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5 Ways to Nail Your Next Presentation

Presentation

A lot of sites and blogs offer great tips on helping you prepare a top-notch presentation, but I want to take it a step further. I’m offering tips on mastering what few of us think to prepare for: Your nonverbals, or as I like to call it, charm.

Let’s face it, your nonverbals make up at least half of how your presentation is delivered. Appropriate hand gestures, tight dialogue, and an award-winning smile go a long way in how your presentation is going to be evaluated, and practicing good nonverbals is a lot easier than you might think.

5. Be “Exemploraneous”

Okay, that word is obviously made up, but the goal is to get you to rethink the word “extemporaneous.”

An extemporaneous speech is one given without a lot of preparation, or to put it less harshly, a speech that isn’t memorized. Most of us operate by this style because we work better impromptu while remembering the basic tenets of our speech’s outline.

The problem is that we typically revert to reading off of PowerPoints when we  don’t memorize our presentation, which affects our credibility. It keeps us from being, you guessed it, exemplary.

So I posit the idea of being “exemploraneous.”

Put simply,  it’s okay to give your speech without a script coming out of your mouth, but memorizing things like definitions and examples ahead of time allows you to nail your presentation without worrying too much about what’s coming next.

The best part? This definitely allows you to focus more on your nonverbals when you’re not too preoccupied with what’s on your PowerPoint screen.

4. Plan Your Segues

Your presentation will be riddled with awkward transitions between major points, and awkward means awkward fillers.

Avoiding works like “um” and “uh” is a given, but we typically forget why we use fillers in the first place. The main reason is we don’t know what to say, or more specifically, we haven’t memorized our segues.

Doing this is invaluable for transitioning between each point and dramatically lowers your chances of lost credibility due to those small, unforgivable words.

3. Practice In Front of a Mirror

Not for the sake of being vain, of course.

If you’re like me, your default facial expressions tend to be a lot different from what you think your face is doing (unless you are a model I suppose).

That’s why getting a sense of what you look like while you are speaking works towards building your confidence and helping you practice your gestures.

2. Record Yourself

You also want to know what you sound like as well.

I typically use a tape recorder or my phone (though a webcam can be pretty effective), and I will find myself listening to the speech many times over in order to fix things like my volume, pitch, and even parts of the speech that don’t make sense or fit.

If you have the resources, practicing in front of friends or family can also be a great way to get instant feedback.

1. Relax

Aim towards being relaxed and confident. Being too rehearsed, while being somewhat beneficial, can be detrimental to your nerves, especially when you lose your place or forget something.

A great way to help yourself relax in the heat of the moment is to use stories and anecdotes to break things up. You’ll find that it puts you at ease and can even help you set up for later points.

Just remember to balance your speech well when using stories, as they have the power to overwhelm the point you’re trying to make.

Alright, good luck and don’t forget to get some sleep the night before!

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

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3 Types of Friends You Should Have

3 Types of Friends

You’re in your early twenties going through a multitude of dramatic life changes. Who doesn’t need a friend at this point of your life?

Well, the truth is that the right kind of friend can make this tumultuous time much more bearable, and I posit that there are 3 general types of such friends:

1. The Rival

Tread carefully. The word “rival” has a bad reputation for indicating a person we have harsh, jealous feelings towards. I’m not going there with this.

My rival is my best friend. The person most similar to me professionally and personality-wise. Their purpose in your life is to have someone there to challenge you. To measure yourself against.

Some of you cringe at that last statement, but let’s be frank. We push ourselves much harder when we have someone to motivate us, and a rival allows us to avoid complacency.

I have the fortune of having several friends like these that I graduated college with. I’m fortunate because they are good people with great ambitions, and I always have friends like these to remind myself that I have a lot more to work for.

2. The Partner-In-Crime

Don’t actually commit crimes here, but what I’m describing is that friend in your life that you just have fun with. You don’t talk about work, stress, aspirations, or even relationships very much with friends like these. They are there to help you unwind, relax, and focus on the positives of life.

In my life, my partners-in-crime are there for me to forget about my worries for a brief part of the week and just have people to laugh with.

3. The Kindred Spirit

This is more open for interpretation, but I’m not necessarily referring to a soul mate here or anything romantic. A kindred spirit is that rare type of friend that you only see occasionally but typically turn to when you need to have a deep, meaningful conversation.

You turn to these people, not just
because they are good listeners, but because you know that they will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They tend to be friends that are very different from you. Maybe an opposite gender or someone older.

The importance of having friends like these is that you have someone who you connect with and have an unconditional relationship with. For me, my kindred spirits have been siblings and long-time close friends. I don’t see them often, but when I do, I know that I can tell them anything.

