Another Screw Up By Debate Moderators

politics-1327276__180It was round two for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the second presidential debate held at Washington University in St. Louis. The atmosphere was tense as evidenced by the candidates' refusal to shake hands. But while the focus is supposed to be on the candidates, they were upstaged by Martha Raddatz, who co-moderated with Anderson Cooper. Where are the good moderators? It's been a challenge to respect the facilitators in these debates because they don't seem to understand the role of a moderator. Here are some guidelines for being an effective moderator:

Ask prepared questions. The quality of the questions will impact the quality of the debate. Both Anderson and Martha asked relevant questions and invited guests to participate.

Share the spotlight. During the debate, Anderson ceded control to Martha who dominated the conversation. At times, Anderson seemed invisible. What is the point of having two moderators unless they are both contributing?

Keep control. The job of the moderator is to begin and end on time and to give equal time to both candidates. There were several times when they allowed the candidates to speak longer than the allotted two minutes. It's also the job of the moderator to keep the focus and redirect the candidate to answer the question.

Be impartial.The kinds of questions and the number of questions should not favor one candidate over another. This wasn't always the case. Trump alluded to "three on one." Skilled moderators do not show their hand. The audience should not be able to sense the preference of the moderator.

Facilitate don't participate. This is where Raddatz really blew it. A moderator asks questions but doesn't offer opinions. The purpose of the debate is to showcase the candidates- not the moderators. Facilitation skills seem to be difficult for many professionals to master. In order to be a good facilitator you need to suspend your ego and draw the conversation from the participants. A facilitator is the conductor, not the musician. Facilitation is different from interviewing and from reporting. Maybe it's time for journalists to be trained in facilitation skills.

End on a positive note. People remember the last thing they hear so you don't want to wrap up in a negative atmosphere. The moderators did a good job by allowing the last question of the evening to be "What do you admire in the other candidate?"

Who would you choose to moderate the next debate?



Public Speaking Bloopers


blooperAre you a perfectionist? Get over it. It's killing your presentation. In every speech and presentation class, I tell the audience that I don't allow perfection - for two reasons:

  1. You can't achieve perfection on earth so why frustrate yourself?
  2. Even if you could achieve it, people will resent you. Nobody likes a perfect person.

And the same is true for public speakers. Nobody can relate to a perfectly polished presenter. In fact, a public speaker who is too polished can be perceived as slick. The goal is to be human. The audience relates to your humanity, not your perfection. Yes, your presentation needs to be professional and confident. But that doesn't mean you don't trip over a word, occasionally blank out or get loud feedback noise from the microphone. It's not about a perfect presentation. It's about a confident recovery.

People who hear me speak often say, "Diane embodies her message. I learned as much by watching her on stage as I did from her content." Let me assure you that there are times when I screw up. But I make sure I recover with grace. So I'm sharing some recent bloopers as I was preparing new youtube videos. As you can see, effective public speaking and video presentations take a lot of practice. A professional video presentation requires many takes. While the finished video presentation may appear seamless, this peek behind the camera demonstrates that the process takes a lot of practice.

Now that you can see I'm not a perfect public speaker, maybe you'll stop trying to be perfect and get real!


The 1 Non-Verbal Presentation That Can Disarm Your Audience

Les BrownI entered the office building in anticipation of meeting a prospect. The first person I saw was the receptionist. Usually, a receptionist will say, "May I help you?" But this receptionist stood out. She did something that made her immediately attractive and memorable. Without saying a word, she conveyed, "Welcome, I'm happy to see you". She did this with a smile. No, not an ordinary quick flash of the teeth.She was beaming. It was a genuine, happy smile. She smiled with her mouth and her eyes. It was so disarming that I complimented her on her welcoming gesture. Her facial expression communicated that she liked her job and that she liked people. This receptionist didn't know she was giving a presentation that morning. We think of public speaking as speaking words. But non-verbal communication is more than half the message. A public speaker can have the best written speech but if the delivery doesn't match the content, there is a disconnect. The top public speakers align the body, voice, and words. And that begins with a smile.

A smile is the quickest way to relax your audience and to calm your nerves. Some studies say it takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile. So it takes less effort to smile. If the fear of public speaking causes you to freeze up, you can choose to smile anyway. The brain releases endorphins when you smile, making you feel good. Nothing says "confidence" better than a smile. Psychology studies have proven the power of a smile. In one experiment they asked participants to hold a pencil between their teeth which forced them to smile. The participants reported feeling happier.even though it was a forced smile. (I tried it. It works).

