Archive for December, 2007

Think about your ABC

December 31, 2007

If you are a sales person ABC usually stands for Always Be Closing, in public speaking it has another meaning: Always Be Collecting. This means collecting quotes, stories, ideas and funny incidents. Keep a note pad with you so that when you hear or see something funny you can write it down. Ideas for your next speech can come from anywhere.

Why does that brilliant idea always come to you while you’re in the shower? If you are like me, ideas for my next speech come while I am shampooing my hair. I have a couple of work arounds for this once I have washed the shampoo out and I can see what I am doing. The first is to have a note book with a pen hidden in one of the vanity draws so that I can find it and write down my idea -this can leave the paper very soggy as water drips every where. The second is slightly different, I take my phone into the bathroom with me and when the idea pops into my head I turn my phone into a voice recorder. This means that I can hop out of the shower record my idea and then pop back into the shower with very little hassle. Don’t you just love technology.

Think about your ABC and you are well on your way to having material for your next speech.

Numbers, numbers every where

December 22, 2007

You’re starting to panic, in your next speech you have to use lots and lots of numbers, dates and statistics. You’ve seen it before where a speaker has put an audience to sleep with their dry boring presentation.

Don’t panic!

Numbers feel and sound intelligent and as as long as you use them wisely you can use them to wow your audience.

1. Use numbers clearly. Don’t hide important numbers in the middle of your presentation, make them stand out. Use your voice to imply how important the numbers, dates and statistics are that you are quoting. Dramatise the numbers by using pacing, pauses, increasing or decreasing volume, the rate at which you speak or the tone of your voice.

2. Use them sparingly. If you use every number available to you, this is when you will send your audience to sleep. Think about the numbers you have available, which ones make the most impact and will be the most memorable?

3. Use numbers visually. Use numbers visually to engage your audience, can you put the numbers in a graph, chart, map or use them pictorially? We all know “a pictures says a thousand words”.

Numbers are a great tool and can be used to support your claims, strengthen an argument or persuade powerfully.

One Red Paperclip your way to confidence

December 20, 2007

Some of you may have heard the story about Kyle MacDonald who advertised to trade one red paperclip. Over a number of months and 13 trades later, he finally made his last trade for a house. If someone had told you that you could trade a paperclip for a house you probably would have laughed.

Why am I telling you this story?

I believe that people can become confident speakers. It won’t happen over night, but with practice and guidance it can be achieved. You need to actively work on your skills, challenge yourself with new and different environments until the day you reach your goal and achieve you own personal “red paperclip”

Always be looking for the next challenge, moving up, doing more and trying something new. If you can trade your way from a paperclip to a house, you just know amazing things can happen.

Reading out aloud for vocal variety

December 17, 2007

Have you ever listened to someone give a speech and there was very little deviation in their voice? They used the same monotone voice from start to finish.

An audience will notice your voice first before they think about what you are saying.

So how can we help put more variety into our voices – Easy, read out aloud!

Reading out aloud lets you listen to your own voice. You can hear your pronunciation of words and you can feel the emotion in the words that you speak.  Your voice is your most powerful tool, this is how you connect with your audience.

It is said that how we look accounts for 55% of our message, what we say for 7% and how we sound for 38%

As a speaker you need to grab the attention of your audience with your voice. A good speaking voice should be natural, expressive, easily heard and convey a sense of warmth.

Reading out aloud is a great way to practice your vocal variety.

So what should you read to help gain this vital skill? Children’s fairytales, poetry, newspapers or books.

If you don’t feel comfortable reading out aloud, you could sing along to the radio or your ipod as this will also help with your voice.

Practice versus Rehearsal

December 16, 2007

Do you know the difference between practice and rehearsal? Seems not many people do.

Practice is reviewing your script or slides while you are at home, in the office or on the train to work. You think about what you are going to say and what slides you will show. This is not rehearsal!

Rehearsal is where you actually stand up and run through your presentation as if you were presenting it to your audience. You rehearse your vocal variety, your gestures, your visual aids, your pauses, pacing and your interactions with the audience. Rehearsal can make the difference between a good speech and a great speech.

Think about your own presentations, are you practicing them or rehearsing them?

30 Second introduction

December 12, 2007

The New Year is when people start to think about applying for a new job – New Year, New Career. Job interviews are a great way to speak about yourself and tell a prospective employer what it is you can offer them. 

Advertisers spend a lot of time, thought and money on selling their product in the 30 second they have available to reach you via the television. You need to think about selling yourself the same way an advertiser would. Think about what you want to say in your own 30 second “MEommercial”.

