How Should Tiger Woods Present Himself?

The media won't stop asking questions and covering the Tiger Woods accident. Up until now, Tiger had a squeaky clean image. But with the hint of a scandal and unanswered questions, it's become a media circus and a problem for his reputation.

What should he do? One of his mistakes was to retreat. When a crisis hits, the best strategy is to respond immediately, in person, and in a positive way. If there is any personal culpability take responsibility.

Tiger's website posted this statement:

"As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore.

This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.

This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.

The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.

This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be."

While it's a good statement, his mistake was not showing up to deliver the message in person. Trust is increased when people meet face-to-face. Lawyers often advise against saying anything in public. Even if he doesn't answer questions, he can still speak for himself. People want to hear from the person and not read a public relations statement. He needs to manage his reputation. As Michael Paul, a crisis communication expert so eloquently put it, "Image is what people think you are. Reputation is what you are."

You Can Learn to Speak Even in Tough Economic Times

Most people agree that developing their public speaking skills is a good investment.
Some people such as students or job hunters just don't have the money to hire a coach. So I want to propose a solution that I offer to many people.
Here is an email from someone who heard me speak:

Dear Diane,

Three years ago, your speech convinced me that there was much room for improvement in my communication skills. I had to do something about it.
While I was much tempted to subscribe to your service, by the time one travels to NY City and back, a whole day is gone. I can never afford the time required.
Looked for alternative, I joined the local Toastmaster club. It has been extremely beneficial for me.
You planted the seed that has lead to some important improvement in my life.
Diane, in this time of "Thanksgiving" I wish to express my gratitude for planting such seed and for the positive effect that your powerful presentation has had on me.
I owe you. I'll be glad to contribute and to return the favor whenever an opportunity will present itself.
Thank you once again.

Kindest regards

Louis N.

Why would I promote Toastmasters when I offer coaching and speaking services?
Toastmasters is an association for anyone who wants to practice public speaking.
It provides another venue for my coaching clients to practice in front of a new group.
Toastmasters members are not professional coaches; rather, they are people from all walks of life who want to overcome fear of public speaking.

Don't let lack of funds stop you from giving a Knockout Presentation.
Join your local Toastmasters club at wwww.toastmasters.org

Speaking Skills for Women-Obsolete?

Yesterday I gave a webinar entitled Speaking Skills for Women in Tough Economic Times.
The moderator told me that prior to the meeting, two men saw the listing and commented that the topic was outdated. They did not attend the webinar so they didn't know what I said.

That made me think. Yes, women represent larger numbers in the workforce but where are they? How many traditionally male industries have representations of women of 30% or greater? How many corporate CEOs are women? Thirteen out of the top 500 companies?

Even though women have made tremendous progress I still hear complaints from women when dealing with male colleagues. And when I train or coach women I still see ways that we sabotage ourselves by the way we present ourselves and by the way we communicate. But maybe it's just me.
What are your thoughts? Is this topic outdated?

Round and Round She Goes

Enjoy this guest post by Tom Antion

Round and Round She Goes
by Tom Antion

I recently spoke at a seminar where the hotel representative had talked the meeting planner into using round tables for the room setup. I later found out that the hotel had run out of classroom tables and told the inexperienced planner that round tables are better.

When I saw the set up I was horrified. That's because I know that people are spread out further from the presenter and also, you have the problem of half the chairs facing away from the stage area.

Unless you are doing a banquet/luncheon/breakfast, or unless you are conducting a workshop where the attendees are interacting more than you are talking, this is the "kiss of death" seating method.

Unfortunately I didn't learn this until I had done 1500 presentations. After I did learn to seat people as close together as possible and as close to the presenter as possible I found that the same humor I had been using for years got a three times bigger response. Also, I would notice more head shaking in agreement with my points and a much larger overall excitement level in the room.

I'm certain the hotel person was just trying to cover up for not having enough tables and I'm also certain the hotel person had never held a microphone in his hand. No one will ever blame the room setup crew if you bomb. As the presenter you must take care of every logistical detail in your control to make sure you hit a home run every time you speak.

Since there were no more tables and I was stuck with the rounds, the first words out of my mouth were, "everyone who is facing the wrong direction go ahead and stand up and turn your chairs around. I want to make sure you are comfortable."

