Phoenix Public Speaking coaching and workshops

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Use a Presentation Remote Control or a Helper

As in all public speaking endeavors, it’s crucial when making a business presentation to connect with your audience. That becomes more difficult if you find yourself trapped behind a lectern running PowerPoint slides. A lectern is a piece of furniture that comes between you and your audience and anything that separates you from your audience detracts from your ability to connect with them.

Solution: Get yourself a presentation remote control and a fresh set of batteries. This will allow you to move about the room freely and better interact and connect with your audience.

Before your presentation, test the remote to make sure it will work from the sides and back of the room. Make sure you know what all the buttons do.

What do you do if you don’t have a presentation remote control? Ask a colleague or friend to handle the keyboard and advance slides for you. When doing so, avoid overusing saying “next slide please” and instead cue your helper with a simple head nod or “the look.”

Remember: presentations are always, always, always about connecting with your audience. A presentation remote or a trusted helper will give you a better chance to connect with your audience and deliver a more powerful message.

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Add a Little P.R.E.P. to Your Unscripted Speaking

By Michele Trent
Public Speaking Coach

RECENTLY, I was at an event and the headline speaker gave a remarkable speech. It was fitting for the event, emotionally stirring, beautifully descriptive. He finished, we all clapped. Well done indeed. Then, this same speaker was asked to share an announcement with the crowd. He sounded like a completely different person. Once he no longer had the crutch of reading his exquisitely crafted remarks, he stuttered and stammered. He repeated himself and tried to explain over and again the one point he was tasked to deliver. It was awkward. And this after such a tremendous speech. What happened?

Delivering written remarks is a vastly different skill than impromptu or extemporaneous speaking. Both have their place but they are different. Have you ever been to a concert and watched amazing performers dancing and doing tricks all while singing flawlessly? Well, that’s because they are lip-syncing. Once the song is over and the mic is turned back on so that they can speak to the crowd directly, then you hear him or her huffing and puffing and gasping for breath after the high energy routine. They can dance and do acrobatic moves but that does not lend itself to singing. Same with speaking. While you might deliver your written and rehearsed speech well, what happens when you’re forced to tap into a different skill set?

Unscripted Speaking

Delivering written remarks is a skill. There is no doubt about that. You need to be familiar with what you are saying. You need to be concerned with pacing and tone. It’s rehearsed. In some instances, it is completely fitting to read your remarks. Impromptu (delivered without preparation) and extemporaneous (prepared but without a script) speaking require a different set of skills. While many people find it “scary,” it really need not be. Unscripted speaking is what you do every day, all day, when you interact with your friends and colleagues. What you will want to be most mindful of when you are called upon to speak with little or no notice is what point do you want to make?

This might sound overly simplistic. Of course, you will have a point! However, you’d be surprised at how masked your point can become when you are nervous, and you just start saying all kinds of other things to fill time and space. It is better to be succinct and simply stop talking than to ramble in such a way that your point is lost. This is what happened to the speaker I referred to at the beginning. His point got lost in all kinds of other weird and unrelated statements.

P.R.E.P. Formula

So, what do you do and how can you make your point well? Here’s a simple formula used by Phoenix Public Speaking, Toastmasters and others that you can employ in a business setting to make your point. The next time a meeting starts and your boss says, “hey, can you give a quick rundown of where we’re at for your project,” remember the acronym P.R.E.P.

  • The first P in P.R.E.P. stands for “Point.” Start with your main point.
  • Then “Relate” (or “Reason”). Why you are the one qualified to make this point.
  • The E stands for “Example,” give an example (such as a short story) to support your point.
  • And then “P,” make your point again with a recommendation.

