in my company.”  They then pitch the Dragons as to why they should invest their own money into their business.  (No, producers don’t front the money – the Dragons invest their OWN money, time and effort into the businesses.  So they have some skin in the game).  Some entrepreneurs are only looking for money.  Most are also looking for a strategic partner who will provide them sage business advice and/or open doors for them.

So it’s not just about the money.  It’s also about who gives you the money.  And sometimes, the Dragons collaborate and make an offer together.  All of which you watch on this television show.  Fascinating to watch.  Even better to learn.

The opening season had Balzac’s Coffee Roasters asking for $350,000 for a 20% equity share in order to open two prime locations in downtown Toronto.  But how many coffee stores do you need?  Toronto has Tim Hortons and Starbucks at every corner!  So what hooked these fire-breathing Dragons into accepting the offer? (BTW, four of the five dragons joined forces into the deal – which is a rare event indeed!)

1)  The owner knew her stuff.  She knew the numbers and was able to credibly answer the Dragon’s questions.

2)  The owner had a track record.  She already had five stores with a 20% operating margin.  So she was credible.

3)  The owner demonstrated how she was different in a short amount of time.  She actually built a small representation of her coffee shop – built in the European tradition with minimal sales displays.  Balzac’s focus is on coffee.

4)  The owner invited the Dragons to join her in the coffee shop – so they could have a teeny tiny experience of Balzac’s Coffee Roasters.

4)  The owner and her chief barista handed out samples of their coffee.   (This is almost a given for anyone who has a physical product to sell.  They must figure out a way to let the Dragons experience the product – and it makes for good television!)

5)  Finally, it didn’t hurt that one of the Dragons enjoys a coffee at Balzac’s from time to time.

Take a look at this episode, and let me know what you think!  What lessons do you take from the Dragon’s Den?

Connect the Dots in Your Presentation


Posted on 1st September 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |Group Interaction |presentation skills |Set The Tone |Uncategorized

shutterstock_163105820In a motion picture, every second costs thousands of dollars to produce – so every second counts.  Every second contributes to the overall story.  Nary a second is wasted.  So when I watch a movie, I am always looking at the “tells” that foreshadow what is to come.  It’s like connecting the dots to see if I can figure out what is going to happen.

Although you presentation doesn’t take millions of dollars to produce, it may take a million seconds of your time!  Each element should contribute to the overall message.  The audience should be able to connect the dots so at the end, they know what you want them to do, think, or feel about your topic.

Simple enough, but it is easy to throw in gratuitous elements that will please your audience – or make you happy.  A story you have told before, a throw away line that always gets a laugh, or shameless pandering to the audience.

Today’s audiences are much more discerning and will see right through it.  They have seen enough movies, presentations, and speeches to know the difference.

This week, I was listening to a speaker who started out with a strong story:  Hurricane Irene that was barreling up the eastern seaboard of the United States.  Irene’s arrival into Prince Edward Island (PEI) was imminent, and the speaker was commenting on how we need to be prepared.  All good grist for a great speech.

When he was done with the story, he proceeded into the body of his speech – which had NOTHING to do with hurricanes, preparedness or stocking up on water.  Nada.  There wasn’t a dot to connect.  And he never came back to the story at the end.  (otherwise known as a “bookend” – a great way to close your presentation and show the relevance of your opening story).

What do you do to make sure the audience can connect the dots?

Perry vs. Bachmann: What You Do Is As Important As What You Say


Posted on 27th August 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |presentation skills |Speaking Trends |Uncategorized

Most of us don’t live in Iowa, so we have to depend on third party information about the candidates to the US Presidency.  CNN, Fox News, or this latest from Politico.com:

The contrast between Rick Perry Michelle Bachmann “had less to do with what they said than how they said it — and what they did before and after speaking.

Perry arrived early…. The Texas governor let a media throng grow and dissolve before working his way across the room to sit at table after table, shake hand after hand, pose for photographs and listen politely to a windy Abraham Lincoln impersonator, paying respect to a state that expects candidates, no matter their fame, to be accessible.

But Bachmann campaigned like a celebrity. And the event highlighted the brittle, presidential-style cocoon that has become her campaign’s signature: a routine of late entries, unexplained absences, quick exits, sharp-elbowed handlers with matching lapel pins, and pre-selected questioners…

‘She kept us waiting, she was not here mixing — then she was talking about what a great evening it was. How do you know? You just got here,’ said Karen Vanderkrol, of Hudson, Iowa, who said she agreed with the substance of Bachmann’s speech, but that one line in particular rang false: ‘I am a real person.’”

