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Become an Engaging Presenter

Lesson 4 of 15

Tips for Effective Communication


Become an Engaging Presenter

Lesson 4 of 15

Tips for Effective Communication


Lesson Info

Tips for Effective Communication

So what I'm talking about today really is Effective Communication. How do I become an effective communicator? You got to be yourself. This is who I am. I have to know who I am and I have to trust that I'm enough when I'm up here today. I will learn from this but I have to know that I'm making an emotional connection with all of you. The first way I do that is I ask people how they perceive me. So I spend a lot of time when I meet people. And I say Tell me what you think... How do you perceive me? Give me three adjectives to describe how you see me. Because what you get today, hopefully in a lot of the answers you gave me earlier, is about... It should be what I'm like out there. I'm not creating a Presentation Character. We see that a lot, where someone is about to present and I talk to people and they're about to present. And they walk on stage and they're like Hello, I'm Presenter Guy. Right? (audience laughs) So you need to be yourself and not create that Presenter Character. So how...

do you create that emotional connection? I need to know how you perceive me. So I spend a lot of time asking people What do you think, How am I to you? And then I ask them this question: If you didn't know that I Presented for a living, what would you think I did? 'Cause it really gives me an idea of how people see me and what they get from me. It's really important to make that emotional connection. The most important part of being an Effective Communicator in a presentation: Be the leader. If you're not the leader, then someone else is. And it's really hard to be the leader if you've given it up from the beginning. It's that first moment. What did I do, I walked on stage. I let you know I was here and I walked right on into the warmup. And I got everyone to do exactly what I was talking about. And then I moved into some of the other points I was working on. I want to be the leader. I want the spotlight. It's really hard for some of us we'll say I'm not a great speaker, I'm an introvert. But I have the spotlight right now. And the beauty of that is if I take control and I have the spotlight, I can give it up. But I can take it back. So I can point to Chris and say, Chris do something. Don't do anything Chris. No I won't do anything. Alright. Just relax then. I'm not ready for that. But then I can take it back. I can point to this, I can point to you. I can talk to the audience online. But I need to take it back 'cause if I'm not the leader, you lose engagement. You're wondering Who and I supposed to be watching? What's happening, what's going on? So I need to do that. How do I do that? It's very easy. Emotionally I have to connect with you. I have to understand body language. And I have to use my voice. It's important. All of these things are really important. But I don't have to do it just in the sense of being energy, high energy right? Have you ever been to a presentation and someone's like, We're here! Here we go! And they're like that the whole time. Our brains actually get used to that so we start to fade off. Like okay, you know. Like I expected explosions when I came onstage but Chris cut the budget. (Chris laughs) We can do that for energy but you don't have to do it all the time. Here's a great example. I went to a comedy club and it was really young. Everybody in there were in their 20's and all the comedians that came up, they were in their 20's. And they were incredibly high-energy. The stuff they were talking about was hilarious. The fifth comedian who walked up was in his 50's. He was balding. He had a shirt on that was a little big too small for him. And he walked onstage really slowly. And I could sense the entire audience groaning. And everything just went (whistles low) with the energy and they were like (groans). And he just stopped and looked at everyone and said I'm just as disappointed. (audience laughs) And from that moment, he was the leader and he took control of everything. Everybody in that room, and I watched them, they just paid attention, they listened to him. 'Cause he literally laid out the rules in his presentation and he said This is what we're about and this is who I am. And the rule he laid out was I know a little bit more than you do. It's that secret that everybody wants. So if I walk up here and I say Listen, I'm the expert, you should pay attention to me. I don't know if I can emotionally connect in that way. I am going to tell you today what I know and what I think works for me and you're going to find your own way. But the secrets I have are very simple. You have everything you need to be that great presenter. You just have to find out what that is in you. It's really, really important. And that means if I hold back, you're going to hold back. I need to give you everything I have today. I should be very tired when I'm done with this presentation. They should have a bed ready for me in CreativeLive when I'm done. (audience laughs) But that's important, If I hold back you're going to hold back. Does anyone know what Mirror Neurons are? Raise your hand. So we have, actually our brains are built to mirror the emotions that other people give us. That's why if I yawn you may yawn. Your brain is saying Maybe I need more oxygen? If I come up here and I give you excitement, energy, joy for what I'm talking about, the audience will actually mirror that and they'll start to pick up on what I'm giving. If I walk onstage... Oh no, what's gonna happen? You will pick up on that and you'll disengage. 