Tips and Techniques for Speeches and Presentations

How to make a speech 'sizzle'

1. Preparation - fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

-Preparation and practice: research and prepare your speech well in advance and rehearse it at least five times in front of the mirror or until you feel you know it. Great speakers know their speech inside out but look as if they are delivering their words off the cuff. Knowing and being comfortable with your 'lines' means you can focus on eye contact, delivery and engaging with your audience.

-PowerPoint and other support materials: never rely on these or use them as a crutch. Your slides or audio-visual materials should support and help illustrate what you are saying but never be a substitute for you. The best way to test how reliant you are on these aids is to ask yourself what would happen if your PowerPoint broke down - would you be able to continue effectively without it? If you couldn't, you need to kick the habit and re-think your presentation.

-Tailor your material to your audience: if it's an after dinner speech, you need lots of humour. If you are speaking on an expert subject, make it informative, interesting and engaging.

-Keep it short and entertaining: 10 minutes is enough to keep people riveted and leave them wanting more! Use the remaining time up in your question and answer session. Think about it, who ever complained about a speech being too short?

-Test-drive your speech: on a partner or close friend and ask them for feedback and timing.

Check your microphone and equipment works: there's nothing like a technical hitch to put you off your game so make sure everything's in working order and audio levels and feedback issues have been checked so that your audience can hear you.

2. Speech-writing and delivery tips and techniques

-Use an attention-grabbing title: apart from hooking and attracting people to hear you speak, a good headline grabs people's attention, gets them curious and interested and can help build the event and the audience's excitement.

-Plain English: the best speakers bring simple language to life. Don't alienate and bamboozle your audience with jargon, management speak or pretentious and complicated technical speak. People who do this either don't understand their subject well enough to communicate it in simple terms or have had a creative by-pass' and are born to be boring. Here's a great example of meaningless, alienating twaddle: "Neoclassical endogenous growth theory and a symbiotic relationship between investment in people and infrastructure." - Gordon Brown, former British prime minister

-Opening and closing lines should pack a punch: metaphors, drama and using misdirection make great speech openers and ice-breakers and are a powerful way to hook your audience, link to your message and set up the key points you want to make.

-Pause to create dramatic effect. It will keep people listening and give your speech impact and energy. Remember, to also pause before you start speaking, it's a great way to calm you and your audience.

-Pace: don't rush your words but also don't be afraid to change the pace of your speech to add emphasis, drama and impact to your message. It will also help to keep your audience engaged.

-Pitch: occasionally alter the volume and tone of your delivery. Speaking quieter or louder and being more cheerful or more serious all adds dramatic effect and keeps the attention of your audience.

-Enthusiasm: if you are enthusiastic about your subject, then your audience will be too. Enthusiasm gives a speech energy and strength so don't leave home without it.

Eye-contact engages your audience. Create spots in the room at the back, sides, centre and front of your audience and run your eyes regularly across them. Find three or four individuals in different parts of the room that you can direct the occasional line and hand-gesture to.

-Hand movements: which help you express your words and meaning are great, but make sure they look natural. We've seen some pretty silly-looking CEOs gesturing like manic robots because they've been told to do so by their PRs. It looks hilarious and turns you into a complete 'wally' and 'chump' in the eyes of your audience and the people you want to impress and influence!

-Move about if you can: if you have the room to move about and use the floorspace where you are speaking, do it. It's a great way of keeping people's attention, particularly if you've got a dry topic. It also allows you to make your presentation more upfront, close and personal for your listeners.

3. Structure and content of a speech

-Start with a structure: decide on what your main message is and then start breaking it down into three key points you want to make. These can be further broken down depending on how much detail you want.

-In short: the beginning should tell your audience what you are going to say, the middle: telling the story and the ending: telling them what you've said.

-Tell people something new, interesting and memorable.

Bring the story to life with examples and real-life experiences: a great way to get people listening to you is to weave a relevant stories or examples of yours or other people's experiences which bring the presentation to life for the listener.

-Incorporate memorable 'one liners' and colourful metaphors: these help to grab the readers attention, keep them interested in what you are saying and make your speech memorable. Here are some example: "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail," Speak softly and carry a big stick and you will go far." - Theodore Roosevelt

-Use short, sharp sentences for dramatic effect. Examples of short sentences: 'Failure is not an option' and 'The time is now'.

-Apply positive adjectives and adverbs. Instead of for example: "We face many challenges" say "We face many exciting challenges"; or "We will work on our problems" but "We will work together to solve our problems".

-Use alliteration to make words memorable and quotable: for example: 'Broadband Britain', 'Britain's best business bank', 'the digital divide', and 'formidable, fashionable, functional.'

-Make comparisons: with other organisations, competitors and people's situational experiences and highlight what can be learned from them.

-Use three-part sentences to create dramatic effect. This technique is called a 'tricolon', for example: 'Government of the people, by the people, and for the people' and 'We came, we saw, we conquered'.

-Repeat your key words for dramatic effect. British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill's famous speech is a good example: 'We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fighton the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets...'

-Use memorable one-liners. For example: "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." - Sir Winston Churchill

-Opening witticisms: these are good for warming-up the audience at the start of your speech or presentation. Here are some good examples: "I don't mind how much my minister's talk, as long as they do what I say." - former British prime minster Margaret Thatcher.

-End with a high impact statement: that reinforces your opening line. If for example, you were delivering a speech on the importance of business change, you might end with a famous quote: "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." - George Bernard Shaw, and "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." - James Baldwin.

4. Don't apologise for being there!

Your audience has great expectations of you, don't disappoint them at the first hurdle by telling them you aren't very good at speaking, that you don't know why you've been asked to speak, that you are nervous or any other excuse.

Transcribing Speeches - Phrases To Avoid

Speech transcription is a valuable tool for keeping a record of what exactly was said at a seminar, classroom lecture or speech. Once the spoken word is turned into a readable format, it becomes easy for listeners to review what they heard.

In some professions, such as law, transcription is vital. This is especially true during court proceedings, when a line of witnesses may be questioned in relation to a case. The transcription method that you choose, and the type of data that you want to include/exclude from the transcript depends on your profession and goals. For example, a student may want only a brief summary of what was taught in an academic lecture, while an anthropologist or linguist may want to include details about the length of vowels, pitch or volume, as well. This article advises you on how to transcribe general speeches and seminars.

Avoiding Unnecessary Utterances

If you compare a prepared script for a speech, with a transcript of the speech that was actually delivered, you will be able to clearly see the difference between written and spoken English. In some cases, the difference between the written speech and what was spoken can be immense, as speakers often ad-lib while speaking, giving their listeners spontaneous examples and quotations.

Many transcribers often unnecessarily include self-referential expressions like 'as you will' and 'so to speak' in their transcribed writing. This is known as word patronage. This section shows you how to inspect your writing for anything that smacks of spoken English, and modify it to sound more professional.

Spontaneous speech is usually riddled with qualifications and equivocations. While transcribing a speech recording into an essay, it may be easy to get rid of utterances like 'er, um, uh, well or you know'. However, it is important for writers to also purge their writing of other unnecessary utterances, words or phrases; which while adding immensely to the word count, may not provide much to an argument or description.

Here is a list of some common hedging phrases, which transcribers and writers should consider omitting from prose:

  • As I see it
  • From my point of view
  • In my opinion
  • It seems to me
  • Be that as it may
  • Other things being equal

While such sentence fillers are understandable in spoken English, whether rehearsed or impromptu, they are actually quite meaningless words usually uttered when the speaker was trying to collect his or her thoughts, and thinking of what to say next. Such phrases usually clutter a speech, and often confuse or discourage the listener. As readers expect speech transcripts to be direct and dynamic, content writers should avoid using such self-gratifying phrases in the written form.

Today, the development of transcription software and services has made transcription much faster and easier to do than before. No longer do people have to sit by a tape recorder, typing down text on a typewriter. One can just use transcription software or hire a transcription services company, and get the hard work done quickly and efficiently.

