Category Archives: Presentations

From the Archives: 7 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Workshop.

7 Things You Can Do to Ensure a Great Workshop. Workshops are an excellent way of getting yourself in front of potential clients. Running workshops is something I really enjoy. Over the years I’ve learned a few things about designing and facilitating them that I’d like to share with you.  Here are seven things you can do to create an optimum learning environment for your workshop. Set up a comfortable … Read More

How Much Should You Charge for a Speaking Engagement?

One of the questions  I get asked when someone has been invited to give a presentation on personal histories is “How much should I charge?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer or formula, but there are some useful guidelines. A colleague of mine and fellow Association of Personal Historians member is Pattie Whitehouse. She has some good suggestions which I’ve summarized below.

  • If it’s  a general 30-45 minute presentation on personal history  and the event is free, don’t charge. Consider it part of your marketing. But if you’re  asked for a full-scale seminar of 2-3 hours, charge for that. How much,  though, will depend on the following:

0 How long will it take you to prepare the presentation?  You should make preparation time a part of your overall charges.

0 Can you market the presentation to other groups? And is this  something you’d want to do? If it is, you won’t need to put in as much preparation time for future groups.  Would this  group help you secure other bookings? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, you might consider reducing your presentation fee.

0 How likely is it that you will get business, either
directly or indirectly, from your presentation? If  likely, you might be willing to charge  less; if not likely,  you might want to charge what you think you’re worth.

0 Do you know the group’s budget? What have they paid
for other presentations? Ask! If their budget is  unrealistically low or if they are used to paying a nominal  honorarium, you’ll need to reconsider. How do you feel, say, about charging a  church group less than you might charge a for profit corporation?

Ultimately, what you charge will come down to  a balancing act. You’ll need to weigh the  experience, the exposure, the raising of awareness about  personal history, the opportunity to present yourself as a  knowledgeable professional against the cost to you in time and  effort of putting together and making the presentation.

I would add a few other suggestions to Pattie’s excellent list:

  • When discussing your presentation fee with a non-profit organization, consider quoting your regular fee with a 15%  to 25% “non-profit” discount. Doing this  honors your professionalism, informs the organization what your actual fee is, and shows your appreciation for its limited funding.
  • Factor in your “star” quality when quoting a fee. You won’t  be in the  Bill Gates or Tony Blair league but your years of experience, visibility in your local community, and previous “gigs” all give you some clout when negotiating with an organization.
  • Don’t forget to factor audience size into your presentation fee.  Is this a conference where you’re a keynote speaker in front of hundreds or is this a local service club with 50 members? The larger size demands a higher fee.
  • A negotiating line that I like to use sometimes is “My usual fee is____ but if it’s is a deal breaker, I’m flexible.”
  • Consider whether speaking engagements are going to be a major thrust of your personal history  work or just an occasional activity. The answer to that will determine how you market yourself and what you charge.

A final word. Appreciate the  experience and the value you bring to potential audiences.  And never, never, let yourself agree to a deal that doesn’t recognize your worth.

Photo by flickr

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How to Make Your Life Story Workshop Memorable.

I always use some short, entertaining exercises to help break the ice and add a little fun and variety to my life story workshops. If you’re looking for something, consider some of those on my list. Please let me know in the comments below if you have some other exercises you’ve used and would like to share .

  • The six-word memoir. Made popular by Smith Magazine, the idea is to have participants use six-words to capture their life stories. I usually hand out small  2″ x 3″ cards for  people to use. After some sharing of  mini memoirs, I collect the cards and put them in a box for a prize draw at the end of my workshop.
  • The story behind my name. I divide the class into pairs if it’s large and have each partner  share the story behind his or her name. After about 15 minutes I gather the group together and have people share their “name” stories. It’s always a crowd pleaser!
  • A favorite object. Everyone has something they treasure.  I bring a favorite item of mine to the workshop. I  talk about what it is, how I acquired it, and why it’s special to me. Then I have the class break into pairs and have each partner describe a favorite object. After 15 or 20 minutes,  I ask for some  sharing of  “favorite object” stories.
  • A peak life experience. I describe to the class a peak moment in my life. I provide as much detail as possible – where it was, when it happened,who was there, and how I felt. I then have the workshop participants find a partner and have each  share with one another a peak experience. After 15 to 20 minutes, I have  the group  reassemble and ask for volunteers to share a peak moment.
  • A special place. This can be from any period in one’s life.  I recall a huge hollowed out tree stump in the forest near our home. This was my special place when I was a boy. It was off the beaten track and known only to me. I would go there when I was feeling adventurous or when I was troubled. I ask my workshop participants to share with a partner a special place in their lives. Later I ask for some individuals to share a description of a special place.
  • A photo story. I’ll admit that I haven’t tried this exercise yet. I dreamed it up recently and can’t wait to use it in my next workshop.  I have a photo in my personal collection that you can see below.

