Archive for the ‘Your Message’ Category

Magnetic Messages

 4th April 2019 by gihan

We’re bombarded by more information than ever before, so we all need to be able to cut through the clutter and deliver our messages with more impact.

We’ve all sat through business presentations that were so mind-numbingly boring you lost the will to live! Hmm … You might have even (gasp!) delivered this kind of presentation yourself.

It doesn’t have to be this way! In this session, I’ll share some simple ideas to help you build better presentations that cut through the clutter, make a point with impact, and stay in your audience’s mind even after they leave the room.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“Ability to stream background music directly from within powerpoint”

“Practical powerpoint tips that I can apply straight away. Love that you show us all the steps and make it accessible.”

“How to use SmartArt and also introduction to skipping slides and having a ‘marker’ slide.”

“Framing & converting bullet point slides in SmartArt. I now have a hundred bullet point slides to convert!!!”

“How to convert bullet points into a great graphic”

“Keynote aids, setting up frame of mind early”

“Using Smart Art for slides”

“Gihan is a genuine creator & sharer of value :)”

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future – what’s ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I’ll cover an important topic about the future – for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I’ll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

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The Future of Conferences: Ten Things Great Conference Organisers Do Differently

 31st May 2018 by gihan

Videoconferencing, online meetings, telepresence and other collaboration technology are gaining traction. That doesn’t mean the in-person conference is obsolete – but its role has changed. Some of the benefits of coming together for a conference can be achieved just as effectively in other ways.

As a conference keynote speaker (and somebody who has been in the industry for over 20 years), I have seen major changes in the way conferences and events work. Especially in the last few years, because of technology, changing demographics, and global connectivity.

If you’re in the MICE industry – as a speaker, conference organiser, speaking bureau, association, event sponsor, or anybody else who’s involved in events – download my new special report “The Future of Conferences”.

In this special report, I look at ten trends affecting professional conferences and events, and how conference organisers take advantage of them. Good conference organisers adapt to these changes. Great conference organisers embrace them to create transformational experiences.

I wrote the first edition of this report in 2015, and I’ve now rewritten it completely to bring it up to date for 2018. This is not just a minor revision – I’ve completely rewritten it!

The first edition is only three years old, but that’s an eternity now in this fast-paced world.

In that time, we have seen rapid growth in technology such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, online collaboration tools, personalisation and customisation, social media, and much, much more. It goes without saying that much of this technology affects the Meetings Incentives Conventions & Exhibitions (MICE) industry, but not always in the most obvious ways, and not always to the same extent. This revised edition reports on the latest trends and their impact, especially in the Australian market.

As with the first edition, I wanted to make this more than just a “white paper”, but also a source of practical ideas for great conference organisers. So, as before, I have included practical ideas for you to created more compelling event experiences. In fact, I have gone much further than the previous edition, including more in-depth ideas and more references to external sources.

For example …

We look at the three different types of people in your audience – based on their age and demographic profile:

Not surprisingly, each group wants different things, and there are so many ways now to deliver. For example, we look at audience interaction tools like a live word cloud:

Or what about an online bulletin board for audience members to share their biggest takeaways from a panel discussion?

Yep, there’s a lot of tech – but it’s not all equally useful!

Meetings industry peeps in Australia were asked which technology would be important in future conferences and events, and their answers might surprise you. These were their top five:

Some others that have gained a lot of media hype didn’t make the cut, including holograms, heat maps of foot traffic, artificial intelligence and robotics, and facial recognition software.

But it’s not just about technology.

It’s easy to focus on technology alone because there’s always a new Bright Shiny Object to capture our attention! But events are changing in other ways as well – as meeting professionals predict about the nature of sessions:

That’s just a small sample.

Anyway, that’s just a small sample of the research and resources you’ll find in the 2018 edition of “The Future of Conferences”.

So go ahead – please download it!

Download Now

And, of course, you have my permission to share it far and wide with colleagues and friends in the MICE industry. The more we all learn about how to be fit for the future, the more useful and compelling we can make our events.

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The Future of Conferences

 8th May 2018 by gihan

Videoconferencing, online meetings, telepresence and other collaboration technology are gaining traction. Does that mean the in-person conference is obsolete? No – not by a long way! But its role has changed. In this podcast episode, discover the top trends affecting our professional and personal lives, and how great conference organisers use them to create transformational experiences.

Listen To the Episode

The Future of Conferences

The Future of ConferencesAs a conference keynote speaker (and somebody who has been in the industry for over 20 years), I have seen major changes in the way conferences and events work. Especially in the last few years, because of technology, changing demographics, and global connectivity.

