Posts Tagged ‘public speaking blog’

Public Speaking: Fact or Myth?

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

1. Eye contact should last about 3 seconds before moving on to next person.

Myth. Many courses on public speaking teach this technique. The problem is that it makes you look superficial. Instead, vary the duration of eye contact with each individual. Sometimes you will make a point to an individual that might last eight seconds. Just be sure to avoid the “stalker stare”.

2. Keep a formal demeanor when presenting.

Myth. I’m not saying be unprofessional, but most speakers appear as if they are giving a eulogy, which is bad . . . unless they really are. Your audience wants to see some personality; so don’t be afraid to be yourself.

3. It is imperative to stay within your allocated time.

Fact. This is probably “more true” than most speakers realize. There are few things that will make your audience resent you more than going past your time. Conversely finishing a bit early will earn you a great deal of appreciation.

4. Speak from the lectern/podium.

Myth. The lectern is a barrier between you and your audience. Perhaps this is comforting to you, but it doesn’t work for your audience. Get out from behind the lectern and you will outshine the other speakers by connecting directly with your audience.

5. Avoid fillers, “ums” and “ahs”.

Myth. Most speaking courses tell you to watch out for those filler words. Some even have the audience count them as you speak. This is counterproductive. The worst thing to tell someone to do before they present is to avoid saying “um”. The fact is that they will say it much more when they make an effort to avoid it. It’s like telling someone, “hey don’t think of a monkey”.

6. Dress at least as formal as your audience.

Fact. While many presenters are overly formal in speech, they sometimes underdress, which can be misconstrued as lack of respect by their audience. Always ask the organizer upfront how people will be dressed.

7. It’s okay to read from your slides because everyone does it.

Myth. Well, yes, almost everyone reads from their slides, but that doesn’t mean that your audience doesn’t greatly dislike it. It’s okay if the slide guides you, for example a ONE WORD bullet point to get you in the right direction is ok. Avoid long phrases and sentences.

8. If you’d liked this blog, you can help me by hitting one the buttons below to share.

Fact.  I would be much obliged.

Take a look at our upcoming full-day public speaking training in Worcester, Mass.

Download Power of Persuasion Notes Here.

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What is Your Public Speaking Personality?

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Here is something fun that will tell you what your public speaking personality is. After years of teaching public speaking, we’ve compiled ten simple questions that will help you understand what kind of speaker you are and where you can improve.

Check out our upcoming intensive full-day public speaking seminar.

POWER OF PERSUASION NOTES: Download HERE

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Public Speaking: Veiling the Nerves 101

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Avoid looking nervous when you speak.

Many of my clients confide in me that they get nervous when giving a presentation or speaking in a group. It is interesting that these are highly confident people, who know their material. My experience is that it is simply in our DNA to feel nerves when presenting before our peers. If you are like most of us, you will benefit from these tips on veiling the nerves.

1. Slow your movement. As a general rule, confident people move and talk more slowly.

2. Never apologize or mention your nerves. It makes others feel awkward.

3. Steeple the fingers. Your hands speak volumes about you. The most confident hand position is where you steeple the fingers. Research shows this also conveys an aura of intelligence.

4. Notice the eye color of each person you are talking to you. This ensures keen eye contact and conveys confidence.

5. Especially when seated, take up more space with your body. Stretch out and lean back a bit. Just don’t overdo this, lest you appear arrogant.

Want more tips on being confident? Enroll today in one of our full day intensive public speaking seminars here.

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Power of Persuasion: I’m a fraud

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I am a fraud, a fake, a charlatan.

How do you know when someone is lying to you?  They don’t just admit it.

I’ve been experimenting with that very question.  Most of my readers know me as a professional development trainer, but I am also an expert sleight-of-mind magician.  In professional performances I have a unique opportunity to test principles of body language and persuasion.  My latest experiment delves into the art of deception.

A member of the audience is asked to select a card at random.  She is then asked to repeat the card in her mind ten times.  Finally, she is asked to make a secret choice of being a liar or a truth teller.  My job is to ask questions and study her as she answers.  I must then determine her veracity.

Results: Liars unknowingly give off common signals

What are these common signals?

Some of the conventional wisdom was proven wrong.   Those of us who study body language have read that liars often look away, stutter, and pause to calculate a false answer.  Sometimes this can be true, but here is what I’ve found.

Male Liars:

  • Make far more direct eye contact than when they are not lying; thus overcompensating.
  • Answer faster and shorter.
  • Blink less than when they are telling the truth.
  • Make almost no facial expressions as compared to moderate facial expressions when they are telling the truth.

Female Liars:

  • Smile more and become overly expressive.  This can include a laugh or giggle for no reason.
  • Take a longer time to answer.
  • Shift eyes far more as they search for their answers.
  • While they make less eye contact than usual, when they do so, they tend to raise one eyebrow.

