I watched my friend Artesian Kirksey deliver an electrifying college commencement speech a couple of years ago. I had presented the commencement address at the same college the year before and had delivered it in a traditional manner, from behind a lectern. Commencement speeches are always delivered from behind a lectern, right?
When Artesian delivered his speech, the first thing he did was grab the microphone from the lectern and step out toward his audience. As soon as he did so, you could feel the excitement of the audience intensify. Even before he began to speak, you could feel the energy in the room increase. It was clear that this was not going to be a typical commencement speech — and it was not. He delivered a powerful and memorable speech.
Artesian’s bold move reinforced something I have believed for a long time: A lectern is a piece of furniture that gets between speakers and their audiences. And Artesian’s decision to ditch the lectern to deliver something as traditional as a commencement address shows that we can rethink all situations that seem to demand the use of a lectern.
You might not be called upon to deliver a commencement speech anytime soon, but you might find yourself giving a business presentation, offering a wedding toast, or presenting in any number of other public speaking situations where a lectern is present. Think about whether you really need that piece of furniture coming between you and your audience. Think about the audience engagement you can create without it. Think about how much more personal and authentic you will be without it.
Making connections with your audience and engaging them in your message are the keys to great speeches and powerful business presentations. Your decision to step out from behind the lectern might make the difference between a good speech and one that wows.
We are pleased to once again partner with the Phoenix Business Journal to present our popular “Speak Up and Stand Out” workshop. This session will be held Thursday, Jan. 11, at CCS Training Center in Scottsdale.
The last time we held this workshop in conjunction with the Phoenix Business Journal, it sold out within a few hours. Don’t delay, sign-up today! Use this promo code to get a 20% discount: PHBB. Hope to see you there!
In today’s fiercely competitive business climate, how well you present yourself can make the difference in getting ahead or going home. When it comes to winning a new client, getting a project approved, or closing the deal, the smallest things can make the biggest difference. You don’t want to blend in you want to stand out!
From shaking hands, exchanging business cards to storytelling these all have a powerful impression on how people perceive you. Most people underestimate the importance of these interactions and just get by. But by knowing a few simple secrets, you can turn that around.
Business Communication expert Paul Barton of Phoenix Public Speaking will teach you the skills to stand out.
In this highly interactive workshop, you will master the basics of:
Developing an executive presence
Using your body language to influence and include
Introducing yourself to make a great first impression
Exchanging business cards so you are remembered
This is the perfect chance to make a New Year’s resolution and start off 2018 with the confidence to speak up and the skills to stand out!
I’m so proud of my alma mater, Iowa State, for the way they’ve turned their football program around. They’ve defeated two Top 5 teams already, made themselves bowl eligible before Halloween, and are rising fast in the national rankings. According to head coach Matt Campbell, the secret to the Cyclones’ amazing turnaround and stunning success is “doing the unremarkable with remarkable detail.”
Coach Campbell is talking about performing the basics and executing them flawlessly. For example, his team has the fewest penalties in the conference and has not lost a fumble in eight hard-hitting games.
Sometimes in life, when you get the seemingly insignificant things perfect, it can set you up for the big wins. This has been the approach of our Speak Up and Stand Out public speaking workshops and personal coaching program. It’s a highly competitive world out there and so when it comes to winning a new client, getting a project approved, or closing the deal, the smallest things can make the biggest difference.
Common Business Interactions to Get Perfect
Here are some common business interactions that you should execute with remarkable detail:
Don’t start speaking before you are in speaking position. Likewise, don’t start to sit back down until you have completed your presentation. Even the smallest hint you are ready to sit back down will dimish your conclusion.
Present a business card rather than simply give one. Tell your story. Likewise, receive a business card rather than take one. Take the time to look at it. Put it away respectfully.
Introduce yourself with meaningful content and do so succinctly. Stay on point. Stay interesting.
Done correctly, these simple business interactions can have a powerful impact on how people perceive you. They can make the difference in getting to the next level or going home. By executing these unremarkable things with remarkable detail, you too can turn your season around and be a winner.
Had a great time presenting a public speaking workshop for the leadership team at Vi Living at Silverstone in Scottsdale this morning. About 30 people attended and we covered everything from where to sit to how to stand to command a room.
