A fashion tip for women speakers

When it comes to giving fashion advice, I am on thin ice. When it comes to giving fashion advice to women, I have fallen through the ice and am flailing about waiting to be rescued. But on one point, I am firmly on solid ground.

If a woman is going to speak and she knows that she will have to use a microphone, it is important that she find out what kind of microphone it will be. There are four kinds:

    • The microphone that is mounted on the lectern
    • The handheld microphone
    • The lapel / lavalier / clip-on microphone
    • The headset microphone

For mounted and handheld microphones, I have no fashion advice for women whatsoever. But, for lapel and headset microphones, I do have an important tip.

Lapel and headset microphones are increasingly the most common types of microphones used at conference and other events. In the images below, Christine Lagarde and Marissa Mayer are speaking with headsets. Sheryl Sandberg is speaking with a lapel microphone.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

Headsets and lapel microphones each have a wire that connects the microphone to a battery pack. Battery packs are the size of a small but chunky cell phone. And they have to be clipped to the speaker’s clothing.

For men, it is straightforward. Run the wire inside the shirt or jacket and clip the battery pack on the belt in the back. I’ve done it hundreds of times.

For women, things can be more complicated. Many women speak while wearing a dress. The dress itself is usually appropriate and professional; the problem is that, often, there is no good place to attach the battery pack. I have been behind stage with other speakers and have witnessed tech people struggling mightily (and delicately!) to help women find a place where they could attach the battery pack. In some cases, the women had to resort to dropping the battery pack down the front of their dress and clipping it to their bra.

Thus, if you are a woman and you are going to speak at an event, find out beforehand if there will be a microphone and, if so, what kind. If it is going to be a lapel or headset microphone, be sure to wear something that will make your life easier when it comes to wearing the microphone and battery pack. Otherwise, you might find yourself in the same situation in which Northern Irish broadcaster Christine Lampard (née Bleakley) once found herself!

Posted in Logistics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 297) – Seneca

Seneca the Younger (4 BC – AD 65) Roman Stoic Philosopher

“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent. No one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.”

—  Seneca

Photo courtesy of Jean-Pol Grandmont / Wikimedia
Posted in Quotes for Public Speakers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Lessons from the edge of a cliff … without a rope!

PG LogoI am one of the co-founders of Presentation Guru, a digital magazine for public speaking professionalsThis post is part of a series designed to share the great content on Presentation Guru with the Manner of Speaking community.

———

On 3 June 2017, professional rock climber Alex Honnold accomplished something that few people thought could be done. He climbed the 3,000-foot granite wall of Yosemite Park’s famous El Capitan — the 900-metre wall of granite in the image below — alone and without ropes.

To get a small sense of the adrenalin rush that comes with such an epic achievement, check out the trailer for the documentary about Honnold’s exploit.

Most of us, if not all of us, will never attempt something like this. And yet, there is much that we can learn from it.

In April 2018, Honnold spoke at the TED Conference in Vancouver to share his insights about the climb. As I listened to him, it occurred to me that there are valuable lessons for speakers from his free solo of El Capitan. To see Honnold’s TED Talk and to learn what those lessons are, please visit Presentation Guru and read my post using this link.

Posted in Presentation Guru, TED | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quotes for Public Speakers (No. 296) – Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem – American Feminist, Journalist and Political Activist

“I think the most obvious real fear I had was of public speaking. That really paralyzed me. I’d have to cancel appearances at the last minute because if I tried to do them, I’d lose all my saliva and each tooth would acquire a little sweater.

“I didn’t begin to speak in public until I was at least in my mid-thirties or maybe even my late thirties. I suppose I’d chosen to write as a way of expressing myself partly so I didn’t have to speak. It was only the beginning of the Women’s Movement and the impossibility of getting articles about it published that caused me to go out and speak publicly. Even then I couldn’t do it by myself, which is why I asked my friend Dorothy [Pitman Hughes, child expert and activist] to speak with me. For that first decade, I almost always spoke with her and one of two or three other partners.

“[Eventually] I discovered that you didn’t die, and that something happened when you were speaking in a room that could not happen on the printed page.”

—  Gloria Steinem (from an interview with Maria Shriver)

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Posted in Quotes for Public Speakers | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

6 tips for handling a remote when presenting

If you use slides in your presentations, whether PowerPoint, Keynote or some other software, you must become comfortable using a remote to advance those slides. The alternatives are not great:

1.  Standing by the computer the entire presentation and advancing the slides using the keyboard.

2.  Walking back and forth between the computer and the rest of the speaking area whenever you want to advance the slides.

3. Having someone advance the slides for you. This is the most annoying for the audience because your presentation will inevitably be punctuated by you saying, “Next slide … next slide … next slide.” It’s like driving down a country road and hitting a bump every 100 metres.

Using a remote will unchain you from your computer, allow you to move about the stage and interact with the audience, and add an air of professionalism to your presentations. But if you’re going to use a remote, you have to handle it properly.

Too often, I see speakers who have not had much practice with a remote. It’s obvious. The following are telltale signs:

  • squeezing the remote tightly;
  • fumbling with the buttons;
  • clicking the wrong button;
  • looking at the remote before every click;
  • accidentally closing the presentation;
  • using the pointer / laser awkwardly;
  • clicking dramatically at the computer as if the remote were a sword. 

(The last one is my favourite. It always reminds me of this classic scene from the movie The Princess Bride.)

It’s completely understandable that if you don’t know how to use a piece of equipment, there’s a good chance that you will use it incorrectly. So what can we do to remedy the situation? Here are five tips:

1.  Practice! Get familiar with your remote before the presentation. Try out all of the buttons to see what they do.

2.  Determine which buttons you will need for the presentation. Usually, a speaker does not need all of them. In fact, in most cases, the speaker will only use the button to advance the slides. Practice finding the needed buttons with your thumb without having to look for them. One of the features that I like about my Logitech Spotlight remote is that the Advance button is larger than the other two buttons and slightly recessed so it is easy to find it by touch.

3.  Don’t squeeze the remote as if you were hanging onto the edge of a cliff. Hold it comfortably. With practice, you will find that you can even gesture with the hand that is holding the remote. The images below (from Logitech’s Spotlight website) are good examples of how to hold the remote.

4.  Use the pointer / laser sparingly, if at all, and never use it on text. If you have to use a laser on text, you have too much text! When using the laser, there is no need to extend your arm fully as you point. It will reach the screen just fine. And try to keep the laser as steady as possible. If you move it across the screen, try to do so smoothly.

5.  When advancing the slides, do not point at the computer. Remotes these days have an incredible range. My Logitech Spotlight works at a distance of 50 metres from the computer. I have tested it. I have also gone outside the room, closed the door and it still works. So when advancing your slides, don’t make any gesture at all. You can leave your hand by your side and discreetly push the button while you continue to speak. The less obvious the remote, the better.

6.  If you are going to spend an extended amount of time talking about a slide, or if you turn the screen black, you can put the remote in your pocket or on a nearby table for a while to allow you to use both hands. Just remember where you put it!

So there you have it. Six tips to help you master the remote during your next presentation.

If you are thinking of purchasing a remote, be sure to choose one that feels right for you. As mentioned above, I use the Logitech Spotlight, but there are other excellent options. If you head over to Presentation Guru and check out this excellent article, you will find a great summary of the features to look for and three great recommendations.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments