presentation tips

Why It’s Important to Speak Eloquently & Casually When Selling Yourself or Your Idea

Why It’s Important to Speak Eloquently & Casually When Selling Yourself or Your Idea

The ability to speak eloquently and the ability to speak casually at work are two very important skills. It’s hard enough to master one, let alone two. And, like, the ultimate skill is developing the awareness to know precisely when, where, how, and to whom to use each, you know?

                                                                                                                                       -Jordan Looby

The Myth of the Stage


When I got accepted to present my ideas at TEDxFSU this year, I was thrilled! My first thought was "oh my gosh they like my idea!" followed quickly by the terrifying, earth shattering doubt. "They're going to find out I'm a fake!" Why was this the first (well, almost first) thought to pop into my brain when something good happened? I call it the Myth of the Stage, and it's a big part of why we accept far less for our selves than we truly deserve.

So here is the Myth: The person on stage is right. The person on stage knows what they are talking about, and their ideas are valid.

Maybe this myth comes from our early days in a traditional classroom setting, listening to an all-knowing teacher. Maybe it comes from watching movies and documentaries. Wherever it comes from, you know you feel it in your mind. It's the same little part of you that says it's valid to pay over $100 to watch someone play an instrument onstage at Lincoln Center, when it's not worth giving a dollar  to the man riffing on the guitar on a street corner. They both add music to our lives, right? But one is on a stage.

So this myth lives inside us, and it's part of what holds us back. If we are not on the stage, how do we know if we're valid? How do we know if we belong on stage? We can  wait for someone to pick us. An employer, a casting director, a conference coordinor, can decide you are worth something and put you out there for the world to see. You shouldn't leave it up to them, though!

Here are my three reasons it's important to find your stage and start singing:

1. The Stage is Everywhere: Now more than ever you have the chance to set up your soap box, climb on up, and spread your message! You no longer have to wait for an editor to publish your ideas - just start a blog! You don't have to wait for a T.V. station to broadcast your idea - make your own video. In the age of the internet it is easier than ever before to connect with an audience. They might not all love you (there are trolls under every bridge, of course), but the more you share, the more you will find people who connect with what you are saying.

2. Most People Won't Bet on an Unknown There are those risk-takers out there who thrive on the thrill of something new and unknown, but in general, the people making the decisions about who gets hired, who gets on the stage, and who gets in front of the camera got their jobs by consistenty choosing correctly. Now, in a time where there are more people to hire than ever, these "pickers" are under a lot of pressure to make the right choice. Knowing you already have an audience you've connected with makes it easier for them to bet on you. If you're a band just starting out, booking agents want to know how many tickets you can sell. The same applies now for hiring agents, editors, and everything else! So just start doing what you do, build up a loyal base, and then you can get "picked" if you still want to.

3. Your Message Matters! If you have an idea, a passion, or a creation to share that seems totally out of the blue, chances are it's even more important than you think. It's hard to be the first one to try something new. You could fail, and you could end up looking stupid. But if it's something truly new, why would you want to hide it away? Can you imagine where we would be if Thomas Edison decided that an electric light was too risky? Or that people wouldn't be interested? Inspiration comes for a reason, and by keeping your idea to yourself, you're depriving the world of something that could be truly, truly awesome.

There are many more reasons than this to share your message, but next time you doubt yourself, remember The Myth of the Stage is just that: A myth.

Day 10- Learning Relational Leadership


As I mentioned in day nine’s post, I switched directions and instead of using my marketing degree and going into corporate, I started  working at Centenary College in August of 2006. The job at Centenary gave me the opportunity to build their campus recreation program from the ground up, develop student leadership initiatives, build a network of other student affairs professionals and work with incredible college students. In addition, this job allowed me to go back to school and earn a masters. Now, I didn’t jump right into a masters program - partly because I only started working there in August and it was difficult to enroll and be accepted that fall. Luckily, this timing allowed me some time to determine if I wanted to get an MBA or a Masters Degree in Education. In all honesty, I needed a few more months to clear my head of four straight years of college classes.

By that October though I started finalizing my options because a few of my colleagues, including my boss Kristen McKitish, recommended an amazing program to earn a masters in Leadership and Public Administration. She said the professors were some of the best professors she ever had and she had applied a lot of what she learned everyday. I applied, was accepted and signed up for my first class - Advanced Written Communication. This course was taught by Jeff Carter. It was a requirement in the program because of intensive writing required in order to successfully complete the program (when I completed the degree I had a portfolio of my papers from the ten classes in a four inch binder).