So don't be a facial monotone. The next time you approach the public speaking platform, step up and smile!



The Secret to Public Speaking Confidence

Dream Big, Execute Small. That was the headline I saw in a recent article. It was addressed to entrepreneurs but it made me think of how true this is for public speakers. You have the dream of one day being a confident public speaker. You yearn for the day that you can stand in front of a group, connect with the audience, remember your message, and make an impact. You hear the thunderous applause and the nodding heads in your imagination. That's the end zone. But getting there seems overwhelming. And this is where most people quit. Some presenters lower their expectations for themselves and only present one-on-one or in safe situations. Others avoid public speaking at all costs because they don't think they can ever succeed.

The reason for the avoidance is a feeling of overwhelm.Nobody goes from zero to 100 in a day. Even the great and gifted speakers spent years studying their craft. The way to get to the goal of confident public speaking is to dream big and execute small.

How do you do this? First start with your vision.

  • How do you want to be perceived?
  • What will the listeners be saying after your presentation?
  • How will you feel after your talk?

Next, break down your goal into small steps. I find that many people who are nervous about public speaking don't know the skills of confidence. You can get learn the secrets to confidence by reading about presentation skills and overcoming fear of public speaking. Visit youtube for instructional videos that will demonstrate each skill. Take a class in public speaking.

Next, volunteer to speak and start small. Redo your voicemail message. Yes, leaving a voicemail is public speaking. Participate in a conference call presentation, a podcast, or a webinar. This will reduce nervousness because you'll be sitting and you won't see the listeners. Then you'll be ready for a face-to-face presentation. But start small. Offer to speak for five minutes as a panelist. When you're ready for the next level, you don't have to go it alone. Ask for a co-presenter. As you're standing in front of the room you'll be less nervous when you and your partner can "tag team" the presentation.

Still not ready to be the main speaker? No problem. Ask to be interviewed on the platform. You can sit on stage while the moderator or emcee asks you questions This allows you to be the subject matter expert without the stress of giving a speech. Another alternative is to plan a Q&A discussion. In place of formal presentation, you can invite the audience to bring questions and you can have a lively question and answer interaction.

Once you get your speaking "sea legs" you'll be ready to step up and take center stage.Effective public speaking is a journey. So give yourself time. Dream big and execute small.

What will you do to take the first step on your public speaking journey?

Don't Let What Happened to Michael Bay Happen To You

What's a public speaker's worst nightmare? It's what happened to Michael Bay. Going blank and not knowing what to do can cause any speaker to freeze with fear. I saw this happen during the December holidays at a networking party. The event took place in a large store with a winding staircase in the middle of the room. Each speaker climbed a few stairs and then talked to 50 women who were standing around. The third speaker ascended the stairs and began to talk about hair care. He started out fine. But a few minutes into it he said, "I'm sorry " and left the building. We didn't know what hit us.The audience didn't see that coming. But something happened inside to trigger a panic attack. Michael Bey was interrupted by the emcee, lost his place on the teleprompter and couldn't recover. He walked off. It was a painful moment for him, the emcee, the sponsor, and the viewers. What could he have done? What would you do?


The best preparation aside from rehearsing is to know your worst case scenario and plan a recovery strategy.

Have a Backup Script-If you ever speak from a teleprompter, have a back-up script.  Although not ideal, Michael could have taken the script and continued the presentation.

Play it Again Sam-If the technology goes down or the teleprompter malfunctions, call it out and ask them to restart. I once saw a Miss Universe pageant. The contestant began her presentation in English and then got flustered. Instead of dying on the platform, she announced that she was going to continue in French. The audience encouraged her with applause.

Stop and Breathe-Public speaking success is not guaranteed. If you experience brain freeze, take a moment to focus on your breath. This will help you come back and regain your composure. People walk off in a panic because they don't know what to do. Too many public speakers fear silence. So they exit the stage. You don't have to act immediately. Pause and breathe to come back into your body.

Fire an Anchor-This takes preparation. Create a physical anchor, or word that will trigger you back into confidence. Fire it and expect to experience a state of excellence where you have that "can do" attitude. You can give fear the finger.

