Guest Blog by Jonathan Li, President of The Expressive Leader

The first time I spoke in front of a group, my hands were shaking and my legs were trembling.

“G-g-g-g-good morning everyone,” I stuttered my opening.  “Today I will talk about…”

This was a terrible experience, and it motivated me to overcome my fear of public speaking. I read books, I watched TED talks, and I worked with public speaking coaches.

The next time I spoke a few months later, it was to an audience of about 200 people. Yes, I was still ...

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How to project authority

I had the privilege of helping a young man with a sales presentation.  He had already been delivering it for several months on behalf of his investment firm, but he thought we could tweak it.  The slide deck introduced the firm and went on to describe an alternative strategy they used to diversify client portfolios.  The flow of information was predictable—fact-based charts demonstrating degrees of correlation with other asset classes–and while informative, I suggested that it lacked dramatic structure:  ...

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How to be a great panel moderator

There is very little drama in panelsI’d like to see panelists a bit more feisty, eager to engage in debate and debunk…but they rarely are (or do). Polite and well-mannered is more like it–don’t want to rock the boat or roil the waters. Keep it nice and tidy, which often means boring.

Paul Kedrosky and I share a friend in the private equity business who asked us to contribute to a publication called PRIVATE  EQUITY INTERNATIONAL.  ...

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Public speaking: Off the cuff is off limits

A gaffe has been described as “speaking the truth by mistake.”  Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that.  It’s more like saying what you really think at that point in time, which is different from speaking the truth.

Both the Romney and Obama camps have had occasion to point fingers.  One said poor people are dependent on the government, think of themselves as victims, and don’t pay taxes; the other characterized the rural poor as “clinging to guns and religion.”

Politics ...

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What do I do with my hands when I present?

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 ago.  I based my recommendation on the Principles of Cognitive Guidance, one of which stipulates that words and pictures that are contiguous ...

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Customizing yourself into a corner

A client I hadn’t worked with in 15 years called and asked me to work with 30 people in his new company. Naturally, I was delighted that he thought enough of our work to get in touch with me.

I proposed a two-day process for getting the work done, which he and his colleagues accepted. A week later, I got a call saying that they wanted my team to work their new sales messages into the seminar. ...

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