Is There a Difference Between Delivering a Presenation and Public Speaking?

presenting vs public speaking

It’s a great question to ask. We often have clients contact us about our Presentation Skills training course and ask if it will help with public speaking. You might think the initial answer is ‘yes of course as they are essentially the same thing’. But are they?

There are definitely some similarities to presenting and public speaking, but there are also some differences.

What things are the same?

Essentially, a lot. Whether you are delivering a presentation you will certainly need to do some preparation. You will need to think about:

  • You will need to know who your audience is – this will help with the next couple of points
  • What is your objective – what do you want the audience to leave thinking or knowing at the end of what it is you deliver to them
  • You will need a structure – what order will the items you deliver come in
  • You will need to make it engaging – how will you grab and maintain peoples attention
  • You will need some visual aids – you will probably need to put together some kind of visuals i.e. slides, videos etc. that you will use as part of your delivery

What are the differences?

  • Presentations are typically in smaller settings. When public speaking you may be presenting to larger audiences
  • Presentations normally have some kind of audience interaction. These may be throwing questions out to the audience, some kind of exercises etc. When public speaking, we often just pass the information on to the audience (although, you may do things such as asking the audiences option by a show of hands).
  • Presentations may be about providing updates, learning or sharing new ideas. Public speaking is about inspiring others, moving people, introducing new initiatives or ideas.

When deciding whether a presentation skills course will suit your requirements will really depend on the audience you are delivering to and the approach you wish to take. As you can see, there are definitely some transferable skills.


How to Invite People to a Meeting

how to invite people to meetings

Inviting people to a meeting sounds like it should be a simple thing to do. Just pop them over a meeting invite, and that should be job done.

But, let’s reverse the role for a second. Think about how you feel when you just get a calendar invite sent to you asking you to attend a meeting. No agenda, no objectives and no details whatsoever about what the meeting is about. It doesn’t help or engage you and help with the motivation to attend, does it?

We see a lot of this. Now, consider how you feel when you arrive at the meeting. Are you feeling motivated and like you want to be there? Probably not!

It’s safe to say if this is how you would feel, then it’s highly likely that others will feel the same if this is how you invite them to a meeting.

If you want people to attend a meeting and want to be there and be fully engaged in the process, then there more to do than just sending a simple invite.

The engagement process starts well before the meeting. You need to help others to prioritise your meeting over everything else that you have going on. This means we need to add more detail to the meeting invite.

A meeting invite should have:

  • A description of the purpose of the meeting – this should describe the ‘why’. It should set out the background and explain why the meeting has been called.
  • The objective(s) of the meeting – what will the meeting drive out? Will it be decisions, actions, agreements. You need to help others see that there is value to the meeting.
  • An agenda or order of discussion – this should set out the talking points that will be discussed during the meeting and how much time has been allocated to each.

When we deliver training courses that include sessions on how to run a successful meeting, we use a tool called a POP Template. This tool helps us to achieve all of the above. POP stands for Purpose, Objectives, Process.

By completing the document adding/pasting it into the meeting invitation, it allows for more successful meetings as it aims to help meeting delegates to become more engaged in the meeting before they even arrive.

It also helps others to effectively prioritise, meaning they should be able to come back to you and let you know that they have something that is more business-critical to work on rather than attend the meeting. This should be completely allowable.

We hope these few points help you to have more successful meetings.

How to Create Positive Habits that Lead to Success

We all have habits. We tend to think of most of them as negative. Picking your nose, cravings, over-sleeping, taking short-cuts. They are all habits and all which we probably see as negative.

We often use the term ‘I just got into the habit of it’ when we describe using these habits.

But, what if habits could be positive as well as negative? What if we could develop good habits that lead us to be more successful rather than harmful? How about breaking and removing some of the negative habits we have?

Well, we can. We just need to understand how habits work and how to build positive habits rather than negative.

What is a Habit?

A habit is something we do regularly either unconsciously or something driven by a craving that we give in to.

How to Change and Develop Habits

In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg describes how habits work. Despite the fact that everyone is different, his research suggests that all habits have a simple neurological loop – a cue, a routine, a reward.

No matter how may times we say we won’t do it again; we end up going back and repeating the habit.

It’s this loop that we either need to break to rid ourselves of negative habits or use in to develop positive habits.

