public speaker

Public Speaking Challenge: Can You Give A Speech In 6 Seconds?

Curtain and MicWhat if this happened to you? You prepare a presentation, and then the public speaker before you uses up all the time. What if you only had 6 seconds? Would you give a presentation or would you pick up your marbles and go home? The public speaking game has changed.The digital age requires speed, brevity, and clarity. Public speakers are competing with technology. Your presentation has to be more compelling than their texts. Audience attention spans are shrinking. They're expecting 18 minute TED talks. Presentations are getting shorter and shorter, especially video presentations.

So as a public speaker, how do you present value in less time?

It's important to get to the point quickly. It's harder to give a speech in 10 minutes than in one hour. Less time requires more focus.

This month, the National Speaker's Association has their annual convention. The theme is Influence 2015. All professional speakers were challenged to submit a 6 second presentation. As a seasoned public speaker, the shortest video presentation I've given is 1 minute. So I decided to take the public speaking challenge!

Here is my 6 second presentation:

So now I'm challenging you to send me a video of your 6 second presentation. Submit the link to your video in the comments below. I'll be timing you!


Public Speaking: Does Sizzle Matter More Than The Steak?


men-102441_640What's more important? Style or Substance? Sizzle or Steak?  I ask this question in my public speaking and presentation seminars. The class is usually divided but they vote more often for the sizzle. It makes sense. Before people can hear your content, you have to get their attention. In order to keep their attention you need to engage them. We all know public speakers who have a message that matters, but because they have poor delivery skills, they lose their audience. The message doesn't get through.

Public speakers who have excellent presentation skills know how to attract and charm an audience. And that's why some public speakers with weak substance get higher marks.

This TEDx presenter and comedian humorously demonstrates how good public speaking techniques can make him sound intelligent even in the absence of content!

From Good to Great to Awesome Presentations

nsa-new-yorkHow do public speakers go from good to great to awesome? They attend the NYC chapter of the National Speakers Association. The guest speaker for November was executive speech coach, Patricia Fripp. The speaker covered five areas every professional speaker must master in order to be great on the platform:

  1. Strong Structure - Fripp shared the importance of knowing your premise and telling the audience the why and how of your message.
  2. Compelling Openings - The audience received a page with one liners such as "It never ceases to amaze me...", " The year was... ",  "What would the world be like without...?"
  3. Emotional Connection - To create an emotional opening start with something emotional or heartfelt and back it up with logical reasons.
  4. Memorable Stories - Stories are powerful and can be any length as long as the audience remains engaged.
  5. Laser Sharp Specificity - Generalities weaken a presentation. Words like "stuff" dilute the message and confuse the listeners. Remove empty words and use specific language.

After the morning lecture, Fripp spent the afternoon doing quick laser coaching with volunteers. Each speaker spoke no more than two or three lines before the coaching began. It was evident how a powerful opening sets the stage for the rest of the presentation.

To go from good to great to awesome public speaking, remember the five tips: strong structure, compelling openings, emotional connection, memorable stories, and laser sharp specificity.

Is Your Difficult Audience in the Workplace?


When you think about difficult audiences, do you envision an audience in an auditorium with you speaking on the stage? Well, you don't have to be a formal public speaker to encounter a difficult audience. Your audience includes your co-workers, employees, management and vendors. When you're dealing with so many different personalities it's inevitable that there will be conflict. Here's where trained  public speakers have an advantage - the skills that are used to handle a difficult audience also apply when you're communicating one-on-one.

But what if you can prevent conflicts in the workplace? That's even better. Nobody has a 100% conflict-free life, but many conflicts can be averted when you understand yourself and others.

The unexamined life isn't worth living." -Socrates

The first step in managing a difficult person or situation is to understand how you're wired. What is your natural behavioral style? This is the way you communicate easily without much conscious effort. It's like being right handed. You don't think about it. When you meet a person or audience who has the same behavioral style as you, communication happens more easily.

But what happens when you encounter people who are your opposite? This is when an audience may be perceived as difficult. It would be great to have a tool that would help you recognize different behavioral styles so you know how to communicate effectively.

The DiSC Behavioral Profile can help you do that quickly and simply. The DiSC Behavioral Profile identifies your natural communication style, shows you how to recognize different styles, and gives you the tools for managing those differences.

In other words, you'll learn to speak their language and have greater influence, better communication, more understanding, and less stress.

Most often, conflicts happen because of differences in style; you're talking apples, they're talking oranges.

This can happen when you're giving a presentation to a group. For example, too often, technical people give too much detail to senior management. Or, a sales presentation lacks the level of data and evidence preferred by a scientific audience.

By knowing how others are wired, you can predict the commonalities you'll share, you'll be able to predict the conflicts that may arise, and you'll have a strategy to compromise.

Here's what one client had to say about DiSC:

Wow... Just signed on to take the DISC program with Diane and she helped me learn how to communicate with style!! Diane was simply amazing and her suggestions were 'spot on'. No one should miss this opportunity!"

-A. Weidberg

Don't know which style you are? Want to know more about DiSC? Contact us and ask for a free sample report.