I’d say that these types of friends can be important for any stage in your life, but the reason I’m narrowing it down to new professionals like myself is because this is truly a vulnerable time for us. Mainly because it is the period of our lives where we feel most invulnerable, which is honestly a tragic illusion.

Forcing these types of friendships is absolutely pointless, but I do encourage you to seize an opportunity to foster friendships such as these and put effort into the types of people you surround yourself with. You will surely see it turn out for the better.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

 

Where I Stand With Foursquare

Where I Stand With Foursquare

Remember those friendships you had in high school that were constantly filled with drama and stressful falling outs and reunions? Well, Foursquare and I have been dancing that dance for the better part of two years now, and I am finally taking a step back and making a decision on where this check-in app and I stand.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Foursquare was the first mainstream application that allowed you to “check in” to a place via your smart phone. What makes it different from its biggest competitor, Facebook, is that the app has many gimmicky features, such as location “mayors,” Yelp-like tips and reviews, and rewards for checking into a certain place.

The app debuted 5 years ago and has had a tumultuous run to say the least. The app is currently boasting 25 million users, with 10 million being active, yet the app has still been plagued by missed opportunities in advertising and solid revenue strategy.

But I won’t get into the business side of Foursquare. The user experience is what I have most credibility in, having been a user of the app for quite some time.

My experience with the app started a couple of years ago when I started using Android. I was addicted to Foursquare’s features. I check in everywhere, attempting to become “mayor” of my favorite places, and I succeeded most of the time. I loved receiving discounts and free stuff from checking into places like coffee shops and clothing stores, and a lot of my friends were doing the same thing, resulting in an engaging, fun social network.

So what happened?

After a couple of months, the app wore me out. I started seeing less and less check-ins from different people. My friends were flocking from the app, and I started seeing check-ins from the same person checking into the same place they checked into yesterday. The notifications became incessant, and I quickly lost interest into what they had to say.

That was the inherent problem Foursquare always had with me. Eventually, we all run out of new places to check into, or reasons for checking into them. Being “mayor” rarely has any tangible perks, and if they do, the competition to receive the title is too high to bother with.

At a certain point, you’ve used up all of the deals and promotions from your favorite places, and you just don’t think about the app anymore, at least not positively.

Sure, I would boot up the app again while traveling, but those instances are too few and far between for the app to be invaluable to me. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the app countless times.

And it seems that Foursquare’s solution is to make the app look nicer. Every update and new release, while interesting and worth checking out, doesn’t make the inherent issues behind the user experience just go away.

At the same time, I’ve always rooted for the app. It’s the proverbial underdog as it is competing against Facebook’s larger network, and it has lost a lot of ground. I get the appeal, though, since Facebook is seamless and doesn’t pester you with notifications unless you will it.

The sad thing is that Foursquare does have better features and is a fun app to navigate recently, as they’ve really tightened up the interface.

I don’t have any solutions here. Sorry for the pessimism. Today I downloaded the latest update, even though I contemplated uninstalling the app just yesterday for constantly pestering me with notifications about the same person every time I check my phone.

At some point, Foursquare lost its magic  with me, where I was perfectly alright with its integration into my life. I’m not hopeful it can achieve that again, but I’m a sucker for a good Cinderella story, which is why I’m still here.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

The Power of Being Infamous

Power of Being Infamous

Defined, being “infamous” is not a good thing at first glance. Being infamous means that you have an extremely bad reputation, making it a goal for many people to not be infamous.

Well, I don’t like to think that way. More to the point, I choose not to make my goals dependent on words described by vague words like “bad” or “good.”

There is power in being infamous, because there is power in perception. There is power in extremes. When someone boldly categorizes you in an extreme, there is overt power in that.

Power that gives you control (or at least the opportunity to control).

Of course, you don’t want a bad reputation for certain things. JetBlue doesn’t want to be infamous for stranding its customers on the tarmac, Tylenol definitely doesn’t want to be infamous for poisoning its customers with cyanide, and you don’t want to be infamous for basically being bad at what you want to be good at.

The power of perception, even supposedly negative perception, allows you to do several things:

  • Have a widespread conversation
  • Initiate the conversation
  • Control the conversation

This falls back on the notion that we can almost always use something bad for good. Even better, using your biggest weakness as your biggest strength as Sun Tzu would say.

I’m not speaking to striving for becoming “infamous” or some kind of antagonistic troll. What I am challenging you to do is to rethink perception when reacting to the onset of an infamous persona being thrust upon you. More plainly, when we are obsessed with trying to avoid becoming “infamous,” we may miss an opportunity while still becoming infamous in the end.

Take a note from some famous brands that have used their biggest weaknesses and turned them into opportunities:

  • Avis – “We Try Harder” campaign is famous for positioning Avis being “second best” as a good thing.
  • Barnes and Noble – The “Nook” was Barnes and Noble’s way of controlling the conversation surrounding the rise of e-books.
  • AT&T – “It Can Wait” campaign showed this phone brand’s response to cell phones being infamous for “texting while driving” fatalities that are on the rise.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

What Will We Love About the 2000’s?

What Will We Think of the 2000's?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 90’s lately. I’ve been watching Boy Meets World and Dawson’s Creek daily (don’t judge me), and my current music obsessions revolve around a 90’s playlist I made on Spotify. Shamelessly.

This sudden nostalgia isn’t all that mysterious. Everyone from sociology experts to Buzzfeed saw this retro revival coming. Put the incessant Pokemon and James Van Der Memes aside and you’ve got a pretty textbook phase going on now.

So, what will people think of the 2000’s? For me, revisiting this decade in possibly 10 years will be a thrill since I spent my teenage years during this time. Sure, the 90’s were when I first discovered Playstation, but the 2000’s are when I first discovered girls and Blink 182.

It’s easy to classify the 90’s if you really think about it. It was a decade of reflection on the previous decades (think Forrest Gump) as well as a hard look at the future (the Y2K fiasco). What will we say about the 2000’s? Hopefully we’ll have more to go off of on than American Idol and  the rise of club music.

For me, the millennium was a time when everything that was great in the 90’s seemed to decline. Two wars, intense political divide, and Fallout Boy ensured that we had plenty to worry about, but at the same time we had some of the best escapism out there.

After all, special effects really came into their own during this time. My favorite superhero of all time, Spider-Man, finally got his own movie in 2002 and kicked off a decade of mostly stellar comic-book movies, culminating with The Dark Knight, and more generally, Avatar in 2009.

Pixar came out with most of its best movies that decade from Toy Story 2 (okay it came out in November of 1999 but close enough) to Finding NemoWall-E, and Up just to name a few.

Oh and let’s not forget Harry Potter.

I guess it’s settled. I’ll forever remember the 2000’s for how easy and fun it was to escape into a good movie. Heck, things have gotten even worse since the 2000’s ended when you think about. Pixar isn’t coming out with a non-sequel until 2014…

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

How to Get Better at Thinking on Your Feet

Thinking On Your Feet

In the world of public relations and online community building, your weapon of choice is strategy. You take time to think through your given strategy by setting out clear objectives, goals, and tactics. Time is your friend, and most of us in this profession revel in staying up late to perfect a campaign we’re about to present.

Unfortunately for me and others like me, I’m very decisive. When I like an idea or course of action, I tend to decide on it quickly without thoroughly examining alternative options or the consequences of that idea.

Sure, this comes in handy when I’m on a date and the girl can’t decide what movie we should see, but when you’re too decisive on formulating a campaign for a client or your supervisor, trouble can ensue. That is, when you take a narrow-minded approach to creating your lifeline, expect the boat to sink.

This is because even the “best” idea in the world to you can be shot down in the quickest moment. We can try to defend our decision and approach all we want, but all it takes is that one, seemingly insignificant variable to make your strategy completely dismissive. When that variable is thrown at you by the people you are trying to win over, you’re going to have to take a different, albeit scary approach.

You’re going to have to think on your feet.

In a lot of cases, this is your one chance. No time for do-overs. No time for re-convening. The spotlight is on you, and you’re going to have to deliver. Weirdly, I love these sink-or-swim moments.

To be honest, I’ve always had a knack for this. I was the student in school who made up speeches on the spot. When running for student body president of my high school, I took my pre-approved script, crumpled it up onstage and proceeded without any idea of what I should say (and I won).

This isn’t something I’ve always just known how to do, to be honest. It’s something I learned and practiced. Being put on the spot on tends to get your mind moving at double its speed, and when you’re used to it, you can actually have a fair time assembling what you need to say smoothly and coherently. Eventually, you get to the point where it’s actually a thrill.

One of the secrets to this being good at presenting in general. Specifically, you need to be able to sell an idea. Prove that you think it is the greatest idea in the world (by showing it in your confidence), present the evidence and reasoning behind why you think it is the greatest idea in the world, and get people excited about it.

That’s not to say, however, that you’re just pulling information out of thin air. Good listening skills and the ability to read an audience also plays a huge part in assembling an off-the-cuff response or presentation.

A year ago, I was at the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) National Assembly as a delegate for Liberty University. We had regular seminars covering various ethos in the profession, and I attended one that provided insights on ethics.

For this seminar, we were divided up into groups of 10-15 students each and were given the opportunity to prepare an ethical response on a fabricated crisis assigned to us.

Nonsense ensued. My group was in chaos and disagreement over how to address the problem at hand. Three of the students were bickering incessantly, and the rest of the group seemed to have give up on sharing their opinion.

