Monday, August 31, 2009
Related posts: Learn storytelling online, 3 ways
Tell a story on yourself
Sunday, August 30, 2009
- Take small steps back to speaking: I recommend four stepping-stone speaker experiences to newbies, and they're a great way for the experienced, but out-of-practice, speaker to get her toe back in the water. Ask a question at a talk, chair a session, moderate a panel or be a panelist--these steps all stop short of shouldering all the responsibility for a full-length speech, but give you easy and visible ways to practice (and to show your willingness to speak.)
- Take the time to consider what you want to change: You may hesitate if you lack certain skills or feel you want to step up your game. Think about and write down what you want to change in your approach to speaking, then seek out group training or individual coaching focused on just those aspects of your talks.
- Watch or listen to some expert speakers online to get new ideas: Why not try something new? I recommend three websites where you can watch or listen to some of the world's best and most creative speakers and storytellers for inspiration and ideas.
- Be brief. Leave the audience wanting more and choose to re-start your speaking with a briefer-than-usual talk. Then take the time to analyze how you did and where expansion of your points makes sense.
- Get prepared. Work with a coach or speechwriter to develop a short, three-point message or a formal, prepared speech. Working from a text may help you feel more confident when you re-enter the speaking sphere.
Related posts: 4 stepping stones to get speaking practice
Saturday, August 29, 2009
- My checklist for the whole speaker--not just what you want to say, but considering your audience, wardrobe, technology, presence and more--topped our list of popular posts this month. It's the list I use to make sure I'm prepared, no matter what. One reader said: "I'm printing it and hanging it in my office!"
- Beginning speakers flocked to our contest posts, and stayed to read this April post on the four stepping stones I suggest to get you started in public speaking.
- Eye contact was cited as an issue by several of our contest entrants, and many of you went back to this post with five tips to improve your eye contact with the audience.
- "It's not just a contest to me" said Stephanie Benoit of Florida, winner of our 15 Weeks to Step Up Your Speaking contest in this post announcing her win. Readers from all over the world have been checking on our winner and are ready to follow her progress--coaching online for her starts in just a few days.
- Handling an introduction is a one of my stepping stones to get speaking--but intros often lack, well, fiber and strength. This older post on ways to beef up your introductions was a winner yet again in August.
- All the contest entrants appeared in this video gallery, and readers checked them out a lot while our judges were deliberating. Check out their videos here.
- Speakers need to learn storytelling. But how? I have three great online resources that will help you watch master storytellers and learn their techniques, another popular post.
- Creating a tweetable presentation was a guest post that got lots of attention in August. It helps you with concrete ideas for helping your audience use Twitter to spread your message.
- Our contest winner sent you a message to test our her prize Flip camcorder. She wants your constructive comments and support as she begins her 15 weeks of coaching.
- Quick: catch your breath, then read these tips for doing just that when you run out of it in a speaking gig. Good breathing can calm the anxious speaker, and it's an essential skill.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London "refused to let the women delegates speak," inspiring delegates Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to start a movement for women's rights...The incident is recalled in journalist Gail Collins' wonderful social history,America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines. Getting the vote allows for a different form of speaking up; unfortunately, women in many professions still have trouble getting speaking opportunities at professional conferences.
Related posts: History of keeping women off the program
All our tips on getting women on the program as speakers
In Dorothy Sarnoff’s book, Speech can change your life, on page 199 it says that: “Winston Churchill overcame his early fear of audiences by imagining that each of them was sitting there naked"....A similar quote (with two additional celebrities) also appears in Dorothy Leeds' book PowerSpeak, on page 33: “Winston Churchill liked to imagine that each member of the audience was naked. Franklin Roosevelt pretended that the members all had holes in their socks. Carol Burnett thinks of them sitting on the commode.”The real question on my mind: Should you try this storied tactic today? I'm thinking not. It suggests--even creates--a real divide between you and the audience and runs the risk of distraction for you, always fatal for a speaker. But it's great to have the story attributed.
Related posts: Noted speaker coach Dorothy Sarnoff dies at 94
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I'm looking forward to working with Stephanie and sharing our progress with you all. Please feel free to share your encouragement as she moves through the process, and add your questions, tips and advice based on your experiences as a speaker. We can all learn together over the next 15 weeks. We'll launch the first series of coaching videos and posts next week and our 15 weeks will take us into December. Stand by for more!
Here's a checklist I like to use to make sure my own preparations are complete before I speak. How many of these preparations are on your checklist? Do you have any to add that you find helpful? Leave a note in the comments section.
- Do I know what the audience wants from me?
- Is that what I'm going to give them? Do my goals match theirs? If not, why am I speaking to them? How will I reach them?
- What do I want to get out of this speaking experience?
- What do I need to learn from the audience? How will I find out?
- Do I intend to engage the audience? Do I just want them to listen? Do I intend to get them to act on something?
- What do I need to include or exclude to meet my intentions and those of the audience?
- How can I put my facts across persuasively? What are my data, ideas, proofs?
- What emotion or personal experience can I add to the mix?
- Is there content the audience can contribute? Am I comfortable with them sharing their insights?
- Am I focused and ready? Do I feel prepared?
- If not, what am I anxious about? What's the worst thing that could happen? How will I deal with it?
- What are 3 successful things I've done before that I can use again this time?
- What are 3 things I'd like to improve this time, based on previous speaking experiences?
- How and where will I fit those into my presentation?
- Am I prepared with breathing exercises or other ways to stay calm?
- What will help me relax and focus?
- Have I thought through events that may challenge all my assumptions about this speech? Do I know what I'll say and do if no one agrees with me, or if someone gets angry?
- Am I ready to roll with whatever situation arrives, with calm and good humor? Or am I going to get impatient and angry?
- Have I taken care of the basics? Am I rested, fed, hydrated, stretched out, relaxed?
- Do I need to spend 10 minutes before the speech attending to breathing and stretching?
- Am I wearing clothes and shoes that are comfortable enough to help me stand and move as needed?
- If I don't feel well, what do I need to change to get through my speech successfully?
- Have I thought about how I will gesture, move, sit or stand during the course of the presentation? Are those movements planned or random? Do they help underscore my points?
- Is my posture straight but relaxed? Are my shoulders hunched? Am I centered at my core?
- Am I inadvertently clenching anything--teeth, hands, shoulders, neck? Why?
- Are my clothes clean, pressed and mended? Do they fit me?
- Will my wardrobe allow me (if needed) to do things like crawl under a table to plug in a cord or reach high to point at a chart? Have I rehearsed my movements while wearing my intended outfit?
- Am I using color to my advantage? Will it help me stand out in the setting?
- Is there anything about my outfit that will distract me? Distract my audience?
- If I plan to gesture, have I removed rings and bracelets?
- If I'm standing behind a lectern, have I focused attention near my face? What from my outfit will be seen in that setting?
- Do I know how my own technology works?
- Do I have any adapters, cords or batteries I may need? Am I making the mistake of assuming there will be technical help?
- Can I give my presentation even if all the technology fails? Can I speak without my slides?
- Do I have plans B, C and D ready?
- Have I seen the room and the available technology ahead of time, or do I need to show up early to do that?
- Is the room too hot, cold or noisy? Have I asked the facility staff for help fixing that before my talk?
Related posts: All our tips for the healthy speaker
UPDATE: I'm happy to say that Andrew Dlugan included this post in his weekly review of the best public speaking articles in the blogosphere. His weekly roundups are a wonderful way to stay up-to-date on tips for your speaking progress.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Buy the Kindle DX
Related posts: Testing the Kindle on the lectern
New Kindle offers more features for speakers
- What's appropriate to the occasion? Considering the place, time of day, what's in the news, the reason for the gathering and other contextual information helps you avoid the inappropriate. For example, I've had to train groups of inner-city teens and parents in presentation skills--and while I dressed professionally, I didn't wear a suit, aiming for a more casual outfit that wouldn't intimidate or distance me from the audience.
- How will the audience see me, going into this? What will their assumptions be about me, based on the little bit of information they'll get before I speak? Will anything about me play into those assumptions--or refute them? Does that make a difference in what I'm going to say? Should it? Will it anyway?
- How do I want the audience to see me--when I begin and when I end? This gets to your goal for connecting with the audience. If you want to persuade them, surprise them, get them to hire you or make them laugh, you may need to consider factors ranging from your appearance and how you dress to how you move and gesture, in addition to your words.
- How do I want to be seen if I'm challenged? Even though there's nearly always an audience member who likes to question the speaker's premise or facts, many speakers avoid considering this. Yet the way you respond to a challenge will tell your audience a lot about you--and sometimes it's not what you want to put across. Do you want to come across as calm and in control? Ready to mix it up? Failing to prepare for this eventuality may mean your presence seems defensive and dismissive.
- How do I want to be seen if I'm complimented? Praise can undermine you just as easily as poison. If your first impulse is to dismiss a compliment, consider how that will make you look as the speaker. If you agree too much, you'll have a different image. Answering this question can help you plan a response that fits your goals.
Can you tell a great personal story? It's one of the most effective ways to get--and hold--your audience's attention. Even more important, the organizers of many speaking opportunities and conferences are looking for great storytellers when they book speakers. The good news: Some of the best venues for public speaking are not only creating opportunities to speak, but sharing the results so you can learn and practice online. Here are three of my favorites you can add to your practice arsenal:
- TED.com, the website of the famous TED conference (TED stands for technology, entertainment, design), which started 25 years ago with a focus on "ideas worth spreading." Speakers are asked to give the talk of their lives, in 18 minutes. (Last year, Bill Gates talked about malaria with a big jar of mosquitoes in his lap...and opened it, releasing them in the room.) The conference is tough to get into, whether as a speaker or an audience member (2010's session is already sold out), but TED is intent on the "spreading" part of its mission, offering all the speeches in free, online videos that come with interactive transcripts of the talks as well as translations into many languages. You also can participate in many spinoff conferences, called TEDx, that take place all over, organized by people in your region or community. TED talks are designed to inspire, poke, ask big questions--and they offer loads of role models for your storytelling practice.
- The Moth, a live storytelling event, started out in New York City and now has touring events, a live StorySLAM in Los Angeles and New York, and MothUp, a program that lets you host a Moth session in your own living room and upload the video online. Moth has a "radio hour" and a downloadable podcast to let you listen to performed stories, and even lets you send them an audio pitch for why you should get to tell your story.
- Ignite takes yet another tack: "Five minutes. 20 slides. What would you say?" says its Baltimore site, and in Seattle, where Ignite began, the motto is "Enlighten us, but make it quick." (Other participating cities include Portland, Paris and Washington, DC.) These self-assembling speaker conferences usually feature a few more than a dozen speakers with pre-set limits (talks usually must be submitted for consideration). You can find video of past performances on each Ignite website, and I'd recommend this as a real practice tool: Setting limits (like 5 minutes and 20 slides) forces you to focus your talk. Can you do it? Watch some of the online videos and give it a try!
Related posts: Tell a story on yourself (featuring audio of a Moth talk by Sir Paul Nurse)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I'm delighted to announce that Stephanie Benoit is the winner of The Eloquent Woman's 15 Weeks to Step Up Your Speaking contest! She works as a manager in a mental health agency in Florida, but has big dreams for her future. As she put it, "This contest is not just a contest to me. For me, it's a vehicle to get me to the next step of achieving my aspirations," which include becoming an author and launching a women's empowerment conference weekend. But, she says, "I often wonder how it is that I could really help and reach people when I'm afraid to open my mouth." Building up her confidence as a speaker and overcoming that fear is Stephanie's biggest priority. "One-on-one, I'm great at talking, but the thought of speaking to a crowd of people frightens me and I know that I will never be able to make the impact that I desire if I can't put those fears behind me and master this important skill," she says.
Given that fear, her ability to post a video online and submit the entry are impressive, indeed. Stephanie added a quotation to her entry essay that sums up where she is right now: "Until the pain of staying the same exceeds the pain of change, you'll never change." We'll try to make sure this learning process isn't painful!
In addition to winning a Flip MinoHD Camcorder that will help her send videos to this blog (and practice her speaking), Stephanie will be getting 15 weeks of coaching from me, right on the blog. We'll follow the program outlined here, and I hope you'll follow along and share encouragement and tips with Stephanie as we go forward. We'll begin the coaching in September and conclude it in December.
Related: Get your own Flip MinoHD Camcorder
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Just last night I was at a dinner party and faced with the usual question: "What do you do for work?" The first thing that came out of my mouth was a laugh, as though I was just asked the most awkward question in existence. Truthfully, there is nothing awkward in what I do as a wildlife specialist; the awkwardness comes from explaining it to others. How do you tell someone who works in advertising or human resources that I pull brainstems out of dead deer to test for Chronic Wasting Disease? ....Last night's audience got a toned down description of my various tasks, and I opted to elaborate on the less gruesome jobs that I do throughout the year. Nonetheless, I made it very clear how I feel about my job and why I think the work I do is important.If this sounds familiar, it's worth taking the time to come up with a few short, simple explanations of your work and practice them. You'll then be able to feel more confident explaining your work, even in small settings--and that's a great stepping stone for the larger audience occasions to come.
- An electronic document reader like the Kindle, Amazon's 6-inch wireless reading device, or the Kindle DX, Amazon's 9.7 device. They'd take up a lot of my hypothetical $1000 budget, but will let you make notes, import documents (like speeches and notes) and carry them all without fluttering any pages. And you can have the device read your speeches to you to hear how they sound.
- A good timer/stopwatch combination, like the Polder 898-95 Clock, Timer and Stopwatch, so you can keep tabs on your remaining time, and test yourself on how long your presentation or talk runs when you practice.
- Some inspiration for your speaking, such as Secrets Of Superstar Speakers: Wisdom from the Greatest Motivators of Our Time, which shares top speakers' tips and encouragement.
- A lectern, whether it's a small desktop model or the full-length version. There are all sorts of lecterns that may be useful if you expect to present in formal speaking settings. It's well worth it to have one to practice with.
- A video camera with which to practice or record your actual presentations, so you can see how you do. I'm a big fan of the ultralight Flip UltraHD Camcorder and in September, you also can check out the new Kodak Zi8 HD Pocket Video Camera, which includes a microphone jack for better recording options. Don't forget to add accessories like a small tripod so you can record yourself, by yourself.
- Glib sayings from other, more famous speakers: I like Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists for this purpose, but there are plenty of books with quotations and inspiration to help you. Find some new favorites!
- Books for speakers recommended on this blog: You can find them in the Amazon box in the right-hand column, or on this list of books we like for women speakers.
Because Amazon offers such a wide range of products, I hope you won't limit yourself in this hypothetical spree. Get creative and let me know what speakers want, need and covet! Share your lists in the comments section.
Related posts: Testing the Kindle on the lectern
Features on the new Kindle that aid speakers
The speaker's wish list: practice tools
Clearing the clutter of technical terms will not only make it easier for you to express yourself, but will ease the way for your listeners, too. I think it's essential for scientific and academic speakers to use simple, clear words when reaching a wider audience. I've been fortunate to facilitate the American Association for the Advancement of Science workshops for scientists on communicating science and to coach technical speakers from all fields. To find out more, email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz. Related posts: Don't trip over your charismatic megafauna
Time and again, as I reviewed the assignments from the students, I came across words would fit comfortably in a textbook or a scientific paper, but, like an invasive insect, wreaked havoc when they were introduced into a piece of writing intended for the wide world....If you talk to them face-to-face, they will never say, “I utilized my spear gun.” But somehow they can’t avoid using utilize when they are writing, when use will do just fine....What’s most important about pushing people to use plain English is that they will have an easier time expressing the passion and poetry of the scientific life.
Carolyn Bertozzi, chemist and a top woman speaker
Monday, August 17, 2009
Jacqueline Novogratz founded and leads the Acumen Fund, which approaches nonprofit work--in this case, global humanitarian aid--with bottom-up, business tactics. I want you to watch this video from the TED conference paying particular attention to the story she tells at the beginning about her blue sweater. It's a compelling opening, just the kind of start you should plan for your next speech. Why?
- She paints a visual picture of it with words. I can see that sweater without any pictures, slides or drawings.
- She shares her feelings, moving us with quick but powerful descriptions of how she loved, then loathed the sweater as a child and a young woman. Her voice adds emotional emphasis just where she needs it, and she takes the time to talk about ceremoniously throwing it away with her mother. A touch of humor helps, too, as she looks back on her younger self.
- She connects it with a moment of inspiration. Persuasion is the secret sauce of eloquent speakers, a factor that's included in nearly every definition of eloquence. We need to know--particularly if you represent a cause--what motivates you to work on that issue or with those people, why you do it, where you get your inspiration. The moment she found her sweater in Africa years later provides that in this speech.
