Infographic: The Do’s and Don’ts of Presenting

The good people at Walkerstone in the UK (a team of professional trainers who are also business writers and marketers) have produced a great infographic, with an informative preamble, on the Do’s and Don’ts of Presenting. This content appears with their express permission.

The Do’s And Don’ts of Presenting

There are two elements to making a great presentation: the first is what you say, the second is how you say it. If you have great content, your presentation has an excellent basis for success. As a presenter, it will give you confidence.

Your first few words are the most important. They need to be the most interesting, exciting and dramatic that you could possibly conjure up about your topic at that very moment. They set the scene for your presentation.

Words really do matter. According to a Microsoft study, the average attention span for human beings was eight seconds in 2016. It was twelve seconds in 2000. That means that what you say and how you say it, has a greater importance today than it had yesterday. Words mean the difference between success and failure – between winning and losing.

The words you choose must have energy to stimulate and inspire your audience into listening – into wanting more. Each sentence needs to sell the next sentence, and so on until the end. Ensure you deliver a strong finish.

Use concrete words and phrases. Generalities are sleep inducing. Facts and figures coupled to interesting narrative, stimulate attention. Content is always king. Great content which is logical, reasoned and well-structured, means that you will communicate with impact.

Channel your nerves. Take into consideration all three elements of physical communication – words, tone of voice and body language. All three elements must be in harmony with each other for effective communication.

For example, if you merely say that you are enthusiastic, but your tone of voice and body language says the opposite, your audience will give little credence to the words you use. Words need good support for great effect.

With that in mind, take a look at some of the Do’s and Don’ts infographic created by Walkerstone.com. It includes some facts and figures around getting your message across and keeping the attention of your audience. It includes some useful considerations to remember for your presentation.

Use it as a preparation checklist for your presentation. It will help you feel more confident, prepared, and able to deliver your message well.

Click to enlarge..

Presentation Infographic

Toastmaster transformations

TransformerA recent This American Life podcast broadcast a piece I’d missed when it first went out a year ago. It’s the remarkable story of how Ricard Pierce, a prison inmate, transformed his terminal shyness by enrolling in Toastmasters (yes, they have chapters that meet behind bars).

He tells how he gave his ‘Icebreaker’ and ‘Get to the Point’ manual speeches in front of other inmates, and realized that his own self-evaluation was much harsher than how members of the audience perceived him.

After the speech, Rich was really hard on himself. In his self-evaluation, he wrote down three words– “Horrible, needs practice.” But his peers were more forgiving. “Excellent job,” they wrote. “Great progress, very good eye contact, very welcoming.” They called him “Winning and funny.” One inmate said they should have storytelling every Saturday night on the cell block with Mr. Pierce. Another told Rich he had nothing to fear. He was just as good as anyone else. Rich had been nervous, trembling even. And no one noticed.

Listen to ‘Act 3’ of the episode that starts 31:30 into the program.

I’ve seen this so many times. Speakers who are nervous, panic-stricken even, think everyone picked up on how they feel. This is usually not the case.

The best advice is to forget your own feelings, fake it till you make it, and listen to what other people tell you for a true appreciation of how you were seen. Formal evaluations are one of the hidden benefits of Toastmasters, as Rich discovered.

Guest Posting: How to Write and Deliver a Great Speech, by Simon Lancaster

Simon LancasterSimon Lancaster is one of the world’s top speechwriters. He first became a speechwriter in the late 1990s, working for members of Tony Blair’s Cabinet. Today, he writes speeches for the CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the world, including Unilever, HSBC and Intercontinental Hotels. Simon is a visiting lecturer at Cambridge University and an Executive Fellow of Henley Business School. He regularly appears on BBC and Sky News and writes guest columns for The Guardian, The Daily Mail and Total Politics. He is the author of two best-selling books on communication: Speechwriting: The Expert Guide and Winning Minds: Secrets from the Language of Leadership. You can follow him on Twitter @bespokespeeches

How to Write and Deliver a Great Speech

Emmeline Pankhurst’s speeches led to women winning the vote. Winston Churchill’s speeches inspired a nation to stay strong at a time of war. Dr Martin Luther King’s speeches persuaded the American Government to grant everyone equal rights, regardless of the colour of their skin.

