Monthly Archives: April 2013

Grow Your Presentation Skills with 4A Approach

Experienced presenters, and those who have taken presentation skills training, use the 4 A Approach for structuring opening remarks. This article will give an overview of the 4 A approach by explaining each element and how to use it in a professional presentation. The 4 A’s stand for Audience Hook, Answer, Agenda and Action Request. Together they provide an invaluable tool to logically frame remarks for your listeners. Read on to learn more or visit  and our partner site for free learning tools.


Audience Hook

The Audience Hook is designed to engage your listeners by tapping into WHY they would want to sit through your remarks. This portion of your presentation needs to hook into pain or pleasure – specifically pain the listener is experiencing or pleasure they would enjoy. Now in a work context the pain might be a tough problem that needs resolution, whereas the pleasure might be improved confidence in a skill set. Either way, the trick is to use an engagement device such as a question, a statistic, or a story to hook the audience into listening. For example you might ask “Have any of you ever been caught off guard by negative comments during your annual performance review? Have you ever worried that your job might be at risk due to poor communication with your boss?”.



Once you’ve hooked the audience, now you need to let them know the answer to their problem – and why you’re just the person to reveal it. The Answer section of your remarks is the time to reveal your solution, your name, and your credentials. For example, you might say “Today we’ll be discussing how to ensure open dialogue between you and your boss to ensure there are never any year-end surprises. My name is Suzanne Guthrie and I am a master consultant in communication skills and conflict resolution. Over the past 10 years I have consulted with dozens of organizations including Fortune 500 companies on workplace communications and published numerous articles on how to avoid communication screw ups at work”.  Read on to learn more or visit and our partner site for free learning tools.



Now that you’ve established you have a solution (and the street cred to back it up), it’s time to give more details of your agenda for the rest of the presentation. We recommend that you use a three point approach to your agenda to help your audience remember key words. The three agenda items should related to the overall solution and provide a framework for your consequent remarks. For example, our speaker might say:

“During the course of the next hour we’ll look at three essential aspects of workplace communications so that you’ll never be caught off guard again:
1 – Timeliness
2 – Transparency
3 – Totality”


Audience Takeaway

Once you’ve revealed the agenda you need to highlight explicitly why this will help your audience. This is time to reinforce what’s in it for them (the audience) and what will they take away from your talk. Of course the audience takeaway ties back into the previous three A’s and should not be a surprise to either you the speaker or the audience. Our speaker might wrap up this 4th A saying “By the end of this session you’ll know how to use Timeliness, Transparency and Totality of workplace communications to ensure you have open dialogue with your boss so that you’ll never be caught off guard in important meetings again!”.



Using these four A’s provides invaluable structure and support to your remarks. It also helps listeners engage more deeply, follow your comments, and take away important learning tools. While learning this 4 A Approach takes practice and requires formal presentation skills training, it is well worth the time invested.

You can learn more about how to grow your presentation skills at or by visiting our partner site at


About the Author

Suzanne Guthrie is co-founder of Bold New Directions a transformational learning organization that offers transformational learning via Leadership Training, Communications Training, and Resilience Training Solutions. Bold New Directions, and their sister company Presentation Training Institute work with Fortune 500 companies, mid-sized firms and educational institutions to grow people and performance. Find out more about Suzanne Guthrie, Presentation Skills Training, and Bold New Directions at  or at


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Improve Presentation Skills Before, During and After Your Next Presentation

Almost all professionals are called upon to make remarks, speak up in a meeting, or provide formal presentations during the course of their career.  What makes savvy people stand out is their willingness to learn and grow their skills – over the course of their lifetime.  This article outlines what a smart professional does, Before, During and After each and every presentation to continually improve their skills!


Before Your Presentation


As soon as you learn of the opportunity to speak, it’s time to do a quick assessment of your audience.  Ask yourself what your audience already knows about the subject and what they hope to learn.  Who are they and what type of communication style do they have?  Do they need information delivered in short bullet-like chunks, or do they need more relationship building, or time to digest extra detail.  You also need to ensure you have the answer to this question:  What’s In It For Them To Listen?  Make sure you know the bottom line message and its value to your audience BEFORE you start your remarks!   Learn more about boosting your presentation skills with onsite training at  & 




During Your Presentation


During your presentation you want to keep abreast of the energy in the room.  This is most easily done if your remarks are well organized and you can focus on your audience.  Make eye contact with all those you can see during the presentation. If you’re in a large room, move your eye contact around every few seconds to areas of the room you can’t see.  Involve everyone by varying your eye contact frequently.    Use gestures to emphasize key points and constantly bring your remarks back around to your theme.  Keep in mind that everything you say during your presentation needs to relate back to the bottom line message (and what’s in it for your audience) that you announced at the start. Learn more about presentation skills training at  or at 