When you put it all together, it might sound something like this:

“We have too many signs in our stores, they are costly, create clutter, and confuse the customer. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jane Smith and I lead the Signage Strategy Team. We recently concluded an expansive research project to identify the value of signs within our stores. The result of the study concludes that we could reduce the amount of signage in-store by 30% and expect an increase in customer purchases as a result. How could this be? We allocate up to 30 hours a week of manpower to put up and take down signs if this time was reallocated to customer service, associates could greet customers and be available to answer crucial customer questions regarding delivery and custom color options. In our test store with 30% fewer signs, sales increased 5% due to this increased customer interaction. Additionally, have you ever noticed how overwhelming our stores appear when you walk through the front door? The boldness of our signs diverts attention from our products and overwhelm our customers. With fewer signs and less information to take in, customers buy more. In short, we recommend reducing the overall number of signs in our store by 30% as a way of reducing costs, creating a more favorable aesthetic and increasing overall sales.”

This is a made-up example but you get the point – make your point, support your point, and make your point again. And then, stop talking. Don’t dilute what you have to say by adding information that could create confusion. If people have questions, invite them to ask those. Your job is to make the point.

Now, the next time you are called upon to give remarks with very little notice, what you have to say will be as clear as what you have rehearsed. You will simply be tapping into a slightly different set of skills.


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5 Tips to Make Your Accent More Understandable

By Paul Barton
Principal Consultant

I get approached from time to time by business professionals who are seeking help because they believe their accent is a detriment to their public speaking or business presentations. This usually surprises me because I find accents to be charming and at times even mesmerizing to listen to (my wife’s Filipino accent for instance).

But whether it’s charming, mesmerizing or something else, your accent is a part of who you are and attempting to change it dramatically would be disingenuous to your audience, and indeed, yourself.

That said, the real question becomes this: Can you be clearly understood by your audience? If the answer is “yes,” then embrace your accent! The problem was probably mostly in your head to begin with. Be yourself and speak with confidence.

However, if the answer is “no” and you are not being clearly understood, there are a few tips you can try to improve the way you speak:

  1. If you speak fast, try speaking slower.
  2. Practice pronouncing words that are used frequently in your business. Make sure you are enunciating the words you are having trouble with and stress the correct syllables.
  3. Record yourself reading a script or a book out loud and listen carefully to see what words aren’t being pronounced correctly.
  4. Listen carefully to TV newscasters and radio announcers. They are trained to speak clearly and typically speak without glaring accents.
  5. Try singing karaoke, watch the lyrics scroll across the screen, and note how the syllables are pronounced. A different part of your brain is engaged with music and often great learning can occur. After all, how did you learn your ABCs and why do you remember that ridiculous radio jingle you haven’t heard in decades?

If after trying these “home remedies” for a few weeks and you aren’t seeing any appreciable improvement, you may want to seek the help of a speech pathologist.

But whatever you do, please don’t try to lose your accent! Accents add a little spice to you and your presentation. Make sure you’re being understood and you will be great!

Don’t Wing It. Nail it!

By Michele Trent
Public Speaking Coach

WHAT DO YOU do when you are asked to give a business presentation to a group? Do you calmly say “yes” and then jump up and down internally with excitement? Or perhaps you calmly say “yes” and then your stomach drops and the chills begin. You dread that day on the calendar and chastise yourself for agreeing to speak in the first place. Or perhaps you are in between those two extremes. You feel OK about presenting but you feel like you don’t have time to put something together that is good. You resolve to just “wing it.” After all, who knows your business or your role in the company better than you do? Well, likely no one.

However, unless you are a fabulously skilled presenter who can organize your thoughts on the fly, you should give time and attention to put together your remarks. Speaking in front of an audience is a privilege. Connecting face-to-face is powerful and when all eyes are on you, you want to be ready. You want to ensure that those who come to hear you speak feel like the time or money they spent was well worth it.

Audience Considerations

There are many things to consider as you prepare for a presentation. For purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on one – the audience. As you sit down to think through your presentation, you should first consider who your audience is. What do you know about them? What are their needs? What might they fear? What victories of theirs can you reinforce? What do they already know about the subject matter? What is it the audience needs to know the most.