Speeches change the world. Throughout history, whoever has held the gift of eloquence has held power: from the Roman Emperors to the kings and queens to politicians.

In the past, we all used to learn public speaking at school. In Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, rhetoric was a core part of the curriculum. In London, right up until the 19th Century, it was possible to gain a free education in rhetoric but not in maths, such was the importance that was placed on the topic. The thinking was clear: you could not have a fair society unless everyone had a fair opportunity to express themselves.

Today, teaching of rhetoric is restricted to a narrow elite. It is no coincidence that 19 of Britain’s last 50 Prime Ministers went to Eton. Eton has always invested in the teaching of rhetoric. Indeed they have just invested 18 million pounds in a new debating chamber.

Developing tomorrow’s leaders starts in today’s schools. The good news is that all the techniques in great public speaking from Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece remain just as relevant today. Aristotle taught us there are three essential ingredients to a good speech.

Aristotle said a good speech must have:

Character (ethos)
Emotion (pathos)
Argument (logos)

First, the speaker must demonstrate good character (ethos). A speech represents a chance to look into someone’s eyes and see the strength of their conviction. This means that when the person delivering the speech stay true to yourself. It doesn’t matter if they speak too quickly, wave their hands around a lot or um and ah. Great speakers can, and do, get away with all of this. The most important thing is that they believe what they are saying. That is something that just can’t be faked. A speaker must speak from the heart.

The second thing a great speaker does is speak about an issue everyone cares about (pathos). Too many speeches are boring. A speech should be as exciting as a film or a great television programme if it is to hold people’s attention. A great speaker will stir feelings within their audience that even their audience can not wholly explain: feelings of pride, passion or pain. They will tell stories, use emotive points of reference and explain why it is that something matters so much.

The third thing a great speaker must do is sound right (logos). The Ancient Romans used to talk about the rule of three. If you put your argument in threes, people are more likely to believe that it is true. There is something in the human brain that loves arguments that come in threes. ‘This, that and the other.’ ‘On your marks, get set, go!’ ‘Ready, aim, fire!’ Great speakers always use the rule of three – over and over and over again. They also combine it alliteration, rhymes and contrasts. It makes them sound more credible, compelling and convincing.

The world is in a state of flux at the moment. It is scandalous that at a time when such gargantuan issues are being debated – like climate change, security, religious freedoms – debate is being restricted to such a narrow minority.

Instead of teaching our children to sit down and shut up, we should be teaching them to stand up and speak out. Let’s put oracy right at the heart of the curriculum, for today’s children, for tomorrow’s world.

What shall we call this grand initiative? Well, here’s an idea. How about democracy?

Some great speeches to watch and discuss in the classroom:

TEDx talk – Speak like a leader by Simon Lancaster

This post originally appeared in First News Schools UK and is reproduced here with Simon Lancaster’s express permission.

Big speeches of 2016 reviewed

Here’s a concise review of the major speeches of 2016 on both sides of the Atlantic by FT columnist Sam Leith

Guest Posting: What’s Your Rate of Speech? by Kate Peters

Kate Peters is the Founder and President of Vocal Impact, Inc. a network of communication impact professionals dedicated to guiding and inspiring leaders to be real and relevant heroes in their own stories and the stories of their organizations or causes; heroes who transform hearts and minds, and create solutions for a vibrant and peaceful world, every day. Read her full bio here.

Kate PetersLanguages spoken in Southern India are among the world’s fastest languages. In fact the native speakers of one of those languages,Tamil, speak faster with each other than the native speakers of any other language. They also tend to speak English faster than native English speakers. The world record for the fastest talking woman is held by Fran Cohen, a New Yorker, who can talk at about 600 words per minute. Go ahead and listen to her telling the story of The Three Little Pigs, and you may get a feeling for what Tamil native speakers speaking English sound like to other English speakers.

