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Blog posts in Exhibitions and events

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12 ways to reduce your fears of public speaking

July 12, 2016 by Marketing Donut contributor

12 ways to reduce your fears of public speaking{{}}Speaking in public - even about the business you love - is a widely held fear. So how do you turn that fear into confidence?

1. Speak in public whenever you get a chance

It doesn't matter whether you speak for 30 seconds or 30 minutes; just take that first step. By taking advantage of opportunities to speak in front of others as often as you can you will break through the fear and in no time you will be unstoppable.

2. Smile

Smile and look people in the eye. Confidence is contagious. Your confidence will make your listeners feel good and soon they will be smiling too.

3. Speak about what you know

Your background, your history and your experience are unique. People love to hear others share their unique perspectives. Use material from your past or present so your audience can enter your world and experience it through your eyes.

4. Time

Leave them wanting more. Brevity is key. You should be able to deliver your message in a few well-considered sentences. If you tend to be long-winded, you will need to work on cutting your speech down. Keep it snappy, focused and concise.

5. Humour

Humour endears an audience to the speaker. But use it wisely - too much and your message can be lost in the jokes. So sprinkle it rather than ladle it.

6. Use pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words. You can compose word pictures (verbal descriptions that paint vivid pictures) or use real images to illustrate your message.

7. Fake until you make it

If you still feel your stomach churning and your legs wobbling act as if you are cool and calm. Don a mask of confidence, smile, look directly at your audience and speak. They will never know how nervous you are on the inside.

8. Find a mentor

A mentor can help you grow through listening, feedback and advice. Someone who can already do well what you dread is the ideal mentor and their experience and skills are just what you need.

9. Be ambitious

Set goals, adjust them and review them. Always set them a little beyond your reach so that you have to stretch.

10. Keep at it

Try and try again. Keep on getting up and giving it a go. No matter how badly you feel it went (and it is rarely as bad as you think), get up, try again and focus on improving through practice.

11. Travel

Don't always speak at the same events. Go to new events or visit groups you've never met before. This will give you new material, new experiences and new feedback. It creates a cycle of expansion that will help you develop your speaking - and your business.

12. Use "I"

The "I" word is powerful. Use it to reach out and connect with your listeners. Use it to express feelings, experiences and thoughts. The "I" encapsulates your individuality; the part of your business that no one else can copy.

By following these tips you can overcome your fears of speaking in public. They will take you from pen and page to people and public; and connect you with new customers.

Copyright © 2016 Frances Cahill of Toastmasters International.

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Why practice makes perfect when it comes to communication

February 22, 2016 by Andy Bounds

Why practice makes perfect when it comes to communication{{}}When a fan once said to violinist Fritz Kreisler "I'd give my whole life to play as beautifully as you just did," Fritz answered, "I did."

He didn't just read about the theory of music every day; he played the violin - a lot.

It's the same with Lewis Hamilton. He has spent thousands of hours sitting behind the wheel. He certainly hasn't just been reading the Highway Code for years.

So, when you're talking with others and want to say the right thing, remember the only way to succeed is to practise saying what you want to say until you get it right.

I'm sure you're familiar with the famous quote from George Orwell's Animal Farm - "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".

It's the same with communication - all sentences are equal, but some sentences are more equal than others. The bits you need to practise include your openings, your elevator pitch, your responses to challenges and questions that get people talking.

These are your critical communications and they are the ones you need to practise, out loud, as much as possible:

  • The opening sentence of a presentation. A great start builds confidence - for you and your audience, letting them know that this is going to be a great use of their time.
  • Your opening sentence at a meeting. This sets the tone for the whole thing. Which meeting you would you rather attend? One starting: "welcome to the meeting; let me read out the ten point agenda" or one that begins "welcome to the meeting. The reason we're here is because - afterwards - we need to be able to do X, Y and Z. And as soon as we can, we'll finish."
  • Your elevator pitch, so you quickly impress everyone you meet.
  • Power questions, so you get the other person talking about the topics you're most interested in.
  • Answers to your most dreaded sentences. Prepare and practise how to respond to the things you dread hearing others say. That way, you don't dread them any more.

So, look at today's diary and identify the most important bits of your communications. Practise saying them out loud, a lot. It'll make a huge difference.

Copyright © 2016 Andy Bounds, communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here. This blog first appeared here.

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How to choose the right exhibition

June 16, 2014 by Richard Edwards

How to choose the right exhibition/ Exhibition sign{{}}Exhibiting at an industry trade show can do wonders for your business — but it can also cost a lot. So how do you choose the right trade show?