Pictured in the photo above are (from left) Kim Bankofier, Community Relations Manager; Paul Barton, Phoenix Public Speaking; Jill Wolverton, Executive Director; and Wes Pudwill, Director of Human Resources.
Contact us to create a customized in-house workshop for you and your team, or to arrange a personal coaching program. You can connect with us using the handy contact form, or you can email us directly at PhoenixPublicSpeaking@Outlook.com or call us at 623-215-4675.
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” – Carl W. Buechner, writer, and theologian
Perhaps more important than the words you say is how you say them. The tone of a speech or business presentation is crucial to engage your audience, to persuade them, and to get them to get out of their chairs to take action.
Words make us think, but it is tone that makes us feel. And ultimately it is how we feel that determines if we’re all in for a cause or committed to follow-through with an assignment.
When we manage people, it’s easy to slip into command-and-control tones. These tones can dampen commitment and damage trust with your audience. Business leaders must be mindful of the following tones and the sometimes unintended messages they can send:
Parental: I know best. I’m the boss so just do what I say.
Legal: I’m being really precise because I’m more worried about being avoiding a lawsuit than communicating with you.
Directive: I want you to perform these tasks. I’m the boss and I don’t have to explain why.
Traditional Business: I’m phony, impersonal and disconnected from you.
Informational: I’m more concerned with public appearance than communicating with you.
Promotional: I’m using pseudo-excitement to try to sell you something you probably don’t want.
In my 20-plus years working with leaders of large corporations, I’ve always found a tone that connotes a trusted partnership works best. Whether you are speaking to customers, shareholders, your own employees, contractors or vendors, you should speak with a tone that says “You are a valued business partner and we’re in this together.”
Striking the right tone can make all the difference. Find a partnership tone that works best for you. And when you do, you’ll move beyond being a mere manager and be on the path to becoming a great leader.
I was flipping through the TV channels recently and came across a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author reading excerpts from her best-selling book on C-Span. The stories she told were extremely interesting and compelling but I couldn’t help but cringe over the sound of her voice. No doubt, she was an expert on the subject she was discussing but in my expert opinion as a professional speaker/coach, she lacked presentation skills. I continued to listen to her while critiquing her communication skills in my mind.
Have you ever been to a conference or meeting where the expert speaking either made you yawn (more than once) or used words you would have to use a dictionary to look up? I’ve seen and heard it time and time again. There are lots of speakers who are very knowledgeable and present interesting information but sometimes their presentation skills are less than average.
Truth be told, many experts in their fields don’t really have what it takes to command an audience. They know their subject very well but, often times, don’t know how to communicate effectively. According to Kathy Caprino of Ella Communications, “Experts simply fail to engage us on an emotional, heartfelt level – they don’t connect in a personal way, or give the sense that they truly care a whit about the audience and its ability to productively use the vast information they know and share. In the end, their lack of a human connection makes their presentations feel overwhelming and unsettling – they push us away with all data, facts and statistics, and no heart and soul.”
And if you can’t hold a live audience, chances are you would really bomb out during a radio, TV or podcast interview.
You might be the queen or king of the social media circles or written a best-selling book but the written word is dramatically different than the spoken word.
Presentation Skills You Can Develop
Here are some speaker tips for conducting a good news media interview or to speak to a live audience:
Speak with passion about your subject. Don’t overhype – but let the audience know how much you truly enjoy what you do.
Smile — even if you’re doing a radio interview, the listener can hear it in your voice.
Let your personality shine through. This falls in line with the passion, but also allows your audience to see various sides of you depending on the topic you’re discussing. No one likes serious all the time—especially if your topic is light-hearted in nature.
Be aware of your body language. Frowning is a turn-off – unless you are doing it in the context of making a point about something negative. Gesturing naturally is great but looking like you don’t know what to do with your hands will make you look nervous and unprofessional.
Don’t use $10 words. No one is going to be impressed with all the big words you know. But if you do use them, make sure you can explain them in layman’s terms.
Gesture even if you’re doing radio or a podcast. People who sit stiff as a board will sound more robotic than human.
Learn how to pace yourself. Speaking too fast or too slowly will have your audience tuning out. You might want to practice with a friend to see what they think about your pacing.
Remember, your voice creates an impression. And just like appearances, it could be a lasting one in your favor or cut down on the number of requests for you as a presenter.
