Presentation Skills and Media Training That Honor the Audience and Sharpen Your Marketing Message

“According to most studies, people’s Number One fear is public speaking. Number Two is death. That means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
– John Steinbeck, novelist

I’d like to thank a senior government bureaucrat for motivating me recently to do something I should have done years ago — add speech and presentation training to my offerings. As she stumbled through one image after another in a room darkened so that a bunch of breakfasting consultants could “see” a dense Power Point show with often unreadable slides, I asked myself: “What is her message? What does she want us to take away from her time with us? Why am I here?”

Effective presentations start with the same ingredients as effective writing: Know and communicate directly to the audience and their needs; strive to edify, not impress, in clear and concise language; and edit yourself — or rehearse, in the case of speaking.

A brief word about audience, whether they’re readers or listeners. If you’re communicating with, for instance, consultants, ask yourself: “How can I make my content useful to them? What specifically would they like to learn from our encounter to help them attract and keep clients?”

Answer those questions and you’ll be far less likely to stand up there — or tap away at the keyboard — trying to impress everyone with how much you know. And if you can avoid being so verbose that they’re glancing at their watches, you’re bound to get some provocative questions. In other words, you and your audience will connect.

Media Relations Training

“Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once.”
– Cyril Connolly, English writer

Learning to deal with the press constructively need not be limited to traditional definitions of news. Some realistic role-playing in a training setting can, in fact, help you frame and sharpen your message for commercial purposes.

That’s where I can be of assistance. As a former newspaper and magazine reporter, I like to know how things work and what sets them apart. Then I pass on what I’ve learned in succinct prose, as Connolly noted.

Let me explain. A couple years ago, a clever nurse in Maine came up with a blend of four aromatic oils that she said eased the nausea of first-trimester pregnancy, chemotherapy and motion sickness. To help with marketing, I put her through the sorts of questions a reporter for the business section of a newspaper or magazine might ask. Then I wrote an article about her “aromatherapy,” which we discussed in detail for lessons learned.

The result? She and her marketing and investment associates came out of the exercise with a much clearer view of how the public would perceive their unusual product. The questions I asked were born of healthy skepticism, and she said she planned to adjust her pitch accordingly.

PowerPoint Presentations Are Great, But Are You Engaging Your Audience?

Getting an audience interested in your presentation is a challenge. No matter the technology used, whether it’s a PowerPoint, whiteboard, graphs, or other visual aids, it’s your delivery, preparation, or lack of it that will impinge on your performance.

The Buzz Is In The Telling

If you’ve been to a lot of seminars or webinars, you can count in your one hand the few which stood out. Ask yourself what you liked about those gigs. Probably these are the highlights:

1. Good presentation material.

2. Good reporting.

3. Great speakers.

4. Lively participants.

On hindsight, you’ll realize that what made the activity outstanding was your active participation in almost all activities. You asked a lot of questions and were satisfied with the answers, and you probably liked what you saw in almost all the PowerPoint presentations.

But it’s not actually the PowerPoint presentations that were interesting, it was what you understood. You learned something from the discussion, while PowerPoint only served as a visual aid. You were an active participant like the others. Nobody was ready to rush to the door. People wanted to know more and discuss more.

You got the point that the successful presentation was in the manner of showing the ideas and talking about them. The approach was able to draw out or engage the participants. Some of them remember the discussion and not the PowerPoint presentations at all.

Repetition and Anecdotes Count

You’ve observed that the speaker made the participants at ease. He didn’t have to crack lousy jokes. Simply asking how the people were feeling or if they were ready for the next round of discussion stirred people to action.

The speaker (already introduced) starts by telling the audience what he is going to discuss. During his discussion, he guides the audience by telling them that he is now ready to launch on the second or third or last part of his presentation. All the while, he invites people to ask questions.

He repeats what he has said as if driving the idea and embedding it into their minds. He does not only tell, but shows how things are done. To find out if people are on his wavelength, he asks questions, not only to test their comprehension, but to gauge the level of the audience interest as well. He is following the outlined course of his discussion, but makes sure that before launching the next step, his audience learned something.

He injeced stories and parables to his repertoire, or provided analogies. These are subtle techniques used to repeat his theme and objective. At this extent, he has already grasped the group dynamics and responded accordingly.

Make Your Report Dynamic

It does not mean you don’t have to spruce up your PowerPoint presentations. Don’t make the mistake of cramming all the content in your slides. Your slide should serve as a clue to what you are going to elaborate. Remember the guy who read his slides without making eye contact with the audience? He was a bore.

Make an outline of your PowerPoint presentations while never losing sight of your objective. Guided by your plan and your thorough preparation (even a dry run to get an estimate of how long you’re going to present your ideas), you can be confident to engage your audience.

How to Avoid the Pain of Negotiating Real Estate Commissions

If you’re a home seller doing your homework, you will discover that the largest home selling expense you will have is the commission.

The cost will probably shock you!

The good news is that all commissions are negotiable.

But have you ever tried to negotiate a commission with an agent?

Go ahead. Try it.

Here are some of the responses you’ll get:


“You get what you pay for”

“If an agent can’t negotiate their own commission then how can they negotiate for you?

“If you negotiate a lower commission, then the agent has no incentive to work”

“Paying a lower commission is penny wise and pound foolish.”

And there are at least a dozen more things a real estate agent might say to discourage you from negotiating a lower commission.

You see, traditional brokers have trained their agents to give these responses to home sellers who want to negotiate the commission. Agents take classes and read books to learn how to defend their commission.

Now, there’s a very good reason agents give home sellers a hard time about a commission reduction. And it has nothing to do with any truth behind their statements.

Truth be told, most agents who work for large brokerage companies simply DO NOT have the authority to negotiate the commission.

Here’s why…

Although commissions are by law negotiable and are not fixed, real estate companies are allowed to set the commission rate for their own companies. Any agent working for the company must adhere to the commission plan set by their broker.

In order for a real estate agent to charge anything less than the commission rate set by the broker, they would have to have their broker’s permission AND the circumstances would have to be extraordinary.


So, how do you go around this problem and avoid the pain of negotiating with a real estate agent?


Seek out an independent broker. An independent broker is an individual who runs and operates their own real estate company.

Independent brokers often run small companies without the high overhead associated with running a large company. Business 101 tells us that a company must charge fees that are high enough to cover their overhead costs plus enough to make a profit. High overhead = high fees.

Here’s another reason…

Independent real estate brokers have the authority and ability to act as both the broker and the listing agent. In essence, they eliminate the need to allocate a part of the commission to the listing agent. It’s like buying your real estate services wholesale.

Because of this, independent brokers have more flexibility with the fees they charge and are able to tailor their fees to suit your needs.

You can avoid the pain of trying to negotiate a commission with a traditional real estate agent by simply choosing to do business with a smaller company owned and operated by an independent real estate broker.