Think twice about the topic and length when you present

When invited to speak or present on a topic chosen by someone else, it’s time to negotiate the topic. And when invited to speak for 45 minutes, it’s time to negotiate the length of the talk.

I was recently asked to speak on the subject of differentiation in a sales presentation. I didn’t think that was a good idea.

A company differentiates itself either through its unique products and services, its unique strategy, or perhaps its key competency.  But not ...

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Format your script as a poet would

When you’re scripting a presentation or writing a speech, try doing what Winston Churchill did, and Andrea Howe does now: write in short lines like poets do. (Andrea is the co-author of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbooka practical guide for leaders in any industry who want to earn trust quickly, consistently, and sustainably—in business and in life.)

For instance, here is the opening of a speech that Andrea composed:

Let’s take a walk together

down memory lane

to ...

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Which Costume Should You Wear?

I bristle at those who say to presenters, “Just be yourself.”  Which self?  The self that converses with my best friend’s grandmother at her dining room table, or the guy who teases his teammates and drinks beer while taking off his hockey equipment in the locker room?

What if my self lacks expressiveness, intellectual clarity, empathy for others, a sense of humor?  Should I just be me and hope for the best?

The fact is, I’m a lot of different people and ...

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Mind the Gap

“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 two wonderful books on the subject:  Sex, Power, and Pericles; and Strictly Speaking.

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Speaking Anxiety: Glossophobia

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. It comes, like all the other phobias, from the ancient Greeks, more specifically the Athenians, who spent time thinking about speech communication.

You may be more aware of this word because of this recent commercial:

The word itself comes from the Greek word for tongue (glossa) combined, of course, with the more familiar root word for fear (phobos.)

For those of you who are Jackie ...

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Scientific Presentations and the Gettysburg Address

When working on scientific and technical presentations, I am often amazed by the wonders of the science being presented and, at the same time, shocked by the speaker’s lack of awe or appreciation for the mystery and power of his own work.

It seems to me that many scientific and technical speakers take their own work for granted, as if expressing appreciation for the mysteries they’re exploring would be unprofessional.

I find this tendency to be damaging to the scientific ...

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