In a recent post, Charles Duhigg describes a habit that he had when writing his book. He found himself going the canteen each afternoon for a cookie. It’s this example that he uses when trying to break down what a habit is and how to break it. You need to figure out your habit loop.

To break the habit, there are 3 things we need to identify:

  1. What ‘s the routine? This means identifying exactly what you are doing. What is the behaviour you are demonstrating that you would like to change?
  2. What’s the cue for the routine. Or, what triggers it? Is it hunger, boredom, fear, annxiety?
  3. Idenifying the reward. What do you get as a result of the habit?

The reward is an important thing to undertand. When we get the reward we are likely to get a hit of dopemine in the brain that gives us satisfaction. It’s this dopemine hit that we crave and is why we likely repeat the habit. It becomes a craving.

Breaking the habit comes from experimenting with rewards. To change the reward you have to change the routine.

So, when you get the urge (after the cue) to satisfy your craving, do something different to what you normally would do. Even if it’s slightly different it’s progress. Then, slowly change it again then again untill the routine is different. Then, recognise what reward you get from your new routine.

If the reward doesn’t satisfy the craving, then change the routine again unil you do find something that gives you a decent enough dopemine hit, but isn’t doing any damage. A positive reward!

Using the habit loop, we can develop really positive habits. For example, recognising that you are stressed and doing something to mae you feel better is positive. Regonising that you need energy or a chnage of scenery or a chaneg of direction then doing something about it can lead to much better results for you.

A habit will always remain a habit unless you break the habit loop that triggers it then deliveres the satisfaction as a result of doing it.

Dealing With Interruptions – Start an Interruptions Log

interruptions log

One thing that gets in the way of effective time management is interruptions. Whether these interruptions come in the form of people approaching your desk, a phone call or email, they all prevent us from managing our time and getting things done.

Interruptions can be frustrating, and we often waste a lot of time dealing with them.

There is a lot of ideas out there on how to deal with interruptions, but before you can get to deal with them, it’s a good idea to find out where they are coming from and why.

A neat tool to do this is and to find out who your persistent offenders are to is an interruptions log.

An interruptions log is a piece of work you can complete over the space of several days where you make a note of each time you are interrupted. Here is how it works.

Create a template with the following headings:

Date, time, who, why and grade. It might look something like this:

interruptions log

Each time you get interrupted (meaning each time you have to stop a task and deal with someone else) fill in the log. Here is how to fill it in:

  • Date – The date the interruption happened (this could just be written at the start of the day)
  • Time – The time the interruption happened
  • Who – Who interrupted you?
  • Why – Why did they interrupt you?
  • How long – How long did the interruption last for?
  • Grade – Grade the interruption to its importance. If the interruption was very necessary, then grade it as A up to if the interruption was completely irrelevant, then grade it as D. Mark other interruptions in between.

Do this for around a week then analyse the data. Look for trends and also look at how much time you have spent dealing with interruptions.

For example:

Do you find that you are being interrupted by the same person? If so, it may suggest that this persona has become reliant on you for information. It could also suggest that you are making it too easy for them to ask you. Try pushing back, asking them what they think they should/could do or make sure they understand how to do the things they are asking for themselves.

Do you find that different people are interrupting you for the same reason? This may suggest that a training need exists which could be addressed, or that you hold some information that others need access to that could be made publically available.

The times of day that you are interrupted can also be a useful signal to look at too. For example, if you get interrupted more in the morning than in the afternoon or vice-versa, this could suggest that people have less energy at those times in the day and find it easier to ask you questions. It could also mean that you lack energy around those times, and you find it easier to just answer peoples questions.

Use the data to proactively put fixes in place to reduce or remove as many interruptions as you can. This will go along way to help you with your time management and to get more things done.

Our time management training course looks at the interruptions log and many more things that you could do to better manage your time.




How to Make Your Writing More Positive

Make Your Writing More Positive

Whether you are writing a blog post, an email to a customer or a report, it pays to make your writing more positive.

Positive writing is much more engaging and gives a much better all-round feeling for the reader.

What is Negative Writing?

Negative writing is when the language that is used in writing is viewed as negative. We use negative words over positive.