Master the Microphone - Become a More Professional Speaker

Speakers should practice at home using a microphone and when one is available for a performance, use it. Many speakers will avoid the use of a mic because they don't know how to use it. The use of a microphone is to the advantage of the speaker and to the audience. Without a microphone, the voice can't be varied enough to get that personal tone, friendly and persuasive. If a microphone is used properly, a speaker can use a softer voice and can better emphasize the points of the speech.

A microphone, properly used, mellows and enhances the voice. The microphone, along with amplifiers, speakers and other attached equipment, changes the entire tenor of a presentation. You can lessen the strain on your voice if you will let the microphone do the work for which it was invented.

When I present a program to a small group where a sound system is not available or when I don't have an accompanist, I bring my portable karaoke machine, a microphone stand and a microphone which can be used as a hand-held unit That allows me to get closer to my audience. Never approach such a karaoke unit with an open mic because it will screech at you. If you approach, be sure to hold the mic away from the unit or switch the mic off.

How should you test a microphone? I guess you would blow into it or tap on it - right? Wrong! Never tap a mic or blow in it, especially if it's mine. Tapping on the mic or blowing in it may damage it. You should arrive early for every presentation so you will have time to check out the room setup and the sound equipment. The mic is an important part of that equipment. You may find a custodian, a technician or the person who sets up and operates the equipment to help you test the mike. If you can't find anyone like that, ask some audience members in different parts of the room to give you feedback as you test the microphone.

The microphone stand may need to be raised or lowered. This sounds simple, but not all microphone stands are alike. Some stands have buttons, some have to be twisted. Some need a lot of strength to be moved. I usually try to find a man when strength is needed because men have all the right muscles You may need to adjust the height to suit you so get acquainted with the procedure so you can adjust it without fumbling.. Make sure you can do this task with ease so that if you have to deal with that before you begin your speech, you will not be awkward in your effort.

The turning on or off of a a microphone seems simple enough - turn it on when you begin and off when you finish. If you use the mic as a hand-held unit, place the unit back on the stand when you finish. Learn to do this smoothly. Be sure that the microphone is on before you begin to speak. Although these actions are not complicated, you would be surprised how many performers forget to do them We have all heard the embarrassment of someone saying something confidential which everyone can hear because the mic was left open.

Speakers and performers should keep the mouth close to the microphone, whether they use it as a hand-held unit or on the stand. Singers should remember to keep the mouth close to the mic, But when the high note comes, the microphone must be moved slightly away from the mouth or if the mic is on a stand, the singer should step back a little or the note might come out strident.

Remember - the microphone is your friend. Time spent learning its proper use is worthwhile.

Courses in Public Speaking - Top 10 Things You Should Know Before Presenting Your Speech

While the exact content or tone of public speeches may vary, many of the top communication skills and techniques are the same.
Students that take courses in public speaking tend to learn the following ten tips and techniques, to help improve their confidence and delivery.

1. Practice your speech in front of an audience. Before the big day, it can be helpful to practice your speaking and presentation skills in front of friends or family members for support and feedback.

2. Test your audio and visual equipment ahead of time. A common reason why presentations can go wrong is with faulty equipment. This will help you focus solely on your speech, without worrying about the visual aids.

3. Make your speech fun for the audience. Presentation skills courses will help you to try to connect with the audience, using humor when necessary or relaying facts that are relevant to their lives. This will help keep them interested in your message.

4. Focus on a strong opener. Courses in public speaking will help you learn how to begin your speech with a way to capture your audience's attention. A startling fact, a personal story, or amusing anecdotes are all good ways to achieve this.

5. Practice your delivery. A good speaking skill is the ability to deliver your speech with a confident, yet conversational tone. You don't want to sound like you are preaching to your audience.

6. Don't forget about body language. Well-placed gestures can draw the audience into your message and help emphasize a point.

7. Slow down. A major factor that you will notice through your courses in public speaking is the tendency for amateur speakers to rush their speech, usually due to nervousness.

8. Don't apologize to your audience. If you make a mistake, just keep speaking. Chances are that no one will even have noticed your flub, and if they do, it will make you appear more confident if you keep going.

9. Anticipate your audience. Any information that you can gather ahead of time on your audience will help you tailor your speech to their needs.

10. Videotape or record your presentation. It's remarkable how much you can learn from courses in public speaking and when watching your own speech later. This will help you make adjustments if you are speaking too fast, using pauses inappropriately, or making other mistakes that you might not be aware of at the time.

The best courses in public speaking allow students to work at their own pace. This is why speaking courses that are downloadable can be so helpful, as they often include speaking tips and techniques available from public speaking experts.

10 Sure-Fire Steps to Writing a Speech Outline

Your boss has asked you to give a speech at the annual meeting. Now you wonder why you accepted. Panic is setting in; what should you do? To get started, prepare an outline. Your confidence will increase the more you think through your message before getting behind the podium. Here are ten simple steps for writing an effective speech outline.

1. Use a two-to-five-word phrase to describe the topic of your speech. Make sure the phrase is broad enough to cover the topic and narrow enough to stay focused.

2. Turn the theme into a full sentence. For example, 'the courage of dissent,' while a great theme, is not a sentence because it lacks a verb. You could write, 'In a world stressing community responsibility, leaders must remember the value of dissent.' When you turn the theme into a sentence, it becomes your thesis statement.

3. Ask a question about the thesis. Usually several questions come to mind. Take for example the question, 'Why?' Why is dissent so important? That question may lead to a message about individual freedom and ethics. The question, 'what?' would lead to a definition of the concept of dissent. For our example, we'll use the question, 'How?'

4. Answer the question with a key word. What are some single-word answers that come to mind? I think of 'ways,' 'means,' 'forms,' 'manners,' and so on. The word you use to answer the question is your classification key word. It will always be plural because it represents a group of things. For our example, let's take the key word 'forms.'

5. Turn your key word into a transitional sentence. This sentence will describe the main points of your speech. Here is a possible transitional sentence formulated from our key word 'forms': 'The need for dissent may appear in various forms throughout your leadership career.'

6. Prepare from two to six main points (three will often make a balanced message). Each of your main points fits into the classification described by your key word. In our example, each point will be a 'form' of dissent.
(1) Leaders oppose immorality.
(2) Leaders defend the weak.
(3) Leaders resist corruption.
(4) Leaders struggle against their own inner demons.

7. Under each of your main points, add supporting points. Avoid adding material that has nothing to do with the main point. Take the second point above: 'Leaders defend the weak.' Your supporting points might be expressed as follows:
A. The crowd does not defend the weak.
B. Government does not defend the weak.
C. Business does not defend the weak.
D. The weak cannot defend themselves.

8. Write your conclusion. The conclusion is the place where you bring everything to a center and where you appeal to your audience to do something.

9. Write your introduction. This may sound counter-intuitive but you can't tell people where you are going until you know yourself. Most of your introduction is already written because it includes the thesis statement and transitional sentence. Add a gripping story and your introduction is ready.

10. Finally, rehearse your delivery. Go through your outline several times, aloud, until you become familiar with your own voice. When you give your speech, don't read your outline. Relax. Look people in the eyes. The message you have outlined will flow like a conversation.

Markers, Stickers and a Long Table: A "Just-In-Time" Learning Activity

It can be a real nightmare for a trainer when participants complete learning activities much more quickly than anticipated.

I found myself in that predicament this week when I was facilitating a workshop on "Managing Your Stress and Time Before They Manage You!" Two activities that were each supposed to take an hour were completed in one hour. There was an entire hour calling for additional content.

For the last exercise, the participants had paired up to take turns discussing how they had handled a very stressful situation earlier in their lives. When they came back from their break, they were then to discuss the keys to their success with other pairs at their tables.

My original plan was to conclude this activity by having each table report out their composite keys to successfully handling stress. However, I knew from feedback about the Creativity workshop they had attended the previous day that the participants really enjoyed creating projects.

Luckily, we were in a room that had a very long table at the front. It occurred to me that we could deepen their learning and make the report out activity much more interesting if, rather than verbally reporting their keys to successful stress management, the groups drew them on flip chart paper.

During the break, I laid out five pieces of flip chart paper on the table in a way that the groups would have sufficient room to work. I had three boxes of Mr. Sketch Scented Markers, which made it possible for me to place a nice variety of colors next to each piece of paper.