- She connects it to the present and her work. All the emotion and persuasion in this speech opener has a purpose. It's not just there to warm hearts, but to introduce the meat of this talk. Bringing the audience quickly through her story and telling us how it informs her work today brings us to the real point of her talk--something you, too, should plan into your presentations.
Planning a strong, personal opening like this one makes an enormous difference in securing your audience's attention from the start. Whether you speak on behalf of a cause or just want to share your passion about your work, this is a great video to learn from. As with all the TED conference talks, you can go to this link for the video, an interactive transcript, downloads and more.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
If you want to get more “web mileage” our of your PowerPoint presentations, you’ve got to prepare a few key elements to assist your viewership in sharing your message. There are three basic rules to turbo-charging the viral marketing potential of your speaking event:
1. Boil down your key points into 140-character size messages. By summarizing your primary headlines into tweetable chunks of text, you are hand-feeding your listeners to tweet your remarks. You can also draft quotes that illustrate your point into the 140-character format for the same purpose. The bottom line is if it’s short and sweet, it is easier to tweet!
2. Use hashtags! Most conference attendees these days have their laptops and cell phones handy, so you don’t think it rude if your listeners are doing double duty in your session. Instead, encourage them to tweet about your presentation and offer them a unique hashtag to create a buzz on Twitter. For the uninitiated, a hashtag is the number symbol used in front of an acronym, as in #tweetspeech or #smarttalk. So while you are offering gems of wisdom (in tweetable format), you are also helping your listeners to circulate those gems with an identifiable stamp.
3. Use links! Just as hashtags help tweeters to find your comments and locate fellow presentation attendees, URL links help everyone to source you, your citations, reference materials, and other people who are noteworthy to your speaking topic. While you are building your speech, think about links that make sense and help your audience get a fuller picture of what you are talking about. Use humor and photography to get your point across too. Make every effort to refine your presentation into something memorable.
For the ultimate Triple Tweet Effect, combine rules 1, 2, and 3. Example: If it’s short and sweet, it is easier to tweet. #Tweetable http://u.nu/868u. Make every presentation a tweetable moment.
Related posts: Better ways to Twitter your meeting
Tweeting at meetings gets controversial
Inviting live tweets at your meeting
Women are rubbish at driving...sports...science, engineering and technology, manual labour, electronics, computers, at being chefs (despite being expected to cook for the family), at competition, at debates (despite apparently being so argumentative), at giving speeches (despite apparently never being able to stop talking)… the list goes on (nearly) ad infinitum....How can half of the population of the world be naturally, innately worse than the other half at practically everything? The answer is: we are not! ....The truth of the matter is that for each skill or activity, some women are worse than some men, some men are worse than some women, some women are worse than some women and some men are worse than some men. It’s pretty logical, really.Author Wisrutta Atthakor ends the piece by pointing out the accomplishments made by women in the past to fight for things like the right to speak in public, as inspiration to today's would-be engineers.
Related posts: Who talks more: Men or women?
Do you have any favorite quotations about women and public speaking--by men or women? Here's one of mine:
History has many themes. One of them is that women should be quiet. (Kathleen Hall Jamieson, in Eloquence in an Electronic Age)
I'd love to compile your suggestions for a future project on the blog. Leave your suggestions in the comments and if you have a reference source, include that as well! I'm looking forward to your suggestions.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
- Anna Chatzimichali says she speaks in academic conferences and wondered if she was "a minority here." Not so! Lots of Eloquent Woman readers are scientists and academics. For good resources in your speaking area, check out the American Association for the Advancement of Science Communicating Science website for videos, articles and more, including signups for the workshops I lead on the topic for AAAS. Burroughs Wellcome Fund also publishes this free guide on giving talks for scientists.
- Linda Hillman, an entrant in our contest, reports that she speaks "mostly in a church, classroom setting. I love being up in front of people with a message, information they need." If you're speaking in a church setting, you may want to check out the very short book, Words Fitly Spoken: Public Speaking for Women in Ministry.
- Emily Culbertson sums it up for many of us: Meetings. "Most of my speaking is in work meetings and (especially) conference calls of between three to 10 people. The remainder is to groups of about 30-50," she says. A great reference book on the topic, specific for women, is Women Speaking Up: Getting and Using Turns in Workplace Meetings.
