Personal Impact

You Don’t Need a Personality Transplant

By on January 11, 2017

I believe that scientific medical presentations need to be more dramatic. After all, doctors are talking about life and death. Yet many doctors speak like test pilots: flat as a mashed potato sandwich. It’s the culture of intrepidness, as if all medical professionals were Steady Eddies who stuff fear and face cold, hard facts with […]

Free Trait Agreements with Yourself

By on December 13, 2016

Every now and then a client says they don’t want me to change who they are.   The implication is that any “stage” behaviors I recommend that are outside their comfort zone will make them feel artificial and, therefore, less effective. I understand how they feel, so I try to focus them on the logic […]

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 […]

80/20 Rule for Public Speaking

By on October 4, 2016

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 […]

Break out of your shell and make an omelet

By on January 26, 2016

When we are anxious as presenters, we grow eggshells around us. Invisible eggshells. And we live inside them, a little scrunched up, worried about what’s outside those dangerously thin walls. At these times, remember these words: “Omelets are not made without breaking eggs.” –Robespierre “You CAN make an omelet without breaking eggs. It’s just a really bad omelet.” […]

5 excuses scientists use about presenting–and why they’ve got to change their thinking

By on January 12, 2016

I am working with a pre-clinical group in the pharmaceutical industry. They need to win approval for promising new compounds to be tested in humans, and I am helping them put together a presentation to an in-house committee. If they get the green light, the project moves forward. But if it’s not approved, it’s scrapped. This is […]

Last Friday in New Jersey: a story about stories

By on December 16, 2015

Last Friday in New Jersey I got up at 3am to take part via WebEx in a training program in London.  The program was about storytelling.  I was invited to discuss the architecture of stories, and encourage participants to tell their own personal stories. No surprise to me, one guy spoke right up and said […]

How Not to Bore an Audience (3 of 3)

By on February 10, 2015

We’re winding up our series on how to keep your listeners attentive, keep yourself energetic, and make the most of your time in the spotlight. We’ve covered 6 tips in our first two parts. Here’s the last 4: 7. Get Ready for Prime Time Rehearse. An audience doesn’t want to see you struggling to say […]

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 […]

Capture Attention–4 Ways to Get Through to Your Listeners

By on July 29, 2014

Every speaker struggles with a balance:  A talk needs to be brief enough and interesting enough to ensure an audience will hear it, but it also needs to contain all of the information that the audience needs to know. Use our pointers to gain “neck down” attention as you keep your presentation lively and informative. […]

More Ways to Capture Attention

By on July 15, 2014

In this series of posts, we’re looking at ways to capture attention and keep it. I make a distinction between “neck up” attention and “neck down” attention.  The former is when the listener has to make an effort to pay attention. The latter is the kind we’re going for here:  when the listener is riveted to […]

Ways Great Speakers Capture Attention

By on July 1, 2014

In my mind, there are two kinds of attention: neck down, and neck up. Neck-up attention is when the listener has to make an effort to pay attention. Neck-down attention is when the listener is riveted to the speaker: she can’t help but pay attention. Please note that, in our language of English, attention is […]

Find Passion to be Persuasive

By on May 20, 2014

Last week we looked at a good way to start a talk if you need to be persuasive–answer “What’s in it for me?” for your audience.  Get their attention right away, and you’ve got time and content to win them over. Here’s another way to be highly persuasive: Find the passion.  I work with a […]

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 […]

Executive Presence: Look the Part: The Camera is Always On

By on February 26, 2014

When I read that Simon Cowell, the well-known judge of American Idol, just had a baby daughter, it made me reflect on the talents he has ushered into the world. One of my favorites is Susan Boyle. Remember her? She’s got a few albums and concerts under her belt now, but watch the quick YouTube […]

Stand still when you speak

By on February 5, 2014

I just met a client, a young woman new to the work force and recently hired by a consulting firm, who had studied oratory and debating in high school. I don’t think I’ve ever had a client with similar experience in my 20 years working with speakers. She had a remarkable ability to be still […]

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 […]

Business Communication: You Are a Professional Speaker

By on September 25, 2013

If you work for a company, and your job entails public speaking, you are paid to speak. That’s right, you are a professional speaker–in the same business as Anthony Robbins, Jack Welch, and Malcolm Gladwell. Your company is paying you to make something happen when you stand up to address a group.  They are paying […]

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 […]

Intellectual Combat in the Corporate Trenches

By on March 13, 2013

In the last few weeks, I’ve been asked by two marketing support functions to help them deal more effectively with the people they serve and support. One is a market research function, the other a business intelligence group.  Both report that confrontations and debates at meetings with product teams and other senior staff are difficult […]

Guest Blog: Being Vocal Against Vocal Fry

By on February 27, 2013

I heard from several readers after my blog about vocal fry.  This response, from Eva in Portland, is a great rant–and, of course, I feel the same way. Anti-vocal-fry enthusiasts, take heart!  Our numbers are growing! From Eva in Portland: Thank you for your blog about Vocal Fry.  I found it via another one I […]

Voice and speech training: The whole voice

By on January 17, 2013

There are millions of people from all over the world and from every corner of this country working in our North American companies, and in companies all over the world–companies that use English as the global language of business. Many of the people are highly educated, highly motivated, and highly valuable human assets–to their colleagues, […]