Sitting on the sidelines, I had been taking notes on what everyone was saying and listened very carefully to everything discussed. Before we knew it, our time was up and we hadn’t even decided on who was going to present our response on behalf of the group.

When called upon, I volunteered and gave one of the most frightening speeches I’ve ever given. I’m in a room full of the country’s best PR students, as well industry professionals and opinion leaders. And I had nothing concrete prepared, just a list of points.

Of course, no one in the group even knew who I was and were probably embarrassed for me, but I went ahead anyway. Then something fantastic happened.

Glancing at my notes, I presented the issue by summarizing the opinions and thoughts shared by our group. I didn’t leave anyone out. Using this information, I came up with a solution on the spot that seemed to satisfy everyone.

Apparently the planets aligned because our response was the best in the seminar, and our group was highly praised. I made a lot of friends (and got a lot of business cards) from the group that day, and some of the older professionals in the room congratulated me personally.

The point isn’t that I’m something special. Honestly, I was pretty lucky, and I relied pretty heavily on the hard work of my group.

Really, my point here is that you need to be resourceful when thinking on your feet. Don’t be too proud to call upon the help of others, as long as you give them their due credit. While this isn’t something you can necessarily learn overnight, it is at least a very accessible option for over-decisive troublemakers like myself.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

Why Our Generation is Depressed

Why Our Generation is Depressed

There are three main things that affect our emotions:

Environment is a big one, since our moods directly correspond with where we are at and our basic sensory concepts.

Events obviously have a lot to do with our mental states, as they typically reflect how we react and interact with the circumstances of our lives.

Well, I want to talk about people. How do people fit into what we’re feeling either positively or (gasp) negatively?

Depression is the topic at hand here, and I believe the onset of negative emotions in relation to people is typically chalked up to very basic suspects. Things like failed relationships and a troubled family life are usually discussed.

I want to go deeper, though! I want to address something I think a lot of new professionals like me go through once college is over and the next chapter of life takes hold. I don’t think I need to underscore how intense of a transition that can be, after all, so just bear with me.

I was a bit of an extracurricular nerd back when I was a sophomore in college. I remember being in a psychology lecture held late at night for no extra credit. It was just a special speaker talking about developmental psychology, and I’ll never forget her key anecdote that addressed the first time she went through depression.

The basic story is that a shift in her environment, moving away after college with her husband, caused her to experience a gradual rise in depression without her even realizing it. It was almost a year before she even recognized she was depressed.

Now, this example involves environment (in this case, a new one), an event (moving), and people (losing close relationships). These factors and more led to her becoming, well unhappy with her life. She talked about how she couldn’t even describe what was bothering her, but it negatively affected many aspects of her life. She couldn’t sleep well, eat right, or even find work rewarding.

I say all this because I’ve noticed to a degree that this is very common, not only because it has in fact happened to me, but also because I see it in the lives of friends I know all over the country. Obviously, the severity is varied, but this problem seems to resonate with a lot of postgrad millennials (I would love to do a study on this by the way).

We can analyze all day about why millennials are going through this. Some great theories have to do with how collective mentality is far more prominent within our demographic compared to more individualistic generations before us. That would explain why social pressures and expectations may impact us more than they probably should.

Of course, my boss would say it’s because the concept of actually working and facing tangible problems is something our generation wasn’t prepared well enough for. Few can argue with me that millennials are lazy. While we may have fantastic, creative minds, a lot of us have more trouble actually executing the work.

I certainly don’t have any concrete answers, but I do have my own experiences to call on, and I am quickly becoming more aware of what societal mood changer affects me the most. People.

One of my mentors left me with this notion many years ago: “Show me who your friends are, and I’ll either tell you who you are are or who you are going to be.” 

I’ll never admit it to him, but I’ve shaped almost every friendship according to this credence ever since he first said this to me. And it rings true. The people we surround ourselves with have a lot more to do with our emotions and mental states than we sometimes realize.

This has definitely been a beneficial concept to live by in the sense that I’ve surrounded myself with good people with fantastic ambitions and morals, but my emotional state has also been greatly impacted by these people over this past year since becoming a new professional.

 

I’m not saying my friends make me depressed or anything like that (not all of them at least), but I have found incredible data relating to my most productive, positive phases in life.

Surprisingly, the best times I’ve had this past year where I was the most driven, focused, and mentally healthy were times when I was investing my emotional energy into close relationships, especially family.

Of course, my most lethargic and scattered phases have been times when my life has basically been an episode of Dawson’s Creek. 

Without getting too personal here, I’ll conclude what seems to work for me when wrestling with these problems. If you’re not sharing your life with people and allowing others to affect your mental being positively, then you’re only letting yourself take in the negative.

It’s not the deepest statement in the world, but let’s hope that at least got you thinking.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

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