Public Speaking in Soundbites

Are you able to get to the point? Do you know how to speak in soundbites? Speaking in soundbites help your message land. I created a video book of public speaking soundbites from a recent presentation:

How many times have you heard a presentation only to have your eyes glaze over? The speaker takes too long to get to the point and your brain simply shuts off. Overtalking is deadly when trying to get approval for an idea or when selling your product or service.

And it happens in networking meetings.People deliver a verbal resume instead of an elevator pitch. By the time it's the last person's turn it's time to go home. What many people don't understand about public speaking and clarity is that less is more. Some public speakers give so much detail that the listeners need a machete to cut through all the verbal weeds. To avoid going down a rabbit hole and losing your audience forever, try speaking in soundbites instead.

A soundbite is a short sentence or phrase that is easy to remember. I media train clients who have television interviews to speak in soundbites.The goal of a media interview is to provide "quotable quotes" that contain your message points. Soundbites make the message memorable.

Contrast these two messages:

"You need to learn to be a better speaker because you'll have to go on interviews and sell your ideas and there is a lot of competition and it will be harder to get the job or get promoted if other people speak better and you don't sound confident or clear, or concise so you should practice or take classes so you're not left behind."

"Speaking is the new competitive advantage"

Which do you remember? Which can you repeat?

So when it comes to communication and making the message land, Less is More.

What's your favorite sound bite? Comment below.

Speaking Lessons from Shark Tank

kevinolearyLast month I had the good fortune to hear Kevin O’Leary of Shark Tank speak at a networking event. Unlike typical celebrity events, this venue was intimate, allowing contact with Mr O’Leary and even a photo opp. After drinks and hors d’oeuvres, we gathered into a small theater-like room to hear him speak. His speaking approach surprised me and I found it refreshing. Instead of the usual PowerPoint, or main stage podium presentation, Mr O’Leary entered the room in an unassuming manner yet strongly communicated executive presence. After being introduced, he stood next to a leather chair, his only prop a wine glass in hand as he told his story.

He began by telling us about his mother’s influence on how he thinks about his investments today and took us on a journey from his early, hungry years, the “tough love” lessons from his mother, and how he is raising his children based on his own upbringing. He discussed the issue of how to stay grounded after acquiring riches, his decisions and relationships on Shark Tank, his current enterprises, and advice for today’s entrepreneurs. His decisions to do business with partners isn’t contingent on liking them and he was clear about separating personal feelings from business.

Politics was not part of the presentation until the last questioner asked for his opinion on the Presidential election which he answered directly. Ever the salesman, he ended with a call to action. He let the audience know that he owned a vineyard and we could buy his $60 red wine for $10 on QVC.

Mr. O’Leary didn’t miss a beat. He spoke fluently, conversationally, and matter-of-factly, as he wove sage advice through his stories. This was not a speech but a conversation. And the audience loved it!  It was interesting how much of the presentation I retained because he made the message memorable.

What I learned was this: The best public speakers stay true to themselves. Kevin O’Leary has a quiet style but was no less captivating than a Tony Robbins. He told his personal story and made a connection with the audience. By sharing business successes and an inside view of SharkTank, he provided real value to an audience of entrepreneurs. He didn’t waffle when asked a political question. He put a stake in the ground. And of course, he told us how to get a discount on his wine. The audience was captivated. And that’s why he’s called Mr.Wonderful.

Six Sloppy Speech Habits


You may look like a million but if you want to close a big sale, gain approval from a co-op, or interview for a board position, looks aren’t everything. How you sound is equally as important. But many presenters let careless speech habits sink their chances of making a positive impression and reaching their goals. Here are six common speaking mistakes and how to keep them from sabotaging your presentation success.  Watch the video and read Diane’s tips below.

1. Non-words:

Filler words such as “um,” “ah,” “you know”, “OK” or “like” tell the listener you’re not prepared and make you sound like a Valley Girl (or Boy). A better strategy is to think before you speak, taking pauses and breaths when you lose your train of thought. Everybody utters an occasional “um,” but don’t start every sentence with fillers or non-words.

2. "Up-talk":

A singsong or rising inflection at the end of every sentence creates a tentative impression and makes it sound as though you’re asking a question instead of making a definitive statement. You need to speak with conviction when selling yourself in a presentation. Bring your intonation down when ending a sentence to avoid talking up.

3. Grammatical Errors:

The listener may question your education when you use incorrect grammar or slang. Expressions such as “ain’t” “she don’t,” “me and my friend” and “Shoulda went” aren’t appropriate. Be sure you speak in complete sentences and that your tenses agree. The presentation is not the venue for regional expressions or informality.

4. Sloppy Speech:

Slurring words together or dropping the endings of words will impair the clarity of your message. To avoid slurring and increase clarity, speak slowly during a meeting or presentation. Make a list of commonly mispronounced words, and practice saying them into a recorder before the presentation. Some commonly mispronounced words include “aks” for “ask,” “ath a lete” for “athlete,” “thee ATE er” for “theater”, and “dree” for “three.”