Tom Antion is a professional speaker and entertainer with over 2700 paid speeches to his credit. You can check out his award winning public speaking site http://www.Public-Speaking.org where you'll find 120 articles on professional level, yet easy to implement, speaking techniques and his speaking blog at http://GreatPublicSpeaking.blogspot.com

The Right Word at the Right Time

On my way home tonight, I stopped in a CVS store. As I was waiting in line the cashier called out to the person in front of me. It sounded like "Next guest, please." I wasn't sure I heard correctly. Then he looked at me and said very clearly, "Next guest, please." Wow!I immediately told him how nice it was to be called a guest. He replied, "That's what you are." I explained that it was the first time I had been called a guest in a store. He said, "I hope all of my people would say that". It turned out that he was the manager. I told him I had never had that experience anywhere except in a hotel.

There were two things that struck me. First, the manager was working the cash register. That action sent a message that customers come before job titles.
Secondly, his use of the word "guest" created a different experience. If the customer is a guest, then the cashiers are hosts. If they are hosts, they are there to welcome us and give us an experience, as opposed to conducting a transaction.
The entire interchange took three minutes. Yet that one manager created a pleasant experience by just using one word-guest.
What are the words that you use with your audience? your direct reports? your customers? Words are powerful. Words have the power to transform.
The trend in speaking has moved beyond conveying content to creating an experience. You don't have to be entertaining or funny to create an experience. Simply change your words.

Even Beauty Queens Need Good Presentation Skills

You say you don't need presentation skills? You're not a public speaker? Think again.
Beauty pageants aren't just about beauty. Did you know that the interview is 40% of the grade? That means if a contestant flubs the presentation there's a good chance she won't win the crown.

It's no different in business or the workplace. I've known very bright, competent people who lose instant credibility because of an inability to communicate or speak in public.
But don't take my word for it. See for yourself.


Don't Assume You Know What Your Audience Wants

My friend, Vera Moore, launched her line of Vera Moore cosmetics at Duane Reed. It was exciting for her to get her product line in the New York City store next to Macy's. I stopped by to share in her celebration. I had just returned from a networking breakfast where the authors gave us two books. I was juggling my handbag, a small tote bag and these two books in my arms. The books were too big for the tote bag. It was cumbersome to say the least.

When I left Vera's cosmetic display, I noticed a table with a wheel in front of the store. People were lined up to spin the wheel to win a prize. The prizes were a Jersey Boys CD, a tee shirt, or some little souvenirs. If you didn't land on a prime spot you would get a plastic bag with a brochure. I really wanted the bag. The CD was good but I really needed that plastic bag to hold my books for my commute.

As I spun the wheel I was hoping it would not land on one of the prizes. In other words, for the first time in my life I was hoping to be a loser. And I got my wish! The needle landed on the white space and they gave the plastic bag as a consolation prize. I put my books in the bag and went on my way a lot happier and feeling a lot lighter.

What is the lesson here? How often do we think we know what the client or audience wants? We make decisions using our own criteria rather than what the audience values.
Why would anyone want a plastic bag as a prize? Because at that moment in time that was my most pressing need. I needed to free my hands.

A consultant friend had a client who paid him his entire fee in advance. He thought it was because of his good reputation and negotiation skills. He later discovered the real reason. The client told him that he always paid up front because then the company couldn't cancel his project.

People do things for their reasons, not our reasons.

Years ago a company decided to do business with me after looking over several proposals. I asked them why they chose me. I thought they'd say it was my training design or the price. I was stunned when they told me the reason. "We like you."
Wow! I hadn't considered that.

The next time you're preparing a presentation or going on a sales call, ask the audience what they want. You may be surprised by what you hear.

Taking Audience Reaction A Little Too Personally?

I read a recent article in Forbes Woman entitled, Taking Things Too Personally? The article written by Heidi Brown, talks about how stress makes people "touchy" and overly sensitive to criticism in the workplace. I started to think about my clients and how nervous they feel in front of an audience. I sometimes think we take things personally and give the audience too much power.
I often tell people "Get Over Yourself!" If you're focusing on your fear or sense of rejection, you're being self-centered. It's not just about you.

This summer I was invited to speak at a scientific conference about public speaking.
The audience consisted of scientists, researchers, physicians, health care providers, and a few performers. It was stated up front that there was very little research on the science of public speaking. I felt resistance in the audience who valued research studies and data. One man actually opened his laptop and started typing. At first I was concerned and thought he was checking emails. Then I told myself, maybe he's taking notes on my talk! :)
I was so confident in my subject that I knew I was offering value. It may not have been the message they wanted to hear but it was a message they needed to hear.
Too many technical experts read their research studies and clutter their slides with tiny print. They needed a new perspective and I was going to be the one to tell them.

