speaking coach

10 Presentation Trends for 2014

In 2014 presentation skills will reign supreme. Leaders and entrepreneurs will need to be more visible across different media platforms. Speaking is the new competitive advantage and the bar has been raised. Here are the trends in presentations that I predict for 2014.

  1. Broadcasting skills - Whether you're an entrepreneur or employed by a company, expect to have your 15 minutes of fame.Today's presenters need broadcasting skills. Media training will become a vital success skill even for those who do not speak to the press. I'm currently coaching a client to lead quarterly webcasts. Five years ago this senior executive wasn't doing any broadcasting. This client has since been filmed for executive promotional videos. Video presentations will increase in popularity. I use eyejot.com to send quick video emails. Videos can be very effective or very detrimental if you have weak presentation skills.
  2. Mobile presentations - Mobil technology is exploding and the number of apps is growing. This will require adjustments in the way we communicate. Slide shows and websites must be adjusted for mobile devices.The key word in presentations is portability. On a personal note, I now videotape my coaching clients on the ipad. The quality is as good as a video camera and it's easier to transport.
  3. Increased Need for Speaker Training - The need for excellent presentation skills will increase.due to the competitive nature of the market. Products and services can quickly become commodities and in order to be persuasive, presenters will need to know how to capture and hold the ear of the listeners.
  4. Self marketing presentations - Personal branding will become even more important. In a crowded market place where good jobs are at a premium. Job candidates will have to master marketing and selling. That means understanding what makes them unique and how to position themselves, their message, and their value with clarity and impact. Lack of confidence will be the deal breaker. Speakmarketing will be a growing factor for small business success. Presently, I'm coaching  small businesses to develop webinars to grow their businesses.
  5. Storytelling - Telling stories will no longer be the domain for the talented few. Leaders will be challenged to learn the art of storytelling to develop trust, express their vision and to lead their teams. And storytelling skills will be the differentiater in the job interview.Certain companies such as Pepsico, have a culture of storytelling. The best interviewers will invest in public speaking coaching to learn to tell their story instead of presenting their resume.
  6. Authenticity - Audiences are more sophisticated and less tolerant than ever. They want to know who the speaker is as a person.Do they walk their talk? Audiences will value  presenters who are real versus a just-the-facts approach. I was asked to coach somebody who had a well-crafted PowerPoint deck but delivered it like a talking head. Listeners are thinking "Who are you?"
  7. Increased Audience Interaction - The key word is connection. In a society where there is less time for socializing and more stress, people want to have an experience and participate with the speaker. Watch for increased live polling, tweeting, live streaming,and audience participation. Technology will level the playing field as speakers can now use inexpensive polling software on their mobile devices.There will also be an increase in virtual presentations. I'm coaching more clients remotely due to technology tools.
  8. Less Fluff More Value - Motivational speakers will always be popular as long as the human soul craves uplifting messages. But today's presenters need more than a string of 'feel good" stories. They must be able to provide value, tips, strategies, action steps, a different way of thinking along with those stories. Audiences are more demanding.
  9. Shorter Keynote Speeches - The 18 minute TED-like talk will become more commonplace. This is already happening at conferences. Instead of the one to three hour breakout sessions, event planners and audiences are opting for a series of shorter talks.
  10. Continuity - The old transactional model of giving a one hour presentation and then return to business as usual,  will give way to the idea of continuity.The message will continue after the event or meeting with additional contact and add-on resources. Despite the fact that younger audiences are leaving facebook, social media will continue to be an important communication channel for staying connected. However, people will consider the return on their time and become more focused and narrow in their social media communication.

All of these trends can be summarized in one idea: Public speaking is more important than ever. The need for excellent presentation skills is not going away. It will only increase in 2014 and beyond. Just as with technology upgrades,presenters will upgrade their public speaking skills or risk becoming obsolete.

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.