5. Speed Talking:

While everybody is a bit anxious when giving a speech or presentation, you don’t want your information to fly by like a speeding bullet. A rapid speaking rate is difficult to follow, and speed talkers are perceived as nervous. Slow down your racing heart by doing some breathing exercises before the meeting. To avoid rushing, listen to the question, and then count two beats in your head before answering. When you finish a sentence, count two beats again before continuing. Don’t be afraid of silence. Embrace it. Pausing is an effective communication technique. The listener needs a few seconds to process what you just said.

6. Weak Speak:

Wimpy words modify or water down your conviction and undermine your position. When you pepper a conversation with “hopefully,” “perhaps,” “I feel,” “kind of” and “sort of,” the message you convey is a lack of certainty. Use power words such as “I’m confident that,” “my track record shows,” “I take the position that,” “I recommend” or “my goal is.” The language you use gives the listener an impression about your level of confidence and conviction.

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to study elocution to speak well. Simply slow down, take time to pronounce all the syllables, and leave the slang at home.

This article is also published on The Three Tomatoes, The Insider's Guide for Wwomen who aren't kids.


7 Mistakes to Avoid When Speaking to Sell

Most small businesses are overlooking the  most powerful and cost effective marketing strategy to increase sales. Creating and delivering a 20 to 45 minute seminar, can go a long way in positioning entrepreneurs to capture more leads and increase sales. Unlike more traditional cold calling, the benefits of seminar selling keep on giving.

Boring to Brilliant Public Speaking: Make Dry Topics Dynamic

actor-666499__180There are no boring topics-only boring speakers. Just about every audience and coaching client has heard me make that statement about public speaking. Recently, a client proved my theory at a corporate conference. He and his team were charged with creating a panel presentation to introduce the new compliance directives and expectations. Are you falling asleep yet? If you were a public speaker would you be panicking about how to keep people's attention? Unless the topic of compliance is your passion, or you're a trained actor, you'd be wondering how on earth you could possibly make this subject dynamic and interesting. But they did! Here's how:

The presenters wrapped a Star Wars theme around compliance. The presentation began with a Star Wars- like graphic slide complete with music and scrolling text.They substituted compliance terms into the text about the challenges of the galaxy.

After the slide faded to dark, the presenters walked on stage. When the lights went up the audience saw the panelists standing with lasers. The moderator walked center stage and spoke his opening line directly to the audience. But wait. There was more.

As the panelists were seated, the moderator looked around in surprise One of the panelists was missing. After much curiosity, the last panelist entered as Princess Leia dressed in white. She appeared as an imaginary hologram portending the future and then left the stage. She returned as herself and took her seat. By this time the audience was laughing, engaged, and revved up.

The panel discussion continued smoothly as the audience was truly primed to listen. Midway during the panel, to avoid any monotony, the panel called  R2D2, complete with sound effects in one of the slides. The moderator then announced a Question and Answer session.

And.just when you thought it was safe to be boring, the first questioner turned out to be Darth Vader in costume. He caused a commotion with his comments and his laser and was quickly escorted out by "security". The panel ended on a high note I'm sure it will be talked about for some time to come.

So what can we learn from this creative approach to a dry topic?

Wrap a dry topic in a dynamic, familiar theme. Movie and book titles are good sources for ideas.

Use music and sound effects to create excitement and emotion. This is especially potent when the audience recognizes a theme song. It can be as brief as a chorus or refrain.

Create visual interest. Props, graphics, and costumes are an alternative to slides. A prop can be a dollar bill or it can be people from the audience. The idea is to stimulate all the senses.

Trigger the element of surprise. The audience was not expecting Princess Leia and Darth Vader to appear in the audience. A simple magic trick or quick poll can be the source of the unexpected or unknown.

Leverage technology. Presenters don't have to rely exclusively on PowerPoint. Videotape an interview or talk to a remote site using live streaming.

Have fun. What made a boring topic exciting is that the presenters were having fun. Nothing engages an audience like laughter. When you're having fun, you abandon fear and become fully present in the moment and with the audience.

And that means never being boring again.

10 Steps to Confidence


Why do we spend years on developing competence when research proves that CONFIDENCE trumps COMPETENCE? Because we falsely believe that it's our smarts and not our hearts that get us to the top. So how do you learn confidence?  Here are 10 steps to confidence.