During the Q&A; session I was challenged a couple of times. I smiled and said thank you. It's okay to be challenged. It's fine for people to disagree. There were also people who loved my talk and how I delivered it.

The questions to ask yourself are "Am I in integrity?" "Am I speaking my truth as I know it?" "Do I care about the audience?" "Am I open to different opinions and ideas?" "Do I believe in my message?"

A day later, the coordinator emailed me and told me about one of the presenters.
A physician had stopped in the middle of her presentation. She said, "Oh, I'm reading my slides. Diane DiResta said not to read the slides."
Something got through. The message landed. As speakers we may have an impact and never know about it.

So...realize that your audience comes with their own expectations, experiences, and filters through which they see the world. It's easy to be confident when everybody hangs on your every word.

The real test is to stand with confidence and not react to every response from the audience. In other words, don't take it personally.

Does Your Audience Trust You?

On Friday morning, I heard Chris Brogan speak on a panel at the Harvard Club in New York City. The topic was about the New Relationship Economy and the Trust Economy. He said "we are farmers and stewards, not machinists". Another panelist, Charlie Green, said the doctrine of competition is poisoning the economy. "People trust people-not companies," he explained.

The third panelist, Julien Smith, referenced social media as the new megaphone. The reasons for trust are the same but the set of tools are changing over time. "We know what body language signals mean", he stated. "There is a new model of trust modeled online". If we don't answer emails for three days, the lack of response impacts trust. Each person left with books from the authors.

So what are the implications of building trust for speaking?
My first observation of this panel was the high level of preparation and delivery of the speakers. Each panelist spoke for exactly five minutes.
Embedded in those five minutes were nuggets of information and food for thought.

The event began with networking and breakfast and the presentation began on time. When the speakers finished, the rest of the meeting was for the audience. This style is Chris Brogan's signature. As a celebrity at podcamp, he believes that the expertise is in the room and not just in the minds of the speakers.
I would say that there was a good level of trust from this audience.

So how do you create trust with your audience?
1. Deliver what you promise. If you advertise a 9:00 start time, don't start at 9:15.
2. Create community. People bond around food. When one of my corporate clients cut back on breakfast, I brought in donuts. Allow people to mingle and make small talk to feel comfortable and connected.
3. Provide value in manageable segments. Trust expands when you respect people's time. Give them information they can use.
4. Share personal experience. We trust people who are real and who are most like us.
5. Involve and engage. Podcamp is called the "unconference". That's because the members of the audience contribute as much during the sessions as the speaker. A friend of mine shared a story with me. He was at a sales conference. During the presentation he raised his hand to offer an additional tip from his own experience. The speaker, feeling threatened, shot back "Excuse me. This is my speech." My friend was devastated. If you come from ego, you'll alienate the audience.

The new model of speaking is discourse not monologue.
When people can share ideas and opinions and they feel heard and respected, trust will grow exponentially.

Are You Losing Your Audience When You Speak?

Yesterday I attended a meeting about successful change in the workplace. It was about the merger between Bank of New York and Mellon Bank. The speaker talked about the importance of employee engagement. When there is transparent communication, and regular feedback people feel engaged. And engagement is directly related to shareholder value.

I started to think about public speaking. Your audience, in a sense, is your shareholder base. They have a share or stake in your message. But too often they stop listening and are more connected to their blackberries than to the speaker. We lose our audience because they are not engaged.

One reason the audience disconnects, is because the speaker is too verbose. Studies show that shorter audio recordings have a higher per centage of play through than longer audios. After 10 minutes people stop listening. The average song is less than five minutes. So in order for people to listen longer than 10 minutes you must have compelling content.

To engage your audience remember these three simple tips:
1. Keep it short
2. Deliver information they really want
3. Ask them for feedback

Present Your Business the Old Fashioned Way

What do email and snail mail have in common? They are both a form of communication, more specifically a form of business presentation. It seems like email is the preferred way to communicate. But consider this. How many of your ecards get through your client's spam filter? When they're busy do you think they read your ecard? Technology is great. We can now reach a global audience in seconds.
But nothing takes the place of the personal touch.

Today, a small business person approached me to learn about using a greeting card program. This program allows anyone to send a physical card in a stamped envelope from their computer anywhere in the world. He wanted to promote his wonderful art without being salesy. He realized that his ecards were cluttering the client's inbox and not accomplishing his goal. He decided to add photos of his art on to real paper cards as a way of showcasing his business and staying in touch with his clients.