When I started my experiment in September 2010.  I was correctly “guessing” whether they were lying in 60% of cases.  After dissecting the differences between men and women, my success ratio is now at 90%.  It is not pure science, and some people pause or laugh because they are nervous. It helps to ask five questions that I know are true to use as a baseline to see how quickly they answer and how expressive they are.

Application:

The ability to persuade others is imperative if we wish to advance our personal agendas, careers and businesses.  It is a fact that when people internally disagree with what you are proposing, they will sugar coat and even lie to avoid what they perceive as unpalatable disagreement.  Once you learn to read others, you can understand when they are not sold, even if their words say that they are.  And this ability will prove priceless.

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Higher Testosterone = More Success?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Body language affects your testosterone, testosterone affects your…success?

Irrespective on gender, more successful people have higher testosterone levels. 

It’s a fact that your body language has a direct effect on how others perceive you.  For years studies have shown that by adjusting your body position, you can not only look but also feel more confident.  The latest research, summarized in Time Magazine, now shows that you can double your testosterone levels by simply improving your body positioning from low-power to high-power.  That’s amazing!

Simply watch how people subconsciously use their body position when they are comfortable and when they are uncomfortable.  You’ll notice that confident people assume high power positions that take up more space, which makes them look and feel more confident.  Those who are timid and nervous tend to assume low-power positions, which make them look and feel weak.

I have my feet on the desk and I’m leaning back as I write this blog.  I’m going to sit like this every day this week.  Let’s see how my biceps respond!

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Power of Persuasion: Look Younger by Moving

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Look Younger by Moving

Standing in church I look over at my 4 year-old boy to see his body in continual motion.  His head turns left, then right and then he looks at the ceiling.  He puts his hand on his head, he leans back then forward.  Maybe I should have been listening to the sermon, but I couldn’t help to start counting how many seconds before Nicky moves again.  I couldn’t get past two.  Then I look at my eight-year old.  He moves around, but not quite as much.  I could count to ten before his head turns and his body shifted then five seconds later he puts his hands on the pew in front of him.  I started looking at other people.  Right in front of me was a man and his wife, both around seventy years old.  One of them moved only once in the first ninety seconds.  The rest of that time they appeared frozen in place. 

This got me thinking.  Is there a correlation between movement and age, and if so could a person use movement to appear more youthful?

For the following two months, we observed over 300 people in public places in the following age categories: kids, teens, twenties, forties, and sixties.  A head-turn, look at a watch, posture change, gesture, etc. qualified as making a move.  I only analyzed people in listening situations or alone, because when people talk they are far more animated.  Here are the results measured in moves per minute (MPM):

The older people grow, the less they move and shift.  Morbid as it appears, it is a natural progression towards death.  How does movement affect how others perceive you?

Likability is one of the six pillars of persuasion.  When studying the most likable people, one common denominator is that they nod and make facial expressions as they react to other people talking to them.  An observation made in this study showed that the older people grow, the less they externally react to others.  This may have a negative impact on how they connect.  Dale Carnegie said it best, “Be interesting by being interested”.

What about appearing younger?  After analyzing the chart above, we decided to test whether movement makes people appear younger. We asked people to watch a twenty-five-year-old woman for a minute and then guess her age.  In some circumstances she would move only once during the minute; in others, she would move ten times.  Here are the results:

1   MPM:         average perceived age: 22 years old

10 MPM:         average perceived age: 19.5 years old

Next we tried the experiment with me (age 43).  Here are the results based on 48 respondents:

1 MPM:           average perceived age: 40.7 years old

10 MPM:         average perceived age: 38.4 years old

You look younger when you move.  Movement requires energy and energy is associated with youth.  Lethargy is associated with age and decline.

The point of this blog is to remind us of how loudly our body language speaks to others.  Chances are if you allow yourself to be more animated you will be perceived as more likeable and a bit younger.  And, if it works for you, you can thank Jake and Nicky for their bouncy behavior in Church.

If you liked this, please comment here and share it by clicking below.

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Public Speaking: A Day To Remember

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Here is an email I received from Jason Kallio, founder of ExpoVantage about the rewards of presenting.  Enjoy.

         “We focus on structuring our content with our teacher hat on so that we’re not misunderstood.  This eliminates noise which is confusion.  Then we deliver our content with passion, humanity and intent.  This is how we connect with our audience.
 
I did a high energy, fast paced seminar yesterday on 60 trade show tips in 60 minutes. One guy said that after 25 years in the business his experience backed up everything that I said, and he learned a few new things, too.  Content strong.  Facts are facts. Nothing too controversial about the topic.
 
