Monday, September 11, 2017

Adding color to your speeches

Lance Miller, the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, often sends great information in his email newsletters. I encourage you to subscribe to them. Here is his latest, with a powerful technique that can help you be a more effective speaker.

A common mistake many people make in speaking is never introducing the audience to the characters or players in their story:
Example:  "I met my best friend after work and told him the news! He was so excited for me!"
Then the speaker goes on using the pronoun
and the noun "friend" but never giving us a real name or description of this person for a proper introduction to the audience.
This gives the audience a black & white silhouette description of this person.

Add some color"I met my best friend, John
after work and told him the news!"
Add some more color"I met my best friend, John, who I had known since high school, after work and told him the news!"
Now we have some dimension and color on who this friend is.
Example: "I came home and saw my daughter sitting at the kitchen table..."
We don't know if the daughter is 4 years old or 34 years old!
Add some color"I came home and saw my 15-year-old daughter, Emily, sitting at the kitchen table..."
Add some more color"I came home and saw my 15-year-old daughter, Emily, sitting at the kitchen table with her red hair and freckles doing her homework..."
It is a simple point of making these characters real to the audience. This is more important for major characters in stories. It is certainly fine to use descriptions like waiter, postman or receptionist if they don't play a major role in the speech or story.
But if they do, introduce them to the audience with a name and few short descriptive phases. Let the audience know this person. Let them see the character in living color instead of a black & what silhouette!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

It's Not WHAT, It's WHY

Lance Miller, the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, often sends great information in his email newsletters. I encourage you to subscribe to them. Here is his latest, with a powerful technique that can help you be a more effective speaker.

When tasked with looking for a speech topic and searching for subjects that can captivate and influence your audience, the question of,
"What should I say," may well be the wrong question. The correct question may be, "Why should I say it?"
There is no question that it is important to determine What you believeWhat you valueWhat you feel is important when speaking.

Examining Why you believe it,
Why you find it valuable
Why you feel it is important

brings both motive and purpose
to your words and intentions.

By answering the question "Why?" the speech almost writes itself.
I regularly teach that "you have to connect with yourself, before you can connect with the audience." A thorough examination of "Why" your topic is relevant and important will help connect the speech topic to you and the audience.
In all aspects of life, it is vital that we each examine our beliefs, motives and values and ask ourselves why we embrace them. It is quite easy to get caught in socially indoctrinated values without examining them for ourselves.
If we don't ask "Why" we blindly forward the unexamined thought be it is good or bad. A personal examination of "Why" will reinforce the good values of honesty, integrity and love in each of us and help identify unfounded bias and prejudice.
So, why not ask Why??

Friday, August 12, 2016

My Keys to Public Speaking

I have been giving presentations for a long time. My first official set of talks happened in 1977 as I took on the role of main trainer for a first aid class. It was a well received and successful training, and I did two more courses after that. I have had many speaking opportunities throughout the years, mostly as a trainer in different environments.

In 2004 I joined Toastmasters and began polishing my public speaking skills. Over the years I have developed the following keys to make public speaking easier and more fun:

  • Select a topic that interests you and that would be interesting to your audience. The only reason you are a speaker is to serve your audience. You are either going to entertain them, inform them, or inspire them — and you can achieve all three with a great speech.
  • As Steven Covey recommended, begin with the end in mind. Write down your closing statement first. This is the message you want your audience to remember when they leave.
    • What is your take-away for the audience? Can you narrow it down to one or two sentences? Can you narrow it down to 20 words or less?
    • What is your premise?
    • Why should the audience care?
  • Once you have your closing statement thoroughly prepared, modify it so that you can use it as an attention-getting opening. You must capture your audience's attention quickly, so a little theatrics may be in order.
  • Decide what points you want to make during your presentation. For a short speech, three points are enough. Longer speeches may allow for more points, but not so many that the audience will be confused as to your primary message.
  • Prioritize your points from least important to most important, leaving your most important points for last. Audiences tend to remember the last things they heard more than the earlier parts of the speech.
  • For each item on your list, develop a story that makes the point. Stories can be something you experienced, something someone else experienced, or something you created to illustrate your point. Audiences prefer to listen to stories about a topic rather than hearing facts about it. Stories allow us to humanize knowledge, to make things personal and personable, and to incorporate humor or emotions into our presentation. Those are the things that allow us to connect with our audience.
  • Keep in mind that there are many types of presentations, and your preparation will vary accordingly. The preparation for a club speech is very different than one for a competition speech; and those are very different from other types of presentations (workshops, team reports, etc.).

