HOW TO BE A BETTER SPEAKER OR PANELIST AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST

So you made it to the big time. You landed a speaking slot at South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual conglomerate of interactive media, music, and film conferences. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, and there aren’t too many stages bigger than this event in Austin. So you’d better bring your A-game.

But with nearly 400 panels and workshops, and hundreds of speakers, how can you make your talk memorable long after the city cleans up from an influx of 70,000 attendees?

DOES A BULLET REALLY HIT?

WRITTEN BY: MARTINA MERSLAVIC, OWN THE ROOM COACH

Think about that when you use bullets in your presentations. Rather than using too many of them, target them carefully. Even better, why not try to win without shooting.

In 1950s, overhead projectors became widely used, maybe you still remember them or you have utilized them yourselves. Today, we have PowerPoint, Prezi, Keynote and other software, but a comparison between a presentation at a conference this January or in January 1995 would show mainly the technical difference. The transitions between the slides look more sophisticated, there are various animation schemes that help us call pictures, graphs and data on the screen, we can choose among many different graphics to illustrate structures, processes, systems, org charts, you name it. 

FEEDBACK: THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

WRITTEN BY MELANIE TOLOMEO, SALES COORDINATOR, OWN THE ROOM

Here at Own The Room, we say that feedback is a gift. During our communication skills training, we encourage everyone to not only ask for feedback on their presentations but to demand it. Insights from others are important because they can help us see elements of our communication style – verbal and nonverbal – that we cannot always see.

In the workplace, the holiday season often means lots of feedback: performance reviews. This means that we will most likely be on the receiving end of feedback and sometimes on the giving end of it as well. Below are tips for handling both situations.

MAKE YOUR MEETING COUNT

WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH AN EXTRA HOUR IN YOUR DAY?

I’m guessing your answer wasn’t, “I’d love to spend it in a meeting.” All of us have many important things vying for our time. That’s one reason it can feel so frustrating when our time gets eaten up in required meetings – especially meetings that weren’t productive, or that we shouldn’t have been in, in the first place.

There are three key things you can do, as a meeting facilitator, to make meetings more effective…and hopefully, shorter:

IT COULD BE MAGIC.

WRITTEN BY ROBIN AMOS KAHN, COACH, OWN THE ROOM

Recently, we did a training for a group of women investment managers at a large financial service company in Zurich. Each woman came prepared with a short presentation they were working on, which we filmed when they first arrived in the morning. Then we did a full day training, the same one that we do all over the world for companies like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, MTV, universities and non-profits.

 

BE DIFFERENT. BE VISUAL. SHOW EMOTION.

WRITTEN BY ROBIN AMOS KAHN, COACH, OWN THE ROOM

I recently saw a speech that stayed with me and moved me. I’ve told many people about this speech because it did everything we believe at Own the Room makes a great speech. 

The speaker used a visual image—a photograph—as part of her talk. It was a moving photograph, the kind that stays with you long after you’ve seen it.

She wasn’t afraid to show her emotions and even though she was standing at a podium, she used her voice and her body language to reach out to everyone in the audience, to engage them. 

The speaker?

 

 

WHO AND WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

WRITTEN BY ROBIN AMOS KAHN, COACH, OWN THE ROOM

Imagine you’re sitting in a conference room and the speaker arrives at the podium holding a huge stack of papers and immediately starts showing endless power point slides. Each slide is dense with so many bullet points, sentences and graphs—you can barely take any of it in. It’s a barrage of information.

How do you feel at that moment? Bored? Frustrated? Angry? What are you thinking about? How can you escape? What’s for lunch?