When the participants returned to the room, I gave them 10 minutes to discuss the pairs' results and 20 minutes to draw a picture that depicted their table's ideas.

You should have heard the energy and enthusiasm in the room as they met with their tables to discuss their results and then to plan what their drawing would be- and who would draw it. The participants in one or two groups took turns drawing on the paper and then labeling what they had drawn. Some groups volunteered someone to do the drawing and then stood around that person to offer additional ideas.

The drawings they came up with were wonderfully creative and insightful. The representatives from each table who described their table's drawing also had a lot of fun giving their reports to frequent applause.

The drawings were so good, in fact, that I was able to use them for an additional activity. It just so happens that I had also brought along a package of happy face stickers

I took the five pictures and hung them on the walls to create a gallery walk. Then the participants were instructed to take the stickers and place them next to the stress handling strategies on each drawing that would be most practical and useful to them in the future.

When they completed the gallery walk, I asked the participants to write down on an action plan the stress handling strategies they had selected.

It was serendipity that the table was long enough for the five groups to spread out and that I had the markers and stickers with me. This ended up being a wonderful accelerated learning activity that built on what they already knew and added to it in a highly interactive, creative and colorful manner.

In the future, I plan to bring stickers, index cards, envelopes, and markers so that I have materials to create additional learning activities when necessary. I also definitely plan to incorporate this learning activity into future workshops on a variety of topics.

Digging For Laughs: Sources Of Humor For Public Speakers

How was your last speech received by your audience? If you talked with them an hour, a day, or even a week after you gave the speech no matter how good their listening skills were, do you think that they would remember what you had said? If the answer is no, then you've got some work to do. I have some good news for you, don't worry about learning new presentation tips - fixing this problem might be as simple as adding some humor to your speech.

You Are The Funniest Subject

Often when we want to add humor to our speeches, we'll go on a hunt looking for topics that we believe that our audience will find funny. The truth is that one of the funniest topics is already staring back at us when we look in the mirror: ourselves.

We have all had a unique set of life experiences that have gotten us to where we are. We also go through a set of routines each and every day that our audience probably also goes through. We can draw from both of these groups of experiences and by adding just a bit of exaggeration we can transform events from our past into humorous moments for our audience.

Boys vs. Girls Always Gets A Laugh

No matter how hard we try to be sensitive to the other gender, it seems like we are always making mistakes. These mistakes more often than not result in miscommunications or misunderstandings between men and women.

Considering the fact that your audience will probably be made up of both genders, using the types of miscommunications that can occur between genders is a great source of humorous material. Everyone will have had a similar experience and so getting your audience to laugh will be very easy.

Read The Newspaper, Get A Laugh

The key to creating humorous material that will really get a laugh out of your audience is to make it as topical as possible - use current events whenever possible. Your local newspaper or TV channels are a great source of this type of material.

The trick to making this type of humor source work for you is to be careful to make sure that everyone in the audience will be aware of the story that you will be referencing. Stay away from the industry specific stories if you have a general audience. Try to stick with the stories that have made the front page of your newspaper.

What All Of This Means For You

We all know about the importance of public speaking and so we want each of our speeches to be remembered by our audience. One of the most effective tools that a public speaker has is humor. The more humor that you can pack into your next speech, the better the chances are that your audience will be able to remember what you said. All of this means that you're going to have to find good sources of humor that you can use.

I've got good news for you: great humor for your next speech is all around you. It turns out that poking fun at yourself is a great way to get your audience to laugh. The differences between men and women is another fantastic source of humor material. Finally, just by opening a newspaper you can find a lot of comedy in current events.

It takes time, energy, and effort to work humor into a speech. It's worth the effort because of the benefits of public speaking. The results of working humor into your next speech make this well worth the effort. Next time that you are asked to give a speech, take some time and do some digging - the humor that you find will make your next speech just that much better!

Silence Is Golden - Why?

Homo sapiens' have received unique qualities which make them stand apart from plants and animals. The different senses inherited during birth continue till the last moment of life. However, there is something more unique in human beings- silence.

It is considered gold- a pure metal obtained from the interiors of Earth. It is pure like gold hidden in the depth of brain. The brain is the storehouse of thinking power which sends the message to stay quiet in a given situation.

Silence is nurtured bit by bit. It is quite difficult to sit silent in an extremely provocative situation. Regular verbal bashes often disturb the mindset and person is forced to speak out. Sometimes, the so-called quietness gets punished due to unhealthy and uncalled-for revelation of thoughts or speech. It becomes difficult to hold back the words when the level of intolerance reaches peak. Not silence but violence takes the position and destroys the peace spontaneously.

One of the main ingredients of the so-called tranquility is tolerance. If you are able to bear things despite odd situations, you can win the battle. Physical use of body or mental use of words could have detrimental effects in case things are not under control in a given situation. The person may fall flat or get over the odds. However, it is always important to remain silent in order to stop the environment being converted into the arena of gladiators. The words are very damaging to self-respect and can take a toll on self-confidence too. Where a person is mentally strong and possesses the strength to overpower the situation using his mind, the concept of silence stands in forefront.

Apart from tolerance, this tranquility teaches the art of facing odds with smile. It is one of the most difficult tasks as your monetary and non-monetary needs are at stake. However, to give a pragmatic and precise response to opponent, it is important to attack from all fronts rather than mouth. It is often said "Thundering clouds seldom rain". Rain affects each and every part of the Earth when the drops touch the land. Clouds make sound but don't affect the farms in case there is no rain.

Quietness could teach one of the best lessons of all times. Prepare yourself for all eventualities. It is always possible to answer someone directly and show off strength. However, the worth of strength is measured in the battle between two rivals.

Silence is considered a weapon of peace. If you are silent, you make your intentions clear to your opponent. It would encourage him to respond accordingly. Most of the battles have not seen the day due to timely intervention of silence. It aids in escalating the chance to stop reacting to any odd situation. It allows a person to think before shooting arrows.

Nothing could be achieved in entirety, had there been no silence. It generates an environment which is full of peace, serenity and calmness. Its source is further strengthened by happiness and smile. Thus, it could be helpful in bringing the visible "golden smile" on the face.

Writing and Speaking: Public Speaking Article Category

Doubt is a vital part of our thinking. If we are inquisitive and need an answer, we always raise doubts. A solution is not possible till we reach the roots of a problem.

Curiosity to obtain a reply from someone regarding a doubtful situation opens up a plethora of chances to resolve things in a matter of time. After winning a contract, there are several doubts storming the mind- Now what next? It has to be implemented, looking at pros and cons of the situation. Nothing can be done in a day despite urgency. After all, "Rome was not built in a day". Several opinions are gathered, strategies are framed and plans are plotted on the plane. After a heated debate and constant conversation, the leader reaches the most optimized solution. This solution has to be checked and re-checked after every moment. These moments are basically situations when a discrepancy turns up or deviation becomes prominent.

The leader always expects and ensures a smooth implementation of contract after winning. However, there are inevitable situations which might bother him and raise doubts in mind. An effective leadership requires the open and constant communication with like-minded people of the group. The matter may take some time to be resolved.

The doubts shouldn't be hid from the crowd else dire consequences could result in loss of man and fame. They should be discussed in open forum for the best resolution. A small doubt could give rise to a larger doubt. There is no end to these ideas as a person working on the field has to use brain to execute the plan.

Brain-storming gives rise to creativity. If the plan was taking 2 days to complete, an alternative thought had resulted in its effective execution within 24 hours. Thus, one should be ready with a number of alternatives. The leader could arrive at the best alternative through team participation. This effort also helps in searching for a second, third or fourth alternative in case first alternative fails at any time.

It's not possible to stop brain from doubting. If there are no doubts, solutions are not possible. Nothing in the world is perfect. However, perfection is required in the sound and cautious implementation of contract. Skepticism helps in smashing skull so that near perfect solution is achieved on time.

We live in a world of machines and technology. Every single device is created and improved using brains. Each machine is programmed with inputs tried and researched over a long period of time. These inputs are, in fact, a product of several doubts which take birth to find an answer to the needs of daily life. Thus, doubt is considered a road to solution.