In the US, researchers have found that the rate of speech varies from state to state, with the fastest talkers in the state of Oregon, while the slowest are in Mississippi. The rate of speech in the US is picking up, but it is unlikely ever to be as fast as Tamil.

How fast is fast? Native speakers of English tend to speak from 140-165 words per minute. Auctioneers speak 250 words per minute. As you may have noticed if you have ever been to an auction, native English speakers have a hard time hearing what’s said by an auctioneer, and by anyone when the rate is faster than 180 wpm. However, most 8th graders in the US are now expected to read 150 wpm by the winter of their school year.

If you think you might be vying for Fran’s position or if you are from South India and your communication impact is suffering because you speak fast (and you don’t want to set a record) you can find out how to pace your voice just right by reading my post, Are you talking too fast?

Toastmasters Announces Speakers for 2016 Convention in Washington, D.C.

Toastmasters 2016 ConferenceToastmasters announced an impressive lineup of speakers for its 2016 International Convention, to be held at the Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C., Aug. 17-20. Ten dynamic speakers will share their insights and expertise on a variety of topics. Attendance at this annual event is expected to exceed 2,200 members from around the world.

“We’re pleased to present speakers who will offer their unique perspectives into the importance of leadership and communication and how this relates to achieving personal and professional success,” says Jim Kokocki, Toastmasters 2015-16 International President. “These world class speakers will create an engaging and inspiring experience for our audience.”

Ed TateEd Tate will deliver the keynote presentation during the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday, Aug. 17. Tate is a successful trainer, author and executive known as “the speaker who energizes, educates and entertains.” His Fortune 500 clients include Hallmark Cards, Johnson & Johnson and the Project Management Institute. He understands and has experienced firsthand that strong leadership is critical during times of change and chaos.

Tony BuzanMind Mapping creator and memory expert Tony Buzan is the recipient of Toastmasters’ 2016 Golden Gavel award. The prestigious award is presented annually to an individual distinguished in the fields of communication and leadership. Buzan joins an illustrious list of past Golden Gavel honorees that includes Muhammad Yunus, Walter Cronkite, Anthony Robbins, Zig Ziglar and Robin Sharma.

Other expert presenters:

Anne BarabAnne Barab is a Toastmasters Accredited Speaker and personal excellence expert who helps people learn how positive or negative beliefs affect their personal and professional success. Barab will present I Had a Life Plan but the Magnet Fell off the Fridge, where she will teach attendees three easy steps to retrain their brains to think positively.

Michael NotaroMichael Notaro is a Toastmasters Past International President, as well as an attorney, entrepreneur and educator. He will lead The Benefits of Service Leadership, an interactive panel of Toastmasters Past International Presidents and International Directors who will discuss how international leadership has changed their lives.

Rochelle RiceRochelle Rice is a Toastmasters Accredited Speaker and nationally recognized speaker, author and educator with a passion for empowering lives through movement. A former professional jazz dancer, Rice is the author of Real Fitness for Real Women and Size Sensitivity Training, Programs and Environments. Rice will lead How to Become an Accredited Speaker with co-presenter Sheryl Roush.

Sheryl RoushSheryl Roush is a Toastmasters Accredited Speaker and the CEO of Sparkle Presentations, Inc. She has presented more than 3,500 keynotes and seminars globally. Her book Heart of a Toastmaster, was named Best Anthology by the International Book Awards upon release in 2014. Roush will lead How to Become an Accredited Speaker with co-presenter Rochelle Rice.

kelly swansonKelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, motivational speaker, comedian and author. She will present You. Your Story. Make an Impact. Master the Art of Connection and Engagement through the Power of Story, where she will share her journey and explain how the power of story can help speakers engage with their audience on a deeper level.

Manoj VasudevanManoj Vasudevan is a leadership coach and management consultant with more than two decades of experience working with major multinational companies in Asia, Australia, North America and Europe. He will present Are you ready to lead? Leadership Lessons from the Mousetrap, an education session dedicated to helping attendees develop and enhance their leadership skills.