  1. Clear. Get clear about who you are as a person and get clear about your presentation outcome. Clarity is the first step to confidence. Focus on your message and establish a benchmark for achieving your presentation outcome.
  2. Other-Centered. Nervousness is self-centeredness. Turn your attention away from you and toward your audience. Ask, "How can I serve them?" "How can I make them comfortable." Do a deep dive into the minds of your listeners. When you profile your audience, you'll speak their language, create rapport, and you'll feel more prepared.
  3. Natural. There is only one you. You have your own unique style. Don't set out to give a presentation. Be conversational and be yourself. If you're not funny, don't tell a joke. Share something personal and the audience will relate to you.
  4. Free from Judgment. Eliminate your need for perfection and stop" shoulding" on yourself. Monitor your self-talk. When you begin the presentation, imagine success. When you finish the presentation, give yourself credit for the things you did well. Confidence develops over time and in a positive atmosphere. Mohammed Ali said "I am the greatest," before he was ever a champion
  5. Improvise. Public speakers who are wedded to their scripts can be easily caught off guard if they lose their place or if there is a technical glitch. Learning to improvise will boost your confidence. When disaster strikes  embrace it instead of freezing in place. Prepare your recovery strategy with ad-lib lines.
  6. Design. Confident delivery sits on well-designed structure. Confidence begins before you ever open your mouth. It starts with good organization. Good structure will keep you focused and on message, And your audience will be able to follow your points.
  7. Enthusiastic Enthusiasm sells. When you're excited, you forget your nervousness. Speak from your passion and you'll find your energy increases. Raise your energy by doing something physical. Move around the room. Get louder. Use more gestures.Enthusiasm is contagious and your audience will be excited along with you.
  8. Network. Do you feel like the naked speaker up there all alone? To gain confidence network before you speak. Get to the room early and practice. As people enter, greet each person with a smile and a handshake. By the time it's your turn to speak you'll be in the company of friends.
  9. Concise. A speech can quickly unravel if the speaker gets stuck in the weeds of details. To feel confident, get to the point. Create crisp message points and build examples around each point. Instead of rolling their eyes, the audience will hang on your every word.
  10. Engaging. It's hard to feel confident when you're a talking head. Give fewer facts and tell more stories. Why are stories so powerful? Stories draw the audience in,  break down resistance and entice them open to your message. Stories make your message memorable. And here's the bonus point.. A story has a natural sequence so you don't have to worry about losing your train of thought. Simply tell the story. Be in the story and your audience will be engaged.

Re-Launch of “Give Fear the Finger”


GFTF 3D coverDiResta Communications Recognizes International Women’s Day with Re-Launch of “Give Fear the Finger”

Diane DiResta, author, speaker and owner of DiResta Communications honors the 2016 theme for International Women’s Day—Gender Equality

New York City, NY:  “International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” The 2016 theme is Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.”

Diane DiResta, in keeping with this theme, is relaunching her latest book, Give Fear the Finger: How to Knock out Fear of Public Speaking and making it available for only $.99 for the rest of the month, starting with International Women’s Day.

Give Fear the Finger shows women (and men) how to never be nervous again. Diane teaches the reader the secrets to being confident and fearless whether speaking to one or 1000. The interactive ebook shows how to stand up to fear and command the platform. Gifted speakers are born but effective speakers are made. Speaking is the new competitive advantage and levels the playing field for women. It gives them visibility they might not access and allows them to have a platform. Speaking let women celebrate their social, economic, cultural and political achievement.

Diane DiResta, who grew up on military bases around the world, began her career as a speech pathologist and now travels internationally teaching interpersonal communications and presentation skills. She traveled to Russia to speak to women entrepreneurs and teaches public speaking in countries like Tanzania, Africa; Bermuda, Brazil, Egypt, Spain and the UK. Diane’s mission is “empowering through the spoken word.”

About Diane DiResta, CSP

Diane DiResta is the founder and CEO of DiResta Communications, Inc, a New York City-based communications skills consultancy serving business leaders who want to communicate with greater impact – whether one-to-one, in front of a crowd, or from an electronic platform. DiResta is a certified speaking professional, a designation held by 12% or professional speakers nationwide. She's also the author of the ebook Give Fear the Finger: How to Knock Out Fear of Public

Speaking and Knockout Presentations, an best seller and widely used text in College business communication courses, entrepreneurship, and more. Celebrated for her inspirational message and inviting presentation style, Diane draws from her knowledge and expertise to engage and motivate her audiences to become the change agents in their own lives and businesses.

For additional information on Diane visit her website -

To order a copy of Give Fear the Finger for $.99 (beginning Tuesday, March 8) -

To schedule an in interview with Diane, contact her publicist, Sandy Lawrence

281-989-8892 (Cell)


Stay on Message Without Being Scripted

manuscript-547042_640In a Republican debate, Senator Marco Rubio had emerged as a great orator and touted his third place standing as a win. There was a lot of buzz about Rubio and he was riding high despite being number three. So it was no surprise that he walked into the next debate confident and expecting more of the same. And then it happened. Governor Chris Christie hammered him. Christie came down hard on Rubio for reciting his message point for a third time and accused him of being scripted. It didn't go well for Rubio and Christie won that round.