How To Engage Your Participants At The Beginning of A Training Session

Public speaking a learnable skill. The more you practice, the better you will be. In my training, I will ensure that I am fully prepared for the topic I am going to deliver. Before the actual delivery, I will put myself into the right state of mind. However, do you seriously believe that by doing these you can become a good trainer? My answer is "no" and the reason why I say "no" is that I discover another element that is important in all my training, i.e. to keep my participants engaged and involved so that they can learn more and faster. In this article, I will share with you some techniques I use to achieve this goal.

I used to believe that it would be fine if I did not satisfy all my participants in a training session because there would always be someone who did not like me. However, under my mentor's guidance, I know that this belief is not true and I have reframed my definition of a successful training session. To me, a successful training session is one when all my participants have learnt at least one new thing. This reframing exercise has helped me a lot and I begin to see some drastic results in my training with some good feedback received from my participants. Now, here is what I will do in the introduction of all my training:

Building rapport is a must

What I did in the past was to go straight to the presentation as I focused on the delivery of the content. I thought that as long as my content was of good quality, my participants would be satisfied. This is not true because as a trainer, I now know I have to focus on my participants instead of me and the content of my presentation. Therefore, nowadays I will allocate at least 10 to 15 minutes to build rapport with my participants. It is almost certain that I will show them my family photo for a start. Depending on the subject matter, I will share with them my personal story to relay to the topic I am going to speak. The purpose of all these is to make my participants feel that I am their friends and not just a trainer.

Keep the trump card with you

In the past, I had a slide in my introduction to outline all the topics to be covered in my training. This is like "show hand" in poker if you know what I mean. I realized that as a result of this, some participants would not pay full attention to what I said. In the end if they claimed that they did not understand the topic, they would put the blame on the training manual and/or me. To ensure that they take full responsibility for their own learning and pay attention to every part of my training, I will keep the trump card with me. In other words, I will introduce one small segment of the topic at one time so that the participants will remain curious as to what will be the next segment. This technique is quite useful to keep my participants engaged and involved during the entire training.

Different participants have different learning styles

As a certified trainer in Extended DISC profiling tools, I understand there are different behavioral patterns among my participants. This means that they all have different learning styles. If I were to use only one style to deliver my topic, it would be a disaster. Hence, here is what I will do in my introduction:

  • Some participants prefer to see a big picture and not details. During my introduction, I will present this big picture to this group and suggest to them how they can benefit in future by applying what they learn.

  • Some participants prefer to learn and have fun at the same time. After dealing with the "big picture" participants, I will assure this group during my introduction that learning will be fun because there will be different group activities to reinforce their learning.

  • Some participants focus on teamwork in learning. Therefore, I will assure them during my introduction that in all group activities, all participants will help each other so that no one will be left behind in the learning process.

  • After dealing with the first three groups of participants, the last group will be those who are waiting for me to deliver the details. During my introduction, I will ask them to be patient and at the same time assure them they will get all the details they need.

As you can see, these are just a few things you can do during the introduction of your training so as to keep your participants engaged and involved. Keep in mind that each training session is different and you should remain as flexible as you can be in order to handle different situations that may arise. Finally, as a reminder the more you practice, the more effective you will be as a trainer.

I hope you will benefit from my sharing. Now, what are you planning to do in your next training session?

Interesting Experience in Using Flipcharts In My Training

As a trainer myself, I pay attention to the training conducted by the other trainers because I believe that there is always something I can learn from them. Apart from the content delivery, I also observe the way they speak, the tonality of the words they use, their body language, the jokes they make and the personal stories they share. Most of these trainers I met are good but only a few of them are effective in my opinion. What this means is that they are able to fully engage their participants during the entire training session and facilitate their learning. Interestingly, I notice these trainers have one thing in common. They seldom use PowerPoint. Instead, they use the conventional teaching tool called flip charts. I begin to wonder why using flip charts instead of PowerPoint can be more effective. In this article, I am going to share with you some of my findings.

Back to my MBA days, I had to do presentation each week on different subjects. At that time, everyone used PowerPoint and therefore, I had no choice but to learn how to use it. The slides must be colourful. The font size must be correct so that my classmates at the back (and more importantly my course facilitator) would be able to see the words clearly. I also learnt how to do custom animation too. Suddenly I considered myself an expert in using PowerPoint and from that point onwards, I started to believe that in order to deliver a good presentation, PowerPoint is a must. Since then I have been using PowerPoint in all my presentation and training.

Something happened around two years ago. For some reasons I started noticing my participants did not pay attention in my training. Some of them even fell asleep. Worst still, no matter how good I thought my training was, there would always be someone coming up to ask for a copy of my PowerPoint slides. I was frustrated and upset with such response and this prompted me to change my strategy in my training.

I decided to model some of these effective trainers by not relying on PowerPoint anymore. I will still prepare two slides - the title page and the contact page but that is all. Instead of PowerPoint, I use flip charts and I will always carry 4 jumbo markers - black, green, red and blue just in case they are not available in the training room. I begin to experience some changes in my training. Participants pay attention in training especially when I am writing on the flip charts. I guess they must be curious as to what I am writing. After I have written a keyword or phrase on the flip chart, I will immediately ask the participants to repeat the word as this will help them to remember the concept better.

As there is no more PowerPoint, there is no chance for my participants to ask for any copy of my slides. Nevertheless, I will still give them workbooks so that they can make notes and copy the keyword and phrases. Sometimes I will have incomplete sentences in the workbooks and I will ask my participants to fill in the blank. In the past I always thought that giving out workbooks and asking my participants to fill in the blank was a childish play. I now know this is not correct because it has something to do with some accelerated learning techniques.

The reason why I believe my participants are more engaged when I am using the flip charts is that they have no fallback on slides. As they have to take full responsibility for their own learning during my training, they have to pay attention to the concepts I cover, the statements I make, and the keywords and phrases I use. They will be asked to repeat after me these keywords and phrases and jot down their key learning messages.

At the same time, I will buffer some time to allow my participants to seek clarification and ask questions. In my opinion, this is a good opportunity to interact with them and reinforce their learning by referring to the flip charts as an anchor.

In summary, all my training becomes interactive and there is no more monologue. My training is fun and allows my participants to learn faster and more. Just two months ago, I tested this technique in a training involving highly technical content - technical analysis in investing. I was pleased with the fact that even in a training like this, the flip chart technique could work.

I love the flip charts and I am committed to use them more often in all my training.

Tips for Public Speaking Anxieties

Public Speaking Tips - Getting Over Anxieties

So, you're up to conduct a speech to an audience you may or may not be familiar with. Although you prepared long and hard for that moment, there is always a high possibility that you may feel some sort of discomfort. It is not unusual for speakers, and especially those who are first-timers, to get that gut feeling as the nervousness begins to settle in. Don't fret, because there are some simple ways to get rid of that annoying feeling so you can carry out an amazing speech without difficulty.

The 15-second Sweat

The moment you go on stage and settle yourself at the podium or at the center, you are going to feel that heavy feeling for almost the first 15 seconds. This is very normal because your body is adjusting to the situation at hand, and the anxiety feeling is an automatic response. But, this feeling can result in prolonged agony for others where it involves into stuttering and unnecessary body movements - things that could destroy the whole public speaking experience.

The simple work around is for you to take a deep breath. Studies show that taking a deep breath reboots your body senses and puts you into your calmest, which is exactly what you need to be in order to deliver your speech with minimal flaws. This is one of the public speaking tips that reduce tension by a huge margin because you're rejuvenating your body in the process.

Stuttering Worries

Eloquence is a vital asset in delivery, and the bane of eloquence is stuttering. This is very common among speakers who are not comfortable in talking in front of a huge crowd. Also, stuttering can destroy the overall intent of the message because the audience would not understand a thing - and take note, they only remember 25% of what you say!

What you should do is to speak slowly and clearly. Make sure you register what you say in your mind before delivering it so you get the right level of emphasis and tone to present your message's intent. Keeping things on a rhythmic flow will help you deliver your message properly and increase audience retention with one of the great public speaking tips.