John ZimmerJohn Zimmer is an international speaker, trainer and lawyer. He has worked at a major Canadian law firm, the United Nations and the World Health Organization, and is now a full-time professional speaker. Zimmer will present Improv(e) your life!, where he will teach attendees about the principles of improv and how to apply them to their daily life.

To learn more about Toastmasters’ 2016 International Convention, Aug. 17-20, and obtain a complete schedule of events, including the Opening Ceremonies, Education Sessions and the Toastmasters World Championship of Public Speaking, visit the event page. The public is welcome to attend.

Improving Communication is Key to Closing Millennials’ Workplace Skills Gap

ToastmastersIt’s universally acknowledged that employers seek applicants with strong speaking and writing abilities. Despite being highly educated and armed with technical skills, many millennials lack the soft skills to compete in the workplace. A survey by the Hay Group revealed that 80 percent of employers are struggling to find graduates with the soft skills they need. Communication is the most in-demand soft skill in most industries, including engineering, finance, healthcare, information technology and sales.

Soft skills are defined by Oxford Dictionaries as personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. In addition to communication, organization, writing, leadership, problem solving and customer service are among the most desired soft skills in nearly every occupation.

“Job seekers with a good mix of both technical and soft skills will have the best prospects right out of college,” says Rosemary Haefner, Chief Human Resources Officer of CareerBuilder.

To help develop soft skills, millennials and all prospective employees are encouraged to focus on ways they can build the skills they lack. An effective method of developing communication and leadership skills is to join Toastmasters International. Toastmasters offers a supportive setting where people can improve these skills through practice and become more confident communicators and stronger leaders.

Corporate Clubs

Nearly half of all Fortune 500 companies offer in-house Toastmasters clubs, including Apple, Bank of America, The Coca-Cola Company, Google and Microsoft. These employers have found the Toastmasters program to be an effective staff development tool that benefits their organization.

Many of these corporate venues welcome visitors from outside the organization, who are not employed there. I was a member of the HP Hilltop Club that used to meet just down the hall from Carly Fiorina’s office in the Hewlett Packard Headquarters building. It was open to anyone who wished to attend. I hasten to add that Carly herself was not a member.

Job Seekers

Millennials looking to advance their career should be aware that visiting a corporate club gives a unique opportunity to network with employees.

“Prospective employees, including millennials, should focus on building the skills that will give them an advantage over other candidates,” says Jim Kokocki Toastmasters 2015-16 International President. “Employers want to hire people who can communicate effectively and work well with others. Toastmasters offers a place to develop and strengthen these skills.”

If your company does not yet have a club, consider starting one. “Forming a corporate Toastmasters club is an effective and inexpensive way to develop, enhance and retain employees,” says Toastmasters Chief Executive Officer Daniel Rex. “We are experiencing record growth as an organization in part because of the large increase in the number of corporate clubs. We expect that trend to continue as the skills we teach are always in demand in the marketplace.”

Finding the Right Club

While they all follow the same structure for meetings, no two Toastmasters Clubs are the same. The members make the club. When looking for a suitable group, it’s a great idea to take the time to visit a number of different clubs. Since there are approximately 30,000 Toastmasters members in the U.S. between the age of 18 and 34 it should be possible to find a club with people of similar interests. The last thing you want is to make your Icebreaker speech on current topics to a room full of retirees.

To find a Toastmasters club near you, visit toastmasters.org/findaclub.

Book Review: Keynote Mastery, by Patrick Schwerdtfeger

Keynote MasteryMy recent review on Amazon of the new book, Keynote Mastery: The Personal Journey of a Professional Speaker was incomplete. I need to explain in more detail the many positive elements of Patrick’s story as well as clarify why I referred to it on Amazon ‘flawed’ and show where other emerging speakers can learn from his mistakes. But make no mistake about it: this is a book every Toastmaster, self-employed professional, freelancer and gig-economy survivor should read. It contains first-hand information you’ll find nowhere else. Go buy it, now!