The Exceptional Speaker

The Exceptional Speaker 3DDo you want to be an exceptional speaker? My friends Alan Stevens and Paul Du Toit, from the U.K. have just published a book that shows you how. I saw them at the National Speakers Association convention in July in Philadelphia, and Alan recently interviewed me for his podcast program. You might be wondering why I'm promoting their book if we're competitors. Well, it seems we all have the same mission. We want to stamp out fear of public speaking and help people to reach the heights of presentation success. There are so many people who need help with their presentations, thus the need for more books about public speaking.  Here are some tips from The Exceptional Speaker:

  1. If you’d like to conquer the fear of speaking to an audience you need to understand the source of this fear, specifically where it relates to you.
  2. Nervousness is natural, but it can also be dealt with.
  3. A good technique is to find a friendly face in your audience and imagine you’re speaking just to that person.
  4. It is just as easy to speak to a large audience as it is to a small one. There is no difference. An audience is an audience.
  5. People who occupy high positions are just as human as the rest of us and therefore do not need to be feared more than anyone else.
  6. Channel your excess energy towards the centre of your body – specifically your diaphragm. This will help you with voice control, keep you calmer and remove the fidgeting from your fingers and toes.
  7. Speaking from notes will help you to keep track of your order. Use cue cards rather than an A4 notepad.

These tips, and hundreds of others are from a new book called "The Exceptional Speaker" by Alan Stevens and Paul du Toit. It is the definitive book on speaking, and is now available from Amazon in Kindle and hardback format, as well as from exceptionalspeaker.com as a PDF.

Command More Clout: 5 Tips for Effective Communication

June is effective communication month. To increase your influence and executive presence, your message must  grab and keep attention. I make sure that all my coaching clients know the secrets of speaking with impact. Here are 5 quick tips to be a knockout communicator.

Confident Public Speaking Starts Too Late

After 20 years consulting in corporate America I've come to this conclusion. We wait too long to build confident leaders.  Important leadership skills such as public speaking and confident communication must begin much earlier. That's why I started a Confidence Class for middle school girls in my community. In 2006 a mother called me. I don't know how she got my name. She explained that her daughter got nervous standing up and speaking in her 7th grade class. She wanted me to teach her to be confident. Although I coach business leaders to project executive presence, she was so persistent that I caved in. I told her if she could get 10 girls together I would teach a class on the weekend. To my surprise, she rounded up 10 lovely middle school girls from the same class and we had our first meeting in her house.

I discovered that I really enjoyed working with them and it brought back memories of my speech pathology days in the New York City schools. After learning skills of confident public speaking, her daughter gave a reading in her church before 100 people. Another girl, gave the acceptance speech for her grandfather at his legal society dinner of 800 attorneys. She received a standing ovation. It seemed the success of the classroom had spilled over into their every day lives.

And now here I am again, doing my third confident public speaking class for middle school girls. Three daughters in one family have now attended my class to become confident public speakers. The second sister went on to debate on a National level. Her mother told me that the Confidence class in public speaking served as the foundation for her to go on to join the debate team.

In each one hour session, the girls learn the same skills I teach adults in companies, learn to give each other balanced feedback, and watch themselves on videotape. What would happen if young students learned these skills when they were young? There would be fewer bad presentations. They would be better leaders. And maybe more women could chip away at the glass ceiling.

Leave a comment.

Students Face Their Public Speaking Fears and Win

Press Relase

For Immediate Release

Nancy Mui, a college senior, and Sequenza Williams, a high school senior proved they can compete in the adult arena. Both students were winners of the prestigious mentoring program sponsored by Financial Women’s Association (www.fwa.org). The program matches FWA mentors to students. After excelling in the mentorship program, they faced their final hurdle—the acceptance speech. Each student was required to give a three minute speech  at the FWA Annual Dinner before an audience of over 200 adults including Fortune 500 financial companies and sponsors. Recognizing that public speaking is one of the top fears, the FWA brought in Diane DiResta, author of Knockout Presentations and CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc to prepare them for the final event. Over several sessions Ms. DiResta coached them on developing the message, delivering the speech with confidence and in three minutes. They arrived early for a final dress rehearsal in the ballroom where they practiced walking on stage and using the microphone.