How can the skill of staying focused and on message be to the detriment of a public speaker? As a speaking strategist and media trainer, I advise my clients to know their message and to stay on message. This is especially important in a media interview. A skilled media guest will lead with key messages and weave them throughout the interview.

The red flag is when the presenter doesn't answer the question and defaults to a message that doesn't follow the line of questioning. What should Rubio have done? Answer the question to the best of his ability without repeating the same message point again.

Most of us won't be running for office or even presenting in a formal debate. But we will need to persuade, convince, and inform our stakeholders. I advise audiences and clients to familiarize, don't memorize. When a public speaker repeats the same points too close together and uses the exact same words, that's when authenticity is lost. That sounds scripted.

The first mistake is reading a manuscript word-for-word. It takes a special skill and much practice to deliver the words so it doesn't sound like you're reading text. Some scientific lecturers stand and read their research. I told them, "I can read as well as you." Why would anybody want to listen to the reading of a research paper?

The second mistake is memorizing word-for-word. Even though the presenter is not reading, it's obvious the message is not natural.

When I first started out in the speaking business, I worked for a seminar company. At the end of every seminar my manager and I would read the reviews. To my surprise, someone wrote, "Diane, though, helpful, sounded canned."  Yikes! Put a stake in my heart. But I realized that I had memorized the script they gave me and I sounded like a talking head. With practice, I learned how to sound conversational and make the content natural.

Audiences are more sophisticated than ever. They want to hear a subject matter expert and not a presenter giving a book report. They want to know you're authentic. You achieve that by preparing your message, practicing your message, and listening for when to divert from the message. It's in listening that we become truly authentic.

And the Best Speaker Is....

speakers-129535__180Speaking is a leadership skill. Period. It's difficult to lead if you can't convey a clear, compelling message that inspires and moves people to action. Last night the candidates eagerly awaited the results of the Iowa Caucus. It was a tight race with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders almost tied. But the real winner was the orator of the night-Marco Rubio.

While Ted Cruz came in first, his victory speech was too long, too analytical, and not inspiring. I kept changing the station in search of commentator's reviews. Each time I toggled back, there was Ted, still droning on. This was a lost opportunity to inspire and build excitement for the next race. I didn't remember much of his speech.

Donald Trump came in a close second. The usually pompous, bombastic Trump took it down a notch and gave a gracious concession speech. He thanked and acknowledged the people of Iowa and congratulated Ted Cruz. This was a different Donald Trump and he won points in building trust with his followers. He kept his remarks brief and didn't make excuses. This was a model for losing gracefully and yet not giving up. In keeping with his entrepreneurial personality, he cut his losses quickly and moved on to the next phase.

The real stand-out was Marco Rubio who was neck-in-neck with Mr. Trump. While his speech was well-prepared, his words and delivery were passionate and heartfelt. He stayed on message with his immigrant story, his family values, and the need to conquer the competing party. We could relate to his classic hero's journey. " This is the moment they said would never happen. For months they told us we had no chance. They said I had to wait my  turn". . Although his speech was criticized for sounding much like Obama's speech back in 2012, he left his constituents inspired, exhilarated, and confident in his leadership. Rubio turned a third place result into a victory speech.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton was at her best. Her fire was not only in her belly but on display in her eyes. She also gave a victory speech even though the results were too close to call. Mrs. Clinton connected with her audience and carried her enthusiasm with her as she exited the stage.

Bernie Sanders, although older than Clinton, communicates energy. He, too, was impassioned in his delivery. The young people not only fed off his message of free college and taxing Wall Street, but his energy and strong conviction connected with this audience. He regarded the evening as a tie with Clinton and expressed confidence in winning New Hampshire. Energy sells.

Will the best speaker win? Not necessarily.There's more to winning a political race than public speaking. But excellent presentation skills will elevate a candidate's leadership, enhance the brand, inspire trust and confidence. Words well written and delivered with absolute conviction and passion will always linger in the hearts and minds of the listeners.


When the Previous Speaker Steps on your Lines

hand-977641__180It's a public speaker's worst nightmare. You spent hours crafting and preparing your message. You targeted the message to the right audience. You're  waiting in the wings as you listen to the speaker right before you. And then it happens. The presenter says in the opening what you were going to say. And that's followed up with a similar statistic that you planned to cite. What's a presenter supposed to do?

This happened to a friend of mine a few years ago. He was speaking at a conference. His presentation was scheduled for day two. He arrived the day before and decided in sit in and listen to some of the presentations. It was a good thing he did! To his amazement, one of the early speakers started speaking about the same sports hero that my friend planned to talk about. And the quotes and statistics were similar. He  panicked as he felt all his hard work going down the drain.

Fortunately,time was on his side. He left the meeting, rushed back to his room and started rewriting his speech. The presentation was a success but not without a lot of angst. He learned two important lessons:

Arrive at the conference early and listen to the other speeches. Tell your own stories. Nobody can duplicate what is unique to you.

