Four Public Speaking Pitfalls That Trap Most Presenters

If you want to drastically improve your very next presentation, it is important to understand 4 of the pitfalls that keep most speakers in a ditch out of which they can never seem to climb. If you see where these traps are, you can easily avoid them. As a result, you will clear your pathway to a powerful and persuasive speech.

Here are the 4 costly mistakes:
 
1. They close their speech with the question and answer session. Never close your speech with the Q&A session, because people remember best what they hear first and what they hear last. If you end with the Q&A, you lose control over the last message your audience receives and much of your hard work is undone. It is still a good idea to have a Q&A session, but it is not a good idea to end your presentation with it. Instead, hold the session about 80-90% into your speech and then close the speech in your own powerful way.

2. They open their speech with a whimper. Most speakers open with statements like, “I’m so glad to be here. Thank you for inviting me to speak on this prestigious occasion. First I would like to thank Bob.” What is wrong with that kind of opening? Frankly, it’s boring. Boredom shows up when you do what is expected. Instead, come out in an unexpected way by jumping right into your message. Take the “sitcom approach” and start the show first and then transition back to the opening theme song. One good way to do this is to immediately dive into a story. That will catch your audience off guard and you will have their attention from your very first word.

Another effective way is to ask a question. For example, I start some speeches with the following question: “What do you think is the number one thing that stands in the way of most people living their dreams?” This immediately gets my audience’s attention and prompts them to think and to get involved with the speech. Questions work extremely well because they take your audience members from passive spectators to active participants and that definitely raises the energy. Once you finish your planned opening, it is then fine to go back and thank the people who brought you there. Don’t open with a whimper, open with a bang.

3. They lip-synch. I once had a CFO of a biotech company say, “Craig, we need you to coach us with our presentation. We already have the presentation, but we just need to know what to say.” That might seem confusing but I knew exactly what he meant. He meant that the company already had a slide presentation but they needed to know what to say between those slides. Once I worked with them, they came to realize that they had to look at their major points first and then determine if slides were even needed to reinforce them. Most presenters who use slides simply verbalize the same points that are made on the slide. The key to understand is this; if you say the same thing as your slides, then one of you is not needed! You are doing the equivalent of lip-synching your presentation. The best time to use slides is for real visuals such as charts, graphs, and diagrams that will help clarify what you say verbally.

4. They don’t master the essence of public speaking. Bill Gove, the first President of the National Speakers Association, once said that good public speaking is being able to “tell a story and make a point.” That is the essence of public speaking. If you want to become the kind of speaker others line up and sign up to see, then make an effort to master storytelling. People make decisions with their emotions backed up by logic. Stories reach those emotions and get people in a frame of mind to take action. When you become a master storyteller, you help other people see new stories unfold for their own lives. Like the old saying goes, “Facts tell and stories sell.” The key for effective speaking is to get to your stories early because they are the heart of your speech.

If you avoid the 4 pitfalls that trap most speakers and you work on the suggestions above, you will find yourself far ahead of most of the people who ever stood up to say anything.

Financial Statement Basics and Presentation: The Balance Sheet

Financial Statement Basics: The Balance Sheet

The Canadian Balance Sheet shows the financial position of an entity which is why this statement is commonly referred to as ‘The Statement of Financial Position.” The first key point to note is that the balance sheet is prepared to show the company’s position at a specified single point in time (Example, as of December 31st, 20xx) whereas other financial statements such as the Income Statement are reported to show the company’s operational performance for a specified length of time such as, “for the year ended December 31st, 20xx.” In this example, the income statement is said to cover an entire year from January 1st – December 31st which is also known as a calendar year-end.

Furthermore, the balance sheet consists of three important elements to consider. It reports the balances of all assets, liabilities and equity accounts for the company. It is critical to understand the fundamental accounting equation in the preparation and presentation of the balance sheet where Assets = Liabilities + Equity.