Both Nancy and Sequenza approached the platform with poise and gave a knockout presentation. Sequenza shared her growth as a high school senior and personally thanked her mentor by asking for her to stand and accept applause. Sequenza will be attending college in Georgia. Nancy provided several moments of humor and talked about her passion for mentoring other students. She has already been offered her first job beginning this Fall.

“This speech was a milestone for both students,

Can A Good Resume Trump a Weak Presentation?

Recently, I had a conversation with one of my C-level clients. He had referred one of his young associates to work with me on building confidence. This bright, hardworking associate didn't show up powerfully at meetings with clients and projected a weak presentation. Although knowledgeable about the research, the associate was soft spoken and simply reported facts from the PowerPoint data. The goal was to eventually lead the meetings. After the coaching program, there was a change in the presentation. The associate was more confident, owned the room, and spoke with authority adding valuable comments and explanations to the charts. My client was pleased with the results and confided in me that initially, he didn't think the job interview would go very long.

He described the candidate as having a weak handshake and too soft spoken. Within seconds of meeting, he thought to himself, "No way am I making a job offer." But he did the polite thing and began asking questions. The more he probed the better the applicant sounded. There was substance beneath that lackluster presence. The references checked out as he learned that this candidate accomplished 50% more work than anyone else. He had discovered a diamond in the rough. To his credit he made an offer. Realizing this was a good quality person, he knew some coaching would enhance the presentation skills.

This associate was lucky. The manager was astute and patient enough to dig beneath the surface. But this is the exception, not the rule. Most job candidates are dismissed early on because of poor public speaking skills and an inability to present themselves. And many interviewers are not skilled themselves in interviewing skills.

It takes seven seconds or less to make a first impression. You can look good on paper. But if you can't pass the handshake test, you may not get a second chance.

Make a Promise to Be a Better Public Speaker

May 4th is Make a Promise Day which was started by Matthew Cossolotto. Why make a promise? Because a promise is more powerful than a goal. Quick! How many New Year's Resolutions have you already broken? When you promise to be a better public speaker, there is an energy and commitment that drives you to action. My military father taught me to never break a promise. When you gave someone your word, that was sacred. You may keep your promise to others; but what about yourself? I recently made a promise to give up chocolate for one month. It was hard, but I would never have done it if I hadn't made a promise. A promise is putting a stake in the ground. It's drawing a line in the sand. You can become a better public speaker right now and the first step begins with a promise.

So, do it. Once you promise, the question becomes how to do it. Here are some ideas for becoming a better public speaker and sharpening your presentation skills.

  1. Read books and articles.
  2. Listen to podcasts.
  3. Attend toastmasters.
  4. Register for a public speaking class.
  5. Get a coach.
  6. Attend National Speakers Association.  (NSA-NYC event May 21st)
  7. Watch top speakers and model their behaviors.
  8. Volunteer to speak in your community or at work.
  9. Prepare in advance of your presentation.
  10. Practice out loud and time yourself. Watch yourself on videotape.
  11. Simplify your notes. Use bullet points.
  12. Get an accountability buddy to hold you to your promise.

When you boost your presentation skills and become a better public speaker your life will change. I promise.

The King's Speech-If He Can Do It So Can You

I just saw the movie, The King's Speech starring Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth. It's the story about King George and his struggle to overcome severe stuttering and the relationship between him and his speech coach. As a Speech Pathologist who worked with stutterers and as a speaking strategist  who coaches executives, it was a powerful reminder  to me of the gift of speech.  King George was thrust into a leadership role he didn't want and  had to  inspire a nation during World War II. How do you do that without speaking? The answer is -you don't.  Enter the speech coach. It was inspiring to watch King George  overcome  his struggles, resistance to coaching, and outright fear.  He confronted his biggest fear and won!

While only 1% of the population stutters, most people fear public speaking. When first working with clients, I see the same fears, resistance, and avoidance that was portrayed in the movie. And yet, without the gift of speech, lives and careers are negatively  impacted. Today more than ever you must be able to present yourself, your message, and your value.