Friday, August 5, 2016

Rule Your Mind

Lance Miller, the 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, often sends great information in his email newsletters. I encourage you to subscribe to them. Here is his latest, with an incredible message that every public speaker should pay attention to.

I was in a bad mood yesterday. 
It was just one of those days. 
I was mired down in the minutia of monotonous meaningless machinations of life.....

Late in the afternoon I remembered a quote I read years earlier that had a profound effect on me. It was by Buddha and read: Rule your mind or it will rule you.

Once again I had slipped into letting my mind rule me with thoughts of how bad it all is. Within a few minutes I turned my entire day around and was once again enjoying being alive!

In my early years of speaking, I would have so many nervous negative thoughts about how bad my speech was going to be and how I should not have agreed to speak in the first place.  I was simply letting my mind rule me with negative, defeatist thoughts.

Through this quote and some additional concerted efforts I came to know that I had the ability to control my thoughts, or per Buddha, I could rule my mind.  I didn't have to think negative, defeating thoughts. I could think positive, successful thoughts - just by doing it!

I'm not sure where it stems from, but it seems that human nature tends to default to "how bad it all is."  Many people seem to thrive on the negative.  Just turn on the news and we have professionals telling us how bad everything is 24/7!

With my friends, co-workers, organizations and businesses I have found no forward motion happens allowing my mind to rule me and focus and think on the negative.

Having a few people around, better yet - being one of those people - who focuses on the positive and reminds others about "how good it all is" can really make an incredible difference in everyone's life.

I think we should all encourage those around us to rule their own mind and see the fun and good in life. It is a much more enjoyable place to live!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to speak so people listen

Here is a great video of what to say, what not to say, and how to say it so that people will want to listen to you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Harvey Mackay: The ABCs of public speaking

Harvey Mackay is a well-known public speaker and he recently published his "ABCs of Public Speaking." It is great advise for anybody that wants to deliver a message! Thanks Mr. Mackay for such a great reminder of all the small details public speaking involves.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Practice, practice, practice!

In an email from Lance Miller, 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking, he shows us why, as a public speaker, we must take every opportunity to practice the skills we have learned.

Below is the email Lance sent:
Happy New Year!
There is a saying that success comes from not What you know, it is Who you know.
But can you Say what you know to who you know when the times comes?
Below is a 1 minute video clip from yesterday's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Samsung is holding a press conference introducing their new 110" Ultra High Definition curved television.  Industry experts are saying this TV could actually threaten the cinema industry.
Samsung has brought in Michael Bay, noted Hollywood producer of Transformers, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor to promote the magnificence of their new product.
It is a huge moment for Samsung, a huge moment for Michael Bay!
Unfortunately, not the type of huge moment either wanted.  Michael walks off the stage, unable to think or speak, when the teleprompter fails.
Notice how well the host handles the situation as compared to how poorly Michael Bay does: [video goes here]
This could happen to any of us.  We have an opportunity speak out and make a difference in a meeting, our business, our community, our career?? But we choke!
Communication skills are some of the most important skills we can develop.  Public Speaking is a muscle.  To keep them strong we need to exercise them regularly.  If you want to be a speaker - you have to SPEAK!
One more thing -
Success is What you know + WHO you know + being able to Say it!
Stay Strong!
Lance Miller  
2005 World Champion of Public Speaking
Here is the link to the video mentioned in Lance's email:

Lance makes an excellent point: public speaking is a skill that requires constant work. Unless we use our public speaking muscle, atrophy will set in and we can become victims of malfunctioning equipment or brain-freeze.

Speaking opportunities are everywhere: at social gatherings, at the dinner table, at meetings, in the gym, at a park — as a public speaker we must be alert to these unexpected gems and take advantage of them when they come. If you are a Toastmaster, you need to sign up to give speeches and volunteer to speak whenever the opportunity arises. Do you have a "pocket" speech, one that you can give on a moment's notice? Are you constantly working on a speech, whether it be a new one or an old one that needs revisions?

Speaking in public is an honor and something that we must take seriously. Preparation and practice are essential to any speaker. Our audience deserves our best effort every time we stand before them.

Mark Twain's words come to mind: ""It takes me about three weeks to write an impromptu speech".

Ryan Avery, 2012 World Champion of Public Speaking, constantly reminds us that we speak to serve others with the power of our words.