Just thinking through these questions will give you all kinds of intelligence you can incorporate in your remarks. Think back to a time when you heard a powerful speaker whom really connected with you. You probably felt as though they were speaking right to you. What made it seem this way? Most likely, that speaker did their due diligence. They understood who would be in the audience and they crafted their remarks accordingly. It is not a coincidence that the speaker connected with you. Nope. It is because they did their homework and understood who you were. You can do the same.

Craft your remarks with your audience in mind. It sounds so simple and yet it means so much. What if you don’t know who’s going to be in your audience? Put on your detective hat and find out. Who invited you to speak? Ask them about the audience. Does this group meet regularly? If so, try and visit a meeting prior to the one when you are the featured speaker. How about a survey? Can you send something in advance with a few relevant questions? Let your contact know that you want to customize your remarks and ask if they would be willing to send out a short survey on your behalf. Incorporate your learnings into your presentation. Is there any information online about the group? What can you learn from their online presence?

Connecting with Your Audience

As you learn more about your audience, your confidence will grow. What was unknown and perhaps scary becomes more known and comfortable. Instead of “winging it” and maybe connecting with a few people in a haphazard way, draft your content in terms of your audience and increase your chance of connection. Your audience will know that you care about them when they hear content that is meaningful to them, shared in a relatable way.

When it comes to making a presentation, don’t “wing it.” Instead, “nail it!”


Phoenix Public Speaking coachingNeed help to prepare for your upcoming business presentation? Check out our 1-on-1 personal coaching packages.

7 Presentation Tips from a Workshop Pro

By Jeff Herrington
Guest Blogger

Your industry has asked you to present on your field of expertise. But the thought of presenting makes your palms sweat.

Calm your nerves. Follow these seven tips and you’ll likely get applause from your audience, not rotten tomatoes.

  1. Remind yourself nobody’s going to throw rotten tomatoes at you – Your audience is rooting for you. Still, establishing rapport up front helps. Ask about someone’s lapel pin or laptop case. Don’t glad-hand everyone – that comes across needy. Be friendly but be authentic.
  2. Don’t let a slip break your stride – Correct your malapropism (or excuse your cough) and keep on presenting. People care more about how a presenter reacts to a snafu than the fact they made one. Just smile, say “oops,” and offer your next key point. Your audience will be impressed you withstood a faux pas far better than they would have.
  3. Move around. But don’t make people seasick – When you start, anchor in a location and remain there for several minutes. Once you’re into your presentation, however, feel free to gently roam. Audiences like to know their presenter isn’t some remote-controlled robot. But you’re not a thoroughbred vying for the Triple Crown, either. Glide. Stop. Present for a while. Glide again.
  4. Dialogue more, monologue less – Engagement is the goal. People learn more through conversation (and are less likely to doze off). Pitch questions: ‘Who has encountered this challenge and how did YOU solve it?’ Even let your audience answer one another’s questions. But control the room. This is YOUR presentation, not The Jerry Springer Show.
  5. One point per slide – I’m stunned some presenters still put six bullet points on one slide. Like there’s a dearth of PowerPoint slides out there and we need to conserve them. Deliver your points one at a time, visually as well as orally. You’ll more easily recall what you have to say and your audience will more easily recall what you said.
  6. Expect pushback. Know how to manage it – Challenging authority has replaced baseball as our national pastime. Expect someone to dispute some point you’re making. Here’s where “getting along” must transcend “proving you’re right.” Ask challengers how they derived their view (you may find some truth in their perspective, allowing you to then show how nuanced your topic is). If their view’s incorrect, or outdated, don’t say that. Focus on what the evidence reveals (“We used to think the world was flat, but explorers have disproven that by sailing around the world.”) That moves the dispute from one of opinions to facts.
  7. Conclude by asking for questions. And, for enlightenment – In wrapping up, I ask what surprised the group most about what they heard. What they learned that they hadn’t expected to. What they’ll do differently as a result of my talk or continue to do with greater passion. Their answers should convince your hosts that you got your points across well. And, that they should invite you back to present on another topic.

ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER

Jeff Herrington has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in the U. S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., and Germany. Companies that have been brought Jeff’s workshops on-site include JPMorgan Chase, American Century Investments, Arizona Public Service, IBM, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Jeff also has provided consulting expertise for such companies as Coca-Cola France, Whirlpool, John Deere and Wausau Insurance.

In addition to his consulting, coaching and workshops, Jeff also has composed several crossword puzzles that have been published in The New York Times, and he writes under the name of Jeffrey Eaton as a murder mystery author.

You can connect with Jeff on LinkedIn or on his Jeff Herrington Communications website.

Presentation Structure: What, So What, Now What

By Paul Barton
Phoenix Public Speaking Founder and Owner

IMAGINE you are going to build a house with the finest building materials available, but without a foundation or a frame. What you’d have is a mess. That’s what a speech or business presentation with great content but no structure is like. Structure helps your business presentation to be digestible. It keeps you on point and helps keep you on time.

In a previous blog, public speaking coach Michele Trent wrote about the need to have an introduction, a body and a conclusion to every speech or presentation, and she explained the format in the easy-to-understand terms “tell ‘em what you’re going to tell them, tell ‘em, and tell ‘em what you just told ‘em.”

Intro, body, and conclusion are the fundamental parts of a presentation.

Presentation Structure

Here’s a different way of thinking about the structure of a presentation that may help you organize your thoughts and frame your points – what, so what, now what.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • What (Introduction) – What is your presentation about.
  • So What (Body) – Why does it matter to the audience.
  • Now What (Conclusion) – What are you asking the audience to do (the call to action).

Sequence is Key

One key to this organizational format is that it must go in the proper sequence. Have you ever been asked to sign a petition in a parking lot of a grocery store? I never sign them. Why? In part because the petitioner is skipping the “What” and “So What” stages and going directly to the “Now What” stage. I don’t know what they are talking about or why it matters to me, so I can’t commit to taking action.

Don’t assume your audience knows what you’re talking about. Establish a good foundation. Build facts and examples upon that foundation to clearly outline why the issue is important. Then clearly explain what action you want your audience to take.

With a solid structure, you can build a strong case for the change or action you are seeking. Next time you’re preparing a presentation, think about your structure. When you apply a solid structure, you’ll have a great presentation.

RELATED POST: Your Teacher Was Right — Structure Your Speech

Your Teacher Was Right — Structure Your Speech

By Michele Trent
Public Speaking Coach

You probably remember giving class presentations or speeches in middle school or high school. If it was anything like my experience, you weren’t given a tremendous amount of guidance. You were given a general idea of what your topic was to be about, you were told how long to speak, whether you could use visual aids, and not to talk too fast.

As for the structure of your remarks, it was pretty much – tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you told ‘em. Albeit simple, this is still sound advice. When it gets right down to it, your presentation will have an open, a body, and a conclusion. Of course, there’s quite a bit you can do within each section but, at its core, this is the basic structure.

One simple way to elevate your next presentation is to give extra thought to the opening and closing. Many times, presenters just want to get to the guts of the presentation and forget to set it up for the audience and let them know what they are going to hear. Likewise, at the end, it is tempting to go right to the questions and then neglect the close. If you sum up the points you have made, you will drastically increase the likelihood that your audience will remember what you’ve just said.

One reason you may sway from this tried and true formula is that it might seem redundant to you. If you mention your main points three times and then unpack the points during the body of the presentation, isn’t that overkill? Nope. You are familiar with your message. Your audience is not. While they may have varying degrees of knowledge (your manager may have heard the points from you already), they are not immersed in the details the way you are. Plus, we live in a fast-paced, content-overloaded, culture. People are getting message flung at them from all sides. When you have their attention, walk them through your material in such a way that it is impossible to be misunderstood. It is better to have one person say “sheesh, I’ve got it already” than five people walk out scratching their heads wondering what the heck that was all about.