Please feel free to add more speaker settings in the comments. I'd like to keep track of the different situations women speakers face, and offer tips designed to meet those special needs.
Related posts: Speaker situations: Tour guide
Monday, August 10, 2009
- Improve pace and clarity: Entrant Robin Kendall notes: "I think a coach would help me speed up my pace so I can sound smart and sharp, but not like I am nervously chattering, or overdosed on caffeine. I don’t want to sound fake. Speaking more eloquently and at a smooth pace would keep the audience’s attention, too. Often a more aggressive speaker will interrupt me and hijack the conversation so that I don’t get to finish my point."
- Work on how I control my voice: Emily Deck wants to work on her voice--on tone, inflection, pitch and projection--so she can "sound authoritative but not condescending." She also wants to learn how to control her voice in times of emotion. In her video, Kendall mentions vocal variety, changing her pitch and tone to sound more engaging.
- Eyes on eye contact: Those audience members! Deck says she gets "tripped up if I look at someone too long or get nervous when they smile at me, or if I see a client or friend...I lose my train of thought and stumble." Mary Fletcher Jones notes that "eye contact makes me fluttery, especially when I make eye contact with someone in the audience and they don't smile back or worse yet they're playing with their BlackBerry." Stephanie Benoit agrees she needs to work on it, too: "I know that about myself, I just don't know what to do about it."
- Having a focused message: "I want to get out there and just talk," says Deck. "I admire that in people." For Deck that means working without props, using movement and gestures to stay on track without slides or other aids. Jones wants to work on her over-reliance on slides: "I keep my eyes on them like they're going to walk out of the room--it's less nerve-wracking than looking at the audience." And Benoit puts it a different way, wanting to speak at a moment's notice without sounding unprepared.
- Confidence and control: Benoit watches other, more confident speakers. "I wish I knew how to do that...to be a speaker others want to listen to." Linda Hillman observes that "you can always tell what's going on by my face and by my body language," and wants help bringing those under control, using facial expressions and gestures, but in a focused way.
- Stay focused and avoid tangents: Kendall wants to "keep on one point at a time...when I speak I often go off on tangents. I need to talk about one thing at a time and not jump from one topic to another, no matter how interesting I think the connection might be." Mary Jane Mahan also wants to narrow her focus when speaking.
- Q&A, baby: "I want to improve the way I interview, including telephone interviews...and to address answering questions directly and positively," says Kendall. Handling audience questions also made it to Mahan's top three priorities; in a related area, Mahan also wants to know how to read an audience, for example, to "know how to bring them back in" when she's losing them. Connecting with the audience also is among Hillman's top goals.
- Thinking while talking: Jones notes that she says "um almost every other word when I get nervous. I'm not aware when I'm doing it."
- Appearance and image: Like many of our entrants, Hillman sees herself as her brand, and wants to know what to do to make sure her appearance underscores the messages she wants to send as a speaker.
We've got our work cut out for us with this list of priorities! Entries are now with the judges. What are your top priorities to step up your speaking?
Related posts: What to do when you're losing the audience
Saturday, August 8, 2009
All the more reason, then, for giving attention to how you get others to pay attention. The trick is to show movement on the issues that matter while, for each issue, helping your key stakeholders grasp the meaning of what you're aiming to achieve — why the goal matters to the team or the organization and how we're going to get from here to there.Friedman offers six elements that make for a good, short leadership story. Can you translate yours briefly and post it in the comments?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
- When you're starting out and want to advance faster: No need to wait until you're senior--in fact, you have fewer bad habits to unlearn early in your career. Gaining presentation and speaking skills now can rev up your promotion chances.
- It's your first big speech: Never delivered a formal speech to a big audience? No better time, then, to seek out training and learn how to do it right from the get-go. The same is true for any especially important or high-pressure presentation.
- After a promotion: If your new role will require you to present, chair meetings or be more externally connected, make the case for training when your promotion's negotiated, and take advantage of it right away. It signals you're serious about your new role, and you can put the learning to use to establish yourself.
- When you become a manager: If you've made it to manager without speaker training, invest in it now. It will help not only with major presentations, but also with handling questions, responding thoughtfully and shaping the messages you want to inspire others.
