cover NLB Call No.: 158.1 BUN (General Section)

Includes annecdotes, case studies and suggested exercises to reinforce concepts. Each chapter has a convenient summary. There’s a section on further readings at the end.

This book is simple to read. Writing is clear and concise. A good quick reference for refreshing your presentation skills as well. My personal take after reading the book:

  • Be Present (enthusiastic; like you want to be there)
  • Let your content be the focus rather than the technical aspects of the presentation
  • Don’t have too much information on slides

Chapters:
1 – Communication:
Suggests 2 most important concepts in personal communication are the “I want to be here” attitude (presence and awareness) and “Acknowledging others”

2 – The self-critic, saboteur of change
Very short chapter. Basically pointing out some ways we might inadvertently decrease our self-confidence.

3 – Creating a positive presence – an overview
This part covers more concepts On personal space, “potent invisible aspects” (like our thoughts, attitudes, imagination, awareness).

4 – Visibility and image: the physical and mental you
[Getting to more practical aspects] About the physical part of yourself and how it relates to self-confidence. Guidelines on checking and correcting posture

5 – Improve your voice
[I found this chapter the most useful for me] How the voice works; physical habits that interfere with voice and message; being expressive (how certain unconscious habits can affect what you are trying to convey — like frowning, tense lips, fixed smiles, deadpan face, tense toungue, tense necks, tense jaws).

Suggests reading aloud Children’s Stories to work on our expressiveness. “Allow yourself to be completely involved in the story. IF you feel embarassed to do this exercise, close the door and ham it up in front of your mirror. Give yourself permission to be a fool or a clown momentarily.” Also suggests reading it differently and recording on video or tape for self reference and reflection.

6 – Listening and rapport
Includes a summary on characteristics of skilled listeners. Tips on establishing rapport (adopt same body posture, breathing in the same rhythmn, match tone of voice, use similar words and phrases where appropriate).

7 – Dealing with feedback and criticism
How to accept them, give them (it doesn’t cover this aspect too much), giving feedback in group situations.

First you must hear them out. Then accept it as truth for the moment. Acknowledge there is a problem (does not mean accepting blame etc). Play the role of detective to find out exact nature of issue. Request specific details. “Honour the person giving feedback as fellow human being whether you like him or not”.

8 – The art of presentation
[Useful and practical chapter. Contains concise yet comprehensive coverage on parts of the presentation, like introduction, body of the talk, interaction and facilitation] What makes a speaker interesting, what makes them boring, creative approaches to presentations, presentation tools, interactive presentation and facilitation, tips on presenting technical and scientific papers, doing a presentation as part of job interview, timing your talk, giving the actual presentations, “What if…?”

Questions to ask before preparing presentation:

  • What is the one thing I want my audience to remember?
  • How much can people remember?
  • How clear are my data?
  • How do I show my main points?
  • Would a simple 1-page handout do (rather than entire slides for distribution)?
  • What approach to take (discussion, brainstorming)
  • What are my personal options? Is it appropriate for me to stand or sit?

The “What If…?” section deals with how to cope with unexpected situations during presentations. “There is a question I cannot answer” (be honest and say you don’t know and offer to find out), “person talking over your talk by making a long statement”, “audience gets restless”, “there is little response to questions you ask”

9 – Action planning and summary
Ways to maintain personal power (in essence, it’s practice, practice and practice at each aspect over time).

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