Examples of negative words we could use are:

  • No
  • Not
  • Won’t
  • Can’t
  • Unable to

We also may use negative statements such as:

  • Fell short
  • Didn’t meet expectations
  • Nothing we can do

Not commital words can also be seen to be negative. Words and statements such as:

  • Possibly
  • Could
  • Maybe
  • Might
  • Try

How Do We Make Writing More Positive

The idea is to consider the structure of your writing and aim to make things more positive. Here are some examples:

Negative – The system probably won’t be up and running until next Tuesday

Positive – The system will be up and running by next Tuesday.


Negative – I’m sorry that the website fell short of your expectations.

Positive – I appreciate the suggestions you sent about ways to improve the website.


Negative – We are unable to reserve advertising space until 15th September.

Positive – We can reserve advertising space from 15th September.


Use a positive, decisive version of verbs: e.g. use ‘ask’ not ‘enquire’; ‘think’ rather than ‘believe’; ‘know’ rather than ‘feel’.

Here are some other words pack a positive punch:

  • Benefit
  • Bonus
  • Excellent
  • Delighted
  • Honest
  • Guarantee
  • Immediately
  • Of course
  • Yes
  • Thank you

These have negative connotations:

  • Regret
  • Problem
  • Impossible
  • Cannot
  • Complaint
  • Delay
  • Mistake
  • Sorry
  • Disappoint
  • Difficulty

When you are writing content, take some time to read back over what you have written and consider if there are ways to make what you have written more positive.

Our Business Writing Skills course provides lots of tips and ideas on how to make your writing more positive and engaging.


Are You Guilty of Throwing Jelly in the Hope That It Sticks?

It is probably the weirdest title for a blog post ever, but a term, or an analogy that we often use in some of our courses.

If you throw jelly at a wall, only small parts of it stick. Most of it will fall away and land on the floor. The best it will do is leave a big stain on the wall.

We use this analogy to describe the approach that some people use when problem-solving. Whether this is a complex problem or an issue or problem that a team member or team mate has.

Sometimes when these problems occur, we make assumptions that we know what is going on and how to fix it. Or, we give little or no thought at all to a solution and jump straight in to try and fix it. When our first attempt doesn’t work, we try another and another then another, in the hope that eventually something works.

Just like throwing at a wall, all we probably do is leave a big stain on the relationships that we have with those around us, and you will have lots of mess to clean up.

If you are facing a problem, don’t throw solutions at it. If the problem or issue is with a team member or a team mate, simply asking what’s wrong and how can you work together to resolve their issue is the simple way of getting it right the first time.

If it’s a complex issue then using some simple problem-solving techniques can help to quickly get to the root cause of the issue to help you put a first-time fix into place.

Both of the above may appear to take a bit longer but isn’t probably the case. You should get the fix right the first time, and you will have a lot less mess to clear up afterwards.

Are you guilty of throwing jelly?

The Importance of Training In an Organisation

I saw this posted on LinkedIn a few days ago, and it made me chuckle. It’s a conversation I’ve had and heard many times in the past.

Over the years, I’ve had many a conversation with delegates in training courses who describe this a contributing factor to how motivated people are. When there is a lack of development opportunities, people become demotivated. The excuse is often that we don’t need to train and develop our people because there is nowhere for them to go!

If there are no current opportunities for career development, why bother developing our people. If we do, they will just go somewhere else where there are opportunities and take all of that learning with them.

But, what if they stay? They continue to be demotivated, and this can impact on their performacne and the performance of others around them. No-one wants a mood hoover in the office that’s for sure.

So, why bother providing training and development if there are likely to be no opportunities in the future?

Can you whole heartedly say that this is the case? Are you saying that no one will ever leave your business? Will no one ever retire? Will you never grow?

Of course, we can’t.

Sir Richard Branson once said about Virgin – ‘We should develop people to the point where they want to leave, but look after them so will that they don’t want to’.

These things go hand in hand. Looking after people includes providing training and development — not just good salaries and benefits. In fact, training and development can be seen as a benefit.

Why all the worry then? Often the view is that training costs money, and it’s the investment that we fear. But, training doesn’t have to cost anything. OK, let me rephrase that. Training doesn’t always require external spend. It does cost time.

You don’t always need to invest in external training for your team. Leaders and other team members will have a wealth of experience they can share. Coaching and buddying are classic examples of how some development can be done internally, just by sharing knowledge with each other.