After Your Presentation


Summarize your remarks powerfully by mentioning key points again, and tying them into your conclusion.  Provide an action request so that participants know what they can do after the presentation to take next steps.  Answer questions in the group or in individual conversations and always let people know how to get in touch with you should questions arise later.  Make sure to maintain your professional poise even once you have left the stage as the audience’s eyes will still be on you!  Once you’ve left the presentation room take stock of what went well and what you will improve next time!  If nervousness was a problem for you try out tips to master your nerves at  before your next speaking event.   This may also be the time to consider formal presentation skills training to take your skills to a whole new level.  Learn more about presentation skills training at  or at 




By applying these steps Before, During and After all your upcoming presentations you will grow your skills, your confidence and your credibility.  Over the course of your professional career, your comfort in providing formal presentations, casual talks and impromptu remarks will soar!  Learn more about presentation skills training at  or at 




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5P’s of Voice Training & Presentation Skills


Voice is a powerful tool for presenters. Voice can make all the difference between success and failure when you’re aiming to engage your audience. In sales meetings, company updates or technical meetings, it is critical to keep your audience involved and interested in your remarks. Learn how to stretch your presentation skills by utilizing the 5 P’s of Voice Control including Pitch, Pace, Pause, Projection & Personality.



Pitch refers to the ups and downs of your notes when you speak. We all have the ability to speak from a vocal range – which includes higher notes and lower notes. However, it takes great awareness and practice to notice your own pitch and to change it consciously. Why is pitch important? A monotone voice bores the audience and a bored audience is less likely to recall your key points or to take action. To play around with pitch try thinking of popular characters who have voices at either end of the vocal range then practice speaking (or singing!) like them. For example you might think of Michael Jackson’s high pitched voice and then compare it with Barry White’s deeper tones. You can also simulate the voices of movie actors to start expanding your own range. Over time your awareness and practice with pitch will enable you to vary your voice as you speak – all in the aim of drawing your audience into your remarks. Now that we’ve looked at Pitch, let’s move on to Pace. Or, if you want additional information on how to hone your presentation skills visit our website to get a free copy of our report on how to Master Your Presentation Skills at or at



Pace refers to the speed at which you speak. Just as monotone is boring so is mono-pace. A good speaker knows the value of changing the pace as they speak. For example, when you are introducing a topic that is exciting you can speed up the pace of your voice. On the other hand, when you want people to focus their attention you may slow down for emphasis. The overall point is that variation is the key to success in presentation skills. So play around with your pace next time you speak to see the impact on your audience. Now that we have explored Pace we will move on to look at Pause.



Pause involves stopping momentarily for effect in the middle of your remarks. It is a tool that is used hand in hand with variation of Pace. A pause is best used before or after a significant point as a tool for emphasis. Pause is also a tremendous tool for nervous speakers who tend to speak too fast. By stopping at key points, the speaker allows the audience time to process key points before moving on to new material. One easy trick is to underline key points in your notes and then place the word PAUSE in large letters to remind you to stop speaking for a few seconds. Actively playing with pause will have a profound effect on your presentation skills and presentation prowess. Now that we have covered Pause let’s move on to the powerful tool of Projection.  Or, if you want additional information on how to hone your presentation skills visit our website to get a free copy of our report on how to Master Your Presentation Skills at or at



This aspect of voice is by far the most important as it correlates to your audience’s ability to hear your remarks. Even the most intelligent presenter can not have their desired impact if the people in the room can not hear their key points. With projection, everyone can hear your comments without having to strain their voice. However, there is still value in varying your projection to add intrigue and interest to your comments. For example, you might want to soften your voice to emphasize a key point and then later increase the volume for another point. In either case you must ensure that all members of the audience can hear each and every point. Practice projecting your voice by imagining that everyone is sitting against the far wall in the room. Ensure they can hear you and that you are speaking from your diaphragm. Now that we have discussed Projection let’s take a look at Personality.



Personality refers to the color, warmth and meaning that comes from hearing your voice. The personality of your voice will dictate if people are “turned on” or “turned off” when listening to you. Certainly adjusting the pitch and volume will help the quality of your voice. Adding emotion will give your voice color and warmth. So too will a smile which softens and warms up the vocal tones that people hear. Personality can vary from passionate, to bored, to serious, to light. What personality are you going for when you speak on a given topic? Give it some thought and choose a word that captures the tone you want your voice to convey. Write that word at the top of your notes so that you consciously strive to embue your voice with the personality that will help you make the most impact.


Using the 5Ps of Vocal Control Boosts Presentation Skills

When you’re just starting out you may want to focus on one P at a time then add in more until you are able to stretch your voice to reveal all 5 P’s in a given presentation. By playing around with each aspect of vocal control you can imbue your voice with interest, warmth, and personality! Utilize each of the P’s, including Pitch, Pace, Pause, Projection & Personality to actively engage your audience and keep them wanting more. If you want additional information on how to hone your presentation skills visit our website and download a free report on how to Master Your Presentation Skills at or at



About the Author:

Suzanne Guthrie is co-founder of the Presentation Training Institute, a division of Bold New Directions Training.  They specialize in presentation skills training for professionals and executives.  You can learn more about Suzanne and presentation skills training programs at or at

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Improve Presentation Skills with Solutions For Listeners



Generally speaking, professionals in your workplace are busy people. More to the point, they have limited time and interest in other people’s problems. However, they do possess an unwavering interest in their own lives and predicaments. That said; if you want to engage an audience you need to identify the problem faced by your listeners and then go on to SOLVE it. Moreover, you want to impress upon them that they can solve their own predicament by listening to your presentation.   