Why Public Speakers Fail

Professional speakers who are satisfied with the status quo will surely find their audience slipping away. Just like the car replaced the horse and buggy, dynamic, interactive presentations are replacing the talking head. Today, public speakers have to play a bigger game in order to give a Knockout Presentation. In a recent article entitled, Why Leaders Fail, the author cites the number one reason leaders fail and it's because they believe past success equals future success. There's a lesson here for public speakers and presenters. The article made me think about some of the public speakers I've heard. And just like in leadership, the rules of public speaking have changed. I've observed public speakers using an old time, one-size-fits-all presentation style. But what worked in the past, won't necessarily fly in today's market place.

Today's audiences are more sophisticated and demanding than ever before. The old, traditional method of the expert keynote speaker with the passive, listening audience, is an old model. Technology and social media have changed the game. Today, speakers engage their audience by using live polling for just-in-time responses, encouraging tweeting content, and interactive activities, even with large audiences.

Speakers have to look at their expertise differently and more creatively. It's not enough to be a standup keynote speaker. Today's savvy keynote speakers distribute their content through many media channels: podcasts, mp3 programs, white papers available on their websites, pre-program questionnaires or surveys, downloadable handouts, and youtube video clips. The focus has changed from "speaker-as-expert" to audience engagement and tapping into the expertise of the audience.

You can still take a horse and buggy ride, but it won't get you very far. If you want your presentation to have impact, you have to shift gears from giving a speech to taking a ride on the interactive highway and giving the audience an experience.

I've Got the Power: How to Feel Powerful As a Public Speaker


You may be about to go on stage to speak before a difficult audience. Maybe you're getting ready for a job interview. Or you could be about to present at a high stakes meeting. There is a way you can automatically feel powerful when speaking in public or giving a presentation. It's all about mastering body language. Yes, there is a body language of power. I'm not talking about "posturing" and psyching the other person out. Power is about putting your body into certain positions before you enter the presentation room. There's a science to body language and power. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, explains how to go from powerless to powerful and it's all in your control. Watch her TED talk to learn how these positions can make you a powerful leader, public speaker, or job candidate.

The Power of One Voice

Josephine "Jody" Prestovino single-handedly brought missing federal supplies to Staten Island, New York by using her voice. Jody lost her home during hurricane Sandy and spoke on behalf of her own community with no media training. She looked directly at the camera and said, "Obama promised to cut through the red tape, but we've seen nothing. Nobody is here." It's because she spoke with conviction and passion that she had an impact.

Because she spoke out, supplies started coming in. Janet Napolitano wanted to speak with her personally. My husband and I ran into her in a local coffee shop in Staten Island and congratulated her on her leadership and presentation. Everyone is a leader, everyone is a public speaker - when you speak from conviction and passion. When you do a good job as a public speaker or presenter, you'll be invited back. Such was the case for Jody. You'll see in this video the reporter asks her opinion. Her emotion and passion are still evident.

Where do you feel great passion? That's where your power lies. Speak from that place and you'll move mountains. It only takes the power of one voice.

Here's a link to her interview on NBC:

Why Romney's Presentation Failed And What He Can Do About It

The political stage is a fascinating study of the power of the presentation. When it comes to public speaking and media training, Romney has two areas to address. Unless he can improve these two areas, he will plummet in the polls.

The first area is language.

Romney's recent remarks which were secretly recorded have been replayed continuously in the media. He stated, "There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what." If Romney had made that one statement his presentation and media image may have been salvaged.

His presentation derailed with this next statement.  "There are 47% who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

His first statement that 47% will vote for the president is a marketing decision. He's saying that's not his target market. In any campaign, the candidate or marketer will focus time, effort, and money where there will be the greatest return. In other words, he knows they're not his fans.

The second statement felt like an attack and many people reacted negatively. Given that part of the 47% are elderly it sounded callous although that was not the intent.  A good media trainer would advise him to quickly apologize for misspeaking and to reword his statement. The challenge for all politicians and any public speaker in the limelight is that the media can take one soundbite and kill your reputation. Persons in the eye of the media must remember that they are always being recorded and that even speaking one-to-one is public speaking.

Remember when Jessie Jackson was a presidential candidate and made a religious slur in New York City? He was talking to an individual and someone in the crowd overheard him and reported it. Although he wasn't recorded, it had the same effect on his presentation and reputation.

For the non-famous public speakers, once you leave the stage, you're forgotten. But if you're a politician the media will replay and spin your presentation into the stratosphere.

The second area is delivery.

Romney looks and speaks like an executive. But like Al Gore, he appears stiff. When he says he cares about the poor and middle class the message lands as facts rather than warmth. Yet, when he's on a talk show he's more relaxed and his personality comes through. As a public speaker he needs to enhance his presentation with more self disclosure, personal stories, and more effective language. When he speaks with passion and can convey caring he'll increase his ability to connect.

These comments are non-partisan and related to the presentation of the candidate and not policies. What do you think Romney needs to do to improve his presentation in the media?