Posts by: admin

Scientific Presentations: Hitting the Audience in the Heart

By on June 30, 2008

Here’s the scenario. A bio-tech company will fly to Paris to convince influential French physicians to use their compound-in-development in clinical trials. The company has invited the French doctors to a nice meeting room in a nice hotel and plans to tell the doctors all about the compound. When asked, “What is the purpose of […]

Pascal’s Wager and Public Speaking

By on June 27, 2008

Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French mathematical genius who spelled out the laws of probability more clearly than anyone before him.  This was a watershed moment, because for the first time humanity had a systematic way of thinking about the future. Pascal was both a gambler and a religious zealot.  He wanted to know […]

Pascal’s Wager and Public Speaking

By on June 27, 2008

Blaise Pascal was a 17th century French mathematical genius who spelled out the laws of probability more clearly than anyone before him.  This was a watershed moment, because for the first time humanity had a systematic way of thinking about the future. Pascal was both a gambler and a religious zealot.  He wanted to know […]

Public Speaking and the Importance of Character: A Life’s Lesson

By on June 25, 2008

On June 20th in the Wall Street Journal, in response to the media coverage of Tim Russert’s untimely death, Peggy Noonan wrote in her Declarations column, “When somebody dies we tell his story and try to define and isolate what was special about it–what it was he brought to the party, how he enhanced life […]

Presentation Training: FUD, GOG, Ethics and Rhetoric

By on June 22, 2008

Ford Harding has lifted his pen to engage with me on a subject of profound importance to sales professionals, leaders, and anyone who seeks to influence others. That subject is the emotional sea on which all decisions float. FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) is one current in that sea. It drives most of us away […]

FUD in Public Speaking and Persuasion

By on June 17, 2008

FUD is Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  I first heard the term when consulting at Gartner.  I was working with the analysts in preparing for a Gartner Symposium, and several of them used FUD at the start of their talks to engage the listeners on an emotional level. For instance, they might have said, “While e-mail […]

Public Speaking: Talent or Skill?

By on June 13, 2008

Public speaking is a talent before it becomes a skill. A talent is a latent ability, something that is dormant inside you. When you work at it, it becomes a skill. If you do have a potential talent for speaking and you work at it, you are likely to receive encouragement and recognition for your […]

Public Speaking Skills: After Dinner Speaking

By on June 6, 2008

I just finished working with a client who had to prepare and deliver an after dinner talk to clients in a museum. Her firm planned to take the clients on a private tour of the museum, feed them dinner, and then she was to stand up and offer them a short talk on investment opportunities […]

Fear and Loathing of Public Speaking

By on May 28, 2008

No one likes to be pulled from a warm bed and thrust into a cold shower.  And many people I’ve met feel the same about being plucked from the blanket of everyday life to stand alone on a stage with a thousand pairs of eyes on them.   And so, when they find themselves on stage, […]

Communication Skills Training: How to Give Good Webinars

By on May 23, 2008

Webinars seem to be a promising, cost-effective way of building relationships with prospects, but they’re hard to do well. As a medium for communicating with groups, they have their own quirks and require a lot of preparation. Here are a few rules of thumb. First, define your desired outcomes in terms of what the audience […]

Public Speaking Training: The Dreaded just-after-lunch Slot on the Program

By on May 22, 2008

Effective speaking has many enemies. A partial list would include a speaker’s lack of experience, stage fright, lack of training, no clear point, too much information, and finally, no clear flow, or structure. We could go on. But the items on the list are only those enemies that hide within the speaker himself. What about […]

Presentation Tips: Blinded by the Light

By on May 21, 2008

What should you do when the lights are so bright that you can’t see your audience? 1. Make sure you know where the audience is and look in that general direction with focus and confidence. The audience won’t know that you can’t see them. In other words, press on. (This seems obvious but see story […]

Facilitation Skills: Making the Most of Your Role as a Panel Moderator

By on May 16, 2008

You’ve been invited to moderate a panel.  The question is: How can you do it really well so that the meeting is rated highly, you look good, and your chances of being invited back are good? First, you should look at the job of moderator as a great chance to create a host of positive impressions.  It’s […]

Business Communication: Sharing the Podium

By on May 9, 2008

Dividing the Dais Sharing a podium is a frequent method for by-passing yet another dry presentation and (we hope) generating heat and light between two or more people seated on stage engaging in friendly verbal exchanges. In my experience, each speaker prepares and delivers a short talk (less than 10 minutes) on the topic being considered, takes a few […]

Public Speaking Tips: A Really Useful Speaker Evaluation Form

By on May 5, 2008

I recently sat down to interview myself on the subject of speaker evaluation forms. Here’s the transcript of the interview. What’s the use of a speaker evaluation form? First of all, I prefer the term assessment to evaluation. It sounds to me less clinical–less distant. Sorry. What’s the purpose of a speaker assessment form? To […]