A similar experience happened to me. I was invited along with two other women to give a 5 minute presentation for a fundraiser. The first woman was the founder of the charity and her talk clearly didn't compete with mine. The second speaker was from the medical field so I didn't expect there would be any overlap. Was I wrong!

As she started talking about her topic, she mentioned the same fact I had planned to cite. And then she followed up with a statistic that was similar to mine. I kept a poker face but inside my jaw was dropping. My mind was racing. It was too late to change my opening so instead of resisting it I included it. I stepped up to the platform and led with my original opening line. Then I said, "As the first speaker said, it's important to ...." It worked. An audience needs to hear a message more than once so I reiterated the value of what she said as I transitioned to my prepared tips.

My learning? If two speakers are presenting on the same topic but from different disciplines, it's important to talk to each other. If a scientist and artist are talking about communication, their perspectives may be different. But it doesn't mean they won't come up with a similar quote, anecdote, or metaphor.

At some point, a presenter may unintentionally step on your lines It could be a co-worker at a meeting, or during a major presentation. To prevent someone from stepping on your lines,

  • Arrive early to the meeting and listen to the presenters on the agenda.
  • Tell your own stories.Nobody has your personal experience.
  • When speaking on the same topic, call the other presenters to ensure there is little overlap.
  • If somebody does use your line, either delete it or include it by crediting the other speaker.

Use these tips and you'll be able to step up instead of being stepped on.


What's Your Presentation Worth?


It doesn't matter whether it's a raise, a promotion, or a large capital expenditure. Public speaking pays. Are you losing money every time you speak? Do you know why? You can be dressed to the nines, but a Brooks Brothers suit won't help if your presentation doesn't match your million dollar look. I remember the first time I met Cathy (not her real name). Her manager, a Vice-President, called me in to coach her. Cathy was having difficulty getting promoted.

When I met Cathy, I was surprised. She could have been on the cover of Forbes magazine. Cathy exuded executive presence visually. The challenge was when she presented her ideas to senior management, she immediately lost credibility. By not presenting a strong recommendation, and using uptalk and wimpy words, Cathy's value was diminished. As a result of my coaching, she learned to speak powerfully and was promoted to VP. Now that's a return on investment.

Another client of mine was a CEO of a multi national healthcare company. His challenge was to convince management to invest in a  $300 million facility in Europe. It would take 5 years from beginning construction to licensed facility. Clinical trials for a vaccine were 3 years away. This was an investment with high risk. He didn't even know if the vaccine would work. The CEO's presentation had to be clear, understandable, and effective in persuading management that the risk was worth it. The CEO got the funding. The facility was built. The product sold over $1 billion per year.

He said, “Without that presentation and convincing the executive committee to invest, we wouldn’t have the product.” That's MAJOR ROI!

Speaking leads to influence and influence leads to success. It's about how you articulate your value. How much money is left on the table due to a weak presentation?  A family member worked for a doctor's office handling insurance claims. She wanted a raise but wasn't having success. She realized the claims were being denied because they contained the wrong codes.

So she diligently nudged the doctors to apply the correct codes and helped them to do just that. The result was that fewer claims were being rejected. I howled, "You mean to tell me they are collecting on more claims because of you? You're directly impacting their bottom line! You're increasing their cash flow! Tell them that." She did, and she got her raise. Again, there is an ROI from effective presentations.

It doesn't matter whether you seek a raise, a promotion, or approval on a large capital expenditure: public speaking pays. The payoffs for you, the speaker, are increasing sales, earning a raise, getting a promotion, receiving investor capital, and more. And when you have excellent presentation skills you may even be paid to speak. Ka Ching Ka Ching.

Are you in the middle of a merger? Are you launching a new product? Do you have to give a presentation to your sales force?  You won't have a second chance. When your presentation is make or break, contact DiResta Communications, Inc.

Public Speaking Lessons from The Big Short

grid-871475__180What's the one word that's the kiss of death for most presentations? No, it's not BORING. Boring is the outcome. What makes a presentation boring?

The word is ... COMPLEXITY. An audience often dreads having to listen to  technical or financial topics because they  expect to be confused and bored. The technical speaker does have a bigger challenge than most public speakers because of the complex nature of their information.

How does a public speaker use the  KISS formula (keep it short and simple) for technical or financial topics? Let's look to Hollywood to find the answer.

I recently saw the movie The Big Short which is about the U.S. housing crisis that caused the financial collapse of 2008.  Imagine having to explain the financial products and intricacies of mortgages to the average person..How exciting is that?  Yet the movie did a masterful job of simplifying the message, keeping it interesting, and making it stick.

There were at least four presentation techniques that the movie used to explain a complicated topic in a manner that anyone could understand

Set the Stage: Introduce the Problem and Characters The movie began by identifying the origin of the problem long before there was a financial crisis by introducing the man who created Mortgaged Backed Securities. Ask yourself as a a technical speaker, Am I able to introduce the problem and the players in a couple of simple sentences at the beginning of the presentation?