Speaking is the new competitive weapon. In  a competitive job market, candidates who have the best communication and speaking skills have the advantage. Leaders who have good presentation skills are better positioned for success. Sales people who are good public speakers can better influence. Industry experts with good public speaking skills get invited to convey their message at prestigious conferences, and authors who speak well get invited back for media interviews.

Your presentation is your brand. Your voicemail message and even your ring tone convey your brand. How you deliver your elevator speech determines whether people want to do business with you. How you speak and present yourself can be an indicator of education level and socioeconomic status. A study conducted in the 1970s demonstrated that sales reps in upscale department stores had better diction than those who worked in bargain stores.

Public speaking is a skill everyone must master in order to be successful. It's not going away. Avoidance by delegation is not a long time strategy. If you're the CEO, the shareholders want to hear from you. A CEO or CFO who rambles or sounds hesitant doesn't inspire confidence in the analysts. And this can affect a stock's rating. A manager will not motivate a team by giving a lackluster pep talk devoid of emotion.  Entrepreneurs who can't communicate a clear business strategy and convey confidence will forfeit investor funding. Students who don't  know how to present themselves during an interview, may not gain entry to the college of choice.

You don't have to speak the King's English to be successful but you do need to know how to speak and speak well. I believe gifted speakers are born but effective speakers are made.  It doesn't take a major overhaul for most people to be effective. It's the little things that make the most impact. Everyone can be effective and speak with confidence. Public speaking is a skill.  Skills + Practice=Confidence. Make this the year you learn to speak with confidence.

What's Your Speaker Business Model?

On Friday, November 19th, I was on a panel at the NYC National Speakers Association meeting. The panelists included, Don Gabor, Ann Fry, Diane DiResta, Audrey Smaltz, and Richard Marker. Bob Frare served as the emcee. Each presenter told their story and shared their business models to a packed room  held at the NY Bar Association.  Most speakers shared that they hadn't planned to be professional speakers but rather fell into it.

Here is an overview of the basic speaking business models:

1.  Freelance subcontractor. This is where  a speaker is hired to do an existing program designed by training companies or other speakers. The advantage is the training company does the marketing and the speaker is paid for delivery. My friend calls this "Show up and throw up." You don't need to be an expert but you must have excellent platform skills and a knowledge of  the subject matter.

2. Corporate training model. The speaker delivers his/her own material developed for a particular audience. The advantage is the fees are higher and you own the account. You can also penetrate deeper into a company for more business. Companies continually need to train their workforce and will look for outside experts and consultants to improve performance.

3. Keynote or motivational speaker. This kind of speaker targets the association and corporate market and is generally speaking to large groups. They speak at a lot of conferences and conventions and must have an inspiring message and or a deep level of  expertise. Keynote speakers command the highest fees but the downside is they are always looking for the next gig. A convention will not hire the same keynoter for two consecutive years. They often partner with speakers bureaus to book business . The life of a keynoter is to be a road warrior.

4. Product sales model or BOR (back- of- the- room sales). Presenters speak for the purpose of selling products. They either stage their own public seminars and events or speak at conferences. This also can be a lucrative model but the speaker must be able to create products that people want and most importantly, be able to sell from the platform. Selling products from the back -of- the -room is challenging and this model is recommended only for those who have excellent selling skills and can move a crowd to action. It requires getting in front of large groups, transporting products, and having a merchant account.

A subset of BOR is internet sales. Some speakers direct the audience to their websites and sell hard copies and digital products. Other speakers have morphed into primary internet businesses and deliver  their message through teleclasses and webinars.

5. Enterprise model. This kind of speaker owns a bonafide business and manages employees. They may own a restaurant, a real estate company, a training company or other enterprise which they can sell.  The bulk of their income is derived from the business and speaking is yet another but not the sole source of their income. This is often the most lucrative model because the speaker does not have to trade time for money. Employees or freelancers deliver the product or service. The speaker is positioned as an expert about the business or industry and may speak on business or motivational topics.