Mental Block Pains

The worst thing you can ever encounter is that mental block pain that occurs midway into your speech. Especially when you're on a roll, that awkward pause is not going to do you any good because communication is disrupted. That mental block feeling comes when you least expect it, and you do not want it to ruin your good speech.

Although it may be difficult to prevent mental blocks, the right course of action is learning how to recover from it. Experts simply recover from a mental block moment by making the awkward pause an intended one. This requires you to make a witty statement so you can get back on track with your speech. Others insert a random fact and connect it to the speech.

Whatever your choice is, always focus on the goal of getting back on track. Remain spontaneous and cool about it and your audience may not even notice you had that choking moment.

Public speaking has its hurdles, but with proper coordination and simple recovery techniques, you can deliver your speech with minimal flaws.

The ABCs of Creating Concise and Effective Voicemails

A strong voicemail message is one that is clearly understood and is short and to the point. This detailed message needs to be left within a very short amount of time.

Here are some great guidelines you can start using right away that will make your voicemail messages effective and concise.

1. Before you leave a message, ask yourself this question: Is this voicemail necessary? If you are leaving a message just to tell the person you will call them later, then this wastes their time.

2. If you are leaving a voicemail to answer a question, you won't want to end your voicemail message by telling the person to call you back. If all the information you needed to say is in the message, then there should be no reason for the person to return your call.

3. It helps to plan what you are going to say ahead of time. You might even want to write down one or two important points to include, but no more than this.

4. The first thing you should say is your name. "Hi, this is Andy Walsh from ABC Company".

5. The second thing you should do is leave your call back number. Even if the person already has it, they may not have it right in front of them. If you are calling someone within your company and know them very well, you can leave just your extension number. If the person is calling from outside your company, leave the full number.

6. Next, quickly get to the reason you called. "The reason I'm calling is...", or "I'm calling because..."

7. Speak slowly and clearly. Your listener doesn't have the advantage of being able to see you, so he/she will need more time to process what you say. In addition, an accent will take additional time to understand, given the difference in pronunciation of some sounds.

8. Try not to use "filler" words like, "um", or "oh".

9. Voicemails really shouldn't be longer than 30 seconds. If there is a lot of information, you must leave, then try to keep it under one minute.

10. At the end of the message, leave your phone number again. Although you already gave your phone number at the beginning, give it again slowly. This gives the person another opportunity to write down the number, in case he/she missed it the first time.

11. You can end the voicemail message by saying a variety of things, depending on how well you know the person. A few examples might be:
"Thank you, and I will talk to you soon".
"Please call me at your earliest convenience".
"I'll see you at the meeting tomorrow".

Build A Career With Your Public Speaking Skills

Do you enjoy public speaking enough to make a career out of it? If so, here are some ideas for you.

Consider doing public speaking at colleges and universities. Do you have a message you'd love to deliver to an impressionable young audience? Maybe you want to teach them something, warn them about something, or inspire them. If that sounds like something you'd like to do, here's some tips:

Create a brochure about yourself as a speaker that you can mail to different colleges and universities with a letter introducing yourself, and offering your services.

Offer either your speaking fee- (I recommend charging $5,000 for a 2-3 hour speech). Or consider doing your speech for free...and at the end of your speech you can have your products at the back of the room for the students/faculty to buy.

Some products you could offer are things like audio cd sets (that you can record yourself). Have a book or a pamphlet put together for sale that you've written. Compile a bunch of exercises, facts, and resources in a three-ring binder and sell that! Offer business cards with your picture and your speaking service. If done right, you could make a lot of money offering your products at the end of a magnificent speech!

Maybe you would rather speak to young children or the elderly. Perhaps you'd rather speak to middle aged business people or moms. Whatever group of people and subject matter is most appealing to you, there is a way to make it work. I firmly believe that 85% of doing something you love for a living, really rests on your belief that you can do it and be successful at it.

Whatever the group of people you choose to speak to, find out where you could deliver a speech to them that would appeal to them. Where would they like to be? Nature people probably want to be outside. Business people like conference rooms. Students like auditoriums. Moms like to get out almost anywhere, but for a moms group I'd use a hotel conference room or a nice neighborhood clubhouse, depending on the size of the crowd.

Be sure to have something for everyone who attends. This can be a small giveaway, even bottles of water and mints. This lightens the crowd and makes everyone happy to have come. They might be more apt to buy something or spread the word about you/ your speech, if they got something at the end. At the very least, it will put a smile on their faces. Hope this article was helpful! Much success to you in your speaking endeavours!

Lessons From a Former Preacher (About Public Speaking)

A pastor speaks a lot. He or she has a multitude of speaking opportunities - sermons, Sunday school lessons, special meetings, and board meetings just in one week! These engagements don't automatically make him a good public speaker because practice (or opportunity) doesn't make you perfect; practice can create ruts where poor skills can settle in. A minister can get comfortable in front of an audience, but that comfort may translate into getting used to (unknowingly) boring people week after week.

Like any public speaker, your experience affords you lessons if you are paying attention. I've learned a few over the years:

  1. IF YOU CAN'T SAY IT IN A SENTENCE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. Crafting a sermon every week was difficult, often heady, work. It was easy to get bogged down in the details of translation, culture, history, theology, and application, let alone developing good structure. Early on in my career my sermons were 90% details and 10% of the good stuff (my point). I eventually discovered that studying and compiling the details was necessary for my preparation, it made me competent to speak on a given subject or passage of scripture. But all that information wasn't necessary to share an idea - I needed to get to the point sooner. As a result, I started boiling my messages down to one sentence. I was going to say that one sentence, if nothing else. By doing this, I clarified my ideas, got to the point quicker, and left people with a clear idea or action that couldn't be lost in the delivery. Boil your next speech down to one sentence before giving it.

  2. USE YOUR SPOUSE (OR CLOSE FRIEND) AS A REFINERY. Preparing, practicing, and delivering a speech with out any outside input is a bad idea. Why wait to get feedback until the Toastmasters meeting? How often do we give that speech a second time to refine it? (This would be a good idea) So why not give that speech to your spouse or friend and let them help you improve your speech? My speeches have always improved dramatically as a result. So call up your mentor and get together to practice and refine your next speech.

  3. THE SOONER YOU LOSE THE SCRIPT THE SMOOTHER YOUR DELIVERY WILL BE. I used to write my sermons out word for word. This is a good thing. Crafting important sentences word for word starts on paper or computer. But ask yourself, "Do I want to be sure I say everything just like I wrote it OR do I want my delivery to be smooth and authentic?" I've kicked myself for missing elements in a speech, but never regretted not having a script and presented in a way that was pleasing to the audience. Having a really simple outline can be very useful in staying on track - just don't get glued to the outline either.

  4. PUSH BEYOND YOUR COMFORT. My comfort zone is different than yours; we are all wired differently. But we each have limits to what we feel comfortable with. Push beyond your limits. If waving your hand is a bit awkward, then waving both hands is pushing beyond. Public speaking is very similar to drama - exaggeration is an asset. You have people's attention, so keep it. 75% of communication is body language - don't forget to use it!

  5. PROP UP YOUR MESSAGE. We have more than one sense (hearing), why don't we utilize more sensing in communicating our message? Talking about recycling? Why not bring in some tin cans, pass around plastic bags, set out some really good mulch for people to smell?

We all wish we had learned some of life's lessons earlier in life. But that is what life does - teaches us lessons over a lifetime, not overnight. Everybody can benefit from joining a Toastmaster club to refine their presentation skills; I wish I had discovered Toastmasters at a younger age, but sure am glad I discovered it when I did. Toastmasters gives me more opportunities to practice what I've already learned and continue to learn even more about leadership and presentation.

Um's and Uh's: Eliminating Verbal Filler When Presenting

I have seen many presentations in my life, and one really bad habit that I have seen afflict presenters of all ages and experience levels are verbal fillers like Um and Uh. These little devils can find their way into every nook and cranny of your speech. Often people will not notice them directly, but if they hear a presentation with many of them and then listen to a presentation with none or only a handful, subconsciously they will hear a BIG difference.