Let Go and Go with the Flow-When disaster strikes, take a lesson from martial arts. Don't fight against the energy. Use it. Disarm your opponent. In this case, the opponent is fear.

The best public speakers are prepared and then let go. Nobody is better at this than Bill Clinton. During one of his presidential speeches he realized that somebody put the wrong speech in the teleprompter. He was able to wing it until Hillary could notify the person responsible. .If you're wedded to every word you will have a difficult time as a public speaker.

When Michael's speech was out of sync with the teleprompter, the emcee asked him a question about the slides.That was the opportunity to let go of the script and to have a conversation.The presentation could have morphed into an interview and Mr. Bay could have remained on stage.

The Lesson? In the arena of public speaking, it's not always what you say, it's how you recover. If at all possible, avoid using a teleprompter. Be prepared and know this too,will pass.

What was your worst public speaking moment? What did you do?

How Did a College Intern Trump Me in Public Speaking?

threeHow did a college intern trump me in public speaking? My marketing intern from Berkley College in New York City is from Korea and she is studying marketing as well as working on her English language skills. That was one of the reasons she was interested in interning with DiResta Communications. This semester Alaina is taking classes in marketing research and public speaking.

Last week, she came into my office to tell me she had given her first speech in her college public speaking course and got an A!  We were so proud of her especially since English is her second language. When I was in college, I only got a B. And today I'm a professional speaker! So what did she know that I didn't?

Alaina shared with us that her professor complimented her on using the Rule of Three. She had learned about the power of three last month when I was coaching a client by skype. My client was interviewing for a job and we had just worked on her personal branding statement. I asked my college intern to sit in front of the computer to listen to the branding statement. She remembered that the client listed three skills. I explained the power of three in presentations especially in the U.S. culture.

She quickly applied the lesson in her public speaking class and scored an A. She had an unfair advantage-personal advice from a professional speaker and executive speech coach. To learn more about the Rule of Three and why it's important click here.

How to Be a Professional Speaker

diane northern trust2August 7th is Professional Speaking Day. Do you want to be a professional speaker? I've been a professional speaker and executive speech coach for a long time. Aspiring  speakers ask me all the time how they can become professional speakers. So in honor of Professional Speaking Day, here are some tips about the exciting, rewarding, and very challenging business of professional speaking.

1. Professional speaking is a business. People fall in love with the glamor of being on stage before a live audience. But the truth is this. Delivering a one hour keynote or workshop is a fraction of the time that's required to make that speech happen. First and foremost, professional speakers are in the sales and marketing business. You're not a professional until someone pays you. Treat speaking as a business.

2. Professional speakers provide value. You must have a compelling story to tell or content that improves people's lives and careers. It takes time to research current trends and develop content that is relevant to your audience. Who is your market? Who will pay to hear you speak? What do they want and need to hear? What kind of return will they receive for their investment in you?

3. Professional speakers are experts. What is your expertise? Paid speakers have credentials and experience that give them credibility to speak on a selected topic.Unless you're a celebrity or reality star, you won't be hired unless you have a track record of success..That's why you don't see that many young people in the professional speaking business.  A jack-of-all trades or someone who speaks on a wide array of topics will not be taken seriously.

4. Professional speakers are paid. Yes, we all do pro bono speeches for charity and for marketing to our target audience. But professionals earn their living from speaking and also maintain fee integrity. That means they have set fees for their services.

5. Professional speakers have multiple streams of income. In these challenging economic times, it's the rare speaker who earns 100% of his/her income from keynote speeches. Most professionals speakers have add-on services such as, workshops, facilitation, boot camps, consulting, coaching, off-site retreats, books and products.

6. Professional speakers are members of the National Speakers Association. I've been a member of NSA since 1991. Not all speakers are members, but if you're serious about the profession of speaking you need to get to a meeting. Join your local chapter. I'm a member of the New York chapter. NSA will change the way you think. Many speakers also belong to toastmasters. What's the difference? Toastmasters is for anyone who wants to improve their platform skills. NSA is for professional speakers who want to learn the business of speaking.

7. Professional speakers have a coach. Why? Because speakers continually need to raise the bar. Even the top speakers use a coach to fine tune their message and platform skills. If you're just starting out and can't afford a coach, find a mentor. Watch TED talks and youtube videos. Go to live events and conferences and take note of how the best speakers own the room.



How Is a Public Speaker a Catalyst?


catalyst: noun \ˈka-tə-ləst\ an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

Catalyst.org is a non-profit that works with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. Public speakers are catalysts. When you speak, you touch lives, change minds, spread ideas, and move people to action. I started to think about how I am a catalyst from the platform.

On the catalyst.org website, they're collecting videos of people who are catalysts in their lives. Here's the video I submitted. Speaking is only one way to be a catalyst. How are you a catalyst for change?

There's a New "Um" in Town


The New York Times interviewed me for an article entitled, "Um, Uh, Like Call In the Speech Coach". We discussed how non-words, or fillers, can rob you of credibility as a public speaker and diminish your executive presence, especially during media interviews. I've recently discovered there is a new "um" creeping into our presentations ... Watch this video to learn how this new word is infiltrating the public speaking world.

What Marketers Don't Know About Telephone Presentations

It's 8:15 p.m. on a Thursday night. I'm at home in front of my computer. The phone rings. I say hello twice before I get an answer. This is always a telltale clue that it's a telemarketer calling. "May I speak to Diane DiResta?," she asks. "Speaking," I reply.  She begins to talk about bank security and identifies the bank she is representing. I have an account there so I listen. She continues reading her script about completing a survey. I never participate in surveys but because it's my bank I continue to listen. But she continues reading and I don't know where this is going. Finally, in an annoyed tone, I said, "STOP! You're reading. What is it that you want to know?"  She responded by saying, "Have a horrible day and hung up. Okay, it wasn't my finest hour. Maybe I could have said that more sweetly. But I don't like my time wasted and these uninvited calls are an intrusion in my personal life. The point of the call is to get information not to practice reading out loud. Cut to the chase! Marketers who create these scripts have no understanding of presentation principles. How often does an audience tune out because the speaker drones on with a long winded opening? So why would they think a person would listen to a long introduction on the phone? The purpose of an opening is to capture attention and set the stage for the body of the presentation.

Reading a script is no different from a public speaker reading PowerPoint slides. We've all experienced death by PowerPoint. The audience can read faster than the presenter can speak. When you read a slide you make yourself unnecessary. This is a lesson that few telemarketers have learned.When someone calls me and reads, I find it insulting.

Whether you're speaking in person or by telephone, it's all public speaking. And basic presentations skills are required. So here are some principles for the marketing script writers and telemarketers to remember:

1. Practice the script out loud several times until it's familiar.

2. Highlight key words and phrases so that they are easily seen.

3. Make the script your own. Modify it to sound conversational. Speak the way you would normally speak.

4. Never read word for word.

5. Get to the point right away and give a benefit to the listener. "Good evening. We care about your business and we'd like you to answer a few questions so that we can serve you better."

6. Keep the survey brief. Just as an audience will tune out during a long speech, nobody will stay on the line for a 100 question survey.

7. Be flexible. If the listener says, "What do you want to know", answer the question and get right into the survey. Public speakers who give dog and pony shows may be dynamic in their delivery. But if the group wants them to skip ahead they panic and don't know what to do. Here's a tip. Skip to the next point. Give the audience what they want.

Remember these public speaking principles when you're presenting by phone. Don't be wedded to your script or you'll soon be divorced from your audience.

10 1/2 Ways to Keep Viewers Engaged in Your Video

video cameraVideo marketing is hot. The next best thing to face-to-face public speaking is a video. More businesses are creating video presentations because they know videos attract attention. Youtube is now the second largest search engine after google and for good reason. Video presentations are more engaging and motivational than webinars which have static slides. Video presentations make use of both visual and auditory learning styles but unlike PowerPoint, it's a lot easier to learn a skill by watching a video. But video alone will not engage your audience. There’s a lot of competition for boring videos. Effective video marketing requires compelling content and good presentation skills.

This video immediately engages the listener. I'm not endorsing the content or the speaker but the video serves as a good model for capturing and keeping attention. Notice how this video presentation follows all the guidelines. http://www.doubleyourfatlossnow.com/

Here are some tips to keep your audience listening and engaged to your video presentation from beginning to end.

Attract Attention with a Great Title Titles sell. Here's how to create attractive headlines:

  • Use Numbers: Five Ways to Grow Your Business
  • Pique Curiosity: Untold Secrets Internet Marketers Don't Want You to Know
  • Ask a Question: What is your Reputation Costing You?
  • Use Emotion: All Stressed Out and No One to Choke

Get Started Immediately Attentions spans are short. Make sure the video starts up when opened. Don't allow ads. Introduce yourself and get right to the point. Lengthy introductions are passe.

Get Personal People buy from people they know, like, and trust. So tell them something personal. Add a photo of yourself, possibly a family member or pet. People relate to animals and a picture of your pet humanizes you and creates a bond with the audience.

Provide A Promise What will they gain by listening to your video presentation? Provide an agenda or road map. Listeners want to know where you're taking them. A three point agenda works best.

Keep the Action Going Every Three Seconds The trend in videos is to change scenes every three seconds. Yes, three seconds! I tested this on myself. I noticed that every time I was about to fast forward a video presentation, the scene would change. I found it uncanny that this video was so tuned into my attention span. Looking for a formula, I started to count. One..two..three. The slide changed. One..two..three. The slide changed again. That's how I discovered the three second rule.

Provide Real Value Nobody will stay tuned for a sales pitch or a rambling message. Effective video marketing  offers new information, and promises more data and solutions that the listener desires. Content is king on the internet as well as in videos.

Find Their Point of Pain Education for the sake of knowledge is noble but it won't sell your product, service, or brand. People need to know you understand their pain.Identify their pain points and offer relief. Your presentation must speak to them directly.

Build Anticipation In the above video, they tease the audience with the 4 hormones needed to burn fat that the medical profession doesn't talk about. Just like a good soap opera, build anticipation and people will stay tuned.

Entice with your Voice. Video presentations are a form of public speaking. If you can't afford a professional voice over, make sure you use the deeper range of your voice, articulate clearly, and keep an even pace. If your voice is not your best asset, invite a friend to do the voice over.

Don’t Add a Control Bar How many times do you try to fast forward to the end? As much as I desire a control bar as a listener, this gives the audience too much control. As long as the video provides strong content and moves quickly, you'll keep the audience listening.

Save the Offer for the Very End Avoid a sales pitch and focus on education. As you build a convincing case, people will be ready to buy. Make sure the offer happens at the very end on the last slide. Nobody likes a hard sell.

What are your tips for creating a knockout video?

Send me your links to the best videos you've watched.

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?




Public Speaking and Politics: It’s All About the Story

Last night at the Republican convention, we witnessed public speakers who nailed their presentations. What do Paul Ryan, Condolezza Rice, and Susana Martinez have in common as public speakers? Each and everyone of them shared a personal story. Susana began by telling the story of her immigrant parents.

“Growing up I never imagined a little girl from a bordertown could one day become a governor.  But this is America…My parents taught me to never give up and to always believe that my future could be whatever I dreamt it to be.

We grew up on the border and truly lived paycheck to paycheck. My dad was a golden gloves boxer in the Marine Corps, then a deputy sheriff.  My mom worked as an office assistant. One day they decided to start a security guard business.  I thought they were absolutely crazy.  We literally had no savings.  But they always believed in the American dream.”

By the reaction of the audience, it was evident that they could relate to the governor's rags to riches story.

Condolezza told of her upbringing as a Black child in the South.

“And on a personal note, a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham - the segregated city of the south where her parents cannot take her to a movie theater or to restaurants - but they have convinced her that even if she cannot have a hamburger at Woolworths, she can be the president of the United States if she wanted to be, and she becomes the secretary of state.”

Finally, Paul Ryan started to tear up as he spoke about his mother.

“My Mom started a small business, and I've seen what it takes. Mom was 50 when my Dad died.  She got on a bus every weekday for years, and rode 40 miles each morning to Madison. She earned a new degree and learned new skills to start her small business.  It wasn't just a new livelihood.  It was a new life.  And it transformed my Mom from a widow in grief to a small businesswoman whose happiness wasn't just in the past. Her work gave her hope.  It made our family proud.  And to this day, my Mom is my role model.”

Paul Ryan, along with the other speakers injected humor and poked fun at Mitt Romney. When acknowledging the generational difference between Romney and himself, he stated,

“There are the songs in his Ipod, which I have heard on the campaign bus.... and I have heard it on many hotel elevators.  He actually urged me to play some of these songs at campaign rallies.  I said, ``Look, I hope it is not a deal breaker Mitt, but my playlist starts with AC/DC and it ends with Zeppelin.” Ryan ended the speech by bringing his family on stage.