If you’re in the MICE industry – as a speaker, conference organiser, speaking bureau, association, event sponsor, or anybody else who’s involved in events – download my new special report “The Future of Conferences”.

This is the brand-new 2018 edition, based on research and trends in the industry, and tailored especially for the Australian market.

Download Now

More Resources

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

More ways to engage with me:

Numbers … Graphs … Statistics … Make All Your Presentations Better

 23rd January 2018 by gihan

I speak at a lot of conferences, so I see a lot of presentations from other speakers. Those who aren’t professional speakers often make the mistake of cluttering up their presentations with too much data – such as statistics, graphs, and other numbers. Of course, numbers are important, and they can be essential tools to support your message. But you don’t need to present them in a boring way (as most presenters do). The problem is not the facts themselves; it’s in how you present them.

Many presenters who use data in a presentation make one of two mistakes: it’s either too little or too much.

  • Too little: They present raw data without making it meaningful to the audience.
  • Too much: They present it in a complex way that hides the real message.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to fix either problem.

Not enough data? Make it meaningful.

If you’re worried about overwhelming your audience with data, it’s tempting to leave it out altogether. But that’s not the best option. Instead, consider how to relate your data – especially numbers and statistics – to something the audience understands.

For example, Jamie Oliver starts his 18-minute TED Talk with a fact about healthy eating:

“Sadly, in the next 18 minutes when I do our chat, four Americans that are alive will be dead through the food that they eat.”

The late Hans Rosling, who was Swedish professor of global health, became world-famous for presenting data in an interesting way. For example, in one of his presentations, instead of saying, “The survey participants performed worse than chance”, he says:

“So I went to the zoo and I asked the chimps. You were beaten by the chimps.”

You can do the same with any important fact, number or statistic in your presentation. Look for ways to relate that fact to something the audience understands – like this:

  • “LinkedIn has 450 million active users. If it was a country, it would be the 4th biggest in the world, behind only China and India.”
  • “We’re currently getting a 69% accuracy rate. That’s good, but it’s only a B, and we should be aiming for an A+.”
  • “This idea will save you 5 minutes at the start of each day and 5 minutes at the end. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to one extra week a year.”

Too much data? Reduce it.

The second mistake is providing too much information – in other words, cluttering up the data so the important point doesn’t shine through. To avoid this mistake, look at your main piece of data and eliminate anything around it that could dilute it.

Here are some tips:

  • Use round numbers: Instead of saying “21.5% of our customers”, say “20% of our customers” or “One in five customers”.
  • Remove unnecessary data: If you show any other data, be sure it supports your main point. For example, if you’re showing performance over time, it makes sense to show some numbers for comparison purposes, but remove the others.
  • Remove everything else: It’s easy to create attractive graphs in PowerPoint, but remove everything that doesn’t contribute to your point. For example, a bar graph with different colours for each bar looks pretty but doesn’t mean anything to the audience. It’s better to have all the bars the same colour, or just one bar (the important one) a different colour.
  • One idea per slide: It’s difficult enough for your audience to grasp one point; don’t force them to think even harder. For example, if you have a table of numbers with two important points on it, show it on two slides, each with an extract from the table.

Are you playing the numbers game right?

It doesn’t take much to be “good with numbers” when you present, and your audience will thank you for it!

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Hack Your Next Presentation – Smarter, Sharper, Faster

 15th August 2017 by gihan

Most presentation skills advice assumes a “typical” professional presentation: say, 30-60 minutes with you and PowerPoint at the front of the room, presenting to 5-20 people. You talk and show slides; and they listen, take notes and ask questions.

That might be typical for you as well, but it’s not the only option. Good leaders know how to tailor their message to the setting and the time available. You will deliver the same message differently in a 140-character tweet, in a small meeting room in your office, and from the stage at your organisation’s national conference.

Let’s consider five different levels at which you can deliver your message. Each builds on those before it, and is based broadly on the time you have available.

1. Just get to the point

If you have limited time, you have to get to the point immediately. As much as you would like to show slides, draw pictures, understand the audience’s starting point, and tell a compelling story, you just don’t have the time. So just get to the point!

In practice, you focus on your goal, which has two perspectives:

  • Audience: Know the outcome you want from your audience.
  • You: State your point clearly and succinctly.

2. Show them the shift

If you have a few minutes to sit down with somebody and make your point, sketch a diagram showing the current situation and what you want to change.