Tell stories. A big mistake in technical public speaking  is to spout a lot of data and hard facts. In the film, the audience learned how events unfolded by watching a well told story.Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Good stories are visual. The speaker creates word pictures that create an experience for the listeners. As a technical speaker, do you allow the audience to learn the sequence of events by telling the story?

Use analogies.The best way to simplify a complex subject is to use metaphors and analogies.The filmmaker created a clever clip of the chef, Anthony Bordain who was cooking a fish stew. He likened Mortgage Backed Securities to having three day old fish.

You can no longer sell the fish because it's not fresh. But you don't want to throw it away and lose money. So you chop it up and add it to the seafood stew. You now have a new product you can sell. Just like the fish stew, the Mortgage Backed Security is a product that contains valued mortgages along with some subprime worthless mortgages thrown in. As a technical speaker, do you employ comparisons, analogies, and metaphors to help the audience relate the content to what they already know? Do you use video clips to demonstrate the concept?

Connect with the Audience. There's a concept in acting called the Fourth Wall. It's the imaginary wall in the front of the stage where the audience sees the action.The actors perform as if they don't see the audience.  In the film, the actors break the fourth wall. That is, they get out of character and speak directly to the camera as if they know the audience is watching. It's often done to explain what 's going on in the scene. As a technical speaker, do you TALK AT the audience or do you share a personal experience? Do you break through the fourth wall of formal speaking to show your humanity? Do you engage in self-disclosure?

What if you're not a filmmaker? Can you accomplish this level of simplicity as a technical speaker?

One of my clients said, "My topic is boring. I speak about compliance,' to which I said, "There are no boring topics-only boring speakers. In the movie The Big Short, the writers  made the housing crisis fascinating and explained financial instruments simply and clearly so that anybody could understand them.

And now technical speakers can take a lesson from their playbook. Use these four techniques to simplify complex content and engage your audience until the very end.


3 Magic Words that Kill Public Speaking Fear


magic lampDid you ever wonder if there was an Aladdin's Lamp for public speaking? All you would need to do is ask the Genie for the magic words to eliminate fear of public speaking or performance anxiety. Just like the eternal search for the fountain of youth, people still yearn for that elixir, potion, or formula that will make their nervousness vanish. What I've discovered is that the words you speak have the power to transform how you think. It's not what you say but how you think about your fear. A number of years ago I spoke to a group of company leaders. They, like everyone else, were nervous about public speaking. At one point I looked them straight in the eye and made a statement. After the training seminar, people told me that those words were very powerful and changed how they thought about public speaking.

Fast forward to a coaching client who was afraid to speak up in her class. She even thought about dropping out of law school because she was so nervous about public speaking. I told her the same thing I told every public speaker. And then it happened. She started to think differently after I shared those famous words with her. She graduated from law school and went on to give presentations without fear.

Most recently, a former client called me for a refresher. She told me her manager noticed a big improvement in her presentation and the way she interacted with clients. He offered her the refresher coaching session to prepare for their upcoming high stakes presentation. During the meeting, my client shared with me that the words I said to her truly changed how she thought about presentations and public speaking. Are the words really magical? No! The words themselves contain nothing magical. What the words did was reframe the way people were thinking about their fear. They were viewing public speaking through a negative frame and that triggered anxiety.

Even though I'm a seasoned professional speaker, I found myself getting nervous the day before a presentation. It was a 10 minute spotlight for the National Speakers Association. I confided to my friend that I was a nervous wreck. I couldn't wait for it to be over. My friend grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "Diane, don't do that to yourself. You're not nervous. You're energized." So I went home and recited my new mantra: "I'm energized. I'm energized." The next morning I gave my speech and it was a success. Words do make a difference.

The 3 magic words have made an impact on so many people. I think it is time I share them with you. So what are the 3 Magic Words that help people face their fear?

"It's About Them."

When I speak to audiences of nervous presenters, I tell them, "Get over yourself. It's not about you. It's about them." What they've come to realize is that at the very core of public speaking nervousness is a feeling of being self-centered. That's right. If you focus on the fear, you're thinking about yourself. If you think about what the audience wants and needs, you're coming from a place of service.

Language reflects thought. Change your language and you'll change your thinking. The next time anxiety occupies your mind, change your focus. Tell yourself, "It's about them."

What have you said to yourself to change your thinking?

Three Presentations Entrepreneurs Must Master

speakingWhether you’re a solopreneur or an INC 5000 CEO on the fast track, your ability to present yourself, your company, and your value, will determine the trajectory of your business Here are three presentations every entrepreneur must master:

The Positioning Statement. At the simplest level, the positioning statement is your company’s brand message. What do you do, whom do you serve, and how does the customer benefit?   It must be clear, concise, compelling and convincing. Aim for 15 seconds or less. To be concise, write your positioning statement as a tweet. In order to be compelling and convincing you’ll need to talk outcomes, not features.  It should prompt the listener to say, “How do you do this?”

