Benefits of being a good public speaker

By on September 26, 2017

The benefits of being a good public speaker aren’t always obvious. Consider this: When you get an MBA, you have increased your value considerably in the work force. But if you not only get an MBA, but then discipline yourself to become a highly effective communicator–a highly effective speaker–you’re increasing your value probably another 50%. […]

Quote-a-Week on Goals, Success, and Power for 2017

By on December 27, 2016

The end of December is a good time to review what you’ve accomplished and set goals for the coming year. Sometimes, it’s invigorating to think about the 365 days that stretch out before us, and sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about doing it all again. Here are some quotes to inspire you this upcoming new […]

20 Quotes that Make You Realize the World Doesn’t Make Sense

By on November 1, 2016

Want to get your rose-colored glasses blown off your nose? Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics. He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He is the author of Thinking Fast and Slow. Listen to his […]

Political Gesture du Jour

By on August 23, 2016

There was the “Clinton thumb”–which most likely originated with John F. Kennedy. Nixon’s “V for victory” at the helicopter door. Although he used it a few times before 1974. And the “Dole pen”–a prop he carried in his right hand. His arm sustained an injury in WWII. Now, there’s a new political gesture du jour. […]

Vehemence aids eloquence

By on June 28, 2016

Just got back from a trip to the West coast, where I was working with people at the top of the food chain in terms of their cognitive intelligence. Yale, Stanford, Notre Dame–brainiacs. My assignment? Help them get presence! I skirted that word by simply saying that presence is hard to define, but we know […]

Content, Shmontent

By on June 1, 2016

I am tired of expert speakers.  Content, shmontent.  Everyone is expert in something.  I want a wise speaker. For instance, presentations are not about your data.  They’re about what you think about your data. The Caduceus, the symbol of medicine, makes this distinction between knowledge and wisdom.   One day, the God Hermes was striding across the […]

Don’t Boast

By on May 3, 2016

Whenever you give yourself a compliment in front of an audience, you run the risk of being seen in a negative light. For instance, telling stories about how you won a big piece of business by being a super salesman may be instructive for the audience, but it raises the likelihood that you may give […]

10 Things “The Donald” Does Well

By on September 8, 2015

Forget about policy. Forget about the debate on whether or not he’s a narcissist or an egotist or both–a misguided missile with delusional certainty or a potential and dangerous strongman who will clean up the mess and make America great again. Let’s talk about his public speaking. 1. No script. He speaks from the heart. […]

The Best Way to Showcase Your Smarts

By on August 25, 2015

Are you trying to impress a client, get a job, or close a deal? Then skip the emails and pick up the phone or schedule a meeting. New research reported in a recent New York Times article shows that “text-based communications may make individuals sound less intelligent and employable than when the same information is […]

6 Surprising “Don’ts” for Leaders

By on July 27, 2015

Breaking the rules doesn’t always mean that you’re breaking bad. Sometimes it pays to do the opposite and forego common sense. Great leaders don’t always act serious. It’s easier to persuade and influence others if you’re fun to listen to. Great leaders spice up any serious review of the issues with stories of their own experience. […]

What Eliza Doolittle, Margaret Thatcher, and Daisy Buchanan Can Teach You About Voice and Power

By on June 2, 2015

Does your sound determine your success? In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway is impressed when Gatsby nails the mysterious quality in Daisy’s voice: “She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of——” I hesitated. “Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly. That was it. I’d never understood before. It […]

Instant Motivation! Quotes on Goals, Success & Power

By on May 18, 2015

We’re getting close to 2015’s half way point. You’ve got a lot more to accomplish, and it isn’t always easy to muster the strength and enthusiasm to keep everything going. When you’re in over your head, out of sorts, and down in the dumps, here are quotes that will get back your get up and go! […]

Get Your Act Together

By on April 7, 2015

A revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I opened recently at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Yul Brynner, the great actor who devoted much of his career to The King and I, was known to prepare for each performance by trying to push down the brick wall at the back of the theater. If […]

9 Behaviors Cultivated by the Ultra-Charismatic–part 3

By on December 30, 2014

This is the last in our series in how to wow with charisma. We’ve looked at Vocal Expression of Emotion, Contagious Laughter, Expressive Face, and more. Here are three more tips to help you stand out from the crowd in a good way.     Outgoing With Strangers In a survey that Sims Wyeth & Co. conducted a […]

9 Behaviors Cultivated by the Ultra-Charismatic–part 2

By on December 16, 2014

Now, here are two $64,000 questions. First, can charisma be learned? And second, should it be learned, or is it just manipulation and phoniness? To the first question, I say, yes! I believe charisma can be learned. Just as we learn good manners–to say please and thank you in order to make ourselves more appealing […]

9 Behaviors Cultivated by the Ultra-Charismatic

By on December 3, 2014

Charisma is a set of behaviors that have nothing to do with physical beauty. This is good news for those of us who aren’t fashion models. You don’t need plastic surgery to do these things. Just practice. Here are the elements of charisma based on research done by Howard Friedman, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at […]

Show, don’t tell to be an effective speaker

By on September 9, 2014

We are animated, lively speakers in real life. Why not bring this to your next presentation?