As part of your opening, clearly lay out what you are going to present. Then, present it clearly with illustrations, examples, data, and application. Finally, sum it all up, so that everyone knows the key takeaways. If we all applied this simple structure that was given to us in grammar school, we would find that many of our meetings would be more productive simply because we would be walking out with the same set of important learnings.

Do you have a business presentation on the horizon? Think through your remarks. Are you planning to tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you’ve told ‘em? If not, you may be missing a simple and direct method for clearly communicating what it is you have to say.

 

PowerPoint Tips to Make Your Presentation More Powerful

By Tim Fisher
Graphic Design Expert

It’s hard to believe PowerPoint has been around for more than 30 years. It has become a common tool used by most companies to produce business presentations. Although the program is easily accessible, not all presentations are successful. A well-designed presentation helps make your content more understandable, as well as more memorable. Unfortunately, good design is not a template in PowerPoint.

If you’d like to maximize the impact of your PowerPoint presentation, here are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind:

> Consistency: Use master slides to help give the presentation structure, and save you time as you create new slides. These also can be customized if needed.

> Focus: Don’t speak to your slides—talk to your audience. Each slide should support and reinforce your messaging.

> The Opener: Open with something surprising or intriguing that appeals to your audience’s emotions. This will quickly get their attention.

> Slide count: Limit the number of slides. If you are not sure, try to go with one per minute.

>Format: Never use paragraphs. Bulleted items are best—no more than six bullet points per slide. Try to avoid centering the copy. Left-aligned text is best, as it makes for a smoother read.

> Pacing: Animated builds (text that appears with a mouse click) control the pacing of the presentation. This keeps the audience focused on you and not reading ahead.

> Fonts: Stay with a few standard fonts and avoid trendy typefaces that are hard to read. Sans-serif fonts are easiest to read. Some of the oldest typefaces, such as Helvetica or Arial, never go out of style. Use varying weights for emphasis—never use all caps.

> Photos: One of the most common mistakes is using low quality, gimmicky photos. Keep in mind that quality images are a reflection of your brand.

> Special Effects: You’re not trying to make the next Star Wars epic. Avoid overused transitions, fly-ins, inappropriate animations, and sounds. These quickly become annoying and distract from your communication.

Using these tips will help you to have well-designed PowerPoint slides that support your key points and give you a more powerful presentation.


ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER

Phoenix Public Speaking coaching and workshopsTim Fisher is the founder of Summation, a brand design firm in Scottsdale, Ariz. For 20 years, Tim and his team have worked with a wide range of clients, from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups. They provide brand development/brand revitalization, corporate identity, packaging, print, and website design. They especially enjoy working with smaller companies, developing their brands one project at a time.

Connect with Tim: Email | Website

 

 

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Speak and Bespoke: How to Dress for Speaking Success

WHEN you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you present with greater confidence and poise. What’s more, your attire is an important part of your visual communication. Just like your body language, the clothes you choose to wear send important messages to your audience. So, knowing how important your business wardrobe can be to your speaking and career success, our own Paul Barton asked fashion expert Mary Zarob for some advice.

Q. A business professional has a big presentation coming up that could make or break their career. They want to look their best and they come into your shop. Where would you start?

MZ: I would start by asking about their business, the event and who they are presenting to. Lawyers? Real estate professionals? Sales teams? CEOs? In today’s business world, you need to dress for your customers and clientele. Also, I would learn about their personal style and how they like clothes to fit. It’s important to me that my clients feel comfortable in their clothes and like what they wear. I wouldn’t put them in a three-piece suit when they are presenting to technology executives and should wear a jacket and jeans. You want to look professional and tailored, however, it’s important that the audience is focusing on what you are saying and not the color of your shirt or shoes.

Q. Would your fashion guidance change if the person was in their 20s versus someone like me in their 50s? Does the age of the speaker in any way influence appropriate attire?