People have short attention spans so you have to make your introduction memorable. The goal of the “Meommercial” is to engage the listener. You will be asked at some stage to “tell us a little bit about yourself” This is the question you have been waiting for because unlike the other candidates who will start to real off their resume, you will have your “Meommercial” ready. You want to generate  interest and change the interview process into a conversation. Think about what it is that makes you unique, not what it is that you do in your job.

You should try to have one dynamic or emotional word in your “Meommercial” that will capture the listeners attention. ” I resolve conflict on a daily basis” “I challenge people’s thought processes”, “I live outside of the box”.

Imagine that you are paying $1000.00 for every word that you use, would you want to keep your message succinct and memorable? 

What is it that you want to say about yourself in your 30 second introduction?

Wedding Speeches – your chance to shine!

December 9, 2007

Yesterday I attended a wedding, I haven’t been to a wedding in years but I’m at that age where some of my friends are walking down the aisle for the second time. The day was fantastic, the bride looked beautiful and all was well, until it came to the speeches. I am always suprised when people think they can wing a wedding speech on the day. This is the time for you to shine, giving a wedding speech can be easy, so to help you out I have put together a couple of suggestions.

  1. Prepare – prepare your speech before the big day. Introduce yourself and how you know the bride and groom. Thank people – bridesmaids, father of the bride, people who helped make the day happen etc. Tell a funny story or indident about the bride and groom – this may be how they met, their first date or how their car broke down miles from anywhere (the story should be funny – don’t embarrass people – remember family and children will be in attendance). Then talk about how they make a great couple and how you think they will tackle the future together. Finally rap it up with a toast to the happy couple.
  2. Rehearse – Give yourself plenty of time to rehearse your speech, don’t write it the night before and expect to be able to present it the next day. I would give yourself at least two weeks to practice.
  3. Alcohol – Try not to drink alcohol until after the speech. Keep your mind clear and you’ll be able to focus on what you want to say and won’t have to worry about forgetting or slurring your words
  4. Keep it short and sweet – when people attend a wedding they don’t want to be bogged down with speeches, 2 -4 minutes is long enough.
  5. Have fun – this is an important day but do keep it in perspective. Things can and quite often do go wrong, the important thing is to have fun and enjoy the day.

Opportunities Galore

December 7, 2007

When it comes to public speaking, practice makes perfect and this time of year is perfect for practicing. With Christmas and New Year there are many opportunities to stand up and say a few words or propose a toast. You don’t have to speak for a long time, 2 – 3 minutes is all you need but it gives you another chance to hone your skills, work on those nerves or try something new. 

In January people start to look for a new job – New Year/New Career. Volunteer to say a few words about the person leaving, it could be something sensible or you can roast the person (wit, humor and satire are used to convey the message), just ensure that the jokes and anecdotes are good natured and not mean spirited. If you do this often enough people will start to approach you to say something when the next person leaves. 

There are opportunities galore to practice speaking in public this time of year, remember, more opportunities means more experience.

Christmas Presents

December 5, 2007

Christmas is almost upon us and if you’re like me, you’ll be leaving your Christmas shopping until the last minute. If you have someone in your life that is interested in public speaking but don’t have a clue what to get them, may I suggest the following 3 books

Umm… A complete guide to public speaking by James O’Loghlin.

James O’Loghlin is one of Australia’s most popular comedians and his book has some practical tips for every sort of gathering. James has a step-by-step approach that will help you improve your skills enormously.

Secrets of Great Public Speakers! by Dale Beaumont

In this book you’ll discover secret tips from the experts, people who do this for a living and make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing it.

The FAQ book on public speaking by Eric Feng, Irene Ang and Kelvin Lim

Do you have a question about public speaking? This book has loads of questions that people have asked about public speaking and the answers.

All of these books have fantastic hints and tips on public speaking and each has something great to offer.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and keep on speaking!

How to handle those public speaking nerves

December 3, 2007

Tips for handling nerves when speaking in public.

  1. Breathe, this is the number one thing new presenters forget to do and then they run out of breath.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques.
  3. Visualise yourself succeeding, the brain cannnot tell the difference between reality and visualisation.
  4. Keep talk to yourself positive, you will give a great presentation.
  5. The audience wants you to succeed, nobody goes to a presentation expecting you to fail.
  6. Choose one friendly face and talk to them, then move onto the next friendly face.
  7. Be prepared, an audience can tell if you are not prepared
  8. Practice, Practice, Practice
  9. Be yourself
  10. Most importantly, have fun and the audience will have fun with you.