“90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” ~ Somers White
The No. 1 predictor of how well your speech or business presentation goes will be how well you prepare for it. In public speaking, there is no substitute for preparation.
Early in the preparation process, I like to close my eyes and try to imagine every little detail about the event. Where will I be before coming to the stage? What does the stage look like? Is there a podium? Who will introduce me? What will the audience be wearing? Where will they be sitting? What’s the lighting like? Will I have a microphone? Where will my laptop be? Is there a place to put my water? And so on, and so on.
It may sound a little odd, and maybe others do it differently, but for me, imagining every detail helps me to uncover things I’ve overlooked that I can add to my checklist and resolve ahead of time. It helps me feel more comfortable about the whole event and how it will unfold. It is like doing a dress rehearsal in your head!
Here are links to related posts that have tons of tips to help you prepare:
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.
You can learn these skills in our Speak Up and Stand Out workshop being presented in conjunction with the Phoenix Business Journal on July 27, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce.
In this highly interactive workshop, you will master the basics of:
Using your body language to influence and include
Using storytelling in presentations to turn heads and win hearts
Introducing yourself to make a great first impression
Get your calendars out, it’s a busy couple of months ahead. I have a speaking gig and a book signing in San Francisco, and several workshops and a talk coming up for Phoenix area residents.
As part of my corporate communication consulting business, I will co-present a talk on intranet best practices at the Advanced Learning Institute’s Digital Workplace and Intranet Summit in San Francisco on June 22. I’ll also sign copies of my book Maximizing Internal Communication at the summit. I’m pleased to say that my book is the No. 1 book on Amazon that details how large companies can communicate more effectively with their employees. It’s even being used by Jame Madison University in an advanced level communication course.
Back in Phoenix, I’ll present a workshop on crisis communication best practices on June 28. This session is geared to public information officers and others who serve as spokespeople for organizations, but it is open to anyone with an interest in this unique form of public speaking. It’s free but seating is limited to 20, so you must RSVP.
And if that weren’t enough, I’ll be teaching two public speaking classes and a non-fiction writing course at The Art Institute of Phoenix this summer. Yep, it keeps me busy and it keeps me young. I love the creative students and I think I learn as much from them as they do from me.
You can find all of our events listed on our Events Page. I look forward to meeting you at one.
As busy as it is, I still have plenty of room for you! Please remember that I’m available for personal coaching sessions or to do a speech or a workshop that is customized for your organization. Referrals are my lifeblood and I appreciate all your support. Here’s wishing you a fantastic summer!
Communication is, by definition, a two-way process and listening is a crucial skill to being successful in your business and your personal life. We need to be able to listen well when communicating with clients, customers, and co-workers, and they need to know that they were heard.
Interested vs. Interesting
Between talking and listening, the latter is more difficult and, in my opinion, more important. Many of us don’t listen to understand; we listen to be understood. Presentation coach Pam Chambers, from whom I’ve learned so much, points out that in networking situations we don’t need to be the most interesting person in the room, we need to be the most interested person in the room.
In our Listen Up and Stand Out workshop, we focus on enhancing active listening skills. Being a good listener allows you to be a better public speaker and presenter and it certainly makes you stand out from those who don’t listen.
Simple Listening Formulas
To be a better listener, try this simple cyclical formula:
Ask for more information. “So, tell me more about that.”
Clarify or rephrase what you heard. “Wow. That’s really cool! So you [rephrase what you were just told].”
Asking for more information uncovers details that are often crucial to understanding. Clarifying proves you were listening and ensures you got it right.
For problem resolution, we repeat the two steps and add a third. It goes like this:
Ask for more information. “So, tell me more about that.”
Clarify or rephrase what you heard. “So, if I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying [rephrase what you were just told].”
“So what if we tried [insert solution]. Would that work for you?
Getting to ‘Yes’ Is the Goal
Getting agreement is the goal. But if you don’t, the cycle continues until the other part finally says “yes.” Here’s how to continue the cycle: “So tell me more about why that doesn’t work for you?” … “Oh, I see. That doesn’t work for you because [rephrase what you were just told].” “So how about instead we [insert solution]. Would that work for you?” And so on. Check out this video to see this formula in action: The Angry Patient.
Some people are better listeners than others. Some have to work very hard at it. It doesn’t come naturally for all of us. But the good news is, with a simple formula and a lot of practice, you can become a better listener and thus become a better communicator.
Give the formulas a try and let us know how it goes. We’d love to hear from you!
When does a speech or business presentation begin? Answer: As soon as it is assigned. That’s when preparation for the presentation begins and that preparation will be the single biggest factor in determining how well your presentation goes. Part of that preparation must include audience research. You must know your audience to be a successful speaker.
