Friday, May 26, 2017

Practice makes perfect, especially in front of an audience

By: Cole Buergi, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

I was listening to a presentation recently about a topic that wasn’t that overly interesting, yet I found myself compelled to listen to what was being said. On my way back to the office following the presentation, I thought about why I was so intent on listening to the speaker.

Upon reflection, it truly boiled down to the presenter’s style, the appropriate use of inflection in his voice and how he had a strong sense of conviction in his message. I thought others could use some tips on how to be a better presenter.

It’s always good to have an interesting topic to share but, if you don’t, you still can capture your audience with some simple techniques:

Practice, practice, practice…
Practicing a speech in advance not only builds confidence but allows you to memorize more of what you’re going to say, preventing the need to rely heavily on note cards, if at all. It also allows you to fine tune your messaging and identify natural transitions on topics.

Speak clearly…
Pronounce your words clearly and speak at a level so that everyone listening can hear. Practice using inflection in your voice so that you don’t come off as monotone and boring.

Avoid filling silence with the speech killing ums and ahhs…
We’ve all this done and, yes, I’m guilty of it even today, albeit I actively try not to. Don’t believe me, truly listen to how a good speaker is speaking and you’ll notice that he or she seldom, if ever, says, “um” or “ah” as a pause in their speech in preparation for what they are about to say next. Television and radio news anchors are especially good at it.

Use hands and body gestures…
Don’t just stand with your hands in your pockets or by your side. Just like when you use photos and video in PowerPoint to capture the audience, use your hands, arms and body to help maintain their attention.

Finally, look at your audience…
They are not there to look at the top of your head while you look down at a podium and read off a script. Making eye contact with your listeners builds rapport and shows that you’re confident in what you’re saying.

Following these simple tips will make you a much better speaker and one who people will want to hear.

Do you give speeches regularly? Feel free to share tips you use to be successful.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

4 tips to making an effective online video

By: Noelle Cutler, Social Media Manager, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

In 2015, users spent 100 million hours viewing videos on Facebook. If you think that’s a lot, you might be in store for more shock in the near future; some predict that video will account for over 80% of all internet traffic by 2019.

So video is and will continue be, a big deal. Whether it’s on Facebook or other platforms, the audience is there, and so is the potential to tell your brand’s story in a powerful way. Here are four tips to tell your story effectively through video:

  1. Keep it short. You’ve heard it said that the attention span of humans is about seven seconds long, which is shorter than a goldfish’s attention span. Whether that exact statistic is accurate, the truth is we’re busy people and even the best-intentioned of us don’t always have the time or brain-space to devote to a long video. Best rule of thumb: keep your video between 1-3 minutes.
  2. Don’t make sound a necessity. Not everyone enjoys that catchy music or detailed narration in the background of your video. Plus not everyone wants to subject the people around them to that audio. Don’t penalize the hearing-impaired or the viewers who don’t use audio; create the video in a way that makes it just as fun and informative with or without sound.
  3. Be visual. This may seem like a no-brainer if you’re making a video, but it’s not as easy as you think. You may be tempted to just use a talking head for the entire length of your video, but you’ll end up with a video that isn’t visually compelling.
  4. End it on the right note. What’s the point of your video? Ask yourself this question and make sure you drive home the answer at the end of the video. The purpose of your video is oftentimes to get viewers to take action, like visiting your website store or donating to your cause. Motivate the viewer to take these actions with strong messaging and easy to follow instructions.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Media Interview Tips

By: Jim McShea, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

You’ve done it. A story you’ve pitched has generated interest from a media outlet, and the reporter is on their way over for an interview. Now you must make sure you can express your message clearly, and succinctly.

Here are some tips that can help: 
  • Articulate your message. You’re not there to just answer questions, you’re there to get your message across. Once you determine your message, stick with it, and work it into your responses to the reporter’s questions.
  • Keep your answers short and concise. Your interview may take a while, but for a typical story, reporters are looking for soundbites that run between 10 and 20 seconds.
  • Try not to talk too fast or ramble.  Keep your audience in mind by speaking in familiar terms. Avoid technical jargon. 
  • Never assume that the reporter knows what you’re talking about. Though they are trained professionals, they are not necessarily experts on all that they cover. Many times, they rely on the interview that you are giving for facts and commentary. Depending on the medium, reporters can have anywhere from several weeks to only a few hours to research stories. Take the time to make sure a reporter understands what you’re saying.
  • Don’t speculate. Your credibility depends on accuracy. If you don’t know an answer, say so. Offer to research the answer and make sure to follow up.

Before your interview, there are a few things to keep in mind: make sure to practice your responses ahead of time. Practicing will allow you to fine tune your message and become comfortable with your answers. If you’re taking part in an interview for television, make sure to concentrate on the interviewer, not the camera. Also, maintain eye contact with the interviewer and smile, if appropriate. Look your best and choose your outfit wisely. Avoid multiple patterns (such as stripes or checkers), or colors since cameras can render them oddly.

Most importantly, believe in yourself! If you need to ask someone for advice beforehand, great, but when the interview begins, you’re on your own.