Posts tagged Public speaking
Getting More Volunteers - EZPZ Pitch Template

You've been asked to give a short talk to get coworkers to sign up or volunteer. People are overworked and under-resourced so you know this is a tall order. You also know although your coworkers may be on the fence, they are good people who want to help. This means what you say can really make a difference. The problem is, you’re running out of time and short on ideas.

One approach would be to “wing it.” A reasonable choice, given the circumstances, but you’d like to leave a little less to chance.

I was recently in this situation and luckily, found the time to prepare and come up with a format that ended up working well. So well that I resolved to use some variation of this presentation in the future for similar scenarios. Light bulb!


That’s when I realized I should make a template. The great thing about a template is it is proven to work so you can spend less time figuring out the structure and more time customizing for the specific audience.

So without further ado, here is my template. It’s just a starting point so feel free to revise and adapt as appropriate. You can also use it to develop your own different, but equally effective template.

Dislclaimer: I don’t presume to think that the specific examples I share below would work for your situation or organization. It’s more about the structure and approach. Please adopt appropriate content and ideas for your own situation.

I hope this helps you deliver the best and most persuasive presentation you can!

getting more volunteers - ezpz template

Opening - Hook ‘em by making a connection

  • A year ago I was sitting where you are sitting, wondering some of the same things you are wondering…

Engage the audience - Reel them in by making them think with a question (actual or rhetorical)

  • What’s the biggest and most common barrier for people at work to get more involved in this activity, which is outside your day job?

    Note: the answer you are looking for is TIME; let them answer and provide encouraging feedback for any and all answers

Start the persuasive process - Change their perception of the issue

  • Time, that’s right! But why do we all agree on that? Why is time so important? What is the significance of this time?

    Note: let them answer and provide encouraging feedback

  • The reason we all value time is not for the sake of the time itself, it’s because how we spend our time affects our opportunities. If we are doing x, we are not doing y.

Show them something new - Change their worldview

  • So if opportunity is the goal, how can we create more opportunities if our time is limited?

  • You create more opportunities by providing value.

  • The value you provide while at your desk is crucial, but limited. It’s limited to the people you normally come into contact with, the departments you need to work with, and often a single line of leadership.

Show them a solution - Align what you are proposing with their best interests

  • One opportunity I was looking for last year was x.

  • By doing this activity, I discovered numerous opportunities that I otherwise would not have had access to (you can use other people as examples, too):

    • Example 1, 2, 3, etc…

Close with a call to action - Provide encouragement and remind them of the value of taking action

  • In closing, I encourage you to join x!

  • Remember, you create opportunities by providing value.

  • And in the end, the time pays for itself!

Bonus tip: If this template doesn’t work for you or if the topic of your presentation is totally different, you can accomplish the same thing by finding an example of a talk online that did what you want to do amazingly. Watch it over and over and pull out fundamental ideas to power your presentation. Inspiration and imitation are great forms of flattery!

If you have any questions or comments or have a story of your own, I'd love to hear from you.

Next post next Saturday, 6:30 a.m.

How to Ace a Panel Discussion


When you think about most panel discussions what type of panelists do you picture? If your answer is like most, you'll probably say more senior, higher level panelists. This makes a certain amount of sense because the audience wants to learn from the experience of the panel.

However, there is one potential drawback. Last time I checked, my daily experience is a lot different than that of most, C-Suite executives or Partners. Nothing against them, but it can be hard to connect with their experience when it feels so far removed from my own. And truth be told, sometimes they have a hard time connecting and remembering what it was like on the way up.

At a recent panel on Leadership that I moderated, we intentionally selected more everyday employees. Accomplished and experienced for sure, but at more typical levels like manager and below.

Our panelists were less accustomed to presenting to a room full of 100 peers so we coached them all along the way. One piece of advice that they all seemed to take to heart and benefit from was how to make a tasty presentation sandwich.


You know when someone goes to get an award and trips and stumbles? That will challenge even the most poised professional in the following moments. So to help avoid tripping over your first few words, my advice is to nail down your first sentence. Hard. Don't just wing it. Figure out the words of your first sentence and repeat them out loud until they are tattooed on your mind. This gives you the poise and confidence for all that follows = the tasty middle of your sandwich.

Likewise, you should nail down your last words. Ever have an amazing meal and during your last bite it is ruined by a bad taste, off-putting comment or horrible smell? What do you remember? The 99% good or the final 1% horrible? So make a good first and last impression = top and bottom pieces of bread.

If you do this, you will end up serving the audience a tasty presentation sandwich. Good luck! 


By the way, our panelists were all amazing and we had great interaction from the audience. Not bad for their first time out and something for them to build on.

Next post next Saturday, 6:30 a.m.


Public Speaking Gems

You know when you go into a situation expecting to get one thing, but instead you get something totally unexpected and much better?

Several years ago I attended a training on Public Speaking. The instructor, I'll call him Tom, was amazing and he subsequently went to work for the NBA to coach executives. By the end of the training, I had learned so much, but practically speaking my public speaking had not significantly improved in 1 day.


However, Tom imparted one truly valuable gift to me - he opened my eyes to the realization that there are many hidden principles that create a great presentation. To the uninitiated (like myself), you can feel these principles working, but you don't know what they are or why. For example, we did an exercise where we practiced eye contact and how to engage different-sized audiences by paying attention to eye contact. Have you ever been in an audience and had a strong feeling, for just a few moments, that the speaker was talking directly to you? How did that make you feel? And how did it affect your experience of the presentation?

Ever since that presentation, I took a new approach to observing public speakers. If you are looking at something through a new lens, it's amazing what you can perceive. So many of the things that matter are not the obvious ones. For example, having beautiful slides and transitions does NOT make you a great speaker. Let me repeat that more succinctly. Slides don't matter. YOU matter.

It was in this spirit that I was excited to speak to David McGimpsey, a friend who makes a living training people to improve their public speaking game. Below are a few of the gems I picked up from David during our conversation and in reflection afterwards.


People seriously underestimate the need to prepare for a presentation.

  • Even if you know the content cold, you still need to prepare for the audience type, the room setup, the length of time, etc.
  • The ease with which the presentation is seemingly delivered is inversely proportional to the amount of preparation.
  • The key to a great delivery is knowing very deeply what you are talking about.

Open loops

One way to draw people into your presentation and create engagement is to use an open loop.

  • An open loop is a question or thought that is not completed. In addition to speakers, others such as authors, comedians, and sales copy writers use this to great effect.
  • Some common examples: "I have a confession to make," or "The little known secret that will deliver X."
  • Can you name the movie these first lines come from? Bonus points if you can without using a search engine.
"Somebody's pulling me close to the ground... I can sense, but I can't see. I ain't panicked. I've been here before. Same as I got popped on 104th street. Don't take me to no hospital, please."

Evolution not a Revolution

In regards to very funny or memorable speakers, this brilliance is often built bit by bit.

  • Sometimes in a previous presentation and perhaps quite by accident, something you do or say will get a positive reaction.
  • Great speakers are sensitive to this feedback, remember this and build on it for the next time.
  • It reminds me of a high-level athlete. We picture them on a field or court in all their winning glory and don't dwell on the hours toiling in relative obscurity.

Thanks David for your insights, your reminders, and your inspiration to help me and others improve our presentation skills.

If you'd like to hear the entire conversation with David, you can find the podcast on iTunes here or in the "Podcast" area of my blog EZPZ.

Next post next Saturday, 6:30 a.m.