Our July 8 Speak Up and Stand Out workshop is full and we are no longer taking reservations but we still have spots left in the July 22 public speaking workshop. The workshops are free but you must reserve a spot. To ensure personal attention, the workshops are limited to 10 participants.
Start your journey to public speaking success by signing up for our July 2 session today!
I attended a wedding awhile back and snapped this photo of the groomsmen. The wedding was deep in the heart of Texas so, of course, it was held in a barn and the groomsmen were wearing matching western shirts, blue jeans, and cowboy boots. It was a fabulous wedding, the people were sure ’nuff friendly and I loved every minute of my visit to the Lone Star State.
The groomsmen stood like guys stand when they become conscious of their bodies and don’t know what to do with their hands. It’s a common problem I see with my public speaking clients every day. Each groomsman represented one of the ways I teach speakers not to stand when making a speech or business presentation — the military at ease position, the hands in the pockets, the fig leaf, and the hands the belt loop. The groomsmen were standing respectfully and they were just fine for the wedding ceremony but the problem with all these positions when you are speaking is that they inhibit your ability to gesture, which is key to being an effective presenter.
What Should You Do?
So, what should you do? How should you stand when speaking? And what the heck should you do with your hands?
What you should do is be yourself — yourself when you’re not nervous or overly self-conscience of your body. I’m going to bet that you don’t stand in any of these unnatural positions when you’re talking to your friends in the parking lot or at the water cooler. And, I’ll bet that you’re not at all concerned about what to do with your hands either.
Your Public Speaking Goal
The goal is this: to gesture naturally as you talk, the way you do when you’re telling a story or a good joke to your friends. So how do you get there? After all, you are nervous! Start by putting your hands at your sides. Then, and this is key, relax your arms from the shoulders down. Once your arms are under control, the nervous energy will travel to your legs and feet so your next step is to plant your feet solidly on the ground. Imagine that your feet are nailed to the floor. With your arms relaxed and your feet planted solidly. You’re now ready to begin speaking.
It will feel awkward at first. Most things do when you start. Remember the first time you shot a layup, tried to rollerskate, swung a golf club or went bowling? It was awkward, right? But through practice, it became second nature. The good news with gesturing is, you already know how to do it. You just need to relax. Following the steps outlined here, you gradually will forget about your body and begin to gesture naturally. I’ve seen some folks stand awkward with their hands at their sides for 45 seconds before they finally forget about their stance and began to gesture naturally. But eventually, they did. And the next time it only took 20 seconds, and the next time 10 seconds, and finally, after enough practice, they just did it from the get-go. They became themselves.
All Hat and No Cattle?
Public speaking isn’t about making you into someone you’re not — or as they say in Texas, someone who is all hat and no cattle. Effective public speaking is about making you more comfortable being yourself. Trust me, I wouldn’t steer you wrong. So go ahead, stand up straight, relax those arms, plant those feet. And before you know it, you will be gesturing as natural and as wide as the horns on a Texas Longhorn.
The advertisement for our Speak Up and Stand Out public speaking workshop appeared in today’s Phoenix Business Journal. You can register for the workshop here. We’ll cover a variety of public speaking and business presentation skills. Be sure to use this promo code to get a 25% discount: PHBB. Hope to see you there!
It takes a team effort to pull off large public speaking efforts. There are people who set up the stage, audio/visual people, the people who adjust the lighting and the room temperature, and so on. They are all part of your team and will be vital to a successful presentation. They can help you to get everything just right. Be sure to treat them like the valued business partners that they are.
It’s not only a wise move, it’s the right thing to do.
Photo of Yvette Koebke, Director of Sales and Marketing, Residence Inn/Courtyard Phoenix Downtown
When you speak confidently without notes, you can command the attention of your audience. How do you speak without notes? First, talk about what you know about. Then, create an outline. And finally, and this is the real key, memorize your outline, not a script.
Your outline should contain an introduction, a body (your key points) and a conclusion. Practice delivering your introduction, the key points and your conclusion without a script. It may not come out exactly the same way every time, and that’s OK. If you forget a small point, you will be the only person in the room who knows that.
Authenticity is crucial in today’s public speaking. We’ve become very skeptical of slick presentations and fast talkers. Having a few flubs in an unscripted presentation is far more effective than reading a perfect statement.
“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.