People will delete email but they will open a personal note or card. The message you send is "I care. I took the time for you. I appreciate you." It's been said that actions speak louder than words. It's all about the presentation and the best presentations make a personal connection.

Uptalk is Detrimental Even in High School

I received this email from a high school student.

I am a junior in the Behavior Social Seminar program in Roslyn High School. I am currently investigating the perceptions of upspeak and came across your work in Ezine articles. The article was titled "Does Uptalk Make You Upchuck?". I was wondering if you would be able to tell me where you found your information regarding upspeak. Where did you find evidence that upspeak would cause others to have a negative perception of you? Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thank You. S.S.

Here was my response:

Dear S.S.

I know uptalk is a problem because companies send me professionals and executives who are not coming across powerfully.
When I work with them, uptalk is often one of their issues. I worked with one woman who couldn't get promoted to Vice President until she came across more powerfully. She learned how to speak with authority and got promoted.

In addition, there have been other reports about this communication pattern. I was interviewed by the London Guardian several years ago. Apparently it's a problem there as well. You can google them.

When I ask people about their perceptions of uptalk it's always negative. To sound authoritative the intonation goes down at the end of a sentence.
If your intonation goes up, it sounds as if you're asking a question. It's also known that a deeper voice sounds more authoritative than a higher pitch.

If you're looking for empirical studies you can check some of the communication journals although I don’t know of any.
As a research project, you could audiotape girls or women with and without uptalk. Have them say the same thing so that content is not a factor.
Then ask strangers which person is more confident, successful, etc.

Tally the results. I'll bet I can predict the outcome. This could be an interesting science project for you.

Thank you for contacting me.
If you'd like more tips on speaking you can read my book Knockout Presentations.

Best regards,
Diane DiResta www.diresta.com

Words That Drive Us Wacky

A Marist poll was released yesterday ranking the most annoying words and expressions. Guess which word ranked number 1? If you're a parent of a teen you already know the answer. The number 1 annoying word was "whatever". Coming in second was "you know".

Eleven per cent found the word "anyway" to be most annoying while 7 per cent disliked "at the end of the day".

Interestingly, there were regional differences. Fifty-five per cent of Midwesterners found "whatever" the most annoying while people from the Northeast rated "whatever" and "you know" equally annoying.

I explain in my speeches and workshops that there is a science of speaking. I show my clients what confidence looks like, sounds like, and how to speak the language of confidence. Now we have the data!

Using fillers such as "you know" can create a negative perception. I've worked with people who couldn't get promoted until they sounded more "professional".

Parents I didn't know emailed me to ask how they could get their children to "speak clearly" and not sound like a "cartoon character".

And, executives are not off the hook. Think about all the buzz words you hear at meetings:
"Going forward", "At the end of the day", "More bang for the buck", "I've got my ducks lined up", etc. It's so pervasive that people are playing B.S. Bingo at meetings. When they hear five of these annoying words or expressions they call out "bingo"!

The Wall Street Journal interviewed me about this subject. To read the article visit this link:


If you want to advance, work on your speech. What's your most annoying word?

Politics and Presentations

Last night I attended a Town Hall meeting. The crowd was quite vocal and not at all reticent about expressing strong opinions regarding health care reform. Some people rambled, some got to the point, while others heckled. Then one college student approached the microphone. She was well prepared as she gave her name and her major. The young woman referred to her notes and stayed on message. When the crowd got loud she got louder. She never backed down and continued until she made her point. This student was clear, prepared and passionate. When she finished the Congressman stopped her. "What was your major again?" he asked. She told him. He said, "Send me your resume."

I don't remember exactly what she said but I remember her. You never know where you will find an opportunity to find a job or make a sale. This student wasn't there to find a job. but because of her passion and presentation skills she attracted a job interview.

The lesson? Be in principle and on purpose.
The next time you're going about your business speaking your mind, someone, somewhere, just might make you an offer.

Is Speaking a Mental Game?

We've heard that golf is a mental game. But what about speaking? Public speaking still tops the list of all fears. What is fear? It's a belief, a thought, a perception. It's not tangible although you can see the signs of fear manifest in shaky knees or a sweaty brow.