What I liked about Keynote Mastery

I’ve long been a fan of Patrick’s. We met during the time in 2008/09 that he was speaking for free, and I’ve attended his Meetup groups which are great networking occasions. I’ve also been to Jeff & Kane’s meetings, Stephanie Chandler’s Sacramento Speakers Network and Edith Yeung’s BizTech Day. Heck, I even knew an NSA member who spoke at the same event in Aruba as Patrick. His 2011 guest posting on my blog How to become a Keynote Speaker was an early iteration of the ideas in this book. Back in 2009 I blogged about his Webify Yourself presentation.

So, we swim in the same waters. The major difference between us is that Patrick makes his living as a professional speaker, while I’m at the coal-face in the corporate world. I have the utmost respect Patrick and his achievements.

This book is a treasure-trove of practical tips and tricks that will help anyone who wants to become a professional speaker, or simply a more successful freelancer in any field.

I especially like his worksheets that are referenced in the book and available for free download. For example, here’s eight tips for reducing nervousness found on one worksheet:

  1. Take five deep breaths (by exhaling more than usual).
  2. Give yourself permission to be nervous. Don’t fight it.
  3. Be a compassionate observer of your own emotions.
  4. Start a meditation practice. It will help you remain calm.
  5. Focus on the objective: your message and helping people.
  6. Look good. Wear an outfit that you feel confident in.
  7. Think positive. You’re a rock star. You deserve to be here.
  8. Survey the audience ahead of time. Look at their faces. They’re just people, and they want you to succeed.

This is not just a list he’s plucked out of thin air. Read the book and you’ll see when and where Patrick has employed these practices when suffering from anxiety and panic attacks before speaking (it happens to everyone sooner or later, knowing how a pro like Patrick overcame the issue is a tremendous help).

As I said in the Amazon review, this is an uncompromisingly personal book. Some might not care for the personal information he shares. I think it’s important to read about the challenges he had to overcome in his personal life to succeed. Thanks for being so honest, Patrick.

Other gems in the book include Chapter 55 on Speaking Fees. The reason no-one in the National Speakers Association (NSA) can share this level of detail is that the Association is legally bound not to discuss fees so there isn’t a perception of marketplace collusion. Patrick is not an NSA member–you’ll find details here you’ll find nowhere else.

I also liked his tips on how to structure a speech (Ch 40). His stories about the importance of cross-cultural sensitivity when speaking outside the USA are priceless. He’s also a master of Social Media who made a transition to speaking on other topics. Reading how he stayed ahead of the curve in developing a new niche is one of the best parts of the book.

Where Patrick’s book falls short

It might sound like nit-picking, but someone should have spent a little more time proofreading this book. (Of course, who am I to talk!). In Chapter 55 he references the National Speaker Association. In Ch 56 (at least in the Kindle Edition) there’s two whole paragraphs which are duplicated, first in italics, then in plain text.

National Speakers Association LogoMore importantly, in terms of substantive advice, Ch 59 on the National Speakers Association, needs correcting. He writes that NSA events take place on Saturday mornings and he hates weekend early mornings. Fair enough. But readers should be aware that this true of the Northern California Chapter and many regions meet at other times. The NSA is comprised of a wide range of keynote speakers, platform speakers, workshop and webinar hosts and even a speechwriter or two!

As a long-time NSA member I found myself, time and again, seeing ways in which Patrick could have cut years from his learning curve if he’d have only got out bed early some weekends and attended meetings, or, better yet, enrolled in the annual Speakers Academy (aka Pro-Track). I’ve blogged extensively about mine and others experiences in this year-long speaker training program.

To take a couple of examples of the benefits of the NSA that address challenges Patrick faced. In Ch 22 (Make It Funny!) he writes that he believes he could double or triple his business if he was funnier. Our local NSA chapter has held many workshops on humor. There’s even a group within NSA who focus exclusively on humor.

GSF logoPatrick loves to speak internationally. The Global Speakers Federation (which every NSA member is automatically a member of) shares leads and information with speaking organizations in Canada, South Africa, France, Singapore, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Belgium, Holland, the UK & Ireland. I’ve spoken (for free, like Patrick!) at a PSA event in the UK.

Finally, there are many speakers who make a good living from selling informational products to their audiences. While Patrick has had some success in this area, I can’t help but think that he’s left a lot of money on the table over the years, and could have learned from NSA members who know how to make big bucks while they are sleeping.