1. Assess your objectives

The first step is to list all the reasons for wanting to exhibit. Be specific. “To increase sales” is too vague.

 How exactly will exhibiting help you to boost sales? Here are some common objectives for exhibitors: 

  • Launch a new product
  • Make new contacts
  • Learn about industry developments
  • Interact with your current customers
  • Test out a new product
  • Gather sales leads

 2. Compare the trade shows to your key objectives

 Next you can start to compare the USPs of each show with your business objectives to find the best matches.

 Look at each trade show and try to find out key information from previous years:

  • Size: both footfall and exhibition space.
  • Industry segment. Which area of the industry will the trade show target?
  • Number of exhibitors. How many attended previous events?
  • Competition. Are your competitors likely to attend? If so, how many and which ones?
  • Publicity. Where will the trade show be publicised online and in the media?
  • Respect. How is the trade show rated by customers and your industry peers?

With this information you should be able to score each potential trade show based on how well they meet your key objectives. This will be a bit of a balancing act between cost, likely outcomes and the resources you have available.

3. Balancing the budget

A fundamental question you need to answer is: Can we afford this trade show?

You should have a good idea of your budget, so the best way to get started is to create a list of all possible trade shows and their cost and cross off all those you cannot afford.

In order to meet defined objectives, it is important to make sure you have factored in appropriate costs for each exhibition including: 

  • Exhibition stand and build
  • Marketing materials
  • Staffing
  • Travel

You will also need to think about the costs of other activities like demonstrations, competitions, branding/graphics, advertising and so on.

Once you have factored all of these costs in for each opportunity, plus the ticket cost, you should have a list of affordable trade shows that match your objectives and target market. 

Richard Edwards is the director of exhibition and event specialist Quatreus.

Why you should expect the unexpected when you are speaking in public

March 10, 2014 by Andy Coughlin

Why you should expect the unexpected when you are speaking in public/Businessman pointing whiteboard at conference{{}}A high-profile speaker walked off the stage mid-presentation at a recent product launch at the CES Technology expo in Las Vegas. It’s ironic that it was caused by the failure of the technologically humble auto-cue. But what can we do when this happens? And— make no mistake — it will.

They say speaking in public ranks alongside spiders and death as one of the things people fear most. I’m one of the few who happen to enjoy it — I quite like spiders too — but that doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous and it certainly doesn’t mean everything goes smoothly every time.

The opportunity to stand up and speak publicly always presents challenges. So what can we do to prepare for the unexpected; the auto-cue failing, the heckler at a public event or when you completely lose the thread of what you are saying?

Practise. This means actually doing it, not thinking about what you would do. Jonny Wilkinson doesn’t talk about what he’s going to do. He puts the ball down, steps back and kicks it, again and again and again.

Learn your opening few lines by heart. If you can walk onto the stage knowing word for word what you’re going to say in your first 30 seconds, you will get into your flow more quickly.

Look for things that might trip you up and address them. The auto-cue not working is an obvious one. So practise without it. When I did my IBM training they used to take the bulb out of the over-head projector (remember them?). It taught you to carry a spare bulb and also to practise without your visuals.

Prepare for questions and comments. In public events, hecklers, or questions from the floor are more likely than in an internal meeting. Decide how you are going to handle them.

Have a plan if you draw a blank. We’ve all had moments when our mind has gone totally blank and we can’t think what comes next. Almost always, it will come back to us. We just need to find a way back to safety. Here’s what I do:

  • Don’t worry about taking a few seconds to gather your thoughts, they won’t notice. A smile, and a sip of water will buy you some more time.
  • Stay calm and picture where you are in the presentation. This will usually prompt you back to what you should be saying — the few notes I use usually have little images on them to remind me of the journey through what I’m going to say.
  • Take the chance to summarise. People don’t mind being reminded of what you’ve told them and a recap buys you more time and will usually trigger what comes next.
  • Go back to your notes. I don’t use notes on stage (unless I’m running through some detailed information), but I always have a set to hand. Nobody is going to mind, if you say ‘excuse me’ and go over to your notes, or take a moment to look down at them. Especially if you do it with a smile on your face.

Andy Coughlin is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and chief executive of Andy Coughlin Consulting.

How to put the passion into your presentations

February 27, 2014 by Andy Bounds

How to put the passion into your presentations/Five business people smiling in presentation{{}}Audiences like presenters to speak with passion. After all, if the presenter doesn’t care about their topic, why should we?