Delegating tasks is also seen as a development opportunity (and it helps with time management as well).

If we don’t invest in our people (both time and money where it’s required), the result could mean a demotivated workforce which leads to poor overall performance.

How to Say No Confidently

how to say no confidently

Do you find it difficult to say no to people?  Many of us do.  Many of us don’t like to let people down and try to please people. Many of us are worried about the reaction of the other person when we do say no.

But, we have to realise at some point that we can’t say yes to everyone.  It puts us at risk of utilising the precious time that we should be spending on completing things on our agenda, not other peoples.

In the book The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by William Ury, the author explains that there are three responses to someone who asks us to do something we don’t want to do:

Accommodation – We say yes when we want to say no.  This usually happens when we value the relationship of the person asking above the importance of our interests.

Attack – We say no poorly.  Sometimes we are fearful or resentful of the request and overreact to the person making the request.

Avoidance – We say nothing.  We may be afraid of offending the other person, so we say nothing and hope it all goes away.  But, it rarely does.

Sometimes the above responses spill over into each other, making the situation a whole lot worse.

William Ury suggests a fourth strategy or response that doesn’t require us to sacrifice our priorities or the relationships that we have with others.  He describes it as a positive no.

This simple formula employs a YES – NO – YES response.

This ‘Positive No’ has three parts:

Yes.  It begins by saying yes to yourself and protecting what is important to you

No.  It then moves on with a matter-of-fact No that sets clear boundaries

Yes.  A positive no ends with a yes that affirms the relationship and offers another solution to the request.

So, for example:

Thank you for considering me to do this task for you – the yes

Unfortunately, I can’t do this for you as I have other pressing things to do that have deadlines that can’t be moved – the no.

You could try asking Joe to do this for you, or I can offer you some help on this day when I have less to do.

People’s reactions to no tend to be negative as we don’t always explain the reasons or provide alternative solutions.

Another idea would be to change the structure of the sentence that we use when we do say no. For example, we might normally say:

‘No, I can’t do that as I’m busy working on something else. But, What I can have a look at it tomorrow as I’ll have more time then’.

We say no. We explain why, then we offer an alternative.

The issue with is that the No becomes a ‘blocking word’. Not much more is heard after that. What we could do is move the no to later in the sentence. Better still, get rid of it altogether. For example:

‘What I can do is look at this tomorrow for you as I’m busy working on something else right now.’

As you can see, we lead with the positive and end with the explanation. We don’t use the word no at all.

These are just two examples of what you could do to say no


Do you struggle to say no?  Then why not attend one of our Assertiveness Skills Training Courses.

Our Assertiveness Skills Training Courses offer lots of practical help in saying no, building better relationships, communicating more effectively and confidently.

Generate a Bias Towards Action

generating a bias towards action

Are you one of those people who overthink things? Do you think you spend more time planning and less time doing – potentially getting into too much detail and leaving less time to actually get things done?

If you do, you probably find this impacts on your productivity. You also may look at others with envy who just seem to get stuff done.

So, what’s the difference between you and them? It’s likely they have something called a Bias Towards Action.

What does that mean? A bias towards action means making quicker decisions to take action rather than overthinking things. If you are one of the people who we mentioned in the first paragraph you’ll likely be terrified by that thought. Bear with me though, it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Honestly!

We came across a great piece from Jeff Bezos, CEO, and Founder of Amazon. This came from a shareholder letter in 2016 and talked about making great decisions. He uses the phrase ‘day 1 company’ and how they differ to ‘day 2 companies’. What he is talking about here is how does Amazon keep the energy and excitement of a company that has literally just started and is on its first day:

Day 2 companies make high-qualitydecisions, but they make high-quality decisions slowly. To keep the energy and dynamism of Day 1, you have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocitydecisions. Easy for start-ups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business – plus a high-velocity decision making environment is more fun too. We don’t know all the answers, but here are some thoughts.

First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. For those, so what if you’re wrong? I wrote about this in more detail in last year’s letter.

Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes.

The link above will take you to the speech Jeff made about this and you can watch the video too.

This is decent advice, maybe a bit scary for some, but good advice all the same.

Having a bias towards actions is all about getting stuff done. In fact, it’s probably even easier than that – it’s getting the first thing done. It’s about getting things started at least.