MZ: It does! It’s important to dress for your age. However, a lot of my younger clients want to dress older and my older clients want to dress younger. An easy and inexpensive way to change an outfit for your age or to appeal to another generation is what accessories you choose. Shoes, belt, watch, handbag, jewelry, etc. can transform an outfit quickly. Pearl earrings vs. trendy hoops or loafer vs. Chelsea boot. Simple accessory changes and details can make your outfit age appropriate.

Q. What trends are you seeing in business attire for men and women? Anything in particular for Phoenix?

MZ: Overall, Phoenix isn’t a very formal town but I am seeing a lot of men and women turning away from casual (T-shirt and jeans) and dressing up more. For women, I’m seeing more and more jackets or blazers in the office. However, it’s not a full suit like the 1980s but more a stylish color or pattern. They also wear them out to dinner or happy hour. There is a feminine trend happening with more lace, florals, and ruffles on shirts and skirts. It’s still professional but with a feminine touch. Women in the office want to be taken seriously but still feminine (not sexy).

For men – (like women) – they are dressing up more. The untucked shirt is only for short sleeve shirts and not for the office or happy hour. Men are tucking in the shirts and showing off their belts and accessories. They don’t go anywhere without a jacket and aren’t afraid of color and pattern. Patterned slacks are very popular. If they own a patterned suit, they will wear the pants by themselves with a collared shirt to the office or on an appointment. Another trend I’m seeing for men is monochromatic dressing – wearing the same shade of color head to toe.

Q. What should business professionals consider when beginning or updating their wardrobes?

MZ: I always suggest going through your closet first and tailoring/altering anything that doesn’t fit how you like. If pants are too long, hem them. If a skirt is too big, take it in. If a shirt is too baggy, have it slimmed down. Often times, in people’s closets there are great clothes that aren’t being worn because they don’t fit right. Or, the style was fuller or baggy and now it’s more tailored. Simple alterations can help bring life to your clothes and it’s less expensive than throwing everything away.

Next, I suggest making sure you have the basics: a suit, a couple of slacks, shirts, skirts, dresses, and shoes in the basic colors that can go with everything. Then slowly add colors or patterns in key pieces like slacks, shirts, skirts, and shoes. Keep in mind when you shop, you don’t have to buy everything at once. The stores will always be there and offering great styles and colors. Also, watch what people wear at the office or in meetings and take note of what you like and don’t like. Ask them where they got what they are wearing or where they shop – especially if they have the same build or frame as you. It can help take headaches out of shopping because you know that store or brand will fit you. Don’t forget accessories like jewelry, pocket squares, belts, shoes and glasses can elevate an outfit. If you tend to wear the same shirts and slacks to the office, have fun with different heel weight or loafer or even belts. Simple details can change an outfit (for the better).

Q. I once worked with a CEO of a Fortune 500 company who often wore a black belt with brown shoes. It drove me nuts! What are some common fashion mistakes you see business professionals make?

MZ: The most common mistake I see with business professionals is their clothes don’t fit properly. Clothes are either too tight or too loose and it makes them look unprofessional or sloppy. Many people get hung up on only wearing a certain size but each brand fits so differently that you may wear a different size from store to store.

Q. Summer is coming. How do you look professional but stay cool at the same time?

MZ: Natural fibers are the key. Cottons, linens, and even very lightweight wools breath and allow air to pass through (especially for suits, slacks, and shirts). A lot of performance fabrics or brands have finishes that whisk moisture away and I recommend them as well. If you sweat a ton, no matter what you wear, keep an extra shirt or two at the office so you can change. Sometimes you can’t help but sweat when its 115 degrees outside.

Q. Business presenters usually move around and may sweat a little. Often, they have lavaliere microphone wires strung inside their jackets. They may need a pocket for a presentation clicker. Given all of these possibilities, what do you suggest for their attire?

