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Thursday, September 8, 2011

9 Tips to Be a Superstar Speaker

Presenting to a group -- large or small -- can cause even the best of us to doubt our abilities and expertise. However, follow these simple tips and you'll be a more engaging, dynamic -- and perhaps even charismatic speaker. 
"Yes, you can have FUN and be professional," says Brenda Meller.
  1. Don't apologize to your audience. We don't know that you had to condense your usual 60-minute presentation into 15 minutes, or that you typically use PowerPoint slides and are speaking off the cuff. Nor do we know that you were stuck in traffic or otherwise feeling rushed. Project confidence and poise. We like to see happy, confident speakers.
  2. Speak on a topic that is related to, but not a direct part of your profession. This technique will captivate us because we feel that you are sharing your knowledge and not selling to us. Choose a topic that is near and dear to your heart. Your passion and enthusiasm will show. Plus you'll be more likely to get referrals for other speaking gigs.
  3. Incorporate personal stories into your presentation. This helps us visualize your points, and makes your presentation more memorable.
  4. Conversational presentations are better than lectures. Bring your audience into the presentation by using names from your audience, and encouraging Q&A at the end.
  5. Remember to speak S-L-O-W-L-Y. You should strive to speak at a rate of speech that feels too slow if you were talking to someone one-on-one. It gives us time to process what you are saying.
  6. Have fun! We, the audience, enjoy those speakers who look as if they are enjoying themselves. Yes, you can have fun and be professional. 
  7. Handouts are helpful. Give us one sheet of paper with your key points. That way we can keep notes. Make sure you include your contact info on that sheet, including your Twitter name if you have one.
  8. Before you begin, ask a few audience members to answer a question related to your topic. this helps with #4.
  9. Using notes is okay, but please don't read your presentation. You know your stuff! Trust me, you do. If you don't know your stuff, you should rehearse it thoroughly until you do, or pick another topic. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

I love free stuff

Every year, I remind myself I'm going to get better at this. I think it starts with a reminder from a friend to get my free coffee from Starbucks. And then a conversation with my husband about where we're going for dinner, and which restaurant offered me a FREE meal. 

"I love free finding free stuff for my birthday," Brenda Meller
And then suddenly my big day has come and gone, and I'm lucky if I remembered any places that offer me something free for my birthday. 

I will say that the internet has made my work so much easier. And Facebook has, too. In fact, there's a blogger by the name of Free Is My Life who blogs exclusively on stuff you can get free around metro Detroit. 

Thanks to all these resources, so far I have enjoyed (and spent):
  1. A free premium chocolate shake from Del Taco (spent $10 for dinner for my family)
  2. "Thanks, Del Taco!"
  3. A free Rooty Tooty Fresh n Fruity breakfast from IHOP (spent $12 for breakfast for my family)
Yes, I've gotten about $10 worth of free stuff so far, but I've spent more than double that. So it's been a great deal for me and I've helped out our economy, too. 

"Rooty Tooty!" ~Brenda Meller, the birthday girl
Sure, there's a cost to give away free goods and services. But each of these businesses has gained something, too. Not to mention that I have only visited IHOP once in the past 10 years, and this makes it twice. Now that I've been there again, I'm definitely going to tell all my family and friends about my meal (scrambled eggs, sausage links, bacon, and a side of pancakes topped with strawberries and whipped cream. I have a second coupon for joining their "Pancake Revolution" that will bring me back again!).

Many businesses allow you to use these deals anytime in your birthday month. My plan is to log every visit and tally up the totals.

If you're interested in signing up to score your own free deals, here are a few websites I recommend:

Do you have a "must redeem" birthday freebie? If so, share it here