For example, imagine having coffee with the most important person who needs to hear your message, and they give you five minutes to present it. You know what you want from them, and you have your succinct, one-sentence point in mind. How can you make the most of the few extra minutes?

You don’t have a PowerPoint deck handy (and it’s not the right place for it anyway), but you can grab a pen and paper napkin to sketch a diagram. This isn’t a work of art; it’s just a diagram showing your current situation, and you then draw arrows or circles showing what you want to change.

3. Get them on board

At the next level, you again have more time – perhaps ten minutes rather than five. What will you add now to your presentation? You could add a story, share some facts and data, or even show a brief slide show. These are all effective, but we’re going to leave them to the next stage.

Instead, at this stage, a more powerful approach is to focus on what happens immediately before and immediately after your presentation:

  • Before (framing): Get the audience in the right frame of mind to hear your message.
  • After (pacing): Step them through the specific action you want them to take after you end.

4. Add colour and texture

The presentation we have created so far has a point, a goal, a diagram to show a shift, understanding of the audience’s frame of mind, and clear action steps. That’s a good start, but it doesn’t have much depth. It’s a cartoon, not a painting. If you have limited time, it’s better than nothing; but if you have more time, you can do better. So let’s add colour and texture to it.

We have two main tools available: stories, to appeal to their emotions; and data, to appeal to their logical mind.

Most business presentations have too much data and too few stories. To make your presentation more effective, use both stories and data to reinforce your message.

5. Make it active

You now have an effective presentation. Its only weakness is that it’s one-way delivery only, with your audience sitting there passively absorbing it. The final step is to build in opportunities for audience interaction. Rather than adding more points, more stories, or more data, use that extra time for audience interaction.

Do you have all five levels of flexibility?

Putting this all together gives you a formula for a powerful presentation:

You build it from bottom to top, adding more components to fill the available time. If you have only a few minutes, you might have to settle for just the first two levels (know your goal, and draw a quick sketch to make your point). With longer presentations, you can add more levels. With experience, you can even mix up the order (for example, using a story in even a short presentation).

You now have diverse ways of presenting your message, depending on the length of time available.

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Stunning Slides

 21st July 2017 by gihan

Have you ever sat through an online presentation with boring PowerPoint slides? Of course you have! But the problem is not with PowerPoint, but with the way the presenter used it. One of the most important factors in the success of your online presentation is the design of your slide deck – especially in an online presentation, where your slides are the visuals (not just visual aids). Text-heavy slides and bullet lists bore your audience and you lose their interest. That’s why you must design engaging visuals that grab attention, keep them interested, and enhance your message.

Join Gihan Perera, speaker and author of “Webinar Smarts”, as he shows you simple tricks to make your presentation more professional and engaging through creative and effective slides.

You will learn:

  • Strategies for designing and optimising slides for online presentations
  • Tips to build attractive slides quickly and easily
  • Sources of free and low-cost graphics you can use legally
  • Little-known PowerPoint features that turn bullet lists into attractive graphics – in seconds!

Watch Now

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Never Be Boring Again

 13th June 2017 by gihan

In our rapid-fire, overloaded, chaotic business world, marketers find it hard to get people’s attention, let alone keep it for the entirety of a presentation. This is especially challenging online where an audience is easily distracted and interrupted.

How do the best marketers grab the audience’s attention then keep them interested – leading to a real action response? What simple tools can help marketers achieve this?

Join Gihan Perera, futurist and author of Webinar Smarts, as he shares the four key steps to building an effective online presentation – one that sells.

In this webinar, in joint partnership with Campaign and GetGo, you will learn how to…

  • Capture attention and interest in your online marketing material and presentations
  • Use proven psychological tools to persuade and influence
  • Create a compelling case for change
  • Follow up to increase conversion and sales

Watch Now

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Draw to Win, by Dan Roam

 17th March 2017 by gihan

If you have already read Dan Roam’s bestselling book “The Back of the Napkin”, you know his philosophy of conveying ideas and messages using simple drawings. This is his fourth book, and it’s a kind of “best of” book, summarising the main ideas in a concise form. There’s some repeated material from the previous books, so don’t expect a whole bunch of new stuff. But if you’re looking for a quick guide to sketching out your ideas to cut through the clutter, this is a great start. And if you haven’t read his previous books, start with this one.

The book’s subtitle “A crash course on how to lead, sell and innovate with your visual mind” promises a lot, and if you take this literally, you might be disappointed. This is not really a book about leadership, sales, or innovation. Rather, it assumes you already have some of these skills, and it shows you how to share your ideas with others using drawings, models, sketches, and diagrams.