There were many effective public speaking techniques that the speakers used during their presentation-humor, passion, and repetition. But by far, the one skill that connects with an audience is the personal touch. Every audience wants to know three things: Who are you? Who are you to tell me? What’s in it for me? It’s not the facts that move an audience, it’s emotions that get them on their feet.

The audience got a look into the lives of these three presenters and got to know them on a personal level. This will be a challenge tonight for Mitt Romney who tends to be more mechanical and reserved in his presentation. He may be on top of his facts, he may have a plan for turning around the country.  But most Americans are thinking, "Who is he?" In order to connect with his constituents, he will need to connect on an emotional level. And nothing is more emotionally powerful than a personal story.


The Fine Art of Public Speaking

Is speaking an art or a science? I say it's both. Although my approach is the science of speaking, public speaking is also an art. First you need to know the rules or mechanics. Once you know the fundamentals that's when you can improvise and get creative. In truth, we need to use both sides of the brain to be effective speakers. Even universities are realizing the importance of right brain thinking in business.  A new trend is emerging in higher education. Business majors, musicians, accountants and actors are sitting together in class to bridge the gap between art and business. Philadelphia  University  has a program called Building a Business Bridge for your Art. Julliard School  and Fordham University offers a class, How to be a virtuosic genius-and get paid for it. It seems the starving artist may be going the way of the wooly mammoth. So what is the lesson for public speakers? As a speaking strategist I find that some of  my coaching clients forgo the "art" of speaking. They load their PowerPoint presentations with heavy text, data, full sentences, and jargon. Data and evidence are important. And so are stories, metaphors, humor, interaction, games, and enthusiasm.  Even timing can be an art.  Pausing can change the meaning of your message. A long, dramatic pause can evoke emotion where a quick pause will not.  It was Artur Schnabel who said, "The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes - ah, that is where the art resides."

Public speakers who have good content that is relevant to the audience and can entertain the audience have truly mastered the fine art of public speaking.

How do you practice the art of public speaking? If the pauses between the notes is where the art of music resides, where does the art of public speaking reside?

14 Ways to Present a Positive Image

It's the season for holiday parties and networking. Networking is a form of public speaking. Excellent presentation skills can draw people in and keep them interested.

Here are a few tips for making a good impression:

1. Own the room. Stand tall and walk in with confidence. 2. Smile. You'll appear more approachable and confident. 3. Be the first to reach out. Extend your hand and give a frim handshake. A weak handshake is an immediate turn off. 4. Look directly into someone's eyes. Don't scan the room while talking to one person. 5. Don't chew gum. 6. Speak clearly and pause. Sloppy or hurried speech is perceived as negative. Eliminate slang. 7. Be fully present. Focus on the person and listen non-verbally with body language and with words. 8. Ask questions about them instead of talking about yourself. 9. Find common ground quickly.This will build instant rapport. 10. Give compliments. 11. Paraphrase. It's a form of acknowledging people. This skill makes you very attractive. It communicates you're listening. 12. Have something interesting to say. Comment on the other person's interests. 13. Be a giver. Offer a tip or an introduction to others. Give without expecting anything in return. 14. Mirror the other person. Match their speaking rate, volume level, and words. If they speak fast, quicken your pace. If they are soft-spoken, lower your volume. People like people who are most like them.

Remember:   It takes 7 seconds or less to make a good first impression.You're always on stage.

What Does a Toll Booth Have to Do with Public Speaking?

On Friday I was driving home from a coaching assignment in New Jersey. I was on the Garden State Parkway which has a number of toll booths. At the second toll booth, I extended my hand and gave the toll collector a dollar. She waived me on. I remained there not understanding. She said, "The person before you prepaid your toll." I was surprised. It was so unexpected that I couldn't process it at first. Why me? I tried to figure out through the Law of Attraction what was different this particular day that I had attracted such positive energy. All I knew is that I felt good. I was flying high. It was only a dollar but it wasn't about money. It was about the gift. It was about feeling special. The feeling lasted over the weekend as I called friends to tell them about this random act of kindness.

It got me thinking about what I teach in my speaking and communication seminars.