One woman had been at another one of my presentations.  She implemented the tips that I had given.  Before we started, she experessed her excitement that I was the presenter.  She expressed her trust in my content, my energy and that it would be fun.  During my presentation I got her to back me up on the effectiveness of a tip about wearing two pair of socks & changing your shoes as ways to make it more comfortable throughout the day.  I would not have had this information had I not interacted before the presentation.  Had this information not been used, it would have been a lost opportunity to strengthen the delivery.  Humanity and improv make a difference.
 
To top it all off, a man took the time to come back in the room to complement me on my presentation skills.  He is in Toastmasters.  He had a standard that he was now comparing me.  He is a banker and presents often.  He does not feel present when he delivers his content.  I asked if he knew his material.  He was very confident.  After lengthy discussion, I suggested going to improv class.  This will open his mind to be in the moment.  He expressed that this would be out there for him.  He said his wife was going to laugh, but he was going to do it, and promised to report back.  He then said, “You made a difference in my life.”
 
We can choose to present or be an artist when we present.  If you are an artist, you have the intent to connect with your audience.  Connection is the greatest gift that we can receive.  (Realistic note:  The connection keeps getting you paid, and the joy you receive means you won’t feel like you work for a living.)
 
Art and Intent intact, it’s still likely that I was misunderstood at that seminar by someone.  You just cannot please everyone all the time.  However, in my book, this is a day to remember.  Living Life.”

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Public Speaking: Offensive = Memorable

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Are you offensive enough?

My close friend runs professional development seminars on a wide range of skills people need to grow their businesses. She shared an enlightening account with me: The presenter she had booked was borderline offensive. Her language was edgy and she really put audience members on the spot. A day after the seminar, my friend received two emails from attendees. One lamenting that the presenter had been offensive and the other thanking my friend because he thought the presenter was great and hired her to consult.

This immediately reminded me of a book I had read on presenting magic. The author argued that if you don’t offend a small percentage of your audiences you are losing an opportunity to be memorable and create an “after-buzz” about your presentation. He warned against offending a large part of your audience. I remember thinking that was ridiculous, but experience shows that some people who know how to walk that line can gain an edge.

Is “offensive” really the right word? We are not talking about assailing religious convictions or being a racist. But what about a marketing presenter telling someone that his elevator pitch is weak and asking the rest of the class, “who would want to buy that product?” I remember while getting my MBA, in strategic marketing one of my classmates confided in me that she was offended that after offering a lengthy comment on our case study, the professor tersely replied, “so what?” It seems that what one person construes as offensive is just another person’s idea of being direct and not sugar coating.

Think about your networking circle. I bet you can name a few people who successfully perform that delicate dance on the edge. Some people call them offensive and others think they have a confident edge. These people tend to have a loyal group of followers, but have also alienated a small group. We would probably all agree that they are memorable.

Also, walking that line may make sense for a marketing consultant or prosecuting attorney, but not so much for an undertaker or family counselor.

What do you think? Is there any advantage to being “offensive”? I ‘d love to hear from people who have that reputation as well as from those who have observed that behavior in others. Click here to chime in.

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Public Speaking: The Results Are In

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

You have voted and the results are in:

 Q: Does a more animated speaker seem any less credible to you? 

 Results: While the poll is still live, at the time of this writing 97% of voters agreed that speaking with enthusiasm does not make you appear any less credible than a subdued and “serious” speaker.

If this is so, then why do so many presenters project an overly serious and subdued persona?  The reason is that any small gestures or expressions feel bigger than they are to the presenter and appears smaller than they are to the audience.

Consider a natural one-on-one friendly conversation.  Because the speaker is relaxed she will use gestures and expressions appropriately and her enthusiasm will show.  But, when she is presenting to a group those gestures and expressions need to be amplified to project  further and broader.  As she feels pressure, however, she becomes nervous and is inclined to do just the opposite.  She dulls the shine and decreases intensity.  The audience simply accepts this as another boring presentation to be endured.

The only way to overcome this challenge as a presenter is to be aware of it.  Know that your audience wants to see enthusiasm, gestures and expressions.  Our poll shows that your audience will not perceive you as goofy and less professional.  On the contrary, you will be appreciated and admired.

Next time you present, understand that if you feel like you are over gesturing and expressing, you are probably doing it just right.

Here you can read 8 great tips on gestures.

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Public Speaking: Enthusiasm or tone it down?

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

What do YOU think?

While coaching a top executive on presentation skills, I commented that the enthusiasm he exhibits in one-to-one conversations was not being conveyed in his presentations to the group.  His response: “as a company leader, I need to be taken seriously; so I tend to tone it down when speaking to my group.”

Of course, if a presenter is delivering bad news, such as layoffs, a subdued style is appropriate.  In general, however, is the assumption that when one speaks with enthusiasm he or she appears less serious or businesslike?  Does a more animated speaker seem any less credible to you?  Take our poll and leave a comment below:


After weighing in, then check out this related blog entry on the cartoon factor.

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