Presentation Tips: Listener-centric Messaging

By on April 10, 2008

I just returned from an engagement during which I was asked to give partners in a professional service firm 10 minutes to pitch the firm to a brand new prospect, played by another partner sitting across the table. Most partner/presenters were tentative at the start. They began by asking the prospects what they wanted to […]

Speaking Anxiety: Stage Fright

By on April 5, 2008

In the Jobs section of the New York Times, on Sunday March 30th, Phyllis Korkki has written an article entitled The Adroit Speaker Doesn’t Wing It. That’s true and not true. I believe wholeheartedly in preparing, rehearsing, getting feedback, even scripting a speech or presentation. But then, once I have internalized the content, I boil […]

Effective Presentation Skills: Hang ‘Em in the Bat Cave

By on April 3, 2008

“What do I do with my hands?” is one of the most frequent questions I get from people striving to improve their public speaking skills. The answer is more complicated than you’d think. First of all, why is it important? It’s important because your hands speak quite loudly to the emotional radar of the audience. […]

Communication Skills: Why Mr. Smarty Pants Has His Knickers in a Twist

By on March 31, 2008

What makes smart people dumb? Elizabeth Newton, a psychologist, conducted an experiment on the curse of knowledge while working on her doctorate at Stanford in 1990. She gave one set of people, called “tappers,” a list of commonly known songs from which to choose. Their task was to rap their knuckles on a tabletop to […]

Communication Training: The Show in Business

By on March 27, 2008

I once had a colleague who said that everyone is in two businesses: their own, and show biz. He didn’t go far enough. Every business is show business. Business would be impossible without acting skills. Theater artists have the talent to believe in the imaginary circumstances of the script and act so as to induce […]

Public Speaking: Split Shot Audience

By on March 16, 2008

Like that moment in bowling, when your ball leaves two pins standing far apart, there are times when your audience is divided into two camps. One half is knowledgeable about your area of expertise, while the other half is green.  Or, one half is interested in the science, while the other half is preoccupied with […]

Business Presentations: Hedge Fund Capital Intro

By on March 2, 2008

Derrick called and spoke a mile a minute. His boss, the founder of a new hedge fund and the primary money runner had to speak at a capital intro in a week. Could I come and help? I asked if the boss knew what he wanted to say, and Derrick said yes, but the talk […]

Interpersonal Skills: the Placebo Effect

By on February 16, 2008

We often think that the placebo effect comes from the belief that a sugar pill is actual medicine, which leads us to the conclusion that if we believe something is good for us, we get a positive physiological response. I read of a double-blind study of hotel chambermaids in Paris who were trying to lose […]

Pharmaceutical Presentations: Pharma on Trial

By on February 16, 2008

Despite the extraordinary contributions the pharmaceutical industry has made to the quality and longevity of human life, it stands charged in the court of public opinion on a multiple-count indictment. Below, I have listed what I believe are the sentiments, concerns, and judgments of the average well-informed person who is concerned about the state of […]

Public Speaking Skills: Hillary vs. Obama

By on February 4, 2008

During the Clinton/Obama debate from California, Barack Obama seemed to get off to a good start, making his point (“I am the future, she is the past.”) at the end of his opening remarks. As I listened, I was made aware of the power of going first. I thought that Hillary Clinton would be at […]

Business Communication: How Pharma Can Build Trust

By on January 28, 2008

A few years ago, I had a procedure done in a doctor’s office in which a small camera at the end of a tube was inserted into my body for the purpose of observing the inside of my bladder (you can imagine through which aperture.)  I have never been so terrified in my life.  I […]

Pharmaceutical Presentations: What Pharma Must Do to Regain Trust

By on January 28, 2008

Charlie Green and I have been talking about how the good that pharma does gets undermined by certain of its marketing practices. Here’s a blog posting from Charlie’s website, that should help us with our navel gazing. —– Pharma has been taking it on the chin for some time now. It’s been targeted by […]

Presentation Training: A Play on Words

By on January 11, 2008

Let’s take the word presenting. Let’s play with it. Could it mean bringing ideas, and information into the present? For instance, could we say that the job of a candidate for office is to make real the information about her past (her track record, how we got in this pickle), make palpable the dangers from […]

Interpersonal Skills: A Happy Warrior Teaches the Art of Influence

By on January 11, 2008

Michael Jendrzejczyk died at the age of 53. His obituary in the New York Times reveals a remarkable man: empathetic, principled, and, most instructive for those of us seeking to become more skillful influencers, a very effective advocate for what he believed in. His cause was human rights in Asia. What set him apart from […]

Speaking Anxiety: The Mind/Body Toggle

By on January 2, 2008

Recently, a client of mine, who is also a childhood friend, left me a voice mail saying that he did not think my short article on the power of gesture to create emotion was appropriate for the market I serve. Essentially, the short piece tried to make the point that speakers can alter their inner […]