Some argue that they say um and uh because they haven't sufficiently practiced the material. While I think there is some merit to this argument, I do not believe this is the primary reason that people say these fillers. I believe it is first and foremost simply a bad habit. I have seen people who have practiced a presentation many times and who are experts in their field regarding the topic they are presenting (so lack of knowledge is not an excuse) inject their presentations with hundreds of um's and uh's (yes, I've counted).

I believe that eliminating this bad habit is easier than it seems at first, especially if you're willing to put even the smallest amount of effort into stopping it. One way to help yourself eliminate this habit is to ask others to count the number of uh's and um's (and other filler words) that you say when you present. This may seem like a burden, but it's actually easy and in some ways fun for the people doing it (it's always easier to be a critic than a presenter - but that's a topic for another post). Try it yourself on someone else's presentation, and you'll see. If you do count someone's verbal fillers, I have found the best approach is to lightheartedly ask them after the presentation (and away from other people) if they would like to know how many Um's you counted. This engages their curiosity and makes it less of a big deal. This approach isn't perfect, but it is much better than going up to them and saying "You had 235 Um's in your presentation. You suck."

The first time someone informed me of how many uh's and um's filled my presentation was in 2005. I had just finished giving my first practice run of a training class that I would give to astronauts and flight controllers as part of the Training Division as NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. My instructors, who were all certified instructors in the Training Division and had taught many astronauts in their careers, were merciless in their feedback on all aspects of my practice run, from the technical content to my delivery of that content. "Stop jiggling your leg." "Why are you looking all over the place instead of at your audience?" "You said um X hundred times. Cut that out!" It didn't take me long to cut out those um's after that.

Another way to help yourself eliminate verbal fillers is to record yourself on video. This is the most painful but effective way to help not only reduce this bad habit, but all other elements of your presentation style as well. If you don't watch video of yourself to get direct feedback on your actions, which is what most professional athletes do, you will be hard pressed to achieve speaking skills above a certain level.

Using these tips, you should be able to eliminate (or almost eliminate) verbal fillers from your presentations. Once you do, you will find that your message comes across much cleaner and more forcefully. And at the very least you won't have people like me counting your um's anymore.

British English Voiceovers Get a Good Positive Reception - Why?

British Voiceovers: Higher Trust & Conversion

There is no such thing as a British English voice; England has a hugely diverse range of English accents. Scouse from Liverpool, Geordie from Newcastle and Brummie from Birmingham; all strong and all, to the English at least, instantly recognisable, even if not always understandable!

For some people, the Cockney Rhyming slang (that used to be) a typical East London accent is the English accent; think Guy Ritchie's films like Lock Stock and Snatch, not the bombmaker from Ocean's 11...

For others, it is the Queen's or King's English that is a true English accent. For others, the latter is quite a posh, aristocratic accent.

My accent is naturally close to the BBC's Received Pronunciation (RP) because I grew up in Sussex, near London. What does this mean? I benefit from the ingrained stereotypes that see the British as trustworthy, honest and authoritative (think David Attenborough).

People worldwide react in different ways depending on how someone sounds when they speak. A British voiceover over a video will feel different than an Australian or American accent.

In England, you might be interested to know how much accent matters. People judge your class, which is still important in England, based on your accent; even if the two only have a historical correlation.

Studies show that people with posh British accents make people more likely to get good reactions from others; be more trusted and have more authority.

The typical British English accent is almost a passport to a good reception internationally; though the British foreign policies often thwart this. The British shouldn't act like this, is occasionally the cry. But this is based on the idea of a history of British playing saints worldwide.

But let's face it; they often weren't.

The British Empire didn't expand to encompass the world because of good manners and red-coated soldiers.

No, the British used all sorts of underhand tricks. They lied to enemies and allies alike, promised this and delivered that.

But their success gave them the luxury of grace. The general becomes the gentleman, polite and engaging.

Years later we see people like the great ad-man David Ogilvy use this Britishness to sell; to sell and succeed.

This is the principle that underpins the success of British expats in business abroard. It is the fun promised in the film Love Actually, in which an English chap visits America and is swarmed by beautiful American girls who love his accent.

Despite the fall of the Empire - the UK budget deficit has just passed a trillion pounds - the traditional British stereotypes persist.

Stereotypes of English Gentlemen, bowler-hatted and playing cricket, never lying and always believable.

Even now, the BBC World Service broadcasts with clear diction and authority into homes worldwide, refreshing and enforcing these stereotypes.

David Attenborough may have the best voice for believable, trustworthy videos in the world. His British accent is his mark and profile.

So much of sales is trust. If someone shady sidled up to you in a bar offering cut-price macbooks, you'd be right to be suspicious; it just wouldn't sound right.

But who wouldn't buy from Prince William? Trust, authority and believability are necessary to sell anything.

You can spend years building up this trust through bare sacrifice and 18 hour days.

Trusted stereotypes that the British gentleman has developed over years and years; and which a large amount of British-speaking people benefit from by birth.

On the Internet, businesses are choosing a British voiceover artists for anything from narrating sales and marketing videos, to website introductions, to voicemail messages. Whenever there are client interactions, a British accent aims to make the impression of the brand more trustworthy, authoritative, and worth doing business with.

Public Speaking Training Can Reduce Pessimism

A client mentioned recently during our public speaking training session that she tends to be a pessimist and that she thought her tendency was affecting her public speaking ability. She asked me what she should do to turn that around.

Begin with awareness

I believe that change begins with awareness and acceptance of your current status, accompanied by deep-seated desire to change and a long-term commitment to move toward the status you want to reach. In my experience, permanent change is a gradual process. It takes time, it takes awareness and it takes patience. I think many of us are aware of our current status but we're not aware of the limitations that our view of the world can place on us. That's totally normal, by the way. We all develop perspectives on our lives. Those perspectives often limit us. And because they've been with us for so long, they just become part of our "reality", even if our perception of "reality" is holding us back.

Work with strengths

Our early life experiences tend to define who we think we are. I know this because I have lived it, particularly when I was a young man from a small town who came to Toronto. But we can rise far beyond what anyone would have ever expected, based on our early-life trajectory to excel and do much more than we might ever have imagined. We simply have to recognize our strengths and work with them to move forward toward greater life potential and satisfaction, including the ability to speak confidently in public.

Perceptions persuade

Your perceptions can persuade you to withdraw from experiences in an attempt to protect someone you may have been at one time long ago. The problem is letting those old values and identifications get in the way of current reality. And the current reality may be that you are a mature, intelligent, sophisticated, powerful person whose old perceptions are no longer working for you and instead are working against you.

The hard part

So what can be done? Well, like I said, it begins with awareness and acceptance. Once you become aware and accept, you have to decide if you want to change. And that's where the hard part begins. It's hard because so many of us grew up in environments where people tried to hide who they were, expected others to take responsibility and leadership. Most of us grew up among followers, not leaders. That can make us afraid to take responsibility. In a community where those around us were directed by others, we never learn leadership. And that makes the concept of leadership a little intimidating and frightening, particularly in a large, highly competitive city like Toronto and the GTA.

People want leadership

Too often, capable people are concerned that if they excel and stand out from the crowd they will be considered "uppity" and "too big for your britches" by those around them. But here's the dichotomy: Most people WANT leadership! They want someone strong up front to show them the way and to deal with the issues. They may carp, complain and criticize but they don't want to be leaders themselves. Why? Because they're terrified of taking responsibility.

Risk can be valuable

It took me a long to time to realize that. Sure, everyone wants to be on top but the problem is that most - almost all - of those people don't want to take any risk. But life - real life, not just existence - is about risk. I'm not talking about foolish risk. I'm talking about researched, measured, responsible risk. If we never step up, we get left behind. Responsible risk can be a very valuable thing.

Create affirmations

So how do we get from pessimism to optimism and the confidence to speak in public? One good route is to create a list of positive affirmations and repeat them as often as circumstances allow. You can learn about positive affirmations here: The article will suggest some affirmations but you can make up your own and they will probably be more powerful for you because they will relate directly to you.