Solution focused speaking is an important tool in your communication tool box. By highlighting the pain or dilemma your listeners face you can then let them know that your presentation will provide key tools to assist them in resolving their own issue. One way to share your solution and how it applies to your listener is to outline your experience and how it applies to the audience by using the W4H1 Approach. This W4H1 approach has long been used by writers to convey information in a concise and organized manner. It involves utilizing a five-pronged explanatory approach by asking and answering five questions; these questions start with either a “W” or an “H”. For example, look at questions that start with: What? Where? When? Why & How? This combination of five helps you to provide a concise overview of your own experience. If you need more resources to get started you can learn more about presentation skills and presentation skills training courses at or at



For example, let’s say that you were talking to a group of professionals who were concerned about upcoming layoffs. After first tapping into the pain and anguish this is undoubtedly producing in a group of staff, you could discuss how you successfully prepared for and transitioned through a lay off experience by starting your own consulting business. Let’s look at the W4H1 approach and how it would apply to this example of starting a consulting business. Notice that the questions are also written in an audience focused manner by dealing with what THEY can do, rather than a pure history of what YOU yourself did.


– What Can You Do?


– Where Can You Find Customers?


– When Should You Start Your Business?


– Why Promote Your Services?


– How Can You Promote Your Services?



By answering each of these questions in a clear and concise manner you are directing your audience to solution oriented steps that they can take to resolve their issue. Your audience will thank you for not only connecting with their dilemma, but for explicitly helping them to understand a solution and take action!  Still not sure how to get started?  Visit us at or at for more tips and tools.



For more information on how to communicate with your audience visit our website at where you will learn about presentation skills training, business communication seminars, and presentation skills intensives.  You can learn more about improving your presentation skills independently by checking out our free report available at or at



About The Author:

Suzanne Guthrie is a warm and engaging facilitator, speaker and coach. She is also the Director of Learning at Bold New Directions, a global training company that partners with Fortune 500 organizations to transform people and performance. Bold New Directions specializes in three critical areas of professional success: Leadership Skills, Communication Skills and Resilience Skills. Suzanne has delivered powerful training seminars from Boston to Brazil and is a sought after speaker on communication and presentation skills training.  To learn more Suzanne or presentation skills training courses visit or at





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Develop Your Presentation Skills From Beginning To End

There are three important elements to every presentation; the beginning, the middle and the end.  Most of us spend a lot of time on the meat and potatoes of our presentation which tends to become the middle of the entire session.  In professional presentation skills training courses, you will learn about how to create a winning beginning and end that increase your impact dramatically.


The beginning of your talk or presentation is an opportunity to hook the audience.  This equates to a level of engagement that keeps them listening attentively to the rest of your remarks.  The hook can be any number of strategies but here are top choices that are most persuasive: a statistic, a question, an anecdote, a number or a fact.  Try combining two or three hooks together to draw in your listeners by illustrating a dilemma or problem they face. Then once they’re hooked follow up with how your presentation will solve the dilemma they face; this is often known as the solution.  The beginning is also a great time to share your credentials and why you are an expert on your presentation topic. Use the beginning to identify the 3 core elements of your presentation to alert listeners to what they’ll learn in the middle.  And of course use the beginning to explicitly identify what the listener will gain by sitting through the entire talk.  You can learn more about presentation skills and presentation skills training courses at or at


The middle of the presentation is where you share the bulk of your remarks.  Keep the middle organized by using three key points, as introduced in your beginning.  Remember to expand on each point and talk in an open relaxed manner but always bring your remarks back to the overall theme or solution that you introduced in the beginning.  The middle can be expanded in length to suit the situation but should always be clear and focused on your overall solution or theme. Learn more about how to format the middle section of your presentation at or by visiting us at



The end is the time to tie all your remarks back to your original purpose. What was the hook you shared at the beginning?  Now is a good time to mention it again to remind listeners how you started the session.  Also take time to revisit the theme and the three key elements that you discussed.  Overall, the end is the time to highlight how your session not only provided a solution to the dilemma faced by the group, but how your key points all contributed to a great take-away gained by those who attended.  You can learn more about presentation skills and presentation skills training courses at or at



All in all, a good beginning and ending can serve as valuable bookends which add immeasurably to your presentation skills and public speaking skills!  Learn more about how to master your presentation skills by requesting a copy of our Free Report on Presentation Skills at or at



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