'Cause I'm not giving you what you need. So you need to be aware of that. If I hold back, you're absolutely going to hold back. And it's really, really hard. Effective Communication comes from the fact that I'm actually giving you what you need. I hear this all the time. The other aspect of being an Effective Communicator is it's not about you. Most of the people I work with... I help a lot of people in their presentations and I talk to them a little about what they do. A lot of people say to me I'm not a strong presenter because I'm an introvert. I had someone say this to me. I was helping them with their presentation and they said I'm not a strong presenter because I'm an introvert. And my response was I'm not a strong audience-member because I'm an extrovert. (audience laughs softly) It's true, but I'm not going to sit in an audience and heckle, hopefully. I'm not going to sit in an audience and I'm not going to make a lot of noise. I'm not going to jump up and say Hey, I've got something to say! So I can learn to be an audience member. So you can learn to be someone who gives presentations. That idea that I'm not. That I'm not a strong this. I don't do this, I don't know how to do this, is a way for you to get out of doing the work. 'Cause it's not about you at all. This has nothing to do with me today. This has to do with you and it has to do with my message. If I focus on the message and the joy I get from helping people, and training them, and teaching them a little bit of the things I know how to do, it no longer is about me. You'll notice if you take the focus off of yourself, all of a sudden I don't shake. I don't worry about the fact that maybe I don't have the best posture right now. I don't start to focus on everything. We've all had that moment where we present and we're looking at the deck, and I'm reading things from the deck, but I'm actually paying attention to how my hand is moving and what's happening. And it's that out-of-body experience where we're focusing on so many things. But if I focus on you and the message, all that's gone. I'm connected to you and I don't have to worry about it anymore. These are all ways that we can actually emotionally and effectively connect with people. How do we do that? Well we have to do that with our bodies first. Body language is the most important aspect of how we connect with people. So everybody stand up. I'll do a really quick exercise with you. 'Cause we don't do this very often. How many people actually warmup physically when they do a presentation? A couple of people, other people are like I just run onstage and hope it happens. So I want to start with this. This is body language. It is the most valuable aspect of what we do in a presentation. You'll remember more about how I move physically than what comes out of my mouth. I'm aware of that. There is so little that I'm going to say that you're going to be like Oh. A couple of the points but you'll remember more if I'm actually using physical body language, right? So I'll give you a really quick example of how we listen. Everyone put your hand up and follow my directions. Make a fist, make three circles with your fist, put your hand on your forehead. (audience laughs) Oh, what! Right, so I already know that actions speak louder than words. That physically, what I do is more important. The energy I give you, how I respond, is more important. So everybody just take a minute and we're going to talk about Neutral Position. Put your feet shoulder-width apart and just let your hands rest to the side. 'Cause this is what we normally do in presentations. I don't know what to do with my hands so this is my presenter. This is my presenter. This is my presenter. So if you put your hands to the side, this is what we call our Neutral Position. Put your shoulders back a little bit and a couple of things happen. One is I'm now able to take breath in. So I can actually breathe in and out, right? Everybody do this real quick. Take one deep breathe in. And let it out. Now take five short breaths. (audience breathes) What did you notice? You have to use your diaphragm when you do that. That muscle, that nice band underneath your chest, that's going to give you power when we talk about Voice. But I'm in this neutral position. Physically, now I've established this when I'm presenting in front of you. This is my moment of rest. Anything I connect with when I talk to you, starts with the physical motion from this position, which I can then go back into. So I learn how to connect with it. So this is my position and I'm relaxed. I can move from anything. I can do this, I can talk about something. But then I can go back to this position. Now you know I'm at rest. The variety allows me to connect with my message and allows all of you to see a variety of my motion, so that you don't get used to it. If I'm doing this the whole time... One is, I'm probably winning a Step Challenge (audience laughs) And the other is, all that happens is you get used to that motion and you get bored with it. So I have to choose my motion really, really, really effectively. You can go ahead and sit down. So that's your Neutral Position. You have to practice it every day when you're about to present. Just start and get comfortable with it 'cause every day your body is different. Today I started warming up and I worked on it. And I start to feel the pains I have and the aches as I get a little bit older. So I have to know what works but it allows me to start to expand and breathe a little bit. So my body is so important and it starts with this: my facial expressions. That is the number one place you all look to. I just gave you all that example. I said Put your hand on your forehead and I saw this. (audience laughs) 'Cause you're all paying attention to me. So it starts with a smile. If I walked up... And I see this many, many times. It's hard. This is what went through my brain before I started this presentation: I hope I remember everything, there's a lot of stuff to cover, what's going to work what isn't, and Oh No, Casey just said Ten Seconds. So then I come onstage and if I want to reflect that, I come onstage and I do this. Or I immediately go to the work. I work with a lot of people who present behind podiums and their first move is here. 