Regardless of your political leanings, it is in interesting commentary about the difference in their styles.  And, in my mind, what you DO is just as important as what you say.  In fact, I get really annoyed when they are not in alignment.  Great leaders do what they say, and say what they do.  They are the real thing, both “on” and “off” the job or the platform.

A Senior Moment on Stage

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Posted on 26th August 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |Group Interaction |Humor |presentation skills |Uncategorized

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shutterstock_178026500I recently attended a national convention when one of the speakers had a “senior moment” – she forgot her lines.  It was only a five minute speech, and so she had carefully crafted her speech, practiced methodically and came out onto the stage with energy and enthusiasm.   She performed her speech, much like she practiced it in the car, in the mirror, or to her friends.  Unfortunately, when you are speaking to a thousand people, it just isn’t the same.

Somewhere in there, she got lost.  It could happen to all of us.  In fact, it probably has.  Maybe not to a room of a thousand, but surely, somewhere in your life, you forgot where you were.

So what are your options?

1)  You can pause, take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and you’ll get back on track.  It might not be where you left off….and you might have left out a word, sentence or even paragraph, but you’ll enter back into the speech where it makes sense to you.  And the audience will be none the wiser.  They don’t know what your speech draft looks like – so they have nothing to compare it to!

2)  You can take a deep breath, and subtly refer to your notes – if you have them close by on the lectern, taped to the floor, or have them in your hand.  This is okay too as most audiences are very forgiving.  They appreciate your effort to speak to them rather than to the paper your speech is written on.  And well, most people are thrilled that they don’t have to be up there giving the speech, so they are really quite supportive (most of the time).

This presenter chose option 2.  Repeatedly.  And got more flustered as she got more lost.  And those of us in the audience felt her pain. There was a collective will to have her succeed.

When option 1 or 2 doesn’t work, then just put your notes down and speak from the heart.  Find a friendly face in the audience and tell them what you meant to say.  You’ll find that a few of those words, sentences, and even paragraphs will find their way back into your speech. In fact, you might even give a more heartfelt presentation than the one you rehearsed!

What do you do when you have a senior moment and forget your lines during an important presentation?

Marking a Few Major Milestones!


Posted on 12th August 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |Facilitation |Group Interaction |Humor |presentation skills |Set The Tone |Speaking Trends |Stories |Uncategorized

Have you ever had a huge goal that took you a fair amount of time to achieve?  It’s superbly satisfying to check the box, mark it off and celebrate success!  In the last week, I have had THREE major milestones converge all at the same time!

1) I relinquished the Presidential gavel of the National Speakers Association to now-President Laura Stack, CSP.  Although I remain as Immediate Past President with Nominating Committee and CEO Evaluation duties, it’s quite satisfying to be “done” as President – and to have made a difference.  And since I talk about teamwork, the lessons learned leading a 3,100 member organization is priceless!  You can read my swan song given at our business meeting at our National Convention last week.

2)  After a year of mucking about with an aged website, I have finally launched a brand-new upgraded website.  Still working out a few kinks, but I’m thrilled with the clean lines, ability to navigate easily and my new line of business:

3)  As a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional speaker, I have merged the two skills into a new category: “Mainstage Conversationalist” – when presenting to a large group becomes more of an interactive discussion.  I’ve been mulling this around for a year or so (ever since I became NSA President), trying to figure out what to call it, and how to position it in the marketplace.  It has gotten some recent traction from forward-thinking executives and meeting planners who want the audience to be part of a meaningful discussion.

So, this past week has been a watershed week.

It all started with a goal – and some major milestones to make it happen.  Without a goal without a due date is just a dream.  When you add a dose of action, you’ll get real results!

LOVE this Nametag!


Posted on 21st June 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |Opening Activities |presentation skills |Set The Tone |U R #1 Visual

What’s not to like about a nametag?  It serves an admirable purpose: allowing others to know your name.  It is an invitation to say “hello.”  A conversation starter.  And when you are presenting, it allows you to call people by name and connect with the audience.

There are several things that drive me NUTS about nametags as well:  They don’t stick, they swivel so you see the back of the card rather than the name.  And the worst offense of all: the name is written so small, you can’t read it.

Imagine my delight yesterday when I attended the Arizona Association of Facilitators meeting.  LOVE this nametag!  I could see people’s names across the room! (okay, so it was a classroom, but impressive nonetheless!).

Are you making your nametags large enough for people to read your name from across the room?

