what's your style

Confidence Class for Teens: Focus on Image

Public speaking is taught too late, if at all. Confidence results from a good self image and from developing skills. Good public speaking skills are paving the way to a confident self image for these girls.

How to Give a Knockout Eulogy

On Saturday, September 3rd, we gathered together for the funeral of my cousin, Craig Gundersen who died at the age of 34 of lung cancer. He was not a smoker. His uncle Rich gave the eulogy. He began with the simple opening line, "For those of you who don't know me, I'm Rich, Craig's favorite uncle. " Everyone laughed.  With this one line Rich disarmed the crowd and put them at ease. Opening with humor broke the tension and enabled everyone to relax and listen. He addressed the other uncles in the room and with tongue- in -cheek told them that Craig was a diplomat and he really was the favorite uncle. Rich continued his eulogy with a series of personal stories extolling Craig's virtues and shortcomings. He spoke of the time when Craig asked him to finance his first year in college. (He had missed the deadline for applying for financial aid). Rich acknowledged that Craig built a good case but during his presentation,  Rich's attention was riveted on a white bandage on Craig's arm. He explained his fascination with the bandage. "I knew he had dropped a deuce to pay for that tatoo, and here he was asking me for money." Again there was laughter in the church.  It was his colorful language Craig with his father, Roy

(dropped a deuce instead of paid 200 dollars) that made it funny. Rich gave him the money. When Craig's grades dropped Rich confided that in any other case that would have been a deal breaker. But because Craig was such a special person, he financed him against his own rules. Several times Rich got choked up but was able to pull it together and continue. Showing emotion only makes the speaker more human and gives the audience permission to feel their feelings.  Unlike some eulogies where a villain suddenly transforms into a superhero, Rich painted a balanced picture of Craig.  Rather than a perfect person on a pedestal, he spoke of the real person-a special, loving, happy guy who was also human.  We got a true glimpse of who Craig really was through the words of his uncle. He acknowledged the parents and Craig's fiancee and how much they meant to Craig. When Rich finished his eulogy the congregation was so moved they burst into applause.  He captured the essence of Craig, the life he led, the lives he touched and spoke to us from his heart and with humor. It was a winning formula for any knockout presentation.

We miss you, Craig. 7/2/1977-8/30/2011

What's Your Listening Style?

Most people are poor listeners. Even though you may pay attention and not interrupt, if you are using the wrong listening style your message may not get through. Or, you could create conflict because of an inflexible mode of listening. Do you know that there are five different listening styles? Being an empathic listener may not always be effective if it's the wrong situation. In this brief video, you'll learn about the five listening styles. Remember, there is no such thing as a  bad listener. There are only people with  inflexible listening habits.

Speaking Resolutions: Eleven for 2011

Make this your best year. Start by polishing your presentation and communication skills. Resolve to follow these eleven speaking principles to speak with greater impact.

  1. Make a promise to improve your communication skills. A promise is stronger than a goal. When you promise, it's the strongest commitment you can make to yourself.

  2. Follow the 6-by-6 Rule when using PowerPoint. Aim for reader-friendly slides: 6 words or less per line and 6 lines or less per slide.

  3. Give a speech without PowerPoint. We are PowerPointed out! Don't use slides as a crutch. Try connecting with the audience. The key word in visual aid is AID. You are the message.

  4. Get comfortable with silence. Most people fear silence and this causes them to speak too fast and to use lots of 'um's and 'ah's. Practice dramatic pauses.

  5. Listen to the audience listening. There's always a silent communication between the speaker and the audience. Tune in, feel, and hear what the audience is telling you.
  6. Speak from your head and your heart. Speakers either give too much data and stay on the intellectual plane or they just tell entertaining stories without enough substance. Today's audiences want hard data in an entertaining style.

  7. Tell more stories. Stories create word pictures, which are memorable and touch the heart. Even a business presentation is more effective when using stories, analogies, and metaphors.
  8. Don't be afraid to be real. You don't have to be a perfect presenter. Most audiences don't relate to someone who's slick and overly polished. Don't imitate someone else. Be your authentic self - the audience can see through phoniness.
  9. Kick your energy up a notch. Enthusiasm sells and with bigger groups you need greater energy to make an impact. You need to push your energy past your comfort level, especially on video and television, which tend to reduce energy.
  10. Practice the Rule of Three. Most people think in threes. When crafting a presentation, aim for three agenda items, three main points, three benefits.
  11. Get over yourself - it's not about you, it's about the audience. Fear of public speaking is still at the top of our list of phobias. Take the focus off of YOU - when you're nervous, you're self-centered. Focus on the audience.

Good communicators are more successful in all areas of life: relationships, career, and well-being. And speaking is the new competitive weapon.