Assets: contains all resources that the company owns at the balance sheet date. This includes both current and non-current assets that the company utilizes in order to generate future economic benefits. The most common current assets listed on the balance sheet includes cash, accounts receivable and inventory which are resources that are anticipated by management to be converted into cash within a year or the entity’s operating cycle, whichever is longer. Accounts receivable is simply the amount of money owed to the company by its customers which is generated from the sale of goods and services on account. Non-current assets, therefore, contains all resources owned by the company that have a useful life of more than one year. These assets are often referred to as Capital Assets which include equipment, buildings and land. Notice that all assets mentioned thus far whether current or non-current can be classified as Tangible Assets which contain physical substance. However, the balance sheet also presents Intangible Assets which are reported as non-current capital assets as well, since they have a useful life of more than one year but do not have any physical substance such as goodwill and patents. The sum of the current and non-current assets will equate to and be reported on the balance sheet as Total Assets of the company.
Liabilities: represents the claims against the company’s assets that have not been paid at the balance sheet date. Therefore, they are obligations to the company’s creditors. Just like assets, liabilities are subdivided into current and non-current. Accounts Payable is a frequent account that can be seen on the balance sheet and is essentially the direct opposite of the accounts receivable balance. While accounts receivable are amounts owed to the company from a customer sale on account, accounts payable are amounts owed by the company to its creditors arising from purchases on account both of which are either expected to be collected or paid typically within 30 days. Non-current liabilities represent obligations that will not be settled for more than one year or the company’s operating cycle, whichever is longer. Long-term liabilities (non-current) found on the balance sheet include long-term bank loans and notes payable. The creditor’s claims against the assets can be seen by examining the fundamental accounting equation stated above where the entity’s assets equal the creditors’ claim which represents liabilities plus the owner’s claim of the assets representing the company’s equity.
Equity: according to the fundamental accounting equation if we rearrange this to solve for equity, one can conclude that Equity = Assets – Liabilities. Upon closer examination, it can be clearly seen that equity represents the value of a business after liabilities have been reduced from the company’s assets. Often equity is referred to as the residual interest of a company. Also, it is important to note that the creditors’ claims to the assets are always settled first before the owner’s claim can be realized.
Presentation Example for the Statement of Financial Position

ABC Company (COMPANY NAME)

Statement of Financial Position

As at December 31st, 20xx

ASSETS

Current assets:

Cash $2,000

Accounts Receivable 1,000

Inventory 3,500

Supplies 500

Total Current assets $7,000

Non-Current assets:

Building $75,000

Equipment 7,000

Total Non-Current assets $82,000

TOTAL ASSETS $89,000

LIABILITIES

Current liabilities:

Accounts Payable $3,000

Wages Payable 1,500

Total Current Liabilities $4,500

Non-Current liabilities:

Lease liability 1,000

TOTAL LIABILITIES $5,500

OWNER’S EQUITY

OWNER’S NAME, Capital 83,5000

TOTAL LIABILITIES AND $89,000

OWNER’S EQUITY

The above illustrated example for the statement of financial position shows various key features. The heading indicates the name of the company, clearly indicates what type of financial statement is shown and what period it is covering. Furthermore, the statement of financial position is visual a representation of the fundamental accounting equation. The left side of the statement represents assets which is also the left side of the equation. The right side of the statement represents liabilities and owner’s equity which in turn captures the right side of the equation. As a result, the statement of financial position is perfectly balanced only when total assets equals total liabilities and owner’s equity.

After examining the above illustrated equity section of the balance sheet and noting the name of the company reporting the statement, it is important to recognize that the form of organization in this example is that of a proprietorship and not a corporation. The difference in the balance sheet reported by a proprietorship and by a corporation lies primarily within the equity section. In a proprietorship, the owner’s capital includes the initial investment in the business, net income (profits) or net loss (losses) and is reduced by any drawings (withdrawals made by the owner for personal use). However, in a corporation, these amounts are split up into two common accounts: Contributed Capital and Retained Earnings. Contributed capital also known as share capital represents the investments made by the shareholders’ of the corporation. Retained Earnings is the cumulative income/loss amounts of the corporation since inception and also includes all dividends paid out to the shareholders. Dividends are similar to drawings in that they both reduce the equity account since they are distribution of equity payments to the shareholders’ or the owner respectively.

Presentation Traits of High Stake Presenters

These days, game shows seem to have exploded in popularity. One of the latest is 1 vs. 100, in which a contestant competes against a “mob” of 100 for a cool $1 million prize.

So, what does a game show have to do with presentation skills? Almost everything. Notice I said almost, because rather than facing a mob of determined opponents as in the show 1 vs. 100, chances are most speakers will be presenting to a room full of advocates. That’s right: your listeners want you to succeed.

But 1 vs. 100 is a perfect speaking metaphor in every other way. To win over an audience, game show contestants must be confident they have the knowledge to win; be strategic in their approach, and have enough passion to inspire listeners.

Confidence is your first component for success, whether you’re competing on TV or presenting at a conference. It’s critical for speakers to be confident about their message and willing to openly share their expertise. Self-assured presenters understand how and why their message is important, and speak with a heartfelt conviction that immediately engages listeners.

Successful “players” are also strategic in their approach. For presenters, this means crafting a message that is logically structured and unfolds like a compelling story. When your material is well organized, skillfully written, and carefully sequenced, attention is maintained and audiences are able to follow along with ease.

Finally, smart presenters can take a lesson in passion from their game show colleagues. Imagine a show that featured contestants completely devoid of personality or excitement. It may seem an obvious statement, but enthusiasm is contagious. If you are sincerely excited about your message, listeners can’t help but share your enthusiasm – and be inspired to take the appropriate action.

Whether you’re vying for millions in prizes or a standing ovation, you set the tone for success the moment you start formulating your message. By considering how high-stakes contestants achieve success, you’re guaranteed to look at high-stakes presenting in a whole new light.