It's the little things that make the greatest impact.

Speakers overwhelm themselves trying to make bold changes. They think they have to completely remake themselves and achieve the equivalent in a Ph.D in Public Speaking. All it takes to make an impact is the little things-an extended pause, holding eye contact a bit longer, expanding a gesture, using an analogy, telling a personal story, standing up straight, breathing before you speak, holding a positive image before your presentation, bringing your intonation downward at the end of a sentence, smiling.

These are simple, little things that when activated, can make a big impact on the audience. The impact of my experience at the toll booth was worth so much more than a dollar. Don't discount small steps. You never know the affect they will have on not only you but your audience.

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.

We Do Judge A Book By It's Cover

Today I was leaving from the office to attend a networking luncheon. It was a warm, sunny day so I decided to take the bus and walk a few blocks to the hotel. As I was exiting the bus, a sixty-five year old man leaned over and said,"Are you wearing Chanel?" I paused for a moment thinking he was referring to my perfume. I realized that he was admiring my suit. Sadly, I told him it wasn't Chanel but accepted the question as a compliment. I was a little early so I stopped into a clothing boutique. As I entered the store, the male security guard said, "That's a nice suit." I thanked him and wondered how I had garnered two compliments in five minutes. Once I arrived at the event there was 30 minutes of networking. A woman passed by and admired my suit. Well, that's not surprising. Women are fashion conscious and it makes for good small talk. After all, New York City is a fashion hub. At around 5:30 p.m. I left to meet my cousin at Starbucks at Rockefeller Center. A woman stopped me on the street and told me how nice my suit was. What was going on? Four complete strangers of both genders complimented my attire. Was something in the air? I don't think so. I've had people admire the suit before. It must be that it's an attractive suit. And what does that have to do with presentations?

You are a personal brand.The way you speak, how you carry yourself, and what you wear are signaling and communicating your brand, your style. It's your presentation to the world. And... while we can't judge a book by its cover, we often do make judgments about how people look. It takes seven seconds or less to make a first impression. People will actually discount what you say to believe what they see. That's the impact of the visual!

When you're in a book store, the first thing that makes you pick up a book is the cover. If it's not attractive, it stays on the shelf. Marketers spend thousands of dollars in research to test the right packaging design. People buy the bottle before they buy the perfume.

Your audience is making judgments before you begin to speak. Does your visual presentation support your message? Do you look credible? Do you carry yourself with confidence? They say that clothes don't make the man. Well, from my experience it sure helps when you wear a nice suit.

Shame On Nike

After seeing the Nike commercial of Tiger Woods several times I started thinking about the impact on you- the audience and what that means for your presentations. The pundits loved the ad. They thought it was a piece of brilliant advertising. I did not! Am I alone in this opinion? Here's how that ad impacted me. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NTRvlrP2NU]

I thought it was manipulative, contrived,and downright creepy to hear the voice of Earl Woods from the grave. It was manipulative and contrived because Tiger became a willing actor in the ad. He stood in front of the camera and made a remorseful face. It wasn't authentic. It also seemed humiliating. Once again, we don't see the real person; just an image of what Nike thinks Tiger needs to project. Nike wants to keep his endorsement without alienating the public. So they used his father to chastise him as if to say, Nike doesn't approve of his behavior. People see through this.

What was more effective for me was the Jimmy Kimmel spoof of the ad. It made me laugh out loud and it delivered the same message- Tiger's behavior was not okay.


When speakers act instead of relating;when presenters speak from a script instead of from their hearts, they lose their authenticity. And that's when they lose their audience. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and go on. If you're not perfect, so what? When we try to "get over" on our audience we're insulting them. People see through phoniness.

Be real, Be sincere, Be you.

Press Release: What's Your Reputation Worth?

For Immediate Release Philadelphia, PA (December 1, 2009) — Diane DiResta, top speaking strategist and founder and CEO of DiResta Communications, a communication skills consulting company, was invited to speak at the Biotech 2009 conference held in Philadelphia, November 16-17. Her panel session, Creating and Delivering the Message: Advanced Lessons in Reputation Management, focused on creating and successfully delivering credible key messages, reviewed current best practices in corporate and marketing communications, and offered various perspectives on how to develop internal consensus on key messages, how to present them effectively, and how to build reputations for transparency and excellence.

Click here to read full Press Release.