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Skip The Slides For Your Next Presentation

The next time you’re putting together a set of slides for your presentation, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Then, an all likelihood, stop making slides.

How To Eliminate 'Um' From Your Speech Forever [Infographic]

Even if you’re confident about what you are saying, filler words like “Um” can creep in and make you sound unsure. A bunch of them in a row make you sound like a slack-jawed cretin. If you want to get a handle on them, this quick reference chart has a ton of handy tips.

Dictater Adds Useful Controls To OS X's Speech Services

Mac: OS X’s Speech services do a fine job of reading the text on your screen aloud, but they lack much in the way of control. Dictater is a free bit of software that adds all kinds of useful features.

Become More Convincing By Using Image-Based Words

When you want to persuade someone, using certain words to tell a story can help sway them. Next time you’re trying to convince someone, use words that help them see a clear picture of your point.

Use a Sandwich or Coffee to Give Thoughtful Answers

Web Worker Daily lets a chief web builder at HP.com tell a rare story—one of senior management leaving a meeting with his workers still respecting his answers and the consideration he gave them. His secret, strange as it might seem, was to keep his lunch sandwich nearby to immediately bite into upon being asked a question, along with a soda for quicker but still-important questions. This wouldn’t work if you’re the type to talk with your mouth full, of course, but substitute an acceptable-most-anywhere coffee or water and you’ve got a way to create needed pauses in conversation without, as the post puts it, “remaining silent for 15 seconds while staring at the ceiling.” Might be worth trying at your next performance review or uber-frustrating meeting, rather than spilling forth with under-cooked ideas. Sandwich Pause Trick When Talking to Real People [Web Worker Daily]

Tips for Asking Questions During Journalistic Interviews

If you’ve ever interviewed someone on camera, in a podcast, or in-person for an article or project and felt that it wasn’t your best interview, blogger Tom Clifford suggests questions that will keep the interview interesting and ideas that should keep the conversation going. Some questions you can ask include, “How did you get involved in this business?” or “What do you think your story tells our audience?” Keep your questions brief. Don’t interrupt. Listen to your interviewee 100%. If your “hero” says something surprising, follow their lead and ask questions based on the discovery. Ask open-ended questions that keep the person talking. Also, most importantly, if you’re meeting with the interviewee in person, create an environment that is comfortable for them and be sure to have a smile on your face. My 22 Best On-Camera Interviewing Tips [Director Tom]

Give a Presentation like Steve Jobs

BusinesssWeek gets a communication coach to analyse Steve Jobs’ latest Macworld keynote speech and pull out 10 tips that us mere mortals can apply to our own presentations. One strategy in particular seems to be what makes Jobs’ product introductions stand out from the typical “gee whiz” events: Sell the benefit. While most presenters promote product features, Jobs sells benefits. When introducing iTunes movie rentals, Jobs said, “We think there is a better way to deliver movie content to our customers … most of us watch movies once, maybe a few times. And renting is a great way to do it. It’s less expensive, doesn’t take up space on our hard drive…” Your listeners are always asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Answer the question. Don’t make them guess.

Sage advice, and also worth noting for the next time you have to pitch a software purchase to your boss. Hit the link for nine more bits of Jobs-ian advice.Photo by Roberto Garcia.

Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs [BusinessWeek via TheJobBored]

Convert Any Text to MP3s with VozMe

There’s still no getting around the fact that text-to-speech conversion doesn’t sound quite, well, human. VozMe, a free text-to-speech web app, sounds better than you’d expect for a free web service, and is pretty convenient to use. Simply paste text into a web form from any source, hit the “Create MP3” button, and you can then listen through a Flash-based player or download an MP3 for later listening. VozMe can also be embedded in web sites or used through an iGoogle gadget, and while you still won’t mistake VozMe for a friendly voice, it gets the job done with decent pronunciation, and without any two-program hacks.

VozMe [via Red Ferret Journal]

Hone Your Foreign Language Skills with Babbel

Want to hone a second language skill that’s gotten a tad bit rusty since you last used it in, say, your first year of college? Babbel, a social language training site, provides both collaborative lesson planning and discussion with a reminder service to keep you on track in your language learning. The site’s actual instruction tools aren’t up to par with a paid instructional course—you mostly learn to expand your vocabulary and pronunciation through quizzes—but the reminder functions and implied social responsibility might be just what you need to move your language learning from the “One Day” list to the “Every Day” pile. Babbel requires Flash and a free sign-up to use.

Babbel.com [via TechCrunch]

One Simple Tip for Less Awkward Conversations

The Positivity Blog says there’s a simple but forgotten method of building rapport, or establishing a good connection, before you start off on any important conversation: Just before the meeting, you just think that you’ll be meeting a good friend. Then you’ll naturally slip into a more comfortable, confident and enjoyable emotional state and frame of mind. This also helps you and the other people to set a good frame for the interaction … The thing is that the frame that is set in the beginning of the conversation is often one that may stay on for a while. First impressions last.

Of course, you may not always want to pretend you’re meeting with Cousin Steve when you’re heading into, say, a job interview, so the author suggests imagining how a previous, successful meeting went just before stepping in. Have your own mental reassurance hacks for striking up chatter? Share ’em in the comments. Photo by polandeze.

How to Have Less Awkward Conversations: Assuming Rapport [The Positivity Blog]

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