MZ: I strongly suggest you wear a jacket or suit that you can move around in and that isn’t too tight. A higher armhole on a jacket allows for more movement vs. a larger armhole. Wear something that is lighter weight vs. a heavy fabric – it will move easier. Also, when shopping, practice walking around or moving your arms to ensure the clothing you are buying is comfortable and not restricting.

Q. Presenters are often on-stage and this poses a unique challenge for women. What are your thoughts on appropriate dress length?

MZ: I strongly suggest wearing dresses or skirts to the knee or longer. Also, wear stockings or tights if appropriate. If you are unsure, wear slacks. You want the audience to focus on your face and what you are saying vs. a wardrobe malfunction.

Q. Speakers may need to travel. When you arrive at your destination, you might find that your perfect speaking outfit is a wrinkled mess. Any thoughts on fabrics that pack well?

MZ: Clothes will wrinkle and some more than others. Many brands advertise wrinkle free or resistant shirts, tops, and slacks. I would start there. Another option is better quality wool suits or jackets. To look good and presentable, it’s going to cost some money and investing in yourself is worth it. It doesn’t mean you have to fork over thousands of dollars, but certain pieces go a long way. I would avoid linen or lightweight cottons. They tend to wrinkle more.

Polyester or synthetic blends are great options to avoid wrinkles. One last resort would be to invest in a good travel steamer and steam your clothes when you get to your destination. It may take 15-20 minutes, but you will feel like a million bucks knowing you look ironed and polished.

Q. When a speaker knows they will be video recorded, do you have any suggestion regarding colors or patterns to stay away from?

MZ: I would avoid white shirts – they can be stark and glow on camera. I would also avoid small patterns or designs, they tend to vibrate and move on-screen, which can be very distracting. Also, keep accessories and make-up subtle. You want the viewer to focus on your face and what you are saying instead of your loud tie, pocket square, lip color or eye shadow. You want people to remember what you said and not to be known for your neon necklace.


ABOUT OUR GUEST

Phoenix Public Speaking bespoke tailorMary Zarob is the owner of Q. Contrary in Phoenix (3188 E. Indian School Road), which offers bespoke tailoring, image consulting, personal shopping, and alterations to help men and women look and feel their very best. Before opening her own business, Mary was a designer for Macy’s and Calvin Klein Jeans. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

Connect with Mary: Website | LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook

Body Language and Your Clothes Make a Statement

By Paul Barton

I often use the above historic photo in my public speaking workshops. The photo was taken just before the start of the very first presidential debate to be carried on live television. You, of course, recognize the contestants — Richard Nixon vs. John F. Kennedy.

When I show the photo to my workshop attendees, I ask folks to shout out, in one word, what the body language of each candidate says to them. Invariably, they shout words like “nervous, uncomfortable, awkward” for Nixon and “leader, calm, cool” for Kennedy. Then I repeat the exercise, but this time I ask the attendees to focus on just the clothing the two are wearing. The result is identical. Yep, clothes make a statement and the attire chosen by Nixon and Kennedy were saying this: awkward vs. cool.

It is fascinating to me that before either man stood up to speak — before they even uttered a single word — their body language and their clothing were sending clear messages to the audience.

And the Winner is …

Equally fascinating is this fact: those who listened to the debate on radio thought Nixon was the clear winner of the debate but those who watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy was the clear winner. The difference — verbal communication vs. visual communication.

The majority of our communication is done visually — body position, eye contact, facial expressions, and, yes, clothing. What’s more, visual communication is seen by audiences as more credible than verbal communication.

What this means for business presenters like you is this: It’s a very competitive world out there and you need every edge you can get. Visual communication just might make the difference between getting to the next level in a business relationship or going home.

Coming Up …

We’ve talked a lot in this blog about body language, but what about what about what to wear? What clothes are best for making presentations? Well, we’ve got you covered there as well. Check back here on Friday for “Speak and Bespoke: How to Dress for Speaking Success,” a Q&A interview with Phoenix fashion expert Mary Zarob. It’s a fun and informative read. See you then!