Appreciate the good stuff

Please understand that affirmations are just meaningless mumbo jumbo if you just mouth them without feeling them. You need to look at yourself and your life, pick positive things and really appreciate them. Most of us take all the good stuff in life for granted and complain about what we don't like. It should be the other way around. We should treasure the good stuff and take the bad stuff for granted because "stuff" is going to happen but, for the most part, we're very well off. Positive affirmations are about really appreciating the good stuff.

It takes time

It takes time, it takes patience, it takes self-forgiveness when we slide back a bit. But if we're really committed to making change in our lives it really is possible. Whether it's public speaking, skiing, sky diving or just looking in the mirror and liking what you see no matter what's happening around you, positive thoughts about the little things can take you a long way.

Hey Speaker, Do You Really Want Your Body To Be Saying That?

I'm sure that you've heard this before, but your audience is sizing you up once they lay eyes on you. Sure, we hope that they have good listening skills, but this may not matter. You've got somewhere in the neighborhood of about 30 seconds or so to make a good first impression. It's not just what you say, but even more importantly it's what your body is saying to your audience that is going determine what they think about your speech. Sure seems like we should figure out what your body is telling them...

The Eyes Have It

In the world of fancy PowerPoint slides in which we all live, it can be easy to think that it's all of the extras like presentation tips that we bring to a speech that really count. Guess what, it's the old standbys that will allow you to really communicate with your audience - simple things like making eye contact with them.

It turns out that your eyes are the most expressive part of your face. You do need to be careful where in the world you are giving your speech. In the West, direct eye contact is expected. Looking away or avoiding direct eye contact will make you come across as being shifty.

However, in Asian cultures, the opposite is true. Lower eyes are a sign of respect and honor. Too much direct eye contact will not be appreciated.

In the West, you want to shoot for making enough direct eye contact with your audience. You should try for making direct eye contact for roughly 60% of your speech.

Become A Mirror To Your Audience

Your audience will tell you what they are currently thinking by the way that they position their bodies. This is a great help to you when you want to connect with them.

In order to start to build a bridge from the stage to your audience, what you are going to want to do is to "mirror" your audience. This occurs when you take on the body posture and language that your audience currently has. If they are crossing their arms, then you do the same. If they are slumping in their chairs, then you do the same.

Once you've connected with them by mirroring their body language, then you can lead them to where you want them to go. When you uncross your arms, they'll uncross their arms. When you stand up straight, they'll sit up straight. You are in control of your audience when this happens.

3 Tips For Improving Your Body Language

We all know about the importance of public speaking. Having powerful and effective body language is a skill that every public speaker needs. In order to get this skill, you need to know what you have to do.

To boost your body language skills from where they are to the next level, there are 3 things that you need to do as a speaker:

  1. Watch People: You are going to be speaking to an audience that is already "somewhere". You need to find out where that is and join them before you start to speak. Take a look at the body language that they are transmitting and then match them before you take the stage.

  2. Learn From The Pros: We can always learn from the professionals who are paid the big bucks to speak. YouTube is littered with speeches from professional speakers. Additionally, you can switch on any of the nightly news programs and watch a true professional use their body language to deliver the daily news to an audience of millions.

  3. Take A Step Back: In order to do a better job of using your body language to connect with your audience, you need to be able to understand what messages you are currently sending. Two ways to do this are to record yourself giving a speech and then play it back (yes, I know that this is hard to do; however, it really works) or practice giving your speech in front of a mirror.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be an effective public speaker, you need to control not only the words that come tumbling out of your mouth, but also the story that your body is telling your audience. Being able to tell your story two different ways at the same time is one of the benefits of public speaking. This can be trickier than it sounds.

It turns out that with a bit of attention, you can control the message that your body is sending to your audience. To do this you need to be aware of your eyes, how your audience is positioning their bodies, and how others are seeing you.

Speakers who are able to combine their words and their body language so that they are both telling the same story can be very effective. Follow these suggestions and you'll have your next audience eating out of your hand!

How to Boost Your Confidence In Public Speaking

Have you done any public speaking before? If you did, can you recall what happened the first time you spoke in front of a big group? If you have yet to experience any public speaking, imagine you are going to present a topic next week to a group of 100 people. How are you feeling now? If your answer includes words such as "fear", "nervous" and "uncomfortable", it is normal and I can understand that.

Do you agree that we all have fear? In my opinion, fear occurs because of uncertainty. When we are put into an unfamiliar situation, we feel uncomfortable and nervous. This is because we do not have similar experience in the past from which we can utilize to handle the current situation. Sometimes, having fear is a good sign. Suppose you are now at the edge of a cliff. You will not jump off the cliff because you have fear. However, when it comes to personal development, fear can act as a barrier to our personal growth. Accordingly, here is what I will do whenever I have fear - find resources to boost my confidence and take action in spite of fear.

I remember when I first spoke in front of a group of 150 people in 2001, I was nervous and my mind started creating different images about what could possibly happen if my presentation did not go well. As I continue my public speaking journey, I have discovered some techniques that can help to boost my confidence. The purpose of this article is to share with you some of these techniques I use. But before that, I would like to talk about one of my limiting beliefs about public speaking. I used to think that a top trainer must be an extraverted person because from my experience, he has lots of energy to engage with his participants. Some top trainers will even jump on the stage to build energy in the training room. As a result, my belief was that an introverted person would never be a top trainer. This is a logical deduction. What makes the matter worse is that according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ("MBTI"), I am an introverted person and I thought I would never be a top trainer. Of course, the fact that I labeled it as a limiting belief means that it had been unlocked. Here is my current belief - an introverted person can be a top trainer.

Now, let me share with you a few techniques I have been using over the years as an introverted-type trainer. Hopefully, you will benefit from my sharing:

  1. According to MBTI, an introverted person prefers to communicate with the others on a topic with which he is familiar. Therefore, pick a topic you are familiar with and you have passion to share with the others. This will be a confidence booster in your public speaking journey.

  2. Over the years, I have consciously modeled different world-class trainers and I believe you can consider following what I do. As a start, pick a few top trainers and observe the way they present, their voice projection and the tonality of the words they used. Also pay attention to their movement on the stage as well as their body language. Practice in front of a mirror and if possible, ask your friends to watch and listen to your presentation so that they can help you to identify your blind spots. On your part, keep an open mind and accept their constructive feedback.

  3. I have found that having a script in front of me would boost my confidence. It is also very useful for a person like me who prefers "Intuition" to take in information as I am aware that I have the tendency to digress from the current topic. The script will help me to stay focused on the current topic and maintain the flow of the presentation.

  4. Treat the participants as your friends. Before you start your topic, spend sometime to build rapport with your participants. When you earn the right to present the topic from your participants, your presentation will be smooth and steady. In addition, keep in mind that you have to continue maintaining rapport with your participants during your presentation and acknowledging their participation. Whenever a participant asks a question, remember to say "thank you for your question" before answering it.

I hope you will find the techniques I share in this article useful. The more you practice, the better you will be as a trainer.

Don't Do Dull-Speak: 12 Tips for a Blitz on Boring

Shockingly, the vast majority of people prefer interesting to boring. Who'd have guessed? And the principle applies in pitches and presentations.

We've all sat through talks that were Olympian accomplishments of mind-numbing banter. Some of us didn't make it out. Our next of kin had to be notified: "Sorry, ma'am. He was the victim of a series of unrelated bullet-points. There was nothing we could do for him."

To be persuasive, you have to be interesting. If they enjoy the experience of you, they will be more likely to hear you out. But what are the tools at your disposal? Here are 12 separate tactics from which you can choose, buffet-style, to invigorate your next presentation:

1. Tell stories. People think in terms of things that they can see, feel and vividly imagine. Stories bring points to life and are a communicator's best friend.

2. Use metaphors. Can you think of a unifying symbol - preferably something visual - that could become the central theme for your talk? Say it in a word picture. For instance, "We're not just here to sell you a product. We're here to pull your feet from the fire."

3. Use humour. The best kind of humour is natural, fits the topic, and takes only a few seconds to deliver. US President Barack Obama, while meeting with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, said, "And I'm sure the Prime Minister wouldn't disagree with me... at least not while I'm around... "

4. Use a problem/solution structure. Instead of beginning with 'what your product can do', create a short story that highlights and emotionalises the consequences of the problem it was designed to solve. Then, begin your pitch with the problem, and lead up to the solution. The technique is used often in infomercials: "Do you have a soft, flabby stomach? Do your neighbours run and hide every time you wobble by? You need new Flabaway!"