The three major facts from above:

Decisions are Reversible – Yes. They are. You might think it will take longer to undo things than it would be to keep planning and thinking and planning and thinking. The problem sometimes with too much planning and thinking is that it tends to lead to more planning and thinking. You’ve got to take action and get things started. If it is wrong, then go back and change it.

The problem is that sometimes we try to plan the whole thing. For example, if you are working on a project, we plan it out. We meticulously plan each step, work out critical paths, Gantt Charts, dependencies and risks, and issues. Of course, these things are important, but at some point, you’re going to have to get started. How many times have you planned a project, only to find that you have to keep changing the plan anyway? You might as well have at least kicked off the first thing to at least get the thing going.

Making decisions with about 70% of the information is a very clever way to think of this. Of course, 70% of the information you need is probably immeasurable. What it means is, it’s OK to make decisions without all of the information to hand. At least make the decision to get the first thing done.

It’s time to get out of the mindset that things need to be perfect. Things will be perfect, but you have to get the thing started before you see that end result.

Here are some quick tips to generate bias towards action:

Don’t Over-Think. Take Action – Don’t wait until you have every last bit of information before you decide to get started. 70% is often enough, or in some cases, enough to get the first bit going

Make the First Thing Easy – Make the first task in any project or idea easy. Make it look like you can get that ticked off quickly. Then, you’re on your way

Don’t Fear Decisions – Decisions are reversible. If you get it wrong, go back and change it. But, make sure you are not charging into the project before you realise that it’s wrong. Take it bit at a time, one decision at a time but get something done.

This idea isn’t for everyone. But, I hope it gives you some food for thought.



Why Hitting the Snooze Button May Be Impacting Your Productivity

Are you one of those people who just don’t want to get up on a morning? Do you constantly find yourself reaching for the snooze button when your alarm goes off on a morning? Do you feel groggy and still tired when you do eventually get up?

What you might not realise is that hitting the snooze button can have a serious impact on your productivity throughout the day. This post explains why and what you should be doing about it.

First, a bit of science. When we sleep we go through something called sleep cycles. Each cycle lasts in the region of 90 to 110 minutes. When we get woken up during one of those cycles, the brainstem arousal system (the part of the brain that deals with basic physical functioning) is activated immediately. This means that you can at least move. But, the prefrontal cortex (the part that deals with decision making and self-control) takes a little bit of catching up. In fact, it can take around 30 minutes but in some cases, it can takes hours.

As our body goes through these sleep cycles, the body at some point begins the process of waking you up. It speeds up your breathing and heart rate and provides a mix of chemicals needed to get you moving. This process naturally occurs around 2 hours before you wake up, meaning we should wake up naturally after what the body feels is the final sleep cycle.

If we get woken up during a sleep cycle we feel groggy. The term given to this is sleep inertia and is caused by having too much melatonin in the body.

When we get woken by the alarm, we should be ready to wake up. So what happens when we hit the snooze button? If you are lucky enough to fall back to sleep, you enter another sleep cycle. And because typically the snooze function on our alarm goes off again after around 9 to 10 minutes, you get woken up during a sleep cycle. This causes sleep inertia and that’s why you feel rubbish.

In most cases though, when you hit the sleep button, our brain kind of knows the alarm will go off again. It means you probably won’t get into the deep sleep that you really crave, but psychologically, we do enter another sleep cycle.

If we continue with sleep inertia, we may feel tired more than we should. And, feeling tired will begin to impact on your decision making and other cognitive functions. Basically, it means we will struggle to get stuff done. It impacts on our levels of productivity.

What should you do? Well, simple advice is this:

  1. When the alarm goes off, don’t hit snooze
  2. Get up

But, there is more to it than that. Getting into a routine and having a time that you go to bed will help massively. Once you are in a routine you will start to wake up naturally.

The best advice is always to get up when you wake up. Even if this is before your alarm goes off. If the alarm does go off, don’t give it a second thought. Just get up. You will make yourself feel worse by hitting the snooze button and trying to go back to sleep.

It’s a habit change more than anything. Stop saying ‘ohhhh, just 10 more minutes’. Instead, say ‘OK, time to move’.

You will find that this will generally give you more energy throughout the day – even if it feels terrible for the few moments after you get up.