'Cause now I'm in front of a computer or I'm behind you and I'm away from you. So I have to come on and I have to give you this. And it's not the fake, like... But I have to remember I get to do this today. This is what I get to do. I don't have to go do anything else today. Pretty great life. So I come up here and I get to go This is what I get to do. I remind myself of that and I'm going to teach you a few tips about walking onstage a little bit later in this presentation. But I get to do that and I immediately engage with you. If I make eye-contact, if I focus on what I'm talking about, this is literally communicating to you more than this. If I'm engaged you're engaged. If I give you everything you're going to give me everything back. If I don't, if I'm too worried about how this looks, it becomes a problem because it's not about me. Believe me I know. If it were about me this is what the presentation would be about. Monday I tested this in front of a live audience. And I had some things work, some things not work. Monday evening I started to see a little red thing on my nose. Tuesday morning that red thing was my new friend. And I started to think about myself and what it would look like on camera. That's all me. But if I rewind that, Monday I got to test this in front of some people, they learned some things and they gave me valuable feedback, Tuesday I started rehearsing my changes. Yesterday I went through and I worked on it and I rehearsed it multiple times. And today I get to come here and do it. That's the beauty of it. So that's that facial expression. What do I do with my hands? How many people have been in a presentation where people are like Hello! This is something that I love to do. I worked with somebody once to get them... They had a tick where they would talk and they would do this. (audience laughs) And it was a nervous tick. And really, really amazing presentations except everyone was just like: What is that? So we worked on it. 'Cause we don't know, why does that happen? It happens because I'm thinking about it. My brain is engaging in Me. And my brain is thinking... In acting we used to call this Holding the Watermelons. When I first started acting I would come out and any line I ever had I would be like Hello! Right? (audience laughs) 'Cause I was thinking about how my body moved and what it did. So that neutral position and how I connect to the language, allows me to start to connect to my body. I get to feel what I'm sharing with you. That breath comes in and that emotion is attached to what I'm saying and I get to bring it out to you. So what do I do with my hands? I have no idea. What will happen will literally, hopefully direct what I'm talking about. But I'm not connecting to What does my hand do? I connect to the message. If I focus with you the message, less of my hands do this, or in the pockets, or this. It literally is about connecting with you and the message I give. So it's really important to start to practice that. When you rehearse, don't worry about it. But be Pointed. Description is important. So if I'm going to give you a hand-gesture, if I'm going to describe something, especially something that's really important, I might literally work out how my body moves. And then practice it and let it go. But the think you want to avoid is repetition. People at work make fun of me because I do this a lot. And I think what I'm trying to tell them is Hurry up and get to the point. But they say I'm being Descriptive. So one of the things I want you to do is pay attention to that. Don't repeat over and over again and you'll be fine. But the body... If you connect to the message, your body will follow you. If you try to think about your message, all you do is focus on that and it's really hard. So pay attention to that and let it go. And then go back to your Neutral Position. We'll going to talk about something else. Now I'm here, look, I'm here. This is what I've got. If I move now and I say Okay let's talk about Voice, I made a Pointed move. I came in here earlier today and I walked around the stage. I knew this stage from before. But when I rehearsed, I knew what my movements were going to be. They might not be perfect. They might not be exactly as I said they would be when I started to block out what my performance would be today. But literally I knew where I was going to go and what I was talking about. So I've got my body, I know that's number one. You're going to follow me. You're paying attention to my excitement, my level of interest. How my body moves is really an impression on you. But I have to follow that up with a strong voice. And I really like that. Voice for me is simple: Power, Pitch, Pace. The power of your voice is so important. I'll say that one more time in a different way. The power of your voice is very important. Which one is more effective? Which one actually resonates with you? Power comes from the energy, but it comes from your breath. So I just did that exercise with you where you breathe in five times really fast. (breathes fast) And all of a sudden I expanded my diaphragm. Now I have more breathe but when I bring it out and use my diaphragm, the difference is Hello verses Hello! There's a big change in how I actually deliver the message. So if I train myself and if I work on the power of my voice, it's a huge difference. And I can't deliver everything with the same power. 