How to be a good panelist

By on December 7, 2012

Whenever I’ve been a panelist, I start out thinking it’s easy—a no brainer—and then, as I get closer to the event, I change my mind.  I begin to realize that I will be on display for all to see and hear and that it represents an opportunity to create a positive impression and contribute to […]

Public Speaking: Reading a Script vs. Internalizing a Message

By on November 15, 2012

What are the pros and cons of reading a script to an audience, and what are the pros and cons of internalizing a message so that you don’t have to refer to a script? Positives about Reading a Script Your ideas are laid out clearly–in black and white–so that you can deliver your complete message […]

Dress for Even More Success

By on October 1, 2012

They say clothes make the man (or woman)–actually, they don’t.  They only protect the man (or woman) from making a poor first impression. But when you’re occasionally thrust into the spotlight, like my fabulous friend Jim Colby, you may need a wardrobe makeover.  Or at least a wardrobe migration from good to great. Jim manages […]

How to prepare a presentation

By on August 31, 2012

Presentation skill is a broader topic than you might think.  It goes beyond content expertise, slide design, stage presence, etc, to include how to prepare an effective presentation.  Battles are won or lost before they start, and the same can be said about presentations. It can also be said that everyone prepares their own way, […]

What do I do with my hands when I present?

By on July 20, 2012

Mike Blechar of Gartner is a powerful speaker.  He recently sent me this note after he read one of our Presentation Pointers on the subject of how to point to data on slides. It seems he has programmed his arm and hand to gesture to slides, which is something that he and I debated years […]

Presence and substance in public speaking

By on December 5, 2011

I have a speaking assignment coming up and I want to do something new. I’ve worked hard on strategy and messaging for my talk.  I have defined what I want my listeners to do.   I have crafted a few simple messages and developed evidence to convince them that my request is valid. But last […]

The Image Theory of Decision Making

By on November 28, 2011

Presentations are delivered to create results, or outcomes.  Two common desired outcomes are 1.) a decision, or 2.) a prediction.  Your presentation skills should make you more effective and efficient at achieving desired outcomes when you speak. In order to achieve your desired outcomes, you need to know the predisposition of your audience so that […]

Pausing is a presentation skill

By on March 29, 2011

“We Americans are a charitable and humane people: we have institutions devoted to every good cause from rescuing homeless cats to preventing World War III. But what have we done to promote the art of thinking? Certainly we make no room for thought in our daily lives. Suppose a man were to say to his […]

Corporate Public Speaking Course

By on January 19, 2011

Bring Presenting for Results in-house!  It offers: The chance to master your anxiety about public speaking I don’t care who you are, we all have stage fright to a certain degree, and the best way to deal with it is to do a little bit of it so that your mind realizes it’s not that […]

Cam Newton’s body language

By on January 13, 2011

In case you missed the BCS Championship Game on Monday night, or you don’t follow college football, or any sports for that matter, but you do take an interest in performance under pressure, please watch Mr. Cam Newton in action. I had never seen him play before last night, when I watched the National Championship […]

Presenters should avoid this opening phrase

By on January 5, 2011

Many presenters begin their talks like this: “I’d like to take this opportunity to talk a little bit about…” Don’t do this.  First of all, what you would like to do at that particular moment is of considerably less interest to the audience that what they are concerned about. Second, such an opening is procedural […]

An attempt to link a column of ice with presentation skills

By on December 23, 2010

On the left you see a picture of my garden hose,  the one I failed to turn off after hosing down the front porch.  The temperature dropped, the hose popped, and I now have a column of ice reminding me of my absent-mindedness. I suspect that the results we create in life are slow accretions […]

Stillness: A very cool presentation skill

By on November 22, 2010

I want to sing the praises of stillness.  I used to love, and aspire to, extravagant energy and zeal.  Arms waving, voice elevated, eyes wide open and shining with conviction. Now I enjoy stillness, a sense of calmness in a speaker.  Of course, I don’t want him or her to be calm all the time—the […]

Getting permission to coach

By on November 16, 2010

A very thoughtful client, and subscriber to our Presentation Pointers, sent me this email: I have a question – Can you offer me 1-2 tips for giving presentation feedback for senior and mid-level managers?  Examples of areas where feedback is needed – reading the slides or notes, talking too softly and refusing to use a […]

How to Raise Money from Venture Capitalists and Other Investors

By on November 4, 2010

In a recent article in Harvard Magazine, Amy Cuddy, who teaches at Harvard Business School is quoted as saying that the success of venture-capital pitches to investors apparently turns, in fact, on nonverbal factors like “how comfortable and charismatic you are.  The predictors of who actually gets the money are all about how you present […]

Welcome to the game

By on October 27, 2010

On a train to New York, I saw a man unpack a portable electric guitar, assemble it, plug earphones into it, and begin to play.  He was sitting at the window with two people packed next to him.  No one heard a sound. On the way out of the train, I asked him how long […]

Let us now praise specifics

By on June 2, 2010

We are entitled to our own opinions, but none of us is entitled to our own facts. In fact, most of us hold our opinions with little respect for facts.  For instance, when you ask a passionate partisan why she voted for her candidate, you are likely to hear slogans about small government or social injustice. Lots […]

Public Speaking: Dress for Success

By on July 18, 2008

Girls of a certain age expose their stomachs, and boys expose their underwear.  Those of us who are too old to seek this kind of social status based on sex appeal are more concerned about dressing to project power, authority, and stability. We select our clothes even more carefully when we are going to present.  […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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