In Summary

Unlike Patrick, I’m not a single guy whose been able to live off credit cards and eat chicken thighs and broccoli for dinner night after night while I built my career. I’ve a family to support. Indeed, I’m one of the ‘distraction-free’ people he writes about in Ch 58 who work in tall office buildings in San Francisco. But I’ve been laid off from corporate jobs more than once and survived as a freelancer. In an era when there’s no real job security, the lessons Patrick shares about his decade-long struggle to make a living as a self-employed professional speaker are invaluable.

Meeting Report: Systems for Professional Speakers

Ruby Newell-Legner Colorado-based customer satisfaction expert Ruby Newell-Legner, CSP — the current President of the National Speakers Association — was the featured presenter at Saturday’s NSA Northern California Chapter meeting.

Ruby shared many of the tips and tricks she has learned while building her speaking business in the sports, leisure and entertainment industries.

As an award-winning, customer satisfaction expert who speaks professionally, Ruby is well known for being a “Fan Experience Evangelist.” Whether focusing on internal or external customer service, she works with organizations to build better relationships: from front-line employees to customers, between co-workers and their peers, and from managers to the employees they supervise. Her blue-ribbon client list include 28 professional sports teams. She trained the staff for Super Bowl 41, the 2008 US Open and the 2010 Olympics.

Niche Marketing

Ruby became a celebrity in her niche market and built a thriving business through referrals. The importance of owning a niche is well-known in the speaking business. Ruby highlighted how presenting at industry association meetings enabled her to get in front of the people who could hire her. She expressly believes in ‘paying it forward’ and making sure the meeting planner looks good, no matter what it takes.

In her market, the football teams and stadiums that like her work are happy to refer her to baseball and hockey organizations who in no way compete with them. She adds value to each group by sharing best practices between industries.

Efficient Systems

Ruby has developed systems to improve her efficiency. Working with her virtual assistant she uses a 37-step checklist to coordinate each and every booking. This ranges from checking all the logistics are handled to customizing presentation material and printing two copies of the specific introduction she wants the person introducing her onstage to read: in large font with key points in red.

She has systematized referral gathering by the creative use of evaluation forms. These evaluations go far beyond the standard ‘smile sheets’. The feedback she collects from the audience includes a list of what each person learned from her presentation. She asks audience members to check-mark programs they would like her to present in the future. She asks for testimonial quotes. She adds value by sharing this data from the audience with the meeting planner — showing what parts of the program resonated and what the audience wants her to do at their next meeting. Assumptive marketing at its best! The audience members who check the box to learn more get a follow-up call.

By being herself, developing niche market expertise and delivering value to her clients Ruby has built a great speaking business.

Avoiding Misquotations

Quote YouNothing spices up a speech better than an apt quotation. Someone else’s words help to reinforce your ideas, boost your credibility and demonstrate your learning. However, delivering a misquotation quickly undermines your credibility and can make you appear foolish. We live in a time when the audiences can instantly fact-check a speech on their always-on, internet-enabled mobile devices. So it pays to double-check each quotation. And it’s very easy to misquote famous people. In many cases, well-known quotes were never uttered.

Writing in today’s Financial Times, John Kay lists a series of misquotes that, while common currency, are not accurate. For example:

  • “Play it again, Sam” — was never spoken by Humphrey Bogart’s character, Rick, in Casablanca.
  • “My only regret in life is that I did not drink more champagne” — were not British economist John Maynard Keynes’ dying words (he said this at a Cambridge University event while in rude health).
  • There is no evidence that Oscar Wilde ever said “Youth is wasted on the young.”
  • Winston Churchill never said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Nor did he say “Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

There is, however, a valuable resource at Quote Investigator which examines the validity of famous quotes.

Unfortunately it groups quotes by speaker, not by topic. This means it’s not as useful as sites like Brainyquote and Wikiquote for finding a quote on a specific topic. But it’s well worth checking into the origins of any quotation you do plan to use on Quote Investigator, or just browsing for inspiration.