Persuasive Speaking: Language and Experience

By on January 2, 2008

In a political revolution, insurgents quickly target the media outlets. Their reasoning? He who controls the language controls the thinking. Now comes another study to suggest that insurgents may have it right. In this experiment, one group of volunteers was shown a shade of yellow on a strip of white paper for a few seconds. […]

Sales Presentations: The Biggest Mistake

By on December 29, 2007

Let’s call her Sheila.  Like many in the financial services industry, she sells with the aid of a pitch book, printed in landscape format and containing information about the history of her firm, her team of colleagues, their range of services, the historical performance of their funds, and their fees. It’s a handsome piece, with […]

Presentation Tips: Lectern vs. Podium

By on December 9, 2007

What I have to say about lecterns and podiums is academic, but nevertheless worth mentioning. A podium is a raised platform on which a speaker (or an athlete) stands (look left.)  A lectern is the upright object on which he or she places her papers (look right.) I know this because my schoolboy Latin tells me […]

Public Speaking Skills: Mind Maps of Gesture

By on December 9, 2007

Science, like the rest of us, advances through trial and error, better known as dumb luck. One summer day in 1991, neuroscientists in a lab at Parma University wired up a monkey’s brain for a simple experiment. They wanted to see which neruons fired during the series of movements involved in the everyday act of […]

Speaking Anxiety: Teaching the Shy to Present

By on November 24, 2007

I have a new puppy named Little Bear.  He has shy moments that make my wife and I want to pick him up and cuddle him.  I also have clients who are shy when they stand up to speak.  I don’t want to cuddle them, but I often feel drawn to what they’re saying because of their authenticity […]

Communication Skills: E-mail vs. Presentations

By on November 20, 2007

About two years ago, I attended a free webinar on marketing and liked what the presenter had to say.  I also liked his voice.  So I called him and chatted about my marketing issues, and eventually I hired him. He lives in New Hampshire; I live in New Jersey.  We worked by phone, Go-To-Meeting, and […]

Sales Training: The Five Don’ts of Sales Presenting

By on October 1, 2007

When transforming your house into a dream home, talk to three architects. When getting heart surgery to transform the quality of your life, talk to three surgeons. And to transform your sales presentations, talk to three consultants. I have three people in mind. The first is Ford Harding, a sales consultant to professional service firms […]

Effective Presentation Skills: Substance with Style

By on October 1, 2007

Cicero, the great Roman statesman and orator, said that he preferred tongue-tied intelligence to ignorant loquacity. That’s a convenient polarity, and one we’re familiar with. We see the former occasionally when college professors make an appearance on national TV. They can look like owls with ruffled feathers blinking in the glare of daylight. We see […]

A Recipe for Sales Presentations

By on September 20, 2007

Michael Blechar is a smart and thoughtful guy (and a very good writer.)  Years ago he told me about a good way to organize a sales presentation. Recently, we were swapping emails about one of my Presentation Pointers (the one called the Power of Words), when I remembered to ask him about his approach.  He […]

Presentation Skills: Doing it in the road

By on September 14, 2007

I believe one of the best models for presenting skills is the act of giving directions to someone who has stopped her car, leaned out the window, and said, “How do I get to Bloomfield Avenue?” If you’re standing in front of your house, and you know how to get to the desired location (your own version of Bloomfield Avenue) you immediately […]

Speaking Anxiety: A Loss of Confidence

By on September 10, 2007

A friend of mine, who is a very successful consultant, told me that she has lost her confidence as a speaker. For twenty years she has been speaking to large groups of clients and potential clients with success.  Now she feels very unsure of herself. She reports to me that she’s terrified of going blank.  While she used to […]

Speech Training: Speech Disfluencies

By on August 30, 2007

Um and His Cousin Er I hate speech coaches who don’t let you say “Um!”  I listen to a lot of speakers, and a few “Uhms” don’t bother me.  They make the speaker seem normal and conversational. On the other hand,  I try not to say them myself, and I DO get annoyed when the […]

Effective Speaking: Keeping Attention

By on August 27, 2007

Back in the days before Gutenberg, it took months or years for a few dedicated scribes to create a single copy of a single book.  A literate medieval person, provided he or she was not interrupted by the Inquistion or bubonic plague, could probably read the book as fast as your typical modern high school […]

Speaking Anxiety: Gestures Help you Think

By on August 23, 2007

Trying to master a mental task? Acting it out can help.  In a study reported in Cognition, when kids were told to use gestures as they learned to do a type of math problem, the lesson stuck.  Embodiment gives you–literally–another way to grasp an idea. Actors use gesture in a similar way–to grasp the feeling […]

Voice Projection: The Power of Voice Tone

By on August 18, 2007

Many of us are familiar with the work of Dr. Albert Mehrabian of Stanford University, who demonstrated in his research that 85% of emotion is communicated through voice tone and body language. Many of us have read Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, who reported the work of Nalini Ambady of Tufts University, who discovered that some doctors who make […]

Sign up for our Newsletter