Here are some examples:

A sales trainer: “I work with sales companies who want to sell more in less time.”

An actress: “I work with savvy professionals to speak with the poise, passion and persuasive power of a Broadway actor."

A divorce mediator: “I help you get your life back.”

Use sensory language and evocative metaphors to create emotion. The brain ignores overused expressions as simply words. Brain scans, however, reveal that sensory metaphors like ‘silky voice' actually trigger the sensory cortex.  Hollywood producer, Peter Guber said that he lost a log of big deals in the beginning of his career because he gave investors “a lot of data but didn’t engage them emotionally”. So be expressive - descriptive - and tap into the listeners’ emotions.

Marketing with a Speech. If you’re not speaking to promote your business, you’re leaving money on the table. Public speaking is the most cost effective and yet underutilized form of marketing. Offering seminars and presentations to your target audience, allows you to show them how you can solve their problems and serve their needs. This is much less time consuming than scheduling one-on-one meetings. When the audience sees you in action, it’s like test driving a car. You build trust through your message and live performance.

To succeed with speak marketing, you’ll need to bone up on your platform skills. Poor presentation skills will foster a lack of trust. And don’t make it a sales pitch. The key to success is to engage the audience by giving them an experience. One sales manager taped a dollar bill under each chair. During his pitch to convince the sales team to sell more, he told them to reach under their seats. When they had the dollar bill in their hands he bellowed, “It just goes to show you there’s money to be made when you get off your butt.”

Provide value, offer a few tips, and challenge their thinking. Be sure to have a low entry call to action such as a free strategy session or a discounted product. The goal is to gather sales leads. The easiest way to capture business cards is to raffle off a prize.

Pitching for Dollars. At some point, a company will need funding in order to grow. To get investors to part with their money requires a compelling story. Facts tell, but stories sell. In telling the business story, the entrepreneur must convey passion and confidence. The presentation deck won’t sell itself. I once asked an investor how much weight he gave the presentation. He told me that a strong management team was most important but decided against funding one company because the CEO was a weak presenter. This made the investors lose confidence in the company. Make strong eye contact, eliminate /ums/, and speak with conviction.

The power of passion cannot be underplayed. Research shows a direct correlation between “perceived passion” and the likelihood of receiving funding from investors. A study by Chapman University published an experiment in the Journal of Business Venturing. Researchers asked angel investors to rate the passion and enthusiasm of the presenters while controlling for risk, revenue potential and market opportunity. Perceived passion came in third, outranking education, age, style, or start-up experience.

Another mistake is not knowing the audience. Angel investors are different from VCs. Understand their goals and do research to determine if they understand your industry. Remember to think from their point of view. Investors don’t care about your product. Tell them how they’ll make money. And be sure to get to the point. Investors have short attention spans. “They decide in 90 seconds if they are going to listen and decide in the first five minutes if it’s a NO”, according to Karen Rands, Founder of LAUNCH.fn. The ideal timing for a business pitch is 15-20 minutes.

By mastering these three entrepreneurial presentations, business owners will be able to take their companies to the next level and soar.

What Carly Fiorina Knows About Public Speaking Gravitas

Carly fiorina speaking.jpg Is public speaking the key to winning an election?   At the beginning of the debate 40% of the people didn't know Carly Fiorina. According to the google heat map, 82% googled her after her public speaking success. Whether you like her or not, clearly, she gave a stellar performance. She was a stand out among her peers, exuding executive presence and gravitas. What does that mean? If you define gravitas as decisiveness, poise under pressure, assertiveness, and confidence, Carly had it in spades.

Her presentation was clear, focused, and direct. Her tone was confident and not overly emotional. When questioned, she didn't miss a beat. Carly's speech was devoid of hesitations and fillers yet she did not sound canned. Her responses were well thought out and when pressed, she responded with explanations, not defensiveness. Contrasted to Donald Trump, who responded with anger, Carly appeared in control and presidential. Granted, she was not questioned by Megyn Kelly. But the mark of a true leader is to deflect hostile questions and bridge to the message points. Based on her performance in the first debate, there's a good chance she'd be able to handle tougher questioning. As a result of her presentation, she increased her name recognition.

Public speaking is the new competitive advantage. What sets you apart from the competition is your presentation. This was evident when watching some of the other candidates. Although they may have had greater name recognition and a resume of accomplishments, a few candidates came across as flat or nervous. Others were confrontational. Can public speaking be the key to winning an election? Probably not when politics are at play. But the best leaders are great communicators. In politics and in business, excellent presentation skills will make you memorable, extend your brand, and build confidence in your leadership.