Jeff Carter was by far one of the best professors in the program. He was down to earth, treated us like adults and was one of the most efficient and well-prepared professors I ever had. I succeeded in the next 9 classes because of the discipline and attention to detail he instilled on the class. Our very first class he told us we would be writing a 20-30 page paper which I thought was a daunting task. However, he taught us how to research, how to write accurately in APA style, and chunk your writing instead of waiting until the last minute.

In addition to Jeff’s teaching skills, he captured my attention every class for each of the three courses I took with him. He was a retired police captain and was attaining his doctorate degree where he was doing a dissertation on Toxic Leadership. He matched the style of Ann Huser and Hart Singh, two of my favorite FDU professors, because he brought real-world examples into every classes.

What they taught me:

A lot of what Jeff Carter taught me has framed my leadership style: relational leadership. He was one of the main reasons I succeeded when it came to writing and presenting in each class as well as creating an engaging environment that made me want to go to every single class.

How they inspired me:

In a professional setting, Jeff has influenced me to be the best leader I can and provide the resources for those around me. In an academic setting, I strive to be a professor one day. His presentation style and ability to engage with his audience has spilled over into my presentation style.


When you are in a position of leadership, don't stand on a pedestal. People want to connect and relate to you, so give them stories and open yourself up to be able to do that.

Learning to write and present is so important for someone that is carving out their niche. Look for any opportunity to fine tune those skills. This will ensure that when you have figured out what your message is to the world, that you have the skills to share that message.

5 Must-Have Tips for the Modern Presentation


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Regardless if you are presenting at one of the upcoming national conferences, running a training for your students or holding a workshop at your institution these 5 tips are mandatory for the modern presentation. These quick tips will link you to all the resources, how-to’s and teach you how to take your presentation from good to great.

Tip #1 - Invest in a presentation remote. I can’t tell you how many times we have all sat through presentations where the presenter stands in the corner of the room using their pointer finger to advance to the next slide. Here is a list ranging from $15-$60+. I recommend the Targus for about $30 and if you want to spend a little more for features like scrolling and audio controls then invest in this Keyspan by Tripp Lite.

Tip #2 - If you are co-presenting here are a few suggestions. Split yourself on each side of the room and as you each have important points to make walk to the middle or back of the room to keep the audience engaged with you - “work the room.” Also, create a spreadsheet: 1st column number down for every slide you have. Then put a short title or subject of each slide in the second column and in the third column put the name of the person presenting that slide. Memorize it and color code it. Print it out and put it somewhere visible in case you get lost. Here’s an example from a recent workshop we did on Creating Engaging Social Media Content for the Maryland Student Affairs conference.

Tip #3 - In Apple Keynote you can add presenter notes and you can also set up a “current slide” and “next slide” that will display on your macbook so you don’t have to read off paper, notecards or the screen behind you. You can even choose to have time remaining - it’s a perfect way to set up a confidence monitor in your room. Here is a great short and detailed version of how to set it up. Also, bring your own laptop, get to the room at least 15-30 minutes early and set up your laptop to practice. Bring extra batteries, small speakers and your own macbook adapter if needed.

Tip #4 - DON’T USE BULLET POINTS! Now for those of you already getting away from bullets and powerpoint or keynote templates...thank you. For those of you who have not made the transition yet, it’s like removing a bandaid: you have to do it quick and it will be painless with a small learning curve. This summary from a one sheet I created for my “Rethink Your Next Presentation workshop” will quickly give you resources, books and 5 Apple Keynote tips.

Tip #5 - If you do have a handout, it should be no more than one page front and back and pass it out at the very end. The handout should not be your slides because if created & presented right, your slides are useless without you speaking to them. If you do want to share them upload them to Speakerdeck or Slideshare prior to your talk, create a customize link and add it to the one sheet or to your live presentation so the audience can go back to the office and view them, especially if you have specific examples on your slides you want to share.

These 5 tips are certainly in-depth and take courage to try but believe me it is worth it. If I can help now or in the future please do not hesitate to contact me and you can view a few of my recent slidedecks I uploaded to slideshare. Happy conference season!

Kevin O’Connell, Founder - The Niche Movement

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