'Cause if I yelled everything to you, it might make you sad. But more important, you start to lose it because it's the same, right? So pace has something to do with that. When I get excited and I do this all the time. I love effective communication! Let's talk! But what happens is you start to get excited because I'm excited about it. If I keep my pace the same really fast the entire presentation, what you sense is Fear. Because people who speak really quickly, I will tell you it's more than 164 words a minute, but if people speak really quickly, the audience naturally will assume that they are afraid of something, right? We are programmed for Fight or Flight. What happens when we get nervous? Everything moves fast. We start to sweat, we breathe fast, our heartbeat becomes really fast, our breathing becomes really shallow. So then we talk like this and we get really excited and this is going to be best presentation ever, a presentation. And the audience knows that. So you gotta pay attention to that. So the pace is really important and it has to be a variety so that you stay connected to me. It's really , really helpful. I need to change how I speak in order for you to stay connected to me. Pitch is incredibly, incredibly important. For those of you who are singers, I'm tone-deaf. So for those of you who are singers, Congratulations. But pitch in presentation is really important, for you to understand how your voice works. I have three pitches essentially. My low, my heavy. My mid which is sort of my speaking voice. And then my high-pitch, my head voice. I might talk up here. When we get excited I talk up here. But when I'm serious I talk down here. And when I talk about things I normally talk in here. Which one is the most valuable for presentations? The high one? This one probably, right? I'm going to tell you it's all three. If I stay in this voice which is most comfortable for me, it's a monotone. And then I literally give you a monotone presentation. I have to practice that in order to give a more variety in my presentation. If you've noticed in my presentation, I'm modulating my voice a lot. It's really, really helpful. It's important for you to pay attention to that. 'Cause if I just gave you this, it would be really, really hard. The other part of Effective Communication that's really important is Pauses, right? So I've got this pitch. So I just did Power, Pitch, and Pace. But Pauses are really important too. I talked about our brains and we get in that Fight and Flight mode and we go Oh no I'm on stage, everything's happening so quick. This is what happens to our brains. Breathing gets shallow, heart rate goes up, and I think that two seconds is literally two hours. And I get nervous. And we have that thing where we have to fill every space with talk. If you ever watch people do an interview on the news, they use that work You Know a lot. That phrase, You Know, You Know, You Know. 'Cause we think that if I take a moment to gather my thoughts, we'll lose everybody. But the Pause is more powerful because I draw you in. It's really, really important. So I'll give you an example. Today in this class I am going to attempt to do something that no one has ever done in a presentation class. You're all waiting for the payoff. (audience laughs) I got nothing but I just wanted to do that. But I'll give you another example. Today in this class I'm literally going to do something no one has ever done in a Presentation Class before. I literally have nothing. (audience laughs) You thought I had something but I don't. But I just used a physical movement to draw you in and share with you that secret. And I gave you that pause. And that pause, when you practice, can literally be three times longer than you expect it to be. I'm using Pauses for a couple of reasons. Number one, I want to separate thoughts. Human beings do not speak in punctuation when they're presenting. So if I write out my presentation and I put in all these exclamation points and quotation marks, they don't necessarily exist. What happens is my feeling takes over. If I make a pause, you guys can also collect your thoughts and I can make sure that you're following me. So I'm going to collect my thoughts, separate them, I'm also going to make sure that all of you are following me. And if I use that kind of pregnant pause that I just showed you an example of, it's going to sink in. It's going to teach you something and it's going to let you know This is Important. And again that variety really helps. 'Cause if I tell you and I've done it a couple of times already. I've said, Listen body language is the most important part of your presentation. If you're not confident people won't feel It and they'll start to do that in their chairs. If I'm ready to go and really excited, you'll actually pick up on that energy. And I let it sink in. And then I move on. The last part that I think is important for Effective Communication that everyone talks about is Be. Have fun, enjoy yourself. It's not about having to be the funniest when you present. Not everybody has an amazing sense of humor. But allow yourself to have fun because laughter is amazing in a presentation. It's also, when you get someone to the point of laughter, they're the most receptive to your message. So if you notice in the office, if you make people laugh, if you're presenting to friends, if you're presenting for business, or if you're in interviews and you get people to enjoy it, they then become the most receptive. 'Cause you open them up to you. We're here now so we get to have fun. These are all really important. So those are effective ways to communicate with people. Why do we need them? Good question Andy. We need them because you all have barriers that I'm trying to break down.``