When choosing a business model, the main message from the panelists was play to your strengths.

The smartest speakers combine multiple streams of income.


When It Comes To Public Speaking, Do You Freeze Like A Deer In The Headlights?

Situation: Brad, a corporate executive, was referred by his boss for speech coaching. His presentation style was dry and he was losing credibility among his peers and senior management. He confided that the meetings had become "cutthroat" and that some of the team would "go for the jugular." "It's a very competitive environment," he explained. His boss told him to find a coach and to do it fast. Brad's nervousness on the platform was getting the best of him. He would memorize his slides and freeze up when he saw people roll their eyes. He knew his subject matter but had a difficult time "getting what was in his head and heart to come out of his mouth." Yet, when he would talk off line it was evident that he was very knowledgeable about his subject matter. Brad needed to go from being a talking head to a subject matter expert.

Solution: During the first coaching session, Brad learned to stop memorizing his slides and use them for reference only. He added more stories, anecdotes, and examples to his presentations, and worked on projecting his energy so his voice wouldn't trail off.

Result: Brad gave a presentation at the next meeting a few days later. When asked if his presentation was any better after only one coaching session, his boss replied, "significantly, significantly, significantly, significantly better." Liberated from the cue cards, Brad now speaks with more confidence and style!

Do you know a talking head who's really a subject matter expert in disguise? They can learn to let the expert emerge and dazzle with their ideas.

Are You Seen But Not Heard?

Situation: Karen was newly appointed to her position in finance, where she was responsible for managing and keeping the department on budget. Soft-spoken and petite, Karen had a hard time making herself heard during meetings, as her aggressive team shouted over her and challenged her when she questioned their figures. Karen's team was over budget, and she was concerned about her credibility when she had to present her figures to corporate at an up-coming meeting. Recognizing the importance of asserting her authority, Karen sought coaching to increase her confidence and to learn strategies for maintaining control. Solution: We worked on increasing the volume and conviction in Karen's voice. Initially, she wasn't aware of her vocal range and didn't believe she could project. Together, we practiced breathing exercises before the meeting to calm Karen's nerves. With a specially created template, Karen began to organize her ideas so she would not get intimidated and lose her train of thought. Karen also developed strategies for dealing with people who lobbed hostile barbs or tried to interrupt her when she was speaking.

Result: After the big meeting, Karen said she felt prepared, organized, and confident. She was able to hold her ground and support her position. The note-taking system helped her to stay focused and maintain her credibility.

Do you know people who get lost in the crowd? We can help them rise above the noise, find their voice, and communicate with confidence.

Are You Embarrassing Your Team?

As I continue to share success stories from my living laboratory this month, I recall working with Bill for a Just-in-Time coaching session. Situation: Bill, a bright, young entrepreneur, was a Managing Partner of a software company. He was on his way to the West Coast to deliver a presentation when he called me for some coaching. His company was positioned to sell their start-up to a large organization. His partner was concerned about their image because Bill was such a terrible presenter. How often are team members or partners embarrassed by how they present themselves and the company brand? I explained to Bill how important it was to be visible and to get out there and speak. As an owner of the company, he was the face of the organization and people wanted to hear from him. Bill was motivated to change.

Solution: I worked with Bill on his transitions. We reduced the number of slides in his PowerPoint presentation, got him to slow down his speaking pace, and coached him to connect eye-to-eye with the audience. These were all small changes but like many speakers and presenters he was unaware of how to change. He didn't require a major make-over to be effective.

Result: After only TWO HOURS, Bill had transformed his image. He faxed me the results of his first speech and the results after coaching. He went from scoring a 2.6 on his audience evaluations to a 4.0 on a scale of 1-5. Audience members praised his presentation as "entertaining," "informative," and "clear." Bill confided that the meeting planner withheld the evaluations from his first speech because they hadn't been very good. His partner in the firm was blown away by the transformation! As I always say, It's the little things that make the greatest impact.

