If Your Presentation BOMBS – Take a Lesson From My Grandson!

My grandson, Carson, just turned one. He’s not quite walking, but he sure is trying. Hewon’t give up, and I expect we’ll see videos of those first solo steps very soon. As I watched him, I’m reminded of lessons that apply to learning how to be a great speaker.

If you’ve never walked, it takes awhile to learn how. If you’ve never given presentations, it takes awhile to learn how.

If you’re learning to walk, and fall down, you need to pull yourself up, and try, again. If your presentation BOMBS, you need to pull yourself up and try, again.

I think you see where I’m going with this Post.

Walking is a skill we learn. We don’t come into this world walking. We don’t learn to do this the first time we pull ourselves up and try to move our feet. It takes perseverance. We can’t give up when we don’t do it right the first time, or anytime after that. Falling down is part of the learning process.

We don’t fall down and verbally beat ourselves up about it with negative self-talk like: “I’m a failure. I’ll never learn how to walk. Everyone will laugh at me if I try it again and fall. I’m a loser!” Often, no one is there to pick us up, so we need to pull ourselvesup.

Sometimes when we fall, there is help available. Parents, siblings, and others help the child. We encourage them and applaud their efforts. Books, blogs, Toastmaster Clubs, and presentation coaches help the speaker when he stumbles. Their success are also recognized by applause and praise.

You can’t learn to walk without falling down. You can’t become a great presenter without falling downa number of times, either!

Most everyone learns to walk. We continue trying until we get it right. Once we learn this skill, we’re able to use it the rest of our lives.

Not everyone learns to be a good speaker and presenter. Why is this? We’re afraid of failure. We’re afraid we’ll make a fool of ourselves and forever everyone will remember how poor we performed at the lectern.

I fell down, and stayed down too long!

After taking a Public Speaking Continuing Education Course I joined a Toastmasters Club. I had given a pretty good Icebreaker Speech, the first one Toasties do, and didn’t prepare as I should have for my second talk. It BOMBED and I fell down. Instead of getting up and working hard on my next presentation, I dropped out. It wasn’t until several years later, when I realized how important presentation skills were, that I joined a different club.

I won’t tell you I didn’t Bomb, again, because I certainly did. I delivered some speeches not worthy of being presented a second time. However, and often with encouragement and help from others,I did stand, again!

Pleaselearn from my mistake. If you BOMB and fall down, don’t wait years to stand, again, Pull yourself up immediately!

Better Presentation Skills Through Improv Comedy

Do you want to improve your presentation skills and be a great speaker? Then you should consider learning improvisational comedy!

I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t improvise my speeches. I write them out and memorize them.”

That may be the case, but there are three reasons you should still learn improv comedy:

1) You will definitely find yourself in situations where you have to give an unscripted speech. Maybe you get asked to speak on short notice, or for a presentation so small it is not wort scripting.
2) Things will go wrong, and you may have to go “off-script” and improvise.
3) Learning to improvise will absolutely 100% improve your scripted presentation skills!

If you’re unfamiliar, improv comedy is a form of theater where performers take the stage with nothing prepared in advance and make it up as you go along. Learning improv comedy can help your presentation skills in the following powerful ways:

1) You will be more authentic – The best bit of advice you can receive as a speaker is to “be more authentic.” Unfortunately, many people who suggest this never go on to explain *how* to be more authentic. Any competent improv instructor will not only stress the importance of being authentic when improvising, but will also take you through exercises designed to help you learn how.

2) You will develop natural movements – Many presentation skills coaches and instructors teach you to not move your arms at all, and to keep them at your side. They say that hand gestures are distracting. Not true! While excessive hand gestures may distract the audience, it is even more distracting to watch someone struggle to stay still who likes to move. The exercises in improv comedy can help you develop movements that are natural and don’t distract.

3) You will be funnier – Even if you are not a humorist, if you can make an audience laugh, or at least smile, you will be a success. It’s called improv *comedy* for a reason. By learning improv, you will develop you own natural sense of humor and learn to use it off the cuff, as needed.

4) You will be better able to connect with the audience – Improv is an interactive performance form. The audience is part of the show. As you become a better improviser, you will learn to work with the audience and automatically sense when they are with you and not.

Consider taking a class or joining an improv group. All major cities and many smaller ones have improv groups that put on shows and offer classes. If not, try checking in with local theaters – many of them offer classes in improvisation.

Not only will you improve your presentation skills, but you will also have a tremendous amount of fun!

Birthday Present Budgeting

Budgeting for Birthday Gifts

How much should you spend on birthday gifts? You could look at some of the surveys that are done to see what is the average spend on a birthday present, but you shouldn’t use this as a guide. Set and stick to a budget you’re happy with.

If you’re feeling generous then you’ll be able to spend more, and if you’re on a tight budget spend less. There’s ways of economising on presents so every birthday you celebrate can be fun!

If you’re on a small budget sometimes you can make it go further by buying several small items. This works well for children for whom there’s a lot of excitement in opening the present itself. For older children and adults this might not always work well. A subtle hint given the week before though will soften the blow for most people when you’ve got to stick to a very tight budget.

Buy the cheapest wrapping paper possible. Some people spend a fortune on ribbons and bows, and posh gift boxes. Buy cheap wrapping paper in bulk and use it for all your gift wrapping. Buy gift wrap that will be good for boys and girls, adults, birthdays and then Christmas too. Big rolls of cheap paper are a great budget saver. Buy cards in bulk too. Some shops on the high street have bargains where you can get several birthday cards for a pound! This makes them excellent value and if you keep them in a folder or drawer you’ll always have a card for that unexpected birthday too!

By ensuring the vast majority of the money is spent on the present and not the wrapping you get a much better balance.

To find innovative gifts on a budget you could look at making something yourself. A hand crafted gift can be a wonderful idea, especially if you have a skill like knitting or painting. Something personal can make a present so much more special. A hand-made gift might take a while to make though, so remember to start well in advance of the birthday!