More ways to be a rock star speaker

By on August 26, 2014

We’re looking at ways you can pump up the “AWESOME” of your presentations.  Surprisingly, we’re not scrutinizing the communication techniques of Steve Jobs–we’re looking at a guy from the 1850s named Henry Ward Beecher. It isn’t crazy.  Beecher was a rock star of a preacher whose church in Brooklyn seated 2,800. In the 1850s, he […]

How to be a rock star speaker

By on August 12, 2014

When Steve Jobs got into high gear as a speaker, many people reported that he seemed to have a reality-distortion field around him. No matter how unrealistic his claims at any given moment, people said they couldn’t help being mesmerized: his enthusiasm could suspend their disbelief. In the 1850s, there was another spellbinder not unlike […]

Find a Sense of Truth to be Persuasive

By on June 17, 2014

Another way to be a highly persuasive speaker is to be “real.”  Your audience will find you more trustworthy, and so they will be more willing to hear–and agree with–your point of view. To do this, understand what you are saying, and believe in it.  If you don’t believe in a part of your talk, […]

More Ways to Be a Highly Persuasive Speaker

By on June 3, 2014

Lately, I’ve been noticing principles that great speakers use to guide them.  I’ve talked about this before.  I like when speakers start by answering a question for the audience:  “Why is this important to me?”  I also notice when speakers find their passion for the subject, and use it to bring the ideas to life. […]

Highly Persuasive Speakers Do This

By on May 14, 2014

For a presenter, few moments are better than feeling you have the audience in the palm of your hand. And few are more painful than feeling the gulf between you and your listeners getting wider and wider. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at principles that seem to guide the great speakers I’ve seen recently, […]

Eloquence is reason set on fire

By on April 30, 2014

Every idea is an incitement… Eloquence may set fire to reason. –Oliver Wendell Holmes Gram Parsons, an extremely influential musical artist credited with helping to found country rock, was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist. He played with the Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Emmylou Harris.  Rolling Stone ranks him 87th in a list of their top 100 […]

Leadership Skills: Listening Technique

By on March 13, 2014

If you are present in a conversation or a meeting, you demonstrate your engagement by listening, responding, and then paying attention to how the other person receives your response. I have found a listening technique called Motivational Listening (ML) to be helpful in sales conversations and in difficult conversations with clients I am coaching. The […]

Executive presence in public speaking and private speaking

By on March 11, 2014

What is executive presence?  I hear that phrase a lot.  Companies want executives who can take charge and light up a room. A few thoughts. I relate presence to charisma, charm, and savoir faire. Granted, they may not be identical triplets, but they are members of the same family. Executive presence begins, but does not […]

Persuasiveness: The Power of Personality

By on February 12, 2014

Research shows that when people need help getting a job done, they’ll choose a congenial colleague over a more capable one. This tendency has big implications for every organization–and for everyone who seeks to be persuasive as a presenter. When given the choice of whom to work with, people will pick one person over another […]

Try the impossible to achieve the unusual

By on January 22, 2014

Karate masters, when breaking boards, aim not at the board, but six inches below it.  After all, they’re chopping through the board, not on it. Professional golfers, when putting, aim six inches beyond the cup. After all, what percentage of putts that are short go in? A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, right?  Tweet: If your […]

5 ways to get smarter about public speaking

By on January 8, 2014

Is one of your resolutions to improve at work?  Maybe you’d like to be more organized, more proactive, a better manager, or a more inspiring leader.  Improving your communication skills can help you improve in all of these areas. To help you meet your goals, here are five excellent books on public speaking (available on […]

Adapt to volatility

By on December 18, 2013

Weather wreaks havoc with impunity. Banks go bankrupt. 18 wheelers jump the median. Viruses leap from door knobs. The world is a volatile place. So are meeting rooms and ballrooms. Electricity goes out. Projectors break. Slide decks disappear. You drop your 3 x 5 cards and they scatter across the floor and the cards aren’t […]

Mind the Gap

By on October 23, 2013

“Stars can be trillions of light years distant from each other, but maybe nothing is so distant from anything else in this universe as the expressed thought of person A from the understanding of person B.” -Reid Buckley Reid Buckley is a renowned speaker and teacher of public speaking.  He is also the author of […]

What’s the difference between translation and interpretation?