For public speaking tips visit http://www.atozpublicspeaking.com

Life is a Presentation and Passover is No Exception

I continually tell audiences that life is a presentation and that everybody is a public speaker. Here's an example of how speaking skills can impact your personal life. What to do when your wife complains your Seder is boring and your story of the Jews' freedom from bondage is as long as Cecil B deMille's movie "The Ten Commandments?" You get a coach and she doesn't even have to be Jewish.

Tired of his wife's criticisms every Passover, a man I'll call Burt, hired me to help him with his Seder presentation. Being Christian I had to do a quick study of the Haggadah,(the guide for conducting a Seder containing prayers and songs). With not a moment to waste, we got down to work.

We began paring down his story and I showed him how to tell it in an animated voice. He needed to shift from being a lecturer to an emcee. Then we created index cards with one sentence descriptions of each Seder food to be read by guests. Each of the ten plagues were also written on cards for the children to recite, followed by the refrain of a group song that each of the ten tables would sing.

The key to a successful presentation is to engage the audience. Group participation raises the energy level and keeps peple interested and engaged.

The Seder will be held on March 30th at a New York City restaurant. The Indian chef has learned to cook Jewish food with a unique blend of Indian spices. I look forward to attending the Seder and hearing the new and improved presentation.

Press Release: Women in Power: Are You Living On Purpose?

Westport, CT (1/21/2010): Diane DiResta, top speaking strategist and founder and CEO of DiResta Communications, a communication skills consulting company, was invited to be one of four panelists, all successful women entrepreneurs, at the Women in Power networking event on Wednesday at the Westport Woman's Club. DiResta and fellow panel members discussed how to increase passion in the areas that matter most to business - Business Planning, Communications Impact, Financial Strategies, and Networking that works. The theme was "Living on Purpose: The Foundations for Successful Business Building in Today's Market." Halfway through the program, DiResta directed the 200 women in the audience to spend three minutes networking with each other. Soon the hall was abuzz with purposeful conversations and exchanges of business cards. The exercise was so successful that WIP member-moderator Lisa Wexler, an attorney-turned radio personality, was challenged to end it. "Women are excellent networkers," DiResta remarked.

Lisa Wexler, Women In Power member, moderated the session. Other panelists were: Kathy Caprino, Founder and President of Ellia Communications, Anne Evans, District Director, US Department of Commerce, and Kathy McShane, Founder and CEO of The Kendrew Group.

As CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc., Diane DiResta has trained spokespersons in sports and entertainment such as NBA players and Vanna White, as well as physician spokespersons representing pharmaceutical companies who want to communicate with maximum impact — whether face-to-face, in front of a crowd, or from an electronic platform. In addition to her corporate clients, DiResta developed a Confidence Class for seventh grade girls in Staten Island for two years. “I can’t think of a better investment than to invest in communication and we need to start early,

Mastermind Your Way to Speaking Success

As I attended my monthly mastermind group this morning I had a realization. It's no wonder people have difficulty enhancing and sustaining their speaking skills. They try to go it alone.Yes, they may take a class or sign up for a coaching session. Maybe they read Knockout Presentations. But if you don't use it you lose it.

The best way to commit to being a better speaker is accountability. This is where a mastermind group comes in. Why not get two or three friends or associates and form a speaking mastermind? Members should be like-minded people who want to work on their skills. They should also be willing to give honest and balanced feedback. Most importantly, each person would set goals and the group would hold them accountable.

One goal may be to practice more often. If you don't have the opportunity you can join toastmasters.


Commit to a date and do it. If you have a group to report to, you are more likely to take action.

A mastermind group can be formed for all kinds of communication and workplace goals. The key is to keep it small, appoint a facilitator or leader, have an agenda, and show up for meetings. Groups are powerful for helping you advance your goals.

To learn more about forming a mastermind group I recommend the book Meet and Grow Rich by Joe Vitale and Bill Hibbler. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords;=mastermind+and+get+rich&x;=7&y;=16

There is no substitute for professional coaching but at some point it will end. You can continue to develop and advance your speaking goals by starting your own mastermind group. You don't have to go it alone.

Make it happen in 2010!