- When you take on a volunteer leadership role: Been elected president of your professional organization or in line to take over? This is a great opportunity to be visible in your broader professional community--and you'll have plenty of times when you're expected to speak extemporaneously, chair meetings or introduce others. You'll have more impact if you take the time to develop a message for your leadership year, and learn how to put it across, to make the most of your visible role.
- When you're starting your own venture or launching a job hunt: You'll need to be able to describe your business, or your career goals, in all manner of situations, from formal to on-the-fly. Developing a message, building your speaking confidence, and extemporaneous skills are a must.
If I can help you with speaker coaching and training for the next step in your career, email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.
Related posts: What to ask a trainer
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
- Show rather than say: British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said, "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't," and I agree: Anytime you have to announce what you are, the impact of your statement is lost with your audience. Don't say you're chairing, in charge or otherwise a leader--that should be obvious from your introduction, your manner and your behavior.
- Control your reactions: Those might be your facial expressions, a physical reaction--like swinging your head around quickly or gesturing broadly--or verbal reactions. Psychologists will tell you that the only thing you can control in an interaction with others is how you react, so do it. Practice composing your face and hands to appear calm, relaxed and friendly. Listen to questions or comments, no matter how extreme, quietly and in control. If need be, practice some time-buying phrases to help you think while you talk, rather than react off the cuff.
- Posture makes perfect: The confident speaker stands tall, not hunched or too relaxed. She's ready to walk into the audience (which looks very confident), take a question or lead us further into her presentation. Make sure your shoulders are rolled down and into your back, your hands are ready to gesture, and your stance is comfortable and strongly positioned.
- Ditch the usual props: The most confident-looking speaker can leave the lectern behind (or lean on it), stop reading from a text and just talk to her audience, and handle Q&A without note cards. Here's my training trick: Practice one of these techniques at a time and incorporate it slowly into your speaking forays, then add another and another.
- Modulate your voice:Louder does not equal more powerful--in fact, the opposite may be true. You'll seem more in control, and thus, more powerful, if you can be seen to restrain your reaction. And certainly, part of controlling your reactions means not trying to one-up the loud or argumentative speaker. Think of relaxed, humorous, yet appropriate reactions, along the lines of Ronald Reagan's gentle riposte, "There you go again," a subtle way to chide a questioner politely.
Lecterns: Use 'em or lose 'em
Monday, August 3, 2009
Related posts: Graceful ways with Q&A
Sunday, August 2, 2009
- Testing yourself as a speaker is tops: Our 15 Weeks to Step Up Your Speaking contest was this month's most popular post, far and away--July was the month to mull and prepare your entries. We've got a great group of entrants and you'll be reading more about them in August.
- Q&A wins the day: You may have practiced your presentation, but what about those questions from the audience? It's not just the extemporaneous speaking portion, but the chance the Qs will throw you off your topic. Two readers asked for help on this and the result is the Graceful Ways with Q&A post, our 2nd most-popular July offering.
- Readers rule: Seven readers shared with us their answers to this question: What's the best speaking advice you've received--and put into actual use? And you sought out their suggestions!
- Speaking fear inspires a CEO: We pointed you to a profile of Carol Smith, senior VP of the Elle Group, who says she's "most proud" of overcoming her fear of public speaking.
- Secretaries, listen up: In a month of inspiring posts, we caught this speech opener by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who talks about how she was almost steered into a clerical position, but made it to the Cabinet. It's a great opening line and a moving inspiration.
- Words DO matter: This funny video animaton debunks the "Mehrabian myth" that says your audience focuses most on what they see, not what you say. But it's not quite that easy--check this out!
- Say it out loud: To mark the 4th of July, the U.S. Independence Day, we use National Public Radio's reading of the Declaration of Independence as a vocalizing exercise--a great way to practice on a text other than your own.
- Ginsberg tells all: Do you get ignored in meetings or hear others claim your ideas as their own well after you brought the thought up? Know that no less a powerhouse than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg understands what you're experiencing.
- More role models: We can't get enough video examples for you to watch of top women speakers online, so enjoy these new videos from Mashable's top 7 places to watch great minds in action.
- CEO says go on speaking: Kenneth Cole CEO Jill Granoff rounds out this month's inspiration, talking about how speaking and presenting advanced her career.