Class Description

Does your work require you to give presentations? Are you just getting through them and hoping for the best but not quite hitting the mark? 

Are you building decks to pitch your ideas and to present to clients, but feel as though your presentation skills are mediocre at best? 

Have you lost out on opportunities because you failed to connect with your audience? It’s time to learn how to improve your presentation skills and to start actually enjoying the entire process. 

Join former Late Night with Conan O’Brien performer, accomplished career coach, and small business owner Andrew Whelan to learn how to be an engaging, dynamic presenter. 

This class is short, actionable, and something you can always reference before you go into a pitch. 

In this class you will learn how to: 

  • Prepare your story and rehearse 
  • Prioritize your message 
  • Improve your vocal strength and physical presence 
  • Get emotionally connected with your audience 
  • Keep the momentum going to develop a rhythm 
  • Read cues, connect with your audience and present yourself as an authority 
  • Manage anxiety and handle the unexpected 



This is my second time as an audience member for Creative Live, and I have to tell you all - I'm hooked! I decided to give it a shot because I'm genuinely interested in the subject being covered, it is a wonderful networking opportunity, and its free for audience members - so I receive the course and the bonus materials. For those of you that are nervous about the cameras like I was, let me assure you that you hardly even notice them. If you ever watched a few courses before becoming an audience member, you can tell how little the audience is even shown. Now as for Mr. Whelan - CL couldn't have picked a better presenter to present about presentations. His knowledge and experience reflects in his presentation - he's warm, personable, and if he did rehearse and prepare the way he recommends, it's not noticeable. He's natural and you can relate to every point made. I hope there are other Andrew Whelan courses in the future. I highly recommend CL - as a participant and an audience member - for their variety of course content and bonus materials that I continue to use in my day-to-day. I strongly recommend any class or workshop that includes Andrew Whelan. His advice, experience, and genuine empathetic approach to helping others become better, is invaluable. Thank you Andrew and Thank you Creative Live!

Carolyn Winslow

Thank you! You gave me some fresh ideas to share when I am presenting, and when I'm helping folks be more comfortable when they need to speak in front of others. Good examples, to the point without fluff, and even a bit entertaining. Thanks!

Jack Foxe

This was my first live audience experience, and wow was i shocked how engaged i was! Im someone who has an awful attention span so the fact that i was listening and taking everything in was fantastic. Thanks Andrew for some great tips and making me laugh and thanks to Creative Live for having me in the audience. If anyone who interacts with other people on a regular basis this class is essential!