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Archive for the ‘Style and Image’ Category

The first of my quick little posts on improving your image an style. Today’s tip… don’t buy 100% viscose clothing. It bobbles! It does amaze me that even well known quality brands still use this fabric that shortens the lifespan of clothes dramatically.

Become a fabric hunter. Silk knitwear is much longer lasting and you can get very fine knits which look lovely with summer clothes. Silk is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Chic too!

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While we've got the summer still going strong (anyone with a garden won't be minding the rain for a week) it's tempting for a presenter to wear those lovely open toe shoes in an informal/formal kind of way. But DON'T DO IT.

I don't know why but open toes (no matter how nice the footwear) just never work. I guess because the audience is looking at the whole of you when you're standing in front of them as a speaker… all that jumps out is not your eyes, but your feet! Never mind those manicured pinkies, your feet will not only jump out.. but get bigger while you speak. The eyes get inexorably drawn down to them.

I know it's strange. But true.

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I know I said I would describe the difference between a beat and a pause – but first something that's just come to my attention, so i should mention it…

If you are about to give a speech or presentation – Always ask for an introduction.
But make sure you check it first. Better still, write it yourself. If the MC sets you up wrong then you might have to spend the first half of your presentation repairing the damage! Trust me.

Now that's out of the way here it is…

Beat: about a second in length – it's just a heartbeat gap.
Pause: these are completely different! Pauses can last as long as you want – but they MUST be emotionally charged to work. Must must must – otherwise the audience will get bored. I am very strick about this rule and for good reason. I can write quite a lot about the use and misuse of 'pauses' and will come back to them time and again in future blogs I'm sure.

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Underestimate an MC's job at your peril, especially if it is your first time. I'll start with the best advice first – if you're an MC, it's all too easy to get caught up in arranging the schedule and running organising everything on the night. Before you know it the audience have arrived, are seated and it's time for you to stand in front of everyone and welcome them. Alas! if you haven't completely thought through everything you're going to say before that moment – it's too late! What EXACT words are you going to say? Rehearse your opening lines at least if not anything else.

Being an MC is all about easy communication with the audience. Being confident – and informative. Making sure everyone understands your main points, that they are interested in what you are going to say next, and that you get a laugh here and there. Confidence comes with preparation, and I will be giving tips on how to prepare so stay tuned in to this blog.

2 tips to start you off…
• Getting a laugh. A safe thing is to use jokes that say something you can carry on from, so if the audience don't laugh, they won't know they haven't. You can also cover your back by not laughing at your own jokes in case the audience doesn't.
• Never look at your watch it will remind the audience how long you've been talking and might create the impression that timekeeping is more important than them.

Practise what you are going to say in front of a mirror, record yourself to listen and check how you're emphasising your words, film yourself (cringe-worthy though it may be) to see how many times you do those repetitive manerisms.

'A sign of a good MC is that even if the roof fell down – he'd have the audience believe it was in the schedule. Better still…. if you somehow save a potentially embarrassing situation – and do it with flair – audience will definately warm to you! 

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Power Points: Here's quick, but very useful tip… I always say don’t put text on a slide unless you’re going to give the audience time to read it. Very important. Either remain silent while they read, or preferably, read it out for them.

The worse thing you can do is to carry on talking, while they’re trying to read, then change the slide when they’re only half-way through. Then if you go through the slides too quickly, with insufficient time to absorb each one, the audience will get irritated and very soon (horror!) start to cough and shuffle. Oh dear. 

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Ever been there?

You're giving a speech or presentation and happen to look around your audience, and what do you see? A sea of utterly blank faces. That's a mouth drying moment. But rest assured.

Notice yourself next time you are part of an audience. You might find the speaker very interesting, but how expressive are you of that interest? Do you nod in agreement or throw your head back to laugh in appreciation? Probably not very much, when you lose your self-consciousness and get absorbed in the content you might in fact frown in concentration, and if the speaker wasn’t in the know she’s probably think you were frowning in disagreement.

So 3 things:
1: Be confident and know that the audience probably is listening (unless you really are boring them to death)
2: Take pity on the next speaker you listen to, nod or smile occasionally perhaps – because the time will surely come when you'll appreciate it yourself.
3: If you don't see any response – pretend there is! Funny thing, it really does work. A small smile back at 'someone' in the audience, as if they have just smiled at you. And voila! Before you know it, you'll start getting a response. People follow other people. Or what they think other people are doing.

Hope that helps!

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There is an incredible amount of inertia associated with any audience. It can be extremely hard to make them laugh, sing or even offer you a smile every now and again. Steely gazes look up at you and you have no idea whether you’re boring them to death. But take heart, if they’re not fidgeting, they’re interested.

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