By on October 16, 2013

Why do orchestras need conductors? Can’t the musicians play by themselves? After all, they can read music, know when to come in and when to stop. All the dynamics are written in black and white: fortissimo here, piano there.  Why do they need a guy in a monkey suit waving his arms, casting glances, and […]

Story, Story, Story!

By on September 4, 2013

We never get tired of stories.  We read them, watch them, listen to them and tell them every day of our lives.  We even tell them to ourselves. I think science has established that we are not the only creatures with language, or the only creatures that use tools, or dance.  But so far, I […]

How to control negative questioners

By on August 28, 2013

It’s not often that a business audience will go negative on you, but it happens. Here’s how to stay in control of your listeners and yourself: 1.  Prepare key messages for your talk so you can find your way back to those messages when the tough questions start making you feel lost. 2.  Listen to the question […]

The Best Way to Lose an Audience

By on August 21, 2013

In 80 BC, Cicero, the great Roman orator and statesman, set off for the Eastern Mediterranean on something like a cross between a gap year and oratory boot camp—showing, again, how he regarded oratory as a physical more than simply an intellectual craft, and one that benefited from a long and various apprenticeship: I always […]

Use the hook and eye technique

By on August 14, 2013

To make the complex clear, use the hook and eye technique. The hook and eye technique makes the object of the preceding sentence the subject of the following sentence. Don’t worry, it’s simpler than it sounds. Here’s an example: “Rupert hit the ball into the crowd. The ball landed in the palm of McKenzie’s mitt.” […]

Build a logical link

By on August 7, 2013

One technique for developing a good talk is to know what you’re trying to say, not just for the whole presentation, but for every slide. And once you’ve done that, you have to know how each slide relates to the one before it, and the one that comes next, so your logic is a clear […]

Make it more strategic

By on July 31, 2013

A client was asked by his CEO to make his presentations to the company’s Board of Directors more strategic. The client, a charming, personable guy, tended to fill his slides with evidence of all the work his department was doing. Since he had less than ten minutes to update the Board each quarter, he was […]

Lend Me Your Ears!

By on July 24, 2013

A few years ago, my wife and I took our 3-year-old daughter Georgia shopping for her Halloween costume. She wanted to be a black cat, so we got her a black leotard, white gloves, black velvet cat ears, and a cat nose with whiskers. We stopped at home to put the costume away in the […]

Presentation Pointer: Find the magic 20

By on July 15, 2013

Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) was an Italian economist who noticed that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people, and that 20% of the peapods in his garden produced 80% of the peas.  He invented the 80/20 rule, more formally known as the Pareto Principle. It’s now a common rule […]

Internal speakers bureaus make good business sense

By on July 10, 2013

A client company was preparing to deliver a one-day seminar to its major clients. Let’s call it the Acme University. “It’s time to give the sales guys a rest,” said the new VP. “Let’s show off the brainiacs who invent our products.” In a moment of brilliance, he then suggested that the firm use these people […]

Guest Blog: Good Questions Uncover Value

By on June 18, 2013

Those of you who don’t know my colleague Patricia Fripp are in for a treat.  Fripp is a former President of the National Speakers’ Association, and is a member of their prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame. Not only is she a great speaker, she is also a great coach, which is not all that common.  […]

Scientific and technical presentations: Wise Whys

By on June 4, 2013

My aunt and uncle just moved into a retirement community in New Hampshire. Going through their books, they found one my grandfather had given to my mother. The book is Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling.  “To Nancy, from Daddy, with love & Merry Christmas.  1934,” is inscribed on the inside cover.  My mother was […]

A movement becomes a racket

By on May 21, 2013

Matt Latimer, a Republican speech writer for Bush and Rumsfeld, has written a very entertaining book called Speech*Less. In it, he chronicles his misadventures as an idealist in a palace of racketeers. Here he is describing the 2008 campaign from inside Washington. …I was at a dinner party with four or five Republicans who’d been […]

Rehearsed vs. extemporaneous speaking

By on May 7, 2013

A few years ago I attended my aunt’s memorial service, where anyone was invited to say a few words.  I felt the need to tell a quick story that would remind everyone about her contagious enthusiasm for birds.  No matter the difficulties in her life, and there were many, she would practically burst with delight […]

Tips from TED: 10 Commandments of Public Speaking

By on April 24, 2013

You must know what TED Talks are.  If you do, skip the rest of this paragraph.  If you don’t, please go to www.ted.com and click on any one of the videos that you see.  Or go to one of my favorites, such as any talk given by Hans Rosling or Rory Sutherland.  I’m sure you’ll […]

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