Rainy Days and Mondays


Posted on 13th June 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |Opening Activities |presentation skills |Set The Tone

I’ve been thinking about the Carpenter’s song, Rainy Days and Mondays….because they always get me down.  Funny, how it seems as if….

It’s gray and rainy here on Prince Edward Island, and usually I hit the deck running hard on a Monday morning.  But not today.  Is it the rain?  The gloom?  The wind?  Whatever it is, I am not running at peak performance.  And, because I have the luxury of not having to do something vital today, I can wallow in the grayness with virtually no visible pain.

But what if I had to give a presentation today?  I would certainly have to snap out of it.  Reframe my perspective.  Pull up the ol’ bootstraps and psyche myself into peak performance.  Sure, 90% of this is about thinking positively about your day.  The optimum outcome.  The journey you will take.

But there ARE things you can do to get you in a happier, sunnier place.  Go someplace quiet; take a deep breath and close your eyes.  Imagine yourself in a literally sunnier place with happy memories.  Linger on the images, the connections, and the smell of the day.  Connect with the peacefulness and happiness…and smile!  Laugh if you like.  And when you open your eyes, continue to smile.  And the next person you see, give them an even bigger smile (or a hug if you’re like me).  Say hello to the people in your audience and you’ll find your happiness becomes contagious!

Never Do For the Audience What They Can Do For Themselves


Posted on 3rd June 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Closing Activities |Engaging Mindset |Facilitation |Group Interaction |Humor |Uncategorized

Bob Pike

Bob Pike, a renowned champion of participant-centered training is often quoted as saying, “Never do for the audience what they can do for themselves.”  As you review your presentation, ask yourself whether you are doing something that an audience member can do just as easily.

When you ask an audience member to do something for you, she feels special.  She morphs into a participant while sending a subliminal signal to the rest of the audience that you are reaching out for help, and they might be more willing to cooperate when you ask them to do something later.  It can be something as simple as asking for help in setting up the room, being a timekeeper or recorder, or a “runner.”

Those are the easy things you can do.  Demonstrations, skits, competitions, and role-plays are more complex interactions that take more thought and deliberate consideration but have HUGE payoff because they are HUGELY memorable.

One of my most impressive interactions is a team-based psychological experiment I first read about in Harvard Management Update.  I wanted to talk about it but thought it would be much more powerful as a demonstration.  So I obtained the original study and developed a scenario with four participants to show the effects of freeloading on a team.  I then practiced SEVERAL times with friends, family, and relative strangers off the street.  Wildly popular.  Wildly memorable.  I didn’t just dream it up during the middle of the presentation.  These things take a bit of forethought.  And patience.  And are well worth the investment of time.

Ask for the Order at the End of Your Presentation


Posted on 13th May 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |Facilitation |Group Interaction |presentation skills |Set The Tone |Uncategorized

shutterstock_153793127The end of your presentation is the crucial point where the cup meets the lip.  You present a great speech, but if you haven’t shifted the audience’s perspective, increased their knowledge, or inspired them to do something differently, your words are for naught.

Your audience will not take action unless you ask them to.  Don’t assume they know what they should do as a result of your brilliantly crafted presentation.  Salespeople are always encouraged to “ask for the order.”  You should make a similar request of your audience.  What do you want them to do?  Suggest a relatively easy action they could do when they get back to the office that day or the day after your presentation.  Or, be bold and make a more challenging request.

Presentation coach Nick Morgan says the only reason to give a speech is to change the world.  And why not?  Expect to change the world with your words!   By making your presentation more engaging and interactive, you will connect with your audience so they can be inspired to action.  And isn’t that the point?

Have a Mini-Conversation with the Audience


Posted on 5th May 2011 by Kristin Arnold in Engaging Mindset |Facilitation |Group Interaction |Uncategorized

shutterstock_171277721Whether you are speaking to a few people or to a packed auditorium, present your information in a conversational style rather than a stilted “this is how presenters present” style.  Most of us are pretty engaging when we speak one-on-one or to a small group of close friends.  So why not take that comfortable, casual style with you onto the stage or to the front of the room?  Your local television news anchors and reporters have a more conversational tone and so can you.

As you begin your talk, think mini-conversations rather than a stand-and-deliver speech. Look at a friendly face in the audience and stay with that person for a sentence or two or until you complete a thought.  Allow yourself enough time to connect with that person – typically three to five seconds.  Then move to someone else in the room, distributing your mini-conversations smoothly and deliberately throughout the room, without being too predictable as to where you will go next!

Remember to reach into the rafters, the cheap seats, and the fringes of the audience – when you pull them into the conversation, it pulls in everyone in between!