I think this book is most valuable for people who say, “But I don’t know how to draw!”. Roam explains why that doesn’t matter, and why you don’t need to be a Leonardo or Picasso to create simple ideas that convey a powerful message.

This book is also extremely useful if you’re caught in the “Death by PowerPoint” trap, with presentation slides full of dense blocks of text, long bullet lists, or complex graphs. You know you want to escape this trap, but you don’t know how. Well, this book will show you how.

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Is Storytelling Really As Powerful As We Think?

 23rd February 2017 by gihan

Storytelling is a very important part of modern communication, especially with the availability of tools and technology that make it easier to design, tell and share stories.

You will often hear communication experts talk about the power of stories to touch the heart and change the world, but storytelling expert Sisonke Msimang – from the Centre for Stories – offers a different perspective. In her TED Talk, “If a story moves you, act on it”, she warns us that stories aren’t always as powerful as we might think.

She says:

“It’s not uncommon to hear people say that stories make the world a better place. Increasingly, though, I worry that even the most poignant stories … can often get in the way of action towards social justice.”

She presents three reasons:

  • Stories can create an illusion of solidarity, but just listening to a story doesn’t accomplish anything.
  • We are drawn towards characters and protagonists who are likable – but that also means we’re less attracted to characters we don’t like, and they are often the people with the most important messages.
  • We can get so invested in the personal narratives that we forget to look at the bigger picture.

Watch the full humorous and thought-provoking TED Talk here:

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5 TED Talk Secrets To Revamp Your Online Presentations

 22nd September 2016 by gihan

5 TED Talk Secrets To Revamp Your Online Presentations

What’s your favourite TED Talk?

If you’re a fan of TED Talks, I’m sure you will have your favourites (and if you don’t know about TED, check out – but be prepared to lose hours as you get engrossed in big ideas presented by world-class experts). Mine include some of the classics, such as:

  • Ken Robinson talking about creativity and education
  • Dame Stephanie Shirley talking about ambitious women
  • All of Hans Rosling’s presentations – and seeing the way he constantly reinvents himself as a presenter
  • All of Bill Gates’ presentations – a surprisingly engaging presenter (for a nerd!), and it’s interesting to see his evolution as a presenter
  • and many more …

TED has set a new standard for presentations.

We can thank TED for setting a new standard in presentation skills, and millions of people in businesses around the world should be eternally grateful. Audiences expect far more now from presenters – even in stock-standard, “boring” business presentations.

That’s a good thing in general, but it can be a challenge for the typical business presenter, and sometimes even for professional speakers. Most presentations are not ideas that change the world, delivered by “the” world expert on the topic.

It’s even more challenging if you’re delivering an online presentation – which is becoming more common now. Even if you’re trying to learn presentation techniques from the best TED Talks, many of these techniques don’t work in online presentations.

For example:

  • People always relate to stories, but online audiences are more impatient, and will switch off (literally!) unless you get to the point fast.
  • You would like to use the energy in the room to take your audience on a journey, but they are individuals sitting alone in front of a computer screen.
  • TED audiences are “warmed up” because they expect to hear from world-class experts with big ideas, but you need to build that rapport and credibility.
  • It’s more difficult to use humour and surprise because you don’t get feedback from your audience members (and they don’t get feedback from each other).

But all is not lost!

You can still learn from the best TED Talks, and use or adapt these techniques to make your next online presentation zing!

For example:

  • Use more humour, but in a way that doesn’t need a bunch of people to burst out laughing.
  • Tell more stories, because stories are important. But use more slides for your story, so the online audience can see it unfold.
  • Have one main message, but add a clear structure to “signpost” the presentation.
  • Design better slides, but you need to do even better than TED, because your slides are the visuals (not just visual aids).
  • Engage the audience regularly, but in more direct, interactive ways than just mentally invoking intrigue, curiosity, and surprise.

Learn More …

Of course, that’s just an overview, but I discussed these things (and more) in detail in a recent webinar with Citrix (the people behind GoToWebinar, GoToTraining and GoToMeeting). In this webinar, I share the secrets of the best TED speakers, and show you how to use them in your online presentations.

You will learn how to:

  • Build rapport with a remote audience
  • Design attractive slides (fast!) to enhance your message
  • Selectively use your webcam to provide a more personal connection
  • Shift the energy regularly with interactive engagement techniques

All of these techniques apply just as well to in-person presentations. So if you make any presentations at all, learn how to take your presentations to another level.

Watch the webinar recording here:

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