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

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

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

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

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

Here is my 6 second presentation:

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


Public Speaking is Being Infected by a Vocal Virus


hands-589475_640Anthrax isn't the only bacteria we need to worry about. There's a vocal virus that is sweeping the nation. In the last few days, I've been getting more responses to a video on my youtube channel about Uptalk. It seems to be hitting a nerve. Watch here, then keep reading below:

To many listeners, Uptalk sounds like nails on a chalkboard. I've had employers contact me to work with young women who have this speech pattern. Uptalk does not serve anyone in the workplace. It kills your credibility, destroys your presentations, makes you sound younger and less confident, and can prevent you from being promoted or working on high profile projects.

Here are a couple of recent comments on youtube:

This video should be shown once a week in schools here in the U.S. Males do this too now as well. It is terrible, and makes males look/appear incredibly effeminate.  You are doing God's work, Diane."

Scarey - Every woman in my office under the age of 40 uptalks, more than men but men are doing it as well.  One person literally uptalks on every sentence.  I even now hear older people starting to do this.  It is taking over.

Do you think it's too late? Is Uptalk already embedded in the culture? Should the schools and workplace intervene or should we let Uptalk continue to evolve? Your thoughts?

It's World Voice Day - Do You Have a Voice?

Woman Yelling In MegaphoneDo you have a voice? Voice matters. Everyone has a right to express their voice. But you can't do that if you've lost your voice.  It's World Voice Day, a day dedicated to the care of the voice. You use your voice everyday and vocal misuse and abuse are not uncommon. Follow these tips for  a healthy voice.

Vocal Hygiene Tips

Avoid Vocal Fry

Vocal fry is a phenomenon that is taking off around the nation. Watch my interview with Nancy Redd on HuffPost Live to hear what it sounds like:

Even NPR broadcasters have fallen victim to vocal fry. Recently, they reported that they have received a fair amount of hate mail about the young women on their staff using vocal fry. Ira Glass investigates: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS

Don't Use Uptalk

Uptalk is another vocal phenomenon that robs the speaker of his power. What is uptalk? It's when the speaker uses a rising inflection at the end of their sentence so it sounds like a question. Watch my video to hear it and to learn why it's spreading.

Women Need To Speak Up

World Voice Day is a perfect time to revisit the importance of women speaking up so they are heard. Some women speak in a breathy voice, and are too soft spoken. Uptalk and vocal fry get in the way of effective self expression.

Are you guilty of hindering your own communication? Ask a buddy to listen to you speak. Are you using uptalk, vocal fry, or a breathy, soft voice? Have your friend tell you when you do it so you can learn to stop it. Just make sure it's someone who will be honest with you!


Here's Johnny... How to Introduce a Public Speaker

Curtain and MicYour biggest worry isn't your presentation or your entrance. Your worst nightmare is the person who is introducing you. When the Johnny Carson show was on the air, Carson had a sidekick named Ed McMahon. His job was to introduce Johnny Carson at the beginning of the show. McMahon would say in a melodious tone, "Heeeere's Johnny!" It became his signature line as the audience would eagerly await to hear it in every show. They made a good team. But what about your team? Who is introducing you?

If you're giving a presentation, it's normal to have a few butterflies in your stomach. Most public speakers research, prepare, and practice their presentation. Some public speakers hire a coach. Yet, they give little thought about who is introducing them. This is the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about.

I once had a woman introduce me who sounded like she was reading a newspaper. She was so dispassionate that you could feel the energy leave the room. It made my job harder to get some excitement going.

The speaker introduction is your warm up act. Entertainers understand this. A rock star always has a warm-up band. Comedians know the power of a good emcee. The job of the introducer is to excite and engage the crowd so they'll be ready for the main act. YOU are the main act and that means you need to take charge on two levels.

First, choose your introducer carefully. It must be somebody who has good platform skills and enjoys speaking. Second, you need to write your own introduction. Most presenters send their biography to the introducer. A biography is not an introduction. Listening to a resume is boring! So here is a formula you can use to create your speaker introduction. The formula is T.E.P.S.

Topic - Begin by announcing the topic. This answers the question, "Why are we here?" or "Am I in the right meeting?" The topic creates focus. You can begin by asking 3 questions, or lead in with a thought-provoking statistic.

Expertise - Then launch into the speaker's credentials but don't list every research paper or degree. Present the top achievements that have the most relevance to the audience and that establish the public speaker's credibility. It answers the question, "How have you earned the right to be here?"

Personal - Here is where you bring in something about the person that humanizes them. It answers the question, "Do I like the speaker?" or "Who are you as a person?" This is an opportunity to add some humor or a quick anecdote. Be sure to get permission before you share anything personal.

Speaker's name - Always end with the speaker's name. "Please help me welcome, John Doe..." People remember the last thing they hear.

Public speaking is not rocket science but it does require planning and skill. The next time you give a presentation, choose your introducer, write your own introduction, and coach them on how you want that introduction delivered. Now you're ready to take center stage and give a knockout presentation.

Do you have a great speaker introduction you'd like to share?


Public Speaking: Does Sizzle Matter More Than The Steak?


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

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

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