We all know this. Therefore we all also know that our audiences want us to present with passion to them.

But some of us find it hard to remember to inject passion into our presentations.

Instead, we often resort to last-minute, rushed prep; and then use wordy slides to act as speaker prompts. And, let’s face it, it’s virtually impossible to speak with passion to your audience if you have to read your slides. This approach just doesn’t work for the audience. Which means it doesn’t work well for you.

It’s understandable to take this approach once — after all, we all get crazy-busy sometimes. But when it becomes the norm, that’s when the problems start.

How passionate are you?

Here are two quick questions for you:

  • On a scale of 1 (bad) to 10 (brilliant), how would you grade your ability to always present with passion?
  • What grade would your audiences give you?

Presenters’ passion tends to come from one of three sources:

  • What you’re like
  • What you’re saying
  • What you’re causing

So, for the first, some people are just like that. They’re passionate about everything and it shows.

Others get their passion from their subject matter. For example, a technical specialist loves their topic and gets a real buzz when talking about it — and the audience is inspired by this.

The third type loves the impact their presentation will cause: what I call the “afters”: why people are better-off after hearing it. There are two main types of afters here: why your audience is better-off, and why you are better-off.

My burning passion

For example, my burning passion is to enable the people I speak to. That puts me in the third group. So, during my prep, I’ve worked out why they’ll be better-off after hearing me speak — for instance, they’ll have more clarity, time freed up, quicker buy-in. And I keep focusing on that during my presentation.

This makes it easy for me to speak with passion. You don’t have to be in group three but you do want to be in one of these groups. Because if you aren’t, there’s too little passion. And when that happens, nobody wins.

Before your next presentation, ask yourself: What’s the source for my passion? Will it come from what I am like, saying or causing?. And then, keep focusing on your answers throughout your prep, delivery and follow-up.

Andy Bounds is a communications expert, speaker and the author of The Snowball Effect: Communication Techniques to Make You Unstoppable. You can sign up for his free weekly tips here.

Four steps to give your exhibition stand the wow factor

February 18, 2014 by Marketing Donut contributor

Four steps to give your exhibition stand the wow factor/Wow comic speech bubble cartoon{{}}Everyone wants to be the stand out exhibition at an event. No matter how big or small your stand or budget, you need to make an impact.

But an impressive exhibition stand takes ambition, creativity and a solid understanding of how to show your business in a unique and relevant way. This last point is key and will, most likely, take up a considerable amount of your planning and design time.

Step one: What have you done in the past?

If you have exhibited before, the first step is to objectively review your past performances at exhibitions. You can learn from your mistakes as well as those exhibits that ticked along but didn’t garner as much attention as you hoped. Carefully analyse your previous performance — what worked, what didn’t and what could be fine-tuned for re-use.

Step two: What have others done?

If you’ve never exhibited before, or even if you have, it’s essential you check out the competition within your sector. Focus on exhibitors that have won awards for their displays or those that are considered to be top of their game. Taking inspiration from previous exhibits that were particularly impressive is a great way forward.

Then take a look outside your industry to find fresh ideas. In addition, spend time on design websites to see what’s being shared and commended. Are there any elements that can inspire your exhibition?

Step three: What do exhibition companies recommend?

Exhibition stands are evolving at an impressive rate. Just consider that integrating tablets into your presentation would have been unheard of three years ago — and flat screen displays five years before that.

Check out those websites that discuss advances in the event industry. Visiting a showroom is also an excellent way to discover what exhibition experts consider to be the future of event marketing. Looking into these advances could inspire some really creative ways to promote your business.

Step four: Keep it relevant

It’s actually quite easy to be the stand that everyone talks about if money isn’t an issue. But you want to see a return on your investment, which means carefully weighing up the benefits of taking your stand in a certain direction with the confidence that it will drive conversions.

The most straightforward way of gaining good leads from your stand is to make sure it is relevant to your business. All forms of promotion should be easily and recognisably associated with your business within five seconds of someone first seeing your stand. It should also feature eye-catching elements that are complementary to the brand message.

A bad example would be a bottled water company sporting a massive aquarium. The connection is there but it’s not immediately apparent what fish and drinking water have in common. A better example would be a travel company displaying a large aquarium to promote glamorous destinations, suggesting exotic adventures.

Once you’ve taken these steps, you should be in a strong position to create a great exhibition stand with the wow factor that everyone talks about.

Kelly Edwards is assistant ecommerce manager at Nimlok.

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