Practice, practice, practice — Join a public speaking group in your area or hire a public speaking coach to help you.
By following these tips, you can be a subject-matter expert and an expert public speaker as well. And that’s a powerful combination.
ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER
Beverly Mahone is a veteran journalist, author, coach, and professional speaker. After more than 30 years in radio and TV news, Beverly created BAM Enterprises. In addition to working with employers to help them understand how to recruit and train millennials, she also provides professional speaker training. Beverly has appeared on numerous radio and TV talk programs including MSNBC. She has been featured in the New York Times and has written five books including the Amazon Best Sellers How to Get on the News Without Committing Murder and The Baby Boomer/Millennial Divide: Making it Work at WORK. She has written for or been covered by the Huffington Post, Forbes, and Newsweek magazine.
You’ve practiced your speech a million times in your office, in the car and even in the shower. You’re ready to deliver it. You step to the stage and someone hands you a microphone. But you haven’t practiced with a microphone. The first thing you do is bump the microphone against your body making a loud noise that irritates your audience. You nearly trip over the microphone wire. Then you hold it up to your mouth and everyone can hear you breathing loudly into it. You begin to speak and your voice is far too loud. Your speech is off to a bad start before you have even begun.
So, how do you avoid microphone mishaps? Follow these tips to master the microphone when public speaking:
Find out in advance what type of microphone you’ll be using – handheld, lavaliere, lectern-mounted?
If you know you’re going to speak with a handheld microphone, practice with one in your hand (or at least with some similarly shaped object in your hand) so that you get used to gesturing properly.
If possible, practice your complete speech with the sound system to uncover any problems well before your presentation.
Arrive at least 30 minutes early and perform a sound check. Just saying “check one, check two” isn’t good enough. Say a portion of the actual speech so that the sound technician can equalize the range of your voice.
Determine the appropriate distance from your mouth the microphone needs to be to sound good.
Beware of distracting vocal noises (popping sharp consonants or heavy breathing) or nonverbal sounds (hitting the lectern or ruffling papers) that might be amplified.
Get as familiar with the microphone as you can. Where is the on and off switch?
Be careful not to make private comments. Always assume a microphone is on.
If you will be speaking with a lavaliere microphone, wear a belt to clip the transmitter on or have a pocket to put it in. You also may want to wear a suit jacket or a blazer to hide the wire.
Use a high-quality microphone that doesn’t make you sound muffled.
A microphone can be a great tool to help your audience hear the nuances of your voice, which can help you to better connect with them. If you follow the tips outlined in this post, your microphone will enhance your presentation and allow you to deliver a great speech.
I was honored to be spotlighted as an adjunct faculty member at the Art Institute of Phoenix in a recent article. I am currently teaching two public speaking courses to the incredibly talented students there.
The Art Institute teaches photography, film production, graphic and web design, interior design, game art and design, and culinary arts. They are a fascinating bunch of creative minds and I enjoy helping them discover public speaking and business communication skills that I know will help them throughout their personal and professional lives. Read the Article
Whether to use PowerPoint or other presentation software is an important decision when planning out a speech or business presentation (as discussed in Public Speaking Tip #34). If you do decide to create presentation slides make sure they are done correctly and convey the right image for you as a public speaker or business presenter. You can get some great ideas for content and slide design from SlideShare.net (as discussed in Public Speaking Tip #35).
I love the following two videos for the Do’s and Don’ts of using PowerPoint and other presentation software. The first video, done by comedian Don McMillan, is mainly for fun but does make some great points about what not to do. The second video, done by the Presenters Toolkit, gives some great tips to keep in mind when making slides. I hope you enjoy them both.
Sometimes it can be challenging to think of how to convey an idea visually for a PowerPoint slide for your speech or business presentation. One great place I get ideas from is SlideShare.net, which is now part of LinkedIn. As the name suggests, SlideShare.net contains thousand and thousands of slide decks.
On SlideShare.net, you can search for any topic and usually find hundreds if not thousands of slides on that subject that might help your speech or business presentation. While not all of the examples on SlideShare.net are great, there are many gems that just may spark the visual idea you need. You also may find content ideas you haven’t thought of.If you’re in a rut or looking to
If you’re in a rut or looking to take your presentation slides up a notch, SlideShare.net is a good place to spend a few minutes.