5. Move more. Movement attracts the eye and stimulates the mind. Be assured: if you stand still and simply deliver a talk verbally from one spot for thirty minutes, hands at your sides, your audience will lose interest. My rule of thumb: move when telling a story, stand still when delivering a point.

6. Vary your voice tone. You might still get away with standing still for a while, provided your voice tone varies continually. But you can never get away with a boring or monotonous voice tone, no matter how much you move. Use a private room to practice delivering sentences in interesting and expressive ways.

7. Use visuals. The human mind is stimulated by visuals. But make them interesting. A block of text on a PowerPoint slide is not interesting. Sidebar: It may actually explain the origins of the walking un-dead.

8. Use pictures and stories in place of dry numbers. Your objective as a speaker is not to impart information, but to help your audience to understand. Information is only half of the job. Understanding is the goal. From this point of view, it's futile for you to have all the numbers at your fingertips if you are not able to make them meaningful to your audience. Use pictures and stories that help your audience to understand what those numbers actually mean.

9. Use audience interaction. Simply ask questions: "By a show of hands, how many of you regularly work out?" Audience interaction creates emotional involvement. Just don't overdo it. Once or twice is enough.

10. Prizes and outright bribery. Don't knock it. You'd be surprised how well people listen when they know they can win something at the end by answering a question correctly, or by volunteering for something.

11. Warmth and charm. Smile and direct warmth and enthusiasm toward your audience. Human connection is the entire point of public speaking. If it weren't important, we'd simply send the information as an email.

12. Brevity. The ultimate tool. Short, sharp and to-the-point. Works every time.

Remember, as a presenter, you are not in the business of zombie-creation. Your goal is to engage and persuade and there is an array of tools at your disposal. Now go get 'em!

Writing and Speaking: Public Speaking Article Category

I want to have a career with public speaking, but I don't know what to do? Is it possible? Will I make any money? Where do I start? How long will it take before I make a real income?...Good questions. I asked these or similar questions when I was interested in building a career with my public speaking talent. Here's what I found: you can employ practical planning and action...but using affirmations will help you yield greater results when combined (with planning and action).

So, ask yourself what you REALLY want. Do you want to make six figures? Want to have a career speaking to college students, elementary school students, elderly people? Want to talk to people in prisons, hospitals, or business meetings? Find out what people you feel most comfortable talking to or who needs to hear your message the most.

Figure out what you want to be paid, and what you really want your work life to be like. Travelling? Few hours? Speaking on video to people?

Once you have a clear idea about who you want to talk to, what you want to be paid, and what you want your work hours to be like, where, and how often, then you can begin constructing your affirmations.

Affirmations need to be clear, in present tense, and cultivate a feeling or emotion when said. They should also be said with conviction. You are basically saying a statement to convince your mind of the reality you want to have.

Be sure to say your affirmations often, whenever you can. The best time to say them is when you are waking up and as you are falling asleep... but also as often as possible. You can repeat your affirmations while you're driving, while you're in the shower, or getting dressed...any time that you are alone and have time, try to remember to use that time wisely to say your affirmations. Also, saying them while you look yourself in the eyes in a mirror is very powerful.

So, here's some examples of great affirmations you can use, but watch how they are written so you can customize your own affirmations based on what you want in a speaking career.

I give thanks that I am now creating a fun and rewarding public speaking career.
I am now a successful public speaker...and I am paid handsomely.
I am so grateful that I now have a successful career as a public speaker.
I give thanks that I am now earning $10,000 per month as a highly sought after public speaker.

Much success to you!

Tips to Develop Your Public Speaking Abilities

There are few abilities that can assist you more in life than being a skilled public speaker. This may be more true in our current era than any before it. Speaking well enables a person to get their message across, build relationships, attract clients and encourage others to get involved in movements seeking meaningful change.

And yet, a great deal of people are terrified of talking in front of crowds. It is one of the more widespread fears within our culture.

We can't all turn into a one in a million speaking talent. But just about all of us can get better at this extremely beneficial activity.

After all, moving an audience with your words involves at its root - despite however else it may seem to be - just a skillset. And just as we can practice and enhance our abilities with regards to other skillsets, such as those involved in sports or dance or playing music, we can also practice and enhance our abilities with the skillsets involved in public speaking. And realizing these things constitutes my first tip for you in developing your public speaking abilities.

The next tip would be that, even though you can work on some aspects of public speaking by yourself, ultimately it is something that really benefits from being practiced amongst others. There are some very helpful groups, such as Toastmasters, that you can join in order to find other smart and cooperative folks willing to help you - and be helped by you - as you travel on your journeys toward speaking excellence.

A group like Toastmasters can also help you in several others ways, as well:

  • They offer a proven step-by-step method, based on a series of milestones, that has helped many people gradually become better speakers.

  • They offer the chance to watch and interact with everyone from people who have never given a public speech in their life to award winning speakers and story tellers. Experience like that can do nothing but jumpstart your own learning process.

  • They provide a forum in which you can give real speeches to a real audience, as well as receive comments in response to each talk you give to help you improve your next one.

Of course, partaking in a group like Toastmasters, you will learn further tips to make you a better speaker and a few of the ones you are likely to encounter are below:

Get a Little Personal - Don't pour out every secret detail of your life, of course. But, in each talk, try to find a way to let your audience know a little more about you. It can help humanize you and encourage the listeners to care more about you and what you have to say.

A Bit of Humor Goes a Long Way - There is nothing that more consistently helps warm up an audience than some well-placed humor. A funny story or a clever joke, properly timed and delivered, is a great way to break the ice. There are some talks where humor may simply not be a good fit. But, if you use some creativity, you will find those are few and far between.

Tell a Story - People of all ages love a story. When you start to tell one, it is just natural for people to hang on with curiosity to hear what happens. And this gets them paying attention - attention that you can then work to hold on to throughout the rest of your speech.

This is simply a taste of the many tips available to help you develop your public speaking abilities. You can build upon them with a variety of other tips that are available to attain a high skill level and reap all the benefits that being a great communicator brings.

It probably won't happen overnight. Like anything worthwhile, it can take time and effort to improve. But it is time and effort that is often enjoyable and sure to be well spent.

When the Pregnant Pause Goes Into Labor!

Recently I was interviewed on a blog radio program and the host paused so long after every comment I made that I wondered how many listeners she really had. Yes, the internet station of which she is a member has an excellent listenership, but I seriously question whether this particular woman has any real following.

What is interesting is that she knows she has long, pregnant pauses which she thinks makes her program clearer. I disagree. I have found that those who pause for great lengths of time often have difficulty gathering their thoughts quickly. The problem is that most listeners do not have difficulty listening quickly.

Please understand that I am not talking about an individual who talks too fast. When this occurs, it is a good idea to give a little extra to the pause; however, waiting 5 or 6 seconds to respond to someone's comments is not productive.

As one who understood my topic, she should have been moving immediately to the next point or to the next question. Instead, there was silence. Long periods of silence. In fact, her pauses were so long that listeners might have thought they had lost their connection!

Normal speeds in speaking range anywhere from 140 words to 180 words per minute. And, the majority of people are able to listen quite comfortably to someone speaking within those limits. A normal pause, however, lasts about a second. It is extremely brief. Our ears are trained to listen to these brief pauses but we are not willing to wait 5 or 6 seconds for a conversation to resume. Once, maybe, if the host has lost his/her script, for example. But not every single time a comment has ended.

I love the pause. It is effective and one of most important things you should do in speaking, whether you are standing at a lectern, sitting at a conference table, or just having a conversation with your friends, family, or colleagues. It also has many benefits, allowing you to take a supplemental breath, to regroup, to organize your thoughts, and/or to transition to a new topic or sub-topic. Your audience needs the pause as well, allowing them to categorize their own thoughts.

What you don't want, however, is to pause too often or for too long. There is no doubt that a pregnant pause is effective once in a while. Just don't let it go into labor!