    Photo Dan Curtis collection

    Here’s the exercise. I’ll hand out a copy of the photo to each  workshop participant and ask them to take 20 minutes to write a story behind the photo. I won’t give any clues as to the real story. Then I’ll ask various people to read out their stories. I think there’ll probably be some interesting variety. To conclude I’ll tell the real story of the photo. Curious? Well, you’ll just have to come to my workshop. ;-) Or you could check out my post on Wednesday, February 10th.

Photo by iStockphoto

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The “Mini Memoir” Contest!

mini bookAn exercise I particularly like to use in workshops is the six-word memoir. This is based on and their popular six-word collections. For more information click here.

The idea is rumored to have started with Ernest Hemingway. He was challenged to write a six-word story and he wrote:

Baby shoes for sale, never worn.

I think the six-word memoir is a great way to get your creative writing juices flowing. Having trouble starting your life story? Why not write a six-word memoir and use it as the title for your book. Alternatively,  turn it into the introduction to your story. These mini memoirs can be intriguing and often call out for a fuller explanation.

To give you some inspiration, here are a few of the six-word gems from the participants in my recent Dawson Creek workshop.

  • Mom’s revenge, I am my mom!
  • Who said it couldn’t be done?
  • I’m aching, broken but I’m alive!
  • Work hard. Live well. Enjoy life.
  • Waiting to see what is next.
  • Daughter, sister, wife, mother,  grandma, wow!
  • Have motorcycle, will travel. I’m free!
  • Family is my Love and Joy.
  • Love it all. Not enough time.
  • Years happen. Still learning. Constantly amazed!
  • Investing in others now. Rewards coming.

Here’s mine: Learned much. Much more to learn.

What’s your six-word memoir? Jot it down in the comment box below. To encourage you, I’m offering a free 30 minute telephone consultation. You can ask me any burning questions you have about personal histories and I’ll do my best to answer them.

I’ll select a winning six-word memoir on Thursday, November 20th, at 7 pm PST. Good Luck!

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Do You Want to Bolster Your Presentation Skills?


In my previous article I covered six ways you can “Get Control of Your Pre-Presentation Jitters”. In this post I’ve assembled seven great sites that provide a range of practical ways you can improve your personal history presentation skills.

  • Presentation skills training: Practical tips covering: preparation, style, dealing with nerves, working your audience, structuring a presentation, and developing as a presenter.
  • 10 Ways to Reclaim Your Power as a Speaker: “Lee Glickstein, creator of Speaking Circles (worldwide) thinks speaking is relationship not showmanship. Glickstein believes that good speakers communicate for connection. He says that the best technique is no technique.”
  • Oral Presentation Skills: “Next time you have to make a presentation to a group …, check out these tips to help you prepare, organize, and deliver your speech as well as create visual aids to accompany it and answer questions when it’s over.”
  • Six Minutes: This is a great blog that brings you public speaking and presentation skills tips, analysis, insights, and strategies.
  • Public Speaking & Presentation Skills Articles: “Patricia Fripp offers you her articles on public speaking and presentation skills to reprint or repost – FREE – provided that her name and contact information (supplied at the end of each article) are included.”

Photo by Daniel Greene

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How to Get Control of Your Pre-Presentation Jitters.

I’m a “ham” at heart so I love to get in front of an audience, big or small.  But when it comes to an important presentation where I know I’ve got to jittersmake a good impression, I can feel the pre-presentation jitters creeping in. Over the years I’ve learned some practical steps to calm myself. Try these the next time you’ve got to make a “big” presentation.

  • Know your stuff. The best way to keep the jitters at bay is to be well prepared.  Practice your presentation in front of a friend and get some constructive feedback.
  • Arrive early. Nothing adds more to your anxiety than rushing madly to get to your presentation on time. Check Google Maps for the best route from your place to the venue where you’ll be speaking.
  • Do a room check. If possible, check out the room prior to your presentation. Make sure that the equipment you requested is in place and works. Is the seating arranged in a suitable manner for your talk? Is the room at a comfortable temperature?
  • Mingle. I find this a real tension buster. If you have a chance, move about the room and introduce yourself to people who’ve come to hear you. When you get up to talk, you’ll feel that you’re talking to individuals, not a big, amorphous group.
  • Don’t forget to breathe. Before starting your presentation, check your breathing. Chances are it’ll be somewhat shallow. Take several deliberate, deep, slow breaths  and you’ll find it helps to relax you.
  • Go slow. Nothing broadcasts nervousness more than a speaker who breathlessly rushes into his presentation and never stops. Be focused, deliberate, and slow at the outset.

I hope you’ll find these tips helpful. Let me know what you do to calm those pre-presentation jitters.

Photo by K. Nicoll

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