Here are some questions to consider:
What does the audience know about me? Am I credible with them?
What does the audience know about my topic?
What are the audience’s views on my topic and purpose?
How do audience members define themselves?
How do the setting and occasion influence my audience?
How will the audience be dressed?
Are there cultural considerations?
What matters to audience members? What do they value? What are they skeptical about?
What are audience members interested in? What motivates them?
The answers to these questions can affect everything from the clothes you choose to wear to the words you choose to use. The more you understand your audience, the more effective you’ll be in connecting with them. And audience connection is really what it’s all about.
The sign in the Starbucks window reads: “We welcome Service Animals.” And, in much smaller letters, it states: “No pets, please. Thanks.” Being warm and welcoming is on brand for Starbucks so it’s no surprise that their customer signage follows suit. The message easily could have been reversed with the “No pets, please!” in large letters (and an exclamation mark added for good measure) and a smaller “we welcome service animals.” But Starbucks wisely prefers their coffee cup half full, not half empty.
When it comes to persuasive public speaking and business presentations, you should choose to use positive words. It will make you a more effective communicator.
The Starbucks sign is a great example of the power a positive tone. A positive tone enhances your ability to connect with your audiences, whoever they may be. Human brains are wired to understand and remember positive expressions better than negative expressions. Telling someone to “be still” is more effective than “don’t run.” Business directives get through better if we explain the action we want our audience to take rather than what not to do. When giving instructions for tasks, or stating policies, detailing procedures, or in countless other directives, it’s easy to slip into needless negative tones. Sometimes we do it simply because we are trying to be more serious. But compare: “You cannot sign up until Jan. 1” to “You can begin signing up Jan. 1.”
It’s simply more effective to be positive. Talking to your customers and employees in a positive tone is a simple change that over time can have a big impact. Try to catch yourself when you are using negative word choices. With practice, and over time, you will learn to speak more positively.
So don’t forget, err…I mean, please remember: Be positive. It works.
The truth is, life is a series of presentations. And if you think about it, most of those presentations are unscripted. All the world’s a stage and we’re always presenting on the go. We believe speeches should be delivered without fear and without notes so we teach simple, easy-to-remember formulas that allow you to think on the fly and put together great presentations.
You don’t get to use a teleprompter with you into a job interview, a loan application meeting, or to a business networking meeting. But public speaking doesn’t have to be scary or difficult. Check out our upcoming workshops or contact us about personal coaching to see how you can get the confidence to speak up and the skills to stand out in any situation.
You’re about to make a persuasive presentation to a cross-functional task team of your peers in a conference room with a long rectangular table. Quick – where’s the best place to sit?
The head of the table you say?
The head of the table is great for a “command-and-control” style directive, but your persuasive speech to your peers will be more effective if it is delivered as an “influence-and-include” presentation.
That means a seat in the middle of the table is your best position. The head of the table can only directly influence the people in the two seats closest to them. But the middle position can directly influence those seated on either side plus two to four people seated across from them.
From the middle position, you can more effectively use your tone subtleties, body language, eye contact and charisma to make connections and draw more people over to your point of view.
Your middle seat position also supports powerful non-verbal messages that you want to send to other meeting participants. It says that you are part of the team, you are approachable, you are open to other points of view, and that you are a collaborator. And when trying to win over your colleagues, those are pretty good messages to send.
Handshakes have been in the news a lot lately as President Trump meets with world leaders. In these interactions, there has been lots of talk about who was dominant, who was awkward, and who got it right.
Handshakes do make a difference. They set a tone for a conversation and how you do your handshake can say a lot about you. A handshake can make or break the first impression someone has of you. Because handshakes are a conscious exertion of body language and how we present ourselves, they are an important part of public speaking. And in today’s fiercely competitive business climate, how well you present yourself can make the difference in getting ahead or going home. So to succeed, it’s important that we do this basic business interaction correctly.
In the video clip below, Paul Barton shows how to do a handshake that exudes confidence and a willingness to partner with someone. Both of those qualities are crucial in most interpersonal and business settings. A proper handshake helps you send the messages you’re intending to send and it helps you to stand out in the minds of your customers, clients and business partners. So go on — shake it up!
Body language is crucial to effective public speaking. It communicates more than our words. Some experts say as much as 80% of what we communicate is done through our body language. So, it’s important that we are using our body language to communicate what we are intending to say.
When you are making a business presentation, is your body language sending signals of “command and control” or are you trying to “influence and include?” You will have more success at persuading audiences to your way of thinking if you adopt a strategy of influence and include.
In this video clip from our “Speak Up and Stand Out” workshop, Paul Barton presents some tips on using body language to help you be more a more inclusive public speaker and presenter.
By using your body language to say what we are intending to say, you can become a more powerful communicator.