When you're relaxed you speak better. When you're fearful, your body stiffens and your mind goes blank. That's a mental game. In the book, The Inner Game of Golf, author W. Timothy Gallwey talks about how the mind interferes with performance.
He created a formula to explain how this mental interference works:
P=p-i. The quality of your performance (P) is equal to your potential (p) minus the interference with the expression of that potential (i). In other words, Performance equals Self 2 (potential) minus Self 1 (mental interference).

Gallwey discovered that changing the negative self talk actually improved his golf game. It's the same with speaking.

Everybody has the potential to give an effective presentation. The reason it's not effective is because of negative thinking which causes us not to prepare, to nervously ramble on, and freeze up.
Fear is not real-it's imagined. It begins and ends in your mind.
You can take classes, get coached, and read books. But when you work on your mental game that's when you take your performance to the next level and give a Knockout Presentation!

Three Best Ways to Make a Viral Video

Social media has leveled the playing field. You can bypass expensive ad agencies and create your own video to promote yourself or your business. The question is, how do you get your message out there? The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the three best ways to make a viral video. To read the story and my quote, click here:


How to Give an Acceptance Speech

It’s that time again-we just watched the Emmy awards.
You may not win an Emmy or an Oscar but the moment may come when you receive an award. You’re excited. You’re honored. But wait! You’ll have to give an acceptance speech. What do you say? And how do you say it?
Don’t worry. You’ll shine on stage as long as you remember these tips:

1.Keep it brief. Most award ceremonies don’t allot much time to the recipients. So honor the time limits and don’t hog the stage. No one wants to hear you drone on.

2.Plan your message. Don’t be caught unprepared. Even if you think winning is a long shot, prepare a few message points and write down the names of people to thank. You don’t want to forget them in the excitement of the moment

3.Stay focused. Speakers go on too long because they ramble instead of concentrating on their message points. Practice and time your speech and
don’t go off on tangents.

4.Thank key people. It’s not always possible to thank every person so mention the VIPs and group others into categories. “I’d like to thank the cast and crew…

Whatever Happened to "I'm Sorry"?

Years ago a parent accused a teacher of denigrating her child's lifestyle. Of course, that wasn't what he said but she insisted that he apologize. The principal,being in a tight spot, decided to support the parent. The teacher didn't want to apologize for something he never said, so he wrote a letter saying he was sorry that the parent misunderstood, etc. He told me how he had finessed the apology without accepting responsibility. He knew was innocent of the charges.

Today, it seems that this is too often the case when people are guilty of some wrong doing.
When David Letterman disparaged Bristol Palin, his first apology was more of a joke than contrition. Only after pressure did he actually apologize.

Most recently Kanye West grabbed the microphone and interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech. His first response was to justify his actions, adding that no disrespect was intended. Only after intense pressure and increased outrage did he actually said he was sorry.

A basic rule in media training is this:
When a crisis occurs, take responsibility and do it quickly.
When people in business or in the public eye, beat around the bush and talk around an apology, it only festers. Kanye is now in a major damage control situation and continues to say his mea culpas.

If you've made an error in a professional or personal situation, apologize. Effective communication is clear, specific, and direct. When you're wrong, say so. Like the words of the old Brenda Lee song, say "I'm sorry."

Are You Speaking English or American?

Early in my training career, I was sent to the London office to give a management skills seminar.The British were pleasant and receptive. At one point I told them that "These are skills you can use back on the job." All of sudden I heard a burst of laughter. I knew it couldn't have been my humor. Was the transfer of skills really that funny? I soon realized that "on the job" was the British equivalent of turning a trick. Uh oh. How was I to know? Nothing prepared me for that.

It was announced today that Mayor Bloomberg of New York City and Boris Johnson signed a two year deal to promote cross-Atlantic visits between London and New York.

So,if you speak in London, avoid putting your foot in your mouth. Here are some common terms to know:

trainspotter-a dork
it went off like a bomb-it was a success

Before you speak internationally talk to a cross cultural expert,read a book, and talk to the locals. And be careful when you say "on the job."

Speaking is the Key to Success in a Recession

In a down market, business owners and business professionals have less money to spend on marketing. One of the most cost effective ways and underutilized marketing skills is public speaking. If you're looking for a job, try speaking on a panel at a professional organization or give a free presentation at the public library or rotary club. You never know who you'll meet.

As a business owner, you'll want to be more strategic. Speaking in front of the right groups can provide you with leads and business opportunities. But you must have good platform skills to market by speaking.

Listen to my tips in my radio interview with Jim Blasingame.